Birth Story!

Shared with the gracious permission of my client. ¬†ūüôā

8/24/2017- I woke up just before 6am on Thursday morning. It was strong contractions that woke me up. For a few minutes I thought maybe I just had a bad stomach ache. (Which kind of makes me giggle now…I think the appropriate phrase would be “in denial”) As it turns out, I was already in active labor and transitioning for delivery. I’m blown away at my body and still processing how in the world I slept through early labor. Anyway, I made it through about 4-5 contractions before I woke Brandon up. I couldn’t make it through another one alone.

We had dropped B and J off with my in-laws the night before. The universe knew what it was doing. (The original plan was for them to go Friday evening instead of Wednesday… I’m so thankful)…. I called Diane, our midwife, our birth assistant, Jennifer, and my mom and dad, but by the time I was finishing the last call, I couldn’t contain the pain in any other way but screaming and walking. The walking was questionable. Nothing seemed to help the kind of pain I was experiencing. By this point, very little time had passed, but I was progressing so quickly. I begged Brandon to go find Diane and “GET HER HERE!” I would try to lean in to him for comfort all while I said “Don’t touch me.” This was a tough time for Brandon.

Diane arrived and she just knew. There’s no other way to describe the look. She dropped her bags and gave me everything I needed. Her voice was so calm and her support was magnificent and so solid. I knew the birth tub was no longer an option. We had started filling it up as soon as we realized labor was happening, but it was just all so fast. I leaned over on the tub crying and begging for help. I said to Diane “I can’t do this.” She said “You CAN do this. You ARE doing this.” I followed with, “Does it get worse than this?” She said “No, this is the worst, this is it, you ARE doing this.” It was the most calm phrase I’d ever heard and probably the most comforting. I kept replaying it… “YOU are doing this”

The next thing I said was “He’s coming” and in that instant, my water broke and it was time. I made it into my bedroom floor feeling like I couldn’t go one more step, but somehow, I managed to climb onto my bed all while Diane seamlessly got her equipment, our birth kit and comforting me all at once.

I was on my hands and knees in the middle of our bed. Brandon stacked some pillows in front of me to lean on for support. He was so incredible. His eyes were all the comfort, support and motivation I needed to keep going. He spoke softly to me, he held my hands, but he also said nothing and everything at once with just one look. We were doing this. My body was on auto pilot. It was incredible. Even more incredible was the resting between pushing. I have a whole new awareness/sense/respect and appreciation for my body.

One of my best friends, our photographer and also daughter to our midwife, Madlen showed up in time to capture the delivery of our sweet boy. Oh how special it was to share this with her, how much my heart swells to know she was here for me and somehow was able to capture perfect frames of this experience for us.
Jennifer, our birth assistant and also a midwife, but even more, a new friend to us, remarkably made it all the way from Dallas just in time for the birth. When you hear the short time frame, you’ll see just how awesome this is….

Everyone was here. The room was so full of intense, raw emotions. There was pain, happiness and an immense amount of love. The screams are something I don’t think I could ever mimic. I could feel our baby moving down and I knew his arrival would be soon. In some of the last pushes, I reached down and felt my baby was almost here. That was the last motivation I needed. I gave out one more big push and his head was here. 2 more pushes and he was here.

I could hear his small cry and the feeling is something I can never describe. The sense of accomplishment, happiness, love, pain…. I did it. I delivered our baby in our bedroom, surrounded by love in one of the most amazing experiences of my life. He made his entrance at 8:17 AM. ¬†Just 2 short hours after I made the initial call to Diane. ¬†It was perfect, absolutely perfect. ¬†I am elated and so in love.

Community building

I’ve been a midwife for almost 10 years now. I get a lot of women who come to me who live in the southern portion of my range…Longview, Gilmer, Tyler. There is also a very strong community of natural mamas in that area.


But the northern part of my area is remarkably quiet. I have had almost no phone calls from the Paris area. I’ve done a few births in Texarkana, but I’ve done more in the New Boston and Mount Pleasant area. There also doesn’t seem to be a whole lot going on in the way of support for women who choose a more holistic lifestyle, regardless of where they choose to birth.

