Same-Sex Couple in China Returns to U.S. During COVID for Birth

Elizabeth and her wife Kelli found out they were pregnant in the summer of 2019 after their second IUI. Elizabeth had a great pregnancy and continued teaching, practicing yoga, and traveling throughout. She sought all prenatal care at an international hospital in Beijing. Elizabeth and Kelli made arrangements to come home to Michigan in the spring to give birth to their baby, to avoid any legal issues that might come up in China as same-sex parents.

In January, due to the COVID19 outbreak in China, their school decided to transition to online teaching. With that decision, Elizabeth and Kelli moved their flights sooner and arrived in Michigan at the end of January. They rented a long-term AirBnB so that they would have their own space when baby came, and continued to excitedly await baby’s arrival while enjoying the extra time catching up with friends and family back home.

Their plan, and Elizabeth’s dream, was to have an all-natural, vaginal delivery at the same hospital where Kelli was born. They were feeling positive with all the preparations they had made.  The due date came and went without any sign of labor and no dilation, even though baby seemed good and “ready”.  A few days later, Elizabeth started experiencing contractions and decided to track them on a contraction tracker app.  Twice throughout the day the app told her she was in active labor and that she should head to the hospital. Elizabeth thought it was too soon so they waited a while longer. They finally headed to the hospital later that evening and were admitted. While her contractions were strong and regular, she was not dilating at all. The next morning, after nearly 12 hours of laboring with Pitocin and no pain medication, Elizabeth requested an epidural.  Contractions continued strong and steady, but Elizabeth was still not dilating as she should have and there were now concerns about the baby’s heart rate. Throughout the day, her OB and the nurses decided to try a variety of interventions such as sweeping the membranes, manually breaking her water, assisting her into a variety of different positions, but nothing seemed to help.

expats in china birth story

After a full 24 hours in hospital, Elizabeth and Kelli discussed a c-section with their OB and decided to do it. It was the furthest thing from their birth plan but it seemed nothing else was helping and there were now some growing concerns for both the baby and Elizabeth.  Elizabeth had never even had surgery before, so the c-section experience wasn’t great. But their beautiful daughter, Frankie Adeline, was finally born at 9:23pm on March 23.

The postpartum period was both amazing and challenging.  It’s hard to have a newborn during a pandemic; breastfeeding proved to be trying; Elizabeth was diagnosed with postpartum depression. With the help of a lactation consultant, seeing a therapist, returning to yoga, and the support of her wife, Elizabeth has been able to bond with her daughter, is enjoying being a new mom, and is on the path to healing.

Elizabeth Tucker Bio

Elizabeth and her wife Kelli are international teachers who met in Kuwait and are currently teaching in Beijing, China. They are new moms to Frankie, born in March on the first day of Michigan’s Covid-19 lockdown. Elizabeth loves yoga, reading, and all things organizing. Kelli is an avid runner who has a new-found love for triathlons and completed a full IronMan in Taiwan. Elizabeth can be found on Instagram @liztheeuro and Kelli blogs about their experiences at https://kelliacochran.wixsite.com

Resources 

  • The Birth Hour
  • Taking Cara Babies
  • Holliday Tyson on YouTube
  • @drcassidy (instagram)
  • @expectingandempowered (instagram)

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Two Hospital Inductions at 37 Weeks

Both of Meghan’s births were, coincidentally, hospital inductions at 37 weeks. After a normal, healthy pregnancy with her first son, Gabriel, she was induced for low-fluid. She had an intervention-heavy but textbook induction that included pitocin, a foley bulb, and an epidural. Gabe was born after 45 min of pushing. They had a 6 day hospital stay due to jaundice.

After that, Meghan became a “birth nerd” and knew that she wanted a different experience for her next birth. When she got pregnant again in 2018, she switched providers and went to see midwives at a different hospital. This pregnancy was much more eventful with several hospital stays for bleeding in her third trimester. Even though she was hoping to go into labor on her own, Meghan consented to an induction after another round of bleeding at 37 weeks. This induction was so different from her first. She was supported by her friend and doula, Jes, as well as her partner. After only three hours of active labor her second son, Jasper, was born.

hospital induction birth story

Meghan Pow Bio

Meghan is raising two boys with her husband, Tyler, in North Carolina. She is a birth doula and owns a handmade, modern jewelry business called imperfectly co.

