When you're pregnant - especially with your first - you feel vulnerable...at least I did. I wanted people by our side who would help us learn the things we didn't know we needed to know; people who would care about what we wanted and help provide us all sides of information as we went along so we could make the best decisions possible. My husband and I found those people in our midwife team, including Michelle, Jes, and a student midwife, Jessi.  After our very first appointment with each of them, my husband and I would get in the car and talk about how much we liked them - caring, genuine, and extremely knowledgeable. My husband is a chiropractor, so impressing him with knowledge of the human body takes some real evidence of knowing your stuff - Michelle, Jes, and Jessi consistently impressed him.

The appointments leading up to birth set the foundation, but the days close to and including our birth are really what set the halos over these ladies' heads for us. As we continued past our due date, Jes helped lead us through every natural way possible of bringing about labor. We were 13 days past the due date, and while it seemed the whole world was asking if we were going to induce labor, Jes was was patient, understanding, and positive - everything we needed to mirror her outlook as we waited for the right time for baby to join us.  

Labor started suddenly and intensely, skipping stage 1 and launching right into stage 2. As we arrived at the birthing center, contractions barely let me get from the car to the front door before another contraction hit. Both Michelle and Jessi were there, ready to help and calm and partner with us. I wasn't expecting labor to be so hard so quickly and Michelle explained my body went right to Stage 2 labor, so what I was experiencing exactly what Stage 2 holds for laboring women. Those words calmed my anxious heart and helped to focus my mind on the work the next few hours held for us.

Michelle and Jessi allowed me to labor as was comfortable for my body. For me, that meant a little leaning on the bed, a little on the toilet, and then mostly in the warm tub. As contractions increased in intensity, they were both verbally supportive of the work both baby and me were doing. How I needed to hear their claims of "Good job!" and "Keep going - you're doing great!" This was my first baby, so I felt like I didn't exactly know what I was doing. I followed my body and kept my mind focused and as calm as possible, but their encouragement in their composure and words of affirmation helped boost my confidence and keep working as hard and as positive as I could. Every time they checked baby's heart rate, they let me know she was okay. Intuitively they knew when I needed my space and then when I needed them present. They cared for my husband as well so he could support me as we labored - it was his first time to go through this, too, so looking out for him was important.

All this helped me to trust them when they told me I needed to change positions to assist baby moving down the birth canal.  The new position I knew would bring pain, but I believed their wisdom and guidance. Never once was I self-conscious about how I was laboring because their encouragement was so abundant. With their guidance, our sweet baby girl joined us in a mere 5 hours and 42 minutes!! Even after she was born, their encouragement continued and I felt like superwoman! Truly - we worked together and what a team!

Both Michelle and Jessi explained every step after the birth: birthing the placenta, making sure my uterus was clotting correctly, Apgar tests for baby, baby latching for our first nursing, what to do after we all went home.  They even picked up some food for my husband and brought it to us! They stayed with us until we left the birthing center, never rushing us, and even made  sure we got to the car okay.

The next day both Michelle and Jessi came to our house for a follow up for me and baby. I needed stitches due to tearing and they both handled it beautifully.  They were honest, caring, and helped me understand what was going to happen before it took place. What made the biggest impact on my mom was the fact that they wanted to know how I was doing EMOTIONALLY.  No question was too small and they took their time with us, giving us their full attention and energy.

As I look back, Jes, Michelle, and Jessi empowered us to do what we believed was best for our new little family, while providing their expertise and suggestions. Decisions were always ours to make and they supported us through them all. Our family was prioritized and SAFE in their care - I know yours will be, too.

So thankful and blessed!

Craig, Claire, and Grace Watson