Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why I Chose a Home Birth

{This is my journey. It is not meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable or wrong. Every one's birth story is special. Whether the baby came out the old fashioned way or through your nose. Please just enjoy our adventure with us.}

First off, I am not the home birthing type. Seriously. I had never read any pre-baby book besides What to Expect When You're Expecting and that was just because someone had given it to me. *If you own What to Expect When You're Expecting, please trash it now. What a silly, unhelpful book.* Back to who I was before our home birth choice. I never questioned how babies came out. You go to the hospital and push out your baby. That's it. That's all I cared to know and trusted that's how it all went down.

With my first baby, I was 21. Gosh, that's young. Anyway, I was gonna have my baby. {You can imagine a big smile and starry eyes here} I went in for my first prenatal and the popular Dr walks in, claps his hands together and says with a laugh, Okay, take off all your clothes. Hahahaha. Just kidding. Um, I am a modest person. Even an immodest person would have cringed or at least decked him. So, I transferred to the new physician in the office. At least his was much kinder and didn't have a raunchy sense of humor.

With our first baby we didn't want to know the gender. But my kinder physician took a look at the baby with a sonogram and told us what we were having anyway. And that was the beginning of no one listening to me. We wanted a natural birth and to not be induced. Remember, I had not taken the initiative to educate myself. I was trusting my physician to stand up for me. *You cannot do this. Home birth or hospital birth. Please read and educate yourself. At least you can make informed decisions. Learn from my naivete.*

Tristan was a week overdue. My Dr wanted to induce. I was fighting him. Brett was standing with me. Then he pulled the it's safer for your baby...he's just getting bigger...it's dangerous for him to stay in...And because I wanted to be the best momma possible, I caved. They did the non stress test, which went without a hitch, and monitored me for contractions. Surprise, I was having tiny contractions. I just didn't know what they were. New sensations and all. My body was getting ready on it's own. Hind sight, I would have said no induction. But sweet little old people pleasing me went on ahead.

I was so excited to get my baby. I went in with stars still in my eyes. The Dr broke my water immediately. {insert the hindsight gasp here} Then started me on pitocin--which he asked for the max dosage. I ended up having contractions that lasted so long, they just wouldn't stop. I was exhausted and the baby seemed to be moving up instead of down. After me just being in extreme pain and exhausted, I consented to an epidural. I fell asleep and about three hours later a nurse woke me up to check me. Um, the baby was coming out! Thanks for not checking on me earlier!! Then Baby Tristan's heart rate showed signs of distress. After 15 minutes of pushing, the Dr said if he didn't come out in the next two pushes that would use a vacuum. There are more details to this, but if you've read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, she sums it up in her writing on the topic of inductions and pitocin. I cried when I read those paragraphs. I didn't know. It's my fault for not educating myself. It's my Dr's fault for not taking better care of us.

The Dr actually warned me as Tristan was crowning that he may not be breathing but that was okay. (!!) Baby Tristan came out ticked off. What a wail! For good reason. I'm so thankful for the protection over him and his birth. We made so many mistakes. And the last insult to our injury was that the Dr pulled on my placenta and blood went everywhere. You DO NOT do that. And then he said that my placenta was rotting and that was why T's heart rate was in distress and why that blood gushed everywhere. Ya, that's why. The high dose of pitocin, lack of monitoring and yanking my placenta out had nothing to do with it.

Ironically, I was still starry eyed and trusting.

Alex was born 3 years and 5 days later. I had terrible prenatal care and hated my Dr. Once again, he was billed as the best and most popular. I was very sick and would faint throughout my pregnancy with Alex. I told my Dr this repeatedly and he was not concerned. I finally had another Dr check it out and my pancreas was shutting down, I was dehydrated (from throwing up constantly) and anemic on top of a host of other things, but these are the things that stand out now. I did not want my Dr to deliver this baby. I didn't trust him. I went into labor on my own this time--I remember being so excited that I let out a happy squeal when I lost my mucous plug. I was already feeling victorious. Whoa baby! Real contractions are nothing like the minutes long pitocin induced contractions. The Dr on call would end up becoming my OB. Dr B, love him! So kind. So gentle. So thorough. Alex was born with a head full of white hair. Dr B didn't clean the baby. He caught Alex and immediately put him on my chest. He gave us time and it's like the nurses knew to not interrupt. My placenta delivered on its own with very little bleeding. In hindsight, I see that Dr B was an advocate for gentler births. The only thing I can find issue with is that he did break my water as well. We were in and out of the hospital in 20 hours or so. It was a good birth experience.

