The Birth Story of Baby Darius

The Birth Story of Baby Darius

It’s hard to know where to start with Darius’ birth story, as there were several starts-and-stops along the way during the last week or so of my pregnancy. Joel will shake his head and say something along the lines of “shouldn’t a midwife know when she is in labor?”, but once again I had trouble figuring it out.

To give some background (especially if you’ve read my previous birth stories), we had used our dear friend Rose as our midwife with our girls, and she ended up being the first one on the scene after Matthias was born (she was home on a school break THAT weekend, and our midwife was on her way from Lancaster, but Matthias came in a hurry-read his birth story here). We love her, but due to a variety of reasons (especially the fact that Joel has no desire to ever catch one of his own babies again) we decided that this time we needed to use a midwife who lives closer to us. In the past two years I have been blessed to meet and work with Rose Marie Spicher, a midwife who lives half an hour away, and who worked for years in TX (where I did my midwifery training). She provided the “mothering” care I needed throughout my pregnancy, and it gave Joel a sense of relief to know she wasn’t too far away. With me being on maternity leave the month of May, and the fact that everyone else was expecting in May as well (I have NEVER received so many inquiries for one particular month!), I was just hoping that she wouldn’t be tied up whenever our baby decided to come!

So fast-forward through all the months of sickness, fatigue, finding out that we were expecting a baby brother (the children are still certain this was a direct result of their prayers, as I was convinced it had to be a girl given how sick I was!), and everything else until the beginning of May. By early May I was reaching that totally-done-being-pregnant stage where I wasn’t sleeping at night, having lots of cramps  & contractions, felt extremely emotional all the time, and we were wondering just when this little fellow would decide to make his appearance. Between 34-36 weeks I was experiencing enough cramps and contractions to know I needed to take it easy, and once we hit 36 weeks I had a couple of times where I thought perhaps we were getting started-I distinctly remember one night when I couldn’t sleep because of contractions, so Joel & I slipped outside to take a walk in the moonlight. It would have been so romantic if I hadn’t been so uncomfortable! But everything always fizzled away, and left me feeling tired and discouraged.

At this point we were preparing for a visit from my parents, who live in Kansas. My sister had her first baby the month before, and my mom wanted to come out to help her over the time my brother-in-law was graduating and they were preparing to move. So she flew into northern PA, spent a few days with my sister, and was then joined by my dad. The plan was that they would drive down to see us before they headed back to Kansas, and of course we hoped that baby would arrive before they left, though we knew it was entirely possible that he would wait until they were home again. However, with all the early labor signs I had been experiencing, I’ll admit that I was getting my hopes up! Mom & Dad planned to arrive on Mother’s Day, and the night before I was trying to encourage things along, and ended up with a night of contractions with no baby to show for it. Everything was regular enough that I actually called my midwife to give her a heads up, but then it all petered out.

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Mother’s Day 2017

I really had to work through the disappointment of knowing that perhaps my folks wouldn’t get to meet their grandson on this trip. We didn’t know when we would be seeing them next, and I hadn’t realized just how much I had my heart set on them getting to be here to see MY baby while he was new and tiny. It took some talking, praying, crying and processing with Joel to get to the point of being okay with the fact that perhaps this time with mom & dad was to be spent enjoying their company and not stressing over whether baby was here or not. So for the next few days, my parents helped to take my mind off of waiting for baby, and we enjoyed some lovely family time at the park, taking walks, picnics, a backyard barbeque, and some time for Joel & I to be together while our children were cared for.

The last night of their visit, they took our two oldest children back to stay the night with them in their cabin. In the interest of full disclosure, I had taken some castor oil in the afternoon, knowing full well that there was a good possibility nothing would come of it, and yet hoping that perhaps it would give my body the nudge it seemed to be waiting for. I was NOT going to get my hopes up, though, and I tried to just go to bed to get some sleep. I think it was around midnight or 1am when I woke up with a contraction, and yet I tried to sleep, as it sure wasn’t the first time that random contractions had woken me up at night! After an hour or so of not really sleeping, I figured I might as well get up to see if moving around made them go away or get stronger.

Joel sweetly got up with me, and fixed me sourdough toast with strawberry jam-his mom had given me jam and sourdough bread the week before, and it was becoming a regular midnight tradition to eat a piece when I couldn’t sleep! After another hour or so, Joel commented that these contractions seemed to be pretty regular and close together. I did NOT want to give another false alarm to anyone, and didn’t feel sure that this was anything more than what had happened on previous nights. Looking back, they were coming close together (every 2-4 minutes!), but they weren’t very intense, and they didn’t last long, so I wasn’t convinced they were doing anything. With my previous babies, my water had always broken either before labor began or at the start of active labor, so I kept waiting for that to be the clue that this was the “real thing”.

At 4:00am, Joel really felt like we should call Rose Marie, as he said he thought this seemed more serious, and he did NOT want to wait until it was too late! So I  called Rose Marie, and I told her I still wasn’t sure this was “it”, yet Joel would feel better if she came, but she didn’t need to rush. The contractions were starting to get a bit more of an “edge” to them that took my breath away, but I still felt like I could make myself talk through them, though I preferred not to. Another sign I should have paid attention to!

