Shridam’s Birth Story

A note from Sarah:

I am so thankful for this community I have been welcomed into with open arms. The subject of birth is so close to every mother’s heart, no matter how her baby comes into the world. I have said a number of times that I want to share EVERY birth story that you’re willing to share. Some of those birth stories, don’t always have a happy ending. Regardless, your birth and your baby are important and your story is important. I am sharing a story below that is beautiful, loving, and heartbreaking. This is your official **Trigger Warning**. Please read with love and light for this mama. Thank you.

Sarah

******

Shridam Jasper Smith

10 lbs 15.4oz 23.5 inches

9.23.12 – 9.30.12

We wanted to have a homebirth with our first son but couldn’t afford it. He was a week late and we declined to go in for an induction that Friday but then nonstress testing said the amniotic fluid was low so we made an appointment to go in at 5am the next day to be induced. I went into labor Friday night and things were picking up steam when we got the hospital (My mom, husband, doula and myself). We labored pretty naturally for most of the day and didn’t get any pitocin until the evening. The back labor was pretty intense. Then after a totally refreshing nap compliments of Stadol, the nurses woke me up and I hopped into the stirrups to push for about 2.5 hours. I saw baby’s head in the mirror!  Dr.Koh came in and saw that the baby was OP so he got us all to prepare for a C-section. Dasaratha was 9 lbs 6 ounces, 21 inches and super awesome. Champion nurser.

Shri Kiss

  • Shridam was due September 16th. We didn’t want to have another C-section this go round and now we were in a position to afford midwives. We interviewed a few groups and went with the same midwives a couple people we knew had delivered with. We saw them for the regular checkup stuff, heart tones, measurements, weight ins etc and my seemingly endless list of questions about homebirth, pregnancy, transfer and nearly everything else under the sun.
  • For backup we saw some hospital midwives that work with M and R and take care of some of their transfers. I went to their clinic for all of the blood tests and ultrasounds. I had endless questions for them too. I was told by them and our homebirth midwives that we would transfer to that hospital in case of something like exhaustion or dehydration but that for an emergency emergency we would go to Heywood, the hospital 20 minutes from my house.
  • The pregnancy covered the best summer of my life, my husband, our toddler and everyone we knew was just so happy and excited that we would be getting a little baby boy. Stava and Dasaratha were able to accompany me to most of the prenatals this time which was really special. I was crazy healthy and felt great.
  • We went into labor Friday night but it stopped as soon as M got there. She left and told me to try to get as much rest as possible before things picked up again. I had light contractions until Saturday evening when things got hot and heavy and the two midwives came over again. We had my grandmother take Dasaratha to his Uncle and Aunties while we set to laboring. I see the hand of the Lord in that because we had considered having him babysat at our home but couldn’t think of anyone to watch him.

I labored leaning on Stava and moaning with him for awhile, at a certain point I was saying, “These contractions are stronger than me, I’m not handling them well,” and I decided to get into the tub. What GREAT relief! In my first labor I kept wanting to take a shower but we couldn’t get the monitor wet so I opted for Stadol instead. Anyways no back labor this time, baby was in perfect position very low, NOT ociput posterior (I was super afraid he would follow suit like his brother and religiously did my positioning exercises while pregnant). They checked his heart rate regularly the whole time and he was happy as a clam. We put on the birth CD my friend had burnt for us. The water made contractions so much more manageable, Stava was in there with me sometimes I would lean on him sometimes I grip the sides of the tub and stretch out.

Eventually I felt the urge to push and started to do that. I was a little insecure thinking I didn’t want to push if I had a lip of cervix so I hopped out of the tub and had my midwives gives me an internal exam (the First and only) I was 10 cm so I hopped back in the tub and began to push for all I was worth. Pushing was about 2hrs but isn’t seem very long at all, not like Dasa’s. No one was yelling at me; I pushed not on every contraction but when I got a “good pushing one” I would say, “This is it!” and grip the side of the tub stand up on my knees and holler and push. I reached down and felt baby’s soft head, it was awesome then I had Stava feel too. The midwives were checking his heart rate with the Doppler pretty frequently now (I appreciate that now but at the time it was sooo uncomfortable!) and it was right where it was supposed to be. I vaguely remembered being blood pressure cuffed throughout the birth but I didn’t pay that much mind. Sometime during the pushing I felt the water bag POP and the midwives rushed over to the birth tub with maglights to check the amnioty; it was clear.

