birth story

Birth Story: Louise Wynne Kelley - Right on Time

*All photos by Meredith Westin Photography

August 2017 5 weeks pregnant

Early in our pregnancy my husband and I traveled to Colorado and climbed to the top of Aspen Mountain. The concierge at our hotel said it was 2-3 hours long. I was confident I could do it and that it wouldn't be "that hard".  After an hour and a half we reached a beautiful scenic overlook, took in the view, and started out on what we thought must be the final summit of our climb.  Quickly I realized we still had a LOT to climb; more than half; and each part steeper than the previous. I told myself one breath at a time. One step at a time. You got this. You are doing this. These are all things I've learned help mamas in their journey from my career as a doula.  As my mindset wavered and doubt crept in, my cheerful husband was 3 steps ahead of me telling me how great I was doing. Even though I wanted to roll my eyes (ok I did roll my eyes a couple times) and negative thoughts filled my head (like: what were you thinking, you are so out of shape) I leaned into his cheerful positive attitude, took a deep breath, and willed myself to know I could reach the summit.  The view from the top was more beautiful than I could have imagined.  I couldn’t have been more happy to have accomplished the trek.

40 weeks

I actually wanted to be “overdue”.  Who says that?  I do. I guess I was just savoring my pregnancy and trying to get all the things done.  I tend to be a procrastinate, so I am glad my baby got the drift that she shouldn’t be too prompt with her entrance.  As a childbirth educator I knew my body was right in line with the statistics.  Studies show that on average, first time mothers deliver 3-5 days past their guess date.

I remember receiving a text from a mama friend on my due date saying, “Is today your guess date?  Thinking of you, mama.  Way to grow that baby well. Xoxo”  I had never thought of it that way before.  How thoughtful.  Yes, my body was freaking amazing for carrying another human being inside for that long!   I was able to finish my Spinning Babies Educator Training amidst the worst snowstorm in April history on my “guess date” weekend.  Gail Tully and her team along with Phyllis Klaus touched my belly and gave me all the good birth juju I could ever desire.

40 weeks 5+ days

After making an admittedly poor choice to drive 30 minutes to sell old workout clothes to make some extra cash, I swore off ever driving more than 2 minutes for the rest of my pregnancy.   My baby was squished so high inside and when I was driving, it felt as though her knees were in my throat.  Either that or the onset of early labor was causing nausea.  I had finally decided I was ready for this baby to come. That night in the bathtub I told my baby it was ok if she came now.  I was ready for her.

Later that night,around 11 PM, I started having mild cramping. I was up intermittently throughout the night, but was still able to sleep. In the morning I told my husband to go to work and I would let him know if anything changed.

40 weeks 6 days

With fervor and mild urgency I dusted, vacuumed, did the dishes, and set up my birth altar. Nesting is REAL, people.  The dustmites had no chance of surviving.  I had intentions to meet a friend for coffee but I canceled.  In my work as a doula I always suggest to my clients and students to “carry on” with their regular daily life in early labor, but I absolutely could not imagine being in a coffee shop with these cramps.  Around 9 AM I texted my Doula to let her know something might be happening.  She called me right away to let me know she was headed to another birth. I wasn’t worried.  Nothing major was happening.  After speaking with me for several minutes she sensed I may be further along than I thought.  She got extra bonus points for calling my husband herself and telling him to come home from work. Shortly after he arrived home with several bags of groceries in a super excited mood -  Because, “Hey! he was going to have a baby soon!” - I resorted to the bathtub. 

I texted my sister. She has four kids, but if the stars miraculously aligned, we were hoping she could be there for the birth.

I was in denial that labor was starting and before I knew it there was no room to “think”.  As the contraction waves became regular and strong I was soon in labor land. 

My Doula arrived fresh off another birth.  At this point every contraction required my full attention and was matched with a calm and steady, low, deep moan. Hands and knees became my savior.  I was climbing the mountain.   I called Kate, my midwife to let her know things had started and she asked me to start timing contractions. They were coming about every five minutes.  She said she would finish up what she was doing and head over.  She arrived just before 4 PM and sneakily checked baby’s heart rate and my vitals during and after contractions.  Side Note - We hired Kate without even interviewing other homebirth midwives.  She was confident, caring, gentle, smart, and intuitive.  She made our decision to have a homebirth feel easy and safe.

All of a sudden I felt a big bulge in my underwear. My water had broken. Viola!  The magic compression of those strong contractions was moving baby down and out. There was a little bit of meconium in the water so my midwife kept a close eye on our vitals.

Kate asked if I would like to be checked cervically. I was open to the check, but didn’t want to know the number. Thank goodness I asked not to know.  Later, I would find out I was only two centimeters. I think I would’ve lost it after having had these hard contractions for nearly 5 hours.

Around this time my sister arrived and brought her goddess mama energy with her.  She called in the troops to help watch her children and made it happen to be present for me.  She has a calm presence and I was so glad she was there (she’s the one holding me up in the pushing pictures).

The next several hours were kind of a blur. All I remember is breathing, having my support team right next to me, and thinking "holy crap I never thought it would feel like this". I told myself, one contraction wave at a time. There were thoughts of doubt in my mind but I reminded myself I can do it - I can climb this mountain. And sometimes I even repeated that out loud. “I can do it.  I can do it.  I can climb this mountain”.  We all giggled at the fact that I naturally started rehearsing the word “ouchie” during contractions.  It was my ritual and it seemed to help.  I stared at my affirmation cards hanging on the wall and stared at spots on the floor just to focus my attention.  I labored in the shower, on the floor, in the bed, and eventually my midwife said it was OK for me to labor in the birth tub (Sometimes women relax when they get into the birth tub so they don’t want you to get in there too soon in case it slows labor).

Holy Jesus that tub felt amazing. I remember saying how good it felt, and in my head  I thought “I’m never getting out of here”.

Around 8PM my midwife checked my cervix for the second time, and I wanted to know my dilation. I don’t remember exactly but I think I was a six-ish on one side and then eight-ish on the other. She thought my baby’s head was coming down at a little bit of an angle creating the uneven dilation on each side.   

Kate suggested a seemingly horrific series of different movements to help baby’s head realign. I rolled my eyes at this suggestion. In her sweet voice I remember her saying, “I know you are in labor. Sweet Amy would never have rolled her eyes at me otherwise.”  As a Doula I know certain positions make the contractions more intense, but in the long run it’s worth it as it makes labor shorter.  I would do anything to make this shorter so I obliged.  I had to do each movement for three contractions.  Three contractions on my back in the water.  Three contractions leaning on the left side.  Three contractions leaning on the right side.  And three contractions on my hands and knees.  Eye roll ensued.  I felt so proud when I had actually finished what they suggested. 

