How Many Oz Of Formula For A 4 Month Old A Long Road Back – My Journey Through Birth Trauma

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A Long Road Back – My Journey Through Birth Trauma

My story illustrates the impact that birth trauma can have on women. On Tuesday, September 16, 1986, two weeks past his due date, my son Jeffrey was born by C-section weighing 9 pounds. 13 oz. I had started prenatal care at 22 weeks with a doctor recommended by a friend. The doctor indicated that he would support my birth plan for a natural birth with minimal interventions. My doctor was authorized to work in two hospitals. In the third trimester, my partner and I both toured. I chose a hospital with less invasive standard procedures; no IV’s or enemas and they encouraged the labor to go through.

On September 16th, shortly after midnight, my water broke. I wasn’t having contractions at that point, but I called my doctor. He said he had a patient in preterm labor at 26 weeks who needed his attention and that I needed to come to another hospital. After a quick shower, we drove to where my partner handled the paperwork while I went through their standard procedures, including an enema and inserting an IV needle.

By then I was having strong, regular contractions. I was then taken to the delivery room and put on fetal monitoring and unable to walk. Despite these interventions, I was able to manage the pain and work naturally for nine hours. My doctor checked on my progress several times, but mostly focused on his other patient. I progressed well and at 7:00 am I was 9cm.

At 9:15, when the doctor checked again, I was still 9 cm long and the baby had not descended. He said he could let me work longer, but it wouldn’t change anything; the child was too big. After nine hours of intense contractions, with my partner spending more time in the coffee shop or sleeping and lying on my back looking at the walls, I lost it and started crying. In 15 minutes I was in theater and they were inserting the spine. At this point I was so exhausted that when I was no longer in pain from the contractions, I fell asleep.

I remember very little until this afternoon. My vague memories include Jeffrey’s first cry and my ex bringing me a picture of him in the recovery room. Because he had swallowed myconium, he had to be monitored in the nursery and I couldn’t hold or breastfeed him until that evening. I couldn’t get into the room because of the c-section, and despite the sign in her prison instructing the nurses to breastfeed her on demand, she was given formula and not brought to me for hours.

At the time, I was very disappointed that I had a c-section and felt like I had somehow failed as a woman. I was also very angry with my doctor. I felt that despite having a good relationship during my pregnancy, he had failed me when I needed him the most. I was particularly angry at the tone he used with me when he suggested that a c-section was necessary. I felt that the tone of voice she used when she told me that she could let me have a longer labor but it wouldn’t do any good was teasing. I remember later comparing the experience to emotional rape.

Since my son was in daycare most of the time and my partner was at work, I was left alone in my hospital room most of the day. I cried often during my five-day hospital stay. I was also angry that the nurses had more time with my new baby than I did. I only got to see him for part of the day. I never had to keep him with me at night. Our breastfeeding experience got off to a rocky start as she was given bottles of formula against my wishes. It was as if the nurses felt they knew my child better than I did. As a new mother, I undermined my confidence.

Even after leaving the hospital, we continued to struggle. I had a slight infection at the incision. My son had a bacterial infection that caused blisters. It started on his scalp where they had inserted the monitor but soon covered the area under his thick arms. She also developed severe thrush which made breastfeeding a total nightmare. It took over two months for my sore and cracked nipples to heal. I clearly remember sitting on the couch with my son to breastfeed and crying in pain.

I finally moved on emotionally, or so I thought. I realized the truth when more than eighteen months later I found out I was pregnant again. All my old fears and feelings resurfaced. I sat and cried for hours; not because the pregnancy was unplanned or the extra strain another child would put on our finances or struggling relationship, but because I would have to endure another c-section. I started looking for alternatives and finally found a midwife who would consider a home birth. Our first prenatal visit lasted almost three hours and was more about informing about the trauma of my first birth than my physical condition.

But even my 7lb 14oz successful VBAC home birth. my daughter didn’t dampen my anger at what I thought was an unnecessary intrusion. In fact, my midwife’s casual comment that my pelvis was more than adequate caused my anger to deepen. In classic PTSD, this comment reignited all the feelings I had experienced immediately after the surgery. I tried to channel my anger constructively. I became a natural birth crusader; completing a midwifery course. I tried to find a lawyer to sue my doctor but the statute of limitations had passed.

