Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My true feelings regarding my home birth experience...

It has taken me over a year to fully understand my home birth experience. Zinn is now 16 months - walking and running - babbling - typical toddler! I've had a lot of time to just sit down and think about my birth. The biggest part was finally getting my medical records from my pregnancy, labor, and birth with him. That was the missing link in my healing process. It took me months to get them - complete with melt downs, tears, emails, house visits, phone calls - but I got them.

On December 2nd, 2014 - my photographs from my home birth were released for the world to see. Along with those photos? My birth photographers perspective on my birth. Yes, yes, yes! I gave permission for her to release them. I didn't know what she was going to write. I thought long and hard before letting her release them - I knew it would create a stir. I wanted her to have the spot light though because she's very talented and wish the best for her. My original plan was to not engage in ANY of the comments. But that didn't last long before I was sucked into them. And before I knew it, I found other amazing moms who felt like I did.

Link to the Pop Sugar Article:

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Photographs-Home-Water-Birth-36203103#photo-36203103

I am NOT happy with how my home birth went. It was awful. Horrifying. Scary. Traumatic. Worst day of my life is a huge understatement.

My baby almost died. I almost died.

I did not walk away from my birth feeling like a 'birth warrior'. Multiple people at my birth kept calling me that. I did not walk away feeling empowered or womanly. No one at my birth was a hero. I was not brave.

I was misled, lied too, and manipulated. Informed consent? Hah. I wish.

I left my birth feeling broken, beaten down, cheated. I felt like no one there really cared about the most important thing: my child's safety and well-being.

I went into my home birth wanting that picture perfect birth - just like all the other home birth photos showed. I wanted to be that pretty momma - laughing during labor - sitting in the pool looking glamorous and happy. I really thought I was doing the best thing for my baby. I was told that it was safe. That I was low-risk. Nothing bad could happen because we TRUST birth. And if something was to come up, we would know about it hours before - plenty of time to get to the hospital! I did everything right!

1. Have a home birth! Check!

2. Go to the chiropractor! Check!

3. Hire a doula! Check!

4. Eat healthy. Take herbal supplements. Check!

5. Do Spinning Babies every day. Check!

6. TRUST BIRTH! Check!

I had concerns the last month that were brushed off. I was told and taught to 'trust birth', 'trust your body', and 'your body can't grow a baby too big!'.

My labor was rough. I cried through most of it. Might have screamed and yelled some. I can't remember. I remember the pain of the contractions and how I just wanted it to be over with.

My baby was born in the brow presentation and he also had shoulder dystocia. It was not a pretty birth. It was not glamorous. My bathroom floor was flooded with meconium stained water and baby poop. My baby was born lifeless and limp. It took them almost 9 minutes to get him out of me. During all of this - I had NO idea what was going on. I had no idea he was stuck and that this was an emergency. No one was monitoring my vitals or his. No one was trained for this type of emergency. FUNDAL PRESSURE was used on me. 911 was not called until he was a minute old. The first thing that was said, "There is no heart beat, I don't hear a heart beat." Then the next thing was, "Listen HARDER!"

He was taken from my bathroom into the ambulance when he was 6 minutes old. Weak pulse, still limp and lifeless, still not breathing. I didn't know how he was until several hours later.

Yes, my son is okay today. He's a fireball. A burst of crazy energy. Drives us insane but always has us laughing. No, I will not continue to think everything went okay and no, I will not just 'get over it'.

But just because my son is okay, does NOT mean that my home birth was okay. Or that anyone at my birth was a hero. No one saved my baby. No one saved his life. They only RISKED his life.

My biggest regret in life? Being at home for birth. There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank my lucky stars for him being here.

You may see those laughing mamas in labor at home - all those smiles at their home birth - but when things go wrong, it goes downhill REALLY quickly. You might be 'low risk' one second and 'high risk' the next second. And that oxygen tank? It won't get you very far. You are not just 'down the hall' from an operating room. You don't have a neonatologist in the next room. You honestly don't have anyone qualified for an emergency next to you.

I have nightmares about my birth. I think about it constantly. It consumes me. It has changed who I am as a person. I was told that my 'weak pelvic floor' caused everything to go south during my labor. Now I'm left with the added guilt of my own body causing his horrific birth. I saw the ugly side of birth. I was part of an ugly statistic that someone has to be. We shouldn't trust birth, we should respect it.

"Brow presentation is the least common of all fetal presentations and the incidence varies from 1 in 500 deliveries to 1 in 1400 deliveries."

"The incidence of shoulder dystocia is generally reported to be between 0.5 % and 1.5% with scattered reports listing values both higher and lower."

I am constantly having to remind myself that my body did NOT fail me. My body is okay. Birth is just about luck - making sure all the stars align perfectly.

I wanted a fairy tale - picture perfect birth. I invested thousands of dollars into it - along with hundreds and hundreds of dollars into a photographer - and I walked away feeling like a failure. When trying to reach out to other moms, I get told to stop fear mongering or using scare tactics. I get banned or shunned in a community that I used to believe in and fight for. I won't stop talking or warning others though. I don't want another person to make the same mistake I did.

Birth Stats: 9 lbs 14.5 oz and 22.5 inches long

I almost had that fairy tale birth ....

But I didn't ...

Here's the picture I was looking at, while at home, separated from my baby. This photo is referenced in the Pop Sugar blog above. I've had numerous people tell me that he looks like a stillborn baby here.

Instead we landed ourselves in the NICU... surrounded by amazing doctors and nurses and staff. These were the people that picked up the pieces of my birth. They cared about his well-being and health. They were the ones by his side 24 hours a day. They were the ones comforting ME and letting me CRY on their shoulders. They are the true heroes here.

I do not want to be the poster girl for home birth. Please don't make the same mistake I did.

I'm so glad he's here.

All professional labor and birth photographs are taken by In Bloom Photography. You can view her work here: http://www.inbloomimages.com/

Updated Picture of my son is taken by Kensie Lee Photography. You can view her work here: http://www.kensieleephotography.com/

EDITED TO ADD:
Wow. I am a little bit stunned and shocked that my story of my homebirth has taken off like this.

Please remember that I am a mom to five children and do not have a lot of 'free time' to comment back. I have been reading and hope to catch up eventually. My inbox is being flooded with messages from other mothers who have had traumatic homebirths and hospital births. I have said this over and over: Traumatic births can happen in any setting. It is reality. We can not just ignore or delete the traumatic home birth stories.

I feel like I should clarify something. Yes, I regret my homebirth. Yes, I do not want anyone to make the same mistake I did. But I am not anti-home birth, I am for SAFER homebirth.

And due to the overwhelming amount of messages I am getting, I have set up a Facebook page for support and awareness.

https://www.facebook.com/homebirthlossandtraumasupport

This page is dedicated to supporting those who have experienced a loss or traumatic homebirth. I am a mom of five, and I recently experienced a horrible shoulder dystocia during my son's homebirth that nearly killed us both. After my story went viral, there was an outpouring of support and tragic stories from moms just like me who were too afraid to speak out. If you or someone you care about has had a similar experience, or if you are as concerned about the risks of homebirth as we are, please join this page and help us raise awareness of what can really happen at homebirth.

Please feel free to 'like' the page and pass it along.

238 comments:

  1. I am home birth midwife who has mostly stopped practicing. I still do a handful of births a year, but am quick to transfer the minute things seem to be "off".
    Can I ask at what point in labor you began to realize that this was not going to be the birth that you wanted it to be.
    I'm not asking because I wish to criticize but because I think there is a huge difference between the normal pain of childbirth and when that pain becomes suffering. I am only wondering if you can pinpoint that time for you.

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    1. If you only do a handful of births that makes you even more dangerous. It means that you have very little opportunity to practice your skills, very little chance of seeing a complication and managing it appropriately.

      I think that when her baby was STUCK for 8 minutes and her MIDWIFE couldn't get it out was probably a clue that something was not going well.

      The normal pain of childbirth *IS* suffering to MANY MANY women. You are not truly "with woman" if you are trying to redefine some pain as "good" and some as "suffering" and putting that burden on the mother.

      You are part of the problem.

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    2. Linda,

      I'm a little confused by your question. I'm not sure if I'm reading it the wrong way.

      As we all know, labor is painful. I have a history of long labors - some of which have been painful. No pain, no gain - right?

      Is it my duty now - as a mother in labor - to recognize when things go wrong? Isn't that why I paid someone thousands of dollars? I was unaware of anything going on because I was in labor. I didn't know what was normal or abnormal.

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    3. I agree with other comments Linda. How can you admit to doing a few deliveries a year and even remotely be proficient. You are dangerous and your mentality is dangerous as well. You are scary

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    4. Linda, pregnant women and their babies are not toys for you to play with! Find a safer hobby before someone is badly hurt.

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    5. "I think there is a huge difference between the normal pain of childbirth and when that pain becomes suffering."

      It's suffering whenever the mother says she no longer wishes to experience it. That means no questioning of her strength by the midwife, no exceptions. No "can't you hold out a little longer", no "it isn't that bad yet", no "you don't really want that epidural/pain medicine do you?", no fear manipulation. Anything less makes you a completely irresponsible caregiver. And that's just the start.

      "Can I ask at what point in labor you began to realize that this was not going to be the birth that you wanted it to be."

      How did the "professionals" in charge not realize earlier there was a problem? It isn't up to the mother to recognize this.

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    6. I think we're being a little unfair to Linda. I totally agree that it is not any woman's duty or job to decide when she and her baby are in trouble, especially while in the middle of the greatest physical and emotional feat of her life. BUT as an outsider, I see Linda's question as more of a curiosity question...as a, "in HINDSIGHT, can you tell when things started to feel like they were going wrong?" not as a, "why didn't you know when you were in trouble and do something about it?!?!" Does that make sense? I'm certainly not defending anyone who played a role in the homebirth-gone-wrong...I only want to defend someone who we don't know anything about and, I feel, is being unnecessarily attacked.

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    7. Hi Linda, despite what the other commenters are saying, it does sound to me like you are a proficient midwife because you admit that you are quick to transfer. I was a homebirth transfer this past fall and there was a point in my labor that I realized that things were not going well and I wanted to be in a hospital. The pain did change to suffering and the labor pattern wasn't progressing as it should: contractions were getting longer and harder but the intervals between were getting further apart and I was not in "laborland"... I was too aware of everything else going on and I knew that I should have been immersed in my labor... shortly after that I made the difficult decision to transfer... about an hour after I got to the hospital I was told my son's heart rate was dropping too much after each contraction and they recommended a c-section... I asked my midwife what she thought and she said she agreed with the recommendation. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I experienced what you are talking about, but I wouldn't expect every woman to be as aware of the subtle difference that I experienced. I spent about an hour a day mediating the second half of my pregnancy, practiced mindfulness and awareness of my bodily sensations. I did this as a drug-free way to combat anxiety and it ended up (possibly) saving my son's life because he, too, ended up in the NICU.

