Hazel Rose’s Birth

Up to the 40th week of our pregnancy, I had successfully distracted myself from the ever-looming question, “Is today the day?” I baked zucchini bread, created artwork for the nursery walls, and even cleaned and organized the pantry. I tried some natural induction strategies, including forgoing my dislike of spicy food to have the hottest curry ever, drank raspberry leaf tea, took a few relaxing baths, and continued to walk 2.5 miles on our daily outings to the park with our dog, Henry. Once we hit 40 weeks, I could tell that the other park walkers were also having some baby disappointment. We’d pass the old man in the blue jacket who gave us his obligatory good-morning nod and smile. This week, he was clearly not as chipper about his greeting, since any morning now, he too anticipated that we’d be pushing a stroller and was obviously feeling a little blue too.

Then Geoff started coming down with flu symptoms. Suddenly we had to shift gears again. Now we were hoping the baby would hold off until he was feeling better. His symptoms worsened: chills, night sweats, high fever, and a cough. I went into nurse mode, waddling around the house cleaning everything in sight, dispensing Geoff’s medicine, and doing all the cooking. “My turn will come!” I thought. I knew Geoff would have his hands full after the baby arrived, having two of us and Henry to look after. Geoff’s fever finally broke on Tuesday, but his cough was lingering. By now I was 41 weeks exactly. My midwife Emily assured us that if I were to go into labor while he was still sick that we could still use the birth center, but they’d have him wear a mask. I was relieved, and decided that if this baby wanted to wait another week, so be it!

The next day I decided to get busy again and gathered up all the blankets in the house to take to the laundromat, went to Lowes for new air filters, and proceeded to do all the chores and cook dinner before finally collapsing into the rocker in our living room. “I over-did it,” I told Geoff, feeling weepy and exhausted. I climbed the stairs to bed.

At 11pm, I woke up feeling crampy and went to the bathroom. I wiped and looked at the tissue, as I had been doing for weeks, anticipating with each trip to the toilet that I’d see some bloody show. There it was! I was too tired to feel very excited, but I felt relieved. I didn’t want to get my hopes up either, since I knew that true labor could still be days away. I crawled back into bed and told Geoff. After about 20 minutes, the cramps weren’t letting up. I decided to start timing the contractions using an app on my phone. They were coming consistently but at odd intervals of 4-7 minutes apart, lasting 1-1.5 minutes each.

I drifted into a sleep, and then into a lucid dream. I was standing on a beautiful beach, facing the waves and feeling the surf rush up to my ankles and recede again. The sky was brilliant pink and purple, dotted with bright stars, and the rays of a rising sun. The sand was warm. Geoff stood beside me, holding my hand, facing the vast ocean in front of us. “You’ve got this. I love you,” he said, looking at me with a fervent intensity, filled with love and confidence. Each time a contraction came on, so did a wave, and with each wave, my dream self looked at Geoff and told him how much I love him.

I drifted back to reality, and several hours had passed. I could feel the contractions strengthening. This was the real thing. Geoff took over timing and texting updates to Emily. Finally the contractions were coming 2-5 minutes apart. Emily told us to meet her at the birth center.

On the half-hour car ride, I kept trying to visualize the beach. Between contractions, I thought, “All these other drivers have no idea that there’s a laboring woman in the car beside them!” We arrived at Brookhaven just before 8am.

Time seemed to stand still over the next 12 hours. I labored on my side for a long time making slow progress. I managed to move between the bed, toilet, tub, floor and yoga ball a few times over the course of the day. Since this was a birth center and not a hospital, I could still eat during labor, and I did! I knew I would need the energy. I had grapes, a granola bar and some peanut butter chocolate cake. Cake never tasted so good. As my energy waned, I kept trying to get back to the beach, chanting “wave” with each oncoming contraction, and rocking back and forth to allow the discomfort to disperse through my body instead of settling in one place.

Laboring in water was soothing but seemed to lengthen the time between contractions. Geoff was by my side. Another one came. “My body is wise.” The thoughts and words formed simultaneously as I breathed them out. I realized then I needed to surrender to the ancient wisdom of my body – the inherited knowledge that lives in my muscles and bones, my very DNA. My body is wise. I didn’t know what to expect next, but I knew I didn’t need to be afraid. My body knew what to do.

