Happy day to you!
I have a treat in store for you guys. During my first tour through Virginia, I met Desiree as a patient. I was there for her dating ultrasound but wasn’t there for her birth. And I still remember caring for her all these years later (midwives have memories like this). I was delighted when she reached out a while back to say hello and reminisce. She loves birth stories and wanted to share the story of her three births – especially because she has had care from OBGYNs, CNMs and CPMs and birthed in a birth center and in a hospital. She also speaks frankly about why each each provider or birth setting was chosen – an honest transparency that is really important to talk about (i.e. money/cost, family factors, even fear and anxiety). She offers a pros/cons list at the end of the stories that is invaluable to a mama/family looking to navigate her own pregnancy and birth.
Desiree is also the first mama to share a trio of stories. I laughed and even felt the tears swell up at reading each one. They flow so beautifully and you can see how strong Desiree is through each experience. You can also see how motivated she was to find someone who could support physiologic birth for her and her family – especially in the setting of the pandemic. I think a lot of mamas can relate with her thoughts during the pandemic about support during your pregnancy and birth.
Desiree also included a list of Louisiana resources. These are included at the bottom of the post but are also on the STATE RESOURCES page. (Note: I don’t receive any money for posting birth resources – the resources are there so women, families and birth workers can research and access the best care for their birth).
It’s an honor to share in her stories today…I hope you feel all the warm tingles and smiles as we dive in!
When I was pregnant with my first baby, now 6 years ago, I didn’t really do much to prepare apart from the resources the providers gave me and the classes offered at the military hospital. At the time, I didn’t know what my options for care were but I did know I wanted midwives. I had heard a couple of women in my life talk about midwives, including my mother and mother-in-law. I probably couldn’t have told you the difference between a midwife and OBGYN but I had the impression that midwives were more “natural,” whatever that meant. Lucky for me, the military hospital that I received care at had midwives as part of their women’s health practice (including Jamie!). I had all intentions of an “all-natural birth.” Looking back, I would say what I actually desired was a normal spontaneous labor without an epidural and minimal interventions. Spoiler alert: God had other plans.
After a pregnancy without any complications, around 36 weeks I started to have really intense itching on my hands and feet. It did not go away after taking showers (I thought maybe it was from being outside) or putting lotion on and then I started waking up during the night from the itching. I forget where I heard of cholestasis of pregnancy (probably google) but as someone who worried about everything in my pregnancy, I called labor and delivery and explained my situation and said I was concerned about cholestasis. 6 years later and I distinctly remember the nurse I spoke with asking me how many weeks I was and then telling me it probably wasn’t cholestasis as that is usually diagnosed earlier. I doubted myself but my husband and I decided to go into labor and delivery just to get things checked out anyway. I don’t remember all the details but I do remember that Jamie was one of the providers I saw at labor and delivery and I remember her commenting on how swollen my feet were. I saw her several times for prenatal appointments so she knew what I looked like before. Anyway, they did some bloodwork, including to check for cholestasis. One of the labs that came back that night showed that my liver enzymes were elevated. Although for the definitive confirmation of cholestasis, that bloodwork had to be sent off and we wouldn’t get the results until the following Monday. This was a Thursday evening. I was given the medicine that they give women who have cholestasis of pregnancy to take, just in case. I was also instructed to collect my urine over 24 hours to check for preeclampsia I think. They scheduled a follow up appt for Monday morning. If you have cholestasis you are induced at 37 weeks as cholestasis increases the risk of complications for baby, including stillbirth. After taking the medicine, my itching dramatically decreased. Even though I didn’t have official confirmation yet, I was pretty sure I had cholestasis since my itching responded to the medicine. As a first time mom, I was so scared. I had gone through almost my whole pregnancy with no complications. I remember laying on the couch while my husband was at work that weekend and crying about what was going on.
On Monday morning, I went in and had a nonstress test and then met with the OBGYN. I remember him coming in and telling me I had cholestasis and I would be induced that night at 5 pm. I was so excited to know I would be meeting my baby soon and thankful for trusting my instincts. I was also scared of being induced. Among my concerns was I thought that it would increase my chance of having a c-section. A talk with my mom helped me feel not so scared as she shared that she had two (of 3) of her births induced and didn’t have a c-section for any of them. My husband and I went home to pack, drove over to Virginia Beach to pick up cloth diapers that we had ordered, and took naps before going in for our baby’s birth day!
