Previous Birth Stories
At Brookhaven we strive to complete births at home or the birth center, but in order to maintain the safety of the mother and child hospital transfers may be necessary. In fact, we transfer approximately 10% of all of our patients at some point. These birth stories were previously published in our newsletter, but we’d like to add them to the blog as well. We’re including links to make it easier to scroll.
You may notice that some stories have a different format as well. We used to feature a mom, so some of these are just short blurbs about the mother, but we transitioned to more storytelling over time and you might even spy a story written by a father!
Sera Petras was initially featured in the April 2012 Newsletter after experiencing a postpartum transfer.
Sera was one of the first moms to give birth at Brookhaven Birth Center to a beautiful daughter named Chloe. She is so talented and has some super cool hobbies. She is the singer for a local band called Findells, and she owns her own photography business. All of the pictures in April’s newsletter are of Sera’s work (except for the one of Gina’s birth). Check her out on facebook or her google her to see more of her amazing work!
Melanie is another postpartum transfer that was highlighted in this newsletter in 2012.
Melanie grew up in Vermont, and went to a state college there where she majored in Painting and minored in Art History. She moved to Harrisonburg, VA in 2009 to be closer to her sister’s family, for a change of scenery, and to have a fresh start.
In 2002, while she was still in college, Melanie had worked at a small hand crafted goods shop, in Rutland, Vermont. She was encouraged there to create her own jewelry, and to sell it in the store for some extra pocket money. Her work was quite the hit. She started making presents for friends and family, and began selling her art at a farmer’s market. When she moved to Harrisonburg she started selling her jewelry at the local farmers market here too. That is where she met Andrew, who had a produce stand at the market. In 2007 he had bought the family farm house, that he had grown up in, and transformed the property into Wildside Farms. The two started dating summer of 2009, quickly fell in love, and were married in early 2010. They had a simple wedding in the Virgin Islands, and cam home to settle into their cozy family farm in Singers Glen.
Almost exactly two years after they were married the couple welcomed a baby into their home! Silas Robert was born on February 13, 2013 at Brookhaven Birth Center. Melanie and Andrew love their baby boy unconditionally, and are so excited to have him as part of their family. Melanie is back at the farmers market and you can find her stand featuring “Designs by Melanie” on Saturday mornings. She also does local shows and displays throughout the Valley.
Anna Hoover’s story was first shared in our August 2013 newsletter.
I have an amazing husband, Pancho, who left a job he loved to stay at home with our son, Taavi, age 2. He will be staying home with Taavi and Zola when I return to work in August (good luck, babe!). I am a Transition Specialist at the Virginia School for Deaf and the Blind, but my passion outside of family and work is riding. I have a horse who is kind enough to let my son hop on and ride too, which is one of my favorite things in the world, and we have a awesome dog named Leo.
My labor with Taavi was 28 hours, and even though I got to push for 5 hours I ended in a c-section. He was large (9 lbs. 6.5 oz.) and posterior, but I felt like the interventions at the hospital in Charlottesville where he was born really prevented me from doing anything to help his position change or deliver him vaginally. When I started searching in the area for a place to birth Zola, our daughter, I started with a group of midwives affiliated with a local hospital. But the experience left much to be desired and our tour of both area hospitals cemented our decision- we would try for an our of hospital VBAC. Pancho felt the birth center’s proximity to RMH made it a better option than to birth at home, and when we met the staff at Brookhaven, we knew we had found our birth center!
Even though I transferred to RMH at the very end of our labor, I am so happy we chose Brookhaven. The care leading up to and following Zola’s birth was outstanding (home visits, can anything be better post-birth??). The labor experience at home and at Brookhaven was so relaxing and enjoyable. I know without a doubt there is no way if I had gone anywhere else that I would have realized my ultimate goal of delivering my daughter vaginally. The staff at Brookhaven stuck with us for a looooong labor and got Zola turned naturally (she was posterior as well). They increased monitoring when her heart rate slowed if I laid down, and eliminated that position and problem (good one Zola- 35 hour labor and you didn’t “like” my lying down… haha). Brookhaven would absolutely be our choice if we ever conceived again and I would recognize transition and stay put!
