Natural Hospital Births in Puerto Rico & Guam


the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Giving Birth in Puerto Rico

Anjelica gave birth to her first daughter while living abroad on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Though she originally wanted to deliver with a midwife, she had to make adjustments based on her location’s cultural norms and her Spanish language barrier. Anjelica’s story takes some crazy turns that involve driving two-hours to the hospital, her husband paying for a private labor room while she was in labor, and her doula almost delivering their baby. As she shares what birth is like for many women on the island we get an idea of what it takes for some women outside the continental U.S. to achieve a low-intervention vaginal birth.
having a baby in guam

Giving Birth in Guam

Anjelica gave birth to her second daughter on another lush island, Guam. This time around she was able to have a midwife provider like she’d hoped for the first time, but experienced other hurdles that came along with being a military spouse and mother of a busy toddler. Anjelica’s story quickly gets interesting as she realizes she’s in labor while her husband is in the middle of running a half-marathon.

Anjelica Malone Bio

Anjelica Malone lives in Santa Rita, Guam and is the mother of two little island girls, the wife of a U.S. Coast Guard service member, a Lactation Educator Counselor, and the author of book Milk Boss 101. She enjoys traveling with her family and blogging about motherhood, culture, and sustainable living. You can find out more about Anjelica and her global life at www.AnjelicaMalone.com and follow her adventures on Instagram at @AnjelicaMalone.

Resources

Birth Becomes Her

Today’s episode was brought to you by Birth Becomes Her, which seeks to inspire both expectant parents and birth professionals. On birthbecomesher.com they share new birth photo stories each week from some of the greatest birth photographers across the world. Birth Becomes Her’s mission is to inspire you as an artist, and encourage you as a parent. Birth is a process of strength, of determination, and of beauty. And through the sharing of birth photography, Birth Becomes Her shows every part of the journey. Use coupon code BIRTHHOUR to get 20% off anything in the Birth Becomes Her shop including birth photography presets, contracts, toolkits, and more!

earth-mama-herbal-bath

Netherlands Homebirth & U.S. Homebirth

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Giving Birth in the Netherlands then the U.S.

Stephanie was living in the Netherlands when she found out she was pregnant and went to what she thought was a birth at home OB office like everyone else she knew had done. Turned out that in the Netherlands if you were a low-risk pregnant mama you automatically saw midwives and you had the option to have your birth at home attended by midwives or at the hospital attended by midwives. Stephanie initially made plans to have a hospital birth but eventually changed courses towards the end of her pregnancy.

precipitous birth

Her first labor was a precipitous birth and baby arrived in less than 3 hours, she describes it as a very intense experience that she wasn’t at all expecting. After her initiation into midwifery care and homebirth, she knew she would give birth at home with her next baby even though she was living in the U.S. by then. Both of her births contributed to her desire to become a doula and childbirth educator.

Stephanie Spitzer-Hanks Bio

Stephanie is a mom to two energetic kids, wife to a supportive doula-husband (which is a special breed of husband, for sure), and owner of revdoula, a business focused on supporting new parents in birth and early postpartum. She is also an ordained minister who likes to geek out about theology and birth on her blog. I met Stephanie through the Babymoon Retreat and fell in love with her approach to childbirth education. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Heart2Heart Store

heart 2 heart store

This episode was sponsored by Heart2Heart Store. Heart2Heart is a mama owned shop that provides Birth Affirmation and birth support products for expecting women and the doulas, midwives, and birth workers that care for them. Visit www.heart2heartstore.com and use coupon code THEBIRTHHOUR to save 20% on your order over $20!

Resources

evidencebasedbirth.com

Expecting Better

Vaginal Breech & “Walking Epidural” Hospital Births

Vaginal Breech in Bermuda and “Walking Epidural” in Luxembourg

Rachelle O’Neil was living in Bermuda when she was pregnant with her son. She went to the hospital to be induced 7 days after her due date, and 20 min before her son arrived the doctor realized it was his hip coming out rather than his head! Everything went smoothly and she was so happy that she delivered a breech baby vaginally rather than by csection. Rachelle also shares her second birth for which she was living in Luxembourg. She had planned to have a natural birth and although she ended up with a “walking epidural”, she describes it as an amazing euphoric experience. Connect with her on Instagram @roinlux.

Resources

Pushed

Ina May Gaskin

Birth Story Film

Sponsored by WavHello

bellybuds

BellyBuds by WavHello are adhesive speakers that gently adhere to a pregnant womb. BellyBuds help relax and reduce stress, stimulate early development and promote positive connectivity in the brain through music.

Learn more about BellyBuds and their 20 Weeks to Bliss to have a happier and healthier pregnancy at WavHello. Connect with Erica Ziel at Knocked Up Fitness and EricaZiel.com.

