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“Wednesday April 17, 2019 at 10:40 am I lost my mucus plug. I was having mild and irregular contractions. Around 2:30pm I was still having irregular contractions but they were getting stronger so we decided to go for a brisk walk to try and get things rolling. The walk helped but as soon as I would sit down the contractions would stop. So I decided to take a nap. About 4pm my contractions woke me up they were strong but still very irregular. At 6:27pm I texted Carmen asking about coming into the birthing center because the contractions were getting very uncomfortable and I thought I would feel better if I went into the birthing center.

“At 6:37 Carmen text back saying she would meet us there in 20 minutes. On our drive my contractions started to be come very strong and close together. I needed to really focus on my breathing to get through the contracts. On the last mile and a half of the drive I started to worry that we weren't going to make it to the birthing center. Then out of know where I felt a pop. My first thought was my water broke but I didn't feel anything else. I remember my husband asking me so how do you feel? Do you feel confident? I told him no. That I didn't think we're going to make it to the birthing center and that I think my water just broke and a few seconds after telling him that I had a strong contraction with the urge to push providing the proof that the pop I felt was my water breaking. My husband assured me that we were going to make it. He told me I see the tire place we're almost there.

“A few minutes later we were parked and trying to get out of our truck. As my husband is coming around the truck I had another pushing contraction I told my husband the baby's coming. I was trying to get out of the truck but I was having trouble so my husband picked me up and got me out. Once out of the truck I couldn't move due to a contraction so my husband called Carmen to see if she was able to come help us get inside but we had made it to the birthing center just before her. As my husband is talking to Carmen I had another contraction and it felt like the baby’s head started to crown so I pulled my pants down to check and felt the baby head. I looked at my husband and said catch the baby. He kneeled down in front of me and helped the baby come out. As soon as the baby came out into his hands Carmen was right there with us and helped us get the umbilical cord untangled and helped us inside.” ~Stacy P.

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This video shows the transformation process from the old Texas Home School Coalition building to the new Heritage Birth Center. Make sure you turn on your sound for some inspiring music as you watch the video.

Heritage Birth Center - 9.5 months in the making - YouTube
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10/24/18: I texted Alex at 4:30pm and told her that I had been cramping through the night and off and on through the day. I texted her again at 6:30pm and let her know I had just had some blood tinged mucus. She asked if I was having any regular contractions and I told her they were about 10 minutes apart. She said great and to keep her updated. I also texted April (nurse friend) and let her know that I had lost some mucus plug. She told me to take a bath and maybe some Benadryl. I took a lavender bath along with Tylenol pm about 9pm. Ben and I went to bed about 10:30-11.

10/25/18: I woke up around 1am unable to stay in bed because the contractions were more intense lying down. I got up and went to the bathroom. I then decided to stay on the toilet and got my pillow and sat backwards in the toilet resting my head on my pillow between contractions. I timed the contractions for about an hour and they were 4-5 mins apart. I called April at 2:40 and asked her if she could come down and check me just to make sure I didn’t need to call Alex yet because I wasn’t sure if this was the real deal or not. She got here at 3:20am.

When she checked she said I was a 5.5 80% zero station. She later said she thinks I was more like a 6-6.5. I called Alex and let her know. She said she would head this way and for us to call Silvia (midwife) if we felt like we needed a midwife sooner since it would take her a while to drive here. She said that if I was comfortable with April monitoring she wanted her to get a full set of vitals on me and check FHTs every 30 mins.

I labored for a bit in the kitchen and living room, having to stand and breath through contractions.  I then decided I should probably get Ben up so he could start working on getting the tub up. While he blew it up, I picked up some of the bedroom and then stayed in the kitchen. I had to throw up at one point and contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart. I became vocal through contractions at this point. Once Ben had the tub aired up, I moved back into the bedroom. I labored on hands and knees on the bed with my upper body resting on the ball for a few contractions and then would stand up and lean over the bed for a few. Ben was right next to me rubbing my back and offering sips of water while the tub was being filled up with water.

 Annalee (photographer) arrived and starting taking photos. April stayed by me and reminded me to use a low tone and Ben would vocalize with me through each contraction. April stayed in touch with Alex during this time and had called Silvia to head over. Once the tub had enough water, I changed into my birth bra and got ready to get in. Silvia arrived and brought in her bags. Around 5:30am Alex arrived just a few minutes later and brought in all her stuff.

 I got in the pool and contractions were immediately more manageable. I labored in the pool for a while breathing and vocalizing through contractions. Alex checked heart tones regularly which stayed in the 140s. I changed positions frequently from leaning over the edge of the pool to hands and knees and sometimes sitting back on the seat in the pool. Ben asked if I wanted music and I told him I was enjoying the quiet. April had to remind me pretty often to keep a lower tone which was really helpful and she would remind me to slow my breathing down. Ben vocalized with me through each contraction. At one point he had to go to the bathroom and him being out of the room was so noticed. I almost asked where he was but he came back in the room. He fanned me with a cool wash rag.

