Stella June’s Birth Story-June 21, 2014

StellaRusselllAlthough Stella was my second natural/no med birth I did not know what to expect. Things this time around were much different and this was my first homebirth. I began having intense contractions two weeks before I had her. I would think I was going into labor over and over again, but my body was just preparing. Darlene was very patient and calm with my uncertainty, which calmed me. Those days leading up to labor seem so blissful in my memories.

The morning of the day I had her I really wanted to check her heartbeat with the doppler. It seemed she was moving less. Even though I had been in to check on things at Darlene’s office only a couple of days before, at my prenatal exam, Darlene was happy to meet with me to check Stella’s heart rate. She checked us over and everything was good. She also checked to see if I was dilated (by my request) and I was at about a 4. I went about my day as usual.

As the day progressed my contractions continued. They were mild and not yet uncomfortable. They began to get closer and closer together. At around 4:30pm I began to have bloody show. I had an overall feeling of intensity. I was at my mom’s house which is 5 minutes away from where I live. I wanted to go home. We headed home and I contacted Darlene to tell her it was time. I felt certain it was. I took a shower and put on some comfortable clothes. I felt excited and nervous, but in a good way. I was ready to endure labor and meet Stella.

Darlene and Gina arrived shortly. It was almost surreal that the time had come to have my baby and that they were there to deliver her. We talked a little bit and Darlene checked me. I believe I was at a five or six. I put some clary sage essential oil behind my ankles to encourage contractions and went for a walk. I made it one street over and decided I better start heading back quickly. The contractions really started coming on strong. With several stops (because I was unable to walk through the contractions) on the way back, I finally made it home. I was also diffusing clary sage essential oil at the time. So while we were all sort of just hanging out and visiting I went and smelled the diffuser and started having back to back contractions. It got intense for me. I went and sat on my birthing ball.

Things began to get blurry after that. I remember Gina asking me a question and I was unable to focus enough to answer.The only way I know how to describe it is that I was very soul-focused. There was no physical me, I was completely just my soul living in the exact moment experiencing intensity at it’s finest. I used a technique from the book Birthing From Within to try and cope with the painful contractions where I focused on: what I was hearing, what I was seeing, and what I was smelling. It was perfect for that moment.

unnamedDarlene and Gina had set everything up in my living room because that is where I had planned to deliver Stella, but as the time came closer I wanted to birth in my tiny bedroom. I remember going in the bathroom and putting on everything I had planned to birth in. I knew Stella would arrive shortly and regular clothes were just confining. In those moments nothing was a conscious choice, everything just “was”. I put helichrysum and frankincense essential oil on my neck, belly, and heart. I felt safe and taken care of by Darlene and by mother nature. At this point with every contraction someone was applying counter-pressure to my lower back. It helped tremendously.

I moved to the birthing stool at the foot of the bed. I started getting nauseous and feeling like I was ready to push. Darlene checked me and I wasn’t quite dilated all the way yet. I made it through a few more contractions and just felt so ready. I had her check me again, but I still wasn’t dilated completely. I couldn’t stop the urge to push- Darlene trusted me and my body so she assisted Stella a bit. Pushing brought me the most wonderful relief from contractions. I truly felt that Stella and I were both working together on this. Justin held my hand. This part of my labor was beautifully in-explainable.

RussellsThe ring of fire began as Stella’s head emerged. I tried with all that I had to push slowly. I remember saying “I want her out! I want her out!” Everyone reassured me that she was almost out. The rest of her body came out as Darlene caught her. She handed Stella right to me and that was the best moment in my life. There was such a rush of raw, pure, joy as I held my slippery warm baby against my heart. The baby that I carried for nine months was in my arms at last. She was calm, just as her birth was. The moment was immense. She was able to latch on and begin nursing right away, before the cord was even cut.

I began to bleed a little too heavy which was sort of hard to process at the time. Darlene knew exactly what to do and was able to get it under control very quickly, so I could stay focused on my baby. I moved to the bed to lay down and delivered the placenta. About thirty minutes later my 2 yr old son, Nolan, came in to meet Stella for the first time. And then there were four of us.

Birth of Anna

483564_10151326483232792_1445351540_n When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby I initially started seeing an OB. My first two pregnancies I did the same. I had always had the idea of a homebirth in the back of my mind, but being young and having a husband in the military I just did what was “normal”. I had them both in the hospital with an epidural each time. Even an unwanted episiotomy with my first. I remember being in labor with my daughter and specifically telling the doctor that I did not want one and having him tell me that they were standard, and cutting me right then and there. My second was better, we were blessed with a great nurse and an even better doctor. Still, I had an epidural and a typical hospital birth.

We decided on a homebirth for our third for a couple reasons. One, we were now separated from the military and our insurance would be running out half way through our pregnancy.  The cost difference is just crazy. So, we looked at our options. I suggested it to my husband after a discussion with the OB’s billing service. He started googling it right then and there while we waited…once again for our appointment to start. Which brings me to another reason. All my “scheduled” appointments were just the opposite. We waited almost an hour every time we had an appointment. Thirdly, they felt that I was a high risk pregnancy because, during my second pregnancy my son tried to come a little early and I was put on bedrest. I knew that the reason for it was because we had made a move overseas while I was pregnant. Since my husband had to go first without us. I had to travel many times by myself with an 18 month old and I just flat out over did it. So when the Dr at the OB office suggested a cervical cerclage I thought, “Nope! We are done here.”

Anna SophiaDarlene was the first midwife I had ever met. She came to our house and we all fell in love with her. I called the other midwives I had made appointments with and said, Sorry but I found my lady 🙂 She was so informative.  Every question we asked came with an honest answer.  Never just a yes or no but a real answer and most of the time if not all the time she had an example or a story to go along with it. I just loved her. Every appointment was either at our home or her office which was no more than 10 minutes away. We were never rushed. We never waited an hour to see her and she was always there with an answer to any question whether it was in person, email, or text.

On to the night of the birth 🙂

My husband and I had stayed up late that night watching a documentary on Johnny Carson. The one night I chose not to go to bed at a decent hour 🙂  Anyhoo, at around 2:30 a.m. I started to feel what kind of felt like contractions. I wasn’t totally sure since I had been having random contractions for a couple weeks. I tried to lay down to see if they would stop. Well, they didn’t. I texted Darlene at about 3 a.m. She asked if I thought this was it and I said it felt very similar to the beginning of my second birth. So she was on her way 🙂

I forgot to mention that near the end of my pregnancy we moved about 2 hours away. Darlene being the awesome woman she is made the commute for us. My contractions were already about 5-6 minutes apart. I did my best to stay calm and relaxed until she got there. At that point my labor ball was my best friend. I really really wanted to have a water birth so Darlene was bringing her birthing tub with.

Once she got to our house my contractions were pretty much right on top of each other. She came in and was like the take away the labor pain guru. She knew just where to push when a contraction came to almost eliminate the pain. Not long after she had me lay on my side, as a contraction came, she pushed down on those magical spots on my back and Boom! my water broke! For the first time I had felt my water break. What a feeling of relief!! I thought to myself, oh man that felt sooo good. Such relief. I was so excited to have felt that for the first time. It may sound silly but it really made me happy. Darlene goes, “Good, good job. Now it’s going to get a little more intense” I thought to myself, MORE intense?! lol We are already at intense.

406826_10151326482897792_601446198_nSince there was no time to set up the birthing tub Darlene had my husband clean and fill up our bathtub. I loved that bathtub! The warmth of the water seemed to melt away the pain, for a bit. Darlene was right, things got more intense. My contractions seemed to just turn into one big contraction. I did my best to breath through it. I did have a moment at the end when I looked at Darlene and said, “I think I need something”.  She said, “Well lets see where we are.” In that moment I thought to myself, “Okay! We can do this!” After that I decided it was time to push. Once I started pushing I almost felt as if I was not there. I remember the moment yet it was almost as if I was watching it happen. I don’t know if it’s because of the pain a.k.a the ring of fire 🙂 or if it’s because I just let go of any inhibitions. I was no longer quiet. I let it OUT!! and I think it really helped. I could feel my baby girl moving down. I could hear Darlene saying soothing words of encouragement while my husband was right there ready for our Anna to make her entrance. Her head was out! and Chris, my husband, checked to make sure the cord was not wrapped around her neck. She was good 🙂 So I bore down and pushed hard one last time. I felt her shoulders pass and then the rest of her body and she was here!! My husband caught her and I reached down and put her on my chest. She was perfect 🙂 The pain was gone and she was here. There was just a HUGE feeling of relief. I’ve never felt such a feeling of bliss. I did it!! Darlene gave us a towel and Anna and I laid in the bathtub for about 20 minutes. We didn’t cut the cord, or clean her off. We just layed together while my husband stroked her little head. She was perfect.After that my husband held the baby while Darlene helped me get cleaned up and into bed. I tore a tiny bit but nothing that required stitches. My body just healed itself.

1392032_10152023272922792_572613548_nMy home birth experience compared to my two previous hospital births was night and day. I would never do it any other way. I loved that I was in my home and that my children were there. I got to get into my bed afterwards. I didn’t have to wait hours for the epidural to wear off before I could walk. No IV’s stuck in my arms. No stiff hospital gown or hospital lights. No being confined to laying in a bed on my back. I was sore but I was in my home that very night enjoying dinner with my family. It was one of the most amazing and empowering experiences of my life.

-mother to Evelyn, Anderson and Anna Sophia
-wife to Chris

Birth of Kaden

1497768_10152125165025726_812416016_nMy first pregnancy seemed fairly simple, I had no issues other than “baby was measuring big”. I was seeing an OB at the time, whom I really only saw maybe 3 times through out my pregnancy due to her being in the hospital. Although I barely knew this woman I was expecting her to bring my baby into this world, patiently. Well as my labor moved into 41 weeks I was willingly scheduled for an induction the day after my birthday, not knowing the risk.

On March 13th, I arrived at the hospital at 6 am 3 cm dilated. They got me hooked up to everything and got the pitocin going by 7 am. An hour of so later I was at 4 cm and not really in much pain but everyone advised me “if you want an epidural get it now!”. Blindly I went ahead with the epidural, which at the time was the worse pain I had felt thus far. Once this was done we waited and waited a bit longer.

Around 2 pm the OB came to check me and suggest she break my water to help progress labor for I had been at 6 cm for a few hours. I allowed her to do so. Around 6 pm she came to check me, I was still 6 CM. At this point my OB insist we do a c section because baby is not dropping and the risk of infection is becoming greater. (I did not know that risk of infection is not typically until 24 hours after your water has been broken, your water can even break and replenish itself!). As a first time mother with little birthing education I panicked. In my mind I thought “shouldn’t we wait a bit longer?!” But my heart said just do it, my baby is in danger.

After just 12 hours of labor they wheeled me back and 30 minutes later my beautiful baby boy was here. 9 lbs 7 oz and 21 inches long. I didn’t get to see him for nearly an hour after his birth, there was no skin to skin and my husband was not even allowed to cut the cord. The recovery was even more traumatic than the surgery. Not being able to eat normal for a few days, the gas pain, the pain of standing up, etc.


A month after our first son, Landon, turned one we found out we were expecting again. I continued to go to an OB, this time a different one because my previous had quit. I had a feeling my first birth was not given enough time but I really liked this OB, she mentioned a VBAC before I even had the chance and was very encouraging, she even agree’d that many OB’s now are not very patient and end up doing c-sections. However she insisted I have an epidural due to the risk of uterine rupture. I was NOT okay with this. At 6 months pregnant I spoke to a family member about her midwife that delivered her boys at home.

1557708_10152119794310726_1231849326_nThe idea of a midwife and home birth became very appealing to me. It was then I was introduced to my midwife Darlene. We met at a coffee shop and it was a very comfortable, nothing like an OB. She was very sweet, positive and insightful and very confident in my efforts to VBAC. Although my belly measured ahead she never once try to scare me with “your baby is too big”.

My due date was approaching quickly and I wasn’t showing many signs of labor. A few contractions here and there, baby wasn’t dropping, I hadn’t dilated or hardly effaced.

On December 31st around 4:30 pm I started having close contractions and they did not ease up. By 6 pm we knew I was certainly in labor. Darlene came over along with my doula, Gina, and my sister as well.

By the time midnight rolled around I seemed to be in hard labor but I was not progressing much at all. I had loss some mucus plug and was around 2 cm. My contractions were strong and almost unbearable. Darlene checked Kadens heart tones and we both heard a drop in his tones. It was then we decided a transfer to the hospital would be best. We arrived at the hospital around 12:30/1 (honestly I was in so much pain, I wasn’t paying attention).

Although I had planned for a non medicated birth I came in begging for an epidural. After 2 hours I finally had my epidural, which didn’t hurt nearly as bad as my first. Once the epidural kicked in I was able to rest for a bit. My body had got to 5 cm on it’s own then just like my first labor, it stalled. I stayed at 5 cm for 12 hours, the length of my first labor and baby still had not dropped. By this time there was a different OB than the original and she was very calm and suggest that maybe we break my water or get me on a slow pit drip. I discussed the options with Darlene and decided, al though it was risky I would allow my water to be broken. If it didn’t progress after that I would allow a pit drip. Luckily we never needed that.

They broke my water around 10 am and after that it was a slow progression. Finally around 8 the nurses came in and said I was at a good 9 to 9 1/2 and baby had finally dropped but the right part of my cervix hadn’t melted away yet. My epidural had worn off and they had me on my hands and knees for a while, ten minutes on each side with one leg up in a stirrup.

They started to encourage me to push and after 28 hours of labor and no sleep I was EXHAUSTED. I couldn’t push hard enough and baby kept going back up into the birth canal. He was coming out asynclitic, which means head of the baby is presenting first and is tilted to the shoulder. He was facing up and to my left. Apparently that’s another reason they were moving me around quite a bit.

I pushed as hard as I could not once thinking of a c section as an option, I heard his heart rate drop slowly and I pushed with all I had to give and out came my sweet baby boy! All 9 lbs 9 oz and 23 1/2 inches long. I had did it! I got my VBAC! And with an even bigger baby after being told my body couldn’t do such a thing. The OB that delivered Kaden admitted she was having OR prep to bring me in for a c-section right before I pushed my baby out. I felt a bit of fear knowing I was so close to being sliced open again.

1504119_10152119893665726_1318127835_nI’ve never felt so proud as the moment I got my VBAC. We did skin to skin immediately and did delayed cord clamping so baby could get all of his blood and this time my husband got to cut the cord! Once he was clean up we attempted to breastfeed, that took some work and a lot of help from Darlene, nurses and Lactation but thankfully with their help and my patience I am going strong and loving breastfeeding nearly two months later. Postpartum was amazing. I could walk afterwards, eat and shower all with no issues! I had some pain from stitches but it wasn’t nearly as bad as my c-section postpartum recovery.

I’m also amazed at the patience of all of the nurses. They were the same nurses from nearly two years ago with my first son but it was like they had all turned into caring, sweet people. Before I thought of them as heartless and a bit vicious really. It really restored my faith in birth. I would have absolutely LOVED a home birth but I still got my VBAC and had amazing support!! My husband, Darlene, Gina and my sister stuck around the entire 28 hours and they all got to watch my son enter the world. My mother in law was there for his birth as well.

He came into the world into so much love and excitement and I’m hoping that’s just what this life has to offer him.