Meanwhile, I caught glimpses of my support team sneaking sleep; making smoothies, and seamlessly moving in support of my baby’s arrival.  I was comforted to know they were taking care of themselves. 

The pain in my hips was intense.  The hip squeeze did me no good, but I did find a little reprieve as my doula Alicia shook the hell out of my poor hips with the rebozo.  I thought my hips were going to split apart at one point.  But alas, I am here to tell my story.  My hips did not split apart.  My pelvis is intact.  It boggled my mind to think my sister went through this 4 times and even birthed one baby that was over 10 lbs!  Thinking of that helped me stay present.  I can do this.  I got this.  I am going to make it to the top of the mountain.  I thought of all my strong clients who pushed their babies out.  I thought of all my amazing friends who surrounded me at my blessingway with their words of wisdom.  I started to trust myself.  My body started to open.  Around 11pm I unintentionally and unavoidably started to grunt at the end of every contraction.  I knew this was a great sign-  my body was starting to push! 

I knew pushing could take hours so I tried to not look at the clock and not think about time.  I gave every contraction my full attention.  I grunted and when it felt there was room for more, I started pushing.  The pushing lasted for a little less than 2 hours.  I remember asking my birth team, “Can you just pull her out?”,  clearly, I had to finish the task.  We tried several positions.  Ultimately, my doula grabbed her rebozo and used it as a support/pushing tool.   That seemed to do the trick.  More and more of my sweet baby's head became visible with each push, and soon enough her whole head was out.  For an entire minute her head was out.  Then one final push.  My husband caught her body and handed her right to me.  She was plump, with a head full of hair, long fingernails, tons of vernix, and the sweetest most alert eyes.  She came out making eye contact with all of us around her.  Her (dog) sister, Harriet, peeped her head up onto the birth tub just as Louise was born.  I truly can’t imagine birthing anywhere else or with anyone else. 

If I could choose three words to describe my birth it would be empowering, supported, and intense!  Labor and birth is surely physical and extremely mental - Kind of like climbing a mountain.   If you can let go of the doubts, breathe into your strength, and acknowledge your progress one contraction at a time, the whole timeline of everything might not seem so daunting. Having a hardcore team of cheerleaders alongside you makes all the difference.  I could not have done it without my husband, our midwife, birth assistant, photographer, doula, sister, and my doggie doula.  I am forever grateful.

Written by Amy Kelley, Doula, Blooma Childbirth Educator, Prenatal Yoga & Kids Yoga Instructor.  You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula

 

Thank Goodness for the Prep Work! Margaret's Birth Story

“Giving birth can be the most empowering experience of a lifetime – an initiation into a new dimension of mind-body awareness.” ~Ina May Gaskin

As soon as I got pregnant I read everything related to pregnancy and childbirth. I wanted to know what to expect, and what I could do to ensure everything went smoothly.

I opted to take Hypnobirthing class through Blooma (shout out to Channing!).  

Hypnobirthing provided me with information about what to expect in the different stages of labor, and offered several techniques to help me cope with the sensations, thoughts, and emotions that pop up during childbirth.  It also provided a platform for my husband and I to talk about my wishes during labor and birth, and how he could best support me.  It helped him to know what to look for as I was going into labor and what he could expect.  Which, it turned out would be very helpful in my labor and birth.

As a part of Hypnobirthing you do daily work on affirmations and visualizations.  These were incredibly helpful for me on so many levels.  It not only helped me work through my own fears leading up to my labor and delivery, it helped me cope with the new experiences I was having in pregnancy empowering me as “labor-day” drew near. 

Doing this work helped me to honor and trust in my body and my son to birth safely.  These things that I practiced turned out to be critical, allowing me to have a labor experience that left me feeling happy and empowered.

I had measured “big” all along, and was so convinced my son would come early. I think every first-time mom thinks this - or is it just me?  I remember my midwives telling me that it’s normal for a first-time mom to go past her guess date.  I also remember thinking “yeah, okay – but that won’t be me”. The universe was laughing in my face.  It was a full eight days after my guess date that I went into labor. Nine days post-guess date my son, Crosby, joined us Earth-side. 

By labor started with a false-alarm water breaking (being that pregnant in the height of the summer – one never knows).  After this false alarm I was having inconsistent surges/contractions.  This went on for several days…

Finally, on Friday, August 3rd, I hit a mental break.  I had been having surges irregularly for at least 24 hours and I felt like I was not progressing AT ALL.  I remember thinking I was going to be in this in-between state forever.  As these surges continued, I utilized my breathing skills that I had been practicing and continued my affirmations.

After two phone calls to the midwife, an increasing pressure and discomfort low in my pelvis, and continued inconsistent surges, I was convinced I was in very early labor or prodromal labor. I consciously welcomed the sensations that I was feeling and let them flow.  In fact, I remember wanting to feel more of it – because I knew that would mean we were getting somewhere!

Eventually, I felt like I needed to use the restroom, so I tried, and tried, and tried.  I didn’t need to go to the bathroom - it was a head, my sons head. In the moment I was confused. Listening to my body I thought I was progressing, but because of my irregular surges and after my conversations with the midwife I was convinced I wasn’t even close to birthing this baby. (Side note: my husband was NOT confused – he knew what was up.  But remained a steadfast observer and supporter.)

Before I knew it, my body sprang into action.  I felt a surge coming and my whole stomach bore down! After a conversation with my husband, and a call to the midwife, we were on our way to the birth center!

These pushing surges continued and about 30 minutes later we arrived at the birth center.  My midwife checked baby, I got in the water, I was checked, and he was on his way out!

This is where things got good! The water was AMAZING.

This was a happy phase for me – it felt good that my baby was coming, that I was in a comfortable space surrounded by the support team I trusted.  I worked with my body and breathed through the pushing phase. This is really where I feel the techniques that I had learned and practiced paid off!  About 2 hours after arriving at the birth center, we had our baby boy.  It was the most crazy and surreal experience.  I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

In the moment, I couldn’t tell you what stage of labor I was experiencing, but I knew to use my breath. I knew how to build support around me that allowed me to get through the moments of fear. The months prior to my birth, I had been learning and practicing so that I could put these lessons into action. It felt so good to work with my body as I brought my dear boy into this world.  My experience would not have been the same if I did not put in the work.  By preparing and practicing coping skills I set myself up for success.

Doing the work, taking time to educate yourself (and your partner), preparing your mind and body, and sharing your wishes with your support team are amazing steps you can take to create an amazing and empowering birth experience.

Written by Margaret Achu – Certified Health Coach, Occupational Therapist, Mama You can follow me on Instagram @coach_margaret_achu or check out my website margaretachu.com

To schedule a Health Coach appointment with Margaret, you can contact her at coach@margaretachu.com,  or you may schedule an introductory session through Blooma’s Wellness page.

