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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

Nicole – Georgia, United States

2 Fév

Both of my births were wonderful! I chose the tests throughout the pregnancy, I chose to go to 42 weeks without pressure, I chose how to birth ( one in water, one out) I chose when to cut the cord. Both of my births weren’t perfect ( one was 9 pounds and stuck, one had cord around neck and shoulders stuck) but I was still able to birth naturally, and both babes scored high on Apgar test. I had two beautiful births. Thanks to my midwives, and the choice of homebirth. My family was present, my husband was right by my side, and I felt safe and supported through the entire journey. I feel I was one of the few lucky women today whom birthed with freedom, thanks to midwives.


Self Directed Birth of Zena Joy – Wisconsin, USA

29 Jan
The Self Directed Birth of Zena Joy
Photographs by Janeace Leeder Radtke
* This birth story contains graphic descriptions and photographs of childbirth including female anatomy and plenty of blood. Consider yourself warned.
I’d been having prodromal labor.  Jason had stayed home from work Monday and Tuesday (June 11th and 12th) and the kids stayed overnight with family because I was sure things would pick up any minute, but a whole week passed.  Each day I could feel my body inching just a little bit closer to birthing.  My mind remained mostly in the labor head space, keeping me aware that the process never really stopped.  Zoning out naked in my room or in the bathtub, I didn’t feel an urgency to rush things.  I felt like the baby just needed to get into the right position — and i figured I was much better off if she could do so while I was comfortable rather than during hours of intense, painful contractions.  Mentally, I was deep into labor (a good 5-6cm) but physically, I was pretty comfortable and only about 2cm dilated.  I was sleeping better than I had through the entire pregnancy.  I could have gone on for weeks enjoying the hormone buzz, but when I was inevitably pulled back into the physical world with things like laundry, spilled juice or helping my youngest use the bathroom — and especially when I was asked a question that required a thoughtful answer, I found it difficult to transition.
Despite all the anxiety I had been working through in regards to birthing in the hospital for the first time, I felt very at peace. I wasn’t concerned about the hospital anymore and I wasn’t afraid that labor would go so fast I’d end up birthing in the car, either. I felt like I’d done all the right prep-work, things were starting and would continue to go smoothly. I was ready to birth whenever baby was ready.  I kept feeling like she just needed to click into place… something was just a little off.  I saw my chiropractor several times.  I spent a lot of time on hands and knees, with my butt in the air, sitting on the yoga ball rotating my hips and doing a variety of gyrating dance-like maneuvers that my husband found quite amusing.
The baby was very active.  I could feel her back along my left side at times, then later along my right side. Most of all, when I prodded my belly, I felt legs and arms; she seemed to prefer the posterior position.
With some of the more intense contractions, I felt the urge to bear down, as if I could push her into the right place.  In the bath, I’d check my cervix and each day I’d find a little progress (and a lot of bloody mucus.)  When the internal OS was within my reach, I felt strangely inclined to manipulate it and eventually ended up doing a stretch & sweep on myself.  I wouldn’t have felt right doing it in an attempt speed things up, and I had to question my own motives because it was pretty exciting to be able to feel the amniotic sac and baby’s head within my reach. But physically, it felt amazing — relieving.  My urge wasn’t coming from a desire to rush the process. It just felt right.
On the evening of Monday, June 18 the contractions started to pick up again. I waited til they were consistent, and then waited some more to be sure they weren’t going to slow down again. From about 9pm I was pretty certain it was really  active labor, but I was concerned that the transition to the hospital would slow things down so I did some sharing on Facebook to pass the time and also to see if talking about and analyzing my labor pattern would effect it’s rhythm.  By about 10pm I was ready to pack up the computer and called my parents to tell them we’d be heading out soon (they were going to watch the boys.)  Jason II was spending the night at Nana and Papa’s and Kyle was having a sleepover at the neighbors house, so we only had to bring Logan over.
