Trigger warning: ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage
November 3, 2017 began a life-changing (albeit short) chapter of our lives. Our son, Beckham, was a few weeks away from his first birthday, the air was cooling off in central NC, leaves were beginning to change color, and holidays were approaching quickly. My husband was in the middle of searching for a new job which was nerve wracking but we were excited to see where we would end up. We found our groove as a family and life felt easy and uncomplicated. And then I discovered I was pregnant. All of a sudden, life was NOT easy and uncomplicated. We weren’t planning on having another baby so soon.
Those two lines appeared on the test and my mind raced. “Crap. What the heck do we do?! Oh my gosh. I’m the worst mom EVER for saying ‘crap’ after learning about this tiny human. I should be so excited, just like I was with Beckham. Wait. Beckham’s going to be a big brother! That makes me want to cry! And we can’t afford another baby right now… that also makes me want to cry. Oh man, what will Joseph say? What will our friends and family say?! Surely, they’ll make lots of comments like “don’t y’all know where babies come from? Should we get you condoms for Christmas?” (we were right about that, people said those things to us and more). Oh gosh. They’re only going to be 18 months apart. We’re going to have two babies at the same time. I don’t have enough hands to take care of two babies at the same time! Two babies… how did I get so lucky?! Wow I feel so grateful. I get to go through the miracle of pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding again. Okay okay, I’ve got to clear my mind; what do I need do to right now? Figure out a way to tell Joseph. Yikes.” I found an “awesome big brother” sticker for Beck and we surprised Joseph when he got home from work! It was sweet, significant, and special.
Pregnancy can bring up so many complicated, confusing, conflicting emotions and thoughts. Excitement. Joy. Anxiety. The bittersweetness of past chapters coming to a close. Hoping the baby will be healthy. Hoping you will be healthy. Wondering how your family dynamic will change. Do we hire a midwife or an OB? Home, hospital, or birth center birth? Do we want to try to breastfeed? Formula feed? Crib or cosleep?
so. many. details.
Joseph and I took the next six days to hold space for each other while we processed through this plot twist in our lives. We laughed at how crazy all of it was, cried when we talked about this new life that was growing and we cried when we looked at our budget. We stayed up late to brainstorm how to make this transition. We told close friends and family. I found new inspiration to cook nutritious foods and get outside for walks more. I listened to the Birth Hour podcast to start getting excited for pregnancy and birth again. I daydreamed about being a family of four and what it would be like to see my husband become a dad again and my son become a brother. All of these things comforted me and brought me so much excitement and joy.
Then on November 9, 2017 I started to miscarry. I saw the blood and clots and I knew what was happening right away. A few days later it would be confirmed that it wasn’t “just” a miscarriage, it was a cervical ectopic pregnancy (ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that takes place outside of the uterus; more commonly in the fallopian tubes, but can also occur in the cervix, as ours did, about 1% of the time). Not only was it devastating to be going through a miscarriage, but now I had begun severely hemorrhaging. I was told that my life was in danger and if they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop I would need a hysterectomy. I had two procedures in 24 hours, one to embolize the uterine arteries to stop the bloodflow and another to remove the baby. Both surgeries were successful and I was able to return home after a few days in the hospital. Here we are, 4 months later and I still have days where I feel gut-wrenching pain and a longing to get to kiss our baby’s cheeks and I can’t help but cry and reach out for support. And other days I feel at peace about what happened because it’s given me opportunities to relate to other mamas who have gone through similar experiences. It’s broadened my view of what happens within families. And it helps me understand another facet of motherhood that felt so foreign to me before.
Here is why I share my story with you:
No one talks about miscarriage. 1 in 4 women go through miscarriage. That’s 25% of women! WAY more people have gone through it than we even realize. So why is it still such a taboo subject?
