What can I say! Courtenay is wonderful! I remember the birth of my first child like it was yesterday. Courtenay was my doula for that one as I delivered my son in the hospital (She actually ended up catching the baby because the doctor was a bit too late). I was so glad to have her there with me. She gave me confidence in knowing my body could do exactly what it needed to do to have a baby. I was encouraged every step of the way! I was able to make informed decisions at a time that was most important to my husband and I. We are very grateful for the support we received from her. And it didn't end after the baby was born. She gave so much support for months following the birth. We decided to put or confidence in her as our midwife for the births of our next two children. I felt safe and very much at peace with our decision. With Courtenay's support and care we had two successful water births at home. I can't thank you enough, Courtenay, for all you have done for my family and I!
We love you!
I met Courtenay face to face for the first time at a Mom’s night out, about 6.5 years ago. I was coming to the tail end of my struggle with breastfeeding my first daughter. Although I did not know Courtenay personally, I knew her from online, and knew that she had a great knowledge of breastfeeding. I pleaded my case to her and she had many kind words. At that point, feeling like a failure, her words were soothing. Unfortunately, my breastfeeding problems were not fixable due to maternal congenital issues, so Courtenay suggested donor milk. At the time, my family was not ready to use donor milk.
A few weeks passed, discussions were had at home, and my daughter continued to struggle with illnesses and temperament issues. Finally, we made the decision to use donor milk. Courtenay was instrumental in helping to provide information and support as we sought out milk for my daughter. She offered advice, information, and encouragement. My first daughter finally began to thrive and blossom. She was a different child. It was beautiful to watch her grow with breast milk. Now at 7 years old, she knows that babies do best with mothers milk.
Two children later; we have continued to rely on Courtenay for support with breastfeeding. With her support, all three of my children have had breast milk. My second child had breast milk nearly into her second year and my last child will be the same. With her wonderful support and encouragement, my last child nursed at the breast with donor milk for 11.5 months. This is unheard of with a mother with chronic diagnosed low supply!
Every time I had a question or hit a bump in the road, Courtenay answered my questions nearly immediately. Not only did she have solid advice but she also always gave words of encouragement. Courtenay teaches her clients with methods that are easy to understand with clear communication. She has the mindset that mothering is a beautiful thing that also requires support. She provides that support whenever possible. It is very easy to say that not only is Courtenay passionate about what she does; she is also educated, informative, and patient with her clients.
~ Michelle Renee
“Amazing” is the word I use to describe my experience with Courtenay. She is so knowledgeable, far beyond birth support. I met Courtenay in 2011 when I was looking for a Doula to support my first birth, at a Hospital. It was like love at first sight! From our first meeting, I knew that her knowledge would be very impactful in my life. Sure enough, I have learned so much from her! I successfully birthed two healthy babies with no medications or interventions. Courtenay is also very knowledgeable about breastfeeding. Thanks to Courtenay, I have been able to breast milk feed and breastfeed my two babies. Words cannot explain how much I respect and admire Courtenay. I highly recommend her to anyone that might be looking for support during birth and beyond. She is worth every penny and more!!!!
Dad's Point of View:
Courtenay has been a source of both information and comfort before, during, and especially after the births of our children. During the first few days after welcoming our first child, we had many questions and challenges with adjusting to her schedule. Courtenay provided not only the needed support that comes with being new parents (the how and what questions and answers that come with nursing, sleeping, bathing, etc…) but also the emotional support and introductions to other groups. The saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes someone with sagely knowledge to know who in the village are the experts. Courtenay is that sage when it comes to birthing.
"She is so calm and patient, yet not afraid to speak up and advocate when needed. She is definitely the midwife or doula you want on your team, standing next to you, cheering you on, and supporting you through whatever happens. She will always have you and your baby’s best interests at heart."
I have known Courtenay for three years now, since I was pregnant with my first daughter. She came very highly recommended as a doula from my hypnobirthing instructor. She spent a lot of time informing us of typical hospital protocol, fine-tuning our birth plan to ensure hospital staff treated us and our baby as we wished, and answering any questions we had. Courtenay was the most essential part of my natural hospital birth. She was right by my side offering sips of water when I didn’t have to say I was thirsty, putting cold washcloths on my forehead and neck when I didn’t know that was an option for cooling off. When hospital staff asked me a question, I remember barely shaking my head no, as baby was crowning. No one noticed I had answered the question except Courtenay. She was my voice when I physically could not speak. That is just one example of the detailed attention Courtenay pays to you. She helped foster my beautiful breastfeeding experience with my daughter’s first latch, immediately after birth.
