Ep. 333 – Carson Meyer Birth Story – Informed Pregnancy Podcast
Elliot: Welcome to the Informed Pregnancy and Parenting Podcast. I’m your host pregnancy-focused chiropractor. Dr. Elliot Berlin. My guest today
Elliot: Welcome to the Informed Pregnancy and Parenting Podcast. I’m your host pregnancy-focused chiropractor. Dr. Elliot Berlin.
My guest today is a birth doula, an educator, nutrition consultant, skincare company founder, and now, brand new mom, Carson Meyer. Welcome back to the podcast. You’ve been here before.
Carson: Thank you so much. I have. But it’s been a while.
Elliot: Five years?
Carson: It’s been five years?
Elliot: Yes. Has anything changed?
Carson: So, much. Oh, my gosh. But I remember being like a newer doula when I came on your podcast. Yeah, so much has changed.
Elliot: And then, you rose to the top for a million reasons and you became like the most sought after doula. Let’s start at the beginning. Where are you from originally?
Carson: So, originally, I’m from Malibu, California. Now, I’m living in North Carolina, right outside of Ashville.
Elliot: How did they compare?
Carson: They’re very different. Both really special places with really special people and views. But I went from oceans to mountain. And, you know, Malibu is always very mellow. but I think it’s so close to LA and the life that I knew and grew up in. And so, this is just so new and so calm and relaxing.
Elliot: Do you miss the ocean?
Carson: I do. I mean, aside from my friends and family, that’s like I think the one thing that I don’t have here.
Elliot: Because you grew up in the ocean.
Elliot: Well, things change. Maybe Asheville will get a notion.
Carson: Maybe. At this rate, we might, you know.
Elliot: Sadly. So, you’re a birth doula, and you’re birth doula long before you’re a mom. How did that come to be?
Carson: Becoming a birth doula?
Elliot: Yeah. Like, was that an original, “Hey! I think I’ll be a birth doula.” Like when they say when you’re 15, what do you want to do when you grow up?
Carson: Definitely not. Well, I always say that I think it really started with my mom’s birth with me. Although I don’t remember it. I think that I was so drawn to the work when I found out what the work was because of my own story. So, it goes way back. But I went to NYU. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I was lucky enough to go to a school called Gallatin, where you just create your own major.
So, I was taking Women’s Health classes, alternative medicine, mind-body, eastern medicine. I was just taking my interest and bringing them together. And looking back, I didn’t know what a doula was. But so much of the curriculum that I had created pertained to the work I do today. And in one of my classes, they signed “The Business of Being Born,” which was the first, you know, like so many of us birth workers, I think the first introduction really to this work. And the first time I saw a video of birth that wasn’t the scary Hollywood depiction, and was really just taken aback. I realized my reaction to it was not normal. I’m not everybody cries and talks about it for months on end like I did.
And then, I moved back home. Met my partner, Jonathan, who, you know, now, the father of my child. But he invited me to a birthday party. And we were like a month into dating and I met a midwife, who was a friend of his. And it was the first time I met a midwife, Haley, who you know was not my gynecologist, or a birth worker, or somebody who got to do this work that I could relate to. And was like, “Oh, wow!” Like, I just was captivated by her. I stalked her all night. And she told me she had started as a doula. And then, I took the training and really never looked back. It’s just was a calling.
Elliot: It makes sense you’re both like so special and unique. There are certain things that are in your hard wiring. For both of you, it seems to me like this type of work is in your hard wiring. Like, it’s just like you were meant to do this. I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I tell people that about both of you, you and Haley Oaks, that there’s no question in my mind that in a previous life, you were an extremely busy and high demand midwife.
And then, I also have like the honor of being out of birth with you more than once. You’re like a little mouse in there so quiet but so powerfully supportive. To see something so gentle be so powerful is rare. And again, for both of you, long before you had kids.
Carson: Haley and I really had that in common, which I think was why meeting her was so impactful is. We’re both didn’t have kids and we were both young for the job. That was something I was so insecure about in the beginning, but it’s always nice to meet people who do the work without having none of them do the work themselves.
Elliot: Sometimes, you hear people, “I don’t want to do that who hasn’t been through it.” And then, both of you rose literally to the top of the demand chain because it’s so much bigger than that.
Carson: Yeah. I always say, you know, it’s not my journey. That’s I think it’s actually going to be harder now having had kids, to separate from it. I think there’s something so wonderful about a doula or midwife without kids is it’s never a projection. Not that if you have kids it is, but you have to do the work to step away from your own experience.