I was wearing a dress without underwear and sitting on a towel in the car because I felt a lot more comfortable that way, not worrying if I was leaking mucus or pee.  I’d been drinking an enormous bottle of Powerade and even though I peed before we left home, I had to go again at my parents house (less than 10 min away.)
When I called the hospital to let them know we were coming, I was a little disappointed to find that neither of my two favorite midwives were on call.  The midwife on the phone asked me a couple times if I felt like I needed to come in and how far away I lived and I got the feeling that she thought I might not really be in active labor yet.  It was difficult to answer the simple questions she was asking… How far apart were my contractions? I don’t know. 3-5 minutes? was that right? They seemed to be spaced farther apart than that, but I’d had several since leaving the house. How long had we been in the car? I couldn’t do the math.  I was relieved to get off the phone just before another contraction.
I started watching the clock, still a little concerned that we’d have to turn around and go back home, even though the intensity of the contractions was getting undeniable.  I still thought she might stay posterior or have a hand by her face or something and the labor might be a long one.  At one point I worried that maybe the cord was around her neck enough to keep her from descending… What if she didn’t click into place at all and I needed a C-section even after all of this?
The ride to the hospital in labor was not as bad as I’d imagined. I didn’t feel every little bump.  Actually, in my labor-high, staring dazed out the car windows into the night, I was reminded of riding around with friends after taking Ecstasy as a teenager.
On the drive, I felt baby shift so there was suddenly a lot more pressure on my bladder.  I wasn’t sure if she’d turned, or just dropped lower, but it seemed she’d finally clicked  into place.
When we arrived at the hospital, I had to pee so bad that I ended up lifting my dress and squatting behind the car door in the parking ramp. I wondered if there was video surveillance, but didn’t really care.  I was no longer concerned about the hospital inhibiting me.  I could have walked through the lobby completely naked without caring.
Our doula, Janeace met us at the entrance.  I’d asked her to photograph everything and she started right away!
Here we’re walking into the hospital at 11:28pm
In Triage, I sat for a while on the monitors. Initially, I declined having a vaginal exam. I knew I was about 3cm dilated and was confident labor would continue to progress.  I had no doubts about my ability to dilate and knew it would happen quickly soon. My only concern was about baby’s position and how hard it might be to push her out.
The midwife seemed uncomfortable going without the information a vaginal exam would provide. I thought maybe she was still unsure if I was in active labor, but in retrospect, I think it was all about documentation.  She palpated my stomach and then asked about doing a quick ultrasound…
I could tell she was trying really hard to respect my wishes and get the information she felt she needed. I didn’t know if she felt it was necessary information, or just something she was expected to chart, but given how much I’d been messing with my cervix myself, it really didn’t seem like a big deal to allow her a quick feel. I decided it was preferable to an ultrasound, and told her if it would make things easier, she could do a quick exam.
 June 19, 2012 12:04am
She was grateful and waited when I needed to sit up through a contraction.  After the vaginal exam was finished, we packed up and were lead to a delivery room.  I was asked if I planned for a waterbirth and I explained that I had, initially, but that I didn’t feel comfortable in those rooms after seeing them on the tour, so I’d like to just go to one of the regular rooms. No one reminded me that waterbirths aren’t « allowed » in those rooms, or asked if I was still planning to labor in the tub. I was grateful for that, because I didn’t want to lie, but I knew the truth (that I’d probably birth in the bathtub) would put them in an uncomfortable position since it was against hospital policy.
We got settled in the room and I sat on the bed through a few contractions. Jason hadn’t been sleeping well (I think all of my hormones were effecting him, too) so he found some coffee and food to help with his energy.  The midwife and nurse looked over my birthplan and clarified that we just wanted to be left alone for the most part, that I was okay with intermittent monitoring of the baby every half hour via doppler, and that we’d call them if we needed anything else.
I unpacked the blankets and towel I’d brought to make it feel more like home before setting up camp in the bathroom.
The nurse checked baby’s heart rate.  We told her about our previous births and told her how to find two of them on youtube.  Then she left us alone.
