Thursday, November 12, 2009

Butter Births

Many things have happened since I last blogged. Some good, some exhausting. All were learning experiences. This week I had a delightful birth that was simply a breath of fresh air. Mom called me around 5p to let me know that she was having contractions and would be calling later for me to come over. So, I hung out around the house and waited for her call. Finally, around 11:30p momma called and said she was ready. When I arrived at the house I was greeted by a very nervous papa at the door. As I entered the room I saw the momma leaned over the birth pool with the babies head already crowning. I sat my bags down, put on gloves and reached over just in time to catch the baby as it slid out gently. I handed momma the baby and she sat down in the pool to let him enjoy the warmth of the water. She and the baby sat in the pool for about an hour after the birth of her placenta. The baby floated peacefully in the water while momma supported his head. I sat quietly at the side of the pool and observed the serenity of that moment.These delightfully simple births remind me of why I continue to do this job. Welcome baby Matthew, 10lbs. 5 oz.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Little midwife in training

Here is a super cute video of Lily learning to be a midwife.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Autumn's Birth

I know it has been a few months since I last posted. Frankly, I need some time to rest and process. The journey with Autumn was more than another birth. It was a time of great change for both of us. I have spent the last few months pondering what I was going to write about this birth,wondering how I could possibly put it all into words. Even today, as I sit here and begin typing I am still uncertain exactly how to express the appreciation I have in my heart for Autumn and her baby.
When Autumn wrote me last spring and told me she was pregnant, I just knew she should come here. I never had a doubt that it was the right thing to do. After speaking with her mom, I was even more certain that this was a journey that we must share. After all she is my "sisters" child. Who better to take care of her than I?
The first few weeks were quite a challenge. We had to find space for her in the house, integrate her into our routines, show her were everything is, and learn to accept that she was going to be here for a few months. Many tears were shed over missing friends and family and a few fights were had between her and the kids. One night she came into my room and asked me if she was a burden on our family. I had to answer honestly so I said, "of course you are a bit of a burden. You are a new person with needs for space and attention. You are in our space 24 hours a day. We have to have time to adjust and get to know you in a different way. But, we aren't going to give up on you, if you promise that you won't give up on us." It was then that we made a pact that we weren't going to give up. After tears and hugs, we went on knowing that there was no turning back.
As time grew closer to the day we would see the baby, we all became very excited. We started gathering our supplies and preparing the family for what was expected of them during the birth. Her mom, Renee, came up to help with the preparations and planned to stay through the birth. We had one false alarm....and then we waited and waited and waited. Three weeks past and still no sign of the baby. I spent a lot of time talking with Autumn about her fears and becoming a mother. We got down to the very core of her feelings, the fear, the excitement, the anger. And after it was all out she finally started laboring.
Autumn awakened with contractions early in the morning. When the children got up that morning they came up and told me that Autumn was in labor and I should come down and see her. I came downstairs to what appeared to be active labor. Her contractions were about 4 minutes apart at that time.
She labored all through the day and into the evening. We kept ourselves busy preparing the environment exactly how she envisioned it. We lit a fire in the fireplace, put on our tye dyed tshirts, we even had a mix of Janis Joplin, the grateful dead and Jimmy Hendrix playing in the back ground. We waited and watched and massaged her into the late hours of the night. Finally, we decided we should try to sleep. I knew her cervix was dilating and the baby was fine. I thought she needed some sleep...we all needed some sleep. I awoke every few hours to check on her. Sometimes she would be sleeping, sometimes she would be up moving and moaning. I would check heart tones and go back to bed. When I got up at 8am the next morning I went down to check on her. She had regressed a couple of centimeters while she was sleeping so I urged her to get up and moving around around. My son Josh (who is 15) decided he should stay home and help us in any way he could. All of the children were concerned about her. The girls worried that the baby wasn't going to be able to come out and the boys worried we didn't have enough hands to cook and clean and carry firewood. My husband Jesse called and text me every 30 minutes wondering how we all were. Finally, he came home with lunch and to lend energy. Around 2pm, I started to feel worried, myself.I checked her dilation and she was fully dilated at 11am, what was keeping her from feeling the urge to push? I wondered what I was doing wrong, why her labor was carrying on and on. I had imagined this going differently than it was. I leaned on Jesse and asked him to comfort me and pray for us. It felt so good to wrap my arms around his caring shoulders and sob. I wish he could be there for every birth to lend me strength. He said that he believed in me and that I was doing a great job. He reminded me that this was Autumn's journey and that the baby would come when she was ready. I knew it was the truth but, I also knew there was something that needed to be done. So, Renee and I left Autumn to labor for a moment while we went out to have a talk. I expressed my concern with allowing Autumn to labor another night and asked her how she felt. She knew too that this had carried on long enough and that it was time to really start encouraging Autumn to let her baby come out. Suddenly, a light bulb came on! She needed to get pissed off! I should have thought of it before! I knew her well enough to know that Autumn had to be really pissed off to get determined. Now that we had our plan, Renee went back in vowing that this baby would make an appearance very soon. I needed a break so I went in and started catching up on paper work. As, I sat in the living room I heard something that I had never heard at a birth before. Renee and Camille (the doula) were in the living room chanting "come on Autumn don't give up! feel your baby coming out! let your baby out Autumn! come on push your baby out!" Autumn would whine a little and say, "I can't I am too tired, I just want to rest." to that they would reply, "no more resting! or you can rest with your baby in your arms! Now push your baby out Autumn!"
I wasn't too sure about this method at first but, I began to notice a change in Autumn's attitude. It was almost like she transformed from a girl into a woman right in front of our eyes. She began taking charge of her body, telling us what she was feeling. She would place her fingers in her yoni and tell us where the baby was and how things were changing. She demanded that we place our hands on her back or told us bluntly how we could help her. She changed positions frequently and insisted she be upright when she pushed. I was so proud of her! She pushed and pushed until finally I could see the head. I reached down to feel and said to her, "Autumn here comes your baby! catch your baby Autumn!" She looked bewildered for a moment as her baby slid past my hands and into hers. She gently pulled the baby up to her chest as we all looked on in amazement that she was FINALLY here. The baby was calm and alert a perfect ten!
My whole family was in the dining room waiting reverently and prayerfully to hear the announcement. Camille opened the french doors and and happily waved the children in to come see the new baby. The mood was heavy, but ecstatic,all at the same time, as everyone filed in to see this new being. It was the first time that my family got to see me "be" a midwife,I was so happy to have shared this moment with them. Mostly, I am grateful to Autumn and Renee for allowing me to be their mother, sister, friend and midwife through this difficult and joyous journey. I will be forever in their debt! Welcome Nevaeh Renee (Jerry Gracia) Chaney! We love you beautiful baby!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Belly casting

