Be a Doula / Here is Your King

 

Do you remember 5 or 10 years ago, when it seemed like everyone was a photographer? Opening their own business, buying fancy cameras, photographing their friends’ children? Today, it seems to me like everyone is becoming a doula. It’s the new thing.

Becoming a doula, for me, was a little bit like the people in 1 Samuel who thought they needed a king. Except that for me, what I needed was a thing. 

I remember sitting at my kitchen table over 5 years ago, and asking God, “Should I do it? Is this my thing that I am called to do and be?”

As I proceeded to seek out some kind of mentor, I quickly came up short on options. The doulas I reached out to for guidance either didn’t respond to my emails, or had left the practice altogether. That was when God led me to Psalm 32:8:

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Next to this verse in my Bible, I wrote,  “Be a doula.”

And so it began: the path of a becoming a Christian doula with God as my mentor laid itself before me, right smack in the middle of a surprisingly secular field. In a culture where people question or even disdain the patriarchal values of Christianity and elevate the woman, instead, as creator. Where they post pictures on Facebook of their nursing breasts or birthing vaginas and are appalled if anyone complains. (Sorry about the “V word”; doula here). Where they do henna art and belly binding and placenta encapsulation; yoga and babywearing and organic everything. (Here’s the disclaimer: Not that all of these things are bad, per-se, but let’s face it: the birthing community can be a little bit out there.)

It’s been a lonely walk sometimes, but as a true non-conformist – not the kind with tattoos, although I have them, but as the kind who has been blessed/cursed with the kind of personality that squirms with annoyance at the idea of trying to “fit in”- I have been able to walk my path with dignity, and have enjoyed it immensely.

I know the non-Christian or left-wing believers out there probably imagine me to be one of those jerks who applauded the Planned Parenthood shooter last week. (Nope.) But what they don’t know is…well…first of all, they don’t know me…but what they also don’t know is what it’s like for a Christian doula like me to attend births.  The way I nestle into God’s shoulder and just wait for Him to show Himself to me, teaching me about His character and His true self, while we support a new mother and usually her husband, through birth.

I’ll never forget the time my faith-filled friend threw back her head in gratitude and called out in thanks to God for her unborn child, while in the deepest possible throes of labor. It felt as if the clouds pulled back and the sky laid bare as God said to me, “Remember this.” Or the time God spoke scripture to a laboring woman through her own mouth, using a verse she didn’t even know she knew. Or when a new mother wept uncontrollably with JOY after a beautiful delivery that followed a previous birthing trauma. Just to name a few…these are the kinds of miracles I witness. The ways God shows up.

And then there are the ways God has challenged me.

The way He gently requested that maybe I could share my testimony in my class, with all of its vulnerability and shame, ultimately ending in a song of praise for everything He is to me. Or the times He has shown me that my idolatry of this thing was getting in the way… The ego battle of self-advertisement (ugh–it’s the worst!)…and lastly, laying His hand heavy on my heart as I observed other doulas begin to align, while Christian doulas continued to duke it out. There has been a lot I have had no control over and a lot that has been extremely self-powered. Humbling to say the least.

What I have come to see is that in telling me “Be a doula,” God was saying just what he was saying to the Israelites who were so sure they needed a king. He gave them what they asked for: a flawed, unprepared, disappointing human leader.  “Here is your king.” Because what they failed to understand in the first place was, they already had a King.

In my seeking for calling and place in His kingdom, He had something similar for me. Giving me what I was so sure I needed, “Here is your thing.” Yes, He has blessed and used it in some really amazing ways. But the truth is, I was already His. My identity, my fate, my contribution, were already sealed in His book. I could have done nothing at all, and my name would still be written there.

This adventure has grown me and tried me and on some days, almost ruined me. But through it all, what God was really showing me is this. A lesson I would not trade for the world, and one that even in my striving God has been able to use for good. Through all of these things, good and bad and fun and difficult, I have learned to stop and rest my head on his shoulder and just wait for his word. I have learned about pushing forward when he says stop (and how fruitless and frustrating that is) and how thoroughly things move when he says it is time.

