Monday, 31 October 2011

Birth of Chloee Rebecca Mays

My original due date was August 10th, but based on two ultrasounds and my belly continuously measuring a week ahead we thought it would be closer to August 3rd. Even beyond that, nobody thought we would even make it to August! At the beginning of July, I was already 3 cm dilated. But July passed and no baby. No big deal. I started maternity leave August 1st in anticipation of having Chloee that week. August 3rd came and went, no baby. No big deal. August 10th came, no baby. If I went another week, Amber told me I would need another ultrasound to make sure everything was okay. August 17th came, no baby and the ultrasound showed her to be strong and healthy. By this time everyone that was due after me by a few weeks had their babies (including Amber!)!! My nerves were starting to get to me but we were positive she’d come that weekend and nothing. Officially 2 weeks late and this little girl was not budging! So I asked Amber if we could meet on the morning of August 22nd. She broke all my remaining fibers, pulled my cervix forward and put some supplements on my cervix to try and loosen it up. She also put me on a blue and black cohosh cocktail to try to start contractions. I had to take it every 30 mins. At noon she said I was 4 cm and to call if anything started.

From there, my mom, grandmother and best friend went to eat. I had small contractions that I chalked up to the exam (this happened the last time Amber checked me too), so I didn’t get excited. From there we went shopping. Around 3 pm, my contractions were patterned and coming about every 7-8 mins. I didn’t tell anybody because I wanted to do this on my own and I knew the moment I said, “This is it!”, they would freak and smother me. We drove the bumpy back roads home and my mom even stopped because she saw a hurt bird on the side of the road. We got home at 5 pm and my mom and grandmother went home. We had already planned for Mattie to stay with her Little Paw for the night. I knew if she was with me during this she would be scared for me and I didn’t want her to go through that. Jon got home at 5:30. I got a shower to help relax. At 6 o’clock, my contractions were 3-5 mins. apart. I sent a text to Amber to let her know so she would be ready. I told Jon to call his mom, my mom and my grandmother to tell them to come back. Around 7 o’clock, we decided it was time to go to the birth center. I called Amber, no answer. So I waited for a call back. I called Meridian (“the apprentice”), no answer. Meridian called me back about 10 mins. later. She hadn’t been able to reach Amber either but that she was on the way to the center but I needed to give her a 15 min head start. We reached the center at 8:15 and when Amber checked me, I was 6 cm!

Amber told me to walk around or use the birthing ball, but to try and let gravity do its job. I walked around for a little bit, tried the ball but didn’t care for it too much. I asked Amber if I could get in the water and she said just the shower because the tub would slow things down. So I got in the shower and it was so relaxing. I must have been in there for 15-20 mins. and then the contractions changed and I told Jon I had to get out. I remember everyone talking about old TV shows and I answered one of their questions and we went back to the bed (Amber later told me that she heard me and thought that I still had a ways to go). I tried to rest while my mom played with my hair but that only lasted two contractions and I had to stand up again and Jon and I began to “dance” through the contractions. Up until this point, I was very proud of myself for being quiet during contractions (my mom later told me how amazed she was by this.), but with the intensity level of these contractions, I started moaning and wondering if I was going to be able to do this. My mom told me to remember to breathe and I told her to shut up (sorry Mom). She went and asked Meridian and Amber what she should say to help and Meridian came in to help me through the contractions. I asked if I could get in the tub now and she said get through this contraction and we will get you in the tub. Got through the contraction, took one step towards the bathroom and whoosh! My water broke!

I remember saying “my water broke” and Meridian called for Amber. I said “she’s coming” and Meridian felt for her and sure enough there was her head. Amber came in the room and Meridian told her that I was ready. Amber said to put me on the bed and Meridian told her we can’t because the head is too far down. So I was told not to push and Amber hurried to lay towels and pads down around mine and Jon’s feet, the whole time Meridian is holding Chloee’s head! Meridian said push and out came her head. Amber told us to reach down and feel her head, then another slow strong push and there was her shoulders and out came her body!! Meridian handed her to me and eased me down to the bed. Chloee looked at me with these huge beautiful eyes and it was love at first sight! Chloee Rebecca Mays was born at 9:55 pm. It all happened so fast that Jon’s mom, my grandmother and best friend missed her being born and they were just in the other room!

Amber and Meridian helped me into the tub to clean us off. After we got cleaned up and back on the bed, Amber and Meridian checked on Chloee’s measurements. Nobody could get over how big she was. Amber was afraid she wouldn’t fit in the scale sling. Meridian picked her up and struggling to hold her up, asked for guesses on her weight. 9 lb 12 oz! And she was 21 inches long! And her head was 13 ½ inches around! (I honestly believe that standing up while pushing made delivering her nearly painless to do so.) After all this, Meridian had to put a diaper on her. But she didn’t get it on in time and Meridian got to change Chloee’s first diaper too!

I began to nurse Chloee and everyone took turns coming in to see her. Amber and Meridian cleaned up the mess that was left and soon told me they were ready to leave. We said our goodbyes and continued to enjoy this little bundle of joy. I knew I didn’t want to stay long and was in a hurry to get home to my own bed and comfort zone. We were home by 2 the next morning and all got a great night’s sleep!!

The whole experience was mind blowing and amazing. It tested my sanity, confirmed my beliefs and in the end strengthened my soul. I gained the friendship of two amazing women!!
And my bond with Jon and Chloee is so strong because I can look back to that night and can say, “We did that!!”

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Annabel Grace

The Birth of Annabel Grace
Monday, May 23, 2011 was a day like any other. Until, I started feeling cramps. I was five days past my due date. Could these be contractions? I wasn't sure. And everyone had told me, "Oh, you'll know when it's a contraction!" [Warning TMI]: other than the cramps, I had practically been pooping my intestines out all day. I think my body was clearing out to get ready for pushing! I went to spin class in the morning. People were nervous my water would break on the bike and I’d go into labor during class! Dad came over and helped with some things around the house—including setting up the co-sleeper (which turned out to be perfect timing!). But as the day went on, the cramps became more intense and more regular. It got to the point I was afraid to leave the house for fear of going into labor while I was out. I didn't call Mark about the cramps. I knew it wasn't “go” time and I didn't want to distract him from work. So instead, I called my midwife, Amber, to tell her what I was feeling. I knew deep down, Baby Austin was coming soon! She said it sounded like I was in early labor, but not to worry. She instructed me to continue on with my day and normal activities. So I followed "doctor's" orders and went to HEB to get some grocery shopping done. At the store, I had to pause in my tracks a few times because the pain took me by surprise. On one aisle, a man tried to ask me about where to find Spam. Spam, really? I’m in labor and you’re asking me about Spam, of all things?! I tried to tell him I didn't know as politely as I could. The lady who always pushes the "Meal Deals" stopped me to ask how far along I was. "Actually, I’m five days overdue and I think I’m in early labor!"

Mark got home in the evening and I told him about my day. "You’d better pack your bag!” I said. I showered and shaved in preparation of what was ahead. I made some mango protein smoothies, which I would later be so grateful I’d done for energy. After dinner, we sat down in the living room to watch the premiere of The Bachelorette (shameful, I know). Mark was on the couch; I was sitting on my birthing ball. By this time, we started timing the contractions because the cramps were coming every fifteen minutes or so. During the contractions (yes, by this point, I realized they were definitely contractions!) I had to stop everything and just breathe, bending over to hold onto the coffee table. Mark would knew the contraction was over when I finally was able to speak. We still didn't call anybody to tell them I was in early labor because Amber had told me these symptoms could go on for days. I didn't want to alarm anyone or get them calling for updates constantly. Mark and I retired to bed around 10pm. I tried to sleep between contractions, but when they came on, I was darting out of bed to sit on the toilet (this position just instinctively felt more comfortable) or I’d motion for Mark to massage my lower back. We went on like that until about 2am when I just couldn't take it any longer. I was not getting any relief during the contractions. I couldn't doze off anymore. And I was starting to get a little anxious about the drive to the New Braunfels Family Birth Center. Mark called Amber and told her how I was feeling. By this time, I was moaning in the background. She said it sounded like it was time for us to head to the birth center. I tried to pull on a sundress, but it wouldn't fit over my belly. I thought, Forget about it! And put back on my nightgown. Who cares what I’m wearing anyway? It’s two in the morning and I’m in labor! I put on my flip flops and we were out the door.

