Wednesday, February 25

soap box, part two.

First, I have to get something out of the way. YOU are responsible for your healthcare. YOU have to do your research, ask your questions, and trust God to lead you to the right doctor. Doctors are NOT God. The good ones rely on God. Doctors do not know everything. Most of the time they know a lot more than I do. But they can be wrong, and they can definitely be misled. They can unknowingly mislead you. And they can have a much, much different philosphy of care than you. This may or may not be important to you. But the bottom line is, doctors and nurses work FOR YOU. They are YOUR employee. And you can say no. You have the final say.

Okay, here we go...

Here are some of the reasons we felt drawn to home birth. I haven't shared most of this before, so bear with me. It's gong to be a long post today.

It took me 4 months to find an OB that answered my questions in a way that I felt a kinship with. And I loved my OB. His practice has the highest rate of VBAC in our area (about 85%) but the hospital's policies put me on edge.

1. I was considered high risk simply because of my previous C-section
2. Mandatory IV's (because I was high risk).
3. Mandatory, continuous fetal monitoring (you know, since I was high risk).
4. Mandatory blood testing (and you might know my history with that).
5. Atmosphere was not conducive to my wishes for freedom of movement, access to a tub, etc.

And then there were the things about hospitals that just put me on edge in general, such as the normal hospital ew factors - other people's germs, sicknesses, and bodily fluids. The fact that certain nasty viruses can live on surfaces for days at a time. And the fact that hospitals are for sick people, so I immediately feel sick when I go there.

And then there are the things that make me and our family unique - I don't think a protocol, designed for the masses, is always the best choice for my kids. And yes, there is a birth plan, but it's not always followed. Nurses don't always read charts.

What kinds of protocols am I talking about?

Well, things like antibiotic ointment in my child's eyes (which FYI, is only put there to protect your baby from going blind from STD's transferred by the mother. If you don't have any STD's, you don't need it, and your baby will actually be able to SEE you clearly in the hours following delivery. Your doctor will not tell you this - and the hospital staff might not even know why they do it, but this is the truth.)

And I don't think my babies need Hep B shots within 24 hours as I don't have Hep B and they aren't going to be engaging in the types of behavior that would expose them to Hep B in their immediate future.

And there are a few other things, but if you want to know these, you can ask.

When Aaron was born, it was a horrible day. Please don't misunderstand - Aaron himself was a wondrous miracle, and I was and am happy and blessed to be a mommy. I am grateful that God gave us our firstborn and blessed us this way. However, (and I have never shared this before) during the surgery, I was treated with distain and disrespect.

It was as if the hospital staff forgot I was a person. While having contractions, I was told to crawl up on a cold stainless steel table, no clothing, with 6 or 8 total strangers in the room to be "prepped" for surgery.

When I told the anesthesiologist that I felt like I was going to be sick, he held a basin for me. When it took longer than he wanted for me to start vomiting, he snarled, "well, are you going to throw up or aren't you?" And the on call OB who did the surgery was very, very scary. She got done with the section and one of the nurses said, "Are you trying to set a new record? That was fast!" How reassuring - someone I never met cut me open and reassembled me in record time.

I am still deeply sorrowful (and embarrassed) when I think about that day, which I expected to be an overall happy and joyful experience. So you can see how it was a top priority for me to have an entirely different experience, should the Lord allow.

Was God still in charge during my traumatic surgery? Absolutely. Did He forget about me when I was mistreated? Not at all. If it wasn't for His grace, I would have absolutely collapsed. He protected, He watched the doctors, and yes, He saw fit for all of it to happen. I am still trusting Him, trusting that I needed to experience what I did for a reason. Maybe that reason is to share this experience with someone else in order to prevent it from happening to them. Maybe Aaron really wouldn't have been okay. Or maybe I just needed to grow.

This time around, I saw an OB and a midwife. My OB is a believer, he is wonderful, and should I have felt led to go with a hospital birth, he would have been quite capable and on my side one hundred percent. In fact, I will probably go back to him for any future pregnancies God should choose to bless us with. The dual care was a great situation, and because I was able to have ultrasounds, my mind was set at ease about the health of our baby. I was one of hundreds of women in the practice, however, and had no illusions that the doctor would remember each minute detail. And I'd never met the nurses at the hospital. I dug out my birth plan to polish it up.

My midwife, also a believer who even attends our church, was seeing maybe three total pregnant women during the end of my pregnancy. She had my birth wishes in her head, memorized. No strangers were present at my birth. (unless of course you count the yard sale customers, but they were outside!) I felt free to lie down or kneel on my own floor, as I knew exactly whose germs had been there before. I used my own tub and shower. I knew exactly how clean it was. No one stuck me with any needles, or put me on a fetal monitor. I was relaxed. I truly feel that the relaxation sped up the labor considerably.

