I am often asked why I would choose to have my baby at home. What reason could I have for being so crazy? I totally understand those questions.
When I was in college, my sister had a homebirth. I could not believe she would be so irresponsible. I couldn’t believe that she would put her baby’s life at risk just because she didn’t like the hospital. I couldn’t believe she would want to do it without drugs. I was often heard saying, “God gave man the smarts to invent drugs, stick that needle in my back thank you very much”. In fact, just 7 months before my sister had her homebirth, I had witnessed the birth of my best friend’s baby. She had her baby in the hospital and had an epidural. It was great, no complications, everything went swimmingly. Why wouldn’t I want that?
Jeremy and I had been married 6 months when I found I was pregnant with Emma. I was 26 and was a bit wiser at this point. I was learning I had options. My sister had had 2 homebirths, my sister-in-law had a baby at the Birth Center and those births were great.
I was starting to believe that I wasn’t a wuss and that my body could do this. I started reading about the Bradley Method of childbirth. Jeremy and I read and researched and decided on having our baby with a Certified Nurse Midwife in the Hospital. This way I could have my natural birth with a midwife, but still have the comforts of the hospital.
During my pregnancy we took Bradley Method classes. I completely ignored the part where we learned about C-Sections because there was no way I was going to have one. I wasn’t going to cave and get an epidural, so the snowball effect of epidural=relaxing of uterus=contractions slowing down=increased interventions=possibility baby goes into distress=C-Section. That wasn’t going to happen to me.
When I was 34 weeks pregnant I went to see my midwife. I was measuring about 3 1/2 weeks ahead, so she sent me back for an ultrasound. We found out that Emma was footling breech. I cried. She assured me that there was plenty of time for her to turn, but in my heart I didn’t believe her. I went home and began researching how to turn a breech baby. I swam everyday and did handstands in the water, I put ice on her head and heat down low (along with lights and music…trying to make it really inviting for her head down there!), I lay inverted on an ironing board and then on my reclining chair. I saw a Chiropractor and had the Webster Technique done 3 times a week. I burned Moxibustion by my little toe (on Thanksgiving in my in-laws garage. Good times). I did everything I could think of. I wasn’t a candidate for an external version because my blood pressure shot up and I was swelling up like a balloon.
At my 37 week appointment I had a Non Stress Test done. When it was done, the midwife came in and asked if I had scheduled my C-Section yet. I was floored. I told her that no I hadn’t and didn’t plan on scheduling it. I wanted her to turn and was still trying to get her to turn. She told me that a c-section wasn’t that bad and that I would be okay. I informed her that a few years prior I had my gallbladder out, major abdominal surgery, and this would be similar. There was no way I wanted to go through that recovery again with a newborn to take care of.
I left the office in tears. I called my sister-in-law, who gave me the confidence I needed to fire my midwife. I called the practice and requested a different midwife for my next appointment and to make her my primary midwife.
It didn’t matter. Sunday night my water broke. It was 8pm and I was sitting down to watch Alias. I heard a POP and felt a gush and knew that my baby was coming.
We called the midwife on call (someone I didn’t know) and were told to go to the hospital to get ready for my c-section. An hour later we arrived at the hospital and had a really horrific experience. I was admitted to a room and told to put on this gown. I did and then I had to pee. So, I went to the bathroom. A nurse came in and yelled at me because I was getting amniotic fluid all over the floor. She made me walk on towels back to the bed.
I was hooked up to monitors and was being asked a million and one questions. When I would ask for a minute because I was having a contraction they would look at the monitor and tell me that I wasn’t. Yeah, it was great.
Soon enough Jeremy and I were taken to the Operating Room. A cold, sterile room. I couldn’t believe my baby would be born here. This was not at all what I had wanted or anticipated. As she was being born, I got sick and was throwing up. I remember hearing her cry and they lifted her up over the drape to show her to me. I went to touch her and immediately they whisked her away. I had to hear all about her from the anesthesiologist. It broke my heart.
My first real looks of Emma were from a bed where I was watching her be bathed by a Nurse that I didn’t like. Everyone else got to hold her, touch her, smell her before I did. She didn’t get to be with me until she was about an hour old. Nothing about this felt right.
I couldn’t sit up for 12 hours after she was born. Because I was flat on my back, it was difficult to nurse and I couldn’t get a good look at her. When I could sit up, the nurses would come in and ask me constantly if she’d pooped, peed, eaten, wanting to check my vitals, her vitals, etc. etc. etc.
After 3 days I was so happy to be released from the prison of the hospital. When we got home, I started digesting her birth. So many things I wished I could have changed. So many things I felt so cheated on. Emma’s birth was a catalyst for change in my life. I knew that I would never give birth like that again. I knew I would never let someone else tell me what I could and couldn’t do with my body and my baby. It was the beginning of my journey.
To be continued…