• What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum… I never have easy pregnancies. They are hard and complicated every freaking step of the way. I found out I was pregnant at four weeks because I kept throwing up my vitamins a couple days in a row. Who even does that?  I thought it was because of a recent surgery […]

  • You just found out you are pregnant!  You are so excited, but you feel so lost on the next steps with your care for your pregnancy.  Naturally, you turn to someone who you are close to for guidance and often times for recommendations for a provider.  The number one thing I hear from women over […]

  • A and H started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I have had the privilege of being their midwife through all three pregnancies.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here. A’s pregnancy progressed along well, but as third baby’s are sometimes wild cards, this sweet girl definitely […]

  • N and T started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I had the honor of being N’s doula in her first two pregnancies in 2012 and 2016, and was ecstatic to be her midwife on this journey.  Although I did not have my blog in early 2012, you can read […]

  • H and J started care with us at the end of the first trimester of her third pregnancy.  H had previously had a precipitous birth center delivery and an unassisted home birth when she could not make it to the birth center, and was planning a home birth from the start this journey. H had […]

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum…

I never have easy pregnancies. They are hard and complicated every freaking step of the way.

I found out I was pregnant at four weeks because I kept throwing up my vitamins a couple days in a row. Who even does that?  I thought it was because of a recent surgery I had made me sensitive to the vitamins, but took a test just to rule it out.  Boy was I surprised!

One of many, many IVs.

That moment spiraled rapidly into days that started with occasional vomiting and all hours of the day queasiness, turned into relentless, life altering nausea and violent vomiting and dry heaving sessions.  I thought it was simply a more amped up form of pregnancy nausea and vomiting, and tried fighting through not taking medication so that there was no harm to the baby’s development, but then severe dehydration kicked in around 8 weeks and spiraled things to another level.

I have pushed myself through work days fighting vomiting and acting like I am completely perfect. Not wanting to let clients down, or my new amazing midwife partner, while dreading the thought of being called in the middle of the night to a delivery, knowing it’s going to spiral me into hard to control vomiting while having to be on my A game.

The fake vomiting toddler.

It’s sleeping with vomit bags, and having vomit bags all over the house because who the heck knows what will trigger an episode of dry heaving and vomiting.

It’s my toddler equating mommy to the blue vomit bags, and imitating vomiting noises into the bag when she brings it to me.

It’s severe dehydration, so severe I can’t get out of bed. It’s IV attempt after IV attempt, and praying for success and not another set of blown veins, because you don’t know what’s going to happen if it doesn’t work.

The beloved frosted coffee from CFA.

It’s growing a baby on sourdough bread, cheese, and frosted coffee. It’s not being able to eat many things more than once, and rejoicing when you get something of nutritional value down at least one meal.

It’s worrying how you are going to grow a healthy baby when you are growing it on crap.

It’s not being able to take a single vitamin. It’s fighting every day to take the two pills you need to take and praying they don’t come back up.

It’s the feelings of failure and guilt… for how this effects my family, my business, and being less than my best, which is something I can’t cope with the thought of on a good day as it is.

Some of many, many blown veins.

It is multiple medications that you thought you would never take, and then the emotions that follow when they do not work.  It is thousands of dollars every two weeks to cover the medication and equipment that does help.

It is appointments, so many appointments.  It is seeing your midwife, and feeling guilty for being such a burden patient.  Seeing a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist to help manage your HG and monitor growth.

It’s worrying about facing a hospital birth and a longer NICU stay.  It is not knowing if malnutrition and dehydration is going to cause prematurity issues worse than my history already causes me to deal with in my pregnancies.

Grow, baby, grow!

If you do not battle with nausea and vomiting of pregnancy, consider yourself highly blessed.  My last pregnancy with relentless nausea and occasional vomiting was exhausting, but jumping from that into HG territory this pregnancy has been emotional and completely wearing in every capacity.

What is Hyperemesis Gravidarum?  The exact definition is persistent severe vomiting leading to weight loss and dehydration, as a condition occurring during pregnancy.  It effects approximately 2% of pregnancies, and is linked to a cascade of issues and complications if management can’t be obtained.

What is Hyperemesis?

The HER Foundation has been a wealth of information in figuring out what is wrong, what to monitor, and steps to try.  I highly recommend this site for anyone wanting to educate themselves further on HG, and how to support someone on the roller coaster ride of dealing with HG.

Today is the limited time release of the film called “Sick:  The Battle Against HG.”  You can watch it for a limited time here.

Rocking the zofran pump at the halfway point!

