Friday, June 10, 2016

Birth Story of Cooper Tenzyn

This week I attended a very special birth - my last birth as a doula.

I met Lynsay and Pacey in 2014, when they were pregnant with Ames. They had been referred to me through their midwife, Michele.  The connection I felt with Lyns and Pace was instant, I was honored to have been a part of their first birth and I was thrilled when I noticed an Instagram post in January of this year with the hashtag #18weeks.  I may or may not have been somewhat stalking them, wondering if they were working on baby #2 yet.

Lynsay and Pacey are so chill about things, we met to talk about the birth of their second baby and to come up with a bit of a plan, I let them know that I had some conflicts around their due date and they weren't concerned at all, we would just wing it and if it was meant to be it would be.

Lynsay's due date came and went, much like it did with Ames, so did a pretty serious heat wave. No one wants to be 40 weeks pregnant in that kind of heat but Lyns just rolled with it.  I checked in with them every day to see how they were holding up and the answer was also the same, they were great and knew they would meet this baby when baby was good and ready.

On the morning of the big day I got a text message from Pacey letting me know things were starting, mild contractions 6-8 minutes apart, and Lynsay was coasting through them.  I decided to head over sooner rather than later, just in case things got going quickly.  It took me about an hour to make my way over and when I arrived contractions had sped up, coming every 3 minutes or so and Lynsay was doing great, smiling, chatting and cracking jokes, she even had time for a bit of a snuggle with Ames while they waited for his ride. She wandered the house, holding her first born and breathing through each contraction like a boss!

Midwives Michele and Kaitlyn arrived about 20 minutes after I did, Michele did a quick exam and we started to fill the pool so Lynsay could get in and get a bit of relief from her contractions.  As usual, the water did its magic and Lynsay got into the zone, riding out each contraction as it came, taking them one at a time and completely relaxing in between. Pacey was a rock and cheered her on the entire time. Their connection, and their love for each other is a pretty cool thing to be witness to.

After a short time in the pool the decision was made to break Lynsay's water to help move things along and almost immediately after, Lynsay started to sound like she was ready to push.  Michele let Lynsay know she was ok to just trust her body and to go ahead and push if that's what she felt like she needed to do.

6 minutes later (yes you read that right, 6 minutes) Lynsay reached down and pushed her baby boy out into her own hands. It was incredible and perfect and pretty freaking awe inspiring.

It was an incredible note to end on, a truly lovely home birth, with truly amazing people.

Welcome to the world Cooper. Your life will be full of love and light.

Cooper Tenzyn 8lbs 8oz

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Thank you

21 girls and 14 boys make up the 35 births I have attended as a doula.
  • 8 were cesarean sections
  • 27 were vaginal births
  • 7 babies were born at home (2 were water births)
  • 28 babies were born in hospital
  • 20 were attended by midwives
  • 15 attended by doctors 
Every single mama was a warrior for her baby. No two births were the same. Each has their own story and each left me in awe of the process, the journey, the experience and the incredible strength of women.

I started my path as a doula in 2002, after the home birth of my son. I developed a massive crush on my midwife and was very sad when our time together came to an end. I really wanted to spend more time with her as she was pretty much the coolest person I had ever met, but having more babies just to get to hang out with her didn't seem practical. Learning how to become a doula seemed like the next best thing.  I am only half kidding about that......

I have always been fascinated by babies and pregnant bellies, drawn to them.  My experience with my midwives throughout my pregnancy and birth left me wanting to know more about normal birth, to be a part of a movement to embrace it, empower and support women, and overcome the fear of childbirth.

I took my training in 2002 and then managed to convince my girlfriend Tammy to let me attend the birth of her first child (conveniently her midwife was also my midwife - win win), and after some convincing her husband also went along with the idea.  I think back then he had a vision of some hippy dippy, voodoo magic stuff happening, crystals and chanting, the midwife and I dancing naked under the full moon. For the record, Tammy and Mike might be the least hippy/voodoo people I have ever met in my entire life.  On Oct 11, 2002, Kate Burgess was born and it was the craziest most amazing experience I had ever been a part of. I cried (sobbed) when she was born, being on that side of things blew my mind. I was hooked.

