Twin Cities Birth Center

Welcome Dr. Dennis Hartung!

BlogIcons_MeetStaffWe are so thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our team: Dr. Dennis Hartung. Dr. Hartung joined our practice in January 2015. Many consider Dr. Hartung a legend in the Twin Cities birth community. He has a reputation not only for being a stellar OB/GYN, but also for being very supportive of natural birth and very empowering of the women and families under his care. He is appreciated by many of his patients for his remarkable calm, caring, approachable, attentive, and down-to-earth bedside manner and incredible skill. Welcome Dr. Hartung. dr.hartungimage-1

What is your role at Health Foundations?

I am an OB/GYN physician. I see patients that need care for their birth at the hospital, but who would like to be seen at Health Foundations. I also offer well woman and gynecologic care, including managing surgery for those who need that as part of their GYN care.

What is your educational background/training?

I received my B.A in Biology at Boston University in Massachusetts. I later earned my Medical Degree at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. I received further OB/GYN training at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Where were you born?

I was born in Billings, Montana in June 1958. I was born in a hospital and don’t know a great deal of detail about my own birth. I heard that my mom did not have a name picked out for me and that she named me after her OB.

Has anyone ever named a child you’ve helped deliver after you?

Not to my knowledge!

Where have you lived beside Minnesota?

I have lived all over the place! Growing up, my dad’s work took us from Billings and Bozeman, Montana to Yuma, Arizona. After my parent’s divorce, we moved west to Salem, Oregon. After that I moved around a lot with the Army to Clarksville, Tennessee; Hampton and Little Creek, Virginia; Brookline and Brighton Massachusetts; North Pole, Alaska (seriously); Ft Campbell, Kentucky; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia; and San Antonia, Texas.

My favorite place I’ve lived has to be North Pole, Alaska. I worked for the Army as a medical doctor up there and our family just loved it there. It was colder, but my wife and I always say that Minnesota/Wisconsin feels colder much of the time in the winter. North Pole was a great place to raise our kids—we had a tightknit and very supportive community. We loved that wilderness was everywhere, all around you. Living in Alaska, you really have to adjust to the rhythms in a place where it is virtually dark 24 hours a day for a few months a year and then light for 24 hours a day for months. You could be out washing your car and realize it was 1am in the morning! But it was just a really cool place to live.

Where do you live now?

Hartung family in Hudson

I live in Hudson, Wisconsin. We’ve lived here for 9 years. My wife’s parents live on the east coast and my parents on the West, but neither of their home states really attracted us—they are not particularly doctor-friendly from malpractice and other standpoints. So knowing we wouldn’t live on either coast freed us to look around. We looked in the northern US—we wanted the 4 seasons and a place that didn’t get too hot and humid. I was eligible to retire from the army at this point…so we interviewed for a job here and fell in love with Hudson. We loved the small town feel with proximity to the Twin Cities. It has been a great place for our kids—good schools and after-school activities.

Can you say a little about your family?

I have been married to Linda for 33 years, and we have three kids: Rebekah (28), John (25) and Aaron (21). My wife and I have two cats named Rue and Sega. I have a younger sister named Jani who lives in Turner, Oregon, just outside of Salem.

Dennis and wife Linda, Dominican Republic

What led you to the Army?

When I was finishing up with high school, I didn’t have the financial means to go to college. My music teacher recommended I audition for the Army band as a flutist and get military college benefits. I was accepted and played flute for 6 years in the army. I received an army scholarship for my education with the expectation that I would serve the army as a doctor when I was done. I spent about 12 years as a student/resident and then about 11 years post-residency as an active duty army physician in OB/GYN care.

Dr. Hartung at military trauma course in medical school

What is one of your favorite things to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I am a flutist and still play regularly at church and other times/places that I can. I love gardening, hiking, and canoeing.

Linda and Dennis, annual fundraising gala at church

What is one of your favorite restaurants in Saint Paul?

Pizza Luce

If you could get on a plane tomorrow and travel anywhere in the world for free, where would you go?

Ireland. My wife and I went there for our 25th wedding anniversary and were delighted by it. We want to go back sometime.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Being present for the birth of my daughter—our first baby. Our daughter was born while I was in college. We had a hospital birth with midwives and our care was much like what is offered at Health Foundations. Watching my wife go through labor (and later holding my newborn girl skin to skin) had a profound impact on me and really influenced my later decision to become an OB/GYN. At first, when I started college, I thought I wanted to become a dentist because I was fascinated by dental instruments. However, I spoke with some dentists during my college years and they really discouraged me from pursuing dentistry. Then I thought I wanted to go into surgery but I didn’t enjoy my surgery rotation during residency at all. When I had my OB rotation—by this time we had also had our middle son—I just knew that this was a good fit for me and that I wanted to serve women and families as an OB/GYN. 

Hartung family, Dominican Republic

 

What is your philosophy on birth?

A woman’s body can do it. Let’s approach it allowing normal physiology to take place without fussing. Then if there are difficulties, begin a stepwise intervention to facilitate a healthy birth, for mom and babe.

What do you wish all Health Foundations families knew? 

THEY CAN DO IT!

What piece of advice or wisdom can you share with pregnant or new mama readers?

In our culture, unsolicited advice and “birth stories” are often told to moms-to-be. People don’t mean to be rude, they often just don’t know what else to say. Humor them, thank them and then let your body do what it was designed to do. Surround yourself with the support you need to get through it.

Birth Story: Meeting Finnlee

Finnlee Joan birth story

The birth of Finnlee Joan told by mama Nicole

Since she was 41weeks, I had been getting a little worried that she would never come out, so I requested to work a evening shift of Thursday so I would be on my feet. We had a check in with Monica who gave me a belly band and told me to have a good night at work. Sure enough I started having contractions. I didn't know what they were (now I know!)-- they stopped when I would rest, so I didn't really concern myself. After three weeks of everyone at work asking me "when are you going to have that baby? I can't believe you are still at work!?" I was excited to move the process along.

Friday 10/24

Evening comes along and I started to leak- best way I can describe it- my water was slowing breaking. I probably went to the bathroom like 50 time in 4 hours. I was having to convince my husband that my water broke but he was not so sure. We called Monica and she said just to sleep, eat, and the rest will take care of itself.

Saturday 10/25

Morning came and Nick was so excited the baby could be coming, he stayed up until 4am cleaning the house. When I wanted to take a hike at 9am, he was too tired. I called my sister-in-law and we went hiking up the sledding hill by our house, which did cause the contractions to increase but I was still able to talk through them. At this point, I had pulled out all my Health Foundations binders and was looking for all the stages of labor. Also it seemed like in every birth story in the Ina May book, the women went for a hike to keep labor going. I was fearful that the contractions would not ever come consistently because after the walk, they stopped again.

