There was a moment during Shirin's family pictures last year when all 12 eyes of her children looked up at me to smile for the camera.
They had made precious people.
These kids were well mannered and full of life.
Personally, I had never been around a large family like this.
Shirin and Ted found me during their first trimester.
They reached out accepting my offer to buy coffee.
When they told me they were expecting their 7th baby, I thought they were joking.
Nothing against the idea of a big family,
I just had never worked with anyone with more than 4 or 5 children.
They spoke truthfully about their family and I was moved.
So often we hear negative things or digs regarding large families, but...have any of you been fortunate enough to be actually be around a dedicated and intentional love like this kind?
Meeting a family that has this kind of captivating dynamic?
I know I sound like a fan girl but I can't help it.
Here I am debating if I am going to have second child and this incredible woman is on her 7th. Radiating in her pregnancy.
Full of strength and poise.
After our consult was over, we decided to work together.
Shirin had wants and wishes.
Her previous births ranged on all sides of the spectrum.
All in hospitals or birth centers.
This time, she wanted things to be different.
She wanted a home birth.
To freely labor where she felt the safest.
Where she felt the most love.
No more hospitals.
No birthing center.
No unsupportive care.
No "emergencies" or emergencies.
Things that every woman should be able to have, if they choose.
As her due date neared, I knew she would probably deliver early.
Given all of her previous pregnancies, she delivered early almost every time.
If second time babies are normally faster than the first...I was taking zero chances on her 7th birth pulling a fast one on me.
Shirin's birth team and I stayed in contact with one another to make sure we all were on the same page for her. I was thankful for her team. We all had meetings and conversations to help her achieve this as successfully as possible.
Shirin called me weeks before her due date to let me know that there was a possible complication.
If we didn't take certain measures for her pregnancy, she would have to transfer to a hospital.
When the day came where she may have had to be transferred, Shirin was determined to do her home birth.
Under professional care in her home, her midwife and assistants were keeping a close eye on her.
If Shirin wanted her dream labor, she needed some natural remedies to get the ball rolling.
Being on the same page, we waited for the measures to take effect. The midwives left to give them space and time together.
Later that morning, she let me know that she was in early labor.
You better believe I got there as soon as I could.
I arrived before anyone else.
When I entered the house, I found her in the back room riding out contractions in her chair. Ted was awaiting anything she may have needed.
The children were in school. The house was tranquil amongst the laboring moans.
I was surprised but shouldn't have been surprised to realize how far along Shirin appeared to be in her labor process.
She wasn't speaking very much. I assumed we were nearing active labor if not already in it.
Soon after I set up, Teri entered the room.
Confident and prepared.
Wearing the face of a warrior protecting and monitoring her patient.
Her doula, Sarah, showed up shortly after Teri.
After assessing the energy in the room, she encouraged techniques to help aide her discomfort by moving freely.
She encouraged stairs as they help open the pelvic muscles so baby moves downward as effectively as possible. This encouraged longer and louder birth cries.
Ted knew that is wife liked to labor with minimal touching so he respected her space. Only touching her when she asked.
During our last meet up, Sarah had mentioned that they have an affirmation banner that they take to every birth. A right of passage, if you will, in honoring other women who birthed before. Them passing along strength in a sort of tangible way.
They were not sure if it was still at the previous birth and said they would try to get it to her birth.
I walked into the bedroom to find Ted hanging up the banner from the women before above the banners her children had created for her.
Shirin didn't even realize this until the birth was over, that was how quickly things were going.
After changing, she was helped into the pool.
Various positions were utilized.
Allowing her to be alone in this space and listen to what her body needed.
Tug o war was introduced.
In certain laboring positions, like the one below, using this pulling action can help activate rectal muscles push baby down effectively.
More often than not, we are told to push with our vaginas but this isn't always the best method. This can cause more tearing than necessary.
Pulling oneself upright can engage these muscles that are used to staying tense unless using the restroom.