In the beginning I just took the odd client here and there, friends, friends of friends, a couple of clients a year, simply because I loved it. As my kids got older I started to take on more clients, but never really made the leap to becoming a doula full time, I guess I was never quite brave enough to give up the security of my day job and give it a real go.  Looking back, I don't think that was a bad thing, just doing a handful of births each year was enough to give me my baby fix.

There were ups and downs, marathon births that were exhausting and lightening fast births that were like something out of a movie. Birth rarely goes as planned and there were births that left me feeling like I had let the mama's down, births that scared the shit out of me and a handful of births I had taken on as a volunteer that really rocked me to my very core. I learned the hard way why midwives advised me to not work for family and friends. I never had a bad outcome and in the end there are 35 beautiful, healthy babies who are extraordinarily loved.

My journey as a doula has ended for now. I have been conflicted for a while now, between my work in government and my work as a doula and have made the decision to focus 100% on my career in government, it was not an easy decision at all but one that is the best for where I am right now in my life.

Thank you to all the families who let me in to the most intimate, personal experiences of your lives, I am so incredibly honored to have been there to witness the moments you became parents.

Thank you to the incredible midwives, nurses and doctors who taught me something new at each birth, I am in awe of all of you.

35 babies, each one forever in my heart.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Birth Story of Vivian Grace

I love it when past clients are expecting baby #2 and invite me to join the birth party!! This week was an extra special birth as Lauri’s water broke on my daughter’s birthday and she gave birth to her baby girl in the same room I had given birth in, 18 years ago.

Lauri and Mark’s first baby, Avery, was born 2 years ago after what seemed to be a week long labour. We had hoped for the sake of everyone involved (especially Lauri) that this baby would be slightly quicker. Lauri’s water broke first thing in the morning on May 31st and by noon there was still no sign of labour (hmmm this is starting to sound familiar).  Lauri kept her regularly scheduled midwife appointment and after an exam there really hadn’t been a lot of progress (things are now sounding very familiar). Lauri went on about her day and I went on with dinner plans to celebrate my girls birthday. I kept my phone close by in the hopes that I would hear from Lauri soon.

We made it to dinner, then we made it home from dinner….. Lauri must have one cozy womb because neither of her girls seemed all that interested in vacating the premises.

Around 10pm, Mark called me to let me know that Lauri was feeling crampy and things seemed to be rolling now. I started to make my way over to their place and arrived at 1040pm.  Contractions were coming about every 3 minutes and Lauri was no longer having any fun. Midwife Kaitlin arrived around 11pm and checked our momma to be. She was 4cm dilated and we made the plan to move the party to the hospital. Lauri was not enjoying her contractions at all and wanted to get an epidural. After a short but very uncomfortable car ride for Lauri we arrived at the hospital at 1130pm. Lauri was eager to get the epidural going but needed to be checked and assessed.

However, unlike her last birth, things were moving along very quickly. In 30 minutes Lauri had gone from 4cm to 8cm. With her labour moving along so smoothly there wasn’t going to time for the epidural. Not at all what Lauri wanted to hear.  She was doing so well and despite being understandably pissed, she dug in and toughed it out through her very intense contractions.  Women in labour can become very sensitive to lights, sounds and smell and our sweet momma was no exception. In this case she was very sensitive to sounds (there was a strict no talking rule) and smells……particularly my smell. After 2 shirt changes with no relief she ordered me to take off my shirt. Taking off my shirt wasn’t really an option so the midwives got me some scrubs (super cool cause I have always wanted to wear scrubs), Lauri was much happier and we were back in business.

*side note – normally people quite like the way I smell but turns out that the laundry soap I use was a no go for Lauri.

