May Mom of the Month

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!

March Mom of the Month

Hi! My name is Ashley Cook and I’m married to my best friend, Brandon. We have two children, Annabelle (17 months) and Emmelyn (2 months). I am a stay at home mom/childcare provider and Essential oil lover/educator.

With our first daughter’s birth I was on the path to a routine, run of the mill pregnancy/labor/delivery at the hospital with whatever was recommended. A little ways into my pregnancy I was introduced to the idea of a doula, and Rachel Chavez – AKA world’s best doula – enters the scene. Between Rachel and a few groups I was a part of, I learned more and knew I didn’t want to simply go with the flow. I set my mind on a medication and intervention free delivery at our local hospital. My pregnancy went off without a hitch and labor turned out to be very much so not what I expected. It was long, very long. After 40ish hours I turned to the epidural. 3 hours later I had a misplaced Epidural that could no longer be used (and later caused a 7 day epidural headache). Annabelle was born in the early morning hours as we approached 45 hours of labor.

When we found out we were expecting Emmelyn just 5 months after Annabelle’s birth – I knew I would never have another epidural. I scheduled my first appt with the same care provider I used with Annabelle. My husband and I went to the appt and had our dating ultrasound, but as we left, I knew I didn’t want to proceed with care there. I made an appointment with Brookhaven the following week. At my consultation with Misty and Kai, I felt so relaxed and left knowing I wanted to deliver my baby with their assistance. We planned a birth center birth until 20ish weeks and then switched to a home birth.

My pregnancy was much like my first with the exception of this time I had a baby already who limited my sleep and rest. 😉 Annabelle and I went to my prenatal checkups and enjoyed building the relationship with the Brookhaven staff.

At 38.5 weeks (12/2) I was at home with Annabelle and the 4 children I was watching when I started having contractions. After several hours of them being consistent and throwing up twice, I decided it was time! I called the parents and asked them to come pick up their children and my husband came home from work and set up the birth tub. I let my doula, Rachel, know what was going on and then called Misty. I gently labored thru contractions until about 11pm then decided to sleep for a while if I could. Well, my body wasn’t ready. I slept soundly until 8am and woke up to nothing happening. My husband asked how I felt and I responded, ‘Too good”.

The next 13 days were spent waiting and trying to enjoy every second with Annabelle. My mom arrived from Montana on Thursday 12/15 and I was sure that I would be ready soon. We spent the day Friday together visiting the farmer’s market, went grocery shopping, and enjoying our time together. While at the Dayton Farmer’s Market I had my bloody show. My heart skipped a beat as I excitedly texted my husband and Rachel and let them know that ‘We are having a baby soon – FOR REAL’! We continued our evening and had dinner with friends. I used essential oils and basked in the feeling that the end was near and that our baby would be here soon. As we put my daughter to bed I wondered if tonight would be the last night she was our only child. I went to bed around 10 and slept really well until waking up at 2:30am to very strong contractions. They felt just like my contractions when I was in labor with Annabelle! I labored alone in the bathroom from 2:30 – 3:30 while timing my contractions. I was hesitant to call anyone yet because 1) I didn’t want to cry wolf again 2) I thought I was in for another long labor and didn’t want everyone sitting around watching me. After realizing they weren’t going away and were getting stronger, I texted Rachel and Misty and let them know things were intense and that they needed to make their way to my house.

I woke my husband at 3:30 and told him he needed to start filling the birth tub, and then woke my mom so she could get Annabelle, who had just woken up, back to sleep. From 3:30 – 4:30 I labored in my living room, moving back and forth from leaning on the door frame to leaning on the back of my couch. My Mom and Brandon applied pressure to my lower back during contractions and my mom applied Copiaba essential oil to my back and pelvis. Brandon tried to get me to get in the tub starting about 4:40 but I kept pushing it off because I wanted to wait until Misty got here to check me and see how dilated I was. At about 4:55 I got in and oh the relief. The warm water was such a source of comfort and helped me relax and let the contractions happen without tensing up. I rotated between thinking ‘I can do this, every contraction brings me closer to my baby’ and ‘I can’t do this, there’s no way I can do this for 44 hours (like my first birth)’.

