cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Home Births and Midwives and Doulas Oh My!

OK, here's the deal: Some people like reading birth stories and some people think it's weird to share those details on the World Wide Web.

I'm in the latter camp.

However, home births are a question (as well as an eyebrow) raiser. So, in order to satisfy the curiosity of several readers, I'll set aside my qualms and share (some of) the details. Gentlemen, this serves as your warning. Read at your own risk.*

Let me break it down for you:
8-ish pm: Contractions began (and lasted all night)
6-ish am: Called Midwife and Doula
1:21 pm: Le Bebe makes grand entrance weighing 7 lbs, 13 oz and measuring 20" long.

Let me begin by saying, were I to have more biological children, I would not hesitate to have another home birth. I would call up my midwife so fast it would make your head spin. Let me also say that I had never seriously entertained the notion of having a doula present, but after having one VOLUNTEER her time, I would empty my little piggy bank to have her present for another birth. Of course, all of this is a moot point, unless God has an ace up His sleeve.

Fine, I'll quit stalling.

Due to contractions all night, I was already fairly exhausted when Carol and Laura arrived. I had given up trying to sleep by 2:00 am and timed contractions from then until I woke up my husband around 6:00 am.

This promised to be a long day. 

Carol began checking vitals and was a little concerned about Jubilee's heart rate. Her main concern was the umbilical cord and it's propensity to wrap around wee necks. Her calm demeanor took away every fear that I would normally associate with such a risk.** One of the things I was most excited about was the opportunity to labor and give birth in the water. If heart rates are uncooperative, this isn't an option. Thankfully, Jubilee decided to behave.

Unfortunately, my body didn't behave. Alas, the water was wonderful, but it stalled my labor and I had to get out or stay pregnant forever. I sat on a birthing stool (those aren't nearly as comfortable as birthing tubs) and eventually moved to the bed. I was not dilating in a timely manner and my strength was fading faster than labor was progressing. Carol had to help me dilate to a ten. Whoo-Whee, is that ever a hoot! Sign me up for that never. By the time serious pushing needed to happen, I was feeling a little rebellious and trying to figure out a way around pushing (apparently options are limited). I have never pushed so long, sweat so much or been left so hoarse as with this birth. God has a way of infusing us with just enough strength to go the distance. As I saw Carol pulling on Jubilee's noggin, I knew I just needed to muster up one more superwoman push.

I didn't, but God did. Seriously.

So, to summarize:

-Home births are amazing and I highly recommend you give it a whirl if you are able. I have never had serious postpartum depression-just the usual weepiness for a spell. I have not had one single rough emotional day. Not one. I can only credit that to being home and not under fluorescent lights, being poked and probed every two hours. Jubilee and I had the benefit of fresh air and sunshine from Day One. We didn't have to farm our kids out to friends, and they got to meet their newest sister moments after she was born. No one whisked Jubilee away to wash her. She didn't need a warmer. I did the warming. She was never separated from us. What a blessing!

-Midwives are amazing. No need to get defensive about why the world needs doctors and hospitals. Standard western medicine definitely serves a great purpose. However, it's not the end all, be all answer to everything. We have two children who were born in the hospital with an ObGyn. It just simply does not compare with the attention and care received from Carol. From the very first meeting, I felt that my midwife was invested in my pregnancy and delivery. Everything was explained to me. I wasn't made to feel like a convicted criminal for choosing to opt out of standard tests and procedures. (Can I get an "amen"?!?)

-Doulas are amazing. Having a doula present for our birth was unscripted. Just a couple days before Jubilee's arrival, Laura asked me if she could attend our home birth for the learning experience, but I think I learned more than she did! I admit, I didn't really "get it". I didn't understand the purpose and scope of a doula. I had chatted with Laura about her calling, but it's kind of like describing a show on Broadway; you really need to see it for yourself. Any attempts to explain it fall flat.  Basically, a doula does whatever needs doing. She is there to assist with the birthing (although I couldn't talk her into trading places with me), support the mom and dad, take care of older siblings, mop up vomit, hold a fan up to the flushed face of a tired mama. Whatever.

-Water births are amazing. OK, so even though I didn't have the joy of completing my labor/delivery in the water, I'm still sold on the benefits. It's worth it. Just invest in a few extra towels...

Lest anyone think Timothy was smoking cigars with the menfolk...He was boiling water (how cliche), applying counter-pressure, putting cool washcloths on my forehead, supporting my weight during contractions and being my all-around rock star husband, just as he was during the pregnancy and still is as he  tenderly cradles his newest daughter so I can catch a few more Z's.

Also, I was blessed to have my mama present. Hers was no easy task. She spent several days corralling, entertaining and feeding the children. All the while running hither and to for my needs. Cinderella had it good in comparison!

