#263 | Amanda's Good Birth Despite Abandonment, Harassment and Threats

May 1, 2024

Amanda Holden was planning a home birth with her first baby, having hired a midwife she loved. When she reached 42 weeks, her midwife terminated her care abruptly, due to Colorado state law prohibiting midwives from attending late-term home births. With a heavy heart but optimistic mindset, Amanda and her husband made the decision to birth in a hospital rather than have an unattended home birth. Using the education she had under her belt by that point, Amanda rallied herself into believing her hospital birth would go mostly according to her plan of a natural, undisturbed birth. Once in labor, she settled into her hospital bed with a pink satin eye mask over her eyes, having no idea what she was about to endure: being relentlessly badgered, labeled, patronized, and threatened throughout her labor. She declined continuous monitoring and vaginal exams and the doctors retaliated by overwhelming her with a roomful of strangers watching her laboring naked in the tub, while "reporting" her over the phone in her presence. The doctor even threatened that Amanda's baby would likely need to be airlifted on life support to another hospital as soon as she was born, and that Amanda wouldn't be able to go with her baby. Meanwhile, there was no legitimate reason to suspect the baby would need life support. At one point, the doctor even brought in a male security guard into Amanda's birth space, claiming she (the doctor) didn't feel "safe" around Amanda's husband, who simply advocated for Amanda through the birth. When it was finally time to give birth, Amanda was tricked into lying down and then forcefully put on her back against her will. She says she gave birth "feeling hated" by everyone in the room, and one nurse privately told Amanda's mother she had seen meth patients in labor treated with more respect than Amanda. When Amanda gave birth vaginally to her girl, she felt elated, and noticed every medical staff in the room stared at her and her baby with utterly joyless expressions, after all that Amanda had achieved. Amanda and her husband have been doing somatic healing to process their experience, but she is absolutely clear that the birth itself caused her no distress or discomfort. Despite all drama, Amanda's story is ultimately inspiring because of her and her husband's resolve not to succumb under truly extraordinary pressure.

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View Episode Transcript

I just remember this. So clearly my husband, very matter of factly said to the OB, actually, I think her elevated heart rate is due to the fear mongering and scare tactics that you just put her through in the bathroom. And the OB stared at him, and then just turned and left the room without saying anything to him. At this point, there were seven medical personnel in the room just to give an example of how many strangers were constantly in my space. My husband, at this point, told the nurses that I was not safe with this doctor. And just a few minutes later, the OB reenters the room with a man in uniform behind her, and she announces to the whole room that she will now be accompanied by security every time that she has to be in my room due to her not feeling safe near my husband, she brought security literally right after my husband called her out for her coercion, trying to intimidate us. And my husband stepped out of the room to speak to the guard and the OB, and he told the OB, I don't want to see you again, I want a new doctor because my wife does not feel safe with you.

I'm Cynthia Overgard, owner of HypnoBirthing of Connecticut, childbirth advocate and postpartum support specialist. And I'm Trisha Ludwig, certified nurse midwife and international board certified lactation consultant. And this is the Down To Birth Podcast. Childbirth is something we're made to do. But how do we have our safest and most satisfying experience in today's medical culture? Let's dispel the myths and get down to birth.

Hi, my name is Amanda. I'm 29 years old and a first time mom to my seven month old baby girl. I'm so grateful to be here today to share my experience of my labor and birth. I've known for years that I've wanted to give birth at home, my husband and I were so excited when we found out that I was pregnant. I had already been looking into lots of different midwives and hired her really early on and then found a doula who I connected with. And I really looked forward to experiencing birth. And the more I learned about birth, the more excited I got. And when I first started working with my midwife, she confirmed the date I gave her of the first day of my last period as they do and that was October 22. And I knew my conception date was November 2. And she gave me a due date of July 29. And I was confused by this. And by the whole formula of how this is calculated. And why why days that I'm not actually pregnant are counted. So I questioned her and she she basically gave that responsive. Oh, this is this is how it's calculated. This is how it's done. I'm like, Okay, are you sure? Like just because I know my conception date? And she's like, Nope, this is how it's done. It's all good. It's like, okay, so -

I felt the same way. I think most women feel that way when they learn how it still doesn't make sense to me to this day.

Well, I think the problem is that if she didn't explain to you that those extra 14 days are factored in, it's not like you're losing 14 days of pregnancy time when you come to the end matters at the end. And so if if in your mind, you're thinking, Well, I'm I'm not actually 43 weeks, because you forgot about the 14 days I wasn't pregnant. That's not true. It is actually factored in to the length of gestation. Okay, yep. She should have explained that. And that would be probably ease your mind a little.