What I have learned is that I don’t need a thing.

What I need is my King.

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

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Perfect Birth, Part 2: It’s Personal

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my heart about an issue that I know plagues expectant mothers everywhere: what does it take to have a perfect birth?

I touched on the fact that while childbirth education is imperative, and support during labor is helpful, we still don’t know how any woman will react to the labor process until she is already in the moment. I made the point that all births, no matter what they look like, are victories to be celebrated. And I mean that. All births are their own brand of perfect. But sometimes, for some women, the truth is this:

Even perfect birth can be traumatic.

I would be foolish not to acknowledge that some women have frightening or even life-threatening births and are forced to come to terms with their experience. For one reason or another, the process simply doesn’t “work” in some situations. For some of these women, my testimony about my disappointing birth experience and my injured feelings of self-worth might be exactly what they need. But for others, well… maybe not so much.

Beyond our physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies, we are each also composed of our own complicated list of experiences. We have a mind, which we discuss in class, but we also have a subconscious mind, which we couldn’t even begin to cover: immature in its ability to make sense of our experiences, and endlessly vulnerable to the hoaxes of the enemy (again: see the Devotional). Working quietly behind the scenes, beneath our cool, collected exterior, it shapes our reactions to every one of our life experiences.

It’s personal.

In the five years since starting my childbirth services company, I have had no choice but to grow as an individual. I have been brought to my knees by some of my own life experiences. Shaken to the core of my beliefs. The shaping of my character as an adult has been arduous, and I have fought hard to find—and hold on to—what is true. In the process, I have also come to see some of that which is not.

I have learned something very important: We are each fighting our own battles. Maybe that sounds cliché, but this is relevant in all areas of life – including the quest for a great birth. For me to come alongside a woman and preach “worth,” when her own personal life experiences have shaped her to need a message of “safety” (for example), would mean that I have missed her altogether.

But how can I help? How do I know what someone needs, when it is beyond their own understanding? How do I discern the tune of their song, unless they themselves can sing it to me?

It’s possible.

The message I offer in my classes about worth and birth idolatry and relationship problems is—in all humility—good. It is quality stuff, and I will continue to teach it. But if I am to partner with God in caring for souls, then I must work from the heart with all of the skill allotted to me. There is more I can offer on an individual basis, seeking hearts and re-adjoining them to God’s in a way that is so much bigger, so much more personal, than the quest for the perfect birth.

It’s time to integrate more. Eden’s Promise is ready to offer you – each mother, father, and child- more than I ever dreamed possible. Click here to find out more!

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner  Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator.She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Perfect Birth, Part One: This Doula’s Perspective

I attended a perfect birth yesterday.

I mean it. It was everything the couple I was working with had ever dreamed of.

I texted my husband to tell him I’d be home soon, and he responded, “Congrats!” – referring to the great birth. Suddenly, after 5 years in the business, I had a revelation that rather shook me:

I couldn’t take credit.

It’s true. I did the same things I always do. I applied essential oils. I gauged my client’s need for touch vs. space. I helped her change positions, and I coached her husband to ensure that he would be the person she remembered supporting her the most. And there it was: the perfect birth.

What struck me was this question:

Why, among all of the couples I work with, who follow and implement the same “formula” that I offer, do some couples have a “perfect” birth, while others don’t?

I know some might say it’s all about the right doctor, or the right birth plan, or even – let’s be honest – the right doula. But if that were the case, then why have I seen such vastly different births among healthy women who have the same doctors, the same hospitals, and the same birth plans?

Could it go beyond Clary Sage and Pelvic Tilts?

I once read a fellow doula’s comment on a social networking site that read, “Well , you can’t win them all . . .”

