The lovely Jennifer Oakley with her Irish Twins Katherine (14 months) and Byron (3 months). Her first pregnancy was difficult symptomatically and she felt a little cheated in her first birth. She had wanted a midwife to attend her delivery but one was not available and she had to make choices she didn't intend to. With her second birth she went to a different facility and knowing she wanted an epidural got one as soon as she arrived at the hospital. Her birth experience with Byron was otherwise intervention free and much more in line with what she hoped it should be. Jennifer had intended to breastfeed her daughter but after 1 week decided it was too painful and has made the choice to bottle feed both of her children instead.
The lovely Lucy Allin with her youngest two daughters Delilah (2) and Ryanne (8 months). Lucy is also mom to Alexia (10), Lailah (7), son Jareth (5) and step-mother to Ean (14), Connor (8) and Collin (4). Most of Lucy's pregnancies were relatively easy physically. Her first pregnancy, she didn't have any support and she ended up delivering naturally in 13 hours with her daughter sunny side up. She very much wanted to breastfeed but quit at 2 months because she didn't have proper support. With her subsequent pregnancies, Lucy struggled with going into preterm labor requiring continual monitoring. She also suffered from severe pain and by the end of her 5th pregnancy could barely walk at all. Lucy's 2nd, 3rd, and 4th breastfeeding experiences were flawless and she nursed them all to 14 months but her youngest has been a challenge as well due to latch issues and wanting to constantly nurse. Lucy is very involved in local Roller Derby and hopes to model for her daughters her own strength so they never lose sight of themselves.
The amazing Alexis Skibinski with her sons Kason (4) and Koby (5). Alexis joined the military right after high school and when she got pregnant with her son, she was in the process of applying to West Point. She chose to become a mother over attending her dream school. She was not in a healthy relationship and became a single mother. She didn't feel very educated on her birth options or choices but turned things around with Koby thanks to the help of a midwife and the natural delivery she had dreamed of. Alexis recently reenlisted for 3 years but after having to be away from her boys for a required 1 month training she is worried about the possibility of a deployment and would like to at some point step away from her military career to be a labor and delivery nurse.
The lovely Toi Kuhn with 7 month old Alyson. Toi had a stroke in her early 20's and issues with blood clots that led to some concern while pregnant. She had to have her husband administer painful shots daily throughout her pregnancy to prevent any clotting issues. Toi hadn't made a birth plan as she wanted to just go with the flow and take things as they come, but the one thing she absolutely wanted was to see her husband's face when her baby was born. After three failed epidurals and concerns for both her and Alyson while laboring, she had to have a cesarean birth while under general anesthesia. While Toi is at peace with her birth being the very best thing for her and her baby at the time, she regrets that she didn't get to see her husbands face and doesn't recall much of the day that her daughter was born. Toi had planned to breastfeed exclusively but was never able to produce enough and has had to supplement but she proudly pumps her daughter one full bottle of milk a day and comfort nurses as much as possible.
The amazing Megan Kolisch with 4 month old Drew. Megan had a very enjoyable pregnancy and was very excited to give birth. Her water broke 1 week post dates and while she labored for 30 hours she never progressed. She had to have a cesarean which she found terrifying at the time but everything went very well and her recovery was easy. She's had to take some time to adjust to breastfeeding but is glad that she worked though the hiccups to be able to nurse her son.
The beautiful Callie Villasenor. Callie is mom to Jacob (10), Samuel (8) and Nathan (6). Callie is a former army brat who decided to join the service as well. Her husband is still active duty. Callie had healthy pregnancies, but with her first , she had a difficult emergency cesarean. Her husband was stationed elsewhere, waiting to deploy, and she didn't really have anyone to support her. Her mother had planned on attending her birth but didn't make it in time and Callie had to deliver alone after failing to progress. Her husband was able to come home for a few days prior to his deployment but then she found herself once again alone. When Jacob was two months old, Callie had to leave him with her parents for some training and was then deployed for 6 months missing a large part of his infancy. She decided that her ability to be the mother she wanted to be was not compatible with her military career and began trying to get out when she was pregnant with her second son the following year. She said that once she got out she felt she was just then learning to parent for the first time even though she had two kids. Callie talked a lot about the difficulty parenting in the military from the judgement she faced from fellow soldiers while pregnant, to the pressure to immediately get back in top physical shape, to the worries of being deployed or something happening to her husband or herself, even the chance that her children could be orphaned if something happened to both of them. Because Callie was scared of delivery after her first emergency cesarean she decided to schedule her next two births as repeat cesareans and had wonderful experiences. She has been a stay at home mom for 8 years now and has also gone back to school to be an early childhood education teacher.
