All in Due Time: Perspectives on Childbirth from Deaf Parents

Rarus: Introductions

Brandi introduces herself (1:19)

English Summary

Brandi was born hearing and became deaf from a bout with spinal meningitis when she was 6. Although she is profoundly deaf, she has speaking skills because of the age she became deaf. She was educated orally in a classroom of hard of hearing students and learned to sign by interacting with deaf children during recess. She studied Social Work at NTID/RIT. She married Tim and they moved to Kansas City. She worked for Sprint for 11 years. Her children are: Blake, 5; Chase, 3 and Austin who is 7 months old. She has recently begun working for CSD in Sioux Falls in their marketing department.

Tim introduces himself. (0:37)

English Summary

Tim is from the 4th generation of Deaf people in his family. He graduated from the Arizona School for the Deaf and went to Gallaudet. He graduated with a degree in Government in 1989. After working in D.C. for a while, he moved to Kansas City, Texas and eventually to Sioux Falls to work for the Interpreting Division at CSD supervising both community and video relay interpreting services.

Rarus: First Child

Brandi describes their journey of becoming pregnant and delivering their first child. Technical processes include: in vitro fertilization; premature labor; epidural injection; cervical dilation. (3:41)

English Summary

Tim and Brandi tried for several years to get pregnant. All the tests showed that there were no apparent reasons they could not conceive. It was very frustrating because they wanted to know what was wrong so they could fix it. They tried using fertility drugs, although it made Brandi nervous because they brought with them an increased risk of ovarian cancer. They tried in-vitro fertilization. On their first attempt, two eggs fertilized, one survived and Brandi was pregnant at last. She remembers how excited she was. She bought maternity clothes before she even really began showing. She thinks the first pregnancy was probably the best one because she was so excited, she didn’t have any other kids to look after at the same time, and Tim treated her like a queen. At about 28 weeks, she went into premature labor. At first she thought it was just Braxton Hicks contractions but they were more intense than she’d felt before. She went to the doctor and found she was dilated to 3cm. She remembers the nurse telling her (without an interpreter) that she had to go home and rest. Brandi said she had an important meeting she couldn’t miss and had to go back to work. She finally convinced them that she would rest as soon as she got back from her out of town meeting. They sent her home with instructions to call them if the contractions continued. Brandi went back to work, but continued to feel contractions. She called the doctor and was told to go back to the hospital to labor & delivery. She went in and they attached electrodes to her stomach. They gave her a muscle relaxant (most likely Magnesium Sulphate) that caused problems because it blurred her vision. Brandi eventually demanded the doctor stop the IV because she couldn’t see. Her interpreter had to sign right in her face in order for Brandi to understand. It was horrible.

Brandi stayed in the hospital a few days and then went on bed rest for the rest of her pregnancy. She was put on medication to keep the contractions from coming back. At 38 weeks, she stopped taking the medication. She envisioned a quick labor and delivery right after she stopped. But a week went by and still no labor. She was used to being a very active person and could not stand to stay home any more. Tim interrupts Brandi to ask if that was when she ate pickles dipped in peanut butter to try to trigger labor. Brandi corrects him and says it was jalapenos because he told her it would work.

Brandi asked the doctor to induce labor because by that time she was going stir crazy. The doctor agreed to induce labor. Once induced, the whole thing went very fast. They put in the IV at around 6 in the morning and broke her water at around 7:30. Up until that time, Brandi watched the contractions on the monitor, but they didn’t hurt. When they broke her water, she felt the pain of contractions for the first time. All she wanted was the epidural right then. She had to wait for some fluids to go thru the IV, and remembers the nurse squeezing the IV bag to empty it as fast as possible. Finally they gave her the shot and she felt better.

By 9:30, she was at 10 cm but the doctor wasn’t ready yet. The baby was born around 11, so the whole process really went fast. It was an experience she’ll never forget.

