Meeting-the-Midwives

Oh, boy! So, we went to a “Meet-the-Midwives” meeting last Thursday at a place called The Sanctuary. My husband was somewhat reluctant to go (which I totally understand) and he also thought it was a waste of time because he was positive that we were going to give birth in a hospital. (He never watched “The Business of Being Born” with me – so he had a pretty dim view of midwives in general.) Anyhow, they told us the meeting would last from 3-5 pm which already sounded like an eternity to my husband who normally has a very short attention span. But, to his credit, he came with me because he could tell I thought it was important.

Our first impression was that they were disorganized. A few minutes after we got there and sat down to fill out forms, everyone was asked to get up so the staff could move the seating around to face the opposite direction from the way it had all been set up. For a place that holds these meetings every week, I thought that was some pretty bad planning. “Strike #1,” I thought to myself.

Then came the midwives, five of them on a panel, with no Doctor present, as had been advertised. (He had some last minute appointments that ran long or something.) One of the co-founders was the first to speak and welcome us all. Her soft voice was all but drowned out by the loud toddlers (and equally loud mother) at the back of the room. The noise was so distracting that it really affected everyone there and we seriously considered walking out until she finally went back there and said something that magically made the noisy family leave. “Plus one point for handling that gracefully,” I noted.

Each midwife was asked to say a little bit about themselves and their background, as an introduction. [Here’s where I realized that I’m not as “hippie” as I’ve come to believe.] These women – God bless them – went on so fucking long about their life stories I thought I was going to cry, scream, or fall asleep (odd mix of responses, I know, but any of them would have been appropriate). I started to think, “Oh, God… this is going to be such a waste of time. Why did I drag my husband here?”

I had printed off a list of 25+ questions I found online about what to ask a birthing center. I was prepared. I had read everything I could get my hands on and I had real, specific questions that I wanted answered. The whole, get-to-know-your-midwife’s-childhood-dreams spectacle was not only uninteresting to me, it was starting to piss me off. Just then, my husband scribbled a note and passed it to me (it felt like we were back in Jr. High). He has nearly illegible handwriting so it took me a minute to decipher the message: “I can feel my balls shrinking.” It took everything in me not to burst out into cackling laughter! We were in the front row of this thing and the midwives seemed so… well, sweet, and I didn’t want to offend anyone. I turned my laugh into a well-disguised (I think/hope) cough or two and then just held my breath until the urge subsided.

The “introductions” took up the entire first hour! Can you believe that? That averages out to 20 minutes per midwife – and actually one of them spoke for only 2 minutes, so most of them talked for even longer than 20 minutes. Total waste of time.

Luckily for us, the second hour was chock full of useful, practical information and a refreshing lack of preachiness (my own bias about what I thought they might be like). They covered the services they offer before birth and how they get to know each “client” (in quotes because I’m so used to being thought of as a “patient”). They stressed that they only take low-risk pregnancies to begin with. I raised my hand and asked if they would consider me to be high risk because of my “advanced maternal age,” like the hospitals do? They smiled and explained that a woman could be high-risk at 31 and low-risk at 42, and that as long as I was healthy and the baby was healthy, age was not a factor. (I loved hearing that and it resonated with me…. I don’t feel high-risk!)

They discussed all the different possibilities during the birthing process and how each woman and each pregnancy is different and deserves to be treated differently. They tailor their approach to the needs and personality of the mothers – which is so different from the cookie-cutter approach that hospitals apply to everyone alike. I appreciated that they didn’t bash hospital births, in fact, they treated them with reverence, explaining that science and its advancements are a valuable gift and should absolutely be utilized when they are necessary. The had zero judgment about hospital births and only really seemed to care about two things: the mother’s experience (and treating her like a human being) and the birth of a healthy baby.

