shay and kevin’s birth story

oh hey guys. i’m still here. slowly (like really, really slowly) getting back in the blogging groove. i wanted to start it out with a bang, and this sweet birth story from shay and kevin will do just that!

shay and kevin took my online essentials for childbirth preparation class (another blog post soon to reveal more about what those classes are all about!) when i first made them public in february. they live in arizona and are friends of friends, who both had crazy schedules. online classes were a perfect solution for them, so we connected and made it happen for them! here is the story of the birth of their little girl, jules.

hey kelly,

she’s here! jules was born 2 weeks ago weighing 9lbs 1oz and 21 in long. i was 41 weeks and 2 days when I had her. i never would have imagined i had that big of a baby inside me, but i guess knowing that kevin was 10lbs 3oz when he was born should have been a warning, right? !!! i wanted to thank you so much for the virtual classes we took, kevin felt super prepared with message techniques and positioning ideas to help me get comfortable, and i just focused on breathing the entire time. you were right though, it WAS my job to just breathe. when i focused on that, my surges weren’t insane. when i wasn’t focusing for whatever reason, i could feel it. that was motivation enough to start going inward and just realizing my one job was to breathe for me and for jules.

the story:

i woke up around 3am with a dull lower back ache and needed to use the bathroom. i had been having surges on and off all day prior, and i really did feel like tonight would be the night. but then i fell asleep and assumed it would be another day. as i was walking to the toilet my water started leaking (i thought i was peeing myself like you mentioned, but a gush happened soon after!). i was so excited labor was starting, and i got kevin up. he told me to go back to sleep, or at least get rest. so i put on a movie and “rested”- even though i was so excited. my surges weren’t intense yet, but i did have to breathe through them. around 7am kevin got up and made us breakfast. while he was cooking the eggs i had one HUGE surge that basically brought me to my knees. i had been surging consistently ever 5 minutes or so since 5am, but i was laboring just fine alone before he woke up. when this surge hit at around 7:45am i had been using him to help give me some hip relief and lower back relief too with some of those pressure skills you taught us. this one surge was so intense and out of the blue, and i started shaking a bit. i immediately thought, not only is this go time, it is GO time.

kevin grabbed our stuff, including our breakfast that he put in tupperware quickly, and we headed to the birth center. we live about 30 minutes from there with no traffic, thankfully it was a weekend morning so we didn’t have to deal with that. i began feeling like i needed to sway more deeply and moan more manly-like while we were in the car, which was hard to do swaying wise, but i was in the backseat grinding my hips around trying to find comfort amidst the bumps on the road. kevin was probably driving about 100mph on the way there. i had planned music for the car but we ended up listening to some 80s at 8 radio thing, which, by the way, it was kind of awesome to labor to “i’ll tumble for ya” : at the very least it made me laugh in the middle of my now super intense surges.  when i breathed i felt powerful over the surges, when i got caught up in the intensity, it felt like they owned me. it was crazy. i just kept telling myself to focus on breathing, that i could do anything for a minute, that i was going to get in the tub soon. i gave myself a pep talk as kevin said a few encouraging things, but i honestly don’t remember what those were. thanks though, kev!

we showed up to the birth center and it took me about 6 surges to get from the car to the room. slowly but surely. they checked my cervix when we got there. 9cms. WHAT?! i hadn’t been laboring that long, it was intense but i was managing it well enough, and i hadn’t gotten to the part where i was thinking “i can’t do this anymore!” i was so encouraged by this news i started laughing. yup, laughing at 9cms. who would have ever imagined me, who cries when i hit my funny bone, would have laughed during labor?

well, it wasn’t all fun and games. as i progressed i did feel a bit like “i can’t do this anymore” as i was at 9cms for 3 hours. let me tell you though, getting in the water was a godsend. i jumped (well, i didn’t jump, obviously) into the tub soon after we arrived and it was exactly like you had said- took the edge off and helped me find peace in the waiting. after those 3 hours of sitting in the tub and being in different positions in there, i felt something new. uggghhhh. i was bearing down. i couldn’t stop it. uggghhhhh. it felt good but intense but hard but wonderful all wrapped into one.

midwives came back into the bathroom to check what was happening after kevin yelled “i think shay is going to have this baby in here with no one to catch it. and i think i’ll drop it!!!” they encouraged me to put my hands between my legs. part of her head. oh dear Lord, relief yet intensity yet more relief. almost there. still bearing down and i couldn’t help it. my body just did it.

