“There’s a sacredness in tears.
They aren’t the mark of weakness,
but of power.
They speak more eloquently
than ten thousand tongues.
They’re the messengers of overwhelming grief,
of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
So many good things are happening! As you know, my book is safely in my publisher’s hands. I learned this week he’s started editing it, and the process of hammering out a title and a cover design has begun. And, as though that weren’t enough, I’m all the way over in Michigan, awaiting the arrival of my two newest grandbabies. I’m also waiting for five of my daughter’s clients to give birth, three of whom I’ve already served – collectively – ten priceless times.
While I wait I thought I’d get to work on a blog post or two to share. The first one up is a sweet story written by my client and treasured friend, Amye.
My name is Amye and I am so excited to share with you the birth of our second son. I’m a mom by day, birth doula occasionally, natural family planning instructor, and wife to the love of my life (Jeff). We have two sons, Hunter (2) and Jack (14 months).
When I used to talk about the birth of my first son, I thought it was pretty normal. I had an unmedicated hospital birth with no complications. My nurses were amazing (truly God sends) and the doctor who attended my birth was crabby and lacked bedside manner. Although I had loved my OB for my maternity care, it wasn’t the sort of practice where he attended births of his patients unless he was on-call. I had a rapid labor as a first time mom and a 3rd degree tear as a result. A doctor I had never met before stitched me up (with no epidural). When I complained that I was in pain from the stitching, she commented how women never think about after birth when they do natural births. I truly thought that this was “care,” that this is what you signed up for when you gave birth. I felt I should be grateful since she did a top notch job stitching me up, even if she was rude and crabby.
Midwifery care was different from the start. I switched from an OB to midwifery care halfway through my pregnancy. After a bit of research, I found Kim through google. I somehow found her blog and website. I read some things and decided that if Kim could take me, I would do a homebirth … but only if Kim could take me. I called her and she told me right away that she would be unable to take me as a client due to her son’s wedding. But she kept talking to me, giving me tips for my morning sickness. She was full of wisdom and heart. I felt like I had met a kindred spirit. Through a series of conversations, Kim and I came to the conclusion that she would take me on knowing that there was a big chance she wouldn’t be in Colorado when Jack was born. Yet, somehow, I think we both knew that she would be there. Our connection was such that only God could have orchestrated it. I felt confident He would take care of Jack’s due date and that Kim would be able to attend. And He did.
At 3:30am on June 24, two days after Kim had returned from Michigan, I awoke suddenly aware that I was leaking. I went to the bathroom and checked to see, and I appeared to be leaking a bit of water. I wasn’t concerned and decided I would go back to bed to get a bit more sleep. I got back into bed and the first contraction hit. With both my births, I seemed to skip early labor. From the first contraction, I can’t talk through them. Contractions start hard and come about every 2-3 minutes.
Jeff jumped out of bed, called Kim and my doula, Taylor-Brooke. We then got the bed ready for birth. Our home had been cleaned that week, sheets were waiting to go on the bed, and we made the bed in anticipation, knowing that the time was perfect for Jack to come into the world. Kim was in town, our house was ready, and our toddler was peacefully asleep in the room over.
Within 20 minutes, our birth team arrived. I was laboring in the kitchen, leaning over the counter. Carmen, another wonderful midwife who helped in both my prenatal care and birth, helped put pressure on my back until my doula arrived. I leaned over the counter, barefoot in my kitchen, laboring with Jack and thinking how normal and peaceful it felt. There was no rushing around, no one telling me what to do or how to be. Instead, they let me be. In the same home where I had played with my toddler earlier, laughed with my husband, and made countless memories, I labored in complete peace. There was no where else I would rather be.
Within an hour of labor, I began to feel pressure. Kim suggested we move to the bed to my side to slow things down a bit. I had a lot of anxiety about tearing severely again. My postpartum with my first had been so hard. Kim reassured me we’d do everything we could to prevent a second bad tear. We moved to the bed and I continued to have contractions, close together and hard. Jeff sat next to me in bed, encouraging me and cheering me on. Taylor-Brooke put pressure on my back and whispered encouragements in my ear. Sarah (Kim’s assistant) rubbed my leg that was cramping and put oils on a kleenex for me to sniff when I complained of nausea. Carmen kept an eye on Jack, checking his heart rate regularly. Kim watched over it all, always encouraging, always calm, and always in control. I truly can’t remember a time in life where I felt so loved, protected, and cared for. I was surrounded by my husband and women who loved and cared for me.
As I felt the pressure to push, Kim told me to try and breathe him down without pushing. I believe this is the hardest thing I have done in my life. This was the most intense time of birth. After awhile, I decided I’d had enough of breathing and just wanted him out. I began to push and Kim told me to look at her and to make a certain low sound with her. Kim hadn’t ever used that serious tone with me, so I decided I should probably listen to her. I looked at her and got control of breathing him down again. The sun was rising, the birds were chirping, and with it all came the feeling that Jack was crowning. Kim told Jeff to come catch his son. She shifted over and Jeff moved into her place.
All of the sudden, Jeff began to cry and say, “Amye! I see his hair! He has brown hair!” There was no ring of fire, no blinding pain, rather, Jeff’s cries filled me with a determination to meet this brown-haired baby. With one slight push at 6:05am, out came Jack, and Jeff caught him. Jeff began to sob as he put Jack on me. I couldn’t believe that I had just birthed this little baby. Jack lay on my chest while the birds chirped their welcome.
In the minutes after, Kim and Carmen and Sarah monitored the placenta (which came out painlessly a bit after) and cleaned me up. They left the umbilical cord connected while Jack nursed and I stared at him, memorizing every little feature. Jeff made me oatmeal with tons of fruit, my favorite food. I nursed, Jeff fed me oatmeal, and it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Honestly, the feeling after birth, the high that follows, is enough reason to have about 20 kids. There is nothing like it. The ladies ate some snacks in the kitchen, checking on us every now and then, but mostly letting us be. A friend had come and gotten Hunter around 6:00am, so we were able to just lay in bed and stare at our new son. Kim checked me a bit later to see about tearing. Although I had a small tear, stitches weren’t needed. I began to panic right before she checked me. I didn’t think I could go through another stitching session like I had with my first. She calmed me down and when she said I didn’t need stitches, I cried. I felt so loved and so valued by my birth team and felt so grateful for their hard work during birth so I wouldn’t tear.
The ladies stayed for a few hours and came back the next day. I felt completely safe and taken care of. They weighed Jack, checked him over and checked me over. Jeff and I spent a quiet day afterward. We ate the food we like, sat in the bed we love, and ended the day with wine on the front porch. Never have I felt such at peace than I felt after the birth of Jack.
We love Kim and our birth team and are forever grateful.
By Amye Olivero.
Photographs provided by the Olivero family.
Amye and Jeff tell a bit of their story in this seventeen minute film: Why Choose Homebirth?