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A Story Too Good Not To Share


So at the end of last year, the midwife I work with, Diane, and I began seeing this amazing young couple, who I’ll call Annette and Mark to preserve their privacy.  They are so friendly and creative and thoughtful, we knew right off the bat that they would be perfect candidates for an out of hospital birth.  We clicked so well with them, and they were so interested in learning all they could about the birth process, how Mark could support Annette during labor, and the different testing available for expecting mothers.  We were overjoyed to work with such a curious, fun couple.  Then, their insurance didn’t jive with our practice, and we had to say goodbye to them at about six months into the pregnancy.  Diane and I were both very worried for what their hospital experience would be like, and kept Annette and Mark in our thoughts for the next four months.  

Well, on June 25th, Diane got a call from the very pregnant Annette asking her to attend her birth, after her doctor discontinued care because the couple didn’t want one of the tests he recommended.  The best part?  Her labor had already begun!  Diane told Annette to get some rest, then call when things got more intense.  The next morning, she got the couple situated at the center, and then called me with the news.

At 11 a.m., Diane and I arrived to check mom’s progress and see where we were at.  Annette was going back and forth between the tub, the bed, and the birth stool, and having much more intense contractions.  When Diane checked her, Annette was complete!  We were both surprised, since she hadn’t seemed to be progressing that quickly earlier in the morning.  

It was at this point that Diane asked me if I would like to receive the baby.  My first.  I could not stop smiling as I agreed.  I couldn’t have asked for a couple I felt more connected to than them!

For the next few hours, Annette worked through her labor.  She found a position that was really feeling good to her, sitting on her heels on the bed leaning forward onto a birth ball, and stuck with that for about two hours.  Mark was such a great support to her, constantly reassuring her and applying counterpressure when her lower back started to hurt during the contractions.  I specifically remember Annette murmuring “You’re so good at that” as he massaged her.  It was magical watching the two of them work together to bring their baby into the world.

We weren’t surprised that Annette’s labor went a little slower after she was fully dilated, and we really didn’t want to rush it.  It was so important to this couple that they be allowed to really figure out the process themselves.  Annette didn’t sleep much in the 72 hours leading up to birth, so we were very happy to see her resting during abnormally long breaks between contractions in the last hours before the baby was born.  We continued monitoring the vitals of mom and baby, and let them go at their own pace.

At around 2:30, the contractions became more intense again.  This time, Annete was really ready to get down to business.  She had expressed concern about not knowing how to push, so we made sure to tell her after her first one that she was doing it exactly right.  We could literally see the baby move and work with the contractions, since Annete is so trim and strong.  About an hour later, we started to see hair, and I was in charge of making sure her perineum didn’t tear.

At 4:12 p.m., the baby was born!  My very first catch.  I will never forget the feeling of that baby spinning into my hands, seeing Annette’s face light up, and Mark’s smile and obvious immediate love for the baby.  It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced, and will always remember this special family.

Annette and Mark didn’t find out the sex beforehand, and we didn’t get a great look before wrapping the baby up, so we thought it was a boy just from first glance.  We were calling it a him and talking about the name they were going to give him.  Then, an hour after birth, we unwrapped him to weigh him and lo and behold, it was actually a girl!!  Such a surprise to everyone, and really an accomplishment for the mom and dad because they had lots of boys in each of their respective families.  Annette had actually expressed remorse at first that she wouldn’t get to dress the little boy in this one really adorable outfit she had seen in a magazine, so having the baby actually be a little girl was huge for them.

I learned a lot during this birth.  I got to learn how to prevent tearing in practice, rather than just in theory.  I helped deliver the placenta, and helped monitor mom’s blood loss after the birth.  Most of all, I got to experience a new part of this amazing career I have been called to.  I couldn’t have imagined making this transition in a more beautiful and wonderful way.  Thank you to the family for including Diane and I in your experience, thank you to Diane for having confidence in me to catch this baby, and many more after this, and thank you to my parents for helping support me through my training.  I am so blessed.  I couldn’t be more in love with my job!!

