08 February 2006

Homebirth Preparations

When I found out I was pregnant (due Sept. 1st... again), I resigned myself to the knowledge that this birth would probably be no different from the first. I had no options other than to use the same hospital, same conservative doctor, but hopefully renovated birthing suite. I called Jan, the midwife who taught our childbirth classes, to tell her the good news. We talked about Grace's birth and what I wanted out of this one. I jokingly told her the only way I could do better would be to do a homebirth, but it wasn't possible here. In a very elusive way, she mentioned that she'd be willing to help me out in that area.

To be a foreigner who is a doctor, nurse, midwife, etc., it is almost impossible to practice legally. They have to not only be trained and certified in their own country but also pass (in Thai!) the same exams here. Impossible. So Jan was working as a childbirth educator, doula, etc.. and when the occasion came along, catching a baby, too. She's an Australian nurse-midwife with years of experience there and in Korea.

I told her I wasn't sure homebirth was really for me. At 20 weeks along, I called her and said maybe I did want a homebirth because I was unhappy with all of the unnecessary ultrasounds and tests I had to do. She said that if I was still interested to give her a call at 32 weeks. My parents came for a visit, bringing an emergency homebirth kit with them. This was important to me because Grace's birth came so fast once I was in true labor. The difference was that we now live 1hr from the hospital on a good day, plus I was due during rainy season when our streets go completely under water. I would much rather give birth at home than in a filthy taxi if I didn't make it to the hospital!

At 34 weeks, I went to a BAMBI (Babies and Mothers of Bangkok International) meeting and heard Jan teaching new moms about labor pain management. I found myself nodding along, agreeing with everything she said, and realizing that truly, I could do this at home. I told her afterwards that Dayton wasn't convinced so it was a no-go at this point. One week later, after Dayton read a lot and realized it was a better choice, he agreed. I called Jan who wanted to meet with both of us to make sure Dayton wasn't being dragged into it all!

So at 36 weeks, I scheduled an appointment with her, followed by a regular prenatal appointment with my doctor. Dayton and I went, we talked about risks vs. benefits, she listened to the baby's heartbeat, checked for proteins in the urine, and we were done. We did not sign a contract because she was not legally providing services. We just supplied an indemnity agreement later on so she wouldn't be held liable if anything bad happened. And we agreed to not say anything about our homebirth to anyone that could get her in trouble and deported. What a sad thing that a country cannot recognize the need for improvements in their medical standards by allowing foreigners to practice... but that's a whole other post!

Next stop of that day, we went to see my doctor. Dayton was amazed that I could pee in a cup less than 30 minutes after I'd already peed in a cup for Jan. Hey, a pregnant woman can pee on demand!! After getting yet another ultrasound just to check heartbeat, I asked him if the baby was head down. He said he didn't want to make a mistake so used the U/S again! If Jan, a midwife of 30years can tell just by palpitation, yet a doctor of 30years cannot, that was it for us. We knew for sure then that a homebirth was what we definitely wanted. We never did tell the doctor our plans for a homebirth. He just assumed after the fact that it was an accident. We went home and started collecting our homebirth supplies. 2 rubbermaid tubs full of towels, sheets, chux pads, blankets, etc. I had fun!

The next post... Isaiah's birth


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