Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Review and 2012 Goals

2011 Doula Goals:

  • Attend DONA Doula training
  • Attend 1 birth

Yeah, I set the bar low. I figured I wouldn't be disappointed that way. I was right!

2011 Doula Accomplishments:

  • Attended DONA Doula training
  • Attended 6 births in 6 months
  • Met some fantastic women in the doula field (i.e. networking)

2012 Doula Goals:

  • Finish designing my super fantastic brochure
  • Find places to leave my super fantastic brochure
  • Attend a continuing education type workshop, such as the Spinning Babies workshop coming in February
  • Attend 5 births
  • Continue networking with the fantastic women in my area
  • Complete my DONA certification

It appears I am setting the bar low again, but it worked for me last year! Here's to an even better year!

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rosenberg Doula

I am located in the Rosenberg area, but most of my births have taken me to the medical center area. I would love to help mothers closer to home in Rosenberg, Richmond and Sugar Land as well and share the joys of natural childbirth with expecting parents in this area.

I love natural childbirth. It was the most empowering experience of my life, and if I feel as if I can accomplish anything after having had a natural childbirth with my daughter. That experience inspired me to be a doula. I love this work! I feel as if all women have the ability to experience natural childbirth, and I want to support any woman who desires to have a doula support her during that experience.

I understand that not every women wants to have a natural childbirth. This is fine! Although I think the world of natural childbirth, I think even more of birth and babies. I love seeing babies enter this world and meet their parents for the first time. I love seeing the birth of a new family. My hope is that no matter what kind of birth a mom is planning, whether she uses an epidural, plans a Cesarean section, or births completely unmedicated, that her baby can have a safe, gentle and reverent welcome to this world.

Click on the "Schedule a consultation" link to schedule a free in-person consultation, so we can discuss your birth wishes. Every woman deserves a doula if she wants one!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hiring a doula

You are here because you are thinking about hiring a doula to attend your birth. Welcome! I appreciate you taking the time to look at my page.

Hiring a doula is a big decision. This person will join you on your journey towards motherhood and be with you during one of the most transformative and amazing experiences of your life. This person will be someone who will join you in welcoming your new baby into the world and be a part of this intimate, joyous and deeply personal occasion. Of course you want someone highly qualified and also someone with whom you feel a connection. This person needs to be someone you feel you can trust with your emotions, fears and various worries during pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period. Hiring a doula is definitely not a decision one should take lightly.

Several websites have advice on questions to ask your potential doula. I encourage you to read these articles and questions and use them as a guide for choosing the perfect doula for you and your family. Print them out if needed! Jot down answers and impressions during the interview. Good luck on your journey finding the perfect doula for you!

Due Diligence: Interviewing, Researching & Hiring a Doula by Doula Match

How to Hire a Doula by DONA International

All About Doulas - Choosing a Doula by Childbirth International

Hiring a Doula by Birthing Naturally

These are excellent guidelines to help you get started finding the right doula for you! Make your interview unique. Ask any question. Best wishes in your search and, of course, congratulations on your pregnancy and upcoming birth!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What do you do during labor?

Short Answer: Whatever you need me to do!

Long Answer: You may be wondering, "Is it really worth it? Do I really need a doula? I know what a doula is, but what does a doula do? What do you do? Can you really help me? After all, you're new at this."

Ultimately, only you can answer those questions, and sometimes it isn't until after the fact that you find out whether or not you really need a doula. Hopefully it's a good response of, "Man! I am so glad I had a doula!" And yes, I really can help you- even though I am new. I am learning all the time, and I learn and improve at each and every birth I attend. Yes, experience is very helpful in a doula, but it really is about having a person there with whom you feel a connection. You want your doula to be someone that you feel comfortable sharing this experience with and someone you feel good about. Of course, it never hurts that most newer doulas charge a significantly lower fee than more experienced doulas.

