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Category: Inspiration

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

Saturday May 26, 2018 was the first Birth Without Fear Conference in AUSTRALIA!!!

It was a huge success and we can’t wait to come back!!!

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Got to catchup today with these awesome women at the @birthwithoutfear Sydney conference!!! Thank you @januaryharshe for your total awesomeness 😘 and it was so cool seeing my Doula sisters @doulawisdom and @withloveformama you gals are the best ❤❤❤ #birthwithoutfear #birthwithconfidence #hypnobirthing #hypnobirthinginternational #sydney #doula #2lifedoula #childbirtheducation #Repost @doulawisdom ・・・ It was sooo great to spend the day in Sydney at the @birthwithoutfear conference 🙌🏼 @januaryharshe is so friendly and inspiring. She glows inside and out 😍 Thanks for the fun times @2lifedoula and @withloveformama 💕#birthwithoutfear #doulawisdom #birthwithoutfearconference #loveismyfilter #selflove❤ #doulalife #oxytocinboosting

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Can’t even put into words… what a journey, so many moments shared throughout the years, of words shared at exactly the right time, of rewriting of old beliefs and stories! Mama J thanks for all you do in this world, it’s so important, inspiring and uplifting. Thankyou for opening up my mind, heart & soul to a life full of love I could have only dreamed of. For shedding light on dark times, the importance of self care and not giving a shit about what anyone thinks. Thank you for opening me up to possibility and allowing me to hear the whispers of my soul and know that it’s more than ok to have a big family and it’s ok to not be “done” I am forever grateful for the impact you’ve had in my life! #youdoyouboo #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference @birthwithoutfear @januaryharshe

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Today was so surreal. I have followed @birthwithoutfear for years! I think I first discovered BWF as a student midwife and being obsessed with reading women’s birth stories. I came across the blog and then Instagram and just fell in love with the love and acceptance promoted. The no agenda, we love you no matter what your birthing choices are message was such a revelation for me and it really helped shape me as a midwife and I encourage all my clients and friends to follow these accounts in the hopes they feel the same positivity towards birth and their bodies. Also personally, I have always struggled with body image/acceptance. I have been fat, skinny and fat again and that shit really messes with your relationship with yourself and your body. @januaryharshe message of self love and self care really resonated with me today, and has over my years of following her. And I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you January for helping me understand mothers perspectives better, for making me a better midwife and mostly for helping me feel at peace with myself. . . . . #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference #birthmatters #choicematters #selflove #selfcare #midwifelife #bodypositive #mgp #blissbirth

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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #35: 5 things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

The Harshe Podcast welcomes its first guest! Tara Brooke from Doula Trainings International joins January to speak about the difference in parenting culture in Spain vs the US, racial disparity regarding birth in the US, the importance of making a postpartum plan, dealing with family after the birth, not being afraid to ask for help from family or your doula, and what your doula really thinks of you!

Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on iTunes!

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Subscribe to the Harshe Podcast on Stitcher!

Click here to download Episode #35: 5 Things Your Doula Wants You To Know!

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Considering certification as a childbirth educator but haven’t quite found the right fit yet? Interested in creating inclusive classes where birthing people can become educated about their options and patient rights?

If you’re eagerly nodding your head along to one or all of these questions, we got ya! Become a childbirth educator with Doula Trainings International‘s Childbirth Edu Training program. 

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-childbirth-edu-training-program/ 

The online platform will take you through certification requirements, tracking your participation progress for your own review of the curriculum and corresponding teaching guide, required scholarly reads and required videos.

https://www.doulatrainingsinternational.com/dtis-edu-childbirth-education-different/

This training is available for both conference attendees and those only seeking Childbirth Education Teacher Certification at DTI’s inaugural Born Into This Conference on July 12-13 in Austin, TX. What you would normally get in our 3 month online program, you will get in this 2 day in person training. You’ll walk away ready to go!

Check out WeAreDTI.com for more details!

Community Support and Breastfeeding {Make a Difference}

Community Support and Breastfeeding {Make a Difference}

(Editor’s note: this was originally posted in 2013.)

I would like to start this post with a story.

Imagine a mother – a fresh new mother – with a baby just barely 24 hours old. She drives to another city the day after her birth for her first post-birth checkup with her midwife. After leaving the appointment she and her husband decide to stop for lunch. It is late afternoon, so they have their pick of places as none are crowded. A Red Lobster is calling mom’s name – she is famished after the long work of labor the day before and seafood just sounds heavenly. And maybe a little indulgent too!

Mom, Dad, and newborn are seated right away and order their food. Mom orders crab legs (her favorite!) since baby is sleeping peacefully in his wrap against her chest. Surely he will stay asleep long enough for her to shell the crab and eat. (More experienced moms are probably giggling right now!)

The food comes out, hot and steaming. On cue, baby wakes up and wants to nurse. Mom stares longingly at her plate, knowing she can’t bother with it right now because it takes two hands to get this newborn latched and stable for the whole feed. Dad offers to help her but mom declines – at least one of them should get a hot meal after all.

The server comes out to check that everything is going well. She sees mom’s predicament and says she will be right back. She comes back, with gloves on, and starts to shell all of the mother’s crab legs for her. All the while she talks to the couple about her children, her nursing experiences, and how great it is to see a young mother breastfeeding. She also shares stories of many cold meals because of the uncanny ability of babies to wake just when dinner comes out.

She finishes shelling the still steaming crab and gives the plate to mom. Mom figures out how to support baby’s head with the wrap so she can slide one hand out to eat her still hot dinner! Mom and dad get full bellies with hot food, and so does baby. What could have ended in mom sadly eating stone-cold crab legs instead has a happy ending.

