What can I say about these two? If you have the pleasure of knowing Jon and Marissa Spangler, you are well entertained and blessed. These two exude love for one another and for their Savior Jesus Christ. Whether you are a person of faith or not, these two could win you over and within minutes you would feel as if you had known them forever. I was privileged to have them in my childbirth class. Marissa was like a lot of women. Her mindset was, I'm not sure if he will come to class or not. Therefore, if I get him here, it needs to be a good class." I just laughed quietly and thought to myself, I think they are ALL good and important. More specifically, what she was referring to was, the logistics and time it would take from their busy schedules to train with me on the farm. My barn house classroom, where I teach expectant couples is located northeast of Athens, Ga. Marissa knew it would be challenging to get Jon to class, simply because, it was over an hour drive out to the country. I simply replied, "whatever you have to do just get him here. I'll do the rest."
Marissa was very brave and dedicated to train in The Bradley Method® despite the long drive and arriving for her first class alone. I took her under my motherly doula wings and advised her she was having the wrong conversation with her man. I asked, "Did you get pregnant by yourself?" She replied, "No." I simply again encouraged her to trust me and get him here. I promised if she did, he would come back. I pondered, why would she give him a pass when it comes to learning how to get the baby out of her body? And, what do you know class three rolled around and the two once again became one. This time, united for a new purpose. Jon would also become educated in the natural process. Not just for Marissa's sake, but also for his. How could he possibly support her, if he had no idea what his role was in all this.
Some call women lucky if their husband's attend childbirth education classes with them. A common phrase is called, "EXPECTING." I call it, "EXPECTED." It should be expected your spouse/ partner accompanies mom as she educates and trains for labor/ birth. Together, as in team. How wonderful for a woman to be able to say... my partner was there for me every step of the way and I couldn't have done this without that support!
Jon was a natural himself. Shown here classmates compete against the girls. Their task was to masters the coach cards, involving stages of labor and how the coach can help during each phase. He only shrugged his shoulders a few times...lol.
New mom Marissa shared:
The reason I resonate with The Bradley Method ® twelve week training
- I’m the type of person that will research everything I can before doing anything so I can get the best possible outcome. After looking into the Bradley Method®, I knew it was the best training to get to be best prepared for labor and delivery. I don’t want to just rely on quick fixes that mask problems, so the fact that the Bradley method took so many natural aspects into account in order to prepare my body, I knew it was the best!
It is important that couples understand the how and from where babies come out and how to understand their pregnant wives. How to help her stay nutritionally sound, prepare her body physically, prepare her mind mentally and emotionally prepare for what is known as the hardest work a woman will ever do. Some women have challenges that present during pregnancy, some during labor and others during breastfeeding or postpartum. The goal would be for moms and dads to have a basic working knowledge of each and how to apply what they have learned to give them the best chances of accomplishing their individual birthing goals.
Marissa and Jon shares why they decided to hire a doula to support them during their hospital birth:
- Jon? jk lol well I originally wanted a doula, because I know I can be a VERY expressive person and my husband is a words of affirmation person. If I’m not doing well, he will take it personally, so I knew I needed someone else there to help guide our experience and it could be the best experience for my husband as well. I had no idea what it would be like and ended up being SO much better than I had any idea it could be!
What part of your experience with Dr Pohl and hospital staff did you appreciate the most?
- I love that Dr Pohl will do whatever he has to do to make sure you won’t need a cesarean, if it can be avoided. He also places high value on taking care of your body naturally without medicine when possible. Our bodies can do amazing things, and if we just provide them with the right things they need, we can avoid so many unnecessary medications and procedures. He was also right on board with that, as well as being respectful of my wishes for the labor, without being pushy If he has an opposing view.
For Marissa, she was hoping to attempt a natural birth, or at least, have as few medical interventions as possible in the process. And, she definitely wanted to avoid cesarean surgery. Earlier in her pregnancy, Marissa was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. She was able to manage her sugar intake successfully avoiding insulin with nutrition and exercise. Many providers will suggest a 38 or 39 week induction for women diagnosed with gestational diabetes, depending on how mom is managing her sugar or insulin levels.
