This is the birth of your child. Own it!

As I sit here today, I wait on two extraordinary women to begin labor.  They are in different situations, have different families, are seeing separately unique care type providers, and live thousands of miles apart. Neither of them suspected today would be Labor Day, yet they are both faced with knowing they will birth their children in the coming hours or days.  

Things happen. As much as I trust a woman’s body to carry and deliver her child unaided, I also am beyond grateful for the advanced medical care we have available to us.  

Just because the date is not what you expected, or the situation is different than you imagined, please don’t let this experience go.  Don’t chalk it up to bad luck.  Don’t say next time will be different (and it most likely will). Don’t wish away your experiences! Be present still. Ask questions. Continue to make educated decisions about your care!

  • B – what are the BENEFITS?
  • R – what are the RISKS?
  • A – what are the ALTERNATIVES?
  • I – what does my INTUITION say?
  • N – what happens if I do NOTHING? 

A medically intervened birth is not a failure.  Real devastation lies in a woman not being educated or supported in labor. There is tragedy in the loss of human rights in childbirth. There is suffering where there is not informed consent.  There is sorrow in the loss of life.  


There is power in the voice of a laboring woman. There is strength in her words.  There is the legacy of every mother and grandmother above her sharing in this childbirth experience. There is support from family and friends who come around her as she finds the power deep within herself to carry on. 

And the love. Oh the love. There is nothing like it. And you will want to do it all over again because the love!  

So go forth. Be empowered. Surround yourself with support. And love that baby! 

Fresh Starts

Hey I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions (or almost-February resolutions) but I do love the idea of fresh starts and blank slates.  I like to start each morning knowing that it is a brand new day full of possiblities – even if I roll out of bed every morning grudgingly walking blindly to the coffeemaker with my PJs on. So today, my kids went to their grandparents and I had some serious alone time.  Time to sit around, read a murder mystery novel, eat leftovers by myself, watch movies I DVRed a month ago, AND get a plan in place for my Lamaze certification.  

I figured I needed to get it in writing so I am more likely to follow through and have some accountability.  So this April I take my Lamaze exam and hopefully by the end of the year I will be a LCCE.   I’ve been doula-ing for a while now and I am ready to take the next step to serve my clients here in Pittsburgh.  Yay for fresh starts!!!



It has been a while since my last posting.  Our family made a big move this month.  The Lord called us to a new church in a new city.  While we were so very excited to follow the call and move our family to Pittsburgh, there was a lot of sadness leaving our friends and our previous church as well. There were many tears while talking with our boys about why they had to leave their schools and all of their friends. I was asking them to leave the only home they knew.  And while I kept a smile on my face and hope in my words, inside I was definitely fighting battles of fear, stress, and uncertainty.  I knew so clearly that we were following God’s call but it was so hard to be in the middle of a tangle of details that needed to be worked out.

Soon, my soul began feeling lighter.  Every time something was crossed off of my to-do list, I felt a little more bounce in my step. We are entirely on the upswing now.  We are so happy at our new church and in our new home.  I love getting to know new friends and spending time with my boys all around the city while we explore together. I am also nearing the end of my doula haitus! This means I am waiting for my first post-move client to deliver.  I am ecstatic to jump back into my work and embrace a new start.  I plan to continue my Lamaze certification process and do some serious business organization this coming year!  I am working on my vision.

I will admit that Thanksgiving completely snuck up on me, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t given thought to the gratitude in my heart. I have been overwhelmed with thanksgiving throughout this whole process. God is always faithful to us and I am so thankful I can rely on Him above all else. My husband has been beyond supportive as well during the past months. I would say that we balance each other out well, but all I really know is that he balances me out.  I think I might only add a little crazy to his terribly organized and calm life.

I am thankful for my children and their energy.  Sometimes it is the things that make me lose it, that I am actually most thankful for. I am so thankful they have a childhood full of play, friendships, fun, and wild imaginations.

Those are the serious gratitude nods.  I am also terribly thankful for chocolate, hot drinks, snow falling, wi-fi, music, cookie exchanges, and our super stinky dog who really needs a bath.

The real joy of a vbac

I am the mother of two boys born through a cesarean birth.   I have a seriously soft spot for moms seeking a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean).  I am a doula, I have experience with childbirth, I have steadily attended births for the past 4 years, I passionately research and obsess over childbirth.  I did not pursue a vbac.  I think so much from my first birth carried over to my second birth, and I was scared.

