Part of the reason I decided on homebirth was because of reading dozens of birth stories online. I think http://www.childbirth.org/ had the most, and they group them so you can read homebirth stories, hospital, C-section,etc. Nearly every story I read about homebirth seemed about 100 times better than all the other hospital birth stories. The hospital stories were loaded with tales of intervention after intervention and women who often felt violated and were dissappointed by their birth experience. The hospital births didn't even seem like a natural process, but more like a baby factory where the births are manufactured instead of just letting nature take its course.
Women are often not allowed to have their opinions heard, but instead are told that the doctor and nurses at the hospital know what's best. What they really know best is how to avoid a law suit and how to make money. But anyways, I won't go there...now. :) Below are the birth stories of my 3 kids, with the fourth to be added some time in September, 2010! Why do I love homebirth stories?
Because every natural birth story reveals the brilliance and awesomeness of God's nature, how He created us to give birth and be born, without any other necessary interventions like episiotomies, pitocin, tongs, vaccuums, C-sections, epidurals, and the like.
Birth is a natural process. There is often nothing natural about a hospital birth. I attended one hospital birth (my sister's) and it was a frightening experience. I was 6 weeks pregnant and couldn't imagine myself ever wanting that for myself. Of course, there is a time when hospital births are necessary, but in a normal pregnancy, home is the safest place to be born, in my opinion. My first birth was far from ideal, but had I been in a hospital, I'm fairly certain I would have had a C-section.
Cody's Birth Story
I had my first child when I was 23 in the year 2000. If you read the "Why We Chose Homebirth" post, it will explain why we chose homebirth in the first place. We live in Illinois where homebirth is not mainstream and they refuse to license midwives for homebirth.
So, I chose a lay midwife to deliver our child. She was a licensed nurse at the local hospital, and was the head nurse for the OB floor. She had delivered over 1,000 babies at home over the course of 20 years, and assisted in births at the hospital as well. She was actually starting to get out of homebirths because of the heat she was getting from Illinois to stop doing homebirths, but she agreed to assist us. She was given 7 cease and desist orders from the state, which she was fighting, but refused to give up assisting women in homebirths.
It is not illegal in Illinois to give birth at home, but it is a gray area on whether or not it is legal for someone to assist in homebirths (like lay midwives). Since Illinois will not license midwives for homebirth, they cannot say that they are breaking a law by operating without a license. The midwives in IL would love it if they would license midwives. They would have no problem complying.
But as it is, you must be a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) to legally assist homebirths. CNM's are similar to doctors, except that they cannot perform C-sections. It was difficult to find a homebirth midwife in our area, but we found one through word of mouth mostly. The cost of our homebirth was $1,800. This covered all prenatal and postnatal care, and the delivery itself.
I was due on June 11th. This day came and went. On Friday, June 23rd, I woke up at 6am to drive my husband to work. I started having mild contractions in the car on the way and was excited that today might finally be the day. After waiting 12 days, and having days of Braxton-Hicks contractions which always dissipated, I was determined not to let these contractions stop. Stupid, silly me. Like I could stop a baby from being born.
I went home and tried to go back to sleep but couldn't. Just like the Bradley method had taught, I started timing the contractions and writing them down. This is a dumb idea if you ask me. Like Adam and Eve kept a stop watch and wrote down each contraction. (The first thing I did in my second birth was ditch this practice.) I ended up being in labor for a total of 22 hours! Can you imagine writing down each and every contraction over 22 hours? Insane.
But anyways, the contractions were mild, but definitely coming every several minutes or so without fail, and the contractions felt different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having during the whole pregnancy. Slightly stronger, and more pronounced.
I went to the store to stock up on some last minute foods. I had been doing this since 3 weeks before I was due, so by 5 weeks later, I had given up and said to heck with it. If we run out of food, we run out of food, which wouldn't likely happen anyway, but for some reason, you always feel like you need to stock up on everything in the house right before a baby.
My mom invited us over for dinner around 4pm. We went and had beef stew and didn't tell her I was in labor. My husband leaked a hint to her as we were leaving telling her tonight was probably the night. I was not happy with him about that. My mom was very against us having a homebirth and I was not intending to have her at the birth for fear she might do something crazy like call an ambulance (which she did later!). So, we went home.
