The birth story of Stella as told to me by her mama, Kristin
To see the birth story book, watch the slideshow. Read the full story below.
I was due on October 5th. That day, I had asked Hazel what she wanted to do. I wanted to have a day of mommy-daughter time, and just let her pick. So we spent the day at the park, and we went to Tim Hortons and got some Timbits and had lunch together.
“We just enjoyed each other because I knew that time was short at that point, and soon it wouldn’t be just me and her.”
I came home, and I was very tired and uncomfortable. We had supper, and I just rested. All night long I had to pee: I kept getting up to pee, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I was in pain, not with contractions, but just with a full bladder. I’d pee and the pain and discomfort would go away. I was getting up probably every hour and a half to go to the bathroom.
Chris was normally off on Fridays, but that day he had been asked to work overtime. He was getting up to go to work at about quarter to five. I was up at 4:30 to go pee. He asked if he should go, and I said yes, I figured I just had to pee lots, and that if something changed, I’d get someone to drive me to the hospital. I was saying this going into the bathroom. I went pee and came out and suddenly had a bad back pain and bent over the bed. He looked at me quite sceptically, like ‘Should I be going?’ I thought I was fine.
We were trying to talk quietly so we wouldn’t wake up Hazel, who had joined us for snuggles at around 4 a.m.
“Are you sure that wasn’t a contraction?”
“No, it didn’t feel like a contraction.”
A little time went by and another hit, and I admitted to myself, ‘Okay, maybe this is a contraction.’
Then another one came. I was much louder getting through that one.
Hazel woke up. At that point, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this might be labour pain’, and I was trying to get dressed, trying to get my pants on but having a lot of trouble doing it because I was nine months pregnant and in pain!
I remember thinking to myself, “Well, fuck…I thought I had more time!” For whatever reason, I had been certain I was going to be way over due.
Chris tried to put my pants on, and I got mad at him: “Don’t touch me, I can do it myself!”
He said, “I don’t think we have a lot of time.” He called his mom, and by then Hazel was quite concerned as mommy was making some odd sounds. I think I was quite snarky with Chris multiple times. He was trying to rush me into the kitchen and somewhere around there (around 5 a.m.), his mom showed up.
By then I had made it out to the living room, but it was still 5:30 or 5:45 by the time we got out of there. Chris was so panicked. For whatever reason, he knew it was happening faster than I did.
Unbeknownst to me, every time I had to pee may have been labour pains, but I slept between each time, so this didn’t occur to me until later.
I had to have two more strong contractions before I made it to the car.
If he could have picked me up and put me in the car, he would have.
“We need to go!”
“I cannot stand up right now, therefore I cannot walk to the car. If that means I’m going to have a baby in the porch, then I’m going to have a baby in the porch.”
We made a very mad dash to the city and had a couple really good contractions in the car. Then we got to the maternity ward and didn’t realize ahead of time that no one would be in the old building on the main floor, so we went to Emergency. They got me in right away and wheeled me along.
I remember getting into the wheelchair and thinking, ‘Oh, thank God.’ They wheeled me all over the place, and I didn’t have to walk. They wheeled me up to Labour & Delivery and did my assessment. They wanted to check how far dilated I was, and I didn’t want them to touch me. It must have been about 6:15 at that point.
I was 9 cm dilated, but they were having trouble getting the heart rate from the baby, and they wanted to do an internal fetal heart check with the electrode through the uterus to the baby’s scalp. I said, “Nope, you’re not doing that to me, she is fine, I know she is in there.” I just wanted to sit on the birth ball and labour there because that’s where it felt good.
I remember being both simultaneously terrified but also knowing that I could do this, that I knew what I was doing this time, and I was prepared. I was going to have a better birth than the first time, and I was ready to fight for the things I wanted this time. Which is why there was only a nurse and a doctor in the room when I delivered: I didn’t want ANYONE there. No extra fluff or distraction. Though I didn’t realize I was gonna be done in 45 minutes. But having soooo many people in my room with Hazel when I was labouring was so distracting and annoying and frustrating and unnecessary. So I was ready to fight anyone who didn’t listen to me.
I remember telling the nurse and doctor,“Fuck off, there’s no way you’re making me labour on that bed,” when they asked me to get up there so they could check me.
The on-call doctor came in, and it wasn’t even a doctor from my clinic, because the doctor on-call from my clinic couldn’t make it in time. The nurses told her how far along I was and the doctor wanted to check me. I finally said yes, she could look, mostly because Chris was persistent and worried.