At some point I felt like my pushing was becoming a little less effective and the midwives suggested I hop onto the birth stool. That REALLY directed the pushing energy, 2 or 3 pushes on that and I had his entire head out! I was done at that point, I asked if I still had to push because I had read birth storied where the midwives help ease the body out of the exhausted mother and though that sounded good I said, “Do I need to push anymore?” My midwife said yes, “You need to push with everything you have.” Then they said, “You need to get on hands and knees.”

*Sh*t* I had read enough birth stories to know that meant shoulder dyscotia. I got onto hands and knees and pushed hard, thinking they would be able to hook him and pull him out. They told Stava to call 911 and then had me get standing upright to push. Stava started to run downstairs but I hollered at him pointing to where the phone was on the dresser while I was pushing. Then I was lunging, standing, hands and knees, on my back with legs pulled all the way  back and super pubic pressure applied. We tried all these positions rapidly AGAIN and AGAIN. M and R were taking turns trying to hook the baby, and alternating putting the oxygen on his face and then on mine. I kept screaming, “I can’t push anymore,” because I was exhausted or “I’m still pushing!!!” because I WAS still pushing and felt no give from the baby. I screamed a lot and there was blood everywhere, all over me, saturating the floor. The two midwives kept taking turns trying to hook Shridam or break his arm and hook it, and they were putting oxygen alternately on me and then the baby. Stava said, “They had to tear you apart to get to the baby.” I didn’t know it at the time but Stava then left to flag the ambulances at the end of the drive. He feels like he didn’t do anything to help the situation but they may never have found our hidden drive on that dark and rainy night if he hadn’t gone out there. We just kept going in those positions. It was excruciatingly painful, I screamed and screamed and pushed and pushed.

Shri sans tubes

Eventually the ambulance and EMTs arrived. I thought we were going to go to the hospital, I was screaming things like, “Can we got to the hospital now? Get him OUT!!! but the EMTS and midwives told me I had to deliver the baby 1st. I hadn’t expected that. The EMTS were really awesome, they took over the oxygen and focused the midwives saying, “You can do this, you can get this baby out.” FINALLY he came out, with me in the hands and knees position, at 1:42am on Sunday, twenty minutes after his head had been born.

He looked so small, and even though he was all pink and peach, without a tinge of blue on him I could tell he was lifeless. He was so limp and floppy. Shridam’s wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. The EMTS began CPR and intubation immediately. I was sure that he was dead.

My own heart rate was at 200 and the EMTS were instructing me to focus take deep breaths, calm down.  The midwives gave me two shots of pitocin in the thigh and some Chinese herbs to stop bleeding.

We stayed in the room for like 15 minutes and then we each got loaded onto an ambulance. I nearly passed out as they took me down the stairs, because my oxygen mask had fallen off. Stava and all but two of the EMTS (we had first responders from like 5 towns) piled into Shridam’s ambulance and R and two EMTS went into mine. As I rolled past Shridam’s ambulance they told me he had a pulse. I couldn’t believe it, I was so relieved. It came twenty minutes after he was fully born and they started working on him.

From there we went to the ER at Heywood, Stava was sobbing on Shridam’s side of the room and my heart was stricken fearing for the worst. They did all kinds of things for him, that I’ll never know the whole of, they managed to get an IV in his belly button. They gave me three IV ports and pumped me full of blood, pitocin, morphine and two kinds of saline water. My placenta still hadn’t come out so two nurses massaged my stomach almost right down to the bed and Dr.R, come down from the maternity ward, reached in and grabbed it by hand, delivering the whole of it successfully. I had 3rd or 4th degree tears (I would here either from doctors in the next couple days) and Dr.R stitched me up into a, “patchwork quilt.” It hurt so much because apparently, like Novocain, litocaine is totally ineffective on me. R was in with me but they wouldn’t let M in and I was so out of it I didn’t really care.

