Erin won my trust and respect before she was ever my midwife. As a student nurse, I became convinced that interventions had a purpose when necessary, but that the more a person could safely avoid medical intervention, the better. Everything has side-effects. So when I first realized that homebirth was even practiced in the first world, I researched area midwives and found Erin.
What began as a flood of questions about what she did and how (which she graciously answered) turned into a year or so of assisting her with births and shadowing prenatal and postnatal visits. I was impressed by the grace and calm expertise Erin brought to her clients, whatever the situation. This feeling only grew when I began assisting with hospital births through my nursing school clinicals. Even the best of hospital births were still very, well, hospital-like. IVs and machines, crowds of nurses and doctors and docs-in-training, restrictions on food and drink, restrictions on movement due to epidurals, rules and regulations, and a general sense of trying to control natural processes. At every birth I attended, a miracle happened. A living, tiny human came forth from another human. God’s design is incredible! But other than that fact, the two arenas of birth were as different as could be.
I watched a doctor break a woman’s water without consent to hurry things along, and I watched Erin calm anxious mothers, help them get comfortable in their own beds, and remind them that the baby will come in God’s timing. I watched how in the grueling transition stage of labor, the L&D suits erupted into frenzy as staff hovered, mechanical beds were transformed, machinery was gathered, and big metal carts were arranged in preparation for heroics. The transition stage in homes meant dimmed lights, earnest encouragement, back rubs, counter-pressure, and maybe a reprieve in a warm bath. In L&D nurses pulled newborns away from mothers to analyze under a warming lamp, wrap their tiny bodies away in worn blankets, and place them in plastic beds for transfer to the nursery. In homes I saw babies lay skin-to-skin on their mothers, soaking in the comforting warmth and familiar voice while Erin checked them out unobtrusively and helped them get a strong start to their breastfeeding relationship.
When my wedding was shortly followed by a positive pregnancy test, I had no doubt who my first phone call would be. I still remember asking Erin, “Are you busy in December? Looks like I’ll need you then.” My sister became pregnant soon after and chose the OB route. She was constantly frustrated by long waits, short appointments, and surprise bills. I felt spoiled with my long, friendly prenatal chats in Erin’s living room, with a payment plan already in place to cover her services in full. No surprises. My labor was not easy, but with Erin’s guidance, I birthed a healthy baby boy in my home. I know without a doubt that if I’d been in the hectic, high-pressure environment of the hospital I would have ended up with a cesarean due to spontaneous rupture of membranes followed by failure to progress. But I didn’t. Because I had Erin.
When my next pregnancy came, we were living 2.5hr away. We tried to hire a local midwife, but even my husband said he liked and trusted Erin the most. So we did the crazy thing and made the 2.5hr trips. This time around, Erin successfully coached me through multiple run-ins with preterm labor, then weeks of false labor and a post-dates pregnancy. In the end, she helped me get the chiropractic care that freed my body to ease into productive labor. The second time around, labor was so much easier that I never thought it was time yet to summon Erin. Thankfully, due to the open lines of easy communication she’d established, I could update her with details that flagged her intuition, prompting her to check on me. After such a hard first labor I couldn’t believe I was anywhere close to delivering, but within an hour of her arrival my son was born in 2-3 pushes! My baby was grey, had a cord around his neck, and was struggling to breathe through aspirated meconium. Erin went into action without any panic. In fact, in my new-baby haze I didn’t even realize anything was wrong! I held and gazed at my baby in euphoria while she suctioned, oxygenated, and revitalized my son. She saved him before I even knew he needed saving. She probably prayed the very first prayer over him in the outside world, entreating God’s provision as she cared for my newborn baby in his moments of greatest need. Words cannot express what a blessing Erin has been to my husband and I and our two very healthy born-at-home sons. I only pray we will be near enough to hire her again when our next baby comes along!
- Danielle W. BSN, RN