That mother was me. I have *never* forgotten that server’s support and love in that moment, and I never will. One mother, reaching out to another giving simple and practical support. That one encounter gave me the pride and hope and confidence to nurse in public in the years that followed. That one encounter helped my husband to feel 100% comfortable with nursing in public as well – knowing that people would not always be rude to his wife. While we have had rude encounters, I can always look back to this first one and radiate with joy.

The support of the community can make a huge difference for mothers who take the journey through breastfeeding. In fact, in studies and interviews women tend to rate social support as more important than professional support on the duration of their breastfeeding experience 5. Why is this?

The answer is simple – we spend far more time in the world at large than sitting in a professional’s office. We need support from our partners, family, and community at large. We need to feel supported by other mothers. When a person feels like they are doing something alone – no matter what it is – they are far less likely to succeed or meet goals. Emotionally, we feel more able to succeed with social support.

The United States has some of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the world among developed nations, and when you look at the rates of exclusive breastfeeding it becomes especially dismal. While about 75% of woman initiate breastfeeding – this is a very large category and a bit misleading. This includes one attempt in the first days of life. While this is great (so many mothers attempting to breastfeed!), it gives false hope as the total rates of breastfeeding. In 2007, at 6 months of age the rate of exclusive breastfeeding was only 13% 1. Lets keep in mind that six months of nothing but breastmilk is the current recommendation from every major group with an interest in infant health (this includes the AAP and WHO). What is happening to cause a drop from 75% of women attempting to breastfeed, to only 13% succeeding at 6 months?

The simple answer for most cases – lack of proper support. Study after study shows that our support network is vital to breastfeeding success. For most women, one caring and helpful IBCLC cannot undo the “work” of a society that does not really support breastfeeding. While it is possible for a woman to physically or psychologically be unable to breastfeed that sub-section of woman is statistically small – most certainly not 87% of woman or the human race would not have made it very far.

The Surgeon General put out a “Call to Action” in 2011, urging America to support breastfeeding. Much of the document focuses on increasing community support across the board – from the family unit, to the care provider, to society as a whole. Some highlights from the document include:

“Women with friends who have breastfed successfully are more likely to choose to breastfeed. On the other hand, negative attitudes of family and friends can pose a barrier to breastfeeding. Some mothers say that they do not ask for help from their family and friends because of the contradictory information they receive from these sources.” (pg 22)

What this little gem tells us is that mother’s who DO succeed in breastfeeding need to talk about it. We need to share our wonderful experience – it actually encourages other mother’s to more seriously consider breastfeeding in the first place. This also tells us that hearing conflicting and outdated information from “well meaning” family and friends is NOT helpful. (Big surprise there, right?)

Now, there is a whole section on Embarrassment. Yes, in the great nation of America, the Surgeon General actually has to address embarrassment as a barrier to breastfeeding.

“A study that analyzed data from a national public opinion survey conducted in 2001 found that only 43% of U.S. adults believed that women should have the right to breastfeed in public places. Restaurant and shopping center managers have reported that they would either discourage breastfeeding anywhere in their facilities or would suggest that breastfeeding mothers move to an area that was more secluded. When they have breastfed in public places, many mothers have been asked to stop breastfeeding or to leave. Such situations make women feel embarrassed and fearful of being stigmatized by people around them when they breastfeed. Embarrassment remains a formidable barrier to breastfeeding in the United States and closely related to the disapproval of breastfeeding in public. Embarrassment about breastfeeding is not limited to public settings however. Women may find themselves excluded from social interactions when they are breastfeeding because others are reluctant to be in the same room while they breastfeed. For many women, the feeling of embarrassment restricts their activites and is cited as a reason for choosing to feed supplementary formula or to give up breastfeeding altogether.” (pg 23)

This section goes on more but let me pause here. No matter how you choose to feed your child, I hope that above statement leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Only 43% of adults feel that a mother should feed her baby in public. Lets not even give the cop out of breastfeeding and “modesty”. This statistic literally translates to mean that 57% of Americans are uncomfortable with a baby being fed in public in a normal way. Only 28% in this particular study believed that breastfeeding should be portrayed on television 4.

Then we see proof that managers and business owners do ask women to leave if they breastfeed and refuse to move or stop. We see this in the news from time to time, but many people think it is rare. Is it really going to be a rare occurrence when over half of all Americans are uncomfortable seeing normal infant feeding? It also goes on to say that we are not just talking about public situations, that last section literally means that within their own homes and social units, women are being made to feel uncomfortable because they breastfeed. What woman is likely to keep breastfeeding if she doesn’t even have acceptance in her own home or social group?

To continue with the “Embarrassment” section:

” In American culture, breasts have often been regarded primarily as sexual objects, while their nurturing function is downplayed. Although focusing on the sexuality of female breasts is common in mass media, visual images of breastfeeding are rare, and a mother may never have seen a woman breastfeeding. As shown in both quantitative and qualitative studies, the perception of breasts as sexual objects may lead women to feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public. As a result, women may feel the need to conceal breastfeeding, but they have difficulty finding comfortable and accessible breastfeeding facilities in public places.” (pg 23)

This section speaks to how our breasts are viewed. First and foremost in our culture they are viewed as sexual. This context of breasts as primarily sexual is actually not the predominate view in the world as a whole by the way 3. This portion also speaks to an issue that comes up more and more with social media – the posting and viewing of breastfeeding photos. These studies and surveys prove that women need to see breastfeeding. The more you see it, the more normal it becomes.

