Thursday, May 17, 2007

I Had a Baby At Home-- On Purpose!

When I was about 4 months pregnant, with surprise #3, Hubby quit his job and started a new job for less pay, but closer to home. We figured it was ample time for Hubby to work and then qualify for health insurance before baby was due. What a goof that turned out to be! Nine days into the new job, they told Hubby that they had over-hired and didn't need him anymore. Gah! Hubby tried to get back his old job, but that is like a whale trying to fit through a mouse hole. Hubby filled out a thousand applications and went to 100 interviews, but nothing was happening. The job market slowed down and we were living off our savings.

Meanwhile, it is nearing the end of November and I am 8 months pregnant, still no health insurance and the last time I had a sonogram was when I was about 15 weeks pregnant. I am getting anxious here and I actually asked Hubby if he felt confident enough to deliver the baby himself. His face going pale was answer enough. I decided then that we would need to hire a midwife. I was going to have this baby at home, without an epidural because there was no time now to get a job and work 90 days before health insurance kicks in. I located a midwife website through a friend and posted an urgent request for a local midwife. The very next day, we got a call from a woman that lived about an hour away and said she would be willing to help us.

We met her a few days later and she was the exact picture in my head what a midwife would look like: Long hair, long flowy skirt, minimal make-up, sandals-- a very down to earth woman. She was warm and friendly and asked us questions about the pregnancy and my previous births. Then it was time for the examination. We went to the bedroom and I laid on the bed and she had a little doctor's kit with all sorts of neat little tools. She felt the baby in my belly and listened to the heartbeat and took a pee test with a chemical strip that you dip and it changes color and tells you if I had irregular levels of anything. I will tell you this, it was the most comfortable examination I had ever had since the very first examination with my first child.

My due date was around January 9th, but I was absolutely sure that baby would come earlier. I carried so low and even the midwife (will be called MW for the rest of this post) agreed with me. She made plans to come and see me weekly and to call if anything came up. Christmas came and went and I was desperate to have this baby! I was tired of being pregnant and having this big belly getting in my way, I was READY to give birth, but baby wasn't ready to come just yet. The MW came on Jan 4th and said she was going out of town to a midwifery convention/wedding and she just knew that was when baby would decide to come and gave me the back-up MW's number.

January 7th, I woke early and felt some slight discomfort. I grabbed the clock off the wall (I am near-sighted and I don't wear a watch) and took it back to bed with me and timed the discomfort. I don't say contractions because they didn't feel like contractions but I was getting a pattern of being uncomfortable every 5 minutes. I told Hubby to call the MW. 6:30 am, Hubby called and the MW knew she wouldn't make it down in time because she felt I was going to go quickly and told Hubby to call the back-up. 7:00, the back-up was called and she got here a little after 8 am. By then, my contractions, still mild, were up to 3 minutes apart. She checked me and I was 7 cm dilated, which surprised me because my water hadn't broke yet. She told me that was a good thing, because if my water broke, my contractions would be much more intense and painful. I was doing fine and my two girlies were in and out of the bedroom, torn between playing with the MW's doctor kit and watching Tom and Jerry cartoons on TV.

In case you are wondering, we were given a list of things to have ready when it was time to have the baby. We had to order a home birth kit from a website that included absorbent pads for sopping up the water and blood, those wonderful cold pads for my sore coochie, an umbilical cord clamp, receiving blanket and baby hat just like the hospitals have, and rubber gloves for the MW. I also had to go to the county department of health for some forms for the MW to fill out, a tube of cream for the baby's eyes and that heel cutter to draw blood from the baby to test for iron levels. I also needed to provide a crock-pot for warm water, a shower curtain for the bed so I didn't soak through to the mattress, towels, stainless steel bowls and a few other small things. Hubby set up a folding table and the minute the MW arrived, she arranged everything she needed and transformed my cozy bedroom into a cozy delivery room.

Around 9:15 am, my contractions escalated to the point where I needed to rock and I was on my hands and knees, rocking back and forth, groaning what seemed to me very loudly, but when I asked later, the MW said I was very quiet. The pain was intense enough that I wondered how long I would have to do this for-- it wasn't that I couldn't handle it, but if I had to do this for 5 or 6 hours, I would be screaming for someone to reach in and pull the baby out of me. It was not knowing how long I was going to be doing this, that was starting to get to me. I didn't have to worry. MW checked me from the rear as my butt was in the air while I was rocking and she said I only had a little lip left on the side and then I'd soon be ready. She had me lay on my side to help ease that lip away and sure enough, in 10 minutes time, I was ready to push. I got back on my hands and knees (I totally and fully expected to be on my back holding my knees and pushing the baby out, but without pain medication, this was the most comfortable position for me). I remember so clearly seeing my 2 girlies sitting on the bed to the left of me, Hubby standing on my right and MW directly behind me (as she should be) and I pushed once, my water broke. Pushed again, baby's head came out. Third push, baby was out, it's a girl!

