Homebirth mothers, how will you explain it?

cheerful kids with disabilities in rehabilitation center

When you’re pregnant, you’re expecting a baby. It’s easy to forget that you will end up with a child … a child who will eventually ask probing questions.

So, homebirth mothers, how you are going to explain the fact that you put your birth experience ahead of your baby’s health, brain function and even life?

How are you going to explain that first week of baby pictures with your son intubated, sedated, with tubes in every orifice and monitors all around?

How are you going to explain that because you wanted to be “comfortable” in your own home, your let your baby girl be uncomfortable during labor, struggling for oxygen, marinating in meconium, putting her future cognitive abilities at risk?

How are you going to explain that because you wanted to avoid an IV, you refused to give birth in a hospital, and your baby ended up with multiple IV’s, including the one they stuck in his scalp after they ran out of other veins?

It’s hard for me to imagine the pain and the guilt of explaining that because you had your heart set on a vaginal birth, your son can’t play catch with the other kids due to the limited function of his right arm as a result of the shoulder dystocia.

And the discussion with your daughter is likely to be agonizing when you acknowledge that her cerebral palsy will never improve, and she will never walk, let alone run, because you listened to your internet friends who encouraged you to have a VBAC at home, instead of your obstetrician who warned you that if your uterus ruptured at home, it was unlikely that your baby would survive unscathed.

You may be boasting now about how you “rocked” your homebirth, but will you still be proud when you see the pain that you have caused your child? Or will you ignore that, too, like you ignored his safety?

How are you going to explain to your son that his identical twin didn’t survive the homebirth because the second baby’s placenta detached right after the first baby was born?

What are you going to tell your daughter when the other kids in her class make fun of her because of her cognitive disability that almost certainly resulted from the fact that she was born blue and pulseless at home, and your homebirth “midwife” had never performed a resuscitation, had left her oxygen in the car, and was trying to perform CPR on a bed instead of a hard surface?

What are you going to tell your older children when the new baby they were eagerly anticipating dies in front of their eyes because you wanted them to be with you at the moment you triumphantly pushed a baby out of your vagina? Will you tell them some babies just die, or will you tell them the truth, that it was your desire to avoid the hospital that led to the baby’s death? You might be able to get the “some babies just die” story by them when they are small. What will you say when they are adults and they ask you again why they lost a sibling.

What will you tell the baby’s father if the baby dies at the homebirth he didn’t want you to have? Will you apologize to him for the loss of his child? Will you beg forgiveness for suffering he now has to endure?

How will you justify your choice when you see the devastation you have caused?

Or will you spend the rest of your life wondering if the pain, suffering, and even death could have been avoided if you’d put your baby’s health ahead of your own bragging rights?

  • Rachel

    Well, my dear.

    I was born 33 years ago at home. I’m fine. Please don’t forget the numerous babies that have died/been injured due to hospital births.

    I am neither a staunch advocate either way, as I had my son via c-section at a hospital.

    Women need to be educated in their decisions and trusted to make them. Not chastised.

    • Babies dying during hospital birth, or because of it? Don’t mix the two. While the latter happens and needs to be addressed, which is something we do on this blog, the number of deaths per hospital birth are dwarfed by the number of deaths per home birth.

      YOUR experience is dandy, but to risk brain injury or death for reasons of comfort is foolhardy at best and cruel otherwise. Families have been educated for years and yet it still happens, dear.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      I was driven around in cars without a seatbelt as a child. I’m fine. Therefore seatbelts are obviously unnecessary.

      Babies can die in hospital births. But the chances of a low risk baby dying at birth are at least three times as high for a home birth versus a hospital birth.

      Women need good information in order to be able to make good decisions. Even if the numbers are not what they hoped to hear. They are free to ignore them, but they need to know what risk they’re taking.

    • demodocus

      My grandmother was a premie born at home and she survived! Grandpa, all 5 kids, 10 grandkids, and 4 great-grandkids were born in the hospital and we survived! From what I heard, it was the next thing to a genuine call-the-pope miracle that Gramma did.
      Dr. Tuteur does not say most babies born at home die in the neonate stage, just that more than half of the ones who do could have been saved in the hospital. Complications can occur during labor and escalate really fast. Certainly my pre-eclampsia was not foreshadowed.

    • Ash

      No one is saying that all babies will die at home. As for education, are women being informed of the following?

      Higher risk of brain injury requiring cooling in the neonatal period for planned homebirths

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2014/01/risk-of-anoxic-brain-injury-is-more-than-18-times-higher-at-homebirth.html

      Higher risk of rate of intrapartum stillbirth or neonatal death for planned homebirth?

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2014/02/a-statistics-professor-analyzes-the-new-paper-from-the-midwives-alliance-of-north-america-mana.html

      A CNM testifying that out of hospital births (planned) in Oregon resulted in higher death rates than hospital births?

      https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2013R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/8585

    • momofone

      I agree, re: women’s being educated, but there’s educated and there’s “educated.”

  • sisterchef

    I know a hippy dippy woman here in South Florida who has 5 children. She’s poor. My friend is the father of 2 of those children and they’re not together anymore. She’s anit-vaxx anti-GMO and anti anything else scientific. She’s one of these flaky rainbow moms. Long story short, I was always curious as to why she always has a home birth. I’m not from Florida and I didn’t know a lot of working poor before moving here from Canada. Basically, I’ve come to the conclusion that she has kids at home because she can’t afford to have them in the hospital. For some reason, I think this should be a crime. She can’t afford any of these children anyway and keeps having them. It’s people like me who have to pay for them though.

  • luckymama75

    A woman in my husband’s family has a 20 month old son who was just diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. We visited them when her son was just about a year old and you could see there was just something “off” about the way his arm was always curled up by his side and how he wasn’t making an attempt to crawl, let alone walk. She described a brutally long labor and ridiculously long pushing time. She even said, “I don’t know why they wouldn’t just section me. But they kept saying for hours that I was nearly there.”
    Could this labor and his diagnosis be related?

    • sdsures

      CP is incredibly variegated. I don’t know enough beyond that to answer your question about labour beyond the fact that if the baby suffers a lack of oxygen during labour, or there is a brain bleed, disorders such as CP and hydrocephalus can develop. These are the two disorders I’m familiar with, because I have them, and in my specific case, I know how they happened. That doesn’t necessarily hold true for all people who have CP. The causes of the brain damage may vary.

  • RMY

    The blogger I defriended because of her refusal to formula feed her FTT baby made a post that detailed her son’s delays- he’s 2 and fits into 12 month old clothes still and has numerous delays (she says she only goes to the pediatrician to appear to be a good mom on paper, CPS has been called on her before).

    She doesn’t say “and it was my fault” about his delays, the only time she blames herself is to lament how she failed at breastfeeding initially. Everything is about her, her struggles with breastfeeding have lead her to apply for a lactation consultant program. I really hope nobody sane hires her, she literally starved her child to where he went from 50th percentile to meeting the classifications for FTT.