I started to feel the urge to push and was letting my body bear down adding little pushes at the end. After what felt like at least 30 minutes I tried sitting up on the seat to push. I tried that for about 30 minutes and Alex asked if I felt her head moving down. I said maybe a little bit, but not really. I asked her to check me to see what was going on because I didn’t want to be pushing if it wasn’t time. She checked and said I was an 8 but the bag was bulging and that was probably why I felt the urge to push. I asked what we could do and she said she could break my water if I wanted. I told her to do it. She broke my water and I instantly felt baby’s head move down. I kept breathing and let my body push her down. Then I started feeling a really intense pressure in my butt and it was so uncomfortable that I had to get on my hands and knees. I reached down and could feel her head. It was only a few more contractions with some little pushes and her head was out.  Alex said she had cord around her neck, but it was too tight to move, so I pushed and her shoulders came out and then she was here! Ben was helping catch her and Alex told him to hold on so she could get the cord off her neck before she came out of the water. She had the cord around her neck 3 times tight. Alex unwrapped her cord and helped me get her on my chest. I just couldn’t even believe that we just had my dream home birth! She was born at 8:19am.

Ben came around and kissed us both.

Alex had me check a few times to see if the cord was still pulsing. She asked if I wanted to deliver the placenta in the tub or move to the bed. I told her we could move to the bed. Emery was trying to latch and I thought it would be easier if we were in the bed. After the placenta was delivered Alex checked to see if I tore. No tears!!

 My mom came in and saw us. She then went and got Porter out of his bed and brought him in. He was so sweet and confused by baby sister.

We took a big group picture. Then everybody cleared out so we could have some family time. It was so amazing being in our bed after just having a baby. After Alex was unable to attend the birth of our first child due to being ill at the last minute, I desperately wanted her to be there for the second. I am so so glad that she was! Having the presence of such a knowledgeable, calming and reassuring midwife was everything I could have imagined. I am so thankful and happy to say that having Alex present at the birth of our Emery Jane did not disappoint! Home birth for the win!!

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"2 days after my due date I had been having contractions consistently since 6am every ten minutes. Naps, cleaning, chiropractor appointment, walking, and eating all that day didn't speed things up. I would have bouts where the contractions would be 5 minutes apart but would slow back down any time I rested. I gave my birth team a heads up that this looked just like my other labors and we were going to be in it for the long haul. 

"Throughout the next night my contractions were way too painful to keep laying on my back. I would either flip over to contract on all fours or get out of bed to lean over against the bed. I really wanted my husband to get some quality sleep because I didn't know how long this labor was going to last. It took so much self-control to labor silently and not ask him for help. I realize in hindsight that it would have been okay to ask him and to even call my doula for more support, but I still thought it was too early for any of that.

"Finally, around 5am I couldn't stay in bed anymore. Laying down, flipping around and whatnot was just making me more exhausted and making my hair a ratted bird's nest.

"At around 7am I called my midwife, Alex, just to give her a heads up that my contractions were every 5 minutes or so apart but that she probably had plenty of time. She promptly disregarded me and said she would be there in 30 minutes. (I'm so glad she did this because it was getting more intense by the minute and without realizing it I needed her and my whole birth team)

"She encouraged me to call my doula, Sarah, to come over knowing I should have called her several hours prior. I went ahead and called her and my birth photographer, Lauren. My doula showed up 10 minutes later with my midwife and photographer arriving quickly afterward.

"They blew up the birth pool and got everything ready as I labored and Alex checked me for the first time. I was 5cm and around 85% effaced. ONLY 5CM!!! After 26 hours, I was a little heartbroken that I wasn't further along.

"The next few hours are somewhat a blur. I paced around my living, leaned against my husband, leaned against the couch, got on all fours leaning against the birth ball with counter-pressure from either my husband or my doula, and tried other positions to relieve some pain during the contractions. This labor was different from my first two in that I found tremendous relief getting on all fours and having counter pressure. These contractions were tricky this birth. This baby was flipping constantly in my belly making me have back labor when sunny side up and front labor when OA, in the correct position. No position or counter pressure really alleviated any pain this time around. It was odd and I was desperate.

"I kept making my way back to the toilet to labor, not because it was more comfortable but because I felt like I was making the most progress in this position. If I couldn't alleviate the pain I wanted to go away faster, thus, I wanted to dilate and efface as fast as I could. I had Alex check me again around 9:30am and I was 7cm dilated. I was making good progress, but not as fast as I'd hoped.

"A couple more hours went by and I had only progressed 1cm. I was sitting at 8cm and FIGHTING the urge to push with everything I had. I was having to blow raspberries each contraction to stop myself. This all only led to more vomiting and dehydration. At one point, Alex was concerned with my extremely lethargic state and what she was hearing on her doppler of the baby's heartbeat. We all decided an IV was best. She and Elyse, her assistant, started an IV and my poor husband had to hold it up high for almost 45 minutes while I napped between contractions and labored. 

"Finally, once my bag of fluids was emptied, she checked me again. I was still 8cm, but I was 100% effaced. She said I easily stretched to 9 - 9.5cm during a contraction, but I just wasn't dilating over baby's head. She gave me the option to continue to labor or during a contraction she could easily stretch me to a 10. After consulting my husband and doula, we decided to go for it even though I knew it would be painful.

"The next contraction she easily stretched me to 10cm before it was over. She exclaimed, "you're complete!" I sat up and we all walked from my bed to the birth pool. I climbed in with my husband right behind me. 

"I pushed the head out and my water broke. One shoulder came out and Alex had me lean back on to my husband. The next contraction the second shoulder and the rest of the baby came out. I reached down to help catch my third baby and my midwife and I slowly transitioned this sweet baby out of the water. She looked straight up with arms spread wide.

"As soon as I brought the baby up to my chest I was so relieved to be finished. My husband immediately asked me the gender of the baby to which I immediately responded, "I don't even care!" I was just glad this baby was here.

