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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Fatal Consequences Of Tampons


Amy Rae Elifritz (The "ARE" in "You ARE Loved") was a healthy 20y/o with a full life ahead of her until June 13, 2010, when she died suddenly of Toxic Shock Syndrome(TSS). {You can read about her in the PDF brochure HERE}. From that time on, Lisa(her mom) has been committed to doing everything possible to raise awareness.  In 2011, she founded the non-profit organization You ARE Loved.  As of June 2011, the organization has already reached tens of thousands of people through face-to-face educational programs and online awareness initiatives.


TSS develops when the common bacteria, Staphylococcus Aureus, produce a toxin which is absorbed into the bloodstream. The toxin rapidly overwhelms the immune system and attacks the major organs, leading to kidney failure, collapse of the lungs and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. Alarmingly, half of all known cases of Toxic Shock are women using TAMPONS.

Symptoms of TSS

  • Sore throat
  • Aching muscles
  • High temperature; over 102 degrees F
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Red rash
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Very low blood pressure
Only one or two symptoms may occur. They do not necessarily occur all at once and may not persist.

What You Should Do

  • Remove the tampon (save it if possible)
  • Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention
  • Inform the doctor that you have been using tampons
  • Take TSS information leaflet with you

After Effects of TSS?

Survivors of Toxic Shock Syndrome may have been hospitalized for weeks and there is usually a long recovery period. They may have suffered:
  • Loss of fingers and toes due to gangrene
  • Permanent kidney and liver damage
  • Deafness and blindness
  • Peeling skin, and loss of nails and hair
  • Continual infections
  • Short term memory loss
  • No energy for months or even years
  • Psychological and emotional distress

To Reduce the Risk of TSS

  • Use a Menstrual Cup
  • Only use tampons made of organic cotton
  • Use the lowest absorbency needed at each stage of your period
  • Avoid using tampons continuously during a period. Alternate with sanitary pads at night so the toxins have time to dissipate.
  • Use a pad at the end of your period
  • Change tampons every 4 to 6 hours
  • Don’t use tampons if you’ve had any unusual discharge
  • Wash your hands before and after use and handle the tampon as little as possible
  • Alert your family and friends to the symptoms and emergency action required
  • Read and keep this information leaflet or the leaflet inside the tampon packet

If you have ever had TSS, NEVER – EVER use tampons again!

What Causes TSS?

There are two types of TSS, one is caused by Staphylococcus aureus and the other type occurs during menstruation with the use of tampons. Vaginal tampons, especially those containing any synthetic ingredients like viscose rayon, create the physical-chemical conditions that allow for TSST-1 toxin production to degress dependent upon the composition of the tampon and the environment it creates. Research clearly shows that the toxins of Staphylococcus aureus are amplified by these tampons. (the tampon connection).

There has never been a case of TSS caused by the use of all-cotton tampons.

I highly recommend looking into menstrual cups

over the all cotton tampons. 

Lunette Cup(I own this)
Diva Cup
Even Cloth pads would be better

Monday, September 26, 2011

Milk Sharing: Why And How!!

This week is National Milk Sharing Week 2011. If you want to know more about it, here is a link for more information:

In honor of this week, I am going to write about the who, what, where, when, why and how of milk sharing. Let's begin with the WHAT...

What is "Milk Sharing":

When a mom that has plenty/extra breastmilk not being used and wants to share it with a mom that for whatever reason is not able to provide enough breastmilk of her own for her child, but, doesn't want or can't use formula.

Why "Milk Share":

There are many reasons parents seek out milk sharing for their babies. Some preemies are very formula intolerant and develop necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) because of this. Studies have shown that preemies fed breastmilk are less likely to develop the condition. 

Some moms have had double mastectomies and cannot breastfeed, but, want their children to still get the milk instead.

Some women have insufficient glandular tissue (IGT) and find it hard to produce quite enough. Therefore, they choose donor milk to bridge the gap instead of formula.

Other moms adopt and find that relactaction is not something they want to do or can't do, so, donor milk it is. 

Another reason some people go for donor milk is that the mom has passed away soon before or after the birth of the child and the dad knew mom wanted to nurse and chooses to get donor milk for baby.

Then, there are beauties like Anaya(She is a 2 y/o with Krabbe's Disease who have thrived off the generosity of others. She has grown by leaps and bounds from the donations of breastmilk since she was born. ,

Where And When is "Milk Sharing" happening:

EVERYWHERE and EVERYDAY!!!!! And I will show you who is helping!!!!

Who is helping with "Milk Sharing":

Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) (Main page, be sure to visit the other pages)

Eats On Feets (About page, be sure to visit the other pages)

How to "Milk Share":
Both of these organizations can be found on Facebook where you can find your local chapter and post on their wall to find a donor to supply you with milk or to find a family in need of your extra milk. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Gerber Generation...


Rice Cereal. Parents just CANNOT wait to start giving their babies cereal, whether in their bottles or with a spoon. Parents are lead to believe that cereal is harmless and will make baby sleep all night long. They assume that a baby wanting to eat every 2 hours definitely needs to be "filled up" with some rice cereal. They mistakenly believe that reflux or spitting up will be instantly solved by the addition of cereal to a bottle. 

Let's start from the beginning...rice cereal was originally made because it is hypoallergenic, meaning hardly anyone is allergic to it. It's easy to make runny and last but not least, it was made by "baby food" companies to extract more money from parents. According to Gerber, your baby "HAS" to have "baby" food, it "NEEDS" purees, it "CANNOT" live unless you give it purees from 4 months old. Somehow, our views have been skewed to actually believe this garbage. 

