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Thursday, June 3, 2010

the midwife difference

With my first two children, I had OB-GYNs. My daughter's birth was fantastic, because, honestly, I didn't know any better. My son's birth was a different story. I took Bradley birthing classes and I knew I wanted to go natural. My birth experience was a terrible one and I felt completely manipulated by my doctor.

When I found out that we were expecting our third child, I knew I wanted something different. I wanted an uninterrupted, natural, safe birth. Initially, I debated having an unassisted delivery because I was so fearful of losing control during labor. I wanted to make sure that I called the shots and that I was included in every decision. After much thought and consideration, I decided to exhaust my options to see how I felt. My husband is military and we have insurance through Tricare - which basically pays for any sort of obstetrical care. I decided to visit with an OB-GYN first.

I met with Dr. Erickson, who delivered my best friend's son over four years ago. I had been with her while she has visited with him, and his bedside manner was amazing. When I called to make an appointment, the woman on the phone was very nice and friendly and scheduled me for an ultrasound. It felt a little silly, considering I knew I was not very far along at all - but I was excited at the prospect of seeing any sort of tiny fleck of a baby.

I arrived at my appointment with my 2 kids in tow. The waiting room was extremely crowded, and there was not a single thing for my children to do. I was prepared for this and (mommy confession) had brought my 4-year-old's Nintendo DS for this reason. I had put my 19-month-old in a bucket and, though it prevented possible catastrophe, I also felt like it was blocking the path (and it was a tiny, umbrella stroller). I filled out an entire packet, filled with questions about my medical history. I felt like I was setting myself up for failure, having to fill out that my husband's mother's cousin was born with down syndrome 40 years ago. (
Why did they need to know that?) After about 20 minutes or so, I was called back into the room to pee in a cup. Fitting into the restroom with my kids was a bit of a gymnastics event, but we were successful. I was then brought into the ultrasound room and told to undress from the bottom down so I could have a vaginal sonogram.

Let me tell you what, there's nothing like meeting a woman for the first time to have her put a lubed-up condom on a hard, plastic phallic shaped object into your vagina while your kid's watch.

she didn't even buy me dinner first.

I wish I could say the ultrasound was more exciting than it actually was. Truth be told, it was pretty anti-climatic. I'm not very far along, so there was no baby. No heartbeat. Just a cute little yolk sac where a baby will form given more time. It made me more scared than anything else.
Should I be able to see a baby? What if there's no baby because I lost it, so it's not growing? what if, what if, what if. I felt they perpetuated unnecessary fear into my heart. Their response? They scheduled me for another ultrasound in 2 weeks. I couldn't say no. How could I? I want to make sure that my baby is okay and I can only make sure my baby is okay if I can see and hear a heartbeat. I'll be around 7 weeks when I go in again, so I should see something then. Right?!?!?!

After the ultrasound, I was punished and sent back to the waiting room again. I got to talking to a woman due in August, who was sweating up a storm because it was hotter than Hell. She was nice, but I was thankful when they called me back again because my son was sobbing hysterically because I told him "
no" and I felt like, you know, the worst-mom-ever.

The nurse was there first and weighed me. I'm a naturally small person, and the scaled showed me that I gained 2 pounds. She assumed, "
So - you haven't gained any weight yet?" I didn't know if that was an insult, but it felt like one. She took me back in the room and gave me a giant bag of stuff, including an Enfamil coupon (score!). She asked my LMP and I told her there's no way for me to estimate, but I knew my conception date. She didn't write it down. She told me to get naked (what is it with these people?) and that the doctor would be in to see me in a moment.

At least the gown was comfortable. My doctor and nurse came in and shook my hand. He asked my kids' names and their ages. Asked me about their birth. He then began his exam and when I mentioned I wanted a natural birth, he began the breast exam. As he felt for lumps, he said, "
so you like the natural stuff, huh?" No, "yeah, we're okay with that" just a simple acknowledgment that he heard what I said. He wouldn't even lie to me and tell me that he loved natural birth. He did say, "with the third, it will be easier." K. He asked me about breastfeeding, and I said I bottle-fed my first and breastfed my second. He said, "So you tried everything out. That's good. You know your options." I didn't tell him that I was still breastfeeding. It felt weird. He then begin the pelvic exam and I told him that I hated this part. He told me, "yeah, you're not suppose to like it!" He was quick, and when he did my cervical exam - it didn't hurt. After he was done, he spoke with my children. All in all, he was pretty nice for an OB.

I called the midwives from Beyond Conception Midwifery as soon as I got home. I had been a doula at a birth that they attended, and I loved their attitude throughout the entire event. When I spoke with Nedra, one of the midwives, on the phone - I felt like I was talking to an old friend. Which, in a way, I was - because she remembered me from the birth we were both at! She asked me to come in the next day and she insisted I bring my children with.

