Christmas Giveaway!

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

  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.)

December Mom of the Month


Hi!  I’m Crystal.  I married my super amazing husband John in December 2008 while we were both still in college.  We’ve since graduated, started jobs, lived in 5 different houses, 3 different cities, and have built a family together.  When talking about children, John and I knew we wanted to have our babies close together.  Our firstborn, Ian, came in May 2012.  Very quickly, Naomi followed in September 2013, and Abigail in November 2015.  We couldn’t leave Abigail alone, so we decided to try for one more baby.  At the time, we were living in Austin, TX and far away from family.  In October 2016, we decided to move to Winchester, VA in April 2017 to be near John’s mom and cousins.  In December, I found out I was pregnant with an August 15th due date.  This would allow us to move during the second trimester, when things aren’t as crazy.  After all, the previous pregnancies had proved to be mostly routine, and the three births roughly the same.  I had fast labors, small babies, and always made it to the birth center’s tub in time for 3 water births.  This would be the same, right?  We could handle a move during the second trimester.

At 21 weeks, 3 weeks before our move, we took the whole family to the routine anatomy ultrasound.  The older children were excited to see the new baby!  I got comfortable, and the tech began her work.  Her exact words are rather hazy, but she asked us if we knew there were two babies.  TWO BABIES!!! No, we had no idea.  Not a clue.  Doesn’t run in the family.  Looking back, I had extra fatigue and began showing rather quickly, things I attributed to this being my fourth pregnancy.  This was the first and last time we ever saw their heads together on an ultrasound.  Even two days later, Baby A had flipped around.

Things changed after that.  Many, many things.  Most of my careful planning flew out the window.  I could no longer go to my intended birth center, as they don’t deliver twins.  There were no other midwives in Winchester who would take that risk.  I began care in Winchester at an OB office.  Ironically, I’d never seen an OB before, even though this was my 4th pregnancy.  What questions do I ask?  What are normal procedures?  How would I be cared for?  I quickly discovered a clinical, standardized model of care that was drastically different than my previous experiences.  I found that, after 3 birth center births with a midwifery model of care, I could not stand going to an OB.  Not when I knew how personal and intentional prenatal care could be.  I did try.  I had a few prenatal visits, but it didn’t work.  I knew it was not a good situation when I would leave crying, and did not want to go to an appointment without my husband.  I began my search anew.  Originally, I had crossed Brookhaven off my list, since they were so far south.  However, they were the closest place that would accept twins.  I attended a tour and felt like I was coming home, especially after visiting the doctor’s office.  They were not only excited about twins, but eager to work with me.  Since my labor pattern involved extremely short labors, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it the hour(ish) drive to the birth center.  We decided on a home birth.

This pregnancy was fraught with some minor and major issues.  I failed the first gestational diabetes test, necessitating the longer test, which I passed.  All the ultrasounds were showing Baby B head down and Baby A breech, which is not ideal for a vaginal delivery.  I was GBS+.  My pubic symphysis was wreaking havoc on my entire pelvic region.  As the end approached, I was done carrying the twins, both emotionally and physically.  My feet began swelling.  I could not roll over in bed.  I could barely walk up the stairs.  I had heart burn.  I had Braxton-Hicks contractions for the first time.  Sleep was a thing of the past.  We kept trying to get Baby A to flip.  The mental stress due to the uncertainty of childbirth was doing me in.  It was very tough.

Thursday, July 27th.  At 37 weeks & 2 days, I woke up feeling physically out of sorts.  There was no clear labor pattern, but something was happening.  Since I had an appointment later that day, I called to see if I could head down there early and spend the day hanging out at the birth center.  They encouraged me to come whenever I wanted.  The older three were being well taken care of by their Grammy, so John and I left for the day.

11:00 am.  I arrived at the birth center and Misty checked me.  She found that I was 6 cm dilated and very soft.  She could feel the bag of waters, and she could feel a foot.  Of all the presentations for a breech baby, a footling Baby A breech carries the most risk.  We collectively made the decision to continue to attempt to turn Baby A until 3 pm, and then make the call to go to the hospital for a c-section.  The uncertainty, my history of fast labors, and my worn-out body made it clear that the babies needed to come today, one way or another.

