The stunning Angela Steele, Landon (5), and Emmett (2).
Angela's first pregnancy came when she was just 16 and she felt pretty powerless at the time as she had an abortion but it was not a decision she made for herself. In the time since, she's made peace with it as she feels it was the appropriate decision for her at such a young age.
Her second pregnancy came 9 months after dating the man who is now her husband. It was shocking as she hadn't planned on ever being a parent and was told that it would be difficult due to ovarian scarring and endometriosis. Her pregnancy went well and Landon's birth was fairly uneventful, in a good way. She had hired a doula, went to the hospital in active labor after her water broke spontaneously at 36 weeks 6 days. She labored without medication for a few hours, pushed for 25 minutes and there he was.
Breastfeeding is where things became difficult, and they were very difficult. She had cracked, bleeding nipples, mastitis six times, and two abbesses that constantly filled and emptied blood in her bra. She didn't feel bonded with her baby, and dreaded nursing. To make maters worse, postpartum anxiety left her terrified of something happening to him. The first six months were arduous, and ultimately, she decided to switch to formula. She cried, sobbed actually, feeling like she had done everything "right". She read all the books and saw all the doctors and lactation consultants but still couldn't feed her child how she'd hoped.
Two years later she was pregnant with her second child and was terrified of not being able to feed her baby again. She had become a doula in the interim and helped her clients with proper latch and referring to amazing IBCLC's. She was determined, felt confident about my birthing abilities and decided on a home birth. She hired a local midwife with an affordable fee and her pregnancy progressed nicely. Her midwife became concerned when she refused to take the standard glucose tolerance test but she assured her that she'd monitor her sugar levels as if she were a diabetic for a week and could reassess from there. Angela's levels were normal, she felt good, and wasn't gaining an abnormal level of weight. Around 38 weeks during a meeting with the assistant midwife, they both palpated Angela's belly and said "This baby feels really big! Wow! I'm guessing already 8+ pounds!" They suggested there may be concerns if things continued and by her 39 week appointment rolls her midwife decides she is having a hard time guessing baby's weight because Angela is a "large woman."
She was told she had to get an ultrasound to determine baby's size and they estimated the baby to be roughly 8 pounds 4 ounces. They were back in the clear for a home birth until Angela started leaking fluid and was risked out as it could have been happening for more than 48 hours. smell of amniotic fluid a few days prior to our 40 week ultrasound.
Devastated, she packed her bags and headed for the hospital but didn't feel right about it. She didn't want to be induced and didn't want to have her baby in hospital. After stopping to eat and talking with her husband more she asked her midwife if she would be okay if they tried to get things moving on their own. She would take her temperature every two hours to monitor for infection, but her provider didn't feel comfortable. After talking to a friend/doula who has had three home births herself, she agreed to support Angela in whatever she decided. Angela's husband was on board with an unassisted birth as well, saying that he had complete faith in Angela.
They decided to try some "natural" induction methods to see if they could get things moving and decided that if she wasn't in labor in 12 hours, they'd go in to the hospital. She drank castor oil, bounced on her exercise ball, meditated and walked. She was able to get some rest in between as well as eat and drink which was wonderful. Contractions were mild but regular and in the morning she showered, had breakfast and we headed over to her parents house, the house she grew up in, where they wanted their child to be born.
Later that evening, their second son arrived into his dad's arms. Angela had a stubborn placenta that almost required a transfer but, other than that, birth was fairly uncomplicated. She had no tearing and felt great, until it was time to breastfeed and it was difficult again. They reluctantly had their midwife finish out her contractual obligation to provide postpartum care and she diagnosed him with a tongue tie. They had it revised at just a couple days old which improved things dramatically and he's still nursing today.
"Childbirth and motherhood is not always like the stories you read in books or online. It's hard. We don't all birth the same or feed our babies the same and we sure as hell don't all look the same. There is so much pressure to do things the "right" way and for your body to look like you've never had it stretched to the max. Do I love my body? Most of the time no, no I don't but, I'm getting there. I've made some hard decisions in my life but I'm a bad ass. I am an advocate for my body, my children bodies and my clients bodies. I think that's my "right" way"