Our first featured contributor for the Bellies and Babies Blessingway Giveaway is Monica from Moon Over Maize.
To enter to win the necklace that she is contributing, along with many other goodies to be featured later, please follow the instructions here.
Now, without further ado, let me introduce to you Monica!
A little about me...
My name is Monica and I am a 31 year old Mom to two little kids (ages 3 & 1). I have been married for five years to a lovely English chap who is supportive of all that I do, even when it is outside of the norm (i.e. extended breastfeeding, home birthing).
Growing up I was fascinated and heavily influenced by my Mom. She is a compassionate, nurturing woman who is incredibly creative. She sews (including my wedding dress), bakes, gardens, designs large scale metal work and cooks grand meals and it seems everything she touches turns to gold! It was through her excitement of creating and crafting that I found my love for designing and creating jewelry some 20 years ago. I have used many different materials over the years including glass, gemstones, thread, hemp and clay. In the last year or two my jewelry has taken a slightly different direction. Having had two babies I discovered new passions such as breastfeeding, home birthing and natural childbirth. This was such a huge part of my life that I decided to fuse my love of pregnancy and birth with my love of creating jewelry and that is when my business, Moon Over Maize, came to life.
My Birth Stories…
Arthur, March 2005
When I was pregnant with my first I was living in England and was assigned a midwife through the NHS. My midwife said that I fit the profile for a safe homebirth and asked if I was interested in trying it. I had never even known that homebirth was an option. I just thought everyone went to the hospital, got the epidural and that birth was a long, painful experience. Something about homebirth just seemed right though so I said yes and my darling husband said ‘I believe in your body and your choice to try home birth’. He’s so wonderful!
In March 2005 labor started and we called the midwife. She arrived and checked me and said that she would just monitor me as labor continued. A couple of hours later and not much progress had been made and she told me I had until midnight to have the baby at home otherwise we would have to transfer. (I still have no idea why. There was nothing medically wrong. All I can think is that it was Good Friday and I know she wanted to get to her family’s place for Easter) Anyway, 11:00pm came around and while labor had picked up it was obvious it would be more than an hour before I had my baby so she offered to break my water. I said yes and just minutes after that REAL labor was upon me! WOW! They were huge contractions and they were coming every 2-3 minutes. I was a bit blown away with it and instead of trying to comfort and reassure me that all was normal and fine she suggested we should transfer. Well, I said yes and the car ride there was agonizing. Every little bump we hit would send me into another contraction. By the time we arrived at the hospital contractions were longer and closer together. When they checked me I was at a 7 and they kept asking me what medication I wanted. I said ‘NONE’. I said it several times, but they were so adamant that I have something that I finally broke down and had an epidural. I had the epidural inserted and minutes after that I had a pushing contraction and the midwife checked me and said I was fully dilated! Did they stop the epidural and allow me to push, nope, I had to wait 3-4 hours before I was able to birth my baby when really it would have only taken another hour at the most. I was so upset about that. I had made it all the way through transition and then was given drugs. I hated the epidural. I couldn’t get comfortable, I couldn’t sleep, all I wanted was my baby in my arms. When I was able to feel the contractions again I started to push, but I couldn’t feel them well enough to really know when the right time was. It was so frustrating and after about 45 minutes they threatened to do a cesarean if no progress was made soon. Thankfully, I did make progress and the midwife said with the next contraction she would ‘help’ me. I thought she meant she would do a perineal massage or something natural, no she gave me an episiotomy. How can they do that without even asking? Finally, my sweet little guy arrived (7lb 12 oz) and I was glad to be holding my first born baby! He nursed wonderfully from the get go and nursed for 3 years before he self weaned. My first birth experience taught me a lot about different types of midwives, different procedures and what is best for me and my babies. This leads me to my second birth story….
Juliet, July 2007
This pregnancy was as easy and fabulous as the first. The big difference was that I chose my midwife (highly qualified DEM who birthed all four of her children at home) and had the most amazing hour long appointments with her throughout my pregnancy. We talked about fears, birthing positions, nursing while pregnant, etc. She took such great care of me and my baby and I felt so comfortable with her from the beginning.