3:00 pm.  Baby A was still breech.  The agonizing decision that had been put off for weeks and hours was made.  I would transfer to Winchester Medical Center for a c-section with the hospitalist OB.  My doula, Jessica, would be my support person, so Misty would stay in Harrisonburg as only one other person can be in the OR with me.  Gut-drenching sobs ran through me, as this was not what I wanted.  But I’ve always said that hospitals are there for a reason and it was time for me to put my words into action.

6:30 pm.  After major traffic delays, we met with Jessica to talk about what we wanted, and how we could make the surgery align more closely to our desires for birth.  We checked in, and I got hooked up to two fetal heart monitors and a contraction monitor.  It turns out that I was having contractions every 2 minutes, lasting for approximately 20 seconds each!  To me, they simply felt like the Braxton-Hicks I’d been having for the last month.

The nurse began prepping me for surgery, which couldn’t begin until 11:00 pm as I’d eaten around 5:00 pm.  Dr. Lane came in with an ultrasound machine to verify presentation.  Baby A was indeed still breech with a foot sticking down.  He mentioned, almost in passing, that he had done breech babies before.  I latched onto that though, and asked if we could try Pitocin to see if I could still have the babies vaginally.  He said the risk of cord prolapse was still there, and if that happened, it would necessitate an emergency c-section where I would be knocked out.  That was a risk I was willing to take.

8:00 pm.  Pitocin drip started.  Contractions are still about 2 minutes apart.  I’m still not feeling them very much.  I labor standing next to the hospital bed, talking and joking with John and Jessica.

10:00 pm.  I was now tired of standing on my feet.  I got into the bed with it in a sitting position, and suddenly my water broke.  I sat there for a little bit, then stood up on the other side of the bed so they could remove the wet sheets.  Annnddd then the contractions hit me like a freight train.  I went from feeling pretty good to holding onto my husband for dear life.  They were one after another after another.  It was similar to my previous labors, but ratcheted up a notch.

10:30 pm.  I was back on the bed, laying on my back with my knees up.  My hands had a death grip on the bed rails.  They were my anchor.  John was right there where I could see him, where I could see his encouragement.  Dr. Lane checked me, and told me I could try pushing whenever I wanted to.  I didn’t yet feel there, so a few contractions passed.  Then I felt the need to bear down.

10:42 pm.  A few pushes later, and a round bottom appeared, followed very quickly by the rest of the body.  We had a baby girl!  She lay there for a bit, the cord was cut, and she was passed to me.  She was perfect.  Dr. Lane broke the other water bag and reminded me that I wasn’t done yet.  Contractions came again.  I focused and began pushing.

10:50 pm.  With my daughter on my chest, I focused on bearing down and pushing once more.  This time, the smooth head appeared and my son popped out.  I even got to be the one to cut his cord!  Two babies.  Two tiny, perfect little beings were now out in the world.

 

After all the uncertainty, the worry, and the stress, we had our birth.  It definitely didn’t follow any prescribed pregnancy or birth plan, but every decision along the way was made to fully utilize our resources.  Twins born vaginally, with a breech Baby A, is a medical anomaly in today’s world, but it shows how powerful and capable women can be when properly informed, willing to bend, and trusted to make their own decisions.  I am truly grateful to both Misty & Emily for sticking with me, as well as Dr. Lane for facilitating their birth.

 

Minutes old.  Lily in the back, Isaac in the front.

Seven weeks old.  Isaac on the left, Lily on the right.

October Mom of the Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we decided that our Mom of the Month should have a connection to this month’s important topic. So, our mom(s) of the month are Susan (AKA Nana) Gail Crist, mother to both Misty Ward, Midwife, and Heather Brown, Office Manager at Brookhaven. Cookie (Lily) Fulk, mother of Susan, grandmother of Misty and Heather is our second mom of the month.

Cookie is a two time breast cancer survivor and mother of five.  Although Cookie gave birth to five children she has zero recollection of any of her deliveries.  Back in those days mothers were given a cocktail of narcotics that conveniently caused a temporary amnesia so that they never would know what they had gone through. One of her life regrets is that she has no memories of those first few precious hours bonding with her children. Each arrived at her bedside bathed, bundled, and bottle fed the day after they had been born. Knowing the vast difference in how her great grandchildren came into this world has helped her become a strong advocate for midwifery care. Susan was her second daughter, born January 31, 1958.

