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#214 Births stories of Barbara, USA – 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994

3 Mar

I had 10 pregnancies, 7 live births. They all happened in the USA. number 3 was in Red Bluff, California. Number 4 was in Forest Grove, OR. All others were in Portland, OR.

1. Benji – 1975I was told by a friend to have a natural birth, to go to birthing classes where I should choose my birthing options, and to do most of the labor at home. I chose rooming in, no drugs. I did all that, just as I understood I was supposed to do. My classes were at the same hospital. But, the hospital did not obey any of my chosen birthing plan.

I did not like the prenatal visits with the man doctor. They used a cold, hard, metal thing to look in my vagina. It was uncomfortable. It was embarrassing to have a man attendant.

I labored at home for about 24 hours.

I went to the hospital at about 9 PM. (The baby was born about 2AM.) They ushered me into a labor room. I asked for my husband to be with me. He was denied for an hour for no reason. They made me take my clothes off and put on a hospital gown, too short and open in the back. I felt humiliated, naked, embarrassed. I said I was cold. They said they were all out of blankets. I asked whether I could put on some of my clothes, then. They said, « No. » I asked to be warmed up more than once. They had no remedy.

They checked me internally, and said I was 8cm. I realize now that I did not need any drug help. They hooked up an IV and began Pitocin, which I did not understand.

I was left alone. The LaMaze ideas of trying to distract myself by staring at a dot did not work. How can one ignore one’s body during Pitocin pain? The waves of pain rolled over me. I chanted, desperately, « I don’t want to. I don’t want to, » as I watched the clock and predicted the next contraction -all alone.

I threw up. A nurse was there to help me for that with a bowl. The nurse did not stay long. I asked for someone to stay with me. They said, « No, » because they were under-staffed.

I tried to do the breathing that was taught at the prenatal classes. I hyperventilated. A nurse told me I was doing it wrong. She put an oxygen mask on me, when I think a paper bag is what is called for.

The baby’s head was showing. I was 10 cm. It was in that condition that I was asked to move myself to another bed, so that I could go into a different room. I was not told why, but simply told what to do. I was afraid that this moving would harm the baby. It was hard to move.

We entered a room with an Arabic doctor. He never looked at me in my eye, nor talked to me. That scared me. I spoke to him, and asked quick questions, with no reply. I asked, « What are you doing now? » All of my prenatal choices were ignored.

I was given an epidural, an episiotomy, which caused a tear. Then the baby was laid crying on a counter nearby. I asked, quietly, guiltily, crying, « May I touch the baby? » I thought I was probably asking for too much. It was like they were there to be served.

They said nothing to me but proceeded to weigh the flailing, crying baby laying on his back, and did a circumcision right then. I would have wanted that done on the 8th day, but was not asked. What if I did not want that at all? They put drops in his eyes. There was absolutely no possibility of disease, so drops were unnecessary.

I spoke once in awhile, stuck, laying on my back, « What are you doing now? » No one answered me. I wondered if my voice had any volume. Couldn’t anyone hear me? Why didn’t they talk? I asked,  « How many stitches are you giving me? How long will this be? » No reply. I was a nobody.

I did not get rooming in. They fed him sugar water. He was not hungry when they brought him around for nursing. I prodded him to nurse and tried for long periods, if they did not take him away . My breasts got big and painful on the second day. I asked to have the baby, they said. « No. » They needed to watch him, keep him on a schedule, to poke his heal, to give him shots, to put lights on him. All of these things I did not approve of.

What good were the hospital’s birthing classes?

A nurse told me that my breasts were not enlarged, could not have milk the second day, and physically forced a spray shot of something up my nose. I asked what that was for. She said it was to lessen my milk supply. I said that I wanted the milk for the baby. Did she believe I had milk or not?

They said the baby had jaundice at the end of the second day. I snuck in some vitamin E after visiting hours. I gave some to the baby when they brought him to me. The next day they came to me and were puzzled. They said the baby had a miraculous healing overnight and no longer had jaundice. But, we could not go home because they wanted to wait and take another jaundice test. We were not allowed to go home until the fourth day.