Mia’s birth story was shared in our October 2013 newsletter.
Before my husband and I even began planning our family, I knew I wanted to have a natural labor and birth. So when we became pregnant I knew I wanted to find a midwife. I transferred care to Brookhaven after my 20 week ultrasound. I knew from my first appointment that I made the right decision, because Brookhaven felt like home.
My labor started around 12:30 pm. I arrived at Brookhaven around 10:30 am. I was 7cm dilated and extremely excited! However, after 6.5 hours of contractions with no progress being made, we decided to make the transfer to the hospital. Misty and the rest of the Brookhaven staff were with me throughout my labor at the hospital. I had the most amazing team with me. I delivered my daughter, Alysa, via a c-section at 11:17 pm. Even though my birth wasn’t what I had planned I had the most amazing group of women behind me the whole time. With the support of my husband, doula, Brookhaven team, and hospital team I now have a beautiful baby girl to forever be grateful for. Transferring our care was one of the best decisions we have made, and I so look forward to my next pregnancy where I will return to Brookhaven and hopefully have a successful VBAC!
Bethany was originally featured in a 2014 newsletter.
Hi, my name is Bethany. My husband, Seth and I have 3 beautiful children, Jack (4), Ella (2), and Lucas (5 months). We tried for many years to start a family and even pursued international adoption. Sadly, Vietnam closed their doors to international adoption while we were going through the process. After meeting with a great doctor in Charlottesville, we had a successful IUI and I became pregnant with Jack! I always wanted a natural birth but God had a different plan. We discovered that Jack was breech and after many attempts at turning him…upside-down on stairs & ironing boards, frozen peas, music, chiropractic procedures, moxibustion, and external version, we finally consented to having a c-section. I actually almost met with a local midwife who did home births and was willing to take moms with breech babies. That was Misty (before Brookhaven) but I just didn’t know it at the time! When I found out I was pregnant with Ella we definitely knew we didn’t want another hospital birth. We instantly fell in love with Brookhaven and Misty! She gave me the confidence I needed to believe that I could have a successful VBAC. 12 days past my due date and 15 hours of labor later, little (ahem…9.1 lbs!) Miss Ella was born and we were so happy she was finally here! Apparently , we don’t have fertility issues anymore because we became pregnant once again! We were welcomed back at Brookhaven. It was wonderful to feel relaxed this time around and know that I would be supported to birth the way I wanted. I used Hypnobabies (again) and I highly recommend it. I am not one to remember every detail of birth. A blessing, maybe? With the support of my husband, water, and relaxing techniques I just let my body do what it needed to do. I actually slept a lot of the time! Lucas came on his due date and the labor only took 7 hours this time!
Thanks Misty, Heather, and all the wonderful midwives at Brookhaven for helping us make my pregnancies and births a natural experience where I felt supported 100% of the time. We love you but I think our family is complete!
Pete Atkinson was featured as Dad of the month in October 2015.
Pete and DeAnna Atkinson live in Ruckersville with their three daughters. Coralee is 5, Clara is 3, and Susanna, born August 10th. DeAnna is an organist and church music director. Pete teaches English and coaches football at Blue Ridge School, and serves as the Pastor of Gordonsville Presbyterian Church. The following is Susanna’s birth story from Pete’s perspective, followed by a beautiful poem he wrote for her.
The decision to have our third child with Misty was a no brainer, but five years ago, as a clueless expecting first-time father, heading to my first Bradley Method Class, I never would have imagined conceiving of such a statement, let alone believing it to my core. Natural Childbirth was something I had never really thought about, so homebirth was completely foreign to me. I was like, really, people have them at home, how do you ever go back into that room? But as they say, experience is the best teacher.
