Gestational Diabetes, Induction, and Becoming a Single Mother by Choice

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.

plus size 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!


Year in the Life Documentary Photography with Heather Gallagher

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 heather@heathergallagherphotography.com or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum.

Heather and I first met at the Born into This conference in 2018

Maternity Photos

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.

Birth Photography

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 heather@heathergallagherphotography.com or following her on Instagram @lifesaspectrum. Thank you Heather!!!

Teen Pregnancy and Cesarean Births with Kyra of OKbaby

Kyra Sivertson Bio

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.

kyra OKbaby

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. 

Failed Epidural & Preeclampsia Induction, then a Doula-supported, Healing Hospital Birth

Despite an autoimmune condition that can interfere with fertility, Amy Leigh became pregnant easily with her first son. It was uneventful – besides nausea until 23 weeks, and having to cut off her wedding ring due to being so swollen. Amy Leigh approached birth with great avoidance and the hopes that she would get an epidural, sleep through labor, wake up, and push a baby out without feeling any of it. She was instead induced with preeclampsia and her epidural did not work. This left her facing the reality of birth stuck in bed, hooked up to wires, and drowsy on magnesium. After pushing for 2 hours, her son was born, whisked away to be bathed, and Amy Leigh was left with a placenta that had to be manually extracted. Migraines, NICU time, constant pumping, and sleep deprivation finished out this traumatic experience that left her afraid of having another child.

dad skin to skin

After learning of her pregnancy with baby 2, Amy Leigh sought the help of a perinatal therapist. She was able to process and grieve her traumatic birth and approach the new birth with an open heart. Amy Leigh and Kevin hired a doula and worked with supportive OB. Her second son came on his own a few days before his due date. She decided to go for it at the last second and try an epidural again- this time it worked (inserted right as she hit transition). She and Kevin rested all night, and she peacefully gave birth with her doula and husband by her side, all within 12 hours. Her son remained on her chest for 2 hours after birth and was not bathed until the next day. With both births, a military PCS move followed shortly after, though the second time she was on a plane with a 2 year old and newborn just 12 days after giving birth.  

Amy Leigh Fernandez Bio

Amy Leigh is a mom to 2 boys (Ryan, 3.5 years and Finn, 14 months), partner to Kevin. They are a military family living in Southern California with their boys & two black labs. Amy Leigh was inspired by healing from her own traumatic first birth to use her role as a clinical social worker to help other families. She is a licensed therapist for Hold Space Healing, a private psychotherapy practice in Temecula, CA, where she works with new moms, perinatal mental health and all “mom life” issues, as well as military family readiness and weight-inclusive wellness for those who want to stop dieting and make peace with food and body. She is currently working on her Perinatal Mental Health certification (PMH-C) with Postpartum Support International. Contact- holdspacehealing.com or @holdspacehealing on Instagram.

Resources

Motif Medical

Motif Medical 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

Unmedicated Hospital Birth & Homebirth with Breastfeeding Complications

Natural Hospital Birth

Linnaea and her husband, Justin, opened their hearts to welcome a child a few months after they were married. It didn’t take long to find out that they were pregnant with their first son. Linnaea’s first pregnancy was relatively normal with no complications and they decided on an OB and a natural hospital birth. Linnaea went into labor at 36 weeks and 6 days when her water broke at around 7:30 in the morning. As they had agreed with her OB, they packed their bags and headed to the hospital. Initially she didn’t really feel any contractions, but within a few hours, the contractions began and continued to increase in frequency and intensity throughout the day. Her son Henry was born just before 6pm.

Peaceful Home Birth with Breastfeeding Complications

When their first son, Henry, was 17 months old, Linnaea and Justin learned that they were expecting their second child. After experiencing the challenges of having a natural birth in a hospital and feeling like they had to fight to avoid interventions with the hospital staff and OB, Linnaea and Justin decided to plan to have their second baby at home with midwives.