Yeah, that that was just a kind of funny conversation because my whole birth story kind of hinges on this arbitrary due date on how all of that is calculated. But I had a really enjoyable healthy pregnancy. I stayed at my super active outdoors job until about eight months pregnant and then spent the end of my pregnancy just looking forward to my home water birth. And my midwife came over for the home visit and dropped off all of the pool gear and I bought an organized all of the items that she gave me on the list for the labor. And then at the 40 week mark, I remember sort of a shift in the energy in my midwife's office, where she started talking about what we can consider doing next week to move things along if I'm still pregnant. And I just started to feel a new twinge of stress and anxiety about the interventions that she was bringing up that I wasn't interested in doing. And I remember this being the very first time through my whole pregnancy that I felt worse after visiting my midwife instead of better Usually I had so look forward to seeing her and afterwards I'm walking out. I'm so happy. And I've felt stressed and worse after this visit at the 40 week mark.

Wait, so this was the 40 week visit? And can you name one or two of those interventions that rattled you that she brought up? Yes.

She called them nudges. Which has always been, that's, that's an interesting euphemism,

- we're gonna help you along is that what it meant is that we're

- just now just and I in my head, I'm like, these are manual methods of induction. These aren't nudges. So she spoke about, like, what what was she calling one of these nudges membrane sweep, fully bold. She brought up the midwives brew being really effective. So but membranes, we've been fully bold, they just surprise me, I honestly didn't even know she would do those things, we just a nudge would be like, have some sex, take a hike, just smack your puncture. Those are definitely a bit beyond nudge category.

So I'm 41 week visit came, I was still pregnant. And my midwife reiterated some of those things that we could do to kind of try to get labor going. And then she talked about what would happen if I did not go into labor in time, by the 42 week mark, which at that point was just in a couple of days, that would mean that she would end her care with me, she would have to terminate her care with me. And sorry to interrupt, but was that based on the state of Colorado and in the regulations? Did you know that in the beginning, that was based on her license in Colorado, and I have gone over this, she must have talked about this with me when I hired her, it must be in the contract. But I did not think about it just did not even think it was a possibility. So it's like I'm sure it was, it's in there. But it wasn't a serious discussion in the beginning where it's like, this is serious. If you pass this date, I have to drop you. So had not even planned on what we would really do. And then all of a sudden, I'm 41 Plus, and she's talking about if I don't go into labor, she will have to terminate her care with me. And so the 41st week, I was really stressed out. And it was so hard because I knew I didn't want to be stressed out. I knew it's like that's not going to help get labor going. But I was I felt so much pressure and anxiety.

It's It is unbelievable that that's a law in so many states. It's a horrible thing to do to a woman, that they put midwives in this position that they have to drop them I at least feel like why can't the midwives in those cases say listen between us if they don't budge the due date, which would also be helpful. But why don't they just say, at a minimum, I will stay with you and be with you as your doula at your birth. If you end up in a hospital or wherever you go, I'm staying with you. But just the notion of dropping you and like Sorry, good luck. We did our best. It's like that you're leaving her in the most important moment right before having her baby with that kind of stress. I just I can't believe I believe the law has done it to women, I can't believe midwives actually do leave them. And some do some we've heard from a woman who didn't even hear from her midwife after the birth, she didn't even check on her.

This is a really important question for mothers who are planning home births and who do have this restriction by state that you should ask the midwife in the beginning it should be a really significant conversation to ensure that she will remain caring for you, not in the midwife role, but in the doula role, or in some sort of support role and maintain that continuity of care. It just want women to know that that's an important question to ask in the beginning. And she told me that she would attend my birth if I decided on the morning of the 42nd week, if I decided to walk into the hospital, not in labor and start the induction process that she would be there with me to start that whole deal.

Not if you went into labor spontaneously, she wouldn't know because she didn't want to be going to the hospital. If you were beyond 42 weeks if you if she was saying if you didn't agree to an induction you let yourself spontaneously go into labor at 42 and five, she wasn't going to be part of that. Yes, but that puts the client in a terrible position because she has her midwife on one hand but with induction or she loses her midwife. On the other hand, it's terrible. I don't remember same way she would make that her policy, either if she can be with you in the hospital, then she should just be with you in the hospital.

Yeah. I hate that. That's what I was feeling during my final days pregnant that I was stressed and trying to decide what we were going to do and just hoping that I was going to go into labor. But I journaled a lot, I read a lot, I spent time with my husband, and I just continued to just put all of my trust in my body and my baby and just knew that I was going to go into labor when my baby was truly ready. So after a long week, and no labor, the 42 week, Mark arrived, and my midwife came over to my house and I signed a termination of care form. And it was horrible. And what was that, like? I had spent so much time with her. We had you spend an hour or more with your midwife at least once a month. And then as you get closer, it's every two weeks, and then once a week. So I felt so close to her. I had a relationship with her. I loved her, and I trusted her. I pictured her being at my birth. So I was heartbroken. It felt like yep, she was she was breaking up with me. And I just had not imagined that happening. You also no longer know what to picture for your birth, you had envisioned your birth with her. And suddenly, you don't know what to envision anymore.