Within 15 min of calling Rose Marie, all of a sudden things kicked in with a vengeance. Up till now I had still been puttering around, but hadn’t gotten birth stuff out yet, as I had gotten it all out and then had to put it all away a few nights before. I wanted to make sure I was in REAL labor before getting everything set up again, and figured I could do it in between contractions as a distraction. Well, that’s not how things happened. Labor went from being “not sure this is it” to “we’re in seriously active labor” in a few minutes! Joel called Rose Marie back and told her to step on it, and then he promptly called Lynelle (my birth assistant who was planning to assist Rose Marie with our birth-she lives less than five minutes away) and told her to come. I think it was around 4:30am when Joel called Lynelle, and boy did she know how to get over to our place in a hurry! Joel said he has never in his life been so happy to see Lynelle walk into a room, and it was just in time.

By this point my contractions were one on top of another, and I felt like I didn’t have any time to collect myself, catch my breath or get a break in between. Joel kept encouraging me to breathe through them (he didn’t want me pushing!), and I was leaning over the birth ball squeezing his hands for all I was worth, just praying that God would make it stop so I could catch my breath. Lynelle quickly realized things were serious, and started pulling all the birth supplies together. All of a sudden I told them there was no way I could keep from pushing any longer. It had been taking everything I had to blow through contractions, and I was done. I distinctly remember saying “you all are just going to have to catch this baby ‘cause I can’t keep him in any longer!” Lynelle calmly replied that everything was okay, and with the next contraction my water broke. Now I can laugh about it-that was the clue I had been waiting for all along to tell me if I was actually in labor! With the next contraction Lynelle could see his head, and she did an awesome job of coaching me through as I tried to breathe him out. Right at the point his head was delivering, Rose Marie walked in the room! Lynelle started to move out of the way, but Rose Marie just smiled and said it looked like she was doing a great job, so she might as well continue. Rose Marie guided Lynelle through the rest of her “first catch”, and the official birth time was 4:56am.

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Those first moments after birth…

I can still remember the absolute relief that comes from being finished, and laying down with my baby on my chest. He cried just enough for us to know he was great, and then he snuggled on my chest, and we all exclaimed over his head full of strawberry blonde hair-that was a surprise! We had a really special next hour or so as we reflected over the crazy labor, the special-ness of the unplanned “first catch” for Lynelle, Rose Marie’s perfect timing, and Joel’s relief that he didn’t have to do this birth alone. We had invited another family friend to be present at the birth, and sadly she didn’t make it time, but her sweet & joyous spirit added to the atmosphere in the room as Joel fixed breakfast and baby Darius had his first meal. Thanks for coming, Mary!

And then it was SO amazing to call my parents and tell them that their grandson had arrived! Having them able to bring our oldest two over first thing that morning was so special. They were able to watch the newborn exam, meet our midwives, and see the children as they delighted in meeting their new sibling. It was the “icing on the cake” to have them around, and able to snuggle their newest grandbaby that morning, before they had to leave that afternoon to catch their flight home.

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Yoanna & Matthias and Grandma & Grandpa meeting baby Darius. Yoanna was delighted to help Lynelle give him his first bath!

We had struggled with finding the right name for our little guy, and settled on Darius Rafael just a few weeks before his birth. Darius means “Upholder of Good” and Rafael means “God is Healer”.  It is our prayer that our little son will grow into a man who does good, and is used to provide God’s healing to others. He checked out at 8# 10 oz, and measured 20 in long. Matthias was absolutely delighted to have a baby brother, and they continue to have a special relationship as brothers.

Here’s a few more snapshots of Darius’ “birth” day…enjoy this glimpse into our little family’s life, and feel free to check out the birth stories of our girls, Talitha & Yoanna.

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Big sister Talitha was pretty excited to wake up and find that baby brother had “come out!”

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Rose Marie checking baby out

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Our amazing birth team-thanks so much for everything!!

Looking Back & Looking Forward!

Looking Back & Looking Forward!

As we head into 2018, I want to say thanks to each of the families we served last year. It is always an honor to be asked to care for each mom & baby, and it’s a special privilege to be present when the miracle of birth occurs. It was definitely a year full of variety, with many random & unusual situations and circumstances. Babies ranged from 6 lbs to over 10 lbs, arrived anywhere from over two weeks early to just past two weeks late (!), most came during the night (yay for cooperating with my own sleeping baby!), many were fast labors, and all the moms were amazing! Being a midwife you end up walking with families experiencing great joy as well as heartache when families have to say goodbye before they meet their little ones. There are also the situations that tax your skill and abilities, and the challenges that leave you researching and looking for answers. I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my experience an education, but I’ll also be honest and admit that I’m hoping for less of these experiences in 2018!

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Some of our sweet babies in their “born at home” onesies!

I continue to be grateful for the help of my backup midwife, Rose Marie (who took such good care of clients when I was out of town, and then later on maternity leave), and that of my assistant, Lynelle. Besides being a great assistant, Lynelle also expanded her experience when she ended up catching her first baby (my son!) just as Rose Marie arrived. That was a special surprise for her! Having a team of ladies to depend on, call when needed, and work with definitely helps to make the work of midwifery much more sustainable long-term.

