"Authority over me"

My name is Danielle and this is my story.

In November of 2010 I found out I was pregnant with my second child. I knew at that moment that I wanted
things to be different from my first delivery. My first son was born by caesarean due to “complications” in the
delivery room after dilating to 8-9cm naturally. I felt as though I was bullied in the hospital by the staff and that I
backed down during the most monumental moment of my life. I was elated that I had a healthy baby boy but was
disappointed in the sequence of events. The recovery for the next few weeks was agonizing; I was helpless and
reliant on my husband and visiting mother for my needs and those of my baby. To this day, I do not understand why
some people would elect to have a caesarean over a vaginal birth.

With that being said during my second pregnancy, my husband and I started talking about our birth options. Before
I knew it, I was a few months pregnant and without a midwife. I was denied at Stony Plain due to my previous
caesarean. I remember filling out the applications and trying to down play my first birthing experience and
emphasizing on being a young healthy individual. It was a difficult time receiving rejection after rejection. I started
exploring my options without a midwife and hired a Doula. I visited a general physician a few times but knew that
this was not for me. It was cold, impersonal and I felt like they were just going through a checklist with me and
not addressing my needs. Then one day, I won the lottery and was able to buy a midwife. No, not really, but that
is what it felt like when I was accepted as a patient by Heidi. It was surreal. When my husband met her, he made
the comment of “she is not what I expected”. I asked him what he meant, he then proceeded to describe Heidi as a
young, fit, not a “hippy” and a woman who not only understood holistic approaches but also gave medical options
and explained the science behind the methods.

The next few months of pregnancy were filled with an excited anticipation. The relationship I formed with my
midwife was one of an old friend. During our appointments there was mutual trust and respect that I have not had
with a medical professional. Heidi’s enthusiasm when she would hear the baby’s heartbeat and feel it kick was
contagious. We were all excited about the plan to have a VBAC home birth. The choice of a home birth came
with a few concessions. Both my husband’s family and mine were kept in the dark except for one of my sisters.
The reason for this was that we both knew that they would not support our decision fully and did not want any
negativity around us. The comments you get when you are pregnant and planning on a homebirth from strangers
range from “are you crazy?” to “that’s great, my wife and I home birthed all our three kids”. The comments from a
family can be not as forgiving and as shortly dismissed.

My due date was around August 10th, I was never one to get caught up in the actual date. I was late with my first
son and my mother was also very late with most of her five children. It was, after all, just a estimated date. Also,
at this time my husband was finishing his Ph.D. thesis and putting in 16 hour days of writing to finish it before his
deadline on the 21st of August. Heidi and I always joked that the baby would come after he was done his thesis.

I started having light contractions in the morning of August 22nd. The next day I planned on using some evening
primrose and getting my membranes stripped but not after I tried using natural prostaglandins (aka sex). By mid
afternoon I called a friend to come by and pick up our two-year-old son. I called my Doula and she came around
six pm. At this time, I was laboring quietly in the bedroom downstairs relaxing through the contractions. When my
Doula arrived it was exciting but at the same time I felt that I needed to progress faster. I started walking around
and this got things moving very shortly. The contractions were coming on fast and the hip squeezing during the
contractions really helped me to get through to the next. We started filling the pool and I went in there to get more
comfortable. Within an hour of my Doula arriving I was feeling the urge to push and at this time an urgent call
was made to Heidi as the previous phone call consisted of things are going smoothly no need to rush. My Doula
coached me through how to help resist the urge of pushing by blowing up in the air, as if you were blowing hair out
of your eyes. This was a hard time for me. As it brought back memories, bad memories of my first labor with my
son and being told not to push. He was sunny side up and the urge to push with him was so great. I was told that
this was causing my cervix to swell before I was fully dilated and was told that I needed an epidural to relax or have
a caesarean; I ended up with both.

When Heidi arrived it was a huge relief to be able to give into the urge of pushing. Up to this point things went
easy, I transitioned rather well, despite biting my husbands jeans when I was contracting and nipping him a few
times (I found this out later). I pushed in the pool for a while and when things weren’t progressing I moved around
from room to room. Squatting, sitting on the toilet, hanging from my husband, hanging from the pedestal sink,
squatting some more, to the bed, and so on. After five hours of pushing and the baby’s head showing for over two
hours I was exhausted. I tried my hardest and at this point I wanted to know what my options were. All through
this time, there was no concern for the baby’s health. It had a strong heartbeat through out all of this. We all
decided that we should make our way to the hospital, which was a two-minute drive away. I proceeded with the
walking up the stairs, to the vehicle and then into the hospital with my baby’s head showing about a quarter size
stopping various times to push as the contractions came.

When I got to the hospital, my worst nightmares were relived. It was the subtle things such as the nurse walking up
to me and removing my husbands helping arm and taking mine, making me put on a robe, being told I need to get
an IV (which I refused), and lay down on the table, and not to drink any Gatorade or water between contractions.
I was furious at this point with the nurse as she kept on telling me to get on the table and lay down as if this was
easy for a woman with a baby’s head emerging from her. I somehow got up on the table in a standing position and
it felt right. I was told not to stand on the table and I could not give birth standing up. At this point I gave up on
the nurses demands and gave in to the contractions, pushing with all I had. The doctor came in and was washing
up when I announced to everyone I was crowning as I was standing up backwards on the table hanging from the
birth bar. What a sight. I don’t think anyone really believed me except for Heidi and my birthing team. She came
to my side (at this point I was no longer her patient and she was suppose to be hands off) and was getting ready to
catch the baby as no one else was coming to my aid. With one final push, the placenta ruptured and baby came
shooting out. I remember the doctor cutting the cord after Heidi told her I wanted delayed cord clamping. Another
disappointment. Low and behold it was a girl! I was in disbelief as I always thought it was going to be a boy and
questioned the doctor on it. Scarlet Loette was born on August 23rd, 2010 weighing in at 9lbs 2 oz after being in the
hospital in less than half an hour. Let it be known that a 5’1, 125lb woman can have a baby that weighs over 9lbs
vaginally, naturally, and after caesarian.

If I ever become pregnant again, I would not hesitate for a single moment on planning another home birth with
a midwife. It was an amazing experience to able to give into my body, in my own home, without anyone
having “authority over me”. Although my daughter was born in the hospital against what was planned, she was born
naturally and without any unnecessary interventions. I was able to feel the primitiveness of giving birth and with it
came the feelings of strength, respect, and courage for my own self.