If you ask the mom that believes this, she will tell you how her 9 or 10 week old baby "HAD" to be fed something besides breastmilk/formula because he "just wasn't satisfied" on milk alone...

If you ask a mom that has researched "baby led solids" and the effect of early solids, she will tell you how her baby is thriving on milk alone at 7, 8, 9 months and sometimes even older. 

Did you know that the AAP and the WHO recommend waiting until at least 6 months before introducing anything besides breastmilk or formula to your baby? Do you think they do that to be mean or punish your "starving" baby? No. It's because evidence shows that babies digestive systems are NOT ready for solids. In fact, until they are no longer on breastmilk or formula, they don't even need solids. Solids are introduced before one because we have a ton of folks that formula feed and switch to cow's milk around 12 months. So, kids need food then to make up for the nutrition they will no longer be getting. If they are still on breastmilk or formula, they don't "NEED" food to "fill them up". They need more breastmilk of formula. 

I want you to look at your baby's fist. Imagine a cup that much do you think it would hold? Definitely NOT 8 oz of formula/breastmilk PLUS cereal. Your baby's stomach is the same size as their little fist. Let me repeat that: BABY'S STOMACH IS THE SAME SIZE AS ITS LITTLE FIST!!!!!!  So, there is NO way baby is drinking a huge bottle and then needing jar upon jar to "fill them up". Perhaps baby is full, but, thinks that pain is hunger and is confused. As tiny as their stomachs are, they need small amounts of breastmilk or formula often. They don't need stuffed enough to do without for 4 hours. In fact, new studies are showing that small bottles given often help sooth reflux. 

Baby's MAIN nutrition is their breastmilk or formula, NOT foods. They should be getting enough of their milk to meet this need and after 6 months, if they want, some solids to play with.

Sadly, this notion that mom/grandma and whoever knows best has been around since the 1800's at least where babies were fed Pap from a pap boat. Pap is a mixture of breadcrumbs, flour, rice or barley mixed with fluids such as broth, milk (if the infant was lucky), water, wine and even beer, to aid the digestion of pap it was often pre-chewed by the nurse or nanny.
Pap was a popular form of infant nutrition for almost 300 years and used in many well to do homes. However for unwanted or illegitimate infants in foundling homes it was often the only form of sustenance as a result the mortality rate was appallingly high. Despite a growing number of experts advising against the use of pap it never-the-less persisted as a major source of infant nutrition in many nurseries until the late 1800’s, largely due to the ignorance of nannies and nurses who took great delight in disregarding the advice of physicians, who they believed were usurping their position in the household. ‘Nanny knows best’.

As a side note before the defensive early feeders come out claws first:

"I have to say, the research showing that early solids leads to obesity and what not are referring to ADULTS. Not to your 14 month old that is "healthy and fine and skinny and perfect and smart and...". So, please don't throw that out to me. Oh and I am NOT a food snob or Holier than thou Mommy or whatever else you want to call me. I also don't care if you and your grandma and everyone else on the planet had rice cereal and early solids and are "just fine". I was given fried eggs from 2 weeks old plus whatever else mom wanted. I also was given Gatorade as a juice... my mom was given some concoction of a formula and my son was given rice cereal starting at 4 months plus other foods. SO...I KNOW about giving foods early and everything that goes with it. Also, I am not blaming all of the overweight kids today on early solids, again, this is referring to ADULTS that were fed early solids." 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

You're A Bad Mom...

What makes someone a bad mom? Is it someone who circumcises their son? Is it someone that formula feeds their kids? What about someone that nurses their child until 4? Well?

It seems like everywhere I turn, someone is being called a bad mom. This happens no matter what kind of group of moms you're dealing with. If you are with the "non-AP, non Crunchy moms" then any mom that wears her baby or co-sleeps or nurses past 6 months to a year is a "bad" mom. If you are with the "AP/Crunchy" moms, then, you are a bad mom if you spank, have your child in a separate room or push them in a stroller. Then, both sides gang up if you forward face at one, need a c-section or CIO.

So, here is my these make someone a "BAD" mom or do they make them a different mom? Maybe in your eyes it makes them uneducated and maybe you are right, but, does it make them "BAD"? 

What if someone does everything "RIGHT" in your eyes, except one thing. Does that make them a "BAD" mom? What if a mom spend quality time with her kids, loves them, never neglects them, feeds them, clothes them...does everything "RIGHT", but, chooses to do one of the things off you "BAD" mom list? Is she bad?

I see perfectly wonderful moms berated everyday because they chose something different than the rest. Somehow people seem to think you must follow this straight and narrow path that they are on or you have totally failed as a mom. It doesn't seem to matter that you excel in EVERY other area imaginable, just the one "flaw" they see makes you "terrible". It doesn't matter if that choice was made after research and compromise. 

So, what makes an actual BAD mom...

A mom that verbally abuses her kids NONSTOP.
A mom that beats her kids in anger to cause pain
A mom that neglects her kids
A mom that starves her kids
A mom that cages her kids
A mom that never talks to her kid

I could go on, but, I think you get the drift. There ARE bad moms. Those that just choose one little thing different than you even if you feel extremely passionate about it is NOT a bad mom. I don't NOT care what it is. Let's please keep this in mind when dealing with moms online. Let's not put moms down and belittle and berate them for their choices. You can educate without the nastiness. You can tolerate without nastiness. Let's live in peace online.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Birth Story 12(Jennifer "Hybrid Rasta Mama" & "Tiny")


As "Empowered Birth Week" comes to a close, so too does our birth story week. This is our last story until next time, but, it is from an awesome mommy with an awesome blog, Hybrid Rasta Mama. Please check her out if you haven't already.

