Melissa and I have been sisterwives for 9 years. This is the story of how we met.
Melissa married for the first time in the 1990s and had 3 children with that husband. (She’s had more children with our husband Joshua.) Two of her births were unassisted, which means she gave birth without any professional help whatsoever.
My history of childbirth is quite different. My first baby was born in the hospital with an ob-gyn attending. I didn’t know any different at the time.
One of my naïve beliefs back then was that when you choose a birth attendant, you will be supported thruout the labor and delivery by that person. Ha ha! My mistake! I didn’t see my doctor or even talk to him on the phone until I’d already been in labor for 80 hours, made multiple trips back-and-forth from my home to the hospital, been admitted into the hospital for 10 hours, been hooked up to both an epidural and an IV of pitocin, and even had been pushing for over an hour!
All that time, I had only Joshua, my mother, and the hospital nurses. Now, I don’t have a problem with nurses, but it was very frustrating to me that they were the only professionals taking care of me, rather than the doctor I’d carefully researched and put my trust in. I hadn’t chosen those nurses; I hadn’t been getting to know them for months leading up to the birth; I hadn’t discussed my birth preferences with them; they didn’t have the education and experience that my old ob-gyn had. What exactly was the point in all that I had done with him, my ob-gyn? Why were these nurses actually the ones attending me?
Some of the nurses were quite inconsiderate and unhelpful, but even the kind ones were only on duty for 12-hour shifts and had to care for multiple women simultaneously. (The twice-a-day turnover and the care of multiple patients are two of the things that make homebirths safer than hospital births. Another reason is that midwives are more educated than nurses.)
I will spare you the details of that birth story. Suffice it to say that I wanted a different experience the second time around. When I became pregnant again, I started looking into other options, such as a midwife-attended hospital birth.
I even went so far as to consider having an unassisted birth, and I found an online forum of LDS women who were interested in unassisted childbirth (UC). This was the LDS-UC Yahoo group, which was pretty active back in the pre-Facebook heyday of Yahoo groups (which don’t even exist anymore).
As an experienced UCer and postpartum nurse, Melissa was pretty much the LDS-UC group’s resident expert on all things pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. She and I and the rest of the group had many in-depth, often personal, conversations about a variety of topics, and one effect was that we got to know each other fairly well (as far as online friendships go).
By the way, I’ve never had the guts to have an unassisted birth. But my subsequent births have all been with midwives (some in the hospital and some at home), and they’ve all been better experiences than my ob-gyn attended birth.
Melissa and I were online friends via the LDS-UC Yahoo group from the middle of my second pregnancy until that baby was a toddler, when we finally met in real life.
The Yahoo group was worldwide, but Melissa and I happened to live only 20 minutes from each other (in the Tooele, Utah area). We didn’t have any reason to meet in real life until one fateful day in May of 2010.
The catalyst for our meeting was raw milk. Melissa owned a cow she milked twice a day, and I knew how valuable (and hard-to-come-by) raw milk is.
She mentioned on the group that she had run out of mason jars and had to throw away 3 gallons of fresh raw milk. I was understandably horrified, and I immediately offered to bring over some jars. She accepted my offer, and not long after that, we finally met face-to-face.
That was the beginning of our in-person friendship.