The Business of Being Born

We have two beautiful homegrown kids. We conceived normally with both and were excited to begin the journey of parenting. As most American women, I called a random OBGYN office and informed them I needed a doctor's appointment, because I had a positive pregnancy test. Everything seemed to go well with both of my pregnancies. I was healthy, the baby was healthy and there were no problems. None. Nada. Zilch. But I was ill-informed about birth and ended up with two unnecessary cesarean sections.

Before I ever got pregnant, I wish I had watched a documentary entitled "The Business of Being Born." You might have your doubts about it because it was produced by Ricki Lake, but the information I found was startling. I might have made some other choices about both of my births if I had viewed this film before I had children.

Not knowing any better, I scheduled an induction with my first pregnancy, for no other reason then to have the baby when it would be convenient for my family. Both sides of the family had flown in from out of state for the due date and my husband was going back to work the next week. Didn't it make sense to go ahead and begin labor? My kind and trusted OBGYN had offered it to me as a healthy option. I had no signs of labor starting, I wasn't past my due date and I had no complications that make it necessary to induce labor. It just seemed like a convenience I could take advantage of to ensure my first was born when everyone was there. And did I mention that I struggle with patience? I even asked my OBGYN about the link between induction and c-sections and he told me it was incidental and unlikely to occur in my case.

31 weeks pregnant with my first
If I had known the statistics I know about how induction leads to a Cesarean section, and that Lakeland Regional Medical Hospital had a 33% c-section rate, I would have thought long and hard about what I was doing.The induction was slow, painful (I elected to refuse the epidural, not knowing that an induced labor is MUCH worse then regular labor), and unsuccessful. Around 8PM the evening after my induction began, the doctor began to use terms like, "what is best for the baby." He was talking about a c-section. He presented it as an option, but to us it seemed like we had no other alternatives. The language he used implied we would be bad parents if we didn't proceed with this procedure. That was it: c-section or our son would be hurt.

First time I got to see my first child
My son in the nursery while I was recovering from the c-section.
Headed home from the hospital to recover from my c-section.

I was in the operating room at 9PM. Nervous. Scared. And no one was telling me anything. They were talking about all kinds of things, but none of them seemed to be about me or my son, that was supposedly in imminent danger. They took their time. My son was born at 10:11PM that night. Over an hour after I had been brought to the operating room and over two hours after my doctor told me either we do this invasive procedure or your son might suffer. He was born perfect, with no complication and he received a 10 on the Apgar test. He spent no time in intensive care or extended study or anything. Usually children who NEED to be delivered by c-section, I believe that this is a necessary and lifesaving procedure when done correctly, are in pretty bad shape. Not my son. We praise the Lord for a healthy boy and I recovered painfully and slowly.

33 weeks pregnant with my second

Nine months later, we found out we were pregnant again. And things were healthy and normal. This time, I was more educated and refused any intervention. I went back to the same OBGYN, still in shock that I was pregnant again. He was in favor of a VBAC, which was great. I went into labor naturally, and headed to the hospital when I was told. They strapped me down with baby monitors and IVs and the like, not allowing me to move around and labor how I was comfortable. It was frustrating and devastating. My labor promptly slowed and I knew I was headed towards another c-section.

My daughter did not descend, which seems perfectly normal to me now knowing what I know, since I was lying in a bed instead of walking to allow my hips to widen and the baby to drop. The pain of lying in a bed, unable to cope with my labor pains became too much, so I asked for an epidural. Labor slowed even more. The doctor on call told me around 8pm that  it was my fault I got an epidural and slowed my labor and that my only choice was a c-section. I asked her to leave and promptly cried. All my dreams died and we prepared for another c-section.

Several of our requests were met: I got to see them take my daughter out of my belly and she was brought to be during recovery to breastfeed. She also received a 10 on the Apgar score and spent no time in intensive care or extended observation. She was perfectly healthy.

I actually got to see them take my second out of my belly, which was my request.

Kissing my daughter for the first time.
She wasn't very happy to be out and away from Mommy.

Going home after another painful c-section.

We were now a family of four, and I had to take care of two kids while recovering from major surgery

Why do I share my story with you and what does it have to do with the documentary or Barber Basics?  I share because I hope it will change at least one person's mind about blindly following the American system for labor and delivery. I hope others will educate themselves about this huge business of delivering babies. Cesarean sections are a wonderful medical procedure that have saved many lives, but in my case, they were forced upon me. You can watch the documentary and think about the American hospital system for yourself. We can see the links in our birth stories to two unnecessary c-sections and how this has become another Barber Basic for us. We have made the decision to not have any more biological children because of the risk it would put on my body, but we encourage those around us to further investigate what choices are out there for pregnant mothers-to-be.

Very interesting information can be found in the documentary, "The Business of Being Born," like the rise in c-section rates in correspondence with doctor shift changes, the physics of what the female body actually does during labor, (something I never learned in labor classes or from my OBGYN) and the assembly-line process of labor in modern hospitals. It is well worth the watch if you ever hope to have kids or are pregnant now. It is never too late to demand the kind of labor and delivery you deserve for yourself or your wife.

Have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts!


Here is another great blog post a friend shared with me about the same topic, only from the perspective of a homebirth midwife. Click here to read it. This is my favorite quote from her blog post:

"As a parent, you will care for your child through many knee scrapes and head bumps…through fevers and coughs. Each issue you will ask yourself, “is this normal? If not, can I care for it or do we need to go to a doctor?” They fall off of their bike – do you wash their knee and put a bandage on it and send them back out? Or do you need to take them in for stitches? You know what is normal and what is not, what you are comfortable treating and when you need to go to the doctor. You don’t, however, have them ride their bikes in the parking lot of the pediatricians ‘just in case’. You use them when you have a problem that you feel is too big to handle on your own."


Making of a Masterpiece said...

Thank you for this! We induced with Gabe for 2 reasons: I had a fairly significant risk for shoulder dystocia because he was so big and also because of convenience. We impatient women...

Thankfully, my induction did not lead to a c-section, something I desperately wanted to avoid. But I was actually interested in a mid-wife and a birthing center instead of a hospital when I first became pregnant and the OBGYN sorta scared me away from it. But my nurse during delivery was a mid-wife and had the doctor never even stepped foot in the room, I would have felt completely comfortable with her delivering him. I do want another child in the future and I will definitely watch this documentary so I can be informed before that time. But I too was strapped to monitors and IV's and the like and was not allowed to get up and move around. At first, they let me unhook myself and actually go the restroom like a normal human being but then nurse change occurred and all of the sudden I wasn't even allowed to do that. I would have much rather been able to walk around, stand, bounce on a ball, etc. but nope!

Blossom said...

Hi. Am new to your blog. Thank you for posting. I am happy to hear you are planning to adopt a child in need. Yaaaayy!!!! More folks should do that.
However I am not sure where the Idea that you are uable to have anymore biological children, due to unusual stress or risk comes from. As I see it, that option is still open to your family ( I am an M.D., have delivered many babies).
Just a note for future thought, not to discourage you from the loving act of adoption.
Recommend you read the book: "Adventures in Natural Childbirth" (If you have not already done so).

Blossom said...

Thanks for the post!
Unsure why you feel you cannot have anymore of your own, but glad to hear of your loving act of adoption!
However, I see no real reason for your assumptions about having more biological children.
Are you familiar with the book: "Adventures in Natural Childbirth"?
Cheers, and God Bless!!!