A Birth Story

San Clemente Family Photographer-3557

San Clemente Family Photographer-3517 San Clemente Family Photographer-3529 San Clemente Family Photographer-3534 San Clemente Family Photographer-3544 San Clemente Family Photographer-3545 San Clemente Family Photographer-3547 San Clemente Family Photographer-3549 San Clemente Family Photographer-3585 San Clemente Family Photographer-3604 San Clemente Family Photographer-3656 San Clemente Family Photographer-3670 San Clemente Family Photographer-3680There’s a mason jar that sits on the plywood concrete block shelf Willy built about a year ago that also houses a portion of our record collection, our record player, and a few other knick knacks and books and plants. Within that mason jar are several pieces of paper folded in such a way that the words remain hidden; guesses, if you will, as to when the baby would come, how big it would be, whether it would be a boy or a girl, and how long it would be. Everyone from friends, even one in Florida, to grandparents, great grandparents, and neighbors pitched in on the pot, hopeful to take home a portion of the pot of money. It seemed like a fun idea until it got near the end when, well, truthfully nothing is fun anymore. I unfolded those little bits of paper and staring back at me were dates from weeks before. Even my own guess, made in some sort of hopeful and delusional state, was far gone.

Sonny, the wait was nearly longer than your mama could bear but, as I suppose they say – and as I peek over my shoulder at you so perfectly asleep and content in your bouncer- you were worth it.

Everyone has a story, my dear Sonny, this is yours.

———-

As your induction date grew nearer, I became more obsessed with getting you out before eviction time. I started to get hung up on stupid shit – like whether you’d be an Aires or a Pisces – and even considered changing my induction date because, I’m telling you, I was going crazy. If only hindsight weren’t 20/20. If I could have the peace of mind that I do today, knowing what I know now, I would have waited with more grace, more patience; I would have waited a lifetime. But, alas, the end of my pregnancy with you felt like a lifetime with each day sucking whatever energy I had and whisking it away like a broom sweeping dust off a porch. I read once that cats runaway prior to giving birth; they find somewhere dark and birth their kittens in the loneliness and company of dark shadows. I can relate. I wanted to dig a hole and not come out until I had you in my arms.

I woke up that morning looking forward to my appointment, eager for the doc to give me some crystal ball answer of when I would go into labor; which, truthfully, I knew was a lousy thing to rely on given the fact at the previous appointment he said I’d have you in my arms within the next 5 days. That appointment was over a week prior. I suppose it’s that very lack of control, the uncertainty, that makes pregnancy so troubling at times; so much to worry about and get hung up on.

He did a quick ultrasound and confirmed that my fluid levels were great, your heart beat perfect. He didn’t comment on your size, per his usual less-is-more conversational skills and at-that-point I was glad; I knew deep down you’d be big and going into labor without that seed of fear planted in my head helped to some degree. He stripped my membranes, for at least the third – maybe fourth – time and reminded me, once again, that he’s never put a women into labor by stripping her membranes. I was 4 cm and 80% effaced and though that came as a pleasant surprise, google was quick to remind me that others stayed at these measurements for weeks, some even having to be induced for ‘failure to progress’ beyond those measurements. No such reassurance with this pregnancy gig, I’m tellin’ ya. He hooked us up to the fetal monitor, checked your heart rate against some contractions during a non-stress-test, told me you look “too perfect”, asked that I not go into labor until after midnight – after his sushi date with his wife – and I left his office.

I met up with a friend of a friend later in the afternoon, who agreed to do some acupressure. By this point I had sworn off all natural induction tricks but given the fact she was referred by a friend who referred to her as “the big guns” and offered to help out of the kindness of her heart, it was hard to say no. I met her at her house and she worked on some areas on my feet, shoulders, neck, and back while her son played with legos and their new puppy pissed on the carpet.

I stopped on the way home to get a pedicure, which is something I’ve never gotten in the two years of living here. But, given the fact I’m unable to bend due to my fused spine and now even less able to bend because of, well, your ridiculous size, I figured someone who does not love me ought to trim my nails and scrape the dead skin off my feet. There was a women sitting with her feet in the tub when I got there. She glanced over as I was picking out a color and said, “you look like you deserve a pedicure, when are you due?”. I gave her the I-know-right look and told her my due date had come and gone sometime ago. I climbed up to the massage chair, flipped through some trashy magazines that I only seem to ever pick up while waiting in line at the grocery store or at a doctor’s appointment, and left the nail salon with cherry red toe nails feeling like now would be a good time to go into labor. As would yesterday, but – ya know – ships sail.

The rest of that day was spent like the days that preceded it — waiting. I waited all the way through dinner and got in bed that night dreading the passing of another day and feeling much like I did the evenings preceding it — defeated. I got up to the bathroom, noticed some blood tinged mucous, googled “bloody show”, compared pictures others had posted, told Willy it could mean we’d be on our way to the hospital soon OR it could mean several more days of waiting (thanks, again, google for all your wonderfully definitive information), and got in bed with just the slightest glimmer of hope to combat the usual feeling of defeat.

As if you had more respect for our OB than I, just a few minutes after midnight – per his request – I felt the first contraction that caught my attention and briefly made me exhale just a tad longer than usual. Not being the first time I was awoken by a contraction that seemed to be gaining in magnitude, I didn’t get too excited. I did consider timing it to see when the next one would come and sure enough, five minutes later, I had another. I stopped timing them, however, when ten more minutes went by and nothing much happened. Defeat, pouring back in.

Then, around 12:20am (keep track of the time here because it’s an important part of your story), I heard a “pop”. I turned to your Papa and said, “did you hear that?”. He wrote me off entirely, assumed I was dreaming and responded to me the same way you’d respond to a drunk person who you know isn’t in their right mind to be having a serious conversation. He blamed it on my back, “It was probably just your back cracking”. Only it felt very internal. To be honest, I thought you had broke your neck. I spent the next couple of minutes waiting for you to move, to be sure you were okay, and when you responded with some gentle kicks, I got up to go to the bathroom hoping to see some sign of impending labor. Alas, nothing. Defeat, pouring back in.

I climbed back in bed and succumbed to the fact it was going to be another sleepless night, waiting and wondering and anticipating. And then my underwear started to feel wet. My first inclination was to wait, to be sure. My second inclination was to get out of bed and avoid having to deal with a mattress soaked with amniotic fluid. I made my way to the bathroom, again, this time accompanied by a clear puddle of water beneath my feet. I called my doula, told her in a calm voice that my water broke and asked her what I’m supposed to do now. Given the time and lack of sleep, she suggested waiting just a bit and trying to get some more rest. I knew in my heart of hearts I would not be able to take her advice.

