A Surrogacy Journey
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! In this episode Tiffany talks about the process of planning for this pregnancy, actually getting pregnant and finally giving birth to her brother’s babies! It’s a story of unconditional love and such a great listen!
Tiffany Burke Bio
Tiffany Burke is a full time photographer, and a mother of two boys, Holland who is 11 years old and Blakey who is 7 years old. She is married to her husband Sean, who works in the film industry. They live in Tacoma, Washington. Read more about her story on her Surrogacy Blog or connect with Tiffany on Instagram and Facebook.
Surrogacy Website Recommended by Tiffany
Successful Surrogacy: An Intended Parents’ Guide to a Rewarding Relationship With Their Surrogate Mother
Surrogacy Was the Way: Twenty Intended Mothers Tell Their Stories
The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children
BabyMoon Retreat – October 25-30, 2016
The Babymoon Retreat exists to bring joy and adventure back to preparing for baby. In this 5-day retreat, expecting couples get their last big hurrah together before baby arrives while also completing comprehensive preparation classes for birth, breastfeeding and baby care. Each day is balanced between classroom time as a group and unstructured evenings for couples to explore and enjoy Enchantment Resort on their own. It’s two birds with one very fabulous stone.
BabyMoon Retreat Giveaway
One VERY LUCKY listener of The Birth Hour will win the full BabyMoon Retreat package valued at $4990—enter the giveaway here before Sept. 5! There is also a special offer code for anyone interested in signing up for the retreat use code: birthhour to get $1000 off the price of the entire retreat! Hope to see some of you in Sedona!
The Journey of A Gestational Carrier Birth with Sarah Tuttle & Kara Ford
Today’s birth story podcast episode features Sarah Tuttle and her gestational carrier, turned great friend, Kara Ford. I had the chance to interview both of them and hear the story of how they found one another, how they made the decision to have Kara carry Sarah’s babies and the birth of Sarah and her husband, Chris’ sweet twin girls.
Sarah Tuttle Bio
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. Because of Kara (Sarah’s gestational carrier), Sarah’s dream of becoming a mom finally came true, and she will forever be grateful for this incredible gift.
The girls are now almost 8 months old and are so much fun! They keep Sarah very busy, not to mention her part time job. Sarah has worked for Dressing Your Truth for almost 10 years where she is a wardrobe stylist, and passionate teacher, helping women rediscover and embrace their true beauty. You can read more about Sarah’s journey to and through motherhood on her blog or on Instagram.
Kara Ford’s Bio
Kara Ford decided to become a gestational carrier because she was so blessed to be able to have children of her own and the love she has for her own children is so immense. She wanted that for everyone! She knew that there were women who were not able to carry a child for whatever reason and had so much compassion for them and wanted to be able to help them in any way she could. Kara felt that carrying a baby for someone was a way that she could show her love for those who have struggled. She met Sarah and knew immediately that she was somebody that was so deserving of being a mother and knew that she was to be the vessel that helped get her little twin girls here. She knows that she and Sarah will forever have a sacred bond.
Jesse Coulter’s Birth Center and Natural Twin Birth Stories
Today’s episode features Jesse Coulter who is going to share the birth stories of both her son, born at a birth center, and her twins who were born vaginally in a hospital. The twins’ birth story is fast and furious as they arrived before the hospital staff even had a chance to put the IV in Jesse.
Jesse Coulter is a wife and mom of a 3 year old boy and newborn boy/girl twins. She is a full-time marketing professional by day and blogger by night. She blogs at JesseCoulter.net about DIY projects, fashion, marriage, motherhood, travel and more.
Jesse grew up in a small Texas town (currently lives in Austin), and loves traveling the world with her husband who she met while studying abroad in Austria. Some of her favorite things include binge watching Netflix in an old pair of sweatpants, aerobics, slavic languages, anything that comes from a bakery, living debt free, and mojitos. You can find her @JesseCoulter on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. ”
Listen to Jesse’s The Lively Show podcast episode about living with painful sex here.
Ashlee Wells Jackson’s Birth Stories
Ashlee is a photographer, feminist and storyteller currently living in Chicago. Mother to Xavier (10) and surviving identical twin daughter Nova Emery (3) and Aurora Eisley (stillborn due to complications from Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome). Since mid 2012 she has been focused, along with business partner, Laura Weetzie Wilson, on 4th Trimester Bodies Project an international movement, photo-documentary and book series celebrating the uncensored beauty in motherhood. You can connect with Ashlee on Instagram @ashleewellsjxn or @4thTriBodies as well as Twitter and Facebook.
In today’s episode Ashlee shares the stories of her three children’s births. Her son Xavier was born when she was 23 years old and she and her husband did lots of research and were planning for a peaceful home water birth. Ashlee had trained to be a doula while she was pregnant and her midwife joked that she was the picture of a textbook perfect pregnancy, measuring right on track, healthy, and active.
