Rebecca’s Birth Story

We chose to go with Womancare and felt good about the decision immediately because of how personal their care is, but our actual birth was the golden nugget of our experience with them. A smiling midwife came, very early in the morning, wide-eyed and patient to share with us I was only dilated to one centimeter.

After a couple of sincere check-up calls and a day of early labor with my husband, the midwives returned to us at 4pm. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect out of labor. I had seen a couple of films, and the raw cry of a woman in labor put the fear in me, but from 4am-4pm, it was all so manageable.

Then I hit 6cm, and while I am strong, empowered and confident; I became a melted, unformed thing and really needed support. The midwife seemed to know my needs, which were gone from my knowledge, and her simple touch redesigned my fear into safety. She carefully waited for me, patient, supportive and as though a good friend, to find my rhythm. The videos I had seen told me that most women moan, so I moaned. I also went into this whole experience grasping onto mantras “ride the wave,” “let the animal in you take over,” “women have done this for years, this is normal,” and a vision of my purpose (my baby!), none of which came in real handy once I was in the thick of it. But when my husband had to miss one contraction to shove a piece of pizza in his mouth, I found myself dancing, singing and chanting around my room. My experience customized and turned spiritual. While I felt a little silly, my midwives seemed proud of me, not judgmental that I suddenly turned primitive, dancing around an imaginary fire with hundreds of other pregnant women dancing and singing with me. When it came to pushing, the midwives offered suggestions to move this way, push now, hold the baby there, take deep breaths, stop pushing, stay ahead of the pain.

I can’t describe how important a qualified and friendly voice of a midwife sounds when you’re in labor, how incredible it is to be patted when you puke on your midwife and how wonderful to see your group of incredible midwives making sure baby is inside your arms immediately. The Womancare women made my delivery special, beautiful, safe and I love them for giving me the experience I had.

Angus’ Birth Story by Hilary and Pete

When I saw the midwives a few days before Angus was born, I was already overdue and feeling like I would NEVER go into labor. She said, “It’s going to happen. And when it happens, it will probably be quick.” She was right. On our way to a meeting at 5:50, I had a killer contraction. By 6:00, I knew I wasn’t going to the meeting. We were soon back home, and my wonderful husband simultaneously changed sheets, filled our birthing tub, rubbed my back, and timed contractions. Angus was born at 7:19 in the tub, surrounded by his dad, sister, the midwives, and friends.

When you plan a homebirth, everyone says that it’s a brave choice to make. But to me, there’s nothing brave about it. Having our baby at home was the most easy, natural, wonderful thing in the world. After Angus was born, I had a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by friends. The midwives tidied everything up and tucked us into bed. We were able to rest and relax. What a gift! We chose homebirth because we wanted a calm and peaceful pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Because of the midwives, that’s exactly what we had. We are so blessed to have them in our community!

Julie and Mark – with son Miles

From Mark, the Dad:
Our home is filled with life — all 9 lbs. 9 oz. of it (and 22 and 3/8 inches!). Yes, Miles came into this world at 10:11pm Sunday night with the full moon, but filled the room with sunshine. Miles was anxious to get into the world quickly, as Julie only had to push for about an hour (granted, the initial labor began the previous night). The midwives let me catch him as Julie pushed him into the world, and Miles treated me with a deep look into my eyes as I lifted his slippery body to Julie’s belly. He began feeding within the first hour, and has been eating like a true Lancaster boy ever since. I’m still overwhelmed in admiration at Julie’s strength and relaxed composure throughout the entire birth (which happened entirely in our home). She’s recovering well from the athletic event, as Miles and I nurture her with our love.

From Julie, the Mom:
Unreal and magical, yet the most natural thing in the world. As Robin Lim has said, “birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have,” and now I truly understand. I am in awe of our magnificent child, and that he is a physical representation of the love and union that Mark and I share.

Birthing Miles at home was a true blessing, as I was surrounded by an environment of support, the serenity I needed to focus, and the respect for my own personal birthing power. The midwives were strong yet sensitive, patient and kind, professional yet compassionate, positive and encouraging, and I thank them tremendously for helping me with this life altering experience. If you are just about to bring a child into the world, remember that 300,000 women will be giving birth with you today. You can do it!

