Tessa’s Waterbirth Story

“Mommy, I want to deep wif you.”  My Lion Cub’s little voice pulled me out of sleep.

“Ooookay,” I mumbled.  “I’m going to go potty and then I will cuddle you.”  I heaved my pregnant body out of bed.  As soon as I stood up, something felt different.  I knew I was in labor.  I went to the bathroom and then tried to lay down with the Lion Cub, but I was extremely uncomfortable since I had started having contractions.  I woke up Batman and told him he needed to get his son back to sleep because I was in labor and I needed to go time the contractions.  It was 2:30 AM on July 21st.  I found an online contraction timer  (what DID we do before the internet?!?) and found that they were about 45 seconds long and 4-5 minutes apart.  Even though they did not feel very intense, I had a feeling it was going to go quickly.

I called  Tammy*, who was in charge of the birth center while my midwife was out of town.  (Tammy’s normal job is the massage therapist and  occasional birth assistant.)  Yes, my midwife and her apprentice were at a conference.  She had arranged for backup midwives, of course, but I was disappointed she wouldn’t be there to catch my baby.  At least, in theory I was disappointed.  By this time, I was 40 weeks and 6 days along, and I was more excited about the prospect of not being pregnant anymore and meeting my baby than who would help that happen. Tammy had Colette*, the backup midwife, call me. I told her what was going on and she said to meet her at the birth center.  We each had about an hour’s drive, so we didn’t want to wait too long.

During the drive, I focused on using my Hypnobabies cues to stay relaxed.  As long as I didn’t tense up, the contractions were tolerable.  The birth house was lit up when we got there, and Colette and Tammy welcomed us in as if we were coming to stay at a B&B.  There was even a personalized welcome sign for us.  Colette was very calm and I felt she was treating me as one would treat a shy animal, always asking permission before listening to the baby’s heartbeat or even sitting in the room with my husband and I.  I’m sure she was very aware of the fact that I’d never met her before and wanted to be considerate of that.  I could tell she was charting my contractions and taking notes, but she was very unobtrusive.  After I was there for a little bit and the contractions picked up, she said that my labor seemed to be moving along nicely.

I stayed up and moving around.  I would lean over something whenever I had a contraction–usually the bed, but sometimes a couch, the bathroom sink, or whatever was handy as I wandered around the house.   (I also had a lot of contractions while sitting on the toilet because I had to pee about every ten minutes!)  As labor got more intense, Colette rubbed my lower back and applied pressure during the contractions.  After only a little bit of that, I decided I was ready to get into the tub.  I’m not sure what time it was, but daylight was creeping in.  I spent pretty much the whole time in the tub leaning over the side.  At first, Tammy poured water over my back during the contractions.  It is amazing how such a small thing could bring so much comfort!  Then I started to get hot and nauseous, and Tammy brought me cold washcloths and held the barf bucket while I puked my guts out.  Again, the little comfort measures and kindness from my birth attendants made all the difference in the world.

I believe it was shortly after the puking (probably during) that I started to beg the midwife to tell me it was almost over and to please make it stop, and I promised myself that this would absolutely be the last baby I would ever have–all classic signs that the baby is about to be born.  Before I knew it I was starting to push a little with the contractions.  I tried my hardest not to push on purpose and to just let my body do the work instinctively.  It seemed to take forever, but at a postpartum visit my midwife said I had started pushing at 7:09 and the baby was born at 7:24.  Things got a little interesting once the head was out.  The body did not slide out easily with another push as it did with my other two kids.  Colette told me to push hard–and still nothing happened.  I had been on my knees, and I turned my body sideways with one leg up on the side of the tub.

“Okay, BIG push now,” she said.  I pushed two more times with all my might as Colette helped pull the baby out.  She said she needed to unwrap the cord from the baby’s neck, and then she asked, “Would you like to bring your baby up out of the water?”

Would I?!  “Yes!” I said, as she passed the baby to me.  As I lifted my baby up out of the water, I exclaimed, “You are a girl!  I knew you were a girl!”  As I snuggled her to my chest I kept checking to make sure she was breathing, because she only made a little squeak and then no more noise!  She was such a happy girl, right from the start.  I settled on her name–Tessa Nicolette.  Tessa means “harvester,” and Nicolette is after my Aunt Nicki and means “victory of the people.”

After I delivered the placenta, Colette helped me cut the cord.  My husband has refused to have anything to do with cord cutting for any of our kids, and he likes to watch our babies be born from a safe distance.  Blood is just not his thing!  He got to hold Tessa while I got settled in bed, and then he gave her back to me.  She started nursing right away and spent most of the next hour nursing.  Colette and Tammy left us to rest and bond as a family, and Colette took the placenta to make a placenta print for me.  At some point (could have been before I cut the cord–I don’t remember) she also drew cord blood to send for Rh typing to see if I would need a Rhogam shot.  (I didn’t.  My blood wins again.)

Once Tessa had her newborn exam (8 lb 4 oz and 21″ long!) and vitamin K shot, we started getting ready to leave.  I took a quick shower (who knew a shower could be so exhasting?) and we were out the door around 11:30 AM with strict instructions to go home, rest, and do nothing but nurse the baby.  What a way to start a day, eh???

In my next post I will discuss how and why my experience was different from the average hospital birth experience.  If you have any questions about this please ask away in the comments!

*not her real name

Midwife FAQ #4: Does your insurance pay for it?

My insurance pays for my midwife’s services and birth center fees at the out-of-network rate.  We have a PPO.  Those with HMOs are not so lucky.  Because the birth center fees are so much less than a hospital’s fees, we end up paying approximately the same amount as we would to have the baby in a hospital.  We do have to pay the whole midwife fee up front, though, and then we get reimbursed from the insurance company.  Thankfully, we got a big tax refund!  We’ll be looking forward to that reimbursement check from insurance, that’s for sure!

When I had my Lion Cub, I fought with the insurance company through appeals trying to get it covered at an in-network rate.  This time, after my first request, they flat out said it was not medically necessary for me to use the birth center.  I guess I can’t really argue with that.  (Well, it’s not medically necessary that I give birth in the hospital either.)  I’ve decided to bow out instead of getting angry every time my appeals get denied.  They know that I went ahead with it last time, so why would they pay the in-network rate when they don’t have to?  They know that I’m probably not going to switch to a hospital since I didn’t last time.  Sigh.

Would you like to know WHY there are no out-of-hospital midwives in my network?  Or in anyone’s network, really?  The insurance companies want the midwives to have a supervising OB.  Most midwives would probably like to have a helpful supervising OB as well, but they can’t get one (whether or not there would actually be enough OBs that would be willing to do this, that’s another story).  Right now, the malpractice insurance companies have put midwifery in a precarious position in California in this regard.  They refuse to insure an OB who enters into a formal supervisory relationship with a licensed midwife or certified professional midwife (the types of midwives that most commonly provide out-of-hospital birth services).  Fortunately, my midwife does have OBs she can consult with when necessary — they just aren’t officially supervising her.

In summary, insurance companies are the root of all evil.

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