After an easy pregnancy with few complications, Melissa endured prolonged labor with Group-B Strep, leading to her son contracting bacterial meningitis after birth. After a three week stay in the hospital, he is now 18 months old and happy and healthy! Melissa dealt with Postpartum Depression and anxiety stemming from her experience, and hopes to shed light on GBS and its possible complications at birth. She hopes to encourage women to be their own advocate and take charge of their own health research as they prepare for pregnancy and birth.
Melissa Korver Bio
Melissa and her husband live with their 18 month old son, Konrad, in Richardson, TX, just outside of Dallas. She is a stay at home mom but has a side gig as an ambassador with Noonday Collection. She enjoys reading, photography, and taking walks with her son and their dog, Orso. She can be contacted on Instagram on her personal account, @melissakorver, or her business account, @stylebeautypurpose.
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Lauren gave birth to her second child in July 2019 at 40 weeks and 2 days. She was determined to try again for an unmedicated birth after needing an epidural in her first delivery and was successful only because there was no time for the anesthesiologist to arrive. Though it was a short labor and delivery, it was intense and far more difficult than her first, slower delivery.
Lauren Alexander Bio
Lauren lives with her wife of three years in Sonoma County, California. She gave birth to a daughter in October 2017 and a son in July 2019. She hopes that other lesbian couples trying to start families can learn from her and her wife’s experience of planning for and starting a family.
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Mari became pregnant with her second child in September of 2018. After an anxiety-ridden fearful c-section 2 years prior, due to failure to descend, she was determined to have a VBAC! She experienced a lot of push back from doctors, family, and her partner. Ultimately after facing her anxiety, getting her partner on board and breaking down all her VBAC fears, she was successful in birthing her son via VBAC in May of 2019. She shares the journey of her healing birth, including breaking up with two doctors in her both her second and third trimester and her empowered labor and delivery with a full female staff.
Marilys Vega Bio
Mari Vega, a Motherhood Advocate, believes in nurturing women navigating motherhood, whether they are looking for support with breastfeeding or trying to balance life at home and in the workplace. Being a mother of two small children and having over 9 years of experience in Human Resources, Mari understands first hand the hurdles that present themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and unconsciously during the postpartum period and thereafter, ie re-entering the workforce. Her experiences have given her tremendous insight on how to coach women on nurturing their motherly instinct, confidently breastfeeding and manifesting a work-life balance that showcases their strengths. She can be contacted at or on Instagram @mari_vega. Her website is www.marivega.me
International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)
The Birth Hour
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Intervention-free hospital birth followed by asking for interventions for second birth
Claire describes her two different births below:
First baby: very barfy while pregnant and was hospitalized for Hyperemesis. An intervention-free labor at a pretty crunchy hospital. Very empowering but also a little trauma-inducing with a second degree tear and very vivid memories of the pain.
Second baby: also very barfy, but now with a toddler! Hospitalized yet again and lost weight so was put on a Pedialyte/Ensure diet. Wanted to try a different type of birth. Got an epidural and it was HEAVENLY. Strange hospital experience in that I had to ask for interventions!
Claire Swinarski Bio
Claire is a wife and mom living in the suburbs of Milwaukee. She’s the author of WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, a middle grade novel coming from HarperCollins in the fall, as well as GIRL, ARISE, which was released by Ave Maria Press in February. She’s also the founder of the Catholic Feminist Podcast, where she interviews guests about women and the Church. You can follow her on Instagram at @whatclairesaw.
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Despite an autoimmune condition that can interfere with fertility, Amy Leigh became pregnant easily with her first son. It was uneventful – besides nausea until 23 weeks, and having to cut off her wedding ring due to being so swollen. Amy Leigh approached birth with great avoidance and the hopes that she would get an epidural, sleep through labor, wake up, and push a baby out without feeling any of it. She was instead induced with preeclampsia and her epidural did not work. This left her facing the reality of birth stuck in bed, hooked up to wires, and drowsy on magnesium. After pushing for 2 hours, her son was born, whisked away to be bathed, and Amy Leigh was left with a placenta that had to be manually extracted. Migraines, NICU time, constant pumping, and sleep deprivation finished out this traumatic experience that left her afraid of having another child.
After learning of her pregnancy with baby 2, Amy Leigh sought the help of a perinatal therapist. She was able to process and grieve her traumatic birth and approach the new birth with an open heart. Amy Leigh and Kevin hired a doula and worked with supportive OB. Her second son came on his own a few days before his due date. She decided to go for it at the last second and try an epidural again- this time it worked (inserted right as she hit transition). She and Kevin rested all night, and she peacefully gave birth with her doula and husband by her side, all within 12 hours. Her son remained on her chest for 2 hours after birth and was not bathed until the next day. With both births, a military PCS move followed shortly after, though the second time she was on a plane with a 2 year old and newborn just 12 days after giving birth.
Amy Leigh Fernandez Bio
Amy Leigh is a mom to 2 boys (Ryan, 3.5 years and Finn, 14 months), partner to Kevin. They are a military family living in Southern California with their boys & two black labs. Amy Leigh was inspired by healing from her own traumatic first birth to use her role as a clinical social worker to help other families. She is a licensed therapist for Hold Space Healing, a private psychotherapy practice in Temecula, CA, where she works with new moms, perinatal mental health and all “mom life” issues, as well as military family readiness and weight-inclusive wellness for those who want to stop dieting and make peace with food and body. She is currently working on her Perinatal Mental Health certification (PMH-C) with Postpartum Support International. Contact- holdspacehealing.com or @holdspacehealing on Instagram.
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Michelle and Dan were so excited when they found out they were expecting for the first time in 2015. Soon after conceiving, Michelle starting feeling off and was experiencing a lot of pain. She chalked it up to “just one of those weird pregnancy problems”.
After 9 long months Michelle was not in the mindset for trying a natural delivery. Michelle’s water broke on her due date and 16 hours later they welcomed their daughter via a medicated hospital birth in June 2016.
Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis 2 Months Postpartum
2 months later Michelle was diagnosed with cancer and then came months of chemotherapy, radiation, and recovery.
Once all cleared from treatment and recovery, Michelle was given the go ahead to start trying for baby #2 by her oncologist in January 2018. She had no expectations and just wanted to go with the flow- and if she got pregnant it would just be a bonus. 9 months of trying later she got the positive pregnancy test she was secretly hoping for. The second time around Michelle wanted to be more present in her pregnancy and delivery. She was in the care of midwives and got to experience an educated and natural hospital childbirth with her second baby.
Michelle Martyniuk Bio
Michelle lives in Ontario Canada with her husband Dan and their 2 children; Amelia 3, and Brody 3 months. Shortly after Amelia was born, Michelle received a phone call from her doctor that would change everything. She was diagnosed with cancer only 2 months after the birth of their daughter. She went from becoming a new mother into the world of being a cancer patient within the span of one phone call. Her postpartum and first go at motherhood was not anything like she could have had imagined. Connect with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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