A Beautiful Birth
Growing up, I always enjoyed sharing my own birth story. I love that I was born at home on Thanksgiving night in the company of my siblings, parents, and with the help of midwives. And, of course I adored the little extra detail that it had snowed the night I was born for the very first time that winter. 11 years later, my younger brother Miles was born under the same roof at our family home. All the same people were present. Including the midwife that caught me, Laurie Braunstein. I remember my mother powering through the painful contractions. I remember how strong and brave she had been and how much strength and support Laurie provided her. After Miles was born, my sister and I assisted in cutting the lifeline that connects mother and baby, his umbilical cord, just as my older brother had severed my years before. It had been a beautiful birth. Because of this experience, I grew up not fearing giving birth. I didn’t dread the pain or the long process. I also knew that I wanted to seek the aid of a midwife if and when the time came for me to birth a child.
In January 2016, my partner and I learned that we were expecting. I joyfully discovered that Laurie Braunstein was still in the valley working out of the Wenatchee Midwife Service and Childbirth Center. Although she was no longer actively attending births, she had an amazing team of ladies working with her. For the next 9 months, I had monthly visits with the ladies at the birthing center alternating midwives so we could all form connections and become comfortable with one another. These ladies became like family, making me feel so at ease I felt I could share anything with them. At every visit we would talk about how I was feeling, answer any questions I may have, listen to the baby’s heart beat and further get to know one another. With this being my first child, I lacked the courage to have a home birth. Instead, I chose to welcome my little one into this world at the birthing center.
The Wenatchee birthing center is a beautiful place that gives off a homey feel. I immediately felt comfortable the first time I toured it. It housed a large tub and a pleasant bed to labor in. Included in the space is a kitchenette and a pull out hide a bed for loved ones. More than anything I wanted to welcome my child in this space with these people. After 39 long weeks, the time finally came.
On the morning of September 18th we arrived at the birthing center. I had spent about 24 hrs, at home, in early labor periodically calling the on call midwife, Danelle, to keep her up to date on what was happening. When my contractions reached the magical sequence 5-1-1 (5 mintues apart 1 min long for a solid 1 hour) we loaded up the car and made the 45 minute journey to Wenatchee. When we arrived at the birthing center, I remember feeling extremely emotional. I had toured the center on my first visit with the midwives and now here I was at the end of my journey. My experience was coming full circle and it was a surreal feeling. After settling into the birthing center, I was checked to see how far along I was. The exam showed I was 2 centimeters dialated. I expected to be a little further along than that but I knew that the process was going to be long, especially with this being my first child. And long it was. For the next 16 hrs. I watched as the clock spun in circles. In the tub, out of the tub, walking around, using the stairs, I constantly tried to remain active. My birth team pampered me like a queen, hand feeding me snacks and offereing water. At times, my mind would wonder and my breathing would get off balance. In these moments, my eyes would find those of my midwife’s Danelle and she would help me get back on track. I remember struggling through the painful contractions by saying “ow, ow, ow”. The midwife in training, Krissy, knelt beside me and said with a soft, sweet voice, “I know the contractions are painful but maybe we should find a different word to use other than ow”. With a surprised, desperate look on my face I asked her what she recommended. She calmly said, “some ladies find exhaling with a deep ‘hmmm’ helpful”. So, I took those words of advice and ran with them. With every contraction I hummed low and deep and created a rhythm that worked for my baby and I. It felt as though I was singing my little one into the world.
Finally the time had come to push. While I lay on the bed with my midwife in front, my mother on my right, my partner on my left, my sister and Krissy documenting the experience from above, I discovered I had created a symmetrical birth team that offered all the support and love I needed to conquer the trials of labor and delivery. After a mere 45 mins of pushing, at 8:48 pm, we welcomed a beautiful baby into the world. We had waited to find out the gender and after Danelle placed my child on my chest, I placed my hand beneath the butt to support the baby. Feeling a large bulge in my palm, I announced to everyone “I feel balls”. Weighing in at 8 lbs 2 oz and measuring 21 1/4 inches long. I had a healthy little boy. For the next 5 hrs, we stayed gathered at the birthing center enjoying the new arrival. We took photos, laughed, joked, and had arts and crafts time making placenta prints.
On the morning of September 19th, before the suns awakening, we headed home with one more member than when we arrived. On the journey home, I remember thinking how I could not believe I had done it! I was astonished my mind and body were capable of that kind of strength. I thought of my support team and knew I could not have done it alone. My birth team was my strength and my backbone throughout the event.
Now, 3 months later, with a healthy little boy nursing from my breast, I feel honored to have had a birthing experience that I enjoyed. I was able to birth my way and without fear. An image of angels is etched into my mind when I think about my midwives. They provided so much love, guidance and support. With their help, I was able to have a beautiful birth.