Exactly. I and I didn't, I I remember just that day, searching online, the day she ended her care with me, I started searching online, trying to find a midwife, possibly a traditional midwife that is not licensed, someone who would come attend my birth and just be in my home with me. And I wanted to experience birth on my own. But that didn't mean I wanted to be all alone, to give birth. And it felt like I was having to make this decision of go to the hospital, or be alone and stay at home and give birth. So it was really hard. And I couldn't find anyone who would be me after passing 42 weeks and birth centers would also not take me after 42 weeks. And I felt like my back was sort of against the wall. So I made the decision with my husband to go to the hospital to give birth when it was time. And we felt somewhat confident still, even though that was not obviously my first choice at all. But we had done research on interventions, I was very familiar with a cascade of interventions that can happen, and just how that can sort of how that happens when you go into the hospital. So I updated my doula and wrote up a short, simple birth plan and pack my hospital bag and I just tried to switch gears and just be flexible and just okay, it's, it's still going to be fine. It's going to be great. Just kept doing my thing until Labor happened. And I was feeling my baby move like normal people were treating me like I was a ticking time bomb after my midwife ended her care with me. And so I wasn't seeing anyone.

How long was this? How long was the timeframe between when she ended your care and when you went into labor and I assume that you had no prenatal care at that point. It was five days after she ended her care with me that I went into spontaneous labor at home. And I labored on my birth ball and in my closet and in the bath and labored all day at home and overnight. And my surgeries were a little odd. They were really long and not really letting up. And I don't know if that was just baby trying to get into a more optimal position or, or what but either way, I didn't sleep that night and I wasn't really sipping water or snacking like I had imagined I would be doing in early labor. The next morning my husband was sort of trying to time my searches and then he was in contact with my doula and they made the decision. Okay, I think it's time to go to the hospital. So I put on my I had a pink silky I cover that I brought with me and I put that on as we left the house just to try to protect my zone and block out the interruptions during that massive intervention of leaving my house. And we pulled up to the hospital my doula was waiting for us and went into that first little room to get checked in and we gave the nurse my 50 Plus page packet of pregnancy history because I had never been to this hospital before. And that had all my healthy lab blood work and blood pressures and baby's heartbeat and just everything from my midwife. My husband started to explain to the nurse that I'm currently in labor. I've been in labor since yesterday. And the nurse asked my due date and he said July 29. And she looked really confused because it was currently August 18. So She'll torrified. And she seemed really confused by every answer that my husband, she was thinking one thing Who let you go this long? Yep. Who let you? You know, that's what she's allowed you. How did this happen? Yes, she was they get so accustomed to their inductions that they really forget what it looks like when women go into labor spontaneously, but in the life of a home birth midwife, especially those who don't induce and don't do all these little so called nudges. They commonly see women go past 42 weeks, very commonly, yes, but in the medical system, they very rarely see it. So she went and got the OB, and the doctor comes in, and he's hard to describe he, he was like a caricature of the worst OB that you could possibly imagine. Like, right off the bat when he came in. He was argumentative, and aggressive and loud. And I could just feel myself just clenching up, and I kept my eye mask on, and I remember him, like scolding me, like I was a child. Okay, so you're like, what? Already three weeks pregnant now, you are way past due. So why haven't you come into the hospital when your midwife ended her care with you? Why haven't you come in for any medical monitoring of your baby? Why did you allow yourself to go to 43 weeks? You don't even want to be here, right? You wanted to homebirth that one I vividly remember you don't even want to be here. You wanted to homebirth he was just badgering me. And that prejudice of the homebirth. Ladies transferring to the hospital that was in full force. I know you guys have talked about that in Episodes past. And I felt it.

And we labeled you were labeled. And everybody on the floor knew it. Yes.

So I, I spoke as minimally as I could to him just again, allowing my husband to interact with him more, because I was terrified of him. And he told me that I needed to do lab work and get hooked up to continuous fetal monitoring and get on Pitocin right away. And I declined all of these saying that I'll be participating in intermittent fetal monitoring. And I don't want Pitocin I'm already having surges. And I also had already done lab bloodwork recently with my midwife, which all came back normal. And he was not taking what I said, seriously, he just kept arguing, he was really pushing for Pitocin and continuous monitoring. Eventually, I walked to my room, and I reluctantly agreed to get some IV fluids that my husband recommended, which it did help. But I was reluctant to do that, because I didn't want them to have access to my veins. Which is odd, because it's like you're in a hospital, you should have this trust. But I know that Pitocin has given without women's consent, and it happens a lot. And they were already wanting me to get on Pitocin. So I was worried. And my husband assured me he's like, I'm going to look at the bag, I'm going to take a picture and I'm going to watch them. We'll just do this one, get you hydrated. And I will watch so I I agreed to that. They asked me to get in a hospital gown. And I said no, I'll just wear my robe. I'll stay comfy. And at this point, my mom arrived. So it was my husband, my doula and my mom, I decided to participate in a cervical check to know where I was at. And the nurse that I was at four centimeters, this is another thing that looking back, it's just like, keep strangers out of you. We don't need to do that. So four centimeters, and I started participating in intermittent monitoring. Baby sounded great. And after that first cervical check this OB kept coming in telling me that he wanted to do more vaginal exams, and he needed to know my progress. And I had to decline over and over and he seemed more aggravated, the more I would decline, and he just wouldn't take my no for an answer. If he could have coerced you into it. If he could have done it any way you would have. But he knew he couldn't. He knew you knew your rights. I think that's what happened there.