I wasn’t with a terribly supportive care giver – she really didn’t seem to care which type of birth I wanted. And I just defaulted to the birth I knew. I made the decision that was best for me.  I scheduled a cesarean.  I loved it, and I had a beautiful boy with rolls on his arms and who loved to cuddle.  He started nursing right away and my recovery was amazing.  I have no complaints!

But I will say there is something almost magical about a vbac.  Maybe it is the mom stepping out of her comfort zone, leaving the birth she knows, and trying something that may have failed her the first time around. Maybe she is overcoming a distrust of her body. Maybe she is showing everyone how strong she knows she is. Maybe she is facing a fear head on.  Maybe this is the final step on a long journey of recovery and education.

But every mom who succeeds with her vbac experiences a joy unique to her. On top of the overwhelming joy of the birth of a child, of welcoming your child to the world, of holding him for the first time, is the joy of a fear that has been overcome, a body that has worked how she always hoped it would, and the final stop on a long road.

As a doula, my eyes are never dry at a birth.  But I hold myself together, because it is hard for me to support a mom while I am blowing my nose and sobbing and mumbling.  The support definitely goes on past the birth, through recovery, through skin to skin, through breastfeeding, through baby care, and through taking any pictures I can of those first few moments.

From – Thanks!

To all of your cesarean birth mamas out there who want to pursue a vbac – you can do it! Make sure you have a very supportive care provider. Ask lots of questions. Hire a doula.  Talk to your partner and make sure you’re on the same page. And finally…the hardest part…practice trusting your body.  All birth is beautiful and powerful but vbacs will always hold a special place in my heart.

my path


My husband and I were young and attending grad school together up in Massachusetts. We were one year away from graduation when we found out we were pregnant! Despite the seemingly bad timing, we were actually quite ecstatic.  We knew we wanted to have kids and trusted that everything would fall into place however was best.  Now I don’t know if it is because we were young, or if it was because we were so busy with working full time and being students full time, but the bottom line is we were not prepared for the birth of our first child.  Not prepared at all.  We signed up for the childbirth class offered by the hospital and assumed it would be everything we needed to have a happy birth.

We wrote papers for our school classes, we worked as many hours as we could before the due date, we did everything we could except prepare for our child.  Well we did make a registry so we could clothe our child… we weren’t completely helpless.

We also thought that maybe we needed a crib.  So one day in the 32nd week of our pregnancy, we piled in the car with some friends to make an ever-so-iconic trip to Ikea.  On the way we had to stop in to my OBs office for a quick check up – just a normal, pee in a cup, how are you feeling, visit.  Except, as it turns out, this visit wasn’t as run of the mill as we had hoped.  I had some stomach pains the night before, and that combined with the ridiculously high blood pressure I had that day and the presence of protein in my urine, our day’s plans were no longer our own.

We immediately went to the hospital for a non-stress test and some blood work.  The news was not good – at least that was all I got from the nurse who couldn’t tell me anything.  She just looked at me with sad eyes and asked me to come up to labor and delivery to talk with the OB on call.  Silence.  Josh and I just looked at each other – our biggest concern was our friends waiting for us in the cafeteria wanting to go to Ikea. What in the world did the OB want to talk to us about??

Well, thinking we were going to his office, we were actually led to a labor and deliver suite.  Complete with fetal monitoring system, labor bed, and gown.  A GOWN! What???

We were told I needed a cesarean birth immediately, Josh asked the doctor what our other options were, and again we just got stares. “Options?” He asked? “You don’t have any options.”

We were immediately put in our place. This pregnancy was no longer ours.  This experience was taken from us at that moment precisely.  Birth was no longer something I was able to have a say in and we shut down.  We both did.

In the end, I was diagnosed with HELLP Syndrome, I had a cesarean birth exactly 48 hours after our ‘talk’ with the OB, and our 3 ½ lb baby spent 17 days in the NICU. There are plenty of more details to share about that experience. I did have some OBs who spoke up for me, who offered some compassion during what was a terrifying experience, but the tone was set by OB#1.

And I have been on a path since that day.  A path of healing, forgiveness, and building myself back up. It has taken me 6 ½ years to naturally go from saying ‘Then they took him by cesarean’ to ‘I had a cesarean birth’.  That is HUGE for me. His birth looked different from others, but it was his birth.

So my path has been restorative and healing.  I have been a doula for almost 5 years now and have started my Lamaze certification process now as well.  I am so blessed to be in a position to educate and empower women through their labor and birth experiences. And I am so thankful for each and every opportunity I have to do that.