Hi everyone out there. My name is Amber and I am a college educated stay at home mom from North County San Diego(San marcos) Ca. I am writing my first ever Blog to tell you of my midwife led homebirth experience that went terribly wrong. I write this only to tell the "other side". This type of story was not out on the internet when I chose to Birth at home and is still not one of the first 10 popup ups on the net. My hope is that someone considering a home birth will read this and become as informed as possible to be the strongest advocate possible for themselves and their baby. I want to be clear that I support the ideas behind midwifery and natural childbirth and that I liked my midwife as a person. While I feel she made some critical errors in judgement, my goal is not persecute but to educate.
My first child was born at a hospital that used midwives and doctors in a team approach, I loved their philosophy. I ended up with a three day labor that involved a OBGYN I had had negative run-ins with, he had no bedside manner at all. I also had many typical invasive procedures that come standard with hospital deliveries in the U.S. I had an Epidural( but still was very uncomfortable) Pitocin for a non progressive labor, stripping of membranes, and an episiotomy. But at the end of the day I had a healthy baby boy.
With my next pregnancy I was searching for something more.I really wanted to be the best mom I coud be and have the best birth experience possible. I knew that I didn't want to take drugs this time, if that was at all possible. I wanted to have a water birth for the natural pain relief of warm water. I took hypnobirthing classes that I enjoyed that supported natural childbirth.
To achieve my water birth I had limited options . We had HMO insurance which does not cover home birthing. I could drive to a birth center 45 minutes away, i could take my chances on a hospital that has tubs(that they rarely let people use), or I could hire a midwife and birth at home. My choice was pretty easy. I had done my research(having read dozens of articles) all of which state that a pregnancy with no prexisiting complications was not only as safe as birthing at a hospital but potentially more safe and less harmful for the baby and me! The Out of pocket cost($4,500.00) was not easy to come up with but seemed a fair price to be able to deliver safely in the comfort of my home.
I found a local team of midwives and chose the first one I interviewed. She had a masters in nursing along with being a certified midwife. My experience was much warmer and almost etheral feeling compared to my prenatal care with an obgyn. One thing I found interesting was that the midwives did not routinely use ultrasound to determine positioning of the baby. If I wanted an ultrasound I was told I could drive to sandiego and pay our of pocket for one as I was no longer under a physicians care. Instead, they would palpate my abdomen to determine the position It always took a while and seemed like a guess as to the position. As I got closer to term(at 39weeks) I started to take homeopathic labor "encouragers" because if I went overdue I would have to drive far and pay out of pocket for non-stress tests. So a couple days before my due date I started to dilate. On my due date I measured 4-5cm dilated and after trying some stronger "homeopathic" inducers and with no progress, we mutually decided to break my bag of water. We were all set up at home by now, my husband was with me , and we were set up for a dream birth in the water. (I am getting flushed and nauseus now as I relive this moment) When my bag of water was broken, there was a look of total shock on Angel's face. She asked for her partner to come examine me and confim that the baby was full face presentation and transverse. They went to talk to each other for a minute and came back to tell me that while it would be a more difficuly labor, it was stil completely safe to do at home. But we now could not deliver in the water, because the baby might aspirate the water. So there we were, concerned, but we trusted these women and they gave us no cause for concern, so we did as we were advised. Because of the hypnobirthing i was able to stay very calm over the next few hours, even though i was in excruciating pain. I only attributed the pain as normal child birth pains, as I had had an epidural with my firstborn. I was stuck between 8-9 cm for about an hour when the baby released meconium and then we were told that we needed to transport to the hospital. We didn't want to wait for an ambulance, so my husband drove me there.(very fast!) when I arrived it seemed like an eternity before they had me on a table with a doctor present( It was about twenty minutes). In the mean time all of the nurses were in an uproar over the midwife that had tried to deliver a face presentation at home. In all of their opinions, it was completely unsafe. Aterwards I did research about "full face presentation deliveries" and most doctors indicated a ceasarian section was called for. When the doctor checked me I was 10cm and I needed to push the baby out. I got my natural (no drugs) childbirth.After two pushes the doctor gave me a full episiotemy to ease the pressure on the baby's(her name is Jewel) face. Her eyes and mouth were swollen to three times the normal size. But she came out and her apgars were good and she had not aspirated any meconium. We were all okay and so very happy. My midwife came by to see how we were and everything seenmed fine. About 10 hours after Jewel was born one of her legs started rhythmically flexing. She also started having bouts where she would tense up hold her breath and would turn blue. These symptoms happened for about six hours and we told multiple nurses(and a doctor) who said it was normal. We were about to take Jewel home when a lactation consultant witnessed the behavior, and we were brought immediately to see a doctor. This is when we entered into hell. Our perfect baby was by that night determined to be having seizures and we needed to stop them and find out the cause. The were able to stop the seizures within a day, but she spent the next seven days hooked up to machines and having many invasive tests including a spinal tap. After all know tests had been run they were going to release her to us with out knowing what had caused the seizures. Before we left they did a follow up MRI which showed some very grave news. Jewel had a massive stroke of the entire left hemisphere. They determined it occured sometime shortly before, during, or after birth. But they had ruled out every cause including genetic,clotting disorder, virus etc. We were told that 30% of infanile strokes go undiagnosed. I asked if birth trauma could be a cause, and they said yes, but they weren't convinced that jewel suffered enough birth trauma to cause a stroke. To me, it sounded as if they didn't want to get anyone in trouble.
Jewel is now alomst two and we still have not been given a reason for her stroke. To me it has always been obvious. My second stage of labor lasted longer than it should, jewel released meconium because she was in distress. It was indeed completely unsafe to deliver a face presentation baby at home without constant monitoring and hospital facilities.
I thought at the time, that if complications came up, we would transport to the hospital and everything would be okay. Well it wasn't and I risked my baby's life. I tooked for granted the miracle of life, it is not simple and easy for all deliveries and your baby's very life is at stake.
I still believe that birth should take place in a peaceful environment, with as little intervention as possible. But I think Midwives and doctors should work together and combine the best of both worlds, nature and science.
My daughter Jewel is a Miracle. She has not shown any major physical or mental disablities from her stroke to date, which for the size of her stroke is very rare. The not knowing has been very hard, but i have to focus on being blessed that she is alive. She had to be on anti seizure meds for her first seven months, and there is a possiblity of reoccurence. For anyone interested, infant stroke happens to one in five thousand births. Many babies do not present with seizures and so many children go undiagnosed for years, please visit kidshavestrokes.org for more info and to know the signs.
Thank you for reading our story and I honestly hope to help someone make a more informed choice about homebirthing. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org