"What does your doctor say?"
"Oh, well I am with Midwives, but they say .... "
"So are you like delivering in your house!?"
I think I had that conversation about 8,459 times.
How did I get to using midwives instead of an OB?
Through A BUNCH of bad stuff that went down with my doctor treating me like a serious medical case when there was no real reason to... I switched doctors. I started bleeding pretty much from the get go. I would call and they would say come in... she does an exam (I bleed more because of the exam) she says everything is ok. Put this on repeat for 5 weeks.
I told a friend about all the crappy "happenings" with the doctor and she told me about how her sister had had a traumatic first birth and wanted to go for a more natural approach with her second kid and take out unnecessary medical intervention. I started researching Midwifery (my sister cannot handle the goodness of this word) and was amazed with their philosophy and again felt disappointed with America's view of medicine. Let me explain...
Did you know midwives are the primary care people for pregnant women almost everywhere else IN THE WORLD except the US and Canada? Thats right. A healthy pregnancy equals a midwife, and with that a very personalized care model. An Obstetrician is trained in pregnancy as a medical specialty, which is very good and important given the need for "medical specialty." Midwives view of pregnancy is that it is a natural part of life, let your body progress and grow this baby as it was designed to. Medical intervention is used when necessary, not routinely. Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo blog did a segment some time ago about American mothers living around the world. It was really interesting to read their birth stories with midwives (as is the norm in those countries). This one (Northern Ireland) and this one (Norway) are great reads, but really they all are. Like this one about breastfeeding and breast milk in the Congo.
I put myself on the wait list for the Midwives at Texas children's downtown Houston.
HOW DID MIDWIFERY LOOK WITH MY PREGNANCY?
When I started with the midwives (based out of a hospital, where they also deliver) I was about 16 weeks along. My first visit lasted over an hour... and that means one-on-one time, me and the midwife talking in depth about my medical history, my current place in life (job, stresses, relationships, hopes, feelings, not kidding!) and of course the baby! I was still bleeding a little but we discussed at length what the bleeding looked like, how much, when it occurred and didn't occur and what the OB had found (or not found via ultrasounds and exams). She decided a pelvic exam was not necessary not wanting to cause any more bleeding from the exam. I left and cried knowing this was exactly where I needed to be.
From this point, a lot of it looked the same as it would with an OB, I went every 4 weeks, then 2 weeks, then every week... each time making sure I had met with each midwife at least once (they are a group of 6) so when the time came for Nora to be born, I would have been acquainted with whoever was on call. Midwives, viewing pregnancy as a normal life process, also believe in helping the body through labor sans medicine if that is the wish of the patient. This looks like education. YOU, the pregnant lady, knowing what labor will look like and how it will progress, and also ways to move and help your body along the way. They, of course, guide you through this during labor but want to know you are informed beforehand.
HOW THE DEAL WENT DOWN
About week 37, one of the midwifes figured out my belly was too big. I went to a specialist (an OB) and figured out I had excess fluid. That story here. Because there was so much fluid, Nora was basically floating. Though she was head down she couldn't get down far enough to put my body into labor. At 40 weeks 6 days, barely dilated, I went in to be induced.
TUESDAY NIGHTGo in to have cervical softener overnight. The TV sound doesn't work. Im bummed. Im excited! Tomorrow is the day! Talk to midwife about New Girl and shows on Netflix.
WEDNESDAYStart Pitocin... 8 hours later, nothing has happened. NOTHING. Take me off pitocin, start over tomorrow. Midwife (a different one) says this happens, my body just needed to get ready today, it will work tomorrow.
