Birth Tub Odyssey

I considered writing this blog post in the form of an Epic Poem. This story has most of the classic Epic elements: A Hero (in this case Heroines) of Legendary Proportions, Adventures of Super Human Strength and Valor (hours staring at incredibly similar items online, hauling massive tubs up and down stairs), a vast setting (China to Richmond and back!), and multiple sites of action (whats up, Ferguson!).  But, alas, this tale does not involve supernatural forces and I’m not sure this poet can remain objective and omniscient, so this is just going to be a regular blog post.

Have you ever noticed, tooling around online, looking at birth centers, that an awful lot of them have the sort of garden tub your mom might have had in her bathroom in 1994?  

filename-daddy-s-iphone.jpg


Often built in to corners, sometimes with outdated tiling, occasionally involving steps, birth center tubs seemed to us to be a design problem in otherwise beautiful birthing spaces.  Every so often you see a freestanding tub, usually appearing, in our browsing, to be way too narrow. These birth center built-ins and narrow tubes are nothing at all like the deep, wide, poofy blow-up birth tubs most homebirth midwives are used to.  

 Our favorite birth tub, the LA Basseine, is a dream of cozy, sturdy functionality.

Our favorite birth tub, the LA Basseine, is a dream of cozy, sturdy functionality.

When we set out on this Grand Birth Center Adventure, we naively and offensively assumed these tubs were a failure in taste among our midwife sisters.  Perhaps birth center midwives and designers had just not gotten the memo about Beautiful, Round Freestanding Tubs. Perhaps they had forgotten how nice it is during home water births that to be able to reach a client from all sides of the tub. Maybe they’d never watched HGTV?

The truth is that we had heard whispered tales about birth tub woes before. Through the grapevine we heard about a hospital labor-tub program where all of the expensive tubs were returned not once, but TWICE.  We heard from students who spent hours cleaning jetted tubs after messy water births because, their preceptors told them, they literally had no other tub options. We remembered hearing that tubs were delivered with jets when none were asked for and that plumbing was always, always an issue.  Another midwife had mentioned ominously, in passing, “good luck finding a freestanding tub, we tried”.


So we were smug then, when a quick search in google, lead us to Wayfair. On Wayfair, there seemed to be a plethora of tubs that appeared perfect for water birth. They looked fine, were strangely affordable, and about the right height and size. We wondered, “have midwives never been to Wayfair before?”  We felt worldly and wise, and in the middle of about 49 other renovations, a lake of paint, and the business of starting a new health care business, we didn’t look too carefully at the specs (actually we didn’t know there were specs) and clicked “proceed to checkout”.

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 8.37.27 AM.png


Our new tub began its journey to us from China.  


An Epic Adventure

 some of the perils on the journey

some of the perils on the journey

While we waited, we added plumbing to a bedroom where no plumbing was before.  To be clear, the amazing and patient Matt at New Day Mechanical installed the plumbing.  He worked like a surgeon performing reverse laparoscopic surgery. One small incision in the wall here, another two there, and one to let out the gas over there (there was no actual gas involved). Look inside, thread the plumbing in and voila!  

 Our ceiling, to this day

Our ceiling, to this day


The Tub arrived. Adrianna and Marinda muscled and rolled it up the stairs, all by themselves!  I was not there, but I imagine they felt very pleased with themselves (and possibly annoyed with me) as they set it in to place.  But…….it was not right. Bafflingly shallow. We texted each other pictures of ourselves in various labor positions and declared that “it had to work”.

 The most common labor position in water tubs

The most common labor position in water tubs

 At some point, most people do this too

At some point, most people do this too

Then we went back to painting a second or third coat on some trim. We had it plumbed in, and it looked beautiful. I posted a picture of the tub (in black and white because the walls were still the color of baby amoxicillin) on Instagram and it was a VERY popular post (for us, I don’t really understand IG). Okay, we thought, the tub is good.  It has to work.

 A moment in the spotlight, Instagram Fame

A moment in the spotlight, Instagram Fame


Paint trim, rip out flooring, imagine that all future clients will be 4’11”.  

That night, I took a bath in it.

