Choosing a Home Birth Midwife

I should have posted about this sooner, because it happened awhile ago. Pretty much right after I found out we were pregnant, I began to research home birth midwives in the area (I guess I felt pretty good back then; it’s hard to remember such a time). I found five that I thought sounded pretty cool, printed out some info on each one, and sent them each an e-mail requesting a consultation meeting. Pretty soon I was inundated with schedule juggling, trying to fit them all in (I had contact doulas at the same time- more on that in a later post). For the interviews, I built my list of questions from the ones I found here.

We ended up interviewing the first midwife, a Certified Professional Midwife, at exactly five weeks. We met her in her quaint office in the Victorian parlor of a old mansion in Ypsilanti, MI. We immediately liked her a lot. She really took her time with us on that first meeting (over an hour), and we loved all the answers she gave to our gigantic list of questions. Three things really stood out about her to me: her emphasis on the experience of the mother and baby immediately following birth, the fact that she will do breech births, and the she can stitch up first or second degree tears. We could both already envision her as our midwife, but we wanted to interview others as well.

We did find out one disappointing thing during our first interview: the state of Michigan does not recognize the national CPM certification, though it does allow midwives to legally attend home births (thankfully!). As a result, our insurance will not cover any part of our midwife costs. Bummer. It’s worth it to both of us, though, and honestly we have had friends who ended up paying more out of pocket with insurance if they end up having a C-section than we will for the whole birth that takes place at home. Most of the midwives in our area offer a sliding scale for their services based on income since they want to avoid the scenario where a woman is forced to choose one type of birth just because she cannot afford the one she really wants.

We ended up not being able to see any other midwives until seven and a half weeks. First, we interviewed a Direct Entry Midwife who nevertheless had the most experience- over 20 years. She was also very organized with the information she gave us. We met her and her assistant at a restaurant and talked for about 45 minutes. One thing that disappointed me: it didn’t seem like she stitched up tears very often (or maybe she just didn’t have very many). We were temporarily mesmerized by her experience, but we had still felt most comfortable with the first midwife. Also, I don’t want to end up leaving home to go to the hospital anyway just to get a little tear stitched!

The next day we arrived in the hot little office of a group of three midwives. Despite wishing they’d turned on their air-conditioning that day, I did like the midwives. They had a very earthy approach and were very soft and mild-mannered. In the information packet they gave us, they included a lot of information about diet that let me know they are vegetarian and vegan-friendly. That was probably my favorite thing about them, plus the fact that three midwives combining their expertise and experience sounded pretty good to me. Perhaps their downfall, however, was that one of them had some really offensive b.o. that day. I was assuming it was just a one-time thing, caused by their failure to start their air-conditioning on one of the first very warm days of the year. My husband, however, couldn’t get past it, and insisted that he couldn’t stand smelling that in our home for however-many hours of labor. Well, I couldn’t either, but….

It was really an agonizing decision, made more difficult by the fact that I felt my husband couldn’t be objective about the third midwife group. In the end, however, we went with our hearts and guts and chose the first midwife, Stacia Proefrock and her midwife-in-training Cynthia Jackson of Trillium Birth Services. Stacia had the least experience of the three midwives, and I never thought I’d choose someone with the least experience, but we also felt that she knew what she was doing, was very good at what she does, and would make us both feel comfortable while supporting our vision of what we want the birth to be like. And I’m happy with our decision.

So far we’ve had one prenatal exam with Stacia, and it was great. The next one is scheduled for about a week and a half from now, and I’m excited because we will certainly be able to hear the baby’s heartbeat for the first time (at 10 weeks she was hiding)!

After so many years of reading about midwifery, actually getting to meet midwives was such a treat for me! I still can hardly believe that I will actually get to have the chance at the kind of birth I’ve dreamed of for so long 🙂

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