Christina's Birth Story
“Let choice whisper in your ear and love murmur in your heart. Be ready. Here comes life."—Maya Angelou
Choosing The Midwife Center
When I envisioned giving birth to my first, I was filled with hopeful expectations. The expectations of choice, support, and safety. These hopes and expectations were shattered in the hospital. I became filled with doubt. Doubt in my ability as a woman to birth my children, and doubt in the whole process of bringing life into this world. My first birth was filled with unwanted interventions, including an induction with Pitocin, having my water broken, an epidural at almost 8 cm and a vacuum-assisted delivery after three hours of “purple pushing” on my back. It took me three years after the birth of my first son to even think about having a second. Even then, I felt anxious and panicked, reliving my sons birth. I sought out therapy and worked for six months on coming to terms with what happened. I didn’t want to dash my dreams of having more than one. I was told I was suffering from birth trauma and postpartum depression. Thankfully, I was able to move past those fears and soon became pregnant with my second. But, I knew I needed to make changes. I had heard of The Midwife Center through many women who each touted their experience there as one of positivity and empowerment. I was a bit hesitant at the thought of birthing outside of a hospital. I was taught birth is a medical experience, and at times, one to be feared. At the orientation I attended at TMC, birth was viewed as a normal, natural process. It is an experience in which women transcend into the next chapter of their lives. Motherhood. It was a celebration, and not an event to be feared. When my husband and I got back into our car, I pulled the door shut and cried. I cried over the realization that my first birth was nowhere near the experiences they described, and it made me want it even more.
My first prenatal appointment was an hour long. It was incredibly thorough, encouraging, and reaffirmed my decision to birth outside of the hospital. All of the midwives that I met during my appointments were beyond knowledgeable, kind, and patient. Even though this was my second child, it was to be my first outside of a hospital setting and I was armed with questions. It was also the middle of the pandemic, and yet, I never felt alone going to appointments by myself. I always felt supported. I never left an appointment feeling rushed or dismissed as I had so many times during my first pregnancy. As I reached the midway point of my pregnancy, I started to feel anxiety again. This time, surrounding the fact that I was actually going to deliver another baby. I sought out therapy again, this time with Jul, who works at TMC. She helped me overcome my fears, and unresolved issues I was still dealing with from my first birth experience. I can’t thank her enough. I had several sessions with her and decided to save the last ones for postpartum. I neared my due date and read and watched as many positive birth stories as I could get my hands on. I focused on breathing, did some meditation, and envisioned the birth experience I wanted in the weeks to come. I always had a fear that I would be unable to birth at the center due to a complication, and I worked hard to get myself there.
Soon, the week of my due date approached. I was having a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions, but I had them since week 20. Yes, they had become increasingly longer and stronger at times, but never emerged into a pattern. On my actual due date, I had my 40 week prenatal appointment with Ann (midwife). I asked her to check my dilation. I was at 2 cm. I knew from my previous birth that this didn’t necessarily mean anything and I could still have days to go. In the early morning hours of that Friday (two days later) I woke up and felt Braxton- Hicks contractions. They were very strong, and even though a few came together they would gradually go away for 25-45 minutes. As the day wore on, they became stronger and longer, but again, would go away. I went on a walk with my son and husband around lunchtime and I remember telling my husband that they seemed to be coming more frequently. But, by the time I got home, they got better. This continued into the early evening. Just after 9 p.m. I went to the bathroom and noticed some blood in my underwear. I wiped and there was more blood on the tissue. I figured this was my bloody show, but I paged the midwife on call since I didn’t have this the first time. Nia (midwife) assured me that this was in fact my bloody show, and told me to get some rest as she might see me later that night. I felt a calm excitement come over me as I got ready for bed. I was mentally and physically prepared to do this birth my way. All natural. During this time, my contractions were all over the place, so I didn’t feel the need to time them. Just before 11 p.m. I crawled into bed, turned onto my side and tried to sleep. Immediately I felt a contraction. Then I felt another, and another. I couldn’t get comfortable so I grabbed my phone and started timing them. They were coming 4-5 minutes apart. I got out of bed onto all fours and rocked back and forth into child’s pose. After 45 minutes I woke up my husband and my son. I knew it was time. I called my parents to come over to babysit. I then called Nia (midwife) back and when I told her I lived about 40 minutes away she told me to come in. As I packed last minute items, and paused for contractions, I called my doula, Shannon, to let her know I was in labor. My birth team was ready. It felt like an eternity waiting for my parents to arrive. I greeted them on the floor of my living room, again on all fours, as this felt like the most comfortable position to be in during contractions. I hugged them both for the first time since March due to the pandemic, and we all got emotional. I hugged my son, my last time hugging him as my only child. It was a powerful moment for me, one in which I felt strength, hope, and sadness. I would be bringing his sibling into the world very shortly. It would no longer just be “us.” I climbed into the backseat of our car and my husband sped off into the night. I couldn’t sit, or even wear a seatbelt with the pain. I started concentrating on the reflection of street lights on the black pavement, the sound of cars whizzing by, and my breath, which was steady and strong.