I got back up on the table, she said she wanted to break my water, and I said no, because with Hazel it made it hurt more and didn’t help. She said, “We need to put the electrode in (for fetal heart monitoring), and we can’t do that unless we break your water.” I said no again, and she replied, “I can almost 99% guarantee you that if we break your water, this baby will be here in 5 minutes.” Chris convinced me, so I let them do it.
She broke my water, and they put the probe in and found the heartbeat, and she was fine, just like I said she was. Three real good pushes, and she was out. She was born at 6:55 a.m. I think we got to the hospital at 6:15 a.m. They didn’t have enough time to admit me or put an IV in. She was in a hurry.
They put her on my chest right away and I got to cuddle her and hold her. That feeling. I don’t have words for that feeling. Does anyone? But I can say that I knew her. I knew my baby and I knew she was mine and that she belonged to me. (When I had Hazel, I felt like someone had placed a stranger on me. There was no instant bond or love at first sight. It took me a year to get that bond.)
That feeling, it never gets old. She was all squishy and covered in white and adorable. We asked for delayed cord clamping, so we probably sat there for a good five minutes.
They asked Chris if they wanted to cut the cord and he said no. I gave him hell.
“I shoved a baby out my vagina, you can cut the damn cord.” So he did.
They took her and weighed her. She was 7 lbs 8 oz and 21 ¼ inches long and healthy and happy. We were in there for probably half hour, maybe even longer, skin to skin. They were stitching me up. My legs wouldn’t stop shaking, coming down from the adrenaline, and they brought me toast.
They gave her back to me. We got the placenta packaged up and our gal came and picked that up for us.
I got to just lay there and hold her and cuddle her. She slept tucked in against me. I just got to sit there and get to know her a little bit and soak it all in. Chris got to stare at her and hold her and cry. After half hour or 45 minutes, they had a room ready, so I showered, and they wheeled me up to my room and just spent the day recovering and getting to know each other.
When Hazel was born, we had around 30 people in our private room, people coming and going all day. I remember being exhausted, so this time around, I wanted a lot less chaos. We had a lot of time to ourselves, getting to know the new baby who remained nameless until the next day. It took us 24 hours to name her.
We had a list of names and just kept going through until we had one that we felt was hers. I knew that I wanted Esther in there for my great grandma, but other than that we had lots of names that we liked but couldn’t agree on. Eventually we agreed on Stella Rose Esther. She felt like a Stella.
Stella is funny – like has a sense of humour already at one-year-old. She is goofy and fun and has no fear. She is fierce and adventuresome and smart and crafty and even a little bit manipulative. She knows how to get what she wants! She’s perfect. I love watching her and her sister together: no one can make Stella laugh like her big sister.
This time around my postpartum experience has been totally different than the first time around. I suffered postpartum depression with my first, who was also a hard baby with colic and reflux. We also had breastfeeding challenges. Wanting this experience to be different, I surrounded myself with support. It certainly helped that I had an easier baby this time, but it also helped knowing I had family to help me, friends, a nanny, and a postpartum doula.
I didn’t realize the first time around how isolating motherhood could be, and I wanted to make sure I was well prepared this time. One of the best baby gifts I gave myself was hiring my postpartum doula, Darla, from Postpartum Darla. Having her come once or twice a week was amazing. It gave me someone that I could leave Stella with while I took Hazel for some much needed Mom and daughter time, someone to ask questions about breastfeeding or baby carrying, make sure I got fed or got a shower or a nap if I needed it! She encouraged me and gave me confidence, supported me no matter what, and just held space for me when I needed it. I can’t say enough good things about her; best gift to myself ever!
A Warman mom and doula recently saw first-hand the contrast and importance of available birth education, especially around breastfeeding, when she supported new moms in another continent.
This past spring, Lindsay Bitner travelled to a town near Monrovia, Liberia for missionary work. She and five other members of the Awakening Church in Warman joined two others from Winnipeg, and formed a team with a medical doctor, three nurses, and two support people from British Columbia.
The team set up a clinic that was based out of an orphanage, using the school on the compound. There were separate rooms for registration, nurses, treatment, the doctor to see patients, prayer, and then one set aside for long-term care. Many people who needed IVs stayed in that room, but it was also where Lindsay did breastfeeding education.
“Once they (the team) found out I was a doula, they were like, ‘OK, all the pregnant moms, all the newborns, are coming to you.’”
Lindsay, who is a mom herself with three young children, saw any new mom that came through, offering her breastfeeding tips and education, including checking their latch. A big part of education was talking about mom’s nutrition. She says many moms were only eating once a day and often only drinking two cups of water a day, so we had to see if they could eat or drink more.
