An Open Letter to Dads Considering Midwifery

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When my wife got pregnant in the summer of 2014, we were beyond excited. But suddenly there was a big question staring us in the face: What kind of birth did we want? If you’re reading this, it probably means that you and your partner have asked this same question. There may be aspects of the typical medical route that don’t make sense to you, or even concern you. That’s where this journey started for us. We weren’t totally comfortable with OB prenatal care and hospital birthing practices, so we started looking into midwifery and homebirth. I’m so grateful that we found Family Life Center. If you’re nervous about the idea of skipping doctors and tests, just try to have an open mind. Betsy and Tisha always made sure to tell us what an OB would do at a certain stage in the pregnancy and give us the option. Some things we said yes to and some we didn’t. What made me most comfortable was the track record of these women. They’ve been doing this for a very long time and their birth outcomes are overwhelmingly positive. The emotional support they offered for my wife was something that I don’t think you get outside of midwifery, plus the fact we could call them anytime with questions.

By the time the big day arrived, my wife and I were both confident and informed. I recommend a video they used in class called “The Stages of Labor” and a book called “The Birth Partner” to help you understand how everything will go and what you can do to help. We had a challenging labor, but Betsy and Tisha were truly amazing. I’m in awe of what they do. That night, my wife and I slept in our own bed with our little girl.

The best part of all this was that it was our birth; we owned it. It was one of the most empowering experiences of my life, and I didn’t even have the baby. It felt right. It felt natural. It felt like the way it’s supposed to be done.  I encourage you to explore midwifery as an option.

-Justin Halstead

Creamy Avocado Spinach Pasta

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Oh, the avocado…….  it is one of the most prized edibles on the “super foods” list.   A super food is a food that is nutrient dense  – lots of good stuff packed into one food- meaning it is high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, omega fatty acids, etc…  The mighty avocado is a nutritional powerhouse for all humans, but can be especially fantastic for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.  The vitamin content in avocados is impressive to say the least – vitamins C, E, K, B1, B2, B6!  The good fat helps with your baby’s brain development, the folate protects from birth defects, iron keeps anemia away. 

The other star of this recipe is the all mighty spinach.  Another “super food”!  Raw spinach is packed with calcium that aids in bone and tooth development, folate, Vitamins A and Beta Carotene, iron, fiber……

Add in some nuts and cheese and you have a winner!!!   I changed the original recipe a bit, using a full pound of pasta, added some grated cheese too, upped the spinach and basil.  The pecans can be swapped out for walnuts and the whole thing can be made vegan by just omitting the cheese.  If you want to go all out healthy, use whole wheat pasta.  Enjoy!!! 

Love – Jess

Read more about eating avocados for a healthy pregnancy here.

Thank you Jo Cooks blog for this fantastic recipe!

Creamy Avocado and Spinach Pasta
Author: Jo Cooks
Serves: 6
  • 1lb. spaghetti or fettuccine whole wheat or white
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese – grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ to 1 cup pasta water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  2. While pasta is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients to your blender and blend until it turns into a smooth sauce. Start with ¾ cup of pasta water and add more as needed to get the consistency you want.
  3. Toss the pasta with the sauce in a bowl and serve immediately. This sauce is best served the day it is made, as it uses avocados which will turn a brownish color.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 146g Calories: 379 Fat: 16.9g Saturated fat: 3.4g Unsaturated fat: 0.0g Trans fat: 0.0g Carbohydrates: 50.1g Sugar: 0.5g Sodium: 82mg Fiber: 7.2g Protein: 9.1g Cholesterol: 5mg

A Practice in Surrender

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The fact that the snow is still falling on this second to last day of March makes me think of the word “surrender”.  We offer laboring mothers that word as a mantra to open and be as one with the process.  Diving into the sensation of pain during labor and learning how to work with it can make it more enjoyable.  If we fight the sometimes painful surges while giving birth, we close up, we disconnect.  If we surrender, we open, we engage.  This kind of surrender, for birth, is really similar to the surrender we must accept in nature.  I mean, birth IS nature, right?  It’s not surrendering at gunpoint – it’s not by force.  It’s the kind of surrender that allows you to connect with your power and the power of mother earth, the goddess, god, the universe…  It’s the kind of surrender that calmly seduces you into the most peaceful power imaginable.  We have so much control over so many things, but we are in control of nothing.

