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Eugenia Garcia's Birth Story

Baby's Name: Alexander

Birth Date: 6/8/99

My first child was born in a hospital. My second child, Alexander, was born at home with the assistance of a certified nurse midwife.

On my first pregnancy, everything seemed to go well. I was following the traditional hospital route because that was all I knew. The doctors only gave me as much information as I requested about my pregnancy, but I didn't know what questions to ask. Much of what was done at the hospital seemed to be for the convenience of the hospital and its attendants with little regard to my physical comfort. Throughout the course of my pregnancy I did some limited research on home births and was skeptical.

Even though the birth of my son was successful in the hospital, and I experienced natural childbirth with minimal "pain" (which I prefer to describe as "discomfort" because the sensations during this experience were not the same as true "pain", thanks to the Bradley Method of Childbirth classes we had taken to prepare us for this experience), I was not comfortable about my forced loss of control due to Hospital CYA regulations (see birth story below). I felt that I needed to do more research on all of my options before my next pregnancy.

By the time we wanted to get pregnant again, we had done our homework. We were excited that there were some hospitals that were more BIRTH friendly. However, our research convinced us that a home birth was the right thing for this pregnancy, provided we could find the right midwife to assist.

After interviewing various midwives we selected Pat Jones to assist us because we felt really safe with her and her credentials. She also required that we attend regular checkups and participate in her preparatory classes, which basically prepared us for just about every eventuality you could imagine: before, during, and after the birth. I learned more about my own body and about birth and newborns than I thought was possible! Especially since we had already taken birth classes previously and had felt that we were knowledgable. And the birth experience in our own home was a great experience for the whole family! Furthermore, thanks to the homework we completed for the class, we even had a thorough plan for the 6 weeks after the birth.

In the year 2000, a year after my very pleasant home birth, I woke up one morning grateful that I had had options to fulfill my expectations and make informed decisions. I also knew that someone under a good midwife's supervision, like Pat's, would have had several backup plans which would lead to the calm feeling of the artwork even though the subject is in labor with her significant other on a sailboat with no wind to blow it. I just had to paint the image from my dream - at 4:30 in the morning!

In 2003, when I heard about the B.I.R.T.H. organization that was developed to provide women with information to make informed choices, I knew that I had to help and wanted to share this picture, "Expectations," with them. See www.houbirth.org for more information.

As for details of both birth experiences:

With our first child, Nicolas, I had started contractions on June 28, 1995 at 5:00am in the morning. Our labor assistant came over at 7:00am and told us at 10:00am that it was time for the hospital. By the time we got to the hospital at 10:45am (it was a 45 minute trip to get to the hospital and each bump was very uncomfortable) I wanted to push but was told to hold back. Didn't even have time for the required preparation because they wanted to quickly check dilation and keep me on the table for the delivery.

Ugh! They wouldn't even let me have ice chips which I was desperate for. (Try playing a sport for a couple of hours and see how far you get without breaking for a drink). And it did seem like a sporting event with all kinds of medical students and hospital staff coming in to "see the show". One of the nurses kept contradicting everything I said because her labor experience "was the way all labor experiences must feel".

I felt like walking around to have gravity help the baby move down, in between contractions - but they wouldn't let me off the delivery table because "the doctor had to see what was happening". The delivery doctor, who was just the doctor on call (and I'd only seen him once during all the combined regular monthly and weekly visits with my obstetrician) almost missed the birth. He showed up 5 minutes before Nicolas was "out". It was a natural birth and the only true pain I felt during the delivery was of holding back from hitting the nurse who told me I should be in pain because she had had pain.

By 1:30pm Nicolas landed in Gary's hands. They let him cut the chord before Nicolas was whisked away to get checked and cleaned up for a few minutes before being placed in my arms. I could hear him cry and I wasn't able to touch him until the hospital staff was done with him and it tore my heart. He did get to room in with me at the hospital, which was a good thing -- Except when they took him for testing and Gary checked in on him at the nursery. He had found that he was in a different child's space. He demanded that the staff check the wrist bands and sure enough Nicolas was in the wrong space.

Now for our birth experience with Alexander, almost 4 years later, in 1999. Because we had experienced a fast labor with our first child, ( 8 1/2 hours from start to finish is considered fast for labor with a first child) we anticipated a fast labor with our second. That said, we actually prepared for a long labor, since you never know for sure what kind of labor you will have. On June 5, I started having mild contractions every five minutes, then 2 minutes. But I wasn't worried because they would stop whenever I sat down and put my feet up, and I had learned from my first pregnancy and from Pat's teachings on how to tell the difference in sensations. We joked as the family went out to eat wondering if the contractions changed to real ones whether our child would get free meals for the rest of his life.

That night as long as my feet were up, I had no contractions. The next day, June 6, there were no contractions until 5:00pm that I started to get some mild contractions as I was reading to Nicolas. I thought it appropriate to call Pat to give her the heads up and to take her time. I figured I still had time for a shower and dinner before she arrived because I could still talk through the contraction. Wrong! Not even 15 minutes later the strong contractions started where I could no longer read to Nicolas. I called Pat back and told her to hurry.

She had somehow known by the way my voice had sounded on the first call and she was already preparing to be on her way. We live 40 minutes away without traffic, but there was a hold-up on the road. My water broke at 6:00pm over the toilet. (It felt good to be in that position for some reason).

We were ready with all our supplies that were part of our preparation. Pat arrived at 6:15pm with the medical equipment she needed for on site "back-up". (We had a back up doctor that she had recommended and whom we had met, who was alerted in case we needed to go to a hospital, and, thank God, never had to call). My Mother in Law was in the next room with Nicolas while Pat checked out my progress. I remember sucking on some ice, which was very refreshing. We tried several positions trying to figure out the most comfortable and ended up in a comfortable squat position with her famous birth bench holding up my arms next to the bed. (I didn't want to give birth over the toilet).

At one point Pat had a little difficulty getting the baby's heartbeat and thought she detected a heart deceleration. So she was very stern with me and told me I needed to PUSH to get this baby out. Meeting with her for so many months she knew just what to say and I knew what she meant and why.

At 7:00pm my mother arrived at the same time that Alexander landed gently in my husband's hands, safe and healthy. Gary gently placed Alexander on my belly and breast. Alexander latched on immediately. Gary got to cut the chord this time, too.

We didn't even have a chance to get pictures or call Nicolas over to share the birth. 2 hours from start to finish was a little quick. Everyone was surprised to meet Alexander so soon.

Gary got to hold Alexander for most of the time while Pat did the routine newborn check. Then Pat ran an herbal bath which was wonderful. After meeting the family, Alexander joined me. There was no crying during any of this and he was very alert. It was nice being in familiar surroundings. By the time Pat left, my family was surprised that you couldn't even tell a birth had taken place in the home. She came back the next day to check on us and called us the day after. Her personal attention made all the difference in the world.

Thank you, Pat, for such a wonderful experience!

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