We all knew what it meant. Lots of other doulas on the page even “liked” it, presumably out of pity. She clearly had attended an ‘imperfect’ birth, and she felt like a failure. As if the brand new life she had witnessed emerging was somehow less because of how it had entered into the world. Or, more accurately (and sadly), as if it was a loss.

What if there’s more to it than that? What if we are muddying the waters in an already beautiful journey by always aiming, either inwardly or outwardly, for that ‘perfect’ outcome; by calling ‘imperfect’ birth a loss when it is obviously a valiant and triumphant win? What if we are stirring the pot of disappointment and depression when we should be aiming for balance and gratitude?

Every birth is a win. Every birth is perfect.

I’ve fought hard in the past to protect my clients from the aftermath of a disappointing birthing experience. In my humblest opinion, I work harder than most to set realistic expectations and to help train hearts—along with minds—to be prepared for whatever is to come.

But am I, as a doula, willing to admit that my worth is not wrapped up in the outcome of a birth, any more than a mother’s should be? Am I willing to see an imperfect birth as its own brand of perfection, without second-guessing my own work?

The perfect birth I attended yesterday wasn’t more. And neither am I.

I’m good at my job. I like what I do, and I know that my presence and skills can bring great comfort and guidance to expectant parents. But I have to be willing to admit that imperfect births aren’t shameful. Not for the mother, which I already knew, but not for me, either. With this new revelation, I am even more free. I can love more fully and offer more of myself, knowing that my presence matters, but probably not in the ways that I think. My support can be truly unconditional, and I can come alongside new parents to celebrate every birth – no matter what it looks like – as a victory.

That is what a perfect birth looks like.

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner, Doula, and Childbirth Educator in Colorado Springs. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching and Splankna Therapy Colorado Springs. Jennifer is a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

The Birth Story of Clark (2nd Child, VBAC)

I had the honor of being invited back to be Chris and Karin’s doula again, for the birth of their second child. Karin and I had stayed in touch since Elaina’s birth, taking our daughters out for occasional play dates at the park or library, so the second time around felt more like catching up with friends than business. They had moved into their new house, which Karin has decorated with a perfected, modernized, shabby chic style. I always tell her she needs to come help me with my own house. (Or maybe I just think it.)

As we sat in their comfy new home, we went over the new materials that had been written after Elaina was born. The devotional brought up a few questions for Karin that led to some challenging, soul-searching conversations. “Why is a natural birth so important to me?” she asked me during one meeting. “Why am I doing this?” I remember thinking, “OK God, keep stirring her.” I responded, “You tell me.”

I do hold a certain disdain for the current culture of childbirth. The culture I’m referring to is the “let’s-all-compete-with-our-friends-to-see-who-can-be-more-crunchy.” Or “let’s-compare-whose-birth-was-more-natural.” The devotional covers a lot of this and works on revealing the motive behind these kinds of mentalities. I wrote it because I’m concerned about the level of depression I see in mothers whose children were born via life-saving medical procedures. The opportunity for their baby’s safe delivery, which would bring rejoicing in third-world countries, often brings disappointment (even to the point of requiring therapy) in ours. Why?

That’s what Karin was asking. Why.

Prior to Elaina’s birth, we had discussed this topic. Of course we both agreed with the statistics, which clearly show that the more natural a baby’s birth, the easier everything else will be (such as healing time, breastfeeding, etc.) She also offered up the honest desire to just know what childbirth is like. To experience it. When Elaina was born via C-Section, Karin experienced firsthand what I had been trying to explain to her about the work it takes to turn the disappointment of her experience into gratitude.

With the birth of Clark approaching, the time Karin spent with God in the devotional, and the tears that were shed while asking Him “Why?” were therapeutic and strengthening for her. At one point a few weeks before Clark’s birthday, she shared with me that God had responded to her seeking with this statement: “I KNOW.” Karin explained to me how all-encompassing His words to her were; how He was expressing to her both His understanding of her disappointment and fears, as well as His encouragement for the outcome of Clark’s birth. There is nothing – nothing – that is outside of his awareness. He KNEW how things would turn out. She didn’t need to worry.

