I wish I’d known the first time around about the incredible gift of a midwife. Zachary’s birth changed my life in all of the best ways, but when my husband and I found out we were expecting our second baby, I knew deep down that I didn’t want a repeat hospital birth. Coincidentally, the Waco Birth Center & Clinic had just opened, which was owned and operated by a family at our church. I discussed the idea of an out of hospital birth with my husband and talked to a bunch of other mom friends about their birth experiences with midwives. After touring the birth center, I knew that we had found our place.
Every check up was like a casual afternoon hangout at someone’s house. In fact, my birth center used to be a house built in the early 1900’s, so it’s full of charm. The midwife and her team and I would sit around in the foyer and chat while they’d take my weight and blood pressure. It was the first time I felt like the people involved in my pregnancy were actually involved. The OB I saw with my first baby had so many patients that I felt like I had to give her a recap on things at each visit. With this group of ladies, there was space and time to talk about things like my spiritual well-being, mental health, and past experiences with breastfeeding and baby raising. Every visit was reassurance that my body was strong and healthy and capable of growing a human and giving birth.
I daydreamed about Ryan’s birth multiple times. It wasn’t my first time to give birth, but it was my first time to give birth naturally and I didn’t quite know what to expect. It was a regular Tuesday. I came home from work, we ate dinner, and I just felt sort of crampy. I thought I was having Braxton-Hicks contractions because they weren’t very strong or very close together. After about two hours, I texted my midwife. She told me to start tracking and after another hour, I realized they were real contractions and she had me come in to be checked out. I was 39 weeks pregnant, three days before my due date, and I had been walking around one centimeter dilated for probably a week or two. Well, there wasn’t much progress. I was now only at 2 centimeters. The contractions would probably just fizzle out throughout the night and perhaps baby would come in the next few days. She checked the heart beat just in case and things looked good. I went home with the intention of sleeping in and taking the next day off, just to rest up.
Well, as soon as I got home, around 10:00 that night, my water broke. And y’all, it was like the movies. Not the slow trickle that some women mistake for a pee accident. I instantly yelled, “Um, STEPHEN?! MY WATER JUST BROKE!” I texted my midwife. I was really excited to go into labor spontaneously for the first time! We dropped Zac off with a friend for the night and headed over to the birth center. It had only been an hour or two since I’d last been checked for progress, but I’d gone from 2 centimeters to almost 5 in that short time. My contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but they had started to feel stronger as the night went on.
Laboring in a birth center is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My midwife’s daughter is a massage therapist, so she brought out some relaxing essential oils and gave me a foot massage. We made casual conversation and sipped hot chocolate with the student midwives, only pausing when I had to breathe through a contraction. It was the perfect environment to welcome a child into the world.
I loved the freedom that I had in how and where I labored. I bounced on the birth ball. I walked up and down the stairs a few times. When I needed a protein boost, my husband went out and got breakfast tacos. When my contractions became really intense, I moved to the tub. The warm water felt good on my back. It was surprisingly chilly that night. I labored for a while in the tub, my husband started a worship station on Pandora and I started telling myself to just get through each contraction. I was exhausted and running out of energy. I kept asking what time it was and wondered how much longer I’d feel this way. My midwife kept reassuring me that I was going great and that we’d have a baby soon. At this point, it was maybe 5 am. They helped me out of the tub and back onto the birthing ball and left my husband and I alone for a little while to get some things ready and answer some of the student midwives’ questions. I could swear that not five minutes later, I was yelling. “Oh my God, can it be time to push now?! I think it’s time to push!” They all raced back into the birthing suite.
I don’t know how to explain the feeling of knowing when you need to push. When you take the time to really listen to your body, it’ll just tell you. The whole night up to that point was just preparing me and empowering me for that very moment. I didn’t hold anything back. I put everything I had into bringing this life into the world. I cried out to God to help me. I stood up, clutched onto my husband’s arms and I gave birth to our baby boy. Instantly, I felt that feeling, that rush of wonder that you read about and wish for. I buried my face into my husband’s chest and cried. This child that we had so desired was finally here and he was ours.
They quickly handed Ryan up to me and Stephen guided me over to the bed to lay down and rest. I put Ryan on my chest for skin to skin while the midwives cleaned up and checked our vitals. He latched perfectly. My husband laid next to me and we just took in his sweet face and tiny hands. After making sure the placenta was delivered and my blood pressure was normal, I had the chance to shower off. We took a two-hour nap, and after having a light breakfast and getting vitals checked once more, we were cleared to go home at around 11 or so. It was the perfect spring day to be born.
Taking charge of how I gave birth has changed how I feel about myself as a woman and as a mother, and it has changed how I perceive my body and what it is capable of doing. Mamas and soon-to-be mamas, I sincerely encourage you to explore every option for your maternity care.
You may learn that you are capable of more than you thought you were.