What follows is a birth story from a friend of mine. She is a devout Christian who lives in a state where CNMs are not allowed to attend home births, and where DEMs are legally precarious. She also has had some complications with prior pregnancies, but after much research and prayer decided to birth her most recent baby at home with the assistance of midwives. Although she does have access to pro-life Christian OBs, she has the same concerns that I and others have expressed - that "Christian, pro-life" does not necessarily translate into "respectful of the spiritual value of birth in the family". She and I also share a concern that "Christian, pro-life" is being used as a marketing tool rather than a simple description of what is truly central to the values of a given medical practice. Anyhow, here is her story, as she emailed it to me and a few others.
Thur. June 12, 7:30 am lost mucous plug. With other three children, baby has arrived within 12 hours. Piddly contractions. Sent dh off to work, I went to health food store. Tried to run other errands but felt distracted. I got back home about 11:30.
My friend came to take my 3 daughters to her house for the day... just to be nice, I really wasn't having ctxs or any more mucous.
I picked up my house some, had some Braxton-Hicks contractions that were very mild and irregular. I don't know if I was experiencing leaking of water bag or incontinence but I felt kind of drippy. I listened to the baby with my fetoscope through a ctxn, it was fine before and after. Rung the midwife, who was not at home -- unbeknownst to me she was nearby, (lesson one, try her cell phone!)
About 3 I had a friend who homebirths, and who used to be a L&D nurse come over and check me. She said I was a "stretchy 3" & posterior cervix. If I was leaking, which was questionable, I should stay home & take temp occasionally -- no going out!
I was kind of disappointed as I figured my record --of baby 12 hours after mucous plug -- would be broken. At 4 PM called dh and asked him to come home early, just to comfort me in my lack of labor.
At 5 PM I was contracting semi regularly but lightly, rang the midwife and my doula friend. My husband came home, and the BellSouth man came over to replace my DSL modem. About 5:15, the ctxs started to get more intense, I listened to Ruben Studdard's new song (lesson 2 -- Ruben Studdard makes great labor music!) I decided I'd get a "midwife's epidural" (bath) to slow things down while the DSL man was here.
My dh saw me on all fours in the bathtub and called the doula and midwife. I argued with him, did not want people over "that early, so we could just sit and look at each other!" He called anyhow. It was 6 PM. The BellSouth man left. He did not make it through our list of friends I wanted around me, to call. We put on Gary Wright's Christian music CD.
At 6:20 my doula arrived and I do not see how people labor without them! (To my friends who don't know what a doula is -- this is an incredible, wise, motherly lady who uses Physical Therapy and other 'techniques' to help women birth with ease and comfort.)
The ctxs were still not "regular" but were pretty intense! I can't put it into words but wish every mother could have a doula. I splurged & bought some rich, buttery lime/coconut lotion from Bath & Body Works for the event, and it felt and smelled sooo nice! I worked hard at relaxing, sending O2 to the baby, and enjoyed being 'mothered' by our doula. She sent Scott to go boil water.
If I remember anything about this time, I remember that it seemed very holy. I continued to pray through each contraction, wanting to hear Psalm 91 and God's comfort from Isaiah. It struck me that through this sacrifice of bringing the baby into the world, I was brought to tears with the reminder that Jesus suffered and died for those he knew were his enemies, and for those he knew would hate Him! And I had the priviledge of laboring for a beloved child.
About 6:40 the midwife's assistant arrived. Her presence was so soothing and comforting. I remember her voice was so peaceful and calm. A few minutes later I felt like I needed to visit the bathroom. My doula made a comment about "that pacing". (Not the first time I've paced when complete.) I felt the forebag bulging and demanded my midwife's assistant check me. She said she felt forebag and looowww head, no cervix. All of us prayed together, for this baby, that the midwife would arrive safely and God would anoint her hands to do His work, for the birth and for minimal bleeding & quick birth of the placenta. It seems almost unreal now that I think about it, but the transcendence of this moment still sticks with me.
I've been at births with a local Christian OB group. The labor and delivery nurses have all been nice ladies. However, I have yet to see them as motherly servants, prayer guardians, and comforting angels of the birthing family the way this care team was. They were incredible! If Shiprah and Puah were anything like my care team, I see why God blessed them at the beginning of the book of Exodus. I also understand why in Titus 2, His plan is for women to learn the womanly arts from other women.
I can't get the comparison out of my head.
The mw assistant listened to baby. I waited what seemed an eternity for the mw (she lives over an hour away), and when I could bear it no longer, I gave small pushes. The first big one popped the membranes and PTL the fluids were clear! (Lesson 3, ask the midwife to come with the first twinge when it is your fourth baby!)
The mw pulled up, ran in the house, donned some gloves, and out came our baby! My husband and doula exclaimed, "It's a boy!" I could scarcely believe I had a son! He nuzzled and began nursing in a few minutes.
In a few moments my midwife noticed a gush and cord lengthen. Scott set up a plastic bag on the potty and I walked in there to birth the placenta. The cord measured 36"!!
(In case you wondered, in our local hospital the protocol is to take baby from mom to measure and so on, give pitocin and pull on the placenta until it delivers, and hope mom doesn't bleed excessively. Our local Christian OB's would hold up the screaming naked wet baby, episiotomy blood pouring, and the doc, not the father or mother, will lead everyone in the room in prayer. Many women in my community love this aspect of their care, however, it strikes me as so different from a spontaneous prayer joyfully offered by a mother, father, and their servant guests)
Another thing that strikes me when I think of this is how my midwife, even in my own home, cared about my comfort and modesty. She continued to check my vitals, and monitor bleeding, and push fluids. She checked our newborn son's lungs -- clear PTL!
When I think of it I am amazed at even without ctxs I still did 12 hours from mucous plug to baby! We praise God for this wonderful birth and sweet boy. In case you are wondering why anyone would be crazy enough to choose to birth the way we did, here is a link from a South Dakota paper that is worth your read on homebirth safety and statistics. Thank you for reading this far. No matter where or how you birth, get yourself a doula! :-)