Sisters In Birth- How One Sister's C-Section Led To Another Sister's Home Birth

This story illustrates how the impetus to have a home birth for many women has nothing to do with what celebrities are doing, and everything to do with how women are treated in the hospital.  A tale of two sisters-

Enjoy-

Sisters and birth- Finnigin's (and Ozius's) Birth story

Before I can write my birth story for Finnigin I guess I need to write a pregnancy story. My story is so tangled in my sister's story.I found out I was pregnant with my third child when my younger sister, Merissa was at the end of her pregnancy with her first. (Yay! hand-me-down maternity clothes!) 
She had decided to go the traditional route and have a hospital/ OB birth. I had always wanted to have a midwife and a homebirth but I guess I was scared of going outside the box of 'norm'. My Aunt had had all of her children at home including a set of twins, who weighed in at 6lbs 9 oz and 6lbs 11 oz! (My preemie daughter had weighed 6lbs 10 oz) but my Mom had had me and my 3 siblings in the hospital.

My sister Merissa 41 weeks
Merissa had actually gone to her first prenatal visit and realized that HER Dr. Williams was the same Dr. Williams that had delivered all of us back in the 80s (I can't make this kind of stuff up). 
She really liked her and was comforted by the fact that she was a very experienced Dr. and we knew that she had delivered my brother breech vaginally, which even then was uncommon. My sisters biggest fear was having a c-section (who ISN'T afraid of a c-section??) so she felt more comfortable knowing Dr. Williams was a veteran.

I was about eight weeks along when my sister went into labor. She was a week and a half past her due date and big as a house. After having contractions all night Saturday night she headed to the hospital about noon. Dr. Williams wasn't there and wouldn't be expected until the next day. 
She was about 4 cm dilated and the first thing they did was break her water. My sister had been there less than four hours when the Dr. started talking about a c-section. We were all very much against that, which seemed to piss the Dr. off. The Dr. was horribly mean so of course the nurses followed suite. A little back story: My sister has severe anxiety and had been off her med through her entire pregnancy, so I think the mere mention of the word 'c-section' stopped her labor dead in it's tracks. 
We mentioned this to the doctor,my mother and I, rather forcefully (I guess bitchy would be more accurate) which really incensed her. My sister had been adamant that she didn't want pain meds either. I went med free with my first son and knew from experience how hard it was to get the nurses AND  doctors to respect those wishes, and it was no different for Merissa. A c-section looked more and more eminent.

I had to finally go home and take care of my two older kids. I wanted to go back but it was REALLY hitting me because my sister's fear was my fear. My Mom stayed with her while she labored all night. After telling the doctor off, she pretty much left Merissa alone. In a bed. By herself. ALL night. 
The doctor told her she wasn't allowed to get up, and told the nurses she couldn't have anymore ice chips. I really feel like the doctor was trying to punish Merissa. She wasn't fitting into the hospitals 'plans". The next day Dr. Williams finally got there but Merissa was exhausted. She was stalled at 9 1/2 cm, hadn't eaten in over 24 hours and was starting to get delirious.

My beautiful nephew was born via emergency c-section Monday afternoon weighing in at 10lbs 3 oz.

Me 41 weeks

......Oh yeah this was supposed to be My birth story LOL


I hurt so bad for my sister. I knew, KNEW that she could have done it. The doctor totally sabotaged her labor....but sadly that is a typical hospital birth. I still hadn't had my first prenatal visit and at 13 weeks finally MADE myself see an OBGYN. 
She was nice, the staff was nice, I HATED it!  It felt like the hospital. I never went back. My mom was disapproving about finding a midwife "Just go to the doctor like EVERYONE else." I started scouring the internet LOOKING. As I was looking I stumbled upon Multiple Blessings, a midwife who had helped deliver lots of twins, named Robin. She made me think about my aunt SO much, so I took this as the sign I needed and sent an email.