I made my way back to the bed and had a contraction that made me grab hold of the bedding for support. Your Papa called the OB. I went over to my desk and consulted the list I had made (I love lists) of tasks to complete in early labor; things like shower, put toiletry bag in backpack, turn off computer, etc, etc. I started moaning in such a way that your Papa said, “How ’bout you stop doing that stuff and we start to head over to the hospital”. I agreed because it was obvious shit was gonna go down. We got in the car about 12:30am.

My contractions seemed to be escalating quickly. It literally went from my water breaking to full-on labor land mode. I tried to watch the clock to time them but each time one came I was swept away in such a way that no thoughts registered, common logic had all but left. I was in survival mode and the drive to the hospital felt like the longest drive of my life. The commute to the hospital is about 20 minutes and your Papa must had been driving 95 mph in addition to running several red lights. I heard your Papa on the phone with the OB, “I’m no OB but I think things are moving pretty quickly…”.

When we got to the hospital your Papa wheeled me into the waiting room of the ER. For the brief second I could open my eyes I could see about 10 to 15 people sitting in chairs, waiting to be seen. I gave them quite the show and I’m sure any one of them would have offered to give up their place in line for the screams of the woman in dire need that just bursted through their doors. Luckily the OB, God bless him, showed up a few minutes later and he was actually the one to wheel me up to the delivery unit. Your Papa went to park the truck.

On the way to the elevator, the OB – the one I’ve called some not nice names and debated leaving several times – rubbed my shoulders and whispered in my ear, “you’re doing awesome”. He probably knew he’d be home soon enough. I’m such a cynical bitch (should I apologize to you for that now or later in life?). Before we even made it out of the elevator, I felt the urge to push. I didn’t fight it. Past experience told me that the nothing was coming out of me with any sort of ease, so with each contraction, I bore down.

There was a room full of people waiting for me and next thing I knew they were asking me to get out of the wheelchair and into the bed. I remember the transfer being so difficult. Your Papa came in from the parking lot. I was still in my dress when I got into bed. I heard one nurse mention something about putting an IV in me, the other nurse declaring that there wouldn’t be time. They made an attempt at putting the monitor around my belly, asked me to switch positions a few times, and urged me to breath in the oxygen they were giving me. The OB checked and everyone stopped moving so fast when they declared me to be 6 cm. My heart sunk. It was 1:10am. They inserted the aforementioned IV. I still felt the urge to push and I couldn’t fight it, so I continued to push with each contraction. Not but a few minutes later I heard the OB say, “we’re going to have a baby here within the next 20 seconds”… and the room full of nurses started cheering on my pushing efforts. About four contractions later, at 1:16am, you were on my chest… your fluid-filled ball sac catching my eye during the transfer. A boy! They could have handed me a monkey and in that instant I still would have felt nothing other than complete and utter relief.

Moments later, my mom came in — the look of complete and utter surprise across her face. And moments after her, our doula arrived. Both intended to be at the birth but turns out that while some hurry up and wait, you prefer to wait and hurry up.

You pooped while you were on my chest, in true Jennett fashion (Hooper pooped on the way out too) and we all laughed by just how much poo there was and just how many of us your poo touched (all over my dress, all over your Papa who went to grab you and came out with fingers caked in green meconium, all over the nurses that eventually bathed you, and even on the OB who left soon-thereafter with poo on his jacket).

You latched on and breastfed like a champ, everyone commenting on the perfection of your latch.

We all took guesses at what you would weigh, with the majority of us (and the nurses) guessing in the 8 pound ballpark, sprinkled with a few 9 pound guesses. All of our jaws dropped when the scale read 10 lbs 0 oz. TEN POUNDS? So much for keeping an eye on my weight in hopes of it affecting yours. Should we be blessed with another baby in the future, I will surely take up smoking.

Welcome to the world, our world anyway, hope you enjoy your time here my sweet Sonny.

Born on St. Patricks Day, as only luck would have it.

———-

Post Script

Your Papa and I laugh about the fact you were almost born in the car. It seems only fitting that we have two ‘failed’ home birth attempts under our belts only to plan a hospital birth that nearly misses the hospital all together. There has been construction on the freeways here and given the 20 minute commute to the hospital, had you decided to come in the daytime hours, you would most certainly have been delivered in the car.

One additional token of irony is the ease of which you came out… the biggest babe of mine yet and somehow the easiest to deliver and with the fewest repercussions.

All of it proof, I suppose, that life doesn’t always have to make sense.

The difference between midwives and OBs

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I have a lot of conflicted emotions about medical care and for anyone that looks in through a window at my life, I’m sure they would be confused as well.

For starters, I work in the medical field as a registered nurse. I work with doctors, surgeons, case managers, social workers, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, dietitians, radiologists and so on and so forth. I seem to baffle a lot of my co-workers when I divulge the fact my first two children were planned to be born at home, in the care of midwives, given the fact that I should know what “could” happen and all that jazz.

If I’m being honest, I’m happy to be planning a hospital birth this time around. Two failed attempts is enough for me and while I support it wholeheartedly for other women, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not for me. I wish it was.

This is the first pregnancy I’ve been followed by an OB, from the beginning. The OB that delivered Hooper was fantastic, fully knew and supported the midwives I was working with, and did a fantastic job navigating Hooper’s tumultuous birth (though I’m still against induction despite the fact I know it’s necessary at times — I blame much of the decline in Hooper’s birth experience on the pitocin I was given).

During my pregnancy with Van, I had to chose a different back-up OB (the previous OB suffered a sudden death heart attack, which hit many in the OB community like a ton of bricks). I met with the new OB one, maybe two times. Because Van’s birth involved an ambulance transfer to the closest hospital, the OB that actually delivered him had never met us before (and to-be-clear by delivered, what I actually mean is pushed on my belly until his 9.8 pound body literally popped out — it was, um, audible). Point being, I’ve had OBs that have had to intervene along the way, but this is my first pregnancy where I will have been seen by the same OB from beginning to end, and more-or-less, only by him (I can’t help but think as I type that how ironic it would be if he couldn’t make my birth for some unforeseen reason and baby #3 ended up being delivered by yet another, new-to-me, OB. Hashtag: funny not funny).

So in a sense, I’m merely jumping through the hoops this go-around. I’ve had more ultrasounds in the first half of this pregnancy than I had combined in my pregnancies with Hooper and Van. I’m taking my first ever glucose screening test (I opted not to with the midwives because I was checking my blood sugars regularly at work and knew that if anything, my sugars were running on the low side of normal — therefore ruling out gestational diabetes).

The one thing I did turn down was the genetic testing and that’s based on nothing other than the fact that finding out the results of the test would have no bearing my decision to go through with the pregnancy.