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    8. shoulder dystocia happens fast and it happens unexpectedly, you dont normally realise a baby is stuck by the shoulders til a baby is well stuck by the shoulders,

      the difference being at home you dont have the utensils required to get that baby out as easily as you would in a hospital, in a hospital they have the tools to break the babies bones if needed to get it out, they have anesthetic and surgery rooms to knock mum out and get baby out (in best case both alive)

      childbirth in general is risky, there are so many factors at play that you have no say over,
      the difference in todays childbirth and yester years is the mortality rate (something that runs strong in my family, so many infants and mothers have passed during labour or shortly after in my family blood lines)

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  2. It's speaking up on your own behalf and for your precious son that make you brave. I'm a homebirth statistic, too. But unfortunately, I hold one of the death statistics. My daughter suffered hypoxia at birth and never recovered after transport. I know the manipulation you speak of very well. That scared community, that turns quickly to a murderous mob. My greatest support came from doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and eventually bereavement specialists, not the midwife with whom I had a 7 year, 4 birth relationship. You are not alone, and you need not keep this pain inside.

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    1. I am very, very sorry for your loss.

      I hate how we are shunned and out-casted when we are the most vulnerable. You are right - my greatest support came from the NICU staff. We had an amazing NICU doctor that let me cry on her shoulder multiple times - they genuinely cared about us. I will never forget them.

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    2. Lisa W: I'm so sorry you lost your daughter!! Your description of "scared community that quickly turns to a murderous mob" could not have been more accurate. That has been the saddest part of being a homebirth statistic for me: how the community I counted on, believed in, and was proudly a part of can turn its back on a Mom, withhold basic human sympathy, shelter negligent midwives and blame laboring mothers for trusting their providers.

      Our greatest support also came from the NICU doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals. Because my daughter is still disabled (because of her rough birth!), we spend a LOT of time in the medical world. While I have experienced some very disappointing or even terrible providers, most of them have been amazing, and the NICU people were PHENOMENAL, the absolute best!

      I was part of that scared community - I chose a homebirth because I was terrified of western medicine and hospitals/doctors. The irony is that they have mostly been wonderful, I spend a large portion of my life in that world now, and the granola midwife + her team are the ones who failed us and almost killed my child & I!! They hurt us in the very ways that I was so scared of... thanks for sharing your feedback Lisa W, and again I'm very sorry for your loss.

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    3. Lisa W I am so incredibly sorry, I can't even imagine what you must have gone through and continue to struggle with everyday. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
      I'm a mom of 3 (1 child came free with a husband so I've only had two deliveries) as well as a medical professional. I've been in health care for 10 years and there is absolutely no way a laboring mom can tell you if her pain is a sign of trouble. That pain is so intense even during an ideal delivery. In my first delivery my daughter was stuck in the birthing canal and the MD had to use forceps ... Ouch!! My second daughter was "sunny side up" double ouch!! Both times I had no idea there was a problem until after delivery. I am greatfull everyday for the delivery team that gave me my little angels but I had nothing to do with their successful entries into this world. It's not up to us either way, so a mother should NEVER feel responsible.
      As far as feeling like failure.. Don't!!! You created a life inside of your body. You litteraly gave up your body for 10 months ( yes 10... 40 weeks=10 months!!) You nourished a zygote into a human... That's amazing, not failure.
      After my first daughter was born I breast fed her immediately, she latched right on and everything went great. I looked up at the nurse for 2 seconds then hear her say "oh my God she's blue" she slammed the emergency button and grabbed the baby. Within seconds an entire team rushed into the room and took over. My breast had blocked my daughters tiny nostril and she lost oxygen briefly. She was fine, thank God, but I will never forget how happy I was that we were in the hospital. I'm not knocking anyone for any choices they have made because how you want to deliver your child is a deeply personal decision. I just think home births need to be better regulated, there is no reason not to monitor the baby's and mothers vital signs, they are your first indication when something my be off. There should also be clear protocols on when emergency services need to be called. Having said that, this is in no way shape or form the mothers responsibility. Thank you Ladies for sharing your story's.

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  3. I admire your bravery in telling your story. Your son is beautiful.

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    1. I agree! Your bravery comes from your openness to tell your story and fight the backlash of an entire community trying to silence you. For shedding light on a subject that previously lurked in the shadows unbeknownst to mothers who only wanted the same thing as you. Something beautiful and natural something that will resonate within you for the rest of your life. It will now but not in the way you'd hoped. But now other moms get to see that too and for that I thank you! I'm so glad that you and that handsome little Blondie of yours made it out alright. The world wouldn't be as amazing as it is without him in it. Hugs and support.

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  5. Linda, with all due respect, how could she possibly have known? Everyone has different pain tolerance. And, given the way her concerns in her last month of labour were brushed aside, even if she had said she felt something was wrong, I doubt her midwife would have listened. When I was in labour I was too caught up in how much it hurt to think straight. My son was posterior which explained the terrible back pain, but he turned anterior before pushing so it was fine. Some women don't feel posterior birth in their back anyway. Her midwife should have transferred when the brow presentation was apparent. Or before then. I know you weren't meaning to be critical, but how can thinking back to see if she could pinpoint when it wasn't ok going to help now - it won't change that she has been traumatised, lied to, that her baby nearly died. It won't take away her nightmares or take away the memories she and her partner have of being terrified for their baby. I know you didn't mean it that way, but I think your comment was perhaps a little unhelpful.

    Ashley, I'm glad zinn is safe. Stay strong - you deserve some justice in this. You and zinn both.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and support, Amy!

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  6. Linda, with all due respect, how could she possibly have known? Everyone has different pain tolerance. And, given the way her concerns in her last month of labour were brushed aside, even if she had said she felt something was wrong, I doubt her midwife would have listened. When I was in labour I was too caught up in how much it hurt to think straight. My son was posterior which explained the terrible back pain, but he turned anterior before pushing so it was fine. Some women don't feel posterior birth in their back anyway. Her midwife should have transferred when the brow presentation was apparent. Or before then. I know you weren't meaning to be critical, but how can thinking back to see if she could pinpoint when it wasn't ok going to help now - it won't change that she has been traumatised, lied to, that her baby nearly died. It won't take away her nightmares or take away the memories she and her partner have of being terrified for their baby. I know you didn't mean it that way, but I think your comment was perhaps a little unhelpful.

    Ashley, I'm glad zinn is safe. Stay strong - you deserve some justice in this. You and zinn both.

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  7. Linda, I have only my own labors from which to draw, but in my experience, pain was suffering. The NCB trope that labor is not really painful is kind of the Holy Grail among natural birth advocates, that is to say, a myth. The laboring mother should not be expected to gauge whether her pain is merely pain or if it becomes suffering. She hires a professional for a reason. I find your question insensitive.

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    1. You are right. Labor is painful. We all gauge pain differently.

      I paid a woman thousands of dollars to be my provider and know the signs of 'something going wrong'.

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  9. What a precious boy! I'm so glad he's ok. I hope that over time you are able to heal and forgive yourself. He's perfect!

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    1. Thank you for reading my story! I appreciate your comment.

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  10. Thank you for sharing your story. Please know that your story makes a difference.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

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  11. I am a physician and have been through childbirth with many, many women and can say there is no way Ashley could or should have known whether or not things were going well. When you are the trained professional, it is your responsibility to recognize when situations go outside of your scope of practice and require a higher level of care. Life is risky even inside a hospital under the care of the world's best doctors. Why increase your risks even more with a home birth? It's an unnecessary risk, but as physicians we can only do our best to explain the risks and benefits of each treatment option to our patients and ultimately they will make their own decision for what they feel is best for them. And we have to respect that decision regardless! Congrats on a healthy, adorable baby boy and so happy everything worked out in the end! Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate your comment. 😊

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  12. Those photos make that baby look REALLY big. How much did he weigh, and how long was he?

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    1. Why do you ask? Why would that matter?

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    2. He was 9 lbs 14.5 oz and 22.5 inches long.

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    3. Oh my! My boy was about that big!

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    4. It matters because one of the risk factors for shoulder dystocia is a large baby (over about 4kg) which Zinn was. The other risk factor that sounds like it may have existed in Ashley's case is prolonged second stage of labour. Both these things are also risk factors for post partum haemorrhage.

      Recognising a big baby pre delivery isn't always straightforward, but any one of a prolonged second stage (if it occurred), a brow presented or the presence of meconium stained liquor (if it occurred prior to delivery of the head) should have prompted rapid transfer to hospital.

      Ashley - I'm saddened to hear just how silenced and marginalised you felt, but very please you have been able to share your story to help disbuse people of the notion that home birth is always exactly what they wanted it to be.

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    5. Sevoflurane,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment.

      While it has been really hard to take a 'lashing' on releasing my story, it has been incredibly helpful for some people. Home birth isn't always safe and it's not always picture perfect.

      Best wishes.

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  13. Thank you for bravely writing your story. Congratulations on your beautiful son. Im a physician from Indonesia, and this home birth trend is fast gaining popularity here, when people chose to be ignorant on purpose. Being pregnant and giving birth should be one of the most beautiful moments of a woman's life, not a tragedy. On the other hand, healthcare providers should ponder and reflect, what is it that lacking in our service, why it is driving people away and taking matters on their own unequipped hand.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I really appreciate it.

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  14. Nothing beat the safety of our loved ones.. I am glad that your son is a happy healthy baby now. Better be safe than sorry.

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    1. You are right!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment.

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  15. Can I ask what kind of midwives you had?

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    1. I hired a CPM/LM which is registered and certified through our state. Also had an "ex nurse" present (as her assistant - they work together) as well as a student apprentice.

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  16. Ashley,

    I am so sorry you had to go through that. Reading your story brings tears to my eyes and also memories. I too had a baby with shoulder dystocia the only difference was I was in the hospital, but it was just as scary and am so thankful I had a great team of doctors and nurses. So glad your little guy is doing great. God Bless you and your family!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

      I appreciate your comment.

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  17. Your story was so eloquently told. As an inpatient OB nurse, I've seen the aftermath of too many home births gone wrong. God bless those doctors and nurses who were so kind to you and did not judge. That will go a long way helping you heal. Peace to your heart.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Please feel free to share.

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  18. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so glad your son is OK.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment.

      I appreciate it.

      Best wishes!

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  19. After having a csection with my first pregnancy, I was willing to do anything to finally experience a vaginal birth. The general opinion amongst the people I turned to about having a VBAC was that it wouldn't happen at a hospital. I've been torn between an ob or a midwife at a center or at home. I feel the choice was between safety first or trusting my body to do what it should do naturally; however, I feel it would almost be my selfish desire for a guaranteed vaginal birth that could put myself and/or my baby in possible jeopardy. Thank you for posting this. I have only seen the beautiful side of a home birth (a friend of mine just had one and a gorgeous healthy baby girl came as a result), but seeing what could go wrong for someone who started low risk and in perfect health has now made up my mind that the reward doesn't out weigh the risk. This honestly was perfect timing for me.

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    1. Please do not try to vbac at home!! That shouldn't even be allowed your uterus could rupture! ! Im sure you know this already and very glad you changes your mind

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    2. It is a myth that you won't be allowed a VBAC at a hospital. One of my friends recently had one, and she's not one that would be considered fervent in the natural child birth movement, so it's safe to say she both didn't and didn't have to push too hard for this opportunity.

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    3. It's interesting that you feel it appropriate to chide this mother for sharing her story as though she somehow owes it to you and those who may feel the way you do to somehow sugar coat her experience to your preference lest she make another mother more aware and willing to fully consider all possible outcomes without rose-colored glasses. At the same time, you go into detail on your own story w/o pausing to consider whether you are holding yourself to your own silly standards.

