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Blessings From Above

Shortly after our son Cody’s first birthday, we were so excited to find out that we would soon be blessed with a brother or sister for Cody. I began seeing a doctor and informed him that I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. I think he probably thought I was crazy, but agreed to what ever I wanted to do. I had a fully medicated birth with Cody at the hospital and was determined to have our next baby more “naturally”. In accordance with God’s perfect will for our lives, I soon realized that He, however, had a different plan for the birth our second child.

I agreed to stop by at a catalog party given by Kim, whom I had seen at church but did not really know, yet. I heard her mention homebirth to someone else and asked her if she knew of a midwife. She said she had her last two babies at home with Toni Kimpel and that she would be coming to the party. I had a brief chance to ask Toni some questions before rushing off for a meeting, but a spark began. I was so excited to tell my husband that I had met a midwife who did homebirths. Kim called the next morning to ask if I had any questions about homebirth and the beginning of a wonderful godly friendship began. I then called Toni and she mailed me all of the technical information. I really felt at peace about doing a homebirth, so we decided to go for it. I began seeing Toni when I was 15 weeks pregnant and loved the one on one time she spent with me at each visit.

laborsupportMy pregnancy went on without a hitch as I read lots of information on how to have a natural birth. About a month before I was due, I read a book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. I was convinced that I could have a Christ centered birth if I would turn every aspect of the birth over to God and let him handle it. After all, he created the whole birth process and would know best how it should work. I called Kim, who agreed to be at my birth, and told her what I wanted to do. She was so excited and agreed to be my spiritual labor partner. I found several scriptures that spoke to me about labor and wrote them down in a spiral note card book. Then I passed this on to Kim who prayed over them and memorized them so she could speak them over me at my birth. I also daily prayed over my body, the baby, and the labor/delivery, commanding my body to do what it was created to do with God’s help. I specifically prayed, if it was God’s will, that my water would break signaling the beginning of labor, since Toni lived almost 1 hour away, my sister-in-law Meg lived 1 ½ hours away, and my mom lived 2 ½ hours away.

On Monday, March 31st, I laid Cody down for a nap, and laid down myself to watch a movie with my husband. At 1:30PM I felt a pop, but laid there for five more minutes not wanting to get my hopes up. When I stood up though, it was obvious that my water had broken. Thank you Lord! Kim was at my house within 10 minutes, but since I was not having any contractions, I told Toni to come when she was done running her errands. By 3:30 Toni, Joni (apprentice), and Meg had all arrived, but still no major contractions. At 5:30 Toni checked me and I was only 3cm dilated so she suggested that I sit on the birthing ball to get things moving. Active labor kicked in and I actually felt my pelvis spreading apart as I sat on the ball, just as I prayed it would. As my mom and dad arrived, praise and worship music was softly playing, I was focused on God, Kim was praying over me, my back was being massaged and I only mildly felt the 10-15 seconds peaks of each contractions. I was so comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful. At 7:50 PM Toni checked me and I was only 5 cm dilated now. She suggested getting in the tub. Of my whole labor, only the 3 contractions I had in the bathtub hurt because I lost my focus and could not relax. When I got into the bed, I regained my focus and Kim began softly speaking the scriptures to me again. There were five people on my bed; all comforting and helping me labor. I remember my legs shaking at one point and my mom saying that I was maybe in transition, but I was only at 5 cm 30 minutes before and I was not having “painful” contractions. No one expected my body to start pushing just 1hour and 10 minutes later at 9pm but it did. As everyone was scrambling to get scrubbed and prepared for delivery, I said I felt like I was pushing and could not stop, but Toni wanted to check me first to make sure I dilated completely. The baby’s head was only centimeters from crowning. I never felt anything painful; my body, withGod’s help, did all the work and I just worked with it. Two pushes, or body contractions as I call it since I did not initially push myself, and God blessed us again with another beautiful boy. Owen James was born at 9:10 PM, weighing 7 pounds 3 ounces, and 20 ½ inches long. It is the most amazing and beautiful thing I have ever known to feel a baby come out of my body; I can’t even describe it! Every thing I prayed for, asked for, and commanded my body to do, happened. God is so good!

newbornEven as I sit here 5 months later writing about this and remembering everything, it still gives me chills knowing that I truly experienced God’s awesome power through a natural, everyday process called birth. He wants to bless and reward us if we will only be faithful and trust Him. It changed my life, not only because God gave us this precious gift named Owen, but also because I know how rewarding it is to completely and wholeheartedly trust the Lord. I only wish I could have had the same experience with Cody’s birth, but I also look forward to having the rest of our children the same way. I am so thankful that God led me to Kim and in turn, to Toni, who have both helped me become a new person in Christ.

Amazing Love

newbaby1Amazing love…. how can it be? Well for me it has been to trust in God’s sovereignty regarding every detail of this life. I discovered just how amazing His grace is when I so graciously gave birth to Aliah Grace on July 16th, 2003, at 9:50 PM. She is one of our four precious children the Lord has blessed us with. This fourth pregnancy, I began to weigh my decision, home or hospital? Never really finding peace or justification for a hospital birth, but finding every good reason and peace for homebirth. For the third time we chose the same tenderhearted, kind, and loving midwife – Toni.

During the last days of pregnancy, I was dilated to 6 cm for three days with no other real physical signs of labor. I couldn’t grasp that real well, but a fear began to rise that I may be alone with my other three children – my water break – and I deliver the baby. Toni was the perfect example of self-sacrifice and portrayed the passion she has for what she does. She spent all day that Monday, July 14th, with me. That night she left because I had not progressed with any other physical labor. Tuesday, she stayed in contact throughout the day. Still 6 cm and no labor. Wednesday morning I called to say I had only a few contractions during the night and only some discomfort this morning.newbaby2 She insisted out of love that she come to my house that morning at 11 AM. She stayed with me through out the day as we had decided to try natural herbs to help me to possibly progress with hopes of active labor. With success contractions were coming, pretty regular around 6-7 PM. But, they were mild and not any stronger that they had been the past few weeks. So I decided to go to bed for the night. Toni said she was staying until the baby was born. About 9:30 PM I got up to use the restroom and I happened to have a contraction that wouldn’t go away. I walked to the bed and mywater broke at 9:35 PM. I peeked out my door and told the crew… my water broke and I felt the baby descend. Everyone came into the room to start preparing – when all of a sudden a small urge to push came – one more trip to the bathroom. I came back, got onto the bed and here came a pushing contraction. Everyone thinks I am having just a contraction – Toni says can I check you and I said “no”. Here comes another push and out comes the baby’s head – If only you could have seen their faces – and here comes one more push and out came Aliah Grace. From start to finish at a record time of 15 minutes. Now – that’s amazing love and grace from the hand of the Father!

Stefani’s Story

stefani_2When I discovered I was pregnant I wasn’t sure who would be my care provider, as I did not have a doctor (my yearly pap smears were done at a clinic). I had a couple of internet aquaintances who were doulas, and hearing about their expereinces I thought that it would be nice to have a doula if there were any in my area. Doing an internet search on doulas l came across Toni’s website. Who would have guessed there would be a midwife in our small little town? My husband and I are self-employed, so our health insurance is pretty minimal- they didn’t offer any pregnancy insurance. After reading up on midwifery, we decided this would not only be an economical choice for us, but it would also be an amazing experience that we definitely thought sounded far superior to having a baby in a hospital.

