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/Patient Educator

It's National Nurses Week!

In celebration of National Nurses week we are featuring some of the best nurses Eastern Iowa has to offer. As this special week comes to a close, we are so excited to introduce this wonderful nurse to you.

Tracey Huinker is a registered nurse (RN) and works at Allen Women's Health in Waterloo. She works in the clinical setting as a patient educator and also works as a labor and delivery nurse at Unity Point-Allen Hospital on an as-needed basis. 
I have known Tracey for several years now and she is one of the most kind and nurturing women I have ever met. She is such a joy to be around, and her smile lights up the room. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to meet Tracey yet, you're missing out!

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

Tracey: I started my college education with a Bachelor's Degree in Women's Health Promotion at UNI. After being a sexual health educator for a year, I decided I wanted more direct care with patients and went back to school at Hawkeye Community College for my RN degree. I still can't believe it, but in July, I will have been a nurse for 11 years.

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

Tracey: I would say "technically" my internship through UNI really sparked my interest in a career in nursing. Although, I think subconsciously, my mother played a huge role! She was a labor and delivery nurse for years and continues to practice as a women's health ARNP.

NEID-Kaity: How did you become interested in this line of nurse work?

Tracey: Besides my mother, I really think my internship in college drove me to birth work. Part of my internship was attending a variety of childbirth classes, because many childbirth educators at that time had Health Promotion degrees. I remember being so fascinated by everything! I probably attended 10-15 classes, and they all covered the same basic material, but I remember learning something new at each class. I just LOVED it! 
Now I really appreciate how birth can transform women and hopefully give them strength to conquer other challenges in life.

NEID-Kaity: What do you enjoy most about being a L&D nurse and working in the Women's Health Clinic?

Tracey: My roles in the clinic and L&D are very different, but I love them both! I feel like working as a L&D nurse really "fills my bucket", I guess. Welcoming new babies (and parents) into this world is such a pleasure and honor. In the clinic setting, I have the privilege of sitting down with women one-on-one during their pregnancy for educational sessions. I really enjoy getting to know clinic patients throughout their pregnancy and helping them develop a plan for their birth and for when they bring baby home from the hospital. Of course, the best is when I have the opportunity to care for my clinic patient during their labor!

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

Tracey: Although pregnancy, birth, and parenthood are all amazing and can bring so much joy, not everyone is so fortunate. We encounter a lot of tough situations as nurses and sometimes there's not a lot we can do about it. I think sometimes the most challenging part of nursing is just not having the answers for families when they ask, "Why me?"

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

Tracey: Doulas are amazing! We know that women and families who choose doulas, often have healthier outcomes at their birth and a more positive perspective of their experience. Having worked briefly as a birth doula myself, I definitely appreciate how hard it is to be in that role! It is a demanding profession which requires a vast knowledge of the birth process, a strong work ethic, and a deep dedication to their clients. As a L&D nurse, I love working and learning alongside doulas!

NEID-Kaity: What is one thing you always say to your patients?

Tracey: I think the one thing I always tell patients is to trust their intuition. Each pregnancy and birth is so unique that it really can boggle your mind if you constantly compare pregnancies or birth stories looking for the "right answer" or what is "normal." 

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

Tracey: Oh those last weeks! (I remember them all too well!) I try to encourage patience, but I know that is really easier said than done. I guess I also encourage moms to enjoy those last weeks, if at all possible. Enjoy every last little twist and turn of baby, every last hiccup they do. Soon this pregnancy will just be another memory tucked away.

NEID-Kaity: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Tracey: Well, I'm a wife and mother of three, so my free time is usually spent in the sand box or playing dinosaurs! I guess I would also say I'm a political junkie and I also enjoy know...during all my down-time away from the kiddos! :-)

NEID-Kaity: What is your favorite food?

Tracey: Just one?? Hmm....let's just say sweets. Any form. :-)

NEID-Kaity: Please share a favorite memory with us about a time at work.

Tracey: Oh wow, I have definitely been blessed with many great memories from my patients and great co-workers! I think the best, though, is being able to care for a family with their subsequent births. 
Having formed that relationship during their first birth and being able to jump back into it with a second delivery is just so great. Having that connection with a family really helps create a peaceful, beautiful experience for everyone.

Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed, Tracey. We appreciate the knowledge, experience and expertise you offer new and expecting families in the Cedar Valley and are so grateful to have the honor of working alongside you. 
Happy National Nurses Week!

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!

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