      You have every right to feel however you feel about your own experience. However, it takes a certain level of superiority complex to comment on someone else's story that b/c you don't like how she feels about her own experience, she should somehow tell it in such a manner not to offend others or "create unwarranted challenges" as you're wording it.

      Let me respond in kind to your story since you must feel this is appropriate. You "successfully and happily delivered at home", yet you hemorrhaged and "unfortunately ... did have to go to the hospital after birth, and was treated accordingly." I can only assume that by "treated accordingly" you mean your life was saved.

      Perhaps the differences between you are not so much that you acknowledged the challenges & inherent risk of choosing home birth, but rather that you apparently are still stuck on the idea that how you give birth is of more importance and worth more risk than whether your child or yourself survive.

      "I feel sorry for you" that you still appear so unaware about the clear danger you were in that you would speak ill of those that likely saved your life ("Unfortunately ...I did have to go to hospital...") and want to somehow convince someone else who went through a dangerous experience herself that she just isn't "crafting her story" appropriately enough for your liking. At the same time, I am very happy that you and your child remain alive and I assume happy/healthy, and I hope you find some solace through your attempts to convince others that your opinions on their experiences are more important than their own.

      Talk about unwarranted challenges.

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    4. You can absolutely have a VBAC in a hospital!

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    5. My step-daughter is 41.5 weeks pregnant living in Texas trying to have a V-Back with a mid-wife at home. She found out yesterday that the baby is breach. The mid-wife is still going to try to deliver the baby. Our whole family is watching in horror and shock as she puts her life and the baby's in danger. She will not listen. She trusts the mid-wife's assessment. We are educated professional people. She is acting like she is from a third world country. She has been brainwashed and we are very scared.

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    6. You might enjoy this Facebook group: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=289408731231663

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    7. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and comment.

      VBAC is possible in a hospital - actually! In my town, there was a VBAC after 2 c-sections recently!

      Best wishes in your upcoming birth!

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    8. I had a hospital VBAC. If your provider feels you are a good candidate, it is absolutely possible to have a hospital VBAC.

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    9. I had a hospital VBAC with a CNM in attendance. It was beautiful and empowering and all those wonderful flowery adjectives that I had always heard in relation to birth but never experienced. It ended up being a good thing we were at the hospital, too, since I hemorrhaged shortly afterward and had to be transfused. (Nothing to do with the VBAC, just one of those things)

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    10. Unfortunately, some hospitals do not allow VBAC. So, while it is allowed at some hospitals, it is not always an option.

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    11. I had a VBAC in the hospital, at my OBs urging/insistence. Ended up with enough cervical damage that I couldn't safely carry more children. Should have just followed my instincts and just had the C-section. I healed beautifully from that, and my son was fine (also 9 1/2 lbs from a 4'11" mother) Why are people so against C sections again?

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  20. Wow, I am so sorry that you and your baby had this experience. I am happy you are both doing great now. You are very brave for sharing your story.. I just saw it on Yahoo News. I am currently pregnant with baby #4. My entire third pregnancy I was planning on doing a home birth, but something clicked inside me at around 27 weeks.. I felt uneasy and decided to deliver in a hospital. I told my midwife that I had a lot of problems with my first delivery.. hemorrhaging, and the placenta wasn't coming out easily since it was embedded into my uterus. She assured me that all of this was because evil doctors induced me and that being at home was safer. Fast forward to my third delivery after I decide against the home birth.. I went into labor naturally, went to the hospital, had a traumatic delivery with the same problems as the first. I was bleeding horribly and the doctors couldn't get my placenta out. I don't know what the outcome would have been having a home birth.. I'm not saying I would have died, but I was lucky to ave been in a hospital when things got ugly. I could have needed an emergency hysterectomy, or could have bled out. In my opinion I was a high risk given my history, and my midwife should have told me that home birth was not an option. I have seen first hand what it's like to have someone manipulate you into thinking that hospitals and doctors are the enemy and the birth is supposed to be natural and at home. I hope your message is widely spread.. deliver in a hospital momma's!!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your story needs to be heard. You are right - a lot of midwives like to brush medical history off as "impatient doctors or midwives". We know (now) that isn't true. Medical history IS important.

      Many thanks for taking the time to read my story.

      Delete
  21. Thanks for having the courage to share your story, knowing the backlash you might receive from the homebirth community. Every birth is different and unique. I birthed 5 children and always thought I wanted a home birth, but if I had, it's possible one might not have made it.

    Doctors aren't perfect either. When my daughter was in labor, her Dr. was very hands off. He didn't realize when her placenta separated, nor was it detected on ultrasound that the baby had a single vessel umbilical cord. He should have never been delivered vaginally and consequently has disabilities from lack of oxygen during birth.

    I appreciate your truth and honesty about your home birth experience. It helps other women make informed choices.

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  22. I think you are very brave.

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    1. Well, thank you! I don't feel very brave but I appreciate your comment.

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  23. Ashley - I commend you on your ability to share this experience and am most impressed with the eloquent nature in which you have done so. And congratulations on such a beautiful baby boy!
    As a physician, and as someone being married to a physician, we are both 'trained' to handle emergency medical situations, and knowing all we know about labour and delivery and neonatal care, we did not even consider a home birth for either of our children.
    There is a trend towards home births these days, and I completely understand why they are appealing to women and their partners. You have unfortunately experienced the 'why not' of why home births can be unsafe for the baby, and potentially the mother. One of my closest friends and her baby both almost died 2 years ago in an unplanned home birth. Unfortunately, bad case scenarios do happen!
    And yes, bad case scenarios can happen in the hospital environment as well, and the outcomes may not always be successful. But the point is that the resources, personnel, health care workers are all present and knowledgeable should one of those bad scenarios happen. I am so happy you and your son are doing well, but I can only imagine the trauma this experience has caused for you!
    I hope your story reaches many many women, to at least provide them with more information in going forward with their birthing plan.
    Your son is very fortunate to have you as a mother - strong, smart, articulate, beautiful. I hope you enjoy every (crazy) minute with him!

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    1. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my blog and comment. You are right - bad case scenarios happen in the hospital too - but at least you have everything available at your fingertips.

      Please feel free to share my blog!

      Delete
  24. Thank you for writing about this. I often feel extremely sad thinking about the way my son's birth went. We didn't do a home birth, but at 36 weeks I was suddenly diagnosed with pre-eclampsia. I had to walk to the hospital (right across the street) and admit myself right away. Upon inducing the labor, we reached more complications. I ended up having a c-section and our son needed a stay in the NICU. Those NICU nurses and doctors were so amazing! I still get weepy thinking about it. Nothing went right, but we made it very luckily. As cheated as I feel, I need to lean on the reality that it somehow worked out. Our stars aligned later than usual. I greatly appreciate your ability to come out and say it, no matter how late it may seem.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog.

      I often get sad about how my birth didn't go as planned. It's a hard thing to swallow sometimes but you are right - maybe the stars aligned a little bit later for us.

      Best wishes for you and your son!

      Delete
    2. Anastadiapaige, I have to point out that ONE thing went right with your birth experience: you have a living child. Try to reframe your experience to allow in the breath taking great luck that your baby lived.

      Delete
  25. Hello. Thanks for sharing your experience. I thought I would have more to say than that, but I guess that's all.

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  26. I feel terribly sad for you that you didn't have the birth you were hoping for and for taking the time to identify the need for all mothers to understand that birth isn't perfect and rarely goes to plan and how important it is to try and mindfully prepare oneself for this reality to help ourselves emotionally when something goes wrong.
    I had a very similar birth presentation and shoulder obstruction, I successfully and happily delivered at home. My daughter was 11lb 22inches and I began hemorrhaging when my uterus failed to start contracting again after birth. Unfortunately, as I was doing a reasonable job at attempting to shuffle off this mortal coil (40 over 20 no distal pulses) I did have to go to hospital after birth, and was treated accordingly. Perhaps the differences between us are that I acknowledged the challenges and inherent risk of choosing home birth and knew if something went wrong I would be further away from hospital care. So for me, I don't have a negative feeling about my birth and feel sorry for you that you do. I hope you find solace through your writing. But please remember, this is your journey and while I applaud and appreciate you sharing it, others are trying to experience their journey in their way. Some of what you have alluded to and some of the ways you have crafted your story create challenges for others, that are not warranted.

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    1. Your tone is so condescending it's sickening. From what I understand, this was Ashley's second home birth, so I'm sure she "acknowledged the challenges and inherent risk of choosing home birth." It sounds to me like her team was incompetent, kept important information from her, and then told her it was her fault that the delivery went badly. I'm guessing that's why she has negative feelings about the experience. I'm SO glad you don't have those feelings about your experience (sarc) even though you almost died. Pretty sure your family would have had negative feelings about it had you died, and it's a good thing you were saved, IN A HOSPITAL. And guess what, she can "craft" her story any way she damn well pleases, it's HER story. If it "creates challenges" (unwarranted?! Ridiculous) for others, that's their own freaking problem. Stop acting so superior to her just because you happened to birth a larger baby "happily" at home. Get over yourself.

      Delete
    2. t's interesting that you feel it appropriate to chide this mother for sharing her story as though she somehow owes it to you and those who may feel the way you do to somehow sugar coat her experience to your preference lest she make another mother more aware and willing to fully consider all possible outcomes without rose-colored glasses. At the same time, you go into detail on your own story w/o pausing to consider whether you are holding yourself to your own silly standards.

      You have every right to feel however you feel about your own experience. However, it takes a certain level of superiority complex to comment on someone else's story that b/c you don't like how she feels about her own experience, she should somehow tell it in such a manner not to offend others or "create unwarranted challenges" as you're wording it.

      Let me respond in kind to your story since you must feel this is appropriate. You "successfully and happily delivered at home", yet you hemorrhaged and "unfortunately ... did have to go to the hospital after birth, and was treated accordingly." I can only assume that by "treated accordingly" you mean your life was saved.

      Perhaps the differences between you are not so much that you acknowledged the challenges & inherent risk of choosing home birth, but rather that you apparently are still stuck on the idea that how you give birth is of more importance and worth more risk than whether your child or yourself survive.

      "I feel sorry for you" that you still appear so unaware about the clear danger you were in that you would speak ill of those that likely saved your life ("Unfortunately ...I did have to go to hospital...") and want to somehow convince someone else who went through a dangerous experience herself that she just isn't "crafting her story" appropriately enough for your liking. At the same time, I am very happy that you and your child remain alive and I assume happy/healthy, and I hope you find some solace through your attempts to convince others that your opinions on their experiences are more important than their own.

      Talk about unwarranted challenges.

      Delete
    3. "But please remember, this is your journey and while I applaud and appreciate you sharing it, others are trying to experience their journey in their way. Some of what you have alluded to and some of the ways you have crafted your story create challenges for others, that are not warranted."