We arrived at the birth center about 3am. Amber and Meridian (her apprentice) were waiting for us. They had candles lit and soft spa-like music playing in the background. The atmosphere was so relaxing! I got on the bed and Amber checked me...four centimeters. Not bad! She said it was definitely a good time for us to come. Amber instructed me to walk around or sit on the birthing ball if I felt up to it. Yes, anything to keep this birth moving forward! Mark lay in the bed while I labored on the ball. Once again, when a contraction came on, I was calling for him to hurry and start massaging my lower back. After an hour or so, Mark told me, "Babe, I’m so tired. I’m not sure I’m gonna make it. I really need to try to get a little sleep." I though to myself, Tired, huh? Really? Sleep, yes, you do that. I’ll continue to labor here for the both of us. But I didn't really mind. Meridian was by my side acting as my doula, helping me through the pain. I can still remember her sweet little soft hands. She knew just what to do so I didn't really mind Mark resting. I more just found it humorous that he needed rest for the weary! Amber and Meridian were like little floating angels the entire night. They were fairly hands off at first, allowing Mark and I to experience labor together. But they were with me the moment I needed them.

I continued laboring on the ball until around 7am. During that time, I was so thirsty. Meridian kept feeding me ice. I tried to drink water and Gatorade. I even felt a little hungry and tried to eat an orange. But I ended up throwing it all up. I actually threw up several times. So many I stopped counting. I had read many birth stories in Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth that throwing up was common during transition. Vomiting actually seemed to help. Each time I vomited, my stomach would contract and feel like I was pushing Baby Girl down further. The coolest thing during labor was each time Meridian would check the heartbeat; she moved the sensor lower and lower. When I first arrived, she was listening to her heart near my belly button. Several hours later, she was down by my pelvic bone. Such a visual reminder; this baby was moving on down the birth canal!

Mark was so into the entire experience. He kept asking Amber what was going on each step of the way…even during my contractions. I got to the point where when he’d ask a question during a contraction, I’d just shake my head from side to side and wave my hands…obviously indicating for him to stop talking. He didn’t seem to get it, but Amber did. She told him I needed everyone to be quiet during the contraction. He was like, oh okay.

Around 7am Mark called my mom and asked her to come over. I wanted to be sure she'd be present for the birth. We texted friends and family and asked them to be praying. None of them had any idea I’d gone into labor. One friend actually wrote back saying she had woken up at 3am and felt lead to pray for me. Crazy because that was the exact time we arrived at the birth center. God is so gracious to let us get a glimpse of His work behind the scenes!

I definitely wanted my Mama by the time she got to the birth center. Amber had just decided to let me get into the bathtub around 8am when I was a little further along. The water felt so good. Such a relief and very relaxing. I continued to labor in the water. I’d lie back in the water between contractions, but during contractions, I’d pull myself up. I was so exhausted by this point; I would doze off between contractions. My head would bob like a bobble head as I drifted off to sleep. I was still enjoying the spa music, but there was one song that would repeat occasionally that I did not like. I would ask Amber to skip that song each time. For some reason the beat really irritated me! A little later, I noticed Amber and Meridian weren't in their street clothes anymore. They had changed into scrubs, ready to get down to business!

Mark got to asking questions again. I think it was hard for him because he wanted to understand what I was feeling and why. At one point, he started to ask a question right as I felt another contraction coming on. I sharply shouted, “DON’T TALK!!!” He quickly got the not-so-subtle direction. After the contraction passed, I sweetly said, “Babe, I’m sorry for yelling. I just really need everyone to focus during the contraction.” My mom was impressed that I apologized in the moment…so was I!

After a while in the tub, Amber asked me if I felt the urge to push, but I wasn't sure what I was feeling. She said to try to push a little on the next contraction just to see how it felt. If it hurt too badly, stop. If not, keep pressing on. It took me a couple tries before I got the hang of pushing. Previously during contractions, I’d moan out load. It’s a natural response and my sister had told me that the reverberations of your voice travel through your body and help move the labor along. Also, I’d read that keeping my mouth open wide with an "ah" sound is a key to the Sphincter Law (if you don't know what it is, look it up). But when it came time to push, Amber told me to stop making loud noises. Expressing the pain out of my mouth was actually taking the power out of my pushing. I was able to put more oomph in my push if I directed everything south instead. Boy was she right! I started feeling like I was getting somewhere...and yet nowhere at the same time. Pushing is very frustrating. I couldn't feel any progress. Each push felt the same as the last.

I had lost all concept of time. Except it was now light outside. I knew the morning was passing me by. I felt like I wasn't progressing. I asked Amber, "Am I really having this baby here in this bathtub today?" I was feeling like I wasn't getting anywhere and might need to be transported and take some drugs to get things moving. She assured me with a knowing look and said, "Yes, you are having this baby." That was all I needed. Okay, let's do this! Throughout my labor, Amber was so amazed by my baby girl's strong heart. She kept a great heartbeat throughout labor and never dropped a beat! I guess she got my endurance!

I did not labor alone. Mark was up at my head holding my arms. Mom was by my side. Meridian was at the other side. And Amber was at the end of the tub. I could not have done it without them. In order to push, I instinctively flopped my legs of each side of the tub. I held onto Mark's arms over my head. Each contraction, I basically did a giant crunch. Thank goodness for all those days I the gym. I was finally cashing in the work. And boy did it pay off!

I’ve heard it before, but now know for myself: giving birth has a lot of similarities to running a marathon. You have to go the distance. And although you can try your best to prepare, you won't really know what it's like until you experience it yourself. You have to be rested, hydrated, and well fed to have the strength to endure. Unfortunately, unlike with a marathon, you have no idea when the gun is going to go off! The infamous "wall" in a marathon showed up during birth except this time it was a "ring of fire." Just like the wall (around mile 19 for me), I knew it would be waiting for me. I’d read all about it and was expecting it. Once I first encountered the wall, I thought, I can't do this! But I knew I had to. I had no choice. This baby had to come out. I’d been preparing for nine months for this moment. And I couldn’t turn around. The ring of fire was not going anywhere. I had to face it. And if I didn’t jump through it, I’d just keep beating myself up against the wall. And that hurt! I didn't want to feel the pain anymore. So at some point, I just determined myself to blaze through it. I couldn't stop or else I knew I wouldn't start again. Both the marathon and birth are total mind over body experiences. And both have sweet victory at the end.

Amber told me she could see the baby's dark hair. She had me reach down and feel the baby crowning. She said I’d never feel anything like this again. At this point, the baby's skull was collapsed (praise the Lord!) so it could fit through the birth canal. The skin on the head was all scrunched up and fuzzy. I thought I might be giving birth to a Shar-pei puppy! Feeling her head was so encouraging to know how close I was. And with the final push I determined it would be my last. Oh my goodness...there was her head. The most bizarre thing to look down and see a head between my legs! The hard part was over. I barely remember pushing her body out. And then Amber said, "Get your baby, Sally." On May 24 at 11:08am, I reach down and lifted her to my chest and said, “Well, that wasn't so bad!"