Finally, Emily checked me, and I still wasn’t fully dilated. She and her assistant Megan offered me a combination of homeopathic treatments to help move things along and to release my tension. Within 30 minutes, the contractions changed, coming one after another. I writhed with the pain, letting my head press to the bed. This was intense. I held Megan’s arms to give myself some leverage. Then I vomited. A few times. There went the cake. Then the midwives put a peanut ball between my legs while I lay on my side on the bed. Suddenly it felt like my entire body was being squeezed and every muscle was bearing down to move everything inside to the outside. If this was the transition to “feeling like pushing” then I’d put pushing on the low end of the spectrum. My body took over, and push or no, this baby was coming out. I recall Emily saying that she saw the baby’s head and no cervix. They called Geoff back into the room. I held his arms through more contractions.

Somehow I managed to move to the tub again, which the midwives had refilled with warm water. I leaned forward on the edge, facing the room, looking up at Geoff. My mind oscillated between “I can” and “I can’t.” My pelvic floor was giving way. Desperate for a sign that I’d survive this, I looked at Geoff. He nodded at me with confidence and reassurance, and I knew it was almost over. I let out a primal shriek, which we both later recalled took us by surprise. I heard the midwives encourage me to pant and breathe low. I grunted. They urged me to shift and lie on my back. I moved my legs under me and let my body fall back into the water. Another contraction, and I screamed again. I think someone said that the baby was almost here, and they could see her head. Another contraction, and a rush of panic surged as I could feel her press through me. I opened my eyes, and the pressure released. Her head was born! Almost instantly another contraction brought the rest of her into the water. Then she was in my arms. Hazel Rose, the most beautiful sight. I wept with joy and amazement.

Geoff came to my side as we stared down at our child, our healthy daughter, who was crying in my arms. I counted her fingers and toes, in awe of their perfection. Geoff cut her umbilical cord. I looked into her face as she opened her eyes for the first time. Hazel Rose was born. A mother and father were born too. I kissed Geoff.

The midwives placed Hazel into Geoff’s arms while I moved to the bed. They brought Hazel to me, and we learned to breastfeed. The midwives examined me and said I had some tearing. After surviving labor, I accepted that I would have some scars to show for my experience and declined stitches. Geoff came to my side, and we took in the first moments of being together as a family. Before long, my parents and brother arrived. Geoff called his parents in the U.K. We were surrounded by love.

I got up from the bed and hobbled to the toilet. Nothing would come out. It took about 15 minutes for me to find the strength to go. The midwife’s assistant helped me back into bed. Exhaustion fell over me. We slowly gathered our belongings and placed the newest little human into her car seat. I put on a nursing nightgown I had packed in our birth center bag. Geoff put Hazel in the car, and we made our first journey as a family through the quiet streets back home. It was 2am. We settled Hazel into the bassinet beside our bed. Then we slept, as a family, for the first time in our little nest.

 

Kim has her own blog called Humanist Mum if anyone would like to read more of her musings!

 

Savannah’s Farewell

Savannah was with Brookhaven Women’s Health & Natural Birth Center for two years. We are incredibly proud to see her complete her apprenticeship, but sad that this means moving on from Brookhaven. Read Savannah’s thoughts below!

 

We all know times flies, but when you divide two years into pregnancies and trimesters, it seems like no time at all. It’s hard for me to realize how many families I met and learned from and how many of their births I was honored to attend in that time.

We all know, too, how privileged the families of the Shenandoah Valley are to be served by so many wonderful, skilled women. I came to Brookhaven after working with two amazing midwives for 5 years. Since then I have worked with 6 midwives in just two years, and I’m so grateful I could learn from each of them.

When I joined Brookhaven I’d been attending births professionally for 5 years, but still had countless skills to master. You all have been incredibly gracious, allowing me to exercise these skills to a point of confidence. I won’t claim to have mastered every one, but I leave knowing I can offer quality care to families of other areas, still waiting for enough midwives to go around.