Elliot: I am honored that you came and that we’re going to talk about your birth experience. But I always wondered about both of those. Going into your birth having had so much experience at other people’s births. How that may or may not have affected you. Now, that you have your own experience, how that may or may not change your supporting of other people down the road.
You mentioned “The Business of Being Born.” That was more than any other film. That is when I asked somebody, “What are your birth intentions? How did they come to be? What kind of research did you do?” It’s the number one thing that people mention. It’s what sparked me. We just launched our streaming service Informed Pregnancy Podcast. It’s what really sparked me to want to do that is to have a home. Because people were saying, “I don’t know where to find it.” To have a home for that film, and other birth documentaries, and web series, and just build on that a whole community of entertaining and informational video content. And, of course, it’s so far, we just launched that. It’s the number one thing that people are watching. So, 15 years later.
Carson: Yeah. It’s so true. I have chills thinking about it. I know that they know, but I don’t even think they know the extent of the impact that the film had on people and their lives, and generations because of birth.
Elliot: Yes. So, many references even just on this podcast to people who said “The Business of Being Born” changed my life. Even though…
Carson: Your podcast, too! It’s so fun being in the age [unintelligible 07:09] and my friends are starting to go on their journey and their loving your podcast. Of course, my clients love it and I tell them to watch it. But it’s fun though like coming up in my social circles of friends being like, “I heard you on Dr. Berlin’s podcast,” or “I’m listening to this.” They’re coming to me, talking to me about birth for the first time because of you.
Elliot: Oh, thanks. I’m a tiny supporting role. But also, I work long hours. It’s like people have like, “How do you do 12 hours a day?” I’m just like, it’s the most crazy thing like I get to help people who are making humans, whatever it is that I’m putting in is the tiniest little ingredient in the mix. So, I feel honored to be a part of it and to be accepted into that world.
In addition to birth doula and education stuff, you also do some nutritional consulting. What’s your background there and what’s your approach?
Carson: Yeah. That’s a little bit newer for me. I started “Growing Together,” which maybe I’m skipping ahead. But that’s my virtual circle. My next one’s actually coming up in March. But it started early COVID, when I saw the isolation, lack of support and community and not having doulas in the hospital. So, I created this circle that is about 20 expecting moms. It’s so special. We go through everything from healthy pregnancy, nutrition, bodywork. Everything from in and out, the whole picture. Through preparing for birth, breastfeeding, postpartum.
And so, in that class, I started noticing I would talk about nutrition, which is a passion of mine and something that had played a huge role in my life. I was asking, “You know, how many of you are talking to your doctors about nutrition, or midwives? Or what do you know about gestational diabetes?” And every time, it was like one or two people would raise their hands. And they always had midwives. It was never as if they were with no [unintelligible 08:59].
I was like, yes, I’m passionate about this but I didn’t feel like I had formal training to be able to really support my clients in that area. But I know how important it is for life, but certainly for pregnancy. I was like, if this isn’t a conversation that’s going to be happening in the 10 minutes in your OB’s office, I want to be able to have those conversations.
So, I took a training online through the pandemic. And now, certified nutrition consultant for pregnancy and postpartum. And so, it’s something I just weave into the classes, and now, with my clients and then offer it separately as well. Because I now going through it myself, just know firsthand how big of a role it played in my journey.
Elliot: Yeah. I don’t know your specific approach, but it’s one of the things postpartum in particular that I see it’s one of the building blocks that gets lost sometimes where everything else is going on and so normally if you’re at least having great nutrition, your body can weather some of the other changes better. But that just falls apart, exercise falls apart, self-care in general falls apart, support’s not there.
I noticed something this week actually, just like a big epiphany. Because I’ve had several people want to do the 40 days postpartum, like home and not leave the house, which in some way seems quite beautiful and traditional, not just in one culture, but in many cultures. And so, it just seems like there’s a lot of logic there. But what I realized, the difference in Los Angeles anyway, is you’re self-isolating. It’s not like you’re not leaving your house a hundred years ago in a culture that did this where you lived with all your family and you were not leaving your space. But everybody else was there to support you, to cook you all these nutritional, rich foods, and to help with the baby and to support you if you were struggling in terms of lactation or anything else, make sure that you got plenty of rest.