      LOL Dumb. But I'll bet you'd be mad if someone who knew didn't warn you that the vending machine you were about to put money into was going to eat your change.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I don't think everyone that chooses homebirth are aware of all the risks fully. I am not trying to scare anyone from any birthing choice - I'm just trying to show that homebirth isn't always perfect.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  27. Thank you for writing this! What you said really matters. I live in the Pacific NW, where homebirths are quite common. One of my dearest friends had one. I support her decision and value her opinion. When I had my second child, I knew I wanted to birth naturally. And I did, but I chose to do it at a hospital -- not just because I ended up needing an induction, but because I felt safer there. My friends gently encouraged me to consider a homebirth, but I chose not to because, even though I know it doesn't happen often, I knew that it COULD. Your story will forever stay with me. I'm just so relieved that your baby is okay and I hope you find healing and peace when it comes to your birth story. Please know that you are helping others with your honesty. xo

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    1. Waitingtoexpand,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I appreciate it!

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  28. I think you are very brave in telling this story, especially knowing that by doing so you have opened yourself up to all sorts of judgments, comments and criticisms. You could just as easily have done this anonymously. The idea that you continue to blame yourself for what happened makes me sad, though. You were doing what you thought was best for your baby, not out of selfishness or expediency or ego. On the contrary, you knew that it would be painful, messy and expensive. The fact that there were complications were not by any means your fault and you have to move on from dwelling on it and focus on the fact that your little guy was truly meant to be in this world. We have 4 children, and frankly, there was drama attending each of their births. That's just how it is. Giving birth is a risky business, but oh, how worth it! Cheers to you and your gorgeous family!!!

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    1. Cyndy,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and leave a comment.

      I could have remained anonymous but I think it helps to put a name to a face! I am a person and so is my son. I just hope that other people take something from story!

      And to answer your question below about if I sleep - hah! I have five kids and hardly get any.

      Best wishes! :)

      Delete
  29. As a neonatologist, I can't thank you enough for being brave enough to tell your story. I'm so glad your sweet boy is doing well. Mo must correct you on one thing you wrote, however: you did not fail! You trusted a system and people that were supposed to be professionals. They failed. Not you. Best wishes for continued good health for all of you!

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

      Please feel free to share it.

      Delete
  30. The first thing that came to mind after reading your story was "but for the grace of God go I". This could so easily have been me. When I was pregnant with my first child I decided on a "natural birth". I decided that a center specializing in water birth would be best, but after touring a few such centers, I changed my mind. It was the misinformation that the midwives (all registered nurses, by the way) were spewing that that ultimately turned me off to the idea. Moronic statements such as "women have been having babies for thousands of years" (yeah, and dying in childbirth!), "you can never overdose on vitamins - you will just pee the excess out" (ever heard of iron toxicity?!) and "pregnancy is NOT a sickness" (inferring that you should rarely if ever need medical assistance during childbirth), were just a few of the statements that alarmed me. Luckily I knew enough about science to realize that these people were full of crap, and opted to have my baby at the hospital. I now am the mother of three, and am more fully aware of how many things can go wrong during childbirth. If I had chosen a home birth for my last child, I almost certainly would have died, and the baby may have as well. I am so glad that you are speaking out so that women can more fully weigh their options before making such an important choice.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your story as well as reading mine.

      I appreciate your comment!

      Delete
  31. I forgot to ask in my previous comment - what is with the woman wearing all the jewelry around your baby?! That is so totally unsanitary and unprofessional - at the very least, she should have been wearing gloves.

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    1. Absolutely unsanitary and unprofessional. Also, acrylic nails are banned in all patient care areas because they harbor bacteria and fungus.

      Delete
    2. No one attending my birth wore gloves for the birth.

      And yes, it's very unsanitary, unprofessional, and gross.

      Delete
  32. Thank you for so eloquently sharing your story and for your kind words about the care and support that your NICU staff provided to your family! I'm glad that you can come from such a horrifying experience with a few new memories and maybe a couple of new friends! I hope that by reading this, families who are considering births outside of a hospital will pause, carefully assess their situation and ask questions of their chosen birth attendants. Will there be someone there who's ONLY job will be to care for the infant? Are they trained in Neonatal Resuscitation? Will there be an oxygen tank AND a self-inflating bag to use to breathe for the baby if the baby isn't breathing or is limp and blue and in distress? I'm an NICU nurse and know, without a doubt, that every birth should have trained personnel and equipment available to resuscitate the baby in emergent situations. Over many years, I've seen disastrous deliveries have spectacular outcomes only because of a well-thought out, evidence-based plan in place and people carrying it out in a rapid, methodical, confident well-rehearsed manner. Many hospitals now have accommodations for mothers who have specific, personalized birth plans. They take a family's birth preferences into consideration and provide a medically safe environment for mom and baby. Yes, "others are trying to experience their journey in their way", but their way MUST include a sound, reality-based plan to provide care for the baby should an emergency situation arise. God bless you and your beautiful little Zinn! May he continue to delight you, love you and keep you running. I hope your story continues to be shared to reach as many people as possible.

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    1. Well said, elodie!
      My youngest (now 25!) is only with us today because she was born in a hospital. And she was only born in a hospital because I followed my doctor's instructions and reported to that hospital at the first sign that I might be going into labour. If she had been born at home, she would have died. Period.
      Why risk our precious baby's life when we don't need to?

      Delete
    2. Elodie,

      I appreciate you taking the time to read my story and comment. You raised some very interesting points: will someone be there to care for both the mother and the baby? If mother and baby are both in trouble - will we both be taken care of? That's something that needs to be addressed in home birth, for sure.

      Thank you again for your comment.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  33. Oh my goodness what a horrifying experience. I am so sorry that you and your son went through that. A bad birth experience stays with one for years- I understand when you way that you still have nightmares.

    I do want to ask though where you are located- the USA? You mention a doula but did you have a midwife there?

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  34. I am located in the USA - TX.

    I had a cpm/Lm midwife present throughout my entire labor. She is registered and licensed through the state. Her assistant is an ex RN nurse who was also present. A student apprentice in the midwifery program was also in attendance. Hope this answers your question.

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    1. Did any investigation occur afterwards? From what you describe it sounds like they made some critical mistakes beginning with not listening to what you were telling them. Are others able to look up their 'record' before choosing to hire them?

      Midwife and home birth have such varied meanings and regulations worldwide that the lack of highly standardized care can lead to putting people in unsafe situations. I am truly horrified that with all those 'professionals' with you that you had the experience that you did.

      I live in Canada and midwives are regulated and paid for by the government here. They have full hospital privileges and regular training sessions for emergency situations both on their own and with hospital staff. They carry a number of drugs etc here- much more than just oxygen. The guidelines of who can have a home birth are very strict here. There is a procedure for review when something does occur to mom or babe at home that is the same review that happens when an incident occurs in the hospital. Midwives are held responsible for their actions and public safety is a priority. I am a supporter of midwives and home birth choice but only when there is strictly regulated and highly trained professionals available. When this doesn't occur situations like the one you have described can occur.

      Again, I am so sorry that you went through that experience and I hope that others gain wisdom and strength from what you have shared.

      Delete
    2. Ashley, I can tell you are going through the comments. I can also tell that you don't get much sleep! :D Is hearing all these stories helping you process your own experience better? Does seeing that others have gone through similar things make you feel better? I really hope it does!

      Delete
    3. Christina,

      I hope one day our midwifery system here can be improved. I hope by spreading my story, people will realize we need change to it. It was very difficult to publish my story - as I have received a lot of "hate mail" but my birth is sadly a reality of home birth sometimes.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

      Delete
  35. I did not have, or plan to have a home birth, but did have 2 less than ideal birth experiences. When I was admitted and induced at 35 weeks with my first child due to preeclampsia, I was in labor for over 12 hours before having a c-section. I was bed-ridden and catheterized because the IV magnesium used to stabilize the high blood pressure also cause your muscles to relax, so I was not allowed to walk to the bathroom. I had 2 epidurals (the 1st one moved out of place), the 2nd of which prompted me to lose consciousness and vomit something metallic and green (according to my hubby) as my blood pressure and heart rate to plummeted, at which point the anesthesiologist (the only doctor in the room at the time) packed up his things and walked out of the room saying, "I'm all done here".
    The craziest part is that months after the fact, when visiting the OBGYN, (where I'd been a patient for years before becoming pregnant), one of the doctors in the practice commented that with my particular anatomy being what it is (angle of pelvis, position of cervix, etc), that there was "no way" I could have "gotten a baby out vaginally". I knew the had to use different instruments during my yearly pelvic exams, but had never been told this before, and still can not figure out why I was induced or allowed to labor in futility.

    As someone who's lot in life seems to be to say what needs to be said, regardless of how unpopular it makes me, I feel your pain regarding the backlash from the "natural birth" community. But the truth is just that....the truth, and your willingness to share your experience, regardless of the response, is something I wish more people would espouse. When I "stick to my guns" about an issue, even though keeping silent would be far easier, and friends ask why I "put myself" through it, I always tell them that it's because I want to sleep at night, and I can only do that by "keeping it real", and remaining true to myself. My hope is that sharing your experience will provide you with a reprieve from your nightmares and that you will find a measure of peace from saying what needed to be said.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I am sorry you had less than ideal birth experiences. I wish birth could be easy for everyone but sadly, it is just so unpredictable.

      I have received a ton of backlash but feel confident in my decision to make this public. It's an issue that needs to be out there publicly.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  36. I'm an obgyn and am grateful for you sharing your story. I support a woman's right to choose the risks she takes, and those she places on her infant, in selecting where, and with whom, to birth. I know that things can go wrong, and right, anywhere. I also know that a hospital is the best place to handle emergencies, regardless of whether or not one believes that the "hospital culture" and/or "medicalization of birth" is responsible for complications during birth. But reading your story, I have a few comments. Shoulder dystocia is terrifying because, in albeit rare cases, death or permanent disability can result. You never know which one will be the prolonged one where you worry that the baby will die right before your eyes. That's exactly the feeling I imagine your midwife had. I don't know how the dystocia was ultimately resolved, but using fundal pressure is NEVER okay and leads to implicit questions about her skill set and training. If her attendant did it, she should have immediately taken control and stopped it. One question about her skill set should include anticipating macrosomia. Having an estimated fetal weight should be a part of all prenatal care at term. You're a slim person; simple examination with hands on your belly could, probably should, have alerted her (and you) to the risk of dystocia. Informed consent could have been given with full awareness of risk. I know some women and midwives in the home birth community don't put much (or any) significance on baby size, but the data on outcomes with macrosomia would disagree. Furthermore, I know many women list "don't examine me until I feel the urge to push" in their birth plans (which I ALWAYS read and do my utmost to follow). However, I insist that unless the baby is falling out, I must perform a thorough exam to determine presentation. Your case is exactly why. Brow presentation can cause prolonged 2nd stage of labor, risking infection, hemorrhage, perineal trauma, etc. After noting the presentation, she should have discussed the risks with you and informed consent should have been attained again. It's not for the community at large to decide a person's choice, for patients or providers. As a provider, I won't consent to backing up midwives who birth women with history of hemorrhage, 4th degree tears, twins, big babies, breech, or VBAC at home. That being said, those women may choose to do so with someone else (or even alone). At the end of the day, you and your son are healthy. I applaud your birth attendants for the CPR which revived him and saved his life. I applaud you for your courage in telling your story. Unfortunately, and too often, the homebirth community is one of anecdotes, aggressively turning a blind eye to good and reliable data, but then also ignores the anecdote that runs contrary to the approved dialog. Homebirth is not necessarily the wrong choice. After all, it usually has good outcomes. But information is the key to informed consent and looking for the complication is what all providers should be doing at all times. Don't trust birth, respect it for the dangerous beauty it is.

