Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Birth Days

Edith here. My 1888 midwife Rose Carroll attends births in her clients' homes as her profession. When I was having babies several decades ago, I also enlisted home birth midwives. In fact, today is my younger son's birthday.

Baby Allan, one week old
Despite working with a well-known independent midwife (with physician backup) for my older son's birth, his positioning and large head led us to need a C-section after forty-eight hours of labor. These are the cases where, unlike in 1888, we are glad for antiseptic procedure and skilled surgeons. My nine-pound twelve-ounce son (with his sixteen-inch head) was fine. The hospital nurses said they'd never seen such a big head on a newborn. I ended up fine, too, and we nursed as a couple until I became pregnant with Allan's younger brother two years later.

I had done my homework and I knew second births are usually faster and easier than firsts. We again signed up with an independent midwife for a home birth, also known as VBAC: vaginal birth after Cesarean.

Edith and midwife Miriam Khalsa
To my dismay I experienced two days of vigorous labor just like the first time. I walked the halls. I labored on hands and knees and in a tub.
I squatted. My baby was lodged in a transverse (face up) position and nothing was bringing that little guy out, so we were forced to endure another surgery. Imagine my surprise when they said this nine-pound eight-ounce boy's head measured sixteen and a half inches!
Baby John David, a few days old

From my studies, I believe if Rose Carroll had encountered births like these, she would have waited longer, but if the baby showed signs of serious distress, she could have transferred the mother to the new hospital across the river in Newburyport. C-sections were being done by then, and the importance of keeping incisions clean to avoid infections was known.

John David and Allan, with Anna, my goddaughter and their friend for life (who was born at home with a midwife)
Perhaps the third Quaker Midwife Mystery will include an emergency C-section. Meanwhile, my second baby also thrived and is now a smart, generous, hardworking, thoughtful, handsome, and fun twenty-seven year old. Happy birthday, John David!

Readers: want to share your birth story - your own, your child's, or one you witnessed? Any experience with home birth, or are you squarely in the hospital camp?

Delivering the Truth, Edith Maxwell's first Quaker Midwife Mystery, releases April 8 from Midnight Ink. She writes several other mystery series as well as award-winning short stories, and blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors.


Peg Cochran said...

My first was "occiput posterior" meaning facing up instead of face down toward my spine. She never turned and came out face up startling everybody. With my second, I had a lot of Braxton-Hicks so when I started having contractions ten days before my due date, I didn't pay any attention to them. We even went out to the local Chinese restaurant for dinner...where my water broke! I thought someone had spilled hot tea in my lap at first. then I thought it was really funny--my husband didn't. We were warned the birth could be fast and he was in a panic. It was fast--got up to the L&D room at 11:15 pm and she was born at 11:21. Every year we celebrated my daughter's birthday at the same Chinese restaurant. On my daughter's 10th birthday, the owner showed up at my house with a birthday cake for her!

Edith Maxwell said...

What a great story, Peg! Glad they both came out all right.

Tina Ossian Strandskov said...

It was interesting to read your story. Neither of us are tall women, yet produced good sized babies. I didn't realize that we had also both had our boys later in life than some in our age group. Because my pregnancies were fertility treatment results we were pretty much locked in to having hospital deliveries. With the first one, we had heard enough stories of people being sent home from the hospital for coming too early, I was determined not to have that happen. Once I decided it was time we had a 45 minute drive to the hospital. Upon arrival I told them the baby was coming now and got all of the "relax first time mom" comments but I kept telling them to call the doctor and they relented. We checked in at 11:30 p.m. and Krister was born at 12:05 a.m., weighing in at a petite 9lb 10 oz. After he was born we actually stayed in the alternative birth center until after dinner when we went home. Three years later my husband announced I needed a doctor and hospital closer to home. I chose a new doctor, new hospital and our pediatrician got temporary privileges at that hospital. We checked into the hospital at 6:30 p.m. and the doctor from the practice on call that night was the one I had never met. At 9 p.m. she came to check on my progress and said that it was very crowded and her nurse was holding a spot in the delivery room and we were going now just to get a spot. That was fine with me. Once there I pushed twice and out he came. All 10 pounds and four ounces of him. Krister will be 32 in April and Leif will be 28 in June.

Edith Maxwell said...

Yes, big babies! So glad you had good birth experiences, Tina!

Risa said...

I love birth stories.

Risa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edith Maxwell said...

Of course you do, Risa! For you, I would have included MUCH more detail. Thanks for stopping by the blog.