I know I must have sounded like a nervous wreck when we talked on the phone. Robin was SO reassuring. She soothed my fears like nothing else had. I was amazed that she came to my house for each prenatal visit.( 'You mean I don' have to leave my house?!") I had had high blood pressure with my first pregnancy and delivered at 36 weeks, so that was always an issue. 
I learned so much about pregnancy being cared for by Robin. You would think that I would know all of this since I had two babies before this but doctors don't seem interested in educating their patients. The weeks went by and we developed a great relationship. Her student midwives, Jean and Heather would practice determining the baby's position on me (being a guinea pig is fun! lol) And my appointments felt like visiting with friends, not the emotional ordeal that doctors visits had been in the past.

My due date came and went. We looked back at my dates and figured out that my Oct. 8th due date was probably more like Oct. 15th. There is NOTHING more horrible than being 40 weeks pregnant and being told, Nope you have maybe 3 more weeks to go. Uhhhg I was miserable trying to take care of my kids and house. Getting my son on the bus was almost impossible.
A 50lb 4 year old with autism and a hugely pregnant Mommy who can't pick him up or chase after him don't mix well! :( My wonderful sister would bring the baby over and I would hold him while she got Emerson on the bus, or more accurately carried him to the bus while he threw an atomic meltdown because school was "YUCKEEEEEEYYYYY!" I don't know what I would have done with out her!

Okay now, after that novel of a back-story on to the birth story!

On Friday,almost a week after my 'new' due date, Robin checked me to see how my cervix was doing. 75% effaced and 1/2 cm dilated. I could CRY! (I think I did) So we were going to wait and see what happened over the weekend. After my appointment Merissa and I met our Mom for lunch. 
I started having some good contractions while we were out but nothing too regular. In my head I kept thinking maybe tonight. It's got to be soon." ....YEEAAAH, I don't know why I was giving myself false hope. lol The contractions continued on like this ALL. Damn. Weekend. 8-10 minutes apart for 4 hours, then every hour, then nothing, and then start right back up again. I called Robin every time any little thing changed, bless her heart.

My husband works a rotating shift and he was starting up on the night shift Monday night. I was nervous to be alone with the kids in case business started happening. Monday night around 12:30 (Tuesday morning?) I called Robin because the contractions were getting more regular and intense. When she got to my house, she checked and I was fully effaced but only dilated to maybe a 2 1/2. (I could cry AGAIN) She had me take some Benadryl and said that was a good way to see if this was real labor or not. If it was the real deal then the contractions would continue and if not then I could at least get some sleep. She went home to get some sleep of her own and said to call back later with an update.

Well they continued to get more regular and intense I started walking around the living room. My couch is in the middle of the room so I just kept walking around and around. That afternoon Robin, Jean and Heather showed back up and we got down to the important business of waiting, again, more. ...waiting...

When Robin checked me again I think I was close to 6 cm dilated, which was progress but felt like not enough since I had been in labor since Friday and this was nearing Tuesday EVENING. Around and around that couch. Around and around. Everyone was just sitting, chatting, my kind of gathering. 
My mom made a plate of fruit and cheese and every time I came around I would grab something. A bite of a strawberry, or pop a grape in my mouth. Every so often Robin would ask "Have you had a drink of water recently?" or  'When was the last time you peed?" I added a glass of water to my orbital path around the couch and made sure to yell it out every time I went to the bathroom(which was maybe every 10 minutes) TMI has no place when you are having a baby.

Jean asked if I need anything and what I really needed was a distraction. So out came the mad libs! Hilarious and sort of a mistake because it hurts to laugh during a contraction, but who CAN"T laugh during mad libs?? Very diverting. ;)

At this point I had not been left alone for even a second and felt very well taken care of. Finally Merissa showed up. She had been dealing with the children and had to wait for someone to take over before she could come. 
I instinctively knew she had to be there for the birth. My Mom had been there for my first two hospital births but with Merissa's HORRIBLE, traumatizing experience I knew I wanted her to be with me. I mean it was her experience that had given my the push to look for something different. Something better. (hehe, push)

I think I must have relaxed a little after Merissa got there because everything started to happen all at one. I went to the bathroom and as I was sitting there, I hear, and feel this loud POP. (I think it was just in my head) Finally, my water had broken! By then another midwife, Joy, had arrived and I called for Robin. They both came and checked to make sure the water didn't have any meconium in it. As the next contraction came It was excruciating! It was time.

