A mothers experience: Hospital VS Birth Center
The Birth of Baby Theodore
July 7th, 2020 @ 5:07pm
9lbs 9oz, 21.5 inches long
Birth story was written by birther Sarah Kay Campbell.
Theodore is baby number four for me. Previously, I had two medicated hospital births and one unmedicated non-hospital midwife-assisted birth. I knew right away that I wanted to use the same midwife when I found I was pregnant this time. The whole experience was infinitely better, there really was no comparison. The quality of care I received from the midwife’s vs the doctors and nurses at the two individual hospitals was astronomically different.
Moving forward to the day before Theo’s birth. I was 41 weeks along, expecting that I would probably go to 42 weeks, like I did with baby number three who was born at 42+2. While I was really tired of being pregnant, I wanted to let them choose their own birthdates and come when they were ready. That evening my friend came over and cleaned the whole downstairs part of our house, which I give partial credit to me going into labor because I finally felt like the house was “ready”. Even though I hadn’t even packed my birthing center bag yet or organized any of the baby’s things. Although with every baby I’ve always packed my bags while in the early stages of labor, so I couldn’t give up that tradition!
Around 11:30pm that night I started having a lot of cramping, followed by mild contractions. At that point I wasn’t convinced it was labor because I had many days of cramping and contractions in the few weeks prior to this day. Somewhere around 2am they started picking up and were getting more painful. Elijah decided to pack my bag for me since I had procrastinated. I was growing nervous because Finley’s painful birth was still so fresh in my mind so I kept saying I wanted to cancel the whole thing and wait a few more weeks or days until I was more prepared. Haha! I called the midwife who said to come in once I said I was starting to get the shivers. It was then that I called the photographer, Brianna Waltman, as well! (I didn’t want her to miss it just in case because when I went into labor with Finley I told her she didn’t have to show up until evening when I was expecting him to be born, except when she arrived last time it was merely moments before Fin started making his way into the world!)
I was getting even more worried that he’d be born in the car on the way to the birthing center. We got there around 3am and the midwives took my vitals and told me to try and sleep some. (They didn’t do anything else – no cervical checks and I didn’t have to be “admitted”) I slept until about 5 or 6am, which was exhausting sleep because I could feel each contraction in my sleep. It was like I was riding waves. I got hungry so Elijah went to get breakfast for us from Bagel Central, while I tried to rest more. I woke up to him sitting on the bed cutting up French toast for me.
The contractions had slowed down pretty significantly at that point. They were no longer as painful as they were at 2am and they weren’t as close together. I never time contractions because I know that can actually be a bad thing mentally (you can read more about that in the book “Birthing from Within”), but I knew they had spread out.
After deciding he probably wasn’t going to come any time soon, I sent Elijah to take Lilly to her swimming lessons and get some super important things from home, that I ended up not even using.. like my eyebrow pomade. Hahaha.
While he was gone, the midwives decided to try a few different things to get labor going again. We believe the issue was that Theo was in a less than stellar position, posterior or sunny side up, and he wasn’t dropping far enough to make a difference – we did a couple different homeopathic remedies, acupuncture on the corner of my pinky toes (ouch!) and I made a last minute chiropractic appointment as suggested by the midwife, Chris. They told me depending on how I felt afterwards I could go “poking around town” or whatever, that I wasn’t a prisoner and I didn’t have to wait it out in the room.
The appointment was for 11:15, so Elijah drove me there I was able to get a really good adjustment. My belly rounded out nearly right away, when before the “lumpiness” was all on the right side. We decided to go home for lunch and to see the kids. While at home, I ate some chicken salad and bounced on a ball in various positions. Then I went upstairs to pack more unnecessary items that I wouldn’t even take out of the bag… you know how us women like to over pack lol.
Around 1:30 the contractions started really picking up again, and a little bit of bloody show was starting to make an appearance, so I said it was time to go back. I grabbed my bag of random useless items and Elijah packed up the yoga ball. Then we said goodbye to the kids and made our way back to the birthing center! By the time we got there, the contractions were pretty painful. One of the midwives and Elijah both did some belly sifting with a rebozo in between contractions to help with the discomfort. (It really does feel good! Like a tummy massage.) Since they don’t do cervical checks unless the mother requests it, I didn’t know anything about how dilation and effacement was going but I’m assuming I was probably around 7-8cm dilated because that’s when things get intense for me based on my previous experiences in a hospital where they check often.