I had been seeing an acupuncturist to try to get the baby out earlier that week so I went to my 2:30pm appointment to get the show on the road. My husband drove to make sure I was safe and to ask the acupuncturist how this whole thing worked. He put the needles in me and he and my husband carried on talking and laughing meanwhile my contractions became much worse and I was not so easy going at this point. We left and I really wanted some ice cream before this labor thing got really intense so we stopped at Culvers. I ate a sundae and before I could get around the block, I had to get him to pull over so I could vomit. I guess it was Mother Nature's way of making sure I didn't eat any more bad food.

Recalling that the labor stages book said vomiting means things are moving, I was getting a little nervous. The book was right, I started having contractions every 5 min. But my husband would not let me go to the birthing center until they were 3-1-1, he must have been listening to Rochelle (our childbirth education instructor) during class. I begged him for two hours to leave the house, but it was not until Monica gave him the go-ahead to drive me in at 8:30 pm that he agreed.

We arrived to hear another mama laboring in the other room where another baby was being born. This was a little intimidating until I heard the baby cry, then I was jealous because she had a baby and I had a lot of work to do still. Monica checked and I was 5cm dilated. I asked her how far I was and she said " you're far enough you can stay."  It had not occurred to me there was a chance I would be sent home. I was ready to meet my baby and did not plan on leaving! Thank goodness we stayed at home long enough.  The next 6 hours were a bit of a blur: shower-tub-vomit-repeat. At one point, Monica checked me and said I could start pushing. My husband wanted to catch her and the first thing he saw was her little face with her hand over it. Nick told Monica that the baby had her hand on her face and we were still in the tub. Monica calmly told me to get out of the tub and do a runners lunge (with a baby head half way out.) One more push and there she was! Nick got to catch her like he wanted.

We met Finnlee at 3:26am on Sunday October 26, 2014.  She was 7lbs 10oz and 20.5 cm long.

Meet Amanda DeVoogdt!

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Amanda2Name:

Amanda DeVoogdt (de vote)

Role at Health Foundations:

Staff Midwife

Education:

  • BA in Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies (minor) at the University of Minnesota in Duluth
  • Midwifery Program Graduate (3-year program) from Birthwise Midwifery School, a MEAC (Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council) accredited school, in Bridgton, Maine.

Let’s start with some basics. 

What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?

I love food- cooking it, eating it, sharing it.  One of my favorite things to do is whip up an impromptu dinner for friends or attempt a challenging recipe that’s caught my eye. Back when I had a TV, I used to watch a lot of old reruns of Julia Child on PBS and America’s Test Kitchen.

Running is also a common past time of mine. I ran a marathon once and as I crossed the finish line swore I would never do another-ha! I’m more of a 4-5 miler these days. Just enough to de-stress, get me outside and make me feel the runner’s high.

If you could get on a plane and travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?

Oh gosh, I think my travel bug has been tamed! I had lots of traveling adventures throughout my 20s, so now I’m much more of a homebody. I’d much rather take a long weekend and explore a small town in Wisconsin and camp outside than jet-set anywhere.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Saint Paul?

Black Sheep Pizza and Mango Thai are a couple of my favorites for take-out.

Tanpopo Restaurant is the best-kept secret in St Paul and The Blue Door Pub makes a mighty fine juicy-lucy! 

When does your story with Health Foundations begin?

I started with Amy Johnson-Grass before she opened the birth center.  She was closing her private midwifery practice and had just purchased the building that is now the birth center. She very graciously took me on as a ‘volunteer’ even though I had no skills or experience- I hadn’t even been to a birth at that point!  I basically just wanted tasks so I could follow her around and see what it was like to be a midwifeJI packed boxes and organized charts and eventually I applied to midwifery school and she became my preceptor. It’s been a whirlwind ever sense.  Nothing could have prepared me for how hard and character-building midwifery school would be. I’ve been with Amy through all of my training and am so grateful for her endless patience and kindness towards me while I grew into a midwife. She’s my mama midwife- gently leading me and teaching me along the way.

After graduation I stayed on as a staff midwife and have been here ever since. I’m so proud to be one of the original staff members and to have been able to see the birth center grow and change over the years. We’ve come so far!

Amanda3Did you know before your work with Amy that you for sure wanted to be a midwife or were you just exploring a possible interest? 

The first time I heard about midwifery was in my Women’s Studies classes in college.  I was really fascinated by the profession of midwifery and by women that chose to give birth in their homes. I’m a big fan of bold women that go against the grain and stand up for what they believe in, so midwifery felt like home to me.  I had a lot of things I wanted to do in my life first though. My gypsy spirit really had to have its time before I could be ready for the life commitment that is midwifery. So I spent a lot of time traveling and working various jobs after college, but my heart was always in midwifery. I knew I would come back to it.

For me, and for many midwives, midwifery is a calling. A vocation that picks you. That’s what gets you through the sleepless nights, the long labors and the many days without seeing your family or friends. You truly have to love the work and believe that it is making a difference because it can be very challenging at times.

Tell me more about your bucket list.  What were some of the things you did to feed your gypsy spirit before becoming a midwife?

Well, I took a year off in college and moved to China to work as an English teacher for a while. I was literally fresh off the farm from rural North Dakota and plopped down in the middle-of-nowhere China.  It was my first time leaving the country and it totally blew my mind. After I finished college I took a job in The Netherlands working as a personal assistant to a woman who was pregnant at the time.  The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam where I was—the social norm is to have a homebirth. I was really exposed to a culture that supported out-of-hospital birth and midwifery and that had a big influence on me. Once I left The Netherlands, I took a job in South Korea and wrote textbook curriculum for a little over a year. It was a wild time. I was literally living out of a suitcase and had sold all of my belongings. I knew that I would never have a time in my life like that again- I totally took advantage of being single and free of commitments.

I’m so glad I had all of those adventures and experiences and I am also glad that it’s over!  I like hot showers and real beds too much now.

What do you know about the story of your own birth?

I was adopted when I was an infant, so my birth story was told to me by my birth mother a couple of years ago when I met her for the first time. It was a story that I had been waiting to hear my whole life and now has added importance because of my work in birth. It was very moving to hear my own birth story and it was also very moving to hear a birth story from the perspective of a birthmother. I felt like I knew my entire ‘life story’ once I heard the story of my birth and I greatly encourage all women to write about their birth experiences not only for themselves but also for their children one day.

Amanda4What do you love about working here?

My co-workers are like my family.  We have a lot of fun together and we laugh a lot.  Everyone is sharing food, stories and hugs around here.  This is a great place to come if you are having a great day, and a great place to come when you are having a bad day because everyone is going to be there to support you.

When I’m up all night at a birth and haven’t slept I am guaranteed to have a coffee waiting for me, a sandwich on the way, and someone is working to rearrange my schedule so I can get a nap in or go home early—everyone just comes together to take care of one another. That is crucial in this kind of work.

