August Mom of the Month

We hope you enjoy reading this birth story, submitted by one of our moms who delivered in June. May it encourage you in your own family’s journey.

My name is Anita.  In my free time I love to cook and bake, take photographs of the natural flora around our Rockingham County property, design various sewing projects that may or may not ever come to fruition, and read young adult fiction.  As a stay-at-home mom to four young children (and soon-to-be homeschool teacher) I have precious little of that kind of time.  Raising a family is my life now, and I can sew, cook, nose around with my camera, and clean my house later.  In about 18 years.  All four of my children have been born at home, the last two attended by midwives from Brookhaven Birth Center.  This is the story of my fourth.  Spoiler alert:  the baby does finally come out!

Thursday morning, June 8.  I was having a relaxing morning bath, complete with a pint of NORA tea and flickering candle on the edge of the tub.  And I was sobbing.  My husband sat on the stool by the tub and patiently heard me out:  “I don’t want to be getting ready for another prenatal appointment and ultrasound!  I don’t want to cook another lunch and supper!  I want to be lying in bed with my baby while other people cook for me and pull meals out of the freezer!!  I don’t want to have to go face everyone’s sympathy that I’m still pregnant and answer their sweet questions without crying!”  Sob, sob, sob.  Then, “I know I’m going to be laughing at myself in a few days, but right now I’m just so p****d off!!”

I had thought the week before that I was pretty much the queen of waiting actively and patiently for my baby to arrive.  I’d gone to 41 weeks with two other pregnancies, so I knew how to busy myself with projects.  Up to 41 weeks I was feeling rather chipper about still being pregnant, but hit 41 + 1 day and I was done.  Done with all my projects and done waiting.

I started reading up on all the natural induction methods and haphazardly tried numerous ones.  The days crept by with no indication of impending labor.  I tried to distract myself.  I loaded up the three kiddos on a field trip to the Route 11 chip factory in Mt. Jackson.  We went to my parents’ house for an afternoon.  My husband and I frequented our local Red Box.  No labor.  No baby.

At 41 weeks and 3 days I had a scheduled prenatal appointment (one I had been sure I wouldn’t need to go to).  We were to meet with a midwife then have an ultrasound to check on baby’s health and make sure it was okay to keep on waiting.  This was the same morning I was having my not-so-relaxing bath.  After hearing me out, my husband kindly took the morning off and stayed home to give me time to compose myself and to help get the kids ready to go into town (we live about 40 minutes from Brookhaven).  He met me at the birth center for our appointment with Zazi and stayed for the ultrasound.

What an amazing experience!  Up until then I’d never had an ultrasound with any of my pregnancies.  Since we were having one so late this time, we decided to go ahead and have the sonographer tell us the sex of the baby if it was obvious.  How incredible to see our baby as it—he!–was still living inside me!  All the healthy organs, the sweet little face, the hands, feet, even his tongue sticking out of his mouth were there on a screen before us even as he remained hidden away from our direct sight.  I think we both cried a little.  We got excellent scores on baby/mama health which was reassuring.  There was nothing at all wrong with this little guy, he just wasn’t ready to come out yet.  We left with a ream of ultrasound images of our baby’s face to show off and our own little secret—it’s a boy!–to savor for however many days we had left until meeting him face to face.

My spirits were greatly improved that evening, and even more so the following morning when I finally had some bloody show!!!  This was it!  Each of my previous labors had begun with the loss of mucus plug one day, laboring through that night and part of the following day until a baby was born.  I was sure this baby would be born sometime on Saturday.  I called the on-call number and let Emily know I had some bloody show.  I also told her, “If nothing happens overnight, I’m going to take castor oil in the morning”.  She texted me some recipes.  I put my mom (one of my faithful labor assistants) and mother-in-law (faithful childcare provider for the older children) on alert, and e-mailed my sisters.  My husband cautioned me, “this labor could be different—don’t get too attached to your own time line.”