Is This Really Happening? Becca's Birth Story

"Ugh, here we go again," I thought, “more Braxton Hicks contractions.” I was sitting down to eat dinner with my three-year-old. We had just gotten home from the neighborhood wading pool, where I unabashedly stuffed my gigantic belly into a swim suit and floated on my hands and knees among all the small children in the pee-laden pool water. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions through the second half of my pregnancy, but in the last few weeks they had really picked up momentum. They had become intense, and I was certain I would have to endure them for another week, at which point my midwives would tell me my time was up and I had to schedule a c-section. I was trying for a VBAC, so I was on a much tighter time schedule. My first was born at 42 weeks and six days via beautiful c-section, after 45 grueling hours of labor. Even though I was really hoping for a VBAC, I was unconvinced it was something my body was going to do. My care providers told me, "Trust your body," and that was a really nice idea, but I was having a hard time getting there. 

So there we were, Arthur and I, still in our swimsuits, eating dinner. My husband, Mike, was at work. He wasn't scheduled to work that evening, and even though it was my due date, he was also unconvinced that this baby was coming any time soon. So, he picked up an extra shift. About ten minutes into dinner, I realized the contractions were happening pretty regularly. "Huh," I thought, "maybe I should download one of those contraction-tracking apps." So I did, and I immediately realized I was having contractions that were one minute long and five minutes apart. "Hmm," I thought again, "maybe I should pay attention to this."

The contractions kept coming at regular intervals, and I took Arthur in the backyard to play with the neighbor boys. After 30 minutes it seemed like things might be getting more intense, but I was in full denial that this was actually labor. “Mommy, are you ok?” asked my sensitive, perceptive little guy. “Yeah, mommy’s ok. I just have a tummy ache.” I was sure this would pass and we would continue on with our night as usual. But I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, so I called my mother-in-law, Susie, and asked if she would come over. She got so excited and asked if she should take Arthur to her house for the night. "No," I said, "I'm sure this is nothing. Will you just come play with him for a while and help me with beditme? I'm sure this will go away." Well, in ten minutes, it most definitely was not going away, it was getting stronger. I called over the fence to the neighbors, "I think something might be happening. Can you watch Arthur until Susie gets here?" I went inside and frantically started picking up the house, and before I even realized it, I was bracing myself and breathing through contractions. Time to text the doula. 

Me: Something's happening.

Nicole (one of my amazing doulas): Oh yeah? 

Me: But I'm sure it's nothing.

Nicole: Do you want me to come over?

Me: No, I don't think so. 

Nicole: Are you having contractions?

Me: Yeah, they're a minute long and five minutes apart.

Nicole: Well, that's something! Is Mike there?

Me: No, he's at work.

Nicole: Maybe you should have him come home.

Me: I don't think so. I'm sure it's nothing. 

 

But, I went ahead and texted him…

 

Me: Hey babe, I'm feeling some intense stuff here.

Mike: Great! Ignore it.

Me: I know, right? I'm sure it's nothing.

Mike: Keep me informed. I love you!

I continued to brace myself and breathe through the contractions. "Maybe I should take this seriously," I thought. "Nah, I'll just get in the bath." But first I called Nicole. We talked through two contractions, and she said she was coming over. "You're in labor!" she announced. "You think so?" I asked. I was still unconvinced. "I'm going to take a bath," I told her, “and it will probably go away. Door’s open – come on in when you get here."

I called Mike and told him he should think about coming home. "Ok, should I keep taking tables? Or just finish out what I have?" I told him he should probably finish his tables and head home. "Do you think this is it?" he asked. "I don't know. I think so. I don't know," I said.

I sat in the bath for exactly 30 seconds and said aloud to myself, "Get me the hell out of here." I was so uncomfortable.

I think that's when I finally accepted that I was in labor. I started frantically throwing Arthur's overnight things in a bag. "He can't see me have a contraction," I thought, "he'll be so freaked out." Susie came bursting through the door then, and I shoved the overnight bag at her, and asked her to get Arthur out of there as soon as possible. She watched me have a few contractions and joked that I might have a home birth after all (which is what I had wanted with the first one). She was very concerned to leave me alone. I knew Nicole would be there soon. I couldn't get Susie and Arthur out of there fast enough. I knew I couldn't let my body do its thing until Arthur was out of my care. For months I had been in tears every time I thought about this moment - letting go of Arthur as my baby and turning my attention to a new baby. I had envisioned this would be a heartfelt moment, with prolonged hugs and kisses, as I said goodbye to my little boy who would be a big brother the next time I saw him. But there was no time for that. In between contractions I gave him a quick kiss and shoved him and his grandma out the door. 

A few contractions later Nicole arrived. "Is Mike on his way home?" she asked. I wasn't even sure. Did I tell him to come right home? Things were getting so intense that I couldn't really remember or bother with my phone. Thank god for doulas. The details get a little blurry from here, as I instinctively moved to my hands and knees and started making that all-too-familiar moaning sound I had made three years earlier. I was kneeling on the floor with my head on the couch, thinking, "I can do this. I got this. I can do this for ten hours." I had prepared myself to last 12 hours; that was my max. I knew I could labor that long. Past that, I was giving myself permission to wave the white flag. I was determined not to have a repeat of the marathon labor I had with my son. I was left traumatized by that birth. Deep down, I didn't really care how this baby came out - via VBAC or via c-section. What I did care about was having a different birth than the first - one that didn't last for 45 hours. I was already one hour in. I could do this for quite a while longer. And hey, I could get an epidural at the hospital. Yep, I got this.

Thirty minutes later Mike came through the front door, saw me on hands and knees, and heard the familiar moaning, and he knew it was real. “That’s a noise you don’t really forget,” I remember him later telling the doulas when the birth was over. "Ok guys, I'm going to pee, then we need to go," I announced. This most definitely WAS happening.

On the short walk from the house to the car, things got ugly. I crawled into the backseat and turned circles like a dog trying to find a comfortable spot. This was really happening. Like REALLY happening. In the next five minutes I had five contractions. I was panicking and climbing the walls of the backseat - I was no longer in control. I let the pain come out of my mouth and screamed through each contraction. They were coming one on top of another. "I'm losing it!" I cried. "I need a fucking break! They're coming so fast!" We weren't even on the freeway yet. We still had 20 minutes in the car. "Mike, I need an epidural as soon as we get there! Ok?" "Of course, baby. Of course," he calmly reassured me. Poor guy. I’m sure the last way he felt was calm.

Nicole was following us to the hospital. Our other amazing doula, Liz, was meeting us there. Nicole was a labor and delivery nurse at Methodist at the time, and she was scheduled to work that night. Our plan was working perfectly. She was going to be my nurse that night, while Liz was going to be our doula. At our last clinic appointment, we had joked with Vida (our favorite midwife) that we would see her on Friday night, which was her on-call shift at the hospital. And here it was, Friday night. My dream team was all in order. And it was my due date. Was this really happening?

