The Latest Stories


Founder of La Luna Counseling and Wellness – Master of Arts, Licensed Professional Counselor

Avon-by-the-Sea, New Jersey

I gave birth to my son in August 2017. I had a magical idea of what childbirth would be. As most seasoned mothers would know, we can’t control everything that will come, and I was mistaken. I was in labor for a total of twenty-three hours. Twenty-two of those hours were without an epidural. When they finally were able to give me one, I was 9 cm dilated. The epidural was of course unable to fully kick in by the time I was holding my baby boy. Upon the final push and hearing his cry, he was taken from me and put in an incubator. I was unaware that I had developed an infection during my labor. My water had been broken for too long and as a result, I had a fever that reached 103 degrees. My baby boy Tony had a fever like me from being in utero as I was developing chorioamnionitis. Within fifteen minutes of being earth side, Tony’s fever subsided, and I was given antibiotics.

I had “baby blues” for the first two weeks along with the typical sleep deprivation. He had colic and was hard to console. Anyone who has had to deal with a colic baby knows the pain. I was unhappy and short tempered, but I thought it was normal. I had an unhappy baby who would cry for no reason, so why would I be happy? After about six months things finally began to simmer down. His colic went away, and I began feeling like myself again. I wish I knew then what I know now. Those feelings I was experiencing were actually postpartum depression, but I suffered in silence.

After my son turned two, I was ready to try for a second baby. I figured if I could handle one, how hard could one more really be? When I became pregnant, I had more mood swings and anger then I did with my first. I chocked it up to other life stressors we were having, like moving homes and the stress of handling a toddler and living during a global pandemic.

I had created a birth plan for this delivery, but it went sideways just as the first did. Because of COVID-19, my doctors wanted to induce me. They wanted to get me in and out of the hospital as quick as possible. By minimizing the amount of time, we were there, it reduced the chance of us picking the virus and the hospital was short staffed due to increased cases. I never wanted to be induced. This caused my anxiety to rise significantly. I hoped and prayed that she would just come naturally without needing an induction.

I attempted to bring labor on naturally, but nothing worked, and I had to be induced. Part of my birth plan that was slightly different than my first was to have a doula help guide me through labor. I was unable to have my doula with me because of the restrictions from the pandemic. Thankfully I was able to have my husband unlike some neighboring hospitals who were not allowing any support people. I tried to see how long I could go without an epidural since I didn’t feel that I needed it with my first labor. I labored for a total of 8 hours. The contractions felt like they were faster, more intense because of using additional medications to progress labor. I ended up asking for an epidural, but the anesthesiologist could not place it. She poked at my spine five times without success. By the time she finally accessed the epidural space I was relieved emotionally, but physically felt the same. I had one leg that was a little numb, but it didn’t feel like the contractions were any more manageable. They said they could attempt to replace the epidural, but that was an unbearable pain I didn’t want to go through again.

About an hour after that horrifying experience, I was pushing. On April 9, 2020 I gave birth to my daughter, Luna Rose.  When she was 24 hours old, I was sitting at home on my couch with her. I was able to stay in the hospital for three days when I had my son. I had family members coming to visit with balloons and gifts. Where I delivered, birthing during the pandemic felt as if the hospital staff was shooing me out as soon as I was crowning. While I was thankful to be home, away from Covid & with my other child, I don’t know that I was fully prepared before I was discharged. I thought to myself it was just nerves. I’ve handled newborn stress before; I can do it again. The baby blues paired with sleep deprivation brought me back to the same place, but it felt more intense and overwhelming. After the first two weeks I thought these feelings would subside, but they didn’t.

I was crying nonstop. I was dreading getting out of bed when Luna would cry. The intrusive thoughts were becoming louder and louder. I knew something was not right. I told my husband one night that I felt he adjusted to becoming a parent of two better than I had. I felt that my children were better off being raised with him then they were with me.

I was planning on packing my bags and leaving to give them a better life. Through my tears, I planned out my escape and wanted to let him know that this was goodbye. My husband realized this was not normal and couldn’t attribute it to sleep deprivation anymore.

I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety. Being able to speak the words out loud was possibly the most difficult for me. We always want to be strong and power through, not expose our weakness. It may have been because of the stigma associated with postpartum depression and anxiety, or because it’s hard to be honest with yourself when you are having challenging moments in life. I finally had the courage to stand up and speak my truth but wanting help and finding the help were two different battles.

I spoke to my OBGYN, but I felt as if they didn’t know how to handle this behavior. I was referred to the only phone number my doctor had. It was a free service in my area, but they were inundated with clients because of the pandemic. I felt like an anonymous value on a list with hundreds of others.  There was such disconnect on Zoom; I couldn’t tell if my therapist even truly heard me. I wondered if other people were possibly going through this as well. A light bulb went off in my head. I wanted to help other people who were experiencing the same challenges as me.

This became my motivation for getting better. I was already a licensed therapist, but I wanted to help support people in their pregnancy and postpartum period. I began taking classes, trainings and working on becoming a state certified Perinatal Mood Disorder Specialist. I opened La Luna Counseling and Wellness in September 2020. My advice to those who are pregnant or have birthed recently is to be honest with yourself and get help when you know something isn’t feeling right. There are others out there who are going through the same thing as you. We can support each other.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Labor & Delivery RN – Perinatal Loss Certification (in progress)

Concord, CA

I’ve always been someone who finds joy in helping others. Especially with accomplishing goals that they aren’t able to do alone. After I had my twins via a scheduled cesarean section, I was left wanting more. Baby A was breech, so surgery was schedule for 38 weeks gestation. I ended up being sick with the flu and was contracting away so it was decided to deliver them at that, a week early. I always planned on having two children and felt complete in that, but I didn’t have the chance to experience birth the way I had hoped to. I personally wanted an unmedicated vaginal delivery.  

I had donated eggs back in my twenties, so I already had some knowledge about surrogacy. When my kids were three years old and after doing more research, I decided to start my own surrogate journey.

During my first surrogacy, I carried for a couple who have been through years of infertility with no success. This was their second child, and the mother had a traumatic complication after the first birth. Our relationship during this journey was strained. There was a tremendous amount of anxiety and control to the table because of her past experiences. It was very difficult for her to trust me. Thankfully, I had an easy pregnancy and an even easier delivery. I was induced at 41 weeks for post-dates. I accomplished my VBAC and birthed a healthy baby. After the delivery, we parted ways and have never spoken again.

Although I was able to have the birth experience I hoped for, I still was left wanting more from my surrogate experience. While trying to come to terms with the fact that I would never do it again slowly changed to me exploring for another surrogate couple. This time around, while looking I had very specific parameters of who I wanted to help conceive a baby. I was quickly matched with two wonderful men who lived only an hour away. This would be their first baby. When we met, we instantly had a connection and quickly became friends through the process.

