Birth Stories/Testimonials

Weighing Simone at 2 weeks

Below are a few stories of transfers from home and births at home. Thank you to those who offered to share their stories. Often, the request for a birth story is answered with a testimonial of midwifery care. These experiences and stories are also included below.

Birth Story of Sofie & Simone
Birth Story of Rheya
Birth Story of Clementine
Birth Story of Lily Emma Rose
Birth Story of Asimah
Birth Story of Kumani
Birth Story of Hugo
Birth Story of Kenneth
Birth Story of Rowan
Birth Story of Castiel

 

Birth Story of Sofie & Simone
Tehmina was at the birth of both of my daughters: the first as a doula & the second as a student midwife. My husband and I will forever be grateful to her for her patience, knowledge, and support.

I called her often throughout both of my pregnancies, and she always responded in a calm and kind way. She’s an excellent listener, and this talent was priceless during a time when my worries, fears, questions, and insecurities seemed to be taking over.  My husband appreciated how much she involved him in our discussions and decision-making. She helped him understand how vital his role was throughout the entire process. She provided information and resources on any issue that came up, and we learned that her honest and non-judgmental approach made us feel truly comfortable in talking with her about any questions we had. What I loved even more than that, though, was how she made me feel empowered to trust my body, my baby, and my own instincts during pregnancy and childbirth. When it comes to our bodies, many times we’re encouraged to “talk with an expert” about what’s happening and what we should do about it. Tehmina made me feel like I was the expert on what was happening. Rather than giving me the “right” answers, she gave me relevant and helpful information that showed us there is no one “right way” to have a successful pregnancy and childbirth.

During childbirth, she was a calming and strong presence—–there when we needed her, and a silent supporter when we didn’t. Her words of encouragement, her suggestions, and her dedication to helping me through the process, had an enormous impact on my belief that I could do it.

Every pregnant woman deserves to have someone who will listen to her, advocate for her, support her, and believe in her. Tehmina does all of these things, and she’s passionate about doing them well. I feel so lucky to have had her by my side, and I whole-heartedly recommend her to anyone considering a midwife’s support during pregnancy and childbirth.

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Birth Story of Rheya
We hired Tehmina for the birth of our second child.  After our initial meeting with her we felt encouraged, empowered and, most importantly, confident that we were choosing a capable and qualified person to lead our birth team. From the start throughout our pregnancy, she relieved any fears we might have had with her awesome attention to detail, research, compassion, and check-ins before and after our visits.

Baby Rheya

Baby Rheya

Alicia’s thoughts: I would never have imagined the day of our long awaited birth of our daughter Rheya would be so calm. Of course, every imaginable detail had been long since answered or entertained at our prenatal visits with Tehmina, but still you think something might be overlooked. That was not the case with Tehmina. Her care was impeccable and I felt continuously spoiled at prenatal visits with her calm, unrushed care. Although my labor was brief, she arrived and fell right into the zone that my family had already established during inactive labor. She helped me pace the delivery so that I would be safe and heal faster. I appreciated her ability to provide so many options for outcomes and yet empower my individual decisions.  Tehmina’s wealth of knowledge and passion made it easy for me to focus on my hopes and desires for our birth.

Matthew’s thoughts: I was terrified about the concept of a home birth. Our firstborn came into the world in a cozy, liberal-minded hospital, and my wife and I both agreed that we could not proceed with a home birth unless I felt as comfortable as she did about the process. Births have many variables and my lizard brain kept defaulting to what I should be worrying about in terms of emergencies and worst case scenarios. Tehmina was patient, thorough, and clear in answering the plethora of questions that I lobbed at her in the weeks leading up to our birth. When our big day finally arrived, I felt oddly calm. Our baby emerged into the world like a rocket, into my arms. As expected, Tehmina guided us through, was careful and kind, and made us feel relaxed, capable, and most importantly, safe.

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Birth Story of Clementine
When my husband, Scott, and I decided to have our 3rd child we knew we wanted to have a home birth this time. Although we feared that some friends and family would question our decision on the grounds that “home birth is unsafe,” we knew better. Our first born, Jeremy, was born in a hospital and not just any hospital but a top rated hospital. Despite the high ranks of the hospital our birth experience was a nightmare! Because Jeremy was a measly 3 days late my ob/gyn induced me with Pitocin. Poor Jeremy was born with severe brain damage and spent the first 3 weeks of his life in the NICU. Because of his traumatic birth he lived to be only 4 months old.

With our 2nd child we gave birth in a different hospital with a different doctor. I was older and wiser this time around and knew that I could speak up for my baby and myself and that if my doctor didn’t seem like a good fit I was prepared to switch. I had watched “The Business of Being Born” and read quite a few books about how childbirth is handled in America. I felt terrible I had been so naive with Jeremy’s pregnancy and birth. I vowed not to be bullied into an induction this time. Although we would have loved to have Abigail born at home we were living in Illinois at the time and were unsure of the laws regarding midwives and home birth. We sort of halfheartedly looked into it. I decided to go with a doctor who had midwives on staff – I thought that was a pretty good middle ground. The doctor I chose was a great fit for us, although because of what had happened to Jeremy, she was a bit more hands-on than I would have liked. She did let me go 2 weeks past my due date which was amazing…but again I was induced. This time around, my doctor just broke my water which seemed way less intrusive than Pitocin. Abby’s birth was pretty amazing. Although it could have been better in a lot of ways, I was really happy with the way it went.