I will never adequately describe my feelings. Most women talk about this instant love greater than they ever knew possible. I can't say I felt the same way until later. Right then, I just couldn't believe this little person came out of my body. Who are you? We’ve only just met and yet we've been together for so long. You belong to me. You are mine. You’re coming home with me. I’m responsible for you. She needed me and more than the way I’d been passively parenting the last nine months. I was her mother. Mark was crying (even if he won't admit it). Baby Girl heard his voice and looked up right at him and grabbed his finger as he extended it to her. I guess she recognized his voice from all the months of talking to my belly!

I was surprised how little I hurt after all my body had just been through. I guess it was the endorphins because the pain did kick in later. I just continued to lay in the tub while Meridian changed the water and added some healing herbs. I held my baby and we just stared at each other. I could not believe how alert and calm she was. Everyone else was bustling around. Mark was texting photos. Mom was talking to my dad, my sister, and my niece. Amber and Meridian were scurrying around taking care of things. I was just sitting in amazement. She latched onto my breast right away without any trouble. And I gave her first bath. Amber showed me what to do to try to get some of the sticky white vernix off her body. Once I got cleaned up and got in bed, I realized I was starving! I asked Amber when I could eat something. The first thing I had was a banana (of course!). Baby Girl weighed in at 7.6 ounces and measured 19 inches long. A surprisingly smaller baby than I’d expected since Mark and I were so big. But no complaints here!

After tying up all the loose ends (literally...I got two stitches!). My family said their goodbyes. Amber had Jason's Deli delivered. It was the best sandwich of my life. When Amber told me they were ready to leave the birth center, she asked me if I had any questions. Questions? You’re leaving already? Alone with our baby? First time parents. We have no idea what we're doing. Uh, no. I wouldn't know where to begin. So I just thanked her and said, “Bye!” Mark and I just stared in amazement at the sweet baby between us on the bed. We were so tired, we slept a couple hours. Mark’s mom came to see Baby Girl right before we left. On our way home, we stopped by Mark's parents' house so his dad could meet our little one. We also stopped by his brother's house so his family could meet our new addition! Everyone was so amazed I was up and around. I said, "I gave birth, I’m not incapacitated!" Of course, I do think I was still running on endorphins because the pain and tiredness set in later. But it was all worth it. I can't imagine giving birth any other way. I’m so thankful God gifted me with such a wonderful birth experience!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Birth of Maeve

The Birth of Maeve

The truth is it all happened so fast. Not really the birth, but just the whole week, the whole month, the whole pregnancy. If you know me well, then you would agree that I am not a procrastinator. I like my boxes checked off because I like to relax when all is complete. I kept putting off the baby stuff though. Not quite sure as to why. I guess I just wasn’t really worried about it. I know at this point that you really don’t need much of anything to have a baby and regardless of my frivolous preparations a baby will come when the time is right. I did very little to get ready. Brandon kept asking me to run through the details, but I thought we had more time.

I was still very happy being pregnant. On the last day I took time to store in my mind her kicks and rolls. I still love that feeling. It really never gets old. Sometimes she would surprise me with her strength and the ability to feel her little foot always made me smile. She would be in my arms soon, but I wanted to remember and cherish every part of our relationship. On Friday night I woke up with irregular contractions and bloody show. I could not believe it. The baby shower...the big, beautiful, perfect baby shower was Saturday. There was no way I could have her so soon. I was certain she would wait out the month. The contractions died off and the shower went on as planned. It was incredible. The atmosphere, the food, the music, the people, the cake, everything was perfect.

I went home that night and slept without interruption. Sunday went on and then that night the contractions started up again. This time same as before. I went about my normal routine on Monday and tried to just ignore this weird warning. I had never had a long labor before, never recall losing a textbook mucus plug, and never had a baby this early. I didn’t feel stressed or over worked. I was rested and my mind was at peace. I went about my business and decided I would just keep on, besides, at this rate I could be contracting irregularly for the next several weeks and I could easily accept that and just get used to it. What other choice did I have? And seriously, at this point in life I have learned to appreciate every single moment, so I could not complain. She was moving and I could feel her close to me and I could talk to her and love her. I was still at peace.

I kept thinking at some point, maybe as I got closer, I would start to worry, start to get scared, start to try and control. It didn’t happen. I think that’s the way the whole pregnancy went. I always felt so comfortable, so secure with the whole process. So at ease with the outcome, no matter what it was. There were moments when I thought about my death. I remember twice thinking that this peace was almost unnerving. Would I be okay? I didn’t want my children to have grow up without a mother and I didn’t want to be careless with my life. There was still nothing I could do about it and I knew ultimately God was in control of my life.

One thing I got to experience and learn about was dealing with others’ and their fears. I got to see firsthand what it must be like for first time moms dealing with skeptics. I announced to anyone who asked that I would be delivering this baby without a midwife present. My husband would be there to help me. I had always wanted an unassisted birth, but my trust was underdeveloped. I started planning, or not planning, for a birth that just happened. I knew that babies would come without help from anyone. The problem was that even midwives, and those who claim to trust full heartedly the process of birth can be funny about letting the mother experience true empowerment on their own. During my moments of introspection I found my fears. Most of them were based on my own body failures. I had always needed help with a stubborn anterior lip before. I was told that my baby may never come if it wasn’t moved out of the way. I was now wondering if this was true. My friend spoke about bleeding and death and the quickness of complications. People seemed afraid for me, were praying for me, were trying to get me to allow someone else in should something go wrong with my body, my baby, or my birth...just in case. The thing was, I didn’t have these fears. I didn’t have any fear at all. I knew that no matter what happened, good or bad, I would have God there with me and I had complete peace in this.

I do appreciate the fact that my close friends and family shared in my confidence. I may have expected my husband or my mother or my grandmother to question my plans, but they seemed just fine with it. Brandon said he had no fear at all about the process and fully trusted in God’s plan too. That was nice to know.

I started a hypnobirthing class in my first trimester. I do believe this helped me get through my thoughts during the pregnancy. It gave me confidence and a place to go when I needed to truly relax and accept the wisdom and the love that surrounds me. I found it a bit difficult to get into that place during birth, but the help it provided me during the pregnancy was well worth it.

Monday night (August 15th) we started a movie for the kids and I decided to just get some rest. They were all piled in the room watching The Perfect Game. Just like that, my water broke and at that point I thought I might be able to say for sure that I was in labor. It was around 9:15. I could now call my friends and family and I could know that at some point in the near future I would give birth. Over the next couple of hours my mom, my cousin, my sister-in-law, my apprentice, and my photographer arrived. Things were going, but slowly.

The contractions always seemed spaced out. I got into the tub as the intensity built expecting relief. The tub seemed to bring them on stronger and my ability to laugh and joke slowly faded away. I was in that place again. I recognized it instantly and the pressure I was expecting was now with me. Occasionally they would get close together, but then they would space out again. I’m not sure how far apart they were, but I would guess they seldom got closer than 5 minutes. My thoughts were so clear, my mind stayed so present. I may not have been in the room, so to speak, but I was in the birth completely.

By midnight I was about 6 cm. Her head was still pretty high and it seemed like we still had a ways to go. The contractions were getting stronger and were really starting to hurt now. I was starting to dislike labor and then I felt inside and found a centimeter anterior lip in front of her head. It was sore and pushing on it hurt. I was so disappointed to find myself in this place once again. I pleaded with my baby and my body to get over this and allow descent. I tried pushing her down and it worked. Her head moved every time I pushed. It seemed like she could bypass the cervix. My cervix hurt. I didn’t even want to think about trying to push it back. I realized the pressure was that cervix stretching open. I had thoughts about uterine prolapse if she couldn’t get through. I questioned whether or not I should tell Brandon that I was done, that I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew good and well that I could, I really just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to keep going on like this. I felt like a child at that point, ready to give up when I knew my body was doing this and it really didn’t matter how I felt about it. I pushed again and it eased the peak.