When I met with Toni I was very pleased. She was very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. She gave us all kinds of great information; my mother and mother-in-law were amazed with all the interesting facts I was getting that they had never heard from their doctors when they were pregnant. In fact, one night at our childbirth class during a break we couples were all talking about this, and agreed that our “primitive” choice to have a midwife actually made us more informed about our bodies and the process of birth than our friends who had “modern” hospital births.

Right around midnight two nights before my due date I noticed some bloody show. I wasn’t sure if it was really a precursor to labor until an hour later when my contractions started. All that night I had contractions. I tried to sleep through them like I was told to in class, but they were strong enough to keep waking me up the few times I was able to fall asleep. In the morning I called Toni to let her know that my contractions had started, but that I didn’t think the baby was coming any time soon. I made an appointment for her to come by the house in the afternoon to see how I was progressing. When she examined me, I was 3 cm dilated, but the contractions had gone away. She counseled me to sleep as much as I could while they had stopped, and to let her know when I thought they were starting up for real. I got 4 hours sleep that afternoon; they would be the last hours of sleep I would get for some time.

In the evening my contractions started up again and kept me awake all night. At times they were accompanied by a backache, and sometimes I was also getting cramps that felt similar to premenstrual cramps. When morning came the contractions stopped again, but I was still getting the cramps from time to time which kept me awake. I called Toni to give her an update, but told her not to come yet as I didn’t think I was close enough yet. As the afternoon went on the cramps really started getting to me. When my husband came in and found me crying from the discomfort of the cramps, he called Toni to ask if I could take some Tylenol for the pain. I talked with Toni on the phone, and she suggested that the cramps may just be contractions that felt different from my other contractions. She had me time them, and sure enough they were coming five minutes apart. Once I started breathing through them as I had been breathing through the first set of contractions I felt much better.

Because they were five minutes apart I asked Toni to come examine me again when she had a chance that afternoon. When she got here I was feeling much better, and was hoping that I was still dilating. Well, surprisingly I was at 10 cm! The baby should be coming at any time, yet for all the cramps and contractions (which were starting up again) I felt no urge to push. I walked around the neighborhood, I sat on the birth stool, I drank raspberry tea; nothing was working to kick my body into gear.

At about 11pm we decided that I should lay down to try to get some sleep, but if anything my contractions were stronger laying down. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep, and I was started to feel really exhausted. At midnight, 47 hours after my first contraction, we decided to break my water in the hope that it would speed things along. I was pushing as hard as I could, but it took a long time for my body to kick in and start helping me.

At this point things are a little fuzzy for me. I alternated between laboring on the birth stool and laying on my side on the bed. In between contractions I was so tired that I could barely open my eyes. After laboring like this a couple hours without much progress Toni told me that during the contractions the baby’s heart was decelerating more than she was comfortable with. After laboring with the oxygen tank for a while she suggested that we go to a hospital to get some help with the birth. My immediate thought was that if I went to the hospital I would probably end up with a c-section, although Toni told me she was thinking more along the lines of a vacuum extraction. But I didn’t want anything to happen to my baby, so I agreed.

Luckily the hospital was only a few blocks away and we got there pretty quick. It was rather disconcerting to have to answer a million questions in between contractions (like I would really remember when my last period was at that point!). It was also scary to have to sign all the forms saying it was okay to give me an episiotomy or a c-section if the doctor thought I needed one– everything I was hoping to avoid with my home birth.

The way the nurses had me deal with my contractions was different than what I had been doing at home, and it felt unnatural and uncomfortable. I was pretty much confined to the hospital bed because of the baby monitor and the other things they had attatched to me. I was really wishing I was still at home, although I was glad that they let Toni into the room to help with my labor.

After laboring quite some time without much progress, the doctor suggested I get a c-section for the baby’s sake. By that point I was so completely exhausted that I agreed, although it made me feel disappointed and more than a little scared. I was given a shot to stop the contractions and was prepped for the surgery.

I found out later that this whole time Toni’s apprentice Nanci, who was not allowed into the birthing room with Toni, was spending time with my in-laws who had rushed over when they heard I was going into the hospital. She was explaing what was going on, and calmed them of their fears. They were extremely comforted by her presence, as well as that of Toni when she joined them as I went in for the c-section.

At 7:21am my baby boy Kennit Alexander was delivered– over 54 hours after my first contraction. He had a massively pointy head from all the pushing that I did! I saw him briefly after he was cleaned up, but then did not see him again for over 5 hours. I didn’t even get to see my husband for a couple hours after the surgery, which frustrated me. I had to spend 3 days in the hospital, during which time I really wanted to be at home. Nurses and doctors came in and out at all times throughout the day and night to check on me and/or the baby. The baby was allowed to stay in the room with us most of the time, thank goodness, and there was a chair that folded out into a bed for my husband to sleep on. Most of the nurses were really nice, but there were a couple that had kind of a bad attitude. “So you’re the one who tried to have a baby at home by yourself?”, and, when Kennit would cry, it was “You know, it’s okay to give him a pacifier…” It got so that I got really frustrated whenever Kennit cried, because I knew that if he didn’t stop within a minute or two someone would be in to chastise me with their ‘helpful advice’.

So that’s the story of how my economical little home birth became a massively expensive medical intervention. But my little baby boy was worth it! If I ever get over the trauma of birth (haha), I would definitely go with Toni again to try for a VBAC. On the bright side… at least I didn’t have to get an episiotomy!

Larressa’s Homebirth

earthman1My homebirth experience was wonderful! This was my fifth pregnancy and I had had four hospital births previously. I had a friend that had a homebirth last year and I was curious. My husband and I never dreamed of having a child at home, but after talking with Toni we felt like it was something we wanted to try. The entire experience, from the prenatal visits to the labor and deliver, was so personal and special. I greatly enjoyed the freedom to choose my position and activity level during labor. This freedom gave me more options for relaxation and pain management than I had had in the hospital. I will now recommend homebirths to anyone!

The Long Awaited Birth of Justin

justin1Our story actually starts about 4 years ago with the birth of our 3rd child Amanda. I had my first child in a hospital (in the city) complete with pitocin and stadol even though I had requested to have a completely natural childbirth. I won’t go into the details because the only good part about it is that I had a healthy 8 lb. baby boy, Ricky. My second birth was also in a hospital but this time out in “the country”. This is where I was first introduced to midwifery. One of the nurses had worked in a birthing center before and when she found out that I wanted a completely natural childbirth she began encouraging me. She told me she had worked with midwives before and had seen many unmedicated births. She was the one who made me believe it was truly possible and I credit her with helping me deliver my second child, Jessica (8 lbs 5 1/2 oz), with no medication whatsoever. When I became pregnant with my 3rd child, Amanda, I tried to get the same doctor but was referred to another doctor. The first time I saw her, I was very uncomfortable because I had a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis. She prescribed some medications I had never heard of so we checked them out on the internet. It turned out that the manufacturer of one of them stated that this medication was not to be used by women who are pregnant. When we questioned the doctor, she said she had prescribed it to numerous other patients and had never had a problem. She also seemed a little upset that we were questioning her. This was enough for my husband and I to decide to start looking for someone else to help us deliver our child. Since we live in “the country” there is not a large supply of doctors to choose from and we wanted to make sure we could have another natural birth without having drugs pushed on us again. This is when we decided to start looking for a midwife. I searched the internet and was not able to find anyone in our area so I sent an email to the Association of Texas Midwives. Toni contacted me and this is where our relationship began.

