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Yulia's Birth Story

When I found myself pregnant with Yulia I was still greatly fearful of a repeat experience such as Ursa’s birth. Even though I truly wanted another unassisted birth I felt it was in my family’s best interest that I hire a midwife. I needed to be sure that I and my partner had support if necessary and protection in those worst-case scenarios. It took me forever to find a midwife as there weren’t any locally and nobody wanted to attend in the area where we lived. Upon referral of a close friend, I reached out to one who had attended several of her births. She seemed understanding of my desires and somewhat willing to work with me in terms of the type of hands-off care that I wanted to receive. I picked a package with a few extra things that would honor my process and extend some self-care into this experience in hopes that it would help provide healing and peace on this journey to motherhood again. She was willing to take me on knowing that there was a possibility that I might not call her for the birth. We agreed to prenatal care and communication. I felt that if my partner was out of town for work I would likely birth alone assuming my intuition felt it was right. If he was home, I would call them so he had support to help my labor and birth progress more smoothly.

I felt confident in my choices. My nutrition was on point and I intuitively ate and supplemented as I felt necessary and the labs I chose supported those outcomes. I was active. I monitored my baby. My health was pretty perfect and there were no signs of risk during pregnancy. Everything seemed to be moving along as they should be. 

There were times throughout my care that I felt let down by my midwife and her inconsistency. Communication was sporadic and questions often went unanswered. Appointments were changed or dropped. All of the extras that I had added to my package were never offered. Even still, it wasn’t enough to make me end care. I had no other options available if I wanted to have a home birth with a midwife. It was this, or nothing and that felt like a really hard place to be.

My pregnancy progressed easily. I was well prepared and felt ready for my birth. Nothing seemed out of place…except one day as I was driving down the road, my mind wandered a bit. As I was rounding a curve I saw myself holding my baby and their little soul just floated up straight out of their body into the sky. I was so shaken by this vision I almost drove off the road. I then shook it off. Surely that’s crazy, right? My pregnancy was pretty much picture-perfect. Why would I see such things? And. I pushed it to the back of my mind and went home to talk to my baby. I listened to them with the Doppler and counted heart tones. Played with their pointy knees and feet as they rolled around and counted their kicks. All seemed well and I just kept trucking along and never mentioned such a terrible thing to anyone else. 

I went into labor a day before my due date. It was a slow, picture-perfect steady progression throughout the day. I remember taking my kids to their homeschool groups and music lessons and just pushing through until we were able to get home. I made dinner and straightened up some so I would feel more peaceful about laboring and meandering throughout the house. My partner and brother came home from work around bedtime. I took a bath while they helped the kids through their bedtime routines, and then I went to rest for a bit until I couldn’t anymore. 

“Anymore” came quickly - after just an hour of rest my contractions picked up to every 3-4 minutes but weren’t long in duration yet and didn’t seem to be bringing a lot of change or pressure. It was December and cold with just the wood stove so I went to take a shower and see if things picked up. I spent a lot of time going back and forth between the shower and the toilet. 

After probably an hour I was feeling confident in my progress and decided to call the midwife to let her know labor was happening but I didn’t feel like I needed her to rush right away. Looking back I was definitely in denial. I seem to always forget how quickly things pick up for me but it wasn’t long before I was calling her again to say it was go time. I had this unease that I couldn’t place but everything was moving along seemingly well.

I went to labor in my bedroom where the electric heater was as the hot water had run out. I swayed and moaned over the next thirty minutes through contractions before I felt my baby descend deeply and noticed signs of rapid cervical change. All of a sudden I felt like I needed to go to the restroom but once there I was unable to. Even being educated in birthwork doesn’t always protect you from thinking illogically when you are the birthing person in the thick of it. I remember sitting on the toilet and realizing that I could feel my baby angled awkwardly in my hip. Instinctively I kept lifting my legs into lunges and alternating as I just needed more room. Two contractions later my beautiful daughter was born into my own hands.