After interviewing a couple of different midwives, they felt very comfortable with the midwives at Birthstream Midwifery and began seeing them for Linnaea’s prenatal visits at around 15 weeks. A couple of days before reaching 38 weeks, Linnaea started having mild contractions. After laboring pretty easily for most of the night, she went into active labor Saturday morning. Once Henry, now 2 years old, left to stay with a friend, she called her midwife, Leslie. After about 2 hours of active labor and 5 minutes of pushing, Oliver was born at 11:28am.

midwives at homebirth

Linnaea was very thankful for having the amazing, supportive, and peaceful home birth that she had hoped for. Unfortunately, her postpartum period brought on some unexpected breastfeeding challenges.

Oliver initially seemed to latch well in the first hours after birth, but after the first few days, Linnaea was experiencing significant nipple pain and damage along with a clogged duct and threatened mastitis. Linnaea started pumping while continuing to try to breastfeed in order to make sure that Oliver received enough milk and to establish and maintain her milk supply. Over the next couple of weeks, Linnaea’s midwives helped her connect with two lactation consultants who each suggested that Oliver likely had a posterior tongue tie and a high palate; both recommended alternative latching positions and techniques as well as craniosacral massage therapy for Oliver to help improve his breastfeeding effectiveness and reduce Linnaea’s pain. The lactation consultants also proposed the option of having a tongue clipping procedure performed that could release Oliver’s tongue and allow him to breastfeed. After trying all of the other options, Linnaea and Justin decided to take Oliver to a pediatric dentist to have his tongue released with a laser procedure. The day after the procedure, Linnaea was in severe pain from another clogged duct that had again turned into mastitis, and went to see an OB to get antibiotics. Unfortunately the clog had turned into an abscess and required surgical intervention. The wound took about 2-3 months to heal completely. During that time, Linnaea continued to work on breastfeeding with Oliver, but he decided that he was not really interested in breastfeeding. However, he was doing very well with breastmilk in bottles, so Linnaea continued pumping to provide breastmilk for him until he was 1 year old.

Linnaea is very grateful for the support she received from her family, friends, midwives, and lactation consultants throughout the journey and hopes that in sharing this story, she can help other moms who may face similar challenges. Once piece of advice that helped her through the toughest times was to never give up in your worst or most difficult moment, and to try to keep going until you can reach a state of mind where you can make the best decision for you, your baby, and your family.

sibling at homebirth

Linnaea Headlee-Borden Bio

Linnaea is 33 years old and lives in the Bay Area of California with her husband, Justin, and 2 sons, Henry and Oliver. She is a part time engineering contractor, full time mom, and enjoys crafting, cooking, and gardening in her spare time. You can connect with her on Instagram at: linnaea.hb or email: linnaeaheadleeborden@gmail.com

Resources

Know Your Options Childbirth Course 
Kellymom 
La Leche League – Solano County 
Birthstream Midwifery 
BirthTube on Facebook 
The Birth Hour
All About Breastfeeding Podcast
The Longest Shortest Time Podcast

Babylist

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.

Epidural Hospital Birth & Unmedicated Hospital Birth

Sarah had planned on an unmedicated hospital birth with her first child, but eventually got an epidural after becoming frustrated with a difference in cervical checks done by the nurse and the on-call doctor. For her second labor, she decided to try again for an unmedicated birth and decided to hire a doula for extra support. Her second labor was much easier and quicker and she was able to achieve the birth she had hoped for.

Sarah Jones Bio

Sarah lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Roger, and their two little boys, Catesby (2) and George (2 weeks). Sarah is an occupational therapist and works in home health. She enjoys time with family and friends, cooking, music, and traveling. She has a strong passion for birth and breastfeeding. You can find her on Facebook as Sarah Croft Jones and Instagram @sayrahrah.

unmedicated birth hospital

Resources

Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Birth Matters
Spiritual Midwifery
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
The Milky Way documentary
KellyMom.com for breastfeeding
Evidenced Based Birth podcast
The Birth Hour podcast, of course!

Expectful

Expectful is the #1 guided meditation 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 that can help you conceive and have a happier, healthier pregnancy and baby. Their guided tracks – which were made specifically for hopeful, pregnant, and new moms – help you reduce stress, improve sleep, and connect with your little one. You can go to expectful.com/birthhour to get a special offer: an extended 14-day free trial of Expectful.