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Fun birth memories with Rose Marie and Lynelle!

As we head into a new year, and anticipate the first babies of 2018 due soon, here’s a few updates:

  • We have some new resources in the library! Two NEW books were published in 2017 that are excellent reads for pregnant moms. The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hall is just what the title describes. And my new favorite pregnancy book is Mama Natural’s Complete Guide to Pregnancy & Birth. It’s a week-by-week guide that covers all the details from growth & development of baby to what you should be eating, thinking about and considering-all from a natural perspective! So far my clients have enjoyed it so much that I now own 3 copies so moms can keep it longer! We also have a copy of the “Why Not Home?” Documentary, which is available for those of you who may want that perspective as you contemplate home birth.
  • A *NEW* birth kit item: upgraded camera! While we can’t promise you professional photos (we are midwives, not photographers!), we have been delighted to add better photos for families who find that aspect important to them. A number of our families are delighted to have some better-quality photos before, during and after birth, especially if hiring a birth photographer is desired but out of reach financially. We occasionally add a third member to our team if photos are something you really want, and a number of our clients have been delighted with the result. Be sure to ask about this at your next visit.
  • New Playdates! We hosted our first mommy meet-up/playdate in the fall of 2017, and it was SUCH fun to see the families and clients that have become friends-we miss you! It was popular enough that we plan to do it again, so if you want to be alerted specifically about the next date, be sure to let me know!

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    Fun with moms and babies at our first playdate!

  • New, upgraded phone for the midwife. 🙂 I know, it’s about time! But if you don’t have my new number and are a former client (current clients all have the new # by this time!) be sure to drop me an email and ask for it!
  • And finally…a new student! Charity is just beginning to “test the waters” to see if unnamed (1) midwifery is her calling, so she’s hoping to attend births in January (as long as babies give her enough time to get here!). We’ll see where things go, but we’re excited to have Charity join our team this month!

And as always, please let me know if you have any topics or suggestions of things you’d like to see covered in future blog posts. I hope to make the website more educational for clients, and would love to have it become a helpful resource for all expectant families! Be sure to follow Gentle Delivery on facebook and instagram, as well, as you never know what news or info may pop up over there!

Blessings in 2018…until next time!

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Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

Preparing for birth-some excellent resources!

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I love collecting birth resources-be it books, DVD’s, magazines, articles-you name it! The only problem is, with the limited amount of “extra” time I have (or don’t have!), I don’t always get a chance to preview and read the resources I collect right away. And I find myself hesitant to pass along information to clients and friends that I haven’t read or previewed myself.

    This winter I’ve found myself in the remote hills of Arkansas, with more time on my hands than usual, as my husband is teaching at a small winter Bible School for young people. Keeping the children occupied is my main job here, but with the absence of our usual activities and schedule AND having all our meals provided, I’ve enjoyed the chance to finally dig into some of the resources that have been sitting on my shelves at home waiting for me to get to them.
    So, with that introduction, I want to mention a few EXCELLENT resources that would be worth any of you expectant moms, or anyone wanting to learn more about birth, to take time to watch or read. I can’t believe I’ve had these around this long and didn’t realize what treasures they were!
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The first one I’ll mention is the Parent Class DVD by Spinning Babies teacher Gail Tulley. I’ll confess that this one I have recommended to clients as I’ve taken one of her classes in person myself, and know she has alot to offer. But I didn’t realize how many jewels were in this educational presentation! It was a great refresher to me as a midwife, as Gail does and excellent job of teaching you how to help “make room” for your baby in your pelvis, and help your entire body to function more efficiently with less discomfort. The only drawback with this DVD is that, while she is teaching this class to a participating group of expectant couples, she does get fairly technical with some of her explanations. But in the long run it is helpful, as I think it helps you to get a better idea of WHY some of her positional suggestions and exercises help to eliminate certain issues. Using a great variety of teaching aides, examples, charts and object lessons, Gail shows you how exactly the uterus, baby, brain and body all work together, and how you can help. This would be great DVD for an expectant couple to watch together, or for any midwife or doula to watch in order to give you some great ideas of how to help your clients through specific issues and achieve better positioning for babies. It is well worth the $ you would need to invest, in my opinion! You can find out more about Gail, and purchase this DVD here.
    Next in my pile of resources was a book by Ina May Gaskin. If you’ve been in the childbirth realm long, you’ll recognize this name as one of the most famous midwives in the USA. Ina May has been practicing since the 1970’s, and is probably most well known for her involvement with births on “The Farm” in rural TN. People have come from all over the world to have their babies in this community that has come to be known for it’s amazing work with natural childbirth. I’ll admit that while I’ve appreciated many of the things I’ve read or heard taught by Ina May, I was still a bit skeptical of her book “Guide to Childbirth”. I think I was expecting it to have a real “back to earth” or “hippie” type flare, which I know can turn off families who are looking for evidence-based and scientific information on preparing for birth. I was in for a big surprise! Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth has been amazing. Written in an easy-to-read manner, it is full of so much helpful information. Starting with birth stories to help women realize that birth is both natural and do-able, it then proceeds to teaching you about the things you really need to know about how your body works, how to care for yourself during pregnancy, how to understand tests and the “whys” behind them, helpful suggestions for choosing both caregivers and birth locations, ways to prepare for labor, and the list goes on. I love her honest, down-to-earth style of writing, yet all of her information is based on evidence, research, and studies, and she includes citations and information for further study. If you are wanting just one book to help you understand pregnancy and prepare for birth, this one is it. And it’s not just for moms planning to birth at home-there is information in this book that would help anyone to be better prepared and ready for the amazing experience of labor and delivery.
    The last resource I’ll mention here is a DVD that was given to me by one of my clients. She had purchased it during her last pregnancy, and wanted to pass it on to other moms when she was done with it. “Practicing for an Active Birth”  is basically a childbirth class presented by Instructor Neri Choma by Birth Coach Method. While Neri could probably be a bit more dynamic in her teaching style (I’d suggest watching 30 min. at a time-the DVD is about 2 hrs. and 15 min. long), she does a very good job of helping  you to understand the process of labor and the terms used to talk about each stage, and gives couples LOTS of great position and relaxation techniques. Using charts and models, she helps you to learn how to visualize what is happening during each stage of labor, and how you might be able to help facilitate comfort and relaxation during each stage, working together as couples. While I think that it is best for couples to take a live childbirth class whenever possible, this would be an excellent option for those who might not have that opportunity in their area.
    I personally feel like much of preparing for a great labor and birth involves understanding how your body works so you are not tensed with fear of the unknown. If you KNOW what is happening, understand WHY you are experiencing certain sensations, and have IDEAS for what to do and when, you and your partner will be able to relax and work together much better. Moms (and dads!) that are prepared tend to do much better emotionally and physically through the marathon of labor. I would strongly recommend you look into any or all of these resources as ways to prepare for a wonderful experience of bringing your baby into the world.
    I’d love to hear about what worked for you. Do you have any favorite resources you would care to share with others? Tell us about it in the comments! And consider sharing  this post with your pregnant friends to help them hear about ways they can prepare for labor and birth from the comfort of their own home.
2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