3 more of those and out she came! the moments when they pulled her up from the water and onto my chest went in slow motion. i think i was the highest i’ve ever been in my whole life (well, i’ve never been high on drugs, but i can imagine the birth high is a million times more addicting than any other drug). her placenta was stubborn and stayed in a long time, i eventually had to get out of the tub and birth it, which wasn’t hard i guess i just needed a new position.

your classes and encouragement were a huge part of our birth story, and will forever be a part of our family’s story. when i read in your “about me” that you believed in the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family i didn’t quite get it. but now i do. and i agree, it is powerful. thank you for preparing us well and giving us the tools and encouragement we needed to trust the process and alleviate my anxieties. i can imagine her birth would have looked a LOT different if i didn’t prepare in this way. thank you forever and ever.

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congratulations shay and kevin! such a beautiful story and a total encouragement to my soul to hear that you now see the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family. just so inspiring! thank you for your kind words about your experience with the online classes as well, great to have “my baby” be well received!

and i couldn’t agree more. that birth high. something else.

if you or anyone you know is interested in online natural childbirth preparation classes, or group classes in San Diego, please feel free to check out my website for this info, along with doula support and placenta encapsulation information, and a small online shop for all kinds of birth/postpartum related goodies!

www.beautifulonebirthservices.com

the birth of selah

okay, so here we go. i often share my students’ stories here, and i thought it was only appropriate to share selah’s story as well. it is one that rocked my heart in the best way possible, a story that lights my husband’s heart on fire..for birth, for me, for his children. it is one that really served to heal some previous hurts, and give me encouragement for the road ahead.

remember when i went on and on about my love for my chiropractors? well, on thursday september 12 i went in for one last adjustment, as i felt baby’s back was on my right side and i really wanted him/her to flip over into a more straightforward LOA position (oh the things birthy people know…). i left my adjustment feeling great and met my family for lunch. i felt baby shift over to LOA soon after lunch while i was walking to my car…little victories!! keaton went over to my mother in laws, as he does on thursday afternoons, and i came home. i napped and cleaned like a crazy person when i woke up. around 5ish i started feeling a little different- a little nauseous (i had been dealing with some third trimester nausea previously so assumed it was just that), and just a little off. i even texted my doula to tell her that i was hoping things would start to happen, only to later text her around 8:30ish that it was wishful thinking.  trevor got home from work late due to a work dinner, and keaton was dropped back off at our house around 8:30. he went right to sleep and i kissed him before i left his room…i kind of felt emotional leaving, as if i knew it would be the last time i would kiss him as my only child.

trevor turned on duck dynasty and i headed to lay down in bed and watch a movie on the ipad. we both needed to just zone out- him after a LONG week at work, and me because, well, i knew something was coming i guess. before i got into bed i brushed my hair (never happens! ha!), washed my face and put on a little makeup. what?! i got into the outfit i wanted to wear while laboring. i told myself i was jinxing myself, but i could not NOT do it.

around 9:45 i felt a pretty intense surge that wrapped around from my lower belly into my lower back. it wasn’t painful or anything, just really tight- even moreso than the other warm ups I’d been having. told myself not think about it and started watching my movie. about 5 minutes later i got up (to clean a little bit more in our closet, i couldn’t help myself!), and i felt a warm trickle down my leg. hmmm. peeing myself. great! i walked to the bathroom and bam. gush. definitely not peeing myself! this was exactly how keaton’s labor began, i was comforted by that in many ways. i knew it was time now finally, one way or another, we were gonna meet this babe. after LOTS of warming up in previous weeks, it was game time at 40w+4d (there was a huge part of me that knew i wanted my water to release as my first sign of labor, as i did with keaton, because i waited so long for keaton that i was nervous all of this warming up was going to mess with my head too much). trevor was stoked, i was stoked. we turned on some good tunes and just started talking. about the baby, about keaton, about life. i paused every like 5-8 mins or so and breathed through my surges, but they were honestly easy at that point. really tight, but nothing i couldn’t just focus on and breathe through.