28 Week Premature Birth
Ashlee went into the late stages of labor unexpectedly at 28 weeks, arrived at the hospital within an hour of realizing what was happening to find out she was fully dilated with bulging waters. She had a traumatic birth with the hospital staff screaming at her not to push and to lay on her back when she knew she needed to be in a different position. Ashlee was able to briefly see Xavier before he was taken to the NICU and even though he was 12 weeks early he was healthier than expected and spent a total of 46 days in NICU, improving each day. Ashlee struggled with feeling of empowerment and being on a high from giving birth while facing the fear of her son’s health.
When Ashlee found out she was pregnant again she and her almost husband met with a team of midwives and planned on having the homebirth she’d missed out on the first time. Again, Ashlee was the picture of healthy but was measuring a bit ahead of dates so her midwife asked her to have an ultrasound which she and her fiance had on the morning of their wedding day when they found out they were having twin girls! They were overjoyed and named both girls while on their honeymoon.
Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome
When they returned home they had a follow up ultrasound and 2nd Trimester screen and were told they had a stuck twin and that their daughter’s were suffering from TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome). They were referred to an MFM (maternal fetal medicine doctor) where they were told the girls were stage 4 of 5 of TTTS (5 meaning they had both already passed) and were given three options – terminate the entire pregnancy, selectively abort one of their girls in hopes the other would do better or immediately travel from Chicago to St. Louis for a laser surgery that was our only chance to save them both by separating their placental vessel connections. The surgery was the only option they could accept so they drove to St. Louis and 72 hours later were in the operating room.
The surgery was deemed successful; they severed the girls’ vessel connections and drained 3+ Liters of excess amniotic fluid. Ashlee rested around hourly ultrasounds and felt at peace and relieved that they were going to be OK.
In the morning they had one final ultrasound before being discharged and within seconds of the wand hitting her belly, Ashlee knew something was wrong. The doctor who had performed the surgery grabbed her hand and told her that Aurora had no heartbeat. After having been told the surgery was a success, it was such a shock to learn they’d lost one of their baby girls.
Ashlee was left to deal with the process of grieving the loss of one daughter while growing her other daughter. She was told that Nova was doing well and that there was no reason she wouldn’t make it to full term. She had long ultrasounds each week to check on both girls, Nova’s growth and Aurora’s body. Her fluid levels were still very high (polyhydramino’s is a side effect of TTTS) but everything else was stable until she woke up at 3am during her 24th week in labor and felt the same way she had when she went into labor with Xavier.
24 Week Premature Birth
She rushed to the hospital but despite all of the medications they gave her, nothing would slow down her contractions. They removed her cerclage and her MFM, knowing how important natural birth was to her, encouraged her to push but Ashlee had been given a spinal block rather than an epidural and couldn’t control her body well enough to push effectively. Nova’s heart beat dipped, and Ashlee was soon in the OR being prepped for a crash cesarean and at 11:11am Nova was born, with Aurora following a minute later.
Nova was taken to the NICU and Ashlee, who had been put under completely for the surgery woke up alone. Ashlee was concerned for Nova and didn’t know where Aurora was. Aurora was brought to Ashlee and they were able to spend some time together while Nova was being stabilized.
It was determined that the girls came so quickly due to a rampant E-coli infection that must have happened during the initial surgery performed to separate them.
After Nova suffered from a brain bleed, they were told that Nova would likely never talk or walk but they sought second opinions and took her to a neurosurgeon at the Children’s Hospital in Chicago when she was 5 weeks old where she had a surgery to help her brain. Nova spent 100 days in the NICU, developed hydrocephalus and eventually came home with a VP shunt and an NG tube. They fought hard to exclusively breastfeed and are still going strong at 3 years old. Nova is now exceeding all expectations – beautifully healthy and extraordinarily happy today.
Since giving birth, Ashlee struggled with feeling like a failure and hating her body for not doing what it was supposed to do. Being able to breastfeed was a healing process and a way for her to connect with her body and her children as she navigated her new role as a mother. She took the first picture of the 4th Trimester Bodies Project as a self portrait and has since photographed over 1500 women and heard their stories. You can read more about my experience participating in the project here.
Still Birth Day
4th Trimester Bodies Project
A Vaginal Twin Birth Story – Kimberly Sherman
In this episode of The Birth Hour, Kimberly Sherman shares the birth story of her twin boys. It’s crazy to me that this was the first time that I actually heard a vaginal twin birth story. I know there are plenty of women who give birth to their twins vaginally but I just hadn’t met one yet, so this was a really special conversation to me.
Kimberly prepared so well for her boys’ birth and went into the experience knowing the type of hospital birth that she wanted and was a great advocate for herself. I’m so excited for you all to hear her story!
Kimberly also shares some amazing resources in her episode, and even emailed me with a few more after we talked, so please take the time to check out the ones that are applicable to you.
Preggie Pals, The Boob Group, & Twin Talks
Well Adjusted Mama (Maternity & Pediatric Chiropractor):
Expecting: Praying for Child’s Development – Body & Soul
When Your Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Other Stuff for Moms
Postpartum Care Pads