The midwives had an entire segment devoted to what could go wrong and emergency transport to the hospital. We felt that they covered everything. They explained that in a normal birth scenario, emergencies don’t suddenly manifest, that they monitor baby and mother and can tell early on if something is off – and inform or advise the mother about a hospital transfer. We asked about what situations could come up that constituted a true emergency and how they would handle it. We were told that the two most common emergencies were that the baby wasn’t breathing or the mother was hemorrhaging. They are trained at resuscitating  infants (the receive the same training as EMTs and nurses) and bring along oxygen & whatever equipment is required and for the hemorrhaging mother, they bring 3 different drugs that will stop the bleeding and can administer this through IV.

In all honesty, when they finally got down to talking about details, they were all really impressive and professional. I didn’t feel like they were going to shower me with daisies and sing “Kumbaya” – I felt like these women really knew what they were doing and that I would be in good hands with any of them.

I asked about non-drug pain management during labor, and one of the midwives asked me, “Have you ever heard of an aqua-dural?” I told her I hadn’t. She explained that no one is quite sure why, but the sheer act of immersing in water appears to be effective in instantly lessening the pain of contractions. (As a side note, I first witnessed a water-birth on t.v. – on a show called “That’s Incredible” sometime in the early 1980s and have been absolutely fascinated by it ever since. In fact, I think I was about 10 years old when I saw it and I thought, “I want to do that someday!”)

As the final portion of the meeting, they discussed payment plans and insurance coverage. Even though most HMOs won’t cover out-of-hospital births, there may be some services that are covered and they use a third party service to determine whether or not our insurance will cover any of it. We’re in the process of figuring that all out right now.

I was surprised and delightedly so, when my husband had a complete change of heart about using midwives and having a home birth! He told me that he really liked the women and also felt like they could handle an emergency situation and that he had a whole new perspective on things. This is one of the reasons I love him so much! I’ve always said that the true mark of intelligence is not how much you know, but how flexible you are about processing new information and altering your opinions/conclusions accordingly. I was/am so proud of him.

We still have a big hurdle to jump if we want help paying for this, as my father is adamant that he wants me to give birth in a hospital because doctors are the only people he trusts in an emergency. But I know this is what I want in my heart-of-hearts. It feels so right on every level. If we have to, we can dig into our savings to make it happen… I bet I won’t regret it one bit if that’s what we end up having to do. At the end of the day, everyone has the same goal: healthy mommy & healthy baby. Who knew there’d be so many choices to make so early on?!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jesica
    May 20, 2012 @ 21:11:42

    Glad the meet n greet turned out good in the end even if it had a rocky start. You’ve expressed the reason I love midwives so much (well, certain midwives) is that they don’t look down upon hospital births and know that there IS a place for them and that they do save mamas and babies it’s just that not everyone needs to go there if there’s no emergency! Tell your father you will be at the hospital if there’s an emergency but if you’re just having a baby,which isn’t an emergency, you’ll be at home!

    Reply

    • msfertility
      May 21, 2012 @ 15:22:15

      I agree with you 100%. We’re going to meet with our Doctor tomorrow and see how she answers our questions to compare that with what we know the midwives can provide. I suspect she won’t have the time to sit and talk with us (and that will say a lot on it’s own!) But we’ll see. It’s difficult to know whose opinion (other than mine) should carry any weight in this situation!

      Reply

  2. Daryl
    May 21, 2012 @ 15:42:23

    Your opinion should be most important! Barring, of course, any kind of medical emergency. But I agree with Jesica. Having a baby is not a medical emergency, and it’s not an illness. I loved The Business of Being Born, too, and thought it was very eye-opening. I’m glad your husband got some good info out of the meeting, too, and that he’s on board with your wishes for a home birth. I hope you can get your dad on board as well!

    Reply

    • msfertility
      May 22, 2012 @ 11:22:41

      I hope so, too! My dad is so focused on the 1% (or less) chance that a horrible, last-minute emergency could occur and after everything he knows we’ve been through, he’s afraid we could lose our baby by not being at a hospital. I can’t guarantee that won’t happen… but the chances are so low (I don’t want to jinx myself – lol) but my mind just doesn’t operate that way. I trust that the midwives really know what they’re doing. However, I’m not sure we can afford them without my dad’s help 😦 Waiting to see what our doc says today….

      Reply

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