This story is from Jennifer about the birth of her daughter known to her blog readers as "Tiny". Enjoy...

A Birth Story – The Post In Which I Finally Let It Go

Life has a funny way of handing me the exact opposite of what I plan for and desire. It always has and yet I try so very hard to keep my attitude in the “half full” side of the glass. I am a good person. I do a lot for others. I am extremely selfless. I can handle a lot and I guess that is why I am blessed with more challenges in life than others receive. You are only given what you can handle right?

Well, my daughter’s birth crushed my spirit ever so slightly. Ok – a lot.
When I found out I was pregnant I went into hyper-natural birth overdrive. I interviewed and hired an amazing doula. I drove my husband crazy regurgitating facts and figures about what hospitals force women giving birth to do. I did everything “right” to prepare for the most medically unassisted birth a hospital setting could offer. My husband and I went on a weekend natural birth retreat. EPIC! I was pumped. My daughter was coming into a gentle world that would embrace her with love, warmth, and peace.
And then my world turned upside down.

My baby was a mover and shaker in utero from very early on. She swam around in circles constantly. My husband and I loved seeing her head go ‘round and ‘round. She would punch or kick occasionally but she was partial to flipping and circling. So, it was no surprise to me that at 36 weeks she had not settled into the “proper” position. She was content to rest feet first. She’d always done that though. When she would finish her somersaults she would nestle in under my heart, deep into my lungs and sleep. I wasn’t concerned. Why should she crowd herself? She’d move head down when she was good and ready.
Let me back up a second lest I lose you.

I selected my OB because he delivered my friend’s baby after a long labor in which said baby truly got stuck. An emergency C-section ensued but baby was fine and mama was happy. The OB seemed like a decent guy and he was affiliated with the hospital I liked most in our area. It is also a pretty good hospital insofar as allowing the birthing mothers to have a voice. 
But towards the end of my pregnancy my OB showed his true colors. And I panicked.

At 38 weeks my doctor was pissed off at me and making no bones about it. He could not fathom why I wouldn’t just schedule a C-section already. He tried everything, even scheduling the actual C-section but I would not budge. It was at this point in time that I got panicky and started trying everything known to human kind to turn this baby and get her to stick a landing.
I was off of work so all day, every day you could find me doing the hula on my birth ball, laying backwards on a ironing board propped against the couch, doing a downward dog yoga pose off the couch, going to the chiropractor, taking baths, taking natural supplements, and just being a contortionist in an effort to encourage baby to enjoy locking and loading into a head first position. My husband feared for my safety. My doula egged encouraged me on.

Week 39 – Dr. Evil stripped my membranes without my consent then lied to me about it. I was horrified and stressed beyond belief. He also was trying his damndest to convince me that my baby’s leg was about to slip out which would kill us both.

Week 40 – Baby was still swimming away. She had plenty of room and no interest in finding her birth position. Dr. Evil was threatening to have me arrested for not having the C-section yet. He said that I was committing acts of child abuse by putting my baby in a compromised situation. He accused my husband of being neglectful. Oh it was a hot mess. I held firm. Darn it, I was getting this baby to turn!

At 6:00am, on the first day of week 41, I finally accepted (with much hesitation) that my daughter was stuck in a foot breach position. She had not moved in two days. I felt defeated in a sense. I would not be able to safely give her the birth experience I had hoped. My peaceful, gentle birth plan would be a mere memory. She was going to come into this world in the one way I abhorred. I was angry, I was disappointed. I was deflated. I was miserable. And I was jealous of the moms who got to have a completely natural, beautiful birth. However, I was also realistic. I knew that there was only one way to get my baby here at that point (since my OB was NOT skilled in breech delivery) and two hours later, I became “mama”.

The surgery was the polar opposite of peaceful, gentle and beautiful. It was bright, loud, messy, and sterile. Tiny was pulled from the depths of my womb by her ankles as Dr. Evil talked about his kids’ soccer game and how the coach was an ass. I got the briefest, bloodiest glimpse of my baby and for what seemed like an eternity in a foggy world, I was separated from the piece of me that I carried under my heart for 287 days. I desperately wanted to hold Tiny, to see her, to smell her, to CONNECT outside of the womb. I needed that so deeply since I could not bring her into the world gently. I got another glance at my baby as her daddy brought her to my face and after sneaking in a small kiss, my little angel was whisked off yet again.

I lay on that uninviting, harsh table getting put back together for what seemed like hours. Dr. Evil kept chatting with the other surgeon about good restaurants, hiking, and a host of other topics. Not once did he ask how I was. No one asked how I was. No one answered my questions. No one would tell me where my baby was. She was no longer in the operating room and I just hoped that her daddy was with her.

I was transferred to recovery after another 30 minutes. Tiny was under a warming light, apparently because she was one degree too “cold.” I didn’t get to hold her for two hours. I was like a lion in a cage. I was ferocious in my mind but drugged in my speech. I could not seem to make the nurses understand that my baby needed me and I needed her and that they were depriving us of a critical opportunity to bond. All because supposedly her temperature was low. I knew that the warmth of my body and the warmth of my love for Tiny would warm her faster than any heat lamp.  Finally, some nurse decided that my baby needed to eat and at long last she was placed in my arms.

I immediately threw open my gown, unwrapped the tiny form from the uninviting blanket and placed MY daughter on my chest. Despite our separation, Tiny knew that she was with mama. The love that washed over me is something that words will never be able to describe. That first moment of touching my baby, snuggling her close, and feeling our souls connect will be forever etched as a private feeling in my mind. It was bliss. I was literally in my heaven. That was certainly the best life would ever offer.

