Two Birth Center Births & PPROM Baby with Congenital Heart Defects

Valerie’s journey to motherhood started with a surprise pregnancy in college that unexpectedly catapulted her into the world of midwifery, natural birth, and was a huge time of transformation in her life. Mosely was born at 40w5d in a birth center, surrounded by his dad, grandpa, grandma, aunt and midwife.

birth center birth

Three and a half years later her second pregnancy and birth center birth had a few hiccups along the way in the form of a subchorionic hemorrhage. Despite the minor complication, she delivered Rocco at 40w2d after only 1.5hr of active labor in the same birth center suite and surrounded by the exact same people plus a big brother and doula.

PPROM congenital heart defect

Five and a half years later, nothing could have prepared Valerie for the devastating complications she had to face with her third pregnancy.  Complications started around 9 weeks with a subchorionic hemorrhage.  Shortly after the bleeding stopped, her baby boy was diagnosed with congenital heart defects via ultrasound and fetal echo.  Then, her water broke at 22 weeks.  They were given less a 1% chance of him surviving the pregnancy after the rupture.  She managed to miraculously stay pregnant after her PPROM (preterm premature rupture of membranes) for 9 very tumultuous weeks (one of which included a hospital stay for a suspected placenta abruption).  At 31w3d Rex was born after his parents arrived at the hospital just in time for Valerie to push him out into the hands of his NICU and CICU teams.  

Rex spent over 3 months in the hospital and had 4 open heart surgeries before he was 8 months old. Valerie is still amazed by the miracles that have taken place in her body and is excited to share the story of her miraculous boy that beat all the odds.

Valerie Rowekamp Bio

Valerie is a 37 year old mom of Mosely (12), Rocco (9) and Rex (3).  She’s a Texan living in Denver, Colorado since 2013.  Valerie is extremely passionate about style, beauty, personal growth, spirituality and women’s empowerment. She co-hosts Facing 40 podcast which celebrates the evolution that happens to women as they “level-up”.  You can find her on instagram @charmedvalerie and @facing40podcast or her blog www.charmedvalerie.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

OB/GYN has a Preemie by C-section with Inadequate Anesthesia

During Nicole’s first pregnancy, her baby was diagnosed with a rare intestinal malformation called duodenal atresia. She went into labor at 32 weeks and went on to have a c-section with inadequate anesthesia. Her baby had surgery 3 days after birth and spent a month in the NICU. This experience has helped Nicole better serve her patients as an OB/GYN.

32 week preemie baby

Nicole Rankins Bio

Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins is a board-certified, practicing OB/GYN and mom of 2 who empowers first time moms to feel supported and prepared for pregnancy and birth. Over the last 15 years she’s helped more than 1,000 babies come into this world and has demystified pregnancy and childbirth for thousands more women through her 5-star rated All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast, her free online birth plan class, and her signature online program – The Birth Preparation Course. Visit her website www.drnicolerankins.com and follow her on Instagram @drnicolerankins.

Aeroflow Breastpumps

Aeroflow Breastpumps 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!  

Twin Birth at 34 Weeks + NICU Stay

Laura and her husband got pregnant the first month they tried, then were shocked to discover that it was twins! Her pregnancy was pretty easy aside from a subchorionic hematoma in the first trimester. Laura was able to continue with midwife-led care and was planning to give birth at a local hospital without a NICU as long as she reached 35 weeks gestation before giving birth. That went out the window when her water broke at 33 weeks. She was transferred to an academic medical center with a NICU, and spent a week in the hospital receiving antibiotics; at 34 weeks, she had her labor induced. The induction was long and difficult, and she ended up delivering both babies vaginally but with forceps. 

Lola and Phoebe spent 2 weeks in the NICU/Continuing Care Nursery until they could maintain their body temperature and take feedings from bottles. Laura had really wanted to breastfeed, although knew that with twins there were many possible challenges. She pumped exclusively for the first several weeks, then worked on getting the babies to latch. Lola transitioned to breastfeeding at 2.5 months, but Phoebe didn’t start breastfeeding until 5 months!  Laura is really glad that breastfeeding worked out, but also realizes that it was only possible because of the many supports she had, including a long parental leave.

