My Story

It all started with a positive pregnancy test. I was 26 years old, had just moved out to Abbotsford with my then-fiancĂ©, and hadn’t planned to have a baby until the following year.

Of course nature likes to surprise us and I found myself staring at 2 pink lines early in September of 2012.

I was in shock, and completely unprepared!

For most of my life I had wanted to be a mom but also been absolutely TERRIFIED of birth! I would hide my eyes during any birth scenes on TV, asking my husband to tell me when the “scary part” was over!

I tried, without much success, to get past that fear and I didn’t know where to look for the right information at first!

NONE of my family or friends had completely natural births without some level of intervention, and every woman in my family had been led to believe that birth just came with tearing and an episiotomy!

They said I wouldn’t care because labour itself would be so painful, and that the epidural wouldn’t be so scary in the moment, even though I am really not good with needles.

I had looked up everything from how to avoid a tear, asking if I really had to have a dreaded episiotomy, and sometimes I thought I wanted the epidural and other times I thought I should just get knocked out and have a cesarean, but those things were also even more terrifying!

And now, I was faced with that fear and there was no way out of it!

Planning My First Birth

I didn’t have a family doctor anymore, was in a new city, and didn’t know anything about finding a care provider for pregnancy. I used Google to find a family doctor, but she wasn’t attending births anymore so I was directed to the local maternity clinic. I made an appointment and waited rather impatiently to find out how far along I actually was, because I’d missed two periods and clearly my birth control pills had failed.

The day that appointment arrived I dutifully went to the clinic with my partner and sat for 15 minutes while the OB went on about how there were some doctors on-call who could administer the epidural for their patients.

I was weighed, measured, and asked a series of questions about my last menstrual period and symptoms etc. It was very impersonal and there wasn’t a lot of time to ask questions.

The OB didn’t even bother asking what kind of birth I wanted to have!

I’ll give you a hint: I hate needles, so an epidural was NOT one of those things I was excited about. I was handed the requisition form for the initial bloodwork, and again there was no discussion that this was optional. I had it on the tip of my tongue to ask her about getting me a sedative because I don’t do well with needles, but I lost my nerve. I left that first appointment staring at the form with my name and where I was registered to give birth, and I just couldn’t see myself in the hospital hooked up to an IV and having to stay overnight in the hospital.

I wanted my own bed and I wanted a water birth.

I switched care to a midwife by 10 weeks and felt I was in good hands, but what I failed to realize was that because they were a “high-risk” midwifery clinic some of the routine practices and protocols didn’t fit with a low-risk pregnancy.

I Googled “can I have a homebirth in Abbotsford?” and found out that yes, I could.

I then was directed to the first midwife page that had answered that question in their FAQs, and not knowing anything about how to hire a care provider I just called that first practice and made an appointment.

I switched care to a midwife by 10 weeks and felt I was in good hands, but what I failed to realize was that because they were a “high-risk” midwifery clinic some of the routine practices and protocols didn’t fit with a low-risk pregnancy. The first sign of a deviation from “normal” growth in my pregnancy became a red flag and I soon learned what happens when you allow others to control your care.

At 35 weeks my son dropped so low in my pelvis that it changed the shape of my belly and I was suddenly carrying smaller than the previous week. I was sent for an ultrasound and then for 4 days I didn’t hear anything so I assumed it was good news.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case; I got a call later that Sunday night with one of the midwives telling me that the OB now on my case had suspected a growth restriction. I wound up spending the rest of my pregnancy going for non-stress tests, growth scans, and I was told I could no longer have a homebirth.

All these things were incredibly stressful and I had a lot of anxiety over having to go to the hospital for my birth. I kept asking if there had been any change in the follow-up scans, but I was told there wasn’t (this was a lie) and any attempts I made to bring up homebirth were shut down. I was told that first time moms usually transfer anyway, so I wasn’t really missing out on homebirth because I would likely change my mind too. I was told by family that I was making a big deal out of nothing. Nobody seemed to support me. When one of the midwives who did believe in me finally called me up at 39 weeks to tell me that the scans were badly done and I could have the birth I wanted, I didn’t trust it could really happen.

I will regret that for the rest of my life.

I had to fight for every little bit of autonomy in my birth and I left the hospital 12 hours later feeling like I had birthed in spite of obstacles, not because anyone other than my midwife had truly supported my decisions.

A Lesson Learned and a New Passion Born!

Thankfully, she wound up being the midwife on-call at the hospital when I went into labor at 41 weeks. I attribute her being my midwife that night as the only reason I avoided the fate of having a cesarean, but the pressure to push my baby out in under 3 hours was still there.