I’ve now seen several people give up in the 40 days. I thought it was going to be amazing. I’m like, “Okay, day 26. I’m out.” And it’s just a different thing being alone without your family and without that kind of support is kind of more isolating and putting everything on yourself. So, I don’t know, maybe there’s a modern-day version of it.
But coming back to nutrition, that’s one of the things that gets lost. If you’re doing everything, that you put yourself last. My wife always says, you know, “On the airplane, you put your mask on before the baby’s mask in. In this sense too, you’re almost not helpful to the baby if you’re not taking care of yourself.”
Carson: Totally. And it’s easier said than done. That’s the tricky part of nutrition is you can know, you can talk about it, you can have an understanding for it, but you can’t just snap your fingers and it’s there. It needs to be, like you said, a foundation of support. Especially in those first 40 days when you have very little time to be, or nor should you be cooking for yourself.
Elliot: Yeah. Well, now, I want to take your nutrition class. Is there a separate nutrition — or is it one-on-one coaching?
Carson: I put the nutrition in “Growing Together,” but I don’t have a circle for nutrition yet. But it’s a great idea. Maybe I will. But right now, it’s just one-on-one.
Elliot: Amazing. Okay, last thing before we take a little break. You have skincare, “C & The Moon.”
Elliot: Now, tell me all about this. Because I love your products. And, I’m seeing that scrub everywhere now. When I go to homes, when I do a handful of home visits.
Carson: Oh, really? In your clients’ houses?
Elliot: Yeah. I see it like all, you know, step in to wash my hands on the restroom, it’s in their shower. It’s everywhere. I’m seeing it around.
Carson: That makes me so happy. Especially because it’s not a product specifically designed for pregnancy and postpartum, but you know where my heart is. It just makes me so happy that it’s adding a little bit if any like just nourishment and yumminess to that time. Especially, oh, my God, the dry skin postpartum is so real. And so, that scrub and the oil has been so helpful for me.
But, yeah, I created that around the same time actually I became a doula, is when I launched “C & The Moon.” And it’s a clean skincare line for minimalist like myself, who just want to feel good, and smell good, and have a yummy luxurious product without the whole 12-step ordeal. And was really born out of necessity. I was just making it at home in my kitchen and kind of grew a cult following. And here I am, and it’s been the journey I never expected to be a business owner. Because I’m like, we’re saying my heart and my calling is really in the birth work. But I like just learning so much and loving there’s a creativity in there that I really enjoy as well. And of course, just like you said, like knowing that people like it makes me so happy.
Elliot: Yeah. It’s like something so easy you can do for yourself. And your one-word description is perfect: yumminess. I just have dewy dry skin, dry guy skin, and I love it.
Carson: The guys, I always say the men will never buy it, but will steal if from the women’s shower. And so, I’m secretly just starting now to market towards the men. Because I swear, they’re my biggest fan.
Elliot: Yeah. It’s amazing. I don’t know, it’s like a treat. You feel good. It smells great. It feels great on the skin. And “yumminess” is the best possible description for it.
Where do you buy it? Is it only online?
Carson: Yeah. So, it’s online. On my website, which is candthemoon.com, and then Violet Grey also sells it. And then, there’s some detox markets and other stores across the country.
Elliot: candthemoon.com is good for me. I don’t have to leave the house. I can stay at home scrubbing some yumminess while the next set is on the way.
Alright. Let’s take a little break. When we come back, we’re going to talk about your pregnancy and then your birth. We’ll be right back.
Elliot: Welcome back. We’re talking to new mommy, Carson Meyer.
Alright. Let’s talk about kids. Is this the time you plan to have kids?
Carson: Yes, we definitely planned this. Looking way back in my life. I don’t know when or if I ever had a plan. But this time was very intentional and planned.
Elliot: When you all your birth work leading up to — I don’t know if you keep count, but it must be a big number. All your birth work leading up to your own pregnancy, did you ever find yourself thinking, “Wow, that’ll be me one day.”
Carson: Well, yeah, I knew I always wanted to have kids. And I think around — well, that’s not true actually. I think growing up, I was really scared. I know I was really scared. I remember saying many times, being super young like, “I’m never going to do that. That’s crazy. There’s baby all around. How they come out is crazy. Raising them is crazy. Like, not for me.” I felt very disconnected to the process, very terrified of it.
