The birthing center experience

12 09 2008

OK, my daughter is over 3 weeks old now, and I still have not blogged about the birthing event itself.  For those of you following this blog, you know from previous posts that we planned to have the baby at a birthing center.

Well, here is my account of the event followed by my editorial comments on the birthing center experience.

When I woke up on the morning of August 19, my wife informed me that she had been having irregular contractions since the wee hours of the morning.  When I asked her if I should go on into to work, she replied that she didn’t know and it was up to me.  I decided to stay home.

It just so happened that we had a bio-physical exam (sonogram on steroids) scheduled that day at noon.  Since she was having these contractions, we weren’t sure if she should cancel the appointment or not.  So, my wife called the birthing center.  They asked us to come on in for an exam and they would make a determination on whether or not the bio-physical was necessary or not.

So, we went in at about 10am.  By this time, the contractions had gotten pretty regular and were starting to pick up some steam.  The midwife checked her out and said she didn’t think the bio-physical would be necessary because it looks like we might have a baby today.  Although, she emphsized that she didn’t think it was going to happen within the hour.  She encourged us to go get something to eat so our energy would be up (so my wife’s energy would be up, who am I kidding?) and told us not to go to far and to come back if things started intensifying.

Nothing sounded good to my wife, but she forced down half a roast beef sandwich from Arby’s.

After being home for maybe a couple of hours, my wife decided things had escalated to a point where we better go on back to the birthing center.

We got back there at around 2pm (if memory serves me) – maybe a little earlier.  They had the room all prepared for us, so we slowly made our way up the stairs to the room where we would have our baby daughter.  While we waited for our midwife to come back and re-examine her, my wife asked me to go ahead and call her mom at work to come and join us.

My wife laid on the bed for a while as I massaged her lower back (my main role for all three of our babies).  Pretty soon, my mother in law arrived.  The midwife said my wife could get into the big hot tub whenever she liked.  My wife put it off for a little while because she wasn’t sure if she would like it.  But, after a bit, she got in the warm water of the tub.  (I transitioned back rubbing duties underwater).

After being in the tub for half hour maybe, I asked if I should get my swim suit on and join her.  She said yes.  (FYI – at the birthing center, the mom can wear anything she wants or nothing at all…not so for the dad ;))

Soon after I got into the tub with my wife, the midwife examined her again and said she was dilated to a 7.  My wife and I were dissappointed to hear this because in our hospital experiences, we knew she had to get to a 10 before they will even allow you to start pushing.  The dissappointment must have registered on our faces because the midwife said not to worry because that can all change with one contraction.

Boy, she wasn’t kidding.  On the next contraction, the midwife just told my wife to do whatever her body was telling her to do.  She started pushing…and boom (to use the words of the great John Madden)…our daughter was born.

I couldn’t believe that she had arrived.  The time was 3:58pm.  I expected to be there for several more hours before the birth.  It caught me by such surprise that I shed a few tears even (not so with our sons).

That’s the story of the birth of our daughter.  One of the best days of my life.

OK, now for my editorial comments about the birthing center itself.  As you may know from previous posts, I was extremely skeptical about having a baby outside of a hospital.  I only agreed knowing that there was a hospital right across the street.  Well, let me tell you, that I could not have been more wrong.  This experience was by far the smoothest of our deliveries so far.  They allowed (encouraged) my wife to eat something to prepare…not so at a hospital.  They last checked her at a 7cm dilation…hospitals will not let you push until 10.  We had the baby in a tub which my wife later told me she wished she hadn’t waited so long to get in…not an option at most hospitals.  My wife had the baby in her arms before the umbilical chord was cut…not normal at a hospital.  They didn’t even weigh or measure her prior to her first breath-feeding…not typical at a hospital.  All in all, it was a terrific delivery.  Both wife and baby are in wonderful health.  And, best of all, we were home by 8pm.  We spent the next week or so having visitors come to our home instead of to a hospital…much better for the visitor and the visitee.

So, if you are considering having a baby using a midwife either at home or in a birthing center, I would highly encourage you to go for it.  I certainly don’t regret it and I don’t think you will either.  If we have another child (if being the key word) we will definitely have it in the birthing center again.  No doubt about it.