Therese

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.

Meagan

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!!!!

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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.

Andrea

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. 

Jennifer

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.

Jasmine

The Birth Zone Founder, Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Labor Doula

Barrington, Illinios

“Yes, I’m due this Saturday” she responded. I’m not sure what answer I was expecting, but that sure wasn’t it.

I was twenty years old and renting a room in a four-bedroom apartment that was owned by the elderly lady downstairs. None of us girls knew each other, but three of us started to wonder if our mysteriously quiet roommate was perhaps expecting a baby. We couldn’t help but notice her growing belly. She was shy, and felt insecure about her English as she was a recent immigrant. She didn’t talk to us very much.

Then one day coming home from work I saw a large box in the entry-way of our building. I read the label, hoping it was a surprise of some kind for me. Trying to figure out what I was looking at I eventually noticed a customs label listing the contents of the package: baby clothes, baby bottles, baby bibs… baby, baby, baby. That did it, someone had to ask her what was going on. I was the youngest, ballsiest, and most naive of the crew, so I had the honor of asking the delicate question. “Are you pregnant?” Turns out: yes… she was very, very pregnant indeed. I asked if she needed or wanted any support. She gladly accepted. I didn’t know much about birth, but I figured I could be her friend during this time if that’s what she wanted. I held her hand while she told our other roommates, and our landlord. To everyone’s credit: they rolled with it.

She had nothing for the baby, save that one box of clothing from overseas. My co-workers pitched in once they heard the story, and within days I was bringing home a crib, a car seat, a bouncy seat, and everything else our tiny apartment needed to welcome our newest roomie.

Over the next few weeks I accompanied her to prenatal appointments and my mom and I threw her a very tiny baby shower. We watched the 80s movie “Three Men and a Baby,” which felt appropriate given our living situation. She asked me to accompany her to the hospital when she was in labor, and I stayed by her side for all 30 hours, until she was finally wheeled into a c-section.

I remember going back home to our tiny Chicago apartment in the wee morning hours. I was more exhausted than I even knew possible, but suddenly I knew what I wanted to do with my life. Before I went to bed I sat down at my Gateway laptop (remember those – with the cow boxes?) in our front sun room and searched for the term “professional labor coach.” That was the first time I learned the word “doula.”

That was nineteen years ago. I didn’t immediately become a doula, but it was the start of the journey for me. Eventually I went on to give birth to my two children, foster many more, and adopt four children. I became a certified birthing educator, and ultimately a childbirth doula. In the end, I lost touch with that roommate when we moved out and on with our separate lives, but she and her child will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Sometimes I get questions from new moms who are interested in becoming a doula. They are in love with the birth world, but wondering how to balance this work with their family’s needs. Doula work is incredibly demanding. The on-call life isn’t for everyone. Or every life stage. I waited over fifteen years to circle back to this passion. As the saying goes: you can have it all, but you can’t always have it all at the same time. Love the stage of life that you’re in, and when the time is right you’ll know it.

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.

Catie

Registered Nurse, Labor & Delivery

Gilbert, Arizona

Birth is such an incredible and unpredictable process. As a labor and delivery nurse, I really went into labor with Windsley expecting everything and nothing all at the same time! One thing I was absolutely sure of was that I would go after my due date. At the time, I was working in an OB office and worked a 10 hour day Tuesday, May 23rd. I wasn’t feeling well that day – I was very flushed, swollen and emotional! I had an appointment the day before and she said I was dilated 1-2cm and 80% effaced. I started thinking maybe I would have the baby sooner than later but also was prepared to walk around like that for another couple weeks. I was only 37 weeks 2 days so my expectations were low.

That night I went on a nesting rampage. I took Unisom and went to bed around 10:00 pm. Around 11 o’clock I got up to pee and got back into bed. I felt 3 little gushes of fluid. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or if I peed myself. I decided to put a pad in my underwear and try to go back to sleep while monitoring her movement. I knew if my water had truly broken and I went to the hospital they would keep me there and I did not want to go into labor without a good night’s sleep. I dozed lightly until I had to get back up to pee at 12:30 am. The pad was soaked and so were my underwear. I was convinced that my water was indeed broken so I woke my partner up and he suggested we should go to the hospital. I had hoped to labor at home for a while, so I really didn’t want to go yet. We got up, finished packing our hospital bag and I took a shower. I still wasn’t feeling her move as normal (probably the loss of fluid and the unisom) so around 2:00 am I decided I wanted to go in to check on her. I was contracting a little bit, but only every 5-20 minutes or so. 

We walked into triage and saw a midwife and nurse I knew. I felt relieved to see a familiar face. When I took my pants off and walked to the gurney I left a trail of fluid on the floor and the nurse, Maggie said –“ um yeah you are definitely ruptured, you’re going to L&D”. My mom was planning to come for the birth so we called her. She said she would get on the next plane out from Virginia to Denver. By the time I was admitted and received my IV, it was 4 o’clock in the morning and I was contracting every 10 minutes.