    They blame their bodies, not their choices. Or, if the baby dies, they embrace the “it wasn’t meant to be” that bad midwives spew. They act like they weren’t rational actors who had agency.

  • Spamamander

    I have kicked myself enough over the years, dealing with guilt for my daughter’s Down syndrome- something I logically know I had no part in “causing” other than my sex cells not splitting properly resulting in one ovum that had a piece of a #21 chromosome stuck to another #21 chromosome. I can’t imagine what I would feel if my own selfish choices caused my child’s disability.

  • Froggggggg

    That’s why it’s so important to start with the indoctrination early in life. By the time they’re old enough to ask uncomfortable questions, the kids will have been “educated” and know that this was just a variation of normal, and that their birth injuries could have happened in a hospital too (hospitals: places swarming with knife-wielding obstetricians desperate to play golf).

    Or something along those lines.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      Indeed! I had some jackass recently “inform” me that my OB wouldn’t actually “let” me have a VBAC because he’d obviously be so desperate to be off golfing. Leaving aside the asinine trope, my response was , “Right, so that’s why he’s got such a high VBAC rate, and why his online reviews feature stories like ‘he said baby and I were fine, so he stayed at the hospital for 14 hours straight so that I could VBAC because hospital policy required him to be in the hospital while a VBAC patient was in labor.'”
      *snort*

      • Froggggggg

        I didn’t have a VBAC (my choice – my OB would have supported it), but that’s how I remember my OB too – extremely dedicated, practically living at the hospital, wandering the corridors at 3am, doing whatever it took. I don’t think he had much of a life outside of his work. He did go for a weekend away while I was at the hospital, but even then he let all his patients know in person and told us who would be replacing him so nobody felt let down.

        I’m sure there are all kinds of OBs, but the golf line is, as you say, one of the most asinine (such a nice word!) arguments still used against hospital birth.

  • Sue

    OT – an unusually balanced view on HB from a legal speaker at an upcoming conference in Aus.
    https://informaaustralia.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/the-homebirth-controversy-informed-consent-and-a-childs-right/

    • Daleth

      That is a FANTASTIC article. Definitely one to share with any woman you know who’s contemplating home birth.

    • EllenL

      Very interesting! Thanks for posting this.

      This sentence jumped out at me, about a study of home birth: “It did find that the home birth mortality rate was 1 in 14 for breech presentation and 1 in 7 for twins.” Yikes!

      That’s from a 1998 study. I can’t imagine home birth has gotten safer over the years. Caregivers continue to expand their definition of low risk (to the point where now it’s everybody) and ignore new technologies and interventions.

  • anonymommy

    This is OT, but is a request for this blog. Could you do a post about failure to progress? I had a c section for failing to progress, and when people find out (I tell them if they ask, and some people have) they act like it’s a kind of fake reason to have had surgery. Like I didn’t really need it, my doctor just pushed me, etc. I don’t have any problems with my c section now. I trusted my medical team, and when they said I needed it I felt ready for it. I’d been in labor for over 36 hours and my doctor had broken my water early in the morning (it was after dinner time when I finally had my surgery; I had an anterior lip and baby was asynclitic… I don’t know a lot about what that really means, though, as I’m admittedly not in the medical field). Some people who are big on natural birth act like failure to progress is a fake reason to have a c-section, like there are legitimate reasons (dire emergencies) and then failure to progress is just about bullying women to hurry up (because they assume a woman will progress given enough time). I didn’t feel bullied at all, though, and found my doctor and nurses very supportive. Even though I’m mostly fine with my c section, those types of comments do make me feel pangs of guilt and can be hurtful. They were especially sources of guilt right after I had the baby. I know that’s silly, but sometimes those feelings sneak in when I read/hear comments about how I must have had pushy doctors or just needed to… I don’t know what. Try harder? Want it more? So could you do a post about how failure to progress is a legitimate reason for a c-section, with real risks to mom and/or baby (assuming it is)?

    • Cobalt

      I’d like to read that, too. How far off the average labor curve does the risk start to go up? What are additional concerns/reassurances when changing plans during labor when it’s not an urgent crisis? How likely is failure to progress to resolve with augmentation? Why not be in labor for days, assuming the amniotic sac is intact, heart rate is good, and mom’s not suffering?

      For you specifically, though, you made a reasoned decision to benefit your baby after consulting with experts in the field. You shouldn’t feel guilty for that, ever. You chose to have your baby lifted into the world, instead of pushed, because that was the most safe and certain choice for you and baby.

    • KBCme

      This SO my story as well. When I tell people, they always tell me I should have pushed back against the doctor. I had only labored for 12 hours, but baby had not descended at all (was asynclitic). I wasn’t really responding to the highest levels of pit, my contractions just weren’t very strong and I was only at a 5/6. I’m sure if I had pushed back a little, the doc would have let me labor longer. It was Friday night and part of me wonders if he didn’t really just want to go home. I wish I had asked him more questions. But I’m glad I trusted his 20+ years of experience. He saved me another 12 hours of laboring that likely wouldn’t have yielded anything. When he opened me up, he remarked that my baby likely never would have come out vaginally due to his positioning. I guess part of me feels like second guessing a professional that has spend decades learning, practicing his profession would be short sighted.

      • Sue

        Good points, KBC, but also this: If a cesarean looks likely and it’s Friday night, would you really be in better hands 12 hours later, in the early hours of the morning, being cared for by people lacking sleep?

        What makes us think that C/S is such a terrible “outcome” when the actual clinical outcome is better for babies than VB, at a small cost of minor complications to the mother?

    • KarenJJ

      Oh I’d love a post on this too. I was classed as “fail to progress” but it was really like a “fail to even get started” as there was zero dilation after hours of contractions and my waters breaking at home. My babies were average weight and lengths but 90th percentile for head circumference and I’m not a very big person. Even now it’s hard to get a t-shirt over my 4yo’s head.

    • Inmara

      Yes, I would love some insight and data too, because, as far as I know, our hospitals don’t hand out their standard protocols to laboring women, so I’d like to know my options in case labor stalls.

    • Jessica

      Your story sounds similar to my friend’s story. Water broke at home, contractions weren’t productive, off to the hospital for pitocin…40 hours later, she had progressed to 7cm and the epidural wasn’t bringing any relief. She was exhausted, miserable, and in pain – and the C-section was a welcome relief. I remember telling my husband that I was barely in the hospital for a mere 43 hours with my son, and that included the overnight cervical ripening that preceded the pitocin.

      Could you and my friend have ultimately managed to deliver? Maybe, with enough time, although maternal and fetal death from prolonged, obstructed labor is not at all unheard of. But to what benefit? Labor is exhausting and painful enough without making it last for days and days, and since you have a baby to care for afterward, why make it harder than it already is?

      • Inmara

        There is an old saying among doctors and midwifes where I live – “You don’t let woman in labor see sunrise twice”, i.e. don’t let active labor continue for more than 48 hours, if it haven’t progressed so far, it’s time for C-section.

