Do you know what all these women have in common? You may have already guessed that they are all women who work in birth. This group includes a Unit Director, Clinical Specialist, Midwife, many Labor & Delivery Nurses, Unit Secretary, Test Nurse, Unit Assistant’s to our inpatient and outpatient facilities and a NICU Nurse.
But would have guessed that they have all had cesareans? Believe it or not, there are even more women that I work with (including myself) who have had at least one cesarean birth. A number of women in this group have also gone on to have successful VBACs.
Indications in this group for c-sections:
Fetal Intolerance to Labor
Failure to Descend
Failure to Progress
Persistent Category II Tracing
Attempted Home Birth
When I care for women labor, there are often times that they ask if I have children of my own & how I birthed them. When I share that I have had two births by cesearan, they primary reaction is surprise. “Really? You’ve had a c-section?” Yep. Just because we work in birth does not mean we all have vaginal deliveries. Have you guys ever heard of the “nurse curse”. Just kidding… kind of.
While there are a number of reasons for why we have cesareans, we as birth workers work so hard to avoid taking you there. According to the International Cesarean Awareness Network, “Researchers estimate that almost half of the cesareans performed could be safely prevented”. Advocating for our patients and educating them of their choices during labor and birth can help reduce the amount avoidable c-sections. It’s not enough to just inform our patients. It’s also important that we work on removing our own biases when it comes to cesareans. ICAN is a great resource for birth workers to use as a resource for ourselves and guide our patients.
We also know from our experience in birth that there are cesareans that are necessary and can save the lives of birther and baby. The emergency cesareans, the cesareans for anatomical differences, cesareans for babies who cannot rotate out of a malposition despite all the hard work by the birther, cesareans for previous birth trauma, and the list goes on.
It is so important for birthing people to be able to process their cesarean birth. Birth workers can help them be heard by asking and listening. That is all. It is their choice whether or not they would like to share or not, but we can always offer an ear.
Women who have cesarean births have a very different road to recovery comparatively to vaginal births. We can help support them through and educate them on what to expect in the early days, months and coming years.
Having open discussions with patients and birth workers regarding vaginal birth after cesarean is also instrumental in preventing future avoidable c-sections.
Have you had a c-section? Would you like to share your story?
For more information and resources check out below…
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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Pre & Postnatal Educator, Founder/Host of The Natural Mama Podcast
New Orleans, Louisiana
I had mastered the whole living abroad thing, fully identifying as a “Forever-Expat,” with no vision of returning home (United States) anytime in the foreseeable future. Well, then comes baby… and “Pregnant-Expat” isn’t nearly as fun as the jet-setting, island-hopping lifestyle I once relished in.
After living in Barcelona, Spain for several years, my husband and I decided to move to Chile, his home country. The week we moved there; I became pregnant. Although we talked about having a baby and had even begun “trying”, we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
We were truly overjoyed and incredibly excited. But fairly soon after finding out the good news, I realized being pregnant abroad presented a whole range of challenges that I never expected. The joy and excitement of having our first child was directly counterpoised by the stress and fear of giving birth in a foreign land, in a foreign language, and with foreign standards of medical care.
I always knew I wanted to give birth naturally – vaginally, unmedicated, with minimal interruptions/interventions. After searching for an OB who favors natural births, it didn’t take long to find out that my birth preferences did not fit into the medical system of Chile, a country with one of the highest cesarean section rates in the world. It’s common for a woman to go to her first prenatal appointment and leave with a c-section already scheduled for 38 weeks away. This freaked me out.
Well, the stars aligned (and my incessant searching paid off) because I found the one and only OBGYN, and her team of midwives, who are infamous for being balls-to-the-wall pro-natural. When I called to make an appointment, I was told she was booked for the next five months. But then the scheduler stuttered a bit and told me “Oh wait, someone literally just cancelled as we’re speaking. Would you be able to come in tomorrow morning?” This was a divine moment. I am sure of it, because this doctor was the only one I wanted. Turns out she truly lived up to her stellar reputation.
I was supported and comforted throughout my pregnancy, with very few interventions. I only had two ultrasounds, was weighed only when I asked to be, and was never checked for dilation. Honestly, I didn’t even know pregnancy check-ups were so procedural (weight, cervical exams, etc.) until my best friend told me what it was like for her in Texas.
My pregnancy was a breeze and I felt super prepared for childbirth. My midwife educated me on my own anatomy and physiology, taught me natural pain relief techniques, and continually encouraged me to stay in-tune with my body, trust my body, and be totally present throughout the experience.
On August 4, 2019 I was three days past my due date. I woke up to pee when I noticed I had lost my mucus plug. At 1:30pm my water broke, and I began feeling pretty gnarly contractions. Many of them were double-peaked contractions. I labored at home with my husband for as long as I could… probably too long to be honest. Because my son was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital.
I was unmedicated, I was fully present, and I was put into a euphoric state during labor. Yes, the contractions hurt. But in between each contraction, I was lifted into a state of bliss – the natural rush of oxytocin is INSANE and REAL. About 30 minutes before Mateo was born, we were walking to our car to head to the hospital and I just stopped and looked at my husband with a huge smile and tears rolling down my face. He asked “What’s going on? Are you okay?” I responded between sobs, “yes!!! I’m just so HAPPY!! We’re about to meet our baby!!!!” It was an unforgettable feeling. Thank god my husband kept me on track and ushered me into the car, because it was definitely time to go.
That’s when the fetal ejection reflex (Ferguson Reflex) kicked in. I had heard about how your body “does all the work” on its own, but it didn’t really make sense to me until I felt it first-hand. I was lying across the backseat of the car, and suddenly my contractions changed. My body was pushing out my baby and I had absolutely no control over it. I told my husband “He’s coming!! He’s coming!! My body is pushing him out and I can’t help it! I’m not trying, it’s just happening!!”
My husband drove the car up to the automatic doors of the emergency department of the hospital. The front bumper was literally in the doorway and he hollered at someone to get a stretcher for me. Someone brought a wheelchair and I yelled at them in Spanish that the baby’s head was hanging out of my vagina, there’s no way I can sit in a wheelchair. The stretcher arrived and I was rushed through the hallways towards the labor and delivery section. I was lying on my side, demanding my top leg to be held up in the air as we zoomed through the hallways. The guttural, savage sounds coming from deep within my soul echoed throughout the halls of the hospital until we got to my delivery room. I pushed twice and Mateo was born at 7:39pm.
Once the birth was over, and my doctor’s job was basically done, the lack of medical care became present. We have no idea how much our baby weighed at birth because the scale was broken. They injected him with a Hepatitis B vaccine without my consent. When I got up to use the bathroom for the first time after giving birth, a nurse escorted me to the toilet and walked away, leaving me unattended. I got super dizzy, everything went black. The next thing I knew I was lying on the floor covered in blood, with cuts on the side of my head. I had passed out, by myself. The event was brushed over and ignored by the medical staff as if nothing had happened.