It’s been 6 years, so I don’t remember all the details but I do still have a general idea of my induction process. My induction started Monday evening. It started with a tampon like thing inserted to help soften my cervix. A little while later, a balloon was inserted into my cervix. That hurt incredibly and I threw up after, but they gave me pain medicine and I slept for a little while. At some point they started Pitocin. Honestly, I don’t remember even having contractions or being uncomfortable or anything…until Wednesday afternoon when they broke my water. After that, I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain I was in. I remember trying to walk around and leaking fluid. I tried getting into the shower to help but that didn’t provide any relief. Since I had an IV and the fetal monitor band poking into my belly (the hospital had one that could go in the shower) around me, it felt so awkward and uncomfortable in addition to the pain. After feeling like I was going to pass out from the pain and feeling like I couldn’t talk with no reprieve, I decided to get an epidural. Once the epidural started to work, I was able to get some sleep. I slept with a peanut ball in between my legs to help progress. Around 2:30 am Thursday morning, they came to check me and said I was fully dilated. They sat me up to let gravity help my baby down. A little while later they came in and since I had an epidural, the nurse coached me when to push. I couldn’t feel any contractions and was talking and laughing during this. I pushed 7 or 8 times I think and my daughter was born at 3:29 am! She ended up being born at 37 weeks and 5 days and was 7 lbs 6 oz (fun fact: my husband guessed her weight exactly prior to her birth!). She was healthy, I was healthy and our long hospital stay came to an end two days later when we were discharged home.
When I found out I was pregnant in fall 2019, I knew I wanted to do things differently. Although I didn’t have anything to compare my first experience to, I wanted to try again for an all-natural birth. During this time, I had made a good friend who had a daughter the same age as mine. She had her daughter at a birth center and hearing her speak of birth was inspiring and intriguing to me. I had never heard of anyone talk of birth the way she did and to be honest, I did not know of anything other than hospital births. (I agree with Jamie that it is so important that women share their birth stories). I was so empowered by just one woman sharing her experience with me. At the time I met my friend, she was currently pregnant with her 2nd child and planning a homebirth. I didn’t know what a homebirth was let alone know someone who had one! When I found out I was pregnant, I delved into the resources my friend so graciously shared with me (including the Mama Natural Week by Week Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth, spinning babies, and hypnobabies). During this pregnancy I nourished my body intentionally and took walks of at least 1.5 miles nearly every day with my family.
My husband is in the military and we had moved from Virginia to Louisiana prior to finding out we were expecting. I found a group of certified nurse midwives that operated out of a birth center within a hospital in New Orleans. They had a clinic area and two birthing suites in the birth center. When in labor, if there wasn’t a labor and delivery nurse available to come down to the birthing center (labor and delivery was on one floor and the birthing center was on another) then you would labor on the labor and delivery floor but you would have the midwives there to be with you and follow the same kind of care (including no routine IV, intermittent fetal monitoring, ability to eat and drink if desired, freedom of movement and positioning, etc). This sounded like a good fit for me so I established myself as a patient there. The midwives were wonderful and I was looking forward to a (hopefully) different birth experience. And I have great insurance that covers certified nurse midwives! My one concern was having cholestasis again and having to be induced although I would still be able to receive care from the midwives if that ended up happening. I was under the impression there wasn’t much I could do to improve my odds of not getting cholestasis again so I resigned to the fact that it was out of my control.
In March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world I felt very nervous about my choice of the birthing center in the hospital. For one, I was worried about being around a lot of people in a hospital setting and getting covid. Second, I was concerned about the restrictions. Between the possibility of having to wear masks during labor to being concerned if my husband would even be able to be there with me. This prompted me to seek out a different option. At first I considered a homebirth. This was March and I was due in June. The cost of a homebirth with the certified professional midwife (CPM) I contacted was going to be $5,000 plus additional supplies. Although my husband supported my decision either way, I didn’t feel comfortable with the cost at this time in our life. Lucky for me, a new freestanding birth center had just opened up in March 2020 a little over an hour away from us. And the CPM I contacted about a homebirth was also attending births there. It was an intimate setting with a few birthing suites and two CPMs who were attending births there. Even better, I still had insurance under my mother (until she retired later that year), which covered all but appx. $1,000 of the cost of care from the new birth center. This ended up working out well for us!
