When I got to meet up with Sarah and her beautiful kiddos in person, I knew immediately that there was something familiar about her. Apparently she felt it too, and took way less time to figure out where we knew eachother from! Turns out, we went to grade school together! Small world when you find out someone you lost touch with ages ago is now also passionate about the same things you are! Was awesome to reconnect, and I hope our paths cross again soon. Sarah's stories are beautiful and so full of love, but also loss. I am so grateful to her for sharing all of her stories. I hope it helps other moms who have experienced something similar know that they are not alone... (**Trigger warning**)
Who are you? What do you do for a living? How many kids do you have? Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Sarah. I'm an at home mom to three beautiful, busy kids(7, 5 and 3), a doula (lately on a very limited basis - sisters only ;)), and at home day care provider. I love crocheting, singing, hearing birth stories and sharing mine!
How did you come to know that midwifery care was an option to you and your family?
Ironically, from an OB. When I became pregnant with my first, I was working as a nanny for an OB in Winnipeg. I told her as soon as I learned I was pregnant so she'd have lots of time to replace me. I was clueless as to what my next steps for care were. Her first question to me was "well, first of all, do you want an OB or a midwife?", I honestly had never thought about it but as soon as I knew it was an option it was a no-brainer for me and I immediately answered "a midwife". She actually took care of my intake call for me. I was rejected by the Winnipeg group because I lived out of town but I was accepted by the Hanover midwives!
How far into your pregnancy did you apply for care?
For my first I was close to 5 weeks when my boss at the time inquired for me. After being accepted that time I learned how hard it actually is to be accepted... For each pregnancy after that, I called as soon as I saw the "+", intake at the midwifery office literally knew about each pregnancy before my husband did.
When did you find out you were accepted into care?
I always found out a few weeks after I applied, and I was over the moon every time.
Are you willing to share your birth story/stories with us? We would love to hear them!
Willing? Like I said - if I could only talk about this all day without seeming crazy, I would. Lol.
Baby 1 - With my first baby, the night before labour started, I had the urge to read through and study again the book my midwife had given me on stages of labour. Being familiar with what feelings I might be feeling, what parts might be most overwhelming, etc made it less scary for me. (Later when I had the thought "this is too much, I don't know how much longer I can do this", my next thought was "oh! I bet I'm in transition! I'm almost done!"... Labour is a mind game lol). I have a notebook full of chicken scratch time keeping from that night as I'd wake with contractions and write down the time half asleep then doze off again. When I woke in the morning with my husband, I made him a lunch and sent him off to work saying to keep his phone on but that probably it wasn't it(I was 38wks, first babies NEVER come early). At 8:30 I called my midwife (didn't want to wake her too early), and said I was wondering if this was it. She said if I was wondering then probably not. I just had a feeling though like I'd like to be checked just in case and she said she'd meet me at Bethesda where I had chosen to deliver. I drove myself there at 10am, after finishing my laundry load. The intake at the hospital thought I was crazy when I said I drove myself there because I didn't want my husband to miss work if I was wrong. I laughed at them as they offered me a wheelchair to the labour floor and up we walked. Turned out I was 5-6cm! I asked "so... I'm having a baby today?... I should probably call my husband". I laboured in my beautiful, peaceful room for a while in slow-dance position with my husband(after attending a birth at the birth center I realized Bethesda labour floor is so similar in design and in how the staff treat you!). At one point things were feeling very intense and I decided to try the tub, I went from 7-10 very quickly because of how well it relaxed me. We walked back to my room and my midwife had me try pushing on the toilet for practice. It worked so well for me that we stayed there until baby was crowning. I reached down and touched the head and couldn't believe how close we were to meeting this baby! We walked over to my bed where I delivered on hands and knees. Grace Elisabeth was born at 2:03pm, and weighed 6lb10oz. She required some suction at birth but was brought back to me asap and we were given space, encouragement and patience as we figured out breastfeeding. Overall it was the best experience of my life. Empowering and full of joy and peace. When I described my experience to other women I was met with disbelief (which is why I became a doula, I wanted more women to have an experience like mine!)
Baby 2 - My second baby was born on his due date. I rolled over in bed around 1:40am, heard a *pop* and my bed was wet. I silently left the bed to go to the washroom just in case I had just peed lol. (My husband later told me he rolled over and his knee touched the puddle I left and he sat there silently waiting for me to say something just in case I had peed and not had my water break). I called my midwife and she said that since contractions hadn't started I should go back to sleep and try to rest until they do. I hung up and immediately got a big one! I called her back and said I think I should come soon. So I put my sheets in the washing machine, while my husband called who would be staying with our first born, and then we headed to Bethesda. I slow danced through my contractions, singing and chatting with my husband and midwife. In a very short time I had the urge to push and asked my midwife "that's impossible right? I haven't been labouring long enough" she said it was possible, but I wanted her to check me to be sure and I was 10! As the urge grew I pushed... And pushed... And pushed... And three hours later he had barely moved past the point I had him at almost immediately when pushing started. My midwife calmly and quietly spoke to me about how his heart rate was seeming to struggle a bit, and our options were to keep trying what we were doing or call the Dr on call to try the vaccuum. I felt no pressure and completely in control and felt like it was time to call the Dr. While my midwife stood by my head and explained everything to me, a nurse hopped up on my bed with me and the Dr applied the kiwi to baby. With my next push baby's head was halfway out. With the next push, the nurse pressed down hard on my abdomen to dislodge his shoulder and out popped his head. I pushed him the rest of the way out on my own and Jackson Bradley was born at 7:23am, weighing 8lbs7oz.
