Stephanie at 2 1/2 Months old.
Although Stephanie was not a Preemie, she was a small baby. She had managed to tie her cord into a "True Knot" which was tight enough to prevent her from getting enough nourishment to allow her to grow or gain during the last 4-5 weeks of the pregnancy. Stephanie was born at home with no complications at all. Her story begins below with some back ground as to why I had decided to have her at home.
This page last updated on Dec 1, 2004.
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Pregnancy and high heat never seem to go together. Considering the fact, we lived in Southern California, this pregnancy had gone very well. I experienced no problems and the main discomfort I was experiencing was the long, hot, dry summer without air conditioning. I spent the last half of my pregnancy in front of a fan with a water to drink in one hand and a spray bottle filled with water in the other. With this combination, I could at least tolerate the heat.
We were new to the area and I did not know anyone. I had no idea who the good doctors were. I was picky when it came to a doctor, I had some very definite ideas of how I wanted things handled, and was not prepared to settle for anything less. Having been a La Leche League leader for about three years, I knew all I needed to do to would be to locate a local La Leche League organization, and members of our church to gain the information needed. A few phone calls and I was in touch with La Leche League as well as invited to co-lead a group. It was through that group I learned about and met the midwife who would deliver my baby in the comfort of our own home.
The decision for me was very easy. I felt good about it and felt it was right for me. This was my 7th pregnancy and although my 3rd and 4th were C-sections, I had given birth naturally two years before, without surgical intervention. I knew I could do it. I knew it would be best for my baby and for me. Convincing my husband this was the best thing to do proved to be another story. Our health insurance would cover a hospital birth, but not a home birth. He was a stubborn guy with pre-set ideas and home birth certainly did not fall into what he termed "logical thinking"! My challenge was going to be a tough one.
I had argued the case with him enough to know he was not going to budge. I also knew that if all went well, I could easily be in full labor and not have to say a thing, therefore creating a situation where a home birth was going to happen anyway. I had already experienced several very quick, easy, painless labors and deliveries. I knew, each labor and delivery is as different as the baby being carried, and I could not count on an easy, painless, complication free labor. I did not want to deliver my own baby, unless it was a true emergency situation I had no control over, yet I was preparing myself for that possibility. My work was cut out for me.
Deep inside me there was a compelling, force driving at me, telling me, "Do not have this baby in a hospital or have a conventional doctor deliver the baby. You must at all costs have this baby at home." I did not understand why this drive was there, nor why it was so strong. I just knew I had to listen and obey this strong feeling. Other occassions I had similar driving thoughts, that I did not pay attention to, I paid the price. I knew, if the baby and I were both to survive, I had to have this baby at home.
While my husband was at work, I had been discussing with the midwife ways I could get him to change his mind. She finally said we were at the end of the rope. I had to tell him and I had to do it that day. There was no room for waiting, she needed to know if I was going to be her patient. I had not had medical care for about a month and she was anxious to get proper care started and know where we all three stood. I was in my second trimester, and with my history, I simply needed to be seen right away.
Later that day I was preparing supper when the phone rang. It was my husband's boss. He was being called in to speak to the management. I knew I had just about an hour to talk to the midwife to see what she could do to help plead my case with him, before he returned. She was not at home, all I could do was leave a message. She called back just moments before I expected my husband to arrive home. I told her that if I suddenly changed the subject, it was the signal he had come home and I needed to end the conversation without him knowing I had been speaking with her. Before she had a chance to say anything, the front door opened, and he was walking in. "Well, thanks for calling." I had changed the subject abruptly. By this time he was talking and I knew the midwife could hear him on her end. "I will see what I can do about the situation, and get back with you as soon as I can." I said and hung the phone up.
What happened next was a going to change the rest of my life. (let's just call my ex-husband "Sam") Sam was training for management of CoCo's Restaurant. He was called in and told that he just did not follow the path needed for management and that he was being fired. It was a big blow to him. Being fired meant we had no insurance, no money, no way of paying for a baby to be born in a hospital. We talked about the situation for a moment. He went off quietly into his own world. I knew this was really a blessing in disguise, so made sure I fixed a good meal. We discussed the pregnancy and how to cope with no job, no insurance and no real prospect of being able to find a job that would include maternity benefits for a pregnancy that is nearly half way through. I brought up home birth, but he still did not want me to have the baby at home. I told him I felt that we could save lots of money if I were to have the baby at home, and not go to the hospital. Bad timing! I was told not to bring the subject up again. "Home birth's are dangerous and anything that can go wrong will! Do you want to kill the baby?" (He had no faith in nature, me or a midwife, what-so-ever!) I was scheduled to see my doctor the next day. I decided to go in for that appointment........
As I checked in at the reception center, I informed by the receptionist of the fact my husband had lost his job as well as the insurance. After a quick question of, "Do you have cash to pay for the entire work up plus delivery?" she excused herself and disappeared. My heart pounded in anticipation. It seemed as if an eternity had passed when she finally returned. I was told go on back and wait in the doctor's office. He was there in a matter minutes and asked again if we were going to have cash to cover the entire workup as well as delivery. "I am talking about a total of $1,500.00 for my part. When I told him "no", he said to wait he would be back in a moment. He returned and said, "here is what you are facing. I just talked to the hospital. You will have to pay $4,000.00 cash up front to register at the hospital. I need $1,500.00 cash up front before I will see you again. As soon as you have the money, and have paid the hospital, I will be happy to see you again."
