A Little Knowledge can be a Good Thing – or How I Escaped a C-Section

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A Little Knowledge can be a Good Thing – or How I Escaped a C-Section

strong women mothers

Image via dizznbonn

 

“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller.

On the afternoon of July 2nd 2012, my water leaked. Not broke. Not gushed. Leaked. I was having lunch at the time and calmly finished my meal, then called my doc. She wasn’t in the city (why does this always happen to me! Seriously.) Anyways, so her replacement doc was on call and asked me to come on over to the hospital immediately. So I went to shower. Yup, I had decided earlier on that no matter what happened, this time (I was on baby #2), i wasn’t going to go to the hospital without clean hair! I am telling you all this because as you can see, I was fairly calm, unhurried, and in control. There was no reason to panic; it was after all, just a small, slow leak. And all my research told me that amniotic fluid replenishes itself cause the pregnant body is always making some. So, no need to worry about drying out or causing the baby any harm.

So I showered and went to the hospital. And got the shock of my life.

Now I had a basic idea of what to expect at the hospital. I figured they’d first check me to confirm if it was indeed amniotic fluid and if yes, then they’d check for signs of labor. Those signs would determine what happens next. But in my wildest dreams I did not expect that they would say I needed surgery RIGHT AWAY!

But that is, in fact, what happened. You see, when I reached the hospital the on-call doc said it was indeed amniotic fluid and because of the risk of infection coupled with the baby’s head not being in position and no signs of labor being imminent, I would have to have a c-section and that she, the on call doc, could do it in the next 2 hours. The way she said it, and I kid you not, was like “Oh I’m here, you’re here, so we might as well get it over with right now”.

Remember all that self-control I was so proud of earlier? Yeah it all melted into a melange of tears and panic. I held my husband’s hand amidst my shock at what had just transpired over the last hour or so. This was my worst nightmare coming true. I wanted a natural birth. I didn’t want surgery – at least not an optional one. And the way she said it, it didn’t seem like I had the option of saying no! In fact in the next breath she was asking us to arrange a blood transfusion in case I should need one during surgery. WTF!

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you” – Caroline Myss.

The rest of my story is a lesson in empowerment. In that moment, I knew that if i didn’t take control back of the situation I might be haunted by my decision forever.

To buy some time, I told the doctor I needed to ask her some questions. I said since it was just a slow leak, there was no imminent risk of infection, right? Right, but there could be and she didn’t advise waiting longer than 48 hours. Well in that case I have 48 hours before I have to do anything. I cornered her there. My next question to her was if the baby’s head is not exactly in position (she said it was off on a tangent), then there’s still the possibility that it could get in position within the next 48 hours, correct? Correct, but, according to her, highly unlikely at this late stage (I was full term).

It was then that I made my decision. Somehow through the fog of tears, panic and shock, I told her that I would like to go home now. I am not going to have surgery today and I am going to wait it out. I see no reason for a c-section, I know the signs of infection and will watch out for them. I am not coming back until labor begins naturally. This time she was in shock (probably both at how I spoke to her and my logical statements which she couldn’t refute). Naturally she took her revenge by marking on my medical sheet that I was being discharged “against medical advice“! The nerve.

Anyways, as it turned out, my soon-to-be-born daughter had already decided where, when and how she’d like to be born. That same night, close to midnight, I started having contractions. I reached the hospital and gave birth 4 hours later naturally, without painkillers, without epidural, and without a frikkin’ c-section that was oh-so-necessary according to the doctor. Everything fell into place; she got in position and labor started by itself. It was intense, but fast!

This might just be the story of one doctor’s greed and misuse of power, but it’s also the story of one person’s ability to fight against an authority figure when the latter is not making any sense whatsoever. My point is, we tend to trust authority figures without question. A white lab coat means that they’ve gone to medical school, while we haven’t and so therefore we ought to shut up and accept their decision with blind faith. Well thank goodness medicine is not religion. You are actually free to ask as many questions as you need to to get to the truth. And when you have the truth, you are free to make your own decision influenced by your internal barometer of what is right and wrong.

I know in a perfect world it should mean that your doctor will have your best interests in mind, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (and being treated) with many wonderful doctors who have taken the time to understand and proffer helpful, appropriate advice. My point is when you come across that one member of society who attempts to take advantage of you, stop and think logically. Think rationally. Do not let authority figures (in any color coat!) intimidate you!

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel.

I am thankful that in this case, everything turned out to be okay and that, in hindsight, I made the correct decision. But I can tell you it was a nerve racking time and I doubted and questioned my decision constantly during those hours, terrified that I’d done the wrong thing. My family’s support and the little knowledge with which I could question the doctor all worked in my favor.  I know that if I had been unable to cross examine the doctor, I might have been coerced into a surgery that was not just expensive, but completely unnecessary.