THURSDAY-FRIDAYStart Pitocin ... 2 hours later my water breaks. It floods the room. There is a "caution floor is wet" sign placed in my door way. Not kidding. Midwife (another different one) comes in and says "I knew it was your room because of the sign!!" Then labor really starts. Slow at first and then picks up. My plan is no meds... so here we go. Mary, the midwife, talks me through breathing. We walk, we sit, we breathe, I get in the bath and she rubs my back and runs water over my back, she massages my legs and feet. We talk about midwifery, babies, behavior therapy, my sister, how I want to throw up because I can smell the beef jerky Rob is eating. About 12 hours in I'm at 9 cm. "You're so close!" Rob says. Well 5 hours later I am still 9cm. In birth class you learn that in transition, the contractions to get you from 8-10cm, are the worst but the fastest and then you push a baby out. Not so for ole Danielle. Mary has tried everything, I am basically dead from being in transition for 5 hours/labor for so long. Also Nora is faced the wrong way, destroying my back. I give it a few more contractions but my body is so tense from pain that I'm not progressing to 10cm. At this point I can try to keep going with no pain meds knowing if I don't get a baby out in the 24 hour mark from my water breaking its a c-section.. OR I can get an epidural, relax and let my body keep working and save energy for pushing. Given epidural or c-section... I choose epidural. Rob has to leave according to hospital policy. Mary, just hugs me and talks to me, tries to keep me still through contractions while they are doing the epidural. I love this woman.
Nora didn't like the epidural. Ugh, this is why I didn't want one. They have to take me off pitocin and start over again, slowly. There is an OB on the case pressuring the midwife to let her intervene. There is no need Mary says. This all becomes blurry. Sometime around 3-4 am Im 10 cm. PRAISE GOD! I push for no less than 4 hours, because she is faced the wrong way and giant (as we now know). A big thank you to sister for holding my leg for so long and seeing way more than you wanted to see :)
21 hours later, Friday 8:04 am, Nora is born. Nora means "light," she was waiting for the sun to rise. She came out eyes wide open looking at Danay and Rob. They laid her on my chest, let me know she's really here for some moments, then took her to the baby station. "10 pounds!" they yell out.
They sew me up (2nd degree tear which is amazing considering her size and that I delivered her head and an arm) I have lost a lot of blood. I turn yellow-green and stay that way for the next 3 weeks. She is perfect. I don't remember very much of the first 3 weeks to be honest. It breaks my heart that I can't really remember her in the hospital. Just bits and pieces. I have pictures holding her so I know that I did. I remember Rob being a super hero, he did everything. Diapers and swaddling, bringing her to me to nurse and laying her back down, getting me food and making sure I ate and drank, helping me stand up (after I could without passing out). Love that guy. I remember in the hospital the nurse saying, "after you feed her let me take her to the nursery and you get some rest." I say ok, I sleep. She comes back and I ask if Nora slept, she says "no, she was my little buddy for the last 3 hours" A theme to continue, little did I know. I never got a sleepy newborn that you can sit in church with all peacefully hahah. Nora is wide eyed and more alert than any baby I have ever seen. And we're in love.
I firmly believe if I was not with the midwives I would have ended up in an unnecessary c-section. Nora's pediatrician even said, "I can't believe your OB let you deliver her." I did, and it was tough but I did and we were both fine. I am so grateful for a vaginal delivery and for trusting my body and the midwife trusting me and my body despite what other medical people thought and think after hearing the story.
If you are considering midwives, I urge you to do your research. Ask your doctor what their c-section rates are. Compare that to what the midwives are. In my case it was OB 30%, Midwives 4%. Ask your doctor questions! Challenge them if something seems weird to you! I felt the hospital was still the best place to deliver with midwives, though there are home-based and birth center based too. My insurance covered them. My OB never acknowledged Rob in the room, the midwives got to know him and asked him what questions he had. My OB left for the weekend without giving me a call back in a serious situation because it was past 12pm on Friday. The midwives stayed on the phone with frantic me on more than one occasion and called back to check up. Its obvious I believe this was the best choice for me, but that in no way means I judge your choices. I know there are amazing OBs out there and thank God for them! Just wanted to share my experience because its different than the norm and I have had so many questions.
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