Sarah's Story, Baby Elsie born October 17, 2017
My pregnancy was not planned; in fact, I didn’t even think I could easily get pregnant at 38 years old. I was frightened when I found out. I have been battling anxiety/PTSD issues since 2012 after something traumatic happened to me.
I discovered Sweet Child O’ Mine from the Internet. After reading their reviews and each staff member’s profile, I decided to make an appointment for a tour. The first person my fiancé and I met was Rachel, the front desk assistant. She was beyond sweet and comforting. She confirmed I was in fact pregnant and though I was extremely scared at that moment, she made me feel like it was going to be a positive thing in my life as she congratulated us.
Then we met Kim, the owner/founder. First of all, I have to mention—her voice is seriously the most calming voice I’ve ever heard. It almost felt like a meditation session. She completely calmed me of my fears about my age and my anxiety issues and encouraged me to have the baby naturally despite the fact I had to completely give up the medications I have been taking for years. All while making me feel she had the faith in me to do this.
We took the tour, and this birthing center is absolutely breathtaking! Dim lighting, quiet atmosphere. NOT FREEZING COLD like most doctor’s offices. The birthing suites are beautiful and tranquil.
I was sent home with a notebook filled with important information on all-natural births, vitamins, diet, exercise, etc. They leave NOTHING out! At every visit they’d require that I bring the notebook and go over everything as my pregnancy progressed, and ask me to document a food diary to make sure I was eating properly and getting all my nutrients not just from vitamins, but from my food intake. They stressed how important diet is to pregnancy without being nagging. The way they do this really taught me everything I needed to know about being pregnant and being as healthy as possible for my baby. Each visit was pleasant. They took their time to answer my questions, and I never felt rushed or like I was just a number. They made sure that I got a visit with each midwife in the beginning to ensure I got to know each one as it came closer to my birth date so the midwife helping to deliver your baby isn’t a complete stranger. They also have an online portal, so any time of the day or night that I had a question, I didn’t have to call the office. You just write (as easy as a text basically) and whoever’s on call responds, making things so much more convenient. And if it’s a loaded question, multiple midwives will chime in with answers and suggestions to help.
As it got closer to the end, Areline taught the birthing classes. (She was one of my favorites). She’s also one of the nurses who took my vitals at each visit so I got to know her along my entire journey really well. She’s been a doula for like 30 years and really knows what she’s talking about. Plus, she’s so personable and witty!! The birthing classes are mandatory. Because you’re not having your baby at a hospital (so non-personal) and your SO is usually going to be the “baby catcher,” you must be knowledgeable. There are four classes, about three hours long, twice a month, so you’re not overwhelmed with a TON of information all at once.
You’re taught what to do when you’re in actual labor—and if you forget, you’ve got that notebook you’ve carried around and studied for 9 months! Once your contractions are less than 5 minutes apart, you are supplied an emergency line to contact. And if you have a “quick labor,” they’re equipped to come deliver your baby in your home if you can’t make it to the center!!!
When this happened for me, it was Oct 17, around 2 a.m. Laura picked up the phone. I told her how far apart my contractions were and how long they had been going on. We agreed to meet at the center around 3 a.m. She immediately checked me out to discover I was 4 cm dilated. IT WAS TIME! I had already printed up my birth plan and chosen the suite I wanted, the Garden Suite! My labor was painful, being all-natural, obviously. But Laura was very professional and comforting, all while giving myself and my fiancé and MIL our privacy. She checked on me about once every hour, allowing me to be in labor around my loved ones only for the most part. I personally found comfort staying in the walk-in shower in the birthing suite, squeezing the bar during each contraction while enjoying the hot water on me. Laura told me before I started active labor that the birthing center does not run out of hot water. So I spent literally HOURS in that shower, holding that bar. Then around 8:15 a.m. the contractions got WAY more serious. Laura checked and I was 9 cm dilated. So she filled the birthing tub up. My fiancé and I were both able to be in the tub comfortably as I pushed. Laura was SOOO amazing! There were times where I started to feel scared and she’d just communicate to me with her eyes, reassuring me I can do this! My own music playlist playing from my iPhone through the center’s Bluetooth speakers. My favorite essential oil scent (Satsuma) burned. It was sooo calm. Just Laura, her assistant, my fiancé, his mom, and my best friend were in the room. No one else was in the building! Laura didn’t even wind up giving me the laughing gas, which was on my birth plan. The labor was so calm she felt I didn’t even need it! Once it got to the end, I started to feel anxiety from the pain and the “there’s no backing out now” factor. I was also completely out of energy at this point. Laura took a look and told me exactly how close my daughter’s head was and how much hair she had! This gave me that last boost of energy I desperately needed—during the next contraction, my fiancé delivered our daughter!
After giving birth, I went in for two postpartum checkups. Kim, Laura, Rachel, and Areline were so ecstatic to hold my daughter! At my last postpartum checkup I jokingly asked Kim if I could write them on the online portal until my daughter turns 18 with questions! And she answered “yes, of course.” My baby is three months old, and I’ve written Sweet Child O’ Mine more times in that three months than I did the entire pregnancy! They’re firm believers in breastfeeding and understand just how hard it actually is and have continued to help me throughout it, along with helping me through my baby having colic issues. In addition, they have answered questions about co-sleeping and any other random questions I’ve needed answers to!
These midwives know exactly what they’re talking about and believe in old school, homeopathic ways of pregnancy/childbirth. I had the most beautiful birth experience thanks to Sweet Child O’ Mine and HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend them!