2016 Highlights for Gentle Delivery

What a year 2016 turned out to be! I’m very thankful for the many clients I was privileged to work with, and for the many special memories that were made. When it comes to births, 2016 was extremely unpredictable, and I’ll be thankful if 2017 isn’t quite as adventurous. We had one very early baby, one very late baby, a set of twins, a baby that came so fast we didn’t make it in time (!), and about everything in between. 🙂

A few highlights and items of interest from the past year:

– Great birth team and back-up midwife:

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Rose Marie, Lynelle & Myself with twins!

I was grateful to have the ongoing help of my current student, Lynelle Martin, as well as the help, support and back-up services of Midwife Rose Marie Spicher. These ladies are great to work with! Since relocating to PA several years ago, I have really missed the network of midwives that I used to assist and work with, and Rose Marie has been such a blessing to fill this niche. I’m grateful to know that clients are in caring, capable hands during the times I need to be off-call or out of town.

 

– Opportunities to further my education: Attending one day of Midwifery Today’s International Conference in Harrisburg, PA was a great way to meet up with other

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Bridge Certificate 

midwives, listen to lectures on issues and complications during labor, and make new friends in the midwifery world. I also had the opportunity to attend the Midwives Alliance of PA Educational Retreat, where we spent two days learning about a variety of subjects such as congenital heart defect screening, perinatal mood disorders, atypical findings in newborn exams, and more. Updating my Neonatal Resuscitation Certification and CPR at the local Mt. Nittany hospital is always a great way to get better acquainted with the closest hospital in my area, and I enjoy the learning opportunities these occasions afford. Finally, towards the end of the year, I submitted the needed proof of 50 hours of continuing education credits in certain areas (pertaining specifically to emergency and complications during labor and immediate postpartum) and applied for and received my “Midwifery Bridge Certificate”. This ensures that my education and training as a Certified Professional Midwife are also up to the standards set forth by the International Confederation of Midwives to ensure competent and qualified care for women.

– Addition of CCHD screening at postpartum home visits: 

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Trying out the Pulse Oximeter

One new requirement for midwives providing out-of-hospital births in PA is that of submitting Critical Congenital Heart Disease screening result along with newborn blood screening test. This year Gentle Delivery added a Pulse Oximeter to our kit, and we’ve been successfully performing this test on all of our babies since this fall. We’re happy to be able to try to offer our moms and babies a full range of services-did you know that free hearing screenings are also now available for our clients?