So, back to the question, "What do you do?" Most of our preparation for labor occurs at our prenatal visits. At the second prenatal visit, I show clients everything that I have in my doula bag that we could possibly use during labor. We also practice labor positions, and in the course of our journey together prenatally, I try to get a general sense of the family's ideal birth. One of the homework assignments (yes, I give out homework) I give to Mom is to have her ponder how she would like her birth to go, i.e. what location, what positions, what time of day, who would she like present, what tools would she like to use, etc. Usually when I ask, "How would you like your birth to go?" I get the response, "FAST!" Well, there is more to it than that! Although one of the perks of having a doula present is a shorter labor, I can't guarantee that your labor will go as fast as you would like. Also, just because a labor is FAST doesn't mean it is easier. But that is another story for another day.

I like to have mom get an image in her head. Of course we don't have control over every aspect of how our labors will go, but I still like to have her imagine her dream birth as if she could hand pick the experience. For example, a mom may ideally want to give birth in the ocean at night, but she may have a hospital birth in the middle of the day. However, having that image in her head can give her a scene to focus on while she is in labor. Even though I may not be able to bring the ocean to her, we can make sure that she has access to water. If she really likes the dark, we can make sure to turn the lights out. If she wants a cozy, quiet, intimate environment, we can accommodate her wishes. My goal is to try to help mom get as close to her ideal birth as possible, and we discuss ways we can make it work in the setting in which she wishes to give birth, whether it is home, birth center or hospital.

I tell my moms that, so far, typically, the only tools I have used are my hands, my voice and a cool washcloth. I have many more items in my bag than that, but the births I have attended have gone by so quickly, I never had a chance to use most of my tools.

One mom enjoyed sitting on the birth ball and talking with her family during early labor. At that time, I participated in their light-hearted conversations as much as they seemed to want me to. When labor started to pick up and take her attention, most of the family left the room and/or slept (I don't know how they did) through her contractions. It was just me and mom. We vocalized together, I rubbed her back where she was feeling pain, I held her tightly when she wanted that and when she called out for her family members that were in the room, I woke them up for her.

Another mom had a beautiful home birth and I tried to do all the "little things" that needed to be done so that her husband could be her main source of support like they both wanted. At one point, every time she would begin a contraction, the husband would run off to try to do something. As her contraction would begin I would say, "Here comes another one." After a few contractions, he realized that he needed to stay where he was when I said that. After that, he never left her side and I fetched all the things that he needed to comfort her.

Another mom liked using the rebozo around her belly during contractions while we labored at home. She liked the feeling of having that secure pressure around her belly. After awhile she used the birth ball while I provided counter pressure to her back. At some point she really wanted some mood music. Immediately upon her request, I opened my Pandora app and provided some mood music. Yes, I even have a folder on my iPhone called "Doula Bag" with various apps to help comfort mom. For awhile it was just me and mom as dad bustled around trying to get everything ready for the trip to the hospital. Once we arrived at the hospital, she used the birth tub and I would provide sips of water as needed and vocalize with her. Dad sometimes needed to walk away during the birth, so I was there to provide him relief.

Last example, I had a mom who merely wanted my presence. I provided her with a cool cloth and waved it over her face with some essential oils dabbed on the cloth to provide a little aromatherapy. She was the first mom who wanted me to do that and I was excited to try it. Her birth was a classic example of a doula's presence being a calming influence to the birth environment. Once I arrived, both she and her husband relaxed into the task of giving birth to their baby. It was wonderful.

As you can see, all the moms wanted and needed something a little different to help them throughout their labors. However, each mom had something in common, and that is, they all had me as their doula and I never left them. They were never left alone. Even if I had to step out for a minute, it was only when their husbands, partners or other family members were present. A couple of the moms would have been completely alone for a good portion of their labors had I not been present, and for the others, I helped relieve the dads so they could focus more on their partners. For these moms, they were happy with their decision to have a doula present.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My first VBAC birth

I've debated whether or not I would share the birth stories of those whose births I attend on this page, but this birth story is so exciting! I was too inspired not to share. I can't wait to hear it from Mom's point of view. Enjoy!

What a beautiful and inspirational birth story I have to share! I met this couple for the first time about two months ago and I have enjoyed getting to know them as they prepared for this birth. Mom had a cesarean with her twins about two years ago, and I just knew that this birth was going to be great! I could tell by her determination and all the research and work that she was doing that this was going to be a wonderful experience for her and for me too. I was honored to be a part of this special day.