A Thank You letter to Womancare Midwifery

Thank you so much for helping to make my childbirth an incredible experience. Your constant support, encouragement and empowerment throughout my pregnancy were unfaltering. I feel truly blessed to have been able to share this experience with all of you and to be able to have delivered my son at home.

You have amazing hands with an incredible touch. Your faith in my body was unfaltering and contagious!
Your words of encouragement and support earlier in this pregnancy were crucial. You always believed in me. Thank you!

Love, Genevieve, John, Sage, Adam and Ivan

Kristen’s Story

I birthed my first child in the hospital. It was 53 hours from the time my water broke to the time I held my daughter in my arms. I did it without pain medication, but I really had a hard time. My well-intentioned caregivers tried to impose too many medical interventions and it wasn’t the natural, positive experience we were hoping for.

Before conceiving our second child, we went to meet with the midwives at Womancare Midwifery. Their whole philosophy was much more in line with ours; that birth doesn’t have to be a medical event. All three of them really cheered me on and listened patiently to my concerns.

When I went into labor the second time, it was wonderful.

Only 5 1/2 hours with none of the emotional stress of the first time.

The midwives made us feel safe and empowered. Having our oldest child meet her brother when he was minutes old was a joy beyond words. I’m sure her participation in my prenatal care and their immediate introduction at home has contributed to their closeness. And falling asleep snuggled together in our own bed that night was absolutely blissful. Choosing home birth was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

(Photo: Lucas Iwai in his father’s arms. Photo by Kristen Dacy Iwai)

Dani and Bryan’s Story

Sunday, May 23rd I woke up at exactly 4:20 am with painful contractions. I’d been having painless, yet annoying Braxton Hicks contractions for months but these felt different. I can’t really describe the way they felt because honestly, I’ve forgotten. Try as I may, it’s true that after you give birth you get amnesia. I think it’s nature’s way of assuring that the human race will continue. Anyway, all I remember is that they did indeed hurt. At this point I could still breathe through them just fine though. I started timing them, hoping that this was finally the beginning of my labor. They were coming around every 10 minutes, not close enough to be considered real labor. I was told to call the midwives when they were coming every 5 minutes, lasting a minute each and for more than an hour.

Bryan didn’t have to work so we settled in for a long day. We watched a few movies and went on a walk up at Buffalo Park, hoping that the exercise would help things along. The next morning Bryan and I debated about whether or not he should go to work and in the end decided that he should and that I would call him if things began to pick up. Being the great husband that he is, he called me every hour to see how I was doing and came home to see me during his lunch break. Unfortunately everything was staying the same, but the time alone was good for me. It gave me a chance to work with the contractions- I practiced making different sounds and using breathing techniques to deal with the discomfort.

Later that evening, around 8:00 I noticed that the contractions were finally beginning to come closer together. We started timing them and lo and behold they were coming every 3- 5 minutes and lasting over a minute! We waited hesitantly to see if the progress would continue and at 9:30, shortly after I had my “bloody show” Bryan called the midwives and told them what was going on. The midwives arrived about a half an hour later.

After they arrived things sort of become blurry, but I do remember that as the contractions began to grow in intensity I became more and more relaxed. The midwives filled up the birth tub we had rented, but in the end I don’t remember spending too much time in there. I do remember taking a long shower though. Labor had begun to get really intense and I started to feel tired and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on, so I lay down in the shower and actually took a nap. I stayed in there until the hot water ran out and when I woke up I felt so much better and I had progressed to 8 centimeters. I thought by this point I was already at 10, but she assured me that transition was usually the quickest part. I lay down on the bed and Bryan put in a movie. Kindra began massaging my feet, Emily massaged my legs and Bryan my back and head. This was by far the best part of labor, which is unusual because for most people transition is the most intense part. I went into a total trance though. I was so relaxed that I slept in between contractions, it was great.

