Beautiful, Redeeming Birth Story After Difficult Pregnancy

At the 35 week mark, Joelle, her husband, and her birth team made the mutual decision to transfer her care away from a home birth practice to a midwife-led OB/GYN practice that her midwife also practiced through due to concerns about mental health & preparation for home birth. From that point on, she experienced some regular episodes of prodromal labor. At 38 weeks and two days on January 19th, Joelle unexpectedly went into spontaneous labor. She tried some lower pain interventions including hydrotherapy, partner support, counter pressure, and IV pain medication. In the end, due to exhaustion, Joelle opted for an epidural and went on to deliver her daughter shortly after noon on Inauguration Day.

Joelle hamilton birth story

Joelle Hamilton Bio

Joelle Hamilton lives with her husband Ben and daughter Iris in Grand Rapids, Michigan. When she’s not studying or making sure Iris gets her daily conversations with the mirror in, she loves playing video games, journaling, crafting, writing, and experimenting with tarot, astrology, and all sorts of other weird stuff. Connect with her at @hamilton.joelle on Instagram.

Resources

Babylist

Today’s episode is sponsored by Babylist. The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry easily lets you add any item from any store. Plus, Babylist helps you each step of the way with their customized checklist, product guides and reviews, and personal registry consultants. They’ve even got group gifting! Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth over $100 while boxes last.


Emergency Cesarean after Reduction in Fetal Movement + NICU Stay

Lottie found out she was pregnant in May of 2020. She originally established care with an OB but after listening to so many birth stories where moms mentioned the importance of trusting your care providers, she transferred care to a midwife group at 24 weeks. Pregnancy was pretty easy and uneventful (Lottie LOVED being pregnant) until she noticed some brown spotting at 33 weeks. An ultrasound revealed asymmetrical intrauterine growth restriction—her baby’s head was measuring consistently with 33 weeks, but her abdomen was measuring abnormally small. To be safe, the midwives decided to do NSTs twice a week to monitor the baby. 

A few days later Lottie listened to episode #512 of The Birth Hour where Grace Green shared one of her birth stories and discussed the importance of monitoring fetal movement, the stillbirth rates in America, and the Count the Kicks app. She was particularly struck by this episode and downloaded the app and started counting her baby’s kicks right away. Five days later, on December 8th, Lottie noticed her baby hadn’t been moving all morning. She spent the next hour actively trying to get baby to move while her husband packed the hospital bag. When there was still no movement, she went into the midwives for an NST. 

count the kicks story

The NST was non-responsive so they did a biophysical profile (BPP) which showed no breathing movements, fetal movements, or tone. At this point Lottie was sent to the hospital where she had an emergency c-section. Their baby girl, Clementine, was born not breathing but miraculously was alive. They found out later that Clementine had hemorrhaged in the womb and the decreased blood levels caused her brain to be deprived of oxygen (HIE). As a result, she had a grade III/IV intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleed) that led to seizures and hydrocephalus. This led to a 50-day NICU stay but by the grace of God she is home now and thriving. Lottie and Kelly are loving their new life as a family of three. 

Lottie O’Sullivan Bio

Lottie lives just outside of Winston Salem, NC with her husband, Kelly, and four-month-old daughter, Clementine. When she is not busy working as a credit analyst or snuggling Clementine, she enjoys making pottery, cooking, sewing, reading, visiting vineyards, being involved at her church, and hanging out with her “flossy posse.”

Resources

Kindred Bravely

Today’s episode is brought to you by Kindred Bravely. From adorable maternity wear to comfortable nursing bras, this mom-owned company has you covered.  See all of their comfy clothing at kindredbravely.com! I especially love their Simply Sublime nursing tank, their high waisted leggings (for pregnancy AND postpartum). Listen to this episode for a special coupon code and to hear about my new favorites in their summer line of clothing and loungewear!

Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) and Preterm Induction Birth Story

Sara became pregnant with her first child at the very beginning of the pandemic. Her pregnancy was smooth until the end of her second trimester, when her doctor recommended a growth scan since her fundal height was measuring quite low. The scan showed that the baby was measuring very small – under the third percentile for weight. However, weekly scans showed consistent growth and that the baby was healthy and active. At a routine MFM appointment at 35 weeks, it seemed that growth had drastically slowed down, and she was sent to be induced immediately.

Sara’s induction began with a foley bulb, inserted overnight, and then Pitocin for the next 24 hours. 36.5 hours after being admitted (but after only 20 minutes of pushing!), Liora was born. Her husband announced the sex, and it was the most beautiful moment of Sara’s life. They were also shocked by the baby’s weight – 4 lbs, 5 oz, about half a pound larger than predicted by ultrasound. Sara and her baby got a few minutes of skin to skin before the baby was taken to the NICU.

Sara and her husband were able to stay overnight in the NICU in a “couplet” room until Sara was discharged. They were blown away by the care and compassion of their entire care team. Liora stayed in the NICU for a total of 17 days to put on weight and regulate her temperature and is now a healthy and chunky 6-month-old.

35 week preemie

Sara Gottlieb-Cohen Bio

Sara lives in New Haven, CT with her husband (Andrew), daughter (Liora), and their mini goldendoodle (Moose). Sara and Andrew both work at Yale University. Andrew is a clinical social worker at the Yale Child Study Center, and Sara works in the library providing data and statistical support to scientists across the university. Sara can be reached on Instagram @sara.gottlieb or on Facebook (Sara Gottlieb-Cohen).

Resources

Brightside

Today’s episode is sponsored by Brightside. Forty percent of Americans report symptoms of anxiety or depression and it’s definitely something that comes up on the podcast regularly. You don’t have to face these feelings alone. Get fast, personalized help from Brightside. Getting help when you need it can be exhausting, so Brightside makes it easy. Connect with your expert provider online and get a personalized treatment plan of medication, therapy, or both, within forty-eight hours. With Brightside, all it takes to get started is filling out a quick, free health assessment to get matched with your expert provider for a personalized treatment plan. I took the assessment myself and was so happy to see one of the first options to choose from was postpartum depression, something many new moms struggle with.

Eighty-five percent of Brightside members feel better within twelve weeks and if you aren’t satisfied, Brightside’s Better Care Guarantee offers a full refund within thirty days, no questions asked. Take your free mental health assessment and get up to ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS credit on your first month of treatment at Brightside.com/birthhour.

Pregnancy and Childbirth After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Angela and her husband Rich had to put their plans to start a family on hold when Angela was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2016 at age 27. They underwent IVF prior to treatment in hopes of being able to have a baby later, if everything went well. After a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, and 3.5 years out from diagnosis, Angela was able to conceive naturally in January 2020. 

After her experience with cancer, Angela wanted to have an unmedicated birth without many of the medical procedures she associated with treatment. She even thought that maybe birth would be the experience that healed her relationship with her body. Angela and Rich planned a hospital birth with midwives. In the couple of weeks before the birth, they learned that the baby was in the posterior or “sunny side up” position, but that these babies would usually turn during labor. Angela’s labor lasted 40 hours, 30 hours of which were unmedicated and the last 10 hours with pitocin and an epidural. The baby got stuck in the posterior position with her head turned to the side, and eventually Angela, Rich, and their midwife agreed that a cesarean would be the best option. Their daughter came into the world at 7:20 p.m. on October 24th via a “belly birth.”

pregnancy after breast cancer

In the days after birth, both Angela and Rich had a hard time recovering. Angela struggled with her posterior labor and cesarean birth being so different from what she had imagined, and wondered if she could have done more to make things go differently. Angela also faced challenges breastfeeding, since she was feeding on just one side after her mastectomy. They ultimately did “triple feedings” with donor breastmilk until Angela’s milk came in and the baby was steadily gaining weight, about two weeks after birth. She has since had a positive breastfeeding journey with her daughter.

