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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Brenik's Birth Story Part 1 (of 3)

I was just a few days shy of 40 weeks pregnant (or 39) and learned through an e-mail from my doctor that I once again tested positive for GBS. I had tested positive several weeks ago but requested to test again since women can bounce between positive and negative up until birth. I tested positive with Gabriel in my first pregnancy and though GBS is a serious bacteria if baby contracts it while descending through the birth canal, it's very common and testing positive wasn't what bothered me. What did bother me was the way in which GBS is typically treated and that's through an IV administered with a Hep-Lock. I've had a Hep-Lock on several different occasions (including my first labor), I can technically handle it, but having one in my arm is extremely emotionally and mentally taxing because it feeds off my claustrophobia. I have no issues with needles, it's the idea of having something taped down and remaining stuck inside me for an unknowing number of hours. If I knew exactly how long I'd need it I imagine I wouldn't have as big of an issue with it but the length of labor is so ambiguous. Even after having Gabriel I had a hard time getting the nurses to remove the Hep-Lock from my arm, since it was planed for me to stay 48hrs to monitor Gabriel they had wanted to keep it in 'just in case.' I'm sure some of you are having a hard time understand my fear, which is why it is considered a phobia- it doesn't make sense to others who don't have the phobia, but to me the fear/stress/anxiety is all too real.


I tried talking to my doctor about alternative means of receiving the antibiotic (shot or IV administrated through butterfly needle) but he told me he had never heard of those methods and (wait for it) told me I couldn't be treated at our local hospital if I denied the Hep-Lock. Through a hospital visit and multiple calls I tried to figure out whether or not the method in which GBS is treated at our hospital was policy or standard procedure and I kept getting the ring around, no one was giving me yes or no straight answers. On top of my hep-lock anxiety, anxiety about the entirety of my labor at the hospital was starting to brew because it seemed like no matter how hard I tried to fight and advocate for myself (over what I considered small battles all considering) I wasn't getting anywhere. I finally got some straight answers from a member of our church who works in the hospital and she told me that I had the right to deny anything and that there was a way around everything. Finally, an honest answer and one that told me that my doctor didn't have what was best for me in mind but rather what was better for his liability insurance. Yes, technically in a textbook having a Hep-Lock is best but I'm not a textbook, I'm a person with emotions and fears who is considered a low risk person (having a low risk pregnancy) and that is how I wanted to be treated.


I was passing all this information by my doula Melynda and sister-in-law Sarah (who was passing it by her mid-wife) and they both brought up the idea of me switching providers. I so desperately wanted to but being 40 weeks pregnant I didn't think it was possible, let alone something Chris would support. Melynda assured me if I did indeed want to change directions (i.e. midwife with a home birth) she'd help me make it happen, I just needed to give her a clear answer. I had texted Chris earlier that I was positive again and he knew without me saying that this was causing me a lot of inner turmoil. He called me on his lunch break and said, "if we need to do a 180' that's what we'll do. Let's talk when I get home."


After Gabriel's nap we went out to run errands and when we got home I found Chris looking up midwives and birthing centers. He heard me out for the hundredth time on my fears about a hospital birth and having our second experience wind up being similar to our first when we were trying so hard to avoid that. We also discussed if it was actually realistic to change the plan at this point in the game... I had originally wanted to try something different but because I was going to spend a majority of the pregnancy in Japan we figured we didn't have time to figure out something different this time around and now here we were thinking about changing anyways. Chris asked me what I wanted to do and I hesitantly verbalized it, "home birth with a midwife." I knew from previous conversations that this made Chris incredibly nervous however he put his fears aside and said, "if that's what we need to do we'll do it. I should have realized earlier based off Gabriel's birth that what's going to be best for us is what's best for you and if that's a home birth we'll do it." He did admit he was nervous but that he knew that my anxiety around a hospital birth couldn't be ignored anymore. We prayed about where our hearts and minds were at and if a new plan was what we needed to pursue that the Lord's hand would be in it, allowing the transition to fall together without problems. I made the call to my doula and started hitting up other friends I knew in the area who knew of or used midwives for home births.


While Chris started checking into insurances I was making phone calls to all the midwives recommended to me by Melynda and friends. It was after 8pm so I was leaving a lot of voicemails. Out of the list of 6 midwives I was given Chris could only verify one being in our insurance network. When I made the call to the one midwife in our network I was expecting to leave yet another voicemail but was caught off guard when someone picked up! It was a pretty interesting conversation explaining I was 39/40 weeks along and hoping to switch from a hospital birth to a home birth. It wasn't unheard of but definitely wasn't common. The midwife, Nikki, paused for a moment seeming to take in everything I just hit her with and said, "well, this might work out perfectly. All the clients I was booked with in that time frame have had their babies so I have room." We then ended the conversation by setting up an appointment to meet in two days! THANK YOU JESUS! I could not believe it. Even though nothing was set I right away felt a huge load of stress come off my shoulders, I was more content that I had been in months. Chris could see that and told me that I should try to stay a touch stressed so I didn't go into labor since we still didn't have anything set.