Laura Attanasio Bio

Laura is a faculty member in public health whose research focuses on quality and equity in maternity care. She and her husband, Adam, have fraternal twin girls, a dog, and two cats. They live in Western Massachusetts.

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!

Preeclampsia, HELLP & NICU Stay

To listen to this episode, and more than 350 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

Preeclampsia & HELLP Syndrome at 28 Weeks Birth Story

Danielle’s birth is not what she expected. Danielle knew she would have a c-section because of a trauma to her hip in the past but she did not expect it to be at 29 weeks. Danielle went in for her 28 week check up only to find her blood pressure dangerously high and traces of protein in her urine. Upon being admitted to the hospital it became increasingly hard to control her blood pressure.

Along with preeclampsia, Danielle was developing HELLP syndrome, causing her platelets to plummet and her alt levels to rise. Eventually it became too dangerous for Danielle to remain pregnant. At 8am on 10/24 the doctor decided it was time to have a baby. Danielle was wheeled into the OR with tears in her eyes. She feared it was too early for her baby.

preeclampsia HELLP birth story

66 Day NICU Stay

Sean William was born at 8:35am weighing 3 pounds exactly and 15 3/4 inches. Danielle saw Sean briefly before he was brought to the NICU. That would be the last time she saw him until the next day. Danielle spent every day in that NICU even though it was the hardest place to be. Sean is a strong boy. He spent 66 days in the NICU and is now a sturdy 14 pound boy.

Danielle Foster Bio

NICU baby

Danielle lives in Hanson, Massachusetts and works as a quality assurance coordinator for an insurance tracking company. Danielle and Brian have known each other since high school but never spoke in high school. The magic of the Bruins playoffs in 2011 brought them together and it’s been love ever since. Danielle and Brian began their journey to start a family in October 2016 and she finally got her big fat positive in April of 2018. Connect with her on Facebook.

Resources

Nicu moms Facebook
Ava Communities on Facebook

Avawomen

This episode is sponsored by Ava Women. Wear the Ava bracelet while you sleep for effortless insight about your fertility, your cycle, and your health. Ava monitors nine physiological parameters and is clinically proven to detect the beginning of the fertile window in real time. You can use the promo code: BIRTH for $20 off each order at avawomen.com

Placenta Previa and Accreta Diagnosis Birth Story

To listen to this episode, and more than 350 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

Fertility Journey, Placenta Previa/Accreta Diagnosis and NICU Stay

Kathleen spent 2 years in pursuit of conception, hitting a few roadblocks along the way, including an auto-immune thyroid disease diagnosis and the death of her mom, which took a toll on her mentally and emotionally as she grieved. After year 1 of casually trying without success, Kathleen decided to take a more serious approach and worked in a group with fertility coach Lisa Hendrickson-Jack of the Fertility Friday Podcast. Lisa guided a small group of women for a 10 week session on learning the Fertility Awareness Method of cycle tracking. This method can be used for conception or pregnancy avoidance, and it enabled Kathleen to pinpoint the best days for conception based on several key signs she had not previously been able to recognize with confidence. She also learned ways to support her thyroid, which seemed to improve her cycle.

When Kathleen became pregnant naturally in January of 2018, she and her husband were elated. Besides the standard sickness and cramping of early pregnancy, everything was going smoothly up until midway through the 2nd trimester. Around week 13, her doctor observed the placenta was low-lying over the cervix. At her 20 week anatomy scan, everything with the baby looked wonderful except the placenta was still in the way and had not budged. At this point, Kathleen was diagnosed with complete posterior placenta previa; but, there was still the hope of it moving because it was diagnosed so early. This condition comes with a high risk of hemorrhage so the doctor advised Kathleen to limit her activity considerably.

Kathleen joined a facebook group for previa and began learning all she could. Through this group, she also discovered that women with previa are at a higher risk for another, even more dangerous condition called placenta accreta. Somewhere in the back of her mind, fears of accreta began to eat away. Kathleen started experiencing frequent Braxton Hicks contractions, pressure, and cramping. Around week 24 she had regular contractions for 48 hrs and decided to visit L&D at her area hospital. The residents observed her contractions and immediately performed an internal ultrasound, and discovered something was “wrong with her cervix”. Although it was closed, it appeared distorted. They chose to observe Kathleen overnight and she was ultimately discharged with a diagnosis of irritable uterus + polyhydramnios, and a follow up ultrasound was scheduled to look further into previa/cervical complications.