The struggle there, says Lindsay, is that the country has 80 per cent unemployment, so sometimes eating more food just isn’t an option.
Many moms asked for formula or hinted about it (at least 80 per cent, but she says it could have been almost 100), noting the baby would cry after a feed and worrying they weren’t getting enough, and if a baby was malnourished, they were given a bottle of formula.
“There were maybe 2 or 3 moms who were confident they were feeding their baby well. I did see ads for formula, which really broke my heart, because there’s no advertising for breastfeeding.”
As a mom and doula, Lindsay ended up providing a great deal of breastfeeding training to moms on a recent mission to Liberia.
Given the unemployment situation and concerns around safe drinking water, the big concern is formula isn’t a sustainable option for many.
“I did make sure to tell every one of them that what they were eating was really important to make the best milk for their baby. I made sure to emphasize that if you keep nursing and if you’re eating and drinking enough, your body is gong to make exactly what your baby needs, and formula can’t do it. And also making sure they understood that as soon as you stop nursing, it’s really hard to get it going again.
I explained it as a vitamin for them versus a dependency on it for all of their meals in hopes that it would last.”
“Trying to educate them that if you only do this, then you won’t have milk left, and you won’t be able to afford formula,” explains Lindsay.
“I taught a lot of moms that: if a baby looked malnourished, we would give formula, but encouraged them to keep breastfeeding and more often, because it is clean and affordable. The hygiene of it and affordability of it are the important factors, whereas here it’s not as big of a deal.”
A couple stories really stood out for Lindsay. The first woman she saw had her seventh baby with her, who looked undernourished.
“The mom said, ‘I can’t feed her because it’s so painful.’ Her nipples still looked really raw and awful even though the baby was four weeks old. I showed her how to get a wider latch.”
And even though many patients spoke English, the team often had a translator – a 22-year-old guy.
“By the end, he had a breastfeeding education and could tell the moms what to do without me explaining first for him to translate,” laughs Lindsay.
“Once this particular baby got a good latch, the mom exclaimed, ‘Wow, that doesn’t hurt as much,’ and that felt really good because I was helping one mom.”
Anyone I taught, I said, ‘Make sure you tell everyone you know that you need to have the areola in the mouth!”
A heartbreaking story that stood out was an auntie who brought in her three-month-old niece, whose mother had passed away two weeks ago. The baby was being fed water and glucose.
“We made up formula for baby, who took the bottle well. In the hour that she was there, she brightened up a lot. We sent that auntie home with four cans of formula in hopes that that would tide them over until they could get some money to get some formula.”
One of the interesting parts of her experience was hearing the moms talk about their birth experiences. She noted many aren’t afraid to have a home birth, and was fascinated because their rates of epidurals versus not were the exact opposite as here.
“I talked to a midwife and we were talking about the differences, and she said they have a 15% epidural rate (only for emergencies), whereas I heard a nurse say with a client of mine that there is an 85% epidural rate here.”
Lindsay says some of the teen moms who came through the clinic were afraid of birth and labour, so she did a mini prenatal prep class for them, but she says any mom who had had a baby wasn’t as worried.
Lindsay admits that while the experience was enriching and rewarding, it was also heartbreaking.
“We had seen the community Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and it got pretty overwhelming because by Wednesday, it was the people who were pretty desperate. I had to take a longer lunch, I just wanted to do more. ‘Can I not eat today so they can eat?’ I asked. Our team leader said, we are doing the best we can, we have to help the one person in front of us, we have to love the one person in front of us, and hope that it goes beyond that.’
“I clinged to that because what else can you do? There is nothing else you can do.”
I’m proud to share this guest post from a fellow mom who is so articulate and strong, her words need to be shared far and wide. Enjoy. ~ Darla
Prior to becoming pregnant, I had put a lot of time and energy into myself, especially my body. I did yoga daily, was on a diet that I was eating primarily vegetables, went for runs, and spent a lot of time being concerned with how I looked. Were my muscles showing? How did these clothes fit? What size could I fit into? As I look back on old pictures and try and fit into old jeans, I can only see in hindsight just how tiny I was. I can remember having tricked myself into thinking that I was finally confident in my skin, but would then be so self-critical every time I stepped in front of the mirror. I was strong and healthy, but I wasn’t comfortable and I wasn’t happy.