Candice Shaunessey,

-mother to Landon and Kaden

-wife to Brian

Birth Story of Miss Marti Monroe Bell

RandiI am a first time mom. Losing my own mom 3 years ago, I was very alone and longing for that lost love. I missed the mother-daughter connection, oh so much. Being pregnant without your mom’s support and guidance is tough. I decided to have a home birth because I was working some measly job, not making anything, and could not afford a hospital birth. The morning I met with Darlene I was incredibly nervous but yet very intrigued to find out about having a baby at home. My family has never done so, and I soon found out they were very against the idea. Boy, am I glad I didn’t listen to them…

Fast forward to the morning I went into labor. I woke up Tuesday Feb. 26th 2013 at 5:30 a.m., in pain, I was having contractions, but didn’t know what was going on. Everyone always says “Oh, you’ll know when you’re in labor.” Well, I didn’t and I was scared. My husband asked me if I wanted him to stay home and I said no, what if it’s nothing? We didn’t need him missing work. He went to work with directions to keep his phone on him all day. I laid back in bed, trying to relax and go back to sleep but that was not working. I went and laid on the couch and still couldn’t relax. So then I ran a hot bath and laid there crying in pain for half an hour. I then called my best friend in North Dakota, who has 2 kids, and described to her what I was feeling, she said it sounded like I was in labor. I could have called Darlene but I didn’t want to be one of those panicky moms who think they’re in labor at every little sharp pain. So I waited until 9:11 a.m. I was in between contractions when I told her that I’d been having contractions for 4 hours. She said to time them and call back in an hour. I did as she instructed and after sending her a text message of the number of seemingly brutal contractions I had in an hour, she asked that I come in so she could examine me in person. I was floored! How is she expecting me to drive? I think not. So I called my friend who is a massage therapist, she took me to her office. Darlene checked and I was 100% effaced and at 3 cm. She said “we’re having a baby today!” I was so excited, yet extremely nervous! She later informed me that since I was so calm when I called she didn’t think I was in labor, or she would have never told me to drive. My friend and I went into the back massage room where she massaged me for an hour or more. It was the first time I had relaxed all day. It was the best feeling. Darlene fixed me up some raspberry leaf tea and had heated rice bags to help ease the pain of the contractions. After the massage, my friend took me home and aired up the birthing tub in my dining room. I called my mother-in-law and my aunt. It was about one in the afternoon, an hour later, I called Darlene because my contractions were now a minute long and getting stronger. She was on the way.

Marti birthMy husband reached home about the same time she got to my house. He was instructed to get a hose from Home Depot on his way home to fill the birthing tub, he was in such a hurry that he accidentally grabbed a soaker hose. Hahaha. Luckily Darlene had an extra hose in her trunk. Meanwhile, I was pretty sure I was going to die! I was constantly switching back and forth from laying in bed and sitting on the toilet. Darlene showed my husband how to press into my low back with his fist to help take the pressure off my low back and ultimately ease more pain. He would push on my tailbone while she caressed my face encouraging me to relax. A couple of hours later while sitting on the toilet my water broke! It was almost time to start pushing!!

Meanwhile, the water heater had now ran its course and was pumping cold water into the birthing tub, my friend stayed in the kitchen boiling pots and pots of water, dumping them into the birthing tub trying to get the temperature perfect before Miss Marti decided it was time to make her arrival. Darlene kept checking the baby’s heartbeat and my blood pressure every 20 minutes it seemed.

Even though I was in pain I knew that I was in great hands, and for that I am very thankful. When it was finally time to get in the birthing tub, I was so happy! I loved that I was able to do whatever I felt was comfortable for me, in the tub I wanted to stretch out, so I did. I didn’t have any doctors coming in and out with all of the beeping noises and commotion. I could do anything! If I wanted to get up and walk around, I could. If I wanted to eat an apple or drink water, I could. Once in the tub if I changed my mind, that was okay, I loved the freedom! This is my labor and my baby!! I loved having the choice to do what I felt was right! It’s my body and I am in control, not like at some hospital. We had enigma music playing in the background. It was great! Most people pray to God, but the whole time I was in the tub I talked to my mom. She wasn’t there physically but to me she was right there holding my hand, helping me get through it. When the contractions started getting stronger and stronger Darlene advised me to do different things. First, she said to try pushing, then to relax in between. Next, she wanted me to squat and picture baby Marti coming down, she knew this was what I needed to hear. Within 30 minutes she started to crown. I was asked if I wanted to touch her head, I firmly and quickly said no. I think it’s funny because I just wanted that kid out of there! I didn’t want to stop and feel her. I wanted to concentrate on getting ‘this thing outta me!’ My husband was in the tub with me and he got to feel his daughter’s head! I remember telling Darlene and Cole Deelah, my doula that I didn’t think she was coming and they reassured me she was. I whined and said “I don’t think she is!” and everyone laughed. Finally after pushing like crazy, I could feel her finally coming out! I was relieved, and just kept on pushing!

Marti bathMiss Marti Monroe made her entrance at exactly 5:30 p.m. My husband caught her when she came out. I heard him say “This is the most amazing thing ever!” It definitely was the best day of my life! We got to sit there admiring this amazing little child that was a part of me that had a mind firing with thoughts and wonders faster than any super computer that would someday be able to tell right from wrong and love from anger. What bliss this was. A moment that no word in any language could describe. This time of bonding was recognized and lasted as it needed to. No one rushed us, no one took her from us to clean her, no this moment was about us. A critical time, a time for bonding. I got to hold her all covered in vernix. She was the most beautiful thing. It was in that very moment that it became apparent for the reason of my existence. I finally found out why I was put on this earth, it was to be a mother, her mother. I had just had a baby at home! I am an amazing woman! I didn’t need any drugs. Of course it was painful, but I got to feel every little twinge. These are all of the things I felt and still feel! I remember telling everyone in the room right after that I didn’t ever want to do that again. Darlene said, “Now Randi, we don’t make those decisions 5 minutes after birth..” hahaha. Now I totally know what she meant!!

I’m so glad I didn’t listen to my family and friends that were scaring me, telling me I shouldn’t do this. My in-laws were the only ones on my side, not my own family. Guess it’s a good thing I never listen any how.

7299_4691744305541_1497930082_nAbout 30 minutes after I had her I tried to nurse, she latched immediately! It was an awesome feeling. We sat there like we were the only ones in the room and bonded. A bit afterward, we went into my bedroom, where I ended up having stitches, not because I had an episiotomy, but because I naturally tore just a little. My husband always says, “had a baby in the dining room and gettin’ stitched in the bedroom.”

Then came time to weigh my ‘big headed baby,’ I about hit the floor when Darlene said she weighs “8 pounds 6 ounces.” Dang!! It’s a darn good thing she decided to come a week early! I couldn’t imagine pushing out a 9 pounder!

Besides giving birth at a hospital without an epidural, my family is not known for doing anything the ‘natural’ way. I don’t vaccinate, I use cloth diapers/wipes, make my own detergent, co-sleep, had my placenta encapsulated and I breastfeed. Everything I decided to do just came to me, it’s what I want to do. I wasn’t raised this way. It just comes to me so easily! I don’t mind if people frown upon it because this is my family. I love that I can finally say that! And I can’t wait to be able to do it all over again!!! My life is just now beginning!

–Randi Haessner Bell–

Our Sweet Baby Cady Jaymes, Born in Her Own Room!!

CadyThomasAfter having 2 previous healthy pregnancies and deliveries, we knew we wanted to have baby #3 at home. This was baby number 3 for me and baby number 1 for my hubby. We had some friends who had home births and had only positive things to say about it.

So, after finding out we were pregnant, we started looking for a midwife. Darlene was only the second one we met with and we looked no further. Her office was close to home and we just felt comfortable instantly.

Every prenatal visit was so pleasant and completely different from going to an OB’s office. No long waits in uncomfortable waiting rooms, no stirrups (yay!), and best of all, every question we asked was answered clearly. Plus, she had any and all supplements that she recommended right there in her office.

Now to the actual birth….

My estimated due date was April 16th. Early in the morning on the 17th, at around 2:30am, my water broke. I woke up my husband and we started timing the contractions. At 3:00am, he called Darlene. She arrived at our house around 3:30am and immediately went to work setting things up. As my contractions started coming closer together and getting stronger, Darlene had so many great suggestions on how to minimize the pain. By the time I was dilated 7cm, around 6am, the contractions were extremely painful and there was hardly any time between them. Darlene suggested getting in the birthing tub, which was in Cady’s room. My husband did not plan on getting in there with me, but that quickly changed once I got in. He wanted to be able to help ease the pain and was a little weak from being sick, so being in there with me was easier for him. I had one contraction once I got in the tub & with the second one, I was ready to push. With the first push, I felt the pressure of Cady’s head. Then came another contraction and another push with a CadyThomas1little more movement and I was ready for her to be out. Darlene told me to push one more time and turn while I was pushing, and out she came! Darlene lifted her out of the water & immediately put her in my arms. She never cried! She was breathing and pink from head to toe. I sat in my husband’s lap and we both just wrapped our arms around her. We sat there just smiling and telling her how happy we were to see her and all the while, she was still connected to the umbilical cord, which was pulsating and nourishing our baby. Her lungs were completely clear. We all just sat there looking at each other and taking in the fact that she was actually here. After about 20 minutes, Darlene clamped and cut the cord. She helped me out of the tub and into my OWN BED!! She then started tending to Cady, getting her cleaned up, measured & weighed. Still, no crying!

Darlene gave us options for everything. vitamin K shot, antibiotic in her eyes, PKU, RH negative shot, etc., all our choice. What a liberating feeling! And then getting to sleep in our own bed & have our baby in her bassinet in the room with us without any hassle from nurses trying to take her for this reason or that reason, or trying to take my vitals or draw blood, was just so awesome. The entire experience was just SO AWESOME!!

We are so happy to have made the decision to have our sweet baby Cady Jaymes at home, in her own room, with Darlene, the best midwife in the whole wide world!!!

Samantha Thomas

The Birth of Ezekiel

Baytown pregnancyMy first son, Zion, was an average hospital birth. I had a midwife who worked at the hospital, I was in labor for 18 hours and I had an epidural. I came away from that experience feeling overjoyed to have my son in my arms, but also disappointed for a lot of reasons. I felt that the staff at the hospital really just treated me like I didn’t matter and like I did not know the best things for my child. I felt bullied into making a lot of decisions such as taking the epidural and other drugs. I was left alone in the triage room to labor and even though I requested that my husband be allowed in, he was not. The nurses and midwives argued in my room in the first moments of my son’s life because the nurses wanted to take him to suction him and they wanted to cut his cord, and both of those things were unnecessary. The midwife I had was the midwife on call. She did her best to fight for me in an atmosphere that really did not welcome anything other than sticking to hospital protocol. I was also bullied into getting a vaccine I did not want at the time, my son was taken away from me to be “checked out” more than once when he was completely healthy, and I was pressured into allowing the nurses to give him a bottle to “make sure he was latching correctly”. My husband got in trouble for carrying our son out into the hallway instead of pushing him in his cold plastic box and I could not get the nurses to bring me anything I needed after I was discharged but still waiting for my son’s discharge so we could leave. My husband and I could not wait to get out of the hospital. From the hospital tour, the impression was given that this was a wonderful birth suite with all of the comforts of home. It seemed almost from the moment we got there, we could not wait to leave so we could go home and get some sleep and enjoy our baby. So needless to say, after that experience we decided to have our next child out of the hospital.

When I became pregnant in October of 2012, we were both excited and nervous. A year earlier I had miscarried and so we were afraid of losing another baby. I had interviewed a few midwives and decided to go with a birth center. I never really felt completely confident in my decision to have a birth center birth, however. I decided to keep looking for a midwife who I felt was the one for us. When I was about 12 weeks pregnant, I heard about Darlene. I went to her website and read her birth stories and immediately I felt like she could help me have the kind of birth we wanted to have. I emailed her and we set up a meeting. I felt comfortable with Darlene right away. I felt that she was easy to talk to and I felt that she really cared about me and my baby and I appreciated that she is constantly Baytown midwiferesearching and learning new things. I continued to see Darlene and I did not dread my prenatal appointments like I had in the past. I never felt rushed or unimportant. Her office is so comfortable, I did not feel like I was at the doctor’s office. I felt like I was going to visit a friend who cared about what I had to say and the questions I had. I also had morning sickness for quite a while that seemed pretty severe. Darlene was always available to me to help me through that. I could text her or email her anytime and she would immediately get back to me. Having that support through the hardest part of the pregnancy for me was very important.

Darlene told me that she thought I would have a fast, easy birth. I wanted to believe her, but I had doubts in my mind because my first labor was so hectic and long and painful up until I got the epidural. I didn’t admit it to anyone, but I had a lot of doubts in myself that I would be able to do this with no pain medications. I read as many birth stories as I could to prepare myself. By the time I was in my last month, I was excited to go into labor and not afraid. I had also hired a doula because I thought my labor would be very long like it was the first time around so I was looking forward to having my baby at home with my doula, Nicole, and my midwife Darlene’s help.

On July 1st, I went to my last prenatal appointment. I wanted to know if anything was happening because I had been having contractions for weeks, so I had Darlene check. I wasn’t in labor, so she told me to go home and take Benadryl so I could get some sleep and if the contractions were not real labor then I should be able to sleep. When I left her office, she said she thought I would be having the baby soon – maybe in the next week.

I was excited but also in disbelief that I would soon be holding my baby. I went home and tried to sleep. I only slept for about an hour. My husband had gone to spend some time with his brother who was in town visiting so I was in my room with my 3 year old watching movies. Around 8:30 I started having regular contractions, but they were very short and not painful. This had happened several times before and they always had eventually stopped so I did not think a lot of it. At about 9:30 I turned some music on and my son was in bed. I realized that I was still having contractions but they were still very mild and short. They were about 6 minutes apart, but I was still not sure if this was the real thing. I sent my husband a text message to tell him what was happening. I told him not to come home because I was thinking I may just fall asleep. I didn’t want him to come home for nothing. At about 10:30 I told my husband that I was still having contractions. I still didn’t care that he wasn’t there. I was just enjoying the time listening to my music, and just reflecting on my pregnancy and how grateful I was that I was able to have a full term, healthy pregnancy. I was thinking about how I couldn’t wait to meet my baby and how it would be for Zion to meet his brother for the first time. I was so relaxed and calm. Contractions were getting slightly stronger but still very easy and only about 45 seconds long and 6 minutes apart. Considering I had 18 hours of labor the first time, I thought I had hours and hours to go – if this was even real labor! I thought maybe I would have a baby sometime the next morning.

At 11:00 my husband came home. We started to watch a movie in bed and we got about 5 minutes in when I had a “real” contraction. I knew then that it was really labor, but still not painful. I think that my first labor was so painful because I was terrified and intimidated at the hospital. I was also uncomfortable in the hospital on the hard stretcher they had me laying on and it really made me think that labor was going to be excruciating. Because I could manage these contractions, I felt that this had to be very early labor. I sent a text to Darlene and my doula, Nicole, to let them know that I might be in labor but it was still very early so I would call the when I thought I would need them. I think this text was sent sometime around 11:30. at 11:45 I got into the bathtub and immediately, labor went into high gear. My husband called my doula at 12:00 and she notified Darlene and they were on their way.