To answer a few common questions:

Did your girls watch?
We tried to talk Mikayla into catching Jubilee (anyone who knows Mikayla knows that there isn't enough money in the world...) They were in and out of the room throughout the labor. We left their level of involvement completely up to them. At times they helped comfort me, and when things got intense they were more than happy to stand outside the door and peek in periodically. We did have them exit for the placenta and other post-delivery fun.

Isn't there a huge mess to clean up afterward?
We're not pioneering it here. We took full advantage of modern conveniences such as garbage bags and plastic sheeting. Now, I didn't get drawn for clean-up duty, but it seemed to be a cinch.

What if something goes wrong?
These are midwives, not cavemen. They are well equipped to handle emergencies and know when transport to the hospital is in the best interest of mother and/or baby.

What do you do with stuff like the placenta? 
It's yours. You can do whatever you want with it. I put mine in a jar of formaldehyde to use as a table centerpiece.

Just kidding. I gifted it to someone.

Not kidding.***

So, there all you birth story junkies have it. Our birth story as told by moi.

Reveling In The Miracle Of Life,

P.S. In case you missed their links, go check out Carol and Laura's websites. If you live in the area and are pregnant or planning on being in the family way, call them both.

Also, I'm pretty sure this is the best way to use a birthing stool.

*And to think just the other day, a very kind gentleman encouraged me to keep on writing. The joke is on him today!
**It turns out, the umbilical cord was exactly where it was supposed to be and probably just got pinched between shoulders and pelvis...stuff.
***People on our Christmas list can relax. The recipient knows it was gifted to them. Otherwise, I would win "Lousiest Friend of the Year" award.


  1. Entertaining and slightly revolting at the same time, like an episode of The Office.
    Belinda never gave birth at home, but she did have a midwife for three (or four) births. Many modern hospitals now have birthing centers with very comfortable rooms - soft lighting, pleasant atmosphere, soothing music, and comfortable chairs. Many also allow immediate family to present during or shortly after the birth. Belinda had one "traditional" (if by traditional you mean the way Western medical doctors have done it for the past 100 or so years) delivery. It was not an experience she ever wanted to repeat. The delivery bed with the stirrups and harsh lights is designed for the comfort and convenience of the doctor, not the mother.

    At least I didn't use words like "crowning"...
    There are a couple of birthing centers, and (I think) one hospital with a team of midwives in our area. The cost wasn't going to be significantly different, so we went with the home birth.
    We wouldn't want the doctor to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced!

  3. Great story. I found it via Laura, who is a friend. (Good acquaintance? Anyway, I like her.)

    I must be a birth junkie because I wanted MORE detail! I'm fine with words like "crowning". :)

    I'm pregnant with my 6th, and this will be my first homebirth. The rest were with naturally-minded OBs (both of whom have since retired) and one CNM who is now a regular L&D RN at Thunderbird.

    I was deciding between Carol Denny and Pamela Qualls. I chose Pamela, but as Carol is her back-up, who knows? I may end up with Carol after all. :D

    1. Who doesn't like Laura?!? Laura typed up a detailed birth story. If you'd really like the details, I can e-mail the document to you.
      Also, congratulations on your sixth sweetie!! If you haven't considered a doula, Laura is worth her weight (and then some) in gold. I'm sure you'll have a great experience with Carol or Pamela. Come back and tell me about it!

  4. What a great story! Thanks for sharing it :) For a Mama who never had a labor and delivery anything close to what I had hoped for, its nice to hear the stories of those that did!

    1. So sorry you have to enjoy it vicariously.

  5. Such a wonderful experience - and just remember that Cinderella lived happily every after. ;-) Thanks for letting me participate!

  6. Well played, Mama. Glad you could be there!

  7. I'm a little behind and just now catching up on older posts =) I am so happy that you were able to experience a home birth. My first home birth (almost 6 years ago)was a defining moment in my life showing me the strength I never knew I had and also revealing Kellen's hidden midwifery skills. We delivered our daughter together, just the two of us...and a piece of paper that said "What to do if baby comes before the midwife." My midwife arrived to find me holding our beautiful baby girl and to Kellen's super daddy cape wafting behind him. My second home birth was an entirely different experience with midwives, family, and my little girls holding my hands. I hope more mamas would research the idea of home birth and see if it is right for them.

    1. What great experiences! I hope Kellen's cape is prominently displayed. I bet your daughter will love telling that story as she gets older. Will there be any more home births?

  8. If we are ever blessed with another little one home birth is my first choice. I've watched too many documentaries and read too many books to ever deliver willingly in a hospital again. I guess you could say I'm pretty passionate about home birth or that I'm a crazy hippie!


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