Angela Hronek Bio

Angela, a five-year breast cancer survivor, spends her days working in historic preservation consulting. She and her husband Rich live in Madison, Wisconsin, in a 112-year-old house with their busy and smiley baby girl. You can reach her on Instagram @angelahronek.

Resources

Ergobaby

Today’s episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Ergobaby is dedicated to helping families bond, grow, and thrive by creating premium baby products where function and quality are not compromised. Ergobaby has created a broad range of award-winning baby carriers, strollers, swaddlers, nursing pillows, and related products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably and safely. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet.

Epidural Hospital Birth with Midwives

At 39 years old, Christi was happy to find out she was pregnant for the second time. This pregnancy was more challenging than her first in terms of routine discomforts, but thankfully there were no serious complications. She received a big surprise, however, when, in her third trimester, she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She decided to use the diagnosis as a wake up call to be more intentional about healthy eating and daily exercise. She was a little over a month into working on her diabetes plan when she got an even bigger surprise—her water broke at 36 weeks and 5 days!

She had planned for a medicated hospital birth, just like her first, so it was very exciting when, a few hours later, she and her husband found themselves in labor and delivery discussing her options with the midwife.  She advocated for waiting to see if contractions would intensify on their own, but after ten hours without any progression, she agreed to augmentation with IV medication as well as her first cervical exam which showed she was 3 cm dilated.  Shortly after starting the medication her contractions began to intensify and gradually got stronger as the medication was increased.

After about seven hours, she received an epidural right around the time the contractions started coming very quickly. Once the nurse did a second cervical check, the midwife was immediately called back to the hospital. At 5am—24 hours and 30 minutes—after her water broke, she delivered a healthy late preterm baby girl weighing 6 lb 10 oz at 36 weeks, 6 days gestation.  In the first 72 hours of life, her baby struggled with weight loss, rising bilirubin levels and insufficient intake, along with a diagnosis of ABO incompatibility so they returned to the hospital for phototherapy to treat the jaundice. The therapy worked wonderfully and she was able to take her baby home for good after less than 24 hours in the hospital. 

christi silano

Christi Silano Bio

Christi has been married to Anthony Silano for fourteen years. They spent the first ten years of their marriage living in Hawaii and happily working, studying and traveling. In 2017 they landed in California and began their new adventure: raising a family. They have two daughters, Naomi, age three and Leona, two months. They live with their adopted dog, Dez, in Santa Rosa, California where Christi works as a nurse practitioner specializing in geriatrics. In her spare time she relaxes by baking, Bible study and jogging. She can be reached at csilano9@gmail.com.

Resources

Wumblekin

This episode is sponsored by Wumblekin. Life’s busy and there’s a lot of noise out there, that can be especially true during pregnancy. Wumblekin breaks down pregnancy, labor and birth with evidence-based education and expert-curated products for mom and baby. Easily buy or gift single boxes, or subscribe to receive them throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Be informed and prepared by ordering Wumblekin pregnancy, birth and postpartum essentials, today! Get 15% off your first box by using promo code BIRTHHOUR at checkout. Visit wumblekin.com to order or subscribe, today!


TTC+ Induction for Gestational Hypertension turned Unplanned Cesarean Birth

Chae gave birth at 37+2 weeks via unplanned c-section.  Chae planned on having an unmedicated birth, but gestational hypertension caused a hospital stay and an induction.  After 2 days in labor and a few interventions (Cytotec, Cervadil, water broken, Pitocin) only helping to progress to 2 centimeters dilated, it was decided a c-section would be best.  Postpartum was emotionally taxing with issues breastfeeding and her daughter not initially gaining weight. After lots of work with a trusted lactation consultant, breastfeeding and weight gain became issues of the past.  Carter is now a healthy 6-month old!