It started on the night of Friday 13th when I was having contractions 8-10 minutes apart. They went on through the night, but never got any stronger and by morning they had pretty much tuckered out. Round about 9:00 am on Saturday the 14th I had a bloody show and I thought I had at least another day. I was assuming it would be the same as last time and I was totally wrong!!
The morning went on and I was getting stronger contractions, but they were still 10 minutes apart and I was still in denial that this was the real thing. Around 2:00 pm I was eating lunch with Arthur when a wave of nausea hit me and I knew I wouldn’t be eating another thing until the baby was here. Not long after that contractions went to about 8 minutes apart. They were still relatively easy to work through though. I went to my bedroom to try and relax a bit before things really kicked off. This went on for about 3 hours and then I suddenly lost track of time as the intensity and frequency of contractions picked up immensely. I had planned on giving birth in the pool downstairs, but the thought of moving all the way down there was excruciating. Around 6:00 pm I was able to make my way to the toilet and throw up which did make me feel a bit better. We phoned my midwife at this time and she didn’t think I was as far along as I was because I sounded so upbeat and cheery on the phone. We decided to wait another half an hour and then call back with an update. Contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart and more intense than I ever remember them being with Arthur. We phoned the midwife and asked her to come over. It takes her about 35 minutes to get to our house and in that time period I was in transition and was seriously wondering how I was going to make it because contractions were now right on top of each other. It was insane!!! I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I was doing my best to keep breathing deeply and my husband was fantastic. He never left my side and allowed me to squeeze his hand to a pulp! This time around I made a lot more noise than I did with Arthur because the low, deep moans somehow made it feel better. Anyway, around 7:30 pm I heard the midwives pull into our drive and at that moment I started getting the urge to push and my water suddenly went. I was SOOO happy because I knew things were happening quickly and my baby would be with me soon.
They came in and were absolutely wonderful. They took a quick look and could see my baby’s head descending and said I would probably have the baby any minute. Once my water broke and I made it through transition my contractions eased off and I was able to have a breather in between them. I also lost the urge to push with those contractions so I was kind of stumped as to what to do. Finally after 45 minutes of not getting anywhere the midwife suggested sitting on the toilet. This really helped for some reason and I decided that this was it, I was not waiting any longer. With the next contraction I got off the toilet and pushed with all that I had and my baby’s head was out. It took another push after that and she was in my arms. I ended up giving birth in our bathroom on my hands and knees. My bedroom was the last place I thought I would labor and birth (although in my dreams I was always in there).
The midwife passed my baby to me and I got that miraculous feeling of love and life that I remember having with Arthur. I never feel prouder and stronger than just after I give birth. We moved to my bed and she nursed straight away. My placenta gave us a little trouble, but nothing too bad. While my midwife and her assistant were cleaning up I was nursing Juliet with my husband, son and mom standing by. It was incredible! I never had to go anywhere, I showered in my bathroom afterward, I had all the snacks, drinks and comforts of my own home. Home birth is phenomenal!!
I needed about 3 stitches in the end. I tore where I was given the episiotomy during Arthur’s birth. My recovery time was amazing. The day after I was a little swollen, but honestly by the next day I felt completely healed and back to myself (except for the baby jelly belly!).
Juliet weighed in at 7lbs 3oz and is absolutely perfect.
What comes to mind when I think of pregnancy and birth?
Pregnancy and birth are such a beautiful and natural part of life. Pregnancy makes me think of newness, joy and excitement of what is to come. I cannot think of anything that compares to giving birth. For me it was the most joyous and fascinating time of my life. From my experience, when I was able to labor and birth in my own way, in my own home my labor went much faster and easier then when I had an epidural and was told how to birth my baby in the hospital. For other women it is probably the other way around. What I wish is that all women were given choices when it comes to their labor and births. It would be wonderful if when a woman becomes pregnant she speaks not only to her ob-gyn, but is then referred to a midwife or doula to hear about a different approach that she may not have known about before. At that point, the woman is able to make a more educated decision about what is going to work best for her and her baby. What I want is for women to enjoy the whole process from conception through to the birth of their baby. I want them to feel that they were involved in all the decisions being made and they were able to have the birth they hoped for, whatever it entailed. I believe in the strength and power of the woman’s body to birth naturally and safely and I am so grateful for all the compassionate and dedicated midwives and doulas that not only believe the same thing, but encourage other women to trust their bodies too.