Being asked to be the midwife of a fellow birth professional is potentially one of the most joyful and humbling requests I have had in my midwifery journey. It means that through the years of someone attending births in many settings, with many providers, and in a community with many options that they felt you were 'their' midwife. Even just typing that gives me all the good feels goose pimples. Birth worker sisterhood is something fierce. Ride or die stuff. I was so filled with joy when Melissa asked me to walk with them along this path. Melissa had attended a birth with me where my birth assistant did not make it in time and we had a full shoulder dystocia and resuscitation that she was able to assist me with flawlessly. That was our bonding moment I think! From that point forward I knew I could rely on her to take fantastic care of families in so many ways. I am so grateful we have her in our community! Her story will resonate with a lot of other birth professionals as well- the ones who "know too much" which can complicate birth in so many ways. She worked hard past this and utilized her tribe to help her navigate the path so beautifully.
"The birth of our second child was long awaited. Our firstborn Peter, was a rainbow baby (born after pregnancy loss) after years of trying and seeing fertility specialists. After Peter’s birth, I assumed I knew which treatments were effective for my infertility issues and that we would easily be able to conceive in the future. But once again, years of longing, tried and failed medications and lots of crying led us to believe it might not happen again. But I never really gave up hope. I believed in my heart that God was going to bless us with a larger family. The day I took a pregnancy test, I didn’t even wait to see the result. I just left it in the bathroom and went to grab coffee. Upon returning I saw a faint line. I almost spilled my coffee! I ran into my husband’s study where he was reading and he asked, “are you sure?” We were both in shock!
My pregnancy was for the most part uneventful and a joyful time of preparation. Implementing the diet and exercise principles I teach as a childbirth instructor with Birth Boot Camp along with having regular chiropractic care (Dr. Rachel Settles at Innate Chiropractic) and regular massage (Melissa Loera of Rising Lotus) assisted me greatly in maintaining a healthy pregnancy. It was also so much fun explaining to my then three year old son Peter, that mom had a baby in her belly. The look of wonder in his eyes as we told him we would have a little brother or sister before too long was priceless. We had chosen to keep the sex of the baby a surprise, although almost daily Peter would tell us all about his sister that was coming--strongly influenced by Baby Margaret’s arrival on Daniel Tiger. My first pregnancy I had developed gestational diabetes and had to transfer out of the birth center I was planning to birth with at 29 weeks and while I was able to have a wonderful experience birthing spontaneously and without medication in the hospital, I knew that this time I wanted to do everything possible to NOT have gestational diabetes and birth at home. I think I checked my patient online portal every five minutes after my testing at 28 weeks until I saw that I had passed my glucose test! I was ready to really settle into preparing to birth my baby at home.
About five-six weeks before my EDD we moved. According to Charlie, this happens frequently! Initially I was overwhelmed with the idea of moving so close to having a baby, especially at home! I kept imagining going into labor surrounded by boxes and digging to find baby blankets or something. In reality, moving was AWESOME!!!! Nothing like obsessive nesting to ensure every box is unpacked, every closet is organized and everything you need for your baby and birth is neatly placed aside. After about 38/39 weeks EVERY NIGHT I cleaned and organized the house because I needed everything clean. Too bad that didn’t carry over post partum…
My sister in law and photographer Libbi flew in a couple days before my EDD (as you can see, also pregnant! I got to be with her at the birth of her beautiful daughter 10 weeks after my birth as her doula). My birth team was ready. Now I had to just wait. As a doula, I always tell my clients to keep themselves busy. Baby is not likely to come on their due date, blah blah blah. I know it all. I did it all. I had errands and activities planned for a week! Well we got all of them accomplished and still no baby. I honestly didn’t mind going over my due date. I was more concerned because my sister in law was leaving, my mother in law was coming to “help after the baby” and there was no baby! Charlie came by Thursday morning for an appointment. I was 40w 5d at that point. We started talking about next steps now that I was past my due date. I honestly did not think we were even going to have to worry about this! I went into labor with Peter on my due date and had him the next day. There were tears. Honestly more out of humiliation than angst that my baby wasn’t ready to be earthside.
And sure enough, the ugly cry relaxed me. I knew it was out of my hands and my body said, OK! Contractions started shortly after my midwife left. I was suspicious that they were the real deal but went about my day trying to hide it. Around 6pm I called my husband who was supposed to be on call overnight and told him he had probably find another person to cover his shift and head home. I ate a nice dinner, took a hot bath and relaxed with a movie on the couch. Around 9pm I decided to give Charlie a heads up. Things were still very early but I just wanted her to know things were brewing. While I was on the phone with her, I felt a surge. I initially thought it was just mucus or other birthy fun but as I stood up to head to the bathroom to check things out, I felt a gush. My water had broken.