Very quickly Lauri was fully dilated and it was time to push. She was a super star and was pushing strong and in no time had pushed babies head out but once the  head was out baby got a little but hung up on a shoulder.  The midwives and nurses reacted quickly and within 3 minutes, at 12:59am on June 1st, 2016,  baby was out and with a little help from the pediatrician she was crying, pink and healthy and tucked in skin to skin with her mom.  Lauri remained calm and in control for what were likely the longest 5 minutes of her life. She was truly amazing.

After some snuggles with mom, Vivian Grace was taken to the NICU for 4 hours of observation, just to make sure she was completely healthy and by 6am she was back with her mom, nursing and happy.

Once again all the people involved were incredible, I cannot say enough good things about midwives and the nurses from LDR.  Lauri was fierce and brave despite her crazy fast labour and somewhat scary delivery, Mark was on his very best behavior and supported his wife through every moment and I was honored be part of Team Choistings the second time around.

Welcome to the world Vivian Grace!!

Vivian Grace Cheuk Kay
Born June 1, 2016 @ 12:59am 8lbs 2oz

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Birth Story of Maya Marie

I had the honor of attending the planned home birth of a friend and coworker's first baby this week and this is their story.

I have worked with Steph for about a year and a half and was honored when her and her husband asked me to be their doula.  It was pretty cool to be able to watch her baby belly grow day by day.  Steph was thrilled to be pregnant but more than a little anxious about the birth and how she would manage. Her friends and family joked that she was a bit of a drama queen and not great at handling pain but my gut told me she would be just fine when it came time.

Fast forward to the week of her “due date” (truly much more of a guess date).  Steph was cranky and frustrated to still be pregnant, her midwife appointments were a bit disappointing as nothing much seemed to be happening. We chatted lots over the phone and via text and then on Sunday, Mother’s Day it was starting to sound like things where changing, she was feeling crampy and unsettled, all great signs that baby was getting ready for the main event.  I spent Sunday evening getting things ready on my end and waiting for the call. It came around 11pm and I arrived at Steph’s house shortly after midnight.

Steph was contracting on a regular basis and coping perfectly, things weren’t that intense yet and we just kind of hung out chatting between contractions and puttering around.  Around 2am things started to pick up and the smile had officially been wiped off her face, we called Kim (her fabulous midwife) to check in and give her an update. Kim’s instructions were to carry on as we were. A couple hours later the intensity of the contractions had picked up and Steph was starting to get a little bit panicked, not sure if she could do this and not sure if she wanted to do this.  We called Kim again and she suggested getting Steph into the pool and let us know she was heading out to join in the fun.  Kim arrived and assessed Steph’s progress, assured her that things were moving along and advised to stay the course and to not get discouraged. We got Steph into the pool and very quickly she found her groove with her labour.  Being in the water had almost magical powers for Steph and she was able to handle each contraction beautifully. A couple more hours passed and at about 630am, I let Kim know it was probably time for her to come back.

Steph was in and out of the pool throughout the morning, more in than out as the pool really seemed to bring her the comfort she needed to power through her labour. She was working so hard yet seemed to calm.  Her strength and perseverance was amazing.  By 11am Steph was fully dilated and ready to start pushing.

Steph pushed with everything she had for just over 2 hours but baby was not budging. This baby was quite happy right where she was and wasn’t making any sudden movements towards the exit! After the 2 hour mark Kim made the suggestion to move the party to the hospital.  Mom and baby were both doing fine and were in no danger but it was better to be safe and an ambulance was called to make for a safe and comfy trip for Steph. 

The decision to transport to the hospital is a little bit scary but Steph and James just rolled with it. There was a flurry of activity as we packed everything up and got Steph ready go. She walked out to meet the ambulance and was whisked away.  Once they reached the hospital Steph was assessed again and we learned that baby had actually move back up and away from the exit! She was not going out on her own and the decision was made to do a c-section.  Steph showed no signs of fear, she was just ready to meet her baby girl.