And he kept talking about the need for continuous monitoring. And at one point, he reenters my room and again tells me he needs to check my cervix. I again told him no. And then I with my I have her on felt him step closer into my space, I could tell that he was coming at me. And so I pulled my cover up to look at him and he had raised his voice as he was coming closer to me. And he was arguing for the need for a check. And he doesn't know anything right now because of me. And in this moment my husband stepped in between myself and the doctor and He told him to leave the room. And the doctor said something like, No, this is my hospital, she can speak, she can speak for herself. And my husband continued to argue with him until he was able to get the doctor to step out into the hallway with him, he did know something and he didn't know enough, you knew that your baby was okay. Because your baby was being monitored. And he knew that you were okay. Because I'm sure you had your blood pressure checked, and I'm sure you looked fine, and you were doing fine. So his need to know more information was just his need, and really had nothing to do with the well being of you and your baby. Well, he worked his ego on his sleeve to begin with, this is all the work of his ego in the first place. Because you're you're right, Trisha, it's a good point, if he had the slightest thing he could have gone with, he would have, he would have used that against her. And he couldn't, because there was no indication of anything being wrong. But he really let his ego hang out there when he said, This is my hospital. It's not his hospital. That's your space when you're in that room.

And my husband, when he stepped out in the hallway, he said, We need a new doctor, because I am not safe with this doctor. And we were at some point told that, well, this is the only OB that's currently available. But we still expected to eventually get a new doctor, we knew not immediately if There literally is not another one at the hospital at the moment, but throughout my labor, we thought we would get another one because we fired this man. And we never did the shift change the next day is how we got a new doctor. Something interesting that I found in my medical records after the birth, which I recommend, if you give birth in the hospital, get your medical records. I have mine and something I found in there was that on the first day at the hospital, just a few hours into being at this hospital. This will be contacted the hospital ethics committee, and had a consultation with them over the phone. And the note on the report reads, Amanda's case was reviewed by the ethics consultation, patient declining standard cares. fetal monitoring, there is a concern for fetus. And then in direct quotes, like the OB said this directly over the phone. When does the health and welfare of the unborn child override the mother's decisions regarding fetal cares?

That's unbelievable. So he misled them? And what verdict did they come up with after that conversation?

The outcome that's written on that report says konsult consistent with similar recent cases, if patient has medical decisional capacity she does, then she has autonomy of decision making regarding fetal cares physician was was encouraged to continue to explain benefits of the standard fetal cares as being beneficial to both the fetus and the mother.

And of course, let's also point out again, that there was no indication that there was any deviation from normal with the fetus. So a whole lot of nonsense. He just didn't like your behavior. He didn't like dealing with your behavior he didn't like he didn't know how to deal with your behavior. And so he was trying to find every way he could to justify his behavior.

Yeah, and I'm not familiar with ethics committees of hospitals. So when I saw that, to me on it looks like on paper that he was trying to find some way to literally override my ability to make my own decisions for myself and my baby. So that's horrifying. It also seemed like, but covering measure so that if something did go wrong with baby, he could say, Well, look, I I was trying to get her to do these things. And she was refusing.

Both of those things are true. I think he was trying to get their blessing to go ahead and do whatever had to be done in his words. I mean, he said, at what point does the health of the I'm gonna say baby matter? But if they had said something like, you know, do what you need to do, he would have really overwritten you and he would have felt he had the backing of the hospital and their legal team. I think that's what he was looking to do. I don't think he was covering himself so much as looking for the backing to coerce you, that sort of thing. Like, yeah, well also it it does provide coverage for him. If something did go wrong, he would always be able to go back and say, Look, I tried.

So as you guys can imagine my labor paused with all this commotion of how unsafe I felt with this doctor, and at some point there was the shift change, and I just remember, kind of resting in the room and this really loud, perky, new female OB came in and introduced herself and I had A glimmer of hope that this new doctor was going to be different. That guy's done with his shift. I, overnight had done a check and was at six centimeters. And then with this new OB, I did a third and final check and was told I was at nine and a half. And yeah, 10 out of 10. I do not recommend cervical checks. It was very aggressive. It felt like she was trying to break my water bag, which a nurse friend has told me that that might be something they try to do sometimes.

Yes, yes, that is something that they do. Sometimes you could feel it. So they were like, quote checking you. And you could feel them trying to disrupt the bag. That's unbelievable. We've talked about this on the podcast, and I know that it's happened to clients of mine. Yeah, and you could feel them doing that. So did did they succeed at rupturing your membranes? They did not.