Arriving at TMC
The car ride felt a lot longer than it actually was and we arrived at TMC around 1:00 a.m. I was greeted by Nia (midwife) and Carly (nurse). Nia was the only midwife I had not had an opportunity to meet during a prenatal visit, but I immediately felt at ease. From the moment I walked in and was taken back to the Mountain room I relaxed. I made it. I was about to give birth in the place that supported me these last nine months. My vitals were taken, and Nia asked if she could check me. I was at 6 cm. I felt a great sense of encouragement. She asked if I wanted to get in the birthing tub and I enthusiastically said “yes.” The birthing tub was an incredible tool for the pain I was feeling from contractions. Carly continued to intermittently monitor the baby through the Doppler, and I didn’t even need to get out of the tub for her to do it. I was amazed at how “normal” I felt in between contractions. Without any interventions, my body was doing exactly as it was made to do. I wasn’t aware of the time, I just remember Nia asking me if I felt pressure in my rectum or back during my contractions. I was gradually feeling that familiar pressure and at one point, watching my face, she said I should get out and she helped me head over to the bed.
They set up a soft birthing stool covered with a sheet that I leaned over. Nia asked to check me and she said I was at 9 cm, almost 10. Carly and Shannon helped to counteract the pain and pressure with hip squeezes. My contractions were much more painful, and closer together. I remember Nia saying I could start to bear down if I wanted to. I either thought this or said it out loud, but I wasn’t ready. But, soon I felt my body wanting to push. I didn’t say a word, but Nia knew to get me into the side-lying position for birth. I suddenly became afraid to push, as I remembered my first labor and delivery. I never mentioned it, but I had to mentally get out of that head space to let go and bring my baby earth-side. Nia told me to take a breath and bear down. The entire time she supported my perineum. I started to push and I realized once I started, I couldn’t stop with each contraction. Nia helped to let me know when to pant to let my perineum stretch and then when to push again. I felt the ring of fire and my husband recalls me saying I wanted to be done. I received nothing but encouragement from everyone in the room, and was told that I was in fact almost done. Then, I felt the pain dissipate with my baby’s body sliding out. I immediately felt a wave of relief, excitement and joy. Nia placed the baby on my stomach and I saw that it was a boy. I didn’t want to find out ahead of time what it was, as I viewed it as the only real surprise in life. He was perfect. My son was on me undisturbed for an hour. All vitals were taken while he was on top of me, and I delivered the placenta and was stitched up while I held him. He breastfed and I got to enjoy those early precious moments with him. After the “golden hour” Nia did the initial newborn assessment and I attempted to urinate and get a pad on. Soon, they handed him back to me. My husband thanked them, and I echoed his sentiments. I started to cry and thanked them for my healing birth. A new shift started and Renee (nurse) took over our care in the morning. She was kind and extremely informative as she went over paperwork before we left. Before long we were on our way home and arrived before lunch.
The entire experience was surreal. I achieved my completely natural birth. It was as if Nia and Carly memorized my birth plan, explaining things along the way and working to give me what I wanted. Nia knew just by looking at me what stage of labor I was in. Her intuition and knowledge of birth was beyond impressive, and I can never thank her enough for the gift she gave me. She made me believe in myself as a woman, a mother, and a person. I felt capable, strong, and supported. I can’t thank her, or the staff at TMC enough for helping me achieve this dream. I will never forget this incredible experience. It is one that every woman should have during the birth of their baby, and I am forever grateful that this is now the memory I carry of mine.