When you tell people that you are having your baby at home, they tend to look at you like you have three heads
Even though home birth was the only way babies were born for centuries, it has become taboo. However in recent years, home birth has seen a resurgence in current culture, as women opt to have their babies on their terms. There are SO many women who are not happy with previous in-hospital birthing experiences. Unfortunately, some of us still refuse to accept that we have options beyond giving birth to our babies in sterile, cold hospitals- and not in the comfort of our own home. We’ve allowed the procedural to take precedence over the personal.
My Home-Birth Story Will Make You See Birthing in an Amazing New Way
It Could All Be So Simple…
There is no way for me to explain to you why I am so passionate about women being aware of all their birthing options without sharing a bit of my own experience. I am a Mom of four beautiful children. Both of my eldest babies were born “naturally” without incident. I also didn’t leave the hospital moved by my birthing experience. It just was what it was. Nothing special. I was just another woman who came to the hospital, had a baby, and was sent home with a few diapers and the back up formula bag.
Six years after having my eldest daughter, I became pregnant with my third child.
I was wiser and had more education regarding my options. I was DEAD SET ON having a midwife and a home birth. My bubble bursted quickly when I found out it was not legal for a midwife to attend a home birth in Kentucky. Off to the OB I went. Initially I felt excited to find a young, Black, Female OB. I felt like she would understand what my wishes were, respect them, and help me stick to my guns. I was wrong. When I saw her picture on my computer screen, I saw my sister in a cape.
I thought she would serve as an advocate for me, but it turned out that she was just another doctor. I, of course, ended up on bed rest. After spending months on the couch and only going out to attend the millions of doctors appointments, I was spent. I felt OVER pregnancy and I missed my own Mom. By the time U had my next appointment, I went in to the office in a mood.
Upon being asked by my OB how I felt, I confessed: I was tired of being pregnant. I wanted my body back. Soon after, I was scheduled for an induction the following Monday. The decision to allow an induction came when I was in a highly emotional state. She never stopped to talk me down or reassure me that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be holding my baby. None of that. So, without any good medical reason to do so, my former White Coat Crusader was going to induce my labor.
This wasn’t MY plan.
On the morning of induction, I felt ambushed with misguided “care”. It was akin to reaching out to a friend for emotional support, only to have them comfort me with cocaine. Her “help” was hurting me. Even before I got to the hospital I felt confusion, regret and betrayal. I remember telling my husband that I hoped I was dilated to 5 centimeters and that my contractions would pick up. I wish that I had the courage then to just not show up. But it was too late to turn back.
After being checked in, my doctor came up to check my cervix. My cervix had dilated to 5 centimeters and I was 50% effaced (cervix shortens, softens, and thins). I had a fleeting moment of excitement. Then I heard her say, “I’m going to break your water now.” Immediately following the breaking of my water, warm amniotic fluid soiled the sheets. I was devastated. I asked her why she broke my water if I was already dilated to 5. Her exact words were “I don’t play. I get it rolling.” What, Sway?? I was livid. When her desire to get rolling came in, the rest of my options went out.
An hour later nurses started me on Pitiocin.
Pitocin is an artificial version of Oxytocin, the hormone that causes a woman’s uterus to contract during labor. Not asked; just started. When I questioned it, the nurses dismissed my concerns saying that Doc thought it was best because my contractions weren’t “strong enough”.
The medication continued getting increased. I requested that it not be turned up any more because of how strong and close my contractions were coming. My nurse kept saying that my doctor thought it was best. She blatantly disregarded what I, the patient, was asking her to do. My uterus became so irritable that I couldn’t move without having another contraction. On my last trip to the bathroom, it took about 10 minutes to get to the toilet because they just wouldn’t stop coming.
Sit up. Contraction. Swing legs over the bed. Contraction. Stood up. Contraction. Take two steps. Contraction.
This is not a dramatization of my experiences. I wish that I didn’t remember so vividly.
Finally, it was time to push. Exhausted, I remember my OB yelling for me to push with each contraction. But I couldn’t keep up. They were coming like a flood. I stopped to breathe and her head popped up to look at me. She yelled, “PUSH!” I yelled back, “I NEED TO BREATHE!!’ When my daughter was finally born, we shared a blissful hour of skin to skin contact and breastfeeding.
And then more madness.
Have you ever wondered what postpartum hemorrhage looks like?
I handed my daughter over for my Mother-in-Love and other family to see while I got up to go to the restroom.
When I sat on the toilet, I felt a huge clot slip out. I mentioned it to my nurse and before I could turn to look, she flushed the toilet. She may not have been trying to hide anything, but that didn’t sit right with me. I got cleaned up and noticed that I seemed to still be having contractions. I was still in so much pain.
On my transport to the postpartum floor, I began to shiver. And the pain became worse. Because I could feel the blood and the clots between my legs, I requested that the nurses check while they were transferring my care one to another. They did and changed my pad. 15 or so minutes passed and my pad needed to be changed again. Again, I called the nurses in, and again the same routine. Still I shivered and I remained in a lot of pain. I don’t remember asking for pain meds.
The amount of blood concerned me
At some point, my daughter’s Godparents came into the room. I expressed my concern about the blood to my husband and how many times my pad needed to be changed. There was a comment made, “You just had a baby. You’re supposed to bleed a lot.” I dismissed this comment while my mother-in-love was telling me to calm down and try to sleep. I appeared anxious to her. Afraid, I knew I needed a moment to think. So I called my husband closer and asked him to ask everyone to leave. Once they were gone I tried to feel for the top of my uterus and realized it was displaced. It dawned on me that a few hours had now passed and I hadn’t emptied my bladder.
By this time, my peri pad had been changed four times. Once again, we summoned the nurses for restroom help, and to request meds to stop the contractions and slow the bleeding. I was in so much pain by this point that I lost my stomach into an emesis basin. My nurse didn’t hesitate to get an order for the meds that I requested and she administered the suppository as soon as I was back in bed. After a uterine massage, a pad change, and some time for the medication to work, I was feeling better and my bleeding was normal.
This experience was such an ordeal. My daughter was perfectly healthy and I am eternally grateful for that.
The horror of what actually happened didn’t dawn on me until weeks later. I took inventory and I realized that if not for my medical training and knowing what signs to look for, I probably would have taken the advice of those around me. I would have changed my pad, requested meds for pain, and settled into sleep. Had I done that, I would have bled out in my sleep. I was so furious and traumatized that I didn’t even go back to my six week check up. I have only shared all the details of my experience a few times. It still chokes me up. I had to walk away from sharing this today as not to break down in tears. My daughter is three years old now.
I don’t believe any woman should walk away from a birthing experience feeling this way.
Sadly, what happened to me happens to women all over this country and around the world; every single day. My goal is to help women be confident and knowledgeable about the options available to them.
In the second part of this post, I will share my experience with home birth and answer some of the questions I have received about what to consider when thinking about home birth as a birthing option.
Have you had a birth experience that you were unhappy with or do you know someone that has? I’ve found that exploring my feelings about my experience and sharing with others to be empowering. It is high time that we as women say what is best for us! We do not have to await the medical community or government to make sweeping changes for us. The unity amongst women is not to be underestimated.
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