My husband Blake and I were married at age 26. Blake and his daughter accepted me as one of the family. Blake was a friend of my younger brothers while growing up but, I didn’t know him well since I had filled my time with basketball, tennis, and touring choir in high school. My brother told Blake not to mess with me and said I was trouble. I like to think my brother was just being protective. After graduating high school, I attended Liberty University then moved to Pensacola, FL to pursue an Ultrasound Technologist degree. I now work in Harrisonburg, VA in my field of choice utilizing my ultrasound degree.
Approximately 7 years after Blake and I had become acquaintances, we were re-introduced through social media. He asked me to go to the drive-in movie theater for our first date. As we began to spend more time together, Blake introduced me to his daughter, Keelie. I can still picture the moment to this day. This little 3 year old standing at the sliding glass door, hands flat to the glass, in her pull-up diaper, screaming about daddy hanging out with someone other than daddy’s girl. This was not the first introduction I had hoped for. Later, we were able to spend time together on the playground at the nearby park. It took her about 4 months to accept me as one of the family and not to scream at the top of her lungs as we introduced each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, “HE IS NOT YOUR BOYFRIEND!!!” We were married 21 months later on April 25th, 2015.
In November of the same year we were married, we were blessed to realize we would be expecting a new bundle of joy!! And so the pregnancy journey began….learning all I could about each stage of pregnancy and being thankful for very minimal morning sickness. We started our care at a local OB-GYN office but upon realizing we could not have a water birth in the hospital, we decided to look into other options. Halfway through our pregnancy, my husband and I had a consultation at Brookhaven Birthing Center and spent 2 1/2 hours visiting with the midwife and midwife apprentice. They were so warm and welcoming as they encouraged us to ask any questions we may have. Being new to the idea of the birthing center, I had plenty of questions and they were gracious to answer. We walked away from our visit with a sense of peace, knowing this is where we would share our pregnancy journey in anticipation of the calming labor environment Brookhaven has to offer. Part of the education on the stages of pregnancy included making the decision to have an un-medicated natural labor process. We made this decision for many reasons but the main reason was to decrease the amount of stress our little one was exposed to as she entered the world.
I was able to go through my entire pregnancy with two friends who were expecting a month before me and a month after me. It was so wonderful to have two people to relate to during some of the more difficult “huge” days. In preparation for Arielle’s arrival, I enjoyed sewing some burp clothes and pacifier clips for her and one of my expectant friends. I planned to work up until I went into labor and did just that. July 28th was my last midwife appointment in the middle of, unbeknownst to me, my last work day. My grandparents had just arrived in town from Ohio to be present for the big arrival. I returned home later that evening and climbed in bed around 11:30 pm only to wake up at 1 am to my water breaking. Since I was still half asleep, it took me awhile to figure out if it was really my water (fingers crossed) or if I was wetting the bed! Could this be the moment I have been anticipating so intently for the last 40 weeks but especially the 10 days past my due date!!? Sure enough it was my water breaking! I texted Misty to let her know my progress and that I were resting until contractions began. I managed to find my dog’s pee pads so I could lie back down to get some sleep. Around 5 am I started with light period cramps so we grabbed our birthing bag, took our last picture as a family of 3 with my baby bump and headed over to my in-laws to drop off Keelie before heading down to Harrisonburg to be closer to Brookhaven. I labored at my parent’s house until around 3:00 pm until contractions seemed to be less than 5 minutes apart and then headed over to Brookhaven.
Upon arriving to Brookhaven, we realized I was not the only one in labor. We would be sharing labor joys with another expectant mother and father! As we settled into the Willow room, contractions seemed to be minimal and slow down. Blake and I even felt we had prematurely arrived to the birthing center because clearly our neighbors were much more advanced in labor than I. We decided to go on a walk up and down the nearby office’s steps for about 30 minutes and came back inside without increase of contractions. Since my water had broken almost 16 hours prior, Misty recommended trying to pump to see if it helped to advance things. I sat down to start pumping not feeling any different than I had when arrived. After 2 minutes of pumping, my contractions hit all of a sudden and I was 8 cm dilated. As my body reacted the way it was suppose to by assisting in pushing her out, I made my way to the partially filled tub. At this point it was 5:30 pm and Misty had two mothers in active labor. She called for backup so we would have plenty of people to assist in case she needed to be in two places at once. Blake felt welcome to climb in the tub with me so he could catch her when the time came. He helped by supporting me during the strong contractions. With every contraction it seemed so close to the end, just praying she would pop right out. As I struggled through contraction after contraction, I became very tired and Savannah brought me a spoonful of honey to help give me energy. Luckily at 7:29 pm on 7/29/16 out came Miss Arielle Michele Foltz! Blake caught her like a football as Misty helped her out of the water and laid her on my chest. She was crying as soon as she hit the air and all the emotions came over me as I had imagining they would! She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and my little glimpse of Heaven! She was a small petite thing and Misty had estimated she was in the 6 lb range. I was assisted out of the tub while I continued to hold our little blessing. We had decided on delayed cord clamping so she could receive all the blood from the placenta to help her start out on the right foot.
We were able to hold Arielle for around 4 hours before any evaluations were done. Savannah, our midwife apprentice, weighed and measured Arielle as we checked out every inch of this tiny being. All of this was done on our bed and she was never taken out of our room. Blake even got to lift up the hanging scale with Arielle inside of the fabric hammock. She weighed 6 lbs 4 oz and was 20 3/4 inches long. She did not have to receive any shots or injections after being born since we opted to use the Vitamin K drops. We also opt-out of the antibiotics being placed in her eyes since she was born at the birthing center. That’s what I liked a lot about working with Brookhaven in comparison to a hospital birth, I was given options with our care. We were educated on the entire process to make informed decisions. If we wanted to opt-out of something, we could. We were able to develop relationships with the staff instead of feeling like a number. Every employee knew our names by day 1 and treated our concerns or questions as topics of discussion and helped us feel like one of the family.
Learning to breastfeed was an adjustment especially since I needed to use a nipple shield. EVERYTHING with pregnancy, labor and motherhood involves determination and motivation to succeed along with a little prayer multiple times a day! I want to encourage other mothers, that even though it can be difficult with nursing at times, if you have set a goal, are motivated and medically able to breastfeed, don’t talk yourself out of giving your baby the nutritional benefits of your personal breast milk. I struggled with nursing for 9 1/2 weeks before some of the pain let up. I was crying with every feeding but still determined not to give up.
Due to all the pain I had experienced over maternity leave, I didn’t have much of a supply for returning back to work. I was trying to avoid dealing with the confronting issue until a breastfeeding angel of a friend called me up and asked, “Do you want 800 oz of breast milk? I have a trustworthy friend trying to empty her freezer for the holidays.” I took this as my answer to prayer! A few months later, I ran into a new mother in Cracker Barrel eating at the table beside us. We had the usual conversations asking about her new little one and in conversation realized she has an over abundance of milk she donates to the milk bank at the hospital for the NICU babies. She asked if I was in need of milk and said she would save some for me in addition to her milk bank donations. Knowing that she had to go through the proper testing on her milk to be able to donate to the NICU, I said I would keep her in mind. I have since received around 600 oz from her as well. I am amazed at how giving other mothers are and didn’t realize the connections and friendships I would make through motherhood.
Arielle is the happiest baby I have ever seen and she is very laid back. It is such a joy to see her grow and develop day to day. Watching her grow baby teeth, learn to scoot, pull herself up to a standing position, and soon she will be walking, all before she turns 9 months!