Yesterday night I was given the best present that my wife could have given me for Father’s Day, we welcomed our newest son into the world, Brooks Eli Batson. During the 41 weeks and 3 days that Emily was pregnant with this wonderful guy I dreamed and prayed about the day I would meet him. My wife and I have some very different views on childbirth and coming back to Birmingham we were a tiny bit scared about how this pregnancy would happen. From the start of our journey as parents we had planned to have natural births with a mid-wife. Living in Austin, TX, and watching my wonderful sister-in-law and brother-in-law experience this joy made us curious about childbirth. It made us question everything that we had been brought up to think about doctors, hospitals, and the modern take on childbirth.
From day one we learned that America had taken on a very different view of creating life from the medical perspective. In most of the instances that we either researched or discussed with others the story kept coming up that hospitals were baby factories that treated pregnancy as an illness rather than the celebration of the creation of life. We heard horror stories about doctors pumping patients full of Pitocin to get the baby out, ladies scheduling C-sections, and hospital treating patients as if there was something wrong rather than embracing the creation of life that only a woman can experience. In many ways this pushed my wife and I to really start doing research into what we really wanted. What we found out is that with every plan that you have in life you must be open to change in a moments notice and with some trepidation accept what path has been laid down in front of you.
With Josiah, our oldest child, we joined forces with one of the most amazing people on the planet, Mary Barnett. She was an experienced and caring mid-wife in Austin, Texas. Since insurance would not cover her services we paid out of pocket for the privilege to allow Mary to birth our creation. We met with Mary on a regular basis and we would sit and talk for about an hour each session. She answered all questions we had and informed us about things we should read and research about the birth of our child. The time we spent with Mary will be a cherished time in my life that I will always look upon as truly one of the greatest learning experiences in my life. She helped us and made us feel like childbirth was truly a gift and wonderful event, not just something to be done. As we got closer to date of birth of Josiah we learned that not all plans go accordingly. Emily went 2 weeks late and Mary, with all her experience and wisdom, sent us to a doctor because it looked like a home birth was not going to be in cards for us for this child. We talked to the doctor and she gave us very few options. With this being our first child and not knowing all the facts we were pushed toward a C-section. Now going from using a mid-wife to a C-section is moving from one end of the spectrum to the other. We went from one extreme to the other. In the end we had a 9 lb 8 oz beautiful baby boy named Henry Josiah Batson. My wife had given me the one of the greatest gifts she could give to me, but in the end she had the trauma of not having the birth she and I planned. It took years for Emily to come to terms with this experience and everyday I tried to help her process and come to terms with it. Although I will never truly know how she felt, we are thankful for everything Mary Barnett gave us through her knowledge and experience. Emily and I decided that we wanted multiple children, so we were off to learn more about the options we had left with our next child.
We knew that having a C-section completely took a home birth out of our realm of possibility for any further children. We learned this because after having a C-section a woman’s uterine wall has been compromised and there is a possibility that their uterine wall could rupture and mother would have very little time to be repaired without losing the mother. My first concern was the safety of my wife and child, so Emily and I knew that with our next child a hospital would be in our future. We found a wonderful practice in Austin, Texas, at St. David’s Hospital that had 2 doctors and 3 mid-wives in their practice. With this group we had a much better experience. We went to appointments and Emily wanted to have our 2nd child naturally if not at home. Our 2nd child felt much like our 1st and decided to be late with arriving into this world. Porter decided to be a week and half late, but decided to come out the old fashion way. My most amazing wife dealt with 50 hours of labor before deciding that she needed to get an epidural. Meredith, her best friend most amazing person and friend at the birth of all our children, and I were glad that she made that decision because her body needed to rest. Within the next 4-5 hours her water broke and Porter was born with only three pushes and came out like he was on slip n slide. So Emily does not get made at me, while she was asleep her leg fell off the bed and she couldn’t put it back because of the pain medicine. I woke up when she called out, but acted like I was asleep and let the amazing Meredith take care of the problem. I know saying that I was soooooo tired does not excuse my behavior and it was not my proudest moment, but Mer and Emily still give me hell about it. Porter came vaginally and weighed 10 lbs 8 oz her biggest baby ever. She delivered so fast that the doctor didn’t even make it into the room and the mid-wife delivered the baby. Emily had successfully had a V-Bac( Vaginal birth after Cesarian).
With the our newest and third child Emily wanted to have another V-Bac and we were living in Alabama again. We had heard horror stories about how doctors rushed patients, made them do things they didn’t want to do, and had looks of fear when we talked to other parents about waiting and trying to have a natural birth. To let you in on a little fact about Alabama: MID-WIVES ARE ILLEGAL! Needless to say Emily and I do not agreed with the insurance companies controlling the hospitals and keeping this wonderful profession from practicing in the state we love. That is a whole different issue that I will write about later, but you can find out more from these great articles in a B’ham publication called Weld (Midwives for Alabama Mothers and Midwives for Alabama Mothers? Part 2). Emily talked to many friends and through two of our fellow Austin transports, Evan and Jennifer, (great friends with a great story of how we became friends-also will talk about that later) Emily found a doctor’s office that would suite our needs. OB-GYN South was an office where Em met Dr. Ross. They understood that she wanted to have a V-Bac and were 100% behind her if nothing complicated the pregnancy. So off we went on another birthing journey. Yet, this time the doctors were great and we had a great experience. She got to know Dr. Adcock much better and near the end we saw him regularly. Emily like always went a week late. We went to our 41st week appointment and they did an ultrasound and fluids were fine. Non-Stress Test and everything was great. We talked about her options and went home for the waiting game. Needless to say Meredith had arrived in town a week earlier waiting for baby #3. So glad Mer can work remotely and her sister Katherine the Great watched her dog in Chicago. We were sitting at home on Friday night at about 10:30 while watching some “So You Think You Can Dance” and Em looks at me and says, “I either peed myself or my water just broke.” I told it was the latter and we loaded up for the hospital, called my mom to watch the boys because they were asleep, and away we went. We got admitted at around 11:15 pm and the waiting game continued. Emily labored for 19 1/2 hours. Dr. McKenzie made our experience amazing. He gave us the option of just small doses of Pitocin and Emily was ok with that. After about 14 hours Emily’s back was causing her severe pain and she made the decision with tears in her eyes to get an epidural. I can tell you honestly I do not cry very often, but I teared up because I saw the disappointment in my wife’s eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop the pain. Without hesitation I would have taken it all away if I could. Emily got an epidural and 5 1/2 hours later the pushing started. Now one thing I can say for my wife, she may not have short labors, but her pushing rates on the level of a deity. She pushed 4 times and out came Brooks Eli Batson, all 10 lbs 5 oz of his bad self. Dr. McKenzie was happy, we were happy, and everybody was happy. We had our third healthy and happy boy.
Through all of our experiences I have always been reminded of a couple of things: I have three healthy boys, my wife’s health has been okay, and I am one of the most fortunate fathers on the planet. Each day I see my boys my love for them and my wife grows. She gave me my family and that is something that I will always thank her for. She is amazing in ways I do not even understand as of this moment. We have amazing friends and family and without both of those life would be empty and meaningless. My Father’s Day is going to be one that I remember till my dying day. With Emily, Josiah, Porter, and Brooks, I have realized that there are many things to live for everyday and mine make me want to be a much better person than I ever deserve to be.