Julia's Story (My Momma)

IT'S MOTHER'S DAY! I have been so excited for this day. I love celebrating moms and everything that they do. There is one mom, in particular, I want to honor today and that would be the woman who put up with me all these years, my momma. She was a mom to 4 girls. Yes, you read that right, 4 girls! There are 10 years separating the youngest and the oldest so the birthing atmosphere changed within those 10 years. I am excited to share with you some of the stories my mom shared with me and what it was like to give birth between 1992 and 2002.

Annessa

I didn't know what to expect. Since you were the first I didn't know what anything was going to feel like. I was a little nervous. They had told me I wasn't going to be able to push out a baby over 7lbs due to my bone structure. That only added to the anxiousness. David and I took some Lamaze classes to help ease my nerves.

On October 6th around midnight, I could tell I just didn't feel quite right. All of the sudden these little cramps started happening. I had had Braxton Hicks contractions so I wasn't sure what it was until 2 am. That's when I knew, I was most definitely in labor. At this point I had Annessa's dad come in and he started keeping tabs on how far apart they were. We decided to wait until the Doctor's office was opened and as soon as we got in they said "Yup, we're going to have a baby today but it's going to be a loooooong day. Come back at 5". So they sent me home and told me to only eat and drink clear liquids and nothing too heavy.

I then headed home and tried to keep myself busy. I took a shower and just tried to take it easy as the contractions were progressing in intensity. So we headed back at 5 on the dot. The contractions were pretty intense so they gave me some Demerol to ease the pain so I could doze a little between contractions.  At this point, David was watching the monitor like a hawk and would know when a contraction was building. I remember I woke up to him hovering over me using the Lamaze techniques saying "BREATHE! BREATHE! BREATHE!" to which I responded by placing my finger over his mouth and saying "SHUSH! I do not want to hear that word ever again".

We were getting closer to pushing so they put me in the stirrups and all I could think was "this is the dumbest position. How am I supposed to keep my legs in here?" I also remember having no strength left at the end. I didn't know how I could keep pushing. But I did, and out Annessa popped at 8 lbs. 15oz. (So much for not being able to push a "big" baby out). 

We only stayed for 24 hours because hospital stays were very expensive at this time. This made me a little nervous because I was still a little scared to hold Annessa. I had experience with babies but there is something so different when it is your child.

Macy

This time I knew what I was looking for. I knew what the beginning of labor felt like. However, this summer was the 3rd hottest summers Indiana had ever had. I was so big with this pregnancy. I was ready to have this baby. I was miserable. 

Macy's "due date" was August 31st. I went in for my 40 weeks check up and they told me "You are nowhere near ready to have this baby. You are not even dilated 1 centimeter. You are looking at another week or so". I was devastated. The nurses asked if I wanted to have the doctor give me a call to possibly sweep my membranes. I said "absolutely!"

I left that doctor's office mad. I was so upset. I went to the department store and shopped like a mad woman. I was furious. I went home packed my bags, I was cleaning like crazy. I didn't care what they said, I was having that baby. 

 I tried to get ready for bed and I told David "I don't feel right. I am going to stay up for a while." Sure enough, I was in labor. So I called the hospital and asked when the labor and delivery unit was open. They told me 5 AM. I told them I would be in there and exactly what room I wanted and not to give it to anyone else. 

We headed in and they got me all hooked up. I told the nurse that I was feeling a lot of pain. I felt as if the contractions were right on top of each other. She told me they were just left over contractions and that they were only happening once every five minutes. I then asked her when I could have some medicine and I was told as soon as the doctor gets in. 

The doctor didn't come in until 7:30.  They've done a nurse change during my wait for him. I was in a lot of pain. The doctor joked about canceling that appointment we had set up and nonchalantly agreed to get me some pain medicine. He told me that I probably wouldn't be having the baby until the late afternoon so he had some surgeries he needed to get to. Just as he was exiting the room he asks if I want to be checked first. To which I replied once again "absolutely". 

He gives me the exam and looks at me with wide eyes then looks at the nurse and says "she is going to have this baby in the next couple of hours". I then told the doctor about how I was trying to tell the previous nurse how intense they were. He said, "you are having double contractions". Basically, the contractions were only registering on the monitor as one contraction. It wasn't picking up the second one since they were occurring on top of each other. 

Sure enough, Macy was born at 10:30 at 10 lbs. 6 oz. (Once again so much for not being able to push out a baby over 7 lbs.) Macy had to have her foot pricked every hour for the first day due to her weight.

Caralyne

Because they were fearful of me having another big baby and the whole fear of diabetes being tied to bigger babies, they decided to induce me. They told me that it would be in the best interest of myself and the baby to not carry full term.