She was about to be born. I knew that for sure. I wanted Brandon to hold me up, support my perineum. She seemed to be barreling down and it is was overwhelming. I could feel her move down and it seemed to be happening so quickly. I wasn’t ready to feel her head come out. I needed more time to adjust to this new feeling, but of course, that mattered little. Within the next few minutes her head was out. I don’t remember the burn or the stretch. It was fast this time and that part was bearable. She had a loose nuchal cord. I tried to give it room. I couldn’t reach to pull it all the way over and by the time Brandon had it moving her body was delivering. I begged him to pull her the rest of the way out. Her body seemed to be just sitting there and it hurt. He did and I unlooped the cord once she was out. It was over and there she was. It was now 1:15 on the morning of August 16th, 2011. We did it! Just the 3 of us! I was so relieved and so empowered and so happy.

The first time I saw her I was a bit surprised. She had a head full of hair and was covered in vernix. It is a bit weird seeing your baby for the first time. I felt like I knew her so well and yet had no idea what she looked like. By the looks of her she was not quite 38 weeks, but she was healthy and strong. She never cried. She was peaceful and alert. Nursing went well right off. We all climbed into bed and looked her over. My mom charted measurements and notes as I performed her exam. Brandon weighed her and we all just cherished the slow, easiness of the process. She weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

It seems so silly now, this is my 5th baby. I don’t know how I ever managed to forget the magnitude of a mother’s love. I am so enthralled in this baby, in her smell, in her breathing, in her noises, in her eyes. Everything about her is so perfect and so sweet. It is in moments like these that you realize God’s love for us. To know what he has given us, these moments of love, they’re so unmatched, so unbelievable, so strong, so encompassing, so fulfilling, so real.

The birth was more than I had hoped for. I was never afraid. I was present mentally and was able to learn through the experience more about contractions and pain in labor. I was able to feel her head descend through my body and feel the sensation of working with my partner to free her completely. I was able to experience birth on my terms. I was never pressured, no one ever needed to suggest anything, I was able to think through my own thoughts without anyone filling my head. It was my birth and it was perfect.

Birth Story Written by Amber Henry Riedel in August 2011
Baby Info:
Maeve Marie Henry Riedel
6 pounds, 11 ounces
Born on August 16th, 2011 at 1:15 am

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

New Homebirth Website

Hey Girls!!

I put up the start to the new homebirth website. The birth center site is still the same, but I wanted to differentiate between the 2, it goes.

Check it out! Feedback desired!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Another Perspective

Empowered: Unassisted Childbirth

A Line in the Sand: Thoughts on Unassisted Birth

I have heard that a midwife's stance on "unassisted birth" can tell you a lot about her beliefs about the birth process and how she practices. I tend to agree with this. In a neonatal resuscitation class, Karen Strange remarked, “Birth was set up to work in case nobody was there.” That comment was very significant to me at that time. I was at the very beginning of my journey to becoming a midwife and those words resonated well with me. I have quoted her a lot since then, but attending an Ancient Art Midwifery Skills Lab changed things even more for me. Kristi Zittle described the kind of midwife she was when she was a practicing, and those who know her know that Kristi would not do ANYTHING unless the mother specifically asked her to do it. She didn't check heart tones routinely (and certainly not with a Doppler), she didn't check dilation, she didn't check for nuchal cord. In fact, she has a strong belief that absolutely NO ONE except the father or mother should touch the baby’s head during labor and birth. I loved all of the new information I received during this skills lab and I loved how much more I trusted birth because of it. When I came home from the lab, I sat down with my stack of books on my night stand. Unassisted Childbirth by Laura Shanley stood out in the pile. What I began reading was a perfect continuation of the education I had just received. It is an insightful and spiritual book that can be life-changing. When I was finished, I wanted so much to join the ranks of women who have birthed alone. I sat down to write this position paper, starting with Karen’s quote, and then I realized that I can’t completely agree with the statement anymore as it was stated in the class (although I realize she may have meant it differently). I would restate it as this: “Birth was designed to work whether or not anyone else was there.”

The words “just in case” are a problem in the care of women during childbirth. Very little data we have at this point in history is based on completely natural childbirth. We simply don’t know how all of the actions of an attendant during labor and birth affect the process. I have enjoyed working with 5 different midwives during my midwifery journey. Most of them fundamentally "trust birth", but I have witnessed most do a lot of things “just in case”. I see massages of the perineum with olive oil just-in-case the mom’s tissue isn’t flexible enough. I have seen babies suctioned with a bulb syringe immediately after birth just-in-case they need help with those first breaths. I've seen hats put on babies immediately after birth just-in-case their mother’s body and a blanket don’t keep them warm enough.

To be critical of any of this elicits the response, “Well, this is so much less medical and invasive than what it would be like in the hospital.” I know it must appear that I am just being picky. These procedures ARE so much more gentle for mom and baby compared to the hospital alternative. But there is another alternative for which we have very little data: unassisted or unattended childbirth. And these “just in case” procedures are so much more invasive than that alternative.

These two terms can mean two different things depending on who you talk to. To some, unassisted childbirth means that mom gives birth completely alone. To others, unassisted childbirth means that dad is the only other person present at the birth and together they bring their baby into the world. To others, unassisted childbirth can mean there is a trained attendant at the birth but is only there “just in case”. For most, unassisted birth or unattended birth are interchangeable. The idea of differentiating these terms was introduced to me by Kristi Zittle at an AAMI Midwifery Skills Lab, and it was introduced to her by Pamela Hines-Powell, a midwife in Oregon. When describing the type of midwife she was to women when she was a practicing, it was important to Kristi to acknowledge those mothers who brought their babies into the world with only their body and their hands, but felt more comfortable having someone close by to help if they found a need. She considers these moms to have had "unassisted births". For me, it resonated well with the kind of midwife I hope to be. I have wrestled with the concept of unassisted or unattended childbirth because although I believe it is a wonderful way to bring a baby into the world, I couldn’t figure out where my desire to be a midwife fit into the idea. What I want most for moms is to support their complete control in their birth. I want them to know that they don’t need me. They don’t need to be rescued from this incredible journey. I want them to come away from their births NOT saying “I couldn’t have done it without you”, but rather “I DID IT!” (This idea originally came from Carla Hartley, founder of AAMI)

Therefore, in order to honor those mothers whom I hope to support, I prefer to clarify the two terms in the following way: Unassisted childbirth means mom and dad bring their baby into the world on their own, but there is a trained attendant available to assist them if help is requested or required. Unattended childbirth means there is no trained attendant available at the birth. Mom (and possibly, dad) brings baby into the world completely alone. This clarification meant a lot to me. What it means is that, as a midwife, I can help parents have unassisted births. I can still be a tool in ensuring that the power of birth is in the right hands: the mother’s.