 

– First Public Event: “Birth Expo 2016” & “Why Not Home?” Film Screening 

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Celebrating Birth Expo 2016

We are attempting to help educate the public on the full variety of choices they have locally when it comes to birth-this includes support (such as doulas), care providers (CNM’s, CPM’s and OBGYN’s), choice of birth location, and resources that help them to succeed in parenting (such as breastfeeding and babywearing). With these thoughts in mind, Gentle Delivery hosted the first “Birth Expo” for Centre County in July 2016. We were very excited about the support of over 30 businesses and birth professionals that came together for the day, and we’ve received alot of positive feedback from parents who found out about resources they didn’t know were available in this area. Viewing the new film “Why Not Home?” also provided a way for more families to hear about the option of home and midwife-attended birth. The big question now is whether to host something similar in 2017…if we did, would you be interested in helping to make it happen? Please contact me with your interest!

– New Resources in the Library

The library in the prenatal office continues to grow, with more books and resources added in 2016. Some of my personal favorites include “Redeeming Childbirth” by Angie Tolpin and “Your Best Birth” by Rikki Lake. Check out the list of Recommended Reading  to see all of the titles available for clients to check out.

– Gift bag for Newly Expectant Moms 

Helping moms to connect with local support services and resources is something we are passionate about! Due to being located in a university town, many of the families we interact with don’t have any family or previous connections in the area. One way we have attempted to help with this is by giving each family who comes in for an initial interview a free bag full of samples from natural-minded companies, coupons, and lots of cards, brochures and information from many area birth professionals and mommy/baby-centered support groups and businesses. If you or your business would like to be included in this welcome bag, send us an email or message and let us know!

– Our own special gift to new babies… instagramcapture_ee2d01d4-3eb4-45ec-8440-8612375dcf01

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And while not necessarily “important” news, we’ve had fun giving our babies in 2016 special onesies to commemorate their big event! I have fun taking the time to make each of these little shirts for our babies, and clients in 2017 can also look forward to this little “thank you” gift that we pass on to our families.  img_0348

Thank you for allowing us to serve you all in 2016, and blessings to each of you as you head into the new year! Remember, too, to follow this blog for future updates, “like” us on Facebook to receive current info and informative articles (Gentle Delivery), and watch for our photos of new arrivals on Instagram @gentlemidwife . We’d love to keep in touch!

 

 

 

The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 1

The Peaceful Birth of Talitha ~ Part 1

Note to my readers: I kept thinking I’d get this story written long before now, but I finally finished it just before my baby turns one. How time flies! My apologies on the length…there were so many details that had to be shared to give the background, but if you aren’t interested in those, just wait for the actual “birth story” coming soon!

When I sit down to write out the story of Talitha’s birth, the subject that continually comes to mind is that God answered prayer. Seriously. The winter of 2015 was unlike any I have ever experienced to this date, full of stretching in areas physically, spiritually, and emotionally. In order to understand part of the picture of how so many things came together in order to make her birth the peaceful event that it was, bear with me as I give you some background to that cold February night…

My husband, Joel, has served with All-Nations Bible Translation for many years, and earlier in 2014 the decision had been made to build a training base in the State College area, just 2 miles or so from our home. It would take too long to recount the ways God opened doors for a location, permits, funds, etc, but suffice it to say that, as generally happens with construction projects, this one had taken much longer than expected before all the red tape was completed in order to begin building. Which translates into the “crunch” time beginning while I began my last trimester of pregnancy, even though it hadn’t initially been planned that way. While I was not helping with construction J, it was our responsibility to make sure the volunteers had coffee, snacks for break, lunch, and sometimes even a place to stay along with breakfast and supper. Joel had tried to get help in for this, but to make a long story short, nothing worked out-though he was able to get a number of churches and interested individuals to help with some of the food prep, in order to reduce my load. I will admit that these months were HARD. When I’m pregnant, I’m extra emotional, uncomfortable, unsocial, and ready to be DONE. To add hostessing, food prep, and all the effort that goes into that to having two toddlers to care for, all the while dealing with pregnancy issues stretched me beyond what I thought I was physically able to handle. Oh, and I should mention that our small church community (made up of about 7 families) had THREE pregnant mamas, two major moves, a house renovation project AND health issues during the last two months of my pregnancy. But God gave strength, and we pressed on, reminding ourselves that at least the construction project wasn’t something that was going to be repeated!

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How the building project looked in January…so much snow that volunteers had to be taken up the lane in a 4 wheel drive vehicle!

Besides the building project, I also was committed to delivering babies! The “last” baby I had on my radar before my own was due the end of January. When I took on this sweet couple, it was with the idea that January would be my “rest month”, as Joel was actively lining up help for the month in order for me to prepare for our baby. I also figured that since there were a solid 5 ½ weeks between this mamas due date and my own, this also should be no problem. Well…sometimes God has other plans in mind! I started getting a bit nervous about how all of this was going to work out when I began having preterm labor signs of my own around 33 weeks. When I realized that I was beginning to dilate, and that baby was settling lower and lower, we seriously reduced my time on my feet, which helped to slow the contractions. I began praying that God would help baby wait at least until this other baby came…and that baby wouldn’t come before we could do it at home. We figured out a workable plan in which I would sit with my feet up after every hour or two of work, which helped to keep things at bay, though I started wondering if we’d be meeting our baby sooner rather than later. But back to babies…the one due in January was not to be my “last” one after all! One of the ladies in our church, who is a good friend, had some things come up which made their family feel like perhaps the midwife they had chosen was not a good fit for them. While I do not normally get involved with a situation such as this (there’s often a deeper reason when a couple and midwife part ways late in pregnancy, and it’s not something to delve into without concern), we had a close relationship with this family, and felt like we needed to help them out. Incidentally, this mama was due the same week as I was, and we had been neck-to-neck throughout our pregnancies, though she was convinced she’d deliver first, as her babies tended to come early. We lined up a back-up, just in case, as there was the real possibility we’d both be in labor at the same time…

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Getting things ready for baby sister to arrive!