Mom called me at 12:06 am to let me know that her membranes ruptured, but she was not yet having contractions. We talked for a minute, and she decided she was going to take her time and try to get some rest. I attempted to do the same. Of course I tried in vain! I went to my baby's room for a little while to snuggle with her and that seemed to help calm me down, but I just could not fall into a deep sleep. I had a feeling that things would be pretty fast once they started going because she had been 4-5 cm dilated for at least the past week, and she also had a feeling things would progress quickly. She was worried that her birth wouldn't count towards my certification because she was already 4 cm dilated before labor even began and I assured her not to worry about that! I told her I am doing this for a living and not just to get a few births for certification and be done with it. I am honored to be there! Little did I know at the time what a truly amazing experience this would be.

She called again at 4:19 am to let me know that they made it to the hospital and that she was ready for me. I quickly brushed my teeth, changed clothes, packed my bags and drove the nearly one hour drive to the hospital. I made it to the hospital, checked in, went through security and made it to her room a little before 5:30 am. The lights were dim and everything was quiet and serene. It was just her and her husband at that time. They quickly showed me what he was doing to help her cope and I helped them out. Dad was able to sit for a few minutes and get a little break. He was doing so great! She was already at 8 cm when I arrived. Wow!

After a little while, Mom asked what we could do to relieve some of the back pain, so we had her move to her side. She was reclining on her back a little. Moving to her side made the contractions quite a bit stronger, but we had better access to apply counter pressure to her back as she needed it. I helped her with her vocalizations and we focused on relaxing a certain body part during each rush. Sometimes it was her shoulders, the next her neck, the next her jaw. Just one part at a time. She did so beautifully. I say I helped with her vocalizations, but she barely made any sounds at all!

Just an aside, I have a hard time filling out my certification paperwork as it is during a birth. I am pretty busy helping mom! This time was pretty liberating not to have to worry about filling out this or that form or worry about getting a doctor I never met to fill out a form when he didn't really see me in action. I could focus completely on mom and dad and the labor.

I finally had a chance to break out my essential oils! I applied cool cloths to her forehead and put a few drops of lavender to help her relax during labor. I would wave the cloth as a cool breeze too, which helped her be able to smell the oils. Dad told me that the doctor was supposed to arrive between 6-7 am. With the way she was progressing, they were a little bit worried. I teased Dad, "Well, YOU'RE here to catch the baby if he decides to come before the doctor!" It was halfway a joke because he really WAS planning to catch the baby.

As promised, the OB arrived about 6:15 am. I was impressed with him for two reasons. First, he arrived when he said he would! Second, he introduced himself to me and was so kind and gracious. I really appreciated that.

It became somewhat a flurry after that. The doctor wanted to have her checked. The nurse was trying to rush her somewhat, but I would whisper to her, "Take your time! Take your time! When you are ready, you can tell them when you are ready for them to check you." She did a great job with commanding respect of her body, and I was so very impressed and proud of her. However, I was also impressed that the staff graciously obeyed her wishes. Once they realized how much she was in control, they really worked with her. I loved that.

The doctor checked her and she was complete. They helped her try to push to see how the baby would handle it. According to the doctor, Baby did not seem to like that push, and he asked that she labor down for a little while. She was really having a hard time NOT pushing as she was feeling the urge. The nurse worked with her more actively to help her not push. Dad and I helped her stay comfortable with a cool cloth, encouragement and counter pressure. I was able to whip out the lemon essential oil to help energize her for pushing. Very cool.

After just a few contractions, the doctor came back and she began pushing. She did great! After 27 minutes of pushing, her sweet baby boy was born at 6:48 am! Daddy caught the baby! It was such a beautiful moment for that sweet family, with tears running down Dad's face and the most elated and joyful expression on Mom's. She did it!

Dad was able to place Baby immediately on mom's chest, with a little guidance from the staff, which was so wonderful! He was in such awe and shock. What a beautiful time for that family and such a pleasure, honor and joy to be able to witness this inspirational birth!