I had my first ever ‘comprehensive ultrasound / anatomical screening’, which I was surprised to learn is not performed by regular OBs but by perinatologists instead. The very definition of a perinatiologiat, by the way, is “a physician that works in conjunction with a patient’s obstetrician when pregnancy complications develop and is able to provide care for both the mom and unborn baby”. My eyes were already rolling before I even made the appointment because I understand the absurdity in involving a physician who deals with complications being involved in the care of an individual experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy. But, alas, the hoops — I’ve agreed to jump through them (almost entirely for Willy’s sake; as he was rather traumatized from the first two births).

When I arrived at the perinatologists office, the receptionist pointed out where the bottles of water were; they sat on a fancy mirrored tray above the magazines that included none of the trashy stuff I only pick up in doctor’s office and in line at the grocery store, but instead “Travel & Leisure” and other sophisticated crap my burnt out brain cells didn’t feel like picking up. The sofa was oversized and included a large velvety blanket that I presume was there  in the event anyone felt like cuddling. Point being, it felt very spa-like. Very pampered. And this experience continued as I was shown to my room, which was dimly lit with a desk at the window like you would find in a hotel room; a desk I’m sure no one has ever sat at with a small cup of pencils I’m sure no one has ever written with. At the sink were special soaps and lotions and a basket of hand towels. I sat back in the large chair, with my feet up, and watched the ultrasound on the big screen tv placed in front of me. I was a bit disappointed the chair didn’t have one of those massage mechanisms like they do at the manicurists. I’m being facetious.

It’s funny because sometimes I want to remind the very patients I care for in the hospital that they are in fact in the hospital, because of medical necessity no less, and not in a hotel. But I found myself on the flip side, wanting to remind the staff that they are indeed in a medical office and not some kind of massage pallor. It made me question further if any of this were necessary as I assume things that are necessary contain less fluff and more, I dunno, latex gloves.

In any event, all checked out fine. I closed my eyes while they checked out the baby’s goods and met with the doc at the end who summarized the findings; “My only concern”, he said, “is the baby’s size. You’re measuring a week ahead of where your dates put you”. He went on to suggest I have an additional test done to rule out gestational diabetes (because gestational diabetes accounts for larger babies). We then had a conversation about the birth weight of the boys (Hooper was 8.15 and Van was 9.8) and how neither of those involved any gestational diabetes. He also confirmed that birth weight has a genetic component (both Willy and I were 8+ at birth). And despite all the exchange of information, and this is the part that makes me hate the medical field, he wrote me script for the additional gestational diabetes testing and said he’d like to see me back, at 32 weeks, to “see how the baby is growing”.

Surely at 32 weeks the baby will be growing. It isn’t rocket science. It also doesn’t take rocket science to make the prediction that I will be carrying another large baby. The best indicator of the future is to look to the past, after all. I also know that ultrasounds later in pregnancy are less accurate due to the fact the baby is taking up more room. Sometimes they say weight can be plus or minus a pound, which is pretty substantial when you’re talking about a being that is only a handful of pounds anyway. And what’s it matter? It bothers me that women are not trusted to birth babies anymore; that so many are encouraged to go down the planned c-section path or the planned induction path (and while I have no judgements toward woman that chose this path, I do have judgments on practitioners that lead their patients to this path based on some kind of instilled fear). I have no doubt that this baby will be big. I also have no doubt in my ability to work with my doctor to get it out safely.

I could go on and on. I could even jump over to the other side of the coin and defend certain arguments from that side as well but all in all I think the take home message that I want to remind myself is this: Trust your gut. The care you receive is at times reflective of the larger population and fails to take the individual experience into account. Be your own advocate and ask questions that force your practitioner to see you as an individual.

And so, thus far I haven’t had many, if any, questions for my OB. I spend more time waiting for my food at the drive-thru window than I do in his office for an appointment. But when I did ask about the baby’s weight and his confidence level in delivering a big baby, he more or less shrugged off my concerns, boasted about the 9 pound baby he delivered that morning, and before-I-knew-it I was back in my car, on my way home.

I miss the care of midwives. I miss having my belly measured and touched. My OB appointments are exactly the same: pee in cup, stand on scale, check blood pressure, wait a minute for doc, doc comes in and asks “any bleeding, cramping, discharge, headaches?”, performs an ultrasound and listens to the heartbeat for maybe 7 seconds, asks if I have any questions, and I’m dismissed.

I remember listening to Kevin & Bean on the radio talk about that show ‘I didn’t know I was pregnant’, about women who actually go into labor and deliver a baby having never known they were even pregnant. They talked about how surprising it was that a lot of these women birthed healthy babies despite the fact they didn’t receive prenatal care. I’m not so surprised; prenatal care thus far has not impressed me. I feel like a cow being led through a corral.

Would love to hear from any mamas out there that also birthed big babies. I have a friend who birthed a thirteen pound baby at home and I always channel her in my pregnancies. Would also love to hear from any others about their prenatal care / OB experience.

