When A’briel became pregnant with her first child, she was quite surprised as one OBGYN had previously assured her that she’d need fertility treatment in order to conceive. She immediately sought out doula support and started to build a birth team full of strong African American women.
Due to a previous diagnosis of Type II Diabetes, A’briel knew she’d be having a hospital birth at the facility where she worked; but she had always planned to deliver without many interventions and epidural- free.
She scheduled herself to work up until 40 weeks, but was in for another huge surprise when she woke up to ruptured membranes on the day she turned 37 weeks. Once at the hospital, A’briel decided to augment labor with Pitocin, and 10 hours after her water had broken, she had her first intense contraction. Contractions would remain stead for the next 4 hours until she gave birth.
At 7 weeks postpartum, A’briel returned to work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic where she had to juggle a full-time night shift job, single parenthood, and maintaining a breastfeeding relationship, as well as the unknowns & constant changes that COVID would cause at her hospital.
A’briel Banks Bio
A’briel lives in Rural Arkansas with her 4 month old daughter, Alivia. She is a doula turner Labor and Delivery Nurse and is gearing up to pursue midwifery. She can be reached on Instagram @naturallybri__
Crate & Kids
This episode of The Birth Hour is sponsored by Crate and Kids. Crate and Kids is all about empowering the self-expression of families through environments that spark creativity and encourage individuality. Their versatile collection celebrates each new stage and helps you design a nursery that’s an extension of your own personal style.
Use code TheBirthHour at checkout to receive 10% off your full-price purchase of Kids furniture and more at crateandkids.com. It’s valid online only, and some exclusions apply, so see their website for details.
Naria and her husband, Luther, received unexpected news of their first pregnancy in January 2019. Though unexpected, years of being exposed to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences through family and education had prepared Naria to make informed decisions about the birth experience she wanted. Alongside her husband, nurse-midwife, doula, and mother, Naria was able to experience the unmedicated vaginal birth she wanted as she welcomed her baby girl Samaria Eve Menard. During her postpartum period, Naria struggled greatly with baby blues and with her adequacy as a mother. The words of wisdom from her doula sustained her during her time of transition into motherhood: ‘Surrender to the process’.
Naria Josefina Menard Bio
Naria was born and raised in NYC to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. Her ethnicity as an Afro-Latina played a huge role in her upbringing and how she views the world around her. These cultural ideals shaped her decisions on her pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences. She currently resides with her husband of almost four years and her beautiful 7-month-old daughter in South Florida. There, Naria serves as a teacher to 9th grade students while also working on completing her doula certification in hopes to be a voice for women of color in the birthing world and to further educate women of color on pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. You can connect with Naria on Instagram @mamanarnar30 and on Facebook at ‘Naria Josefina Menard’.
When Danielle and Sam conceived in early July, 2019, they didn’t realize the journey that was planned for their first child’s birth. The COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the US in force in early March, 2020, causing concern over the birth plan for Danielle’s March 28th due date. The original concerns were what many expecting parents currently worry about, “Will my partner or support-person be allowed in the room?” “Will my doula be allowed there?” However, on March 22nd, all those concerns changed.
Sam took a nap due to having a headache. His Apple Watch woke him up stating his heart rate was high (120-140bpm). Sam has a history of his heart beating too fast in a different rhythm so this was obviously concerning. Not wanting to, but knowing it had to happen, Danielle drove Sam to the ER and sat in the car in the parking lot, since visitors weren’t allowed while he was treated for dehydration to lower his heart rate. It was then when they discovered Sam had a fever; he was told they didn’t think he had COVID-19 but they did send out a viral panel for flus and other viruses. He was later released that night from the ER to go home.
Monday and Tuesday Sam didn’t feel great but didn’t feel too horrible (headache, low grade fever, fatigue). Tuesday, Danielle had a midwifery appointment and was the only one allowed in the office. She had a check and a membrane sweep (was 4cm, 70-80% effaced) and left to go home. On the way home, the hospital called and said all of Sam’s viral panel results came back negative and it was being sent out for a COVID-19 test. Danielle’s heart sunk.
Wednesday, March 25th in the evening, the dreaded call came; Sam tested positive for COVID-19. Hours of phone calls later to the midwife on call and Danielle’s doula, there were a few plans in place. Plan A: Keep the baby in until 41 weeks when Sam would be off quarantine. Plan B: Sam would be unable to be at the birth and Danielle’s doula would stay with her the whole time for their hospital stay. Well, the baby didn’t cooperate with Plan A because on March 26th around 4:30am, Danielle went into labor. She labored at home from 4:30am until 3:45pm on the 26th managing contractions and having Sam support with pressure on her lower back and changing positions regularly.
