Anyone Use the Childbirth Midwives in Fort Lee, NJ? - Mothering Forums
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania > Anyone Use the Childbirth Midwives in Fort Lee, NJ?
AllieG77's Avatar AllieG77 12:45 PM 05-12-2009
I'm due in October and just moved back to hudson county, NJ. I'm looking for a good midwife situation in a hospital setting that is pro-natural birth. I've heard iffy things about the Avalon midwives, but haven't heard a single thing about the Childbirth and Women' Wellness Center midwives in Fort Lee. They deliver at Palisades Hospital in Edgewater and work with Dr. Brescia, who was my regular gyn years ago before getting prego (and I liked him a lot).

Anyone have experience delivering at Palisades with these midwifes? They are Lonnie Morris, Donna Tabas, & Deborah Bohnen. Here's a link to their practice.

Thanks in advance!

meganmarie's Avatar meganmarie 01:59 PM 05-12-2009
I delivered with them when they were at their old office in Englewood and at their previous hospital (Pascack Valley - which closed last year). I saw Lonnie and Donna for appointments - in the end Lynn was there for my birth, I see she's not with the practice any longer based on your list. It was a smooth pregnancy with no scare tactics, I had a fabulous intervention-free natural birth in the hospital, and I would go back to them again if DH would agree to baby #3.

I love Donna, she's warm, patient, friendly and just terrific. Lonnie is eclectic and flaky - not warm and fuzzy - but she's got decades of experience trying to make natural birth happen in the system and from everything I've heard her success rates with unmedicated birth, VBAC etc. are excellent.

Like all midwives in NJ, they operate in a constrained manner based on malpractice insurance, hospital policies, and state laws. I genuinely believe they do the best they can within these constraints and trying to balance honoring mama's preferences and supporting normal birth with the ever-present risk of being censured and losing hospital privileges or insurance coverage.

They haven't been at Palisades very long (a year?) so its hard to find women on this board who have delivered there, but hopefully you will get lucky.

The office used to do a regular weekly "talk" where you could just go meet a midwife, see the office, ask questions (with other interested couples there too) - a good low key way to confirm if you might be interested. You might call the office and see if they still offer this option.
AllieG77's Avatar AllieG77 02:15 PM 05-12-2009
Thanks Megan, I'll check in about the visiting hours for the practice. Great idea. Hubby says they used to call Palisades the Chop Shop about 40 years ago, but I hear it's moved since and undergone major changes.
meganmarie's Avatar meganmarie 03:53 PM 05-12-2009
Palisades c/s rate was 29% in 2008 - relatively low for the state - actually 6th lowest out of the 50 or so hospitals in NJ.

Amandala's Avatar Amandala 07:07 PM 05-12-2009
My husband and I did not like Lonnie at all, and in fact wound up switching at the last possible minute, 10% due to the fact that I wound up having to have a C-section anyway, and 90% due to having completely had it with Lonnie. She does NOT answer questions; if you ask her something, no matter how concerned about it you are, all she says is some variation on "when *I* was pregnant, *I*...". My husband joked that if I came in and said I had purple ears growing on my arse she'd say, "You should have SEEN the purple ears I had on my butt when *I* was pregnant!" She never suggested anything I could do to help me deal with issues I was having. Back pain so bad you can't fall asleep all night? Well *I* had SUCH terrible back pain when *I* was pregnant...
We both left her office more often than not feeling like any concerns we had were totally not addressed.

I wanted a water birth and told her so when I first walked in there. She said that they were absolutely set up for water birth, and then when the zero hour approached, I went on a tour at the hospital (yeah, should have gone sooner, I know) and they said that you couldn't deliver in the tub, it was just for "pain management". I went back to Lonnie and asked her about this and she didn't miss a beat before saying, "well, it's a labor tub really..."
...At the last minute! And only because I heard it from the hospital first! What, was she planning to just drag me out of the tub at the last minute by surprise?

We just got a really not-good feeling about her from square 1, but stayed because we heard she had an excellent reputation and because finding a new midwife seemed way too daunting.

