Special Reports

Bellingham couple opts for hospital midwives, birth photographer

Sherry Christopherson of Bellingham was watching the calendar closely as her Dec. 8 delivery date drew near, but not for the expected reason.

She wanted to have her first child delivered under the care of a certified nurse midwife at St. Joseph hospital, but there were only two on staff, which meant one of them might not be available when it was time for Sherry to have her first child.

However, the hospital was adding two midwives on Dec. 1, so there would a midwife ready to help anytime, as along as Sherry’s baby didn’t arrive more than a week early.

“Once it was Dec. 1 it was, ‘OK, you can come any time!” she says.

She and her husband, Jayson Christopherson, checked in at 11 p.m. Dec. 4 and their daughter, Meggan made her appearance at 9:30 the next morning.

Also in the delivery room during those hours were two certified nurse midwives, Natalie Weatherby at the start and Jennifer Cartwright during the birth; Stacy Walker, a registered nurse at the Childbirth Center; and doula Melissa Roberts of Melissa Roberts Birth Services.

“I felt so cared for,” Sherry says.

A nurse at St. Joseph hospital, Sherry was attracted to the close attention that midwives provide, and wanted a delivery with as few medical interventions as possible, including no pain medications. At the same time, she liked the idea of a hospital setting in case problems arose.

“I wanted the safety net of a hospital,” she says.

To ease her discomfort during labor, she periodically changed positions, altered her breathing pattern, and sat in a warm birthing tub. The nurse and two midwives respected her wishes for a natural birth.

“Not once did they ask, ‘Do you want pain meds?’” says Jayson, who works at Western Washington University.

There was another person in the room, someone who tried to remain as unobtrusive as possible. Crystal Garcia, a professional photographer who specializes in birth photography without a flash, was hired by the Christophersons to capture the experience on film.

Sherry heard about birth photographers from a Facebook group for mothers and liked the idea.

“The birth is something, in the moment, you may not remember,” she says.