Well.  Was he right.  And was I a bit mad about it.  All day Friday nothing more happened than losing a little bit more mucus throughout the day.  Too little.  No developing labor pattern through the night.  Just some of the same old Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having for weeks now.  I woke up Saturday morning a bit huffy to say the least.  All I could get out of my mouth was a bitter “you were right” to my husband before getting out of bed, jamming on some tennis shoes and vigorously walking up and down our gravel lane a few times (about 1.5 miles altogether).  As I walked I talked coaxingly to the baby about what a beautiful day it was and didn’t he want to come out and see it?!?  Almost the entire time I walked my belly felt tight, and I had to stop once or twice and sway my hips a little.  Braxton Hicks!  Ugh!

By the time I’d returned to the house, I had calmed down a little.  I had also decided not to take castor oil.  For one, I didn’t have any on hand.  I also knew this baby was healthy and just fine inside me, and I wanted to hold out on using the “holy grail” of a castor oil induction until I really, really, REALLY needed it!  I decided I needed to just get out of the house and try not to think about how pregnant I still was.

My husband did a few odd jobs outside then came in mid-morning to take over with the kids so I could go do some things that I just wanted to do.  I was out for about three hours, and almost the entire time I felt like my belly was tight.  I had to stop walking a few times until the tightness subsided, but I was mostly trying to ignore anything pregnancy-related (though I did note that the grocery store had a small bottle of castor oil.  If I needed it.  In a few days).

I got home, ate a late lunch and laid down for a nap.  When I got up I decided maybe I should pay a little more attention to this belly-tightening thing.  It didn’t feel like the kind of contractions I associated with labor, but it was pretty persistent.  I worked around in the kitchen and wrote down when I thought the tightening was starting and stopping.  Because of the baby’s position (his little back putting a lot of pressure on the front of my uterus) and his level of activity it was actually hard for me to tell when the tightening started and stopped.  But when I looked at my little paper, I could see it was happening more or less every 4-6 minutes.  Hmmmm . . . I called Emily to check in.  “Sounds like early labor,” she said.  She thought maybe the baby’s position was just causing it to feel different.  I told her I was going to take it easy—have a bath, watch a movie with my husband, and let her know if anything developed further.  She was with another laboring mom, so she let me know who she had on back-up for me.  Fine.  I’d had appointments with at least six midwives in my last few months, and I felt comfortable with them all.*

We decided to go ahead and call Grandma to come pick up our three other children for dinner and a sleep-over.  While we waited for her to arrive I sat with them on the couch and read books.  The contractions spaced out.  After the kids left we had a light supper and I relaxed in the tub with a magazine.  Then my husband and I settled in for a movie—Big Hero 6.  I wasn’t really paying much attention to the contractions, I was just hoping that the slowdown was temporary.  After the movie I set out snacks and a note for the birth team, and we went to bed around 10:30 with nothing new to report to anyone.  I thought I would sleep off and on through the night and have a baby the next day.

An hour later I was up and into the tub again.  The contractions were coming often enough to keep me from sleeping and I just felt restless.  My husband came along to pour water over my belly and time contractions.  They were 10, 7, 5, 4 minutes apart and anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute long.  Not a typical pattern for calling the midwife to rush over, especially at midnight!  I was a little discouraged, but continued to labor in the tub.  I told my husband I wished we could call someone who lived 10-15 minutes away to just come and check on things then go home.  But since our birth team (midwife, assistant, and my mom) lived 40 minutes to an hour away it seemed like locking them in for the night to call too early.

When I got out of the tub, though, the contractions intensified and I changed my mind.  The baby had been so active between contractions the whole time I was in the tub, and I wanted to make sure he was handling everything okay which I had no way of assessing myself.  My husband called the midwife and  my mom, while I went to lay in the bed.  All of a sudden I was scared that this could happen too fast, and the baby might be born before anyone else could arrive!  I remember looking at the clock at 1:44 and asking my husband, “you called everyone and they’re on their way, right?”  As I lay there I had a little talk with God and came to the decision that if this baby was ready, then I was going to be ready too.  If need be, I would give birth with God as my midwife and my husband as the assistant.  I had waited impatiently all this past week, why hold back now!?

