With her first pregnancy, Grace was lucky enough to get pregnant when ‘trying, but not trying’. She had a straightforward pregnancy and was planning to have a homebirth under the care of an excellent midwife with a lot of experience. At 38 weeks Grace’s water broke on a Monday afternoon, contractions started, they quickly became regular with 3-4 decent contractions every 10 minutes that she had to work through. Grace labored at home through the night with her husband, sister and midwife supporting her. By Tuesday morning labor was stalling and was stop and start all day. On Wednesday Grace spent the day doing the Miles circuit and having acupuncture to try and get things moving.
On Thursday, Grace opted to go into the hospital to get induced and was only 2cm. She was given Cervidil midday, progressed to 3cm and then was put on a Pitocin drip and given antibiotics since it had now been 3 days since her waters had broken. By 2am on Friday there was still no progress and it was decided that the best course of action was a C-section. At 4am on Friday (nearly 4 days after labor first began) Ezra was delivered and much to everyone’s surprise he was Breech.
As it turns out Grace has a partial bicornuate uterus which hadn’t been picked up in any scans – this results in your uterus being a heart shape with two pockets. Ezra’s head was lodged in one of the pockets so it didn’t present as a typical breech and in all vaginal examinations and palpations of baby nobody had realized.
Despite labor being the opposite to what Grace imagined, it was a very positive birth. Grace had an amazing team around her who made sure she got to make decisions and have a voice during her time at the hospital.
Grace went on to have a beautiful postpartum period. Ezra was an excellent feeder and she was cared for well by her midwife, friends, family and church.
Grace’s journey to her second pregnancy was longer than expected. After a year of trying Grace was diagnosed with secondary infertility with no obvious answers as to why. It was thought the uterus shape may have been contributing. 2.5 years in to trying Grace was booked in for an investigative surgery to see if they could snip the septum and the uterus could resume a more normal shape. A week before surgery Grace found out she was pregnant.
Grace felt anxious in the first 12 weeks as there is a high chance of miscarriage with partial bicornuate uterus as the embryo can implant into the septum and not get enough nutrients. Thankfully there were no issues and Grace had an uneventful pregnancy up until 31 weeks when she developed an “irritable uterus”. This meant hours of sore tightening’s every few days until she gave birth at 39 weeks.
This time it was obvious by 28 weeks this baby was also breech so the decision was made to have an elective C-section, however Grace was hoping to go into spontaneous labor and then have the C-section. When Grace was 38 weeks pregnant, New Zealand was put into a strict lockdown for 8 weeks. Everyone was to remain at home and not see anybody outside of their homes. It also meant Grace’s husband was not allowed to stay once she was in recovery and would not be able to see her again until she came home. At 39 weeks, Grace woke at 1am to her waters breaking, within 10 minutes she was having regular strong contractions. She went in to the hospital with her midwife and husband and by 4am Micah was delivered via C-section. Grace spent one night in the hospital and was able to go home to be with her family the next day. Grace had another great recovery and felt well supported even if it was more from afar this time around.
Grace Sheat Bio
Grace lives in Christchurch, New Zealand with her husband James and two energetic boys, Ezra and Micah. She is a Speech and Language Therapist who loves getting to work closely with families in the community. In her spare time she can be found exploring all the beautiful places NZ has to offer with her family. Connect with Grace via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Podcasts: The Birth Hour/ Kiwi Birth Tales/ Australian Birth stories
BabyIt from Fairhaven Health
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All of Charity’s babies were born in the UK. Her oldest son was born vaginally on the operating table as preparations were being made for an emergency cesarean section, and her second son was born in the complete opposite atmosphere – peacefully in a birth tub in the living room of her small flat in central London. When Charity found out her third pregnancy was a twin pregnancy, she was utterly shocked. She immediately went to work preparing and advocating for an unmedicated twin birth in hospital, and the arrival of her babies after a gentle induction and through-the-night labor was powerful.
Charity is a mom of four that recently relocated from London, England (where all her babies were born) to Provo, Utah. Her oldest had just turned four years old when her twins were born – so her stay-at-home mom life is chock full of chaos … and joy! Charity’s professional background is in education, and she is passionate about women educating themselves about the wonder and power of pregnancy and childbirth. Connect with her on IG @CharityEyreWright or via wrightnowblog.com.
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Sarit and Jakob lived in Geneva, Switzerland when they first started trying to have a baby. Sarit was diagnosed shortly thereafter with PCOS, so she learned to advocate for herself within the Swiss medical system. Almost a year later and with the help of letrozole, she was pregnant. Sarit then used her newfound skill of self-advocacy and the privilege of good health insurance to surround herself with kind, evidence-based providers for the birth of their son. This eventually translated into choosing a birth center in central Geneva close to the university hospital and hiring a doula. Sarit and Jakob also self-educated and prepared for the birth as much as possible, taking multiple courses including the Know Your Options birth course, and practicing coping techniques such as Hypnobabies hypnobirthing.