We had our first daughter, Coralee, with a Midwife in the hospital, and it was a battle. We, or at least my wife, DeAnna, had a specific vision for how she wanted the birth to go, and I felt it was my job to fight for her, to fight for us, and it was quite a fight. She just was never comfortable, and it all seemed like we were a part of a process and system where we had very little control over what was happening to and with our family. I am convinced that the 36+ hour ordeal, battling all the way, was extended because DeAnna never felt relaxed. I couldn’t help her relax because I was fighting against the system. It just wasn’t right, but Coralee was born, finally, and the blessing of her coming to us, of course was magical, but we were certain we wanted something else for our second child.
Two years later our second daughter Clara was born at home. Things went much more quickly. You can’t beat the comfort of home, the relaxed atmosphere, but always in the back of your mind are the “what ifs.” What do we do if something goes wrong? And with Clara it did, but Misty was amazing, so calm, so professional, perfect for the moment. Clara was born with the cord around her neck. The first seconds of her life, were the most intense blur I’ve ever witnessed. I see her purple color still if I try. I hear the silence of her not breathing, but in the mix of that memory is Misty calm, collected, forceful breathing life into her lungs, and within the minute she was fine, and her life began. DeAnna had some complications afterwards; she hemorrhaged, and Misty, and Heidi Horner stayed with us. They cared enough to make sure we were okay, physically, and emotionally comforted. They cared about us as people. We were more than clients. It meant so much. To have someone save your daughter’s life, but also to stay around, off the clock, it’s just what you want.
So three years later, remembering Coralee’s birth, and comparing it with Clara’s, we didn’t think twice. I felt completely comfortable and at ease with Misty and Brookhaven. And as a husband, I’m in awe of what my wife has gone through. She’s amazing, so strong, so brave, so resilient. We thought the third might just be easier, totally different, and I’d say she was. I remember at the home visit, Misty was going through the “what to do if the baby comes fast” procedure, and it wasn’t real to me. All I remembered was, make sure you put the on-call midwife number on speed dial, that speakerphone is a wonderful thing, and try to get her to the bed, so at least the landing would be soft, but beyond that I heard, pray it doesn’t happen. But it did, our third daughter, Susanna, was born at 4:10 a.m., and I wrote the poem [below], the following night. It seeks to capture the moment of the birth of our little Rocket Baby.
So many things, like time, like rest, like fear,
Like apprehension and anxiety, feelings of inadequacy,
They all just seem to disappear
In the perfect moments, those ones
Where God removes the escape hatches,
And doesn’t let us press that eject button,
But stands there with us in the embrace
Of all encompassing presence, face to face.
She let me know it was time, the clock was ticking,
And though there seemed a lifetime between each pulse,
Action was needed now. We had to move quickly,
So we did. We had to be ready,
So we were, and I’ll never know the pain,
Only she could feel that, but I could see it,
And I could hear it, and I just wanted it to end
Though I knew what its end meant.
It meant I would be the first to touch, to greet,
To make contact and welcome what would in a minute be her,
And it meant when she came to us, it would just be us three,
In our room, in our bed, in our home, the same room,
Just mere feet away from exactly where we met her sister.
Please God, let it not be like that was. I’m not equipped. She saved
Her life, but she’s not here. It’s just me and an amazing mother
Doing her part. No, It’ll be fine. There is no choice, no other.
As fast as it was, it crept, compared to the moment she came,
A head, for just an instant, then like the release of a kinked hose,
She blasted into this world, into my hands. I felt her warm frame,
Slippery, slimy, but she coughed, she breathed, no cord, all clear,
I must have had her in my hands less than a second, but she’s alive.
I could feel her life, and I just knew, she breathed and I with her
Then I like a second basemen turning two, quickly passed her on,
I placed her in her mother’s hands, and just like that my job was done.
All three were different, and each had its own fear, its own fight,
And each left its mark on me. God knows I wasn’t ready to be a Dad,
A man of responsibility, with a sense that moments matter, so he gave
Me these, and I stand in thanksgiving to Him and to her, my wife,
For bringing me into the moment, to be a part, a real part, of something
I could have otherwise avoided, playing the spectator on the sidelines.
Instead I got to fight for one, to pray for another, and deliver the last today,
Though days of doubt will come again, I’ve thrice now known presence, grace.
Crystal was a twin Mama who we did a newsletter story and blogpost about previously at the following link.