In today’s episode I interview Melissa and hear about her amazing birth experiences.
She had 3 cesareans and then worked very hard to have a VBAC, and went on to have many VBACs after as well. 🙂
Sheridan: Welcome to The Gift of Giving Life podcast. And today I’m so excited to have Melissa here with us to talk about. Her experiences with pregnancy and birth and the spirituality of it.
Sheridan: First ‘m so excited to share this week’s book review.
Amber: I’m so glad that the book, The Gift of Giving Life was written. I have read lots and lots and lots of pregnancy birth, early parenting books, but I have never read a book as pertinent to me as this one. I bought four copies, one for my doula buddy and the other two for my pregnant sisters.
I can’t wait to give them away. Thank you ladies, for all that you put into this work, your time and hard worker evident, and the gift of giving life will have a prominent place on my bookshelf and in my soul also, my husband is annoyed because reading it makes me want another. Thank you, Amber for sharing this beautiful review with us.
Meet Melissa – Mom of 8 and a Birth Worker
Sheridan: I’m so excited to have you here today. Melissa, could you go ahead and introduce yourself for us please?
Melissa: Yeah. My name is Melissa Pate. I I doula. I have been since before I had kids, I have eight children. They range in age from 15 down to seven months old. They’re all about two years apart. I homeschool my kids. My husband was in the air force. He’s retired now and he’s staying home and I get to do all the birth things now.
So I’m a birth assistant and a doula and a childbirth instructor.
Sheridan: That is so great. You sound like you have a lot of experience, obviously not only birthing babies, but helping women birth babies. So I’m so excited to have you on the podcast today.
So I like to just start out with the question, how did you first hear about, or find out about The Gift of Giving Life?
One of Our First Readers!
Melissa: Okay, so I’m not sure how long ago it’s been since what? 10, probably 10 years since it came out. My first three children were. born by C-section. So those are all stories in and of themselves. But at that point I found myself really
wanting to have a vaginal birth. And I was on Facebook and I was looking at blogs.
And so, um, Birth Faith blog and the, a couple of the other blogs that were authors of the book, I was following their blog and I saw that this book was coming out and I thought, gosh, this is amazing. I want to like, read this and get and connect spiritually through my births. And so I had found the book. I was like, I think I was a pre-order.
I think I ordered it before it was ever even out.
I am one of the very first reviews on Amazon because it was so transformational for me.
Sheridan: What are some ways that you feel like the book helped you in that transformation?
Reading The Gift of Giving Life Increased Her Spirituality
Melissa: I grew up in the church. I left the church and I wasn’t, going to church for 10 years.
And then I came back to church and in that time it was after my second son was born. So I had already had two C-sections at that point. And so I was always looking for ways to become closer to my Heavenly Father and trying to find ways to take the things that I. Loved and connect with spiritually through those things.
So when I got this book it really opened my eyes to how birth is brings us. So close to the veil and brings us so close to those who have not been born. And also those who have gone before us and I, so after I read the book or as I was reading the book, I was able to connect to more with my scripture study.
I was more able to have meaningful prayers and ask for really what I felt would bless my life. And so through that process of connecting spiritually throughout my fourth pregnancy, because like I said, I had already gone. Three C-sections and those are all stories on there on their own. But with the fourth pregnancy, I was just kind of lost because I felt like I I’d tried everything and knew that I didn’t know what to do at that point.
So I was looking for a lot of guidance at that point.
Sheridan: Great. So do you have a specific time that you can remember experiencing that spirituality in pregnancy or birth?
Turning To God, Pleading for Chance to Have a VBA3C
Melissa: I do remember one very specific night. I was just so worried and so stressed. And I also, with my third C-section they found a large dehescience that I had labored at home for 24 hours and then went to the hospital for a third season.
And when they, when I opened up for my third C-section they founded a dehescience so 10 centimeter by eight centimeter. So basically just the covering of the uterus was holding the baby in. And so having that experience, no one was really willing to even consider having me have a vaginal birth at that point.
I didn’t know what to do. I knew that it was not. Going in for another C-section was not going to be what was right for me, but I didn’t know what to do. And so I I was in my kitchen and got down on my knees, on my mat in front of my kitchen sink and just prayed my heart out to, My Heavenly Father, about my feelings and my worries.
I’m going to cry. it was one of those turning point moments in my life
Where He was really listening and I knew that He, Heavenly Father cared about what I wanted and what I needed. He cared about my life. He cared about my baby. He cared about. And that moment when I just please asked him for the, for the desire of my heart and the desire of my heart was to have a vaginal birth and that mattered to Him.
And I knew that, so that connection gave me a lot of strength to move forward because it was not. Not even close to an easy thing. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. So the strength that I was given through those prayers and knowing that he cared about me and about my experiences made a big difference to everyone in my life.