So to all you ladies reading this, I say – arm yourself with knowledge and trust your instincts!

Be well 🙂

 

Comments

comments

20 Comments

  1. Anila Weldon November 16, 2012 at 5:54 am - Reply

    What a brilliant post. My team and I would like to feature it on WeldonMoms too. What do you think?

  2. salmajafri November 16, 2012 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Thanks Anila! I’d love for it to be featured on WeldonMoms – feel free to share 🙂

  3. Mariam November 16, 2012 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Def should be shared with as many people as possible!

    • Salma Jafri November 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks Mariam – go ahead and share 🙂

  4. Ejaz November 16, 2012 at 11:12 am - Reply

    This would be good for many current or future dads as well, you see. I most likely would have ignored the post, given how much information overload I am dealing with daily but the second part of the title made me bookmark and then read later. I am not very fond of doctors, despite having had some good friends who are doctors and some of our experiences were pretty good including our last son’s birth but still overall dealing with Doctors make me cringe and sweat and be a nervous wreck in the same way as I would have to face a shopkeeper in Bolton market or something like that. Heck, we just returned from SouthCity yesterday and thankfully my wife is much better now, the whole experience was still a bittersweet one (or may be I am too skeptical and stubborn to be taken for a ride).

    So, the biggest takeaway for me is to read up on your health, look at your options and think rationally even at such moments. The only slight worry I have, now is that if we had the right choice (c-section) last time we had a baby. I am not sure if we will ever know.

    • Salma Jafri November 17, 2012 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Spot on Ejaz with this being equally relevant for dads who need to be our partners in this process! I totally agree with you that we should all know or find out basic stuff about our health – at least gather enough knowledge to be able to both question and understand doctors. A smart doctor will value that rather than be intimidated by it. With regard to your wife’s previous c-section, don’t worry about it and leave the past behind while being better informed next time round. Hope your wife is better now!

      Edited to add: BTW South City I hear is notorious for recommending faux c-sections – although given my experience it would seem so are other hospitals/doctors in the city.

  5. Sarah S (@KarachiMama) November 17, 2012 at 6:37 am - Reply

    Totally agree with Ejaz. Fathers need to go in with as much information as possible to back up their partner when needed!

    Also love this story because so many books and articles make the ‘birthing plan’ so easy to lay out and follow but as most of us know, hospital visits, especially those concerning labor are hardly ‘plannable’ 😛

    • Salma Jafri November 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      Exactly Sarah – birthing is the one thing you cannot control 100% and must be flexible in. However, that said, its good to know your options and to work them out with a doctor you trust. Unfortunately my birth plan was not passed on to (or followed by) the on-call doc – instead she chose to completely ignore my wishes for a natural birth. In such cases, there’s not much you can do except to trust your gut instincts and get as much support as possible from family and others. Thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Omar November 18, 2012 at 1:11 am - Reply

    Salma,
    Thank you for writing this.

    Doctors are supposed to put the patient’s interest above all else. Unfortunately many doctors become jaded with time and lose their ability or will to empathize.

    Also, while what happened to you is not acceptable, thank you for pointing out that not all doctors are the same. 🙂

    • Salma Jafri November 18, 2012 at 5:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Omar for the insight. Not sure if this was a case of being jaded or just an auto-response for minting money. That said, I’m so glad there are doctors like you around who take an active participatory role and reach out via social media and other channels to the public. Thank you for all you do.

  7. Samar November 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Having a C-section was a personal nightmare of mine. I told my doctor that a C-section was my last choice and not to even consider it unless my or my kid’s life was in danger.

    I also told her no epidural even if I asked for it later unless she thought it made sense medically.

    Thankfully I had a wonderful doctor who not only noted all my wishes in my file but briefed the staff that I wanted a normal birth at all costs and to facilitate it unless things went south.

    Even though Z arrived in the middle of the night and my doc couldn’t make it in time, the one on duty did everything that she had noted in my file.

    And even though I begged for the epidural towards the end (12 hours of labour will do that to you), they cajoled and placated me till I delivered a healthy baby. Thankfully the delivery was really fast!

    I recommend my doc to every pregnant female I come across. Lol. She’s a rarity in today’s world of “my way or the high way” doctors.

    • Salma Jafri November 18, 2012 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Samar, you are SO lucky and blessed to have had such an amazing birth experience 🙂 And I totally get where you’re coming from on the epidural front – I did scream for it at some point but thankfully labor was progressing far too quickly to make that realistic and in hindsight I’m so thankful for a safe delivery and a healthy baby (sans epidural) that everything else pales in comparison. Reading your story makes me realize that I should have insisted my regular doc note down all my requests too. Thanks so much for sharing your positive story!