Planned Induction Hospital Birth Stories


the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

Three Hospital Births living in Rural Area of Australia

Today’s birth story guest shares all three of her birth stories, which took place in hospitals. She talks about her baby’s shoulders getting stuck with her second birth, and of how her doctor gave her the option of being induced a week early or having a cesarean with her third baby, which really scared her. She chose induction and ended up stalling out during labor, and she was prepped for a c section but as they were wheeling her into the operating room, she felt the urge to push and her baby was born!

induction birth story

Felicity Taylor Bio

Felicity lives with her husband and three little children, in a country town called Forbes, in NSW Australia where they moved three years ago to help plant a church. Their hearts are very much for extending a hand where needed in their community. She and her husband run their own mechanics business from home and also have a little candle business where Felicity makes and sells beeswax candles. She loves writing, especially about their crazy lives as parents and all the adventures that involves, which led her to begin a blog two years ago called the The Taylor Tale.

Afton Socks

afton-socks

Listen to my discussion with the co-founder of Afton Socks as well as Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper!) at the end of this episode. Afton Socks is a doctor-owned brand dedicated to making fun, patterned compression socks to help mothers keep their circulation in good health. Afton socks are ethically crafted in Italy, certified to be free of harmful chemicals, and come in a range of fun designs that don’t look anything like traditional compression socks! We are doing a giveaway over on Instagram and Facebook where 3 people will win a pair of Afton Socks! Afton is also offering a 15% off code + free shipping with the code BIRTHHOUR.

Empowering Epidural Hospital Birth in Spain

the birth houron itunes

the birth hour on stitcher

 Pregnancy and Birth in Spain

Lola worked during most of her pregnancy and walked 6 km a day. She was quite scared about going into labor, so they chose a doctor who really made her feel confident about herself. The doctor they chose had a reputation of standing back during most of the delivery and letting things follow their natural course, unless there is a complication, where he steps in if needed. Another important factor that made things easier was that the hospital was only a 3 minute walk away from their apartment. Lola loves sharing her birth experience because it was empowering and often epidural births aren’t told in that manner.

giving birth in spain

Lola Bio

Lola was born in Washington, D.C. to a Spanish Mom and American Dad. She grew up in the States for most of her childhood, but her family moved to Barcelona, Spain and most of her teenage years were spent in Barcelona. She’s currently working as an English teacher in Barcelona, and really loves her job! She lives with her partner who is from the Basque country—part of mid-north Spain with its own language and very singular and amazing culture.

Lola is 39 years old and was very unsure of becoming a mom because she had a difficult childhood. After having some years of therapy she felt ready to overcome her fears and they started trying. Lola got pregnant for the first time when she was 37 but unfortunately lost the baby early on. They kept on trying and got pregnant again 7 months after that. Her pregnancy with baby Julen was amazing and she felt energized, healthy, strong and confident. All feelings that haven’t always been a part of her life. You can connect with Lola on Instagram via  @whatever.lola or @daniel_durall.

Boba Baby Carriers

boba wrap

Be sure to listen to my interview with Amelia Barnes about her experience using a Boba Wrap and Boba structured carrier with her daughter Lily! Check out my blog post over on the Boba blog!

Surprise Homebirth in Japan + Great Hospital Birth

Accidental Homebirth in Japan & a Positive Hospital Birth

Brooke Bland has had three completely different birth experiences: a long and laborious hospital birth that looked much different than she’d hoped and planned for, a much shorter accidental homebirth while living in Japan on deployment, and a planned hospital birth, due to potential health concerns with the baby, that turned out lovelier than she could have imagined. In this episode she focuses mostly on her surprise homebirth in Japan and then her next birth, which took place at a hospital due to her baby’s heart being on the “wrong side.” Her baby ended up being totally fine and Brooke shares how wonderful the entire hospital birth experience was for her.

Brooke Bland Bio

Brooke is currently living in Everett, WA with her husband and three children, ages 4, 2, and 7 months.  She is a speech pathologist by trade but has put that on hold to stay home with her little people.  She loves all things birth and baby, traveling the world, eating at new restaurants, and spends way too much time dreaming of remodeling homes.

giving-birth-in-japan

Birth and Postpartum Resources

Kellymom
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
A film about The Farm Midwives and Ina May Gaskin
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth
Birth/Life coaching Resource

Podcast Episode Transcript

[Bryn Huntpalmer]: Today’s guest is Brooke Bland, who has had three births, but today she’s going to be focusing on two of them. One was a surprise homebirth while she was living in Japan, and the most recent one was a hospital birth, which was a really positive experience. She focuses on that aspect of it, which is really great to hear. Hi, Brooke welcome to The Birth Hour! Thanks so much for being here today to share your birth stories with us.

[Brooke Bland]: My pleasure! I’m so honored to be here. It’s been a pleasure listening to your podcast. You’ve kept me company many an hour while I’ve been painting and things like that, so it’s such a pleasure to share my story here. I’m a total birth junkie.

