Posted by Heather on August 10, 2006, 1:42 am126.96.36.199 on http://members.boardhost.com/pregnancy/msg/1155188569.html and posted here with permission.
Twenty-six years ago, I was born at home with a DEM. It was powerful and beautiful, and I have heard my wonderful birth story over and over for years. My mom still sings praises to God that she did not go into a hospital, which at the time was barbaric...episiotomies for everyone, shaved, lithotomy position. BLECH. My mom especially was against the spanking of the child at their birth. My mom's water broke in the late pm on April 21st. She went on with her sleep, spent the next day shopping with pads to catch amniotic fluid, went into harder labor in the afternoon, and gave birth to me at 1:35 am April 23rd. Her water had broken over 24 hours prior and no one worried about infection. She wasn't slit open to give birth. She was able to labor freely with no machines. They had lit candles and soft music with lowered lights. As I came into the world, the birth party, yes more than just two accompanying visitors, were celebrating with praises to God and prayers dedicating me to God. There was a cord wrapped around my neck, but it was unwrapped by the midwife. I didn't breathe for a whole minute, but again, massage stimulated me to breathe. No one insisted on having lights shining on her vagina. It wasn't necessary and I'm sure was appreciated by me as I came into the world for the first time. I can't imagine that is anything less than traumatic to a baby... She said in that minute of 'not breathing' I looked around the room at each person, looked at her and smiled, then started breathing. It must have been awesome.
Four years ago, I gave birth to my first child in a Navy hospital while active duty. They don't give you a choice unless you go unassisted, and I'm sure they would take you to Captain's Mast for going against their protocol. I had a 'great' birth as opposed to the horror stories I had heard of the hospital.
My water broke at noon. I had no pains, but wanted to get to the hospital by three so that I wouldn't get stuck in traffic. I got there by three, still no pains. When I laid on the 'bed' for my exam in triage, I felt my first contraction, and it hit the roof. I was seven cms already. I was sent to a room, where I was forced to fill out paperwork while in transition. I had already filled out my admissions three weeks prior to this day. I had HM's (Hospital Corpsman...) coming into my room to tell me to 'cover up' when I was leaning into the headboard to relieve my back labor and my gown happened to split. I told them they needed to find another profession, they were going to see a lot more than that in a bit. I was being hassled by medical 'professionals' about laying on my back still so they could pick up the FHT's on the EFM's the entire labor. They would physically push me onto the bed and hold me there. One woman...I have no clue what her title was 'professionally'... was saying to me, "it's only going to get worse, honey. You should expect 14 more hours of this". In hindsight, I should have kicked her out of my room since I was already at 7cms when I came in! What is wrong with people? So I took the epidural they had been shoving in my face the entire time (which at that time had only been four hours, but it is enough to drive you batty when you are so close to giving birth). One hour later, I was pushing my baby out in a fifteen minute session. I was in labor (counting the three hours of no pain that my water had broken) for 8 hours. It was ridiculous. I had a skid mark that I didn't want fixed since it was just a scrape, but they insisted on giving me stitches. My baby had to sit across the room from me for TWO hours for no reason but to 'warm him'. I ached for him, I deserved him, but I couldn't have him when there was NOTHING wrong with him? The three days spent in the hospital, I was being constantly criticized by staff coming in to tell me that 'I can't hold my baby in my bed while I nurse him'... Maybe if I thought THAT was a 'normal' way to bring a life into the world, I would be okay with it. I was raised to believe it could be miraculous and special and a challenge to overcome and bond with your baby through....a challenge that would be met at the end with a loving embrace of mother and child clinging together saying 'We did it!'. This birth led to postpartum depression, the termination of breast feeding at 3 weeks, resentment and anger at my child and myself (for allowing the staff to control my labor), and my bonds with my child were so ruptured that I didn't feel it completely mended until he was 3 1/2 years old...six months ago. I knew I had been robbed from the beginning... So when I got out of the Navy, I exercised my rights as a civilian woman and allowed myself the birth that any child and mother deserve.
Two years ago I got to experience that birth when welcoming my daughter into the world...and it changed my life forever. As soon as I found out I was pregnant again, I looked into homebirthing midwives. At the time, it was because of fear of my hospital situation that inspired me to look into her. I found a DEM paid in full by the military.
I started having contractions at midnight and went to sleep. I woke up around 6:30 am with contractions that were keeping me awake. So I started timing them. They were five minutes apart for 60-90 seconds long all day long. I would stop every once in a while and just do some activity like laundry, something with my son, playing Addiction Solitaire on the computer, etc. But during all the times I timed them, they were the same until 6pm when I didn't time them again until 10:30pm. I went for a walk, I took a shower, I hopped into bed, and I realized for the first time that they were MUCH stronger. So I timed them again at 10:30pm and they were coming now at 10 minutes apart and lasting about the same...60-90 secs long. I was thinking that was weird. I called my midwife. She sat on the phone with me until 11pm joking through contractions. I finally said I would like her to come just in case but I really thought the baby wouldn't come that day.
So at around 11:30 she left for my house. I woke up Jason, got the birthing tub started (we were planning on a water baby), and helped myself through contractions over the glider ottoman, over the side of the couch, over any headboard I wanted to without anyone saying anything to me. No machines tying me down, no papers to fill out, just me and my birth. What luxury! I hated the tub, once I got in, so I didn't use it. Instead of the tub, I thought shower would feel glorious on my lower back. I got in and stayed in until there was no more hot water. As soon as I got out, I sat on the toilet thinking I had a BM. I really thought for sure there was no way I could be ready to push yet since I hadn't even experienced 'excruciating pain' like with Kyler. I now know that most of that was the environment I was in. So, I held my baby back for twenty minutes waiting for the DEM. I was so programmed by the medical community from my past birth to be questioning such a natural thing as pushing. Looking back, I think it's pretty pathetic that most women do believe that their birth has to be monitored from start to finish and they need an exam before pushing. When my DEM arrived, she said 'why did you wait for me?' I relaxed and allowed my body to push and found I didn't even have to push at all. My water broke as I relaxed to allow myself to open up. My daughter joined us in 2 mins flat.
I gave birth on all fours and got to watch myself in the mirror of my headboard. It was the most empowering moment of my life. I feel as if that one moment, God was touching me and I was an Active role in a miracle. Now I know what my mom felt when I was born and why our birth was so much more special. I held my daughter immediately for an hour before I passed her to my husband so I could shower. I was able to keep her on my chest as I pushed the placenta out, and for about 45 minutes we were attached still. What a nice, gradual way to come into the world! It's making me teary eyed just thinking about it. The newborn exam was done on my lap and 2 hours after birth. We slept in our own bed with no one coming in to tell me I couldn't nurse her there. We are still nursing to this day. I never had depression just an ecstasy for life. She still fills my life and days with joy, and I think back on her birth OFTEN. I wish I could remember one good thing besides having a healthy baby out of that first birth. I wish I would have been able to have with my firstborn that feeling of being changed forever and transformed into a Mother in tune with herself and in tune with her child... the way I was with my second born. At least I got my ROCKING birth, and I have been able to reconnect with my son after our rocky start.
Unless medically necessary, I will never be in another hospital for a birth. Since that experience, I have done my share of research including visiting sites like this one which tells a different bias than my own. I know that at least at a homebirth, the only intervention applied to me will be one that truly was medically necessary and not in vain. I am not making these new decisions out of fear. I'm glad to be planning another homebirth as I'm writing this.
I'm due in March, and I will be more than willing to share with you all my birth story when this baby is born. Thanks for listening to my birth stories and my views. I have really enjoyed reading all of your posts.