When people find out that I’ve had several home births they kind of get this “deer in the headlights” look on their face.
The first thing women say to me is “I could NEVER do that, I’d HAVE to have drugs.” The other thing they say is “You must be a strong woman” or “You’re a better woman than I am.” or “You must have a very high pain tolerance.”
In answer: yes, you could. No you don’t. I’m not. I’m not. I don’t.
I used to be one of those women. I was terrified of the idea of having a natural child birth. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain.
I had 4 of my children in the hospital. With my first child I was 20, alone, scared and did everything the doctor told me…like a good little patient. I didn’t complain when they induced me. I didn’t complain when the IV went in wrong and there was an air bubble (now I know it was dangerous, then I was oblivious), you know something is wrong when your arm (that the IV is in) hurts worse than the labor contractions!, I didn’t complain when they kept increasing the pitocin, or when they recommended that I get an epidural. I didn’t complain when the baby got stuck and they did an epsiotomy or when they used forceps to finally deliver my beautiful 9 1/2 lb baby girl.
I was 23 when I went in to deliver my 2nd child. Again, I went in like a good little patient and did everything they told me. I wanted to deliver naturally but 1/3 of the way through labor, my coach got scared, copped out on me and asked if I wanted an epidural…after having an hour of the most excruciating labor pains one right after another without a break in between, I begged for one. While it took away the labor pain, I have never completely recovered from that epidural. When they took it out, I had spinal fluid leakage. I had migraine headaches every day for 5 months until the hole in my back healed. Now I know that they could have done a “blood patch”, and I would have been spared the migraines, then I just thought it was “part of it”. I’d never had migraines in my life before that time. Caring for a 3 year old, a newborn, trying to establish nursing, recovering from birth and dealing with migraines everyday….I decided that drug induced labor just wasn’t worth it and any child I had after that I was delivering naturally. As a result of the placement of that epidural, I still haven’t regained full strength in my right hand. My grasp is weaker in my right hand than my left…and I’m right handed.
I’d rather go through a few hours of labor and delivery than 5 months of daily agony. So I overcame my fear of natural child birth by having to deal with months of migraines after Abigail’s birth. (incidentally she weighed 8lbs 7oz)
With my 3rd child, I really wanted to have her at home but my husband was scared. So I went along with delivering in the hospital, I had a different doctor this time and I didn’t go in like a good little patient. I had a plan and I wanted NO drugs, not even an aspirin. I wanted to be free to walk around and labor standing on my head if I wanted (not really but you get the point). My doctor agreed to most of my birth plan (not allowed to roam the halls with a portable IV) but I could walk around my little cell of a delivery room.
I was again induced, but this time was more prepared for the pain…and thankfully my 8lb 15oz bundle of Moriah came in just 4 hours….from the moment the first contraction started to the moment I held her in my arms and she started nursing. I had an incredible labor coach who kept me focused and on target and I tell you when we got to the pushing…I have never felt so incredible and amazed at my own capabilities…it was the most empowering experience of my life. It completely changed how I saw myself and I knew from that moment on that I was capable of so much more than I ever thought possible.
With my 4th child, again, I wanted a home birth but my husband was reluctant. I didn’t want to be induced this time. I wanted a completely natural labor from start to finish. My doctor had other ideas. All of my other children were induced and since I tended to “have large babies” she was scared (or so she said) and induced me 2 weeks early. I fought and fought against this decision but in the end I surrendered. I had a horrendous labor. I won’t go into all the details but they induced me and If you’ve ever labored under pitocin…it makes your labor hurt 10x worse than natural labor pains. After 9 hours, I was exhausted. I felt the urge to bear down but had to fight against it because there was a “lip” on my cervix and if I had started pushing I could cause it to swell resulting the need for a C-section OR I could tear my cervix resulting in hemorrhaging. So my only choice was to “pant” through the contractions……for 2 hours..fighting my body’s natural urge to bear down and push….awful doesn’t begin to describe it. After another 45 minutes. I was worn out and didn’t think I could keep it up so caved and asked for an epidural. Another 30 minutes went by and still no epidural (they called for one 4 times)…finally the doctor decided to let me push and she pushed the “lip” of my cervix over the baby’s head…the cord was wrapped around his neck. So again, had to stop pushing. Finally he was born. 6lbs 8 oz…we induced early for a 6 1/2 lb baby ?!!!! The anesthesiologist showed up 10 minutes after Joshua was born. (which was fine…I really didn’t want an epidural and was just grateful the whole ordeal was finally over). The doctor said that she was going to order Stadol for me as she breezed out the door. I told her I didn’t want ANY drugs..that was in my birth plan and I was tired but fine. The next thing I knew a nurse was walking away from my IV after having put it in…a drug I refused but they gave me anyway. Like that’s going to make me forget what I just went through ?! I was livid with the doctor, livid with the hospital and angry with myself for letting them talk me into putting myself and my son through that horrendous ordeal.
