Xana's Birth

Even now I still find the stories of my first two childrenís birth sometimes difficult to revisit. The anger and the fear are still there.

For me pregnancy was, like most women, my first sustained contact with the medical system. It wasnít the one I grew up in though and it still very much is the one I am barely literate in. I was unprepared and outwitted by people who relied on my passivity and ignorance. I knew I wanted a homebirth or something as close as possible to one - for all my births. At the time of my first pregnancy the only working midwife in the city asked me in all seriousness "Who would do the laundry?" when I broached the subject. So a natural birth, at the midwive's house was planned.

Unfortunately my son was a stubborn breech from 32 weeks on which meant an automatic C-section at 38 weeks. No matter how many times I asked no one would respond or knew anyone who could deliver a breech vaginally. So I sobbed all the way to the operating room. Before the operation I did insist on two things: first a horizontal incision (vertical is still the norm here) and second a VBAC for the next birth. I was assured of both.

Things rocked along, until, of course, my second pregnancy 19 months later. I was promtly asked to schedule my C-section at my 11 week appointment and as soon as I said the word VBAC, I was asked to leave that practice. If I didnít follow the rule of "once a section always a section," I could not be their patient. So on to the hospital where I originallly had my first baby. I would need a referral from them to the larger university hospital even to have a chance of a VBAC.

I waited two hours with my son and husband at the hospital clinic, only to be told that the clinic wasn't open that day. I was assured if I came back the next day, though, they would get me right in. So, I went back and waited two more hours. Finally I went to the front desk to ask when I was going to see a doctor and I was told "maybe another hour". I left and never looked back. After seeing two more doctors and receiving two more refusals, I was now too far along not to have already gotten the proper care, and, of course,I was insistent on a VBAC. And so I was stuck.

What really were my options? Another section? An unassisted birth? Neither worked for my family and I. So I went to the Internet and wondered out loud about a traveling midwife. Could such a thing exist? Was that possible? And then I found Gail. Gail who had delivered breech babies, who had already been to Asia once before for a birth and who was, oddly enough, from my hometown. Things finally seemed to be falling into place. We moved to a new house, got a new car, and my goal of a home birth was now in sight.

When Gail arrived my relief was palpable. But relief turned to stress as baby was neither moving down nor making any moves to come out at all. Forty weeks passed; 41 weeks; 42 weeks - finally slight contractions began, only to fizzle out 11 hours later with very little progress made. So we made the joint decision to transfer to the hospital and an ambulance was called. (I was told they would not take me as a patient unless I showed up in an ambulance.) This C-section went well, but of course no one was allowed in the operating room. After the C-section, a brief look was all I was allowed before my baby girl was whisked away to be examined and isolated. My husband was not allowed to hold her in the first few hours.

After I came out of surgery they brought my daughter to me and I began to breastfeed - just as the nurse explained to me I couldn't breastfeed her for the first 24 hours. Tthis is where the additional hassle all began. I said my daughter would be breastfed, only to be told hours later she was hypoglycemic and would probably seize and potentially die unless she had formula. Then 24 hours after the birth I was informed she probably had a life threatening infection and I needed to surrender her to the NICU. She stayed there, my 3,990g, (8 lb 8 oz), 42-week, healthy girl, for six days on continuous IV antibiotics. Her heels were like pin cushions. I was allowed to come into the NICU to breastfeed her, but was not always welcome when staff meetings were going on or if I wasnít first summoned. When I questioned the doctors about their diagnosis, I was promptly told "YOU came to US for help and you had no proper prenatal care!"

After six days the doctors decided they would allow me to take my daughter home since her blood cultures all came back negative for any infection. In other words she was never sick or in any danger of being ill, but they still had to conference among them selves before they could agree to let me take her home. So this then had been my punishment. To have her taken away from me and then to not know when she would be returned. After that experience I knew I would never go to them voluntarily for help again.

June 2011, Mizukawa, Japan - Attempted VBAC Birth.

If you you would like to discuss your wants and needs and how my services might satisfy them, call or, preferably, e-mail me at midwife.international@gmail.com.

Gail Johnson, CPM, LM
Four Mile Lagoon - NW Highway, 89.2 Mile Marker
P. O. Box 251
Corozal Town
Central America

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