Thursday, April 22, 2010


My midwife stopped by our home yesterday for our one week postpartum visit. She checked Gavin's vitals and his weight (up to 7lbs 1oz!) and asked how I was feeling, emotionally and physically. We talked a bit about Gavin's birth and I realized how my feelings of that day are intertwined with her and the other two midwives on my "birth team". I know that they're belief in a woman's choice to birth how she wants gave me the freedom to figure out what that meant to me.

A little background... I had a c-section with Ian. I don't have any regrets about his birth although it did take me a good year to come to terms with it. But I know there was really no way around it... placental abruption and 12 weeks of bedrest ending in emergency c-section. It's his story, our story, and I treasure that. However, at my 6 week postpartum appointment I asked about the next baby and was told "once a cesarean, always a cesarean." I cried the entire way home.

18 months later when I became pregnant with Sawyer, we lived in a different town in a different part of the country. I looked into VBAC's and found a little more openness to it. I decided pretty early on that I didn't want a hospital birth regardless of their VBAC policy because I still felt they would be too quick to demand a c-section if I wasn't laboring to their specifications. So I found a midwife, not in a hospital but a freestanding birth center. Sawyer's pregnancy was, thankfully, uneventful and I ended up having a very successful VBAC.

This time, I looked into a hospital birth (for pain med options only) thinking I was now on an even playing field with everyone else. I quickly found out that I was still considered high-risk and no one cared about my VBAC, they only saw my c-section. I called my previous midwife back and asked if she would take me again. "I'd love to," she said without hesitation. I knew instantly I had made the right decision.

Gavin's birth was... amazing. I can hardly put into words the feelings I have about it. First of all, he was 9 days overdue. Having one baby at 37 weeks and another at exactly 40, I never thought I would go over my due date. I won't lie... it was hard. Talking to people and hearing the concern in their voices, I tried desperately to put it out of my mind. I laid it all down. I gave it to God. I had trust in my midwives and trust in my body that it knew the right time to birth this baby. I knew that only in a world of 40% c-section rates and constant inductions would the question of my body going into labor on it's own even be asked. Of course it would. Because that's exactly how God designed it.

And it did. After several hours of walking, changing positions, getting in and out of the tub, I knew it was time. Jeremy and my 3 midwives spoke encouraging words. No one touched me except to give me support. No one told me when it was okay to push or how to do it. She just told me to trust in my body and it would know. When we were minutes away from holding him, she touched my shoulder gently and told me what to expect next. I nodded, knowing exactly what I was going to do. When I knew I had pushed for the last time, I reached down and felt his little body and with both of my hands, pulled him out of the water by myself. I held him close and kissed his head letting him know that all was okay.

There is something about the indescribable intensity of the pain and the instantaneous relief as soon as the baby is born that mixes with the wonder of this new being and the crazy love you immediately feel that makes for one unforgettable moment. It's beautiful.

What a gift these women are to the birthing world. I'm so grateful they are out there, encouraging women that pregnancy and birth are not a disease to be treated but a natural process to be supported. That we as women know more about our bodies then an insurer or hospital policy maker. That lawsuits shouldn't dictate the type of care we receive. That we shouldn't live by fear-based philosophies treating every symptom as a worst-case scenario. That we are made to do this and do it without intervention.

I was told that Oregon legislature recently started questioning whether VBAC's, along with breech births and twin births, should even be allowed to be done in a free standing birth center or at home. But seeing how hospitals and OB's rarely allow these type of births to happen naturally at all, what they are really saying is that these births should automatically end in c-section. Nearly all midwives who deliver outside of a hospital setting will say they have a very high success rate with these types of births. Limiting a woman's choice in how she births does not make it safer. Allowing a woman freedom to choose and trust in her own body creates the best opportunity for a healthy and safe birth for both mama and baby.

(Me and my wonderful midwives)

Support your local midwives.
ICAN -- info about c-sections and VBAC support
State by state guide to midwifery



Beetles and Bees said...

Andrea, this is an amazing blog entry and worth of publication. I would encourage you to send this out to a few magazines, including the picture. "Mothering", for example?

I am so proud of you, Andrea, and quite impressed with your ability to put this experience into words the way you've done here. It made me cry!


Love, Karli

tonia said...

you go girl!!

so PROUD of you. enormously so. it was such a joy to spend the afternoon/evening with all of you yesterday. i miss the boys today! wish i was next door to give kisses.

(I think Karli has a great suggestion...send it out and see what happens!)

Jennifer said...

What a wonderful, amazing event! Congratulations, He is truly beautiful.

onedeepdrawer said...

lovely, indeed! the picture of the three brothers in just right. and what a strong, good mama they have!

may peace and healing keep you in these wonderful first days!

Andrea said...

Thank you!! What sweet words from all of you.

Karli... I'm thinking about it. :-) means so much for you to say that. love you

Mimi and Lucas' Mommy said...

I love having another fellow advocate! :) Can't wait to spend more time talking about little ones...xoxo

Heather said...

I absolutely agree. I too had a C-section for the first and now have had two successful VBACs with the girls under the care of my midwife. Once you've had excellent midwifery care, the other shows itself to be completely out-of-touch.
Loving your newborn pictures. :)