I already had all of my bloodwork and ultrasounds done (and new I was having a second baby girl!) since I transferred a little after 20 weeks so I had the previous birth center that was affiliated with the hospital send my records over to this new birth center. After learning of my history of cholestasis with my first pregnancy, my CPM suggested that I drink dandelion root tea as dandelion root supports the liver. I drank it faithfully every day from when I started care with her to when I delivered in hopes of avoiding cholestasis this time around. The tricky thing about receiving care from a CPM, is that if I ended up having cholestasis again, I would have to switch back to a CNM or OBGYN so that I could be induced. But she assured me that even if that happened, she would still be there to support me during that process.
Since I hadn’t experienced spontaneous labor with my first, I had no idea what to expect. Every ache and pain in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy I thought for sure was labor starting…and it wasn’t. A valuable piece of wisdom my midwife gave me was that if I can sleep through anything that I think are contractions, then they’re probably not the real thing. I was due on a Friday (June 26). Thursday evening, I used the bathroom and had brown tinged mucus. I thought to myself, this must be what I have read about with either the mucus plug or bloody show! I texted my midwife but I had an appointment with her the next morning anyway, on my due date, so if nothing progressed that night, I would be seeing her in the morning. Nothing happened that night. At my appointment the next morning, I was pretty weepy, pretty done being pregnant (my belly was HUGE), and felt disappointed that nothing happened following the brown mucus from the night before. I decided with my midwife to not do a cervical exam and scheduled my next appointment for 41 weeks, praying I would not make it all the way to that appointment.
Before I left to go home after my appointment, I used the bathroom and had a bit of lightly pink tinged mucus. I felt hopeful again that labor might be near! I went to bed that night and for the first time, I woke up from my sleep at midnight with cramps that I absolutely could not sleep through. I was so excited! I figured I had a bit of time before things really picked up, so I went downstairs and did some dishes and tidied up some odds and ends, and packed up some last minute things we needed for the birth center (like a hotplate to warm the soup I had made for after birth). I was walking around and squatting during more strong contractions. Around 5 am I was shivering and cold so I got a blanket to wrap around me and I started being a little bit shaky during contractions. I don’t remember the frequency or duration of my contractions but I’m pretty sure they were coming a little bit sporadically. I called my midwife and she didn’t think I was in active labor from my voice and contractions and suggested that I take a bath because if it was early labor, it would slow it down, and if not, the warm water would likely make the contractions more consistent. I was timing my contractions when I was in the bath and I remember they got further apart. So, I got out and tried to lay down. My contractions started coming more regularly every 10-12 minutes and it was extremely uncomfortable to lay down during them. I got up and was walking around a little bit while laboring. My husband and daughter got up and I asked my husband to take her downstairs because I was starting to feel really shaky during my contractions and wanted space. I remember texting my midwife around 8 am and saying something like I think I might be dying. She suggested that I eat some breakfast and then meet her at the birth center so she could check my cervix and see if my contractions were being productive and causing cervical change. I ate some breakfast (eggs, fruit, and nuts) with my husband and daughter and we packed our bags up in the car – just in case this was actually it. I felt quite fine in between my contractions. When I would have a contraction, I would just say I needed it quiet and then go back to normal once it was done. I think they were coming every 8-10 minutes or so at this time. I felt like a first-time mom since I had no idea what to expect from spontaneous labor. Before we left our house, I had some more blood-tinged mucus. We left around 10 am and got to the birth house a little after 11. I had contractions on the ride over (every 6-7 minutes or so) but would just squeeze my husband’s hand and ask for quiet, and then resume chatting and listening to music when the contraction ended. But the contractions were definitely not very intense on the ride over.