During my pregnancy, maintaining that active lifestyle became too much to handle. Physical activity gave me anxiety and I worried that I would hurt the baby. Eating felt good so I caved into every craving that I had. I kept telling myself that I was young and would want my old routine back once I had my baby and would “bounce back”. The result? I gained 90 pounds in 9 months.
Once Neera was born, I quickly realized that falling back into my old workout routine wasn’t going to be an option. I needed to recover from my delivery. I was exhausted and sleeping whenever she was. Breastfeeding tired me out. Breastfeeding also made me want to eat everything in sight. Sure, breastfeeding helped in shedding some of the weight I had gained, but not all of it, and it didn’t “fall off” like articles I had read said it would. Instead, it stuck. It stuck to my hips and my thighs and my belly and my love handles.
The only part of my old routine that I maintained was the self-critical stares in the mirror.
When would I “lose the baby weight”? Would the stretch marks ever fade? Would my body ever look like it used to? When would I get to reclaim the body that my baby had taken over for nine months?
Pretty sad thoughts to be having.
What I should have been asking myself is, “When will my perspective change? When can I learn to love myself?” I don’t know what sparked it, but eventually I looked in the mirror and decided that I was going to love that reflection. I decided that I was going to focus all of my attention on being a good person and a good mom, not a “good” body – because every body is a good body! I decided I was going to celebrate my body for bringing the greatest thing that ever happened to me into this world. And I decided I wanted to talk about why I felt any of this in the first place, and why many mommas do.
All too often, on top of all of the other new pressures and expectations when you become a momma, there is an unfair focus put on your body. What was my body before? What is it now? What did it go through? Will it ever be the same?
When I search #postpartumbody on any social media platform, the majority of photos are regarding what it took to “loose the baby weight” or tips to get fit quick.
I’m sorry, but this just isn’t real for me. It is hard enough for me to find time to make a healthy meal, let alone get to the gym multiple times a week. And you know what? We shouldn’t feel like we have to do any of that!
Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to be a strong and healthy momma, but I think it is well past time time that we start to shift the conversation about what that looks like, sounds like, and feels like. The size of clothes that fit you does not mean strong and healthy. The number on the scale does not mean strong and healthy. Limiting your diet so you feel guilty every time you want a cheeseburger does not mean strong and healthy. “Losing the baby weight” does not mean strong and healthy. To me, strong and healthy means balance: fuelling your body with good food but not feeling bad about the wine and chocolate – trying to get outside for walks but not feeling bad about binge watching Netflix while you cuddle your baby – having goals for living more actively but not being self-loathing about where you’re at. Be a rebel and love yourself, as you are, where you are, for all the glorious things you are!
I “lost the baby weight” the moment that Neera entered the world. I love my body, as it is, for being capable of such an indescribable, miraculous feat: creating a human life. The extra skin, the push and pull, the scars; they all serve as reminders of what my body is capable of and the space that it gave me to grow a new life. My focus, now, is on the love and connection I have with my child. My focus is on the light and love I see in her eyes every time she looks at me, and how much easier it is to manifest that love for myself than it ever was before.
I think one of my friend’s kiddos said it best. Every time she is in her bathing suit her son points to her tummy and asks, “Did I do that, Mommy?” And she responds, “You sure did buddy.” Then he smiles at her like he created the most beautiful piece of forever artwork. And you know what? He did. They do.
I hope that one day, all of us can look at ourselves the way that children do. I hope that one day we can search #postpartumbody and see mommas who are celebrating their bodies as they are and not attempting to live up to some ridiculous body ideal that the rest of the world has. I hope that mommas can be the ones to shake the way we see one another in the world, because body positivity doesn’t just affect mommas; body positivity affects us all.
So here is me and my daughter, stripped down and as real and raw and honest as we can be. This, to me, is what really matters. Let’s start filling our social media feeds with photos like this; with photos of reality and of love.
**these wonderful photos were done by molly.jeanine.photo – check out her amazing work on Instagram**
This post originally appeared on The Momma Moments blog, and it was shared with permission. Read more about Jess here: she is a mom, daughter, partner, sister, teacher, writer, yoga enthusiast who uses her talents to help break down the stigma around mental health. She is part of a revolution to normalize talking about our struggles as moms. You can find more of her work on the Mothers Empowering Mothers Blog.
You’ve heard from one of my clients already on why new moms should hire a postpartum doula. Now you get to hear from another mom! Below is feedback from a client on why you should hire a postpartum doula as part of your postpartum planning, and how it benefits everyone in the family.
Mom enjoying her new baby girl.
Why did you want to hire a postpartum doula?
It can be a pretty hectic time, especially if you have a c-section.