Congratulations to Mom for having a beautiful and successful unmedicated VBAC birth! I am so proud of you!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scheduling a consultation

If you are ready to schedule an in-person consultation, please view my service area map below. If you are giving birth in Katy, Sugar Land, Missouri City, and the southwest Houston area (including the medical center), I serve your area. 

Please select the location nearest you and email me with your preferred meeting place when contacting me to schedule a consultation.

Near Hwy 59 & Beltway 8
11623 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77031

Near Hwy 6 & Bissonnet
11565 S. Texas 6
Sugar Land, TX 77498

Barnes and Noble
At First Colony Mall
16535 SW Freeway #4000
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Phone: (225) 229-4130

I am looking forward to working with you and your family!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why use a doula?

The following video has been circulating around some of the natural birthing online communities I like to visit, so I would like to share my two cents about it. As I was watching, while trying not to get upset, I thought, "A doula could have helped (fill in the blank)."

Without knowing what kind of birth this mom had, how long it was, who was there, her relationship with her doctor, whether this was her first baby, or even if she had a doula, I thought of a few ways a doula could have helped her in just this three minute clip.

I am assuming that this was your average, run-of-the-mill hospital birth in which the mother pushes her baby out, the doctor shows up to catch, shows the mom the baby and they pass the baby quickly off to the pediatric nurse for cleaning, weighing and other newborn procedures. Granted, they generally do not take very long, but to a mama that just gave birth to that precious little baby, those few minutes feel like eternity.

Assuming that mom and baby had no skin to skin contact, which is common for many hospital births, a doula could have asked mom in between pushes, "Would you like your baby placed directly on you when s/he comes out?" In this way, everyone, I mean EVERYONE, hears her answer. When a baby is nearly born, everyone is in the room already, and it gets crowded and exciting for the family. Even the staff hustles and bustles when FINALLY the baby is making an appearance in the world. During this time, mom is working hard, and most likely is not thinking about anything other than, "I need to get this baby out!" It is good to have a reminder, "Oh yeah! I wanted my baby on me immediately." Dad is generally preoccupied as well, so a doula, with her quiet assurance, can remind mom. Also, in this way, it is MOM making the decision to have the baby placed on her immediately after birth.

As the baby is sliding out, a doula can help remind and ask again, "You wanted your baby on your belly right after birth, right?" And she can lift up the mom's gown to help make room for baby directly on her skin. I borrowed this idea from a more experienced doula recently, and the baby was placed right on that space that I had made for it.

As you watch, that poor little baby is just crying and crying. If the baby is breathing fine right after the birth, is all that crying necessary? Why not ask to have the newborn procedures done directly on your belly? It is possible. A doula can help you even before the labor and delivery happens by reminding you to think about those postpartum plans to include in your birth plan. She can ask you while you are marveling at your baby, "Did you still want to have the newborn procedures done on your belly?" Also, you can consider having the procedures delayed. A doula can remind you about your wishes in this area.

I attended a birth recently that the baby came out, mom caught, and immediately started nursing. The baby was healthy and pink and didn't even cry. He fell right asleep! It's almost as if he didn't know he was born. The room was quiet, warm, reverent and peaceful. There was no extraneous chatter happening.  That was very different than the birth I attended earlier that same day. While the mom was pushing, the OB was sitting on a stool watching as a nurse coached her through pushing and massaged her perineum. The pediatric nurse walked in and started talking to the OB about her workouts and diet the previous week. Hello! What about the mom over there pushing! I couldn't help it, but I know I gave them an incredulous and dirty look. I just couldn't believe they were doing that! A new life was entering this world and they wanted to talk about how that nurse was able to lay off cheeseburgers for a week. Unbelievable. However, it happens more often than it should. The fact that it happened at all, even one time in this entire world, is more often than it should happen.