Their son’s birth, 48 hours from start to finish, was a powerfully positive experience and almost entirely painless. Elena Piantino, their doula, was instrumental support, preventing the need for a hospital transfer on two occasions. Though the labor itself was calm, Sarit and Jakob’s son August entered the world to the sound of Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine and Sarit roaring “ow, my asshole!”.
Almost two years later, Sarit and Jakob found out they were pregnant again. By this time, they had moved to Bonn, Germany, and the only birth center was booked out by the time Sarit was 7 weeks pregnant. Through a friend, they had the luck of hiring a midwife that could attend both hospital and home births. Though Jakob and Sarit planned a hospital birth, Sarit had a feeling it may be worthwhile to prepare for a home birth. This time, they mostly prepared by rewatching the Know Your Options videos and using them as dialogue prompts, and skimming The Birth Partner book. Sarit also meditated with Hypnobabies and Expectful meditations.
On the day they were meant to induce, Sarit woke up from a nap with a mild, painless contraction. Less than 4 hours later, a very surprised Jakob caught baby Aurelia, using what he remembered from their son’s birth. While waiting for the midwife to arrive, Jakob ran to the bookshelf for The Birth Partner and double checked the unassisted birth checklist. Luckily everyone was healthy and it was another positive and empowering birth.
Sarit Quirin Bio
Sarit lives in Bonn, Germany with her husband Jakob and children August and Aurelia. She feels lucky to have lived in New York City, Buenos Aires, Hamburg, and Geneva after growing up in the Northeast United States. Now she works in next-generation computing and in her free time joyfully makes spreadsheets about everything from social movements to Halloween parties to the birth of her children. She would love to connect via Instagram @saritish or via email at saritquirin (at) gmail.com.
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After trying for the better part of 2019 to get pregnant with no luck, J.J. and her partner decided to put having a family on hold for 2 years in order to move from their home in Geneva, Switzerland to Myanmar (Burma) for a 2-year work assignment. Before leaving Switzerland and taking a 2 year break off of trying for a baby, they even froze embryos via J.J.’s generous health insurance in order to not have to worry about facing difficulty later down the road. To say that the next two years did not go as planned would be an understatement. A few months after arriving in Myanmar (Burma) in January 2020, J.J.’s employer evacuated her and her partner to Thailand due to the threat of facing a pandemic within a country with some of the worst healthcare in the world (they could not both be evacuated to their home countries since they don’t have the same passport(s), thus they were sent to Thailand). Due to an intense, prolonged bout of salmonella messing up her system during the month of March, J.J. unexpectedly found herself pregnant while living out of a suitcase during a global pandemic in Phuket, Thailand while they waited for the Myanmar borders to re-open. Early pregnancy was difficult for J.J. as she was nauseas 24 hours a day and had intense food aversions; the silver lining to feeling so awful was that she was working remote while in Phuket and could thus work from bed. Then, when J.J. was 11 weeks pregnant her partner, along with a few neighbors around their Airbnb, came down with mysterious body rashes, headaches and body aches. Their worst fears were confirmed when her partner and the others tested positive for Zika. In order to get out of the area where Zika was obviously active, J.J. and her partner fled Phuket for Bangkok via a long 12 hour journey in the car while still suffering from intense “morning sickness”.
Many urine, blood and antibody tests were performed in order to rule out the possibility that J.J. had contracted Zika anytime during the 11 weeks she had been pregnant before leaving Phuket. Not feeling comfortable staying in Thailand as her pregnancy progressed, J.J. left Thailand to spend her 2nd trimester in the German village where her father lives. She spent the next few months missing her partner (who stayed in Thailand) but otherwise having a very peaceful 2nd trimester working remote, taking long walks along the Rhine River listening to the Birth Hour, and getting quality time with her father and German family. A doctor in Germany also finally confirmed that she had not contracted Zika at any point during her pregnancy in Thailand. Then, a 2nd wave of COVID-19 in August 2020 confirmed that the Myanmar borders would not open anytime soon and therefore J.J. and her partner reunited in Europe in September 2020. Determined to have a vacation before welcoming a child into their family, J.J. and her partner spent the month of October in Greece before returning to the Geneva, Switzerland area in November to have their daughter. While seeing an OBGYN for a check up in Athens, a toxoplasmosis test was performed because stray cats are so rampant in Greece. Unfortunately, that test came back positive; this did not help J.J.’s already fragile mental/emotional state after having already dealt with Zika.