I’m going to miss the Brookhaven team, from the office staff and midwives to the students and ultrasonographer. I’ll miss my morning commute through Shenandoah Valley loveliness, and gorgeous Brookhaven herself. And I’m going to miss all you wonderful families, many of whom are just now returning with new tiny little ones on the way. But I’m excited to make room for our new students, because new faces mean you’ll learn that much more from each other.

Thank you to each of you who helped me on this journey. Thank you for helping grow out-of-hospital midwifery and birthing choices for women everywhere. You are the dynamic force. You do the real work of changing maternity care.

See you at Brookhaven Labor Day Party #8!

 

January MOM

Amy won our Christmas giveaway and had previously submitted her birth story to us. We thought it would be fun to share a picture of Kahlan in the knitted sweater and then to share the story of how she met her family.

I’m Amy, married to Kris for almost 12 years.  Mom of two boys, Roman, 11 and Liam, 6, and one girl, Kahlan born on August 4, 2017.  This is what my very foggy new Mommy brain can recall.

December 2, 2016 I took a pregnancy test thinking it was absolutely going to be negative.  But I wanted to rule out pregnancy before I looked into other reasons as to why I was feeling so run down.  The results were almost immediate and I sat in disbelief in the bathroom.  Five days later on the 7th I tested again, which looking back seems silly, but I had another test so why not give it a go.  I decided after the second test came back positive that it may be time to schedule an appointment.

After talking options over with Kris we chose to contact Brookhaven and set up a consultation mid December.  We got family to watch our two boys by telling them we were doing dinner and some last minute Christmas shopping together.  We left the consultation that evening and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that giving birth at Brookhaven was the route I wanted to take.  

January 18, 2017, at almost 12 weeks  was my first official appointment.  I met with Maya who no longer works at Brookhaven, and the student was Savannah who I have grown to love.  We decided to tell our boys the news that evening after dinner by telling them we’d have another stocking hanging at Christmas.

January 22 we told our close family and had the boys wear special shirts Kris had made.  Surprisingly it took longer than I thought for them to catch on and it was my Aunt Michele who noticed and asked why Liam was wearing a shirt that said big brother.

My ultrasound was done in March and just like with our boys we decided to not find out the gender until the birth.  

I was asked about the possibility of being featured in our local newspaper as they were doing a story on Brookhaven.  I agreed and was surprised to find myself on the cover.  At this point we hadn’t told anyone we were expecting but our family and close friends.  What a birth announcement that was.  Some of the audio from my birth was on WMRA with an interview with Misty.  The link is here.

All of my prenatal appointments felt like a time to sit and chat with a friend.  Nothing was ever rushed and everyone I met was always so welcoming.  I knew early on that I wanted what everyone referred to as the party birth.  I wanted family there, and food, and cake.  I wanted our boys there to announce the gender to us and then to everyone else.  At one of my last appointments we talked about how we wanted our birth to go.  I stressed that if at all possible I wanted baby covered as soon as he/she was born so that way our boys could announce it to us and then to family.  I was also asked about a student from JMU being present for my birth.  I didn’t think twice about saying yes.  What was one more person.  I was so glad that I allowed her to be there because I later found out I was the first birth she got to see.

Fast forward to August 2, what would be my last prenatal appointment even though I didn’t believe it and was truly convinced I would be pregnant forever.  I felt good, although grumpy and tired, and was having a good bit of Braxton Hicks contractions.  Emily kept reassuring me that with the length and intensity of those contractions I would have my sweet baby soon.  

August 3, my due date and no baby.  With my boys I never made it to a due date.  No matter how many times I told myself that it’s just an estimate and baby will come when he or she is ready.  I was just convinced that this third baby of mine was never coming out.  Around noon that day I texted Kris asking him if he wanted to go to the pool with us that evening.  I needed to get out of the house and be outside and the pool was the only way I was going to comfortably be outside.  Sadly about ten minutes after being in the water we were told to get out due to a contamination issue.  I was wishing my water had broken and I was the reason we had to get out of the pool for a contamination issue.  We moved to the very crowded indoor pool and my mood just went from bad to worse.  I sucked it up for my boys so they could have a good time.  After getting out of the pool I felt off, but it never crossed my mind that it could be the beginning stages of labor.

