We were so excited when Staci and Melissa asked us to share our birth story. As first time parents, we weren’t entirely sure what kind of a birth plan we wanted. I have experience as a birthing assistant working with a midwife and had seen a lot of beautiful, un-medicated births at home and in the birthing center. I felt like I wanted a natural birth with a midwife.
Sean, my husband and an ER nurse, wasn’t comfortable having our baby anywhere but in the hospital in case of complications. We settled on delivering in the hospital with a midwife. We found the one midwife who sees her patients all throughout the pregnancy and guarantees she will be at the delivery, the amazing Lisa Sherwood. She delivers exclusively at Saddleback Memorial so we attended all of our appointments in Laguna Hills despite living all the way in Long Beach.
I was very interested in taking birthing classes and possibly having a doula for support during labor and she suggested contacting Labor of Love. We did and decided to take the Bradley Method class with Staci. Sean and I learned so much and used the time in class to bond with our growing baby as well as each other. We became so close with Staci that we decided to have her and Melissa as our doulas. They were always available throughout the pregnancy and would even text or call to check up on us.
I went into labor at 3:30 am on Wednesday, February 8th. I texted Staci and Melissa at 8am as well as Lisa, who is also always available and happy to answer patients’ texts and calls. I then labored at home with the help of Sean and my amazing sister, Shannon, for twelve hours before heading to the hospital. We would update Lisa and Staci (she was the doula on call) every once in a while but were able to handle the laboring at home between the three of us. We used a lot of the techniques we had learned in class as well as a few things that just felt right in the moment to deal with the discomfort. Walking around the house, using the yoga mat on hands and knees to move the way my body wanted to, a heating pad to the lower back with someone giving counter pressure, and the birthing ball were all lifesavers.
The hospital ride was pretty intense because we live about 30 miles away from Saddleback but with Sean driving and Shannon in the back with me for support, I managed to work through each contraction and we made it there around 3:30 pm. Staci met us right as we arrived at the hospital. We were all amazed to find out I was already 7 centimeters dilated when we arrived. From there, things got a bit blurry and I remember feeling very uncomfortable through each contraction but it was manageable. Lisa arrived shortly after and nobody left my side throughout the whole process. When I felt like I couldn’t take the pain, someone was always there to encourage me, suggest position changes, or just hold my hand. We even went into the bathtub at certain point, where Sean and Staci stayed with me for as long as I needed them to. We were able to turn off the lights and just work through each contraction, resting in between. Soon after, Lisa told me I was 9.5 centimeters dilated and that gave me the encouragement to keep going.
When it came time to push, I was exhausted and not sure that I could continue. I put my faith in Lisa and asked her to tell me when and how to push. She gave me the direction that I needed, as well as using oils and massage to make sure I didn’t tear. Finally, I pushed out our baby girl around 6:45 pm and was in complete shock that this had all just happened! She came out healthy, beautiful, and screaming. We were ecstatic!
Unfortunately, after the delivery of my placenta, my uterus would not contract and I lost quite a bit of blood. Lisa immediately intervened and ended up giving me pitocin and fluids. Throughout everything, baby Blaire hung out on my belly and Sean and Staci held my hands. The situation was handled so gracefully that, if I hadn’t been a nurse, I wouldn’t have realized the seriousness of what was going on. Thankfully, the interventions worked and I was soon back to taking everything in with Sean and our new baby Blaire. Lisa and Staci stayed to make sure I was okay and then it was time to recover. Lisa stopped by each day I was in the hospital, and even came by twice in one day just to check up. Staci dropped in the day after Blaire was born as well.
We had great support and will always be grateful for Lisa, Staci, and the hospital staff. I feel like I had the perfect team and could not imagine going through the whole process any other way. After my experience, I realized that a home birth will never be for me and I am so grateful for midwives like Lisa who make natural birthing possible in the hospital setting. Nobody ever mentioned an epidural and the thought didn’t cross my mind once. I feel that walking, yoga, stretching and the exercises I learned in the Bradley class contributed to a relatively quick labor.
I now tell anyone interested in a natural birth that it is possible and can even be a very positive, empowering experience. I hope sharing my story will inspire others interested in a labor with minimal interventions.