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

The birth of your child will without a doubt be one of the most miraculous and important days of your lives
and every moment, is just that -a moment. Hiring a professional photographer will ensure that these special moments will
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Your birth story. Told through pictures.

the wonder of the final push...
that first cry...
those tiny feet...
the look on a new parents face when the baby is placed in their arms...

What better way to document those moments
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As a mother
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It's the most important day of your
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I would love to discuss capturing your maternity, birth, newborn, family or other session- please view my birth photography page for more information!

Monday, 7 February 2011

My Own...

Makai’s Birth

The last few of weeks of my pregnancy had been very hard. I was so tired and really felt like I was ill. My blood pressure continued to run in the higher ranges of normal and occasionally became mildly high thus causing me some concern. I continued to have mild headaches in my forehead that would never go away. Leah and Stacy had planned on arriving on the 4th of April, but closer to time we all knew that that would be too late. They called and asked how I felt about having them come in on Friday, the 28th. That was exactly what I wanted them to do and so they made their trip from Amarillo at 11pm Thursday night.

I saw them the following afternoon at a picnic at the island. We cooked hamburgers and hotdogs and briefly discussed what would happen the following day. They asked me how anxious I was to have my baby, and I told them it was time. I had been having strong regular contractions for a while and I knew that you were a good size.

I was 3 cm dilated when they checked my cervix Saturday morning. They stripped my membranes and applied Arnica to my cervix right before noon. The next thing was to wait. I had mild sensations above my pubic bone and in my lower back for hours, but thought it was just from the stimulation to my cervix. I did not think it was going to work. I asked Chris to check my cervix around 3:30 that afternoon and he did not feel any change since the night before. I was disappointed. I called Leah and she said they could try some more arnica, so a couple hours later I went to their room and they tried the arnica again. My cervix opened to a 6 and then slowly to an 8 internally and a 9 on the external os. I was fully effaced and they said it would not be long. I did not believe what they said. I was not having any discomfort and the contractions that I did feel were only lasting about 20 seconds long. They were no stronger than the braxton-hicks that I had been feeling the weeks before. It was so hard to believe that I would be holding the baby in no time. I finished setting things up and making phone calls around 7pm. The sensations were still the same and although I was almost completely finished dilating I had no pain. Leah wanted to rupture the bag to give the uterus a tighter fit and so I agreed. The water was clear and plentiful. We did this with me sitting in the tub, I decided to go ahead and stay in, so I filled it up with warm water and just focused on the feelings in my body. I had regular contractions, one long, lasting about 45 seconds and one short, lasting 15 to 20 seconds. They were strongest down low so I constantly massaged my uterus just above my pubic bone and that made it very tolerable. My cervix was still posterior and I had a good lip that kept your head back. I was completely dilated and it felt good to push, but I didn’t have that overwhelming desire yet. As long as I could remain focused between the contractions I could deal with the one to follow. There were a lot of people in the room and their talking really distracted me during that time. I needed silence to keep my mind from wandering off and to prepare for the upcoming task.

Throughout the delivery I relied heavily on your father and we shared something amazing that evening. Everything he did felt good to me and I found so much comfort in his arms. I had heard of couples connecting through birth and there was no doubt that our love was strengthened that night. I cannot imagine what it would have been like without him there. His body was so strong and held me through every pain. I feel as though we did it together and that he was as much apart of the birth as I was.

After a few more contractions Leah felt it was necessary to hold the cervix over your head so you could be born. I wanted to wait because it was very intense to try pushing past their manipulations. The contractions felt better than their hand inside of me and so we did wait for a few more. We tried more arnica and then they finally convinced me that it needed to be done. It hurt tremendously to push past it, but somehow I did it. She finally took her hand out and I had the strong need to push. Leah told me to keep it slow, and that too was hard. My body took over and started pushing so hard. They kept telling me that it wouldn’t be long, but I really didn’t believe them. I had pushed for 45 minutes with the previous births and that was while really making a lot of effort. This time I pushed like that for only about 5 minutes. It seemed like your head was on my bottom for a long time as they tried to help my skin stretch. You had a loose cord around your neck and Stacy unlooped that and then I finished the work of pushing your head out. They put both mine and Chris’ hands down and together we pulled the rest of your body out. You made two little squeaks and then were silent. You never cried. You lay on my chest with eyes wide open and just listened to the sounds of our voices. No one else even touched you. They left you with me and for that I will always feel blessed. Some of the people were concerned that something was wrong because the room was so quiet, but I knew that you were okay. I could feel you breathing as you lie on my chest and your feet were moving all around like you were swimming. From the moment I saw you I fell in love. You had this peace about you that I have never seen before. Your eyes just searched in amazement, but you were not afraid. When you heard your daddy’s voice you stretched your head and neck to try to find him. It was all so amazing.

