It should be said upfront that this post is not to promote my birth story over others. There is no one right way to have a baby. Every mom is INCREDIBLE, no matter the method in which they became one. We’re all warriors, from those with vaginal births, C-sections, surrogate pregnancies, infertility battles, and adoption, just to name a few. Moms are amazing, no matter how they got to hold their babies in their arms. Period.
This story today is my story..the story of how I chose to have a home birth with a Certified Nurse Midwife/Nurse Practitioner with a doula present and how amazing they were.
I knew in my heart that I wanted to try this; it truly was the greatest decision I could have ever made to bring my second child into this world.
My first delivery at age 24 was in a birthing center, which was lovely and fine...it just wasn’t the experience that I’d imagined. I was cooped up in a room. I wasn’t allowed to eat (in case of a C-section) - so, I know that that makes sense and all, but as a Registered Dietitian, I know how important it is to nourish your body during the marathon that is labor and delivery. This drove me crazy that I couldn’t eat! I’d been up since 2 am the night before, and she wasn’t born until a little after 2 pm...that’s a long time without nourishment. The delivery itself was fine. I was thankful and excited that I didn’t use any medications. I love a challenge, and I was honestly really curious if I’d be able to manage. I know I was very lucky that I didn’t have very long labor...she was out in just 15 minutes of pushing. I give every Mama credit for how they birth, no matter with drugs or without - it’s HARD!
The thing was...after the baby was born, I was left with her. A new mom, who was a mom for the first time, still recovering, bleeding, sore, and exhausted. I left with a baby who I was just getting to know, with no real assistance. I remember feeling like I’d been left to the wolves. Yes, I had my family around, but I was figuring out how to nurse, how to change diapers, and how to become a mom, all while I was trying to recover from my body literally being split in half to birth her. Again, luckily, nursing came easy for us, but she never slept. Like ever. I remember on my second night in the hospital, begging the nurses for some relief from a baby that cried and cried and didn’t sleep. I’d been up for days. They took her for 15 minutes, said she was crying too much and that they were really busy, and brought her back. I started crying too, exhausted and alone and staring at this sweet little baby, who just wouldn’t stop crying. I was discharged home the next day and was told to follow up in the office in 6 weeks. That was it. No support, no guidance, no real care for a new mom who also needed, no, desperately needed it! I had a 4th-degree tear, was wearing diapers of my own, and was exhausted beyond belief. The whole process is no joke! Thank goodness I had and have such a supportive family who helped me often. Not everyone does...I thought about that for a long time. What about those mothers who don’t have a lot of help; who are left to figure this all out, while healing from quite a bodily trauma...who is caring for the moms?
I didn’t have another baby for eight years, almost to the day. I was diagnosed with an unlucky case of thyroid cancer when my daughter was just a baby and was told that I couldn’t have any more babies with the fear of such a high level of estrogen potentially fueling a return. I won’t go into how deeply this saddened me. That story is for another day. What did end up happening was the unexpected surprise of 6 years later, being told that it was safe. I could have another.
I’ve always toed the line between western medicine and the “natural” world. I firmly believe that both have a place in total wellness. I really do. With the discovery of my second, very welcomed pregnancy, I knew that there had to be more support out there for mothers during the pregnancy and birth.
Two of my very closest friends had given birth to beautiful and healthy babies within the year prior - both of whom had chosen to have a home birth with a Nurse Practitioner who also was a Certified Nurse Midwife. I’d heard stories of their beautiful, supported pregnancy and births along with the aftercare that followed. I didn’t think twice. I wanted this for my own pregnancy.
I met with Connie Kieltyka of Olivebridge Midwifery pretty early on in my pregnancy - our first meeting was a solid hour of her time, and that was just to sort of interview each other, along with my husband, to determine if this was the right choice. I was floored by how much time she took, how wholly and completely she listened to us, to our beliefs, needs, fears, and hopes. Her very impressive and intensive history working on OB/GYN units at hospitals as a Nurse and Nurse Practitioner, plus her long history of doing home births, had both of us sold without a doubt. We happily chose home birth. I was so thankful for the opportunity for something more than what I’d had before.
Josh's favorite part of our meeting with Connie.
