Today I was visiting a friend and singing the praises of one of my midwives, who has a vast knowledge of herbs and hydrotherapy. My friend asked how I met her, and as I shared the story it occurred to me that A: although I wrote about this experience years ago to share with a few people, I have never shared it publicly, and B: it’s a really great story and I really should! So here is the story of how I found our first midwife, taken from my original letters and shortened a bit (I can be a little long-winded when I write, if you haven’t noticed by now.)
When I was 9 months pregnant with my second child, I passed my due date with no signs that she was on her way any time soon. My doctor began talking about a c-section and I begged for more time. He agreed, but made it clear that he wasn’t going to let me go beyond a certain date and I was scared. I started researching everything I could find on labor and delivery and a friend of ours gave me a book written by a chiropractor named Nial Ettinghausen, who was one of the early pioneers and advocates of home birthing in California during the 1960’s and 70’s. The book was called “Childbirth at it’s Best” and I cried as I read story after story of women who delivered their babies safely and naturally in the peace of their own home. I found myself longing to have that kind of birth experience and in the midst of emotions gone wild, tossed up a ridiculous prayer to God. I prayed: “God, if I ever have a homebirth, I want someone who has trained under Ettinghausen to deliver my baby.” It was truly an absurd thing to ask God for, because not only did Ettinghausen practice thousands of miles from where I lived, he had also passed away about 20 years before this. In addition, my husband had made it very clear to me in no uncertain terms that we would *NEVER* have a home birth. It was just an off-the-cuff prayer fueled by a moment of extreme passion and yearning for an experience like those I was reading about. I chalked it up to hormones and didn’t think much about it after that. Soon, our second child was born in the hospital, healthy and happy, albeit three weeks late.
Fast forward to my third pregnancy. We had switched to a different OBGYN and I was very happy with him. He seemed very respectful of my wishes and I had received a satisfactory answer when I asked how he would handle it if my third child was overdue. We were almost seven months into the pregnancy and everything was progressing smoothly when I met a woman who had delivered three of her children with a midwife. I was very curious about this and she gave me her midwife’s card, although I never intended to call her. For one thing, although I knew I wanted a home birth “some day,” I was almost 7 months along and had a doctor I was happy with. For another thing, my husband didn’t have plans to change his mind on his view of homebirthing any time EVER.
But that card kept nagging at me. For weeks, I had the strongest feeling that I needed to call, even though I had absolutely no desire to have a homebirth with this baby. I spoke to my husband about what I was feeling. He wasn’t particularly pleased but told me: “call her if you want to, but we are NOT having a homebirth.” So I did call her, and discovered that she was a member of a birthing center and didn’t offer homebirths. I asked if she knew of any midwives who DID offer homebirths, and she gave me another number. I still wasn’t looking to have a homebirth, but I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to continue searching. I spoke with several midwives and still never felt comfortable having a homebirth. So now things were getting strange. Generally when God wants me to do something, He will put it on my heart the way I’d felt He put that card on my heart. But He also ALWAYS gives me a sense of peace about whatever it is he’s asking me to do. For the first time, I felt He was giving me mixed signals. I felt I needed to talk to a midwife, but I had no peace whatsoever about having a homebirth, and I didn’t understand why He kept leading me to call one midwife after another. But, feeling that I should, I continued to make calls. After each call, still feeling uncomfortable, I would ask if they knew anyone else who did homebirths. Finally, someone gave me the number of a woman who lived about three hours from our home. The name of the town was familiar to me, as my husband and I had followed the ministry of a couple who lived in this area for several years.
I called this midwife, and not far into the conversation she asked me what I wanted out of my delivery. I told her I really didn’t know, that I’d never seriously considered a homebirth before, and was uncomfortable with the idea. She then proceeded to tell me all of the pro’s and con’s – starting with the con’s! As she was telling me everything that could potentially go wrong in a home delivery, I suddenly got the most overwhelming sense from God that I was supposed to have a homebirth with this woman! We continued to talk for a while, and during the course of the conversation I asked if she lived near the couple whose ministry had been so impacting for my husband and I. She responded that they were her next door neighbors! At that moment, I was absolutely positive that God had ordained her to be my midwife. But then the conversation took a turn that brought me to tears. The midwife asked me if I’d ever done any research on home birthing. I told her that the only book I’d ever read on homebirth was by a Doctor that no one had ever heard of named Nial Ettinghausen. She replied: “I know exactly who you’re talking about. I trained under him 30 years ago in L.A.”
Later that week, I sat on the couch and bawled like a baby over the incredible awareness of God’s love for me that led Him to answer such an impossible prayer, moving things into place years before I ever even thought to ask.
When I told my husband what happened, he said simply: “I think it’s from God. I think this is what we should do.”
We delivered our third baby in the middle of our kitchen in a swimming pool – two weeks late. :)