My husband Mark and I transferred to Willowsong when I was approximately 30 weeks pregnant with our first child. Next time we want to begin the journey with Cosette and Kari! They are wise, experienced, tender and passionate about bringing babies into the world. I really appreciated the obvious respect—even reverence—they both have for a woman’s body and her intuition, whether in prenatal care, childbirth or postpartum.
During our first appointment, Kari told me that being happy was the most important thing a pregnant mama could do for her baby and her own health. I was no stranger to the usual worries of pregnancy and was particularly stressed at that time due to the reason we were transferring from our previous provider. Kari took the time to brainstorm with me activities that made me happy. How wonderful to have a care provider whose approach included more than the standard medical measurements and inquiries. I left that appointment with gratitude and joy. Each subsequent appointment was just as nurturing and reassuring.
Preparing for a home birth was surprisingly simple. Cosette and Kari bring all the equipment and emergency medications that rural or county hospitals have. All I had to do was order their customized birth kit online and pick up a few extra supplies to have on hand. I loved knowing that my baby would be born in a tranquil environment and that I would labor where I felt most comfortable and free. Mark and I also chose to rent a birthing tub from Mike Ward (highly recommended!).
I started labor about a week after my typical due date but just shy of the due date Cosette had given me. I had a few contractions in the late afternoon, which became more regular after dinner, about 10 to 15 minutes apart. I was in the habit of walking after dinner, so Mark and I decided to walk around our neighborhood. After about two miles, my contractions were much closer together, about 6 to 7 minutes. In retrospect, I’m really glad we went on that walk because it was the last time we had “normal” conversation and the night air was so refreshing and energizing. We got back around 8:30 or so and relaxed at home.
The contractions stayed regular but they didn’t become painful until 10 or 11 p.m. I used the hands and knees position to cope while Mark gently rubbed my back. Our doula, Beth Jackson, came around midnight and took care of notifying Cosette and Kari for us. By that point, I had emptied my stomach and was in the hot tub. The water felt amazing and re-energized me. Beth suggested I get out and move around after about 45 minutes or an hour. I did not want to! Now I’m so grateful to Beth because I know that helped progress my labor. I didn’t eat anything throughout the night because I had no appetite, but I drank a lot of water and I sucked on honey straws that Beth brought.
Before Cosette and Kari arrived around 2:30 a.m., I spent a lot of time sitting on the toilet or in a slow-dance position with Mark. Labor became more intense. I lost my sense of time and retreated inside myself to manage the contractions. I went back to using the hands and knees position. After another 45 minutes or so, Cosette recommended I handle some contractions while standing up. She later told me she could tell I needed a change because my breathing/sounds
weren’t changing. I now think this advice saved me hours of laboring, although it was the last thing I felt like doing at the time! Mark got out his pull-up bar, and I pulled on it while squatting slightly in the door frame of our room for around 45 minutes. That was probably the hardest part of the whole night! I really felt the baby moving down. It shocked me how it felt because it was such a foreign sensation. I’m pretty sure I went through transition then because I started saying I couldn’t do it anymore. I interacted most with Cosette during that part of labor. She really encouraged me to “surrender” to the contractions. She stood right in front of me and gave me strength with her calm presence and reassuring words. I’m sorry to report I had kind of forgotten about the point of contractions and was just in survival mode. It’s hard to describe the sensation of contractions. “Painful” isn’t really the right word because the biggest feeling I had was pressure.
Shortly after that I got back in the hot tub (a little after 4 a.m.) and started pushing almost immediately. I was in the squatting position but leaning my head on Mark’s arms on the edge of the tub. I didn’t really know how to breathe and push and wasn’t very effective at first. Beth suggested I take a deep breath when they started and then hold it and let the intensity build before pushing. That made a big difference (thanks Beth!). For the last few contractions, Cosette suggested I squat upright, which was definitely harder but more effective. My daughter Roseanna Jean came out at 4:31 a.m. I felt like I’d just ripped into two and said something to that effect. Then everyone said, “Look down!” and there was her little head, eyes wide open staring up at me through the water. It was a magical moment that I can’t adequately describe. Here I thought I was broken and couldn’t go on one more minute– and then there she was! I don’t even remember pushing to get the rest of her out, she just slid out and I picked her up and brought her out of the water. She was super alert right away, pinked up and didn’t even cry, just looked intently at all of us. She was beautiful and healthy, and everything I experienced to arrive at that moment was worth it a hundredfold.
After delivering the placenta in the tub, I took a shower and Mark bonded with Roseanna. Then we snuggled into our own cozy bed and adored our daughter. My mom brought in homemade French toast and eggs while Cosette, Kari and Beth took care of cleaning up everything. It was lovely to be in our own space, especially for those first magical hours.
Willowsong’s postpartum care was phenomenal. I can’t say enough about the difference it made. Nursing was challenging at first, and I got pretty sore within the first 24 hours. Cosette prescribed an amazing ointment that healed me quickly. She also arranged for Char Wade (genius in all things nursing) to come early on and make sure everything was going okay. Char is an amazing resource and really ensured a positive nursing experience for me.
Another enormous advantage to Willowsong is their private client connection page on Facebook where moms come together to discuss the physical and emotional journey of motherhood and give each other advice and support. I love that Cosette and Kari work to foster a “village” of women to help each other.
I am so pleased with our decision to have a home birth and highly recommend it. Thank you to all the women of Willowsong for nurturing my family and taking excellent care of us.