It was, and very quickly at that. Somewhere on Hwy 100, I started to feel pressure. Liz's all-knowing doula powers kicked in and she called Mike right at that moment. "Tell her to pant like a dog," she instructed. Thank god for that. I crawled and screamed and swore and panted the rest of the way to the hospital. What a ride!

Liz opened the car door and I fell into her arms. I clung to her all the way to triage, and I clamped my eyes shut, firmly telling anyone around me who could hear that I wanted an epidural. They checked me. I was already at a seven. Holy mary mother of god! "I want an epidural! I want an epidural! I want an epidural!" As I screamed and grunted my way to the delivery room, everyone reassured me the epidural was on its way. Before I got into bed, I leaned over through a contraction, and my water exploded onto the floor. Vida appeared, and I calmed down long enough to say hi to her. I asked yet again for an epidural. I got up onto the bed and she checked me. "Becca, you're at a ten. Look at me." When Vida tells you to do something, you do it. I opened my eyes for the first time since arriving at the hospital. "Becca, you're complete. You can push." WHAT?! I didn’t think those were words I’d ever hear. Those were words reserved for women who had vaginal births. Was I going to join that club?

I was in agony, but I felt amazing. And I also realized I wasn't getting an epidural. But what I didn't realize was how good it would feel to push. I mean, not good, but at least now I felt like I could do something with the pain. Pushing was hard. Really fucking hard. After 20 minutes I thought to myself, "Shit, some women push for hours. I don't think I can do this for hours." But lucky for me, Liz is a master at describing how to push. If it wasn't for her, I think I would have pushed for much longer. "Becca, push that baby across the room!" Every time Liz said that, I pushed in a different way. And every time I pushed like that, everyone who was looking at the business end of things started cheering. I guess pushing isn't just pushing - there is a specific way to push that creates a lot more progress. "I want this baby out!" I screamed. It was time. Two more hard rounds of pushing, and someone was saying, "Becca, reach down and grab your baby! You're having your baby. Open your eyes! Reach down and grab your baby!" I couldn't reach down and grab my baby – all I could do was keep pushing. A few seconds later, a warm, wet baby was placed on my tummy, and Mike paused, looked, and announced, "You have a baby ... GIRL!" Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! "Mike, I did it!” I cried. “Mike, I did it! Mike! I DID IT!" 

I'll never forget that moment. Maybe one day I'll think of it without tears welling in my eyes, but not today. It was the most profound feeling of accomplishment that I've ever felt and will ever feel. And it was over. Thank god, it was over. In only four hours, our family of three was transformed into a family of four.

Everyone who knows about Arthur's birth asks me if Francesca's birth was healing. No, no it was not. I did need to heal from Arthur's birth, but I needed to do that by honoring his birth, not by replacing it. All I wanted was for this birth to be different that my first, and it couldn't have been any more different. The births of my babies are both beautiful in their own ways. Birth is such a mystery until it happens. You never know what kind of birth you will get, and I am lucky to have birthed my babies in completely different ways. I may not have yelled "I did it!" after Arthur was born, but I should have.

Francesca Felice was born on her due date, 7/7/17, and she weighed 7lb 7oz. Lying there with my new baby girl on my chest was the best feeling I think I'll ever feel. It was over. I didn't have to labor anymore. And look what I had to show for it! A baby girl! I did it. I did it. I DID IT!

Written by Becca, Assistant Manager at Blooma Minneapolis, Prenatal Yoga Teacher, and Mama of two.

 

Value Systems & Birth Choices

A birth plan is important as a decision-making tool in the prenatal period and as a guide for providers at the time of birth. Now, the vast majority of nurses, doctors, and midwives know (and often expect) that a family will enter birth with a piece of paper that details their specific hopes during the different stages of labor and delivery including newborn care. Many hospitals even offer families an easy to use, and hospital specific, birth plan that goes straight into their file before birth. 

This all is wonderful news for birthing families. It means that providers are interested in what families want and need during one of the most vulnerable and intimate times in life. Providers that listen to families needs are able to provide more specific and supportive care.

While I encourage everyone to write a birth plan, it can sometimes create expectations that come with any give "plan". For example, a mother’s highest priority may be to have a vaginal birth. In her Birth Plan she may write that she does not want an epidural, but at the time of labor an epidural may be what she needs to allow a vaginal birth. Both items are important in her plan, but what holds the most value?

I encourage you to take a different approach to writing your Birth Plan by creating another important document, your Birth Values. By writing your Birth Values, you can allow your personal values to play the biggest role in your birth decision-making process.  The Birth Values approach allows a birthing family to ditch a Black and White Birth Plan and the sense of the "right and wrong", "good and bad" and "success and failure" that it can sometimes bring. Exploring your values goes deeper into the internal needs of the birthing woman, her partner, and the evolving family, rather than only looking at the choices available at the time of birth. 

An Example - A mother may have in her Birth Plan “something” that will help her remain calm and in control. This could be a birthing tub, nitrous oxide, or an epidural. But, it isn’t so much the item on her birth plan that is important, but the underlying value- feeling calm and in control during birth.

At the time of her birth to remain calm and in control, that “something” may change. A mama that planned to be in a birthing tub may now prefer the epidural. Or, a mama planning to have nitrous oxide wants to get into a birthing tub.  The item on her Birth Plan may have changed, but it still aligns with her Birth Values of being calm and in control. Her Birth Plan may only point to one of these things, but at the time of birth, another makes her feel calm and in control. Changing something on the Birth Plan shouldn’t make a mama feel like she has failed because she is still making decisions that align with her Birth Values.

Values do not start and end at the hospital. They are at the center of our very being, and they are at the heart of the new and challenging path new mothers embark on. Values are what matter.

So sweet mamas, and dear birthing partners, please do not ditch the Birth Plan. It is important, and it can act as a wonderful source for essential conversation in the prenatal period. It helps guide the mama, partner, and birth team  - keeping them on the same page before labor and delivery. But, I encourage you to dig even deeper and look at your values as you bring forth new life. Write these values down and share them with your birth team, this way you can move through labor and delivery fully wrapped in those values. 

By doing so, you will feel more fully heard, held, supported, honored, empowered and understood. It can also allow you to be super gentle on any decision made during birth. If there is any one thing I want for a birthing mother, it is that she feels held and supported, and that starts with first understanding her most intimate values before she ever steps foot into her place of birth.   

