Here is a guest post by Chico mother Michelle Burdette
In Praise of Midwives: A joyful HBAC experience
Avery Marie Burdette was born on November 16th in the comfort of her own home. Her father lovingly supported me through labor and was able to see his daughter’s first breath. Dena Moes and her assistant Amber guided me along the journey and delivered Avery on their knees on my bedroom floor. I feel so blessed to have had this experience and were it not for Dena and the option of home birth, I would have had to undergo a repeat cesarean section.
I distinctly remember sitting in the doctor’s office after viewing my first ultrasound and discussing my birthing options. The doctor stated that I could not have a VBAC in the hospital due to regulations. He then stated that there was one OB/GYN in town that would sometimes “let” his patients labor until it was too late for a C-section, but he would generally end up doing a C-section in most cases.
I did not like any of these options! I felt trapped, like I had no choice but to go ahead with a scheduled C-section. I saw this doctor a few more times and was very depressed about the actual birth my child was going to have. You see, I did not get to experience my first daughter’s birth at all. I had an emergency C-section for footling breech presentation. I did not get to see her until an hour after her birth. Her father was able to hold her soon after she was born, but it pains me to know that no one familiar to her was there when she was born. I wanted this birth to be different, and now I was being told that due to a policy, I could not have the birth I wanted.
During a family get-together, I was discussing this situation with my cousin’s wife. She told me that they were planning on having a home birth and gave me reading material. I told her that I did not think home birthing was for me, but thanked her for the information. One of the articles she gave me was written by Dena Moes, CNM. The article was all about VBAC’s at home and I was inspired by the strength of her experience and her conviction. I was overjoyed to learn that she was a midwife in Chico and that there was another way for me to give birth.
I read everything I could get my hands on and discovered so much information that I wish I had known before giving birth to my first child. Who knew that Pitocin could be so problematic? I had no idea that I could have any say in my birth outside a “birth plan”. My husband and I met with Dena and were given the great news that I would be a good candidate for a home birth after C-section (HBAC). We were very nervous because this was outside the norm of what all of our friends and relatives had chosen. My family was nervous about birthing at home and worried that something catastrophic might occur. My husband and I looked at all of the statistics and were far more worried about birthing in a hospital setting. When we told people that we had decided to have our baby at home, people said things like: “you are so brave”, and “Aren’t you worried?”. Only a few people voiced their support.
We met with Dena throughout our pregnancy and with each meeting felt so blessed to be getting a home experience. We would meet in Dena’s office and there was a flannel sheet on a comfy table with a real pillow! There were no metal stirrups for your feet, no hospital gowns and no one pushed me to get testing done due to my advanced age of 37. I felt comfortable and like pregnancy and birth were natural, not fraught with peril. It was a gentle and holistic experience. We also attended a child birth class taught by Serra Wells that supported home birth as a viable choice. It was so helpful to meet others who had chosen home birth.
The day before my daughter was born I went to my regularly scheduled appointment with Dena and she informed me that the contractions I was feeling were the real deal and that we would be having our baby soon. There was no sense of emergency, just warmth and excitement radiating from Dena and Amber. This was so reassuring that I was able to enter labor with joy and confidence. Dena and Amber were very supportive throughout labor and the birth of our daughter. They helped guide me through the final stages of labor and calmly helped our baby into the world. Avery took a little bit to breathe, but Dena cleared her lungs and gave her a little puff and she cried her first little cry. With a home birth, the umbilical cord remains attached to the baby and the placenta until all of the blood has returned to the baby. This allowed Avery to remain at my feet receiving oxygenated blood rather than whisked off to a table in a delivery room. I was able to hold my baby right away and experience all of her first moments. This was so incredible for me as I did not get to be with my first daughter until she was an hour old.
Dena and Amber remained with us for several hours after Avery was born, unobtrusively checking us to make sure we were both doing fine. A defining moment occurred when Dena was helping me after I took a shower. I was still a bit unsteady and she actually dried my legs off for me. I can’t imagine a hospital setting where a doctor would deliver your baby, fix you breakfast and then dry your legs after a shower! I was so pleased that Dena and Amber would be back to visit us several more times in the week following Avery’s birth. I did not feel alone or abandoned as I had after the birth of my first child. I owe a great deal of thanks to Dena for allowing me to trust my body and the process of birth despite a prior C-Section. Our home birth was a beautiful and powerful experience. My husband and I are very grateful to Dena for providing women the opportunity to birth at home and to have a natural birth after a C-Section.
Thanks Dena and Amber! Michelle Burdette and Family