It is so easy to become agitated.  Yes, winter is tough, it takes work, it strips you down to your core at times.  It stops us in our tracks.  Literally.  It can be seen as an inconvenience, an annoyance, something to just get through.  In the practice of surrender, it is seen as an opportunity to stay home, go inward, take some time.

It is so easy to become agitated.  Yes, giving birth is tough, it takes work, it strips you down to your core at times.  It stops us in our tracks.  Figuratively.  It can be seen as unbearably painful, pain that we must mask and send away, something to just get through.  In the practice of surrender, it is seen as an opportunity to dig deep, to be powerful, to learn what you are capable of.

As I finish writing this, the snow has stopped, the sun is peeking out, and I notice some tiny buds on the tree outside my window.

Labor will change into birth, winters will change into spring, and women will change into mothers.



Tennyson: A Review of the Burdett Care Center

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My name is Robin D Manthei-Ostroverkhov and my son Tennyson Myles Ostroverkhov was born at the BCC on 11-30-11.

My birth experience was everything I had hoped and wanted it to be and it could have not been done in this area any place but the BCC.

Pam Platis was the midwife who delivered my baby.  My support team consisted of my wonderful husband who massaged my back for 16 hours, my two doulas Erin and Betsy and a wonderful nurse named Jennifer.

Prior to my birth at the BCC – we had taken a tour there and found the facility to be clean and new and modern.  I was looking forward to having my baby there.

My son was post his due date so I was at the BCC twice prior to his birth for a non-stress test.  During the tests the nurses were professional but also nice.  They took interest in my comfort and also explained the test that they were performing and the outcome was given to me prior to leaving the BCC.

We had two concerns during these visits. In the  triage room were the non- stress test was performed there was blood on the ceiling. When I was taken down to the hospital for the ultrasound, there was two police officers walking around with a man in hand and leg cuffs.  There should be a room at the BCC were ultrasounds are performed so that pregnant women can have these tests done in a non-stressful environment.

For the birth of my son   we arrived at the BCC on 11-29-11 at 7 pm after laboring at home since the prior evening (early labor).  We were greeted right away by Lanette- who we had met on the tour.  She remembered us and it was nice to have a smiling face greet us.  She asked us what type of room we wanted and we chose a labor and recovery room so we would not have to switch rooms.

The rooms are beautiful at the BCC.  One of the nice perks is they allow you to decorate as you please.  We hung Christmas lights and turned off all the overhead lights- which made for a calm birthing environment for me.

Lanette was the nurse who followed my labor from 7pm until 12 am.  I gave her my birth plan and she was very respectful of it.  When I was first admitted she checked my progress and agreed I was in active labor.  Lanette worked with me and the positions I was moving into for my vitals and the babies vitals.  This may not have been the easiest for her because I was moving around a lot and could not lay on the bed on my back. I also could not tolerate the belly band around my waist for listening to the babies heart rate so she used the doppler. I am sure that any other birthing facility would have made me lay on my back for the vitals and fetal monitoring.

At 12 am Lanette’s shift ended and Jennifer came in and introduced herself and checked the vitals of myself and Tenny. At that point I was laboring in the Jacuzzi tub while the BCC staff along with my doula Erin were setting up the pool for a water birth. Pam also arrived at this point to see how I was doing. Although I was several hours into active labor no one insisted that I be checked for dilation- which I really liked because I did not feel pressure to rush and have Tennyson within a certain amount of time.  They just let my body take its time and labor naturally.

During labor I was between the Jacuzzi tub and the pool. The BCC staff assembled the birthing pool and made sure the water temperature stayed warm.  They also made sure that I stayed comfortable with warm towels after leaving the water. My birthing plan was followed and respected by the entire staff at BCC.

