Marlie’s Birth, by Shawn

Sep 13, 2012 by     Comments Off    Posted under: Birth Stories

I have spent hours and hours writing about Marlie’s birth, the event that we’ve come to know as “The Marlie Experience”. No matter how many hours I spend writing or how many details I include, nothing can convey the extraordinary awakening of giving birth!

It doesn’t start with the moment that my sweet baby poked her head into the world. Well, we all know that but I won’t take you back that far!

Before I was two months pregnant, my partner and I began poking around at the University of Washington Medical Center looking for some guidance on where and how we would be giving birth to our baby. We were both very excited about our expected bundle of joy but as first timers, we were rather unaware of our options and thus “in the dark”. We found that the UWMC offered midwifery care and so we decided on that particular hospital to have our baby.

You see it wasn’t a question of having a home birth, birthing center birth, or hospital birth. It was a question of which hospital we would be wildly driving to at a god-forsaken hour of the night. We never even entertained the idea of delivering outside of the hospital.

The wonderful midwives at UWMC suggested that we “step into the light” by attending a few prenatal courses at the Seattle Holistic Center. There we found ourselves surrounded by a group of incredible and conscious people. Thomas and I became empowered through our classes by gaining the knowledge that we had the ability and right to plan for the birthing experience that we had always dreamed of. Part of our dream was to have as little as possible of unnecessary interference before, during, and after giving birth. As inexperienced as we were at giving birth, my partner and I were very much aware of the fact that the birthing experience is sacred and so we set out to find ourselves a spokesperson. We were searching for a person that has assisted others in their pregnancy, labor, and delivery. A person we could relate to and connect with. A person that we would feel comfortable enough to empower with voicing and implementing our decisions created in our birthing plan. We both ruled out our mothers right away! We instead picked up a flyer and accidentally found our future doula, Kim Radtke. (Our guardians knew what they were doing!)

Our first meeting with Kim was to connect and connect we did! Over the next few months we met with Kim several times, held several phone conversations, and even attended a prenatal class together. She quickly put our minds at ease about the decisions we needed to make. She proved her ability and experience by helping prioritize our “lists” (I know you know what I’m talking about!) We soon had our birthing plan well thought out and were convinced that we had the pavement laid for the exact birthing experience we had dreamed of.

Kim encouraged us to tour the labor facilities at the UWMC sooner than later just to know what to expect. We finally scheduled our tour somewhere in our 7th month of pregnancy and were surprised to find our “sacred place of delivery” to be nothing more than a hospital room. (The birthing facilities have since changed). We went home and called Kim with our discovery. She said that she thought we might feel as we did because of the picture we’d drawn of our expected birthing experience. Kim gave us the name of a midwife named Janine Walker who could set us up to deliver at a birthing center.

“Wow! Hold everything! I’m 7-1/2 months pregnant. I’m not changing midwifery care and delivering outside of the hospital this late in the game!” I know that the hospital birthing rooms wasn’t what I expected but to deliver outside of a hospital is just a little too much for this Midwestern raised girl! …Or is it?!

We talked with Kim about birthing at a birthing center and decided to give midwife Janine a call. The moment, literally, that we walked into the birthing center and was welcomed by “The Mother” Janine, we knew we would be making some major changes in our decisions. We said goodbye to the wonderful midwifes at UWMC and began prenatal care with Janine.

Thanks to Kim I was at a place that I never dreamed I would be. I was going to deliver my baby in a birthing center. No doctors would be present, no medical staff would be on hand yet, and I felt good about it. Thomas and I were exuberant with the idea of laboring and delivering our baby in this beautiful and serene surrounding in the care of our support team Kim, Janine, and her partner midwife, Darlene. We could have never become confident in ourselves to birth outside of the hospital had it not been for Kim’s support and encouragement. This is why I’ve focused so much of our birth story on the actually steps leading up to the incredible “Marlie Experience”.

We continued our close contact with Kim asking her questions and learning from her experiences. We grew more and more confident in our ability to have our baby naturally and in a way that we felt suited who we are. We grew so confident, in fact, that we made the decision, five days past Marlie’s due date, to have Marlie at home. Now, had you asked me 10 months or even 5 months earlier if I’d consider a homebirth, I would have laughed at such a silly idea! But that is exactly what we did!!!!!!

My contractions started at 7:00 pm after winning a viscious on-going rummy game between my mother, Thomas, and me. I, of course, thought it was gas until we timed the contractions and Thomas declared, “Well, your gas pains are coming every 12-15 minutes.” We went nuts with excitement and called Kim. She told us to get some sleep so we would be rested for what lay in store for us. She said to call on her at any time we felt we needed her support. The fact that we could call her for support at any point in the laboring process allowed me to get a couple hours of sleep and to then focus on light to medium labor. Thomas called Kim at 4:00 am and asked her to come be with us. She didn’t hesitate to answer yes and soon arrived at our house.

Kim was awesome. She stayed quietly by me while I dove into increasingly challenging contractions and back labor. She said softly that I was doing exactly what needed to be done and that everything was going perfectly. Having never given birth I found her words extremely soothing! I knew that Kim would call Janine when the time was right, I knew Janine would be able to detect it if Baby or I became distressed, and I knew that Kim would see to it that Thomas and my mother were supported during this incredible experience. So I was able to let go and surrender to my primal self.

The labor continued and so did Kim’s unwavering support. During the next several hours Kim assisted the midwives, comforted my Mother’s nervousness, encouraged Thomas as a wonderful partner to my laboring, suggested and supported me in several laboring positions, and silently acted as a gentle and strong wall for us all to lean on.

Marlie Claire Wilkerson was born naturally and in the “caul” (the amniotic sac was still intact, this is viewed as a good omen by many) at 2:32 pm on November 23, 1998. It was the most incredible experience of my life. Thomas and my mother share in my declaration.

Words cannot express the bliss and wonderment of such an incredible event. Nor can words express the gratitude toward those who give themselves to insure the safety and comfort of families to make their dreams of giving birth come true!

With an eternity of love and light to Kim, Janine, Darlene, Thomas, and my mother, Virginia.

In bliss… Mama and Baby!

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