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Rebekah Hawkins

Rosemary McNaughton

Clover Lewis

Kristin Taylor

Sarah Rossmassler

Jolene Cook

Mynnde Corey



Hazelle's Birth, July 11th 2007

When I first found out i was pregnant i am surprised at how much pressure i felt to have a hospital birth. I was raised in the woods of NH by back to the land, hippy parents. We are still a family who often chooses holistic herbal medicine over western practices. My mother's best friend was a home birth midwife who is an amazing person and had been one of the first to practice midwifery in NH after an inspiring trip to the Farm. I witnessed women in many stages of pregnancy and even birth at her house and saw how safe, natural and rewarding the experience is. But when i found myself pregnant many years later at the age of 34 I was shocked to look around and find that not a single friend was planning or had a home birth. What was happening? Suddenly i felt surrounded by scary stories of what can go wrong in labor. Because of my past and my skepticism of hospital births for normal pregnancy's, my husband Christian and I decided to do a lot of research to see how we felt. We interviewed all that the area had to offer; from OB practices to home birth practices. In the mean time we began to see an OB in Northampton just to cover our bases. Through our research we began to trust our original instincts , when every time we spent time talking to home birth midwives we felt relaxed and every time we were in the doctors office we started to worry about what can go wrong. I decided to make the final decision out of faith and not out of fear. I felt like the only reason I would have chosen the hospital was the fear that something could go wrong. Most of the time nothing goes wrong, people have after all been having babies this way from the beginning of time.

I chose to have faith that it was just as safe to have a baby at home, maybe even safer than the hospital in many cases.The statistics we had read and research we had done furthered our resolve. When we met Tanya and Kirsten we immediately felt like we had found the right people. Before we even left the office and my husband and i discussed it, i knew that they would be the ones. Each time we visited them we felt more and more positive and excited about the birth of our baby, empowered by the fact that we were in charge.

At midnight on July 11th I felt contractions begin. In the weeks leading up to that there had been several times that I had 'practice' contractions and i was not sure if these would be again too. I went back to sleep ,woke up again at 4 am and told my husband, Christian that I thought i was in labor. Because we were not sure and there had been false alarms he wasn't sure if HE thought I was in labor. I told him to go back to sleep and i went downstairs and cleaned the whole house. I was so happy I had gotten what I wanted, to go back to sleep and get some rest before the big event. I had been worried that i would be scared of labor, griped by fear when it set in after so much anticipation but now that it was beginning I really was not, i was excited. I knew that people would be coming and it felt good to be moving and working. At 6 am they got stronger and I woke him up again and we timed them, they were 6 mins apart now and we both got up and went for a long walk. The sun was coming up on a beautiful summer morning and we were so excited because i knew that this was the day our baby would be born! When we got back from our walk, the contractions were faster 4mins apart. We called Tanya and Kirsten to let them know that I was in labor. I didn't feel pressure yet for them to come over, I thought it could be a very long time that my contractions were the same, (this turned out not to be the case) and I also had this fear, knowing myself that I may feel pressure that i would put on myself to have a smooth, quick labor. We said we would call back. Strangely though I did not feel afraid of the birth like I had thought I would, now that it was happening I was much more relaxed than i envisioned. Christian made me breakfast and we sat and talked. After I got in the bathtub (my own even though we were going to begin to fill up the birthing tub that was up in our bedroom) There I tried to relax and felt a bit trapped. It was a preview of what for me would end up being something that while works very well for many people did not work for me, laboring in water. When I went upstairs to our bedroom i remember standing by our bed and i had a very strong contraction that broke my water all in one pop! It was really intense. Also, I started to notice that all the 'pain' i really felt was in my back. This was the 'back labor' that everyone swore was the worst thing. It was intense and yet it was just like Tanya and Kirsten had said, not a pain like when you hurt yourself, not like anything else because this was a pain that would get my baby born. Tanya and Kirsten came in the bedroom (Christian must have called them!) and I lost my breakfast all at once. The tub was almost full now and I got in. For me that water felt good but slowed my contractions. Christian got in the water with me for part of it. There, one of the most special moments of my life happened. Christian and I were looking in each others eyes, it is so hard to explain the depth of feeling then between us; happiness,pain, elation, loss of our old lives, the 17 yr's we have been together, the excitement/fear of the unknown- the future, all flashing before us, this BIRTH, our new family beginning! I will never forget that moment. I will also never forget how supportive he was, how patient and loving. It also seemed like all the moments we needed to be alone we were and all the moments we needed our midwives they were there. That is because of the intuitive people they are, but it is also something one would never get in another environment like a hospital. In the tub and out all three of them would put pressure on my lower back to ease the pain, it did help.The second time I got in Tanya said to me; 'Rebekah, you are a walker maybe the water is not working because you like to move and that is what you have done your whole pregnancy'. I thought that was a really good point and decided to give it a try. From the time I had gotten pregnant I had walked 45 mins every day. First I tried walking up and down our long staircase. Then in circles around the floor of our house, which is a big Victorian church so it was perfect to walk in. I was om-ing and trying to get my sound lower (this is good to help the baby come down) but i wanted to scream a bit too! which I did and it felt really good. I suddenly felt like I wanted to push and reached down to see my hands had white film on them, vernix! I thought I still had a long time to go-time was flying-, It turned out i had walked right through transition. Our midwives said maybe it was time to go upstairs .This is where I wanted to deliver our baby in our bedroom which is the former pulpit of the church, under a special gothic arch. The entire labor i didn't know how many centimeters I was dilated (both b/c Tanya and Kirsten don't check unless it is wanted and b/c I didn't want the pressure of knowing. I was very grateful for not knowing, because I can be very hard on myself. At the base of our bed I started pushing. Pushing contractions were very different. The contraction could be used for each push and it felt great to be active and productive. I tried a few positions but squatting proved best for me. I was facing the end of the bed and Christian-Tanya and Kirsten behind me. I don't know how long I was pushing, time was passing in the strangest abstract way. At one point Kirsten moved the last part of my cervix away to make sure it did not slow things down. They encouraged me to touch the top of the babies head and it was the best feeling. I could feel hair and it was good for both of us because we both needed encouragement. The baby rocked back and forth a while and at one point we needed just a moment of oxygen as her heart rate slowed a bit (which is very common). In one final push she was born! I had not wanted to find out if we were having a girl or boy and what a blessing to have the surprise after the hard work and to get to inspect her for the first time. I put her to my breast right away and she licked, knowing at once what to do. I looked into her eyes and felt the most incredible happiness, relief, the deepest love. We waited for all the nourishment to drain from the cord and Christian held her. She knew both of us and it was in her eyes. Seeing him hold her was such a moment, one that I had dreamed of a long, long time. Cutting the cord was such an intense and amazing thing. I knew this was the end of sharing my body with her, individuation. I had loved being pregnant so much. I really cried when I cut it.The cord and the placenta were so beautiful. They looked like they had been designed by the most talented artist, the colors bright and vivid. Her little world she had been in all her life so far was amazing to witness and imagine what she had been seeing and feeling inside. Tanya and Kirsten gave her her first exam right in our bed and then made us an excellent dinner. We lay in bed together, our new family and slept in a deep peace.

