Sometimes it is hard to write up birth stories. The ones that end in an empowering natural birth are often easier to write up, even if they have been long and hard. However, the births which bring the baby into Mom’s arms by a healthy, safe C-section are equally important to write about – these are sometimes the hardest ones to verbalize. Not only does Mom need time to process and make sense out of her birth experience, this process of reviewing the birth objectively is time consuming and hard for midwives as well.
This stories is to honor all Moms who give birth. Whatever the mode of birth, every birthing woman needs to be cared for, supported and loved. Here is the first of these incredible stories as narrated by one of the best martenity hospital in India:
"Talking to these incredible Moms who had their babies a week or so apart, makes us feel honored to have been there with them through their birth. Hats off to their indomitable spirit – Love you, Moms.
This is Mom’s 2nd baby with us. Birth 1 was also by C-section, after a prolonged start-stop labor of more than 4 days – that baby did not descend due to a face presentation.
Second pregnancy – we hug at Mom’s first appointment, and Mom sheds tears of joy, she (and we) are so happy that she is healthy, happy and pregnant again, and back into our care. Mom is doing everything right in her pregnancy. But, she just carries a little extra level of amniotic fluid, that’s just how her body is. This means, it is really hard for baby to settle into mom’s pelvis. By week 37, we show her all the exercises and Spinning Babies positions to help baby settle into her pelvis, and she follows it with gusto. Finally, by week 39-40, baby actually drops into her pelvis – Phew, a sigh of relief from all of us!
We know Mom carries her babies for longer, so this time, both she and her husband are super confident to let things take their own time. We have a gut feeling, that Mom’s labor will start with her bag of waters breaking, and finally past 41 weeks, it does. Some contractions, but not much. This just a high leak, and it is clear fluid, so Mom comes in to get monitored and go home. On day 3, her forewaters break with greenish meconium stained fluid leaking. By now, some more contractions are setting up. And, of course now she is at the Birth Center, so we can monitor baby a bit more carefully. Baby is good, and so is mom. With informed consent, we augment labor naturally, and over the next 24 hours, Mom will work hard to bring her baby down further. This happens, but Mom’s cervix, which is just softened and opened up (only the external opening, not the internal) to a finger tip, does not want to do anything further. 12 hours more, absolutely zero progress of dilation, descent or effacement. And, by next morning, we now have thick green meconium leaking.
As care providers we are often great at being calm, having lots of patience, using all our skills, and giving Mom and baby the best chance in the world to have a natural birth. But, we also know when that patience and skill set is really not working in the way it should, to give baby and Mom the best chance of a healthy, safe birth. And, this was one of those scenarios. At this point, baby was well. But, with labor showing zero progress, and the meconium turning thick, and with Mom having had a previous C-section, was it worth to wait much longer? If so, for what? Could we tell how long baby would be able to tolerate the further stress of labor? All pros and cons were discussed with parents. And, finally, with good informed consent, a mutual decision of going in for a repeat C-section was made.
And, Mom had her baby boy. Weighing in at 4 kg. Cuddled with him close in the minutes after birth. Nursing him right away. Being absolutely heroic, as she took it in her stride and smiled her beautiful smile each time we walked into the room to check in on her and her baby.
We wrote to her to ask her permission to write up her brave story, and here is her answer: “Sure.. you say it is my birth story. But, it is really ours. We just left ourselves in your hands.” And, with this profound statement she made a lump rise to our throat.
This story is to honor her incredible strength, courage, passion, love and everything else that was needed for her to go through not one, but 2 C-sections.
Thank you Mom & Dad, for letting us be your partner through both your births."
Here is the second birth story:
Mom and Dad have switched care to us around week 32. We tell them what we tell every couple during their first visit. How long can we wait for your baby to come? At least 2 weeks past your due date, and maybe even a bit longer if all is well with you and baby! They digest this information, both of them have done their due diligence, have taken Lamaze classes and have a spiritual leaning, and believe that they have come to the right place to birth their baby.