Our sexual view of breasts did not just evolve from thin air – it evolved through a constant presence of sexual images of breasts in our culture. Simply put, the more we can promote and share the non-sexual view of breasts, the less sexual our breasts will become in the culture as a whole. I, for one, would be very happy to see that happen – not only for breastfeeding rates but also for the self-worth of women in general.

In the last sentence, the Surgeon General notes that even though women may feel compelled to hide breastfeeding because of these pressures, there is no where to hide! Our society seems to insist that we breastfeed “somewhere else” but where exactly is this wonderful place we are supposed to hide? Very few places, especially outside of large cities, have breastfeeding spaces. When was the last time you saw a breastfeeding room at your local grocery?

In the section of the document about ways to help increase breastfeeding rates, special attention is given to educating the fathers/partners and grandmothers. Studies show that lack of support from those two sources can lead to shortened breastfeeding (or never starting). There is also special attention given to strengthening and supporting woman-to-woman support groups, such as local La Leche Leagues or other community breastfeeding groups. Those two actions in our communities would be especially helpful to low-income women, where studies show that social support and acceptance are paramount to breastfeeding success 2.

Now I would like to switch gears. We know that community support can make a difference, but we hear little about it. Normally, we only see stories of mothers being harrassed for feeding their babies. If positive stories and experiences with breastfeeding can make a difference in breastfeeding rates, then we need to share them. I reached out to our support group and got many stories and photos, all about positive experiences with nursing in public!

“The first time I ever breastfed in public was last summer when my daughter was 8 months old. My family and I were on vacation in Austin, TX and we were on a tour in some underground natural caverns.  We were at a resting area and I chose a rock to sit on and started nursing her.  I was so nervous that someone would give me a dirty look or say something rude, but a woman came up to me and thanked me for nursing my baby.  That one little comment gave me the confidence I needed to keep nursing her in public and I have been doing so ever since.” – Jennifer

breastfeeding

“Over Memorial Day weekend there is a big festival by the beach where we live, so my husband and I invited our folks to join us and our 2 month old daughter. It was HOT with very little shade! My daughter was getting fussy so I sat down on a bench behind one of the vender’s who had an umbrella up. My mom, who is easily embarrassed, kept trying to give me a cover but I told her no and proceeded to nurse my baby. The vender turns around to see me nursing my daughter and says, “Good for you! Not enough mother’s breastfeed any more! Keep doing what’s best for your kid.”‘ – Beverly

breastfeeding

“We took a vacation to Vegas with our daughter. We had just finished a limousine ride, and walked back into our hotel. I sat in the lobby and started to breastfeed my little girl. A lady came by and told me breastfeeding is the most beautiful thing in the world! I wish I had taken a picture with her. It was such a positive experience for me.” – Krystal

Below is Brianna nursing at Disneyland. Just a fun fact, from a former Cast Member – Disney Cast Members are instructed specifically in training about the importance of nursing in public and that it is 100% legal and acceptable for women to do so anywhere in the parks or property. Some companies do care!

breastfeeding at Disneyland

Below is Katelyn nursing her son at the aquarium, her supportive husband at her side!

breastfeeding

If you have a positive nursing in public experience, please share it with us! And remember that the “other person” in these stories is someone just like you. Just one person reaching out to another and saying “Good Job” – it can literally change a mother’s whole outlook on breastfeeding. Next time you see a mother nursing in public – no matter how she chooses to do it – give her a smile or even better, a kind word.

References

  1. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding. Washington, DC: U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Surgeon General; 2011.
  2. Pugh, L., Milligan, R., Frick, K., Spatz, D., & Bronner, Y. (2002). Breastfeeding Duration, Costs, and Benefits of a Support Program for Low-Income Breastfeeding Women. Birth: Issues In Perinatal Care, 29(2), 95-100. doi:10.1046/j.1523-536X.2002.00169.x
  3. Wolf, J. H. (2008). Got milk? Not in public!. International Breastfeeding Journal, 31-3. doi:10.1186/1746-4358-3-11
  4. Pettis, C. T., & Miller, M. K. (2007). PROMOTING BREAST-FEEDING THROUGH SOCIAL CHANGE. Women’s Policy Journal Of Harvard, 439-47.
  5. McInnes RJ, Chambers JA. (2008). Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: Qualitative Synthesis. J Adv Nurs. 2008 May; 62(4):407-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04618.x.

Never Underestimate the Power of YOURSELF!

Never Underestimate the Power of YOURSELF!

These will never get old. Because women feeling supported and empowered should be the damn norm, no matter how we birth. 🌟 “Never Underestimate the POWER of a Woman. Never underestimate the power of YOURSELF. Sometimes it means digging deep, but I can tell you…you come out the other side feeling on top of the whole entire world. 💙 It felt SO dang good to celebrate birthing Trey and I really cannot wait to tell you guys the full story! Let’s just say it’s a good one: the OB had to deliver him with her fleece on, barely had time to catch him, and it is official that the only way I give birth is standing up. 🙃💙 • I’m also over the moon to raise TWO little gentlemen, because if there is one thing this mama can teach them…it’s that women are every bit as strong and capable as ANY man. They will give women the respect that we DESERVE, that is my #goals.” 🙌🏽 @ameskiefer #birthwithoutfear #optionssupportrespect

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Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Battling Hyperemesis Gravidarum

We often share photos of women, moments after birth, with their eyes wide and full of excitement and joy as they process this new life that they have brought into the world. For nine months their bodies spent creating this miracle; then there is birth – and regardless of how a woman gives birth, there’s always a bit of fear and anxiety mixed with the excitement of meeting this gift your body has worked so hard for. But sometimes, birth is neither the hardest nor the scariest part of the journey. Sometimes it’s the beginning.

