She’s proud she freebirthed a 24 week preemie

Portrait of newborn baby and hand inside incubator

She writes on her Facebook page:

While I am proud of myself for birthing and catching my baby myself, thankful he was strong enough at that age to be saved, I don’t feel like I did anything super or amazing…

That’s good, Paala, because you didn’t do anything super or amazing. You did something immature and despicable. You risked your baby’s life by repeatedly defying the doctors who were working desperately to save him.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Labor by myself with my baby, just us, and I’d birth him and catch him and then call for help.”[/pullquote]

Early in the second trimester, Palaa’s began suffering a serious and growing placental abruption. Thus began the effort to save Palaa’s son by keeping in the womb and long as possible. That must have been very difficult for Palaa since her identity is based on her childrearing choices:

I write about my journey through motherhood as co-sleeping, babywearing, full-term breastfeeding parent to four wonderful children. We spend our days unschooling, exploring nature and all that the … area has to offer. I’m also a birth, breastfeeding, and women’s rights advocate so I post about those as well.

Simply following medical advice in an effort to save her son’s life did not offer enough scope to burnish her crunchy mom cred, so she acted like a willful toddler repeatedly defying medical advice.

…One day in December when I was 14 weeks along. I had what seemed to be an all day Braxton Hicks contraction, quite painful if anything bumped my belly, that ended in a gush of blood as I walked up my stairs at the end of the day. Bright red blood out of no where was worrisome… [W]hen the bleeding repeated itself once more the following day, I reached out to my birthy friends and took a tincture a trusted ex-midwife friend of mine suggested, drank lots of tea, and then all was fine.

Her baby freebirth was at risk!

I wasn’t able to envision a sweet home freebirth like my last one… I still hoped for the best, even as I bled occasionally. It wasn’t serious enough to warrant a trip to the hospital until I had a larger gush than usual.

She sought treatment at the hospital at 22 weeks:

I didn’t like the florescent lights, strangers that hardly made eye contact, the chilly doctor wasn’t soothing at all, didn’t put her hand on my skin, on my belly once while I was there for a couple hours, just touched me with tools and sent me to get an ultrasound. I also came during dinner time and no one offered an obviously pregnant woman anything to eat or drink. Not even a snack like they had sitting around.

She was released home and at 23 weeks and 3 days she had another “huge gush of blood,” bleeding through pad, pants and sheets and on to the mattress.

Did she go to the hospital? Of course not:

While I was in the shower, I assessed myself and considered my situation. In addition to the painful, regular contractions and bleeding, felt my cervix opening up from when I checked a few hours earlier…

I started driving to the hospital with a NICU 25 minutes away and kept tracking contractions…

When she got there:

…I told her I was 23 and 4, contracting every 2-3 minutes, they were painful, I was dilating, I was bleeding heavily, I had a SCH, I could feel the baby kicking fine, and I was there to get some labor stopping drugs. She had me fill out paperwork, put some plastic name tags on my wrist, and sat me down in a triage room and I gushed more blood, waiting to see someone. I wasn’t treated with urgency or offered any water, juice, or anything.

Imagine that! She bled for hours at home before she could be bothered to go to the hospital, showed up at 3 AM and there was no doctor to attend to her.

Everyone was so mean. [Could it be because they were incredulous at her willingness to ignore the potential death of her child?]

At 4:30am, an hour after arriving, the doctor on call finally arrived. She had a gruff beside manner, zero warmth. She shoved a couple of gloved fingers in me and confirmed what I’d been telling them, that I was dilated a couple centimeters. She said I was 80% effaced and she was going to start me on magnesium to stop labor. Oh and my baby was breech.

And then, horror of horrors, she had to put on a hospital gown.

By 6am, my husband got my message and I was given the first of two steroid shots, betamethasone, to mature my baby’s lungs in case he was born early and was started on magnesium sulfate intravenously with an IV drip to hopefully stop my labor. Thankfully, my labor slowed and then eventually stopped. The mag made me feel slow and hot…

Oh, and she got 5 units of blood!

By noon on Thursday, I was given 3 pints of blood. Apparently, I was only at 20% blood volume when I walked in. I was given 2 more pints in the next day to bring me back into the normal range… I had to fight to eat, telling them repeatedly that I was not going to have a CS at 23 weeks (my body, my baby, my choice), and I was pregnant and starving, that I needed to eat. Withholding food was unacceptable.

