The grapes gave me hope that we were entering into the promises the Lord had for this coming birth, yet I was still waiting on Devin to have the same peace.
That same evening, our doctor stopped by for his initial meeting with us.
He came over with a very casual, straight of the kibbutz sort of look, and he was much more quiet in his demenor than I expected. Carly had described him as a "caring and grandfatherly" and I found that to fit.
We started our meeting sort of getting to know each other. He shared a little about his professional history, and why he left the hosptial to develop a homebirth practice. Basically, it amounted to no longer wanting to practice out of fear of his patient. The liability concerns in risk-based obstetrics led to some ethical concerns on his part, such as not desiring to implement unnecessary procedures if a mother or baby did not really need them. Also, well studied in the physiology of birth, he believed strongly that women birth best where they feel most safe and secure, whether that's at home, a birthing center, or a hospital. His desire was to make home a more available option for women who wanted to be home.
He also asked us some about about why we were thinking of a homebirth.
For me, I was coming to this decision from a positive place, rather than negative. Aviel's hosptial birth was a great experience for me. I did not fear the hospital or feel that I had been mistreated in anyway, although, I could not deny the reality that the two small interventions I had were based on hospital policy and not what my body actually needed to birth the baby. My acceptance of that was simply based on fact, not on any anger or disappointment. Also, however, I knew that I labored so well at home. It was a loving and safe feeling environment and my labor progressed really quickly. It all went so well, that I often wondered how it would have been to have simply stayed, rather than changing locations! This time, I wanted to keep that same peace flowing from beginning to end, to have my team join me, rather than changing locations while my hormones were flowing, and then come under a clock again. On top of that, I had also experienced an intense year of testing for Cushing's Disease, even a brain surgery. I really just did not want to be in the hosptial any more!
I was blessed that the doctor did not fear my medical history, whether after learning about my recent surgery, or the Gestational Diabetes.
We talked through what GD meant in regards of a pregnancy and birth, particularly at home, and he looked over my sugar charts. We decided to submit my weekly records to him and decide in a few weeks time if I seemed to be managing well enough for a birth at home.
The doctor left, giving me a some reading from Active Birth by Janet Balaskas about the physiology of birth, and based on the reading, I did some further study on articles by Michal Odent.
I'm not sure exactly when it was that Devin got fully on board, but he did feel very comfortable with the doctor after our visit. It was several more weeks before we would nail down a decision for sure though, as we were watching my sugar. Eventually, the we reached a point where I knew I needed to have an official answer for the sake of my emotional and mental preparation. The doctor felt I was managing well, so we made a commitment.
That decision was confirmed a few days later, when a friend graciously donated to cost of our homebirth. As we skyped, she shared, "A few weeks ago, the Lord gave us a specific amount of money to give to you for your birth. We wanted to wait until you had decided so that it wouldn't influence your choice. And I don't really know why it was this amount, because I know it doesn't cover the full cost, but this is what He led."
When she told me how much they had decided to give, I was awed by God's goodness. Around this time, I had been working on a graphic design project and decided to commit my earning to our homebirth. The amount my friend heard to give was exactly - to the shekel - the difference we needed to cover the expense. If she had given the full amount, I would not have seen the Lord's handiwork so clearly behind this entire decision!
So there are grapes, and there are giants. Next, we faced a doozy of a Goliath.
The Ob/gyn I had been seeing through our kupat cholim (insurance clinic), had been on vacation for the last month, which spaced out my pre-natal care with him a little more than what is preferred. During that time, I had strong reason to believe the baby was head up. My tummy was much more uncomfortable than I remembered with Aviel. I could feel a big bulge right under my rib cage that I thought to be her head. Sure enough, when we had our 5 minute long appointment at 36 weeks, plus a few days, the Kupat Ob/gyn confirmed that our baby was head up, my water was low, and he believed her to be very small for her gestational age. He gave us a hafnaya (order) to go the emergency room at the hospital for further testing.
While it was all a bit distressing, I had a peace because the Lord had granted me a promise from scripture during that same time.
So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. Acts 27:25
I trusted that He was leading this way, and we would defeat the giants, for His glory.
We went in the next morning for further testing. She was measuring small, but not as small as the other doctor presumed. Personally, I was not worried, because, well, at 5'2", I'm small! The staff was rather discouraging about the possibility of being able to turn her, though, due to my low water levels.
We called our homebirth doctor once we arrived home, and he was very calm about the entire situation. He recommended that we contact a colleague who had a great record, a world record, actually, for turning babies for a second opinion. Meanwhile, I did spinning babies exercises, ate tortilla chips, and drank coconut water, to help increase my water levels, and get the baby moving. I also spent a lot of time praying for her, and really believed I heard the Lord say that she had not turned because she was fearful! I prayed against a spirit of fear, and you know what, that little girl is one brave toddler today! She's also a bit of a gymnast who loves to do flips! I look forward to seeing the long term fruit of those prayers in the future!
We made an appointment for our External Cephalic Version (ECV), a few days later, since my reading suggested that it was most successful at 37 weeks, exactly where I was at the time.
I went into the hosptial, met with the doctor, who told me "drink a lot of water and do not pee" before sending me on to an ultra sound. The baby had moved about 45 degrees from the spinning babies exercises, but was still well breech. My water was lower that what I read online that most doctors look for, so I fully expected him to say it wasn't even worth trying. I was surprised, however, when he said, "Its a little low, but it either works, or it doesn't!" He was totally willing to try.
An ECV isn't as earthy as it might sound, someone using their hands to manually re-position your baby. Its a full on medical intervention. I was connected to a monitor and given a muscle relaxer. The doctor told me I'd probably feel nervous as a side-effect. That was an understatement. I remember laying there overcome with fear about whether or not this was the right choice. Devin was extremely reassuring and reminded me that some of my nervousness really was a side effect of the meds. The doctor came in, and distracted me with conversation.
"When did you have your appendix removed?" he asked noticing a scar on my tummy.
"My appendix? Ohhhh. I didn't. I had an endoscopic transphenoidal surgery and that's where they removed that fat pad. I had Cushing's Disease."
"You had Cushing's disease?!" Both him and his assistant were shocked and asked a number of questions while he went about turning my baby. It was quite uncomfortable, but he was successfully able to get her into the correct position. And for the first time in weeks, I could take a full breath! It was amazing.
I stayed in the hosptial for about an hour for observation, and was given instructions to do fetal monitoring the next day, to ensure that the baby was doing well. At that appointment my water had greatly increased, bu I was having contractions about 10 mintues apart. I could feel them coming. I called our homebirth doctor and he recommended napping and calling him if they continued on. Everything slowed down, and sweet Lydia rested peacefully in her new head down position for another two weeks.
We faced a giant, but we feasted on grapes. :)
A Story of Grapes, Giants, and Homebirth
Something Special (Part 2) (Aviel's birth story)