My first birth went so smoothly, I knew I wanted and was capable of a home birth for my second baby, with Courtenay as my midwife. She was available by phone, email and text with any questions and concerns I had throughout my second pregnancy and after. I will never forget the first time we heard my baby’s heartbeat. It took a really long time, as she was VERY squirmy. Courtenay was so patient. My husband wasn’t able to be at this appointment and Courtenay videotaped the sound with her cell phone and sent it to my husband. What a treasure! This is just another example of Courtenay’s kindness. Fast forward to birthing day, and I will never forget Courtenay on the phone with my husband reading over the emergency home birth instructions, as this labor and birth were very fast. She was so calm with him, walking him through everything he might need to know. I cannot imagine that day without thinking of Courtenay and her attentiveness. Courtenay knows everything there is to know about babies, birthing, pregnancy and breastfeeding. She is so calm and patient, yet not afraid to speak up and advocate when needed. She is definitely the midwife or doula you want on your team, standing next to you, cheering you on, and supporting you through whatever happens. She will always have you and your baby’s best interests at heart. I am very blessed to have had Courtenay as my doula and midwife, and even more blessed to be able to call her my friend. Sincerely, ~ Jennie Cadotte February 5, 2014
"After the course, I was so confident that I could do it naturally, and was actually excited for the birth. "
Courtenay's birthing class literally changed the course of my life. I was so nervous about giving birth before I started Courtenay's class. I knew I wanted a natural birth but had no idea how to achieve it. After the course, I was so confident that I could do it naturally, and was actually excited for the birth. Courtenay's approach to natural lifestyle and coaching have inspired me to make sure that I'm making the healthiest choices for my family. Thank you, Courtenay, for the impact that you've had on my and my family's lives.
When I discovered I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I knew that I wanted to have a home birth. I had previously had 2 unmedicated, natural hospital births, and both of them were great experiences. However, I knew that the hospital would still give me more of a fight on many "standard" procedures that I just didn't want or need. I also really wanted to have my 2 daughters present at the birth, and being at home in a tub just sounded so nice. My husband and I met with Courtenay, who came highly recommended, and we went ahead with our plan for a home birth. It was so nice to have Courtenay come to my house for all the prenatal visits, especially with a busy 5 and 3 year old running around. She spent so much time with us at each visit; we were really able to cultivate a relationship that you would never be able to have with another practitioner in an office setting. I could call, text, or email her with any kind of question or concern, and I think she was much more thorough than the CNM's I saw during my first 2 pregnancies. That is true with the post partum care also - so much more attention. The birth of my son in December of 2013 was exactly the experience that I wanted. My labor was progressing, but it seemed to be on the slower side. Little did I know, things were going to speed up rather quickly. When it was time for her to come, I was hoping that she would make it, but she made it in plenty of time. Courtenay's presence was very calming, which I think my husband needed a little more than I did. She was really able to make sure that I was cared for while still allowing my husband to be so involved. My daughters were there as well, and it was such a wonderful, family experience. I am so grateful to Courtenay for the care we received.
My husband and I took Courtenay's child birth ed class! We loved it and learned so much! Her class helped us achieve the natural birth that we wanted! Knowing everything we learned made the birth of our son the most enjoyable day of our life!
Breastfeeding Support, Childbirth Education, Doula, Midwifery!...
I had originally contacted Courtenay to find a local Breastfeeding Support Group. My daughter, Britta, was pregnant and she knew that she wanted to breastfeed. I wanted her to have as much bf support as possible beforehand and someone she could go to if she needed help that I could not provide. When I explained to Courtenay that my daughter was only 15 and pregnant, she was overwhelmingly supportive.