They allowed a private person to lay the baby on his back, use a strong flash, and take his picture without asking. Everyone was so violent with the baby. Every hospital worker  loved his own procedures more than my wishes. Then, I was required to pay for the baby picture.

Just before I left the hospital, a doctor came in. He said my body lost too much blood and my body was to blame. I only have ever heard that from my two hospital births, never from home birth attendants. I told him that the Vit E cured the jaundice and he disagreed. He was defensive. He had no faith in vitamins, and said it did not help. He said that I could not know. Why couldn’t he just listen to my idea? Why are doctors so arrogant, so sure that they are the only know-it-alls in the room? He was almost offended that I had an opinion.

The pain from the Pitocin was so bad that I could not talk about having another baby, could not even think about it for six months. And I did want more. Nothing is so all-consuming painful. And I now know that Pitocin is harmful and unnecessary.

The baby was born on Sunday, early. We left the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, finally.
The episiotomy cut tore. There had been a lot of stitches. There was an end of stitching string left hanging off. I did not know that was the reason that it hurt so much to walk.

I had to work very hard to learn how to nurse. I had a good book, « Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, » by Sheila Kippley, for which I am most grateful. I was progressing.

I asked my husband to look and see why it hurt me to walk. He described the end of the stitches string hanging out. I asked if he would carefully cut it shorter. But, first would he please boil the instrument for 10 minutes? He said, « No, it will be OK ». He would not clean it, but he would cut the stiff thread. That did the trick. I could walk without that scratching pain.

On Friday, suddenly, I was in a lot of pain, so bad that I didn’t care about anything. We gave the baby to a neighbor, stranger, who was a doctor student. And I spent 3 days in the hospital. Since it was over a weekend, no doctor was available. I asked if the baby could room in for nursing. They said no. My poor husband had to work a labor job, long hours, six days a week, and shuffle the baby around to 3 babysitters. One older lady said the baby cried for 30 minutes because she did not know that the formula bottle had a seal that should be broken.

The hospital tried to do a procedure to me to make my milk dry up. They tied a strong towel around my breasts. I argued, « But I want to nurse! » Again, they were forcing procedures on me. I took it off. They finally taught me to pump my milk out to keep up my supply.

A nurse came in and gave me some medicine, then took some medicine over to the other bed and called my roommate by my name. I complained that I had gotten my roommate’s medicine. I wanted the doctor called. They were reluctant. They blamed it on being under-staffed.

If they gave me the wrong medicine, why couldn’t I just go home and nurse my baby? Because patients are captives, not allowed to leave.

They let my IV go dry. The flow reversed and I saw blood flowing back up the IV tube. Again, they said it was the under-staffing problem. So, I set myself to guarding the flow of my own IV. I slowed down the drip. I wouldn’t go to sleep. I checked every medicine that they gave me. I pumped milk. They came to take blood and failed repeatedly to make it work. I was stabbed too many times. I was vigilant to ask for the head nurse each time. She could always find my vein.

Finally, they did a good thing! They sent in a loving, gentle, kind nurse’s aide. She convinced me to relax. She convinced me that the nurses were competent. I slept.

It took me a whole week after I went home to get balanced about the nursing interruption. The baby was two weeks old then and lucky that he was being nursed, in spite of everything.

Years later it occurred to me that I almost died from that infection because my husband worked at a slaughter house and he wouldn’t clean the fingernail clippers. It was a germ called clostridium.

Sometimes women are all alone and powerless.

Benji’s birth cost under $10. I did not like the attendants.

2. Andy, 1977a miscarriage, 22 weeks.
I had spotting at 19 weeks. A doctor from my same hospital said it was placenta privia. And he advised complete bed rest. I had an 18-mo-old to watch, and my husband worked 6 days a week. I did not trust that hospital/doctor group because of my past experience.

I went shopping for an alternative doctor. I knew that there must be a better way to have a baby. I found a quack doctor, who said that I should be up and around, that if I lost the baby, it would be OK. I could always have more. If I lost the baby, could I please give him the dead fetus to put in a jar? He had a collection of dead fetuses on a counter.

I thought he was going to help my baby live. He gave me what he said was a shot of Vitamin K. Immediately I started to have a pain all around my middle.