We were happily surprised when we found out that I was pregnant with our third child in February of 2013. I loved being pregnant with my first two; and for the most part, they were smooth, non-complicated pregnancies. But at about 6 weeks along, our lives were turned upside down. Everyone told me that I was just experiencing a bad case of morning sickness; but what I didn’t know is that sometimes it’s NOT just morning sickness.

Sometimes it means not being able to keep down even a sip of water the whole day – not being able to eat even a bite for days at a time – not being able to acknowledge the other children that are begging for your attention. Sometimes it means falling into such a deep depression that you become scared of where your mind and thoughts find themselves. You question your sanity, ability and purpose in life.

In just a few weeks, you find that your clothes don’t fit and you don’t recognize the person in the mirror. You lose an unhealthy amount of weight (21 lbs in my case) in a very short period of time. You throw up so severely and so often that you burst every blood vessel under your eyes. Your normally tidy house becomes a place of shame; the laundry piles up, and your husband is forced into taking your place while you are permanently situated in the same place on the couch and in the same clothes for days at a time.

You convince yourself that you are dying.

This is NOT morning sickness. This is someone’s life being thrown upside down for months. Because it is something that we rarely hear about or talk about, it left me feeling like there was something wrong with me or that maybe I was just being a big baby and this was all normal (until my doctors informed that it was not). I was fortunate to find relief half way through my pregnancy; and that is when Marisa Pellerin Photography caught this picture of me. I barely recognized my body or myself at that point, but seeing this beautiful picture with the sun peeking through gave me hope after some of my darkest days. Pregnancy can be hard but even then, it sure is beautiful.

I hope that by sharing this, we can help those we love in the future and bring some awareness to Hypermesis Gravidarum. Pregnancy is beautiful, but it’s not always easy.

Photograph by Marisa Pellerin Photography.

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Dealing With Cesarean Scars

Rebecca shares a beautiful reflection on her c-section scarring.

I don’t actively go out of my way to look at my scar. I don’t hide its existence, but I just don’t fuss over it either. It is there, under a little flap on my tummy, hiding until I straighten myself out to peer at it in the mirror.

I didn’t always look this way. My tummy was once flat, though anyone who had only just met me in the last 4 years would be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

I recently enjoyed reading some stories of old friends experiencing success in their careers, unhindered by children and able to progress to the peak of their industries. I get more time to read about these things on Facebook while I feed my 4-month old as I put her to sleep, lying on my side and stroking her hair as she drifts off.

I wouldn’t exchange her, or my son, for any success in the world; and so I can say confidently and clearly that I have only happiness for these people. There are no “what ifs” or “maybes”. There is only joy and excitement.

Are you waiting for the “But…”? It’s not there. If I learned anything from having children, it’s that comparing success is a dangerous road, which inevitably leads to hurt for one or both parties.

So I stood up tonight and actively looked at my scar for the first time after having my daughter. It’s been four months. It’s still red, and is joined by the little skin flap and array of stretch marks that appeared three years ago after having my son through the same scar.

Both of my children were born by “elective cesarean”, though to say it was an elective choice is a lie. My son was born through a cut in my stomach after 36 hours of labor with no progression. I was given the option to continue labor, but after being told the safest option was to wheel into surgery, I agreed with the doctor’s suggestion and jumped on the trolley towards the surgery room.

People like to tell you when swapping birth stories (sometimes dangerous ground to tread) that they always have a friend who pushed through 36-hour labors, and against the odds had a vaginal birth that was “the most amazing experience a person could have”. Every time I hear these stories I have to remind myself that I chose what was right for me. My son’s birth involved me lying paralyzed on a surgery table, discussing kindergarten options with the surgery nurse whose son was about to enter school. Then my body started thrashing in what I later found out was shock from blood loss. Then the doctors did some stuff, and then I held my son. Then they weighed him, and I held him again while my husband cried with joy and I just made gulping sounds of joy in a greyish state. It’s not the almighty experience that vaginal birth stories have led me to believe.

My son is now 3. He is witty, cheeky, clever and naughty. I have never been more euphoric than when we sit and talk about his day for the single minute that he can stand to sit before running off again to play or explore everything in his environment. He is simply everything and all I could ever dream he could be.

He likes my tummy. He thinks the stretch marks make an excellent road for his mini trains and seems to assume they are ‘”pretty” before he will become socially programmed to be repulsed by them (I dread the day and work with everything in my power to prevent it).

He was recently diagnosed with asthma. My friend, who loves and is loved by my children, let me in on some medical facts she learned from her midwife mama: “Did you know cesarean babies are 90% more likely to get asthma due to not getting their lungs squeezed in the birth canal?” She asked. She didn’t mean for it to hurt; and if she knew, she would have been devastated. But it’s not uncommon for people to assume you were just totally cool to have a c-section and that it was all sweet.

Did my birth decision cause my son to end up hospitalized and struggling to breathe because I chose to be wheeled into that surgery?

My daughter came out of the same scar. They reopened it for her. She was breech and I had an “incompetent pelvis” (what a name!), which made it hard for her to engage and come down the canal naturally. So again, I “chose” to get on the trolley. I “chose” to get a syringe in my spine. I “chose” to risk going into shock again and needing a blood transfusion, and I chose what was medically deemed the safest way to bring my daughter into the world with the extenuating circumstances. If the doctor said that my leg was in the way and could risk my child’s safety during childbirth, you could bet your bottom dollar I would be hopping out of that hospital with my kids.