The phenomenal Rebecca Norlin with her 18 month old son, Skylar. She is also mother to her biological niece, Jessica (16). Rebecca was raised in a fundamentalist religious cult and suffered a great deal of abuse, both physical, verbal and psychologically through her upbringing as well as in her first marriage. Rebecca chose to leave her community and find freedom herself. In a very short time, Rebecca has sought counseling to help address the issues and pain left behind from her former life and has discovered who she really is. Rebecca is now a feminist, a doula, a mother. She oozes love and support and serenity for herself and women in general. She tried for a long time to get pregnant and feels that it's a blessing she never conceived with her former husband. She and her new husband discovered that she had been dealing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and sought treatment. Their doctor prescribed Metformin and while she didn't find out until months later, she ended up conceiving her son during her first week of treatment. Rebecca dealt with her PCOS and worries of gestational diabetes throughout her pregnancy, but really enjoyed finally being pregnant with the child she had wanted for so long. Rebecca works as a birth assistant and doula and had only seen birth center and home births, so having to deliver in a hospital setting due to her high risk status was difficult. She was hospitalized at 36 weeks due to severe edema, high blood pressure, preeclampsia and bleeding concerns and ended up being induced. She didn't want to have an epidural for any reason but after labor stalled decided to consent and continued to progress. Skylar wasn't descending properly, in part due to pelvic trauma that Rebecca endured during her marriage and had to be delivered with the assistance of forceps. Rebecca had every intention of breastfeeding Skylar but dealt with more complications and ended up making her own formula for him instead and was able to forge a comfort nursing bond with him as well.
The radiant Faith Bomar, mother to Emma Rose Kathleen (10), Hazel Ellen Kimberly (8), Lyla Iris Lee (5) and Isaiah Anthony (2). Faith is an Army wife who's husband is still active duty. She says that she had an insta-family, in that she got married and had her first child when she was very young and while she and her husband were getting to know one another, so she has grown as a woman and come into her own throughout her journey to motherhood. Faith's first three children were born in hospital and she has gone post dates with all of her children. She says that her first birth had many decisions made out of fear but through her subsequent births she was able to let go of that and her son was born into love and light with no fear at all. Isaiah was born at home into her husbands hands and then right to her chest. Faith very much credits her Army sisters and fellow mothers for supporting her as a woman and mother.
The amazing Meghan Diehl with her 2 year old daughter, Eisley. She is also 36 weeks pregnant with her son August and is birth mom to Hannah (10). Meghan got pregnant for the first time at 17 and decided to place her daughter for an open adoption. She is grateful that she was able to make that decision and still keeps in touch with Hannah and her family. Megan's pregnancies have all been challenging, with severe Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) until about 25 weeks and then Symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) for the remainder of her pregnancy. While laboring with and delivering her first daughter, Meghan felt very taken advantage of. She said no one wants to explain options to a 17 year old and ended up delivering very quickly without pain relief which required an episiotomy and tearing. Her second delivery was her healing experience and very much the birth she had desired and she hopes that August's birth is seamless.
The beautiful Elaine Becker with Justus (8), Sam (3) and Nora (21 months). Elaine had very healthy, uneventful pregnancies with all three of her children but her births were very different. Justus was born in hospital with lots of interventions. Elaine says that one intervention led to another and all in all her birth experience with him was very traumatic. She suffered from postpartum depression for several years after he was born, and didn't think she wanted any other children. It wasn't until Elaine started learning about her own birth and options that she became a self described "birth junkie" and decided she wanted more children. Sam was born at a free standing birth center and the whole experience was very empowering for her. She got pregnant with Nora soon after and decided she wanted to give birth to her at home. She says the entire experience was so normal and uneventful it didn't feel like anything remarkable had even happened, she just had a new tiny person in her bedroom with her. Elaine wasn't able to have a successful breastfeeding relationship with Justus but was able to tandem nurse Sam and Nora.