I learned so many valuable things from my experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and becoming a mother in a foreign country. Knowing that I was living in a place with out-of-date medical practices and a complete language barrier, I took it upon myself to research the ins and outs of all things baby-and-birth-related. And I became obsessed.
This is how “The Natural Mama Podcast” was born. A project that embodies and expresses my deepest passion. It is my goal to educate, empower, and encourage women to choose the most natural route possible throughout pregnancy, childbirth and beyond. I believe that when women are properly educated on the design and function of their own bodies, fear of the unknown dissipates, and confidence takes ahold. I began to gather the latest information from peer reviewed medical journals, experienced midwives, OBGYN’s, lactation consultants and fellow mothers.
There was no reason to keep all this valuable information to myself when so many women around me were struggling and desperate for answers. I began recording podcast episodes to share my acquired knowledge with as many women as possible. The Natural Mama Podcast evolved from there into a very active Instagram community and now an official blog-style website.
Women deserve to give birth with dignity. This is something that is so often disregarded in our society’s modern, over-medicalized approach to childbirth. The Natural Mama Podcast is an informational source for women to learn about their own incredible bodies, fully understand the sacred event of childbirth, and confidently make informed decisions to take control of their birthing experience. If I can help just one woman transition into motherhood at ease, I will feel genuinely fulfilled.
How to connect:
Podcast episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Soundcloud.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to be involved in birth work. At age 10 years old I was able to witness the birth of my younger sister. It was not the plan for me to attend. My mother’s quick labor, lack of babysitters and wildly different hospital policies than today made this possible. And while this experience would have scarred some young people, it lit a fire inside of me.
I found my passion early and began to pursue it, serving expecting women. It was not until the births of my own children that I realized how proper support is vital during birth and postpartum. You see, each of my births were vastly different. This has allowed me to view birth, postpartum and even loss in multiple lights.
My first born came earth side at 40 weeks and 4/7 days. We attempted natural induction methods at home and we tried all the things. I mean ALL of them! From my experience, castor oil was not the best route to take. While it did kick start labor, I was not effaced enough for things to progress smoothly. About mid-way through my labor, we discovered that he was occiput posterior or “sunny side up” which contributed to progression being slow and painful. After thirty long hours of contractions, I chose to have an epidural and it picked up quickly. I mean, I still pushed for two hours, but in spite of the ups and downs, I was able to birth him OP after thirty-eight hours of labor.
My second pregnancy, unfortunately, did not come to full fruition as I miscarried at 10 weeks gestation. I went to my local ER around 10:00 pm after speaking with my midwife about spotting I was having. We waited to be seen for hours. My spotting changed drastically to large amounts of bleeding while waiting in the ER. When I asked for assistance the staff offered me nothing, not even something that I was able to change into. I was told, “we see blood all of the time. It’s not an emergency”. The intake nurse also told me that she had personally had multiple miscarriages and that they were “no big deal”. I’m uncertain as to why she thought that was appropriate to say to a mother who was terrified about losing her baby. If that was not enough, I was also trying to contact my boss who was out of state on vacation. When I finally reached her to let her know what was happening she said, “I’m on vacation. You will need to find someone to cover your shifts”. At the time I worked for a maternity clothing store. I never returned to work.
The ER doctor conducted an ultrasound that showed the baby only measuring 6 weeks and I had likely lost it weeks ago. I was able to leave the ER after that traumatic experience and release everything in the comfort of my home. Though I would come to conceive my rainbow baby, the baby I lost that night forever remains in my heart and will never be replaced.
My third pregnancy and second full term birth was a whirlwind. I chose to be cared for by a midwifery group during this pregnancy and was pleased at how attentive they were to me. They found my baby to be OP (again!) around 37 weeks gestation. I spent the next few weeks trying all the tricks in the book to get baby in prime birthing position. It was not until I visited the chiropractor, whose adjustment immediately provided me relief, that baby moved into the occiput anterior position. I was had my adjustment at 9:00 am and by 2:00 pm contractions began. They continued on into the night and gained intensity with every hour. We made our way to the hospital when I began groaning that was coming from deep within. I was sure I was going to have him in the car.
We arrived at the hospital and I was 6 centimeters dilated. I begged the midwife for an epidural and she informed me that I most likely did not have time. As I moved from the triage room to the birthing suite and was transitioning on the walk over. When the midwife broke my water, my baby decided he wanted to come too. The midwife began to yell for assistance, basically holding him inside until she had an extra pair of hands in the room! Moments later and medication free, I delivered our second baby boy. My labor time was drastically reduced by my baby being in the correct position for delivery. I always recommend people seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy for this very reason.
My fourth and final pregnancy was quite an adventure. I had a tougher time with morning sickness and fatigue, but attributed it to being a mother of two young boys. After finding out we were having a girl, our hearts were filled with joy! The rest of the pregnancy moved along smoothly until I had an ultrasound during my 35-week appointment. I had never had this done with my previous pregnancies, but they were concerned about the presentation of my belly upon palpation. I am so very thankful that an ultrasound was performed because it was found that our baby was in the frank breech position and that my amniotic fluid index was exceptionally low, (4 on a scale of 1-10). My midwife sent me to the labor and delivery unit to be monitored and receive fluids two days before Thanksgiving. Thankfully, my baby was showing no signs of distress during our stay. I was released to home in the morning to continue with rest and increasing my oral fluids. The plan was for me to return for a follow-up on Saturday to have another AFI and NST.
I rested as much as I could over the holiday and even able to squeeze in an appointment with my chiropractor who attempted to assist baby into optimum positioning. When I returned on Saturday, which also happened to be my birthday, baby was still in a breech position and my AFI had decreased again. Because of the findings, it was recommended that she be delivered that day at 36 weeks gestation for her wellbeing. I immediately began being prepped for a cesarean delivery and while unexpected, received the most wonderful birthday gift in my arms a couple hours later.
I found my c-section birth to be my most difficult for various reasons. The ones most prominent in my mind are the spinal tap caused me to itch uncontrollably all over my body and was quite painful. I also had a skin reaction from the steri-strips along my scar line. While I am thankful for modern interventions in times like these, I was disappointed with how difficult my recovery was. It was so different from my vaginal births. I had not realized all the different struggles that can come along with birthing this way.
My variety of births has given me perspective that no everyone possesses. And while I did not plan it this way, I consider it to be a privilege. My stories can help past and future mothers, and/or families who are experiencing a similar situation. I hope to use my personal experience in providing the most exceptional care for the birthing community.
I was a newly graduated midwife when I became pregnant with my first baby. Becoming pregnant straight away was a bit of a shock as I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I had been told it would be a long and difficult journey to conceive. We were thrilled; however, I was anxious from the start as my risk of having a miscarriage and complications were higher. I was told that I would need to take my midwife hat off and put my mum hat on. This was easier said than done.
