Jason and Angela~ A First Birth
Birth Story; our experience welcoming our son Braedyn into our lives.
Early into our pregnancy we knew we wanted a natural birth experience; one that would be an ease on our baby-to-be and on us too. We heard of water births and natural births, but did not know much about them. After doing some research online we decided to go a hospital within an hour drive. They offered a Midwifery Service, but no water birth and we were explained that they did not know who would actually deliver as it depended who was on call that particular day. This was not something that sat well with us; we wanted to be more in control of our baby’s delivery and pregnancy. At this hospital they were promoting the video The Business of Being Born-a documentary done by talk show host Ricki Lake. The movie peaked our interest and we rented it right away. This movie CHANGED OUR LIFE! It showed so much of what we knew could happen and did not want to! Different natural, healthy options of delivering your baby were showed and at that point we knew we had to shift gears. This we knew: we wanted an at-home-birth with a midwife.
That is when God blessed us in finding Ireena, through a contact of a contact, which she ended up only living two miles from our home! She was so pleasant on the phone and asked questions to ensure we were serious about an at-home-birth, which told us that she meant business but was very gentle just what we desired.
Throughout our pregnancy she was so helpful on ensuring we got the best nutrients and advice on how to let your body do what it needed to do, after all God designed women to have babies! She was great at preparing for what would or could happen in labor and what to do about it. The education she provided us on waiting to cut the umbilical cord, evening primrose for softening the cervix, were all things that we wanted from a care provider.
Our labor was long and enduring to say the least. It started out smooth and what seemed to be on pace as a normal labor. However, we had cervix complications that delayed the whole process. Ireena and her assistant, Rhoda were a tremendous help in coaching me on different positions and what needed to be done to move our baby along. The most wonderful part is, I remember every part of it and there were no drugs to make me disconnected from my baby or my body so I could still respond to my instinct to deliver my baby as safe as possible. After 23 Â½ hours later of intense never stopping contractions due to the cervix not relaxing, Braedyn was brought into this world by the Gentle Hands of Ireena Keesler and his parents as we could touch him and help gently bring him to my chest immediately so our breastfeeding experience was just as successful and the birthing process was less traumatic for our baby boy.
Braedyn was able to nurse right away and be calmed with us right beside him, including daddy. After we had time to connect and enjoy this amazing experience, Ireena then examined him and sure enough we had a healthy and happy baby boy! No, we did not get our water birth due to the complications, but we were saved from unnecessary C-section because of Ireena and Rhoda’s knowledge and patience; that we will be forever thankful for.
We never left our own bed for three days as we were exhausted and from the intense labor and wanted some skin-to-skin time as a family. These were the best three days and we believe because of this time and the way we decided to deliver Braedyn is the reason he is so alert, comforted and bonded with us no drugs and unconsciousness, just wonderful memories and healthy choices that will always be remembered thanks to the Gentle Hands of Ireena Keesler.
Unfortunately, this pregnancy and delivery would require some changes. After seven home births with our previous midwife, a wonderful friend who had supported and guided us for fourteen years, this dear woman had moved out of state and could no longer assist us. We needed to find a new midwife or use the hospital.
We have had a backup doctor for many years. While supportive of OUR decision to homebirth, she has always been skeptical of homebirth in general. She prefers births to be at the hospital with equipment standing ready, but not to be used except in an emergency. Persuaded by this doctor, we toured the hospital and met the other doctors and pediatricians on staff. Despite our backup doctor’s support, other staff members were not supportive of our hands-off approach. We decided to search for a new midwife.
Our search led us to Ireena Keeslar. We met with her in her home and appreciated her sensible approach to birth, viewing labor as a natural process that women are designed to do. She told us she sees and respects the Creator’s hand in pregnancy, labor, and delivery. We decided to hire her as our midwife and prepare for another.
This pregnancy was an easy one compared to our last two. I had more energy and less discomfort. The mental and emotional stresses were absent as well, and I was very grateful. Around 11:30 the evening of February 19 a week before my due date, my water broke with heavy blood flow. We called Ireena and, at her direction, headed for the hospital, planning to meet her there.
