Same-sex couple Mariel and Viviana knew they always wanted a baby; so, a year into their marriage they began trying to conceive by the traditional route of IUI’s with frozen sperm via a sperm bank. After nearly a dozen failed tries, they switched gears to a known-donor and were quickly pregnant. Early on in Viviana’s pregnancy she began having complications, and on the same day of her anatomy scan at 20 weeks and 6 days, Viviana’s water bag prolapsed and broke. Tune in to hear the details of their devastating infant loss due to incompetent cervix and the redemption story of their boy/girl rainbow babies conceived within 7 days of each other and born only three days apart. Follow their journey on Instagram at @moderndaytwins.
I don’t have a hometown, but if I had to claim one, it would be Dallas, TX. I met Mariel in college at UNT and quickly fell in love. A few years into our dating, and after moving to Austin, she asked me to marry her; so, we had a ceremony in TX and made it legal in NYC when I was 29 and she was 22. I’ve always wanted to be a mother and never could have guessed the road to realizing it would be so hard. Now the Mama to my “modern day twins” and my little angel baby in heaven, I’m at peace. My loss and the birth world has been truly inspirational to me so I share as much as I can on social media and hope to give back somehow. Connect with me on Instagram at @vivianarchy.
I grew up in Brownsville, TX, which is on the Texas/Mexico border and never lived anywhere else until I left for college where I met Viviana and instantly fell in love. Up until meeting her, my life was pretty vanilla: I had a set goal, and was meeting every expectation my very traditional Mexican family set out for me. Then, all of a sudden, I threw all of that out of the window and started taking risks I’d never imagine were possible – I graduated college in three years and moved to the most expensive city in Texas without a job just so I could finally live passionately. It’s been a roller coaster ride with many ups and downs, but despite the uncertainties, we’ve always managed to land on our feet and have been blessed beyond measure. I love to tell our story to anybody that will listen so that people see that there is hope so long as you don’t give up and are willing to take as many detours as life throws your way. Connect with me on Instagram at @cafesitamami.
Sarah Wells Bags
This episode is sponsored by Sarah Wells Bags. With thoughtful functionality and chic styling, Sarah Wells offers breast pump bags and accessories to help you reach your breastfeeding goals. An all-in-one bag for your breast pump, pumping accessories, laptop, phone and more, Sarah Wells Bags also transition to a diaper bag or purse when you’re done pumping. See the full collection, including the Pumparoo—a wet/dry bag and staging mat for pump parts at sarahwellsbags.com.
We are giving away a $150 shop credit and there is also a promo code: BIRTHHOUR15, good for 15% off all orders at sarahwellsbags.com.
Lida battled chronic pain throughout her teens and twenties, and underwent laparoscopic surgery at age 24 to remove adhesions caused by endometriosis. In order to inhibit the disease’s progression and to preserve her fertility, Lida took continuous hormonal birth control until she and her husband were ready to begin trying to conceive. The endometriosis started to return immediately, but with the help of a minor fertility intervention, Lida was able to conceive after only seven months.
Unmedicated Hospital Birth with Midwives
Once her pregnancy was deemed healthy and low-risk, Lida opted to leave her OB-GYN for the care of midwives within the same hospital-based practice, and she committed to an un-medicated birth. After years of working to achieve a healthy reproductive system with the expert and faithful aid of medical intervention and surgeons, Lida approached pregnancy and birth as a process that doesn’t necessarily require either. Despite an end-of-pregnancy preeclampsia scare and prodromal labor, Lida was able to have a healthy birth without intervention. She credits having battled a disease with readying her for childbirth; not merely because pain prepared her for pain, but because over the years she has learned how to balance asserting her personal agency with releasing control and fear. Lida of course believes that chronic illness isn’t the only vehicle for learning this lesson, and she wishes for all mamas their own version of their best births!