I had seen many different labors, births and had time to think about what I would like to accomplish. I was pretty set in a no intervention or medicated birth. As the pregnancy advanced, I was excited to see what my body could do but became nervous as the weeks went on.
I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and ended up on metformin and insulin late in the pregnancy. Growth ultrasounds revealed my baby was on the 90th percentile growth curve. With a supposedly large baby and unpredictable blood sugars, I agreed to an induction at 38 2/7 weeks.
I knew exactly what an induction meant, and I was scared. I really didn’t want an oxytocin drip, end up tied to the monitor and wind up with a failed induction leading to a cesarean section. I felt strongly about not getting an epidural due to my history of lumbar issues. In addition, I didn’t want increased interventions in labor or the side effects to play a role in breastfeeding. I had a strict birth plan that addressed every possible outcome including a c-section, an assisted delivery, and resuscitative measures after baby was born.
I tried everything to bring on natural labor and prepare my body. I used tablets, oils, acupuncture, you name it, I did it! We opted to start with a prostaglandin gel. It went in at 2:00 pm and I had after pains lasting a couple of hours. I felt her head drop into the pelvis, as I had a lot of pressure and sudden sciatic pain. The pains died down around dinner time. I ate, showered and tried to rest. I started getting tightenings around 7:00 pm which started becoming more frequent and stronger. I felt like I needed more assistance with relaxation, so I got back into the shower and breathed through each contraction. I even tried to sleep through some of them, listening to music in a dark room. This was great practice for the calmbreath, as they were rather easy to breathe through.
I was evaluated around 10:00 pm and I was 3 cm dilated. At this point, they were comfortable they could break my waters, so I went to birth suite. I was relieved that I wasn’t going to be in labor all night. My waters were artificially broken at 11:30pm and from then on, it was go time. I found it very difficult to focus due to the sudden increased intensity of the contractions. My body went into a bit of shock from a flashback I was having. I was having PTSD due to a previous sexual assault. My husband and student midwife were amazing to me. They suggested I get back into the shower to help calm me. It relaxed me immediately as the water on my back was like a repetitive, meditative drumming.
The contractions continued to intensify, and I hit transition quickly. I remember not wanting to do it anymore and begging them to pull her out. However, by the time I arrived at these thoughts, another contraction came and refocused me. On and on it went, and I breathed them through one at a time.
Ali, our midwife arrived quite quickly which was a great relief and reassuring to me. I started feeling grunty and pushy not long after. I couldn’t believe it was happening so fast. We moved from the shower to the toilet to rest my knees, and then went onto the bed when I was pushing. After twenty-two minutes of pushing in hands and knees, our beautiful Hannah arrived at 1:53am weighing 3785g, 52cm long.
Due to the very quick intense labor, I hemorrhaged and went to the operating room afterwards. I also used the calmbreath techniques in the OR, as a few hours later I was still there due to complications from the spinal block.
Looking back, it was definitely the most intense thing I have ever done. But meeting my girl made everything worth it. She was happy, healthy and breastfed so well, which was our ultimate end goal. I ended up with postpartum depression from the birth trauma I experienced with her. I believe it was a combination of the birth itself and pressured into being separated from my baby after birth. I didn’t feel heard by the staff and began to lose trust.
It took about two years to feel like we were ready to have another due to the postpartum depression, anxiety, PTSD and my physical recovery. It took us longer to fall pregnant the second time around. We were told we had a one percent chance of obtaining a pregnancy without fertility treatment. God ultimately had another plan for us.
During my second pregnancy, I had a few 2nd trimester bleeds and was diagnosed with gestational diabetes again. I had to begin insulin early which only heightened my anxiety. In addition, I had SPD, pelvic floor weakness, lumbar pain and investigations into my heart. The pregnancy ended up being considerably more challenging than my first and I had to decide mode of delivery whether it be vaginal or cesarean as the Obstetrician recommended. The recommendation came as a result from my third-degree laceration from my first delivery. I got onto the midwife group practice program and requested to see a consultant Obstetrician for antenatal visits. All of the midwives were incredibly supportive of my decisions.
I knew I’d likely be induced again if I chose a vaginal birth and wanted to wait for growth ultrasounds to help aid in the decision. Bub was in the 45th percentile at 36 weeks. After discussing it at length with Obstetricians, Midwives and PT I knew I didn’t want a c-section. I knew I would regret not attempting to have a vaginal birth.
My induction was again at 38 weeks. I went ahead after a few days of minimal sleep due to nerves and all was going well until it was time to break my waters. The baby’s head was at -4 station and kept floating away out of my pelvis. This made rupturing the bag of waters unsafe with the opportunity for the umbilical cord to prolapse. We were offered a c-section again but chose to go for a walk allowing for more time to getting bub into my pelvis. Soon I would have a new shift of OBs and nurses coming on and I felt that we could start fresh.
The decision was made to try the prostaglandin gel to get initiate some contractions. I reacted so quickly the first time, it was likely I would have the same result. I started having tightenings rather quickly after, but as baby’s head dropped into my pelvis it hit my sciatic nerves. I have a history of intermittent sciatica, but this was something else. Both legs were affected. I could hardly move and was in agony. We filled the bath, but I couldn’t get in. The only relief I had was lying on my side, but baby was posterior, and the labor began to drag out.
Twenty hours into the induction I began to realize how tired baby and I were. I decided I wanted to know what my cervical exam was to know where I stood. If it was going to be awhile, I wanted to have an epidural. I was still 4 to 5cm dilated and he was direct OP.
I’m so protective of my spine, so I didn’t make the decision to get an epidural lightly. I was upset I wouldn’t be able to labor in the bath, but I soon realized the most important thing was to be present for the birth, however that may be.
It ended up being the best decision as I could move with relief from the sciatica and managed to use gravity to help turn bub. Shortly after having the epidural placed he was ready to be born. I could still move around the bed and felt very in control, present and calm. I didn’t push for long and my amazing midwife worked hard to prevent any significant tearing again. I got to lift him up to my chest and had the best birth possible. I had a small second-degree tear due to him coming out in a compound presentation with his hand by his head.
My plan A and B did not happen, but it really was the birth I had imagined and focused on, just a little different. I never thought I’d end up with an epidural,l but the goal of a healing birth was achieved and it was absolutely amazing. We both felt on such a high afterwards. I felt like a million dollars in comparison with my first birth. Having such a supportive team around me made all the difference. I wasn’t rushed on decisions and everyone respected and trusted my choices along the way.
Founder of The Birth Education Center, Certified Doula, Certified Childbirth Educator
San Diego, CA
On our second date, dining on the largest shrimp cocktail of my life in Salt Lake City, my now ex-husband casually asked me, “What do you think about having kids?”
