Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Exact Birth I Needed

Due to the fact that some people have been having difficulties opening up the large PDF file for the Birth Issues Magazine, I copied and pasted it directly into my blog. I haven't proofread to make sure it's all proper but I tried to put the paragraph breaks in the right spots. I also noticed that sometimes a double "ff" would turn into a symbol. I think I changed them all. Hope that you enjoy reading this!!

Setting the Scene:

I had a c-section with my first son in April 2008 in the Red
Deer Regional Hospital. I had a really great doctor with a
“low section rate” but still ended up with a pointless surgery.
After three hours of pushing the doctors decided that I
could push for twelve hours and not get anywhere so a
c-section was the only way this baby was going to come
out. I asked my doctor the reason for the surgery and he
hemmed and hawed for a few minutes before he made
up some excuse about my pelvis being too small. I never
actually had the urge to push and was not allowed to get o"
the bed or move into any position to move the baby down
into a position conducive to creating that urge.

I found out I was pregnant again the day of my son’s second
birthday. I knew that this time was going to be di"erent. I
contacted a midwife right away and decided that travelling
one and a half hours to Edmonton to give birth with a
midwife was better than having a traditional doctor again.
But every time I thought about the birth I knew I wanted a home
water birth. Midwives don’t travel to my house. The fact that the
government funds midwives is a mixed blessing because not
only is it extremely tough to find an available midwife, they have
to follow all the government regulations (which recommends
midwives to be within half an hour from a hospital with c-section
capabilities for vaginal births after a cesarean home births). In our
case, that meant registered midwives would never dare attend our
births and risk their careers.

After a lot of prayer and research, Adam and I decided that we
were going to have our baby at home anyway. An unassisted home
birth was not our first choice but we felt that it was the only way to
get the birth experience that we wanted. We searched my whole
pregnancy for another way (asking our current midwife to travel,
trying to get a more local midwife to travel, trying to visualize a
hotel birth, etc) but couldn’t find one. The only way we managed
to keep our midwife for the prenatal care was because we told her
we would keep the hotel birth option open. We trusted that the
Lord would lead us when the time came as to what option to take.
We also did a lot of research on the internet as well as reading
many books on pregnancy, birth and unassisted childbirth. I even
talked to a couple friends who had unassisted births themselves.


I had been ready to have the baby since about 36 weeks. I kept
thinking, “Maybe today is the day!” Alas, the day just never came.
My friend, who knew our plans and who we invited to the birth,came over with her kids on Wednesday December 22nd and we
decided that it was going to be a Christmas baby after all. It would
have been quite fun considering her oldest son is a Christmas baby
as well. That night I had a couple of interesting dreams and awoke
at about 3am to pee and noticed that what I though was a Braxton
Hicks contraction was pushing down on my full bladder causing
some pain. The same thing happened at 8:11am. I decided that
since I was up I might as well get some reading in.

As I sat on the couch reading my book I noticed that I was getting
contractions every five minutes. I still sort of thought they were
Braxton Hicks but they started to feel a little di"erent. My husband
Adam came in from morning chores after I had been up for about
twenty minutes and I told him, “I think today could be the day!” He
basically said, “That’s nice” and went to the o!ce. He wasn’t being
inconsiderate. He just truly didn’t think it would progress into
anything (it hadn’t the previous few times).
I told myself to wait until 9am to call my friend. It got really
difficult to wait and I picked up my phone to call her after every
single contraction. Finally 9am rolled around with only 10-12
contractions by this point but I called her anyway. She asked me
if I really thought this was it. I told her I thought so, and that I was,
“Kind of freaking out!” She said she’d be right over. While I waited,
I paced. I couldn’t sit still for the life of me.
Around 9:30am I started to call out for Adam to come help me
cope with the contractions. He was still on the computer and
said he’d come when he was finished. Again, he wasn’t being inconsiderate; he just truly didn’t know that I was actually in labour
at that point. I needed him to a) hold me through contractions,
b) make some breakfast and c) clean the toilet. He laughs at how
important it was to me for him to clean the toilet. “How does that
help your labour?” he asked. I told him, “It just does!” If I was going
to be labouring on the toilet, it better be clean.