During my 2.5 hours of pushing Jennifer monitored Tennyson and assured me that he and myself were doing great.  She helped me a great deal during pushing by guiding me through breathing and remaining calm.  Pam delivered my baby while allowing my husband and doulas to be an active part of the delivery as well.

Tennyson was born 11-30-11 at 6:55 am happy and healthy with no medical intervention.

After Tennyson arrived the staff respected our wishes to have skin to skin right away and delay him being cleaned, weighed, ect.

Lanette met Tennyson that day, even though she was not my nurse she went out of her way to come and meet him and see how our new family was doing.  This gesture along with the personal attention from the entire staff made the birthing experience at the BCC very comfortable.

During our stay at the BCC we were treated very well. I do have some suggestions that would have made the post birthing experience a little more pleasant. After birthing through out the night it would have been nice to rest with out interruption. Once the nurses are assured that baby and Mom and doing well they should allow the family to rest.  We had a number of staff coming into the room doing things that were unrelated to us.  For explain the cleaning staff came in twice- to take down the pool and then again to clean the room.  They had someone come in to take our food order for the stay. It would also be nice if the pediatrician would come to the room for examining the baby. An improvement of the food would be my final suggestion.

If I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing and I would highly recommend anyone looking to have a natural birth experience choose the BCC.

Robin D Manthei-Ostroverkhov

Kinder’s Birth

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Kathy was lucky enough to have a friend document her labor. The photographs of her journey are beautiful and her fearlessness is inspiring. “I Was Never Once Afraid” also serves as a wonderful description of the many benefits of home birth.

 Choosing a home birth was one of the best things my husband and I have done for our family. My prenatal care was fantastic. Appointments often lasted an hour, and never felt hurried. All my questions and concerns were addressed respectfully at length. We talked about my health and nutrition, but also about my feelings, and my family, and how we were all adjusting to the idea of a new baby, especially a baby born at home. “

Thanks to Kathy and Aela for sharing.

Miles’ Story

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Birth can be a deeply transformative experience. We have had the joy of witnessing Lynn’s transformation, and also the joy of her writing. Here’s an excerpt:

“Going through natural childbirth was more important to me than I thought it could be.  It was a transformation that balanced my everything, and I believe Miles’s everything as well..  It brought me and my baby into some space and time that I define as the place where I met god, and I have found myself in the last few days wishing to go back to that hugely powerful place to feel it once again, even accompanied by the pain.  There is a reason why women are meant to do this, and I know why now.  For years I had questioned why it had to be so painful and so miserable for women to give birth, so unfair… I no longer have these questions.”

Visit her blog for the rest of the story- it’s good one!

Oslo’s Story

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I was about 2 days overdue and going crazy waiting to go into labor. With my first son I delivered a week early (39) weeks and 40 weeks 1 day seemed so much longer. The weekend of my estimated due date (December 8th) I had tried a majority of Old Wives Tales. We had taken a 3 mile walk, shopped in the mall, eaten eggplant parm, and had sex. It didn’t seem like this baby wanted to come out! For several weeks prior to my actual EDD I had been having contractions. They were more than the average braxton hicks but nothing that could be timed or called “regular”.

On Sunday, December 9th, I went to bed around 10 pm. Around 1 AM I woke to go to the bathroom and when I stood up I felt a pop. I immediately knew that my water had broken. It was more of a gentle leak than a true gush though. It was also tinged with pink blood. Of course I woke my husband and told him. I also called our Doula, Betsy to let her know. I was not having any contractions to start with. She encouraged me to try to go back to sleep and she would check back in with me in a few hours- or to call her if something changed. Since I had experienced something similar with my first son I knew how important rest was to the labor process. I rested in bed until 2 AM when my contractions started. Immediately they were pretty intense and I had a strong desire for my husband to press on my sacrum and lower back during them. My contractions were probably around 5 min. apart but by 4 AM they had increased in intensity. At that time, I also had a very strong contraction where I actually felt the baby’s head either get into position to descend or just really push against my cervix. Either way something had changed and I asked my husband to call Betsy back. She recommended that I get in the shower to see if that increased the contractions.