I went into commander mode.  “Get the crockpot full of water and turn it on high.  The compresses are in a bag in the kit.  Fill the tub with water.  Line it with the striped towel.  Bring the birth tray!”  I had decided that the tub was where I wanted to give birth if the midwife was not here in time.  Back into the water I went, laying on my side and doing my best to surrender to the contractions and breathe big and deep (a la hypnobirthing).  We stopped timing anything, since it seemed rather like active labor by this point.

Around 2:30 am the birth team arrived.  From three different locations they ended up driving up our mile-long lane all in a row.  The baby had waited.  Since the other laboring mom had seemed to stall, Emily came after all, along with Megan as her assistant.  The baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure were checked right away, and then after Emily and Megan set up the birth supplies I got out of the tub for the internal exam I was requesting.  Emily thought I was 8-9 cm!  That was good to know—things were moving right along.  I labored on my hands and knees by the couch for awhile and had my mom read some of the notes and blessings I’d been given earlier from sisters and friends.  What an encouragement!  My husband also read off some phrases I had put on the wall to keep positive focus during labor.

After a while I asked for a birthing stool.  I also requested a steady flow of warm compresses to hold on my perineum which felt amazing!  Though I wasn’t straining to push, I was using the hypnobirth “breathing down” technique through much of this part of labor.  At one point I asked Emily to check me again and she said I was completely dilated with a little bit of cervix left.   While she could feel the amniotic sac, the baby’s head still felt high to her.  I had the idea that she said something to the effect that if only that head would press on my cervix, this baby would be born soon!

“Any ideas for what to try?” I asked, wanting to keep things going.  She suggested I stand with my husband behind me, going into a supported squat as I felt a contraction coming on.  It sounded easier than it was to perform.  I tried a few times, but asked for other ideas pretty quickly.  Next up, “rotisserie Anita”!  To get the baby more centrally aligned and head pressing down, Emily suggested getting in the bed and laboring on my side, back, hands and knees, and other side through two contractions each.  Without pushing.  Besides the actual pushing, this was by far the hardest part of my labor.  I remember  being on my back and just waving my hands around while trying not to push when I really felt like it!  Throughout the labor my husband and mom kept a steady pressure on my lower back.  Even though I was using some hypnobirth breathing techniques, I wasn’t in hypnosis but was able to talk, joke, and make requests between contractions which always had good rest periods in between even to the end.

While laboring on my hands and knees, Emily and Megan started talking about having me do a sidelying release (see the Spinning Babies website if you don’t know what that is) through the next two contractions, which would have been very uncomfortable.  I knew what the maneuver was, and as they were explaining to me what they wanted me to do, I thought, “to heck with that, I feel like pushing and I’m going to give some big ones!”  I did and my water broke!  I was still on my hands and knees on the bed.  The sidelying release idea was quickly abandoned and everyone got in position to receive this baby!  I pushed another time or two, feeling that major pressure on my perineum.  “Come on little baby!” I cried, and heard myself give a high-pitched yelp as I pushed, which I quickly turned into a lower, more grunty sound.  When the baby crowned I reached down and felt his head.  I held my hand there even as I panted a bit under Emily’s instruction, then his head came out.   At this point I had a mini panic attack because two of my other babies had stuck at the shoulders a bit.  “Help!” I said, but was assured that everything was fine (in fact, I had been thinking that I wanted to be on hands and knees for this birth so that my pelvis would be optimally open).  I continued to push once or twice more, and out came his slick little body.  What a relief!!  It was 5:13 on a Sunday morning, and the whippoorwills were just wrapping up their nightly chorus.  I collapsed onto my elbows and listened to the beautiful music of my healthy baby crying.  My husband confirmed that he was indeed a “he”, and soon the baby was in my arms, staring at his parents with wide, alert eyes.  “You’re here!  You came!”  I kept saying.  Our little Faraday Thomas.  He weighed eight pounds and was 20 inches long.