Then Adam got a phone call from my dad who needed him to
help with something on the farm. I was extremely reluctant to let
him go as my contractions were less than 5 minutes apart. That’s
when my friend arrived! It was just before 10am and she came
equipped with mu!ns, quiche, a birthing book (on the Bradley
Method), and a book of verses and inspirational quotes that
several of my friends wrote in at my “Mother’s Blessing.”


At 10am I was forcing myself to eat some eggs and toast. Adam
headed out after breakfast and my friend ran the bath for me. My
main concern at that point was that I didn’t want to waste all the
hot water because we planned to fill the birthing pool later. She
assured me it would be fine. As I was in the tub she set my son
Caleb up with a movie. She sat with me while I laboured in the tub.
The contractions were starting to get intense now. I said at one
point, “That was really tough.” My friend replied, “You never have
to deal with that contraction again. It’s gone.” I kept thinking,
“Down and crown, down and crown.” I had been chanting this
motto for weeks. Maybe it’s because I knew talking to my baby
would help him move quickly and maybe because my first never
moved into the birth canal so I was preparing myself that this
time would be di"erent. I was so relieved when Adam came back
inside the house at about 11am. Apparently he walked in the front
door and asked our friend, “So, this is really it?” And she said this
definitely was it.

I had to pee at this point so I got out of the tub and laboured on
the toilet for a while. Somewhere in there Adam managed to
call the midwife. When Adam called our midwife she asked if we
were planning to come up to Edmonton. At this point I was nearly
pushing and he let her know that there was no way that we were
going to make it up. Our midwife said they would start the
drive down.

I got really nauseous and, right before I threw up a couple times,
I told Adam that I was scared. I was thinking, “Why do women do
this?” My friend and I both realized that this was that infamous
moment of self doubt that women get to when they are nearly
finished the labour marathon. I thought it was wishful thinking
considering I’d only really been labouring for a couple hours. My
friend, on the other hand, was smart enough to tell Adam that
they needed to get me into the pool. Right after I threw up I had
a couple of pushing contractions on the toilet before they helped
me get into the pool.

About 12:10pm Adam managed another phone call to our
midwife. I heard him say, “Sure I’ll call you back when she’s
pushing.” I’m in the pool thinking, “I’m already pushing!” It’s
amazing how clearly I remember it all. I think part of it is that I was
well rested from a good night’s sleep and the other part was that
I was labouring exactly how I had imagined it in my mind since I
had my first son. Caleb, my son, was giving me water to drink in
between contractions. Adam was applying pressure to my back.
When Adam was on the phone (or changing out of his stinky farm
clothes) then our friend stepped right in and filled his spot.
I have to make a side-note about Caleb. He was two years and
eight months old at the birth and he is a very empathetic little
boy. He hates to see anyone, especially his mommy, hurt. We had
talked about the birth and read books and watched birth videos
but I was still a little concerned about how he would handle his
mama being in pain. He really surprised us as he took it all in
stride. He knew exactly what was happening and didn’t
question anything.

It was 12:22pm when I felt my water break and mentioned it to my
husband and friend. There was another phone call to the midwife
and she told Adam to try to get me out of the pool to lie on my
side (and perhaps slow things down for her to arrive). I told Adam
there was no way that was happening because the baby was
already crowning. I remember my friend being in the kitchen and I
asked if she was going to come catch my baby and, the next thing
I knew, she was right behind me ready to go.

Adam reached down to feel the baby’s head (something that he
was very adamant about not wanting to do, until the moment
actually came). He said, “I feel the baby’s hair!” He later said that
this was such an extraordinary feeling and he’s so glad he did it. He
got to be the very first one in this world to touch our son. That’s
a moment that will stay with him forever. So I pushed his head
out and then came another moment that Adam treasures: The
baby was looking around under the water. I heard Caleb in the
background say, “It’s a baby! There’s a baby!” He was watching the
whole thing and was so excited.