When Britta and I decided to take Courtenay's Childbirth classes, we had no idea that it would change our way of thinking about birth in such a dramatic way. After trying to discuss test results with Britta's OB, and seeing how the doctor dismissed her as just a typical pregnant teen and me as an interfering mother... Britta decided she wanted to have a home birth and have Courtenay as her doula.
I cannot even begin to thank Courtenay enough for being there for Britta and keeping her focused through out her labor and delivery. When Britta was at the end stages of labor and feeling like she could not go on, Courtenay was her calm, telling her "You're doing it!" Baby Izabella entered this world, at home, surrounded by family and friends. I am so happy that Courtenay is now a midwife and so super excited that she will be caring for Britta's current pregnancy!
I first met Courtenay in 2008 when I was pregnant with my first child and decided to take her childbirth classes. During these classes, I was impressed with both her knowledge and passion for birthing. Shortly after completing her class, I decided to hire her as my birth doula for a hospital birth. Courtenay was an invaluable asset at my daughter's birth. I appreciated her calming presence and words of encouragement. I felt she really went the extra mile for me after the birth as well. My daughter was born at 4 a.m. and I was unable to get sleep all day in the hospital, so Courtenay came to the hospital at midnight and held my daughter for a few hours so I could sleep. She was also very helpful when I was having difficulty getting her to nurse, providing encouragement and sending reinforcements to visit me when I felt insecure.
I kept in touch with Courtenay from time to time over the next few years, and when I became pregnant with my second child in 2011 I knew I wanted a homebirth and wanted Courtenay as my midwife. I had complete confidence in her. I loved working with Courtenay throughout the pregnancy. I never had to leave the house for a single prenatal or postpartum visit and each appointment felt more like a visit from a friend, than a "doctor" appointment. Although I had a CNM for my first birth, I really felt like my standard of care was infinitely higher with Courtenay. She would spend considerable time talking to me each visit, making sure I was taking care of myself properly, but also just building the trust relationship that is so important when you are giving birth. I truly felt the "with woman" meaning of the midwifery model of care with her. My pregnancy, birth and postpartum period was so much more relaxed because of Courtenay.
The birth of my son in 2012 was a crazy, intense experience that started slow and ended very quickly. Because of that, Courtenay arrived just in time for crowning, although we had been speaking very regularly throughout my early labor leading up to the birth. My son had a loose cord around his neck, and she was able to safely somersault him out without any issues. Because of how quickly my labor went once I went active, Courtenay promised me at that birth that the next time I'm pregnant, she will come when I am in early labor and will bring her pajamas. I have every intention of making her keep that promise! I highly recommend Courtenay for any of your birth related needs, whether it be childbirth education, doula services, or homebirth midwifery care.
"...one of the best decisions we ever made!"
My husband and I took Courtenay's birthing class and it was one of the best decisions we have ever made! My birth experience would not be what it was without her knowledge. She made us feel equipped and ready to have a beautiful natural birth. We felt in control about the whole process because of what we learned in class.
I was referred to her class by a friend when i was 22 weeks pregnant. I was in a situation where I felt my OBGYN was not listening to me and respecting my wishes for a vaginal birth. I came right out and asked what their c-section rate was and they told me one in three! I was shocked and scared. Courtenay met with me and suggested I think about changing from my OB to a midwife group which was more likely to provide the kind of care I was looking for. I did make the change and I couldn't have been happier! I felt like I was more in control of my own birth, through the whole process. The birthing class with Courtenay helped my husband gain knowledge to be able to coach me and talk to the staff when I couldn't. There was a point in my birth when he called Courtenay from the hospital to ask her for her advice! When all was said and done, I gave birth to my baby vaginally without any drugs or interference from the staff except the midwife's support and catching my baby in the end. I love my birth story and I'm so proud that we took the extra steps to prepare ourselves with Courtenay.
I also turned to Courtenay after the birth for breastfeeding support. She came to my home that same day and helped correct my latch for breast feeding. I'm so blessed That I have this amazing experience to share and cherish!
"I highly recommend this class for all new parents that care about the health of the mother and baby during child birth."
