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A Beautiful Scar

Communication Assignment By: Shanon Pruden Final

EDD: March 22, 2006 Actual Birth Date: March 15, 2006 This was my first pregnancy and birth. I will be reflecting on my birth.


Description I would like to reflect on the birth of my first child. I was young and not interested in childbirth education or breast-feeding education. I didn’t even know what information to seek out if I had wanted to learn. I really had no expectations of my labor and birth. I knew I wanted it over because it all seemed very scary and not something I could handle at all. After 39 weeks of pregnancy, I just wanted to be a mom already! (Whatever that meant…) I have had one child since this experience and it was vastly different from the one we are about to reflect on. I became pregnant seven months into a relationship with a guy I was only with for convenience. I was an irresponsible kid at 19 lived my life without aspiration. I partied a lot and finished nothing I ever started. Pregnancy was a huge wake up call for me. As soon as I found out for sure that I was pregnant my whole view on life changed. I moved across the country to be with my mom and to get away from the drugs and useless life I was leading. Unfortunately the guy who impregnated me followed me and gave me the impression that he wanted to be a part of this with me. Years later, he is out of the picture and my husband is adopting my son. He was not helpful throughout my pregnancy and caused me great amounts of unneeded stress. He never stopped partying and never tried to step up to the situation. My pregnancy was uncomplicated and pleasant. I had my cervix swept at a little over 38 weeks and I took a dose of castor oil because my OB said too. I walked so much to try and start my labor. It seemed to me like it was up to me to get my labor started and I don’t remember thinking it would happen naturally at all. My contractions started on a Tuesday afternoon and at about 7 o’clock pm I went into the hospital for the first time. I told them I was in an EXTREEM amount of pain and that I wanted relief. They told me to go home for a while and come back because I wasn’t dilated enough to be admitted. Around midnight that night I went back in and found out I hadn’t dilated any more at all. I told them I didn’t want to go home again, that I just wanted to stay. Without much explanation they gave me a shot of morphine in the bottom and a sleeping pill and sent me home. I laid in my bed next to my sons biological father (he was sound asleep) all night passing in and out of consciousness from the drugs… when I was “awake” I was contracting and when I wasn’t contracting I


was passed out. In the morning I went back in and they admitted me because I was 4 centimeters dilated. They gave me an epidural and it “kinked” in my spine. They had to give me a second one. This is where it gets fuzzy for me. I’m not sure if I had pitocin. I know I was passed out for hours after they gave me the epidural and when I woke up it was time to push. I couldn’t feel what they wanted me to do and I didn’t know “how” to push. They ended up using a vacuum (I think) to get my son out and they had to cut me to do it. He was taken from me right away and I didn’t see him for hours. I had to wait until the pain in my back went away and the feeling in my legs returned before I could get up to go see him. He was in such a rough condition that they had to stick a tube in his belly button to feed him and he was very pale. To this day I have no idea why his condition was so bad. I suspect many things… they cut the cord early. Maybe it was from all the ridiculous interventions I had. I only know that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck but I also know that this happens a lot. So why was my baby in such bad shape? We went home almost four days later. I went into birth with no intention to breast-feed but when my baby’s life was in danger I pumped for him. At one point someone very smelly and intimidating tried to convince me to nurse but my baby was so hungry I just gave him a bottle of formula. After he was out of the NICU I bottle-fed him. Feelings Throughout this birth the mood was “confusion” I had no idea what was going on, what I needed, what my baby needed or what they were doing to me. In the beginning I had a lot of anticipation. When I think back now I feel like I really could have slowed down a bit. I had decided I wanted to be done before active labor had even begun and thus set myself up for failure at a successful birth. My lack of education put our lives in danger. I was afraid of the pain of labor because I was convinced that it was unnatural. I was duped by the healthcare system providing my care what birth was something that needed to be managed. Some doctors say that a successful birth is one that ends in a healthy baby. Mine did not. I was scared. I had no idea what my body was capable of and I had no intention of finding out. I blame this on lack of education and not really having anyone in my life willing to help me learn important information. I was also very young and I know that played a huge part