 The contractions were intense, but short.  It’s funny how my sense of time was so altered yet I was still aware that the contractions were significantly shorter than ones of the same intensity I’d had 3, 7 and 9 years ago. Each time one let up I felt like « wow. Already? »
Jason got the video camera going and I tried to tell him he could set it up somewhere, but it seemed like he felt better with something continuous to do, so I left him to it.  We had some issues with the camera battery resulting in the actual moment of birth not getting filmed.  I’m still upset about that, but after I’ve processed my disappointment and I’m more thankful for the footage we do have, I’ll put together some of it to share on Youtube.
 Janeace got a bowl of ice water to keep the washcloths in and Jason made sure I always had fresh cold one.  He had really good timing laying them across my neck and back.
I brought some flavored honey sticks, which tasted awesome (I think I’ll be stocking up my doula bag with those next time I have a birth to attend!) I held off the nausea for a little bit, but I didn’t get through labor without throwing up… I guess that would have been expecting a lot after morning sickness had lasted right up to 39weeks!
I think Janeace could tell I was getting close to pushing. She asked  if we wanted to call in the midwife at any certain point. I figured they’d hear my birthing groans and come in when their experienced ears told them I was pushing.  I remembered births I’d attended, where everyone just seemed to swarm into the room right before the baby was born.  If they didn’t come in on their own, I told her, there was no need to call them right away unless there was a problem we needed help with.
I felt overwhelmed during contractions. I felt like bearing down, and resistance to bearing down.  I really wanted to shut off my brain because I kept wondering « should I push? should I hold back? » and my mind kept trying to compare the labor to my others (something I knew was a mistake.) I was moaning and panting and grunting and huffing all in the same contraction — pushing a little at the beginning then breathing through the rest.
It still felt good to manipulate my cervix. I remembered during my other labors how my curiosity had to overcome the fear of discomfort before I could check dilation because the self-examination would set off a painful contraction… But this time was so different. I felt a calm come over me as I gently stretched my cervix — even through a contraction.
 I was listening to my body, but my mind still wouldn’t shut up. Was it worth the added risk of infection from fiddling around in there? Was that too much blood? It didn’t look like too much, but with my other births I hardly bled at all til the placenta was born and since I was still looking for there to be a reason this one needed to be a hospital birth, I asked Janeace to call in the midwife for another opinion.
 The midwife and nurse came in.  They weren’t concerned about the blood.  The nurse told us she’d seen Jason II’s birth on youtube.  She checked on baby with the doppler again and they both quietly left.
In the weeks leading up to this, I’d been so eager to give up control. I had, mostly… but in the intensity of the pain my mind spun like a wheel in mud trying to gain traction but just splattering stuff all over. Should I push yet? How much longer could I hold back? Would it hurt more once I started pushing? I was still concerned that pushing her out would be difficult and take a long time.
It’s funny how I can look back over each of these moments and in retrospect they are all beautiful and amazing and empowering — even every bit of pain. But in those same moments — some of them, anyway — I was just consumed by the pain. I feared it. I wanted to crawl out of my body and run far away from it…
And then a contraction would end and everything was okay again. I didn’t fear the next contraction like I had in the peak of my other labors. Maybe it was because they still seemed unbelievably short.
The urge to push became undeniable and the wheels in my head stopped spinning. I pushed with my body and there was no space to wonder if it was right.
I was getting pretty loud and a few times I wondered if they could hear me out in the hall.  Though I was mostly unaware even of Jason and Janeace who remained beside me in the bathroom, something drew my attention to the doorway. I wasn’t thinking about it really, with all my energy turned within, but for a second I had an awareness that lead me to believe the midwife and nurse were waiting behind the bathroom door — they must have heard me and come in anticipating the birth.
My water broke, and I reached in to feel her head.  I could feel  her hair and I was thrilled because I knew she looked just how I’d dreamed.
 It was just a few minutes, but with my thoughts quiet and focused only on my body sensations, time seemed to move in slow motion.
