Homebirth: Episode 1, the choice

After my son was born in the hospital (posterior–sunny-side-up–presentation, epidural) I decided I wanted a homebirth for my next baby.  I started research homebirthing in Connecticut the second I found out I was pregnant for the second time and got really excited!  After my first Doctor’s appointment at 9 weeks (I hadn’t even begun to interview midwives yet) and an ultrasound to “check dates” we discovered twins.  My husband and I kinda threw our hands up in the air and said–THAT’S IT!!! NO MORE SURPRISES!!!  And the idea of a homebirth went out the window.

But now I’m pregnant again and the idea is alive and well!

Now, neither of my hospital births were horribly traumatic but they didn’t go the way I hhad oped either. With my first I wanted  a natural birth but because I was 42 weeks I was induced (I managed to push off the Doctors until a full 42 at least!) and the Pitocin made the contractions unbearable.  I was literally dry-heaving during what seemed like non-stop contractions (in reality I had about 60 seconds between minute-and-a-half-long contractions) and begged for an epidural through my tears.  We discovered he was posterior as he emerged, had we known earlier there are techniques (positions, counter-pressure) that we could have tried to lessen the pain.  I also could have asked for the Pitocin to be turned down.  My mom did but the nurse brushed her of… I even had to finish the bag of Pitocin (almost full at the time of my son’s birth) before they’d get me off the IV.  I also didn’t get to hold and nurse Punkin for over 45 minutes because he was cold… still unsure why he couldn’t be on my chest with a warm blanket.  Thankfully not much of this bothered me at the time, I was euphoric.  My words as he emerged and was laid on my chest (for less than a minute) were “Oh my God, we have a BABY!” (we have that beautiful moment on video).  I was in shock there really was a person in there after all!

My second birth was more planned and relaxed, mostly because I “gave in” to things long before we entered the hospital.  It was twins, we knew that.  I was tired and felt sick but otherwise had no complications during the entire pregnancy.  At one point, late in the pregnancy, Pinky (baby B) turned breech and I panicked.  I knew some of the Doctors in my practice would be hesitant to “allow” me to have a vaginal birth in that situation.  One warm summer day, sitting outside watching Dean play, I manually turned her back to a head down position.  I was chastised by the ultrasound tech (whom I got to know VERY well in my biweekly NST visits, better than any of the doctors) but I was so ridiculously proud of myself!  My husband and I chose to induce labor at 38 weeks for a couple of reasons.  First: he’d just started a new job and we needed to know when his paternity leave (part of his hiring stipulations) would start.  Second: the babies were already being estimated at 7 1/2 lbs (a number which can easily be off by a pound in either direction) and I was worried they’d get too big for a doctor’s comfort (not my own, the last two weeks of the pregnancy were probably the best, and yes, I know how crazy that sounds!).  So already we were doing things to kinda cajole the Doctors into giving us the birth we wanted.  I also had decided to go ahead with an epidural instead of waiting to see how things went because the Doctor who was inducing me was anxious about what might happen.  I figured having the epidural would allow me to labor longer because they wouldn’t worry about sedating me in the event of  a c-section.

Induction is a long process, for both births I was at the hospital over 12 hours before I had regular contractions (they do Cervadil over night first).  My second labor was shorter: Punkin’s was almost exactly 12 hours of “real” contractions and the girls’ was more like 9.  My epidural was probably the worst part, the anesthesiologist “missed” and had to stick me twice while the Pitocin  surged through my veins and the blood pressure cuff they “couldn’t” take off surged tight exactly in time with the contractions that surged through my belly.  I retired back to my bed, relaxed with my knees hanging open just breathing and keeping my mind clear.  The nurses asked more than once if I could even feel the contractions (I could) because I was acting like I didn’t.  That’s how I deal with contractions, I talk and keep busy through them!  Finally I felt a lot of pooping sensations and I asked my mom to get the nurse.  Her classic mom response was, “Oh, just go ahead, no one cares!” If only I had!  I replied that I wanted someone to clean it up if I did, not just sit on the bed, gross!  So the nurse came in to check me and bumped into Twinkle Toes’ head a mere centimeter in–PUSH TIME!  If I’d gone ahead and “pooped” as my mom suggested I would have actually been delivering my own baby… a nice thought in retrospect!  Twinkle Toes was out in an easy three pushes, she practically FELL out of me 🙂  Meanwhile Pinky, panicked at the sudden loss of her womb-mate and hid, curled into a little breech ball up under my ribs.  My Doctor (a new one now, we’d gone past the original Doctor’s shift) called in an older Doctor and they attempted to turn my stubborn little baby.  Twinkle Toes had been out in the world for a full half hour before Dr. McDonnell looked up over my half-flaccid belly and said, “Well, we could try to deliver breech or–” I cut her off with an emphatic “I do not want a c-section!”  I was fully aware of the added challenge and potential risks of a breech birth but I needed to give it a try!  Her beautiful response was, matter-of-factly, “Okay then.” We waited another half an hour for Baby B to come down (contractions slow between babies) still in her sack.  I pushed that little bugger out, complete breech, yellling “GEEEEET OOOUUUUTTTT!!!!!!” it was the most satisfying and empowering thing I’ve ever done!  I sat up to nurse my two beautiful babies (they were great nursers) and felt a pain growing at the back of my neck.  Spinal headache!  All the fluid in my spinal cord was leaking out a puncture wound created by the anesthesiologist’s slippery needle.  So, the birth was amazing but the week after SUCKED BUTT because of my brain laying directly on my skull.  Also, the babies were jaundiced so they were in the hospital an extra day and then BACK (with me still horizontal) for time under the lights.  Chris took them in for testing both days on the weekend too.  They were born on Monday and the headache was gone by the following Monday night, the first day Christian had to go back to work.

So, anyway, I felt that there were unnecessary things that happened that could have made both of my births much more enjoyable.  I felt annoyed that I was pushed around and our requests ignored during Punkin’s birth and that I had to placate the Doctors for the twins’ birth.  Also, I haven’t even mentioned it yet but I was delivered both times by Doctors I hadn’t met more than once before!  It was LUCK that I didn’t have a c-section with the twins, I can’t even imagine how different my experience would have been if I’d been with one of the other Doctors, especially the one who wanted me to deliver in the OR simply because it was twins!  For this next (and probably last) birth I didn’t want to suffer those risks again and worry about pleasing the Doctors.  I wanted to be able to relax and just let things do what they needed to do.  So really, there was no decision to make–I am having my baby at home.


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