Marissa shared the following personal tips:
What did you guys find effective to help treat symptoms etc.?
- I didn’t have many too symptoms other than tingly arms and hands and heartburn, and noticed diet played a huge role in heartburn. I also had gestational diabetes, but again was diet controlled. One thing, I definitely suggest is getting a chiropractor certified in the Webster technique. First off, she immediately took away the tingly/numb feeling in my arms and hands (which i was told by nurses that it was just carpal tunnel and there was nothing i could do about it). Any time my hips were hurting or anything, my chiropractor helped tremendously! She even adjusted me for heartburn and I noticed a massive change in that too.
What were your initial thoughts regarding being overdue and suggested induction?
- we actually had to get induced a week early. My hopes were that I could naturally induce myself, but with having symptoms of cholestasis starting at 38 weeks and high blood pressure, Dr Pohl suggested the risk was not worth waiting another week to get the results of my blood test to find out if I definitely had cholestasis, and suggested an induction. I was immediately so sad I couldn’t let my body do this naturally and was mainly just concerned that my body would go through even more stress than needed now not being able to labor at home anymore and just wanted to make sure the baby would be ok.
How did you feel about the game plan established with me to help get you prep for labor naturally: walking hills, etc. and how did it make you feel while walking to begin to notice contractions?
- I was looking forward to it but never go to. Wish we had!
Jon ended up fighting a cold and Marissa, herself, hadn't been sleeping well herself. Then an unusual and quite unpleasant itching had began to appear. Due to a combination circumstances, they decision was made during her routine 39 week appointment to send her to the hospital for immediate induction. She hadn't slept, her obstetrician, Dr. Joseph Pohl, may have suspected a big baby due to gestational diabetes. There was also the concern of her liver.
When her labor began to pick up in a more solid contraction pattern, Jon and Marissa were texting for Doula help to come on. The Pitocin was creating powerful contractions and fears began to creep in. Jon was by his wife's side the entire time, coaching her all the way. He assisted Marissa with ease, reaching out often during labor, as needed, with updates, questions and concerns during her induction and calling us to join them during active labor.
Marissa decided the most challenging part of her labor, etc. was,
- definitely the induction. For 12 hours straight, I had contractions lasting a minute long with only a minute break between each one...for 12 hours straight! There was no break. Going into this, I told myself not to stress, because I would get breaks between contractions, but the use of Cervadil to prep my cervix, definitely did not allow for that. After going 12 hours and knowing I still had to endure pitocin, and Dr. Pohl also suggested an amniotomy to progress my labor (breaking my water bag -which I agreed to try), for me, I knew at that point, I had to cave in and get the epidural in hopes to grant me some relief and not stress myself or baby throughout the remainder of my labor.
My teammate, Doula Nikki Reeves, arrived first to offer support. Marissa had little sleep from her all night hospital stay, but had spent the morning and afternoon hours working hard by assuming a variety of labor positions. However, you can tell from this photo, her all time favorite was side lie with the peanut ball enjoying those warm blankets! Special thanks to the nurses for spoiling her!
Now, in Marissa's defense Induction changes everything. What may have been a manageable experience with her body producing spontaneous contractions, has now been replaced with man-made "Cervadil and Pitocin Contractions." She had her work cut out for her and despite her best efforts, even with hands on assistance, she couldn't seem to get herself into a relaxed enough state for her cervix to make positive changes. They then began exploring their options. Since they formerly tried utilizing Pitocin alone, her doctor suggested trying amniotomy to progress labor, her next step would be to try an epidural and see if it could help her cervix make the needed changes to give birth vaginally.
The most exciting part, Marissa recalled,
~was when I was told I must be in transition (I was starting to get cold), because then I knew our baby would be coming soon!
A few hours later, it was time to push.
Marissa used the classic position for push phase as Jon, Nikki and I, helped support her legs. She pushed like a Champ! Shortly thereafter, the baby began to make his decent.