Faraday didn’t seem to want to nurse right away, so we just held him and enjoyed looking at one another.  Mixed with the joy and relief of having the baby in my arms was an overwhelming gratitude for everyone who was a part of this journey with me, and I just had to say “thank you!” to my husband, mom, Emily and Megan.  I have been so blessed to have each of my babies born at home (three different houses!) with wonderful midwifery care (four different midwives!).  Ilove the relaxed and calm atmosphere of home birth where mom’s and baby’s needs are put first and the birth attendants devote their time and attention to the process at hand.  After all the waiting for a baby to come, after working through my anxieties about birth (yes, those were still present the fourth time around!), after coming through the challenge of labor, after the after pains have subsided, I had a pregnancy and birth experience I will treasure always.  And, more importantly, a treasured new member has been added to our family for keeps!

*The last few months of my pregnancy overlapped with some transition time at Brookhaven after Maya had left in March and before Emily came on in June as a second midwife.  In the interim, Zazi and the two midwives from Ten Moons Midwifery (Aimee and Desiree) filled in for appointments and on-call.

Calling aspiring midwives!

Brookhaven Natural Birth Center is looking for two or three new midwifery apprentices. We are looking for a passionate and committed person, willing to devote 2-4 years of time to learning and becoming a Certified Professional Midwife. This apprenticeship will begin immediately.

We will begin the interview process August 11, 2017. Please email cover letter, curriculum vitae, and two letters of recommendation to midwives@brookhavenbirth.com.

To provide more information about this position, the following is an from excerpt our apprentice handbook:

Apprenticeship at Brookhaven

Brookhaven Birth Center is a freestanding, CPM- run birthing center located in Harrisonburg, VA.  We serve a diverse population of women, including old order Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witness, and Hispanic clients.  We offer homebirth, waterbirth, and, of course, birth center births.  We attend between 8-10 births per month (sometimes more, rarely less).  We currently employ two midwives whom share a call schedule and 1-2 apprentices that also share on-call time.

We strive to always have dedicated, stable, long term (at least two year) apprentices within our practice.  We are committed to training the next generation of midwives through the apprenticeship model which means we have always taken PEP students; however, we are open to MEAC students as well.

We highly value continuity of care and strictly adhere to the Midwives Model of Care.  What this means for any potential student is that our practice is not a place to simply “get numbers” but a place to become a midwife.  You will be given more and more hands- on experience and “catch” babies once you have integrated into the team and developed relationships with clients.  This does not mean that you will simply observe things though!  We are a busy practice and consider apprentices as an integral part of running things.  You will quickly be able to “get your hands dirty” and jump right in!  It’s just that we so highly value our mother’s experiences that we will NEVER compromise that in order to satisfy an apprentices desire to get signatures. 

Misty Ward, owner, clinical director, and midwife, is a NARM approved preceptor and will be responsible for sign -offs while at Brookhaven. However, apprentices will also work closely with other midwives in the practice and are encouraged to seek guidance from those midwives as well.  Misty holds a monthly apprentice meeting where apprentices can share what they are learning; ask for clarity, process births, set goals and objectives and get NARM signatures.  If there are grievances or tensions we will schedule a private meeting with those involved.  These meetings are primarily for learning and relationship building.

Brookhaven’s preference is to have an apprentice with a significant amount of experience and study under her belt before joining our practice. However, if a student is committed to the process, willing to put a significant amount of effort in, and understands that midwifery training takes time we will consider “green” students.

Requirements:

  • High School Diploma or equivalent.
  • Current CPR and NRP certification.
  • A mobile phone, preferably a “smart” phone. (Droid, iPhone, etc.)
  • Your own car in good working order.
  • A GPS unit in your car! (Believe me; it’s vital!)
  • Reliable childcare.
  • Ability and willingness to be on call 24/7 during agreed upon times.
  • Be hard working, motivated, kind, compassionate, a team player, and dedicated!
  • Attendance at an approved workshop for birth assisting, basic skills and/or emergency skills (prior experience can take the place of this and will be based on each individual student’s experience)
  • Attendance at a Brookhaven “orientation”

 

For additional information please call 540-437-9850 or email midwives@brookhavenbirth.com

 

*GIVEAWAY* Red Wing Roots Music Festival Tickets

Red wing tickets giveaway

We are giving away a 3-Day ticket to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival! Visit our facebook page, share about the excellent care you received, like and comment on the post, and subscribe to our newsletter to earn multiple entries.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Must be 18 years or older to win. Ticket needs to be picked up in person by 10:00am Friday, June 14th. Ticket does not cover parking or camping fees.

