With September, comes my reminiscing of my 2nd's birth.
I woke up on my “guess date” with my youngest on September 2nd 2013 with no sign of labor. I had been having Braxton Hicks (BH) on and off that week, but nothing continued. I called a dear friend of mine to meet me at the local track to go walking. After all this is what helped kick start labor on my due date with my second. So why not give it a go again? My, at the time, 4 year old son ran ahead and was squashing lantern flies (yes, remember that year?) and we walked and talked about life. After a little while, cramping started and maintained so I decided to go home and rest. After getting into the bathroom, I lost a TON of my mucus plug (there was no denying or questioning). I rested a bit, cleaned, prepared, and hoped that labor would come. My husband came home from work and contractions were steady. Enough to feel, but nothing intense. I called my midwives to fill them in and decided to go in since it was an hour drive. Contractions continued very steadily, but again, nothing too intense. My midwife met me at the door and we went in where I chose to be checked. I was about 3cm at 3PM and after nothing was changing or moving into active labor by 5:30/6, we decided to go home. Contractions intensified and continued being consistent in spacing. I rested between contractions in bed in hopes to conserve energy as I had no idea how long our night would be. I practiced breathing techniques and counting, which worked very well for me throughout contractions. I hopped in the shower to test if this was real or passing and things intensified. I hopped out and walked our hall a little while also squatting using our banister to steady myself. I called my midwife and told her that we were coming back and woke my hubby up. The ride back to the birth center was a combination of me being calm and breathing while also spurts of cursing and wondering what on earth I was doing. We got to the birth center a little past 12AM on September 3rd, 2013. We were greeted graciously by my wonderful midwife Heather and requested to be checked for dilation after we settled in. I was about 6cm, I was thrilled that I was making progress and already felt that this labor was going to be so very different than my first. My husband was incredibly supportive, my midwife and nurse were amazing in making positional suggestions and checking in if I needed anything. Things continued to vamp up and I found comfort in side-lying with a pillow between my legs- I breathed and counted. The ebb and flow of the contractions came on and drifted. Around 1:40AM I told my midwife that I did not need to push, but felt a decent amount of pressure and that I might have a bowel movement. She asked if she could do a cervical check based and I said yes. Surprise! (No, no baby yet) I had part of my amniotic sac birth (about the size of a grapefruit), which we were told was pretty rare. My birthnerd self has a picture of it and I’m in awe of how crazy it progressed and felt to this day. I was about 9cm and decided to go into the tub to relax a little before I was ready to push. As soon as my bum hit the bottom I jumped up and yelled “He’s coming! I have no control and I am pushing!” Heather reached down to check and sure enough, there was his head. My hubby and Heather assisted me to the bed where I roared my baby out on all fours. My sweet husband in front of me and my midwife and nurse behind me. They encouraged me to take my roar inward and down and after an adjustment in positions and pushing for 2 minutes (yes, 2), my baby was earthside. He decided to birth with a nuchal hand (hand on face during birth), just to make it a little more fun on mommy. I got immediate skin-to-skin and had amazing care from my midwife during immediate postpartum. All my needs and wants were met. I got a walk through of my placenta (again, birthnerd here has an amazing picture of this too) while holding my bub on my chest. It was beautiful, undisturbed, and peaceful. Within 20 minutes he was nursing like a champ and we all rested soon after. This was my healing birth and I am forever grateful to my husband and support staff who prepared me for this day and supported me along the way. Asher Caden Nesspor was born at 2:07AM at 9LB 10OZ. Did I mention this sweet bub was our 1st reversal (AKA reversal after a vasectomy) baby?
Here I am 4 years later and it still gets me emotional and excited. Birth is powerful like that. I encourage everyone to write down their birth story soon after baby is born so they can remember things they may otherwise forget. It can help you remember the sweetness and powerfulness of a positive birth or even help you process and grieve a negative or even traumatic birth. It's helped me after each of my children in different ways.
Doula support takes many forms. From pregnancy to birth to postpartum, each journey with my clients and their families is unique. It's beautifully unique. I love the relationships that grow and the empowerment I get to witness and be a part of. It's incredible to educate and get information into parent's hands that they may not have otherwise. It's amazing to watch moms, dads, and siblings prepare for a birth and the journey that will follow. It's mind-blowing witnessing the birth of a mother and birth of their new child. It's humbling to be alongside of families through their pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting journey.
Hi there! I am hoping this post finds you well. I am writing this so that people are aware of where I stand and how I have been handling things this past year. I know this will steer many away while resonate with many others. Either way, I wish you the best. I believe in full transparency and freedom to choose what works best for you and your family- whether that is me or another doula and educator who you will align with well.
I understand some not only will cordially disagree with me but be very against my choices... I believe in personal and medical freedom and will stand for that at any cost. I believe everyone should be able to make informed decisions that are best for themselves and their family. Keep reading to find out what I'm talking about. If you move forward to invite me to support you, I look forward to giving you the best support and education I can offer- it's such a blessing and life-changing opportunity. If I am not the doula or educator for you, I hope you find someone who is absolutely awesome and perfect for you and your family!
