How did you hear about the birth center and what made you decide to consider giving birth there?

After my first child was born, I learned that there was much more to the birth world than I realized. That is when I decided I would prefer an out-of-hospital birth for future children. Fast forward some time, and I heard from a fellow runner mom that a group of women were looking to start a birth center in Wichita Falls. Around the time I got pregnant with our second child, the Wichita Falls Birth & Wellness Center was being painted and would be hosting an open house in a few weeks. My husband and I attended and I fell in love with the birth center. A couple weeks later, I met one on one with Lenora and she won me over in an instant with her calm, soothing persona. With our third baby, it was widely known we would be returning to the birth center and adding Wendy to our birth team.

Did you have any concerns about giving birth in a birth center? What were they (if so) or why not (if not)?

My main concern was how meconium in the amniotic fluid would be handled as my first birth had meconium present. I also wondered if I’d be able to make it through labor without pain medicine. The second time around, I had ZERO concerns because I fully trusted Lenora and Wendy, and well… I’d done it once before!

If you had concerns how did you overcome them?

During the open house, I asked about meconium and was reassured that meconium is not uncommon and rarely causes issues. In the unlikely event there were issues, the birth team at the birth center were trained in resuscitation.

Was your husband/spouse/partner on board? What about extended family members or friends?

My husband was more comfortable with the birth center after the open house, but he always supported my decision. He had zero hesitation in returning for our 3rd child. My grandmother was the one I had to convince the most. She joined me for one of my prenatal visits to tour the facility and meet Lenora and it seemed to convince her.

How did you know you were in labor?

I knew I was FINALLY in labor with my second child when I took a shower and contractions sped up instead of subsiding. I was fairly certain I was in true labor after steady contractions for nearly 2 hours. Looking back, my subconscious knew I was in labor, but my logical mind was reading too much into my ability to cope so I was doubtful this was the real thing. I should note I had weeks worth of prodromal labor with babies #2 & #3

How did you know it was time to get to the birth center?

I was beginning to need help coping so I was ready to go in and meet my doula and birth team. After taking a shower as a last ditch “is this the real thing?”, my contractions were intense. I could no longer talk during a contraction so we knew it was time to go.

Tells us how your birth went-did you use water, nitrous, movement, a doula, etc.? How did you cope?

My first labor at the birth center, second child, my doula helped me cope with counter pressure, reassuring words, and a positive vibe. My birth team was 4 women: my midwife, Lenora, 2 birth assistants, Molly & Tonia, and my doula, Michelle. The atmosphere was one of quiet power, trust, and encouragement. I tried the swing, hands & knees on the bed, and the tub, but didn’t find much comfort as my feet would go numb or my legs would tire. For the most part I set on the yoga ball until it was time to push.

For my second birth at the birth center (third child), I opted not to have a doula. I trusted my team and my ability to make it through an unmedicated birth. My husband really stepped it up helping me cope at home and getting me to the birth suite. Once in my room, I told Wendy that I preferred not to be checked, and got straight in the tub. 3, maybe 4 contractions later (during which I was white-knuckling the tub), my baby was born straight into my hands! My husband actually missed her being born, as he was settling our stuff into the room.

What was the best part of your birth, aside from meeting your baby?

Hands down the herbal bath both times. It was relaxing, allowed me to really get to know my baby’s features, and did AMAZING things for healing.

Bonding in an Herbal Bath

What was the most challenging part?

Pushing was the toughest part of my second birth. I had some swelling so the discomfort was very intense. Getting from the car to our birth suite felt impossible with my third birth. I ended up on all fours in the parking lot, squatting in the foyer, and honestly wondered if I could make it up the stairs.

How did you feel about going home so soon after the birth?

I loved getting to go home so soon. I couldn’t rest well in an unfamiliar bed and I wanted to be with my other children. Plus after my third birth, I was wired. The fatigue didn’t hit me until a couple hours after we got home.

Did Lenora come all the way to your house for a home visit? What did you think about that?

Yes, Lenora came to our house 2 days postpartum with our second child. It was very nice to not have to get dressed and leave the house. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, house calls were not possible with our third child.

Are there any parts of your story with us you’d like to share? Anything funny, heartwarming, or even something that was hard but you overcame it?

I never had a pelvic exam during labor with my third baby. In fact Wendy and Lenora only had my sounds to use as guides for how close I was to delivering. At one point, Wendy told the birth assistant to chart “pushing”. I attempted to correct her by saying “head” meaning baby was crowning and I could feel the head. She interpreted my noise as a grunt and exclaimed “we have a baby” one push/contraction later. At that point my poor husband rushed in and stared at me for what seemed an eternity for him until I finalized realized he was looking to me to see if our baby was a boy or a girl as we were team green.

Lenora Checks Baby’s Weight

Story submitted by Haley Papenthien