My husband (Alix) and I came up with the title for this post a couple of days ago. I find myself sitting in the coffee shop again while Alix at work and my daughter is in the Intensive Care Unit. I’ll say it’s very strange to be here again considering the last time I went to a coffee shop to write my water broke the following morning. However back to the blog post….so here it goes 🙂
When Alix and I discovered that I was pregnant this past February there were a mountain of questions that we had that everyone probably has as well with a pregnancy. The most important question for me was ‘Who is going to deliver my baby?’ My daughter was a collection of cells the size of a single grain of rice and I wanted to know who was going to deliver her. This question turned out to be highly relevant though for prenatal care. Alix and I talked it over (or maybe I just told him) that a midwife would be the best choice. I’m pretty sure that I just told him thinking back. I remember Alix looked at me kind of funny when I mentioned a midwife. A midwife is a little more on the holistic side of life. I also talked about where to give birth at home, in a birth center, and in a hospital. While doing research I found that you could see a midwife (CNM) in the hospital. So that was our compromise we would see a midwife but in the hospital (a level one trauma center). This was truly the best choice. Our midwife Laura was amazing and a pleasure to talk with every time we went in for an appt. Even though we were in a hospital meeting with Laura didn’t seem like a sterile and overly medical experience like I thought it might have been.
The next step was to decide where I wanted to give birth. Laura encouraged us to shop around at the different hospitals, look into the birth center here in town, and consider home. The first option thrown to the wind was a home birth. We weren’t really comfortable with just being at home. Next we went to the birth center. That was way too holistic for our taste. I realize that the woman is the one giving birth to the baby, but the father should be treated as an equal in the birth experience (in my opinion). This of course is just how Alix and I operate we work as a team and wish to be treated as such. This was something we weren’t getting at the birth center. Not only that but they mentioned you could eat during labor and they would offer snacks. These ‘snacks’ looked like bird seed to me. (There’s my Ron Swanson side coming out). Holistics aside their transfer rate was too high for our liking as was their price tag. So we went back to Laura and told her that we wanted to deliver at the hospital with a midwife.
We were also told we should try and go to childbirth classes. Alix and I went to one class and that was it. We did some breathing exercises and a tension releasing exercise where I balled up my fist and Alix was to massage my arm to release the tension. The instructor also referred to herself in the third person the whole time and it made me extremely agitated (who knew…). After that first class all Alix and I had to do was look at each other to see that neither one of us wanted to go back. So we decided not to. Looking back we made the right choice. Looking back I don’t feel like any of that would have helped. This of course is just pertaining to me for some it might be a worthwhile investment of time.
The day before I went into labor I decided to type a birth plan (how fitting). It was suggested to me that I put what kind of pain management that I wanted while in labor (medicated or no medication). I decided that I wanted to try and stay away from all medication for as long as possible, but had reconciled with the idea that I may want an epidural. I had originally detested the idea of an epidural because I’d read the stories of them not working, only numbing half of you, and wearing off.
When my water broke at 4:30 the next morning I forgot I had even made a birth plan. Around 8am when I was admitted to L&D I told the midwife that I wanted to try to kickstart labor on my own without medication. I did just that for 16 hours. The midwife then suggested that I eat dinner and after we would start on the lowest dosage of Pitocin. She warned me that the contractions would pick up and hurt more. I agreed to this and she was right. I found myself needed to go to the bathroom every couple of minutes and having contractions every time I moved. Alix’s poor hand was squeezed to death and I kept squeezing pressure points (on accident). They upped the dose to 2. At the 20 hour mark after puking twice and being on the verge of tears they checked to see my progress in how much my paper thin cervix had dilated. I was at 5cm. AFTER 20 FREAKING HOURS!! I was beginning to get delirious. I was in so much pain and was beginning to hate everything about labor. I wanted to pass out and try again tomorrow. My legs were shaking uncontrollably and I could no longer speak more then a word at a time. I asked for the epidural. I was suffering a great deal and needed to deliver my daughter. When the doctor came in with the epidural I was actually screaming in pain and had lost control of all bodily functions. Once the medication set in I was able to sleep for two hours. I could feel when the doctor checked my cervix but it didn’t hurt at all. I had regained the strength I needed to push my daughter out.
I had feared that getting an epidural wouldn’t allow me to feel my daughter being pushed through the birth canal. I felt it though and it was a pleasant experience instead of one of pain and agony. When they placed her on my chest I balled like a baby and held her close while they stitched up my tears (which I couldn’t feel thanks to the epidural). It did take a couple hours to feel my feet again and stand on my own, but in hindsight that’s a very small price to pay. I was up walking around in my own clothing by noon that day.
Now to get to the most important reason that the holistic approach to birth was not for my family. My daughter was born with fluid in her lungs and was struggling to breathe. She was taken to the NICU when they noticed her breathing. She also had blood tests done shortly after birth and a couple of times during her stay in the NICU. It was discovered a couple of days ago that she had Congential Hypothyroidism. This is a condition that if left untreated causes mental retardation and stunts physical growth. It really needs to be caught within in the first two weeks of life to avoid any ill effects of the condition. This condition affects 1 in every 4,000 children. The condition is mainly seen in women over 60. She’ll have to be on medication for life to control her hormone levels. No one could have seen this coming. The birth center and a home birth could not have detected this condition or supplied the medication she needed. By the time her two week check up would have come up the crucial window of time would have been close to ending. She could have still been treated, but time is precious with this condition (especially in newborns). I’m so glad we were in the hospital and the hospital with excellent neonatal care. The best thing about the hospital being a level one trauma center is that they are required to have one of every type of doctor at all times. She was able to get the care and attention she needed very quickly and with no transfers. They won’t allow her to go home if they suspect she’s not as healthy as can be. As much as I hate going to the hospital to see my daughter I’m grateful of all the care the hospital has provided her My family embraces all that modern medicine can do for pregnancy and after. We also acknowledge that in order to get the best care you can in a hospital you need to do your research, know what you want, and how to ask for it.
After going through pregnancy, l&d, and the experience with my daughter I would choose the hospital with a midwife every time. This post wasn’t meant to offend or diminish anyone else’s experience with a home birth, birth center, or hospital. I simply want to give my perspective on things. I’m the type of person that likes to have options to choose from and doesn’t take decisions lightly. There were many discussions leading up to our decision of having a hospital birth with the help of a midwife instead of going to an OB/GYN. All of the midwives we’ve worked with were amazing and made Alix and I feel like family. So while the title of this post may seem unduly harsh to some it should be taken with a grain of salt. Much like a headline of a newspaper blog post titles are meant to grab your attention.
The link above is from an episode of Frasier when Niles and Daphine are meeting with their doula, Harvest. Daphine’s reaction at the end of the scene is exactly how I feel now. It’s meant to be light hearted. Alix and I love this episode and this show. I actually watched episodes of Frasier while in labor.