We recently featured a post about a beautifully photographed home water birth that ended up with the baby rushed to the NICU and the mother following shortly behind. The post was hotly debated on our Facebook page. Now, the mother, Ashley Martin, is sharing her side of the story on her blog, Mom to Five.
It has taken me over a year to fully understand my home birth experience. Zinn is now 16 months — walking and running — babbling — typical toddler! I've had a lot of time to just sit down and think about my birth. The biggest part was finally getting my medical records from my pregnancy, labor, and birth with him. That was the missing link in my healing process. It took me months to get them — complete with melt downs, tears, emails, house visits, phone calls — but I got them.
On Dec. 2nd, 2014, my photographs from my home birth were released for the world to see. Along with those photos? My birth photographers perspective on my birth. Yes, yes, yes! I gave permission for her to release them. I didn't know what she was going to write. I thought long and hard before letting her release them — I knew it would create a stir. I wanted her to have the spotlight though because she's very talented and wish the best for her. My original plan was to not engage in ANY of the comments. But that didn't last long before I was sucked into them. And before I knew it, I found other amazing moms who felt like I did.
I am NOT happy with how my home birth went. It was awful. Horrifying. Scary. Traumatic. Worst day of my life is a huge understatement.
My baby almost died. I almost died.
I did not walk away from my birth feeling like a 'birth warrior.' Multiple people at my birth kept calling me that. I did not walk away feeling empowered or womanly. No one at my birth was a hero. I was not brave.
I was misled, lied too, and manipulated. Informed consent? Hah. I wish.
I left my birth feeling broken, beaten down, cheated. I felt like no one there really cared about the most important thing: my child's safety and well-being.
I went into my home birth wanting that picture perfect birth — just like all the other home birth photos showed. I wanted to be that pretty momma — laughing during labor — sitting in the pool looking glamorous and happy. I really thought I was doing the best thing for my baby. I was told that it was safe. That I was low-risk. Nothing bad could happen because we TRUST birth. And if something was to come up, we would know about it hours before — plenty of time to get to the hospital! I did everything right!
- Have a home birth! Check!
- Go to the chiropractor! Check!
- Hire a doula! Check!
- Eat healthy. Take herbal supplements. Check!
- Do Spinning Babies every day. Check!
- TRUST BIRTH! Check!
I had concerns the last month that were brushed off. I was told and taught to 'trust birth,' 'trust your body,' and 'your body can't grow a baby too big!'
My labor was rough. I cried through most of it. Might have screamed and yelled some. I can't remember. I remember the pain of the contractions and how I just wanted it to be over with.
My baby was born in the brow presentation and he also had shoulder dystocia. It was not a pretty birth. It was not glamorous. My bathroom floor was flooded with meconium stained water and baby poop. My baby was born lifeless and limp. It took them almost nine minutes to get him out of me. During all of this — I had NO idea what was going on. I had no idea he was stuck and that this was an emergency. No one was monitoring my vitals or his. No one was trained for this type of emergency. FUNDAL PRESSURE was used on me. 911 was not called until he was a minute old. The first thing that was said, "There is no heartbeat, I don't hear a heartbeat." Then the next thing was, "Listen HARDER!"
He was taken from my bathroom into the ambulance when he was six minutes old. Weak pulse, still limp and lifeless, still not breathing. I didn't know how he was until several hours later.
Yes, my son is okay today. He's a fireball. A burst of crazy energy. Drives us insane, but always has us laughing. No, I will not continue to think everything went okay and no, I will not just 'get over it.'
But just because my son is okay, does NOT mean that my home birth was okay. Or that anyone at my birth was a hero. No one saved my baby. No one saved his life. They only RISKED his life.
My biggest regret in life? Being at home for birth. There is not a day that goes by that I do not thank my lucky stars for him being here.
You may see those laughing mamas in labor at home — all those smiles at their home birth — but when things go wrong, it goes downhill REALLY quickly. You might be 'low risk' one second and 'high risk' the next second. And that oxygen tank? It won't get you very far. You are not just 'down the hall' from an operating room. You don't have a neonatologist in the next room. You honestly don't have anyone qualified for an emergency next to you.
I have nightmares about my birth. I think about it constantly. It consumes me. It has changed who I am as a person. I was told that my 'weak pelvic floor' caused everything to go south during my labor. Now I'm left with the added guilt of my own body causing his horrific birth. I saw the ugly side of birth. I was part of an ugly statistic that someone has to be. We shouldn't trust birth, we should respect it.
"Brow presentation is the least common of all fetal presentations and the incidence varies from 1 in 500 deliveries to 1 in 1400 deliveries."
"The incidence of shoulder dystocia is generally reported to be between 0.5 % and 1.5% with scattered reports listing values both higher and lower."
I am constantly having to remind myself that my body did NOT fail me. My body is okay. Birth is just about luck — making sure all the stars align perfectly.
I wanted a fairy tale — picture perfect birth. I invested thousands of dollars into it — along with hundreds and hundreds of dollars into a photographer — and I walked away feeling like a failure. When trying to reach out to other moms, I get told to stop fear mongering or using scare tactics. I get banned or shunned in a community that I used to believe in and fight for. I won't stop talking or warning others though. I don't want another person to make the same mistake I did.
Birth Stats: 9 lbs 14.5 oz and 22.5 inches long
I almost had that fairy tale birth . . . .
But I didn't . . .
Here's the picture I was looking at, while at home, separated from my baby. This photo is referenced in the PopSugar [post]. I've had numerous people tell me that he looks like a stillborn baby here.
Instead we landed ourselves in the NICU . . . surrounded by amazing doctors and nurses and staff. These were the people that picked up the pieces of my birth. They cared about his well-being and health. They were the ones by his side 24 hours a day. They were the ones comforting ME and letting me CRY on their shoulders. They are the true heroes here.
I do not want to be the poster girl for home birth. Please don't make the same mistake I did.
I'm so glad he's here.