My husband did not help me worry about my condition. I think, if a husband would go to the doctor visits with his wife, he would recognize a quack.

I should have stayed home. But we went out to see a basketball team walk through the airport. I was left in the back of the crowd with the 18-mo-old. Benji got scared of the crowd of fans. I picked him up, which I had been avoiding. I felt something pop in my tummy.

The next day we went to the hospital. They said the baby had died. I asked to be able to birth the baby naturally. They said, « No. » They put me to sleep. When I woke up, I said, « May I see the baby? » They said, « No. It’s already in the garbage can. » I said, « Let me see it. » They said it was all cut up in pieces and I would not like to see it. They were chatting with each other cheerfully, when I thought it was a somber occasion. I have always felt like they performed an abortion on me. I mean, they were insensitive. I have ever since then wanted to put a tombstone with Andy’s name in the hospital yard, « This is where they threw my baby in the garbage can. » Years later I put a paper which said, « Andy » in a jewelry box and we buried that in our back yard.

I had talked 2 of my friends into using this same alternative doctor. One of their babies miscarried. One was born without enough oxygen and lived a short, painful life, which caused the couple to divorce. The alternative quack doctor disappeared. Even his name was suspicious, Dr Boggess.

Andy’s hospital miscarriage cost us under $5, because of insurance. I did not like the attendants. I wanted what was best, not what was cheapest.

3. Jennifer – 1978
I wanted a natural, respectful birth. I imagined that a home-birth midwife was possible to find. I invented the thought in my mind. But, I was afraid to not use a regular doctor. So, I did both.

I requested all of the natural things from the regular doctor. He told me, « Yes, » to all my natural wishes, but always added, « if everything goes well. » I began asking more and more questions, « What might not go well? » He said, « Well, for example, if the baby gets cold, then you cannot have rooming in. We would need to take the baby away to warm it up. » I went to the hospital and noticed a wall thermometer in the delivery room that was 50 degrees. I asked, « Why so cold? » Their answer was, « To keep the doctor awake . » And I asked, « How often do you have to take the baby away to warm it up? » They said, « Quite often, actually. »

I figured out quickly that the hospital would take away my power with their procedures instead of doing what was good for the baby.

I sat on my couch with the phone and began a long, determined look for a midwife who would help me birth at home. Was there such a thing? It took me days of calling, calling, asking questions, until I finally found her.

Again books came to the rescue. « The Home Birth Book » by Charlotte Ward, and « Birth Without Violence » by Frederick Laboyer. They were very helpful.

And I got a birthing book by Dr Robert Bradley. It was not helpful.

I found a hippy-type midwife who lived up the mountain. She helped me have prenatals and to have the baby at home.

I’m a Christian and I did not appreciate her religious symbols at her living room/waiting room. But she was my only choice. I was lucky to find her, only one hour from my home. I am grateful for her.

That was in a state where home births were not accepted.  It was my understanding that we were engaged in an illegal, criminal activity. Midwives could be prosecuted. My idea was religious in that midwives are mentioned in the Bible, so it was my inalienable right to have a baby at home with a midwife.

I do wish that there could have been more freedoms, so that more people would choose to be home birth midwives, so that I could have shopped and chosen one that I liked better. But there was only one to be found.

The midwife gave me a nice list of things to buy, and detailed instructions of how to clean the room and how to sterilize the clothes and bedding. I really liked this. My future midwives did the same.

I traveled an hour to her house for prenatals. I also went to the regular doctor for prenatals. I liked the midwife’s visits better because she gave me more time, answered my questions patiently. The doctor’s answers were never satisfactory.

I asked the midwife to teach me to eat better, but she was reluctant for some reason.

When I was ready, the lady midwife and her man came and brought oxygen tanks and equipment. They said they knew how to help women, so had never needed to use their equipment. Every home birth I had after that was thus equipped. They were at my house all night while I labored, and seemed quite competent and knowledgeable. She and my husband made the lights low, talked quietly.