He must have seen the stunned look on my face, so he just continued to talk. “I’ve always seen myself adopting older children because everybody wants babies. It just doesn’t seem fair for other kids to get stuck in the system when they could be in a home where they’re loved.” I agreed and then continued the conversation. “I’ve always seen myself with a handicapped child because of volunteering at group homes throughout junior high and high school. Now working with adult handicapped people in college, I don’t understand why more people aren’t keeping their babies but allowing nurse’s aides to raise them. I would take those babies home in a heartbeat.” He agreed and we left the conversation as easy as it started.
It wasn’t weird. It seemed very factual at the time and almost like it was “the plan” all along. This boy I dated, 21 years old, left twenty-three days later for a two-year service mission in Italy. We wrote to each other almost daily. We planned out our life together during those letters and two phone calls on Christmas, (possibly a few more calls which clearly were breaking the rules) and we married five weeks after he got home in 1993.
Now it is 2001, we’re in another state while my spouse is attending law school and we have suffered six miscarriages. We received a call from our bishop. He wanted to speak to us about a five-year old girl in foster care who needed a home. She came to live with us the very next day. Three years after that and multiple failed reunification attempts, we adopted Angie. Our first daughter adopted from the system so she could grow up loved and a part of a family. Our older child was here. I thought our family was complete. Synchronicity…
I had no interest in attempting pregnancy again. The loss from our miscarriages had ripped a hole to the base level of my soul. I could not go through that pain again. We bought a puppy and moved forward with our happy life.
For about a year, I had been suffering from an itchy pink rash that covered the upper half of my body. No one could find the cause of, nor a treatment for until a “random” esthetician suggested I try green smoothies and stop eating dairy. Okay – I would try anything. Four days later the itchiness was gone, and a week later the rash. Whatever was in these magic smoothies? I was sold and kept drinking. Unaware of the enormous levels of natural folate I was ingesting, I happened to become pregnant. And the pregnancy continued past the times of my miscarriages. I had the one high risk doctor who was available to me run a test for a rare mutation that explained why “my body was broken” and how to make it work. I had undiagnosed MFTHR – a genetic mutation that doesn’t allow my body to break down folic acid into folate. This is essential for supporting a pregnancy. The green smoothies had changed the course of our lives. Synchronicity…
I was terrified of birth and terrified of pain. How could a tiny hole allow a mammoth child to exit my body? Nope. I knew THAT part of my body was not going to stretch like that and this whole birth thing would never work. Cool, they have drugs for that. Numb me from the waist down or do the surgery. Just quit telling me your horror stories because I’m about to be numb and doctor, please fix this.
“Well, while looking over your chart, I see that you’re allergic to all of the pain meds we use for an epidural,” she said. “You’ll need to find a class on natural birth, because we would only use these medications if it was a life-or-death emergency”. I began to cry in that moment. It will be a life or death because I don’t do pain, or needles or any of this! She laughed and said, “you’ll be fine, but find a class early”. I left that appointment feeling devasted and cried for a solid two weeks.
When I looked for support from my family, my spouse didn’t think I could birth without medication. My mom said I would be a statistic and die in childbirth. I knew in that moment that SHE would not be invited to witness my apparent death during childbirth. I told everyone I knew what was happening and looking for answers everywhere. My nephew’s wife said she used the Hypnobirthing method and that her babies just came out. The name “hypnobirthing” alone sounded hippie, yoga-ish and very vegan to me. I was prepared to die, leaving my two girls and dog behind. Nothing was going to work.
Out of desperation, I began reading the Hypnobirthing book and I had an awakening. I remembered we did not always have an epidural cart outside of our hospital doors. My ancestors birthed in homes, tents and fields. We got pregnant and we gave birth. It wasn’t a medical event; it was a life event. How did we do that? Something was stirring inside me and I felt safe and connected to a powerful force. While I was still fearful, someone, something – urged me to move forward.
I found a Hypnobirthing teacher. My husband only agreed to do private classes because he didn’t want to hang around other parents. He hired the teacher to be our doula because he was sure I would need more help than he could offer. I dove in. I read, I studied, I listened to my relaxations every night and every nap. My affirmations were played all day, every day. I had my now eleven-year-old daughter thump on my belly for a minute at a time so I could practice breathing through fake surges. I still fought the negative voice in my head that said I was crazy, that I couldn’t do it. The voice that wondered, who did I think I was to have a natural birth when I couldn’t even get a shot without some valium?
I made some more changes. I switched to a free-standing birth center so I could labor and birth in the water. I started to believe that my birth was going to be amazing and everything was perfect! Synchronicity…
At my last appointment with my OB, during a cervical exam, she found something abnormal on my cervix. It turned out to be cancerous cells. This discovery led to a discussion about it originating from an STI that I caught from my husband. Which led to shock, disbelief and a tearful conversation with my husband where he denied it. But I slowly started putting the pieces together.
My seemingly now perfect life had been unraveling behind the scenes for years. How many signs had I missed? As I looked closer the lies began to unfold. Sex addiction. I had seen the signs but chose to ignore them. I had turned over taking care of the bills once he started his law practice and now, we were years behind in our mortgage and facing foreclosure. I had credit cards taken out in my name for over $69,000. The mortgage and the delinquent credit cards would soon lead to bankruptcy. But there was more – stealing money from clients and forgery. I had trusted him.
My husband finally revealed his upcoming jail sentence because he would need rides to and from the jail each weekend. Those horrible and silent rides to jail took place just one month before our daughter’s due date, and I could tell no one. The shame was too great. I did end up telling my sister, because I needed her to watch my other daughter. I was in shock. How was this happening? I was pregnant with a long-awaited baby. And what about our first daughter? Whom we chose. Whom we knew was coming from that second date more than 16 years previously.
I learned in Hypnobirthing that stress affects the baby. I learned that this birth was HER birth and that I had a responsibility to connect with her and let her know that this was not her fault. That I would figure this out and she would be safe. And I felt that powerful stirring again inside of my body. The negative voice was gone. A new confident voice appeared. “You can do this. Your daughters need you. You are not alone. You will do this”. All I knew at the time was this voice carried me through some of my deepest, darkest moments on this earth. My tears never stopped flowing, but I knew I was protected somehow. I now understand that all of these events were a mix of connection to spirit and synchronicity.
As I began to look at my life through these new eyes – I wondered what the birth would look like with him by my side. I had never been more grateful to have that doula in my life. As fate would have it, my best friend would also be there as a stand in for the birth photographer who couldn’t make it.
A beautiful, straightforward labor. Six hours from start to finish. One surge at a time and connecting to my baby with each breath. The fear of the unknown wasn’t present that day and only love surrounded our moments. My doula guided my husband quietly behind the scenes and it was him that I saw, and him who held my hand through my toughest moments. My older daughter was able to witness as well as my favorite midwives. It was peace. Two pushes and she was out and up on my chest. The rush of oxytocin, love and wholeness felt in that moment stayed for weeks to come. Four hours of skin to skin and all that I had imagined. She was beautiful and perfect.