"After about 4-5 minutes I finally decided to look to see whether we had a boy or girl. When I looked and saw we had made a little girl I was in complete disbelief! It was definitely the best surprise of my life!

"My trajectory of emotions went from shock, surprise, and overwhelming joy leading to so many happy tears.

"After 31 hours of labor, we welcomed River Eden. She was born at 1:06pm after 7 minutes of pushing. She weighed 7pounds 7ounces and measured 20inches long." ~Elise H. 

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“In early 2016, I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome) which meant when my husband and I decided to have a child, it would be very difficult.  (Reading that line “when my husband and I decided” is quite funny now.)  Shortly after that I started praying to God to make me fruitful; I had no idea what that would entail for me!

“August 15, 2016 I went home early from work feeling flu-like and just overall crappy.  I was getting sick (so I thought) and decided to go home and rest.  I felt this way all week but pushed through work.  That Wednesday something was pressing on me and I just needed to be with my husband; he was 3 hours away in Pecos working.  I decided to pack me and the dogs up and fly down there for a nice surprise.  I can do a 3 hour drive, a few hours of sleep and 3 hours back before work- no problem.  I used to do it all the time!  I got up the next morning feeling woozy and under slept.  “What is wrong with me?” I remember thinking, “just shake it off, once you get on the road you’ll be fine!”  I was not fine.  A little while into the trip I was starving and drifting off.  I decided on coffee (bad mistake!) and those heavenly, lovely French toast sticks from Burger King (which didn’t last long a la coffee).

“Finally, later that Thursday I confided in my husband “I just don’t feel well”.  “Take a pregnancy test,” he replied, which is his answer to everything!  I told him no, absolutely not throughout the day until he finally convinced me.  Friday morning I walked into the bathroom and 3 minutes later could not believe my eyes.  I called my husband crying, speaking inaudibly between sobs and snot, and all he said, “It’s going to be ok”.  Four pregnancy tests later throughout the weekend, different brands of course, I was convinced that God had made me fruitful.

“Fast forward to April 14, 2017, 10:00 PM.  I am lying in bed, waiting for sleep to take hold of me, and I get this cramping sensation in my tummy.  I did not even have to question it- my first contraction.  I left my husband sleeping and worked through the contractions every hour that night.  That morning, April 15, my contractions worked up to every 30 minutes apart.  “This is the real deal,” I thought and told my husband we were in labor.  I decided to give Alex a heads up.  Call me crazy but that morning we went grocery shopping and even dropped items at the church for the Easter cook out all amidst contractions!

“Finally that afternoon, my husband convinced me that it was time to put the dogs in the pet hotel.  I agreed.  The contractions were consistently coming and getting stronger.  At 5:30 pm, we dropped our beloved Labradors at the pet hotel.  As I was getting ready to say good-bye, I felt a sudden gush of warm fluid.  I tried to keep my composure and politely asked for a restroom.  I waddled to that restroom and sat on the toilet as the rest of the fluid gushed out of me.  Quietly, I waddled back to my husband, said good-bye to my labs, and walked out of the pet hotel.  Back at the truck, I told my husband that my water broke.  I also texted Alex.  Labor up to this point was peaches and cream!

“Once we got back to our apartment, the contractions were consistently 5 minutes apart and getting stronger.  I helped my husband cook dinner, periodically stopping to breathe through a contraction.  At this point, our doula arrived and shortly after Alex arrived to check on me.  When Alex checked me, I was already 6 cm dilated!  Holy wow, I had gotten this far all by myself! And, of course the wonderful encouraging support of my husband. 

"From here, most everything is a whirlwind of events to me.  I could not tell you times of when things happened or in what order things happened.  I thank Jesus that we were able to get our beloved photographer and not miss those moments when we could not remember them.

“I do remember sitting on my ball with my husband behind me, supporting me, talking me through the strong contractions that I thought I would never live through.  I remember the beautiful ladies surrounding me, talking me through things, supporting me in every way possible.  Encouraging me. 

"Amidst all of this, my “doula kitty”, as she was named, was keeping everyone entertained playing with my affirmation cards that had been laid on the floor in front of me.  I do remember attempting to go for a walk to help labor along; we made it around the corner of our neighbor’s apartment.

"I remember getting in the shower with my loving husband to help ease my contractions and just standing under the warm water being held in his strong arms, knowing that those strong arms would soon be holding our daughter.  This is where I transitioned. 

“I remember Alex asking me to try to go to the restroom to make sure my bladder was empty, because I had been drinking fluids throughout the evening.  I tried, but had the contraction to end all contractions, and I was done.  Someone needed to get me off that blasted toilet and get me some drugs.  My husband was finally able to peel me off that stupid thing (why do they have to make toilets so low to the ground?) and our daughter quietly slipped into my birth canal.  “Baby’s coming!” was all I could say or think, except that now I am in my bathroom, stuck in a half squatting position.  Now everyone is in my bedroom and Alex is trying to get to me to see what is going on.  She cannot; the bathroom is too small.  “I need you to come out of the bathroom, I can’t get in.”  Horror, complete horror.  How is this woman expecting me to walk with my baby between my legs?  One step at a time is how!

“Between Alex and my husband they got me to the side of our bed where she was able to check me and see what was going on.  No visible baby yet.  Check baby’s heart rate, it is dropping.  Time to switch positions. 