    • yentavegan

      Failure to progress is real. The variables range from mother’s uterus not contracting in a productive coordinated manner due to reasons unknown, the cavalier providence of mother nature,( she could care less which individual mother-baby pair survive childbirth), Every contraction is stressful for the baby(that’s why heart rate are monitored) contractions that are not resulting in an opening of the cervix are indeed stressful for the baby because release is not insight. We are by products of a modern technologically advanced culture. Hooray!!

    • Opal

      Yep, weighing in on the request for more info on failure to progress. My first baby: I was post-dates, and in 36 hrs, I never went beyond 6 cm, even with 12 hrs of pitocin. Her heart rate was not looking good, and though I was terrified of surgery, the c-section was a relief. Nothing was worse than watching the heartrate monitor and begging to God that her heart would bounce back up after each contraction. I was in the hospital under the care of a midwife, who called in the attending OB. I just looked at the OB and said, “Get my baby out.” She was born with an Apgar of 9. But still, five years later, I wonder “what I did wrong.” Was I in the wrong position, was the baby? How does a body contract so regularly for so long, and on pitocin even, and get nowhere? Later, my midwife told me 100 years ago I would have died. I was so shocked by that statement that I didn’t have the sense to ask her to clarify. Could someone here explain a bit? (I realize you have scant details, but an explanation of the maternal risks of prolonged labor would be appreciated.)

      My second was a vbac, thoroughly monitored by my fantastic OB. 12 hrs of labor, Apgar of 9. What was different the second time around, that everything seemed to progress as it should? (Theoretical question…)

    • fiftyfifty1

      Asynclitic is really tough. The baby’s head is tilted to the side, so it doesn’t fit through right. With time, one of two things can happen: either the contractions will straighten out the baby’s head enough so it can pass through, or the contractions will jam the baby’s head into even a more tilted position. Sounds like the second outcome is what happened to you. When it’s clear that that is the case, and baby’s head is not improving, then continuing labor is foolish. It just risks baby and mom.

      NCB people will make claims that asynclitic only happens if mom doesn’t move around “right”, or that it is caused by AROM or that all babies will eventually pass through given enough time. All of these are false. I had an asynclitic baby despite laboring naturally. What eventually “worked” for me was pit followed by AROM and epidural. My baby’s head straightened enough that I finally did deliver vaginally, although as I have shared here before, I wish I had had a CS. A malpositioned baby can cause a lot of pelvic floor damage to mom, and that’s what happened to me.

      Back in the day, high forceps could be used to straighten the baby’s neck if you were in a situation where the contractions were just making it worse. When it worked well, it worked well. And when it didn’t it could be extremely dangerous for baby and cause horrible damage to mom. A CS is better.

    • Montserrat Blanco

      You are a great mom and do not let anybody tell you anything else.

      36 hours of active labor is generally not good for a baby. Contractions are stressful for babies and 36 hours is a long time. If your baby was asynclitic stalled labor can and does happen.

      In that scenario you chose your baby wellbeing and did not risk its brain function or life and went for a C-Section. I would look at those NCB extremists over my shoulder.

      It was not your fault that your baby did not position itself well and certainly it was not your fault that your labor did not progress. And it is nothing to be ashamed of having a C-Section. I would feel much worse if I were you in case you waited until your baby had decels and risked brain damage.

  • Cartman36

    I have always wondered the same thing about anti-vaxxers. If your child dies or is injured by a vaccine preventable illness, how would you ever forgive yourself.

    • Inmara

      Haven’t you seen their claims and arguments in internet? “Vaccinated children get sick too”, so they will reassure themselves that it would had happen anyway.

  • peanutmama

    this really resonated with me. i am so so SO VERY LUCKY my daughter did not sustain any injuries when she suffered shoulder dystocia during my home birth. i would NEVER have forgiven myself. all because of my ideals and selfishness, i could have given her life long disabilities. so very thankful she is whole and well despite her birth. i cannot do that again. i now feel much safer in the hospital, where there is life saving equipment and specialists on hand, and where i can get room service food. never ever again.

    • its a punch in the gut to admit it. That’s why so few moms who chose out of hospital birth admit it was a mistake. Being a “bad mom” is one of my worst fears and I felt horrible for choosing something dangerous once I realized how poorly it could have gone.

      • nomofear

        I third the sentiment. Just so glad my daughter emerged unscathed.

      • peanutmama

        i mostly blame the erroneous information i was fed. i embraced it because it sounded so rosy and everything is a variation of normal. wow.

        • Sue

          It takes insight and maturity to revise your views in the face of evidence, though. That’s what intelligent adults do, but rigid ideologues don’t.

  • DelphiniumFalcon

    When I see the words “nature” and “natural” thrown around like they are the magic safe words of birth, I feel that they have a very naive view of what nature is and how it works. Nature is a cruel, unfeeling bitch that eats the ignorant and unprepared alive to feed those fit or smart enough to survive.

    It brings to mind Richard Feynman’s quote from the Challenger Commission that these “nature” fanatics should ponder very, very deeply:

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

    Replace technology with birth and you have my views on these facilitators of stunt births that call themselves midwives.

  • KBCme

    I’m currently watching Wolf Hall, which takes place in mid 16th century England. ALL births were all natural and home births and what strikes me is the sheer danger of it. Women routinely gave birth to many, many children, and only had a few survive beyond infancy. Women routinely died during/after childbirth. Jane gave birth to Henry VI and died 2 weeks later of an infection. When Queen Mary thought she was pregnant she updated her will because she knew how life threatening pregnancy and delivery was. Let’s not romance natural, non-technology births. Being a woman of child-bearing age was incredibly dangerous before the advent of modern obstetrics.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      Mary’s mother Katherine was pregnant many times, but besides a son who lived only a few weeks, and Mary herself, K had miscarriage after stillbirth after miscarriage.

      • Amy M

        Is there any speculation about Rh factor being a cause? (just curious)

        • Idigia

          Actually, the main problem seems to have been Henry.

          http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110303153114.htm

          • KBCme

            So interesting. Thanks for sharing.

          • Jodi Hilla McCormack

            I don’t really buy the Kell theory. I think there are many better explanations for Henry’s decline in the years prior to his death.

            The link mentions Henry’s decreased mobility and leg ailments as a symptom, but not that he suffered a riding accident in his mid-thirties that nearly killed him and left him with an open, festering wound in his thigh for the rest of his life. His mobility issues and his enormous weight gain could easily be linked to that injury and I find it suspect that it’s not even mentioned.

            As for Henry’s tyrannical behavior, you kind of have to feel for the guy. His father won the throne in battle, bringing the VERY unlikely Tudors to the front of the War of the Roses. Henry got the throne (and his wife) by default when his older brother Arthur died in his teens.

            Still, Henry and Katharune of Aragon were together 20 years until she could no longer bear children. He suddenly found himself in his mid-thirties the King of a fragile young dynasty with no prospects for a legitimate son. A female heir would not be a strong enough claim to keep the Tudors In control – Henry needed a son and he needed to live until the boy was 18. Royalty was a high stakes game – if the throne was taken, all Tudors would be executed as traitors, including his two daughters as well as his sisters and their children (Mary Queen of Scots, anyone?).

