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
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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.
After years of hoping and praying for a baby, Camille was amazed to find her infertility treatments had finally worked—she was actually pregnant! In this episode, she shares her story and talks about how much love she and her husband experienced as they grew together in the pain of longing for a baby. She discusses how after years of disappointments, infertility overshadowed many joys and experiences in letting her pregnancy be real. Ultimately, she and her husband were able to find joy through the ups and downs of pregnancy complications, and expand their love through the birth of their miracle baby.
Connect with Camille on Instagram or her blog Friday We’re in Love where she shares creative dates with her husband and story of finding love again after loss faced another hardship.
This episode is sponsored by Theralogix, makers of the TheraNatal line of nutritional supplements. TheraNatal supplements are specifically formulated to meet a woman’s unique nutrient needs before, during, and after pregnancy. 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. All TheraNatal vitamins are dye-free, gluten-free, and cost less than the typical insurance co-pay. Use this link to get a discount of approximately 15% off your purchase and enter our $250 giveaway below!
When surrogate, Ashley, measured large at her 38 week check, the decision was made to induce her at 39 weeks. Intended parents Nancy and Justin flew from Chicago to Utah, where their surrogate Ashley was set to deliver. Only three days later, they were all together in a labor and delivery room as Ashley was induced with a drip of Pitocin. While labor progressed uneventfully in the beginning, pushing lasted hours as baby Audrey’s head was very large and stuck. Following nearly four hours of pushing, and close to being prepared for a c-section, baby Audrey was born on a strong push at 10:21 pm. Nancy, her intended mother, cut Audrey’s cord and immediately took her into her arms for skin-to-skin bonding as feelings of gratefulness and awe washed over her.
Nancy Rohde Bio
Over three years of infertility treatments and three different doctors told Nancy that she would never be able to conceive a child. Heartbroken, she and her husband turned to surrogacy. Quickly matched with a surrogate, they were further crushed when she experienced a chemical pregnancy and lost the baby before a heartbeat could be detected. Finding it too difficult to move forward, the surrogate abruptly exited their agreement to attempt another transfer.
Feeling hopeless, Nancy and her husband decided to try more IVF attempts on Nancy while searching for another surrogate. Two further IVF transfers resulted in negative pregnancy tests while they were matched with their second surrogate, Ashley. While proceeding with legal and medical clearance for Ashley, Nancy tried one final IVF cycle. To her complete shock, it resulted in her first positive pregnancy test ever. Scared about losing the baby after so many struggles, and thrilled to have finally been matched with Ashley as their surrogate, Nancy and her husband decided to proceed with the surrogate pregnancy as well. Exactly five weeks after Nancy became pregnant, her surrogate Ashley became pregnant as well. Both babies were carried to 39 weeks and were born healthy and happy.
Today Nancy lives in Chicago with her husband and two precious daughters. Lilly is 11 months old, and Audrey is 10 months old. Nancy works in the investment management industry as an equity manager researcher when she isn’t at home doting on her miracle babies. Nancy also blogs under the name “Mrs. Starfish” on the pregnancy and parenting blog Hellobee.com. She has written extensively there about her infertility journey, her amazing surrogacy experience, and her current crazy and wonderful life with multiples! Read more from Nancy at Hellobee.
Ashley Brown Bio
Growing up a Navy brat, Ashley lived several different places; but she calls Washington home. It is there she met and married her husband, Josh. After marrying, they moved to Hawaii to continue their college educations. Ashley graduated from BYU-Hawaii with a Bachelors of Social Work. Just a few months before graduation, Josh and Ashley happily welcomed their first child. Upon completion of her internship and after much discussion they settled in Utah, where they had two more children. During the time after graduation and growing their family, Ashley went back and forth between being a stay-at-home Mom and a working Mom. Once she felt they were done having children of their own, Ashley turned to surrogacy with the support of her husband. Ashley currently works as a teaching assistant at a local elementary school.
This episode is sponsored by WavHello. BellyBuds by WavHello are adhesive speakers that gently adhere to mom’s baby bump. BellyBuds help reduce stress, stimulate early development, and promote positive connectivity in the brain through music. Nancy and her husband recorded themselves reading stories for their surrogate to play for their daughter throughout the pregnancy, which helped them bond with their baby, even from states away!
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. The C section recovery was very difficult, so she knew she definitely wanted to attempt a VBAC for her second pregnancy. She was told not to get her hopes up about having a VBAC by her high-risk doctors; but, she successfully delivered her daughter via VBAC after challenging the on call doctor at the hospital that morning. Connect with Alexandra on Instagram.
This episode is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow helps new and pregnant moms to 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!
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