I noticed that there’s still the cultural practice of waiting until after the first trimester to tell friends and family “just in case” something happens. Don’t get me wrong, families need to pick the time and method of sharing their pregnancy with loved ones that feels appropriate to them, whether it’s the first day they discover they’re pregnant or if they want to wait until they’re 3 months or 9 months or any time in between. They are right to choose to wait or not to wait to share their news. But I got to thinking about why this is.
I feel like it’s because we’re taught as a culture that it’s not polite to talk about things that may make someone else uncomfortable. Miscarriage makes people uncomfortable, just like many other kinds of loss. I can understand this; who wants to say the wrong thing to a grieving person? But I believe the problem is that we haven’t made it normal for a person to grieve losing an unborn child early in pregnancy. We don’t hold space for those individuals and families and help them feel comfortable processing through it however they need to. I think we honestly don’t know what to do.
So, how can we support a person going through a miscarriage?
Don’t try to talk them out of it. “At least you were only 6 weeks along!” isn’t comforting to a person grieving the loss of a child. Neither is “you can have more babies though” or “you already have one”. Ask them how they are feeling and be prepared and willing to hear their answer. Validate their feelings, emotions, and thoughts if they are willing to share them with you. Do not judge them for where they are in their grieving process. Show gratitude for their trust in you during this time.
Do they have another small child at home? Offer to take their child for the day so they can be alone to process and begin to heal without needing to be responsible for a tiny human. Bring a meal! It doesn’t have to be fancy, even just ordering a pizza and having it sent to them is easy for you and shows them you care. If you bring a meal over, see if you can wash a dish or two or fold a load of laundry. Try to take mundane tasks off their plate so they can focus on their family.
“Would it be helpful for you to talk about how you’re feeling?”
“Would you like to be silent together? I will sit here with you as long as you need.”
“Can you think of anything I can do to help you today?”
I say “listen to their answers” because I think it can be easy to try to help people in the way that we ourselves like to be helped. But if someone wants to be alone and you invite yourself and your family over to have dinner with them because you like company when you’re hurting, it won’t be received as you’re intending it to be (even if your intentions are lovely). Allow the person to be honest about what their needs are and act accordingly.
Life continues on for everyone. The world doesn’t stop turning when tragedy strikes. It can be easy to support someone when the pain is still intense and fresh, but as the days and weeks go by that person is still navigating through the grieving process. They’re doing the best they can but it can still be hard. Try to be consistent and let them know that no matter how long it takes for them to feel better, you are there for them. Encourage them to talk with a therapist who specializes in loss if they need to. There are so many resources to help them.
It’s really that simple, y’all. No judgement. Be willing to listen. Show compassion and empathy. Meet practical needs. Give them space to talk or not to talk.
Make sure they know they are loved and that they’re not alone.
Thank you for listening to my story and my experience. I appreciate you!
My pregnancy was no easy one. From all day nausea up to 26 weeks along with four viruses and surviving the NC summer with a toddler, it was quite the adventure! But knowing it was my last pregnancy I soaked up every little kick and hiccup I felt inside my belly while pondering if I was carrying a little boy or a girl. Every time I would dream of my baby it was always a girl as her birthday approached. As a second time Mom and birth doula I did all the things to prepare and felt good about the upcoming birth. The only tiny fear that kept rising up in the back of my mind was shoulder dystocia. One of my second trimester prenatals with one of the midwives, Belinda, turned into a long therapy session where she let me talk about all my concerns and reassured me that whether my fear was from being a doula who had experienced different birth situations or if it was my intuition, my body was capable and I was in good knowledgeable hands with the midwives.
Come 34 weeks my Braxton Hicks were becoming very regular, especially with activity and started to make me nervous. I ended up going to UNC after having them come every 3-5 minutes and last a minute with cramps when up and moving around, but thankfully I wasn’t dilated and was told just to take it easy. I did my best to ignore them and not stress over preterm labor while my mom and grandma pulled together to help out with household chores so I could lay low.
