Midwife at Home
After Charissa, I knew I wanted something dramatically different. We had moved from Colorado to Oklahoma and now lived much closer to a hospital. I had always hoped for a home birth after watching my Mom have my little brother aided by a midwife. She still says that in all her 11 births, his was the best and easiest. Even at age 14, I had loved how personal, relaxed and “organic” it felt. I wanted that.
How I Prepared
Their were no midwives living in our area but there were two that I served our area - both had practices over an hour away. After reading up on their credentials, I decided to go with the midwife I had seen almost two years before about my extensive scarring. Ruth is both a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) and a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) with further training as an EMT. I had liked her when I saw her the first time and appreciated her credentials. At the time, she did not have a birth center.
This time around, I decided not to do much reading. We also did not take a birth class. I had over-read with Charissa and felt completely at ease with a home birth, the midwife I had chosen, and the plan B for if I needed hospital care. I read encouraging home birth stories which are available all over the internet and watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born”. I also asked my midwife about water births and decided I would like to give birth in the enormous garden tub we had in our bathroom. A water birth sounded amazingly relaxing.
The drive to my midwife was almost 2 hours. Ruth was the one I saw every visit and she was the one to weigh me, ask questions, etc. I had at least ½ an hour with her each time which would occasionally extend to an hour when I would talk about my life, how I really was feeling, shed some hormonal tears, and be encouraged by a female pep squad. Her midwife apprentice and certified doula would often be there as well, writing things down and measuring my tummy. Charissa would come and play on the carpet beside me.
The drive to my midwife was almost 2 hours, which wasn't my favorite. I had to travel for this birth choice. As I neared my due date, Ruth came to my house for one of my visits. Some midwives will do more home visits than others.
I had four cervical exams total in my postnatal care before labor. The first was around 12 weeks to check the previous scar tissue. The second was at 35 weeks when I was tested for Group B Strep. The third was at 38 weeks when I was getting antsy and asked to see if I was dilated to a three like I had with Charissa (I was). The fourth exam was on my due date when I asked her to strip my membranes. I was so thankful that a visit did not mean stripping down.
There was initial blood work, my gestational diabetes test and ultrasound that were done at a different lab.
I tested positive for Group B Strep (a test done by my midwife). She gave me a couple options for treatment and discussed them with me. I could do nothing, a HIPA cleanse, a round of antibiotics, or both. I decided on the wash.
While I was pregnant, I asked Charissa’s pediatrician if she would care for Brandt once he was born and she agreed. The pediatrician’s husband was a DO, Family Prac/OB/GYN. I went to him for a horrible double ear infection in my third trimester and asked to have him listed as our family practitioner. In case I did need hospital care, I had a doctor I liked.
I wrote about Brandt's lovely, fast birth here.
Being right there in my house was wonderful. Brandt didn’t leave my arms for the first hour. We were able to just sit and adore him. The infant assessment was given right there on the bed beside me and every step was explained. Charlee (the midwife that ended up helping me) had to leave an hour later (another lady was in labor!). Brandt’s body temp was low so she gave me a thermometer to check him regularly and encouraged skin-to-skin. My follow-up prenatal was a home visit by Ruth so I didn’t have to take my brand new baby on a drive to the hospital. She was excited to see Brandt, hold him and chat with me. My Mom stayed for a week afterward. She kept us clean, fed and adored. It was wonderful to have her. At two weeks, I took Brandt to the pediatrician for his circumcision. I did not have him vaccinate until he turned one.
Priorities of the Home Birth
1) Me! From the very beginning, I was in charge. I was nurtured and supported by my midwife and staff in my decisions and overall well being. I received personal care both physically and emotionally. I was given a variety of options and encouraged to make my own decision. During labor, it was about what made me most comfortable. My fear of pushing was noticed and taken into considering by my midwife. Placing Brandt in my arms as his sole caregiver was so empowering. The “expert” believed I was capable of this!
2) Baby. Mr. Brandt was monitored throughout my labor – no need of a big strap around my waist. His care was in the hands of me from the moment he drew breath.
3) Family. Doug, my Mom and Angie were all welcome and encouraged to take as active a role as they desired.
I wouldn’t even list the midwife herself as a priority. Money was paid but it wasn’t a priority either.
How I Would Have Done it Differently
There is nothing I would change. It would have been nice to have a midwife closer, have Ruth attend and have a water birth but with all circumstances what they were, everything was fabulous.
There is no comparison between my hospital birth and home birth. Even if I’d had a glowing experience with the hospital, I do not see how the personal care, flexibility, support and peaceful atmosphere could be reciprocated. I knew a home birth would be better than the hospital but I didn’t think it would be THAT good.
Brandt was my second baby so I was a bit more prepared through the school of hard knocks. But, I also had a support in my midwife that made me feel uplifted as a mother, not intimidated or unintelligent. I was treated as the expert of my body and the mother of my child. My questions were answered with information to make my own decisions. As I held Brandt in my arms, I realized my fear of birth had been removed and in its place was love, joy, awe and celebration at what God has made it.
*****A note on finances: All together, we paid the midwife around $3,000 for all prenatal/postnatal care and the birth. We chose to have an ultrasound which was, blessedly, only $100. I also paid for all my blood work which amounted to around $300. Brandt’s circumcision was about $400. We had health care but no maternity since, doing the math, it would cost more paying the monthly maternity premium for the required amount of time before pregnancy (a year) and during pregnancy, than it would cost to pay everything!