Van’s birth story, from a different perspective

A few months ago my sister and I had a conversation about having babies and Van’s (pseudo) home birth story came up. It’s come up before, but as time has passed, I’ve been more open to seeing it through someone else’s eyes. I still have my own opinions on the day, but I do think that should a third be in our future it would not be born at home. That’s partly because Willy has already downright insisted that it cannot be born at home; but it’s also because I partly agree. Been there, tried that. Twice.
Anyway, here’s Van’s big day, as told from the perspective of my sister, who was there to witness it.
My beef with home birth
Before my sister (the writer of this lovely blog, the stork herself) got pregnant with her first, Hooper, I didn’t really think much about home birth. I kind of associated it with yesteryear—women in log cabins on prairies and shit. I mean, why would sane people have babies at home when they can take a car ride to a hospital?
But, my sister explained it to me and, with her nurse background, she was rather convincing. I get it. Women want to be in the comfort of their own home. They want it to be peaceful. They don’t want machines and drugs and interventions pushed on them by a medical team that is concerned only with not getting sued, insurance coverage, and turning beds as fast as possible. Home birth sounds very romantic. That’s all fine and dandy, but keep in mind that I once thought it was romantic to be 23, eating beans out of a can for dinner with my broke-ass boyfriend.
With Hooper, my sister ended up in the hospital, against her wishes. She was overdue and they had to induce her. Then she couldn’t get the baby out, so they wheeled her to the OR. Using every stubborn ounce of strength in her body, she had the baby naturally in the OR room. The whole thing was rather touch-and-go, as they say. Willy couldn’t talk about it for weeks.
The second time, I was there. I didn’t think I would be. Her due date passed and my husband and I left on a 7-day backpacking trip in the Sierras, planned months in advance. We didn’t have cell coverage. I thought for sure we’d come back to hear she’d had the baby, but no. She was overdue again. The morning after we got back—I like to think Van was waiting for us—we got a very calm call saying she was in labor. They were deploying the big tub at home, the midwife was on her way. I was in tears driving up through Los Angeles traffic. I was convinced I’d miss the delivery because of all those a-holes on their way to work. Little did I know that births aren’t as fast and simple as they look on TV.
When I got there, she was just starting to push. She was in and out of the tub. She was on the floor. She was moaning, screaming. home birth pic 4
My dad and I tried our best to distract Hooper, who was obviously worried. He insisted on wearing his toy stethoscope.home birth pic 1
After what seemed like hours, the midwife started whispering to her assistant and we all started to wonder what was happening. Once again, my sister was having trouble getting the baby out. In hindsight, the difficulty probably had something to do with the crazy curve in her spine, which shifted all of her insides. She’d mentioned the scoliosis to her midwife, but didn’t really stress the severity of it (after all, she’d lived with it for years—was it that big of a deal? Um, yes, probably). I was terrified that she would get the head out and the body would be stuck. I’d heard horror stories. Willy was terrified that his wife was going to die. Sure, he thinks in extremes, but I understood his fear.home birth pic 2
The midwife made the decision to call the ambulance. A couple guys showed up, put her on a stretcher, and she was gone. We followed behind in a car—my mom, Willy, and me (my dad stayed back at the house with Hooper). The three of us were shaking, terrified.
When we got to the hospital, we rushed to her room. The screaming was intense. I had a moment of feeling bad for any other moms delivering. It sounded like a horror movie in there. Willy was by her side, my mom and I in the hallway. We were crying at that point—scared for my sister and scared for the baby. I told my mom to try to smile, for Ashley. It was my job to document the day.home birth pic 7
We heard a big POP—the doctor pushing on my sister’s belly—and then the baby wailing. We started crying more tears, of the relieved variety. We rushed in and saw the baby—he was a big 9-pounder—and quickly understood that things were okay. Willy asked the nurse how scary it was, on a scale from 1 to 10. She looked at us, with almost as much shock in her face as was in ours, and said, “That was a 9.”
My sister hates when people pose for the camera. She likes real emotion. But I think we were all afraid to show the real emotion in our faces that day. We wanted to be strong for her. So we smiled. After all, things turned out okay (even though I thought Van looked like Golem from Lord of the Rings).home birth pic 8home birth pic 9
My sister wants a third. I’ve told her that if they decide to have that baby, it better be in a hospital. I don’t care if her spine is fixed now. I don’t care that she would love to have the home birth she always wanted. She can go drug-free in a hospital, around professionals who can help her if anything goes awry. My good friend is married to an OBGYN and he says, “Look, most births go totally great. But when something goes wrong, it goes really wrong.” I’m sure lots of mothers have beautiful stories of their births, but for me, as a loved one, my sister’s births were scary. When I got home the day Van was born, I climbed in bed with my husband and I sobbed. I didn’t feel back to normal for days.
I wouldn’t say I’d discourage anyone from doing a home birth. I think it depends on your medical history and all that. I would say to know the risks, and consider the emotional impact on the people around you on that special day. And, make sure to educate those people about what to expect. My sister didn’t seem disturbed by what was going on and that was probably because she had watched lots of gory videos and had talks with her midwife and knew what the hell was happening. I wasn’t prepared, period. I was very fooled by the easy births you see in movies. Even in real life, most women have epidurals and drugs so there is no screaming (seriously, the screaming was the worst part). I watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians occasionally (#sorrynotsorry) and there was an episode when Kourtney Kardashian gives birth. The room was, like, silent. Her family was in there chatting with her. Chatting. She may as well have been getting a pedicure. So, yeah, maybe don’t go into a birth scenario with the Kardashians as your reference point. And if you have romantic notions about home birth, just think it through. Consider all the things you previously thought were romantic that really aren’t—like eating beans out of cans with your broke-ass boyfriend.

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Today I have a beautifully written post from Ama. I don’t even have anything to add because homegirl took the words right out of my mouth. So with no further adieu…
My name is Ama, I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina, and I had my son, Lane, a year ago at a birth center in South Carolina.
We had to cross the border, which sounds kind of exotic, because our options for birthing outside of a hospital in N.C. are extremely limited. Home births are illegal here, and there is ONE birth center in the state that’s too far from my city.
My reasons for choosing natural birth aren’t all that important to this story. I am basically a stress case and my dating ultrasound at my OB sent me into a frenzy of worry when there wasn’t a heartbeat at 8 weeks (only to see one at 12 weeks after I’d googled so much my fingers were bleeding). I knew that if I continued there, getting blood work, counting heart chambers, pregnancy would be a crazy uncertain time where I was constantly on edge.
So I toured the closest birth center I could find and chose my midwife at Carolina Community Maternity Center based on credentials alone, but the relationship soon became much more personal.
She calmed me.
For every prenatal appointment, I would work myself into a frenzy with a thousand first-time-mom questions and every appointment my midwife sat there with a beautiful understanding smile and listened to my concerns and hung out with me for an hour putting them all to rest. When we left the birth center each time, we were reminded why we were choosing natural birth, and we felt prepared to face a world that wasn’t sure what to make of our choice.
If you feel like delving into the specifics of our birth story, you can do so here.
My midwife was also there after the birth when I got mastitis at 2am and thought I was going to die and didn’t know what to do. I called her. Like a friend. She gave me a crazy off-the-wall remedy, something like drinking salt water and taking lecithin, but really she just told me I could beat it and assured me I wasn’t going to die.
Almost a year after Lane was born, we went back to the center and took him to his “place of origin” that had since been turned into a lactation room. My husband held Lane over the spot he was born and said, “Soak up the energy!” in this hippy dippy way and I smiled at them, thinking that if we had to have him in a hospital, we would never be able to do this….to go to the very spot he was born and pretend it could give him super powers.
I’m sharing this because that center needs help right now, and I feel like it’s the least I can do, after the beautiful experience I had, to try to help it.
Exactly a year after my son was born in a bedroom style room with only my husband and midwife present on a day where it was sunny and raining at the same time, the South Carolina DHEC suspended the birth center’s license.
The reason, taken from our local paper, the Charlotte Observer:
“The center claimed the state was enforcing a regulation that had never been previously enforced on any S.C. birthing center – that a physician be on call and available to provide medical assistance at the birthing center at all times.”
During pregnancy and childbirth, when everything is distorted and new and strange, a woman should have the right to choose what calms her.
For some of us, it’s the OB. It’s the blood work, the ultrasounds, the backup doctors and the hospital sanitation and the IVs and pain medications, and for those people there is no skepticism, no difficulty to follow that path. The US medical system supports that path.
But for some of us, we need the woman sitting there telling us we can do this when we aren’t sure if we can…telling us that we are powerful, and she will be there to help. For this path there seems to always be a fight – whether it’s with your parents who look at you like you’re crazy, or with the state who is narrowing your options.
My support group has put together a donation website for the center, to help them “pay the rent and bills” while the suspension is in place. Anything that isn’t used towards the reopening of the birth center will be donated to the South Carolina birth coalition.
You can donate towards our birth center here.
You can tour their website
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Side note: Congratulations to Natasha Tucker for winning the giveaway to Broken Tricycle. An email has been sent to you! And thank you to all who entered. Remember you can use coupon code STORK20 for 20% off your purchase.
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Then & Now