Much of what a doula can do for you happens during your prenatal visits. She can help you to think about those postpartum procedures, learn whether or not they really are required, encourage you to do your own research so you can make informed decisions, and empower you to find your voice. Many patients, not just in the birth world, are very intimidated by doctors and hospital staff. You do not have to be! A doula can help you find your voice with her quiet assurance and calming presence, guiding you as you have a memorable and empowering pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

To the mamas nearing the end of pregnancy

I asked mamas on two of my favorite facebook pages, Mama Birth and Birth Without Fear, what encouraging words would they say to a mama entering week 41 of pregnancy. Lots of moms responded with uplifting words, and I would like to share these words with those mamas that are nearing the end of their pregnancies. Whether this is your first, second or twentieth birth, I hope you enjoy these words from mamas who have been there and who are there now. You are not alone!

  • "Trust your body and your baby, they don't know a time clock and know the perfect time for them to be born!!"
  • "Stay away from negative, surround yourself with positive and relax!
  • "Sending you patience and serenity! Hang in there, Mama! Your baby will be here soon!"
  • "If you're getting impatient, try planning some nice things for yourself, like booking a massage, planning outings with friends, see a movie that you won't have time for after baby is here, etc. Hope that helps!"
  • "I'm right there with your momma!! I'm 40 weeks 6 days. Last week was the hardest for me...I got 8 messages one day...It was so irritating to me! This week I've felt much more at peace. I remembered how it truly is a blessing to have this child inside me. It's not about me, it's about this baby. Already, I'm putting myself and my discomfort aside so this little one can strive for health, love, and independence. Ignore the deadline and enjoy the little amount of time you have left feeling the amazing life inside of you. Good luck to you. XOXO"
  • "In South Africa, we say, "Vas byt! Min dae!" which translates roughly to "Grit your teeth. Just a few days!"
  • "Best words I got as I went all the way to 42 weeks: you'll never hold your baby this close again. Savor it."
  • "Trust your body. Trust your baby."
  • "Trust your baby and body. If there were no one around to bug you about being "overdue," what would you do? Nothing. You would trust your instincts and listen to your body. You would have your baby when you were ready."
  • "Sit back and relax. Your baby will be here when he/she is ready."
  • "I was 2.5 weeks "overdue." People kept asking, "Wow, you're still pregnant?" I said, "No, I just found a super cool new way to carry my baby, totally hands free!" he he. Good luck ladies, don't stress, your little bundle will be here sooner than later. I never knew anyone who was pregnant forever."
  • "Put your feet up and relax. Enjoy it while you can."
  • "Have a good cry. Let go of the stress/anxiety. Being on the edge of your seat leave you tense. Relax, then smile. They're almost here."
  • "My advice and words of encouragement to mamas of more than one would be to spend as much time with the older children as possible. Your baby will come when he or she is ready."
  • "Sleep and walk. Take a hot bath, deep breaths and just trust your body and your baby."
  • "Enjoy those last little kicks because trust me, you'll miss them."
  • "I am right there now....each day is hard...Crying lots is really the only thing that gets me through each day."
  • "This was me last week! But Monday he came at 40 weeks 6 days. It will happen!! It always does, even though its annoying to hear."
  • "Enjoy the last few private moments you have with just you and baby. Before long you'll have to share your baby with daddy, siblings, grandparents, friends..."
  • "Hang in there! They have to come out! They can't stay in there forever! Everyday they spend in utero is making them that much more perfect. Take this time to love yourself and love yourself."

And for all those people that keep asking you, "Have you had that baby yet?" Send them HERE.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Use your BRAIN for informed decision making

-Emily from Doula Ambitions blog

I first came across the BRAIN acronym for informed decision making while studying the ICEA website. There is an Informed Consent Discussion Sheet on the website that I like to share with clients. I have decided to follow Emily's lead (quoted above) and share the BRAIN acronym on this site. 

As a doula (in training), I feel it is part of my job to help clients feel empowered with the decisions they make during pregnancy and birth. Many women are in a vulnerable position and simply follow doctors' orders without question since, after all, "Doctor knows best." Yes, doctors and midwives are very knowledgeable and are trained to help you throughout pregnancy and birth. However, they are not perfect. You are the expert on YOUR body. I have heard moms say many times, "I just KNEW {fill in the blank} was happening, but the doctor wouldn't listen. It turned out I was right. I wish s/he would have listened." Remember, no one can do anything without your consent. If you do not SPEAK UP, then unfortunately, that is consent enough. 