I had to fight for every little bit of autonomy in my birth and I left the hospital 12 hours later feeling like I had birthed in spite of obstacles, not because anyone other than my midwife had truly supported my decisions.

It shouldn’t take 5 times of saying NO for a nurse to accept that there would be no blood test on admission.

It shouldn’t take shaking one’s head NO several times for a nurse to stop pestering a laboring mother about having a vaginal exam. No mother should be pulled from the tub against her will and made to get on the bed, on her back, despite protests.

No mother should have to stare at a clock for 3 hours while fearing that time will be “up” and the overseeing OBs will step in and call a Cesarean.

And yet, that’s what I experienced.

I thought I was alone in that until a few weeks later when I learned about birth trauma and how common it is in our system.

I was angry that I hadn’t been warned about this before I stepped into the hospital and trusted the system.

I was angry that I hadn’t been told the entire truth, just the bits that would lead to me agreeing with what the OB wanted me to do.

It was through learning that I wasn’t alone that I realized that someone needed to be out there warning new moms before they stepped into the system and since I didn’t see anyone else in Abbotsford doing that, I took it upon myself to start the conversation.

My first introduction to advocacy was through Improving Birth.

I hosted my first rally in the park the next September of 2014. It was just me and a mom friend standing in front of a table with a bunch of signs and handouts, but it had an impact all the same. Women stopped to talk with us about their own bad experiences and how what we were doing was so important. I kept the Facebook page updated with articles, blog posts, and my own flare and talent for writing became a valuable asset to building our audience.

I soon connected with other birth advocates in the Lower Mainland and was even part of a think-tank with WOMB (Women’s Oasis for Maternal Wellness and Birth) when they were coming up with the concept for a birth centre they wanted to build.

That second pregnancy wasn’t easy on my body. I was very tired, nauseous, and my back and hips were constantly aching, but I was happy! I felt powerful and in control and that was something I hadn’t had with my first pregnancy. I had a few hiccups in my labor, but ultimately the birth was everything I could have wanted, save for having more pictures of it.

The Do-Over Homebirth

The following year I was pregnant again, this time on purpose.

I texted my doula immediately after taking the pregnancy test and started my search for a midwife who would leave me to birth undisturbed.

I applied to every single midwife practice in Abbotsford (there were 4 at the time) and heard back from 3 of them. I had a long list of things I wanted for my homebirth experience and conducted my interviews to find the best match.

The third practice I interviewed was the one I hired and with them I received the most individualized, respectful care I could have dreamed of. Not only that, I used my appointments to ask questions about anything and everything that was of interest to me. As a birth advocate you can imagine that was time well-spent, and I did get a lot of invaluable education from them that has helped me serve mothers over the years.

That second pregnancy wasn’t easy on my body. I was very tired, nauseous, and my back and hips were constantly aching, but I was happy! I felt powerful and in control and that was something I hadn’t had with my first pregnancy. I had a few hiccups in my labor, but ultimately the birth was everything I could have wanted, save for having more pictures of it.

After having finally experienced the power of an Empowered Birth where I had Taken Charge, I became even more passionate about my work. The vision for what would become Empowering Moms took root inside of me and even through the fog of postpartum into the first 2 years of motherhood with highly spirited children I knew that my calling was to educate, advocate, and empower other young mothers in their pregnancies well into postpartum.

I gained traction in the birth community and doulas, midwives, nurses, and mothers all started messaging me on my page or through my email. Many told me that I needed to turn what I do into a business, that I needed to write a book, and that what I was doing was something they wish had been available when they were expecting their first baby.

Thankfully, I listened.

I took those words of encouragement to heart and in the fall of 2019 I announced my intentions to turn my passion into a business. I also started connecting more regularly with other birth workers and joined the Transforming Birth Luminaries in the spring of 2020. There are so many things that I want to accomplish with Empowering Moms and this is only the beginning.

I have a passion for mothers who want to Take Charge in their births right from the start, and I believe that when moms are empowered they can apply the strategies to every part of their lives.

I want every woman to know their own power and use it to become the best version of themselves possible. Imagine what we can accomplish when we know, without a doubt, that we can Take Charge!

The Birth of a Empowering Moms

The birth of my daughter changed me in such profound ways that I had never imagined possible.

Before I had children I had thought starting a business or creating a Facebook community and being a leader was for other people who were more talented and extroverted than I was. I had many friends tell me that I had those same qualities, but it took that transformative birth to really see how much power I had. I want every woman to know their own power and use it to become the best version of themselves possible. Imagine what we can accomplish when we know, without a doubt, that we can Take Charge!

Will you join me in that vision for the future?

I share more stories of my journey into motherhood inside my Facebook Group for mothers who want to take charge of their births and/or empower others to do the same.

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