The bliss, the power and the lies. The lie that our bodies are broken. That we are capable of growing life but not birthing that life into being. Why do we not know this about our bodies, about our spirits? We are the powerful life force that lives and survives on this planet. One grounded foot on the earth and pulling this new soul in from another plane. No wonder they want to shut us down. You cannot explain this power or compete with it. But can you imagine if we joined together in the untapped love of it all and use it as balance in all that we do?
Finnley Kate entered our world with her placenta and lost oxygen along the way (we did not put those pieces together until years later). As we transferred to the hospital and entered the NICU, we were told that she had twenty-four hours to live. I knew in my heart that she had the most perfect birth I could have given her. I kangarooed her and let her know how grateful I was and how much I loved her. I had the tools from Hynobirthing to stay present and cherish each moment making conscious decisions. One of us was with her entire stay in the NICU. We took her home eight days later with hospice care.
Finnley just recently turned thirteen years old. She has Cerebral Palsy, is quadriplegic and non-verbal. She loves hip hop music, pom poms and has the most infectious giggle. She is the true spiritual guide in our home. Our second child came into our lives just as was talked about on that second date. One older child who was adopted and one who was handicapped, raised in our home. I divorced her dad two years after her birth, and the three of us have been on our own ever since. Synchronicity…divine timing, painful days and perfection – this is my life.
I teach. So much, that I can’t shut up. I opened up the Birth Education Center ten years ago. Birth work is my purpose. I serve these babies. They need us to trust. Trust our bodies, trust ourselves and trust them. They chose us as parents, and we chose them. They know why they are coming. They also have divine timing to meet those they need to meet within their lifetime. Trust their timing. We are powerful. We are not alone. We are meant to do this life together. It is hard and we are right where we are supposed to be. When we lean into the pain and ask for help, the help appears. We are meant to survive and thrive. Synchronicity…
I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse since I was 10 years old. I was fascinated with the pregnancy and birth process. The fact that I am able to see it just about every single day is a dream come true. Though this field of nursing can predominantly be joyous and sunshine-filled, it can be tragic as well. There have been experiences that have made me wonder if I am cut out for this. Or if I am able to live up to the standard of being the nurse I always hoped to be for my patients. Can I be someone to lean on? Can I be a shoulder to cry on? Can I be the person who is there through it all, during their biggest, fearful moments of their lives?
Through the tragedies and vulnerable moments, I have found that I am most always able to find the beauty. I feel honored that I am able to endure alongside my patients. The bond that is built with them through labors and births is what continues to drive my soul.
A mama’s hand is held as she pushes to deliver her baby. She found out just that morning that there was no heartbeat. She says, “please stay with me” while tears stream her face. They are running my down also. The mama who trusts me and gives me permission to check her cervix. It’s hard to let her walls down for anyone else, let alone someone she has only known for mere hours. The mama who is getting taken to an emergency C-section, terrified, looking for reassurance and asks me to pray for her. The first time mama who has had a very long, natural labor that cannot stay calm unless I sit with her and demonstrate how to breathe through every single contraction. The eye contact with the patient while I’m pushing with her. She is tuning out everyone and everything else because she wants to listen to my advice and follow my direction.
Some of my most meaningful moments in my career have been helping mamas that present in active labor. Some time after delivery, most want to get washed up but feel extremely weak. I have helped women bathe along with the help of other nurses and their support persons. There is something behind washing away the past when others are there to help you. I’ve witnessed walls come down in these moments of true vulnerability. Moms, support persons begin to cry and lead us to believe that she has never opened up to anyone like this before.
These are the moments that keep us going. To say that I am in love with what I do is a true understatement. The patients I have cared for an engraved in my memory forever.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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Labor and Delivery Nurse, Founder of Real Life Birth Workers
This is my first personal story that I am sharing on the site. This is the series of events that led me to becoming a Labor and Delivery nurse and one of the reasons I am the nurse I am today.
The story of how I became a Labor and Delivery nurse is not like others. I never wanted to work in birth, and I disliked my perinatal rotation during nursing school. It was just something I had to get through to graduate and do what I thought I was destined for: working in the operating room. I was attached to the idea of becoming an OR nurse because I had a number of surgeries as a child. The nurses that took care of me growing up made a substantial impact on my life and I wanted to help others in a similar way.
Before I was accepted into nursing school, I volunteered for a service-learning organization called Child Family Health International. I travelled to India with a group of (predominantly) medical students where we learned about the health system. The first surgery I ever saw was a cleft lip and palate repair on a toddler. I took it as a sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I felt this way because I too had a cleft lip and palate.
After some years of working in a large volume operating room on the East Coast, I was fortunate enough to be offered an opportunity to cross train in the hospital’s CVICU. There were some days that I would participate in an open-heart surgery and then move with the patient to the ICU, where I continued to care for them for the remainder of my shift. I was living a nursing dream I never knew I wanted.
After getting married, I quickly became pregnant. We were trying but had not anticipated how fast it would happen. Our move back to the West Coast was suddenly urgent as we wanted to be within driving distance to our families once our first child was born.
I was scheduled to have an anatomy scan at twelve weeks gestation because of my family history of craniofacial anomalies. My father, like me, also had a cleft palate. After the ultrasound, my husband and I were escorted into a room where we waited to talk to a physician. We began to get nervous and thought something might be seriously wrong. The physician entered cautiously and gently told us that they had found something, we started mapping out worst case scenarios in our mind. “Your baby has a cleft lip and palate” he said. I remember my husband and I looking at each other with huge relief in our eyes. One of the conversations we had during our relationship was the possibility of our children having a cleft, it was something we were both prepared for and we could handle it. But the minute we got in the car, I burst into tears.
I realized in that moment that I had so many fears about having a child with a cleft. It was a complicated and layered mix of emotions. One of those fears was about surgery. I had to have six growing up and five of them took place while I was under ten years old. Another fear was that I experienced repeated torment by being made fun of for my nose, mouth and teeth. I’d like to say only kids are cruel, but I experienced this verbal harassment late into my twenties. I realized at the age of twenty-eight, I had not faced the majority of the problems that had affected me throughout my life, and I was terrified for my child to face the same things. I needed to begin to heal so that I may provide the support for him that he needed.
While preparing to have our son, we faced additional trials. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, something I was able to manage well with diet alone, so it didn’t feel too overwhelming. I remember sitting in our first birth preparation class at around six months pregnant and my husband getting a phone call. It was his sister. She told my husband that their father had been taken to the ER with shortness of breath. He had to have a trach placed emergently so that he could maintain his airway. We notified our teacher that we had to drive home to be with him. That was the last class we ever attended. We drove overnight and went to see him in the ICU. He had been diagnosed with stage III laryngeal cancer and his prognosis was about six months unless he received treatment. My father-in-law was on the fence about prolonging his life, especially if it was going to be a significant reduction in quality. My husband felt torn about being away from him during this time. Without thought or question, I told him that we would move home to help manage his care while going through chemotherapy and radiation. I gave two weeks’ notice at the hospital I was working at and we abruptly left Southern California for Northern California only four months after arriving from the East Coast.