We live in the far west corner of Fayette county so we were a little concerned about Toni getting here on time once our labor began. After I called Toni around 4:30 pm, I noticed that the contractions would slow when I was sitting so I sat down occasionally to make sure things didn’t progress too quickly. It only took about 3 1/2 hours for Toni to arrive and she and Joani both had plenty of time to get things set up and ready. After laboring for a few hours, I had a bowel movement and felt that I needed to lay down. I told them that my water broke as soon as I laid down with my 2nd pregnancy and sure enough it broke and Amanda started on her way out. I don’t believe I pushed more than once or twice to deliver her. She actually seemed to come right out all by herself. My husband and I were elated that we didn’t have to present our baby car seat and pass inspection to go home. We were already here safe and sound and comfortable with our 8 lb. baby girl.

Almost 3 years later we knew exactly who to call when we discovered we were pregnant again with our 4th child. Everything progressed normally with the usual checkups but I didn’t keep a good record of when I might have become pregnant or when my last menstrual cycle was. I had a ball park estimate within a week or so that we used. Unfortunately, that due date came and went and we still didn’t have our baby.

Toni’s twenty-fifth wedding anniversary was coming up and she and Monte had reservations for a cruise to celebrate. We all thought that Justin would be here before they left but he never showed up. Toni regretfully gave me the name of her backup midwife and told me when she would be back “on land” and I could contact her again.

justin2One week later, we were still waiting for Justin to arrive. Toni was scheduled to return on the 13th but she called me from Alabama on the 12th to see how we were doing. We mentioned that we had been having a few small contractions but not real regular. She offered to come home that night but she admitted she probably wouldn’t do me much good after traveling all night. We agreed that it probably wouldn’t be that good of an idea and said we would go ahead and give Debbie (her backup) a call if things progressed. I laid down and had a few little contractions in bed. At 11:32 pm. I had one that really got my attention and I got out of bed. I had a bowel movement and took a shower and laid back down. My contractions started coming about 20 min. apart but were small so I stayed in bed hoping that we might be able to make it until Toni came home the next day. At 3:37 am. the contractions started getting stronger but were still about 20 min. apart. At 5:30 am. I sat up and asked my husband if he thought I should bother Toni or just go ahead and call Debbie. We wanted very badly to have Toni deliver our 4th baby and we knew that Toni really wanted to be the one to deliver him too so I picked up the phone and called her at 5:30 am. in Alabama. I told her what was going on and she said she was planning to leave about 7:30 am but that she would start getting things ready to leave a little sooner. She called around 8 am and said if the traffic was good, she would be home around 4 pm and could be here around 6 pm.

We knew if things started progressing, we would need to call Debbie but we hoped we wouldn’t have to. We all said some prayers and asked that if it be God’s will to please let Toni be the one to deliver our child. Toni called from Beaumont around 1:30 pm to check on us and said she would probablybe home around 4:30 pm. The contractions kept coming about every 20 min. but most of them were small with only a few here and there getting my attention. About 2:30 pm, I got tired and laid down.

At 4:41 pm. Toni called and said she had her things loaded up and was getting on her way here. At this point the contractions were coming about every 7 to 10 min. I stayed in bed to make sure things didn’t progress too quickly and Toni arrived around 6:30 pm. with Nanci, her assistant, arriving a little later. After Toni got here, I got up and started concentrating and letting the contractions progress. By 9:30 pm, we had our 4th child, Justin (9 lbs 23 inches) safely in my arms. There is no doubt in my mind that it was truly the will of God to have Toni deliver our child and I thank her and her family for their sacrifice in making the trip all the way from Alabama on the last day of their vacation. I haven’t done any research yet but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out this could be a Guinness Record for the most number of miles traveled by a midwife to deliver a baby!

Xiola

Sunday, September 25 at around 5:30 am I woke up having mild contractions. I had been having these off and on for weeks now, so didn’t think much of them. Still, I couldn’t get in a comfortable position to sleep anymore as they were very crampy. I got up and took a shower, thinking they’d slow down and I could go back to bed. I was 2 days past my due date. Well, they got closer together while I was in the shower and were lasting fairly long (45 seconds or longer), so I got out and decided to get a few things done before waking Jason. I went into the kitchen and did the dishes and basically just puttered around trying to keep myself busy. Jason came out to check on me and I told him what was going on. He convinced me to try and lie down for awhile, but still I couldn’t get comfortable. So more puttering around…;) Finally I needed some help through some of the more intense rushes and Jason got up with me. I really wasn’t in a lot of pain, but the pressure was becoming quite intense. I called our midwife and told her what was going on, but also told her that I didn’t need her just yet. Our 2 year old, Lola, had come so quickly once I crossed over into active labor that we wanted Toni to be prepared just in case the same thing happened. At around 1 pm she called back to check in and I told her they were coming every 2 minutes, but hadn’t really kicked over yet. She decided to wait awhile, and then come over and check me. She called her assistant, Nancy, who had a longer drive and they arrived around 3:00 p.m. – I was 5 cms, but still a bit thick. I was getting tired by this time, but was determined to keep my labor going. I got in the tub for awhile, which helped with the discomfort, but also started slowing down my contractions. We decided to walk around the property in hopes that they turned over into active labor soon. They were getting stronger and the next time Toni checked me I was close to 7 cms. We thought we were in the homestretch. After awhile they started slowing down again, so I kept myself upright and walking. By this time it was getting late. I needed to lie down for a bit, but every time I stopped walking the contractions would slow down. At midnight Toni convinced me that I needed some rest. Jason and I laid down for awhile, but I was so scared that my contractions would stall out that I couldn’t really sleep. ”

At 3:30 am Toni checked me again and I was digressing. I was back to a stretchy 5 cms. I had hit a wall with exhaustion and we all decided that I needed sleep and rest. My water was still intact, so there was no rush. There wasn’t going to be a baby that night. It was very discouraging and I broke down sobbing, feeling like a failure. Nancy came over to me as Jason helped Toni load her stuff back up in the van, and sat with me while I cried. I had been working hard for close to 20 hours and was suffering from sheer exhaustion. Nancy then made a statement that changed the course of my thoughts. She told me to let go of how easy and quick Lola’s birth was, that this wasn’t going to be the same thing and that I just needed to allow it to happen the way it was going to. It stopped me in my tracks. I hadn’t realized how much I was carrying around the thoughts that my homebirth with Lola was easy, quick and fairly painless. I just assumed this baby would come the same way.

