Saturday, March 29, 2014

Why We Switched to Home Birth

Solomon, a few minutes after being born

Zsuzsa's pregnancy went well as we approached her due date in late September 2001. On the morning of September 11, we were awoken by the extremely loud ringing of my antique rotary phone. It had a literal bell inside of it that sounded like a school bell. I was working nights on a fire alarm project in a school at the time, so we were still asleep when the call came in from my dad.

"Steve! You need to come over right away! America is being attacked! Planes are crashing all over the United States, skyscrapers are coming down...!" We got dressed and rushed over to my parents' house to see what was going on. We didn't have a TV, so we had to go there to figure out what was happening. It turned out that my dad had exaggerated just a little bit.

On Friday, September 21, about halfway through the workday, my wife called my boss at work telling him that she was in labor. He radioed me at the jobsite to let me know, and I left work early with a lot of backslapping, congratulations, and well-wishes from my coworkers. It turned out to be a false alarm. I was pretty embarrassed when I had to walk into work the next Monday morning and tell everyone it was a false alarm, and that the baby still had not come. The next Friday, my wife went into labor for real, and everyone at work had a good laugh that maybe I just liked taking early weekends.

When we got to the hospital, my wife was checked into the maternity ward, and we waited for things to progress. The nurses told her that she wasn't allowed to eat anything, but my mom and I made a lunch run for Arby's, and my wife just couldn't resist, so we smuggled her in a roast beef sandwich. Not long after eating the contraband, she threw up the entire thing. The only thing to throw up in were these little tiny kidney bean shaped plastic dishes that were so small, my mom and I had to bucket brigade them to the bathroom and back as she threw up her entire lunch. We quickly destroyed all the evidence before the nurse came back into the room.

"Did you have breakfast this morning?" she asked.

"No." Technically she was telling the truth because she had not had breakfast that morning, but we didn't tell her about the Arby's incident moments before. 

The OBGyn showed up at some point and broke my wife's water and put her on Pitocin. Of course, neither of these interventions made any sense, but my wife and I didn't know then what we know now about childbirth. The Pitocin brought on violent, painful contractions that Zsuzsa suffered through for hours. Still, she didn't yell as much as the woman in the room next door to us who was loudly screaming and cursing.

Finally the baby was in the birth canal, and it was time to push. The OBGyn came back at this point and after barely being there for a few minutes, she told us that she would have to cut the perineum to allow the baby's head to come through (i.e. do an episiotomy). Neither my wife nor I knew at the time that episiotomies are a ridiculous and totally unnecessary intervention, and that it would take over a year to fully recover from the painful effects of the damage. My suspicion is that the doctor was simply eager to get this over with and get on with her weekend. 

A few minutes later, Solomon was born, his cord was cut, and he was whisked across the room to be weighed, measured, poked, prodded, etc. He was screaming at the top of his lungs non-stop until I spoke. The moment he heard my voice, he instantly stopped crying and looked around to see who was talking. Then he promptly went back to screaming again. I could not believe how much blood came out of my wife after he was born. I had never seen a childbirth, so it was all a new experience for me. When the nurses were done with all of their meaningless and unnecessary procedures, they handed the baby to Zsuzsa, and both mother and baby were instantly happy. For the next few days, it almost seemed surreal that we actually had a baby. We were both thrilled and enjoying our new family.

Due to fact that we had a bad experience at the hospital (although it could have been a lot worse), and especially because of the negative effects of the episiotomy, which we later learned was completely unnecessary, my wife began looking into other options. One day, when we were out soul-winning, we knocked on the door of another young couple named Ben and Carrie Fry who had a two small children and one on the way. They started coming to Regency Baptist Church with us, and we became friends. Carrie was seeing a midwife instead of a doctor and was planning on having a homebirth. Shortly thereafter, the baby was born, and everything had gone smoothly.

At first, I was opposed to the idea of using a midwife and having a homebirth. It was such a foreign idea to me because I had been raised with the views of conventional modern medicine. Then there was the financial issue. A hospital birth was fully covered by the health insurance I had through my job, but I would have to pay for the homebirth out of pocket. However, I knew that the hospital had been a bad experience, so in the end I relented. 

After our second child Isaac was born at home, I was sold. Zsuzsa would go on to have our next 5 children at home with no drugs, no interventions, and no complications.


Unknown said...

Aw, Solomon has on the same blanket with the green and red stripes as they have at the hospital we went to. It was crazy! They let my wife go all the way to crowning and then C-sectioned her! Hopfully she'll want to do it a different way next time.

Nicholas Sweet said...

My wife and I had our first in a hospital and we hated the experience, so our next was born in a midwife's house who mainly delivered Amish women's babies. She had a bathtub filled with water for the delivery, towels and a bed to move my wife to after the birth. No frills or craziness and it only cost 900 dollars, it was such a great experience. Of course it was painful for my wife, but she also had pitocine (not sure how to spell that) which made her have horrible unnecessary pain. And the midwives usually don't look at you like you have lobsters coming out of your ears when you say you don't want to vaccinate. A midwife with a bath tub is the way to go!

Loren said...

Pastor have 7 children currently. If you had the next 5 at home, where was the other one born at? :)

Loren said... bad. "After Issac was born at home...."