So all of that brings us to the first week of February. At this point, I’m still having contractions whenever I ‘m on my feet for awhile, and I’m waiting on two babies before my own can come. It’s the kind of situation where you keep saying, “Okay, Lord, let’s see how you’re going to work all this out…” 🙂 In the middle of all this, we started a renovation project in our basement…we had help to do it, and wanted to have the basement ready by the time my mom came to help after our birth, and I didn’t want to be dealing with dirt, dust and noise with a newborn, so we dug in. There were times I cried-like when the heater came on in the basement and spewed concrete dust all through the house…but the guys made great progress throughout that week, and one afternoon a sister from church came over to help me clean. After waiting about 10 days from his due date, the “January baby” came…and I felt like it was a direct answer to prayer to have a clear night for travel (no snow and ice on the road) and a straight-forward, relatively short labor, complete with a healthy baby. I felt a huge sense of relief, too, as that was one more responsibility off my shoulders, allowing me to feel more prepared for my own baby.

By the time the third week of February began, my friend and I were wondering who was going go first. I had reached that point where one is chronically uncomfortable, but so had my friend. That Sunday night she went into labor (just 3 days after moving into her newly renovated  house…talk about cutting it close!), and early Monday morning I was called over, helping them to welcome a baby girl within an hour or two of my arrival. Once again, God was gracious, giving them a lovely birth, with no issues that would have been challenging for this very-pregnant midwife to take care of! This week were also trying to finish up the renovation in our basement, as Joel’s sister, Lucy, and her husband were supposed to be arriving that week in order for Daniel to do some trim work at the ABT project. So I napped around construction noise, and felt grateful that meals at the ABT project were being taken care of by another church family who had moved into our community just the week before (remember my mention of two moves over this time?!).

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Baby E around 24 hrs old…this was the day before my own baby came!

Another aspect of uncertainty surrounding this birth also had to do with the availability of my own midwife. Our dear friend, Rose, had been involved with our previous two births, and we really wanted her for my midwife again this time. For each birth, God answered specific prayer related to her availability, and this time was no exception! She was working down in Lancaster, and while she had permission from her employer to head our direction when needed, my last labor hadn’t given us a lot of warning-and Joel was not in a hurry to do a solo birth again! I had also been hoping to have my student, Emily, involved, even thinking that at least she’d get some good practice if Rose couldn’t make it in time. But she was already committing to attending her next midwifery class in Maine, which was scheduled to take place the last two weeks of February. So we prayed, and committed the situation to the Lord, knowing that He would work it all out somehow…but not knowing exactly who would be a part of our birth team.

Tuesday night, the 17th/18th, I slept fitfully, being awake for several hours with contractions. While intense enough to keep me from sleeping, they wouldn’t get any stronger, and I kept wondering at what point I should be calling Rose to come. When morning finally arrived, I was tired and discouraged. By this time I had experienced many uncomfortable nights with little sleep and lots of contractions, and wasn’t sure how much longer I could survive physically and mentally. After so many hours of consistent, time able contractions through the night, finding myself at only 4cm was so disappointing…surely things should be happening by now! Joel was so understanding, and after giving me time for a good cry on his shoulder, he sent me for a long, relaxing bath, after which he put me back to bed to see if I could sleep. He then proceeded to tell our friend who was working in the basement to wait to come for several hours. I know this seems like an unrelated detail, but it played into the events of the rest of the day!  I was able to sleep in the quiet house, and once I woke up refreshed, Joel told Chris to come back-we found out that Daniel & Lucy were coming that evening, instead of waiting for the next day-so we needed the basement for them to sleep in!

I still look back on that Wednesday as a gift. Up to that day, my life had been so full, the schedule so tight, so many urgent, pressing things to take care, running from here to there. No time for reflection, or for that mental preparation that is so helpful when facing something like labor. Even after having had two natural births, I found myself fighting fears of a different type this time. Nightmares of having to be taken to the hospital, because I couldn’t take the pain. Wondering if I could mentally cope with whatever might come in labor. Every time I would voice those fears, my husband would remind me that they weren’t coming for the Lord, and that I needed to trust in Him, and resist those fears. Yet having a day in which to reflect, and be able to gear up mentally for labor was something I needed in order to be prepared. Joel encouraged me to take the day “off”, and he even suggested taking our little family out for lunch. It’s one of those sweet memories I have…our last outing as a little family of 4, enjoying some relaxed time together at the local Chinese buffet. Talking about when the baby might come, and the children soaking up the time with mommy and daddy.

