Why We Chose A Birthing Center for Baby #2
Early on in the pregnancy we decided that for this baby we would try the midwife route at a birthing center. With Winter, we went to an OBGYN through Kaiser Permanente which meant that we would get whoever was on duty to deliver our child and not necessarily the doctor that we saw for office visits.
As a first time parent I wanted to be in a hospital because, quite frankly, I had no idea what to expect and was a bit scared of the entire process. Plus, I didn't know much about all of the options available for women.
I would never say that my care was terrible at the hospital. Actually, it was probably the best place we could have been because we had some hiccups during the delivery process. Winter was sunnyside up, and both of our heart rates kept dropping. After two + hours of pushing the doctor said I had one more try to get the baby out; otherwise, we'd need a cesarean. They ended up using the vacuum (which I initially did not want), but the doctor was able to get Winter out without a cesarean, and for that, I was grateful.
So overall, I have nothing negative to say about our first birth experience. For me, the piece that still doesn't sit well is how I was treated (or not treated) afterward.
Let's first talk about breastfeeding. What the F is up with it hurting so badly and why did NO ONE tell me how painful it is? I honestly thought there was going to be some cosmic connection and I would put the baby up to my boob and that was that. Yeah, it was so far from the beautiful experience that I initially envisioned.
The first time Winter latched, I yelped, my eyes got big and I told the nurse to "get her off." That is literally what I said. I was in sheer panic, and the nurse looked at me like I was crazy. Then, once she was off I looked at Perry and asked him what the hell had just happened and why did it feel like a million razors had attacked my nipples? He didn't know how to respond and tried to reassure me it would get more comfortable and to try again. Not once did the nurse give me any piece of mind about breastfeeding and I swear the minute that I pushed my call button to have someone help me it was as if I had asked them to bring me a five-star meal from a restaurant and massage my feet. I NEVER felt comfortable with asking for help and that was not a good way to start out my relationship with breastfeeding.
Flash forward two days later when they sent a nurse out to my house to check on me and baby. She kept telling me that the way I should be breastfeeding was lying down and sideline and that it was the easiest. I explained that was ungodly awkward for me and I didn't like it one bit and she just blank stared at me. When I started to cry, she was patronizing. I just wanted her to leave.
So that was strike two with the medical professionals that were supposed to be taking care of me after birth. On both occasions, I felt like a nuisance, and so I ultimately learned to clam up and not say anything. I had cracked, bleeding and scabbed breasts for the first month and I didn't say a word.
I think I hold some resentment about my breastfeeding journey. I have had to do a ton of mindful compassion sessions where I send those two women love and understanding because I felt like they both dropped the ball in my care.
Now please don't get me wrong, I know there are wonderful doctors, nurses and lactation consultants out there. I actually just met an amazing OBGYN and support staff when we went to get this baby's 20-week ultrasound scan done (they don't do anatamy scans at the birthing center). Had I been more assertive, I would have tried other options and eventually found a good fit for baby and me, but I happened to get two women that I just didn't seem to jive with. But for this baby, I want to make sure I know and trust the people that will be helping me after the baby comes.
When I got pregnant I had remembered that a neighbor had told me about a birthing center just down the street from our house. Before they agree to take you on as a patient, they require you to attend their orientation where they explain their level of care, philosophy and how birthing at a birthing center differs from a hospital.
I went to the orientation right around the time I was six weeks pregnant. I was so impressed with them. They had terrific information to share about the center, their statistics, the birth process and more. But the part that struck a chord with me was when they started talking about postpartum care. The nurse leading the session spoke about the depression rates and how they take a very mindful approach to make sure that women are well supported. They explained that they didn't view pregnancy as a nine-month medical condition but as a life-altering experience that extends way beyond the birth. I burst into tears within a room full of strangers. I literally couldn't help it. It was so apparent how moved I had become that strangers were handing me tissues and during the tour after the orientation the nurse pulled me aside to check in on me.
I knew immediately that this was the place for my family and me. I went home feeling hopeful, like I had found a place with providers who will not let me slip through the cracks. I am so thankful that I am going this route and while I am scared of the whole natural birth thing, I know I will be in the best hands.
During my 17-week appointment I was having a lousy day. I must have thrown up ten times that morning and I felt so dizzy. I became tearful in the appointment, and the midwife held my hand, looked me in the eyes and asked me "Do you think this is classic tearfulness or do you think you are having signs of depression? I ask because it is not uncommon to feel anxiety or depression when you have such a rough pregnancy. I am here for you." I honestly couldn't believe my ears. She point blank asked me if I was okay, like really okay. I chuckled a little and gave her the biggest hug. I told her that it was just a tearful day and she smiled back and replied, "You call me if you think it's something more, okay?".
I am getting tearful reading this back right now thinking about her compassion. I know that no matter if my depression relapses or not, I have found the best people to take care of me.
Photography by Kyla Fear