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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Happy 2013! Here’s to new beginnings!


Well, looks like I’ve gone and left the blog unattended again!  So sorry about that, everyone.  Life has been amazing and busy since my last post.  Between prenatals, the holidays, starting my classes, and two births on the day after Christmas (!), I haven’t had any time to write things down!  I began my classes at the Midwive’s College of Utah yesterday, and am so excited to be learning more every day about pregnancy, birth, and babies.

On December 26, 2012, I woke up in Tucson to a phone call from Diane down in Bisbee telling me to get my tush back down there because both Alyssa and Teresa were in labor!  What a welcome and surprising Christmas present, since Teresa wasn’t due for another couple days and Alyssa a couple weeks!  Alyssa was the first to have her baby, at around 3:00 pm.  A little girl named Talia, born at home in the water.  Alyssa was in such a great labor daze, completely oblivious to everything but her baby and her birth.  Right after little Talia was out, I rushed over to the Birth Center to check on Teresa, who was about 5 cm dilated at the time, and spent the afternoon and evening with her as she worked to bring a little boy, Rafael, into the world.  She was such a fabulous pusher, bearing down effectively with every push.  Awesome to see.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

Teresa and little Rafael enjoy some bonding time after the birth.

It was so enlightening to see two births in one day.  It really allowed me to see how different two labors can be.  Where Alyssa just squeezed our hands, Teresa used her husband and myself to pull herself up and engage her entire body with each contraction.  Where Teresa didn’t particularly care for being in the water, Alyssa reveled in it.

Now we are waiting on another three moms who are due this month and could go into labor at any moment!  I’m gaining so much knowledge and experience with every birth, and love this profession more and more every day.  My New Year’s Resolution?  Help as many moms as I can to have happy, healthy, informed births in the coming year.  Cheers!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Births, My Story

 

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The Birth of Stephanie Michelle


Tonight, Gentle Birth Services was blessed with another healthy baby!  Minerva had her last prenatal exam on November 19th at 9:00am, and she was due the next day.  We went ahead and gave her Diane’s homeopathic labor stimulation formula (you can get it here, it is extremely effective!) to get things moving along, and less than twelve hours after her prenatal ended, she was back and having contractions.  Diane encouraged her to get some rest, and Minerva slept through the night and labored gently throughout the morning and early afternoon.  Here’s how the rest of the day progressed:

3:15 pm: I arrived early for the 4:00 prenatal Diane & I had scheduled, and got settled in for the afternoon.  Minerva was walking around and the contractions were starting to become more regular and closer together.  She then tried squatting on the birth stool, which must have felt wonderful because she ended up spending most of the afternoon on it!  Diane arrived soon after, and proceeded to check the progress of the labor.  She found that Minerva was already 6 centimeters dilated!  After this, we had our prenatal with our other expectant mother, then both went home to eat dinner and let Minerva relax.

5:30 pm: I arrive back at the birth center, where Minerva has begun to experience intense back labor.  I show her a few comfort measures, including this great version of a double hip squeeze which uses a scarf.  You stand in front of the laboring mother, wrap the scarf around her hipbones, cross it in front, and pull back and apart.  Check out this great video showing how it’s done.

7:10 pm: Diane arrived back at the birth center just as Minerva was beginning to feel labor intensify, and we checked her again.  Diane found her to be 8 centimeters dilated, and Diane gave Minerva belladonna, a homeopathic remedy which helps make the transition portion of labor easier on mom.  Pretty soon after this, we filled up the tub and let Minerva relax in there for a while.  After 30 minutes or so, we made a ginger tea and added it to the water to help mom be less likely to tear.

8:20 pm: Minerva was still experiencing back labor, and I was trying some other comfort measures.  We got her on her knees leaning her elbows on the side of the tub for a while, a position which helps take that pressure off the back.  Soon after, Minerva commented that she believed her water had broken, and Diane thought it might be true but couldn’t be sure.

