Another pregnant friend and I were talking yesterday about our pregnancies (what else, right?), and she asked me which I preferred- a midwife or an obstetrician. I told her I would have to think about my answer. I’ll put those thoughts down here.
I’d have to say that my preferences have changed over the years; with each experience I begin to see things differently.
My first pregnancy, I saw a pair of obstetricians, both men, in Mansfield who were Christians. Finding a caregiver who shares your beliefs is certainly a noble pursuit, especially when looking for one who deals with reproductive health. But, at the time, their worldview mattered more to me than their abilities or personality. I have learned that there should be a balance, especially if one is in a location where they can’t find a Christian provider. My OB’s turned out to be quite knowledgeable with good discernment, and I was especially grateful for that when my pregnancy ended early in miscarriage, and the OB wisely let me go without a D&C. Much of that one doctor’s advice still comes back to mind from time to time when I have a problem or question. I will probably go back to them when we are living in that area again.
We lived in Columbus for my next pregnancy, and I decided to see the OBGYN other family members saw. I was still holding Christianity a top priority, and had heard that this guy prayed with his patients! Wow. Unfortunately, his spirituality was no match for my first-time-in-labor ignorance, and I was badly burned by this experience with a ‘typical OB delivery’- induction after water breaking, pushing before I was ready, use of forceps, and other unpleasantries. I can’t turn back time, but this is one of those events I wish I could relive.
Bitter, anti-OB feelings steered me in a different direction: midwives. I began seeing one in Columbus recommended to me by some friends in our playgroup. There were two or three midwives in the practice, so chances were I would have one of them, and never see the OB, for my second child’s birth. They didn’t do ultrasounds, which I at first disliked but came to appreciate after baby no. 3 was born. They were very hands off, and big on me being in charge of my delivery, like having me write a birth plan outlining my hopes for labor and delivery. When my due date came and left, they didn’t seem ruffled at all, just reminded me that “babies come when they are ready”. On the morning of Luke’s birthday, I was bemoaning the fact that baby just wouldn’t come today, that would be too good a thing. A few hours later, I was having regular contractions. Not having a (good, normal) experience to look back on, I figured I was just beginning labor when we went to see the midwife. To my utter relief, I was already at six and could head to the hospital. Not long after I had gotten registered and into a gown, I was feeling the urge to push! I share this only because it wasn’t until my second labor that I learned about this. Why wasn’t I more able to get the first labor right? I can only blame the OB I had so much. I know of many who have had similar “first labor” experiences, and wonder what it is we all missed. We took the hospital classes, we read the “What To Expect..” books. Is it something that just has to be tried (and failed) once to really “get it”? If so, I grieve for my girls. I will do whatever is in my power to stop this ignorance with me.
Onto my slick-as-grease third child, who I was pushing out in the car on the way to the hospital. I’m not sure Luke has been much more afraid as he was that night, at the prospect of delivering a baby on the berm of I-270. I had the same midwives, but it wouldn’t have mattered if the janitor scrubbed in for this one; only hands were necessary for catching the baby. I praise our Creator for the quick delivery; this was ultimate grace when it was discovered he had a mild form of spina bifida. A long labor followed by a reality like this would have been extremely difficult. Come to think of it, finding this out via ultrasound at week 22, then having a long labor, then dealing with it…You can see how much worse emotionally and physically it could have been. I am thankful there were no ultrasounds. I continue to marvel at the way He sustained us there, and in the weeks to come.
We have been in Marion for babies four, another miscarriage, five, and six. I sought out a midwife when we moved here, thinking that this was the only way to have a good labor and delivery (I was still a bit jaded against OBs). Andrea was nice enough, but when my due date arrived and passed, suddenly this baby “wasn’t coming out”, and “when did I want to schedule my induction?” There were only a few openings, and I got suckered into losing a week of waiting to go naturally. I now am certain that boldness is not one of my strengths. 🙂 But, I didn’t expect this kind of pressure from my midwife! What happened to “babies come when they are ready”? Apparently, Andrea saw things differently. Therefore, I started to see things differently. Maybe midwives were not always acting in my best interests, either.
My second miscarriage was somewhat traumatic, requiring a D&C. The OB over Andrea performed this, and I appreciated his thoughtful manner and caring attitude. He had appointments in another location the afternoon I needed the procedure, and canceled them so I would not have to wait another day. I will not forget that. Because of Dr. Smith’s example, OB’s from then on were forgiven in my book.
Dr. Smith delivered number five, since he was the one on-call when I went in. What stands out about this delivery was that it seemed like Little A was taking a long time to come out. I think back to my first OB- he might have been using forceps by then. Dr. Smith just waited, very calmly. His confidence in me helped me to finish that labor well.
Both Andrea and Dr. Smith moved away, leaving me with a new midwife for number six. Not only that, she lived out of town, so it was a little tense those last few weeks of pregnancy, wondering if I should go ahead and schedule an induction, just to make sure I had her to deliver. She didn’t seem too concerned, so I tried not to worry. As usual, my due date was a day like any other, and I wondered what my midwife would say about an induction now that I was overdue. She seemed surprised I was thinking of having one. Yes! I had a midwife who thought “babies will come when they’re ready” again! She ended up being out of town for baby’s birth; I was introduced to one of Marion’s other fine OB’s while in transition! He turned out to be super friendly and very wise- he actually talked me out of an epidural (I beg for one each time- long story), pointing out how close to the end I was. I really liked him. Yet another OB worthy of respect and trust.
All this to say, when choosing a midwife or OB, it really depends on what kind of person the midwife or OB is. I used to hang onto preferences I had that I thought were important, and would make my choice accordingly. What I really should have been doing was prayerfully considering my choices each time, then proceeding accordingly. This last birth has shown me that God really is taking care of me, and can order events even when they are (gasp!) out of my control. I wonder how much better things would have gone all along the way if I would have trusted Him more.
The king’s [or OB’s, or midwife’s] heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1