At about 12, the contractions very quickly got close together, long and strong. At 12:45 I was standing beside my bed and my water broke. At that time, I felt my son’s head move down into my pelvis. It was very strange to feel every sensation that I had not felt the last time because I had an epidural. As soon as my water broke, I felt that I had to push. I was in disbelief at this point because I thought, “labor just started! It can not be time to push already!”. Darlene was on her way, but still had not arrived. I had climbed onto the bed on my hands and knees and my husband had Darlene on speakerphone right next to the bed as she was driving as fast as she could to get to my house! She was talking my husband through what to do if the baby came before she got there. She was trying to talk me through my  contractions and keep me calm. At 1:22, Darlene ran in the door and at 1:24 on July 2nd, Ezekiel Jude was born. The marathon birth I was expecting was more like a sprint!

As soon as he was born, Darlene helped lay him down right next to me in bed. I was talking and he was wide awake, moving his head around to try to see my face. We just looked at each other and got Baytown homebirthto know one another. It was the most amazing, peaceful experience. I am so grateful for those first moments when we fell in love with each other. After quite a while, my husband cut the umbilical cord and held our son. Darlene checked me out. I didn’t need any stitches. I could not believe how good I felt. I remember with my first birth feeling like I had been hit by a truck! I was exhausted and I felt the effects of being drugged up. I also required stitches and a catheter and I took a very long time to feel better.  Zeke’s birth was so gentle and I was feeling great right away. I was not expecting to feel so good. In fact, within 5 minutes of him being born, I turned to my husband and said, “That was SO easy! Let’s do it again!!”

After a while, we weighed Zeke and he was 6lb 12oz. His newborn checkup was done on the bed beside me. Darlene and my doula stayed for another couple of hours and then they tucked us into bed and left. There are no words to describe what it felt like to be in my own bed, in our own home looking at my precious new baby and realizing that we just did that! My husband and I worked together to bring our sweet baby into this world.

The next day, Darlene came back to check on us. It was so nice to not have to go anywhere. I didn’t have to take my baby to the pediatrician or leave the house to get lab work like I did right away when my older son was born.  It was so nice to relax and enjoy our new family member. If I had to do this all over again, I would do everything the same way. I can’t thank Darlene enough for all she has done for us and I can’t even describe how wonderful it was to have a home birth. Our sweet baby is such a joy and I am so glad he was able to enter the world in such a beautiful and peaceful way.

-Gina Jimenez-

Birth of Samuel

DSC05898After having two kids in the hospital the way most Americans are led to believe is the “right” way, my wife announced that she would like to have our next baby at home with a midwife. She had just taken a pregnancy test two weeks before. I will have to admit I was not at all settled with this idea. I told her I would go with her to interview several midwives if she promised she would not quit seeing her doctor until we both made a decision to switch. I just figured I would never make the decision and she would have the baby in the hospital.

The first midwife we met had to look for her paperwork for about thirty minutes while we waited. I envisioned her scrambling to look for equipment when delivering our baby. Even though her credentials were good and she had a fairly good bedside manner, I was less than impressed.

The second midwife was better. She had all her paperwork ready and wanted us to fill out a whole stack of paperwork before she would even talk with us. She attempted to do lab work on Sharon, but we insisted we were truly just there for a consultation and would come back for lab work if we chose to use her. The consultation went well but it was quite obvious she was practicing defensively due to some complaints filed against her. We later found out it was because of a death of a newborn because of lack of experience.

Third time is a charm, right? When we got there she welcomed us in and had toys and books for our children to play with. The consultation with the other two midwives we had left our children with their grandparents. This time we had to bring them along. Her office was very cozy. I could see two new mothers breast feeding in another room where they could feed and change their babies before they headed home. Once in her office we were given a ‘new patient folder’ as she called it. To Sharon it was golden. It had all the forms and paperwork for us to take home, read carefully, and fill out to bring back with us if we decided to use her services. The folder also had a copy of everything for us to keep. There was so much information from pregnancy, to breastfeeding to bathing a baby and diapering.

Throughout the consultation I could tell Sharon was feeling very comfortable with this midwife. I still wasn’t comfortable with the whole homebirth-midwife thingy so I decided to ask some questions to try to trip her up. To my surprise she not only answered every one of my questions she thanked me for being there and supporting my wife and asking questions. I’ll have to admit I asked questions that I would have never asked a doctor. In fact I don’t even remember even asking the doctor any questions about his practice or him personally before Sharon began using him to deliver our first two kids.

After spending about two hours with her we had pretty much made up our mind that Darlene was going to be delivering our next baby.

Sharon talked non-stop all the way home, she even followed me into the bathroom to show me what all was in the folder.

It was after the third prenatal visit with our doctor and second prenatal visit with Darlene that we made the decision not to go back to the doctor and make the switch completely. We had not even told Darlene that Sharon was still seeing the doctor. When Sharon’s lab work came back she had been prepared to sit with the doctor and discuss it with him. He brushed her off and said there was nothing on there she needed to worry about. When Darlene sat and discussed the lab work results and dietary changes with us for over twenty minutes we knew we it was time to make the decision. The lab work was all the same, we just paid out of pocket for the labs with Darlene so our insurance wouldn’t questions double lab work.

I didn’t go to all the prenatal visits due to work, but when Darlene realized that I wanted to be at every visit she began seeing Sharon on Saturdays so I could be there. We couldn’t have found this with a doctor. Sharon had an easy pregnancy and we learned so much more than we ever expected. Darlene taught her exercises, they talked diet at almost every visit. The most eye opening was making a birth plan. We never knew we even had choices in so many areas concerning the care of our baby.

Late one night Sharon thought she may be in labor. Contractions were painful but weren’t lasting very long. We called Darlene to come check her. In our excitement we got out everything we needed for the birth. She got there checked over Sharon and said she would wait for a while to see if there was any progress since the contractions were only lasting about 30-45 seconds. After two hours she let us know this was not real labor and Sharon needed a warm bath, a foot massage and tucked into bed. I don’t remember her doctor ever prescribing TLC. She said she could write Sharon a note not to do dishes for two weeks if she’d like. But of course my loving wife declined with a wink. I think women have an unspoken language. Here’s the kicker, I later learned (from a friend) that Darlene had just taken her husband, Ronnie, to the hospital to be admitted for cancer spreading to his brain right before she came over. Not once did she complain about being there for false labor. I had no idea that her husband was even battling cancer or that she was also caring for his infant grandson along with all of her own children.

When Sharon finally did go into labor we had no doubt it was the real deal. As soon as we had called Darlene to let her know Sharon was in active labor, things really picked up and we had to call her back right away. She was already on her way.

Darlene got there right after we sent our two kids to be with their grandparents. Her assistant arrived about thirty minutes later. I could not believe the loving care they gave my wife through labor. They walked outside with her, massaged her back and feet, and helped her into the bath to relax. They even taught me some things to do to help her so we could just be alone for a while. Darlene would quietly come in to check over Sharon and the baby from time to time but let us labor by ourselves as much as we wanted.

When contractions got stronger I’ll have to admit I got a little scared. Sharon was having a hard time staying focused and was sobbing during the peak of each contraction. Darlene was putting strong pressure on Sharon’s lower back while her assistant was breathing through each contraction with her. This was all new to both of us since Sharon had an epidural with both of our other kids.

At one weak moment Sharon said she didn’t think she could do this at home any longer. Darlene asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital. Sharon said yes. Darlene said she wanted to check her over one more time so she would know what to say to the hospital staff once we got there. She also wanted to let us know what to expect once we got there.

Sharon was dilated to 9 centimeters, she only needed to get to ten to begin pushing. She sat down on the floor in front of Sharon to explain what would happen once we arrive at the hospital. She explained that she would have to go into a room for an initial exam by herself. I, myself, Darlene and the assistant all would have to remain in the waiting room until she was put into a regular labor room. She would have to be on her back in the bed on monitors so they could report to the doctor on call. Darlene told Sharon, “I would like you to lie on your back for three contractions, if you can handle just this, then let’s go in to the hospital if you still want to go. If not we will continue to support you through these next thirty minutes to an hour so you can have your baby. It won’t be long before you feel like pushing.”

I had already taken the suitcase out of the closet and put it by the front door. Sharon laid on her back through one single contraction and came right up off of that bed. She looked straight at me and said, “That is how they sell all those medications to laboring women in the hospital, they put them in a bed!” I could see she had a ‘light bulb’ moment and she was furious that she had been duped into taking so much medication with the other two. She got up off that bed and stood swaying back and forth right beside the bed. Darlene nodded to the assistant and they began moving all the birth supplies closer to Sharon.

After about five minutes Sharon announced, “I can feel my baby coming out!!”

Darlene continually listened to the baby with the doppler. The assistant brought the birth stool close in case Sharon wanted to use it. Sharon’s excitement made us both forget all about even mentioning going to the hospital. She felt herself pushing during her next contraction. “I can feel the baby, I can actually feel my baby!! This is amazing!!” She noticed the birth stool and asked if it was too late to use it. Darlene and the assistant quickly got it in place with a chair right behind it. Who knew women can get into a completely different position in the middle of pushing their baby out? Darlene asked Sharon if she wanted me behind her for support or the assistant. Sharon wanted the assistant to put counter pressure on her back. As soon as Sharon sat on the birth stool her water broke and I could actually see the top of the baby’s head. We all got quiet so we didn’t disturb Sharon’s concentration. Darlene spoke very softly and told Sharon that her contractions were going to be slowing down to five minutes apart because she was fully dilated. This was God’s way of giving mothers a rest to catch their breath between pushes. She also put her hand in Sharon letting her gently know which muscles she would be using to push with. Sharon later said this was very helpful after having the first two with an epidural, she had no idea what those muscles felt like.

The baby’s heart beat sounded so good through the entire labor. As the head emerged, I think Darlene grew two extra arms. She felt around the neck to make sure there wasn’t a cord, then she took both of my hands and brought them up to feel the baby. She also got Sharon’s hands to feel the baby. Then all of a sudden my son slipped into my hands. Darlene and I helped my son into Sharon’s arms. She was sobbing uncontrollably saying over and over, “We did it, Honey, we did it!!” All in one minute, Darlene had put a hat on the baby, because no one remembered to turn off the a/c or the ceiling fan. She suctioned his mouth and listened to his chest. He was now screaming. The assistant wrapped some blankets that had been warming, around my son. I couldn’t take my eyes off Sharon or my son. She gave us a few moments to see if we had a boy or girl. Discovering this ourselves was better than any Christmas present we ever received. It was a boy!

Darlene was checking everything over, allowing us as much peace as possible, I completely lost all sense of time. After the cord quit pulsing, I got to cut it and got to hold my son while Darlene and the assistant helped Sharon with the placenta. I couldn’t watch this part so I sat in the rocker for a moment so I didn’t pass out.

Once Sharon was washed up and tucked into bed, we were left alone for some bonding time. Darlene said he isn’t going to grow or lose weight in the next hour so and our time together was much more important. This hour could never be replaced.

We laid there endlessly looking over our still naked son thinking of what name we wanted to give him. He nursed right away way like he really knew what he was doing. I was so proud of Sharon and felt our love was renewed all over again that day. Women think they look horrible right after they have given birth with their hair everywhere, and no makeup, but she looked more beautiful than she did on our wedding day.

I don’t know how much time had passed before Darlene and the assistant came back in for another check and the newborn check-up. Sharon did not tear, and did not bleed to heavy. Our son weighed 8 pounds and 12 ounces and was 21 inches long. I was so amazed how much bigger he was than our other two and how alert he was.

It took us three days to decide on a name but we finally settled on Samuel Wayne. Something else I learned is to not call everyone you know and tell them the baby is here unless you are ready for unannounced guests popping in just to see if Sharon and the baby “survived” a birth at home. People coming over just to see if they are alive or whether the baby has three ears or five arms because he was born at home is not the way to get breastfeeding off to a good start.

Some of the things I learned from Sharon’s homebirth is the immense amount of personalized care you get with a midwife, the education you get never realizing how little you knew even after having two kids, and the tremendous amount of hands on support during labor and birth were amazing. I had no idea how much midwives really know, they are well educated to handle emergency situations yet relaxed enough to just allow birth to happen. My favorite is they have great wisdom in knowing just how to  allow a mom to have the homebirth she truly wanted even when she didn’t believe in herself. Sharon would have never forgiven herself if she had actually made that trip to the hospital and delivered in the car or emergency room. Now, anytime I want to make her laugh I simply ask, “Do you want to go to the hospital for that?” She can’t contain her laughter or the fond memories of her home birth.

–Samuel’s dad

Husband, Father, Homebirth Dad

Birth of Izak

DSC03510When Audrey was born 17 years ago, I went through the motions and delivered her vaginally at the hospital as most women are taught to do from a very early age. Interventions included pitocin, epidural, episiotomy, and vacuum extraction. With an epidural, after the intense pain of the needle, it only took on half of my body.  So after being totally numb on one side and enduring continually intense contractions on the other half, I allowed the anesthesiologist to try again. Thankfully, it took completely the second time. An episiotomy, I don’t know the degree, but was grateful for the Sits-bath and my mother’s hand while passing my first post-partum BM.

In the years later, I became licensed as a massage therapist and focused on various natural health practices. For Claire’s birth, 6 years ago, I felt like I could manage the pain of contractions on my own. At the hospital, I asked nurses for a rocking chair and a ball to sit on during my labor, then I sang to myself and to Claire as a way to manage the pain, while the nurses laughed. My mother was present, but I really felt alone, as I had no advocate coaching me about how I could manage the labor. The pain intensified and I first tried pain medication through the IV, then caved and agreed to the epidural, which again, initially only took on half of my body.

After a short while of pushing, the OB on call said we’d have to prep for cesarean for failure to descend. Somehow Claire was going back in after crowning. To this day I’m still not sure as to the reason for surgery, but at the time, I was in total shock. I put myself and my daughter in God’s hands and trusted the medical staff. I hadn’t prepared myself physically or emotionally for the possibility of a c-section. I tried hard to calm myself. As they started cutting into my skin, the doctor asked me if I could feel it. I said yes, that it felt like they were pulling the hairs of my abdomen. Then my body flinched when they started to cut deeper. Thankfully I couldn’t feel intense pain, but since my body wouldn’t stay still, they had to give me general anesthesia. I actually was glad, since I knew my stress wasn’t healthy for myself or my baby. I woke up and bonded very nicely with my newborn daughter after a couple of hours. I layed in the hospital bed connected to an IV drip, initially for GBS. I’m not sure why it wasn’t removed after surgery. After five long days, I was able to convince my OB to discharge me.

I decided right away during my third pregnancy that my intention was for a home birth. Actually, a month prior to Izak’s conception, I saw a video on YouTube about Orgasmic Birth that I found quite beautiful. My attempts to maintain a friendship with Izak’s father failed as did my attempts to find the right man.  So I settled for the idea of a gentle water birth.

My life was pretty chaotic during my pregnancy, not unhappy though. I moved from here to there, subletting, staying with friends for awhile, Claire’s dad, then back at my mother’s with Audrey. When I met Darlene, my midwife, we connected mysteriously as a good friend or kindred spirit. The day after meeting her, Audrey wanted to move back to Austin and I agreed to give it one more try. Disappointed by the idea of not having Darlene attend Izak’s birth. I was happy to stay connected with her via phone and internet. After interviewing 7 midwives, I finally settled on one who allowed me to pay as I could, the full amount expected before the birth.