"At this point I have my eyes closed, concentrating on my breathing, letting them take me over and tell me what to do.  My daughter is in jeopardy and my whole trust is in these ladies and God.  They get me onto the bed, half on my side, half on my back and check again.  Heart rate is coming back up. 

"Contraction- push.  No one has to tell me to do so, my body is doing what it was designed to do.  My doula is whispering in my ear, encouraging, telling me what is happening. She is already crowning! 

"Contraction- push.  My mind is resounding, you need to get this baby out so she does not get stuck in the canal.  It seems forever until the next contraction hits; I lay there waiting.  Finally, contraction! Push! 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around baby's neck, shoulders, arms and legs.  This is a very common occurrence and typically causes no concern, but in this case, it did cause baby's heart rate to drop when she suddenly dropped into the birth canal and the cord tightened around her.  By changing mom's position, we were able to alleviate the strain on baby and her heart rate stabilized. 

“My beautiful daughter, Kaylee, was born April 15, 2017 at 11:46 pm.  After 17.5 hours of labor, 6 hours of active labor, and 8 minutes of pushing, my daughter was finally here! 

"As I sit here writing this, with her sucking and licking on my arm, I am so grateful God blessed us with a beautiful family, a beautiful midwife, and a beautiful team of people that supported me and encouraged me being a first time mom taking on the challenge of a home birth.  And, especially for God’s gift of a wonderful, strong husband who supported me all through my pregnancy, all through my labor, and was there to catch our daughter into his strong, supportive hands.  And, yes, I would do it all over again and plan to!” ~Kasandra P.

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"I will never forget the day I finally saw the word "pregnant" on that pregnancy test window.  Following four years of trying, I finally had a little heart beating inside of me.  To top it all off, it was my birthday, and here I was with my prayers answered, every wish on every candle and every falling star finally coming true.  My husband, Trent, and I cried so many tears of joy! 

"My heart had always been set on a homebirth.  My mom had me at home, so it was always something that I had desired to do myself.  We immediately decided to contact a midwife.  Having heard so many wonderful things about Alex and having read through every page and blog entry on her website, our hearts were set on her before we even met her. 

"My entire pregnancy was beautiful, easy, and joyful.  Fast forward nine months to July 2nd; I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.  Having enjoyed every bit of my pregnancy, I was constantly saying "I wouldn't mind being pregnant forever!" However, here we were facing one final week before I would have to be induced at 42 weeks and I was a little afraid that I might actually never go into labor on my own. I asked Alex to sweep my membranes to see if we could get things kick-started.  Nothing happened that day, and nothing happened that night.  Alex told me to go to bed early, just in case anything happened through the night or by the next morning.  

"July 3rd, at 1:40 a.m., I woke up for my usual midnight restroom break.  When I got to the restroom, I noticed that I was feeling crampy.  I went back to bed and tried to fall back to sleep, but to no avail.  The cramping was a little painful and my adrenaline kicked in as I realized I was in the early stages of labor.  I got out of bed and started pacing in the darkness of my room.  Around 2:00 a.m. I decided that it was time to wake up Trent.  
"Babe." 
He popped up in bed, "yeah?!" 
"I'm having legit contractions right now.  I think we're in labor." 
He began asking questions: Are you okay? What do we need to do? Should we call Alex? How do they feel? 

"I informed him that the contractions were not lasting very long, so we needed to wait it out for the time being.  After sitting up with me for a bit, he suggested that he would be more help later if he could get a bit more sleep, and said that I should try and sleep more too.  I told him that I had tried going to sleep again but it didn't work, but that he could go back to sleep because there wasn't really anything he could do to help me at the moment.  In the meantime, I paced back and forth in the bedroom, practiced my relaxed breathing, and timed contractions on the pregnancy app on my phone.  After a while, I grabbed my exercise ball and sat on it with my head laying on the edge of my bed.  There I rocked my hips back and forth, back and forth.  It gave some relief to my body.  My contractions were all over the place.  They would last 15 to 20 seconds and rest a minute or two, then last 50 to 65 seconds and rest for 5 to 6 minutes.  There was no pattern and it began to be a little frustrating.

"Trent woke up again around 4:00 a.m. and immediately checked on me, his pregnant wife who was rocking on my exercise ball with my head buried in the mattress.  He asked again if we should call Alex.  I showed him the contraction timer and let him know that it was not within the 4-1-1 guideline to indicate active labor yet.  He let the dogs outside, and we moved into the kitchen where I paced back and forth on the cold tile and occasionally leaned on the counter and rocked my hips.  Trent unpacked the birth pool and aired it up in the bedroom.  

"For three hours there was no change, no pattern to the contractions.  Trent watched me pace around the kitchen, dining, and living room.  He would walk with me, rub my back, and run his fingers through my hair to help me relax.  I pulled up and began playing the laboring playlist that I had created back in the beginning of my pregnancy.  I also jotted a few words down in the journal I had started the day I took my pregnancy test.  It was full of little notes to Constance.  

"At 7:00 a.m. the pressure and pain jumped up a notch.  While the timer showed no difference, the change in intensity gave me hope that I wasn't stuck in one place.  Each contraction brought along cramping in my upper thighs and lower back.  I remember telling Trent that the pain in my back was not going away between my contractions.  He began to squeeze my hips when a contraction would come.  This almost took the pain away completely.  I was so thankful! 

