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Stupid. Pregnant. Girl. Me.

Posted by on January 27, 2012

Paper Cutting – By Zhang Xiaohng (2002-2003)

This is your fair warning.  This post is a bit graphic, and it is not my usual lighthearted, feel good, funny stuff.  This is a true story about my first pregnancy and birth.  It is not pretty.  If you are pregnant, it might bother you.  But this experience made me who I am today and for that reason it needs to be shared.

 

Eighteen months ago I got pregnant for the second time in my life.  My husband and I had “planned” it.  I knew when I was ovulating, started taking prenatal vitamins (which I still think are a waste of money) and had even begun dreaming up baby names.  I remember taking my older son, my Monkey Boy, to a friend’s birthday party and not feeling well.  When we came home, my husband decided to go out and buy some beer, and I told him to pick up a pregnancy test.  Odd purchase, I know.  Before taking a sip of my Pacifico, I decided to take the test.  Sure enough, a slender pink line showed up next to a much darker pink line signaling that my “eggo was prego,” to quote Juno.  And just like that I was scared out of my mind; practically certain that I would end up dead as a punishment for tempting fate more than once.

Four years prior, I had been pregnant with my Monkey Boy.  I was a stupid, stupid, pregnant girl back then.  At the time, I thought pregnancy was going to be like a sitcom or reality show.  I was so caught up in the mainstream pregnancy bullshit that bombards virtually every woman with an occupied womb that I was completely distracted from the reality of pregnancy.  My list of priorities went something like this:

  1. Come up with cute baby names.
  2. Buy cute maternity clothes.
  3. Read silly book that tells you your baby is the size of a sweet potato.
  4. Watch a lot of TLC.
  5. Have a baby shower.
  6. Decorate nursery.
  7. Buy lots of cute baby clothes.
  8. Take maternity pictures.
  9. Start a scrapbook.
  10. Eat whatever the hell I want.

Yes, in the grand scheme of all that is pregnancy, I was about as deep as a kiddie pool.  But it really isn’t all that surprising looking back.  As I mentioned, there is tons of shallow pregnancy propaganda that begin sneaking their way into the hands of pregnant women at practically the point of conception.  I remember going to my first doctor’s appointment and getting a goodie bag filled with crap from tons of name brand companies just waiting to get my address to send me free formula, diaper coupons and discounted photography offers.  My view of pregnancy was skewed from being a sacred and monumental moment in my young life to instead becoming another excuse to have a credit card or indulge in personal vanity.

And boy was I vain.  I remember seeing so many images of beautiful (and I mean beautiful by Hollywood’s standards) pregnant women with small protruding bellies, skinny arms, tight asses and polished hair.  I wanted to be a pretty, pregnant girl.  I didn’t want to think about the “gross” stuff that went along with pregnancy.  I didn’t want to think about something enormous coming out of my well groomed hoo-ha.  No, I was going to have a labor like Jennifer Aniston on Friends, or Salma Hayek in Fools Rush In or even Julianne Moore in 9 Months.  Just a few quick pushes with a bit of “dew” on my brow, and I would have a beautiful baby to hold in my arms.  There was no need to delve any further into my doctor’s policies, the hospital’s policies or the typical procedures that most women endure when giving birth in a hospital.  Why would I look for anything more, anything of any real substance within an experience that I had unknowingly begun devaluing from the moment that I entered the doctor’s office?

artist unknown

The problem with stupid people is that they don’t know they are stupid.  They think that they are normal.  So when the nurse took my blood pressure at my 37 week appointment, and it was through the roof, I wasn’t smart enough to know that the fact that I had been crying about struggling to pay my doctor’s fee would have something to do with it.  When my doctor told me that I would have to be induced that day due to the potential threat of preeclampsia, I was actually excited.  He told me that babies are basically ready to come out at 37 weeks anyway. I was going to get to meet my baby three weeks early!  Hooray!  Idiot.

On the way to the hospital, my husband and I sat nervously chatting in the waiting room as I waited to be admitted.  We didn’t know what to expect, as we had never done any research into the actual birthing process other than watching A Baby Story.  You could say that we were a bit like teenagers preparing to watch an rated R movie for the first time.  We had no idea what we were in for.