Karin was finally able to give her concerns and her motives, whatever they were, to Him, knowing that it mattered to Him. He didn’t judge her for grappling with them; He just loved her and continued to assure her that He understood.

Isn’t that all any of us need? To be understood?

On July 2, 2014, Karin had a doctor’s appointment. She was two days past her due date and Karin’s doctor wasn’t thrilled with the idea of waiting any longer. This particular OB has always had a fun, disarming way with words, and when she chose the word “gnarly” to describe the look of the overdue placenta, Karin knew she had some decisions to make. Having dealt with her concerns about interventions, she felt the peace of God as she entered into what might have otherwise thrown her into (unwarranted) feelings of manipulation or failure. She knew that God knew that this would happen, and moved forward with confidence.

At 1:45, Karin and Chris arrived at the hospital, and at 2:30, they were admitted to their room. At 2:50, Pitocin was started. Within the next hour, contractions had started and increased to about 3 minutes apart. We made it through one full “1-hour routine” complete with 2 potty breaks. Chris was a pro; calm and caring and present with her. (I thought it was sweet when she shared with me that she had asked him to let his facial hair grow a little for the occasion, because she liked how it made him look.) As before, the two worked beautifully together as a team.

Around 5:00, Karin started having the urge to push. Labor had gotten intense and seemed to be moving right along, but it wasn’t time for that yet. Karin had to work really hard to keep from pushing, but she didn’t panic. We had done this before with Elaina, so we weren’t surprised. We had even discussed what we would do, should it happen again. Karin kept her wits about her as she panted, “blew out the candle,” and imagined Elaina singing, “This little light of mine.” The determination in her face as she dug deep and held on was amazing to witness. Then, at one point, she even cracked a joke to Chris about it, mimicking Elaina’s voice as she said, “I’m pushing, I’m pushing!”

After lying on her side for nearly an hour and using all of her strength not to push, Karin made a wise decision. She looked me in the eye and said, “This is what we talked about.” She chose to get an epidural so that her body would stop trying to push (we had learned in Elaina’s birth that this would work for her). At 6:15, the epidural was placed. At 6:40, Chris went out of the room to eat, and at 7:15 I stepped out for a quick break.

At 8:00, Karin’s cervix had reached 10 cm. The baby still needed to come down a bit, so Karin made sure to change positions in bed to help Clark do his job of moving down. She and Chris shared with me an interesting section in A.W. Tozier’s The Knowledge of the Holy, which had spoken to Karin regarding wisdom (and had thereby influenced her decision for the epidural). Once again, it was like I was just hanging out with friends. This bit of time was easy and relaxed; working with these two is not work at all.

At 8:40, Karin’s mom and sister arrived from Boulder, and at 9:00 Nurse Cindy told Karin it was OK to go ahead and start learning how to push. Dr. FE arrived around 9:40. Together, Karin and Dr. FE offered a vast array of fresh humor. Karin was full of funny comments, and Dr. FE was quick to join in the fun. They both had the whole room laughing. At 10:16, baby Clark was born. He had a healthy, strong cry as he was placed on Karin’s chest. Karin mentioned afterwards how “surreal” it was. This event she had spent so much time thinking about was already over; now she could move forward with being a mom again.

All the soul-searching and seeking that occurred before Clark was born led Karin to a deeper relationship with Christ, a deeper understanding of His unconditional love for her, and His constant presence with her. She didn’t look back at her experience asking, “What If?” She knew that THIS was her story and that it was beautiful, and she walked into becoming a mother of 2 with the full assurance of having walked in God’s plan for her.

