Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Our Attachment Parenting Journey; First Birth Story

       I was inspired to write this series of posts after describing The Baby Sleep Book and The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. William and Martha Sears, RN in the Book List post. Writing what I thought was going to be a simple book review began bringing up old memories and feelings for me from what was a very difficult time in my life. 

     Shorty after finding out that we would be having a beautiful baby boy in November 2010, we found out that Jeff would be over seas for the end of my pregnancy, possibly the birth and the first six months of Samuel’s life. We were both devastated. Instead of being excited to welcome our child into the world, I was fraught with anxiety over missing my husband, guilt over him having to miss all of the precious firsts that I would be present for and so frightened that I wouldn’t be able to care for Sam on my own. 

It's a boy!
        It was a very scary and frightening time. As I think about it, I still have a lot of anger and resentment that that sweet precious time in all of our lives was stolen. The first pregnancy and new baby as newlyweds is a once-in-a-lifetime thing that can never be replaced and we were not allowed to experience it. I had no idea what I was doing during my pregnancy. I knew I was vomiting, a lot, every day, but I didn't concern myself with learning about my pregnancy, educating myself on childbirth, infant care or what to expect after Sam was born. I thought that going to the OB for my check ups was all you were supposed to do, and I basically sailed through my pregnancy distracted over the loneliness I was experiencing with my husband so far away.  

     Thankfully Jeff was allowed to come home for three days to see Samuel come into the world. It was such a blessing at the time and such a surprise, that I knew being induced in these three days was essential to our family function. Even though I was a week before my due date and I was very unfavorable to go into labor I didn’t care. I needed my husband with me for the birth and I needed him to see Sam as a newborn before he left again. I would never chose a planned ‘premature’ induction for my family again. It took three days on pitocin for Sam to be born. It was unbelievably painful, scary and frustrating. I was confined to the bed and made to lay at an uncomfortable angle for the sake of the monitors. The nurses were rude to me, as if I were expecting the impossible and one even told me to just go home. Another said I would end up with a cesarean.  
     In the afternoon of the last day, I opted for an epidural, which I was determined not to have, but the contractions on pitocin were too much to bear. It didn’t work and took 7 attempts to place. I was also told not to use it as it would “drop [my] baby’s heart rate.” My water broke during an internal and was meconium stained, what I now know is a result of the intense contractions caused by artificial oxytocin.     A few hours later and after 30 minutes of pushing, Sam was born. Immediately after, pediatricians were called to the bedside, as well as several other nurses. I asked, frightened, if my baby was alright. I was met with that false “YUP!” and big grin that I use on family members when I have a very ill patient but have too many urgent things to do to be bothered to stop and give any explanations. I still don’t know what the term ‘punky’ describes, which was the only explanation I was given. Then the nurses took my baby away for the ‘routine hospital testing,’ first bath and circumcision that we had requested. 
Jeff co-sleeping with Sam before
we knew what it was.
     That night, when it was finally time to go to bed, the nurse told me to NOT, under any circumstances, sleep with Sam. She told me a horrible story about a baby who had fallen and gotten trapped in the side rail and died. I was encouraged to swaddle him in the hospital blanket and put him down in his artificial, plastic bassinet to sleep. I was left alone to try to breastfeed, assured that the lactation consultant would be in sometime the next day. I felt pressured to fill out the nursing log to their exact specifications, even trying to force Sam to nurse when it didn’t feel right. I was so happy that my little family was together at last, that I tried not to feel the sting of disappointment that I knew I had sacrificed the birth I wanted, that breastfeeding was not going well and I was constantly suppressing the urge to just get home where I could give him a bottle and not worry.
     The first night home was what I now know a perfectly normal night in that Sam did not stop crying all night. He would not sleep in his crib, he wouldn’t eat. Jeff and I were beside ourselves. We called the pediatrician at 3am saying certainly there was something wrong here, why was he crying so hard? Was he sick? In pain? The nurse on the other line end of the line said he was probably very hungry and to give him

a bottle. So we did. And he peacefully slept. And there ended breastfeeding. 
She also instructed us to bring him in first thing in the morning for a weight check. Which we also did. I now see how silly all of these things were. Of course he cried all night, he missed the safe warm comforts of the womb. He missed all of his needs being continually met. He was not ready to have been born but he was. We spent our last day together traveling to the pediatrician’s office for this weight check. Of course he lost weight. He was 2 days old, that’s what they are supposed to do. But we sacrificed this precious time together because we were fearful.
       In the very beginning of this well baby check, the nurse practitioner told be that after Sam was born he had a fever, and the cord had been around his neck several times, making him lethargic at birth. All of this was new information to me. Then she snapped at me words that I will never forget: “What, do you just hold him all the time? You have to put him down you know.” This was the moment I began distrusting the mainstream medical care culture and severely doubting my abilities as a mother. 

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