Nursing postpartum

Baby Clementine and Elysha

On to Clementine’s birth story. I knew before we moved to Wisconsin that I wanted to have another baby. I looked up midwives and home birth laws in Wisconsin and was so happy to see there were so many practicing midwives around town. Now to pick one! At the time we were living in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and the neighborhood newsletter had written about Tehmina as a community midwife. I also saw a flyer of hers at the local coffee shop, Johnson Public House. I looked her up and read her story on the computer. I felt a connection to her almost immediately, especially since she was friends with an African-American male home birth midwife. The doctor who helped my mom bring me into the world was also an African-American male doctor who did home births! It felt right that Tehmina should be our midwife. We met with her and I just felt so at peace with her. We told her all about our Jeremy and I was a bit worried that she would turn us away for fear that this pregnancy would end badly but she had confidence in me and my baby so she accepted us without any hesitations.

Once during the first trimester I had some spotting. I was really scared that I would lose my baby and was really worried. I called Tehmina and she came over to my house and talked with me and took my blood to check my hcg levels. She even called me later that night to check on me! I felt so loved and cared for….something I had never felt with a doctor. I knew I had made the right choice deciding to have a home birth. Scott agreed too. After every appointment with Tehmina, which was full of laughter, we would go home and talk about how happy we were with Tehmina and how excited we were to meet our baby.

Towards the end of my pregnancy I was getting a little worried that something would go wrong. Again, Tehmina was there to talk to and she was so reassuring. I also got worried that my body wouldn’t go into labor by itself. I had never done it before. Even with Abby I went 2 weeks past the due date and nothing had happened. I was now almost a week late…what would we do if my body didn’t go into labor on its own? But Tehmina didn’t seem worried at all and advised me to pamper myself – go on a date with Scott, eat chocolate, and go for walks, anything that made me happy and increased my oxytocin. So I relaxed and sure enough, one week past my due date, on February 12th around 11:30 at night I started having contractions! I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I woke Scott up but didn’t call Tehmina until later. The contractions started really mild and slowly worked up to be more powerful. Around 3 am Abby woke up, our good friend, Bronwen, showed up, and so did Tehmina. I just wanted to be left alone while laboring…I wasn’t angry…I just wanted to concentrate on birthing my baby. Poor Scott tried to give me a massage once and I told him not to. I didn’t need it – I could walk around my house to take my mind off the pain. In the hospital I was confined to the bed so I needed the massages and the constant being talked to for me to cope with the contractions. It was wonderful to not be hooked up to all the machines like in the hospital and all the beeping and all the noises in the hospital. I wasn’t being constantly checked and I didn’t feel like I was on a timer. Tehmina checked to see how dilated I was once…I don’t remember how many times the doctors and nurses checked me when I was in labor with my other babies. It was wonderful how much of the birth I had control over. It was really empowering.

Clementine & family postpartum

Baby Clementine, Abby, Scott & Elysha

At some point, maybe around 4:30 or so I didn’t look at the clock so I’m just guessing, I wanted to be in the birthing tub. The contractions were really strong and just walking around wasn’t doing the trick anymore. The tub wasn’t as full as we all would have liked it to be. We had used up all the hot water so Tehmina and Leah, her assistant, had boiled water to pour into the tub. I remember thinking that was really funny and so cliché! Once I got in the tub I had a huge desire to push so I just went with it. Again I remember thinking how amazing it was that I didn’t have to ask permission to push like I did at the hospital and I could just let my body and baby do their thing. They knew what they were doing and didn’t need anybody telling them what to do or when to do it. My water ended up breaking in the birthing tub. Clementine’s actual birth was really kind of magical. I would have a contraction and I’d push then I would relax. During the relaxing part I looked at my stomach and I could see Clementine in there moving all about! Abby came in the room during this time too and that was really amazing. I had worried it might be too scary for her. But she had never seen the movies or TV shows where the mom is screaming and yelling. She didn’t go into this with any preconceived notions on how birth is this scary thing that women are supposed to fear. She went into it completely innocent and she was a big help to me. When Clementine’s head was crowning Abby shouted out, “Mama! I see the baby’s head!” Her smile was so big and her eyes were so full of wonder that I forgot I was supposed to be in pain. Yes, it still hurt but it had a purpose and that made it not feel so bad. My sweet Clementine Mae was born at 5:33am February 13, 2013. She weighed 8lbs 12oz and was 19 inches long.

