It’s hard to believe another year is almost completed! As we head towards the New Year, I wanted to take a few minutes to update you all on happenings here at Gentle Delivery, as well as thank each of you for your continued support. Whether it’s returning clients, new clients, supportive local services (lactation consultants, medical teams, ultrasound technicians, etc.), back-up midwives, students or assistants, I am blessed to be part of the local midwifery community, and I’ve been grateful to see the way this community works together!
So far in 2022 I’ve been privileged to assist in welcoming 15 babies, most of whom were little girls. Several of these were born to first-time mamas, and once again I was amazed, humbled and stretched throughout the experiences of assisting these families with the unique challenges and victories that accompany the unknown journey of becoming parents for the first time. Besides the first time babies, the rest ranged from being sibling #2 to sibling #8 for their families, and I had the special privilege of attending 3 moms for the 3rd time. Seeing children that I remember catching as tiny babies become big siblings is a fun perk that comes from providing ongoing care for client families! The smallest baby this year was 6# 4oz, and so far 8# 14oz was the biggest, with one more baby pending who could change these statistics!
The teamwork of our community stood out to me in greater ways throughout the pregnancies and births this past year. Over and over again I have been thankful for good working relationships both with other midwives and the medical community—which is such a key factor for providing sustainable, safe midwifery care options. There were times this year where additional medical help was needed in order to provide us with the ultimate goal of having a healthy mom & baby, which made me especially grateful for several MFM’s and CNM’s willing to provide consultations, input & care for clients as well as for a welcoming hospital environment when complications necessitated a transfer of care. Along the lines of providing good care options, it was exciting to add the services of a diagnostic ultrasound tech who has been able to regularly perform scans right in my office!
Birth teams have varied this year depending on availability of different assistants & midwives, but each one of these ladies have added to the birth experiences and help me in so many different ways, bringing their own special support and care to births. There are many behind-the-scenes details that these women take care of, besides their willingness to drop whatever they have going on to come help me in any way they can at any hour of the day or night, and I couldn’t continue to provide midwifery services without them! Due to a family emergency for one local midwife, I ended up covering at various times for her over the year, and catching several babies while she needed to be out-of-state. While I know it can be disappointing to not have your expected team for your birth, it was also a blessing for these families to still be able to continue with their homebirth plans despite the need for the original midwife to attend to important family needs. Along similar lines, I was very thankful for midwives willing to cover for me so that I could spend a few weekends away with my family, both for vacation and a family wedding. The strain of on-call life is challenging (especially with young children!), and being able to rest knowing that your clients are in competent hands while you take a break is a huge factor in maintaining a sustainable midwifery practice!
In closing, I also wish to express my thankfulness to my supportive family. The way they pray for me when I’m at births, pick up the slack when mama needs to rest or is away, and adjust their lives and schedule is such a vital part of midwifery work, and it really is a family effort. Also, I realize that none of this could happen without God’s continued blessing, provision and care. As we head into 2023, my children are very excited about the addition of a baby sister arriving in early spring, Lord-willing. I’ll be taking a few months off for maternity leave, and trying to put into practice the things I tell all of you about rest and recovery postpartum! Blessings to each of you in the New Year!
As I think back over this past year, it is with a sense of gratefulness for the ways that God has led, protected and provided. 2021 has included more complications, challenges and adrenaline rushes than I’ve ever had in one year’s time since I began practicing as a midwife 12 years ago! The additional gray hairs accumulated over the months prove this, and I am ending the year feeling like I’ve gained a level of experience that I honestly wouldn’t have minded doing without. However, I’ve also been reminded that this is WHY a midwife takes training seriously, and I’m more committed than ever to doing my best to assist families in safe births, even when at times this requires a different birth location than what we had hoped for, or more invasive assistance than what I prefer to provide.
Besides being the most intense year complication-wise and the most stressful year when it comes to constant changes & research due to the ever-changing Covid landscape, it was also my busiest year baby-wise! I had the honor of helping to welcome 6 girls and 11 boys by the time the last December babies arrived. Weight ranges were fairly average: smallest was 6#8oz and the biggest was 9#9oz. While a couple of little ones came a week or two early, most typically went on the later side with two babies waiting until 13 days past their due date. Three babies made child #6 for their families, and two boys were the first ones for their families. While there were several long labors and many hours spent with a family before the birth, one little guy was in a big enough hurry that he made his appearance in his home before I did! As usual, birth always has an element of surprise that keeps us all on our toes.
I was blessed to work with several great assistants this year! These ladies really help to lift my load, and add a lot to our team. After assisting with births throughout the past 6 years, Lynelle is sensing a need to step back for a time, so she won’t be seen as frequently in the next year. Lanna began helping this spring at the height of our busy season, and has been such a blessing! She will continue to assist as her schedule allows, and there’s the potential of another assistant joining the team in the near future. I’ve also been grateful for the continued help of the midwifery community here in central PA: other assistants and midwives have been willing to fill in as needed, and I’m thankful to have had help available whenever I’ve needed an extra set of hands or someone to cover for a trip or emergency. I was especially thankful for RoseMarie’s willingness to cover for me this fall when our family had COVID, and I was thankful for the baby who so beautifully cooperated in waiting to arrive until I was recovered and my family was past quarantine!
On the home front, my little family is growing and doing well! In spite of lots of babies and the craziness this adds to our calendar, we were thankful to get to spend some time camping over the summer, as well as taking a family trip to Mexico to visit missionaries serving with the organization my husband works for. I couldn’t serve as a midwife without the amazing support of my husband Joel, who graciously steps in to care for everyone when mama disappears at a moment’s notice. With children ranging in age from almost 2 to 10, life at home is always exciting and active, and my girls can’t wait until THEY are old enough to “help mama at births”.