They started me on Cervadil.  The nurse told me it would feel like a sharp tampon.  It did.  I had to lie in a hospital bed with monitors hooked up to me while I waited for my labor to begin.  I was then given Pitocin after a nurse decided that my cervix was soft enough to begin inducing labor.  By this time, my husband and I had called my mother to come up.  For a moment, we had actually thought about not calling anyone and surprising everyone with a photo of the baby after he was born.  Little did we know that in a matter of hours my mother would be holding my hand as I underwent an emergency c- section.

The trouble started after my epidural.  I began vomiting and the nurse decided to check me before entering a catheter.  The vomiting had caused me to pee all over the place since I could no longer control myself after the numbing effect of the epidural had taken place.  The nurse checked me and said I was about seven centimeters dilated.  Her face then sunk as she announced, “I can feel his balls.”  Me being the stupid pregnant girl didn’t understand what the big deal was.

As a woman that I didn’t know began shaving my nether regions and another woman began forcing a clipboard in my face asking me for consent, I quickly realized that feeling a baby’s balls means that the baby is breech.  A breech baby in that hospital meant having a baby via c-section.  My husband became distraught.  This never happened in the happy ending movies that we watched.  My mother agreed to go into the surgery with me.  Twenty minutes later, I had my baby boy.

Being wheeled back into my room, I thought everything was fine.  I had simply pulled an Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani, Victoria Beckham or Britney Spears.  I was too modern to push, I thought.  As my Monkey Boy began to nurse for the first time, I began to feel very sleepy.  I then felt a gush between my legs.  I mentioned it to my mother, but she told me it was normal to have some bleeding.  I continued to nurse.  I suddenly felt very weak.  I felt too weak to hold my baby.  I told my mom that something felt wrong.  At that moment, the nurse entered the room.  She checked me and ran out of the room to tell the doctor I was hemorrhaging.  I didn’t even know what that meant.

My husband told me that the room smelled like blood.  He told me about the doctor reaching into me and pulling out large, thick bloody chunks from inside me.  I remember feeling sleepy.  I told my doctor that I was very tired.  He told me to go to sleep, but I didn’t.  Everyone knows that when a person in movie feels sleepy as they are bleeding uncontrollably that they are about to die.  I decided right then and there that I would not go to sleep because I didn’t want to die.  I had only held my baby once.  I didn’t want to die and leave him motherless.

I asked my doctor if I was going to die.  He told me if I stopped bleeding that I wouldn’t.  What kind of a person says that to somebody?  He took me into the operating room and a bunch of doctors and nurses stared at me.  I felt people doing things to my body, but I am not exactly sure what was happening.  I just know that I was alone and didn’t know where my baby was.  Eventually, the bleeding stopped, but nobody would allow me to see my baby that night.

I spent that night in a hospital bed with my husband asleep on the couch next to me.  I got two blood transfusions from a nurse with a cold.  She didn’t heat up the blood before she gave me the transfusions, so my whole body shivered a lot that night.  I didn’t sleep.  The nurse gave me some medication, why I don’t know, but she told me it might make me lose control of my bowels.  I stayed up all night determine to not let that happen.  I felt I had already lost every ounce of dignity I had that day, and I wasn’t about to spend the night in my own waste.

That morning I couldn’t leave the room or see my baby until I proved that I could eat.  The nurse brought me lime gelatin.  Who the hell wants to eat lime gelatin that does not in some way contain some alcohol?  I managed to keep it down.  As they wheeled me down the hall, I saw my baby.  I know this sounds silly, but when he looked at me, he knew who I was.  He recognized me.  I felt an instant calm.  I felt at home and a little bit of peace.

I stayed in the hospital for five days.  I remember looking in the mirror after I was able to walk for the first time and not recognizing myself.  My skin looked like it belonged to a cadaver.  My knees were the size of basketballs; thick and squishy with edema.    Looking back, I guess it was the price I paid for being a stupid, pregnant girl.

