Life in Circles: Giving birth to change.

June 4, 2016
Tracey Chapman

Tracey Chapman

Life In Circles by Stephanie Wagner.

Sponsored by Pro-Master Carpet Cleaning, 231-757-9061, promastercarpetcleaning.com.

There are moments in all of our lives where we simply refer to “before” and “after”. We may not know it at the time, but they are the game changers, the forks in the road, the defining moments.

For Tracey Chapman, like many other women, it began when she experienced childbirth for the first time.

At the beginning of the pregnancy, Tracey was working part-time as the executive director for the West Shore Pregnancy Care Center. Neither she nor her husband, Jim, had employer-provided health insurance. Fortunately, they were able to purchase a private self -funded policy, but that only covered a small portion of their medical costs.

Then, just two weeks before the birth, Jim lost his job due to a downturn in the economy.  They suddenly found themselves with no income.  Tracey quickly dove into applying for public assistance to get them through the 8 weeks it would take for Jim to find work again, but remained committed to the home birth.

“It sounds strange, but we made the decision to choose home birth initially strictly based on finances. Even with insurance, we just couldn’t afford a hospital birth, and so we started looking into other options.

“I don’t even remember how we learned about Patrice, but I am so glad that we did.  Our home birth experience really changed everything, even though we didn’t know it at the time.”

“Patrice” is Patrice Bobier, a certified professional midwife (CPM), and the owner and operator of Full Circle Midwifery, Inc. of Hesperia. According to her website, she has personally attended over 1550 home births since she began her practice in 1983.

“Using a midwife was just such an empowering experience. I can’t describe it any other way. I never felt scared or like I wasn’t in complete control of my body and birth experiences.”

Tracey describes herself as “not a stereo-typical home birther” – at least not at that time.  

“I knew people who had chosen home births, but I really didn’t know a lot about it.  We weren’t organic veggies-all-the-time kind of people, we were more McDonald’s and Hamburger Helper!

promaster 111813“My husband was really skeptical at first. We don’t have big birthing centers like in cities where the doctors and midwives all work together. Here, if you work with a midwife, it’s at home.

“It took some convincing for him to agree, and we talked with the midwives before making any decisions in the beginning.”

Tracey admits that it helped to have the hospital close by in case of an emergency, as well as a huge amount of trust in her midwives.

“I knew that Patrice would immediately refer me or get me to the hospital if there were any complications, or if anything happened that was beyond her means.  All of my prenatal care was external exams only, no ultrasounds or blood work. They really helped me understand and trust my body.

“Our bodies are designed to give birth.  Most of the time, that happens naturally without complications.”

With her firstborn son, Tracey was in labor for over 48 hours.  Her midwives were at her side for the majority of that time, monitoring, comforting, encouraging.

“The baby’s head was turned sideways, with his fist up near his neck, and he kept getting stuck. Patrice was able to guide me through movements that shifted his position, and I was able to deliver him naturally.  I am certain that if I had been in a hospital, they would have intervened. I would probably have had drugs to speed up labor, and a C-section.

“The midwives stayed so calm.  I never thought ‘I can’t do this’. Unfortunately, I did end up with a tear. Patrice took me to the emergency room and stayed right with me while I was stitched. She helped me be informed so that I made decisions that were right for me, not just because that is the way things are always done.”

When Tracey found out she was pregnant again just 8 months later, she contacted Patrice immediately.

“There was no question that this one was going to be a home birth too.

“When Jim lost his job and I was off without paid maternity benefits, it was a scary time, but I learned a lot about a system that we had never had to interact with before. We were able to get food assistance, along with WIC, which helped us until we both went back to work. I know there are people who abuse that system, but it really got us through a hard time. That is exactly what it is there for.

“Our home births, having to file all the piles of paperwork for assistance, realizing that we could get more food than we could even eat, but not diapers or cash for other baby items – it really made me think about all of the things in our lives that we just accept because they have always been that way.”

The experience of choosing home birth over hospital birth was the first step in a longer journey of changes for Tracey and her family.  

“I started to question things more – not necessarily to question the system, but just to be more informed. I wanted to make the best decisions about what was right for us, and most of the time, I didn’t even realize that there was a choice.  It was important to me to be informed and educated about all of the options out there, because what it best for someone else might not be what is best for our family. It is so individual.

“It didn’t all change right away. And we are definitely still a work in progress but the homebirth experiences as a whole were the catalyst I believe to empowering me to taking charge of my health and that of my family.  I started to wonder what else in my life had I just been taking for granted.”

Tracey started with small changes. First to go were the chemical cleaning products.  Then striving towards the removal of artificial additives in the family’s food, and an emphasis on whole food nutrition. She joined a local food co-op. And then two years ago, Tracey left her job to stay at home more with her boys.

“I just felt called to be more present at home.”

For the six months immediately following the shift from work to home, she made it a rule to not take on any commitments.

“I needed to pray through and figure out this new identity that God had for me, and I knew if I just filled it up with other things, I wouldn’t be able to do that. I knew my tendency would be to jump into/try too many things and the whole reason for being home was to be more purposeful with my family.

“The home birth experience made me realize that if I can do that, I can do anything. We are all so much stronger than we think. And yet, we still need each other. I couldn’t have done that without my team – Jim rubbing my back for hours on end, the midwives coaching me along, everyone just doing their part.

“I think we can all help each other. I have found this great community of people who have supported me as I have made these changes, and I want to continue to empower others to be informed so they then too can make the best choices for themselves and their families.

“If my story can help someone else feel empowered to ask a question, to choose a different path, to consider home-birth, to lead a healthier life– I want to share it.”

Circles of women, sharing stories, empowering other women to share theirs.

 

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