When we found out the baby was breech, she didn't offer us any advice or suggestions as to what we might try doing at all. All she told me was to go home and stand on my head. We had to interrogate her to get her to just suggest calling an OB to try an external version! Then I had to come home and go on the computer to find out about going to a chiropractor for the webster technique, acupuncture, swimming, or anything else.

The last straw was after it finally came down that I had to have a c-section, and she told us to show up at the hospital at 2:30 on Wednesday afternoon and my relations drove from Long Island NY to meet us at the hospital only to get a call from her at 2:45 pm saying no, it was going to have to be the next day instead.

She's not in network with my insurance, and we paid the full fee - which was supposed to have included the birth! - in advance. When we wound up not having the birth with her, we didn't get any of that back.

That's just my experience.
kimilia's Avatar kimilia 07:48 PM 05-12-2009
I had a similar experience with Lonnie as the previous poster. She delivered my first child, but I never felt connected to her. She seemed very distant and was very, very pro-circ (we had a girl, so it didn't matter in the end, but I was unhappy about the fact that she was pushing for us to use her to circumsize a boy if we had one).

I used Avalon for my second birth and had a wonderful, warm, caring experience. So, I actually think that you should visit both centers and see what your gut reaction is.

If we have a third, I will be going again with Avalon.

PM me if you have any additional questions about either of my births.
AllieG77's Avatar AllieG77 12:45 PM 05-13-2009
Wow- that sounds like a pretty yucky experience. Our insurance doesn't have out of network benefits, so we're going to have a petition for an exception if we decide to go with Lonnie and Co. We're going on an informational tour or whatever you call it- a meet and greet- next Tuesday. I'm also going to talk to Judith Hagan about a home birth and with Dr. Parchment about a hospital birth. I guess I ought to check out the Avalon situation a little more thoroughly, although I have heard they are not particularly pro-natural birth, they suggest breaking your water and push pitocin on you and are essentially just like nurses.
rclaz's Avatar rclaz 10:44 PM 05-13-2009
I'm sad to say that I also had a not so great experience with Lonnie. I spoke to Donna on the phone and really liked her a lot, though. My story is roughly that I used to live in Hoboken. Dr's Brescia and Mig were my OBs there. I really loved them. I had a CC with my DD due to a placenta previa. We moved to Nyack, NY and I didn't have a dr or midwife yet. It was really important for me to have a pro vbac caregiver. Someone who would support me, and keep me safe. I'm not interested in super risk taking, but I want every encouragement for my body to do what it was made for as far as birth. Anyhow, Lonnie came highly recommended. I went on the "meet and greet." It is done in her offices in fort lee with a bunch of other couples. She seemed really nice to me, answered all the questions. VERY pro VBAC, etc. I did, however get a funny feeling about the birthing tubs. I asked if it cost extra and she didn't want to answer my question. I pushed and she admitted that, yes, it did. My gut said to call the hospital the next day, so I did. I asked them about the tubs and they said it's all dependent on whether one was available and not broken. That, currently, only one was available. I asked if I could rent one and bring it in. Very strong NO. Okay, so that was a little red flag. But, she had said everything I wanted to hear during the meet and greet so I switched to her. My first appt she barely spent any time with me. I had some past fertility issues and concerns, so I connection was important to me. She had one foot out the door. I followed her to her office where she proceeded to take a 15 minute phone call giving someone directions. Her nurse pestered me to fill out my transfer papers. I mean like at least 6 times. I didn't want to fill them out until I got a chance to talk to Lonnie...which I wasn't getting. In the end, I felt like I never really got a chance to really talk with her. A few days later, I got my blood test results back from the OB I had been seeing from the first screen. I passed, but just barely and was concerned. I called Lonnie's office to talk to them about it. Lonnie said, quite roughly, "well, do you want an amnio?" I said, "no..." She said, "well, then it's normal." I said, "but, just barely." She said, "so you want an amnio?" I said, "no." She said, "Okay then, it's normal!" That was it. I talked to my husband about it and he had lots of questions. so I called back to find out what drove my numbers, to help me understand what was making me higher risk. She didn't take my call. Her nurse called me back to tell me that I could call the high risk doc they partner with and set up an appt if I had more questions. Meanwhile, she never gave me a name or phone number to do so. Right then and there I thought FORGET THIS! I'm not a high maintenance person. But, I do have a history of infertility, miscarriage and then placenta previa. When I get a test back that isn't so great, I pay attention and try to understand. I tried my hardest to explain that to her when we met. Anyhow, it just wasn't for me. She does have a great reputation, though, and probably is the right fit for a certain woman. I've visited Palisades when I was pregnant with DD in 2006. At the time they were very traditional, monitor, bed, etc. I asked and they flat out told me no. I'd be in bed, hooked up, that was that. I have heard since Lonnie has been there that there has been a major turn around. I think you'll just have to meet her and see how it feels. But, I do echo the sentiment on the birthing tubs and not getting the full story, and her not being available to really answer questions when you need help. As a side note, I had also called about swelling in my legs. She never spoke to me then either. I spoke to her nurse. Anyhow, good luck!!!
marisa724's Avatar marisa724 12:02 AM 05-14-2009
Originally Posted by AllieG77 View Post
Wow- that sounds like a pretty yucky experience. Our insurance doesn't have out of network benefits, so we're going to have a petition for an exception if we decide to go with Lonnie and Co. We're going on an informational tour or whatever you call it- a meet and greet- next Tuesday. I'm also going to talk to Judith Hagan about a home birth and with Dr. Parchment about a hospital birth. I guess I ought to check out the Avalon situation a little more thoroughly, although I have heard they are not particularly pro-natural birth, they suggest breaking your water and push pitocin on you and are essentially just like nurses.