Many women are worried about being perceived as contrary and confrontational. No one wants to be considered a "bad patient," right? However, it is up to you to make sure that you are receiving the care that you want and need. It is up to you to make sure you are fully informed of your choices. And how can you be fully informed? Do your research and ask questions! Asking questions is a great test as well. If your care provider seems like s/he does not like the fact that you are asking questions, that is a red flag! There are plenty of providers that welcome questions from their patients. Find them. 

Using your B-R-A-I-N:


How will this help my labor?
How will this help my baby?
How will this help me?


How will this affect my labor?
How will this affect my baby?
How will this affect me?


What are my other options?


What does my gut say?

Need Time:

I need time to think this decision through.
I need a private moment to talk with my family.
I would like to wait for now.

I recently had the opportunity to practice this activity with a client who was being faced with induction. She expressed the concern to me that she wanted to go into labor on her own. It turns out that she had not had the opportunity to speak face to face with her doctor and was receiving all information through a source that was not her primary care provider. By calling and asking questions, she no longer has a looming induction and will have the opportunity to talk to her doctor face to face about her options. (Provided that baby does not decide to make an appearance before then.) 

Please know that just because someone is suggesting a procedure, it does not mean you must do it! Go through the questions, consider all advice given, consider alternatives, listen to your intuition and make the most informed decision that you can. If you are informed, you can go into any decision with the confidence and knowledge that you are doing the absolute best thing for your baby and for yourself. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hyperemesis Gravidarum: A personal account

After one of my dear friends started experiencing morning sickness, I decided to do research on remedies for morning sickness to share with my clients. I also asked moms I knew for their morning sickness remedies. During my research I started learning about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG). As moms started replying to my requests for morning sickness remedies, some of the moms started to tell me of their experiences with HG. My heart went out to those moms. Below is a personal account of a mom who experienced HG and how she got through it. This story moved me to tears, and I asked if I could share her words exactly as they are. Posted with permission.

With HG I wasn't just nauseated, I felt like I needed to rush to the toilet to puke out my guts all the time.  Actually vomiting brought no relief from this feeling of urgency.   I received lots and lots and lots of advice on how to handle “morning sickness” but the truth was, without medication I did vomit constantly.  I don't know how much detail you want but I will share a couple of examples to illustrate.  

During my first pregnancy, I really had no way of knowing how much vomiting was “normal” during pregnancy.  When I told people at the doctor's office how far along I was, they wanted me to come to a class, have a pregnancy test, get some information and then they would make me a preliminary appointment.  So I started the process.  At the class, I clutched a plastic bowl and managed to raise some red flags with the nurse.  She got me an appointment two days later.  However, before I made it to the appointment, I ended up on the floor of our bathroom.  Almost like contractions in labor, the bouts of vomiting kept getting closer and closer together.  All I could do was pull a couple of towels down next to me.  I would lift my head up just enough to heave and vomit onto the towel.  I had nothing in my stomach, not even water.  Bile and dried blood were all that came up.  My throat was raw and sore. It was when I began to beg God to let me die so that I wouldn't have to endure the pain any more that I realized the severity of my predicament.  I asked Tom* to take me to the ER.  Once there they gave me fluids and anti-nausea medication. 

Many more trips to the ER followed through the rest of that pregnancy, it terminated in a miscarriage three weeks later,  and the two following pregnancies.  It was during one of these trips that the second episode occurred, although I don't remember when exactly it was.  I was once again vomiting from an empty stomach.  I begged the nurses and attendants to give me water.  Tom asked them for water. They refused because they knew I was too sick to keep the water down.  They were going to give me IV fluids and medication and told me I needed to wait for that.  The problem was that in the 15 or so minutes that I had to wait, I would throw up multiple times.  I craved the feeling of cool, clear water coming back up my throat as opposed to the harsh and bitter bile that was coming up anyway. 

