My first child was born in June 2009 in a teaching hospital in St. Louis, MO. The experience was so traumatic that I swore I would never have another baby in a hospital ever again. A year later when I became pregnant with my daughter, we were living in Kentucky. I looked for a birth center but soon found out there were no birth centers in Kentucky. I then met a woman at a local mothering group who had recently given birth at home. She described a peaceful, family centered birth that sounded idyllic. She gave me her midwife’s contact information and I made the call. The midwife I met with had years of education and experience and I knew she was the right person for the job. My husband, however, needed some convincing. We could have had our insurance pay 100% of the costs of a hospital birth, but we would have to pay out of pocket for a home birth because Kentucky doesn’t license direct entry midwives and our insurance wouldn’t pay for her services. After meeting with her a few times my husband realized she was a competent medical professional who could be trusted to care for me and our baby, even without a license from the state. My pregnancy was fairly uneventful, and when I went a week past my due date the midwife didn’t bully me into an induction the way the OB had with my first pregnancy. Instead she smiled and calmly reminded me that “Nobody stays pregnant forever. Babies come when they’re ready.” The respectful care I received really helped to put me at ease and I learned to trust my body and the process of pregnancy and birth. My midwife treated me like a person with unique needs and circumstances (which we all are!) and not like a patient. That made a world of difference.
When the big day came I woke up with contractions at 1am. I called the midwife and she immediately sent her apprentice over to make sure it was the real deal. The apprentice arrived, confirmed I really was in labor, and she sat with me chatting while we waited for the midwife to arrive. By the time she got there I was tired and ready to go back to sleep. I slept off and on for the next several hours while the midwife periodically checked my vitals and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. By noon I was awake and ready for some pain relief, so the midwife’s apprentice drew me a bath and helped me get into the tub. I didn’t plan on staying there long, but the water felt so good I didn’t want to get out. I soon felt the urge to push and I decided to stay right where I was. I remember hearing my husband ask with just a hint of panic in his voice, “Is she going to have the baby in the tub?!” The midwife was calm as can be when she answered, “I think she is.” We didn’t plan for it, but the midwife and her apprentice easily transitioned from the bedroom to the bathroom, made sure I was as comfortable as possible, and held my hand as I gave birth to my daughter in the water. After she made her entrance into the world, I immediately leaned back and took a deep breath. I was exhausted! Then my husband said, “Umm…is someone gonna get the baby out of the tub?” That made us all laugh and the midwife’s assistant reached into the water, pulled my baby up, and handed her to me. We sat relaxing in the tub for a few minutes and then the midwife gently reminded me that I was sitting in a tub full of blood and amniotic fluid and maybe it was time to move to the bed. They both helped me up and assisted me as my baby and I made our way to the bed where I had initially planned on giving birth. I delivered the placenta in the bed, cut the cord in the bed, and the midwives performed all necessary procedures while I relaxed with my baby on my chest. It was perfect.
After we were all cleaned up and dressed, our older children (my son and two stepchildren) came in to meet their new sister. My neighbor made us lunch, and just an hour after my baby girl was born I was sitting in bed nursing her and devouring a bowl of homemade spaghetti while my toddler son stared at us in awe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.