[BH]: Oh, great! Well you’re in good company.

[BB]: Yeah!

[BH]: Let’s start off by having you tell us a little bit about you and your family.

[BB]: My name is Brooke and I have been married to my husband Chris for ten years. We have three children: Hadley, who is four and a half, Miles, who is two and a half, and Porter who is just about to be eight months. Currently, we live in Washington state. My husband’s in the military, so we’ve bounced all over the place. All of the children have been born in different places, so that’s always added an extra layer of complexity to trying to plan a birth.

[BH]: Have you always been under the military care with your pregnancies? I don’t know how that works, actually.

[BB]: Yeah. Well, it’s been a little bit different every place. The first birth I was in Philadelphia, and there are no military facilities around there, so I was in town at a regular hospital. My second birth was in Yokosuka, Japan and could have chosen to be out in town, but I chose to plan to be at the military hospital on base. Then the third, we were here in Everett, Washington, and again, there’s no military hospital close enough to me, so I was at just at the regular hospital here in town.

[BH]: Gotcha. Well, I’m excited to hear a little bit about each birth. I think we’re gonna maybe focus a little bit more on the second one ‘cause it was very unique circumstances (chuckles).

[BB]: It was (chuckles).

[BH]: So, why don’t we talk a little bit about that pregnancy, and how your first birth was affecting the planning that you had in mind for that second birth.

[BB]: As I mentioned, we were in Japan for my second birth. We lived off base in a Japanese home in a very quiet Japanese neighborhood. I had planned for my first birth to be an unmedicated, hospital birth, and that did not go how I had planned. So for the second birth, again, I was planning an unmedicated, hospital birth on base in Japan. For my first birth, I had taken the classes at the hospital, sort of the natural non-medicated birth class, and again, that was the the plan for the first birth. But then, for the second one, I just felt like I wanted to do some extra preparation. It just happened to be that we were well timed with a friend in Japan, who’s also a hypnobirthing instructor, so Chris and I decided to take hypnobirthing classes. Again, I really wanted an unmedicated birth the second go-round. We took hypnobirthing classes through her, and we did some extra preparation for that. We then tried to have a really well thought out and well discussed birth plan with the hospital staff, the midwives, and everyone at the hospital.

[BH]: Did you talk to them about your first birth and some of the things you did or didn’t want to go the same way?

[BB]: Definitely. You know some things couldn’t necessarily be controlled. For example, with my first child I did not feel any contractions before my water broke. My water broke at 41 weeks, in the middle of the night, and there was meconium in the fluid. I didn’t realize how much that was going to have an impact on my whole birth experience with her. As soon as I got to the hospital with Hadley, my first child, they said you know you’re gonna have to be on continuous monitoring and you know you can’t do delayed cord clamping and you’ve risked out of the birth center. Sort of all of the things I was really hoping for immediately went out the window. The meconium couldn’t really be controlled, but for the second birth, I just knew I wanted to really prepare myself well for a long labor. My labor with her ended up being 27 hours, so I just wanted to be mentally prepared for another long labor… and then it didn’t happen that way… so (chuckles) that was a nice surprise.

[BH]: So, how were you feeling towards the end of that pregnancy with your second? Did you go late again or…?

[BB]: Well, I was feeling really good. Thankfully, I’ve felt really good in all of my pregnancies. Again, we were in Japan. My husband, just his job there… he was under way a lot of the time, so he was in and out, and really gone more than he was home. I knew that I wanted to plan again to have a doula with me, just in case he wasn’t there when I went into labor. And sure enough, that’s how things happened. So, my first daughter I went to 41 weeks and a day. My husband was on deployment when I was due with my second child, my son, and he had gotten permission to come back home early from deployment. We thought, “Okay, well first child was born at 41 weeks, surely if he comes home at 39 weeks, that will be plenty of time for him to come home before the baby is born.” And you know, babies just have a mind of their own, and that was not enough time. He was flying home from Australia and ended up calling me on Skype before he left. As soon as he saw my face, he’s like “Oh no! You’re in labor, aren’t you?” And I said, “Yes I am.” So, he at least knew that he was potentially going to land in Japan with a baby having already arrived, which is what ended up happening (laughs).

[BH]: Oh my gosh.

[BB]: Yeah, that’s one of the the things of the Navy that I thought, “Okay, I will never have a missed birth”, but we actually have ticked that off now, as well.

[BH]: Did you have your doula come over once you started noticing that labor was getting started?