i let my doula, midwives, and photographer know that my water had broken but that there was no rush for anything at that point- labor was in the early stages and was easy at this point…it would be a long night…right?! trevor tried to sleep (it was going to be a long night…right?!) and i just got comfy on my ball and got lost in the music that was playing. about an hour and a half later, my surges became more intense. still breathable and manageable, but i noticed a shift in how i was experiencing them…how i needed trevor to push on my back to alleviate the pressure. how i needed to make some deep noises to work through them. i was doing it and handling it just fine, but it was new. i let my doula know, and apparently she knew more than i did- we told her it would be too early to come to us, but she listened to me and read between the lines…she was going to come by and say hi. she told us to call the midwives to tell them the same. the midwives said they were on their way too…i almost felt bad, since honestly i felt like i was so early in labor that they would be missing out on a night of sleep by coming to me. i labored on the birth ball, leaning over our bathroom sink, and leaning over our dining room table (which happens to be outside on our covered patio…it was a beautiful night and laboring outside felt great).

funny being on this end of a birthing mama instead of the doula end.

everyone showed up around midnight, and we decided to call our photographer a bit after that because i was finally at the point where i felt like i was in “active labor.” my doula has the sweetest voice and i just focused on her telling me to keep  breathing, to let the last one go. she was exactly what i needed. trevor was the muscle of the operation- pushing on my back and eventually into my hips for each surge while i swayed back and forth, gently moaning with each tightening. jenna was the sweet voice i needed at the moment i needed it. it was exactly what i wanted it to be.

i had some music going in the background and had some cards with scripture written on them out for me to read. amazing how many worship songs and how much of scripture talks about surrender. these were the good words that i needed to keep surrendering to God, to the process…to stay calm, to trust.

the midwives wanted to check me around 12:35ish, just to see what kind of progress i was making. i really REALLY didn’t want to lay down on my back, but made it to my side on our bed and felt a bit better. i remembered then how much i really don’t like those checks. no fun! but, good news. i was 8cm and totally soft. what?! labor only really just began?! it wasn’t THAT hard, certainly not transition kind of work quite yet. 8cm. let’s fill the birth tub up with water! yes, perfect idea. my tub was pretty deep (too deep!), and would take a while to fill up, but we started filling it then and i was encouraged to go sit on the toilet or labor in the shower till it would be ready. i thought in my head- i bet i have about an hour more of labor before meeting our baby. totally could handle that, then totally didn’t expect what came next! literally minutes after being checked and being 8cm, i needed to push. i hadn’t made it to the toilet (thank goodness!) and knew, with that instinct, there was no way i was going to make it in the tub. i grabbed onto my doula and bore down with my breath. one good moaning downwards and i felt that all familiar burning/opening. wait, baby?! already?! no no, that’s crazy talk. i remember thinking, perhaps even saying, “you guys don’t understand!” … i felt like they didn’t understand what i was feeling (they did), or that the baby was coming (they did).

my body took over and i went along for the ride. i instinctually climbed onto my bed on hands and knees. welp, there’s part of baby’s head! that natural expulsive reflex came and went, giving me breathers in between. baby popped back in once i got on my hands and knees and i made my way down to laying down on my side on our bed and that little rotation was exactly what baby needed. baby was popping right out, even with a hand up near his/her chin. i was so hot. so so hot. i was wearing a headband (that i thought would look SO cute. haha!), and i threw that off and my doula got me a cold washcloth. ohhh the sweetest of all sweet reliefs.  i kept trying to close my legs, even though i knew i wanted to be as open as possible…shout out to the midwives/their apprentice for dealing with my leg! haha! my breathing got off and i kind of “lost it” slightly at this point- but got it right back when i was reminded of the fact that i was safe, that baby was here, that i just needed to breath. i caught my breath again and had such a sweet moment of trust. i closed my eyes for one final encouragement for baby to come out, only to realize that baby was just about to. trevor kept telling me “open your eyes, you need to see this!!,” our eyes met and his face was beaming. my midwife encouraged me to bring my hands down to lift up my baby onto my chest. what a feeling- that little slippery, tiny, warm body making its way out of my body and into the world and into mommy’s hands. unparalleled honestly. i tried to bring baby up to my chest and was met with a very short cord.

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i laid baby on my belly and just stared. in awe. we had a baby. already. i was just barely laboring?! and baby is here now?! what?! on our bed?! in our house?! while keaton sleeps?! it all started to settle in.

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i looked at baby’s sweet face and my GOODNESS was it keaton’s twin (just fewer chins!!). baby didn’t even cry. not for quite a while. baby just breathed slowly, the thick umbilical cord still pulsing and helping, and baby just looked into my eyes and looked around. so mellow, so chill. taking it all in. our eyes caught each others’ for about 15 seconds straight, and as i talked to baby, her (we didn’t know she was a she yet!) eyes got wider and breathing got more rhythmic. this was the type of birth i dreamed of  and prayed for for my baby. gentle, loving, dimly lit, warm, hands off, and surrounded by safety. 12:47am, september 13. about 2 hours and 45 mins after labor began. only about an hour after feeling like i was actually truly really actively laboring.