You guys. It was AWFUL, and I wasn’t even remotely in labor.  Hard, slippery, so, so shallow. The combination of shallowness and largeness made it feel like I was just sitting naked on the floor in a vast puddle, which, well, I was.  The hard and narrow sides hit a strange part of my back and leaning over the edge in hands and knees - the most common water labor position - was a comedy of errors and bruising.  


Another time, my toddler had a great bath in it.  He declared it a “Great BIG BIG pool-bath!”. So there you have it. Thumbs-up from the under 3 set.

Resized_20181011_200158.jpg

  

It was with great sadness that the three of us convened the next morning and admitted to ourselves and each other that it had to go.  We had thirty days to return it.

And thus began The Great Tub Search.  We wanted a tub that was:

  1. Freestanding

  2. Water depth of at least 19 inches

  3. Circular or at least roundish

  4. Interior width of at least 36 inches

  5. Can fit in the building

This seemed like a reasonable list.  We learned more about bathtubs than we ever imagined was possible to know.  We learned that the Standard Depth of a tub in the USA is 14-17 inches. This, of course, is too shallow for anyone who is not a baby.  We learned that a “European depth” is 18 inches and that “Japanese or Greek depth” was 22 or more inches. We studied websites and we learned the listed measurements were often wrong.  So, we downloaded and studied the specs.

Now, we understand that people not concerned about humans emerging from bodies might not have the same sense of urgency over these few inches, but it was frustrating how difficult it was to determine “how deep is the tub”.  


You guys, there are thousands of freestanding tubs on the market. Who knew? They are mostly variations on the theme of “Banana Split Boat”.

 Exactly like this

Exactly like this


Or sometimes they are shaped like shoes or horse troughs. We kept searching.  

Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 1.04.35 PM.png

Japanese soaking tubs, we learned, were deep and round, but far too narrow for baby having. Like big buckets. We learned that those Friends-era built in garden tubs, usually jetted, offered the best depth, but we couldn’t and didn’t want to tile a tub in to the simple little 1930s bedroom that we loved. And NO JETS EWWW.  So we looked, and looked.

Late at night, loopy, I even tossed hilarious hospital birth tubs like this in to the ring.

150.jpg


Some of them are actually pretty cool, but mostly not available in the US (of course) or hospital-budget friendly not low-debt birth center budget friendly.

 I mean, this could be cool.

I mean, this could be cool.


And, no post about waterbirth tubs would be complete without this:

 I’ve always wanted to be a spaceship pilot!

I’ve always wanted to be a spaceship pilot!

or this

 Someone actually made this.

Someone actually made this.

 At this point, we considered scratching the whole birth center idea and opening a birth tub manufacturing company instead…

At this point, we considered scratching the whole birth center idea and opening a birth tub manufacturing company instead…

We did find one tub that was kind of perfect.  I present to you: The Aquatica Pamela.

 Yes,  Aquatica , this tub is perfect for our next birth suite! Construction starts soon!  hint, hint

Yes, Aquatica, this tub is perfect for our next birth suite! Construction starts soon! hint, hint

She wasn’t the prettiest tub at the prom, but she fit every single criteria. Except one. She wouldn’t fit in the birth center, up the stairs or in the room.  We contemplated removing doors, windows, trim, hiring a crane, and/or changing the entire layout of the birth center. She was also way out of budget. So we got special tub financing.

However, before clicking “buy now”, this time, like a pack of geniuses who learn from their mistakes, we made a template from an old sheet and laid it in the room.  No. No way. Way too big. Would be like a cereal bowl in a dollhouse.


We vowed to get Pamela for our next birth suite, because in all other ways, she is kind of perfect. At least we won’t have to go through this again in a few months.  

Finally, in an act of desperation we did what countless people before 2017 have done.  We went to a store.

 These still exist!

These still exist!


Now, I had been to another Ferguson the previous week and found a tub that would more or less work, but it wasn’t perfect.  Let’s call this tub “Barnabus”. Here, my husband and child demonstrate “how to make showroom workers uncomfortable”.

20180922_134840.jpg


At the time, convinced there was a perfect option, we dismissed Barnabus out of hand.