"At 8:55 a.m. I called Alex. How exciting and overwhelming to finally tell my midwife that labor had begun! We discussed the timing and pressure, and she told me that this was all great and to let her know when they started getting closer to lasting 60 seconds.  I was still a little frustrated that they were not lasting longer than 20 seconds.  Would I be in labor all day long or even into the next day? Trent decided to help me take my mind off of things by pulling out Skip Bo and making me some toast.  We played Skip Bo in between each surge, and I tried eating the toast but I felt a little nauseous.  

"At one point I began crying.  Trent asked me if it was from the pain.  "No." I said, "This is just extremely overwhelming!" 

"I couldn't believe that, after all of this waiting, this day was finally here.  We were going to meet our baby soon.  I was overcome with so many emotions!  A few minutes later, the song "We Dance" by Steffany Gretzinger began to play and we both began to cry.  "We get to see our baby today." Trent said to me.  He was laying on the floor with his face underneath mine, as I was on my hands and knees rocking my hips.  In that moment every feeling of failure, during years of infertility, and of fear, during a couple of scary moments in our pregnancy, came rushing to the surface.  That song was my solace during many of those dark moments because I knew God would fulfill His promise to me, and here I was finally preparing to give birth to that promise.  I was reminded that He placed this desire in my heart to be a mother.  

"Contractions began to intensify more.  At 10:25 a.m., Alex texted me to see how I was doing and if there were any changes.  I texted her back that contractions were hurting and were getting closer to a minute long, but still no consistent pattern.  She immediately called me. 
"Are they taking your breath away?" 
"Yes" I muttered as a contraction began. "I'm having one now." 
"Breathe through it, this is your body bringing her down." she reminded me.     

"She told me that she would start getting her stuff together to head my way and that I should call Kayla (my doula) and get her there.  I contacted both Kayla and Amber (my photographer) and let them know it was time to head over. 

"At 11:27 a.m. my body kicked into high gear.  Contractions finally hit a pattern, lasting 50 to 60 seconds and coming every 2 to 3 minutes.  I discovered that I am a bit of a loud birther as my body took over and I began to verbally express each contraction.  Alex arrived around 11:45 and we moved to the bedroom to get checked.  While checking me, Alex started to smile. 
"Wow. You are incredible. Let me check one more time to be sure. Yep, you're at 9.5cm."  She turned to Trent, "We need to get that pool filled up now!" 

"Everything after that was sort of a blur.  Alex got on the phone with the birth team to let them know that if they didn't get there immediately, they might miss the birth!  Trent began rushing to get water into the birth tub.  Amber helped Alex get the bed ready.  Meanwhile, I bore through each contraction, knowing that I was almost at the end of this stage. I was fixing to see my baby's face.  Kayla and Elyse (the birth assistant) made it to the house at some point in the midst of this.  I spent most of this time leaning on Trent through contractions.  

"Around 12:30 p.m. the pool was ready and we climbed in.  The warm water felt amazing.  I positioned myself on my knees, held on to the edge of the pool, and rocked in between contractions.  Alex reminded me to relax and breathe in the resting periods.  She asked if I felt like I needed to push with my contractions and I did. With the next contraction, I followed my body's cues and pushed.  I could feel my baby moving closer to the birthing canal.  My water had not yet broken, and it added extra pressure.  Alex told me that I would feel a little pop when it broke. 

"As my baby got closer with each push, fear began to set in.  For the first time during my entire labor, I thought to myself "I can't do this. There's no way this baby is fixing to come out of me. She's too big." Alex read the fear on my face.  She looked me in the eye and told me "This isn't scary, it's just something new that you haven't experienced before. You can do this!" Immediately my courage came rushing back! 

"It is true what they say.  The moment when you want to quit is the moment right before your baby comes.  A few more pushes and I felt my water break.  Within seconds, baby Constance's head was out.  I immediately felt so much relief, gave one more push for her shoulders, and out she came. 

"Trent and I were in such awe that we both sat there staring down at her in the water, unable to move.  I reached down and pulled my beautiful little girl up to my chest.  I looked up at Trent, who was crying the happiest tears, and all I could do was smile. 

"At 1:21 p.m., Constance took her first breath of air.     

"Our little girl was finally here, and she was perfect."  ~Arica D. 

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"Kingston (first son) had been sick with a fever so Zach (husband) slept with Kingston in his room so we could try and prevent Teddy (second son) from getting sick. Our plans were for the boys to be in the room during Emiliana’s birth. Unfortunately Teddy started coughing early Tuesday morning. It was a rough night for him. He did throw up twice on me that night from coughing. I think I maybe got about 3 hours of sleep.

"I felt a couple contractions that were very mild and had gone to bathroom. Zach was about to leave for work when I told him I may be in labor. Since I had tested GBS +, we needed to let Alex, our midwife, know right away. We decided to get IV antibiotics, but for them to be most effective they needed to in my system for 4 hours. We were a little worried I wouldn't hit the 4 hour mark since I'd had faster labors before. I texted Alex around 8:30 AM that contractions were about 8 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. She told me to drink some more water and lay on the sofa so we could determine if was actually labor. Contractions did space out to 15-20 minutes apart.

"She arrived at our house and checked me and I was 5 cm, 70% effaced, and 0 station. Zach called our family friend Stacy that it was time to head over to help with the boys. Got the IV at 10:08 AM. I had to hold my arm still for the antibiotics which was about 15 minutes. I didn't want the fixed IV, since I couldn't get it wet and wanted to be able to get in the birth tub. After the antibiotics, I wanted to get labor going so Zach and I went for a walk. Got back and took some tincture from Alex to get contractions to be more consistent. At 11:43 AM they were still mild, 10 mins apart and about 50 seconds long. We kept on walking. I think we walked around the block about 6 or 7 times total. It was nice getting to spend time just two of us! Zach ordered everyone pizza, so we stopped walking to eat. I ate little bit of the pasta and a breadstick.