A few hours later we both transferred to a bigger hospital with a level 3 NICU, and they cooled Shridam’s body for 3 days to try to keep brain damage as low as possible, but his brain was just completely gone, 40 minutes of oxygen deprivation was too much. He was 23.5inches 10 pounds 15.4 ounces when the weighed him. I finally got to hold him when he was 3 days old. He never cried and could only move his arms and face a little. The told us his EEG and MRI showed no brain activity and that he would not live for long. That Friday he managed to knock his arm into his ventilator tube, unpositioning it. We decided not put it back in and he breathed on his own until early Sunday morning when he gently died in my arms, one week old. There are many other stories and miracles that accompany his short week of life, but they are too numerous and hazily remembered to list here.

Shridam

I wrote the above only weeks after the loss of my birth and so have left it unchanged, because it’s as fresh as it is accurate. Some additional thoughts and reflections I have had since then and answers to common questions are below.

My first son was 9lb 4oz.

When originally telling me about how prenatal visits would go my midwives told me about the pee in a cup strips to test for urine. I would later show up and ask “Don’t I need to do that strip test.” And they would reply “If you want to.” Weight tracking was also optional, but I like to keep track of things so I did both each visit.

My midwives offered me a choice of taking the glucose soda and blood test at the hospital or doing a finger prick test with them. They didn’t push either as better, I opted to go with the finger prick test with them.

I did not have Gestational Diabetes during either of my other 3 pregnancies, and had no symptoms of it during Shridam’s pregnancy so I think his Macroscopic size may NOT have been caused by GD, but that’s not something I’ll ever know for sure.

While they attempted to deliver his body they got out their 1 oxygen mask and passed it between me and Shridam. It was done so poorly because there were only TWO people there, they had to try to deliver and do oxygen and it just WASN”T ENOUGH. One of midwifes, M, was crying and in near hysterics, she kept kissing me and saying they loved me, they loved this baby. I appreciate that she was scared for us but I feel like her lost cool affected her ability to do her best on the delivery.

We never paid the 2nd half of what we owed them for their fee. Niether did they ever offer to refund us. Money just wasn’t brought up by either side.

They were there for me for anything I wanted to talk about. They brought me soup. They would likely have done more for me but it just made us ad and weird to see their faces so we declined.

On one follow up appointment they told me they had “talked to some of their peers” and played around with their soft birth doll and model pelvis to see what had happened. R said that his sticky shoulder was just “wackadoo” the worst she’s ever seen. A friend who’s training for homebirth midwifery, later told me that it HAD come up to be looked at by the ‘council of midwives’ or whatever but I never heard of it at the time. Nothing AT ALL like when you lose your baby in a hospital, and there are inquiries, there are reviews, there is an attempt to give the parents ANSWERS and some small piece of mind. No my midwives were back delivering babies the next week.

Unlike so many other homebirth loss moms my midwives weren’t negligent They didn’t lie to me. They did call 911. They just were not enough. Their skill wasn’t enough, their equipment wasn’t enough the sheer fact that there was two of them vs. a whole floor of maternity staff wasn’t enough and it turns out our “transfer plan” was way too little when emergency struck and even the heros at 911 were too little too late when we decided to birth at home.

I see so many people say to other moms, “You should have gotten experienced certified midwives, you needed complimentary care, they should have called 911 sooner, a good midwife will know complications when she sees it, Well your midwife should have been monitoring you and baby.” I HAD ALL THOSE THINGS. The *BEST* OOH Midwives are still NOT ENOUGH to save baby’s life in an emergency.

Advertisements

I am not “anti-home birth”.