I think, like most women just was taught that. That was part of cultural conditioning. What sex ed taught me was just, “Be scared of this.” But around the time I became a doula, and once I started really learning about the process, that’s definitely when I got the bug. That’s when I always saw myself in it.
Elliot: Yeah. But more specifically, different moments of birth. Like even once you were into it. Especially because you had overcome sort of a mental fear of it. Did you see things where you’re like, “Gosh, that could be me and I want to avoid that,” or…
Carson: Oh, like certain birth scenarios.
Elliot: Yeah? Or other things like, “That’s the birth I want for me.”
Carson: Yeah. I think we all know in this work that like every birth is so different. Just like someone’s life, you can’t look at it and be like, “I want that exact scenario.” It’s just there’s so much packed into it that will always be unique. And so, I always tried to kind of keep that and remove myself from it. But, of course, you know there was certain births that I attended that definitely informed and inspired what I wanted from a birth experience. I say this all the time, and it’s so true, every single client of mine has taught me so much and I feel them all. I feel every birth, and baby and mom, and that journey with me in such a beautiful way and like did through my whole birth process and pregnancy. I feel like they really helped me through. Even the hard ones, right? Even the ones where I’m like, “Oh, man! I’m on my way to hell and back.” You know, like those even still that strength that they tapped into, I think and that I admire so much is like just that’s such a big part of my journey.
But, yeah I mean, you know, there was one birth. It was actually the last birth that I attended before giving birth myself. I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but she seemed like it was completely pain-free. It was the closest thing to an ecstatic, or orgasmic, or whatever you want to call it, birth I’d ever seen. And so, it was hard not to be like, “Okay, cool. I’ll just do that.”
Elliot: Oh, I mean I could see how that would make it tough, too. Because that’s not the most common birth, especially for the first one.
Carson: But I do feel like — and I don’t need to jump ahead if you’re going to ask about it. But even though my birth was far from an ecstatic birth, it was not pain-free or easy. It was like, in retrospect, my dream birth. And everything that I would have wanted from it.
Elliot: Color me curious. But before we get to that, how was pregnancy?
Carson: Pregnancy was great. Like I said before, I think the nutrition part really was huge. I’m so lucky Jonathan’s a great cook, and he put a lot of time and effort into nourishing me through food. And through that, I feel like I was able to avoid a lot of the — especially, the first trimester crap that comes up. I was tired. I had a funny taste in my mouth the whole time, and just kind of laid low a lot. But once I got past that 12 weeks, I felt amazing.
Elliot: Were there things that helped you nutritionally that you think during that time?
Carson: Definitely. I mean I think it’s eating frequently.
Elliot: In that case, I’ll be fine.
Carson: Yeah. Eating a lot and, yeah, blood sugar balance is big. Broths, lots of bone broths. Healthy fats. Just kind of minimizing processed foods and eating a lot at home. It was so wild noticing the difference when I ate out and when I ate at home. I don’t know what that was. That was like seed oils or just the love that was cooked with, but it was hard for me to eat out at restaurants.
Those were kind of the main things. But I was just incorporating a lot of ginger, and spices, and things that I knew were going to be supportive of that trimester but also of feeling good.
Elliot: What do you do normally for exercise, and did that change during pregnancy?
Carson: I’m not like a big exercise or — I love moving. That’s really important to me, but I was never like the soul cycle maniac or high-intensity interval girl. So, that was easy for me to ease into a pregnancy movement routine that wasn’t too different. I did a lot of just yoga, stretching. You know, just kind of self-led strengthening weights.
I really liked doing the Sculpt Society workouts that are like 20 minutes. I kind of would customize them. She has pregnancy ones, but even I would just do the normal ones and really listen to my body and kind of follow what felt good for me. I like to dance. I live on top of a 4,000-foot — well, mountains — not 4,000 feet, that I live on. But I’m at 4,000-feet altitude and the mountain is so steep. So, I walked up and down there. That was a huge part of my preparation. And then, once it got too cold and I got too big to do that every day, I started just walking on the treadmill and that was medicine.
Elliot: Yeah. I mean you can’t go surfing.
Carson: No surfing. I mean, I have friends who surf their whole pregnancy. I’m just not a good enough surfer for that.
Elliot: And you’re not that close to the ocean.
Carson: I’m not that close to the ocean.
Elliot: But I mean it just sounds like you just naturally like to move, be outdoors, and move.
Carson: Yeah. I know it’s good for me, but I do love it.