During my pregnancy with John, my 17 year old sister came to stay with us for several months.  She took care of me and also kept me company.  Tina cleaned, brought me food, and made sure I always had a bowl handy.  Although I was not under a doctor's order to stay on bed rest, I wasn't able to do much because of the sickness and the side effects of the medication.  

Since my treatments for both pregnancies were radically different I think I should explain here the  various medications given.  With John, I was given a PICC line and ordered 2 bags of IV fluid per day and Phenergen given every 8 hours.  I was unable to give myself the medicine through the IV because it put me to sleep so fast that I couldn't flush the line and cap it like I needed to.  With Sarah I was in a different state and had a whole new set of doctors.  There was no precedent for allowing an HG patient to receive fluids at home.  They tried to control the vomiting with Phenergen.  The medicine would put me to sleep but did not stop the heaving and vomiting.  I was finally hospitalized and a complex mixture of drugs worked out for me.  I was put on Regalin, which had the side effect of making me very, very anxious and nervous.  To counter this, I was put on Benedryl to calm me down.  I was prescribed Unisom at 12 hour intervals to lessen the mucus and saliva in my mouth.  It seems that there were one or two other drugs that I was also to take at certain times during the day.  Tom purchased a large weekly pill case, the kind that have slots for morning, lunch, dinner, and evening so that he could keep track of everything.  (Funny story:  About this time we went to Mom and Dad's for a visit.  Chris came home and saw the pill case on the dining room table.  He asked which Grandma had come for a visit.  Although I usually have a pretty good sense of humor, it was more than 5 years before I was ableto actually laugh at that story.) 

At the time of my pregnancies, Zofran was fairly new.  It was outrageously expensive, thousands of dollars for a single prescription, and there was not enough data for doctors to feel comfortable prescribing it to expectant mothers.  I was given small doses of it in the hospital and for a time it was part of my regimen with Sarah.  However, the doctors felt very strongly about getting me off of it in spite of the fact that it worked much better than anything else at controlling the vomiting and had fewer side effects. 

At the time I was pregnant with Sarah, my sister was college and there was no one to stay with me for an extended period of time.  My Mom came out for two weeks but couldn't stay.  I still had siblings living at home who needed her.  Things were also complicated by the fact that I had to care for a small toddler. We tried to have members of the ward care for him during the mornings but going to a different home each day proved to be more than he could handle.  He would hide in the mornings so that Tom couldn't take him anywhere. 

It was at this time that John also began hording food.  Usually we would leave crackers or bread on the table for him to eat during the day.  However, sometimes we would forget or I would be late getting out of bed.  So he started taking the boxes of crackers and loaves of bread and stashing them in his room.  When we found them we would take them out but we couldn't very well punish him for what was in reality a survival technique.  It wasn't until after Sarah's birth, upon finding  him trying to eat a slice of completely green and black bread, that we put our foot down about food in the bedroom. 

What I wished for so often during that pregnancy was an adopted Mom.  I needed someone to come into my home, clean my dishes, do some laundry, feed my son, play with him, talk to me and leave me with something healthy for dinner.  The thing was, I needed someone every day.  Just about any type of odor would set me gagging and possibly throwing up—which then had the potential to spin out of control.  So even something as basic as bathing myself or brushing my teeth became a risky endeavor. Most of the time I didn't even dare to walk into the kitchen if there were dirty dishes in the sink.   I craved all sorts of homemade foods, but I couldn't stand the smell of cooking.  Even Tom heating up food in the microwave could set me off.  I felt as helpless as a baby and even more misunderstood. Almost no one outside my immediate family knew how serious my condition was.  To most people it seemed that I was making too much of what was actually a normally severe case of morning sickness. 

The emotional isolation was almost as bad as the physical setbacks.  Even when I did get the rare opportunity to be in a social setting, I found that my life, being filled with vomiting and sickness, hardly made for pleasant conversation.  My interaction with my husband was limited due both to my illness and his exhaustion.  I couldn't hold my son because his energetic movements made me sick.  It seemed that no one could possibly understand how sick I was.  

