Thank you all so much for all the comments and congratulations on new baby – your kind words mean a lot to us. A couple people requested the birth story, so here it is… (obviously I’m strongly in favor of home births and intervention-free births. If that’s not your cup of tea, please don’t be offended – this is just our story, and we’re so glad that it turned out the way it did)
The whole time I was pregnant, we’ve been seeing a wonderful midwife every few weeks for prenatal checkups. The visits were always fun – she would give me a foot massage for about 40 minutes while she talked to us about all the ins and outs of pregnancy and whatever stage we happened to be at. She would take my blood pressure, check my pee, listen to the baby’s heart, tell us that we were doing great, and send us on our way. She charges $3000 to deliver a baby, including all the prenatals and postnatals and the birth. (The backup midwife’s fee is included in that amount, so we didn’t have to pay anything extra to have the second midwife at our birth). Our health insurance doesn’t cover home birth midwives, so we paid the $3000 ourselves. Our midwife was always commenting on how easy we were as clients, and I remember thinking that we were spending a lot of money to have someone just be able to tell us that we were doing everything right and didn’t need to change a thing.
Well, our midwives sure did earn every penny of their fee during our birth. All of my close girlfriends have had babies in the last few years, and all but one ended up with c-sections. Based on their stories, and how closely my labor matched some of their experiences, there is no doubt in my mind that we would very likely have been headed for some serious medical intervention if we had been having our baby in a hospital. But because we had two highly skilled midwives here with us, our experience turned out just the way we hoped it would. With minimal intervention, a healthy mama, and an absolutely perfect baby. I was in labor for 45 hours, and the longest break I ever had between contractions was 18 minutes. That doesn’t leave much room for sleeping… We weren’t sure at first if it was real labor or false labor, because the contractions weren’t very regular. But they did get more and more intense and lasted longer and longer as the hours went by. We cleaned the garage to give me something else to focus on, but that only lasted a while on Sunday, because the pain was getting to be too intense to do much of anything else. I talked to our midwife several times, and told her I’d call her in the morning and let her know how we were doing. Neither of us slept on Sunday, because I had to get out of bed with every contraction – they were way too painful to handle if I was lying down – and they were pretty close together by then. We called our midwife in the morning, and she got here about 10 am. She checked me and I was at 7 cm and she could feel the baby’s head. We were all ecstatic – especially me, as I was so glad to know that all the pain of the previous 30 some hours had been getting us somewhere.
The backup midwife arrived a couple hours later, and we all thought that we’d have a baby by the afternoon. Then I got stuck at 9 cm, and stayed there for seven hours. Who knows why. I had fierce contractions every few minutes the whole time, but they weren’t doing anything. A friend who was in the exact same situation a couple years ago ended up with a c-section, and although I tried to push her birth story out of my mind, I couldn’t help but think how closely my labor was mirroring hers. Luckily we had midwives with us, instead of doctors. They hooked me to a breast pump to strengthen the contractions, and used an amniohook to break my waters. They helped me walk around, and put me in the bathtub. They told me how confident they were in my ability to birth my baby, and never wavered in their calm support. They checked the baby’s heart rate numerous times during the whole thing, and it was always so reassuring to us to hear it thumping loud and strong, never wavering. If he could do it, so could I. And of course my husband was with me every minute – I don’t know how I would have done it without him.
And so it was that our little boy was born in our bedroom, with just his parents and the midwives to welcome him into a wonderfully calm little world that we had made for him. I needed a few stitches afterwards, which the midwives did with the greatest of skill. The midwives were a perfect combination of birth knowledge and medical knowledge and knew when each was required. I know that sometimes, on rare occasions, medical intervention is required during a birth. But here in the US, it’s done at an alarming rate, far more often than in most of the rest of the world. I’m grateful that hospitals and doctors are there in the event of a serious medical emergency, but I’m ever so grateful that our midwives were there for us during the birth of our baby. Our midwife was here today to check on us, and she’ll be back five more times in the next eight weeks (it sure is nice to have your postpartum checkups without having to leave your bedroom!) I have to say – that was the best $3000 we’ve ever spent.