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Birthing on my mind

October 24, 2013

I live in a very medicalized climate for birth. My home state and town is the residence  of the one the most world-famous hospitals and if you are sick, boy-howdy, please get your self there. There are doctors who do such amazing things and prove that medicine is an art as well as a science. That type of technological advancement and cutting edge techniques are great-needed-if you have cancer, are in a terrible accident or are hopelessly sick. I am a nurse at this institution and I can vouch for miraculous care I see patients get every single day.

I don’t feel that away about birth in my town. Now, you mama’s with severe complications don’t get your maternity panties in a twist-I am not talking about you and your perinatologist’s. I am talking about regular run of the mill birth, which fortuitously accounts for most births. During clinical for my OB/GYN rotation I had the pleasure to be a local hospital, not the one I work at now, and witnessed the climate of birth there. We were given tours on our first day of birthing suites, nursery, NICU and post pardum rooms. Every single labor room had a belt laid on the bed to be strapped to every woman who entered to birth her baby. The nursery was full of babies not with their mamas for no reason other than “rest for the mother” and “that is just where the babies go, they are not safe if the mother is napping or sleeping.”

I felt just like those GIFS of dogs having a worse day than you or who just can’t handle looking at the donuts–you know them and have watched them all so i don’t have to link them. Everyone wears a belt to monitor heart rate? Really? Every one? How do they move around? How do they labor laying down keeping that belt in place? OH, the nurse giving the tour shows me the important IV poles that will hold the pitocin and IV Fluids to be given because you can’t eat or drink anything. No birthing tubs. No family friendly showers. Just beds, belts and IV poles.

My first pregnancy with our son was fraught with doubt and weirdness but then I hit my second trimester and I seemed to be sailing along. Until 28 weeks when I had preterm labor. 3 weeks on bedrest and my water broke. One week trying to cook our little fella a little more and I asked- during one of my routine AFI checks  to make sure Spawn was peeing, his kidneys refilling my fluid as he drank it in practicing sucking and swallowing and then peeing it out-for them to check his weight. I had done way too much reading on bedrest and knew if he were a certain size he would fair better. I had two rounds of betamethasone and knew that would help. All the stress of preterm labor and my water breaking and not going in to labor would stress our Spawn and encourage his physical development to better cope with being born early.

During the ultrasound checking my AFI level they discovered that Spawn had only grown about 5 ounces in 4 weeks which is not enough. There was not great vigorous blood flow in the cord and he moved only minimally. The neonatologist came to see me and told me they would induce me the next day. I of course burst into tears which he seemed ill prepared for. My midwife came and spoke with me and told me I could choose to have the midwives attend our birth or chose an OB. Of course I wanted to choose them. They knew me. They would try to keep my birth plan as it fit into this new scenario in the most healthful and safe way possible. I trusted them.

My labor was induced and pitocin was given. Horrible stuff. I tried for a long time to go without an epidural but I had the urge to push and was not dilating. The epidural helped me relax and I dilated within a few hours and our little man was born. Screaming. APGAR score 9 and then 10. The pediatricians looked him over and finally after much pleading they let me hold him for a few minutes. As soon as I said his name, as I had been calling him for months, he quieted, his little tiny mouth formed and O of surprise and he opened his eyes and looked right me. Looked right at his mama. All 2 lbs. 14 oz, 15inches long. He breastfed 12 hours after he was born, came home at week 4 weighing 3 lbs 10 oz 17 inches long fully breastfeeding.

Those first few months with him at home were scary, exhausting and frustrating. I think that is how every new mom feels, preemie or not. He was little forever or so it seemed. Now  at almost 13 he has armpit hair, a deep voice and pimples on his nose unless he showers everyday.

I would have never have chosen to NOT have my midwife attend our birth and catch our little man. They did a great job and were everything I could have hoped for during the scariest time of our lives. I felt cared for, I felt secure knowing that they know all about birth, all parts of it and they would be able to help me in a way completely different from an OB could or would. My midwives stayed with me during the whole birth. They went with him to the nursery right afterward. They came to see us in the NICU to take pictures of our nursing our ruddy, jaundiced, wee tiny man who head was smaller than my boob and my boobs were not really that big.

Their practice is not being terminated as the hospital they attend births at has decided with budget cuts, in light of two lawsuits (not involving them in any way-just legal issues in our state) they don’t want them there any longer. It breaks my heart that women will not be able to benefit from this service they so lovingly and expertly supply.

I am so grateful for our crazy scary birth because of the comfort they gave me. The intelligence and respect they supported me with. The beautiful little boy they helped bring into the world.

I am so grateful.

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