[BB]: I did. I was really in denial. I think the day before I had had some contractions in the morning, and I said “Okay, well let me rest and drink some water and see if I can get them to stop”, which I did. On this particular morning, that Wednesday, I again was having some contractions and laid down on the couch and drank some water and tried to make them go away. They weren’t going away and I called my friend and doula, and was just sort of keeping her in the loop about what was going on. She was actually on her way to the airport to pick up her mother-in-law. She kept saying, “Do you want me to come over? Are you ready for me to come over?” and I kept saying, “No, no, no! I’m not in labor!” In hindsight, and talking to her about the whole thing, I guess at some point I said, “Every time I stand up I have a contraction”. She said, “Okay!” and asked her husband, “Okay, pull over and let me off at the nearest train station.” Even though I was still saying “No, no, don’t come over”, she was already making her way back to me because she knew better than I, that I was really in the active labor, and it was not going to go away.

[BH]: Did you plan to labor at home for as long as possible, just to kind of try to avoid some of the interventions that you had the first time?

[BB]: I did, yes. I had planned to labor at home. So, my doula came over and she helped get my then two-year-old off to our best friend’s house for a little slumber party. She had a young son at the time, so she eventually had him picked up and taken back home, to their home, and we were just laboring at the house. The plan was to labor there until I sort of felt like it was time to to go to the hospital. At some point I said to her, “So do you think I’ll know when it’s time to go to the hospital?” and she said, “Well, you know, most women have a feeling about when it’s time to head that direction”. In hindsight, I guess I didn’t have that feeling (chuckles).

[BH]: So, how did that go? Let’s just keep going with the story.

[BB]: Yeah, so I was just laboring at the house. When I labor… I pretty much close my eyes when labor starts, and I don’t open them until the baby has arrived, so I’m just really in another world when I am laboring. So, I was just in the zone, laboring at the house. I was not feeling any pressure or anything that would really give me an indication that it was time. Again, my first labor was 27 hours in total, and four hours of pushing, so I just thought I had a while. I probably had been in active labor at that point for, I don’t know, six, maybe seven, hours from the time that I really realized that I was in labor for sure. I had been been moving, around changing positions. I’d been trying to go to the bathroom regularly. I heard and read it’s important to keep emptying my bladder so that the baby doesn’t get caught up by a full bladder. So, at some point I said, “Okay, well it’s been a little while since I’ve been to the bathroom. Let’s try to to go there, and then I can labor some more.” We went to the bathroom, and I sat down and I started to pee and all of a sudden my water broke super forcefully. She very calmly said, “Okay, well I think it’s probably time to head to the hospital now” and I said, “I don’t think we’re gonna make it”. And again, she very calmly said, “Well, you know, let’s at least try”. In hindsight, I’m sure she was thinking, “Okay, I’m sure we have a little bit of time”. I reached down and I could feel the baby’s head and I said, “We’re not gonna make it.” At that point she could hear in my voice that I was pushing, and was like, “You’re right, we’re not going to make it.” Literally three pushes and in less than five minutes – it happened so fast. I could feel his head, and then I pushed and his head came out. I’m saying, “I don’t think I can catch the baby”, because I’m still sitting on the toilet at that stage, and she said, “We’ll catch the baby, don’t worry, we’ll catch the baby”. It was just a blur because it happened so fast. I pushed one more time, and he arrived, and we did catch the baby and I sat back down. It was just such a surreal experience. I have always heard about the fetal ejection reflex, and just thinking “Does that really exist?” But it does. I could not have stopped pushing if I wanted to. He just literally was coming and there’s nothing to be done about it. So yeah, I just sat back down in the toilet and I was sort of laughing hysterically. The other thing that you hear about, but don’t know if it’s real, is you hear people talk about the feedback loop of birth is not interrupted… how after birth, women just feel euphoric and amazing, and I always thought, “Could that really be the case?” because I felt so physically terrible after my first birth for a long time. But after this, I seriously felt like the biggest rock star. I felt amazing! Just thinking about it makes me laugh now, because I just… I did. I felt so amazing and on top of the world and I’m just laughing saying, “I just had a baby, at home, and it’s a boy!” We didn’t know if it was a boy or girl, we’d always wait to be surprised, so I was predicting another girl based on literally nothing, and it was a boy. Just the whole thing (chuckles), it was just mind-blowing; it was amazing. I would never plan to have an unattended birth. I love midwives and totally believe in what they do and would always choose to have one with me, but thankfully, everything here ended up going well. It just ended up being my perfect unplanned birth. Yeah, it was amazing (chuckles).

[BH]: So, what happened next? Did you just stay home with the baby at that point?

[BB]: I did. I’m sure that this sounds crazy, but the idea of calling an ambulance never crossed my mind. Like I said, I was just over the moon and I think my doula and I were both just sort of in this birth euphoria. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but it was just such an amazing, empowering moment. The thought of an ambulance or something, it just literally never crossed my mind. So, we just sort of started to get cleaned up, and she actually went ahead immediately and called the hospital and said, “I’m here with Brooke, she just had a baby.” It was the fastest phone call ever. They were just sort of like “Okay!” and hung up the phone.