However, because it is almost at the end of pregnancy, they do not want to rock their family boat by telling their parents and friends that it is okay to wait past due date. The rest of the pregnancy goes off as healthy and beautiful as can be expected. Diwali comes and goes, and brings with it the added pressure of an extended friends and family circle, asking Mom how much longer is she planning to wait to have her baby? Mom’s confidence starts to ebb. She comes in for her next visit, and lets out her emotions – “No one in my community has gone beyond due date”, she says…” and if they do, they are admitted to the hospital either awaiting an induction of labor or for a planned C-section!” .. “This is really hard”, she says. Yes, it is hard. We counsel, counsel and try to answer all their questions and after a good chat and a hug, they leave looking more confident.
Week 41. No signs of labor. It is okay we say. Baby is doing super well. 41 weeks and 3 days. Doppler scan, Biophysical profile, Non-stress tests: All completely normal! Let us wait, we counsel. But, Mom is ready for a natural induction. We tell her, it will take a few days, even if her body is somewhat ready. Day 1 of induction, a little rhythm to contractions sets in. She is hopeful. By night, it peters out. Day 2, a slightly longer natural induction. Nothing. No rhythm to contractions. We tell parents, that it might be worthwhile to give her body a break, sometimes this can kick-start labor on its own. Sure, I will think about it, she says. Next day, looking stunningly pretty in a pink outfit, she shows up for a quick baby check. She is giving herself a break from induction – it is her wedding anniversary.
Following day, she comes back for more induction. After a few hours of natural methods not showing much of effect, there is loads of discussion about methods to start a medical induction. We talk about options with our back up OB as well. And we start medical induction. Some things work, some things do not. Baby is doing great through all this, and Mom is showing slow but steady signs that her body is slowly, softening and opening up for her baby. 24 hours or slow induction, and finally, her body picks up and runs with labor! Happiness initially. And then the power of labor overwhelms her. Her husband is awesome through it all. Helping, counseling, and giving fantastic labor support, being her true partner emotionally and physically. Early evening hours, she is 6 cm dilated, and her baby is sitting super low in her pelvis. She has been so strong throughout, but suddenly, she wants it over.
She cannot stand the uncertainty. She is fearful of the unknown. She is fearful that even though her baby is well now, will the baby be still well in a few more hours? She is fearful of whether she will be able to cope. We are there with her every step of the way. We answer all her questions to the best of our ability. We offer all the labor support in the world. She wants a C-section. We tell her that her baby is well, and that she will most likely have a wonderful normal delivery. We tell her, please, please go into the Water-tub.. try it for at least 10 minutes, and if you still strongly feel that you cannot do it, then you can make a decision.
But, she is done. She is repeating that all she wants is a C-section. She is teary. And, of course her husband cannot see her in that kind of stress. Neither can we. Just as important it is for us to help women make good choices to have a natural birth, it is also equally important that we support a woman’s informed choice if she really wants a C-section, and not put her through emotional trauma.
So, after counseling one last time, about pros and cons, we gather our team, and bring her in for a C-section. She births her baby – on her Birthday! At 42 weeks and 2 days. Super handsome and chubby, he is all that she has always imagined that her baby would be. Mom and Dad have tears of joy. After skin-to-skin with Mom, Dad has the baby skin-to-skin with him. Such amazing scenes of loving welcome for this baby!
2 days after baby’s birth, we sit down and talk – for almost an hour. It is hard for Mom knowing how close she came to having the natural birth of her dreams. But, she is also feeling good about all the decisions that she made in the process, and she firmly believes that this experience has made her even more stronger! We agree."
These are two tough but wonderful births. Took almost every trick in midwifery bags to get through it. This teaches us that mothers are really strong, and that babies are wonderfully resilient! Both the moms and babies are doing fine. And for the last birth, dad has written his daughter's birth story. How beautiful and touching!
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