The same week J.J. was meant to sign off from work and have a month of pre-partum tranquility and birth preparation, J.J. experienced preterm premature rupture of the membrane (PPROM). After checking into the hospital and receiving antibiotics to avoid infection, their daughter Zoé was born 2 days later (exactly 4 weeks early) during the height of the 2nd wave of COVID-19 in Geneva, Switzerland. While J.J. originally wanted to attempt an unmediated birth, because she went into active labor at midnight and labored for 9 hours without dilating past 2 centimeters, her exhaustion helped her make the choice to get the epidural along with a generous amount of Pitocin. After a post-epidural nap, J.J. woke up fully dilated, pushed for less than 5 minutes and Zoé was born at 2.7 kilograms (5.9 lb) and 47 centimeters long (pretty good for 4 weeks early!). Unfortunately, during the skin-to-skin period there was a chaotic, and frantic search for a retained membrane wherein almost 10 medical staff searched in vain for 20 minutes before finding and removing the membrane. Despite having a baby less than 6 lb, J.J. had 2nd degree tears on her labia and cervix.
In Switzerland you are forced to choose the baby name within 3 days. Unfortunately, due to her early arrival and the COVID-19 restrictions only allowing her partner at the hospital 1 hour a day, they chose the “wrong” name for their daughter and ended up going with a different one when she was 2 months old (they’re still in the administrative process of changing it!), Otherwise, after 6 days together in the hospital together wherein Zoé was treated for temperature regulation and jaundice, J.J. and baby left the hospital in early December. Post-partum included some intense hormones (post partum rage), a difficult breastfeeding journey and pretty severe social isolation due having a pre-term pandemic baby in the middle of winter. A few weeks after the birth, J.J. and her partner were able to meet with the head midwife from the hospital in order to fully debrief with her the events before/during/after her daughter’s birth (she had a full, minute-by-minute transcript of the birth); this service is offered routinely to women in Switzerland that didn’t “love” their birth experience and at least for J.J. and her partner it helped immensely in better processing the birth of their daughter.
At 3 months post partum, the same day J.J. and her partner received Zoé’s passport in order to return ‘home’ to Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), the Burmese military staged a coup d’etat and imprisoned the democratic leaders of Myanmar. Therefore, J.J. and her family now live in Thailand and will return to their ‘real’ home in Switzerland at some point next year.
Jessica F. Bio
I am a 35 year old German American (raised between Florida and Massachusetts) and have been an ‘expat’ for the past 12 years in Germany, Nepal, Switzerland, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand (though Switzerland has become my primary home base). I work in the international NGO domain as a project manager and business development specialist. I live with my partner of 5 years and our 11 month old daughter Zoé in Thailand. Connect with her on Instagram @jjfleskes.
Lactation consultant (free in France), do a lot of breastfeeding research before birth
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By the time the baby was ready to arrive on a warm London day, Poppy’s birth preparation gave her the tools she needed to labor at home for 15 hours with her husband, Tom, using just a birth ball, water therapy, and vocalization. Poppy arrived at the hospital fully dilated, and two hours later baby Juniper was born. Poppy shares how it wasn’t picture perfect, but rather “a beautifully awkward moment, two human beings meeting for the first time”.
After an empowering birth experience, things took a turn for the worse as Juniper was rushed to the NICU. Poppy and Tom were told that ‘Due to COVID’ there were limited visiting hours and no beds available for the parents. Poppy, dazed and exhausted after giving birth, didn’t know how to react. Tom stepped in to advocate for their family and argued that mum and baby could not be separated. Five days later the three of them were home and healthy, all the closer for the experience.
Poppy Child Bio
Poppy is a birth educator and podcaster from London. After giving birth to her daughter, Juniper, she felt “a fire ignite inside her” and knew she had to spread the positive message about birth. Since then she has devoted all of her time sharing knowledge on her ‘Pop That Mumma’ podcast. Topics include, pregnancy mental health, empowered birthing, and conscious parenting. Poppy coaches pregnant people and their birth partners to view pain in labour as healthy, functional, and powerful. She runs Power Hour sessions and full courses both in-person and online. If you’d like to get in touch with Poppy, head over to her IG page: @ Popthatmumma
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Keelie and her partner decided to start their family while living abroad in the Middle East. Keelie’s first pregnancy was smooth until a concern at 34 weeks of low amniotic fluid levels. While subsequent ultrasounds remained moderately concerning, the health of the baby remained strong. At 38 weeks Keelie began having prodromal labor until she experienced premature rupture of membranes. This resulted in an induction and birth – 3 hours later – without an epidural. Keelie’s second pregnancy included a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and an epidural-assisted birth at a joint midwife/doctor practice at a different hospital in the country. Both births were followed by postpartum hemorrhage which was quickly addressed by the medical professionals. While her first birth was a moderately traumatic whirlwind, her second was a far more peaceful, mother-led birthing experience.
Keelie Sorel Bio
Keelie is an American Student Affairs professional living and working in the Middle East. Originally from Colorado, she and her partner, Jake, have 2 kids: 2-year-old Amara and 2-month-old Nadir, and a fur baby, a 6-year-old mutt.
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