Let me tell you, that Pitocin stuff is not fun. It is painful to have your body thrown into labor. If you don't have to use it, I would never ever recommend that. However, I did start the Pitocin at 7 am and I had her around 2 pm. It does help with time but it is extremely painful. 

Since I was not used to Pitocin, I decided to get an Epidural. So the anesthesiologist put the needle in and I was sitting there for several minutes waiting for it to take effect. I finally asked him when I was going to feel it and he said that I should have already been feeling it. So they had a nurse check me and she said "honey I'm sorry, but you're gonna feel this. It's time to have a baby." Not 20 minutes later and Caralyne was born. 

Even though I was induced 1 week early she still weighed in at 8 lbs. 11 oz. 

Sylvia 

Sylvia was also induced so that she wouldn't be a big baby as well. It was painful being thrown into labor again. To add to it Sylvia was sunny side up. 

I remember I was pushing and the doctor looked at the nurse and said, "have an emergency c-section cart ready". It was extremely difficult to push with her. So he looks at me and says with 2 more big pushes we are going to have a baby. I was so excited and wished he would have told me that sooner! So I pushed and got her crowning. Then he told me to stop for one second. So I stopped. He then reached in and flipped her. You could actually see my stomach flip. Then one final push and she was here at a healthy 8 lbs. 7oz.

A Bit of Advice...

If there is 1 piece of advice that I could give moms it is to give breastfeeding 2 weeks. The first 2 weeks are really difficult. Your breasts are engorged and tender and your nipples might be cracked and it is just painful. After those two weeks though, it is beautiful. It is a bond that only you and your baby will share. It will be so worth it. 

Kristen's Story (The Backup Doula)

Often times I get the question "Well, what happens if you can't make it to the birth?" To which I respond with "It's not likely to happen, but if it does I have the worlds best backup doula!" And I am serious about that. She truly is awesome. She has a wonderful heart and I know that my clients would be in great hands! 

With that being said I want my clients to get to know a little about her birthing experiences and who she is as a person. I hope you enjoy these birth stories as much as I did.

Hi, I'm Kristen...

The Lord has given me the gift of birthing three beautiful babies. Each one I carried in my belly just a bit longer than the one before. I am so grateful for each one of these experiences.

My First Birth

I was due October 19, 2006 with our first child. My water broke but I wasn't having any contractions. I had tried everything I could think of to encourage them to pick up and after a while of no activity my Dr. at Womack thought it was best to come in and get checked out. I was dilated to 3 centimeters but couldn't relax enough to get my contractions to pick back up so the Dr. decided to start me on pitocin. (Pitocin is a synthetic form of oxytocin and a very common intervention for hospitals to use) This was one of the things I really hoped to avoid but it did its job and almost exactly 12 hours after my water broke, at 10:31 pm on October 7, 2006, I was holding our precious son Jack Rowan, weighing in at 7lb 7oz.

My Second Birth

When we were pregnant with our second son that was due December 9, 2009, I had been laboring for hours at home with contractions 3-5 minutes apart. We decided to head into the hospital since it was about a 40-minute drive. About half way to the hospital my contractions that had been in a good, strong pattern for hours suddenly stopped. This isn't a decision I would make now but at that time we decided it was best to go in to get checked out any way to make sure everything was ok. I was 5cm but had stalled out and needed to get my contractions going again.

After 3-4 hours of working to get my contractions to pick up again with lots of walking, nipple stimulation, and clary sage oil, with no change I was again told that my body needed Pitocin to give it a boost to get me from 5-10 centimeters. The nurses strongly encouraged me to get an epidural and when I stated I wouldn't be getting one and politely refused to sign the consent form, they told me I would change my mind. Thanks for the support, ladies! I didn't get one and don't regret it at all. They started me on a low dose of Pitocin and broke my water and just 40 minutes later on November 30, 2009 at 6:43pm at Sparrow Hospital our second son, Kian Thomas came into the world. Kian weighed 8lb 15oz.

My Third Birth

By the time we were pregnant with our third baby I realized how your environment can heavily impact how you give birth. My husband and I began to research options other than the hospital because of how uncomfortable they make me. I wanted to be able to birth my baby in a place where I was surrounded by people that would give me space and respect my body's ability to give birth. We found our wonderful midwife, Nancy Harman and after our first meeting with her, my husband and I knew we were making the right decision to hire her to attend our home birth.

At 39 weeks I woke up with a feeling that she was coming that evening. I decided to clean my entire house, bake two freezer meals and make homemade play dough (who does that??) with my boys. Around 4pm that evening I drank a tea called, "Hello Baby Tea" while finishing the last chapter of Ina Mays, Guide to Childbirth. (Highly recommended the read!)