My mom had taken Lola while everything was going on, so I called her and asked her to come back. I needed my family around me that day. My sister had stayed throughout the night, so when my mom got there we made food and basically just hung out. I went to the store with my mom as I really wanted to get out of the house. We talked a lot about what was going on, why my labor had stalled, etc… I was looking deep inside myself for an answer and Nancy’s words kept coming back to me. I realized I wasn’t allowing my baby to have her own story. I wanted the same kind of birth I’d had with Lola, so was unwilling to accept the fact that this was taking a lot longer. I wasn’t honoring Xiola or myself in the process. I had also given up my power in the birth. I allowed Lola to be taken out of the house, when I really wanted her home. I wasn’t letting my body do what it needed as I was afraid of stalling, which of course caused it to happen anyway. And I wasn’t making my own needs be heard. I realized I just needed to let go of everything and allow what was coming to do so in its own time. This was Xiola’s and my birth experience and I needed to feel it that way both physically and spiritually.

Once I came to these realizations, I began to feel less discouraged. I nurtured my last few hours with my baby girl inside me. I enjoyed the time I was spending with my family and realized that this could very well be the last day that Lola was still the baby. So we showered her with attention. By the time I went to bed that night I was feeling at peace with everything.

Early the next morning, I woke up at 3:30 am having to use the bathroom. I felt some familiar twinges and decided once again, to get in the shower. This time I felt more than mild contractions and my body began emptying itself in preparation. I knew this had to be what I was waiting for. I got out of the shower and decided that I wanted to take a bath instead. These contractions were not slowing down, not even in the tub. I got out and went into the kitchen to busy myself, but couldn’t walk through the pains. I woke up Jason and asked him to fill the birth tub for me as I really wanted to float. After filling the tub he went back to bed to get some rest, but within 20 minutes I was moaning and needed his strength with me. I had started timing my rushes and they were every 2 minutes like clockwork. I asked Jason to call Toni and my mom. When Toni got there she checked me and I was 6 cms and very thin. This was it, finally!

I figured because I had gone so quickly with Lola, that at 6 cms I was almost in the homestretch with Xiola…was I ever wrong. My contractions started becoming more intense and I was beginning to feel them in my back more. Xiola had tried to stay posterior during the last few weeks, but Toni was picking up her heart tones low and in the front so we naturally assumed she was in the correct position. I kept getting in and out of the tub as the water felt really good and helped me manage the contractions when I needed a break, but I couldn’t stay in the water as I was very restless and wanted to walk around a lot as well. I was beyond talking through the pains and would lean against Jason, feeling his strength run through my body. We went outside to be alone for awhile and I found that with every contraction I wanted to squat. I knew Xiola was still pretty high, so I wanted to bring her down and the squatting felt good. Jason put my hair up for me and brought me water and cool washcloths. It was hot outside, but I didn’t mind. He tried to keep me in the shade, but I needed to wander. This went on for a couple hours, walking and squatting. At one point Lola came out with my mom. I didn’t want her to see me in so much pain, but during one contraction I couldn’t stop myself from moaning. She ran over to me afterwards and hugged me and told me she loved me. Then she took a towel from Jason and wanted to wipe off my face. It was really sweet and she wasn’t scared at all. I felt good knowing that we had prepared her so well and that she as able to be there with us to experience her sister’s arrival.

I started leaking fluid and we thought maybe my water had broke. I went over to the fence and hung on it during a particularly painful rush. Fluid began pouring out of me and I kept saying I was peeing all over myself. Jason kept telling me he didn’t think it was urine. After awhile Toni checked again and I was at 8 cms, but she still felt the bag intact. She thought I might have a leak higher up as every time I would squat, more fluid would come out. I was happy to be so close to seeing my baby girl. Then Toni decided to check Xiola’s heart along my side…she suspected she was too far to the side by this point as I had been laboring for a few hours and was feeling it all in my back. My cervix was opening, but she didn’t feel her head as far down as it should be if she was in the correct position. Sure enough, there was a very loud, steady heartbeat. She was trying to stay posterior and that was why I was feeling so much pain in my back. That’s when I realized the real work was about to begin.

I really wanted back in the tub, so Jason put more warm water in while I tried to find a comfortable position. I did a lot of hands and knees in hopes that Xiola would rotate to the front. It was during this that both Toni and Jason noticed with every contraction my lower back was bulging…no wonder it hurt so bad! Toni started doing counter pressure in hopes that Xiola would move. I really wanted to stay in the water, but she convinced me to get out for awhile and use the birthing ball. So off to the bedroom we went where I laid across the ball while Toni massaged my lower back during each contraction. Jason held my hand during it all and made sure I had plenty of water. There came a point where I needed to lie down and that’s when transition hit. I started shaking; the contractions were coming one on top of the other. I wasn’t getting a break. At one point I looked up at Jason and told him they hurt and just wouldn’t stop. Toni rubbed my legs and told me I was in transition and was 9 cms. Even throughout all the pain however, I never felt like I couldn’t manage them.

I started chanting, “Open open” with each one and visualizing my cervix opening up and allowing my baby to come through. I willed myself to surrender to each rush. I talked to Xiola, telling her not to be afraid, that we were together on this and would help each other through it. I asked her to rotate forward so it would be easier on us both. I sent all the love I was feeling to her and went inside myself to gather strength. All of a sudden I wanted back in the water. I knew I would not be leaving it without my baby in my arms.

I climbed into the tub again for the last time and was so thankful for the relief the water provided. I was going through the most intense contractions and did a lot of moaning and yelling. The water felt good against my skin and it made a huge difference in the intensity of my rushes when I could float through them. Lola came over and put soothing water on my head and face. Her little hands felt so good against my skin. The rushes were not stopping and I began having trouble finding a position that was working for me. I knew that opening my mouth and allowing the sounds to flow out of me would help; I also made a conscious effort to keep my face relaxed. I knew that by doing this the rest of my body would follow suit as much as possible. I stayed low in the water as it felt good against my skin. My body started feeling like I needed to push, so I gave a few tentative pushes in hopes that she’d move down more. I told Toni that I was beginning to feel like something was happening. She told me to start pushing whenever I wanted to. I was still moaning and chanting through my contractions, and trying to push at the same time. It felt like it was going so slowly. That’s when Jason and Toni told me to use my breath and not to moan through the contractions anymore. Jason coached me through it and I remember during one particularly good push hearing him say, “Breath Cat.” Right after this, I took a deep breath and pushed with everything I had in me. I could immediately feel the shift in energy within my body. After that contraction I sat back and all of a sudden went somewhere else. I put my head down on a cool washcloth, sank down into the water and felt like I was leaving my body. I became completely relaxed. I didn’t fall asleep; I just went somewhere that was so peaceful and so happy. The warm water against my skin felt good, and I felt as if I was in a trance. I have never been that relaxed before. It was the most intensely spiritual feeling I had ever experienced. Everything was right in the world and I felt both powerful and humble at the same time. I felt apart of everything and yet on my own. I was aware of everyone in the room, but was beyond their energy. I was gathering up my Mama Bear strength and heard Toni say I was getting a nice long break. I didn’t move, I just let these waves of euphoria rush over me and I realized that it was going to take all my energy on the next contraction, but I felt good about it. It was an intense moment of clarity that words can’t even begin to describe.