I am a very busy business woman with 2 companies and often get teased that I never drive more than 2 miles from my house to do anything not related to my work. I drove about an hour each way during mostly winter months for 10 weeks of birthing class. It snowed for at least 6 of our weeks. And yet I never once regretted signing up for this class. This is a huge deal for me. It made us both feel so ready for the birth of our son. We were health conscious people but knew nothing about prepping to birth a child. I had no idea that they would immediately apply antibiotic ointment to my brand new baby's eyes that would make his vision blurry to treat an illness I could not possibly have given him since we didn't have it. I am pretty strong willed and vocal and yet this class still taught me how to speak up for myself and my new baby with receiving medical treatment. I highly recommend this class for all new parents that care about the health of the mother and baby during child birth.
I've known Courtenay for almost 5 years now, since my husband and I hired her to be our doula for the birth of our daughter in 2009. Although the birth did not happen as planned (c-section), Courtenay was still a great source of support and knowledge. Even in the months and years after my daughter was born, I still called, texted, and e-mailed Courtenay on a regular basis with all sorts of first time breastfeeding mama questions, and then some! She always answered my questions thoughtfully, and when she was unable to help, called on her large network of natural health resources to help me find answers.
Fast forward to 2012 and I found myself pregnant again, this time I knew things would be different and I was thrilled to know that Courtenay was now a practicing midwife! While we did choose a dual care model through the first & second trimesters, once we made the final decision to homebirth and dropped the traditional secondary care, we never looked back! Courtenay is caring, an excellent listener, stays informed on current care practices, and really wants nothing more than for the best possible outcome for a mother and her baby. She helped me to understand that if I wanted to have a healthy, normal birth, that first and foremost the responsibility was mine to take care of myself and my growing baby with the right nutrition and exercise. When I was anxious and unsure, Courtenay listened to me - she really heard me - and helped me sort out my options. Having a homebirth, a VBAC, was very important to me -assuming that it was a safe choice for my baby. Thankfully, it was, and I am forever grateful to Courtenay for helping us acheive it. The entire midwifery care model makes so much more sense to me now, especially having experienced it. It was so much more peaceful and I never felt like a number in a baby factory. Courtenay came to me! Especially post-partum, this makes a HUGE difference! And I received SIX post partum visits, not just the typical care model of one visit 6 weeks post partum. I felt truly supported as a mother, a woman, and a family. Though my home birth experience was not "picture perfect", it is one that I would gladly repeat over my hospital experience - so long as I could have Courtenay by my side. Her skilled care made an impact on my family that will never be forgotten and my husband and I wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone considering homebirth or seeking doula care.
"In under five minutes she was able to do what countless lactation consultants and doctors couldn't. She saved my breast feeding relationship with my son..."
Courtenay is one of the most intelligent and talented individuals I have ever met. When my son was born, he was tongue tied and could not make a proper latch. After his tie was clipped, he still could not latch because he was shield trained. It went like that for weeks. I could not get him latched dispite my best efforts. My supply started to dwindle because of the shield as well. Once I was able to get to Courtenay, she fixed months worth of issues in under five minutes. In under five minutes she was able to do what countless lactation consultants and doctors couldn't. She saved my breast feeding relationship with my son, and to this day still helps me. She has a fountain of information, and goes out of her way to help people. I was very lucky to meet her, and owe her a debt of gratitude for all she has done for me and my son.
Yours truely, Sandra Tyrrell
To whom it may concern:
I would like to recommend Courtenay Grabowski. I have known Courtenay in a variety of capacities for many years. She has given me wonderful support and information to help me with my breastfeeding needs. Additionally, she also attended my second child's birth as my personal doula. Her birth support was immeasurable and gave me the strength and courage to proceed with a natural birth. Courtenay is organized, efficient, extremely competent, and has an excellent rapport with people of all ages. Her communication skills, both written and verbal, are excellent. She is very knowledgeable in her field and very thorough in her research and advice. In summary, I highly recommend Courtenay for any position or endeavor within the midwifery field that she may seek to pursue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely, Kerri Ginter
To Whom It May Concern:
I was recently asked to reflect upon my recent pregnancy and childbirth experience with Courtenay Grabowski. I would gladly sing the praises of her hard work and kind attention and would highly recommend her birth services to anyone willing to listen!