A big thank you to each one of you who have trusted me to support you as you navigated your pregnancies and deliveries—it is something I count a privilege and honor! I love to hear from families, so please feel free to send an update and picture when you have a chance!
Many blessings as you head into the New Year,
Kelsey Martin & Gentle Delivery Midwifery Services
Be sure to check out the blog and Facebook page to stay updated on current news, helpful information, health suggestions, birth stories, and announcement of special events such as playdates!
As we enter into the Christmas season again, I have to think about the year we were anticipating our own Christmas baby, and what a delightful time of year it was to cozy up inside with a newborn! Our little Tirzah had quite the dramatic entrance into the world, and it almost makes me laugh every time I recount it…
By the time I was expecting my fifth baby, I knew to expect lots of contractions and discomfort, and this pregnancy was no exception. Thankfully my blood pressure was staying within normal limits, and everything else was proceeding smoothly. But after several nights with contractions and signs that labor could be imminent, I was getting TIRED. Once you loose that much sleep and feel heavy and uncomfortable all the time, you start to wonder how on earth you are going to make it through labor yet! One night I was pretty sure it was the “real deal”, after being up for hours with regular contractions, only to find everything stopped once the birth team was here and the pool was filled! Funny that it took the fifth child to experience that “false run”, but after not calling the midwife soon enough last time, we were trying to not repeat that scenario—only to send everyone home after a couple of hours!
My previous baby had come after an extremely intense labor, and I was trying hard to not allow fear to overcome my anticipation of this birth. Lynelle, my good friend and birth assistant, had told me that I really should try the birth pool this time around, and even offered to take care of all the set up and prep to make that happen. So we had set up the pool in the office, and had everything ready to go, and I was really hopeful that it would make a difference in the intensity, especially at the end.
Fast forward a couple of days: after getting a good night’s sleep, I woke up on Saturday feeling like this baby needed to be encouraged to come. I’ve taken Castor Oil before, but every time I thought about that option it made me want to puke. So I figured there had to be an alternative: enter the Midwives Brew! I had read about this recipe (used often by European Midwives), but had always figured that the small amount of castor oil combined with the other strange ingredients wouldn’t actually be effective. But by this point I was willing to at least TRY it and see! My husband was on board (he was ready to see me up at night nursing a baby instead of up at night with contractions!), but I warned him that I really didn’t think it would work.
Mid-morning, I took my youngest for a little “mommy date”, and we headed to Wegman’s for a few groceries and the ingredients for the brew (see this post to find out what those are!). I had fun picking out a few things that I thought would sound good to eat or drink IF I was in labor later on, and we had a pleasant little outing. Once I returned home it was about lunch time, so while Joel fixed lunch, I blended up the brew, and sipped it down before eating a little lunch. While not the best flavor I’ve ever tasted, it wasn’t nearly as bad as downing large amounts of castor oil in juice!! My stomach felt a little funny, but eating some food and then chewing some gum seemed to settle things.
This was the weekend that one of our little local Victorian towns always holds an event called “A Victorian Christmas”. That event combined with the opening of an exhibit of an Underground Railroad station in one of the museums there had made me want to take the children out for awhile if we were still waiting on a baby over that time. Since Joel had a Bible Study planned at our house for the afternoon, it felt like a great opportunity to take out the older children for some educational distraction and let me get a chance to think about something other than baby waiting! Since all I had been experiencing for two hours was some minor stomach discomfort, I decided to head out around 2:30pm, despite my husband’s slight misgivings. Laughingly I joked with him that if I called him he’d better answer the phone, as it might mean I needed him to come pick me up!
Bellefonte is about 10 min from our house, and we parked and went through the historical museum, only to find out that it did not contain the Underground Railroad Exhibit like I had thought. The curator pointed us up the road about half a block to the right museum, and the children and I headed that direction. Right as we hit the steps (around 3:30pm), I felt a slight “pop” and had a thought that perhaps my water had broken. But I wasn’t sure, and decided since we were RIGHT THERE we might as well go in. I felt a bit of dismay when the museum volunteer cheerily told us that the exhibit was on the top floor…UP THREE FLIGHTS OF STAIRS!! We started up the stairs when I felt my first real contraction, and I immediately thought that we’d better not stay long. The children were oblivious, of course, and thoroughly enjoyed exploring, while I tried to act like nothing was amiss as the contractions quickly started getting stronger and harder. I hurried them through the exhibit and back down the stairs, stopping briefly in the bathroom where I confirmed that indeed my water had broken. As we headed outside, my children excitedly discussed the next place we would go…and I seriously informed them that we needed to get home NOW. They looked at me puzzled, and I told them I thought baby sister was going to be coming, to which my 6 year old son replied “how do you know? Your water hasn’t broken yet, has it?”. That made me laugh in spite of the situation, and when I told him it HAD, they all got really serious!
The half-block walk back to the car seemed to take forever, as the contractions were definitely picking up in speed and intensity. Once we pulled out and started on the road, I called Joel. The first time he didn’t answer, but then when the phone rang the second time he figured he’d better pick up! I told him that labor had begun, and to please have all the Bible study men out of the house by the time I got home and figure out where the boys were supposed to go…and to pray I could drive home safely! Next I called my friend Lynelle, as I knew that she would need to get a babysitter for her children, and I really wanted her free to get the pool started if things continued. Once I was finished with this phone call I knew I couldn’t make any more calls and drive, as things were just too intense. It was all I could do to stay focused on driving! I kept praying a policeman wouldn’t pull me over, as I had no bandwidth to explain why I was headed home instead of to the hospital!
