April 30, 2012

Defining Moments - Sharon

Our last mom in our series, Sharon, has experienced both a home and a hospital birth. However, unlike some of the women previously featured, her home birth experience came before her hospital one. The second time around there were complications. But, she worked to make the experience a positive one, taking as much control as she could over her labor and delivery...

What were your plans for the delivery of your first child? 
I had planned to delivery in the hospital and was willing to submit to any medical requirements needed. I then educated myself through birthing classes and books and changed to a home birth.

What did an ideal birth look like for you? 
Once I realized that pregnancy shouldn't be treated like a disease and there was no reason to fear being at home, the ideal birth for me meant enjoying the comforts of home, with my husband by my side. With the education I was now armed with it was important that I be

What factors influenced the decisions you made concerning your delivery? 
Learning the truths about epidurals, inductions and the domino effects that potentially can happen. 

Tell me a bit about your actual birth experience... 
My birthing experience started on the Saturday before my daughter was born. My midwife had come to our house for a check up as I was now considered overdue so she was nice enough to come to us. As she pulled in the driveway and I went out to greet her my water broke, there was no question too that it had been my water. So we made our way to our bedroom just to be sure fluids were clear and follow through with the regular "overdue checks." 

Once all that was complete she assured me I would go into labour within say 24 hrs. So we waited!!!! We walked, we ate, watched TV etc. but no contractions. I was a prisoner really at this point because daughter decided she was fine where she was and didn't drop down, so the fluid just kept coming. Every time I stood up it was large gushes, enough that we had to set up tarps between me and the bathroom. The midwives checked on me every few hours but still no contractions. All the while of course "induction and transfer of care" is being held over my head. 

On Sunday night the midwives changed and we had someone new. I said I wanted to keep waiting and how long before they felt I "had" to agree to be induced. The new midwife said she was comfortable letting me continue for as long as I wanted. She did however highly recommend a non-stress test at this point just for everyone's peace of mind. At that test (which was of course in the hospital... and I had to conceal the fact my water was broken) We discussed some of the natural induction methods. She said try everything (except sex). We specifically discussed the right way to take castor oil so it is effective and I agreed if I was going to do it I would wait till morning. 

So Monday morning (4am) after little to no sleep, my unborn daughter and I decided castor oil was going to be the best bet because I couldn't take it any more. So in a delicious chocolate milkshake I added the bottle of castor oil. I then fell asleep on the couch and at 7am was awoken by stomach pain. In case people don't know the reason castor oil works is because it "clears you out" causing contractions in your bowels, which sit behind the uterus. The idea is that it kick starts the uterus to contract. 

After that ordeal I was watching TV and noticed what I could only assume were contractions. After timing them for about an hour I woke my husband up and said we were on our way. We contacted the midwives and they came to ensure it was in fact labour. After they confirmed yes, they left us (9am) to labour and said they would return in a few hours unless it progressed then we were to call them. Around 11am I begged my husband to call them as it was getting really intense. They came back and checked me and I was 5cm. They at this point began to set up shop.

For whatever ridiculous reason I decided I liked labouring at the side of the tub in my bathroom (the smallest room in the house). But we made it work. Around 1:30 (I think) they announced I was 10cm and could finally push (despite the fact I had been pushing uncontrollably for about an hour before that). I was moved to my bed and found a comfortable position on all fours with my husband close and supportive. It was approximately 2 1/2 hours later after the start of pushing my daughter finally made her debut. After some minor suctioning all was good and we had our daughter in our arms. I myself ended up with a 3rd degree tear, and also couldn't pee but with being able to get some really good sleep by morning all was okay and I could pee.

How did that experience shape any future births/birth plans you may have had? 
I knew that my next birth had to again be at home, the comfort of my own home kept me calm. However my next birth was in a hospital and I believe it was the universe telling me I needed to experience the hospital birth I ran from the first time.

Have you ever felt judged for the way you gave birth? 
Within my circle of mom friends there was no judgment. Acquaintances and some family members like to give me the "are you nuts" speech. People's faces always tell you everything - judgment always shows even when they don't actually say anything. Still four years later when I mention home birth women around me look so shocked.

Why did your next birth experience take place in a hospital, and how did it compare to your first?
My second pregnancy I was measuring over by approximately three weeks which prompted a request that I have an ultrasound to check the baby and my fluid levels. After the u/s it was determined that I had too much fluid (polyhydramnios). Because of the excess fluid and I had declined the gestational diabetes (GD) testing, I was immediately requested to have an OB visit.

I informed the OB that my plan was to have another home birth and was quickly told that wouldn't be happening. I was now "high risk" and would require an induction they just didn't know when.  They also said because I hadn't had the GD testing they had to treat me as if I had it because I had all the "symptoms" of it. This of course did not go down without a fight. I tried coming at it from every angle but was on the "induction train" and was never allowed off. In the end I was induced and had a very successful induction with no epidural and the ability to labour entirely up and out of bed.   

The biggest difference for me was having to deal with all the extra appointments, being treated like I was going to die and the OB and nurses were the only ones who could save me. I would say my OB was actually pretty good but held not having the GD testing over my head every visit. The nurses at our local hospital are a crap shoot really, some are really good and others not so much. I had very negative nurses leading up to induction day and then ended up with an amazing nurse the day of. I worked her hard as she hadn't ever had an induction patient labour out of bed. 

Having to labour with IVs, BP cuff, heart rate monitors, hard floors, and close quarters (we had the smallest room and the largest team - doula, midwife, husband, nurses and me!!!) made it all the more challenging given my first experience when I had total freedom. I think although I much more enjoy having the comforts of home (shower, clothes, bed etc) I made the system work for me and made the best of a situation I hadn't anticipated.

I'm glad you were able to make the best of the situation, Sharon. Thank you for sharing both of your experiences with us as part of our series.

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