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i labored so quickly and unexpectedly that our photographer (Labor of Love Photography. Amazing captures, right?!) came literally as baby was being born. for a moment i felt bad about not calling her earlier, but then it was exactly what it was meant to be- and i never ever would have guess in a thousand years that i would have gone that fast, or been that far along, so there was no reason to call earlier. but praise God she made it then, as she captured some of the sweetest moments of our entire life- meeting our little one.

we spent time oohing and aahing over baby, talking about how quickly that went, and just cuddling with our babe. we realized about 10 minutes after the birth that we had no idea if we had a girl or boy! what?! trevor lifted up the blanket we had over her and stared for a little bit. “it’s a boy!!” oh wow, a brother for keaton! how exciting! and then cue some silence from the midwives…ummm…you might want to look a little more closely. trevor lifted up the blanket again. “what? i can’t really tell!” haha. it was dark, things are swollen, the cord was still attached…eventually he put it all together. a girl! a GIRL!! keaton knew from the moment we told him he was going to be a big brother that he was going to have a little sister. he just knew.

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i tore a bit and had to be stitched up after my placenta finally decided to come on out…not my favorite thing in the world. honestly even after i just birthed a big baby, the stitching was…bleah. selah’s hand was up near her chin and i think that’s what did it, that and the fact that she just powered her way outta there! but there wasn’t that much to be mended and it was over quickly and it healed really easily, i was really not uncomfortable at all afterwards, and no swelling at all. score.

i got up to pee and was encouraged that all was well. haha.

our midwives and doula cleaned up, made me some food (almond butter on toast never tasted so good!!), and were just such an encouragement. as they began to pack up i realized something…i just had a baby. on our bed. and now i get to sleep in that bed. with that baby. with my husband. and be comfortable. it was a glorious thought. it was a glorious reality.

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as everyone started to leave a couple hours after the birth, our sweet doula stayed to pray with us. we thanked God for His provision, for His goodness, for our sweet daughter. it was one of my favorite moments to thank God for His willingness to provide this desire of our hearts to not only have a home birth but have a healthy, happy little one.

we got to sleep in our beds with our little girl, working on breastfeeding again (so different since i was so used to nursing a toddler last time i did it!!). trevor and selah slept, but i was on a high. the oxytocin flowing in that room was unparalleled, and i was just riding along with it. i went in and out of sleeping a little bit that first night, but didn’t really get to sleep till the following night. birth high, i tell ya.

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keaton came into our room the next morning as he always does and was met with his baby sister. what a moment! he climbed into bed with us and was amazed at all of baby’s little features. “baby has hands!! and eyes!! look at baby’s ears!! and nose!! wowwww!!”

trevor made us all breakfast, and we just hung out until we were ready to tell our family later in the day that we were ready for them. it was exactly what we wanted.

this story of selah’s quick entrance into our lives is one that we treasure greatly. it not only served to remind me of how inviting God purposefully into our experiences is such a sacred thing, but it reminded me of the sanctity of life and how precious the first moments of a new life truly are- to that baby, and to that entire family. it reminded me of why i do the work i do. it reminded me of why i have such a heart for women all over the world.

thanks for reading our selah girl’s story!

for more info in our super fabulous birth team:

doula: Jenna Anderson

 midwives: San Diego Midwife

photographer: Labor of Love Birth Photography

…the reveal…

hello, my friends!

my last update was around 38 weeks, and this update is comin’ atcha 11 days postpartum. yes, that is right…i went and had me a baby! my birth story will be coming soon, but suffice to say it was an incredible, intense, calm, beautiful entrance into the world for our baby. and in the comfort of our own home, to boot.

the details:

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selah. {“say-lah”}

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2 hours and 45 minutes of labor, born at 12:47am on our bed (too fast to fill the tub up).

