Two months ago, I had a freebirth, and it was the best experience of my life.
Since, it hasn't been the easiest transition with breastfeeding and having a five year old that is used to undivided attention, but I could always look back at my birth and remember how empowered I felt, how amazing it felt, and just remembering the moment I pulled her out of the water could make me smile.
Since having my freebirth (after having a cesarean with my first), I haven't been shy about telling anyone and everyone about it. I was nervous the whole pregnancy about discussing our plans because of fear and worry, and honestly, I didn't want people to judge me or call me brave or discuss the risks I was taking. Ever since? I can't seem to shut up about it. Which is how birth should be, in my opinion. Women should want to share their experiences.
Anywho, I have had no trouble since she was born discussing her birth, why we chose to have a freebirth, who was there, what we did to prepare, and all that jazz. Most people would change the subject if they got uncomfortable with it, or they would say I'm "brave" (an entire issue all in itself). Some have made fun of my baby by giving her a nickname based on the color of the pool water when my husband sent out the announcement text (probably 15 minutes after she was born so I was still in the pool and yes, it was red, but yes, to me it was the perfect announcement). Others just talk behind my back.
I went to the CNM in my area for a diaphragm, and the nurse took my history, finding out our second daughter was born at home, but she thought it was really neat we informed ourselves and made the choice right for our family. Then comes the CNM.
She looks through my history, sees the homebirth information and asks which midwife in the area we had at the birth. I told her we didn't have a midwife, and so she decides to go on a rampage about how she had a dead homebirth VBAC baby come in last week and if we have more children we need to rethink the risks we are taking because they are very real, very dangerous, and it's likely one of us would die if we tried again.
Now, this was just after we finished talking about the seven babies we lost inbetween our daughters. I know how much it hurts to have a baby die. I've lived that over and over. I would never take that big of a risk just to have a freebirth. I knew my limits, I knew my baby's limits, and in the end, we rocked it. I would have transferred in a heartbeat if I even felt something was off.
After she told me this, I couldn't even speak. I know a lot of VBAC moms get played the "dead baby" card, but they are normally PREGNANT when it happens, not holding their 9 week old and just asking for birth control.
I left the office after so angry I was almost in tears.
I've had a lot of bad providers in the last five years. Some that wouldn't listen, others that just patted me on the head, but this? This was the worst.
It made me realize something though. Providers only go as far as we let them go. I needed to get the diaphragm, so I couldn't leave the office yet before she did the exam and ordered it for me. So she kept talking. Had I left or been able to leave? The situation would have been entirely different.
How many times as women are we forced to sit through a situation where someone talks down to us and we aren't able to leave because we either need something, want something, or are just too afraid of the consequences?
Providers won't learn if we keep sitting through it. Providers are still telling women their baby will die, and hoping they scare them enough they stay. Providers are hoping that we sit through it, and some of it seeps into our mind and stays there.
Pregnant women are prone to worry more than others. You're caring for two people at the same time, one of which is your growing baby. It's easy to scare a pregnant woman. I don't know anyone that would risk the life of their baby simply for an experience, but along the same line, providers shouldn't be downplaying that experience just so women don't walk out the door.
No, I didn't get a medal for my freebirth (though I think I totally should have ;) ), but that experience can never be taken away from me. Instead of treating women like patients that don't know what they're doing, providers should be treating us like we are in charge of our births, because we are.
It doesn't matter where you're birthing, if you have an OB, an MFM, a Midwife, or no one at all, you should be getting the respect you deserve.
And if you're not? Find another provider. Interview, ask doulas in your area for recommendations, ask midwives or doctors what other providers they recommend. The interview process is crucial to finding your fit. You do not want to be sitting at an appointment wanting to punch your provider, but knowing you can't run away.
That is not how this system is supposed to work.
And if in the end you have no other choice, or feel like you have no choice, file a complaint. I felt trapped listening to the CNM blather on about how my baby could have died, but that doesn't stop me from filing and hopefully helping her realize it is not okay to scare women. We shouldn't be letting this cycle continue. In the end, we might be the difference between a provider continuing the way they are or maybe stopping for one second before they say something.
We can't be silent any longer. That starts for me today.