Large amounts of blood indicate the placenta has pulled away from the uterine wall and, depending on how much it has separated, constitutes an emergency.
My thoughts were scrambled. I understood the seriousness of the situation, but kept praying that somehow it would be just a minor thing. Nervous about going to the hospital, I prayed. As we were driving there, I realized that I could be in surgery in the next hour, we could have a dead baby, this could be a huge nightmare. Yet, through it all, I felt God’s peace and presence and knew He is in control. Nothing will happen that He will not be there to help us through.
At the hospital I learned that the doctor and pediatrician least sympathetic to natural birth, the reason we decided to homebirth, were indeed the doctors on call. This OB likes to earn his pay, is very hands on, and tries to sell every procedure there is to offer. Ugh!
The nurse, a friend from church, hooked up the monitor and, to my relief, the baby’s heart rate was good. Ireena arrived about the same time the doctor did and we had to decide whether to stay at the hospital or go home for the birth. I was still bleeding and we knew there will only be more blood lost during the birth. Unsure what the tipping point would be, we opted to stay at the hospital.
The doctor wanted us to have an internal monitor, IV, and no soaking in the tub. I graciously said, no thank you. He said he would settle for the external monitor since he knew we liked to go more natural, but again I replied, No thanks! We agreed they could check the heart rate every 15 minutes with a hand-held monitor, but no tethers! We also agreed they could take some blood and have the lab prepare a unit in case I needed it. In the meantime, I was drinking grape juice to keep up my sugar/energy level. He was slightly flustered by our decisions but agreed and left to go sleep in the doctor’s lounge.
I was very grateful to have Ireena there. While the doctor ordered No tub! Ireena explained (after the doctor left the room) that heat would dilate the blood vessels and could increase the bleeding. Cold constricts the vessels and lessens the bleeding. I am much more accommodating when I understand why I am being told something.
So, we all settled in for the night. I slept well with only minor but regular contractions. The nurse came in faithfully and listened to the baby’s heart rate. I went to the bathroom several times throughout the night and each time the bleeding was less. By 5 a.m. I had stopped bleeding and decided to get into the tub. The contractions were more painful and I wanted to relax in the warm water.
By 6:30 I felt I went through transition although it was the mildest one I have ever experienced. I asked the nurse to check me. She said I was around 9 cm. and suggested the doctor who just came in for two C-sections check me. This was my regular doctor who was supportive of our homebirth, so I was very happy about that. Dr. J checked me, said, you’re there! and told Ireena to catch because she had some C-sections to attend to. We couldn’t believe it!
By 7a.m. our daughter was born (tub birth) with just my husband and Ireena in attendance. The nurse came in when she heard Candace cry. We actually had our ideal birth at the hospital. No interventions. No procedures. No medications. We chose not to cut the cord for an hour after the placenta was delivered. We had everything exactly as we would have if the birth took place at home. The nurses were thanking me for allowing them to experience birth as it should be. They were in awe!
I am so grateful for Ireena. She came to the hospital. Not all homebirth midwives will do that. She came in scrubs, the health professional’s uniform Subtle but sweet, they respected her as one of their own. She never contradicted the doctor or staff but answered our questions and helped us understand our options. If she had not been there, they would have woken Dr. Hands On and the room would have been filled with staff.
After I was settled back in bed, Ireena went to the tub and fished out the large clump she had noticed. She examined it and realized it was an extra lobe to the placenta. She suggested this pregnancy had started out as twins but one child did not make it, thus the extra lobe. It was the separation of this section that caused the bleeding.
This was, by far, my easiest, least painful, least stressful, most surprising birth. Although the hospital was not my first choice for delivery, they have their purpose when things are not normal. I am very happy with the way things turned out. The food was good and we were home that evening. I learned that I didn’t have to go to battle but I did need to exercise my voice and have a clear knowledge of how I wanted things to be. Knowledge is the best tool.
Thank you, Ireena! I am sure this story would have been very different if you were not there and I am glad we both had a positive hospital experience.