On National Hyperemesis Gravidarum day, I hope this sheds some light on what the reality of dealing with HG is like.  I hope next May 15th, this is a faded, terrible nightmare, and I can look on this in a different light.

#sacredjourneymidwifery

Building Your Birthing Dream Team

You just found out you are pregnant!  You are so excited, but you feel so lost on the next steps with your care for your pregnancy.  Naturally, you turn to someone who you are close to for guidance and often times for recommendations for a provider.  The number one thing I hear from women over and over is that they asked someone close to them (friend, relative, co-worker, etc) who they used for their prenatal care provider, and then set an initial appointment with them.

Please, don’t do that.  Hear me out on this.  People close to you truly care about you, and although they may have had a fantastic experience with their provider, what they wanted for their pregnancy and delivery may not at all be what you want for yours, and this is so important!

In my fourteen years in the birth related field, I have seen so many cringe worthy decisions in this category.  The ones that worry my heart the most are the sweet first time mamas wanting an undisturbed vaginal delivery using a doctor who performed a great cesarean delivery on their sister, friend, etc.  This does not work.  If you want a surgical birth, then by all means, you want the best OBGYN out there known for his surgical birth experience.

Alas, that is not the majority of women I serve or encounter.  For every woman I cross paths with, I want to help them set the stage for the best birth team, which in the long run helps increase birth satisfaction and decrease mental and emotional trauma from a poor experience.

How does one start building their birth dream team?

First, lets start with location.  What environment makes you feel safest?  It is important when deciding between hospital, birth center, and home birth that you are taking into consideration your emotions when you consider each location.  It is of the utter most importance that you feel safe in whatever location you choose.  There is not a perfect answer for each person.

I recently encountered a sweet lady who was going to start care with me.  Since I am insanely type A and detail oriented, my contract, consents, and waivers are also very detailed.  I want everyone to know risks and benefits, and to fill comfortable with her decision.  This sweet lady had a lot of anxiety, and she wanted a peaceful home birth, but her sense of safety was in the hospital.  I wished her the best, and told her that it was wonderful that she was listening to her gut, and following those instincts.  You cannot force a home birth to happen if you do not feel safe there, and vice versa.

Second.  What type of birth do you want?  There is not a one size fits all model for how to birth.  I personally prefer unmedicated vaginal deliveries, and have been blessed to have had three.  However, because that is what I wanted does not mean that is what you want.  You may not even know what you want, and that is okay.  That is where hiring a doula (see below) will come in perfectly.  I highly encourage reflecting day one on what you envision for your birth.

Third.  What type of provider do you want for your care?  OBGYNs mainly work in the hospital, where as a midwife you can find one in either category, hospital, birth center or home birth.  With a midwife, you have a higher chance of knowing which provider will be attending your birth, as well as having a relationship with any other midwives in the practice.  With an OBGYN, it is not as common for one to attend all their births.  Most often, you will have an on call doctor who attends your birth, and you will not see the doctor much during the labor process.  If using a hospital midwife, you still have the option of obtaining an epidural or other forms of medicinal pain management if desired, and a doctor is available if something such as a cesarean is deemed necessary.

Fourth.  No matter where you are birthing, every woman should consider a doula!  I find a good, well trained doula to be a valuable asset to the birthing team every time.  A doula is a non-biased person one hires to assist in helping a couple navigate their birthing preferences, reminding them things to ask of their birth provider, helps with teaching and preparing for comfort measures, and is present during the birth to provide emotional and physical support to the woman during her labor journey.  A doula will often be able to help guide you on things to read and do to help you see what type of birth you want, and how to best prepare to make that happen.

Fifth.  Family and friends.  This is a long standing dilemma so many of my clients have faced over the years.  It is amazing to me how many people feel they deserve the right to attend another woman’s birth.  It is incredible that one could forget how completely vulnerable a birth is, and guilt and manipulate a woman into allowing them to attend the birth.

Let me tell you, this is absolutely not okay!  No one deserves the right to be in your birthing space without your permission.  For every uninvited person in your space that does not have a job or make you feel comfortable in that moment will add at least an hour to your labor.

Why?  Because the body is smart.  If the body does not feel safe and comfortable, labor progression ceases.  This is not a time to people please.  Please, please, please only allow people that you truly want in your space.

My worst experience with this with a client was I had a sweet first time mom who only wanted her husband, mother, and sister with her during her birthing time.  Her husband was quite enthusiastic, and did not understand the importance of listening to her wishes, and therefore made his own decisions and invited his entire family over.  I walked into lawn chairs, yes lawn chairs, set up all over the living room for the “show.” I was furious inside with the husband for disrespecting his wife’s wishes, and needless to say, this mama ended up with a hospital birth because she could not labor with so many people watching her so closely.