Misty, Savannah, Rachel and Bessie (our photographer) all arrived right about 5:15. They got everything set up and when I was checked about 5:30 Misty shared that I was between 8 & 9cm. I was so overjoyed and cried out – I can do this! I can make it the rest of the way! Rachel and Brandon were holding my hand and applying pressure to my back, my mom was supplying cold compresses for my forehead and neck, and Misty and Savannah quietly prepared for our baby’s arrival. About 5:55 Misty told me that she thought if I got out of the tub and used the restroom that I would be complete and ready to push. I slowly stood up and made my way to the bathroom, but once we got there I couldn’t sit down, I was ready to push. We quickly – well as quickly as I could – got back to the tub and I was ready. Misty and Savannah listened to my baby’s heartbeat and found that it was low while I was standing up leaning on my husband. They asked me get back down in the tub and see if that helped. It did! Emmelyn was happy again and I was ready to push. I started pushing at 6:08 and sweet Emmelyn was born at 6:12am on Saturday, December 17, 2016.

Sitting in the tub as I held Emmelyn for the first time was surreal. I held her and took in all of her tiny features as my wonderful support team surrounded us. I delivered my placenta soon after and got out of the tub and moved to our couch. Laying on my own couch, in my house, was such a wonderful way to recover. Rachel and Misty helped me with food and drinks as I nursed Emmelyn for the first time. As I sat there watching Emmelyn’s newborn exam, I was once again so thankful for the love and care we received thru Brookhaven. We waited for Annabelle to wake up – somehow she slept thru everything – so that we could get a few pictures with her before everyone left. Misty, Savannah, and Rachel helped fix breakfast, cleaned up everything, and left my house having assisted us in having the birth I dreamed of.

Va Midwives Lobby Day 2017

On February 2, 2017, members of the Brookhaven family will be heading to Richmond to join midwives and their supporters from around the state to build positive relationships with our state legislation. We will be meeting at Brookhaven that morning at 7am to caravan and carpool. We will have coffee, printed information and directions for everyone. If you are joining us, please let us know by emailing midwives@ brookhavenbirth.com or calling us at 540-437-9850.

The following is information from the VMA event page on Facebook, which you can also access here.

“This day has been planned by the Virginia Midwives Alliance to build relationships and increase awareness of issues effecting midwifery in Virginia with our legislators. We hope to have not only many midwives but also consumers and supporters of midwifery can attend.

We will meet for a briefing with our Lobbyist at 9:30 and will then spread out to meet our individual legislators. The day will end between 11:30-noon.

All are invited to join us for a potluck lunch and meeting following our time at the general assembly from 12-4pm. The location for lunch is 905 N. Sheppard St, Richmond 23221. It is the office of Three Sisters Midwifery”

We also recommend that anyone attending look at the following information.

Power Point on Successful Lobbying VMA leg day orientation 2017 draft 3

Parking Information VMA – Richmond Downtown Parking

Video on Advocacy

Video on Advocacy

Video on developing relationships with legislators.

 

Thank you! We hope to see you there!

January Mom of the Month

This month we are proud to have Nikki as our mom of the month. She has been a part of the Brookhaven world for quite sometime, providing beautiful documentation of our births through her skill as a photographer. When we know Nikki will be doing the birth photography for a client, we always get excited. You can see her work on our website and frequently on our social media pages. For more information on Nvision Photography, visit her facebook page here.

Hi! I’m Nikki – wife to Chris and proud momma to 3 wild and wonderful boys (Carter, 5, Camden, 3, and Caleb, just shy of 3 months.) When the sun is shining, I’ll likely be sitting around a baseball diamond or on a mountain excursion to catch a sunset or watch deer play. On a cool fall evening, my favorite place is snuggled around a campfire in our backyard or outside our RV at one of our favorite campgrounds. I believe simplicity is key – staying true to our roots, letting go of the unnecessary, and that compassion makes the world go around. I’m an avid Hokie and food/travel enthusiast. As a photographer of life’s great moments, many of my days are spent capturing weddings, families, newborns, and best of all – birth stories. Knowing just how important each of my three birth stories are to me, photographing this once in a lifetime event for families to forever treasure is one of my greatest honors.