My first child, a 3 yr old, was able to sleep in his own bed, and wake up to a new baby, without any disruption to his schedule. My husband was able to serve the midwife, move furniture, whatever was required, happily serve everyone, and be treated with respect. My husband felt as if he were really helping and managing the whole details of the day. A nurse friend got to come over. My husband’s brother got to be in the next room. Everyone was treated with dignity.

They let me labor on my knees, next to the bed, and they humbly kneeled next to me to help me. Such an attitude of service was so much better than my hospital stays with my first baby and my first miscarriage.

The last couple of hours was distressful enough that I was afraid of the pain. I kept my knees together and wished it would stop and happen another day.  But, it was way better than having Pitocin. I did not know how to cooperate with my body.

My daughter was born with a low apgar score. It was then that the midwife swore out loud, which I wished that she had not done.  The baby was blue, not moving, and not breathing. The midwife competently, gently ran her finger up the baby’s back and the man tickled the baby’s feet. The baby arched her back, objected, cried out, and pinked up. It was all so gentle.

I had no tearing because the midwife was attentive to her part. Midwives know what, how, when, and where to touch to prevent tearing. Hospital doctors apparently only watch and then cut.

Midwives serve the mother and baby and family.  In a hospital setting, I was there to serve the doctor.

I thought the midwife did not charge enough. We paid $100. I thought she was worth more.

The baby weighed 5 pounds on a fish scale. The midwife seemed displeased with that number and with the looks of the placenta. I asked why. The midwife said, « Because you had a poor diet. » I said, « O my! That’s why I drove to your house for prenatals. You were supposed to teach me. What did I do wrong? »

I did my own study of my diet. I decided that what I did wrong was not eat enough and not use the salt shaker. I repented of that and never had a low-birth-weight baby again. The book that helped me was « What Every Pregnant Woman Should Know » by Brewer. There is now a web page, « »

I wish that my first midwife would have intruded on my diet habits. I wish that I had not believed in low calories and in low salt.

My husband read the Birth Without Violence book and gave the baby a nice, gentle, first bath right soon after the birth. The baby’s face was relaxed and happy.

When we went to the courthouse to register the birth, the midwife was not at home to take a phone call to advise us. Her man was afraid of the law and said that he thought we ought to keep their business a secret. So, we wrote that my husband was the birth attendant. It was a time to be afraid of the government when we walked up to the courthouse to register the birth! One should not be afraid of one’s own government.

The next day the lady midwife said she was sorry that her name wasn’t on the birth-certificate request, because she wanted to help the cause of midwifery. Each recorded home birth is a good thing.

I’m very grateful for that brave midwife, who stood alone in a scary state to be of service to me.

Ten days later, I took my daughter to the regular doctor, because I was afraid that this was required. They made her cry for a full half hour. I felt like a criminal, enabling this torture of such a little one. « Never again! » Was my commitment. The baby lost some if her happiness that day, and acted a bit differently. It was the wrong place to take her.  I did not protect her from violence.

Jennifer’s birth cost $100. I liked the midwife and her sidekick man.

I did not like the regular doctor. I don’t remember what he cost for his visits.

4. Lincoln – 1980We moved to a new state. There were at least 8 midwives to interview! The options were wonderful. I chose one who was competent, but was grumpy and tired. I changed quickly and chose one that was my midwife for the next 7 pregnancies.

I was treated with kind respect by this, MY midwife. She was well- read and had time and an answer for all of my questions.

I still was afraid of the government, so I went to the free regular-doctor visits. But the doctor had no time for me, and did not give me satisfactory answers to my questions. I wanted to be educated in the birthing process.

I did not want to use contraceptives any more. I had been pressured by a local Planned Parenthood to use spermicide. I never liked it. I did not need it. They did not treat me with respect nor seem to listen when I said that yes I did want children.

I am not Catholic, but I was treated with respect in a Natural Family Planning class. When I got pregnant with this third live birth, I called to apologize and I got the most pleasant comment I ever got before. « Barbara, It’s OK to have a baby. » It was respectful and cheerful and optimistic, and was actually what I wanted to hear from someone. It made me giggle and smile, and think, « Oh yeah. I knew that! »

I worried and prayed and begged for birthing knowledge. I wanted a pain-free, distress-free birth.  I tried to read the Bradley book again about a birthing method. The book was not helpful! It said we need to make the doctor comfortable! Therefore the mother has to labor flat on her back and a strong light has to be facing the baby’s head at birth. I yelled at the book!  I prayed and worried some more.