After an emotional visit and an MRI, it was determined Kathleen indeed had an accreta where the placenta was growing into her cervix. She and her husband were devastated, as this would mean their first baby would need to be delivered at least a month early via c-section and she would require a hysterectomy at delivery. Her case was taken over by the MFM department of Yale New Haven hospital—the same team of doctors she saw at week 24. Even with the accreta diagnosis, these doctors hoped for the best. Thankfully, Kathleen avoided a major bleed that typically occurs in complete previa pregnancies, the polyhydramnios and irritable uterus resolved, and she was able to deliver on her scheduled date at 36 + 0 weeks. Her son was delivered successfully, and it was discovered that she did not have an accreta. The placenta was removed without issue. What Kathleen did actually have was an even more rare condition called cervical AVM, or arterio vascular malformation of the cervix. Her doctors printed her a case study which claimed to be the only known case. The cause is unknown. Unfortunately, Kathleen’s son suffered complications from being born pre-term and spent 12 days in the NICU overcoming respiratory issues. After 6 months postpartum, both mom and baby are doing well and enjoying the semi-calm after the storm.

Kathleen Harrington Bio

Kathleen is 33 years old and lives in Connecticut with her husband, Dennis, their 6 month old son, Cassian Robin, and 2 rambunctious rescue hounds Edie and Juno. Kathleen has a film degree and spent some time post-college working in TV production as a personal assistant; but, she has since branched out into other fields, including most recently, biotechnology. After learning she had hashimoto’s thyroiditis during her 2 year conception journey, Kathleen dove into the deep well of fertility knowledge the internet has to offer and began to learn ways to support her body from a functional medicine perspective. She truly enjoys connecting with other women and sharing what knowledge she has gleaned from her personal experience. Connect with her on instagram @kateye85

Resources

Fertility Friday | Fertility Awareness Method Cycle Charting 
Placenta Previa & Accreta Support Group
Hope for Accreta Foundation- Placenta Accreta, Increta and Percreta
The Birth Hour
Pregnancy Podcast
Fertility Friday Podcast

Navigating Prenatal Care with a Disability + Unexpected Preterm Cesarean Birth

To listen to this episode, and more than 350 other birth stories in The Birth Hour archives, join our listener supporter group here!

Emergency Cesarean for Preterm Breech Baby

Bek entered her pregnancy wanting an unmedicated birth. She went with a midwifery group in a hospital because of wanting to be in the best possible place in case she needed help due to her disability. She was confident that her limitations wouldn’t be an issue and her midwives were confident in supporting her. But when she went into labor at 34 weeks and her son was in an incomplete breech position and a whirlwind labor, she had to get an emergency c section. Baby and mama were safe and spent 11 days in the NICU before heading home. Even though it was much different than what Bek wanted, they made it through and look back knowing they were safe and didn’t have any complications making it home for unlimited snuggles.

34 week preemie

Bek Moody Bio

Bek is a full time working at home recruiter who is married and mama to a 14 year old daughter and 14 month old son. She lives with a disability (genetic nerve disorder) and spends most of her time in a wheelchair. But this doesn’t stop her from living a full life enjoying being a wife and mama to her kids. Connect with her on IG @alwaysbmoody

pregnancy-with-disability

Grove Collaborative

Today’s episode sponsor is Grove Collaborative. Grove makes it easy to discover amazing natural home and personal care products. Grove selects only the best non-toxic products, so you can shop with confidence knowing that everything on their site is good for you, your family, and the planet. Grove’s VIP membership provides our customers with: unlimited free shipping, a free full-sized gift every few months, price match guarantee, and amazing personal service.

Go to this link and when you sign-up you’ll get a free glass spray bottle two-piece concentrates pack to use in the spray bottle, and a 3 pack of microfiber cloths! Grove will add some suggested items to your cart to get you started and you can swap those out for whatever you need for your home.