This post has been quietly brewing in my mind for awhile now. It’s hard to define where exactly I stand on home birth but what I do know is that I am anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, anti-judgement, anti-disrespect…but I am NOT anti-home birth. Somehow the subject of birth and how one chooses to do so has become almost as delicate a subject as religion and politics. Oh wait…maybe that’s because those two things happen to fuel a lot of how and why someone chooses to birth. There is a terrifying birth story that is making waves and going viral all over the internet right now. You may have read it. Here is a link. The comments on the post itself as well as on a number of birth communities on Facebook have ranged from empathy, sorrow, love, and kindness to blame, distaste, and apathy. This is not a dead baby story. But it could have been.

Many of the more negative comments talk about how the writer is clearly anti-home birth and how “that’s just not fair” to happy home birthers. I get it. I had two beautiful hospital births and when people talk about how bad hospital births are I get a little defensive. Truth is it really doesn’t matter. We are humans with our own emotions and we get to own them whether someone else agrees or not. Maybe the writer is anti-home birth. She is sending a message that “hey, there are crappy home birth midwives out there. Be careful.” Maybe not everyone is hearing that but I am. But NO ONE has a right to say her feelings are not valid or that she should have picked a better midwife, etc….

I cannot emphasize the importance of education any more than I already do. This includes the client but more than anything includes the provider, or any professional one may hire for a service. Our country has a problem with how it manages home birth deliveries and the midwives and people that attend them. States vary on their regulations and standards of education. Many midwives are not bound legally by any form of liability insurance. More than anything, this just makes me sad. So I’m not anti-home birth….I am anti-lack of education, lack of experience…so many mistakes were made in that birth. It’s not the first time and sadly, that won’t be the last time either. An educated, proficient provider would have called 911 the moment she noticed the waters were stained with meconium. This is just one of the many problems with the birth and I am not going to keep breaking it down. Anyone can see from reading the story that there were many mistakes made.

Lastly, I would like to address a comment that keeps getting thrown around by many people who are clearly “anti-hospital birth”….”Babies die in the hospital ALL THE TIME!”. You guys. This is NOT true. In fact, it is RARE for a baby to die in hospital and most of the cases in which one does not make it is due to some kind of fetal anomaly that could not have been prevented (like a cord accident or genetic issue).

Anyway, I had to get these feelings out. I had to express how sad I am that, 16 months later, this mama is experiencing so much birth trauma. I have no doubt that writing about it helps her. I had to share that, though I may have concerns about home birthing, I am not against it.

Behave in the comments. Remember to be respectful.

we need GREAT midwives

This post is coming to you as I have had several days to think about the amazing reactions I’ve had to my most recent post My Thoughts on Home Births. The thing about midwifery is that there are way too many distinctions of different kinds of midwives. Just a few: Lay, Direct Entry, Certified Professional Midwife and Certified Nurse Midwife….the only thing you need to know is that a CNM is the ONLY type of midwife with a clinical degree in nursing. That means she (or he in some places!) has a high school diploma, bachelors in nursing, masters in nursing and nurse midwifery certifications and degrees. I’m taking a rather slow and easy road to midwifery, but if one is on the normal track to becoming a midwife straight out of high school, then she will have been in school for at least 6 years, if not more in some cases. She also must take continuing education in basic life support, neonatal resuscitation, suturing, etc. CPMs, Lay, and Direct Entry midwives may have some pre recs to take before entering a program and in less than 3 years they could be on their own catching babies, mostly at home. Those midwives are not certified to work in a hospital or in some birthing centers. All this to say…education makes a huge difference and as I said in the last post about home birth, I am a HUGE advocate for education, both of the provider and the patient.

I say this because, despite my not being a fan of home birth, our country still needs good great home birth midwives. People who want to give birth at home, educated or not, are going to give birth at home and they should do so with a great midwife. The most ideal home birth midwife would be a CNM. I know a few CNMs who actually attend births at home. This area gets sticky depending on different state regs, but in Colorado, it is allowable. Now, does she carry liability insurance? Probably not because it is too expensive to do so. Would I hire a midwife to attend my birth without liability insurance? No, because that also means that my insurance is most likely not going to cover a dime. Regardless, we need to accept that, while home birth is not the safest place to have a baby, that it’s still going to happen and they need to be attended by great home birth midwives.