Back at Ferguson, this time, we scoured not just the internet but the dark web of shopping: industry catalogs.  We learned about the world of Very Expensive Tubs which included copper (the metal) and Solid Surface (the rock) and other rare elements.  We added “must not weigh more than 300 pounds” to our list. Armed with The List and a mountain of catalogs, Marinda and our wonderful sales worker Teresa McClellan, found us a short list of acceptable, or nearly acceptable, candidates.  With names like “Olivia”, “Elise” and “Adriann”, they were fancy versions of the banana split boat. Mostly they were too narrow, too heavy, and had a several week wait time. And were over five thousand dollars.  


Back to the Aquatica Pamela?  We did some more measuring and contemplated our life choices. Maybe we could make it work. MAYBE IF WE GAVE UP AND STARTED FROM SCRATCH.  Did we all cry? I’m not saying.


Enter, stage left. Barnabus. In a sea of almost-right Olivias and Pamelas, we had looked right past the almost-right Barnabus. There he was on my photo roll, comfortably accommodating a giant adult human and a small 10yo. His edges were wide enough to lean over, he was deep enough. He looked alright.

 See, looks almost right!

See, looks almost right!


We ordered him.


When he arrived from across town, we visited him at the Fergeson showroom.  He was good. A little underwhelming among all the shiny copper pennies and cold, hard rocks, but we took him home. (I mean, some strong workers brought him to the birth center).  

And here he is!  

 He fits in very nicely, we think, even without IG filters

He fits in very nicely, we think, even without IG filters




I have to say, he looks great!  So deep and cozy, lovely, freestanding.  We can get to all sides, he fit in the door.  

 Toddler contemplates life as a tub model

Toddler contemplates life as a tub model

Now, we just have to get Matt here to move the drain over three inches….

Stay tuned for reports on Barnabas in action!

(but seriously, we think this will be a wonderful place to labor and have a baby. It is deep and wider than it seems. One end is sloped for comfortable learning back or side-lying, and the other is straight, making hands and knees easier. The bottom is textured and not slippery and the sides are wide and easy to drape over without armpit bruises. We especially love how deep it is, so everyone, even tall people, can give birth in any position that makes sense for them.)

Well Person Care Extravaganza!

Its pap time! 10/08/18

duck bill.jpg



Many of our friends, clients and family members are not getting pap smears regularly.  We are not getting screened regularly.  It is easy to forget, or put it off. When the CDC changed the guidelines for most people to screen every 3 years instead of every year (yay!) it became even easier to put it off until the next visit.


Sometimes people get pap smears at the beginning of pregnancy care, but midwives often want to wait since those early tests have a higher false positive rate and are uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s just nice for those early appointments to be about building a relationship before more invasive procedures. Paps sometimes happen at the end of pregnancy care, but are not included in maternity billing so it is easy to put those off as well.  


Sometimes we avoid pap smears because we have had experiences that make them difficult.

Sometimes those experiences have been with providers.

Sometimes other things have happened in our lives that make pelvic exams hard.  

Some of us have experiences with provider bias.

On the best day, pelvic exams are NOT FUN.


We get it!


Yours truly (Linsey) had a very traumatic experience with a physician 20 years ago. I went nearly 10 years without a pap smear. Prior to this year, my last pap was in midwifery school when we practiced on each other. I am happy to say, however, that my pap a couple months ago with our very own Erin Parish-Gibson was great.


So, we were inspired to start our first annual event - a low key, low-cost, low stress well-person day!  This day only we are offering pap smears *at our cost*. If you can’t afford that, let us know and we will figure it out.  JUST COME ON IN! Of course we offer all of these services every month, but this is a low cost, fun (as fun as we can make it!) event.  We want to make it as easy as possible for you. We will have chocolate, tea, mimosas for adults and snacks and toys for kiddos. All four midwives will be here to help with your kids and chat with you.


Call us at 804-601-6992 or email rivercitybirthcenter@gmail.com.  Or you know where to find us on social media.  


Here are more details:

  • Pap smear/HPV at cost $30.00 NO STIRRUPS

  • Birth Control consult $15.00

  • IUD removal - free

  • IUD consults and insertions (let us know in advance, this is priced out per device and can go through insurance)

  • Herbal Consults $20.00

  • STI testing at cost (inquire about specifics)



Also!  