[BH]: Because you didn’t have a birth kit with my cord clamp and stuff like that…?

[BB]: Right! No, no. We had nothing (chuckles). It was just really funny; I’d like worked really hard to clean the house because my husband was coming home for the first time in two months and I hadn’t gotten to the floors. Then so here I end up having a baby at home, the house is a complete disaster. My doula had made two piles of things that we had used during this whole process: things you may be able to salvage and things that you should just throw in the trash. So, he just came home to total chaos; so no, we had no birth kit. No, nothing. I’m into crafting and sewing, and she’s like, “Okay, so do you have some yarn? And where are some really good scissors?” I delivered the placenta pretty much right after the baby. I know some women talk about that like a major, like having a second birth basically, but for some reason, the placenta for me is like been a non-event; it just like comes out and it is over. So, that had already arrived. She went and got some yarn and tied it off in two places and cut the cord. I tend to not think about eating when I’m in labor. We were all a hot mess at that point, so we were just trying to get washed off and me eat something. Again, we were just both sort of rehashing the whole thing and just like, “That was the craziest, most amazing experience ever. I can’t believe that just happened!” Well my bag wasn’t packed; again, I was not expecting a baby for another week or two – so we tried to throw some things in a bag and just sort of think like, “Okay do we put clothes on the baby, I guess?” and then, “Do we really put the baby in the car seat?” Just the whole thing, it was so backwards that we didn’t quite know what to do. So we did – we put clothes on the baby, put the baby in the car seat, and then eventually made our way to the hospital. At some point along the line, they had started calling, like “Where are you, where are you, where are you?” We did eventually make our way to the hospital to get everybody checked out.

[BH]: So, was that just like a newborn exam and checking you and…?

[BB]: Mm-hmm… it was.

[BH]: Getting a birth certificate I guess… (laughing). I don’t know how that works in Japan when you accidentally give birth at home.

[BB]: (laughing) We went in; by the time we got there, he was a little bit chilly, so they put him on the warmer while they were checking me out. It was really funny to arrive after the main event. The OB on call was a little bit flustered and was like, “Ah, so I guess let’s give you a hep-lock…” and I was like, “Why? I’ve already had the baby for hours and now you’re gonna? Like it’s already done?” And she’s like, “Ahhh.” So, we went with no hep-lock, and again, I was just over the moon and on a total high. And she’s checking me out and I’m saying, “I feel so amazing, I don’t even think I need stitches!” and she’s like, “Ahh, you’re probably gonna want to stitch her too so…” (laughing). I did in the end, need stitches, too. So they just checked him out, got him a little bit warmer, checked me out – and you mentioned the birth certificate. That was a… very interesting experience. Since I did not have him at the hospital, they would not sign off on a birth certificate, basically because nobody had seen me give birth to him, and no one was willing to put their name on that piece of paper. Instead, we had to go out in town to the Japanese system and navigate that, which was very interesting. I speak about ten words of Japanese, which is basically to say “I’m sorry”, “I don’t understand”, “Do you speak English?”, and so that was not very helpful in getting this very long, detailed process accomplished. Thankfully, I had another American military wife, who is Japanese and speaks Japanese, and she was sweet enough to come along with us multiple times and helped us navigate at City Hall. It was a very long process of my friend and doula having to be interviewed and asked a long list of questions by herself, and then my husband and I needing to be asked a bunch of questions all by ourselves. We sort of laugh and said it was like an interrogation, but in the end, they did issue us a certificate of live birth that we could take and get passports and all of that jazz. All’s well that ends well, but yes, it was a long, interesting process – not your typical, easy peasy, ‘just get a birth certificate’ kind of process.

[BH]: Yeah, do they even really have homebirths in Japan, that you know of?

[BB]: Well, yes, you can do a homebirth. Actually, a good friend of mine there who was the Le Leche League leader there, that I got really close to, she planned to have a homebirth. Her actual house was just right around the corner from mine in this Japanese neighborhood. She planned to have a homebirth, and she did indeed have a homebirth with Japanese midwives. That’s the thing, if you wanted a homebirth there in Japan, you had to go with Japanese midwives. Nobody on base would come out to your house.

[BH]: Wow, so it sounds like, despite like a lot of surprises, you felt really awesome about that birth.

[BB]: I did, yes. Again, it was totally different from my first birth, and it was so amazing. Yeah, it just was such, such a departure from my first birth and everything went exactly the way that I would have hoped that it would have gone. It was really fast and again, it was such an empowering experience. When you hear people talk about birth, that’s just such a frequently used word and I totally agree with that. After having him in that way, I felt like I can do anything. I’ve definitely revisited that time and time again. Like I can do hard work, and it can be really hard, and just turnout in such an awesome way. It is just such an empowering experience, so it was amazing.