Amanda5What is your philosophy on birth?

I often find myself saying “Just do what you need to do…” during labors. I’m usually saying it when someone’s at the point where she just needs to give into the process.

Cry it out. Sing. Let’s have a dance party. Get mad. Yell. Cry some more. Just do what you need to do. Tap into that deep place and let it give you strength. Labor is an emotional journey that is different for every one. I love holding a safe space for women while they figure it all out and “do what they need to do”.

What do you love about Health Foundations families?

I love that our clients come in with thoughtful questions about their health and that they request alternative treatments for common ailments.  There are so many things that can be treated through changes in diet and natural remedies. I love sharing what I know and giving people information that they can use beyond their pregnancy.

Do you have any advice or other wisdom to share with our readers?

Chiropractic care in pregnancy is key. So is sitting up straight in the car and not reclining back in comfy chairs. “Optimal fetal positioning” is the mantra for the third trimester!

Fashionably Late, But Worth the Wait

The birth of baby Afton

By Mandi Crawford Morgan

Afton’s birth story doesn’t actually start on her birthday.  It actually started 9 days earlier, the first time I went into labor.  After that day, I never dreamed I would stay pregnant for another 9 days!  I think that had I not had that “false” labor, I would have been perfectly fine staying pregnant as long as I stayed pregnant, but since I DID have that day of labor, and I knew I was 4+cm dilated at that point, every day felt like it could be “the day”.  I was SO frustrated a few days later when all labor symptoms went away completely, as if nothing had ever happened.  It was also frustrating because I was wanting my mom to be there for the birth, but she and my dad were leaving for Michigan on Monday the 19th, so I felt like I was on the clock.  So many evenings I would get contractions, and a couple of those evenings, they would really kick in, making me think I would go to bed and wake up in full blown labor – but no.  They would always go away.  Right along with my sanity.

On Sunday the 18th we went to church.  I was 1 week “overdue”.  Here’s a friendly note: don’t go to church past your due date unless you are prepared to field eleventy billion questions and comments regarding the status of your pregnancy, your body, your activities, etc.

I was talking with my mom that afternoon, knowing that if I didn’t go into labor by that night, she and my dad wouldn’t be able to come up for the birth.  By early afternoon I had pretty much given up hope, and I told her as much, but told her I’d keep her updated and of course I would keep “trying to have a baby” (ha).  A few hours passed and I started getting some good, real contractions.  Nothing close together or super long, but they were nice and strong!  I was standing at the sink doing dishes and I realized they were getting to be a pattern, and they were getting closer together so I started timing them with my iPod, just out of curiosity.  Sure enough, they were coming consistently, about 7 or 8 minutes apart (if I remember right) and VERY strong!  I kept my mom updated, but tried super hard not to get my hopes up.

My mother-in-law texted me later that afternoon to let me know that she and my father-in-law were heading to bible study, and asked if I had any prayer requests.  I texted back that they could pray that these contractions kept up and turned into full on labor.  Around that time I texted my midwife to give her a heads up that I was having contractions, but didn’t want to cry wolf.  She called and we chatted and agreed that I would take a shower and see if they kept up.  I SO BADLY didn’t want these contractions to go away – at this point I was literally pacing around the house trying to make sure they didn’t go away.  I was afraid to change what I was doing for fear that *poof* everything would disappear.  I finally did take a shower, and was happy when the contractions stayed consistent (by this point they were closer together, I think less than 5 minutes apart and still strong, causing me to have to really concentrate through them).  I needed to get antibiotics for GBS+, I knew we needed to go to the birth center – but I was still SO paranoid that as soon as I got in the car, my labor would stall, and I did NOT want to leave that birth center without a baby in my arms!  But it was decided that this really did seem like the real deal, and I should come in anyway.

I called my mother-in-law to have her come over, and apparently they had JUST been praying for us and had JUST said Amen when her phone rang with my call I think that’s pretty cool.

In the last 2 labors, each time people came over, my labor would slow or stall out.  So when my mother-in-law came over I was making a huge conscious effort to stay calm and act as if it was no big deal, just trying to keep the adrenaline down.  Thankfully my contractions were still coming on strong, I even had to wait through a couple just to get in the car!  During the 1/2 hour car ride to the birth center, I expected things to slow down, as they always had, but instead things intensified!  Contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and very strong – this was NOT a comfortable ride!  However, I did tell Ryan not to worry about bumps or anything, because I wanted the contractions to keep up.  He still apologized every time we hit a bump in the road.

It was decided that this really WAS real labor, and even if it wasn’t, I wasn’t leaving without a baby, so I told my parents that if they were able to make it, I would love for them to come.  They left Ames around 8 and got to the birth center before midnight.

I didn’t get a cervix check when I got there, it was determined that I was clearly in labor and that we already knew I was 4-5cm dilated, so checking me wouldn’t really tell us anything more at this point.  Fair enough.

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My parents arrived around midnight so I got to see my dad for a bit before he headed on to our house to watch the kids and get some sleep.  My mom stayed and was exactly the labor support I needed.  Between her, Ryan, and nurse Jill, I felt completely taken care of – I could handle anything!  I spent my time pacing around the room trying to get the baby to move down, stopping to dance and rock during contractions.  My goal was to keep moving, hoping my body movements and gravity would help get the baby moving.  I snacked on grapes and fruit leathers, sipped on juice and water, and spent a few hard contractions on the toilet (holy hannah, those ones are no joke!  But I always tell my doula clients “mama doesn’t like toilet contractions, but baby loves them!”  It really helps move baby into a good position).  I did spend a little time in the shower, using the hot water as pain relief on my back while I sat on the birth ball.  The whole time I labored, I was getting periodic checks for baby’s heart rate, and it was great every time.

I got a cervix check at 2:00am and it was determined that the baby was still pretty high and I was 7-8cm and that my bag of water was bulging.  We had been saying all along (before I went into labor) that if my water broke, we were pretty certain the baby would be born soon after.  When my midwife (Amy) checked me, she agreed that if my water broke, baby would come down, I would finish dilating, and we’d have a baby.  And though I typically am VERY much in favor of leaving the bag of waters intact until they break on their own (mine have never broken on their own), I asked her to break my water so I could get in the tub and hopefully have a baby soon.  I went to the bathroom, and at 2:30 she broke my water.  I was 8cm, -2 station, and 95% effaced – and it was time for the tub!!!

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For you mamas that have never been able to labor in a big tub/whirlpool, my heart goes out to you.  The second I submerged myself into that water, I felt SO much pain relief!  In fact, I even had one good contraction in the water and thought to myself “oh my goodness, I should have done this long ago!”  It was glorious.

