Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Don't you wanna see a real doctor, honey?

There are still a few people in my life who refuse to hear me and Steve tell about our prenatal care and birth experience with our midwives. I hesitated to write about this because, for my UC friends, there might be some gaps or some defensiveness or what have you. (I wish you only knew how much I respect and understand what it is that the UC families are about!!) but this is about midwifery, so maybe the few folks who need to read this will end up at my blog, and maybe they will finally get it. And if not, that's ok, too.

My midwives checked my blood pressure every visit. By hand. With a cuff. Carefully. More than once if needed.

My midwives checked my heart rate every visit. By hand. Carefully.

My first midwife weighed me because I wanted her to. My second one gave me the choice and I opted not to.

My midwives checked my urine with the medical strips. They also let me do it myself and left me the strips. I had a history of UTI's and of excessive protein in the urine and I wanted this done.

My midwives took blood from me at a few key points in my pregnancies. I do not remember them all but one was to see if my blood did the thing its supposed to do around 28 weeks and it did :) right on my couch. Lovely.

My midwives felt my tummy and felt my baby. They warmed their hands first and asked me and the baby's permission to touch us. Measuring the fundal height was only a small part of this, and it was funny to see how erratically the number grew and changed depending on position, etc. No freaking out when I "measured big" and no freaking out when I "shrank" one week.


My midwives shared good books with me, dog eared ones with little pencil notes in the margins. Books like Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and Naturally Healthy Pregnancy, Mommy Diagnostics and Wise Woman Herbal.

My midwives turned me on to bulk teas and made me a lifelong fan.

My midwives turned me on to tinctures and insisted on Herb Pharm as their favorite brand available widely.

My midwives turned me on to Rainbow Lite prenatal vitamins and for the first time, my barfing lasted 4 months instead of 9.

My midwives took better care of me than anyone ever has in my life. They listened more than any shrink ever could, they respected me like an adult capable of making choices and they cared about me and my family and our journey to birth and beyond.

There really isn't anything else I can explain about Midwifery care.


Rixa said...

Hey, I am a UCer but I don't have a gripe with midwives. Okay--not for the most part, since I do think that some midwives "do" too much. But I think the midwifery model of care is great!

Andrea said...

Yes, yes, yes. God, yes. My inlaws were on this trip. "Who will take care of you?" they wailed. They called and called, begging us to reconsider.

MIL fretted that we would be so alone, sooooo alooooone, and if anything happened we'd all surely perish. She couldn't wrap her brain around the fact that our midwife was on call for us 24-7 for, like, 6 weeks post partum, and that she visited us at home every day for the first week. (How would going to the hospital beat that?)

Maternity nurse aunt-in-law called and called, filling my and my husband's ears with sage nurse advice (though she never had kids), all the things she likes to tell new mothers (as though our midwife wouldn't tell us jack) and tried to press us to take the hospital birth class (we were taking hypnobirthing; she asked, "what's that?").

And the thing was, I did go to an OB. Once. I saw his nurse practitioner. It was a worthless (and expensive!) experience that caused me more harm than good (ditto on the awful prenatals that made me think I was dying!). I saw the writing on the wall, with that visit being little more than a bullet pointed outline of all the things they'd look for that would be wrong with me, plus a fun pap smear. I wasn't just flying off half-cocked, I made a well informed choice to have a homebirth with a midwife. It was simply a far superior standard of care about preparing for things to be RIGHT, not letting things crash and burn so that they could save me and my son from ourselves.

Another great post as usual.

kris said...

I LUV MIDWIVES!! i remember the 1st time i heard one of my friends talking about her midwife and i was at that place where my 1st thought was "oh gosh, what if something happens?" but i ended up seeing the same midwives!

Kelley said...

I love midwives during pregnancy. Not so much during the birth itself, but I love midwives during pregnancy. Great post.

Lynette said...

Midwives are great for prenatal care! Mine is fabulous, anyway. In my province, midwives have to have backup doctors in order to practice legally (proposed legislation will change this, eventually). I cooperate with this ridiculous rule, meaning that for every appt I have with my midwife, I have one with a doctor. And there is absolutely NO comparison between the hour+ I have with my midwife and the 5 minutes I have with the doctor (and with the rude LPN who won't ever tell me what my BP is). The doctor is a very laid-back GP who totally supports homebirth and hasn't argued with me over the tests I've rejected or my dislike of doppler, but still her attitude and approach are entirely different from the midwife's. I come away from those doctor appts knowing they were a COMPLETE waste of time and taxpayer money. I can't imagine how pregnant women who go to doctors must feel -- unsupported, uneducated, disrespected, and worried, I would think, especially if they themselves aren't birth gurus to start with.

My birth is yet to come, but I know that if prenatal care is any indicator, I SURE wouldn't want to have my baby in the hospital with that GP!

Jill said...

I'm really looking forward to this kind of care from REAL midwives. :)

heather said...

This is such a great post. It brought tears to my eyes. I get all warm and fuzzy every time I think about my midwives. I wrote a similar post after I had written my birth story that I called "The rest of the story" that was basically about how well I was treated by the midwives. thanks for always being so frank and eloquent. It is such a pleasure to read your blog.

Corin said...

*Sigh* Brings me back to such fond memories of our midwife and the whole process in general. Makes me want to do it all over again!

Stacey said...