[BH]: How did you feel emotionally afterwards about not having had your husband there with you?

[BB]: It’s funny, he and I have talked ad nauseam about this over the years. We both agree, that if he could have been there, that certainly would have been both of our first choices. He’s been a great birth partner. It’s funny, though. Actually, our third baby, it’s the only one that he’s been there from start to finish. For the second one, he missed entirely, and the first one he missed the first part, as he was a couple of hours away doing some training. He made it there for the majority of the 27 hours. He’s been such a great birth partner that my first choice, of course, would have been for him to be there for the whole thing. But, in his absence, this was like the absolute best Plan B. Basically, again, it just seemed like such a… I don’t know, I hate to use all the cliche words, but just such a primal empowering, he always says ‘woman power’, kind of thing. It was such an intimate experience with myself and my doula, just in the way that it turned out. If he couldn’t have been there, this is the perfect second choice.

[BH]: Great. Well, we have some time, if you want to go ahead and we can get into your most recent birth story.

[BB]: Okay, yeah.

[BH]: After having had your accidental homebirth, when you found out you were pregnant with your third… let’s talk about what type of birth you planned for. I mean, did you want to have another homebirth, since that one went so well? Or did you go back to the hospital?

[BB]: When I got pregnant the next time, we were in Norfolk, Virginia. So you know, another baby, another town. Actually, I got pregnant a third time and I was really excited they actually do water births there, which is what I’ve always said I wanted. I had never been anywhere previously that sort of quote-unquote “allowed” water births. You could labor in the water, but you could not have the baby in the water. But in Norfolk, they had a birth center in the hospital and you could choose to have the baby in the water if you wanted to and if everything was going okay. So, I got pregnant in September, and then ended up having a miscarriage with that baby at about 7 or 8 weeks. Thankfully, I was able to get pregnant again a couple months later, with my now third baby. We’re still in Norfolk, still planning to be in Norfolk the entire time, so I was super excited and pumped about going to get my water birth, hopefully, if all went well. So, we made it past those first early weeks and we sort of thought, “Okay, great! We’ve made it past that early time, now we’re in the homestretch.” Which you know thankfully would head to… we had two healthy babies prior to that, but we went for our 20 week ultrasound and just expected everything to be as it had been the previous two times. The ultrasound tech said at the end, “Well, I have some concerns and I need to speak with the OB about them.” So, she steps out of the room, and of course we were just immediately saying, “What could it be? Do you think she saw all the parts? We definitely saw the heartbeat, but what is it that she’s concerned about?” The OB came back in and said that the baby’s heart was on the opposite side of his chest, not pointing in the direction that they would be expecting, and that they had some concerns about the aortic arch, that he had echogenic bowels, and that the umbilical cord was a two vessel cord instead of the typical three. Of course, I had a million questions, and she did not have very many answers as to what that could mean… if it could be a syndrome or a trisomy. She didn’t really have any idea, so we had to wait the longest week and a half of our lives to get an appointment with a maternal-fetal medicine group. They always tell you, “don’t Google any conditions or concerns”, but of course, when you’re just waiting, and you have so little information, it’s hard to not do that. The possibility, based on my Google research, could have been anything from something minor – maybe some digestive issues or some very minor heart defects – or the opposite extreme, where it could be a fatal flaw, where the baby may not make it to term or may not live to see his or her first birthday. Needless to say, it was a very long week and a half, but we carried on and saw the maternal-fetal medicine group. The maternal-fetal medicine doctor said that in 95% of the cases of dextrocardia – which is what it’s called when the heart is on the opposite side of the chest – there is some other accompanying defect, be it small or large. But in 5% of the cases, the heart is literally just on the opposite side, and it’s just a difference, not a defect. She said she’s read about that 5%, but she’d never seen it in real life. She said our baby, miracle of all miracles, was in that 5%, and that she couldn’t find anything else wrong that his heart, just that it was on the opposite side of his chest. So, in speaking with the midwives there, that also risks me out of the birth center, so we were not going to be able to have waterbirth, which I was, and still am, hoping for someday. I was due in September, but at the end of May, my husband found out that his orders had him transferring right away, so we ended up moving out here, to Everett, Washington. It’s always hard finding a provider in the first place that you trust and that you feel comfortable with, and so then swapping so late in my pregnancy, especially with all these other things going on, and not knowing how this baby was going to tolerate labor, and even later into pregnancy… I was really nervous about all of that. But, I got here and got in to see the midwives and it just it could not have been a better experience. All of the midwives in the midwifery group were amazing, and just very attentive, but not overly cautious. They are not sort of alarmist, if you will. They seemed really concerned in Norfolk about the two vessel cord, and that that was going to immediately mean that I needed continuous monitoring in labor, and all of those things that had gone on with my first birth. It sounded like maybe it was going to be a repeat of that, but the midwives here just said, “You know you’re healthy, and the baby is looking healthy, and right now there’s no reason to expect anything other than a normal, healthy delivery. So, we’ll just continue to keep monitoring things here.” Maternal-fetal medicine here wanted to see me weekly at the end of my pregnancy, so I was on pretty much a first-name basis with the nurses in triage. When I finally came in with this baby – because of my at-home birth, unplanned at-home birth with the second, and also this baby’s health complications – we knew we wanted to get in sooner, rather than later. So this time, Chris was here, start to finish! I started to have some real contractions, probably around midnight or 12:30, and this time again, I went all the way to 41 weeks. I guess that 39 week baby was a fluke. So, all the way to 41 weeks, and started having some contractions. Around 2:00 in the morning, we sent a text to the woman who had so kindly agreed to come watch our children. That’s one tricky thing in the military – sometimes you have friends in the city you’re moving too, and sometimes you don’t. And so here we’d moved late in my pregnancy, and we didn’t have friends or family here, but had two children already, and it’s like, “So, what do we do with our children when we come to the hospital to have this baby?” The midwives were super lovely, and said, “Well, you know, if you have to bring your older two children, you have to bring your older two children.” That was at least something we had in our back pocket, if all else failed. But, a super-sweet friend agreed to new, brand new, friends and said, “Call me at any time of the night!” and so sure enough, we called her at 2:00 in the morning and she came over and hung out with our sleeping older children while we went to the hospital. We got there, got checked in, and I was about six or seven centimeters dilated, and they said, “Okay, well how do you feel about a hep-lock?” and I said, “Not good, I don’t really want one.” And then the nurse said, “Have you talked about it with your midwife?” and I said, “Yes, we’ve discussed this at length.” She said, “Okay, great, I thought you might say that.” They sent me on up to my room, and at some point while I was laboring up there, I said, “Okay, I’m gonna go to the bathroom” and the nurse, because she’d read my files, was like, “Do not have a baby on the toilet. Go to the bathroom and come out, you are not allowed to hang out in there!” [chuckling] I think she was afraid of a second baby on the toilet, but I went in and came out. By the time we got to the hospital, I probably labored about two hours in the room there, and towards the end my midwife had checked me and said, “You know, you’re right there. The baby’s right there. I’ve bet if I break your water, the baby’s going to come right away.” And I’m like, “Don’t break my water!” I think just because things did not go well with my first baby, and my water was broken early on – again nothing to do with anyone breaking it, it just broke on its own accord – but I’m like, “Don’t break my water! The baby will come when the baby comes!” And shortly thereafter, I felt like I needed to push and started pushing, and my water broke super forcefully and a push or two, and he was out. The midwife said, “Brooke, look!” and so I looked down, and here he came. Again, we didn’t know if he was a boy or girl, and it was another boy. He tolerated labor great, and there were no concerns. The midwife staff had some of the pediatricians there, just in case anything were to go awry or he were to have some difficulty right there at the end. They were attentive, but not overbearing. It was the perfect balance of making sure that we were in a medical facility, where if he needed some attention right away, he would be able to get it, but they just hung back and let me do my thing. It was pretty great.