The next wave started building in me and I got into position on my knees and held onto the side of the tub. I looked up at Jason and told him I loved him. Then it all hit me and I took a deep breath and pushed. I realized that while I was pushing I had begun to growl like the Mama Bear strength I was feeling. It was really intense and felt so right. I felt Xiola move straight through the birth canal and begin crowning. She retreated a bit as the contraction subsided, but I was ready for it. I reached down and felt my sac bulging, and right behind it was her head. I don’t know if I smiled on the outside, but inside I was beaming. Jason said he heard Toni saying a quiet prayer for me and he felt very touched by her selflessness and love she was sending me. I was in my own world and the next rush was coming. I knew I was going to push her out. I felt the burning; I heard the excitement in everyone’s voices as her head came out, all of them encouraging me. I heard my own voice, deep and primal. I reached down and there was my baby’s head. Toni asked if I was going to catch her myself and I immediately said no. I had found a position that worked and didn’t want to move from it. Then the oddest sensation I’d ever felt in birth came. While I felt her head outside my body, I could feel her feet kicking me and her squirming on the inside of me trying to find her way out. I almost felt a little sad as I realized that would be the last time I would feel her inside me. Then all of a sudden she was out and a huge wave of emotion settled over me. Toni announced that she was born in the caul! I could not believe it. Both my girls were blessed with this at birth. I didn’t realize it at the time, but during those last intense contractions, my little Lola was being held in my mother’s arms and she was chanting over and over, “I love you mommy, I love you mommy…” She was giving me and her sister her strength and all that innocent love. As soon as Xiola emerged I heard Lola’s little voice start yelling to everyone, “A baby! A baby came out of mommy’s body!” She was feeling the energy in the room and was ecstatic. I turned over and Toni handed me my Xiola. I immediately felt for her cord as I wanted to wait until it quit pulsing before cutting it. I didn’t vocalize this desire to anyone, but just allowed it to happen. Xiola’s cord was the biggest cord I had ever seen. It was super fat! At the base of her belly button it was almost the diameter of a half dollar! Even Toni was shocked and said she wasn’t sure the clamp would fit! After a couple minutes I was ready for it to be clamped and Toni managed to get the clamp on, but just barely. Lola went over by Jason and watched as he cut the cord. I handed Xiola to her daddy so I could get out of the tub. Toni and Nancy helped me to the bedroom where I took off my wet bathing suit top and climbed into bed. Lola hopped in next to me and snuggled up close. They handed Xiola to me and she immediately started nursing. About 15 minutes later I delivered the biggest placenta I’d ever seen. Went well with her cord!! I had a tiny nick that didn’t require any attention. I felt great. All was right with the world. Lola was on one side of me and my darling son, Jonathon was on the other side kneeling on the floor. Jason was standing there as was my sister, my nephew and my mom, while Toni and Nancy were busy with me. I felt so much love in that room at that moment. I had all my children snuggled up with me and my family surrounding me. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Jason and I had such an intense connection throughout everything. We rarely spoke to each other but he always anticipated my needs before I even thought them. During several particularly intense contractions, I gathered strength just by looking into his eyes. He was with me through every step. He spiritually felt every rush and held me up both physically and spiritually during the entire process. It was like a cleansing for us, a primitive ritual that God sent us through. I have never felt more in-love with my husband than during all this. He was my rock, my guide, and my partner. I am so grateful to have him by my side.

Toni was beyond amazing. Her love and strength were such a blessing to us during everything this labor had to offer. She was constantly supportive and respectful of our needs. I am so grateful to have been lead to her and am so blessed to have her in our lives. She will forever be a part of our family. We can only hope she realizes how important her role is in our lives as well as those other families she’s supported in her midwifery practice. She is a unique individual who has definitely found her calling in life.

My labor was about 9.5 hours long, with 34 minutes of pushing. Xiola weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz and 21″ long. She gave us a bit of a scare at first when she lost more than a pound within 2 days, but she seemed to have retained a lot of fluid and once that was expelled and my milk came in she’s been gaining weight at a steady pace. She is such a good little baby, hardly ever cries and is very curious about her surroundings. Her brother and sister love her so much, as do her daddy and I. When Lola wakes up in the mornings, one of the first things out of her mouth is, “Where’s my Xiola?” She is eager to help me with the baby and kisses her and hugs her a lot. I feel so blessed to have my children all healthy and happy. And while Xiola’s birth was harder than Lola’s, it was just perfect for Xiola. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. It is our own unique experience and that is a blessing in itself.

Leah

I have always thought that I would prefer to give birth at home rather than in a hospital because I knew that I would feel safer and more secure at home among familiar people and family rather than being attended by a succession of strangers consisting of whatever medical personnel happened to be on call at the time I went into labor. I also felt that there is no way a hospital, with its culture of intimidation and comfort level below that of the cheapest hotel, could measure up to home in terms of comfort. Having heard the hospital birth stories of several of my friends, I knew that the procedures and interventions routinely performed at the local hospitals would likely prolong my recovery time in comparison to having a natural birth at home and lessen my chance of being able to continue with my inflexible school schedule. I also knew that in a hospital I would likely feel more traumatized than empowered by the experience of giving birth.

My husband Kelsey and I are from Austin and moved to Bryan in 2004 so that I could go to vet school here at Texas A&M. Austin has many midwives and people receptive to giving birth outside of a hospital, but Bryan-College Station does not. When I unexpectedly became pregnant with my first baby in the spring of 2006, I frantically cast about for a midwife. Luckily, I found Toni’s website almost right away. I was immediately impressed with her in comparison to the other midwives I found because she seemed so experienced, knowledgeable, and well-grounded. I was very relieved when she said she could take me on. At that time my husband and I had health insurance that covered prenatal medical care, so in addition to visiting Toni I also visited a female OB-GYN that was covered by our policy. The stark difference between the two approaches left me even more impressed with Toni because I felt that her approach was much more compassionate and sensible than that of the physician.

On my first visit to the doctor I was shuffled through several waiting rooms and eventually deposited in an exam room with my husband and told to don a “gown” that was really more like two paper towels tied together. It was open at the front and only went halfway down my torso. She then briskly examined me, performed a pap smear that I didn’t want before I realized what was

happening, and sent me on my way to ultrasound, which yielded an estimate of the gestational age of the baby (7 weeks, 4 days) and a grainy picture of same (little peanut). When I mentioned that I had morning sickness that left me virtually anorexic and vomiting numerous times daily, she told me that was normal and jotted a note in my record. She then ushered us to her office and began to explain that her practice liked to have everyone go into labor Monday-Thursday and that if this didn’t happen by my due date I would be induced to avoid going into labor on the weekend, which would be inconvenient for them. When I explained that it probably wouldn’t even be an issue, since I was planning a home birth, she choked on her coffee and launched into a tight-lipped tirade about how birth was a serious endeavor not to be taken lightly and strongly implied that I would endanger myself and the baby by even attempting birth outside of a hospital. We then mutually decided that I should seek medical care with another provider since she wasn’t comfortable providing back-up for a home birth. Luckily, Dr. Blasingame was in town to provide that function.

Visiting Toni was so refreshing compared to that experience. She spent a lot of time talking about nutrition and told me ways to try to alleviate the morning sickness. Visiting her office was an enjoyable experience because I never had to wait and we had a lot more time to talk. Her assistant Nanci was always there too and it was fun to get to know both of them.

The focus of conversation was always positive rather than dwelling on miniscule risks pertaining to pregnant women. They were also very flexible about scheduling around my crazy school hours and the focus of visits was more about talking and checking on the health of me and the baby through non-invasive means

rather than following a standardized medical protocol involving invasive medical tests. Kelsey and I also attended Toni’s childbirth classes and I feel that they helped me a lot while I was in labor.