And then my body laughed at me and said “PSYCH!!”  From then, it was game on.  Contractions came on strong and hard and close together.  Just like in my labor with Tanner, I was getting cramps in my hips during contractions and I couldn’t find a good position to be in during them.  That sent me into a bit of a panic during those contractions – I moved and flipped and spun.

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My team was so good, coaching me and encouraging me to breathe and relax through the contractions, offering sips of Emergen-C between and reminding me to let my baby do the work right now.

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Around 3am I could no longer just breathe through the contractions.  My body took over and I began to push through the contractions.  Amy checked me and informed me that I still had a thick anterior lip (I wasn’t fully dilated) and that it was VERY important that I keep breathing and not push.  Sooo…  ummm…  yeah.  Telling a mama who is laboring naturally and having the natural urge to push to not push seems great in theory, but truly, it was out of my control.  I tried, I really really did.  But I couldn’t help it.  My body needed to push.  I felt and sounded very animalistic and not in control of my own body at this point.  I remember Jill holding me at one point and giving me one of those “hey you, pull yourself together, you HAVE to do what we tell you for your own safety!” speeches.

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I breathed.  I moaned.  I made noises that would probably scare my children.  I tried everything I could NOT to push.

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Despite my efforts, my baby was descending on it’s own.  Who needs mama to push, baby knows the drill!  The anterior lip went away.  I had reached down to feel my progress at one point and was encouraged that I could feel a head, but I knew it wasn’t “crowning” quite yet.  At about 3:10 I reached down again and was SHOCKED to feel my baby’s head – it was crowning and I could feet about an inch or so outside of my body!!  Amy let me know that I could gently ease the baby’s head out on the next contraction – and that’s what I did!  The baby’s head was out and I was still in shock!  Amy and Jill had to remind me that it was ok to push and that I had to get the rest of my baby out now.  One more push is all it took!!

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I did it!  I did it!!  I labored hard, I let my body do the work, and I CAUGHT MY BABY!!  Oh my goodness, I wish I could explain how I felt in that moment, but it’s indescribable.

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I felt proud, exhausted, exhilarated, happy, elated….  My baby was HERE!  The baby that surprised us with that little blue line 9 months before, the baby we hadn’t planned for, the baby that would complete our family…The baby I never knew I needed, was here!

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And SHE was beautiful Ryan was right – he was 4 for 4 on guessing our babies genders – it was a sweet little girl.  We named her Afton Dawn (Dawn is both my middle name and my mom’s middle name) and she was born at 3:12am with barely a voluntary push.  She was amazing.

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I had gotten my dream VBAC Waterbirth in a Birth Center.  I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better.

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I got out of the tub to “birth” the placenta, and Ryan cut the cord after it stopped pulsing.  Seriously, everything (aside from being overdue, haha) went exactly as I had hoped it would go.  I felt empowered and strong.

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And seeing Ryan wrapped around another baby girl’s finger?  Priceless.  He is such a sweet daddy.  He was so smitten, at first sight.

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And having my mom there?  Also priceless.  Our family has been through a lot over the last few years, so having her present at the birth of my 4th baby (she was also at the birth of my first baby, and was also a fantastic coach) meant so much to me.  It still brings me to tears thinking about how far we’ve come and how much God has done to heal our family – seeing her in these photos represents so much more than just a grandma holding her newest grandchild.  So so much more.

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We all hung out at the birth center for a few hours, Ryan had to work that morning, so he snuck a nap, and I rested and got some food in me.  We left the birth center 4 hours after Afton was born and I got to go home and introduce Cody, Tanner, and Trinity to their newest baby SISTER.  It was a dream.  Seriously – if you are in the area and are looking for a good birth center experience for your maternity care and birth, I can’t say enough good things about Health Foundations.

http://www.electriclimephoto.com/

All of the photos in this post were taken by the lovely Christina of Electric Lime.  She was so awesome, professional, and she gave me an unforgettable gift of birth photography, I can NOT thank her enough for capturing this once in a lifetime moment for me and my family!!  She even came to visit us a couple weeks after Afton’s birth and did a little lifestyle session in our home!  And you KNOW she’s talented because I was so overwhelmed with life at the time that my house was a disaster and she was still able to capture beautiful images without letting everyone know that my house was a mess.  Thank you Christina!

And thank you Dr. Amy (midwife) and Jill (nurse) for being nothing short of AMAZING during Afton’s birth!  I couldn’t have done it without my team (to include my mom and Ryan of course)!

Birth Story: "The Definition Of Perfection"

The birth of baby Revira

By Emily Grace Whebbe

In recounting our birth story, I finally fully understand the definition of a word I have used so many times: perfection.

Although I write this after a generous dose of oxytocin from breastfeeding, I will try not to embellish beyond belief. Perfection is a word and concept I rarely use or believed in, unsure of it's even existence. However, after going through the experience of childbirth and now being able to be a part of this incredible baby's life, I realize that what happened more than a week ago was as close to perfection as I could experience. Let's start at 3:00 a.m., Thursday, August 4th.

Baby Revira was born on August 4th, at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, to proud parents Emily Grace Whebbe and Kai Curry.

Kai had been working late for the last few weeks, trying to get a project done before the baby arrived, and came to bed around 2:00 a.m. I had been sleeping for only a few hours when I woke up for my 3:00 a.m. bathroom trip and noticed that some fluid was dripping out of me...a lot of it. I hurried to the bathroom convinced I was finally having the incontinence issue during pregnancy that I hadn't yet had. I was wrong.

"Um, Kai? I think my water just broke," I said calmly from the toilet. I was more amazed than scared, as if the entire pregnancy I wasn't fully convinced that it would conclude with actual labor. It felt like a science experiment had begun, as if I could say "Hey, Kai, the water is boiling" in a similar fashion.

Kai got out of bed and stopped at the fridge for a glass of water on the way to the bathroom. He sat down on the floor next to me and casually drank the water. "Are you ready?" I asked him. "Maybe you should just go back to bed," he said. I called Cheryl first, one of the midwives at the birth center. She gave me the same advice to go back to bed, monitor any contractions, eat something, take a shower, whatever I needed to do to prepare, but mostly just get some rest. She sounded excited and calming, having a tone of reassurance I had gotten used to throughout the pregnancy. So, I went back to bed.

Contractions started within 10 minutes of hanging up the phone. They were 10 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute. I laid there quietly and let Kai get some sleep. The contractions weren't that painful and I was excited that they were so timely and steady. I knew I'd have a baby in my arms within 24 hours.

By 6 a.m. I felt the urge to get out of bed and start preparing. I ate, took a shower, put in a load of laundry, and packed some last minute things. I politely told Kai, "If you have anything you want to do before we go, now is the time." He answered from bed "15 more minutes." I laughed, but knew he was tired and going into labor with little sleep wasn't going to be a good idea. We laid in bed a minute and my contractions slowed down. It felt so nice to be relaxed, in labor, and in his arms. But then, another contraction hit that was so intense I ran to the bathroom to throw up. Kai took this as a cue to get up as things were getting serious, and we started our birth journey, first by going to my mom's house to drop off our dog. I figured I'd labor there a little bit and get to the birth center around 10 a.m. if things were staying steady. After all, I had a prenatal appointment already scheduled then.