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Two VBACs (One During Wildfire Evacuation) after Cesarean Birth

Tayla shares her three birth story summaries in her own words below:

My first birth was six years ago. I was very uneducated and unknowingly unprepared for the birthing process. My water broke on April Fool’s Day and I was induced after 12 hours. There was no informed consent practiced during my induction, no support, verbal abuse from my OB and ultimately an emergency C-section (due to fetal distress) where I was put out under general anesthesia and my poor husband was left waiting in the dust. It left me shocked and traumatized. My postpartum period was also Traumatic. I did not have any breast-feeding support and I struggled immensely!

My second labor was two years later. In the town I live in we do not have midwives as an option so I was forced to have an OB again. He was not supportive of my VBAC and always mocked me when I reminded him that was my plan. Two weeks before my due date our entire city was evacuated due to a wildfire that destroyed 1/3 of the city. It was extremely stressful as the closest city was five hours away and I had no family in the province I live in.

My husband and I are both firefighter EMTs with the city department and I was actually at work when I was sent home and told to get out of the city. My husband was torn whether he should stay and fight the fire or drive with me for five hours to the closest city. I made him come with me because I was scared that I would go into labor on the side of the road by myself. He drove me to the closest city dropped me and my toddler off at a friend’s house and left to come back up to fight the fire.

The very next morning a midwife contacted me and said she would be honored to take me on as her patient. It was a silver lining because she was so supportive of my VBAC goals! The next two weeks were very stressful as I had nowhere to live and I couldn’t stay in my friends guest room with a toddler and expecting a new baby. I finally found a rental house and as I was nesting trying to make it as comfortable as possible I went into labor naturally. My husband was actually on his way to leave to go back up to Fort McMurray to fight the fire and I told him he would need to stay because labor was starting!

I ended up having back labor because baby was posterior and I labored alone in my rental house for many hours. My husband had to drive across a strange city to drop off my son at a friend’s house during rush hour. Not being from the city we didn’t realize that huge mistake we made. So I was alone entering active labor! I called a friend who had also been evacuated and she drove me to the hospital where the midwife met us. I was not prepared to cope with the pain of labor because I think in my mind I wasn’t really convinced I was going to have a VBAC. I ended up getting an epidural and had a successful vaginal birth! My postpartum period this time was a lot less stressful and I had great support from my midwives. Breastfeeding went better and recovery was like night and day compared to my c section recovery.

firefighter paramedic pregnant

In 2018, I got pregnant again with my 3rd! I was determined to have a different birthing experience this time around. The crazy part of my story is that I didn’t slow down my doula business while I was pregnant. I even delivered a baby during a precipitous birth while I was eight months pregnant! I attended my last Doula birth two days before I went into labor.

My water broke on a stormy night 10 days before my due date. I had lined up midwifery care in the closest city which is five hours away. My plan was to have a water birth in the birthing center and I was scheduled to leave in two days when the baby had other plans. My husband was working nights when my water broke and when he got home he was shocked to see that I had my kids packed in the van and all of our stuff packed and ready to go to Edmonton five hours away. He thought I was crazy and perhaps I was! There was just no way that I was going to have my baby in our local hospital. I was invested and I was determined to have my water birth.

Contractions hadn’t started so I figured if we left right away we might make it. I labored at my Doula’s house and got to the birthing center only 45 minutes before my baby was born. If I could do it again tomorrow I would! It was the most empowering day of my life and I’m so glad that I got to experience an unmedicated birth. My postpartum recover was amazing as well aside from being in a city far away from my own home. I came home that night after having the baby to sleep on an air mattress in my doula’s living room!

You would think that being an IBCLC, breastfeeding would go swimmingly, but again I struggled with low milk supply. A lot of people are shocked by this because of my profession, but it just goes to show that sometimes even with the best support women can still struggle! I feel like women are told or made to feel that the only real goal of birth is to walk out of it alive and with a healthy baby. What women need to understand is that there is so much more to the process than that goal. It’s a journey and a life altering event. I feel this is the biggest moment in a women’s life and it deserves respect and support. How a woman views her birth will stay with her forever.

wildfire evacuation birth story

Tayla Malott Bio

Tayla is a 34 year old paramedic firefighter full-time and I have my own business called mamasaurus. I am a certified birth Doula, childbirth educator, IBCLC, one of Canada’s only spinning babies parent educators and a few other things! I live in Fort McMurray Alberta with my husband who is also a firefighter/paramedic and our 3 crazy and beautiful boys. Hoping to have one more!