We are so grateful to Tehmina for accompanying us on this journey. It was so refreshing to go into the pregnancy with a caregiver who trusted in my body to birth a healthy baby and who wasn’t expecting something to go wrong. With Tehmina it felt more than just a patient and caregiver relationship….I felt like we were all equals and friends. I never once felt talked down to or bullied into doing something I didn’t want to do. My only regret is that we didn’t have Tehmina’s help having our first 2 babies.

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Birth Story of Lily Emma Rose
If confidence about birth was a superpower, I was a pregnant superhero.  As a doula, a Dancing For Birthinstructor, and an acupuncturist specializing in pregnancy and postpartum, I really thought I had all bases covered.  I had attended Lamaze classes, Hypnobirthing classes, and multiple breastfeeding classes and had friends in the “birth” world who taught me a lot through their experiences.

I was so confident that I was even reluctant at first to have a midwife present at my birth.  When my husband and I met with Tehmina for the first time, one of our questions was “Can you just sit at the door and come in if we need you?” which of course, was outside her scope of practice!

During prenatal meetings, Tehmina was present with me as if I was the only person on the planet.  She is an amazing listener and though she is wise and knows her stuff, she doesn’t push it in your face but rather lets you come to your own conclusions and make your own decisions.  I am Rh negative with an Rh positive husband, so that was one issue we had to work out.  Tehmina was very thorough in the options available to us and was supportive of our unique decision to get antibody tests during pregnancy and Rhogam postpartum.  I was thrilled that this was an option.

Pregnancy (at least the last two trimesters) was an easy experience for me with no real complications.  However, I can feel pain in my heart as I remember my actual birth experience.  It was WAY more difficult than I thought it would be.  I have friends who wouldn’t even describe their births as “painful” and look back on it fondly, so what I had in mind as an expectation for my birth WAS possible… it just WASN’T what Lily had planned!

LER

Baby Lily

Thank goodness I was at home, because I had the space (and the time!) to do what I needed to do.  Tehmina came with her birthing tub, so I labored some in there and some in my own tub without water in it (the cold felt nice).  I had THREE doulas present (quite a transition after my first reaction to not want any doulas at all!) and was so grateful for their presence.  I didn’t know my body could feel that much pain, and nothing would relieve it.  A hand to hold during the contractions or positive words didn’t change the sensations I was feeling, but made the situation just seem better.  Towards the end, after my water broke, it took two people bearing down on my tailbone with all their weight to provide enough counter-pressure for me, and as I pushed, my hands were too weak to hold anything, so the doulas held my outstretched hands as I pulled against them.

Finally, at 1:29am, 16 hours after my labor began, Lily Emma Rose emerged in the birthing tub (of all places cause it could have been anywhere!) surrounded by candles and my loving birth team.  She didn’t emerge without help though, as her hand was next to her head preventing the rest of her body from coming out.  Though her head was birthed into my husband’s hands (who was guided by the midwives to check for the cord), her arm had to be guided over her head so that the rest of her body could fit.  After falling into Tehmina and Leah’s arms, Lily ended up on my chest as I lay in the tub.  Everyone was sure I was having a boy including my husband and I, so the little girl in my arms was quite a surprise!

After I birthed the placenta, my uterus was EXHAUSTED after hours of pushing and I started to bleed excessively. Tehmina, though I have never seen her like this before or since, became direct and assertive ensuring I get out of the tub as quickly as possible as I was starting to feel faint (and, being the sweet person she is, later apologized for being so “pushy!”).

After that, it was a rush of events to prevent me from needing to be transferred to the hospital.  Nothing was working to get my uterus to firm up and I just kept bleeding.  Tehmina kept me aware of what was going on and asked before performing any procedure, but in her care, I received an IV of fluids and Pitocin, an injection of Pitocin, Misoprostol, ate pieces of my placenta raw out of Tehmina’s hands (love her for offering this) and had a lot of manual therapy to help stop the bleeding.  After the bleeding stopped, Tehmina consulted with my primary physician to ensure that all bases were covered and that everyone agreed I was in stable condition to stay home.  I felt like I was in very safe hands.

Never once did I check to make sure Tehmina would bring all of this equipment with her to my birth or to see if she’d be able to talk to my doctor in the middle of the night, but I am SO glad she did. Though I was quite certain I wouldn’t need much at my birth, Tehmina was fully prepared to step in if the going got tough (and for me, it did!).  But more than just being prepared for the worst, Tehmina has a meditative quality about her that is such a blessing.  Her calmness, clarity and presence of mind kept my birth sacred despite the unavoidable detours from my birth plan.  I never once felt like something was done without my permission or against my wishes (even though much of my birth didn’t go “as planned”).

Postpartum visit

Postpartum visit at home; Lauran & Lily

Postpartum visits at my house were so sweet and so helpful because I honestly couldn’t make it out of the house (we’re on the third floor) for two weeks due to fatigue and recovery.  My baby didn’t have to get in a car until she was two months old (and that wasn’t a “need” either but just to get out!).