By the time we got to mom's, the contractions were pretty strong. Mom seemed nervously excited. Every 5 minutes or so I'd simply get down on all fours and do some breathing into the rug of choice and then get up and promptly go to the bathroom. I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad, I can just fall to the floor for the next few hours, no problem." However, I soon realized that things were becoming even more intense and I'd soon not be able to make the car ride to the birth center, so we were off. Being in a car during a contraction was the worst, but at least we were only a few minutes away.

We arrived at the birth center at 9:30 a.m. I walked straight into the birthing suite and got on the bed to have a contraction on all fours. Midwife Amy and her apprentice, Sky, were there to greet me. I was excited to show them my progress. I said something to the effect of, "So that's that," after the contraction ended. They smiled and started preparing quietly in the background as I labored. Sky brought me some "Emergen-C" to drink and nurse, Jill, made me some oatmeal. I'd have a contraction and then shove my face with food and drink before another one started.

Emily labors in the bathroom of the birthing center with her partner Kai, before the birth of their daughter, Revira.

Emily labors in the bathroom of the birthing center with her partner Kai.

I went through a few contractions and asked Amy if I could get in the tub. She said she'd rather have me wait a bit to make sure it wouldn't slow my progress to get in there. So I had about five more contractions and asked again. Now, instead of being mostly silent through them, I had begun moaning a bit. Amy said she'd start to fill the tub and I got more excited. I was in the tub for just a short time when I asked if Kai would join me as I wanted something to push against during a contraction. He didn't hesitate, as with the entire birth, he calmly did whatever I or the others asked of him. He was collected and encouraging; completely there for me and baby. Within what felt like an hour, but was probably more like two, Amy checked my cervix as I was feeling closer to wanting to push. She found that it was not fully open on one side and kept her hand there during a contraction to see if she could help it move a bit. It didn't seem to work, but I didn't get the sense that she was nervous. I was totally in my body and couldn't feel any outside anxiety or stress in the room. Everyone was calm and reassuring.

Amy told me that if I stuck my finger in just a little bit, I could feel the baby's head. I hesitated, but put my finger in only about 2 inches. I felt it. How amazing it was to know my body had already brought the baby's head that far! She could have said how far dilated I was, but instead, letting me feel the head made the progress more real, more encouraging that my body was doing exactly what it needed to be doing.

The contractions continued and were painful, but never unbearable. I breathed through them and would take a cleansing breath through my nose at the end. Sky massaged my legs, Kai put pressure on my back. Jill checked my cervix to confirm what Amy had found. Although they didn't tell me this at the time, they realized the baby was "occiput posterior" or "sunny side up," which means she was facing up toward my front rather than toward my back. This position makes pushing a baby out difficult because the very top of the head is against the cervix, instead of the crown, which is smaller. Jill confirmed that although it would take a bit more pushing, my pelvis was able to fit the baby's head through at this angle.

I'm sure some women would have wanted to know all these details during birth, but I'm happy I wasn't distracted with measurements, dilations and technical terms. I like that I was told what I needed to know, and what positions I could try rather than how far dilated or what an occiput posterior baby would mean (four hours of pushing for me!)

Amy asked politely if I could get out of the tub and have Amber, the birth center's resident chiropractor, take a look at my sacrum (my lower back). I was helped onto the bed and Amber laid her hands gently on my back during a contraction. From one contraction she could tell what needed to be adjusted. Kai was standing by my head and held my hand during each contraction. I remember pushing my face into his shorts, which were cool and wet from the tub. I could hear him breathe above all the other noises. In between contractions, I'd try to match his rhythm. I had my eyes closed, but I could feel him looking at me. Most importantly, I could feel his confidence in me, in my body, in our baby, and in the women surrounding us.

Amber adjusted my sacrum with a tool that made a snapping noise, but didn't hurt a bit. It felt great actually, releasing all the tension in my back. A few more contractions and Amy suggested I go to the bathroom to labor on the toilet or in the shower, anything upright to keep baby moving down. After Amber's adjustment, each contraction actually felt like the baby was moving further down. I had no urge to stop, wanting each contraction to come, only getting frustrated when they'd pause for longer than a few minutes. I welcomed them into my body, silently telling my baby to descend with each contraction. The pain and intensity was increasing and I told Kai, "If this isn't transition, I am not sure what is." Nobody seemed to believe me because I wasn't howling or asking for drugs or anything of the such.

It wasn't until everything was done that someone said it probably was transition, looking back. I amazed myself that I could talk through it instead of scream. All the stories we had heard mentioned transition being the time of wanting to give up or give into drugs. Those thoughts never crossed my mind. I trusted my body, and honestly didn't feel like I had time to think about anything else but remaining focused on each contraction and getting this baby out.

I went to the toilet, which was one of my favorite positions to labor. Not only could I go to the bathroom during a contraction (which would happen whether on the toilet or not), but I could also put my head on the assistance bar behind the toilet which was nice and cool. Then I went to the shower and Amy thought it would be a good idea to have a few contractions squatting. I waited for the burn of her head crowning to begin. I asked everyone how long it would be. Not long was all I could gather, but it still felt like it was taking forever to feel her crown. Amanda, another midwifery apprentice, was to my right, Kai to my left. I sat on the birthing stool in between contractions and squatted down during them, leaning my head on Kai's. Everyone continued telling me how amazingly well I was doing. I believed them, and agreed. I felt my baby descending, I felt it starting to burn, and finally I saw everyone put on a new pair of rubber gloves. I knew this meant I was close. Jill asked Kai if she could get him a granola bar, to make sure he wouldn't faint at the sight of things. He accepted.

A few contractions later her head was out and her body slipped out with ease immediately after. I sat on the stool and held her, pink and screaming nicely. She looked amazing and felt warm and soft. I loved it. As soon as I saw her face come out of me, I felt no pain. The rest of the room disappeared except for me, her, and Kai. It was 2:51 p.m., just nine minutes under 12 hours from start to finish.

Kai cut the cord after it was done pulsing. A few minutes later my placenta came out with a lot of blood and I was escorted to the bed to make sure I wasn't bleeding too much. I felt weak and shaky. Oxygen please. Kai lay next to me holding the baby. Thankfully, within a half hour I was stitched up (from tearing), breastfeeding, and laying in a cozy bed, not bleeding too much. I was happy. The baby was healthy and alert, I was healthy, Kai was the perfect companion for labor, and all the staff at the birth center worked together like a finely tuned machine.

