The Birth of Amelia Fey {Guest Blog}

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To tell Amelia’s birth story, I really have to go back to the birth of my first child. When I had my first daughter, I went in very open to whatever may come. I had a vague desire to avoid an epidural but really didn’t know what I was getting into. After about 10 hours of walking the halls in labor, I chose to get an epidural. The delivery was perfect, and I had a beautiful baby girl. Unfortunately, I was one of the few who got a spinal headache, a rare side effect from the epidural. I spent the first week after her birth lying flat on my back while my husband Elliott took care of all her needs. All I could do was nurse her in the side-lying position and sleep. Her first bath, all her diapers, clothing choices, etc. were all done by my husband, Elliott.

Fast forward to my second pregnancy. I knew I wanted things to be different. By the time my second child would arrive, I would have a wonderfully energetic three year-old running around who would also need my attention. I knew I wanted to do everything in my power to avoid an epidural this time. I told my husband about my desire to get a doula to help support us during labor and delivery. I knew that by getting a doula it would increase my chance of having the birth I wanted, without an epidural. I also knew that even if I did get an epidural or c-section, that at least by having a doula to support me, I was making every effort I could to have the birth I wanted. I started looking around online for a doula that was a good fit and I landed on Northeast Iowa Doulas. I don’t know what exactly drew me to them, but I just had a good feeling. We met with Kaity and Victoria and after the initial phone call and in-person meeting, I just knew they would be the team to support me.

I had really hoped to have as few interventions as possible during my labor…but when I got diagnosed with gestational diabetes I thought that was out the window. Kaity and Victoria helped calm me and remind me that I still had so many choices and that this diagnosis did not necessarily mean I couldn't deliver vaginally, without an epidural. Throughout my pregnancy, I often texted my doulas with one worry or another, and this was one of those times. They calmly validated my feelings and reminded me of the many things I did have control over and choices I could still make to have a birth that I felt good about.

I needed to be induced a week early due to the gestational diabetes. We went in on Tuesday evening to possibly start the induction process. I was told that if I was dilated enough I would be able to go home and come back to have my water broken the following morning. If not, I’d have to stay overnight and start Cervidil right away. We left everything in the car, just in case we got to go home…luckily my cervix was dilated more than they expected it to be, and they sent us home. We spent that evening reading to our daughter and enjoying our last night as a family of three.

Early Wednesday morning we headed to the hospital. After getting checked in, the doctor came in to break my water. Her first attempt with the crochet hook thingy didn’t work, so she used a fetal scalp lead to break it. She said she would leave it in just in case it hadn’t worked. When the doctor left my nurse asked me to get up for a bit. I was immediately uncomfortable with the lead in. Not in pain or anything, but it was like having a 2-foot metal tampon string attached to your thigh.
All through our discussions over the months, Kaity and Victoria always encouraged me to voice my desires and assured me it was okay to ask for the things I want. I had already presented the doctor and nurse with my birth plan asking for as few interventions as possible. I told the nurse that I was really uncomfortable and asked if we could remove the lead....

She left to ask the doctor for me and came back to give me the news.
Doc said yes! I felt so relieved that I had spoken up
. As soon as it was out, I felt more comfortable and was able to walk around much more easily.

For the next several hours, I spent time walking the halls, pacing in my room, and sitting a bit. Elliott was there by my side and Kaity (who was on call) stayed in touch with me the whole time prior to joining us. I progressed slowly but steadily. At one of the early checks, the nurse reported that the doctor had asked about using some Pitocin. I was still progressing so the nurse said she told the doctor that she didn't think that would be needed yet. Again, I am so glad I had voiced my preferences to the nurse and she was really supporting me. She encouraged me to stay moving and to keep changing positions. It was a gorgeous sunny, warm day so I pulled on some pants and a jacket over my oh-so-fashionable hospital gown and we went out to the rock garden for some pacing and games of 20 Questions!

Kaity called to check in and asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing great and was still moving and talking comfortably. I was at about 4-5 cm at my last check. She told me she was ready to come whenever I needed her. I let her know I didn’t really know when I would need her but would keep in touch. At my next check I was a solid 5 cm dilated. I texted Kaity and said she could probably head my way at time. She said based on our last chat, she had a feeling I would be needing her soon and she was already on her way and she would see us soon. I decided to hop into the shower as the contractions were starting to get a little more intense at that point.

Things really started to ramp up at that time. Contractions became stronger, longer and closer together. I really began leaning on my team for support at that point- figuratively and literally. Holding onto my husband and feeling him support me through the contractions was just what I needed as things got intense. Kaity was ever present offering different positions to try, reassuring me and offering different comfort measures that were helpful. She encouraged me to keep breathing through each contraction, told me how amazing I was doing, and also validated and encouraged my need to be vocal through each contraction. She helped my husband with ideas on what he could offer to support me.