            Henry was facing the choice of fathering a legitimate son by whatever means necessary or having his entire family wiped out. He waited patiently 20 years for a son from Katharine, but yeah, then he got a little grouchy and unpredictable when she couldn’t have Nord children and the Pope refused to annul his marriage.

        • demodocus’ spouse

          I wouldn’t know. I do remember some speculation that old Henry had syphilis, which could explain why his wives had so many miscarriages, apparently. He certainly was a randy old goat.

        • Jodi Hilla McCormack

          There is speculation about Rh, but its with Anne Boleyn – the Boleyns may have been Rh Negative. Anne’s brother and sister did not produce many children either and Anne only produced Elizabeth I. Anne miscarried her next child at around 5 1/2 months, a son. She didn’t get another chance.

          Katherine of Aragon suffered many miscarriages and stillbirths, but may have had a serious eating disorder, according to contemporary sources. Henry was known to seek mistresses while his wives were pregnant – he wouldn’t touch them, for fear of harming the baby. The stress could have driven more disordered behaviors, either unintentionally or in a deliberate effort to kill the pregnancy so Henry would return to Katherine. Her numerous pregnancies were lost at varying stages, never consistently in the one trimester, suggesting there probably couldn’t have been just one biological cause.

          Henry seems to have had very little problem fathering children while he was young and healthy. He sired at least one bastard son who lived well into his twenties (Henry Fitzroy) and possibly several bastard daughters, although he never claimed any females. He did not have a problem fathering Edward VI with Jane, as she was pregnant quite soon after the wedding (if not before). Edward was perfectly healthy until he caught measles and smallpox simultaneously as a teen. He never really fully recovered and died with a year or two.

          After Jane, there was a long delay and then the Anne of Cleves annulment. By the time Henry married again, it was widely reported he was too old and injured (leg wound that never closed) to actually have an erection or complete a sex act. Kings were never left alone, especially during marital sex, so there were certainly people who would have been in the know. That wife lost her head without ever having gotten pregnant and, by most accounts, Henry’s final wife was far more nursemaid than spouse.

    • Who?

      I am dying for Wolf Hall. Refuse to get Foxtel which is the only way I can have it, until the dvds come out in a couple of weeks.

      Loved the books, can’t wait to watch.

  • namaste863

    Just a guess, but the vast majority of these women will come up with some bullshit excuse as to why home birth didn’t cause the damage. They’ll probably blame it on fluoride in the water supply or that someone was crop dusting 300 miles away or that Jupiter was in the Seventh House that night. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    • Bugsy

      Or the GMOs and chemtrails…never forget the GMOs…

    • Daleth

      Just for clarity, Jupiter in the Seventh is a favorable placement under which bad luck is not to be expected. Neptune in the First, on the other hand… someone I know with a birth injury that caused lifelong effects has Neptune in the First.

      True story.

      • namaste863

        Thanks for the info! I know absolutely fuck all about astrology. I just had a vague memory about reading something about planets and houses in Harry Potter.

  • I’m going to say I screwed up and I am sorry, and that things could have been a lot worse.

    • Taysha

      how, exactly? I mean, they could have been better in a hospital.

      • My son is alive. That may not have been the case if I had not transferred care.

        • Taysha

          That is true and I am glad to hear that.
          I apologize, I misread your initial comment.

  • Pamela

    I didn’t realize how common birth injuries can be, either. For some reason (perhaps reading too much historical fiction??) I assumed that mothers were the vulnerable ones during L&D, not babies. I guess to my uneducated mind, the baby’s health and the mother’s health were just not connected and any injuries to one had nothing to do with the other. I realize now just how naive this view is, but (in my defense) I also wasn’t “educating” myself via Dr. Google. I have good insurance and live near a hospital system known for good outcomes for mothers and babies, so I figured I’d just use that and you know, TRUST the doctors who had been to medical school. So when I had my daughter that’s exactly what I did. Yes, I’m glad I had a great “birth experience” (Epidural!!! So Awesome!), but I didn’t get pregnant in order to have an experience – I wanted to have a baby. So going home with my healthy baby two days after she was born?? Best thing ever.

    I guess my point is, you don’t know what you don’t know, and if you have a ignorant midwife telling you to “trust birth” and never mentioning risks so that you’re not scared? You might genuinely not know that you are risking your baby’s health/life. I know I wouldn’t have.

    • Amazed

      A scene from Sharon Kay Penman’s The Devil Brood comes to mind. Henry II gives an imprisoned Eleanor a childless widow for companion. She’s childless because her first baby died at birth and her second got suffocated while bedsharing. The mother’s casual tone says it all. It was an all too common occurence. As well as babies dying from burnings because they had to be kept near the fireplace and domestic animals entered the house all the time. A dog running in could mean a cooked baby – not the way the NCBers mean it.

      Ah the golden olden times of Natural Naturality and Natural Closeness to Nature (without evil OBs, evil beds for kids, and evil vaccines)!

    • Montserrat Blanco

      Yes, but you went to a real hospital with real doctors, real CNM and real nurses and equipment. You trusted a place with good known outcomes and people with real training and knowledge.

      I trust other doctors about things I don’t know myself. I trust my son’s pediatrician and follow her advice. I trust my own GP in order to diagnose and treat me. They both have a degree and specialist degrees as well and work at a real clinic.

      I think it is pretty sensible to follow the advice of people that know more than you do. And in my opinion it is pretty stupid to think that you know more than the experts about something because you have read a couple of things in Google.

  • Votre

    I’m guessing they feel it won’t be an issue since any serious homebirth mishap will likely result in a child that grows up lacking the cognitive ability to ask such a question – or dies during the event. So…problem solved!

    • yugaya

      That was a horrible comment to read, but only because it is so true. I honestly don’t know if anything will work to stop the mothers planning a stuntbirth in their tracks and reconsider their choices when comments like that one and this blog don’t seem to be working at all:

      http://www.skepticalob.com/2015/04/welcome-to-another-edition-of-homebirth-death-watch.html

      • Amazed

        When faced with women like Leigh Fransen from the honestmidwife blog, that’s what these idiots have to say.

        http://community.babycenter.com/post/a56544082/honest_midwife_pdf

        You see, *they* have never seen a midwife practicing the way Leigh Fransen describes, so she’s an exception. Bet you that Leigh’s clients had never seen a midwife practicing this way either. They had no idea she was practicing on *them*.

        Cognitive dissonance is stunning. I’ve said repeatedly that my supply of understanding and sympathy for women who bragged how awesome their homebirth would be because they were low-risk, it was just a breec/ a baby that was just a little late/a whatever and drew the short stick has been diminishing sharply. Well, there are those for whom I’ll feel no compassion. Are you kidding me? They kill or maim their child because “it’s just this midwife, she’s trying to make herself look good, I don’t have a problem, it’s just a variation of normal and I’ll rock my homebirth”, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for the poor murderesses/maimers? Sometime next life, maybe.