During my last pregnancy, Courtenay assisted as both doula and midwife’s assistant. Looking back on the experience, her presence was invaluable. While I was pregnant, it was Courtenay who offered websites and books that would help me prepare for my upcoming birth. Her knowledge on the subjects of pregnancy and birth seemed endless and she often taught me new facts I hadn’t read or heard. At prenatal visits, I was impressed with her professionalism, attention to detail, and organization. She offered a loving word or a kind touch and appeared to always be eager to learn more from my midwife. As a friend, I felt comforted and loved by her. I always knew she would be available to lend an ear or offer advice.
I was due to give birth on October 16, 2007, but instead my water broke on October 17, 2007. After a quick call to our midwife, I received a call from Courtenay, checking to see how I felt. Her attitude was excited and interested, not at all imposed upon (despite the fact that she already had dinner plans for the night!). We talked about my progress and determined that we would keep in contact with her to see how things were going. Shortly thereafter, my labor accelerated dramatically and began progressing quickly. Courtenay was called and she quickly abandoned her plans and began her trek to our home.
The birth – though my second – was terrifying to me. I didn’t know what to expect, as I’d had a long, medicated, hospital birth for my first child. Labor progressed so rapidly that I was alone and afraid and desperately seeking answers. My husband and Courtenay kept in regular contact while she made the 45-minute drive from her home to ours. I vaguely remember hearing them talking and reflecting on my progress while I birthed in our pool. At one point while I was moving around our home and in our birth pool, I began to feel my son’s head emerge. The uncontrollable urge to push overcame me while we were still alone in our house. I was frantic and begging for someone to help when – just in the nick of time – Courtenay walked through the door. Immediately, she brought a calming presence. Her skill and professionalism soothed my panic and she assured me that the birth was progressing normally. She assessed the situation and assured me that, yes, it was my son’s head, and everything would be fine. Knowing she was present calmed me; she immediately took over the situation and made sure we were prepared. I was in good hands until our midwife arrived.
As the pain intensified and I began to get upset, she calmed me by vocalizing into my ears. She sat right on the floor in front of me and held me while I birthed. Of all the people present that night, it was Courtenay that I focused on. She was calm, cool, collected, and happy. She was “in her element,” right where she belonged. Our midwife did arrive, just in time to deliver our son. But it was Courtenay who was there during my labor cheering me on, encouraging me when I thought I would fail. It was Courtenay who brought a voice of knowledge and a calm reassurance.
I will never forget Courtenay’s encouragements later that night after the birth. She climbed right onto our bed beside me and admired our new baby. She assisted me in beginning our breastfeeding relationship and told me how proud she was of me for birthing my eleven pound baby at home. It still warms my heart when I hear her voice that night saying, “You rock!” It was exactly what I needed to hear.
Following the birth, my midwife was out of town. As such, Courtenay conducted all of my postnatal follow-up visits. She, once again, was knowledgeable, interested, and professional. She seemed genuinely interested in my progress and well-being. In fact, when my son had difficulties with dehydration at 4 days old, Courtenay kept in regular contact and helped me find the research I needed to determine whether or not my son was sick. She referred me to take him to the hospital and talked me through the processes. Not many other health professionals would call your home at nine o’clock on a Sunday evening and send you article links just to help prepare you for a hospital visit!
Courtenay’s presence at my son’s birth last October was absolutely invaluable. She was calming, soothing, professional, and knowledgeable. She helped make the experience beautiful, serene, and exciting. Knowing she was present allowed me to relax, knowing I was in good hands. I would highly recommend Courtenay Grabowski’s birth services to anyone even remotely interested in having a doula present. It is a decision you will never regret!
Jennifer L. Salowitz
"Through everything - pre-natally, during labor and birth, and post-partum - I felt encouraged, educated, and supported to make the best decisions to have a safe and wonderful birth..."
I remember meeting you at La Leche League long before I became pregnant with Olivia - you immediately inspired confidence in me. Confidence that I could trust my body to feed my child. Confidence that a natural birth is best for mom and baby, and that it's not only possible, but also an amazingly wonderful experience. By the time I learned I was pregnant, I immediately knew I wanted your help through this pregnancy and birth. I knew that there might be special considerations because I desired a VBAC - vaginal birth after cesarean - and I knew that I would need a knowledgeable, trusted person by my side.