Jessica and Kevin with baby Nola Penelope, 8 pounds 14 ounces
Jessica knew she wanted a natural birth from the moment she discovered her pregnancy. She didn’t think this would be possible if she gave birth in a hospital, and so she began her prenatal care with midwives.
In mid-October of 2010, Jessica took advantage of her labor by baking banana bread and walking around her neighborhood to help keep her mind off of the contractions. As the contractions grew stronger and longer, Jessica enjoyed frequent lower-back massages from her doula and continuously great support from her husband and her midwife. “Kim was very calm and let me move at my own pace while giving great advice,” says Jessica.
Jessica labored in her birth pool for a little while, but chose to push on the birthing stool. “I enjoyed the tub for pain relief, but I didn’t want to deliver in the water and have to make the transition to the bed after,” she explains. While on the birthing stool, Jessica started feeling lots of pressure and it was evident that her baby would be coming soon. She pushed determinedly and everyone cheered her on. Just when Jessica thought she couldn’t push any longer, baby Nola weighing 8 pounds and 14 ounces was born.
“It was the most overwhelming love I’ve ever felt. There’s no feeling in the world like it,” says Jessica as she remembers holding her daughter for the very first time. “[My labor] was better than I could have imagined despite it being so long. I think back on it all of the time and want to tell everyone how amazing it was!”
Shelby and Ryan Welcome Ryan Michael II, 8lbs 10oz
“Walking into a hospital, you are setting yourself up for the doctor’s birth plan, not your own,” says Shelby. And that is why she wanted her second birth experience to be different. When Shelby realized she was pregnant with her second child, she began researching natural childbirth. After reading numerous testimonials on a natural mothering site, she knew she wanted a water birth.
On December 8, 2010 Shelby’s baby was getting ready to come into the world. But there was no panic, no rush, no preparation for a hospital stay. “I wasn’t even at home for the first part of my labor. When I arrived home, I was already 7 centimeters dilated,” she says. During that time, someone took a picture of Shelby laboring on a birthing ball with a big grin, holding up 7 fingers. “I felt so comfortable, being able to do whatever I wanted to do.”
As her labor quickly progressed, Shelby’s physical and emotional feelings grew intense and everyone knew the baby would be here soon. As Shelby labored in the tub, her husband, her midwife Kim, and her birth assistant consistently encouraged her, especially during the “intense pressure” of her baby quickly moving down and out. “I honestly don’t even remember pushing because of how fast he moved down,” Shelby says of her surprisingly quick labor.
When Ryan Michael II, 8 pounds and 10 ounces, came out, Shelby experienced amazing relief. “I was glad it was over and he was in my arms.”
Looking back on her labor and birth, Shelby says it was a great experience and she is very pleased with her choice to waterbirth. “Unless something is medically wrong, I would never go back to the hospital for another birth again.”
Stephanie and Audi Welcome Dallas Connor, 8 lbs
From the moment she found out she was pregnant, Stephanie knew she wanted to birth naturally with a midwife.
After spending hours watching water birth videos on YouTube, Stephanie chose to have a water birth. “It looked so beautiful and natural… Plus, I read that the water was like an aqua-dural for pain relief.” And it was. On August 17 of 2010, as Stephanie focused and breathed her way through contractions, she surrendered herself to labor and let the warm water soothe her. “There was very minimal to no pain from then on,” she claims.
As the labor progressed, Stephanie was able to change positions frequently and let her body “work as it should with very minimal [vaginal] checks.” She was especially pleased that her water was not artificially broken. After 45-minutes of determined pushing, her beautiful 8-pound son, Dallas Conner, was born.
“[I was] totally shocked that it was over! I had my son in my arms and was a mother! I loved him so much!”
Meg and Mike Welcome Malcolm, 6lbs 7oz
Like everyone else I knew, I expected I would have my baby in a hospital. I pictured myself screaming for an epidural by 4 centimeters, and I assumed my baby would be taken away from me right after delivery, to make sure he was safe and given all the proper immunizations.
After all, these are the things I had been taught about birth; babies are born in hospitals because birth is a dangerous thing.
I was so WRONG! After spending the majority of my first and second trimesters avidly reading everything about pregnancy and birth, I realized I had been fooled this whole time. I realized that my body was fully prepared for natural birth and that I could birth in the comfort of my own surroundings, just like all mammals have been doing since the beginning of time. Towards the end of my second trimester, I started preparing myself for a natural birth with a midwife.
I transferred into the care of Kim Verbarg, my Licensed Midwife, at 37 weeks. It was very short notice, but Kim recognized that I was prepared physically and mentally for natural birth, and she provided me with amazing support. Before I was officially a patient, she said, “If you go into labor, call me. I’ll have you sign a consent for midwife care and I’ll help you deliver your baby.” I knew I liked her already.
At 39 weeks, I knew instinctively that my son was ready to meet his momma. On June 18th of 2010, I woke up and began natural induction. I did squats, fast-walked around my neighborhood, and drank a bitter cup of cumin tea. Halfway through the cup of tea, I began having contractions. From there, my labor quickly progressed. Before I knew it, five hours had passed and I was in my birth tub and ready to push, surrounded by warm water and loving encouragement. My husband in the tub with me, I was able to rest in his arms between contractions. I pushed determinedly for an hour, and just when I was about to give up due to exhaustion, I felt the amazing relief of my baby slipping out of me and into the water. I felt so empowered, and as I pulled Malcolm above the water and brought him into my arms for the first time, I knew that water birth was definitely the most beautiful and peaceful way to bring a baby into the world.