This pregnancy was tough. Not tough in the way that I’ve heard from others – relatively all three of my pregnancies have been easy going, but definitely harder than the first two. First, it was very unplanned. The first two were both planned to a T. I knew days before I even should that Carter was on the way and also knew pretty early on with Camden. We had tried for another May/June baby, but when we were unsuccessful we stopped trying since I had a summer packed full of wedding clients that I didn’t want to disappoint. A fall baby definitely isn’t ideal in the photography business, and we figured we’d try again once busy season had passed. Fast-forward to January and the boredom accompanying a blizzard – being snowed in for 5 days (seriously- the tractor even got stuck trying to plow the driveway) was apparently enough to ensure a baby would be on the way in a few months. Only, since we hadn’t planned on this specific timing, we had no idea! It took one glass of wine with dinner that resulted in a hangover the next morning after a week of telling Chris “I don’t feel well. I can’t quite figure out what’s wrong, but I just don’t feel right.” plus a trip to Charlottesville that resulted in intense car sickness and needing to use the restroom 4 times within an hour for it to dawn on us what might be happening. Sure enough, once we got back home from Charlottesville on February 21, 2016, we saw two pink lines. I was stunned. Shocked. Even teary. Chris asked if I was okay and if I was upset. I couldn’t quite form the words for how I was feeling. We so badly wanted a third child, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the timing was all wrong. How could we make ends meet financially if I couldn’t work the busiest season of the year? I knew this would be our last baby and I desperately wanted to soak up every second and have a nice long maternity leave, but how could we make that work? No, I wasn’t upset. It might have looked that way outwardly, but I was simply concerned. It took a few days for the surprise to wear away. And then, as it always does, the excitement began to build. Chris and I reveled in our secret, although we wouldn’t be able to keep it for long. Our kids knew and were so excited! We knew they’d most likely spill the beans. My abdomen quickly swelled and we announced that a third baby would be arriving mid-October.

I was tired. Couldn’t do anything tired. I had many bouts of super low blood pressure, and while I never actually passed out I did lose vision/hearing at times during these spells. Car sickness and food aversions didn’t help with the aforementioned symptoms, but as always, it was worth it. The worst of all was the acid reflux. Never in my life have I had to re-taste every little think I put in my body, but EVERYTHING came back up. Water, ice cream, pasta. You name it. It was totally disgusting and I went through and entire bottle of Tums from Costco in the months leading to the birth. Ick!

I decided to receive care and deliver with the midwives – Misty & Maya – at Brookhaven Birth Center along with their assistants Kai and Savannah. What a lovely experience! I always wanted a home birth but could never quite get Chris on board with that since we live 25 minutes from the hospital, which he found a bit far in the case of an emergency. The birth center is a tenth of a mile from the hospital, so it was a compromise we could agree on. Then we waited…

On October 5th it seemed things were getting started. Around 9:30pm contractions began and while they varied, they were around 10 minutes apart. I was certain this was the beginning. They continued until the 7th with varied length and low intensity but eventually died out. The 9th held the same story – varying length and low intensity, but 10-15 minutes apart and sometimes closer, still never increasing in intensity. They persisted through the night and by morning I had just had enough. If the baby was ready to come I needed to deliver. If the baby wasn’t ready, I needed those dang erratic contractions to stop. The constant being on alert was driving me batty. I had a photo appointment at Brookhaven on October 10th and was determined to stay afterward and deliver. The appointment came and went, and I sadly returned home. That evening I called Chris and asked him to meet the kids and I at the park so we could walk the track and hopefully stimulate more contractions and get things rolling.

On October 10, 2016 at 6:06pm active labor began. Walking the track really seemed to solidify that it was really time, although after 5 days of false labor I wasn’t quite convinced it was the real deal. We left when contractions were around 5 minutes apart, stopped for a quick meal, and then came home. My contractions always seem to be stronger in the car, so while I was in pain, I still thought things would die down once we got home. I immediately got in the shower to calm my muscles and was surprised when things only sped up. At 8:00pm I came to the living room and told Chris I would time contractions for an hour and then we would make a decision. Within minutes I changed my mind and told him it was time to go…now! He went to take a shower himself and I updated our mothers and let the midwives know we were coming. As I was sitting in the living room on the exercise ball timing contractions, I started to worry about making it to the birth center in time. Next, I heard a clipping sound coming from the bathroom. Chris had decided that in that very moment, while I was in labor and worried about getting to the birth center and not having a car baby, was a wonderful time to stop and clip his toenails. I’ll never quite understand what was going through his mind. When he finished he loaded the kids into the van, packed our last minute essentials, and at 8:30pm we were on the way!