Contractions continued to come and go throughout the day, and Joel (wisely) wondered if it might not be a good idea to touch base with Rose. He really didn’t want her to be very far away if things did start to happen! Rose informed me that she was off work the rest of the week, and was thinking of heading up to her family’s place in order to do some study, and be closer to us in case baby decided to come. I went for a walk in order to get some fresh air and sunshine (though a storm was brewing), and found contractions very strong and intense while walking, though they would slow down again whenever I would sit. Around this time, Joel and I discussed whether or not I should consider taking castor oil. While we didn’t want to interfere with God’s timing of this birth, we also knew that I was physically very run down, and we were concerned about how I would handle more DSC_0632csleepless nights should things continue. After talking with Rose again, and finding out that she was studying at a nearby restaurant, as she felt from the tone of my voice earlier that she should be close by (and a snow storm was predicted for later on in the evening!), we decided to try castor oil if things didn’t move forward on their own. The mind-body connection is amazing, as contractions began to pick up again after just knowing that Rose was 2 miles away!

To be continued….

Midwife + Nursing Baby = Crazy Stories!

Midwife + Nursing Baby = Crazy Stories!

For a little change of pace, I thought it’d be fun to recount some of the craziness that took place in my life over this past summer. With my third-born arriving in February, I took a break from delivering babies while we adjusted and recovered. As the summer came closer, and the due dates of those fist mamas approached, I’ll admit that I had some misgivings. For starters, it wasn’t like I was getting vast amounts of sleep. 🙂 Then, you add my dear, intense, unpredictable baby to the mix. The plan had been to bring the baby along, and make sure I had an assistant along to help out, should my baby need help while I was unavailable. I had these lovely visions of those “crunchy” midwives that you see doing everything toting their happy baby around on their back…but that’s not reality in my case!

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my baby girl when these stories start…

My babies have all been of the “high needs” class, and baby #3 has been no exception. But that adds another dimension to the situation when you’re talking of bringing an extra little person along to something as unpredictable and intense as a birth! Thankfully, I was blessed with very understanding clients, and they were all duly warned beforehand that if I was hired, so was my baby…but I also promised to do my best to keep distractions to a minimum. So here are some tales from this past summer as I toted my little companion with me at all hours of the day and night!

As it turned out, I didn’t have alot of time to stress over how it was all going to work out, as my first mama went early. When I took the early morning call, I had to think that the timing was beautiful, as I had JUST finished feeding Talitha, and had just gone back to bed. (On another note, it also happened that my sister was staying the weekend, so Joel didn’t even have to babysit the other children!) This meant she was ready to be buckled into the van, where she promptly fell asleep-and she slept long enough for me to arrive at the house, unload, set things up and have my babysitter/assistant arrive to help me out. And it just happened to be my dear friend/helper who can now say she’s cared for ALL of my babies at births over the years. Beth did a great job of playing with Talitha, taking her outside for a walk when she was fussy, and acting as my second set of hands at the same time.

Beth entertaining Talitha

Beth entertaining Talitha

It felt like an answer to prayer, then, when my baby slept in the new  baby’s nursery during the birth itself, and for the hour after. She even sat in her Bumbo while we finished cleaning up! With the exception of crying while the mama was in transition (this was when Beth took her for a walk!), she did really well. This made me figure that maybe this whole thing of bringing a baby along wouldn’t be so challenging after all…

Until the next birth! It was that evening that I realized that my baby girl does not appreciate Chipotle’s spicy chicken. I already knew that dairy products caused her stomach to protest, so I had forgone any cheese and sr. cream on my burrito the night before. But the chicken must have been too much. This time, a good friend from my church was along to help babysit, and provide any additional help we might need at the birth. All was well when we arrived, but as the evening wore on, Talitha protested everything…nursing…sleep, you name it. Lynelle ended up walking her up and down the road, and finally baby calmed down and went to sleep. But once she was down, she awoke for her usual night feeding, and blissfully slept through the birth and ensuing clean up. The biggest challenge, then, was getting home when it was her usual time to get up, and now mama wanted to sleep!

Fast forward several busy weeks…by this point, I had two mamas that could technically go anytime. And then at the last minute, I ended up taking over care for another friend, as her midwife had a planned trip out of town (planned well in advance-the hope was that this baby would arrive before she left!), and her baby had decided to take her own sweet time to arrive. Wouldn’t you know, the day this baby decided to come, all of my back-up helpers were either out of town or busy…and my own family was in the middle of helping to host a youth group of 20 from OH, as well as prepare for a big open house that the ministry my husband works for was hosting that evening. Timing can be amazing sometimes! 🙂 It’s also amazing, though, how God can work out all the details…a friend helped

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Amy & Talitha

with my older children so my husband could finish his projects for the day, and one of the youth group girls graciously consented to being pulled into a totally unexpected job. Amy ended up not only caring for my baby, but also caring for the laboring mama’s older toddler, as well. The baby came in the middle of the afternoon, once again finding Talitha sleeping during the birth, and we made it back to the open house that evening just as they were ready to ask the blessing on the meal.