My birth story is not beautiful. It is not kind. It is not warm. It is not something I want to repeat. It wounded me. It made me resentful. It made me despise the medical institution. But after 29 months, I have done the best that I can to work through all of those negative feelings. I have accepted that somehow my body was just not meant to give birth the way nature intended. It was not my fault. It was not Tiny’s fault. What was meant to be happened. I will not be having more children so I will never get the opportunity to experience a beautiful, natural, serene birth. It does not matter. I have a beautiful child who has rooted herself so firmly inside my heart, soul, and mind. It does not matter how she got here. She is here and my life is complete. And beautiful.


Birth Story 11(Samantha & Ava)

Ava's Unassisted Birth as told by my doula, and birth pictures! Updated to add my version as well. 

I really enjoyed reading my doula's version of Ava's birth, and wanted to share it. She also took birth photos 

for me and I am going to share those as well. I am incredibly happy that in the end I did get the homebirth I 

wanted (minus the hospital transfer) even after we thought it wasn't possible. 

Ava's Unassisted Birth

I drove out towards Sam’s a little less than a week before her due date. I had no worries about “cutting it close” because I had the 

strongest sense that she would have the baby a day or two on either side of her due date. My midwife once told me that you’d be 

surprised at how strong your intuition is if you open yourself up to it. I honestly felt like I just knew that Sam would have the baby 

around her due date and I wasn’t surprised when she felt the same way. At 40 weeks and 1 day, she was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced.

Fast forward 6 days past her EDD... Sam went to bed every night under the belief that it was going to be “the night.” Her contractions 

would hit and they’d be painful and consistent and then she’d fall asleep and wake up in the morning feeling just fine. I can’t explain to 

you why, but something felt just off. Not in a “why-oh-why hasn’t she had this baby yet” impatient provider kind of way - but in a “what 

is holding you back, Samantha? What’s up?” kind of way.

I was debating actually driving home to get my kids and come back. Samantha kept telling me that she, like myself, kept feeling like she 

should have had the baby days ago. We talked about it and I remember asking her a few times, “If there’s something holding you back, 

get it out now!” She had an impending “you’re overdue!” appointment with her doctor the following day and, after some consideration, 

she decided to try to get things moving along. I think, in those few days before Ava’s birth, we must have walked like 20 miles. After 

some consideration, a castor oil smoothie was devised in hopes it would help push past the labor roadblock.

Ironically, on that day preceding Ava’s arrival, I lost my car keys for the 10th time since I had been at Sam’s house. I really lost them

this time and we had to search the house from head to toe (roof to floor?) and came up with nothing. I ended up paying a locksmith 

some $300 to come and make me new keys. (Flash forward 3 weeks to when I found said key buried deep inside my diaper bag, but, 

meh - can’t hurt to have an extra?)

After that debacle and after Sam downed orange juice (which she hates) like a pro, we made an afternoon trip to Wal-Mart to attempt 

to walk and hula hoop the baby out. We must have walked that Wal-Mart a thousand times when I was there. Sometimes to see if 

contractions would get going - sometimes to escape the heat (her air conditioner was broken for the entire last 2 weeks of her pregnancy,

how awful is that? She’s a trooper) Jack, Sam’s son, and I were tricycle-racing each other and stopping to look at toys and a few people

stopped to admire Luca and, every so often, Sam would stop to have a contraction. Sometimes she could walk through them, sometimes 

she couldn’t. There were a few that must have had her thinking “these are different!” because the decision was made that she didn’t want to Where The Heart Is this-shit-up and be the lady with the “Wal-Mart baby,” so we packed up and went home.

(my doula's baby, isn't she adorable?)

I pulled up my Macbook to attempt to record some labor. At some point, Ava had turned posterior and I mentioned that if we could get her turning anterior, labor might pick up. Sam did hands and knees and angry cats and every so often Jack would help. He’d get down with her or try to massage her back with my omni roller. Sam’s contractions were... okay. Sometimes they’d pick up, sometimes they’d fade away. They weren’t anywhere near what I would call consistent or strong enough to even consider going to the hospital.

At some point, Jason came home and labor almost completely stalled. We made a few walks around the neighborhood (we walked a lot), came home, put babies to bed, relaxed, and then decided to actually just walk to Wal-Mart. I think I wanted soda because, although her contractions were sporadic, I had figured tonight was the night and I wanted caffeine.

While walking to Wal-Mart, we came across the creepiest, spookiest bridge I have ever seen and Sam made me cross it. We also passed by a man smoking pot. It was interesting.

On the way back home, Sam had some contractions that made her stop moving so she could focus and breathe. I just made sure to stay still and quiet, since she had everything under control. I would have called it pre-labor however, because they were coming and going so randomly. She had started utilizing a contraction timer earlier in the day and there was a lack of consistency. With the contractions, not the timing - Sam was on that timer like it was going to make or break whether she had that baby soon. With how her contractions were coming along, I had a feeling that the baby was indeed going to come, but it was really hard to pinpoint a guess as to where Sam was at. Normally, I can look and listen to a mom and throw out a “She’s probably near the 6cm mark.” With Sam, I had no clue.

We went back to her house, with her contractions picking up some intensity on the way home. We had wanted to commandeer the living room, but Jason (Sam’s husband) had staked it out for his own. We ended up taking our laptops upstairs and setting up in Jack’s room (which is where I had been staying). (I had been preparing for a homebirth all along. I had towels that were ready to be bloodied and an old sheet. I had pulled my gloves out and had them somewhere nearby.) I had occasionally used the fetoscope to check Ava’s position and to make sure she was doing okay (she was). I even set up my Macbook to record us, just in case things picked up.

