Christmas Births

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Editor’s Corner

Happy Holy Days

This is our last E-News issue of the year so I want to take this opportunity to wish you the most joyful holidays whatever and however you celebrate. You deserve a great celebration. The work you do for motherbaby is maybe the most important work being done in this world. How babies are born, how mothers are cared for affects how the world goes. I have great hope for motherbaby and families because the new knowledge of the microbiome and how it affects human babies for their entire life is an issue upon which change can be made.

Because you work so diligently for families, I hope you will consider subscribing to Midwifery Today. We make the greatest effort to bring you articles, poems, art and photos that will help inform and inspire your calling. We have wonderful authors such as Michel Odent, Sister MorningStar, Robin Lim, Susun Weed, Elizabeth Davis and many more. Also, please consider writing for us. You will receive a year subscription if your article is published. You can subscribe here.

~ Jan Tritten, mother of Midwifery Today

Jan Tritten is the founder, editor-in-chief and mother of Midwifery Today magazine. She became a midwife in 1977 after the amazing homebirth of her second daughter. Her mission is to make loving midwifery care the norm for birthing women and their babies throughout the world. Meet Jan at our conferences around the world, or join her online, as she works to transform birth practices around the world.

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Featured Article

My Most Memorable Christmas Births

My most memorable Christmas birth was a beautiful waterbirth, reminiscent of “Silent night, holy night.” It was a crisp, clear night, just a few days after Christmas. “The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, gave the luster of midday…”

The family had moved the dining table into a spare bedroom and put the tub up next to the Christmas tree. It was a real tree, still smelling of pine. The only light in the room came from the lights on the tree. The baby slid into the world serenely and reverently and mewed a content new baby cry. All was well with the world.

To make it even more memorable, when we turned on the kitchen light to examine the placenta, there was a second smaller lobe attached to the main placenta. It had a tiny string of an umbilical cord leading off of it, ending in a small empty sac.

Then there was the primip who was in labor on Christmas Eve. In those days, my husband and I split up the Christmas duties with one of us taking the younger kids to the children’s mass and pageant on Christmas Eve while the other one of us stayed home and cooked dinner and then attended midnight mass with the older kids. The one who had gone to church earlier put the younger kids to bed and started putting presents under the tree.

So, this particular Christmas, I was planning to take the younger kids to the children’s mass, but I was still at the birth, so Hubby had to take them while the older kids stayed home and made supper. Surely, I thought, I’d be home in time to take them to the midnight mass. But no; remember, this was a primip. So the older kids had to walk to church while hubby stayed home with the littles. Meanwhile, my client labored on through the night. She had her baby in the morning. I stayed just long enough to see them settled and nursing well, not bleeding much. I looked at my watch and realized that if I left soon, I would be just in time for the 9 am Christmas morning mass, but there wasn’t enough time to go home and change first. Well, I got to church in the nick of time, sat down and promptly feel asleep!

Then there was the time my fellow midwife called me in labor, just after we finished opening Christmas presents. Her son was born that evening. I attended his wedding last year!

And I’ll never forget the time when all the kids were little (we only had three or four back then). We had procrastinated wrapping Christmas presents and as luck would have it, I had 8 births in 10 days, right around Christmas, so when I was called to a birth on Christmas Eve, most of the presents were still unwrapped. I got home at 3 am Christmas morning, just as Hubby was wrapping the last of the presents. We vowed to never wait to wrap presents again, and we haven’t!

That birth was memorable not only because of the present wrapping fiasco, but this woman did the opposite of what most women do. She would relax between contractions and then pace through each contraction. When it was over, I had rug burns on my knees from scooting behind her with a towel as she paced while the baby descended the birth canal. Thankfully, on the contraction that brought the baby out, she finally stopped and leaned on a chair as baby came out.

~ Marlene Waechter, CPM, is a pioneer Catholic midwife who has served in southern Ohio since the 1970s. She is mother of seven grown children, including five home-born, one of whom was born in water. She is also grandmother to 15 grandchildren, including two HBACs. Besides being a long-time contributor to Midwifery Today, Marlene has co-authored the book, The Joyful Mysteries of Childbirth, a practical and spiritual guide for Christian families.

 

Q: Tell us your Christmas birth story.

— Midwifery Today

A: My favorite Christmas birth happened years ago. In the wee morning hours, I was called to attend a labor on Christmas during an ice and snowstorm. We all drove very slowly to the birth and arrived in time to attend the birth of a 5+ lb girl into a family that had four boys. The parents were so surprised and elated they finally had a girl that they all were shouting Hallelujah. I felt like it was an angel announcement and baby, of course, was named Noelle. I drove to my family’s Christmas dinner with snowflakes falling and hot chocolate in my belly.

