Tyler Michael Dale “TJ”, son of Tyler and Tiffany Armstrong of Sioux Center, was born 2 p.m. Monday, May 2, in his home, weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and measuring 21 inches. Tiffany shared her reflections about being cared for by midwife Belinda Lassen of Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center throughout her pregnancy and during the home birth of her child:
Drs. Tyler and Tiffany Armstrong welcomed a baby boy, TJ, into their family. He was born May 2 in their Sioux Center home with the assistance of Promise Community Health Center midwife Belinda Lassen.
BY TIFFANY ARMSTRONG
One of the first things we did when we found out we were pregnant was call Promise Community Health Center so we could get on the schedule for a home birth. Sioux Center is so lucky to have the only two midwives in Sioux County, but they are highly sought after, and I didn’t want my dream of a home birth to be denied due to them being “booked.” Since I already had an established relationships with both Pam and Belinda, I told the receptionist at Promise to schedule me with whomever had the next available appointment, and that was Belinda Lassen.
From that point on, Belinda was going to be our midwife and our go-to for information during our first pregnancy.
My husband, Tyler, and I are both chiropractors and very holistically minded. We both have a sound belief in my body and its capabilities to carry and deliver our baby. I never accepted the horror stories I was told or Hollywood’s portrayal of how awful pregnancy and childbirth had to be. I had a hard time accepting that God would make bringing a child into our world such an impossible task. My entire pregnancy, I took care of my body. I ate healthy, took my vitamins and had my pelvis adjusted regularly, but more than anything, I ignored the fear that others tried to create in me that a home birth without medication was “impossible.” I took refuge in the idea that my pregnancy would be different. I would not be miserable with the swollen ankles, horrible back pain, morning sickness and intolerable, long, painful labor.
We had our first appointment with Belinda at Promise, where the standard medical intake and new patient exam was performed, as well as an in-depth overview of what to expect with our future appointments as our pregnancy progressed. We were encouraged to outline our birth plan and to research all of our options. Our appointment ended with Tyler and I putting Belinda’s cellphone number in our phones for immediate contact for questions or emergencies. This was both calming and comforting that Belinda would be the person we would contact directly when labor started and would be the person to deliver my baby. We then stopped by their accounting office to review insurance and payment information, which was a breeze and pleasantly surprising. I didn’t realize that such specialized and personalized care could be so affordable. Wasn’t having a baby supposed to mean I would hit my deductible for a change?
I am a big believer that our thoughts are powerful. I never for one moment wavered from the idea that I could do this — that my body could do this. Belinda only reinforced that idea after each appointment. At about 37 weeks pregnant, when I was still working, still happy, comfortable, sleeping and without swollen ankles or hands, I realized that I could and I was doing this! How amazing?
At 38 weeks along, my labor started.
It was 2 a.m. and the morning of our one-year anniversary. (Luckily, we celebrated the night before.) I felt something I had never felt before. It was similar to Braxton Hicks contractions but more intense. I don’t think I could explain it as pain but more of a pressure. I wanted to wait until I knew this was the “real thing” before I texted and woke up our sweet midwife. During this time, I got to witness my husband and partner in life become empowered to care and comfort me. He did everything in his power to make me feel like a queen. He took charge and was encouraged to be a major player in the birth of our baby instead of being kept in the background.
At 4 a.m., my husband sent the text and woke up Belinda, who agreed that this was “it.” Tyler started tracking my contractions. Looking back, I appreciate the fact that there was no rushing, no packing up and leaving — ultimately eliminating the panic. Once labor was confirmed by Belinda, all we had to do was figure out how to get me comfortable. At 10 a.m., I started active labor, and my doula (a hired birthing support person) arrived. Belinda arrived shortly after that.
Tiffany Armstrong holds her baby boy, TJ, after his birth in their Sioux Center home on May 2.
The birthing process was allowed to unfold naturally, allowing me to focus on the task at hand in the comfort of my own home, with only the people I chose to be present. After four hours of active labor, 15 minutes of pushing and lots of hard work and concentration, I lifted my new baby boy on to my chest and held him closely. There was pain, but it never got bigger than me — or out of control. The fear of the unknown was never a factor due to good planning, a thorough birth plan and my familiar surroundings.
I am so lucky that I got to have the birth of my dreams, introducing our son into the world in a calm and loving environment. There was always a chance that at some point during my pregnancy or my birth that we might have had to change course and have a hospital birth. I am grateful that we had that option in case of an emergency. Luckily, that was not in God’s plan for us, and a home birth was. I will always recommend a home birth with a midwife to all low-risk, expecting moms who are interested in that safe option.
For us, it was everything we could have hoped and dreamed for. Without question, that was hardest, most beautiful day of my life. That was the day I got to become a mom.
TJ Armstrong was born during a baby boom of births assisted by Promise Community Health Center’s certified nurse midwives. Belinda Lassen and Pam Hulstein, along with their nurses, attended nine home births over a 13-day span that culminated during early May.