Updated: Apr 6, 2019
Many women, all over the world, have invested time, lots of time to be exact, hours upon hours of reading, daily prayers, avoidance of harmful things, even physically preparing their bodies to some degree. All worthy efforts. Then the day finally arrives in which you hear the words, “Congratulations you are pregnant” or you see that “+ symbol“ and it sinks in, “We did it!“ Together, we have created life! A sigh of relief for women who have adamantly tried. You recall with great accuracy that feeling which consumed you, that moment when you learned, “I‘m going to be a Mother!” During a routine anatomy scan week 21, the couple learned something was wrong with their baby’s heart. To say they were anxious was an underestatement.
Fewer women, pay even more close attention to proper nutrition and daily exercise as it applies to pregnancy and reproduction and even a small percentage of women take an even more watchful eye, including avoidance of nearly all over the counter meds, not just prescription medication and go above and beyond still to avoid preservatives, additives, caffeine, excess sugar, pesticides, etc..
As a chiropractor, Emily knew she desired an OBGYN / CertIfied Nurse Midwife practice, as her birth plan aligned best to their model of care. Specifically, a provider who would support her wishes of more hands off care, a happier blend of normality, coupled with only medically necessary interventions. It’s what I like to call, Symbiotic Birth.
Week 22, arrived they were seen by a specialist, Dr. Rosmond.
Week 23, they saw the cardiologist. Their first born was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot.
Pregnancy is not always 9 months of rainbows & puppydog tails. Sometimes, couples are heavy-hearted and must make tough parenting decisions long before baby is born. Emily combated the bad news with a newfound strength. Cory continued support of her birth plans, despite the uncertainty of how it would play out and assured her she could rely on him during labor. The unexpected news of baby’s heart defect seemed to further fuel that flame of desire of wanting to bring their baby safely into the world with as few interventions as possible. I could not be more proud of this power couple!
Many of us have watched a gender reveal video or two and can quickly relate to the overwhelming excitement on the faces of expecting parents. However, you could see how many of those same smiling faces when faced with one of the vast unknowns of pregnancy, a complication for mom or baby, would just allow their labor and birth plans to simply fade away.
Furthermore, for some, what is typically meant to be just a simple routine screening or intervention, such as AFP test or often ultrasound can reveal unexpected results, even false positives of which women and men are not always prepared for. Yet, they do happen and happen way more than some would like to acknowledge. Parenting is hard work! That will never change. Of course, we need to properly educate and prepare our bodies (eat well and exercise), but maybe even more so, prepare our hearts and minds to weather such news, should it happen to us.
This couple’s journey is a true example of the effectiveness of what Dr. Robert A. Bradley explained in his book, Husband Coached Childbirth. It’s more than just physically relaxing through a contraction. Women must learn to be emotionally, mentally and physically relaxed to experience a natural birth with ease.
As in the story of baby Parham. Her journey here was one of joy beyond belief, coupled with great anxiety and some sleepless nights. It’s funny how the universe has a way of preparing us to become parents long before a baby is born. Emily, a trained and highly educated chiropractor had excelled in her preparation for the day she would hear those amazing words, “YOU are having a BABY!” She could not have been happier! Little did she know, that despite her efforts to prepare her body and do all the right things leading up to pregnancy would be met with circumstances out of her control that would challenge her emotionally and mentally. There is a feeling of unjust adversity that comes rushing in like a tidal wave and in that moment the happiness and JOY quickly gets consumed with anxiety and stress of the unknown as if a tsunami is upon us leaving us speechless and feeling as if we can’t even take a deep breath. It is in that moment, we must pause and keep it simple, “let’s get through today one deep breath at a time.“ That we do have control of.
Emily knew how important it was to simply breathe, because she had been attending Your Birth Helper events long before her own pregnancy. So, this birth story illustrates how to grow stronger along with your baby, to move forward, to reconnect with your spouse after challenging news and to pause, recenter and “JUST BREATH!”