What does a great home birth midwife look like? In a perfect world, she is a CNM and has experience working in a hospital setting. She has a relationship with the local hospital in which transferring is not looked at with such negativity and she carries liability insurance. She carries a post-patrum hemorrhage kit with her, along with a tank of O2, an IV kit with plenty of fluids and oxytocin. She has THREE assistants..not just one or two. These are also CNMs who have just as much experience and understanding in labor, birth, and newborn care. She also only takes on truly low-risk moms. In a perfect world, right? For now, our focus should be on having the same standard of midwifery care at home as we do in the hospital. That scope needs to include the same amount of schooling and continuing education that is required of CNMs today. If you know anything about education, you also know that those standards change constantly and in my experience, become more thorough and strict. That is great! Midwifery is a profession just like any other and you wouldn’t hire someone who was not fully educated to take care of you and your baby, right?

The reason we need great home birth midwives is because we need to lessen the number of neonatal deaths. Since families are going to make that choice whether I agree with them or not, we still need to have educated, great midwives attending those births. We need to continue to hold midwives accountable who have had deaths or complications made because of their lack of education or preparedness.

Remember, we don’t want to bury our babies twice, or even once if we can! #notburiedtwice

shadow

I have been thinking about how I can start to get more hands-on experience in the field of women, pregnancy and childbirth. I can certainly shadow the midwives that I know here at the hospital, however, I feel like I need something different right now. I need a new perspective on the whole birth thing. So I contacted a local CPM, a midwife who does home births. She has attended more than 3000 births and has the kind of experience and statistics I am seeking to learn from. We have emailed a few times. I can’t wait to meet her!

Have you shadowed a midwife? What was your experience like?

Hannah’s Home Birth Story

Here is a beautiful home birth for your Monday morning! This birth comes from a very dear friend of mine. Her little girl is almost one–hard to believe! These photos are incredible and the story is so encouraging. Enjoy!

****

I will start by telling you the end of the story.  Hannah Lynn Thurlow was born at 3:30am, weighing 8lb11oz and measuring 21-1/4” with an Apgar of 9/10.  If you are like most, that is where your interest in my baby, a perfect stranger to you, ends.  If you are a mother or mother-to-be curious about alternative birthing methods, read on!

My birth tale ends like most stories, so you can breathe a sigh of relief.  Here’s the juicy part: Hannah is my first baby.  Oh wait, here’s the really juicy part: she was born at home on my couch thanks to some olive oil and a great midwife named Paulette.

Two and a half years ago, my husband’s company moved us to North Dakota.  On our first anniversary, we decided to start trying to conceive and were successful almost immediately to our great relief and joy.  And that’s when people started telling me their aw-ful birth stories.  Now, I know this is a common phenomenon – like a rite of passage for every first-time mom to be baptized by horror stories – but these mom’s weren’t yarning me some ole’ crusty sailor fables about how much it hurt and how bad they tore.  Each mom had a disappointing story about how the staff or the doctor treated them at the local hospital.  To add icing to this terror cake, they would tell me about dirty shared showers with splatters of blood from other laboring mothers as the only resource for “water birth” in the labor wing.  Yeah.  Splatters.

Three years ago a friend of mine had a “home birth” at a midwife’s home-like birthing office in a peaceful, jetted tub surrounded by vanilla candles and loving family.  I figured, heck, let’s by-pass the splatters and figure out this home birth thing.

Thankfully, my a different friend ran into someone at a chiropractor’s office who knew someone who knew someone that knew the well-seasoned, protected, and venerated Midwife Paulette.  Paulette is what some call a direct-entry midwife.  In other words, during the 1970’s when the hippy movement was going strong and Ina May was starting life on The Farm, Paulette lived in North Dakota among some free-spirited women in the boonies with little to no hospital access.  A midwife was born.  When she and I first spoke on the phone, she had delivered 554 babies.  Hannah was number 572, a mere three months later.

