My name is Dawn, and I was raised in Plymouth, WI where I currently live. I entered the local technical college at age 24 to further my education, of course thinking I knew what I finally wanted to be when I grew up, as I worked at a local pub that was in dire need of an office manager. As I was going to school, I met my husband and we married soon after. We didn’t waste any time and had our first daughter a year and a half after that.
My mom had hospital births with all of her children, but by the time I was thinking about having children she had already passed. I never got to find out what kind of experience she had. I had a hospital birth with my first. My husband and I went to the child birth classes offered at our hospital. My EDD was in March, and because of inclement weather the class was rescheduled a number of times. We had been able to attend only one-half of the class before I went into labor. The part we missed—pain management; we actually ended up giving birth during the last class.
Grace’s Birth I started light contractions the Friday night before G’s birth, and they continued into Saturday. We went about our normal schedule. My husband even went snowmobiling for awhile as I tried to do homework. Saturday night when we got home I was suffering from a major headache, so my husband had me call the on-call doctor. She suggested that I go into the hospital to check my blood sugar to rule out gestational diabetes. I had 3 liters of fluid put in me through an IV. However, they sent us home since I was not very dilated and my headache was gone. We were home some time after midnight and my husband, who had to shoot trap the next morning, went to bed and was immediately snoring. I lay down by the fire for awhile and remember thinking that I better get up and go to the bathroom before I couldn’t make it since I had gotten all that fluid. I got up and felt a pop inside and a gush. I went into the bathroom to see if it was what I expected, and there were blood flecks in my underwear. I woke up sleeping beauty, called the hospital, and we were on our way back to the hospital. This time we were there indefinitely. Upon admittance, I was checked by a nurse-in-training. I felt she did not know what she was feeling or looking for. Every time I was checked I was so uncomfortable and it was painful. I had an IV, epidural, episiotomy, constant fetal monitoring my bag of waters ruptured by the doctor and probably pitocin. I slept most of the time after I was given the epidural only waking momentarily when someone came into the room but even then I was discombobulated. The doctor arrived sometime in the evening and the staff set everything up for me to start pushing. I never felt the urge to push. In fact, I was still unable to feel anything with the epidural so the doctor had to watch the fetal monitor to see if I was having a contraction. I pushed for about an hour and finally G was born. They whisked her away to the table to do whatever they do over there. The nurses had to cover me with warm blankets after birth, because I was shaking uncontrollably and it wasn’t because I was cold. The nurse bathed the baby and then they gave her to me to try to breastfeed. I just remember thinking that I can’t take care of this baby. I felt so groggy and out of my head from the epidural that I was overwhelmed with having to care for this little bundle whom I should have been overjoyed to be holding but wasn’t. The nurses tried to help me learn how to get the baby to latch, but I felt that each one had her own agenda on teaching based on her own experience or whatever they learned in a text book. I was thoroughly confused. After all the visitors and nights crying (me and baby) in the hospital, I couldn’t wait to get home. Being at home felt better but I was still aggravated over my birth experience and wasn’t sure if I actually had a good one or a terrible one. I didn’t figure this out until I had my second daughter.
Homebirth in the Forecast We got pregnant again around Christmas. I hadn’t thought about the birth process until I was about 6 months along. I surely wanted a different outcome than that of my first daughter’s birth. I started looking up birthing positions, but then I got the bright idea to Google midwives for my area. I think I might have found two, but only one had a website. I jumped on the website and started looking at pictures and reading birth stories. I read every inch of that website. I figured if I was going to bring this idea of having a homebirth to my husband, I was going to need to know my facts. I called the midwife that instant to even find out if she could take me as a client. She said she could, and I was just so ecstatic I was jumping out of my skin. I didn’t want to show my excitement, however, since I hadn’t even talked it over with the hubby. I went to him with the idea and I can’t say for sure if he said it was a bad idea but I knew he was nervous about it as most men are since they think about the “what if” factor. We met with Jan Wolfenberg, CPM, and his mind was put at ease after an hour long conversation about what will go on. YAY, I was having a homebirth!