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    1. Alicia,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I had a few cervical checks during labor - as I'm the type that wants to know how far along I am - so I'm not sure if signs were missed or their was a lack of knowledge. Either way, I hope my story helps someone along the way. I really enjoyed the last line of your comment, "Don't trust birth, respect it for the dangerous beauty it is."

      Couldn't agree more. Thanks for all that you do for women and babies.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  37. Ashley,

    First of all you are so brave and amazing for sharing your story and photos. I find so much comfort in your story, as off as that is, because I had a planned homebirth, turned transfer to the hospital...all because the midwives weren't as thorough as they should have been. The "unnecessary pelvic exams" and "unnecessary ultrasounds" would have saved me and my son 20 hours of distress during labor. I count my blessings everyday that we both survived and are happy and healthy. People don't understand and see almost offended when I say that his birthday was the worst day of my life. I read a million stories and saw tons of videos and photos of successful homebirths and thought, "my body can handle this, I can do this. I am a woman...this is what I was brought on this earth to do" and my midwives didn't catch the fact that my uterus/cervix/vagina is completely split into two and there was no chance in hell of delivering my child.

    I am so glad you are exposing your story, because there aren't enough of these out here. Anytime I begin talking about my story (my son is now a year old) people act like I'm ungrateful for not having a great birth. Everyone says "he's here and he's healthy and that should be enough", and while that's the most important thing, it's not the only thing. I am traumatically scarred from his birth experience.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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    1. I can related 110% to your comment.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

      Delete
  38. My second daughter was born by an emergency C-section because of brow presentation... it was the whorst experience of my life, but i was at the hospital and they took good care of us. It's been a year and sometimes, i still cry when i think about it... cries of feer : i've never been scared like that. I can't imagine how terrorized you where... I'm really sorry you had to go trough that, my heart is with you.

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    1. I'm really sorry about your experience.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

      Delete
  39. Your labor story has haunted me since reading it. It brings back such painful memories for me. I had the same type of birth but was in a hospital. It was so scary, and I am thankful for my son's survival in thanks to the monitoring and FAST action of the doctors and nurses that got him out when they needed to. I was told and read, so many times, that fetal monitoring during labor is more trouble than it is worth. I was super fit, and young(25). I briefly considered trying a homebirth-I was a perfect candidate. My husband strongly objected, and I am glad I agreed with him to go to a hospital. That uncomfortable band that I had to wear across my belly saved my son's life. His heart beat told us there was a problem. He was dying in there. He was a large baby trapped in a posterior presentation with a cord wrapped around his neck, tightly, 2x... It went south FAST. His heart rate started to plummet, and we had mere minutes to save him, and we did. It was amazing how fast my team scrambled-getting him out, getting nicu docs to my room. They knew. And, they ACTED. They care so deeply about saving you, and your baby. I wish people could understand that. He came out blue. I thought he died. But the team was there in the room, and he lived. Years later, he did up having neurological problems. Was it from those mere minutes of oxygen deprivation? I will never know. I just know that if I were at home, he wouldn't be here with me today. SECONDS are crucial in saving a life or preventing brain damage during birth. SECONDS. Can someone transport you to a hospital and get you set up in labor and delivery in mere seconds from home? If a hospital is 5 miles down the road-your window is too brief. Years later, I would have my last baby at a hospital. Days prior we confirmed a head down presentation. When I arrived at the hospital, my labor had progressed rapidly. I was nearly fully dilated with bulging waters. The doctor immediately knew the presentation was wrong-I assured him that my baby was head down just a few days ago, but he needed to double check. Just a minute later, he carted in an ultrasound machine, and there was my baby, sitting in frank breech. Again, I was amazed by how quickly the doctors and nurses got me into the O.R. Again, we had minutes to get him out as he was coming! Already being in a hospital can save your baby's life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my story. I'm glad you were at the hospital so you could get the care you and your baby needed! It IS scary how fast birth can turn in the opposite direction. And yes, the hospital from my house is only .9 miles away and it still took us 12 minutes to get there. People underestimate the time needed for transport - whether by ambulance or car.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  40. Your son is so precious. I am very happy it worked out. Your pictures bring tears to my eyes. I choose hospital births for both of my babies, my second is due in 6 weeks because I am scared. So scared.

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    1. Is there something you are specifically scared about?

      I wish you the very best on the upcoming birth of your baby.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

      Delete
  41. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so very glad that your son is doing well. I hope that your courage and the courage of other women will lead to more open discussion between parents-to-be and care providers when discussing birth options. I had a hospital birth because I was considered old for a first-time mother (32), and it turned out to be fortuitous because my daughter was much larger than expected. Being in a hospital definitely saved her life and probably mine as well. Good luck to you and your beautiful family in the future.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. That's my goal with releasing my story publicly - open discussion with your care provider about all those "what - ifs".

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  42. I think it is amazing that you are sharing your experience and could possibly save someone else from something similar or even save the lives of other mothers and babies. That does make you a warrior. I am happy to see someone speaking out about the dark side of home birth. I can't help but think that maybe God put you through the horrible experiences so you could help others. You sound amazing and your son is adorable.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my story. It's been a rough week since releasing this story but my inbox is being flooded with women, just like myself, who have had traumatic homebirths. There are others, they are just too afraid to speak up and receive the backlash.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  43. Thank you so much for sharing your story. This kind of story is exactly why I am choosing a hospital birth. I am not concerned for myself so much as wanting my baby to have access to emergency care if necessary. I am so happy for you that your son is healthy and thriving.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  44. I've only had hospital births but I think it's unfair to blame home births as your reason. You could have had this experience at a hospital, granted access to quick emergency care would've been nearby, but that's the risk you take to get an intervention free birth these days. For what it's worth, I've only heard of fatal deliveries in hospitals, at least from people that I know. My sister died from an infection during a c/s for a breech baby, that was 5 years ago. Last December my cousin had her baby, and the baby died 2 hours later while in the nursery. The baby was born 100% healthy. So please have an open mind, and realize these mishaps happen, and it's not due to home birth or hospital birth. For someone who chose to have a home birth, it seems like you didn't do any research and didn't know what you were getting into. This is the reason I choose baby friendly hospitals, because even though I'm very low risk, there is a tiny chance that I might need hospital intervention and well, it's right there. Please be more informed in the future.

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    1. As a NICU nurse, I've seen numerous infants born at home (anticipated and unanticipated) that have had complications requiring NICU admission. Sadly, few of those have died and others have had longterm sequalae. And yes, some of those deaths could be blamed on a "home birth vs a hospital birth." While it is true that complications can arise both in a hospital or at home, it is important to be aware of the transfer time should something go wrong. When something does go wrong, minutes count! Most often it takes a minimum of 5-10 to get emergency medical support on scene, and they may not be neonatally trained. Your comment "anonymous" is again one of the condescending and uninformed ones. Are you aware of the amount of research this woman has done? Have you ever been in pain, and a part of a medical emergency, and been able to be rational and had the medical training to make an informed decision? This is why you trust professionals, who in this case, didn't appear to have sound enough judgement to recognize that a emergent transfer was needed earlier. Your remark, "Please be more informed in the future," is ignorant and in poor taste. And may I suggest that your cousin's baby wasn't "100% healthy" but may have appeared so and actually had an underlying issue or infection? The scenario you've described in unlikely.

      Delete
    2. Are you serious with this comment?

      Firstly, this was her second home birth so it's not like she didn't know what she was getting into.

      Secondly, she isn't blaming home birth. She's sharing her story of home birth gone wrong. There is a difference and I for one am glad she shared it because home births going wrong is not something people seem to talk about very much, it's like it's taboo. Sharing her story helps other people think through the possibilities and maybe can help them prepare for their home births better.

      Delete
    3. 'Anonymous' you are clearly not informed about any of the scenarios you speak of. Infection does NOT occur DURING a cesarean section and cause death during the cesarean section. Likely what occurred is chorioamnionitis during labor or perhaps even without labor. The infection likely caused her to hemorrhage. Neither of these things are anyone's fault and may not be related to any care given or not given. They could happen in a section or a labor and its likely that the providers went to the ends of the earth to prevent this horrible loss. As far as the baby is concerned, 100% healthy is not known at 2hrs of life. Im sorry for your losses but please understand that you nor your family, unless you have access to and understand Up To Date, AGOG, AWHONN, AAP, and other real research and practice guidelines, are likely clueless. Your comment minimizes this mothers experience and though youre free to have your opinions, we are too and my opinion is that you take your comments elsewhere.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous,

      Most people who lose babies from homebirth or even experience a traumatic homebirth do not come forward with their stories. If they do, they are often deleted or blocked from online communities. I know this because it happened to me last year when I tried to publish my story. No one wants to hear the negative side of homebirth. I am not trying to scare anyone - just trying to shed a tiny bit of light on a different side of homebirth that a lot of women are unaware of. My inbox is being flooded from other mothers, just like me, who have had traumatic home births or had their babies die at home from homebirth midwives. It happens. I am sharing my story to hopefully open up discussion between a woman and her care provider about all those "what ifs". I hope this clears up any concerns you have with my story.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  45. I am so sorry for your traumatic experience and very grateful that you and your son are ok now. It is unfortunate that sometimes as a society we put such an emphasis on having a "good experience" rather than ensuring a good outcome, i.e. healthy moms and babies. Even in the most uneventful pregnancies a complication can arise suddenly and unexpectedly during labor. There are birthing centers that allow for a "natural" birth and still have access physicians and equipment Having access to competent and qualified medical care in case of an emergency is not a weakness, it is wisdom. Let's encourage one another to view a safe delivery and healthy baby as a beautiful birth story. Every mom is a hero, every baby is a miracle!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. You are right: the best outcome is a healthy mom and baby. I hope others can learn from story and have an open conversation with their care providers about all those "what ifs".

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  46. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Please ignore pretentious assholes like the person who commented above me at 4:03 PM. They aren't worth the time it would take you to reply. You obviously did research and made decisions based on the (faulty) information your midwife et al gave you. I had a birth experience similar to yours. My son's measurements were almost the exact same as your son's and he was also a brow presentation. Fortunately we were at a hospital and able to have a c-section (no judgement here, just saying that was our situation). However, I still felt as though my body had "failed." As I go into my second labor and delivery this spring, thank you for the reminder that birth is just about luck. I shouldn't envy my friends' home births but instead be glad that the stars aligned for them. Thank you again for sharing this.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. By this point, I am so used to all the negative comments and judgment. It was a hard lesson for me to learn but yes, birth is just about luck and making sure that every little thing lines up perfectly. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. No one should feel like a failure!