Lida Sunderland Bio
Lida lives with her husband, Mark, their infant son, Rocky, and two fat cats in Washington, DC. Together they love to explore both the city and its greener surrounds. Lida is an art therapist and art educator. She has years of experience promoting mental health in schools, but also works with a broader variety of clientele through private practice. You can learn more about her work at www.lidasunderland.com
As an art therapist, Lida is a champion of new mamas and mamas-to-be taking charge of their mental health. Although a sleepless night before recording and the gooey-sweet feeling that overcame her while talking about the birth of her son resulted in her failure to mention it, Lida feels deeply indebted to two important resources for her post-partum mental health: a subsidized psychiatric clinic focused on pregnancy and post-partum, and a support group for new moms run by mental health educators. She encourages all to look into similar resources in their communities during their pregnancy journeys.
This episode is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow helps new and pregnant moms qualify for breast pumps through their health insurance. They carry all of the major brands, including Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh, Evenflo, and more. Visit their website to get started today, and your dedicated breast pump specialist will take care of all of the paperwork for you, including getting a prescription from your doctor and filing the claim with your insurance. Go here to get started!
In spite of being a Large Animal Veterinarian (Board Certified in Animal ObGyn) and a Reproductive Physiologist studying human fertility, Dr. Joanna Ellington was surprised when the flu threw off her ovulation cycle and an unplanned pregnancy occurred. Using excellent classic references like Active Birth and Spiritual Midwifery, Joanna used perineal massage to prepare for childbirth, and was maybe a little too active with a 2 mile hike that turned into 5 miles the day before her membranes began leaking. An induction resulted in a normal birth where Joanna used her knowledge of birth and lactation in animals to enjoy the process as much as possible, even telling her midwife “That was kind of fun!”
Joanna’s second son was born within 10 minutes after she arrived at the hospital. In the chaos and discomfort of having two male doctors she had never met working on her son and her private parts, Joanna coped by switching into “medical professional mode” and talking to them about her research. But, she lost her focus on her baby and the moment. Sadly, she forgot to invite her waiting son and mother in to see the birth, as she had planned. This was a valuable lesson of not “taking care of others” or outwardly focusing during birth, but staying centered and baby focused.
Between her two births, Joanna used her knowledge of the safety of isotonic (balanced salt) environments and her discovery of a plant sugar that protected sperm, to create the first FDA approved Fertility Lubricant safe to use while trying to conceive (Pre-Seed). Along with her Doctorate-of-Pharmacy husband, Joanna has gone on to create a new platform of isotonic women’s healthcare products in partnership with Fairhaven Health. These include: BabyIt Perineal Massage and Postpartum Comfort Gel. Best practice medical-evidence now supports perineal massage to increase a woman’s chance of intact perineum (not tearing or having an episiotomy), decrease the risk of chronic postpartum pain and increase a woman’s sense of control and positive feeling about labor and delivery.
Lindsey Bliss shares her six births in four stories: a birth center birth with Mia (now 11); a vaginal twin birth in the hospital with surprise-twins, Birdie & Hazel (now 8); another surprise set of twins, Luke & Rocco (now 5.5) who were born at home; and finally, baby Olympia (1) who was also born via a planned homebirth. I love Lindsey’s down-to-earth approach to birth, postpartum, and parenting!
Lindsey Bliss Bio
Lindsey Bliss is the co-director of Carriage House Birth, an experienced birth doula, and the mother of seven. Lindsey is considered to be a multiples expert after giving birth to and parenting two consecutive sets of twins. Lindsey takes on her role as a birth doula and childbirth educator with serious passion and commitment. Her mission is to hold space for expectant families through education and informed decision making. Being prepared, and knowing what options are available increases the likelihood of an amazing birth. Lindsey facilitates that process, giving people the tools and inspiration to empower themselves. Her unwavering support and gentle guidance have benefited over two hundred families. Lindsey supports first time parents, multiparas, single parents, LGBT families, twins births, medicated and non medicated vaginal births, cesarean births, and VBACs.