Finally, if it weren’t for Tehmina, we would have had no choice but to birth in a hospital due to financial reasons.  My husband and I (and baby) are eternally grateful for Tehmina’s hard work to make midwifery accessible and for her sliding scale.  It is a worthy cause. We’ll definitely be calling her number when/if baby #2 decides to make its entrance!

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Birth Story of Asimah
This was my first birth. My membranes were stripped five times by my doctor/midwife team because I was 2 weeks and 4 days overdue. I called Tehmina to make sure this was the real thing because I had false alarms for the past couple weeks. We timed the contractions and I was so excited. I was so ready to conquer the contractions and meet this little person who had been kicking me from the inside.

KM family

Baby Asimah, Ibrahim & Kenia

My labor lasted for a total of 22 hours. I went into labor around 2pm; we called Tehmina around 5pm. I stopped dilating at 6 centimeters and we thought the baby might be in a posterior position. This position magnified the contractions for me. We tried many different things to change her position but nothing worked. I was so looking forward to having this birth at home but it was looking more and more unlikely. I was stuck dilating and breaking the bag didn’t seem like a good idea in case that got her stuck even more. We packed up and headed to the hospital around 4 am the next morning.

We arrived at the hospital. The nurses and doctors bombarded me relentlessly firing question after question. I was not in the talking mood. I was exhausted and in pain. Tehmina was my midwife. She was my representative. She had my best interest at heart. As soon as the nurse asked me a question I asked her to please talk to my midwife. My midwife knew what I wanted in terms of a birth plan, even though we were at the hospital.

My back-up doctor was wonderful. My husband and I joked that the M.D. behind her name stood for Midwife in Disguise. She completely supported and respected midwifery. As she was checking me at the hospital, my water broke! A few hours later, my beautiful baby girl, Asimah, arrived. It was 11:29 am on October the 9th 2013.

KM baby

Kenia & Baby Asimah

I could not have been more blessed. I had a wonderful pregnancy. I didn’t get the home birth I wanted but I definitely got the midwife. Tehmina, thank you for everything. You have a quality in you that can not be taught. You are so human it is unbelievably overwhelming. You are the BOMB DIGGITY.

P.S. When I get pregnant again, I’m coming all the way back from Alaska to plan a home birth!

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Birth Story of Kumani
Kodi’s thoughts:
My birth experience was amazing! From our first meeting with our midwife, my husband and I both felt that she was exactly the midwife we were looking for.

With our first baby we were “strongly advised” to take drugs to progress labor, however these drugs eventually led to a cesarean section which was something we were hoping to avoid.

I was 7 months along before we starting pursuing alternate choices for having our second child. After being told by one doctor that African American women have odd shaped pelvic bones that impede natural birthing – and a second doctor telling us that we would be on a four hour time limit to deliver naturally before they would “advise” an intervention; my husband and I were anxious to find another way.

Luckily we found Tehmina – and everything about her was right. She has such a calm demeanor and even though I was nervous and had fears of not being able to deliver naturally, Tehmina always had words of comfort, strength and encouragement. I was reminded that my body was capable to birth a baby – and that I could listen to it and trust my instincts as a woman. We were also given tons of information about what to expect before, during and after our daughter’s birth.

KH 1

Kodi & Baby Kumani; photo taken by Jahquay Hyles

All of my negative preconceived ideas of midwifery and home birthing were shattered – every visit with Tehmina was like talking with a friend, she made us feel comfortable and confident in the decisions we were making as parents. She was always respectful, professional and open to our questions & ideas. Every visit she checked the position and vitals of our little one – and we were offered all the general testing that’s offered in a doctor’s office. We talked thoroughly about how we would monitor the baby during labor too.

When the big day finally arrived we were ready in every sense of the word. In my experience natural birthing is more mental than it is physical – and Tehmina helped me to grasp that. About 70% of my labor I was out and about, running errands – when my water broke we called Tehmina and the next thing I knew there was a birthing tub in my living room and our baby was entering the world!

The postnatal care was just as wonderful as the prenatal. We were given referrals for doctors that would be a good fit for our needs as a family as well as information and support in regards to becoming new parents again. Tehmina has many connections and good relationships with lots of people in the medical field. I’ve never felt so close and so cared for by a medical care provider – Tehmina became like family to us.

My birth experience was so awesome that I often forget that I had a baby in my living room with NO DRUGS! It was calm, serene and non-traumatic, I believe there are several factors as to why I had such a positive birth experience and my midwife was a huge part of that.

Jahquay’s thoughts: As an African-American, I can’t express how deeply grateful I feel for Tehmina acting as my wife’s midwife before, during, and after the birth of my daughter. Our experience dealing with the traditional methods of the prenatal care wasn’t up to the standard we felt would support us. My wife being labeled a VBAC was like a dark cloud that followed us at the mention of her wishing to have a natural birth for our 2nd child. We were discouraged at every turn and received little support and very little information about what a natural birth could be like as an alternative to the automatic cesarean.

