Kara Evans - Birth Story
Kara Evans-Birth Story
In 2017, I was pregnant with our first child, a daughter. I wanted natural labor and did a little research on it. I spoke to my physician about hiring a doula who could encourage me through the process of labor with no drugs. In a nutshell, my physician expertly told me that I was welcome to TRY but since I had never been in labor before I didn’t know what the pain would be like. I mentioned a doula to help me navigate the unknown and again, in a nutshell, she told me I could have a doula or her as my physician. I didn’t hire a doula, which I would later come to regret in a very big way. These were huge red flags that, for several reasons, I chose to ignore. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but I should have fired my physician right then and there.
I had a routine pregnancy, except for being diagnosed with gestational diabetes around 20 weeks. My physician spent about 3 minutes discussing what foods I should avoid and prescribed a glucose monitor. I tracked my food and sugar levels for a week when my physician decided I needed medication to manage my blood sugar. My pregnancy was now considered high risk, and my physician started pushing for the need to induce labor at 39 weeks so my daughter didn’t grow too large to birth. I began receiving weekly ultrasounds to monitor my daughter’s weight and weekly non-stress tests.
At 39 weeks I had my final ultrasound, which estimated my daughter over 9 pounds. I went to the hospital to be induced. Pitocin was started and based on my family history, my physician anticipated labor to last roughly 12 hours. Despite the Pitocin being increased gradually all night long, by morning I had not progressed. My water was manually broken and my contractions started immediately. They were long and intense and the back pain was nearly unbearable. After a time, I was told I needed to stay in bed, lying on my left side. The pain was so much worse lying down. Three hours later, I had barely dilated. Discouraged, unable to walk to ease the pain, and without the encouragement of a doula, I asked for an epidural. 16 hours into labor I saw my physician for the first time since arriving at the hospital. She checked me and discovered that my daughter was posterior or “sunny side up.” This contributed to slower dilation, and the back pain, which the epidural only made worse. The only option offered to help flip the baby was a peanut ball between my knees and laying on my left side. After 21 hours of labor, the baby was still in the wrong position and I was only dilated to a 9. That’s when my physician said we needed to start thinking about a c-section. My husband advocated for 1 more hour and my physician reluctantly agreed but not before scoffing that 1 hour wouldn’t matter. Well, that 1 hour did matter and I dilated to a 10 and began pushing. Apparently, each time I would push my daughter’s heart rate would drop. I would be instructed to stop pushing and be turned again to my left side. After about 1 hour of pushing, I was told to stop, that it wasn’t working and the baby was in distress. My physician told us we needed to agree to a c-section now before it became an emergency. Terrified, exhausted, and completely ready to meet our daughter, we reluctantly agreed and my body was physically prepared for surgery.
No one prepared me for the frigid coldness of the room, that the surgical table would be tilted just enough to feel like I would slide off head first, the amount of time I would actually be lying there, the uncontrollable shaking, or even that my physical state would make me fearful to hold my daughter. No one told me that my uterus would be completely removed from my body or that sneezing would feel like an abdominal explosion. No one told me I would be terrified to poop or that I would need assistance even lowering myself onto the toilet. No one told me I would need to walk up the stairs backward or that I would be sleeping in a recliner for a week because lying flat hurt my incision. No one told me I would have to have my baby handed to me every time she needed to eat because I couldn’t bend and lift her. No one mentioned how a cesarean is major abdominal surgery and when elective it should be heavily considered. Instead, it was presented as a routine necessity, like pulling a tooth. I wasn’t prepared for the pain, the restrictions, or the recovery.
The surgery itself lasted over 90 minutes. Because I had labored for so long, my physician had to fully inspect my uterus to ensure there was no damage. During the surgery, I was given a series of drugs, including Morphine, Dilaudid, Ketamine, and a few more that I can’t remember. I spent a long time drifting in and out of a drug-induced haze. At one point, the doctor told the anesthesiologist to give me something else (apparently, I was moaning in pain) and he exclaimed he’d already given me everything he could. My daughter was born weighing 7 pounds 12 ounces. A far cry from the over 9-pound estimate my medical team used to insist upon an induction.
Three years later, at the end of 2020, I was pregnant again. The world was now a much different place and I knew I wanted a very different experience this time around. In my first birth experience, I felt robbed and traumatized. I didn’t want a repeat c-section so I spoke to my physician about a VBAC. She dismissed it immediately and told me I could find a new doctor if I was insistent upon attempting a vaginal birth. I never returned to her office.
Through much prayer, research, and trust in the Lord, I came to find Tamara of Stork Helpers and the midwives at the Cincinnati Birth Center. I never felt more at ease than when I was speaking with the compassionate women who supported me and trained me for the marathon which lye ahead.
With my new team at hand, I began working towards a Home Birth Vaginal Birth after a Cesarean (HBVBAC). Like my first pregnancy, I had gestational diabetes. However, with the education from my midwife, my diabetes was controlled through diet. This time around, there was no medicine, no painful vaginal exams, no pressure to induce, and absolutely no talk of c-section. Eight days after my guess date, I went into labor, naturally. Five hours later and with no epidural, I gave birth to a baby girl – in my bedroom. It was the most spiritual and euphoric experience. God had promised me He was in control. This birth was everything I had heard a birth could be. The contractions were painful, yes, but nothing compared to a Pitocin contraction. I listened to and trusted my body. Thinking back on my labor and delivery, it was an enjoyable experience. One that I wish I could live again. How many women can actually say that?