By Mary Rider
As far as I know, I hold the record for number of babies born at Women’s Birth and Wellness (although for some it was Piedmont Women’s Health Center). My husband and I have eight children and the last five have been born downstairs at the center.
The last time started just like all the rest. On May 2, 2005 I was 39 weeks pregnant and my water broke. I had been worried I wouldn’t have time to get to Chapel Hill from Garner because as each baby has come, my labors have gotten shorter and shorter. But I noticed when I lay down, the contractions pretty much stopped. So as long as I didn’t walk around, I wasn’t in labor! The thing is I had some work to do and wanted to get it done before the baby came so I wouldn’t have to be worrying about it with a newborn!
So I laid in bed and paid a few bills and every time I got up to go to the bathroom or get a drink, the contractions would return.
About lunchtime I told my husband I thought we’d better get ready to go. We’re not too quick at getting out of the house, and I didn’t want to wait too long or we’d be stuck in traffic on the way to Chapel Hill.
My dad, who lives at the beach, was in town. So he went and picked up the kids from school, and my friend Debbie Biesack picked up Bernadette from her high school.
Once we got to the center things went pretty quickly. I had given birth under water to the last four (an experience I highly recommend. It’s the most relaxing way of laboring I have found!) and so Sher asked me if I wanted to get in the tub. The one drawback to the tub is that it’s so big it takes a long time to fill. I really did want to get in the tub, but by then I knew there was no time for that!
So for the first time in a long time, I gave birth in the bed. My dad never likes to be in the room right at the moment, my mom made it a few minutes late, and Brianna, the oldest, was too far away to make it in time, but the rest of the family was all in attendance along with a few friends thrown in for good measure!
I remember it being a busy day at the birthing center, with two other births going on at the same time and someone calling in, just starting labor! (Was there a full moon? I don’t remember.)
As always, once our little one had made her way out into the world, everyone got to hold her and get a good look at her and admire her beautiful red hair. Then she went outside with her dad for a few breaths of fresh air, and I sent someone to get me some food because birthing is a lot of work, and I had built up quite an appetite.
But this time something was different. After a few hours, our little one started having some troubles. By then Maureen had come in too, and so she cleared everyone out and we talked about what was going on.
As I had suspected for many months (but hadn’t confirmed with prenatal tests), our baby, Mary Evelyn, has Down syndrome. The most devastating part of this discovery was that her heart wasn’t working correctly, and she had to go to UNC Hospitals. We told the older children what was going on and sent everyone off with my mother to stay with friends in Carrboro.
There is no way to express the fear and pain of the next few days. The ambulance came and took my newborn baby away to the hospital, and we really didn’t know if we would ever see her again. I followed in another ambulance a little later, and my husband drove.
At UNC Hospitals, it was no time before we had a better idea of what was going on. Although Mary Evelyn’s condition was serious, and she had to spend several days in the neonatal ICU, her heart condition was treatable and eventually (in November 2005) corrected with surgery. Today she is a healthy, happy little girl who greets everyone with a smile and a wave and is currently crawling around the house, taking books off the shelves, a seemingly favorite past time of most of my children at that age!
Would I have done anything differently if I had known that Mary Evelyn would be born with health problems? Most certainly not. The loving and professional care we received from Sher and Maureen was extraordinary and while the hospital folks were nice, concerned and professional, the birthing center is home for us.
By Patrick O’Neill
As a father of eight children, I probably have more stories to tell about the birth experience (from the less-intense father-side) than most men. Five of our children (Veronica, Timothy, Ann, Michael and Mary Evelyn) were born at the birth center in Chapel Hill, and another daughter (Bernadette) was born in 1988 at the “original” birth center in Siler City. My oldest daughter, Brianna, is also the business director, so we have an intimate connection with the center — both the offices upstairs (where our children have watched countless birthing videos, and the “Arthur” animated video for years) and of course the downstairs birthing rooms (I think we’ve been in all three!) Although our last child was born May 2, 2005, it seems like we’re there all the time. (And I love reading the interesting bumper stickers in the parking lot.)
My wife, Mary, has had four of our babies in the water (in those big bathtubs in the birthing rooms), and that’s just one of the many amenities we have appreciated in choosing to experience our family’s most intimate moments in the center as opposed to a hospital. For example, when our daughter, Moira, was born in 1994 in a hospital (prior to WBWC), a nurse came into the room with designs on leaving with our newborn daughter to take her somewhere else (I have no idea where). We said, “No, thanks, we’d like to keep her with us,” something you would never have to worry about at the birth center, where contact between parents and newborn is sacred, and anything that has to be done is handled bedside.
I especially appreciate the emphasis birth center founder Maureen Darcey places on honoring the birth process as a natural, essentially non-medical experience. Maureen’s role, and that of the rest of the midwives, is to assist a mother in a miraculous, natural event. When my children have been born, I’ve had total confidence that Maureen and staff have matters under control (and since I have been a major player in helping my wife throughout the delivery process, I appreciate the way the midwives have integrated me into the process in a meaningful way).
With such a large family, you can imagine the crowd accompanying us to Chapel Hill on the days when Mary’s water breaks and a new baby is on the way. When we’re there, we basically take over the entire downstairs as the time passes, waiting for the birth of a new baby sister or brother. That’s also a special part of having a child at the birth center, where the birth experience is open to all, and the entire family is welcome. At all five of our birth center births, siblings have cut the umbilical cords of the newest member of the family (some volunteered to do the cutting, but then backed out as the process unfolded, but another kid has always stepped up to the plate).