163841_1786555907069_229079_nI found a very nice place to live, renting space from a new friend in Georgetown who agreed to let me give birth in his master bathroom tub. I looked forward to a homebirth with this new midwife, her two assistants, and my two daughters present. Claire told me she wanted to help wipe the baby off, thanks Discovery Health Channel. When I asked “You sure? It might be really disgusting…”, my 6 year old said,  quite matter-of-factly, “Mommy, it’s not disgusting. It’s birth. ” I asked around for opinions on this idea of Claire watching the birth and most responses were “Claire? Oh, she’ll do fine. She’s not like most 6 year old children. “

I read an article that concerned me about the potential risks of sonogram/ ultrasound technologies on a fetus, but I agreed to a 3rd one around 28 weeks gestation to check location of placenta and confirm the health of all the baby’s organs.  Audrey and Claire were with me. When the tech was attempting to determine gender, we could see something that resembled swollen labia. So the tech guessed baby girl but couldn’t tell me anything for sure. I was happy with a girl or the mystery, but shook my belly to see if baby would give us a better angle. And when he did, I burst into tears of joy and disbelief. It really was my Izak that I sensed during the first few days. I started calling the baby Lucy in order not to get my hopes up! During our summertime visit, Claire’s dad made me laugh when he said “He’s gonna be mad if you keep calling him that.”

Audrey decided to move back to my mother’s in September. A short while later the squeeze of finances started to worry me.  I called Darlene for advice and she agreed to accept payment after Izak’s birth, considering my circumstances, if I could make the move back to Houston. So I did. Initially imagining the birth at my sister’s house or at a hotel, but neither panned out. My mother and I agreed to rearrange her house where I could be in the master bedroom with Claire and the baby and set up a birthing tub in the corner of the room. In early November, before rearranging the house, I applied for an apartment and was accepted. (Thanks to a personal loan from a dear friend.) I moved once again and was able to prepare for a homebirth with Darlene, my midwife and now my friend.

On the morning of November 17, the exact stated due date, I was browsing gentle homebirth sites and Facebook on the internet. I read on Darlene’s facebook page that she had just delivered a baby around 11:30pm. I wasn’t restless, just not sleepy. Then at 2:30am, I started feeling very strong contractions and woke Audrey to help me time them and clean up some clutter before I called Darlene. After an hour of strong contractions, 5 minutes apart, I called Darlene. She asked that I start timing duration and to call her back when the contraction was lasting about 60 seconds. I called her back around 4:15am. I also called my mother who lived just 5 minutes from the apartment. Darlene arrived about 4:30am and determined that I was about 8 cm dilated and effaced 80 %. Contractions were actually lasting longer than a minute… I was only considering the peak. So after a complete check up, Darlene immediately started coaching me to keep my body relaxed and not strain. Low tones of “ahhh” helped me stay focused. She massaged my arm or leg softly while kneeling beside my futon bed. This worked wonders to relax me. My mom was on the other side of the bed, holding my hand. Audrey was in and out of the bedroom. Claire was still asleep. Hazy memories for the first hour, but around 6:00am, my water broke when I squatted forward at the birth stool Darlene set up between the bed and the bathroom. There was apparently some meconium in the amniotic fluid, but Izak’s vitals stayed strong every time Darlene checked. I tried to pee, but couldn’t and I had to have a quick bladder catheter to drain my very full bladder. Around 7:45, Darlene helped me into the bath to try more relaxation. She asked that I have some time alone and as she came in and shut the door to the bathroom, she gently let me know that there was not much room for Izak’s head to descend between my small bone structures. She said we may have to transport for cesarean section.  I kept my mind as calm as possible, imagining St. John’s Hospital in Nassau Bay where Claire was born by c-section. I trusted that with Darlene’s strong advocacy for my natural health choices that my baby and I would be safe at the hospital. Disappointed, yes.

Darlene helped me from the tub to the birthing stool where I rested and she checked on Izak. To our surprise, his head shifted slightly. Initially, Izak was facing sideways – the largest angle of a baby’s head. Now he was facing a bit more towards the back, and his vitals were still strong, Darlene said we’d try for one more hour to see if Izak would descend. I really didn’t believe he would, but I trusted Darlene and followed her guidance. I kept my tones low through every contraction, full of pain. Darn the luck! I was mostly sitting on the birth stool, but then stood with Darlene, swaying side to side in slow gentle lunges. I remember my mother saying sweetly “That’s the way – he’ll be birthed by dancing!” Audrey was behind me most of the time, massaging my shoulders and my back. Claire was in and out of the room. I knew I was getting louder with the contractions, and once gently asked Claire to go out, fearing that she would be afraid of what she saw and heard from me. I really did not imagine the amount of pain I endured. She said “No, Mom. I’m fine, really.”

Around 8:45am, Izak’s head shifted a little more. Darlene was prepared for an episiotomy if necessary, but used a lot of olive oil while pressing her hand on the back of Izak’s head and on my body, pressing downward toward my tailbone allowing my tissues to stretch and be prepared for birth. As I pushed, his head slowly descended.  At one point, she asked if I wanted to feel his head. Sitting on the birthing stool, holding onto the sides of it, I said no, pretty firmly. I was determined and focused. I remember hearing myself with many loud low tones of “ahhh” and also low tone “help me Darlene” and at least one “I can’t do this!” in low tone. To which Darlene and my mother responded, “You ARE doing it!”  They all kept giving me words of encouragement as I pushed. Just before Izak’s birth, Audrey was sitting behind me, exhausted and feeling a bit nauseous, so she asked Claire to come stand behind me, to massage my neck and back.

Izak was born at home, to my utter shock and disbelief, at 8:51am. I had convinced myself it wouldn’t be happening and wondered why we were waiting for the inevitable transport for c-section. I didn’t believe my body could push out this baby. I was afraid I couldn’t hold him, but Darlene, the strong woman and mother that she is, placed him into my arms, trusting my abilities more than I did at the time. Still sitting on the birth stool, holding my crying infant, I cried in celebration and in shock. I lost a good amount of blood, but Darlene was equipped to handle it. When the placenta came out I hardly noticed. She commented about how thick and healthy the umbilical cord was and had let it pulsate while Izak was in my arms. Due to the amount of meconium present in the amniotic fluid and what Izak passed at his birthing, Darlene was prepared to deeply suction his airway. This boy of mine, caked with white vernix on his eyebrows, hollered a good deep yell, and he was able to clear his lungs on his own. I think I nursed him a little as the placenta birthed. Darlene checked on Izak as I relocated to the twin-sized futon bed. His poor head was a bit mis-shapened by the birth, but within a few hours was back to normal. I was swollen but saved by Darlene’s skill and olive oil to avoid any tearing! I was amazed! My baby boy weighed 8 lbs 5 oz, and measured 21 3/4 in. We did it! At home! No drugs! And no tearing!

300811_2441960491774_918783030_nMy mother appreciated how Darlene was praying during Izak’s labor and birth. We all were. I knew there must have been a thousand angels present in that room… maintaining the sound barrier to the next apartment. I joked later with my sisters that I’m sure my head was spinning around like on the Exorcist. Yeah, I was pretty loud. It’s equally amazing to me how much the pain decreased immediately after Izak’s birth.

Audrey stayed home from school the day of Izak’s birth and two days following. She was so helpful with Izak while I rested and actually seemed to sooth his crying more easily than I could. She asked me if my body would return to normal and not knowing what she saw, I took a photograph of the view between my legs, which I deleted moments after seeing it. I assured my 17 year old that the severe swelling would reduce. Darlene warned me that I might continue to discharge blood clots. I had planned to keep my placenta for encapsulation, but due to the amount of meconium, Darlene advised that she wouldn’t keep it if it was her choice. So, I decided to let my mother and my daughters bury the placenta for me in her yard, by the bayou. We’ll plant a tree or something there someday soon.

I smiled when Darlene suggested that if I ever want to have another baby, I should meet with her in very early pregnancy to start those exercises and stretches I never got around to doing.

I realized with Izak’s birth, that every transition from birth to life or life to death comes with a mystery as to whether or not it will be a gentle, pain-free experience. God remains present and holds every one of us through each process. As Darlene so wisely offered, my experience may not have been the romantic water birth I imagined, but my daughters both have learned that an intense and challenging experience can be overcome with a midwife’s help. Not all home births are perfect and that’s okay. I realize that it was my most favorite experience of all – having both Audrey and Claire present, my mother, and a dear friend as a midwife, all very much designed by God, so beautiful in my memory.

–Cynthia Roberts Borelle–

Birth of Grant Sallows

DSC04248I had heard these amazing stories, a mom dreams of having her baby under the tree in her backyard, then goes into labor the next day. She tells her midwife her dream and her midwife says “Why not?” So she does.  It’s the very tree, at the farmhouse her grandparents had lived. Another mom begins her labor and knows the Michigan weather is slowing her midwife down, she hops into the tub (maybe not hops, but you get the idea), trying to slow her labor. Instead, her baby boy appears and her husband scoops him into his arms. I was intrigued by such birth stories.

My labors with my beautiful boys were planned inductions by my O.B. The stories were the same. I arrived in the evening, had cervadil inserted, awaited a softened cervix, then a dose or two of Pitocin, and voila! A baby boy would be placed in my arms after the endless scrubbing probing and prodding of my sweet angels. I was fortunate that labor is quick for me. Yet, I felt that something could be different. Tony and I decided we were “done” after Grayden and Gavin. Just like we said we were never moving to Texas. That is another story. Two was enough and those beautiful stories were for everyone else.

Fast forward a few years…..

Grayden is 6 and Gavin is 5 and we had moved to Texas. I became a stay at home mom and Tony had a job he loves. Then baby fever. I make a few jokes but nothing serious. Tony jokes back and it turns into a serious DSC04226conversation. We aren’t “done.” We get pregnant quickly. I tell him about midwives and homebirths. We discuss the safety and laws and he agrees. We interview a few midwives in the area (“in the area” means within a couple hours away in Texas.) I met Darlene. I prayed. I knew she was “the one.” She was knowledgeable and there was special something about her. Tony was happy as long as I was comfortable. Pregnancy was tougher this time because I had morning sickness that I never had before but second trimester brings relief. Pregnancy was great and progressed well.

We reach the near end. Due date brings no baby but we decide he/she must not be ready and we will give it a few more days, before we have to have an ultrasound to be sure there isn’t something holding labor back. Darlene knew I had concerns over her not making it in time, due to my quick labors. (Grayden: I pushed for thirty minutes and Gavin I never pushed. My uterus did it for me in seven minutes with my O.B. barely making it.) Darlene calmed my nerves and decided she could come over before the ultrasound, spend the evening, and see if my labor can get started.

DSC04219Thursday rolls around. She comes over and gives me some herbal tea to drink. If my body is ready and the baby is ready, then labor shall ensue. She striped my membranes. We walk, talk, she crochets, and there are some contractions. Tony comes home, dinner with the boys, put them to bed. I knew I was tired but I wanted to get it all going. My eyes feel heavy. Darlene assures me I need rest but the contractions I have feel strong and I think “no way can I sleep. I need this to get going.” Darlene insists. I have her check me and I am dilated to a four. So I go lay down feeling comfortable that she is in the next room and my kids are peacefully sleeping.

11:27 p.m. I wake up breathing hard, contraction so overwhelming that it woke me out of a deep sleep. Labor begins on it’s own. I walk to the bathroom that is next to my room and have three contractions in that time. I try to breathe to get on top of them. They are fast and furious. She checks again and I am at a seven. I get in bed and she makes sure I am lying on my side to keep the birth canal open. My husband is warming water for the birthing tub that is a few feet from our room. Darlene has the birthing stool right outside our bedroom door. I continue to try to breathe. If only I could get on top of these contractions. I swore I would never moan or yell out like “those women” on TV. Well, I LIED! Darlene stops Tony from warming the tub and suggests he support me because I am not going to get out of the bed. She teaches him her “natural epidural” acupressure technique, by putting pressure on my lower back. Ahhh! Sweet relief. She asks if I can make it to the birth stool “NO way!” Then Tony moves front of me, hunching over, close to me, and I wrap my arms around his and pull down with every contraction. I am overwhelmed with love for him each one, his support is comforting. The pressure is getting stronger and I still just want to breathe. I feel pressure. My uterus is pushing down harder and harder. I yell “he is coming!” Darlene says it is my bag of waters. Then WHOOSH! It breaks. I think “Thank God for mattress covers.” Then came the famous “ring of fire” feeling that I had heard about and I knew it. It’s the baby and my body is doing all of the work for me. I have no control. I say “I can’t do this.” She and Tony reassure me “Yes, you can!” The baby is coming down and pushes on my bowels but there is no time to worry. Tony cleans me up (that’s true love.) The contractions wave over me but they are a constant flow. Darlene keeps reminding me to “breath and low tones”. I try. Just to have another “wave” hit me. Darlene tells me how God gives a five minute break, just before the big push. God knew better with me. I may change my mind. Then I yell “put him back in”. Tony and Darlene snicker. All I am thinking is “I just want to catch my breath”. There was no time. The boys were then at the door. The baby spirals down and out. It is 12:46. She puts the baby on my chest. She is so excited she says “It’s a boy”. We finally knew that our boys had their baby brother, Grant Edward, weighing in at 8 pounds 10 ounces, 25 inches long. Perfect. It didn’t matter that they had a brother, instead of the sister they wanted because “we have too many brothers” as Grayden says. Gavin was fascinated by the baby that “came out of your bottom, mom.” that he had to announce. We were all elated.  We had the cord pulsating as I snuggled our Grant. I was able to breastfeed an already hungry boy.  We were able to share in this experience as a family that we will never forget. We were in the moment, no distractions, just overflowing with love.

Darlene had checked me over after giving us our time. I had no tears. If I had gotten up, gravity would have taken its toll and I could have torn. It is as though we have this innate knowledge of positioning for each birth. My body did it all on its own. It was the birth I was meant to have and I thank God for, although, a water birth or orgasmic birth may have been nice. It was intense, empowering, short, and sweet. I felt great and looked great. Now I get to go to bed at night with my little boy, knowing he was born in the very spot I dream.

 –Angie Sallows–

Skyler’s Birth Story

543611_417358571620083_354004243_nThis is the most amazing story of our precious baby girls birth! I started to have contractions around 6pm on Sunday, May 13 which was Mother’s Day! While at dinner with my parents and brother they realized that my contractions were regular! They were all just staring at me like I was a bomb about to explode! When John and I got home around 9pm we called our midwife, Darlene, to let her know that the contractions were getting stronger. She said to try and relax and get some sleep, but to call if when my contractions were apart 5 minutes apart. So John and I pulled out the couch bed because it was too difficult for me to get in and out of our waterbed and we watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol! I tried to relax and sleep but I just couldn’t get comfortable because the contractions seemed to be getting stronger. So I started walking around, sitting on the exercise ball, and relaxing in a warm bathto help with labor.