After the birth the placenta was born. It took only a few minutes and that too was done. Stacy quickly checked my perineum and found it all fine. Everyone left the room and you father and I just spent the next few moments in heaven. We checked your bottom to see if you were a boy and of course you were. I saw that you were as I pulled you to my chest, but your dad still did not know. It was so exciting to wait until your birth to find out your sex. Even though I felt like I would give birth to a son throughout my pregnancy I was shocked when I saw for my own eyes.

Daddy climbed out of the tub and got cleaned up. I stayed in a while longer and then decided to clean off and climb out of the tub. You stayed awake for quite a while, just looking all around. The room was dark and quiet and the three of us were so happy.

You were born at 8:45 pm on Saturday the 29th of March 2003. You weighed 9 pounds even and were 21 inches long. You had dark hair and dark pink skin. We named you Makai Oliver. Your birth was perfect, as are you.

A Letter from an Old Friend :-)

Hi Amber,

So I got to attend a natural birth at a hospital Sunday morning. That was the most awesome experience. I realized it has been 10 years since I caught a baby and back then, I didn't really know as much as I do now, nor did I have kids, so it wasn't necessarily as powerful an experience as Sunday mornings was! All that saying, it was also a very strange experience. This was the first hospital birth I've ever been to. My patients that I had in clinicals as a student nurse didn't have their babies while I was there, so this was the first one. So I decided, pretty much the only thing comparable between hospital birth w/ a midwife and home/birthcenter birth was delivering drug free, and they lay the baby on your chest post birth. They also delayed cord cutting, but it didn't seem like it was very long. They did say that it had ceased pulsing. Hmm.

It was definitely a very strange situation. She had 6 different nurses come in and say they were her nurse and wanted to know if she was going to use pain medicine (this is while she was in transition mind you). On top of that, the anesthesiologist comes in and wants an informed consent for emergency C-Section just in case. And of course, my friend is trying to breath through contractions and can't exactly answer immediately, and the anesthesiologist won't let us answer for her. Not sure if that was routine, or if that was in response to the baby's heartrate decreasing, b/c we were having trouble getting the monitor to stay on (one reason I love intermittent monitoring). I found myself paying way too much attention to the baby's heartrate, and I know everyone else was too, which is probably another reason they jump the gun and do c-sections. I've heard they try to have you change positions, but I was not so sure w/ the way things were going.

Then she gets to a 9, and when they are checking they say, "That's a bulging bag of water. We are going to break it, so that it will relieve some pressure." I'm thinking in my head it's going to break any second now, she's having the urge to bear down and push, why don't you leave it alone. They tried to, but can't remember what happened, and weren't able to, and I asked them why they were doing it, and they said they didn't have to, and sure enough the next contraction her water broke.

It was also weird b/c the nurses weren't helping her at all, the midwife stayed outside til she had fully dilated to a 10, and then came in all steriled up to catch the baby. I was the one putting pressure on her lower back. I was the one holding her leg up and open and rubbing her leg to keep it from cramping. Just odd. Oh, and unfortunately she got comfortable in a side lying position and w/ the way the bed & her leg was positioned, she ended up pushing uphill against gravity. Ugh! I kept trying to get her to stand up and squat to help baby descend "faster" and to let gravity help, but she had gotten comfortable side lying.

In the midst of all this, another nurse comes in and starts doing her chart. She mentions that she has pitocin ready for after the baby comes. I asked, "Why?" Basically the answer was to help contract the uterus so that there isn't any excessive bleeding(true, but apparently this was a routine procedure). I told her she didn't want it. She asked if my friend had told her midwife. I wasn't sure, but I said Yes! So, she patted me on the back, and said patronizingly, "Don't get me wrong, I am all about natural births, I have my Masters in Maternity, but we need to have it here just in case." (Ok, I can understand that, but really you don't have to talk to me like you are better than me!)

