Mama Annie is more than strong, she is courageous. I read her story and was in awe of her honesty, and her willingness to be open whole heartily. I get most of the mother stories, and honestly most of them have been different from each other, but that’s the point we all have a story to tell. When you read Annie’s story you can feel her heartache, but her strength brought her to where she is today.
Read her story in her own words:
My mommy story focuses on the births of my babies. I am, after all, a midwife, and I feel that these experiences shaped who I am as a mother. I got pregnant the first time in November of 2007. I was 27 years old and had been wanting to have a baby for a couple of years. My husband was finally ready and I was incredibly excited. I knew I wanted to have my baby at home and hired two wonderful midwives. I had a hunch at this time that I wanted to study midwifery, but wasn’t quite ready yet. I was looking forward to the pregnancy as a way to broaden my understanding of the process.
My pregnancy was really easy, and happy; what you could call “textbook”…. until it wasn’t. At 38 weeks, anxiously awaiting my due date, I saw my midwife and reported that I hadn’t felt my baby move all day. She tried for a while to get heart tones with the doppler, and couldn’t. We drove over to the hospital for an ultrasound to confirm that my baby was no longer alive. It was, needless to say, very sad. Faced with the option of going home and awaiting labor to start on its own, or having labor induced in the hospital, I chose the latter. I really just wanted to have my baby. The idea of waiting seemed like torture at the time.
The induction was easy, and soon I was in labor. The staff was great and really gave me my space. My midwives were there and supported me through the whole process. It was a typical first labor, long and hard. Really hard. What I came away with, after my baby was born, was not only feelings of loss and grief, but feelings of strength, courage, and empowerment. I felt that after fighting through that labor with my breath and tears, that I could do anything. I knew undoubtedly that I had the strength to get through anything that life may throw my way. I also knew with certainty after my first birth experience that I wanted to be a midwife. I saw the power of birth and its ability to transform us and empower us to be strong and courageous women and mothers. My grieving process of course did not end there.
We learned our little boy had Down’s Syndrome, named him Cherub, and buried him on our property in the Colorado mountains, Every part of me ached for him. I did the only thing that seemed right at the time… I got pregnant again! Studying midwifery helped me get through the second pregnancy which seemed really, really long.
My son Samson was born peacefully at home exactly one year and two days after Cherub. I finally had my baby! The labor was so much easier, and we were just so in love and happy. I was grateful to be at home, comfortable in my own bed, and undisturbed. When I became pregnant a couple of years later with my third, I was sort of expecting the birth to be a breeze. I felt like I was getting pretty good at this and Samson’s birth was relatively easy. The pregnancy was tough. It was the third one in four years. Nonetheless I was ready and well rested when I went into labor. It was a lovely labor at home during the daylight hours. I remember crying at one point because it was just such a beautiful experience.
But alas Franklin did not simply “fall out” as expected. I pushed and pushed for hours with no progress. I was a fairly advanced midwifery student by this time and could tell by my own examination that he was not budging. Oh my, did it hurt! Discouraged, frustrated, and totally over it, I decided transport to the hospital where my third son was born via c-section. After two vaginal births, it was the last thing I expected. Franklin’s birth has taught me a lot about letting go and accepting. I’m still working on it. So there you have it, could it be the triple crown of childbirth? A stillbirth, home birth, and c-section? I am a licensed midwife now, and love being a mother to my two little guys.
There are days when I am certainly short on patience and not winning any mothering awards, but I make an effort to show them how much they are loved every day. I would love to have a daughter, but know there are no guarantees. My practice is sleepy enough that I get to be at home with my kids most of the time, but also gives me the opportunity to get away, and be someone other than “mommy”. It’s really perfect. My journey has been challenging, but I see all of it as a gift. I have to believe that we all have so much to learn from the hardships in our lives, and I have been blessed with a loving and supportive family to help me along my way.
Annie you have been through three different births, what emotion can you describe you had with each birth and define the word?
I’m pretty sure I experienced just about every emotion with each birth! If I had to highlight one from each I would say grief, excitement, and love. During Cherub’s birth I was sad, and I cried a lot. The physicality of labor was an amazing vector for releasing my grief. For me, grief just meant feeling sad knowing I had lost something that I loved deeply. During Samson’s birth I was so ready to have a baby! I had been pregnant for two years straight! I remember jumping up and feeling giddy when my midwife said I was almost 8 cm. They were laughing at me. My excitement could be defined as joyful impatience! With Franklin’s birth I felt so blessed during my labor. I was listening to beautiful music and was soaking in a tub with my 2 yr old. Feeling love felt like peace and calm and fullness inside. This peace and calm turned into frustration and at times panic, but I’m choosing to focus on the positive here!
What drew you to be a midwife?
What sealed the deal was my birth experience with Cherub. I saw the power of childbirth to transform us as women. I feel that my healing journey would have been so much more difficult if I had not labored and birthed in such an empowered way. I also think that the way we are brought into the world shapes us as people. I want to support women to have healthy pregnancies and gentle births. Peace on Earth begins with birth!
I can’t imagine the feelings you had when you were 38 weeks pregnant, describe the moment you didn’t hear a heartbeat?
I remember it pretty well. I wasn’t saying anything and neither was my midwife. We both knew what was happening but we didn’t know what to say. I remember it being really quiet and we both listened to the doppler. It was clear after 10 or 20 seconds that it wasn’t there, but she tried for a while. I think I was holding my breath, and just was deep in my own head. I felt calm but knew my heart was racing.
What is it like to loose a child and then give birth to two healthy children?
I don’t think it was any different for me than anyone who hadn’t lost a baby, except for the “finally” feeling when Samson was born. I’m sure other women feel this way too after losing babies, or having fertility problems. I was never afraid that it would happen again. It just didn’t seem possible.
I have always tried to parent intuitively. Of course I have reached out to books, blogs, friends, and family as well. I firmly believe that every family is different, and there is no one size fits all guide to parenting. I love Alfie Cohen and would love to be able to parent with unconditional love, and employ empathy in difficult moments. It’s hard, as all you parents out there know! I’m not the best at fostering independence, and probably do too much for them, and I’m definitely a softie and have a hard time with boundaries! It’s a work in progress, and I try to remember that they will grow up some day, so I should slow down and cherish their childhood.
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
I nominate Lisa McCorry. She was the first friend of mine to become a mother, and I have watched her family grow. I have seen Lisa put her time, energy, and heart into being a good mother, and respect that she continues to evolve as a woman and a mother, and adapt to life’s challenges. Lisa’s family helped make parenting real for me as I was getting ready to start my own. I was forced to ditch the fairytale and get ready for the chaos that is a house full of kids! Thank you Lisa!