(I am amazed at how many people are unfamiliar with this condition.  After her sojourn with me, my sister attended BYU Idaho and enrolled in a Child Psychology class.  Part of the class discussed pregnancy and birth.  At one point, the instructor described HG to the class.  One student asked if it was possible to get so sick that you could die.  The instructor dismissed that concept out of hand and said something to the effect that your body would never allow that to happen.  My sister raised her hand and respectfully disagreed with her instructor using her firsthand experience as my nurse as evidence.  Apparently she ended up answering questions on the topic for most of the class period.)  

About six months after Sarah was born, my mother called me.  She was Relief Society President in her ward and there was a young mom who was being released from the hospital after being treated for HG.  She asked me to call and talk with her.  I felt funny since I didn't know the woman but I called and spoke with her.  She told me how she felt and I knew what she was talking about.  I told some things to do and not to do.  Mostly, I told her not to feel guilty about all the things she couldn't do.  Just staying alive, and keeping the baby alive, was about all she could handle.  

I assured her that I was fine now.  Sometimes it can seem like you will be sick forever.  But once the baby is born, the sickness vanishes like a shadow at noon.  (Actually, I was pretty lucky because I was able to stop medication at about 20 weeks although I still had “normal” morning sickness for the entire pregnancy.  Some women have HG the whole 9 months.) She cried.  I cried.  I wished so bad that someone had called and talked to me like that when I was pregnant. 

Finally, I will share with you one of the sweetest experiences of my pregnancy dramas.  I had just gotten the sickness under control while expecting Sarah.  I was taking so many drugs that affected me physically, mentally and emotionally.  I was exhausted and sick.  I was trying to take care of John again. He wasn't even 2 yet.  Several times within about a week people had asked about my condition and then commented something to this effect,  “Well, at least you can look at how much you love John. You know all this will be worth it when this baby is born and you will love it just as much.” 

This wasn't very comforting.  Then one day, watching John play in our front room, I realized that I didn't love him.  I mean, I knew that somewhere inside of me I really loved him and loved Tom but I didn't feel any love.  I didn't feel the happiness that comes from being with people you love. That night I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before.  I asked Heavenly Father to show me what I needed to do so that I could feel that love again.  I thought maybe I needed to serve my family more but I didn't see how I possibly could.  I just didn't see how I could endure everything I was going through without the joy that comes from loving my family.  I fell asleep that night praying for the strength to do whatever I needed to do. 

In the morning, I woke up with so much love in my heart I thought I would burst.  I loved my little boy. I couldn't  wait to feed him breakfast and watch him play.  I loved my husband.  I was so grateful for everything he was doing for me.  I was so glad to be his wife.  I was so thankful that he was the father of my children.  Throughout the rest of my pregnancy, I was filled with this overwhelming love.  I believe that the lack of emotion was a side effect of being sick and on so many different medications. The Lord blessed me to overcome this side effect in order to lighten my burden and bless my family. 

*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of this family.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Belly dance during birth

Last night I enjoyed my final prenatal visit with my clients who will be first time parents soon. I love spending time with them because everything is so new and exciting for them. It reminds me of my time recently as a first time mom preparing for birth. My goal with them is to try to share as many positive images of birth as I can and to share ideas of different birth experiences. I hope it will help Mom get an idea of the kind of birth she wants. I sent her a homework assignment to write down what her ideal birth experience would be and to send it to me. I do not think there is anything wrong with having an idea of what kind of birth you want.

I came across a couple of videos of belly dance for birth that I was excited to share with a couple of my first time moms. They are fantastic and illustrate how beautiful the pregnant belly is and how glorious the laboring mom is.

I love the word "embrace" that the narrator uses in the following video. One should embrace the femininity in pregnancy and birth. It is so womanly and lovely. I love how she reminds the viewer that our bodies know what to do. Our bodies know how to give birth. Embrace it.

I appreciate the next video because it shows how simple the belly dancing moves can be. I have absolutely no aptitude when it comes to dance; my talents are musical. This video shows that anyone can use belly dance, and many of the moves women instinctually do during labor are a form of belly dance. How fun!