Connect with her on Instagram at @doulabliss and @carriagehousebirth
Go natural in the nursery with Brentwood Home! This family-owned company has been crafting mattresses and bedding essentials in Los Angeles for decades, using natural, ethically sourced materials that are safe for your family and the environment. Outfit your nursery with their top-rated crib mattresses, changing pads, and nursing pillows, made with healthy fibers like organic cotton and organic coconut husk. Visit brentwoodhome.com/birthhour and use the code birthhour for 15% off your purchase! We are also giving away a Wildfern mattress to one lucky winner. Enter below!
After a long (64 hours) and traumatic first birth, Melissa decided to take a wholistic approach in preparing for her second birth by addressing aspects of mind, body, and soul. The book Mindful Birthing was pivotal for Melissa in holding an open hand about what her second birth would look like. Melissa had a team prepared to support her, including a birth doula, birth photographer, and a birth singer.
After going to 41 weeks and 2 days with zero contractions, Melissa went into labor while hiking by herself. After a long first birth Melissa was expecting the same for her second. After mooning the entire town on a speedy car ride, Melissa gave birth minutes after arriving at the birth center. Melissa had never imagined that she could give birth without feeling pain and laughing throughout the entire process. This is a story you have to hear to believe. Her birth singer, Meghan, is featured on this episode singing some of the songs that were sung over Melissa before and after her daughter arrived.
Melissa Dohse Bio
Melissa is a mother of two and a licensed clinical social worker living in Flagstaff, AZ. Melissa is an avid travel, passionate about building community, and seeks to create spaces for survivor voices to be heard. Melissa has a private counseling practice, Cultivate Counseling, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghan is a board certified music therapist and music director for the Flagstaff Threshold Choir, a women’s choir that sings in small groups at the bedside of those nearing end of life. Meghan draws upon her background in facilitating music experiences with young children, women’s circles, and people in hospice care to provide supportive music for laboring and birth celebration. Find out more at mountainhealthmusic.com, email@example.com.
Today’s sponsor is Wavhello. BellyBuds by WavHello are adhesive speakers that gently adhere to mom’s baby bump and safely play music to the womb. BellyBuds help relax and reduce stress, stimulate early development and promote positive connectivity in the brain through music. Learn more about BellyBuds at wavhello.com. Right now take 10% OFF BellyBuds on their website with code BBMOTHERSDAY through 5/14/17.
With her first son, Remy, Tayler went a week past her due date and had a very long labor (over 30 hours). Looking back, she realized that she had been resisting every contraction. So for her second birth, Tayler wanted to do things a little differently. During her pregnancy, Tayler practiced hypnobirthing; and during labor, she remembers repeating the word “opening,” and actually feeling herself dilating. Tayler’s second son, Sage, was born in the water and en caul very shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Tayler Gunn Bio
Tayler lives with her three boys and two kitties in Southern California. She and her husband Nate both own their own businesses and love what comes with it. Tayler owns Wildbird ring slings, a babywearing company. They spend a lot of their free time at the beach and running around with their boys. Connect with Tayler at @taylergolden or @mywildbird and see her ring slings at Wildbird.co.
Three Unmedicated Births – Hospital & Birth Center
In her lighthearted and quippy style, Crystal hilariously details her three births: a hospital birth at 42 weeks involving “The Devil’s Urine” and a hemorrhage; a 3 week early and extremely fast water birth; and, a one-push water birth with a hospital transfer solely to get a rest from her preschooler and toddler at home. Crystal talks about how her love of ramen noodles made from placenta-broth helped her adjust to the news of an unexpected pregnancy, and about how her “Birth Boss” midwife and doula made all the difference through three unmedicated births. Crystal’s births taught her that she has an extremely high tolerance for pain, and that absolutely anything is possible if you trust your body and allow yourself to be nurtured and supported by the community of people who love you.