This was a Saturday and my midwife was at her son’s baseball game with her other children. She arrived to the birth house around 12:20 pm. In the meantime, I had walked around outside the birth house (in the hot & humid Louisiana weather…luckily it was a bit cloudy!). I continued to time my contractions and they were still coming pretty consistently every 5-7 minutes. However, they did start to pick up in intensity. Shortly before she arrived, I was standing outside the passenger seat of our vehicle, with the air conditioning on and leaning onto the seat with my hands. When my midwife arrived, I started crying and was very weepy and I had no idea why. I used the bathroom and had more bloody mucus before she checked my cervix. After she checked my cervix, I asked her if we would be staying. She said she wasn’t going to tell me a number (for my dilation) but that we would definitely be staying. I later learned after my baby was born that I was 10 cm and fully effaced at that time!! The intensity was starting to overtake me and I didn’t know what to expect and how much longer it would last. My midwife assured me that she thought it would be very soon. I have a copy of my midwife’s notes from my labor and birth, which are such a treasure to me!
I will share the rest of my labor timeline from those notes:
- 1:23 pm – sitting on birth ball, midwife providing counter pressure on my hips
- 1:48 pm – my husband takes over counter pressure, I am starting to become vocal
- 1:48 pm – I said I felt the urge to push but feel confused if I need to have a bowel movement or if it’s the baby, CPM notifies the second CPM who was supposed to be there to assist to come over
- 1:50 pm – birth tub is filling, sounded like I was fighting the urge to push at the peak of the contraction
- 1:54 pm – actively pushing
- 2:04 pm – my midwife felt my water break in the birth tub while applying counter pressure to the perineum area
- 2:13 pm – crowning
- 2:15 pm – birth of head
- 2:16 pm – time of birth (body)…the birth of baby’s body was slowed a bit due to nuchal cord
I gave birth on my knees while leaning forward and supporting my upper body on the side of the birth tub. My husband and almost 4 year old daughter were there. I planned to catch my own baby but I was tired from labor and felt like I couldn’t do it, so my midwife brought my baby up to me out of the water and I sat back in the warm water with my second baby daughter on my chest. I was SO hungry and my husband and daughter brought me several granola bars and fruit snacks to eat while I was still in the tub. I was scared to deliver my placenta but with guidance and gentle assistance from my midwife, I delivered it about 30 mins after my baby was born. After delivering the placenta and cutting baby’s cord, I moved into bed to rest. At 3:30, my midwife examined me and I had one small superficial tear that didn’t need to be stitched. At 5:15, they performed my daughter’s newborn exam on the side of the bed. Both my midwife and the assisting midwife were saying how big she was but she seemed so small to me! She was 9 lbs 10 oz! They discharged me from the birth house a little after 6 pm. I would have 3 follow up visits at my home at 24 hours, 3 days, and 1 week.
As this is my most recent birth experience and still pretty fresh in my mind, it is a little bit longer!
When I found out I was pregnant with our third baby, and following my amazing experience with my CPM at the birth center, I initially wanted to have a homebirth with her attending. However, the homebirth cost was again a cost that I didn’t think was the best decision for us, especially when I have insurance that would cover the midwives (who were also great) in the hospital affiliated birth center in New Orleans. I no longer had the insurance I had with my second that covered the majority of the birth center cost (as my mother had retired and her insurance plan changed), so receiving care at the birth center from my second daughter would have cost more than a homebirth. So, I again chose the group of midwives that I started with for my second daughter at the birth center in the hospital.
After having prodromal labor for several days before, I woke up that Tuesday morning around 3:30 am with mild contractions. I couldn’t get back to sleep although I wasn’t uncomfortable
laying down so I stayed in bed and decided to time them. They were coming 10-15 minutes apart but were mild so I just figured it was more prodromal labor and fully expected them to fizzle out once I got up. I let my husband know before he went to work just in case they picked up but I honestly didn’t expect them to and didn’t want him to stay home from work for nothing. I was feeling achy so decided to get in the shower and see if that felt good. I laid back down after my shower and was able to rest for about an hour. I was concerned about being tired once the real labor started since my sleep had been disrupted for several nights before and I had been up since 3:30 am at that point so I was glad to at least physically rest my body even if I didn’t sleep. I was having pretty strong contractions laying down and let my husband know I might need him to come home soon. They were coming more consistently apart every 10 minutes. I planned to call my midwives when the birth center opened at 8 am, even though there is an on call midwife, I really didn’t think I was in labor so I figured it was fine to wait. Plus, I wanted to see how I felt once I got up since from my experience they had stopped once I got up the few nights before.