In Unassisted Childbirth, Laura Shanley writes a chapter called “The Case for Autonomous Birth”. Only six pages of her book are dedicated to “proving” or “making a case for” unassisted childbirth. The bulk of Shanley’s book consists of her story, discussions on the dangers of intervention, the influences of beliefs, expectations, dreams, impulses and intuition on birth, and stories of unattended births. In 1994, when this book was originally written, there was limited data, and today, there is little more. I imagine this is primarily because parents who give birth unattended aren’t part of any statistics simply by the nature of the act. The sources Shanley uses to make her case are books such as The Nature of Birth and Breastfeeding by Michel Odent (written in 1992), Husband-Coached Childbirth by Robert Bradley (written in 1965), and Come Gently, Sweet Lucina by Pat Carter (written in 1957). Odent and Bradley compare human birth to the births of other animals and Carter writes about her own experience of unattended births. For all of these authors, the case must be made by simply coming back to how birth was originally intended to work. We were not given blankets, hats, or fur to keep our babies warm. We were given a highly sensitive epidermis that can respond to warmth from another. We weren’t given thermometers, stethoscopes, warm compresses, dopplers, or synthetic oxytocin. And somehow we survived so well, we have the potential of over-populating the planet. An internet search on unassisted childbirth leads me primarily to Shanley’s website titled Born Free! Articles are posted there, but none of them can give statistics on the safety of unattended childbirth. Again, it is the nature of the act. It is one of those things that requires a leap of faith. Extensive articles are abundantly available giving data on the dangers of intervention, and in the end, a mother has to believe that she has been given all of the tools to perform this most natural act. Whether “unassisted” or “unattended”, she holds the power in her own hands.

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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

- History of Midwifery -

By: Meridian Craig, Apprentice Midwife, Family Birth Center

The history of midwifery is a story of service, self-sacrifice, and commitment. The midwife has been an integral part of every culture since the beginning of time. In order to grasp the true breath of historical midwifery, it is necessary to understand midwifery's past, present, and future.

The midwife has been serving her community since the beginning of time. The first documented presence of midwifery occurred in the ancient Jewish society where she was known as the “wise woman”. Biblically, the midwife appeared in Genesis 35:17 and Exodus 1:20 where she is depicted as a woman of courage, morality, and faith. However midwifery has not always had a glowing reputation. From the 1300s to the 1600s, the Roman Catholic Church purged the western world of midwives with the Inquisition, stating, “no one does more harm to the Catholic Church than do midwives.” Over nine million “witches” were murdered during this time, of whom 85% were midwives or other women healers. However, despite this massacre of midwives with the Inquisition, midwifery continued to survive and was introduced to the United States with colonial America. Sadly, the persecution against midwives was reignited in the 1900s when doctors began to see midwives as competitors in their medical turf. In the early 1900s midwives delivered half of all births, but by 1935 they were only attending 12.5% of all US births. These statistics launched a battle for the survival of midwifery, which birthed many of the modern day organizations that have fought to establish midwives legally and professionally in the United States.

Modern day midwives owe their careers to their ancestors who fought to establish the organizations that train and license them today. In 1982, the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) was established to create a safe environment for midwives to connect and find support. MANA also was the launching board for the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM), which was charged with administering a national exam to all midwives desiring to practice legally. Other organizations that proved pivotal were the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC), which was recognized by the US Department of Education and now provides accreditation to the institutions training midwives to practice in the United States. Numerous education options have developed from these key organizations, which primarily encourage midwives to find training through apprenticeships with other experienced midwives. The United States now boasts independent practicing midwives in every state, regardless of licensing and legal requirements. Considering the number of legitimate educational routes for training in the United States today, there is a very promising future for every aspiring midwife who desires to make a difference in her community.

Midwifery has been an important part of every community since the beginning of time. The difficult past of midwifery provided lessons on which to build a strong future. The hard work of women around the world who fought to bring about legitimate ways for midwives to license and train has proved pivotal in passing on the baton of excellence to future generations of midwives. The future of midwifery is broad and exciting, thus mothers and babies everywhere can find assurance in excellent care and safe, gentle deliveries. The legacy of midwifery is that of tenacity, bravery, love, and creativity to never give up, even when faced with incredible odds. Every achievement midwives will make in the further will be to further establish a loving, caring, safe, and gentle environment for those wishing to give birth out of hospital settings.

The self-sacrifice, commitment, and love midwives have shown to their clients has changed communities all over the world. midwives work hard everyday to bring life, work with excellence, and promote a high standard of care. Thus, history will continue to be changed because midwifery is a calling, and those that take it up, change lives.
Malleus Maleficarum

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Surprise, Surprise!!

I knew before I got pregnant that I wanted to use a midwife. I used to watch a television show about a birth center in Miami, Florida. After I watched that show I knew how much a mother and baby benefit from using a midwife. After my husband and I found out that we were expecting a baby I called and set up an appointment to meet with Amber and Joanie. Initially my husband and family thought that I was making the wrong decision about using a midwife. They were all convinced that I should use a hospital because most people have there babies in a hospital. I explained to them over and over again all the benefits to myself and the baby. They were still not sold. One family member even suggested touring a hospital as a back up if I couldn’t handle a non medicated delivery. My husband initially told me that he was not in favor of using the birthing center. He did say that I was the one that was going to actually give birth so I could make the decision. After my first visit I borrowed a book that explained why a gentle birth was more beneficial to my self and the baby. I read it and offered it to my husband. He thumbed through the book and did not seem very interested. After my second visit I borrowed the Ina Mae guide to spiritual midwifery. I read the book cover to cover in two days. I found it very interesting and highly informative. I offered this book to my husband. The first night he thumbed through the book like he did the first one. Only this time the birth stories from the father’s perspective caught his eye. The next night he read the book for a few hours. He then wouldn’t let me take the book back until he had read the book from cover to cover twice. After reading this book he was sold 100% on having a gentle birth.

In the late afternoon of my due date much to my surprise I went into labor. Around three in the morning my husband and I made the trip to the birthing center. My husband and I were very excited that our daughter would be born some time soon. When I arrived Joanie checked on the progression of my labor and I was already 5cm dialed. Just four hours later I was ready to push. I highly suggest water birth to all expecting mothers. As soon as I sat down in the birthing tub all of the discomforts of labor went away. I was in heaven sitting in that tub! After thirty minutes of pushing our baby was born. My husband is very proud that he was able to catch our baby. As soon as my husband placed our baby on my chest we were so in awe of her. We commented on how much hair our baby had. I was very happy that I had packed some bows for her hair. Joanie suggested that I take a look at the baby and make sure that all was ok with her. I thought that was a little odd. But I did what she asked. I looked at both of her hands. She had ten perfect fingers. I looked at both of her little feet. She had ten perfect toes. By this time my umbilical cord had stopped pulsing. Joanie told us that she was going to clamp the cord. She then instructed my husband on how to cut the umbilical cord. Joanie asked me again if everything was ok with the baby. I could not figure out what Joanie was hinting at. What did she notice that my husband did not? This time I started to examine my baby a little more thoroughly. I lifted up the towel that the baby was wrapped in. It was a BOY!

My sister in law had the privilege of filming our birth for us. She has two children that she had given birth to in a hospital. She couldn’t get over how calm my labor and delivery was. She kept telling me that she wished that she knew about midwifes when she gave birth. She also apologized to me for second guessing my decision to use a midwife. My mother in law also was in awe of the care that I was provided, and how smooth my labor and delivery went. When my mother in law introduces my son to anyone she tells them about his birth and how amazing it was. She now highly suggests midwifery care to anyone that she knows is pregnant.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

A Perfect Little Brother for Toby

Levi Henry Grimm
Born 5/5/10 at 6:15 a.m.
8lbs 9oz, 22 1/3”

Tuesday, Brandon came home during lunch as he normally does. Right before he headed back to work, I thought I was having a contraction. I had been feeling these randomly on and off for a couple of days, but it usually just ended up being the baby completely stretching out inside of my stomach, appearing hard like a contraction. Brandon had softball that night and asked before he went if I had any more contractions and I said, “yeah, a few.” But I didn’t think much of it. I didn’t time them because every time I had before, I would get excited, and nothing would ever happen. He called me on his way home from the game and I said I was still having them, and he asked, “Shouldn’t you be timing them or something?” I still wasn’t convinced. But when he got home and showered, he started timing them for me. They were five minutes, four minutes, six minutes, three minutes, then every two or three minutes. I still wasn’t sold because they still were scattered. He asked if I could sleep, but I couldn’t. Around midnight I wanted to get in the bathtub to displace some of the discomfort. Brandon asked, “So are you gonna call someone or what?” referring to the midwives. (For those of you who aren’t aware, Toby was born in a birthing center with the help of a midwife, and this baby was born in our very own bathtub at home without any medication or intervention.)