The thing about a postpartum doula is they know the exact situation and they can help you exactly the way you need. It’s a very specific kind of help.
There can never be too much help. My mom was there, my husband, my brother and sister-in-law – it’s not like we didn’t have anybody. Even if you have a ton of friends and family to help out, it’s good to have an extra person at least once a week.
You might not want to ask friends or families to do certain things, but a postpartum doula is someone you can ask.
Did I meet your expectations of what you had in mind for a postpartum doula?
Yes, you met expectations, and I would like to note that my husband and mom were skeptical, and you over-exceeded their expectations. There was a lot of relief. There was so much that had to be done, so to come home and to have even one or two things done already, everyone’s just a lot more happier, healthier.
And you’re the type of person who does continued support: I feel like you continue. You get to know people and become friends with them and you do offer continued support. It’s not just “you paid me, and it’s done” – without realizing it, it’s just an extra person in the community who, if they don’t know the answer, they might know someone with the answer.
Did anything I did stand out to you?
My family was very happy. Mike (my husband) doesn’t like spending money on that because he thinks he can do it all himself. To come home and even have the garbage taken out, you could just see the stress taken off of him.
(Darla’s) going to know what needs to be done. You came in, you were comfortable, you knew what needs to be done, you filled your time with all that needs to be done.
What would you say to families on the fence about hiring a postpartum doula?
Do it. It’s worth it. It’s kind of like getting a good photographer at your wedding. It’s worth the money. Realistically, no one is ever really ready for that situation, and it’s good to have somebody who knows what they are doing. We’re not all equipped to do this. We don’t get trained to do it. We all have jobs in the world and get trained to do it, but almost nobody gets trained to be a mom.
Check out my Testimonials to hear more from other moms.
If you haven’t already heard, I will be facilitating a support group for moms on select Tuesdays out of Warman Physiotherapy & Wellness. Our first meeting is this week, so I thought it would be timely to give a real-life example of what a difference a little bit of support can make.
Imagine you are a mom whose toddler has built a beautiful wall of blocks at an indoor playground, but when he comes back from a snack, another child has dismantled it. He’s upset, and you empathize: he worked so hard on that, and it’s a big deal to him. Perhaps you’ve even been in this exact situation!
No amount of empathy or “can I help you build it again?”or distraction or leaving him alone helps: he cries and cries and cries and cries. Real tears, at times screaming. To the point that you now have tears in your eyes and take a break to cry in the bathroom, because you have no idea how to make it better and you were already having a tough day. A couple moms give you empathetic smiles, one mom asks your toddler if he’d like to join them on the slide. Such little gestures that make you want to cry more, but in a good way: because these moms get it. They understand how it feels, and they want to help you.
This is exactly why mom support groups are powerful: they build us up, let us know we aren’t alone. At times we definitely FEEL like we are alone, or like we are the only person who has ever been in a particular situation, but I assure you, you are not. Somewhere, and some point, another mom has been there, and she gets it. She will cry alongside you and laugh with you at the situation once enough time has passed.
And so I hope you will join us for the Warman Moms Support Group. Motherhood can be hard, but you aren’t alone, and you were never meant to do it alone. See you Tuesday.
Who better to tell you the benefits of postpartum support than a mom who has experienced it herself? Below a mom gives feedback on her experience of having a postpartum doula.
Why did you want to hire a postpartum doula?
We wanted to hire a postpartum doula so that we would have as much support possible for mom and baby and help give them the best start possible.
Did I meet your expectations of what you had in mind for a postpartum doula?
Oh my gosh YES! You were so supportive and encouraging and having you with us as we became a family of 4 was so reassuring. It was such a comfort having you in our home and I always looked forward to your weekly visits.
You brought a calm, caretaker presence that just wrapped us up in gentleness that we so needed as we adjusted to life with a baby again.
Did anything I do stand out to you?
Well, I think that everything you did for us was wonderful. But I was always amazed at the amount of stuff that you knew, and I loved that you always had such awesome information. And if you didn’t know something, you sourced out the information. I loved that you were never pushy, just gave me everything you had and let me decide what I wanted. You were gentle and supportive in a way that was comforting and helped boost my confidence as a new mom again.
What would you say to families not sure about investing in postpartum care from a doula?
Hiring a postpartum doula is investing in your self-care at a time you may forget to look after yourself. A new mom needs just as much care as a new baby, but the new mom often gets overlooked. A postpartum doula makes sure the new mom is nurtured so that she can better care for herself as well as her new family.
You can find more testimonials from moms here.