I got up around 7 am to get my daughters up. My 6 yr old was attending a summer program at her school that week so I had to get us ready to get out the door for that. I had a contraction before we left the house that was a bit stronger and I had to breathe through it a little so that got my attention. My plan was to labor at home for as long as possible as I really didn’t want to go into the hospital too early and have to labor there for a long time. Contractions with my second daughter started at 12 am, steadily increasing in frequency and strength, and I had her a little after 2 pm so since I expected this birth to go similarly to her and since we had plenty of time to comfortably drive to the birth center for her, I thought that was a pretty good plan of action. I brought my daughter to school and I think I might have had a contraction or two driving but they were bearable. Around 9 am, I noticed contractions felt like they had slowed down. I figured it had just been some more prodromal labor. And decided to not call the midwife.
Around 10:30 am, I noticed some contractions that were stronger but were coming pretty far apart and sporadically. Like 15-30 minutes. I wasn’t timing them on my phone app but I would look at the clock just to get an idea of their timing. At this point I thought I might be in early labor so I let my husband know. But I still had a wait and see how the day goes plan. I got frustrated with the prodromal labor in the previous days/week so finally came to a peace that I would just wait until I couldn’t ignore it any longer and just trust that my body and baby were doing what they needed to do to prepare and that I would know when it was time. When I was in labor with my second it was very obvious to me so I figured it would be the same! Plus, I didn’t want to be a 3rd time mom (2nd time spontaneously going into labor) who shows up at the hospital just to be told it’s not time. Or show up too early and have to labor there for a while. And even though I was 39 weeks and 4 days, I wasn’t even really sure that the birth of my baby was right around the corner! My second was born at 40 weeks and 1 day so I thought I would go at least to my due date. And the prodromal labor threw me off. Not to mention the logistics of bringing my children to my friend and the 40 minute drive to the hospital just to turn around if it wasn’t actual labor. That felt like a waste of time to me so I wanted to wait until I knew for sure it was time!
My toddler went down for her nap that day around 11:30 am and I laid down too and was able to sleep for a little more than an hour. I briefly stirred from my sleep one time for a contraction. Once I got up, I put together lunch. I had a pretty big appetite for lunch. Since I was able to sleep and I had previously been given the advice that if you can sleep through the contractions, they’re the not the real thing, I was thinking that I was, at best, experiencing some very early labor. Around 1 pm, I used the bathroom and had the tiniest amount of pink tinged mucus. The amount was so small that if I had not been looking closely at the toilet paper, I would’ve missed it. With my second, I had a large amount of noticeable brown mucus a day and a half before she was born and had quite a bit of pink tinged mucus the morning of her birth-day. Since it was such a tiny amount, I thought, my baby will be here in the next day or two. So this was exciting to me! And I let my husband know I thought labor would pick up that evening or the next day or so. During this time, I continued to have increasingly stronger contractions that I couldn’t walk through and had to stop and breath through but they continued to come so sporadically and far apart.
Around 2:30 pm, I timed two contractions and they were 13 minutes apart. I had to go pick up my daughter from school at 3:30 pm but between 2:30 and 3 they had increased in such intensity that I wasn’t sure how I was going to go pick her up. My husband’s drive home is a little over an hour without any traffic so I knew he couldn’t get home in time to pick up our daughter and I thought about asking a friend if she could pick her up but ended up deciding to wait until I had my next contraction and leave right after that. I calculated with the time to drive to school, wait in car line, and then come home, I should only have another contraction or two if they were still coming 10 or more minutes apart. Even though I was getting quite uncomfortable. In the car, I watched the clock and saw that although these contractions were very very strong, they were coming 7-9 minutes apart. Because of the intensity, I told my husband he needed to head home. It felt awful driving and sitting in the car with the contractions. I’m not sure that I should have even been driving. With my second, I had contractions that were 8 minutes apart and she wasn’t born for another 6 hours! My husband left work about 15 minutes before he usually does. And thank goodness he did!