        • yugaya

          Since Leigh’s report went public I learned of dozens of other midwives doing these illegal things and their fellow CPMs chimed in saying that “even worse things happened than what she is describing”.

          And besides, you probably “have never seen a midwife practice the way she describes” because you were, you know, kind of blindfolded and prevented from seeing with your own eyes the illegal vacuum use, and your midwife did not send you to the pharmacy to get some cytotec in order to use it illegally to start your labor and so on and so on…

          • Amazed

            Exactly! I have to admit that never having given birth and having no one close to me have a birth drama (even a c-section because stupid chicks have no idea how they have been maimed), I can hardly imagine worse things than what Leigh describes. Or perhaps I can… Midwives playing with the vacuum at my own birth, the bloody thing turning out to be broken (the real life situation) and they trying to fix it before they could use it (the doctor did).

            The end of the story? The doctor did fix it and use it, so here I am, alive and intact. I suppose you can write the end of the story if midwives had decided that they really had to save my mom from the evil OB (head of the unit, no less!)

            The women who keep insisting it’s just rogue midwives astound me.

        • I’ve documented my local midwive’s organization and college encouraging cover ups of illegal behavior. Its totally the norm.

          • Amazed

            But you’re just a disgruntled client so you aren’t to be trusted!
            So, who can be trusted then? Let’s see… It isn’t former midwives and co-owners of birth centres. It isn’t disgruntled clients. It sure as hell isn’t OBs and medwives. It isn’t the studies saying that their outcomes are nightmarish. Looks like we’re only stuck with practicing midwives and pleased clients. They’re the only one who know Teh Truth!

    • Lizzie Dee

      Actually, it doesn’t work like that. I have said this before, but there is quite a distance from fine to dead (and consequently, in a hospital, time to improve the outcome, if you are lucky.) Brain damage is very complex. Muscles and co-ordination tend to go first, language is at risk often, intelligence is a rather large lottery. Not sure you need a lot of cognitive ability to ask why, though understanding the answer might be different. Quite possibly those with minor but inconvenient problems might be the most unforgiving.

      My daughter asked, but is very philosophical about the answer. When other people ask, they are generally rather aghast and disbelieving at what a period without oxygen can do.

      • Mel

        Yeah, babies can take a surprising range of oxygen deficiencies and have a huge variety of outcomes.

        My twin and I were born somewhere between 28.5-30 weeks gestation 30 years ago. We shared the critical ICU with other babies who were dealing with hypoxic assaults due to immature lung development with one or two babies who survived horrific birth traumas. My mom remembers a tiny, tiny baby boy who was born at 24 weeks which was a few weeks before viability back then – but he was born with his eyes open and started breathing spontaneously, so the NICU was summoned. The little guy survived 6 weeks – and my mom swears he was doing better than my twin for 5 of the 6 weeks. At the same time, a baby girl was in there and she weighed 14 pounds and had two broken clavicles from untreated maternal GD.

        My parents were always pretty open with us about our birth – so I never needed to ask why my legs don’t quite work or why my sister is deaf. My parents were also clear that they wished they had done things differently – mainly, been better at demanding medical attention when Mom noticed signs of pre-term labor (and pre-ecclampsia…although she didn’t know what that was).

        Honestly, I’ve never been angry at my parents about that. To me, the guilt that they’ve felt and the pain they lived through when we were small is far worse than my cerebral palsy.

        • Lizzie Dee

          That is a very interesting – and generous – response.

          I have met very few people who DO know what pre-eclampsia is – and unfortunately, that includes midwives. It is so insidious in the early stages, and unpredictable. A stress on the “naturalness” of birth, and the “it isn’t an illness you know” approach leaves women very ill-equipped to know for themselves when they should be demanding medical attention.

          Of course it is reasonable to be positive and optimistic about birth, but it is like driving oblivious to the fact that lapses in judgement and care – yours and other peoples – can have dire consequences.

          As for your parents guilt and pain – I expect that it was tempered, like mine, with joy and relief that their children were “meant to live” – lives worth having.

        • Amy M

          Did your mom know she was carrying twins, when she went into labor?

          • Mel

            Yes, but only for 12 hours previously. The preterm labor portion was handled really badly. Mom had needed a x-ray for something and they found two babies instead of one. The OB decided to wait until her next appointment which was 2 or 3 weeks away to tell her rather than picking up the phone. Mom had gone to a family party of some kind and was gone for a weekend from my dad. When she got out of the car 3 days later, Dad looked at her and said “You don’t look good.” Mom had gained 15 pounds of water weight over the weekend and just wasn’t feeling well in general. She went to bed and woke up when she felt dampness between her legs. It was blood so she called the OB who informed her that was normal with twins and not to worry about that or the weight gain. She was walking back to bed when my amniotic sac broke. (Apparently, it was NOT a small amount of liquid.) She called again and was told that urinary incontinence was not unusual during the third trimester. While arguing with the doc, she noticed strong cramping. She informed the doctor that she was going to the hospital and he could meet her there – or not. She was already at 4cm and effacing (no one remembers what %). Since the local hospital was tiny and unprepared for premature twins, Mom was moved by ambulance to a regional tier 3 hospital. We were born a few hours after transport. Mom’s BP at the hospital was in the 130’s/90ish which was considered ok considering she was stressed. The tricky bit is that Mom’s normal BP was around 104/65 so her BP was actually climbing a lot. After we were born, she had a headache, but didn’t think to tell the nurses about it. Thankfully, a nurse took her BP an hour or so after we were born and found it was at something like 200/110 – and immediately called for help to get Mom stabilized before she started seizing.

  • Charlotte

    I have two daughters with autism, and their special needs preschool is full of children left permanently damaged by traumatic births. Unless someone is part of the special needs community, they may not realize how very common permanent birth injuries are. My son has a brachial plexus injury from a tightly-wrapped nuchal cord and if he had been born vaginally instead of via c-section, his left arm would probably be paralyzed instead of just weak. Some of these cases can’t be predicted or prevented, but I’ve heard enough moms say their child was injured when their CNM or CPM was so intent on giving them a vaginsl birth that they failed to order a c-section until it was too late that I think the NCB movement is responsible for more injuries than most people realize.

    • sdsures

      I have spastic quad CP as a result of being born at 28 weeks, in the car, racing to the hospital. I also have hydrocephalus. Neither of these things was caused by my mom being as vain and careless as HB women seem to be.

      When I was a kid, I did ask, “Why am I like this? Why can’t I do X, Y or Z?” And my mom told me the truth: that sometimes babies are born early, through nobody’s fault. One possible theory is that when she was pregnant, she unknowingly was in the house when exterminators were fumigating for termites. Not her fault. She didn’t smoke or drink, AFAIK during either pregnancy.

      So, when I see a woman written about on here that willingly, KNOWLINGLY does this dangerous behaviour that can cause real and long-term or permanent harm to her child, I am enraged. Not because I’m not happy the way I am, and not because I’m mad at my mom – I know she didn’t do anything to cause my premature birth.

      I am enraged because of the basic ignorance of these women, and I really get the feeling like they don’t love their children and want the best for them.

