Nicole and her husband, Kyle, were excited to try to start a family in 2019. Nicole had a prior medical history of anxiety and had been taking the same anti-anxiety medication for the past ten years without any issue. Prior to trying to conceive, Nicole made a family planning appointment with her OB in order to check the medication’s safety or to be prescribed an alternative that was safe to conceive on. When told by her OB that nothing was 100% safe and she should consider weaning off her medication, Nicole did so. Ultimately, this sent her into an emotional tailspin.
Upon receiving that positive pregnancy test, Nicole and Kyle were elated. Heightened anxiety after weaning off her medication coupled with first trimester hormones led Nicole to seek out a second opinion in regards to starting medication. To her relief, she found a OB who prescribed her a medication that had been used in pregnancy and had an overall good prognosis. Around 12 weeks, Nicole switched to midwifery care and focused on learning how to cope with labor pain and fulfill her dream of having a natural vaginal birth. Nicole went into labor at 40 weeks and one day and delivered Claire in what she describes as “the perfect natural birth” that she was able to achieve with the help and support of both her husband and her midwife.
Nicole’s postpartum was extremely difficult as she was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder during the height of Covid. She experienced breast-feeding issues with Claire which led her to exclusively pump. She ended up not returning to work after her maternity leave ended as she continued to battle her diagnosis during a time when the world had shut down. It was with the help of a psychiatrist and the proper medication dosage that Nicole started to feel somewhat normal. The overall anxiousness did not completely subside until she had ended breastfeeding when Claire was 11 months old.
After Claire’s first birthday, Kyle and Nicole decided to try to conceive again and to their surprise it happened quite quickly. The couple had reservations considering Nicole’s last pregnancy and postpartum but her psychiatrist assured them that relapse was highly unlikely as long as Nicole remained at her current medication dosage. Nicole’s pregnancy was uneventful until she contracted Covid at 24 weeks pregnant. Thankfully, her symptoms were mild but she contemplates that this may have been the reason she went into preterm labor at 36 weeks 6 days as Covid has been linked to preterm labor. After 7 hours of active labor and dilating to 6 cm, labor ended abruptly after an IV fluid bolus. Charlotte was born two weeks later after a four hour labor which almost ended in a car delivery.
Nicole’s second postpartum was nothing short of redemption. She felt that she was able to enjoy her newborn daughter in ways she never was able to with her first. The only anxiety she felt was what she described as “normal for a new mom of two”. While redeeming and at times blissful, it brought about a sense of guilt for her experience with Claire. Nicole was able to breastfeed Charlotte who was diagnosed with a dairy and soy intolerance two weeks after birth. Nicole was able to eliminate both from her diet and Charlotte is currently thriving.
Nicole hopes that by sharing her story it may provide a glimmer of hope for mamas with similar experiences.
Nicole Turcotte Bio
Nicole and her family reside in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. She and her husband, Kyle, share daughters Claire (2 yrs.) and Charlotte (4 mo). Nicole is a registered nurse/current stay at home mom and Kyle owns a landscaping/tree removal company. Instagram handle – @nicole.m.turcotte
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Despite some severe nausea and vomiting during the first twenty weeks of her pregnancies, Kelsey was lucky to have two healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies after a miscarriage in late 2018.
During her first pregnancy after the miscarriage, Kelsey and her husband spent nine months preparing for labor, birth, and postpartum. Kelsey was open to medical interventions if needed, but ultimately desired to have an unmedicated hospital birth. Aside from being GBS+ and requiring antibiotics, Kelsey got her “plan A” for her first birth experience. It was a beautiful, empowering, unmedicated birth.
Kelsey became pregnant again in 2021 and was due just after her daughter’s second birthday. This pregnancy was harder due to even worse nausea and vomiting, as well as pelvic pain for a few months. However, she had another very positive unmedicated birth with her son; this labor was similar in many ways to her first, yet still unique.
Overall, Kelsey believes her empowering birth and postpartum experiences were due to an incredible amount of physical and mental preparation, as well as unwavering support from her husband, family, coworkers, and friends.
Kelsey Norris Bio
Kelsey, her husband (Nick), their two children, and their dog, live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Kelsey is a full-time pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Lactation Counselor. Her own breastfeeding journey with her daughter inspired her to become certified as a Lactation Counselor, which compliments her job as a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist perfectly. In her free time, she enjoys water sports, traveling, and good food. Connect with her on Instagram @kelseynorris.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Aeroflow Breastpumps. Aeroflow has helped millions of new and expecting parents discover the breastfeeding and postpartum essentials covered by their insurance including breast pumps, maternity compression, and lactation education & support.
They take care of everything – including all paperwork, working with your insurance company, and explaining your options to get these free essentials shipped straight to your door. Aeroflow offers all major breast pump brands including Medela, Spectra, Motif, Lansinoh, Ameda, Elvie, Willow and more.
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 we sent you! Bonus — use the promo code “TBH15” in their online shop for 15% off all supplies and accessories.
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.
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.”
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.
To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!
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’.
To listen to this episode, and hundreds more birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter Patreon here!
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.