It changed, it was a hinge point in our life and we’ve gone forward from there in different ways that I would not have anticipated.
Sheridan: Um, I really love that. It is amazing how sometimes one singular experience can be so powerful and be that hinge point that can create a change in our lives.
Melissa: And that was it for me and for my whole family. Like I said, that was my. fourth child. And I have had four more since then. And I know that was not our plan. That was never what we had anticipated or what
we wanted to do. I actually started out this journey thinking I wasn’t gonna have any, so there’s been a lot of change happen to me over time.
And a lot of that has come through birth. A lot of that has come through birth for me.
Angels at the Birth Tub
Sheridan: Yeah. Oh, great. Thank you. I also know you had said you had an interesting experience or an experience with angels, and I would love it if you would share that with us.
Melissa: Yes, during my fourth birth, my first vaginal birth.
It was, I was really sick. So I had this cold, I don’t know what it was, but it was the, well, I probably had it for three full months. And I was very sick, so it made that labor even harder. But it’s, since I’ve experienced more labor, since then, everything was really slow. I made, it took a really long time, but things were kind of manageable and I was in the tub.
It was a lot of controversy going on. About that birth in my, with my sister who thought I shouldn’t have been doing that. And and she called the hospital and the middle of my birth and was asking them where I was. And cause it wasn’t answering my phone and things like that. So looking back, I can see why these angels were there, but I was in.
I was in the birth tub. And like I said, it was very, I wanted it very quiet and I was laying my head against the edge of this birth pool. And I, I don’t know if I opened my eyes or if it, I tell people that it was something I saw with my spiritual eyes and I’ve seen things since then. but I could see two angels standing on either side of the birth tub.
And they were like, um, it seemed as if they were just standing guard. That’s what it felt like. It felt like they were standing guard and making sure that everything was going well, that they were protecting us. And I know that they were there, whether I saw them with my real eyes or with my spiritual eyes, there were two angels on either side of the tub.
And I felt comfort and I felt the knowing that they were there to help and they were there to comfort me.
Sheridan: Oh, I love that. Thank you. I reminiscing on what you said earlier, how birth is a time when the veil is thin and how it really is. I feel like we’re closer to the spiritual realm during birth and during death when that veil is thin.
And I’m curious if at other times as a birth worker, you have felt the presence of angels at different births.
Melissa: I can’t say that I have seen any, but I have felt that spiritual power at birth. I have. been to several births by this point. And there are some that I come home from and I’m like, ah, that was another birth another day.
But there are some that, that are very spiritual. And I have clients who have asked me if I will pray with them during birth and they listen to worship music. And I think that having those elements being part of their birth has made me feel closer to angels. And I, like I said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any since then.
I think that being in labor also puts you in this state of vulnerability. That is not the same as being at a birth. So I have felt the influence. I have felt that spirit there, but I have not seen any since
Sheridan: then. Yeah. And that is a great distinction, right? Like as a birth worker, we can. Feel the love and the oxytocin and yeah.
I Have to Do This Myself!
And all that, but you’re right. We’re not in that same position as the birthing mom, who is the one that has to, I feel like kind of go to the veil reach the through, bring the baby over, or, you know, some kind of like between the veil happens with the mom, the birthing mom.
Melissa: And I have felt that experience where with my fifth birth my midwife had a miscarriage and was not going to be able to come.
And I knew that I couldn’t go to the hospital and I knew that I needed to be home. I did a lot of praying about it. The birth assistant said that she would still come. But the experience of being. Knowing that no one else was coming. Like you have to do this yourself. So that work that you’re talking about, the, you know, whether it’s, you know, going to that place and bringing baby back.
But I was very much in that birth. It was my shortest, it was only five hours long. And it was, it was a real and intense where I think that I just did the work because I knew no one was coming to help. It was probably what, that was another transformational thing where the spiritual help is all that I had.
And and I think that it was a lot more effective actually for me.
Sheridan: Yes. Yeah. Oh, I like that. Thank you.
Advice to Other Moms – Trust Your Instincts!
I love to ask this question, especially to moms that have lots of experience and it is, if you could give advice to a young woman just starting out her mothering journey, what would it be?
Melissa: so I teach childbirth classes to a lot of young haven’t had a baby yet couples, so I get a lot of. Experience in sharing my experiences and telling them what I would think about what they need to hear. So picking one singular thing is kind of hard for me, but I will say that trusting, trusting yourself, trusting your own instincts is probably the most important thing that I have found to help me.
