What’s the difference?
I am a firm believer in the beauty of all births, the wisdom they teach us, and the growth that occurs as we move through them and begin our parenting journey. There are often correlations between the way our babies are born and their emerging personalities and temperaments. I delight in these journeys of discovery and consider them all amazing and deserving to be shared. I strongly encourage mothers to write their own stories for their perspective will be vastly different than mine. However, not every woman will do that. So I offer a couple of options for preserving the details of the births I attend. I offer a birth announcement that is shared on my doula Facebook page after approval by the parents, of course. And it usually includes 1-5 pictures. It allows me to share their journey with a larger audience and celebrates the varied ways parents meet their babies. Many expectant women have shared with me that they read the posted birth announcements as they prepared to meet their own babies. The birth announcements are written without the name of the provider or last names of the parents, and are typically 2-3 paragraphs long. The birth announcement is included in my services for those who are comfortable with having a summary of their birth on my social media account.
I also offer a comprehensive birth story at an additional fee. The birth stories are much more detailed and number somewhere between 3-6 pages, and also include identifiers like names of providers and staff, and specifics regarding location. The birth story is written to the child as though I was telling them what I witnessed during their birth. The birth story is for the parents to enjoy privately or to share as they see fit. The cost of the birth story is $100 and can be added to the fee for doula services. I spend 3 hours on average typing a birth story, and 15 minutes to type a birth announcement.
So what’s the difference between a birth announcement and a birth story besides the fact that the announcement is shared on social media and the birth story is typed up and given to the parents as a keepsake for the parents for an additional $100 fee? Read on. Below I have shared the same birth in both formats, to give you a better idea of how they differ in the juxtaposition of the two. Some clients choose both an announcement and a story, some choose one or the other, and some choose neither. It’s up to you. The services I offer are as unique as the births I witness.
(Posted on my social media pages with approval by parents at no extra charge)
I am so pleased to share that Olivia* and Mike* are parents….AGAIN! This is our third journey together, and they welcomed baby #3 (daughter #2) on December xx! Olivia was content to wait and see what this third baby had in store for her birth. After all, third babies have a reputation for being wild cards. But Olivia felt a lot more uncomfortable in the final weeks, which had her wondering if this baby might come a little sooner than her others. Then at her regularly scheduled 39-week midwife appointment her blood pressure was high. They checked again and it was still alarmingly high, and to the extent that her midwife felt it was time for this wild card baby to be born. Olivia took the change in plan with grace, and embraced the comfort of knowing when and how, as her husband took care of the logistics at home with the kids before returning to the hospital. The induction was planned as gently as possible, with the hope of avoiding the use of pitocin. But Olivia had been through an induction with her first, and after two unmedicated births she was confident and optimistic. She did have a history of very fast labors however, so that made the logistics of when to come together a bit more critical.
Things didn’t get going until the evening since the appointment was later in the day, and I joined them at the beginning just to be safe. She first used a breast pump to encourage contractions in the hope of moving her baby down lower. And the contractions were fairly strong and seemed significant, so things were headed in the right direction. Olivia maintained her sense of humor and only occasionally commented on a contraction being uncomfortable. Then an hour or so later when the pump cycling was completed, the midwife broke Olivia’s water just past x:xx. Olivia was dilated 5 cm already by then and she pondered the significance of what was about to come. She was standing on the edge and would jump headlong into labor very shortly. In fact, it was that first hour after her water was broken, that Olivia’s body slowly eased its way into labor. By x:xx, the contractions were more forceful to the point that she had to face them. Additionally, since she was being induced for high blood pressure, she was also relegated to the bed. But Olivia remained so strong and committed. And she did not let that deter her from her goal of another unmedicated birth. She rolled to her side as the contractions intensified, vocalizing and holding Mike’s hand. I reminded her how wise she was and that her body knew what to do. Olivia recognized this too, so when the midwife returned to check her progress around x:xx, we were not surprised to learn that Olivia was already dilated 6-7 cm. It wouldn’t be much longer, that’s for sure. Olivia labored through suddenly intense and long contractions and moved quickly to feeling like she had to push just 15 minutes later.
