It’s Not Fair to Call Me Stupid

Peanut minutes after she was born in Daddy's arms (we still own that towel).

Many people think that we were stupid to have an accidental home birth. The first assumption is that our labor was so fast that we couldn’t get to the hospital in time. The second is that we were so stupid that we didn’t know it was time.

You weren’t there. You didn’t see the signs. You didn’t talk to the midwife on the phone and have her tell you that you still had a long time to go.

It’s not fair of anyone to judge our situation. Actually, from talking to other moms with posterior babies, the feelings I had were not unusual. I didn’t feel like the baby was coming because she was turned around and putting pressure on my bowel (the reason that the midwife and our Bradley teacher both thought I was constipated). The same thing causes my contractions that were anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes apart and very inconsistent. My water didn’t break. Given those signs and adding the fact that we didn’t want to go to the hospital until we absolutely had to, would you have gone in?

I’m guessing not.

Given the last 2 years to hear other people’s stories and process, I think I know what happened. It is my belief that my daughter was posterior for the majority of my labor. For a long time I was on the toilet “pushing” because the midwife said that once I was relieved of the constipation, the baby would come. Considering those two places are very close together, pushing in one place equates to at least some pushing in the other.

Then my daughter flipped around. I don’t know if she was in my birth canal or if all of the pushing before hand made her basically slip down into the birthing canal once she was in the right position. Either seems anatomically difficult, but it’s what makes the most sense for the sensations I was feeling. Suddenly, it felt like the pressure was in my vagina rather than my bowel. I thought myself crazy, but decided to check. Sure enough, she was just a few inches from crowning.

I immediately felt a strong urge to push her out. I don’t know if it was the sudden urgency of the situation if it was simply that she was finally in the correct position. Either way, it was the strongest urge I’ve ever felt. Just a few pushes and she was out. I can’t give a good idea of a time frame, but I know it was quick.

I’m sure that part of what we saw during labor could have pointed us in the right direction. Possibly I would have recognized transition if it wasn’t my first labor, but it was so short (I literally said to my husband once “I don’t think I can do this” and he said “Yes you can” and that was it) that we didn’t recognize it. Maybe if I wasn’t so afraid of going into the hospital and being stuck there and having all of these interventions, I would have gone in to get checked. If I would have had a planned home birth, maybe the midwife would have recognized the signs of a posterior labor and realized I was closer than we thought. Maybe if our midwife hadn’t had been so certain that I was just constipated, we would have seen the signs that it wasn’t constipation rather than ignoring them because the midwife must be right.

All in all, there were many things working against us making it to the hospital in time. Some simple things like not realizing that I was in transition. Some much more complex like my water not breaking.

I don’t regret birthing Peanut at home, with or without attendants. What I regret is going to the hospital afterward. What I regret is having to hear flack from people for missing the signs. What I regret is the resentment I feel towards the people in my life that think I’m stupid or ignorant for having an accidental home birth.

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16 thoughts on “It’s Not Fair to Call Me Stupid

  1. What matters is not how things happened two years ago. What matters is how what you experienced will help you determine what you’re going to do this time. Accidental or not, there’s a reason it happened the way it did. You rock, mama!

  2. Oh, sweetheart. It makes me sad to hear someone is being mean to you for the way you gave birth. First, labor is so…personal. It’s different for everyone. It feels different for everyone. It tests everyone in different ways.
    Second, according to all the information out there and all of your symptoms, you did the right thing.
    Third, every women not planning a home birth goes through that: “Is this it? How much longer? Should we leave now? Should I try and take a nap first? Do I call my husband out of his important meeting or can it wait? Do I call my midwife at 2am or can it wait until morning? If I go to the hospital now are they going to turn me away? Should I eat something before I go or is it too late?”
    And that hard part is, there are no sure answers. There are a lot of guesses, but they are only guesses. Each labor is different, and the timing is all different.
    You did fantastic with your birth. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. I think you are very, very brave.

    • That is so true! Then on top of that, my body wasn’t giving my clear signals it was really time to go. I may call the midwife too early this time, but I won’t be nearly as afraid to call her as going to the hospital. Worst case scenario with her, I just waste some of her time. Worst case scenario with the hospital, I have my birth stolen from me by interventions.

  3. Brava! It would never even occur to me to call you, or any other birthing woman, stupid! I believe that baby’s come into this world with their own personal journeys, and we have ours as mothers too. Sounds like your baby came just the way she needed to!

    And yes, posterior babies often do not give mom a solid urge to push until just before they are born. And yes, that sudden, crazy, unstoppable urge you felt is what happens when labor is not interfered with and women birth instinctively. There is a term for it: fetus ejection reflex. Most women in the hospital are unable to get to that point in labor, so in that sense you are very fortunate, you were able to experience something so primal and powerful.

