3 days ago, Greg and I did something amazing.
We made a decision months ago to bring our baby girl into this world in a way that is seen as “unconventional” in our modern society. I know the decision was much easier for me than it was for Greg, but he was a damn trooper. He trusted me and my dream for a peaceful, natural birth. I know he was scared much more than he allowed me to see.. I was scared at first too. How can’t you be? The first thing we almost always heard when telling people about my goal for an all-natural, unmedicated, out-of-hospital birth was horror stories. That’s all people know. They know a friend of a friend’s sister who would have “died” had she not given birth in a hospital. Or a baby who they knew who would have never made if it, if not for medical intervention.
I DO BELIEVE THERE IS OCCASIONAL NEED FOR MEDICAL INTERVENTION DURING BIRTH.
Let me just get that out there. I am grateful for some medical advances that we have made with time, but I also believe that a lot of the time, for women with low-risk pregnancies, this is all unnecessary. I believe birth is natural. I believe that nature made a woman’s body with all of the right parts and functions to grow another human being, and bring that human being into our world safely.
But still- 99% of the people who were told about our birth plan had negative words. “What’s the point?” “The hospital is safer” “What if (insert OB scare tactics here)?”
My first reaction was fear.
Maybe they’re right. Maybe they know something I don’t.
So I researched even more, and I found support and became confident in my decision.
My second reaction was anger.
How dare you assume I am putting myself and my baby in danger? How dare you sweep away a woman’s choice- a family’s choice- for a memorable and enjoyable experience, instead of a high stress, disconnected one that doesn’t suit them?
My third reaction was avoidance.
I tried not to tell people. I didn’t need their negative words clouding my dream for something more spiritual and empowering and NATURAL.
And now- communication.
I am sharing my experience to let people know their options. To let people know they can have control of how and where they bring their child into the world- a once in an life time event for you. One thing I am highly disappointed in is how common it is for a women to be told “You’re pregnant. Go to an Obstetrician.” It took my own extensive research to learn I have options in care providers. Do you know almost everyone I spoke to didn’t even know what a Midwife is? Hell, I didn’t know what a Midwife was! I knew an OB was THE medical professional who delivers babies. Wrong. An Obstetrician is trained in childbirth surgery. Obviously they know how to deliver a baby without surgery, but again, THEY are delivering your baby, not you. We are so often bullied into what is convenient for the OB, because he/she has a degree, and can scare us with simple “what ifs”, especially in the middle of labor- such a vulnerable state for a woman and her partner. The hospital staff tells you that your uterine contractions need to be sped up, assuming your body and your baby do not know what they are doing. Then the pain intensifies with this unnatural labor augmentation, so now almost always an epidural is requested (or more often suggested). And now you are told when to push, because you probably can’t feel your body telling you it is time to push. But often pushes from a numb lower body are ineffective, and assistance is needed in the form of forceps or vacuum extraction (likely an episiotomy too for ease of delivery).
They do not provide full truth, and they all make it difficult to have a choice (health insurance companies included). And that is the problem.
My statements are obviously very general, and not the only outcome of a hospital births. But THIS IS NORMALIZED. All of these interventions. And yes, we have developed them, and we can take advantage of them at our will. If this is your choice, I support that. What I don’t support is being misinformed and bullied into a birth experience that is on someone else’s terms than your own. I support choice, and presenting pregnant women with their options. And listening to their wishes for their unique birth experience.
I did not feel confident that my birth wishes would be accepted in a hospital, so Greg and I visited a birthing center and made the decision to bring our daughter into the world there. Surrounded by educated midwifes who have assisted in the delivery of healthy babies for years. Midwives who we became close with over the months and felt comfortable with, knowing they would be the ones supporting us at this intimate event. They respected our wishes, they educated us, and they cared.
And now, after it all, I am SO grateful that they listened to my body and let my body and my baby tell us what the game plan was. Not the clock or the next shift change.
Our Birth Story…
I woke up Sunday morning a little before 7am with some cramping. I wasn’t really able to sleep through it, so I walked around. I made breakfast. I did some yoga and I meditated. They were not subsiding and I started thinking this may be labor. I wasn’t sure, but I had been dealing with some consistent back pain since the day before. The contractions weren’t lasting very long though so I text my Doula to update her, and continued my day.
Soon I realized I wasn’t able to focus on tasks around the house, so I woke up Greg and got in the shower to help relax. We laid down and he would help with pressure points as the contractions got stronger. Then I decided to try a bath. After a little while I couldn’t even sit still so I took a shower again, and when the water started to turn cold, I asked Greg to call the Midwives and our Doula. I was sure our baby girl was coming.
Our Doula decided to come to the house since it seemed labor was progressing. I believe this was around 12pm.
Roughly 10 minutes later, after Greg decided to shower and pack up, my water broke. The contractions quickly intensified, I think I scared Greg out of the shower, and we decided to head to the birthing center, about 30 miles away.
This was quite a ride…. obviously impossible to get comfortable while I was in active labor in a car. But I turned inward, and focused on my breathing, and I breathed through contractions. I reminded myself of the purpose of these contractions-my body knows what it needs to do, to deliver this baby girl- and that is what it was doing.
We arrived at the birthing center and were welcomed into our peaceful birthing suite– complete with a beach entry shower, deep water tub, and a queen-sized bed (these things I remember from the tour, probably not in that moment). Our Doula arrived at the same time. She helped me immensely with massage and essential oils to counter the pressure from my contractions, while the tub filled up. My midwife checked me to make sure everything was okay, and apparently, I was already 9cm dilated. This she did not tell me until I left later that day, and I am so grateful. The absence of clocks and numbers allowed me to trust my body in the progression, and not put any expectations on what should be happening next.
Finally, I got into the warm water and tried to relax. For the next (I guess) hour or so, the midwifes, my Doula, and Greg all surrounded me. Encouraging me, loving me, empowering me- telling me I was doing great. Reminding me to breathe. Keeping me hydrated. The support brings me to tears just thinking about it now, I could not have asked for anything more.
I was never told when it was time to push, but I think at some point my midwife mentioned that if I feel the urge to push, then I should. “Listen to your body,” I was told over and over again. This was the best advice I could have ever received.
I finally began pushing as I felt my baby girl descending, and after I figured out what was effective and what was not, Avery Rion Carstensen joined us Earth side at 2:18pm. She was immediately placed on my chest, and I just looked at her in amazement. The first cry was the greatest sound I had every heard. I had felt this baby girl for 9 months, and maybe seen her a few times, but I finally heard her. She was here.
They moved us from the tub, to the bed. Greg laid with us as they checked us and everything was perfect. We laid and cuddled and tried to process the whole event which seemed impossible. What had just happened? We thought we had a few more weeks! ?
They brought us food and warm tea and talked about how amazing everything went; how great we did together, and how grateful we all were to share this experience. Then later that evening when Avery and I were check and stable, we went home to spend our first night together as a family.
I had my dream birth. And I don’t think enough people can say that, which is why I wanted to share our birth story.
I cannot thank my support enough. Thank you to Willow Midwife Center for Birth and Wellness, LLC , thank you to my amazing doula Gila Shire , my family for being so supportive, and thank you to all the amazing women I have met on this journey so far.
And THANK YOU, a million times over to the best birth partner, fiancé, and father that I could dream of Gregory Carstensen. I know this whole thing was nothing close to easy for him, being the protective loving person that he is, but you can ask him how he feels about it all today ?
Please feel free to share, comment, tag, whatever you need to do to inspire somebody to have a choice in their birth story <3?