The midwife returned immediately, and as Olivia pushed she encouraged her to do what her body was telling her. And after just a couple of contractions, her sweet baby’s head made its way out with a splash, and the rest of her at 7:46 pm, after about an hour of labor! The midwife presented the most adorable baby to Olivia’s arms and she cried tears of relief and love at first sight. Olivia reached up and grabbed Mike’s hand as they took in their baby girl’s first moments. We did not yet know her name for it was a surprise. But we all gasped at the beauty of her spoken name, Violet Jane*. She was as lovely as her name with a head covered in hair and the sweetest face. Violet grabbed her mother’s hand as Mike cut the cord, it was a poignant image of connection that would continue even after the cord was no more. Violet weighed x lb. x oz. and measured xx in. long. And what’s more, she was latched in her first hour of life, or was it her first half hour? Regardless, her parents were calm and confident and it showed. It was such an honor to walk beside you in birth again. Thank you so much for allowing me the privilege! **As always, this birth announcement was posted at the request of the parents and only after their review and approval.**
*While this information has been shared with permission, the names and some identifying details have been changed for the purpose of posting publicly on my website.
(Printed on stationary and provided digitally to the parents to do as they see fit for an additional fee of $100)
I was thrilled when your mom shared with me that she and your dad were expecting a third child. And I was further over the moon when they asked me for the third time to be their doula. I was honored and quite frankly surprised since I missed the birth of your brother, but in my defense it was only by a hair. He came barreling into the world so quickly that your mom liked to say that she and your dad also almost missed it! Well, as fate or bad luck would have it, I had plans to travel right around your mom’s due date, much as was the case with your big sister. We were hopeful she would birth just past her due date as had been her custom, which would ensure I was back home from Christmas travels, but just in case we made arrangements for my backup doula, Liz, to attend our prenatal visit in your parents’ home. It was a new home for them, and my first time seeing it. I was happy to know they added some rooms to better accommodate their family’s growth in the coming weeks to 5! Your parents have been busy the past few years, that’s for sure.
We found ourselves at the prenatal visit rather suddenly it seemed, as there was so much to keep your parents busy. Like I said, they bought a new house and then moved into it, or at least had begun to. But the day to day demands of parenting two children has a way of keeping people extra busy and makes time fly. So when we came together to meet and talk the logistical details of labor, it felt a bit like dejà vue. (Hadn’t we just met up for the birth of their second child?) Your mom was glowing in a different way to me this time, however. She seemed smaller and particularly healthy, and she was all belly. She had been careful with her diet so as to manage her blood sugars well for gestational diabetes, another familiar experience for her. But she was nailing it and even grabbed a handful of almonds as a snack while we chatted. It was a lovely meeting, complete with tea cups and a tea pot. I smiled to see that your mom managed to hold on to her hospitality to us, even as she and your dad worked on getting settled and moved into their new home completely. We parted ways that day excited for what was yet to come, and embraced all of the unknowns that were yet to be made clear. Pregnancy and birth are a trust walk, very much like parenting. You have no choice but to march forward and take whatever comes, and to be willing to change your route if necessary. Your parents were very familiar with this through the births of their children and the years they had spent parenting them. They were knew all about changes in the journey and they had perfected the duck and weave maneuver. And with that, it was a “see you later”, and with a hug I left.
Your mom updated me after her weekly appointments in her final month of pregnancy. Her body was making strides toward labor, although there was no predicting it. She felt uncomfortable and crampy and tried to rest when her body gave her signs that she needed to. But that is extra challenging with two young children underfoot. Still, she carried on as her cervix prepared. I imagine there was some extra nesting that occurred in those final weeks as your parents were still getting settled into the new house. But it’s hard to blame them really. Imagine how much more challenging unpacking would be once a new baby arrived.