By 36 weeks I was having real prodromal like contractions every night and would wake at the peak of them while thinking *nope. Not happening little one! We are birthing at the birth center!* and go back to sleep. Once we hit 37 weeks I felt so relieved! My husband and I went on a dinner date to celebrate and during our date I felt those prodromal-like contractions again (thanks oxytocin!). I had stronger ones through the night that never went away by morning that felt like early labor to me. But once my toddler got up for the day, he began acting like he sensed something was going on and had so much anxious energy that my stress levels rose and contractions fizzled out. So I made sure I got a good nap and ate well just in case it would start back up that night when I was off Mom duty.
2:30 am I woke up to a massive gush of water pouring out of me into our bed. I knew my water was breaking and immediately reached behind me to wake my husband who took no time to barrel roll out of our bed to dodge the bodily fluids like it was acid. I’m pretty sure my water breaking in our bed was his biggest fear after birthing the baby in the car! He gathered towels and I notified the on call Midwife. Knowing labor would most likely start I scarfed down a Cliff bar and sipped some water and got in a nice shower. Contractions began in half an hour and were 5 minutes apart lasting 1 1/2 minutes in no time. We decided to get our things together and head to the Birth Center as soon as my mom arrived to be with our son. Not looking forward to the almost hour long drive in labor, I popped in my earphones and listened to my Hypno Babies track while reclined in the car trying to find a way to completely relax. We arrived at the Birth Center right around 5am at the same time as my doula (who also happens to be one of my best friends!) and our Birth photographer, Amanda. I already had to focus during contractions and intentionally breathe through them. We settled into the peach room and my doula, Dana, and Amanda figured out how to hang up my birth affirmation cards and twinkle lights to make our room look dreamy. Once settled in I felt a shift in contractions. By 7am I was trying to sit on the toilet for a few contractions but always stood up right before the peak hit because I felt so much pressure. “You guys are gonna have to glue me down!” I said…then shortly after I puked on my husband’s shoulder. Lydia was finishing up her shift and decided it was time for a cervical check before I got in the tub to make sure I was far enough along not to stall it. I chose not to know my progress (I was a 7) and she suggested we try the shower first. It was nice to do something different and feel the hot water on my back and belly. I made my husband get in with me to keep me company, and at this point I was definitely vocalizing through each rush and found great comfort and felt most grounded while holding my husbands shoulders. I remember recognizing signs of transition in myself but thinking maybe it was just more intense without the cushion of my water bag. But once I puked again mid contraction I was over the shower. We got out and feeling cool air of the room on my wet bathing suit top seemed so refreshing that I didn’t change out of it. I remember not knowing what I wanted to do. Being on all fours and leaning over pillows was awful, it was too soft and I needed to feel firm and steady. The bath was floaty and left me wondering what position I could manage to cope with all the intense back labor I was feeling. And I didn’t want to stay in it for the birth because I kept thinking that I needed to be able to flip hands and knees in case of a shoulder dystocia. And then I’d think *omg stop thinking shoulder dystocia! What is wrong with you?*
At this point things got blurry and my eyes were shut most of the time as I stayed at an 8/9 for a few hours! Some contractions never left before another one would ripple right back up into yet another back piercing peak. All I have to say is all hail the hip squeeze! My other friend/doula was able to join us and I needed every single person that was in that room to get me through. My husband was my emotional rock by my face, doulas were all about the counter pressure and my amazing Midwife, Rebecca, was like having a lifetime best friend in the room to lovingly coach me what to do…with just enough sweetness to make me feel at ease but enough firmness hidden in her tone to let me know that we needed to work together to get this baby out. We worked different positions as well as binding my belly, trying to get the last bit of dilation complete. Lunges, sitting in a squat, hands and knees over a bean bag and also side lying in bed. At one point we thought that my last bit of cervical lip had gone finally! To which I remember sobbing and saying, “Thank you Jesus!” Only to then (after some pushes that really hurt) be told it was back again…to which I responded with “F$@&.” I’m pretty sure my husband laughed at me at multiple points during labor. It was probably his way of coping with his typically super quiet wife roaring like a lion through this intense labor!