Isaac, our little imp, came into our lives 17 months later. I had great prenatal care. Dr B is a wonderful, competent physician. As the due date approached, I became very overwhelmed with hope that Dr B would be the physician on call. I woke up at 1 am to the familiar loss of mucous plug which signaled the beginning of labor with Alex. I was excited again! And then I realized, Dr B was not on call. Dr C was. Dr C was a lady. Dr C ends up being the Dr that made me look outside the hospital for an alternative birth.

Dr C broke my water, and I don't know what that woman did, but it felt like I had been stabbed with a knife. So much so that I shrieked and screamed. That should was the warning of things to come. I had been told by the nurses not to deliver anytime soon because they had two c-sections to perform. Great. I did get an epidural with Isaac as well. It was a light epidural. I could still feel the contractions and the baby coming down. I told the nurse that I needed to push. They called Dr C. Dr C was in the hallway where my mother and family friend were. She said to stall me so she could go have lunch. I started feeling like I was going to burst. I told the nurse I had to push now--that I could feel the baby and he was hurting me! Not in the normal pain--we were being harmed. She placed her had over me and said, "Please don't. If there is a shoulder issue, I don't know how to deal with it."

After a full 30 minutes and me in tears, Dr C arrived with a smile while I was in visioning kicking her in the face. Issac came out head and all with the one and only push. Isaac had swallowed quite a bit of fluids and there was quite a bit of meconium in them. By the end of the night, Isaac had to have his tummy pumped because he was having so much trouble.

Dr C does this tick with her tongue. She speaks, ticks, speaks, ends with a tick. While we're waiting for my placenta to deliver, she was ticking. And she too pulled my placenta out. SO DANGEROUS. I did loose quite a bit of blood. It took them a while to stop the bleeding. The nurses were very concerned. The Dr said I was bleeding so much because I was a red head. {It is my fault for not educating. It is her fault for being impatient and reckless.}

After going home, I began to realize that I could not urinate without extreme pain. I sat in a sitz bath of scalding hot water just to go to the bathroom. I called Dr B to have it checked out. Turns out, because Baby Isaac was stalled in the delivery process he rubbed a sore inside of me. When Dr B found out what happened he was horrified and apologetic. I appreciated his kindness but knew right then, if we ever had another child, I could not count on him to be the on call Dr.

I heard the local midwife speak with a panel on women's health. That started the gears turning. We found out that I was pregnant with Alaina and I felt at a loss. I knew I couldn't do the hospital again. We went and spoke with the midwife, J, and had all of our questions answered. We had A LOT. Brett went into that meeting on the fence. He came out and said, "I think you should home birth." I went to my OB for an ultra-sound. Between Isaac's and Alaina's pregnancies, we had had a miscarriage. Miscarriages make you jumpy. I just wanted to see or know the baby inside was alive and well. Dr B verified everything for us. He had left the practice he was at and was now just focusing on GYN. He asked who I would be using for this pregnancy and I told him we were considering home birth. He said he thought I was a great candidate for home birth and gave his approval.

Two things solidified my resolve in the home birth decision. One was my risk assessment. To see a licensed midwife, you have to have a risk assessment. I went to see a nurse/midwife called P. P was awesome. But the risk assessment caught me off guard. It didn't only include the usual tests that you get with your first prenatal visit. No, she had to look at my gums and pound on my kidneys and host of other things. You see, all of those things could indicate a complication or pre-term labor. I felt like this is something that needs to happen in regular clinic visits for hospital births. That's when I began realizing the difference in the midwifery model of care vs. the ob/gyn model. My risk assessment, my prenatal visits were such whole visits. Not just waiting for something to go awry but preventing it, being aware while still recognizing this as a normal function of the woman's body.

The second thing that made me confident in our choice was educating myself. J has bookshelves full of books that she lets her clients check out. I read until I couldn't read anymore. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth {second half} was the straw that made this camel stand up taller. I felt like she was every woman's grandmother imparting wisdom and encouragement. Knowledge destroyed every fear I had leading up to Alaina's birth. The day I went into labor, I never thought what if?, I thought let's do this!

So for those who thought I was crazy or am crazy, I say don't blame me, blame my OB's. I understand not everyone agrees, but I do ask that you read and research before you argue with some one's choice to have a home birth. Usually a home birther has done the research and is not making some off the wall decision. We care about our babies and families. We are doing what is right for us. And I'll say this. I would love to be a home birth advocate, but that's unrealistic. I am a gentle birth advocate. There is so much we can do to make the birth process simpler, safer, and gentler no matter where you have your baby. I have hard feelings toward the OB's who took my pregnancy and babies for granted, but I'm also thankful in a way that they helped open my eyes.


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1 comment:

Soaring High said...

This is one of the best posts I've read on why one would change their mind from a hospital birth to home birth! I'll be refering anyone who asks me why I support it to this. Great job!