I reached home, and our friend Daniel had his van running so he could pull out with the boys as soon as I arrived with Matthias. I pulled in the garage around 4:20, and had a massive contraction that made me unable to even get out of the vehicle. I heard Joel on the phone—he had called our midwife to see if I had called her yet (I hadn’t!! She was next, but I couldn’t make another call after I talked with Lynelle!), and she said she’d be on her way. I still remember running inside to the bathroom, trying to focus on relaxing, and coming to grips with the fact that at this rate I would not be having a water birth, then Joel calling through the door “the pool is warm and half way filled if you want to get in!!” He had so sweetly started filling the pool, turning on the music, and getting things ready the minute I called home! I told him he’d better call Lynelle and Priscilla (our friend who was going to come help with our girls and take pictures), and they’d better hurry, and I still remember the relief of settling into the warm pool.
Once I got in the water, the intensity and closeness of the contractions subsided, and I had a chance in between to catch up Joel on all that had transpired. Lynelle and Priscilla don’t live far, and arrived within a few minutes, and I still remember us all laughing in between contractions as the craziness of how fast things were happening! It wasn’t long before I felt the pressure of Tirzah’s head descending, and Lynelle was ready to help in anyway she could. Priscilla called our girls in, and they all clustered around the pool, quiet with excitement and anticipation. This time around I didn’t want anyone to touch me (other than squeezing Joel’s hand!), and I have never experienced the awareness during pushing as I did with this birth. It was an incredible experience to actually breathe her out and catch her myself—something I don’t think I could have done without the help of the water! I pulled her up to my chest, she cried right away, and we settled back in the warm water, both amazed at all that had happened. It was 4:42pm, only 20 minutes after I had arrived home!!
My girls were so delighted to help welcome their little sister, and their eyes shown as they stroked her head, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to sit back and relax and catch my breath. Being in the warm water seemed to decrease my usual after-birth shakes, and we had a long chance to connect and rest. Rose Marie arrived about 20 min later, and since I hadn’t delivered the placenta yet, daddy and the girls took baby sister to the other room while I transitioned to the birth stool where the placenta came easily. I was feeling good enough (and minimal blood loss!) that I showered quickly, and then cozied up on the couch while our midwife and friends did all the baby checks, and Joel popped a pizza into the oven. Eventually Priscilla went to bring the boys home to meet their sister, and we had a lovely evening rejoicing in our new gift. I had never had a daytime baby, and I couldn’t believe how good I felt and how I was hardly even tired! After everyone had some supper and everything was cleaned up and taken care of, I took our new baby upstairs, and we cuddled up together for the night-so thankful for the amazing experience, and still in a bit of unbelief!
For clients of Gentle Delivery, you know that routine Group B Strep testing is offered to every expectant mom in accordance with the ACOG standards of care. While the pros and cons of testing and subsequent treatment plans are discussed in detail elsewhere, the purpose of this post is to help you to minimize your risk of developing Group B Strep colonization during pregnancy, thus promoting better health for you and baby (and increasing your chances of obtaining a negative test result!).
If you are interested in researching Group B Strep info, I’d strongly encourage you to read Aviva Romm’s article: Group B Strep in Pregnancy: What’s a Mom to do? You’ll find clear explanations of GBS, risks and benefits of antibiotic treatment, and tips on promoting health. This post by Wellness Mama also includes further links for study along with Katie’s suggestions for avoiding GBS colonization with natural methods: How I Avoided GBS Naturally And finally, this article provides a few other options to consider while making decisions on prevention and treatment: Decrease Your Chances of GBS
As a practicing CPM in a state that does not offer licensure, I am currently unable to offer IV antibiotic treatment to GBS+ clients. This increases my desire to do all I can to help support a mom’s immune system and decrease the possibility of a GBS+ test result, as it greatly simplifies the care protocols and necessary decision making for clients and their families!
So here are the primary suggestions for making your vaginal flora inhospitable to Group B Strep:
High Quality Probiotics (if not started early on in pregnancy, then beginning at 28-32 weeks orally, adding vaginal support at 32-34 weeks)
“Many species of Lactobacillus have been shown to be beneficial to the vaginal flora; Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosis are species known to be especially helpful for supporting healthy vaginal (and bladder) flora, while these and others, including L crispatus and L. salivarius strains, have been shown to to inhibit the growth of vaginal pathogens including Gardnerella vaginalis and Candida albicans, and also reducing the frequency of bladder infections in addition to vaginal infection.
In one study, 110 pregnant women at 35-37 weeks of gestation who were diagnosed by GBS culture as being GBS positive for both vaginal and rectal GBS colonization were randomly assigned to be orally treated with two placebo capsules or two probiotic capsules (containing L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri ) before bedtime until delivery. All women were tested for vaginal and rectal GBS colonization again by GBS culture on admission for delivery. Of the 99 who completed the study (49 in the probiotic group and 50 in the placebo group), the GBS colonization results changed from positive to negative in 21 women in the probiotic group (42.9%) and in nine women in the placebo group (18.0%) during this period. The researchers concluded that an oral probiotic containing L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri could reduce the vaginal and rectal GBS colonization rate in pregnant women.
In another study involving 57 healthy pregnant women, L. salivarus was taken daily by the 25 GBS positive women in the group from weeks 26 to 38 of pregnancy. At the end of the trial (week 38), 72% and 68% of the women were GBS-negative in the rectal and vaginal samples, respectively. The researchers concluded that this seemed to be an efficient method to reduce the number of GBS-positive women during pregnancy, decreasing the number of women receiving antibiotic treatment during labor and birth.” (copied from Aviva Romm’s article here)
In light of these studies, and knowing that probiotics are vitally important to the health of both mom and infant for a variety of reasons, supplementing regularly with probiotics during pregnancy can be beneficial in more ways than one. For GBS specific support, it’s recommended that you begin supplementing orally at 28-32 weeks (though earlier is even better!), and then increasing your oral dosage and consider using a probiotic vaginally for at least 2-4 weeks before your Group B Strep test (and then continue the oral support through the rest of your pregnancy).