So I jumped in the warm shower. It definitely helped relax me and with the relaxation the contractions became more intense and frequent. We weren’t specifically tracking them but they seemed to be about every 3 minutes or so. I spent about hour in the shower and then decided it was time to get out. I labored around my house for the next hour and a half or so, stopping often to either be on my hands and knees or leaning against the counter tops. I also still needed my husband to press against my lower back through each one.

Around 6:30 AM we decided to get my first son up to get ready for my Mother in law to bring him to daycare for the day. When he walked down the hall I was in between contractions. He ran down the hall in all of his 2.5 year old exuberance, shouting, Mommy! Good morning! It was at this point that I just started crying. I felt all of my emotions about the birth, changing my little sons life, all of it just let go. It was at this time that I was crying that I also had a contraction that literally knocked me onto the floor on my hands and knees. It didnt phase my son at all. He came up right next to me, got on his hands and knees and said “Mommy, your alright, your just fine”-and then proceeded to ask for some Life cereal for breakfast. He made me laugh through my tears and pain.

It was just after this moment that Betsy happened to call back and asked my husband how I was doing. I spoke with her briefly between contractions and she said that she felt I was progressing quickly and that perhaps she would come over. My first birth was 36 hours and we were only 6 hours approximately from when my water broke with this one, so I figured I still had lots of time, regardless of how intense my contractions were, or how frequent.  I told her that it was fine if she came over, and as a midwife she could check me, so we could make a decision about where I was in labor and when we thought I should transport to the hospital. Betsy showed up around 7:15 and my Mother in law showed up around 7:30 to bring my son to daycare. Betsy helped me work through some contractions while my husband got my son settled in the car. Surprisingly my son did great with the transition in our morning routine and he was quickly off to daycare. I was preoccupied with him arriving there safely and I was still feeling extremely attached to him even though he had left the house.

Betsy suggested once he left that she check me to see how far along I was. I agreed and she did a quick internal check, my first in this pregnancy besides the first tri check. She told me she thought I was about a 6 and paper thin! I could not believe it. With my first son I had labored for over 18 hours to get to a 2! To have made so much progress in so little time was amazing. I was also getting these great, clear breaks for about 1-2 minutes between each contractions and I felt that I was doing really well.

Betsy felt it was time to go to the hospital and I told her that if she felt it wouldn’t slow down or stop my labor we could go. She assured me that this labor train was going and there was no stopping it. So we headed out to the car. It wasn’t a terrible 15 min. ride and Betsy was able to press on my lower back during contractions so I was able to work through them. We did have to stop about 1 mile from my house and turn around because we had forgotten the hose for the pool- but that was really the only glitch in the drive. Betsy had been communicating with our midwife team prior to our arrival and with the hospital so once we arrived I literally walked straight into a L&D room- no questions asked.

Once in the room, the nursing team started to fill up the pool for me. I labored through each contraction either bending over the bed or on the toilet. Someone suggested that I sit on the yoga ball to see if that helped reserve my energy so I did. This made the contractions MUCH more intense. I was able to do one standing, then one sitting in a cycle. I knew that sitting on the yoga ball was helping me progress but it took some courage to work through each one. Once the pool was partially filled I wanted to get in the water. It was so warm and relaxing.

Once in the water things went from 0 to 60 in no time. The break I was experiencing became seemingly non-existent and I needed my husband to press on my back with all his might. I also needed to grip Betsy’s hands as hard as I could through each contraction. I was still experiencing what I would call intense cervical pain and my back hurt tremendously. I was feeling very little pressure at this point. After some time in the water, someone recommended I change positions. I asked to get out of the water as I had been kneeling in the water and was becoming fatigued. My MW had yet to check me and the nurses had been wonderful so far. No one had bothered me to insist that they put in an IV, I was getting sips of water and ice chips. They were intermittently checking the babies heart rate but all was well and they generally just let me do my thing. I had no concept of time at this point after being in the pool- I just kept thinking that things were getting too intense and that this had been a stupid idea to try to give birth without medication.