Karin and Chris, thanks for inviting me to join you again. I love you guys! Karin, your passionate, searching heart is your most beautiful feature and is making you an amazing mother. Chris, your quiet understanding and patience, and your willingness to seek God alongside Karin is making you a great father. Elaina, the mere thought of you helped carry your mama through one of the most difficult experiences of her life. And baby Clark, God KNOWS you. He has known you and will know you and will forever be aware of your heart. He will understand you, even when you don’t. May the seeking and revelation that occurred while you were not yet born be imprinted upon you forever as Truth. May you always feel known by our living God, and may you always bring that light to others the way you did for your mother.

It is blessing to me to know all of you! Congratulations on your beautiful family.

With deep respect and affection,
Jen

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family, releasing October 2014). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. Jennifer is also a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

The Birth Story of Charis (‘natural’ VBAC)

The Birth Story of Charis

I met with April and Andrew for the first time in spring of 2014. Andrew, who is active military, had recently learned that he was headed to Virginia for school in July. April, also active military, would be staying here. While the couple was hopeful that Andrew would be able to make it home for the birth of their baby girl, it wasn’t certain. They were therefore looking to hire a doula in hopes of ensuring support for April during what would hopefully be an unmedicated VBAC. April also explained that she has a rare blood clotting disorder, and that it had been responsible for a somewhat traumatic birth experience when their first child, Helena, was born.

April, Andrew and I had our first official meeting just before Andrew left for Virginia. Andrew is upbeat and alert (great traits for a birth partner). Unfortunately, he was in Virginia during our last two meetings, but he was good about reviewing the information I was covering with April from afar. He had purchased a Kindle version of the devotional, and was able to access all of the most crucial birthing information through his online access code to our materials. April also took time to catch him up on our meetings and the additional information we covered together from the study guide.

For our second and third meetings, April’s mom, Betty was there. It had been decided that she would also be present for the birth, so it simply made sense to invite her into the process. I enjoyed having her there; I found that her warm personality brought me a greater understanding of April. Their strong relationship was evident as we practiced labor positions, reviewed our ‘hourly plan,’ and laughed and prayed together. Our biggest prayer requests were for Andrew to be able to attend the birth, for April’s platelet count to be good, and that baby Charis would be healthy.

On the morning of October 30th, April texted me to tell me she had been having contractions. Betty had decided to spend the previous night at April and Andrew’s house, so she was there with April all morning and day. April’s dad, Steve, came by for a while, and left for Denver around 1:00 p.m. (It was around this time that Betty says April started ‘pacing,’ as contractions became more regular and intense.) Around 3:00, April texted me to tell me that her contractions were getting more frequent, but weren’t quite lasting a minute. I asked her to time them for the next hour, for a more objective understanding of her progress.

At 3:30, she texted to tell me that the app on her phone was averaging her contractions at 4 minutes apart. I gave her a call and told her I would try to be there within the hour, but cautioned that if she felt like she wanted to go in to the hospital without me, that she should. The doctors and her hematologist had already written orders for the specialized medicines she would need to be administered for the management of her clotting factors during birth, and I wanted to be sure there would be time. About 25 minutes later, she texted to tell me they were headed to the hospital.

I met them at the hospital shortly after Andrew arrived. I half-jokingly noted that he had somehow managed to beat me to the hospital, all the way from Virginia! He chuckled and added how good it had been of April to have ‘complied’ with his request to have the baby that day, so that his break from school would be as long as possible (since Veteran’s day was on its way). Of course we knew April had nothing to do with the timing; God did. He had most certainly heard our prayers.

Betty gave me an update as I set my belongings on the couch in the delivery room: April was 7 cm dilated upon arriving to the hospital! She told me that they had followed the hourly plan we had covered in our preparatory meetings while they had labored at home, and had done “Lots of ‘OK’” during contractions (also part of their training).  As we caught up with each other in the delivery room and waited for the nurses to do their required work, we even received the news that April’s platelets were at a plentiful 129! Arriving at 7 cm AND having plenty of platelets? God is so good.

