April 2nd, 2017
“Let it be. Let it be. Let it be. Let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom.
Let it be.”
- The Beatles
When I think of my birthing experiences with Jen, this song comes to mind. Not just because she is a traditional midwife and midwives are usually known for a more ‘hands-off’ approach, but because this is the song Jen was singing to our newborn daughter at our one-week postpartum visit.
Before I knew it, our baby was here. Pregnancy has a way of flying by, when you are able to enjoy it – when you give yourself permission to. That doesn’t come easy. Permission. Who are we to be so selfish to allow ourselves something like that? Well, we are mothers. And we deserve it.
Enjoying your pregnancy doesn’t always come easy, but it comes as a result of dedication, perseverance and a genuine and strong support team.
The dedication and perseverance? Well, that’s you. And to some people (other than your baby) those two qualities may be perceived as something else.
The genuine and strong support team? That’s Jen. Her team. Your partner. Your doula. Anyone who is with you 100%, willing to walk with you on the path you choose to take.
By the time I was six months pregnant with our first (our son, who is now almost two) I had been to several different OBGYNs in the area. Each visit left me with a stale, isolated feeling. They were “routine checkups” to me. Height. Weight. Blood pressure. I was a “routine patient.” Apart from using a Doppler for listening to the baby’s heartbeat, no one had even touched my pregnant belly.
What was supposed to be exciting and new for us was snuffed out by the mundane vibrations in each one of those offices. When I requested more photos from my anatomy scan from a particular ultrasound technician, I was told that it was inappropriate for me to ask for anything more than what I was given. I was asked why I would want them anyways – it was practically the same thing as a liver ultrasound and people didn’t ask for extra photos from those.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew that this wasn’t the way I was supposed to be treated or feeling and I was going to follow my gut into a situation that gave me and our baby what we needed.
God chimed in – in the form of a friend from across the country who introduced me to the documentary The Business of Being Born. I was also getting warmed up to the Midwives Model of Care through a friend I worked with and his wife, who had experienced birth at a birthing center.
Yes. This was better. This was all much better. This was it, what I was searching for.
But. Can I have my baby at home? Is that OK? Is this legal? Who would attend? How much does this cost? How does all this work?
And just like that, I was hooked. That gift from God, that documentary, was my gateway drug into this whole new world, into the journey I am still on almost three years later.
Jen ended up coming to me through a mutual friend (our doula for our son’s birth). I remember our first phone call. Our “screening.”
“Could I work with this person through my birthing time?” I thought.
“Why do you want to have your baby at home?” she asked.
This was a two-way street, two simultaneous interviews, two adults investing their time in a worthy conversation to ensure a good working relationship, respecting one another, no judgements.
Did we each possess the qualities that we were searching for in one another?
It turned out that the answer was YES.
That day, I talked to my husband, who has always been on board, who has been supportive of me in every way from the moment we met. Now that we knew home birth was tangible, it was time to discuss it with him.
“We can do whatever you want,” were my husband’s words once the documentary was over and we talked a little bit more about our options.
(Options! Prior to becoming pregnant, we didn’t even know that there were OPTIONS!)
We met Jen for our first appointment, a no strings attached visit to get to know each other. I had a list of questions, mostly ones I found after Google searching “Interview Questions for Your Midwife.” I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I didn’t even need them.
Within minutes, we felt welcomed and important. Our baby was talked to and given attention. Any question that I had written on that piece of paper was answered, most without us even having to ask. She used our hands to show us our baby’s position, something I had never even really thought of trying to do before.
Jen would visit in our home for each appointment. It was nice to have her company, to learn something new each visit. I would lose track of the time we spent together. I never felt rushed or pressured. Each visit felt whole and complete as she would leave and I knew that if something did come up after, I could always call.
In the midst of all of this, I stumbled upon the Hypnobabies course. My husband and I attended classes week after week and I listened to my tracks as prescribed daily (some multiple times a day). Jen was on board with my utilizing hypnosis for pain management from the first time I mentioned it to her, something I am sure I would have struggled with explaining to certain hospital staff.
Our 37-week prep visit was fun.
We were really starting to realize that our baby was on his way. The birth pool was set up, the birth kit was organized, everything was ready.
Jen explained the usual process and each of our parts in it. We understood that every birth and baby is different and that the hardest part sometimes is surrendering.
The time was here. All the daily dedication was about to be put to the test and our sweet little dream was going to be here soon. Probiotics, daily supplements, better diet, cloth diapers, delayed cord clamping, doulas, hypnosis, vaccinations, breastfeeding, co-sleeping – it was as if I learned more in four months than I ever did in all my years of schooling and I was as prepared as I could ever be.
Dedication. Perseverance. Genuine and strong support team.
I woke up with cramping around 1am. Thirteen hours later, our baby boy joined us on the outside through a beautiful water birth.
What I remember most was my husband being with me outside in our yard, anchoring me through each pressure wave. It was a really beautiful day and being barefoot in the grass was just what I needed.
My Hypnobabies tracks played and I was focused the whole way through. Jen was there when I needed her, otherwise, she let us be.
When you are in the thick of it, there comes a time when you are face to face with such a powerful force, something so strong, something that is not able to be fought. When that moment comes, when you want to give up, you need someone there who can assure you that you WILL make it to the finish line. Someone who has the knowledge and experience to present options that will assist you through your birthing time. Someone who will remind you at those postpartum visits that the force you were up against, that power that you tried to fight, was you. Has always been and will always be you. That with or without her, delivering your baby is your job and can be done only by you.
A genuine and strong support team.
That advice, that wisdom, really came into play for us on April 2, 2017 when our daughter was born. Bound and determined, our little girl made her way into this world by way of a less than two-hour precipitous birth.
When I realized just what was happening that day, my husband and I understood that we were going to have to do this on our own and that we had to do everything Jen talked with us about at our prep visit.
As she and MeriBeth walked with us through these moments over the phone (as they were on their way to us) I felt reassured and a sense of calm. I knew that no one could have my baby for me and that it was time to really get to work.
Thankfully, my sister arrived quickly, giving me an extra set of hands and the best impromptu team of birth partners I could have ever asked for. Both she and my husband did everything they could, everything they were supposed to do, everything we were prepared to do, as this baby was born.
As soon as Jen and MeriBeth arrived, I felt relief and pride, empowered, fulfilled. I’ll never forget the way my daughter and I were nested comfortably up against the wall in our bedroom, with her nursing so feverishly, so well, eyes wide open, cord still attached to the birthed and amazingly beautiful placenta sitting with us on the floor, as Jen and MeriBeth entered the room.
I was assisted into the shower and placed into bed with a snack while Daddy and baby enjoyed more skin to skin time. 8lbs 6oz. All other measurements the same as our son, exactly. Baby, Mama and Dada doing well. We snuggled into bed and woke up the next morning, with a new baby in between us and an amazing new experience to share.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new." -Osho
c. 1300, "woman assisting," literally "woman who is 'with' " (the mother at birth), from Middle English mid "with" (see mid) + wif "woman" (see wife). Cognate with German Beifrau.
(source: Online Etymology Dictionary)