      • SporkParade

        This is why I absolutely despise Ina May. Her child was born at about the same week of gestation as my husband in a much wealthier country *and* he had the benefit of being a singleton. Yet she let her baby die rather than seek medical attention, whereas my husband is alive and healthy. She’s a murderess as far as I’m concerned.

        • Bugsy

          A murdress who is absolutely adored by her fans. It makes no sense to me.

          • well she is the midwife right, and she says nothing could have been done. it seems callous not to believe her until you know about the creepy farm and the sex cult and everything.

          • Bugsy

            Sex cult? That’s something I’m unfamiliar with….please do enlighten me!

          • Daleth

            If you read her books there are some very weird passages about her massaging women’s nipples and ladybits to get them off during labor…

          • Bugsy

            Oh, my. One more reason to not read her books!

          • Medwife

            There is absolutely no way psychedelic drugs did not play a role in many of those births. I’m betting mushrooms.

          • Daleth

            I’m with you on that. Substances were involved, and mushrooms would surely be the most NATURAL psychedelic drug available. Except for people living in the southwest, who of course would turn to peyote.

          • the farm started as a “free love” commune ran by Ina’s husband, stephen gaskin. The original rules of the cult were that women were sexually available to any men in the cult at any time. Hence, all the pregnancies. Stephen gaskin was the one who decided (likely because of a lack of funds) that births would take place on the farm w/o meds. Ina began the wifely duty of learning about how to deliver babies. Eventually the cult fell into monogamy and lost members, as most communes of the same era did.

          • Bugsy

            Wow. I had no idea.

          • D/

            Not the document I was actually looking for but Part 2: Chapters 4-6 likey has more Gaskin Farmie details than you’ll want.

            http://www.gutenberg-e.org/hodgdon/14_Ch_04-1_ed.html

          • Medwife

            How much could they do for preemies of that age in the early seventies? It’s hard to understand why she wouldn’t bring the baby in, having been born alive, when he started to struggle, especially considering stories later in the book relate them transporting babies to the hospital.

            At the time, with who she was then, basically under the power of a charismatic cult leader, I find it hard to judge her too harshly. Who knows how she feels about it now.

          • Amy M

            Well, (anecdotes here, not data), my husband and one of our friends were both born prematurely in the 70s. Our friend was born in 1973, and was a twin. I’m not sure what gestation, but his twin died, and he ended up with heart surgery (PDA) when he was a toddler, as well as a partially detached retina, and adhd. Despite all that, he’s very successful and a great guy.

            My husband was born about 7wks early in 1977 and I don’t know if/how long he did NICU time, but his eyes are fine and he didn’t have heart issues. He does have adhd

        • yugaya

          Ina May Gaskin, “mother” of natural childbirth movement as it is today, is the woman who let her own baby die a preventable death before she embarked on her path of midwifery enlightenment. I think they even buried him somewhere there by the side of the road (he was born and died on a bus).

          How ideologically blinded does one need to be to miss a red flag that big?

        • Charlotte

          My oldest was born at 32 weeks as well. I can’t even begin to describe the awful emotions I felt when I read she had let her own premature daughter die at home rather than seek medical care. It’s unfathomable.

        • sdsures

          What gestation was your husband born? (brainfog)

          One of my friends’ husbands (who is perfectly healthy) once asked me, in all seriousness, whether I wished I had been born healthy.

          I told him I couldn’t answer that question one way or the other, because I have nothing to compare it to. It’s a bit like asking “What came before the Big Bang?”.

          Ina May ought to be prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide, IMO.

          • SporkParade

            He was two months early (they didn’t count by weeks then).

    • Fallow

      My daughter has a brachial plexus injury from shoulder dystocia, that required a year of occupational therapy. I had never heard of it before, but when she started therapy, we also found out that birth injuries really are more common than people realize. Our baby wasn’t even their most injured BPI baby, not by a long shot. Let alone the children who’d had severe hypoxia and so forth.

      One of my NCB friends had a baby who apparently had to be resuscitated after her labor in a birth center. That’s not how she describes it, of course. She says the baby “needed a little help” learning to breathe. Of course, the midwife had no idea he was possibly in distress. The baby was immediately admitted to a hospital and put on oxygen for about a week. She’s also said some things that make me think she had a dystocia, too. If so, she is in total denial that it happened, or that it’s a big deal. It’s hard for me to not wonder if all of this will have a longterm impact on her baby, but she seems oblivious.

      If we could have known I was going to have a shoulder dystocia, I’d have wanted a c-section. Maybe they wouldn’t have given me one, but I know how I would have felt about it. As it was, I don’t think I had any glaring risk factors that made it obvious a dystocia was going to happen. And my daughter has recovered well, has never missed a milestone, and her therapists were great. It was a hard first year for her, though.

      • Medwife

        I’m happy to facilitate a scheduled c/s for women with a history of it, as it’s such a strong indicator for having another. Sometimes if a woman had a risk factor like GDM the first time and she’s dramatically changed her blood sugar control, we’re more relaxed about it. But some women have just the wrong combination of baby size/shape and pelvis size/shape, and they and baby are better off surgically.

        • Fallow

          One of the obstetricians who attended my birth (and my general practitioner for that matter) said just what you said –
          that she thought my daughter’s size and shape was incompatible with
          mine. My baby was 9 lbs and born just three days past her due date, so I guess she was big. But so many of my friends have had 10 or 11-lb babies that it didn’t occur to me that 9 lbs was big enough to be a problem!

          I’ve got to admit I’m scared as crap of having another baby. I had bad pre-eclampsia as well, and a gigantic PPH. If I ever do get pregnant again, though, I’ll definitely seek out someone who would at least consider a scheduled c-section. I’d 100% rather have a c-section than put another baby through possible severe injury. Having seen it, I would not want to risk it again.

  • Trixie

    The saddest part is I’m pretty sure these are all real stories that have been sent to Dr. Amy.

    • sdsures

      And if they do appear on Facebook HB support groups, the ones with sad endings get deleted. :'(

    • Froggggggg

      Sadder still, there are multiple versions of all of these real stories. They aren’t rare one-offs. 🙁

  • anonymous

    I have a friend who had a homebirth several years ago. She went past her due date, and refused to do a nonstress test to make sure her baby was ok. I asked her to transfer care, to go to a doctor and at least make sure she and her baby were both well, even if she wanted to wait for labor to start. I worried. I sent her links to this site. She waited, and finally went into labor in the wee hours of the morning at almost 42 weeks. She labored all throughout that day. Her water broke late in the afternoon. It was full of meconium, but still her midwife did not transfer her to the hospital. I was on edge as I got updates throughout the day. Finally, late that evening word came that her baby had been born, and mom and baby were well. Baby apparently needed some sort of help at birth, but I don’t know if he needed full on resuscitation or meconium scooped out of his airway or what. The parents didn’t offer details. They did not take mom or baby to the hospital. I breathed a sigh of relief and concluded she had just barely dodged a bullet. But now, it’s several years later. Her baby seemed to develop normally, but with subtle signs that maybe some milestones were late. More milestones were late in the preschool years; skills developed later for him and he had to work harder than many kids to master intellectual and motor skills. Her son is now in school and has a number of cognitive delays. He’s getting early intervention in several areas. Maybe he would have had delays no matter what. I don’t know. And fortunately he is not severely disabled, but many skills are very hard won for him. But I have to wonder if the effects of his difficult start are showing up now. I don’t know if my friend thinks there’s any connection; I couldn’t ask without risking the friendship, because I suspect she would lash out if she does think there’s a connection but doesn’t want to admit it. She still loudly champions homebirth. I wonder what her son will think of it someday.