1176108_636719039701546_602195496_na beautiful baby girl and a beaming older brother (who now, at 11 days postpartum, is realizing this new baby is actually staying. and he’s not 100% sure how he feels about it)

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1240602_641654679188609_341738394_nphotography by Labor of Love Photography and Petula Pea.

lots of love from our family of four,

kelly <3

38+ weeks

hey friends,

so i haven’t been updating much, and definitely haven’t been using this blog as much of a personal blog, in quite a while. but i wanted to fill y’all in on the goings on in the pappas household.

i’m currently 38 weeks and a few days. given that keaton was a 41w+5d babe, i keep telling myself to just assume 42 weeks. it was easy with keaton to just keep going and not think much about it, but this time around it feels different. literally. LOTS of practice/warming up happening, and lots of those lovely “zingers” as i call them. i know my body and baby are preparing…and for that, i am grateful.

we got some maternity shots done recently, too! this amazing and talented photographer (petula pea photography) was actually a doula client of mine. she is just the absolute sweetest woman you will ever meet, and is beyond talented. as you can tell by these sneak peaks:

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are you swooning yet? dead from gorgeousness? not our own of course, but just the FEEL and the LOOK of these photos? we wandered into a totally random field with dead grass and weeds and such and ta-da! talk about her having a vision…! again, her link is Petula Pea Photography, and if you are in San Diego- she does amazing work. Check out her portfolio! her weddings are so insanely gorgeous, too!!

we are currently feeling really grateful we are waiting to find out if this sweet pea is a boy or a girl. i love the build up of not knowing, and i love that the moment of meeting this little goose will be that much more of an “oh my GOODNESS!” moment. if that’s even possible?!

i keep thinking about how keaton is going to be a big brother, and that we will be parents to two little peas. i really don’t have those feelings of “ohhh, i feel sad that it won’t just be keaton any more” or anything like that…i feel like we have given him our absolute all during this period of his life that it has been just him, but that we have also really striven already thus far to show him that life isn’t all about him no matter what. so add in a sibling, move him to a remote nation for missions work, or put him on a playground with other kids…we want him to show us, as he says, “my kind, sweet, gentle heart.” goodness do we pray he always keeps that kind, sweet, gentle heart (of course there are days where it seems like it has left his little body forever! only to return a bit later in the form of cuddles and kisses and genuine care).  our prayer is that this new little life only serves to strengthen keaton’s heart in his awareness of our love for him, his abilities to be kind and gentle and encouraging and selfless, and to point him towards God’s everlasting love. what more could we want?!

i have a little email address that i set up for keaton when he was maybe 4-5 months old and have been periodically writing emails and sending photos or videos. i am writing him an email in a bit about how these are the last days of “just us” … and i am cherishing the waiting game (still very very early in the waiting game!) as of now, as it keeps me in this beautiful precipice of known and unknown.

i already know that the unknown is the most beautiful thing we have ever experienced, so this … this is exactly where we are supposed to be.

<3

 

adventures in chiropractic care

so, i have always told my moms in class that chiropractic care is really helpful for aches and pains…and for staying aligned for birth. i’d share the information like in the picture below and we’d all go “ohhh wow!” and we would chat about it, i would throw out a couple referrals of local chiropractors who are trained in the webster technique, and we’d move on.

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and then i got pregnant with the goose. and that all changed.

during my pregnancy with keaton i felt great the WHOLE time. literally, 41 weeks pregnant thinking: wow, i feel good! people would ask me how bad it was, and i am sure they hated me because my response was always “i love it! i love being pregnant!”

10 weeks into my pregnancy with this goose though…ohhh my hips! my lower back! ache ache ache! i was not used to that at all, and was not up for 10 months of uncomfortableness and clinging with all of my might to every body pillow and regular pillow we had laying around.

so, i took my own advice. called the chiropractor i always recommended. and then my life changed. well, maybe that’s a little dramatic. but not by much.

after one visit i was feeling better. after two visits my back discomfort was significantly decreased, barely noticeable. as i kept coming in, i could see how much more comfortable my hips were. any specific aches and pains i went in with basically disappeared after each session, and each session i had fewer aches and pains to speak of. my husband noticed a difference. i noticed a difference. my sleep noticed a big difference. and you know what? even keaton noticed a difference.

