{SQT} A few weeks of trouble: a family update

So hey, our family has some news. Some crazy stuff went down for us in this past month.

~1~

We had a kid with medical problems; she had to spend a week in the hospital, which is located a good 45 minutes away from us. It was a really stressful time, waiting for test results and dealing with the dizzying logistics of needing to be in two cities at one time. But, the tests all came back good, and she is home and recovering well, though in need of ongoing medical care for a while.

~2~

While we had a kid in the hospital, both our cars were out of commission. Our main vehicle, the Tahoe, got run into by somebody, blowing a tire and causing a bunch of minor body damage. It had to be in the shop for two weeks, during which time we were supposed to have an equivalent rental car, but obtaining said rental car was such a logistical nightmare that it took a week for us to accomplish it.

~3~

At the same time as all this, our other car, a vintage 1795 Subaru, broke down and left us stranded no less than three times, all of them on the way to or from the hospital. I think the poor, moth-eaten old guy just didn’t feel up to the responsibility of being the main family car. The third breakdown proved to be a crazy expensive one, and I don’t believe that car will ever make it home from the car lot where we kind of abandoned it in the midst of the hospital chaos. The car guys are being really patient with us, unless they already sold it for scrap and just haven’t told us yet.

~4~

And now the really big news: about three weeks ago, Mark lost his job – you know, that job I talked about in my post on Lent last year?  The job that we picked up, left everything behind, and bought our first house for?

That’s the one.

So, long story short, we’re probably moving again. We had planned to stay where we are permanently, but the loss of this stable job has us looking at selling the house we just bought and moving again. Good jobs in Mark’s field are nearly nonexistent since the recession, but there are certainly none to be found in rural NC, and we sorely miss the family we left behind. We are likely not headed back to Utah, though, since our family there is in the middle of a relocation themselves. Prayers would be much appreciated as Mark is back on the job market so soon after thinking we were finally done with that. Good jobs are so hard to find, and we are now on a firm timeline until the paychecks stop coming.  Also, prayers that our house would sell in good time at a good price, and finally that we won’t all go mad in the midst of still more upheaval and transition.

~5~

Just for kicks, allow me to provide a short rundown of the other items in my life that have broken, malfunctioned, or otherwise complicated things:

My phone. Our desktop computer. The lawnmower; we had once chance to mow the grass in the middle of all the chaos, but the mower wouldn’t start. Now it’s been raining for approximately forever and the grass is only slightly shorter than the house. (I exaggerate. Maybe.) Emily’s broke her, too. (No, joke, I’m afraid. Running in the house=bad idea).

~6~

So, it’s been a run of bad luck at our house, and it’s been hard to stay positive. The job loss has me ricocheting unpredictably from feeling like this is all a blessing in disguise and an adventure, to complete gloom and despair. Which is, I suppose, a very human response. Landing a full time teaching job and buying our first house – these were big goals, and it felt amazing to reach them. Then, just as suddenly, they are gone, the job lost and the house to be sold.

~7~

I found a wonderful quote for such a time in the book of Daniel:

“Through tears she looked up to heaven, for she trusted in the Lord wholeheartedly.” – Daniel 13:35

Though nobody died, and nobody is dying, for which I am deeply thankful, it was still easy for me this Lent to remember that I am dust, and to dust I shall return. And that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

3 Reasons I Chose a Hospital Birth for my Eighth Baby

The necessaries: Please note that I’m not a doctor, midwife, nurse, or anybody else remotely qualified to give you medical advice. Always consult a health professional regarding any medical or health decisions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. K? Good.

I’m a natural birth enthusiast. Have been ever since I got (literally) yelled at by my OB almost 18 years ago for wondering if I really needed an IV. I never went back.

The reader who valiantly wades through all my birth stories will notice a recurring theme – over the years, I never felt fully satisfied with my birth venue. Most of my births occurred in the hospital, under care of a midwife. In those years, I would consider home birth, or a birth center birth, and for various reasons (often financial) always ended up at the hospital.

Then, at long last, I decided to have my seventh baby at a birth center. I batted around having her at home, especially as it was financially viable at that time, and the midwives at the birth center we chose also provided services for home birth. But I ended up opting for the center out of logistical concerns – with a large brood and a small house, I knew that my privacy was at risk if I stayed home, and I am not the type to want my kids present at birth. I get very private when in labor, and I also want to be free to yell all I want with no one to frighten. Sure, I could have sent them all to their grandparents’ house – but did I really want to arrange that? At the time, it was a 50 minute drive, and there were six kids, two of whom were capable of babysitting without adult help.

Given my history of precipitous birth, and also the decent chance that all this might happen at 2 am, I took the simpler route – leave the kids at home, and go to the birth center.

But, while my birth center birth went just fine, there were some things about it that I didn’t love.

Getting There

The birth center is closed at night; when you need to come in, you call your midwife, she’ll evaluate over the phone, and meet you there if it seems warranted.

