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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Journey to Homebirth: Part 1

My friend R and I recently reconnected on FaceBook after a long hiatus. I read her status one day about being a homebirther and my eyeballs nearly fell out of my head, I was so excited. Who would have thought a decade and then some ago, that our paths would again converge in such a way? 

R has two children, and has written both of her wonderful birth stories for me to share with you here. I have decided to make them into two separate posts. Both are some of the most empowering birth stories I have ever read, and I hope you feel the same. 

A Hospital Birth

The Deranged Housewife asked me to share my story... forgive me if I ramble. I will get to the point eventually.

Long before marriage and babies, I had often said that if I had kids, to “give me the drugs!!!!” Why should I go through the “unnecessary” pain of labor?

Years later, after marrying the fantastic man that God gave me for a husband, we were expecting our first child. After doing a little research, I learned that those aforementioned drugs most often came in the form of a needle and catheter placed directly in the spinal column, an epidural. The thought of that scared me so much more than the thought of having a baby. Women had been having babies for thousands of years with no needles in their spines; if they could do it, so could I. But, how? 

I had no idea how to birth a baby, so I took classes in The Bradley Method® of Natural Childbirth. During those classes I not only learned about the potential negative effects of the drugs on me, but also on my baby. Did you know that traces of drugs given in labor and delivery can sometimes be found in the baby's system up to two weeks after birth!?! We are so careful to avoid drugs, fish, caffeine, etc. when we are pregnant, yet, freely and willingly inundate our bodies and our baby's body with drugs and chemicals right before birth. Also, because of those classes I became so confident in my body's ability to birth my baby, I was feeling like “bring on the labor!!  I can do this!” After all, God created me and he designed my body to have babies. I needed to trust that natural process. I also had an awesome Certified Nurses Midwife attending my birth. She was a homebirther herself, so I knew that she was in full support of natural, unmedicated, intervention-free birth. I was thankful for my childbirth classes when I went to do my hospital tour and the nurse said “you WILL have an IV; you WILL have an epidural.”  Because of my education I knew that, contrary to the way it was phrased, these were options, not absolutes. This nurse also looked at me like I had two heads when I asked about a birthing ball and a squatting bar.

Finally the day came. I woke up at 4:00 AM in labor. I will spare you all the glorious details of my labor (mucous plugs, etc.), but I did go back to sleep and was able to sleep for several hours. I woke up at 7:00 AM to eat breakfast and prepare for a long day. After eating, I had settled on the living room floor in the contour chair position to labor. Around noon my midwife stopped by and checked me (she just happened to be in the area... she wasn't supposed to do house checks!). I spent the next few hours laboring comfortably while sitting on the floor. At some point I walked around the freshly mowed  backyard and I also took a shower. Walking and the warm water both felt good.

Around 4:00 PM, I started transition. I was walking back from the bathroom when I started crying for no reason. My contractions were hard and very close together. My husband knew it was time to go. We arrived at the hospital around 4:45 PM. My contractions were coming fast and hard and the car ride had made me very uncomfortable. It took a few minutes to get to the labor and delivery room; my husband was wheeling me down the hallway in a wheelchair. The upright position was so painful that I asked him to stop during a contraction so that I could wriggle around to a more comfortable position. The nurse on duty (yes, the same one from my hospital tour), snidely said to my husband, “that thing has wheels!”   He politely told her that I had asked him to stop. She then turned to me and told me nastily that I am probably about “ready to push” (I knew I wasn't), and that I  “didn't want to have the baby in the hallway, did I?” and to “get up and walk!” I was in no mood or position to be walking during a contraction. 

My midwife had called the hospital so that they would know we were coming. Of course, the room was not ready when we got there. (We live in a small community and we were the only patients in the Labor and Delivery ward.). As soon as I had changed into my gown, I threw up (and peed) all over the floor of the LDR  room. As I said, they weren't prepared for me... my mom and husband were left scrambling to find a trash can for me to vomit in. One of the nurses called it the “seven centimeter pukes.” Nurse Crusty was not too pleased with the mess on the floor. She then ordered me on the bed to get checked. I refused to lay on my back, but told them that I was more comfortable on my hands and knees and if they wanted to check me they could do it that way. The other nurse did my exam. When I was checked, I was 7 cm. My husband eventually got fed up with Nurse Crusty and told her to leave and not come back.  The other nurse was great. She had had her babies naturally, so she knew what we were desiring. It was also her first day working at our hospital, so it took her a little while to find things.

I labored on a birthing ball for a while. I was able to relax deeply and fell asleep between contractions. I nearly fell off the ball and onto the floor and decided it was time to get into the bed.

Later, when noticed that I started involuntarily grunting with each contraction and I knew that pushing time was coming. My midwife checked me and I was complete. I never got the overwhelming urge to push, but I knew the grunting was my body's way to pushing on its own. At 9:00 PM, when I started pushing it felt good. It was so nice to be doing something after so many hours of concentrating on relaxing. After I started pushing, the feeling was overwhelming; I couldn't stop. At first I wasn't a very efficient pusher; I kept letting my air leak out through my mouth. Once I got the hang of it, things progressed much better.

The nurse would check my baby's heartbeat periodically with the Doppler. At one point she kept saying that she couldn't hear his heart beat any more. I started pushing with all my might. I was determined to get the baby out as soon as I could. In the back of my  mind I did notice that my midwife was calm and laid back. This helped keep me from panicking. She later told me that she knew everything was OK because she could see the top of Baby's head and it was nice and pink. The nurse wasn't able to hear his heart beat at that time because my pubic bone was in the way.

At some point during my pushing, my mom, my husband and my midwife were laughing because the bottom of my feet were grass-stained from walking barefoot in the backyard. It's odd the things that stand out in your mind during labor.

Our son was born at 10:34 PM. He had some molding off to the side of his head. My midwife said that he was probably wedged in my pelvis for a while.

He weighed 7 pounds 1.9 ounces and was 20 inches long. I nursed him before the placenta was born and before the cord was cut.

Even though I really wanted to go home right away, we decided to stay the night at the hospital to get some rest. Ha ha ha!! Every few hours a nurse came in the wake me up to check my temperature, blood pressure, etc. In the morning, my midwife released me to go home at 10:00 AM. We weren't able to leave the hospital until after 6:00 PM because the doctor we had chosen as a pediatrician did not come to check our baby until 5:00 that evening, even though he was notified the night before AND again that morning. Then, on top of that, he kept asking the nurses if he was doing the newborn exam correctly. He did not exactly exude confidence!  (He was promptly fired as our pediatrician.) 

When we were checking out of the hospital, Nurse Crusty said to me, “See, next time won't you want to schedule an induction so that you can have it all planned?  Think of how convenient that would be.”

Click here for Part 2. 


Elizabeth A. said...

So what happens exactly if you slap a nurse?

Convenient? Child birth? Oy.

But such a good story. Thanks for sharing.