Michelle and Kelsyn

What stands out the most to me when thinking about the birth of my second baby Kelsyn River, was how incredibly supported I was through it all.  I believe it was in large part due to these feelings of support that my birth went as smoothly as it did.  I remember struggling with some doubts and feelings of pressure in the weeks before hand about my ability to birth this baby naturally and at home.  Corina and Anjali were so in tune with this and in the most open and nonjudgmental way, helped me to process what I was struggling with.

Having earned my degree in family therapy and understanding the extensiveness of training necessary to be a good counselor, I am always amazed by the integration of so many skills my midwives possess.  In addition to the extensive knowledge they have about the human body, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, and the practical knowledge of insurance and billing, lab tests, and ethical issues, there is the  understanding and respect they must possess for multiple cultures, their counseling ability and warm people skills, all of which seemed to come so effortlessly for Anjali.

The day I went into labor, I was determined not to stop everything (like I did during my first labor) but to continue with my daily activities as I had been advised in my Birthing From Within class.  I went grocery shopping during which I remember speaking to Anjali about the timing of my contractions.  I took my eldest son to the park and hung out with our friends who were amazed I was having contractions right then and there.  Anjali called while I was there for updates.

It wasn’t until after I let my son go over to my mom’s house around 6pm that I felt I could start focusing on my labor.  At that point I figured I had a long night and possibly a whole other day of laboring ahead of me.  As it turns out, it wasn’t long before I felt labor was progressing enough that I wanted to get in the water.  I ate some curry and then got in the birthing tub.  The water felt amazing!  Sometime around 8:30 or so my husband called Anjali to let her know it might be time for her to come.

I remember Anjali came in very calmly and right away I asked her if she could check me.  I figured I would maybe be 3 or 4 cm.  She said something about a bulging bag that I didn’t really understand but I immediately felt the need to push.  I asked if this was ok and she said yes.  I pushed once and my water broke, then again and I think it was on the third push that I could feel the baby’s head pop out.  It was incredible how quickly it was all happening….on the next push at 9:46pm I was pulling my baby up through the water and into my arms, surrounded by my loving family and midwives.  Somewhere in there my 5 year old son came over and hopped into the tub with us.  He looked at the baby and looked at me and said…”Is this a dream? Do I really have a baby brother?”  We were all in such awe at this precious new life and were in our own little bubble of happiness and wonder.

In the days to follow, I dealt with the stress of intense after pains, difficulty with nursing and my baby’s very painful latch and to top it all off, jaundice. Sheila was in constant touch with me about how the nursing was progressing and one time coordinated with Anjali to pick up a rare kind of gel pads from somewhere down south.  I was happily surprised to see Anjali at my door when I needed them most.

Our pediatrician was very concerned about the jaundice and wanted us to check into the hospital.  This was very stressful to think about.  After having the perfect home water birth we were hoping for, we did not want our baby to be away from us in the hospital.  Anjali helped to assure my husband and me that this was not the only option and that there were actually bilirubin blankets that could be rented and utilized in the comfort of one’s own home.  Once we got the pediatrician to agree to this, they tried to get a blanket to us but without luck. I remember one very long night of phone calls back and forth with the doctor and the company that rented out the blankets.  In the end, when it seemed we were never going to get one of these blankets and our babies bilirubin levels were increasing, Anjali, came through and got one to us.  She also insisted that I needed to be resting and not driving to the doctor’s office twice a day to get Kelsyn’s bilirubin levels checked.  She came out to the home and took his blood to save us the trips to the doctor.  Thinking about it today over a year later makes me teary as I remember how loved and supported and cared for I felt.

Having a baby is perhaps the most life changing  and memorable experience a woman can have…having a baby with a midwife goes beyond that because it was not just about the moment I had my little one in my arms for the first time (although that was the most wonderful thing in the world) but it was about the strength I felt in being a pregnant mama and holding this growing life inside of me, and the journey and power I felt during labor, and the validation and empowerment  which my midwives helped me to feel, and the respect and love my entire family experienced in the care we received following the birth and that we continue to feel even now any time we run into one of our wonderful midwives.