Here are some reasons I was hesitant about home birth:
1. Risk of complications
2. Pain management
3. Aaron - would he stay home, go to grandmas, what?
4. Aaron - in the days following the birth, would having him around be inconvenient or would I be able to sleep?
5. What if I really, really needed sleep? No nurses to watch baby!
6. Pain management
7. infant screening, not available at home.
8. if something goes wrong, what will people say?
9. everyone will think I am a nut job.
10. cleanup. and seeing blood.

Here is what I did about those things.
1. I saw an OB, we had ultrasounds, we prayed. There were no major defects with baby. We live 6 minutes from the hospital.
2. Yeah, about that. I did a bit of research, and decided no pain meds was actually better for me, for baby. That was before it started hurting.
3. I didn't really know about this. It all worked out for him to be home - he was napping when Evan was born, and it just seemed natural for him to stay.
4. He was fine, and we had family to help.
5. I really, really needed sleep. Evan slept a lot the first couple days. Then we had the same first six weeks every new mom and baby have. It was fine. Not fun, but it never is those first few weeks, is it? Actually, if you think it is, don't tell me. Just enjoy it.
6. It hurt, a lot, but it was fine. Really - it was! And I am not a super hero.
7. Turns out you can have your infant screened up to 2 weeks after birth. At the hospital.
8. I had to put this out of my head. It was hard. But believing that God is in charge at home and at the hospital helped. Honestly, this was my biggest fear - that the baby would be sick or that I would die and Michael would be here with the assaulting thoughts and words of others saying "if you had gone to the hospital..." which really would have helped him grieve. We had to come to the place where we allowed God to lead us, and rested in Him for the outcome. Moms and babies die when and where God decides for that to happen. And thankfully, God decided I was staying put.
9. Everyone already thinks I am a nut job. It's okay. Most of the time.
10. It turns out, it's not all that messy. And I just asked the midwife to not let me see blood. She did a great job. And I decided not to check out the placenta.

Your list may look different. You may think you can't do it without drugs, and that is fine. You don't have to. (but it is great) Home birth is NOT for everyone. But I have to say, PLEASE don't dismiss the idea of home birth. Read the articles, do your research, and keep an open mind. And pray; pray lots. BTW, if you haven't already, you can read both kids' birth stories by checking out my sidebar links.

Please forgive me if you didn't want to read this today. I know it's long, but I think it's like any great experience - you want to share it with everyone possible. You want others to be joyful like you are/were joyful.

I'm just sharing the love, people. Just sharing the love.


Ben and April said...

Wonderful post!! Glad you were able to experience how beautiful birth can be!

LMLogan said...

I'm finding out how more in common we are on this issue!!! we have our own "nightmarish" story... but that's for another day. I too would love a home vbac if the Lord wills!! keep this info coming!! people need to know!!!

The Barkers said...

loved hearing all the details. I hadn't heard the part about the discussion going on in the OR. Yikes. I commend you on your bravery and I'm so THRILLED for you that it turned out the way it did. :-)

Autum said...

I agree the dual care was great and knowing I could go to the hospital if I needed to was nice. One thing I know, I was not comfortable with birthing at the same hospital you would have had you chosen a hospital birth and I work there. I just did not have a peace about delivering there.

God had just the right plan for both of us.

Tina said...

Jenny, Sarah directed me to your blog and I've loved reading it! I feel we are kindred spirits already...we just had VB2AC last November. I would love for you to join my yahoo group for Christian VBAC moms. You could be an inspiration and help to others there! It's called VBAC_HOPE and it's found here:

Tricia said...

That's great Jenny! i haven't been in that scenario, but I definitely do not like giving birth at the hospital. I'm looking into a birthing center for this next one...but it's an hour away...which would not be fun. I know we don't have anyone that does home birth right in our area, but maybe I'll have to look into how far the ones travel that work in Chicago. Thanks for all your research. I'm in complete agreement with your philosophy disclaimer at the top.

Sarah Valiante said...

Thanks for sharing. I was glad to hear about the reasons and the outcome. I probably would have had the same fears considering all you went through the first time. I think we were surprised at how well our deliveries went...but like you said, God knows exactly what we need when we need it. And for me, I had other areas of growth to deal with...God knows exactly the areas of stretching! Praise the LORD for His greatness and perfect sovereignty! Thanks again for sharing.