The meeting with the midwife wasn't what I expect a typical meeting being. Usually a woman looking for a midwife meets with several midwives to interview them and see who would be the best fit. Our meeting with Nikki was all business and no chit-chat. She tried to steer it the way a "normal" meeting goes but I cut to the chase pretty quick, "we need a midwife, you are the only one I was able to get a hold of who is in our network. If you want to take us on we're ready to commit." Like I said, it was sort of awkward but we talked through my concerns and reasons for switching and she didn't find any of that to be an issue and had no problem with using the butterfly needle for the penicillin. She had me fill out some paper work there, got my e-mail to send me the rest of it and set up a home visit. My next job was to get a hold of a birthing tub.

When googling birthing tub businesses I was hoping to find one that set up the tub and took down/cleaned up the tub after birth. There were several in the Seattle area but nothing that serviced us and if they did they wanted to be informed at least 4 weeks before due date... ha. Luckily I stumbled upon a tiny place just 30 minutes away but it was a pick up, drop off, and order a liner from somewhere else sort of operation. I made the call and they had a tub available! We picked up the following day which felt kind of sketchy- cash only and when we asked for an itemized receipt the gal was caught off guard, pulled out a scrap pieces of paper and a pencil. We said she could e-mail us one and she said that would work better since her husband has, "one of those fancy computers where he could make something up nice." She didn't take any of my information, just said to call when we were done with it (skip forward to a week after birth, still have not received an e-mail and still have not had our phone call returned about returning the tub)... The day after getting the tub I called another company to order the liner and that showed up at our house the following day.


A few days after meeting Nikki, she and her midwife-in-training Tiffany visited our home to make sure they knew how to get here, to plan where the tub was going, deliver the birth kit (I didn't have enough time to buy one so she put one together for me with odds and ends of previous kits. It was a box filled with after care items and such), and go over the paperwork she e-mailed me. She was very please with our health history and my first pregnancy history and noted that we were the perfect candidates for a home birth. This home visit completely redeemed the awkward first meeting; we were all comfortable and conversation seemed to flow naturally.

All we had to do from here was collect the last couple items like extra towels and tarps, cancel my remaining appointments with my doctor and wait for baby to come.


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21 comments:

  1. I'm so excited to read more of the story! It sounds like you TOTALLY did the right thing. I have a phobia of IVs as well and with my 3rd baby, I had to have one since I was GBS positive as well, and I was delivering at a hospital with a midwife. I was NERVOUS about it so, I get that!!! But, thankfully my labor was only 30 minutes so, I didn't have it in long. Wow, isn't it amazing to be a woman and be able to have amazing births? I wish I could relive those days 100 times.

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  2. Oh my gosh crazy story! Also I am a nurse and I can't understand why they couldn't just give you the IV penicillin and then take out the hep lock?! Doesn't make sense to me but I'm glad you found an alternative solution! Way to advocate for yourself! I can't wait to hear about how your home birth went!!

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  3. Can't wait to read more! I'm due Sept 22 and I'm also GBS positive. Looking forward to reading more of your birth story!

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  4. Can't wait to hear more on this story! :)

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  5. I love the pictures! And it is awesome that you had the courage to speak up for what you wanted and what you knew would be best for you. I hate that hospitals are more about the money business side if things than the patient care.

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  6. Okay I know how this story ends, but I still can't wait to read it. Also, I am in LOVE with these photos!!! I feel like you've been keeping them a secret! Haha! You gorgeous mama you!

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  7. Oh-em-gee!!!! Crazy story so far! Good for you for advocating for yourself and following your gut. Can't wait to hear how it all went down! I had two homebirths because of my fear of hospitals, and even had some nightmares where I dreamed I was being forced to give birth in a hospital, so I kind of understand your fear there.

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  8. You were negative with the first two and positive with the third? That would have driven me bonkers! Since you had a midwife did she try preventative things ahead of time with you like probiotic supplements and such? My MW told me that had I started with her from the beginning we would have worked on switching the GBS.

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  9. That was my question too! I kept trying to ask about it yet ever nurse just sort of looked at me, talked around it and said ask my doctor. When I would call the hospital my phone calls were not returned and my doctor just told me I couldn't deliver any other way. Hot mess.

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  10. Less than 2 week! How are you feeling? Such an exciting time!

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  11. I felt sort of silly making it a 'trilogy' but it just felt too ridiculously long of a post to publish all at once. :)

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  12. Thank you! My SIL took those for us when we went camping a couple months ago. Felt silly getting all spruced up in the bathroom of the campground... Felt like I had to keep explaining myself! Fortunately not all doctors/hospitals are like my experience. I actually know quite a few people who have had wonderful experiences at my hospital and even with the doctor I had. Everyone is just different and different things do and don't work for different people. I think that's what I learned- birth can't be approach the same way twice or the same way with every person, you have to figure out what is best for you and for some people that is a birth in the hospital.

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  13. Haha! Yea I have sorta had them for awhile... They were taken when we went camping at Lake Wenatchee.

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  14. I remember reading your post on why you did a home birth and thinking at the time that I would never do that... ;) Best choice ever!

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  15. Yep less than 2 weeks! Extremely excited and nervous at the same time! This is my first so I don't know what to expect lol! But I'm feeling good...just little Braxton Hicks here and there!

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  16. Loving the gorgeous photos! Your sis-in-law did an amazing job!


    I loved reading this journey you went on to get the best care possible for yourself! Can't wait to read more!

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  17. I can't wait to read the rest!!!

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  18. Thanks! She's super talented and a best friend to boot!

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