Best to each of you on your birthing journey, 

Brook Holmberg - full-time Birth Doula, a Childbirth Educator, a Lactation Counselor, co-founder of Birth Doula Centering and above all else, a value-drive mother. 

borealbirth.com 

Birth Doula Centering  - Twin Cities

 

Birth Story: Everyone Makes It Out Alive

That was our birth plan in all of its simplicity. Except for a small detail: I didn't want to feel the majority of it. Look, I am all about celebrating and basking in the strength of women. I hosted a vagina monologue party in my 20's and my lady friends wrote and performed pieces about their glorious vaginas. I read the book "Cunt" and embraced all things about menstruation. I have a tattoo on my lower abdomen - approximately over my uterus, I think, I'm not a doctor and find anatomy confusing - of a woman sitting cross-legged with hands raised above her head in front of a moon. And most importantly, I frequently went to prenatal yoga classes and drank so much Blooma kool-aid I almost gave myself metaphorical gestational diabetes. But for sure, 1000%, I had zero interest in having an un-medicated birth. Getting pregnant did not come easily and required a lot of testing, a laparoscopy to remove endometrial scar tissue, and a round of fertility drugs to make it happen. Modern medicine could be credited with getting pregnant. Between my gratitude to medical intervention and a much more powerful emotion, my fear of the pain, I wanted an epidural to play a prominent role in the labor and delivery of our son, Luca. 
 
At 41 weeks and one day, I was scheduled for an induction at 5:00 pm. My husband Diogo and I were ready. Everything was meticulously ready. We are obsessively organized people and had been ready for an obsessively organized amount of time. I, as a waddling tool shed, was so ready and though he would weigh just over nine pounds when he emerged, Luca was the only person who wasn't ready. But off we went to have a baby. 
 
After a delicious and nutritious meal at Good Earth, we arrived at the Fairview Southdale Birthing Center promptly at 5:00 pm and I announced that I was there to have a baby. We were given a room and started to settle in. After three or four failed attempts at installing an IV (that left me bruised for weeks), they were successful. This matters only because during each arm stabbing debacle, I kept thinking about how terrible it would be to try and get an IV into someone's arm and miss. I also kept thinking that I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the nurses because we were now a team. They were going to help me bring our little boy into the world and getting salty with them for making me look like a drug addict wouldn't be the most positive way to start our journey together. 
 
At about 7:00, a cervical ripener was inserted and Diogo and I naturally turned on HGTV and also streamed a legislative hearing on my iPad. I'm a lobbyist and a bill I'd been working on was receiving a hearing. Sometimes those hearings are so painful they can make someone wish labor upon them self so it made sense to watch one while my cervix went about its business. 
 
Round about midnight, I started to feel cramps and was very excited about this. Like every other woman in the history of humankind about to deliver her first baby, these cramps were foolishly mistaken for the beginning. And yes, they were, but COME ON. They were "the beginning" of what would end up being over 24 hours of labor just as much as a pair of too-tight pants are the beginning of a speedy and successful diet. I was starting to dilate though and quickly enough that the nurses decided that the next dose of ripener should be in a tampon-like form so that it could be easily and quickly removed. And this is when shit started to get real. My water "broke" in the most lame and anti-climatic way possible. I know it's never like the movies but a trickle of fluid onto the bed is so blah. I mean how awesome would it have been to have the "clean-up in aisle nine" sort of water breaking situation? Like some poor bastard stops into my room to check my vitals or something and happens to slip and fall in the massive pool of my amniotic fluid. 
 
So I'd always envisioned that I would labor and move my way through contractions for awhile. At least in the very beginning until the pain was too intense. Like getting to a certain mile on a run, I'd hoped to power through contractions until I was dilated to, maybe, like a six. You know, one more past halfway. And to get there, I was going to settle so deep into goddess pose during those contractions and serenely hum or say "yes" that Blooma Founder Sarah Longacre herself would have been proud. I was going to move that baby into position and then boom, order up an epidural and push out a baby. No big whoop.
 
And then it happened. My first contraction. Like the first all-consuming, every fiber of my being cried out in pain explosion. And it didn't stop. I went from crampy uncomfortable to pain level seven cluster contractions. As soon as one ended, a smaller one started. So as I envisioned, I channeled all of the power of the female energy and spirit throughout the world and sunk into that goddess pose. I lifted my hands above my head and bellowed "yes" with a guttural throng the likes of which can only be uttered when all that is powerful, amazing woman bears down and brings forth life.
 
J/K
 
I did everything I shouldn't have. Birth coaches, doulas, midwives, nurses, doctors, experienced mamas the world 'round would have collectively cringed. Sitting on the edge of the bed, clenching every single muscle - muscles I didn't even know I had, I found them and squeezed them really, really tight - and simply said "no". Over and over and over again. My husband immediately realized that this approach to pain management may not be the best. He tried so calmly to get me to breathe and all I said was "no" and "epidural". I also may have uttered "hate" and "you" but the pain has blurred my memory. The nurses came in, the anesthesiologist was called and a screen showed big contraction, little contraction, big contraction, little contraction. And as I continued my "no" monologue, a seasoned nurse grabbed a chair, spun it around and up against the bed and put my feet on it. Before I had any idea of what was happening, we were face to face, her forehead pressed against mine, my hands in hers and she sternly and calmly said "breathe with me... in and out... focus on me... curl your spine... don't move... breathe". And just like that the epidural was in and the pain stopped. 
 
What people don't often talk about is that once you get an epidural, you need to be rotated once an hour to prevent pooling of the fluid in your spine which can make the numbing uneven. So every hour, two nurses would come in and flip my huge, bloated pregnant body from one side to the other. One of these pig-on-a-spit rotations wasn't as timely as the others and the next thing I knew my whole left side was numb and my right side was alive. It's cool. It evened out eventually. Oh and another thing people don't often talk about is the puking. But more importantly than the puking itself is the flailing around in the bed like a beached whale trying to sit up but you can't because of the epidural and you just know you're going to asphyxiate on vomit so you start screaming at anyone in sight "SIT ME UP!! SIT ME UP!!". So much fun, you guys. 
 
Let's cut to the chase. Dilated, pushing begins. Amazing doctor at the foot of the bed, amazing husband on left side, amazing nurse Hannah on the right side.
 
"Diogo put my hair up." Tries. Fails. "Hannah put my hair up." Hannah grabs ponytail holder and while piling all of my hair on top of my head smiles and says, "Messy buns get shit done." Four and a half hours of pushing. Each push is made possible by being heaved up by Hannah and Diogo and cheers and words of encouragement. Oh and remember that whole epidural playing a starring role in delivery? Between contractions the four of us chatted like we were at a neighborhood BBQ. "You're looking to buy in Highland Park? That's a great neighborhood." "You work at the Capitol? I have some friends in government relations; do you know so and so?" "Anyone want an Altoid?"
 