    • jhr

      Your story resonates with me. Over 40 years ago when preparation for NCB in a hospital setting allowed one’s husband to be present at the birth, committing to a non-drugged delivery was seen as the route to a healthy baby and female empowerment. A close friend, attended by the OB who was the darling of the local chapter, labored for many hours with a huge first baby in a transverse position. The mom refused a c-section and fetal monitoring. The baby was finally turned (after hours of ‘bouncing back’ with each contraction) vaginally. Outcome–a little girl with significant but specific learning issues. An MRI done many years later indicated brain damage to the portion of the brain that is understood to correlate to the difficulties she has experienced. I have never brought up this girls birth when commiserating with her mom over her educational challenges.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I have never brought up this girls birth when commiserating with her mom over her educational challenges.

        And of course you shouldn’t, because, you know, for her and her child, it really doesn’t matter. Even if that was the clear cause, it means nothing to her, because it’s not like she can undo it. Therefore, bringing it up serves no purpose.

        • Amazed

          I agree. Especially if the mother doesn’t bring the homebirth up either.

          I am not sure what is the right course of action if she does bring it up. I really don’t know. Years ago, when I had first moved here, my new neighbour’s sister was talking about uneducated doctors and how there was not a single one who noticed her husband’s cancer in time, some 30 years ago (they were older than my grandmother.) Her sister told her that this was not the most pertinent example and she should change the topic. She didn’t. And then, my neighbour looked at her and said, “Have you really forgotten? Have you forgotten how he came to my husband’s office and my husband told him that he had cancer in a very early stage and he should have an operation now while it was still so new? You started crying, raging insults, and saying that my husband had no idea what he was talking about. And how, in the year you made rounds to other doctors, neither of you ever told them about this diagnosos? Have you forgotten?”

          The woman started crying and saying that she was so grateful her children never got to know. that there was a diagnosis made in the very beginning, with a machine that was better than what many hospitals had at their disposals here. And I am still torn at deciding whether my neighbour was right. Sure, she’s a very direct person but still… On the other hand, truth is truth and her sister was misconstruing events, painting her husband and herself solely as victims of the incompetence of every practitioner they came into contact with. I still don’t know.

          • Medwife

            Ah, the pre-HIPAA days of yore.

          • Amazed

            And also the days parents insisted on bringing their daughters in for abortion with their faces covered, so even the doctors wouldn’t know who they had operated on. The world had changed so much. Although I am not actually sure that HIPAA had anything to do with it. A Communist country in the 70s? The state knew everything about everyone, so I’m sure that HIPAA, the way we know it now, would have no meaning. No one was good at keeping secrets, they had to tell them at the state which had to know everything about everyone…

            I don’t want to live in golden olden days. For more than one reason.

    • Mel

      I wonder too, how much of the “hands-off” attitude towards medical help affected his getting early intervention.

      That little guy did not get early intervention. He’s getting late intervention. (I say this as a grown-up special ed kiddo and a teacher who has seen far too many students get the help they need too late because of parental pride.)

      Normally, a history of a hard birth + developmental delays in infancy makes you a good candidate for things like PT, OT, speech therapy and other interventions that start in infancy.

      If the delays exist into pre-school, that usually means MORE interventions are needed – not less.

      By the time I was in early elementary, I needed less and less support because I had had interventions starting in infancy. I was out of speech by 2nd grade, out of OT by kindergarten (although in hindsight I wish I had had access to computers/typewriters earlier in life.) and down to yearly PT evaluations by 4th grade.

      I feel for that little man. Life is hard enough without the pride of parents getting in the way.

      • anonymous

        Original poster of this thread here. Wow. I didn’t realize that he should have been getting intervention sooner. He’s 4 and in a public school pre K. He gets several things – I think speech and a couple of other interventions to help with motor skills and cognitive skills. He was somewhat late to walk, run, etc. and very late to speak and hit some other development skills. He just started getting interventions this year in school; I don’t know if the parents were told to get him in interventions sooner and didn’t, or if their pediatrician didn’t see him enough to realize the extent of his delays. I hope he catches up to his peers in a few years!

        • Mel

          On the positive side, he probably will. That’s part of the reason there are so many well-baby check-up during the first year. A lot of the problems are easier to fix when you have an infant (for example, because my mom was doing my PT exercises with me and my sister at 4 months, I was the most compliant with my exercise/stretching plans during that period than as an adult :-P)

          The tricky bit is that it all depends on the parents’ willingness to fight to get help for their kid. If the mom or dad glossed over the story of his birth, the pediatrician may not have been worried about a few missed milestones – most kids have some of those.

          On the flip side, the pediatrician may have been begging them to get interventions, but they refused – either because of philosophical objections or because they didn’t have insurance and didn’t know that you can (generally) figure out a way to get infant intervention covered by the local school district or county wide district. (I don’t blame them for not knowing that; I only know because of my life experience and a strong belief in fighting for fair access for all kiddos for what they need to succeed.)

  • Schnitzelbank

    And where will your Champions of Homebirth be? They won’t be with you in the NICU. They won’t be at the constant appointments with specialists, PT, or OT, now that your child has permanent injuries. They won’t be helping your child with rehab exercises. They will have totally forgotten about you. They are cheering the next woman off the cliff. You are now their worst nightmare: the antithesis to homebirth.

    • sdsures

      They disappear once the baby is (relatively) alive.

  • Riverside

    Homebirth praise is fleeting; brain damage is forever.

  • moto_librarian

    I know that some women enjoy being pregnant. I am not one of them. For me, pregnancy was a time of worry. I had spotting in the first trimester with both pregnancies. I remember sitting in the waiting room, waiting for an ultrasound, certain that I was having a miscarriage. I cried tears of relief when we saw our son’s heart beating. With our second, I had all day, unrelenting nausea through the fifth month, then horrible hip pain for the last two months. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking about how much the baby was moving, sometimes poking my tummy if I thought he had been quiet for two long. Once I hit 37 weeks, there was relief that I was at term, but still worry about how the labor and delivery would proceed.

    My goal was to have a healthy, living baby at the end of pregnancy. Before my first was born, I had naive ideas about how I wanted my birth experience to go, but it was never a huge priority. The day my first child was born was honestly one of the most difficult of my life. Labor and delivery was unbelievably painful, then I had the cervical laceration and pph, went to the operating room, and our son went to the NICU for TTN. I learned very quickly why women historically feared childbirth, and realized just what could happen in the absence of obstetric interventions. I would never be able to forgive myself if I had prioritized how I gave birth over the health of my children. You get pregnant to become a child, not to have a birth experience.

