My Mom’s Birth Experience
One of the questions that I get asked the most is, “Why did I become a midwife?”. It starts with my mom’s pregnancy with my little sister. When my mom was pregnant with my sister Carina, we moved from Bishop, CA to Ridgecrest, CA which was about 2 1/2 hours away. My mom discovered that Ridgecrest only had two obstetricians. Both of them were older males with horrible bedside manner and outdated practices. My parents decided that they would prefer to drive back to Bishop, so that they could continue to use the OB/midwife team that they loved from the birth of my little brother. You can read more about their birth stories in my previous post, “Should My Other Children Be Present at My Birth?“.
My Birth Experience
When I got pregnant 10 years later, those same two dinosaurs were still the only ones practicing. I chose one of them, but ended up delivering with the other. My opinion was that it didn’t really matter which one you got. At the time, I knew that I wanted a natural childbirth, but I didn’t really know how to prepare for it. A nurse persuaded me to take Demerol to help with the pain. It didn’t really help with my pain though. It prevented me from moving around to do things to make the pain lessen and it shut me up more than anything. After my son was born, I was still too drugged up to pay any attention to him. He was sleepy from the drugs, which caused us to have difficulty nursing. I was very disappointed in my whole birth experience.
A year and a half later, my friend Sarah was pregnant. She asked me if I would be in the delivery room with her. Excited about the idea, I agreed to attend childbirth classes with her. Sarah had discovered that a mutual friend was teaching classes called The Bradley Method.
I really enjoyed the classes. When the instructor saw my interest, she encouraged me to really study birth. She loaned me book after book. I learned about the word doula in these classes as well. Christina, another friend of mine, was taking the Bradley classes was wll. The instructor Tracee, and I were asked to attend Christina’s birth as doulas. I was thrilled for the opportunity to attend not one, but two births. Seeing my excitement, Tracee planted the seed for me to consider becoming a doula.
Christina’s Birth Experience
A new obstetrician in town moved in to town since my own pregnancy. The majority of the women in town had been hoping for a female OB to come and be the answer to getting a better birth experience. Dr. Breene was aware of these hopes and made all kinds of promises to the flocks of women that gravitated to her. She passed herself off as being more progressive and willing to work with women and their birth plans. Christina and Sarah were two of the women who were mislead by her promises.
Christina’s water broke before labor started and all hopes for her intervention free birth went out the window. I got called after Christina went to the doctor’s office to have it confirmed. From there, she walked next door to the hospital to get induced. Christina was amazing. She worked so hard to breathe through her contractions and stay relaxed despite the intensity of the Pitocin induced contractions. When it became apparent that Christina was nearing the end, Dr. Breene came over to the hospital. While the doctor was getting the hospital room and her instruments set up to her preference, Christina was pushing. At one point, it looked like Christina’s son was about to be birthed without anyone paying attention. Seeing this, I instinctively reached in to catch the baby just in case. The doctor saw this and commented, “That baby is not coming out without an episiotomy.” Christina had been told by Dr. Breene that she would do her best to avoid this previously, when Christina let her know that she did not want one if possible. During the next contraction, the doctor snipped her perineum and then turned and fiddled with her instruments some more. Christina pushed the baby out and into the trash can resting on the floor at the end of the bed.
My Take on This Experience
I was horrified. My stomach knotted up and I felt queasy when things settled down because I was so outraged by this doctor’s attitude. Later the doctor told Christina that the reason her baby came out so quickly was because he had a hand up. I can tell you two things. #1 – I was closer to her vagina than anyone else. There was no hand up. #2 – Any woman who has birthed a baby with a nuchal hand will tell you that that slows the baby down, not speeds up their descent. I reviewed this birth over and over with others for weeks. It was then that I knew. I couldn’t let experiences like this happen to women. Birthing women needed more options, more choices than to be forced to have their bodies violated for the sake of the doctor’s convenience.
I started independently researching birth every chance that I got after that. It was over 7 years before I enrolled in the Association of Texas Midwives Midwifery Training Program. To this day, I strive to give women more options. I offer VBACs to women that are not given that opportunity in the towns that they live in as a way to continue providing choices to women that would not have them otherwise.
What about you? Did you have a positive or negative birth experience? Where did you birth at?