When I came home from picking my daughter up, I was so uncomfortable. It was a struggle to walk up to our second floor apartment! I put a TV show on for the girls and got in the shower to see if the water had any effect on the contractions. I continued to have contractions standing in the water so decided I should get out and time them for an hour and see if they were coming in a consistent pattern. I got out and sat on my exercise ball in the bathroom and French braided my hair while listening to birth affirmations and timing my contractions. I messaged my friend at 4:30 pm and let her know that I thought we would be heading into the hospital this evening and that I had been timing contractions for about 15 minutes to see if there was a good pattern and would let her know in about 45 minutes what our plan was. Between 4:30 and 4:40 I became very weepy and saw that my contractions were coming 4-6 minutes apart for the last 20 minutes. I called the midwife on call, who happened to be one of my favorite midwives there! I liked all the midwives I saw for care but she was extra special to me! Anyway, I started crying on the phone because of the intensity and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the hospital. Interestingly, with my second, I got very weepy about an hour and a half before she was born. I was trying to figure out if we had enough time to make the 40-minute drive over to the hospital in New Orleans where I was planning to give birth. I wanted the midwife care and I wanted the women I was familiar with. She asked if I felt the pressure of the baby yet and I didn’t so I decided I was going to try to make it over there. These contractions were so intense!
At 4:45, I texted my husband that we would need to leave as soon as he got home and he let me know he had just pulled up. We frantically got our stuff and loaded the girls into the car and drove to drop the girls off to my friend first. I was so uncomfortable sitting in the car and the contractions were intense. I was watching the clock and saw that they were coming 4-6 mins apart still. I thought that was at least good that they weren’t coming closer together yet even if they were very strong. I again thought about going to the hospital closest to us which would have been about 15 minutes away. But decided against it. A 23.83 mile long bridge (the world’s longest bridge over a body of water!) over Lake Pontchartrain separates us from New Orleans. And for some reason there are these gentle bumps on the bridge the whole.entire.way. They did not feel great while I was in labor! I don’t remember much about the drive over except that it felt like one continuous contraction. My husband was watching the clock to see how close my contractions were. I was pretty vocal at this point so he could tell when they started and stopped. He said they were 2-3 minutes while we were going over the bridge. And we still had another 15 minutes to the hospital once we got off the bridge.
About 5 minutes from the hospital I knew I was not going to be able to make the walk from the parking garage up to the 6th floor (it’s a pretty big hospital) so I called labor and delivery. I told the nurse I wasn’t going to be able to walk up once we got there. She told me where I needed to go once I got there and I told her no, I know where I need to go but I will not be able to physically get up there. So she said someone would meet me down at the drop off area.
About 2 minutes from the hospital, on the streets of New Orleans, I felt the urge to push. I told Brandon and he told me to try to wait (haha!!) because we were almost there. We pulled up to the drop off area and two of my favorite midwives were standing there with a wheelchair waiting for me. I felt so relieved and felt like okay I can have my baby now. My husband dropped me off and then parked quickly, luckily there was a spot right near the drop off area in the parking garage. There was no way I could sit down anymore (10/10 would not recommend sitting in the car for labor). So I kneeled backward on the wheelchair and they wheeled me up and were speaking so gently and encouragingly to me all the way up to labor and delivery. One of my midwives told me to imagine my baby’s fuzzy little head! I don’t know why but I remember that so distinctly because I thought it was funny. They had a nurse meet us on our way up with supplies in case I had her before we got all the way up to the room.
When we got in the room, I went over to the bed and stood at the end of it and had a couple contractions standing there. My midwife raised the bed so I could stand more comfortably and lean on the bed to labor and reminded me to relax my shoulders during the contractions. She also provided pressure on my back and that felt amazing. I was thirsty so someone got me some water and my husband held it up to my mouth for me to drink. My body started pushing and my water broke shortly after. It sounded like a water balloon popping, haha!
The release of pressure felt really good. I felt her head emerging and remember being worried that it was going to feel more intense because I wasn’t in the water like I was with my second but to my surprise it wasn’t! There was also a slight pause between when I first felt her head and when the rest of her body was delivered and I asked my midwives if she was stuck, haha! My midwife said my daughter’s head emerged and then her little body turned so gracefully and she entered the world so gently. I heard her most beautiful cry and my midwife brought her through my legs right up to me so I could see her and I climbed up into the bed and held her. And I didn’t tear! We got to the hospital at 6:19 pm, my water broke at 6:34 pm and she was born at 6:37 p.m. My midwives didn’t even have to see how dilated I was! I definitely got my wish of not laboring long at the hospital!