I asked, “What do I do now?” Our friend laughed at me and said,
“You push the rest out.” So I did. He came about half out and then
I figured that I didn’t want to wait until the next contraction so I
gave an extra push and the rest of his body slipped right out. It was
incredible to grab my baby and sit back down into the pool and
look at him for the first time. I had seen videos and slideshows and
pictures of other moms having this moment with their babies and
now it was my turn.

I was the first one to hold my baby. I felt so safe, warm and loved.
I knew that Isaac was safe. He was in his mother’s arms, exactly
where he belonged. I didn’t have anyone pestering me to weigh
him or check his temperature. Nobody tried to give him a bottle
of formula (Caleb was o"ered formula because the nurses didn’t
think he could wait for my milk). My husband and son were
there the whole time. No one tried to shu%e them away. No one
interfered. It was a picture perfect birth experience and I wouldn’t
change any of it for the world.

Isaac was born at 12:51pm after about 3 hours and 21 minutes of
labour. We called the midwife fifteen minutes after the previous
call to let her know that we had a beautiful baby boy. She said they
were on their way. The midwives came and did all the technical stu" like tying the cord (Adam and Caleb got to cut it), weighing
him (6lbs 10oz, 5oz smaller than Caleb, you know, the baby I was
told I physically couldn’t birth), checking the placenta, and filling
in all the paperwork.

My mom and dad (who live next door) came over when Isaac was
about an hour old. It was so special to share that with them. Had
we gone up to Edmonton, they wouldn’t have been able to meet
Isaac until much later. Because we were at home, Adam was able
to do chores the next morning. My mom was able to bring over
dinner(s). Most of our family was able to meet Isaac before he
was a couple days old. Caleb didn’t have to spend any time away
from us. A home birth was exactly what we wanted and needed.
I truly believe that the Lord paved the way for us to experience
Isaac’s birth this way. Had things not moved along so quickly and
smoothly we would have had to look at our alternative options of
travelling almost two hours (or more because of Christmas tra!c)
to a hospital or hotel.

We were prepared to cut the cord, weigh the baby, and figure out
all the paperwork ourselves. We were very lucky that our midwife
realized that we didn’t have the time to travel to Edmonton for the
birth. It would have been ideal to plan a midwife assisted home
birth. It would have been a lot easier to explain to friends and
family. There were certain people that we didn’t fully explain our
plans to because we didn’t want to deal with their criticism. Even
after the birth numerous people have come up to us and said thatwe had been lucky nothing went wrong. We had some people
very close to us who were completely unsupportive and were very
vocal about it. That’s not a nice position to be put in. All of the
uncertainty and the criticism made for a very stressful pregnancy.
It affected me emotionally and mentally but it also became very
physically hard on my body. It was very hard to truly enjoy being
pregnant and I feel somewhat robbed of that.

I believe that all expectant mothers should be able to choose the
birth experience/location that works best for them. I wish that not
only midwifery care was more available but also that midwives
were given the flexibility to make birth location decisions on a
per mom basis. I wish that it was easier for them to get admitting
privileges at rural hospitals. I wish there were fewer restrictions
regarding VBAC mamas. I believe that changes will come with
time, but so many mothers are being robbed of the birth they
should be entitled to because all the midwives are in the city and
are either unwilling or unable to travel. A healthy baby is only part
of the picture. A healthy birth experience matters too.

Tessa retired from her career as a financial educator
to be a stay at home mom and wife of a dairy farmer. She is the
proud mother of two boys, Caleb and Isaac. She is passionate
about breastfeeding, natural birth, attachment parenting and is
looking forward to homeschooling her children.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's Online!

The magazine that published my birth story is finally online. So for anyone who wants to read it, feel free to check it out.
Birth Issues Online: Rural Maternity Care

It's in PDF format and can take a while to load. My story is on page 38. Enjoy!