We were alone in the room for a bit and Kai said, "I am so glad we had our baby here instead of a hospital." Amy, Amanda, Sky, Jill, and Amber were beyond my most wild expectations of what a birth team could be. They worked quietly in the background, but were there when I needed them. Everything they suggested helped. Everything I told them I wanted was upheld. They had reminded me to breathe through my nose, to push with all my energy toward my bottom. It was as if they were so knowledgeable and respectful of the birthing process that they were actually inside of my body with me. They knew exactly what I needed to do to work with my body in bringing this baby out.

Within six hours of birth, we were headed home to our own bed with our 7 pound, 2 ounce (3.23 kilogram for Kai), 19 3/4 inch baby girl, Revira. My baby sleeping on my chest in my bed was perhaps the best feeling I could have ever imagined. She is perfect, and I wouldn't change a thing about our birth. Thank you Amy, Sky, Amanda, Jill, Amber, Greta, and everyone at Health Foundations; and thank you Kai: of everything we've been through, this is by far the most incredible.

Birth Story: "How do you describe the ultimate miracle?"

The birth of baby Maia

by Jaime Fleres-Mizejewski

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I’m Late

Like many first time moms, I was fairly convinced my baby would greet the world sometime between 37 and 40 weeks and not a day later.  For some reason, I had it in my head that February 14, our due date, was the absolute last day she might arrive.  This, despite knowing first time mamas often deliver beyond their due dates.

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Week 37 came and went as I racked my brain for additional nesting activities—I’d been off work for weeks and there wasn’t another room to paint, rearrange or clean in the whole house! At this time, my intuition shifted too.  Though I was uncomfortably large (with a rockin' case of pubic symphysis pain) and baby was sometimes uncomfortably active, I had a new feeling she was quite content where she was.  I was unsure she’d ever want to leave her comfortable womb life.  Weeks 38 and 39 came and went.  So did our due date.

IMG_0216Like a slow motion film, the days crept by.  No baby.  Every day felt like Groundhog Day, the same day as the day before… again and again.  At first, I struggled: I was done with winter, done waiting; I was ready to hold my baby, ready to welcome this new chapter of my life.  It was crazy-making to spend every moment of every day prepared for labor and this radical life change to happen at any moment—like knowing an earthquake is going to hit, but not knowing when.

I spent a few days working myself into an anxious mess—I  actually cried through a lunch date, in public, with my hubby.  Nice one, J. I’d hit a low that wasn’t helping anyone and I resolved to forge a new perspective.  So I surrendered.  I simply decided to let it all go—the worry, the desire for control, the expectations, and the detrimental internal dialog.  I stopped telling myself “today is the day,” I stopped expecting labor at any moment, I stopped trying to will labor to begin, I stopped pretending I was in charge.  I just gave my best to surrender and trust in the mystery that is birth.

At about Day 10 post due, we had to start facing the reality that if she didn’t come in the next couple of days, we wouldn’t be able to birth naturally at the birth center.  Though this troubled me deeply, I tried to keep a vice grip on my new chosen outlook.  We had until Thursday February 28 to see if we could get this labor started naturally or we’d be looking at a hospital birth with medical interventions.

Inducing Labor

As of the Friday before, my cervix was showing no sign that labor was coming anytime soon.  We’d spend the weekend taking various natural measures to coax baby into the world (sex, evening primrose oil, taking walks, and acupuncture treatment). No labor.

By Monday morning, my cervix hadn’t changed, so we began the natural induction process.  For 24 hours, I wore a special catheter with two bulbs of water the size of limes pressing on either side of my cervix to help get it to soften and efface (open). The midwives and nurse said that if I opened to 5 cm it would fall out…but it didn’t.  It was an uncomfortable day.

The next morning, Day 12, I was only dilated to 1 or 2 cm, but my cervix had changed some so they removed the catheter and explained the herbal induction regiment I would begin.  This involved taking 4 ounces of castor oil.  The castor oil is meant to irritate the digestive system and so irritate the uterus, ideally prompting the latter into contractions.  I would also be taking some homeopathic medications and an herbal tincture, alternating the two every 15 minutes for 4 hours.

IMG_0247I was very excited and nervous to be starting this induction process, knowing that labor could be just around the corner.  I was advised to take the castor oil with a juice that I wouldn’t mind never drinking again.  I chose grape juice, since the only grape juice I like is called wine.  This combo was like taking a huge swig of motor oil and chasing it with Robitussin.  Yet, I guzzled down the whole concoction like it was a tequila shot and I was back in college.  It could have been worse.  It got worse.  The effect of castor oil is much like the worst food poisoning you've ever had.  Within 20 to 30 minutes or so, I met with something akin to Montezuma’s Revenge and spent much of the afternoon getting better acquainted with my bathroom.  It was quite a prelude to labor.

Early Labor

But it did the trick.  After kicking off the induction process at about 1 pm, early labor contractions began coming every 5 minutes by about 2:30 or 3:00 pm.  Billy and I spent the afternoon in our guest bedroom watching movies.  Well, he was in the guest room and I was mostly in the bathroom.  Labor continued through the afternoon.  At about 6 or 7, we went downstairs to cook a pasta carbonara dinner.  I made much of the dinner, stopping every few minutes to brace myself through contractions, which were still coming pretty regularly but were manageable.

After dinner, we returned to our little labor cocoon upstairs.  I spoke with our midwife, who suggested that I take another dose of castor oil (the opposite of what I was hoping to hear!) but in kindness, she cut my dose in half.  By 10pm, contractions had slowed a little bit, with some coming closer to 7 minutes apart, and I worried labor was waning.  But I kept my spirits up.  Billy and I decided to try to rest a little.

Active Labor

By midnight, labor had shifted from early labor contractions to more intense and frequent active labor contractions.  They were coming every one to five minutes, some lasting a minute, some a little less.  They were much more intense than the earlier contractions and required my focused breathing and vocalization to ride each wave.  Billy, half asleep, offered the verbal support I needed to stay confident and in the moment with each new rush.  Like a narcoleptic running a 100-meter dash, I managed to get through the intense physical exertion of a contraction, pass out for a few moments, and be jolted back into wakefulness with the next wave.   This lasted only a brief time, until I was just up, laboring hard, for the next six hours or so. I did well at staying present for each contraction and preventing mind chatter from adding any suffering to the physical pain.  I was just experiencing and witnessing this awesome primal process.

As morning crept up, Billy called our doula, Greta, and they decided together that this would be a good time for her to join us at the house, since labor was definitely progressing.  Until this point, I’d been laboring solely in the side lying position, which felt good and safe, but I wasn’t sure if it was ideal in getting labor to progress.  I really didn’t want to move, which was surprising since I thought I'd be more active through labor.