That made me cry. I am a UCer, but not by choice. ( I loved every seond of it though!) My son was born in the van while my husband raced down the highway trying to get to an unfamiliar hospital. I *wanted* a homebirth. I *begged* for a homebirth. I cried and cried and mourned the midwife experience that I would not have, as I truddged down the hill to my OB. (who was horrified at the thought that a patient caught her own child, outside of a hospital, no less) I cried in fear of another hospital birth, and the fear of a section. (I have never had a section, but I am deathly afraid at the thought. I had an intervention-filled first birth without pain meds, and an almost hands-off second birth with an epi.)I cried that my baby would be born under harsh lights and rough rubber-gloved hands, poked, prodded, flipped around, handled roughly and medicated. I mourned the idea that I wouldn't be left alone to labor. I was afraid of being bullied and coerced, and I could see in my mind's eye my husband standing there looking at me helplessly (because he just *didn't know* what to do/say) as my eyes pleaded and begged with his to MAKE IT STOP. What did I get? The MOST AWESOME BIRTH EVER!!!! He was orn in the friont seat after 2 pushes, *I* was the first one to touch him, see him, hold and LOVE him, no bright lights (A cold March morning at 5AM) no meds, no rubber gloves, no poking and prodding, just warmth and love and milk under Mama's shirt until we go to the ER. And, they repsected my wishes and did not medicate my precious baby. I wouldn't change a thing about my son's birth. But my heart hurts at the thought of not having midwives and a homebirth. I love your blog, btw!

Housefairy said...

Cool story, Stacey!

I always read those people magazine cover stories in the big supermarkets that said "SHE DIDNT MAKE IT TO THE HOSPITAL IN TIME!" and thought "cool. lucky woman and luckier child"

But you really did it!

A family member on my husbands' side refused to even SAY the word MIDWIFE, and always asked me "what did the doctor say?" whenever we saw each other. And to top it all off, when I told this person that everything was great (with me and the baby), it seemed to frustrate rather than reassure.

Lack of medi-scare stories puts folks on edge almost as bad as lack of drama and danger stories about the birth itself.

Housefairy said...

Oh, Andrea there was nothing as lonely and alone as birthing in a hospital. Especially after my c-sections. I could have died and not been found for HOURS. Then, both times, my husband was threatened with job termination if he did not return to work immediatly. So I was left alone at home, cracked in half like a broken pencil, guts oozing out of infected staples, trying to nurse while my other children somehow didnt die. Thsi went on day and night for weeks and weeks until I was vaguely able to stand up with some tight jeans that worked as a painful makeshift girdle.

gotta love the support network.

Also, I was this close to hiring a post partum doula and was talked out of budgeting for this service in a fit of outrageous irony by the very folks who could have easily stopped by once a day and brough us some lunch or given me a phone call to see if I had died or not.

Que Sera. What didnt kill me definatley made me sadder, stronger, and forced me to finally find my own real tribe in a new town. So that was my abandonment, really. From the slicing moment onward, I was completely alone and at the mercy of busy hectic nurses and then, my own devices and painpills (do not take while breastfeeding) whoops.

In hindsight, we should have let them fire him. Our family is much more important and we honestly felt that we would starve if we missed even one paycheck. Now I know better. But we were scared and in no position to try to make our lives even worse than they were at those moments. I know now we could have sued for violation of the FMLA act and gotten unemployment.

Housefairy said...

My sister hired me someone who was from a housecleaning agency. this owman was a absolutle horror and she made my first day home feel like there was an angry visitor in my own home. she didnt clean, she didnt help, and she was really uncomfortbale with me breastfeeding so "openly"--12 pound newborn, c-section, cant really do much besides get semi topless. She sighed and huffed when she was needed to fetch my 2 year old off of the stairs or the table, and when I needed someone to merely WATCH the new baby while I peed, she sighed and told my daughter to do it. She made fun of the TV shows we liked on Nick Jr and Noggin, and she told innapropriate stories about her co-workers and her freinds in front of my kids. I had to cook lunch and was weeping in the kitchen from having to stand that long. When I called the agency that night to ask that she not come back, as urged by my husband who found me in a state of distress far worse than I would have been if she had not been there, she ended up getting fired. this sent my postpartum hormonal bubble of exhaustion and delicacy into a whirlwind as a memeber of my family laid into me verbally about the poor woman and how I ruined HER life (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?)

So, since I was naughty enough to not like this terrible person in my babymoon coccoon, I was ostracized and I think part of my extreme abandonment was somehow a result of this. Hopefully this is as bizarre and nonsensical as it sounds, because it was truly one of the weirdest and most disturbing parts of my life experiences to date. It was a loverly gesture by my sister, who works full time and was pregnant herself, but this was not my fault that the chick was so unprofessional or ill equpiied to do this job. I needed my husband or someone loving and experienced, not an angry stranger. What a world.

Andrea said...

Joy -- Your story about this woman hired to help you really makes me sad. It was so well meaning, really the right thing for your relative to do, to hire you some help, but it went such an impersonal route as a cleaning service that it ended up cold and dysfunctional, and not about you.

It reminds me of other stuff surrounding birth that's a warped version of what it once was and should be. Like baby showers, right? A tradition that should be where women of a community come together to help a new mother prepare with sage advice and useful gifts becomes in our culture (at its worst) a silly party with cornball decorations and presents like pee-pee tee-pees and adorable baby outfits that are totally impractical.

I once saw an MTV Real Life where a pregnant teenager was dependent on her baby shower for gear, like she really couldn't get it any other way, and she ended up with a big stack of outfits and stuffed animals but nothing she needed. She was grumpy, and her baby's daddy's mother got all pissed at her for being grumpy because said woman spent like $200 on food and decorations for the shower.


Anonymous said...

I was not your Midwife, but as a Midwife I love what you wrote and said....I just wish that comments like....don't you want to see a doctor?? didn't have to happen and women didn't have to feel like they had to defend the decision that ultimately is the best one for them. sigh. Oh yeah, and I think UCer's Rock!!! Kelly