Things continued to be busy in the last three months of my pregnancy. We were never able to attend another childbirth class because of all the additional stress. I felt that since I was a nurse and had experienced having a cleft firsthand, I would know what I was doing. I thought I knew what to do in labor, delivery, and caring for my newborn.
We had bought and moved into a new home a week before my due date and I was worried about having things set up before our baby arrived. I lifted all the boxes… nothing. Barely a contraction. Then a couple days before my induction, my last living grandfather passed away. We were able to spend a number of hours with him before his last breath and for that I was grateful.
I walked into my first induction at 41 1/7 weeks gestation. I was closed/thick/high and had no response to multiple rounds of Cytotec. I had my second induction at 41 3/7 weeks. I was slightly dilated, and my physician was able to get a foley balloon in my cervix for manual dilation. After the foley balloon fell out, my amniotic sac was ruptured artificially, and oxytocin was started to augment my contraction pattern. I got an epidural at 5 cm dilated and was able to get some sleep. My epidural was positional, and I began needing to rotate from right to left to get adequate pain relief. I joke with my colleagues now that I had “all the things” in my vagina. I don’t remember about the sequence of events, but I know I ended up with an intrauterine pressure catheter and a fetal scalp electrode at some point. At 8 cm I got my epidural re-bolused and made it to complete about 17 hours after we had started the induction. I pushed for a couple of hours and was not making any progress in descent. I became exhausted and had a cesarean section in the early morning hours. I remember looking at his head and thinking how long and squished it looked. He was direct OP and his head measured at 37 cm.
The first hours with him were a blur between pain and vomiting, but I remember looking at him while he lay skin to skin on my chest. I recall being in total shock looking at his cleft. I had known for months about it. I had seen him up close on the ultrasounds. I had first-hand experience to refer to, but I still couldn’t believe it. I was filled with immense guilt that I had passed this congenital anomaly to my son.
The nurses knew my plan was to breastfeed and pump from the start. As I recovered in the PACA, the nurses hand expressed colostrum into his mouth to be sure that his glucose was maintained and that he wouldn’t be hypoglycemic. After transferring to post-partum, they set me up with a pump and soon assisted me with a feeding plan. I felt so completely supported by the staff to succeed in caring and breastfeeding him.
I realized, I knew nothing about what was coming for me and I couldn’t have done it without their support. Every single nurse I interacted with gave me so much love and support. Even though I didn’t have the experience I thought I would have, I was in awe of the care I received.
The following months after our son’s birth were incredibly difficult. We seemed to run into problem after problem. First it was with feeding & weight loss. He was burning more calories than he could consume trying to breastfeed, the specialty bottle was giving him ulcers on his nasal turbinates’, and the therapy we we’re supposed to be utilizing (nasoalveolar mold) until he had his first surgery was causing irritation in his nostril and on his cheeks. I developed significant post-partum depression and anxiety during this time. There were days that I was terrified to put him down. I wanted to hold him forever in my arms to make up for the pain he was experiencing and that ultimately, I gave to him through my genetics. The guilt I felt ate me alive and when I finally had to consider returning to work, it seemed to get worse.
I started a per diem job in the ICU at the hospital where I delivered. I wanted to make sure I could take time off for him for his upcoming surgeries when needed. I knew shortly after returning to work that my experience with the nurses in L&D had changed me and my heart was shifting in a new direction. I began talking with my manager in the ICU about the feelings I was having. She was supportive and encouraged me to reach out to the manager in L&D. My son had two surgeries over the course of seven months related to his cleft lip and palate and did very well overall. Handing him over to the nurses for surgery was one of the most difficult moments of my life. Even with all my knowledge and comfort I had with the OR, I felt sick to my stomach letting him go. When he got out and I was finally able, I held him for hours. I knew I could not take his pain away, but I promised that I would bear it with him.
During the same time my husband had repeatedly been sick with pneumonia and we couldn’t figure out why that was. After having numerous tests done, a large congenital mass that had been growing since birth was found in his left lung. We were told it was rare for children to make it past age eight without it being found. It was so large that it was taking up the majority of the space and was getting continuously infected. He had to have the mass and the majority of his left lung removed two months after my son’s second cleft palate surgery and one month after I began a RN to BSN program. To say that life felt a little overwhelming was an understatement.
After some months of communication, I was able to interview and get offered a position in L&D. I knew that it was going to be a change of pace, but I didn’t know that I was ultimately going to find the heart and soul of my career.
The nurses in the unit were just as supportive mentoring me in a nurse-to-nurse relationship as they were during my nurse-to-patient relationship when I delivered. They have helped me be present, be witness, and encourage the process of becoming a parent. This has allowed me an environment to learn how to heal, honor, and accept my journey so that I can be an unwavering support system for my first son on his. And ultimately for my patients who are on on their own as well.
There are many experiences throughout my life that have contributed to the nurse I am today. The special care I received as a patient, and the mentorship while I was orienting as a new L&D nurse have both significantly influenced that. I look forward to sharing other stories that have contributed to who I am in birth today.
Thank you for being part of this community and supporting birthers and birth workers alike. I hope that sharing one of my stories will encourage you to reach out to me and share one of yours. Sharing your story can be a catalyst for change.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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Founder of The Birth Trauma Coach, Hypnobirthing Educator, Birth Trauma Practitioner
Clare, United Kingdom
I have worked in the birth world for almost eight years now and I am still as passionate about it today as the day I stepped in.
I wasn’t someone you would have thought would have ended up working in birth. If I am totally honest with you, every one of my friends that I grew up with, would tell you how passionate I was that I wasn’t going to have children. Things changed when I met my husband to be. I started to change the belief that my life wasn’t only about having a career. Four years after meeting, we married and had our first baby.
It was during my pregnancy that I realized I was absolutely petrified of giving birth. Every time I thought about giving birth, I would have a panic attack and burst into tears. This 100% wasn’t me. I normally see myself as a strong, independent woman. But there was something about birth that just shook me.
Looking back on it now, I can identify what the issue was. I had suffered a previous miscarriage only the year before. The hospital had sent me home after I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage. It was not explained to me that I would have contractions, that I would bleed or how long it could possibly go on for. The pain was incredible. I bled for weeks on end and it went on forever. My body just didn’t want to fully let go of this pregnancy.
Every stage of the miscarriage was the worst experience for me. I can say hand on heart, it instilled a fear in me about giving birth. If giving birth to this baby felt like this, I wondered how I would give birth to a full-term baby?