April was in her hospital bed, and was far enough along in labor that she was no longer interested in moving or changing positions. She mentioned once or twice that she wanted an epidural, to which Betty and Andrew responded with the word, “Trust.” This was a word God had spoken to her during part of our training, and with that guidance, she was able to allow the idea of an epidural to slip away. April and Andrew immediately found their groove, as he stood with her hands in his, allowing her to pull against him during contractions. He was encouraging and positive, coaching her through each contraction and reassuring her that she was doing a great job.

At 6:00, about an hour after we had all gotten settled, April’s water broke when the doctor checked her cervix (9 cm!). Just a couple of contractions later, it was already time to start pushing. Betty had gone to get April’s scriptures that she had prepared for herself, and I recall being concerned that she might miss some of the excitement—but she did make it back in time. April just needed a little bit of time to learn how to push (which does often involve a bit of a learning curve). She was allowed to utilize a variety of positions, such as slightly side-lying, squatting, and then eventually, on her back. Andrew counted to ten and coached April as she pushed, with Betty and myself each holding a leg for April.

Baby Charis was born at exactly 7:30 p.m. on October 30th. It was a short, uncomplicated, pain medicine-free VBAC, with Andrew present. Charis was beautiful and healthy, weighing in at 6 lbs. 14 oz. and April was in excellent condition with no clotting issues whatsoever. Every prayer request had been boldly answered with a resounding “Yes” from God, who had told His child to simply “trust.”

Baby Charis, may you grow up knowing that you were brought into this world surrounded by a present and interactive God, who answers prayers and simply asks us to trust. May you continue to carry the faith your parents and Oma exhibited, and may you always believe that it’s never about odds or statistics, or even past experience, but about how God delights in fulfilling His promises to us – and how we can trust Him no matter what.

April and Andrew, thanks for inviting me into your birth experience. It is such an honor to have been part of such a personal and spirit-filled experience. Blessings on your family in the years (and locations) to come.

Sincerely,
Jen DeBrito

Jennifer DeBrito, CSP, CCLD, CCBE is a Master Splankna Practitioner in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Doula, and Childbirth Educator. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family, releasing October 2014). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. Jennifer is also a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Recommended Reading: ‘Expectant Parents’ by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

As a doula and birth educator, clients and acquaintances alike often ask me what pregnancy books I recommend (you know, besides What to Expect When You’re Expecting¹).

Normally, my answer is, “I don’t recommend anything. Stop reading, especially online.”

There are just so many books out there right now, both online and in stores, that I simply don’t like. Yes, there are informative books and articles that teach important things like when to call the doctor if your child has a fever. (Read those!) But the rest of it, at least it seems to me, is often just pride –or shame, or fear—inducing opinion.

Enter Focus on the Family’s new release, Expectant Parents: Preparing Together for the Journey of Parenthood by Suzanne Hadley Gosselin.

As a born-again Christian with lots of non-Christian friends, I had high hopes for this book to apply to. . . well. . . anyone. I am pleased to report that Expectant Parents is perhaps the best pregnancy book since What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Christians and non-Christians alike will be able to gain perspective and wisdom from this entertaining and enlightening piece. Never is it preachy or greater-than-thou. The message is freeing and uplifting, honest and real. Here’s what I walked away with:

1) My story is just one story.

This is the sentence with which Gosselin began (and she had me at “Hello!”). In a culture where everyone seems to argue about the ‘right’ way to go about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, I was thrilled to read the same message that I work so hard to impart on my own clients.

Suzanne’s opening message welcomes us unto the fact that never in this entire work, will she provoke shame or say how things “should be.” Instead, she proceeds to offer encouragement throughout the entire book to free ourselves from trying to walk anyone else’s path – and instead lean into finding what God’s story is for each of us.

2) I am still fully myself. I am also fully a mother.

