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Laughing in between contractions

 "As I write this, our daughter is asleep, spread-eagled on my stomach. The word that keeps coming to mind is one I've heard pediatricians and nurses use: she's "thriving." Anika is gaining some definite chub. She breastfeeds like she's in a race. Her color is good. She is increasingly alert and full of expression. I feel like so much of this is due to Stephanie. My labor was pretty long, and though I went into it physically fit, I didn't really understand how quickly a situation can change. You can have all the best intentions in the world for a natural delivery, and then all of a sudden, your options narrow. In the moment, exhausted and in a lot of pain, with no way of knowing how long anything will last for, it's very easy to panic. Before giving birth, I knew this was why having a doula was useful, but that was in the abstract. When it actually ends up happening, you realize how much turns on the specific people inside your delivery room. Stephanie was INCREDIBLE. She led me through panic, and a hell of a lot of pain. She's the main reason why I didn't end up getting an epidural, and later, a c-section. She was patient, loving, sympathetic and dogged (I never want to drink Vitamin Water again). She never told us what to do, but reminded us of our options at any moment, and it was that calmness that made such a huge difference. She knew how to support us without stepping on anyone else's toes, but also made sure that no one stepped all over us. At the end, the hospital midwife asked for Stephanie's contact information, which says a whole lot. In the weeks afterward, Stephanie was also an amazing resource for all things post-partum. She's also the main reason why I'm still breastfeeding despite getting off to a rocky start. Hiring her was the best decision we made. I can't imagine Anika's birth without Stephanie, which should indicate how fundamental she ended up being."


"My husband and I needed to terminate a pregnancy when we learned that our fetus was not viable. This was about 18 weeks in. It was a deeply upsetting, surreal time, and it was difficult to get all the information we wanted from our medical professionals about how best to proceed. We'd previously chosen Stephanie to be our doula, and when we wrote to her with our sad news she immediately became our best ally. She was forthcoming about the pros and cons of our options, gave us the information we needed to feel empowered, and most importantly supported our emotional experience -- something in short supply elsewhere. She was a profound comfort at a desperately difficult time. She also gave me practical tips for self-care that were invaluable in the healing process. It was an awful situation, but Stephanie made us feel like we could get through it, and with her help we did."


"I see that one mom on here said she'd go through labor again just to have an excuse to hang out with Stephanie. That is well put. Stephanie is totally wonderful, and I'm not really sure what we would have done without her. Going into labor for the first time, I had little idea what to expect, though our meetings with Stephanie did help prepare us. When it finally happened, I found it a huge comfort to be able to talk to and text with her, even before she came to physically join us. She answered so many questions during that time and was patient and alert to what was going on, but also respectful of my desire for alone time with my partner during the early part of labor. I was in labor for about 30 hours. When Stephanie showed up at our apartment after I'd been having contractions for 15 hours, she was resouceful, gentle, and sensitive in helping guide me through what was happening inside my body. What followed was a very long, dramatic night that included two trips to the hospital, a thick-skulled cab driver who, when we got stuck in traffic, kept suggesting we take the subway because (despite our telling him) he didn' get that I was in labor, and my almost giving birth, some hours later, in an Uber. There were dismissive interns at the hospital intake, and I was the only one on the floor going without an epidural, and thus screaming my head off. Stephanie guided us through it all, only leaving at 6 a.m., after our son was born, beautiful and perfectly healthy. I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated labor, which is actually quite difficult to do in a city where somewhere above 90 percent of women get epidurals. Without Stephanie, I would have had to be admitted earlier and likely would have been induced and/or medicated. Because of her, I was able to stay in the comfort of my home, relax in a bath when I needed to dilate, eat and drink as needed. I can't thank her enough. If I ever do it again, I'm calling her for sure."


"I can say without a doubt that hiring Stephanie was the smartest decision my husband and I made during my pregnancy. In our initial meeting, we both responded to her intelligence, sense of humor, expertise about all things related to maternal health, and high level of familiarity with NYC hospitals and healthcare providers. There was just an instant level of comfort that intensified throughout the pregnancy and in the days after our daughter was born. From the get-go, Stephanie was a font of valuable information, referring us to useful books, videos, links, and other birth resources. When I had a bout of bad back pain in my third trimester, she put me in touch with acupuncturists and massage therapist who helped clear it up right away. And when I ended up going 10 days past my due date, she checked in regularly and helped me stay sane -- which was not easy, believe me! Then there was the labor itself, which was very fast and intense. Somehow Stephanie beat us to the hospital even though we live in Manhattan and she's in Brooklyn. She confidently managed what otherwise could have been an overwhelming experience, helping us deal with the sometimes cranky hospital staff, coaching me through each and every contraction, and providing (literal) hands-on assistance once I got to the pushing stage. I ended up having a labor that was very close to what I’d hoped for, and while luck was of course a huge factor, so was Stephanie. I also know that whatever kind of birth I wanted, she would have helped me get there. She is completely non-judgmental, agenda-free and has a very practical, grounded approach to her work."