I was grateful for all the pre-natal talks we had - from information and education, to the consistent reassurance that "fat squishes" whenever I became nervous about birth. Most of all, I appreciated your unfailing support that I COULD do this. And that's to say nothing of your talk with Larry - hearing someone else tell him that I shouldn't be cooking meals, cleaning the house, and doing the grocery shopping was music to my ears!
I can't imagine birthing Olivia without you. I remember when our midwife told me I was only dilated to 3cm after 6 hours of intense, close contractions. I was devastated. But you who reminded me a lot of work had already been done. Your words gave me the strength I needed to press on. Then, when Olivia got stuck on her way out, and then didn't breathe, I was scared. Everyone was at my feet with Olivia, helping her, but you were with me. You told me to breathe deep, to relax, to talk to my baby - you cared for me so everyone else could care for Olivia.
I was so grateful for your support with breastfeeding once we were home. Coming over to check Olivia's latch, asking your chiropractor to drive an hour out to my home to adjust her, and asking another La Leche League Leader to come to our home provided the right combination so she could nurse effectively.
Through everything - pre-natally, during labor and birth, and post-partum - I felt encouraged, educated, and supported to make the best decisions to have a safe and wonderful birth.
To say "thank you" simply doesn't seem adequate, but I have no other words. THANK YOU!
"Over and above..."
Courtenay went over and above in the amount of time she spent in person and on the phone with me, and not only did I learn a great deal of information about pregnancy and childbirth, she is also the one who suggested to me that a home-birth experience could be a reality for me. I was very glad I went down that road. While I did choose to go to the hospital (after 3 days of labor at home!), Courtenay was a valuable advocate during childbirth while I was there.
"Navigated through tough circumstances with informed...decision making!"
...Even though we sacrificed a great deal of our birthplan, we were thrilled with the results...we delivered vaginally; Kristi only tore a little; Joel was immediately alert and active; Kristi nursed Joel shortly after birth; Joel was able to stay with us the whole time (never did go to the nursery!); I got to coach; we were well-informed as your students and got to navigate through tough circumstances with informed and cooperative decision-making. We owe so much to your teaching.
-Jim and Kristi M.
In 2006, my husband and I were fortunate to have Courtenay as our doula for the birth of our first child. We used the Bradley Method of natural childbirth, and had a textbook-perfect, drug-free birth -- due, in large part, to Courtenay. Her calm, gentle suggestions were accepted easily by everyone involved, and her serenity and confidence made everything flow smoothly. I could focus on her voice when other stimuli became too overwhelming, and her quiet determination to be my advocate when I couldn't speak was invaluable. She was also SO helpful after Rhianna's birth, with breastfeeding and general advice on everything under the sun, and did a great job of checking up on us to quietly watch for any postpartum problems without alarming us. In fact, we were so happy with her, that when we later needed someone caring and trustworthy to watch our daughter during the day, she was the first person we contacted! I can't imagine having had my daughter without her help.
Encouraging, caring, and supportive...
To whom it may concern,
I met Courtenay Grabowski at my first La Leche League meeting. I was a young pregnant teen, but I was sure that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. Courtenay made me feel right at home from the moment I met her. When it came time for birthing classes, I decided to enroll in Courtenay's ten week class. Wow, talk about a lot of reading. But it was so worth it. I learned so much about having a healthy pregnancy and birth, and how to decide what was best for me and my unborn baby when it came time for delivery. I knew that having Courtenay as my doula, she would help to make sure that my intended birth plan would be followed as much as possible. I started having problems with my obstetrician ; such as unnecessary tests, the doctor ignoring my questions or concerns, and basically treating me as just another statistic. It was then that I decided I wanted to have a home birth. Courtenay was caring and supportive throughout my decision making and even helped us find a wonderful mid-wife.
