People often ask why I chose to use a midwife and do a home birth. It is an extremely difficult question for me to answer in passing because it was not a decision I made lightly (if you know me, you know that I do not make any decision hastily). I wanted to labor and deliver without drugs; I wanted to be in an environment where I felt safe and supported; I wanted a provider that I knew, trusted, and felt comfortable with; I wanted a provider who would tell me if I needed intervention but would not push me to unnecessary interventions. Those are just a few of the considerations that led me to a midwifery model of care and I cannot express how thankful I am that I found Christy. Christy has guided me through two pregnancies and the births of both of my beautiful daughters. I cannot fully express how much these experiences changed me.
I first found Christy when I was pregnant with my first child. I unfortunately miscarried in the first trimester- I was around 10 weeks pregnant and was seeing an OBGYN at a local hospital while also considering a nearby birth center or home birth. Shortly after my miscarriage, I found out that I was pregnant again! The first thing that I did was contact Christy, and luckily she still had openings in my estimated due date timeframe. I remember the first day that my husband and I went to Christy’s house for a visit. It was a strange but comforting feeling to be welcomed into her home instead of waiting in an office over an hour past my appointment time. I immediately knew that I connected with Christy and that she would be a good fit for us. With Christy, I never felt like a number or like I was being passed around to different Doctors who checked my vitals to make sure the baby and I were healthy but wouldn’t remember my name. I didn’t have to worry which Doctor was going to be at the hospital when I delivered my baby, or whether my wishes for delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, etc. would be considered. My appointments with Christy covered all of the necessary check-ins for vital signs plus check-ins about my emotional well-being, nutrition, exercise, and all of the “real life” stuff that helps you prepare for bringing a new life into the world. I am a very sensitive person and generally want to be left alone when sick or in pain. Because of this, I knew that aside from Christy and her assistant the only people I wanted present at my birth were my husband, my sister and one of our best friends who also happens to be a doula.
Our first daughter’s estimated due date was December 7th, 2012. Days came and went, with no signs that she intended to make an entrance anytime soon. I came down with the flu sometime around 41 weeks and, as you would imagine, was really fatigued and emotionally drained. Christy sent me for the non-stress tests every other day to ensure everything was going well with baby. That Wednesday, December 19th the Dr. at the ultrasound clinic said that it looked like the placenta was aging and it would be best to have the baby by Friday, the 21st. At that point, I had tried most of the recommended labor inducing strategies – long walks, intercourse, some nipple stimulation, etc. The only thing left prior to being induced was the one I dreaded, and feared the most…castor oil. Thursday afternoon I called my sister and asked her to come to our house. She arrived at 5 pm, just as I was downing my castor oil milkshake. 3 hours later, I was in labor and it was INTENSE right off the bat. I had grand plans of a water birth, but the oh-so-tiny water heater in the South Philly row home we were renting had a different idea. My sister got out our biggest pots to boil water and help warm up the tub, which was situated in Camille’s closet-sized nursery on the second floor (spoiler alert: I never made it to the tub). I had taken up shop on the third floor –totally naked, windows open, pacing between our bedroom and bathroom for hours, making noises that my husband said he has never heard before. Christy arrived around 11 or so and checked to see how I was progressing. I was only slightly dilated and my support team hunkered down for what it seemed would be a long night. A few hours went by and my contractions became longer and closer together. Eventually, I found my body bearing down on its own and was trying my best to hold back because Christy had checked me again and I was still only a few centimeters dilated. If I pushed prior to my cervix opening, it could cause swelling and pain and could potentially make the delivery more complicated. Christy and my husband Josh helped me breathe through contractions and eventually had me lay down on my side on the bed. I remember feeling like a caged animal but Christy supported me, encouraged me to relax and directed Josh in helping me work through the pain. I begged her to break my water but she encouraged me to wait it out and trust my body. I still remember the empathy in Josh’s face as he slowly helped me breathe through contractions “hee, hee, whoooo”. At some point, I ended up back in the bathroom, laboring on the toilet and some blood came out. Christy said that was a good sign and that things were changing and decided to check my cervix again. I will never forget the shock and joy on her face when she looked up at me and said something to the effect of “I don’t know how this happened so quickly, but if you’re ready to go…you can push with your next contraction”! I quickly decided that I did not want my baby to be born on the toilet, so I asked to go into the bedroom. I stopped before I crossed the threshold of the door and asked Josh to put the shower curtain down on the carpet so that I wouldn’t ruin it (I’m sure Angelo, our former landlord is out there somewhere thanking me for that moment of clarity). Josh quickly obliged, I got into a squatting position, and with a few pushes I delivered our precious baby girl!!! Camille Evette Kwedar was born at 4:04 am. She was 21.5 inches long, 8 lbs. 8 oz. of squishy faced perfection. Christy checked the baby and kept an eye on me while her assistants were like little elves, cleaning up all of the birth supplies, bringing me food to eat, and letting Josh and I have time with our sweet new babe while my sister captured photos of our first moments as a new family. It was the happiest day of my life.
Last summer, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second child! I immediately reached out to Christy to let her know we were expecting as I know her schedule fills up quickly. My husband and I were on the fence about another home birth because we moved from the city to the suburbs and did not live as close to a hospital in the event that I would need to transfer. Additionally, this pregnancy was a bit more rocky from the start because I needed an emergency appendectomy when I was about 6 weeks pregnant. I voiced my concerns to Christy we discussed them at length. We both thought it would be best if I saw an OBGYN after my appendectomy. I found a wonderful provider at a midwife-friendly practice and was told that I was at no higher risk because of my appendectomy and ultimately decided that I could not imagine having anyone but Christy attend my next birth. We were treated with the same kindness, thoughtfulness, and attentiveness throughout this pregnancy.
The weeks came and went much more quickly this time around and before I knew it, I was desperately waiting for baby to arrive. Once full-term, I had some test results come back after bouts with nausea that showed slightly elevated platelet counts, so Christy sent me to consult with the OBGYN again. The OBGYN gave me the clear to wait things out and see when baby decided to come. 41 weeks in, I woke up at 4 am to a bloody show. I woke my husband up to ask him if he thought I should call Christy. He said “yes’’ and went back to bed. I texted her a picture (something I’m assuming you wouldn’t do with an OBGYN) and she told me to keep her posted if my contractions started. 40 minutes later I was in labor. I went downstairs, did the dishes, straightened up in the kitchen and labored until around 7 am when Christy encouraged me to wake my husband and have him take our older daughter to daycare. Christy and Josh both arrived about 7:45 and by 9:46 am our second beautiful daughter was earth side! Penelope Rae Kwedar weighed in at 8 lbs. 7 oz., 21.5 inches long and delicious as can be. Labor and delivery were much different the second time around. I totally opted out of the birthing pool because I didn’t want the stress of fussing with it and thought that I would probably want to pace around like I did when laboring with Camille. This time I spent most of my time laboring over the toilet or squatting on the stool. Christy eventually coaxed me onto my side on the bed (I was not very happy about it at the time, but I am thankful now) and I ended up giving birth flat on my back, which I totally did not expect! Penny had her fist up by her face and the cord was wrapped around her neck and her body, but Christy and Asasiya were extremely diligent, making sure that she was healthy!
Christy absolutely practices compassionate, women-centered care. I have felt so supported by Christy through pregnancies, post-pregnancy care, intermittent check-ins about emotional well-being, etc. I truly love and respect Christy and am forever thankful for the impact that she has had in my life.