At last I was able to push. And I just remember wondering WHY it hurt so bad to do so? With my son it was a RELIEF to push and felt great to get him down and out. But this time it felt like my back was breaking and nothing was budging. It was then I saw more people flooding the room and one of my favorite midwives, Jessica, and her amazing purple hair at the bed. They had called in backup. Once I was told to specifically stay on my back with my knees at my head to push, I knew what was going on. Finally her head was visible and I was able to give little grunts as her head crowned. I really wanted to allow my body to stretch and not tear! My Mantra was just to think *stretching* to remember that was the sensation I was feeling and ended up saying it out loud. Then Rebecca told me to push really hard and as I did she simultaneously pressed on my pubic bone to allow baby girl’s head to fully emerge! I was told I needed to flip to hands and knees and immediately thought *CRAP it’s happening! This is shoulder dystocia* so I kicked myself over as fast as I could with a baby head sticking out of my vagina and began pushing as hard as I could with each contraction. The moment that will stick with me for the rest of my life, that still haunts me…is the moment I was told to push as hard as I could to free her body. I was ALREADY pushing as hard as I could. My mind was racing. I was absolutely terrified in that moment that I couldn’t free my baby. I wanted to collapse and sob and say that I couldn’t do it! And I was afraid that the overwhelming energy would cause me to let out my breath into a roar while I pushed instead of being able to contain it and focus it down to my baby. But then I heard my doulas both praying out loud over my body for Jesus to give me strength…all of this happened in a second and then I purple pushed so hard while gripping my husband’s hand, I thought my blood vessels would burst! Then I felt her trunk budge at last and finally was completely freed from my pelvis! When I rolled back over I saw her body on the bed with both Rebecca and Jessica working with her to get her to breathe and heard someone tell me to talk to her. It was the first time I was able to call her by name.
We had a daughter! “Iris! Hi baby! Mama is right here.” And then we heard the littlest cry. She was finally placed on my chest. The room was full of tears of gratefulness that she was ok! Our wild flower was born October 10th around noon weighing 10lbs 14.5 ounces and only 19 inches long, making mama work hard to finally meet her. And we couldn’t be any more in love with our little turkey! Or anymore thankful for our birth team. Never underestimate a mama’s intuition.
*All photographs taken by the amazing Amanda Ditzel of Manda’s Memories/Raleigh Birth Photography*
I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I can’t think of anything else I’ve ever been more sure of.
When I found out I was pregnant on March 31st, 2016, I immediately began dreaming. Dreaming of what my pregnancy would be like (would I be sick?! Would my belly get huge?! Would lots of strangers touch me in the grocery store?!). Dreaming of what the birth would be like (would it be after my due date? Would it be long or short? Would I get to have the water birth I was hoping for?). Dreaming of what being a parent to this tiny person would be like (will breastfeeding go well? Will his first word be Mama? Will I cry the first time he gets a split lip learning to crawl? The answer to that one is yes. I definitely cried.). So many thoughts racing through my mind and all of them came from a place of a different kind of love I’d never felt before.
My pregnancy was fantastic. I wasn’t sick at all, I could still work and exercise, I loved having a big (BIG) belly, and I loved daydreaming about the birth. I wasn’t afraid or nervous, I felt calm and confident. I hired a doula, Morgan, and a birth photographer, Christi (both of whom just happen to be two of my very best friends) and my amazing husband, Joseph, who was probably the most enthusiastic and supportive birth partner a person could have. An absolute dream team that would be by my side. Together we all planned for an unmedicated birth at an out of hospital birth center, Baby + Company, in Cary, NC.
Joseph and I decided we wanted an unmedicated birth before we conceived; I completed my doula training and was SOLD. I was going to let that beautiful cocktail of hormones work together with my muscles to bring baby down, I was going to stay upright and allow gravity to help me, I was going to move freely and utilize the tub and birth ball, I was going to eat and drink as I felt I needed to keep up my energy, and of course I was counting on everything going according to plan because… well, I planned it! Even though I knew that, of course, birth is totally unpredictable and flexibility is crucial. Not being attached to any outcome but the safety and health (mental, physical, emotional) of mother and baby. I was going to learn how important this was.