When my due date came and went, Courtenay was there to ensure me that I would not be pregnant for 49 years. : ) The next evening I started having a few contractions so I called her to let her know. She told me that this was most likely pre-labor and to get some rest while I could. Courtenay kept in contact with my mother to see how things were progressing. By Monday morning my contractions were almost unbearable so Courtenay came to the house while we waited for Stacia, our mid-wife. Around the time Stacia arrived, my labor began to slow down. Courtenay encouraged me to keep active by taking walks. When Sacia checked the postion of the baby and found that she had moved into a transverse postion Courtenay suggested a chiropractor who I now realize I should have gone to see weeks before. After seeing the chiropractor my labor quickly progressed. During transition Courtenay was there to keep me focused and help me through every contraction. When my labor became so painful and I felt I couldn't go on Courtenay was by my side to keep me calm and ensure me that I was doing a wonderful job. Because of Courtenay's support and encouragement I was able to give birth to my daughter in a calm stress-free environment.
To anyone considering a birth doula I would highly recommend Courtenay Grabowski.
I am so happy we found Courtenay. I was able to have an AMAZING birth experience that I will cherish forever and I credit a lot of it to her.
I knew I wanted a doula b/c my sister had one at her birth in Ohio. I was there for the whole thing and got to watch her doula in action. I knew I wanted a drug free birth and I wanted support, encouragement, and just someone who knew what was going on as this was our first! So I began my search - for a doula and for the right place for me to have my child. I began asking around and also began checking out websites. I was very impressed w/ Courtenay's site... so my husband and I ended up meeting her for coffee. She was perfect, and I highly recommend Courtenay as a doula. She is fun, friendly, extremely knowledgeable, and just an all around great person.
We decided to give birth at the Alternative Birthing Center in Southfield (which i also highly recommend - loved the place.) Courtenay had met w/ us a few times, to go over our birth plan and to talk about post-partum issues. Each meeting was low key, enjoyable and informative. I tested positive for Strep B at one midwife appointment and Courtenay helped me navigate my options. She also lent us some really cool birth DVD's, which we loved.
Our due date was April 11th....and that came and went. Baby came April 17th, and Courtenay came to my house to help me labor. I was having pretty extreme back labor and she offered some great techniques that helped me get through it. We labored at the house for quite awhile until she decided it was time to head to the ABC. When I got there I was already 7 cm dilated, which was awesome!!
When it came time to push she was right there coaching me in my ear... I was exhausted and discouraged at this point, doubting myself and my ability to get the baby out. She was a HUGE help - telling me to breathe, getting me water, encouraging me. I had a ton of people in the room (husband, mom, sister, mother-in-law) plus the 2 nurses and midwife... but she was instrumental in helping me not freak out. It felt at one point like I might have a panic attack, 2.5 hours of pushing was insane, but she helped me remain calm. And when the baby FINALLY came out - she was right there helping him latch on right away. I have inverted nipples and I had expressed concern about nursing. She was fantastic at helping us have an amazing start/bonding experience.
I am so happy we found Courtenay. I was able to have an AMAZING birth experience that I will cherish forever and I credit alot of it to her.
From the first day we walked into your house for our Childbirth Education class, I knew that I was in the presence of someone who valued natural birth for all the right reasons
I started this letter a long time ago, but somehow the distractions of motherhood have prevented me from finishing it until now. I vowed to send it to you before Katja turned one year old, and here it is, finally, better late than never!
I wanted to take the time to let you know how much John and I appreciated the support you provided as our doula in Katja’s birth. We had a beautiful birth experience and I’m not sure how it could have gone more smoothly if I had scripted it myself. While I am one of the lucky ones who had no complications, it was still the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not sure I could have made it through without you.
From the first day we walked into your house for our Childbirth Education class, I knew that I was in the presence of someone who valued natural birth for all the right reasons – health of mother and baby first and foremost, but also for all of the psychological and long-term benefits that area so difficult to quantify. You shared not only your knowledge but your passion for beautiful, natural childbirth and the immense satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have delivered a new life into the world the way nature intended.
I always knew that I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated birth but I did not realize how critical it was to be aware of the potential decisions we might be faced with, and knowledgeable about the options available to us (particularly when to say “no” to medical interventions). You helped us craft a birth plan and prepare mantally and physically for the birth we wanted, but also set us up to handle less-than-perfect situations. Despite all of our preparations, and the fact that my very supportive mother would be present at the birth, we finally decided that we would feel most comfortable having you by our side. I have never regretted that decision.