181449_417358588286748_418676268_nAt midnight we called Darlene because my contractions were 4.5-5 minutes apart! She said that she was going to load up her gear and head over! Then we called our moms so that they could help and support me! Once everyone got to our house John was able to get some much needed sleep because he knew that I was in good hands. I really LOVED being in the comfort of our home surrounded by my loved ones! I believe that being at home really helped me to relax! I was able to get into the best positions for laboring. Darlene made sure that I was drinking plenty of fluids like Gatorade, juice and water. She also made sure that I was getting protein shakes to help give me energy for delivery later.

536700_417359808286626_369142783_nOk so I’m not saying that labor and delivery was easy. It was difficult and painful, but all worth it! Going through this experience really opened my eyes to how much I really needed God to give me the strength to get through it. I have never prayed so much in my life! I needed the super natural strength that only God could give me because of being at home there were no drugs to take away the pain. I give God all the glory for bringing Skyler into the world. I would not have been able to do this without Him. I was also covered in prayer by our family and friends! I had John and our moms to encourage me the whole time.

My labor was a long and hard 15 hours! When it was time to push I got into the tub, had a contraction and pushed and my water broke! So excited! It seemed to be taking a while so my midwife had me get out of the tub to check things out. There ended up being a small problem that she was able to fix and I got back into the tub about 30-45 minutes later. It took me about an hour to deliver Skyler. I felt like I wasn’t getting anything done but my support team kept encouraging me to keep pushing. I felt like the baby wasn’t moving at all, then finally the head started to come out and it seemed like it was taking FOREVER for the head to come out all the way! I have never had to push so hard in my life!

When the baby’s head came out Darlene felt to see if the umbilical card was around the neck and it wasn’t so Darlene told John to get down there and catch his baby! John was so shocked that he was going to delivery that baby! He jumped in and felt the baby turn for the shoulders to come out and then I pushed again and out came the baby! John caught and brought the baby up to me! He looked and announced that we had a baby girl! We were so surprised and happy!! LiL Peanut was a girl!!! It was so AMAZING having John delivery our baby girl! This home birth was the BEST experience EVER and we are looking forward to the next time!

Our lives have been forever changed with our precious blessing from God born on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 12:10pm weighting in at 8lbs 8oz, 20.5 inches long and a 13.5 inch head: Skyler Justice Manigold!

–Chelsea Manigold–


Birth of Oliver Thomas

Oliver ThomasMy birth story starts long before contractions began for this labor. This was baby number five. I had been through this a few times and knew what I wanted, and I knew what I didn’t want. I knew that I wanted the same midwife that I saw through my last pregnancy and helped me deliver Chantelle. I also knew I wanted a water birth this time with my husband getting in the tub with me.

Our family has been blessed with four healthy happy children and we thought we would have one more to complete our family. We are a homeschooling, breastfeeding, non-vaccinating, close bonded family who serves the Lord in all we do.

After asking around to find a doctor or midwife who would take me for a VBAC I finally found my midwife, Darlene Scrivner. She was the only one in my area who would allow me to have a VBAC. Up to this time I had no idea that most of the hospitals and birth centers in my area could not do VBAC. It was my birth with my daughter, Chantelle, that really opened my eyes and gave me such belief in my own body. I was able to make decisions, I was asked my opinion, this was my pregnancy. After my midwife arrived while I was in labor, my baby completely turned around and was breech. Darlene gave me the option of transferring to the hospital or staying at home. After discussing this in private with my husband we chose to stay at home. I then delivered a beautiful baby girl about two hours later. I was in complete awe that I not only got a VBAC but that I gave birth to a breech baby so easily. I should say here that while I felt it was easy on my part, my midwife did have to reach in and bring down one of her arms to get her out. Even so, it was done with such grace that it didn’t disrupt a beautiful birth.

Fast forward, and here we are in September of 2013 and my baby had been transverse for months. I was going every few days to the chiropractor, I was doing all the techniques from Spinning Babies, acupuncture, I did everything I could to try to get this baby to turn. Nothing helped. My midwife urged me to see an OB to get established should the need to transport become a reality. I refused. I decided if I needed to go to the hospital it would be for a c-section and I would get what ever doctor was on call anyway. I actually gave my midwife a long birth plan of sorts outlining what I wanted for this labor and birth. I wrote that I wanted to labor at home as long as baby and I were fine. I did agree to transport to the nearest hospital if my water broke when my baby was still transverse. This seemed very reasonable considering the possibility of cord prolapse increased and the likelihood of baby turning would be slim.

OliverThomasTI was five days overdue and was secretly convinced that I was not going into labor because there was no pressure on my cervix. For days I have been having contractions all day and into the night. Some people like to refer to contractions as pressure waves, or other terms, but this time the word contraction allowed me to imagine that my uterus was contracting upon my baby to get him to turn. I welcomed the word, I used it often. Not in association with pain, but to move my baby.

In the middle of the night I couldn’t sleep any more due to contractions waking me. They were not unbearable, just strong enough to not allow me sleep. I got up and started doing all the movement exercises that I thought would move the baby into a better position. I thought about the reality of maybe needing a c-section to get this baby out safely. I thought about so many things while I was up trying to get the baby to move. At one point I remember even getting angry that the baby was in this transverse position in spite of everything I did. I was ok with another breech, but babies can’t come out vaginally in this position.

When morning came I had my in-laws come take the kids, and my mom and sister came to be with me. My sister was a labor and delivery nurse, so I wanted her there with me. My husband made us breakfast. My midwife, being the caring person she is, was seeing another mother at her office this Sunday morning. I don’t know of anyone else who would go in to check on someone on a Sunday morning. After that she was coming to my house if I was still having contractions. I wanted to wait for a while before asking her to come but when a few more difficult contractions came, it scared me a little.

My baby was still transverse at this time and I was afraid my water would break before she got here. When Darlene got here I was only 3-4 cm dilated. It was kind of hard to tell since there was no presenting part against the cervix. She reassured me that the contractions were more for turning the baby at this point. She offered me a transport to the hospital once more. I declined. She began working her magic as we worked together with each contraction and in between.

I will never forget that feeling when he turned from transverse to oblique. It was such a joy and relief. I knew if he could turn that much, then he could make it the rest of the way. I danced around the living room and into the kitchen for a drink, stopping to do figure 8’s with my hips when the next contraction came. My midwife followed me around to listen to baby making sure his heart rate remained in good standing with all the movement. He did just fine.

I continued to do different movements to get him all the way onto my cervix. Once I felt that first contraction with his head directly on my cervix I didn’t know whether to be happy and excited or cry because the intensity became very strong. I didn’t know that the contractions I had been feeling were lessened because his head was not applied well to my cervix. At one moment I even seriously considered going on to the hospital just to get pain medication. But as soon as Darlene held me tight and told me that this was what I was waiting for, the reason they were so different is that I didn’t get the opportunity of a slow build up of intensity as with most labors, I was able to get a grip and continue in a more calm manner. His head was suddenly in place after hours of contractions and pressing strong against the cervix- that was powerful.

I asked to be checked. I was already at a 6-7cm and ready to get into the birth tub. I relaxed completely. The water really helped the intensity and I no longer had to work hard through every contraction but now only had to find comfort measures.

It seemed like I was in the birth tub for a long time, but it was only about 30 minutes before I wanted to get out. I needed to go to the restroom and then wanted to sit on the birth stool instead of getting back in the tub. As soon as I sat on the birth stool the pressure became so intense I thought he was going to just fall out right there. My midwife took my hand and put it on the top of his head. My husband quickly followed and touched his head. With the next contraction my water broke and his head just emerged while I was thinking about getting the courage to push. It was an amazing feeling, so intense, yet so surreal that I was actually having my baby here in my home instead of an operating room. I was excited, nervous, scared, excited, in pain, so so excited but I just gave in and let my body take over.

I reached down to touch him again and felt his body as he slipped out into my husband and midwife’s hands. I reached for him so he was put right into my arms. I felt like I sat there for hours holding him and kissing him over and over crying in disbelief that he was actually here. It was only a few minutes, though. We looked to see if we had a boy or girl. My husband got to announce it was a boy. I didn’t even notice my midwife listening to his lungs, heart or checking on his cord. I never even noticed her checking on my bleeding or anything else. I never noticed my sister taking pictures or my mother bawling her eyes out on the chair at the end of the bed, she was still in shock. I was just lost in my baby’s beauty. My husband was kissing me over and over in tears that we did it and we were at home in our own bedroom.

I could not have done this with out all the numerous prayers that went up on our behalf. It has taught me that no matter what actions we take it is God who is in control at all times. I could not have done this without my in-laws taking my children to give me time alone to concentrate on this birth. I could not have done this with out the support of my sister and mother during my labor. My sister was the designated person to call 911 if my water broke before baby turned or if there were any other emergency. I could not have done this with out my husband’s constant belief I me and that my body could do this. I especially could not have done this with out my midwife who told me of all the risks and benefits and allowed me to choose this birth for my baby.

My kids were brought back home to welcome their new brother. Once we had everyone together my husband announced his name; Oliver Thomas.

My Birth Story: Homebirth turned ALLLLLLLMOST cesarean

PenelopePenelope’s way into this world starts literally days before her actual arrival, which was just greeeeat. Lol. Early Friday morning around 3 a.m. I had my first bout of “false” labor, contractions every 7-10 minutes. I really thought that it was the day with the upcoming full moon and all so I got up around 6 and did my hair & make up all in time for my contractions to… STOP! Ugh! Good thing though, because when I had my appt with my midwife, Darlene, that afternoon we found that I had quite a spike in my b/p, eek! To combat it we started me on calcium-magnesium 3 times a day, lots of protein & water, and rest! It worked great and I was once again ready for labor to start. Great for me I had a repeat of Thursday night on Friday night and the next night and the next night AND the next night! Only Monday night/Tuesday morning they didn’t stop! YAY right?… WRONG! I had contractions every 10-15 minutes from Tuesday 3 a.m. until I finally kicked into active labor on WEDNESDAY!

This time was different though because around 9 p.m. DH and I decided we should check to see if I had made any progress. There wasn’t any difference, BUT I did lose my mucus plug… per DH’s hand! BWAHAHA (Totally tmi but it was hilarious to see his face!) From there my contractions continued so I called Darlene to give her an update. She told me that when I got to the infamous 5-1-1 to give her a call and she’d head our way. Well all through the night my contractions picked up, got closer, got stronger, but never got to the 5-1-1. I did my best to rest between them and would get up, sit on the side of the bed, and hum through them because lying just hurt too much. Around 6am Darlene called me back to let me know she was going to go ahead and head our way since she was 2 hours away. It was finally starting to feel real! DH and I decided to go ahead and get up to get things ready. He got everything cleaned and got the pool set-up while I rested in between contractions on the couch on all 4’s with my head rested on the arm swaying my hips through the contractions that were now about 6 minutes apart…. Days of not having adequate sleep had me quite tired.  This continued for quite some time, all the way up until Darlene got to us around 10.

YAY, time for a cervical check! I was 2cm and 50% effaced. Not nearly as much progress as we had all hoped BUT it was still progress. At this point Darlene told another MW that was coming, Liz, that she could go ahead and make the other stops she needed because we were going to rest. I headed upstairs and tried to get some sleep for a little while. After about an hour I decided rest wasn’t really working so I headed back downstairs. It was about this time that Liz came by and we spent some time all chatting while I sat on my birthing ball through contractions. I started getting hungry so I had some good ol’ pb&j with some milk. It sounded good at the time but the peanut butter didn’t exactly settle with me well. Ugh, nausea in labor is no good! The next couple of hours were pretty relaxed and we chatted while I hummed through contractions that were about 7 minutes apart and just over a minute long (my contractions stayed pretty spaced out the majority of my labor). About mid afternoon all three of us decided that a nap would probably be a good idea since none of us had really slept the night before and we were looking as a long day. DH took this time to go grocery shopping so we wouldn’t have to worry about it later. My contractions were nice too and spaced out to 10-12 minutes apart…  Looking back now I’m so glad that I didn’t stress about my contractions not “cooperating” and rested while I still could.

After DH got back from the store Darlene came up and checked me about 4:30…. I was now at 3cm. Still slow progress, but we were all glad to see that even with contractions spacing out I was continuing to dilate. I decided to go back to resting since my contractions were still spaced out. (I wanted to take advantage while I could) It was while I was trying to rest this time that I REALLY found out how much contraction are TERRIBLE  while laying down and remember thinking to myself “No wonder women cave & get pain meds!”… every contraction I would literally jump up either on my hands & knees or in a child’s pose/frog position. After about an hour I decided that my sleep/jump up/sleep/jump up cycle was enough so I decided to get up.

Darlene thought that this would be a good time to show Liz how to use a rebozo to get baby into better position, which was REALLY neat and felt great! I laid down on it has Darlene shifted my weight from one side to the other until Penelope was nice and straight right down the center of my tummy.  Then I went back to resting, well at least tried. It wasn’t long after lying down though that my contractions kicked up their intensity level and I found myself up out of bed and running to the bathroom… this was the first time I threw up since the dreaded first trimester morning sickness. UGH!  The good thing though is the next time I got checked at 6:30 I was FINALLY at 4cm and I was officially in “active” labor…. it only took some 37 hours! On the downside my blood pressure was elevated again, so we started combating it again with the calcium-magnesium spray. From here on out each contraction definitely took more concentration but once it was over I was able to get back to chatting with Darlene & Liz. This is also when we let our family know that I was officially in labor!

The next couple of hours things picked up and keeping track of time definitely went out the window at this point! (Thankfully Darlene was charting everything so I could reference later or I wouldn’t be able to write this) The next time that Darlene checked my vitals my blood pressure was still elevated so she wanted me to get some protein in me since I hadn’t eaten in quite awhile. I managed a few bites from a protein bar and 2 boiled eggs before my stomach warned me if I had anymore it wouldn’t be staying down. After eating I texted a few friends to start praying for my blood pressure again and also texted my mom telling her I would feel so much better if a couple of our friends from church, T & D, would come pray over me. A few contractions later Darlene suggested that I go take a bath with some magnesium flakes and Epsom salt to further help my blood pressure… it was about 7:30 at this point.

The water felt AMAZING and I recall telling DH that quite a few times! Since I couldn’t get completely submerged DH poured water over my belly through each contraction…. Oh it was heaven! Shortly after getting into the tub my mom arrived with my other little one and she poked her head in to see how things were going….. I told her the water was AMAZING too! 8:30, time for another vitals and cervical check…. I was a whopping 5 cm & my blood pressure was coming down! I stayed in the tub for a bit longer and then my mom poked her head in to let DH and I know that T & D had arrived and were ready to come up and pray over me so I needed to get out and get moving around again.

I didn’t make it to moving very far though and headed to the bed where I got back to my hands and knees & leaning over. T & D headed up and I let them know between contractions that I was so happy they were able to come by and to not mind me if I made any moans or anything through contractions. As T started praying D, his wife, came over to where I was and rubbed my back. It was one of the most amazing moments of my entire birth experience. Not long after T & D left, the contractions got incredibly intense with only about a minute of rest between each and I threw up again. I thought to myself, “Okay, now I hate life…….. this is transition”. Hands and knees position wasn’t working anymore & I found myself leaning over DH putting all my weight on him so I could use all my energy to concentrate. I started to vocalize A LOT more as well…. I thought to myself a couple times that I must be hurting DH’s ear from practically yelling in it each contraction. I went from leaning on him while kneeling on the bed to standing and neither was giving me much relief. I let mom know that I was ready to get in the pool and to start getting it warm again. In the meantime I headed back to the tub.