So tonight I stared at my scar. I took a photo of it. I marveled that this little cut bought my children into the world and made my life complete. I called in my husband to look too. He said what I was thinking without me saying a word – “Can you believe you bought our children into the world through that scar? It’s one of my favorite parts of you.”

I started going to the gym. I would like my tummy to be less wide and a little flatter. No matter how many crunches, sit-ups or planks I do, those stretch marks will stay. No amount of shea oil will wipe away my scar. I love it and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, because it made my world complete.

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

Surviving a Tubal Pregnancy: A Story of Hope

Disclaimer: A tubal/ectopic pregnancy carries serious risks. This is one woman’s experience and is a rare outcome. Nothing shared here replaces medical advice or reflects any other woman’s experiences or needs or outcomes.

I wanted to be a mother from as far back as I can remember. But I suffered from an eating disorder and as such, I had irregular periods, sometimes going as long as nine months without one. I knew if I was not having periods I was not ovulating and could not get pregnant so my husband and I decided to start trying as soon as we got married in hopes of eventually conceiving. We had been trying to get pregnant for months and had basically given up and decided to wait.

Then one morning when I was laying in the bath, I looked down at my stomach and something inside me knew I was pregnant. I bought a test without telling my husband and while he was at work I took it. I sat there for what seemed like hours waiting for those faint pink lines to appear. As my heart was thumping I looked down and just about fell off the toilet as I saw two pink lines. I didn’t know if I should believe it, I was shocked surprised and excited all at the same time. In a daze with tears in my eyes I got in my car and rushed to my husband’s work.

On the way I called and told him I had something to show him and told him to meet me outside. I arrived and he jumped into my car thinking I was just there for a normal visit but to his shock I pulled out the test and showed it to him. He stared at it for about five minutes and finally stuttered out, “So does that mean we’re pregnant?” Teary eyed we hugged with the excitement of knowing our lives were about to change forever.

I went home and took four more tests all confirming our good news but I decided to see a doctor to confirm. We showed up at the doctor’s office expecting him to say yep, you’re pregnant, take care of yourself, but that was not at all what we heard. They of course took a pregnancy test and it came back positive but when it came time for the exam the doctor got very quiet. Knowing nothing could be wrong I asked him anyway and very quietly he answered, “Your uterus does not appear pregnant.”

I didn’t understand and thought it was some fluke so I didn’t really pay much attention but he sent me right down to have an ultrasound. I quietly lay on the table waiting to see an image of my baby – I was actually excited. The tech turned on the monitor and slowly began checking my uterus. She had the monitor on for at least 10 minutes and I patiently waited for her to say look there’s your baby, but nothing happened. She turned the monitor off and said, “I couldn’t find anything. It doesn’t appear you are pregnant.”

My heart sank; they sent me into the waiting room where I waited for half an hour until the radiographer came in. He told me that they could not find a fetus in my uterus but actually found a lump in my tube, and they thought my baby was growing in my tube. I went home still confused but sure they had made a mistake. The next day I went to a specialist. They did another ultrasound and still couldn’t see a fetus but the lump in my tube had grown.

Above, my empty uterus at almost five weeks pregnant. Below, the ultrasound report with names removed:

[…] Clinic, P.S. 400 East […]th Avenue Spokane, Washington 99220 PATIENT NAME: […] DIANA B DOB: 10/29/1984 EXAM DATE: 3/31/2008 15:57 REFERRING DOCTOR: MICHAEL […] M.D. PROCEDURE: PELVIC ULTRASOUND INDICATIONS: Pelvic pain. Positive pregnancy test. TECHNIQUE: Transabdominal scans were obtained followed by transvaginal scans for better visualization. FINDINGS: The uterus measures approximately 8.8 x 4.4 x 5.9 cm. The endometrium is moderately thickened and the endometrial cavity is empty and no gestational sac is identified. In the left adnexa, there is a complete cystic/solid mass measuring approximately 3.3 x 2.2 x 2.4 cm. It is minimally hypervascular around the margins. This is adjacent to a relatively normal appearing left ovary and this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy, although an unusual hemorrhagic cyst could have a similar appearance, although I think this is less likely. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. The right ovary is well visualized and appears normal. There is a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid visualized in the cul-de-sac. CONCLUSION: Complex left adnexal mass adjacent to the left ovary. In a patient with a positive pregnancy test, this is suspicious for an ectopic pregnancy. The uterus is empty. Correlation with HCG levels would be helpful. There is only a small amount of free intraperitoneal fluid in the cul-de-sac. Dictated by: Thomas […] M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:41 Transcribed by: PRATT on 3/31/2008 at 15:50 Approved by: Thomas […], M.D. on 3/31/2008 at 16:54

The doctor then came in and very sharply said, “Diana, it appears that you have a tubal pregnancy with about three and a half centimeters of clot and bleeding in your tube and if we do not get it out immediately your tube could burst and it could kill you.” I looked at him with tears welling in my eyes and said, “Are you telling me I have to abort my baby?” As the words came out my whole body began shaking and tears were now streaming from my eyes.

He looked back at me and almost coldly said these words that still to this day ring in my ears, “Diana, you need to stop thinking of this as a baby, this is not a baby nor will it ever be one.” My heart broke and I began sobbing as the doctor continued to tell me he wanted to hook me up to an IV that would send a cancer drug into my body and as he put it allow the ‘egg’ to leave my body. He acted like it would be quick and painless, no big deal. I knew in my heart I couldn’t do it and told him I needed more time.