Elliot: In the second and third trimesters, with your body changes and the baby development, were there any highlights for you?
Carson: Feeling those kicks, of course, it’s just the best feeling ever. They actually didn’t feel like kicks, I felt more like hands, wiggles [unintelligible 21:29] because she is, totally, she’s so expressive with her hands. I felt those the whole time. I felt her communicating with me a lot. It was really cool. I wasn’t expecting that, but I feel like I’ve known her for so much longer than the eight weeks she’s been here. I do feel like she had a very strong presence.
Elliot: You are probably very strongly present as well, I imagine. What was your plan for further intentions? What was the vision?
Carson: I knew I wanted to have a home birth, which was really important to me.
Carson: For so many reasons. I mean, I’ve attended so many of both. I think even though birth is so beautiful in all the spaces, I just really admired the way the midwifery model. The model of care and even just the freedom, the comfort of being in one’s own home. Not just for the birth, the prenatals too, right? Having those be in-home, talking about nutrition, talking about life, about your relationship, and so much more than just checking the heartbeat and running out the door.
Elliot: Wait. They also measure the bump and have you pee in a cup.
Carson: That’s true. Don’t forget to pee in the cup.
Yeah. I wanted more than that. And so, you know — and then, for the birth. I loved not having to get in the car. I love the idea of having full freedom and mobility to move and birth as I wanted, to not to be home already. I’ve really seen birth as a really sacred ceremonial event. Again, not that that can’t be the case in the hospital, but for me, I knew that it would cause stress to try and control that environment or create the experience that I wanted with a bunch of strangers, not being under my own roof. And so, giving birth at home I really felt like I could create the environment that I wanted her to be born into with more ease.
Elliot: I also find that at-home birth, there are much better snacks.
Carson: Definitely, that too. Much more of that.
Elliot: If you’re even allowed to eat at the hospital. And yeah, everything you described sounds amazing.
Did you have any — because you’re human also, did you have any anxieties or fears? Anything that was like, “I got to overcome that.”
Carson: Yeah. My fears were never home-birth-specific. I think that’s the beauty of getting to witness birth in both places is really like debunking these myths that there’s a danger around home birth that isn’t present at the hospital, right? There’s risk and birth wherever you give birth. The hardest and scariest births I’ve been a part of have been in the hospital. So, I knew that, obviously, just like life, right? We may have to face really dark and hard times regardless of where we are, and that we can’t always control for that. And so, of course, like you said, I’m human. So, those fears have always come up, but I never felt like being at the hospital would take away those fears, if that makes sense. I knew that they were more — existentials not the right word. But, you know, they’re just bigger than that. They had to do with being a human in this world like they’re more spiritual concerns, or just life concerns than they were location concerns. I think that is an important part of preparing for birth. It is coming to terms with the reality of what it means to be engaging in this world. Not just that we can control factors based off of isolating a certain event, or provider, or whatever it may be.
And so, those are things I’ve worked through with clients but also had to work through myself. And then, yeah, of course, like will the baby come out breathing well? Shoulder dystocia, like things like that that you hear a lot of and see, and you pick up on the fears of providers, or even the things like bleeding too much. Those are things that have also been a part of in birth myself and seen happen. And so, it was work for me to have to detach from those experiences of others. And then, also to continue what I, fortunately, had such a foundation on already. But to explore the, how can I prepare for those fears? How can I learn how to face them if they come up? What would I do in those situations? And so, that was definitely a big part of my preparation for my partner who hasn’t been in those environments. It was helpful for me to also prepare him for it, for the what ifs or for those fears.
Elliot: Well, what does that preparation look like?
Carson: We watched a lot of videos, you know. I think for me, I’m one of those people that like information is power. We would talk to our midwives about the what-ifs of those. That helped kind of walking through the measures in place that would support us in those situations. I love Indie Birth as a resource, and those videos were really helpful for both of us. He was always planning and he did catch her. And so, I helped prepare him with those videos. So, he knew, “You know, it’s okay. If we’re on the bed, and she’s slippery and falls through your hands, like, ‘Look, maybe just fell right onto the bed and it was okay.'” Or, you know, this is something we can do if the midwife doesn’t make it, and baby has a hard time breathing, these are the ways that we can support her ourselves, and things like that.