I could feel her moving down. I had to support my butt with one hand. I hear a lot about « perineal support » but I think anal support would be a more accurate description. I really had to hold on to the whole hole!  Feeling like my butt was going to turn inside out was one of the most memorable sensations from when Logan was born, too.
I could feel her head crowning.  It seemed like I could feel every inch of her. I felt my vagina stretching to make room for her. I’d never noticed, what other women describe as « the ring of fire » with my other births. This time, it was undeniable.
I actually felt like I was going to rip open. I was sure I’d tear this time. (I didn’t)
Then I felt her shoulders turn and emerge.  A wave of relief washed over me as I lifted her from the water. She was here. My baby girl.  And I wasn’t pregnant anymore. All the challenges of the last nine months were behind me.
Time was still moving in slow motion for me. These photos were all taken in the same minute, but it seemed like a long time waiting for her to breath.  I never felt afraid that she wouldn’t take that first breath, even after all the things I’d worried about during the pregnancy, but I became aware that something was in the way…
I looked closer.  The cord was wrapped around her neck. It was buried beneath her folds of skin, so it isn’t visible even in the picture below where I’m discovering it. (Above you can see part of it between my arm and hers.)
Time sped up again.  I unwrapped the cord quickly, without thinking. I heard her gurgle and sensed the life rushing into her.
She cried a little, then sank into my arms.
 I felt like hundreds of pounds had been lifted off my shoulders.
It wasn’t until I was ready to get up, and Janeace offered to call in the midwife and nurse that I realized they weren’t watching quietly from behind the door.  In fact, she said the nurse looked quite surprised by the announcement that the baby had arrived. I still don’t know if they accidentally missed the birth because they expected us to call… Or they didn’t know to come because they didn’t hear me… I know that them knowing I was an experienced unassisted birther & the fact that not many people were working at the time were factors. I exchanged emails with the midwife a few days later and I think she understood me more than I’d initially given her credit for, but I wouldn’t come right out and ask if she intentionally missed the birth, because I respect the delicate position that would put her in.
Notice how the cord hasn’t gone limp yet…
We waited for the placenta.  No one tried to rush it, or mentioned Pitocin. I wasn’t touched except to take my blood pressure.
We tried out nursing and she had a good latch right away. She was gulping and squeeking from her very first nurse!
I was eager to get the placenta birthed, so I tried pushing.
The midwife looked and said she could see it « right there » so I pulled gently on the cord with the next push (something I wouldn’t have done with an unassisted birth)
The midwife stood back and watched, and looked over the placenta with me when it was out.  She asked if she could check me for tears — there weren’t any.
I saved the shoelace that had been used to tie Kyle’s (my first baby’s) cord and dad used it to tie Zena’s; then he cut it.
We did some snuggling before I handed her to her dad and he carried her across the room to be weighed.  We both guessed her weight was about 7lbs.
She was 6lbs 15oz.
We wanted to go straight home instead of to a recovery room.  Since the pediatrician wasn’t there at 4am, to sign Zena out, they called one down from the NICU.  She went over all their recommendations, including vaccines, eye goop, vitamin K shot and blood sugar test (because I didn’t have the glucose test during pregnancy.) and we had to sign a couple of waivers, but she wasn’t pushy and we were on our way home by 5:30am.
Zena Joy at home in our own bed.
My intuitive feeling that Zena’s birth needed to be in the hospital was not confirmed by any major complication.  But just like each of my childrens’ births, I know it couldn’t have been more perfect.  I can speculate about the reasons, but I don’t need proof of what could have been to know that following my instincts was the right call.
Special thanks to the UW Midwives and everyone at Meriter Hospital who helped us achieve an autonomous hospital birth, something that sadly, isn’t common.
Thanks to Janeace for providing your services as a doula, photographer and friend.
And thanks to you — members of my community, readers of my blog, Facebook friends, fans of Self-Directed Childbirth and Youtube subscribers — for your support and virtual companionship through the challenges of this pregnancy and the process of planning for Zena’s safe and joyful arrival!