Sam was sitting up watching Bones and using her timer. I was on the floor, folding my clothes up and packing my things. I had nursed Luca to sleep and put her in what would become Ava’s crib. It was very laissez-faire and after awhile of some more so-so contractions, I suggested Sam sleep. If labor was going to happen, it would wake her up. If it wasn’t, there was no point in being tired. She passed out and I remember thinking, “Hmmm... maybe I was wrong. I guess tonight isn’t the night.” I closed the computer (that had been recording - my biggest regret!) and laid down on the floor.

(this is pretty close to the exact spot Ava was born)

I was awoken up by Sam coming back from the bathroom. She looked uncomfortable and told me that she had one helluva contraction when she used the restroom. I figured we still had some more time since she was still resting. I had barely slept at all, so I told her to get me up in 20 minutes and I’d see where we were at. I laid my head down.

All of a sudden, I was woken up by a “mmmmmrrrrrrroooooough.” I shot up quickly and without even looking at Sam asked, “are you pushing.... ?” She was lying on her side and instinctively curled herself around, so that she was on her hands and knees, leaning over the side of the bed. I wish I could explain how cool that moment was. It was almost as if Sam had no mental awareness - like it wasn’t her who was moving, but like her body was being pulled to that position by a super natural puppeteer. It looked choreographed and i was beautiful and smooth in spite of the rawness of 3rd stage. And, as Sam landed on her knees, she roared very aggressively (in a way only a pushing mom could), “I’m pushing!”

(These are Sam’s words about what happened while I was sleeping: “I woke up twice to use the rest room and both times I had pretty serious contractions. I woke Cassie (my doula) to tell her and she said we should give it 20 more minutes. I closed my eyes and started to fall back to sleep when another contraction came and it was intense. I told myself that when it was over I would definitely have to wake Cassie back up, except the contraction never actually ended. Suddenly the pain was too much for me to hold back any noise” ). She told me later that she had 3 contractions that were back-to-back and that she had intended to wake me up after the first one, but then it didn’t end and just became another contraction. As that one came down, she had intended to wake me up, but then that one became another contraction. After the 3rd contraction, she felt pressure and made the telltale animalistic grunting/moaning sound that awoke me.

I looked at my watch to see the time (3.24am). I then asked, “Are you sure? Are you sure you’re ready to push? Do you want me to tell Jason to call 911?”

She nodded and let out another, “I’m pushing!”

I ran downstairs and shouted at Jason, who was asleep on the couch, “JASON! Call 911. Sam just woke me up to tell me she’s pushing.” Dreary-eyed, he looked at me and said very stoic-ly, “Are you serious?” (If I would have had more time, I probably would have thrown in a, “No. I ran down here at 3am just to play a super cruel joke on you and all that noise Sam is making is just for LOLz.” Instead )I said, “Yes. Call 911. Now.”

The entire time I was speaking to him, I heard Sam moaning and grunting. I ran upstairs, where I found her son sitting on the bed by her head. She kept telling him, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” which I thought was wonderful. I had read in the birth story of a previous client of mine - who was instructed by the same midwife who caught my Luca to tell her young daughter “I’m fine! Mommy’s fine!” during a difficult transition. Every time she would say it, the midwife would state, “Tell her again.” So my client would say, “I’m okay! The baby is coming! It’s okay.” My client later wrote that reaffirming to her daughter that she was okay, made her realize the statement was true. She said the more she said “Mommy is okay!” the more she realized that she was, indeed, okay. So Sam telling Jack that she was fine made me smile, because I could tell how at ease Sam was every time she told Jack that everything was alright. Jack, on the other hand, was looking at us all like we were insane. Luca also woke up at this point, but just kind of muttered baby whines from the crib.

Sam was grunting and I went to take a look and saw her underwear. I asked, “Sam, is it okay if I remove your underwear?” Part of me knew that it was a dumb question, but I also felt like permission needed to be asked. She moaned and grunted and I said, “Sam, I need to remove your underwear now, okay?” and she said something like, “ARGGGGGGUGGGAAAHHH” which I assumed meant “Yeah, that’s alright.” As I pulled her underwear down, I saw a bulging bag of water. I honestly had no time to grab anything. Nothing. Sam let out a tiny push (which I think was way beyond her control) and water splattered everywhere.

I saw Sam reach down to instinctively touch her baby’s head - which I found remarkable. I have never once reach down to touch my children while crowning, but Sam didn’t even think about it. She just touched Ava’s little head - making her the first person to touch her baby. I looked and could tell that Sam’s perineum was tight, but Ava was already crowning and I wasn’t going to attempt to do anything other than make sure Ava didn’t hit the floor (since Sam was on her hands and knees). As Ava’s head started to come out with a second push, I saw what I thought was an extremely tight cord. I think I said something like, “I’m going to feel for a cord” but I’m not sure if Sam was really paying attention. I felt around the presumed cord with my finger (all the while reciting in my head what I knew about somersaulting a baby). It didn’t take me but a second to realize that it wasn’t a tight cord, but a very balled-up little fist that soon came out with the rest of Ava’s head. She was born with a posterior nuchal hand, just like her brother.