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.

Disempowering Cesarean Followed by Twins VBAC

After a disempowering birth with her first son that nearly ended in tragedy, Erica vowed to have a different experience when she got pregnant again and planned to have an unmedicated VBAC with her twins. With the help of the Birth Hour, doulas, and a supportive practice after a switch of providers at 28 weeks, Erica successfully had the VBAC she worked so hard to get. As a black woman navigating the healthcare system, Erica is excited to share her story in the hopes that it may help some other mom or mommy-to-be.

Erica Beal Bio

Erica is an educational consultant located in Greenbelt, Maryland. She lives with her husband and three wonderful children, including an inquisitive (perhaps maniacally so) three-year-old and her 9-month-old twins that are starting to get into everything. Erica enjoys Rose, Netflix, reading, and cuddles on the couch with her hubby. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

erica beal pregnancy

Resources

DC Birth Doulas (my doula group)
GW Obstetrics
La Vie Breast Massagers

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Military Family: Two Hospital Birth Stories with Pitocin

Kemah and her husband, Alex, are a military family who had their first daughter while Alex was deployed to Afghanistan. Kemah chose to see an OB for prenatal care, and wanted to try to achieve an unmedicated birth in a hospital. At 39 weeks 6 days, Kemah’s water broke after having a prenatal massage. She arrived to the hospital and was administered Pitocin. Pitocin contractions were intense and she ended up asking for an epidural. She delivered a healthy baby girl and with help from Skype, Alex was able to watch the birth while deployed. After birth, Kemah had a retained placenta which was manually removed by the doctor. Alex met Aria for the first time in person when she was four months old.

birth story military family

With their second pregnancy, Kemah and Alex were surprised to find out they were pregnant months after switching from Nexplanon, an arm birth control, to a pill birth control. Kemah chose to go to a different OB for her prenatal care. Her new doctor supported her goal of an unmedicated birth. Additionally, the hospital had resources in their labor and delivery suites to support coping measures in child birth. Due to her BMI, Kemah was required to do external fetal heart rate and fetal monitor activity appointments during her last trimester. And following one of those appointments, at 36+6, the baby was not passing kick-count tests. This led to another induction with Pitocin. Kemah was able to walk to cope with contractions and make it to 7 cm before requesting an epidural. Alex was home for this birth and was able to support Kemah throughout her labor and delivery. 

Kemah Muñoz Bio

Kemah and her husband, Alex, live in southern Arizona with their two little girls, Aria- 6, and Isabelle-3. Alex is a recruiter for the Army National Guard and Kemah recently opened an Etsy shop called Teemah by Kemah where she designs and screen print T-shirts. 

Babylist

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Two Homebirths and Cesarean Birth Due to Placenta Previa

Having grown up the daughter of a birth worker, Audra always knew she wanted home births just like her Mom. After two wonderful home birth experiences in a small NYC apartment, her family moved to Chicago for more space. When she and her husband found out they were expecting baby #3, Audra was excited to experience home birth again, this time in a house with her kids present. Plans had to change suddenly when during her 3rd trimester she discovered she had a complete placenta previa and would need a scheduled C-section at 37 weeks. Despite some initial devastation at having to change plans right in the middle of lockdown due to Covid-19, the birth ended up being a mostly positive experience, and gave her a deeper understanding for a variety of ways to give birth beautifully.

second homebirth

Audra Fullerton Bio

Audra is a mom of 3 living in the Chicago area. She and her husband lived in NYC for many years before heading back to her midwestern roots in 2016. After many years working in theatre, Audra started her food blog called The Baker Chick in 2011 where she posts recipes for desserts and other goodies. In addition to cooking and baking Audra loves knitting and sewing, all of which she posts about on her instagrams (@audrafullerton for personal and life content, @audra_thebakerchick for recipes!) 

cesarean birth placenta previa

Resource

Manhattan Birth

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.