This pregnancy was more difficult overall, probably because I was older and carrying a different baby. It was very different than my previous two pregnancies. Instead of having to be induced, like with my first surrogacy, I spontaneously went into labor when my water broke pretty close to my due date. When I arrived at the hospital, I was 4 cm dilated and strongly contracting. There was no reason to believe that my labor wouldn’t go quickly and easily. With the last delivery I decided to get an epidural at 6 cm. This time I was hoping once again that I might be able to go natural, expecting the delivery to be faster. After six painful IV sticks, I gave in and got the epidural so I could rest.

I progressed slowly. Eventually I ended up with an intrauterine monitor and a fetal scalp electrode. I was augmented with Pitocin to help labor continue moving forward. The baby didn’t seem to be doing as well and then suddenly, there was another issue.

I began having terrible pain across my midsection that radiated up to my left shoulder. Compared to my labor contractions from all my pregnancies, this felt very different. I talked with the nurses, the midwife and the doctor. I told them all that things didn’t feel right and just before this I was tolerating my contractions well. This constant soreness, it was more painful even in between the contractions. They checked for the baby’s position and looked for internal bleeding with the ultrasound multiple times. There was no evidence of things being amiss, so we kept proceeding with a vaginal birth.

Before I knew it I was complete and ready to push. I pushed with all of my strength, but nothing was happening. This was unsettling because with my previous vaginal delivery I only pushed for one hour. I felt like my body was out of sync with my efforts. Pushing didn’t feel effective and the baby wasn’t moving down. Almost four hours later, I still hadn’t delivered. The doctor asked the fathers if they can use a vacuum to help baby out. I deferred the decision-making over to them because I was in no state to make decisions. I could barely speak because I was in so much pain.

They attempted a vacuum delivery through several pushes, giving breaks in between to allow me to push without the vacuum. Although it is standard to do three pulls or three pop offs with the vacuum, five total pulls with pop offs were attempted. I knew this was wrong, but I was determined to get this baby out of me that I just kept going. Ultimately a c-section was called, and I was rolled into the OR. I was writhing in the bed and couldn’t even stay still enough to keep my legs on the table. It was decided that my epidural wasn’t working well enough to use it for the surgery, and I was put under general anesthesia for the delivery.

My wife and the two dads were sitting back in my hospital room with no idea how myself or the baby was doing. It turned out that when they got into my abdomen, I did indeed have a uterine rupture which was my gut feeling all along. The baby’s APGAR scores were very low, and he was sent over to Children’s Hospital to undergo cooling to preserve brain tissue and treat a very deep hematoma on his head. The dads didn’t want to see him until they knew that I was going to be okay. Luckily, we both survived and today that baby is three years old. He is beautiful, giant and speaks three different languages. Thank God he suffers no ill effects from the events of that day. 

Recovery from the uterine rupture was different. Overall, it took about the same amount of time, but my body felt different. What caused the rupture is also what saved my life. The scar from my previous c-section had poorly healed and had very little blood exchange between the edges of the scar. This caused it to open easily, but also kept my bleeding to a minimum. Which might have been why it was difficult to identify on ultrasound. It allowed me to keep my uterus, although I should not ever carry again.

I continue to be an advocate for trial of labor after cesarean and vaginal birth after cesarean, but I am much more cautious when listening to my moms and my own gut. I requested my hospital records after this day. I wanted to have an idea of what the providers were thinking when I was reporting my symptoms. From what I can gather, my symptoms were being rationalized and nobody seemed able to call out the elephant in the room. The parents of the baby boy told me they saw the fear on everyone’s faces when doing the vacuum. My gut feeling is that if one person would’ve spoken up, the events could have been very different.

This delivery occurred at a different hospital than I work at. After doing some research, I found out that the hospital does not do any sort of debrief of adverse events or outcomes. No legal action was taken against the hospital, but what I really wished was that a peer review and debrief could’ve been done. I wanted to know that perhaps the staff could have learned from this experience. Most of the time VBACs are done very safely and are successful. I was the exception to this rule.

I know this has changed my nursing perspective and I hope it has made me a better nurse. I’ve promised myself to listen to my patients and my gut when something just doesn’t seem right. Always follow your instincts and hopefully you have an advocate in the room that can speak up when you were unable to.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


New Graduate Labor & Delivery RN

Riverside, California

I graduated school and became a Labor and Delivery nurse during a global pandemic.

I finished my final semester of nursing school in June 2020. My last term was conducted on Zoom. Clinicals were cancelled, rescheduled and moved around daily. My instructors scrambled to help us finish our remaining clinical hours for graduation, but we did it.

I passed my NCLEX in August and applied to hospitals all over Southern California. Job searching as a new graduate nurse in this pandemic was not easy. Many new grad programs had been delayed or outright cancelled because of lack of resources and staffing. My heart was set on labor and delivery, but I applied to a wide range of nursing positions like a Covid-19 testing site just to get some experience. I had been networking with an OB hospital director, Jennifer, for almost a year at this point. We had met at an AWHONN meeting before the pandemic but had no openings in her unit at the time. In late September a spot opened up. I started a month later. If it wasn’t for my persistent communication with Jennifer, I don’t know if I would be working right now.

Being a new graduate in Labor & Delivery is challenging and wonderful all at the same time. It is so specialized that even what you learn in school is just skimming the surface. At times I can feel like I am unsure about what I am doing, but L&D is a team and I know I am never alone. I become gradually more independent from my preceptor with each shift. I appreciate her trusting my ability, but still being present in case I need help. I have a tremendous amount of support around me to help me learn, understand and grow.

My whole career (all three months of it) has been different than I ever imagined it to be. I remember seeing my first birth in nursing school. The laboring mom had her partner, her mom, and three aunts in the room for support. It was a celebration! Covid-19 only allows us to have one support person in the room. My patients deliver with masks on their faces. The first time a newborn looks at their parents, they are wearing masks. FaceTime is more present in the delivery and postpartum room than ever before. I’ve watched patients introduce their baby to their grandparents through the window. The waiting room is empty while I care for a crash cesarean. Extended family waits for updates on mom and baby outside, at the entrance of the hospital.

I understand why these practices are in place. Limiting how many people come in and out of the hospital is crucial to slowing the spread of Covid-19. I am seeing more and more Covid positive pregnant people. To me, the pandemic is very real.

The reality is that many of my patients have inadequate prenatal care due to the fear of going to the doctor’s office and contracting the virus. We perform rapid Covid tests for every admission to our unit. When a person tests positive, they become even more isolated as a result.

We do everything we can to make our patients feel safe and comfortable to give birth in our facility despite that they cannot see my face. I wear an N95 for my 12-hour shift. They may not be able to see the smile under my mask, but I know they can see my crinkled eyes, welled up with tears.

I make it my goal every shift to bond with my patients. I try to get to know them on a more personal level rather than simply a nurse-patient relationship. I want them to feel comfortable around me. Most of the time I am able to establish several inside jokes and we have little quirks to our friendship. While it is only a 12-hour shift, I know that time can leave a lasting impression on the persons birth experience. I want to be that extra support in the room. To help make up for the lack of family and friends they always envisioned would be at their birth. Just like my patients, I never imagined that it could be this way, but I still want to ensure it is a wonderful memory for years to come.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Founder of Nurture Birth – Birth Doula

Newport Beach, CA

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would build something that has become so impactful for the women in my community. I am the founder of Nurture Birth. It all began with the birth of my first child over ten years ago.