Her head was out and she looked great. I supported her head with my hand ever so slightly - not forcing it any which way, but only letting my palm graze it so that I was prepared to catch her body. Ava rotated very quickly and I saw that her shoulders were trying to come out at the same time, so I ever so slightly applied the tiniest, lightest bit of traction to pop the posterior shoulder first. (This sounds a lot worse than it is, I promise. I had feared that Sam had torn when I saw how tight her perineum was with Ava’s hand coming out with her head and I didn’t want to traumatize her perineum anymore with Ava’s shoulders coming out at the same time. So as Sam pushed, all I really did was keep one hand under Ava’s head and used one hand to guide Ava down - as opposed to straight out - so that her top shoulder popped out first. It’s not the same kind of traction you see in hospital births, it was very gentle and I didn’t pull, tug, or force the baby anywhere. I kind of guided her down so that the back shoulder would birth first, instead of at the same time as the front shoulder). Ava’s shoulders came, with the rest of her slithering out and I immediately passed her straight from vagina to Sam’s hands. I knew from watching my midwife that you want to pass a baby under mom when they’re hands and knees, and then have mom sit back. I passed Ava underneath Sam, where Sam was already reaching down to take her (honestly, if Sam hadn’t of been on her hands and knees, she most certainly would have caught Ava all by herself). Sam then sat down and brought Ava up to her chest.

I know that my description of these events seems like they took forever, but Sam woke me up at 3.24am and Ava was born at 3.31am. I didnt have time to think and was so thankful that my midwife had repetitively beat a lot of what I know into my head. I felt so awful that I had no video, no pictures, and no floor-protection set up, but I didn’t have time. I didn’t even wear gloves.

After Sam sat down, she brought Ava to her chest. I saw Ava’s color, heard her slightly gurgly-raspy new baby cry, and knew that she was just fine. I grabbed the sheet that was supposed to be under Sam, and used it to cover the baby. I rubbed her back slightly to get a good cry (simply because of the circumstances of the birth, I felt tactile stimulation wouldn’t be a bad idea). She was red and rosy and pink right away. I apparently took out my stethoscope to listen to the baby, which I don’t remember, but my stethoscope had blood and vernix on it - so it must be true. Sam was blissful and over the moon and I was so thrilled for her. I was still on an adrenaline-filled birth high and was in awe of how smoothly things had gone.

At this point, Jason ran upstairs with the phone to the 911 dispatcher. Which was the most humorous conversation of my life.

“Okay, okay, is the baby here?”

“Yes, the baby is here. She looks great.”

“Okay, okay, is the baby breathing??”

… “Yeah. She’s breathing.”

“Okay, wipe the baby’s nose and mouth with a cloth. Make sure you get any fluid out of the baby’s mouth”

[semi-wiped off some birth juice from under the baby’s nose] “Yeah, okay.”

“What color is the baby? Is the baby blue?”

“No, she’s pink and crying and the mom is nursing her.”

“Okay, DO NOT cut the umbilical cord” {which was still pulsating, nonetheless}

“Okay. I won’t.”

“DO NOT pull on the cord. Do not try to deliver the placenta.”

“... Yeah, okay. I won’t do that.” [SMH]

“Is the baby STILL breathing?”

“Yes. I’ll tell you if the baby stops breathing. Or, rather, I’d put the phone down and preform CPR if the baby stops breathing.”

… “Well, that’s good. That you know CPR. Are you her friend or family?”

“I’m her doula.”

“Oh - so you’re prepared for this!”

“Um, no, not exactly.” [can’t discuss midwifery training]

… “I need you to stay on the line with me until the ambulance gets here. Is mom okay?”


“Is mom conscious and answering questions?”

[like, wtf, do they seriously not think I’d tell them if Samantha was passed out or the baby was blue???] “Yeah, she’s nursing the baby.”

[I start taking pictures, Jack is asking questions, Jason is waiting by the door for the ambulance, Luca is getting fussy]

“... Is the dad okay?”

“He’s anxious.”

“So, uh, did the labor happen really fast?”

“Yeah, REALLY fast.”

“Is this her first baby? Boy? Girl? What’s it’s name?”

It was so funny to me. It got to the point where she was just making small talk because it was really obvious that everything was under control. Jason was pacing downstairs because he was too nervous to go upstairs. Finally, the ambulance arrived and Jack got a kick out of that until he realized that it was coming to take his mom away.

The EMS team showed up about 10 minutes after Ava was born. They were 2 young girls who brought with them an emergency birth kit. They just kind of stared at their kit, then stared at the baby, and then stared at Sam, who was nursing Ava and talking on the phone with her mom. It was almost as if Sam was some sort of lost Wonder of the World. They stared at their birth kit a little bit longer before one finally put an infant cap on Ava and the other asked, “Should we cut the cord?” They cut the umbilical cord and wrapped Ava up in either a blanket or a towel. I was snapping pictures at this point and trying to notify Facebook. I went downstairs for something, where I saw Jason looking like he had been on the worst acid trip of his life. I told him, “Go upstairs and see your daughter.”

“No, no. It’s fine. I’ll-”

“Jason, GO UP-STAIRS. Now. Go.”

He finally went upstairs, still kind of blown away by everything. The EMS were trying to figure out how to get Sam downstairs, so they called in the fire department who put Sam in one of those electronic chairs for handicap people while Jason held Ava. They got Sam and Ava readied on the stretcher and worked out with Jack that he would ride with Jason in the car behind them.

As I walked back upstairs, I saw the giant blood stain on the carpet of Jack’s bedroom and the EMS looked at me and said, “Yeah. They’re probably going to have to replace that. You can try peroxide though.”