He thought I was crazy and became angry at me for putting my life in danger.  My husband drove me home and I curled up into a ball on the couch and sobbed for hours. This was my child, my amazing beautiful child I had waited for, and they were telling me I had to kill it. I was mad at myself, mad at God, mad at everyone. After a few hours I looked at my husband as he held me and said, “Honey, do you think the baby is in my tube?” and he sent chills down my spine as he responded, “Yes.”

Hysterically I kept running through my mind trying to figure out how to save my baby, thinking maybe if we leave him alone he could actually grow in my tube. I soon realized the only one who could save my baby was God. I asked my mom to drive us to the healing rooms and she quickly took us there. Once inside they took us to a room with three people waiting to pray over us. I was bawling as they all gathered around me and hands touching my stomach, began to pray. My body suddenly became warm and a sense of calmness spread through me. I could see my baby and I saw him in God’s hands.

At the same time my husband said he felt someone touching his shoulder and at that moment he knew everything was going to be okay. As I left they told me God had my baby and not to allow the doctors to do anything for a few days. I called the doctor and told them I needed until Friday to make a decision. They were not happy but complied. For the next three days I lived in a black hole. In my heart I think I knew God was going to save my baby but my body was terrified. I was afraid at any second my tube would burst, killing not only my baby but also myself. But most of all I was afraid that I would go to the doctor on Friday and THEY would kill my baby.

I lived in darkness for those three days (literally): sleeping, crying, and praying (begging) God to save my child. Some may not believe this but Thursday, as I lay there immersed in darkness praying to God to save my child, I saw a vision of my baby again in God’s hands but this time I saw them in my womb. God said, “I have your child” and gently lifted him up and placed him in my uterus. Crying and not sure if I was imagining, I called my mom and told her what I saw.

She said, “Diana, everything is going to be okay. I saw your baby and it is a boy and he is okay.” I hung up and fell asleep waiting for the morning. I was awoken the next morning by a phone call; it was the doctor’s office. The nurse on the line told me the doctor was allowing me to have another ultrasound but immediately after wanted me in the emergency room to administer the drug. They were ready to kill my child without a second thought.

We all drove to the hospital in silence; I think all expecting the worst. Again my heart knew it would be okay but my brain knew there was no baby in my uterus; once again I lay on the table and the tech began scanning my uterus. My heart began sinking further and further as I watched the screen and squeezed my husband’s hand. In my mind I kept imagining them strapping me to a table and taking my child from my body. It was agonizing.

All of a sudden the tech said, “Look, there’s your baby.” I thought she was joking and I looked at her not even able to cry because I couldn’t believe her. She pointed to the screen and said, “Look, it’s a perfectly healthy egg with a yolk sac. The fetus is 5 weeks old.” I got up from the table and my husband and I walked into the waiting room in shock. As we entered the room I looked at my mom and quietly said, “They found him.”

She screamed in the middle of the hospital and with everyone staring picked me up crying and screaming. It was honestly the most amazing moment of my life and I cannot even describe how it felt. Immediately the doctor called and said, “It’s a miracle because three days ago I would have sworn that baby was in your tube and today it is in your uterus and the bleeding in your tube is gone.” That was about all he said and then he hung up.

To this day I know the doctor was right, I know my son was in my tube and I know the only reason he is here today is because of God. I put his life in God’s hands and believed that what needed to happen would and God gave me the most precious blessing. Every time I look at my son I see God and I am thankful for what He did for my family, what He did for my son, and what He did for every person that prayed for my son and was touched by this Miracle. I want to take my son to that doctor and say, “See what you almost killed.” My son is a Miracle and I will never forget it.

Don’t underestimate what God can do if you believe, and don’t always listen to your doctor. If I did, my son would not be here today.  You can follow Diana’s journey at www.pcospains.blogspot.com

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

Breech Babies Are Another Variation of Normal

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breech

Originally written 10/29/2010.

With my first child, I knew I wanted a natural birth. I chose the local birth center and hired the team of midwives. I attended my regular appointments and the birth classes they offered. Starting around 30 weeks I questioned the position of my baby. I asked three of the midwives at three different appointments if they could tell if my baby was head down. I was overweight at the time and did not think palpation was enough to determine her position. On midwife #3, I requested that we check it out and she agreed.

At my ultrasound appointment and 36 weeks pregnant, I was not shocked when the ultrasound technician said, “Yep, she is breech.” I was not surprised, but I was devastated. This was not something I was educated about or prepared for. Looking back, I was just along for the ride. Big mistake. My doula told me there was still time for her to turn, but not being educated about this, I wasn’t sure.

I started asking my midwives, chiropractors and friends about breech vaginal birth. All I received were mixed answers and usually, “Yes, it can be done, but if something goes wrong it will happen fast. Why take the risk?!” I did a few things, like hanging upside down frequently and handstands in the pool. My chiropractor did the Webster technique, as it has a high success rate in giving babies more room to turn head down. At 39 weeks I had an inversion done. Let me tell you that is painful and unnatural. Wouldn’t do it again.

Finally at 39 weeks I met with a good OB. My husband and I decided to have a c-section because we knew the OB was there to do it (he was in a practice with 16 docs). It was a very emotional ride and left me wondering why there wasn’t more information or support of breech birth.

If you are trying to educate yourself more or are finding yourself in this situation, you might be asking, “What can I do differently? I need more information!” I am here to provide just that for you. Educate yourself, pray about it (or meditate) and make the best choice for you and your baby. Be strong and get the right support.

So, you find out that your baby is breech. What now?

Don’t panic! It’s going to be OK. Your baby is breech for a reason. (S)he may or may not turn and can do so even right before birth. So, be patient.

breech baby, frank breech, footling breech, complete breechWhich breech presentation is your baby favoring? There are three common types.