Since Joshua was suppose to be my last child, I didn’t make a fuss. I didn’t write any letters, I paid our bill and thanked God that I’d never have to be at the mercy of an obstetrician and staff again.
6 years later, I got pregnant with Zephaniah…first I had to pick myself up off the floor and get used to the idea that I really was pregnant. Again! Then I had to wrap my mind around the fact that we obviously weren’t done having babies and I had to adjust my thinking to include nursing, diapers bags, midnight feedings and the like. Then I cried and cried and cried. I did NOT want to have this baby in the hospital. I screwed up the courage to approach my husband once again about finding a midwife and without batting an eye he said “Absolutely!” I was astonished!
Why had he drug his feet about it in the past ? What about all his fears ? What had changed his mind ?
He said that after watching what I went through with Joshua’s birth…He figured that if I could handle all that, then having a baby at home would be a cake walk for me. So the search began…
I wanted someone who was highly educated and knowledgeable about the medical aspects of delivery but totally respectful and supportive of the natural way G-d created our body’s to labor and deliver our children.
The first midwife I interviewed scared the daylights out of me…she was pro-natural birth and very anti-medical interference so much so that it was extreme. As her client there would be NO medical intervention no if ands or buts about it. She was not the midwife for me.
The 2nd midwife I interviewed only delivered in a hospital environment and under the supervision of a doctor. Which kind of defeated the purpose of having a home birth/midwife for me so I was not the client for her.
The 3rd woman I interviewed wasn’t licensed and had had no formal training, she’d aided other women in the delivery their babies at home…she also was not the “midwife” (I use the term very loosely to describe her) for me.
I was becoming very discouraged at this point and was terrified that if I couldn’t find a midwife, I was going to have no other choice but to allow “that” doctor to deliver yet another one of my children in “that” hospital. (I had an horrible attitude one that would kill a horse). I knew what it meant…another induced labor, possible C-section if they didn’t time it right…my doctor’s C-section rate had dramatically increased in the last 6 years since Joshua was born… total strangers yelling at me for refusing drugs, being forced to be hooked up to monitors and wear an IV, being restricted in my movements and labor positions, not being able to shower or be in the tub while laboring, unable to eat or drink, having multiple complete strangers check my cervix every few minutes…does NOT make for a relaxing labor at all….plus the constant stress of the hospital “fear factor”…”If you don’t let us do “this” then your baby will be at risk” or “We need to do such and such because your baby could be in trouble”….If you don’t co-operate then they pull out the fear card and coerce you into whatever they want to do to you…not because you really need it and not because its in the best interest of you or your baby…but because it makes their job easier…an epidural patient is a docile patient. A natural laboring woman is an active participant in her labor and delivery. They don’t know what to do with you…their training hasn’t prepared them for a woman capable of delivering her own child. I actually had a nurse tell me to cross my legs until the doctor could get her scrubs on…what???
I told her to back off…doctor or not…I was having a baby and if she didn’t “catch the baby” I’d do it myself….you’ve never seen such a ruckus…I was labeled the “trouble maker”. LOL
Anyway, I did what I should have done in the first place and I began praying. I locked myself in my room and I prayed and prayed and prayed. When my husband came home from work I asked him to pray for me and with me.