"I can't begin to describe what a fabulous job Stephanie did for us throughout my pregnancy.  I was high risk from the start, and Stephanie was a wonderful source of information and reassurance as we navigated a stressful pregnancy. When my water broke at 25 weeks, Stephanie provided us with comfort and support.  My husband kept in constant contact with her while I was on bed rest, and she guided me through delivery at only 29 weeks gestation. She gave me fabulous support and knowledge about pumping/breastfeeding while my son was in the NICU and after he came home. We cannot thank her or recommend her enough! She has a wonderful gift and we feel so grateful that she shared it with us during the most stressful (and happiest!) times of our lives."


 "Your search for a doula can end here. Period. Stephanie was a dream. The ultimate partner for my partner and I both before the birth of our now two year old daughter, during her delivery which came compete with some unexpected complications, and in the weeks and months following her birth. She is calm, cool, knowledgable and ultra decisive and professional and I think of her often as I venture into the world of pregnancy and delivery again with a hopeful baby number 2..just wish I could import her to london where I am now living. Best of luck, and know that by choosing Stephanie, you're choosing wisely."  


 "Best decision ever. My first baby was a surprise breech baby at 41 weeks that quickly resulted in a c-section hours later. When it came time for baby #2 I knew I wanted to try for a VBAC since I was a good candidate for one. Learning from my mistakes with baby #1, I surrounded myself with the best possible team to accomplish my goal. It really does take a village and Stephanie was an INTEGRAL part of mine. She's super easy to talk to and clearly knows her stuff. I really enjoyed our chats at the pre-natal visits and felt that she knew exactly the right questions to ask and always had an answer for my (many) questions. I went almost 2 weeks over my due date and Stephanie was in constant contact with me to reassure me and provide guidance on the next steps since I was scheduled for an induction at the end of the week. Luckily that day never came and I went into labor at midnight the day before the induction was scheduled! Stephanie was texting with me from about 3am-5am when she rushed over to our house and rode with us to Mt. Sinai. Just like she predicted my labor stalled as we were checking in and instead we spent the morning laboring at a diner, in Central Park & finally up and down the median of Park Avenue! After checking in to the hospital we had to navigate a room situation, the US/Germany Soccer final & constant fetal monitoring. My labor stalled again around 6pm and it was Stephanie's suggestions that got it moving. When it came time to push she was right there explaining how to do it (not as intuitive as you would think!). There's so much more to the story, but I can honestly say I never would have accomplished a natural VBAC without her. The icing on the cake is that Stephanie knows a lot of people in the birth industry and is an invaluable resource after birth as well!"


"Stephanie is an amazing doula. My husband and I were admittedly skeptical about spending money on a doula, but Stephanie was worth every penny. We also had our doubts about having someone we didn't really know join us for such a momentous occasion in our lives - now we can't imagine not having had her there! When we hired her, we asked her to be our advocate at the hospital, to help my husband and I understand all protocols and procedures before and during labor and delivery, and because I wanted a vaginal delivery with no epidural, to help me dig deep when the going got tough. She did all of this and more. Thanks to Stephanie, I had the labor experience that I wanted. Even though I took classes and read books, when it came down to it, labor and delivery was a lot harder than I ever imagined, and there were times I didn't think I would have the strength to continue. Stephanie helped me to push past my known limits -  I honestly don't know if I could have done it without her. And because she was there, my husband remained calm during what could have been moments of high-stress, and was able to fully concentrate on supporting me every step of the way.  Even my doctor (who has delivered thousands of babies) mentioned to me afterwards how impressed she was with Stephanie! Regardless of what type of labor and delivery experience you want, I highly recommend Stephanie. She takes the time to understand you and partner, and helps you to have the best experience possible. She has an open mind and a warm heart, and her calm and confident demeanor when labor and delivery gets intense (and it will!) is truly a gift. "


 "We cannot recommend Stephanie highly enough.  From the initial meeting to our post-birth visit, she provided us a constant energy, love and support.  Stephanie took much time in the pre-natal visits to get to know us and ensure we were aligned in what we wanted, what our ideal birth looked like and how we would approach labor. She posed potential scenarios to us to ensure we were as prepared as we could be (these conversations ultimately helped us tremendously as we navigated a long birth).  She spoke directly to my husband, ensuring she could support him in a way that allowed him to have the role he wanted in our birth. We were a little overdue and Stephanie recommended a really good acupuncturist and other mechanisms to cope in the last few days.  When the time came, Stephanie was on call through the night, giving us tools & information when we needed it and instilling a calm confidence in us, from the very first sign of labor.  Our birth lasted over 2 days and the path took many unexpected twists and turns.  At every fork in the road, Stephanie was there, with continued support; she helped us articulate questions for the doctor and nurses, reminding us that we were empowered to make decisions right for us, wiped tears and shared in every joy.  She went above and beyond any expectation we had, she slept on the hospital floor, massaged, physically & emotionally supported us more than we could have known was necessary.  In addition to labor support, she has offered support in the first weeks of breastfeeding and in baby wearing that have all proven invaluable.  We are certain it was her presence that allowed us to truly experience the birth of our beautiful daughter! We are confident she will be part of our life for many years to come!"


