When I found out in May of 2017 that I was pregnant again with my second child, I knew how I wanted this birth to go immediately. I wanted a water birth. I wanted it to be intimate and I wanted to be more connected this time around. With my oldest son who’s now 8, I was young and scared. I put all my faith in the doctors who took care of me. But they didn’t. I was a textbook case. Everything that could go wrong did. So with this one? No way was I having a hospital birth.
A Transfer Birth Story
I began seeing the midwives at a local women’s clinic. As a fat woman, I feared the stigmas. But the midwife wasn’t the worst. She had her reservations that slipped through while she spoke to me, but she never made a big deal.
Halfway through my pregnancy, we transferred to an amazing oasis, Mountain Midwifery Center, in Englewood Colorado. I was blown away, everything I’d researched, everything I wanted, they did. And never once did they mention my weight. I brought it up once and they shut it down, telling me that no one who worked there would ever mention it.
This is what I wanted.
We had classes with doulas and midwives over the next coming weeks. My partner and I getting more eager as the days grew. Everything and everyone said the second is always easier. So we followed that train of thought! Fearing a quick delivery and hoping we didn’t have a kitchen floor baby. (We’d been warned this could happen, repeatedly with a second baby)
January 27th my due date came….and went. Everyone seemed so disappointed. Including myself and my partner. By the 31st I’d had my membranes swept the day before and decided I’d give acupuncture a try. The acupuncturist was incredible and kind. I left feeling relaxed and hopeful.
The next morning, February 1st I woke up at 5:00 am to real contractions, ones I was needing to breathe through. This was it! I was so excited and scared…my partner downloaded a contraction timer to keep us on track. Once 6-1-1 hit we called the midwife on call…she said she was excited but told us to labor at home for a while longer.
10:00 pm rolled around and I was in tears. The contractions were intense and constant. The midwife asked us to stop in, so she could examine me. I was only at 3 centimeters (cm). A full day of contractions and we were going home to “sleep”. My partner dozed off immediately, but I had to pee every half hour, which was causing violent contractions. February 2nd was now upon us. This has to be the day..it has to. 5:00 am again and I am being held by my partner while I am vomiting from the pain. Apologizing because of how gross I feel. Another call to the midwife and we are back at the center.
I’m only at 5 cm. At that moment I was ready to give up on my dream. Fearing I couldn’t do it anymore. But I pushed through. Laying with a peanut ball between my legs I slept for a few minutes. Tiffany my guiding light and midwife with me through this whole experience. She ran the bath water so I could get in after an hour or so of trying to sleep.
I can’t recommend the tub enough. It relieved so much pain. I labored in the tub for 3 hours. My contractions getting stronger, but not consistent and at this point, I was given a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it definitely allows you to breathe through it easier. Tiffany asked me to walk the halls a bit, hoping to get me to progress and I wasn’t going to question it. So I walked the halls, proud of myself hoping we’d made it further along…I was only at a 7. I was heartbroken but determined.
It’s now midnight, we are now into February 3rd. My contractions felt like I was being ripped apart. On all fours a nurse behind me clenching my hips and another in front of me telling me I was doing great, I felt I was in transition. My body was telling me to push, and everyone in the room got their 3rd wind. Cheering me on telling me how awesome I was….and then Tiffany checked to see where the baby was….I was only at 8cm. It’s now almost 1:00 am. I got up determined as hell to get this baby out. I got in the shower and was doing squats. Pleading with the baby to work with me. Exhausted and running on no sleep in almost 2 days, I crawled onto the bed with my partner.
Tiffany came in placed her hands on my back and told me “I am so proud of you, and I want you to know that. I also want you to know that I support you, and any choice you make.” I knew what that meant. It meant she thought it was time for the hospital. I burst into tears. My partner asked for the room. He held my face, tears running down his cheeks telling me he didn’t want me to give up, that this was all I’d wanted, he didn’t want me to regret this. I whimpered out the words “I’m just so tired, I can’t do this anymore, I’m only at 8 cm. It’s time to go” we wiped each other’s tears and everything seemed so fast.
Swedish medical center was only 3 minutes away. Tiffany and another nurse piled into my partner's car and we were walking through the hospital. I was swarmed with nurses asking me questions, immediately I had 4 bracelets wrapped around my wrist….I was definitely in a hospital.
A wonderful woman came in and placed my epidural. She was quick, efficient and kind. Minutes later I had monitors placed internally, on my unborn sons head and my uterus to monitor contractions. The doctor on-call nonchalantly talked about a c-section….I was too fragile to hear that. I stayed calm and was able to sleep for a few hours. The next morning another doctor entered the room. An older man, who has the calmest demeanor I’d experienced besides my birthing center team.
It was now 10:00 am and I was sitting at a 9 cm. They upped my Pitocin, and he went to check me, I felt a lot of pressure and he made a face, pulling his hand out covered in blood, and said: “it’s time to have a baby!” It was finally happening. 52 hours of labor and we were finally going to meet him. After a few rounds of pushing, we found out he was transverse. The doctor explained he’d like to use suction…scared to death I agreed. It was time to push again. With every push my partners face against mine, he’d thank me. Hearing him allowed me to keep going. One more round of pushing with the suction and he was out. Maxwell Snow was earthside.
It’s now 3 weeks later, and I’m still mourning the loss of the birth I wanted to have. I’ve come to terms with it, but I’m still sad. And I know that’s okay. From my birthing center experience to in the hospital, I was so lucky to have had the care I did. I may not have given birth in the exact place I wanted, but I still got to experience something a lot of women never do. 44 hours of unmedicated labor – I get to be proud of myself, proud of my body for that. I’m also grateful for epidurals, and grateful mine was done in a way I was still able to feel everything I wanted.
Moral of my story, as a plus size mom, is that you get to take your care into your own hands. Don’t settle for a doctor who makes you feel like you’re less. Don’t settle at all. Find doctors/midwives who make you feel safe.
Because in the end, you don’t get to decide how your birth will go. But you do get to decide if the people you’ve chosen for your care will listen and be your advocate.