After having such a poor experience dealing with doctors for 7 months I began a search for alternatives to have the birth experience my wife and I had been discussing for quite some time. I located Tehmina’s website with just 1.5 months or so before my wife’s due date. Tehmina had an opening and took us on as a client, but I had no idea she would become so much more than our midwife.

Tehmina just didn’t offer us midwifery services, but a sense of dignity in the birthing process and the affirmation of ownership over the decisions we made about the birth of our daughter. From the perspective of a partner, husband, friend, and confidant of my wife, Tehmina acknowledged my presence and aforementioned roles (without exception), whether it was at the beginning of our appointments, during, or as we left. This was something that I felt greatly lacking in my experience attending doctor’s visits with my wife.

She always took the time to ask me if I had questions or about how I was feeling things were going. She offered suggestions about how I could help during the pregnancy, birth, and post birth experience. This made me feel as though I had a contribution to offer and that I wasn’t just on the sidelines. I was an integral part of my child being brought forth and that mattered greatly to me. I couldn’t imagine life without my daughter, but like the meaning of her name she was destined to be in this world. I’m just glad her path of destiny was bridged with Tehmina’s.

KH 2

Baby Kumani; photo taken by Jahquay Hyles

Tehmina’s ability to empathize, support, and inform us with knowledge that affirms your ability to make educated choices is by far what impressed me so much about her. From the books, documentaries, or deep personal and professional knowledge/experience, Tehmina was a well of information. Even after my baby girl was born she would offer solutions that amazed us and we just wouldn’t have thought of. She was a life saver when it came to calming our little one’s colic.

The birthing experience for me as a man being at my wife’s side was amazing. I just wanted to support her and help her in any way I could and Tehmina helped me to make sure that was possible. The environment and everything about it including the lighting, feel, sound- everything was how we wanted it to be. She helped us to develop a plan of action about how we wanted things to go before so we were very comfortable when the big day finally came. Being a part in how my daughter came into the world will be a day I will never forget.

After our time ended under the umbrella of midwife/client relationship we started to feel like, “What would we do without her?” My wife and I have commented to each other on many occasions how we couldn’t imagine if we’d been working with her for 9 months – not because we had a bad experience, but because of how great of a bond we felt with her after just 3.5 months and a baby later.  Our only regret is that we didn’t know of Tehmina and her wonderful services as a midwife sooner. Ten months later Tehmina still pays us a visit every once in a while. We get helpful emails and tips, and know that any time we have questions she’s wiling to answer them. Tehmina, to my wife and I, wasn’t just our midwife, she will always be a life long friend.

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Birth Story of Hugo: A Partner’s Perspective
We chose home birth in order to be fully empowered during pregnancy and birth, to build a more deep relationship with our care provider, to avoid unnecessary interventions if possible, and to have a peaceful, meaningful birth experience. Our ultimate goal was to give our son, Hugo, the best opportunity possible to engage the world with his full senses and reflexes uninhibited, and for the relationships between the three of us to become as grounded as possible for future growth. We worked with Tehmina as our midwife and also worked with a doula, Shanda. We also made arrangements for hospital care in case of transfer.

We were completely confident that Tehmina would communicate any signs of concern in our pregnancy and birth, and that she would be honest and firm regarding the scope of her care and recommend any intervention or transfer if or when it was necessary. At the same time, Tehmina showed profound respect for the body, emotion, and intuition in the birthing process. I think these qualities are a must for responsible, humane care for pregnancy and childbirth.

We could tell that things were progressing on a Monday night. Sue Ellen’s usual toning contractions became different. Things didn’t change much on Tuesday, but early labor began slowly that night with contractions becoming increasingly intense, though Sue Ellen was able to get some sleep. On Tuesday we spent the day in our normal routine.

Around 3:00 or 4:00 AM, Wednesday morning, the contractions became much more intense. Tehmina had told us we could call any time, and graciously answered my early morning call, encouraging us to keep doing what we were doing and rest if possible. In the morning, contractions had become mild enough that Sue Ellen was able to bake a chocolate “birthday cake.” By late afternoon, the contractions, when they came, were too intense to talk through, so we rested between.

That night, Tehmina and Shanda came over just after dark had fallen to check in. With the glow of a soft lamp, they gave Sue Ellen a massage with a lavender lotion Shanda had brought. It was beautiful to watch, a blessing and veneration. We both felt gratitude for everyone in the room.

Tehmina confirmed that we were in early labor still, so after a few hours, Shanda and Tehmina left to get their own rest and prepare for active labor. Sue Ellen and I did the best we could to rest. We spent some time sleeping, but by 1:00 AM or so, Sue Ellen could no longer sleep, and things seemed too intense to wait any longer, so we called our birth team to come over.

Active labor was intense and difficult. Hugo would be born over 19 hours from when Tehmina and Shanda arrived. We knew that first time mothers often have long labors. I don’t think it crossed our minds that we would transfer during the whole process.