My eyes were burning, I was so tired. I tried to sleep between contractions but the contractions were already feeling so intense without my bag of water. I felt the need to move through the contractions and quickly felt irritated with hoisting my full term body in and out of bed with each contraction. I gave up on the idea of sleeping and sat on the birthing ball for a while. Around 6:00 am I got into the bath. I loved the tub; it was so relaxing. I wanted my cervix to be checked about four hours later by my Midwife, Eliza so I could know if I had made any change from my last check-up. I was 4 cm dilated – which was encouraging to me. I got back into the tub after and my contractions were still very irregular coming every 2-3 minutes, then spacing out to 6-9 minutes. I was so thankful my birth team was expectantly managing me and letting my body have time to kick into labor by itself. I was also not hooked up to the fetal heart rate monitor constantly. They were listening to her heart rate with a doppler every hour while I was in latent labor to make sure she was doing well.

At this point my mom arrived. I got out of the tub and started moving to see if I could get the contractions to come more regularly. Walking definitely kicked the intensity up and around 2:00 pm I told David that if this was not transition, I was considering getting an epidural. I started to feel out of control with the contractions and I noticed a difference in the sounds I was making – they were more desperate. I was grabbing onto David wishing somehow he could get me out of “this”. I asked to be checked again and I was still only dilated to 4cm. I hadn’t made ANY cervical change. It was then that I lost all coping ability. I needed to do something different, but I wasn’t quite ready to get an epidural. My birth team suggested IV pain medication so that I could rest. The medication took the edge off and I was able to sleep for about 45 minutes in between contractions. 

As 5:00 pm came around, I decided that if I wasn’t progressing, I did not want to continue without an epidural. I had seen so many first time moms make better labor progress after they got the epidural and I hoped I would be the same. I wasn’t able to relax into the contractions and allow my body to take control. I felt like I could potentially keep going, but I just didn’t want to. The epidural placement went so smoothly and didn’t hurt compared to the contractions I was experiencing. After the epidural set up Eliza checked my cervix. I was 6 cm and confirmed what we had suspected – that Windsley was positioned sunny side up (occiput posterior). That position had been contributing to my lack of progress, irregular contraction pattern and intense discomfort. I asked if we could start pitocin because my contractions were 5-10 minutes apart and I knew that wouldn’t get me my baby anytime soon. My body was feeling hot and wanted to avoid developing an infection. 

The nurse put a peanut ball between my legs to facilitate Windsley getting into a better position for turning and descending. My midwife told me she would come back and check me at the end of her shift, even stay to deliver the baby if I was close. I thought there was NO WAY. My progress had been slow all day and first time moms usually push for hours. Eliza came back to check and sure enough, my cervix was completely dilated and her head was right there! I pushed for 10 minutes and she came out. Windsley was born on May 24 at 7:37 pm (a shift change baby). David was able to have his hands next to the midwifes, helped catch her and bring her right up to my belly for skin to skin. 

As a labor and delivery nurse I was so, so thankful for how smoothly things had gone. There were no emergencies, she never dropped her heart rate and was such a perfect little newborn.

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.

Stef

Registered Nurse, Labor & Delivery

Miami, Florida

I am proud to say that I have found my passion in life. I have been a labor and delivery nurse for six years. If it wasn’t for obstetrical nursing I couldn’t be a nurse.  The path the labor room has taken me over years has been wild.

I can remember my first day as a nurse. My nerves got the best of me and I became unsure of myself. That was all put aside the first time I heard the cry of a newborn that I helped deliver. To see the look of the mother and father holding their newborn child made me realize that I was exactly where I needed to be. 

While labor and delivery brings mostly joy and happiness, I cannot say that every one of my shifts have looked the same. Sadly in this type of nursing, there is also tragedy. Losing a pre term or a full term newborn is a sad part of life and the worst part of my job. Helping mothers push their way to a lifeless child are the days that never escape my memory. I can still hear the cries of  families that have lost a baby. It is something no one should ever have to go through. The sudden loss of a child that was loved deeply and never had an opportunity to grow. It’s difficult not to feel everything the family does.

The nurses I work with have become more than coworkers. They are family. Family has its good times and its struggles. We’ve stood by each other’s sides through thick and thin, and at the end of the day we have each other. I had the opportunity to see my coworkers from a different angle when I delivered my youngest child in my unit. It has made me grow to love them even more. I knew they were wonderful as I worked aside them, but being a patient with them by my side during the entire birthing process was different. They cheered me on, crying tears of joy as my youngest son came into the world. I have been lucky enough to deliver family, friends and numerous other laboring patients who I was able to become close with. One thing I can say is I give one hundred percent of myself every shift. Even if I leave late (which my co-workers always make fun of me for), each shift is a reminder of how important you are as a nurse. Especially now, in times of COVID-19.