I initially told our mothers and birth photographer, Jessica, that we’d get settled into the birth center and then update them to let them know when to come. While riding in the car I decided I didn’t think we had time for that and told them to leave now. When we arrived at the birth center they were holding a monthly meeting that I usually attended – birth circle – and Misty had been there as well. When I told her I was coming, she quickly ran home to change clothes. We arrived at 8:45pm and a friend and birth doula, Rachel, came over from birth circle to fill the birthing tub and helped me into the room while she carried my bag. I shuffled into the room as quickly as possible, changed into my water gown thing and hopped into the tub. Rachel got me some water and talked me through the contractions while Chris helped the kids get settled in. My parents arrived a few minutes later, followed by Jessica. Things quickly got intense but the water felt amazing and provided great pain relief. The soon-to-be big brothers bounced in and out of the room to check on me and anxiously awaited meeting the newest addition. Carter had planned all along to be the first to see and announce the baby’s gender, so he wanted to be certain not to miss his moment. Shortly thereafter, Chris’s parents and my cousins (who should basically be considered my siblings) arrived. Everyone stopped in the room for a short moment to say hello and then left to wait in the waiting area. I felt the urge to push and I felt like I pushed forever, but nothing ever happened. The amniotic sac was still intact and the baby didn’t seem to descend as quickly as I had anticipated. Eventually, Misty mentioned that she suspected I wasn’t actually fully dilated and that if this were the case I would need to stop pushing and wait for that to happen. I felt defeated and didn’t feel as if I could actually stop pushing. Right in that moment I felt a popping sensation and it felt as if the baby’s little body popped into a lower position. I felt the amniotic sac lower in the birth canal, and knew things had moved. At that moment I began pushing and it felt as if the baby was imminently arriving. I asked for someone to fetch the older brothers as I pushed out what I thought was the baby’s head. Minutes later, I realized that I was just pushing out a bubble of amniotic sac. The caul was still intact and it in fact was not the head. I was disappointed but then quickly realized that the head was coming and it was going to be hard work! I pushed with all of my might and it took a few minutes to move the head all the way out. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life! It felt like a boulder was moving through my body. Misty announced the baby was crowning and it was just the motivation I needed as I continued on the journey. Once the head was birthed I collapsed into Chris’s arms and felt so relieved. I took a look around the room and realized that our entire family was in the room. Chris, our kids, our mothers, my female cousins – all people I had expected might witness your birth – in addition to our dads and male cousin – who I did not at all expect. I didn’t have the energy or wherewithal to say anything, but I was surprised to see so many faces watching intently. Of course, with my position in the birthing tub they weren’t able to see what was happening, but they were certainly excited for the baby to arrive earth side.

With the next few contractions, I slowly pushed the shoulders and body out, and was surprised that the rest didn’t slip right out. The baby’s chest was so large that Misty had to physically pull it out. Born at 10:44pm, Misty quickly passed the baby through my legs and I sat down to pull our precious new bundle from the water. It took a few moments for the baby’s lungs to clear and I was concerned. Letting out shallow cries and gurgling sounds, the baby worked to clear its airway. My fingers landed on the baby’s bottom and I suspected the gender to be a boy, but made sure the older brothers were in great position before I opened the legs. Carter was in too much shock and awe to make his announcement, but Camden excitedly said “boy!”. It was a good thing, too, as we had never been able to agree on a name for a girl!

His lungs still sounded wet and he didn’t seem to want to let out a good cry to clear them, so Misty held him at a decline and rubbed his back to help out. Within a few moments he sounded much better and his color was improving. I reveled in holding his sweet little body and noted that he seemed small, although I felt very weak and he felt too heavy for my arms. I adjusted so that my arm would have more support as we snuggled close for his first few minutes in this world. Our sweet Caleb Joel had arrived! After Caleb’s placenta was birthed, he was carried to the bed and Chris helped as his big brothers took turns snipping his umbilical (or “electrical” according to Camden) cord. Chris then snuggled him close as I got cleaned up and examined. Once I was settled in the bed he latched to feed for the first time. After feeding, Caleb was visited by our families as everyone took turns holding and meeting him up close for the first time.

Next was the newborn exam and we all commented that he didn’t look as big as we first suspected. To our surprise, he weighed 9 pounds 5 ounces and 22 inches long – the biggest of the Trent boys! When his head measured 14.5 inches around, I then understood why pushing took so long! He was quite large! We dressed him in his first outfit – a sleeper with stars with a matching hat and bib that read “Love You to the Moon and Back” – fitting as I like to tell my boys that I love them to the moon and back, more than all the stars in the sky.  At 2:45am we headed home to enjoy a night and day of blissful rest.