At 8pm when we prayed with and tucked in our boys for the night our oldest, Jack, told me that he knew baby sister was going to be here when he woke up in the morning and he was *almost* right. At 11pm I woke up with contractions that were 10 minutes apart but I didn't get excited since that had been happening on and off all week. I was so tired that I was able to sleep between them until around 1am. At that point, my contractions intensified and I knew I would need the energy later so I went to the kitchen for a snack. (Can't do that at the hospital! ;)

I continued to breathe and move through contractions while snacking on my cheese, crackers and mixed nuts until about 3am. Since my midwife had an hour and 15-minute drive to get to our house I decided at that point to give her a call and let her know contractions were now 5 minutes apart and the baby was on her way but that I was doing fine and she didn't need to rush right over. Then around 3:30am I woke my husband for the extra support as I labored. Many women enjoy laboring in a tub but my body was telling me to keep moving. I was experiencing pretty intense back labor but found some relief moving in our hot shower.

The midwife and her assistant arrived at our house around 5:30am and found I was 7cm. Things began to get even more intense at that point but between the hot shower, different position changes and hip squeezes and assistance from my amazing doula, Danielle, I was able to manage the pain.

Right about the time I was feeling the urge to push, of course, our boys woke up for the day. I prepared for such a moment and we gave them a new movie I had gotten them and sent them upstairs to watch it with breakfast. My husband also gave our boys my cell phone and told them to text him if there was an emergency but otherwise to stay upstairs and just watch their movie. While I was facing the most intense part of labor yet, our oldest sent my husband a text asking him to bring up popcorn... not quite an emergency, buddy!

Just a few short minutes after the popcorn text, at 7:58am on December 15, 2013, with the help of my husband and midwife, I delivered my baby girl in the comfort of our home. Our home birth was truly one of the most amazing and beautiful experiences of my life. Audra Kate was our largest baby weighing in at 9lb even, although she pooped 4 times before she was weighed so you be the judge.

During each of these births, I experienced different levels of pain. For me, this pain was an awakening. In my last birth, it hit me, God was using these moments of pain to take the attention off of me and onto Him. He was using this pain to draw me near to Him.

I had spent months preparing myself to have strength for this day and by His grace, in that moment He allowed me to see that I couldn't do it in my own strength and that it wasn't about me at all.

As a doula, in our line of work, you often hear that you need to trust your body but I believe you need to trust the Creator of your body. Birthing a baby was not something I could do apart from the strength that He provides. Birthing a baby takes some serious work and it was Christ in my weakness pouring out His grace to help me go on. Birth gives us one of the best opportunities to let go of our own strength and look to the Creator of life for His supernatural strength. Let's trust Him to provide the strength for our bodies that He promises and may He be glorified no matter the outcome.

Michelle's Story (Waterbirth)

Every birth story is unique and beautiful in its own way. This one was unique to me because it was the FIRST water birth I was involved in! It was also my first time attending a birth at Baby + Co in Cary, NC. Lastly, Michelle decided to have her kids involved as much as the kids wanted to be (her daughter got to help cut the cord!!!) These were fantastic options for this mamma because she found her rhythm and tuned everything else out. She did this beautifully!

Being informed about your options is so important for reaching your goal of having a fearless birth! Every mother desires different aspects of birth, and that's ok! If you're unsure about your options, let's get together and talk!

Ashley's Story

Ashley is the woman who got me interested in looking into different types of birth. She was also the first person to introduce me to the term doula! I always loved getting to hear her stories and I am thrilled for you to as well! Enjoy.

How many children do you have?

God planned for us four beautiful children here on earth and two precious babies who have gone to heaven before us.

How many were home births?

All of our babies were born at home. All water births. Our first son, our first rainbow baby was born in Arizona in our little apartment right after our first marriage anniversary. Shortly after, we moved to Indiana where our next daughter and son were born, and then our last (for now) rainbow baby was born.

What did you do to prepare for the births?

When we were pregnant and preparing for our first homebirth, we only knew one other couple that had had a home birth so we heavily relied on knowledge from our Midwife and the resources she provided us. We also took a childbirth class that she prepared in her office and just really tried our best to research all of the options we had to choose from during prenatal care, the birth and the postpartum period. During one of our last prenatal visits our Midwife recommended a doula to us who she felt would be a good fit for us and we agreed to meet with her. From the minute we met her, we were at ease with her presence and gentle nature and planned for her role in our birth. During our birth with our first son, she was a crucial role for keeping me focused and relaxed when I felt out of control and unsure of what to expect, losing my grip to contractions, with it being my first child. Since then, I have felt confident in my ability to birth my children and my husband gained the confidence along with me to be my labor partner.

Fun fact, we have only had a midwife arrive on time for two of our four children's births. So with one of those being our first, our doula gave us a sense of calm, keeping a safe watch over us until the Midwife arrived minutes later.

How did your husband prepare for a home birth? 

