I was that person.
“No one cares,” I would mumble as I scrolled through social media and saw photos of people’s kids.
It was concerning how enraged I would get when I would post about something I did professionally and receive 48 likes, and someone would post, “Mom and Dad’s night out,” and get 343 likes.
I didn’t get it.
Fast forward to one of my 50 apps on my phone notifying me that I hadn’t marked that I got my period yet. It was then that I realized I was two weeks late. My husband, John, and I were a few hours away from a wine tasting dinner, and just in case, I took a pregnancy test. I barely pulled the stick away and it was positive.
I felt all of the blood flush from my face, and I ran to chug water and to take my backup test. There was no way.
I was wrong. It was super positive again. I ran downstairs and chucked the test at John as he was eating a snack on the couch, and I knocked his plate over.
He looked and started giggling with shock and joy. I was not so much. I was always 50/50 if I wanted children. That night I sadly gave my first performance of drinking juice out of a wine glass.
The first couple of weeks I saw more images of children on social media and noticed more ads with babies. I felt frantic. This was going to be my life?
Once my pregnancy was out in the open, everyone had the usual two cents. If one more person told me to enjoy sleep while I could, I was going to throw something through a window.
How was I going to be a mom? I would legit ask my friends if they wanted me to babysit in the past and everyone would awkwardly laugh and change the subject.
Kyle Determan, my co-worker and the normal author of this column, automatically began taking care of me and made sure I was okay. She’s almost 10 years younger than me, but she became my mentor in so many different ways. I told her all of my terrifyingly real dreams (so vivid when you’re pregnant). She gave me her pregnancy jeans and the cutest jumpsuit that made me feel like a person again. She cheered me up and laughed with me when I told her about weird smells or pains, and she would check in the second I would walk out of my appointments at Sanford Women’s to see how they went.
A month into my pregnancy I found out my friend Molly Kreutzfeldt was also expecting. I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time.
You see, to be honest, we were bar friends first. We had also played soccer and hung out professionally at events like South Dakota Advertising Federation luncheons. Our normal was talking about work at happy hour (that sometimes went until later in the evening).
Our new normal was meeting at bars/restaurants for its daily lunch specials and talking about how we couldn’t sleep and how much we missed being social, and would guess what was going to happen the next step of pregnancy and at birth (the most terrifying of the scenarios). We counted down by the hour when we would finally have our babies, and, most importantly, we were there when the other one needed to have a good laugh or cry. We still talk every day, and I don’t know what I could have done without her.
With my pregnancy, I finally started to get it. It wasn’t necessarily all about having a child (but I soon found out how incredible that was and felt). It was about supporting each other and showing how much we all care for one another, whether it was toward each other or to their unborn baby.
I was flabbergasted when my friends and people in the community were sending me cards, giving me really personal gifts, and were all genuinely so excited for us to add to our family. People I barely talked to or hadn’t spoken to in years reconnected with me.
And one unexpected relationship I’ll never forget came from the day of my birth. July 29, 2019 my water broke as I was on the phone trying to schedule being induced (I was more than a week overdue). I waddled into The Birth Place in Sanford Health where I checked in. It’s there that I met Hannah Sammons, a certified nurse-midwife. What I didn’t know (among many things) was that you get the midwife on call when you go into labor if you have a midwife for your pregnancy journey (ugh, old me would never say pregnancy journey).
WHAT DO CERTIFIED NURSE MIDWIVES DO?
+ We care for women throughout their lives, from teenage ears through menopause and beyond. We are grateful and privileged to walk alongside our patients through some of life’s most beautiful and vulnerable transitions.
+ We pride ourselves on caring for the whole person by incorporating aspects of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational health into our shared decision making.
+ We approach pregnancy as a normal part of a woman’s life cycle and support physiologic birth.
+ We trust and empower our patients as the experts of their bodies. We listen and partner with each person in making the best decisions for their healthy by sharing evidence-based information.
+ We work collaboratively with other members of the care team (OB/GYN, MFM, nurses, doulas) to optimize care at all risk levels.
She walked in and it was like I had known Hannah my whole life. We were joking around about things like feeling contractions in my butt (legit, something else I didn’t know was a thing). She made me feel safe, and at the same time, made me feel like I had a friend there who had amazing healthcare skills and even better calming skills. When it was time for her shift to end and I hadn’t given birth yet, I actually felt sad.
“I’ll be back at 7 a.m. tomorrow, but hopefully Baby will be out by then.”
Baby was not out by then. I was in labor for almost 24 hours and then had to wave the white flag and have a c-section. Turns out I did see Hannah again, and she was the one to tell me this as she started her morning shift. I could tell by her eyes that she could see how sad and disappointed I was, but she made me feel okay about things not going as planned, even after all of the pain and long hours of labor.
SOME MIDWIFE MYTHS
“Midwives only do home birth.”
Only five percent of certified nurse midwives in the U.S. currently attend home births. You will most often find them in a hospital working alongside a team of OB/GYNs and Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists.
“Midwives won’t let you have an epidural.”
We support all styles of labor pain management, from water birth to epidural.
“Midwives only focus on pregnancy and birth.”
A CNM also sees patients for annual visits, PAP smears, birth control counseling, STI screening, and anything else related to gynecologic or reproductive health.
“A Midwife is the same thing as a doula.”
While they work side by side with doulas to support patients in labor, their roles differ. A doula is a trained professional who provides continuous emotional and physical support to women in labor, where a CNM has received their Masters of Doctorate degree specializing in Midwifery.
Everything after that was a blur. I met my baby, Owen, soon after and was moved upstairs. My focus for the next 24 hours was trying to mend and spend time with our new baby (and then try to figure out what we were actually doing). The following day I was in bed, feeling feelings because I was so sore and John was running an errand, and Hannah walked in.
I could feel my eyes well up, and she sat on the end of the bed and checked on me. It meant so much to have her talk through with me how I was doing, what the experience was like for me, and then mentioned how she watched Harry Potter during one of her last breaks (which was a nice break from talking about birth and the baby for a second). After all of that we went in for a hug, and it was such a nice bookend to the labor and delivery.
What I’m trying to get at is that this whole ordeal was a gift I didn’t realize I needed. It woke me up to how incredible humans are, and it was a great reminder that we all do care about each other and can be really, truly kind to one another.
It also gave me my favorite human, Owen. There, I said it. Look who joined the club. And don’t worry, it’s on social media, too.