I’d say it’s amazing how fast a year goes, but that’s so cliche. Instead, I will say that with my first-born, every day felt like a marathon. I felt like that newborn phase was going to last for the rest of my life. When I had my second,  my perspective was much better. I knew it’d be a hard year and then it’d get easier.
Before I had kids, I couldn’t think more than a week ahead. I lived life day by day and rarely planned for anything and had a hard time committing to something unless it was going to happen the next day.
The days are long but the years are short, or so they say.
One year ago today I was sitting in the very same room as I type right now, in a birthing tub. This picture is obviously poor quality but it tells a story. The beginning of the story, anyway. A paper bag with a plastic bag in case I got nauseous (I didn’t), the sliver of the elbow of my midwife watching over me just barely making it in the right part of the frame, the birthing supplies in a trash bag on top of the pin ball machine that sat there un-used and taunting me for weeks (I was two weeks late), and Willy looking halfway helpful and halfway helpless.
I say it only tells the beginning of the story because we don’t have photos of the EMT’s who eventually came and had to transfer me butt-booty-naked in an ambulance to the hospital. We had our birthing plan all mapped out and, ultimately, we had to go with plan B.
Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it, does it?
And within ten minutes of being at the hospital, with one nurse pumping up and down on my stomach as if my heart were in my abdomen and I was in full cardiac arrest (clarification: I was not in cardiac arrest) and with some doc I had never met pulling and twisting, Van was born. All nine and half pounds of him.
On the days I work, I pump in a lactation room on the postpartum unit. I watched the other day as a newborn was wheeled past me and as I sat down to pump milk for Van, I thought how crazy it is that that little glow worm will be crawling and communicating and socializing in, what feels like, a blink of an eye.
Right now, Van is napping. I breastfed him while he held on to his blanket, his latest obsession, and laid him down in his crib. He quickly rolled over, hugging his blanket to his chest and sticking his little bum high up into the air.
One year. Three hundred and sixty five days. Fifty two weeks.
The days are long but the years are short; It’s true.
You can read Van’s entire birth story here

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Steps to Obtain Insurance Coverage for a Home Birth

1. Speak with different midwives in the area. All the midwives I spoke to seemed to offer different types of advice for getting insurance coverage and were extremely helpful and hopeful. Ask your midwife for specific information like their license number, EIN and NPI number, and even the CPT code. These are all helpful to have on hand and eventually necessary when finally getting through to your insurance company.
2. Call the member services 800 number on your insurance card and explore exactly what your benefits are.
3. Get transferred to the medical management department and explain that you are in need of pre-authorization or pre-certification for midwife services.
sidenote: It is my understanding that all midwifery care is considered out-of-network. In other words, no midwives operate as in-network providers. This does not, however, mean that they won’t cover it. It simply means that they need to agree to cover it before they are billed for such services in order to guarantee payment.
4. Get connected with a nurse case manager. This person is your best friend. Be nice, but be painfully persistant. This person is the one that actually applies for the pre-certification. You want this person on your team. This person will also be in close contact with your midwife, as they need information from both ends to make it all happen.
5. Your nurse case manager will initially try to explain that you need to stick to in-network providers. They will do their own search of in-network midwifery services and tell you to start with that list of providers first. My case manager prompted me to search through what she described as “2 pages of in-network providers”. When I ran the same search, there certainly were two pages. All the providers had the same address and phone number, however. When I called, they explained that they worked out of a hospital in downtown Los Angeles and did not offer home birth services. For those that are familiar with the LA area, you know that trying to get to downtown LA, depending on the time of day, could be insane. Especially for a laboring woman. This prompts the next step…
6. Explain why their list of in-network providers will not work. I explained that not only do they not offer the care I’m looking for, but that I’d also run the risk of delivering on the side of the road as navigating through LA traffic while in active labor wasn’t the safest plan. They will then proceed with obtaining what they call “in for out” coverage or in-network benefits for out-of-network providers.
7. Call daily for updates.
8. Obtain your pre-authorization number.
Wow, I can’t believe it can all be summed up in 8 steps. The entire process took about a week. Here are some additional tips I had found in my research:
-Keep notes of dates, times, people, and departments that you speak with.
-If you feel like you are coming up against a bump in the road, explain that you are trying to save them money. If the person you are talking to doesn’t seem thankful for the fact that a home birth is much more affordable for the insurance company than a hospital birth, then ask to speak to their supervisor. If the supervisor is a carbon copy of the idiot you were just speaking with, ask to speak to their manager. Eventually you will speak with someone who appreciates the save in cost.
-If they deny the pre-authorization, ask for details regarding the appeal process. I fortunately know nothing about this process other than it exists and others have successfully appealed, so if you are in this position, do not give up!
Here are three links I found useful in my research: one, two, three
…And now, some inspirational birthing images:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo sources: 1, 2, 3

16 Weeks

What was a battle last week has already ended in celebration this week. I have to say, I was quite prepared to go the distance. I had already researched the appeal process. I have notes with dates and names of people I talked too, all neatly kept in anticipation of having to include them in my appeal letter. Why am I celebrating, you ask?
Because I have an authorization number. From my insurance company.
What’s an authorization number, you ask? Oh, it’s just a little series of numbers that represent approval. Approval of a home birth. Yup, approval to cover the fiances of our home birth.
Hip hip hooray. Hip hip hooray. Hip hip hooray.
Wanna know how I did it? I’m dying to share. Stay tuned…

15 weeks

Fifteen weeks marks the beginning of what is clearly shaping up to be a battle. A downright brawl. Not a whose going to throw the first punch kinda fight, but rather a come out swinging kinda fight. The stuff people pay to see to pay-per-view. The knock me down and up I stand kinda fight.
I’m dealing with the insurance company.
I had (oh it feels nice to use past tense here) two obvious barriers to my gloriously planned home birth. I say two obvious barriers because I realize there will be subtle barriers along the way that I will deal with. Back to the obvious two: Willy and affordability. I wanted to get Willy on board first because it wasn’t even worth looking at the financial aspect if I didn’t have his support. But, alas, his support I have. In fact, with each passing day and a few heartfelt conversations, I’d venture to say I have more than just a complacent husband. As he works out his own issues of fear, he’s actually coming around to understand my mind frame a little more. And it’s oh so comforting. Gosh I love that guy.
On to the financial battle. We cannot afford to pay out of pocket for this home birth. Many people do end up paying with cold hard cash merely because insurance companies do not consider midwives “in-network” providers. But, there seem to be a few loopholes for those that have the energy to jump through a thousand loops and for those who love, and I mean LOVE calling 800 numbers. Not 900 numbers people, get your minds out of the gutter.
Anyway, I’ll keep you updated with the happenings. If anyone is looking to fight the same battle, please let me know and I will share more specific details of what I’m doing and what you too can do to combat the big tumultuous world that is the insurance company.

