It has taken me until 10 ½ weeks postpartum to write about my birth because I never could seem to find the words to express how grateful I am to have worked with Denise.
After finding out my husband and I were expecting our first child, I quickly began researching midwives in our area. The idea of “natural birth” was somewhat new to me, however, I had spent months prior reading and learning as much as I could about this innate rite of passage. After our initial consultation with Denise I had a strong sense that she would be the right choice for us.
My prenatal experience was great. As my pregnancy progressed and we got to know Denise and Beth better, we always eagerly awaited our next appointment. We loved driving out to Westby and walking our pregnancy journey with them.
On the evening of Monday October 22nd, my waters began to leak. Labor slowly started the next morning, and later that day we found ourselves making yet another exciting drive to Westby! Denise was actually finishing up at a home birth when we were on our way to the birth center, but I knew that I would be in good hands with Angie waiting for us there. Throughout the labor process, I had all of the support I needed from Denise, Beth and Angie. I actually labored a lot more on my own than I anticipated—something that I was very happy about. I liked that the midwives truly continued to tailor their care to my individual needs in the moment. They made me feel so calm and confident in my ability to birth my baby and offered me support as needed. After a long night of laboring in and out of the birth tub, I began to get the urge to push around 5am Wednesday morning (At least I think that’s what time it was… at that point I was truly in “labor land” and everything is a bit of a blur). Angie went to let Denise know and I got out of the tub. Pushing was actually a huge relief for me; much to my surprise, it was such a great release. I was thrilled to be pushing for I knew I would be meeting my baby soon!
Long story short, I pushed for around 3 hours. My pregnancy intuition was correct; we welcomed our baby boy, Miles, earthside on the morning of October 24, 2018. To be honest, when I reflect on my labor and birth itself I feel that is was pretty uneventful. I could not have asked for a better way to bring my baby into this world, and being a young, first-time mom, I credit so much of that to Denise. She was such a gentle and caring support for me throughout my pregnancy and labor, and has continued to be postpartum. Here’s when things get interesting…
I laid with my son on my chest and chatted with Denise, Angie and my husband while we waited for the placenta to be delivered. Problem is, it never came. Denise gave me a shot of Pitocin to see if that would do the trick. Unfortunately, it didn’t. I don’t know exactly how long it was before Denise told me that she was going to call EMS for a transfer for my retained placenta. At this point I was still in absolute awe that my baby was now in my arms and that news didn’t really phase me. Denise and Angie remained calm and assured me that everything was going to be okay. I never had heard of a retained placenta before and didn’t realize the magnitude of it. It wasn’t until I began to get a bit lightheaded and dizzy that I started to see just how serious this was becoming. My husband took Miles and went with Angie to get him bundled up and pack our bags for our trip to Vernon Memorial Hospital. The first responders arrived and we continued to wait for the ambulance.
Upon arrival at Vernon, I was no longer in a good place. I had lost a lot of blood, and despite my in-and-out of consciousness, I still remember being silently shocked when I heard how low my blood pressure was. Needless to say, this was extremely scary for me. For a moment, I had a thought of the unimaginable—what if I don’t get to go home with my baby? What if I don’t make it?
The care providers at Vernon were absolutely AMAZING and I cannot speak highly enough of them. They quickly and effectively worked together to remove my placenta in the emergency room, avoiding the need for any surgery to take place. While they worked on me, my husband (holding baby Miles) and Denise watched over me. Throughout all of this, Denise remained a solid support. Being 24 years old (still kind of a baby myself), and not having my own mom there at the time, Denise kind of became that for me in that moment. When I first found out I was pregnant, I saw on Denise’s website that “midwife” means “with women”. She was living up to that definition in the clearest, most beautiful way. I knew she was with me.
I ended up getting 2 units of blood and stayed the night at Vernon. We went home the next day and began living our new normal with baby boy.
At our first visit, Denise explained that she encourages first time moms to birth at the birth center because of her great relationship with the staff at Vernon Memorial Hospital. Although I knew that birth was a normal, natural process, I recognized that sometimes things don’t go as planned, so that was a big “selling point” for my husband and I. Because of what happened with my placenta, I saw this relationship in action and continue to be amazed with how well they all worked together. Of course I wish that I had never ended up at the hospital, but since I did, I am glad I was at that one and that Denise was with me the entire time.
I still struggle to find peace with the way my birth ended. I know that there was good in it. Ultimately, I came home with a healthy baby. The experience definitely brought my husband and I closer together. During the transfer and my first month postpartum, I relied on my husband more than ever before. This experience also gave me an even deeper appreciation for Denise and her expertise.
Regardless of the trauma that occurred with my 3rd stage, there is beauty in my birth. I am reminded of that each time I look at my baby, and when I reflect on the growth that has taken place in me since then. My husband and I have the utmost gratitude for Denise. We honestly cannot speak highly enough of her. She walked alongside us during that precious time and we will forever be thankful for the care she provided. She holds a very dear spot in our hearts.
Nellie Josephine 12/27/22 at 8:36 PM 10 pounds 7 ounces, 21 inches We are so thankful to have been able to work with Denise for