The Birth Story of Elise Joy Newell

I’ve wanted a homebirth since I was ten and watched my sister’s birth. Still, I felt like I was swimming against the tide when we got pregnant and began visits with the midwives rather than an O.B. Fortunately, I had one other dear friend who was also planning a waterbirth at home. What a blessing to walk our different path together!

Other pregnant friends were surprised that the midwives cared about what I ate, drank, or how I exercised. But with the education Mary Anne & Daphne provided, I had a beautifully smooth pregnancy. “If you start getting leg cramps, you may need calcium,” Daphne told me the week before I got a charley horse. I knew exactly what to do. “Oh, you’re craving hamburgers and sweets? Your body needs iron, even if you’re not officially anemic.” It was like they wiped the fog from my eyes and removed many uncomfortable mysteries from pregnancy.

Every step along the way, they answered my reams of questions and provided literature to help us make informed decisions about procedures (even “routine” ones that are not optional in traditional doctors’ offices). That way we could look at the medical recommendation, the natural options and figure out what we thought was best.

By 36 weeks, we were nearly ready, having ordered our birthing supplies and rented the birth-pool-in-a-box. But at our home visit, they suspected that Elise was breech. Then at our scheduled visit with our cooperating physician, he also thought she was breech and sent us down for an ultrasound to confirm.

Can I tell you haw glad I was that Mary Anne was there with us? In fact, my husband observed the couple ahead of us forging their way alone, while we had Mary Anne as our guide and advocate.

Yes, the ultrasound confirmed Elise’s bottom was down. And no, it was not an option to deliver her that way, but Mary Anne walked us through some scenarios and options. I was so grateful we didn’t merely see the ultrasound and wander out alone and helpless, wondering what to do.

I think we tried nearly everything to get that kid to turn, from lying upside-down on an ironing board to rubbing clay on my belly, to chiropractic care, and anything else that might possibly help. The midwives let us decide what ideas we wanted to try, and believe me people have lots of suggestions, some more crazy than others!

My husband wisely encouraged me to plan for a c-section until Elise flipped, at which time we could resume our waterbirth plan.

Every doctor’s visit and ultrasound was attended by one of the midwives. I was amazed at how seamless the transition was. They were respected at the doctor’s office, and knew the ropes where we were clueless.

The doctor said there was one last thing we could try, an external cephalic version, where they give you and epidural and grease up the belly and manually push that baby head down. If it didn’t work, it’d be straight to the operating room. When it came time to actually schedule our hospital visit, oh I cried!! Yes, in the doctor’s office. But with Mary Anne and my husband there, I felt understood, not just like a hormonal pregnant lady.

We met Daphne at the hospital (on her birthday, bless her!). She helped us know what was about to happen. When the nurses stuck me for the IV, I cried and cried. Yes, it hurt, but more than that, it meant this entire nightmare was real. I was grieving the loss of my dream for a homebirth. It just all seemed so… wrong… chained to the bed with tubes to flow liquids in through my wrist and out through a catheter and an epidural so I couldn’t wiggle my toes, much less walk around or squat or do anything to help my body bring this baby into the world. It broke my heart that these procedures are considered a normal part of giving birth in our culture. So I cried some more.

Daphne held my hand through all of it, literally and metaphorically. It was wonderful to be supported and loved in the midst of my mess.

By the time our doctor arrived (who, by the way, was so kind and supportive through everything) I relaxed. He tried three times to get Elise to turn and finally looked in my eyes and said she wouldn’t move past a certain point. Off to the operating room we went.

Within about twenty minutes Elise was born! Since there were no complications, they put her on my chest even while they sewed me back up. I sang to her as best as I could, though my arms didn’t work very well to hold her. She was seven pounds, ten ounces and nineteen and a half inches long. A beautiful baby girl!