In honor of International Midwife Day

(Sorry for the absence — hopefully your heart is growing fonder!)

I had no idea what a “midwife” was, although when I was about 10 I learned that I had a very distant relative in Hawaii who was married to a midwife.

My dad was very good friends with an OB, so I went to him for all of my needs until I went to college. (And then, I think University Health Services took care of me for four years, including one ear infection that I got at the ripe old age of 20. Misery.)

But then I got pregnant, unplann-edly, with Animal and Mineral. I had just graduated from college — with a degree in Psychology and Creative Writing, so the job offers were not pouring in — and I had no insurance. I was working as a server at a ribs restaurant. I had a black labrador named Oakley. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with a teal-green bathroom.

I was pregnant. I didn’t want to have an abortion — or give the baby up for adoption. I called Plann*ed Parent*hood to ask about low-cost obstetric care; they had Certified Nurse Midwives on staff who provided free care.

Although I have a friend who swears that they have an abortion quota (SNORT), I never heard the word when I was there for prenatal appointments. The Nurse Midwives were very kind. As the reactions of my family members ran the gamut from shocked (on the positive end) to appalled (on the negative end), the Nurse Midwives seemed particularly kind.

They asked about my “situation;” they gave me referrals to programs that helped single moms with no money; they made suggestions for improving my eating habits;  they didn’t mind when I would cry during my appointments. I was freaked out. It was not the best time in my life.

However, one day I went to an appointment and the midwife started grilling me about my due date. Was I sure I was only 16 weeks? I was very very pregnant looking. In fact, when I was out in public and would see women who looked comparably pregnant to me, they were always around seven months, while I was four.

She scheduled me for an ultrasound, because she had a hunch I was having twins. (Hunch is overstating it; I had several friends who were absolutely certain, just by looking at me. You haven’t lived til you’ve seen someone pregnant with twins. The sheer size of my belly was astounding.)

I called my mom. I said, “I think I’m pregnant with twins.”

She said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone thinks they’re pregnant with twins. Nobody ever is.” (She is about 66% right. Most pregnant women secretly harbor a wish for twins. Given all pregnancies, about 33% are twins, a number that includes reproductive assistance. The chance of having monozygotic or “identical” twins is 1 in 285.)

But, of course I was.

I was more distraught about leaving Plann*ed Parent*hood than I was about having twins. The Nurse Midwives there couldn’t continue to provide my care. Most legal midwives are unable to attend a twin birth. On top of that, Animal and Mineral were a little more complicated because they also had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome.

So, I was sent to a high risk OB and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist. I was in clinic with other moms of twins, triplets; drug users; and women with previous medical conditions.

The clinic wasn’t nearly as nice as the midwives had been. It was a typical medical clinical. The doctors were nice, but aloof. They really didn’t give a shit that I was a single mom of twins. They were focused on the TTTS, keeping me pregnant as long as possible, and making sure that Mineral was doing okay. I was focused on having a vaginal birth. Most women with twins give birth by cesarean surgery. As I was about to be a single mom of twins, I didn’t want to be a single mom of twins recovering from major abdominal surgery. I wasn’t as crunchy then as I am now. I didn’t really care about having an amazing birth experience — I just wanted an easy recovery.

I was induced with Cerv*adil at 34 weeks, when Mineral needed to come out. I had a fairly short labor and a relatively easy delivery — I was upright during my labor, thanks to my awesome doula, Gretchen Humphries, who gets most of the credit. As I mention often, Mineral came out first, and then my water broke with Animal, and his foot slid out. He came out a foot-first breech. It really was an important moment in my life — knowing that I can vaginally deliver a breech baby makes me believe I can do almost anything.

Of course, I went on to have The Informant at a Birth Center, and become a birth doula. I had My Masterpiece at home, in a birth pool in our bedroom, and then I became a childbirth educator, and a child passenger safety tech. And then — briefly — a student midwife and apprentice.

I support midwifery care. I love midwifery care. I believe midwifery care is superior to obstetric care — and the research backs me up.

I am very grateful to the midwives at Plann*ed Parent*hood for getting me started on that path.


2 Responses

  1. Beautiful. I love it. (((HUGS)))

  2. Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Christian, Satellite Direct Tv

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