Last Thursday, Matt and I drove and hour and fifteen minutes to meet Merideth, our homebirth midwife.
She lives out in the middle of nowhere. Driving to her house made me dizzy- farm, farm, another farm, cows… Her website refers to her as the ‘central New York midwife’ but she is at least an hour away from the central part of New York. We thought we were lost multiple times. It was a scenic drive, though.
The road she lives on was dirty. It wasn’t a dirt road, but instead a regular paved road with a bunch of dirt everywhere. You could tell it didn’t see much traffic. We pulled onto her road, which was rather steep and curvy, and we immediately see a giant house on the left hand side with a huge white cross on the side of it. Oh boy.
It’s not that Matt and I are judgmental towards the religious folks. Instead, we’ve found that the religious crowd tends to be pretty judgmental against us. So. We avoid.
We didn’t know the house number, so I’m scrambling with my phone looking for it, while he drives slowly and scans the area. Thick woods, a barn, a STRANGE number of yaks (seriously! what would someone do with a bunch of yaks?!), and some old worn down houses. We drove a mile and a half before turning around. We passed an entrance to a state forest. We passed a shack. We were a little sketched out. What midwife would decide that this was the best area for her business?!
We turn around. We pass all the homes, scanning the house numbers(many of them weren’t even on the mailboxes), until we reach the huge house on the end. The one with the big fat cross staring at us. There is no sign for a midwifery practice. Matt tells me, “You know, there’s no shame in just going home.” He did NOT want to go into that house! I insist, saying that if she’s some sort of ‘jesus freak’ then I just won’t talk to her anymore. This was a consultation after all.
Our car barely makes it up her steep dirt driveway, and then almost doesn’t make it up her even steeper path to her dirt ‘parking lot’. We were nervous, to say the least. I guzzle down some water and we head it.
And then, something amazing happened. I opened the door to the most serene, loving, welcoming face I could have ever imagined. Merideth smiles at me and shakes our hands. To the left of me, there was a large window with the sun coming through the light white curtains. There’s stained glass in the window, along with a table topped with more. On the table are teacups and saucers, a teapot, and multiple kinds of tea. To my right, a large open room. The lights were dim and comfortable. A woman passes me on her way out, smiling and thanking Merideth. There’s another woman in the room. I later found out she was a midwife-in-training, and had asked Merideth if she could sit in on one of her sessions. We were invited to sit on a large couch. This place looked nothing like a doctor’s office! It was a sight to see.
Once on the couch, I noticed a huge hearth. There was a wood stove in the room! It popped away and was so comforting. In front of us was a coffee table covered with books about birth, labor, and pregnancy. Merideth sat in a chair across from us. I could peek a little into the adjacent room- an exam table was in there, but I couldn’t see much else. It wasn’t covered in paper, or made of metal. It was a gorgeous wooden table, with a leather topped cushion. I never actually went into that room, but I assume I probably will soon. There we’re book cases everywhere! It made me fairly excited- I’m a huge fan on libraries.
Merideth soon began her introduction. No papers to fill out. No intrusive questions. Just “what made you decide you wanted a homebirth?” We watched a short video that another midwife had made and shared. Homebirth patients shared their views on hospital births and why the loved their homebirths. After, we learned all about Merideth’s credentials. I even saw her high school diploma- haha 🙂 We discussed how passionate we both are about birth. We talked about how many births she’s attended. We learned what sort of equipment she carries on her to every birth, in case of any sort of emergencies. We cleared up Matt’s fear that she wouldn’t be able to make it to our birth on time. We even discussed breastfeeding, and of course I started crying.
When I was trying to breastfeed Lily, it was something I wanted to do, not something I needed to do. It was what I had planned. I was upset that I couldn’t but I wasn’t heartbroken- not then. My feelings on breastfeeding have changed dramatically. My heart is sad. I wish so badly that I could have had that bonding experience with her. I now know exactly why we failed to breastfeed. Merideth said that it was ‘wonderful’ that I pumped for as long as I did. She told me that she was ‘proud’ that I was so committed. No one has ever said that to me before! Well, maybe someone has, but no one has ever said it with such compassion. So, yeah, that sent me over the edge. She promised to be right there when I needed her, to help with any breastfeeding issues I may have. She said she would be there from the moment of birth until I don’t need her anymore. My heart swelled.
We also talked about insurance. This is the hardest part about having a homebirth- affording it! It’s ridiculous. Merideth asks for $4,500 for her services. That covers every appointment, multiple home visits before and after birth, and the birth itself. She also asks for $500 for her assistant’s payment. If you want to rent a birth tub, there’s $200 more. I’m sure there’s going to be a birth kit in there, too. Now, insurance does cover midwives. They will pay for homebirths. However, if you are going with an out-of-network doctor, like Merideth, you have a file a claim, instead of just having your doctor’s biller do it. Merideth asks for the money upfront. If you pay it in full before 36 weeks, she will give you a %10 discount. After the birth, you can file a claim with your insurance and be reimbursed. The problem is, I don’t have $5,000+ sitting around! Matt and I can’t just drop that kind of money and wait for the insurance to reimburse us.
On top of all that, the insurance company I had doesn’t like to accept claims. They also like to only pay for $1,200. So. I have to switch insurances.
Now, Merideth did say she can work with us. She said if we can pay a $500 down payment, then she can wait until our insurance pays the rest. That is if I can switch to the better insurance. So we would only need $1,000+ out of pocket.
We discussed all of this while sitting on her couch, petting a very fluffy friendly cat who decided to join us. Matt stayed quiet for the most part. It’s not that he doesn’t care or isn’t interested. I think it was more of him listening and agreeing. He knows little about pregnancy, labor, and birth, so it was all kind of out of his realm. We all chatted for 2 and a half hours. When we left, Merideth hugged me and we all promised to see each other soon.
Needless to say, I am happy that I’ve found her. I now have a well qualified midwife to take complete care of me throughout my pregnancy and beyond. Not only is she extremely passionate, she is also educated and certified. She is constantly going to conferences and meetings. She makes me feel like I can completely trust her with this. There is no doubt in my mind that she would make the right decisions and help me birth this baby the way I want to. How many doctor’s have you met that honestly care about you? That respect your decisions? That educate you? That give you many options for care? That really listen? Merideth is wonderful. She offers all the support I would ever need, including emotional support. She is motherly, which I think I really need. Her eyes are loving. I feel confident that I could have a homebirth without fear. She is truly a midwife, in all aspects of the term.
Oh, and guess what? She’s not a jesus freak! Well, at least from what I can tell. Once or twice there were mentions of ‘our creator’ or ‘faith’ but nothing that bothered us.
I plan on calling her soon and arranging our first prenatal visit.
If you would like to see her website, it’s here.