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A Doula’s Birth…and Violation

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Many thanks to Rashella McCabe for sharing her unbelievable story with us. Rashella is a certified birth doula in the South Bend, Ind., area. Visit for more information.

With my first child,  I began having contractions approximately two weeks before my due date. Right away, I noticed the difference between these contractions and so called “Braxton Hicks” contractions. These movements were much more intense and seemed to put a rather unbearable amount of pressure on my lower back. After a few hours of watching the clock, my husband and I determined that the contractions were consistently 5 to 7 minutes apart. This was our cue to head to the hospital.

Upon arrival at the hospital, a nurse in the labor/delivery station took one look at me and remarked, “Oh, I know you are not in labor!  You’re still smiling.” Knowing that it is my nature to smile especially when I am uncomfortable, I simply began to explain how I was feeling and requested to at least be evaluated. My request was granted and I was taken to a spacious delivery room. At this point, I was told to remove my bottoms and lay in the bed, while various monitors (for the observation of my contractions as well as the baby’s heart rate) were strapped onto my belly. When this was done, we were given no information–the nurse simply left and didn’t return for more than an hour.

When the nurse finally came back, she systematically checked for dilation/effacement and then informed me that I was only a few centimeters along. This being the case I was told I could either walk around the hospital for a bit or I could continue to lay down and be monitored. At this point, I was feeling a bit antsy and beginning to wonder if I could actually handle the whole process. So, I elected to walk the halls in the hope that this exercise would provide some distraction from the pain.

After a couple of hours, my doctor finally showed up on the scene. His demeanor was unpleasant and he seemed bothered when he came in to examine me. Skipping all the formalities of “Hi! How are you doing?”, he told me to lie back so that he could check on my progress. As he was examining me, he forcefully pushed his fingers against my cervix and stated: “You’re not in labor yet! (while applying intense pressure and jabbing my cervix) Do you feel that?  (and continuing to ram his hand through my privates) Do you feel that pain? When your contractions give you that much pain, then you are in labor and you can come back to see me!”

I was so stunned by what was happening to me that I dutifully shook my head, while he was talking to (or should I say barking at) me, and failed to react to the violation that was in progress. Since then, I have thought many times about the way I should have reacted and the things that I would have liked to have said. But none-the-less, at the time my only thought was to get out of the hospital and as far away from the doctor as I could be.

For the next 24 hours, I writhed in pain and paced like a caged animal determined not to return to the hospital until birth was imminent. My contractions were on top of each other (running about 3 minutes apart and lasting 1 to 1.5 minutes each) for approximately 18 of those 24 hours, but my water had not yet ruptured and I believed (wrongly) that I was not in real labor until it did. Even though I felt that I should continue to suffer through the ordeal, my husband was not willing to allow me to continue the process. Since I did not want to have contact with the doctor that I had seen earlier, my husband decided to contact another doctor in the firm. As it turned out, this doctor was on call and told us to come in. When we got to the hospital this time, I was dilated 6 centimeters and completely effaced.

The doctor ruptured my water and encouraged me to have an epidural. With absolutely no thought or question, I gladly exchanged my pain for the long needle and intravenous tubes. Believing that the worst was over, I settled in the bed and fell asleep. However, a few hours later I was awoken and informed that the epidural had stalled my labor and that it was necessary for them to begin giving me steady doses of pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin designed to increase uterine contraction). This would have been fine and dandy, except that my body, happened to be allergic to this drug. Within minutes of administration my face, neck, arms and legs began to swell. In addition, I broke out in a stinging red rash and my blood pressure soared through the roof. So, much for easy and painless childbirth!

Over the course of  about 5 hours , the pitocin was stopped, the epidural was allowed to wear off a bit and then I completed dilation.  At 10:24 a.m. (approximately 72 hours after the process had begun) I gave birth to a baby girl. Her head was stretched out like an over-ripe avocado and her eyes were pulled so tightly that she couldn’t open them. But she was mine, and the instant that I laid eyes on her, the suffering became worth it!

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