Yeah, we know. But just the more I've thought about that, because I had to prior it kind of it was uncomfortable, but it was quick. And this third one with this new OB was just felt like it lasted so long and just felt so aggressive, where it's just like, Get out of there, like what are you trying to do? That was the last one I did also being at nine and a half centimeters. It's like, okay, I'm progressing. Like everything. Okay, but I've, I've thought about that afterwards. Like, was she trying to break my daughter? I just remember she said, Okay, you're at nine and a half. And I don't I don't remember there being much after that. But that was really early in the morning. And I was resting laying on my side, and my mom was being my big spoon behind me on the bed. And then all of a sudden, my water is released. And that was pretty cool. And the fluid had like the slightest tinge of light green. Nothing alarming to me or my doula, or, but we just looked like Oh, my water is released. Awesome. And a little bit later, I was standing up and I was standing on a map and swaying my hips around. And my doula was giving me those glorious hip squeezes. And I remember seeing a few little drops of blood on the mat that I was standing on. And another thing that we were just not concerned about, and the new doctor, she came in, and she was wanting to do another cervical check, and I declined. And she kept pushing for getting me on continuous monitoring. And I remember her throwing her hands up and saying, like, I don't know anything, because you won't let me check you. And still just lots of blaming me. And they just could not bear that I wasn't allowing them to check me every 30 minutes, like maybe they're used to. And she was speaking so disrespectfully to me that next she said, I mean, can I at least check your blood pressure? In that moment? I hadn't. I had no problem with my blood pressure being checked. But she was being so disrespectful that I said, No. And I said,

just wanted to win some point. Well, if you won't let me check your cervix, Can I at least check your blood pressure? What is that all about? Let me because thing, stop saying no to me say yes to something. It's written their, their their philosophy of care, their management of care is based on data. It's based on looking at data points, and then making clinical decisions. And they truly do not know how to sit back and just let a body be. And so it's extremely uncomfortable for them. It's so Yeah, can I at least get a blood pressure and then I'll feel like I'm doing something.

So I declined that. Just because she was so rude to me that it's like I'm not, I don't need to do this right now. So I told her I need a few minutes, just where literally, no one is bothering me. So I went and sat in the bathroom for a couple of minutes with my doula. Through this whole experience. The staff never respected my right to informed refusal or my space, my room, my labor and my searches. It was like they just were relentlessly pushing me and harassing me in hopes that eventually I would need them to do something to me. At one point, the OB came back in the room wanting to do another cervical check. And I said no. And when I said no, she said, Okay, well, your cervix may be swollen, that's something that could have happened. And I'm also concerned about this blood on the mat. Have you been trying to push and I said no. And I also told her that I was happy being at nine and a half centimeters at the last check and I do not want any more checks. And she said, until you let me check you I won't know what's going on. your cervix could be swollen then it could be bleeding. Now, if you don't want any further cervical checks and you won't get on Pitocin, then the only option at that point will be for them to give you a C section at 9am. Tomorrow at the shift change, do you understand? And I responded immediately just, I didn't think about it, I just responded, I understand that their only option. And I was just implying that a C section is not my only option, just because you guys have a shift change. And she just kind of scoffed. And she said, I don't think you understand. In other words, if you don't do any further checks, or get on Pitocin AC section is your only option tomorrow if you haven't progressed. And at that point, my mom stepped in. And she just reiterated that I had declined a check at that time and just attempted to get her to back off. And labor is just so interesting now that I've experienced it because you are not in your normal, logical brain like you're used to. So looking back, it's easy to think, oh, I should have said this. Or I could have done that. Or why did I do this. But I was not my normal self. I was just depleted and vulnerable and just focused on remaining in Word and protecting my baby. It was like in each moment, my husband and I were just trying to process what was happening. It was like one shocking encounter after another. And we didn't realize in the moment that it was just going to keep getting worse and worse. So after this interaction, my mom and my doula both left for a few hours because they had both been with me overnight. And I had agreed to a 20 minute reading of continuous monitoring baby still sounded great. And with my mom and doula leaving for a bit, I was going to attempt to make the bathroom, my private space for a little bit because the entire time my labor, my room was not my space. So I told the nurse to help me take these monitors off, and I'm gonna go take a bath. And this nurse was the only nurse of my entire labor who was respectful and gentle with me. And she told me, she had no concerns of me getting into the bath and my husband and I went in there and we dim the lights. And we put up some little battery candles that I had brought and turned on my labor music. This was the first and kind of only time that I had sort of been able to make that space mine. My labor started to kick back up. And my husband was giving me really good counter pressure, like on my back where I could feel baby like moving down and just kind of pushing into me and I started having really powerful, satisfying, pushy searches. And that respectful nurse would come in every 15 minutes. And she'd put her Doppler in the water and get a reading on baby and she would just whispered to me, baby sounds great. You're doing great. And this is like the only time that I felt relatively safe. And I just remember thinking to myself, like please just give birth to her right now in the water while the OB is away. Just hoping it wouldn't happen. Then that nice nurses shift ended. And my mom and doula we're still gone. We heard the OB reenter my room, and I sent my husband out to go talk to her. And he came back in telling me, she wants to do another cervical check. And I said, Go tell her I decline. And when he did, she said she needed to hear it from her patient, which my husband had requested a consent form so that he could literally speak for me because they were disregarding him so much, but they never gave him one. They just continued to ignore and disrespect him. So I told him, bring her in. So I can tell her no, but she already left. So we just kept doing our thing. Then a few minutes later, I heard her reenter my room and my husband open the bathroom door and I was expecting to just be declining a check. And she started talking really loudly. And my husband interrupted her and said, Can you speak softly? She's really trying to focus as I'm leaning forward, naked in the bathtub, just having these really good surges. And she just completely spoke over him not acknowledging him, and she said, I want to introduce you to the team for the day. I genuinely wanted to meet the new staff that I'd be working with. So I pulled up my eye cover onto my forehead and I looked up and as I looked up, I said hi team, and I realized this doctor has five strangers with her and she's holding a phone by her face like she's speaking to someone on the phone. And she was she had someone on speakerphone and my husband was still sitting on the floor and Next to the bathtub next to me and I was sitting in the tub naked with now seven strangers surrounding me. And the doctor started speaking not to me but to the person on speakerphone, who was apparently another doctor, and the OB said, Doctor, I have Amanda here who is 43 Weeks Pregnant post term and Oh, in the bathtub after her water has already broken. And then she just points the phone down at me. And this woman on the phone started speaking to me about the risks of being post term, and the risks of being in the tub after my water is released and meconium aspiration and the need for cervical checks and continuous monitoring and the potential and high chance of stillbirth. And all I could hear in that moment was stillbirth stillborn resuscitation. I realized in this moment that these people are not here to simply meet me and introduce themselves for the shift change. And when the phone doctor was finished, patronizing me then another stranger, knelt down by the tub, and she felt just like inches from my face. And I just faced straight ahead in the dark. And she told me that she was a neonatologist. And she started describing all of the instruments and the equipment that they're going to be bringing into the room for my delivery, whenever it's time, due to the high risk of critical illness for my baby. And then she told me the name of the children's hospital where my baby will be life flighted away from me, and that I cannot go with her, I have to stay here, if anything is wrong with my baby when she's born. And she was speaking about lifelight, like it was certain to happen. And then she starts naming all of these things that my baby was at high risk of which in the moment, I'm just hearing all these scary words, but I have my medical records. And she put these in here. So she was talking about high risk of hypoxia, significant acidosis, sepsis, meconium, aspiration, full resuscitation, persistent pulmonary hypertension, air leak syndrome, ventilator dependency, and life support. And she told me all of these things.

