Friday, December 13, 2013
Midwives, Milk, and a Stable
We’ve gotten some interesting responses to the fact that we had a homebirth almost 3 weeks ago. I think a lot of people have just been very surprised we would choose that route. Homebirth accounts for only a small percentage of births in the U.S. although in Europe it is much more commonplace. Without going into tons of details and citing research that supports the idea that homebirth is a very safe choice for low risk mothers, I will say that our choice was made with much prayer. I have now had four very low risk, textbook pregnancies and births. I had a team of highly qualified midwives who have tackled every emergency situation and never lost a mom or baby. The hospital setting was just not for me and thankfully Ricardo (while initially apprehensive) supported me in that decision. T. was actually born outside a hospital as well in a local birthing center. To anyone who has indicated they thought we were nuts, I simply stated that as Christians we seek to follow after Jesus. Had Jesus been born in his hometown, he surely would have been born at home. Instead he was born in a stable. If a stable was good enough for Jesus, our safe, warm, cozy home was good enough for baby I. ; )
A few days after I. was born I was able to do something very special which elevated my amazing midwives to an even higher state of awesomeness. A little back story: Almost 8 years ago when I gave birth to J. I had an incredibly difficult time breastfeeding. My milk supply suffered after a number of interventions with my birth and complications after it. I made an appointment with my obstetrician to discuss if there was a prescription I could take (one exists) to help increase my milk supply. Her response was basically along the lines of this, “Well some women just don’t make enough milk for their babies and they have to accept that. You are just one of those women”. I was crushed. She did end up being wrong and with much perseverance and patience I was able to stop supplementing with formula after a few months. Still her words crushed my spirit. For many mothers, the ability to fully nourish their babies is closely connected to their overall wellbeing and feeling of adequacy as a mother.
When I. was only 5 days old I got a call from one of my midwives that a mother had given birth a few days after me and was unable to breastfeed her baby for a number of reasons. She was working on getting him to nurse and would be working with a professional lactation consultant, but in the meantime the baby was extremely hungry. She wanted to know if I could pump some milk for him. Of course I said yes. I’ve donated milk in the past to a mother who couldn’t fully nurse her baby. This particular situation became so near to my heart because of how I was treated when I found myself in the same situation 8 years ago. Instead of telling this mom that she needed to just resign herself to bottle feeding her baby, my midwife team made another choice, one that to me showed their true understanding of a mother’s fragile emotional state post partum.
Midwives have always had a reputation of making choices that go against the status quo, but are in the best interest of mothers and babies. In the bible midwives are held in high regard in Exodus for deceptively telling the king of Egypt they couldn’t carry out his edict to kill every baby boy born to a Hebrew mother because the mothers delivered before they could get there.
“But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.” Exodus 1:17
For my midwives to hook up two moms for a modern day wet nurse scenario is completely A-typical, but that’s what makes them so special. It further confirms my decision to choose them for my prenatal care and birth. Little did they know they also gave us a connection with another family who have a newborn baby. We text each other at 3 am to share updates. They are equally sleep deprived. We share a pretty cool bond. I’m so thankful for how I. came into the world.