    • KeeperOfTheBooks

      I hear ya. I bled some in the first/second trimester with DD, and the sheer terror of that ride to the hospital in which I was sure she was dying wasn’t something I’d wish on anyone. I also would worry if she hadn’t moved for a couple of hours (the poor kid was probably trying to sleep!) and would sometimes poke at my belly/drink something sugary if she hadn’t kicked me recently.

    • demodocus’ spouse

      *hugs* I worried all the time too, and I wasn’t having any bleeding.

    • Cobalt

      I am terrible at dealing with being pregnant. I don’t mind L&D so much, but the thought of the physical realities of pregnancy, the worrying over the fragility of fetal development, the breath holding every time they checked the heartrate….ugh. I’m done!

      • Bugsy

        I’m with you on that. If everything goes well, Toddler Bugsy will have just the one sibling currently gestating. I do _not_ like pregnancy.

    • Medwife

      Pregnancy is not fabulous for me either. The first time around much worse than this one thus far, knock on wood. But those few minutes at prenatal visits when I listen to those running horses makes up for it all and lots more.

      • moto_librarian

        I remember when I went in for the quad screen (I think it’s called something else now). I had been sick all day, and was feeling miserable. Then I saw my baby moving around on the screen and I remembered that all of the misery was worth having another little guy join our family.

    • Amy M

      Yeah–when I was pregnant with my twins, I was constantly expecting to see blood every time I went to the toilet. I didn’t—until the onset of pre-term labor. I had a lot of ultrasounds, and I would get nervous in the days right before, fearing that one or both babies had died. The pregnancy was the result of IVF—if I had miscarried, I could not have “just gotten pregnant again.’ It would have taken more ART. I went through all that because I wanted children, preferably healthy. How they arrived was barely a blip on the radar.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        With our first, my wife had some spotting around 8 – 9 weeks. Therefore, she had an early US to ensure everything was ok (and it was). Early US was not done routinely, and only when medically indicated.

        I mentioned on WTE that we had the early US, and everyone was like, “Oh, you are so lucky! I wish I could get one!” I told them, um, NO, you don’t. You might think it’s fun, but seeing a diagnosis of “Abortion – threatened” was not fun at all, and really, really sucked.

        And after that point, and with our second, I didn’t sleep worth crap because every time my wife got up to use the bathroom during the night, I would break into cold sweats fearing that she would come back and tell me there was a problem.

        That was nerve-racking.

      • Bugsy

        With my son, I was constantly petrified of seeing blood. At 28 weeks, I had full-on bleeding that landed me an overnight in the hospital. They never gave me a diagnosis for it, but it disappeared until the night I went into L&D at 38+5. It was the biggest indication to me that labor was starting.

        This time around, I had 5 episodes of bleeding between 4-6 weeks, diagnosed with a subchorionic hemorrhage. I’m absolutely petrified of seeing more blood; is it any wonder after all of this? Let’s just say that the fear doesn’t go away…

    • Ash

      I personally don’t know anyone who really enjoyed pregnancy. For many women there is a good deal of discomfort, unwelcome physical changes, and loss of income. And that’s OK. It’s not necessary for women to be feeling orgasmic/blissful/whatever NCB tropes to get through the process.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym

        Some time ago (before I got pregnant), my step-mother made the comment that in terms of pain and discomfort she’d rather have a baby than go to the dentist. Every woman in the room who I’m genetically related to and who’d had a baby looked at her like she was nuts, nuts, NUTS! I should have known then that I wasn’t going to have one of those blissful problem free pregnancies that people talk about. And, indeed, I didn’t. Hated pregnancy. Only put up with it to get the baby. OTOH, I find going to the dentist to be but a minor nuisance and most people go to the dentist more often than they have a baby so I think I win overall.

        • Ash

          dentist doesn’t give people hemorrhoids for months!

          • Sarah

            I quite like going to the dentist.

        • Amy M

          I don’t know…I might have to side with your step-mother on this one…. 🙂 While I found giving birth highly uncomfortable, the epidural prevented most of the pain, and I got some babies out of the deal. Meanwhile, I have such dentist phobia that if anything more than a cleaning comes up, I have a panic attack. Yeah, its irrational, but there it is.

        • Roadstergal

          I was chatting with my new boss about her kids, and she mentioned that she had just the easiest time with pregnancy and birth, and she appreciates how lucky she is (when she said she was happy to avoid C-sections, it was clear in context that she was happy to have such trouble-free pregnancies and births to not need them). It happens that one can just win at biological roulette, but it does seem the minority…

      • KarenJJ

        I did. I loved pregnancy. After a bit of mild nausea in the first trimester (which seemed to be relieved by eating cream biscuits in the tea room at work), I had never felt better.

        Turned out pregnancy does something to your immune system and dials it down a bit during pregnancy and I had an undiagnosed immune system issue. It’s funny looking back.

    • Liz Leyden

      The worst part of pregnancy for me was the fear. I had bleeding around 10 weeks, and once I finally got out of work (after waiting 90 minutes for relief to arrive), I spent the next 2 weeks worried about miscarriage. Once I hit the second trimester I had a nagging feeling something was wrong with one of the babies. At 21 weeks, my daughter was diagnosed with HLHS. My father died right after cardiac surgery, and I was terrified of losing her.

      My water broke at 35 weeks, 5 days before we were supposed to leave town, and I had to be airlifted to Boston for delivery. Then came surgery for my daughter, post-partum pre-eclampsia for me, and an ER trip for Hubby, all while caring for my son (I had twins) in temporary housing. Things finally subsided after 3 weeks, when my daughter came out of the CICU.

      I never considered homebirth because I wanted to deliver in a place where resources were available if things went wrong, and my home is not that place. If something had gone wrong that could’ve been prevented, I don’t think I could forgive myself.

    • Mel

      In all honesty, the idea of pregnancy scares me.

      I’ve seen so many things that can go badly wrong in my mom’s life – prematurity, severe maternal pre-ecclampsia, losing an infant son to a birth defect, raising two of us with disabilities, the fear during my other brother’s first year of life while being unsure of if he had the same birth defect that killed David, all while having limited access to anti-anxiety drugs and antidepressants…..yeah.

      Part of me has been relieved that my husband’s upcoming gastric bypass surgery and graduate school hell for me have provided good reasons to postpone having a baby for another half-a-year or so. It’s given me more time to work through some of this with a counselor.

  • Mel

    Don’t forget the heel pricks on babies in the NICU. My umbilicus worked for blood draws, but my twin’s didn’t. Her heels were purple-black from the draws and my mom can’t talk in about what it was like hearing her cry after each one. By the end of her 4 month stay, she was tactical-defensive and needed lots of OT to respond to new stimuli- like pudding or sand- without trying to obtain withdraw. Only as an adult has she been able to get blood draws w/o going into shock.