Chae Ray

Chae Ray, 33, is an Assistant Principal living in Richmond, Texas.  She lives with her husband, Cameron, her 6 month old daughter, Carter, and their two German Shepherds, Zeus and Hera. Chae and Cameron have been married for 9 years, and have been so excited to start their own family. Email her to connect at chaeray7@gmail.com.

Resources

Motif Medical

This episode was sponsored by Motif Medical. Motif designs insurance-eligible products for busy moms. With a focus on innovation and empowerment, Motif’s line of breast pumps and maternity compression garments are sophisticated, yet discreet, and made to support mothers as they navigate new motherhood. Discover why moms are reporting more milk in less time with the Luna breast pump, and see how you can get it covered through insurance at motifmedical.com/birthhour

Read more from lactation consultant, Ashley Georgakopoulos here.


Gentle Cesarean with Wonderful Birth Team

Hadar started her pregnancy hoping for a birth center birth for her first born, but midway through her pregnancy a partial placenta previa was discovered. She continued to receive midwifery care through her pregnancy but ultimately required a scheduled c-section because her placenta never corrected itself. Her gentle cesarean ended up being very positive thanks to a wonderful birth team!

Hadar Spector Bio

Hadar Spector is currently a stay-at-home mom who previously spent her career in the hospitality industry. In her free time she enjoys being in nature, spending time hiking or at the beach, listening to documentary style podcasts, and spending time with family. You can connect with Hadar on Instagram at H8er18 or through email at .

hadar spector

Resources

Cord Blood Registry

Today’s episode was sponsored by @CordBloodRegistry, also known as CBR. CBR has helped millions of parents bank their children’s newborn stem cells. Newborn stem cells have amazing potential for treatments in the future and cord blood stem cells have already been used for thirty years in stem cell transplants. It’s kind of like investing in your baby’s future health.

For a limited time, CBR is offering The Birth Hour listeners some pretty big discounts. Go to cordblood.com and use code: HOUR to get 60% off the Newborn Stem Cell Bundle which includes both cord blood and tissue banking. Visit their website to learn more about how newborn stem cell preservation could protect your whole family and why CBR is the #1 most recommended cord blood bank by families and OB/GYNs.

Pregnancy During Covid, Induction at 41 Weeks + Hiring a Postpartum Doula

Allison longed to have a baby for years. It wasn’t the right time until she completed a 10 month teaching fellowship in China. Once she got back home, she and her partner Devin moved quickly. They bought a house, got married and became pregnant all within 5 months. 

She had a physically easy pregnancy but it took a toll on her emotionally once COVID-19 hit in her second trimester. She was very grateful for her healthy pregnancy but felt like she was robbed of her first pregnancy experience due to the pandemic. Her husband couldn’t come to her ultrasounds or appointments, her baby shower was canceled and she couldn’t share her pregnancy with her family and friends. 

Allison’s due date came and went and after a valiant attempt at inducing labor naturally, she ended up getting medically induced at 41 weeks. After a long 36 hour labor, nearly 5 hours of pushing and a forceps delivery, her daughter Finley was born. 

The 4th trimester was challenging for Allison, but breastfeeding was successful. She decided to hire a postpartum doula and that was a total game changer. Nearly 3 months after Finley’s birth, Allison ended up in the ER due to a gallbladder attack. She opted to have her gallbladder removed and hasn’t looked back since.

pregnancy during covid

Allison Katayama Bio

Allison lives in Vallejo, CA with her husband Devin and 7 month old daughter Finley. She is a stay at home mom at the moment but an ESL teacher by trade. She has been a big fan of the Birth Hour for a very long time and is a graduate of the Know Your Options course. Allison hopes that her story will resonate with other moms and moms-to-be! She is very happy to connect with anyone who would like to reach out. Connect with Allison at demerise89@gmail.com.

