• Joanna Brown

Beautiful Belgium Homebirth - Cheyanne's Story

When I think over how my birth story really began, I go all the way back to when I was 15. No, I wasn't a young mom. I finally became a mom myself, after years & years of nannying little ones, just last year when I was 32. However, when I was 15, my parents & I moved from the countryside of New York State to 3,000 kilometers away in the metropolitan area of Central Florida. I had never had so much around me before - including so many TV channels. It was when I first moved to Florida, that I began BINGE watching the American TV channel, Discovery Health Channel, in which several programs featured women giving birth at home. In my young 15 years, I had never HEARD of such a thing! I once heard my grandma share a story of how SHE was born at home - but she is also now 93 and grew up on a farm! However, I was instantly intrigued at the calm and cozy atmosphere these women and families were bringing their babies into. I was also amazed at how empowered and strong these women seemed. I made a decision then that when the day came when it was my turn to become a mama, I wanted to bring my little one into the world at home. Flash forward 17 years, and I am now happily married living my fairytale right here in Antwerp with my handsome Belgian man. We met in 2018 at a mutual friends wedding & 4 months later we were married. It was quite love at first sight! We instantly bonded during our early dating time when we both shared we wanted 4 more children (my husband also has a now 12 year old fantastic daughter who lives with us!) So, when we got pregnant only 5 months after getting married, we were both ecstatic and thrilled! I had shared my strong beliefs before in wanting to give birth to our babies at home, and as with everything, my husband was 100% supportive. This was a new adventure for me, not only being a first time mom, but seeking to plan a more non-traditional 21st century birth in a foreign land, within a language that was not my own. What could have been very scary & overwhelming was quickly brought to such ease once we met and selected our incredible midwife team, M and her partner, H. Talk about a bedside manner, M came to our home for every visit and instantly became a part of our family! We would listen to baby's heartbeat, discuss pregnancy workouts & cravings, birth positions and more all over tea, homemade tart and typically with my sweet 12 year old little California dog nearby. I couldn't have been more thankful for this genuine, kind, warm and cozy connection and relationship we established prior to birth as it especially helped during our birth day. It also helped with the unexpected global pandemic none of us were prepared for. The lockdown here in Belgium happened just two weeks before our son was born and my parents, who were coming from the States, entire trip was cancelled. It wasn't what we wanted or expected - however, I was able to apply all the mindset work and birth affirmations to that time as well and continue to usher in a peaceful time while prepping for baby. Exactly a week after my husband's 40th birthday, and a week overdue, at 1:30am Sunday March 29, I officially started contractions. I also officially started the last moments of anything else staying in my body - as I spent my entire labor puking and having diarrhoea. Yep, it was coming out of BOTH ends! As extra exhausting as that was, I chose to look at it as a simple way of showing how my body just knew it wanted SOMETHING out! Everything must go! Upon first waking up, my lovely husband went immediately into "care taker" mode and set up our living room to resemble our dream birthing atmosphere. He blew up the water birthing tub we borrowed from our midwife, turned on our twinkly lights hanging from our ceiling, made sure all the birth affirmations were in place, rearranged our couch in a comfortable position, got the birthing yoga ball ready and even started to make pasta for our midwives for later! An hour later, and he had done more work that I had! At this point, it was around 3 am, and I let him sleep for a few hours on the couch, while I paced back and forth in our apartment, to a beautiful birth playlist we had prepped and breathed my way through every contraction. Around 8am, my husband woke up and joined me for a walk (or waddle) outside in the beautiful & crisp March air. In the previous weeks, we had walked and walked and walked around every street in our neighborhood. We happily got to reflect on all the memories we'd made together over the course of this pregnancy, while stopping to breathe through every contraction which was now coming every 6-7 minutes. Once, we returned home from our walk, I was starting to need some extra TLC, and my husband helped me get into comfortable & loose clothes, and gave me a massage while on the pregnancy ball - he gave special attention to my boobs and nipples - I'd highly recommend this! This special technique comes back later right at the point of birth! Finally, around 11am, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and we knew it was time to have our midwife come over. Our first midwife M arrived around 11:30am, and immediately went to work at helping my husband fill up the birthing pool and getting me some aromatherapy oils to breathe in. They were an awesome team! She also was continually trying to help me keep anything in my body - whether it be simple sugar from dates or just water - but my body refused. As my husband and M filled up the birthing tub, I went into the shower and labored through my contractions. THIS is where so much of my mind prep came in handy! I breathed in and out, prayed and even cried by way through each and every contraction. Just in the nick of time when I couldn't stand anymore, the birthing pool was ready and I went to go labor in the tub. About an hour or so in the tub, around 2pm, our second midwife H arrived. It was so comforting to have my dynamic trio around me! My ultimate goal was to give birth in the tub. Around 2:30pm, I was completely dilated and the ultimate task of pushing began! However, no matter what position I tried or breathing technique I tried, our sweet baby wouldn't budge. He or she was very warm & cozy still in mommy! I was also exhausted and felt completely drained by all the pushing. Finally, after an hour or so of pushing, I relented, and we decided to let gravity assist me, and we got me outside the tub and onto a birthing stool. This was something we hadn't thought of or prepared for, but I trusted my midwives and was SO READY to meet our baby. Oh yes, did I mention...we chose not to know the gender, so I had extra special incentive to get the baby out! We knew around 4pm, our time had almost come to meet our special little one. With my husband behind me massaging my nipples, and my two midwives in front being the best cheerleaders in the world & guiding me through every push...we met our baby at 4:12pm - almost 15 hrs after labor had started. Our baby was immediately placed up on my chest as I sat on the stool. I was completely naked at this point - no shame-and so we had immediate skin to skin. At this point, we still didn't know if we had a boy or girl -so, as we were warming baby up and checking his vitals, mommy took a peek under the towel/blanket and proudly declared, she had mommy's special little MAN in her arms! A few minutes after birth, still connected by the cord, my son Mason Brave, and I climbed into the tub, and spent our first 30 min together, with Daddy and our 2 midwives looking on, in total bliss in wonder in the warm water. About 30-45 min after birth, my dynamic trio, helped me climb onto the couch nearby that my husband had prepped that morning, and the 3 of us all snuggled together. I had the pleasure of cutting the cord that connected Mason and I and soon after we began our first breast feeding bonding time together. I had torn a little during our son's entry into this world - as he came out shoulder's first like an American footballer - and as I breast fed and oogled over my little miracle - my midwife team delivered the placenta and stitched me right up. Honestly, I barely felt a thing - I was on cloud 1000! After our sweet family time, and phone calls to families in Belgium and in the USA, M helped me take a shower and finally got some food in me! Once she and H made sure we were all ok, they left and it was just me, my husband and baby at home. We had my husband's then 11 year old daughter, Billie, come over from her mama's to meet her brother, have dinner and have their first skin to skin contact. It was extremely memorable! After dinner, Billie went back to her mom's and around 8pm, after a life changing day, my husband and I climbed into bed with our new baby and our adventure as a family of 4 truly began! It was amazing waking up the next morning in our own bed and feeling so empowered over what WE just did as a couple. I would absolutely recommend home birth for any family and we intend to do it again when Baby #2 decides to come! We are so thankful for our family - including our midwives - who made this entire experience calm and empowering! Cheyanne Cleyman @ImCameraChey

@thecleymans "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." - Phil. 4:13



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