She pressed forward daily after hearing the news, “Your Baby has a heart defect.” You see it didn’t stop there, she also heard things like, “You may have to be induced...” and various other statements that for most would weigh very negatively upon their mindset. There was a heaviness that came upon her. She immediately saw her dreams of natural birth going out the window. This wasn’t just something she wanted, her natural birth was supposed to happen. It’s how she lives her life, “drug-free,” as nature intended, saving medical interventions for those who truly need them. Now, she and their baby were subject to additional maternal fetal medicine appointments & appointments to a cardiologist, not only challenging their time, but also their pocketbook. Both left feeling, “this can‘t be happening, not to us and certainly not our baby.“ We did everything right! Yes, some couples realize rather suddenly that parenting is extremely hard long before baby arrives. No, it’s not fair, but it is Mother Nature in all her unpredictability.
Emily is also known as Dr. Emily Parham of Granite City Chiropractic and it’s hard to be out of the office when clients are also relying on your care. Not only did she stay positive and become overly knowledgeable of their babies medical condition, she found her smile again.
She and her husband Cory, began training in The Bradley Method (r) the best known childbirth educational prep for preparing for drug-free, low intervention natural birth. She simply wasn’t throwing her dreams and wishes of how she envisioned her first baby’s happy “BIRTH” day out the window.
She continued to focus on what they had control over: good nutrition, exercise, weekly childbirth classes and focusing on her target birth experience. When Emily asked if I would be her doula it went like this, “hey Pam my due date is December, 25th, do you work Christmas day?“ To which I replied, “ Do you know how few actually have a baby on their due date?” Turns out, I would be right. There was no baby on Christmas Day, (most healthy moms carry 8 days overdue).
Her 39th week appointment had arrived and we were to meet after for lunch to discuss natural induction methods. When Emily arrived she began quietly sobbing over chips and salsa. She shared there was new concern over baby’s health. The words “less than 1%” had her unnerved and facing medical induction.
I had advised her to go ahead and have her cry. To get it all out, because we had work to do. The best use of time is to help get yourself into labor. Waste no time - every minute counts! We created a strategic game plan over a nutritious lunch at Aqua Linda in Athens, Ga. The week of Christmas was upon us and the last thing Emily needed was another hurdle to jump. She shared she agreed to come in on Wednesday for induction, as she had patients of her own to see that night and the next day in her own office. We had devised a plan in which she would try a membrane sweep (which she was not thrilled about). I explained how to use interventions in her best interest to do everything she could to avoid chemical induction, yet still accomplish as much of her birth plans, as possible. She would need some sort of cervical action to utilize Foley / Cooks device, also a non-chemical form of induction. Emily did not want to be subject to constant monitoring or pitocin if all possible. We discussed how dad could help prep cervix, how upright positions and walking could lower head and save intervention like amniotomy for last resort efforts, to maintain equalization of pressure for baby’s safety. All valid options of which would still help her stay on track for her target birth preferences. Also, if weighing benefits and risks, all less invasive choices. It was a great recipe and soon contractions were steady and progressing. (Special thanks to Hillary for stripping her membranes, December 18, 2018). A total of 8 hours of labor, the first 3 at home and the last 5 hours played out in the hospital and it sure wasn’t long till Cory was texting for suggestions and to head over. I walked into what appeared to me as an overwhelming urge to bear down mixed with fighting push phase. It’s quite a confusing time. I reminded Emily of her job and how to create an effective push.
Let’s just say she #Nailedit !!!!!!!!!
I chose The Parham’s for our 2018 Birth Story of the Year for Georgia, because despite all the road blocks that confronted them, they continued to educate, train and rose to every occasion, despite a few unconsolable tears drops along the way. Sometimes, we just need a little cry, a deep cleansing breath and to put one foot in front of the other each day.
With the final push, the room was filled with celebration, minutes later, a little nervousness crept in as baby left moms arms to undergo an important exam of her own.
Dad accompanied baby and nurse Jessica and I, tended to mom. Unfortunately, Nikki missed the birth (Emily didn’t waste any time pushing her baby out quickly), but arrived just in time for helping me spoil mom with a foot massage and refreshing orange juice after birth.
In the popular holiday movie, How the Grinch stole Christmas, the classic movie line reads... “his heart grew three times its size that day”... I think the same happened to the Parham family ❤️ now all together, their hearts were made stronger!
Your Birth Helper is happy to welcome little Miss Adaline 🌹 Rose who came wrapped in a different kind of bow 🎁 6lb 4oz 19.5inches. Born at 11:54pm on 12/19/18 and was home just in time for Christmas on the farm!