[BH]: So, did you feel like you carried the stress of wondering if there was gonna be a medical issue with the baby when when he was born throughout the pregnancy?

[BB]: Yes and no. I think my immediate fears were alleviated. It sounded like they’d been able to rule out the fatal flaw option. Did we think that there could still be something going on? Certainly. But, she, the fetal cardiologist, was super thorough in her assessment of him at that second ultrasound. And, our faith plays a huge part in our lives and in our parenting. We just felt like we were both sort of at peace. The fetal cardiologist thinks that nothing is wrong, and we’re just trusting that God’s going to work this out in some way. Maybe that will look like a perfectly healthy baby, maybe that will look like something else, but we’re going to have faith in God’s sovereignty and in whatever the situation is. Again, as we went on in the pregnancy, something they were concerned about, because of the two vessel cord, was that intrauterine growth restriction could be a possibility. Also with the two vessel cord, they’re at a higher risk for stillbirth, so they were definitely really careful in monitoring me closely. We felt pretty good that that nothing was going to be majorly wrong and if there were some minor things going on, that that we would have a good game plan for those. Once he was born, he was fully evaluated by the fetal cardiologist here in Everett, and he got a clean bill of health. Right now he’s not even followed by anyone special, so we’re just so grateful and thankful for that.

[BH]: That’s wonderful.

[BB]: Mm-hmm.

[BH]: How did you feel about the birth experience as a whole, after having had three very different births?