So what is the criteria for friends and family?

First, I tell my clients that they have to love and support you, and be 150% okay with your birthing decisions.  They cannot be in the corner having an emotional crisis because you do not want pain medications and they can’t handle seeing you in pain.

Second, for each person there that is not part of the birth team itself, they need to have a job.  This helps keep idle hands busy, and less eyes waiting for the “pot to boil” so to say.  The jobs can be anything.  It could be having a grandmother make your favorite soup, or sister run some errands for labor snacks.  Your provider and/or doula can also help craft a busy list for those members you want at your birth to support you.

Sixth.  Is there anything else in this equation you are desiring or needing for your birth?  I would group birth photographers, birth videographers, and sibling doulas in this category.  Make sure to invest a good amount of time in the interview process for any of these people.  These people should have more of a fly on the wall role, and should know how to abide by it.  You want to be sure that who you interview gives the respect of your birth space vibe and makes you feel comfortable.

It is an interesting concept that couples invest so much energy, money, and time planning their weddings for this picture perfect day, but spend an ounce of that planning their birth. How a birth goes and how a woman feels after her experience can have effects that last a life time, whether positive or negative.

I highly encourage if you are pregnant, please invest the time into cultivating the dream birth team that fits what you need and desire.

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

A and H started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I have had the privilege of being their midwife through all three pregnancies.  You can read about their previous journey’s here and here.

A’s pregnancy progressed along well, but as third baby’s are sometimes wild cards, this sweet girl definitely changed up her mama’s labor pattern!

A’s estimated due date came and went, and then so did 41 weeks.  We made a plan that if baby had not been born by 41.4 weeks, we would try a membrane sweep and herbs.

Sure enough, A made it too 41.4 weeks.  She arrived at my house around 830am.  We joked about a previous client who made it past 41 weeks, with a history of long labor, who had a very quick labor with her 41 week baby.  A said she would take it!  Neither of us knew how things would proceed and be different from her previous babies!

I did an exam and found A to already be 5cm dilated, 80% effaced, and baby at a -1 station.  I could stretch her cervix easily to 7cm.  It literally appeared her body simply needed a nudge to get the labor memo.  A’s previous baby was a pound bigger than her first, and I was anticipating this little one at 9lbs 8ozs, which was also bigger than her previous baby.

A drove home, and labor began while driving home.  I had to take my nine year old to his soccer pictures.  We did not see a reason why this would not work out since A had always had lengthier labors.

A sent me many texts while I was on the soccer field.  She said she felt like a baby feeling like her contractions were really hurting.  We talked for awhile, and I told her don’t wait too long to call us, as we are ready to support her whenever she needed. While I was driving home, A said she was ready for us.  Apprentice A and the birth assistant headed her way, while I was slightly behind waiting for the baby sitter to arrive.

Apprentice A arrived at 1145am, and I arrived at 12pm.  A was laboring on her birth ball, moaning and grunting at the peaks.  A was so surprised things were happening so fast.  She began to push on the ball a few contractions later.

We suggested she try the birthing stool at 1219pm, as it gave her the same sort of positioning as she had on the ball.  A continued to push.

Her water broke at 1243pm, and she spontaneously moved to hands and knees.  The next minute, the head was born followed very quickly by the baby, who had her hand by her head just like big brother did.  After a fast and furious labor journey, her sweet girl was here!

Welcome to the world, Elouise.  Born earthside on November 2nd, 2019 at 1244pm, weighing in at 9lbs 8ozs, 20.5in long.  She was immediately so loved by her big brother and sister.

Repeats are so special, and it was special for me to support this sweet couple for a third time.  A said if there is another baby, she would most definitely go to 41+ weeks again if that means a quick labor again.  <3

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

 

 

Birth Story of Maverick

N and T started care with me in the first trimester of their third pregnancy.  I had the honor of being N’s doula in her first two pregnancies in 2012 and 2016, and was ecstatic to be her midwife on this journey.  Although I did not have my blog in early 2012, you can read about her previous birthing journey here.

N’s pregnancy progressed along beautifully with the normal ups and downs pregnancy brings.

N’s estimated due date came and gone.  When N was 40.5 weeks, she decided to come in and try a membrane sweep and herbs.  N was surprisingly already 4-5cm dilated, 80% effaced, and baby at a -2 station. Her cervix was very soft and stretchy.  I estimated baby to weigh around 8lbs 8ozs, a little bigger than his siblings.  Note this when you see how wrong I was later in the story!