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he actually is pretty certain now he wants to be a chiropractor when he grows up. “they tickle my back and play with my legs and make me feel good! i grow bigger!” he looks forward to every appointment and can’t wait to show dr’s ian and lindsay his new toy, or snack, or what underwear he decided to wear (because yeah, i have a big boy now!).

the relational aspect of my care may be rare, as i absolutely adore my chiropractor (and get to walk through pregnancy alongside her, as she is pregnant with her first and is just a week behind me!), but for a trained, skilled chiropractor: the physical results can be the same! chiropractic care saved my sanity and my body’s functionality this pregnancy and i can’t stop singing its praises. i have sent a TON of students and doula clients for chiropractic care (for them during pregnancy or even for their newborns or their postpartum bodies), with a sense of zeal that i didn’t have before when i would discuss it with mamas. and literally, if you were to walk into their office you most likely would see someone i know through something birth related, and my name has been up on their referral board for a while now :) can’t stop me!

for moms interested in natural birth, this is a huge asset (not just for moms who desire a natural birth, but who in the world wouldn’t desire a more comfortable experience no matter what the desires for your specific birth are?!). for moms who are uncomfortable for one reason or another during pregnancy or postpartum, this is a huge asset. for new little babes who have just traveled a pretty awesome yet crazy journey, this is a huge asset.

potential benefits for you pregnant mamas:

“According to recent studies, Chiropractic care may result in easier pregnancy including increased comfort during the third trimester and delivery, and reduced need for pain medications.  Other benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include…

  • A more comfortable pregnancy and delivery.
  • A 50% reduced need for analgesics (pain medication).
  • A 24% – 39% faster than average labor time.
  • 84% of women report relief of back pain during pregnancy.
  • Significantly less likelihood of back labor (contractions and sharp pain felt in the lower back during labor).
  • Significantly reduced utilization of epidurals, forceps, vacuum extraction, episiotomies, and Cesarean sections.
  • Reduced likelihood of postpartum depression.

For more information on these research findings, please visit the official website of the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association.” {via HealthHappyWell.Com}

BAM! who wouldn’t want that?!

for more information on my lovely and skilled chiropractor, her name is Dr Lindsay Hoffman at Chiropractic Health and Happiness in Encinitas. i also highly recommend Dr. Melissa Tosczak at Touch of Health Chiropractic in Vista.
Along with the fabulous folks at Indigo Dragon Center.

how a doula picked her doula

flash back a few years ago. i was told my someone i put trust in in terms of my pregnancy care to NOT hire a doula, that i wouldn’t need one. i would know what i needed instinctually. i listened. and i was sorry i did in the end. not because keaton’s birth wasn’t wonderful and beautiful, but because i missed out on one of the most amazing relationships a couple can have with another person. trevor missed out on having someone comfort him and tell him all was normal, that it was part of the process…and simply to be able to close his eyes and not feel “on” the entire time (yes, the “entire time” was not that long, but it was overnight…). it was one of a handful of things that i thought to myself after keaton’s birth, “next time…” and a few times “i should have known better!!”

flash forward to the present. here we are at that “next time” and before i even got pregnant i actually already really KNEW who i wanted to be present at my birth. she actually knew i was pregnant before trevor did! true, i really couldn’t go wrong with almost any of the wonderful women i know who have dedicated their lives to similar passions as mine (and we have such an amazing doula community here in san diego. honestly. so blessed), but, in my heart, i knew who i wanted by our sides. i knew who i would feel most comfortable with. i knew who trevor would find solace in. i just…knew. my friends had wonderful experiences with her, my students had wonderful experiences with her. i always had lovely conversations with her, our friendship was growing, and i knew that her heart was to glorify God in her work…bingo. jackpot. answered prayer.

but, with that being said, i also know many other moms who don’t have the luxury of knowing so intimately so many doulas and are like “HOW do i find one i mesh with?!”  Here is what I often tell moms:

Ask around. If in a childbirth prep class, ask for referrals. Ask your friends about their experiences. Ask your care provider for referrals. Talk about it with girlfriends. Talk about it at independent baby stores. Post a question on Facebook. Google it. Whatever you need to do. Just involve yourself in conversation, you’ll be surprised at the patterns that show up! i have given referrals to so many mamas and they were really encouraged by how many “overlaps” they had either in their own research or in suggestions from friends, etc.

Interview, I say, at least 3 doulas. Unless you hear choirs of angels in the background and see fireworks when interviewing with #1 or #2, just keep chugging. It can be overwhelming to interview too many women- time consuming and thought consuming! But you do want to feel confident in your decision, as this is a pretty important event in your life- and this person WILL be seeing you in a state of vulnerability and simultaneous power all at one time. and oh yeah, she’ll probably see you naked. but don’t worry, even my most modest of moms at the end usually could care less and are asking their clothes be taken away from them!

