As a little girl, I didn’t dream of marrying a prince or of a beautiful white wedding gown, but what I did know, was that I wanted to be a mother. Today, I am 36 years old and seriously wondering where the time has gone. When you are a new parent, there is never a shortage of people telling you to enjoy your baby, because they “grow too fast.” There couldn’t be a truer statement, I know now.
Owen Ronwanonhweronhkwa (they call out to him out of respect) is my oldest and is 16 years old. He was 11 days overdue and finally made his debut on October 8th, 2002. I was 19 years old and waiting for a call from the hospital to be induced when I started experiencing labour pains. His labour was 18 hours long, and it felt like I pushed for an eternity. He was perfect, with lots of hair. Today he is 6ft tall, almost 17 years old and heading into grade 12. I still see my small boy when I look at him. I couldn’t be prouder of his kind spirit and witty sense of humour. He doesn’t miss a beat! He is incredibly creative and artistic, with a maturity and comprehension beyond his years.
On a beautiful sunny morning, May 1st, 2005 I was induced with my second oldest son. He arrived after 6 hours. His birth was basically pain free as I had a late epidural that I probably didn’t need to have. The nurse questioned if my water had in fact broke because I couldn’t possibly have known the difference, or my own body. When he was born, Dr. O’Brien held him up for us to see, and he peed! I feel like this is indicative and foreshadowing of his personality to come. This is Ezra Ratonhwentsyanonhna’s (he is guarding the land) story. He now towers over me too, which he gladly reminds me of, on a daily. He is 14 years old and heading into Grade 9 in the fall. He is a free spirit. He is a breath of fresh air, with the kindest loving heart, although he doesn’t always say it. He keeps us on our toes!
Mia Konwakonnyenstha (they treat her with respect) was our first beautiful princess, my first daughter. She was 5 days overdue, and was born on Saturday, April 19th, 2008. I was at the store waiting for my husband to grab drinks, when suddenly, I felt/heard this pop, and with that came a rush of pain so intense that I grabbed the roof of my vehicle hard with my hand. Next thing I know we were on our way to the hospital, 10 minutes later (not kidding) and my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. I kind of felt like we wouldn’t make it in time! But we did somehow and almost instantly she had arrived! Her birth was the fastest at a record 2 hours! But less than 5 days later, our nightmare began. My sweet baby wasn’t feeding and wouldn’t wake. There was something wrong. I knew in my gut, that something wasn’t right. If I learned anything from this experience it was to always trust your intuition. Always. After 2 hospital visits and being sent home, we went again for the third time. Finally, the emergency nurse recognized the signs and knew it was an emergency, but they were not prepared for an emergency like this. After Mia, the hospital changed their policies because they were not prepared for her. It was a traumatic experience for all of us. I never left her side. Through the blood tests, spinal tap, intubation, and the endless unknown, we were with her every second. She spent 2 weeks in Pediatrics in Kingston, with amazing Doctors and Nurses, and I am grateful for all that helped to get her better. She had a blood infection, and we almost lost her. Today, she is a beautiful 11-year-old girl. She loves to act, hang out with her friends and play lacrosse. She is a fighter, a leader, and a force to be reckoned with.
Fast forward to November 2011, I was sitting in a movie theatre with two of my best friends, when I realized that I couldn’t stand the smell of popcorn (which normally doesn’t bother me) and was making me feel nauseous...sign #1. Nine months later on July 18th, 2012 my youngest beautiful girl arrived. Keely Awenhakenhtha (she makes the blossoms appear) had arrived to a family that was so excited for her arrival. I also had to be induced for her, which proved to be an incredibly uncomfortable and invasive procedure. It didn’t really work so the morning of the day she was born I was induced again with something different. Just when I started to have strong and regular contractions, the Doctor broke my water, and everything stopped. So, then I had to go on a Pitocin drip, and for those of you familiar with that, it definitely isn’t fun, but it did get things moving. After a long day of labour, my sweet smallest girl made her arrival. Right now, within a few days my sweet smallest girl will be turning 7 years old. It feels like just yesterday, it was just the two of us enjoying maternity leave together, spending every moment of the day together. Now she is fiery, and fiercely determined when she puts her mind to something. She loves to play hockey, loves to read, and is incredibly creative.
Next, and finally, my youngest son Dax Thorihwayeri (he does things the right way) arrived via c-section on the morning of March 28th, 2016. Even from his ultrasound photos, we knew from his profile that he would look exactly like his Dad, and he does. He was super sweet, with a head full of just the right amount of hair. He is my smallest best friend. His eyes light up the room, and his giggle is the absolute best. He is 3 years old now, and never ceases to amaze me with his wit, humour, and knowledge that seems beyond his years. He lovingly adores, each and every one of his big brothers and sisters. They are his heroes and protectors.
I have purposely left out a great deal of details, because five kids times five birth stories would probably make a book! My purpose is to share a bit of my world with the readers of the BOQ, but also to highlight the amazing team of midwives located in Tyendinaga, known as Kenhtè:ke Midwives. Midwifery is a game changer. It is making giving birth a beautiful thing again. It is bringing back our traditions, and also putting women back in the driver’s seat where they belong making decisions that best suit them, and their baby. At the heart of Kenhtè:ke Midwives is my Mother, Yontkéhtats (Dorothy Green). After working for the government for 22+ years, she decided to follow her dreams. This meant quitting a good paying job with benefits, moving away from her family in order to go back to school to pursue her dream of becoming a midwife. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She is dedicated to providing our women, our families, with a birth experience that they choose, that they are prepared for, and most importantly that they are supported through every step of the way. My Mother has worked tirelessly for the past 7+ years to make her dream a reality. Her team consists of Tewahséhtha (Randi Brant), Mary McBride (now retired), Iekonsiio Brant, and Wa’éhsa (Jessica Danforth).
My first few births were not with midwives. They consisted of long waits in Obstetrician’s offices only to have a 5-minute check up and be shuffled back out the door. It meant waiting at labs by myself for blood work. It meant if I had a problem, I would go to the emergency room, because who can get in to see their doctor on short notice these days? It meant a lot of worries, that were probably made worse by Googling my symptoms. It meant that if I wasn’t past a certain number of weeks, I would wait in the emergency room like everyone else, and if I did make it to the maternity ward, it would be by a doctor that likely wasn’t mine, and left me feeling unsure about what to expect. Midwifery care starts sometimes in the form of support before conception. It doesn’t require that to be within a specific number of weeks because midwives know that every step of this process requires love, support and care. Midwives get to know you and your family on a personal level. They work with you to support you to make informed decisions based on what it is you want. They also bring with them medical training and knowledge as well as traditional knowledge, should you choose. They are also a huge support to help you through every question, every worry, and are available 24/7 should you have an urgent question or concern. They are advocates for birth and are literally with you every step of the way, taking care of you, your family and baby to be. I could not be more grateful for my experience with Kenhtè:ke Midwives. I always felt respected and heard. I knew that if I had any issues or concerns, they were with me every step of the way, even after my son was born.
If you take anything away from this, I would love for it to be that you can have a pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience that is amazing! Each birth is unique and sometimes things happen that we do not expect, but being informed and prepared is half the battle. Midwives will work with you to best prepare you, while respecting your needs and concerns for you to have the best possible experience. Nyawenkó:wa Kenhtè:ke Midwives for being amazing!
For more information about the Kenhtè:ke Midwives, visit their website here.