in what I could or couldn’t tolerate. I had OBs at my third trimester appointments giving me all the tips to get labor started so that’s why I though I needed to do those things. I felt very violated that they gave me a shot of morphine without explaining to me what they were doing. I was afraid of the epidural but I let them give it to me anyway because I was more terrified of labor pain. Even though I was in labor, I believe I still hadn’t really grasped the fact that I was about to have a live person come out of my body. Maybe a lot of first time moms feel that way a bit. If you notice in the description part of this paper, there was only a small mention of anyone else with me. My son’s biological father was even more ignorant than I was and could have cared less what was going on with me. My mom and family were there but they weren’t really “there” for me. They weren’t supportive and they just let me go through all this stuff without offering any word of encouragement or ideas of a different approach. For a while I was angry with this, but now I realize it was my responsibility to educate myself. I failed to do that. I have a feeling that the people in my family who were with me were just as freaked out by my birth circumstances as I was. My mom was so worried about me she had no ability to think about what effects all the medical interventions were having on my baby. However, I couldn’t tell you what my son’s biological father was feeling. He just stood there the whole time. It made me so angry when our baby was taken to the NICU and he just stood there… During the pushing I felt so much FRUSTRATION because I couldn’t feel anything!! I had no idea what they were talking about when they said, “push” and I’m sure I was doing it wrong the whole time. I literally felt nothing until right after. The pain that flooded my body after the birth was so intense. I couldn’t even understand words that were being said to me I was in so much pain. I had no idea what had happened to my baby and this cause more frustration. Just after this birth experience I wasn’t even able to get a handle on what all had happened to my son or me. I had no idea what damage was done. I knew I never wanted to go through something like this ever again and at the time, to me, that meant never having another baby. But now, when I think about this birth I just feel sadness. I feel like a very special moment was taken away from me because I was so young. I wish someone had taken the time to help me learn more


about what I was going through. I have feelings of extreme dislike when I think about the doctors who were involved with my care. It was a horrifying experience all around. I never had that initial bonding with my baby and I hate that. After some time though I was able to realize that if I did have another baby it didn’t have to be like this experience at all. I feel like not breast feeding was so selfish of me. I have recently had another baby and I breast-fed him full time for almost 11 months. His development was very different from my first son’s and I could literally see how the breast-feeding helped him in every way of life. The bond I have with my second child is much stronger and deeper than that of my first and that too is a product of breast-feeding. I had no idea how much breast-feeding helped babies when I had my first son. I titled this paper “A Beautiful Scar” because birth the birth of my son was a beautiful even in my life but the birth experience has forever left a scar in my existence that I will never forget. Guilt, sadness, and shame flood my heart whenever I think about how I could have given my son a better start at life by making different choices. Actions Because I had no real goals going into this birth I can’t say that I didn’t meet them. I should have had goals. I should have been more prepared. I do feel like my actions directly relate to how much knowledge I had about the labor and birth process. I knew nothing so I was afraid of everything. I let the doctors put me on the fast labor track without a thought. I let them yank my baby out with those tools without a thought. I let them have all the control over my birth. For some reason I had no interest in connecting with other pregnant woman or seeking out a different support system than the one I had. I was new to the area and I don’t reach out to others naturally. Since I was a military dependant there wasn’t really another option for care during my pregnancy. I basically had to have my baby at the particular hospital I did and I had no choice of doctor. There were many things I could have done differently though. I could have educated myself more. This would have saved a lot of pain. I could have talked to other woman who were pregnant or who had babies. I could have more about breastfeeding. During the days following the birth my son was kept in a small NICU room just down the hall from my room. I did not sleep while he was in