After getting home I took a shower and then we made a taco casserole for dinner.  At dinner we joked about how it would be funny if this would be our last supper as a family of four.  After tucking the boys in we watched some TV and then I spent some time on the couch texting my sister, Jennifer.  Around 10pm I started noticing an increase in pain and frequency with contractions so I started timing them.  I timed them for a good two hours and they averaged about 8 minutes apart.  Still no part of me believed that labor was starting and that I’d be holding a baby the very next day.  I went to bed around midnight and let Kris know about the contractions, but followed it up with a warning to not get too excited.  

August 4, Kris woke me up before leaving for work to check on me and to let me know he would touch base on when to bring the boys to his work for bring your kids to work day.  I got up to pee and felt a little crampy but was able to go back to sleep.  Around 8:30am, I woke up and stayed in bed checking stuff out on the FaceBook world.  I got a text around 8:45 from my Aunt Beth who was also my amazing photographer asking me if baby was waiting on my cousin to get back in town.  I told her that was probably the case but I hoped not.  We talked about how I was feeling and she told me of her plans that day and where she’d be if I needed her.

About 9:10 I got up and used the bathroom and noticed a good bit of blood in the toilet along with a lot more cramping.  I decided to text the on call number and give them a heads up.  Misty was on call and she said it sounded like a baby would be coming today.  She reminded me to eat well and stay hydrated and suggested I come in for a checkup.  I was quickly able to contact Kris and I swear he flew home. In that time I let my sister Jenn know what was going on as well as my Aunt Michele who was was able to keep the rest of our family up to date. We made it to Brookhaven around 11 for a check and I was very surprised to find out I was a good 5 cm along.  Jenn and Beth were already there and kept the boys entertained while Kris and I were in with Misty talking over options.  At 5 cm I still felt pretty good and truly didn’t believe a baby could possibly come any time soon.  Misty suggested we go get some lunch and see where I was afterwards.  I chose Tropical Smoothie because I didn’t feel much like eating but felt like I could drink a smoothie.  Jenn and Beth came with us and Michele and my cousin Meredith showed up a little later to join in.  Around 12:30 my back pain had really started to pick up and I was having to lean over the table a little during contractions.  I’m sure I freaked some people out by being in labor there.  The nicest employee chatted with us and we reassured her she wouldn’t need a mop.  Had we invited her to the birth I’m sure she would have joined in.

We headed back to Brookhaven around 1:00.  Even though things were picking up I still didn’t feel any pattern to my contractions.  An hour later is when contractions became more regular and at 3:00 Misty decided to admit me.  Family streamed in with food and games for the boys.  I was able to eat some fruit and some small sandwiches in between contractions.  My family made sure my water cup was filled for me at all times.

During contractions I was able to labor comfortably while standing and leaning over the bed on a stack of pillows or on a pillow on the mantle above the fireplace.  Misty brought out a ball for me to sit on and we put it at the end of the bed with a few pillows in front of me to rest on.  Family was in and out checking on us and it was nice to have that distraction in between contractions.

Around 5:00 I decided to have Misty check me again.  Getting into a position on the bed for her to check me was awful and I think it wasn’t until then that I realized this was real.  I was at a seven.  Misty said it would be soon.  We made the decision not long after that to start filling up the tub. Kris helped me change and around 5:40 I was in the tub and felt that I was where I needed to be.  I started out in the tub on my knees but quickly changed to leaning back with my legs out in front of me.  

For a while I was able to breathe through contractions in the water, then it turned into a hum.  Contractions were manageable and I was able to focus and breathe through them until I felt baby coming down. Around 6:10 I became much more vocal and I felt like I lost all control because everything was happening so quickly.  I was losing focus and I wasn’t in the zone anymore.  I remember screaming that I was pushing and Misty helped bring me back by calmly getting my attention and telling me over and over that I could do this.  She was right.  6:27 my water broke,  at 6:28 the head was born, and at 6:30 baby was out.

Kris helped Misty catch and she quickly covered baby so no one could see the gender and then they put this sweet little thing on my chest.  I said “oh my God” countless times because that’s all I could get out.  I was so thankful for labor to be over and to finally have this sweet baby in my arms.  Baby was still covered with a towel on my chest while I sat in the tub and we had all of our family leave the room except for the boys, my sister and my Aunt Beth.  Once everyone was gone we were ready to find out if we had another son or a daughter.  Kris was facing me and the boys were beside the tub.  Kris locked eyes with me and counted and picked up the towel. Neither of us looked down and our oldest very excitedly said that it was a girl.  We had a daughter and they had a little sister.  The emotion on Kris’s face when he learned he had a daughter was something I’ll never forget.  