Crystal Harris Bio
Crystal has made it her mission to make life easier for pumping moms. After she nursed her two sons as a work-from-home mom, the birth of her daughter (during an on-site contract that could not be breeched) led her to invent the Brauxiliary Band: a bra attachment that turns any bra into a hands-free pumping bra. She has three “amazingly gorgeous children” John IV (5), Bennett (3), and Josette (1) who “look and act just like their mama,” and is married to her husband John III, a man who “understands and celebrates her particular neurosis.” Church, Dunkin Donuts, solo grocery trips, and the fact that all three of her children were born on Sunday mornings make Sundays her favorite days. Her family resides in Charlotte, NC. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram (@Brauxiliary) or visit Brauxiliary.com.
Earth Mama Angel Baby
Below are the products and resources from Earth Mama Angel Baby that I talked about at the end of today’s episode!
After overcoming a severe case of endometriosis in her 20s, Vani changed her diet and lifestyle, but still worried that she’d have trouble getting pregnant. When she and her husband were finally ready to have a baby at age 38, she conceived after just one month of trying! Vani chose to have a natural hospital birth, and assembled a team to help her get there. She says she couldn’t have achieved a natural child birth without the coaching of her doula, supportive doctor, and a very positive and helpful nurse. She also says there were a few moments during labor where she asked the team “can I do this?” and they would say “yes, you can do this,” and that really motivated her. Taking drugs, however, didn’t enter her mind once. She says that after having her daughter a few months ago, she has been in pure bliss enjoying breastfeeding; and, that the happy-hormones from nursing help her overcome the sleep deprivation that comes with juggling motherhood and business.
Connect with Vani on Instagram at @foodbabemama where she shares natural and organic pregnancy and motherhood tips! You can read more about her journey at foodbabe.com
Latched Mama is on a mission to support new moms with affordable and functional nursing wear. Using comfortable fabrics and modern designs that work for both tandem feeding and pumping, Latched Mama is helping moms nurse confidently and comfortably wherever they are. Also, check out their new labor dress! Made from a super-soft fabric, it features snaps up the front and back for monitoring and epidural placement, and snaps at the shoulders for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding access. The Latched Mama labor dress can truly bring a little extra comfort and confidence to your next birth. Latched Mama also has an extensive plus size line up to 4X.
Sarah gave birth to Hayden Rainwater on January 15th, 2017 at 7:27pm, after almost 18 hours of natural labor. Hayden was born at 40 weeks and 2 days gestation. Sarah started labor at 1:30am on Sunday morning. She was convinced that the contractions were “fake” and tried everything in her power to get them to “go away.” After a hot bath and plenty of water, she woke up her husband, Travis, and they decided to head to the hospital (located in Cottonwood, over an hour away). Contractions were around 6 mins apart at this point.
Sarah met her midwife, Stephanie, at the hospital around 6:00am. Stephanie checked her and declared she was still only dilated to 2cm (same as a week prior). Due to living so far away from the Cottonwood hospital, they agreed to stay and labor, expecting a baby sometime later that night. After walking the hallways and laboring in the tub, Sarah was checked again at 4:30pm. She had dilated to a 5. Contractions were now incredibly intense and were coming 45 seconds – 1 min apart, and lasting every bit of 60 seconds.
Sarah was checked again at 6:30pm and was then a 7. At this point Stephanie broke Sarah’s water upon her request. Sarah progressed fast and was dilated to a 9 only 25 mins later. Sarah began pushing at 6:50pm and pushed for 45 mins. Hayden was born at 7:27. Sarah had a long unmedicated childbirth. Hayden weighed 7lbs 4oz.”
Sarah Rainwater Bio
Sarah is 28 years old and is the owner of two large hot yoga studios located in Northern Arizona. She started her first business shortly after turning 25 and has learned a lot about being a woman in the fast paced world of business. Sarah and her husband Travis Rainwater collectively own 4 separate businesses and live a very busy lifestyle. Sarah and Travis met in 2008 and married in 2013. Sarah is now the mom to a wonderful, two month old baby boy named Hayden Troy Rainwater. Sarah loves being a mom and absolutely loved her natural childbirth experience. She has found a lot of joy in sharing her experience with new expecting mothers. Sarah and Travis look forward to continue growing their family and businesses.