38 weeks, 4 days pregnant I’m woken at 2:15am to some fluid trickling down my leg. “CRAP I’m peeing myself, how embarrassing!” I thought as I walked to the bathroom. Then the rest of my water broke on the bathroom floor. The doula in me knew that I should let Joseph keep sleeping and I should go back to sleep myself as I wasn’t having any contractions, and it’s wise to get as much rest as possible in early labor to have energy for what’s to come. Of course, as many first time moms would do, I did the EXACT opposite and wake Joseph and ask him to come evaluate this puddle for me because I have to be sure it’s not pee before I call the midwife.
I called the midwife on call and she was the only midwife I’d never met in the practice. I nervously stuttered for a minute and then finally blurted “uhhhhhh MY WATER BROKE AND THE PAPER SAID TO CALL YOU.” Smooth. She asked me a few questions and then told me to try to go back to sleep because I’d have some hard work to do the next day! Joseph and I tried to go back to sleep but our nerves and excitement got the best of us so after a couple hours of staring at the ceiling we turned on The Office and snuggled and talked about how crazy it was that we’d be meeting our baby soon.
No contractions started all night, and the next morning the midwife called to check on me and said that she wanted me resting but doing some light walking and that she’d call around noon to check in. All morning: no contractions. We got the rest of our things packed in our birth bag and let our birth team know what was going on. Around noon the midwife called and recommended that if no contractions had begun at 2pm I drink a castor oil cocktail in a glass of orange juice (definitely can’t drink orange juice ever again after that) to try to get things moving since it’d been 12 hours since my water broke.
The castor oil got some things moving (spoiler alert: castor oil makes you poop, y’all) and I started having some very mild contractions that felt like period cramps. By now Morgan and Christi were at our house and Christi was taking pictures while Morgan baked a birthday cake for Beckham (how cute is she?!). By about 4pm the midwife wanted us to come to the birth center to be checked.
When I got to the birth center I was 3 centimeters. Not too shabby! I was happy with that since I hadn’t really had many contractions and I felt like it was a little head start before labor really got started. She hooked me up to the breast pump to bring on more contractions, 30 minutes on, 3o minutes off. During our time off the pump Morgan suggested we play Simon Says and we did squats, lunges, jogging in place, and dancing. With our Birth Playlist playing in the background, some of my favorite people around me, in the gorgeous birth center, I felt so ready to do this.
About three hours later I was dilated to 5cm, contractions were finally regular and coming a couple minutes a part lasting at least a minute long. The contractions were strong, but I didn’t feel discouraged. My team was phenomenal at helping me stay focused and positive! Morgan suggested different positions to try and Joseph and I were so connected during this time. He was right there during every contraction; rubbing my back, holding me steady, telling me how much he loved me and how great I was doing (so dreamy). We used the shower and let the warm water run over my belly during contractions and that helped me relax and felt wonderful.
I decided to get in the tub to try to relax more as the contractions were getting very strong and I was tired (this was around 2am, 24 hours after my water broke). While I was in the tub I started to feel pressure like I needed to bear down, but when the midwife checked me I was only dilated to 8cm. For the first time during the labor I thought “uh oh… this isn’t good.” I knew that pushing before complete dilation can lead to cervical tears and swelling, which can both lead to a cesarean.
At this point I was only having about a 30 second break between contractions, and the ONLY way I was able to avoid pushing was if Morgan was in my face breathing with me and making eye contact with me. I couldn’t have done it without her. Try telling a woman who feels the urge to push NOT to push and it’s like telling someone not to sneeze or not to vomit. It’s such an involuntary sensation it was so challenging to avoid pushing.