I was a good girl, listened to my own advice that I give my own doula clients, I did what my midwife said-- I went to bed! I was annoyed because I probably could have slept through the contractions had my water not broken. Every so often more water would surge during the mild contractions. But I did get some rest. I woke up around midnight antsy and decided to walk around. I really got into a labor groove. In the dim light of my livingroom, I played soft music and breathed with each contraction. They were getting stronger and closer and I could feel the anticipation building in my heart. I was finally going to meet my little baby! I had prayed for this baby for so long. As a Catholic I had decided to “offer up my labor” for those struggling with infertility. Just as Jesus offered up his suffering on the cross for our redemption, we too can offer up life’s sufferings as a prayer to God. I began reading my list of those I knew were walking through the darkness of infertility or pregnancy loss as I went through each contraction. After a while I called my doula. I wanted my family to be well rested (poor Rachel Crissman! Apparently I was ok with her losing sleep! She came. I called my midwife while my doula was on her way. Then Charlie asked me, “are you ready for us to come?” and I remembered my own voice. “If you are unsure if its time to go to the hospital or call your midwife, it’s probably not time.”
Rachel got there and we got into a little groove together. Knowing rest was important, I tried lying in the couch while she massaged and provided counter pressure during contractions. Her gentle presence and firm touch was so lovely it put me to sleep! I went to my bedroom and awoke about three hours later. “Oh crap” I though to myself. I had anticipated being in strong active labor at this point. I called Charlie back to let her know the contractions were slowing down again but that I wanted to go ahead and proceed with antibiotics for my Group B Strep. By then my mom was there to help with my son, my Mother in Law had flown in, my sister in law was there for the pictures, I had sent Rachel home temporarily and Charlie and Jenn arrived. My son thought it was a party.
Charlie came and checked on baby. I chose to do an exam so that I could make an informed decision on what the next step should be. Since I wasn’t all that far along and my water had already been broken for over 12hrs at this point, Charlie recommended castor oil to help move things along and antibiotics for the Group B strep. While my mom went to the drug store my chiropractor came over to give me an adjustment. Then I took the plunge. It was not nearly as terrible as I thought. It tasted like plastic. Philip and I went for a walk and soon we headed back in because the castor oil kicked in. I had moments of good strong contractions but they were too far apart and I knew it. The trouble with being a birth professional in labor is you know too much. Already things were not going as I had anticipated. My first birth was LONG. 32 hours. I expected this one to be at least half that. But here we were, 15 hrs after my water had broken and I still wasn’t in active labor. Again all my labor was radiating through my back despite all the exercises I had done to get my baby into an optimal position, baby was still posterior. I was stressed so I tried to take a bath. My doula Rachel came back while I was in the tub. I cried. I told her I was afraid of transfer. She listened empathetically and held my hand. My husband was there too. Things got more intense in the tub but not closer together. We walked the halls. I kissed my son and sent him and my moms away. I needed to focus. I called my other doula and dear friend Cassidy and I knew things were picking up.
We decided it was a good idea to asses again and I was only 5 or 6cm. I knew that it meant nothing but I was feeling the heat to get this labor started. I asked my husband to fill in the tub while I received my second round of antibiotics. I laid in my bed waiting for the tub and seemingly out of nowhere, active labor came. I was kind of stuck in the bed for a while because of the IV. They used a tiny gauged needle and it was taking what felt like forever. All I wanted was that tub. As I laid there sounding out my labor--- OK I was moaning like a dying cow-- Rachel and Cassidy took turns providing counter pressure and offering words of encouragement. I thought of the past two and a half years of longing. It was a dark time. Seemingly endless. Just like labor. When you’re in the moment, it feels never ending. I prayed more for those traveling through that journey. I really thought I had another 6-10 hours of labor left. I jumped in the pool as soon as it was full enough. It was a sweet relief. The contractions were still intensifying but the water helped me melt into them more easily. My mom and mother in law returned at some point but I was too focused to notice. My sister in law masterfully took pictures while being invisible to me.
Soon after getting in the tub I felt the urge to push. I ignored it for a while. It couldn’t be! I had just been 6cm! But i knew this happens frequently. My body began to push. I looked up at Charlie and asked, “Am I pushing?” She just smiled and said, “Looks like it”. My first labor I never felt the urge to push so experiencing my body’s natural expulsion was wonderful. I really tried to “breathe out my baby” but I grunted and moaned more than anything. I couldn’t help or stop it. I held on tightly to my husband as I let my body work. As the baby started crowning, I felt the head rotate to an anterior position. One or two pushes later, the baby was here! About three hours after active labor kicked in my baby was in my arms.
It was then that I really noticed how full of people my room was and I was so thankful they were all there for my new rainbow birth. The cloud that I had carried during those years of longing for a child, they were with me along that journey and they were present in the moment of birth. Soon after, Holli Webb, another dear friend who had supported me all through my journey came and provided placenta services. Seeing her face after his birth brought joy to my heart because I know she knew what we had experienced to get here. I also recently discovered that someone I prayed for during my labor conceived the day I went into labor after years of failed fertility treatments.
Oh and the baby was a boy. Joseph Samuel. Named for two people whose mothers prayed for them in scripture as we had prayed for our son. The next morning we got to introduce Peter to his brother. He still keeps asking for a girl baby, but I think Joseph is starting to grow on him. I was so glad to have a birth team of people who knew me.The energy was completely different than my hospital birth. It was so nice to be home."