  • Frank Breech, which tends to be the most favorable. This is when baby’s bottom presents first and feet are by the head.
  • Footling Breech is when baby has one or both feet presenting first.
  • Complete Breech is when your baby is comfy sitting cross legged.

There are things you can do to help baby turn if that is what baby wants. Remember, your baby knows best what position to be in for his/her birth. Look into the following options:

Even when you decide to have faith in your body and your baby, you still want to be prepared and know how to help him/her gently enter this world. Here are some things to consider and research.

  • Know and be firm in your knowledge that a breech baby does not automatically mean c-section.
  • Make sure your OB or midwife is 100% on board and does not fear breech birth.
  • Always listen to YOUR intuition. If you have a fear, process it. If someone else does, don’t waiver in your faith. Trust your gut!
  • When birthing, get in a favorable position like standing, squatting, or even hand and knees (unless your body is telling you different).
  • Read a lot of great breech birth stories! Here is one with awesome pictures.
  • Do NOT let anyone (your midwife, spouse, doula, OB, etc.) pull on baby!
  • Something to educate yourself on further is making sure baby’s head is birthed before they start breathing. The book Emergency Childbirth by Gregory J. White was helpful for me.
  • Have a back up plan. There is nothing wrong with having one.  Don’t focus on it, but know it’s there. Continue to have faith that your vaginal birth will be wonderful and successful.
  • If you get nothing else from this post, remember this: even if you have a c-section, WAIT. Wait for baby to start labor. I say this for two reasons. First, you will know for sure that your baby is ready to be earthside. Second, is that you have given your baby every chance to turn head down. In hindsight, my first baby was born at least 3 weeks early as all my other babies have been born between 42-44 weeks!

A baby that is breech is not an automatic dangerous situation or cesarean. Breech babies have different risk factors and those should be discussed with your care provider, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for your baby and birth, with their support.

Emily’s Birth Story

Emily’s Birth Story

Monday, the 15th of December, 2014 – my husband and I anxiously waited in the waiting room of the hospital for our midwife appointment. At this point, I was eight days late and we were a little anxious to meet our baby we’d waited nine long months for, anxious about the impending labor and delivery that we both had no idea about what to expect, and the idea of the afterwards, we’d have a baby to take home. What did that mean for us? How will we know what to do with her if she cries or needs something? How will we know?

The midwife called us in and asked me to make myself comfortable on the bed and my husband sat on the chair next to me. The midwife discussed what they were going to do. A stretch and sweep, and check how much I was dilated. They did this and said that I was 1cm dilated. At eight days late, with no sign of labor coming any time soon, the midwives decided with a conversation with the delivery doctor that if it didn’t happen in two days, by Wednesday the 17th of December 2014, I was to be induced and then that was it. We could go home and wait until our baby came naturally or wait until Wednesday to arrive. We were excited. We had a clear date of when we would meet her. The whole pregnancy was a question of when the baby will come, what day to expect her, guessing, researching old wives tales on the date she’ll arrive, never really knowing, but now we did. We knew then that we would meet her in just a few short days and we were excited and terrified! We immediately called my husband’s parents and told them the news. The induction was a scary thing for me, because I’d been explained that an induction can increase the risk of needing to have a cesarean and being major abdominal surgery, needing a spinal block, and the recovery afterwards with a new baby. I was scared. We didn’t tell anyone else of when she was to arrive. We wanted to keep that all to our self and have the next few days together.

Tuesday the 15th of December, we went out for lunch. We ate at a café down the road from our house and we laughed. We talked about our baby and who she might look like. We discussed her hair colour and whose eyes she’d have. We talked about names we liked and laughed about what would happen if she were a boy, having spent the last five months being told it was a girl! We watched a movie at home and just spent time together. This was, for a while, to be the last moments it was just us two. Tuesday night came and she still hadn’t arrived. The midwives explained to us on Monday that if I hadn’t gone into labour by 6am on Wednesday morning to call them and let them know we were coming to the hospital and the process of induction would begin.

So we went to bed. I don’t think either of us got a lot of sleep that night, but before we knew it the alarm had sounded. It was 5.15am and we had to get up and get ready to go to the hospital. We lay in bed awhile and said good morning to each other. We checked our phones for any calls and cuddled awhile. My husband said, “C’mon it’s time to get up, have a shower, and we’ll call the hospital.” I sat up in bed and as I did I heard and felt a “pop” sound come from inside me. I felt a slight trickle of water and said to Shaun what had happened. I stood up out of bed and felt some more water come from me. My waters had broken. Shaun said, because it was only a small amount to call the hospital and check what we should do. I called the midwives on the labour ward and explained what had happened.

I remember so clearly the midwife on the other end of the phone excitedly tell me, “Yes honey, your waters have broken, you’re gonna have a baby today.” I cried! She told me to still come in as I was now ten days overdue and I’d need to be monitored anyway. I couldn’t believe it. We had booked an induction and we were mentally ready for that to happen and then my labour had started naturally! We showered and changed and we were on our way. We dropped the dog off to our parent’s house along the way. They hugged and kissed us and wished us luck and we were on our way to the hospital to meet our baby girl. We got to the hospital carpark at about 7am. Shaun sent a text to only his close friends telling them, “It’s go time.” They all knew exactly what that meant and they sent texts back wishing us luck and love; we walked inside.

