I am grateful to each of my clients who have entrusted me to help them prepare for birth, to welcome their babies into the world, to overcome challenges with feeding. I appreciate the relationships I have built, and I enjoy watching these families grow and the parents I have supported begin to support and empower other new families.
Please check out my Google and Facebook reviews and leave one if I have served you.
I am honored to share some of their thoughts, birth stories, and photographs here:
Please check out my Google and Facebook reviews and leave one if I have served you.
I am honored to share some of their thoughts, birth stories, and photographs here:
Frances and Stuart
Taking Melinda’s class was the single most important thing we did as a couple to prepare for birth. It got us on the same page and cemented us as birth partners. As a result of the class, I felt confident that my husband knew everything he needed to in order to support me in labor and delivery and after. My husband and I practiced the skills we learned in Melinda’s class at home, and we were able to apply what we had practiced when it was needed. I’m an obsessive reader and researcher, especially when it comes to parenting, but I still learned a lot from Melinda’s class.
Birth story: I labored at home for about 24 hours using the techniques we learned from our Bradley class. Stuart applied counter pressure and used visualization techniques to keep me relaxed. My contractions were really irregularly spaced until suddenly Thursday night, March 22nd, they got really close together and more intense. Because my contractions were so intense, the midwife had us come in to the hospital just for a check, thinking that being so erratic I probably wasn’t very far along. But on the five minute drive to the hospital I had several contractions, and when we arrived everyone (us, the midwife, and the nurses) was shocked to find I was at 8 centimeters. I didn't have any risk factors so we were lucky enough to labor and deliver in the birth center room at St Thomas Midtown in Nashville. We had a tub, birth ball, yoga mat, ladder, kaya birth stool, and full-size bed, all of which we used as I labored all around the room. I went through transition quickly, but stalled in the pushing stage when I got afraid of the pain. Our midwife, nurse, doula, and Stuart all cheered me on, but I pushed so tentatively for four hours (the absolute limit of how long they'll let you push before intervening) that I wore myself out and my uterus stopped contracting as powerfully. It was nearly 4 in the morning at this point and everyone in my birth team was getting tired, and even though my eyes were closed almost the entire time I labored, I could hear the difference in the room. The midwife had me move to the toilet to try to get past any mental hangups I might be having about pushing--what she didn't know was that I was trying so hard to give a good push that I was cheering myself on thinking, "I'm going to poop on this &@%$# table!" Having totally sapped my resources and worn my body out, we started discussing interventions. Pitocin, vacuum extractor, and epidural were all possibilities. My hero birth coach Stuart asked if we could get some quick carbohydrates in me (I hadn't eaten in hours), and the labor nurse suggested we try one more time in a position that had helped before: the classic position on the bed, with my whole birth team around me. I felt reenergized as I chugged two tiny hospital apple juices and walked myself back to the bed. Getting propped up on pillows with Stuart sitting beside me and holding my shoulders, I admitted to my midwife, "I think I'm afraid to really push." She seemed relieved to hear my admission: it gave us a problem for which there was a solution. She said, "Okay. Here's what you do. The way you get away from the pain is by going through it." So I rallied my strength, my birth team started cheering with more energy again, themselves reenergized by the change in the room. As our baby got closer, the midwife offered to have Stuart come catch the baby, but I couldn't let him move away from his post holding my shoulders. I told him I didn't think I could keep doing all this without him so close, so he stayed where he was and held me. I pushed several more times, pushing through the pain without shying away from it, and our beautiful cone-headed baby girl was born at 4:12 AM March 23rd. I hadn't remembered saying this, but my doula later reminded me that the first thing I said was, "We did it! We have a daughter!" Even though I was the one who carried our daughter and delivered her, it really did feel like a team effort. I couldn't have done it without Stuart's support. Hopefully he'll get to catch the next baby.
Autumn and Josh
The Birth of Andrew Lewis
At 6:30am on January 5th, I journaled that I thought I might be in labor. At 9:59pm that same day sweet Andrew was born. I could have never dreamed up the way it all went; labor and birth are truly unpredictable and miraculous!
