First Birth: Val became pregnant when she and her husband were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, while she pursued a PhD at the age of 25. They got pregnant the first month they tried, which was a bit of a surprise! As a highly sensitive person Val quickly realized she needed to work with care providers who would listen to her and respect her body and wishes. After watching The Business of Being Born, Val and her husband decided to seek the care of a midwife/obstetrician group because they wanted to work with midwives, but also wanted to have an obstetrician available if something were to happen. Val had an uneventful pregnancy and loved working with the midwife group who were very focused on her well being emotionally and physically. Val and her husband hired a doula who was also a huge part of their pregnancy and birth. At 41+5 days, after an uneventful stress test, Val’s favorite midwife coerced her to come in later that night for induction, as she said she would drop her from care if she refused. Val’s labor lasted 31 hours, had many ups and downs, and resulted in a forceps delivery and a very difficult and emotional postpartum experience. 

Second Birth: Due to Val’s difficult birth and transition to motherhood she decided to wait until she finished her PhD and had instrumental support from friends and extended family near by to try for another baby. During her second pregnancy, Val was a lot less anxious and again found a midwife/obstetrician group within a hospital. Unfortunately, the midwife group they chose only had one midwife. While Val connected quickly with the midwife, she soon realized she was overworked and under supported. She forgot to call regarding test results and made errors with appointments and scheduling. After a hurtful discussion with the scheduler, Val hung up the phone and felt like she couldn’t breathe. At that moment, Val’s husband brought up the idea of homebirth, and they decided to meet with some homebirth midwives to see if it would be a good fit.

After getting a low risk anatomy scan Val and her husband made the switch to homebirth care. Val was empowered by her midwife and they made a lifelong bond. Her midwife helped her process a lot of her birth trauma from the first time around, and provided care that was above-and-beyond. At 38 weeks and 40 weeks Val’s family caught the flu and then a bad cold which hit their family hard.

At 41+1 day, Val started having contractions after receiving acupuncture. She experienced contractions every 15 minutes for the next two days which made her feel very uncomfortable and made it hard to rest. After two days of prodromal labor, Val’s water broke. The midwife, birth assistant, doula, and Val’s sister and mom arrived shortly after her water broke, and contractions sped up to 7 minutes apart. At this time, Val and her husband got in the groove of managing contractions.

After 3 days of labor, 24 hours after her water broke, Val decided to transfer to the hospital when she was still only 6.5 centimeters and they realized baby’s presentation was asynclitic. In tears, Val hugged her midwife as she headed off to the hospital. Val was met with extreme love and respect from all of the nurses at the hospital. They quickly got her admitted and gave her pain management and an epidural. Val took a nap, and when she woke up it was time to push. The hospital doctor was absolutely terrible, but the nurses had their back and they had a smooth vaginal birth. Val recovered quickly, and because of the flu risk Val and her husband bonded with baby for two uninterrupted days. At 6 months postpartum, Val is not experiencing anxiety and depression thanks to the help of family, friends, a counselor she sees regularly. 

Valerie Cronin-Fisher Bio

Valerie has been married for 7 years, and is a mom of two sons living in the south suburbs of Chicago. Val is a Professor of Interpersonal Communication focusing on the underrepresented areas of family communication, birth, and motherhood. She has a passion for close relational communication and helping (herself) and others learn names for behaviors/experiences in order to understand themselves and their close others better. 

Val became pregnant during the first year of her PhD program and quickly became engrossed in birth and motherhood culture. After a difficult first birth, and feeling like the rug was pulled out from under her during her transition to motherhood, Val found her passion. Over the last 4 years, Val’s research has focused on understanding the complexity of birth and dissatisfaction with the transition to motherhood from a cultural and relational perspective. She has published research examining dissatisfaction during the transition to motherhood. Val also used The Birth Hour podcast interviews for her dissertation data focusing on traumatic birth and communication during pregnancy, birth, and the transition to motherhood. Recently, she started facebook and instagram account to share her research and connect with other mothers who are “in the thick of it”. You can find her at @life.after.birth.phd on instagram and facebook. 

Resources

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