We did delayed cord clamping again and my husband cut the cord for the third time, we marveled at the placenta together with my midwife, and they waited more than an hour before doing any measurements. She was 8 lbs 9 oz. We didn’t do her first bath at the hospital and she never left our side. I had the kindest nurses, our wishes were respected, and I felt so happy with the care my baby and I received. They moved us to our mother/baby room a couple hours after she was born and we spent two nights at the hospital. It was not my favorite to be sleeping in a hospital bed or cooped up in a hospital room BUT the food was amazing (they had a menu that you could order from for breakfast, lunch, and dinner…you would call a number and place your order and my husband was also able to order for only $6 or so, and then they would bring it up to your room about 30 mins later), it was nice to be waited on hand and foot, and I am grateful that my husband and I had time alone with our new baby before we went home to our other children.
The second night we were there one of the midwives who was there for my baby’s birth came to our room and chatted with us for a couple of hours and that was awesome to have that time with her! It took me a little bit of time to process my labor and birth experience. It unfolded so differently than I expected and much more quickly. Especially since for most of Tuesday morning and early afternoon the contractions were so sporadic and far apart I thought I had much more time and didn’t even recognize that I guess I was probably in labor. And then it went from 0-60 around 3 pm and I had her just 3 1⁄2 hours later. And not to mention the prodromal labor confused me. I grieved that I didn’t get to enjoy my labor more, that up until I got to the hospital it felt pretty chaotic, and that I didn’t have more of a transition from labor to birth. It felt so fast.
First Birth – Induction at a Hospital with Team of Certified Nurse Midwives & OBGYNS
- Received care from the same providers even when I developed cholestasis (although there were OBGYNs that I hadn’t met before who were involved in my care during the induction process as it depended on which providers were working…an OBGYN was the one to deliver my baby because she was the one who was working at the time…I did have some of the midwives during the process too)
- The OBGYNS and CNMs were all wonderful that provided care for me and my baby
- My insurance covered the cost of care
- Supplies were all there
- Postpartum care
- Located close to where I lived which was convenient for prenatal care and if I had gone into labor spontaneously
- The induction process was long and the procedures were painful
- I wasn’t guaranteed to have a midwife deliver my baby as it depended on what provider was working (OBGYN or CNM)
I would without a doubt, choose spontaneous labor over being induced if given the option. That being said, I recognize that while pregnancy and labor are a physiologically normal event for a woman, there are some conditions that can cause complications for baby or mother that require medical intervention – as was the case with my first birth. And I am thankful for the technology that helped me deliver my sweet daughter a little bit early to keep her safe. Having two additional different birth experiences, my first birth feels like something that happened to me versus me being an active participant in bringing my baby into the world. It was painful in a different way than my spontaneous labors were and looking back, I felt much more removed from the process. The pain from the induction was hurting pain versus my experience of spontaneous labor that was more like an intense physical exertion. But again, the conditions were different and necessitated my induction.
Second Birth – Spontaneous Labor at a Freestanding Birth Center with Certified Professional Midwife
- Loved being in my own bed that night
- Truly felt involved, educated, and empowered in my prenatal care and labor experience
- The refreshing and empowering approach to childbirth that my CPM facilitated
- Ability to make decisions
- Intimate and calm birth setting with only me, my husband & daughter, my midwife and her assistant
- Having my older daughter be there for the birth
- My insurance covered a significant portion of the cost
- Inability for CPM to prescribe medicine
- Would have had to transfer to a different provider if I developed cholestasis
- Distance (for prenatal appointments as well as labor/birth)
- Postpartum care
- Had to purchase and bring a lot of my own supplies to the birth center (towels, postpartum pads/underwear, hose for the birth tub, food for after, baby diapers and wipes, etc.)
My second birth was so healing. It truly feels like a gift from God that I didn’t have cholestasis again (there’s a 60%-90% chance of having cholestasis in a subsequent pregnancy, depending on the severity). It was a primal, spiritual, and truly empowering experience for me. I was truly in awe of my body and baby and feel a deep bond with generations of women who have brought new life into the world. I absolutely adored my CPM, but it wasn’t without drawbacks.