Madelyn’s Birth My EDD was October 2 and time was closing in and I was quite exhausted from pregnancy and running after my 2 year old. Friday morning I was working at the technical college and trying to book a massage for that evening. Grace’s babysitter had told me her daughter-in-law works at the spa near Plymouth and she did that for all three of her kids when trying to bring labor on. I was able to make it in for a massage around 7p.m. Afterwards I was very relaxed and sleepy. I woke earlier than usual that morning with slight cramps in my belly. I went to the living room to see if the feeling would go away when I sat up. The feeling was a slight discomfort but noticeable. It was not going away so I decided that I better get up and get stuff done. Once the rest of the household awoke, I called my sister to have her come help me set up the rest of the bedroom where I would be birthing my baby. My husband took our two year old shopping while my sister and I worked on cleaning up and getting things ready. I called my folks to tell them that I would be having a baby today and to see if they could take Grace. The morning went by pretty easily since I stayed busy; by the time my husband got home from dropping G off labor started to intensify. Our friend came over around 2 p.m. and we started walking up and down our road to try to get things going. As we did, contractions got closer together. We stopped to talk to the neighbor and let him know what was going on. It was not the nicest day but when we were walking it was sort of sunny but cool. We went walking back up to the house. Shortly after that, Jan pulled into the driveway. Then Pam, Jan’s assistant. I had to stop at our truck to have a contraction as we decided to go back into the house. We all went into the house, and Jan and Pam started setting up the tub and getting things ready. I guess my husband had nervous energy to burn off because he was making cookies. I just kind of walked around waiting for the next contraction to come. I tried sitting on the exercise ball but that was not working. Then I tried to put my elbows on it and let my belly hang down. That wasn’t working either. Finally, I just sat on the floor and waited. After everyone settled in, we chilled out in the living room. As soon as the water was ready, I went into the tub. Oh, what a great feeling! Floating during every contraction definitely helped. Jan came in and lit some candles and I had some music playing. My sister-in-law came in for a while and we talked. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom so someone helped me out of the tub. I was hoping I would be able to hurry up and go to the bathroom before I had another contraction but that didn’t happen. Having a contraction on the toilet by yourself isn’t a glamorous thing. After that, I laid in bed awhile since I was pretty warm from the tub. My contractions were getting worse so Jan pushed on my lower back to try to relieve some of the pressure and she showed my husband where to push. He didn’t do it just right. Everything was started to annoy me—my husband, the music, any position that I was in. Jan checked me and I think I was at 9-1/2 cm. I got back in the tub and shortly after that my contractions were horrible. So bad that I could feel myself cinch up but I knew that if I did that I would be making the pain worse. I called for my husband to come to support me. My body started pushing. After the first couple of pushes, my water broke. Jan must have been able to tell by my vocals because they checked for the head and the baby’s vitals. After that, I dreaded each wave that came over me. The feeling of nausea came over me with each push. I felt the head come out, almost like a pop, and Jan and Pam came to the tub to time and check the baby and do what it is that they do so well. Once the head was out, Jan was there to hook her finger under the baby’s armpit to guide her out. I didn’t feel like I had pushed all that long, and before I knew it she was born. A feeling of relief came over me. I was holding this little baby who was covered in white sticky, slimy stuff and she was screaming but she was mine and I don’t think I could have done it any better.
I was still in the tub holding Madelyn (we weren’t sure of her name at that time) while Jan worked on helping me birth the placenta. After pushing the baby out, I felt so weak and I almost felt like I wouldn’t be able to get it out. Of course it came out and my husband cut the cord. I got out of the tub, dried off, and got dressed while Jan and Pam did their assessments. I crawled into bed to try to breastfeeding Madelyn but it seemed like she was sleepy, as I was. They took her out to show our guests and I slept awhile. Then they came back in because they needed to check me and make sure I drank and peed. I needed stitches also. Once all that was done, I tried to nurse Madelyn again but she was so sleepy. She slept until the morning and even though I was so tired, I could hardly sleep. I was so excited to watch my baby sleep and make her little noises. I was in love.
And All That Just To Tell You This After four years of taking college courses, I graduated with a Technical Certificate for Office Assistant and an Associate’s Degree for Administrative Assistant. This is what I thought I was going to be when I grew up. Well, little did I know that I would capture such a passion for natural birthing by going through my experiences with each of my daughters.