It felt like they play to all the just in cases instead of just letting birth happen. It was a very strange experience. After that I was soooooooooo thankful that I don't go to hospitals to have my babies. I can't imagine having that kind of experience. There was nothing calming about it. I can't imagine being constantly interrupted by people who know nothing about me, wanting to ask me questions while I'm in transition. Ugh!

Anyway, all that to say, Thank you so much for allowing me to have a very amazing birth! After the hospital experience I was ready to sign up to take midwife classes again to counteract what I had just witnessed! But then reality hit when I came home, and had to take care of 3 little ones. Gotta hold off a few more years, and then maybe start the classes again. At least it got me more passionate than ever to finish!! I'm sure I'll be asking for advice from you!!
Thank you for believing in natural birth, and being so easygoing. I tell everyone you were my favorite midwife! Keep up the good work!


A little late...Ms. Laila

On Halloween night, 2005, I discovered I was pregnant. As this was not a planned pregnancy, I was in shock for at least the next two months. Finally after accepting the drastic change in my life (and finally getting over my "all day" pregnancy sickness) I frequently stated to my boyfriend (of 8 years) Geoff, that I had my birth plan all figured out. It was quite simple really, knock me out with whatever you've got and wake me up when you are putting a clean fresh baby in my arms. Being skeptical of "The Man" at every turn in life, he asked if I would consider a drug free pregnancy for the baby's sake. At this I laughed, Very Loudly! I said the baby would be just fine and that all babies are born that way so don't worry about it. It was my body and in this situation I was going to do what I had to do to get through it.
We were living in Portland, Oregon at the time and were planning to move home a couple months before the baby was born. Geoff was working all the time and I found myself with lots of time on my hands. I went to the public library and checked out every book on pregnancy and childbirth that I could find and started reading. I value education very much and am still shocked over how long it took me to even think of educating myself about the biggest event ever to take place in my life

Day by day of reading my whole view on birth changed. I could not believe how important it was for me not to take drugs, and since I was lucky enough to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, to have my child anywhere but a hospital. I got on the internet and searched for these crazy things called birth centers. There were very few in the whole United States and I was lucky and amazed to find one in my small home town of New Braunfels! I called right away and talked with a woman named Amber Riedel. She instantly make me feel really good about giving birth and how amazing it could actually be. No one so far had made me feel comfortable about anything!! Through a few phone calls I knew that this was how I wanted my child to come into the world and this was who I wanted to bring her there. I had also decided to have a water birth at my mother’s house. Just a small change from drugs and a hospital!

I arrived home at the end of April and met Amber in May. My appointments with her were quite different than my previous prenatal visits. There were comfortable and reassuring. Then on July 11th I woke up in labor. That sure was a crazy day. Amber was good at keeping me calm until I actually needed her. I of course thought “this is it” at least five times. Eventually I was right and Amber and Salli (her assistant) made their way over to my mom’s house. I was lucky my labor was going very quickly. It was of course extremely painful, but Geoff, Amber, and Salli were so helpful. Amber said to reach down and I could feel the top of her head. I wanted to “do it on my own” and was doing well, but at this point Amber had felt her head should have been born so she checked around and discovered that my right hip was askew and I was not being able to push her past my pelvic bone. So what should have been thirty minutes of pushing turned into two hours. Amber tried so many positions in the water that got my leg out of the way but I just could not push productively. She said I had to get out of the water and try squatting. It was hard and it finally got to the point that she wanted to use other than natural means it had been so long. The threat of chemically induced round of contractions helped me push her right out. That and some good old black cohosh, natures pitocin. Once the head was born I was so relieved. From watching my water birth videos I knew the body birthed easily. It was the most amazing thing feeling her body twist and turn out of mine. At 10:24 PM I held my beautiful baby girl on my belly. As she stared up at me so peacefully, surrounded by her family in a warm dimly lit room, I knew that I had brought her into this world in the best way I knew how. We were never separated, she was never stuck with needles, and she was so alert. Geoff and I spent the rest of the night in our own bed with our precious little angel. We called her that for four days until we named her!!! Laila Davan Moon is her name.

I am ever so glad I educated myself. Life is different when you decide to step out of the box. I could not have done this without Amber and Salli. They worked so hard right along with me. I never felt scared. Amber really helped give me confidence when I felt it starting to fail. I was so lucky to have the support and involvement of the most amazing man I know. He was there every step of the way and then some. I am so blessed with this amazing family and Amber Riedel, Thank You for bringing her into this world.