I had a couple of weeks to wait, then, as the next babies weren’t in any hurry to come. In fact, I had pretty much given up on being at either of them, as we had planned to be out of town for a weekend (again, this was planned before these mamas started care), and with both of the babies still inside, I figured the chances were slim that they would both wait on my return. But when we returned home from our little trip, both babies were still waiting! The amazing thing was that they also waited until after the following afternoon, when our church was having an ordination that my husband was part of…I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if I had received a call during that time! That evening, after a big, busy day in which Talitha missed a good nap, I got a call-and we decided that this time I should leave her home sleeping (she had just gone down), and hope that either I would be home by the time she got up, or else we’d figure out a plan B. I went on out, and after awhile realized I wasn’t going to be home to feed her, so my babysitter went by my home and brought Talitha to me, around 2am! She looked rather puzzled when she arrived, but after taking everything in, she nursed and went down for a good nap, waking once and needing some attention.

waiting patiently for mommy to finish paperwork

waiting patiently for mommy to finish paperwork

We went on to have a baby, and soon after I got another call-this time from the other mama. Things were happening fast, so after checking things over again, I left my newly-delivered mama in the hands of my assistant Gretchen, pulled Talitha out of bed and tucked her into her carseat, and raced across town. By the time I reached this home, I knew things were moving quickly, and since Talitha was sleeping, she just stayed in her carseat while I went in and joined my assistant (Lynelle) for the birth, which took place within half an hour of my arrival! Once Talitha awoke (about an hour later!), Lynelle brought her in and she was happy as a lark, and she did well the rest of the morning as we returned to the first mama and completed another appointment before we got home.

But the next birth was not so rosy from Talitha’s perspective…I had hoped that if things happened in the night, I could just let her sleep. My usual babysitter was unavailable, and after calling around, I found a friend who was willing to help out, and she brought Talitha to me when it was time for her to eat. Teething was in full force, and my little girlie was not a happy camper. I honestly don’t know what I would have done with out Heidi, who patiently walked her around the neighborhood until she went to sleep…

The last two births of the summer took place about a week apart, and both ended up being similar stories…both took place at some time during the night, both places Talitha protested being put to bed (I have a travel pack n play that would always take with me), and both times once she finished protesting, she went to sleep and was fine.

Sleeping peacefully in her bed

Sleeping peacefully in her bed

So thus ended the adventures of Talitha joining mommy at births!
As a general rule, I only take on 2 clients per month, as I find more than that very stretching…partly due to demands on family time, partly to the difficulty in sleeping after a birth when you have little ones at home, and partly because I want to enjoy being a mom besides being a midwife. 🙂 So doing 8 births in 3 months time was a record since I’ve been combining midwifery with family life. My husband and I marvel as we look over the summer…there were so many other things going on, besides these births, and yet we’re amazed at the way God directed and orchestrated these events. There is a dear older midwife around here that tells me God always sIMG_0031eems to work things out in a perfect way…if I could just learn that from the get-go, it would eliminate alot of stress in my life! But this is a little picture of how things came together this summer, from just one perspective-that of having a nursing baby. Now that my baby is getting older, it will hardly happen anymore. On one hand, it looks much easier to not have that additional unpredictable factor included at births-and on the other hand, I’m going to miss my little buddy!

Announcing our new arrival…

Baby Talitha joined our family on Feb. 18th, born at home, and weighing in at almost 9#! We are thoroughly enjoying her, and this explains why I may not have responded to your emails or other communication if you’ve tried to get in touch with me recently. More details regarding her birth will be shared eventually, once I have a chance to process everything, recover, and become a bit more accustomed to life with three little ones. 🙂

For now, here’s some pictures of our sweetheart:

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Sisters meeting for the first time…midwife getting ready to perform the newborn exam

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Happy siblings!

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2 days old…

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Sleeping peacefully all wrapped up

We love her!

We love her!

Pictures from the “Office Project”

Today I’m taking a break from educational and informative posts…I finally had a chance to take some pictures of my newly finished office, and thought it would be fun to let you all take a peek! When we moved into this house, I was excited about one room that had built in counters and cabinets, plus a little desk that faced a window. The room had alot of potential, but it also badly needed lots of work and paint! It was one of the big projects that my husband and I tackled this winter, and as usual, it took longer than what I was anticipating. 🙂 But now that it is finished, we are both really pleased with the results! So here’s a little peek, along with an updated family picture that my sister took this weekend…

My favorite corner-it's perfect for studying, sewing, paperwork and so many other things!

My favorite corner-it’s perfect for studying, sewing, paperwork and so many other things!

The lovely tree that my mom painted while she was here visiting

The lovely tree that my mom painted while she was here visiting

 

The "baby wall" with many pictures of babies that I've either delivered or given care to

The “baby wall” with many pictures of babies that I’ve either delivered or given care to

 

The beautiful exam table that we just purchased...it even matches the color scheme!

The beautiful exam table that we just purchased…it even matches the color scheme!

 

More of the "tree wall"-the angles in this room make it hard to get good pictures

More of the “tree wall”-the angles in this room make it hard to get good pictures

 

Another side of the room

Another side of the room

 

Our little family - April 2014

Our little family – April 2014