As you shop for probiotics, pay attention to the different strains it includes, as not all probiotics are created equal, and they will be most effective against GBS strains if it includes L. Rhamnosus, L. Reuteri and L. Salivarus.
Some brand suggestions that other midwives have given me are:
Eating a diet high in fermented foods/drinks (kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, etc.) help to promote a healthy gut flora.
Eliminating sugar and simple carbs are also effective in promoting beneficial gut flora.
Add 1-2 tbl of coconut oil into your daily diet for it’s antibiotic properties, specifically in the few weeks prior to testing.
Apple Cider Vinegar consumed daily or in capsule form may be helpful.
Consuming 1000-2000mg of high quality vitamin C daily (in divided does) can help to increase your body’s immune response, which makes it more difficult for unhealthy microorganisms to grow. You can begin this regimen around 30 weeks.
Garlic/Allicin (active component of garlic)
Garlic has been used as an antimicrobial agent for generations, and for good reason. However, high doses of garlic can cause blood thinning, so I don’t recommend staying on high doses of garlic or allicin after obtaining your GBS test. But it is a treatment to consider to reduce the possibility of GBS colonization before getting tested. Currently there is a midwife practice conducting a study where participants are instructed to use Allicin Gel 2x daily for 12-14 days along with ingesting 180mg of Allicin capsules 2x daily for 12-14 days prior to testing. The basis for this study is from a preliminary study done in 2009 where Allicin was shown to reduce the possibility of early rupture of membranes and chorioamnionitis, both of which can be complications of GBS infection. Other methods of using garlic include: taking garlic capsules daily, consume raw garlic daily, and/or insert a raw garlic clove vaginally at night before going to bed.
While we still have a lot to learn about Group B Strep (how exactly it is transmitted, best ways to treat it, and how to prevent it from the beginning), and while there still seem to be a few moms who naturally carry Group B Strep bacteria in their vaginal tract no matter what they try to do about it (antibiotic or otherwise!), one of the benefits of utilizing these suggestions is that they promote health for mom and baby regardless of the GBS presence (or lack thereof). While obtaining a negative Group B Strep test does eliminate a certain amount of worry, risk and decisions, the benefit to your body of increasing the good bacteria and gut flora through healthy foods, probiotic supplementation and other factors may provide long-term benefits that you will see later on. I’d highly encourage every pregnant mom to consider these suggestions, and wish each of you a healthy and safe pregnancy and birth!
I’d also love to hear: did you try any of these prevention methods? How did it affect you and your GBS status? Did you test positive in one pregnancy and then negative in another? What was most beneficial for you?
If you’ve followed my blog for long, you’ll know that tongue & lip ties and nursing challenges are a passion of mine, especially after having experienced challenges with all of these factors with several of my own children. I’ve also been in contact with many moms who are struggling with nursing issues or fussy babies, and so many times there is a connection to either a tongue or lip tie (or both!). Recently, a mom shared her story in a Facebook Group for Moms that I’m part of. Her story touches on so many of the factors that I have seen and/or experienced, that I contacted her and asked for her permission to share her post with you all. I am so grateful, as Tanisha covers many factors to consider in her story, and I think it will be beneficial for many moms who might be struggling. If you are struggling with nursing issues, I really want to encourage you that you aren’t alone, and that there are answers out there!! And if you resonate with this story, I would love to hear about your experiences! It can help other moms when they can hear first-hand what worked for others in similar situations.
Now on to our guest post, written earlier this year by Tanisha Gingerich:
**Shared by the author’s permission**
I thought I’d make a post for whoever it might concern, about our journey sofar with tongue and lip ties. They are becoming increasingly common it seems, and I thought sharing my experience might be a good way to bring awareness so that any other moms going thru something similar can benefit from (or add to) what I’ve been learning.
A week post partum, I was scabbed from nursing, and in a lot of pain every time I fed Micoma. She was gaining well, so we probably could have made it work (a lactation consultant can help you and baby work past a multitude of feeding problems), but I knew from experience that although I could “make it work,” my milk supply was going to tank around 4-6 months. Ties can also cause speech, dental, and sleep issues down the road, along with a host of other problems.
So in the interest of short-term pain for the long-term good, I took Micoma in at a week old for a consultation and ended up getting her lip and tongue ties lasered right away so we could begin the healing and retraining process as soon as possible before bad nursing habits were formed.
I cried and prayed over her before they did the 3 minute procedure, and sobbed compulsively while they swaddled her and used a laser to cut the ties open. The woman doing the procedure was a mom too, and was so compassionate and kind with Micoma. Then they left us alone in a cozy room to nurse, and I heaved more sobs as I comforted my baby. Being able to hold and nurse her was probably just as healing for me as it was for her.
Her latch was instantly better. Over the next few days I had to continually remind myself of the long term good, as I did stretches on her wounds. To my relief, the stretches were done in under 30 seconds, and Micoma always recovered quickly… I soon realized she was screaming louder over getting her diaper changed than she was over the oral invasion, so that made me feel better. I told her all the time how brave she was, and gave her every comfort to guide her through the rough patch.
That first week dragged on for me. I hated having to keep stretches in my mind every 4-6 hours even thru the night—got kind of sick with dread thinking about it. I kept Micoma on Tylenol the first 2 days, and again on day 4 when there was a flare up of discomfort. Other than that though, she continued to eat and sleep very normally (not everyone has it so easy, some babies will hardly eat for a day or two, and cry all the time. Thankfully Micoma nursed for comfort, and seemed to tolerate gracefully any discomfort she was feeling). At one week we had a follow up appointment and they said everything was healing well and there was no reattachment. I was so relieved.