When Greta arrived, she suggested we try a few other positions.  We went into our bedroom and I got on the big birth/exercise ball.  I didn’t like being upright at all.  The pressure added by gravity was great and the contractions were more difficult to get through.  My mind began to resist, but I tried to trust that this was helping labor progress.  Since it was morning, we decided the shower might be a good change of positions, though Greta warned that it could bring on harder contractions.  It was hard to stand through contractions, so we brought the ball into the shower.  The shower felt great but labor was really intense so the experience was short.

Afterward, Greta suggested I sit on the toilet and labor there for a while, as it was a good position to keep labor rocking.  I did NOT like this!  It was the discomfort of the ball times ten and I felt too exposed and a little scared.  My mind frantically searched for a way out of this experience.  Something.  Anything.  I tried to negotiate with Greta and Billy—if I could just rest on the bed for a few minutes, I’d promise to return to this godforsaken position if we thought my labor was slowing down.  It worked!

Ah, back to the bed, my safe place. Labor only continued to intensify and I was able to remain in my little cocoon, wrapped in towels and blankets, howling like a warrior woman, with Billy and Greta watching over me.  At some point, maybe around 8am, Billy spoke with our midwife Amy.  Because of Billy’s calm demeanor in the face of nearly any event, he might have under-expressed the state of my laboring.  However, once Amy heard me in the background she likely gained a better idea of our progress.  Nevertheless, she suggested I try to eat something and then we would touch base with them again.   Greta, so kindly, spoon-fed me bites of oatmeal between contractions.  At this point, I remember keeping my eyes closed, totally disinterested in food, feeling utterly exhausted and increasingly nauseous.  In retrospect, I realize I was moving into transition.

Oneness

Whilst feeding me oatmeal, Greta intuitively asked if I was experiencing any strong thoughts or feelings I needed to express in order to move forward in labor.  I thought about it for a moment.  I could feel my dad’s presence very strongly at that time (he is in spirit) and I tried to communicate an ineffable experience.  I commented, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I don’t just feel my dad around me, in some weird sense, I feel like I am my dad.” This sense of oneness with him makes perfect sense to me—not only were my dad and I really close, but I felt I was experiencing the same utter surrender and need for support in labor that he experienced with his cancer.  I understood him perfectly in that moment.

In the early days with Maia, I also experienced this same sense of oneness with her—like I understood her from the inside and that we were the same person in some way (which I suppose we’d been for quite some time!).  Of course, these oneness experiences all unfolded during the process of my bringing forth a separate being from my single body.  So, in a way it makes sense.  Birth offers a glimpse into the Mystery and an experience of Truth, in this case that we truly are all one, which is often just a pretty concept in my mind.

Transition

Anyhow, labor started to ramp up once again and it felt like my contractions didn’t end—they just went from a ten down to a seven and then back up again.  I was deep in a place within, tapping my inner reserves for all the strength and energy I could muster.  As things got really hazy (And loud!), I experienced something new: pushing.  At least two of my contractions on our guest bed went from “regular” squeezing contractions to all-out involuntary pushing.

“I’m pushing, you guys!” I was surprised and for a moment thought for sure I was going to deliver this baby right there on the bed!  I actually reached down to see if I could feel her head.  It felt that close.

It was really time for us to go.  But that was the very last thing I wanted to do.  The idea of actually getting up and going somewhere seemed ridiculous if not completely impossible.  “Please just call the midwives and ask them to come over,” I begged. They had to come to us; there was just no way I could move.  Despite my certain belief that I was immobile, I had such full trust in Greta and Billy that I complied when they insisted we go to the birth center.  They swore that I could do this.  I had to do this.

During pregnancy, the transition phase of labor made me nervous—I’d heard it was one of the most challenging times in labor, those moments when you were most likely to feel defeated, if not certain you were going to die.  And here I was looking at the prospect of actually getting in the car and travelling to a new place during this phase of labor.  Birth brings you right into your fears, forces you to look them dead in the eye, and offers you a chance to move through them.  When I knew that I needed to go (and go now!) I rallied and did what I needed to do.  I decided that after a contraction subsided a little, I needed to run downstairs and out to the car.  I was completely paralyzed during contractions, so this was the only way it would work.

Greta and Billy somehow dressed me, and I was ready to make a dash.  I only made it to the back door, before a contraction forced me to collapse on the floor for a couple minutes or more.  After it slowed down, I jolted up and ran through the backyard’s bright morning sunshine, hoping to at least make it to the car before another one started.  Just barely.  I jumped in the car, pushed the seat all the way back, and another double overhead transition wave came crashing all around me.  This one lasted, no exaggeration, the entire 5 to 7 minute ride to the birth center.  It just never let up.  I didn’t think, I just howled like mad through the contraction and hoped that the baby didn’t pop out on the floor.  Once we arrived at the birth center, I had a moment’s break to run to the door, through the reception area, into the birth room and on to the bed.  I barely made it.

At the Birth Center

We arrived sometime just before 10 am. Through a hazy half-glance, I saw Jill, our fabulous nurse, prepping to check my cervix.  “Jill, you better tell me I’m at a ten,” I muttered.  She checks and chuckles, “Oh yeah, you are there sweetheart.”  It was time for me to push (some more!).

I had a few more super intense contractions on the bed, as people came in and out of the room, preparing for the birth.  I was happy to see the familiar faces of Amy, Amanda, and Monica, our midwives, and I felt complete trust and peace in the situation.  I was in good hands and right where I needed to be.

Water Birth

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They drew a bath and suggested I get in for the pushing part of labor.  I was happy for this choice, as I wanted to deliver in water if it was a good option for us.  Though it felt a little scary to move, I made my way to the tub and got on all fours.  I labored like this for a while, as contractions turned to full force pushing.  Everyone was around me; encouraging me and helping me focus my energy during each intense wave.  Pushing is no joke; it’s like trying to move a mountain.  I resolved to give it every ounce of my strength and energy, giving way more than I ever knew I had.  Like contractions before, I had a good couple minute break to gather my strength in between each pushing wave.

My water broke in this position, and the team told me there was meconium in the water.  Meconium is poop the baby released in the womb, which can impede their airways as they take their first breaths.  Amanda calmly explained that it was going to be okay, they were going to suction her right away to clear her airways and then they’d hand her over to me.

maiabirth_0011I changed positions another two times, once to a reclined position the long way in the tub, with my hands bracing myself up and my legs spread.  (Fantastic birth tub, by the way!) Then, Amanda suggested I get into that same position the short way in the tub, so I could really open my pelvis and bring my legs up.  I was in this position for another half a dozen or so pushes, I think, before Maia was born.  Those last couple of pushing waves were the ultimate finale to labor—I gave everything I could and tried my hardest to push her out quickly but not too fast.  Greta later told me she felt like I had this amazing protective energy surrounding me and that I was in a deep place somewhere slightly removed.  Looking back, it feels like one of those dreams where you are hovering above your body watching things happen to you.