"Unfortunately at 1:30 PM contractions slowed down to 12 minutes apart and still mild. Got my second IV at 2:28 PM. At 2:56 PM contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and moderate. I walked around our room and did some squats to try and get into active labor. At 3:10 PM, Alex checked me again, I was 6.5 cm, bulgy bag of waters, 0 station, 80% effaced. I decided to let Alex break my water because I was so ready to meet Emiliana! Water was broken at 3:24 PM. I was 7.5 cm, and +1 station. I got in the tub at 3:30 PM with strong contractions 3-4 minutes apart.

"The water did give a little relief. At 3:56 PM I was on hands and knees with contractions every 3 minutes. I was facing Zach and holding onto his hands. He was so great at encouraging to keep going and rubbing my back.

"At 4 PM I had the urge to push. At 4:03 PM I started to breathe her down with contractions every 1-2 minutes. At 4:08 PM I had a fat anterior lip of cervix, 7 cm, 90%effaced, and +1 station. I had to get on my bottom so Alex could check me. I kept holding onto zachs arms. 4:11 PM I was 8 cm, Alex gave me arnica to help with the swelling of my cervix and Alex was holding the cervix up because instead of Emiliana's head going through the cervix like a turtleneck, her head was pushing my cervix into my pubic bone. At 4:23 I was having spontaneous pushing. Holding onto Zach really helped me. It was so difficult not to scream and just focus on breathing and pushing her towards my bottom.   At some point I did tell them to “get her out of me!”. At 4:30 PM I was given some more arnica, Alex was still holding the lip of cervix since I had just the anterior lip of cervix still. At 4:37 PM I was finally 10 cm and the lip of cervix was out of the way. At 4:40 PM could see her head while I pushed. At 4:43 PM Emiliana’s head crowned, 10 seconds later her head was out. Emiliana's left arm was under her chin with her hand touching her right cheek. So the biggest part of her head and hand to come out since she couldn't flex her chin to chin on her chest. She was left occiput anterior. At 4:44 PM Emiliana Rey Madrid was born on February 7th, 2017! I reached down and grabbed her and brought her to my chest! Crowning to birth was only 40 seconds! All of our labor was a little over 8 hrs but active labor a little over an hour and pushing about 7 minutes!

"When they were helping us get out of the tub, right as I stood up outside the tub my placenta and all the blood came gushing out of me. I still don't know how Alex caught the placenta. I said “OMG that's a lot of blood, is everything ok?” Alex told me to look up and don't look down and they continued to get me to our bed which was just a few steps away. Allison got a towel and cleaned up my legs. Zach cut the cord at 4:55 PM! 

"I was having a little more blood clots so Alex decided it was best to give me a shot of pitocin in the thigh and it burned so bad while she injected it. Alex did the newborn exam at 5:51 PM, Emiliana was 7 lbs 9 oz, 20 in long, head 13.5 in, and chest was 13 in!

"I can't even tell you how much Zach helped me get through labor. Alex was such a great midwife, staying calm and encouraging me! Another midwife, Salem came all the way from Amarillo to assist Alex and she was also great and got the birth on video! Alex also had her assistant in training Allison come to take pics for us which turned out great! Stacy was so awesome to take care our boys while they were sick and just hang out and wait!"

~Tricia M.

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I woke up early before anyone else on the morning of January 28th to take a pregnancy test. I remember feeling so anxious to see the results. I knew I would be heartbroken to see another negative test, after trying for 13 months to get pregnant. I sat there in the bathroom shaking while I prayed that God’s Will be done and that no matter what the results were, I would be content. (Philippians 4:4) I looked to find a POSITIVE TEST! Praise God!

I ran to wake David up and told him he was going to be a dad again. He was so excited! As I look back over those difficult months, I thank God for that time that he helped us grow closer to Him and grow stronger in our marriage. (Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4) It was hard. There were a lot of tears and sadness. But those trying months made me a better person. I also realized how much God had already blessed me with and to be thankful for everything.

We decided this pregnancy not to find out what we were having until the baby was born. We were excited about finding out at the birth, but it was quite suspenseful for our families! I had a pretty easy pregnancy. I had some “morning” sickness until about 16 weeks, but nothing too terrible. From around 29 weeks till about 34 weeks, our baby was still flipping around pretty often, mostly lying transverse or head down. We had a pretty active little one! Dr. Jenna Hillman, our family chiropractor, was a huge help getting her to stay head down and relieving my aches and pains.

On the morning of Tuesday, October 6, two days before our “due date”, I noticed I had a little bloody show as I was getting ready for the day. I called our Midwife, Alex, and she said labor could start anytime or as long as 2 or 3 days from now. She told me to rest and take it easy that day. I had packed a full day of errands in town for the day, so I went as fast as I could to finish and rushed home. My daughter, Corley, and I took a late nap together and I remember wondering if this might be our last nap to take together just the two of us. I savored every moment of that time with my oldest child.