By the second week all was routine, and the scars were nearly healed up. Sometimes she wouldn’t even wake up when I did the stretches so I knew they weren’t painful. Currently we have just passed the 3 week mark, which means I can de-escalate the stretches rapidly and they will disappear in a few days. Hooray! One hurdle over. Now on to the next. I had a lactation consultant come at week 3, to help me teach Micoma new nursing/sucking habits. I learned so much!
First of all, babies begin practicing how to suck from week 12 in utero. This is how they build the oral strength they need for nursing. Unfortunately, when a part of their tongue is tied down, they are unable to fully lift and tone those muscles. When they are born and begin nursing, the restrictions to their lip and or/tongue, make it hard or impossible for them to latch correctly or suck efficiently. As a result, nursing is laborious for them. You may hear a “clicking” noise or notice milk dribbling out the sides of their mouth, these are telltale signs. They frequently fall asleep while nursing, just from the strain it, and are unable to properly empty the breast. This can obviously cause low-weight issues, milk supply issues, and severe frustration to the baby. The baby will often resort to chomping or some other measure in an attempt to get milk, resulting it a lot of discomfort or pain for the mom.
But even after ties are released, there is still some work to do. Baby’s latch will probably be better right away, but you’ll need to help hertone her oral muscles and relearn how to suck correctly with the new range of motion in her mouth. I was given a series of simple tongue exercises to do with Micoma every day… they are more like games, and activate her reflexes to get her tongue moving, especially in the places she’s not used to lifting it.
Now, to back up a bit, there are two kinds of ties—lip ties and tongue ties. I’ve also heard of buchal ties (cheeks) but know very little about them at this point. A lip tie is easiest to spot (example of one in comments) and if a lip tie is present, a tongue tie is almost always present too—they tend to go hand in hand. Keep in mind that some care providers are not trained to look for *posterior* tongue ties (these are in the back of the mouth and not as obvious as anterior ones), so those often get missed. Ties vary in severity (where they are attached and how drastically they are affecting function of the lip/tongue. Sometimes it may be negligible).
Next thing I learned, tongue tied babies are notoriously “tight.” The tongue sits at the very top of the spine, and if there are restrictions in the tongue, you will see restrictions all the way down through the body. Sure enough, Micoma is very tight in her shoulder/neck area, has over compensated for it in her lower back, and has tight hips. Once again, I was given a series of simple rhythmic motions and stretches to loosen those areas up and bring everything into alignment. She has a bit of a “C” shape curve when she lies down, that’s another common sign of tongue-tie related tightness. (Pic in comments) I wish I would have known this with my oldest daughter Verona. She was incredibly C-shaped, and these stretches would have loosened up her uncomfortably tight muscles.
Looking back, both of my children before Micoma had ties of some kind. I always had to use a nipple shield with Verona, and I remember Benny getting so angry when I nursed him. My supply going down around 4 months was another telltale sign. Both children despised tummy time, which was most likely because of how tight they were in their neck and lower back. I suspect “ties” is some of why they slept so poorly and aggravated colic symptoms early on… In-efficient nursing brings more air into the stomach and causes gas discomfort/excessive spitting up. And in a very strange twist of fate, if the tongue cannot reach up to the top of the pallet and rest there while sleeping, the top of the mouth becomes domed, crowding teeth and restricting airway. This can lead to mouth breathing, sleep apnea, and dental issues.
Verona’s lip tie comes all the way down between her teeth, which is why she has a gap between her front teeth. Neither of the children seem to be having difficulty eating, speaking, or maintaining good dental hygiene and structure other than that. So I’ll just keep an eye on them, and only resort to doing anything about theirs at this point if I see it’s going to cause them major problems down the road. But I do grieve the suffering we all went thru with months of screaming colicky baby, and the eventual loss of breastfeeding bond. That pain far surpasses whatever me and Micoma went through the last month in laser-correction and recovery.
So for that reason, I would support moms in pursuing tie-releases if you feel it would be beneficial for your baby. As with everything child-related, there is controversy surrounding the issue—whether ties are really a thing, whether they’re a big deal, clipping or lasering, stretches or no stretches. In my case, I saw enough consequences in my last 2 children that I was willing to believe ties affect quality of life enough to warrant a minor surgery. Lasering has a lower rate of re-attachment and requires no stitches, so I went that route. And the stretches I did because Micoma tolerated them well and I was determined not to let the fibers re-attach while they were healing… and I grilled my caretaker about whether it was necessary, and she says she does see a fairly high rate of reattachment if stretches are not done. Albeit, I did the bare minimum I thought I could be get by with, and with good results. That was my story, you get to write your own. Decide what’s best for your child, whether that’s therapy to work past a tie, or a surgery to correct it, or whatever and don’t let people throw a lot of shame or fear onto you for it.
Currently I am pumping a few times a day and using an SNS (supplemental nursing system) several times a day to stimulate my supply and simultaneously get Micoma the extra food she sometimes can’t get herself. I’ll keep working with Micoma’s body and tongue to get everything loosened up and toned… hopefully within a month we’ll be at a place where she can keep my supply up on her own. In the mean time we’re not goning to go many places this month, just stay home and focus on the task at hand.
Many people take their children to chiropractors pre and/or post tie release for body work. It helps with nursing if your baby is aligned properly. For the time being, since I have bodywork I can do at home with her, I am skipping that… see if I can get by without it. Cranial Sacral therapy is another thing highly recommended… I don’t know, it could possibly be a legitimate thing with babies since their skulls are still un-fused and somewhat mobile, but I have heard of enough occultist ties connected to this practice done in adults that I plan to avoid it all together.
This post was not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. It’s my personal story and some things I learned along the way, left here for people to sift thru and take whatever is for them.
If, btw, you decide lasering is the right option for you (and you are local to central PA), I had a good experience with Dr. Katherman in York. Her office felt like such a warm and caring place to me, and she was on call at all hours if I had questions later. Also, do yourself a favor and hire a lactation consultant. You won’t regret it! Do a bit of research first and find one that people you know have had good experiences with (there are a few bad eggs out there). Again, I had a wonderful experience with the one I found, and I’ll link her website for reference.