My husband and I were both present for a majority of the prenatal visits with our first Midwife and we both participated in the birth class and went over all of the resources together. We kept an open dialogue about what to expect and how we were to work together once the day came.

What does it look like after the midwife leaves? 

Once the Midwife leaves, our family is left to bond and recover with baby. The Midwife will usually take care of any technical items and fill out necessary paperwork, check over mom and baby and once everyone is in the clear, she leaves until the next scheduled postpartum visit.  When a doula is involved, she will typically stay and make sure breastfeeding gets started and that mom is settled and answers any questions that arise. (Which was the case with our first baby and was such a wonderful tool to have as a nervous first time mom.)

The goal is to birth without fear, what was your biggest fear about a home birth and how did you overcome it? 

With my first baby, the unknown was my biggest fear. Never having given birth to a full term baby, I had no idea what to expect and what the pain and sensations were going to feel like. Having a skilled Midwife and doula to give their advice and comfort the best they could was how I feel we combated that. Especially during the birth, her presence and reassuring words were what made me feel confident that I could in fact do it, when I felt I couldn’t. From then on, I would say my biggest fear was not the pain or unknown of birth, but the health and safety of my babies. Already being familiar with loss, I was sensitive to the possibility of something going wrong. Between our third and fourth baby, we experienced our second loss at 12 weeks and that was devastating. Prayer and talking about my fears during prenatal visits is what kept those worries out in the open. I distinctly remember the day my fourth baby was born, my Midwife encouraged me to take some time to pause, talk to my baby and let him/her know that everything was okay and that it was safe to join us. I had more fears with her pregnancy about loss than I had before. So, those subtle fears were what I believe was keeping me from progressing. She was born that evening after a day of reflection, quiet meditation and time alone.

What is your favorite part about a home birth? 

One of the best things about a home birth is just that, it is in the comfort of your own home. Only the people you have invited into your birthing space surround you. It is predictable in that sense; it’s familiar and comfortable. The same intimate space that was necessary for creating your precious baby is the same space needed for birthing your baby. A lot of birth is in the mind of the mother who is doing the work.  Birth is incredibly empowering and necessary as the woman is birthed into a mother, just as the baby is birthed into this world. There is a saying that goes, “A woman in birth is at once her most powerful, and her most vulnerable. But any woman who has birthed unhindered understands that we are stronger than we know.” –Marci Macari  

If someone is thinking about having a home birth, what advice would you give them?

Find a Midwife who makes you feel comfortable, who is skilled and not too proud to know when to make the call in the event of a transfer during birth. Find and read information on all of your options and choices surrounding your pregnancy and birth. Everything from glucose tests, to eye ointment for baby. Know how and why behind everything and choose what is right for your family. A good care provider will respect your choice and help provide all of your options the best they can. Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent. “When you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”

Take advice lightly and listen to your intuition. It is a God given tool that we each have. There will be plenty of opinions over any decision you make, especially something that isn’t familiar to friends and family. Know that you felt called to consider home birth as an option and prayer for the wisdom to make the right choices for your family.

Finally, prepare for and put time into birth affirmations to reflect on during your pregnancy and focus on during your birth. A few that I have loved over the years:

“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.”
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it is going to be worth it.”
“I birth my baby with waves, each one bringing my baby closer to shore.”
“The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.”
“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump her lungs to inhale and her hand to pull back from fire so she knows when and how to give birth.” Virginia Di Orio
 “Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” Barbara Katz

The Doula's Story (Annessa)

Hello! My name is Annessa Germond and I am the doula. The absolute most important aspect of the doula-client relationship is chemistry. Having total trust in your doula is the first step in having a fearless birth. My hope is that you can get to know me a little and see if we'd be a good fit.

Our home is full of love with 2 birds, 2 cats, 1 dog, and 1 incredibly patient husband. That's only on days that we don't have multiple children running around or our beloved friends and family joining us. My heart is full when my home is. Which is why this is where my free consultations and meetings are held. However, if you prefer a different scenery, I am always excited to meet with clients at the local coffee shop or Fayetteville Pie Co. (YUM!)

We love the military! There's a special place in our hearts for the military between the Indiana Army National Guard being my first full time job, to meeting my husband at Advanced Individual Training, to my husband being stationed at Fort Bragg for 6 years. We understand the triumphs and challenges many military families go through. 

Last but not least, I full heartedly believe that every birth is beautiful! It doesn't matter whether it is in a hospital, your home, or birthing center. I believe it's beautiful if you have a caesarean section or vaginal birth, all natural or epidural... it is all stunning! I love getting to know my clients and help teach, coach, and comfort them in the upcoming days.

I love being a doula.

"My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love that, so that they may know the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mysteries of God, namely Christ." Colossians 2:2