At one of the most intense points, I remember I was laying on the bed, probably over one of the birthing balls. Contractions were coming hard and fast. One of the things I had put into my birth preferences and that I had told my team was that I did NOT want to be offered any sort of pain relief measures when it got intense. I knew that if I was offered, I probably would have said yes. I told them that if I needed it, I wanted to ask for it and to have them ask me if I was sure that I really wanted it.

I was feeling like I couldn’t handle the intensity at that point, and I remember Kaity locking eyes with me and saying gently but firmly “I know what you’re thinking, and you can do this! You’re so close and you’re doing so good!” It was EXACTLY what I needed to hear at that time.

I had my cervix checked a couple more times by the doctor to see how I was progressing. She told me I was really close but not quite there yet- probably about 8 cm. I was so hoping that the time to deliver was just around the corner. I was tired and the contractions were so strong at times that I thought I might be sick. I was on the bed at that time using the squat bar as well as Kaity and Elliott for support.

Ingrained into my memory will be Kaity on my left, the nurse in front of me and Elliott on my right. I was so tired and starting to doubt if I could delivery the baby without any medication. When I looked up though, each one of them was so focused on me and they each were telling me that I could do it and I was doing so well, and that baby would be here soon. I don’t know what I would have done if one of those pieces of my team was missing.

I was starting to feel like my body wanted me to push, but the doctor had said I wasn’t ready for that just yet.  Elliott and Kaity and my nurse encouraged me to change positions to help get those last two centimeters. I had a hard time knowing what position I wanted to be in and really just wanted to stop moving. Kaity and Elliott helped me to move and took all my weight as I changed positions. We changed a few times from sitting back to leaning forward over the squat bar on the end of the bed.

A change in position was suggested so I decided to try hands and knees over the peanut ball again. I had a couple extremely strong contractions and then all of a sudden I felt myself wanting to push and at the same time I heard myself say “push!” At the edge of my awareness I heard Kaity say to the nurse, as she walked back in, that I was starting to actively push and they agreed it was time to get the doctor. Moments later my nurse returned with my doctor and the whole medical team followed in behind them. I remember looking to Kaity and telling her I was scared. With all the hustle and bustle in the background, she was so calm and reassuring as she told me that I could do this. She also assured me that what I was feeling was normal and that it was time to meet my little one! I could see the doctor was ready, the nursing staff were ready. Elliott was by my side telling me I could do it. The doctor told me I could push when I was ready. I remember pushing and letting out two huge screams- like no sound I’ve ever made before. Two pushes and all of a sudden a huge wave of relief and sudden bliss.

I fell back onto my bed and saw my beautiful baby for the first time.

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We didn’t find out the sex of the baby at our ultrasound, because I wanted Elliott to tell me.

I will never forget asking him,
“What is it?”
He smiled and said, “It’s a girl!”
I asked, “Are you sure?”

"Yes!” he said, reassuringly and full of excitement.

At that time they placed my perfect baby girl onto my chest and I looked at Elliott and said, 


The birth experience I had with my second daughter wasn’t exactly what I had imagined it would be…But it turned out to be exactly what it was meant to be. There is nothing I would change about the birth of my daughter and it actually gave me such a sense of peace with my first delivery experience. I feel even more strongly now that having the epidural during labor with my first child was just part of the birth experience that I was meant to have. Even after having experienced the spinal headache after my first delivery, I no longer wish I had done things differently.

Each birth experience was as special and unique as the two beautiful girls I love. Both had their own set of challenges and difficulties, but both were beautiful and exactly what I was meant to experience at that time in my life.

Authored by: Katie Patterson

Northeast Iowa Doulas | Celebrating National Nurses Week: Meet a L&D Nurse

It's National Nurses Week!

We would like to take a moment to acknowledge the very important roles nurses have - they truly are the heart of the medical team. 
Our area OB nurses, labor and delivery nurses, and pediatric nurses are patient, kind, caring, supportive, and compassionate; the best Iowa has to offer. 
They absolutely love their job and it shows.

In honor and celebration of this special week, we took some time to interview some fantastic nurses in the Cedar Valley. We at Northeast Iowa Doulas are so grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such wonderful hospital staff, while caring for and supporting our clients.
Thank you for always welcoming us to be part of the birth team and thank you for all you do.

Don't forget to thank a nurse this week!

We had the pleasure of interviewing Bethany Anderson. She is a labor and delivery nurse at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. I would like to share a little bit about my very first experience with Bethany.

My laboring client, her partner, and I had walked into the room to find Bethany standing there waiting for us. She greeted us with a big smile, introduced herself and immediately said, 

"I am so happy to see you have a doula! I love doulas."  
"Do you have a birth plan? I love birth plans."

