My story begins in 1995 with the birth of our first son. I was young and did not have any family nearby. As is often the case, most of my friends were also having their first babies and we all did what was then the status quo. We found local obstetricians, took Lamaze classes to learn how to "properly breathe" our way through labor, and awaited the day we would birth our babies in hospitals nearby.
As per my hospital's policy, 3 weeks prior to my due date, I met with the anesthesiologist to have him explain to me all the risks and benefits of receiving a new and highly-recommended pain treatment called an epidural. Understanding that I would not be able to have it until I was a full 5cm dilated, I signed the papers and went on my way to finish getting everything ready for my baby's birth.
In the early morning hours of January 15, my water spontaneously broke. Despite everyone's assurances that I would know when it was "real labor", I was still unsure. Within minutes, I woke my husband and we made our way to the car. I was now unable to stand upright and the contractions were coming hard and fast. Fear set in immediately. I was given 2 shots of Stadol when I arrived because I was only 3cm dilated. This medication lessened the pain, but made me feel like I was floating outside of my body. When I reached 5cm, I was given an epidural. Within a short time, I was fully dilated, but unable to follow the nurses' commands to push. I was out of control and wanted nothing more than to leave the hospital. The doctor cut a severe episiotomy to allow the use of a vacuum extraction and 40-minutes later, he helped pull my son out of my body. After a brief moment together, my son was taken for newborn tests and the staff focused on cleaning and stitching me up. What felt like several hours went by before I was able to see my son and try my hand at nursing him. He was healthy, with the exception of his cone-head from the vacuum. 24 hours later we went home. I spent the next 2 weeks in excruciating pain while the episiotomy healed. I remember feeling isolated and confused about my experience. I knew that I should be happy, I had a healthy baby, I was able to breastfeed, but why didn't I feel satisfied? My friends assured me that this was just the way birth went. After all, we all had received various forms of "help" byway of interventions during birth. I put it out of my mind until I learned I was pregnant again 3 years later.
It was April 1998 and I was recovering from the traumatic loss of my cousin one month earlier. I was experiencing frequent "false" labor symptoms and my doctor began to prepare me for a possible preterm labor. Thankfully, my pregnancy continued, but I could not get over my grief. At 38 weeks, I broke down in my doctor's office when he told me that I was only 1cm dilated. I felt like I needed to meet my baby and he agreed to schedule an induction. He told us that physically, the baby would be fine and probably would do better on the outside, not absorbing all my stress hormones. I was admitted to the same hospital as 3 years before on the following evening and given a 1/2 pill, explained to me as "Pitocin in pill form". The next morning I was given the second 1/2 of the pill and was able to labor walking the halls for some time. After receiving an epidural, I was restricted to the bed, but the nurse-midwife did encourage me to be in a hands and knees position to rock my pelvis and move the baby to alleviate the minor back labor I was experiencing. Minutes later, the baby turned and I rolled back onto my back to push. I was able to maintain a semi-reclined position during the pushing phase and in 5 minutes, my second son was born.
I was exhilarated and felt like I had maintained control this time and 24 hours later, we returned home where I made a much smoother transition with my newborn. I began pondering the wonders of that simple position change as I mentally compared my 2 birth experiences.
Some time went by and I began to hear words like "Bradley-method", "prenatal massage", "midwife", and "doula". I didn't know what all these words meant, but I started to get a nagging feeling that despite all the books and magazines I read to help me better the second time, maybe I missed something. Could there be another way to birth?
When my youngest entered kindergarten, I started massage school. I was determined to focus my training on helping other women. I received my training in prenatal and labor massage and began to explore all the options available for women in my area. Although my husband and I have decided not to have any more children, I am passionate about helping other women and their families experience birth as the empowering and beautiful event that it is. I use my extensive training and experience to support women no matter where or how they choose to birth their babies.
This is your birth. This is your baby. These are your memories.
I am privileged to give you support and information to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.