Heather and Jean had set up the birthing chair in my room, so Robin and Joy helped me get there. The birthing chair looks like a metal frame with a pink pool noodle on it for comfort. It was the best! As soon as I was on it I started pushing. I had a death grip on my sister's hand. She was counting and rubbing my back, just like I had done for her in the hospital all those months before.  I think I was was on that chair for a total of 2-3 contractions and then, there is my sweet boy! 8lbs 14oz 22 inches long! It's not 10lbs 3 oz but that's still a pretty hefty baby!
Mind you it had been a mere EIGHT minutes since my water had broken. I held him until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing. All of us crying( my husband was there too, did I forget to mention that? lol) 
Later my sister told me that being there, watching me have my baby in the MOST natural way, was like a healing balm to her memories of her horrible birth experience. Those two were her only reference of birth and they couldn't have been more night and day! Hope is the word. 
I could get on my soap box and preach the poor treatment of women in the hospital system but I think my experience speaks for it's self. When people hear that I had a home birth the most common reaction is "Wow, you're BRAVE!" I don't think so. I think my sister is far more brave than me to have gone through what she has.....
Finnigin
Ozius

Comments

chloe said…
What a great story, thanks for sharing it! I'm so sorry for your poor sister, some doctors in hospitals treat labouring women as little more than cattle to be processed, completely inhumane. My third is due in March, my second home birth, which I have been dreading even though my last labour was only 2 hours and very easy really....

My first experience started off as a home birth but ended up in hospital with patronising doctors, epidural, crowds of people at the birth and threats of C sections (even up to the point where we'd almost agreed to it when they realised I was fully dilated... idiots) I would NEVER choose to be in a hospital or advise anyone else to be.

Your birth story has given me courage! What a blissful way to bring a child into the world, surrounded by love and warmth :)
The Quinns said…
Great story! As the big sister in a family of three girls, (with two girls of my own), I love a sister story! It's so crazy that you posted this one today bc I just spent Wednesday night with my middle sister in from out of town for my birthday. Over a couple of glasses of wine I told her about my unresolved discontent with my two c/s and how hard it's been to move past the feeling of missing out on what my births should have been. I was so uneducated about natural birth which totally contributed to my c/s and cause a lot of guilt for me bc if I had known better then maybe things would have been different. I told my sister I will try very hard to not be a bossy bitch when/if she decides to have children but that I WILL be making sure she is far better prepared and educated than I was. She promised to tell me to back off if I started living vicariously through her! But also said maybe a good thing to come from my bad experiences (other than my precious girls!) can be that I can help her achieve the birth she wants as support and a cautionary tale if nothing else!
Again, wonderful story with two mama's who should be very proud of their own individual struggles and very lucky to have such supportive sisters!
Seili Wennam said…
Mama Birth, I know you won't post this comment, but maybe it will reach your heart...someday.

Does a story like this deserved to be told? YES!

But it is only one part of circle.

Why don't you share stories of women whose babies have died during homebirths because of bad care and other circumstances? Why do you only share stories of outrage over medical interventions?

Can you not see how off balance this is? And women deserve to know more...they deserve to hear all the stories. Do you do it as an agenda or do you feel you are helping women? I hope the latter, but I hope you will see that something is missing. You may feel that you are only representing a small handful of women, but it is growing and you and those like you are some of their major sources of information. On the internet, women like me are a minority and that is why we want everyone to hear the other side. I would love for them hear all sides instead of having it manipulated away from them.

I wish it could all be told without fear of threat or influencing people poorly. If fear of medical interventions can be dealt with than fear of other bad outcomes should also be addressed.