Valerie and George found out they were expecting in July 2017. After waiting 4 excruciating weeks before the first doctor’s appointment, the day finally came to see her OB. While waiting for the doctor the nurse said, “wouldn’t it be funny if you had twins?” It seemed like a funny joke at the time, but sure enough, when the doctor was doing the ultrasound, she said “I see two heartbeats – you are having twins.” After she said the word “twins” Valerie was in shock and didn’t hear anything else the doctor said the rest of the appointment. George and Valerie left the office feeling excited yet nervous and couldn’t wait to tell their families.
For carrying twins, Valerie had an amazing pregnancy. No morning sickness, bed rest, Braxton Hicks, high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. Towards the end she did get a very uncomfortable case of carpel tunnel in her wrists and swollen ankles. Once she reached a certain stage in her pregnancy, in addition to the regular OB appointments, she also saw a maternal-fetal specialist to keep track of the growth of the twins and to make sure they were developing normally. Everything looked perfect the entire pregnancy. Not one issue of concern was ever discovered during her 36 weeks of pregnancy.
Valerie worked up until Feb 1st and the twins’ due date was March 28th. She felt great, but with twins it was recommended she rest and put her feet up to prepare for the arrival of their baby girls – Eden (Baby A) and Chloe (Baby B).
Valerie and George took a hospital tour and attended a weekend birth preparation course at the hospital where she was scheduled to deliver. Initially, Valerie had been interested at potentially looking into a birthing center, but with the high risk of twins had decided on a hospital birth. Valerie was really hoping to deliver vaginally but understood the possibility of a c-section would be higher due to the twin birth.
At the routine 36 week check-up Valerie, accompanied by her mother, went to her Doctor’s appointment. As she did at every appointment, the doctor checked each baby’s heartbeat. However, Valerie realized that it was taking much longer than usual for the doctor to complete that part and move on. Suddenly, the doctor removed the stethoscope from her ears and looked at Valerie and said “ I’m having trouble finding Baby B’s heartbeat – please go to labor and delivery for an ultrasound and I will meet you there.” Shocked and stunned, Valerie and her mom had quick moment of prayer in the exam room and then headed to the hospital.
Valerie and her mother made the quick drive across the street to the hospital and checked into Labor and Delivery. The nurses whisked her into a triage room and hooked her up to a machine to monitor contractions and continued to look for a heartbeat – they seemed optimistic and were great at keeping Valerie calm. At this point Valerie’s mother said it was time to call George and the rest of the immediate family. Valerie didn’t see the point in making everyone worry because she thought surely once the more advanced ultrasound machine arrived the heartbeat would be detected, and everything would be fine. Her mother insisted, and the calls were made.
Finally, the ultrasound technician arrived and began to conduct the ultrasound. With so much time passing by the reality of the situation began to sink in and the shock and optimism began to wear off. The ultrasound tech wouldn’t answer any questions and Valerie could tell she felt awkward so stopped pressing her; but, after going to so many appointments, when Chloe’s heart was projected on the screen it was clear that there wasn’t any activity.
George arrived after rushing to the hospital from work, and Valerie’s doctor came in to talk to the couple. (She had been finishing a scheduled surgery) It was official – Chloe’s heart had stopped beating and was no longer alive. They needed to deliver Eden right away. Since Valerie had wanted to try for a vaginal birth the doctor gave her the option to either be induced or have a c-section. Valerie and George had some moments alone to try to process what was happening and due to the circumstances, they chose a c-section. Once the decision was made everyone moved quickly to prepare Valerie for surgery.
Eden Naomi Howell was born first – she was healthy and had a strong loud cry. She received a 9 on her Apgar test! Shortly after, Chloe Estelle Howell was born. Valerie got to nuzzle both babies once they were born before they were taken away with George to wait for her in recovery as the rest of the surgery was completed. Valerie was groggy in recovery but was able to hold and nurse Eden. Once released from recovery and moved to a room filled with her parents, MIL, sister, brother-in law, and aunts and uncles she was able to spend more time with Eden and Chloe. Everyone was able to see her and hold her and spend time with her – she was a perfectly formed and beautiful baby.
It is still unclear exactly what happened to Chloe. There
was meconium in her water which is what she swallowed and took her life.
However, the reason that happened is unknown. The reality of walking into the
hospital with two babies and walking out with one was shocking and difficult
for Valerie and George to deal with. Valerie was so caught off guard – no one
ever speaks about the possibility of having a still born baby. She thought that
things like didn’t happen during birth in this day and age, but ironically it
is more common than most people are aware of.
The physical recovery for Valerie went well. The surgery was routine with no difficulties, and she was released from the hospital on the 4th day. Her incision healed beautifully, and she was able to recover without incident. Shortly after going home, arrangements were made for Chloe. Learning to take care of a newborn while laying another child to rest in the same week is an enormous burden to bear. However, family and friends loved and embraced Valerie and George as they grieved and learned to navigate the life of new parents in a supportive environment. One day they will have to explain to Eden that she had a twin sister. Sweet Chloe Estelle is gone, but never forgotten.