The next morning she woke up to a painful contraction. Did she tell anyone? No.

I went into steady labor again. I couldn’t sleep and I felt awful. I needed a shower. I wrapped up my IV and line ridden arm with a plastic bag and some tape that I found and rinsed off in the shower. I gently felt that I’d dilated another 2 cm and told my nurse so I could get started on mag again…I was given a second shot of betamethasone.

The mean people at the hospital tried to impress the seriousness of the situation on her but she didn’t get it.

The doctor on call scolded me for checking myself and told me to keep my hands out of my vagina. I’m pretty sure I gave them the “eff off” eyes because it was my body, I had made sure my hands were clean, and I knew I was more gentle with myself than they were.

Everyone continued being mean:

I continued being checked and prodded all day, all night. I had bruises on my arms for too many bad blood draw and IV attempts. I had to convince each new doctor and nurse that I didn’t want continuous fetal monitoring and I wasn’t going to have a c-section, that I could continue to eat. It was a constant fight to be listened to and left alone. It felt like it was all about control and slowly breaking me. I couldn’t believe this was standard care, that women were treated this way. Where was the respect?

I, I, me, me, my feelings, my need for control, me, me, MEEEE!!!

At this point, I asked the doctor of the day if I could eat outside because I was craving the outside world. He denied my request. I ignored the doctor’s orders on Sunday evening and went outside into the garden and ate my dinner outside before sunset with my husband.

Palaa’s baby is on the verge of viability, sure to be born early, and everyone is struggling to make sure he stays inside for as many extra hours or days possible.But Palaa found ignoring doctor’s orders to be delightfully transgressive.

So delightful that she continued defying the medical professionals:

By 8:30, I had enough. I took out my IV lines (nothing was being pumped into them at that point anyway) and my hospital bracelet. I wanted to take a shower with both arms free of junk. I figured they could put that crap back on me if it was an emergency but I needed to feel like myself again. (Did I mention they tracked and measured everything that came out of my body?)

Here’s the best part:

By 10pm, my body started going in to labor again. My husband was going to sleep and asked me if was okay. I said I just felt pushy, like I needed to poop. I blamed the start of a new round of contractions on the prune juice, them feeling like they needed to get me to poop and mess with my body. I went to the bathroom while he fell asleep on the fold out chair in the room. He was exhausted.

After a shower and sitting on the toilet a couple trying to poop, I realized I was in labor. I thought about my options as I sat in the bathroom. I’d been told my body only needed to open to 5 or 6 centimeters until my baby would come out because he was so small.

Palaa had to decide what to do.

Option 1. Call the nurses and either be prodded while birthing right there or be wheeled in for an emergency CS.

Option 2. Wake my husband and labor with him secretly but then I knew he’d lose his cool and call for help.

Option 3. Labor by myself with my baby, just us, and I’d birth him and catch him and then call for help.

Surprise! She went with the most transgressive choice!

Obviously, I went for option 3. It seemed like the safest thing for my baby and myself at the time. The studies I’d read didn’t report benefits for a c-section for babies of his age, that vaginal would have been safer, and I knew getting drugged up and controlled by strangers was going to make things dangerous for us. After a couple of painful contractions by the toilet, I laid out a couple of chux pads to catch the blood and crap I was sure was coming.

I kid you not!

My body slid Evar out, everything else, too, placenta and all in one contraction as I knelt down on the chux pads. I caught my baby boy and his bag of water broke as it hit my hands. I admired him and felt the relief of everything coming out. He looked perfect, though tiny, healthy, eyes closed but breathing, and I heard him cry.

Then she told her husband the baby had been born.

He jolted awake, ran out of the door to the nurses station at the corner to call for help. He said they were shocked and took a moment to move.

An ALS nurse came in a minute later and assessed Evar. He asked if we wanted to save him. We asked how he thought he was doing based on his professional opinion. He said he looked good and we said yes. (Babies born before 25 weeks are not saved unless the parents request it.) He milked the cord to give him more blood and then cut it. I was thankful it wasn’t too rushed but I wished he had carried the placenta up with the baby instead of cutting it…

She’s so proud of herself:

I had an unassisted freebirth, en caul just like my last baby, except in the hospital …

What about the baby?

He weighed 1 pound 6 oz, but survived. He spent four and a half months in the NICU and is doing well … no thanks to his mother who nearly killed him in her quest for bragging rights.