The birth center has been a blessing to us. It is a place where the miracle of childbirth is allowed to unfold in all of its natural wonder.
By Mary Rider
Maureen Darcey, CNM, and Brianna Honea will be attending a Congressional briefing in Washington, DC on February 7. This briefing will bring attention to a study to be published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, demonstrating the positive outcomes, health-wise and financially, associated with midwifery care. For more information about the briefing and how you can be involved in bringing awareness to your congressional representatives, follow this link:
To read a summary of the article published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, click here.
For the full article, click here.
*Here are some of the 38 babies we welcomed in December!*
*Ada Claire Bickers Bock – 7 lbs. 8 oz – October 31
Anastasia Hughes – 5 lbs., 6 oz. – November 27
*Aidan Ray Trotter – 8 lbs., 9 oz. – December 1
Sadie Irene Donovan – 8 lbs., 6 oz. – December 3
Clara Pearl Brown – 7 lbs., 12 oz. – December 4
*Audrey Delilah Dunn – 6 lbs., 8 oz. – December 5
Ellie Inez Asencio – 7 lbs., 1 oz. – December 7
Brenta Thomas Shuler – 8 lbs., 5 oz. – December 8
Selah Maryn Ridout – 7 lbs., 4 oz. – December 9
Elizabeth Rose Grether – 7 lbs., 12 oz. – December 15
Clara Kelly Brenton – 9 lbs., 8 oz. – December 18
Liberty Mae Stubley – 6 lbs., 14 oz. – December 18
Baby Wheeler – 7 lbs., 8 oz. – December 19
Aaron Nathani – 9 lbs., 7 oz. – December 19
Jessa Elizabeth Brooks – 9 lbs., 8 oz. – December 20
Vivienne Roje Fields – 7 lbs., 6 oz. – December 23
Samson Levi Bell – 7 lbs. – December 26
Lola Jane Callegari – 8 lbs. – December 26
Christopher John Jenkins – 9 lbs., 4 oz. – December 28
*Rosabelle Hope Rivera – 7 lbs., 13 oz. – December 29
Maren Eliza Penny – 7 lbs. – December 30
If you’d like your baby’s birth announced in the next newsletter, send an email with baby’s name, weight, and birth date to firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to include a picture! We’d like to hear from all WBWC moms, whether your baby was born at the birth center or UNC.
by Kaaren Haldeman
Happy New Year! The board is excited about the year ahead and we’re looking forward to tackling the pressing issues that have carried through to the new year. I would like to thank Rebecca Swartz for her board service and wish her well in her future plans and experiences. Although Rebecca has left the board, she has been helpful in conversations around development work and remains a valuable resource. Thanks, Rebecca!
These are some seriously tasty muffins. I’ve been playing with a recipe that I found online a few years ago, and now have a delicious muffin that makes an easy breakfast or great afternoon snack. They freeze well, too (if your children don’t eat them all immediately!). If you prefer a banana bread instead of a muffin, just pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake it a little longer.
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup applesauce
2 large eggs + 1 egg white
2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.
- Combine brown sugar, honey, eggs, butter and applesauce. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix banana, oats, and milk; add this to the sugar mixture and beat well.
- Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir with a whisk, then add to the sugar mixture. Mix until just moist.
- Spoon into the prepared muffin pan.
- Bake about 20 minutes, until the muffin tops are springy.
On January 25, WBWC hosted a “How to Start a Birth Center” seminar. Over 60 midwives, students, and health professionals from across the country came to Chapel Hill to learn what it takes to start and maintain a freestanding birth center. Maureen Darcey, CNM, and Brianna Honea, our business director, welcomed the group and led a tour. Birth center staff were on hand to answer questions, run through birth scenarios, and provide information. It’s very encouraging that so many people are interested in expanding birth options for women throughout the country, and we’re pleased we’re able to share our expertise!
You may have noticed that there are now 4 “Birth Center Only” parking spots out in front of the birth center. Feel free to use these spaces when you’re here for your appointments or in labor!
by Casey Bradburn
Prior to becoming pregnant and recently having my first baby, I didn’t exactly have an interest in natural births, breastfeeding, etc. I had been moving more towards a natural lifestyle, but for a large part of my adult life I didn’t know if I even wanted to have children, so the subject certainly wasn’t a passion, or even one I knew much about. My husband Cole, on the other hand, has seemed to have more knowledge of and a passion for it for years. He is a chiropractor, so living a healthy and natural lifestyle is an essential piece of his work, but some of his passions weren’t ones that I shared. A few years ago I recall seeing him post articles and comments on his websites and Facebook pages about benefits of breastfeeding, birth procedures, etc. and I thought it was weird. I now feel like I finally understand the importance of getting the message and education out there and more well-known.
After we had our son at the birth center in June 2012, Cole went back to work to a ton of people and patients asking him questions and for more information about having a natural birth. There was evidently some concern and probably some misconceptions about choosing that path. He could give some information and his viewpoint on the subject, but ultimately thought it would be great to gather mothers’ natural birth stories and compile them into a free online book. That way it could be an inclusive resource for anyone interested in hearing the story straight from the mother, rather than from an onlooker.
He already has a good start, but is still looking for more birth stories. If any mamas out there would like to share theirs and have them included, please send them to email@example.com. Thank you!