    • I would say that’s exactly how it felt. I’ve heard women talk about natural childbirth being “over-rated” or “not worth it,” but I can’t imagine not having the experience now that I have. After Peanut was born I felt like screaming “I am woman, hear me roar!” at every person I saw. I did it. I participated in such an essential part of womanhood. I dealt with more than I had ever before and I succeeded. I felt like I could conquer the world. Then, of course on top of that, Peanut was responsive and alert and strong right from the get go. When we transferred to the hospital after, all the nurses were so surprised at how strong she was! I feel like I truly gave her the best start I could by birthing her exactly how I did. I have no regrets.

  4. Your experience sounds very similar to my daughter’s birth. I’m glad that no one has given me or my husband any crap about it and I’m sorry that you’ve gotten it. I agree with K La, you make smart decisions based on the information you had. And like me, you were surprised! I hope pleasantly in some ways. Now that you’ve had an unplanned unattended birth, are you considering a planned unattended birth?

    • I actually have a friend who has had both of her children unattended. I thing she is a very strong and wonderful woman. That said, I don’t think I could do it myself. I’d just be too afraid of the possibly outcomes to not have someone who is trained there with me. A midwife that has medicine in case I hemorrhage, knows infant CPR, etc. I would just be thinking too many “what if’s” and I don’t know if I’d end up enjoying it so much with all the worrying.

  5. I think your birth sounded beautiful! Perhaps I may start to leave long comments on your blog now, lol! I saw on a earlier post questions you had for the midwife. How would you answer some of those questions if you do end up having an unattended birth again? For example, if something should go wrong (heaven forbid!) with the baby and your midwife or her assistant is not there? I usually read happy, wonderful stories but on occasion have read some scary and sad stories. I’m just curious to know how you think you might prepare? I hope I did not sound like a ‘Debbie Downer’ there….not my intention! Thanks again for sharing!

    • I’m thinking that I won’t be put in the same situation since I’m planning a home birth. Last time I may have gone to the hospital earlier if I wasn’t afraid of all of the interventions. Possibly it was just my emotions telling me I wanted to stay at home because that was the right place for me. Either way, it’s no longer an issue. I’m sure that I’ll call the midwife much earlier and I think she’s more experienced with letting labor progress naturally, so she’ll be more in tune with the signs of the baby being in the wrong position.

      That said, I realize I could still have another unattended birth. Things like that just happen sometimes (as I’m sure you heard with Amy’s story). There’s just no helping it. I think next time we’ll be more prepared to handle an accidental unattended birth, but it still scares me to death that if something had gone wrong with Peanut’s birth, I don’t know what would have happened. I may research things more just in case and have handy things like how to do CPR on a newborn, but I really hope that I don’t end up in that situation.

  6. You. ROCK.

    As far as infant CPR – my husband and I both took a red cross course before our son was born, and will renew this year. It’s very comforting to know you *know* what’s needed with those delicate little ones. I have never needed to use it, but *knowing* I knew it gave me so much more conf

    • …confidence and peace. Not just at birth, but also when introducing food, etc.

      Sorry for the split comment. Mis-tapped on a “smart” phone. 😛

  7. I don’t know why anybody would call you stupid for what happened. I think that you should be commended for dealing with the situation that presented itself, and doing it so well!

    My 2-month-old was posterior, but I definitely knew I was in labor. After more than 17 hours of labor, turning a posterior baby, and finding him stuck, my midwife and I decided that she should break the water since she was confident that was what was holding things up and concerned about how the little guy was doing. Sure enough- 25 minutes after she broke it he was here. I had a similar feeling where all of a sudden I actually felt him “pop” past the bone and I was telling the nurses he was coming. My midwife had just enough time to run in and catch him, and try to get me to hold back on the pushing my body was doing because he had the cord wrapped around him. I felt a similar empowerment, but more because I had accomplished it all with no medication and the help of my doula and husband.

    It did teach me that no matter what your ideal situation is, you can’t plan for everything, and you just have to roll with it. Some people think I’m nuts for doing an 18-hour labor with no pain meds (and they’ve told me so), but what matters is not what they think but that I am happy with what I did.

  8. I just want to say I too am so sorry anyone would ever feel it right or their place to make you feel bad about the birth of your child! It is sad the way that people view labor. The end result is everyone was well and you delt the situationn the best you could. What would they have done? You were right, brave, amazing and most of all….a mother! You followed your instincts and that is all we can do. I say kuddos….im jealous!

    • Thank you so much! I don’t think anyone who puts me down would have acted differently in my situation, but of course they think they would because they see it in hindsight.

  9. Oh, man. No one’s called us stupid yet for our accidental unassisted birth last month, and I think it’s so sad that you’ve felt put down by others for yours. We had the opposite problem with my first, posterior birth — we called the midwives waaaay early because it felt like it was so close — and then there was another full day left to go. So this time we held off, and since the labor felt so different (and was so fast), I didn’t fully believe I was pushing a baby out until I was practically crowning. I don’t think of it as stupid, though — just serendipitous. There’s something magical about being the only ones around to birth your baby, isn’t there? Anyway, hugs and kudos to you for being such a strong birthing mama!

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