And she truly meant it.

It was an amazing experience working alongside Bethany, from beginning to end. Our clients have had nothing but wonderful things to say about Bethany and the care she has provided them during one of the most momentous occasions of their lives.

NEID-Kaity: How long have you been a nurse? Where did you attend school?

Bethany: I have been a nurse for just over 4 years. I completed my General Education classes at Hawkeye Community College and then Graduated from Allen College School of Nursing in December 2012. I then became a labor and delivery nurse in March of 2013.

NEID-Kaity: What inspired you to become a nurse?

Bethany: Being a nurse is something I've known I wanted to do since I was a child. There was never a question in my mind of what I was meant to do in my life. I am a third generation nurse. As a child I spent a lot of time at my Grandma Phyllis' house, who was a labor and delivery nurse for 19 years, and so she always had a lot of stories to tell and we would always watch labor and delivery shows on tv together. She continues to be my inspiration every day, and her picture will always stay on my locker at work.

NEID-Kaity: What do you enjoy most about being a L&D nurse?

Bethany: The best part of my job is getting to be part of my patient's story. Everyone that I encounter while I'm at work are in the middle of a huge life shift, and I get to be part of it. I get to watch women become mommies, and men become daddies. I get to watch children become big brothers and sisters, and parents become grandparents. I get to guide people through the most exciting moments in their lives. I get to watch women be in the most painful moment in their lives, and then conquer it. I get to watch the reactions of parents who find out the gender of their baby. I feel I'm pretty blessed to be able to spend my days guiding others in the most exciting moments of their lives. 

NEID-Kaity: What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?

Bethany: The worst part of my job is bringing angels into the world. It's something that will never be easy. It will never be easy to see a mommy leave the hospital without her baby. I can't imagine the pain that comes with losing a child, so all I hope to be is a friendly hand, or a sturdy shoulder. If that's the only difference I can make, that's good enough for me.

NEID-Kaity: More expecting parents in the area are hiring out the professional labor/birth support services of a doula. How do you feel about that?

Bethany: Working with doulas is wonderful for me! Doulas are so helpful and supportive, and I think that when a woman is in the most trying moments in her life, she can never have too much support! 

NEID-Kaity: What is one thing you always say to laboring/birthing women?

Bethany: "This is temporary. It won't last forever. It won't be this painful forever. It's only today. It's only right now."
I try to encourage and empower every woman. I think women tend to look at labor as a whole and think "there's no way I can do that" but I like to tell my patients to take one contraction at a time, one moment at a time. I think that when a woman is in labor, you have to take each case in itself. The only thing that I try to be is supportive, regardless of my patients choices. If my patient chooses an epidural over natural childbirth or bottle feeding over breast feeding, I support her all the way. 

NEID-Kaity: What advice would you give to an expecting parent as they are approaching their due date?

Bethany: My biggest advice for someone nearing their due date would be to educate yourself on your options, so you know what you want. Also, I try to tell my patients to really enjoy the last moments before their families grow, before all their energy goes towards this new little one.

NEID-Kaity: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Bethany: In my spare time I like to spend time with my 5 month old son, my husband, my nephews, and my family. I also like to play volleyball, and knit or crochet when I have time.

NEID-Kaity: What is your favorite food?

Bethany: My favorite food is any type of dessert with chocolate, caramel or peanut butter! 

NEID-Kaity: Do you have a favorite memory of being at work that you would like to share?

Bethany: I have many great memories about my days at work, but my craziest delivery has to be an unplanned, very fast vaginal breech delivery for a first time mom of a healthy baby boy! My heart has never beat faster!

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, Bethany. You are amazing and each one of your patients are so lucky to have you as their nurse. We look forward to working with you again soon.
Happy National Nurses Week to you!

My Doula Made Me Feel Like a Badass--A Cesarean Birth Story {Guest Blog}

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child, we were ecstatic. My first two children were born in Louisiana where my husband was stationed with the Army, so I was really excited to be able to deliver in my hometown of Waterloo this time, with my family nearby.

I really wanted to try for a VBA2C with this baby, and after consulting with my OB, we decided I was a good candidate. 

My OB that I saw for my prenatal care was very supportive and informative about the medical aspect of a vaginal birth after cesarean, and I felt comfortable with her overseeing my medical care. Around this time, I had been going to monthly ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meetings. ICAN offers support for those who have previously given birth via cesarean or for those who are planning to deliver via cesarean. I had spoken with a few women there who have had VBAC deliveries and they highly recommended that I look into hiring a doula for my upcoming birth. I had no idea what a doula was so I did some research and after a lot of reading, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea. 

I began researching the area doulas. It wasn’t long before I found a doula who was the perfect fit for me and my husband.

