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Local midwives offer alternative to hospital birth

Midwives Desiree Cripps and Aimee Fairman
Midwives Desiree Cripps, left, and Aimee Fairman check the progress of their client, Quincy Finch, of Mt. Jackson, during a recent office visit. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Jordan Finch uses a fetus scope
Jordan Finch uses a fetus scope on the belly of his wife to listen for a heartbeat while Fairman watches. The instrument is a standard for the midwives. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Midwives Desiree Cripps and Aimee Fairman record the hemoglobin
Midwives Desiree Cripps and Aimee Fairman record the hemoglobin values through a blood test of their client Quincy Finch, 30, of Mt. Jackson during a recent office visit. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

Midwife Aimee Fairman checks the progress
Midwife Aimee Fairman checks the progress of her client, Quincy Finch, 30, of Mt. Jackson during a recent office visit. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Aimee Fairman and Desiree Cripps say there is nothing like a home birth, and they should know.

They each delivered all of their children with midwives, and are now are certified professional midwives who operate Ten Moons Midwifery at 205 E. Court St. in Woodstock.

"I really fell in love with this house," Fairman said during a recent interview. "I think it's really sweet, and I think it represents what we do with home birth midwifery care."

Fairman and Cripps have worked together for about five years after meeting through a mutual midwife friend. They say it was somewhat of an awakening when they discovered that they each wanted to name their midwifery business Ten Moons, which is based on a 10-month lunar cycle of pregnancy.

"That was a very magical moment," Cripps said. "We hugged each other and we became extremely really good friends and supported each other."

Fairman and Cripps were certified as professional midwives last year by the Virginia Board of Medicine. They opened their doors as midwives in January.

"We are apprentice-trained midwives," Cripps said, adding that she and Fairman trained with the same midwife. "We did the traditional route, which has basically been handed down from generation to generation, which is attend with an experienced, licensed midwife and learn through experience."

Fairman, 37, lives in Fort Valley in Shenandoah County with her husband, Daniel, 40, and their three children, George, 13, Max, 11, and Lili, 7.

"I got turned on to midwifery and everything else became old news, kind of irrelevant," Fairman said.

Cripps, 34, lives in Linden with her husband, Shawn, 37, and their four children, Kenani 14, Selah, 11, Brodie, 9, and Naoli, 6.

"I saw my friend give birth at home when I was 18 years old and it changed my life," Cripps said. "It was pretty obvious this was what I wanted to do."

As home birth midwives, Fairman said she and Cripps monitor the mother and baby for wellness through checking the mother's urine, blood pressure, weight and the baby's position, among other markers.

"We do monthly prenatal visits up until the 28th week and then we see mom every two weeks until the 36th week and then we get together weekly until the time of the birth," Fairman said. "We are looking at mom holistically, so we really believe that how mom feels makes a difference in how her baby is doing -- her health and her baby's health."

If a mother wants to know what sex her baby is, they will give her a referral for an ultrasound test, Cripps said.

Cripps and Fairman are out-of-network providers, and some insurance carriers will provide coverage, depending on the policy, Fairman said.

"People that seek our care want something different than a hospital," Cripps said. "We're not out trying to make people come our way. It's their choice."

While they do not work with a physician, Fairman said that if necessary during a home birth, emergency personnel can be called upon for assistance.

"We do a lot of planning, but we ask the family to plan as well and they prepare an emergency transport plan and they map their route to the hospital and get an ETA and all of that," Fairman said. "Of course, we're doing that behind the scenes as well, but we like for them also to take on that responsibility."

One of the benefits of having a home birth, Cripps said, "is the woman can choose to have whoever she wants there. Usually the dads are very involved."

That's exactly the case for Quinby Finch, 30, and her husband, Jordan, 31, of Mt. Jackson. The Finches have two children, Aurelia, 5, and Asher, 3. The couple are planning to use the services of Ten Moons for their third child who's on the way.

"I really feel like birth is a rite of passage for a woman, and I didn't want to have any sensation or any of the experience taken away from me either by just sort of a hospital setting, which I think is somewhat intrusive and by the drugs," Mrs. Finch said.

"It's hard work and that's part of it. But you go through it and you have your baby and you're like, 'I just got this baby out. This is really cool.' Jordan was amazing the whole time really helping me, so we really did it together. So I think that was the No. 1 thing, although I'm really grateful for hospitals, and I had a fantastic hospital experience with my first child. At the very end, I really needed a doctor's help. I think there's a place for them, but for a normal, healthy pregnancy, there's just nothing like having a baby at home in a peaceful, comfortable environment with incredible women who are helping you and are knowledgeable."

For Finch, using a midwife service helps to form a bond with the care providers.

"The connection that's formed with the midwives leading through the nine months," he said. "Obviously there's this grass-roots kind of keeping things as personal as possible."

For Mrs. Finch, the birth of their third child will be more of a family experience.

"This birth is different for me because I have older children," she said. "My 5-year-old daughter cannot wait to get her hands on this baby. It's less disruptive for our family life. We actually live right next to my mother. My mom's got a much bigger house. So we actually had Asher at my mother's house. So what I do is I kick my family out and have the baby at their house and then they just come back a little while later and there's mom and the baby. So that's pretty special."

Finch agreed.

"Your involvement is as much as you want it to be," he said. "Whereas maybe in the hospital you can all of a sudden be shut out. If your wife has some complication, you might find yourself kind of separated behind a glass wall. For me, it was very much a learning process. I think in entering being a father was learning how to be a husband and the care that I had to give her through that whole birthing process just grows into taking care of the baby."

Cripps and Fairman concurred.

"The mom's off to a great start," Cripps said of home births.

"The reality is, at home, mother and baby are together," Fairman added. "Mother and baby are never separated. Baby is smelling and tasting and hearing mother, father and any other siblings, and you can't say that about any other birth place."

Fairman and Cripps keep their bags packed and ready to go when a baby is expected. The joy of being part of bringing life into the world makes up for sometimes having to wake up in the middle of the night and driving for an hour or more to help with the delivery, Cripps said.

"This is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life," Cripps said. "I believe in God. I feel like you have to have a strong faith to be working [at midwifery]. It's all connected."

Fairman agreed.

"I think when you're there at this moment, it's very clear that there's something bigger than ourselves," she said.

Cripps seconds that.

"It's clear," Cripps said. "It's like you're observing the divine family."

For more information on Ten Moons, contact Fairman at 660-2459 or at aimee@ten-moons.com or Cripps at 703-930-3581 or desiree@ten-moons.com. For more information about midwifery in general, visit the North American Registry of Midwives at narm.org.


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