I didn’t know I had choices. I didn’t know I had a voice. I didn’t know that my thoughts or feelings mattered in the process. I did whatever I was told and was induced at 41 weeks for no reason other than “it’s time.”

I don’t remember my birth as being traumatic, but I also don’t feel that I was fully present. I felt disconnected. I know I was at my birth, but a disassociation took place which I’m sure contributed to my undiagnosed postpartum depression and anxiety. The lack of support we receive in the fourth trimester, I was determined to do things different when I found out I was pregnant with my second son.

I educated myself on all my options. I made a birth plan and discussed it with my provider. I took a Hypnobabies class and hired a birth doula. The experience was life changing and helped me on my path to recovery from my first birth. But the real healing didn’t happen until I brought my youngest son earth side at home. My journey was supported by midwives who are now dear friends and I am blessed to work alongside. It changed the way I view birth. It changed the way I view how this beautiful process changes women. How we live, learn and grow.

Fast forward eight years. After leaving an abusive marriage while I was a stay at home mom, I began my journey into birth work. I needed to support my family. I initially jumped back into my fashion career. I had been out of the business for so long. It was so fun in my twenties, but I couldn’t leave my babies now to do something that didn’t fill my soul. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what to do or where to begin. But I called my midwives from years before.

I said, “I want to be a doula”. They held space for me, supported me, and helped me get on my feet. I began working at a local birthing center which became an invaluable experience that I am forever grateful for. I was able to learn from the best. Under their wings I was a part of 35 births during my first year. 

After 106 births, (yes, I count each one) my own doula business was expanding so fast that I was unable to keep up. I had to leave the place that put me on this trajectory and focus solely on my own work. I cried on the phone with my mentor telling her how heartbroken I was to leave, but I had to grow. I was being called to do more.

I felt entirely supported to continue to impact the lives of those around me, but with this leap I was able to delve deep into changing the way we doula. How we hold space for people during this transformative time. On recovering from past trauma before entering birth. On the true healing that birth can bring. I am forever grateful to be able to share this sacred time with my clients. 

Today I am a birth doula, a birth assistant, an energy worker and run a doula mentorship program. I have been able to expand Nurture Birth from one doula to bringing on multiple birth doulas, as well as postpartum doulas, newborn care specialists, and an IBCLC. We have grown into a collective group of women passionate about comprehensive care, holding space for women during pregnancy, birth, postpartum and beyond. 

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Birth and Postpartum Doula – Former Preschool Teacher – Former Nanny

Lomita, California

Some people know what they want to be and have as a career from the time they are young. For me, figuring out my life’s calling wasn’t so apparent.

I struggled to find what really set my soul on fire. Being an inherently passionate person, I knew I wouldn’t truly thrive until I found something authentic and that I innately loved doing. My jobs usually centered around caring for children and working with families because I love human connection. For many years I was an infant and preschool teacher, a nanny, a children’s gymnastics instructor.

I felt fortunate for not only the children I had the opportunity to teach and watch grow, but for the variety of families I met and was able to build meaningful relationships with. Each family was unique and different from the other. Each with their own daily routines, needs, cultures and beliefs. While all of these jobs brought me happiness, I didn’t feel completely fulfilled. Something was still missing.

Fast forward to many years later, I became pregnant with my son. Unfortunately, my birth experience was full of a uncompassionate hospital staff. I was 41 2/7 days with no cervical dilation and no effacement. I was scheduled to be induced the next day at 41 3/7. When I arrived to be induced, I was hooked up to the fetal heart monitor. I was told I was having contractions even though I could not feel what was happening. At that time I was not familiar with the labor or process of birth. Not like I am now. I sometimes wonder if I was actually in the very early stages of labor. After an ultrasound and pelvic exam, I was told my son was in the range of 10 pounds. The physician came into my room and recommended scheduling a cesarean section for the next morning. She was felt that because of his size, if I was induced it would ultimately end in surgery. I trusted her opinion, prepared myself and came back for my c-section the next morning.

After I checked in, I was looking over my new birth plan that I had spent hours researching and putting together the night before. Even though I understood why a cesarean was being recommended, I knew still had options to make it my own and I optimistic that they would be acknowledged. When I began to show it to the nurse I was told, “the doctor will do whatever is safe and best for you and the baby. You don’t need that”. The birth plan never left my hand. At that moment, I was in disbelief. I didn’t feel adequate enough to respond to her.

Before being brought into the operating room, I asked if it was possible to use the restroom. The same nurse rolled her eyes and told me that I was getting a catheter. To stop wasting time. That they were on a schedule. Again, I was taken back. I listened to her, got on the gurney and was wheeled into the OR. It was Super Bowl weekend and the anesthesiologist kept talking about how he had a plane and sushi waiting for him. When I attempted to express concerns in the OR, the anesthesiologist reminded me that I was in his operating room and things were going to go his way.

My son was born at a healthy, 8 lbs 9 oz. Big, but not as big as he was estimated to be.

I realized that almost every person who is part of your birth, you will remember, good and bad. Looking back now, I thought I would know how to navigate childbirth because of my decade’s worth of childcare experience and education. But I didn’t know how to advocate for myself. I had no preparation for the birthing process.

Many years later still trying to find my groove in life, I took an online career assessment test to help guide me. The results had a few options. A doula was listed as one. I vaguely remember hearing the word doula in the past but didn’t know what a doula purpose was. After independently researching and educating myself, I was intrigued. I started watching countless videos, reading blogs, doula and birthing books. I couldn’t believe a career like this existed. I immediately signed up to attend doula training. After the workshop, I left on cloud nine. I was completely hooked. I couldn’t wait to dive into this whole new world.

While attending my first birth as a doula, I had a moment. A flash when I realized everything I had done and everything I had been through led me to becoming a doula. My work with families and their children, my birth experience. I will never forget how proud I was watching my first client confidently hand over her birth plan we had prepared together and the medical staff who respected her wishes. I watched her and helped guide her in achieving her ideal birth experience.

Just like all of the families I have worked with over the years, each birth is unique and different from the other. Each with its own set of needs, vibes, and environment. I am here to support each one of them.

While I still feel pretty fresh on my doula journey, I cannot say how good it feels to be in this place now. A place where I have found my calling. I love every single aspect of what this doula work entails. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with those who are birthing and share such an intimate, beautiful and life changing experience with them.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Co-Founder of The VBAC Link – Birth Doula

Salt Lake City, Utah

In 2011, I delivered our first baby girl via Cesarean. After twelve hours of labor and getting to 3 cm dilated, I was told that I needed to go to the OR for “failure to progress.” I was really sad but trusted in my provider that a cesarean was needed.