By this time the sun was starting to come up. I got checked again and I was at 10 centimeters but I didn’t feel any urge to push. I asked what I could do to get things going and the midwives recommended walking around and squatting. This is where the birth tub actually came in handy because squatting “on land” was quite painful, yet it was tolerable in the water. So I spent some time in the tub squatting and finally felt a few urges to push. I got out and lay back down on the bed on my side, which was much more comfortable.

Ok, here’s where things started getting hairy. Up until then the contractions, although painful, were totally manageable. I don’t consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, so trust me, if I can do it, anyone can, but the pushing part was a whole other story. It scared me, literally scared the crap out of me. To say it was intense is an understatement. All of the sudden the need to push became totally overwhelming, but at the same time totally terrifying because lets face it, it hurt like hell. It took me a little while to figure out how to work with the enormous amount of energy and pressure. I’m not going to lie, with those last few pushes I screamed like a banshee and wanted to give up. I finally understood why so many women get epidurals. It was the only time during the last 52 hours of labor that I didn’t think I could do it. But then my wonderful midwives assured me that I could do it, that I was doing great and that it was almost over. Thank God they weren’t lying because after two more pushes and experiencing the infamous “ring of fire” our son was finally born at 9:02 am on Tuesday, May 25th. The midwives quickly put him on my belly, all goopy and bloody but I didn’t mind because he was here, he was healthy and the pain had finally ended.

Bryan cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing and about twenty minutes later I delivered the placenta which thankfully didn’t hurt at all. Soon after, I took a much needed shower and Bryan hung out with the baby. A few hours later, after learning how to breastfeed, the midwives left us and we got to spend the day together as a new family, safe and comfortable in the privacy of our own home.

Ina May Gaskin wrote that “women in labor don’t need drugs, they need encouragement and companionship” and I could not agree more. I was lucky to be surrounded by positive, loving and kind people who believed in me and believed in the wisdom and strength of my body. I am immensely grateful for my fantastic midwives and the amazing support of my husband, without whom I probably couldn’t have done it. 53 hours of natural labor was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was absolutely worth it.

Ben’s Birth Story by Lori

Tuesday, October 9… My best friend Cami took me to Fat Man’s Loop to hike…. UP! I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. So, we did… hike, that is. We climbed, and climbed… over the rocks, through the trees… it seemed to never end! Down was almost as challenging, since my big belly made my balance a little off… I had to hang on to tree branches or to Cami so I didn’t slip and fall…but we eventually made it…. We certainly got our exercise and had a little fun, but still no signs of labor…. Yet…

After an evening of playing cards and eating– I think we had some of my mom’s famous bean soup– and good socializing with Cami and mom, the contractions began. I mean, I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions for months now, but these were definitely different. I was in labor, finally! I went to bed and tried to get some rest overnight, but I don’t remember if I really did or not! I know that around 5 am Wednesday, my water broke. The contractions just kept on coming, stronger and stronger. They were close together and pretty consistent from the beginning. I used the birthing ball to sit on and ease some of the pain and open up my pelvis. My mother, Cami, and I spent much of the morning and early afternoon timing the contractions and keeping track of how close they were and how long they lasted….

I got into the bathtub sometime that afternoon or evening, and relaxed for a while. I love the warm, soothing water, but the tub just isn’t too comfortable after sitting in it more than just a few minutes. So, after an hour or so, I got out, and I believe I went straight into the softer, larger birthing pool, set up in my room. It was much more comfy on my tushie than that hard bathtub! It was to be a long night…

I remember focusing deep within myself between contractions. I must have seemed like I was in another universe. I had to keep talking to myself in my head and coaching myself through it. I had prepared for this for a long time. I knew my body knew what it needed to do, and that it was capable of doing it. I trusted that. I knew my baby Ben knew what he had to do… and I think he did, too! He was so calm, and ready to make it happen, as if he’d done it a million times before.
It came to be early in the morning Thursday, and it was finally time to push. I squeezed my mom’s hand hard! She and Cami were on either side of the pool, holding my hands, and helping to support me while I pushed. This is certainly the hardest physical work anyone could ever do! I’ve heard it all my life, and you always hear moms telling their stories… it’s truer than any of us could ever explain! I had chosen not to use any drugs, and wanted to stick with it…and I’m so glad I did. But there comes a time when it seems so intense, you’re not sure it can be done. It can! After laboring all night, all day, and all night again, I was exhausted. I wondered if I was going to even survive! However, the end was in sight… Once he crowned, I reached down to feel his head and I smiled. What an awesome feeling! After all this time, and all that hard work, he was almost here, and I felt like I was actually accomplishing something. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve come this far, I can’t go back, and I have to find the strength to make it through the home stretch. Just keep going, it’ll be over soon, and then I can hold him in my arms finally!”

