Updated: Dec 17, 2021
Written by Ashton
My first pregnancy was a breeze. Even early on, there was hardly any morning sickness, and later on, when I started getting bigger, the discomfort of my stretching skin and added weight were forgotten the moment my son would wiggle around or hiccup in my belly. It felt so magical, growing this little being within me. We went the hospital route but expected to try everything as naturally as we could. My OB assured me this was possible, and I believed her up until the moment we were admitted to the hospital. In actuality, what we experienced did not feel natural at all, but rather heavily monitored and pressured towards meeting a timeline, despite lack of complications. Being pressured to take medications I didn’t want in order to “speed things along.” Being told “no” or given a condition more often than “yes.” It felt like my whole birth process was micromanaged by these people I didn’t even know, who didn’t know me. My OB was calling in and telling me what she would like me to do like I hadn’t been meeting with her and talking to her about what I wanted for months. On top of having labor pains, I was frustrated. Even though we made it to full dilation without Pitocin or pain management, I didn’t feel heavy contractions urging me to push, and though we started right at 10 cm, I ended up pushing for hours on command with little effect. I was told some time in that my son was posterior and that was causing issues with pushing him out, but I also wasn’t connected to the process. After everything, I was tired and losing hope for a natural delivery. My husband and I agreed to a cesarean section and I was prepped for surgery. While I was waiting to go in and resting, I finally felt strong contractions and the urge to push on my own, but I was told it was too late. My son was born via c-section. The doctor and nurses were the first to hold our son, with my husband coming in second, and only after hours of sickness from the medicine for surgery was I able to connect with my newborn child. I felt mixed emotions – an intense love for this brand-new baby boy mixed with disappointment in myself, this feeling of failure. This faded, of course, as I slowly recovered, and my son began to grow into this amazing little man right before my eyes.
Flash forward two years and it’s time for a second baby. I knew I did not want to go through the same experience again and I also knew if I went the hospital route, it was very likely this pregnancy would end in cesarean, just like the first. I wanted a home birth, and this time, my husband was on board. We connected with Sandra and after our first meeting with her, we knew it was going to be a good fit. Each prenatal visit with Sandra felt like meeting with a friend – my son played with trains and toys as she went through each step with my husband and I together. We were not rushed at all and she took the time to get to know all of us as a family. Just as importantly, she made sure to key us in to all the stages of development as the pregnancy progressed and encouraged me to feel the baby and get in tune with where she was and how she was growing. Sandra talked us through any risks that might occur with having had a cesarean before and encouraged stretching to get the baby in the optimal position for birth well before we were close to having her. The midwife experience during the pregnancy was extremely different from the OB visits before. We met everyone who would be at the birth before I went into labor – my son knew them by name and looked forward to seeing Ms. Sandra and Ms. Jordan with each visit. As a result, we created a strong, trusting bond with Sandra and her team. When labor finally progressed and it was time to have our baby, I felt comfortable, unrushed, and uniquely supported by a circle of friends rather than monitored over by doctors. I felt in control of the process and despite a moment of uncertainty near the end of transition when things were most intense, I felt at ease through the birth and very connected to my baby and how she was progressing down. The last prenatal visit before birth, we met with Sandra and Becky together and they prepared us for any issues that might occur during the birthing process, going through steps they would take in the event of certain complications. So, when my daughter’s head was born before her body and she got stuck at the shoulders, I knew what was happening and what to do. Because of this, and because we were one team working together to get the baby out, what could have been a terrifying experience went quickly and smoothly, and within minutes we were out of the pool and my daughter was lying on my chest, strong and healthy. And just like that, with this team of amazing women at my side, I birthed my second child naturally, in my own home. This time, I was able to hold my baby and connect with her for quite a while before her cord was cut – my husband got to do the honors this time, which was important to him – and after that the three of us went upstairs and settled into our bed, relaxing with our newborn while the team cleaned up downstairs. The whole process after birth was relaxing and unrushed, and though we did all the checks and necessary steps that would be covered in the hospital, it wasn’t around us, but with us. When they weighed my daughter for the first time, we all had a big laugh – 9 pounds 10 ounces, a whole pound and an ounce bigger than my son had been, but birthed at home, and without a tear at that! I am so very grateful for having had the opportunity to birth our baby girl with Sandra, Jordan and Becky. Whereas I struggled emotionally after the birth of my son, Evelyn’s birth left me feeling extremely empowered – I couldn’t have been happier birthing her with my husband behind me and the Gentle Strength team by my side.