Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Baby Boy (or, Up Yours Dr. H)

My client had her baby last weekend. Huzzah!

This was the woman who was subjected to an all-around horrible experience with her first baby (though not as bad as this). But -- fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me -- this woman immediately left the bad doctor's practice. Any place would have been better than where she was, but I'm of course biased toward her ultimate choice of nurse-midwives for subsequent care.

Saturday she walked through a labor in some ways very similar to her first: her water broke but she didn't have contractions within the first six hours; when labor was finally augmented, she dilated steadily but not rapidly; during pushing the baby did not shoot down the birth canal, but crept by millimeters.

Ah, but that is just the superficial stuff. The differences began immediately. She was not called in to the hospital when her water broke, but told to wait at home until contractions were regular. In triage, she was examined by her midwife, not a resident, and they jointly came up with a plan of action. She was encouraged to move, to spend time in the tub, to tell us how she was feeling and what she was thinking. She was VALIDATED!

When it came time to push, she was very anxious that delivery would follow the same pattern as before (namely, 4 hours of pushing, ending with a vacuum extraction). Everyone was quiet and reassuring and encouraging, but she could not imagine another outcome. It was then that I realized how deeply she'd been affected by her first birth. After an hour of pushing we could see a curl of the baby's hair without any help from the midwife in opening the labia. The mother asked, "at what point will you decide whether the vacuum is necessary?" Later on the mother said, "When will you know if you're going to have to look at alternatives for delivery?" All while moving the baby down, having everyone telling her she was moving the baby down and praising her hard work.

Imagine the mother's suprise and joy when she pushed the baby out -- spontaneously, no episiotomy, no assistance -- and learned that it had only taken her an hour and 50 minutes even though the baby was asynclitic and had his hand by his face. And then, 20 minutes later, they weighed the baby. Nine pounds. More than two pounds larger than her first baby. She was stunned. I think that is when she started to realized just what she had done. All. On. Her. Own!

I was just giddy for them. Hugs, kisses and tears aplenty. I didn't say it there -- why invite the spectre of a negative experience? -- but as soon as I heard the baby's size all I could think was "F--- you Dr. Hooberman! See what a woman can do when she is supported, loved and believed?" The birth of their healthy second should not be about saying "I told you so" or avenging anyone. And yet, I can't be big enough to move past that urge.

I leave you with some signs of a good birth:

An empty bed (because the mother is not laying in it)

A birth ball, recently used

A dark bathroom in which the mother labors, surrounded by water, her partner's loving touch and her midwife's encouragement.

p.s. note the doula's knitting on the table in the foreground...another good sign, I like to think.



Blogger Spincerely said...

Yeah, you tell him! I had a similar experience - 2 hospital births with all sorts of interventions, then I switched to midwives and my third baby was a water birth in a birthing center and we were home in the same day. We can do all sort of things we don't know we can when we are empowered and supported!

6:15 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Worse yet, "Dr. H" is a SHE! Criminal!

I'm happy to hear you had the birth you wanted the third time around.

8:56 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

What a great story! :)

4:55 PM  
Blogger cooler*doula said...


It must have been amazing to experience.

5:12 PM  

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