While you were in the middle of having a perfectly healthy labor, anywhere close to having your baby, yes, they were using just the fact that I was, at this point, 43 weeks and the slight off color red. So they're thinking about meconium, how long you've been in labor that your post states that now you're in the tub and going to get an infection, which we know is not true.

And I learned through my records that the Children's Hospital NICU had been contacted during my labor. And so all I can picture is that my newborn baby could be stolen from me and flown away on a helicopter and that I may not ever meet her. It was scary. But I also knew my baby was okay. Like, I knew my intuition was so strong that even though this was so terrifying, I just knew I just needed to be left alone, but I knew she was okay. Once they left. My mom and doula, we're just getting back at this point. And when I came out of the bathroom, the OB was standing there ready and waiting with a form. And she told me to sign it. And it was a refusal of care for him. And it was written on there that I was refusing active management of labor C section for fetal distress, continuous fetal monitoring, and refusing to leave the bathtub even though I had never been asked to get out of the bathtub.

And your baby didn't have fetal distress. No, no, that wasn't true. None of that was true.

No. And I told her I cannot sign this. This isn't accurate. At this point. My mom and doula are in the room and they're just trying to figure out like what is going on here. And I guess at this point, my heart rate must have been being monitored. I don't remember this, but she pointed out my elevated heart rate. And she started telling me that my baby and I are taca Kartik and of course, my heart rate was jacked because of what had just happened in the bathroom. And so she again was blaming me for my heart rate, and that that could be harmful to my baby. And I just remember this so clearly, my husband stood by me, and then just very matter of factly said to the OB, actually, I think her elevated heart rate is due to the fear mongering and scare tactics that you just put her through in the bathroom. And the OB stared at him, and then just turned and left the room without saying anything to him. At this point, there were seven medical personnel in the room just to give an example of how many strangers were constantly in my space. My husband at this point, told the nurses I'm that I was not safe with this doctor. And just a few minutes later, the OB reenters the room with a man in uniform behind her, and she announces to the whole room that she will now be accompanied by security every time that she has to be in my room due to her not feeling safe near my husband. And she described my husband in my records as aggressive and that he was shouting at her. And she brought security literally right after my husband called her out for her coercion, trying to intimidate us. And my husband stepped out of the room to speak to the guard and the OB, and he told the OB, I don't want to see you again, I want a new doctor, because my wife does not feel safe with you. While this Bathroom scene was happening just a few minutes before my mom was on her way back in the hallway. And she ran into that nice, respectful nurse that had been working with us who was done with her shift, she had changed back into her street clothes, but my mom recognized her. And so she stopped her in the hallway and said, Hey, how's how's it going? how she's doing. And the nurse said, Oh, she's doing great baby sounds great. And my mom asked her if she had any advice or just anything, because everyone was aware of just the energy. And the nurse said to my mother, honestly, I don't know why they are treating your daughter so poorly. I have seen these doctors deliver meth babies here. And they treat those parents with more respect than they are giving your daughter because

they like a victim who's dependent on them. And they don't like an empowered woman.