This was not at all my experience with Avalon. The younger Joann was there for my birth and she was extremely patient and unobtrusive. It was a VBAC attempt so I was on wireless monitoring, and she basically just sat back and kept an eye on the monitor and let me do my thing. After about six hours with no progress, we began discussing other options. I think my case was a little different, of course, because not only was I a VBAC (no pitocin) -- my baby was wrapped up in his cord (something we knew going in, thanks to a late ultrasound). They were all encouraging me to keep trying for a natural birth, though, even knowing the cord issue.

When it came down to having another c-section, Joann sat with me through the whole surgery and then my recovery as well, so my husband could stay with my son and I wouldn't be left alone.

I believe water birth is a possibility at Morristown (where Avalon delivers). I was in the tub room, it is *gorgeous*, but I never got the chance to use it -- we were too afraid it'd slow things down even further.

Like other posters, I felt that Lonnie was not a great fit for me. I switched from her care to Avalon at 22 weeks. With the VBAC and all, I needed a strong cheerleader and someone who'd answer my questions and keep me focused. At the time, Lonnie was changing her hospital affiliation and her office space and she was super-focused on that -- she spent a lot of time schmoozing the folks in the waiting area to get them to write letters on her behalf, I'd wait for 30 minutes in the room with the gown on listening to her outside talking, but my appointments were about 3 minutes long. Luckily I had a very healthy pregnancy, and didn't require any special attention!
sophiaflute's Avatar sophiaflute 02:22 AM 05-14-2009
I interviewed Lonnie at a "meet and greet" but found her to be a little rough around the edges. I ended up planning a homebirth. I live very close to Palisades so that was to be my emergency transfer hospital. In the end my dd was occiput posterior and not budging, so we transferred but because it wasn't an emergency we went to my midwife's backup, Holy Name in Teaneck. It was there that I met Risa Lynn Klein. She turned the baby and also worked some magic and within a few hours I was pushing out my little girl. Yes, we did pit and all that, but it was mostly natural, and I am so glad I started as a homebirth. We all felt like if I went to Palisades I could have been sectioned. I hear that Risa does water birth at Holy Name so you might want to check her out. She also works with Dr. Garber who backs up a lot of homebirth midwives. I also interviewed the Hackettstown Midwives and loved them, but they were too far to travel in the end. Would you consider them? I was told that they are the only hospital that will allow an actual water birth in NJ. Good luck. My advice having just had a birth; research your provider, and then just trust that little voice inside of you. Go with your intuition. Best of luck.
brenda-sw's Avatar brenda-sw 10:38 PM 05-15-2009
I have experience w/ both practices. I had my first child (8/2006) w/ Childbirth Center when they were still in Englewood (delivered at Pasc. Valley). I had Donna for most of my labor...but Lonnie ended up delivering me or I should say assisting Dr. Garber bec. I wound up w/ C/S. I labored for about 12 hrs w/ Donna and she was/is AWESOME-GREAT-WONDERFUL, warm, loving, caring....wish I could have used her again for #2. Lonnie is not very warm and fuzzy...ALWAYS waited a LONG time for all my visits.