The next day I spoke with a woman that I knew from the homeschooling support group, she had 5 children at the time (she now has 7) and she told me about a Women’s Center about 45 minutes away where she delivers her children with the aid of a midwife. So I contacted the clinic and asked them if they knew of a midwife who did home births and that is how I got in touch with Teresa.
I called Teresa that night and as we talked over the phone I just felt this peace fall over me. I got off the phone and looked at my husband and said “I think I’ve found her”.
The next week Teresa and her husband came to our home and it was then that I knew this was the woman who was going to deliver my baby. She was working in L and D at a local hospital in her town (she lived 45 minutes away from me) Her husband was retired military and she’d delivered babies all over the world. Some in 3rd world conditions. I didn’t want to hear about the run of the mill deliveries where everything went like clock work, I wanted to hear about the scary ones. The deliveries where she thought “Oh Lord, we need your help!”. At the time, she had been asked to fly to Ohio and deliver a baby for a woman whom she delivered when she was a baby. That is what really impressed me. That Teresa was asked to deliver the 3rd generation of the same family. And this wasn’t the first family to request her. Plus we had a lot in common. She had raised and homeschooled 4 children through High School and to college. She was a Christian and there was just such a calming and peaceful presence about her that I just felt at “home” with her. Plus she was the right balance for me between medical expertise and natural child birth experience. She brought Oxygen (for me and baby), vitamin K shot, IV and fluids, and Pitocin. I loved the assurance that all of that was available “just in case” but wouldn’t be used unless necessary. I was in good hands.
In my 13th week I started bleeding and Teresa put me on bed rest. That Saturday I started going into labor (It was September 11, 2004) of all the days to miscarry. Dale (my husband) called Teresa and I told her that there really wasn’t a need for her to come. That if I started bleeding excessively that we’d go to the hospital. She called about every 2 hours. It was a really long labor. It started at about 11:30 am and the contractions didn’t start letting up until about 2:30-3:00 am the next night. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital because I knew there was nothing they could do to stop it. My baby was already “gone” and I couldn’t deal with being there and all the other moms around with their precious little ones. They could have given me drugs for the pain etc. But I just emotionally couldn’t go there. So I labored at home with our children and my husband nearby and my midwife on the phone. On Monday I went to see my GYN just to make sure that everything was ok. I was doing well but she wanted to make sure that no fetal matter (I hate it that, that is how they refer to what remains) was left in the womb but in lieu of a D and C she prescribed a medication that would dilate and clean out the womb without leaving scar tissue/damage behind. I’m so thankful that she did that.
I can’t imagine what would happen if I’d had to go through such and invasive and potential physical scarring ordeal.
We hadn’t planned on trying again. I had miscarried a twin in my 3rd pregnancy and so kind of knew a little of what to expect. Postpartum is hard enough after delivering a lovely bundle of joy, but Postpartum after a miscarriage is beyond the pits. There are some things in life that you think when you go through it, it should kill you. The death of a child is one of those things. It always amazes you that the world keeps on going even when yours has stopped. Everyone else is living normal and your life seems so surreal. And then when you get on the other side you realize that you are made of tougher stuff than you thought you were. Losing a child, you NEVER get over. No matter how many babies you have, None will ever replace the one you lost. BUT you do survive, you do grow, you get stronger, wiser, older and deeper. I am a deeper person than I was before. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but I am the person that I am today because of the things I have experienced.
On January 18th of the following year, I thought I might be coming down with the flu. My oldest daughter, then 15, suggested a pregnancy test before taking cough medication…once that thought was in my head I couldn’t rest until I knew…because what “if” I was and I took a medication that hurt the baby ? So we took a test….it was positive.
On September 14th, 2005 I started feeling contractions at 2:30 am.
