Our first child was born at a hospital in Austin. Since we were experiencing our first pregnancy and childbirth, we were shrouded in a cloak of uncertainty. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect. The room was calm in comparison to the activity going on outside, but we were constantly distracted by the changing room conditions caused by the rotation of doctors and nurses that came in to check on us from time to time. All of the breathing exercises we had practiced in Lamaze classes were forgotten and in the moments between nurse visits to monitor my wife’s progress, we were left alone with descriptions of symptoms for everything that could go wrong. We were to press a button if any of the described problems occurred. As the time for active labor drew near, I was visibly burdened by my wife’s discomfort and in a state of nervous preoccupation. The nurse who noticed my condition assured me that things would only get worse. We made it safely through the evening by God’s grace and received our first daughter.
While the experience at that hospital was less dramatic than most childbirth depicted on television, it intrigued me to find out later, that homebirth was possible. When we discovered the blessing of my wife’s second pregnancy two years later, I decided to find out more about the option for home birth. God’s grace led us to Toni. We had much less doubt and uncertainty after the experience of my wife’s first pregnancy. However, we still had many questions and concerns. Toni was able to answer all of our questions, quell all of our concerns, and keep us well informed at each stage of the pregnancy. We discovered that we still had much to learn about having a safe and healthy pregnancy and Toni was there to guide us throughout the pregnancy.
When my wife’s labor pains began early in the morning, I remembered the instructions that the clinic in Austin had given us for our first childbirth, and we waited for contractions to get within 5 minutes of one another. Toni had given us the same advice, but I called her to let her know that the birth could happen that day and wanted to get her directions on when it was time for her to come. The contractions stayed 15 to 45 minutes apart throughout the day. By 8:00 P.M. that evening the contractions seemed to be less consistent so I called Toni again to inform her that we were unsure if the baby would be born that day. Toni told us to relax and try to go to bed early to get some rest for the coming day. She also told us that the contractions could become more consistent and frequent once we settled in for the evening and my wife was able to relax. I was surprised when she told me that whenever we wanted her there, she would be on her way. I did not want to make Toni wait all night for something that might not happen till the next day, so I decided to wait. As soon as we settled under the covers, my wife immediately began to have contractions consistently within 5 minutes of one another. I called Toni and began to take out all the items for the delivery and birth that we had gathered from the list given to us by Toni.
Rather than being constrained in bed, Toni encouraged my wife to move around and try different positions to cope with the discomfort of labor pains. Toni brought a large rubber ball to sit on and some other props to help this process. Unlike our previous experience where I had failed to coach my wife in proper breathing, Toni and her assistant Joani helped my wife breathe correctly during and between contractions. My wife said afterward that the breathing helped more than she could have imagined and that she felt more relaxed between contractions. We were both much more comfortable this childbirth because Toni and Joani were there that entire evening to support and even help comfort my wife with massages and breathing instructions. They constantly monitored the pulses of my wife and the baby and made sure that my wife was as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
When my wife felt the urge to push during contractions, Toni made sure that everything was ready. Toni informed my wife to wait a little longer for the womb to completely open so that the baby would pass without injury to my wife. I remembered the same circumstance two years earlier in the hospital when my wife was rushed and coaxed to push even though she did not feel ready to push. Very soon thereafter my wife was completely ready and the final push brought forth our second daughter, Katelyn Marie. My wife does not remember seeing our first daughter for the first time until several hours after the delivery. This time, my wife spent the first hours holding and nursing our new baby daughter. It was a special experience for her that she had completely missed with our first daughter. We both agreed immediately afterward, that this childbirth experience was far better. In the time that has passed since then, many more comparisons between the 2 experiences have become apparent to us and we are even more thankful for God’s blessings.