Wow! That was it! $5,500.00 cash up front or no one was going to see me or deliver my baby! Normally I would have been devastated! I tried not to show my excitement, but I was just simply, elated! I knew that meant my midwife's fee of $500.00 was going to be acceptable in my husband's eyes! We had no choice! I was going to get my home delivery!
I knew in my heart that a home delivery was the right thing to do. I wanted nothing to stop me or take this opportunity away from me again. I arrived home and my husband asked how things went, "did you get to hear the baby's heart beat yet?" As I explained what had happened, I was careful to avoid the subject of home birth. If there was one thing I had learned, it was to allow him to think it was his very own idea, or he would never adopt any idea I brought up. I went on to say, "I just don't know what we are going to do. That doctor was the least expensive one around." Silence for a few moments then he grudgingly stated; "Well, you mentioned about a midwife only charging $500.00. I think that is going to be our only hope with this baby. Why not give her a call and see what we need to do and if she will take payments." I know my joy was showing big time! I leaped for the phone, dialed her number without having to look it up, and without a moment's hesitation. An appointment was set and we were on the way to my very much wanted home birth!
Because of the fact I was already close to mid-term, we were carefully screened and questioned about problems in the past and about our feelings. I explained how my deliveries had always been hurried and that so far only one baby was allowed to come at the time of his natural birth time. I also explained that was my 15 minute labor including delivery! Half of that time was spent with me panting to wait for the doctor to be contacted and arrive at the hospital to do the delivery! She decided with my experience of pregnancies, deliveries, and working with other moms and babies, that as long as everything went well, I would be considered low risk. That was a pleasant surprise to me as everyone else wanted to make me a high risk patient! We then went in for a thorough exam. The midwife was pleased with her findings and gave me return appointment. The baby's heart beat, she said was one of the strongest she had heard. She had delivered somewhere around 300 home babies on her own and several thousand in training.
Each visit went well, and the time was approaching for the baby to be born. I was given the due date of December 11. By Thanksgiving week, the baby had descended and was in good position. I was given another appointment, "Hhowever", she said, "I don't think you will go a full week." This excited me as I was feeling the fullness of time. I could hardly bend down to pick up anything.
Much to the midwife's surprise, as well as mine, I did make that week. Another appointment was given as the midwife said, "keep in close contact with me, I do not think you can make it through the week. Everything is just right and the baby is in good shape. The heart tones are very good." I made it to the next week! By then I was getting tired of the pregnancy and began to feel as if the baby was stuck inside me for ever! Reluctantly she scheduled another visit on the 24th of November. Days passed, nothing happened. I kept going in weekly. On one visit the midwife said, "Vicki, there is no way this little baby can hang in there that long! I really don't think I need to make an appointment, in fact, I hesitate allowing you to drive home!" That was December 18th. I made it home alright! I made it to the next appointment too! Now I KNEW this baby was a permanent attachment! Was I ever going to know if it was a boy or girl? Would I ever be able to hold that little bundle in my arms?
The midwife was getting frustrated. She was also nervous about me going into labor and delivering before I reached her home for my regular visits. She decided the next appointment would be at my home. She also said that I should not be away from home for anything but an emergency situation. Christmas came and went, no baby. The night of the 27th of December, very heavy with the pregnancy, tired of the whole thing and frustrated enough to call it all off, I went to bed but could not sleep. I tossed around a while then quietly got up so I would not disturb anyone else. By the time I got to the front room, our 4 week old puppies had decided to play in the Christmas tree and one was climbing the branches! I got there just in time to catch the tree before it hit the floor with a great crash! I knew how I was going work off my frustrations from this never ending pregnancy! That tree was coming down! The house had already been cleaned, nothing was left to do, so I set out removing decorations and carefully putting them away. It was about 4 A.M. when I bent over to place the ornaments into a box and felt a sharp pain. "Too much bending over, I am glad this is about done", I thought as I ignored it and finished what I was doing. By the time I had finished my work, everything put away, there was no evidence Christmas Day had only been 3 days earlier! That was the earliest our tree had have ever taken down! I checked to see if the hida-bed was ready for the delivery, should the baby ever decide to make an appearance. It wasn't so I got the necessary plastic and sheets out and got everything ready. It was now about 5 A.M. and I felt another twinge. Not a pain, just a twinge. "Well, maybe this is it, I better get some sleep while I can", I thought and went back to bed. I did not sleep though. I felt another one about 45 minutes later. Hummmm. 4 A.M., 5 A.M., 5:45 A.M. Maybe. At 6 A.M. the alarm went off and my husband crawled out of bed. He readied himself for work. He had to leave the house at 6:30, so I thought I would just quietly lay there till he was ready to go and then if I felt it was something that would develop into delivery let him know. 6:15 another twinge. By now I was relaxed enough to really recognize the feel of true contractions. I called to him and suggested he just call work and let then know he would not be at work today. "Why? You haven't had any contractions have you?" He laughed at me when I said I had three of them since 4 A.M. In harsh tones he stated, "Well, I am going to work and IF it develops into anything call work and they will send me home." I was more than 3 weeks over due, and having contractions that were getting closer with each one, how could he say that? This was my 7th baby not my first or even my third! I had that inner feeling telling me what to do. I finally talked him into calling work, and very rudely told them IF he was late it was because his wife thinks she's going to have the baby sometime today. I wanted him to have something, anything, to do with the delivery, so I had him call my midwife to alert her. He waited until I had several more contractions however and did not call when I suggested it was time.
