When my husband Paul and I discovered we were pregnant, I immediately knew that the choices we would make about our baby’s delivery would be among the most important decisions of our lives. Every mother wants the birth of their child to be sacred and special, and I was no different, but having had a history of abnormal pelvic exams, multiple biopsies, and LEEP surgery, I had been told by several OB/GYNs that there was a good chance I would have a high risk pregnancy. In the beginning it seemed like the only option for my delivery would be a hospital birth, but I knew I wanted to explore all other options first, so Paul and I began a dialogue about an all natural, home water birth, and placed a few calls to people we knew who had also sought out alternatives to the hospital. I am forever grateful that we did our homework, because it ultimately led us to the woman who would become our midwife and deliver our son.
During our first consultation, Sybille assured us that home birth was indeed an option post-LEEP, and even brought with her a list of things I could do homeopathically to encourage the integrity of my cervix. Based on that visit alone I knew home birth was for me, however we decided co-care was the best solution for my potentially “high risk” situation. I began prenatal care with both an OBGYN on the island, and with Sybille, with the intention to deliver at home if my pregnancy progressed normally. By 32 weeks I was given the green light by my OBGYN to deliver at home, and Sybille took over my prenatal care exclusively.
I have to say that having co-care gave me valuable insights into the way that pregnancy and birth are treated within the current medical community and supported by midwifery. While I am certain that every woman’s experience is different, for me the human investment Sybille put into the prenatal and postpartum care I received was above and beyond anything I experienced at the hospital. Our visits lasted an hour or longer each and every time (10 minutes at the OBGYN’s), and never felt route or clinical. She was always attentive to my individual needs, and I could feel her compassion not only in her voice but also in her touch.
By most accounts the birth of our son Griffin was fast. Griffin was born on Friday the 18th of December 2009, and it was without a doubt the single most wonderful experience of my life. I don’t know what it would have been like to deliver in the hospital, because I didn’t. But I do know that my birthing experience flowed easily for me because we were surrounded by the comforts of our own home and had Sybille as our guide.
At 6 o’clock, the evening of the 18th, my water broke. By 7:30 p.m. Paul, Isabella and I returned home and no sooner did we walk in the front door then I took to my hands and knees and the work of labor began. Isabella brought me my yoga mat and I crawled onto it in front of our living room hearth. By 8:00 o’clock p.m. the contractions were so close together I hardly had time to think in between, and when Sybille came in through our back door at 8:30 I was fairly sure it was Griffin’s head I could feel between my legs. At once Sybille got down on the floor with me and confirmed that the baby was indeed crowning. I felt her reassuring touch and knew immediately that I’d see my son soon. I remember her saying something like “We have to get you out of these clothes, you’re about to have a baby in your pants!”. I would have laughed had I been able. She guided me through two more pushes and then suggested I reach down and take hold of my baby. Time-stopping waves of joy cascaded over me as I followed her calming directives. No one could have know things would progress so quickly, but because of the solid care we had received, and the preparations we had made, everyone in our family felt secure in our ability to flow with Griffin’s birth.
Paul and I enjoyed the intimacy of our son’s first breaths of air without the glare of halogen lights, the noise of strange voices, or the intrusiveness of a set protocol. We stayed physically connected to Griffin the entire time he was cleaned and swaddled. When it was time for his first postpartum assessment, we simply transitioned from the living room into our bedroom, and Paul and I both held his tiny fingers as he was examined in the comfort of our very own bed.
I feel very lucky to have had the birth experience that I had, and to have had the support both prenatally and postnatally that I received from Sybille. Griffin’s delivery was not without its surprises, but it was exactly what Paul and I had hoped for.
As a father with a previous birth experience, I have been fortunate to share first hand, the joy of being present for both of my children’s births. The first experience was a successful hospital birth; the most recent, an equally successful home birth.
Just as Caitlin told in her story: everything about our birth experience, from the personal, customized and unhurried prenatal care our Midwife provided, to our intimate, smooth and successful birth made a huge difference to us.
From the perspective of a dad, thanks to Sybille, I never felt marginalized or superfluous nor in the way. My questions were answered, my input sought and my participation encouraged. As a modern father this was exactly how I hoped my role in Griffin’s birth would play out. At all times, my confidence in my wife and her birth team was never disappointed.
Compared to the birth of our son, Griffin, my previous mainland experience was as different as ‘night and day’. Everything from the trouble and expense of having pre-natal visits in Plymouth throughout the pregnancy, to my nearly missing the ‘show’, made me wish we had elected to birth at home. After Isabella was born, the intrusiveness of hospital reality took hold. The constant “necessary” exams, interruptions and conditions made for a less than perfect first night. We were not able to sleep with our baby due to hospital rules, and I spent the night sitting alone in the nursery watching over Isa as she was sequestered in a plastic case. Her mother slept down the hall. Additionally, the logistical hassle of getting back to the Island with a newborn, made me wish there could be another way.
Fast forward to this past year and what a difference! We slept with our son on his first night, in our bed, in our own home with no arbitrary rules nor plastic cradle to separate our family.
Thank you, Sybille, for the enormous effort, commitment and love you put into your work!