May Mom of the Month

My husband Blake and I were married at age 26. Blake and his daughter accepted me as one of the family. Blake was a friend of my younger brothers while growing up but, I didn’t know him well since I had filled my time with basketball, tennis, and touring choir in high school. My brother told Blake not to mess with me and said I was trouble. I like to think my brother was just being protective. After graduating high school, I attended Liberty University then moved to Pensacola, FL to pursue an Ultrasound Technologist degree. I now work in Harrisonburg, VA in my field of choice utilizing my ultrasound degree.

Approximately 7 years after Blake and I had become acquaintances, we were re-introduced through social media. He asked me to go to the drive-in movie theater for our first date. As we began to spend more time together, Blake introduced me to his daughter, Keelie. I can still picture the moment to this day. This little 3 year old standing at the sliding glass door, hands flat to the glass, in her pull-up diaper, screaming about daddy hanging out with someone other than daddy’s girl. This was not the first introduction I had hoped for. Later, we were able to spend time together on the playground at the nearby park. It took her about 4 months to accept me as one of the family and not to scream at the top of her lungs as we introduced each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, “HE IS NOT YOUR BOYFRIEND!!!” We were married 21 months later on April 25th, 2015.

In November of the same year we were married, we were blessed to realize we would be expecting a new bundle of joy!! And so the pregnancy journey began….learning all I could about each stage of pregnancy and being thankful for very minimal morning sickness. We started our care at a local OB-GYN office but upon realizing we could not have a water birth in the hospital, we decided to look into other options. Halfway through our pregnancy, my husband and I had a consultation at Brookhaven Birthing Center and spent 2 1/2 hours visiting with the midwife and midwife apprentice. They were so warm and welcoming as they encouraged us to ask any questions we may have. Being new to the idea of the birthing center, I had plenty of questions and they were gracious to answer. We walked away from our visit with a sense of peace, knowing this is where we would share our pregnancy journey in anticipation of the calming labor environment Brookhaven has to offer. Part of the education on the stages of pregnancy included making the decision to have an un-medicated natural labor process. We made this decision for many reasons but the main reason was to decrease the amount of stress our little one was exposed to as she entered the world.

I was able to go through my entire pregnancy with two friends who were expecting a month before me and a month after me. It was so wonderful to have two people to relate to during some of the more difficult “huge” days. In preparation for Arielle’s arrival, I enjoyed sewing some burp clothes and pacifier clips for her and one of my expectant friends. I planned to work up until I went into labor and did just that. July 28th was my last midwife appointment in the middle of, unbeknownst to me, my last work day. My grandparents had just arrived in town from Ohio to be present for the big arrival. I returned home later that evening and climbed in bed around 11:30 pm only to wake up at 1 am to my water breaking. Since I was still half asleep, it took me awhile to figure out if it was really my water (fingers crossed) or if I was wetting the bed! Could this be the moment I have been anticipating so intently for the last 40 weeks but especially the 10 days past my due date!!? Sure enough it was my water breaking! I texted Misty to let her know my progress and that I were resting until contractions began. I managed to find my dog’s pee pads so I could lie back down to get some sleep. Around 5 am I started with light period cramps so we grabbed our birthing bag, took our last picture as a family of 3 with my baby bump and headed over to my in-laws to drop off Keelie before heading down to Harrisonburg to be closer to Brookhaven. I labored at my parent’s house until around 3:00 pm until contractions seemed to be less than 5 minutes apart and then headed over to Brookhaven.

