The beautiful Caroline Standifer and 2 year old, Soraya Jade. She developed pre-eclampsia and delivered at 32 weeks. Soraya spent 3.5 weeks in the NICU before coming home. Caroline struggled to breastfeed and pumped for Soraya while she was in the hospital and finally taught her to latch but had to go back to work and wasn't able to continue. She is currently separated with the intent to divorce and is greatly struggling with how to move on with life as a single mom but is a strong and dedicated mother.
The amazing Jessica Isreal with her son Weslee (8), Zoey (4 mo) and her mother, Linda. Linda is the mother to Jessica (28), Chaz (23), and twins Travis and Trenton, who were lost in utero and would be 5 today. Jessica has a form of Muscular Dystrophy and Scoliosis that made her pregnancies very difficult physically. Weslee was born not breathing and grey, he had a very short cord that was wrapped around his neck multiple times and had to be resuscitated but fully recovered. Zoey's birth was far less traumatic and both ladies mentioned that it is these two children that give their lives the most fulfillment.
The phenomenal Stavena Lori Foster with her youngest of 4, Sophia (2). Stavena is also mama to Olivia (20), Garrett (19) and Abigaile (12). Stavena had a relatively healthy pregnancy with her first, she never went into labor and had to be induced. After just 8 hours Olivia was born. Garrett's pregnancy was a little more complicated and near term, Stavena's water started leaking. Doctors wouldn't listen to her that anything was wrong and Garrett was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia rendering him blind. He also suffered brain damage during his delivery resulting in life long special needs. Abigaile's pregnancy was much better and although she was another induction came very fast.
Stavena has battled bulimia her whole life and suffered through an very abusive relationship. Her life was at risk due to the abuse and she lost custody of Abigaile. She even attempted suicide multiple times due to severe depression but Stavena credits Sophia for saving her life. It was learning that she was pregnant with her that caused her to stop the abuse. She went off her meds for depression, stopped shock treatments and got her bulimia under control. Stavena's most recent pregnancy was slightly more difficult due to her age but she refused to be treated as high risk due to her "advanced maternal age" or "old uterus". She went into labor naturally this time and progressed very quickly at home. Sophia had to be born via emergency cesarean due to distress but was completely healthy. Stavena has completely changed her parenting methods and is grateful that her life has been so changed through Sophia.
The beautiful Sarah Wallus Hancock with Randolph (almost 5) and Archer (19 months). Sarah has always identified as a feminist and knew she wanted to be a mother. She expected to go back to work once she had children but has found her activism shift towards motherhood and her children. Sarah's initial birth experience was incredibly traumatic. She had a healthy pregnancy and had hoped for a natural hospital birth. She labored in the hospital for two 48 hour stretches with a 12 hour break at home in between. While she was able to have a successful vaginal birth she was disrespected at every turn and had a large amount of physical and emotional feeling to do. Sarah's second pregnancy was lost to a miscarriage in her first trimester. She returned to the same hospital Randolph was born due to bleeding, was treated by multiple people insensitive to her circumstance and ultimately sent home. She ended up laboring and delivering her tiny baby at home. Sarah's pregnancy with Archer went beautifully and she did a lot of contemplation and research to determine how and where to give birth. She wasn't comfortable planning a home birth due to her history and pushed for a better experience in hospital. She woke up laboring, knowing it was time to have her baby. She labored at home and called her doula to join her. Very quickly she had dilated to 9.5cms. They discussed rushing to the hospital and Sarah decided she did not want to leave. Baby Archer was born in the hallway at their home. After 30 minutes of snuggling and nursing they went to the hospital to make sure everyone was okay. Sarah says the staff was all congratulatory and kind. Her most recent birth was healing and Sarah hopes to have any future children at home.
The gorgeous Cassie Harrison with baby Liam (10.5 months). Cassie and her husband spent 5 years trying to conceive. It finally happened when they relaxed their attempts. Cassie is a yoga instructor and taught right up until the week before Liam arrived. He came just a couple days early and Cassie had a very short labor for a first time mom, only 11-12 hours. She experienced some tearing and had to have 50 stitches. She has undergone physical therapy to help her heal her perineum and deal with the scar tissue. Cassie spoke at length at how grateful she is to have been made a mother and have Liam here with her.
The lovely Kleopatra Matsantonis with her youngest two, Athena (3) and Leo (3 months). Her eldest son is Elijah (4 - not pictured). Kleo was born in Athens and currently lives in St. Louis. She had healthy enjoyable pregnancies and her first two were natural hospital births with the help of The Bradley Method. Her youngest was born at home with a midwife. Kleo has breastfed all of children but says that they were all very different experiences. Her first was a struggle, Athena was her easiest and while Leo had issues at first is nursing strong today. Kleopatra is also a Bradley Instructor and Certified Breastfeeding Counselor.
The beautiful Missy Burton with her 3 week old baby Keith. Missy had a very healthy pregnancy and planned homebirth. She only labored for 10-12 hours and Keith was born in the water. Missy says her labor was much easier than she expected, it is breastfeeding that has proven more difficult. Keith had a tongue and lip tie that were clipped but they have continued to struggle through latch issues. She says that things are continually getting easier and she is happy she has stuck with it. Missy chose to participate in the project to help promote self love and acceptance.
The amazing Megan Romer and 9 month old Natalie. Megan's mother passed away 2 years before Natalie was born and not having her advice and experience to fall back on, she used her friends experience and her research to determine the birth experience she wanted. She had a very healthy pregnancy and decided to go with hospital based midwives and a doula for a natural birth. She labored for over 24 hours in and out of water before deciding on an epidural so she could get some rest. She had a pitocin drip and labor stalled out a bit. She pushed for two hours before Natalie was born at an even 8 lbs.
The gorgeous Kristin Thorgren and Rex (2). Kristin is also mama to Anakin (7). Kristin became pregnant with her first son when her partner was in a touring band and away for most of her pregnancy. She had to be induced at 38 weeks due to high blood pressure. Kristin was in nursing school when she conceived her second son. He was born at via emergency cesarean at 28 weeks weighing just under 2 lbs due again to high blood pressure and HELLP syndrome. Kristin's last week of pregnancy she gained 10lbs a day due to fluids and swelling. Her liver and kidneys took a big hit and she feels she really gave her body to her last pregnancy. Rex has a 60 day NICU stay. Kristin touched upon something many of us preemie moms feel which is that our bodies failed us and our babies. She said she is trying to focus on the fact that she has a healthy happy boy today.
The amazing Mindy Keller with Rosie (5) and Finnegan (2). Mindy enjoyed being pregnant and had healthy pregnancies. When Rosie was born Mindy broke her tailbone and tore very badly requiring surgery postpartum. She went into preterm labor with Finnegan and had to be put on medication to stop contractions. He was born at 38 weeks and Mindy re-fractured her tailbone during delivery.