  8. jammie November 19, 2012 at 5:27 am - Reply

    Both my kids were born out of C sections. The first one went into distress and the doctor clearly laid out facts that she had a feeling something was wrong because the heart beat was too errratic. She said that she couldnt be certain because I was already in labour- but her gut was to go ahead and what did I think. She discussed it with my husband and we all decdied to trust her on this. Which was a relief because he was born with a tight knot in the cord (I wouldnt have believed it had she not shown it to me!) and had I tried to go natural, it might have ruptured causing damage to both of us.

    Second time round I was expecting twins so a c-section was on the cards anyways given that there was a growth developmental issue in one of them and we were on standby pretty much since week 32.

    What I am trying to say is that even though we feel the pool of doctors is dwindling, it is important to find one who is in tune with you as well.Who is willing to stop and think that you may be arguing a case because you know something – because you have done your research. A lot of us try being doctors because honestly so much info is available also to us online- and we sometimes can undermine that by profession, they would know more.

    I agree with you its a hard time to be making such calls but trust works two ways and one has 9 months to establish a little bit of conversation and relationship especially given that the birth time is a sensitive one, no matter easy/hard it is.

    Looking fwd to seeing you on my blog also 🙂

    • Salma Jafri November 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm - Reply

      Sara: Thank you for adding your perspective. You’re right the basis of this relationship is trust and if that’s not there, there’s every chance things can go awry at crunch time. I did have full confidence in my original doc – in fact the very first thing I discussed with her was my wish for a natural birth and she supported it. Things got weird when I had to deal instead with another doc who was not only disinclined to follow my birth plan but was also quite brusque about it.

      Since you mention the cord issue, let me add here that the big fancy hospital I went to did not even detect that my baby’s cord was wrapped (albeit loosely) around the neck, whereas a private ultrasound just a half hour later by a personal family doc brought up this issue. So after this second ultrasound I was mentally preparing myself that a C-section might still be needed but not for the issue the on-call doc had suggested. So you see my experience with both the hospital and the staff reeked of casual incompetence throughout my stay there, all of which contributed to making me trust their opinions even less. With so many things that could’ve gone wrong, I cannot express how eternally grateful, blessed and relieved I am that the end result – a healthy baby – was positive!

      p.s. I’m headed over to your blog now … 🙂

  9. kiran March 7, 2014 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Gosh Salma…u need nerves to do that. I lost mine when my doc rushed me to OT despite me being fully dialated. I knew I was tricked but what cud I dodo?and I submitted the case
    In my next pregnancy when I was told that I can’t have a normal delivery due to a previous cesarian I lost mine…What the helll??
    I changed my doc and Allhamdullilah managed a normal delivery finally
    Hats off to ur courage

  10. shaf March 8, 2014 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I wish i had come across this article before..ur rite..i always hv this thought that if even i was equipped wid such knowledge n self control n confidence in such situatuon despite knowin my son had cord around neck n not givin in to wt hospital staff ws sayin & gettin intimadated…who knows mayb i wd hv avoided a c-sec after being in 20 hours of horrifying labor which made me unconscious ,almost dead to even scream wid pain…da shoes i wore ven i went to deliver cdnt fit me three days after ven i ws discharged coz i had swollen due to drips…i had gone happily to hospital ven labor started but came out in shambles
    Bringing a child in this world is not easy at all..atleast not in my case..now im too scared and terrified to ever go through such thing ever again..i wish doctors esp hospital staff wd b more considerate to accomodate patients wish n work in their best interest not thier own

  11. Dr. Tania R. April 5, 2014 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    Hi there!
    I’m really glad things worked out well for you, and I feel you are justified in strongly disapproving of the on-call doctor’s attitude, but I wouldn’t encourage ladies to go against medical advice. I know some cases are different, but the vast majority of doctors are really trying to save the mother and the baby’s lives. And I really wish people would stop acting like a C-section is some sort of amputation. I am a doctor, and I underwent an elective c-section, after several detailed discussions with my gyno, Dr. Shahina Ishtiaque at Ziauddin, who is a polite, competent and compassionate lady, and keeps her patients fully informed and involved. And I’m glad I went for the c-section, because I came out of it painlessly, without complications Alhamdulillah, and was able to breastfeed my baby within a couple of hours.
    So, while doctors who do not completely or correctly inform their patients, or are brusque and take their concerns lightly, are not to be condoned, it is also not right by laymen to take their lives, and the lives of their babies into their own hands.

  12. Rafia April 9, 2014 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Definitely something to be shared …. As I regret agreeing to the c section as recommended by my dr because the baby was breached (although it was only my 37th week)…. Your story is truly inspiring

  13. rubina March 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Salma .. my fluid gushed out .. n i was in labor after 2 hours of gushing … but my doc dint allow me to deliver vaginally past 24 hours of gushing due to possiblity of infection in the baby … so i surrendered to her 🙁

  14. mom April 4, 2015 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    what about me as i had a c section before 10 years and now i will be having a second baby? m worried! m i having a normal delivery or again the same..

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