Finally, at 6:24 am, Thursday, October 11, after over 32 hours of labor, 7 lb Benjamin emerged from within me, out of the water, and onto my chest, looking straight at me. As he was being dried off, I breathed a sigh of relief, and looked at my son for the first time in awe. He was so beautiful, and so amazing. I couldn’t believe that just moments before, he was inside of me and now I was holding my son in my arms. Our journey as one had ended, but our journey as a family had just begun…

I’m so glad I chose to work with Womancare for prenatal care and the birth of my child. They were there for me all the way. Their care is tender and personal. They let me make the choices I wanted for my birth, while guiding me through those decisions with the health of both baby and mom in mind. Thank you Womancare!

Stand and Deliver: Harper Jo’s Birth Story by Cameron

So, around 3:45AM on early Monday morning, I felt it. The first contraction. Oh, I thought. What a coincidence, Owen’s birth story started around 3AM. I’ll just go back to sleep and wake up and get ready for this birth. One problem. I couldn’t sleep. Not because I was anxious but because the contractions were a minute long and every 10 minutes with alarming consistency. I didn’t wake Matt up, but at 6AM I told him, “I’m having contractions,” to which he replied,
“The real ones?” “Yes.”

And so it began. I got up, got dressed and began the day with Owen, Matt and Sarah (Matt’s mom flew into town Sunday night). The contractions this time were a lot more painful and longer and more consistent throughout the morning than my early labor with Owen. I had to stop what I was doing while I was having one just to breathe and focus. I couldn’t be sitting, either, it hurt too much.

I called Womancare Midwifery at 8AM just to let them know that today was likely the day unless things just progressed really, really slow. They reminded me that I should call back when contractions were consistently coming 5 minutes apart or much, much harder and longer. Matt and I went for a walk sometime around 9 and they were coming every 4-5 minutes and a little harder. I called them back at 10AM. They said they would come, set up, check my progress and vitals and we’d go from there.

The midwives showed up at 10:45-11AM and set up all their gear…which took awhile. You see, they carry LOTS of stuff for delivery including oxygen infant resuscitation. As soon as they walked through the door, my contractions slowed down to 10 minutes apart and not as ‘heavy.’ They checked me and I was 4-5cm and 90% effaced. Just before noon, they felt comfortable leaving me so long as I called back if the contractions got harder and closer together. They made the comment they had seen women go from 4cm to 10cm in 20 minutes so don’t be afraid to call. My sister Kate also left and was going to come back around 2PM.

Everything seemed under control. I felt fine. Matt wasn’t even counting my contractions for me at this point. I ate some lunch and went upstairs to read. Gran was hanging out with Owen and putting him down for his noon nap. All was well. I finally called Matt in to start counting the contractions so we’d have a better idea of where I stood with everything. It was about 12:10PM.

OUCH. That one hurt. I started breathing a lot heavier during the contractions, which were now coming about seven minutes apart but much harder.

OUCH. THAT one hurt.

OWWWWWWEEE. That ONE really hurt.

Plus I started getting really annoyed at environmental things… Kaibee, our dog, was “stinking,” I told Matt to get her out of the room and Owen was talking up a storm with Gran, which was distracting and annoying to me. I told Matt to shut the door. I remembered being annoyed at dumb stuff last time when things got serious.

So I labored from about noon-12:45 and told Matt, “Call Kate, call the midwives, we need them back.” I knew it was time to call the midwives when I recognized the “emotional signpost” (Bradley Method) of doubt/self-doubt. I was thinking secretly to myself,

“WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING ANOTHER HOME BIRTH?” “I CANNOT DO THIS AGAIN!”

