After 6 births and 7 pregnancies (working on the 7th birth soon) I am an experienced laborer. But by no means do I feel that I am some kind of birth guru, expert or enthusiast. I don't have a passion to run out and tell others how they should do it, or at this point have a desire to help to bring others' babes into this world- it's not my calling. What I do have is a desire, a longing, a need to have a more natural, spiritual and connected birth. Without fear, or regrets, or hindrances. I've had 6 very similar hospital births, 6 very similar stories and each time has left me feeling let down. Not at all in the beautiful babies I birthed but in myself and my own abilities. Feeling like I missed something. Feeling like I didn't trust myself. Couldn't do what I'm supposed to do.
This has a lot to do with what I was told after my first birth and while pregnant with my 2nd- That my body can't make/do contractions right. That my uterus was weak. All because I didn't progress as quickly as liked when induced with my first. (For the record I was started on Pit at 5ish in the afternoon and she was born at about 2:30am the next day, so in all total just 8+ hours of labor) And also because I had to be induced, because I was almost 42 weeks and she was getting too big (she weighed in at 8 lbs 12oz.). While in labor with my 2nd I stalled out at 7 cms and again this proved to the Drs. my uterus was weak- never mind the impersonal, uncaring "care" I was receiving, paper pushers coming into the room to watch me labor/birth (because I was the only woman on the unit in labor), or the fact the doctor was a male or that my partner was too busy watching TV to even get me ice, or finally that I nurse I had treated me poorly because I was a second time teen mom and lower than the low. I was my fault.
While pregnant with my 3rd I had a fleeting thought, while laying in bed one morning, how nice it'd be just to birth there, but I never really knew this was an option (at the time). That pregnancy I received much better care from Midwives but was still induced at almost 42 weeks because she too was getting too big (8 lbs. 10oz). Again the old thought that had been put in my head (and now was in my heart) came back. I was made to carry and grow good healthy babies but not birth them without help from Pit.
My 4th birth was similar to my 2nd- stalled out at 7 cms and this time given help (by the Pit) to finish my labor. I did have the most supportive MW this time around and let me control everything (but position) in the pushing phase. It was one of my best births and the feelings I had remained positive, I helped me trust my body some for the first time.
This trust was carried over to my 5th birth, but that one was different in many more ways than one. It started off by my water breaking at 34 weeks (not a slow leak either- a huge gush that never stopped. I know believe it had to do with a very bad cough I had and leaning on the sink while having a fit- the doubled pressure causing my bag to break.) and being on Pit to get labor going for 2 days. The threat of a C-section loomed over my head as each day passed. In retrospect had I had an OB probably wouldn't have been given that much time on Pit (esp at the end of the first full day on Pit and being on the max dose.) but I was lucky enough to have the same MWs that delivered my previous two. And on the third day the Pit worked and he was born less than 6 hrs after the start of the days round. The same MW delivered him as my 4th and again she let me lead.
While pregnant with my 6th I became more informed on birth and the process- I knew much better what I wanted to do but getting there was a battle against my body and gestational diabetes. I needed meds to help control my blood sugars and the clinic had policies (not letting GD moms go past 39 weeks) I couldn't get around. I tried everything I could to get labor to start on its own and to avoid the Pit. In the end I lost. I almost made it through the labor without asking for pain meds, and when looking back at the birth I know I could've done it,had I been heard.
My resolve to birth at home (or at least not in the same hospital) came from looking back at that birth. Being heard (or not) is a common theme in my births. With number 6 I asked not to be stuck on a monitor or have to stay on my back in bed- I knew if I did my labor would stall. But due to policy I had to be "just for a few minutes"- little man hated being monitored (or sonogramed) and never cooperated and so I was on my back for 2 hours trying to get a reading and labor stopped completely. The Pit was upped and I was still made to stay in bed but of course the Pit worked and got it going again- strong and fast, and with no way of naturally trying to comfort myself in the pain at 7 cms dilated I asked for meds. For the first time in 4 hours I was allowed off my back and switching positions made me had to pee- but I realized I didn't really have to pee I needed to PUSH! I told everyone this and was told to wait, that they were almost done (they had just numbed my back with a local, didn't even have the epidural shot ready yet- so really not almost done, they could've easily stopped and checked me). I was forced to finish the shot, then helped back on to my back. The MW checked me and found I was fully dilated! Simply from the motion of sitting up! Oh the wonders of free movement.
This complete and total disregard of hearing me, or not hearing me, has opened my eyes. After that I knew I'd never go back there again. Why had I not followed my gut and looked into a home birth with number 6? Many different reasons- 1) I had GD and didn't think I had the option. 2) This was my husband's first child/birth and he was extremely uncomfortable with the idea. 3) We did not have the money for it and insurance doesn't cover it. 4) I was unaware of the huge home birth movement here in my state, or support I/we could've found there. But the experience is really what has brought us to our path to home birth this time around and without it I may never have been able to live this dream or become much more informed on the natural process that is birth and pregnancy.