The midwives were beautiful. They greeted us warmly and showed us to our room and we sat on the bed waiting for someone to come back in and see us. The midwives came in explained they would break my waters. They knew I had lost a little water earlier, but needed to be sure, and explained and carried out the process of the induction. They explained and carried out the beginning of the induction. They inserted an IV into my right arm. The internal examination during the braking the waters process showed I was still 1cm dilated. This was a concern, but we were optimistic that the dilation would increase with the help of the induction. They placed heart monitors on my tummy to be able to watch our baby’s heart rate as the induction process was going on. They sent the oxytocin into my blood stream and the labour was officially started. Around 9.30am I really started to feel the pain. Induction is rightly known as “0-60,” as the labour pains started immediately with barely any lead up! After a few hours of searing pain, then turning it down, semi awful pain, then turning it up it was 6pm. I sucked on the gas, I sat on a gym ball, I laid over the back of the bed, I probably stood on my head, but I just couldn’t find a position comfortable enough that I could get through the pain easily and quickly.

Shaun was amazing. He held my hand through every contraction, some minutes apart. He rubbed my back and whispered he loved me in my ear. He reminded me through every moment that he was the most amazing man I’d ever met and I was so glad we were doing this together. 6pm. The midwives did another internal examination to check how dilated I was. I was 2cm. This was obviously taking a long time. An epidural was offered to me. This was the one thing I didn’t want. The midwives explained to me that as this was taking too long. If our labour happened to speed up, by the time we got to it I would be too tired to push her out vaginally, possibly sending me into an emergency caesarean and they recommended I have the epidural so we could get some rest, hopefully relaxing my cervix and bringing on labour faster. 11.45pm and we had both fallen asleep waking to the midwives introducing us to the delivery doctor, Dr. Lee. They asked me if they could do an internal examination again to see how well the epidural had worked and to give us an idea of when she might arrive.

I was 3cm dilated. The doctor and midwives quickly decided that this wasn’t happening naturally. The baby had showed increased signs of distress, her heartrate wasn’t consistent and what they could feel from that last internal was her head wasn’t close enough to my cervix and too big for my pelvic opening and I needed to have a caesarean, immediately. By 12AM we were on our way to surgery. Shaun was given a blue gown and pants and asked to quickly change. I was scared. After the epidural I could still slightly feel the contractions in my left side and knowing that I was having this surgery with just a little “top up” I was scared that I was going to feel the pain or have to be put to sleep. We waited in the surgery waiting room, and I cried. I cried at Shaun saying how scared I was and he was so brave. He kept telling me it would be okay. I was scared because I knew if the spinal block didn’t fully take I would have to be put under local anesthetic and put to sleep were I wouldn’t be there to see your little girl come into the world. I was scared because I didn’t think I’d wake up.

After about 15 minutes I was brought into the delivery room. I went in alone so they could get me ready while Shaun waited outside. I was crying. They moved me to the surgical bed and the doctors and nurses were all busy around me getting everything ready. Shaun was let into the room and he was seated to my right, next to my head. A blue sheet was put in front of us so we didn’t see the surgery. The anesthetist topped up my spinal block and the doctor rubbed ice cubes on my legs asking me to tell him if I could feel it. I could. They waited a few more minutes and it had fully worked and they could begin the surgery. Dr. Lee talked us through the whole procedure. I was panicked and asking them to stop and they kept talking me through. “Your baby will scream and cry out for you any minute.” Shaun was doing his best to keep me calm, as was the anesthetist sitting to my left. They told me where they had cut and what they were dong next and told me she’d be here any second, and then just like that, she came earth side.emily3

Dr. Lee called out, “Baby girl born at 1.06am” The midwives called to Shaun and asked him to come over and see her and all I heard was: “She’s not breathing on her own, but that’s normal” I panicked. I was calling out to my baby and asking Shaun what was happening. The anesthetist explained that some babies born by caesarean need help to start breathing on their own and she was one of them. I didn’t hear at the time, but she started to cry a few minutes later in the surgery room. Shaun came over to me quickly and said, “She’s here; she’s okay, but we’re taking her to the neonatal ward to be sure.” I told him, “Don’t leave her side.” He assured me he wouldn’t and they both were gone.emily2

Shaun and the nurses rushed our daughter up to the neonatal ward, but on the way decided that she was okay and all came back down to the recovery to wait for me. They asked Shaun to have a seat and relax; they wrapped her up and gave her to him. He held her for the very first time. He fell in love! I was alone in the surgery room. It took approximately an hour to be stitched up and to come out of surgery. Up until this point I had not seen my daughter or her dad. I didn’t know if they were okay and I was scared. They wheeled me out of the surgery into recovery and I saw my husband sitting there. He was holding a white bundle of blankets and I asked him where our baby was and what he was holding. He said, “She’s here, come and meet our daughter.” Shaun asked me if I liked the name Emily and I said of course. Up until that point we had no idea what her name would be. We had mentioned the name Emily a few times, along with others, but never really stuck to any one name. We met her and we knew that she was an Emily.emily5

She was a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Emily. He handed her to me and she laid on my chest. She cuddled into me, our skin touching. She cooed at me and cried a little and I fell in love with her. She was a part of us. She was a piece of our heart outside of our body and she was ours. 42 weeks and 20 hours later I got to hold her in my arms. She was our beautiful daughter. The longest hour of my life not knowing if she was okay, 19 hours of a really painful and scary labour, nine long months of waiting and we finally got to meet her. I knew I loved her when I found out we were pregnant, but I could never have fathomed this feeling. I was devoted to her, proud of her, and I was completely and utterly in love with her, and I had only just met her. She was here, she was finally with us and we would never be happier than we were in that moment.emily4

Together we became parents in what I can only describe as the very best moment of my life. It was a magical and intimate moment we shared together. She chose us to be her mum and dad and for that we are forever grateful.emily1

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