You guys may remember Dori’s previous contribution to Offbeat Mama — Why I almost decided to have an unassisted birth. She’s followed up with her birth story!
The last midwife, the one we eventually chose to help us birth our baby, the one who’d caught over 1200 babies, asked me the first two. “Why do you want to have a home birth?” and “Do you trust your own body?”
The first was asked when we met for the first time. “Well, we’re ‘do it yourself’ kind of people,” my boyfriend responded. The second question she asked was in response to the way I’d been handling the rare occasions of nausea and heartburn throughout my pregnancy. She didn’t approve of my particular method, despite its sanctioning by a previous Certified Nurse Midwife I’d worked with in New Mexico during the first half of my pregnancy.
Eventually, we couldn’t come to a compromise and she left the picture, saying that she didn’t believe she had the time to “develop a relationship with me.” It was two weeks before my due date, and given that we WERE “do it yourself” types of people and that I did “trust my own body” I looked at my boyfriend and asked him, “What did we think we needed a midwife for anyway?”
We purchased all the supplies ourselves. We had a birthing pool. We’d been studying, researching, watching videos, reading books, asking questions, making contacts. We decided to, yep, just do it ourselves, and formulated a backup plan that involved the local women’s hospital in case anything went wrong.
Paloma’s due date came and went. Nine days later I got my bloody show, and within 30 minutes, full-on labor had begun. I got in the pool. I was biting on a towel, begging for ice cubes and asking for as little other stimulation as possible. I couldn’t be touched. I didn’t want to be talked to. My poor boyfriend was trying to keep it together but was beside himself.
A little while later, I said to him, “I’m not sure there should be this much blood just yet.” My body had begun to push on its own, but I was lightheaded, weak, and something didn’t feel right. And for all my studying and research, there was no way to transform these sensations into anything remotely resembling “orgasmic” or “pain-free.” We raced to the hospital.
In an emergency room, I begged to be taken to an actual birthing room. I let everyone know there was a birth plan in the folder my boyfriend was holding, and no one looked at it. Somehow or another, I screamed out my demands while my baby began to crown.
Five hours after labor began I was almost too weak to keep pushing. The doctor was trying his hardest to stretch me wide enough to get her head out. “Please just let me stand up,” I begged him, but they didn’t allow it, and so on my back I remained with nurses encouraging me to push and the doctor, telling me one small snip and he’d have her out of me. In the end I acquiesced — though my birth plan stated that I’d rather tear, I’d already torn to the third degree and still, she would not exit. One small snip, not quite an episiotomy, and she came flying out of me, this giant baby no one expected to be this big. The doctor had a look of surprise on his face as she landed in his hands and immediately began to cry. She was placed on my stomach, and then I reached down and brought her to my breast.
Thanks to the most amazing labor and delivery nurse on the planet, Paloma learned how to breastfeed properly on first latch, and her father was allowed to cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing. As I breastfed my baby for the first time, my placenta slipped out of me and she collected it in a bowl. As they began the process of cleaning and stitching me up, the nurse picked up my placenta and walked us through it all, showing us where Paloma had resided for the past nine months. Then she sent it along to the freezer so we could collect it on our way out.
The third question came from someone on Facebook — one of those “pain-free unassisted-homebirth” folks I’d used as a resource. All she had to say when I made my birth announcement was “So what happened to the homebirth?” There were no congratulations from her.
I’d failed in my birthing bad-assness, apparently, by seeking the assistance of medical professionals. While the hospital was a less-than desirable experience for me, when I start counting the fat rolls on this delicious little babe of mine and know that we’re both alive because I made a decision not to be so much of a badass, well… you’d have to do a LOT of convincing to tell me that I’d failed at anything.