After a call with their doula, it was suggested to head to the hospital as contractions were one on top of the other and very painful. Sam drove Danielle to the hospital where he dropped her off at the front door. Danielle was met by her doula and nurse with a mask to wear because Danielle was presumed positive for COVID-19 since Sam was also positive. Danielle’s labor continued in a negative pressure, isolation room in the labor and delivery unit with everyone caring for her and baby in full personal protective equipment. It was during this time that the pediatric provider on call had to provide information on why it was recommended mom and baby be separated at birth. Danielle and Sam declined this and a waiver was signed.
Sam was present for the labor and delivery via FaceTime. Danielle continued to labor in the tub and then moved to the bed. She labored unmedicated through it being time to push (around 12:00am on March 27th). Danielle pushed from 12:30am until 2:32am when baby was born. Danielle and Sam didn’t know the sex before so it was then announced that their baby was a girl, named Eleanor. Danielle and Eleanor stayed in the hospital for a little over 28 hours until being released home. Sam picked Danielle and Eleanor up and met his daughter in person for the first time. They’re now recovering at home, riding out the isolation period for COVID-19.
Danielle Stone Bio
Danielle is a 28 year old living in the Springfield, Massachusetts area. She works full time as a Program Director for a community mental health agency in the mental health crisis division. Danielle is married to Sam, 29, from Retford, England. Sam works as a director at a local child care agency. Danielle and Sam met at summer camp in 2014, dating long distance for about one year, and Sam moving to America in September, 2015 to study his masters degree. The couple got engaged in August, 2016 and married in October, 2018. They now live together with their new baby, Eleanor (10 days old on April 6, 2020), Dog – Harley, and Cat – Ash. Connect with her on Facebook: Danielle Stone, via Instagram: @Danielle.EK.Stone or by Email: DanielleEKStone@gmail.com
Part I of this episode was sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow 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, Ameda 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.
Bonus — you may also qualify for free maternity compression garments like compression socks, maternity support band, and a postpartum recovery garment PLUS breast pump resupply products ranging from new bottles, tubing, and flanges to duck valves and pump membranes.
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!
Part II of 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.
After 10 years with her partner, Liz was facing two daunting life changes simultaneously: a failing relationship and a positive pregnancy test. 35 years old and pregnant for the first time, Liz had the amazing opportunity to become a mom, but she grappled with the fact that for her and her child to be safe and happy, she must leave an abusive relationship. Although difficult, with the support of her friends and family, Liz was able to safely start her life over and pregnancy gave her focus and great joy.
Liz’s pregnancy was physically pretty easy, but emotionally the 9 months were very trying. With her doula best friend at her side, Liz was able to plan for the labor and birth she had been wanting ever since she started dreaming of having a baby. With advanced maternal age and gestational diabetes, she was told an induction was unavoidable, but Liz was determined to have a medication (aside from Pitocin) free labor and birth.
A slow start to the induction and a few “old school” nurses who doubted her plans didn’t deter Liz from what she was focused on accomplishing. Once her labor kicked into gear, it was only six hours until she pulled her baby girl onto her chest for the first time. The experience changed her in so many more ways than just becoming a mother. Liz wants other women to know that no matter what circumstances surround the conception of your baby, you are entitled to celebrate, love, and be fulfilled from the experience of pregnancy and birth.
Liz Ekelund Bio
Liz and her 2.5 year old daughter, Neila, live in rural Southwestern Oregon. They enjoy time outdoors and traveling around the state to visit friends and family. A self-proclaimed “birth nerd,” Liz loves to study all things pregnancy and birth related when she is not working her “9-5” job in the mortgage industry. They are hoping to expand their small family in the near future, as Liz is actively trying for baby #2 by way of becoming a “Single Mother by Choice” to a little sibling for Neila.
FamilyAlbum Photo Sharing App
Today’s episode is sponsored by FamilyAlbum. FamilyAlbum is a family-focused photo sharing app with over 5 million users worldwide. FamilyAlbum helps you save, share, and remember the special moments in your baby’s life. You can even get started before baby is born and document your pregnancy.