Then I found a book! « Special Delivery » by Rahima Baldwin.  It was a direct answer to prayer. This book worked to help my subsequent births be almost painless. After this knowledge, after a birth, I could say, « I could do this again right now! » I could have a birth without distress!

At the end of this pregnancy, I called my midwife and asked her to come. It is so nice when they are rushing to travel around instead of me doing that. I could stay put while others were driving. She came and observed some meconium staining. She said we had to go to the hospital, but that she would go with me.

I had two friends who were invited to observe the birth. They were allowed to come. I was allowed to labor on my knees. The doctor said he would go take a nap. Wake him up when the birth is imminent. I did not want the doctor. I told my midwife that I had confidence that she would do just fine with whatever was needed. Indeed, my home birth midwife managed my hospital birth.

My midwife was always concerned with liability. She held back because she was afraid I, or someone else, would sue her.  I overcame that problem by asking her, « What would you do if it were your baby? » After that question she always gave me honest answers.

I did not tell my midwife until the baby was almost coming out, because I wanted her and not the doctor.  She suctioned the baby’s mouth to keep the baby from breathing-in the meconium. She did everything perfectly. She made me have no tearing.

We did not wake up the doctor until after the baby was born. He came in and immediately acted bossy. He pushed on my tummy to try to make the placenta come out. We have a picture right then with my mouth open in objection! I had read that you leave it alone and let the placenta come out by itself. He did not know safe procedures. Then he sat down to tell me my body was bad and my body bled too much and now my bad body was anemic. Only in the two hospital births with the two men did I ever bleed too much. He was creepy. Later I learned that he was an abortionist, and only helped midwives because he was libertarian.  I wish that he would not have touched me.

The hospital nurses wanted to take the baby away to do their procedures. I said, « No. » They pressured me, got my husband on their side against me, and promised to not make the baby cry. I wanted a birth without violence. I could not walk without almost fainting. I asked my husband to go along and protect the baby. They took the baby away from me. They made him cry loudly for half an hour with no letup and I could not get up to protect my baby. Why poke, stick, pull, measure, in such a torturing way?

I liked the midwife and the assistant she brought. We bartered in payment. We made and gave the midwife a stained-glass window for Lincoln’s birth.

I did not like the doctor or the hospital. They never sent me a bill and I never reminded them.

5. Anna – 1982My midwife was wonderful. I was in good hands. I finally got my non-violent birth.

Again I also went to the regular doctor for pre natals. About halfway through the pregnancy I went to my last visit with the regular doctor. I thought it had been such a waste of time with no value. It was free to me, but offensive. I was scared every time I went. The regular doctors always talked down to me as if I had no brain. I quit. I was finally not straddling the fence any longer.

At the end of this pregnancy, I called my midwife to come. She saw signs of meconium staining. We both knew she could handle it and she did.

My midwife made the lights low, the music soft, spoke in whispers, let me labor on my knees, knelt next to me to serve me, did my first laundry. There was almost no blood, no anemia, and no tearing. I could walk without fainting. The baby was treated kindly, gently, and there was no crying, tortured baby. My husband was allowed to manage everything to his liking, choose the music. Our three other children were asleep in the next room. Everyone was treated with honor.

The midwife poked the baby’s heal, but did it with great wisdom and gentleness. The baby did not cry.

I made and gave the midwife a couple of quilts I think for Anna’s birth. I did not pay her enough that time. I liked the midwife and the assistant she brought.

6. Lucas, 1988
I managed it, myself, at home, alone, with midwife advice over the phone. I wish my husband had been more sympathetic. I was so glad that I did not use a hospital. They are so rude and arrogant. Only a little amount came out. We buried it with dignity in a jewelry case in the back yard with a silly little family ceremony. We gave the baby a name.  I wanted to teach the children that life is sacred and honorable. It made my husband embarrassed. He was afraid the neighbors would see us.

