Days after we learned our baby would be our son, we moved to a smaller community about three hours from family and wonderful friends. It meant new jobs, new place to live and new prenatal care. The move actually brought us closer to what we imagined. Our new community is home to a birth center. We knew immediately that is where we wanted our son to be born.
Here is a recap of our birth experience:
We arrived at the birth center, a converted Victorian home, at about 5:45 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 22. Soon after we arrived I got into a hot bath. The water made my belly feel lighter and before long my water broke. To me it seemed like only minutes later that I felt the need to push.
I spent hours outside the tub, pushing and pushing. Most of the time my eyes were closed and I was focused so hard I don’t remember if there was music playing. I can tell you there were two midwives, a nurse and my husband with me in the room. Each encouraged me and helped make my natural delivery possible.
For hours we could see Baby’s head. We knew there was hair. I could even feel it and see it in the mirror for about three hours before I saw that sweet face. Once I began to push I don’t remember pain, just hard work. Very hard work.
I remember receiving a second dose of antibiotics. That was my only indication we had been there a long time. Because I was Group B Strep Positive I received a dose of antibiotics when we arrived. I was told it would last for eight hours.
I remember a point when the team was concerned about Baby’s heart rate. It went low and they had me move to a new position and wear an oxygen mask for a while. The oxygen flowing to me made a lot of noise and made me feel like I couldn’t get a full breath. His heart rate rebounded and I kept pushing.
When my pelvis separated I had no idea that’s what happened. I was laying on my back on the bed. A towel was wrapped around my ankles and I held one side of the towel in each hand so I could pull my legs toward my chest in a butterfly stretch position. Suddenly I felt like something had ripped the hair off my pubic bone in a line just to the right of the center. I asked the midwives what happened, “right here,” as I touched the spot. I thought maybe something had cut me. They assured me nothing had cut me, even showing me in a mirror. One of them brought me a very cold rag that I held on my pubic bone as I kept pushing.
When Baby’s head finally made it out at 4:58 p.m. he was on my chest very quickly. I remember the midwife saying, “reach down and touch your baby.” I was overwhelmed by love, joy and relief. We had done it. We were family. Baby boy was blue – really blue – at first. After the midwives rubbed him down and cleaned out his nose and mouth he started to fuss. All fingers and toes present and accounted for. Strawberry blonde hair like his Daddy, a soft cry and a relaxed demeanor.
Even when I got up to walk for the first time I wasn’t thinking something awful had happened. I knew it hurt a lot to walk, that it was basically impossible to walk with a normal stance or stride. I had to lean on the midwife to get to the restroom but, this was my first labor. I thought it was normal to have trouble walking. (My husband and father-in-law both helped me make my way up the 27 stairs from the ground to our front door.)
We headed for the car at about 10:35 p.m. and I learned the next morning that as I was escorted to the car one of the midwives told my mother-in-law that the team was pretty sure I had separated my pelvis. SEPARATED MY PELVIS? What do you mean? They told me on Tuesday, when we took the little guy for his check up and they saw me walk. Really, they saw me hobble, taking baby steps while holding on to my husband’s shoulders. By then the adrenaline of the birth had worn off and I swear I could HEAR my bones gnash with every step.
That, it turns out, is extremely abnormal.
The earliest research I did on the term “separated pelvis” told me that about 1 in every 3,000 women sustains a serious pelvic injury during labor. It is much more common – one in 500 or so – to have the ligaments relax too much during pregnancy but for things to return to normal right after the baby is born.
It was at that appointment that I was told to get a binder and to wear it and the belt of my bathrobe tied around my hips as tightly as possible. It would heal with time. No need for an x-ray. Just give it time. And Hydrocodone.
I wore that binder and belt for eight weeks, starting Jan. 24. I used a walker to get around – both in and outside the house – for six weeks. By the end of the first six weeks my stride had adapted (SHRUNK) and I was able to get around without the help.
But I was far from healed. That, again, also is rare. In most cases, time is all it takes. The orthopedic doctors I have seen recently have said that natural healing is almost always enough, but that it stops after about eight weeks. Had I known that then, I would have sought out the orthopedic care much earlier.