After no Braxton Hicks contractions at 41 weeks I was so proud to feel those waves of discomfort early that morning as I lay in bed. They were truly welcomed. I was scheduled for a non-stress test and ultrasound that day since I was planning for a VBAC and that was the midwives’ policy at 41 weeks. I called the midwife on-call who congratulated me for my body’s work and said the non-stress test was unnecessary. She did, however, encourage me to go in for the ultrasound. Reluctantly, Josh, Isaiah (2), and I loaded up in the winter weather and headed downtown for the ultrasound. I had a few contractions on the way but they were only mildly uncomfortable. The ultrasound tech said everything looked healthy, my fluid was low but that is to be expected at 41 weeks, and there was no way baby was staying inside much longer because he was so LOW. I left feeling encouraged.
Josh decided to take off work to see how things progressed and our little family proceeded to grab a late breakfast to-go and eat while doing a couple errands. I was content and feeling confident until I got a call from Allison, the midwife, and things moved in a different direction. She had gotten the results from my ultrasound and said that my fluid was actually too low for them to feel safe letting me wait much longer to deliver. She wanted me to come in for an induction that evening. They want to see fluid in the 5-25cm range and mine was 3cm. I felt totally derailed. “Low fluid” was the reason for my c-section with Isaiah so it felt too familiar and disheartening. I sat in silence for a while before I shared the news with Josh, who was patiently watching me process. He knew how badly I longed for a natural birth with no intervention. But I trusted my midwives and I didn’t want my natural mama know-how to be the pride that stood in the way of my baby’s health or even a VBAC. We prayed together and asked God for wisdom and peace. We carried on with our errands and decided we would just see how things went and make a decision later in the afternoon about induction. We made some Christmas gift exchanges and picked up our milk co-op. All the while I was still contracting and trying to remain grateful that the added stress hadn’t stalled my labor. Allison called back at one point to say she had reserved a room for me at St. Thomas, to arrive at 7pm, and be induced at 8. I was told not to eat past noon. So naturally we went for an early lunch, ha. I wanted my “last meal” to be Chick Fil A , with my favorite 2 year old. We ate and Isaiah prayed for God to help his baby brother come out of my belly. Cue the tears.
We came home to rest up for the day ahead. I couldn’t sleep so Josh and I decided it was a good idea for me to call Allison and ask for some further explanation- why was I being induced if induction is more risky for VBAC mamas? Why was it so pertinent all of a sudden? What were the risks vs benefits at this point? She was so graceful in answering all of my questions. She said that basically babies tolerate labor much better with adequate fluid and at this point I would continue to lose fluid each day. A gentle induction (foley bulb or rupturing membranes- pitocin as a last resort) might be enough to get baby out vaginally. She assured me, though, that she would fully support my decision if I chose to wait it out. She reminded me that my body was doing it’s job and already working this babe out; it was just her recommendation that I come on in. I really appreciated how respectfully she answered me and I felt a huge peace about going in to the hospital at 7. God had given me what I asked for- peace. I felt more calm than I had all day. I took a shower and rested. I updated my doula on my decision to go in and secured childcare for Isaiah. My contractions were still sporadic and not much more than just uncomfortable. But I was resolved at this point.
Around 5:30 we decided to start timing contractions. They were 5-6 minutes apart, less than a minute long, and not very strong. I was still calm and chatty between them. Around 6:30 we hugged big brother, thanked our friends for watching him until my parents got in to town, and headed to the hospital. On the drive it was spitting snow/hail and everything seemd so surreal. We had prepared for so many months for this event. We would meet our second son soon, one way or the other. Contractions were much more uncomfortable in the car and I had to really focus and breathe through them. But I only had 4-5 on the way. We parked, got registered, and waited in the waiting room for over an hour. It was in the waiting room that my contractions picked up in intensity. I was trying to stay moving and would have to stop when a wave would come. I was feeling more pain, but they weren’t nearly strong or intense enough that I would have come to the hospital without the plans of induction.
Around 8:30 our nurse, Katy, took us back to our room. I got changed, hooked up to the monitors, and answered all her questions. Allison came in and I felt comforted by her calm, personal demeanor. I had several contractions during the 15 minutes or so on the monitor and they were much more miserable lying in the bed but I tried not to make a big deal of it. I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. Baby’s heart rate was what they referred to as flat because of the low fluid so they gave me an IV. After that he was tolerating contractions beautifully. Josh was a wonderful advocate (as I didn’t want to call the doula yet) and he remembered to ask for a wireless monitor. But they said they actually didn’t see a reason to continuously monitor me unless something came up, yay! They would just monitor me for 15 minutes of every hour. This was a huge relief to me. Before leaving the room, Allison sat on the foot of my bed and said she knew induction was not part of my plan; that she “got” what we were after. She offered to give me another hour to walk around and see how labor progressed. She gave us the different options for induction (breaking my water or pitocin because I was too far along for a foley bulb) and told us to think it over in the next hour. She left the room and Josh and I unpacked a few things and talked casually. I made a comment about how tired I was already feeling and what a long night it would be- little did I know!