9:00 pm: Minerva tired of the tub, and needed to use the restroom.  She was becoming weak, and I helped support her as she walked.  Afterwards, Diane checked her again and found that her water had not broken, as Minerva had thought. Minerva decided to stay in bed and Diane and I went to take a rest in the other room.

11:00 pm: Minerva hadn’t made much progress and her contractions seemed to be weakening and spacing further apart.  Because we were worried that Minerva would lose her strength, Diane suggested she could take some Tylenol PM and try to sleep and regain her strength.  Minerva wanted to continue laboring, though, and right afterwards her water broke!  So at 11:10 pm, she began to push.  Between pushes, I applied washcloths soaked in the ginger tea to her opening to prevent tearing.

November 21st

12:00 am: Pushing didn’t seem to be making things progress the way we expected, and Diane and I could tell that Minerva was losing her strength rapidly.  But thankfully, Minerva’s contractions become more powerful and effective soon after this.  She was experiencing a lot of pain at this point, and grasped my arm very tightly with each push.

12:15 am: Stephanie Michelle is born!  She poops almost immediately, all over poor Minerva’s leg, but is so cute it doesn’t matter.  She weighs 6 pounds, 7 ounces, and has a full head of thick, dark hair.  With the birth, all of Minerva’s water from the bag of waters gushes out – there is a ton of it!  The placenta follows quickly, and we get mom and baby cleaned up and tucked into bed. Everyone, especially Minerva, is exhausted, and Diane and I head home ourselves after checking to make sure her uterus is contracting as it should.

Minerva and Stephanie bond soon after birth.

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Births

 

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The Lion Effect


Extremely insightful look at the effects of fear and other emotions on active labor.

Mumanu: the new way to sleep

Humans, like any other animal who is preyed on, are sensitive to certain stimuli getting their adrenalin levels rising ready to fight or run and sometimes to freeze. I call this ‘The Lion Effect’; when in times of stress or perceived stress a person will get themselves ready for danger to protect themselves or their young for survival.

Not that long ago, in terms of natural history, us westerners were living in caves as tribes. There are many human populations who still live this way where medical care is scarce and the danger of being killed by wild animals or people from other tribes is a reality. The ability to respond to perceived danger is vital and we have, along with other animals, developed a way to respond that means we don’t have to think too much about it; it’s automatic.

Our modern day, western society hasn’t actually changed this…

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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Interesting tidbits, Perspectives

 

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The Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

The Home Birth of Jacob Daniel

Jacob Daniel meets mom Lynise, Dad Dan, and Sister Ashleigh for the first time.

On November 15, I was planning on having a nice, relaxing day, maybe reading a book, watching a movie. But a little baby had another thing in mind. While I was sleeping early that morning, Lynise began having contractions. By 8 am, she knew it was time to get in touch with Diane and I. I arrived at Lynise’s house at 10:30, and she was up and around, having contractions approximately every 3-6 minutes. They were pretty mild, and when checked was only 3 cm dilated. So we knew we had some time. We kept checking the baby’s heart rate every hour (I got to do it a couple times myself!), and at 2:30 she had opened up to 6cm. Things were progressing very nicely.

As the afternoon passed, Lynise’s contractions began getting stronger, and though Diane and I thought she might give birth before nightfall, the sun set and she was still not fully dilated, but getting closer at 8 cm. So we went ahead and filled up the tub and Lynise climbed on in. After relaxing for about an hour, Lynise was pretty much completely dilated, except for a small cervical lip, and her contractions began to get more intense. Her husband, Dan, got involved, employing some massage techniques and being very supportive (way to go Dad!), and after a few more contractions the baby began descending. She really concentrated, and even at the end her contractions were pretty short. At one point, Lynise thought she may have torn, but luckily hadn’t. At 7:38 pm, Jacob was born! He actually did this really interesting turn mid-birth, after his head was already out, flipping from face down to face up.

