Birth Stories, Home Birth, Natural Childbirth, Natural Living, Uncategorized

Birth Story #2 – Geneva

+J.M.J.+

I have something exciting here in our Natural Birth Story Series… two stories from sisters who gave birth a month apart in their respective homes using the same midwife!

Geneva gave birth to her fourth baby, then her sister Nicole followed with her eighth a month later. These births came during a difficult time in their lives, as their grandmother was dying. Read on to hear all about Geneva’s birth this week, and then next week come back to hear Nicole tell her story!

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My first birth was an unhappy hospital birth, my second was a beautiful uncomplicated homebirth, and my third was another homebirth with the same trusted midwife that was complicated by an unexpectedly large baby and a shoulder dystocia that was quickly resolved. Despite the good outcome for both me and my son, it left my confidence shaken.

When I became pregnant again I felt some apprehension. I had gained weight between pregnancies, edging me from overweight to obese. My usual midwife would be unavailable for the birth due to an extended trip out of the country, so I was looking for a new care provider. I looked into my options and found that another homebirth would be difficult to finance and my choices for midwives ranged from too expensive to too far away. Since my local hospital had changed many of its birthing policies and added midwives to their staff I decided to give them a try. I ended up liking the CNM that I met, but not feeling comfortable with the clinic’s procedures. I would not have a guarantee of a midwife at my birth, and even if one was present, it definitely would not be the one I had met, as she did not have catching privileges. Nicole was enjoying her experience at the family practice clinic, and there was an almost guarantee of having your own doctor attend the birth, so I decided to switch over to the same clinic.

I found a doctor who was very compatible with me and continued my prenatal care. As my pregnancy progressed though, I became less satisfied with the hospital protocols in place that I would have to actively fight against while in labor. I had tested negative on two separate glucose tests, but was still monitoring my blood sugar levels and they were completely normal. Despite this, the hospital would still want to monitor my baby’s blood sugar every hour after birth if the weight was considered high. The protocol for handling a shoulder dystocia was very different than at home, and my doctor even mentioned that an episiotomy might be necessary. I strongly disagreed and started to really fear the entire process, especially with the added stress of leaving my children and finding someone to watch them.

As these fears were mounting, Nicole and I attended the Birth and Baby Fair and met Dionne (CPM), a midwife I had really been drawn to before, but had been forced to discount because of the cost of the birth center she was affiliated with. She had now started a solo homebirth practice and was willing to meet with my husband and me to discuss payment options. We knew right away that she was perfect for us, so we changed our plans to a homebirth with Dionne.

My stress level during the pregnancy was very high. Not only was my birth place and care provider up in the air for a long while, but my grandma also became sick near the end of my pregnancy.  My grandma was my mom’s best friend and the unifying force of our entire large family. I was already overdue and panicking over the potential size of my baby when my grandma was brought to the hospital and diagnosed with terminal inoperable cancer. It was completely crushing for all of us and so unexpected. She underwent a surgical procedure to help her be more comfortable in her remaining days and went home on hospice. I was completely unable to relax and let labor happen. The tension kept growing as my mom left work on FMLA to take care of grandma, and we all shifted gears to try to support our mom while she supported her.

I was growing desperate and began a series of attempts to get labor started, from the usuals like sex, spicy food and exercise to weird things like melted peanut butter. Nothing was working. I had continued care with my doctor as well so that I would have her as backup in case of a transfer, but she was forced to call me and drop me from her care at 41 weeks due to policy. Dionne supported me during this stressful time and also increased the amount of monitoring done at home. The baby sounded strong and healthy the whole time. I continued to not have even a sign of labor, so I asked Dionne to strip my membranes and tried some castor oil.

{Mariette interjecting here – There is some debate and controversy on the safety of castor oil. It is something I haven’t researched extensively, but am including this and Geneva is happy to respond in the comments to anyone wondering about it}

It didn’t work.  I was so tense and angry and stressed. I decided to set up an emergency visit to the chiropractor.  State your emergency: 42 weeks pregnant. He gave me an adjustment that felt great and the next day my labor began with my water breaking.

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This is the first time I have had broken water before contractions started. Dionne checked on me and the baby and all was well, so she instructed me to take my temperature every 2 hours day and night and she left her bags at my house, expecting a call during the night. I slept poorly because of the wakeups and the discomfort. I tried pumping to get contractions started and it was very uncomfortable. 

In the morning I got another adjustment at the chiropractor and ran home and pumped. Dionne said she would come by to check in at 12 and I said I would try to be in labor by then. I headed up for a nap and got some sleep before things started.

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When Dionne arrived I had just woken up to my first contractions. They were mild, but I felt so relieved when she got there and they immediately picked up. I expected a labor that was as long as my others, so I assumed the baby would come after my kids were in bed for the night. Dionne could tell that things were picking up quickly, so she set up her things and gave me my space. I tried getting into my bathtub for some relief, but this labor was much more intense than my usual. I quickly got out again and went downstairs for more water. I could barely make it back upstairs, so I admitted to myself that this was going quickly. I texted Nicole to come over and settled into my birthing space.

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I had not included a vomit bucket in my birth kit because I had never needed one before, but I realized that this time I did need it. Nicole had arrived in time to get photos of me vomiting in a bucket. I kept wondering if she was mad at me or secretly in labor herself because she was standing so far away, but she had just brought a very long lens and had to stand away for the pictures to focus. 

I was getting close to pushing when my youngest son came in to whine at my husband to get him ice cream. My husband was worried he would miss it, so he ran downstairs and made it back in time for me to start pushing while leaning over my exercise ball. The baby came very quickly and forcefully,  but Dionne was able to do some fast counter-pressure to minimize tearing. I quickly realized we had a fourth boy. He was angrily screaming. My placenta followed soon after and I was able to lay back and hold my baby. He just continued to scream and cry, and then I started shaking and shivering. Dionne reassured me that it was a hormonal reaction common to fast births. I tried to get the baby to latch on, but he was still too upset, so I asked for the colostrum I had pumped earlier. I tipped the bottle to his mouth like a cup for him to taste and put some on my nipple and he finally latched on and calmed down. My shivers eventually subsided and I bundled up.

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When we finally weighed and measured him, we found that he was 8 lbs 15 oz, almost two pounds lighter than my last baby. It was very special to have my kids come into the room so quickly after he was out and cuddle with me. We named our baby Lars Henry and ate birthday cake in my bedroom. I was so relieved that he was finally here and healthy and a boy. I was also very surprised that my labor was less than four hours!

A few days later I was able to bring him to meet my grandma and it was so beautiful to see her holding him. We discovered that the names my husband and I had chosen by chance were the two first names of my grandma’s grandfathers. She took this as a sign that they were waiting for her in heaven.

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Click below for more birth stories!

Birth Story (3)

2 thoughts on “Birth Story #2 – Geneva”

  1. Really beautiful story. I also toyed with having a baby at a hospital due to cost factors, but in retrospect was glad I did not because my baby was 15 days late . . . and that was after some membrane sweeping and pumping to get things going. Oddly enough, that baby was also almost 2 pounds lighter than the one before! Glad that you found a supportive midwife during a difficult time. I always appreciate that my homebirth midwife supports the whole person, not just the birth process.

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  2. I get so frustrated when I read and hear about the hoops that women are made to jump through based on one-size fits all policy with questionable evidence to them even in bettering outcomes for mom and baby. Good for you for pursuing your sense of safety and respect in your birth space.
    I’m so glad your birth turned out so well and that your grandma had that beautiful moment with her great grandchild!

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