CPMs are unable to prescribe medicine, so when I had a UTI, I had to go to an urgent care to show them the lab results from my urine sample from my CPM showing I had a UTI, and ask them for antibiotics and I’m pretty sure the doctor at the urgent care was uncomfortable with the situation.
I have a couple of anxiety disorders and the post-partum period is an especially vulnerable time for me. I was taking Zoloft with my first daughter and I don’t remember being terribly affected by my anxiety postpartum. I had stopped taking Zoloft and therapy was managing my symptoms pretty successfully but after my second daughter, I suffered through frequent panic in the first couple of weeks postpartum and since my midwife couldn’t prescribe medicine, the best I could do was try herbal supplements that she suggested and I honestly didn’t find helped me.
Additionally, since my CPM was a one-woman business, I felt uncomfortable texting or calling her any time of the day or night both while I was pregnant and during the postpartum period. I know she said she was available for me but I also know it was just her and she has a family.
When I was concerned about my bleeding postpartum she basically told me there wasn’t much she could do if I was concerned and so I ended up going to the ER only to find out it was normal ebs and flows of lochia. I then followed up with an OBGYN (as the ER doctor suggested) who I had never met. I find postpartum to be an intimate, sensitive, and vulnerable time and I didn’t like receiving postpartum care from providers I didn’t know and who didn’t know me. I also didn’t like leaving the birth center 4 hours after I had just had a baby and traveling more than an hour home.
Third Birth – Spontaneous Labor at a Hospital/Hospital Affiliated Birth Center With a Team of Certified Nurse Midwives
- Prenatal and postpartum care
- 24 hr on call midwife on the labor and delivery floor – I found helpful during both prenatal and postpartum periods
- Ability for CNMs to prescribe medicine and order bloodwork and ultrasounds
- A group of wonderful midwives
- Having nurses to be there to check on mom and baby postpartum
- Having food, drinks, and medicine taken care of by the nurses and staff postpartum
- Having all the supplies there
- My insurance covered my care
- I was offered The Fresh Test for my glucose screening – LOVED it!! I’m glad I had options to choose from 😊
- Connected M.O.M which gives you a blood pressure monitor and scale. You take weekly measurements and it uploads to your patient profile and you’re able to skip a couple of the routine prenatal appointments (I forget which weeks)
- Having someone coming in to check on mom and baby frequently
- Uncomfortable hospital beds (getting into my car to leave felt like heaven for my bottom)
- Distance for prenatal care and labor/birth
I fully expected my third birth to be similar to my second so it was hard for me when it was completely different. I don’t usually like to say what I would have done differently because I truly believe in God’s divine providence, but I think if I could change something it would be to have a mindset that labor and birth is completely unique to each pregnancy and embrace the unpredictability instead of expecting it to be the same.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading my birth stories!!
Desiree was kind enough to send along some Lousiana birth resources. I’ve included them below and updated the STATE RESOURCES page as well.
Services in Lousiana…
Ochsner Perkin Alternative Birthing Center
4500 Clara St, New Orleans, LA 70115
Grace Midwifery Collective
Birth Center of Baton Rouge
277 Rue de la Vie Baton Rouge, LA 70817
The Natural Birth House – Midwife Kira
New Orleans Midwives
Shreveport Birth Center
Wow. Did you love it?! Thank you Desiree for sharing and for you love of birth. You can see the mama bear strength in you and I hope it empowers other women and families.
If you’ve been thinking about sharing your story on the blog – this is it! Simply write it in an email, a Word doc, a google doc and send it to email@example.com. Send some pictures too! Even if you don’t share your story publicly, be sure to take time to write it on some paper or in journal. Try buying some nice stationary and an envelope – hand write the story, seal it and put it in a memory box. You’ll treasure it for years to come.
I’ve always encouraged people to write about their births. This week I was reading another book that talked about how grief is somatic. That means that grief is in your cells, in your organs…stored in your body. The way you work that grief out of the body is by physical movement. Writing your story is the same action as taking a walk around the neighborhood – it’s just walk through your memory.
You can read all the birth stories – simply click on the link on the main menu.
And thank you for sharing in Desiree’s story today!