7. Robert – 1989My midwife again was wonderful.

She even found an alternative for me to the poking of the baby’s heals. We did urine tests after that. Thank You My Midwife!  I wanted to treat newborns with gentleness.

There was something that I did not like. I thought it was disrespectful to me. My midwife and my husband turned up the heat to 80 for some reason. I figured that if it were so uncomfortably hot for me, then it was bad for the baby. They would not listen to me to turn it down. It made me feel so powerless. I therefore stripped off all my clothes to help the baby. I hate to be naked, and in front of my midwife and my husband at the same time. I wish they would have turned down the heat at my request.

My baby was born with a rash on his face that took a month to go away.  Was it because of the heat? I don’t know.

My midwife knew her job well. She spoke sweetly and kindly. I was always glad she was there. Even though I tell you a complaint about something, I was still continually aware of my gratitude to her.

Our four other children were right there, sleeping in the next room. We woke them up early. My third oldest child, Lincoln, was 8. He got on my bed, had a hymnal, and made us all sing together (in 3 part harmony), « Now Thank We All Our God » all 4 verses. It was wonderful.

I think I paid $700 for my midwife and another good midwife that she brought along.

8. Abigail – 1990

My midwife came to my house, as she had always done, monthly, for my prenatals. She usually stayed an hour.

Three weeks before the due date my water broke. My midwife proceeded to instruct me that regular hospital procedure required that the baby was required to be born inside of 24 hours. I would not go to the hospital.

My midwife was very nervous and kept wanting me to go to a hospital because of fear of infection and fear of liability.

My husband got heavy into agreeing with my midwife. I felt all alone. I prayed and felt sure that my labor would start when the time was right. I did not believe in labor induction.

I got on the phone and searched and called and found some people who agreed that one could wait a week if certain things were OK.

My midwife came and explained that she attended meetings with other midwives who judged each others’ cases. This self-monitoring group is a really good thing that some midwives do!  Her friends were putting pressure on her to make me go to the hospital. I appealed, « I will not go to the hospital. But, I will do anything that they want me to do. »

With that in mind, the midwives met and decided in a list of minimum requirements for me. They wanted me to comply with that list. I was allowed to make a chart where I wrote down everything that happened about several things -hourly. Temp. My heart rate. Baby’s heart rate. Placenta heart rate. Water loss. Urine amount approx. Water intake. Etc.

I went to buy some herbs to help me. I called my midwife because I realized that I did not know which herbs to buy. My midwife was very knowledgeable and was able to instruct the herb lady what to sell me.

My baby was born in the fourth day after the water broke.

On the fourth day, the midwife came and announced that she hadn’t slept for worry for me. She begged me to call my doctor and go to the hospital. My husband got on the bandwagon to pressure me. I did not think it was right to induce this baby and to allow the hospital to hit me over the head with their hammers, or whatever they would choose to do. A nurse friend of mine called up and verbally lashed me for not being responsible and for not going to the hospital right then! I felt all alone in protecting this baby from intervention.

But, I was now powerless. My baby could be ruined by others. I called a doctor who was kind to midwives. He wanted me to have the baby at home! Hahaha. What a twist. He said I could not get such good care at the hospital, and he would not have been able to have such a good chart filled out under his hospital care. He just did not have enough staff.

So, my home-birth midwife wanted me to go to the hospital. And my hospital doctor wanted me to have the baby at home. Amazing!

Thankfully, my labor started and the baby was born at home in a couple hours after that, posterior, but not distressful, laying on my back on the bed, which was unusual for me. Another non-violent birth. Good!

Then they turned on the basketball game and quit paying attention to me.  And I joked, « What do I have to do to get attention around here? »

I think I paid $900 for my midwife and another good midwife that came to the birth.

9. Kevin – 1992There were four things about this pregnancy that I did not like. Other than that, it was a really gentle birth.

