Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grace's Birth Story - Part I

Six years ago this coming Monday, Victoria Grace arrived in our arms. In honor of Grace's birthday, I'd like to share her birth story. As I've worked on writing it, I've realized that it's going to be a two-parter. So I thought I'd share Part I today, just to tease you. I mean, give you an appetizer. Or something.

Last summer, I managed to get Kate's birth story written down. It's quite long, because there were so many extra factors surrounding Kate's birth, and it starts here if you'd like to read it. I mention Kate's story because it is the backdrop to why, at 37 weeks into my sixth pregnancy, I bid Jonathan and the Blessings farewell as they headed back to Missouri from Kansas, where I would be staying until the Baby arrived.

Here's a quote from Katie's story - "I suppose the most glaring result of our hospital experience (with Kate) is the fact that we have since returned home to Kansas for the births of our subsequent babies in order to have the attendance of a legal midwife. Within a couple of weeks after Katie's birth, we were firm in our conviction that we would not subject another of our children to birth in a hospital setting unless there were a legitimate medical reason to do so."

When we discovered in late 2002 that we were expecting another Blessing, along with the excitement came a lot of questions. The biggest one was, "Where and with whom is this baby going to be born?" We talked about quite a few options... a birth center in Missouri, unassisted birth, working with our former midwife in KS, etc. None of those seemed to be our answer.

Then one day when I was talking with Shawna by phone, she mentioned that Kathy, a wonderful midwife in Wichita, with whom we had met in the past, had a great option available. They had taken a house and transformed it into The Birth Inn, where folks like me could come and have a home away from home while using Kathy's midwifery services. Several phone calls later, we had a plan! I would get pre-natal care with a supportive OB in St. Louis, and would travel to Kansas for the birth.

My average “bake time” for babies is 38 weeks. Thankfully, Grace's expected arrival time meshed well with the beginning of the camp season. For those of you who didn't grow up with me, Kansas Bible Camp has been a huge part of my life since I was a youngster. I staffed there every summer from 1986-1995 and lived at the camp a couple of different times. Both Jonathan and I are both very tied to the ministry there, and would love to be able to be more involved. Living eight hours away makes that difficult, though! As we made plans, we realized that I would have an opportunity to work for a week or so at camp while waiting for Baby. Bonus!!

37 weeks was our target date for heading to Kansas, as anything that happened before then wouldn't be handled by a midwife anyway, and it would likely put me close to Kathy within a week of giving birth. Our whole family drove to Kansas for a Memorial Day Weekend family reunion, then Jonathan, the Blessings, and Jonathan's parents headed back to Missouri. Jonathan's parents were gracious enough to come and stay at our house during this time, caring for the other Blessings so that Jonathan could continue to work while I was in Kansas.

Before Jonathan left for Missouri, we had an appointment with Kathy and took all our birth and baby stuff to the Birth Inn (which is about 45 minutes from Hutchinson, where KBC is). I had kept in contact with Kathy by phone and email, and she had my records from the OB in St. Louis, so it was very natural and comfortable to be preparing to birth with her.

As we sat chatting during that appointment, she asked a question that I will never forget. She looked in my eyes, and with an intense attentiveness, asked me, “What can we do to make this your best birth?”

Wow. After my hospital experience, this was a wonderful reminder and affirmation of one reason I had wanted to go back to midwifery care in a home setting!

I had given a lot of thought to what I wanted this birth to be. My experience with Katie's birth had given me a huge boost in my belief and confidence that God had made my body to do what needed to be done. If Jonathan had been willing, we quite possbily would have had an unassisted birth at our home in Missouri. I knew I could birth this baby, and part of me wanted to do so alone with my man. At the same time, I loved knowing that someone with training and expertice would be close by should anything unexpected happen.

My answer to Kathy summed up those feelings first. I then shared that I would like for Jonathan and I to be alone as much as possible for the labor, and that there be minimal assistance with the delivery. Kathy and Brenda listened with attentiveness and respect, and I knew that they would honor the space I was requesting while being readily available with their expertice. After this talk, I was looking forward to this birth more than ever!

I was going to post some of the pictures we took of our family before the crew left to go back to Missouri, but I can't find them anywhere. So here is one of the Hall crew at the family reunion:

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