Once on the bed, my MW, Linda asked to check me and I told her that it was fine. I remember briefly crying as I was walking from the pool to the bed and that Betsy whispered to Linda that I was in transition. I thought to myself there is no freaking way I am in transition! Sure enough once Linda checked me she said I was essentially a 10 with a small lip of cervix. I didn’t believe her. Once in the bed they suggested I work through some contractions on first my left side, which was tolerable. Then they suggested I try to get the babies head around the cervix, by working through some contractions on my right side. It was at this point that I started to emotionally lose my mind- as the pain with each contraction was intense! I was able to lay on my right side for a small amount of time before I asked to get back in the water as I was feeling some pressure.

Once back in the pool, I was somewhat feeling a need to push- but the urge wasn’t super strong. I went for it anyway. This was the most intense part of the experience and I was struggling to keep myself together. There were moments of yelling for drugs, I must admit. I credit my husband and the rest of the team for calming me and for encouraging me. No one wavered for a single moment in their support and it helped me through the tough moments. In the pool I just kept thinking that my pushes weren’t effective and I couldn’t get good purchase with my feet pressing against the sides of the pool to push. I also kept telling the team that they were lying to me that the baby was coming, that I was dying and so on. In between contractions, I assured them I was ok, but once a contraction started again it was like I needed the emotional release of stating that I wanted that baby cut out of me! Since I was making very little progress pushing and expending a lot of energy it was suggested I move to the bed. I would have done anything at that moment to end the labor so I walked from the pool to the bed- probably the longest walk of my life. Once on the bed, I got on my hands and knees and Linda said she was going to check the baby positions. This time she checked me during a contraction and she managed to push that lip of cervix over the babies chin (which I did not know the baby was face up at the time) and then I was really ready to push. I actually wanted to lay down to push which was surprising but at this point I just wanted the baby out.

My contractions were spacing out which was nice and I was able to get a grip on when to push. Erin, our other Doula showed up at this time to help me and to take pictures during the birth. During pushing I held onto my legs and it was nice to have reminders to do a pelvic tilt during the push. I would start each push making that deep S sound we learned in class and then it would turn to a very loud guttural growl. Everyone was encouraging and telling me what a great job I was doing. I actually would do 2 quick pushes then a really long and hard 3rd push. I could actually feel him move down with each push. Thankfully my MW stretched me with each push and when he crowned it was for a very short time.  My body took over at the very end and I couldn’t have stopped it if I had wanted to.

On the very last push, Oslo made his appearance, albeit face up which explained all of my back labor. Once his head was through I actively stopped pushing and his body just slipped out. Thankfully I did not tear or require an episotomy. I believe the water in the pool helped with that, as well as my MW stretching me during pushing. I could not believe I had just done it~ I was so emotional and happy. All of the pain was immediately gone. I helped bring him up to my chest. He was a slightly bluish color but he started to pink right up and started crying. His poor little head had a nice lump where he had been crowning. It was on the top front of his head which they later told me made sense bc Linda could feel his nose as he was coming down. He presented face first with his chin tilted back. Most babies are face down, and chin tilted down towards their bodies as they are born. Thankfully, moving from the pool to the bed probably helped him tuck his chin under so he could make that final descent. All told the labor was 13 hours from water breaking until end. I “pushed” both in the pool and on the bed for an hour and a half. Honestly the pushing really only became productive once I was on the bed and that was probably 30 min. total (although my sense of time may be off!). Time was slightly irrelevant to me, I’m just so thankful that it wasnt 36 hours again!