Valerie Howell Bio
Valerie Howell resides in Southern California with her
husband George and their 19-month-old daughter Eden. She has lived in
California for the majority of her life but has a soft spot for Seattle,
Washington where she went to high school and attended the University of
Washington where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in communication. She later
attended California State University and received a Master’s degree in
Integrated Marketing Communications and is currently enjoying a career as a
corporate event planner. When she’s not
working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She loves to
read and dance and hopes to pass along the love for both to her daughter.
You can follow Valerie on IG at @valgal217 for more adventures of event planning and being a working Mommy.
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When Mia found out that she was pregnant with her first child, her hope was to have a peaceful unmedicated birth. However, at an early ultrasound, she discovered that she had a fibroid above her cervix possibly obstructing her birth canal. After the fibroid continued to grow, her medical team told her that she would need to undergo a cesarean birth, or she and her baby would be in danger. After being told that she would likely not go into labor, Mia and her fiancé, James, scheduled a Monday morning surgery. So, naturally, Mia was shocked when she went into labor on the preceding Thursday night and had her daughter via peaceful, uncomplicated c-section early Friday morning.
17 months later, Mia became pregnant with baby number two and, despite what her previous doctor’s told her, she decided to switch doctors and try for a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean). After being diagnosed with gestational diabetes and months of close monitoring, it seemed that her fibroid had grown to a hefty 8cm and under doctor’s advice, she scheduled a repeat c-section. When an ultrasound revealed that the baby’s head had moved below the fibroid, Mia and James decided to cancel the c-section and let nature take its course. With the support of her new obgyn, she went into labor at 40 weeks after a membrane sweep, and gave birth to her son via an amazing unexpected vbac at 40+1.
Mia Burton Bio
Mia is a 29 year old government worker by day. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her fiancé, James and their 2 year old daughter, Jovie and their 3 month old son Marley. She aspires to become a birth doula and an advocate for Black women’s maternal health.
Aeroflow Breastpumps has helped thousands of new and expecting moms find the perfect pump for her lifestyle. They offer all major pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh and more. And the best part, they take care of everything – including getting all required paperwork, dealing with your insurance company, and explaining your options in order to get your free pump shipped straight to your door. 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 I sent you!
After experiencing two early miscarriages, Sierra had a hard time connecting to her pregnancy. Pregnancy did not seem to agree with her body with morning sickness throughout and pelvic separation at 20 weeks. With the help of a wonderful chiropractor and lots of self care the journey wasn’t all too difficult.
Sierra’s plan for birth was a medication-free hospital birth with the help of her doula, but through lots of ups and downs with her care providers she was diagnosed with full placenta previa, requiring a cesarean birth at 37 1/2 weeks. Due to the previa, Sierra suffered a hemorrhage during surgery and had to have a balloon filled with saline placed in her uterus for 12 hours along with being on a high dose Pitocin drip.
Her son Oliver had trouble breathing at first and had to be stationed in the nursery. The small hospital in her town does not have a NICU, so he was going to be transferred to a hospital 30 minutes away if there was no improvement. Luckily, just 15 minutes before the time they called the transfer, he made a complete turnaround and was able to be reunited with Sierra.
Sierra had a great hospital stay following Oliver’s birth and a good recovery. Oliver had some nursing issues, and after consulting with multiple lactation consultants, Sierra decided to exclusively pump which turned out great for both of them. Sierra credits her calmness when issues arose to information she learned on The Birth Hour episodes, her doula, and The Mama Natural’s Guide to Pregnancy Book.
Sierra Palmer Bio
Sierra is 26 years old and is married to her her high school sweetheart Justin. They live in Northern California along with their 7 month old son Oliver, three cats, and wiener dog. Sierra is completing a degree in accounting to become a bookkeeper, working as a photo editor for a photography business, and running her lifestyle blog. For fun she and her family love to see new movies, go to the river, and try to find the best food wherever they go. You can connect with her on Instagram @sierrahopepalmer , on her blog themountainandme.blog, or email at email@example.com
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.
This episode is sponsored by Crane Humidifiers. Crane’s colorful humidifiers are a nursery necessity to help relieve your baby’s tiny congested nose, which can make feeding and sleeping a struggle for both baby and mom. A happy baby is a healthy baby. Crane is generously offering $10 OFF and free shipping on all of their full-priced 1 gallon adorable animal shaped humidifiers and drop humidifiers with the code BIRTH19 at www.crane-usa.com.
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.
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 lets you add any item from any store. Even add cool services and favors like prenatal yoga, doula support, home-cooked meals or dog walking. Start your registry today to be eligible for a free Hello Baby Box of goodies for baby worth up to $190 while boxes last.
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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