Maternal Mortality Rate in the U.S.

The News-Register released an article the other morning titled, “Danger in delivery: Despite technology, U.S. trails entire western world in saving mothers”. I thought it was interesting follow up in light of my recent post highlighting the severity of the infant mortality rates in the U.S. It’s interesting that not only are our infants suffering, but our mother’s too. The article opens by stating the following:
Women in the United States are more likely to die during or shortly after childbirth than women in nearly all countries in Europe and many in Asia and the Middle East, according to the United Nations.
While maternal mortality declined in most countries over the past 20 years, it has not just increased, but nearly doubled, in the United States.
Experts blame the high death rate partly on the heavy reliance the United States places on technological intervention, particularly when it results, as it so often does, in surgical delivery via cesarean section. They say motivators include both convenience and fear of litigation in the event of a less-than-perfect outcome.
Originally meant to be strictly an emergency action to save a struggling baby, it has become all but routine in the U.S. It is now used in almost one-third of all American births. 
The article goes on to highlight the fact that despite the obvious increases in medical interventions, there are no studies proving a respective improvement in outcome. In fact, the findings are quite the contrary. 
In March, “Contraception: An International Reproductive Health Journal,” a peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, published a landmark editorial on the subject. Titled, “Maternal Mortality in the United States: A Human Rights Failure,” it was authored by Francine Coeytaux of WomanCare Global, Debra Bingham of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and Nan Strauss of Amnesty International USA.
The editorial states:
“In contrast to many countries where women lack access to life-saving medical interventions, women and infants (in the U.S.) are often exposed to more procedures than are medically necessary or beneficial. This overuse of medical procedures increases injuries as well as costs.
“Indeed, we are unaware of any study indicating that the 56 percent increase in the rate of surgical births from 1996 to 2008 has improved outcomes. However, there are data to show that the overuse of medical procedures has increased both infant and maternal morbidity.”
Performance of a Cesarean section in one pregnancy also leads to increase the risks in the next. Consequently, doctors have historically discouraged women from attempting to deliver subsequent babies vaginally, a trend that also has helped to increase the national rate of Cesarian sections.
 Yet another finding linking increased medical interventions with poorer outcomes. In my own research, I’ve come across several studies that have found fetal monitoring alone to lead to more interventions but not improved outcomes. This article also touched on fetal monitoring and it’s role in the snow ball effect. I was required to be on a fetal monitor when I gave birth to Hooper and found it incredibly distracting. Instead of concentrating on my body and what it was doing, my eyes were glued to that monitor. I think the monitor alone was a huge source of anxiety especially for Willy. Labor is a stress to the baby even in the best of circumstances and the monitor is always going to reflect that. With that said, the monitor is never calming or reassuring, rather I believe it to be a constant source of worry and concern. Anyway, this is what the article had to say about it:
Hedges, who is retiring from practice to teach and write, said reasons for the nation’s extraordinarily high Cesarean rate are as complex as the American health care system. It starts, he said, with pervasive fetal monitoring in hospitals.
The practice is intended to let doctors monitor the baby’s health continuously throughout the birthing process. But he said, “Studies show that continuous monitoring doesn’t change anything, except to increase the C-section rate.”
That is, it doesn’t change anything in a positive direction. It does change one thing in a negative direction — it costs some mothers their lives. 
That’s because it leads to more C-sections, and a woman is three times more likely to die from a C-section than a vaginal delivery. C-sections also cause substantially more medical complications not resulting in fatality.
If doctors see an abnormality in the readings, Hedges said, they are more likely to perform a C-section, just to be on the safe side in a notoriously litigious area of practice. But he said, “In the vast majority of cases, those babies are fine,” despite the abnormal readings. In many cases, Hedges said, doctors simply don’t know what causes the abnormal readings.
Obstetrician/gynocologyst Dr. John Neeld of the Willamette Valley Medical Center agreed that fear of giant lawsuits is often the driver in such cases.
For example, he said, the fetal heartrate tracing patterns might be slightly elevated, but not necessarily indicative of a baby in trouble. But the combination of a doctor worried about possible lawsuits if his interpretation turns out wrong, and a patient afraid for her baby, and determined to take any action necessary to ensure its safety, often leads to a C-section that, in hindsight, was probably not necessary, he said.
“Those are not small lawsuits,” he said. “I personally have not been sued, but if I get sued for $10 million, I know I’m out of business, because my insurance willl be so high that I won’t be able to continue practicing.”
The problem here seems to be twofold. For one you have doctors making decisions based on fear for their own licenses and welfare. But, the problem is really larger than that. The fact is we live in a very lawsuit friendly nation and the reality therefore is that doctors have to make decisions based on fear for their own licenses and welfare. You can’t really fault them for this. It’s always been my complaint as a nurse that we spend more time charting about patient care than spending time with our patients. Again, we’re a litigious nation. This needs to be fixed before the system of providing medical care can be changed. 
I’ve touched on infant mortality rate, but this article goes on to state the maternal mortality rate. And the results are shocking. 
The United Nations releases a new report every five years. The United States ranked 41st in child mortality in the 2005 report, but had slipped nine spots to 50th by 2010.
The United States averaged 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2009, up from 7.1 a decade earlier. Nearly every industrialized nation in the world does better than that, as do several developing nations, according to the U.N.
Callaghan noted the U.S. had once set a goal of bringing its rate of maternal deaths down to 3.3 per 100,000 live births by 2010. The country has made no progress toward reaching that goal, he said.
In fact, the government has now given up on it. Now, it proposes to reduce maternal deaths to 11.4 per 100,000 live births by 2020.
Looks like we have quite a ways to go to reach our goal. 
The article touches on other factors that additionally affect maternal mortality such as age, obesity, and access to health care. Woman in the U.S. are statistically older when compared to other nations, and with age comes a higher rate of complications. Same with obesity. More fat, more complications. And whereas other nations have national health care, many in the U.S. are without insurance and therefore do not receive proper prenatal or postpartum care. 
Being that I’m relatively young, not obese, and insured, looks like the only thing I have to worry about is unnecessary medical interventions. Yet again, all signs point to a birth at home.
Photo source