With all of the uterine activity your mom drummed up, she even had a false alarm on Friday, December 16. She was getting ready to go to a party, preparing appetizers to bring, when she felt contractions. She was reminded of the frenetic labor of your brother, and worried that she wouldn’t have time to get to the hospital, let alone make childcare arrangements and get appetizers to a party. So I suggested she call the midwife and perhaps stop by the hospital to get checked before going to the party. As we spoke on the phone the contractions spaced apart, leaving your mom relieved that it probably wasn’t labor just yet. But just to ease her mind she and your dad did stop by the hospital where her midwife, Jean*, confirmed that she was not in labor just yet. Your mom called me to confirm and we all went to our holiday parties as planned.
However, that labor scare had me wondering if your mom’s body would hold on until after her due date as she had done previously. And it had me wondering if I might miss your birth after all, due to my holiday travels. The days were ticking by on the calendar and I was scheduled to leave town December xx. And then she called me. It was December xx, and I was to leave the next day. I was so hopeful her call meant she was in labor. And I suppose it kind of did. She told me she was still at her appointment with her midwife, Audrey*, but her blood pressure was high. In fact, it was high enough that Helen felt you needed to be born that day. I asked your mom how she felt about it. After all, things had been kind of nerve wrecking in the days leading up with all of the logistical details that would need managing (basically your siblings and their care), along with the worry that your mom would have another very short and intense labor. If she was induced then she would be safely at the hospital with the logistics worked out, and at this rate she would be home in time for Christmas too. She let the idea of it sink in and she wasn’t too upset by it and even considered it might be an unexpected blessing. And as they drew labs and waited for the results, your mom grew more comfortable with the idea as your dad took care of the details at home.
Since her appointment was in the afternoon the induction wouldn’t begin until the evening. For many women this would be less than ideal as it would set them up for an overnight labor. But with your mom it was different. We were very hopeful she would give birth that same day even though they wouldn’t get started on anything until 5:00. The plan was to begin with a breast pump in the hopes it might produce contractions that would initiate readiness and also move you deeper in your mom’s pelvis so that breaking her water would be a safe next step. I was nervous not being with your mom from the beginning just knowing her history and the fact that I missed your brother’s birth. So I told her I would rather come if they were discussing the plan and would most certainly leave my home immediately if they broke her water. She agreed and I arrived a short time later. And I am honest in saying that I had visions of your mom having her water broken before I got there and crazy strong contractions immediately following that resulted in you being born before I arrived. Now mind you my drive was only about 18 minutes but your mom’s previous labor was just about an hour long, give or take, so it wasn’t completely outside the realm of possibility, only mostly outside of it.
I walked into their room sometime after 5:00 and even texted at a red light that I was close. Your dad (or maybe it was your mom) replied with OK 🙂 or something similar and I was taken back to your brother’s birth because I received an almost identical text when I was 5 minutes away! Only he texted that to me knowing I would miss your brother’s birth. I think your mom was already pushing your head out by then. Anyway, when I arrived to their room I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I hadn’t missed the birth. So when I walked in and pushed back the curtain to see your parents and Audrey, and yes, your mom was still pregnant, I was so relieved. And Audrey smiled mischievously as she said she tried really hard to convince your parents to text me that your mom was crowning but they wouldn’t do it. I just knew they might have gone through with such a plan. But I was greatly relieved they didn’t. You mom told me she figured it would be best if I liked them at the end of all of it. And she was probably right.
So a short time after I arrived, the breast pump was wheeled into the room and your mom began a one hour regimen, per her midwife, of pumping for 5 minutes and taking a break for 5 minutes. We had a timer set up to keep us on track and your mom got to it. It didn’t take long for her to feel contractions that were quite strong too. They only really came when she was pumping but it was still very encouraging. She also managed to pump a significant amount of colostrum that she put aside for you. If your blood sugars were a concern she was happy to know she had her own milk for you instead of formula. Linda*, the nurse, popped in and out, and was a welcome addition since she had also been your mom’s nurse for your sister’s birth.