They took them off to the OR and about half an hour later, Maya Marie Albrecht was born and she was pissed! A pouty mouth, a furrowed brow and an amazing set of lungs letting the world know she was not happy about her eviction!  As soon as was possible she was tucked in, skin to skin with her mom and was as happy as could be.

Steph was amazing from start to finish, no drama, tough as nails and fierce.  Her baby needed her mama to dig in and get through a long labour and that is exactly what her mama did.  James was incredible, at no point did he look like the usual deer in headlights dad to be, he was on his toes the entire time, right there for whatever Steph needed (even at the cost of almost all the hair on the backs of his legs). If how they got through labour together is any indication of how they will parent together this baby girl is one lucky kid. 

This not so little girl weighed in at 9lbs 7oz and almost 22inches long! She is gorgeous with lots of dark hair and she has completely stolen her daddy’s heart.  He told me he wasn’t prepared to be so in love with her so instantly.

Welcome to the world baby girl!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Birth Story of Sterling Emmett

Well little man, your story is very similar to your sisters (see Ori's story here). Starts off slow, very much a “hurry up and wait” situation but then almost without warning things get exciting.

Your mom and dad remain one of my favourite doula clients, I adore them both and just like with your sister, there was a lot of laughter while you mom was in labour.

I got a call from your mom on Sunday January 31st around 8pm to let me know that she thought maybe her water was leaking and then the text came in around 11pm to let me know that her water had definitely broken.  She was feeling a little bit crampy and I decided I would head over and check on things just in case they got moving quickly (I have had 2 second babies come VERY FAST and I wasn’t taking any chances).

I arrived around midnight, and shortly after your mom’s friend Alexis joined us. We all chatted, laughed, told stories, gave your mom some lovely massages and we waited for contractions to kick in……… and we waited. Around 2am it was pretty safe to say things weren’t picking up and we decided to get some rest. Morning came and went, still no labour. Your mom headed out to the doctor for a checkup in the morning and then spent a couple hours getting acupuncture in the afternoon. She was in great spirits the whole time, happy to just hang out waiting for you to get the show on the road.  I headed back over later in the evening on Feb 1st and FINALLY around 9pm we started to see some real contractions.  Your mom spent some time in the shower to help cope with the contractions. Your mom is a ROCK STAR at coping with labour, she rarely even looks uncomfortable, just quietly powers through each one. Around 11pm we made the decision to make our way to the hospital and by the time we arrived at 1145pm labour was in full swing, contractions were coming every 2 minutes and your mom wasn’t smiling much at all anymore.

Things were very busy at the hospital and we had to spend a few minutes pacing the hall waiting for a deliver room to be ready for us.  It was a full house and the only room that was ready to go was one of the assessment rooms, not ideal but it had everything we needed.  The nurse came in to see how your mom was doing and shortly after the resident doctor on call came in.  He wasn’t the most confident doctor in the world and seemed a little unsure of what to do but he did his best and with the help of the amazing nurse, checked everything out and determined that at 1230pm your mom was “about 4cm dilated”. There is some debate on how accurate that guess was…….

We got your mom up and back into the shower but the water wasn’t working it’s magic this time, the shower was a bit small and your beautiful mom just couldn’t find a comfortable position. My gut was telling me you were much closer to making your appearance than we thought.  Within a few minutes she was asking me what her pain medication options were and was telling me she didn’t think she could do it, also a sign that we are nearing the end. We got her out of the shower and decided to make our way to the bed to try out some nitrous (laughing gas), in hopes that it would help her copes with the pain. 

The laughing gas was not to be, (I think your dad had some hopes he was going to get to give it a try as well) as we were heading from the bathroom to the bed (about a 3 foot walk) your mom dropped to her knees on the floor and let us know something was happening. We quickly got her up onto the bed and the nurse checked, it was time to push!! A handful of pushes later and with the help of two amazing nurses you were there, so fast no doctors even made it into the room!!

