Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My story.

Henry’s birth was a very “normal” labor and delivery experience. Two days after his estimated due date, I woke up with contractions 5 minutes apart. I took a shower, packed my bag, cleaned the house and watched Michael Phelps win his 8th gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. I was determined not to be sent home from the hospital for lack of progress so we didn’t leave the house until I was in serious pain. We arrived at the hospital at 6am and I was 5-6cm dilated. It HURT laying on the hospital bed so I immediately requested “anything” to lessen the pain. A few minutes later, a dose of Stadol, a narcotic, was injected into my IV line. It knocked me out within moments and I slept for the next several hours including through the placement of my epidural. When I was lucid enough to know what was going on, I was told “it’s time to push!”. Totally numb from the waist down, I gave birth to Henry exactly 35 minutes later. 
I was very happy with his birth experience. I had the satisfaction of going into labor without an induction and when I was ready to be done with the pain of labor, my request for drugs was quickly met. My baby was perfect, he was alert and breastfeeding immediately after birth and I was in love with his perfect little face!
So, what changed?
How did I go from a highly medicalized birth to a hospital birth plan for a “natural unmedicated birth” to ultimately delivering Baby Liza in a intervention free birth at home?
It all started with that damn blood pressure cuff I was forced to wear during Henry’s hospital birth. I hated that cuff with a passion. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with #2, my thoughts turned to refusing the blood pressure cuff. It seemed so pointless to wear the cuff at all times, even when my blood pressure wasn’t being taken.
This line of thinking led me to wonder what else hospitals did that was not “necessary”? Google quickly educated me that the answer was p.l.e.n.t.y.
I began obsessively reading birth stories of unmedicated natural childbirths. I fell in love with the idea of letting MY body and MY baby’s needs dictate labor and delivery rather than drugs and hospital policies. It quickly became obvious to me that Liza’s birth was going to be very very different from her brother’s.
If I have faith in my body to grow and nourish my baby, why wouldn’t I have faith in my body to give birth?  So, I developed a birth plan:

I am prepared for a natural unmedicated labor and delivery – including no unnecessary medical interventions, freedom of movement during labor and delivery, intermittent monitoring, no ongoing IV unless I become dehydrated, and limited cervical checks. 

* Please do not offer me an epidural or IV pain medications.
* am happy to have 20 minutes of electronic fetal monitoring upon checking in and then intermittent monitoring for five minutes per every hour.
* After the initial cervical check for dilation, I would like my cervix to be checked only upon my request.
* I would like my bag of waters to remain intact unless requested by me.
* I intend to use “mother directed pushing” rather than the nurse counting to 10 and telling me when to push.  I will ask for help, as it is needed.
* Freedom of movement will be important during labor and the pushing process.  I have researched different birthing positions and would like the freedom to push in various positions, not limited to the lithotomic position.
* I prefer to tear naturally with no episiotomy performed during delivery.
* I would like to delay cord cutting for a few minutes.
* I would like my baby to be placed on my chest immediately after birth.
* I would like to decline the routine eye drops and vitamin K shot.
* I would like to deliver the placenta naturally and on my own time, without any tugging or pulling or pitocin.
So you see, not only did I not want an epidural but I wanted my body and my baby to be in charge of our labor and delivery. After developing a birth plan and teaching Taylor all about the stages of labor and why each bullet of our plan was important to me, I was ready to have my baby in a hospital. My ob/gyn laughed nervously when I told him my plan to arrive at L&D when I was puking, shaking and ready to push.
Yet, every time I envisioned actual labor, I always thought of a quote from a French homebirth advocate…..
“The first intervention is leaving your front door.”
That line floated through my head regularly but I thought there was no way I could have a homebirth in very conservative Mississippi. I was content to dream about the impossibility of it all.
At 35 weeks pregnant, Henry and I were grocery shopping when I ran into a good friend. We chatted for a while and then she asked if I had seen the very pregnant girl walking around Kroger. When I said no, she proceeded to tell me that the girl was in early labor and having a home birth. I literally took off running in search of a huge belly and pregnant waddle.
It didn’t take long to find her and she was happy to answer my questions. Yes, she was having a homebirth. Her midwife lives an hour away. She is great and here is her number! I called Norma that afternoon and set up a meeting at her house for two days later.
Norma was absolutely fantastic and everything I hoped she would be. She answered every one of my questions with the exact answers I needed to hear. When I found myself nodding in agreement as she discussed the miracle of childbirth, I knew she was the medical professional we wanted to attend our daughter’s birth. Taylor and I left her house and he immediately said, “Let’s do it!” I called Norma the next day to let her know we were ready to commit to the homebirth experience.
I was 36 weeks pregnant when we switched care to our midwife. As much as I love and respect my ob/gyn, a midwife’s care is a refreshing alternative. She came to our house for my weekly appointments with each appointment lasting around an hour. In addition to normal prenatal care, we also discussed the stages of labor, nutrition, Liza’s placement in my belly and we aired out my fears and anxieties about natural childbirth.
My pregnancy dragged on 7 days longer than Henry’s but Norma was not concerned a bit about passing my due date. All signs pointed towards a healthy baby and a healthy mama. All we had to do was keep a positive frame of mind and wait.

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