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The Story of Esmé's Birth

I always knew I wanted to have a home birth. I grew up in a community that supported home births and I tend to feel more anxiety than comfort in hospital settings. When my husband, Jesse, and I reached out to Nicole for our initial conversation during my 8th week of pregnancy, we were immediately put at ease. We appreciated Nicole’s laid back energy and her attitude that involved letting her clients lead the way. We encountered a few hiccups related to insurance snags and travel plans in the first trimester but Nicole was consistently reassuring. Without knowing that it would come in handy later, we also appreciated that Nicole was coming from a hospital midwifery background and shifting gears into building her home birth practice. Her WHY for making this shift was strong and she was driven and committed. She knew both worlds and was choosing home births but had an appreciation for all the different ways women give birth.

My pregnancy was relatively smooth, with each checkup and sonogram showing a healthy developing baby. The emotional pieces of preparing to have a child took a bit more energy to bring together, but Nicole was there each step of the way. She answered us honestly as we asked her to tell us “all of the possible ways this could go wrong”. Nicole wasn’t worried at all that I was 39 years old and of advanced maternal age. She never once called me geriatric. We prepared as best we could for the home birth, bringing in an amazing doula and doing a wonderful home birth class with a mentor of Nicole’s. I was starting to feel ready, though looking back, it’s unclear how anyone can feel ready for something they have never done before, like pushing a cozy baby out of your body.

During a string of 100 degree days in late June and moving into my 41st week, I started to get impatient and wanted to bring labor on. I was having acupuncture and massage, taking herbs and using essential oils, and moving my body. The morning I went into labor, we had a sonogram that predicted I’d have an 8lb 6oz baby (that sounded large for my frame). Directly after this, we were in a small but stressful car accident where someone backed into us. I wasn’t hurt but later we looked back and wondered whether this may have moved the baby slightly out of position. My labor started that night and felt intense from the beginning though the contractions were not consistent. I attempted to go back to sleep but couldn’t and by the next day I was in too much pain to eat. I was trying to conserve my energy but wasn’t having much luck. My energy and pain tolerance were going down but my labor wasn’t progressing. We tried a number of different things — doing contractions in various positions, resting, getting in the tub, walking, massaging, breathing — but my water seemingly wouldn’t break. My water did finally break about 48 hours into my labor and I pushed for several hours, but still the baby wasn’t descending. There was so much to reflect on regarding this phase after the fact but in the moment I was trying to keep going and struggling. My contractions were shooting pain down my legs and up my back and I was having trouble not resisting the contractions. Nicole reassured me that the baby’s heart rate was stable but we were coming to a crossroads and she knew I was exhausted. It was at this time that Nicole offered the option of going to the hospital to get an epidural and continue my labor where I could be in less pain and hopefully recharge some energy. This sounded like a good idea to me.

Ultimately, it was a good idea to go to the hospital but we encountered some unfortunate bumps as we arrived and attempted to get my pain under control. Nicole came with us and became our support in navigating a new system that hadn’t seen what we’d been through. The anesthesiologist was tied up and it took a while to get an epidural. Then the machine delivering the medicine ran out of batteries and my pain escalated once again. Nicole attempted to advocate for us during this time to get someone to change the batteries but we had to wait for the anesthesiologist. By the time my pain was finally stable, I was wiped out. I had been in labor for nearly 60 hours and hadn’t slept or eaten during this time. A total plot twist to our epic birth tale started to emerge — my husband and I realized we could opt for a c-section if we wanted to and finally meet our baby. Though this was further from the birth we had imagined than we thought was possible, Nicole was beyond supportive. She helped us weigh the decision as continuing to push once I was fully dilated was still on the table. Nicole didn’t once pressure us in any direction and knew that we had given this experience our all. We opted for the c-section and our daughter, Esméralda Lou, was born shortly after.

Nicole came to visit us as soon as we were home from the hospital and continued to guide us through the first few weeks of Esmé’s life. Our fourth trimester was not a breeze, as it often isn’t, but Nicole was there helping us navigate breastfeeding, weight gain and sleep. She also, quite importantly, made time for us to process what had happened in my labor and birth process and we were able to make some peace and therefore, space, to focus on our delightful new baby. We couldn’t have done what we did without Nicole and all of her wisdom, knowledge, and loving care.

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