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  47. Thank you for sharing your story. My second son Theodore was stillborn last June at 39 weeks, he was 9lbs 12oz. He had passed away in early labor, before I even went to the birth center... and there the midwives discovered there was no heartbeat. From later lab work we discovered he died because of a fetal-maternal hemmorhage... although we do not know why it happened. The midwives gave me the choice of going to the hospital or staying at the birth center to deliver him, and I chose to stay. The horror of going through labor knowing your baby is gone, giving birth to a silent room, to a sweet baby boy who would never take a breath or cry out... it will never leave me. I am thankful we were in the peaceful environment of the birth center, with midwives and a doula who cried and prayed with us. Theodore got very stuck during delivery, he was not able to "help" the delivery like a living baby would with wriggling and turning. It was excruciating, but nothing compared to the emotional agony. It gives me pause, however, to think of delivering another baby that way... although it is not far from the hospital, it would be too far in a dire emergency. And I could never bear the thought of being unable to save my baby if there were an emergency. I would never forgive myself. I know the great pain of loosing a child... I don't think I could ever take any chances. I am actually pregnant with our 3rd child now - due in June. I have been thinking long and hard about his/her delivery, and your story has greatly helped me. Thank you.

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    1. Sarah...you might be my twin. My son Luke was stillborn in September 2012 weighing 9 pounds 12 ounces as well. At exactly 39 weeks. He passed before I even had a chance to do something, though. And I experienced the same as you and Ashley--shoulder dystocia. He was my first, so I had no idea what to expect in delivery, but I can't tell you how horrific the entire experience was, start to finish. I don't wish it on anyone, and I don't know that I would have lived through it without the amazing care of our doctor and nurses. Shoulder dystocia is no joke, and living through it only solidified the fact that I'd only ever want to give birth in a hospital.

      Ashley--thank you for telling your story. No one ever thinks they'll be a statistic until they are one. I never thought you could lose your baby after a perfectly healthy pregnancy at 39 weeks, but I beat the odds on that one too.

      Telling our stories is so important for healing. Please don't beat yourself up over this. Your little boy is beautiful and I'm so glad he made it, for you.

      Delete
  48. Godbless you and your Baby Boy. I have seen this story far too many times being a L&D RN in Oregon. Sadly people forget that prior to birth in a hospital the number one cause of morbidity and mortality for a woman and child were in pregnancy, labor and delivery. Too many preventable deaths have occurred due to not having resources so close. Even when they are close they aren't always close enough, even in hospital there are some we cannot save but at least we tried. I truly respect women that have home births as long as they realize the true risk is fetal, neonatal and maternal death. As long as they can respect that and have the knowledge that it is a VERY REAL risk, then I bow out of any conversation with them about their decision because at that point they know the risk and are willing to make it. I on the other hand have never been willing to risk my child's life, ever, for any reason.

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. You are absolutely right - people definitely underestimate the time needed for transport. That definitely needs to be discussed fully.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  49. Thank you for sharing a heart wrenching story. What a gift that your beautiful son is healthy. I appreciate your honesty.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate it.

      Delete
  50. I think one of the lessons to pull from your story is not home birth or hospital birth, but choosing a trustworthy healthcare provider who listens and respects you and your baby to the utmost. I am a birth doula and have seen things equally as tragic as your story in the hospital. Unfortunately in the hospital setting you don't always get the doctor or midwife you've been seeing during your pregnancy for your birth. I have had a few clients who have chosen home births after their traumatic hospital birth experiences. Knowing how to choose a proper healthcare provider I think is really important, whether at the hospital or at home (or birth center).

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    1. The problem is that in this country, you can't be sure you have a trustworthy healthcare provider if you choose a home birth. There is no universal requirement or education or even process when things go wrong. In a hospital, even if you end up not seeing your provider, you still know they had to have the grades to get into med school, the intelligence to graduate, and the experience w/ multiple births and situations just from residency alone not counting their own yrs of practice. So you may not know *them* specifically, but you can rest assured you're in good hands in case of an emergency. And if you are not, there are clear repercussions.

      Delete
    2. Lacey,

      Thanks for taking the time to read my story and comment. Of course, we need trustworthy healthcare providers. Unfortunately, you can't always hire a competent homebirth midwife or even know if you have until it's too late. I am hoping that by releasing my story, this opens up the discussion between moms and their provider about all those "what ifs".

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  51. Thank you for sharing your story. It means so much. I'm a firm believer in having your baby in the best hospital in you area. (Best hosptial meaning the one your baby will get sent to of things go wrong) You see, at 40wks and 1 day I had the perfect unmedicated, practically unassisted birth and within a couple of hours I had the sickest baby in the hospital. No one could have predicted it. But, the minutes it takes to transfer a baby can mean everything. Thank you again for sharing.

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    1. That should have said ^ unmedicated, practically unassisted *hospital birth

      Delete
    2. Elizabeth,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I hope your baby is okay - how scary!

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  52. Your little boy is beautiful. Congratulations on overcoming the hurdles that have been placed in front of you throughout this ordeal. I would like to encourage you. Some things that I see in you through your words are that 1) you are a fighter and, like a mother bear, are well capable of caring for your perfect cub, 2) you did not allow others to distract, waylay or misdirect you from obtaining those medical records, 3) you are listening to your own small inner voice and acknowledging what is important to you; you are trusting in this and moving forward, bit by bit, 4) you are giving yourself time to heal, 5) you are giving yourself permission to be 'unpopular' in order to be true and honest to yourself. Congratulations on being a strong mama!

    I have never read a birth account like yours. It shocked me to the core, because my husband and I just delivered our wee one two months ago and were faced with the question of 'what would have happened if we had birthed at home?' She nearly died. She was born in a hospital with every indication that she and I were perfectly healthy; heart rate perfect. However, she went into shock during labour and required cpr by a dozen medical professionals who came running to the room. My husband and I have been silenced many times thinking of the "what if..." Everything happened so fast; it all went horribly wrong so fast that we feel that we likely would have lost her if we had not been in a hospital. Your honest words here fill a gap in the conversation about labour. Sometimes it is shocking, and ugly, and disappointing. Sometimes it overwhelms you and paralyses you and leaves you with feelings of unease for years. It needs to be okay for women to say honestly how they felt about the event and not feel pressure to be 'birthing warriors' no matter where they laboured. You are a perfect mom. Your little man will be proud of you for sharing and helping others by sharing your story. Blessings to you all.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Leanne,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. Wow, your comment made me cry. Exposing my birth story to the world has been a roller coaster of emotions. It's been incredibly difficult to deal with the back lash and become unpopular, but I know in my heart it was the right thing to do. And you are right - it can be ugly and shocking and scary. I hate how much pressure we sometimes have as mothers.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  53. Hello, I'm a young lady from Brasil and I was really touched by your story. Thanks for sharing it with the world. Here everyone always tells the benefits of natural home birth, how healthy it is, etc., and we believe it because it sounds so right! But with you I learned that it might not be a good idea. Don't blame yourself for what happened. You did the best you could. Let this horrible experience be a lesson for all moms and future moms. I'm so glad the story didn't turn into a traged, your baby boy is so beautiful. Best wishes from Brasil!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I really appreciate it.

      Feel free to share my story!

      Delete
  54. I work in a NICU and have seen the product of a home birth gone wrong. I realize for every bad outcome there is many more beautiful home birth stories, but the ones that went bad would of had a better outcome if done in the hospital. One of the worst ones was a planned breech at home. The head got stuck after the body delivered. Now this women had to be rushed to the hospital in this condition. That perfect full term baby boy did not survive. If you want a hands off midwife delivery why not do it in the safety of a hospital? I noticed in the pictures that the baby was being given oxygen. All the oxygen in the world doesn't do any good if the baby isn't breathing!!! Where is the resuscitation bag and mask to breath for this baby and was any one of them trained in neonatal resuscitation?? Anyone who is going to attend a delivery in my hospital has to be NRP certified. I think that people believe if they are low risk nothing bad will happen. This is not true. In labor and delivery things can change so quickly. A 5 minute ambulance drive is too long for a baby with no heart rate!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading my story and taking the time to comment.

      Please feel free to share my story so it can reach others.

      Delete
    2. That's what I'm wondering too! Did they actually do anything to resuscitate him? An oxygen mask doesn't do anything if he's not getting the air!

      Delete
  55. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your story. I am shocked and appalled by the midwifery stories that are coming from TX. As a student midwife in Florida, your pictures and story absolutely APPALLED ME: No gloved hands, no clear resuscitation set up, pushing in a tub with a suspected SD, EMS not notified during the difficult delivery, no one checking on FHR during 2nd stage, FUNDAL PRESSURE (dear God in heaven). This is the stuff nightmares are literally made of. I've also heard of breeches, twins, and other higher risk variant births being commonly performed by midwives in TX and other places.

    I am stunned by your story, Ashley. Please keep sharing this far and wide. Midwives practicing out-of-hospital need to be held to a higher standard through licensure, a peer review process, a law and rule that clearly defines both acceptable standards of care and clear consequences for engaging in risky deliveries at home.

    I hope you've filed a complaint with your state board, and filed a lawsuit against your midwives. I wish you the best as you continue to navigate this trauma.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment.

      I really hope we can improve the midwifery standards here. I'm just insanely glad that my son and I are okay.

      Please feel free to share my story, I appreciate it!

      Delete
  56. If women were more brave like you then more births would be home births and better practices would be in place to handle emergencies as the one you described. As it stands with home birth existing as an alternative option as opposed to a second choice, we should not expect the health procedures to be as well funded or as well communicated and understood in midwifery. The establishment greatly benefits from women willing to risk the adverse side effects of putting themselves into social jeaopardy since it is through their willingness to challenge the system that light is shed onto it and progressive steps can be agitated for in order to improve the treatment and care of women's health as we can witness happening right here thanks to you.

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    1. Hi!

      I agree. We definitely need something to change to make it a safer option. Hopefully things will change in the future for better homebirth outcomes.

      Best wishes!

      Delete
  57. Hello,

    I am a homebirth midwife. If you would ever like someone to go over your chart with you, we could do so over Skype or another app. Some parts of this really don't fit. I do not know any midwives in your area or even who your midwife was but I think every woman has a right to understand her birth. You can reach me at conwaymidwife@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Hi there!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story. What parts are you specifically curious about? I have went through my records with several doctors and CNMs so I understand what happened.

      Thank you for the offer though and will keep you in mind for the future if I have any questions.

      Best wishes.

      (Sorry about the comment I deleted right before this, I made a typo!)

      Delete
  58. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  59. I don't see anything here saying she was assisted by a midwife. Maybe I missed it, if so please show me where. Possibly the rest of you have read more on her situation. So sorry for your bad experience, Ashley. I'm very glad you both pulled through.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to read my story.

      My birth team included a cpm/Lm midwife, a nurse that worked as her assistant, and a student apprentice.

      I also had a doula.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
    2. Thank you, yes. Wow, I am not impressed. Neither your midwife, nor the nurse knew to monitor the babies heartbeat for distress. I too had a long and painful home birth (9 1/2 lb. baby), but my baby's heartbeat was being checked quite frequently and everything went fine. I wish they had taken your concerns more seriously. I like to think that if I had said, "Something's wrong." that my midwife would take me straight to the ER. Congrats to you on a healthy adorable little boy.

      Delete
    3. This is just curiosity: you mentioned you had OBs and CNMs go over your records with you so you could understand everything but you had a lay midwife for your delivery? Was she a lay midwife or a certified professional midwife? Was have a certified nurse midwife for a homebirth not an option for you?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous,

      Very few CNM's do homebirths and certainly none in my area. The only option for homebirth in my area is a CPM/LM midwife.