Oslo was born at 2:10 pm weighing 8 lbs. 4.5 oz and was 22 inches long. It was an amazing experience, and I wouldnt change a thing about it. I credit the mental and physical preparation for the birth for helping me get through the labor, specifically Deb Goodman’s prenatal classes and the sessions with our Doulas’s, Erin and Betsy thinking/talking about the birth. I also think that I had as close to a home birth experience in a hospital as I could get at Burdett Care Center. No IV’s, no one poking me or prodding me. Just me and my birth team in a quiet room. The way that I wanted it. It goes unsaid that I could not have done what I did without my husband-his poor hands from pushing on my back for  hours! He never wavered in his faith that I could make this happen. It was truly an amazing experience.


Veronica Rose

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Dear Veronica,

Your due date was February 20, 2012 and you arrived on February 22, 2012.  My pregnancy had been normal and uneventful with the exception of some normal pregnancy ailments (1st trimester nausea, sore breasts, heartburn, hemorrhoids, and sciatic nerve pain which the Chiropractor was able to fix).  My belly grew straight out and everyone said I was carrying a boy.  We didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl until you were born.  I gained almost 50 lbs and you and I remained healthy throughout.  Your heartbeat stayed around 140 bpm and always very strong.  Dad would put his ear up to my belly to listen to your heartbeat every night.  He would also sing and read to you every night.  I felt pretty comfortable until week 38.  After that I was ready for you to come out because I could tell you were so big and strong.

On the morning of your due date, Feb. 20, we had our 40 week appointment with our midwife.  I had been up all night with an achy back and legs and period-like cramps.  The midwife said I was 1-2cm dilated and 80% effaced, but also said I could easily be a week or more away from labor.  I was exhausted and new you would be coming soon.  I got home and called our doula, Betsy. We had hired doulas Betsy (midwife/doula) and Erin (doula/masseuse) to help us have a natural birth.  Betsy advised I have a big lunch with a glass of wine and go to sleep.  I took her advice and ate leftover homemade burgers and a glass of white wine.  It tasted awesome.  I woke up around 2 PM and shortly after that the contractions started coming.  When Dad came home from work the contractions were about every 5 minutes.  I sat on the ball as we watched TV.  We went to bed and the contractions continued.  They weren’t any worse than strong period cramps but they were strong enough that I couldn’t sleep through them.  As our doulas advised, just try to sleep, even if for a few minutes at a time.  I did that until ~1AM when my water broke.  I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom to let the water flow out.  Now the contractions started coming every 2 mins apart and lasting 30 seconds to a minute, so I woke up your dad.  I could still talk through the contractions. We called our midwife and they said to come into the birth center. We called Erin and she said she would meet us there.

Since your Nana, Monika, had such short labors (8 hrs and 6 hrs) I just knew my labor would be fast and wanted to get to the center asap.  Around 3AM on the morning of Feb. 21 we arrived at Burrdett in Troy, NY. This birthing center was considered very progressive.  While not a hospital it had surgery rooms if needed with OBs on call.  Once I got to Burdett my labor slowed back down (contractions every 5-10 mins).  I still couldn’t sleep through them and by 9AM our midwife said we could go home if we wanted.  After she left I cried.  I was so tired from the lack of sleep.  Plus our stuff was everywhere and I didn’t want to pack it all up.  We decided to stay.  Breakfast had arrived and we ate a lot.  Then we took a walk.  It was a warm day for February and we took advantage of the outdoor air.  We came back to our room for lunch, and I ate a lot again.  We also played many rounds of Gin.  Our tactics were working and contractions were picking up again throughout the day.  I found that when I talked to strangers they would slow again.  Your dad and I took the morning and afternoon to remain in private.  I took a nap after lunch despite awaking every 5 mins for contractions.  Dad put some nice classical music on.

By 3PM I was awake and crying because I was so tired and the contractions were stronger but not progressing very fast.  Dad called Betsy (who was surprised she hadn’t heard from us sooner) and said she was on her way.  She also asked why we hadn’t gotten in the tub yet?  Oh right, the tub with jets!  I got into the tub and it felt amazing.  My whole body relaxed and my uterus was allowed to do its thing without my muscles getting in the way.  I could no longer talk through the contractions and sort of moaned through them to keep my focus low and deep.  Betsy arrived around 5PM and the contractions started getting more intense and closer together.  Possibly because Betsy was there? We called her the rainmaker.  Betsy put some lavender oil near my head and told me I was doing great and that labor would not be slowing down again.  She also said I got dealt an unlucky hand, which made me feel better.