One of the big differences in my hospital births vs my non hospital births is the chain of events – with my hospital births it was like choppy stages: go into labor, arrive at the hospital, get checked, 3-5cm, get checked an hour or two later 6cm, doctor comes in and manually breaks water, wait around, get checked 7-8cm, nurses start asking about epidural, get epidural and IV fluids at 8cm, wait around, get checked, 10cm, everyone comes in and sets up, end of table comes off, get covered in drape, legs in stirrup, one nurse watches the monitor and tells me when to and when to not push, baby is born 1.5-3.5 hours later after exhaustive coached pushing and no ability to move or change positions. With my unmedicated births, it felt like just a steady flow of working my way towards having a baby with each stage preparing me for the next.
I labored on my elbows and knees for most of the time. Sitting up every now and then. Elijah provided counter pressure with each contraction because like always, I had a ton of back pain. It feels like your hip bones are each chained to a monster truck and pulling separate ways. While your spine is being pulled out through your tail bone. I had such a strong urge to be comfortable. I wanted to submerge myself in a pool filled with the softest blankets and feather pillows until it was all over. The anticipation of all the pain of delivery had been growing from the time I called the midwife at 2am until now. I even cried at one point during the day, not because I was in pain, but because I knew of the pain that was about to come! But it was really important to me to never get in the mindset that I “couldn’t do it” because I know things can spiral from there. However, I never have the “I’m a badass and I can do it” empowered thought process either. My mental state is very much like “you DO NOT have any other choice, it’s this or the hospital so just do it.” Full on Shia LaBeouf “just do it” self-pep talk. I remember looking at the clock during a contraction and it was 3:30PM and I thought to myself he will be born by 5. I regret not saying it out loud and taking bets!
Eventually, my body felt it was time to start pushing with each contraction. Me – still on my knees and elbows because I wanted to crawl right out of my own body and come back after he was born. I was super grateful for the breaks in between. One of the midwives had hooked me up to something called an Obi Tens Unit, which I had never heard of before. It was like patches or something on my back that made little vibrations and distracts your brain from the pain? (At least I think that is the goal.) It did help for a while, and I never really pushed the button to increase the vibrations during a contraction. But once I was further along, I asked for it to be removed because it felt like an annoying bee buzzing around me. However, it was super cool up to that point.
I had decided to not do a water birth because I got so hot in the water when Finley was born, however I think it’s just that stage during pushing that makes me feel like I need to guzzle an entire gallon of ice water to cool off. A comfy pool of fluff did not sound so great by then. At some point my water broke, I don’t know when, but it felt like only a small amount compared to my 3 previous births. Like a miniature water balloon popping. Theodore’s head was taking forever to come out, the midwives said his head was being compressed so I needed to switch positions – which then I was thinking to myself oh shit, he’s too big. Once I switched to my back, it felt like his head was out within two contractions! Which was awesome, I didn’t even feel the ring of fire or anything, just “boop! Baby head.” But then I felt like my next contraction wasn’t happening. Not that it wasn’t happening fast enough, but I wasn’t feeling any build up or anything (since they literally feel like waves). So I was pushing and pushing to get his body out because I didn’t want a purple eggplant baby like Finley (his head was out for 3 minutes before his body and his face was one big purple bruise). Elijah and the midwives reassured me he was fine and to wait for my next contraction, but I don’t listen so I kept pushing anyway. I don’t know what was going on because I tried to keep my eyes closed so I didn’t see. But one midwife yelled for a third midwife to come in and it felt like a million hands were trying to reach in and pull him out (I’m dramatic, but really that’s how it felt). The midwife just had to get his shoulders unstuck and there he was!
Another big chonky baby boy with lots of dark hair! After 2.5 hours of being attached to his placenta, the cord was cut and we finally got to see how much weight I lost with my trendy diet called “delivery” (lol). He was 9lbs 9oz! My guess was 9lbs 8oz. (I don’t care what the others guessed because they were wrong. Haha) Post partum care immediately after sucks so I won’t go into details there, but I didn’t have any tears so I’m super happy about that! (Also, recovery with my non-hospital births was significantly better than my two hospital births so I’m also grateful for that.) We stayed at the birthing center for about 4 hours before heading home. On the way home we decided on the name Theodore and about a week later he got his middle name of Hozier (from the singer!). Theodore Hozier Keyes!