{Before you meet, make sure you have asked them about fees, etc so that you are both aware of what that expectation is. If finances are an issue, don’t be nervous to broach the subject. I see doulas as being an incredible value and investment and well worth the fee, but you also don’t want to get in over your head financially. Ask about payment plans, deposits, etc. I know money can be uncomfortable to talk about, but it’s part of the process for these invaluable services.}

Ask them questions. Birth questions. What is your philosophy on birth? How do you involve partner in the birth? When do you normally join us/What are the logistics of that? Besides the actual birth, what else is involved in your services? If you are taking/drawn towards a specific type of labor prep method or course, ask them about their experiences with it. Do you work with a backup? Logistics.

Ask them questions. Real questions. How did you get into this line of work? What do you love most about what you do? Get to know them personally. If spirituality is important to you and something you are desiring for closeness from a doula, that is something certainly to discuss now more deeply, but a great thing to discuss before you even meet in person if that will be a game changer for you.

After chatting for a while and saying your goodbyes, assess how the two of you feel (if you are both at the interview together). Do you feel comfortable around her? Did she seem warm, knowledgeable, encouraging of your specific desire for labor? Do you feel like she will SUPPORT you and your partner in your birth, no matter what your birth looks like or what decisions are made? Is this someone you want to share your journey with? Are you excited about your birth journey now after speaking with her?

I know not EVERYTHING is about feel, but sometimes…it really is all about feel.

I know personally I have been on interviews with moms with whom I can tell almost immediately that they won’t be hiring me. They look at me and, while we get along fabulously, they see a friend. A sister. And their desire was a motherly figure. And others desire more of a friend/sister and I fit that bill really well! Think about your own relationships with people in your lives, think about what will speak to your heart most during a vulnerable time.

Certification status, number of births, etc wasn’t on my own radar for a birth doula- although I will say the doula I selected is certified and has a lovely number of births under her belt…that was not the most important piece of the puzzle to me. That may be for you though, and that’s something to ask her about if you desire to. If she is certified: with whom? What does that really mean? If she isn’t: Why not? Not being certified or not having a hefty number of births under your belt is not a red flag in terms of a person’s ability and fit to be your doula, but if it is something that might bother you- then you need to be aware of it.

I personally went through many questions in a similar way with my husband. A huge part of what we wanted from our own doula was someone who will be able to pray with us and over us throughout my pregnancy and throughout the labor/birth. That would be a game changer for us personally in a doula- we knew it wasn’t a game changer in our care providers, but knew the doula connection was on a different level for us. I also wanted someone who could help me not focus so much on what i KNOW in my head about birth, but about what i can experience in my heart. Being a birth professional who is about to give birth can have its perks, but it can also have its drawbacks…there is a LOT of head knowledge that is apparent now, but might not be so clear during the actual labor. It is easy to get caught in one’s head and forget about that tiiiiiny thing called surrendering. Letting go of all that “stuff” and letting God be in control is a huge vision for this birth…and our doula is someone who can help us on that road.  With that being said, just like how a lot of my clients or students aren’t Christian, a lot of my doulas’ clients aren’t Christian either. Just a friendly clarification :)

Anyway, if you would like more info on the doula that Trevor and I prayerfully selected…check out Jenna Anderson, CD (DONA)…here…and here.

And, if you are in the area, feel free to let me know if you’d like more recommendations and referrals. I love to give them out to inquiring mamas!

carly’s birth story

it’s been a while since i rocked a birth story on the blog, and i thought now was a lovely time to grace y’all’s hearts with a sweet story of how a little lady was welcomed into the world in a calm, confident, and really beautiful way. carly and her husband joe took my classes in the spring, finishing the class ON carly’s guess date, and their little lady annikah decided it was time to say hello to the world the following morning! enjoy!

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kelly!! i was already planning to write to you today to thank you for an incredible class and a really beautiful bonding time between my husband and i over the last 5 weeks. we especially loved the labor run through last night…and i say “especially” because…well…we actually put that into use later last night night into the early morning hours today, welcoming our daughter annikah naturally into the world this morning at 9:07am!

as a quick overview, once we got home from class we were in such a good mood. joe kept telling my baby “come out soon, i don’t want to forget what to do!”

i took a shower and got settled in to watch my tivo’d “conan” and i started feeling some light surging. i assumed it was just some warm ups and went about my giggling and ice cream eating. the “warm ups” were coming every 5 minutes or so once i realized they were still happening, but they were super mild in sensation so, again, on with the giggling and tivo watching. about an hour later when we were on our second episode, conan was doing a skit about basketball player wives (it was so stupid but so funny. in case you can’t guess, i have a celebrity crush on him!) and i was cracking up. and then i felt all warm and watery. “oh great, carly, you peed yourself” i thought. i stood up, joe and i now cracking up that i had peed myself, and a larger gush came out from underneath my nightgown. we both kind of stopped laughing, looked at one another, and joe said “oh, it’s on!” we both knew it was my water that had broken, and my surges IMMEDIATELY felt more intense and were making my back feel achey. good thing we we went through that counter pressure just a couple hours before, because joe was on counter pressure duty for the night/into the morning on my lower back. it made it all so much more manageable!

