Tuesday, July 10, 2012

J.S.'s Birth story: An illegal home birth

Below J.S. has shared her birth story with us. I applaud her for realizing that there was too much medical intervention that caused her to have a caesarian for her first birth so this is the story of her second birth. She followed her inner feeling that her body could do it and she did. Sadly she lives in a State that does not allow the type of birth that she wanted even though home births are proven SAFER than hospital births!

J.S.'s Illegal Home Birth

It was a Thursday. I had my 38 week appointment that morning. Everything looked good. It seemed that we still had another couple of weeks, which was nice, considering that was only the second time I had met my midwife. Little did we know, I would see her again in less than a day’s time. Our son would be born before sunrise. His birth was the easiest part of this story.

The pregnancy of my older son, about three years earlier, ended with an unwanted and unwarranted c-section. Although I was educated and did my best to avoid medical intervention, I became part of that staggering statistic. When I found out I was pregnant again, I knew I wanted to have a home birth. I quickly discovered that it is illegal for a licensed midwife to attend a home birth after caesarean section (HBAC) in the state where I had moved. (Just three months prior to getting pregnant.) After endless reading, many phone calls and online searches, I found a midwife who would consider a HBAC. We talked in depth about my first experience and she agreed to attend us as long as I received parallel care with a practice that had hospital rights. I had planned to do this anyway because my friend’s children
were temporarily taken away by DYFS when she was transferred to a hospital during a HBAC. She had no record of prenatal care; she did not want to give up the midwife who was assisting her. I
began seeing a highly recommended group of midwives.

The juxtaposition of care was striking and each visit solidified my original choice to birth at home. While my home visits were warm and involved, the office visits were quick and my concerns about the possibility of a second section were brushed off with a smile, saying, “we will do our best.” I met 4 different care providers and constantly had to retell my story and remind them of my history, each time feeling like I was defending myself. This stood in stark contrast to the intimate home appointments where I reconciled the events of the birth of my first child and where I actively participated in my care, building trust in myself and my body.

At 36 weeks, I met a 5th midwife in the hospital practice. She insisted that I was measuring small and that a sonogram was necessary. I showed her the measurements from my first pregnancy; they were identical. The road of medical intervention that led to my c-section began with a sonogram at 36 weeks
indicated by measuring small for dates. I asked to be measured again. She seemed annoyed by this but a second midwife came and measured; 2 centimeters higher. A third was called in; her measurement was right in the middle of the other two. Again I voiced my concern about the sonogram. I said that given the 2 cm margin and the estimated due date being plus or minus 2 weeks, along with the coincidences with my first pregnancy that a sonogram was unwarranted. I was told that the first midwife I saw that day got to make the call. Even though it was the first time I met her, because she was a founding partner she was allowed to decide my fate. It did not matter that the other founding partner got a higher measurement or that the midwife who got the highest measurement had done the majority of measurements, establishing the baseline for fundal height. I questioned the possible outcomes. If the fluid was low they would do a section that day. No questions asked. She scheduled
the sonogram before I left the office.

The next day, I was eager to talk with my home birth midwife about the scheduled sonogram. But she had something else to discuss. She explained that given the current climate in the state and because of extenuating circumstances surrounding another midwife, she would not be able to attend our birth as
promised. She gave me the option of continuing with the hospital midwife practice with her as my doula or helping me find a midwife who would attend me at home. Considering that my concerns were dismissed and the decisions regarding my birth were out of my control with the hospital midwife practice, I decided I would rather birth at home with someone who believed I could do it. I was the one who would be birthing that baby and I needed to be in an environment that would support that. Amazingly, we found someone willing to help. A lovely midwife who, it turned out, was also pregnant. 32 weeks. As long as we both delivered close to our expected due dates it would work out. She ended up delivering 2 weeks early...luckily so did I.

Late in the evening after our 38 week appointment, I started to notice some waves. It was so vastly different from the intense back labor and vomiting (the result of intervention) I had experienced the first time that I thought it was very early labor and expected at least another day or two of this. After an
hour I told my husband about the waves and decided to take a shower. He called the new midwife even though I insisted that he wait. It was midnight and she needed her rest. But after speaking with me, she decided to head our way, while I still maintained that it was unnecessary. She arrived a few hours
later and told my husband to fill up the birthing pool. I couldn’t believe it. Last time after laboring 20 hours I barely made it to five cm; this time I had not felt anything remotely similar to that type of pain. He filled the pool, lit some candles and turned on some music. Our son was sleeping in the next room. After a few hours in the pool, it was impossible not to push and I soon felt the head emerge. I was astonished. After some final pushing she told me to scoop up my baby. It was surreal. I kept saying, “I just can’t believe it. It was so easy.”

My hands were the first to touch him. As the sun rose I held him in our bed and he nursed. This was what I wanted, not to wait seven hours to touch him as I had with my first son. My time and energy would not be spent fighting about bottles as it had before. The events leading up to the birth of our son were dramatic and complicated but the time of his birth and the days following were peaceful and full of ease. It was worth it.

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