I was really, really tired in about the middle of this pregnancy. Something was wrong. I was sent to get a blood test. « It could be leukemia, » my midwife said. « I would like you to look in your books and find a possibility that is easier to fix. And give me how many days to try to work on that. » She helpfully read me a list of possibilities for that type of blood-test result. I chose « a possible deficiency in Vit B (something) and folic acid ». She gave me three weeks. After that time, I got a good blood test result back! The lab said it must be in error because no one gets well that fast. I felt deflated, not believed, not respected. I said, « Wait a minute! I feel better! I’m not tired! It did work! »

I did not like the birthing stool. I wish I had not been pressured to use it. I believe it hurt my insides in some way. I should have been encouraged to take the position that felt best for me.

My Midwife told my husband to observe the baby’s breathing. So he watched him all night. I wanted to hold the baby to get the bonding. I think the midwife should have included me in that discussion. I did not like being left out of Kevin’s first night. It is my understanding that a newborn baby needs his mother.

We found a doctor who would do a circumcision on the 8th day. He did not do it just right, which caused the baby a few days of pain. We were shy of going back to the doctor to complain because we had had so much trouble with doctors in the past. Finally, we did go back. We were treated with respect, speed, accuracy, apology, for a quick remedy. I must say we were surprised. We shouldn’t have waited so long.

I paid $900 for my gentle, competent midwife and for another good midwife who also came.

Miscarriage, 1994My midwife’s assistant, another midwife in the area, helped us with competence, intelligence, and kindness. I needed to stop bleeding, and she helped me to find a prescription for it from a doctor who helped midwives. I only needed one of the pills to stop the bleeding. She bought the rest from me. I thought it was all decent and honorable. Midwives should be allowed to carry a couple of emergency medicines.

The problem I had with that pregnancy/miscarriage happened when my husband decided that I needed a regular doctor. I did not know one good reason to do that. But he made us park in a hospital emergency parking lot for a few hours, just in case. It was uncomfortable, and a waste of time. Why do hospital doctors have so much unnecessary power to scare us like this? Why don’t they be more available so we can just ask them simple questions like when I call a home-birth midwife?  If I had gone in, they could decide how long I would have to stay in there and what they would do to me. I would have been a captive.

I enjoyed the care that the midwife gave me in my house.

I felt humiliated cowering in the hospital parking lot.

I liked this midwife. I paid about $100 for this.

===Thank you for listening to my birthing stories, with emphasis on whether I was treated with respect.

I wish the midwives could get more respect and a little more pay. I wish that they would only be overseen by other midwives.

-Sincerely, Barbara

#42 Kathi – USA

2 Fév

Ten years ago I had a hospital birth.  My birth, as institutional births go, wasn’t terribly dramatic.  Outside of IV antibiotics for Group B Strep, I had an unmedicated birth.

But it wasn’t a spiritual birth.  It wasn’t a respectful birth.  And it certainly wasn’t an empowering birth.

I arrived at the hospital in transition after only an hour in labor.  Things were moving fast and I was not even able to undress and get into their gown.  No one argued.  In triage, several interns attempted to run an IV line without success.  Finally, the line was set and the antibiotics were administered.  I was moved quickly to a LDR room.

Once there, labor kicked into ridiculous overdrive.  I threw up the pasta and vegetables consumed at my brother’s rehearsal dinner hours before all over the floor –  (yes, he was to be married in about 12 hours, and yes, I would be absent).  Somehow, I was assigned the nurse with a chip on her shoulder – this woman hated natural birth.  She stood there, awkwardly looking at the vomit on the floor beneath her feet, and my then-husband rushed over and offered to clean it up.  Oddly, she did not stop him.

Meanwhile, I assumed a side lying position and closed my eyes and gripped the bedrail through each tumultuous wave.  Between waves, I braced myself for the looming tide.  It felt like an eternity, but really it lasted probably less than a half an hour.

As soon as I had the urge to push, I was instructed to sit in the common hospital semi-reclined position.  This, I was told, was what works best.  I was surprised by the yelling that ensued as soon as I began pushing.  Loud chants from the doctor and the nurse to Push, push harder!!  You can push longer than that!  Make the most of your pushes!  Come on!!” I then was instructed not only to push beyond what I thought I could do, but also to push to a count of 10.