Door Prizes!  Tea and Coffee! Mimosas!  Chocolate! Music! Kid friendly! No Stirrups!



Birth Center Week 2 Update

Week 2

 Baby Ephraim helping!

Baby Ephraim helping!

I want to start this week 2 update by sharing that we have been humbled by and are so appreciative of the outpouring of support from the community. Your words of encouragement and support mean so much to us. Starting a new business is perhaps a little bit like having a baby, and small words of encouragement help get us through that last coat of paint, the last coding error on the website or hiccup with legal paperwork. Thank you! We want this birth center to be centered in community and connection, and look forward to giving back and serving the community for years to come.

So, we are 12 days in to the lease on our new space, and things are moving right along. We open for clinic in 10 days! So far, Marinda, Adrianna and I plus family and community members have been here every day working very hard. We have been painting. Did you all know that Adrianna used to work on a painting crew? She is an amazing painter! What do you think of these colors? Imagine art on the walls and colorful but simple mid century furniture.

 New paint colors, obligatory accent wall 

New paint colors, obligatory accent wall 

We have pulled up three rooms of carpet, carpet padding and approximately 30575038 staples. Currently we are getting bids for floor refinishing. We hoped a buff and coat would do the job but it looks like a full sanding is necessary.

 Marinda pulling staples

Marinda pulling staples

And then we need furniture. We are hoping to eventually transition to fully mid-century antiques, but the market is so high for them right now. If you happen to have any mid century beauties laying around that you'd like to sell to us, please let me know! We are in the market for shelves, a credenza (or nice low dresser), a couple couches and 4 chairs. For pieces we can't afford used (haha!) we are waiting for a sweet baby girl to come earthside, and then plan to drive to DC for some IKEA furniture.

Business updates: we have several clients in care already, and have tours planned for early September. I built the website in record speed, but our SEO is terrible. We know that takes time. If you have a website, you know link-backs are so helpful. We would definitely appreciate and reciprocate links.

We have a few very exciting projects and community partnerships in the works. We can't wait to tell you about them! Stay tuned!

Do you have any questions for us? Email us or post in the comments <3

-Linsey

 Random vintage find in our building

Random vintage find in our building

Hello World!

midwivesrivercitymidwifery.jpg

Hello Richmond!

 

We are Linsey Kornya CPM, LM, Adrianna Ross CPM, LM and Marinda Shindler. We are excited to announce we are opening up a new birth center in Richmond! We have formed a group practice, River City Midwifery, that provides home birth and birth center care for families in central and eastern Virginia. Along with Erin Parish-Gibson, CNM we will be providing inclusive and holistic well care, including pap smears and STI screening. We offer holistic and medical birth control options along with fertility and assisted reproductive consults and limited services. We are excited, Richmond!

Linsey, Adrianna and Marinda have all experienced working in busy birth centers, smaller birth centers and home birth practices. We are bringing together the aspects of each that we love most. Our practice is grounded in the type of collaborative preventative care we love in home birth practices: small volume, low-risk and evidence-informed. We value taking the time to listen and understand. We also love the access a birth center can afford to more advanced skills and higher level care providers while providing midwives with a little more life-work balance. We look forward to being rested and fresh at your births!

Located in beautiful lakeside, our birth center is across from the farmer's market on Lakeside Avenue. We are a short walk from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and Bryan Park and minutes off of major regional highways. We are currently carefully and minimally renovating the historic home that will be our birth center. Phase 1, which includes a birth suite with a private entrance and kitchen, will be complete December 1st. We are opening our clinic and community space September 1st!

Please read more about us and our practice on our website. Let us know if you have any questions. Our community resource page is a work in progress, and we know we missed some of the amazing people out there doing amazing work around childbirth, pregnancy and maternal health. Please let us know if you would like to be included!

We want to thank the birth and medical community of Richmond for the support and encouragement we have received. We want this to be your birth center, so if you have any ideas or thoughts about how we can better serve you, or ways we can support you or an awesome project you know about, please let us know! We plan to post frequent updates, so if you haven't already, like our Facebook page an follow us on Instagram @rivercitymidwifery!