The final installment in the saga of our dear Katie's birth. We are so very thankful for God's faithfulness and sovereignty.
Part 6 - Looking back
In retrospect, having researched and studied the issues involved, we do not believe that Katie was in any real danger. We think that if we had taken her home at one day old, she would have healthy and happy.
Here are two huge reasons why:
1) The only reason her bilirubin counts were alarming was that she was labeled a preemie. But she wasn't truly a preemie. 37 weeks gestation is not premature. And remember, the one reason they rated her at 34 weeks was because of her loose hips, which were only loose because she was frank breech. We believe she would have been fine going home and bathing in sunshine and soaking up love from her parents and siblings, instead of being stuck in a hospital incubator under artificial lights, away from the loving arms of her family.
2) The other panic factor for the hospital staff was the threat of Group B Strep. We had not studied up on this well enough, and did not know enough to protect our baby from necessary antibiotic use.
As mentioned earlier, we were told that an infant who contracts Group B strep from his or her mother is dealing with a fast-acting, life-threatening infection, though the bacteria is harmless to the mother. However, several months later, we learned from a leading maternal-fetal specialist that the significant risk of transfer of Group B strep occurs when the amniotic sac is broken for at least 18 hours before the birth of the baby. When the window of possible exposure is smaller than 18 hours, risk of transfer is very minimal. Remember the story of Katie's arrival? Her window of exposure was probably less than two seconds. And yes, we think someone should have been knowledgeable enough and honest enough to share this critical information with us.
The effects of the whole experience surrounding Katie's birth have been significant. I'll touch on a few of them.
I suppose the most glaring result of our hospital experience is the fact that we have since returned home to Kansas for the births of our subsequent babies in order to have the attendance of a legal midwife. If the Lord blesses us with any more while we are in Missouri, we of course look forward to having a baby in our own home once again with a legal CPM! But for Grace's and Stephen's births, this was not a legal option. Within a couple of weeks after Katie's birth, we were firm in our conviction that we would not subject another of our children to birth in a hospital setting unless there were a legitimate medical reason to do so.
We became involved with Friends of Missouri Midwives within a couple months of our move to the state, and have been actively involved ever since. However, our experience following Katie's birth strengthened our commitment to helping legalize midwives in Missouri. This, coupled with the challenges of having to leave the state to have our babies, has helped us to press on with the efforts of our amazing midwifery advocacy community in Missouri.
It is not uncommon for the Lord to allow us experience things to give us the opportunity to become more understanding of those with whom we come in contact. Before our experience following Katie's birth, I tended to be judgmental of folks whom I saw as kowtowing to the medical profession and accepting what doctors said at face value without bothering to do their own research, ask lots of questions, etc. I am more firmly convinced than ever of the importance of being a well-informed consumer, and of remembering that the medical industry's proper role is to provide a service to consumers instead of dictating to them. But I know now from personal experience how gut-wrenching it is when they play the “your loved one could die/suffer irreparable damage if you don't do what we say” card. I know the questioning, the self-doubt, the sense of helplessness to educate yourself adequately under pressure. And I find myself much more understanding of folks who don't do things the way I would do them.
As with all things in life, I pray that the Lord will use this experience as He works to conform us to the image of Christ, and, ultimately more important, to bring glory to Himself.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Katie's Birth Story -
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, The Power of a Picture