This episode is sponsored by Sarah Wells Bags. With thoughtful functionality and chic styling, Sarah Wells offers breast pump bags and accessories to help you reach your breastfeeding goals. An all-in-one bag for your breast pump, pumping accessories, laptop, phone, and more, Sarah Wells Bags also transition to a diaper bag or purse when you’re done pumping. See the full collection, including the Pumparoo—a wet/dry bag and staging mat for pump parts at sarahwellsbags.com.
We are giving away two MheartM bags of the winner’s choice (navy, greige, or black-and-white) and there is also a promo code: BIRTHHOUR15, good for 15% off all orders at sarahwellsbags.com. Enter giveaway below!
This post is sponsored by Theralogix, makers of of the TheraNatal line of nutritional supplements. TheraNatal preconception vitamins contain all the nutrients you need to prepare your body for pregnancy, including folate and vitamin D. For women 35 and over, TheraNatal OvaVite also contains CoQ10. Use this link to get a discount of approximately 15% off your purchase and be sure to listen to my chat with Theralogix at the end of this episode about how their products support women with infertility issues.
Bringing Awareness to Infertility
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples or 15% of of couples in America according to the CDC. National Infertility Awareness Week strives to bring more attention to the struggle of infertility. At The Birth Hour we feature all types of pregnancy and birth stories and wanted to highlight some of our infertility stories this week.
Nancy and her husband went through cycle after cycle of IVF and eventually decided to use a surrogate to carry their first pregnancy. As fate would have it, Nancy became pregnant the same month that her surrogate got a positive pregnancy test. They welcomed two daughters within weeks of one another!
Alexandra Barretta is from Queens, NY. After struggling with infertility, she was able to get pregnant after several IUI’s and 2 IVF’s. Her son was born 6 weeks early due to a placental abruption via c-section.
4. Surprise Pregnancy at 33 Weeks Birth Story
Phuoa and her husband had been trying to conceive for 5 years and she had put getting pregnant towards the back of her mind. She actually didn’t realize she was pregnant until she took a test after noticing a linea negra and by the time she went in to get her ultrasound found out she was 33 weeks along and her baby was born premature the very next week!
Kate is a 35 year old Type 1 Diabetic, diagnosed at the age of 25. She’s insulin dependent, and uses a medtronic insulin pump and glucose sensor to manage her blood glucose. She was categorized with unexplained infertility and after 5 years of trying, conceived a baby through IVF. She was only able to transfer one embryo at a time to prevent the risk of carrying more than one baby as a Type 1 Diabetic. Their third (and last) embryo took, and she now has a beautiful baby boy!
When Tiffany’s sister-in-law had to have a hysterectomy after a postpartum hemorrhage with her first birth, Tiffany almost immediately offered to be their surrogate for a future child. After some time passed and lots of planning and discussion, they decided to go down the path of surrogacy with Tiffany carrying her brother and sister-in-laws next child. It turned out to be two babies instead of one and soon Tiffany was pregnant with their twin boys!
After multiple methods and attempts at getting pregnant the best diagnosis doctors could give Sarah was “unexplained infertility.” While her infertility journey has been incredibly frustrating, especially being unexplained, Sarah never gave up her dream of becoming a mom. And after almost 9 years of infertility, a miracle happened; her and her husband were blessed with two beautiful twin baby girls through the amazing gift of a gestational carrier.
Marissa Lawton discusses getting pregnant with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and dealing with fertility treatments and the anxiety she dealt with about infertility, about whether a fertilized egg would be viable, how many babies she would carry and whether her baby would be healthy throughout her pregnancy.