This time the tub wasn’t nearly as heavenly but it still helped TREMENDOUSLY. DH did a wonderful job helping me through each contraction despite my very short and sharp directions I was giving. I couldn’t talk between contractions anymore and found myself zoning in to my worship music and singing when I could. I also prayed, well kinda yelled, that I desperately needed a break. Thankfully the time between the next contraction was just over 5 minutes….. even so I thought that I really wasn’t ready for the next contraction even though I knew it had to come. Around this time (9:20 to be exact) I recall getting checked again and only being ABOUT 7 cm….. of course I had to hit transition at 7 cm as opposed to 8. It was also at this time that Penelope’s heart rate started getting a bit high through contractions. Discouragement definitely started to set in at this point and I wondered if I was ever going to get in the birth pool. L suggested that I head down that way but mom said it still wasn’t warm and I refused to get out of the tub and go anywhere but straight to the pool.

I started feeling like it had been forever and I needed a change so I headed downstairs before the pool was quite ready. Everyone was doing their job to get things prepared: Mom was boiling water, Darlene was getting her supplies out, Liz was keeping a watchful eye on my & Penelope’s heart rate, and DH was at a constant arms length away (I didn’t let him go very far once I hit transition).  I had a few contractions standing while leaning on DH and that was about all I could take… I headed to the pool even though it still wasn’t all that warm. Ahhhhhhhhhh, water! Liz continued to monitor Penelope’s heart rate while Darlene got everything ready. Still high through contractions and now it was also high between them. Darlene was starting to get concerned, especially since I was having more and more trouble concentrating and breathing through contractions. Darlene gave me some Oxygen and checked me hoping that we’d be able to start pushing. I was finally a good 9 cm, but my cervix was also getting swollen and I had an “anterior lip”.

At this moment I think it’s safe to say I officially threw my hands up  and declared that I couldn’t do anymore and that I wanted to go to the hospital (even knowing this meant I was having a cesarean). The next few minutes got to be really hard and I was having a alot trouble staying positive and calm. Everyone continued encouraging me to breathe deep and Darlene told me to try squatting or laying on my side in the pool to help my cervix.  I wasn’t very compliant at this point because I was really struggling moving around at all so Darlene had me get out of the pool and onto the couch on my hands and knees so she could try massaging some natural oils on my cervix to help the swelling. We tried for a minute but I was having a harder and harder time concentrating and started getting really discouraged. At 11:15 we decided that it would be best for me to go ahead and make the transfer due to the lip, my blood pressure and Penelope’s heart rate.

The minutes following the decision felt like some of the longest minutes of my life and I’ll be completely honest that I was devastated despite me asking to go. Darlene was calling ahead to the hospital & to an O.B. in the area that agreed to be on standby for us, Dr. W.

I was more than ready to leave and get this over with. At one point I told my mom that I didn’t need any clothes and just wanted to get in the car already. My logic told me since I was going to have to strip and get into a gown at the hospital anyways what was the point of me trying to put ON clothes while I was in the middle of transition contractions. Thankfully my mom didn’t let me walk out of the house naked and made me put some shorts and a tank on, shoes never made it to my feet though. Lol. Darlene gave DH the information we’d need to relay to the nurses and we got on our way. The car ride didn’t seem all that long, but I did continually pray for the contractions to stop since in my mind I no longer needed them, again the logic of a woman in transition.

As soon as we got to the hospital the nurses were waiting to get me registered and prepped for surgery. I immediately said, “Give me something for pain; I don’t need to feel these anymore!” When I was told that I couldn’t have anything but an epidural because I was already 9-10cm I wasn’t exactly a happy camper considering I knew that getting an epi would take time and well I wanted to stop feeling contractions like yesterday! Lol. Everything after getting in my room got very foggy, I was completely engrossed in dealing with contractions and paid little attention to who was there and what was going on. The nurses asked me the needed questions to get me in the computer, got me hooked up to the monitors, and took the necessary lab work to prep me. They also kept turning me from side to side which was really annoying because Penelope’s heart rate kept dropping and they needed to keep adjusting the monitor. It felt like I was having contractions practically on top of each other at this point and I was feeling A LOT of pressure!  I remember the girl from the lab going to stick me right as a contraction was starting, my hand gripped on the bed rail, and me snapping at her very forcefully asking if she could please, “WAIT?!” Not my finest moment, but I’m sure that no one blamed me.

Just about this time I felt my contractions change and I started bearing down. Pushing was something that I was trying to avoid doing though because last I had heard my cervix was swollen and I didn’t want to injure myself internally. After 4 or 5 contractions like this I started to feel a slight burning internally and vocalized to Darlene that I felt like I needed to push, still trying not to out of fear. (I found out later that being turned from one side to the other helped the swelling of my cervix go down.)  Sure enough when the nurses looked they saw Penelope’s head come down and then go back up. Liz and Darlene stepped in at this point and gave me some last, very much needed, words of encouragement before the nurses took me off to surgery. Liz came over to my right side and told me “Now the nurses can’t tell you this, but I can, and you could push your baby out.” and Darlene followed on my left side telling me, “You can push your baby out if you want to Amnysti, the next contraction you have if you feel like you need to push you push. Put your chin to your chest and you puuuuuuuush your baby out”. Next minute the nurses said they were ready to go.

It was 12:08 when the nurses started wheeling me toward the O.R. I remember going down the hall and around a corner with DH following behind us when the next contraction started coming on. Still laying on my left side I gave into my fear of pushing, I beared down, and pushed as hard as I could…. this was my last chance. Still being wheeled down the hall I saw the doors to the O.R. and felt my contraction starting to pass so I pushed harder and started to feel Penelope’s head which I yelled out, “I feel the head, somebody hold my leg!” The nurses lifted the cover and sure enough “She’s crowning!” Right then at 12:14 only 6 minutes from the time I left the room, I pushed Penelope out with one long push just inches from the O.R door…. in the HALLWAY!

Immediately I felt like a completely different person. I was awake, felt completely rested, and was overwhelmed with a very calm and collected demeanor. I didn’t get my immediate STS, but since we were in the middle of the hall and there were no clamps or scissors around I most certainly got delayed cord clamping! They rubbed Penelope a bit to get her moving and she started to cry! It was the best sound in the world. The nurses went ahead and wheeled me into the O.R. to get Penelope and I cleaned up and it was officially announced that we had a baby girl!

Right about that time Dr. W came in saying, “Did she do it?!” and put her hands up in joy for me and my VBAC. It was such a surreal moment! Everyone was excited and the nurses were all very acceptant of my many apologies for having been snappy back in the room… They assured me that I did great considering I was unmedicated and they had heard worse. The nurses continued to clean up Penelope while Dr. W checked to see if I had any “damage” that needed repair. Thankfully I had zero tearing with just a small scrape that stopped bleeding when a bit of pressure was put on it.  Because Penelope was born with a slight fever she needed to go to the NICU to be observed so Dr. W went ahead and suggested giving me a small amount of Pitocin since I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed to promote my uterus to contract…  We both agreed that was the best option with my very tired uterus.

As they took me back to my room I remember thinking just before entering, “I know no one is going to expect me back yet… this is great!” Everyone was immediately thrilled to see me so soon having avoided another cesarean and that Penelope and I were doing well! I couldn’t believe it myself, and as great as I felt I told Darlene that I couldn’t wait till next time since I had officially had a successful vbac! She told me to just worry about my new baby and we’d get to the next one later. LOL. When Penelope was brought back to the room she came ready to eat, looking like a little bird opening and closing her mouth. She latched great and my already ample supply of colostrum made for a great first breastfeeding session. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a more amazing birth. I got the wonderful experience of being home and a great experience with a supportive hospital team… definitely the best of both worlds and I can’t wait till next time when I get to go for a homebirth again!

–Amnysti Cavazos–


Dennis Gavin Wilkins birth story

DSC05381I found out I was pregnant again sometime in July. Charlotte was about 8 months old and we both went to the valley with my mom and sister Catherine. Your dad stayed home and worked and took care of our dogs Betsey and Jerky. While in a hotel in the valley I woke up in the morning feeling a bit of nausea, I sat up and said to myself “Oh no I’m pregnant”!  So when I got home I took the test and Sure enough you were there! I was so excited I called your dad to tell him to come home soon. He must have heard the urgency in my voice because he kept asking what was going on. I kept saying I’ll tell you when you get home but he then asked me if I was pregnant! I said yes I’m pregnant again! He was shocked. It took about 3 years get pregnant with Charlotte and we thought it would take a long time to get pregnant again.

I called Darlene that day and I told her the news. She was happy for us and surprised we were expecting again so soon after Charlotte’s birth.  Our prenatal visits went very well for the first 5 months. I tested positive with sugar in my urine.  I controlled my blood pressure naturally with the blood pressurex and extra calcium magnesium. I controlled my sugar with diet and exercise. I rode my bike up until a few days before I went into labor! It was hard keeping up with it and some days I slipped but I got back on the right path. It was great that we found a place close by to have an ultrasound done.  Your grandfather Dennis and Trish were there when we found out you were a boy! We were so excited! We knew you would be named after your father and grandfather. When week 40 was approaching Darlene said she would have to send me in for an ultrasound if he didn’t come soon as to make sure you were ok.

My mom and sister were living with us until their new apartment was ready to move into on March 9th. A full moon was to be on March 8th your dad and my mom said that I would probably go into labor then. They were right! I went to sleep early on the 7th I had a feeling it would happen that night. I was tossing and turning when a big gush of water exploded out of me! I screamed and told your dad you were coming! It was 4am when I called Darlene she was so happy for me. She asked me to call her when I started having contractions.

I took a shower and they started. I got dressed and called Darlene. While waiting for Darlene I ate some left over’s and listened to music and surfed the web. Darlene checked on me by phone and let me know when to fill the birth pool. Your dad was now up and filled the pool but we blew it up unevenly and was a bit lopsided, lol. Darlene arrived at about 8am and added some magnesium in my birth tub and rubbed some on my arm to lower my blood pressure. She took my vitals and my blood pressure was normal! I was so glad!

My contractions were not so bad compared to my labor with Charlotte. I did not puke once! I stood and walked during most of my labor and talked my mom, Catherine and your dad and played with Charlotte a little. Darlene called another midwife Liz to attend my birth and At about 11 am we put on the Wizard of Oz for your sister and I got in the pool. It was such a relief getting in that pool. I had a few contractions and pushed for a while but nothing happened. Darlene checked me and informed me I had a swollen cervical lip. I asked what that meant and she let me know that we had to get the swelling down or I’d be in labor for a while longer. She said we can get the swelling down by not pushing for a while or she can rub some evening primrose oil on my cervix and push it back. That meant I had to get out of the pool. I decided to give not pushing a try, bad idea, lol after holding you in for 3 contractions I asked Darlene to take me to my room and push my cervix back. So your dad came with me and I laid down and Darlene pushed back my cervix as I had a contractions after about 3 minutes she announced the head was out and I told your dad to touch your head, lol . I asked to go back to the pool because we had such a wonderful birth pool and I really wanted another water birth, but I could not control my body and there was no time to get back in.

My body felt like it was possessed and just took over, out you came like a bullet! Your umbilical cord was wrapped around your chest and shoulder so Darlene gave you some oxygen. You had quite a lot of vernix and Darlene estimated you to be about a week early, I guess I was off on my calculations.Liz arrived just after you came.

Your aunt and grandma came in to see you and took some photos. You were only out for about 5 min when you found the nipple and sucked out your milk like a vacuum! You were born at 12:01pm and you were starving! Darlene gave you the vitamin K shot because you were a bit bruised. Your dad cut the cord when it stopped pulsating. You weighed 9lb 2 oz and measured 22.5 in long! I was a bit disappointed I didn’t have a water birth but I was so glad you were finally here and the pain was gone! I saved your placenta and we hope to plant it under a tree soon.

Darlene and Liz were great with postpartum care too they stayed to clean up and help me with whatever I needed. I know I said I didn’t want any more kids but I think we will have one more. Darlene is a wonderful midwife, she took time to answer all my questions. I felt comfortable with her. I hope to have Darlene as a midwife again.

–Melissa Wilkins–

Melissa Gail

 In the early morning hours of April 4 I knew contractions were starting. But I tried to get more rest, as I knew my baby would behouston-homebirth-safety[1] here by supper and I would need plenty of rest. I laid in bed reflecting on my previous births. There was no way I would allow this birth to end the same way and had taken great measures to ensure just that. This time there would be no unnecessary medical interventions, only that which was absolutely necessary since I was planning a homebirth.

At 5:00am I finally got out of bed to do some walking, contractions were a little closer together and the excitement was getting the best of me. I thought about how I was forced to go to the hospital way to early with Jared, our first baby. I was only dilated to a 2 when the drama began. My water was broke against my knowledge or permission, I.Vs were hooked up, and I was stuck in bed, which by the way, is extremely painful during labor! After no progress in 7 hours a c-section was done to ‘save his life.’ I later found out the doctor just didn’t know how to turn a baby and had something he needed to go to that night. I had to beg for five hours to hold my son.

Around 5:35 am I started to cook for the day. That was very helpful, as I didn’t have to concentrate on each and every contraction as my midwife had taught me. Here I was getting ready to have my third baby and everything seemed like it was the first time. I was just excited this time as I was with Jared or Anthony. I knew so much more this time it was amazing yet I didn’t even know if we were having a girl or boy. I thought about where I was in this stage of labor with the boys; flat of my back in a bed with nothing to eat or drink. At one point I was shaking from hunger and knew I would feel so much better if I just had real food. As I patted my tummy during a contraction, I took a big bite of my egg omelet, a tear ran down my cheek as I mourned the loss of a good birth that went bad for no real reason except a policy written by someone who had never even had a baby.

It seemed like I was in the kitchen for hours when the alarm set for 6:00 am went off in our bedroom. I rushed in to turn it off so it didn’t wake Mark. I kissed his cheek and told him he didn’t have to go to work today, he was going to be a father again by the end of the day. I went back to the kitchen, as I needed a good distraction from these contractions again. The food was almost done for lunch and supper. Breakfast was on the stove. I sat at the table and looked out the window, the beginnings of the sun started to peer out. Again my thoughts turned to my previous births. It took all my strength to have a VBAC with Anthony, but I did it. I thought of my previous birth plan and how it was laughed at once I got to the hospital. Then by the time I got to my room it was ‘lost.’ The doctor, I had diligently paid in full, in cash, was nowhere to be found. I had no idea that he didn’t even have an obligation to come to the hospital even after we had paid him. I laid there in total shock. I told them I ate a big meal right before I came in knowing they would have to allow me some time before they tried to push a c-section again. As I sat looking out the kitchen window I thought of how peaceful it was not having to deal with strangers who try to push their wants onto me during a most sensitive time as labor. I thought of how they tried to scare Mark into making me consent to another c-section while I was secretly pushing under the sheets. If it weren’t for a nurse watching my monitor at the nurse’s station I would have just kept pushing him out while they argued as to whether or not I could do it. By the time they got all their stuff together he was crowning, I pushed him out into the arms of a nurse I had grabbed by the arm and yelled, “Catch him!”