When I explained this story to my doctor 18 months ago, he looked at me and said that what happened was not my fault.  He told me that my doctor should have known to do an ultrasound to determine the positioning of the baby prior to inducing me.  He told me that I should have been provided with options for my preeclampsia due to the circumstances in which my blood pressure was taken.  He told me tons of reasons as to why the shit storm that was my first birth was not my fault, but in hindsight, he was only half right.

C.D. Bank

I should have been my own advocate.  I should have done my research.  It was my body, my baby and my life.  Nobody else had as much invested in this as I did.  I’m the type of girl who won’t get her hair cut or colored without knowing the amount of time that a stylist has been doing hair.  But when it came to finding a person to handle my birth and pregnancy, I simply picked a name out of a phone book.  How stupid is that?  I let people put things into my body, make decisions about my health and cut into my body without knowing a damn thing about them.  Isn’t that some form of insanity?

So 18 months ago, it is no surprise that finding out that I was pregnant, that I had actually done it again, was about as scary to me as finding out that I had an incurable disease.  But 18 months ago, I decided to not become a stupid pregnant girl again.  I became a very smart pregnant girl.  I did my research and was lucky enough to have a pretty smooth VBAC experience.  I learned my lesson, but the sad thing is that there are many women who never do.  There are literally thousands of girls that walk into their first appointment as sponges just waiting to absorb information, but instead absorb a bunch of superficial shit and end up walking out misinformed and pregnant.  Just like I did.

If I could go back in time and talk to that stupid pregnant girl that I once was, I would tell her this:  Being pregnant and giving birth is the most important and personal experience of your life.  It is defining and can be empowering.  Pregnancy is so much greater than all the shallow shit that is used to make it into a commodity for women to buy into.  Treat it with the respect it deserves.  Research it.  Know it.  And choose the best path for you, not the path most travelled.

 

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YarnJess 6 pts

I think your story and stories like yours need to be told. So many of the birth horror stories are told in the over dramatized fashion that makes it out that all birth experiences are horrifying. While your story is horrifying on many levels, it's told in a "learn from my mistakes" way, not a "zomg! birth is awful!" way. As a first time pregnant woman, I appreciate that. At 21 I probably would've been a lot like you were. I'm 29 now and I did loads of reading about pregnancy and birth before we even started trying. Your story just confirms all the thought processes I have - know about the process and don't be afraid to question things you don't understand or that don't make sense. I've also read your other posts about your VBAC, and I love that you did stand up for yourself with your second child. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

nicolettekyle 5 pts

Great post! Somehow I ended up in the lucky position of being a bookworm who, as soon as she got pregnant, immediately read about fifteen books on the subject (I am not even exagerrating that number). But the whole health system makes it WAY too easy to remain in the dark if you aren't the type to go out and do that kind of research. I mean, I kind of expected to get some info from my doctor as well...and she didn't ever ask me one single question about any of the things I thought she might. She didn't even ask me if I'd ever been pregnant before, information which I felt was at the very least critical to this birth. I'm with you on feeling like ok these our our bodies and our experiences and we are responsible for them, but I am also totally sickened that the health care system doesn't seem to do a damn thing to support that kind of thinking and that you can so easily end up in the situation you were in, particularly with all the crap fed to us through the media these days... Anyway, thanks for sharing!

aeroangie 6 pts

I just want to let you know that I was an advocate for my body and baby and she still passed away. I read every single book and NOBODY says hey guess what your baby can die.. I'm happy to hear your baby lived. @letterstoleia aeroangie

birthblessed 5 pts

I was a stupid pregnant girl too. I read WTEWYE and followed it like it was the syllabus for a course. I didn't have insurance or money so I went on the state medicaid for pregnant women, which means that I became a lab rat for the student OBs, hereafter abbreviated SOBs..... Over 9 months I lay there and allowed the fingers of at least 12 different people into my sancity. It was only years later that I realized everything that happened in my care was dependent upon which skills the resident hadn't checked off his/her list. My firstborn was only 6 lbs and had a 13" head, but apparently the resident delivering him hadn't met her quota of episiotomies. She insisted I needed it- but somehow I later delivered babies who were over 9 lbs and had over 15" heads without cutting myself or needing stitches....