The fear of the unknown in the beginning made it terrifying to go into work. A mother laboring alone is the heart breaking truth we are seeing right now. A father who flew across the country to see the birth of his child only to be denied entry into the unit. The potential of the newborn testing positive for COVID-19. Wearing full PPE just to take vitals. Our nurses have stuck together through this trying time and we have grown. Healthcare is changing rapidly every day. Our lives are changing every day. Sometimes what we think will be a text book delivery changes abruptly & other times a horrific event turns out okay. No matter the story, we as healthcare workers can give compassionate care. That is my mission.

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. 

Katie

Registered Nurse – Certified Childbirth Educator

Boise, Idaho

On November 8, 2018 I was working as the triage nurse. Triage was empty, so I was helping in a C-section. I stepped out to grab a warm blanket for the patient & a co-worker asked, “Hey, Katie, is your family okay?” 

There was a fire nearby. The town I lived in, where my husband and kids were, was in the path. I looked out the window and there was a huge mushroom cloud in the sky over Paradise.

I frantically called my husband. He had just gotten our boys and dogs loaded up and was about to evacuate. They were safe.

The day quickly turned into chaos. My job was to try to help manage this chaos. Most of the patients from the hospital in Paradise were being evacuated to ours. I didn’t know if this was a precaution. Maybe it was a small fire that they would get under control quickly? As the day went on, I heard more horror stories coming out of Paradise. I knew my family was safe but I needed them. I lasted until about 5pm before I just couldn’t cope any longer. 

Ninety percent of the town burned down. Waiting anxiously, we learned our home had not burned, but most of our street had. For the next six weeks, we lived with family. We had no access to our home or anything in it.

We were fortunate in that were able to move into a small rental in Chico. While processing what had happened over a few months, we came to the decision to move to a new state and start over. We did not want to live through the rebuilding of the town. I knew that seeing the burned homes, trees and businesses day in and day out would be like reliving the fire every day; a constant reminder. I was worried about all the chemicals, paints, fuels and other toxic materials that had burned. I didn’t want to have continuous anxiety wondering if my family or I would end up with cancer or other side effects as a result of exposure. The housing prices in the areas nearby sky rocketed. I told myself, “at least babies were delivered everywhere.” I could keep doing what I loved, and we could handpick where we wanted to raise our family. 

After exploring several new places, we fell in love with one. I was offered a position at the largest hospital in the state quickly. I needed to start my job soon, but our home was not due to be finished for at least six weeks. My husband and I made the decision that I would move out before the rest of the family & rent a room from an acquaintance. I had only lived alone once ten years prior in college and even that was short lived. I had never been away from my husband or my kids for more than five days. People were questioning me constantly about why I was leaving ahead of them. I was defending myself to others and to myself. No father would have been questioned so much about this decision. It would have been a practical decision to help his family. I was made to feel like a mother abandoning her children. The deep emotional toll of being away from them was just evidence to support those feelings. Still I pressed on. 

My new hospital delivered 400-450 babies per month. I was used to 120-175 births per month. I fell in love with the idea of all that I was going to learn and see, but I was also scared. Would I know enough? Would I be able to keep up?

After just five weeks, I knew it was not the right fit. I came to realize it was high intervention with very few protocols. I was uncomfortable. I was not used to the pace and the physicians extreme variation of practice. There were hardly any order sets or protocols from which nurses could work. This took away the autonomy I had gotten used to at my previous hospital.

I decided to accept a new job at a smaller hospital. The staffing was difficult for me to adjust to as it had significantly less coverage. One night there were multiple urgent matters, but not all of them could be tended to because of staffing. I felt intensely uncomfortable in that situation. We were doing the best we could with what we had, but I knew I couldn’t do it. After that night, I began to look for another new job. I could be giving up my career in birth. 

I decided to change focus. I began working in a busy OB/GYN office. I felt so defeated and out of place.  How could I work anywhere but in L&D? I felt incredibly anxious & unhappy. I felt like I had made a huge mistake. I leaned heavily on my friends and family. I started therapy. I started an anti-depressant.

After six months, I had bonded with some patients. I roomed them for their OB appointments and would chat about work, their kids and pregnancy discomforts.  I spoke to them on the phone frequently. I listened to them every time they had a question or something that concerned them. I taught them what was normal and what was not. I followed them through their whole pregnancy. With some I felt that I was making a huge difference by the time they got to full term. When they came in for their six-week postpartum appointment gushing over their babies, hugging me and thanking me, my heart felt full again.

I was given the opportunity to start teaching the birthing class through the office. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never taught besides at the bedside, but I was figuring it out. I loved seeing their curiosity. I loved teaching them their options. I decided to start the process of becoming certified and took a training course. I have expanded the educational program within the office and am exploring new ideas in childbirth education.

I miss birth immensely. I miss the looks on mothers’ faces when newborns are laid on them skin to skin for the first time. The looks shared between parents. Being part of an emergency and feeling like you just did something incredible.

I felt helpless as one nurse in a new hospital(s). But teaching women that they deserve excellent care may be what sparks the change. I hope I can teach, support and empower them. Maybe I will circle back in the delivery room one day. Right now, this is my contribution to birth.

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.