The beautiful Bryn Huntpalmer, Adelaide (4) and Darwin (2).
Bryn and her husband conceived just after they started talking about having babies while in Grad School. Getting pregnant that month worked well for them and if it didn't happen then they'd wait another year. Much to their surprise she got pregnant right away and her pregnancy went well. They decided to have a home birth and while they were very excited, many of their friends and family were not. They had a lot of negative things to say and almost seemed to wish that something would go poorly so she'd have to go to hospital. They eventually just stopped telling people their plans and moved forward with them anyway.
Her experience with her midwife was great and she ended up carrying 16 days post dates. Bryn was scheduled to go into the doctor for induction the day she went into labor after taking lots of castor oil. Things progressed very slowly and after a full day of labor was only 5cms dilated. She tried to rest through the night but was up every 15 minutes for contractions with her husband putting pressure on her back. She says it was such a blur but also a very formative point in their relationship. They got through it but in the morning things hadn't really progressed. The baby was posterior and her midwife decided to break her water. That got things going and soon her contractions were right on top of one another. She started to push early that afternoon and her daughter was born about an hour later. She had a cervical lip her midwife had to help move and needed to be coached through pushing as she found it to be very difficult - not knowing how or when to do it.
Adelaide was born without complication but when she went to push out her placenta a huge gush of blood came out instead. Her midwife had to to tug the cord to get her placenta out and while it looked complete she kept bleeding. Her midwife had to then reach in and manually scrape the walls of her uterus to make sure all of her placenta had been removed. The process was incredibly painful for Bryn but after a shot of Pitocin the bleeding subsided. She was very weak afterwards, unable to go to the bathroom, stand up or take a shower for some time.
Recovery was much more difficult than she had expected and breastfeeding didn't come easily either. When her midwife was helping they did well but on her own she couldn't get it right. Bryn had a moment where she reached out to a local La Leche Leader for help, but when she couldn't come right away, burst into tears. Because of this, she always recommends that women who plan to breastfeed line up help in advance rather than waiting until they're in the throes of it.
Bryn discovered she was unexpectedly pregnant with Darwin when Adelaide was only 9 months old. She hadn't gotten a period yet and they had been being careful but perhaps not careful enough. They had sold all of their things and were living in an RV at the time hoping to travel the country but quickly realized she didn't to give birth in an RV or travel with two small babies. She began to have issues breastfeeding Adelaide during her pregnancy and she weaned completely at 13 months.
Darwin was also born at home, this time in Oregon. Bryn didn't feel the same emotional connection with this midwife as her first but she also felt much more prepared and experienced herself. Her husband was scheduled to take the Bar Exam just after her estimated due date and she ended up going into labor the evening he returned home from his testing about a week post dates. Darwin arrived very quickly, without complication and she was able to labor mostly on her own. Bryn found that she had a much harder time bonding with her son after he was born. She thought he looked like a stranger and didn't quite understand the place he fit into the life she'd built with her husband and daughter. She was able to be vocal about it with her husband who helped her talk through it. Breastfeeding went well initially with Darwin but she'd interviewed for a new job 3 weeks postpartum and started work when he was just 6 weeks old. It was part time but pumping was difficult and he had fully weaned at 10 months. Bryn had planned to nurse both of her children much longer and knowing she wasn't going to have any more babies, struggled emotionally with the fact she'd never nurse again.
Still, she found that her experience led her to feeling obsessed with birth, breastfeeding and motherhood. She worked as a birth photographer for a bit before she realized the on-call lifestyle didn't work so well with small children. She instead started a wonderful birth story podcast, The Birth Hour, but after walking beside her best friend, Jenna Edwards, as she found out her baby passed at 34 weeks, she found herself turned off from birth and babies entirely. She struggled with survivor's guilt and had to take a step back from her passions. She also started taking immediate steps to move closer to her friend and their support network should something tragic happen to her own family. Bryn began looking for a new job in October and was offered a great position in November. Her husband still had client business to wrap up and things to get in order so she moved in January and lived with Jenna for 6 weeks before her husband and children could join her.
She was helping her friend through her grief but also missing her children and feeling guilty for doing so. They were able to support one another through this transitional time for them both and their friendship is so much stronger because of it. They got through it, Bryn's family joined her and they now live just a couple of blocks from Jenna and her husband.
The power and the sisterhood of this movement is initially what drew Bryn towards it. On the body image side of things, she's always struggled with feeling just a little bit too fat. Once she had kids she realized how silly that was and looked back on all the times she was unhappy with her appearance to discover there was nothing wrong with her. She struggled with her stretch marks after her daughter and fell into the trap of wanting to get her body back, however, after her son was born she began to realize all of the amazing things her body has done and now hopes to continue to celebrate it.