Stillbirth, Pregnancy After Loss & Supporting Other Loss Parents

Lindsey Henke is the founder and Executive Director of Pregnancy After Loss Support, a writer, clinical social worker, wife, and most importantly a mother of two beautiful daughters and one sweet-smiling little boy. Tragically, her oldest daughter, Nora was stillborn after a healthy full-term pregnancy in December of 2012.

After the safe arrival of her second child, Zoe, in March of 2014, Lindsey was inspired to create a sacred place for other bereaved moms like herself to find support during their pregnancies that followed a loss, and Pregnancy After Loss Support, an online magazine and peer-to-peer support organization, was born. Knowing the journey to and through motherhood is not easy, Lindsey also provides professional support to other mothers struggling with loss, pregnancy after loss, and parenting after loss as a maternal mental health therapist in her private practice in Minneapolis. Lindsey’s writing about life after loss has been featured on Scary Mommy, Healthline, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, and The New York Times. She is currently working on her first book. Connect with her via PALS or on lindseymhenke.com.

cesarean after loss

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!

Positive Homebirth Birth Story After Two Miscarriages

After two miscarriages, we used progesterone to get pregnant and continued it throughout the first trimester. This pregnancy was pretty uneventful, aside from some aches and pains of growing a tiny human. My mother had carried 4 of the 5 of us to 42-43 weeks, so I was prepared to go post dates, as well. We started at home induction methods at 40 weeks, but it wasn’t until 41 +4 when a castor oil smoothie kick started things!

As I cued up an episode of The Birth Hour, my water broke all over our living floor at 5:15PM. Our homebirth midwives let us know that with the smoothie things can be intense at first and then plateau. My husband stayed in touch with them and around 9:30 said he thought they should come. They arrived just before 11PM to find that I was 10cm and bearing down during contractions. My little dude had been ROA and asynclitic in utero, so we did a lot of different positions at the end of labor to help move his head and body through the birth canal. At 1:19am, just about 8 hours from when my water broke, he was born at home and changed our lives forever.

Alyssa Blask Campbell Bio

Alyssa is the founder of Seed & Sew. She’s an emotional development expert, mama, and podcaster. She pinches herself on the daily because she truly can’t believe she has the best job: sharing with committed parents, teachers, and caregivers like the tools that change how you show up with tiny humans every day.

Connect with her via website Seed and Sew or @seed.and.sew on Instagram.

homebirth

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.

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. 

Miscarriage and Birth Stories from the Miscarriage Doula

Arden Cartrette is a grief and bereavement doula who found her calling to help others through pregnancy loss after a long fertility journey to her son, Cameron. With two miscarriages leaving her with trauma and needed the assistance of her reproductive endocrinologist to get pregnant – she opens up about pregnancy and live childbirth after infertility and loss. Arden founded The Miscarriage Doula Co which is an online service and resource for women who are going through a miscarriage and navigating life afterward.

You can learn more at themiscarriagedoula.co or @themiscarriagedoula on Instagram

miscarriage doula

Fairhaven Health

This episode is sponsored by Fairhaven Health, creators of Milkies and their new Vaginal Care & Comfort line. Milkies is a line of thoughtfully designed products for moms, by moms, to support you throughout your breastfeeding journey. Products include breast milk collection and storage, supplements, teas, nursing pads and much more!

Their Vaginal Care & Comfort line contains isotonic, paraben-free, glycerol-free, and oil-free products to support vaginal health. Their vaginal care line currently includes 5 products:

  • BabyIt, the only product specifically designed to be used with perineal massage during pregnancy. 
  • IsoFresh, a vaginal balancing gel that supports a healthy vaginal ecosystem
  • IsoFresh Probiotic to help replenish bacteria and balance yeast
  • BabyDance Fertility Lubricant which is pH-matched to fertile cervical mucus and tested to ensure it’s safe for sperm and eggs
  • And Sage Personal Moisturizer and Lubricant to help provide relief from vaginal dryness.

Fairhaven Health is generously offering 15% of all of their products with the code BIRTHHOUR at www.fairhavenhealth.com. In today’s episode, our guest Arden shares a bit about her experience with products from Fairhaven Health.”

Partial Molar Pregnancy, Epidural and Epidural-free Midwife Hospital Births

After experiencing a miscarriage due to a partial molar pregnancy Meghan & Ryan knew they wanted to try again once they were given the ok by their doctor. Five months after experiencing the loss, Meghan was pregnant. Over the course of the pregnancy she prepared for an unmedicated birth but was open to going with the flow. After three sleepless nights filled with contractions, Meghan’s contractions finally picked up. After days of no sleep, labor stalling at 8-9 cms, a fever, and her body trying to push starting at 6 cm Meghan decided on getting an epidural for rest. A few hours after the epidural, Isla Rose was born into her dad’s hands.

