We are all on a journey. As we learn new things, our perspective and needs evolve. This is how I have been coming to terms with things that have happened in my past. In particular, the home birth of our daughter.
When I set out to have a natural birth, I decided to have the baby in a birthing center. After I spoke with a local midwife, I learned that birthing at home was an option too. This was a new idea to me so I was a bit nervous at the thought, but decided to look into it more before I shot the idea down. The more I looked into it, the more it appealed to me. Films like the Business of Being Born, and Orgasmic Birth sealed the deal.
My next step was choosing a midwife. I called the first one I had talked to back, and set up an appointment for a consultation. It went well. I especially felt at ease with her experience and low transfer rate. Still, I knew that I needed to look around more before I decided on anything.
After searching the net, I was able to get a hold of a list of midwives. Only this list meant very little to me since it was only names on a page. I had no connection to these women, nor did I know where to start. I felt lost. I searched some of the names online with little luck. My instinct at this point told me to get references from the initial midwife. I did, and they checked out. I felt that she was a safe bet so I proceeded forward.
The midwife was great at every prenatal visit. She took extra time after each one to talk with me about my concerns, and also to chat about natural birth.
Then at 28 weeks, she suggested that I get an ultrasound for my 32 week consultation with the back-up OB. I expressed how I was not comfortable getting one given my prior “big baby” experience. I didn’t want to open any doors to trouble. Plus, I knew that my baby was healthy. Still, she pushed the idea saying that it would help rule out complications that could be present at birth.
Her suggestion planted a seed. By the next visit I was having doubts. I started to wonder if I should have one done….especially since I would be having the baby at home. I called to let her know that I would get one done.
As it turned out, my hunch was right. My baby was right on track to being a 9 pounder by 40 weeks. According to the OB, this meant that I would need to have the baby by then, or my home birth was out of the question.
I was furious. I called the midwife, explaining that this was the exact reason that I didn’t want to get one done. I was angry at her, but most of all, I was angry at myself for allowing “the professional” to cloud my judgment. I knew what my body was capable of, and was pissed at what I set myself up for when I knew better.
I started to get the feeling that she was no longer the right fit for me. Given all the difficulties of getting the insurance to cover the home birth as well as the bond I had formed with the midwife, I decided to proceed forward. Basically, I allowed fear to keep me married up with a provider who I was not compatible with.
At the birth, I found my premonition to be true. She pressured me to break my water very early on. I was able to hold her off at that point since my surges were still manageable. Once I hit transition though that changed. I no longer had the motivation to push her away since, well, things were intense, and quite frankly, I was looking for a way out (transition is a very vulnerable time where the needs of the woman can be confusing). She proceeded with breaking my water to speed things along, and then stuck her hands inside of me to move my daughter since she was posterior. Her reasoning for adjusting my daughter’s position was that I would have had to push a lot longer otherwise.
The reason why these interventions bother me so much now is that there was no good reason to do either of them. My labor had been progressing very quickly, and I feel like I endured unnecessary pain all in the name of “routine procedures” she had come to adopt from prior births. There is no telling what my body would have done had she left it alone.
The reason I am sharing all this is I feel that others may be able to take something from my experience. There may be people who look at my story confused as to why I didn’t make a change when I sensed our differences. Well, I believe there may be something for those people to learn too as empathy seems to be lost at times when we are reading a birth story. As birth professionals, we should strive to understand and respect each and every woman’s journey.
I feel that at the beginning of my journey to home birth, I did mesh with my midwife. I felt at ease with her knowledge of pathology, and her logical nature. As I learned more, and became more confident with my body and the process that all started to change. I evolved into an entirely different client. It was me who had changed, not her.
I was not prepared at 32 weeks to search for and connect with a brand new midwife. I honestly didn’t know where to even start. So I settled.
Now that time has gone by, I can see that what I went through was not in vain. In a way, I feel that she was a stepping stone to where I am today. Without going through that experience, I might have remained blind to the fact that even home birth midwives intervene with the birth process in the absence of medical necessity. Because of her, I now understand why some women make the decision to give birth unassisted.
These are lessons I will use as I support other laboring women as well as if we decide to have more children.