KColas said...

Jenny, this was very interesting and helpful to me. I had wondered why you went with a home birth but never remembered to ask. Thanks for enlightening me! Your description of Aaron's birth gave me the willies. Bless your heart! And I had to smile at the comment "I knew exactly how clean my own shower was." That's the Jenny Forbes Muth I know and love!

Amanda said...

feelin' the love sister!

Busch family said...

Jenny, thanks so much for sharing this. I especially appreciated your sharing your fears/concerns about home birth and what you did with them. It was so encouraging. I am way more comfortable with home birth than Kevin is (slightly surprising to me since he was born at home and his mom was a midwife for years on end), and we considered it when we were expecting Ruthanne. He really wanted me at the hospital though, so that's the way we went. Her birth was totally different than Silas' and a lot harder. I missed the birthing center we'd had in va beach. I had a midwife here, but the hospital experience was not exactly what we expected. Not as great for lots of reasons. Anyway, I really appreciate you sharing. I wish we could get together for coffee and discuss this in person. :) I agree completely with you on the doing-your-research thing. I learned a lot of crazy/scary/interesting things! Thanks for the soap box! I enjoyed it and am thankful for God's leading in your life and your willingness to share.

Kara said...

I can't believe you didn't check out the placenta. :)

This was kid #5 and the dr. said to me, "Would you like to see the placenta?" And I told her the dr.s had never asked me that before. Dr. Canales rocked!

TwoMuths said...

Kara, did you look????

Kara said...

Yes! It's huge! How does that AND a baby fit in there? Miraculous.

Carrie said...

Awesome post, Jenny!! I loved how you put this at the top: "Doctors and nurses work FOR YOU. They are YOUR employee. And you can say no." That is so true, yet many women do not realize this. I've heard it over and over again . . . "My doctor won't LET me go more than 1 week overdue" or "I HAD to have such and such done," etc. Grrr. I guess I have my own soapbox on this issue, LOL. :)

I am with you on the eye ointment and the no hep B shot, also. I had one nurse in the hospital with my first who gave me a very hard time about the eye ointment. I was not impressed.

And I've checked out my placenta after both of my home births. :) Kara is right, it's huge! It grossed me out more with the second one, for some reason. But it really is cool. Which reminds me, we still have Josiah's in the freezer--need to plant it under something this spring! LOL.

Sorry this is so long, I sometimes get carried away with my comments. :) I'm just still so happy that your home birth was such a great experience, and I'm really glad you posted more about the reasons you went with one.

Rosemary said...

Jenny, thank you for sharing your research, your concerns and joys. I am sure that this helps new parents so much. I am so thankful that God has provided gifted midwives, nurses, doctors - giving parents so many options to best bring their baby safely into the world. Your midwife was definately a gift from God for you and Evan.
Our daughter was lucky to have had wonderful caring doctors and nurses at the hospitals where her babies were born.
We pray for - and thank God everyday for the gift of the many very skilled nurses and doctors who are helping our yet unborn tiny granddaughter and her mommy (24 weeks along on hospital bedrest due to problems with her pregnancy). Thank you for your prayers - things are going well, so we will just keep that up!!! God bless and protect the little ones!

TwoMuths said...

Aunt Rosemary, I am also VERY glad for knowledgeable doctors and nurses who can help in situations where help is needed!! My concerns, expressed here, are more for interventions that don't need to happen. I AM praying for Steve & Shannon, and know that the doctors will be a gigantic blessing to them!

Tim and Richelle said...

thanks for sharing your story, jenny - i'd never heard much about aaron's arrival. sorry it was such a rotten experience, but i so appreciate your sweet spirit regarding all that happened.

i just had a few comments.
1) in principle, i agree with what you said about doctors working for you; in practice, however they are also the ones who end up getting sued by patients (often noncompliant patients) - so the good ones develop a protocol that they think will best protect themselves and their patients. this time around, my doctor and i had to discuss and come to an agreement as to what she felt was truly necessary and where there was room to negotiate... since I'd traveled halfway around the world without half my family to be in this practice, i had to respect her nonnegotiables; but i was also thankful that she was willing to listen, consider and adapt where professionally/ethically she felt she could. and i knew going into the situation that this would be the case.
2) no doubt about it, giving birth in the states is the lap of luxury compared to many other places! believe me, I know! :-)
3) yeah, you should have checked out the placenta - just to say you did! :-) here they offer to send it home with you so you can bury it under the tree and protect your baby from evil spirits. you should have seen tim's face when the midwife tried to hand it to him the first time around. :-)

once again, appreciated your thoughts.