To My Beautiful Daughter, Born at Home

I'm recording my memories of your birth-for you,Lucy,and also for me. I don't ever want to forget the amazing,beautiful, and powerful experience of the day we met you. Even four months later as I write this, the sweet anticipation of your arrival seems like yesterday. And yet,I can hardly remember our life before you! Loving you is the purest have always been in my heart and now you're finally here with us! On June 13th,my day began early,with mild contractions that I hoped might mean that the time of your birth was near. I lay in bed and noticed them and what they felt like-tightening-not painful,but crampy. Then I got up to the bathroom and had a small bloody show. I felt a great combination of peace and excitement,just so ready to accept whatever the day brought. I had read every book and watched all the videos I could get my hands on about giving birth, because although you do have two older brothers,they were both born in the hospital(where I was induced and anesthetized)and you would be born at home. I remember telling Amber,our midwife,that I was hoping for a better birth experience for me and for my baby! Amber and I had talked many times during the pregnancy about what that meant to me,and so I felt prepared if this was in fact IT.
Wearing a secret smile,I got your brothers up and we got ready for the day. We had breakfast and I took them to vacation bible school at our church. I decided to go look for a baby book for you, and so I spent an hour or so browsing around the stationary store,because I had a growing feeling I might be needing that book soon. Each time a contraction came,I stopped and felt it move through me. They weren't painful,and I considered going grocery shopping,but decided to go home and rest until time to get your brothers. I enjoyed a relaxing morning,and returned to pick them up at noon. I felt very private now,and I remember parking and walking way around the long way to avoid socializing at pick up time!

Our afternoon was uneventful, except for Daddy calling to check on us every hour. He wanted to know what was going on and whether it would be your birthday or not! I could tell he was getting excited,too. Jake and Trevor sat on the couch and watched a movie and I decided to take a bath. The contractions,when I timed them,I noticed were coming regularly but didn't feel much stronger. So I rested in the tub,felt you moving and stretching,and I thought,"Lucy,if you're ready,I'm ready too."Maybe you heard me,because when I got out of the tub, I had the feeling they were closer together.
Trevor and I baked chocolate chip cookies,and then the boys ate dinner and bathed. It was a cozy evening at home, exactly what I'd hoped early labor would be like for us. Your Daddy was still in San Antonio;he had tickets to a show downtown. I told him to go ahead and I would call him if anything changed. I really wanted to keep everything normal and relaxed. I stayed in the kitchen and started making some banana bread-and Daddy called again to say he was on his way home;he'd left early and was glad he would be home soon. The contractions were 3-5 minutes apart now,and I got your brothers ready for bed. When Daddy got home we were all laying on our bed,and I was reading to Trevor. Daddy took the boys into their room, and they fell asleep right away. It was amazing how soon after having them tucked in the contractions really started to change. I told your Daddy I thought they were getting closer together. We sat together and talked. The contractions got more intense;within about 15 minutes I couldn't pay attention to anything during a contraction.
I told your Daddy I was ready to call Amber. It was about 10:30pm and I wanted her to know what was going on. She advised us to time some of the contractions and call her when they were consistently 60 seconds long and about 4 minutes apart(or if I felt I needed her sooner). Almost as soon as we hung up the phone,the contractions intensified and grew to 3-4 minutes apart! I walked around our home,stopping and concentrating and swaying as if I felt I needed to. I got into our hot tub to sit and listen to music,and right away got back out to walk; my body was telling me to be up and moving! I hadn't had any more bleeding,but I knew this was definitely labor. How exciting that the time to meet you was so close at hand!

