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I typically don’t like to cross my birth blog with this one, but this issue is close to my heart as a mama, and I think it is a crucial one to think about as a country.  What is motivating the opposing sides on this issue, and what can a constructive dialogue look like between the two?  It is important to our discussion on improving our maternal and neonatal outcomes in this country.  There is no excuse that we, who supposedly has top-notch medical care available to all citizens, has such a poor outcome for our mother and babies.  No excuse at all.

Is Homebirth a Safe Option? – Birth True Blog

I was a victim of an unnecessary c-section in August 2005 as was my first born little girl.  We have suffered the consequences of that event in both our physical and emotional health.  Since that time, I have been an advocate for pregnant and birthing mothers and their right to chose a practitioner and healthcare model that will provide them with the safest outcome.

For my second birth, I chose to birth at home.  In the state of Kentucky, as with many states in our country, it is illegal for any midwife certified or not to attend a homebirth.  It is not illegal for a mother to chose homebirth and/or deliver her baby at home.  Unfortunately, in order to serve women and provide them with the option of a safe birthing environment our midwives are often putting their own personal lives at risk of prosecution.  It is shameful that a trained professional cannot offer their services to a paying and educated client.  It is a shame that if needed doctors and hospitals are not supportive of these midwives.

Why do I feel this way?  The c-section rate in the United States stands at 31.8% of all births.  The state of Kentucky stands at 34.6%.  The World Health Organization recommends a rate of between 10-15% nationwide for the safety of both mothers and their babies, and believes that over half of all c-sections performed in the United States are unnecessary.  That means that doctors are performing surgeries on women for no other reason than speculations, convenience of both mother and doctor (they don’t have to wait on labor), and the spiraling out of control of labor inductions and augmentation.  What doctors often fail to tell women is that a c-section is considered a major abdominal surgery.  The mortality rate in the US for mothers is also alarming.

It is an outrage that in a country where we are supposedly medically advanced that obstetricians and the companies that insure them are ignoring the fact that a woman is more likely to have a successful vaginal birth and/or natural birth under the care of the midwifery model at a location where the mother feels safe.  It is upsetting that they ignore the fact that a vaginal birth after c-section is safer than a repeat surgery.  It is shameful that trained and educated midwives can’t provide their services to women without the risk of prosecution.

This needs to be changed!  As women we should insist that our births shouldn’t be looked at as dollar signs or illnesses but one of the biggest events of the lives of the baby and its family.  We deserve to be treated holistically and ethically.  Yes, hospitals are great, as are obstetricians, when a medical emergency arises, but when choosing doctors who are trained to respond to emergencies it makes us subject to them viewing our pregnancies as an illness to be treated rather than a fact of life to be supported.

What can we do?  Tomorrow May 21st there will be a DC birth briefing on Capital Hill.  Let your congress people know that you support midwives and a woman’s option to chose homebirth. Tell 10 friends to do the same.  Visit The Big Push for Midwives to find out more.  In the state of Kentucky, visit The Kentucky Midwifery Taskforce to find out how you can help.

My second birth was attended by a homebirth midwife who gave me the best healthcare I have ever received in my life.  Ultimately, she had to transfer me to the hospital where I eventually recieved another c-section.  A necessary one this time.  The doctor performing the c-section badmouthed midwives to me while he was removing my baby from my womb.  At no time were either myself or my baby in any danger under the care of my midwife.  That doctor was unprofessional and condescending at a time when I needed his expertise to have a healthy birth.  But, it was inconveniencing him.  How did my midwife respond to my needing a doctor’s services?  By recognizing within a healthy time frame that my birth was not proceeding normally and was one she needed a doctor’s assistance with, and trusting that that doctor would take good care of me.  She never left me alone.  She talked to me while I grieved the choice I was having to make and assured me that I was making the right decision for myself and my baby.  Now, tell me who is professional and offered the best healthcare.

Today is Ivy Pearl’s birthday.  Actually, 2:12am this morning was.  She is officially 1 year today.  I am officially no longer the mother of an infant.  I approach this day with celebration and trepidation.  I am so happy to have a healthy, rambunctious little girl who is full of fight and fun.  I am excited about her being a toddler.  Even more excited about not having a big birthday bash for her like we tried with Deladis for the last three years.  We are having a simple celebration with just the four of us.  I’m going to make peanut butter balls for an after dinner treat.  We had a chocolate cake that I made at mom’s for them to eat.  Ivy didn’t like cake.

At first she thought it looked like fun!

At first she thought it looked like fun!

I am apprehensive about my feelings surrounding her birth.  It was this time last year that my water broke with no labor.  Then, I went through every stage of labor, but didn’t dilate.  It was this time last year that I waited for nearly 2 days to birth triumphantly, and birthed through cesarean a second time.  I am not actively grieving anymore, but I am still full of fire about spreading the word on cesarean births.  I tried a separate blog for that, but it didn’t seem to be working.  I am planning to include a few posts in the next few weeks on the topic here.  I can say that I feel having homebirth as a viable legal option should be a mainstay in every state.  Homebirth midwives are birth heroes in my eyes, and the reason that Ivy’s birth was as good as it was.

