It is the weekend, but there is no rest for us on the 8th floor! The usual assault of nurses and pca’s began at 5:05am, and we have been off and running since. The news stories that ran on CNN, AOL, ABC, and the repective websites, have found my inbox flooded with sweet messages from well-wishers ALL OVER the world! All but 1 comment on the blog has been amazingly sweet, and the offers to share experiences similar to ours has been much appreciated by Katy and I. One commenter decided to take the opportunity to use the blog as a chance to further push the idea that none of this would have happened if we had been in a hospital. I posted the comment below:
“I am sorry for your ordeal. However, I believe that a pound of prevention could have prevented 90 percent of your wife’s woes. The reason that health care expenses are out of control is that people wait till the last minute for health care. If your wife had gone to the hospital in a sterile setting, had her baby in a sterile setting, gone home within a few hours, I believe that most of her issues could have been taken care of prior to this issue. I know that most people think hospitals are dirty places waiting for an infection to happen. 99 percent of our nations hospitals prevent the infections that have occurred to your wife. I am an advocate of bonding with your infant and having a peaceful setting for birth. These things could have been worked out for you and her if you had taken the initiative to work things out with a certified midwife, her doctor, the nurses and the hospital.”
I felt the need to reply to this for several reasons. None of the reasons are because I feel the I HAVE to justify our decisions, but rather to help answer the myriad of questions I receive on an almost daily basis. If anyone has the time, I suggest they read deep into the comments on the blog. So MANY people have shared not only sad stories of infections caught in hospitals, mysterious deaths from infection, and horror stories of mis-diagnosis’, but also amazing stories of hope and recovery. I have been blown away by the recent e-mails sharing support, and offering help. I hope that future blog readers who share simiar concerns about our decisions will take the time to educate themselves before making definative statements. I don’t have the desire to sway anyone to home birth, but I do want the facts to be known so that everyone can exercise their own rights to choose whatever method works for them. Katy and I made the decision to do a home birth after the HORRID (I cannot stress this enough…HORRID) experience that we had delivering Jake in a hospital, and insurance/no insurance had nothing to do with it. We payed for our delivery in cash, and Katy was given weekly urine tests, swabs, ultrasounds, and we went to a hopital for the official baby ultrasound. So many people have jumped to the conclusion that 2 people with no money made a hasty, financially based, decision. That is not the case. We opted for a home birth, payed our money for it, and took a lot of precautions to avoid infections and other complications. For these reasons, and because a lot of people want to know, I am going to run everyone through the events that took place up to Katy’s hospitilization.
Katy went into labor around 10:45pm on Tuesday night, February 9th. I called the midwife, and started logging contractions at around 11pm. The midwife arrived around 11:45, and we kept track of Katy’s contractions for the next few hours. The midwife used only a gloved hand for all exams, and used a portable device to monitor the baby’s heartbeat. As a side note, the midwife used a fresh, sealed, glove each time she examined Katy. The hospitals all use gloves in a community box, therefore allowing multiple sets of gloves to be touched each time someone puts gloves on. Katy dialated, water broke, and pushed, and PUSHED, and PUUUSSHHHHED, and at 7:43am, we had a beautiful new baby girl. The video of the events immediately after the birth are posted on youtube.com, and there you will see a tired, but healthy mother with her new baby.
The next couple of days went as expected. Katy was very sore, but it was all muscle soreness. She was slow moving, but ate normally, breastfed, slept well, and had no fevers or abnormal bleeding. Saturday afternoon, Katy’s pain changed a little. I called the nurse’s line to Kingwood Medical Center, two different times, and they said that if she didn’t have a fever, or wasn’t bleeding, then it was normal post-pardom pains. The pain was in her stomach, but she did start to complain about a pain in her right shoulder. The pain was resolved with massage, and Katy slept most of the night. Sunday morning I called the nurse’s line again. They, again, said that all of her symptoms were normal, and that nothing sounded out of the ordinary. By noon, Katy decided to go to the hospital in spite of the nurses saying it was nothing to worry about. She was checked in at 12:30pm, and was in an ER room at 1pm. Most of you know the story from there.
