Our Unforgettable Birth – Mattie Elizabeth’s Story

I spent a few hours with a “crunchy” mom yesterday.  Her philosophy and strength inspired me!  She reminded me that a woman’s strength is unsurpassed!  She shed light on the emotions that I experienced surrounding Mattie’s birth, and allowed me to put those emotions into words….9 weeks later.

Joey and I discussed our preferences for pregnancy and labor/delivery in depth!  With the blessing of EXPOSURE, we knew we had a lot of CHOICES to make.  Let me elaborate; it seems to be the “norm” to discover your pregnancy…basque in the joy, then immediately consult your obstetritian….everyone knows all the things that COULD go wrong!!  Our thinking is a little different than that.  The journey that our chiropractic lifestyle has led us on, has illuminated many alternatives to this thought pattern.  Not that one is right or wrong, they are just different, and we are advocates of EVERY family being informed of their choices 🙂

After confessing our hearts desires, we chose to consult with a midwife (you can read more about that in my blog about our pregnancy).  After we decided on our midwife, our birth plan began to take shape.  The birthing center is in Marshall, TX (approximately 2 hours from our home in Calhoun, LA).  The basic plan was to drive west when we were sure it was the real deal.  Yes, we had many eyebrows raised at our decision, but we were confident that our birth was in God’s hands and that His will would be done regardless of our plans!

My guess date was July 16th.  The week prior to that Saturday, I began to have contractions….maybe Braxton-Hicks??  They were not very intense and had no regularity to them, but I began to get excited.  Then the guess date came and went; I then began to get frustrated.  As I commonly admit I am a control freak & I like to have my expectations met!  This was not part of the plan!!  HAHA!  Anyhow, the following week I did not have any signs of labor.  Monday morning, the 25th of July, I lost my mucous plug.  I began to closely monitor my cervix.  All day Monday, no signs of labor.  We went to bed with the myriad of pillows.  At 11:15pm I woke up with a very intense contraction, nothing like any of the ones before.  I immediately felt the need to use the restroom.  After I had done my business, I stood up and felt a trickle down my leg.  The small puddle on the floor had a little bit of blood in it.  By this time I decided to wake Joey up…I think this is it!  After Joey came out of his sleep coma, he put his game face on!!!  We waited to see if there was another contraction.  Sure enough at 11:30 we had another intense contraction.  We decided that we should head that way so that we could make the trip before it got “serious.”  We loaded the car, headed that way and began waking everyone up!!

Jen, our midwife, suggested checking into a hotel once we got to Marshall to allow us to labor in privacy until it got “serious.”  We agreed and proceeded at 90mph with much excitement!!  Once we got to Shreveport, we had to stop for me to use the restroom & grab a few snacks.  Once back on the road, contractions bumped up to every 6 minutes and the intensity increased.  With Jen’s advice, we decided to get checked at the birth center before we made any other plans…..then we passed Jen on the highway 🙂 

Once at the birth center (1:20 am), Jen determined I was dilated to a 6 and contractions were around 5 minutes apart.  I was still fairly comfortable at this point and decided to get my swim suit on (in case I wanted in the birthing tub later), but I wanted to lay in the bed.  I was already pretty tired!  I quickly decided that was uncomfortable and got in the tub.  During contractions I would lean over the side of the tub while sitting on my knees.  In between contractions I would lean back in exhaustion.  Sooner than later contractions were coming every 2 minutes (about 3:30 am).  Now I’m really tired!!  As I was told later, I began pushing about 4:00 am.  Jen & Charlotte (midwives) encouraged me to change positions, but I resisted. 

In preparation for our birth, I read A LOT about natural pain management techniques, midwife recommendations, Hypnobirthing, successful birth stories, etc.  In the midst of my reading, I stumbled on an article that accredited successful, natural, drug-free births to the mother’s support system.  I thought it was an interesting angle.  Joey and I had discussed how we anticipated to communicate during labor.  For example, we had invited our whole family (well immediate family) to the birth, so I had asked him to be the regulator of any stinkin’ thinkin’.  If he heard anybody verbally expressing concern, worry or doubt – he had to ask them to go outside.  I also asked him to be my cheerleader and encourage me while gently coaching me.  Never would I have dreamed of just how supportive and encouraging he would be!!!  Joey kneeled beside the tub the entire labor.  He whispered sweet motivational words to me and constantly reassured me of how great I was doing.  He would  share positive points about our progress and again remind me that he was proud of me.  He got me cold water, he knows room temperature water is not my favorite!  He held the straw for me to sip the water.  He dabbed my forehead with cool rags until my mom got there and helped him support me.  He would ask if I needed anything at just the right moment.  He went home with bruises on his arms from where he let me grip and pull as he supported me during the contractions.  He probably is a little shy of his full auditory potential from the level of noise that I put in his ear!!!  The list goes on….Joey is responsible for the calm and strength that empowered me to deliver our baby girl without the influence of drugs or surgery, not to mention in a little less than 7 hours!