After everyone piled out and I nursed Luca back to sleep, I brought all my stuff downstairs and sat down on the couch and noticed that I had vernix up and down the arm that I had used to “catch.” I then determined it was more of an assist, than a catch. And then I realized - oh. That’s VERNIX on my arm. All of a sudden, the birth high kind of left and I went, “What just happened? Sam had her baby in like 5 minutes and I was there and I was really the only person, aside from Sam, who knew what to do and what if something had gone wrong? And, Oh Lord, thank you. Thank you for nothing going wrong, but, I probably could have handled it? Right? I would have been responsible for 2 people’s lives and wow. That’s a lot of responsibility. But, not really, because it was Sam’s birth. So, I was just like a back up net. Except, oh my God, I was a back-up net. Wow. I just caught my first baby, but Sam did all the work - but that’s what makes it so amazing. And. Oh my God. Just, God. Wow. Thank you. Thank you that it went so perfectly. I can’t believe that just happened. it really did. That shit just happened. And it was amazing and Sam was amazing and I kind of want an unassisted birth but not really but kind of. Sam was a rockstar and she had her baby in her kid’s bedroom and I was there. I was there. I was a freaking catch-assist for an unassisted birth that happened in like 5 minutes. WTF just happened. In that 5 minutes. No, seriously. WTF just happened. Oh my God, that.shit.was.INSANE.... And, fuck, how do you clean birth juice out of a carpet?”

I cleaned up what I could and tidied up Jack’s room and the downstairs as best as I could. I needed to make the drive back to see my kids, so I scrubbed out as much blood as time allowed - but once Jason came home, I needed to head out. I gave Jason explicit instructions on how to clean, but he was still feeling the same “WTF” residual effect as me. He kept face-palming and saying, “Thanks. I … wow.” … “Wow. I don’t know. Thanks.”

I packed up my things in the car and came inside to say goodbye to Jack - who had put up with me and my Godzilla baby for 2 weeks. The entire time I was there, Jack never thanked me for anything I did for him. I couldn’t blame him. Luca was kind of a pain in the ass, I made Jack very unhappily change up his routine, and I did, on one occasion, hold him down in a forcible bear hug while he screamed at me (so that his mom could nap). It wasn’t all bad though. After I bought him some Godzilla movies, he took a liking to me and we had fun battling each other in video games, chasing one another around a very tiny Chick-Fil-A play place, and having some very educational conversations (I now know who MechaGodzilla and Roudan and King Ghidorah are - and what sounds they make). However, even with prompting from Sam, he never once said thank you for anything I did or for anything I bought him. Which, didn’t make me upset or anything (hello, I have kids, I understand) - but we had brought up his lack of thank-yous on more than one occasion, and I had joked that I’d leave before I got one. And, after I said my final goodbye, I was halfway out the door and, without any prompting, he said, “Cassie, thank you because you did everything.” It made me smile and go “awwww.”

I left their home and drove by the hospital to see Sam on my way out and was amazed at how blissful she seemed. She knew. She knew the entire time that her labor was going to be super quick. She knew that she would have her baby at home. I was in awe of how calm and collected she was after having just given birth to her baby in her son’s bedroom, after all of 10 minutes of active labor, with no one but her doula and 2 watchful children. After everything is settled down, I always ask my clients how they feel about their birth. I asked Sam how she felt about the experience, and she got a big grin on her face and said, “It was fast, but it was exactly what I expected and exactly what I wanted.”

Which is what EVERY doula wants to hear.

Congratulations Samantha, Jason, and Jack.

Ava Aurora Ice (her 2nd middle name was picked out by her older brother)

July 17th, 2011


7lbs even

19.5 inches

Fun Facts: I had guessed that she was going to be long and skinny and around 7.5lbs. My weight was off, but she really was long and skinny - so I got that part right!

Sam’s timer app could have given her contractions a perfect attendance award. She timed every contraction she had, right up to the very last contraction JUST MINUTES BEFORE SHE PUSHED OUT HER BABY. Every woman has some sort of ‘rock’ or ‘rhythm’ they hold on to in labor - that contraction timer was Sam’s

When I asked Jack later that morning what had happened, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Can I play Godzilla versus?” When I inquired if a baby had been born in his bedroom, he shook his head and said, “Nope.”

I insisted that Ava hadn’t come because Sam hadn’t seen Godzilla 90s. After watching Godzilla 90s, I insisted Ava hadn’t come because Sam hadn’t seen Independence Day. After watching Independence Day, I ran out of ideas and started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I have yet to hold Ava. The last time I touched her was when I passed her up to Sam. Sam had her during her baby moon and when I went to the hospital to visit, they wouldn’t let me back there because I had Luca. So, I need to go back to Tennessee because it’s just cruel that I haven’t snuggled her yet.

My Birth Story

I feel like I should start at the very beginning. I first found out I was pregnant back in October of 2010, right after my husband left to go back to Agghanistan. I knew I was pregnant before I tested or even had any symptoms, a big difference from my pregnancy with Jack where I was already 5 months along when I found out. Anyway when you find out you are pregnant one of the first things you do is think of the birth you want so you can find the appropriate provider. I soon realized that each time I thought of the birth I didn't see myself giving birth in the hospital. Not just because I wanted to give birth at home but because I had this strong feeling that the birth was going to be fast, fast enough that if I had wanted to, I wasn't going to make it to the hospital. Knowing this and knowing that I would be moving around 30 weeks or so I simply went to the closest OB. She also happened to have delivered my cousin and was my sister's doctor. I really liked her, a lot.

From the very beginning I also knew I was having a girl (I knew Jack was a boy as well) and each time you asked him, Jack would also say he was going to have a sister. He named her Ice which is now her second middle name. 

