A Day in the Life of…Me.

img2When Talina Norris-Ryder first started prenatal appointments with her ob-gyn, there was one word she heard again and again: “can’t.”

No, you can’t walk around while in labor. You can’t have a water birth. You can’t eat while in labor. And considering you’re only a petite 100 pounds, odds are you can’t even have a vaginal birth.

Norris-Ryder doesn’t like being told what she can — or can’t — do. So she started investigating home births and midwives. But in Indiana, tight regulations ban midwives from practicing in hospitals, and her husband was skeptical of a home birth. Research led her next to the Midwifery Center at the Farm, a natural childbirth oasis created by Ina May Ga skin, arguably the most popular midwife in America.

Located in Summer town, Tennessee, the Farm is a three-hour drive from Norris-Ryder’s home in Evansville, Indiana. But after meeting her midwife, Norris-Ryder had no doubt that it was the place where she wanted to become a mother.

“Our midwife made us feel really calm,” says Norris-Ryder. “She didn’t even know me or my medical situation, but she had the confidence, so I had the confidence.”

Norris-Ryder’s husband, Nathan, wasn’t so quickly won over. He asked the technical questions: Was childbirth at the Farm safe? What did they do in case of an emergency? After seeing that the Farm had neonatal resuscitation equipment, oxygen and the ability to deal with hemorrhaging, he finally agreed. What helped, too, was knowing that two-thirds of the $5,000 total cost would be covered by their health insurance.

Everly was born on the Farm in 2009. Norris-Ryder arrived two weeks before her due date, and when her water broke, she walked from the cabin she was renting to her midwife’s house next door. “Come now,” she said. “I think the baby’s coming.” In the early stages, she tried to rest, sleeping when she could and listening to meditation music on her iPod. When it came time to push, midwives had Norris-Ryder move around until she found the right birthing position.

“They said, ‘Here’s the birth stool. Hang from the door handle. Do this. Do that,’” Norris-Ryder recalls. When she got on her hands and knees, the baby crowned very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Norris-Ryder experienced a fourth-degree perineal tear. “There was some pain afterward, but I didn’t really feel it in the moment,” she says. Because muscle was involved, the tear was deeper than the midwives could suture themselves. Norris-Ryder was transported to the local hospital. She nursed her baby while being stitched up.

Everly’s birth was intense, and there was a risk she’d tear again with a second baby. But the Farm had given Norris-Ryder what she wanted: control over her birth experience. So what did she do two years later when she had her second baby? She headed back to the Farm. And this time, she live-streamed Adalyn’s birth on her website.

“People didn’t understand the Farm the first time around, my family included,” she says. “They were very warded-out about it. Why would we go again? I was like, ‘You guys really just don’t get it.’ I really felt people needed to see. Unless you have a crazy medical condition, birth is not an ordeal that needs to be overseen. Animals have babies all the time. People don’t typically die in childbirth. I think that when we expect things to be complicated, then they do get complicated.”

The second time, Norris-Ryder labored on her back and on a bed, and because she had bad back labor, it was very painful. She tore again during delivery, but this time only to the second degree. When the baby crowned, one of the midwives woke two-year-old Everly, who was in the next room. “She sat in bed with me” while her sister was being born, says Norris-Ryder.

“The Farm was an awesome experience,” says Norris-Ryder. “They do amazing things out there.