The cost to get two ties lasered was $750. I am going to turn it into my insurance sharing plan, but I do not know yet if they will cover it. The lactation consultant fee for an hour and a half session was $175. So it is a good chunk of change. But when compared to the potential costs of not doing it, it is a very reasonable investment.
I hope that’s everything. My mind is still kind of whirling from all the things I’m learning, so this was my way of processing it. Hoping it will be helpful to someone else.
P.S. Out of curiosity, I asked both the doctor and lactation consultant if ties have become more common recently or if they’re just being diagnosed more, so we’re more aware of them. They both said ties are becoming increasingly common. I don’t think even my mom’s generation would have seen very many, so this seems to be a rapidly developing problem. Presumably, Western diet and lifestyle as well as the declining quality of foods (grown from nutrient-depleted soils) plays a role. There seems to be evidence to support that lack of folate and other B vitamins in the early stages of embryonic development contributes to ties forming—or the presence of the synthetic B vitamin folic acid commonly in prenatals and fortified foods. And others say there are indications that genetic mutations (the MTHFR gene) play a role. But no definitive studies have been done, that I know of. Everything is speculation at this point. Someone gave me two articles so I’m linking them below. My midwife gave me some resources to dig into and I’m hoping to do more research to see if this plague is avoidable.
I maintain a decently healthy diet and take quality supplements including methylated B vitamins so it’s hard to believe that was the cause of all 3 children having ties. Except that I was under exponential stress the past few years, and as I understand it B vitamins are created in the gut… if you have bad gut health or are under stress, B vitamins do not form well. So that could be a factor. Like I said, I’m going to keep digging and see what answers I can find.
I’m tickled to share these photos with you this month! While birth photography has gained in popularity in many of the large cities across the US, it’s not a very common thing in our area. So it’s pretty rare for one of my client families to hire a photographer to be present at their birth. Earlier this year, I was privileged to help Maria’s family for a second time as they welcomed their newest addition, and they graciously allowed me to post some of the photos from the birth here. One fun & unusual aspect of this birth is that my assistant for this birth and the photographer are both involved with the local doula agency that Maria administrates. Check out the Doulas of Central PA if you are looking for local birth & postpartum doula support! And if you’re looking for a birth photographer, check out Denae at Vigilante Photography
The twinkle lights added a festive atmosphere, and I love seeing how moms relax when they get into the water.
Kristina has been helping as my birth assistant in between her doula babies, and you can see her here jotting down notes on the labor & delivery chart.
First good look at each other!
Older siblings watch excitedly, all excited to see baby brother!
Traditional sling scale to weigh baby…look at big sister’s face of concentration!
Newborn exam…always done within sight of mom and any interested family members!
Checking out feet reflexes and creases!
Foot prints for the records!
Born at Home!
Midwife gets a little chance to snuggle baby before handing him back to mama.
Thanks to each and everyone who helped to make the Celebrating Birth Expo a success! With over 30 different services, care providers and businesses sponsoring the event there was a great variety of information, goodies and prizes! If you attended and have helpful feedback for possible future events, I’d love to hear from you. Here’s a few photos to give you a glimpse into our day:
Some of my fantastic helpers for the day…couldn’t have done it without Beth and Hannah!
Getting everything set up and ready….
Gift bags for each of the attendees to carry their goodies in
My junior helper-she just HAD to attend the Birth Expo, too!
Gentle Delivery’s display and welcome table
The cafe all ready to serve refreshments
Heidi Loomis, CNM giving comments after the film screening
In the auditorium getting ready for the screening of “Why Not Home?”
The Calvary Harvest Fields location was a lovely place to host this event…
Lots of fantastic displays and community interaction!
I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see many of “my” babies, and am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about what our community has to offer new and expectant families. In case you missed it, I’ll post a link to the event page where you can see a list of all the sponsors, along with their contact info and/or websites. If you’re interested in a future event like this, send me an email with your thoughts and comments. Thanks!
So you’ve heard of the advantages of having a doula with you if you’re planning a hospital birth. The positive aspects include such things as: continuous support that doesn’t change shift, possibility of laboring in the comfort of home knowing someone will help you decide when it’s time to go in, someone who can help you and your spouse keep perspective and act as a liaison with the medical staff, a friendly person to call directly with questions during those last days before labor, and the list goes on. All of these things sound good, but if you’re planning a home birth, then you don’t need all this, right?!? You already know who your caregiver will be, you’re staying in your comfy home, your midwife will provide support and perspective, and you can call your midwife directly…which means that a doula is totally unnecessary, correct?!? Well, that’s a question I hear often, and I wanted to take some time to explore how a doula can actually be a great benefit at a homebirth, as well. If you’re trying to decide whether or not you want to add a doula to your birth team, hopefully this post will give you some help, and maybe even answer some of the questions you have.
To get some input on this subject, I contacted several different groups of midwives, doulas and birthworkers, and asked them to tell me from their experience how homebirths could benefit from doula support. Their responses were very helpful, and provided the bases of what I am going to share below.
When it comes down to it, a midwife and doula offer to distinctly different services. While both are attempting to provide women with personalized, professional care, they are coming at it from two different angles. A midwife’s job is to help ensure that mom and baby both maintain the low-risk status. She is concerned with providing a safe, professional and knowledgeable environment to women seeking out-of-hospital births. This means that she must put mom and baby’s safety first-which sometimes means that she will have to stop providing labor support in order to monitor heart tones, for instance. There are also those times when the midwife will need to conserve energy in order to maintain the needed mental and physical alertness needed for the actual delivery, which may mean not being able to constantly apply back pressure for hours on end! For some mamas, especially those who appreciate privacy, a midwife and her assistant may be all that she needs in order to feel supported and cared for, but there are others where this may not feel like enough. As a midwife myself, I seek to provide labor support whenever I can, but I am also always acutely aware of what is going on medically. The role of a doula is that of providing consistent emotional support and physical support. Because she does not have to be responsible for the medical aspects of birth, she is free to focus on helping the couple work together, and helps mom to achieve the space and birth atmosphere that she desires, without distraction.
