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.