      Delete
  60. Thank you for sharing your story! I think the hardest part is being shunned & shamed by the very community I once believed in so much: other moms who are pro-homebirth and too committed to their politics to hear me as a fellow mother and human being. I was a staunch, rabid home birth advocate before having my daughter. I studied to be a midwife, took a doula training course, read copiously about birth and wanted to be a homebirth provider. My own midwife's gross negligence makes me question the safety of homebirth itself.

    I'm so glad Zinn is alive and well and very glad you have shared your story with the world. While I do think homebirth may be safe with very competent providers, the lack of licensure within this field means that the normal level of medical accountability is absent.

    My heart goes out to you & your family. My little girl is 2.5 and STILL recovering from her rough start: on a feeding tube, didn't walk until almost 2, still needs OT, PT & SLP weekly, etc, etc. If you'd like the gory details, they are on my blog: https://haysiempreesperanza.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/negative-birth-experience-with-kathy-davies/

    I think the most important thing is to treat each other as humans. Despite what our individual experiences or beliefs about homebirth might be, the bottom line is: life is sacred. Birth should be respected. I'm so sorry you and your baby almost died and am so glad you're both ok! And every person who comments on your brave and vulnerable post should have that perspective as they share their beliefs, politics, reactions. Let's PLEASE be logical, rational, respectful and human as we interact!

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    1. Well said. Some women have bad experiences and those of us who don't shouldn't act like we know what you are talking about. Let's all debate respectfully. And this is ASHLEY'S blog, so maybe we shouldn't debate at all. ;)

      Delete
    2. Mama Bear,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and comment. You are so right - it was very hard being shunned and blamed and shamed in a community I fought for. It was eye opening and very sad.

      I am so sorry about your homebirth with your little girl. If you are comfortable, I have created a Facebook page for Homebirth Loss and Traumatic Births.

      https://www.facebook.com/homebirthlossandtraumasupport

      It's new but I really hope it will help spread awareness about the risks - specifically what you mentioned - lack of licensure!

      I hope you check it out.

      Best wishes to you and your little girl.

      Delete
  61. Ashley, my heart hurts for you. I can just imagine how you felt after that experience with no one in that community to validate it. I chose midwives for both of my births, but also chose to birth in a hospital because I wanted the feeling of safety. To feel like you were manipulated out of that safe feeling is terrible. I'm glad you're sharing your story and that you've been able to work through at least some of your feelings about. And, oh my goodness is Zinn a beautiful child.

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    1. Robin,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. It really means a lot.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  62. I had two home births. My prolonged labors and second stage destroyed my pelvic floor. While I am fortunate that my children did not die because of my buying into the NCB propaganda, I have had one surgery and will likely need another in order to repair the damage done by the well meaning midwives who put ideology above my long term health.

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    1. Rhy,

      That you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I am very sorry to hear your story. There are a lot of us who feel like this and our voices need to be heard.

      You might check out my new Facebook Page here:

      https://www.facebook.com/homebirthlossandtraumasupport

      It's nice to be able to connect with others who have went through the same thing.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  63. I am terribly sorry about your birth experience!! I too have had a couple of very close births. For me, deep down I wasn't sure I wanted a home birth, I was scared. The closer my first birth came, the longer overdue I was...one day shy of three weeks....the more scared I became. A week before having my first was born, I had a very vivid dream that about choosing to save my baby or letting my baby go. I so was shaken up, and I felt I was a huge failure for wanting a hospital birth. By time labor came, it was very sporadic and exceedingly long; not to mention recaptured membranes. I told my husband I wanted to go to the hospital, and moments later, the midwife came in and told us she felt God speak to her about going to the hospital. In the end, my daughter's head would not fit through the birth canal. After my first birth, I didn't want to have another one at home, I chose to have my second one in the hospital. With a successful VBAC experience, I opted to finally have a home birth...I can't say I will do that again. The birth hit too come to home...emotionally, spirituality, and physically. My body is not designed to deliver babies easily, my next one will definitely be born in a hospital, unless I gain 0 pounds :) As I have more of a man shaped pelvic, and that is not made for delivering a 9pounds 13oz, Posterior, and the worst shoulder distosa. My baby was Stuck...My midwife was very close to popping the clavicle, instead she called on God to intervene...and He did! There was a loud "pop" and my baby delivered shortly after. Unfortunately, my baby was born with a spiral break in his upper arm. Thankfully, I still have my baby, who is 14months and is very active and vocal. I hope you continue to heal from your experience. Thank you for sharing your story, it definitely brought back the feeling.

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  64. Thank you for sharing you story. Almost 21 years ago this month my two day old baby passed away. I gave birth in the hospital butany of my friends were advocating home birth. She was also my 5th. Everything went well during the pregnancy but my ob discovered that my amniotic fluid was almost gone and knew the baby could be in distress. I delivered her in a fast and easy birth but she was sick. Sent to the NICU in the hospital they tried everything to find out what was wrong. All tests til she passed were negative. All I could think of at the moment is how can this be? She was good sized and full term. They finally came to the conclusion that my bad case of the flu a month before her birth was the cause of her respiratory distress discovered two hours after birth. Why do I write this? Because the grief over losing her was enough to bear if o had had her at home she most likely would have passed but at least I had the peace of mind that she was in a place to get the best care immediately and it wasn't my negligence that caused her to pass away. A good friend confided later that she had a home birth and her baby died soon after and she can't forgive herself to this day wondering off she had had immediate care would she have lived. There are options for natural births in birthing rooms in many hospitals. If no intervention is needed the new parents stay in what looks like a nice hotel room, BUT they have the fall back of great medical help just down the hall. Losing a baby is a horrible hear trending experience I can't imagine adding guilt into the factor. The goal is a healthy baby and healthy mother. Why gamble with something as precious as those two lives.

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  65. Ashley,

    I'm an anesthesiologist who frequently works in labor and delivery. I can't count how many times I've seen a low-risk delivery turn into an emergency situation on a dime. I just want you to know that you've done something important by sharing your experience with such bravery. As a female physician who truly supports a woman's right to choose her own path when it comes to healthcare and reproductive rights, I think it's vital that we all seek as much information as possible when it comes to options surrounding reproductive heath. Your story is a powerful addition to the wealth of resources that are available. Obviously I'm biased, but I believe that obstetricians have their patients' best interests at heart. Medicine exists and continues to advance in order to serve patients in the safest and best ways we know how.

    As for me, I know that if I ever give birth, it will be in a setting where I know an anesthesiologist, obstetrician, and operating room are only a page and a short gurney ride away. I guess working in an academic hospital really hammers home the full spectrum of possibility (our institution provides everything from unassisted water birth to VBAC to scheduled caesarean).

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    1. Don't forget the NICU! I've attended many births (pediatrician) and have seen so many "routine, just show up for form" deliveries that went bad FAST! Nothing like standing in the delivery room, bored, when the OB says "BLUE BABY!!" and panic ensues. But there I have oxygen, resuscitation equipment, meds, suction, whatever, instantly. I want peds, NICU, anesthesia, anyone I can get to ensure care for my baby.

      Delete
    2. Katie,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment. I really hope my story helps someone out there. It's been incredibly difficult to hear all the negativity surrounding it.

      Best wishes.

      Delete
  66. I think you are blaming your location of birth when you should be blaming your choice of care providers. It doesn't sound like anything that happened had to do with WHERE you gave birth, but WHO you gave birth with. I know, I've been there. I had a homebirth that ended in an emergency transfer and 3 day NICU stay, but it wasn't my location or care providers that caused it. I have a very similar story to yours and I think sometimes we just need an outlet for blame to make ourselves feel better. I'm glad you and your baby or OK. I know the worry of it all, trust me! I hope you can find peace with what happened and share your story of what happened so that more mothers can make an educated decision about location and birth team. I think people need to hear the risks of both and left to decide without judgement either way. Birth isn't always a fairy tale picture as I have painfully learned.

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    1. What you're missing is that even if you have amazing providers, a home birth is still too far away from quality emergency care when it turns on a dime and precious seconds count.

      While the lack of universal regulation, licensing, educational standards etc in the home birth world is certainly a major factor in stories like this, one cannot discount proximity of precious emergency services.

      Delete
    2. I dont think she's blaming anyone but I do think you are putting the blame on her decision and should go away.

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    3. I agree with Emma. It's not a matter of the home birth (location) being the issue, it was the caregivers negligence. Home birth is well researched and it clearly shows that low risk pregnancy, labor and delivery makes home birth a safe option for women. They KEY is risk needs to stay low through all stages including labour and delivery. Unfortunately risk can change at ANY point in the process. This is where competent caregivers come in. Proximity to hospital shouldn't have made a difference if she was properly monitored (vitals of baby and her) and they had taken action when her risk level started changing (but they weren't monitoring vitals to notice... and they didn't call when they saw MECONIUM in the water... that's a biggie!). RISK doesn't change in seconds and go from safe to critical. It happens gradually but steadily, so a call needs to be made quickly but you have some time.... (just not a lot). If they had called when those early signs happened, this mom never would have been in the situation she ended up in. She would have been in the hospital well in advance. I think they either missed or overlooked a lot of things way early on and their negligence left her in a situation where the proximity to a hospital actually became an additional risk factor to her and her babies well being. I am thankful her story has both well and alive (physically anyway). Homebirths are still safe. My son was born at home, but we are in Canada where scope of care for midwives is legislated and very strict. They would have transferred care had any of these things happened here..... Sorry for your experience, I hope you heal emotionally.

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    4. Risk CAN change in an instant. Placental abruption can be immediate and full-on, so is a cord accident, so is a uterine rupture which is a known risk of a vbac. Even a low-risk home birth has a higher intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate than the hospital, but if a mother is fully informed about the risks and still chooses a home birth, I can respect her right to choose.

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  67. How was your first home birth? Did you have the same midwife?

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    1. Yes, good question. Also, how was your care prenatally and postpartum? Have you pressed charges against these woman?

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    2. I was just about to post same question. I am so very sorry and saddened to hear about your awful experience.

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  68. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is brave and caring of you to do so. I am a pediatrician and I am also horrified by the lack of interventions that were given to you and your baby during your labor and delivery. In your story you describe your amniotic fluid as meconium stained, and a baby that was born limp and blue. In that case, the baby should have been intubated and suction done below the vocal cords in an attempt to remove meconium from the lungs. I assume your midwife and attendants made no attempt to intubate.

    It seems to me that adequate training in the midwife community is not the biggest issue--it is their refusal to actually use that training and intervene when the situation calls for it. Thank you again for sharing your story. From the comments it is clear that you have already helped several women make a more informed choice regarding their obstetric care.

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  69. I've been trying to follow you but i can't seem to figure this site out.