It was 6:25 before Mark came into the kitchen. He asked if I was really in labor or could this maybe be those Braxton Hicks again. I hugged him real hard and let him know this was for real. That woke him up, he started rushing around, asking what needs to be done. I told him breakfast, lunch and supper was on the stove and we were set for a day of baby. He asked if I had called the midwife yet and I let him know I wasn’t ready quite yet. He wanted to call his mom. Absolutely not, I told him. She was worse than dealing with hospital staff in labor. I thought of my labor with Anthony and how she had bullied Mark my whole pregnancy and told him over and over ‘Once a c-section, always a c-section.’ That came from a woman who had a saddle block and had her children dragged from her body with forceps. That was all Mark knew about birth growing up, and I didn’t know much more. I was always taught you just go to the hospital as soon as you are in labor and leave the decisions regarding yourself and your baby to someone else.

It was getting close to 7:00am when Mark insisted I call my midwife. She gave me some pointers and lots of encouragement and started on her way. I started the water for a nice warm bath, as contractions were growing more painful. I was sitting in a chair on the side of the tub when I just started crying. Mark rushed in. He asked if I needed to go to the hospital after all. I hugged him and let him know I was just having a hard time dealing with what had happened in my previous labors with the boys and I just needed support. I reassured him that physically I was fine, better than fine, I was in labor and it was wonderful. Wonderful isn’t the word used to describe most labor, but the excitement of being able to just have my baby with no fight or arguing, no strangers in and out, no IVs, and no bed, it was a wonderful labor despite thinking about my previous births.

I sank into the tub in total bliss. The contractions were harder, my excitement grew, but my feelings of loss of my two previous births kept creeping in. Mark poured water over my back during contractions. He paused and said, “ I’m so sorry for not trusting you during your pregnancy with Jared and Anthony. I know you love our children just as much as I do and would never do anything to put their life in danger. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to read and learn more or listen to what you had learned.” With that I burst into tears again. I needed to hear that, I know my healing began at that moment, he understood. We sat there in each other’s arms, calmness over came me. I thought I had felt peace with this labor all morning, but not like this. A great burden was lifted. I had been so angry for so long that he didn’t stand up for me in the hospital, he took the trader’s side, I had felt. I thought about my pregnancy and how far we had come as a couple, as a family. I smiled inside when I thought of how he had wrote my midwife a nasty letter telling her she was unqualified to deliver babies and he wanted someone who knew how to resuscitate and put his baby on oxygen if it were necessary. I chuckled inside thinking about how she wrote him a beautiful letter in return, not once scolding him for how he treated her. She assured him that she not only carried oxygen, and knew how to resuscitate a newborn, but taught CPR  many of the nurses in the area hospitals. So if he wanted to blame the nurses if something went wrong, she would still be the bad guy as she was the one who may have taught them.

There was a knock at the door. It was his mother! My heart sank. She had threatened to call child protective services and 911 if we went through with a homebirth. I hoped Mark would tell her I was sleeping and to leave. There was another knock. It was my midwife, Darlene. She came in and hugged Mark and his mother, congratulating them. Then she did something brave, she asked if Mark’s mother would help her! How did she know that would be the breaking point, how did she know that asking this cold, perfectly manicured woman that has given me nothing but grief, would melt her heart and she would be supportive.

It was 7:45am when I asked about the time. It seemed like hours, but it was just a few minutes. Contractions were much harder, much closer together, I needed support, but was so happy I could barely stand it. Darlene checked me while I was still in the tub. Baby’s heart tones were good, and I was already dilated to a 9, I cried again, smiling ear to ear. My thoughts went back to my labor with Anthony. At this time in labor I was refusing cervical checks every fifteen minutes, demanding they not put a screw into my baby’s head, and begging for something to eat with a little protein to build up my strength. Here I was in my own bathtub and my midwife knows what is important to me and will honor my wishes.

I wanted out of the tub. I think I just wanted a change of position to see if it helped these contractions. As I dried off and wrapped a towel around me, my midwife put her arm around me to help me to my room. My water broke as soon as I took one step. I looked over to see that she had brought all her equipment in and it was discretely waiting to be used. Mark had put the plastic sheeting on the bed, just in case I wanted to go there. But after drying off, I caught my breath and asked for the birth stool. Another contraction came immediately. I squatted with a push, I was amazed how my body knew what to do. I had thought of pushing on a bed, in the bath, and on the birth stool, but this felt good. My mother-in-law stood at the bathroom door holding the birth stool. I squatted again pushing. My midwife softly told me I was doing fine, my vital signs were good, baby’s heart tones were perfect, just push as I needed to. I looked at Mark, and gave in to my labor, I could feel my baby’s head emerging slowly. Wow, I had never actually experienced this before. I had been yelling at nurses during this time with Anthony. Darlene took Mark’s hands and led them to the baby’s head then she felt around the neck. Baby looks fine, she said, as our precious baby daughter slipped into his awaiting hands at 8:16am. I was crying, Mark was crying, my mother-in-law was crying, and in the hallway, there was Jared and Anthony crying because I was not in bed to snuggle them. My mother-in-law picked up Anthony and took Jared by the hand and stood in the bathroom doorway so they could see their new sister. I nursed her while waiting for the cord to stop pulsing and be cut. I was in total awe of her, all 9 pounds and 8 ounces. I did it, I did it, I kept thinking to myself.

I am writing this as part of my therapy. I want to share it with as many people possible.Even though I had the most wonderful birth, I have suffered tremendous postpartum depression at the loss and disappointment of my labor and births with Jared and Anthony. I am having such a hard time dealing with the fact that anyone could treat a laboring woman in such a way as to steal away her birth experience or make the birth of a child a horrible memory. After my homebirth everyone treated me as if I should just bounce back like super woman because I was strong to have a homebirth. But in reality it was enduring what I went though in the hospital that made me strong. I had to be strong to get through all of those policies and procedures, that were totally unnecessary, and still end up with a live baby. Homebirth was a breeze, for the first time I was taken care of, I had choices, I delivered my baby. And Mark stood with me.

I did have a small tear where my scar was from the tear with Anthony, but it was minor. We thought we had the perfect name picked out before her birth, but after Mark’s mother made such a complete turn around and has been so supportive since the birth, we decided to name our first daughter after both our mothers, hence the name Melissa Gail. I have never been separated from her and have exclusively nursed her from her first moment of birth.

just Karen

Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives

Baby Roxanne

    I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. I had to remember this verse over and over while I was in labor as this was not what I had envisioned five months ago when I got a positive pregnancy test.

     It was April when I went to see my midwife, Darlene, suspecting I was pregnant. Sure enough it only took two seconds for that test to show positive. I was so happy I raced home to make a nice meal for supper so I could tell my husband and our two sons.

    Over dinner I asked everyone what they wanted for Christmas that year. After I had heard about all the newest toys and CDs my husband, James, asked what I wanted. I quickly answered with either a boy or a girl. All the chattering stopped. “A boy or girl?” my husband asked with a puzzled look. “Yeeessss” I said slowly. He jumped up, picked me up out of my chair and twirled me around and around. The boys weren’t too sure they were happy quite yet. “Where will the baby sleep?” Michael asked. With me and dad, I said, as a matter of fact. “Yippeee” he said jumping around the table to join in the moment and try to get out of eating his vegetables at the same time. Soon all four of us were having so much fun we almost forgot to finish our meal.

   Four months later James and I went out on our once a month date, alone. We went to see a movie he had wanted to see since it came out. I had drank so much bottled water during the previews that by the middle of the movie I had to go find a bathroom. It was then that I noticed blood, bright red blood, the kind my midwife always says to call immediately if I ever saw any when I was pregnant with the boys. I sat in the bathroom stall and cried for a while. I knew blood was not a good sign. Even though I know many women have spotting and go on to have a normal uneventful pregnancy, I just had a dark gloomy feeling, I think back now and I knew something was wrong. I gathered myself and found my way back to the theater; I tapped my husband on the shoulder and motioned for him to come. I whispered, “We have to go.” With the light from the movie he could see that I had been crying, he got up and we walked to the back of the theater. I found a pay phone and called my midwife. When she answered all I could get out was, “Hi, Darlene, this is Melanie.” when I couldn’t choke out another word. She just said, “Come on over and let’s talk about it.” On the way to her house I finally found the words to tell my husband I had seen blood. He really didn’t get it since I had spotted in the first couple weeks with Johnathan, our second son.

     When we got to Darlene’s house she came out to meet us at the car with a warm hug, still not knowing what was wrong, just that I was upset. When we got inside I told her about the blood I had seen. She came and sat right in front of me and held both my hands. “What makes this spotting feel different?” she asked first. I told her that something just didn’t feel right; it wasn’t like when I had spotting before. She did a complete exam and used the Doppler to try to find the baby’s heart beat. She tried and tried. She then spent the next thirty minutes explaining to us the possibilities of what was going on. She explained that I needed to go to the emergency room, since this was a Saturday and there was no doctor office open to refer me for a consultation and ultrasound. She went on to go over everything that may be found in an ultrasound, from the baby being just fine and healthy to fetal demise. She then explained all our choices, good or bad.

   In the emergency room we were seen pretty quickly. We were taken back to a room, assessed by a nurse, and waited for the doctor. Another nurse came in and asked what doctor I was using so he could be called. James said, “She is seeing a midwife as she did with our two boys.” Her whole tone changed and she began to talk down to me, treating me like a child, after scolding me she began saying I would need all these tests and they would have to check me for sexually transmitted diseases. James stood up and asked her name, her full name, and how long she had been a nurse. He wrote it all down on the papers we had to sign when we first arrived. He then very calmly said that he wanted a different nurse, that he brought me in to rule out a miscarriage and he would not tolerate his wife being treated badly because of our choice in health care professionals. He stated that we had been happily married since we graduated from high school and that I did not need to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases with out a valid reason. She left the room, rolling her eyes.

   About two hours later another nurse came in with a doctor. This nurse was an older woman and was very kind. We had to go over why we were here once again. James shook her hand and simply stated we are here for an ultrasound to determine the status of our baby. He went on to say that all my prenatal lab work and prenatal check-ups were up to date and he would call the midwife to have them faxed if necessary. The nurse took a little more information that the previous nurse had not gotten to yet. Then trying to make general conversation she asked, “So, why have you chosen to go with a midwife?”

 I gathered my strength. Any other time I would have no problem going into great detail of why I would never choose to walk into a hospital to have a baby, but I could only focus on how this baby was doing, if he or she was still alive. “I just don’t care to deal with all the unnecessary things that are done to a laboring mom in a hospital. I just simply want to have my baby and I want the same person that has cared for me the entire pregnancy to be there.” I could go on and on. I could tell her about how ridiculous it is for a mom in labor to be put in a bed on her back, or how I would like my husband to hold me and support me, or how I don’t care to be prepped for a c-section the whole time I am in labor by putting in an IV and keeping me from eating or drinking anything or how stupid it is to push my baby out in stirrups. But I kept thinking about why we were here and my baby inside me, I couldn’t get out any more. “Well,” she said, “what if you need a c-section? Then what would you do at home? Not wanting to get into a debate with this woman, James asked her, “What are the main reasons for a c-section to be done?” She stood up and held her clip board in a very authorative manner ready to give us a full sermon. “ Fetal distress is the number one reason for an emergency c-section, how would you determine that at home?” In a calm voice James told her how our midwife frequently checks the baby’s heart beat and all other vital signs that are usually done in a labor room, and how she stays with us continuously monitoring my well being. He went on to state that the main reasons for fetal distress in a hospital are the mother being on her back with the baby sitting on his own oxygen supply, and how keeping a mom from important nutrition wears her body down. He continued down the list of all the things that are totally unfounded by science that are being forced on laboring women in hospitals during a very vulnerable time in their life.

When I finally found the strength to look up the nurse was actually shaking her head ‘YES.’ She gave me a hug and said the ultrasound tech would be here soon. I felt a little more at ease.

The ultrasound tech was very distant. She did a quick scan over my belly to get a quick look, then slowed down and took pictures. “How is the baby?” James asked, after what seemed to be an eternity. “I’m not allowed to give any details, just a report to the doctor.” She said very straight faced. James walked around the exam table and looked at the screen. He looked on for several minutes watching her put in labels and print pictures. As he stood there tears welled up in his eyes.

After many moments of silence she finally left the room. “I didn’t see any movement or any heartbeat.” James said, very softly choking out the words. We called our midwife, Darlene, from our cell phone and told her what we knew so far. She once again went over our choices and suggested we go over them again when the doctor comes in to see us. She always says it’s important to be well informed to make an ‘informed decision.’

We were moved back to the same room we came from. After about thirty minutes the doctor came in. “I’m going to admit you and schedule a D & C for in the morning.” He said with out even looking up from the papers he was holding. “WHAT?” James and I asked at the same time, in total disbelief. We knew there was a pretty good possibility that our baby had died, but to tell us in that manner and not go over our choices; we were both numb.  “Your baby is dead, and must come out before infection sets in, so we’ll just take care of that in the morning, you two don’t have to worry about a thing.” The doctor said as he was walking back out of the room. After he left James stood in front of the door as if to protect me as we searched for the words to say to each other. “Whatever you want to do I’ll stand beside you.” He offered, trying to choke back tears. “I can’t believe that man just came in here, stated he is going to surgically remove my baby and not even go over our choices or even look at me.” I finally said, very angry. “There is no way I am staying here!”

We sat and discussed our options. After about twenty minutes the nurse came back in. We told her how upset we were with how that doctor had just spoken to us and how he didn’t even take the time to go over our options. That was our option if we stayed, there was no other choice, she explained how it would be handled in the hospital. We called the doctor back in and told him we were going to go home and think about it, if we decided to have a D & C then we would call him and come back in. We got the discharge papers stating all our risks from infection to hemoraging and we left.

On the way home I called my midwife and let her know our baby had died and what we had decided. I told her we were just going to let the baby come naturally and we would call her again for any special instruction once we got home.

     We picked up the boys and once we got home we discussed what had happened that night. We all cried and talked about what we would miss now that the baby has gone to heaven.  We shared some hot cocoa and cookies and talked until we could no longer hold our eyes open.

     It was about two weeks later that I started cramping and spotting again. I knew this was the labor I had been waiting for. I called my midwife and let her know, then called James to come home. I had cramping for about two hours when I really wanted Darlene to be here. Even though I had no idea how long this would take I wanted her to be here early, if for nothing else, for the comfort she gives me. She came in quietly and hugged me and asked how I was doing. She did a complete exam all except for listening for a fetal heart beat. I really didn’t think the little things like that that would be so noticeable. Even though my complete exam was just like any other, not getting out the Doppler and squirting gel over my tummy really hit me hard. I started to cry. I told her and James how hard it was to not listen to a heart beat during this labor. We sat and cried together. Than she reached into her exam bag and pulled out a gift box and handed it to me. I slowly opened it. Inside were carefully selected items for labor support plus a few extras. There were warm wool socks, red raspberry tea, lip balm, and a small box of chocolates among the other items.  She then got up to walk to the door. “Where are you going?” I asked. “Into the living room to leave you two alone, you need to lean on each other now.” She said softly.

     After she closed the door it hit me, this would be the last day I can hold onto my baby. After today this is it, I will not be pregnant anymore and I won’t have a baby to sleep beside me tonight either. We sat and talked to each other about how we felt and our plans for the future. We also discussed giving this baby a name. We didn’t know if it was a boy or girl. We didn’t even know if that would be able to determined after the baby was out.

