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DS’s birth (part 2)

My water’s broke early on the 17th of February 2008, at week 39+3 (or 4, I can’t remember now).

The rest of that day we busied ourselves with last minute shopping, and our last hours together as just the two of us.

In the evening my contractions started at 15 minutes apart. We sipped on red wine, I was on my birthing ball, and then I went to sleep for a while. DH kept timing my contractions through my sleep. Some time in the middle of the night, we drove the +20km to the OBGYN’s birthing cabin (I do not recommend driving in labour – it was very uncomfortable driving through a contraction. DH had to stop the car for each contraction).

I tried being in the Hydrotherapy pool, but was getting tired with there being no way to support myself. I was also vomiting a lot and really just wanted to be alone with DH.

We moved over to the birthing area, me lying on my side with DH with me, holding me and giving me a contra to push against for each contraction. If I needed the loo, he was there with me, if a contraction arrived while I was on the loo, he supported me. He was my rock.

I completely gave my body up to the process and was supported by the doula and my husband – lots of lower back rubbing, and quiet candle light. The OB stayed out of the room, other than for an occasional monitor of the baby using doppler.

I found myself birthing in the birthing pool. I did not like being told to reach down to touch my baby’s head. I was deeply concentrated on what was going on with my body, and I was not rushing anything. We would meet soon enough, and I would birth him, even if it took one or two more pushes than the OBGYN thought necessary.

The moments after theĀ  birth were extatic. I had done it, we had done it! Our baby was alive and well, I felt fantastic. It was just awesome.

I did not pay attention to when the cord was cut, or even notice that they took my son to weigh and dress him, I was getting out of the pool and being helped to the bed to lie down.

As time passed, the OBGYN was looking at the clock, and worrying about my placenta not arriving.He started to inject me with pitocin, into the umbilical cord, and something into my thigh. He catheterised me. He pulled on the cord, causing me excruciating pain, enough for me to physically push him off me. And then transferred me to the hospital, a 30 minute dive that was horrific. My son and husband followed in another car and my beautiful birth fell apart.

In the more than two years that have passed from that day, I have refused to think about it.

I told myself to be grateful I am alive and I have a healthy child.

And yet, as I already start thinking about giving birth again, reading up on how I will make different choices this time, I know that it might not have needed to end quite like that. I need t acknowledge the ugly side of what happened, not hide behind the beautiful parts of the birth.

I know I did not require a blood transfusion, which I have interpreted as there being no serious post partum heamorrage. I do not think I was actually at risk for post partum heamorrage. The birth of the placenta was mismanaged by a doctor who was following a protocol, not my clicical picture. Yes, retained placenta can be very serious. Yes, post partum heamorrage is very dangerous to the mother. But 30 minutes is not a magical number. If the mother is well, and there is not abundant bleeding, there is no medical reason to manage the birth of the placenta so aggresively.

I am ordering my medical file, just to see what went on that day. I never got a satisfactory explanation from the OBGYN.

The unpleasantness of trying to get myself discharged, the bureaucracy of discharging a new born and a mother was a nightmare. I had to endure staff telling me I am risking my babies life and all I wanted was to be at home.

I am definitely not a good candidate for hospital birth, or being in a hospital at all. I cannot abide someone else trying to control my body.

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DS’s birth revisited (part one)

I was so proud of how much time and energy I put into preparing for my birth and my baby. I was making choices that I felt were in informed. I was certainly more informed than my peers around me, but in retrospect I was hardly informed beyond 1st and 2nd stages of labour, and what to do with a newborn other than breastfeed.

I was doing the unheard of – I was birthing my first baby in a homebirth, with the option for a waterbirth. I was not administering vit K, no HepB vaccine, no drugs for me or baby. I felt that what I was doing was so radical anyway, that it didn’t matter too much that I kept having ultrasounds, that I agreed to the glucose screening test, that I agreed to more and more blood tests. I would do anything to ‘be allowed’ to birth out of the hospital.I even felt like I could compromise on the eye goop, and let them have ‘something’. It seemed the least dangerous of all the intervention offered, and I could notĀ  be called fanatical.

During our pregnancy, me and DH bounced between health care providers, interviewing two midwives, a private OB and seeing a number of OB’s through the National Health.

I could not give birth in a hospital. I knew that I just would not be able to. DH was very worried, and had a huge amount of pressure from his medical father and step mother. Homebirth was seen as the ultimate in selfishness on my part, with all the risk on the homebirth and all the advantage on the hospital birth (this has become a theme I am all too familiar with now when it comes to this side of the family. Technology and modern medicine only ever seem to do good and natural is to be mistrusted).

We settled on the OB when I was about 33 weeks pregnant. We had looked into every hospital birthing option available, even considering travelling to Jerusalem (about an hours drive) as they had the best rooming in options for newborns. However, when I understood that if I needed the loo while in labour, and I was attached to the fetal monitor, I would be given a bedpan, and not allowed to go to the loo – any hope of me birthing in a hospital folded. If I could not go to the loo in private (and lock myself in there if the medical team were being interferring with my birth ), I was not birthing in a hospital.

My fear of requiring a transfer during my homebirth helped settle us on the private OB. I ignored his love affair with his ultrasound machine, his crass humour and his egotistical way of managing to talk almost exclusively about himself whenever we came for a checkup. I was getting to birth out of the hospital, and that was my bottom line. Should I require a transfer, I would be with a doctor who knew me and who would not harras me for trying to birth at home. This also reassured DH who was worried about birthing without an experienced doctor.

I hired a doula (well, she was part of the package with this OB), unsure as to just what I was paying for, and too shy to ask her to clarify. Not wanting to bother her, I took her lead and spoke to her when she initiated it. I did not feel comfortable calling her. She was very sweet, supportive and encouraging.

Everything was set for an amazing birth.

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