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  70. I just read your article on PopSugar about your true feelings on home birth and I just want to say how much I agree with your "Birth shouldn't be trusted, it should be respected" quote. I am in school to be a midwife with a LOT of earthy crunchy types who are all "red raspberry leaf tea" and "evening primrose oil" and "birth is so natural" types. I have worked in labor and delivery for 9 years and have NO desire to do homebirths but I can't really say that out loud at my school because I'd be attacked!! I want the safety net of the hospital if anything goes wrong! My own birth is a great example of when a "natural" thing can go wrong: I had no intentions of birthing at home, I had some obstetrical complications early on that made me think I had to be with an OB in the hospital, which was totally fine with me. I wanted my epidural dammit! :-P I broke my water at 7am and by the time I got to the hospital at 12:30, I was 6/100%/0. Very very promising that my body was doing everything right. I got my epidural and progressed really quickly after that. However, long story short, I had a C-section at 1am because my 6lb baby was never fitting through my pelvis. He was malpositioned to begin with but the OB told me after the surgery that even if he was perfectly positioned, even at 6lbs, he was never making it through. A vaginal delivery is just not an option for me. After being discharged, I called her to thank her for her judgment call because I know first hand what can happen when you try to force a baby out. I'm so very happy that your little man is ok but what a hellacious experience you had to go through. Thank you so much for being the being so open with your encounter! To me, just sharing this, makes you a birth warrior! ;-)

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    1. Gabby, I too, went to midwifery school after being a nurse on L&D (for 10 years). I, unlike you, however, KNEW, most everything "we" (nurses, doctors, staff on L&D) did in relation to childbirth was wrong. Almost everyone I know that works on L&D believes very much like you do--hospitals are safe, the interventions are necessary and life saving and babies and women would die without hospital interventions. Oh, and the other hospital mentality--believe everything the doctor says. "The OB told me" ...the baby..."was never making it through." If I had a nickel for every time I heard that. One of my patients was told after a C-section that her pelvic bones were malformed (the doctor saw it with his own eyes during the C-section!) and the baby would've never been born without C-section. She was able to have her next baby naturally at home. The hospital mentality is that "we know much better than you do what's best for you and your baby and if you don't want to do what we say it's because you don't care about your baby and your baby will probably die." The bad news is that, yes, babies and moms do still die during childbirth in the US and all the interventions in the world aren't going to stop that from happening on occasion. I think it is a very American idea that all babies should be born alive and healthy and if they are not, someone is to blame and that usually is the midwife or obstetrician. But, what it comes down to is that women should have a safe choice of places to give birth and attendants to care for them. Unfortunately, here in the US, there are VERY few CNM's (certified nurse midwives) like myself that offer services for home birth and the alternative (CPM's or DEM's) usually don't have extensive midwifery education.

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  71. Great article. It's very important knowing the risks at home births
    Dr. M. Valeria Giménez (Obgyn at Http://bebesencamino.com)

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my story.

      Best wishes.

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  72. Thanks for writing this! I think the risks are often sugarcoated...it seems that blind trust makes you a "warrior mama" and questioning the risks makes you "brainwashed by big pharma." My second baby had shoulder dystocia and it was terrifying. I've never been so happy to be in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors and nurses and all that awful monitoring equipment that everyone complains about ;)

    I appreciate you taking the heat by offering another viewpoint -- that a birth may look idyllic in photos, but the reality may be much different.

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    1. I've always loved the saying "A picture can say 1000 words, but not all those words are necessarily true."

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    2. Thank you for your comment, KW.

      You are right - either risks are not mentioned or they are often sugarcoated. It has been a little difficult to handle the heat and negativity but the outpouring of support has been amazing too. I am NOT the only one that has had a traumatic homebirth and I certainly won't be the last.

      Many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

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    3. Danielle,

      I love that saying. How true!

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  73. My story is a little different - I lost a son at 39 weeks to a cord accident as I went in to labor. He was stillborn at a hospital. Nothing a hospital or a homebirth setting could have prevented. But, it makes me even more leery of home births (as you stated - not ANTI home birth), but I just wish I could have done anything to save my son. So when I hear of cases where a loss or traumatic experience COULD have been avoided, I can't help but question if we place too much value on the birth experience and not enough value on what matters most - the experience and lifetime after with your baby. And I think your story and your bravery coming forward have enabled others to do the same - to share that they regret putting their child at risk. I applaud you for being brave and sharing your side of the story. I'm grateful you did not have to endure the loss of your son. It is a lifelong sentence I wish on no one.

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  74. Strong experience that as NICU doctor I don't wish to anybody. I truly appreciate the courage for sharing this and most important for informing people about the risk and benefits of home delivery. I love your quote: Birth shouldn't be trusted, it should be respected. Its exactly the way I feel everytime I'm being call for a delivery. In a minute, what was a perfect pregnancy, can go very wrong!
    Please dont be so hard with yourself. Its easy to think and judge looking backwards, but its important to recognize the risks that are involve. I hope that you can help us teach others about the risks and benefits of home delivery.
    I am happy that your beautiful baby is at home with you and healthy. I pray for those who have to pass through the experience of losing a baby.

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  75. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. That's a very brave thing. Like others who have posted here, your posting is very timely for me. I'm five months pregnant (today, yay!) with my first child. I've mulled over the ob/gyn or midwife question a lot. I've decided on an ob/gyn. However, I have many friends who are going the midwife route and I often feel looked down upon because of my ob/gyn choice. Many people in my circle seem to equate a hospital birth to being less in tune with my body and nature, less caring about my baby and his/her birth, less trusting, less, less, less... Your post has helped me feel a whole lot better about my decision. Thank you.

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  76. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am so happy that everything turned out good in the end, how horrifying and emotional that must have been for you to have to go through, I can't even imagine it... I'm currently pregnant with my second baby and have gone back and forth over whether I want to do a home birth, and it's easy to want that fairy-tale birth story, that "empowered woman" feeling, and to overlook the complications and things that can and do naturally go wrong - regardless of what risk you are - because you rarely hear people speaking out about it.

    "Birth shouldn't be trusted, it should be respected."

    Thank you! Just, thank you so much for sharing this side of the spectrum. My friends have been trying to persuade me and encourage me in the direction of home birth. You have made me feel so much better with feeling uneasy with home birth, my feelings feel validated and I feel totally okay and at ease with my decision to birth in a hospital. Thank you.

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  77. Wow, I had no idea that this happened in homebirth communities. I'm had both my babies in a hospital and always wondered about the other side. I really admire you taking the time to share your story and be so brave & honest. I'm sure you've already helped so many other mamas in the process. I hope you can find peace through this & be supported better. Your son is absolutely adorable. I'm so happy that you had a happy ending.

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  78. As I'm typing this, I have tears running down my cheeks and they are not tears of joy. The end of this month marks the day my son would turn three years old. He died after only two days after a home birth gone terribly wrong. So many bad decisions were made, so many times my gut feelings ignored by no one else but me and the biggest mistake I made, was to completely trust my midwife in knowing what she was doing. I will be paying for it for the rest of my life!

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    1. Anonymous,

      I am very, very sorry your baby died. I have created a support page online for Homebirth Loss and Trauma Support if you would like to join. I'm so very sorry again.

      https://www.facebook.com/homebirthlossandtraumasupport

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  79. You ARE brave, brave for standing up to all those who tell you to be quiet. Brave to tell everyone that home birth isn't safe, and it's not worth the "natural" home experience to play russian roulette with your babys life (and your own). So glad you and your baby are okay, i know it all must have been terrifying. I'm a Nurse Anesthetist and do a lot of OB anesthesia, and see enough cases where even being right down the hall from an operating room seems to be cutting it close. It's a small percentage, but even in the small percentages are real people who die.

    Thank you! Don't let anyone shut you up.

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  80. Ashley, my heart sank when I read your account of home birth. I am a mom of two, and stories like yours add to my personal "info" stash, so thank you for adding your opinion.
    You mentioned in your post you have a hard time letting go of the trauma. I BET! If it were me, I would throw the pictures of home birth away. Not because you don't like their quality. Not because you don't respect the work that was put in them. Not because you don't care about them or everything that happened. They're great quality, they're artistic and they show great skill. And you care a lot. But they make you re-live that experience. After all, pictures are supposed to make us remember and take us back in time. And as you said, you look at him and you're grateful everyday he's fine. So that's all you need, really, to be happy, isn't it?
    But that's only my opinion. And maybe you already thought of that or someone suggested it. I'm sorry, I don't have the time to read all the comments.
    One big hug your way and good luck :)

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    1. Anonymous,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my story and comment back. I do love my labor and birth photos a lot but I hardly look at them. You're right - they definitely make me re-live the experience so they remain on the computer and that's it. I wanted to get some framed and hung in the house but it's just not the right thing to do.

      Best wishes.

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  81. I read your story on Today Parents and am so glad you and your son are safe. I was wondering though, you mentioned you didn't know what your photographer was going to write but there was no further mention of that and there is nothing of it on her blog or facebook page that I could see. What was that aspect about, if that's not an invasive question? I sincerely hope you have been supported by those around you as your story has come out. Blessings to you and your family!

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    1. Hi Tori,

      My photographer released my photos and a short blurb about my birth last month. Here is the link to that:

      http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Photographs-Home-Water-Birth-36203103#photo-36203103

      Hope this helps. My medical records were being withheld from me so I couldn't give details about my birth at that time.

      Hope this helps.

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  82. If I had chosen to have a home birth with my son, I have no question at all in my mind that we both would have died. I, too, needed, a hospital. He was born after agonizing hours of hard, induced labor and finally forcibly "born" with forceps. Yes, your body CAN grow a baby too large for your body to deliver. We were prepped for an emergency C-Section. Home birth? No way. Neither of us would be here today had I gone down that road.

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  83. thank you for this. thank you so very much.
    i also had a home water birth in 2013. it was a very difficult,very fast back labour. once my water finally broke the midwives noticed there was meconium leaking and informed us on the risks. we decided to call an ambulance and headed to hospital. we arrived just in time. my son was born not breathing and with a very low heart rate. he was immediately taken by the repository team (who were waiting for us) and they got him breathing. i was able to hold him for about 30 seconds and he was taken again this time out of the room. we didn't see him for over 2 hours and had no idea what was going on. all we knew is that they were doing tests. when we finally got to see him we were warned that it was going to be hard to look at. he laid there lifeless, struggling to breath with a bunch of tubes coming out of him. the nurse told us we were lucky we got there when we did because he would have died if we stayed at home. his condition was so bad.
    later that night he was transported to the children's hospital and stayed there for 12 days. the tests continued throughout out his stay and 10 months after he left. we were told that he would have moderate brain damage. i felt like hell. i wanted to die.
    almost 2 years later he is a healthy, vibrant, strong toddler. there was never any brain damage or any other lasting effects form his birth. but i still deal with the trauma almost on a daily basis. honestly, i thought i was alone in this. i was so saddened to read what happened to you and your son but i can't tell you how much your story has helped my partner and i. it's such an isolating experience. not everyone can relate. and not everyone can get over it.
    i was lucky that i was informed of the risks. but i would have never forgiven myself if i had chosen to continue with the home birth.

    thank you again for inspiring us to share our stories.
    all the best to you and your family.
    xox

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  84. What has always bothered me is how "simple" some people make childbirth out to be. It's not. Women died regularly having babies at home. Their children died at birth. No woman should be without true medical assistance at childbirth. Like you stated in your article, they won your trust and promised to give you "the picture perfect birth". It's a lie. I wish every single pregnant woman could read this. You're taking your life and your child's life into the hands of unqualified people. It's not right, and in my opinion should be illegal.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and I'm glad yours had a happy ending, and terribly sorry for those who didn't.

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