Kris and the boys went out to see our anxious family and Roman announced that we had a little girl.  I was still in the tub and could hear them all celebrating this new little life.

I sat in the tub loving on my little girl for almost an hour.  Misty delivered the placenta during that time and at around 7:30 I was ready to move to the bed. Heather helped me rinse off while Roman was cutting the cord.  I’m still shocked he did it but what a memory for him.  What nearly  11 year old can say they got to cut their sister’s cord?

7:40 and I was in bed while they checked all over Kahlan.  She was 8 pounds 13 ounces and 22 inches long.  She was bigger than both of her brothers were at birth.  I got to eat a bit later while family came in to love on us.  We ate cake and visited. Family trickled out to go home and rest after a long exciting day.  Emily showed up to relieve Misty and to discharge us.  Around 10:30 we said our goodbyes to the last few family members and the wonderful ladies at Brookhaven and loaded up as a family of five to head home.

We made it home and settled in for our first night with Kahlan.  Roman and Liam went to bed pretty easily even with all the excitement of the day.  We slept decently the first night home.  The next morning I got up and had coffee in my own house.  I remember thinking that we just had a baby the previous evening and I was so thankful to be in my own house having coffee.

Kahlan has filled our hearts.  Her big brothers cannot get enough of her and I cannot get enough of seeing Kris with his little girl.

 

Beyond thankful for this group of ladies who had a part in my pregnancy and labor and delivery.  Also our family who supported us, and my other half,  my husband who never left my side, supported me and helped make me as comfortable as possible and loved me through it all.  If it wasn’t for their love and support I wouldn’t have been able to have this amazing experience that I did.

Christmas Giveaway!

Thank you for participating in our giveaway, entries are no longer accepted.

As a fun way to show our appreciation of the Brookhaven Family, we’ve put together a gift basket to give to one winner. Our Christmas Giveaway includes three handmade items; keep reading to learn more about the items and for directions on entering the giveaway!

Our first item is a gender-neutral baby quilt. It was made by one of our own midwives and we will add a picture as soon as possible. We can certainly say that it is beautiful and will be a great addition to any crib.

This beige teddy bear is the second item. It is crocheted, has an adorable belly and is very cuddly. A toddler recently exclaimed “Oh, cuuuute!” when he saw the bear, so it is kid-approved.

 

 

The third item is a handknit baby jacket. It is made of 100% wool, the buttons are functional, and it also has a hood! It fits approximately like a store-bought 6-9mos, but the sleeves can easily be cuffed for a smaller baby.

 

 

All three items have been made with a lot of love, specifically for this giveaway, and we want to pass them on to you! We’ve been careful to include items that will work for a girl or a boy, so if you’re expecting but aren’t sure who you will meet you can still enter! If you don’t have a baby, but you know someone that could use these items, please feel free to enter the giveaway as well. The last day to enter this giveaway will be December 18, with the winner announced on December 20.

 

 How to enter

Each method of entry listed below will earn one entry. Completing multiple steps will earn multiple entries.

  1. Subscribe to our newsletter, the submission form is at the bottom of this page following the contact form.
  2. Like our Facebook page!
  3. Leave a review of our services (only if you’ve been a client) on Facebook, Yelp, or Google.

 

All contestants must use the form below to enter your name & email so we can contact you if you are the winner. This does not count toward your entries.

 **If you have already subscribed to our newsletter and liked us on Facebook, please check those items off when you submit your name and contact info so that we can count those toward your entries. If you have previously written us a Facebook review, please leave a review on one of the other platforms listed (Google or Yelp) or vice-versa. If you have reviewed us on all three platforms, please check the reviewed box (this will only count as one entry.) We will be double checking to see that the steps have been completed.

 

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*You may not resell any of the items in the gift basket, we will ship in the contiguous US if the winner is not local (we will not ship to Alaska or Hawaii.)