Baby 3 - This is a different kind of birth story, but a really important one to me, and an example I think of the different situations a midwife will support you through.
At 16 weeks gestation, I had brown blood when I wiped and immediately knew something was wrong (even though I knew brown blood is the "no worries" kind of blood). I called my midwife and she encouraged me to not worry and just try to rest... But I said I just had a bad feeling and I needed to hear baby's heart beat. Her next words were "ok, come when you can". I packed up my other two and off we went to meet her. She couldn't find a heart beat. After that we went together to the ER at Bethesda for an emergency ultrasound... Those machines are terribly inaccurate and the Dr wasn't even able to say for sure what was the baby... So I went home and waited for monday, when my actual ultrasound would be. My midwifery team was so supportive, calling to check and me over the weekend and open to calls any time. At my ultrasound Monday we learned that our baby had died. My midwife explained to me all of my options for ending the pregnancy, and my choice was to wait. I wanted to keep the baby with me until my body was ready to let go, and labour was an important part of the process for me. It took a month for my body to start the process of letting go, and that month was such an important time of grieving for me. My water broke while I was at a playdate with my kids, we packed into the car and headed back to my parents home where I planned to labour. I laboured in the kitchen with my mom and sister, and then I felt the need to be in the shower so I headed up there. That's where my tiny, sweet Aurora was born. She fit perfectly in the palm of my hand. Perfect, tiny fingers with perfect little nail beds. Sweet little lips puckered open. Tiny little ears and nose. A shockingly strong, threadlike umbilical cord. I held her and had time to say goodbye. The members of my family who wanted to see her were able to. When she was born I called my midwife to come. My bleeding didn't start until after she was born and lasted about a week. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to hold my baby before letting her go. For me, labour was an important end to this pregnancy. I'm not sure if I would have been given a month of patience with no pressure to change my birth plan outside of midwifery care.
Baby 4 - My fourth birth story starts with many nights of annoying contractions waking me up at night but never progressing into anything beyond a sleepless night. Then one morning they didn't stop. When my husband woke up, I again said I'd feel silly keeping him home if this turned out to be nothing like the nights previous. He watched a few contractions and then said "ah, I could do with a day off anyway, so if it's not baby day it's no big deal". About an hour later he said he thought we should call the person who was staying with our two older children and then went to pick her up. By the time he got back with her I was sure I was ready to go see my midwife. When I arrived I was still able to talk and joke through contractions and my midwife warned me it might be a while still, then the midwife who had been with me at my second birth said "no, she's like this right up to push time", and encouraged me about how much she enjoyed attending that birth. I was 6cm! We stopped for food on the way to Bethesda and by the time we arrived, I was SO GLAD I didn't have to sit down anymore. When we got up to my room I went straight into the shower and laboured there with my husband just outside the curtain joking and chatting and singing with me. I was most vocal during this labour, and it was mostly laughing. There came a point when the shower felt good but I NEEDED to be out of there. I had one regular contraction when I got out and with the next I was pushing. I decided I wanted to push standing, and my midwife was ok with that (another plus, a midwife lets you choose how and where the baby comes :)) After the first push the midwifery student who was attending, said to my midwife "wow, the baby is right there", "ok, I'm almost ready" she replied, and the student said "no, like RIGHT there". With the next push her head was out, en caul. One more push and Ivory Cadence was born at 1:22pm, weighing 5lbs14oz at exactly 38 weeks, just like her sister.
What, in your opinion, was the most important part about the care you received?
Respect. In each pregnancy and birth, I was treated like an intelligent, capable woman who could be trusted to make informed choices for my body and baby.
Would/do you recommend midwifery care to family and friends who are expecting? If so, why? If not, why not?
Always!! I tell every woman before they're pregnant to call and get on the waiting list for a midwife as soon as they get their "+", if they change their mind later they can always get an OB later, but it's not so easy to change your mind in the opposite direction.
Finally, who were your midwives? Do you have a message you would like to send them?
For my first birth my primary and birth attender was Carol Irvine. For my second, my primary was Miriam Brown and my birth attender was Veronica Reimer. For my third my primary was Miriam. For my fourth my primary and birth attender was Miriam Brown.
I feel like I'm a broken record because my message to them is "thank you thank you thank you!" I was given four incredibly empowering and beautiful birth experiences. They were all gifts to me that I'm forever grateful for.
**If you are looking for ways to help, you can sign the petition supporting our Midwives and Midwifery care in Manitoba. It can be found HERE.
***If you would like to be a part of this series, please email me at [email protected] . I would love to share your story!