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  • Alexis Aduba

The Birth of Isabel - a home birth transfer story

March 2, 2023 12:51AM “Hi all, just want to give you a heads up - I just had my bloody show and am having contractions lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute but about 10 minutes apart.” - 1st time momma Alexis.

This was how it all began (the labor at least.) Exactly 1 year ago today I went into labor for the first time in my life. My girl Isabel came into this world on her own time. She was due Feb. 20th and for 2 torturous weeks after we waited. I went into labor mid-night March 2nd, which truly made it feel like late-evening March 1st. This is important (to me at least) to understand some of my future motivations and decision making. Let’s just say, time is a POWERFUL thing.

Immediately, I called my Midwife Hannah (who is truly like an angel from heaven (1 year later and I still feel this way.)) It must be true! My husband Elliot and I were in bed, obviously, as it was midnight and just as frantic as you’d expect 2 new parents on the eve of their child’s birth. We had been waiting for this moment for more than 9 months. I have never anticipated more for anything in my life. All of our research, planning, changes in diet, doctor’s appointments, doula sessions, midwifery appointments, baby purchases, pre-natal vitamins, etc. It was all for this moment. Like the crescendo of all crescendos!

But I digress…We called Hannah, who saint like that she is gave us the following advice (which if ever there were a foreshadowing to a climactic turn of events) it was this: “Hey birth team!!! Hope everyone can get some good rest - ! Keep us posted Alexis!! Stay hydrated! Yeah!!!” - Hannah (the angel of a Midwife)

Well… then we called the doula. To make a very long story short - the doula was not the support I would have liked. She came late and left me in the middle of my labor after absolutely exhausting me for hours with unnecessary workouts.

As new moms we are thrown so much advice from so many different directions that it can be absolutely overwhelming. As much as I regret my experience with my doula I cannot speak more highly of my experience with Hannah. She took the reigns, and once again I felt safe and supported.

She was at every one of my prenatal appointments on-time and to be honest some times early. She came to my home on Sundays which was so nice, in that I never had to take off work to meet with her and I never felt rushed. I had so much anxiety going into motherhood, that at times I quite literally felt like I was drowning. Hannah was my life-support. She was honest and kind and so patient. She taught me to trust my instincts, she truly listened to me, she gave advice but never infantilized me. This was my first birth not my first birth day lol.

However, after over 24 hours in labor, I was exhausted. It was time to head to the hospital for (what I was hoping would be) light intervention. As empowered as I felt - yes, I decided to transfer to the hospital. I feel lucky that it was not a medically induced transfer and that in the long run I got to spend a good portion of my labor at home. But I knew my limits and in my 34 plus years of life I had never gone more than 2 days without sleep. Hannah supported me in this decision as well. Though I think she really thought I could have done it at home. Looking back, I think she might have been right. But it was my decision and hind-sight is always 20/20 lol.

She not only supported me - she called the hospital ahead, made sure they had a room for me, warned me about what to expect with the car ride- while pregnant (think huge explosive packed into a tiny compact, bumpy speed-racer lol), and was on the phone with me during each step of the process at the hospital. Please, do not underestimate the power of this kind of support. I know I did before (hoping to have a home birth), but looking back - Hannah’s support is totally what saved me. She texted me regularly, drew diagrams and texted them to me and my husband Elliot, she called and explained to us what certain interventions were and what the risks and benefits were of each. She was a fountain of knowledge and another reminder to the hospital folks that I was NOT alone.

There were so many decisions that the hospital threw at me (with the little to no explanation of the risks and/ or benefits associated with them.) The questions were thrown fast, and my decisions were challenged almost constantly. I was a low-risk pregnancy - whose only reason for coming to the hospital was for 1 intervention (the epidural) and from the moment I was on the bed I was treated like a sick patient being offered the kitchen sink of medical interventions.

Who I was, or what I wanted truly seemed unimportant. They had a routine and I (along with my mighty Midwife and husband) were throwing a wrench in it. I even had a mighty nurse at the hospital who whispered to me to “keep advocating for yourself.” So I absolutely cannot say the hospital was all bad.

Further, all this is not to say that every intervention was arbitrary or that every decision was challenged but having gone to law school and having worked in the legal and compliance field for years - I still felt hesitant advocating for myself in this environment. This should not be the case. Child-birth is not a sickness and I was not a high-risk patient. Many of the interventions were for such remote risks and had the very likely potential of introducing new and higher risks to me and my baby. I truly felt like the primary risk they were mitigating against was that I would leave without having incurred a high enough bill and/or that all legal liability was eradicated - this all at the expense of the best interest of me and my daughter.

All of the interventions I decided against (the big one being the c-section) ended up being in my best interest. The hospital tried to convince me that because I had signed some kind of consent form that, that gave them free reign over my body despite my present-time, fully competent and rational requests against a c-section. And actually to be clear, this was the night-shift doctors. This should not matter but my husband and I (even in our short time spent there) very early realized that the night-shift doctors were much more aggressive and insistent on the interventions. This is important because the only way I was able to get out of the c-section debate (in which my wishes were never truly was accepted) was by literally waiting them out. I had to promise the doctor that I’d reconsider at a time I knew her shift would be over.

Can I tell you, I have never seen someone leave a conversation more deflated lol. It was like the most perverse game of chess, in that it felt like she was playing a game with my life. She had a team of trainee doctors ( I know there is a name for this but it escapes me) and I think she felt she had something to prove. I hope they all learned a lesson that day.

Finally the night doctors left and I could feel a wave of stress leave my body. It was me and MY team again, unmuffled by the iron fist of the night shift. I still had to advocate my wants but they were actually considered and ultimately abided by the day-shift. Many times they even admitted after-the-fact that I was right and actually did not need the intervention they had previously suggested.

THIS is real healthcare. Admitting when you are wrong, is absolutely something they did not have to do. Nor did it benefit them at all. But they (morning shift doctor) did it any way. And I am forever, grateful for that. It really empowered me to know that I was not crazy and that I was right to speak up. It wasn’t just me or my team’s biased opinions. It also renewed a bit of my faith in the system. Ultimately, it was a whirlwind though.

I don’t know if all hospitals are like this (honestly I hope not for the sake of all the mommas) but this was a lot of stress. In the moments when I needed to be strong (when my baby-girl needed me to be) I was SO strong, but the entire time I was so scared and just really would have loved to experience those moments without all the fear, anxiety, research, texts, phone calls, debate, advocacy, etc. But that was not my story. I will forever cherish what that struggle brought me. Motherhood, childbirth, pregnancy, YOU Isabel have changed my life. If I am being 100% honest, I did not completely know how much at the time -but my precious daughter was totally worth it.

After 3 days in labor they finally told me I could push. I was elated. And for 20 minutes I pushed, like I had never done anything more important in my life and in a blink of an eye you were here. You had sooo much hair, everyone was so shocked except me ( I knew if there was even .00001 truth to the myth that hairy babies cause heartburn then you would be hairy like Chewbacca.)

They laid you on my chest and with the last bit of energy I could muster I said ‘I love you.’ And with all that you had inside you, you pooed on me lol. I didn’t even notice until they had already cleaned it, and to be honest I was just happy it didn’t happen before you came out. But giving birth to you was one of the best moments of my life. From that day on I lived in a cozy, majestical love bubble. Certainly, I was still exhausted being a new Mom but I was so in love. I am so in love.

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