Around 6PM dinner arrived but I didn’t even realize it nor was I hungry.  Dad and Betsy made sure I took sips of water and juice between contractions, especially since the warm water could be dehydrating (in addition to the panting and heavy breathing).  I moved into the big tub around this time, which was set up in the middle of the room.  There was room for Dad and for me to get in pretty much any position.  I labored hard in the tub for hours.  I noticed that it got dark outside.  I noticed the nurse shift change.  I commented on both of these because I had thought it would have been over by now.  Betsy covered the clock in the room.  Dad got out of the tub and Betsy ordered him to eat the dinner.  Other than that Dad never left my side.  He was amazing. I couldn’t have done it without him.  I labored hard against him, both in and out of the tub.  Betsy was worried about his back but Dad never complained.  At some point the midwife checked me and I was maybe 7 cm, 100% effaced and the baby (you!) was very, very low.  However, you had swung out of position.  Instead of having your back out you were now 90 degrees off and your back was on my right side.  Betsy had me lay in the bed on my left side with my right leg draped over.  After a few contractions in that very uncomfortable and painful position, you swung back around a bit.  I got back in the tub and got to about 8cm.

I was beyond exhausted.  I think my eyes had been closed for hours.  I heard that I needed antibiotics because I had been in labor 18 hrs since my water broke.  Ugh!  Somehow I came to enough to ask for an anesthesiologist since I had Vasovagal Syncope (brief loss of consciousness due to things like IVs).  After the antibiotics I got back into the tub.  I couldn’t believe how long it was taking.  Later I learned it was due to your position.  Coming in a bit posterior was causing your head to drag the cervix along instead of pushing through it, which was making labor longer and more painful. I kept saying the pain was so low.  Later I called it “butt labor” which was apparently a new term for the doulas and midwife.  Luckily you were so low that I wasn’t having back labor, but the butt labor produced a very sharp pain.  The breaks between contractions weren’t really breaks because I would still have low levels of contractions. Plus I would have to mentally prepare for the next one.  Getting caught off guard by one of these butt contractions would make them even more painful and unmanageable.  All of this I later learned was due to the posterior position.

I am so grateful Dad never doubted me and no one even mentioned drugs for the pain. It would have made me doubt myself.  While I was out of my mind with the pain both of our heartbeats remained strong, so I just focused on staying in the moment and “Moo-ing”.  Moooo turned to Moooove!  I also said “Power” which helped a lot.  The midwife tells me I’m around 9cm now and I am deflated.  I remember Dad saying how great that was.  I couldn’t imagine how I could continue much longer.  I guess the midwife and Betsy chatted because they offered me an option to help get me to 10 cm but it would be more painful and I had to get into the bed.  I jumped out of that tub so fast!  Then gravity hit and I had a huge contraction with my arms draped around your dad.  Dad looked down and my feet were off the ground, so he was supporting 175 lbs with his neck.

In the bed the midwife, Margaret, stretched the cervix around your head while I pushed.  About 3-5 contractions/pushes later your head popped through the cervix.  Now I could begin pushing!  I gave it all I had and let out this huge push/cry/scream.  They instructed me to bear down and stay low.  Pushing was not coming naturally to me.  For some reason I missed the part in birth class that you push with the contractions and that you have to wait for the contraction to build. Ugh!  I thought I would like this part but I didn’t.  Your dad looked at me and said it is like you are pooping and to make that sound.  It was a huge help.  The posterior position can make it harder for women to feel that urge to push, so I had to go by instruction.  As the pushing continued and my form improved, my whole body was working.

