As a doula, I believe that having a plan for your child’s upcoming birth is important. You don’t necessarily need to type it up on pretty letterhead, but having a vision of what you want and desire helps you wrap your mind around what is typically a very life-changing event.
So what happens when you’ve created your vision and in a few brief days that vision completely dissipates and you are left with a blank slate again?
I’ll tell you. Well, I’ll at least try to tell you, as I’m still working through this very scenario as we speak.
I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with our 3rd child, our first girl. (yay!) Before we even conceived, I told our family doctor that I was going to hire a midwife and have a homebirth with our next child. As a doctor, she of course expressed some concerns about the safety of home birth. I’m actually not going to go into details about statistics of homebirth vs hospital births right now, but feel free to email me and we can talk about it. 🙂
After our conversation I went home and told Jairus what she and I had discussed and together we decided to continue with the original ‘plan’ and go with what was most familiar and have our next baby in the hospital, under the care of our amazing family doctor. After all, we LOVE her. She attended Eli’s birth, she is our pediatrician and she is an all-around amazing person. I try to send all of my pregnant friends to her, I trust her that much. Shoot, she was even the star of the blog post I wrote titled How To Pick a Pregnancy Care Provider.
After Lyla was conceived we started seeing Dr. D at 10 weeks. The pregnancy was continuing rather uneventfully, just like anyone hopes. (There was a minor ‘scare’ during a routine visit, but it ended up being nothing. Thank you Jesus!) During this time, though, I began the certification process to become a Birth Doula.
Studying birth is quite interesting. Doing so while also being pregnant and planning for your own birth adds a unique level to the equation. There was one particular assignment where we were asked to read about the history of birth and how we got to where we are at now. Birthing babies in a hospital is actually a pretty new concept. So how did we get there?
I’ll save you the history lesson, feel free to look it up if you’re interested, but the jest of it is we moved from having babies at home to having them in the hospital when painkillers were introduced into the labor and birth room.
So what if I didn’t WANT pain medicine during birth? Why go to the hospital at all? My brain shifted. Actually it did a complete 180. I started asking questions. I have a lot of friends who have had babies recently, a couple of them have even had their babies at home. I needed to know what possessed them to have their babies at home and the logistics behind how it all worked.
The next day I went on a furious rampage to find a midwife who would be willing to travel to the tiny town we live in and attend my homebirth. The third one agreed. Third time is the charm I guess! 🙂 The vision of my upcoming birth started changing that day. I wanted a water birth. Where would I put the pool? What part would my older children play in the birth? Who was going to be there?
I had a PLAN!
At 25 weeks I visited with my family doctor again. This time to tell her that we have chosen to hire a midwife and have a homebirth. She didn’t act surprised, I had already warned her months ago after all. Her exact words were “You have a proven pelvis and the odds are in your favor. I wouldn’t pick this for myself or for you, but ok.” She didn’t yell at me, I call that a win! 😉 I actually thanked her, as I walked out, for being understanding. I have friends who have had care providers be less than gracious and they left that last doctor’s visit made to feel like they were making a horrible decision.
So we began seeing the midwife. The vision I was creating for my upcoming birth was becoming more and more real every single day. I could literally see my daughter being born in the water in her bedroom. My husband, sons, midwife, doula and birth photographer would all be there to help us celebrate such an amazing event. I even put up a new clock in our bedroom and thought to myself ‘if she’s born on our bed, we will see her time of birth using this exact clock’. It was so real.
The technical things that I wanted during and immediately following the birth were routine practices with this midwife. She wouldn’t perform ANY vaginal exams, even during the birth, unless I specifically requested one. She doesn’t cut the umbilical cord until after the placenta is birthed and so on. Everything was falling into place and was perfect.
Until it wasn’t
During my 32 week visit with our midwife, my blood pressure became unfavorable. After the initial reading of 138/90 she gave me a few minutes and took it again. I asked if she remembered that Gabe was induced early because of my blood pressure, she had. My brain started freaking out. By the time she took it again, my boys had somehow sensed tension in the room and turned into miniature tornados. The mixture of my stress level skyrocketing and my children acting out caused my pressure to skyrocket even higher. So high that she didn’t even tell me what the other readings were (she took it several times).
I was sent home with orders to monitor my blood pressure twice a day and text her the results. The very next morning my blood pressure was 137/91. A little later in the morning I had a chiropractor appointment and my bp hadn’t improved much. At that point, my midwife called and told me that she believes that it would be wiser to continue my care with my family doctor who would be more equipped to deal with riskier situations such as this.
I cried. I watched my dream birth completely fly out of the window (or so I thought). I have nothing against the local hospital, I love my doctor. Why was this so hard?
The next Monday I saw my Doctor at her office. The nurse registered my blood pressure at 154/90. When Dr. D came in she had awful news for me. She wouldn’t be able to keep me. If my pressures were in the 130/80 range that’s one thing, anything much higher than that is too high risk and she was going to have to transfer me. We talked about the real possibility that I was going to be transferred to a physician that has access to a NICU. We were 1 day shy of 33 weeks and while the baby is viable, she would need help from experts if they feel like she is safer outside of me than in.
Fast-forward a few days. A few long days at that. I had testing done at the hospital to check for protein in my urine and to run some blood work. Preeclampsia needed to be ruled out and they needed to have a full scope of my health before transferring me.
My labs came back PERFECT
My Doctor called me at home personally to tell me the excellent news. My body wasn’t shutting down, it wasn’t rejecting the baby. I only had high blood pressure (which had actually gone down into the ‘caution’ zone while I was at the hospital doing my labs). Based on the excellent labs and the fact that my bp had gone down into a range she was more comfortable with, she feels like she can safely keep me in her care! Oh thank you, thank you Jesus! Prayers had been answered.
Well, we have one visit scheduled with a Maternal Fetal Specialist for her blessing to continue my care with my family doctor. We aren’t in the all clear quite yet, but I’m holding out faith that everything will be perfect and wonderful and we will continue this pregnancy with no more bp issues.
At this point I feel like I need to start mentally processing my new plan. This has become harder than I thought it would be. I’ve allowed myself to grieve over the loss of my ‘dream birth’ and I think I’m ready to start visualizing my new dream birth. I’ve said this entire pregnancy that I was going to rock this birth. I’m determined to hold myself to it!
In quietness and in trust shall be your strength. -Isaiah 30:15