About 10 minutes after Allison was gone, I started feeling crampy and like I needed to poop. I didn’t notice much change in my contractions but I just felt really blah. I went in and out of the bathroom a few times, thinking that my body must be trying to clear itself out one last time. Josh mentioned calling Heidi, the doula, but I wanted to wait since I was only 4cm. Things get hazy in my mind at this point but I remember one contraction that sent my to my knees, face on the cold tile floor. Apparently there was some blood and Josh was quick to clean it up. After that contraction I HAD to poop. (Clearly I was in transition here, but in my mind my body was trying to clear my system- a sign of early labor). I went to the bathroom and was so frustrated that I couldn’t just poop and feel better. I couldn’t not try to push and I was in a lot of pain. I was so hot and I didn’t know how long I could do this. I was really discouraged. Josh was holding a cold washcloth on my back and neck. I was expressing my fears to him when a gush of liquid went into the toilet (my water broke) which was followed with “What is wrong with me?” “Why can’t I just poop?” “Call Heidi!” “Nevermind, call the nurse. Something is wrong with me!”
From the bathroom I heard a nurse say that she’d call the midwife to check me which made me mad because I had just been checked less than an hour prior and I had requested minimal exams. I was holding on to the bar in the bathroom, bearing down and crying. I asked Josh to get Katy, the nurse I wanted. While he was gone, I reached down and felt Andrew’s head. I was in total disbelief and still wondering what was wrong with my body. Josh was practically carrying me to the bed when Katy came in. As soon as she saw me, she ran to get Allison. I don’t remember faces for a while after this, only voices. I was on my hands and knees on the bed, gripping the pillow, and saying “sshhhh” while swaying my hips back and forth. This was the position that I was most comfortable. Allison declared “You’re complete! You can push when you are ready!” to which I responded “Are you sure?!” and Josh said “Complete with what?” Ha, I’ll never forget it. She continued to reassure us and encourage me. It was an amazing feeling as my mind took a step back and my body took over. I remember a couple of really hard pushes and Allison asking if I’d like to try another position. I asked for help turning over and they somehow moved me. At this point, I had no awareness of anyone in the room or what they were doing. It was just me, my body, and my baby working together and there was nothing that could be done to interfere with the process. I pushed a few more times, felt the “ring of fire” and before I knew it, Andrew Lewis came out into the proud hands of his Daddy and laid on my belly. I remember yelling “Oh my God! It’s a baby!” It was so surreal for him to be outside of my body yet still connected by the cord. There’s no comparable feeling of relief, pride, and joy. His cord stopped pulsing 30-40 seconds later. Josh cut the cord and passed our son up to my arms. He was beautiful, pink, and crying. I was completely engulfed in him and unaware of the apparent craziness going on around me as I was bleeding more and longer than Allison felt comfortable with. I remember her gently pulling on the placenta to help it out and Katy cleaning me up. Soon Allison mentioned “You’re going to want to hurt me.” I had some blood clots that she had to pull out and man, that was way worse than birthing a baby. She stitched me up and it still took another hour for the bleeding to stop. I was really uncomfortable but trying to enjoy my babe.
Heidi, the doula, came in sometime during the stitching. Though she missed the birth because of my denial of labor, we were elated to tell her about the successful VBAC! Josh and I were proud of the team we had been and were actually thankful that it was just the two of us. We had worked hard preparing for birth together and felt bonded in a deeper way having supported each other through it all. Around 11pm my parents couldn’t bear not meeting him and brought Isaiah along to meet Andrew. I’ll never forget how delighted he was with the baby’s tiny toes. During their visit, however, was the 2 hour mark where I should have been moved to a postpartum room However, when they tried to get me to stand I blacked out. Basically this happened for 9 hours. They gave me juice, checked my blood pressure, and had me use a catheter. Eventually they gave my IV fluids and said they’d leave me alone for 2 hours to get some restful sleep. Heidi beautifully transformed into a postpartum doula held Andrew so both Josh and I could rest. The rest did the trick for me. I ate breakfast, was able to stand and walk to the bathroom, and was moved up to a postpartum room. The next day we drove our baby boy home in the snow and the rest is history.
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