I stumbled across hypnobirthing and thankfully, it completely changed my mindset. I moved from a place of fear, to a place of positivity and excitement. After giving birth I knew I had to help other women in the same way hypnobirthing had helped me. I left my career to enter the world of birth.
Once fully trained and set up for business it became apparent that I attracted clients that needed extra support. I saw a huge amount of trauma caused by previous birth experiences and desperately wanted to help. I sought out and completed extra training to assist in birth trauma resolution. I have seen some amazing transformations.
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for in my journey in supporting people who gave birth was the trauma that affects birth partners. I was seeing so much suffering and post-traumatic stress from witnessing their loved one’s birth.
I started to see the birth partner has a tendency to get overlooked. If we all think about it, I think we can agree that birth partners may not get the support they need. The partner is expected to be the primary support in all stages of the perinatal and the postnatal period. Their mental health can get unintentionally ignored. The birthing person has midwives and healthcare visitors keeping an eye on them, checking in on them, but who is checking in on the birth partners?
The birth partners watch the traumatic situation unfold around them, quite often with medical professionals poorly communicating, as things are urgent or emergent. This leaves partners with little understanding of what’s happening, why it’s happening and what the outcomes will be. This is a terrifying and vulnerable position to be in while watching a loved one.
I am not saying that attention should be taken away from the birthing person, but the birth partners in the room should be considered. The communication that flows towards them needs to be clear.
I’ve heard the retelling of life changing experiences from birth partners. Imagine hearing medical professionals discuss if they didn’t get on top of the situation quickly both his wife and baby would die. Stories where the birthing person is wheeled off in one direction, their baby in another and being told to choose who to go with and not knowing if they will see the other one again.
I had a friend who recently witnessed his partner have a traumatic birth. I made sure to ask him how he was, and he brushed me off with the usual ‘oh I’m ok, my wife had it a lot worse’ type of comment. I looked him straight in the eye and asked him again. He just broke. He explained to me that since the birth of their baby, (five months previously) no one had asked him how he was coping. The weight of supporting his family, having to go back to work, making sure he was at the hospital for visiting hours and the guilt of splitting his time between visiting his wife and visiting his baby was still eating him up. Even though they had been home for some time now.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many birth partners are out there trying their hardest to keep on top of their trauma symptoms. They keep these feelings hidden for a number of reasons. A combination of them feeling like they don’t have the time to do anything about it, feeling like they can’t speak up because it didn’t happen to them, the shame preventing them from opening up, and trying to be strong for the family.
Regardless of the reasons why they aren’t speaking about it or getting help, I just want to keep shouting about it and banging my drum to get the message out there that it’s okay to talk about it. There is absolutely no shame in how you are feeling. It’s okay to reach out.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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Labor & Delivery RN, Founder of A Life in Labor, Co-Creator of Loving Your Labor Academy
I became a labor and delivery nurse fresh out of college with almost no experience in childbearing or motherhood. But as I encouraged and assisted new persons to bring their babies into the world, my passion for pregnancy and birth grew more and more every day. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first baby, two years into my career, that I realized how much more there was to childbirth. What I saw in the labor room was just the beginning.
Laboring with mothers as a full-time career, I thought I knew it all. I thought that I understood what it meant to give birth. I thought that I knew what I needed to do in order to have the unmedicated birth that I wanted. After my water broke at home at 1.5 cm dilated and getting an epidural at 4cm, I realized I was wrong.
Bringing my baby home for the first time was a shock. Again, I had experience with newborn babies, and I felt like I was born to be a mother. In my heart of hearts, I knew that I could be an incredible mother. The problem? Having a newborn baby was so much harder and mentally taxing than I could have ever imagined. Even with all the education and advice others had given me.
My baby seemed to never sleep. He had terrible infant acid reflux, throwing up what seemed like his entire feed every time I nursed him. He always seemed to be fussy and uncomfortable. As a result, I found myself suffering from postpartum anxiety feeling like I was unable to do the right thing for him. The anxiety was confusing and terrifying. Each night when I should have been asleep, I was google-searching “Is this normal” for every little thing my baby or I was experiencing throughout our fourth trimester.
As I tried to overcome the struggles of new motherhood, I constantly found myself on blogs and mommy groups online. I was searching desperately for someone to say, “me too”, “I went through that too”, “yes, your story sounds like mine and this is how I got through it”. Unfortunately, I never found those responses I desperately needed to hear. Everything I was finding were sugar-coated stories of newborn heaven or advice that sounded like eventually, it gets easier. There was no real advice about what to do in the meantime, during the struggle.
It was about nine months after delivery when I had overcome my postpartum anxiety and finally found my groove as a new mom. One day, my husband and I were walking down the street at our local outdoor mall when my eyes met with another mother. She was pushing a stroller that carried a newborn baby. When we were looking at each other, I felt like I could feel her struggle. She didn’t look upset or have tears in her eyes. She simply looked like a tired new mom… exactly as I did. Totally put together on the outside but struggling on the inside. I just wanted to reach out and say “I know what you’re going through. How can I help?”.
My husband noticed me smile at her and said something that changed me forever. He said “It’s like moms have an unspoken connection where they know what each other is going through with just a quick glance. It’s like they have to say ‘Hello’. Moms are just…connected”. In that moment I made a decision that I had never even thought about prior. I said to my husband, “I think I’m going to start a blog”.
After that day, I started recalling the things that I needed when I was pregnant, preparing for labor, and trying to make it through a stormy new motherhood experience. I started writing blog posts from my heart. They were always monster blog posts that seemed to never end. I had so much on my mind and in my heart that I wanted to share. I told myself that if even one new mom came across this blog in search of help and guidance, I felt like I had accomplished something meaningful.
Let’s fast forward to when I got pregnant with my second son. This pregnancy came after two consecutive miscarriages. My heart changed in this period of time because of my losses. I made the decision that I would dedicate time to becoming empowered and embrace my ability as a woman to carry and birth my baby in a way that I knew I was meant to.
I did my research. I submerged myself into as many resources as I could to prepare my body and mind for a successful unmedicated birth…and I did it. I had the birth that I wanted, and I felt like a superwoman. I felt so fortunate that everything flowed the way that I wanted it to, because of what I experienced with my first labor and seen so many times in my work.
The confidence that I had in this pregnancy overflowed into my birth and then continued to grow in the newborn stage with my new baby. I had confidence in myself, my body, and my baby. My outcome this time around inspired me to reach out to moms in a whole new way. I had already been sharing my experience with pregnancy, birth, and the fourth trimester but I felt like there was an even greater need in empowerment around these things.
After the birth of my second baby, I made it my mission to empower as many women in their ability to carry, birth, and feed their babies with confidence and allowing their bodies to lead the way.