The midwives arrived shortly before 1PM. I was lying on the bed “laboring” and then realized, I’m having way too much pain in this position, I need to get up. So I got up. Moving while in active labor was with both births extremely uncomfortable. I stood at the edge of the bed and held on to the bed post between contractions, which were getting confusing… was that a contraction or was I supposed to push there?

Am I through transition? I knew it was getting close because the midwives didn’t seem too worried about checking my dilation status…

I was getting this feeling of something LARGE (think baby head) STUCK right around my anus. Sorry. It felt like I had to poop a large watermelon. There I said it. I didn’t remember this feeling from Owen’s birth until it was ALMOST over, so I said to the midwives,

“What am I doing here, am I pushing? I’m feeling a lot of pressure”

(Calmly) “Oh, yes, Cameron this baby is coming, the head is right there, and we are seeing more and more of it.”

Me thinking: THE HEAD?? WHAT?

But I’m STANDING up!!!. I had not pictured a standing delivery. This is almost over? I felt like it just started, but FINE BY ME.

Kate, my sister, had rushed back to the house at some point after 1PM and I noticed her watching me, felt bad for her, and wanted to give her a little smile, like “it’s okay, I’m fine,” but I couldn’t really open my eyes, even for a second to be my *old* self. I was in serious *la la* labor land. All I could manage were some primal grunts, groans –your typical Hollywood labor noises.

PUSH. GRUNT. PUSH. Insert primal noises and a very scared, “You’re doing great, Cameron” from my sister.

Water broke.

I’m thinking “Oh wow, this is happening NOW.”

I don’t know, really, it wasn’t the same type of pushing as the first labor, which was textbook– One two three, here’s a contraction and PUUSSHHHHH… Harper was more like. Ouch, ouch ouch, and feeling the uterus doing lots of its own work and then I’m giving it a little push here and there when I felt like it.

Midwives, “Okay the head is out.”

Me thinking: WHAT? THE HEAD is OUT?–

Okay calm yourself, now all I have to do is push the body out, so here goes…

…and next thing I knew there was a baby on a towel being handed up to me. I’m told Matt knelt down and “caught” the baby as it came out. It was pretty amazing. I went and took a seat on the bed with the new baby and lifted her leg.

“Girl!!” I said. Everyone laughed. I thought it would be a boy.

So my active labor was less than an hour an a half. PRAISE JESUS. I went from 4-5cm to 10cm in less than an hour. I really liked delivering during the day because then you don’t have to stay up all night and never recover that sleep.

The midwives service was great, as usual, and they took care of everything, including changing and washing the sheets and linens. When they leave, your house looks like they were never there. They do a standard follow up visit at home one day later, and three days later. I can’t say enough about how nice it is to have the baby in the comfort of your own home, sleep beside your husband that night and receive follow-up home care and lactation consulting. To me, that is the way it should be. You shouldn’t have a question about nursing your baby that doesn’t get answered in person by an expert. One HUGE bonus is that if it’s your second child, you don’t have to worry about what will happen with your first born while you go to the hospital (or your dogs) Who will watch him? How will he nap or sleep? How will you call someone at 3AM to come over? Will he be safe and happy? Those are definitely concerns I didn’t have or think of until a friend pointed it out to me. A pregnant woman has enough to worry about, the last thing you need is more anxiety. Owen was able to see the baby within a half an hour of her being born (I woke him from his nap with my primal sounds). Additionally, it seems like when I go to any doctor’s office, I can never remember what I was going to ask them, but when the midwives come to visit me at home, the dialog begins and when they leave all my questions are answered. If they’re not, of course, I can reach them on their cell phone. Prenatal and postnatal care with great customer service. Why? Because you deserve it.

