Seamus Riley Potter was born on April 9th, 2002

The details of my son’s birth are somewhat sketchy for me because the medications the hospital gave me made me pass in and out of consciousness the entire time. Most of the 25 hours that I was in labor are a complete blur, like a dream.

I had a fairly normal pregnancy. I had some pretty bad heartburn throughout the third trimester that made me too nauseated to work. My doctor prescribed phenergan, which knocked me out for most of the day anytime I took it.

On April 8th, 2002 I went into the hospital with mild contractions. On the way in my husband stopped at Wendy’s and bought me something to eat so that I wouldn’t be too hungry if the hospital wouldn’t feed me. The nurse who admitted us was incredibly rude. She acted as if my nervous excitement over the impending birth of my first baby was somehow irritating. At first it seemed she was going to send us home, but finally she agreed to let me walk around the hospital to help things along.

As soon as I was in too much pain to walk, I was given a bed and a pitocin drip. I wish it had occurred to me to refuse the pitocin. It was given to me for no reason other than that it was standard, not because something about my labor caused me to actually need it.

When my husband and I had discussed medications before, I had decided not to decide. His first wife was able to go through labor without anything, and I wanted to try to do that. But I knew that I have a very low pain threshold, so I wanted the option to be there.

When I first asked for a pain killer, I was given demoral. Everything after that is blurry. Sometime while I was hazy from the demoral, a nurse started asking me if I wanted an epidural. My husband stepped in and told the nurse to wait and ask me after the first medication had worn off, so that I would be capable of making a sound decision. The nurse told him that it was none of his business.

I did eventually ask for an epidural, though I now wish I hadn’t, but at least I made the choice without the undue influence of the demoral.

The next thing that I remember is the doctor telling me to push, but I couldn’t feel the whole lower half of my body. I felt like I was trying to lift a glass just by thinking about it. I had no control over my muscles at all.

The doctor decided that he was going to try the forceps and then a c-section if that didn’t work. My husband tells me that another doctor who had been attending me wanted to wait until the epidural wore off and then have me try pushing again, but she had gone off somewhere. The nurses were trying to stall my doctor until she came back, but to no avail.

I don’t remember the doctor ever telling me why I was having a c-section. I just remember him saying that I was going to have one. I was so out of it that when a nurse asked me if my mother could come in and kiss me before I went into surgery, I told her no. I don’t remember that at all.

I don’t know if I saw my son when he was first born. I have flashes of what the operating room looked like, but only from when I first went in. I know that my husband was allowed to cut the cord. The baby had trouble breathing at first, because of being born by c-section, so they took him to a nursery for the first six hours of his life. If he’d been born naturally, he probably never would have left my room.

I am opposed to any and all “standard” shots/tests/drops that are administered to babies based on statistics rather than the baby’s actual needs. Unfortunately a PKU test is mandated by state law. It still bothers me to think that one of the first things my son felt was a needle in his heel.

Once he was finally brought to us, we did not allow him out of the room again. A nurse came and tried to take him for a bath, but we insisted that she bathe him in the room.

One of the worst things about having a c-section is that you are (or at least I was) unable to lift your baby in and out of the bassinet unassisted. Not even being able to straighten myself in the bed was as bad as not being able to pick up my son anytime I wanted.

At one point I was holding him and began to feel tired. The bed was very narrow and high above a hard floor, so I was afraid to sleep with my son in my arms. (I did co-sleep with him often after he came home.) My husband was asleep, so I pressed the call button to get a nurse to help me put him down. No one came. I pressed the button again and again. I was exhausted, scared of falling asleep, and starting to get hysterical. Finally a nurse came, some 30 – 45 minutes after I first called. She wasn’t even responding to my call, just making her rounds.

The last day that we were in the hospital, as we were getting ready to leave, my husband was holding the baby and stepped out into the hallway for a moment. A nurse came by and actually told him that he wasn’t *allowed* to hold his own son in the hallway.

Perhaps the very worst part of all of this is that I don’t have the option to do things differently this time. I called every midwife and birthing center in my city, and could only find one who was willing to do a VBAC. Her price was way too far out of our range, and our insurance will not cover it. I even had a difficult time finding a doctor who will perform a VBAC, and he insists on a epidural. If I want him to deliver my baby, I have no choice. Since it is either that or another c-section, I am having the epidural.

My second son will be born in September of 2003, and I am praying this time will be better.



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