What should have been a blissful postpartum experience quickly turned into a nightmare. My baby wasn’t acclimating earthside. There was a blueness to her sclera - the whites of her eyes - that I’d never seen before in any other newborn or human at all, ever. I was on edge and experienced a bit of Deja Vu - as that same vision I had in pregnancy made its way to my mind’s eye once again. I did not ignore my intuition this time.

I immediately called for my partner to call 911. I had hoped we wouldn’t need them but something wasn’t right and the midwifery team had still not arrived. We began neonatal resuscitation while waiting. While still attached and my placenta unborn, I worked on my baby with the emergency operator on the phone waiting for backup. Her stats still were not coming up as they should have been. EMS arrived and everything became so chaotic. A house full of people, all hesitant and unsure of what to do. I had to bark directions as they just stood there staring at me working on my baby. Eventually, one of them pulled out an Ambu bag and tried to cut her cord. I refused to let them cut that cord and explained that it was the only oxygen she was consistently getting. They realized their equipment was cracked and not working so the woman using it directed another person on the team to get a new one out of the EMS truck. He continued to stand there frozen. When he wouldn’t move I yelled for my partner to get it himself. It was then, as he was heading out the door that the man snapped out of it and followed his instructions. Except, instead of continuing NRP they switched to CPR. It felt odd to me but they were adamant and I was in such a panic that I trusted them. They moved me out of the way and took over completely.

After what felt like hours they decided to take her in the truck to the hospital. I remember throwing on pants over top of the trailing cord of the placenta that still hadn’t detached. We sat in the truck forever before they finally pulled out of the driveway. I asked them which NICU they were going to and they said that they weren’t - they were only going to the satellite hospital in town. I demanded they take us to a hospital that could help and they refused and said they had to go local regardless of whether they had what they needed to help her. She stabilized briefly and then crashed and they gave her epinephrine. She seemed to do better on the ride there but that was the last I saw her until after she passed as they would not let us stay with her while they worked on stabilizing her. Eventually, they came back to tell us she was gone, and shortly after the midwifery team showed up at the hospital. 

We had one kind nurse but were treated pretty terribly by everyone else. EMS filed a report with CPS after they had been notified of our baby’s passing that said they thought I was on drugs because before we pulled out of the driveway the placenta birthed and I asked my partner to put it in the fridge so we could process it later for encapsulation. I never would have requested this if transport was imminent but they were just sitting in my driveway forever doing nothing. They claimed I was trying to hide it from testing and refused to let me pass it to my partner so it went with Yulia while they worked on her. A doctor came to tell me they were taking the whole placenta for testing but I refused and countered by suggesting they take a portion and leave the rest with the midwifery team. When they didn’t get what they wanted they decided not to test it at all even after repeatedly asking them to so we might find some answers. We had the option to have an autopsy performed but ultimately declined because I just couldn’t bear the thought of her little body being hurt more than it already had been. We were advised that we could bring her home from the hospital directly and choose to bury her ourselves on our property so we took her home so the rest of her family could meet her for the first and final time. Though the property was owned by family and we could have buried her there we decided to have her cremated instead for fear that since it was the middle of winter we would not be able to bury her properly. A little more than a year later we bought a house in a different town and I am so thankful that we were able to bring her with us. 

My postpartum experience was terrible. I turned into myself and could barely communicate with anyone. I finished out a few postpartum visits and didn’t want to go back after that to keep talking about my baby. My midwife promised lots of things like a breast pump, reducing my fee to reflect the services she hadn’t provided and said she would be there for me. They promised to keep my baby’s stats safe until I was ready to see and learn about them. They promised lots of things that they never followed through on. I felt betrayed and abandoned in some ways as I never heard from my midwife to do the things she promised but she had no problem contacting me each month when my payment was due. It was in this postpartum period that I learned of disgruntled families disappointed in this same midwife’s care that I passionately threw myself much more quickly into midwifery education and training. I had already been on my path to becoming a midwife at a more leisurely pace but the abandonment I felt and learned of throughout the community fueled a fire in me to dive deep so that others may have more choices. I found so much faith in my process and knew that I was on the right path. Midwifery is truly my ministry and honoring families is something I will never give up.

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