So, Mattie Elizabeth was born at 5:55 am on Tuesday, July 26th; the same day as her Aunt Shelby only 15 years prior 🙂  The moment was magical!!  Seriously, the most amazing emotion-filled time of my entire life!  As I mentioned, I began to push about 4:00 am.  It seemed like every contraction brought her a little closer to my arms!  After pushing for a while, and me declining the midwives recommendations to change positions, they sternly but sweetly encouraged me that I really needed to change positions.  I went from leaning over the tub on my knees to a more supine position with my back against the tub.  The next contraction Charlotte asked me to push really hard.  Contraction came, I pushed and Mattie came flying out!!  Charlotte immediately put her on my chest.  It all happened so quick I was still waiting for the next contraction when I realized our litle miracle was in my arms!!  Tears filled my eyes and the sensation of Joey’s touch on my shoulders became more apparent.  When I looked up, entering the “real world,” leaving the contraction – to – contraction world, I saw the most beautiful sight!  Our entire family GLOWING at us!!  Each person had the most amazing smile on their face.  There were tears, flashes from cameras, crying, laughing, but most of all the feeling of love was simply palpable!  I truely feel like each person that shared that wonderful moment with us made an imprint of love on Mattie that will never fade!

A few minutes later, Jen & Charlotte wanted me to move to the bed so they could help me deliver the placenta.  I carried my PERFECT bundle of love to the bed.  They continued to care for me while I began soaking up Mattie’s every little inch!  Within about 15 minutes of her delivery, Mattie began to nurse and did so for the following 45 minutes.  I was filled with pride and amazement of her God-given ability to know exactly what to do and the perfection with which she did it.  After Mattie was satisfied, Joey put her in his arms and my heart filled with love yet again!  The sight of him holding her and the fresh emotions of how awesome he is combined to flood my heart with undescribeable joy!

I was given an herbal bath to help begin the healing my body needed.  Shortly afterwards, Mattie had her newborn exam.  She passed with flying colors of course 🙂  She weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and measured 22.25 inches long.  We covered her precious little body with her first touch of clothing and then began to share her.  While the family stared at her and passed her around, I grabbed a bite to eat and then we started to load the car.  It was so heart-warming to see all the men being so careful with her as they buckled her in her seat.  After I fixed the buckle-job that they did (shoulder straps around her waist!!), we headed home at 9:30 am.  Mattie and I both slept the whole way home.  We made it safely home and then continued to sleep.  All has been wonderfully blissful ever since!

Everyone asks how bad it hurt, so I’ll try to put that into words.  It was painful, really painful, BUT I was also amazed at how comfortable I was.  That doesn’t make any sense, I know….I am just in awe of how my body had this wonderful plan and knew exactly what to do.  I remember a lot of noises; as the men would report, very loud noises.  I am convinced that those noises somehow evacuated the pain from my mind.   In my experience, I think the pain was worse than I expected, but I handled it better than I expected.  With all that said, once I held her in my arms, any pain that I had was gone.  Overall, I would say it is something that any woman who is willing to COMMIT to a drug-free, surgery-free deliver in their MIND can accomplish. 

Today I read an article in Pathways Magazine where Ima May Gaskin, the godmother of midwifery, quoted a Japanese obstetrician.  He said, a woman is in her full power while giving birth; it is a “mystic beauty.”  I have often looked at birth photography, during labor or following delivery, and appreciated the glow and beauty in the mother’s eyes.  I now have felt that “mystic beauty.”  It is a feeling I will always cherish!

I would like to conclude with a THANK YOU to our birth team, especially Joey; our photographer, Awesome Aunt Amy; and all of our family for supporting us during our pregnancy, labor and delivery!  Mattie and I could not have done it without each of you!

With love and appreciation,

Dr. Taryn Lowery

A Whole New Life From One Father’s Perspective

It’s going on six weeks now since we welcomed, Mattie Elizabeth Lowery, into the world, and I still wake up wondering if I have been dreaming.  I open my eyes only to see the most beautiful thing ever.  Back in November of 2010, 0ur beautiful angel was just a dream I envisioned.  After the initial excitement of the news settled into my head, I got into preparation mode.  By that I mean I felt it was only fair to both my wife and baby to prepare the best I could for the arrival.  That took searching for all the answers to my questions I had internally.  Questions such as 1) What do I do as a father? 2) Am I ready 3) How can I be as much of an assistance as possible to my wife, and our child, while we await her arrival?