The kids and I found their office and I couldn't believe how
beautiful it was. It was surrounded by waterfalls. No, seriously. Waterfalls. When I walked in, I immediately saw a ton of wooden toys for the kids to play with. Mary, the other midwife, greeted me right away and gave me a photo album to look at while I waited. It was full of pictures from the 80s - and it was really neat to see that she's been in practice for so long. After waiting about 5 minutes, Nedra called me back into another room - where they had even more toys to keep my kids entertained.

Nedra inquired about my due date. She asked if I knew when I conceived and I said yes, and she said, "Right now, we'll use that. We trust moms when they say they know." She initially asked if I didn't know because I was still breastfeeding? First and foremost, I love the fact that someone assumed I was nursing my 19-month-old. I explained my situation more, but also mentioned, "Yeah, I'm still nursing." Her response? "Awesome!"

She asked me if I had any questions - and I told her I didn't have questions, but that I had requests. She listened with sympathy and concern when I told her the perils of my past birth experiences. She even watched my son when my daughter interrupted me mid-conversation and asked to use the potty. When we returned and I said, "
My mother wants to catch the baby" Nedra said, "Right on. Is that what you want?" I explained how my biggest concern was not that my birth went as planned from point A to point B - but that I had a say in what happened. That I was treated like a person, not a patient. Mary came in at this point and told me, "this is your birth experience. We're simply there if you need a guiding hand. We don't pull or push." I couldn't believe how intently they listened to me. As Nedra and I discussed other concerns that I had, Mary showed Hayden how to listen to her brother's heartbeat with a stethoscope. They did not do a single exam. I told them I had just come from the OB's office and they said, "I'm sure you've been poked and prodded enough." They knew that I had 2 kids with me, so they sent me home with paperwork that I could bring back at my next visit. Mary, Nedra, and their assistant - Amy, all hugged me goodbye. Mary blew up 2 balloons for the kids when we left, and even told Hayden that "pink is an excellent color for boys!" when she insisted Vincent get a rosy-colored one.

I got home and opened up their packet, excited to fill it out. The paperwork was
... different. It went over medical history, of course. They want to make sure that I am a good candidate for home delivery. However, it also asked me how I felt. How my husband felt. What about my family? They asked me what I wanted of them, as midwives? Just filling out the paperwork made me feel like I was in control. What really stood out to me is when Nedra asked me, "Is that what YOU want?" She asked my permission to let my mother catch the baby. She asked my permission.

I want them at my birth. I
need them at my birth. My husband is going to be deployed around my due date, and I know that any extra support is a good thing.

And I am so happy that I found it with these women.

Rest easy, little baby bump. You're in good hands

*** my lovely friend and soon-to-be doula client, Sarah, posted a lovely comparison of OBs and Midwives over at her blog. You can read the post HERE

and my doula client (who had a beautiful homebirth attended by Mary and Nedra) wrote about her first meeting with them at her blog, found HERE ***


  1. I completely forgot about the toy aspect of the waiting room and the exam room. I've never been to an OB that had toys in the exam room so I always had to pack a giant bag filled with toys, coloring books, and snacks. Needless to say, I won't be bringing my giant bag with me to the midwives next time. There is no need :)

    I do remember Arrowhead having a small corner of toys, but considering that there are always a million people with two kids each already in there, it makes them sort of difficult to access =/

    And yes, I was shocked at the differences in the paperwork alone.

  2. the toys was my favorite part because they had toys IN EVERY SINGLE ROOM. Even if the waiting room at an OB's office has toys, it's very rare that the actual exam room does. Which is difficult, because it almost seems like the doctor expects you to be getting an exam at the same time you're controlling your bored kids!

  3. Oh Congratulations on your pregnancy, and on finding some wonderful midwives!! Midwives are beyond amazing - they make birth so very beautiful. I have used midwives all 3 (I'm pg with #3) times and have had such beautiful birth experiences... memories truly to cherish. I know you will have this too!

  4. And congratulations on your pregnancy!

  5. My midwife (Mary Langlois), never made me sit in a waiting room. It is such a different feeling. At the OB/Gyn you feel like you have to fall in line and be a good patient. With a midwife, you feel like they are truly serving YOU! I liked it so much better! AND I delivered my son with out a single vaginal exam during pregnancy or labor. It can be done!

  6. Mary is who signed off on my doula-training. She's such an Earthy woman. There were 50+ women at the doula training (that she did for free!), a lot of them clients of hers, and she remembered of them.

    It's so nice. Midwives are FRIENDS. It's a wonderful feeling