Have you ever tried to hold your breath and exert yourself for ten seconds repeatedly?  It is ridiculous – it is painful and exhausting.  While I was pushing, the nurse strapped the fetal monitor to my abdomen, even though I had requested intermittent monitoring.  I noticed, but was too tired to care.  I was actually drifting to sleep between each contraction.

I felt like a lazy failure.

Because of the over-exertion during pushing, a couple of things happened.  The more benign thing is that the blood vessels around both eyes burst.  When I looked at myself in the mirror hours later, I exclaimed, “What happened to my face?!”  The nurse assured me this was totally normal and that it happened to most women.  The less benign thing is that my son’s heart tones began to decel after each pushing contraction.  Rather than change the dynamics of pushing to advocate for physiological pushing, I was instead administered oxygen between every contraction and told that I needed to breathe very deeply for my baby.

As my son’s head began to crown, my  doctor told me that I was going to “…tear into [my] labia.”  (Isn’t that where most tears would happen?  Not sure at all what the big deal was, and I was certainly far less sure in that moment.)  For 4 pushing contractions, the doctor grabbed her needle filled with lidocaine and proceeded toward me to do the episiotomy.  Each time I told her no.  She finally set the needle down and said angrily, “Fine.  But you’re going to feel it.”  SNIP.

Fortunately, I did not feel it.  Not physically.  Not then.  My son was born moments later and I was enraptured with him.  He was beautiful and wonderful and my hormones coursed with protective and immeasurable love for him.

When it was time to get up to move to the Postpartum room, I sat up, then stood gingerly (there was now quite a jagged railroad track running between my legs).  As I stood, the nurse exclaimed, “You’re walking like you had an epidural.”  I can still feel that place between my gut and my heart where those words struck.  I sunk down into the wheelchair, defeated, as hot, silent tears fell.

Upon arrival to my new room, I was told that I needed to pee.  And time was ticking.  The pressure and threat of catheterization kept me from being able to, and I finally resorted to standing under a warm shower in salty tears as urine leaked down my legs.  The nurse waited just outside the curtain to quantify what was happening.

But none of this was the worst.  The worse things were to come, and they were a result of that positive GBS test and my precipitous labor and fewer courses of antibiotics than the staff was accustomed to.  My son was poked and prodded repeatedly in an effort to be sure that I did not inadvertently infect him during the birth.

Finally, they wanted to do a blood draw.  Not just a heel prick, but they would need to draw it from a vein.  All prior procedures had been done in our room.  We asked for them to do the draw in our room, which they refused.  We then said that his dad would need to be with him, to which they replied, no.  He could not come into the special nursery, but he could watch outside the large panes of glass during the procedure.  We said we were not comfortable with that.

I was holding my son, and the nurse left the room.  Moments later, her superior came in, literally grabbed my child out of my arms and exclaimed, “Babies die from Group B Strep every day!” and stormed out of the room.  His dad quickly followed.  I hiccuped in an attempt to catch my breath as my head spun, and I sobbed.

I remember after it all being afraid to tell people how the experience actually was.  Afraid that if I cast it in a negative light that they would say, “I told you that a natural birth isn’t all its cracked up to be.”  Afraid that I had done something wrong.  My next birth, needless to say, was a homebirth, but it wasn’t until I began feeling turmoil during my third pregnancy (and planned homebirth) that I began to unearth and explore my feelings of what had happened to me during my oldest son’s institutional birth.  I’ve held onto this pain for a long, long time.

I have also in my nine years of birth work been exposed to myriad abuses against women within the birthing system.  I’ve witnessed women say, “no” and squirm away while a care provider thrusts her hand deep and rough into her pelvis; I’ve witnessed women forced onto their backs to birth; I’ve witnessed women cut without her knowledge or consent; and the list goes on…..

Today, I stand with Agnes Gereb, Hungarian obstetrician and midwife being prosecuted for work she should be lauded for – assisting laboring women and helping them bring forth life.  She is being prosecuted because of the location she chooses to assist women – at home.

Today, I stand with midwives everywhere enduring similar prosecution.

Today, I stand with women everywhere who are fed up with systematic abuses.  Who are crying out that enough is enough.  That it is time to honor a woman’s choice over her body.  Every time.  Every place.

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