For baby number 2 (12/08) I went w/ Avalon...for a couple reasons, firstly Childbirth Cnts only taking out of network benefits, not to sure about Palisades General and getting there from my house, did not feel like waiting for 2+ hrs for all my appts (especially since I would have a two year old w/ me) and never bonded w/ Lonnie (like I DID w/ Donna)..

Avalon was/is AWESOME. I loved all the midwives. They were so supportive of VBAC. They let me go two weeks late and willing to even give me a couple more days if there dr. agreed (and he did). I did wind up w/ another C/S but this was after they let me wait the two weeks and even go into labor on my own but never progressed...I had Joanne (younger one) as my midwife the day of delivery. She was GREAT! I loved the practice and will continue to use them for well care even though they are 30 min from home. Never waitied more than 10 min for an appt...always spent alot of time w/ me...spent ton of time on phone w/ me over Thanksgiving weekend when I got really sick and was 'waiting for baby to come!

hope this helps,
MiamiMami's Avatar MiamiMami 09:04 PM 05-29-2009
Oh this thread just made me so sad! I have a friend in NJ who is pregnant with her 2nd and not totally happy with her current OB. I encouraged her to look into Lonnie Morris as I had previously read good things about her.

Can anyone recommend any other options that I can point her to? She lives in Ridgefield Park and doesn't want to travel too far.

peapodmama's Avatar peapodmama 07:06 PM 06-15-2009
Is there anyone out there that can say they've used "avalon midwives" and have had a successful VBAC? Would love to hear from you. I am going to meet with them next week.
cushy's Avatar cushy 10:55 PM 06-15-2009
I also delivered with Lonnie's practice at Pascack Valley. A different midwife, who is no longer with the practice, delivered DS1. I had a similar experience, that Lonnie wasn't overly friendly, but I went to 2 different ob practices and am currently on my 3rd pregnancy, and I feel like all of them expect you to know exactly what your doing, regarding the pregnancy. None of them seem forthcoming with advice or answers. I did think the care with Lonnie's practice was fine. She knew when to put me under the care of a doctor, when it seemed I had preeclampsia, but then the midwives still saw me until the end. I was very glad to have delivered the way I did, because I had a lot of support during labor to not have an epidural, I was able to move around, but then I ended up with a 4th degreeh tear (which only a dr. can repair) and my son went to the nicu for a few days (after which she told me her son was the first delivered at her center to go by ambulance to the nicu for the same reason- I guess she does like to tell stories about herself). In retrospect I sort of think maybe her flippancy is intended to keep you calm by making nothing seem like a big deal. For example, towards the end of my pregnancy the ultrasound indicated I was having a 10 lb baby. At the office she felt it and said she thought 9 lbs and I would be fine. The way she said it though almost seemed like a blow off, but I'm really convinced she knew it was big but wanted to give me confidence to deliver vaginally. I did have a 10 lb 5 oz baby.

My sister used to work for the American College of Nurse Midwives and she told me that Lonnie is considered the absolute top in her field. I think it's pretty much acknowledged that she doesn't have great bedside manners, but as a practitioner she is excellent.

I also really liked Donna- she seemed to be the only one to really take the time to talk during appoinments.
enchantingrace's Avatar enchantingrace 02:00 PM 06-12-2012

didn't realize this thread is from 2009. whoops!