Ep 105: Teen Pregnancy, Threats from the Hospital, Home Miscarriage and a Rainbow Homebirth with Alissa Otto

You’re listening to episode 105 of the Happy Homebirth Podcast.

How long did you wait to tell your friends and family about your pregnancy?  No time? 8 weeks? 12 weeks?  What about 6 months?  Today’s episode with Alissa covers an incredible array of stories, and she bears her soul with her experience.  I feel so honored that she shared her stories, and I know you’ll feel the same when you hear them.  I do of course like to mention when stories contain especially difficult situations, and I will aware you that she did have some very traumatic events occur at the hospital, and we will discuss a miscarriage.  These topics are so important to discuss, but of course I want to be sensitive to those who are approaching birth or who are in a place where they would prefer to wait until a later time to listen.  Otherwise, enjoy this amazing woman’s stories.

Show Notes:

Alissa’s first experience of pregnancy came at the age of seventeen.  She herself did not realize she was pregnant for quite a bit.  In fact, she ran an entire season of Cross Country and began the basketball season before anyone knew.  The realization of her pregnancy, however, came in a very public way, as she danced during a half-time show with her dance team.  Her shirt came up, and all saw that she was pregnant.  She hadn’t even told her family at this point, and she was 6 months pregnant.

Alissa says that no one gave her a hard time about her pregnancy, and everyone stood by her.   

Once everyone found out, she and her child’s father went to planned parenthood to receive care and figure out where to got an OB.  They measured her belly and told Alissa there was nothing they could do to support her.

Her first labor was incredibly fast, and she was actually only at the hospital for about 15 minutes before her baby arrived.  However, in that time she received both an episiotomy and had a vacuum delivery. Immediately following, she was simply proud of herself for having an unmedicated birth and knew she would do so again in the future (she’s highly afraid of needles—no way she’d have an epidural!)

13 years later, after marrying her husband, she became pregnant again.  They were in Texas for the majority of the pregnancy, and were planning a birth center birth with a midwife. 

Their anatomy scan showed bilateral choroid cysts, which had her very stressed.  Apparently it usually self-resolves, but when it doesn’t it can be fatal.  There’s nothing to be done for it, so they decided to remain calm and not do any additional testing. 

Around 28 weeks pregnant, they moved back home at the end, and decided that they would give birth in the hospital with a community OB who was greatly recommended.  She seemed to be comfortable with natural options.

She went into labor at 41 weeks, when her water broke, though there was no fluid.  She had another traumatic birth experience where no one listened to her requests— even the ones the doctor had signed off on.  She was only in the hospital an hour before baby was born, but her rights were trampled on constantly.  The next morning, they planned to leave, but the doctors told her that her Hep B results came back as positive, and they couldn’t leave the hospital without giving the baby the Hep B injection.  She refused, and knew that the results were incorrect.  She told them again and again to recheck, and they wouldn’t budge.  Finally they signed papers “allowing” them to leave, although legal action was threatened.  A week later, her doctor called to tell her the original results were wrong—they’d given her someone else’s results.  During that phone call, Alissa’s milk finally came in.

Alissa’s 3rd birth was a heartbreaking miscarriage at 10 weeks.  They learned that the baby had stopped growing at 6 weeks, and she wanted to miscarry naturally at home.  This happened over the span of a week, which she was very surprised about.  After losing a large amount of blood, they went to the hospital and found out that a small piece of placenta was adhered to the cervix.  Once the piece was removed, she stopped bleeding.  Alissa wants to shed light on the fact that miscarriages are labor and birth, and they should be treated and understood as such.  

She became pregnant with her rainbow baby two months later, and her family was thrilled.  She finally had the beautiful, peaceful homebirth that she deserved.

Episode Roundup: 

  1. Birth trauma is real, and it can impact our postpartum, our bond, and our mental and physical health.  This is a reminder that if you experience trauma or abuse with your care provider or nurses, you can report it.  There can be serious consequences for these types of situations for mother and baby, and those responsible should be held responsible.  
  2. Miscarriages are labor and miscarriages are birth.  I’m so grateful for Alissa sharing how her natural miscarriage happened, how she experienced it, and how it impacted her.  I know so many of you have been in her shoes, and my heart goes out to you.  Your baby matters, and your experience matters.
  3. And finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  After several incredibly difficult experiences, Alissa went on to have a glorious, triumphant homebirth.  A birth that was a huge step in the direction of healing, and that is what I wish for us all.