Once again your mom was amazing, and your dad was right there by her side the whole time cheering her on, getting her whatever she needed.  Alexis was incredible, a natural born doula with her sack of snacks, crystals and “hippie oils”. Not everyone gets to go through labour with their own personal massage therapist by their side. It was pretty much the labour dream team.

Welcome to the world sweet boy, you have been born into a pretty cool family and you will never know a day of your life where you aren’t surrounded in love and light.

Sterling Emmett Serpa
Born February 2, 2016 at 1:42am
8lbs .5oz

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sawyer Bruce

This weekend I attended yet another crazy fast, amazing home birth.  This one was extra special (I know I gush about all my births but this one really was extra special!). This was the planned home birth of Tai and Travis, and I have known Travis since he was 5 years old. Trav is one of my brother’s oldest friends and I have literally watched this guy grow up. I am incredibly honored to have been invited to share in one of the most important days of his whole life.

Trav’s wife Tai is a force to be reckoned with, this woman knows what she wants, and she isn't even a little bit afraid to ask for it. She is focused, driven and outspoken. I adore her and when she messaged me just a few short weeks ago I was thrilled.

This was baby number two for Trav and Tai and they wanted to try for a home, water birth and I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.  We met, we came up with a plan, they bought the pool – we were all set……

Tai had been starting to dilate throughout the week with no signs of labour until Saturday morning, we chatted via text around 830 am and she mentioned some back pain but no real contractions.  Trav had gone out to get a thermometer for the pool and some snacks to hold people over when Tai’s labour started.

10:26 am – Tai sends a single text.


I ask how long they are and how many she has had and she replies:

“Haven’t timed, just got out of bath, trav is walking dogs……on toilet now”

“They freaking hurt”

I ask if she wants me to come by and check on her and then something tells to rephrase that from a question to a statement, I am coming over.  My gut tells me I need to make sure she is ok.
I leave my house at 10:30am and arrive at their house at 10:35am.  

I find Tai in the bathroom getting sick and know that my suspicions were right.  Tai is in hard labour.  We get her sitting up on the toilet and almost immediately she starts to bear down uncontrollably.  

F-word.  It is just the two of us, Trav is out hiking with the dogs and Kace at Royal Roads and at this point, Tai’s midwife doesn’t even know she has started contracting.

I call the midwife and tell her Tai is contracting back to back and is feeling like pushing – the midwife is amazing and tells me to get her off the toilet and laying down and lets me know she is on her way.

I text Trav and tell him he needs to come home.  He replies:

“Do I need to run?”


For a brief moment I feel almost panicked, I do not want to catch Trav and Tai’s baby.  I do not want Trav to miss this. Did I mention how much I do not want to catch Trav and Tai’s baby?

I start to work on getting Tai off the toilet and onto the floor.  Women at this stage of labour rarely want to move. Tai does not want to move at all. I get her standing and she remains standing for a couple contractions, we work hard on getting her to blow them away and try to keep her from pushing and then I get her down on the floor.  

**FYI – I have made her a very swanky bed on the bathroom floor, complete with bath towel and a throw pillow from the couch, don’t judge me, you do the best you can with what you can grab in 2.5 seconds.**

We are on the floor working through the contractions when Trav, Kace and the 2 dogs get home. Trav seems totally calm and is on the floor at her side in seconds. He has Kace happily watching Paw Patrol with a snack and is now total focussed on Tai.

At this point maybe 30 minutes have passed since I arrived and Tai is coping shockingly well, her labour has come on like a freight train, she has literally gone from having a nice bath to pushing in just a handful of contractions.  I am asking her to do the impossible by asking her not to push and to blow it away but she digs deep and fights through each contraction while we wait for the midwife to arrive.

The midwife arrives and without skipping a beat, she swoops in and takes charge and almost instantly there is a sense of relief (at least for me) and I know Tai is in good hands.  The midwife tells Tai to go ahead and listen to her body and to push her baby out.