When that pumping hour was over, and with more forceful contractions already coming off and on, Audrey and Dr. Brown* came in to chat with your mom about the induction plan. They determined your mom’s Bishop’s Score (an assessment tool used to determine the likelihood of an induction ending in a vaginal birth) and your mom’s score was insanely high at like 14. The lower threshold to induce is 7 so she was about as inducible as she possibly could be. And I know that brought reassurance to everyone, but especially your mom, for this induction was coming prior to your due date and a mom sometimes wonders how or when she might know the time is right. But she also trusted her providers and knew that high blood pressure was something she didn’t want to mess with as it posed risks to the both of you, and the best way to resolve it is to give birth. So she listened to the plan that was laid out and she was game. First Audrey would break her water and then we would wait and see how her body responded. There was pitocin available to bring on contractions if her body did not, however we hoped to avoid all of that. Unfortunately, the option of walking the halls and squatting using the side rails was not available since your mom was relegated to the bed for her labor. It was an unfortunate consequence of her high blood pressure.
Audrey broke your mom’s water and the fluid was clear and what’s more, your mom was already dilated 5 cm, 80% effaced, and your head was sitting nicely at 0 station. It was an excellent start and we were very hopeful your mom’s body would move into full-on labor very soon. But after Audrey left, your mom got a little emotional. And suddenly with her water broken and the realization of the limitations of laboring in bed, the situation felt so momentous. Your mom confided in us with teary eyes that all along she thought she had no expectations and yet when it came down to it, because she expected things to go more like with her first induction, that she truly did have expectations. It wasn’t a bad thing. It just was. And your mom took a moment to wrap her head around what was to come. And then she was ready.
Sue* came in around 6:15 to set up the warmer and ask your parents some questions. And around 6:40 a friend stopped by to visit, who also happened to be a doctor working that day in a different department. His wife had been very helpful during the pregnancy, so it was particularly nice that he happened to be there that evening. He didn’t visit for long knowing your mom was working her way into active labor, but I’m sure it was a nice lift to her spirits at just the right time.
And soon after he left your mom took a trip to the bathroom. She felt like she might need to have a bowel movement which might have been true. But I told her it could also just be that your head was moving low. Either way, it was still nice for her to get out of the bed and labor in a different place even if just for a couple of minutes. She made her way back to the bed and I stepped out to refill her water cup, making sure it was free of ice since your mom did not like iced water. I forgot the first time I filled her cup, but remembered the rest of the times. When I returned, your parents were huddled together as if in prayer, but as it turned out they were just talking. I mentioned to them I had paused before entering because I thought they were praying, and that served as a gentle nudge because your mom said, “Oh, that’s a good idea.” And we huddled us three as your dad prayed over you and your mom, asking for God’s protection and care. And when he finished it seemed that it was time.
Your mom made a comment shortly after that about how nice it has been to have breaks between her contractions since she didn’t recall that in her previous labors. And as if on cue, the next contraction after that comment was a doozie that sent your mom writhing on the bed and moaning through it. And at it’s completion she caught her breathe only to have another contraction follow on its heels. Your dad and I exchanged glances somewhere in there and I might have smiled just a bit, knowing that this was it and you would be in our midst very soon. Your dad held your mom’s hand and I tried to apply counter pressure to her lower back to ease some of the pain. But when it came down to it, she was the one to do the work of labor. But we were there with her, believing in her and encouraging her.