Throughout my pregnancy, Connie regularly met with me alone and with my spouse. Each meeting was a full hour, if not more. She didn’t just examine and measure me. She asked how I was feeling, both emotionally and physically. She cared. She listened. I remember being floored by how supported I felt during my pregnancy. She let me borrow books, taught me labor techniques, and shared her vast wealth of knowledge with us. I was so impressed the whole time. She made me feel cared for, supported, and heard.
At 37 weeks, I broke my foot walking into the accountant’s office to do our taxes. It was the worst, and because I was absolutely huge with a walking boot on, she helped me figure out how to stay in alignment to support my birth. She saw me weekly at that point and offered me so much help and support - I was in pain, and I remember she came to my own home to see me often. I will never forget that.
I made it to 41 weeks with my pregnancy, and I was itching for the baby to come out. She would smile at me and help me through my frustrations at how far along I was with no baby. When the time came, she came to my house with a doula, named Cayenne, with her. I had never worked with a doula before, and I was quite curious about what it would be like. I had a tough delivery, as I just wasn’t in proper alignment due to the boot-wearing, and it didn’t help that my little guy was “sunny side up,” as they call it. It was slow-moving and I was struggling with the pain in my foot and of course, labor. We chose our bedroom to birth in, and Connie turned the lights down low and turned on soothing folk music. They set up a tub in my room and together with my family, it became our little birthing den for the next 10 hours. Connie and Cayenne worked expertly around each other...Cayenne would come behind and skillfully hold my hips and back when I contracted to completely ease the pain as I worked through it, allowing me to allow my body to relax and open up as it needed to. Connie watched closely from across the room, allowing me to labor on my own and in the way I needed to, only stepping in to do some quick monitoring of the baby as she needed. The best part - she encouraged me to eat small snacks, and I cannot even begin to tell you what a difference that made in my mood and endurance during my birth.
I’ll never forget when she suggested I try the tub at around 6cm dilated. I wasn’t sure about the tub, but I was curious and definitely wanted it there. She had me get in, and I have to tell you...she totally knew that I was about to head into the deeply painful transition period and that I needed a rest before that happened. The moments in the water were pure magic to me. The labor pain all but stopped. I was able to have about a half-hour of pain relief and peace. The music was playing softly (the song “Wagon Wheel” played a lot throughout that day, and when I hear it now, I’m always sweetly brought back to my birth), the lights were low, and I was able to have a few popsicles and recharge. When I came out, my body jumped right into the transition period, and Connie knew just what to do. While it was absolutely challenging to have a sunny-side-up baby without medications, I was able to focus and work through it due to Connie’s never-ending support and guidance. Little Parker was born in the very early hours of the next day, and it was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I was surrounded by family, my husband, Connie, and Cayenne, and I knew I had what it took to get him out and bring him earthside.
Connie stayed for a few hours, making sure that I was well examined, and Parker was examined and weighed/measured. She gave me a few stitches from a small tear (FAR better than my first birth - both babies weighed the same, but with the calmness I’d felt with this birth, I was able to take my time and only tear slightly - such a relief!). She made sure our new little family unit was settled, and she left only when I felt ready. She came back the very next day to check on me, to check on my nursing and if I needed help. She was always a text or phone call away. Connie came back to check on us regularly in those first weeks, and I always felt like someone had my back and was making sure that I had support. She even could tell that I’m totally a hype person and that I’d be up and cooking/cleaning and doing things right away. She took matters into her own hands and told my husband, Josh, that I needed to stay in bed for two weeks. I was like, WHAT?! I only lasted about four days in bed, but oh my gosh, I was able to rest, relax, and heal, while getting to know this beautiful little boy that I’d just birthed. I cannot imagine a greater gift.
I know that homebirth isn’t for everybody, and I respect that fully...what I do know is that homebirth changed me forever, and this time, in such a positive and happy way. I felt like I was able to do things as I needed to and not on someone else’s timeline. Both Connie and Cayenne were so generous with their time that day/night, and I will always be grateful to them for giving me such a gift. My little boy is now almost 4.5, and I can still remember this experience like it was yesterday because it had such a beautiful impact on me.
I’d love to hear your experiences and answer any questions that you may have about homebirth after hospital birth. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at email@example.com.