Ever's Birth Story: Part Three
I slept through the night with an occasional tugging contraction. In the morning I decided it was best to keep moving in the hopes I'd become a full-fledged member of the In Labor club. We loaded up and drove all over the valley buying food, drink, celebratory cheesecake and last minute needs.
By mid-afternoon I was going crazy. Contractions were coming at me in decent strength but terribly irregular. Knowing I was running out of time, I decided I'd take a nap and decide what to do from there.
Best nap of my life. I dreamed relaxation.
When I woke up I called Suzanne my midwife.
"My water broke yesterday but I've haven't had any solid contracting."
"Hmmmm," she said through a fuzzy connection. "I am coming over."
When she arrived she planted herself on my couch downstairs and set to charting our discussion. Suzanne is a no-nonsense woman with capabilities that span the genders. She is strong and sweet, tough and tender and the kind of woman you'd want supporting you through life's largest moments. My favorite aspect to my midwife is her hair, which is always curled around itself on the back of her head. When let down, her tresses reach down to her waist.
"Your water broke at six yesterday?" she asked, pen scribbling.
"Yes," I replied remembering my heroic journey.
"I would guess you have another posterior baby," she said breathing deeply. "Let's check to make sure."
An examination made it clear, just like The Chief before, my baby wasn't in a position to rock my uterus into labor.
"Some women have a pelvis that encourages posterior babies," explained Suzanne.
Ultimately, The Chief rotated right before labor, making it possible for him to come out after a few pushes. But it took two days effort to get my body to contract after my water breaking. This was deja vu--the Chief's birth all over again.
"So this is what I think we should do," Suzanne said combing through a clear container she had brought with her. "I am going to give you some homeopathics. I want you to take them right now and call me at 8 o'clock tonight. Hopefully you will be having regular contractions. If not, I might have you take another dose. But don't take another dose until you call me. We do need to be sensitive to time here."
"Right," I said putting the tiny little pills underneath my tongue to dissolve.
When we were pregnant with The Chief I wanted to have a home birth. Because of his posterior self, we ended up at the hospital which was a good experience for us. I had a more-than-sufficient epidural and we loved our nurses and the staff there. They even let us stay in our massive birthing room because they knew of the inevitable family reunion we'd be hosting with my never-ending family visits.
And Lucy brought me purple dinner plate dahlias from her prize-winning flowerbeds. I will never forget that part of my stay there.
With this pregnancy we decided to opt for another home birth. This time Chup was more supportive and confident in the process. We were lucky enough to get Utah's best licensed midwife who had delivered two of my sister's children as well. Suzanne is like the Ferrari of midwifery. Fast, efficient and highly desirable.
Before she left, Suzanne readied my room for birth. I suddenly became excited thinking about the possibility of having my baby at home where I felt the most safe. Our religion regards home as the second most sacred place on earth after temples and this is where I wanted to be when welcoming another member of our family.
(My religion neither discourages or encourages home births, it needs to be said. Those choices are left up to wife and husband.)
I had two hours until call time. We had dinner and tried to stay active. I resorted to our open Green Room where I turned on Edith Piaf's Greatest Hits and sang Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien with all the glory of a woman in her last few moments of pregnancy. The Chief was riding in furious circles around me on his push motorcycle as I belted,
"No! Je ne regrette rien!"
No regrets. Nothing.
I felt triumphant in that moment, even though my contractions were nothing to celebrate.
By 8 o'clock nothing had transpired other than a meal and musical dramatics. I called Suzanne.
"I got nothing."
"Take another dose, call me at 10."
After two more hours of weak contractions, I called her back at 10.
"I am coming over."
At that point I was exhausted. I curled up next to Chup and cried. This wasn't working. And although he had given me a beautiful priesthood blessing earlier in the day--promising me a healthy, happy birth, one that would be successful and empowering--I had lost hope.
"Lets go to the hospital, get on pitocin and get an epidural," I said, my face wet with tears.
"Whatever you need. I think that might be our best choice at this point," encouraged Chup who had become quite serious. It was good to see him fully in the game this time. With The Chief he played a different role, not as involved, ready to let the process do what it had to do. This time he saw himself as an active participant one who had opinions that mattered. He helped carry the weight of the situation--it felt a lot less lonely.
I called my mom. At this point I was sobbing.
"Mom. It looks like we are going to the hospital. Will you come and be here with The Chief?" I wasn't sad I was headed to the hospital. I wasn't disappointed in myself or let down for not achieving a home birth. I never believed that having a baby at home was more important than anything else, I wasn't doing it for any reason other than a well-thought out personal belief. But at this point, I was sad to the bones for not being here when my son woke up in the morning. For some reason--at that point--my heart was breaking over that aspect of or decision.
"Of course honey," said my mother, "he will be fine. I will take care of him."
"I will call you after Suzanne gets here," I said in an uncontrolled shaky voice.
When Suzanne arrived she was calm but direct.
"Here is one of our choices. I give you a shot of antibiotics for the potential of infection. At that point you have six hours until you will need another shot. You go to bed, get rest and call me in six hours. It buys us some time and maybe at that point you will be ready."
I sat on the edge of the bed with my head down, I was too tired to make any judgment calls.
"Suzanne, what if we decide to call it off and we head to the hospital?" asked Chup.
"We can do that too. If you want I will come with you and stay there until after the birth."
The other thing I like about Suzanne is that she isn't an angry midwife. She is not in the profession because she's anti-medicine. In fact, she had c-sections with both of her sons and is resoundingly grateful for what we can do these days to save babies. She's practical about it all, and isn't overly romantic in her views of childbirth. In my opinion, Suzanne is a midwife because she believes in choice--a woman's right to have birth wherever she wants. And I am grateful women like her chose to put their lives on the line--in a somewhat controversial, unorthodox and misunderstood profession--so that women like me can make those choices.
"If I go to the hospital I want an epidural," I said quietly.
"Yes. Of course you do," she said back. "I would if I were you."
I looked at Chup. He looked at me.
We had a choice to make.
I've had a lot of inquiries about my midwife in my email inbox, so I am putting this on here as a public service for anyone who is interested: Suzanne Smith's practice is called Better Birth and you can read more about it here.