Fast forward to the third trimester and we are now living in Tennessee and I am struggling to find a doctor. I am apprehensive about being seen at a military hospital and share my fears with a group of online friends. They all try very hard to help me either find a midwife or find a doula in my area. Meanwhile I still have this feelin that no matter what I plan for, it is going to happen completely different. Then an amazing thing happens. Someone anonymously donates the money to Cassie to come out and be my doula. Cassie is a trained doula and a birth photographer, I honestly couldn't have asked for a better thing to happen to me. Cassie drives out from GA about a week before my due date and is absolutely wonderful. We discuss different options and what we will do if my feeling happens to be correct all the while still planning on going to the dreaded military hospital to give birth. We discuss the things I want to happen and the things I don't. We go out to eat, we watch Godzilla movies and walk. We just generally hang out and get to know each other. I must admit having an adult around to talk to in real life was great. 

We are both convinced I will have Ava right around my due date, until my due date came and went. At my last and final doctor's appointment I am 40 weeks and 3 cm and 50%effaced. I start having contractions and go to bed each night feeling like this will be it, this is the night my baby is going to come. Only I woke up every morning feeling fine and still pregnant. We take to walking more. Specifically at Walmart being that it is right next door. We walked in hopes of getting labor started and walked just to escape the killer heat of my broken ac town house. I hopped in the aisles of Walmart while Cassie and Jack had tricycle races. We spent a lot of time in the toy aisle with people stopping every once in a while to tell me I looked like I was about to pop. We were at Walmart so often the phrase "you can have a baby at Walmart, I've seen the movie" was uttered more than once. I would have contractions that were light and easy to talk, walk, breath through and then I would have contractions that would stop me. But they were never close enough or frequent enough to warrant even thinking about heading to the hospital. It was frustrating to say the least. Especially when you feel like you should have had this baby already. We discuss a few options and after an email from a friend who was in a similar position with her last baby I decide to go and try the castor oil smoothie. Cassie assures me that this will only speed things up IF and only IF my body and baby are actually ready to give birth. I have to tell you something, this smoothie is made from castor oil, vanilla ice cream and ORANGE JUICE. If you know anything about me, I hate orange juice or anything flavored orange. I drank two smoothies on the day I was 40 weeks and 6 days. Taking castor oil is not as bad as one might think. We walk around some more it seems like the contractions are picking up and I start getting excited thinking this is it but they slow down again. We decide later that evening we need to walk some more and Cassie needs a coke. We walk to Walmart and around Walmart until I realize I need to get home. I remember stopping in the truck area behind Walmart on our way to the woods that take us to my house and having to just stand there. We make it back and because my husband is asleep in the living room we pack up our laptops and head upstairs. I sit back and relax watching Bones while Cassie is busy with her things and outfit her baby girl to sleep. She eventually suggests I try and get some sleep and I do. According to my contraction counter I woke up just before 3 am needing to use the restroom. While doing so I have the strongest contraction yet. I wait it out and lay back down. About ten minutes later I need to pee again and the same thing happens. This time I wake Cassie and let her know I am having the strongest contractions I have had. Wanting a bit more sleep she tells me to give it 20 more minutes and wake her up. According to my contraction counter I must have had a few smaller ones but I dont remember them at all (it got to the point where I could time them without even thinking about it.) I also know I had fallen somewhat back to sleep. Then the next contraction I remember hit and it was intense. So intense I told myself I had to wake Cassie when it was over except it didn't end. I kept telling myself 'the pain ends when she is born' to keep me focused and help minimize the intensity of the never ending contraction. At this point I am no longer really aware of what is going on. Cassie tells me that my pushing noises are what woke her up and apparently woke up my son who came in the room as well. At some point I had told Cassie I was pushing and she ran downstairs to tell Jason that I was pushing and to call 911. 

Okay so I am laying there and the next thing I know I am pushing and I realize that I can't stay on the bed it is too uncomfortable and ongoing myself off the bed onto my knees and am leaning on the side of the bed. I remember feelingthe urge to push again and reached down to feel Ava's head crowning. I didn't think of it until Cassie mentioned it but inqas the first one to touch my naby's head and I find that to be incredible. It was around this time that I believe my water broke and one more push and Ava's body came sliding out. I remember pushing a total of three times. Cassie was there to catch Ava thankfully so she didn't splat on the ground. She told me to sit back and handed me my new daughter. I brought Ava up to my chest and nursed her. It was amazing. Cassie stayed on the phone with the dispatcher and ten minutes later the ambulance arrived. It was two women and they cut the cord and put a baby hat on Ava. The next thing I knew the fire department had arrived to help get me downstairs and on the ambulance. I wasn't too thrilled about going to the hospital but seeing as this was an 'unplanned' homebirth we thought it was best that if this had happened I would go. My first ambulance ride too. I was a little heartbroken to be leaving behind my son but he followed us with dad to the hospital and we all went in together. 

At the hospital they delivered the placenta and stitched me up. Ava was born with her hand up by her face, just like Jack, and therefor I tore quite a bit. Ava was cleaned up (they denied my asking to just have her wiped down) and then taken to the nursery to be warmed up. This is the only part of the whole experience that I regret and feel terrible about. Ava spent close to three hours in the nursery and each time I called down and asked for her i was told she was still warming or they were waiting on the pediatrician to check her over. It was disappointing. Also disappointing was the constant 'especially because she was born at home' comments from the pediatricians. BUT I won't let that small part of it ruin my memory of such an amazing and beautiful experience. 

And I guess my feelings were right all along. I knew it would be fast and I knew it wouldn't be at the hospital, but I never imagined it would turn out like this. :) 

Ava Aurora Ice was born July 17, 2011 at 3:31am at 7 pounds even and 19 1/2 inches long.