Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Step in the Right Direction

(Alternately titled: The Dream is Still Alive)

Justin and I got up at 6 am (very early for a couple of people who very rarely go to bed before midnight or get up before 8:30/9) this past Wednesday morning to hit the road to Bozeman. We had two appointments to make before heading back to Helena in time for Justin to be at work by 2 pm. Two very important appointments with two different midwives at two separate birthing centers – because I haven’t given up yet on my goal of an out-of-hospitalbirth.
I mentioned before that there are currently no midwives in my town that will deliver at home. There are midwives in neighboring towns that are willing to travel to Helena to attend a birth, but my husband has never been super thrilled with the idea, and frankly, considering we’re due in December in Montana, it sounds less than ideal to me, too. December typically isn’t a very severe storm month, but you just never know. And when the roads around here are bad, they’re just plain nasty. So when the idea first came up that we drive to Bozeman to deliver in a birth center, I was pretty quick to dismiss it. Justin, however, was surprisingly ok with the prospect. I gave him a hard time. “So, you’re worried that a midwife might not make it to Helena because of bad roads, but you want to drive your laboring wife an hour and a half to Bozeman??”
“Yeah,” he said with a shrug.
So I thought about it. And I met up with a girlfriend who just delivered a beautiful baby girl in one of the birth centers in Bozeman. Her water birth story was beautiful. “A labor that had more hours than a marathon has miles,” as her adoring husband put it, and she had been a warrior. And the midwife and birth team sounded like exactly what I was looking for. “But,” I told myself, “Mary was due in August.” Despite the fact that my timing was presenting a slightly larger challenge, I decided that at the very least I wanted to meet the midwives. See the birth centers. Ask as many questions as I could think of. And I wanted Justin to go, too. So I got lucky, was able to make two appointments for the same morning, and if all went well, Justin wouldn’t have to miss work.
The drive was gorgeous. Can I just tell you, I love my state. Driving east into the sunrise sits at the top of my list of Best Ways to Start a Day.
We got to Bozeman in an hour and twenty minutes – really good time. The road construction is easing up for the year (people often say of Montana that it has two seasons: winter and road construction) and we were lucky never to get stuck behind a tractor or one of the many other kinds of farming equipment that often travel along that road. We even had time for Justin to get a second cup o’ joe in Bozeman before we headed to our first appointment at The Birth Center.
What a serene environment! Something like a yoga studio or good day spa, but instead of a massage table and steam room you find a birthing tub and a European stall shower with a fold down bench large enough to house mom, dad, midwife, and doula. The staff was warm and welcoming, and all in all The Birth Center felt like a dream birthing environment. Mikelann, the main midwife in the practice, met with us and did a brief “meet the baby” exam. She was able to tell me exactly how he was situated just by prodding at my belly. It was really neat being able to follow her hands and know, “This is my son’s head, this is his butt – he he – there are his feet.” So cool.
Unfortunately, there were some major concerns about whether or not our insurance would cover the (flat rate and very reasonable!) fee at The Birth Center and, reasonable though it was, it represents a much larger amount out of pocket for us then we would be paying in a hospital setting.
A little unsure  of ourselves and our options (did we have any?), we left with time for a quick breakfast (Main St. Overeasy – yummy!) before heading over to The Birth Place to meet Stacey. We took the tour – another glorious birthing suite with a wonderfully large birthing tub. A much smaller shower, but really, I don’t imagine myself spending too much time in there when there is a tub available. Another round of questions. Another run down of what’s and how to’s.
But the the thing worth mentioning about The Birth Place is Stacey herself. Her demeanor immediately put both of us at ease. When Justin had financial questions (my ever so practical husband worries about these things pretty constantly) she answered them directly and professionally. We run a test claim – simple as that – to see what the insurance will cover, and we go from there.
And then something really amazing happened. She asked me to describe my ideal birth story. At first, I was stumped. I knew a lot about what I didn’t want, but hadn’t thought much about what I did want. I sputtered out an answer about wanting to allow my body to do what I trust it to be capable of doing. That’s all I could think of. I just want to let my body do what it has to. But as she commented on the wisdom of that plan, it hit me. No. There is something I want. Desperately. Something I had been clinging to but was almost afraid to talk about until now. I had been protecting it, holding it close so no one could take it from me. I want to hold my baby. Right away. I want him on my chest and I want to keep him there. I don’t want anyone to take him from me to weigh our measure our otherwise test. As I told Stacey this, I started to cry. Even now, I am tearing up a bit. The thought of that moment – the promise of the feel of my son’s skin against my own – is the one that is going to get me through these last few months and the trials of labor. I need it, and so does he. I wept a little as Stacey told me that, as long as baby is doing well, she guards that time fiercely. For as long as it takes for him to initiate breast feeding, which he should do instinctively if we let him.
And with that, I was sold.
We left The Birth Place knowing we would try to figure out a way to have our son there.
There are logistical details to be worked out, to be sure. But we will work them out. After knowing what I can have, there is no way I’m going back.

The picture is from a little over two weeks ago - I was 24 weeks at the time. Trying to be better about posting belly pictures!


  1. beautifully said. as always. that picture, those could be my hands and arms, my belly holding you :-) love your mom.