Upon arriving to Brookhaven, we realized I was not the only one in labor. We would be sharing labor joys with another expectant mother and father! As we settled into the Willow room, contractions seemed to be minimal and slow down. Blake and I even felt we had prematurely arrived to the birthing center because clearly our neighbors were much more advanced in labor than I. We decided to go on a walk up and down the nearby office’s steps for about 30 minutes and came back inside without increase of contractions. Since my water had broken almost 16 hours prior, Misty recommended trying to pump to see if it helped to advance things. I sat down to start pumping not feeling any different than I had when arrived. After 2 minutes of pumping, my contractions hit all of a sudden and I was 8 cm dilated. As my body reacted the way it was suppose to by assisting in pushing her out, I made my way to the partially filled tub. At this point it was 5:30 pm and Misty had two mothers in active labor. She called for backup so we would have plenty of people to assist in case she needed to be in two places at once. Blake felt welcome to climb in the tub with me so he could catch her when the time came. He helped by supporting me during the strong contractions. With every contraction it seemed so close to the end, just praying she would pop right out. As I struggled through contraction after contraction, I became very tired and Savannah brought me a spoonful of honey to help give me energy. Luckily at 7:29 pm on 7/29/16 out came Miss Arielle Michele Foltz! Blake caught her like a football as Misty helped her out of the water and laid her on my chest. She was crying as soon as she hit the air and all the emotions came over me as I had imagining they would! She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and my little glimpse of Heaven! She was a small petite thing and Misty had estimated she was in the 6 lb range. I was assisted out of the tub while I continued to hold our little blessing. We had decided on delayed cord clamping so she could receive all the blood from the placenta to help her start out on the right foot.

We were able to hold Arielle for around 4 hours before any evaluations were done. Savannah, our midwife apprentice, weighed and measured Arielle as we checked out every inch of this tiny being. All of this was done on our bed and she was never taken out of our room. Blake even got to lift up the hanging scale with Arielle inside of the fabric hammock. She weighed 6 lbs 4 oz and was 20 3/4 inches long. She did not have to receive any shots or injections after being born since we opted to use the Vitamin K drops. We also opt-out of the antibiotics being placed in her eyes since she was born at the birthing center. That’s what I liked a lot about working with Brookhaven in comparison to a hospital birth, I was given options with our care. We were educated on the entire process to make informed decisions. If we wanted to opt-out of something, we could. We were able to develop relationships with the staff instead of feeling like a number. Every employee knew our names by day 1 and treated our concerns or questions as topics of discussion and helped us feel like one of the family.

Learning to breastfeed was an adjustment especially since I needed to use a nipple shield. EVERYTHING with pregnancy, labor and motherhood involves determination and motivation to succeed along with a little prayer multiple times a day! I want to encourage other mothers, that even though it can be difficult with nursing at times, if you have set a goal, are motivated and medically able to breastfeed, don’t talk yourself out of giving your baby the nutritional benefits of your personal breast milk. I struggled with nursing for 9 1/2 weeks before some of the pain let up. I was crying with every feeding but still determined not to give up.

Due to all the pain I had experienced over maternity leave, I didn’t have much of a supply for returning back to work. I was trying to avoid dealing with the confronting issue until a breastfeeding angel of a friend called me up and asked, “Do you want 800 oz of breast milk? I have a trustworthy friend trying to empty her freezer for the holidays.” I took this as my answer to prayer! A few months later, I ran into a new mother in Cracker Barrel eating at the table beside us. We had the usual conversations asking about her new little one and in conversation realized she has an over abundance of milk she donates to the milk bank at the hospital for the NICU babies. She asked if I was in need of milk and said she would save some for me in addition to her milk bank donations. Knowing that she had to go through the proper testing on her milk to be able to donate to the NICU, I said I would keep her in mind. I have since received around 600 oz from her as well. I am amazed at how giving other mothers are  and didn’t realize the connections and friendships I would make through motherhood.

Arielle is the happiest baby I have ever seen and she is very laid back. It is such a joy to see her grow and develop day to day.  Watching her grow baby teeth, learn to scoot, pull herself up to a standing position, and soon she will be walking, all before she turns 9 months!