Susan(Nana) had four daughters. Her first daughter, Tanya was born premature on June 16th 1974 weighing just over 2lb. Tanya arrived in a sterile military hospital in Germany where her (our) father was stationed in the Army. Susan was only 16 years old. Tanya died on June 22nd 1974, having never felt the warmth of her mother’s touch.  Susan’s second daughter was born still in 1975 at approximately 24 weeks gestation.  On July 23rd, 1976 she finally gave birth to a healthy term daughter, Heather Brown. Misty arrived on December 10th, 1980.  Although we do not have Susan here to share her birth stories we have heard them and her heartbreak surrounding them. She told us of lying on a hard thin metal table, being all alone, and terrified.  Needless to say her memories and views of birth are far from the ecstatic and empowering births we strive to provide to our families at Brookhaven.  So it came as no surprise that she was far from thrilled when her daughters chose natural births with MIDWIVES and to make it worse Misty decided to give birth at her house in a bathtub!  She thought she had raised us better than this!  And to top it off we fed our babies breast milk from our bodies! Something she never even attempted as a mother.

On May 15th 2005 Misty gave birth to her son Jonah at Nana’s home.  Misty made this decision based on the fact that Nana had a huge garden tub with fancy jets and Brookhaven wasn’t open yet.  During the delivery Nana paced nervously and kept herself busy bringing Misty, her birth team and wonderful midwives drinks, chocolate covered strawberries, and wiping off counters that were already clean.  At one point Misty threatened to kick nana out of her own home if she looked at her with that pitiful concerned face again!  Thankfully the birth went fast and smooth and soon Misty was holding her sweet little boy.  Nana was in awe. She sat down holding her grandson swaddled in one of her fluffy towels and only an hour old, in her home, in her bathroom. And she saw the joy, and celebration that she never had before.  From that day forward Susan Gail Crist became an advocate of out of hospital birth with midwives. She told Misty later that after watching the tender care that she had received during the birth made her realize that she herself years before “ was robbed of that experience! All women deserve to have that!”.

Soon after Jonah’s birth Misty began her midwifery apprenticeship.  For five long years she studied, traveled, and attended births in multiple settings including Africa, the DR, and El Paso.  While she attended workshops and trained, Nana took care of the grandkids. She may not have ever been a midwife but she was on call for literally hundreds of births. And even at 3am, she always answered the phone.

In September of 2009 Misty turned in all of her paperwork required to sit for the national midwifery exam being offered in February 2010. Nana was diagnosed with breast cancer two months later. She was a private person and later said she “didn’t want to ruin Christmas” so it was about a month later (January 2010) before she broke the news to family.

The next few months were a whirlwind. Nana had dozens of doctors visits, huge decisions to make regarding options, and a double mastectomy looming ahead. She ended up having her surgery on the opening of the new RMH. There was a thrill about being one of the first surgeries to take place in the new state of the art facility. However the thrill quickly wore off when the date changed last minute and after the surgery was finally complete the brand new system was down and her recover nurse frantically tried to order her the pain meds she so desperately needed.  After many failed attempts she was given the meds despite not having the proper orders.  Thankfully her nurse had more common sense than loyalty to a giant system.

Also during that time Misty was inspired through multiple serendipitous events to open a free standing birth center. A location was found and despite her illness Nana jumped into action supporting the endeavor in multiple ways including emotional support, attending meetings with lawyers and realtors, designers and contractors, and of course with childcare. Despite a request for some financial assistance with the center, Nana declined…or so she said. Shortly afterwards a distant family member approached Misty about investing in her birth center. Terms were settled and Brookhaven began to gestate.

On September 6th 2010 Brookhaven opened its doors to the public and began catching babies in our location and at home. During that first year Heather was much more than the office manager, she was also a birth assistant! At one point she even began her training to become a Certified Professional Midwife as Misty wanted a partner and who else could she trust as much as her sister? However the on call life was not for Heather and with the practice growing she had to dedicate more and more hours to the clerical, and financial side of Brookhaven.  Sometimes if Misty asks really nice Heather will still come in for a birth. : )

From 2010 until her death in 2017, Nana had three surgeries, dozens of rounds of Chemo and radiation, and hundreds of appointments and ER visits. While sitting at RMH getting her Chemo infusions she would often chat up the nurses and other patients about the work her daughters were doing right across the street. She would explain the transition of a newborn in a waterbirth and how gentle it was and how little they cried compared to land born babies. She would tell them about how her grandson was born in her own home. A few times while Misty sat with her during infusions she would have to stop her from telling too many dramatic stories about the overuse of cesareans in typical OB practices as Misty was acutely aware of the setting they were currently in. Nana rarely missed an opportunity to brag about her girls.