Paulette is popular.  Paulette is the only home birth midwife serving over half the state of North Dakota.  She has long silver-white hair which she ties neatly in a bun.  Her eyes are sparkling blue, and she always smiles with a chuckle following closely behind.  If one could imagine the perfect, motherly midwife, it would be Paulette.

But, before I met her, I figured she would either be absolutely normal or a total weirdo, pseudo-spiritual, voo-doo-esque gal because those are clearly the only two options for a crazy, direct-entry midwife, right?  During our first conversation she told my husband and I that she considers it an honor to be “God’s hands on earth welcoming new life into this world.”  She believes how we enter this world is a major factor in forming the baby’s early sense of peace and well-being.  Even though this may sound voo-doo and weird to some, coming from her smiling, glowing face, I suddenly felt everything would be “a-ok” with her assisting our home birth.  Out of her birthing history, she had lost two babies due to circumstances completely out of her control.  She had delivered breech babies, surprise twins, and surprise triplets.  She had back-up oxygen, hemorrhage stoppers, herbs, know-how, sanitized tools, patience, a stethoscope, references, and all kinds of other tools in her tool bag of midwifery.

I did a lot of research and musing before fully committing to the home-birth plot.  I found great resources at my local library, which included The Business of Being Born along with some other more home-spun DVD’s of natural births and a handful of books.  I learned which trouble signs to look for (amniotic fluid that is not clear, breech concerns, erratic or slow heartbeat, etc).  I researched natural pain relief and practiced labor easing moves on my appropriately red birthing ball.  I ordered essential oils to be massaged on my low back to ease pain and strengthen my uterus.  I attended birthing classes at the local hospital.  I maintained a healthy diet and consumed lots of birth prep herbs (red raspberry, etc).  We filled up our inflatable birthing tub while at the same time packing a hospital bag just in case.  I had concurrent care with a Certified Nurse Midwife should we have needed to deliver at the hospital.  I opted to have the 20 week ultrasound to rule out concerns over immediately needed, life-saving surgeries for our baby based on physical abnormalities.  I went in for my blood sugar labs and fetal non-stress test.  Lastly, I talked to other mothers who had successful home births to find encouragement and inspiration.

After all the preparation, I prepared more by finding scriptures to encourage me during the labor and filled my iPod with worship music as I knew my greatest strength would come from the Lord – my source of life and centeredness.

Then, I waited.  I waited for that glorious moment when labor starts.  I thought labor would start with a bang, like the shot at the beginning of the Kentucky Dirby or something.  Hannah was nine days late, and for seven of those nine days, my body decided to play around with the idea of labor.  I had real-deal contractions for almost the entire seven days.  When labor intensified and my labor finally began, I had actually been to the hospital the previous night because my contractions were strong and only two minutes apart.  Paulette lived one hour and 45 minutes away from my house, so we figured the hospital may be the wisest choice in case a baby was about to be born.  Instead, the nurse gave me a morphine shot in my leg to help me rest (I hadn’t slept for five nights) and sent me and my 2.5 cm cervix home.

noelle1

As per what usually happens, my water did eventually break after another day of hard contractions.  Did I mention Hannah had a 14” head?  Yeah.  We blame that factor for why her head would not drop, engage my thinning cervix, and get the party started sooner.  To overcome her big head (or short cord as the other theory goes), I spent the day squatting over a towel during contractions and pushing forcefully on the top of my fundus, or Hannah’s butt if you want to think of it that way.

At 7:00pm on June 7th, my water broke during a pee-pee break right into the toilet.  The waters were clear.  I was elated.  My mom predicted Hannah would be out by 9:30pm.  Not so.  With all the pre-labor/real-deal labor, my uterus was tired.  So, it (my uterus) would have a go at extracting said wee-one, then take a break.  In other words, though I was dilated to 9.5 cm’s with a slight lip, my contractions never became regular.  Paulette was relaxed and unworried.  She advised me to focus all of my energy downward – to lower my voice, visualize the ground opening up beneath me, and to breathe toward the center of the earth.

noelle2

I bobbed around to different positions in the birth pool.  Sometimes on my knees with legs spread wide.  Sometimes leaning over the edge holding my husband’s hand while he read me scriptures.  Sometimes floating back with my neck resting on the edge and my hands squeezing the convenient handholds.  I ate some banana with peanut butter.  I drank some electrolyte/vitamin water.  I got out occasionally for Paulette to listen to Hannah’s heartbeat and to use the bathroom.  I sang along to songs.  I prayed.  We all prayed.  The work was painful, hard, and, by the time midnight rolled around, long.

