“Every birth is beautiful and special. There’s never a birth where I’m like, ‘Well, that wasn’t as miraculous as I wanted it to be,’” says Lindsey Meehleis in the cheery Lake Forest office of Orange County Midwifery (ocmidwifery.com), which she founded in 2010. Meehleis, a 34-year-old sunny blonde who lives in Irvine with her husband, Darren, daughter, Dylyn, 13, and son River, 6, always wanted to work with children, but changed her trajectory after a “horrible” first birth experience. Her hospital stay was traumatic, full of medical interventions and ending in a cesarean section.

As a lactation consultant, a doula and now a midwife, Meehleis has been present at about 900 births, and at every one, she works to make sure other women don’t have the kind of experience she had. (She only takes low-risk clients and says that “there’s a time and a place for hospitals.”) Clients are not only guaranteed that Meehleis herself comes to their house when it’s time to give birth, but they’re also signing on for full prenatal and postpartum support. Two other midwives now work at the practice. “This isn’t a doctor’s appointment – It’s about so much more than just taking your blood pressure. It’s a therapy appointment, a nutritional counseling appointment, a date-with-your-girlfriend appointment. It’s about what’s going on in your day to day – how your relationship with your husband is, even back to what things in your childhood could affect your birth.”

What you won’t get at a birth are either of Meehleis’ kids. “Kid energy is great at births, but not my kids’ energy.” Not that Dylyn would even go if asked. “Now that she’s turned into a teenager, she’s like ‘Mom, you’re so gross.’” Meehleis shares every birth story on her Facebook and Instagram page. “I write from my heart and share my experiences so that people actually see that birth is normal. Giving birth (naturally) is not just a random fluke thing. It can happen for anyone that’s low risk.” 

What happens at a birth? "Most people like to labor in water, so we get the tub set up and wait for baby. We’re constantly checking on baby and mom and making sure everyone’s vitals are in normal limits. The first hour after the baby’s born is what I find to be the most sacred, and I protect that as much as I can. Every time you put a hat on the baby or listen to the baby with a stethoscope, you’re entering that bubble around mom and baby. I try to use my eyes more than my hands and I try to protect that space.”

What’s been your biggest struggle being a parent and doing this? “The uncertainty of not knowing if I’ll be there Christmas morning or birthday dinners. I can have five people due in a month and those five people give birth in a three-day period and I literally don’t come home for three days at a time.”

How do you share the duties of home with your husband? “There’s no possible way I could have this lifestyle if I didn’t have the support of my husband and my family. He works a full-time job from home and when I’m gone he’s Mr. Mom and takes care of the kids and the dogs.”

What do you do with your free time? “Being on call 24/7, there’s really no free time in the true essence of the word. So I have to physically take a month off at a time in order to get what I consider free time, where I can actually turn my phone off and detach from the outside world. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting at home with my family doing nothing or if we’re sailing. Just full presence with my kids is the most important thing.”

Last book you read? “Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’”

Favorite place in Orange County? “Crystal Cove. You’re transported to a different world almost.”

What would surprise us about you? “That I still cry at every birth.”

What about this does it for you? “This is not a job. This is a calling. It’s a blessing and a curse because I have the chance of being gone all night. What keeps me going is how women can take their power back and how I can be a facilitator for that. Because I’m not giving them their power – they’re finding their own power. I just get to be the person who holds that space and is blessed to watch everything miraculously unfold the way it’s supposed to.”