We became pregnant again in 2013 and I wanted to have a VBAC. My same provider said that he was supportive and seemed to be on board. At 36 weeks I had a weird feeling when I met with him but was too scared to switch or do anything about it. March 2014, my water broke just like it did the first time and after eighteen hours my body had not yet kicked into labor. My provider came in and said that it had been long enough. Even though the baby and I were not showing any signs of distress or infection, the chances of infection were high and we needed to go to the OR. Once again heartbroken, I agreed and walked down to the OR.

When we found out we were pregnant again in 2015, I knew from the get go what I wanted for this pregnancy and birth. I felt most everyone would be skeptical of my choices to go for an unmedicated VBA2C and at times, I can admit I was nervous. I gathered all my records from Lainey’s and Lyla’s births and took them with me to each Doctor. I read them over and over again myself trying to catch any REAL reason for my last two cesareans. I was told by most that they felt it was safe for me to have a VBA2C. A few said they didn’t believe I ever really had a chance to labor and I just didn’t find anything I felt really should make it so I couldn’t try. I found an amazing provider (Dr. Sean Edmunds) who was supportive and I felt very comfortable with him. But something still just didn’t feel right to me about birthing in a hospital.

After meeting with a midwife that I attended a birth with over the holidays something told me that’s where I needed to be. It took some prayers and lots of time, but at 24 weeks pregnant we made the final decision that I was not going to birth at a hospital. Even with my history. I didn’t share this information with people because it was something my husband and I felt was right. I was worried that I may get negative questioning about it and I didn’t think I could really take any of that in. Anyway, I started seeing a midwife who I absolutely adore at 24 weeks. After meeting with Danielle Demeter I knew that she was going to do everything in her power to help me achieve this goal. I hired a team of doulas (yes multiple doulas) who I knew would be exactly what we needed in this birth. My husband, Ric, was so supportive; he thought I was crazy but he supported me all along.

Fast forward to 40 weeks and 4/7 days. He was four days overdue, but I was very content being pregnant; I was in no hurry to get him out. The pregnancy was already different in a positive way. No kidney stones, very little heartburn, chiro visits, special herbs were taken, I was able to stay active, etc. I began getting anxious for the day to come.

June 28th I had this HUGE burst of energy and I couldn’t understand where it came from; it was a great day playing with the kids, hanging out with friends, and just enjoying being pregnant. June 29th I woke up at 3:00 am miserably tired but wide awake for some reason. I took a bath, played on my phone, did all these things to make me tired and nothing worked.When I was in the bath I had all the lights off except for my phone flash light. I looked down into the tub and noticed little pieces of my mucous plug. I finished the bath and got out. I finally fell asleep at 7:00 am and woke up an hour later ready to be a mom for the day.

All day I felt nauseous and sluggish. I didn’t know what my deal was. I continued to see mucus throughout the day. Some of it was pink tinged. I was excited since this was the first sign that something was happening inside. I knew it could be days still so I didn’t get my hopes up. We went to bed around 11:30 pm and I woke up to a powerful Braxton hicks contraction at about 1:00 am. I was able to go right back to sleep but kept being woken up by these “powerful” contractions every 10-12 minutes.Finally at 2:30 am I realized these were not Braxton Hicks contractions, they were real contractions. I was in awe. I kept falling asleep but an hour later something changed. Suddenly the pressure of the contraction was making it way too hard to lay, let alone sleep. I got up and started walking around, pacing. I decided that I wanted to maybe get an idea of how long they were lasting and how far apart they were. They were 45-60 seconds long and 4-5 minutes apart. I was so excited. This had never happened to me before. I couldn’t believe I was feeling contractions.

I kept it to myself and just labored on alone in baby boy’s room and the bathroom, really anywhere I could get comfortable. I was feeling them up front but also had a strong pressure very low in the rectum area. Around 6:00 am things had picked up a little and I felt a small leak. I believed my water had broken. This was a fear of labor I had all along, because it’s what happened with the girls. I kept going but things started to slow way down. I was bummed. I showered and got ready and only had a few contractions. After Ric went to work and things started picking back up. I had this unreal pressure in my bottom that never went away and intensified when I had a contraction. Ric came home later that morning and drove me up to Park City to meet with my chiro and my midwife as I already had my normal weekly visit scheduled.

I was checked and was told I was 1 cm dilate and 90% effaced. I was excited but also a little sad because I felt like I worked so hard all morning and to only be 1cm. But we went home and I kept on going. One of my beautiful doulas, Robynne Larsen Carter, and cousin/sis/doula Hillary came over and did some Rebozo stuff and essential oils on me. We had realized that baby boy was posterior which made sense with how things were going. That evening things had started picking back up a little and Ric and I met my midwife and chiro at the birth center to get checked. I was told I was 2 cm dilated at that time. We decided that a foley bulb would be something to try and help me get to 4 or 5cm. It gave me some real motivation. We got home and not even 10 minutes later the foley popped and came out. I knew that it happened for a reason. I was meant to do this on my own, I was meant to figure out what my body and baby needed to get him out.

Ric went to sleep around 3:00 am after my adorable doula Hillary came back to take over. She held me, tickled my back and helped me cope through all of the contractions. At daybreak, we took a walk. I suddenly had this energy again and I didn’t know where it came from. I was so exhausted. On the walk the contractions pretty much stopped again. Then finally something changed. I started really feeling the contractions; they were way more painful and consistent. I wrote my team and we decided to meet at the birth center at 9:00 am to assess things and come up with a game plan.

My mom took the girls and we drove over to see what the plan would be. I was checked and I was 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced and baby was +2/3 station! Meaning LOW!!! But he was still posterior. Which explained my rectal pressure I was still having. She said, “well I think we are good to go upstairs, labor and have a baby.” I couldn’t believe my ears!!!!! I kept laboring on and on, changing positions, eating, drinking, doing everything I could do to get comfortable.

Hours later I was checked again and I was 6 cm dilated. I was starting to doubt myself a little even though I’d never been past 6 cm before; I was feeling like I couldn’t cope much longer. Ric, Danielle, and all my doulas kept reminding me that I was doing it and it would be okay. As the day went on I got more and more tired. I just wanted a break but there was not going to be a break until he was here and I knew that. We needed this baby to flip anterior.

Around 5:00pm or so we did an NST on him and I got all worried. Everyone seemed to be doing things around me, but not really telling me what was happening. I looked at Ric, started to cry and told him I was scared. He looked me right in the eye and said, “I’M NOT SCARED! It’s going to be OKAY!” Right then I gathered this new confidence, remembered his words and sat there straddling the toilet waiting to see what was going to happen. Baby looked great on the monitor and then I suddenly had an urge to push. I didn’t know if I should be pushing so Danielle checked me. She didn’t really say much and just walked away. I was so confused. She knew that she couldn’t tell me where I was at. I was obsessed and getting way into my head the entire day. Not even five minutes later, she walked in and started putting chux pads all over the floor. I looked at one of my doulas and said, “What is she doing? I’m confused.” Then she brought in a squatting stool.

