Saturday, November 26, 2016
A Home Birth
During the first three years of marriage, I had three pregnancies that did not result in live children. You might call them acts of God.
When I finally gave birth to a full term, healthy baby, a hospital policy of feeding the newborn babies dextrose water led my baby to turn blue, which in turn led to testing to figure out what was wrong with the baby, which in turn led to a doctor suggesting that what was wrong was what one of my preemies had died of, which led to me saying to myself, "Here we go again, I guess Hashem doesn't want me to have live children."
In the end, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the baby and I was caused a lot of needless anguish.
So, the next time I found myself pregnant, I started toying with the idea of giving birth at home. Before I had a chance to look into it, I came across an article in Good Housekeeping magazine that profiled a family physician who specialized in home births who just happened to live not too far from where we were living at the time, Margate, NJ. Dr.Mary Slifer was considered a legend in the world of home births and had a booming practice. What a coincidence, I thought, an article in a national magazine about a doctor who lives 45 minutes away from me!
I decided to use her as my doctor and deliver at home. Many family members thought I was crazy. After all, I had already had so many problems with pregnancies. But Dr. Slifer only accepted low risk pregnancies, and my history did not put me in a high risk category. Plus, we lived a 10 minute drive from Atlantic City Hospital, where I could give birth in the Frank Sinatra Wing if need be (I just had to get that detail in), and our pediatrician was a good friend of ours and agreed to come over as soon as possible after the birth.
I went into labor at about 4 am and called the doctor according to the protocol she had given me. She told me to try to go back to sleep and call her when I couldn't sleep any more. By the time I woke up, I was well into labor and in the end, Dr. Slifer arrived about 10 minutes after I was ready to push. I did have two close friends in attendance, one of whom was attending nursing school, and one of the doctor's conditions of taking anyone on as a patient was that you read up on doing the delivery yourself, but I decided to hold on until the doctor's arrival.
Other than that glitch, which resulted in a very sore bottom from holding in the baby until the doctor arrived, everything went just swimmingly. Both Tamar and I came out of it perfectly healthy and it was a pleasure to give birth in my own bed and not to have to deal with all the annoyances of a hospital. Our friend the pediatrician arrived within an hour of the birth and declared Tamar good to go.
One amusing result of the home birth occurred when I called city hall to request a birth certificate in preparation for our aliyah. I was told that no one had given birth in Margate in about 50 years, as there was no hospital in town, and there had been no home births during that time. The only person who might know where the birth certificate forms were located, they told me, was on vacation and I would have to wait until she returned. Thankfully, I was able to obtain the certificate in time for our aliyah.
Here's an account of another one of Dr. Slifer's home births and it is right on the mark in its description of Dr. Slifer's quirks