[BB]: Mm-hmm. Really, it was amazing. I, as a birth junkie, hearing and reading, you know you can get really jaded in thinking that every hospital experience is ‘you’re in for this fight for the things that you want’ and ‘you’re in for a fight to hold off any sort of unnecessary intervention’, but I cannot speak highly enough of the whole medical team through my pregnancy and then my birth, even to the the nurses postpartum. They were just attentive and professional, but not overbearing, not trying to push any medical intervention that wasn’t warranted. I just again cannot speak highly enough about them. Even postpartum things, like you know, they have to come in and check you and check the baby, and they just really tried to do all of those things in the most minimally intrusive way possible. I want other people to take heart: every hospitals not out to get you or to rain on your birth plan. You definitely can have a supportive medical staff that is knowledgeable and is there for of all of those things, but is not going to fight you on every single thing. I think it’s really important to find a group that you feel comfortable with, that you can work as a team when actual birth arrives.

[BH]: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. Are there any resources that you found helpful during any of your pregnancies or postpartum?

[BB]: Certainly. You know, I’ve read lots of birth books over the years, and anything Ina May Gaskin, of course, is a good read. I’m pretty sure every person on your podcast has mentioned “The Business of Being Born”, so why stop that trend now? I, of course, have watched that, as well. After the fact, as far as nursing… I know can be such a difficult thing. With my daughter that was, you know… it’s just such a hard thing. You’re new to it, the baby is new to it. My lifesaver in that was the Kelly Mom website, at all hours of the night. That was just an easily accessible thing that I felt like was well backed up with research, and you could follow other links if you are still concerned or wanted to see the actual data that they were going on for their recommendations. So, that was a huge, huge help to me.

[BH]: Yeah, it’s like the Google of breastfeeding, but only like the helpful sides of Google, nothing too scary or misleading.

[BB]: Yeah, that’s a perfect way to describe it (chuckling).

[BH]: Thank you so much, Brooke, for sharing those stories with us. Is there a final message you’d like to leave with listeners today?

[BB]: The whole process of pregnancy and birth and parenthood… it is such a life altering, transformative thing. I just would recommend to anyone, whether it’s in birth, parenthood, is to find your tribe and the group that you’re comfortable with. Do your research, ask for advice, but at the end of the day, you are the expert on your body and your baby. I think mother’s intuition is a big deal and shouldn’t be ignored. Collect information and find a supportive group that supports you in pregnancy, supports you in birth, and then parenthood.Take all that and just sort of make the decision that you feel fits you and your family, your life. That’s not going to be the same decision for everybody.

[BH]: Yes, thank you for that. Did you want to share where people can connect with you online?

[BB]: I’m a not super connected online. I’m on Instagram – I normally do Instagram. I’m on Facebook, but I’m not often on there. People can find me on Facebook. I’m also on Skype, if anyone ever wants to Skype. Sort of one other thing I would say is, those early days of parenthood and breastfeeding, things that got me through that is having a really good support group. That was a variety of people and a variety of ways. I had, like I said, Kelly Mom in the middle of the night. There were friends that I could text and say, “This is really hard” and other friends that I could text and say, “Hey, you know, this is going on with my baby. I’m having this difficulty with nursing. Can you help me out?” and I’m just so grateful for those sort of moms who’ve gone before me that were available. I would be happy, for anyone that just like needs a person… you’re welcome to call or text me in the middle of the night. I’m happy to be your person and just say, “Yeah, this is hard, but it will get better, and you know what’s working or not working this week, it will be different the next week. Babies just change so quickly that you sometimes have to just hang in there.”

[BH]: I feel like the rise of texting is – I don’t even think it was quite there yet when I was having my babies, and my youngest is only two, almost three – I just think about it now, like how much I probably would have been texting in the middle night with other moms up nursing or whatever.

[BB]: That’s so true. It is such an easy way to connect with somebody in a way that’s sort of minimally intrusive, but you can still feel connected. You can still get some support. I would definitely say that reaching out via whatever means is comfortable for you and your group, is really good thing. Don’t do it alone.

[BH]: Thanks again, Brooke, for taking the time today to share your stories.

[BB]: My pleasure. It’s been a real treat.

[BH]: Thanks again, Brooke, for coming on and sharing your birth stories with us. If you want to connect with Brooke, you can head over to TheBirthHour.com and leave a comment for her on her show notes page. We also have a giveaway going this week, with a small business called Plum and Sparrow. They make these really beautiful, hand-woven African Moses baskets for babies. They’re big enough for toddlers and storing toys and things like that into. It’s a shop credit, so that you can get one of those, and you can find that link over on The Birth Hour show notes page or on my Instagram account, @thebirthhour. It’s a super easy entry of just your email address. If you want to connect with me, just head over to Instagram. I’m at @thebirthhour. Thanks so much for listening. If you enjoyed today’s show, head to TheBirthHour.com to sign up for our newsletter, and if you really like the show, please subscribe and leave a review in iTunes. I’m Bryn Huntpalmer, and you’ve been listening to another episode of The Birth Hour.