Yes, the coronavirus can be deadly. Yes, it can have short and long-term affects. So can many many other things in our lives. With that, this is how I live and I am telling you so that you can make the decision here and now if I am the doula and educator for you or not. So what does this look like?
First, I do not wear a mask. The only times in the past 10 months was for walking into medical centers (for personal needs or births) and for a loved one's funeral. Second, we do not adhere to social isolation standards. We have lived our lives as normal- enjoying life with friends and family. No, I will not receive the Covid-19 Vaccine.
I look forward to getting to know you.
What a year it has been! One that has been filled with unexpected twists and turns, yet still making the best of it!
We welcomed our baby girl, Diana Lee, on May 4th 2020 amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. I was so thankful to have had an amazing support team; my husband, doula, midwife and nurse at our birth center. I was disappointed and heartbroken that our son was no longer able to attend as we had planned. However, I was very grateful for the beautiful experience we had. She has been such a blessing and is full of Joy! Diana made her debut at 21.5" and 10LB, 10OZ.
During these months, I have supported families virtually (previously planned due to baby Nesspor, not Rona) and in person. Now more than ever I have seen an increase in the need of having additional support for families. Not because you cannot do it on your own, not at all. You are powerful and made for this! However, things have changed quickly, too quickly, and having a doula on your side can be a game changer throughout pregnancy when your prenatal visits have been shortened and made less personal, when staff at hospitals are limited and more hands off, and during a very unique postpartum journey. You are never alone, not should you be unless you desire to be.
I am excited to continue to support families in 2021 and see their strength shine through!
I was so thankful to be invited to speak at an info night at McCormick Chiropractic Center in Pottstown this past month. It was a wonderful time to connect with expectant parents, future parents, and expectant grandparents!
We were able to do a mini session of breaking down fears that can greatly impact birth and postpartum as well as discussing the ways a doula can transform ones' pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. So how can I support you and transform yours and your partner's journey?
Prenatally, I help you learn all of your options for your birth and how to utilize your BRAIN (benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and doing nothing) to make your decisions. During this time my goal is for you to become empowered through education. I am your trusted go-to resource for informative and emotional support. We learn, plan, and practice your birth. Just like a marathon, you need to know the course and practice to be best prepared. We also do postpartum planning to best prepare you for your fourth trimester. Our prenatal meetings are often a customized blend of private childbirth education, breastfeeding education, and postpartum planning.
During your labor and birth, I watch the clock so you don't get caught up on what time it is or how long it's been. I'm here to remind you of your plans and offer suggestions throughout your labor. I am your coach and support to your other support persons. I have resources available to ease your labor. I encourage you, ground you, and help you refocus. I help you maintain the environment you want for your birth and get you whatever you need so you can focus on you.and stay in your labor world.
After your blessing(s) is born and the world's attention shifts from you to them, my focus stays on you. I offer you feeding support and resources. I bring you a meal and hold you and baby. We discuss the variations of normal while discussing how you're settling into this new role (even as a mother of many). We prepare for the days, weeks, and months ahead. But it doesn't just drop off and end. I am only ever a phone call or text away. I continue to follow up with you to see how you're *really* doing and continue to offer resources that you need along your journey.
2019 has been amazing and I am so thankful for the families that have allowed me to support them and care for them. You are truly amazing. It's incredible to see such strong women labor, birth, and become mothers while their husbands have love, supported, and been by their side as they themselves become fathers.
We are expecting our third baby, a little girl, in the spring of 2020! We are so excited and it is amazing to me how differently I have gone about my journey this time around. When you know more, you do more. As for planning and preparation... I immediately called local midwives and my local birth center to check availability and weigh our options. Next I contacted a good friend and doula to book her services. Though I am a doula and this is my third birth, I know pregnancy and birth is unpredictable and I cannot be my own doula in that moment- I need to be mom and be in my birth zone. I'm so excited to do my prenatal with her, my husband, and our 6 y.o. son who wants to be present and involved. I am much more conscious of my lifestyle choices (more protein and less carbs!), my posture, and mindset this time around as well. I am mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually preparing for this birth each and every day- this is incredibly powerful! A beautiful thing as a doula this time around is how many more options I am aware of that are available to me prenatally, throughout labor and birth, and postpartum. This is something I love teaching my clients prenatally- know ALL of your options and make informed choices that are best for you and your family. Choose a place of birth and care team that is going to respect and care for you based on what you want and need, one that will hear what you say. When you do this, you don't have to fight for what you want.
As for my business, I am excepting clients up through the end of February and will be taking a break until at least August. In the meantime, I have wonderful doulas near Boyertown that I can point you to! I'm excited to figure out where I will be going with my business after our little one makes their debut. In the next few weeks/months, I'll get a better idea of how I will continue my labor support as a doula and where I will be expanding on offering childbirth and breastfeeding education (group/private classes).
Until next time!
Birth plans. To create one or not to create one. That is the question.