It's the lack of compliancy that they can't stand. And this leaves women in such a difficult position, because here you are doing all the right things, all the things that we talk about speaking up for yourself advocating for yourself, getting true informed consent, avoiding, you know, pushing back and coercion, and what is it get you a frigging security guard in your labor. It's like, it's like the ultimate manipulation on their part.

My mom then steps out in the hallway with my husband, the security guard and the OB. And my mom just reiterated that I'm not signing this form. And she told the OB she can't believe how I'm being treated. And that using a shift change is not a reason for undergoing major abdominal surgery. And at one point, I was doing another reading of continuous monitoring, which it was like 10 to 20 minutes. And the straps, of course, kept moving. And my team was noticing, and it was picking up my heart rate as my babies which would look like a huge drop for baby.

Yep. And that's one of the many things that can go wrong with continuous fetal monitoring, my team notices, and we get a nurse saying, hey, it's picking up my heart rate as my babies and the nurse starts trying to sort of move it around searching for babies trying to get it adjusted. And she wasn't getting it just right. So then she takes out the handheld, handheld Doppler, and she starts moving it around. And just for a few seconds, wasn't in the right spot yet wasn't finding it. She slowly slowly lowers the monitor, and looks over at my husband, and just starts shaking her head, shaking your head no.

Oh my god as if something happened to the baby or not saying anything.

And I wasn't aware of this, because I'm just I'm trying to stay in my zone. But this was this has haunted my husband. So I feel like it's important to say when it regards continuous monitoring that so many women participate in, it caused so much unnecessary anguish for my husband. What happened and I moved positions with my doula. And it picked up baby's heartbeat, which was still totally stable, where it should be. And I took those straps off and I never put them back on.

What did he have to say about all that?

He was in shock. He it's interesting hearing his side of all of this because he was just in just protective mode, just trying to protect me trying to protect his baby and also trying to be respectful and listen to these medical personnel, but at the same time trusting me and it's just a nightmare. I was in another place mentally at this point after the whole bathtub scene and it took all of my strength, all of my being mentally and physically to continue working with my body and staying in my own trust and knowing while I was surrounded by people who treated me like I was killing my baby for not allowing them to intervene. no mother should be giving birth feeling hated. And that's how it felt. And I went into another zone, I got new energy, knowing I need to give birth to her, I need to keep her safe. So I started moving all over the room with my doula. And I was squatting and getting hip squeezes, while sets inversions leaning forward, and my waves came back, we had not seen that OB again. So she was out of there for a little bit. I remember squatting and reaching down and just feeling the absolute magic of just a tiny portion of my daughter's head. And I felt totally in control and reenergized and powerful. And I got on the bed and I was using the squat bar. And leaning forward. A nurse at some point came in and she must have seen through my robe, that baby was coming. And I just remember hearing an eruption of people coming in. And my husband said nine people came in the room. And I just heard off this plastic being opened and I pulled my cover down and just kept moving. And I tried to block out the commotion. But I was also wondering, like, what is what's wrong? What's going on? helicopter landing on the landing pad.

Yep, choppers ready. I heard the voice of that OB that same OB, from hours ago that my husband had attempted to fire had reentered the room, no security guard this time, of course. And my mom and doula and husband were completely shocked to see her. But they didn't want to interrupt my focus and potentially get into an altercation with her. So they didn't engage with her. They just watched her. Then I heard a nurse say something about positioning and baby's head. And I hear the doctor talking about like shoulder and they just were speaking like, it sounded like something was wrong. And then the nurse asked me if I wanted to lay on my side for a moment, just so they could take a look. And at this point, I had been doing really active movements. So I'm like, Yeah, I know how to position my legs. And I want to rest on my side for a minute. So I agreed to that. And I felt hands helped me and move me down onto my left side. And I was on my side for maybe three seconds, not even enough time to take a breath. And then I felt the hands forcefully pushed me onto my back and jerk my legs up completely without my consent. It now seems like a very calculated way that they manipulated me to get me on my back and hold me down because had I had they asked me, you want to lay on your back and push I would have said no.

It got you into the bed.