We called Amber back,and she arrived at our home around midnight. She performed the only exam that I had during labor(at my request) and said I was 4 cm dilated. I think she could tell that I expected to be a little bit farther along, and she reassured me that I was progressing fine,the labor was picking up and would,she thought,go quickly now. She suggested getting in the shower and sitting on the birth ball with hot water spraying on my back. Amber also reminded me to give this new position a few contractions to see if it worked for me, not to give up on it until I'd tried through a few. This was excellent advice. I found that it did take a few contractions to get into the rhythm with new position. So, I sat in my shower like this for a while(I had now started to lose track of time,I just"was")and concentrated on opening,breathing all the way down through my body with each contraction. I was making a low noise that came out with each one as it built up and peaked;doing that calmed me and centered me in each contraction. After a while I was ready to get out of the shower. Salli, Amber's apprentice and awesome doula,had arrived. I was walking around the room and the hallway,and I remember laughing with Salli that"I can't believe I wanted labor to start,I must have been out of my mind!" She asked what I wanted to do now and I laughed,"Take a nap!" I think she looked at me like I was nuts! My friend Betsy had compared labor to a roller coaster ride-once it gets going,you can't change your mind,you just have to ride it out because there's no getting out until it's over. The contractions now were rushing through me with a powerful force,and it took all of my concentration to ride each one. But how different this was from my boys' hospital births. My house was quite and softly lit;my own sanctuary. Amber and Salli had entered respectfully,even the tone of their voices was quiet. I was in my own space and I could greet each sensation calmly. It really made all the difference having women there alongside me, and not feeling like anyone was doing anything TO me.

Salli offered to rub my back,and although I didn't think my back was really hurting, I agreed if she thought it would help. Her hands brought immediate relief! It was amazing;I sat on the giant birthing ball next to my bed and leaned my forehead on the mattress. In preparation for labor, I had massage oil ready along with the birth kit,towels,and soft little receiving blankets. The scent of that lavender oil will always take me back to those hours of active labor when my midwives rubbed my back tirelessly!

Amber, Salli, and now Kari offered words of encouragement and affirmation in hushed tones as I released my body with low moaning sounds. I felt connected through their hands on me. When I labored with Jake and Trevor I remember feeling alone and consumed with pain, overpowered by the contractions,like they were mowing me over with their sheer force. This was actually the opposite experience. I felt the quiet presence of women who had given birth before as much as I felt their hands on me. And so the labor continued, but time seemed to be suspended. I imagined you pressing down, preparing to meet us! Then Amber said we could head for the water because your birth would be soon. We started slowly walking out to the kitchen, and then to the deck. Your daddy was asking if I was sure about going to the tub outside, but I KNEW. I slipped into the wonderful warm water, and right away the next contraction felt very different. Looking back, that must have been transition because it is the only time I felt a kind of panicked loss of focus; it was scary and I guess I said something; Amber had been setting up supplies and she looked at me and said, "O.K., do what you feel like doing with the next contraction." When it came, I realized I was pushing! In the water, the pushing was intense pressure, with a force that moved through me. My body just took over with awesome power and wisdom. It still amazes me! The first part of labor required so much mental energy, and now I was pushing and it felt so different, so undeniably physical! It wasn't sharp or fiery pain as I had imagined. I experienced a pressure I just HAD to push to relieve myself from. Your daddy was in the water sitting behind me and in just a few pushes your head was out. I remember Kari unwrapping your cord and so I didn't push while she did this, and I was confident because I knew I was in the best of hands with Amber, Salli, and Kari. At 4:05am, you were born!
I pulled you through the water to my chest. You looked around and as I started to talk to you, your dark eyes looked at me. You weren't crying but I knew you were O.K. Amber suggested blowing in your mouth to stimulate you some more and so I made some little sounds but I don't think you had anything to cry about. You were warm and no bright lights were shining in your eyes. Only gentle hands checked you out as you rested on me next to the heartbeat you had known for 9 months. And so you entered this world, so calm, peaceful, and sweet Lucy! I remember asking, "Are you really a girl?", as I lifted you up to see for myself...yes, a daughter and a sister had been born!
Your grandma arrived and woke up your brothers! I was so focused on what I was doing, we had forgotten to get them up! Trevor jumped right in the water with us. Both Jake and Trevor instantly adored you! And then, I was getting out of the tub and maybe the BEST part came next...I got to climb into my own bed with you and Daddy. Our midwives took care of us and brought me toast and juice. They weighed and measured you and assessed you right there on our bed. Your dark eyes were taking everything in, and you were just the most delicious bundle in your tiny diaper. I remember I didn't want to get you dressed for a while, we were in the covers and cozy next to each other as you nursed, and we just stared and stared at you. A new soul, our daughter...we loved you completely, right from the start.

"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2

Oh Amy, thank you so much for sharing this birth story with me. I will never forget the peacefulness of that night/early morn. Your sweet baby was so calm and so at peace and that is such a beautiful gift from the Lord.
You 2 girls will always be in my heart! Amber