I was thrilled to see a breastfeeding support group open up here in Mt. Pleasant a year or so ago. They have a wonderful group of ladies and a fabulous lactation consultant who leads the group and is always available to answer questions. My own daughter has made some good friends through this group and I have no doubt that they were important in her breastfeeding journey with her son.

I would love to see more doulas in this area (I only know of one right now) and I would love to see the demand for doulas in this area grow.

I find it hard to believe the Red River area doesn’t have any crunchy mamas that want to find other crunchy mamas to talk to! Am I just out of the loop? Or are they hiding because they think they are all alone out there? I’ve started two Natural Mama groups on Facebook hoping to start creating a supportive community of like-minded women in this area. Please feel free to join the Paris Natural Mamas or the Texarkana Natural Mamas and let’s get these groups rolling!

Newborn Hearing Testing Available

I have just spoken with Brooks Hearing Clinic and they have informed me that they have the ability to perform newborn hearing testing at their office.  The charge for testing is a very reasonable $45.   

I encourage all of my clients to have their babies’ hearing tested in the first month of life to detect any problems and develop a plan for care.  This is a very simple and non-invasive test for detecting hearing problems before they cause developmental delays.  I have known mothers whose babies had hearing problems, but they weren’t diagnosed until the child was older.  The delay in treatment can compromise language development and reduce communication and school performance.

Their office is located at 301 W. 19th St. in Mt. Pleasant, near the hospital, and their phone number is 903-717-3597 in Mt. Pleasant or 903-737-8800 at their main office.

Every mother wants a healthy baby…every mother deserves one!

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is defined as a carbohydrate intolerance of varying severity that occurs in about 6% of pregnancies in the U.S.  

When women develop GDM, they are at higher risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes and long-term negative outcomes for mom and baby. Potential complications  of GDM include preeclampsia, polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid), higher weight gain in the fetus (possibly leading to C-section or shoulder dystocia), newborn complications (jaundice, nerve damage, low blood sugar), and of the mother developing Type II diabetes after pregnancy.

When we take in nourishment, we convert it into glucose, a fuel immediately usable by our bodies. Insulin metabolizes and regulates glucose levels. Diabetes can be simply defined as the result of a weakened pancreas producing too little insulin. This causes an abnormally high amount of glucose in the blood.

There are several factors that may contribute to an abnormally functioning pancreas, the primary ones being family history and obesity. Genetic weakness can be aggravated by a diet high in sugars, processed foods, and alcohol along with smoking, emotional stress, and lack of exercise.

Insulin is the key that tells our body to either store extra glucose in the liver as glycogen, use it immediately, or release glycogen for energy in the absence of enough glucose in the bloodstream. During pregnancy, placental hormones that peak around 28 weeks suppress insulin levels raising the mother!s blood glucose level. This occurs because the baby will be gaining the most weight and needs the most fuel to grow during the last 12 weeks of pregnancy.

I have spent the last couple of weeks researching information and guidelines on gestational diabetes, in an effort to create a guideline to use in my practice.  There is much new information and research available and this has led me to a change in thinking and new recommendations for my clients.  My plan is to use a simple screening algorithm to allow low-risk clients to avoid testing, while moderate and high risk clients are screened a second time and finally tested if necessary.

While gestational diabetes can have serious consequences, it is usually very easily controlled by diet and exercise.  The risk of complications decreases dramatically when GDM is controlled.   And the lifestyle changes that are required to control GDM are positive ones that many of us would do well to follow  (yours truly included!) and to continue even after the birth to help reduce the risk of Type II diabetes later.

I still recommend that my clients eat 70+ grams of protein in their diet each day and to avoid refined flours, starches and sugar.   Your focus should be on protein, fruits and vegetables for optimal health!

Evidence Based Birth  Рnotes on the NIH Consensus Conference, Day 1

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation (2014)


What Area Do I Work In?