     One and a half more hours of cramping contractions I could feel pressure on my bladder, not like I had to go to the bathroom but an uneasy pressure. I called Darlene back in for another exam. She noticed I was very tense and tightly holding my legs together and asked why I was tensing my lower body like this. At that  moment I realized I had just been holding my baby in, knowing she was right there. I relaxed a little while she got things ready and made sure James and I were comfortable. “You can give a gentle push when you are ready.” She said very softly. I was not ready. I didn’t think I would ever be ready. But with tears streaming down my face, I gave a little push. The baby came out all at once, it felt so tiny, but I held my eyes closed afraid to open them. When I finally found the strength to open them, I saw how carefully Darlene was holding our baby in a small towel. “Do you want to see your baby yet? And do you want to know if it’s a boy or girl?” She asked always speaking softly. “Yes, yes!” We both said. “Your baby is a girl, about sixteen weeks gestation. Perfectly formed.” She offered. “There is no obvious reason for her death. You may send her to the lab if you would like to determine the cause of death, just as we discussed.” We both shook our head no, and held the baby just looking at her, trying to memorize each and every curve. Darlene checked me over very carefully making sure the placenta was whole and no parts were missing.

     She then asked if we wanted some time alone with our daughter. We sat together for about thirty minutes confirming decisions we had already made over the last couple of weeks. Then we gave our baby a name. Roxanne, because she was born at sunrise.

    We gave our baby a very private burial in a location where only family and a few close friends were in attendance. Our home now displays a shadow box of several items we had chosen for our baby before we lost her. It includes handmade booties, a rattle, a bib and an ultrasound picture. We also have a keepsake certificate of her birth complete with the tiniest feet print I’ve ever seen. We did take a few pictures of our daughter but didn’t get them developed for over a year, when we were ready.

     Two years later we welcomed another daughter full term and perfect. We have thankfully had the same midwife, our Darlene, with the birth of all four of our children. She truly knew the joy of this pregnancy making it to full term and made it extra special for us. This daughter, our second daughter we named Beatrice, because she truly is the “bringer of joy.”


Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives

Madeleine’s Story

Darlene was everything I wanted in a midwife. I interviewed several before I found her. I had never had such a wonderful health care provider. Every check up she answered every question that Michael and I had. She provided us many resources for natural products and information on topics such as circumcision, vaccination, and homeschooling. We felt very well taken care of. She was there for us from the very beginning of pregnancy all the way though to breastfeeding troubleshooting.
January 15, 2006

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe contractions started at about four or five in the morning. I got out of bed and started pacing out apartment. They continued. I drank a large glass of water, and laid down. They continued. So at around six I called Darlene and told her I thought that I was beginning to go into labor. She told me to try to rest and call her every hour to keep her updated. At about nine she arrived at my apartment and when she checked me I was 4 centimeters dilated. We walked around outside, ate, and tried different positions to see what was comfortable and helped labor progress. At around three the contractions started to get stronger. During the strongest one I had had yet my water broke. It felt like something had popped in my lower back. I was in the middle of the contraction and couldn’t say anything but “water”. So I got handed a glass of water. We all laughed and then I changed into a large over sized tee shirt. . Throughout my labor Darlene checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heart tones. I really appreciated this because it gave me assurance that everything was going along smoothly. I had my birthing tub set up. I got in at around 7 centimeters. At this point everything got very hazy and intense at the same time. I felt almost outside of my body, but at the same time more in tune than I had ever been before. People took turns putting pressure on my lower back and helping me make deep throaty moans to help with the intensity of active labor. At nine centimeters I got out of the tub to so she could check me. Darlene applied Evening Primrose Oil to my cervix and then I was at a complete ten. The pushing felt good. I remember her getting topical anesthetic out to give me a shot in case I torn, and the sight of the needle made me very determined to get the baby out without tearing. Madeleine shot out at 5:30 like a football. No tearing. Michael my husband caught her. She was 7 lbs. And 2 oz and 21 inches long. I was so amazed all I could think or say was, “Wow, there was really a baby in there.” Shortly after that I delivered the placenta and got cleaned up and in bed. Madeleine started nursing like a pro. I don’t think that I slept all that night. I just couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was amazing


-Madeleine’s Mom

Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives

The Birth of Eden Marie Ghazwani

 I found Darlene through a mutual friend of the family. She had directed me to her website only moments after I found out I was waterbirth-houston-story[1]expecting. I immediately experienced a feeling of peace. I’ve always done things as naturally as my lifestyle allows, so for me childbirth would be no different. Reading Ina May’s book Guide to Childbirth during my first trimester affirmed my decision, and let me know that I wasn’t alone in wanting the best for myself and my child.

I loved having my check-ups in a comfortable home-like environment, away from the germs that come with hospitals and waiting rooms. I didn’t have to wait for an hour only to be seen 10 minutes as in most OB offices. I never waited more than 5 minutes and each check-up was about an hour long. My prenatal care was tailored to my own specific needs.I loved the idea of having supplements, diet changes, and vitamins and exercises recommended to me based on my specific needs. I looked forward to seeing Darlene each month and enjoyed the time she spent with me going over what to expect, all-the-while building my confidence in my ability to birth my baby. I have never regretted my decision and I couldn’t imagine giving birth anywhere other than the comfort of my own home, surrounded by only the people I love and everything familiar to me. Eden Marie came into this world in the most peaceful and nurturing manner possible, it brings me so much joy knowing that I gave her the best start to life that I could.

I was 15 days post-date and having lots of early contractions. I took a long bath when I got out and my mom made me eggs and peanut butter toast while Darlene checked me over. We sat around for an hour or two and timed my contractions…they were finally starting to hurt and at first I wasn’t sure if I was truly in labor. After Darlene timed a few I went upstairs and laid down for an hour or so. She had been checking my blood pressure and listening to baby’s heartbeat periodically and everything was going great, I was dilated to a 4 at that point.

I got out of bed around 5pm or so and we began picking up my room and getting things ready. I had some really nice contractions and we were planning on going to the whole foods market when Jamal got off at 7 to get some fruit and disposable diaper liners. I had my heart set on putting her in cloth diapers first thing. Just as Jamal got home however things picked up and I was having contractions that were really close together and I had to get on my hands and knees during each contraction. Being able to choose which position to labor in was very comforting. I couldn’t imagine having to lie in a bed for even two contractions.
waterbirth-houston[1]I labored around my room for about an hour and a half before Darlene’s birth assistant Emily got there. It was nice to have her there because she is a Doula and knew right where to massage my back while I was having a contraction. I did a few standing, and a few hanging off of Jamal’s neck rocking from one foot to another. For the most part though hands and knees worked best. When they got bad I would breath in deep breaths and blow them out while saying “whoooo” in a low tone. Doing this was pretty much the only thing that got me through towards the end. I starting getting shaky around 10pm so Darlene checked me and I was a seven! Time to fill up the birth tub!

I got in and didn’t feel much relief but I knew the end was near so I asked someone to go downstairs and get my mom. I remember flipping over onto my hands and knees like usual and my body gave two huge pushes by itself. It was so intense, that’s when everyone got down to business and Jamal got in the tub with me. I was in transition so I was feeling cold on the parts of my body that weren’t in the water, Emily put a towel on my shoulders and offered to put my hair back for me but at that point I was too focused on the task at hand.

My water broke in Darlene’s hand as she was checking me at 10:30 or so. I was pushing on hands and knees and getting very vocal because it was just such an intense feeling. At one point her heart rate dropped to 110 so Darlene decided to coach me on how to get her out with the next contraction. I was squatting with my back against the tub wall and Jamal right across from me. Emily was behind me being encouraging in my ear and pulling my legs back for me. Darlene had two fingers on the muscle I was supposed to be pushing with. During the next contraction I got her head out and took a small break. I later learned that Darlene had to do some careful maneuvering to help me not tear because her right hand was stuck by her face. She wanted me to reach down and feel her coming out but I said “No, I can’t.” Darlene told me again to reach down and feel my baby being born but I said I couldn’t and that I just wanted her out! “Well get her out.” she said, and with the next push, I did!

I immediately said YES and she handed her to me. We stayed in the tub and took some pictures while I fell in love with this tiny little girl that just came out of me. Time stood still for those moments. They helped me onto the birth stool to deliver the placenta and Jamal cut her cord, Eden stayed in my arms the entire time. Emily got me cleaned up and semi-dressed while Darlene weighed and measured Eden and got her cleaned up and dressed. We crawled into bed and Jamal, the new daddy, got some skin-to-skin time with his new baby. It was beautiful…we just laid there and bonded with her while they got my room cleaned up. After a few hours of answering our questions and making sure we were both ok they left us to get some sleep. It was around 1:45am.

Overall I was in good active labor for 6 hours and pushed for 20 minutes. I got away with only a huge bruise on the inside and three tiny little scratches, NO tearing woooo! We had been listening to Bob Marley and the Beatles the whole time and I guess my iTunes was on for a while without me paying attention, because someone later told me that she was born to Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin…This made Daddy very happy. She was 7 and a half lbs. and 21 inches long. Born at 11:04 on July, 11th.

– Eden’s Mom

Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives

Birth of Noah Crosby

I have never ever regretted choosing homebirth!  In fact, it has been one of the best experiences of my life.  I have 6 kids and all but one were born at home.  We had planned to have my third child at home like the first two, but because my water broke early and I did not go into labor right away I had to go to the hospital.  At the time I was not too thrilled about the situation, but now I am glad I went through that experience so I could have a firsthand experience with which to compare my wonderful homebirth experiences.  There was no comparison really!  Homebirth was better in every way.

I first learned about homebirth from my sister-in-law who used a midwife.  This is the first I remember hearing of an option otherhomebirth-texas[1] than the hospital.  I had hear plenty of horror stories from lots of women about the hospital birthing experience so I became very interested in my sister-in-law’s experience especially when I became pregnant with our first about the same time she had her baby.  She invited me over to her house to meet her midwife.  I instantly like her and the idea of having my baby in the privacy and comfort of my own home.

Over the next months, as my tummy grew so did my knowledge of homebirth.  I literally devoured all kinds of books about homebirth, babies, and nursing.  It was all very fascinating and I learned a lot.  Also, my midwife was a huge source of education for me.  She would come to my house for my prenatal check-ups and would stay for awhile teaching us more and more about what was happening and what to expect from the birth experience.  Since this was my first, my husband and I were full of questions and a bit nervous, but she patiently helped to allay all our fears.

The actual birth of my first was just amazing.  I awoke that morning which happened to be my son’s due date and when I went to the restroom I discovered what they call the “bloody show”.  My mucous plug had disloged!  My husband and I were so excited!  Everything was pretty normal for awhile, but around lunch time I began to have light labor pains.  I called my mom to let her know what was happening and she came over soon.  My husband, mom , and I ate lunch together, played cards, talked and enjoyed each others’ company in between me standing up and walking around when a contraction came.  At this point, they were very light.  We had called the midwife and were told to time the contractions and keep her informed.

Around 4 o’clock, my dad came to join us, but he was concerned for me (being a dad and all!)  My contractions were still not too hard.  The midwife came over around 6 o’clock.  She realized that the reason I wasn’t progressing very fast was I had, as she called it, “performance anxiety”!  She asked my parents to go next door to our neighbor’s house and wait for our call.  After that things began to progress much faster!

My contractions got harder and closer together.  I remember feeling very strange as if I had taken some drugs for the pain even though I hadn’t.  The midwife just smiled at me and said to her assistant, “I think the hormones are working!”  Evidently, my own body knew what to do to help me cope with the pain.  I don’t really remember it being very hard to handle.

The midwives left my husband and I to be alone in the bedroom with the door open while they were down the short hallway in the kitchen.  Being a private person, I really appreciated this!  During the harder contractions, I stood hugging my husband while he whispered encouragement to me, prayed with me, and even sang a little.  This was a tremendous help.

Soon I told my husband I felt a need to push.  I did not need a machine to tell me it was time–I knew!  Even though it was my first baby, I still knew.  The midwives sprang into action!  They raced down the hall, and after only about 10 minutes of pushing my baby was here!  I remember looking down at him all brand new–it is a picture I will never forget!  He was born at 9:47 pm healthy and vibrant!

I wish I had time to tell all my birth stories because each is so special and a memory to be cherished.  I can tell them and smile fondly instead of cringing at the memory.  I am so thankful I have had these wonderful experiences and would highly recommend homebirth to any woman that is a candidate for it.


– Joy Crosby

Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives

The Birth of Charlotte Melissa Wilkins

houston-homebirth-story[1]I was always terrified of birth. I remember asking my mom when I was about 11 or 12 why my aunts had to have IV and machines hooked to them and have the ‘needle’ in their back or surgery. I remember asking my mom if that was how we all have babies. I remember telling her I never wanted to have a baby if I had to have one that way. It wasn’t until after I got married and moved to England when I was 20 (in 2004) that I realized that women have options and not all women are drugged and hooked up to machines. I loved to watch the British reality show about midwifes it was really nice to see women birthing naturally. I also Loved the documentary ‘The Business of being born’ from then on I knew I would never give birth in a hospital or have an OB deliver my baby. My husband and I moved back to Texas a few years later. When I became pregnant I already knew I would have Darlene as my midwife. I had spoken to her 2 years earlier when my husband and I decided to have a baby. She made me feel comfortable and I felt we were on the same page of what I wanted for my birth. I felt safe and loved being pregnant I had no worries even though my blood pressure was a bit high. Darlene was great with prenatal care I managed to lower my blood pressure and stabilize it with natural herbs in “Blood Pressurex”.  She advised me what types of vitamins I and supplement my body needed. I had a pretty easy pregnancy.


On October 18, 2010 my dog, Jerky, was whining and woke me up at 3:00am! I thought he needed to go outside to pee, as soon as I stood up my water broke! I was shocked because I was 2 weeks early! I woke my husband up and called Darlene, since I wasn’t having contractions yet she advised me to get some sleep and she would call in a couple of hours. So I went to bed and tried to sleep but I couldn’t. All I kept thinking of is I can’t wait to see my baby and Oh my goodness my father in law is going to be here when I give birth (He was visiting from England).About half an hour after my water broke I started having contractions. They were not painful so I stayed in bed. About 15 minutes later they became more frequent and more painful. That’s when I called Darlene. I spent most of my time walking and sitting until Darlene and her assistant arrived around 11 am. When she got here she did an exam and I was already 5 centimeters dilated and almost completely effaced. My 12 year old sister and mom came to see me around 1 pm. It was like a party so many people in our house. My mom stayed for lunch and went back to work. Around 2pm I was ready to get in the tub! My husband and sister went in with me. It was amazing how my body just did what houston-home-birth-story[1] it had to do. There was no way stopping it! I pushed for about 20 min and my beautiful baby girl was born at 3:00pm sharp! 12 hours of labor. By 7 pm we were all having dinner celebrating our little Charlotte Melissa Wilkins she was 6lbs 5 ounces. And 19.5 inches long. This birth was amazing I couldn’t have asked for a better birth J I hope Darlene will be available for my next birth.


-Melissa Wilkins


Darlene Dorries-Scrivner, Licensed Midwife
Member of Association of Texas Midwives
“It’s not just the making of babies, but the making of mothers that midwives see as the miracle of birth.” ~Barbara Katz Rothman~”