Baby is stuck. Doctor recommends a little suction on his head action. We weigh some pros and cons and conclude with "of course." Room fills with NICU nurses and people ready to make sure our baby makes it out safely. "Hi Ann, my name is Jenny..." That's great Jenny and I appreciate you respecting me enough to introduce yourself but let's get this kid the eff out already. Vacuum in place, I close my eyes because I know I'll cry if I see him. I push once and Diogo's voice cracks as he says his head is out. Tears stream down my cheeks and I keep my eyes closed. I push one more time and he pops out and he is on my chest for a second and is then immediately whisked away for assessment given the very long time he hung out in the birth canal. I will later learn that he was gray when he came out and Diogo was really afraid. The nurses go to work on him and we wait and watch from across the room.
 
He is fine. He is good. He is crying. He is peeing on the nurses. He is on my chest again and yes. It is the most amazing moment of my entire life. I look at Diogo and at the baby and say, "We did it." 
 
There are moments in life that you wish you could return to whenever you want. Literally life-changing moments and experiences. I have a fairly short, predictable list which no, does not include that time I got my kickass lady tattoo over my liver or whatever but does include: the last conversation I had with my Dad before he passed; getting to marry Diogo and our wedding celebration; and the serenely quiet moments in the delivery room with Luca after he was born. After all of the controlled - and uncontrolled - chaos; the minutes that were literally life and death; the table of tools was gone, the NICU nurses had moved on to another birth, the monitors were wheeled away and then, there were simply, three. 
 
Luca and I lay in the bed facing each other. He was wide awake and his eyes bright and as focused as they could be on me, his former body roommate, his mom. I stared at this tiny human being with one thought "so here you are" and as I gazed, he caught his feet on my hip and propelled himself upwards in this most eerily familiar way. He had been kicking his way around my insides for so long that if my eyes had been closed I would have sworn he was still in my womb. As we stared at each other, I could see Diogo so peacefully and soundly asleep on the couch just three feet away after being my absolute, unflappable rock for so many hours. My line of vision was Luca and his Dad just past him. And this sight, of these two, was so simple and so deeply, beautifully profound. 
 
We were soon transferred to the recovery room where some reality kicked in including the realization of the fairly horrific damage done to my undercarriage. I mean holy shit the kid was pretty big and the process was long. I often refer to his birth as "The Great Undercarriage Destruction of 2017 otherwise known as The Birth of My Son". We should have saved ourselves some money and trips to Target by putting Epsom salts and ibuprofen on the baby registry and nothing else. But it will never cease to amaze me what the female body is capable of and how quickly it heals. But I knew that - at least in part - long before the experience of birth. This just wholly reaffirmed it. It just may be time to get that tattoo touched up. 
 
Written by Blooma Mama Ann

The Birth of Gwen - A VBAC Story

In order to better understand the birth of my daughter, Gwen, let me first tell you a few things about the birth of my first-born, Theo, two years prior. I had been planning for an un-medicated birth at a birth center, but at 37.5 weeks, I developed some complications that led to a long induction, hours of pushing, a stuck baby, and ultimately, a cesarean birth.

As they wheeled me in into the operating for the birth of my first child, I began planning a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) for my second.

Of course, the planning became more concrete once I was actually pregnant. This time, I wanted to be at peace with how the birth went, even if it ended in the operating room. I put a lot of care into selecting a provider who, in the event of another surgical birth, would honor my preferences for a family-centered cesarean.

I wanted a clear drape so that I could see my daughter from the moment she emerged. I wanted delayed cord-clamping and skin-to-skin in the OR. But what I really, really wanted, though I didn’t care to admit it, was a VBAC, or Vaginal Birth After Cesarean.

I had a hard time even saying that out loud. I was nervous to write a birth plan, only for it to be completely derailed. I was terrified to try for a VBAC and was worried about how it would end. I didn’t want to re-live that awful moment in my son’s birth when the energy in the room shifted and it became clear that the baby was only coming out one way, and it was not in the way we had hoped.

As my due date loomed nearer, I talked everyone’s ear off about whether or not to try for a VBAC. My grandma was horrified—she thought it sounded way too dangerous. The rest of my family wanted to support me in whatever I decided. But that was the problem: I couldn’t decide. It was too hard to weigh the potential benefits of a VBAC with the idea of enduring a long labor that ended in the OR again.

I came close, so close, to scheduling a planned cesarean at 39 weeks. But I knew that even if it was a beautiful, family-centered cesarean, there would always be a little part of me that would wonder: “What if? What if I had tried?” So I decided to schedule a cesarean for a little over a week after my due date. I would try for a VBAC if my body went into labor naturally.

My pregnancy with Gwen was uneventful, and every day that I made it past 37.5 weeks felt like a gift. I would have a full-term baby! My blood pressure, which had caused so many problems the first time, was still normal! Now I just needed to go into labor.

At 40 weeks and 2 days, I had three mild contractions about 10 minutes apart, and that was the extent of my early labor. I continued to labor at home for another three hours. The contractions were intensifying, but I was still in denial that it was really happening. I tidied up my room and checked a few things off my to-do list, trying not to get too excited. I paid a bill for the pediatrician. I texted with my sisters about my mom’s upcoming birthday. Things were getting more intense and I asked my husband to come home, but told him to bring his computer with him in case this was a false alarm. Then my contractions, which had been coming about 5 minutes apart, were suddenly 1-2 minutes apart. It was time to go.

On the drive to the hospital, my contractions were strong with very short breaks in between. It was just about rush hour and there was a lot of traffic on our route. Only an hour before I hadn’t been willing to admit that I was in labor. Now I wasn’t sure if we would make it to the hospital in time! Thankfully, we did make it, and when the elevator doors opened and I saw my doula’s face, I honestly have never been so thankful to see another human being in my life. Just the simple act of holding her hands and looking into her reassuring eyes was everything. As we went through the motions of intake questions, getting an IV placed and fetal monitors hooked up (both requirements of hospital VBACs), I used nitrous oxide and it felt like a life-saver. It forced me to breathe more deeply and it took the edge off the contractions.

Forty Five minutes after we arrived at the hospital, my body started spontaneously pushing. It was the craziest sensation I have ever felt. Sometimes people call birth an out-of-body experience, but that was the most in my body I have ever felt. In all of my planning, I thought that when I reached the pushing stage, I would be wrought with fears of my baby getting stuck again or my scar rupturing. Instead, all I could think was “GET HER OUT!” I heard someone say I was fully dilated and I started to push again. With the first push, my bag of water exploded, narrowly missing one of the nurses. I felt the pressure of the baby’s head and decided to give it my all. Another push for her head and one more for her body. Out she flew, onto the bed. Nobody even had time to catch her! I had really done it, she was here, and it was over! Two years of wondering if I would ever get to experience this moment, of research, fear, and hope. I was in total disbelief, shouting, “What? What?” over and over again as she was placed in my arms.