When I became pregnant with number 7 I'd done my research and knew what I wanted to do differently. But home birth was still not an option in my mind. I knew I needed to be in a different hospital, that Pit would not be involved along with pain meds or monitors. I wanted hands off MWs, water birth, and delayed cord clamping. I started by looking for hospitals that offered this and found 2 locally (this is know is not common either- there are many places that don't have any of these options). The first was 10 minutes from our home and the other 30. I looked into the closest and only one set of MWs are allowed rights there, and so naturally I went for the closest clinic they had. I was a bit put off from the get go- the hoops I had to go through just to see a MW were many. I should've watched better after the first intake appointment, when they suggested I get a TB test- this is something not very prevalent here and I am not in a high risk group for being exposed. (I did decline the test.) But from there things went down hill.
Each subsequent appointment had yet another surprise. Because of previous GD pregnancies I was automatically labeled GD and high risk. I was high risk because I've birthed 6 times before. I was high risk because my weight is not in the ideal standards. And on the list went. I was told a water birth wouldn't be an issue in the first appointments but later told I'd be allowed to labor but not give birth (because big women don't move fast enough in an emergency)- never mind I wasn't gaining any weight so would've ended up the same weight as say someone small who gained 30-50 lbs. So my water birth dream was taken. I was told at first I'd be allowed to go to 41 weeks with GD but then later "Oh we'll probably induce around 38 or 39 weeks"- never mind my numbers were very good, normal even. Each and every visit there was something new and with each visit my heart broke a bit more. Till the final straw came and I came home sobbing and my husband made a decision- WE'D have a home birth!
But just because the decision was made did not make for the road to be easier. For a while it became harder and we had new struggles to over come. Number 1: MONEY. But for him that was a non-issue, he'd figure it out somehow. In our research and searching we found out a few not well known things- our insurance may cover some of the prenatals/postnatals, just not the actual birth costs itself. Between 40-60%. And what insurance doesn't cover we can write off on our taxes as a medical expense. So for us personally the actual out of pocket costs will be manageable. But we came to another hitch- we'd have to pay at least half of the costs up front (and with some HB MWs the whole amount). $1500 is not something we have- ever. The dream was lost and my heart was broken. I fell into a cycle of denial (not even wanting to think I was pregnant anymore) and depression (talking about it would do no good- money just doesn't fall out of my mouth in that way). I was lost.
We'd interviewed MWs and I emailed them all back letting them know our situation and that we were sorry we couldn't hire any of them. And a miracle MW happened. This is her calling and she helps those that need it- and we needed it, so she was willing to help and work with us. Our birth was important to her, as much as was it us. We had a midwife! And just the right one.
We've moved forward and are now in the last steps toward our dream. We're having a much better pregnancy than my last, especially in regards to the GD, that through just a bit of tweaking of diet has been controlled into normal "limits"- seriously I've had maybe a total of 5 or 6 high numbers this whole pregnancy (and when I say high it's not all that high even). I feel alot of that has to do with how much lower stress I've been feeling.
Not everyone we know and love supports this decision- there are people who don't really want to look at it or anything I try and show them to show how safe this is. But these tend to be more medically minded people so I have to be patient. I'm feeling so much safer in thoughts of giving birth at home than I do in thoughts of hospital birth. Birth is a natural process and I can do it with the right support.
I still have a bit of work to do on the fear (and lack of self-confidence) aspects of my body being able to go into labor and stay in labor on its own, but I'm working on it. Or through it really. I feel at peace and ready (but not too ready as he's not ready for a few more weeks- I'm 35 and need to get to 37 first). I am working on birth art to help me heal, prepare, to inspire me when it's at it's roughest. I am excited to be able to birth were it feels right. I have the right people with me this time. Those that are excited for this venture, And supportive and love me enough to help hold me up and LISTEN. My good friend, my blessed MW and her mentor, my children (yup they'll be here too- maybe not in the room but in our home) and my biggest champion, my husband. We're all walking a new path together, one that makes us a bigger family and teaches us to trust our bodies and live in our path for a close natural life style.
I'm almost there. Healing has begun and I am finally able to talk about this hard and long journey to a place I've only ever dreamed of. I am excited to share with those that want to listen and those that seek the experience. I am on a path I feel is a spiritual one (for me) bringing me closer to my god and myself. I am still practicing patience and that'll be something I need in abundance till little man is placed upon my skin and I have walked my path.
My path to my home birth.