My eyes apparently opened wide; I knew what that meant but I didn’t think I could be ready. I turned to my doula again and said, “what is she doing?” And she said, “getting ready, I think it’s time to have a baby.” Danielle invited me over to the stool and set Ric up behind me. She checked me again and thought I was about 9 cm dilated, then said I was more like 7 cm dilated, but could stretch me to 9 cm. She told me to hold on through the next contraction and then I was COMPLETE!!!! Words I always wanted to hear but never did.

She looked at me and said, “your baby is coming, it’s time to push!” I was so ready! Contractions felt good now and almost hard to recognize. The next contraction I pushed three times. I don’t feel like I ever held my breath, I just ROARED like a lion. She said, “Meagan feel your baby, he is right there!” I reached down and could feel his head!!!!!! This was happening! I looked all around me and saw the excitement on all my doulas’ faces and I got a rush of adrenaline. She said, “okay, next contraction, push again.” I took a deep breath and told myself you CAN do this! You’re strong! I pushed and felt an incredible amount of pressure. I was told not to push, hold right there. So I took a deep breath and just held still as best I could. She told me to give her some grunts. I did two and I then one more small push and she said, “Meagan, GRAB YOUR BABY!!!” I reached down, felt his head and made my way down to his shoulders where I could grab him. I pulled him out and lifted him up on my chest! I couldn’t believe it!!!

Ric held me and we looked down at our baby boy. I looked all around the room and everyone was crying, I couldn’t believe what just happened. I did it, I actually did it! I pushed him out in 7 minutes. I kept saying, “YOU GUYS!!!! I DID IT!!!! YOU GUYS!!!! I DID IT!!!!” I held him and held him and he just chilled. He didn’t cry, he just had his hands open wide and looked around. I rubbed him and he started crying, the emotions were overbearing. After 38 1/2 hours of hard labor, our sweet 6 lb 15 oz baby was here safe in our arms. Ric told me he was so proud of me and held me tight as we cried.

Later on I was told I had no lacerations and was ready to head into the bedroom whenever I wanted. We walked in 25-30 minutes later and he started nursing right away. It was amazing! I am so grateful for the constant reassurance. Although I questioned myself many times, I had Ric and my team there to remind me I was strong and I could do it!!!!


I don’t know if the shock and excitement will ever wear off, but as of right now I just want to share my story with everyone and talk about that moment over and over again. It was the most incredible experience. I want to tell the mommas who may be preparing for any VBAC to please believe in yourself. Study, do your research, talk with multiple doctors and go with your gut. Good luck to any VBAC mommas out there!

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Certified Labor Doula – Placenta Preparation Specialist

Hewitt, New Jersey

I have always been intrigued by the capability of a woman’s body and the beauty behind creating life. I was twenty-four years old when we started to try conceiving. It was right after we got married and bought a house that we decided we were ready to start a family. We tried for months and were starting to consider making an appointment with a fertility doctor. We didn’t know what to expect. Was it my husband or was it me? Trying to pinpoint a reason added so much more unwanted stress. Exactly a year after beginning our journey, I became pregnant with my first son. Both of my pregnancies, I knew I wanted to be cared for by a Midwife. I wanted my questions to be heard and answered. I felt as though some OBGYN’s in my area were not giving that same care. My pregnancy was straight forward and uneventful. There is a long history of genetic problems in my family that resulted in genetic counseling and some extra anatomy ultrasounds. My first anatomy scan at 20 weeks they visualized a hole in Liam’s heart that had not closed. They didn’t seem concerned but instructed us to come back at 32 weeks to see if it had fused together, which it did. That was the last time we would see him before he was born. The hospital that I delivered at offered a wide range of holistic coping techniques and hands-on support. I met with a doula provided by the hospital to create a birth plan and go over all types of options. This grew my curiosity about birth work.

With your first pregnancy any little ache or pain you think, “well is this it?” I felt that for a whole month. I sat a 4cm and 75% effacement starting at 36 weeks. We all expected I would go early. Due to my contractions, I had a stress test done thinking I was in early labor. I had ferocious acid reflux for the majority of the pregnancy, especially towards the end. At 39 weeks I ended up throwing up so much bile that the irritation caused bleeding. I ended up in L&D for extreme dehydration, reduced fetal movement and tearing the lining in my esophagus. Eight bags of IV bags fluid and overnight observation later, I was sent home.

I went into labor at 0200 on his due date. It was very nerve racking to have such an advanced dilation for my first. I didn’t know what to expect, let alone feel. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I didn’t have any family support nearby. My husband and I finally went to the hospital around 0730. My cervical exam showed that I was 5cm dilated. I was having back labor from his position being sunny side up (occiput posterior) and it was not easy. I decided to get an epidural. I had to wait for almost 4 hours to get an anesthesiologist to place it. The first was called to an emergency cesarean, the next anesthesiologist on-call ended up being in another emergency. During this period of time, I decided to try everything to help relieve the pain. I spent time on a birthing ball, I took a shower and moved while I could. I couldn’t rest enough to sleep, and I was extremely anxious. I asked the nurse to stay with me and chart in the room. She offered to massage my hands using some lavender essential oils on a cotton ball to help calm my nerves. That selfless act meant the world to me. After my epidural placement I was able to rest and I wasn’t checked for hours. My night shift nurse brought tray table to put between my legs because there were no peanut balls available. I was on my side with one leg up on the tray table to keep my hips open and give him enough room to rotate from an OP position. Well, it that position got me to complete and after an hour of pushing he was born, still sunny side up at 7 lbs. 7 oz and 20 ¾.

My second baby, Roan was born during the rise of COVID-19. We were pregnant before the threat of a pandemic was even a thought in our minds. In February I went on maternity leave a month before the virus shut down most everything. We had heard our surrounding states were not allowing support people to be present with women in labor. My mother was to fly up a week before my due date to help us with Liam while in the hospital. But we ended up being in a hot spot and she is a breast cancer survivor. We decided to air on the side of caution, and it would be best for everyone if she stayed home. None of us thought it would get as bad as it did, as most probably thought. I am thankful both my husband and son were able to attend every appointment but was devastated that my son couldn’t meet his brother after delivery in the hospital. It is already a stressful time bringing a life into this world but another level of stress when you have a global pandemic knocking at your door.

While I was pregnant with Roan, I wound up having extremely itchy skin. Worse than having chicken pox. On my scalp, my hands, my feet, Basically everywhere. Once it started it wouldn’t stop and it kept me up all night. I thought it was our hard water or I developed an allergy to my shampoo. I mentioned it to my midwife, and she suggested checking labs for ICP (Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy). My liver and the level of bile salts in my blood were checked weekly and they always came back borderline.