Four pushes later, at 11:24am, Sawyer is born. Right there on the bathroom floor, safe and perfect.  His dad beaming and his big brother, oblivious in the next room, happily watching TV. 

I have attended 33 births and my awe and amazement of women and their strength never lessens.  Tai is fierce, brave, and beautiful and all in all, incredible, just like all the women I have supported.

Welcome to the world Sawyer – you have made one hell of an entrance!

p.s. - if anyone is looking for a birth pool, inflated but never used......I can probably get you a good deal;-)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcoming Lucy - July 25, 2015

In January of 2015, I retired from doula work..... And then a few months back I got a message from Shannon that I had been waiting for since she got married to Bob. She was expecting baby number two and was wondering if I was available to be her doula again. How could I say no? The birth of her first baby was a truly incredible experience and I jumped at the chance support her again.

Shannon and Bob were planning a water birth at her parents home in Metchosin. The house and the yard is pretty much heaven on earth and her family is incredibly full of life and love. The walls are covered in art and family photos, within seconds of walking through the door everyone has greeted you with a hug,  and there are always offers of food, drink, it any surprise I went back a second time?

This time around labour started out somewhat slowly, lots of wondering if this was it, or just a false start. Gentle enough to let everyone sleep at night but consistent enough to have everyone on their toes and ready to go. Finally on Saturday morning Shannon called and sounded a bit more sure that things were starting to pick up. The midwife had been by to check on her progress, she was dilated to 3cm and was contracting consistently around the 6-7 minute mark. She still sounded comfortable and in control but I wanted to pop over and see how she was coping with my own eyes.

I arrived shortly after 2pm, Shannon was in bed with her adorable daughter Gwen, reading stories. Every few minutes, while she read, her breathing was a little deeper but she managed to finish the story. Very impressive! After getting Gwen all tucked in with a snack we decided to head out and wander around the yard to see if we could get things going a little stronger, just like we had done while she was in labour with Gwen.

The yard is beautiful, and Shannon quietly contracted as we walked, very quickly moving from 6 minutes apart to 3 minutes apart. As we walked, the family dog, Beau stayed with us the entire time, keeping guard over Shannon for each contraction. Eventually I suggested we head back to the house to let the midwife know things were picking up and so we could start putting the birth pool together. My gut told me that we would be needing it sooner rather than later.

Once Bob was going on the pool construction and midwife Andrea was on her way, we spent some time pacing around on the deck and then headed down stairs to the beautiful birthing space they had created in the basement.

Andrea arrived around 330pm and it was full steam ahead for Shannon and her labour. Contractions were coming fast and furious, shortly after arriving Andrea checked Shannon and she was now dilated to 5-6cm. Time to call in the back up midwife and start filling the pool.

Shannon was amazing throughout each and every contractions. Shannon was unbelievably supported by her husband Bob, her mom, her sister and especially Gwen, who was the perfect little doula in training, she helped keep the labouring mom nice and cool with old face cloths, got her drinks, and gave her lots of hugs and kisses. Her father and brother in law were close by and the home was full of family waiting to meet the newest addition.

Time flew by and soon it was time to get into the pool. After a few really tough contractions that Shannon had to blow away (anyone who has ever had to "blow" away a contraction while every fibre of your body is trying to push knows how really tough those contractions were), she was fully dilated and it was time to start pushing.

After just a couple of pushes, and as the sunlight started streaming in the window, surrounded by family in a room bursting at the seams with love and light, baby Lucy was born.
I know I say it over and over again but I am truly in awe of each and every woman and her family that I have supported over the years.  Each baby will forever have a special place in my heart and it is truly a gift to be invited into such a sacred space.
the little doula in training
Gwen - so excited that her little sister was on her way!
Grandma keeping a close eye on the labouring mom
the midwives - extraordinary as always!
Pure joy!!
Lucy!!!! 8lbs 4oz born July 25th, 2015 at 7:04pm