FamilyAlbum app offers unlimited free storage, is completely ad-free, and provides smart, automatic organization. But my absolute favorite thing is that you can invite friends and family to view your photos privately and securely. You can even specify which family members see which photos. Your family will be notified when new photos are added and they can leave comments creating a fun conversation! You can also use suggested ideas for monthly photobooks, or create your own and then have them shipped straight to your door. The app keeps your memories safe, allowing you to recover them even if your phone is lost or damaged. To download this fun app head to the apple or google play app store and search for FamilyAlbum, or go to family-album.com!
This past year I had the amazing privilege of getting to work with Heather Gallagher to document our family from the end of my pregnancy through Harvey’s first birthday. I love that Heather offers this “year in the life” photography package because it focuses more on how the whole family changes and grows over a year rather than the more typical baby milestone photo packages I’d seen before. We have two older children and this year was HUGE for them in terms of changes and I’m so grateful to have these priceless images to remember our whole family unit over the course of the year that we welcomed baby number three into the fold.
If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend Heather Gallagher not only for this year-in-the-life package but for any of your photography needs (especially birth photography!). She also travels for photo sessions from time to time!
Heather is also a full spectrum doula which you can learn more about by reaching out to her at email@example.com or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum.
Our first photo session was a maternity photo shoot at the Austin Public Library which is one of our favorite places to explore together. The kids quickly became comfortable with Heather and were up to their typical silly antics.
The next time we saw Heather was for the birth! She arrived just 40 minutes or so before Harvey was born and probably would’ve missed it if she hadn’t had the foresight to be hanging around the area ‘just in case’ which I’m forever grateful for! Birth photos are the most beautiful images in the world and I look back at mine often. It can be hard to remember the details when you’re in “laborland” and having all of the little moments captured is not only really special but has also helped me in the processing of my birth story.
Postpartum Photo Session
Heather came back a few days later for a Postpartum shoot which really captures our big kids and how they were changing as they stepped into their new roles.
Two Months Old Photo Session
We had another photo shoot when Harvey was about 2 months old and It’s really special because we actually ended up moving soon after so I love having these images in the home that he was born in.
6 Months Old Photo Session
When Harvey was six months old, we had a photo session at our new home and I also got to model some of my sweet friend Hailey’s breastfeeding clothes from Chapter Goods. This are definitely my most favorite photos of nursing which is such a huge part of my journey as a mother and feels extra tender this time since we don’t plan to have any more babies.
9 Months Old at our Favorite Brewery
This is one of my favorite sessions which is so funny because it was actually pretty short and really casual! My kids were in a great mood and we were all in our happy place: Jester King Brewery in Austin. I loved that we captured the short window where Adelaide’s two front teeth were missing and Harvey had changed SO much since 6 months old!
One Year Old Birthday Photo Session
We finished our year together with Heather capturing Harvey’s 1st Birthday party! Of course I love all of the images but more than that, it was so nice to not have to worry about where my phone was so I could be taking pictures as well and I am in way more of the photos than I would’ve been as well. I think it helped keep everyone else off of their phones as well especially when it came time for the smash cake—I noticed that everyone didn’t do the typical thing of all trying to film this moment because they knew Heather had it covered.
It’s so surreal to have more than a year captured of our family and putting together this blog post was so much fun as I went back through all of the images. It was defiitely hard to pick my favorites and I’m sure my favorites will change over time! I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into a year in the life of our little family! If you are in the Austin area, I highly recommend Heather Gallagher not only for this year-in-the-life package but for any of your photography needs (especially birth photography!). Heather is also a full spectrum doula which you can learn more about by reaching out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum. Thank you Heather!!!
Kyra and her husband Oscar uploaded their first video to OKbaby in 2015. At the time, they were 18 years old and expecting their first child, dealing with the challenges many teen parents face, such as finishing high school and finding financial stability.
After years of sharing their lives with the world (as well as two more babies), they have engaged millions of devoted fans and now host two wildly popular channels and have a massive Instagram following.
OKbaby features the entire family as they share their experiences – from everyday activities to travel and adventure. Fans love watching the family grow and explore life together as they face the challenges of being a young family with love, humor, and tons of fun. Connect with Kyra on Instagram and YouTube.
Crate and Kids
This episode of The Birth Hour is sponsored by Crate and Kids. Crate and Kids understands the joys, surprises (and challenges) that come with having a baby. That’s why their warm and modern designs are made just for your growing family while also allowing you to keep your sense of style.
Use code TheBirthHour10 at checkout to receive 10% off your full-price purchase of furniture and more at crateandbarrel.com/kids. It’s valid online only, and some exclusions apply, so see their website for details.