We have had a young Mama staying with us for a couple of months now. She is due tomorrow! I am very much looking forward to her birth. Not just because I will be happy to have normalcy back but, also because I feel strongly that she is going to have an amazing birth.
I have known Autumn since she was about 9 years old. I met her and her mother at a Rainbow gathering in Arkansas in 1999. Who knew that we would have this karma together? Anyhow, she wrote me several moths back announcing that she was pregnant. I was scared for her but, excited none the less. Then she started to write me letters expressing how she wanted me to be with her during her birth and wished there was some way to make it happen. She lives about 3 hours south of us and we couldn't see that it would work for me to travel that far for her prenatal visits etc. After much thought we decided that she should come stay with us until she had the baby. She arrived here in mid August, plump, scared and excited to be a Mom. Since then we have had many trials. I have had to be mother, midwife and friend. Some days have been better than others...but, in those first few weeks we made a vow to each other that neither of us would give up. That we were in this till the end! I think both of us have grown tremendously and it would dishonest of me to say that I won't miss her when she's gone home with baby in tow.
Renee (Autumn's mother) arrived 2 weeks ago to help with the final preparations for the birth and to help me out a bit. It has been much easier with her around because now I can have some help with the mothering part. One of the things we did was a belly casting. It was my first one! It was great fun and I think we did a marvelous job. toot toot...

Autumn wants us all to wear tie dyed t shirts to her birth. So, we have decided to paint the casting like a tie dyed t shirt and in the middle we will put a placenta print. We think it's gonna be cool.I will post with the pics of that when we get done.

We have taken a ton of pics to document this journey with her and I so, I will definitely be posting some more pics in the days and weeks to come.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I am so sorry that I have been out of the loop for a while. Things have been very very busy here. I had a beautiful birth a month ago, that was also a bit of a surprise. The mama had called me several months ago. She was seeing a CNM at one of the local hospitals. But, wasn't happy with birthing in a hospital nor was she happy with the treatment she was being given. So, she was exploring other options. We met and talked until midnight one evening. But, after that I didn't hear from her for a couple of months. I knew she was getting close and thought of her often as we slipped into mid august. I wondered if she had the baby and if everything was good. Finally, about 2 weeks before her due date I got a call from her. She was asking if I would still attend her birth even on such short notice. You know me....I said "of course I will". About a week later I got a call in the morning saying her water had broke. I made all of my arrangements and waited for her to begin active labor. When I arrived mama was happy and glowing. I was so pleased and honored to called to this birth and felt humbled by how beautiful she was. We all decided to spend some time outside while it was still cool so, we sat and talked and ate fruit for awhile. Mama was having back labor so we would massage her back during contractions. Finally, I suggested she get in her tub for awhile to relieve some of her aching. While she sat in the tub she told me stories of amazing experiences in her life with shaman and with healing. She used many different stones and crystals in her bath, I watched in amazement. She seemed so calm and relaxed. After about an hour she got out of the tub and labored in her room. By that time mom in law arrived and we began to lay our hands on mama's belly during contractions. We would breath with her and visualize the baby birthing soon. Finally, around dinner time she began to push. First in a squat and then to hands and knees. She eased the baby out slowly into her hands and then I helped catch him in the end. It was peaceful and perfect as everything was supposed to be. All praises to the creator for another gentle birth! Welcome to Vox born 8lbs. 3oz. and perfect in every way.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finding a way