Jacob was born in the water, and immediately put on mom’s chest to bond and relax. Dad and young sister Ashleigh were enthralled by the new 6 pound, 14 ounce addition to their family, although Ashleigh was a little miffed that everyone was paying attention to Jacob and not her! After that, the placenta was born smoothly and intact and Jacob was introduced to his grandparents, and soon Diane and I were ready to pack up and leave mom and dad with their little ones.

I was in a total state of euphoria at this point. Jacob’s birth was my very first home birth and it was just a beautiful and relaxed as I imagined it would be. Even though I slept poorly the night before, I couldn’t imagine being tired after such an overwhelming and wonderful experience. Apparently baby Jacob felt the same way, because when we went back the next morning for the one day checkup, mom and Jacob hadn’t gotten much rest. It was then that we measured him (19 inches!), administered Vitamin K, and checked to make sure he was fully developed and healthy, which he of course was.

We just went back again today to see mom and Jacob, and I have to say he is so cute! I don’t have pictures yet, but I’ll be getting some from Diane soon! I’m more excited than ever to be pursuing this path, and can’t wait for the next birth! We have another mom due tomorrow, so we could be called at any moment. Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later!

UPDATE: Picture has been added to this post!

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Births, My Story

 

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I’m Curious…


 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Journey Officially Begins


First of all, I need to apologize for the spottiness of this blog over the past year.  I should have kept up with it better, but I have to admit, most of the past year I’ve felt like I wasn’t making much progress towards my goals.  It was difficult for me to motivate myself to write when I felt like I was treading water.  Luckily, that time is now over.  I am elated to announce that I have not only found a midwife to apprentice with who is talented and awesome, but I have also officially begun my apprenticeship!  I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere, learning and doing what I need to to realize my dreams.  It’s all very exciting!

I’ve been trying to find a midwife who I would like to apprentice to for months now.  It’s very important when committing to a preceptor that you find someone who you get along with very well, since you will be shadowing them and learning from them for years.  I have been picky.  I was actually ready to move to Los Angeles and try to find someone there because of how disenchanted I was with the midwives in Tucson. Then, fate stepped in and I, by random chance, got in touch with Diane Gregg, the “goddess of Bisbee”, who has been attending births for 35 years!  She began her career in a very different way than I am, as a Labor & Delivery nurse in a hospital.  There, she was involves in around 2000 births, but realized that she would be happier as a midwife in her own practice,  So, she became certified as a midwife in Arizona in 1987, and has since been the primary midwife at about 600 births.  She’s also into homeopathy, which I find to be fascinating, and uses it with her clients every day.

After I found Diane, I commuted between Tucson and Bisbee a lot.  It’s a 2 hour drive, though, and so i began searching for a place to rent down here.  A week and a half ago, I moved into a house in the Warren neighborhood of Bisbee, and adjusting has been difficult.  I love the birth center, and actually got to attend a home birth on the 15th (I’ll be dedicating a post to that later), but it’s kind of lonely here.  I don’t really know anyone, and while I’ve met a bunch of people, it’s weird being away from my parents and my close friends.  I accidentally locked myself out of my house a couple nights ago, and I had a moment of panic when I realized there was no one I could call for help.  Luckily, I had left the window in the kitchen open, and with some maneuvering was able to get back inside.  I hid my spare key right after that.

Not having someone to turn to that night was really scary, but it made me feel so independent to be able to solve the problem on my own.  While the new found feeling of self-sufficiency is great, it doesn’t help with the lonely factor, however.  So I’ve been working hard at making new friends and settling into the Bisbee lifestyle.  There’s this great live music venue here, the Bisbee Royale, and I’ve been able to attend three concerts there already.  There, I met the Bisbee belly dance tribe, which led to me joining them.  I’ve also been turning to dating sites to help me meet people in the area who I can hang out with – who knew dating sites were also a great place to find friends?

I’m so excited to finally be on my path to midwifery, and can’t wait to share more of my experiences here in Bisbee with you all.  Keep an eye out for the post I’ll be doing tomorrow or Tuesday about Lynise’s home birth!  It was perfect and amazing.  Here’s to a new chapter in the story of my life!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in My Story

 

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