Giving Tuesday


I think today, Giving Tuesday, is an appropriate day to talk about the wonderful doula we used for Brielle’s birth. A Doula is a professional trained in childbirth who supports a woman and her husband during, pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. The word “Doula” comes from the Greek term meaning “servant to mother”. Lauren Bishop, is a woman who is very dear to David and I. I joined an anencephaly support group after Brielle was diagnosed with anencephaly. Lauren, also a member, reached out to me and offered her bereavement services, for free, to be a support to David and I as we went through this journey with Brielle.

Lauren’s son Ethan died on June 19, 2013 from anencephaly. Two years later, Brielle would get her diagnosis of anencephaly as well, on the same day. Sweet Ethan inspired his mother to become a doula to not only help mother’s with healthy pregnancies, but also to help mother’s facing pregnancy and infant loss, to be a support and source of strength to lean on during such a horrible time. Lauren honors Ethan’s life with this service. And she is a wonderful, amazing woman who does a phenomenal job serving other mothers. I cannot even begin to describe what a remarkable woman she is.

Donations to Ethan’s Hope go towards helping other mother’s who face infant loss. Lauren provides not only her time (late hours during the entire pregnancy, the entire delivery time, and after), she also provides memory making materials and services, photography of the entire event, gifts for the baby and the parents, her support, and advocacy. During our c-section, Lauren stood next to David and I during the surgery and helped me through that time, that was a very difficult time and I am so grateful for her support. I could not even think of the funeral during the whole pregnancy or really after Brielle was born either. Lauren contacted multiple funeral homes in Atlanta, talked to them all about options, and gave us her honest opinion of which she thought was the best. She recommended Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home, after Brielle was born, which was a beautiful wonderful place, filled with wonderful good honest people. Lauren also set up a photographer for us from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, an organization that has photographers donate their services for infant loss. We just received the pictures from that a few days ago and they turned out beautifully.

Lauren did more for us than I’ll ever be able to explain. She does amazing work with Ethan’s Hope. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Ethan, but I do know he must have been an amazing little boy to have inspired such selfless work from his sweet mommy. And I am forever grateful to him and his mommy. And thankful that Brielle has a sweet friend to play with in Heaven.

Brielle’s 30th Week!

Last Friday, August 28, marked the beginning of Brielle’s 30th week! I felt really bad that I hadn’t planned anything special for her this weekend, I mean it’s her 30th birthday! So David brought home cupcakes from Gigi’s (wedding cake, red velvet, strawberry shortcake, and bubblegum), and we threw her a small birthday party. We sang her happy birthday and blew party horns, because we didn’t have any candles. Mommy fail this weekend.

She really liked the bubblegum cupcake, but it was seriously awful. I tried so hard to eat it for her, but really I just couldn’t. So we had strawberry shortcake instead, she dealt with it. We went to Chattanooga this weekend and hung out with some of David’s friends and met his mom, Brielle’s BeBe, for dinner.

Sunday morning I woke up with terrible lower back and lower abdominal pain. I drank some water and laid down for a few more hours, hoping the pain would subside. It didn’t. So I called my midwife and she wanted to see me at the hospital. So Brielle, David, and I spent Sunday at the hospital. This is a big concern, because Brielle has polyhydramnios she is at risk of going into preterm labor (because my body thinks I’m around nine months along).

We were supposed to meet up with my doula Sunday at Starbucks, instead we met up at the hospital. It was wonderful to get to meet Lauren. She is so kind and I adore her. She is another anencephaly mom, so she is incredibly supportive and understanding during this time.

I had monitors all over me to capture Brielle’s heart rate and make sure I wasn’t having contractions. I had to stay very still, and in strange positions to get her heart rate at all. Little Brielle was determined not to be monitored and kept trying to kick it off or run away from it. At one point she kicked it so hard the nurse jumped back and said, “Whoa!”

David and I had fun listening to Brielle’s heart beat. I wanted to see her reaction when we played her music. So I played her Crystal Baller by Third Eye Blind. She liked that! She started dancing and her heart rate started climbing. I then played her another song, she slowed down and her heart rate started dropping, she wasn’t interested in that one. So then I played her Back in Black by AC/DC, she really liked that too, she started dancing and her heart rate went right back up.

I wanted to see how she responded to my voice, so I started talking and singing to her. It was cute. She moved differently, she wasn’t wild (like when she hears music), it felt like she was listening and squirming in happiness. It was much more gentle, her heart rate also began climbing like it did for the music we played her. David started speaking to her too and she moved differently for him too. She gets excited when she hears her daddy. She’s such a happy baby.

I eventually was discharged, I wasn’t having contractions and there wasn’t an infection. So we had dinner at Maggiano’s. I ordered her a strawberry melon soda, oh she loved that! And really what’s not to like? She’s so funny, she loves her fruity flavors.

I’m bummed that this was her 30th birthday celebration. So David and I have a lot of things planned for her 31st, this coming weekend. She only deserves the best of everything.

Brielle is 30 weeks!
Her yummy cupcakes, except for that awful bubblegum one that she loved.