there. I couldn’t… I walked back and forth from my room to his every hour or so and just stood there looking at him. He just looked at me. I barely touched him because he was so foreign to me. I just stood next to him and talked to him. He never cried. When I wasn’t standing next to him I was either trying to sleep or pumping for him. Why I didn’t just continue to pump or nurse after he was brought to me I will never know. For some reason I thought it more convenient to bottle feed… I could have changed a lot… if only I had cared more about what was going on with my body and my life! Learning From this birth I have learned that the power to have a positive, healthy birth experience is in the laboring woman’s hands. It is up to her to care enough to make the decisions that will most benefit herself and her baby. I have learned that birth is NATURAL and when you mess with it, it becomes very unnatural. Confidence is key in giving birth. A woman has to know what her body is capable of and she must know that she can do it! She was designed for birth! I have realized that birth is not a medical problem that needs to be dealt with. Women do not need to be “helped” with birth the way doctors believe they do. Women need support, encouragement, and strength to birth properly. I have learned that a laboring woman needs the care and support of someone outside her family and friends. She needs someone who is concerned for both her and the baby and someone that knows the best way to help the baby is to educate and support the mother. I have also had the displeasure of witnessing what epidurals and other widely used medical interventions do to a baby and its mother. I have learned that it is very important to have a natural birth to get the best start at motherhood with your new baby. I now know what irreversible damage can be done to a baby during birth if you let the medical team get out of hand in “helping” your birth. They are not helping by disrupting the natural process. They are greatly hurting it. Application As a Doula, I know I will need to set my feelings from this birth aside when I client wants to have an epidural or doesn’t want to learn about her birth. I know I will have to swallow my story, but I can still use it to help her in birth. I can take the feelings of being alone that I had and never let a client feel alone. I can create a better atmosphere for


birth than I had in the hopes that a client will be able to cope better and make more informed choices. I also know now how important breastfeeding is and having that initial bonding with your newborn. I hope to be able to communicate this to clients without being overbearing. It is extremely important to me as a doula that I find out what education a client already has about birth. I need to know what she knows so I can figure out how to help her find more information. I need to know what her fears are and what her goals are so I can support her through a successful birth. To me a successful birth is not just having a healthy baby but it is also supposed to be a birth a mom can remember with joyful tears at the beautiful experience she had. I want to help women have that feeling. When I got pregnant again I read everything I could get my hands on. I researched. I talked. I planned. I informed my husband of his role. I made decisions that helped me have a birth experience that was perfect and magical. I had no medications at all my second time and I was in control the whole time. I nursed my baby as soon as he was born and there were no complication. It was beautiful. My second birth was much different than this one because I placed the responsibility for my safety in the hands of God and let my body just do its job for the safety of my baby. I endured the pain for the benefit of my baby. I didn’t let them touch me with any “medical interventions� for the benefit of my baby. It was very rewarding the second time because I felt a sense of overwhelming pride that I brought my baby into the world the best and safest way I could. With my first son, however, I will always try to keep learning from the birth experience because there were so many decisions made that changed everything. I am a better mother now than I was back then. I no longer make important decision based on my needs. I make them based on the needs of my children. Summary This reflection was tough for me. I had to write about a very traumatic experience in my life, one that I have not yet fully overcome. I now realize what went wrong and how I could have stopped all the wrong that was done to me. I could have been more informed. I could have educated myself better. I could have been more open to the thoughts


of breastfeeding or letting my body be itself during birth. It is VERY hard to cope with the fact that most of the mistakes made during this labor were my fault but in some ways I choose to not take responsibility for the mistakes. It is not my fault that doctors today see birth as a “problem� and are so quick to help you fix it. What I am in control of, however, is realizing what happened then to help inform clients now! In some ways this experience was beneficial to me, like a testimony. I feel strongly about helping women become educated about birth and will be able to assist them in having the birth THEY want. This is empowering and will motivate me to be a great doula!


A Beautiful Scar-A Reflective Communication Assignment