As fate would have it, as I created a labor and birth course called Loving Your Labor Academy, COVID-19 hit the world forcing everyone to find resources online. In this time, I connected with so many new moms who were searching online for someone to help them in their time of need. I could not have ever imagined how many lives I would impact when my goal a short time ago was to simply help one new mom. I’ve helped thousands of new moms-to-be achieve a birth that they felt good about and look back on with love.
I have been amazed how a moment in my life, that I interpreted as one of the hardest experiences I have ever gone through, can end up being the catalyst that has connected and positively impacted so many lives around the world.
I am so thankful for being a birth worker. I have a driving passion for helping and empowering women just as I needed when I was in their shoes.
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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Founder of More Than Maternal, Masters in Business Administration
Wilmington, North Carolina
Pregnancy was never part of the equation, at least not at the time it wasn’t.
My life was in the ultimate transition when we found out that we were pregnant. I was a new graduate student who was newly moved, newly employed, and newly engaged while on the rocks with my fiancé. And to add icing on the cake my fiancé (who’s in the military) was just informed that he was ordered to deploy to Japan for six months. Not only did it mean that he would be away for most of my pregnancy; but that I would also be alone working in North Carolina, pursuing my MBA, while attempting to heal a fractured relationship from thousands of miles away. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was confused for multiple reasons (one because our birth control failed us), unprepared, and wasn’t sure I had the strength to handle all of this on my own.
I was very scared. We both were. So much so, to the point where I decided to seek alternative options. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood to consider what options were available for us. There we received our first ultrasound that officially confirmed our pregnancy. There are many people who have strong opinions on organizations like Planned Parenthood; but as a woman, I can only speak to my experience alone. For someone who felt lost and confused, it was there that I received my first level of support and education when it came to my reproductive rights. I never once was pressured to do anything I wasn’t comfortable with it. As I recall the doctor saying, “we will always be here, take the time you need to make sure you truly want to do this. This is your decision and yours alone. We know how hard this can be and we are here to support you with whichever decision you decide to make”. Those were the words that I desperately needed to hear. It was supportive, it was compassionate, and it was empowering. Most importantly, it wasn’t judgmental, and it reminded me that I am ultimately the one that is in control. It gave me the agency to realize that no matter how overwhelming these next nine months might be, I had the willpower, strength, and faith to pursue this new journey.
I soon realized that there were so many things to do in such a little amount of time that I didn’t know where to start. My schedule did not afford me the time to read pregnancy blogs, watch YouTube videos of pregnancy “must haves”, or dissect pregnancy articles that were mostly based in personal opinion.
The advice I received from family members were valuable, but also outdated. Doctor’s visits were centered on my baby and less so on me. I slowly felt like people weren’t seeing me as Jasmin, but more so as a vessel for this beautiful growing baby. My values of career, ambition, fun, and free spirit were being dimmed by everyone’s growing value (and concern) of my baby. It all started to feel like a zero-sum game where I needed to choose either my identity or my baby, making little room for both to harmoniously coexist. Working too hard at work or school left me with feelings of “don’t overdo it, you don’t want to add stress to the baby”. And sleeping the whole day would leave feelings of guilt and self-talk of “I could/should be doing x y z right now.” I felt like I had to choose one over the other but could never have both.
It wasn’t until I was introduced to pregnancy’s two best friends-surrender and intuition- that I finally understood the power of pregnancy, and ultimately myself.
Surrender means to yield power, control, and possession of another upon compulsion. Surrendering taught me that I was holding onto the power of other’s people’s opinions, the control of maintaining an image of feminine perfection, and the possession of my inner struggles. I needed to surrender all of these things so that I could fully embrace my transformation. Intuition means to understand and know something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. This gave me the permission to trust my ability to go inward for answers instead of looking outward. I found that looking outside for answers was leaving me with self-doubt, procrastination, and worry. Thinking with my body and spirit allowed me to trust my internal compass of judgement and discernment. It gave me the confidence to speak up, ask questions, and question others when I felt that something was array with me or my baby. These two virtues that once were dormant, were now louder and prouder than ever. It empowered me, directed me, and nurtured me. Ultimately it gave me the autonomy to see not just in me, but in every woman, how powerful and capable we all are.
This lesson was also a foreshadow of what I needed to harness for my labor. Like most moms, I felt relatively prepared to deliver my baby. My birth plan was ready, my hospital bag was packed, and my fiancé finally returned home. The distance in our relationship was needed time away for us to carefully reflect, acknowledge our challenges, and heal ourselves separately. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was the best thing that could’ve happened for our relationship. We reunited better than when we left and were ready to heal our relationship together and united.
What we were not prepared for was that a life in North Carolina was prime for hurricanes, and there was a massive one coming our way. Hurricane Florence, a category 4 hurricane, was set to cross our path and cause major damage. All women, 36 weeks pregnant and further, were required to evacuate immediately. This meant driving to my in-laws in Delaware and possibly having the baby there. Not the plan! Those scary feelings, similar to when I first found out I was pregnant soon began to rear their nasty heads. Yet this time I had self-confidence, surrender, and intuition on my side. Although still there, those feelings in no way overcame me like they did the first time. This time I felt calm, knowing, and internally strong. No matter what was going to happen, I knew deeply that me and my baby were going to be okay.
Two weeks later and one week past my due date, we were on our way back from Delaware and on to the hospital. I walked into an induced labor, artificial breaking of my waters, an epidural, and stalled contractions at nine centimeters. This ultimately landed me in a c-section for my delivery. All my steps through labor were manufactured, never ever considered by me or written in my birth plan, and completely out of my control. Everything that I had planned did not go as planned (I hope you see a theme here 😊).
Was it hard? Yes. Was it disappointing? Yes. Do I wish I prepared differently? Yes. Did I cry a lot? Yes. But did I trust the situation and my intuition enough to surrender to the process? Yes. Did I ultimately deliver a beautiful and healthy baby boy? Yes. Did I come out as a healthy and happy mom? Yes, and yes.
The things that I once feared are now my weapons of strength and measures of growth. I successfully received my MBA from Duke University, work in Early Education nonprofit, am happily married, have a beautiful support system here in North Carolina; and all while having more compassion, self-confidence, and understanding of myself.
All in all, the pregnancy journey was truly that- a journey. The highs, the lows, the “a ha” moments, the transformations; are all factors in showing a woman the power that is within her. Which is what ultimately led me to create a practical and compassionate app solution called More Than Maternal.
More Than Maternal was created for women with busy lifestyles to nurture and prepare them fully and confidently for the arrival of their baby. It uses four intentions: mindset (mental wellness & building connections), money (financial planning & assessments), means (employment planning & workplace adjustment), and mission (self-advocacy & maternity rights) so that women feel centered, prepared, and powerful as they navigate their daily lives while pregnant.
The pregnancy journey is unique and I know that my journey was for me and me alone. But I also understand the similarities we face as well. It is my hope that my story and shared experiences will continue to unite women in support, education, compassion, and self-love.