The lovely Nicola Distefano-Plummer, Bella Josephine "Josie" (6), Donatella Lucille "Lucy" (4), Giavanna Seeley "Seeley" (2), and Tavo Grady "Grady" (5 months). Nicola has also lost two previous pregnancies to miscarriage.
Nicola chose to participate in this movement to share her thoughts on the importance of normalizing and non-medicalizing birth when it's safe to do so. She has strong feelings against the idea that pregnancy and birth are illnesses and doesn't feel that women should be made to birth in hospitals if they remain healthy.
After losing her first two pregnancies to miscarriage, Nicola was devastated. Her second loss contributed to the end of a long term, committed relationship and while she said she knows that led to her meeting the man who is now her husband and having her four beautiful children processing is still a challenge. Pregnancy with Josie went well and Nicola chose to deliver in the hospital. The experience was difficult for her and she felt that the medical model of care led to her being treated not as a person but as just another patient. Her birth culminated in her placenta being forcefully pulled out of her via her daughters umbilical cord wrapped around the providers arm and she knew that she wanted something different in the future.
Entering her first postpartum period was a shock to Nicola and she wishes there was was more communication, education, and support for women in their fourth trimester. Nicola was sore, her hormones were shifting, and felt she was on her own. Breastfeeding directly didn't work out with Bella so she ended up pumping exclusively throughout her first year. As Nicola returned to work full time she began struggling even more. In hindsight, she knows that she was experiencing postpartum depression but was unable to acknowledge it at the time.
Nicola knew in her heart that she would love to have a home birth but where she lives in Nebraska the legalities of such gave her pause and she didn't want to risk her husbands medical license should anything happen. She chose to instead deliver at Nebraska's first free standing birth center with a midwife who she found to be very supportive. Things with this birth went beautifully and Nicola enjoyed the non-medicalized model of care. Lucy was her first direct breastfeeding experience and while the relationship had it's challenges they had a good experience. Nicola navigated postpartum depression following Lucy's birth as well but still wasn't able to label it for what it was.
Prior to Seely's pregnancy, Nicola had really been able to find her community and felt even more strongly about having a non-medicalized birth. Unfortunately, during this time the birth center she'd delivered Lucy at had become more medicalized. Nicola was uncomfortable with a lot of the testing and recommendations that were pushed her way but still, assuming it was the best option chose to deliver there. While her birth was uncomplicated it was not the experience she had hoped for.
Nicola and her husband thought that they were done having children but her husband really wanted to have a son so they decided to try again. Nicola knew she was pregnant very early on and says that from the beginning she was certain it was a boy. Knowing she didn't want to return to the birth center she spoke to friends and considered a naturalistic provider in a hospital environment. She was happy with the provider but still not comfortable with the hospital and ultimately found an out of state midwife with availability to facilitate a home birth.
Grady made his entrance after Nicola's quickest labor. She felt that it was going to be the day so her doula stayed with her while they were out and about for the day. They returned home and just as her doula mentioned that she was going to deliver quickly and they weren't ready. She told her doula she was going to push and Grady arrived peacefully. Breastfeeding is going well and Nicola says that she is finally acknowledging her challenges with depression and anxiety. She had a bit of a wake up call when a co-worker's wife committed suicide due to postpartum depression following the birth of their child at 24 weeks and now feels even more strongly about the need for postpartum support.
With the absence of a that support for postpartum women, Nicola believes even more in the power of sharing our stories.