My birth story at the Minnesota Birth Center actually began in the fall of 2012. My husband and found out I was pregnant with our first child and began excitedly learning everything we could about pregnancy, babies and birth. In an attempt to find a place that would satisfy my husband’s desire to deliver in a hospital, and my wish to have a natural home birth, we found the Minnesota Birth Center to meet be the perfect marriage of trained professionals working in a home-like environment. Their model of care mirrored exactly what I wanted, I was elated. The fact that it cost significantly less than a routine, vaginal hospital delivery was attractive too.
Getting closer to my due date, we ultimately decided that we would feel more comfortable delivering in a hospital setting. Due purely to nerves and perhaps concentrating on what could go wrong (thanks internet), we transferred care to another facility. Two months later, our son was born, fast and furious at a local hospital. He and I received multiple interventions that we had not consented to. Even though they were deemed necessary, I felt violated because no one explained what was happening. Once my water had been broken, and I was catheterized, he was delivered with a vacuum assist in the operating room; narrowly avoiding a Cesarean. We were there for three days, and never had a chance to sleep.
Finding out we were pregnant again in the spring of 2014, we decided to do things differently. I would lay off the internet and we would deliver at the birth center. Everything I had ever read on birthing says to be open to change because there are not guarantees in labor other than eventual birth of a baby. Even so, one cannot help but to become slightly bent out of shape when something you’ve been planning for the better part of a year doesn’t go according to plan. Remembering my son’s birth, I felt cheated out of what I had been day dreaming about for 10 months.
Going into this birth, we were as laid back as possible, employed one of the doulas from the birth center and “went with the flow”. This was as routine a pregnancy as possible, nothing to note, just smooth sailing and gloriously thick hair! Nearing our due date and eventually passing it, those familiar pangs of fear began creeping back into my hormone addled brain once again.
During my 41st week of labor, I broke down during a routine visit and my midwife brought up an interesting thought. Through this discussion, I realized that perhaps I had been suppressing the emotional trauma I had experienced with my son’s birth. It had never dawned on me as I had been dismissed whenever the topic of his birth came up. Yes, things didn’t go according to plan, but so what? I was healthy and so was he, so what more could I have expected. The truth was, a lot.
Per the advice of a blog I found on the surprisingly common topic of birth trauma (I was completely unaware), I wrote my former pregnant self a letter addressing what had happened during my son’s birth, what I had wanted to happen and what I hope will happen this time. Upon completion of this letter, I felt an incredible release; the lifting of an enormous weight I wasn’t even aware I had been carrying all this time.
Finally on my 41st week and sixth day of pregnancy, my midwife and I had the serious discussion that once I hit 42 weeks, I would be considered high risk and no longer be able to deliver at the center. I was devastated. Remember that “cool as a cucumber” attitude I had been championing for the past 10 months? Up in smoke. I was so scared that going back to the hospital would result in my wishes not being followed, me feeling voice-less, and possibly needing a C-section. I was afraid, but I knew that I had an amazing care team in place and it was finally the time to acknowledge my fear and let it go. Later that night I went into labor on my own.
This labor was textbook, 8 hours start to birth and just as I had wanted. Labor started at 9pm, my doula joined me at home around 2am, got to the birth center at 3am, had a baby at 5am and was home by 9am. My hopes to have a water birth was changed by the fact that my baby’s heart tones were lower than desired. Once I got out of the tub, our daughter was born a few minutes and a couple good pushes later. I was fixed up while daddy got to hold our little girl for the first time. She nursed within 15 minutes of being born and we were left alone to sleep for a few hours. I had the most delicious home-made bread with honey and took a relaxing herbal tea bath with my daughter. The perfect birthday for the perfect little girl.
Our story is a bit long winded, but I really wanted to share where I was coming from going into this birth. I was afraid and a bit shell shocked from my only other comparable experience. These wonderful women supported me spiritually, physically and emotionally throughout my pregnancy and beyond. Without their guidance, knowledge and compassion, I truly believe that this experience would not have gone as well as it had. You often read about birth being transformative; any mother would agree. Giving birth at the Minnesota Birth Center did change me. It healed me; made me whole again.
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