For the most part, my clients live in an area within 50 miles of my home. ¬†Anyone who lives within this range is within an hour’s drive from me. ¬†If you live further than 50 miles from my home, I charge a “distance fee” of $200 in addition to my regular fee, and if you live beyond the 75 mile range the fee will be calculated on an individual basis and will include a per diem fee to cover lodging and meals for myself¬†and an assistant. ¬†Please note that even though the map shows parts of Arkansas and Louisiana within range, I do not attend home births in these states due to licensing laws.

How do I help my diastasis recti heal?

First time moms usually have pretty nice abs.

They are strong and firm and help hold the baby in a nice, head-down position provided the baby doesn’t choose to present breech. ¬†But that growing baby and the fluid around him puts a lot of pressure on those abdominal muscles from the inside. ¬†And then, if you aren’t careful to use proper body mechanics when moving you can actually add even more strain to them.

Diastasis recti is when the abdominal muscles separate along a line between the rectus abdominus muscles right down the middle of your belly.  The severity of the separation is judged by how many fingertips you can fit in the gap.  Two or more fingertips in the gap and you have a diastasis.

This separation is likely to get worse with each pregnancy unless something is done to heal the separation and strengthen the core muscles.  The weakening of the abdominal muscles may make it difficult to lift objects, and cause lower back pain. It can also result in weakened pelvic alignment and altered posture.

The good news is, there is something you can do to help your diastasis heal!

The MuTu program was recommended to me by a client who used it with great success to heal her own diastasis recti. ¬†It is a 12 week exercise program that is suitable for women who have diastasis and are at least 6 weeks postpartum. ¬†If you have more serious problems, like an abdominal hernia or pelvic organ prolapse, there is a program called MuTu Focus that you can use. ¬†In addition to healing diastasis, this program will also help you loose that tummy bulge¬†and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. ¬† In fact, it doesn’t matter if your last child was born umpteen years ago, MuTu can help!

If you don’t know where to start on getting back to exercise after having a baby, or if you have a diastasis recti, take a look at the MuTu program.

Update on International Midwifery

Well, my trip was a success! The birth went well, and I had a wonderful stay with my client and her family, as well as having a little time to do some sightseeing.

This is something I can definitely see myself doing more of in the future, but I need to hash out some of the details. I need to proceed a little differently for traveling births than I do for my local business, however. I need to have a different fee structure and will provide a different type of care for distant clients. I also have to consider my local business and clients and how to make sure they continue to get good care while I am away from home.

It is always exciting to travel to new places, at home and abroad! ¬†If you are living in another country and don’t have access to local midwifery care, feel free to contact me. ¬†I also have connections with other midwives who work internationally, so if I can’t come to you, perhaps one of them can.

A New Tool in My Birth Bag…

I recently made an important purchase that I hope will help me give the best care possible to my client’s babies. This piece of equipment was expensive, but it is something that I know can be a useful tool in helping to screen for problems before they become life threatening. It will also help guide my care if a baby has problems transitioning to life outside the womb.

I bought a pulse-oximeter that is specifically meant for monitoring newborns and infants, though it can also be used on adults. My pulse-oximeter tells me the baby’s pulse and oxygen levels. This type of pulse-oximeter can be used during resuscitation to help guide efforts to get the baby breathing on its own. It can also help to detect serious heart defects that may not show symptoms in the first week or two of life. The sooner a heart defect is detected, the sooner the baby can get help.

A pulse-oximeter takes the pulse and oxygen measurements by the means of two sensors that are placed on the baby’s skin on the hand, wrist, or foot. It is simple and non-invasive, but very effective.

I would like to begin screening all newborns for critical congenital heart defects at the 2 day home visit. The test usually takes about 5 minutes and is done when the baby is awake and calm.  This testing is currently required by law to be offered for infants born in birth centers and hospitals in Texas.  You can read more information about this testing and critical congenital heart defects at the CDC website.

My pulse-ox will have a place in my resuscitation bag as well, so that I can monitor a newborn’s oxygen levels during resuscitation or whenever¬†it becomes necessary in the hours immediately after the birth.