We went to bed that night with no signs of labor happening anytime soon. It was about 10:30 when I started thinking labor would never start and I would be pregnant for the rest of my life. (haha!) About 11:30 I was awakened by a mild contraction. I was able to sleep through several contractions. It was some time after midnight when the contractions got to be more difficult to sleep through and I had to get out of bed to manage them. I started timing them and they were about 5 minutes apart. I called Alex to update her on my progress and she told me to take a shower and eat some breakfast and she would call me in 30 minutes. I started getting things together and packing food and essential oils. I called my mom to update her too. Labor kept progressing quickly. David woke up about 2:45 and we decided to find a good show on Netflix to pass the time. (Labor with our first daughter was 37 hours and we figured we would have a long labor again.) Before he could even press play, I had a hard contraction and needed his help. Alex called again, but I could hardly talk. She told us to meet her at the birth center. I called my mom and she quickly came over to watch Corley while we headed to the birth center.

We left the house about 4:15am. I didn’t realize at the time that while in the car, I was in transition. David drove fast. I turned around and sat on my knees and held onto my seat while taking each contraction at a time. About 15 minutes down the road, my water broke. Contractions were very, very strong at this point. I told David that I had the urge to push and he told me “Hold it in!!” (haha!) I grabbed my phone and dialed Alex’s number and told David to talk to her. She helped us stay focused while we really rushed to the birth center. During each contraction, I had to resist the urge to push. I felt like throwing up. It was really hard to stay focused.

We arrived at the birth center at 4:41 where our midwives Alex and Elizabeth met us at the car and helped me walk in. Another contraction came on while we were in the waiting room. Alex told me the head was not crowning yet and asked if I wanted to get in the tub. I definitely wanted to! We got to our room and the tub wasn’t full yet so I got on the bed. Another contraction came. Our doula, Michal, stroked my forehead and that felt good. Alex said the head was crowning and brought my hand to touch our baby’s head. That was so awesome!! Another contraction came. I remember Alex saying “Here comes the head, and oh here comes the body!” Our baby was born! David announced “She’s a girl!” She was absolutely perfect!! Born just 7 minutes after arriving at the birth center, at 4:48am, it was a crazy, fast, thrilling morning!

We named our baby girl Parker Lane. I held her and nursed her for the next couple of hours. Parker weighed 8 lbs and was 21 inches long. There is nothing better than holding your brand new baby. My love grew more than I ever thought possible at that moment. I remember the atmosphere being so calm and peaceful and exciting all at the same time. David and I laughed thinking about how we thought we would be in labor a lot longer since Corley’s labor was so long. Parker’s birth was about 5 hours long. It was so healing for me in a way, because Corley’s birth ended in an intervention that we had hoped to avoid, and I wanted to be able to birth our next baby naturally.

To know that God gave me the ability and strength to birth my baby and I was able to do that meant a lot to me. Alex made us feel comfortable and we liked her and trusted her from the first time we met her. She is an amazing midwife and we are so grateful she helped us have such a wonderful birth.

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Most of the time, it’s easy for mom to be able to bond with her baby.  She’s been feeling her little one inside her for nine months, gave birth and then is feeding the baby frequently (or for what feels like all day!).  But what about dad?  Where does he fit in when it comes to caring for and bonding with his child?  It’s not uncommon for fathers to feel left out once baby arrives, but here are some things dad can do to bond with his child from early on:

 Changing Diapers

Yes, I know this is nothing glamorous and in fact, quite smelly, but a great way to spend time with baby.  Newborns need their diapers changed about 12 times a day.  That’s several minutes, a dozen times a day when you can have 1-on-1 time with your child.  Don't let the fear of getting dirty spoil your fun...see it as an adventure!  How many diapers can you change before your baby pees or poops on you?! ;-)

 

Bath Time

My husband loved this one.  He found that our kids had more fun and enjoyed bath time more if he got into our big tub with them, rather than washing them in the baby one on the counter.  They could kick their legs, experiment with splashing and play with the toys and water all around them!  My babies would hear their daddy start the bath water and immediately start flapping their arms and legs while coo-ing in excitement!  It can be a special thing that only you do with them that they’ll learn to look forward to.

 

Massage

My kids have always had fairly dry skin and my husband and I would always rub some coconut oil on them after bath time or before bed when we’d put their pajamas on.  My husband started taking this over as a part of bath time and it was a nice “wind-down” from all the fun they’d been having in the tub.  You don’t have to take a class or be a massage therapist, just use a gentle hand and they’ll love it!

 

Book/Story/Song

You can sing a song, talk about your day, even read a sports magazine to them!  You speaking to your baby teaches them that they’re important to you and helps them learn the social interaction of verbal communication (I speak, you listen, you speak, I listen).  As they get older, they’ll love picture books, or books with sounds (or you can always create your own!) to read with you.  Just don’t be surprised if they find a favorite and want to read it over and over. ;-)

 

Bottles/Feeding

If your baby is bottle fed, or once they’re 6 months old and begin eating solids, dad can be the official non-breast feeder!  Watching your child learn about tastes and textures is quite amusing and is sure to be a good time for all involved.  Just be prepared for more to come out than goes in!

