All of my life I knew it was my destiny to have my babies at home. I was the first of 8 babies born during a time when home birth was perceived by most as outdated and possibly dangerous. However, within our community of "hippie" friends and family well over 20 healthy babies were successfully born into the arms of their fathers.
A few times the cord was wrapped around the neck or there was a knot, some babies were very big, in fact there was even a breech birth and a pair of twins. These women didn't have midwives, or prenatal care, there were no books on home child birth at that time.
They were determined not to relate to pregnancy as a disease. Each of these women reasoned that their bodies were MADE to make babies. They rejected the fearful way pregnancy was regarded and found within themselves the POWER that comes from trusting ones body.
These are the thoughts placed in my mind from my first day of life. Unfortunately, there appeared to be little or no support whatsoever for Mom, my Aunts, and their friends. During my birth the grandparents called every few hours to beg my parents to let them pay for the hospital birth, and accuse them of recklessness.
That was 29 years ago and when I first became pregnant 4 yrs. ago I was surprised and greatly disappointed to find out that not much has changed. I was only able to find care with a doctor once I stopped saying I wanted to have my baby at home. I was told several times that the doctor wouldn't see me at all if that was what I was going to do. My desire to have a home birth was met with reactions of horror. I wasn't able to find ANY support within the medical community. I ended up getting prenatal care at the local public hospital and just not showing up when the baby came. I use the word "care" in that sentence very lightly. I didn't even know how bad my prenatal care was until I got good prenatal care with a midwife.
When I went into labor it felt like I'd been hit by lightning. It was more intense than I ever imagined. The family gathered and I had a team working on me at all times massaging my back and legs. It took 17 hrs. to get a 9 lb. 3 oz. baby boy out. It was terribly hard on me. I ripped. I couldn't get the placenta out afterwards because I was so exhausted. I napped in the tub for a while and then it came out but not easily. Even with all the experienced family members there to assist, I felt alone. It wasn't as if I lost my faith or trust at any point, but there were moments when I needed someone who knew more than that I could do it.
All of that aside, it was a moment of supreme victory. Dave caught our son and cut his cord. My son watched his first sunrise from the arms of my mom a few hours later as everyone else in the house rested. His entrance into this world was met by his rejoicing family. That is what I wanted for him, it is what I wanted for myself and it was a moment that changed Dave forever.
It was 5 months before I stopped hurting. I feel like I missed so much of the first months because I was in pain. Physically the experience was enough to put some fear into me of ever doing it again.
When Dave wanted another baby 2 yrs. later, it was not an easy idea for me to embrace but we knew without a doubt that we would do it at home again. This time though, I would get some help. Dave agreed to get a midwife as long as he could still catch and cut.
I was so lucky to find Bonnie. Dave knew I'd already picked her before I did. She was simply the only choice for me after talking with her. We clicked instantly but my appreciation for her expertise took time.
I wasn't sure what I'd do with a midwife, knowing that I could do it by myself. My thought was that if she could only help me find an easier way to do labor it would be worth the money. With so little expected from her it wasn't long before she blew my mind.
That was when I experienced what real prenatal care is. When she took my blood, she didn't butcher my arm like the nurse at the hospital had. After she looked at my blood work she told me that I needed to get my iron level up, even though it wasn't at a dangerous level. She made it clear that if I could get my iron level up and increase my protein intake that I would stop feeling so faint all the time and most importantly it would make labor easier if I had more strength. I had the same physical experiences the first time but the care I received never included any advise of that sort. It's very clear to me that had anyone mentioned these things to me the first time I could have had less trouble during the entire first pregnancy.
She watched the first labor on video and advised me as to how to approach this labor. Months of her input prepared me to do it again. Over all, the two "prenatal care" experiences don't even compare. Having Bonnie and Ginger as a part of my second pregnancy had an enormous impact.
When I went into labor Ginger was with us before my family got there. Once again, it was more intense than I thought I could handle. Once again, I was lucky to have my sisters and mother massaging my back the entire time.
Bonnie was on vacation but literally flew to my side. She was in touch with us on the phone until her plane landed. Ginger's ability to check my progress and advise accordingly was so helpful. Before we knew it, I was pushing.
Bonnie appeared just in time to talk me through it. As he was coming out, I heard the command, "Stop!" The cord was wrapped around his shoulders like a harness. Unbelievably, I was able to stop and they slipped the cord over his shoulders. With her guidance I was able to push out an 11 lb. 5 oz. baby boy with only the tiniest tear. This time it took only 7 hrs., partly because I had so much more strength going in to it and partly because it was my second baby. So, instead of collapsing afterwards, I was alert and able to really participate in the first few hours after his birth.
I found myself marveling at how quickly it had happened and how relatively undamaged I felt. The recovery period was NOTHING like the first. For days I kept thinking to myself, " That was it!?"
In both cases the outcome was essentially the same. I got two fabulously healthy babies born into Dave's arms. I was able to do it at home where I felt most comfortable and in control. My family was there to greet my babies. And as far as I'm concerned, the sensation of supreme victory was present both times.
BUT there is a notable difference in the two experiences for me as a woman and it's all about damage control. I didn't incur nearly the amount of damage the second time because I had help. It made all the difference. I would never do it again without Bonnie, Ginger and my massage team. Neither will my sisters do it alone.
My eternal thanks to Bonnie and Ginger.
Normally I do not take clients whose due date is within 3 weeks either side of me being unavailable.
When Wyn first came to me and we calculated her due date, I informed her that I would be away soon after that date. I recommended she choose another midwife. She did not want to do this and accepted the fact that I may not be able to attend. I arranged for another midwife to attend the birth, but due to extremely unusual circumstances, I flew back to be with her myself.
In the end, I was very pleased to have come back, as she had a great birth