At 39 weeks and 1/7 I went to L&D for excruciating pain. A pain that I had on and off during the pregnancy, on the side of my torso. I thought something was wrong. It was Saint Patrick’s Day and he day before I had a membrane sweep at 1cm and 80% effaced. When I arrived to L&D I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and was kept for observation. Because I presented with the unusual pain and my history of reflux, I was given the option for an induction. That was something I was against. I never wanted to unless it was medically necessary, but I ended up agreeing to it in the end. I maxed out on the IV Pitocin and still was not moving from 3cm dilated. I had AROM at about 1900 that day, still at 3cm and an epidural. At about 2030 I was 5cm dilated and he was born at 2149, within 10 min of calling the Midwife. Roan was 7 lbs. 14 oz and 21”. My Midwife delivered both of my babies and I am so grateful for that.

I know birth plans change, things do not end up as expected and unfortunately, things can go wrong. The thing I worried about the most was not having someone who knew about me and my babies from conception until birth. Reflecting on both pregnancies, they were so different. Both might have had things that I didn’t expect or want, but in the end gave me the best gifts life has to offer.

I believe with Roan I was meant to be induced. If he went to his EDD we would have been smack in the middle of a COVID hot spot. When I delivered, the hospital had 0 positive cases. The following week on my due date, two hundred positive cases. My husband was able to attend my delivery, we did not have to wear masks, simply asked a series of questions upon entry.

I felt like I went in with things still being fairly normal and coming out to a complete state shut down. The day we got discharged, my husband and I were both furloughed. Found out via a letter in the mail. We ran into challenges with accessing diapers, wipes, formula, toilet paper and paper towels. My milk had not come in when we left the hospital and it made things uneasy for us. We did not know if we would be able to provide the next feeding or not. Thankfully I was set up for success with the help of the lactation consultants at the hospital and the calls from them after I left, my milk came in strong. After this I could not imagine that I was done with babies, I want to help others. I needed to help others achieve the birth they wanted with confidence in being heard and in control.

The pandemic has affected birthing families greatly and supporting them during this vulnerable time is paramount. Many have chosen to take precautions to keep extended family safe & many have not had the chance to meet the newest additions in person yet. Some of mine still haven’t. I wanted to be there for birthers who may not have any other support system. I wanted to help them find the courage to handle anything that arose. I can say I found my calling, something that I am passionate about, that inspires me. Like the women that cared for me during my deliveries. The thing that makes me feel empowered and helping expecting families get their voice. To help them see their light, their strengths, and their brightness.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 


Occupational Therapist Registered/Licensed – Infant Developmental Specialist – MNRI Core-In-Training

Lake Worth, Florida

Parker was born late preterm at 35 weeks and 6 days via spontaneous birth.  He was average weight for gestational age, weighing 5lb 4oz and 19 inches long.  Thankfully he was healthy and did not require a stay in the NICU during our hospitalization.  However, his journey was traumatic starting with the 2-day stay I had in the hospital at 31 weeks due to preterm labor.  I had high levels of stress associated with the possibility of having a premature baby.  I was given multiple medications to stop preterm labor including IV Magnesium and Terbutaline injections (which later I found out had a black box warning by the FDA in 2011 and research in 2014 indicated associated risks for developmental disorders with infants).  Luckily my preterm labor had subsided enough to be discharged from hospital where I remained on bed rest for another 5 weeks on daily Procardia.  I had a precipitous (<3 hours) labor, which started with a slow leak and then full-blown labor after my water spontaneously broke in triage.  The culmination of trauma ended with delivery when he needed vacuum extraction assistance due to having terminal decelerations in his heart rate and my inability to push effectively from heightened levels of stress.

Parker was lethargic his first month of life which contributed to an undocumented diagnosis of failure to thrive. I was determined to continue to give him a diet of exclusive breast milk knowing all the benefits for his brain and immune development.  I nursed, pumped, and bottle fed averaging around 16 feedings a day with virtually no sleep. But it worked!  He finally gained weight and began reaching his growth curve around 6 months old.

However, my son’s weight gain was not my biggest concern. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I had concerns very early on (around two months) that were not visualized by his pediatrician. Parker would startle easily, his hands and feet were almost always sweaty, his hands were clenched with his thumbs inside his palms, he looked only to right side, never brought his left hand to his mouth, and his head was misshapen. 

I was fortunate to have taken an introduction class (Postural and Dynamic Primary Reflex Integration) through the SMEI (Svetlana Masgutova Educational Institute) that helped me recognize several primary reflexes that had improperly developed in early infancy.  Since I did not have much training in the application of the MNRI method (Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration) at that time, I sought help in all directions.  Parker initiated craniosacral therapy at four months old and immediately we started noticing changes.  He started bringing his left hand to his mouth, his head shape started to improve, and he started smiling more. While we were ecstatic with these improvements, we noticed his motor milestones and social skills were still delayed.  At nine months old he was not attempting to crawl or pull up to a standing position, had very weak head control with his head falling back when pulled to sitting position or on the swing, and he only rolled to one side.  He was also fearful of most everything and he barely laughed. 

We wanted the very best for Parker, so we took him to the best.  He received a private primary reflex integration assessment by Dr. Masgutova, creator of MNRI program. Dr. Masgutova indicated that Parker had many primary reflexes that were dysfunctional and some pathological which were contributing to his motor, speech, and social delays. She recommended an intense home program which involved integration exercises for 26 primary reflexes that were improperly developed.

Grateful that I had taken some introductory classes, I was able to perform most of the priority exercises with him myself. The rest were done with a physical therapist who was also trained in the MNRI method. Parker learned to crawl within one week of beginning his therapy and the rest of the missed milestones came soon after with him learning to walk by thirteen months old.  Parker continued physical therapy with primary reflex integration focus due to continued difficulties with balance, core strength, weakness and overall delayed gross motor skills until he was four years old.  During this time, we noticed our son also had difficulties going to new places, was very shy and deliberately avoided getting messy during activities.

Fast forward to today.  Parker is now seven years old in a typical 2nd grade class. He makes friends wherever he goes, loves to play outside (especially in the dirt) and is racing BMX competitively.   

I believe 100% that Parker’s success is due to the early intervention he received starting in infancy with consistent MNRI intervention.  I often think what Parker would have been like if I hadn’t recognized these early signs and he didn’t receive therapy. Based on my experience, I think he would have had lifelong developmental delays and possibly be on the autism spectrum. 

My son is a success story. I share this because I want other families to have success stories too. My recommendation is to trust your gut, look for these early red flags, and seek early intervention before delays are identified. 

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Survivor – Harm Reduction Advocate – Student Doula

Mulberry, Florida

Trigger Warning: opiate use disorder. This post contains a very real, very personal story about medication assisted treatment during pregnancy. Ann believes Real Life Birth Workers is a safe place to share her story. This is a place for connection and support. Please be respectful and empathetic to her journey.

Both of my children were born along my path to recovery from Opiate Use Disorder (OUD), but long before they came, I had been in some sort of healing phase or another. I faced some traumatic events in my childhood. At age sixteen I began to cope in unhealthy ways, including the use of heroin. I was in and out of detoxes, outpatient programs and residential treatment facilities until I pursued my own recovery at eighteen. I did this with the support of a medication called Methadone, which is a form of Medication Assisted Treatment. 