Contractions very slowly over the day got more intense, but it was more annoying having them come every few minutes for so long, without much activity otherwise. I was thinking I was doing so well and enduring these contractions like a Super Woman, and I must be getting closer after all this time.
I don't remember when we called the midwife the first time, but around 7pm, I called her again. They always want to talk to you on the phone to see how you sound during a contraction. I hate that. I'm not very vocal when I'm in pain. She didn't think she needed to come over yet and asked us to call her later when things kick up.
Finally, around 10pm or so, she came by to check on me. (Just a note here - this is not how most homebirths should go in my opinion. My midwife for my next two kids was MUCH more attentive). She checked to see how far I was dilated. I thought for sure, I must be close to 10 as my contractions had since gotten much stronger. I was at 3! I almost died.
She very non-chalantly said I had a long way to go, and she was going to leave and to call her when things picked up. *%$#@! What?! I didn't know what to say. If I was only at 3 centimeters after 18 hours of labor, how much longer would I have?
At this point, if I were in the hospital, they almost definitely would have told me I needed to have a C-section for failure to progress, and I likely would have agreed to it. I tried to take a bath. That didn't help as I couldn't get my belly submerged.
Most of the time I walked around and leaned over a big toy box in the baby's room on my own. My mother-in-law was there and the look on her face really annoyed me. It read, "You're in a lot of pain. I'm scared."
My husband wanted to time each and every contraction and was annoyed when I didn't let him know when they were starting and stopping. Sorry, when you have been doing that for hours on end, and the contractions are getting harder, you just want to throw that darn stop watch out the window and scream, "Can you not tell when I'm having a contraction?!"
Those stupid Bradley classes gave the husband about one job which is to time contractions. He wanted to do it right and be able to tell the midwife how far apart the contractions were when she called, but realistically, you really only need to time them once every so often, and if it's more of a nuisance to the woman in labor, you are doing more harm then good and probably just prolonging labor.
If the husband isn't timing contractions, he feels like he's not doing anything I suppose. Here's a clue to any husbands out there reading - you can't fix this. There is not much you can do but listen and watch for your wife's cues. If she is in pain, you can try to massage her lower back. If she pushes you away, don't get annoyed. This is no time for your wife to politely say, "Honey, could you not do that? That doesn't feel good right now." Be attentive, but don't be overbearing.
Most women, like female animals, prefer to have their babies in a quiet, peaceful, safe place. Some women might prefer the husband right there but I for one don't. Ask your wife. Enough about that.
So anyways, less than an hour later, I was really annoyed with these contractions, and emotionally defeated over the notion that after all that time, I was only at 3 cm. Didn't think I could do another several hours of this. We called the midwife again and she was out with her husband. I could hear them talking and her husband was trying to tell her to go ahead and go over and she was reluctant because they were out doing something. So, she said to call her again in a little while.
About a half an hour later, I told my husband I wanted to go the hospital. I wanted a C-section. I didn't care. Just get this baby out. I was annoyed that my midwife was not there to provide any kind of emotional support and actually acted like I was ruining her plans for the night. I did not use a doula (labor assistant). Wish I had for my first.
So my husband called the midwife and told her I wanted to go to the hospital. Finally, she said she'd be right over. I think she got there some time after midnight. I must have progressed quickly over those last couple hours or so because I was then dilated to 8 I believe.
Around 2am, she told me to try to push. I didn't have strong urges to push. I pushed for about 4 hours. My midwife had little to say. She was more of a sit back and watch kind of midwife. But finally, right at the end, she told me I was pushing wrong and I needed to push like the baby is going down a waterslide, tilting the pelvis forward more.
Well, a couple pushes later, slowly out pops his head. Could you not have told me that 4 hours ago?! Seriously! So, at 4:07am, Cody Daniel was born.
Unknown to me, my husband immediately called my mom who lived 2 miles away and had slept in her clothes. She was there in 2 minutes flat. Cody was extremely alert, eyes WIDE open and moving his neck from side to side, looking at everything, and sticking his tongue in and out. We always tease him that he looked like a lizard and was looking for food.