At a homebirth, a doula can:
Give valuable input and educational support during the prenatal period.
Provide early labor support, and help the couple decide when it’s time to call the midwife to come.
Free dad up to focus on mom by paying attention to other details (like keeping the tub water warm, setting up the bed, changing linens as needed, keeping birth atmosphere tidy, etc.).
Keep mom and dad fed and hydrated.
Help the birth team to remember mom’s preferences-whether it’s the desire for quiet and privacy, or a certain music playing at a certain time, she keeps everyone aware of what mom wants.
Help with comfort measures such as massage, positioning techniques, etc.
Provide positive encouragement about progress and what is happening.
Give mom support during pushing, especially for those families where daddy wants to catch, and mom still needs support by her head that is focused on HER.
Assist with childcare as needed, especially if children are present for the birth.
Help the mom to feel an extra measure of help and support, through extended availability before and after, and checking on mom’s emotional well-being during the initial postpartum period.
Protect and nourish the new family’s space as nursing and bonding are taking place.
A doula is especially beneficial when:
A mom is expecting her first baby or is planning a VBAC. The potential for prodromal labor and/or need for extra physical and emotional support make a doula an especially good choice for these moms! For the same reasons, moms who have a history of long labors may also find a doula an excellent addition to their birth team.
Mom is lacking other support systems. For single moms, or those who have no family or close friends nearby, a doula can be a tremendous asset in providing a consistent, dependable support person during the pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum periods.
When using a very busy midwife, or if your midwife has travel plans over the time you are due. If you know there is a good possibility that you may be using your midwife’s backup, then having a doula whom you have already connected with can help make that a smooth transition, as you won’t have to totally “start over” with your birth team.
If your chosen midwife usually practices solo (without an assistant). In these cases, it may be hard for her to provide consistent labor support, as she will have many responsibilities to stay on top of.
When mom knows that she needs extra hands and extra support. Some moms prefer quiet, privacy and extreme “hands-off” during labor, while other moms know that they would relax better when surrounded by encouragement, positive input, touch, massage, etc.
If you’re planning to have your children present at the birth, and don’t have a specific care-giver for them. This can allow dad to spend time with mom or with the other children, and know that no one is being neglected!
So, to tie all of these comments up, you can see that a doula can be a lovely complement to a planned home birth. The moms who have experienced doula care at a homebirth made comments such as “I wouldn’t do it any other way”, “it was the ultimate support group”, “I gained a trusted friend”, “My doula could be someone my midwives could never be (though my midwives were awesome and perfect for me)…All her energy and focus went to me, she had no other obligations”, “she provided a different perspective”, “the little things made a big difference…her doing things that allowed my partner to stay with me was key”. The midwives who have had doulas present at births say, “Doulas are worth their weight in gold, literally!”, “The women who have both feel SO supported”, “Having a doula…helps to share the load, and each individual has something different to bring to each unique situation”, “Doulas provide a different type of connection”, “I think there are some births where there is plenty of work for many hands…and some where there isn’t”.
All that said, I do want to underline the fact that each mother and each birth is unique. While having a doula can make your birth experience even more special, I totally understand that it is not the choice for everyone. For some mamas a more private, intimate and quiet birth environment with as few people as possible is better. And this is totally okay. It’s one of the beautiful things I appreciate about the option of birthing at home…the birth team can be personalized to suit the preferences of the individual mom. Each mom/couple has to figure out what is right for them, as this is what will enable them to relax and give birth in the best way. The goal of this article is not to make you feel like you HAVE to hire a doula! But for those who have wondered if a doula could be beneficial, my hope is that you now have a better picture of how a doula can fit in to your homebirth plans, and how this option can make a mama feel even more supported.
Did you use a doula for your homebirth? Or have you been a doula at a homebirth? I’d love to hear about it! And if you’re looking for a doula, be sure to check out www.doulamatch.net in order to find out about doulas offering services near you! For those living in central PA, I’d be glad to refer you to some excellent doulas who serve the surrounding areas.
Here is the promised second part to Talitha’s birth story. If you want the background leading up to where this story begins, click here.
By this point in the afternoon, the noise from downstairs was almost constant, as Chris was doing his best to finish the basement project up by evening. Lucy had called telling us that their ETA was around 8pm, and just ecstatic to hear there was a good possibility that she might get to be around to see her nieces’ birth (we had told her before that we would love for her to be there, but also told her not to get her hopes up, as there were still two weeks until the due date. I think she prayed pretty hard!). I think it was around 5 or 6 that I went ahead and took a dose of castor oil, hoping that it might help things move along in order to have a baby by morning. We were just getting ready to sit down for supper around 6:30, when Rose arrived at the door-she thought she’d just come hang out, and check in on us! During supper, she noted that I was having to breathe through contractions pretty consistently, to which I replied that “I can still talk through these so I’m trying not to notice them”. She just smiled. Chris ended up clearing out of the basement around 8pm (Joel finally told him he’d better just clear out-he hardly had time to finish the project after waiting so long to start in the morning!), giving us about 20 min. to sweep, dust, and start getting the bed ready, when Daniel & Lucy arrived at 8:15. Lucy assured me that she could make the bed. By now I was starting to notice the contractions, so I took Rose to see where baby things were, and we talked more about where we were planning to do the birth, etc. We opted to “camp out” on the main floor, as Daniel was going to be banished to the basement, and we were hoping the toddlers would sleep through the birth in their own beds upstairs. One huge blessing of home birth is the ability to be flexible with the birth location! (oh, and we became more flexible as the evening wore on…)
At 9pm, I felt that release of pressure and felt the trickle that made me think my water had broken…and sure enough, the next contraction confirmed that! Now THIS felt like the “real deal”, and I knew I didn’t have much time before needing a place relax free from distraction. I told Joel that it might be a good idea for the children to go to bed (they were still super excited about the arrival of their aunt and uncle), and he caught the drift, and hustled them off to bed. Daniel disappeared, and it didn’t take real long for our living room/fireplace room to be transformed into a birthing room! Joel had borrowed a large air mattress which he set up in front of the wood stove, and Rose & Lucy got all the supplies out and in good order. I found it most comfortable to sit on the ball, as it helped to be able to move and relax at the same time.
