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Ryane's Story

Martine’s Birth



Back when I first met Shauna, I was unsure. Unsure if home birth was a realistic option for me- if I would really be able to pull it off. I felt like my body had failed me before, would it fail me again?


Could I actually do this? I desperately wanted to avoid the hospital. It was in a hospital over 3,000 miles away that my first baby had been born by cesarean. An unplanned, totally unexpected, certainly unwanted and unnecessary cesarean. A cesarean that was followed by an infection, which was followed by a second surgery. I was in the hospital for 3 weeks, a large chunk of which I spent incoherent and separated from my baby. I left the hospital with not only the scar on my abdomen but also the scar on my heart. A heart that was simultaneously so full of love for my tiny, new baby but also so full of hurt, of confusion. Of “What the hell happened?” and “Why?” These feelings of hurt and wonder were filed away in my mind, to be revisited and sorted through and felt later, at another time, a time when I wasn’t so busy caring for a newborn and figuring out how to be a mother.


Needless to say, my entrance into motherhood wasn’t the one I was expecting or hoping for. This time I was determined to have a different experience. I reached out to midwives in the valley, explaining my complicated past and asking if home birth might be an option for me. After contacting a few midwives, I was referred to Shauna by a local doula. When I first met with Shauna she immediately made me feel safe. If you’ve met Shauna before, you know she has this special quality about her. She exudes calmness and wisdom, and confidence. She made ME feel confident. I was beginning to think I could actually do this.


I should mention that this wasn’t a “home” birth in a typical sense. It was to be a birth in our version of home, which at the time was a 35’ Winnebago motorhome parked on a farm about 45 minutes from the nearest hospital. Today, when we reflect on our daughter’s birth, we lovingly refer to it as our “camper birth” and thus she is our “camper baby”.  When I mentioned our unique living situation to Shauna, she did not grimace as I thought she might. Much to my dismay, she simply responded without a beat, “Yes, okay, that’s fine. I’ve attended births in off-grid cabins and school buses before, this is going to be just fine.”


It was the month of October, warm and sunny still but with a hint of coldness at night and in the early hours of the morning. Just as my first labor began, my water randomly broke with no warning. No warning, no contractions, no apparent signs of labor beginning- just aimlessly going about my business, watching a movie and whoosh! I let Shauna know and she reassured me and we waited for things to pick up. Light contractions slowly began to come. Then they would stop. Then they would begin again. And slowly fade away. Stronger contractions began coming, so strong they seemed they would soon become unbearable. Then they, too, would fade away. I was beginning to get discouraged but I felt hopeful. Shauna came to check on us, to reassure us, and support us. We decided we would meet again when it was time.


Three long days of off and on labor, weak and strong contractions, endless water flowing out- my hopes were dwindling. Would this be it? Would my baby ever come? Would I be forced to have this baby in the place I was so desperate to avoid? Shauna, aware of my fears and sensing my discouragement, offered me a homeopathic option. It was late afternoon when I took it, and feeling hopeful I tried to get some rest.


Several hours later Shauna and Mischa, her apprentice at the time, came to our home as labor was intensifying. I was in another world by the time they arrived. My partner, Noah, greeted them as they pulled up. They followed him inside our home without a sound and quietly sat beside me in the living room of our camper. I didn’t hear them, but I could feel their presence, their energy, their support. There’s something about having other women around you while you’re in labor that empowers you. I gathered strength from them, from inside myself. I was on my knees leaning over the couch. Transition is a marvelous thing. It means your baby is almost here, which is great. For me it was a swelling of emotions, emotions I did not know existed within myself. I began to cry. Crying, not from any pain, but from the sheer hormones and chemicals swirling around inside me. I will always remember, clear as day, the sound Shauna made as I began to sob. This quiet little hum, a loving sigh. Such a short, quiet sound that would seem so benign to some, but to me, in that moment, it meant the world. She understood what I felt, where I was at. Where I was about to go. It meant she was there for me. I felt so supported and seen in that moment by Shauna. I felt safe.


I had my hands between my legs. I heard Shauna quietly ask, “Can you feel your baby?” I reached up and could indeed feel my baby’s head.  As I began to bear down for the first time, I called out for help. Shauna and Mischa, so quiet and strong in the way they held that space for me, leapt to their feet to assist. I got up on the couch and with Shauna between my legs and Mischa holding up my right leg to the sky. I began to push my baby closer and closer into this world. With our eldest daughter asleep in the back bedroom with my mother, and Noah, my beloved partner, who anxiously paced the length of our living room and kitchen space wrought with anxiety, intensity, and excitement. Shauna, smiling, instinctively patted the spot on the couch next to her and invited Noah to have a seat. The good part was coming!


Our baby was about to be with us finally! This part of labor was my favorite- pushing! The seemingly endless contractions during the first stage of labor were finally paying off. This was happening. I was caught up in the whirlwind of labor but I was relieved. It was actually happening! I was about to push my baby out and into this world, into their home. Something took over me, took over my body. I wasn’t thinking or feeling, only doing. I was out of my head and in my body completely. It was then that I realized how innate this knowledge is to our bodies- our bodies know exactly what needs to be done. As Noah, Shauna, and Mischa watched I grunted and growled and yelled and made noises I have never made before- noises I didn’t even know I could make. I had my hands between my legs, feeling how, with every single push, more and more of the head was exposed. It seemed like only a few minutes of pushing and the baby was already being born. As the head was born into Shauna’s gentle, waiting hands, then one shoulder following the other, Shauna looked up at me and said, “Take your baby.” My hands replaced Shauna’s as I finished birthing my baby and brought her up to my chest. I looked down and exclaimed to Noah, “IT’S A GIRL!” Which was what we had been hoping for!


After holding the baby for a while and birthing the placenta, Shauna and Mischa held and checked the baby over while I got up to shower. I came out feeling so intensely happy, all was right in the world, a sense of true wellbeing. My mom came out from the bedroom to rejoice in all of the happiness- a healthy baby and a birth well done. I settled into my little nest on the couch, surrounded by pillows and blankets and love. I had done it.


Ryane’s praise:


What I loved about working with Shauna the most was that she knew the perfect moments to be there. She knew when I needed her soft, subtle support. A loving, gentle touch. A quiet murmur of affirmation that I could indeed accomplish what I had set out to do. Shauna also possesses the wisdom to know when to fade into the background. To be present and supportive but not at the center of attention. To be there for you and your baby but to support YOU to take control, to birth how you want to and need to. For you, the birthing woman, to take the lead. Her stoic silence was so appreciated when I needed space for myself. Her words were so appreciated when I needed to hear them. Shauna has an intrinsic knowledge and ability when it comes to the relationship between birthing women and their midwives. She is beyond competent, confident, and wise. I am so forever grateful Shauna was there to witness this precious time in our lives.


Thank you, Shauna! From my heart to yours.

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