First time moms on average will push between 1-2 hours and sometimes depending on how dense the epidural is and often can be 3-4 hours or more. Pushing times, in general for a first baby, vary greatly, not just from woman to woman, but also unmedicated or medicated. Also, the head position, for example, posterior presentation or asynclitic head positions and difficulty with head molding also play a factor in the time it takes to give birth. With her final push, Dr. Pohl, gently helps guide the baby out.
Did you know the average umbilical cord is approximately 21 inches long? It contains two arteries and one vein. It transports blood, oxygen, nutrients and waste- none of which mix. Our creator was something and judging from the size of this little fellow's cord, Marissa fed him real well in utero. Good job Mom!
I do believe God and the universe in general, has a way of bringing couples together for a variety of reasons. Divine appointments as I like to call them. Jon openly declared, he is a product of the King. And, despite his former troubled life, in which he struggled with drug addiction, he had since been transformed. Marissa was also very transparent, sharing she had experienced multiple abortions in her youth. The couple desired to personally speak openly from their hearts, to readers of their birth story.
Having had 3 abortions before ever turning 18, I had to kind of shut it off from my mind as my coping mechanism and pretend everything was ok for years. But, when it finally came to the time that I wanted to have children with my husband, there was this thought deep inside me that thought I didn’t deserve it. Even though I’m great with children, how could I be trusted now, if I valued life so little before. There were also the thoughts that maybe, I would be punished for my decisions and I placed it under the blanket of “reaping what I had sowed” and told myself my reproductive organs were no longer going to do what they were designed to do. Here I was finally a grown Christian, yet I had these thoughts that went against the foundation of my faith in redemption. I remember when God actually told me I was pregnant. I was worshipping to “Here Again” by Elevation Worship with the staff at my church, and one of our pastors started to encourage us to prophesy over the situations in our lives like Ezekiel prophesied over the dry bones to come to life in Ezekiel 37. The moment I heard God tell me I was pregnant with a little boy, I couldn’t help but weep. All the years of holding back the tears and belief in the possibility of having children, because of my actions in my youth, suddenly came gushing out of me. I realized it was never about me, I don’t need to go back to the beginning of where I went wrong and I didn’t need to worry about tomorrow. God was with me in the middle. And even when I may have wanted to beat myself up, because of my thoughts, God meets us no matter where we are! He’s bigger than our thoughts and our actions, and he’s willing to prove you wrong, even when your faith is lacking, just to pour his love out on you. Because, while you may think you’re not deserving, HE DOES! Marissa Spangler
I asked Jon if he would be willing to speak to other expectant fathers who may have mixed emotions about becoming a father. A young man who may be struggling, considering how a baby entering the world would affect his life? Maybe, an older man who has longed to become a Father, who has a child already, but simply does't know how? A young man who maybe struggling with addiction, job loss or homelessness? Well, you guys are in good hands, Jon has some words to share with you below from his own personal trials, which led him to this day of celebrating his first born son's happy "BIRTH"day!
To the fellow fathers to be: I too went thru self-questions of “Am I going to be a good father? Am I really cut out for this? I don’t want my son to go thru what I went thru, how can I prevent that? What can I do to better myself before my life changes FOREVER?”
We each have days, weeks, months or (if your like me)... YEARS, of decision making we regret. But the fact of the matter is there is NO going back. All you can do is pick yourself up off the floor and start moving in the right direction.
In my personal journey, I tried a lot of different routes that were presented as “the only way that works.” But what was “right” for someone else doesn’t mean it’s really right, like absolutely, DIVINELY RIGHT. Over time I began to realize that just because someone says it’s “right,” it doesn’t really mean it is. It’s simply someone’s opinion from there experience.
I grew up going to church, but never felt connected. I made a lot of dumb decisions and embarrassed my family over and over again. I was hurting and I didn’t care. I wanted to make them happy but I never felt adequate. So after years and years of trying to measure up to others qualifications, not being able to do so and choosing drugs to escape the pain, depression set in at a whole new level and I contemplated suicide. My father had just died and my last words to him were of disrespect. I was stuck in jail and I had no where to go, no way of escaping the torment in my heart and my head. Drugs weren’t available and I had to face my demons or give into their luring. At that breaking point I cried out in agony for it to end. I heard a still small voice inside me say “pick up your Bible.”
