Why We Chose A Birth Center (+ Unseen Edie Photos!)

These photos were all taken within the first eight-ish hours of Edie's birth. She finally found her way out just after 11 p.m. on Saturday night, we were home from the birth center before 5 a.m. and up around 7 to stare at her/get ready for family to come meet her. We chose not to let anyone know I was in labor and we are SO glad, because I ended up pushing for a very long time and we feel like it may have scared a family member or two if they had been there waiting. I also just didn't want the pressure of feeling like I had to get my baby out because I didn't want anyone stuck hanging out overnight. And that's what would have happened! An evening, overnight, and an entire day.

Even though we didn't invite anyone to be there for us, I never felt without support.  If I'm being honest, I was a TINY bit worried when I found out I wouldn't know which midwife would actually be present at my birth when I first transferred my prenatal care to the Birth Center of Northwest Arkansas, but not worried enough to make me pursue a home birth. For our first birth and baby experience Daniel and I really liked the idea of being so close to a hospital and under the care of certified nurse midwives who had lots of experience with the medical side of birth if things took a certain turn. We mostly wanted to feel encouraged that my body could open up and bring our baby into the world without intervention or pain medication. 

Throughout the course of my pregnancy I became more comfortable with the unknown parts of my upcoming birth by booking prenatal visits with each of the three midwives on staff. Their personalities were different but I felt confident they all had my baby's and my best interests in mind. I ended up giving birth under the supervision of the midwife I had spent the least time with (she had just started working at the birth center a few weeks before), but a few hours into pushing I realized I would feel forever connected to this woman. She convinced me to trust my body in a way I never had and didn't give up on me when I was screaming at her that I couldn't do it. "You will push this baby out, Jordan." She gently guided me and suggested new positions while allowing my body to do its job and totally trusting me when I crawled off of the bed and squatted on the floor on my own accord in my last few minutes of pushing. I can still hear her voice when I think back on Edie's birthday.

Immediately after Edie was born I spent almost four hours doing skin to skin. She was never taken out of my sight, not even when the sweet nurse went through my postnatal care protocol or when the student midwife took her measurements. I was able to get up and walk myself to the restroom, get dressed and load our things back into our car to head home just hours after giving birth.  

The Monday morning after Edie was born a nurse and student midwife visited us at home to check on baby and me. The care we received was so personal! I remember grabbing the student midwife's hands as she was kneeling over Edie who was asleep on my chest and telling her how gifted she was at her calling. She had basically acted as my doula throughout the birth--I think I held her hands more than I held Daniel's (they tag teamed it quite a bit--one of them rubbing my back or squeezing my hips while the other held my hands). I can honestly say my birth at the birth center felt more spiritual than medical, and almost 18 months later I still find myself missing the whole experience. It was raw and messy and loud and long and so, so beautiful, and I am forever changed.


My Husband, My Birth Partner

When I look back on my labor and birth experience, I remember feeling a flood of different things. I went through more intense moments of readiness, excitement, determination, confusion, uncertainty, hopelessness, anxiety and relief in those 38 hours than I've ever experienced in my life.  However, the one thing I don't recall feeling is alone.

I received a lot of questions throughout my pregnancy regarding my decision to birth naturally.  Daniel, though, was asked the same question over and over, "Are you going to watch?"  I don't know what I would have done if his answer had been no.

I labored with my husband at my side in bed, standing against me with his arms around my hips, rubbing my back in the tub, and holding me up on the toilet (there's really no pretty way to say that).  

I labored with the words, "You're doing great, babe" in my ear, hour after miserable hour as day turned to night turned to day turned to night again. 

He didn't give up on me when I said I was done, instead he forced a straw into my mouth and told me to drink. He didn't complain about being exhausted when he hadn't eaten or slept, either. And when by the grace of God our baby girl finally pushed past my bones and unveiled the top of her head, he jumped up in excitement and carried my tired soul to the finish line with him.

My husband caught our daughter.  Her daddy held her first--not a doctor or midwife or nurse.  In a lot of ways I feel like I got to physically push my heart outside of my body and into the arms of the man I promised it to, and I will never forget turning around to have him hand our child to me.  I don't have a word for it, but I can tell you I felt the exact opposite of alone.


For Edie's birth story, go HERE.

On Beauty, Postpartum and Otherwise

"It doesn’t make sense to call ourselves ugly, because we don’t really see ourselves. We don’t watch ourselves sleeping in bed, curled up and silent with chests rising and falling with our own rhythm. We don’t see ourselves reading a book, eyes fluttering and glowing. You don’t see yourself looking at someone with love and care inside your heart. There’s no mirror in your way when you’re laughing and smiling and happiness is leaking out of you. You would know exactly how bright and beautiful you are if you saw yourself in the moments where you are truly yourself."
(via A Cup of Jo)

As you can see in the photo above, I made it out of pregnancy alive, but not without a few shiny purple battle scars on my belly. What you can't see is the acne on my face from the postpartum hormone dump, my wet hair pulled up and out of the way from rushing through a shower because my babe started screaming in her bassinet as soon as I squeezed shampoo into my palm, the maxi pad outline on the butt of my sweatpants, or the dried milk in my armpit from my sweet girl falling asleep at my breast with her mouth full.

I'm going to be completely honest with you--I've never felt more beautiful in all my life.  

Because what you also can't see in the photo above is the way that screaming little girl immediately calms down when her soft-bellied mommy steps out of the shower, scoops her up and holds her against her bare skin, or the silly way she wakes up one brown eye at a time after a deep, open-mouth sleep on my chest.

Who can say this body isn't glorious, that my new squishy tummy isn't the perfect place for my newborn to nap and my web of stretch marks doesn't tell the loveliest story of how she once slept and grew beneath my skin?

I'm beginning to understand beauty as more of something we feel, something that stirs us, rather than something we see.  I've never felt more in tune with my body than I did through labor and birth and now new motherhood, but I've also never felt so little ownership of it.  My body is no longer just a physical concept for me to obsess over for lack of self-esteem--it belongs to a tiny human for much bigger purposes like nourishment and comfort.  It's more than how it looks. What a gift to both of us that it's healthy and functioning well enough to conceive, carry, birth, and nurse a child! You can't convince me that isn't beautiful.