I have asked several doctors, in many different specialties, what we could have done different. All of the doctors that we spoke to, including those that do not advise home birth, said that they would not have known to do anything different, and that if Katy had been in the hospital, they would have sent her home after the first 24 hours. It is not standard practice to test for strep A, and, though Katy was tested-and came up negative, there is nothing to indicate exactly where she got the infection. If the point of infection was our bathtub, the toilet seat, the couch, etc, then no test would have helped anyway. Also, it is completely possible, and happens very often with strep A, that no visible wound is needed for the infection to get in your body. As Dr Purdue said in the Houston chronicle story-“You can get it by scratching your head.”
I am going through the trouble of writing all of this down because I don’t want ANY of our energy to be spent on wondering the “what if’s,” and “why’s” of this experience. We are where we are, and we can only move forward from here. People die from infections in hospitals every day, yet there is no massive movement to stop going to hospitals. I wonder if the loved ones of people who get infections in the hospital get e-mails from people telling them that should have done it naturally? Also, to clear up a few misconceptions, Katy and I are NOT against all modern medicine. When Amber had an ear ache, we got her antibiotics. When a fever needs to be broken, we use over the counter medicine. We just supplement our daily life with more natural remedies to help prevent the need for medicine in general. I have received not a lot, but several, e-mails that lead me to believe that some people have gotten the impression of Katy and I as hippies that don’t believe in anything that isn’t approved by PETA and the Vegan society! That is pretty laughable. All of you that know us should know that that is just not the case.
Now, we are past all of those experiences. Katy is actively participating in her own care (YEAH!), and continues to defy the odds and beat all of the expected time lines for recovery. She is a miracle. I will openly admit that the BEST thing that has EVER happened to me was marrying Katy. This experience doesn’t change that…it reinforces it. In our last 11 years together she has taught me SO much. She is still teaching me to this day. I can;t wait to see what I learn in the next 11 years!
A lot of people have written wanting to correspond with us. If you have written me, please understand that WE DO WANT TO TALK TO YOU! I just don’t have the time to write back now. I started to, but ever minute I spent writing, 24 other e-mails would arrive! Please, please, please don;t give up on us writing/talking to you. It just might take a couple of weeks before I can get to it. If you don’t hear from me in the next 2 weeks, then PLEASE write again. I know that Katy and I look forward to sharing your stories, and learning from you. We both thank all of you for taking the time to share.
Katy and I are going to TRY and take a drive tomorrow. The docotrs might (MIGHT) let me take her for a little while just to do a dry run of what it will be like for her to be in a car for when we return home. I think it will be nice to give Katy a drive-by tour of where I have been going while she has been at Parkland, and also to let her see the apartment where I have been staying until recently. Wish us luck!
Lastly, I want to address something that I hear every day. Every day I get all kinds of coorespondance telling me how great I am, or what a wonderful husband I have been, etc. I have done what I felt was my only choice. There were no other options in my opinion, and I could not see doing anything differently. If anyone had asked me if I could have done this a month before Katy went to the hospital, I would have said “no way.” It is amazing what we are capable of when the siuation presents itself. I know that most people, even if they think that they couldn’t, would have done something similar. There are stories during wars of mothers performing amazing feats of strength to save their children. I don’t believe that these women thought to themselves, “I can’t do that, there are bullets flying.” I think that they saw their child in danger, and they acted. That is how I feel about this situation. I saw my wife, my best friend, the mother of my children, and the woman I vowed to love to the end of time in need. I acted. It was simple, and it was instinctual. Please believe that you would, should situation arise, find the strength to act accordingly. I have to believe that about humanity. I believe that for all of our flaws, it is our unconscious goodness, sometimes in spite of ourselves, that is our redemption. I hope, though, that none of you ever have to find out what you are capable of. I would rather that this remains a hypothetial debate, and that we never test my theory. If the situation were to arise, thoug, please don’t prove me wrong.
Love to all,