Gwen’s arrival was the most shocking, electrifying, triumphant moment of my life. I am forever grateful to each and every person who walked this path with me, whether they lent an ear or asked questions that made me think deeply about my options. Her birth was a cake-walk compared to the choice of whether or not to attempt a VBAC. To anyone out there trying to make a similar decision, my heart goes out to you. The evidence tells us that for most women, a VBAC is a safe option that carries less risks than a surgical birth. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the right decision for everyone. Only you can determine how to best protect your heart. My wish for you is that you are well informed, well supported, and at peace with whatever you decide, and however your babies are born.

Join Mari as she leads the Blooma VBAC Class on October 29th!

Written by Mari Melby, doula and childbirth educator at Blooma. You can read more from her on her website, www.marimelby.com.

Photo credits: Julia Soplop, Mari’s sister. Calm Cradle Photo and Design

In Solidarity with Preemie Parents

Here I am again, round two. Living the life of a preemie mama in the hospital.

(a reminder for myself; this too shall pass.)

Welcome to the world Oliver Ray!  My 34 week baby was 5lbs 4 oz. and growing steadily.  He just needs some time to gain strength and eat all of his meals on his own. We've got this, he is a champ!

He surprised us arriving 6 weeks early.  For some reason my children are eager to join us months before their due dates.  My plan for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) fell through.  This little man had other plans, and babies are the ones who choose when and how they enter this world.  I have learned that... twice.

Let me first tell you that I couldn't be more grateful for the situation I am in. I am so thankful for a healthy baby and that the reason for our hospital stay is prematurity. This isn't my first rodeo.  I've done this before with a baby that was HALF this size and spent triple the amount of time in this nursery with no windows. I truly thought I wouldn't have to do this again.  I was hopeful and sure that my full-time job as a hospital mom was in the past.

Life is repeating itself.

I am splitting my time between home and hospital all while healing from surgery.  Only this time, there is a toddler at home.  I am living in three hour regiments of my son's care schedule. My breasts are attached to a damn pump every three hours, and my sweet baby in-between.  I am listening to the silence between beeping machines and doctor visits. My heart strings are being pulled in directions I didn't know existed.  I am crossing fingers that each day is a day of growth. I am hoping that each test is passed and checked off the list.  My baby is supposed to be growing in my belly, yet is needing to pass a handful of tests?  Just no.

It doesn't make this any easier seeing a fist full of wires connected to the tiniest human in my life.  Or how about the fact that he has had more pokes and pricks and needles in his short life than most have had in one year.  I am ready for that feeding tube to come out of his nose. And seriously, an IV in his head?  It's gut wrenching.

But, he is getting cared for.  He is in trusting hands.  He is growing and doing well.  I can honestly say I don't know what it is like to leave the hospital with a newborn.  I wonder if I would even know what to do?  I am a pro at this hospital mom gig.

It's surreal.  Being here. again.  Deja Vu.

For all of you preemie hospital parents, a few things I have learned on this journey:

-Try and find some balance in your day.  Take time for yourself, time for baby, time for sunshine on your face, and time to connect with someone outside of the hospital.

-Don't feel guilty.  You are doing the best you can.

-It's okay to cry.  It's okay to laugh.  It's okay to swear.  It's okay to crave a drink.  It's okay to pray.  Everything is welcome.

-Be in the moment.  When you are getting fresh air, breathe it deep.  When you are holding your baby, snuggle hard.

-EAT GOOD FOOD

-Use the resources at the hospital.  Find out what they can help you with.

-Share your story.  Nurses like to hear it.  They connect to you that way.

-Take lots of pictures.  It is amazing to look back at the journey.

 

I keep holding onto all the other mamas and babies that are doing this at the same time.  Through the walls, in different time zones, over the oceans, and those who have been here in the past.  I know I am not alone.  I know so many are preemie parents. SOLIDARITY! We will get through this!  It's a time warp, it sucks, its beautiful.  Today, we are one day closer to going home.

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An update from the mama, 3 weeks later:

We are home! We are now adjusting to our new normal as a family of four. Baby is growing and eating and healthy!  We are in the middle of it all, the newborn phase, exhausted.

But at the same time so thrilled to be spending nights all together under the same roof and days snuggled on our very own couch. What a blessing that both of my preemies are doing wonderfully!  We are soaking up fresh air and walks by the lake, quiet time listening to music and reading books, and feeling grateful for family and community.

January has always been a difficult month for me with lack of day light and cold temperatures. This year I am looking at it as a gift rather than a struggle.  I am doing the best I can to embrace hibernation, eat comfort food, and snuggle my family during this 4th trimester.  A time to settle in and focus on the now,  a time to just be.  These precious and trying times as a new mom pass quickly even when it feels like forever.  I am holding onto each moment, the good and the challenging, knowing that we are all home! 

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By Charity Huot Benedict, Blooma Teacher, Mama, Singer/Songwriter, Supporter & Friend

Read her blog HERE.

Setting Expectations & Becoming a Mother of Two

Below is a thank you note from a Blooma Mama, sent to us shortly after the birth of her second baby. At a Prenatal Yoga class earlier in January, this beautiful mama shared her words for the new year, “Realistic expectations”. For the birth of her second baby, and moving from a mother of one to a mother of two, Hilary wanted to have realistic expectations, “I know that baby number two will have a different personality than the first, and I am a different mama.” We are so happy to hear about her amazing birth, and the strength and support she found at Blooma. After her birth she said “I definitely went in with realistic expectations and just followed my instincts. I feel like I had a birth I can really be proud of. Introducing my two special babies to each other for the first time was such a wonderful moment.” Read her note to us below.

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Hello! I wanted to thank you for the wonderful yoga class last Tuesday. It was just what I needed to ground myself as I prepared to meet my son. Yoga has been such an important way to bond with my baby during a hectic and emotional pregnancy. Attending that last class while overdue was so special.

August Eugene was born at 10:59am on Wednesday, January 18 at a whopping 9lbs 1oz and 22" long. Almost immediately after class I began to have contractions and used the breathing and grounding from class all evening. Things were moving slow, so I just kept myself in the zone and didn't even start timing contractions until 4am when they became strong- I thought I was having back labor again like with my first. By the time I made it to the hospital at 5:30am I was shocked to find out that I was already at 8cm and in transition! Apparently, I was focusing and coping much better than I thought- it was a proud mama moment for me. I needed to be on antibiotics and luckily my water hadn't broken yet. We were able to slow things down just enough to get the full round of meds just before he made his grand entrance.

All those hours of goddess pose paid off and those strong mama legs and arms were so necessary for a not-so-little boy who was way too comfortable to leave without a very long marathon of pushing. I can't believe after weeks of contractions and false labor that I am on the other side. I am so looking forward to bonding with my chill little dude at Bring Your Own Baby (BYOB) Yoga soon. Thank you so much again for providing such a wonderful space to start my relationship with my baby. It has meant so much to us!