— Maryl Smith

A: The very first birth in my birth center was on Christmas! The mama was a VBAC hopeful and had transferred care to me three weeks prior. Then she birthed her precious baby in the wee hours of Christmas morning. It really was magical. Everything outside was so quiet (I’m in downtown Dallas) because all the families were home asleep…together. I got finished in time to get home and shower, slip into bed, close my eyes and have my door burst open with excited children yelling and laughing for Christmas! I got up, had coffee, opened presents and then finally got to nap.

— Kristine Tawater

A: I know a lass who at 23 years old was 3 weeks overdue. On Christmas Eve, her wise grandma made her walk for miles and miles looking for nutmeg that the grandmother then put in the young lady’s large champagne glass without her noticing at their family Christmas celebrations. The young lady left the party and got into bed and woke a few hours later all wet. After three contractions, she headed to hospital as the contractions kept coming back to back. Her mother, her grandmother and her doula all joined her at the hospital.

The contractions came and came, one after the other, nonstop and pinching her back, with no rest or respite. At 4 pm the midwives changed and in came an energetic lady with a very strong accent. She put in a catheter and got kicked and sworn at in Spanish, which she didn’t understand. Finally, a cone-headed baby was born. He was welcomed by the three generations of women behind him, his great great-grandmother, his grandmother, his mother, his godmother doula, his daddy and the tinsel-covered midwives with strong vibes. He is a prince amongst his family and his friends. And this 25th of December, he will be 25 years old and will be surrounded by his family and by his very proud mother, who will never forget every moment of that Christmas day, as she is me!

— Paula Gallardo

A: During my very first Christmas as a newly graduated midwife (I got my diploma on October 1), I worked at a birth center in Copenhagen. A young woman from Greenland came in to have her second child. Her first had been born earlier in the year in January, and this, her second baby, was to be born on Christmas morning! She came in early in the morning and the birth was speedy and beautiful. The mother had such a lovely spirit. Just after noon time, she announced that she was ready to go home again. She had put the Christmas duck in the oven on low heat before leaving for the birth center, and she was expecting dinner guests that evening! She promised me to lie on the couch and let her mother do the rest of the cooking and serve her dinner. I met her again a couple of years later; she told me that Christmas evening had been the best in her life.

— Tine Greve

 

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The Voice of Reason by Midwifery Today

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“Good luck with that cesarean section problem,” said my webmaster as he posted the beautiful home water birth photos of mother Kalista and baby Loki with father Trace and sister Sophie immersed in love, joy and newborn water. “It seems we were talking about that problem 30 years ago.” Yep, he’s right. We were.

By 2013, ACOG had released their new definitions for gestation, making 40 weeks term and paving the way for inductions at 39 weeks. California-licensed midwives received news of tighter restrictions for homebirth. National and world statistics worsened for infant and maternal mortality making it seem reasonable to move toward higher requirements for birth worker education and tighter control for standards in childbirth. ACOG seems to be the voice of reason.

I, however, am the voice of another reason. In all these rulings, standards, guidelines and laws, the voice of the mother is rarely seen as the expert. Her final knowing and final word ought to stand firm above the knowing of others about her; this is a human rights issue. As we midwives started to create a tiny space to serve mothers, serve our callings and serve ourselves without being thrown into prison, we thought the mother’s voice was heard through our midwifery voice; this was our initial mistake. The Cherokee made the same mistake in calling all men brothers as the foreign foot stepped onto this land. Another’s voice can never replace the one to whom actions are being taken or suggested, especially when the action is insisted upon with threats of death. This is why one must go deep and quietly into the presence of birth to see what miracles are possible.

In his latest book, Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapiens, Michel Odent concludes, “Let us work as if it is not too late.” Some may work for legislation, others for research, some with colleagues and some with mothers, but may all work with heart and soul with little thought of self and much thought of the seventh generation. I have many passions, but intellectualizing and standardizing birth is not one of them. So I am the voice of undisturbed birth and I am saying, “Stop frightening birthing mothers.” May we learn how to speak our truths without frightening others and without frightening ourselves.

Meanwhile, I wonder, why can’t we see that the way we are handling birth and the very real correlating outcomes are making things increasingly worse? Who cares how much more qualified, educated, scientific, evidence-based, equal or superior we have all become if we as a collective motherhood and as a collective midwifehood are more afraid of birth and, therefore, act accordingly. I’m not sure anyone with any education or training is best suited to be with a birthing mother. If a mother can somehow escape the claws of a professional, she ranks in the numbers of those women who are birthing the last free human beings on our planet—the last human life free from needles, machines, drugs, plastic, spotlights and the coercion of fear.

~ Sister MorningStar
Excerpted from “Voice of Reason,” Midwifery Today, Issue 110
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