The night I went into labor in late December I spent the early evening walking dogs with my husband and some friends in Central Park to enjoy the Christmas lights. I had been walking several miles every day ever since winter break started in hopes of triggering labor so that I would have a few weeks home with the baby before winter break ended and I had to go back to school and leave her home with my husband. I wanted to have as much time as possible to recover.

After the park, Kelsey and I went home and were in bed by midnight. For the past several weeks, I had been experiencing sudden mild pains within my pelvic cavity which I believed to be the baby’s head striking my bladder. Two nights previous to this, I was kept awake for about 15 minutes by these sensations, but then they went away. On this night the sensations occurred again immediately after we lay down. I got up to urinate in hopes that they would go away, but they continued intermittently for over an hour and although they were not especially painful, more of a minor annoyance, they were just intense enough to prevent me from getting to sleep. Around 1:15 AM I got up to pee again because the sensations were getting stronger and was shocked at the sheer volume of urine that I had produced in less than an hour. Instead of the usual disappointing three tablespoons or so, I was peeing like a racehorse on diuretics. It was only after I got up to go back to bed and discovered that the fluid continued to leak out as I walked that I realized my water must have broken. By this time Kelsey had noticed how restless I was and came stumbling out of the bedroom. I told him my water had broken and that we would probably have to call the midwives soon. He spent the next hour trying to stop me from frantically cleaning the house. We had been told that I should rest during early labor so conserve energy, but I knew I couldn’t sleep while the contractions were occurring and I was restless, so I figured doing something productive wouldn’t hurt.

Because it was the middle of the night and I was convinced that my labor would be long since I had never had a baby before, we didn’t call Toni right away. Although the contractions were never more than 2 minutes apart, they seemed very manageable and I was pretty sure that meant that I was in early labor. When the sensations became too intense for me to comfortably traverse the house in frantic circles, I settled down on my birth ball and leaned on some pillows on our bed between contractions. I found that the contractions seemed much more painful when I tried to lie in bed, but were okay on the birth ball. However, they got more intense over the next hour and we called Toni at 2:30 AM to tell her my water had broken and I was definitely in labor. She asked if I wanted her to come right away, but I still felt like I wasn’t that far along, so I said I would call back if anything changed. Over the next two hours I we sat there in the bedroom while I managed the contractions on the birth ball and rested between each one. I felt irritated by light and had Kelsey turn off all the lights in the house except for two candles in the bedroom. By 4:30 the contractions were so intense that I had Kelsey call and tell her to come because I needed more help coping, regardless of how far along I was. I had avoided getting into the birth pool because I read that if you get in too early it will slow labor, but since the pain was getting harder to manage, we also asked her if I could get in the birth pool before she arrived and she said yes.

Unfortunately, the pool only seemed to make the contractions worse. On the birth ball I felt like I was in control. The pool was wider than I had expected and I felt groundless. I found myself flailing and splashing through contractions amid desperate attempts to cling to the slippery plastic walls. After Toni and Nanci arrived, Toni checked my dilation and told me I was complete. No wonder the contractions seemed so intense! I felt a lot better after finding that out because I knew that I had made it most of the way through the labor. She told me I could try to push any time and I was grateful to be at that stage. I decided not to use the pool again since it didn’t seem to be helping. I spent the rest of the time back in the bedroom. Once I started pushing the painful contractions seemed to disappear. Although pushing was painful, I got wonderful breaks in between pushes and Leah was born on the bed only twenty minutes after that. I was amazed at how fast the whole process was and how manageable it seemed compared to what I had expected.

Our homebirth was an amazing intimate experience that we will always cherish. It was wonderful to have my baby right in my own bedroom and to be able hold her immediately and not have her taken away. Toni made sure Leah Leah asleepwas doing all right and allowed us make all the decisions about her care. Throughout the whole process of pregnancy and birth, Toni was professional while surrounding every interaction with a sense of calm and positive energy that I believe were crucial to making everything flow smoothly with a good outcome.

Deana Marie

Deana Marie is here! She came on the iciest, coldest, worst winter weather night of the year that is why my husband called her our ice angel. But I am getting ahead of myself for you see for us Deana is a miracle. Let me explain why.
I am 46 years old, what some obstetricians consider a high risk “mature” mother. To Toni I was just another mom. I had 4 children ages 20, 18, 12 &10 as well as a 14yr. old son that was added when I married my husband Pete two years ago. I was using progesterone cream to even out my mood swings and heat flashes — my pre-menopausal symptoms! A year ago I miscarried. I was certain that my “season” of birthing children of my own was over. When I moved, I kept my cradle, crib and high chair for my grandchildren to come! Little did I know Heavenly Father’s plan for my baby furniture as well as for myself!
When I realized I was pregnant, I decided that I was going to take control of this pregnancy and birth, making well informed decisions and having the experience of my choice. I knew a mother of seven who had had Toni for her midwife for her last child’s birth. Toni came highly recommended. And after considerable research I knew that a home birth was the only way for me and my baby. With Toni’s knowledge of hormones she was able to teach me that my progesterone cream could help me carry this pregnancy to term. Toni helped me with my morning sickness with non-medicinal ways from acupressure to nutrition. I was violently ill even with strong medications throughout the pregnancies of my other 3 daughters. This was my best pregnancy because of Toni’s knowledge and willingness to use alternative methods, those other than the conventional methods used in the main stream medical community. I am so thankful for her.

Because of my previous births being either induced, on their due date, or late I didn’t expect this birth to be anything but like the others, never early! So 4 days before my due date when my husband asked if I wanted to ride along while he delivered some firewood for some friends of ours in Sommerville, I saw no reason why not. I had been really busy around the house trying to get everything clean and ready for when the baby would come and my mom would be here to help. So besides strenuous housecleaning and a major rough truck ride, I fell into bed late, about midnight -I was doing some sewing for the baby.

I woke up with a sharp pain down my legs and up my back at 1:38 a.m. Sure I had just over done it through the day, I tried to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later the pain woke me again. I started to pay attention. After 6 contractions in an hour and a strong urge to go to the restroom I got up and started to walk. The contractions continued. I had been having contractions for months and even some fairly strong ones the last few weeks and with the weather as bad as it was I really didn’t want to bother anyone if this wasn’t the real thing. After all, two days before Toni had checked me and I was 2-3 cm and only 20% effaced. The contractions continued, and then when I went to the restroom, I passed quite a lot of blood. I called Toni at 3:00 a.m. and as the truly dedicated midwife that she is, she was willing to brave the weather, drive the dangerous roads to my house. I didn’t have to, this was the first thing that I was so very thankful for that I had chosen her as my birth attendant; there were so many more reasons to be thankful. I let my husband know we were soon to have company.
Nanci, Toni’s apprentice, arrived first at about 4:00 a.m., after I let her in I went to the bathroom, she and my husband when right to work changing my bed and preparing things for the birth. Toni arrived shortly and checked me. I was at 7cm, we were having a baby! My contractions were coming really hard and I was spending a lot of time on my hands and knees and on the birthing ball, it was the only way I was able to make it through, I was so tired. I hadn’t remembered with any of my un-medicated, previous deliveries having as much pain. Toni explained later that the pain was so intense because the labor was so intense and short. Thank the Lord for the later.