jupitersinclair 6 pts

When I think about my first pregnancy, I'm amazed at how stupid I was! I just had no idea. I was only 16 so that did have a lot to do with it (hence, the reason I now mentor with pregnant teens) .All those experiences from my first pregnancy & birth made me a wiser and better mama,though so at least we have that good to take away from the not-so-great 1st birth experiences.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

jupitersinclair I think experiences like that can both make and break you. It took me a long time to get over the fear, but when I did I grew so much as a mother and person. That is awesome that you are now paying it forward by being a mentor to young girls, by the way.

JenniferPittmanParis 7 pts

I believe this wholeheartedly. Don't let a doctor/hospital/nurse/midwife push you around. Learn what you can about Normal Natural Birth and make educated decisions about the care of yourself and your baby. There is nearly always time to ask questions about a proposed course of treatment. So glad that I've had two relatively intervention-free births. In a HOSPITAL even!

SaraSharp 9 pts

P.S. Anyone who is even contemplating having a baby in a hospital in this country should immediately go watch The Business of Being Born.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

SaraSharp Agreed. It is a great starting point.

SaraSharp 9 pts

I made the EXACT same mistake you did. I did NO research on the actual birth. I watched those stupid TLC shows. And I was completely RUN OVER by the horrendous system of hospital births. Somehow, my daughter and I made it out alive (by God's grace). Thank you for sharing your story. It serves as a very important warning to others, and it inspires me to share mine.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

SaraSharp Those TLC shows suck and should come with some sort of warning! LOL Thank you :)

AskChief 8 pts

I wanted to thank you for this post. I think that it is powerful and emotional, and it should not only be shared between women but to us men as well. My beautiful wife is having our second child any day now and regardless of how experienced one is with this process it is great to have as much intelligence from multiple sources (i.e. doctors, nurses, and personal experiences) as possible. If you are not prepared for an event plan on others preparing it their way for you (this includes us men too). If you do not know your wife's wishes, support them, or you are too macho to find the passion to be involved.... You are not ready to be a Dad. Thanks again for sharing your experience with us, and we will include this in our "intelligence gathering" to keep within our peripherals in our upcoming sacred experience.

Bonnie Norman 6 pts

You could be writing my story. I was such a stupid pregnant girl. I knew all about the stages of pregnancy, but nothing about birth. I had no idea I could question my doctor, or disagree with a decision. If I could go back in time, I'd smack that stupid pregnant girl so hard my son would feel it.

Alison Gaffney 8 pts

I absolutely love the picture by the way.

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TracyCassels 9 pts

yolandakAlison Gaffney Alison - he/she's obviously a troll. Ignore it :)

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yolandak 5 pts

Alison Gaffneyyolandak My heart breaks for women who care more about their 'experience' than the health of their child.

TracyCassels 9 pts

yolandakAlison Gaffney But she didn't care more about her experience! But to discount the effects of the experience is downright stupid.

ElsabieOrris 7 pts

yolandakAlison Gaffney OMG?! Seriously?!! yolandak you should just keep your mouth shut. You have no idea do you?

Alison Gaffney 8 pts

Thank you for your words on your birth experiences. You are a champion and not stupid. Your belief in our health system was misguided. I doubt most people have a wide grasp of all our governments systems and until we are pregnant why would we bother looking into Maternity specifically. You were given shitty care by a system that isn't interested in women's experiences or best practice or even great out comes. We spend over 50% of our Medicare on Obstetrics. Not aged care, diabeties, not disabilities, not cancer, indigenous health. On healthy women, to pay a male profession, who are over qualified in surgery and drugs, not normal orgasmic healthy births with exceptional love and care at our most powerful life event. Your story highlights consumers expectations to have exceptionally excellent care at this time in our life is not the case. As an australian I am sorry that this was your experience. As a mother I thank you for becoming informed and speaking up about your experience to empower others. All the best.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

Alison Gaffney Thank you :)

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TracyCassels 9 pts

yolandak No! Not the second time around. And the right experience matters for many. Rarely does anyone forgo "important, life saving medical treatment" for experience's sake. They may refuse epidurals or pitocin, but neither of those fall under the life saving category.