Resources

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting parents discover the breastfeeding and postpartum essentials covered by their insurance including breast pumps and maternity compression and postpartum recovery products, they take care of everything – including all paperwork, working with your insurance company, and explaining your options to get these free essentials shipped straight to your door.

Aeroflow offers all major breast pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh, Ameda, Elvie, Willow and more.

All you have to do is go to the Aeroflow Breastpumps website and fill out their free and easy Qualify Through Insurance form. Be sure to go to aeroflowbreastpumps.com/birthhour so they will know we sent you! Bonus — use the promo code “TBH15” in their online shop for 15% off all supplies and accessories.

Three Births: PROM, Prodromal Labor, Irritable Uterus, and Precipitous Birth

First Birth: Oshiolema Atogwe in 2015. Age 24. 

We used the Bradley method and really wanted a water birth but knew our birth center would only allow laboring in the water but not delivering in the water since it was attached to the hospital. Incredibly easy pregnancy. Water broke at 38 weeks to the day after a cervical check that morning and my body simply wasn’t ready. I was told at the 22 hour mark that if some progress wasn’t made soon, I’d have to start considering other options. I was devastated when the team switched over to the midwife I was least fond of since it had been 12 hours but that midwife added essential oils to my belly that finally started progression. After 24 hours of labor with a plateau (natural alignment plateau) after the water, a cervical lip and two hours of pushing, I gave birth on a birthing stool and delivered him myself. My placenta fell right onto the floor, he punched his way out and I had absolutely horrible tearing. Postpartum healing and breastfeeding were incredibly challenging and it was a traumatic experience. 

using-water-in-birth

Second Birth: Keogena Atogwe in 2016. Age 26. 

I dedicated so much time and effort to making sure I learned how to push and to better prepare my body for labor through spinning babies, six dates a day, borage oil, red raspberry leaf tea and so on. I got really painful varicose veins and had placenta previa so the pregnancy was a bit more challenging, especially since my son was 11 months old when I found out I was pregnant. We moved late in my third trimester and I quickly found a midwife team and doula. I had false labor a few times and started to get so discouraged but at 39 weeks, went into labor and it was six hours start to finish. Relaxing worship music and focus were so helpful. She was born in the water and it was the most healing birth-exactly what I had prayed for. I had the teeniest tiniest tear and recovery was so much more smooth. 

Miscarriage in 2018

Third birth: Zeameh Atogwe in 2020. Age 30. 

I found out I was pregnant less than a month after my sister’s full term stillbirth. This pregnancy was filled with physical and emotional difficulty. Pregnancy after loss (my miscarriage and my sister’s stillbirth) and my first pregnancy with autoimmune disease made me really have to battle for hope and confidence. I was diagnosed with “irritable uterus” at 9 weeks which I thought was a joke, but it set the tone for the pregnancy. I had Braxton Hicks very early and contractions that would follow a pattern from 22 weeks. I kept hearing about precipitous birth at every turn and began to think it might happen for me. The pandemic hit right as I entered my third trimester and changed everything. Added so much anxiety and sleep became almost impossible. For the final couple months, I was waking up and staying up every night with Braxton Hicks and for the final three weeks, I had prodromal labor every single night. Sometimes my contractions lasted 5 minutes which I learned was my body trying to get the baby in position— the pandemic meant no chiropractor or prenatal massage which I had previously relied on. I tore my abdomen, my varicose veins were off the charts and I was just so deeply uncomfortable that I started to feel depressed and scared I wouldn’t even be excited to have the baby. The very day I expressed that thought, my water broke at 11pm. My parents came, I labored until morning and I thought I was going to give birth in the car. I went from a 4 to a 10 in about a 15 minute period. Labor from the first hard contraction to holding her in my arms was two hours. Recovery was a dream, she was a dream and I was back home three hours later. 