I was really tired.  More tired than I had ever been.  But also alive, excited, nervous, and focused on the end goal.  I wanted to meet my sweet girl and hold her.  I instinctively reached into my cervix to feel the top of Hannah’s head.  At first, the whole length of my index finger fit.  After more work, the second knuckle.  After more work, the very tip.  I was focused.  I was in a bit of a labor trance, cherishing every breath and hoping for the next breath and strength to push.  My husband was tired and worried and wishing he could help more.

Hannah began to crown.  Paulette had me lean back so she could see better and assist.  For almost a half hour, her brown, waving hair would crown, then my uterus would quit, and her head would suck back in.  It was both exhilarating and frustrating!  Eventually, Paulette determined that perhaps more movement and the help of gravity would get things moving along.  She suggested I get out and walk (yeah right!) over to our couch.  With the help of my husband and mom, we somehow got my wet, contracting form over to the towels and blood pads Paulette had quickly spread on the couch.

I hated it.  I didn’t want to be out of the nice, helpful water.  I wanted a water birth.  But more than anything, I wanted Hannah out of me!  The new location did the trick.  The extra discomfort woke my uterus back up.  The contractions were stronger.  Then, the olive oil came out.  Paulette asked my mom to fill a peri-bottle with olive oil to help her stretch and massage my perineum.  Hannah was anointed with oil before she breathed her first breath!  After two peri-bottles full of oil and more pushing, Hannah’s head finally crowned.

noelle3

At 3:27am, Paulette muttered something like, “We’ve got to get this baby out,” which suddenly worried me that there could be something wrong if I didn’t hurry up.  On the next contraction, I gave ‘er all I had.  Paulette noticed the contraction had stopped and told me to stop pushing.  I just shook my head and kept bearing down.  And, it worked.  At 3:30am, the second phase of labor was over.

noelle4

Hannah’s umbilical cord was too short to bring her to breast immediately, so we waited for it to stop pulsing.  My husband cut the cord, and I clumsily latched Hannah for her first taste of nature’s best food.

The rest of the story is simple.  No IV fluids.  No foot pricks.  No antibiotic goop in Hannah’s eyes.  No obligatory trip to the nursery to check her vitals and give her the ole’ body temperature test.  No HepB or VitaminK shots.  Just nursing until my uterus expelled the placenta (all while balancing over the toilet – let me be the first to say it was bloody and not too comfortable for my tired body).  I showered.  My husband gave Hannah a spit bath after she was weighed and measured.   He dressed her.  Paulette examined me.  We nursed.  We ate a HUGE breakfast.  Then, we all slept in our own beds.  We were weary.  We were home.

noelle

I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  I hope to have a homebirth for all the babies we may have in our future.  There is nothing easy about natural labor.  It’s not glamorous (I have pictures to prove it).  The big point for me is that my body was made for labor, and I succeeded.  A certain amount of pride and strength comes with that.  After hearing more birth stories, I know home birth is not for everyone nor is it for every birthing occasion.  I may need a baby-saving c-section someday.  I may birth at a hospital.  If you do not think home birth is your best choice, by all means, do not feel guilty or like less of a woman.  If you do choose home birth or natural birth at a birthing center, know with absolute certainty that you can do it.  Because, after all, I was crazy enough to do it on my first baby with no clue of what I was about to experience.  I hope you enjoyed our story.

On Home Birth vs Hospital Birth (for me)

(A personal post…)

I have so much on my mind. Hop on the coaster with me as I write out these jumbled thoughts.