And I was frozen. I went from being in complete control, moving with my waves filling my daughter's head to being held down on my back with my legs up. And no less than 10 people in the room. And a nurse and the OB just started yelling the pushing. And I was just so caught off guard and so vulnerable. And I truly thought my baby was just about to come out any moment. So even though I didn't want to be in that position, I just decided just just keep going just do it and don't engage with the staff. Then the OB started using her hands to stretch and pull around baby's head. And it was all I could focus on. And inside my mind is so loud. But I was I was just frozen, just trying to get my baby out. And I just wanted her safely in my arms already. And I couldn't even feel what my body was doing at this point. All I could feel were her hands. And the hands on my legs like holding me down. It was excruciating. And I was arguing in my head whether or not to get back up but had a fear of feeling being pushed back down and was trying to decide whether or not to say something but was worried that they could yell for an emergency C section and haul me off for surgery I didn't want I just was having all these arguments in my head and decided that I just need to fight through it and protect my baby in the best way that I thought I could in those moments. I heard a nurse off to the side like rude, rudely telling my doula to get out of her way. And I just felt my mom right next to me and my doula was actually like whispering how to breathe and push my baby out with all of this yelling going on. And finally I felt my babies had come out and then immediately like her whole body and I was just so relieved. I can't even describe the doc the my doula did say that the doctor did pull her shoulders. And that tore my perennial them. Yeah, I can't even describe the feelings after I gave birth to her. And I immediately whipped off my eyemask. And I started reaching out for her. And I saw her being carried up to me, and she was crying. And before I could even touch her, a nurse intercepted her and started patting her down with a blanket. And my husband jumped in right away and said, No, and put my baby on my chest. And so the nurse stopped. And I was crying and in awe of my gorgeous, healthy baby. And I looked around at my husband and my mom and my doula. And then I noticed this kind of being the first time looking around the room, really, all of the strangers in the room, and they were all just standing there just staring blankly at me with nothing to do. Like the energy was so bizarre. Because I was elated and freaking out and laughing and crying and kissing my baby. And no one was smiling back at me, they all just seemed in total disbelief that my baby was fine. And that I didn't need.

They were over. They were all repressing their joy because they were there to take your baby away.

The pressing their joy, I question whether they experienced joy at all. I mean, you know, I if they're human, I would think that somewhere in them, they actually probably felt some, some joy and respect and awe. But there's no way they were going to show it.

I can't imagine what that was like for you to feel so much happiness and to look up and not see them celebrating with you and smiling at you.

I remember looking. My team was on my right and then all the strangers kind of around me and to the left. And I like looked up at them and smiles it was and my whole team picked up on it. It was just so bizarre. My baby was eight pounds 12 ounces, and had an Apgar of eight and nine. And I also learned that she was posterior. And she was perfect. We refused all the pokes, ointments, baths, clothes for baby sent my placenta home with my doula and rested and left the next day. And plot thickens. my doula was laboring with a client at that hospital. Weeks later, she was escorted off the property and told that due to her behavior at my birth, she is formally trespassed, no longer allowed to support her clients at these facilities due to direct interference with the labor and delivery of me of your perfect healthy, normal labor. So all kinds of accusations that are really ironic, because all of the things that they have accused her of are things that the med the staff did to me, but they said my doula is guilty of she has successfully redirected her clients to other facilities. And she's also creating a class on how to advocate for yourself in hospitals to help others. I think, just for my whole experience, I really want it to be a reminder to trust your intuition, have the confidence to say no to what doesn't align with you. The birth of your child is the last place that you want to be concerned about people pleasing, or being polite, or what people think of you. And just make those decisions from a place of knowledge and empowerment. And I hope the dots are connected with my story that it was not my labor and birth that was scary or painful. What my baby and my body were doing together was powerful and satisfyingly challenging and spiritual and it felt good. What was scary and painful and traumatic was the mistreatment and abuse by the hospital staff. But I'm going to continue putting in the work every day to be healthy and my best for my daughter. And you know I was labeled in my medical records by the hospital staff that I was difficult, defiant, non compliant, uncooperative and even that I had a possible social disorder and I trust I trusted my intuition and I protected my baby and myself so if that's what being difficult means then Yep, I sure am. badge of honor.

Thank you for joining us at the Down To Birth Show. You can reach us @downtobirthshow on Instagram or email us at Contact@DownToBirthShow.com. All of Cynthia’s classes and Trisha’s breastfeeding services are offered live online, serving women and couples everywhere. Please remember this information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is in no way a substitute for medical advice. For our full disclaimer visit downtobirthshow.com/disclaimer. Thanks for tuning in, and as always, hear everyone and listen to yourself.

I think all women should take your lead should follow your lead and wear an eye mask. That was a great tool that you utilized you're gonna

forever be the woman with a pink eye mask, you know that? Remember the lady but they're not going to remember you or your baby or anything. And the lady with the pink eye mask.

It's sitting in my like underwear drawer right now and I see it and I'm like, I should frame this thing with this. But yeah, it was very it's like a superhero mask. That's a wild story.

Short story. Ladies. Thank you so, so much. Oh my gosh, and congrats.

Congratulations for getting through that. Thank you. That would have been really tough on anybody. And you never once mentioned anything about the discomfort you were an admin can just can't imagine what the posterior baby and that long of a labor and all that stress, like how hard it must have been to get through.

Yeah, reflecting on it. My husband and I are both doing somatic therapy. And it has been amazing. I wouldn't be able to talk about it like I am now without having done that. And yeah, and I'm already looking forward to doing it again sometime quite differently

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About Cynthia Overgard

Cynthia is a published writer, advocate, childbirth educator and postpartum support specialist in prenatal/postpartum healthcare and has served thousands of clients since 2007. 

About Trisha Ludwig

Trisha is a Yale-educated Certified Nurse Midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. She has worked in women's health for more than 15 years.

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