TabithaRaimerOrr 7 pts

yolandakTracyCassels

Actually, stress induced hih blood pressure is so common it has a name "white coat syndrome" and it can significantly spike blood pressure. The doctors and nurses should have also looked for protein in her urine before ordering an induction, aas well as a non stress test for the baby and possibly a magnesium drip, all before major abdominal surgery that almost killed this mother.

ElsabieOrris 7 pts

TabithaRaimerOrryolandakTracyCassels Just what I was thinking.... I had a checkup this week and the doctor took my bloodpressure right after I got up from the table after she checked the position of my baby. My blood pressure was a bit high but she knew to leave it a few minutes because something as simple as getting up from the examtable can spike your bloodpressure. She took it 5 min later and it was completely normal again..... The doctor in this case should be taken on for giving poor care to patients.

nikkigrms 8 pts

ElsabieOrrisTabithaRaimerOrryolandakTracyCassels

As an RN I must weigh in and say that YES stress can cause sky high blood pressure. Good medical practice would be to reevaluate and to observe the overall condition of the patient. Is she swollen? How does she feel over all? How do her labs look? Look at the patient not the machine! Inducing at 37 weeks for just the chance of preE is just plain reckless. Some states are even making strides to stop this practice, pulling out federal funding for hospitals who routinely induce before 39 weeks without proper medical reason. Why? Cause it's a big problem! Having an MD behind your name DOES NOT give you the right to do what ever the hell you want to your patient! But hey you didn't die right, so shut up and be happy?! What the hell is wrong with us, people wake up!! OK I'm off my soap box...

keeshiabarker 5 pts

Amazing post, thank you for sharing the story! It was a pleasure to read.

EShade 10 pts

Wow. You went through alot. Sadly I've heard many of these types of stories. I'm glad your getting the word out there. Thank you for the post.

ErinEgnor 5 pts

I am glad that i read this, and that you wrote it. Your story is exactly...exactly the same as mine up until the c-section. I was able to have my daughter vaginally - but only after a whole day of labor. She was underweight - only 4.9lbs at 37 weeks and I was so scared. She was tiny. I wasnt allowed to be with her the first night, or the next day until about 7pm because of the magnesium that i was still on to prevent seizures. It was an awful experience, not at all like one expects. I thought i would give birth, then hold my baby in my arms for hours nursing her... but that didnt happen. I do feel lucky after reading your story, because i did not have to have a c-section. I was told that i might several times but narrowly evaded that procedure. I had horrible bleeding, not as bad as yours...but close. I even fainted because i lost so much at once almost 2 weeks after the birth. Nursing was difficult as well as a result because the hospital gave my daughter formula - i hate this. My Dr. didnt catch my preeclampsia symptoms early enough - i went in several times complaining of what i now know was preeclampsia: abdminal pain, headaches, vomiting...sent home and told that it was all normal... nope.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

ErinEgnor What I learned about picking doctors from this experience is that you are almost looking for the same qualities that you would in best friend or even spouse. You want someone who will call you on your bs, encourage you when you feel timid and laugh with you about life. You want a partner, not a blind date.

mbock23 6 pts

Thank you for this!! I was also a stupid pregnant girl with #1... which led me to a birth center with #2.... which has led me to my homebirth scheduled for September with #3. You are right.. this message needs to be yelled from the mountaintops!

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

mbock23 Good luck with your September baby! :)

KimberlyOberklaus 7 pts

I just want to give you hugs. :( Your post made me cry.

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

KimberlyOberklaus Thank you :)

bethashleym 5 pts

Up until the hemorrhaging, that WAS me! I know better now, and with baby #2 I WILL have a VBAC! :)

cbplaner 16 pts moderator

bethashleym I wish you tons of success with your future VBAC. They are worth the time and energy that goes into getting them!