Rarus: Second Child

Brandi describes their second birth which included induction of labor through IV. (1:30)

English Summary

Brandi became pregnant naturally the second time. They don’t know why it was different, but were excited about the pregnancy. They knew this baby was a boy (they didn’t know the sex of the first baby until it was born). They were still in Texas at the time, so Brandi had the same doctor as the first pregnancy and told him that she knew she would want to induce again because she could not stand to be inactive that long. She also got sick with the second pregnancy. She was sick for about 4 months. In addition, for the first 12 weeks she was terribly depressed (something she’d never experienced before). On her due date, she went into the hospital at 6 a.m. to induce labor. This time, she was not dilated at all when she went in. After the IV was in for 20 minutes or so, she dilated to 4 cm. Things went very fast again and her baby was born at about 9:30.

Rarus: Third Child

Brandi describes their third birth which included induction of through a process called “stripping.”(4:39)

English Summary

The third pregnancy was probably the best in terms of ease in conceiving – again, it was natural. However, this time Brandi was very sick. She was hospitalized because she was dehydrated and could not keep any food down at all. To make matters worse, they had just moved to Sioux Falls (a big change from Texas). It was the first time they’d been through a real winter in years, she was pregnant and sick. It was horrible. The illness went away at about the 5th-6th month. Because they moved, Brandi had a different doctor than before. She explained how her first two deliveries had been induced. The doctor didn’t take to the idea very well. Brandi explained how she “couldn’t wait” for each delivery and that both deliveries had been very fast with the inducement. The doctor was a little more open to the idea, but still not convinced.

About two weeks before her due date, Brandi began to experience nausea and diarrhea again and her mood changed. When she went in for her checkup, she was dilated to around 2 cm. The doctor did a procedure called “stripping” to help things along. She remembers how the doctor’s hand came out all bloody and that she had severe cramping after the procedure. The doctor said the baby could come any time between then and two weeks. Brandi bought a new car seat for the baby and went home. She experienced some contractions in the night, but they weren’t very hard. Brandi called the doctor in the morning around 6 and was told that the contractions were caused by uterine irritation from the procedure they had done. The doctor recommended a hot bath. The bath helped some, but the contractions continued. At around 10, she called the doctor’s office again and told them she felt that she was dilated. When she told them her contractions were 8-15 minutes apart and irregular, the nurse told her she was not yet in labor. The nurse offered to make an appointment at the office for 1:00 that afternoon, just to check. She called Tim to come and take her to the doctor’s office. One of the memories Brandi has of that day was that she was collecting bids for housekeeping services and ended up having to talk particulars between contractions. She just laughs at what the people from the cleaning service had to deal with that day.

When the doctor checked her at 1:00, Brandi was already at 7 cm. They rushed over to labor and delivery and sure enough, the baby was born by 3:00.

One thing Brandi says is a bit unusual about her birth experiences is that she sees them as a big party – a chance for all their friends and family to celebrate. She always used a friend to interpret for her. She had her family, Tim’s sister and several friends with her through the deliveries. For her, it’s a wonderful time – time to enjoy the miracle of bringing a new life into the world. All three of her deliveries were wonderful (although the pregnancies themselves weren’t). She had candles, bought herself a new bathrobe, lots of wonderful things to enjoy. And that’s her summary of the three children’s births.

Concluding Thoughts

Tim shares some concluding thoughts about his role in the process and they share how they are adding to their family in the future. (1:51)

English Summary

For Tim, he felt his job was to be there and offer support and he prayed that he didn’t say anything she didn’t want to hear. He also feels that the birth experiences were very positive. Nothing horrible was said and they all were wonderful experiences. He was nervous and unsure for the first one. Not sure if he should offer help or leave Brandi and the doctors to their work. He wasn’t sure if he was to help with the delivery or stand back and let nature take its course. Luckily the interpreter was a friend and that helped. Without that, he doesn’t know how he would have done. The interpreter for all three deliveries was always a close friend.

Tim doesn’t have much else to say other than he’s happy that he has three boys, “my three sons” and all. He knows that his “other half” (Brandi) is still hoping for a girl. To make that dream come true, they are flying to China to adopt a baby girl in the summer of 2004. Right now they are in the process of doing all the paperwork. Then they’ll have the three boys and one girl.

And, as Tim puts it: “That’s all, folks.”

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