When I look back at Hazelle's birth I am so immensely grateful and proud. I love to tell people how she was born, wishing everyone could know how incredible home birth is. I feel such a life long connection to Tanya and Kirsten, they became our family through this process. Our baby was born here, in our home in such a peaceful, graceful way. Her entry into our lives seamless and safe. I believe this is reflected in her, in the way she experiences her life. We are grateful with all our hearts for the fortune and blessing of Hazelle's birth at home.



Within the month prior we had just started trying to get pregnant - before that it was just talk & possibilities, with just a bit of carelessness. so when it became official it was, for me, a bit shocking. The idea of creating a new life took some time to settle. I suppose that's part of the plan though - equal gestation for child & parents-to-be, all adjusting to the coming growth. when we started to discuss where & how our child would enter the world I realized that I was operating under the assumption that children are born in hospitals, period. though in no way allopathically minded - the idea of homebirth brought to mind a naive vision of unsanitary hippies, or, those without the fortune of a decent hospital nearby. Even after my wife began talking about wanting to do this, and me warming to the idea in theory - I couldn't help hold on to the feeling that we might be exposing our unborn child to unneccesary risks in the face of our desire to have the experience on our own terms.

As we made the obligatory steps in meeting with the OB and the hospital - we also started to meet with midwives & research what would be involved for us based on either choice we made. once we learned more & really started talking about it, it didn't take long to realize that there was really only one option for us - to plan to have our baby in our home. when we met Tanya & Kirsten it greatly helped solidify our feeling that this was the right choice for us - and that really, our roles as parents began with these decisions.

Part of the connection we felt immediately was the positivity they exuded for the experience. we felt strongly that we didn't want to go thru the pregnancy with fear and neuroses (which can arise when you are nearing 35 & faced w. genetic testing, etc.) and that we wanted to embrace the health & well being we felt physically & mentally going into it. due to the knowledge & experience they offered - we had complete faith in their skills as midwives, their confidence as professionals, and their fortitude as individuals. throughout the 9 months we were able to develop this initial trust to the point that, as the days drew closer, we felt only the anticipation of the excitement at getting to meet our daughter with no other concerns standing in the way.

We woke up around midnight on july 11th & my wife told me the real contractions had started (after many 'practice' rounds) - I wasn't sure this was really it and somehow we both managed to get back to sleep for a few hours. we then got up & took a walk around dawn, ate some breakfast and made the call - tanya & kirsten arriving shortly thereafter. predictably, they were perfect facilitators, mind readers, and all-around good witches helping rebekah move from each phase to the next without ever getting in the way or directing the experience out of our hands. when the birth itself happened at 2:57 the next afternoon - we shared our most profound experience all together right there on the bedroom floor. It was, and continues to be, the most beautiful moment I can imagine.

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