As the mother of three babies born at home, I have had the unique experience, as a result of circumstance, of hiring three different sets of attendants for each birth. Leah Hatcher attended my second birth, and I would have had her again, if she had not already had plans of being gone over baby #3’s due date, and then moved away. I can say with much confidence that of the four (two were a team) midwives I’ve had, Leah was the most thorough, most conscientious about her own education, and the best at helping me feel confident and prepared. If I had even the simplest question or the tiniest fear developing in the back of my mind, Leah listened, and she responded with articles, books, and very scientifically accurate, yet understandable explanations and discussion.
Not only that, but Leah is truly personable—a good friend. Leah possesses the ability to balance the assertive, professional nature required to be a midwife, while still remaining sensitive and extremely gentle. During all of my pre- and post-natal visits, as well as the birth, I felt that Leah was “all there” for me, focused and attentive to providing the very best care as my husband and I dictated.
When I first began seeing Leah regarding my second pregnancy, I still felt very much new to the birth scene, and I harbored some questions. First, I was nervous about the present and future condition of my perineum. I had had a second degree tear with my first baby, and our attendant at the time was not comfortable going to the hospital with us. To me, it seemed the tear had not healed properly. After I began seeing Leah, she had me see a doctor, who determined that while the tear had sufficiently healed (it didn’t feel like it to me), if I wished to have it sown up better, this would most effectively be done immediately after the upcoming birth. While this incident may not sound reassuring, it was a huge relief to me that upon Esther’s birth, Leah accompanied my husband and me to the emergency room to have the small resultant tear repaired as well as the old one. It felt good to have the injury resolved once and for all, and to have a fearless midwife accompany me to the medical establishment, confidently standing on my behalf and equipped with paperwork to back up my medical history. My husband and I were both impressed—her action said volumes for her character and preparedness. I also now feel much more confident about the way that midwives and hospitals can work together and support each other.
During my prenatals, which usually lasted around an hour, Leah and I had built a relationship that fostered trust and knowledge about pregnancy and birth. She also was very thorough in educating and insisting upon follow-through on my part; largely, through nutrition and proper care of my body. I was given a checklist more than once in which I was to report on my dietary habits—an important factor in preventative health. She was full of suggestions and information about how to eat healthy, and thus support a healthy pregnancy and birth.
The night I went into labor, I awoke with definite, although short in length, contractions. I called Leah just to let her know about it casually, but to my surprise, she insisted on making her way over because we lived over an hour away, and a snowstorm was in progress. I even tried to talk her out of coming so soon, as my labor was not that hard to handle, but she insisted on coming, and it was a good thing she did! Meanwhile, I decided to relax in the living room while watching worshipful nature video. My nineteen-month-old son Peter awoke and was with me, but I didn’t even mind most of the time—my labor was so peaceful! After awhile, I decided to take a shower/bath, and as the intensity increased, the water felt good. Then I got out of the tub, and the power of labor began to overtake me. My husband had to take Peter, because our childcare arrangement, Grandpa, was still on his way. And that is how Leah and Laura found me when they arrived—naked on my hands and knees in the bathroom—still wet from the tub, and overtaken with intensity, unsure what to do! Leah quickly checked me and said, “I think you better get on the bed—you’re quite close!” I was shocked and pleased—it’s such good news to know that those intense labor pains equal transition and “almost done!” Soon I was on my side in the bed, pushing as hard as I could on a 9-lb. baby that surely was a chore to budge—but finally she was crowning, in which I felt no real pain at all, and then she was out! The labor had totaled 5 hours—a pleasant improvement on the 17-hour back labor with baby number 1.
Her thick, black curly hair was a lovely surprise to all (my husband and I are both light-brown haired), and we almost forgot to check the sex in all the exclamation over her hair! We were then even more surprised that it was a girl. They placed Esther on my chest, and I was totally in love! Daniel was thrilled, and of course taken in by his very first daughter. Grandpa and sister-in-law got to share in the joy as they had just been waiting in the next room. We all laughed about what a little “papoose” she was, and her lovely dark eyes drew in everyone, even the birth assistant, Laura.
My deep satisfaction with how the labor went was met by a new wave of appreciation, as Leah and Laura worked quickly and intensely to ensure a smooth placenta delivery, monitor blood loss, and warm my now-empty body. I felt they were just as intense after as they were during the labor. Leah explained to me that after the birth is a very critical time for the mother, and a time where it is essential that home birth attendants not drop the ball. I felt very grateful and cared-for. Soon after is when we departed for the hospital, as explained above.
Post-term visits went equally as well, and I was sorry to be finished with them when Esther and I were finally done.
Another interesting note occurred, demonstrating Leah’s competency in her dealings with all—my doctor was a little new to the home birth scene, and a bit uncomfortable with my choice. Leah assisted me by suggesting helpful statements and encouraging a supportive relationship, rather than one fostering antagonism. When my doctor suffered a personal tragedy very near my baby’s due date, Leah encouraged me to write a note of sympathy, which she shared and signed as well. My doctor was touched.
Overall, Leah is deeply missed in her previous vicinity, and will always be. I wholly recommend Leah as a primary midwife, and I wish you the very best with the wonderful birth you will have attended by her.