Viola’s Birth Story by Maryjane

It was Tuesday, June 15, around 4 p.m. and almost twelve hours since I had last spoken with the midwife about the progression of my labor. I had been having what I consider false labor pains since very early in the morning of the previous Sunday, so it was hard for me to believe that I could actually be in labor. However, I was in the beginning stages of labor and had been for almost twenty-four hours at this point. Mary Ann and Emily had come to our house that Tuesday morning at around 4 a.m., directly from another birth, to check in on me and see if I was making any progress. I was dilating, but barely. Earlier on in the process, whenever my contractions got close I would call and the two of them would faithfully come to our house to check on me. But sure enough, when they would arrive, my contractions would almost entirely go away, or be so far apart I felt silly for calling. So in this conversation, I assured them nothing had changed and we were fine. They decided to come out anyway and when Mary Ann checked me this time, I was 3 centimeters dilated, which was a surprising and welcoming change from the last few days. After making sure Matt, my husband, and I were okay for a little while, they decided to go back into town (we live about 20 miles outside of Flagstaff) to get some dinner. I think they realized it was going to be a long night.

Before leaving, they requested that if my contractions were to get any closer, then to call them right away, but that they would most likely be back in about two hours. Indeed, my contractions did get very close together relatively quickly and they became very painful. I decided I would give them a call, even though it was close to when they would have been arriving anyway. Although we had the “What to do if Baby Arrives Before the Midwife” instructions on our fridge, I didn’t really want to go there. Surely enough they were on their way, only ten minutes from our house. When they got to our house, Mary Ann examined me again to see how far I was dilated. I had definitely made some progress and was now six centimeters dilated! This was really exciting to both Matt and me, because we were already feeling mentally and physically exhausted from days of uncertainty. The contractions felt pretty intense and were accompanied by back labor pains as well. These proved to be the most painful and didn’t give me any break in between contractions. However, we were equipped with a lot of knowledge about pain and labor from taking the birth class a few weeks prior to this. So, we were able to pass the time by trying different birthing positions as well as sitting in the pool. As much as some of the stuff we learned in class seemed silly at the time, we really did try almost everything taught to us as a way of dealing with the pain, and both Matt and I felt really prepared for labor.

For hours we labored this way, back and forth from different positions, trying to stay as hydrated as possible and as focused as possible. At times it was really hard and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through the process. I started to fall asleep a little bit between contractions, as did everyone else, and at one point I woke up and decided I needed to progress more than I was if I was going to make it through to the pushing part. I was still only six centimeters dilated and it had been about six hours. Then my water broke, and things really got going. Immediately after I had the most painful contraction ever and they stayed this way until they told me to push if I got the urge. I was about ten centimeters dilated within two more hours. At this point I realized I had only prepared for the contractions part of labor and hadn’t really even thought about what it would be like to push a baby out. But I soon realized that this part certainly does come natural and I just listened to what my body told me to do and I did it. Everything became very exciting all of a sudden, as we moved from laboring to the idea of meeting our baby.

Mary Ann and Emily were so encouraging and reminded me how strong I was which ultimately gave me the power to not be scared and let my body and baby do what they needed to do. Matt sat by my side as I pushed our baby out. About half way through pushing a second midwife arrived at our house and her fresh attitude gave me the extra energy I needed at that time. I could feel the baby coming out, and then slipping backwards a little bit. We had been informed of this so I didn’t let it frustrate me, and within another half hour, as the sun rose, our baby made its way into this world. Having the warm, little body passed to me was truly the most amazing thing I have ever experienced and will never forget. As Matt and I took it all in and just stared at our baby, I realized we didn’t even know the sex and it really didn’t seem to matter. We were just so in love already. For some reason I had assumed the baby was a boy and went with it for a minute until Matt lifted the receiving blanket and we both saw it was actually a girl. This was a huge and great surprise.

Viola Mae was born on Wednesday, June 16th at 5:10 a.m. at home. After getting some more time to stare at her little body, the midwives gathered all of the medical information they needed about Viola, as well as cleaned her up, while I took a shower. Afterwards, I was fed the most wonderful breakfast of my life, which was just cold quiche and orange juice, but was a much needed meal. They cleaned up and left Matt and I with our new little bundle of love and life has been better and better every day with her in our lives. We had a great birthing experience and feel so fortunate that we have these women in our community.

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