At 7:23 Audrey checked your mom’s cervix to find her dilated 6-7 cm. And after that exam your mom’s labor intensified further. And just like that she was in transition. She breathed deeply and she moaned some too, and she also said, “Jesus!” It became her mantra through each surge, and I found it lovely that she drew strength from the Lord and remembered to do so even when her mind was diving deep into the throes of her labor. I continued to press upon her lower back and the delivery cart was rolled into the room by someone, either Audrey or Carol*, the nurse who had just come on for the overnight shift at 7:00. Linda assured us she picked the best nurse, and knowing Carol, I agreed. (Those change of shift babies keep the staff on their toes though. So many babies end up being born right after the first nurse leaves it seems unfair.)
Your dad talked to your mom briefly about how well your brother adjusted when he left. Your mom hung on every word because in that moment he was her baby, her youngest child. It’s a strange feeling to let go of one baby as the youngest to embrace another. She cried as your dad spoke, knowing he was already growing into his role just fine. And the contractions kept coming, one after another, somehow allowing just enough of a pause for their little exchange.
At 7:35 your mom flipped to her hands and knees, as laboring in the bed was getting very difficult to do. She grew flush and cried out to us, “Hot! Hot!” as we scrambled to find something to fan her. I fanned her with the pain scale sign which has always been much more effective and practical as a fan than as an assessment of pain. And your mom continued to labor through back-to-back contractions, breathing deeply, and vocalizing to help ease the pressure she was feeling. And in a minute or two we heard her moans move to more of a grunt and we knew that you were very near. It was 7:37 and by 7:40 the nursery nurse was paged to join us.
Your mom pushed beautifully and with such power and restraint in the perfect balance. And in no time at all, well just 6 minutes from the first pushy sound, she birthed you into the world, wet, slick, and with a splash right into Audrey’s hands at x:xx pm! You weighed x lb. x oz. and measured xx in. long. Your mom had done it again! She had labored actively for no more than an hour. She cried at the sight of you and grabbed you to her chest. And your dad leaned in to get a look at his littlest girl. Your mom looked up at your dad and he kissed her head, and they instinctively grabbed hands and didn’t let go until the nurse passed him a hat to put upon your head. Your mom continued to cry at the miracle of you and the joy and elation that come washing over a woman after a natural childbirth. There was a bit of shock and adrenaline there too, I imagine, after such a precipitous labor. But she was so relieved and happy.
Your dad cut your cord after it had stopped pulsing and Audrey had clamped it. And your mom brought you right up to her chest for a snuggle as she pulled the sheet up to your shoulders so only your little hat-covered head showed. You had so much dark hair that is snuck out underneath the edge of the hat all around, down your neck and at your temples. Your parents were very interested in your mouth and whether you had any tongue or lip ties, since both your siblings did. Your mom brought you to her breast around x:xx, just 15 minutes after your birth, but you spent more time looking around at first. You grew more interested as your first hour came to a close, and your mom had you to her breast for a good first attempt. You were absolutely adorable and had a bit of your mom and your dad in you, including the cleft chin.
The euphoria remained in that room as we reflected on the amazing way you came into the world. And in the end it was very good that your mom was at the hospital from the start. Their new house was farther from the hospital than their first, after all. It wasn’t far, but considering your mom’s labors it was far enough. I stayed awhile and chatted with your parents and made sure your mom had something to drink that wasn’t water. I had also left an assortment of the treats I had baked for the holiday, so your parents would be able to dig into those later on that night if they wished. Finally. Your mom could eat something sweet and not have to document it.
It was a beautiful birth and fortuitously timed. Your mom labored with the same strength and confidence as she had labored twice before, with your loving dad by her side giving steadfast support. He believed in her as well, and so did I. But sometimes when things get hard it helps to surround yourself with people who believe in you. I think it multiplies! Your mom sailed through an intense labor and found herself on the other side with you in her arms, reeling as she gathered herself back to center again. And you were every bit worth it, I have no doubt. Just ask your mom. Happy birthday, Violet Jane*! You are loved more than you can imagine.
*While this information has been shared with permission, the names and some identifying details have been changed for the purpose of posting publicly on my website.