I had my first child with a hospital-based group of midwives. I had an uneventful pregnancy and attended Bradley Method classes with my husband. I thought I was prepared for a satisfying birth experience. As it turned out I did not have the support I needed or expected I would have.
I had several days of pre-labor and during this time my husband was ill and the midwife on call was one I had not met and gave very little support over the phone. When I did go to the hospital I had to wait in the triage room for more than three hours until the midwife’s shift started and she showed up, even though on the phone she had told me I could go to the hospital at that time. She was not around during my labor as she had several other deliveries that day. She showed up to catch for me.
I was upset about my experience, but I was a new mother and didn’t have much time to dwell on it. I also had early difficulties with breatfeeding because my son was tongue-tied. In his first week I was calling support helplines and driving back to the hospital to see the lactation consultant. I felt very alone during all this. As time moved on I did talk to a therapist about my dissapointing experience.
When I became pregnant again, I went back to the same practice. It was what I knew. I felt prepared in that I’d been through the process before and I wasn’t going to expect much from the midwives as far as emotional support went. Unfortunately as I neared the end of my first trimester my tolerable level of nausea turned into vomiting that required medicine to control. I was absolutely miserable and was losing weight. Through all this I was still getting the standard five minute visit; weight check, blood pressure, heart tones and prescription renewal. I was always rescheduled a month out. I called and set up more frequent appointments, but all they did for me was send me for IV fluids and an ultrasound. I just did not feel cared for.
I began to interview doulas because I knew I would need some emotional support in labor and was longing for some support to endure my pregnancy. I spoke with Beth and she just asked if I had considered a home birth. I had, briefly, but didn’t think it was something I could do. She encouraged me to meet with Cosette if I was interested.
I went to one of her informational meetings. I sat there physically ill and emotionally hurting and heard her talk about the strength and knowledge that women have, that they just need someone to hold the space for them. I left there and cried, I did not feel strong. I also cried because of the positive energy and compassion that Cosette has. That was something I wanted to feel a part of but I didn’t think it was possible for me. Even with these feelings, and strong emotional response that scared me, there was a small voice in me saying I could. So I set up an individual consult.
At this meeting I cried most of the time. I felt ridiculous because I rarely express emotion like that around other people. Cosette assured me that other women cry at appointments and that it is a normal and necessary step to releasing fears surrounding birth that are so common in our society. She also gave me great nutritional advice to help with my nausea and vomiting and made copies for me to take of this information from several books, and this was just a consult. Needless to say I did decide to transfer to her.
I made changes to my eating and after several weeks was able to quit the medicine. I attended several group prenatals and a couple of the birth circle meetings. I read some of the books that Cosette and my doula recommended. Appointments weren’t five minutes and they weren’t focused on recording my physical stats. I was asked how I was feeling and what I was thinking about. I finally began to feel that I was being cared for.
I am very glad I chose to give birth at home. I anticipated a long labor again and instead had a quick labor. While some of that was just that it was a second birth I credit a lot to being at home, being relaxed and knowing that I was supported by everyone on my team.
Near the end of my labor I remember hearing Cosette telling me to not be afraid. I don’t remember the exact words she used, but that was the message I heard. It was what I needed to hear at that moment to not hold back as my body pushed. I did not think that I was being critiqued or that I had to do anything for anyone else. I became that strong women that Cosette had talked about, that had the knowledge to birth.