BIRTH STORY PART 4 – Our Fate is Changed

Some time around 12:30 am, on July 5th, Marinah decided to do an internal exam. (I believe she had done one other internal exam a bit earlier as well). I remember lying on my back on the bed as she said something to the effect of “Ok, now I’m just going to stay here while you have your next contraction. Just try to relax”. All I could think was “I shouldn’t be on my back. Supine position is the worst position during labor!” After my contraction, she softly asked Shell to do the same and examine me during a contraction. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Marinah was wanting a second opinion about Kaia’s positioning. Finally, Marinah looked me and Jason in the eyes, and touching my knee said “I have some news to tell you……your baby is breech.” She paused as she read our expressions. I think we both took a breath and said “OK….” I know in my mind I processed it quickly and thought “No big deal, we can do this. I’ve read about many breech homebirths.” Jason later confirmed that he had a similar thought. But then Marinah realized that we didn’t quite understand and slowly said “…but this baby cannot be born at home”. As I remember looking at her and Shell as tears welled in my eyes. I shook my head and repeated “No…no…no”. Marinah later said that Jason just turned as white as a sheet. We both knew now what this meant…our worst fear…something we had not prepared for, not wanted, desperately tried to avoid…a hospital birth.
While Marinah went on to gently explain that it is against the law for midwives in AZ to deliver breech babies at home. I could tell in her voice that she was as disappointed as me, and that it was hard to relay this message. I knew that she wanted to deliver this baby at home as much as I did. I could tell that, like us, she was struggling internally with what this meant. But she had to adhere to the law – however unfair it was – to uphold her licensure as a midwife. Months ago, when Marinah asked me what my biggest fear in childbirth was I had said “Having to go to the hospital”. She responded “But If I tell you I think you need to go, will you?” I confidently said “Yes, absolutely.” I knew I had to stick by my promise. I had put my trust in her. Marinah told us that her next step was to call around for doctor’s who would deliver a breech baby vaginally, as she knew how important that was to us. As she got up to begin making her quick phone calls, Shell rubbed my shaking legs and reassured us that we were going to be strong, and that everything was going to be fine. Initially, Marinah was going to call an ambulance to pick us up. I became scared and asked who would be able to come with me. I envisioned being inside this “mobile hospital”, with IV’s and an oxygen mask and strangers telling me what to do. I was so scared. Quickly afterwards, Marinah said that the birth team would transport me instead. We waited for a few minutes until we heard Marinah say “Let’s go”.
In a matter of moments, the energy in the room had swiftly shifted from energy full of passion and love to something else. We had been “high” on this birth energy and now it was now more frantic and full of questions. For me, there was fear for the first time – for the first time in my entire pregnancy. I had no idea what to expect next. Someone helped me into a skirt and shirt and supported me on a difficult short walk to Shell’s SUV. Here I was, smack in the middle of labor, focused and concentrated on welcoming our baby girl. Suddenly, I have to ask my body to stop and wait. It took an enormous amount of effort, in fact, more effort that I had experienced that entire night. Marinah quickly went to the apartment a few doors down which had turned into the “waiting room” for our family. She filled them in and told them she’d call them once we got to the hospital. My Mom wandered out and I wanted her to see I was okay. Our friend Theresa and her daughter Ember followed us to the hospital.
I looked out across the night sky, littered with stars. I hadn’t seen one firework that night – I was too caught up in welcoming our own little firework. I remember taking a few deep breaths as I gathered strength for the next unexpected turn in our journey. I was helped into the truck, sitting next to Jason, as our birth team climbed in and took off.
The ride to the hospital was surreal. We hardly said a word. I think each of us individually was working through the emotions that came with the hospital transport. Jason rubbed my belly until Marinah quickly and sharply (for Marinah, at least) said “Oh, don’t rub her belly. It could stimulate contractions.” Marinah had told me to work through the contractions gently, but not to fight them. I leaned my head against the window and focused on breathing very gently through the few contractions I had during the ride. I softly said the words “gentle…” as I breathed. I repeated “Wait, baby, wait” over and over. It was so difficult. I really thought I might have the baby right there in the truck. Evidently, the thought had crossed the minds of the others, as I noticed that Shell had laid the very back seats of the truck down flat, just in case! A million thoughts raced through my mind as we made the 25 minute journey to Good Samaritan hospital. Although there was a hospital within 5 minutes of Taliesin, the doctor willing to deliver our baby vaginally was located further. As we got closer, Marinah began to debrief me on what to expect at the hospital. I would probably be on an IV and an electronic fetal monitor. “If they ask when your water broke, tell them around 6:30 pm. Expect the doctor to recommend a C-section. Ask them what your options are and tell them what you want.” I tried hard to memorize everything she was telling me, because I knew what was underlying our situation– we were going to have to fight for our rights once we got there. Midwives experience an array of politics when transporting to a hospital. They have to struggle to earn respect for both themselves and their clients. I wanted to be a perfect client. I wanted everyone to be proud of me. If I were going to be a “transport”, I was going to do this right. I thought of all of the stories that I’d heard in which women were transported and allowed themselves to be taken advantage of. I thought of how I’d looked down upon those women and wished they could have been stronger. I didn’t want to be one of them…but I wasn’t sure that I could even muster the strength. I continued to talk to Kaia, asking her to be patient and wait. Just as my body had shown it’s miraculous ways during labor, it began to comply with my current requests to wait. By the time we arrived at the hospital, any sign of labor in my body was gone. In a way, I was saddened by this. I wasn’t sure how I had willed my body, or how Kaia had willed herself, to pause. I wanted to be back at home, in full-on labor again. Once we pulled into the parking garage, my memory became lost in a sea of people, things, and thoughts.


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