I became pregnant two months after. Initially, I was afraid of being pregnant on MAT (not knowing how it could affect my baby) until I met with my clinic doctor. He told me that quitting then would pose a high risk of miscarriage, that untreated OUD can be fatal to both mother and the unborn baby and that I was already prescribed the “gold standard” of treatment. In fact, pregnant women living with OUD have been treated with Methadone since the 1970’s and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have recognized it as the standard of care since 1998. At nineteen years old, my first year of OUD recovery, my daughter was born on MAT. The birth of my son happened in the part of my recovery which I refer to as long-term recovery, years after ending my life-saving treatment. Both of their births inevitably led to hearing my calling to serve others who have been through similar experiences to me.

The pregnancy, birth and postpartum time of my daughter opened my eyes to how much needed to be done to improve care and decrease bias for people living with or a history of trauma and OUD. In retrospect my birth team and I were wildly misinformed about birthing on MAT. On top of that, stigma was an unwelcome guest in the delivery room. There was a distinct moment during my induction when it became clear. A nurse offered and gave me an IV pain medication called Stadol to ease the discomfort of the increase in Pitocin. I had never heard of it before then, but in that moment anything to help sounded like a great idea. Instantly an overwhelming pain came over me and I began uncontrollably shaking, sweating and crying. The only way I can describe how I felt was like I was ignited and burning alive. When a contraction came over me, it felt like I was drowning. After the first contraction I told the nurse “I’m in more pain!” She responded with, “stop trying to get more pain medication.” I was hurt, confused and my calls for help were blatantly rejected. I began screaming while another suffocating wave of pain came over me. This time the nurses came to put an oxygen mask on my face. I didn’t know at the time, (I’m not sure the hospital staff knew either) but I later discovered that Stadol works against Methadone. It had thrown me into an acute withdrawal phase. I felt like I was unheard and unseen. I wasn’t able to accurately describe the pain because how overwhelming it was. I assume, because of my history of previous drug use, my pain was being overlooked and expected that it wouldn’t be able to be managed. was told to be quiet because they could hear me down the hall and other laboring moms weren’t as loud as me. I knew birth was going to be the hardest thing I had ever done, but I didn’t anticipate this type of suffering. To add insult to injury, I was very surprised to find that when the anesthesiologist finally did come to place my epidural, the numb sensation brought on another unexpected dimension to my experience. An amplified loss of my physical autonomy. A feeling that was all too familiar from my childhood which caused my trauma. 

My baby girl was born assisted with a vacuum. There was a mandatory observation period where she had to remain in the hospital. During that time she had to be scored at regular intervals using then what was called the COW scale to determine if she was showing any signs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. They tested her meconium for drugs without my knowledge or consent, and a social worker became briefly involved. She did not require treatment for NAS and the drug tests came back favorably. I tried to accept what happened. I told myself to be thankful that it was me who went through the birth trauma “instead” of my baby going through NAS. But the reality is that no one chooses to have a traumatic birth. Women treated with Methadone or Bupenorphine have infants with lower risk, less severe, and less treatment time of NAS. 

The subsequent birth of my son made me realize that birth workers can make a real impact for people who are or have been in my shoes. I knew I wanted a different experience this time. I set the intention to surround myself with a low intervention birth team. 32 weeks into my pregnancy my fiancé, daughter and I moved to Washington after accepting a new job. We explored alternative options in maternity care. I checked out a few books at the library to do some research and fell in love with Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. I figured that midwives in a birth center would align with my goals so I found and established care with a group of midwives right away. On day one, they encouraged me to tour their birth center and pick a room that I wanted to have my baby in. We met in that room every time we had an appointment and had meaningful conversations in spans of time that went far beyond a standard OB visit. During his birth I felt their circle of support as they encouraged me to lead the way and held the space for me to do so. The experience was profound simply by being heard, seen, safe, and supported. A moment I could finally “reclaim” my autonomy once again and begin to heal in a different way. It was then I heard my calling to serve others by becoming a birth worker, too.

I began my Doula & Trauma Informed Professional training in 2019 and I’m coming up on year thirteen in recovery from OUD. I home-school my two kiddos who are now five and eleven. The process of doing this inner-work and becoming certified has not been an easy one for me, but it’s also been a time that I have learned quite a lot from and have come to cherish. I’m actually kind of thankful that I was struggling. I posted about needing help on a Doula group and ended up being connected to a women run support group for Moms on MAT by a fellow Doula. It was there I found my tribe I didn’t know I was looking for. Thankfully my training organization has been so supportive of doing the work in my own way and at my own pace. I think because I’ll be a more informed birth worker by the end of it. I have also been able witness some of the most amazing birth stories of overcoming strength and perseverance from my peers during this time. 

Of course I am eager to become certified, but I also intend to always be a student of trauma, addiction and birth. I look forward to serving my clients in meaningful ways along their own unique birth journeys. I know how needed it is to be able to turn to the support of someone who needs no convincing that you are the best person to make decisions for you and your baby, someone who already knows that your potential is limitless.

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

Don’t miss our weekly story. Subscribe below to get new stories & advice delivered directly to your inbox.


Still Birth Day Certified Doula

Elkhorn, Iowa

My journey into doula work started with my first birth. I come from a long line of natural birthers. My mother, grandmother and great grandmother all had unmedicated, vaginal births. So when I got pregnant, I thought it would go the same for me. It was in my blood, right? I researched about all kinds of birth, I took a birth class and made a natural birth plan.

At 38 weeks, we discovered that my baby was breech. I cried in the doctor’s office because it felt like my birth plan went out the window. I was terrified of having surgery. I asked my doctor about all of my options because I wanted to do everything I could to avoid a cesarean. He said they could try an external cephalic version the following week but if it didn’t work, they would have to do the cesarean immediately after. I spent the week at the chiropractor and using Spinning Babies exercises to change baby’s position, but none of it worked.

The day of my ECV had arrived. As they tried to flip my daughter around, her heart rate dropped. I remember how everyone held their breath in the OR waiting for her heart rate to return to baseline, but they determined a STAT c-section was necessary. I was able to get skin to skin with her in while in the OR, but I was in shock from the whole experience. One minute I was pregnant and the next I was handed a baby. I felt so disconnected from it all.

This led me into a deep postpartum depression. I was so full of anguish over my birth and how people kept telling me “once a c-section, always a c-section”. I was fed up with the lack of support for the birth trauma I went through and the feelings I associated with it.  This is what led me to pursuing doula work.

I live in a pretty rural area, but found an agency of doulas in the city about an hour away. I didn’t care that I had to drive a long way, I needed to become a doula. I felt this calling. I began training and shadowed another doula for a birth. She was a first time mom who had a fast, unmedicated labor. I stood in the corner of the room, wide-eyed. I watched how the doula comforted her. I had heard so many stories, seen so many birth videos, but I had never seen it happen in real life. It was amazing! I continued doula work with the agency for about a year until one day the owners up and left. No one knew what happened. It broke my heart. The other doulas and myself had become like family. It was an all-around hard time. I had also been struggling physically with abdominal pain that was determined to be related to scar tissue from my cesarean. I sought out physical therapy and was able to get some relief from putting in the work. After all of this, I knew that I still wanted to be a doula so I chose to become certified through Still Birth Day. Learning about the bereavement aspect of birth was life-changing.