Knowing that my labor with Joshua was over 11 hours I got up and watched a movie in the living room. At 3:30 my husband asked why I wasn’t in bed. I told him I thought I was in labor, he wanted to call Teresa. I said not to bother her as these things take a while. I balanced the checkbook and prepared some bills to be paid in the mail the next day. I took a shower and felt the labor coming on very strong. By 4:30 I let my husband call Teresa. I still told her not to worry about coming yet. She was at work and her shift ended at 7:00am. She listened to my next contraction over the phone and left the hospital. She arrived at our house at 5:32am (remember that she had a 45 minute drive). The Doula was on her way as well but got lost in the dark I can’t remember what time she showed up…@6:00ish I think. Bethany was born at 6:38am. Nearly a year after I’d lost Zephaniah. I really feel like G-d redeem the month of September for me. I still think about Zephaniah, I still miss that baby but Bethany is the embodiment of a promise that we are not forsaken or abandoned. I look at her and I remember that G-d cares.
That birth, as fast and furious as it was, was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I got to go into labor, labor however I wanted, in whatever position was the most comfortable, and deliver my baby without strangers poking, prodding and forcing or coercing me into taking drugs that weren’t necessary.
When I got pregnant with Anna, I called Teresa after I called my husband. By then she had quit her job at the hospital to deliver babies full time and I knew she only took on 2 clients a month. I breathed a sigh of relief when her July was free and I got the first slot.
I didn’t think Anna was ever going to be born. I was dilated to 2-3cm the day she was born. One of the things I love about having Teresa as a midwife is that ALL my prenatal visits were done at my house. She came to me. I didn’t have to sit in a waiting room for hours,with 5 children in tow, waiting waiting waiting to be seen at 8 or 9 months pregnant in the Summer and utterly miserableonly for the doctor to spend 10 minutes with me.
Noooo Teresa came to my house and I could be going about my business until she arrived. What convenience! Teresa and Ouida (the other midwife in their practice who is also a licensed Doula) were doing prenatals that day and had just left my house. They’d been gone about 15 minutes when the contractions started. I knew they had a prenatal in the next county and just called them to ask if they wouldn’t mind stopping back by on their return trip home. I said that I thought I might be having contractions that weren’t the normal Braxton Hicks. By the time my husband came home he got me into the tub and brought the laptop into the bathroom to start timing my contractions. My husband is a computer geek oops I mean genius. Along with a LAN we also have a strong wireless connection (he can check his email from the neighbor’s back yard…ask him how he knows) anyway we came across an online program called Contraction Master and Dale used this to time my contractions. When they got to 5 minutes apart he called Teresa and Ouida, who said that they were already on their way. Anna was delivered about 3 hours after they arrived. Again, One of the most wonderful labor and delivery experiences of my life…even if it was not my favorite thing to be doing on my birthday! Yes, Anna was born on July 9, 2008…my birthday.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for hospitals, doctors and medical intervention…WHEN ITS NECESSARY! What I don’t like is someone telling me that I HAVE to let them do all kinds of things to me and my baby when its not needed. If I was a high risk patient, you’d better believe I’d be taking advantage of modern medicine. It’s absolutely amazing what they can do these days that they didn’t have available years ago.
BUT what really puzzles me is how many of these doctors have NEVER seen or enabled a real natural birth from start to finish.
I even had to convinced my GP. When I was pregnant with Anna, I wanted him to weigh me and do the sugar tests and the strep test etc. He was really scared when I told him that I was having a home delivery. He tried to convince me to have my baby in the hospital. When I told him that I was having a midwife deliver at home, I think he had visions of some toothless, uneducated old woman scuffling around and hiding a knife under the bed to “cut the pain”. I politely informed him that this “Wasn’t my first rodeo” and recommended he watch “The Business of Being Born.”
He has now come totally on board and is very supportive of Home Birth. In fact he and his staff got more and more excited as my due date got closer and closer. You’d think they were expecting as well.
I recommend The Business of Being Born to anyone who is considering a Hospital or Home Birth. Especially if this is your first child. In my opinion it is the best documentary that presents a very balanced and accurate picture of what it is like to deliver in each setting.
For me, as long as my pregnancy isn’t high risk and the baby and I are on target and doing well. Then a home birth is the right choice for me.