I started first as only I know how and began to read the many reference books we had accumulated as time went on.  Secondly, I spoke with several fathers who had a similar route we chose to take by having their children at a birthing center with a midwife to get their perspective on how they prepared.  They were a huge help to me not only for their experience, but their support as well.    Mentally I thought about how I could be more of a help around the house as time went on to help take the load off my wife.  We joked by saying either I was becoming more valuable in the relationship, or she was becoming more needy.  She said it was both ways.  Lastly, I mentally prepared myself for the upcoming event.  After this whole beautiful process had flown by, we both knew it was just the teaser to the big day, or night.  I needed to match my wife’s calmness, or counter her anxiousness in order to be the best support group I could be.

I would like to inject a side note.  For all the fathers to be out there, you have no idea what an impact you will have on the birthing experience you both hope to have if you do your homework.  Yes, you have homework!  The “bun in the oven” doesn’t cook near as well if mom feels she preparing all on her own.  We have always had a teamwork mentality at our house, and this was no different.  I knew I wasn’t having the baby, but I could still be in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.  You have every right and calling to do the same.  I couldn’t have imagined how much of an influence I had on Mattie being born.  Our family members were praising me just as much as they were Taryn for helping bring Mattie into the world.  In my heart all I did was cheerlead, but apparently I did pretty well. 

I knew I could be a big help to my wife’s health by keeping her adjusted on a regular basis.  Pregnancy can be such an easier process when mommy’s spinal health is at its best.  Her body is changing day by day, so if her body is given a chance to adapt to these changes, the chance of a great birth is so much better.  These misalignments in the spine not only could have effected my wife’s delivery, but also her overall health while carrying Mattie.  We also searched out and found a great prenatal vitamin for Taryn to take.  She could definitely tell they were keeping her nutritional needs sitisfied.  There were actually a few other ladies who were expecting around the same time we were, and it felt like they expected Taryn to share how miserable physically she was feeling as they were experiencing.  I can honestly say I heard my wife express her feeling less than great maybe 2 or 3 times.  Feeling this way usually pertained to last few weeks of pregnancy due to the uncomfortable positions in bed which usually kept her from getting a great night’s sleep.  In my heart, I know she was only able to feel great due to her regular adjustments,  her nutrition, and most of all giving her positive feedback on how great I think she was doing, and what a wonderful mother I thought she would be. 

The big moment happened that Monday, July 25th, at 11:15pm, when she woke me up to say she thinks her water broke.  My heart was about to jump out of my chest, but I knew I had to keep it together for my wife.  I maintained composure, gathered all our gear, and off we go headed to Edenway Birthing Center in, Marshall, TX.  I tell everyone I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun driving 95+ mph down I-20 on the way there! We arrived at around 1:10am and things had progressed greatly.  Daddy really had to hold it togehter now!

Contraction after contraction, I was there cheering my wife on, wiping her forehead off to help cool her off, tell her what an amazing job she’s doing,  and keeping her hydrated and fed when she required it.  A few hours passed by and finally Mattie was crowning.  Reality was taken to another level when I saw the head.  Taryn was doing so great to keep her hips moving enough in the birthing pool not to get in an uncomfortable position.  The midwife then looks Taryn in the eye and suggests changing positions one last time to help Mattie’s head clear.  I jumped around the pool to a new position to comfort my wife, and then the most amazing thing happened.  Taryn feels one last contraction coming on, and fights through the last bit of pain (yes, there was pain even though I had not mentioned any yet), and out Mattie came at 5:55am, Tuesday, July 26th, 2011!  Total time from Taryn’s water breaking to Mattie being born was approximately less then seven hours!

I witnessed my wife do the most amazing thing ever, and I feel from the time she told me we were pregnant to the time of delivery she was now my Superwoman.  I wrote this to shout out to all the expecting fathers out there you have such a huge influence on your wife’s delivery.  We chose to have our daughter at the birthing center, but even if you’re having your child at the hospital, or even at home, get involved, get educated, and get inspired to be that rock for your wife.  Be that shoulder she can lean on while she has a contraction. Be that voice of confidence in her ear when she thinks she may not be able to get through the delivery from the pain.  Be that source of inspiration she requires when she doesn’t think she can go on from fatigue. 

I am proud to say my wife and I both welcomed our little girl into this world working together.  I believe we did the little things that made a big difference for our baby coming into the world.  Dad, you can do the same for your wife and children.  Jump at the opportunity to know what’s happening minute to minute throughout the entire pregnancy.  Trust me, your wife and newborn will be glad you did.  I hope you find it in you to step up for the experience of a lifetime as I did, because it was so worth it! 

Best wishes in family health and happiness,

Dr. Joey Lowery