My First Home Birth: the First Trimester
My first trimester was wearisome. As far as the pregnancy went, there were no concerns. With my doppler at home I was able to hear the baby's heart beat fill the room like music, a true blessing. I have heard so many fierce and brisk heart rates through that same doppler and each time it feels miraculous. This time, hearing my own baby in my own belly for the very first time, was unworldly and indescribable. For Xander's health throughout my pregnancy I know that I am blessed.
At the same time, I struggled in a few directions during the first trimester of my pregnancy. I knew that I would be planning a home birth but I did not know who I would be hiring to be my midwife. I wanted to get bloodwork done in my first trimester and I was not sure that I would have a midwife in that time. I scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN I had seen once prior to pregnancy so they could order the labs for me. When I went in I was 6 weeks pregnant. The nurse that came in to take my vitals chastised me for not having an ultrasound yet to ensure it was a viable pregnancy for me. When she said that I was taken aback… speechless. When she left the room it was all I could think about. I thought about how I am a woman. I thought about how God made my body with the ability to make babies. I knew that many women struggle with fertility, I knew the statistics about miscarriages, and my heart goes out to those who struggle with both. In that instant I was heart broken that from the first appointment, a medical professional wanted to suggest that my body was not capable of doing what it was made for. When the doctor was in the room I mentioned planning a home birth. As soon as I mentioned out of hospital care the doctor turned to ice. He left the room and had me change into a gown. I wasn’t sure why but I followed the instruction. He returned to the room a few moments later and shut the door behind him. Without speaking he approached me and reached his arms around me to grasp the strings that held my gown together at the back of my neck. He proceeded to untie the knot I had secured and pull the front of the gown down. My hands immediately went to where the gown opened at my neck and I leaned back and asked what he was doing. He told me he would be doing a breast exam as it was routine practice. There hadn’t been any mention of the exam before he attempted undressing me without my consent. I told him that I would not be consenting to a breast exam but that I knew how to perform one on myself. He wrapped the visit up abruptly and on the way out the door he told me, “Don’t come to my hospital when you and/or your baby is dying because you chose to have a home birth”. As soon as those words left his mouth my eyes swelled with tears and I felt ill. I left the office trembling, furious and disgusted. I called my mom and then I called Rob. I spewed word vomit over the phone displaying how dehumanized and violated I felt. I vowed not to return to that office. Or the hospital he worked at.
The nausea I felt throughout the first trimester was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It was incessant and miserable. Being a midwife myself, I tried all of the tips and tricks I had passed to mothers and it seemed none of them worked. Early in my pregnancy I woke in middle of the night with the urge to puke. On my way to the bathroom I passed out and injured my knee falling down. I'm not sure what happened but when I regained my consciousness, I couldn't straighten my knee. I then spent a couple months in a wheelchair and on crutches. I couldn't eat or walk and I had never felt more incapable.
I was struggling mentally with the first trimester symptoms, the handicap of a bum knee, and the turmoil of being on the professional side of a traumatic birth. In spite of that there were some beautiful parts of the first trimester.
I spent almost a week traveling in Las Vegas with my parents, extended family, and close friends. I experienced the casinos for the first time, ate some excellent food, visited the Valley of Fire in Nevada as well as the Grand Canyon. This trip is one that my parents planned to take for many years. My grandpa had taken my mom to Las Vegas when she turned 21 and she did the same for my brother and me. This trip was long anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed.
In addition to seeing new places and experiencing new excursions on the other side of the country, I also met three out of four of my beautiful step daughters for the first time during my first trimester. I brought Ozzy, our family dog, as an ice breaker (mostly because I was terrified to meet the 3 out of 4 of the most important ladies in Rob's life). I knew that the introduction was huge, that's why we waited so long. I also knew that there was a possibility that the girls wouldn't be comfortable with me and I wasn't sure how that would affect Rob and my relationship. Natalie, the oldest and 9 at the time, was visibly excited and obviously the social butterfly of the bunch. She asked me all kinds of questions like what my favorite color was, my favorite animal, all sorts of important things to know when you first meet someone. Elaine, 8 years old when we met, was a bit more reserved. She listened with anticipation as Natalie rapid fired her questions. As the meeting went on Laine opened up when I mentioned horses and started asking me a bit more about that. Grace, 3 at the time, was a bit more interested in the playground than she was in meeting me. Which is fair, it was a pretty cool playground. Every now and then she would pause her activities to repeat one of the questions Natalie had already asked. She was very excited that we shared pink as our favorite color. I was trepidatious to meet these three beautiful girls and I had no idea how much I would grow to care about and love them.