Things started slowly.  N had manageable cramping and contractions through out the day.  Around midnight on October 30th, her contractions shifted, coming every 2-3 minutes, intense, but short.  N requested the birth team around 130am, and we headed her way.

N was laboring beautifully, calmly in her bedroom, leaning over her bedside with contractions, her doula providing counter pressure with contractions.

We did an exam a little after 3am, and found N to be 7cm dilated, 100% effaced, and baby at a 0 station.  Things were progressing along beautifully.  Contractions were coming every 3 minutes, lasting over a minute.  N was ready for the birth pool, and got in at 325am to labor on her knees.

Over the next 90 minutes, N alternated between laboring on her knees and semi reclining.  She was focused with contractions, but we would all talk in between.  Her doula was providing comfort measures during, and offering water in between.

N requested an exam a little after 5am.  I did the exam in the pool, and found her to be 8cm.

We had been discussing lift and tucks with the rebozo for a bit, and N decided she was open to trying them while in the pool.  Apprentice A helped N with lift and tucks for ten contractions.  N noticed her contractions shifting, and felt them intensifying.

As 7am neared, we recommended N get out of the pool for a bit, move around, and try some different positions.  N walked around, then alternated side lunges with hip circles for a few contractions.  Her doula suggested a forward leaning inversion and belly sifting, and N was so willing and sweet to do any suggestions that brought her baby closer to her arms.

N requested an exam a little after 8am.  There had been no change.  I encouraged N to consider laying down in her bed with T for an hour and then we would see how things proceeded.  I encouraged her that each baby makes their own journey, and she was doing everything right.  We helped situate N on her left side, and let her rest.

30 minutes later, we rotated N on her right side, and began giving her a homeopathic to help with progression and cervical rigidity.

At 918am, T came out and said N’s water had broken.  We all rejoined them in the room.  N was feeling more pressure now.  The birth pool had been refreshed, and N got back in.

Labor was intense.  N was focused, moaning with contractions.  At 949am, I found N to be 10cm dilated, baby at a +3 station.  Knowing that news, N felt better about beginning to push.  With the next contraction, she started to push.

The head was felt on the perineum at 1001am.  We encouraged N to push with contractions, and to build her strength back in between.  The head was crowning at 1005am.  Things moved slowly at this point.  N was pushing on hands and knees.  The head was born at 1009am, and after some work, the entire baby was born at 1011am.

Welcome to the world, Maverick!  Born earth side on October 30th, 2019 at 1011am, weighing a whopping 10lbs 2ozs, 22 in long.  Boy, was my weight guess so wrong!  His mama worked so hard having her big boy.  Her strength was so visible through out her labor.

It was such an honor to have helped this sweet couple for a third time, but even sweeter that this time I got to help them have their sweet baby in the comfort of their home.  <3

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

Photos taken by Devynn Leanne Photography.

H and J started care with us at the end of the first trimester of her third pregnancy.  H had previously had a precipitous birth center delivery and an unassisted home birth when she could not make it to the birth center, and was planning a home birth from the start this journey.

H had a smooth, uncomplicated pregnancy.  Since her previous babies came around their due date, this one was anticipated as the same.  Sure enough, around 1am two days past H’s estimated due date, H called letting me know she had been having some minor cramping and contractions for the last two hours.  She was certain this was labor, and ready for everyone to come.

I arrived around 145am, and found H sitting on her birth ball in her room, moaning with contractions.  She had her area of blankets prepped on the floor at the end of the bed, as she anticipated birthing on her knees at the end of the bed as she had previously.

H was well supported from her mom and her three girls as she walked through her labor journey, with words of encouragement, chatting, and getting her food and drink.

Aside from a couple trips to the toilet, H spent her journey on the ball, as she found it the most comfortable, as her contractions intensified.

As 3am neared, H commented multiple times how different this labor journey was, and it was very true.  She said her first labor was 90 minutes, and her second was 45 minutes.

At 359am, H went to the toilet, and when she came back, she got on the floor, prepared for birth.  Her water broke 7 minutes later, followed by spontaneous pushing.  H was in tune with her body and baby, and listened to the wisdom on what to do.  The baby was on perineum at 415am, and two more pushes later, and her sweet girl was born at 418am, and immediately placed onto her chest.

Welcome to the world, Amber!  Born earth side on October 31, 2019, weighing 7lbs 8ozs, 20in in length.

It was a joy to have been part of this special birthing time.  <3

-Midwife Shannon

#sacredjourneymidwifery

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