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I was able to reach down and feel Maia’s head a few minutes before she was born.  It was indescribable.  I held her, crowning, between a set of pushes, which the midwives said would help my tissues stretch.  I remember my strongest motivator at this moment was Billy—I could hear the joy in his voice as he caught the first glimpses of his daughter and I wanted so badly to give him the experience of seeing her.  It was a selfless and pure wish for him.

Maia is born

maiabirth_0021I pushed her out with the next wave.  Maia was born at about 11:11 am on Wednesday February 27, 2013.  It was an intense physical experience, but I was in the haze.  This haze makes it hard to describe with accuracy what happened next—and so many things seemed to happen all at once.

I remember seeing Amanda holding Maia up by her feet.  Maia was crying.  I didn’t see but I know they suctioned her.  Also, the umbilical cord burst when Maia was born, sending blood all over the place.  They clamped it, and before I knew it she was on my chest.

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I don’t know if I have words to describe the feeling of first holding Maia.  I mean, how do you describe the ultimate miracle?  It was pure joy, and awe, and wonder; I loved her instantly and intensely.  She was more beautiful than I could imagine.  I was meeting someone I’d waited my whole life to love.

Little Emergency

But the tub seemed to be getting darker and darker with blood, so they asked me to hand Maia to dad and get out of the tub.  I was still completely in the Birth Fog, so I just followed other’s directions without much thought.  But as soon as I got out of the tub, saw blood pouring all around me, and the flurry of action on part of the birth team, some distant part of me became a bit concerned.  As they helped me to a birth stool, I recall asking if everything was going to be okay, but the Fog blocked true worry from my mind.  I birthed my placenta, but my uterus had a hard time contracting as is necessary to avoid excessive blood loss.  I was bleeding profusely. So I received the full treatment—a couple of injections in my thigh and a gritty pill in my mouth, lots of painful pushing on my belly, buckets being filled with blood and tissue—and after a while, the hemorrhage emergency seemed to subside.  (Thanks to the competence and quick action of the birth team.  Total rock stars.)  This experience scared the bejeses out of poor Billy.

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Holding new life

I was helped to the bed and -- after a little more serious pushing on my uterus to ensure the bleeding has ceased -- I got to hold Maia again.  After that, she was really all I could focus on.  I was so exhausted and weak but I just wanted to hold and discover her.  Greta helped me learn how to nurse her and we worked on different holds for a while.  Maia was a fantastic and eager nurser from that very first try.  I am so grateful for that.  Billy and I snuggled in to stare in wonder at our new little love.

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The things going on around me are a little blurry in my memory.  I recall Amanda bringing over the placenta and showing it to us (she later encapsulated it for us).  I recall Amy telling me lots of important and helpful information I instantly forgot :).  I remember Greta offering me a tropical tasting drink and more water.  I ate pizza from Pizza Luce.  They gave Maia her first physical exam and she was healthy as could be (though they heard a heart murmur that would resolve itself in a matter of days).  Maia weighed eight pounds exactly and was 20 inches long.  She had a good cry from the start.

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I soon discovered another cause of my profuse bleeding—I had torn badly—through my inner and outer labia and a little on my perineum.  Apparently Maia stuck her hand up by her head as she was making her grand entrance and it ripped through my tissues.  Amanda also told me her head had rotated around as she came out of the birth canal, creating a wider space upon passage.  Amy spent at least an hour stitching me up—it took at least 40 stitches to get the job done.  She did a great job. This birth was beautiful but very physically taxing.

maiabirth_0079In all, we stayed at the birth center about 5 hours after the birth.  We left at about 4:30 in the afternoon and headed home.  We had great hopes of sleeping soon, as we were told babies usually sleep 6 to 8 hours at home after the birth.  Well, she didn’t exactly get this message until the next morning.  Eventually, after lots of exhausted activity I cannot really recall, we slept from about 4am to maybe 10am, the longest stint of sleep we’d have for weeks to come.

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But alas, our beautiful baby girl is in the world.  We had an amazingly beautiful birth experience and came out stronger than I thought possible.  Billy was so proud of me in the coming days; it was the greatest feeling in the world.  Maia and I did it.  We did it together surrounded in love and support from some truly remarkable people.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  I am so grateful.

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Most photos by: EyeSpy Photography

Join us for the 2013 HF Family Picnic!

Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 3.20.17 PM Please join us in just two weeks on Saturday June 22, 2013 for our annual Health Foundations Birth Center Family Picnic!  We welcome our expectant and veteran families and friends to spend the day with us, enjoying great food and company!  We will be supplying all the tasty lunch food (pizza truck!!!); please bring a dessert to share with everyone.  If it is warm, bring your little ones' swimsuits for the splash pool!

Time: 11am to 2pm

Location: Minnehaha Park | Wabun Picnic Area | Pavilion D

Please RSVP by the June 15th to info@health-foundations.com

We look forward to seeing you there~  Let’s hope for sunshine!

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Grand Old Days 2013: Celebrating our Community

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Grand Old Days volunteers: Thank you!

It’s Monday and we are still basking in the glow of this weekend’s fun festivities.  So many wonderful Health Foundations moms, dads, and kids took time out of their busy lives to make this year’s Grand Old Days Festival one of the best yet!  We want to share our gratitude for all who helped make this year such a success:

Thank you to the families who came out on Saturday to build our fantastic float and fabulous new sign. Thanks to the many parents and kids who woke up early on Sunday morning to join us for the parade walk. And thanks to all who stopped by The Lactation Station to nurse and mingle with us throughout the day!!

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Health Foundations Building Community

Beyond fun, this weekend's community festival encouraged us to stop and reflect on what Health Foundations IS to our team, the families we serve, and our larger community.

Health Foundations is so much more than a place to give birth or receive quality health care—it is a place where people’s dreams are made possible, where families grow and where community is built. 

While the core of our work is helping families have a healthy and empowering birth experience, we also strive to cultivate a vibrant birth and parenting community.

Whether it’s…

…expectant moms in the waiting room swapping pregnancy stories…

… parents who entrust us to help deliver their babies…

… Milk Hour and Mom’s Group mamas supporting each other through early motherhood…

…or the new friendships we saw forged amongst moms, dads and kids at Grand Old Days…

…Health Foundations is about nourishing relationships and creating a supportive birth and parenting community in the Twin Cities.

And we could not do that without you.

Whether we got a chance to see you this weekend or not, we are so glad you are part of our Health Foundations family.  Thank you!!!

Upcoming Events

If you were not able to partake in this year’s Grand Old Days festivities, don’t dismay!  There are lots of fun upcoming events we hope you’ll be part of.  Our Family Picnic will take place in just a couple weeks on June 22, 2013.  Hope you can join us~ stay tuned for details!

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Photos by Annie Wiegers Photography