I am so inspired by other midwives. I read a great interview with Rachel Reed, a midwife in Aussie on the Sunshine Coast. She is a home birth midwife and one of the few in the entire country. She says,

Maternity care needs to focus on what women want and on evidence based, humane practice. Midwives need to embrace their core purpose which is to be ‘with woman’ and stop trying to gain status through aligning themselves with medicine. We need to rebuild our own body of knowledge based on women’s experiences, and underpinned by a deep understanding of birth physiology.

What a powerful statement! Being a midwife is not about the other midwives you meet or work with, it’s about being with women in their most vulnerable, precarious state. I feel so blessed that I am on this road and will join midwives like herself whom I can channel positive energy and encouragement from. I know of several midwives who work in our hospital but I have not had a chance to get to know them or ask questions.

On that note, we (as in my husband and I) are planning on our 2nd baby. (Happy Dance!) This means I have been researching everything I can on the one and only birth center in Colorado, Mountain Midwifery, and home birth midwives in my area. First off, I did not realize that home birth midwives in Colorado are ALL CPMs, Certified Professional Midwives. This took me back for a moment. I respect the knowledge and education any midwife gains, whether she is a CPM or CNM. However, I have never been comfortable with the idea of a CPM at my birth. Go ahead, scold me for being judgmental. I only judged for a moment until I read the true definition of a CPM and what the Colorado requirements are for one to practice home birth in Colorado:

Registered Midwives are professionals trained exclusively in midwifery through academics and apprenticeship, by direct-entry. These “Direct-Entry Midwives” are licensed to practice homebirth in Colorado. Only Registered Midwives are specifically trained to serve the homebirth population in Colorado. The majority of midwives worldwide are direct-entry midwives.

As you can tell, I am still learning. There is such a huge scope for midwives and as I’ve said before, I am not planning on becoming a home birth midwife, though I support home births and the midwives who attend them 100%. I felt better after I read on and more comfortable and began a search into the CPMs in my area as well.

During my search, I called Mountain Midwifery to get some clarity on their financial information. I also called my insurance company beforehand to find out what they covered. My insurance is through the hospital and is self-funded, meaning that the rules do not apply to someone like myself wanting a birth in a birth center. The law states that a fully-funded insurer cannot deny my right or coverage to birth in a birth center. That being said, my insurance does not cover a home birth or birth at the center. :::headdesk::: I was defeated! But I called anyway to find out exactly how much we’d be paying as a self-pay patient in the center: $4500, give or take a bit. WOWOWOO!! Really?! Defeated again.

I knew then that the birth center was out of the question and my emotions toyed with me as I battled over the “this is worth it” and “how will I get the birth I want in a hospital” thoughts. I also knew that home birth midwives charge $1000-3000. They do accept insurances and most reimburse you but mine won’t. So I’m screwed there too. I wish I could say we’d save up and make it work, but we have other obligations and needs for our families. Today, I have been letting my mind accept that our birth will take place at the hospital, the same we delivered in the first time. This is not a bad thing. We had a great experience and the NICU is incredible. We never imagined we’d need it but we did and walked away with nothing but good thoughts.

The trouble I’m having is what I know now about the inner workings of the nurses and what our hospital requires. I have seen the looks on the faces, the eye rolls, and general annoyance they have with certain patients, especially those who are choosing to birth outside of their (the nurses/hospital) idea of what birth should be like. I get that. Some of these nurses have been in L&D for years and have a very set way and frame of mind as to what labor and birth should look like. However, I really believe in continuing education, especially in the birthing world and wish the newer knowledge surrounding birth was more accepted. For example, the fact that ALL low risk births in England are attended by a midwife and only if a complication arises and a patient is high risk does an OB get involved. I really believe in revolutionizing this part of our hospitals thinking but have no idea how or when the change will come.

Until then, I will, both as a patient and student, continue to educate myself on my birth choices and what I want for our next hospital birth.  I’m just glad to say that my reasoning for not having a home birth is no longer based on the fear of something bad happening (as it was for a long time). Thank you to many birth warriors out there for curbing that fear and allowing me to become more in touch with what my body is capable of.

Happy Hump Day!