Epidurals

As many of my friends and family know, I’m a huge proponent of natural birth. I’ve declared several times that I feel this is the best option for me. Part of having a natural childbirth involves finding ways to deal with or even embrace the pain. I never opted for a natural childbirth because I thought I’d be viewed as a stronger or more capable woman. Instead, it was a personal decision based somewhat on research and somewhat on desire. 
Research does show links between epidurals and c-sections as well as links to poor pushing abilities, longer labors, inabilities to move in ways that help labor along, poor breastfeeding/latching with your baby… the list goes on. The validity of these arguments aren’t as important, to me, as the mere fact that these arguments exist. That’s because the decision to go natural was also based on desire.
Yes, I said it. I desired pain. But not entirely. What I really desired was the participation. I didn’t want someone gently tapping me on the shoulder to tell me I was 10cm and ready to push. I wanted to be involved and I wanted to take away the pride in knowing that my body was capable and my mind strong. For myself. 
I also lucked out with my first labor in that it was only 8 hours and that at 6cm, when I was secretly hoping my nurse would offer me an epidural, she did not. I had asked her during my admission not to offer me one. An epidural was all that was on my mind at 6cm, but then I was 7 cm, and then I was 9cm and time really just whizzed painfully by.
I question how much about birth and labor I really ought to share on this blog because there are many decisions to be made in the process and they are all personal. In any event, this blog serves as documentation of my journey and these are just stepping stones along the way. For those that chose an epidural or are considering an epidural, this is a good article in support of epidurals. The closing statement is what I really like. It reads:
Woman shouldn’t cave to pressure from either side. They should make informed decisions based on their goals and priorities. I aspired to have a comfortable birth even if it meant being surrounded by nurses and doctors and tubes and incessant beeps; other woman may trade pain for a more intimate birthing experience. Each choice comes with its own benefits and unpleasantries. My unnatural childbirth left me with a memory that does not involve intolerable pain, and that’s exactly what I wanted. 
I agree, woman shouldn’t cave to pressure from either side. You can research things until you are blue in the face. If you believe in natural childbirth, you can find loads of information supporting your belief. This article goes to show that if you believe in medical interventions, then there is someone in your corner as well. Unlike the author of this article, my memory of Hooper’s birth is not tainted in the least bit by the pain I endured. In fact, the high I experienced immediately after giving birth is a rush I still crave. That overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance and perseverance. There’s nothing like being fully present and alert in that moment, if you ask me. 
When it comes down to it, what I truly believe is not in natural childbirth over a medically enhanced childbirth, but in informed decision based on the goals and priorities of the mother.
photo source

An Update

Lucky for us, our midwives have a couple OB/GYN’s that back them up, so to say. This, in and of itself, says a lot about not only what they do but how they do it. I definitely have my issues regarding trust of the mainstream medical field when it comes to labor, but seeing an OB that I know my midwives trust helps soothe some of my anxiety.
Since our appointment with our midwives, I’ve done a lot of reflection regarding what’s important to me and what I feel is best for myself, this pregnancy, and this baby. Keeping to my New Year’s resolution, I reached out to positive, educated, and encouraging individuals and what I got in return was just the support I needed.
I had one friend from High School that put me in contact with her sister-in-law who has had a home birth and is preparing for her second, also to be born at home, in March. She shared a story with me of a friend that also planned a home birth, labored at home for 22 hours, and ultimately transferred to the hospital where she underwent a medically-necessary c-section. It happens. It was her perspective that I found enlightening. She said: medical intervention helped her in the end, laboring at home helped her in the beginning. This same friend went on to have her second baby at home, in a pool in her living room, with no complications.
Always up for a good debate, I like to play the devil’s advocate. I sent an email to our OB, Dr. K, who delivered Hooper on the operating room table. Here’s what he had to say:
As we talked about in the office, I think your odds of an uncomplicated delivery are extremely high. Second labors tend to be faster and easier than first labors and less second pregnancies go past the due date. I do not, however, have a crystal ball and there are certainly patients attempting home births who need to be transferred in labor due to some issues that arise. I do not think your chances are any higher than anyone else just because of your first labor. I do back up midwives because I think it important that patients have options and choices. I am also very up front if I think that choices should be limited because of circumstances.  I see no such issues with your pregnancy at this point.  My agreement with the midwives that I back is that I will agree to care for patients that they feel are no longer low risk. I obviously do not tell my patients to seek midwife care but I would always agree to back them if that is what they chose. You have become my patient and I would always try to give you advice that keeps you in the realm of safety while trying to allow you to ‘get what you want’. I think you are an excellent candidate for a home birth if that is your choice. If you choose that, I will be happy to serve as your back-up MD in case there are issues that require my attention or your transport. I hope this helps you.  
And help me it did. 
With Willy on board as much as he’s gonna be on board and with the support I so desperately needed, I’m feeling good. I feel more confident than ever about my decision. 
A special thanks all those who have reached out to show their support, espically to Ali for putting me in touch with Abby, to Dr. K, to Janet for listening to me vent when things needed to roll off my chest, to my midwives whose patience, support, and love for what they do seems otherworldly, and to my lovely husband who listens to all my crazy shenanigans and trusts me enough to join me on this journey. Willy, you are the crispy pickle to my sandwich. Oh gosh, now I want a pickle. A really crispy pickle. 
Photo credits: source 1, source 2

More Business of Being Born

Have you heard of the Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s Documentary, “The Business of being born”?

Well there is a sequel. I ordered it today. You can watch the trailer below and if you find the girl in the middle of the group at the end incredibly annoying, you’re not alone. Otherwise, can’t WAIT to see. Thank you to Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein for making such an important cause mainstream.

If you’ve seen either of these documentaries, what were your thoughts?

Infant Mortality Rate

Have you ever looked up infant mortality rate in the United States? The results are shocking. You’ll find yourself scrolling further than you think to find the US’s home on the list. According to the CIA’s world factbook, we are ranked 48th in 2011, behind Cuba. Behind Cuba, people! 
Willy and I visited Cuba in 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We travelled there legally with humanitarian licenses. Ironically enough, we were responsible for bringing medical supplies to a mission in Havana. Ironically, these supplies included things like prenatal vitamins. Yes, you are understanding me correctly. We, US citizens, supplied Cuba with prenatal vitamins. Yes, Cuba’s infant mortality rate is lower than the infant mortality rate in the US. Interesting, no?