Five years after my C-section, I often wondered about the what-ifs. What if I had stuck with my plan to deliver at another hospital with less invasive procedures? What if I had walked or stood up? What if I’m not constantly tracked? Every time I got into those so what, I got angrier or depressed. Few people truly benefit from hindsight, but I was blessed with the opportunity to resolve what would happen once and for all.

These questions were definitively answered with my second home birth. This son was considerably larger than my daughter at 8 lbs. 15 ounces, but still smaller than its older brother. I had a very short and intense labor, less than two hours. I had what many would consider a perfect natural birth. I labored up and walked through early labor. I pushed myself into a comfortable position. I had a great support person in my midwife and her assistant. I was comfortable in my home, but my son was stuck in the birth canal. My experienced midwife said her shoulder dystocia was one of the worst she had encountered in decades of practice. He felt that prayer was the only thing that saved my son. After birth, her breathing was depressed and her one-minute APGAR was barely a 4. Everything that had haunted me for five years was gone. It’s sad to say, but it was this experience that allowed me to release the anger against my doctor that I had carried for almost five years.

It was this experience that made me realize for the first time that cephalo-pelvic disproportion was not some imaginary condition used by doctors to pressure their patients into unnecessary C-sections. I think the permanent crest on the top of Jeffrey’s head where he was wedged against my pelvic floor should have shown this sooner, but it’s often easier to blame others than to take responsibility. I came to accept that my c-section was the result of overeating during pregnancy, which resulted in the baby becoming too big for my pelvis.

My emotional recovery ended over a decade later when my youngest son was born. I was planning a hospital birth with the help of a midwife. I was confident that there would be no complications with another VBAC. I stayed at home during my early labor and only went to the hospital when my labor was well advanced, the contractions were close together and so intense that I was having trouble coping with them. I was sure from my previous births that the baby would be born soon, but when I checked I was only 2 cm dilated.

The baby was breech and my intense back labor was not effectively dilating my cervix. I tried working standing up in the shower. I tried to walk. I tried lying on my side. Nothing worked. The pain was worse than any of my previous births. I knew that if I decided to have an epidural I would greatly increase my chances of having another c-section, but the pain was so intense that I decided to do it anyway. Several hours and several interventions later, I was indeed given another C-section. This time, however, I made my decision rather than anger and resentment. I was confident that I did the best for myself and my child.

Another part that was healing for me was that in the fifteen years since my first c-section, so much had changed that many of the things I hated most about the experience simply didn’t apply. When my son was born, he was brought to me to be touched before being placed in the warming bed. My partner, his mother and Jeffrey were able to touch and talk to the baby while the surgeons sewed me up. Then I was taken to rehab and reunited with my son; less than an hour after his birth. The nurses immediately helped me nurse him. Best of all, the hospital encouraged rooming of all babies. My partner even stayed with us overnight and the only time my baby was separated from us was for about 15 minutes each day for weighing.

It felt like I had come full circle. Even though the procedures were the same, I was a completely different person. I had matured. I had learned my rights and responsibilities. When faced with an unfamiliar situation, I knew the benefits and risks of all my choices and readily accepted the consequences of those choices. I was empowered by the same procedure that once scared me so emotionally that I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Part of it was because I had changed and part of it was the result of changes in the medical system.

As a mother who has had three C-sections, I sometimes get very frustrated with the natural movement of labor. Yes, the natural birth of my daughter and, despite its difficulties, even my second son were wonderful. In a way, they healed my inner woman after my first traumatic c-section, but neither was perfect. I carefully wrote and discussed detailed birth plans with my midwives and neither birth followed the plans.

Birth almost never goes according to plan. I spent five years angry and depressed for absolutely no reason. How many other women have experienced this pain that leaves a much deeper scar than a C-section? I have often wondered what would have happened if this shoulder dystocia had not occurred. Would I continue to be angry and depressed with my doctor? Will my PTSD ever fully heal? Of course, I will never know the answers to these questions. And I feel deeply for the tens of thousands of women who will never have the clear answers that fate gave me.

But my experience has led me to start offering childbirth education classes and doula services specifically for those special women and babies who choose to have a C-section. I believe that with compassionate support and care, breastfeeding rates for these families can be dramatically increased, and more importantly, we can help them heal faster, both physically and emotionally. This is my unique vision and mission; my long journey back from birth trauma.

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