Homebirth derailed: Jennifer walked to the hospital

Today we have a guest post (I’m on vacation) from Kindercycle founder and first-time mama Jennifer Pesetsky.

Here is the birth we envisioned: We would labor at home. I would cook some kind of soup or stew, pet our cat and walk outside smelling the air, looking at the sky and touching the plants. Close to the actual time of birth, our three midwives would arrive and they would put cold cloths on my head, rub my back, and help me through the hardest contractions. Then, the baby would arrive in her own time and be greeted by my happy husband, our midwives, our meowing cat and me. She would be put onto my chest to snuggle or nurse, whatever she felt like. I would be filled with joy and happiness.

And, now, the reality.

Yes, we planned a homebirth despite objections from some family members and some friends. We loved our midwives and the wonderful pre-natal appointments with them where we talked about nutrition and listened for the baby’s heartbeat. They complimented my smooth skin and my firm abs. I looked forward to every appointment with them.

We had some hiccups along the pregnancy path. I was deemed “advanced maternal age,” and we had two miscarriages before this pregnancy. Because of my age, we got an early CVS test which the lab botched. Long story, but we got no results from that test and had to wait a month for an amnio and found out that all looked good. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing except for my swollen hands which made writing and crafting entirely impossible.

Back to the birth itself.

Our baby was due sometime in late May or early June of 2010. In late April, we were planning a babymoon and a weekend getaway to celebrate my 39th birthday (I said advanced maternal age, right?) The night of April 26th, I went to sleep and dreamt of hot springs. Umm, no. It turned out to not be hot springs, but my water breaking and breaking and breaking. After a bit of panic and confusion (“It’s too early,” “What’s going on,” “I didn’t expect there to be so much water!”), we called our midwives who gently told us that we couldn’t have a home birth because we were at 35 weeks which was too early for a homebirth. The baby may have under-developed lungs or other complications which would require immediate hospital attention.

Feeling a bit shocked, we took showers (this was my husband’s idea which was a fabulous one), and packed bags for the hospital which we hadn’t done nor planned to do. We walked to the hospital (a 2-block walk), holding hands, carrying our birth ball and looking at the stars in the sky.

After some laboring in the triage cubicle, we found out that the baby was breach and we would need a c-section. After hours of passing time in the triage room, our baby was delivered by c-section at 10:41am on April 27th, 2010. She was taken out of me and taken away to get medical care. I don’t quite remember all these details because of a sleepless night and some really powerful drugs. She was 4 pounds 6 ounces and spent 9 days in the NICU. Other than her weight, she was a very healthy little girl.

Because we are Jewish, on her 8th day of life, we had a baby naming ceremony in the outdoor courtyard of the NICU with our Rabbi and our NICU nurse. We named her Star Malia; her Hebrew name is Kochava Malka – queen of the stars. Her names also have family significance; she is named after my husband’s great-aunt who raised my husband’s mother, and after my great-aunt who married a Holocaust survivor and they never had children.

Now she is a happy 14 month old. She is developmentally right on target, and tracks the bottom of the curve for height and weight. For a variety of reasons, we are not attempting a victory baby.

This is the story of Star’s birth, which I am finally learning to be proud of.

Thanks so much to Jennifer for sharing her story. She is the mom behind KinderCycle – www.KinderCycle.org – helping families get rid of kids’ stuff they are done with and get kids’ stuff they want. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and 15 month old daughter.

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