June 26, 2011

Birth Story: Elliott, The Second - Birth Center Birth

We had a family reunion in July 2004 in Eastern Washington. Driving for a few hours and over windy mountain roads doesn't always sit well with me and I got car sick. Usually the feeling passes once we arrive and I've been walking around an hour or two. This time, the feeling didn't pass. When we got home a couple of days later, I peed on a stick. It was positive. I never menstruated between Graeden and Elliott's births.

As odd as it may sound, quality of care was not my first priority when finding a provider for this next pregnancy. I went online to find out what non-hospital options I had for birthing. And when I called for more information, my first question was, "how do you bill?" I was looking for a place that would only send one or two bills. I did not want to get bills for services I thought were included in the previous 3 bills for the same procedure. It still is so crazy to me that a hospital sends out a bill for their nurse and service, a doctor sends a bill for his service and anyone else who reads a lab test with the same service also sends a bill. 

Health care in the United States could take some lessons from private business on how to operate more efficiently. For example, at our driving school, when you sign up for a lesson, we charge you a flat rate. It's not separated out into an school administrative fee, instructor fee, and car/gas fee. As I digress, perhaps you can more easily relate to my perspective. Bottom line, I found a local birth center that sends one or two bills. That's it. And that's what sold me.

And to add to my delight was the friendliness of the midwives and staff that worked there. The facilities and birthing suites remind me of a nice hotel. I worked with two midwives and would have one of them at the birth. I was nervous not birthing in a hospital and Tymon was even more skeptical, especially since I needed repair surgery after Graeden. 

Elliott has always been a comfort seeker. He stayed in his nice warm amniotic sac an extra week after his due date. I was getting worried that if he came too late then I'd have to go back to the hospital to deliver since midwives can only deliver between 37 and 42 weeks. Even now, Elliott loves to snuggle and hug and crawls into our bed a couple of times a week.

About midnight, I felt a big contraction. It was not like the little Braxton-Hicks ones that I'd had working up to this point. I was just getting into bed and Tymon was finishing up something on the computer. I called into him that my labor may have started, but I'd time the next couple of contractions and try to get some rest in the mean time. I didn't want to call my midwife Heike just yet. I wanted her to sleep a little longer. About 3:30 am, my longer, stronger, closer together contractions were progressing and it was time to call. We planned to meet at the birth center at 5 am.

Heike was already there when we arrived. I walked in the door, she took one look at me and said, come on back to the room. You're definitely going to have this baby soon. I sat on a chair while she and her assistant filled the tub with warm water. Relieved and amazed that they could tell I was in active labor just by looking at me. Trusting me and what my body was telling me.

I was in the tub a short amount of time before the urge to push came.  I love tubs. And water. They are truly God's gift to laboring women. I was fairly quiet with Graeden's birth. I'm not sure why because I certainly liked being vocal with Elliott's. After several pushes, and Heike working with me to get my pushing voice down to a bass rather than soprano, she checked my dilation for the first and only time. It turns out checking how dilated a woman is doesn't matter until she's about to deliver. A woman can dilate (and efface) from 0-10 in the matter of a few minutes or few weeks. Wow! Not only did my midwife trust that I was in labor, she also respected me as a person and didn't do unnecessary pelvic exams just for the sake of having something to do. I delivered Elliott after being at the Birth Center for less than 90 minutes.

In the photo above, Elliott is still attached to me. When his umbilical cord stopped pulsating, Tymon cut it and I delivered the placenta. As you can see below, Heike has already bonded with Elliott. She took the time to get to know him during the prenatal visits by feeling the belly and figuring out where the head, back, and legs are. All the while talking to him. None of the OBs I've ever worked with as well as a couple of the current midwives at UWMC do this prenatal bonding. I didn't realize how important that is for building a relationship of trust until another midwife at UWMC got to know Kira a little bit. It only takes a minute or two but endeared her to me. I hope she's on call when I go into labor.

This past Thursday, I also met with Heike's midwifery instructor Helen at the UWMC for the second time. I see Heike's personal manner reflected in Helen. Or vice versa. They both express confidence and trust in my intuition as a mother. They empower me with choices. They both get to know babies in utero. They both place emphasis on me as a real person with intelligence and validate my concerns and feelings rather than viewing me as someone who will sue them if something goes wrong with my baby. They are truly kindred spirits.

At about noon the day Elliott was born, Tymon and I decided we'd like to go home. And we did. No hassles and no waiting. It took about 15 minutes to gather our things, strap Elliott into his seat and drive off.

Graeden was very interested in his new brother from the beginning. They are 17 months apart and don't remember life without the other.

2 Riveting COMMENTS:

  1. Thank you for sharing your birth stories. They are beautiful and real and make me wish I had been stronger and more assertive with my births. In the end, I suppose, we are just happy to have beautiful, healthy babies, though. I look forward to reading about your other babies. Good luck with the sweet little girl developing inside you!

  2. So fun and interesting to hear your views and experiences. I have to say, having had midwives for my first birth and c-sections after that, my experiences are completely different. I'll have to share sometime, but until then, looking forward to your next posts. :-)


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