After several tries, Shirin was exhausted.
Labor was picking up fast.
She decided to flip over to help relieve pressure in her uterus.
Shirin was encouraged to use the restroom.
Sitting on the toilet can be a remarkable tool.
As mentioned earlier with tug o war, the muscle memory being on the toilet can allow women to feel more comfortable with relaxing this part of their bodies.
This also creates more room for baby to move through a less tense birth canal.
She began grunting.
We made our way to the bed so that Teri could swipe away the stubborn cervix that was causing her delay. After this, she let her know that her baby was ready to come out and we needed to get into the water NOW.
After a few low moans, she switched sides of the pool. Transition was coming.
She began roaring the call of ancestral motherhood and womanhood.
With all of us marveling at her, she came undone.
And in the fastest exit, I had ever seen, their baby was born into the water.
As the rain started to come down outside, gasps of joy and relief flooded the room.
Ted was in shock.
It all had happened so fast.
He had turned around for one second to take off his watch so he could catch his baby and turned back around just in time to see the release.
Once it all seemed to register, he shouted,
"YOU DID IT! YOU DID IT!! WOW!"
Then they found out together that their baby was a boy.
While he was shouting triumph cries of fatherhood, she cried,
"I love you. I love you, baby." over and over to their child.
Teri's assistant, Laura, helped secure the baby onto Shirin's chest.
This was the most peaceful baby I had ever seen. It was if he fell in love with his mother on sight. Knowing that she is his whole world and he is hers.
And there they sat.
In the cosmic chaos of their own galaxy.
She looked down and said,
He stared at her with his hand secured to her chest.
After leaving them to bond in the water, then came the after birth recovery portion.
The postpartum goodness that is my absolutely favorite thing about birth.
She wanted to do skin to skin for as long as possible and delay cord clamping until it the umbilical cord pulsated white. She wanted all of that blood she and him fought so hard to make to go back into his body where it should be.
Ted made food to replenish energy and nutrients that Shirin had lost during the birth.
While she ate, he relished in skin to skin with his son.
Lars begun to root for milk.
Once latched, we suddenly heard the pittering and pattering of Lar's tribe.
The kids were home from school.
They had no idea their mother had given birth.
Their excitement was wonderful.
They were eager to learn and help with their youngest sibling.
Their eldest quickly understood the need for postpartum attention and care.
She offered her mother water without anyone directing her to do so.
When the kids started asking what the placenta was and what purposed it served, I looked onto Shirin. The midwives and I wanted to make sure their mother's grace was given before we showed them anything or explained what had happened.
Specifically, they wanted to see the placenta and to understand what it was. They didn't understand, through words, what the amniotic sac was and what purpose it served.
I was thrilled!
Here are the very souls we are told cannot comprehend such things or would have any interest...but here they were.
Hungry to understand.
This moment with them was everything to me.
They had the opportunity to understand a part of womanhood and life that they would have never found outside of their parents open minds.
Those young girls will know more about themselves and her sons will possibly be more empathetic towards women and the life they create in their lives.
Speaking with them was simply the highlight of my career.
Shortly after their last child arrived to meet Lars, the family was finally all together.
After all of the questions the kids asked were answered, I couldn't help but truly respect and admire Shirin and Ted.
They don't know this, but their love of family encouraged an appreciation that I would have never considered appreciating before.
I'll never forget during their consult when I curiously asked if they had ever faced opposition or resistance in regards to them having a large family...
She smiled and looked me right in the eyes and said,
"I'll never care what other people think about my love for my family."
Shirin, you have changed my life. I am grateful to have had the chance to work with you and your family. You shattered preconceived notions I have been told my whole life and am forever humbled by you choosing my work to tell your birth story.
Thank you for sharing this experience with countless women and families who deserve representation around the world.
You are a force to be reckoned with.
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Midwifery Service: BundleBorn Midwifery & Pediatrics (Teri)
Doula Service: North Dallas Doula Associates (Sarah)