It’s a sensible plan, and probably the only one that they can practically do, not being busy enough to warrant staffing it at night.

But, if the midwife was delayed or didn’t think my always-quirky labor signs warranted getting checked, I would have a problem. I couldn’t just show up in advanced labor and get whisked away like I could at the ER. Anybody can have a crazy fast birth, but with a previous history, it’s not at all unlikely for me to have another.

This worked out all right, but the stress of fretting about it was real.

Medical Emergencies

This is a tough, tough topic, and one that I have held different opinions on over time. I think where you come down on this is overall going to be extremely individual and personal – and I think that is exactly how it should be.

There’s two basic factors, here:

1. Birth is natural and normal.

The female body is designed to carry and deliver babies, and the vast majority of the time, this goes smoothly. It’s been argued (and argued very well) that being in a hospital leads to unnecessary interventions which increase, rather than decrease, risk. For a really well-done and moving documentary from the home birth point of view, I highly recommend The Business of Being Born. I find this argument compelling, and it drove my birthing mindset for most of my childbearing years. It’s still a topic very close to my heart, with important implications in Western medicine.

2. Birth is a major medical event with specific risks and potential for life-threatening emergencies.

Stuff happens in labor. Most of the time, especially for low-risk moms, everything goes just fine. Most of the rest of the time, anything that does happen can be detected early enough to transfer to a hospital for care.

But very rarely, things happen too fast to wait for transfer or paramedics. Honestly, my opinion here has been deeply affected by the death of a mother a couple of years ago in an online community of mine; she was birthing at home and suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. They rushed her to the hospital at the first sign of trouble, but she didn’t survive. A good website on this complication (run by a survivor, I believe) can be found at AFE Foundation. Of course, being in the hospital might not have saved her – but her chances would have been better.

So really, we all have to strike a balance of the two sides:

Birth is natural and normal, but it is also a major physical event with specific risks and potential for life-threatening emergencies.

That’s not earth-shattering. It’s what the vast majority of people actually think, but that can get lost in the politics of birth. Us natural-minded moms don’t like to scare other moms. It’s not good for a laboring mom to be scared of all the stuff that probably won’t happen, so we (rightly) focus on the positive and the safe.

More medically minded folks, though, worry that too little fear will lead moms to unknowingly take foolish risks. It’s important to take those concerns seriously, not dismiss them out of hand.

When parents and caregivers acknowledge that balance between the normal and the hazardous, that’s when there is a solid foundation to build sane birth practices upon.


Tweet: When parents and caregivers acknowledge that balance between the normal and the hazardous, that’s when there is a solid foundation to build sane birth practices upon.


Local, individual caregivers and local hospital policies, naturally, have a huge impact on safe birthing decisions. I have been blessed with caregivers and hospitals which were overall very forward thinking and friendly to principles of natural childbirth and newborn care, which certainly influences my inclination to take advantage of the safety net there. That isn’t the case everywhere – depending on the medical climate where you live, there may be so much unnecessary intervention that it would drive a moderate mama like me back home for fear of cascading interference in my birth.

(Of course, if you can’t decide, I recommend the hospital elevator. All the safety of having a doctor nearby, none of the unnecessary interventions.) (Um, that’s not medical advice. Always consult your physician before giving birth in an elevator, please.)

Postpartum and Newborn Care

A lot of natural birth minded mamas consider early discharge to be a big advantage of a birthing center. It turns out I didn’t like that. I missed being cared for by nurses, and came to appreciate how reassuring that care can be. Without having nurses tracking our vitals, I worried constantly about Emily in the first few days – was her color alright? Does she feel a little warm? A little cool? Do I need to take her temperature? Infection in a newborn can be disastrous, and hours matter. I worried more about myself, too – about infection, hemorrhage, blood clots. I was used to being monitored for those things while I enjoyed my baby, not worrying about them myself.

Does this offset the additional risk of infection that might come with a hospital stay? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it, and I’m sure not going to be able to put an end to the debate. Unfortunately, the answer probably largely depends on the bias, experiences, and background of who you ask. It also depends on your hospital. If you are satisfied with the practices and safety record of your hospital, that’s different than ending up in a crowded ward with poor ratings. 

Conclusion

Home birth, hospital birth, freestanding birthing center…all those options have great things to recommend them and some scary stuff to run you off, because birth. It’s one of those wild cards life hands us, and there’s no knowing exactly how it’s going to go.

I have had good experiences over the years with midwife-attended hospital births. I have usually felt free enough from overmedicalization and unnecessary interventions. A good midwife can really help with this. I’m sure I’ve been lucky.

That’s my experience. I don’t know if I’ll have any more babies, but if I do I will be faced with answering these questions all over again, as the medical culture here in North Carolina is quite different than in Utah.

If you like this post, you may also like my eight birth stories.

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