6:45 A.M., the contractions were coming closer together, he finally decided it was time to call. I was a bit surprised at what he had to say, however. "She THINKS she's in LABOR", he grumbled. I heard him tell the midwife, "Well she THINKS she's in labor but I am going on to work whether she likes it or not." The midwife talked him into staying until she got there to check me out, then we could make a proper judgement as to what was going on. Traffic in Los Angeles area is terrible, even in the early mornings. She arrived at 7:30. She checked me immediately, I was dilated to 4 and 95% effaced. She turned to my husband and said, "Call your boss and tell him we are having a baby this morning. You will not be going to work today." He did call and he did stay home. He sat there in a chair, slumped, hand on his face and looking angry. He hardly spoke a word to anyone! Our youngest daughter was sick, so I was walking her around trying to console her. She was hot with fever, and wanted me to hold her the entire time. I walked and walked with her in my arms, never once feeling any pain. At 7:45 the midwife said, "I assume you are still having contractions?" I assurred her I had been having stronger ones and they were coming much faster. She said it was time to do a recheck in about 15-20 minutes. Shortly after she said that I felt one contraction that was much stronger and longer than any others.
8:15 A.M. I handed Kristi to her father and headed for the bathroom. Upon coming out I told the midwife, "Okay, this is it! We are having a baby really soon now." She seemed shocked, but said to get in what ever position felt good to me that would allow her to check me. I did and she said, "Yes, you are right. The head is crowned already, you have a red headed baby about........" She went quiet for a second then asked that I not push, just let nature take hold and do what ever required as the baby needed no exertion at all.
"Stephanie" was born at 8:46 A.M., just one hour and 15 minutes after the midwife arrived. She was born with a "true Knot" in her extra long cord. I had an unusually large amount of amniotic fluid, which allowed her to turn and flip around before birth. The extra fluid, extra long cord and extra movement is what caused her to tie the knot in the cord. A true knot is tight enough to prevent the baby from gaining the full exchange of nutrients that would have occurred, if that knot had not been there. Stephanie weighed a mere 5 pounds 4 ounces and measured 18 inches long. She never did lose weight after she was born. She took right to nursing and latched on as if her life depended upon it. No one can tell me babies don't know what is best for them!
Three days later when the midwife returned and weighed her on the same scale she weighed her on after birth, she weighed 5 pounds 5 ounces. Two weeks later, before her first appointment with the pediatrician she weighed 5 pounds 8 ounces. Had I delivered in a hospital the method of delivery would have placed her in shock and she most likely would not have survived. The doctor said that I, too would have gone into shock and probably not have survived. Had I not listened to that still, small, voice this page would never have been up here.
Birth at home was clearly the right choice for my little daughter and me. I cannot say it is the right choice for everyone. Each pregnancy, each labor and each delivery are different. We must evaluate our own situation to determine what is best for each one of us. Home delivery is not for everyone. Some women simply must deliver in a hosptial for various reasons. Many are for no other reason than for the mental stability of "knowing" they are where they want to be. But for many of us, we get those inner, deep feelings, that still, small voice, telling us we must do things differently than the normal. If we pay attention and heed the warnings, we end up in the better. If we do not, disaster is generally the result.
That labor and delivery went so smoothly and so quickly, I can hardly believe it. If I could go back and re-do all the other births, I would have had every one of my children at home. I went against all odds, and both the baby and me did better because of it.
At the time I am doing this update, Stephanie, is happily married to a wonderful man, who is temporarily stationed in Iraq, and has a little daughter of her own. Being in Hawaii with her military husband, we have not had the honor of seeing her or our newest little grandchild. If she is willing, I will be placing her baby's picture on this site.
Latest update, Dec. 1, 2004 the baby is now 19 months old! We have one daughter left at home, the rest of the children are married and having children of their own. It is a rewarding experience to watch the babies grow up into adults and parents themselves. Our count on this day, December 1, 2004 we have 11 living children between us (combined marriage) and have 20 grandchildren! We are happy to have these little ones join our family, and it is wonderful to see our own children grow up and experience the joys and challenges known only to parents. Children are the greatest joy, yet can inflict the greatest frustrations all at the same time. No matter how much trouble little ones can create in a day, when you look upon their peaceful faces as they sleep, you wonder how you could ever have been angry with such sweet, innocent little people!
To that statement, I say:
Welcome to Parenthood! It only gets better from here!
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Last updated on Dec. 1, 2004