Baylin's Gift – A Birth Story

Reader Contribution by Antonette Vasseur
article image

Today I am 28 weeks pregnant, just entering my third trimester and expecting my third child in late July of this year. Two weeks ago today my first born turned six. Baylin’s birth story has never been written. He was born via C-section after many inductions, and failure to progress. I struggled for many years to make sense of the physical and emotional damage left from doctors who pushed labor on my body, and feeling ashamed for not educating and empowering myself on choices and options. Six years later, and over five years of being a birth doula and women centered birth advocate, I have come to a place of peace. I am now able to see his birth as a gift.

My plan for this blog is to document the rest of my pregnancy. To blog about my prenatal care from my amazing group of midwives, and let the readers follow along as I prepare for a homebirth. Before I can write about my pregnancy and other homebirth related topics, I need to write my birth stories for my first two children. Something I have never done.

I sat here staring at a blank screen for hours, trying to decide how I wanted to write this. How do I start a story that created a ripple effect for all I have done for the past six years?

I told Baylin I was going to write the story of how he was born. He asked if I would give it to him on his birthday. So I decided to write this story as a letter to him. Writing his story the way I want him to remember it. I sat down at the computer, and his birth story flowed from me.

Dear Baylin,
March 29th, six years ago, was your due date. The weather was starting to get warmer, and the trees started growing little buds. I enjoyed taking a walk everyday and letting the sun shine on my belly imagining you stretched out enjoying the warmth. I couldn’t wait to meet you. I day dreamed about holding you and nursing you.

The morning of April 4, 2006 , at 41 weeks pregnant, my water broke at home. I wasn’t having any contractions, and I didn’t feel like I was in labor, but I didn’t feel very informed about what real labor was like so we decided to go to the hospital. On the drive over I was very excited and anxious to meet you. I was also feeling scared and worried if I would be able to handle contractions, or the pain of pushing. Birth looked so scary on t.v!

We arrived at the hospital around noon. I was hooked to monitors that measured your heart rate, and one that measured the strength of my contractions. I was also given an IV. I have a big fear of needles, so I really hated this part. I didn’t like that it stayed in my hand the whole time, but I didn’t know at the time that I could have asked to not have one. Your Daddy put a towel over it so that I couldn’t see it.

The doctor told me that I was only 1 cm dilated. I thought this was great news. Contractions had not started and I was already 1 cm! Only 9 more centimeters to go! I didn’t know very much about stages of labor and how it progressed. The doctor talked to me about induction, giving me medicine to start labor. At 5:30pm I was given a medicine called Cytotech. I was not well informed about this induction medication, but all I knew was that I wanted labor to start and I wanted to hold you as soon as I could. Nothing happened. So at 10:30 pm the doctor suggested Pitocin to induce stronger contractions.

The contractions started fast and hard. They weren’t timed and were unpredictable. I struggled to find a way to manage them. Your Daddy, Grandmother, Aunt Jes and my friend Andrea helped get me up and walking the halls of the labor and delivery floor. I just wanted to stay in the bed, curled up, hoping the pain would go away. I was afraid, and that is what made labor so very painful.

The nurse suggested an epidural. It’s a pain medication that is given through a catheter that is placed in my back. I wasn’t very thrilled about getting another needle, a very large needle that stays in my back, but I was ready for some pain relief. It took the anesthesiologist three tries to get the needle in my back and to thread the catheter in my spine. Labor was not going the way I had imagined.

The epidural took away all of the pain from the contractions. I was numb from the top of my belly all the way down to my toes. I could see that the contractions were very strong and close together on the monitor, but I felt nothing more than my belly tightening. It was a relief, but I felt I was missing out on something that I should have been experiencing. My labor was not my own, but had been orchestrated by a team of birth professionals. I was not ready to handle the pain brought on by an induced labor, and was thankful for the rest an epidural gave me.

I started trembling and became very nauseous. My nurse told me that this was normal and was from the medicine in my epidural. I tried to rest, but my whole body shook too much to close my eyes.

At 4:00 am, 12 hours after they started the induction, my Doctor checked me and told me I was only 2 cm. I felt like a failure. All of these contractions and I had only dilated one cm. I was convinced that my body was not made to birth a baby. The doctor suggested a csection, and I cried. I was afraid of being awake while they cut open my belly to take you out. I skipped the class on c-sections at our childbirth education series. I thought that a c-section would never happen to me. I had imagined that I would be a warrior momma, pushing with all my might to bring you into this world. That the doctor would lift you up and announce that you were a healthy baby boy, and you would be placed on my chest and I would kiss you and smile as your father wiped the sweat from my forehead and told me how beautiful and strong I was. All that was taken away from me. I was now laying on my back in a bed, unable to move from the waist down, failing to progress, getting prepped for a c-section. The doctor told me that this was the best option. I wanted to do what was best for you. I wanted to be a good mother, making safe choices for you.

At 5:31 am, I heard you make your first cry. You took your first breath and made your first cry to the world that you had arrived. I couldn’t see you because you were behind a blue curtain. A nurse brought you to me. My hands were strapped to the table so I wasn’t able to hold you to my chest and smell you. I could only gently stroke your sweet face with the one hand the nurse let loose. You were perfect. I wanted to snuggle with you and kiss you and tell you that everything was going to be ok because I was here, and I was your Mommy. I noticed that you started to turn blue. A nurse took you away. Your Daddy stayed with me as the doctor stitched up my stomach.
An hour later I was told that they had to take you to the NICU. You had a pneumothorax, a small hole in your lungs. I wasn’t able to see or hold you for 24 hours. My nurses brought me pictures of you, and told me how much you looked like me. I couldn’t wait to hold you. I had waited so long to bring you here, and it ached to know that you weren’t safe inside me anymore. You were down the hall, in a crib, alone. The next day when I saw you in the NICU, you opened your eyes to the sound of my voice. You knew me, and I knew you.

The details of your birth made me sad for a very long time. I was sad that my body wasn’t given a chance to labor on its own. I was angry at myself for not educating and empowering myself on birth choices during my pregnancy. I felt a loss for not giving birth you to you vaginally.

Today, I am grateful for all I experienced ,for this story. I am thankful to be able to share my thoughts and feelings in this space to you. Your birth gave me life. You came to me exactly the way you were supposed to. Because of you I have helped many women bring their babies into this world feeling trusted and empowered. Some had natural births, some had epidurals, others had c-sections. One common thing echoes through all their stories:They had a voice. I helped educate these women and their partners on their birthing options. No one walked into labor unarmed. No one felt bullied into making choices that they weren’t sure about. New mother’s didn’t sit in the recovery room alone. They had my hand to hold. I helped mothers nurse their babies. I showed them how beautiful and strong they were. This was all because of you.

You were there the day your sister Evangélina was brought earthside in our home. I thank you for that moment. For all you have taught me, and all the strength and courage you gave me to bring your sister into this world on my terms.

Your birth was not only a gift to your father and I , but a gift to this world. Happy Sixth Birthday. Thank you for choosing me as your mommy.

Love, Mom