"Stephanie was really exceptional from the moment of her first visit — before we had our baby — through the labor and delivery, and afterwards with her post-partum care.  It’s hard to describe just how crucial Stephanie’s role has been in keeping me (and my husband) calm and reassured through this happy, emotional, exhausting and daunting process. She’s knowledgeable, kind, caring and very practical and trustworthy.  Several times before and after the birth I was taken by surprise with problems I didn’t understand.  Stephanie was available immediately by phone, she was patient and careful, and she gave unstinting support until the problems were resolved.  She offered excellent, careful advice, and also helped me to get information from my doctor that I needed and hadn’t been able to obtain. My labor was very intense, including a photo-finish car ride from Brooklyn to St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital at 2am.  I was freaked out and in agony.  Stephanie knew exactly what to say to guide me through what seemed like unendurable pain and fear, I don’t think I could have got through those hours without her. After the birth Stephanie went above and beyond her official duties in coming to the hospital to help with feeding.  She helped us out at home during the first few weeks, and it was amazing having her.  She organizes the house and the baby in a proactive, calming, non-stressful way.  She made everything nice and orderly, from the laundry to the meals to the baby herself.  I felt like I could stop worrying about things and totally recharge when she was around, which is a major achievement in the first weeks of new motherhood. Being pregnant and having Baby Halcyon was very exciting, wonderful and joyful, but it was also scary and unpredictable.  Our life before and after Halcyon’s birth would have been much, much more fraught without Stephanie, I can’t say enough how great she was".


"As a first time mom, I was very nervous thinking about how I would handle going into labor and giving birth. Stephanie was referred to me by a friend so I contacted her. As soon as I spoke to Stephanie on the phone, I instantly felt calmer. Stephanie was wonderful during the prenatal visits. She provided us with important techniques for coping with labor and was always professional and reassuring. When I was in labor, Stephanie knew just what to say to ease my tension.  After the birth of our son, my husband and I agreed, that having Stephanie with us was the best decision we could have made. She offers a reassuring and soothing presence and I would recommend her 100% to any woman looking for a warm, non judgmental, supportive, knowledgeable doula".


"As a first time father, I was offered a lot of advice. Some of it solicited some unsolicited. Interestingly enough, no one ever suggested getting a doula. After my experience with Stephanie, I feel very strongly that it was a great decision and a wonderful experience. Stephanie was not only an extremely helpful person during my wife's labor, she was also great before it all happened, answering questions, listening to our requests and offering guidance. The day my wife went into labor, Stephanie was just as excited as we were when we called her to let her know. She offered recommendations on how to best cope, reminding us that she can be with us as soon as we felt it was necessary. It wasn't long before she was in our apartment, helping both my wife and and me during the moments leading up to the birth of our child. Even keeled and observant of all of my wife's various needs, Stephanie also reminded me of my role and my need to take care of myself in order to be at my best for my wife. She went the extra mile and felt like a helpful family member as most of our family were miles away. It was a very real pleasure and if we are fortunate enough to have another child I would want her there as doula to our second child!"


"We had a wonderful experience with Stephanie.  She was so warm and encouraging, and she was available for us the whole time during my three days of labor.  She was in our apartment for many of those hours, and spent a good 20 hours in the hospital.  She is a trooper, and so much fun!   She always kept me on track with eating and drinking, and kept me focused on the final goal the whole time.  I definitely think her encouragement and interactions with the hospital staff helped me to avoid a c-section.  She even helped us do the breast crawl after our baby was born, it was so exciting!  My husband and I cannot recommend her enough!"


"My husband and I were so grateful to have Stephanie by our side throughout my labor and delivery.  She was an extremely knowledgeable resource and helped me to make educated decisions.  She supported my husband so that he could support me.  I think that her presence was an integral part of establshing and maintaining a calm atmosphere throughout the labor process.  I can truly say that I would not have changed a thing about the birth of our child, and I would highly recommend Stephanie to others looking for a doula."


"Stephanie was, and continues to be, an incredible support for my husband and I.  Our first birth experience was stressful going from a home birth to a cesarian 6 years ago.  This time we chose to try for a VBAC in a hospital setting but knew almost nothing about navigating hospital dynamics.  Stephanie was calm, kind, bright and skilled at helping us through the process, giving us plenty of thoughtful advice before, during and after the birth of our second son.  Her commitment to our agreed upon wishes remained stable throughout what is invariably an intense moment.  After our positive experience we hired Stephanie as a post-partum doula and have been so fortunate to have her support!  She is truly gifted with infants and mothers alike.  We can't recommend her enough!!"