Brandon was super sweet. He sterilized the bath tub and the toilet, and took out the sliding glass doors to make plenty of room for whoever would be assisting me. When I first got in the tub, Brandon grabbed our Supernatural Childbirth book and asked me which prayers and verses I wanted him to go through. We read about labor, delivery, pain and fear. He would say it first and then have me repeat it. This book is amazing at breaking down what the Word has to say about childbirth, starting before conception and through delivery. It is very specific with explanation, scripture reference, and outlines for prayers. I relied on this heavily with both deliveries. Not only to remind me where my faith was when it would get trying, but it also kept me concentrating on something other than what my body was actually going through. Some people use pictures, meditation, or breathing…I use prayer and faith.

I finally decided to call the midwives around 12:30 a.m., more so to put Brandon at ease. He seemed very concerned that I would try to push without them being there. The contractions were bearable, but lasting about 50 seconds every two to three minutes. I didn’t feel like I needed help at that point other than I wanted them to break my water. I know every pregnancy, labor/delivery, and child are different, but I knew with Toby once my water broke, things really began to progress. I didn’t want to have contractions for 17 hours before my water broke, like I had with him. With Toby, the midwife was checking me when she broke it…not sure if that was on purpose or not. She had not asked me in advance, so I’m going to assume it was by accident.

The midwives, Amber & Joani, gathered their things and arrived a little after 2 a.m. They checked on me and said I was about 5 centimeters, but Amber insisted on leaving my water in tact. She gave me several reasons saying it wasn’t always the best choice, it didn’t mean anything would speed up, it may not be the same as it was with Toby, and it’s easier on baby and his head if the water breaks on its own. She kept saying it was bulging and would break on its own. So they went into Toby’s room (he was asleep in our room) and tried to rest some more. They advised me to do the same, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. The contractions were bearable, but not calm enough to sleep through.

Brandon asked if I wanted to get out of the water and try the birthing ball or walking around or sleeping. I tried the ball and it was okay. I tried to lay down, grabbed the snoodle pillow, and had barely gotten comfortable when the thought occurred to me… “Wouldn’t it be funny if my water broke on this pillow?” (I had borrowed it from my sister, who is VERY germ conscious.) He said, “We can buy her another one.” I said, “Uh, this stupid thing is like $80!” He said, “Oh well, she’ll never know.” And maybe a minute after that I heard and felt the *loudest* pop I have ever heard. It was quite uncomfortable. I felt the warm gush everyone talks about. But I was nowhere prepared for that feeling or noise. When the midwife broke my water with Toby it was like someone poking a small hole with a straight pin in water balloon, letting it slowly seep out. This was like someone jumping on an inflated balloon that pops furiously and scares everyone in the room. I said, “Well, I’m not sleeping for sure now.”

Brandon went to get Amber, and she asked if I would still try to sleep, but I said, “What if I really just want to get in the bathtub?” I wasn’t being unpleasant, I just really thought that was the best place for me to be for my comfort. She said I could, but she still retreated back to Toby’s room. I still didn’t need assistance, but I was starting to feel a little aggravated that I had called them too soon, or that they weren’t interested. I know they have done this hundreds of times and know better than I do, but I guess I was being needy.

Brandon put more water in the tub, and we had already blown out the candles and turned off the scent-maker. I can’t remember if we still had music going at that time or not. I had been doing a great job of quietly working through the contractions. Joani had reminded me that the pressure I was feeling on my bottom was partly the baby making his way through the birth canal, but also because I would have to go to the bathroom before he made his way out. *nice*

I lost track of time, and I knew Brandon was exhausted. He sat beside the tub and held my hand the entire time. I could feel his hand go limp as he would fall asleep during contractions. We had been up the entire day before and had never gone to sleep, so I know he was beyond tired. I would also get ready to drift off when another contraction would start. And it was actually better that way because my body was relaxed. I also knew his arm had to be throbbing because part of it was pressed up against the metal track the glass doors to the shower are usually on.

Amber had already been sitting with us for a time, I’m not sure how long. I had my eyes closed for the majority of the time, trying my best to relax and rest. For the last several contractions they would give me a drink. I had been getting the shakes on and off all night, they said from the change in hormones. But I know when the baby started coming I felt myself go to the “dark place” you see all the women in movies go to. But instead of yelling, I would get frustrated when anyone would talk to me. I couldn’t really talk, I would just wave my hand at them really quickly as if to say, “whatever, just leave me alone!” At some point Brandon had turned the music back on without warning, and I thought it was someone’s cell phone, and it really irritated me. When I could get my words together I snapped, “What is that?” Brandon told me, and then I said, “Just turn it off. Could you turn it off? Please, just turn it off.” I could tell even by hearing myself that I was changing tones, but honestly I couldn’t help it! Really!

It wasn’t too long after that, at 6 a.m., that I said I felt like I needed to push. I had been adamant about not tearing, and that was the first question I asked every midwife I interviewed…what measures they were willing to take in order to make sure my backside remained in tact, and without an episiotomy. I was confident with Amber and Joani that they would do whatever it took to keep that promise to me. Joani began to work, and it was worse then I remembered. It was worse than anything I had experienced this delivery to that point. I had my eyes closed through most of the labor and delivery process, and I didn’t know that’s what was happening. Brandon told me what she was doing, and I finally just kept saying, “That hurts. Please stop.” So Amber quietly told Joani, “If it hurts and she doesn’t want it, just stop.” And she did, thankfully. Joani said I didn’t tear at all even though I wasn’t having any help from them. Praise God!

As I began to push, they checked the heart rate, and just like with Toby, it was getting lower. At one point Joani even told me they would be giving me oxygen in between contractions to keep baby’s heart rate up…but we never got that far. I began to push, and Brandon put his arm behind my shoulders to help. They’d have to remind me to tuck my chin, but I remembered to push the right way. I remembered I struggled with pushing Toby out, and I remembered that he too was at risk of lack of oxygen, and I wasn’t going to go through that again. So I pushed like I’ve never pushed before. Several times they even told me to stop so that his head could naturally stretch everything so I wouldn’t tear, but I didn’t care. I told them I couldn’t stop. I would have welcomed the break, but I wanted him out and safe.

Brandon was so encouraging. The ladies would speak softly and gently, but he would tell me what I really needed to hear. He would say, “You’re doing great. He’s coming. Keep doing it. You’re doing it.” They had told me that the baby’s head was almost out, and that just motivated me even more. But toward the end of that, they did say to wait because the cord was draped around his neck, again, just like with Toby. So for that, I did wait. They gave me the go ahead and I pushed the rest of him out. It was amazing. Just as amazing as it was the first time. Joani laid him on my stomach and he was so purple, as most babies are.

I immediately began to thank God out loud. And I could hear the ladies quietly agreeing. Who can experience that and not know for certain that there is a God who loves us? My mind was just flooded with the thoughts of Psalm 139—That God created us and knew us before we were formed…that we are all wonderfully made…that He made us in the secret place and He knows everything about us before we even breathed one breath! Just amazing that God would entrust life to me!