Sue Ellen and baby Hugo

Sue Ellen and Baby Hugo; photo taken by Eric Miller

A theme that came up during labor was that of embracing intensity. We had to work together to prepare for and embrace the reality of intensity for a very long time. It might have been an advantage that the intensity was controlled and slow moving, giving the time needed to bring Hugo safely without medical intervention due to the fact, as we would later find out, that his hand was next to his head the entire time.

The majority of the labor experience is very difficult to put into words. This was a life and death situation. I had access to my deepest emotional states of mind, which I have tended to suppress in my daily working life, but at the same time, I felt very lucid and clear. I never felt fear and maintained complete confidence in Sue Ellen and our baby. I knew they could get through.

Looking back, however, I now have a strong awareness of how precarious pregnancy, birth, and life are. Once everything was over and settled post-birth, it felt as if we had “gotten away with something.” Which is an odd thing to say, but that is how it still feels.

Knowing how difficult it was for Sue Ellen during this labor made the experience meaningful for me. Sue Ellen transformed during these hours into a more complete woman.

Because of the amount of time it was taking, we decided to have a few vaginal exams to check dilation, even though going into this birth, we had hoped it wouldn’t be necessary. Each time, we noted slow, but steady progress. Tehmina would have told us exact numbers if we wanted, but we opted to just know whether there was progress, and to know what her recommendations for a plan would be. We are very grateful for this, as it allowed us to be in charge of our own decision-making based on how we were feeling, with confidence that we were safe. At the same time, it was very comforting for Sue Ellen to know what was going on, what to expect, and what our plan was going to be.

At one point, during a slightly longer break between contractions, Tehmina read a passage from Susan Weed’s book on relaxation. The light in the house was beautiful in this moment, and it gave us a great feeling of love.

As evening drew on and a couple progress checks later, we knew that the end was close and that we were going to have the baby in our home. With renewed confidence and energy that came from deep within, Sue Ellen began to embrace the stronger positions and worked to open up those last few millimeters. Hannah, another midwife, came to assist and pushing began around 7:45 PM, over 19 hours after Tehmina and Shanda first arrived to attend the birth.

It should be noted that Sue Ellen ate throughout the labor and even slept between contractions. It was critical that she was able to do this with such a long labor, and that our birth team was so persistent and patient about rest and eating. I know that both Shanda and Tehmina found times to break, but I’m not sure when they did so. They never showed any signs of exhaustion.

Hugo never showed signs of exhaustion, either. His heart rate was perfect every time Tehmina checked, which was often, but never intrusive.

When Hugo’s head emerged at 9:09, I had only a second to appreciate this, because then I realized that his right hand was right there with it, and then the rest of him a split second later. Sue Ellen was standing and Tehmina passed Hugo, who cried out immediately, under her legs and into her arms. He had good color, was wrinkly, and very active with his eyes and mouth. His crying subsided fairly quickly.

The cord was short. We let it finish pulsing and then cut it, perhaps a bit sooner than we would have wanted to otherwise, because Sue Ellen was unable to bring him closer to her chest.

The placenta took some time and after half an hour it was not coming out. Tehmina recommended a shot of pitocin which Sue Ellen accepted. This was a potential intervention post birth we had discussed with Tehmina in advance, and which we felt comfortable with as it would not be going into our son’s blood stream at that point. After a little less than an hour, which to me felt like a hazy ten minutes, Tehmina encouraged us to get up and sit on the toilet and just then, the placenta slipped out!

Tehmina did a thorough check on Sue Ellen and she was strong and whole. We walked straight to our bedroom, and sat down with our baby on our low bed. We had nothing to worry about because the tireless birth team took care of all the cleaning. It was a warm, wonderful feeling.

Later, we got out the chocolate birthday cake Sue Ellen had baked. Everyone had a piece, and then I helped Tehmina load up her equipment. Tehmina, carried a case bigger than her on her back as if it was nothing.

Eric and baby Hugo

Eric and Baby Hugo; photo taken by Eric Miller

We are so grateful for Tehmina, Shanda, and Hannah for the profound support they provided in this intense time.

Tehmina gave us a keepsake with words from Maya Angelou, “Love costs all we are and will ever be.” In this labor, it felt as if our very lives were at stake baring our vulnerabilities completely, emotional and physical, for the sake of love.

I also want to mention, for the sake of others bringing boys into the world, that we have chosen to leave our son’s genitals intact. It was never a question for us, though I hadn’t given much thought to how this issue had effected my own life until a week or so after the birth. I think the men of the past three or four generations who were routinely circumcised don’t know what has been lost, both in our bodily integrity, but also in emotional well-being.

We named our son Hugo Elwyn which means beautiful heart, mind, and spirt; friend of all. Our hope is that this birth experience will be a gift to Hugo, that he will be able to bond with confidence and ease to his body and experience, to us, and the world at large.