Early labor began for me at 4am on a Saturday morning. I called you around 9:00am to alert you to the situation and you promptly cancelled your plans for the day. My labor progressed in textbook-like fashion, but I was surprised by how intense my contractions were quite early on. A few times I wondered if I would be able to handle all of this if it went on for too long. I followed your advice and remained up and active, carrying on my normal routine without over-exerting myself. John ad I took a walk around lunchtime, but by early afternnon I was upstairs, feeling intense contractions, and unsure of how to make myself more comfortable. We called you and I said, “I’m not sure what to do,” at which point I still had the presence of mind to recall that this was exactly the sign you were looking for to indicate that your presence was needed!
You arrived promptly and immediately set to work helping me focus on relaxing, using the birthing ball, and eventually getting into our large soaking tub. I found some comfort in the water and my water broke in the tub, relieving some pressure that had been building. My contractions continued to come fast and strong, and a little while later you decided it was time for us to head to the hospital. Getting down the stairs, out the door, and into the car was a bit difficult, with several contactions along the way. I remember our drive to Troy Beaumont as something of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride,” with me on my hands and knees in the back of the car, telling John to slow down when he approached bumps and dips in the road!
Once at the hospital we had to deal with a less-than-understanding nurse in triage who asked a series of annoying questions while I was in the midst of a contraction. That was the only time I said a four letter word during the entire ordeal. The nurse actually had the nerve to ask, “Why didn’t you come to the hospital sooner?” In my mind I responded, “So I wouldn’t have to deal with people like you!” I was 6cm dilated at that point and all systems were go.
After that, things get a little blurry. I spent some time in the shower (I decided not to use the coveted tub because I realized it was not as large as my tub at home and would not have been comfortable for me), and ended up sitting on the toilet when the urge to push finally hit. I let out that first primal grunt and asked, shocked, “What was that?” I think you said something about the fetal ejection reflex, and now I totally understand why that term was coined! I made it over to the bed, which was set up with the birthing bar as I had requested. From then on, John was on my right side, supporting me (mostly physically), and you were on my left, encouraging me every step of the way. If I scrunched up my eyes, you reminded me to focus the pushing where it counts. If I was tensing up my shoulders, you helped me to relax those muscles. The pushing phase seemed to go on forever, when in fact it lasted just over an hour. I remember that the room was dark and calm throughout the whole process – and to think how worried I was that I was going to be in a room without a window view due to the construction at the hospital!
At just before 11 pm, about 18 hours after my labor began, Katja Sommer Pitelka Opfer was born. I will never forget you whispering in my ear, “You are a rock star!” I felt more like a much-abused piece of meat, but it meant a lot to me all the same. I had an internal tear that required some serious stitching, but you helped distract me by focusing on my nursing my beautiful girl, who latched on right away – and stayed on for over and hour! It wasn’t until we were finally settled into our recovery room that you went home – at some wee hour of the morning. Thanks to you, we knew exactly what to ask for in terms of Katja’s care, and she never left our sight while at the hospital.
In the days the followed, you helped us deal with Katja’s bout of jaundice by making sure we went to the hospital fully informed. With your guidance I was able to stick to my guns and avoid having Katja fed any formula, which was actually suggested by our pediatrician. Katja had a lot of trouble nursing as a result of the jaundice (she was very lethargic) and lost nearly a pound of her birth weight. We eventually had to resort to using a bottle to feed her breast milk until she recovered and began nursing normally again. In the ensuing weeks I suffered from thrush, painful cracked nipples, and plugged ducts, but you were always ready to give much needed advice and support. Today, nearly one year later, I am still nursing Katja four times a day and it has proven to be one of the most amazing and fulfilling aspects of my mothering experience.
I am indescribably proud of the fact that I brought my baby into the world without the unnecessary use of drugs or other medical interventions. I am at the same time deeply saddened that so many women in the world do not think that they are physically or mentally capable of giving birth the way nature intended. Thanks to people like you, who dedicate their lives to supporting natural childbirth, I hope that more women will learn that it is not just possible to give birth naturally, but also the best way – both for themselves and their babies. I for one will continue to share my story as often as possible, and encourage other women to experience the incredible joy of natural childbirth.
With my deepest thanks and appreciation,
Jessica Pitelka Opfer
Thank you Courtenay!
-Claudia and Wolfgang Scholten