I love all things baby, and from the exciting moment I found out I was pregnant, I dreamed of the kind of birth I wanted to have – bringing my babe into this world in the most natural way possible. My husband had vetoed my home birth idea, but I continued to read every birthing book I could get my hands on. Due to a doctor’s recommendation back in Tennessee, I was seeing a Perinatal Specialist OB-GYN. The busy practice had two doctors, both male, who were friendly and undoubtedly knowledgeable, yet not quite what I had in envisioned in my Ina May Gaskin fueled birth fantasies.
Midway through my pregnancy, we made a big move that meant not only finding a new home, but finding new healthcare providers as well. After exhaustive research, I was delighted to find a midwifery practice less than a mile from our house – West Suburban Women’s Health in Willowbrook, Illinois. This unique practice combined the skills and knowledge of five doctors and four midwives, all women, to create a uniquely caring team. Though I was initially caught off guard by the difference from my previous practice – no hospital-like environment, no long white lab coats, no loud crowded waiting room – I was instantly enamored with the compassion that I felt upon meeting my first midwife, Karen.
Throughout the course of my pregnancy I had the opportunity to meet each wonderful midwife multiple times. Karen, Gillian, Patty, and Sherri each had their own unique talents and personalities, but they all clearly shared the same passion for mothers, babies, and the crazy beautiful journey of birth.
Beyond the care of the midwives, I was blown away by the other incredible resources that West Suburban Women’s Health offers. We took advantage of each and every one of their pre-birth and parenting classes. Being new to the area, it was as much an excuse to meet other parents-to-be – to find our village – as it was to hone our parenting skills. And sure enough, we met some of our closest friends though those classes. Once the baby arrives, they also provide a weekly free new mother and breastfeeding support group which has become my sanity saver; many weeks my sole social outlet. Not to mention the group’s incredible teacher / guru / brilliant Lactation Consultant, Patty Janicek, who has become like a third grandmother to our child. The midwifery mindset spills out into all aspects of the practice, and I am so grateful to be the beneficiary.
So, when the big day came to give birth, I wasn’t in it alone. By my side stood (and knelt and lay and crouched) Karen – ironically the first midwife I met. She was my champion as I went to battle. Calmly encouraging me through the unknown, firmly pushing me when I thought I couldn’t go on. And as my daughter came into this world, it was exactly what I had hoped for but never could have imagined. Not the fanfare of doctors racing in last minute, surgical masks and yelling and bright lights, but Karen softly saying to me, “Reach down and grab your baby.”
This is the way birth should be – surrounded by support before, during, and after the glorious experience. Then walking alongside a tribe of other warrior mommas who are all going through the journey of birthing and parenthood together.