After those moments, I returned to myself. I immediately apologized for how intense the last few minutes were and for me being difficult. They said it was okay and that I was going through the hardest part…it was understandable. (Brandon did admit a couple of days later that I was being quite rude and that I actually scared him at one point.)

Toby had been asleep on the loveseat in our room the entire time! He hadn’t heard a thing! The ladies had asked right before I was about to deliver if I wanted them to wake him up, and I had given them the fierce hand waving! But after I had baby in my arms, Brandon asked, “Can I go get Toby now?” So he went to get him and his tired little face was so precious. He slowly approached the bathtub, and leaned over with this adorable grin. He said, “That’s brother” in a quiet voice. He wanted to hold him and touch him, and we had to explain that he was still attached, and showed him the cord, and he was still a little confused. The midwives wanted me to try to nurse baby, but he wasn’t interested, so they had grabbed an apple juice box from the fridge to get some sugar on baby’s tongue to get him started. Toby saw the box sitting on the edge of the bathtub, and said, “Hey, that’s my juice box.” He was puzzled, but he didn’t have a meltdown. He handled his first big brother sharing experience like a pro!

I leaned over and said to Brandon, “I pushed for what, maybe 30 minutes?” He said, “I think more like an hour.” And Joani chimed in and said, “let’s try 15 minutes.” I had not expected that answer! I had heard so many birth stories of second and subsequent children having been born after a couple of pushes, so when that didn’t happen for me, I thought it was significantly longer. I knew it was less than the two hours and 20 minutes it took me to push Toby out (since I wasn’t pushing very well at all), but I didn’t know it was only 15 minutes because it was intense. I knew it was fast, but at the time, it didn’t seem fast enough.

After Brandon was able to cut the umbilical cord, I asked if I could take a shower. Joani sat just outside and talked to me during the whole thing, no doubt to make sure I was okay. They had really wanted me to sit and use the shower head rather than try to stand up so soon, but they soon realized I was going to do it anyway. I was just fine, and made my way to the bed.

Brandon was true to his word and didn’t call anyone right away. He did ask several times if he could and I finally said, “Fine, but no visitors before 10.” He made the calls and let Toby tell everyone, “Brother is here!” He put them on speaker so I could hear too. At that point, baby hadn’t been weighed, measured or named yet. Thankfully no one could make it before noon, so we had some time to rest. The midwives conducted the newborn tests, and then went to grab some breakfast tacos for us. They had already started the laundry and cleaned up whatever mess of supplies we had made. While they were getting breakfast, Pastor Matt Leighty had called asking if he could stop by to pray with us on his way into the office. Of course we couldn’t refuse that. So he came by. The ladies let themselves in and out quietly while we continued our visit, but called later to check on us. We were able to get some rest before everyone else showed up, which was good considering they didn’t leave until after 10:30 that night! Sheesh.

Compared to my first labor and delivery, this one was 8 hours from start to finish instead of 25. My water broke 2 hours before I delivered rather than 8. I pushed for 15 minutes rather than 2 ½ hours. This time around was shorter and I definitely had better control of myself during the contractions, but the actual delivery was definitely more intense. I’m not sure which is better.

As much as I don’t like being pregnant because that means I’m out of control—gaining weight, getting horrible acne, whatever else, and as hard work as labor is, I wouldn’t have missed it to meet Levi, and to experience one of the greatest bonds I’ll ever have. It always amazes me that no matter what, I’ll always have been Toby and Levi’s first home, their first teacher, their first caregiver…and that we’ll have a special closeness that no one else will ever know.

We knew early on we wanted the middle name to be Henry, after Brandon’s grandfather, since Toby’s middle name is after my grandfather. We would come across some names that we sort of liked, but ended with the same “e” sound and didn’t sound good together. Or we’d find something we liked but didn’t flow with Toby’s name very well. And of course Brandon is king of figuring out what horrid nickname the child will be called if we chose the wrong name…we liked Brody until Brandon thought I was saying “grody” one time. I had been holding onto several names since before Toby was born. Beau, Mason, Preston, Levi…and I had come up with some new ones like Tate, Oliver, Jonah, Simon. I was nearly begging for Tate because it means cheerful and I thought it sounded great with Toby. And Brandon was really coming around when out of nowhere, Brandon put Levi in front. And I have to say I think it is perfect for him.

Levi's very first photo, still attached.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sweet Noah’s Birth Story

Noah’s birth is one of my favorite memories, and one I think of often. I didn’t know much about Midwives or the importance of the birthing experience when I found out I was pregnant. I went to my routine prenatal checkups at a hospital every four weeks. I felt like I was missing out on so much, I felt like another number or unknown face at the hospital. When I was six months pregnant, I attended a friend’s birth. She was having her first child at the birthing center with Amber. I wasn’t there for more than an hour before I knew that this is what I was missing. After experiencing this birth, I knew that if I continued with the hospital route I would always regret it and the experience of the birth of my child was not something I was willing to have any regrets about. So I started seeing Amber in my third trimester and it was a completely different vibe. I didn’t feel like I was just another number in a long line of people who needed to use the room after me. I knew I was finally heading in the direction of the birth that I wanted to have.

On the day of Noah’s birth I woke up at 6:30 am with my husband, James, as he was getting ready for work and I noticed that it felt like my water had a slow leak. Now, at this point I was so ready to meet my new little baby that I was on my 3rd or 4th false alarm. I was determined not to tell my husband “this is it” again, until it was really it. My mom had even flown in early because I was so sure I was going to have him early (I was walking around at 3cm dilated for over a week, so I thought every day was going to be the day). So I kissed my husband good bye and started my morning routine of “get this baby out” with yoga and walking. Throughout the morning I kept feeling little gushes of water, at this point I probably should have known, but I wasn’t having contractions and I was starting to get use to having no idea what my body was doing. Midmorning, I told my mom what was happening but I wasn’t getting my hopes up again. The minute I told her she shouted “This is it! That’s your water!” That’s when it finally hit me and I got really excited. We started preparing the house and running some errands to get some contractions going. When I was at the grocery store somebody asked me when I was due and my mom started crying and saying, “She’s in labor! The baby is coming today!” then the stranger started crying and put her hand on my stomach and prayed for me and the baby. It was a very special moment. James decided to come home early even though my contractions weren’t very strong yet. Amber came over at 6:30pm because I was feeling anxious about my water being broken for too long (I was scared about having to go to the hospital if we hit the 24hr mark). She finished breaking my bag of water and oh did those contractions come. She encouraged me to take a warm shower which helped. Labor progressed and I remember going through the transition state. I hit my wall and was afraid that I wouldn’t have the energy to push and I just needed a break from the pain. Not long after that, it was time to push. I was in the bathtub already and definitely felt the urge to push. This is when I got my second wind and had a renewed sense of energy. My sister was in the room with me and was driving me nuts with a flashlight that kept reflecting off the water into my face. She suddenly announced that it was a girl! All I could think of was “why does it still hurt?” As it turns out, she just saw the head and saw it had hair so she said it was a girl (yes, that’s going to come back to bite her- I can’t wait until her first pregnancy). I, on the other hand, still had a good 4 or 5 pushes to do. Then, he came. There are no words for the moment that you see your baby for the first time. Noah came out and was laid straight on my chest, not taken from me. The bonding between my husband, baby and I was instant and intense. Noah never cried, just stared at us and we just stared amazed at him. That was the moment I first understood a mother’s love which cannot be explained, only felt. 3 years later and he is absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Asher's Perspective

Hi! My name’s Asher. My Mom doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to write my birth story(not her). She’s so busy taking care of me she won’t even suspect me. Hee-hee!