While I was working on getting my certification I was simultaneously working on trying to reverse my local hospital’s VBAC ban. I called the hospital, left them reviews and wrote a letter asking to reconsider changing their policies. After two years of not giving up, they listened!

I found myself pregnant again and it seemed like things were going to work in my favor. It had been five years since my first cesarean. I felt like I had a good team lined up for my birth and everyone was incredibly supportive. Halfway through my pregnancy, the pandemic hit and there was a lot of stress. My last client before my own birth was my best friend. Luckily being in a rural hospital, they still recognized doulas as essential members of the birth team. Despite all the craziness involved in the pandemic, my friend had a positive, natural birth experience. We had the same care provider so it was nice to see him in action. What a gift it was to be a part of her birth story, I couldn’t wait for mine.

You know how it is with the best laid plans. Not long after, I found out that this baby was also breech at 34 weeks. My doctor had mentioned that he was trained in vaginal breech birth, but it was against the hospital’s policy. I asked him what he would do if I refused the cesarean? He said, “well I wouldn’t be mad. It’s your right.” I wanted to try another ECV first. I felt that it would work this time around since we found out earlier than the previous time. My doctor did not waste any time setting up the procedure with someone who had a high success rate. He told me again, that if it wasn’t successful that he would have to recommend scheduling a c-section. That’s when I flat out told him “I am not scheduling a c-section.” I was determined to do everything in my power to avoid it.

Once again, I found myself walking in for an ECV and once again it failed. It felt like everything was playing out in the exact same way. I didn’t have to have an urgent surgery this time, but I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy scared, crying and not enjoying it at all because of what was looming over my head. I tried all of the things to flip him around. And I mean everything! I researched vaginal breech birth and searched for a provider who was willing to take on a VBAC breech. It was met with a bunch of “absolutely not(s)”. But then I got a call back from someone who was willing to discuss it with me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to that appointment.

A couple of days later I woke up feeling very off. My doctor wanted an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid level since they were on the lower side at my ECV procedure. I had been having contractions for days already, but this particular day the contractions seemed more regular. I went about my day trying to ignore them. After the ultrasound, I stopped in at the chiropractor and then went to work. By the time the day was over, I felt like I couldn’t focus. The contractions were getting closer together. My husband was going to get some food while I jumped in the tub to try to calm things down. My contractions became stronger. I got out of the bath, scarfed down my sandwich and told my husband we needed to head to the hospital because my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. There were so many emotions coming over me. I was excited that my body went into labor on its own but scared because I knew my baby was breech. I still did not want a cesarean. My doula was coaching me through contractions over the phone on the drive to the hospital. It was so hard to breathe through them!

When we got to the hospital, the nurse checked my cervix and said I was 1cm dilated but my contractions were coming consistently every four to five minutes. I cursed through them for hours. I screamed at my husband to turn off the music and stop touching me when they got stronger and closer together. The nurse and physician thought I was only having uterine irritability and they were probably going to send me home. However, when she saw that I was acting like I was in active labor she decided to switch out the contraction monitor. She seemed to be alarmed when the new monitor showed I was having contractions every two minutes. I was checked again, but I was only about 1 to 2 cm dilated. I continued laboring like this for hours. At one point I felt like I was going mad and I screamed at my contractions “go away!” I just knew that I wasn’t making any progress and all of my efforts in getting this baby out naturally were in vain. Eventually my water broke and my contractions did not let up. I reluctantly pushed the call light because I knew it was time to get this baby out. My doctor came in as I was on the floor next to the bed having another contraction. He waited patiently for it to be over before recommending the c-section again for safety reasons. All I could do was stare at him as I went back and forth in my head on what to do. I had labored for 24 hours and I was too exhausted to continue. I consented to one more exam after all that time. No cervical change. I cried in frustration. Why wouldn’t my body deliver this baby? I told them I was ready to have the cesarean, but made it very clear of the things I wanted to happen. I handed my doctor the cesarean birth plan I had made and he went to discuss it with the anesthesiologist.

Before I knew it, I was being wheeled to the same OR again while getting a second dose of terbutaline to slow the frequency of my contractions. I screamed as I was given the spinal. After hours of back labor, the last thing I wanted was to have a needle shoved in there. I was laid on the table and the drapes were lowered as I watched as my son was born. His head was difficult to get out. He was in a posterior, breech position (which is apparently not a good combination). He was given to me shortly after his initial checks. We were never separated from the OR to the recovery room to the room we stayed in. Even though it was a repeat cesarean, this time around I felt like I had actually given birth.

The hospital staff apologized that I didn’t get my VBAC and truth be told, it started to annoy me. I felt embarrassed. I couldn’t do it. Not only did I want to be an advocate for increasing access to VBAC in my area, but I wanted to be successful to prove that it was a safe option. My baby is three months old now, but I still have very complicated feelings about it all. I still have no answers as to why my babies are breech and I have been obsessively searching for reasons. I did all of the body work, I was healthy, I ate right, there was plenty of time between pregnancies and this still didn’t work out for me. I have been working on healing with talk therapy, but I continue to be frustrated. I have been in physical therapy as one of my biggest worries was having the same issues with the pain and scar tissue. So far I feel that healing is easier this time.

I’ve always been told that breech is a variation of normal, but almost no one treats it that way. I’ve been continuing my search for future pregnancies that I may have a VBAC breech provider. Statistically speaking, now that I have had two breech babies, I am likely to have more. And believe it or not, I found a supportive provider. The doctor has forty years of vaginal breech experience. We spent half an hour on the phone talking about my options for the future. He ended it by saying “when you get pregnant again, come to me. I will help you.” I hung up the phone and thought “what the heck just happened? Did I really find a provider who was willing to deliver a vaginal breech after two cesareans?!” While I haven’t fully come to terms with my first two births I do feel that I made the right decision with both of them. I’m relieved to know that I have choices and support for the future because that’s all I really wanted in the first place.

Initially I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel returning to my work attending births. Would I get sad? Would I show biases because of my experience? But everything that has happened has lit a new fire inside of me. Both of my cesareans have sent me on a journey of self-discovery. I may never have been brave enough to go on without them. I’m even strongly considered becoming a midwife now. I don’t ever want a mother to feel like she doesn’t have choices and not enjoying her pregnancy because of fear. Even though I have not achieved my VBAC, there is a reason for my story and it’s not over yet. 

Hi, my name is Kim & I love birth.
I have been a Registered Nurse for ten years, with the last five specializing in Labor & Delivery.
I love human connection & the art of story telling. I believe it can be a major catalyst for change.
I would love to help you share your story or advice so that we may better support each other and the people we care for. 

Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!

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