Pushing is the complete opposite of dilating.  When working to 10 cm you want to keep all your muscles relaxed but with pushing you use every muscle in your body.  For the first time I felt like I wanted to vomit but nothing came out.  As your head moved down further I felt the stretching begin.  I tore in two places but didn’t need stitches. Both of my legs were up in the air with Betsy holding one and Erin holding the other.  Dad was up by my head cheering me along.  The midwife was there to catch you.  They saw your head and had me feel it.  It felt wrinkly and not very far out.  I thought this would go on forever.  In the end I think I pushed for 1.5 hrs?  No one really knew.  As your head started to emerge the midwife called your dad down to use his hand to keep it warm.  Many pushes later I gave a big push and your head came out.  Now Margaret had Dad catch the rest of you with the next push.  They told me you were out and to reach down and grab you.  I didn’t believe them and kept my eyes closed, completely exhausted.  Dad brought you up to me and I opened my eyes.  He said, “Kim, it’s a girl!”

As you nestled in my arms you gave us a smile. It had been a long, hard journey for all three of us.  You started nursing within minutes.  We kept you against my skin for about an hour and then they wiped you off.  No bath, no shots!  They weighed you (8 lbs, 12 oz) and measured you (19″).  You were born just after midnight at 12:39 AM on Feb. 22.  Suddenly I was very alert, talking to everyone.  Happy.  Blissful.  Now they offered me pain meds which I found ironic.  I gladly took the Advil.  I healed fast but the first week was sore.  I learned later that posterior babies often result in c-section.  I am certain that without the epidural I was able to feel you and move with you to get you out.  I wouldn’t have been able to do that without feeling you and you could have gotten “stuck” or labor could have “stalled.”

In the end it was all worth it and I am so grateful for the amazing support team because without them we couldn’t have done it on our own.

Love, Mom

A Grandmother’s Testimonial

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Hi Erin and Betsy,

I wanted to share with you the impressions I had, as a grandma and as an RN, of your doula services.  Please do share this with anyone interested in your services.

In the other room I can hear my daughter murmuring happily to her tiny son.  Her milk has come in amply.  The baby is getting plump fast, and he is a good-natured guy who seems to cry only when being changed.  My son-in-law is totally and blissfully in love with his new son.  All in all, it feels like a fairytale ending.

I think you get lots of the credit for this happy ending.  You spent plenty of time with her before the delivery, both talking and doing massage, so that you knew who she was and what she hoped for during the delivery.  The massages were wonderful preparation for help during the labor itself, since you knew her body and she knew your touch.  You offered lots of information that her doctors did not, such as how to help the cervix ripen for delivery.  All in all, your easy availability and common sense approach really helped when she was trying to decide if she was really in labor or not. And as she passed her due date and waited, you were wonderful support for her hope of a natural vaginal delivery.

When she went past her due date, things felt stressful and complicated.  You helped her understand her choices about whether to have an induction or not and how to respond to her doctors.  It empowered her at a difficult time. Even when she decided to have an induction, you offered positive ways to handle the long labor in the hospital.

One extremely important suggestion from you was urging her to keep eating, so her strength would stay up for the delivery.  This really mattered when she had such a long labor and when pushing was so tiring.  If she had eaten nothing,  I doubt she would have been able to push successfully.

Another huge difference you made was the massage, coaching and positioning during the induced labor.  It was a long, very tough labor, and her husband, although willing and loving, did not have the expertise needed relieve her discomfort and relax her in expert ways.

Finally, you had the assertiveness and the finesse to work with the hospital staff to achieve the best outcome for her.  You watched for signs of problems getting started and took early steps that changed the outcome. I am certain that you prevented a C section and prevented real problems.  You made this difficult labor easier and helped her husband know how best to support her.  All of this is priceless.
If anyone wonders if having a doula is worth it in a hospital with an attentive husband and grandma available, I can tell them:  It was worth every penny and more.  You definitely changed the course of what happened for the better.Finally, your support after the birth has also been useful and wise.  She feels she can ask you all sorts of things about breastfeeding and her own recovery.

Thanks so much!
Jean Gendreau