Nana also had other interests besides singing the praises of midwifery…

She was the church secretary at First Church of the Brethren in Harrisonburg, for almost 20 years.  She was also a dispatcher for Harrisonburg Police Department and retired in 1996.  She loved being outside in nature and tending to her gardens and pond with her grandchildren and also enjoyed interior design and working on her home which she designed and built in Bridgewater.  She was a hard worker, meticulously clean, and notoriously stubborn.  She was a shy woman that often times stayed home, preferably with the company of her grandchildren, whom she loved to spoil. (much to their mother’s chagrin)

Due to her rapid decline in health in late 2016 once her cancer spread to her bones and her lungs, Nana’s ,mother, grandma Cookie, did what no mother should have to do.  She moved into her daughters home and cared for her every need.  Cookie was with Nana day and night, laughing, crying, cooking, and running errands.  Keeping her company and helping her keep her medications in order for the last six months of her life.

The last three days of Nana’s life she was surrounded by family, in her own home, just like she wanted.  We have always said that we should leave this world the same way we should come into it. At HOME. With FAMILY. With LOVE.

Susan lost her battle with breast cancer on May 11th 2017 10:57pm.

…On May 25th 2017, at her post memorial service dinner the “distant family member” that had loaned Misty the money to open Brookhaven revealed the truth. All of the money that had been loaned to her had come from Nana.  Brookhaven will forever be grateful for the enormous contributions that Nana made towards Better Births…

 

 

Summer Baby List

We usually announce our babies in our monthly newsletters, but this summer has been so hectic for our practice that this time we’re announcing them here. These are the babies delivered by Brookhaven midwives during the months of May, June, and July.

We had a total of twenty-nine babies, eighteen of those were boys and eleven were girls. Below are their dates of birth, names, and weights.


May

Bryce Owen
7 lbs 7 oz
May 3
Rachel & Adam

Finnley Marie
8 lbs 3 oz
May 12
Emily & Patrick

Baby Girl
6 lbs 12 oz
May 15

Henry
May 16
Tiffany & Sam

Baby Boy
9lbs 3oz
May 16

Leia Isabelle
7 lbs 11oz
May 20
Yuliya & Andrey

Nora
7lbs 14oz
May 20
Samantha & Kyle

Blaise Andrew
8 lbs 14oz
May 24
Anna & Greg

Leah Tess
9 lbs 4 oz
May 26
Rachel & Keith

William Michael
5lbs 15oz
May 27
Lydia & Matthew

Ashton Todd
7lbs 2oz
May 28
Rose & Timothy

June

Berkley Adeline
6lbs 4oz
June 8
Olivia & CJ

Faraday Thomas*
8lbs
June 11
Anita & David

Alexander
7lbs 2oz
June 12
Christine & Gary

Corgan Reid
7lbs 9oz
June 13
Katie & Jared

James Neal
7lbs 13oz
June 17
Brooke & James

Benjamin Lincoln
7lbs 6oz
June 24
Nadia & Viktor

Baby Boy
8lbs 7oz
June 25

Asher Diener
6lbs 5oz
June 26
Sarah & Justin

Keturah Ruth
7lbs 7oz
June 27
Evelyn & Maurice

Gabriel Logan
8lbs 7oz
June 28
Brandi & Shelby

Alyssum Beth
6lbs 13oz
June 30
Maribeth & Laron

July

Kyry Benson George
July 3
Antoinette & James

Lylet Ada
7lbs 7oz
July 6
Elizabeth & Taylor

Benjamin David
10lbs
July 11
Jamerrill & Travis

Seraphina Rosabelle
7lbs 8oz
July 25
Danielle & Raymond

Asher Leo
7lbs
July 27
Stephanie & Brian

Lily Marie & Isaac Lance
July 27
Crystal & John

*read the birth story of Farraday here.