We did this for about four hours. We tried different positions but they didn’t help.The midwife told us that I was still at an 8 but my cervix was starting to swell a bit, and it looked like only part of my cervix was dilating so it seemed like baby wasn’t in an optimal position. I particularly hated lying on my side, but a new nurse arrived (I LOVED her; she was incredibly sweet and held my hand and encouraged me) and asked me to lay on my side for a while with a peanut ball between my knees to help baby turn. I started getting emotional and saying I couldn’t continue like this. The urge to push was so great that I didn’t even care about the intensity of the contractions, I just needed the urge to push to go away. I started to feel afraid of tearing my cervix and I felt like what we were trying wasn’t working since every time she checked me I was still 8cm.
At about 6am I started to develop a fever so they gave me an IV so I could receive some fluids and that’s when we began discussing transferring to the hospital. The midwife told me that she suspected that, due to baby’s less than optimal position, I was having regular, strong contractions, but they weren’t effective enough to dilate me anymore and my cervix was still swelling. She told me that she thought I would need some pitocin at the hospital if I still had hopes of a vaginal birth.
I felt disappointed but not defeated. I felt like we had tried EVERYTHING the birth center had to offer and now it was time to utilize other options. Of course, I let myself be sad for a few minutes because I wouldn’t get the dreamy water birth at the birth center that I had visualized and prayed for for the entire pregnancy, and I knew that things weren’t looking great (fever, swelling cervix, poorly positioned baby, urge to push before complete dilation… yikes).
It was about 8am. Joseph and I didn’t say much in the car on the way to the hospital, but thank God it was only about a five minute drive because I couldn’t cope with contractions in the car. At this point contractions were pretty much back to back and I had to vocalize LOUDLY and breathe with Morgan’s help to fight against the urge to push. The check-in guys in the hospital lobby looked super uncomfortable which made us chuckle later looking back on it.
We got settled into a room and our midwife from the birth center just sort of dropped us off and then left. I haven’t said too much about her because I didn’t feel like we meshed very well, but I will say that I loved our new midwife, Margaret. She was previously a midwife at our birth center so I recognized her immediately as she was the one who led our tour of the birth center and helped us make our decision to (try to) deliver there. Seeing her face gave me new energy and a sense of hope. She checked me and I had gone BACKWARD to 7cm. She read through my chart and said “okay. You’ve been through A LOT so far. You’ve been trying not to push for how long now..?! I don’t normally suggest that an epidural will help a persons’ labor, but for you I really think an epidural will help you. You’ve been up for about 30 hours now and you need to rest, and the epidural will take away that urge to push.” I enthusiastically agreed with her and she put the order in. I had a moment where I looked at my birth team who had labored with me for so long and supported me in my desire for a natural birth and I got so upset thinking that I had let them down. All of them told me how silly that was and that I needed to rest so that labor could progress and I could meet my baby!
After I got the epidural Joseph and I were able to nap for about two hours (it was glorious). They started pitocin pretty soon after I got the epidural and very soon after I was feeling this painful pressure in my butt, which never went away.
At about 3pm I called my mom to fill her in and she told me that she and my dad were actually at the hospital (my dad is a surgical PA and had a case at the same hospital that day) so I invited them up for a short visit.
Things started picking up again and I kept hitting the button for more pain medication from my epidural but it wasn’t touching the painful rectal pressure AT ALL. Margaret checked me and I was at 9cm with an anterior lip. She upped my pitocin again and told me that if we didn’t see changes soon it may be time to discuss a cesarean since my water had been broken for a day and a half, I still had a fever, and you need a fully dilated cervix to be able to push out a baby. I understood, and felt at peace because I knew we were trying everything we could, and if he was supposed to be born via cesarean, I’d do what was needed to get him here safely.
At about 5pm the contractions felt different to me and I felt the urge to push again. I thought “oh noooo, it’s happening again!!” and started to feel panicked. But when Margaret checked me again I only had a small lip on my cervix that she was able to push out of the way and I was fully dilated! It was time to push!
