Elaine Suzette’s Birth Story – Our Fifth Child, Our First Born at Home

I would call it a ‘simple’ birth.  All of our other children were born in a hospital.  We knew no different.  We were actually headed down that path again when I, assuming this would probably be my last baby.  I  just wanted a doula at first.  The doula search began by talking to my current OB who stated they did not like working with doulas which then changed my path entirely!  I was now looking for a doula AND a new OB.  Ugh!  I was already 20 weeks pregnant!  Then during a church book club I lamented on my search & really not wanting to have the same sterile hospital experience I had with my last pregnancy.  A friend then piped up and shared she had her first baby at home.  She was also planning the same for the 2nd!  This totally baffled me.  I thought I didn’t know anyone in my circle of friends who had a home birth!

Hmmm…a home birth?  I thought & thought about it and figured I **might** be able to convince my husband to support a birth at birth center with a midwife & doula, but a home birth would probably be out of the question.

I started interviewing as many doulas & Houston midwives plus touring birth centers as I could and most of the time, with my kids in tow.  The clock was ticking so I also rented from the library “The Business of Being Born” and “More Business of Being Born.” The first movie just sparked our interest of birthing outside of a hospital; the latter really opened our eyes.   With so many hospital experiences already under our belt, we quickly realized a lot of the things we had previously experienced in a hospital could be avoided this time!

After interviews, videos & tours, my husband was totally on board for a birth center & using a midwife.   (Yeah!)  But the birth center we liked was a good 45 minutes away and that was without traffic!  What would happen if we needed to drive during rush hour?

Nanci Stanley was our last scheduled midwife interview.  Being that she was someone I equated with homebirths, I would have never set up an appointment if it wasn’t for the fact she was my friend’s midwife.  Afterall, we had already planned on using a birthcenter and all other midwifes we had interviewed up to this point had been linked to hospitals or birth centers.  We had our entourage of kids with us at the interview.  I was so surprised about how relaxed she was around our kids.  She answered a ton of questions – and hard ones, like what emergencies had she experience?  Had she ever lost a baby? (No, btw…) All her answers were more than adequate & acceptable for both me & my husband.

After the interview, we had a lunch date with old friends, naps times, errands to run, dinner to make & bedtime routines to finish.  Exhausted as normal parents are, we went to bed that evening without even discussing our interview with Nanci.  The next day when we had a moment to talk, it clicked.  Why not birth our daughter at home?  It would save us the trip to & from a birth center & we’d still get all the bells & whistles of being outside a hospital setting!  The decision was finally made.  Nanci was to be my mid-wife & doula all rolled into one!  I was 26 weeks along by then & soooo happy!

Nanci made it real easy to transition.   I still had questions to be answered and she never hesitated in answer them.  She constantly encouraged me to educate myself further.  Instead of given paperwork on the way out of an office, I was given books to read in addition to a warm hug.  I was asked what I wanted for each step along the way and given the pros & cons if I didn’t know.  It was truly an eye opening experience.

I knew for sure I was going to have the baby when I was out shopping with my 7 year old and having to breathe through contractions.  Today was the day!  Ironically, today was also our wedding anniversary!  I called my husband after arriving home & told him to cancel our dinner reservations.  Our anniversary gift this year was going to be welcoming our new baby into the world!

By 5:30pm we called Nanci.  Since my last baby came pretty fast, Nanci showed up within the hour.  Her helper/assistant was Paula.  I had never met Paula but liked her instantly.  We already had a babysitter scheduled for that evening for our anniversary which we asked to just come anyways to help with the kids.  Our babysitter had hoped to see the birth & stayed on to help even after the kids were in bed.

We had borrowed a birthing tub from my friend for the birth.  Oh boy – what a relaxing way to give birth!  The contractions were still coming but sooo much easier to handle once in the tub.  In the hospital I had always had a fluid drip to keep myself hydrated and catheter in place thus confining me to my bed.  Here at home, I was just told to drink fluids & use the restroom when needed – sooo much easier!!  After a while in the tub, Nanci asked me to get out to “relieve” myself.  I laugh now at it but little did I know after closing the door to the loo, my husband was informed that these next few contractions would be quite difficult!  I’m sure they “lovingly” chuckled a bit upon hearing my groans of pain as contractions came & went when I was in the bathroom.  Amazing what a little water does to relieve pain!  Back in the tub I went after collecting energy to return.

At 10pm we woke up my oldest daughter, Evie, age 7, to watch the birth.  Both she & her younger sister Amanda, age 5, said they wanted to watch but when it came time, my little 5 year old valued her sleep too much to be woken and moved out of her warm bed.  We also have a 21 month old toddler, Isabella is who is a ball energy but was sleeping peacefully unaware of the “fun” going on downstairs.  Nanci had said the baby would probably come at night.  I was glad.  With our family out of state, what was my husband going to do with all three kids in a pinch at night (or day for that matter) if we had to go to the hospital for the birth?  Of course we had back up plans but God is good.  No need to implement those plans and my kids all got to sleep in the comfort of their own bed & me in mine with my new little baby after the birth.

I was in the home stretch now.  Finally it was time to push.  It didn’t take long – a few minutes maybe but it was the hardest part for me.  Nothing up until this part was very difficult or too undyingly painful which I couldn’t handle.  Curling up in a ball to push is even more difficult when your tummy is the size of an overgrown pumpkin.  With the help of my dear husband, Nanci & Paula, I managed to introduce our 4th daughter, Elaine Suzette, to the world.  It was such a wonderful experience.  Even during the birth, the mood was relaxed.  They immediately put her on my chest.  My husband and oldest daughter who had been watching it all helped cut the cord.  To this day she has a special bond with Elaine.  With the cord cut, there was no bright lights, no beeping monitors, or other craziness going on.  Sure, I got out of the tub & got cleaned up.  Elaine was weighted and measured but then she came right back to my arms to cuddle & nurse.  It was all so peaceful, simple.  Nanci came back the next day & 5 days after to check up with me & Elaine.  It was so comforting to know I was being well taken care of & didn’t have to drive anywhere to get the care I needed.

Having Nanci as a midwife was more of a blessing to our whole family than I can ever explain.   Sure, one can have a great experience with many great doctors out there!  But having your child brought into the world in the comfort of your own home by skilled and loving hands is the only way for us to go ever again.  I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world & neither would the rest of my family!  Thank you Nanci!!!