with every surge my back ached. it wasn’t like a terrible pain, it was just as if i didn’t feel anything happening in my uterus, only tightness and pressure in my low back that went away when i wasn’t in a surge. honestly, the first about 6 hours of my 9 hour labor were really not that bad. every 3-4 minutes i’d have some back achey annoyingness that i really had to focus to get through, and then we had time in between to sway, cuddle, choose a new position, go to the bathroom, etc. it really was such a blessing to have just had that run through in class, it was all so fresh and i felt so confident.

this went on for hours, and eventually i hit a point where i looked at joe, who was being so awesome trying to be so present and calm and loving, and said “get me to the hospital now. i literally feel like my face is on fire, i keep pooping. honestly. this seriously sucks. and i feel like such a mess.” joe was a little surprised since i had been relatively quiet so far in my labor, and those low noises we talked about/practiced in class started coming out. apparently joe texted his brother at this point “it REALLY is on now.” we both knew i was transitioning and i was just really uncomfortable. i wanted something new. i wanted this baby out. again, it wasn’t like it was an out of control pain or anything, just so ridiculously exhausting to focus for that long. you know what i mean?

we got to the hospital and i was 8cm. victory! check in was really easy, much easier than i thought, and the nurse who we got assigned was really hands off and very sweet. she got us a few wet wash cloths for my forehead and neck. sweet woman. i labored for 2 more hours before i really felt any kind of actual urge to push, even though i was 10cm after the first hour there. my doctor and nurses told me that they’d wait a while before “coaching” me to push in case i never felt the urge. that urge finally came though. and it was exactly like you described. i couldn’t resist it, so i just gave into it. i breathed and made crazy manly noises like i never had before, and bore down with everything i had, exactly what my body was telling me to do. the nurses said they were surprised that she was moving down as well as she was given the fact that i was still technically breathing while pushing. thinking back on it i thought that was really cool.

i hate to be “that girl” but the actual giving birth part felt kind of good. not like i want to do it all the time kind of good, but such a welcome relief from my back aches and intensity and just not knowing what my cervix was doing. i felt more in control. and i felt my baby’s head. i was on my side when pushing and it seemed like a pretty good position for me. i imagined being squatting or something, but after being up all night i really just wanted to lay down.

crowning was…not as good of a feeling. but it didn’t last for long. she was positioned normally for birth (i thought maybe she was sunny side up from all the back discomfort?), and once her head really popped out, her shoulders and body just sort of slid out. i tore a bit but nothing major.  my placenta took a while to detach and they gave me a shot of pitocin after birth to help with all that, which i wasn’t a huge fan of but i wasn’t super opposed to either, especially in that moment when i kind of didn’t care about anything else but being with annikah and joe.

i got to be with my baby for about 2 hours before i realized they hadn’t weighed her or anything yet. i loved the feeling of her squirming around on my chest, her lusty cries, and her little wide open eyes that were staring intently into mine as if to say “oh, there you are! that’s what you look like!” i was on a high for quite some time. so was joe. i actually think i still am. i meant to write you like 5 sentences and look where we are. talk about a man who was proud of his wife, joe has been loving on me so hard today, and if you aren’t friends with him on facebook you should be, his status updates about the labor are hilarious. i’m so proud of him, too. he handled everything so well and with such patience and (even if it was a front) confidence.

thank you a million times over for the class. without it i seriously doubt we would have welcome annikah into our lives in the way we did. it was life changing. i can see why you do what you do. it really does change you, and i can feel that already. i love her. i love joe. we love you!

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carly and joe!! congratulations on the birth of your sweet little annikah! i’m so thankful that our time together was fruitful and that you took a lot of great tools with you into the birth. i CAN’T BELIEVE you went into labor right after class, what perfect timing! i so appreciate you sharing your story with me and with all of us. it was beautiful to read, and i swear i could sense the oxytocin just oozing out of your writing!! lots of love! talk soon!

if you are interested in learning more about preparing for an awesome birthing experience, please contact me on my business site: Beautiful One Birth Services!