My 10 year old daughter, Elizabeth was awakened by all the busy work that was going on. She ask what was going on, Pete told her it was Christmas! I understood his sentiment; our child is one of our greatest gifts from God. Elizabeth stayed in the other room through the labor and delivery, although she did come in between contractions once to check on me; I knew she was close by, which was a tremendous comfort to me. Toni and Nanci were wonderful!! I got so tired and lost my focus but Toni, Nanci and my wonderful husband continually coached me to stay positive and as soon as they could get me to cooperate we were pushing. They talked me onto the birthing chair, my husband was on the edge of the bed behind me supporting me and encouraging me. I have never felt closer to my husband. It is so fantastic to know that I can so completely count on my husband to be there for me. When I felt I was at, in the way of being “pretty and put together” my worst, he was there for me still– in aces! And not only that he would be there but also he was not cross, angry, grossed out or stunned in any way but was so totally supportive, I couldn’t have ask for better! They were all so wonderful, they never got irritated, sharp or upset with me even though I got negative and unfocused (I’m not very proud of that). My husband, Pete, said he was surprised when Toni said that the baby was crowning, that it had come so fast! Toni asked me if I wanted to touch my baby’s head. I said no because I was afraid that if I turned loose of my leg that I might loose what little focus I had at that time. I growled through the contractions and pushed through the stinging until I could say “Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank You God!” when our beautiful, perfect, healthy angel was born. As soon as Toni turned her over in a soft white towel– her cord hadn’t been cut yet– my husband checked to see, for we didn’t know, if our baby was a girl or a boy. We had thought it would be a boy. Surprise! A girl! We couldn’t be happier! After the cord was cut proud “Papa” Pete immediately took Deana to meet her sister Elizabeth in our very own kitchen! I have never felt so blessed!! I was able to take a shower in MY shower, change into a clean old soft flannel gown of my own, get back into my own bed, warm and cozy, to nurse my beautiful angel baby girl! She latched on right away and we were on our way! Then finally some rest!

Our beautiful, Deana arrived at 6:17 a.m. She weighted 8 lbs. 10½ oz. measured 20½ inches. My whole labor was only about 4 ½ hours!

I was able to stay at my home through an awful night of freezing rain, sleet, icicles and dangerously slick roads and have a beautiful, warm, comforting, blessed experience with my family around me and it was all because of my wonderful husband, Toni and Nanci. My husband has had two children in a hospital; and me, as before mentioned I have four other children, and had them all in a hospital. So this was a first for both of us. HANDS DOWN, no contest, we would not only have any more babies with Toni but would encourage anyone to do the same!

The professionalism, knowledge, dedication, compassion, loving Christian support and personal care throughout my prenatal care and my delivery I feel was far superior to what I received from some of the top obstetricians in the Houston area. Toni always made me seem like the only mom she was taking care of. I feel that we have become friends I feel saddened by the fact that now that my Deana is here, I won’t get to visit as often with her. I am so grateful to God, my husband and to Toni and Nanci!

Sierra Family

Our story has a long background. This is my tenth pregnancy but my first home birth. It took a lot of baby steps for us to realize this was the right thing for us. I was really young with my first pregnancy. I didn’t educate myself on the whole birth process. This resulted in one inervention after another. With the next 4 pregnancies I would read more, practice relaxation and breathing techniques but still did not have the birth experience I was looking for or read about. I had a friend who was birthing at home and even invited me to one of her births. I still wasn’t ready, I kept thinking “what if”. I then discovered a birthing center that offered midwife attended births. This was a great middle of the road opportunity. So with my next 4 pregnancies I would go to the birthing center. These were great experiences.  However, my last delivery ended with a terrible hemorrhage which led to a transfer to a hospital. The hospital visit reminded me why I didn’t like giving birth there. Although I needed their care this time I was not comfortable or treated well. All this took place in another state.

Now we live in Texas. There is not a birth center in our area so if the Lord saw fit to bless us again, we would most definitely not give birth at a hospital. The Lord did see fit to bless us again and we began our prenatal journey with Toni. We were very concerned about my previous hemorrhage and wanted to avoid that again. Toni educated me on different ways to stay healthy and to strengthen my body for the delivery. I also did a lot of research. I was still a little nervous though and several times throughout the pregnancy God would remind me it was going to be O.K.Siblings

Finally, it’s time for the baby to come. I was dreaming that I was having contractions, only to wake up and find out that I really was. It was 2:30am when I got up to use the restroom and to change positions to see if the contractions would continue or fizzle out. I sat in my recliner for about 45 minutes. During this time the contractions increased with intensity. I decided to walk around to test them further. They continued to come but were less intense and shorter.

While walking around I woke up my husband. After 2&1/2 hours we decided to call Toni and wake up my oldest daughter. Nanci got here first and started getting things ready for the delivery. When Toni arrived she checked me and I was only 3cm but the cervix was really thin.

My blood pressure was really high, so I had to lay on my left side to bring it to a safer level. Nanci went to the store to get me some calcium and magnesium to help my blood pressure come down. I took a bunch of those and was able to get off the bed.

While lying still I was able to relax during the contractions but it was a little difficult. My husband was very helpful in applying counter pressure to my back. I finally was able to get moving again. Although it took 15 minutes to move three feet from my bed to my recliner, because the contractions were coming faster and lasting longer. I also got sick during the movement from the bed to the chair.

Once at the chair I had a serious contraction and I thought I felt the baby move into the birth canal. I thought, “That can’t be right, I was just at 3cm a little over 90 minutes ago”. During this contraction my husband wiggled my thighs back and forth which alleviated 90% of the pain and gave me the ability to think instead of panic. Well sure enough with the next contraction I felt a huge pressure at the outlet. I thought, “I can’t push this baby out sitting in my chair there is no place for him to go”. So I nearly slid out of my chair.

In the mean time my daughter let Toni know that I wanted her back in the room. She and Nanci had stepped out into the next room to get a bite to eat. I asked Toni, “What am I going to do?”. She said, “Well, you’re going to the bed so we can check your progress”. I appreciated the firm plan she gave me because it gave me a goal to focus on.

Once they were able to lift me out of the chair, I got on my bed and Toni checked me. To my delight the baby’s head was visible. With the next contraction I said, “What am I going to do now?”. Toni once again gave me a clear directive, “You’re going to push this baby out”. “O.K.” I thought, “I can do that.” However the “ring of fire” was so intense that I said “I’m not going to be able to do it again.” Toni responded, “What do you mean? The head is already out.” WOW! With the next contraction I pushed the rest of his sweet little body out and right to my belly he went. What a relief. Toni kept a very watchful eye on my bleeding and for good measure she gave me a shot of pitocin.

ToniTHIS was the birth experience I had been looking for! I was in control not the doctors and nurses and when I needed direction Toni was there giving it. My labor was so managable at home, I use to think that at the hospital they managed your labor for you but they don’t. They just boss you around. I wish I would have discovered the beautiful, perfectly normal, healthy way of birthing a child at home 9 babies ago. If the Lord sees fit to bless us again I would, without a doubt, choose to home birth with Toni again.

