I found an article about pre-eclampsia that listed the symptoms and risks and realized that I hit way too many symptoms. Some of the symptoms showed up pretty early into the third trimester. They didn’t test the urine, I didn’t realize testing the urine was in part to screen for such a serious issue and I wish I had pushed that I wanted them to do the urine tests. I never understood why they didn’t just do them, especially when insurance will cover them, as they cost me nothing- I can understand not wanting to do blood tests, but during pregnancy I was pissing constantly. Testing what was already coming out wasn’t going to do me any harm.
Maybe I didn’t have it, but I don’t know. And that terrifies me.
Pre-eclampsia is very serious. It kills. I should know that I didn’t have it. I should be confident that my healthcare providers tested for something so serious when I showed signs of it, ruling it out before taking the risk of an out of hospital birth.
I had a lot of the symptoms and I didn’t get tested. There were a few other things that now make me worry that they didn’t want to test for things that might show home-birth is unsafe. They dragged their feet on the fetal echo. They didn’t test the urine. They tried to argue that the test for amniotic fluid was a false-positive (leaking amniotic fluid can be a risk if the baby isn’t delivered quickly enough). They pulled the chord (not because the placenta wasn’t coming fast enough, either, but so that they didn’t have to help me into a better position to hold my baby). I could go on. I’m sure an actual medical professional would recognize more.
As I’ve said, I support homebirth when it’s safe- but the more I learn, the more I believe that my homebirth was anything but safe. It seems to only be sheer luck that my baby and I are alive, I’m very worried that I’ll find out that I’m not actually unscathed.
All birth in the US has a disgustingly high rate of death for a first world country. Birth in this country is not safe no matter where you do it, but there are also times when it is unquestionably unsafe to do a home birth. Refusing to recognize or test for those complications under any conditions is dangerous, it’s especially dangerous for home birth.
I cannot shake the feeling that they “failed to notice” the symptoms and decided not to do the urine test because they wanted to do everything they legally could to ensure a home birth- including ignoring risks. The state required they test for group beta strep and gestational diabetes (thankfully), so they had to- but in other ways they could be a little loose. I’ve heard too many horror stories of midwives doing just this to believe I’m being paranoid. Doula Dani once said that “Those who truly trust birth believe if a baby does not survive birth, it’s because they weren’t meant to live.“. Either the CNMs who I worked with were just woefully under-informed, or this is exactly how they felt as well. It’s a chilling thought.
There are people who believe that not testing for complications is worth it to ensure they get a home birth. The midwives apparently did. The problem is, that is not my philosophy and never was. This was not an informed decision I made. It was made for me by medical providers I mistakenly put my trust in.
I still do support safe homebirth. I’ve heard that other countries have models of what safe homebirth actually is, including midwives who transfer at the first sign of trouble rather than taking that risk. I just now know that this is not what we actually have. I will never support healthcare providers taking risks with their patients’ lives, especially not without warning the patients that this is exactly what they’re doing.
I don’t think I’ll be able to trust homebirth midwives again. If this were a fluke, it’d be one thing, but I’ve heard too many people report similar stories of midwives putting their philosophy over the safety of both parent and baby. This is just too important a situation to make that gamble, I regret having made it in the first place. I don’t feel guilty for it, the guilt lies in the CNMs who misrepresented themselves and gambled with our lives, but I definitely regret it. Even if we shadowed with an OBGYN and knew that there were no signs of complications and it was as low risk as possible, I refuse to trust homebirth midwives to recognize any problems during labor and delivery and postpartum. I won’t take that risk again.
I don’t totally trust hospital doctors, either, but they at least have a lot more tools at their disposal to fix problems.
That doesn’t mean I’ll never again have a homebirth. Birth isn’t something you can plan. I was an unintentional home birth, and plenty of people have them. If a future baby decides that a too-fast-to-get-to-the-hospital birth sounds fun, then I’ll have another one. Which will immediately be followed by a trip to the hospital.