 

Housework/Yard work

You might be thinking, “Hey wait a minute!  How is my doing housework a way to bond with my baby?  This sounds fishy….”, but I promise you, it’s true!  I love baby wearing, it’s really the only way to get things done with a baby, especially if you have older children.  I found a baby wrap that both my husband and I could wear, so when he was outside mowing the yard, walking the dog, vacuuming, etc, he could wear our kids while doing it!  Baby was happy to be cuddling with dad, dad was happy he could get done the things he needed to while watching the baby, and I was happy to have a break to take an uninterrupted shower! ;-)

 

Support Mom

I know this isn’t exactly baby bonding time, but it is crucial for your baby.  When mom feels taken care of and like the house isn’t in total disarray, she’s more relaxed and more likely to enjoy just being in the moment with her baby without worry and stress creeping in to disrupt things.  And this is good for baby! (And you too….as my husband says, “Happy wife = happy life”!)  So throw in a load of laundry or dishes, make sure the trash is taken out and maybe make dinner (hey, she’s not going to mind that tacos are the only thing on your menu so long as she didn’t have to cook them!).  You supporting mom shows your baby that you care for them both, and it demonstrates caring and respect from an early age.

 

So dads, try one, try them all, but I guarantee you that you and baby will both enjoy the quality time you spend together, regardless of what activity you choose.  This will set the foundation for your relationship going forward….make it a strong one!

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When you’re preparing to become a mother, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what is best for you and your baby.  What foods should your eat, what vitamins to take, and if there is anything you need to avoid.  I’ve tried to break down the multitude of information out there and put it together in a way that would be easy to read and reference...

 

Daily Food Intake

Your calorie needs increase while you are pregnant and breastfeeding, and while you need these extra calories, it is important to get them from sources that are nutritionally beneficial (rather than the ice cream and candy that I mistakenly indulged in!).  During pregnancy you need roughly 300 calories more and during breastfeeding 500 calories more per day.   Adding in an extra nutritionally rich snack (such as nuts, seeds, or lean meats) can make this easy to achieve. 

 

It can also be helpful to break up your meals over the course of the day, rather than just eating three large ones.  Usually 3 meals, and 3 snacks spread throughout the day can not only help you maintain your blood sugar so there’s less nausea, but it can also help you to get all the necessary nutrients in that your body needs. 

 

Protein is incredibly beneficial for moms during pregnancy.  Studies have shown that diets high in protein can help reduce the risk of developing Preeclampsia, Gestational Diabetes, preterm labor and helps support a growing baby and placenta.  The recommendation for protein intake is 80-100g per day.  If you’re having trouble getting enough each day, try sneaking in a plant-based protein shake, homemade trail mix, putting meat on a salad or in pasta sauce, etc.

 

Water is also essential for pregnant moms and especially breastfeeding ones.  A lack of adequate fluid intake can lead to dehydration, decreased amniotic fluid, decreased milk supply, etc.  During cooler weather, the recommendation is about 2.5-3L (80-100oz), but during the warmer months, that should be increased to 3.5-4L (115-130oz).  You’ll need to drink more if you are exercising or going to be outside for an extended period of time.

 

Nutritional Supplements

Vitamins and supplements can be helpful with filling in the gaps in nutrition and creating a well-rounded diet.  (Please note, this is not intended to be medical advice for you since you might have health concerns that would require alteration of these supplements.  Please check with your care provider before changing supplements.)  While this is not a complete list of everything that would be helpful during pregnancy/breastfeeding, here are the basic ones I recommend to all my clients:

  • Prenatal Vitamins: Preferably food-based and high quality.  Most easily found at a natural foods store.  Food-based prenatals are utilized best within the body so more nutrients reach mom and baby.  The one that I most recommend is "Mega Food: Baby and Me".
  • Calcium/Magnesium: Best before bedtime to help with leg cramps and difficulties sleeping.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: 1 cup of tea or 1 capsule per day, per each trimester pregnant.  Helps tone the uterus and minimizes postpartum bleeding.
  • Nettle Tea: 1 -2 cups per day.  Good source of iron to prevent anemia and boost red blood cells.
  • Iron (if you are anemic): Food-based works best within the body without causing constipation.  Recommended brands are "Hemaplex", "Floradix", and "Ferrofood".  Helps to build red blood cells and increase energy levels associated with anemia.
  • Omega 3s/DHA: A high quality brand is best for working efficiently within the body without the “fishy” aftertaste.  Take pills or liquid as recommended. Beneficial for healthy fetal brain development, and maintaining a balanced production of prostaglandins which support the heart, immune system and the central nervous system.  The brand that I recommend most is "Nordic Naturals".
  • Vitamin D3: 2,000-4,000 IU per day, more if you are feeling sick.  Helps maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus which build fetal bones and teeth and help prevent skeletal deformities.
  • Probiotics: Take as recommended on the bottle, but make sure it’s a good quality one.  It should either be refrigerated or say that it has “guaranteed live and active cultures” with an expiration date.  This will help boost your immune system and keep your gut healthy.  I usually recommend "Jarrodophilis with Enteroguard".

 

Foods to Avoid

Most of the time, you are fine to eat anything that you’d like during pregnancy and breastfeeding (Within reason!).  When you have a healthy balanced diet, it’s fine to occasionally splurge and indulge in your cravings, but here are some things that you should try to avoid whenever possible as they could be harmful for you or baby.

  • Caffeine (more than 2 cups of coffee is too much)
  • Excessive sugar or simple carbohydrates
  • Artificial Sweeteners (Splenda, Aspartame, Sucralose, etc)
  • Alcohol
  • Deli Meats and Soft Cheeses (warm meats and hard cheeses are preferable)
  • Raw Dairy
  • Raw Fish
  • Some Herbs/Tinctures (please contact your care provider for a complete list)

 

Hopefully you find this guide helpful and it eases your mind….or at least this is one less thing you have to research.  Ultimately though, just do the best you can and that's all you can do!

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