The other day we met with a realtor to discuss the option of selling our home. We mentioned Zillow in the conversation and the guy rolled his eyes. This was the second realtor we talked to that rolled their eyes upon mentioning Zillow. So we questioned the eye roll and his response was something along the line of too much information being provided to people that are not educated enough to filter it correctly. Information overload.
Back to the infant mortality rate.
The rate of medical intervention in the US is presumably higher than the rate in Cuba. Would anyone argue against this? I think birth in the US has become too medical. I think there are more interventions because there is more monitoring. This sounds like a crazy statement, I know. But there’s been lots of research done to support this claim. The following excerpt was taken from an interview with Dr. Alex Friedman:
There are numerous reasons that one of three U.S. births now is by cesarean, but Dr. Alex Friedman blames some on an imprecise monitor strapped to laboring women. Too often, he has sliced open a mother’s abdomen fearing the worst, only to pull out a pink, screaming bundle.
“Everyone knows it’s a bad test,” said Friedman of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “You haven’t done the patient a big service by doing an unnecessary surgery.”
Electronic fetal monitors record changes in the baby’s heart rate, a possible sign of too little oxygen. They became a tradition — now used in 85 percent of births — years before research could prove how well they work.
Guidelines issued last summer, aiming to help doctors better interpret which tests are worrisome, acknowledge the monitors haven’t reduced deaths or cerebral palsy. But they do increase the chances of a C-section. While they should be used in high-risk women, the guidelines say the low-risk could fare as well if a nurse regularly checked the baby’s heart rate.
Information overload.
In looking at the US infant mortality rate versus Cuba, I do think it is only fair to look at the counter argument. Because we have more medical technology the number of high risk babies born is higher in the US. I found the following information here.
In the United States if an infant is born weighing only 400 grams and not breathing, a doctor will likely spend lot of time and money trying to revive that infant. If the infant does not survive — and the mortality rate for such infants is in excess of 50 percent — that sequence of events will be recorded as a live birth and then a death. In many countries, however, (including many European countries) such severe medical intervention would not be attempted and, moreover, regardless of whether or not it was, this would be recorded as a fetal death rather than a live birth. That unfortunate infant would never show up in infant mortality statistics.

In any event, when I research birth I look for information as it relates to me. If I happen to go into preterm labor at 20 weeks, my midwives will certainly not support or participate in a home birth. I would be in the hospital kissing the fetal monitor and thanking the doctor for any interventions that could potentially save my baby. But if my pregnancy remains low risk and if I remain healthy, I feel strongly that delivering at home is safest for me and, perhaps more importantly, for my baby.

13 weeks

We had our first appointment with the midwives this week and I have mixed emotions about how it went. For me, it was great. It was a familiar environment with familiar faces with supportive people that see birth and the birthing process through the same lens as me. For Willy, it felt like torture. I felt like I had to drag him with me and reiterate all the reasons why I believe a home birth is the best option for me. We’ve had this argument, or conversation rather, many times and each time it seems to land us in the same place: You know, those silent car rides when more is said with an eye roll than with a single word. We both believe adamantly about what we believe and he says getting him to believe a home birth is the best choice is like getting me to believe a hospital birth is the best choice. And that ain’t happening. So where to go from here is the question? We talked some more on the long drive home and have come to a tentative place of agreement, but it feels empty without having full support behind it.
With that said, I’m hoping to hear from others that have had or contemplated having a home birth. Did your partner agree with your decision? How did you come to a decision as to what was best? I’d love to hear more about your experience… Especially from the father’s perspective.
Oh ya, and we heard that little pounding heart and in those few moments all was p e r f e c t.

Home Birth

While I am a huge and passionate supporter of natural birth and home birth, I know it’s not for everyone. I would never judge someone for choosing to have an epidural or choosing to give birth in the hospital setting, but I do feel it is absolutely the responsibility of mother and father to explore their options and understand the risks and benefits involved. I think it is complacent and ignorant for someone to assume that the hospital is the best or safest choice without doing research to back that up. I agree with much of Melissa’s opinions on the subject, which you can read here and here.
Beliefs aside, the reality is that a home birth is not an option for everyone. Insurance companies rarely cover all, if any, of the cost associated with a birth at home or the prenatal care delivered by Certified Nurse Midwives. I feel strongly that it ought to be the woman’s right to chose her birth setting and that cost should not be a factor. If an expectant mother believes a home birth to be the best and safest option for her, it ought to be just that: an option. That’s why I’m so proud to share the following video with you. It’s from the Home Birth Consensus Summit.

I’ve made the decision to start a grassroots effort to, at the very least, contact our insurance company and make it known that the option to have a baby at home in the care of midwives is something I, the consumer, is interested in. I’ll include you all on this journey and keep you informed on where it leads… To be continued.

Then & Now – 8 weeks

When I saw my first positive pregnancy with Hooper, I called an OB right away. Since we had been planning to get pregnant, I asked a few friends for their OB/GYN recommendations. I went with Dr. S purely because my friend had delivered two children vaginally in his care. With the statistics today pointing to a 1 in 3 c-section rate, this was what was most important to me. Back to my point. I was on the phone with the office, gitty with excitement, making my first appointment to come in. They scheduled my first appointment for the following week, at five weeks. They did an ultrasound. We saw what appeared to be a little yolk sac. We were in love. Instantly. Dr. S muttered something about not seeing the embryonic pole and left us with parting words that still make me cringe, “I wouldn’t celebrate just yet”. We made our next appointment and left with confusion and a little speck of fear. What followed was blood test after blood test tracing my HcG level, which was always high and always increasing. In hindsight, I had nothing to worry about. What we saw on the ultrasound at five weeks is pretty typical for what an ultrasound at five weeks should show. Maybe I’m skeptical, but I still wonder if it was his ploy to suck us in under his wings of fear.
We went along with him for a few more weeks before we changed our care and were seen by two wonderful midwives.
Fast forward.
When I saw my first pregnancy test this time around, I smiled. I wrapped it up in a box, put the box in a shirt, but plastic cling wrap around the shirt, taped the cling wrap, put it in a box, and wrapped the box in wrapping paper. Then I gave it to Willy. And then we celebrated together. I sent a text message a few weeks later to our midwife and told her the good news. She gave us the option of getting an early ultrasound for dating purposes or just coming in after the holidays. We opted to have the ultrasound since it wasn’t too long after I started my periods again (I was breastfeeding) and we weren’t completely sure of our dates.
We went to the midwives backup OB, Dr. K yesterday. And I had my first ultrasound, at 8 weeks. Not only did we see a yolk sac, but we also saw a little fetus and heard a little heart pounding. Music to our ears. We had a short discussion about going for another home birth (it didn’t work out the first time around) and surprisingly got a dose of reassurance. Yes, you are reading it correctly. An OB/GYN advised us that a home birth could be the best option for us.
We left with excitement. No fear.