We met with her for the initial consult and secured services shortly after that. She guided my husband and I as we came up with the ideal birth plan. She helped us understand how we could advocate for ourselves and our baby and explained how she would be there each step of the way supporting us through every decision we make throughout my labor, birth, and postpartum period. There were a lot of things we didn't know about hospital policies and procedures and she helped us better understand informed consent, and empowered us to make the decisions we felt were best for me and our baby.

Finally, after about 41 loooong weeks, I went into labor. My doula met us at the hospital and was very reassuring throughout each part of the labor/birth process. She made me feel comfortable, safe, and eased much of the fear I had. The OB on call, (who was not the same doctor I had for my prenatal care) did not support my choice to have a VBA2C, to say the least. I felt patronized and judged for my birthing decisions by her, and this was the exact opposite of how I felt under the care of the other OB’s at that practice. My doula stood by us without interfering but supported us. She also she gave us the confidence to advocate for ourselves and let my husband know that it was okay to speak for me when I wasn't able to speak for myself. 

My labor was 55 hours long. 

My baby flipped sunny-side up and I stayed at eight (8) centimeters dilated for what seemed like an eternity. I had denied any pain relief and really wanted to do this birth with no medications. Seeing my mental and physical exhaustion, my doula gently suggested seeking some sort of pain relief. In my birth plan, I was adamant about not having an epidural, but like most people know, birth plans are just guidelines and not everything goes as planned. I went ahead a got an epidural placed about 53 hours into labor so I could rest. We tried changing positions multiple times to hopefully encourage baby to get in a better position, but baby decided she was comfortable in the position she was in. It had been about 2 hours since I got my epidural and started Pitocin when my nurse came in to check my cervix. 

I was still at eight (8) centimeters and baby was still face up.

At that time, I decided I wanted to have a c-section as I was not comfortable being on Pitocin for a long time since I have had two previous c-sections. I was worried that my doula might think I was weak and that I was taking the easy way out, but that couldn't have been any further from the truth. She was so supportive. She told me over and over how strong I was, and that she would be there for me and my husband not matter what, and that she completely supported our decision. She talked with my husband and I about our preferences for our cesarean birth and educated us on the options available. She could tell how nervous I was and was very reassuring and provided so much comfort.

When the OB came in to discuss our cesarean birth plan, we expressed our desire for a family-centered cesarean.

  • I wanted the sterile drape to be lowered so I could watch our daughter enter the world. 

  • I requested that both of my arms remain free throughout the surgery.

  • I wanted to be the first to hold my baby skin-to-skin while still in the operating room.

  • It was also extremely important to my husband and I that my doula be allowed into the operating room to support us throughout the entire birth. 

Beautiful Baby Rosalie - April 19, 2015 - 11:26PM

Beautiful Baby Rosalie - April 19, 2015 - 11:26PM

I delivered my beautiful baby girl via family-centered cesarean at 11:26PM. I got to watch her come out, and I was the first to touch her and the first to hold her. She was stunning! After a few minutes of getting my baby snuggles in, I had a complication with my epidural. It was wearing off on one side while the doctor was still closing me up. The anesthesiologist had to sedate me. My husband and my baby girl were together on the other side of the room while I was getting the care I needed. During this time, my doula never left my side. She was right by my head the entire time. As the sedative was wearing off and I was coming back to, I was loud, obnoxious, and quite out of it-- but my doula was there holding my hands reassuring me of her presence and that everything was okay, while my husband was standing nearby holding our daughter.

It was the only birth where I didn't feel alone after baby was born.

After the OB finished closing me up, I was taken back to my room for recovery. Unfortunately I was not able to nurse right away due to the medication I received in the operating room. The nurse asked us which formula we wanted to give baby, and this was not an option I was comfortable with if it could be avoided. I had breastfed my other two and it was very important to me that my new baby be breastfed as well. My doula saw my husband and I both hesitate as we were thrown into unknown territory with the question of formula. She reminded us that there was a milk bank at the hospital I delivered in. We requested the donor milk and it was brought up right away. I watched my loving husband be the first to feed our baby, just like he was the first to feed our other two babies.

My birth experience did not go exactly as I had planned.
However, even though I did not have a VBA2C, I felt empowered.

That. Was. Huge. 

During my other C-sections, I did not feel empowered and I did not feel I could make any decisions regarding my care throughout any part of the birthing process. All decisions were made for me.

I had the choice this time and I was an active participant in my birth experience.

My doula made me feel like a badass for being able to have the power to make my own choices and supporting me through each choice along the way.

She made me feel like a badass for enduring a long hard labor.

She made me feel like a badass for choosing the c-section in the end, and she made me feel like a badass for being the mom that I am.

Authored by: Amanda Perkins, Waterloo, IA
Client of Northeast Iowa Doulas

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