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-Hilary Bundt, Blooma Mama of two!

Dear 2016

Dear 2016,

Hi. It’s 2017. You are gone now and a new year is in full-swing. This time of year, some of us reflect on the past, and possibly manifest or set intentions for the future. So, as I pause and look back at you 2016, I realize that I would like to thank you for all you have given to me. 

You 2016 gave me, and possibly many others, 12 months that kicked the shit out of me. For that, I am grateful. Please remember 2016, gratitude doesn’t always mean happiness. It means thank you. Thank you for life lessons.

2016, you humbled me. You taught me that I am not invincible, and quite frankly, I live in a fucking bubble, a bubble where I think everyone is like me, or at least thinks like me. I thought that I lived in a country where people wanted leaders that were kind. That we were moving towards a society of open minds and open hearts. So, thank you for reminding me that we are all different. We have different ways of expressing emotions, we have different values and passions. We have different opinions of who we want to lead our country and how we want to live our lives. And, I need to learn to accept (not agree with) these differences between many of us. Damn that is hard. 

2016 you reminded me of an incredible man that helped shape who I am: Prince. You brought his music back into my life and filled my soul during so many crucial milestones in my life. Songs like, “Starfish and Coffee”, “The Ladder” and “Sometimes it Snows in April” are back on my playlist filling me up when I need it the most. 

I am grateful to you, 2016, for bringing more family into my life. I now have 4 new stepsisters and one new stepbrother. Watching your mother get married for the 4th time is such a gift, especially when you really love the man she’s marrying. David is such a good addition to our lives these past ten years. I am grateful for 4th chances.

 

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2016, you taught me loss. Loss of mentors and loss of those that never took a breath on this earth. 

You introduced me to the darkest side of Alzheimer's and the devil it is. My amazing earth loving, home brew making, reader and classical-music-passionate Uncle Will Bill, lost his life to Alzheimer's at the young age of 72. He was my mother’s only living relative. He was one of my greatest role models. With his loss comes my passion to share his story and support other families dealing with this hellacious disease. I learned that saying goodbye to someone that shouldn’t be leaving is heart wrenching, and that I will do whatever I can to fight this disease. 

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Oh, 2016. A “mother’s intuition” is something that I have always firmly believed in and I strongly encourage mothers to listen and follow. So, on March 4, 2016 when I had a positive pregnancy test I knew this baby was going to change my life forever. I knew this little one was special, and from the beginning, I knew something was wrong. I told my mother, husband, midwife and therapist. Three months and 17 days later I learned that one little tiny extra chromosome (13) would change my life forever.  Then 4 days later I birthed my baby girl Sophia Love Ehlers.

2016, I am working to find the light in the loss of my daughter. I have always had a passion for mamas and birth, and the gift you gave me of Sophia has only deepened that. I love connecting to each woman that comes through Blooma’s door. Now, in my loss, I can connect and bond with a new set of mamas, those that experienced this same kind of loss. I can cry with them, experience the same emotions, lend an ear and truly say “I understand”. I can offer support to a whole other group of women.

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And in this loss, I learned how taboo this subject is. 

I am an advocate for not hiding things in the dark. We need to listen to these mamas that have experienced loss, be there for them, and not just brush this scary thing under a rug. I thought that people were comfortable talking about death. I learned very quickly that no, Americans and Midwesterners do not like talking about it. This only encourages me more to make Blooma a community where ALL births, topics, and struggles are discussed and supported. Amen for all the sisters that I have bonded with in The Sisterhood of Loss Group at Blooma. 

I am so grateful, 2016, for the outpouring of love and support that came day after day following our loss. Cards, flowers, meals, calls, emails, texts - each and every one I am grateful for. You taught me about the community I live in and the crazy amount of love and support that they can offer.

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More than ever you taught me that meds are amazing! I am so, so grateful for Zoloft. I am learning to release the guilt of upping my dosage. Is this how most people see the world? I have come to accept that I need a little “support” as I walk this current path. I won’t be on it forever, but I ain’t getting off it anytime soon! Thank you 2016. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes a mama needs a little help from modern medicine.

Along with Zoloft I am so deeply grateful for my therapist(s). Having a professional “hold space” for you in the throes of loss is crucial. My weekly (sometimes 2x) sessions with women who are dedicated to making the world and humans a better place is not something I will ever take advantage of. Therapy and Zoloft - two of the biggest things that got me through you 2016.

Oh boy, 2016, you brought me Navel and the crazy world of producing apparel. I love the message Navel is sharing, but did not know the intense process of manufacturing. I will never look at a piece of clothing the same. 

2016 you showed me a part of this country that is so beautiful, I couldn’t imagine it.  For the first time I experienced Alaska, a majestic place of beauty and quiet. Weeks after losing my daughter, it was such a safe escape for me and my family. The kids and I played Frisbee until 11:30pm under the bright sun! We hiked in the lush greens, drank at amazing breweries and yep, I fell head-over-heels in love with RV living (Can’t wait to retire in an RV one day, haha). 2016, you and Alaska taught me how to slow down and be present in the beauty of life. 

 

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This past year there was one act that I experienced multiple times a day that I believed saved me. The act of hugs and hugging. Thank you 2016 for arms that can be wrapped around those in need. Hugs of celebration, hugs of support, hugs of glory. I had some of the best hugs of my life the summer of 2016. I cherish each one of them along with the men and women that opened their arms to hold me.

Then, on the morning of New Year’s Eve, you gave my family us/me one last scare. My healthy, vibrant, energetic, young father-in-law, Steve, slipped and fell on the ice, causing bleeding in his brain. He had emergency brain surgery and we are now walking the path of OT, speech therapy and so on. (Sigh. Cry. Scream. Fuck!). And Amen to HCMC, Kenny Courage Center, and my mother in law for being by his side every step of the way. For Steve, every single day my family is working hard to make this experience one of the best we can. We are starting to see light as he talks and moves more each day. At the same time, we are all experiencing extreme emotional highs and lows. You taught me 2016, how fast life can change and to never ever forget to tell those you love how much they mean to you. What a reminder this was for my whole family to not sweat the small stuff.

2016, I thank you because you taught me how precious life is and that by no means can you ever take a day for granted. That friends, family and good cries are so damn necessary. My marriage and my relationship with my sister has deepened and that is one of the best gifts you could ever give me. 

Thank you 2016. Thank you for all the life lessons. I will do my best to continue to learn from them. I will do my best to celebrate what I have been given. And, maybe, just maybe, could you drop a line to 2017 for me? Could you let 2017 know that I am ready with open arms for more life lessons... but no more loss. Please.

Love, 

Sarah Longacre

Blooma founder, Yogi, Doula, mama, partner, sister & friend