I am also sad that I will never have the chance at VBAC again.  It’s not that I want to parent another child, nor is it that I don’t.  I simply don’t believe it is right for me, right now.  I will never know how it feels to birth fully – birth true.  I’ve come to terms with that, but it doesn’t take away the desire to know the feeling.

I look at Ivy today and am happy for her and me.  We came through a year’s journey that was full and fulfilling.  I look at Ivy today and I am glad we are back in our holler, together as a family.  My girls make home a very unlonely place.  I look at Ivy today and I see her potential.  Full of spunk, spark – life.  I wonder what she will be.  I wonder who I will be when I look into a woman’s eyes and see my baby Ivy in there.  Happy Birthday Ivy Pearl.

Ivy Pearl: born 11 pounds – 22 inches (The journey began at 5pm on April 26th and ended at 2:12am April 28th.)

Birthday

Birthday

Ivy Pearl: Birthday + 1 – 19 pounds and 30 inches

ivy-b-day

I’ve been working on a collection of ten short stories themed around birth and early infancy in the Kentucky mountains. All the characters are healing, coping, dealing, grieving, rejoicing, and pondering the situations surrounding the birth of a child. Fiction writing is my passion, and ultimately what I hope will become the permanent gig for the rest of my life. I am nearly finished with the collection and am in the process of submitting the individual stories to literary magazines that I enjoy reading.

What I didn’t consider when I started this collection was the outcome it would have on my emotional health. I know many people look to writing as therapy. Healing through getting it all written out. Writing a letter and burning it and all that jazz. I never did really. I looked to it as more of an escape. Except upon the near completion of this collection, I realized that writing it has brought me to a point of acceptance. Accepting the experiences of my own births.

Ro was born at 38 weeks. I had had a wonderfully healthy pregnancy. I gained only 35 pounds. I exercised throughout the entire pregnancy and worked as a teacher. I had written a birth plan for a natural vaginal birth believing that having chosen a practice of all women that that was very likely for me. I had never been in a hospital as a patient. At 38 weeks and after 7 ultrasounds the doctors convinced me, through scare tactics, that attempting a vaginal birth would endanger the health of my baby in tremendous ways. They told me she was upwards of 10 pounds and my pelvis would not accommodate her. I begged for another option, but they gave me a list of bad outcomes. I, crying reluctantly, signed the waiver and had a c-section without experiencing labor. My baby was 8 lbs. 13 oz. We both experienced health problems after the surgery and stayed in the hospital 5 days.


I began grieving this birth immediately. I felt Ro and I had been betrayed by not even being offered the chance to try. I felt as if we had been reduced to a number and an obstacle in the way of the OB’s chance to go home early. I got angry. I was happy to have my baby, but I felt sorry that she was jerked from me before she was ready.

Even though it was never my intention to have more than one child, I started wanting another. I rationalized about how it would be good for Ro to have a sibling (I still believe it is), but the real reason was I wanted another chance. I struggled with getting pregnant again, but I found myself with child in August 2007. I chose to VBAC and to do that at home with an awesome direct entry midwife. I did everything she told me to do. I immersed myself in the world of VBAC and natural childbirth. I learned the anatomy and physiology. I prayed. I took Bradley classes, got chiropractic care, and hired a wonderful doula. At 41 weeks 6 days (April 26th) my water broke in a flood in a restaurant before the onset of labor. My baby was posterior with a cocked head. Her cord was wrapped around her arm several times. After finally laboring intensely for many hours, transitioning, but not dilating, I was transferred to the hospital where eventually I had to agree to another c-section (April 28th) due to health concerns. Plo was 11 pounds. I am so thankful for the experience of natural labor, my midwife and doula who gave me the best possible care I could have received, a healthy baby, being respected and treated like somebody, and for being given a chance. But, I always wondered why the circumstances didn’t line up for the kind achievement I had so longed for.

I could not imagine having another baby at this point. I know if I ever found myself pregnant again, I would chose VBAC and homebirth. I was left a bit jaded, and envious of those who had been able to do what they were created to do – birth without assistance.

When I started my collection, I wanted to visit birth in the mountains throughout history and the present because that is all I could think about. I chose to write about the most triumphant situations, the most devastating, and everything in between. I explored the feelings of both men and women living with their choices, and the outcomes of births that effected them directly. I stayed with them through tears of joy and immense pain. Not running out the door with jealousy, hurt, or anger. I wrote it as real as I could get. As in your face truth of birth. All of the stories, no matter the result, were worthy of words.

Now, that I am coming out on the other side, I am realizing that my births are stories worth sharing as well. That my experience is part of a larger collective of women who have experienced it all. That the experiences were what they were and there is nothing I can do to change it, and that the only way to live with it is to embrace it. Not to say “oh, well”, but to live with the test, the history, the experience that is the reality of birth.

I have found myself in many ways healed. Healed of the constant dwelling. Embracing a new found appreciation for pregnancy, birthing, and the amazing capabilities of a woman’s body. I have found myself more present in the moment. Not revisiting my births, but trying to grow in mothering my beautiful girls. I’m thankful that God put me here with the desire to write, and heal through the process of it.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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