Home birth was not easy, and I would not necessarily encourage others to attempt it without a great deal of self-knowledge and self-education. Having said that, it can be a profound experience for the right people. We were fortunate to have wonderful care providers and to be able to spend a good amount of time together preparing for this birth. I feel that the amount of work this birth required has already been returned to us many times over. Our son is beautiful and seems as if he was always here with us. He is happy, alert, and has been able to enter the world gently just as we have entered this stage of our life gently. I know that this is a very difficult world to live in, and that Hugo will face many challenges in his time here. I hope these early experiences will give him a solid foundation so that he may grow and do what he needs to do while he is here.

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Birth Story of Kenneth
When my partner and I began discussing having a baby, I knew I wanted a homebirth. My prior experiences with doctors and hospitals had not been very positive – I wanted my pregnancy and birth to be different. I began to search online for homebirth midwives in the Madison area and quickly discovered that their services were not cheap. As a low-income family, we had little money to put toward a homebirth; I thought that we would be left with no choice but to go the conventional route because it would be covered by insurance.

Then I found Access Midwifery and Tehmina! Everything I read on the website resonated with me and I knew that she was the midwife I wanted to work with us.

Baby Kenneth and Jessica

Baby Kenneth and Jessica

My past experiences have made me shy and uncertain when dealing with medical professionals, but I was able to warm up to Tehmina quickly thanks to her calm manner and deep interest in me. Working with her was very empowering. I went into the pregnancy untrusting of my body and of myself, largely due to chronic health conditions that impact every aspect of my life. I’m used to my body letting me down, but Tehmina wasn’t phased by any of that and always projected great confidence in my body’s abilities and my intuition as a woman and mother. Every time an issue arose or a decision needed to be made, Tehmina quietly laid out the research, gave her opinion if asked, and then left the final decision with me. This approach was so important for me and has helped me change the way I feel about/view myself.

Early on in my pregnancy I experienced bleeding and pain that I thought meant I was miscarrying. I contacted Tehmina looking for help. I wasn’t officially a client at the time, but Tehmina answered all my questions, gave me advice, and kept checking in with me to see how I was. This showed me how deeply she cared for mothers and babies, no matter who they were. Through the entire pregnancy Tehmina promptly and thoughtfully replied to my emails, calls, and texts. Between this communication and our regular visits, we were able to form a close relationship unlike anything I’ve ever had with a medical professional. After the baby was born, this same level of caring and connection continued. I struggled with baby blues and then postpartum depression after the birth and desperately needed help. Tehmina was there every step of the way, helping me find my feet again. The time she spent was above and beyond and full of love and compassion.

My baby did not choose to be born at home or even vaginally. At 41 weeks and 5 days I went in for routine testing and discovered there was no measurable amniotic fluid. This is a very rare condition and the causes are unknown. Due to this surprise, the birth needed to happen that night. Tehmina consulted with another midwife and the attending physician and then discussed the options with me. It seemed clear that the hospital would be the best place to give birth, and an induction would be required. She met us at the hospital and prepared to be my doula. Not long after we were set up in a birthing suite, we discovered that the baby was having trouble with his heart rate and would not do well with a vaginal birth. One of the obstetricians came in and explained that a c-section would be the best course going forward.

Baby Kenneth

Baby Kenneth

During the c-section Tehmina took pictures so that my husband could focus on supporting me. After the baby was born, Tehmina stayed with me so that my husband could accompany the baby to the NICU. Tehmina stepped in like a mother and made sure I was cared for, even feeding me ice chips and communicating to the nurses for me when I was exhausted. Despite how drastically our plans had changed, Tehmina never missed a beat and stayed right with us from start to finish. Afterward, when I was struggling to process what had happened, she was there with a shoulder to cry on and words of wisdom to help me heal. I couldn’t have asked for a better midwife to support me in my journey.

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Birth Story of Rowan
Like any other home birth enthusiast the idea of being in the comfort of my own home surrounded by those I love and trust was very appealing to me for the birth of our first child. Earlier in the pregnancy (and with a previous miscarriage) I was never happy when leaving the office of our OB/GYN. I always felt like my questions were not answered and my self-worth was depleted. We knew early on that we wanted a home birth, so when we found Tehmina our prayers were answered. We met with her a few months into our pregnancy and knew we loved her from the minute we met her. She made us feel empowered, informed and loved. To the annoyance of many doctors, I am one who always has lots of questions and needs all the information before coming to a decision, but this didn’t bother Tehmina. Not once did she make us feel pestering or rushed for her time. We really cherished each check up — learning more about our baby and getting to hear his heartbeat.

Baby Rowan & parents

Baby Rowan, Paul & Sarah at the hospital

Unfortunately, at about 7 1/2 months, after monitoring my platelet levels throughout the pregnancy and trying to raise them naturally, they dropped to a point where it was no longer safe to have a home birth and Tehmina suggested I meet with my physician to plan a hospital birth. She “held my hand” the whole way through it and didn’t make me feel abandoned. We planned for her to move into the doula role at the hospital since she  could no longer be our midwife.