I pushed for about an hour. Margaret was so encouraging to me and told me to reach down and feel his head. He had hair! (Which is hilarious to me because now he’s 10 months old and is pretty bald). We were making great progress but Margaret told me that baby’s heartbeat wasn’t doing well. It was very slow, especially during contractions, and he wasn’t recovering well in between contractions. She had her supervising OB standing behind her and she kept suggesting an episiotomy. I did NOT want an episiotomy; I had written specifically on my birth preferences list that I would like to avoid one if at all possible. I know that natural tears heal better than an incision, that sometimes after they cut an episiotomy you can tear WORSE, that if I tore on my own I had a chance of it being very minor whereas with an episiotomy it was automatically a second degree laceration because they cut through skin, tissue, and muscle. NO THANKS. That was the first moment in the entire labor that I felt afraid and out of control; I felt like I was supposed to have more strength to advocate for myself and ask questions but I was so exhausted the words just didn’t come. All I could manage was looking at Joseph with tears in my eyes saying “but I don’t want them to cut me.” Joseph reassured me that we were in great hands and that they would help us get baby out safely, and if an episiotomy was necessary that I would be okay. Margaret gave me a few more contractions before discussing that option with me. She finally told me that we really needed to get this baby out since his heartrate would almost disappear during each push, and so she gave me a small episiotomy. With the next push his head was out, and all of a sudden our nurse, Heather, hopped on top of my shoulder and pushed on my belly HARD and they pulled Beckham out. They had a short moment where he felt stuck, so they acted quickly in case he had a more severe case of shoulder distocia. Thankfully it was very mild and he came right out! His cord was wrapped around his neck and he came out looking a little floppy.
Thankfully, as soon as they laid him on my belly he coughed and started crying and turning pink. They whisked him off to the bassinet where they’d check him out, and I was so shocked it was over and our baby was finally here that Joseph and I just cried together for a couple minutes. Then I snapped out of it and said “go with him!!” so Morgan stood by me and told me what they were doing and how beautiful Beckham was. I still feel guilty because I responded “well, I wouldn’t know because I can’t see him!” (oops, sorry Morgan xoxoxo) Looking back on this part, I feel very frustrated that, even though Beckham was breathing well and was perfectly fine, they did all of his newborn assessments before handing him back to me. Next time I’ll be asking for my baby right away.
When they handed him to me time stood still. I finally got to look into his eyes, count his fingers and toes, kiss his (chunky) cheeks, and breastfeed for the first time. It was absolutely incredible; one of the most profound moments of my life! And I was SHOCKED that he looked like me!
He weighed 8lbs 14oz and was 21 inches long. He had light brown, fuzzy hair, and nursed like we’d been doing it forever. I immediately felt a bond with him and I would do it ALL over again for him. He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us and I’m so very grateful to be his mother!
I think it’d be easy to focus on all of the things that didn’t go the way we were hoping. Because literally nothing went the way we were hoping. I did take some time at about 6 months postpartum to process through some sad feelings about his birth, but I’m not dwelling on those things. His birth unfolded exactly the way it was supposed to, all of us are healthy, and Joseph and I made it through that experience stronger people than we were before. I know more now about the reality that birth is unpredictable. So much of it is out of our control. But we made it through. I had my unwavering birth team: Joseph who never left my side and never stopped believing in me and supporting me, Morgan who gave me tips, tricks, positions, words of encouragement, held my hand, squeezed my hips, made sure I stayed hydrated, helped me breathe, and was a crucial part of my team, and Christi who was a calm, quiet presence and captured the most significant day(s) of my life. Not to mention Margaret who advocated for us to her supervising OB and believed that my body could birth my baby vaginally and gave me way more time that anyone else probably would have, and Heather, our sweet nurse at the hospital who was the bomb and gave me jello AND a popsicle (the way to my heart is food).
40 hours from when my water broke, Beckham Grey Jarmon was born. I’ll never forget his birth and each day gets better with him! I’m so grateful I get to be his mom.