I had always dreamed about having lovely music playing while I labored, and during my pregnancy had been very blessed by the “Sleep Sound in Jesus” CD by Micheal Card. Joel so sweetly made sure to put it on, and I can still remember how special it was to meditate on some of those lovely songs between and during contractions. The mood of the room was so peaceful, with the lamps turned low, Rose & Lucy quietly chatting in the corner, Joel holding my hand (and not minding my squeezing him…during labor I DO NOT want to be touched, but I sure need his hand to squeeze!), and these sweet songs filling the air. The one in particular that stood out to both of us was “Even the Darkness is Light To Him”…the lyrics that kept repeating in my mind were “so you are safe as the light grows dim, even the darkness is light to Him…The Father above does not slumber or sleep, He wakefully watches our ways, then there’s no reason for you to weep…would not Jesus safely keep…?” Even though it was intense, it was also amazing to me to feel so at peace and at rest, after so many events, activities, responsibilities, etc. that had taken place those last weeks and months.
Time seems to stand still during labor, or at least you lose all ability to gauge time. I think I spent about 45 min. or so laboring on the ball, and feeling grateful that this time I had a chance between contractions to completely relax and prepare for the next one (so unlike my previous birth!), even though they were coming about every 2-3 minutes. Joel would encourage me, Lucy would ask questions about labor and birth, we’d all chat for a little bit, and then another one would hit. Although I have such peaceful memories, I’m also struck with the fact that I vividly remember thinking “this is the hardest work I have ever done in my LIFE…how on earth can women forget how hard it is to have a baby?!” So there is one perspective on the roller coaster of emotions in labor! Another thing, that when I’m not in labor I can laugh about, but the one piece of instruction that stands out the most to me from all my years of working with other midwives and childbirth educators, the thing I remember is “if your lips are loose then your cervix is too”. I can’t remember who said it, but it sure is practical! For some reason, that is a point I can focus on, trying to keep my face muscles loose, and thinking about how it means everything else is loose and open, too.
Sometime between 10:15-10:30, I all of a sudden wanted to go to the bathroom. Once again, you’d think I’d know, but when Rose asked if I thought it was time to push, I told her that surely things weren’t that far yet, and that I was positive this was just a result of the castor oil. She looked skeptical, but being the sweet midwife that she is, she just said to go ahead. As I moved to the bathroom, Joel left to get something in the kitchen. Once I sat down, I felt one massive contraction coming on, and immediately needed his hand. After several extremely intense back-to-back contractions, there was that massive feeling of pressure, and instant change in tone. At this point, Joel strongly encouraged me to move off the toilet…and I’ll admit that inside I was thinking that that was a totally crazy suggestion…lots of babies are born on the toilet…and how on earth can I move now?!? However, Rose had quietly brought in the birth stool, and when I saw it next to me it looked possible to move, which we did as soon as the next contraction was over. I can honestly say that I don’t find pushing enjoyable…it’s like the last sprint in a long race, and I wonder if I’m going to be able to do it…but within 2-3 contractions, our little Talitha entered this world at 10:46pm. Only 1 hr. and 46 min. after my water broke and active labor started-and the castor oil wasn’t even necessary! She seemed a bit stunned, and took a bit to pink up and really cry…I kept rubbing her over and pinching her toes and telling her to breathe…Rose commented that I sure couldn’t quit being a midwife, could I? Once she gave a good long cry I held her close, and was amazed-she was no little baby, and she had a lovely head of dark hair!
Less than an hour old here, I think!
The remainder of postpartum went well…I moved from the bathroom (seems like births have a habit of happening in the tight, small quarters of the house!) and snuggled into the temporary bed set up in front of the cozy woodstove (that night was one of the coldest we had that winter!), then Rose did the newborn exam. Even with all my determination to grow a smaller baby (her brother had been 9#), and all my attempts to eat a strict diet and exercise regularly, this baby girl weighed 8#15oz, and that at a good 2 weeks early! And no, my dates weren’t off! Big
Yoanna meeting her sister
sister Yoanna got to come down and kiss the baby, and her eyes full of awe were so sweet as she gazed on her little sister. After some food, and an absolutely lovely shower, I was packed off to my own bed upstairs. The ladies had the house looking normal again, Rose headed home (by now the snow had stopped, and the snow plows had gone through), and we enjoyed the pampering of Aunt Lucy for the next 4 days. Having her around to entertain the toddlers, cook meals, clean the house, and take care of all the little details was a tremendous blessing, and another gift from God.
Talitha Shalom means “Little Girl of Peace”, and it’s our prayer that she will embody this name as she grows, and that her life can be filled with God’s peace…just like the night of her birth was!
The children meeting baby the next morning
Three little ones to nurture!
Capturing her expressions
Dear Aunt Lucy and Uncle Daniel!
Less than 24 hours old!
Mama has her hands full!
Talitha with baby E-the one I caught just two days before my birth…this was their first time at church!
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!
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…
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?!).
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 sleepless 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!