There I am on my hands and knees looking down between my legs and seeing all the blood and water and thinking I was going to die!!! At the hospital, you are perched on the edge of the bed and all that comes out of you while pushing falls into a bag tucked beneath your butt, so you never see exactly what or how much is coming out of you except for the actual baby. I'm kneeling in a puddle of my own liquid and waiting to be told what to do-- I am not going to lie down in this! After MW quickly cleaned up the baby, wrapped her and handed her to proud Hubby, she turned her attention back to me. She quickly sopped up the liquid with those absorbent pads and rolled the shower curtain out from under me, then put another absorbent pad down so I could flip over and see my new little girl. Believe it or not, I felt great! I put baby to breast and nursed her, my 2 girlies watching everything, and 5 minutes later Hubby's parents arrived, driving 2 1/2 hours worth of road in 2 hours. I asked MW about the blood and water on the bed and she said that it was actually less than usual, that it was all normal and she assured me that I wasn't going to die. I was up and walking in a half hour, taking a shower, putting that nice, cold pad between my legs and sitting in the living room as if nothing had happened. It was by far, the best birthing experience of all 3.

I had the personal attention of a MW and didn't have 25 nurses coming in and out of my room, poking and prodding me, sticking me with needles and taking my temperature, a pressure cuff wrapped around my arm, tightening every 10 minutes to check my blood pressure and a monitor wrapped around my belly to check the heart-beat of the baby. I wasn't in a cold and sterile room, sitting on a hard vinyl, birthing bed with a smelly pillow and scratchy paper pillowcase. While I showered, MW changed the sheets on my bed, washed everything and even loaded the clothes washer for me! She got me cold water and fruit to eat and stayed for 2 hours after the baby was born to make sure that mother and child were fine.

What happened to the placenta you ask? We had the option to dispose of it however we wished, throw it in the trash, bury it, burn it. Hubby took it out to the fire pit we have and burned it.

If I were to ever have another child, I would do it at home with a midwife. I felt empowered by this experience and I know if I ever come face to face with something that seems impossible, I can do it because I did this.


Karen Putz said...

Thanks for sharing-- I love birth stories, especially homebirths! I had my third child at home and we buried the placenta under a pear tree. :)

lady macleod said...

Wow! Terrific telling of a marvelous event. I love the entire family was there. Clearly an incidence of a bad situation (the lack of health insurance) turned into a wonderful experience.

Your detail and comprehensive grasp of all the details make it so that I am right there.

Thank you for posting this enjoyable real life story. If I have not mentioned it before, thank you for adding me to your "Check 'Em Out" list. I appreciate that.

Drunk Mummy said...

What a great story! My friend had a home birth with a birthing pool. Like you say, both she and her husband were astounded by the amount of blood and gore. The husband had to clean out the pool after the birth. He said he could never eat minestrone soup again!

Krissie said...

Wow! Just... wow!
Your girls were in there? Weren't they scared seeing their Mom like that?
Honestly, I was expecting a horror story. But this sounds great. Other than blood and burning placenta, lol. At least no one tried to eat it. *coughtomcruisecough*

The Good Woman said...

Amazing. I knew a woman who had a baby at home by accident. It kind of arrived in a big hurry and all her husband could find to tie off the cord was a modem cable!

Your experience seems to have been considerably better.

Annie said...

Hi, I found your blog through 'My Wee Scottish Blog' - that was a beautiful birth story, and very similar to 'natural' births my friends have had, albeit in hospital, they too found that being on their hands and knees was most comfortable.

I opted for the hospital with mine - but I have to tell you I completely question the necessity of all the iv fluids, antibiotics, etc etc etc!

jenny said...

Thank you all for your kind remarks.

K- we thought about burying the placenta, but living here in the mountains, there are plenty of wild animals that could dig it up and we thought burning it would be better. I do like what you did, though.

L.M.- It was scary at first to even think about doing a home birth, but I told myself that women have been doing this for thousands of years before doctors came along. That seemed to do the trick!

D.M.- Yum! Minestrone soup!

K.- I like watching "A Baby story" on TV and the girls would watch it with me and I'd answer their questions. I guess by doing that, when it came time for me, they were used to seeing births. They were calm the entire time.

G.W.-- Did the husband deliver the baby too? He was braver than mine!

A.- Welcome! After the epidurals of the first 2, I had back pain for months afterwards and was told that was normal. After the home birth, there was no back pain and I healed considerably faster. I found out much later that side effects for epidurals range from migraines to long term back pain. Somehow, when the anesthesiologist explains all that and makes you sign a waiver while huffing and puffing and biting back the pain of contractions, I must have missed that part.

IndianaJones said...

this is a wonderful and incredible story, thank you for sharing it.

Unknown said...

You are so much braver than I! That was a fantastic story.

Thank you for visiting my blog and I loved you comments.

jenny said...

S.S.-- Thanks for your comments and Welcome!

D- I was only brave because I had no choice! It was either pay a hospital bill without insurance or do it at home. I know from the statement I got from the 2nd baby, the insurance paid over $18,000. I wish I had that kind of pocket change!