Since my last post was about improving hospital-based maternity care, today I’m posting a birth story that is a perfect example of how maternity care should look. Heather hired me as a monitrice because she felt safest in the hospital, but also wanted to take all the necessary steps to prevent an unnecessary cesarean. Her OB and midwives encouraged her to stay home as long as possible to increase her chances of a VBAC. I monitored her and her baby at home like I would a homebirth client, and then a Certified Nurse Midwife took over in the hospital, with a doctor back-up down the hall in case she was needed. Heather was a great homebirth candidate, but she just wasn’t ready for a homebirth, so she did her research and created the birth that was right for her. I also want to add that she was amazing in labor. She gives me a lot of kudos in the story, but really, I hardly did anything. I wasn’t even sure she was in labor until I checked her cervix. At 7-8 centimeters she was chatting between contractions and doing yoga. What a birth warrior! I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.
The Birth Story of Oliver William
After a traumatic emergency C-Section that was a result of many unnecessary medical interventions (in my opinion) for the birth of my first child, my husband and I were ready to have a different birth experience. My husband and I search our hearts and came up with a list of things that we would have done differently, then we got to work! The result of that soul searching and the preparation that followed was a wonderful unmediated VBAC! Here is Oliver’s story.
I hired Brielle Epstein as my Monitrice. A Monitrice is basically a Midwife at your home, then when you are ready to go to the hospital she becomes your Doula at the hospital. This was a perfect compromise for us. I wanted a Doula but felt a little uncomfortable with the lack of monitoring for the baby if I labored for any length at home. My doctor recommended that we try to labor at home for as long as possible and I knew that if that was going to work I would need lots of support. Brielle was a godsend! The Monitrice service combines Brielle’s Doula experience with her Midwife certification. A Doula isn’t legally allowed to monitor the baby, but a Midwife can. So, Brielle was able to set us up for successful labor at home while monitoring the baby’s vital signs, my vital signs and checking my cervix for dilation, Then when we were ready to go to the hospital she followed us there and acted as Doula extraordinaire!
I had been having contractions for a few days, very far apart at first, and not too uncomfortable. Brielle had mentioned that with VBAC’s this is very normal as the body tries to get the uterus ready by breaking up scar tissue. I was happy that my body was taking it slowly and allowing me to practice some of the pain coping techniques that I had read about. (Hypnobirthing, Bradley, Birthing from Within, and Inna May) I kept texting Brielle with any updates and changes. On the early afternoon of March 8th they started to get closer together. By about 5pm they were about 5 minutes apart and becoming more uncomfortable. I was still able to handle them. We took a walk around the neighborhood which helped tremendously! At that time my mom called my cell phone and my husband answered. She told him to “take me to the hospital right away because I only had a 20% chance of having a successful VBAC!” I am very glad that my husband didn’t relay that toxic comment to me. For this birth my husband and I had worked very hard to set up a non-toxic environment, including the people that we invited to help support us. At this time Brielle decided to come over. She and her partner Kari arrived and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. She checked my dilation and I was at about a 4 or 5. I was extremely happy that I had made it that far without much problem! My wonderful Mother-In-Law was managing the 2 year old, and everyone seemed calm and relaxed and excited! Brielle, Kari and my hubby started to fill up the birth tub. By this time the contractions had started to get more intense and I really had to concentrate more. I tried different positions. I lost track of time. I decided that I was ready to go into the birth tub. The tub really helped with the pain! I was now getting very vocal which was also very helpful!
At around 12am I felt like I vomited and Brielle checked me and I was about 9 ¾ dilated! I was thrilled that I had gone so quickly and had been able to manage the pain so far. We got dressed and went to the hospital. Brielle and Kari followed us in their car. I was in a lot of pain on the way to the hospital, but I WASN’T SCARED! I had no fear. I trusted that my body, my heart, my mind and the wonderful people surrounding me were all working together to make this VBAC work! We checked in to the hospital at 12:30am. I yelled at the nurse who was trying to get me to fill out gobs of paperwork, then Kathy the midwife from the OBGYN North practice came. She had a wonderfully calming energy and although she really didn’t say a word, she was exactly the right person for the job. She was very good about different positions, and showing me how to push. Pushing didn’t come easy for me. It took me a while to figure it out. About this time I decided that I couldn’t do it, and I needed the epidural. But still I WASN’T SCARED! Kathy said that it’s fine if I get the epidural, but that it wouldn’t help because I was already done dilating. The way she said it made me accept that it was true, and I just put it out of my mind. I was very loud and Brielle was coaching me on the sounds I was making to help me relax more. I was moved to the toilet where my husband supported me while kneeling in front of me. Then my husband turned white as a sheet and Brielle and Kari very calmly said, “Willie, why don’t you get some apple juice.” I didn’t even realize that he was about to pass out until I looked at him! There was a seamless transition from hubby to Brielle. I was now leaning on Brielle while Kari led Willie to get some apple juice. I was so glad that someone was there to look after my husband. After what seemed like only 10 seconds my husband came back looking a normal color and took over again! J We moved back to the bed, and after what seemed like a very long time and many more pushes Oliver was born at 2:30am on March 9th! Kathy the midwife used lots of olive oil to prevent tearing and I only had a 1st degree. I had been extremely worried about tearing but I didn’t even feel it!
Oliver was such a champ! His heart rate stayed regular and he came out looking great! He was 8lbs 6 oz and 20 inches long. He nursed right away and we cuddled and nursed for about 2 hours!
The recovery for all of us was easy compared to a c-section. Most importantly I believe this birth was emotionally healing for both my husband and I. He was the perfect coach and supporter and I believe that it erased his feelings of guilt that he had from the previous birth. I also felt healed from my feelings of inadequacy, guilt and fear. I immediately noticed that as parents we were both more confident, and calm! Our marriage is better.
This birth was truly an amazing blessing!