I often encourage my mamas to write out their birth story before their birth. I want to hear their dream and I want to dream the same dream with them. I believe that together we can make that dream come true. It really does work if you believe in it.

I practice this magic in my own life as well. I strongly believe that I create my own reality. If I think it and put love into something it will happen. I have seen this occur in my life over and over. I have dreamed many big dreams and I have seen those dreams manifest into reality.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my dream for this path I have chosen. Where I want to go with my life and who I want to share this amazing gift with. It makes me think of myself as a young woman giving birth to my first son alone in a hospital. I was scared to death! I was embarking on a journey that was filled with unknowns. As this journey is as well. But, yet I continue with my head held high and courage in my heart knowing that one day I would find focus and things would fall into place. Today, I feel as if the clouds have parted and I can see clear as day where I am headed. What lies before me is karma. It is a road that I have walked for 34 years. It is the road of a warrior (yes, we women can be warriors too). It is the same path so many women walk everyday. Only, now I will walk with pride, head held high, stomach relaxed :) and a very loud voice that says, " I am a poor woman, that came from a working class family, that came from a long line of working class families and I have the right to live, love, reproduce and access the same loving care that the rich can access."

I believe that every woman has the right to be empowered during birth. Every woman should feel that they can afford kind, loving, gentle care from a midwife. I want to empower the poor, the gypsies, the teenage mothers. I want to go to rainbow gatherings and welcome babies in tents and teepee's. I don't want to be tied down to money, to making a living, to the word professional.

So, I am paving the way. I am creating a life that makes it possible for me to do what I love. To feel free to help my sisters without the pressing need to make money so that I can pay my bills and feed my family. Things are happening that lead me to believe that this is the right path for me. All arrows are pointing this way....and my heart says let's go!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A first for me

Our local birth center shut down and left many mamas displaced and in need of care. Dove was one of those ladies. I think that it was simply fate that we were thrust together at the end of her pregnancy. We have become good friends in the short time we have known one another and I am glad to have met this wonderful family.

Dove called me at 7:30am on friday morning very excited that she had started having contractions. So, I started to prepare my day for a birth. I got to Doves house around 10:30am and Dove was laboring beautifully. She asked me to check her dilation and she was at 2cm. So, I hung out for awhile and chatted with her, Reuben and her friend (who had come from California to be a part of the birth). I stayed for a couple of hours but there wasn't much change so, I decided to go home for awhile. At around 3:30pm I went back over to check on them and again there was little progress, so I went back home knowing I would be called in the wee hours. I was right...I got a call around 1:30am from Reuben asking that I come over because things were getting more intense and Dove wanted me to be there. When I arrived I could see that her contractions were much stronger and I thought that I should just stay at this point. I called Camille and Mona to come over and we began to get things prepared for the birth. We waited and talked and tried to sleep as Dove's contraction got stronger and longer and closer together. Progress was slow but, I knew that this baby would come if we just gave him time.
Finally, at 7am Reuben woke me saying that Dove needed me. When I came in the room she was crying and saying that she couldn't do it anymore, she was begging me to help. I checked for dilation and found her completely dilated and the baby had moved down. So, I said it's time to give birth to your baby. You can push him out. She pushed and pushed with very little progress but, baby was doing well. So, we got her on hands and knees. She pushed and pushed until finally her water broke, then she pushed some more and out came the head. I could see that his face was bruised and swollen from the descent. She pushed again and at that point I could tell he was stuck. I had her do the Gaskin maneuver still nothing, I reached my hands in and tried to corkscrew him out still nothing, I took a deep breath and tried again this time saying "you will come out baby!" And out popped his posterior shoulder then his whole body! What a relief. He was limp and pale so I handed him to Dove and told her that he needed her to call him here. She began to rub him and call his name. Soon he opened his eyes and started to pink up. I was so relieved that I nearly fell on the floor and cried. Maintaining my composure I thanked him for coming here to be with us. Welcome sweet baby boy. Sidney Just Free, born on April 12 at 8:35am, 7lbs. 8oz.

I have to admit that for a moment I was afraid. For just a second I wondered if I could do this. But, in the end I felt reaffirmed in my knowledge that I am a midwife and that is what I will always be.