When I first planned my birth, I wanted an empowered homebirth. With my doula, my midwife, a student midwife, my birth photographer and my husband and children present. I wanted a party! I wanted a shot of jacks after birth to celebrate. (I know kinda crazy but I can dream, can’t I?)
That all changed at 36 weeks. My whole pregnancy, I was in the care of one of the most respected midwives. She was a beautiful soul whom I’d worked with frequently in my line of work. We had our first appointment at 16 weeks. I told her my birth plan. We discussed my history of fast labors. And I asked about availability on short notice. She said “if she was available” she would come. And if she wasn’t I had to go to the hospital even though I was planning to birth at home. Red flag number one.
Should I not be a priority as a mother in labor?
We also discussed how I wanted to birth at home, unhindered with intervention only *IF* needed. I told her how I wanted my children present to witness birth and the normality of it… How I wanted to embrace whatever time of day it was. I wanted candles. Lots of candles. I wanted to catch my baby. She proceeded to interrupt me and say, “Children at labors can slow a mamma down. You should have someone readily available to take them at the onset of labor. And candles are a fire hazard with kids (or anyone). No candles. No kids.”
Whhhhaaaaat??? Red flag number two.
I overlooked it. She was right. Candles can be a hazard and I have seen crazier things slow a laboring mamma down. So I subconsciously obliged.
At 22 weeks we had another appointment my bloodwork came back. I was anemic: Borderline cut off for a homebirth. To me, I was far from concerned. This was normal for my pregnancies. My hemoglobin shoots back up around 35 weeks. It would go lower before it went higher. I tried explaining this to her to no avail.
My next appointment I was approached with the glucose test. Which I refused. (No two bodies will digest that drink the same to give accurate results. Body weight, diet, activity, etc. all plays a part in that test.) This was at 28 weeks or so. Plus with my other children 2 under two, no freaking way were they going to sit there quietly for over two hours while I tested. I was constantly rang to take the test each time politely declining. 32 weeks I measured larger than normal. I then realized that I was not being compared to my previous pregnancies, but I had been placed in a pool of statistics.
I was now fighting a losing battle for the birth I wanted.
The following day I got a phone call. My lovely midwife made the appointment for me, on a Saturday stating my husband could watch my children while I took the glucose test and now I had no reason to decline (red flag number 3). I was furious and ready to give up fighting. I unwillingly went for the test against my will- with my homebirth being threatened and held over my head if I didn’t submit.
A few days later, the results came back (bear in mind I was now taking a 28 week test at 32 weeks and the further in pregnancy you get the more of a diabetic state you become). My results came back positive for gestational diabetes. By ONE point.
I asked to retest because the results were SO close. I was refused.
I offered to finger prick for a week to show my levels were fine. Again refused.
I was now classed high risk. And even received my own diabetic association card (woo! *drips with sarcasm*). I was now confined to pricking my finger four times a day and eating “healthier” needing obstetric clearance to have the birth I wanted. I was set up with an OB that same week and I was cleared! I rang my midwife ecstatic.
She sounded SO surprised. I asked what was wrong and when she asked if it was the doctor she set up with and I said no, she stated that clearance didn’t count. What the hell!?
So I set up again with the same original OB. I ended up with a male OB that was not homebirth friendly. I asked how he felt about me birthing at home. He stated he wasn’t a fan and thought it was dangerous and silly, but there was literally NO reason he could even make up to tell me no. So he cleared me on the basis of an ultrasound. I was hesitant. Those are so inaccurate!
Again. I rang my midwife. Saying I had been cleared only to get the same response. It doesn’t count until its with the OB I set up with. I also voiced my concerns about having my homebirth approval being based off of an ultrasound that was horribly wrong for predicting baby weights. I told her I was afraid I would be forced to be induced early because it would be a “big baby” and end up in a section with a little 6 pounder. She said it’s not based on that. I knew it was.
I cried to my husband. I had done everything to please her. Even though it was against my will. I knew my body. My blood tests came back too. My hemoglobin was now under the cut off to birth at home anyway. So it didn’t matter if I got clearance or not. My homebirth dream was dead.
At 36 weeks I took the ultrasound even though I told her I didn’t want to do it unless medically indicated due to the risks associated with multiple ultrasounds. She said it was medically indicated because I had GD….yet I had never measured larger since that first time. There was no indication my baby was “large”. I fought back. And asked what if I don’t go? She said she wouldn’t attend my homebirth. Point blank.
I asked to redo my hemoglobin again. She agreed. My hemoglobin came back about 30 points higher than the previous test putting me back “in the run” for *MY* birth. Problem was, the OB had no opening until I was nearly 38 weeks. I was told if I birthed before then I *had* to go to the hospital. This was my final red flag.
Wait. So I *HAVE* to go to the hospital???
Again, I cried to my husband, this time uncontrollable snotty tears. I couldn’t take the constant back and forth. Homebirth, no hospital, okay homebirth, no you need clearance, this this that… the list seemed like it never ended.
Here I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and I had no idea where I was birthing. I did not feel like a safe and secure birthing mamma. My husband said to me, “Just don’t go. Lets do it here exactly how we want.”
*LIGHTBULB* I have been studying birth, women’s bodies, and babies for years. I was incredibly informed and the fact my husband trusted my wishes and believed in my body as much as I did, we decided that was the best decision for us. I wanted an unobtrusive birth. Unhindered in every way. I wanted to birth like an animal. With my kids running wild around me. Because that’s what my life was. Wild. I wanted my baby to be born in that same wild environment. The same environment he was conceived in. I had been contemplating doing this already, but had been too afraid to tell husband in fear of his reaction. So when HE mentioned it to me, I knew it was right.
At 36 weeks, my husband and I decided to birth without the presence of a midwife.
We planned and prepared. I wondered how the atmosphere of my birth would be affected with my standing feelings for my midwife. I had no option to change. It was her or the hospital. After much much MUCH deliberation, I decided it was best for me to protect my birth space.
A week later after 45 minutes of labor, our little darling was in our arms. With my littlest watching and riding his scooter around me. It was the most glorious and orgasmic experience. EVER. It was truly a pain free birth unlike my other two hospital births.
I did end up getting clearance from the OB to birth at home. I knew I would. But by that time, my trust had been lost when an appointment was made without my consent. When I stated my birth plan at 16 weeks and it was shit on. What vibe was I allowing into my birth space by ringing her?
Birth is not about seeking the approval of your birth team. It’s about having the birth team support your birthing plans and choices. And that is exactly what I did.
I am not saying freebirth is for everyone and you should do it. Goodness no. I am saying that it is fully within your God given right to protect your birth space and have the birth you want. And when you don’t have the support, find new support. Having just me and my husband and children present was the most intimate experience I have ever had. Catching my own baby. Pure bliss. Take charge of your rights and your choices, women. Whether it be hospital, a long desired VBAC or a VBB.
Our bodies are made for this and we are all simply #variationsofnormal.