Of course I was upset and scared and felt like I had lost the special birth I wanted but Tehmina did everything she could to make us feel comfortable and prepared. My baby announced his imminent arrival at 4 AM on July 31 (two weeks early) with my water breaking. The hospital staff thought it was necessary for me to come in right away, which was not what my husband nor I wanted. We consulted with Tehmina and decided to wait at home until we were further along in labor. Our doctor was uneasy about this, so to protect our wishes Tehmina agreed to come to our home to monitor the health of the baby and me. I was able to do much of my laboring at home under the care of Tehmina and it wasn’t until I was around 6 cm that we decided to go to the hospital. While at the hospital, we had an unexpected blessing; the hospital staff not only respected our wish of a natural birth and included Tehmina, but also they were understaffed that day, so actually needed Tehmina’s help! They allowed us to be alone with Tehmina and we didn’t see the the nurses/doctor until it was time for me to push. We were able to get our homebirth/midwife experience in a hospital setting. Her methods were so comforting and trusting that I was never fearful. When I was in discomfort she did everything she could to make me feel better, including a very long back massage. When it was time for the doctor to come in to deliver the baby, Tehmina stayed by my side the entire time.

Baby Rowan & Parents at home

Baby Rowan, Paul & Sarah at home

I was pushing for a very long time with little progress. The doctor wanted to try procedures that my husband and I were not comfortable with including an episiotomy. I was very out of it and my husband was absorbed with caring for me, but Tehmina was right there making sure the doctor respected our wishes. It was comforting knowing we had a knowledgeable advocate for us so I could just focus on helping my baby enter the world. After delivering my beautiful, healthy baby boy, we had an unexpected problem — a retained placenta. Exhausted and totally caught off guard (I thought I was done?!) I relied on Tehmina for information about what was happening and the options we had. Tehmina stayed by our side until Paul, our son Rowan, and I were all together and resting. I cannot imagine- nor want to- what Rowan’s birth would be like without our wonderful midwife! We are forever grateful.

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Birth Story of Castiel: A Letter to My Midwife
We thought of you today. A year later. Still filled with gratitude you came into our lives. Castiel and I are talking about our upcoming move from our current home to a new place in a new town. He seems to know and understand. Wanting to spend time in the room where he became earthbound. We’re nursing, looking up at our print of mama goddess in the candlelight. I’m reminding him that he was born here, one year and twelve days ago. In the room around him, with the same candles lit. How he came into this world, safely surrounded by his dog Rufus, his aunties, grandma, cousin, dada and you. That he came fast and easy. Surprisingly so. Because of the safe and loving environment you helped to create. Because you encouraged me, supported me, educated me.And Cory. You held space for his father, so I could learn to manage holding space for me and our little bean in my belly. You became the arms of love we never knew we needed. You helped hold us together when we were sure we’d fall apart. But in such a gentle and generous way. Letting us learn in our way. Giving us the resources we needed. The laughs and stories we needed.  The time we needed to talk through. To plan. To ask. To schedule our appointments. To listen to us during those appointments. Hours long. Drinking tea with a friend. More than a healthcare provider. Midwife for life, right? I was able to breathe through the contractions, on my hands and knees in my bathroom, because I knew you were there. Present with whatever was happening. Taking care of getting the pool ready. Taking care of Cory and my family while I went through birth…alone. Surrounded by love, but for me, still alone. No one able to do it for me. I felt strong because I knew I had nothing else to worry about. That for 9 months, I had worried with you and Castiel’s father. Asking every question I could think of. You always having the answer or direction to point me. We had our plan and our backup plan. I knew we would be OK no matter what, because you were there. You were the first I was able to surrender control to. It was perfect practice for surrendering to birth. Knowing that Cory was safe with you, helped me know Castiel would be safe too. You gave me the reassurance I needed. You helped me see I was strong. See myself. See my child before he was born. When we listened to his heart. Felt his positioning in my tummy and talked about his already strong personality coming through his patterns of movement.We’re not sure we could ever thank you for the gift you gave us those nine months and that day. You were exactly who our family needed to become a family. For that, you will always be part of our family. We love you Tehmina. You have a gift that you generously share with the world, and it is evident the world rewards you—in baby smiles, laughter, mama and papa love and your continuing practice. May it continue to grow with you. May more women and families and babies come to you and through you. You are part of what makes this world bright and beautiful. And we are so grateful, your light helped bring ours into this world. We watched it multiply.

Sincerely,
Lindsay, Cory & Castiel
P.S. Thank you for reminding my mama of her of her stories of wanting to be a part of midwifery when she was younger. For giving her the opportunity to be part of a homebirth. For Gabby’s presence and involvement. For the memories of her sitting on the stairs with Rufus, waiting for her cousin/more-like-baby-brother to join her. For letting her curious 8 year old eyes witness a miracle and consider trying a placenta smoothie. And for Auntie Liz to watch her daughter witness and to add placenta berry smoothie to her recipe box. 🙂

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