Estimated Gestational Age: 40 weeks exactly
5 hours labor, 3 total pushes
7 lbs. 7 oz
Unmedicated, Midwife hospital, 2nd Birth
We decided to have our 2nd child at our local hospital, after having our 1st at a free standing midwife run birth center in Tennessee. We had just moved to a western town, with very open ideas and a long history of midwifery influence. Natural birth and breastfeeding are a fairly normative thing here. We felt confident that the hospital would be both safe and less likely to push unneeded interventions on us. We worked with a well established midwifery practice that practices hospital births. At the time we were also still slightly fearful about home birth or didn’t see it’s benefits. I enjoyed my experience with Southwest Midwives but also found that they did less to help me stay well and healthy and low risk than I had experienced at Lisa Ross Birth and Women’s Center. This frustrated me when I became anemic and when I had regular pregnancy issues. But, overall they were wonderful to work with!
I had a very easy pregnancy that whizzed by. It was slightly eye-opening to go to the required hospital tour and “class” (it was a joke) to see that we were really getting more of a hospital experience than we had before or really intended on. However, we charged ahead because the hospital allowed for the midwives to do water births (in the one tub they had, if you managed to be able to “get it”.)
The day before my due date I lost my mucus plug and felt crampy. I called my parents who lived 8 hours away and told them they might want to come because we all planned for them to take care of our 2 year old while we were at the hospital. They rushed down. It was a cool late April day and I spent most of it rocking in a rocker and playing with Addie. At one point we walked with Tim over to the camp rec room to change lightbulbs and I had to stop walking and just wait the contraction out.
My parents arrived at about 5pm and we ate a quick bite of food before going in to “get checked” by the midwife on call, Mary Louise, a veteran midwife who looked very much the part… half grandmotherly, half hippy with long gray braids. She was awesome! At 6pm I was at 4 cm and they said they would admit me because things were happening.
I managed to get the room with the water birth tub! Thank goodness! It was a busy night at the labor ward. I didn’t get to see my midwife much at all during my birth, which was probably the saddest difference for me between my true midwife assisted 1st birth and this 2nd which felt more like an obstetrical model of care birth. I was handed off to a nice labor nurse who was South African. I remember thinking, “At least her accent is soothing.” She was helpful but busy too. At one point the poor woman next door to me was screaming like a mad woman… I mentioned to my nurse that I felt really bad for her and didn’t she have help. She said that she came in complete, after a fast first labor and they didn’t have time to give her the epidural she had planned on having. It made me so sad she didn’t have options to help her.
Tim and I walked laps around the labor ward… we were the only ones. Everyone else was in bed and I wondered how in the world they could manage to stay put during labor! I’d make a round, go poo and then make another round. Later, I sat on a birth ball or sway by my bed … at some point the nurse check me and I was amazingly at 7cm and she said “I was allowed to get in the tub now…” I thought that was strange… it wasn’t about what I needed, but about arbitrary rules of how far dilated I was. I got in. It only filled half way before the plug would automatically pop up... at that level it wasn’t very effective … or hot enough. But I managed.
My midwife checked on me once. Not quite there. Then my nurse came in, took a hook and with out telling me broke the bag of water. I was watching and was like “Hey! What are you doing?” Then she said, “There’s a bit of meconium in the water… you’ll have to get out” Which there wasn’t at all… (I later found out that the nurses didn’t like to deal with the water births and would often break the water without the midwife's present to claim there was meconium to require the mother to get out, weather or not here was was any in reality). Soon my midwife came in an checked me and I was getting “pushy”. The nurse was insistent that I “had to get out” per hospital requirements. The midwife “allowed” me to have a few more contractions in the water. Then they basically lifted me out of the tub and I thought “I’m going to drop this baby out of my on the way to the bed…” Sharing this with the midwife she hustled me to the bed were I literally pushed two or three times and out shot a much smaller baby than my 1st. It was nothing like pushing with my 1st.
The whole thing was sort of surreal-ly easy in comparison, and perhaps part of the reason I had opportunity to judge and critique the hospital experience. The baby was announced, “It’s a boy!” and he weighed in at a very amiable 7 lbs. 7 oz. 7 gms. We named him Elias Carl after a bit of debate. He as born 20 minutes after 12 am. and really all I wanted was a glass of juice and a goodnights rest with my new baby at that point. But, the hospital had other plans… hearing screening, taking him for a bath (after midnight???) and all manner of requirements!
As I’m getting patched up an orderly (man) walks right in and starts mopping… I asked that he leave, thankfully my midwife demands he come back later… he did, it was when I was trying to nurse my baby for the 1st time. It was just bazaar. My labor nurse says good bye and a my night nurse walks in. She proceeds to wake me up every hour all night long to take my vitals. Finally, I ask her to let me sleep because obviously I’m fine. It wasn’t fun. We try to sleep… Thankfully Elias does sleep and is amazing!
We expect to see our midwife in the morning and a pediatrician and get cleared up and get to go home the next day… my after care nurse tells me “she doesn’t have time to help me take a shower” and I might pass out, so I’d have to wait to bathe after birth until I get home (so, I guess I can pass out alone there???). Lots of people coming in and out and just acting nosey in my opinion. I keep thinking, “Who are you? And why are you in my room?”
Finally, my man tells the next nurse (who was a lot nicer) that we are going to leave by 2 pm and what do we need to do to make that happen… she helps us get out. We drive home… My mom sits and makes sure I don’t pass out while showering… we have a great meal and go to bed and sleep like rocks as Elias only wakes a few times that night.
Personally, it was a slightly annoying experience, but probably an overall IDEAL hospital experience. I was well cared for (other than not being allowed to shower), not pushed into any thing unnecessary, and our overall wishes were respected. It was just different than what I had experienced before and I could feel the difference.
On the way home Tim said, "I think we should have our next baby at home..."