Postpartum: pandemic postpartum was difficult and lonely. I felt so sorry my husband was taking care of everything and everyone. We also ended up getting COVID-19 when she was 4 weeks old and that meant we needed to be even more isolated which was devastating but I’m thankful to have walked through it. 

jill atogwe birth stories

Jill Atogwe is a wife to Oshiomogho and mother to Oshiolema, Keogena and Zeameh living in Dallas, Texas. She is an artist and lifestyle blogger behind Gold & Graphite and is always searching for the beauty in every day life. 
Connect with her via her website: goldandgraphite.com, instagram.com/jillatogwe or Email: jkatogwe@gmail.com

Resources

Expectful

This episode is sponsored by Expectful – the #1 guided meditation & sleep app for your fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood journey. Just like you probably take a prenatal vitamin for your body, Expectful’s meditations are like a prenatal vitamin for your mind and can help you have a happier, healthier journey to parenthood. Whether you are TTC, pregnant, or postpartum, everything in the Expectful app was made just for this special moment in your life and created based on interviews with hopeful, expecting, and new parents just like you. Ready to reduce stress, improve sleep, and connect with your little one? Go to expectful.com/birthhour or download Expectful in the App Store to get started with a free trial today. 

Two Unmedicated, Empowering Births for a Preterm Baby and a High-Risk Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes

Surprise Preterm Birth at 34 Weeks

Lauren got pregnant relatively easily at age 34 years. The early weeks of this pregnancy were marked by uncertainty and anxiety, after an abnormal result on the nuchal translucency screening in the first trimester. Non-invasive prenatal testing later showed normal results, and she was followed closely by Maternal Fetal Medicine during the second trimester with additional ultrasounds and an echocardiogram. At 27 weeks, Lauren was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which she managed with diet and exercise. At 34 weeks, she unexpectedly went into preterm labor. Her baby was born after an unmedicated labor that happened quickly toward the end (from 7 cm to baby in 30 minutes!). Charlotte spent 23 days in the NICU, which was stressful but the parents were thankful that she mostly needed to feed and grow.

Complicated Pregnancy with Gestational Diabetes, ending with an Empowering Unmedicated Birth

Once Lauren turned 37 years old, she felt her biological clock ticking and felt a strong desire to have their second baby earlier than originally planned. Surprisingly (but thankfully!) she got pregnant on the first cycle after her IUD was removed, and suspected she was pregnant three days before she got the positive test on the early response test. This pregnancy was more medically complicated than the first – she had gestational diabetes once more, and it required insulin this time. She also had weekly progesterone shots from 16 to 36 weeks to prevent another preterm birth. By the third trimester, when she walked into the Maternal-Fetal Medicine office, the staff knew both her name and date of birth without Lauren having to tell them! Lauren did prenatal yoga, mindfulness practice, and lots of walking during this pregnancy. She also used her research skills as a professor to read up on original empirical research studies and ACOG recommendations to educate and advocate for herself. Despite this complicated pregnancy, at 38 weeks Lauren had a spontaneous, natural, beautiful, empowering unmedicated birth that was everything she wanted. Baby Madeline completed their family and Lauren is thankful for all she learned about her body and mind during her two pregnancies.

Throughout both birth stories, Lauren speaks about educating yourself, surrounding yourself with supportive birth partners, and advocating for yourself in a medical setting. She believes that it is of utmost important for a birthing person to feel heard, supported and valued by her providers.

Lauren Jax Bio

Lauren Jax lives in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania with her husband Steve and kids Charlotte (2015) and Madeline (2018). She is a college professor, and she teaches and researches about developmental psychology.

Resources

Babylist

Today’s episode is sponsored by Babylist. The people at Babylist believe that you should be able to get exactly what you need for your unique and growing family. That’s why their baby registry easily lets you add any item from any store. Plus, Babylist helps you each step of the way with their customized checklist, product guides and reviews, and personal registry consultants. They’ve even got group gifting! Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth over $100 while boxes last.