Once Isla turned one, Meghan found out she was pregnant with baby #2. The pregnancy was smooth and the plan for an unmedicated birth was the same. This time Meghan’s water broke but labor was not picking up. Meghan was positive for group b strep this pregnancy and had to go to the hospital earlier than intended. Despite wanting no interventions and intravenous monitoring, Meghan ended up with pitocin and being hooked up to a monitor. Luckily, the hospital provided a wireless monitor so she could still move around working through contractions. After another long labor, Tatum Robert was born and Meghan had the epidural free birth she desired.

epidural free pitocin

Meghan Hubbard Bio

Meghan lives in Seacoast New Hampshire with her husband Ryan and their two kids. Isla is 2.5 and Tatum will be one in March. Meghan teaches first grade but is also hoping to work with mothers in some capacity at some point soon. She can be found on instagram at: Meg.hubbard6. 

Resources

  • Local Kriya Birth Class
  • Isla Grace Sleep – https://islagrace.ca/sleep-courses/ Instagram: islagracesleep
  • Local Resource- baby led sleep & wellbeing specialist: Instagram: chelsea.macphail
  • Local (and virtual) Resource – Beth Janelle, Prenatal and postpartum workout plans and personal training. Instagram: Beth.janelle

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. 

Prenatal PPD & PPA During COVID-19, IUGR, ECV, Breech Cesarean Birth with Virtual Doula

Following an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured one of Shana’s fallopian tubes, she unexpectedly got pregnant almost immediately after her first loss. At the time, she was living in London, England and preparing for her husband, Doug, to move in early 2020. During the first half of Shana’s pregnancy she dealt with heavy bleeding from a subchorionic hematoma, untreated prenatal depression and anxiety, and was working towards submitting her PhD dissertation all whilst living on her own. As she and her husband were preparing for his transatlantic relocation, COVID-19 began shutting down borders, which prompted Shana to move back home to the DC area instead.

With the help of Shana’s long-time therapist in Maryland, she was introduced to both a psychiatrist specializing in perinatal mental health as well as Ursula, a doula and founder of Birth You Desire. With all three of their support and a special shout out to modern technology allowing for virtual services, Shana was able to do all she could to get her mind, body, and spirit prepared for the second half of pregnancy and everything ahead. At the start of her third trimester, Shana and Doug learned their baby was intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) and was breech, which required weekly visits to the midwife and OB for fetal monitoring as well as countless hours spent practicing Spinning Babies exercises, yoga, and receiving repeated chiropractic care. Whilst the conversations around the necessity of an early emergency cesarean section intensified as the weeks went on, their daughter had a miraculous growth spurt at 36 weeks, allowing her to reach full term (but was still stubbornly breech). An external cephalic version (ECV) was scheduled at 39 weeks.

Leading up to the ECV, it was uncertain whether their doula would be able to be physically present during the birth because of quickly changing COVID-19 restrictions. In a rare situation, Ursula’s virtual presence was a blessing because after 3 attempts of trying to get the baby to turn, Shana was taken into the operating room to deliver their daughter, Poppy, by cesarean section, whilst Ursula was on the phone with headphones shared between Shana and Doug offering support and guidance the entire time (even without COVID-19, it was unlikely she could be present for the ECV and certainly not in the OR).

new baby during covid

Aside from being more mucousy than what’s considered normal, Shana, Doug, and Poppy had a blissful first 24 hours together in the hospital. After that, however, an incredibly astute nurse noticed that Poppy would turn slightly blue when feeding and took her to the NICU for a quick peek. There everyone learned that Poppy was born with a fairly common congenital abnormality called tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) and esophageal atresia (EA), an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea and between the esophagus and stomach. She was immediately transferred an hour away to the NICU at Johns Hopkins Hospital with Doug, whilst Shana waited to be discharged the following day. Poppy had a successful primary repair of her esophagus and trachea at 3 days old and then proceeded to be in the hospital for the better part of 4 months. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, only one parent could be present in the hospital with Poppy at a time, so with the support of their families, Shana and Doug relocated to Baltimore to live in a nearby hotel. They encountered various complications including a blood infection, repeated narrowing of her esophagus, trouble feeding, terrible reflux, and very poor weight gain, which all required prolonged hospitalizations and several procedures. After 4 months, it was discovered that Poppy had a hiatal hernia caused from her initial surgery. She received a final surgery to address the hernia and had a gastric-tube put directly into her belly to help with feeding, which, so far, has made a tremendous difference in everyone’s quality of life.

Poppy is now nearly 6 months old and her parents are very much enjoying settling into their home as a family of 3 at long last. Shana is currently working through the cumulative trauma and complicated emotions around Poppy’s journey. Despite the challenges, Poppy wakes up every morning with the biggest smile on her face and is a stunning example of resilience and strength.

Shana Silverstein Bio

Shana lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband, Doug, their six month old daughter, Poppy Chaya, and their first baby, Marcel the Poodle. She is on the precipice of receiving her doctorate in neuroscience from University College London and the National Institutes of Health. Her research focuses on social learning and memory around empathy related behaviors. Shana is also a certified yoga teacher. Connect with her by email at shana.silverstein@gmail.com.

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