Just to be clear, this book contains a well-balanced appeal to both men and women. And even though this particular message was directed at moms-to-be, it definitely offers insight for fathers, too. Too many of the materials already out there give the impression that when we have a child, we are taking on a whole new identity.

Instead, Gosselin covers the topics of identity, working, finances, the marriage relationship, coming to terms with our pasts, and giving ourselves grace, through example after example from real people—each of which offer a vivid picture of the many ways God grows us through having children. The reminder that we are just adding a new facet to ourselves – like a diamond gaining a new, extra-shiny cut—is incredibly refreshing (not to mention true!).

3) It’s worth it.

Through an upbeat, easy-to-read, almost magazine-style approach, Expectant Parents offers a humorous and encouraging look at the good, the bad, and the good again. Numerous tips and ideas are given not just for making it through struggles, but also for figuring out the practical stuff—as well as making life more fun. (Being a new parent can be fun? Imagine that!) Gosselin was thorough in including experts on every subject and offering a real look at how wonderful, and hard, and worth it becoming a parent will be.

Kudos to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin on putting forth such an encouraging and grace-filled look at how to prepare for the journey of parenthood as a couple. I highly recommend this work!

Want to order a copy? Click here

¹Murkoff and Mazel, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (New York: Workman Publishing Group, 2008).

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop: Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parentsa pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family, releasing October 2014). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. Jennifer is also a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.

Natural Childbirth: 3 Things You Didn’t Know Insurance Covers

Everyone knows that having a baby can be expensive. But really…How expensive, you ask? According to BabyCenter.com’s Baby Cost Calculator, the first year of a baby’s life (not including medical bills) is likely to run anywhere from $4,000-$10,000–or more! From fun purchases like nursery decor and baby clothing, to not-so-fun expenses like medical care and hospital stays, the cost of a baby adds up quickly. But here are few things even insured couples are paying out-of-pocket for that they don’t necessarily have to:

1) Childbirth Classes

Many insurance companies consider Childbirth Classes to fall under the realm of prenatal care. Classes can be located through your local hospitals, or a quick search online should help you locate a private class. (If you use a private educator, just make sure they are certified and teach from board-reviewed material like this.)

2) Midwives

While most insurance companies won’t cover home-birth midwives, many insurance companies have no problem at all with covering a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) who attends in-hospital births. If you are very natural-minded and want a midwife, but need insurance to pay for it, then look for an OB/GYN office with a CNM on staff. (It is also good to note that the current medical trend is leaning more toward the ‘mother-baby initiative.’ So even if you can’t find a CNM, chances are good you will still be able locate a natural-minded, supportive doctor.)

3) Doulas

Doulas are non-medical support persons who are helpful during labor for the emotional care of laboring mothers and their spouses (or birth partners) throughout their childbirth experience. Because a doula’s presence statistically tends to decrease the need for expensive medical intervention during labor, many insurance companies are willing to cover all or part of a doula’s fees. When interviewing doulas, ask if they have a Provider Identifier Number (PIN) that can be submitted for insurance.

To find out whether your insurance company/plan covers these services, it is important to actually call your insurance company and ask. (Few companies offer an exhaustive, printed list of all the services they cover.) Lastly, If your plan does not cover the services, don’t despair! HSA and FSA will often reimburse in part, or in full. A few quick phone calls to the right people, and savvy parents could potentially save thousands.

Jennifer DeBrito, CCLD, CCBE is a Colorado Springs Doula and Childbirth Educator. She is the author of Expectant Parents Workshop:Devotional, and the creator of the Expectant Parents Workshop childbirth preparation class. Jennifer was the 3-time doula to Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (esteemed author of Expectant Parents, a pregnancy/childbirth/parenting book by Focus on the Family, releasing October 2014). In addition to coaching expectant parents toward a Christ-centered childbirth, Jennifer also specializes in prenatal and postpartum wellness coaching. Jennifer is also a featured blogger for My719Moms.com. To learn more about Jennifer, go to EdensPromiseLLC.com.