Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lucy's "Pre-birth" Birth Story

Jay and I were blessed with a beautiful daughter on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 6:38 a.m.  Lucy Lynn was 8 lbs 1 oz and 21 inches long.  She is an answer to our prayers and a wonderful addition to her family.  Here is her birth story.

In order to really understand Lucy's birth, I need to start with her big brother Oliver's.  Oliver Michael was born on August 26, 2008.  My first child changed my life in ways I did not expect.  Oliver was induced three weeks early due to my health issues.  I chose to have an epidural because I did not believe I could handle the pain.  The epidural worked perfectly for several hours...and then stopped after I was completely dilated and ready to push.  While I do think that I still had some medication left in my body that helped with the pain, the epidural was not working the way it should have or the way I expected it to. However, I would not change a thing.  Feeling the contractions helped me to push, and I felt very empowered afterwards knowing I had done it without the full effects of the pain medication.  My nurse apologized time and time again and could not explain why the epidural had "failed".  I was not uspet about it at all, however, and knew right away that I would never choose to have another one.  I wouldn't trust it to work anyway, and besides, I knew I could do it!  No one was going to take that feeling of pride away from me.

That started my interest in natural childbirth.  Once I realized I would not want an epidural next time, that led me to wanting- or rather NOT wanting- certain other things.  I knew I did not want to be induced with my next child if my health was good.  Not only was I concerned about the implications of the drugs on my baby and myself, but I also felt that it was wrong to choose a baby's birthday for my convenience. I very strongly feel that babies know when they are ready to be born, and so does God.  A due date is only a guess and for me to decide my baby's birthday based on when he or she is supposed to be ready was not right, in my opinion.

We found out we were expecting our second blessing on January 26, 2011.  After six months of trying to conceive, we were thrilled.  I had my first prenatal appointment with Dr. Davis in March.  I was nervous for this appointment because I wanted to talk to him about the many things I wanted for this birth.  I knew some of them were probably not going to be received well by the hospital and I wanted his opinion.  We got to talk some, but not a lot, as he was called to a birth.  My main concern at this time was whether or not he would be the one attending the birth, as I knew his practice operates in a rotation basis.  He assured me he would do everything he could to be there.  I left feeling better, but still not 100% convinced that things were going to go the way I was wanting them to go.

I continued my care with Dr. Davis and looked forward to every appointment. We learned in May (and it was confirmed in July) that we were expecting a baby girl and that her little feet looked perfect. (After Oliver's clubfeet, we were concerned about this possibility.)  We decided to hire a doula because I still did not feel that my wants for the birth aligned well with the hospital.  We had chosen to go to Dupont Hospital instead of Lutheran Hospital (where Oliver was born) because I thought Dupont gave me a better chance of having a natural birth.  They had labor tubs and other equipment, and overall seemed more mother-friendly.  In July we began taking Bradley method childbirth classes in Auburn.  These are excellent classes that I would recommend to every pregnant mother.  We learned so much about the various stages of labor, what is normal and not normal, and most importantly, how Jay could help support me during the labor and birth.  The knowledge we gained in these classes helped me more during the labor and delivery than I even expected.

During these classes, we learned more about the midwife practice that is in Auburn.  It is a group of 3 midwives and one OB.  The midwives deliver both at the hospital and birth center.  The more I heard about them, the more interested I became.  And the more concerned I grew with delivering at Dupont.

On the way to our final childbirth class, I told Jay how concerned I was that Dr. Davis would not be the one attending the birth and how upsetting that was to me.  I also said I did not trust the nurses at Dupont.  I didnt know them, but I knew that because Dr. Davis would not be there for much (if any) of my labor, that a lot of my experience rested on those nurses.  Jay jokingly said that it was too bad we couldnt call ahead to Dupont once I was in labor, and if Dr. Davis wasnt going to be there, to go on to Auburn to birth with a midwife.  I looked at him and very seriously said, "You don't know how badly I wish for that too."  He then said that if I wanted to, I should schedule an appointment to talk to one of the midwives and see if that was the way I should go.  I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders- this was so much what I wanted to do but was scared to say it.

The hardest part for me was the thought of leaving Dr. Davis.  I adored him, and really thought I could have a good birth experience with him.  But it worried me that he might not be the one that ended up being there.  My birth was too sacred and important to me to have a person I had never met before be there at the delivery.  So over the next couple of days, I gathered my courage, wrote up a detailed birth plan, and went to my 32 week appointment.  I felt like I was going to be sick.  Jay went with me to that appointment, and when Dr. Davis walked in we sat and talked for awhile.  I told him my concerns, and we went over my birth plan.  He was fine with pretty much everything in my plan, but he admitted that his other partners might not be.  He also said he could not guarantee that he would be at the delivery, which I knew.  Even if I went into labor and delivered during the day during the week when he was at work, he said if I went to Dupont and he was at the Jefferson office or at Lutheran, he might miss it.  This made me terribly uncomfortable.  I told him I was considering switching to the midwives and he said he completely understood.  He even said I could remain a patient of his in the event that I needed an OB.  I left the appointment feeling very happy with how our talk had gone, but saddened knowing it was my last appointment with him.  I wanted to meet with a midwife to make sure I connected well with her, but in my heart, I was already there.

The next morning I called and made an appointment with Britte Nihart, one of the midwives.  A friend of mine was seeing her at the time and spoke highly of her.  My appointment was for just a little over a week away, and I couldn't wait.

My first appointment with Britte was wonderful.  While I was waiting I had been reading Ina May Gaskin's "Guide to Childbirth".  When Britte's nurse saw me with the book, she said, "Oh, if you're reading that, you'll fit right in."  I had to smile at that.  Fit in?  Awesome! I had always felt like I didnt belong in an OB office.  It was like coming home.  Britte and I talked for nearly an hour that first appointment.  I showed her the same birth plan as I had shown Dr. Davis and she was receptive to every part of it.  In fact, she said that most of what I was requesting was just commonplace for them.  I left the appointment feeling on top of the world.  I couldn't wait to call Jay and tell him how excited I was to make the switch to midwifery care.  I called Dr. Davis's office the next morning and had my records transferred.  It was official.

I began seeing Britte on a weekly basis.  I brought Oliver to several of these appointments and loved how he was included.  He was able to "help" with the doppler to listen to the heartbeat and also measure my stomach.  He loved going to the appointments with me, and having him involved was very special to me.  My appointments with Britte were vastly different from those with Dr. Davis.  Instead of a 5 minute check-up to make sure that nothing was wrong, my midwife appointments lasted anywhere from 10 minutes (when Oliver was cranky and kept trying to run out the door) to 45 minutes or more on those rare times when it was just me at the appointment and Britte and I could talk about everything.  She would ask me how I felt emotionally as I approached my due date.  She asked how Oliver did sleeping at night and how having a baby would play into our family dynamic at night.  We also talked about how our faith in God helped our faith in childbirth.  Although I was a patient of Britte's for only 7 weeks or so, I felt she and I became very close and had a wonderful connection.

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