I guess I should begin my story with the very first thing I remember. I was very warm and comfy, I wasn’t even moving around yet when all of a sudden I heard a lot of voices.

They were hard to understand but I’m smart and I figured out that they were my Grandparents and they were saying”congratulations” to my Mom. She had just found out about me. (I already knew about me for two weeks!) Anyways, Mom was kinda out of breath a lot and hungery(oops-I spelled it wrong!) at first. I was a growing boy! She ate a whole bunch of healthy food and some good food too like chips and soda. I have to admit that I was pretty good to my Mom in the first couple of months. I I didn’t give her any morning sickness! I was good because later I knew I wouldn’t be so good!

When I first started to move my arms and kick my legs, my Mom didn’t even notice, so I built up my strength and kicked her harder. I wanted her to pay attention! After a while, Mom started to poke me back especially when I kicked her in the ribs.(I wanted to tickle her). It was fun playing with her like that. What was also fun was the fact that my Mom didn’t know if I was a boy(boys are the coolest) or a girl(yuck). To call me something, Mom and Dad came up with “Shim.” I didn’t mind being called Shim because I didn’t have a real name yet(Mom and Dad named me Asher after I was born). There’s a ton of stuff I could talk about, but I’ll skip to the best part:MY BIRTH!!

It was dark outside of my Mom’s tummy when we left to go to the Birthing Center. I liked the Birthing Center because it felt like a real home. When we got there, Mom did a lot of moving around trying to get comfortable(and to get me out). I know I made it kinda hard on her because I was two weeks late and so big. (Sorry Mom!) Anyways, my Mom spent time walking around(I liked that), kneeling(not bad), in the bathtub(okay), and lying down(great). I didn’t feel like coming out right away. I liked being all tucked up with my left hand by my face, but Mom had other plans. She pushed and pushed and pushed and finally I came out! (Mom told me later that she was in labor for 11 hours and pushed for 4 of them..Wow!) It was hard at the very end because I got stuck, but my Mom’s midwife got me out. When I came out I was surrounded by people. There was my Mom and my Dad,my Grandma, Amber the midwife, and Salli her helper(Mom called Salli another word, but I forgot it). I liked all of the people there because I felt supported and loved! Uh-oh! Mom just walked in!

Well, Mom’s not angry, but she did want me to add some pearls of wisdom.(I don’t see any pearls.)

  1. Trust in God.. where your limits end His begin(and really he has no limits).
  2. Read up on pregnancy,birth, and babies but don’t expect the books to tell you everything.
  3. When labor begins, just let go and know that how far you have to go is only a short distance compared to where you’ve come from.
  4. Know and believe that you can do it.
  5. God Bless!!


Asher Michael White- 8/12/06

P.S. Oh yeah, I was 9 lbs.9 oz. and 22 in.

Serious Team Work...Sweet Baby Boy

Angi’s Birth Story

It all began when my water broke at 9:00p.m., the Sunday before Labor Day. I had assumed my entire pregnancy my baby would come on Sept. 4th, Labor Day. Anyway, we rushed home and began preparing-bleaching the bathroom, washing the sheets, inflating the birth pool, asking soup and cooking a birthday cake. This “preparation” lasted about an hour and a half. We had managed to complete all of our “early labor activities” and still had hours to go in early labor. Upon reflection I should have gone to bed, or at least tried to rest but I had hoped things wouldn’t last too long.

I had called Amber at 9:00p.m. and she told me to stay positive and call back when my contractions started. About one hour later I called when my contractions were about 5 minutes apart lasting about 30 seconds. She said to call back when they were 1 minute long. Amber and Salli showed up around 3a.m. Things were progressing smoothly and when my contractions were about a minute apart they filled the birthing pool and I got in. Once in the poll, my contractions lessened and we all waited patiently. After 5 hours in the pool and not much progression, Amber suggested I get out so she could check me. I did and we soon discovered that cervix was beginning to swell. Amber said I would have to try and go to sleep, allow my cervix to stop swelling, and then I could finish dilating. So everyone present, Amber, Salli, a good friend Jessica, and my husband Doug began massaging me so I could relax and fall asleep. We alternated 30 minutes on each side and luckily I was able to sleep between contractions.

After 2 hours of resting, Amber checked me again. My cervix had gone down and I had dilated to 9.5. I had a cervical lip that the baby’s head would have to come over. This was the first time I started pushing. After one or two good contractions, my contractions slowed down and only came every 5 minutes or so. We tried getting in the shower and nipple stimulation to continue dilation, however I stayed at 9.5 cms. for another 7 hours!

At this point we began taking herbal supplements to increase contractions. Nothing seemed to be working. I tried every position I had read about-walking around, squatting, and rocking on my hands and knees. I began to get frustrated because every time I felt like I could push, after 2 or 3 good contractions, everything would slow down and I wouldn’t have a contraction for 5 minutes or so.

This entire time the baby was doing fine. The heartbeat was stable, no signs of distress. However, after 18 hours in the birth canal, Amber began to worry the head was molding and the potential for infection was increasing because my water had been broken for so long. As a last resort, I took some castor oil in hopes of kick-starting my contractions. For the next 1.5 hours I sat on the toilet dry heaving while the rest of the group prepared for a transport to the hospital. Bags were packed, list of do’s and don’ts were written, and heart were hurting due to the thought of having to go to the hospital.

While sitting in the bathroom, I had to come to a place where my full faith was in god and I had to accept whatever happened as long as a healthy baby was delivered.

Before getting dressed and going to the car Amber decided to check me one last time. While she was checking me, I had a strong contraction and decided to push. She felt the baby’s head behind the pubic bone and told me to feel. When I felt the baby’s head only half a finger from being out, I decided I was going to push that baby out, contractions or no contractions. Amber got on the bed and looked me in the eyes and said, “We’re going to the hospital pushing. You’ve got to find something within yourself you’ve never known. Go deep within and push this baby out.”

With my husband pushing my shoulders up, Salli pulling back one leg, Jessica pulling back the other leg and Amber pulling apart my pubic bone, we all began pushing. Everyone was counting and I kept pushing. After about 1 hour our tough little baby boy was born. He was healthy and safe. His breathing was a little sporadic due to the fluid in his lungs. He was passed to Daddy and he laid baby Jack on his lap and gently rubbed his back and everything that was blocking his breathing began running out his nose and mouth. Soon his breathing stabilized and all of us were relieved. I am thankful to everyone there for their patience and determination. It took us all to get our sweet baby here.

Although my labor was long, I wouldn’t change it for anything. It brought me to a place of complete surrender and trust. Even though I had a major tear, the quick recovery has been incredible. I learned that a woman’s body is truly amazing. It is designed to withstand more than a woman can even imagine.

A Little Princess


This is a bit late, but I’m a procrastinator. I just wanted to thank you so much for being such an excellent midwife. I had such a wonderful homebirth experience and would most definitely do it again. I don’t have a single complaint. Though experiencing natural childbirth in a hospital was an amazing experience, being at home was exceptional and phenomenal. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Shay is also very pleased and liked being at home in our bed much better than sleeping in a separate bed at a hospital. Having the whole family sleep together that first night was wonderful. Also, I healed much more quickly this time, and I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t tear as much or because you did a great repair job, but either way, I’m grateful. Elli is only 2 months old, and I feel great! Thanks again for everything. I will definitely recommend you to anyone I know who needs a midwife.

Love Erika

P.S. Elli thanks you too! She had such a peaceful entry into this world and she couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Homebirth-In Pictures

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