Help my children to mother, my children, to get through the hard times of, uh, the hard nights, the long nights, the teenager hood at this point. Um, but I think that trusting your own instincts rather than reading the book and doing what any book says that if yourself is saying this is going to work best for me, and what’s going to work best for my baby and trust that that is right and good because there’s so many things that throughout my journey that I’ve looked back and I wish that someone would just would have told me that’s okay to do that.
It’s okay to do that. you know whats best..
Sheridan: Yeah, thank you. It’s really interesting because that’s almost what every single person says. It’s like, and I just feel like and that’s probably what I too would say. You know, it’s like, there’s such power. And I think that as a first time, mom, it was hard for me to do that, but I quickly learned the power in doing it.
When I finally did trust myself.
Melissa: And then you don’t, no one knows you and your family and your baby more than you do. And it’s very hard as a young mom, when you’re being then the influences are everywhere and you want to do it right. You just want to do it. Right. And yeah, I would definitely say trust yourself, you know, more than you think you do.
VBAC Support and Information
Sheridan: Great. Thank you. All right. Is there anything else you’d like to add? We have about five to 10 more minutes. So if you could talk about one other topic, what would you want to cover?
Melissa: I would want to talk about VBAC because very important to me, like I, I think that I am the most important part of VBAC is to prevent that first one from being a
c-section But I think that so many women and so many people have misconceptions about what VBAC is and if it’s safe and if it’s right and how like the most common thing that I hear when I tell people that, that I’ve had, five babies after three C-sections is they let you do that?
I’m like, oh no, there’s no letting that’s going on here. VBAC is a place where you can learn, but you can become empowered in what that instinct that I was talking about. Knowing what is the most important thing for your family and your baby and this pregnancy? And I always say that. I don’t think that everyone should be having VBAC, but I feel like everyone can have a transformational experience through learning whether that’s what is right for you or not.
It poses the question that we don’t normally, you know, we’re all just go to the hospital and they’ll tell me what to do. It gives us an opportunity to learn and grow in pregnancy and birth. Wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Sheridan: Yeah. I think that is great. First off. You’re absolutely right. Like talking about VBACs is so important.
I’m a VBAC mom, myself and I was lucky enough to have a care provider that was supportive of it from the beginning. But I know that there’s so many women that have to fight. And really search to find a care provider that supportive.
Melissa: Yeah. I think that having a supportive care provider is probably one of the most important things that you can do.
Because my VBAC, my first VBAC after three C-sections, I had a midwife that came to me from Canada. I was in Montana and she was about two and a half hours away, but I. So many providers and I was willing to even come like I live in Texas now, which has kind of a weird thing, but I was willing to come to Texas because there was a provider that was willing in Texas to do a VBAC after three C-sections.
I would have gone to any lengths because I knew that that was what was right for me at that pregnancy and for myself. So whenever I share that information with others, I say, At my journey, isn’t going to look like your journey, but finding what is going to work right for you is so empowering and it can change your life.
And it did mine. I mean, it really did.
Sheridan: Yeah. And that’s just another thing that you’ve touched on a few times is how life changing birth can be. And I. I know that each one of my births was very different and changed my life in some way.
Would you say of your eight births? Was there one that was the most
Melissa: I would say it was definitely my first VBAC my first home birth, the strength and that I felt after that, I couldn’t believe that I had done that. I couldn’t believe, I think the other thing. I couldn’t believe at the time was that Heavenly Father loved me enough to bless me in that way. And then that, that was, I think, where it changed me the most that He really cared about me and he cared about what was important to me.
And that birth was that transformational moment where. I asked, I asked for the desire of my heart and he gave it to me. And so I say that I couldn’t believe I did that, but I couldn’t believe that I was blessed in that way. So it changed my outlook a lot. I think before that, I wasn’t sure about the nature of God and I wasn’t sure about how I fit there.
And to have had a miracle like that for myself changed the way I did everything. I trusted God. And before that I didn’t.
How to Find Melissa
Sheridan: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. That’s beautiful.
do you have a website or how can people find you?
Melissa: I do have a website. My business as a doula is birth with Melissa and my website is birthwithmelissa.com
and that is also, my email is birth with firstname.lastname@example.org. And if anybody wants to contact me, like I know that that was a big part of my VBAC journey is contacting others who had been through the same experiences or something similar and their stories and inspiration was really, really helpful to me.
So I’m always open to talking with anybody who needs support, encouragement has questions worries, or, um, I can help them. I am always open to that.
Sheridan: thank you so much. That is definitely a wonderful resource. That you have offered up to our listeners who may be desiring to have a VBAC or any birth questions.
I’m sure you’d be happy to communicate with them. Absolutely. Thank you. Well, thank you so much, Melissa, for being on our podcast today and for sharing your amazing experiences. And I really do appreciate your time.
Melissa: Thanks. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate being on here. I’m a fan girl, so
I love our fans.