He weighed 7 lbs, 4 oz. I was exhausted! I felt like my body weighed 400 pounds and I was sinking into the bed. I couldn't move an inch I was so tired. I held him for a minute, then they wrapped him in a towel and walked away from the bed to take pictures. Hello - it's me over here. The one who just gave birth and labored for 22 hours!
My mom came and gushed over him and they took more pictures. Finally, I nursed him and he nursed right away. I hadn't slept for over 36 hours and was exhausted. My midwife wanted me to get up right away and try to use the bathroom. I couldn't get up. I was dizzy and too weak and tired. She said it was alright to lay down for a while then. I ended up tearing slightly. She said she could or could not do stitches. I chose not to and healed just fine.
She stayed for about 2 hours (this is usually their minimum stay, which is about how long it takes to clean up, weigh and measure the baby, etc.). My mom was drilling her. She did not like the idea of having a midwife and didn't feel she was qualified. My midwife left quickly, which also annoyed me. She said to try to get up in a while and use the bathroom. We all went to sleep.
My mom came in after a couple of hours and tried to wake me up to use the bathroom. I didn't want to get up and she tried to sit me up. I laid back down. She thought I passed out so she called an ambulance!
I woke up several minutes later to several firemen in my bedroom. My husband was asleep next to me and also woke to this nice surprise. We didn't know what was going on. They started taking my blood pressure and told my mom they couldn't find a heartbeat. I must have been dead then, right?
They wanted to take me to the hospital. I said I didn't want to go, that I just felt a little dizzy and weak. Wouldn't you after pushing out a cantalope? They wanted to give me an IV to get me some fluids and they put an oxygen mask on me. I just let them so they'd leave me alone b/c they kept insisting on taking me to the hospital.
I said I would let them do that, but they said I had to go in the ambulance for something. I don't even know. So, to appease them and my mom, I agreed to go in the ambulance for the "treatment" they felt I needed. I thought I would probably start to feel better, and then they'd leave me be. They brought me out to the ambulance.
We lived in a town home, so half of my neighbors who knew I was having a homebirth were outside staring at me with an oxygen mask, being carted out to the ambulance. Once there, I told them I felt better and wanted to go back inside.
They totally lied (I believe) and said once I was in the ambulance, they were required to take me to the closest hospital, which is one I didn't even like. So off we went. I was not happy at all. My husband brought the baby to the hospital and met us there. It was about 9am.
They brought me to the ER, to the hospital that my midwife worked at. They questioned who attended my birth and I told them her first name only. They guessed that it was the midwife that worked there and they were not happy, nor were they very nice to me!
They were appalled that I had a homebirth, and acted like I was putting my life and my baby's life in jeopardy, when nothing went wrong. I was tired! That's to be expected. I had nothing on but a night shirt, no shoes or socks. I nursed Cody while I had to wait for the doctor on call to get there. None on duty. Nice hospital.
The doctor ordered an ultrasound to be done. I guess they couldn't think of anything else to do since nothing was wrong with me! The paramedics at my house had wanted to know where the placenta was. Well, it was in the garbage. Didn't plan on keeping it for any reason, sorry.
But, since they didn't see it, they were just guessing that maybe there was still some placenta left in my uterus. Later, my midwife said that the placenta was in tact, one thing they always check for so really no reason for an ultrasound. But this was all they could come up with.
Meanwhile, one of the many rude nurses came in and was horrified that my son was there with me. Get this - she actually told me that the hospital was no place for a newborn baby! That he should go home immediately. That hospitals are filled with germs. LOL!
The hospital is no place for a baby, yet you people are hounding me for having a homebirth. So, off Cody went, back home with my Dad of all people, who knows nothing about babies. So, we ended up being separated for 6 hours while I was at the hospital doing nothing.
At one point, my Dad called saying he couldn't find the formula and that the baby was hungry. I almost died that they were actually going to give him a bottle of formula had they been able to find it. I was planning on breastfeeding exclusively for at least several weeks before introducing a bottle.
I told him not to give him anything, and I tried to get out of the hospital ASAP, but they wouldn't let me leave. I was scheduled for a ultrasound - my first. I hadn't had any while pregnant. It was very painful having them push down on my uterus after just giving birth.
Of course, the ultrasound showed up with absolutely nothing. There was no placenta left and everything was normal, but it wasn't until a few hours later that I found this out.