I’m preparing for a client’s birth in October and last week I stopped by Target to grab a few things for my doula bag. And by a few things I mean ALL of the things. I thought to myself “holy moly Dana, this bag is going to weigh a hundred pounds!!” and it kind of did. But I carefully thought about what I packed, and I think it’d be so helpful for clients to know what I have with me at their birth. So, here we go!
So there you have it. I’m sure I’ll add/take away/change what’s in my bag as I go, but I’m happy with my current doula gear! Of course, the most important things to bring to a birth are an open heart and hands willing to serve.
Feel free to leave a comment with different ideas, questions, suggestions, etc! It’s always great to hear others’ perspectives!
Hello everyone! My name is Dana and I’m a professional birth doula here at Kindred Spirits Doula Services. I’d love to tell you a bit about myself, where I come from, and the reasons I’m passionate about being a doula. I love Jesus, cooking and eating great food, lifting heavy weights, sharing a beverage (I was going to say coffee but I think coffee is gross… a doula who doesn’t like coffee?! SOS!) with my friends and having authentic conversation, yoga, reading books and listening to podcasts about birth, catching up with my siblings, and continuing to learn all I can about birth and how I can better serve my clients.
I’m a wife to my sweet husband and life partner, Joseph. Without him I couldn’t be a doula! He shows me the kind of support I strive to show my clients: unwavering and unconditional. Also he’s super handsome and talented and funny and I’m his #1 fan. I’m a mama to our son, Beckham, who, and I realize I’m biased when I say this, is the bomb.com. He’s the light of my life. Being his mama is the biggest blessing I’ve ever received. He’s just one of those kids who is ALWAYS smiling/laughing/eating something dangerous/giving kisses. He brings a passion for motherhood to my life that I couldn’t have imagined before becoming a parent. It’s so incredible to get to share this passion for parenthood with my beautiful clients and their families. We have a dog, Rudy (my first baby!), who’s super goofy and sweet. Now let me tell you why I chose to become a doula.
As a kid I was fascinated by birth. I thought (and still do think) that pregnant women were beautiful. I loved seeing women with gorgeous, round bellies; that lovely glow that comes from the joy of feeling life in their womb. I loved seeing mamas breastfeed their babies. I loved the way everyone got so excited waiting for a new baby. And I loved the connection and love that a new baby brings to their family and friends. This interest and appreciation for birth grew and grew, and finally in April 2016 I took a doula training workshop through toLabor and became a professional birth doula and activist.
Birth is beautiful. It’s fascinating, intriguing, messy, refining, challenging, joyful, powerful, sacred… I could go on. We all begin with birth. We are all a PART of birth, whether you’re currently a parent, have yet to become one, or never become a parent. We create the culture in which our women give birth, through education, support, a fundamental belief in women’s ability to give birth, and a conviction that birth is a rite of passage. I’m drawn to birth work because of the strength and vulnerability simultaneously working together to create some of the most impactful experiences in a person’s life.
To the expecting mama: a doula holds the space for you, the birthing person, to have your own unique birth experience. Not to speak for you but to help YOU find your voice. To know that this birth is one of the first experiences you have as this child’s parent to advocate for yourself AND them at the same time. To help you make informed decisions that are best for you, your baby, and your family, because your choices matter and you deserve to be heard. To know how to ask questions of your care provider to make sure that together you’re an unstoppable team during your birth. To support you in your decisions with no agenda of my own. To ask thought-provoking questions. To encourage and offer love during all of the complex moments of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. To offer a drink of water or a pat on your partners’ arm and reassure them that you’re doing amazing. To remind you that you are more than capable of birthing your babies. To make sure that you are doing well physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I’m committed to doing all of these things for my clients, and I could add so many more things to that list, but most importantly, I’m committed to doing what I can to help this transformative time to be one of the most beautiful experiences of your life.
I can’t WAIT to get to know each other, work together, and maybe even grab a beverage together.
Except coffee. Because coffee’s gross.