It's not a rigid laundry list of items to cross off. No, not at all! Creating your birth plan is much more. It's about the preparation and the foreknowledge. This is a time to learn all of your option, research evidence-based information to help you make your decisions, and decide what is best for you and your family. This is a time to mentally walk through your labor, birth, and immediate postpartum and decide what you want it to look like. This is a starting point to prepare. After you decide, go back and re-decide, and maybe go back again after more research and thinking... Use your BRAIN (benefit, risk, alternatives, intuition, nothing) analysis. You get to start preparing and practicing. This is labor, birth, and beyond. You don't want to practice while you're running a 5K, you want to train and prepare. Now that you have your birth plan created, this is the time to work with your doula and learn what it's going to take, practice labor, and practice techniques with your doula and support person(s), should you have one.
What if I'm afraid that everything will go awry if I started planning my birth to be a certain way?
Isn't this setting me up to be disappointed if things don't go the way I plan?
These, and many other questions are very valid and have very real feelings and concerns behind them. Again, creating a birth plan is not a laundry list. This is the opportunity to become fully informed of all of your options. Meaning that if birth is taking a few turns you weren't anticipating, you are still ready for what is happening and able to make informed decisions that are best for you and baby. You are able to reassess your birth using your BRAIN (benefit, risk, analysis, intuition, and nothing) analysis and all of the information you've prepared with to make the next decision for your birth without feeling pressured and ill-informed and ill-prepared.
You are included. You have a voice. You are informed. You are empowered. You are supported.
Birth is a labyrinth and there are many paths to my baby. Being prepared with a birthplan helps you navigate your way through your birth labyrinth while being informed and empowered.
Birth excites me. Women feeling empowered about their maternal journey and decisions excites me. My hope as your doula is that you feel informed, empowered, and supported. I want you to feel and know this after you walk away from each meeting, every communication we have, throughout your labor and birth, and beyond in your 4th trimester and parenting. You deserve to be informed of all of your options that are available to you so that you can not just give informed consent, but so that you make an informed decision in all aspects of your journey. I want you to carry that information and be empowered from our meetings and conversations so that you can proudly advocate for yourself and your baby(ies) best maternal options and experiences. Lastly, I want you to be supported. I want you to know that I am in your corner cheering you on, meeting you where you're at, and listening to you. Physically, I am there for a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, hands-on birth support.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog section. I'm going to write a little bit about who I am so you can get to know me while you're on my site. My name is Hannah, I am the doula and founder behind Transcend Maternal Services! I love Jesus and that really drives my love and care for everyone around me and all that I do. I am a wife to an amazing husband, Bob. We've been married for 7 years now, together for almost 13 years which is crazy to think. I'm so thankful for him and proud to be his wife, we've truly grown together through so many things over the years. I am also a mother to two wonderful, crazy boys. My oldest is 5 and my youngest is 1.5, but that doesn't stop him from keeping up with his big brother. I'm a homeschooling Momma with a teaching background in elementary education. This has been a wonderful and challenging experience for myself and him, we both have grown so much. I am part of a women's ministry and that has been a huge blessing over the past few years. The ministry and the relationships that I have made from it have really helped build who I am as a woman and has helped me find my village which was (and is) amazing as a young mom. I wear many hats, but I will end with being a doula. I love supporting and informing women. The more I live in the "birth world" and learn, the more passionate I have become to inform women of all of their options, help them find the power they have within themselves to be empowered, and to support them through their journey through pregnancy, labor, birth, and beyond! There are so many intimate moments that I am blessed to be a part of and it is truly amazing.
Until next time...
It's crazy to me that there was a time when I did not know what a doula was. A doula in it's simplest and straight-to-the-point terms is informational, emotional, and physical support. But oh my! It is so much more. Pregnancy and birth are transformative. This is a journey, a beautiful one at that. It has many intimate moments that lay near and dear to your heart that are too tender to share and other parts that you want to shout from the roof top. Who you go through this journey with is so important. They take the roles of supporting you through everything- the good and the bad, the easy and the hard. As your doula, I am your go-to person who isn't going to think you're weird or crazy for having discomfort (or utter pain) in "that place" or having off the wall dreams. When you don't fully understand something, I'm here to give you evidence-based information to best make your decisions and so much more. During labor, I am there to support you in keeping in line with your birth goals as much as possible. I am able to provide you with the risks and benefits of different scenarios, provide suggestions for positional changes, and remind you of other information we've discussed prenatally so you have all of your options provided. I offer hands-on physical techniques for pain relief and an encouraging voice to coach you on and remind you of the power you have inside. I am here to well up with pride of how well you've done and gush over your perfect little one. I am here to support you with breastfeeding support, if this is what you choose, right after baby has arrived so you can treasure that golden hour. I am there to get you an amazing meal to nourish you body with after labor. I am there for you when you are settling in at home and your milk has come in and you need suggestions with breastfeeding after the first couple days and beyond (as it changes constantly). I am here to check in on you and your baby- to see how things are going (mentally, emotionally, and physically) the first few days, weeks, and months. I am here to support and love you through your unique, beautiful, and powerful journey.
Founder of Transcend Maternal Services, Wife, Mommy, Homeschooling Momma, and Doula!