Meanwhile, after the ultrasound, they moved me up to the OB floor to wait for the doctor on call to get there. While waiting, I asked a nurse for a Depends or something as I had nothing with me, and after having a baby, you need one for bleeding. They did not want to give me anything. They told me they didn't have anything in the ER. Hello, it's a hospital.
Finally, a while later, she showed up with something. But, seriously, they were SO RUDE! They did not want to be helpful to me at all, b/c they were so darn mad that I had a homebirth.
So up to the OB I go with my mom and my husband to wait. Meanwhile, another very rude nurse comes in and says she thinks I may need surgery and wants to give me pitocin to help clear out any left over placenta from my uterus. She didn't even have the results of the ultrasound yet, and she was no doctor.
She wanted to start me on some kind of IV and start giving me other drugs b/c she thinks I'll need a D and C ( a surgery where they clean out the uterus). After laboring for 22 hours to have a natural childbirth, I was not going to start taking drugs now, and while I'm breastfeeding. I refused to take anything.
She was really annoyed and started telling me how she has a daughter, and that I could be risking my life and my baby needs me, and she thinks I could have excessive internal bleeding, etc., etc. She actually told me that I could die.
I didn't know what the heck she thought she was doing and couldn't understand why some nurse (she wasn't even a doctor for pete sake), was telling me all this and trying to do all this stuff on me when the doctor on call wasn't even there yet.
I refused to do anything and just kept asking to go home. They said if I went home without a doctor's permission to leave, that my insurance would not pay for anything. I don't know if that's true or not. So I stayed and waited.
Meanwhile, this nasty nurse comes back and says, "You're going to hate me for this." Then she takes both her hands and crosses them over my lower abdomen and puts all of her weight on me and pushes down a few times. I'm not kidding! I screamed and screamed. It hurt like the dickens.
My mom runs up and closes the door. My husband stood back and watched as I stared at him like, "Help me!" He didn't feel like he could do anything. Of course, I passed a lot of blood. The nurse seemed pleased with herself like she did me some kind of favor.
Since I wouldn't take the pitocin, she thought she'd do what she felt like doing. I wanted to kill her. Shortly after, the doctor on call FINALLY shows up. He says he's looked over the ultrasound and it looks fine and he says, "So I hear you want to go home?" I said, "Yes." He says, "OK, you're free to go." After all that!
It was around 3pm, and I still hadn't gotten any sleep. So I went home. I did call my midwife while at the hospital and she thought it was ridiculous what they were doing but she really couldn't do anything. She was dissappointed that my mom hadn't called her instead of an ambulance as she could have come over to check me out. They couldn't find anything wrong with me but still took on the opinion that this was a homebirth gone bad, and that my midwife was partially to blame.
I found out later that my mifwife was fired from her job within weeks of this incident, and that the IL board of nurses or something rather, took away her nursing license, citing that she was using her nursing license to practice home births, and that she was giving the hospital a bad name because she worked there or something. It was crazy.
I should have sued the hosptial for how they treated me. I later had to testify in downtown Chicago at her hearing when she was trying to get her license back. My midwife's case was that they couldn't prove that anything was wrong with me. A Chicago newspaper did a big article on her and the situation. I don't know what ultimately happened, but I think I was her last homebirth. She stopped practicing midwifery and nursing and went into law instead.
So, this was not the homebirth experience I had envisioned, nor is it how most homebirths go. One thing was for sure though after leaving that hospital - I never wanted to step foot into a hospital to give birth to any of my kids! Imagine if I was there for my whole birth experience.
My next homebirths were much, much better, thanks mostly to my awesome midwife. First babies are tough, but I also found that water births are great! Had I had the support I needed, my first definitely would have gone a little better, but God was still in control, and I ended up with a very healthy baby.
I will try to post my daughter's homebirth soon so you don't get this "bad" homebirth experience stuck in your head. Actually, it was more of a bad hospital experience more than anything. Sometimes labors are long and hard. That's just reality. But, as my next three births can atest, they aren't all that way.
Read Lynsey's home birth story here.
The All Natural Pregnancy
Why We Decided to Have Home Births
Labels: Our Homebirth Stories