Begrudgingly, still very confused, I picked it up and flipped it open. It opened to Romans chapter 8. I didn’t make it past verse 1. I was stuck. God wanted me to get this. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Romans 8:1 ESV
In that moment, weeping on the floor, it began to sink in... The reason I was experiencing great loss and depression is because I was deciding to follow my flesh. The very next day I grabbed some Ramen noodle cups (styrofoam), ripped them up into little pieces and put them into one Ramen cup. I placed a wet piece of paper on the floor and POPPED the light switch (prisoners way of making fire for cigarettes etc), I lit the cup of styrofoam and placed a paper lunch bag over top of it. The SOOT that collected was scraped off with a rubber spoon and placed into a cup with shampoo. I now had ink!
Then I grabbed a staple out of a recent letter received by my bunk mate, and sharpened it and stuck it in the end of my rubber pencil. Then I began to TATTOO “ROMANS 8:1” on my left forearm. I decided I would NEVER forget I was free as long as I walked by the Spirit. This would remind me every single day.
I felt alive! I kept reading the Word and planned on putting Jeremiah 29:11 on my right forearm, but by God’s favor and grace I was released a year EARLY within 2 weeks of making that decision.
All that to say this: we’re never gonna get it ALL right. We’re not designed to. But there comes a point when you know in your heart of hearts that something isn’t “right,” and we wonder if there’s really something to this Jesus thing. Well I pray my testimony encourages you to consider him again. I now am the proud father of an incredible son, the husband to a beautiful wife, the owner of a thriving construction company, a family member to a loving church and a future pastor of my very own flock. God’s made us for a purpose and a destiny. This child you’re about to conceive is a MAJOR part of it. Check out Matthew 6:33, then treasure your time with your pregnant wife, your son or daughter who’s on the way, do your part and you’ll see God move on your behalf.
Whatever it is you’re going thru, He is the ONLY way, He is the ONLY truth, and the ONLY life. I’d be happy to chat, share, listen or discuss. DM Pam and she’ll have me contact you directly.
Love and peace,
Marissa's tips for readers:
I would suggest to other couples who may become overdue or are facing medical interventions/ induction, etc....
- I was not personally overdue, but if moms should be facing anything I was facing, I would say just remember you always want to put the baby’s best interest first before your convictions. Sometimes plans need to change, and if it means a healthy baby in the end, then it’s worth it.
- definitely do both the Bradley Method® 12 segment course and hire a competent doula! Don't cheat yourself out of proper training. Both are so worth it and I can’t imagine having not done both of those things. Plus, I also highly recommend Dr. Pohl for anyone in the Gwinnett area and Dr. Laura Russo in Suwanee, for quality chiropractic care for anyone in that area.
Why would you recommend YBH or Your Birth Helper team to assist you in labor?
- I felt so much more at ease knowing how much experience Pamela has and trusted her opinion in helping with various things. My husband and I both felt like we were in excellent hands with YBH as an addition to our team during delivery. Also, my mother has 5 children and now 9 grandchildren and even she expressed she will now forever suggest every female she know get a doula after seeing how well everything went with YBH.
We are so PROUD of you Jon & Marissa! You both transformed your young lives through your faith and you allowed yourselves to be molded into the power couple you are today. Thank you both for being so transparent in sharing your stories. My desire is our YBH Blog readers all over the world can find HOPE in your transformation story, no matter their personal trials. Many young and old, who have experienced similar struggles, also need to release the past so, they too may be restored. You two educated yourself in the birth process. You, Jon trained to best support Marissa, as her husband coach and now you can add, great "LABOR COACH" to your resume and testimony. Marissa, I am so happy you decided to listen when God shared, YOU ARE worthy and no doubt, you will and already are worthy of the title of, great "MOTHER!" Thank you for choosing Your Birth Helper & Team to help you and Marissa plan and execute your happy "BIRTH" day! You began as students, but you end as FAMILY!
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