Taro

Proud DadOur son Taro was born at home at 4:31am on the 8th of January, 2007. We chose the name Taro months before he arrived. It’s a Japanese name that means “first born son” which we found quite appropriate given that he was conceived in Japan and is our first baby.

As soon as we found out I was pregnant, we took a break from our travels in Asia and came to visit my parents, here in Bryan. A friend of my mom’s recommended Toni and we went to visit her the same day. Although she had been up until 5am with a birth, she was bright and cheerful when we arrived at her immaculate and organized home full of well-behaved children of all ages. After seeing her house and family and talking to her, I felt extremely confidant in her abilities to handle any situation and my husband and I dubbed her “Super Woman”.

Toni agreed to work with me from a distance while I continued to travel with my husband until my 7th month of pregnancy. I kept her updated by e-mail and saw her whenever I was in town.

Throughout my whole pregnancy I was impressed with Toni’s calm, accepting and helpful attitude. Of course there were times that I was worried about my baby for one reason or another and Toni always responded in a caring and rational way. I was grateful that she was never pushy, authoritative or judgemental of my slightly alternative choices during pregnancy.

I loved being pregnant, especially the later weeks when my bump was big and everyone would look at me in the way that only pregnant women get looked at. But by the time the 40th week came, I was ready for my baby to be out of my tummy and in my arms. The last week of pregnancy was the hardest, just wondering all the time, when will he come? Will he be too late to be born at home?

NursingOn the Friday of my 41st week I began to have contractions. I woke up at 3am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Eventually I woke up my husband, Christian, and he read to me from the Bradley book (not for the first time) about all the different ways labor could start. We started timing the contractions; they were 30 to 50 seconds long and about 8 minutes apart. We couldn’t go back to sleep so we got out of bed and waited for it to get light. As soon as it did, we bundled up and went outside for a walk. I’ll never forget the excitement of that crisp winter morning, watching the sun come up and thinking that today would be the day that our baby was born.

Hours later nothing had changed. I called Tony and she said it was probably false labor. I couldn’t help but be disappointed, and the contractions started to bother me more. As long as I had thought I was in labor I was pleased to have them, imagining that with each one I was getting closer and closer to pushing out my son. But when I realized that my uterus was just practicing, they began to become tiring and I wished they would stop. But they just kept coming, not too strong and not too close together, but steadily for all of the next day. By Saturday night I was really tired of them, and getting emotionally exhausted from constantly being ready to go into labour. I told myself just to forget about it, to try and live a normal life. So we went to see a movie.

The next morning was the same, but finally around 3:00 that afternoon the contractions started getting closer together. I tried not to let myself get excited again, but when we started timing the contractions we found they were longer and closer together and my husband finally convinced me to let myself believe that I was in labor. I wasn’t excited like I had been two mornings before. By now I was just ready to get it over with. I held a hot water bottle to my abdomen and read a book, stopping every six minutes or so to breathe through a contraction. They got more and more uncomfortable, and around 8:00pm I decided to take a bath. I spent two hours in the tub and they were by far the best hours of my labor. In the warm water the contractions didn’t hurt much at all. We even thought that we wouldn’t need to call Toni until the next morning. But when I finally got out of the water they were much more painful and intense and we called Toni and asked her to come right away.

For much of the night I laboured on the toilet. The baby was pushing on my bladder and I had to pee after every contraction. We had the lights off and candles lit. Christian was with me, rubbing my back and handing me water to drink every few minutes. My dad was right outside the bathroom window digging a hole for a little Live Oak sapling we had bought to plant with Taro’s placenta. It was kind of surreal sitting on the toilet, labouring away, listening to the sound of my dad’s shovel in the garden.

Toni and Nanci arrived around 11pm, set up and then, for the most part, sat in the living room and let me get on with it in the bathroom. They came in every fifteen minutes or so to listen to the baby’s heart rate. I was so uncomfortable by this point that even that minor interference bothered me and I was grateful not to be in a hospital where I would have been interfered with even more.

At 1am I had to move to the bed so that Toni could measure my cervix. It was at 9cm. I felt encouraged that I had come so far. This won’t be so bad, I thought. Only one more centimeter to go! Well, getting that little piece of cervix over the baby’s head was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It felt like it took a lifetime, endless minutes of squeezing; each contraction stronger and more painful than the next. I gave up all pretence of relaxing and staying calm. I felt like a wild animal, flailing around in a desperate attempt to find a comfortable position, grunting, groaning and crying out when I couldn’t stand it. Christian did his best to calm me down and thanks to him I remembered to breathe through the contractions. But every time Toni felt inside me it was the same; “still just a little lip of cervix” that refused to budge. I told myself with absolute certainty that if I made it through this alive I would never, ever do it again. In retrospect, the worst part was not the pain; that would have been manageable if only I could have been sure that there would be an end in the very near future. Because I was physically and emotionally exhausted from the days of false labor, by the 12th hour of my real labor I felt sure I would not have the energy to go on for much longer. Fortunately I didn’t have to. At 3:01 by Toni’s notes (I had no concept of time) the “cervical lip was clear”. I was free to push. I had been hoping through the whole of the transition phase that the pushing phase would be completely different, that it wouldn’t hurt. It did feel better to push, but it was still painful. At one point I made the mistake of asking Toni how long the pushing phase would last. “Anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.”

I started out pushing on the birthing stool with Christian behind me for physical and moral support. But the position I was in was constricting the baby and his heart rate started to decelerate. I saw Toni and Nanci look at each other and Toni told me that if it didn’t go up we’d have to go to the hospital. They gave me oxygen and I changed position until we found one that allowed his heart rate to go back up: nothing but absolutely perpendicular would do. I was so relieved because I could not have imagined going anywhere with a baby squeezing out of my birth canal.

To maintain a perpendicular position involved upright squatting with Christian holding me from behind, his arms looped under my shoulders. Each time I contracted I would groan and let out a yell and he would join in shouting “C’mon Kellie”! I felt like I was training for the army. At one point Toni told me to reach in and feel my baby’s head. It was right there, only an inch or so inside. I teared up a little, touching my boy for the first time, but I was too uncomfortable to get too emotional, and another contraction came, taking my focus away. The louder I yelled, the easier it was, and in between I just tried to catch my breath. Finally, at 4:30 am, the final push came. I could feel his head and shoulders stretching my skin and I cried out “what’s happening?!?” even though I knew the answer. “You’re birthing your baby” Toni said, and seconds later he slipped out. I felt so relieved, and so tired, I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep, but Toni handed me my little son and I told myself, “hold him to your breast and look him in the eye”. He latched on right away and started sucking. I just looked down at him, so grateful to be holding him, and he looked up at me with his dark eyes lined with red stork bites. He had a little cone head, just like I did when I was born.Peaceful Sleep

Now, 11 weeks later all of this seems like a dream and it’s hard to believe that such a drama played out in the same room we sleep in so peacefully every night. Little Taro is a great nurser, which I attribute to the fact that he was able to nurse seconds after being born and barely left my arms for the whole of that day. I feel so fortunate that we decided to have him in the comfort of our home and that we were put in touch with Toni and her excellent assistant Nanci. I am so grateful to both of them for pursuing the field of midwifery and for helping us to bring or son into the world.