Elliot: I like watching birth videos of animals in nature. And just trying to see how they do it without the neocortex, without thinking about it, wondering, worrying. It’s always mind-blowing to me that they don’t really look fearful. They don’t make a lot of noise. They don’t have a lot of support. And then, as soon as they give birth, they turn around and start doing neonatal care. I’m like, “How do they know how to do that?” You know, it’s insane. But also I’ll think of birth to a 240-pound baby that just like drops on the ground, and they’re fine and they turn around.
Carson: They give them a little kick. Like, “You’re good!”
Elliot: Yeah, exactly.
Carson: Yeah. And I think that’s something part of the Indie Birth videos that really helped. Me, it was watching the moms resuscitate, or the moms be involved in that process of, or even the mom’s move in a shoulder dystocia to help the baby come out. Whereas, in not traditional, but our current tradition in 2023 in the United States, is we see and we’re told kind of that we don’t have the knowledge or strength to manage anything, right? You know, that has to be in the hands of somebody who’s an expert. Obviously, many cases there are.
But I think tapping back into the fact that a mom can stimulate her own baby, a mom can suction her own baby with her mouth, the mom can move to open her pelvis, and those things felt really empowering to me and how helped alleviate fears, right? It wasn’t just somebody in a lab coat that knew how to help me or my baby.
Elliot: Right. I think 20, maybe almost 20 years ago, I had a conversation with the midwife, Aleksandra Evanguelidi. We were talking about roadside delivery. A patient of mine who I’d give birth at one side of the road. I was just like, “Okay, if people are not planning, that’s when it happens.” So, you’re in an elevator, and the elevator gets stuck and you have to give birth. I remember asking like, “Oh, but what do you do if the cord’s around the neck?” She’s like, “You take it off.”
Carson: You unwrap it.
Elliot: Right. I think that’s a normal concern people would have. Like, “I don’t know what to do!” I’m like, “I think you will know what to do.” I would be a great nutritionist for myself if I could hear my inner nutritional voice, but I don’t. I just drive by like giant billboards of fluffy stacks of pancakes with butter and syrup, and I forget what I was supposed to be eating.
So, I mean there’s a lot, there’s so much hard wiring, and particularly, into the female DNA, the energy of building babies. You don’t think about, “Where do I put the eyes in? Where do I put the nose? And how am I going to this nervous system quite right?” It’s just all there.
Carson: It’s so true. I love that I always tell it to my clients it’s like, “What is it that we assume and expect that the pregnancy?” Our bodies know what to do, we know how to do it. It happens without our thinking and worrying about it. I mean we, of course, we worry and think and all the stuff, but it’s going to happen innately. And then, with birth, from one day to the next, it’s something that all of a sudden the mom has no idea what to do and could, God forbid, could ever do it without [unintelligible 29:46].
Elliot: You could never do this without us.
Alright. So, before we go to break, who was the birth team? Who are you planning to have with you and around you?
Carson: Yes. So, Aleks, that you mentioned, was our virtual prenatal midwife who supported us throughout our pregnancy. And we worked with and Zoom with, often for nutrition, and just support all along, and we weren’t sure if she was going to make it or not because she’s in LA and we’re in North Carolina. She ultimately didn’t, but she was an amazing part of our birth team. And then, we worked with the local midwife out here. It was just her, and Jonathan and I, and my postpartum doula is her assistant midwife, and she came the last hour and photographed and held beautiful space for us. And then, supported us postpartum. So, that was our team.
Elliot: I mean we didn’t talk about it, but you’re also a photographer, quite the photographer. You’ve done a whole bunch of birth photography.
Carson: I have, and it’s funny, I didn’t have a birth photographer. Our postpartum doula is not a birth photographer. She just took my iPhone and took pictures. She took great photos. But it’s something I do. I knew I didn’t want a birth photographer, but I wish I had had those photos and videos that I’ve done for so many other people.
Elliot: I don’t know if this is a good tip to infuse here at this point. But what I’ve seen a few people do now is set up like a camera or phone, just with a wide angle, just on all the time. Just catch the whole thing. And then, take out whatever you want from it and throw it away the rest.
Carson: Yeah. And I thought about that. Before, I was like, maybe I’ll do that. And then, in the moment, I think there was just no way I was going to facilitate that for myself. Being that we had such a small birth team.
Elliot: Yeah. It was not extra hands-on on deck.
Carson: We’ll talk about my first story, but I’m glad that the things that came out of my mouth are not recorded.
Elliot: They’re not documented. I’ve seen it both ways. Really small birth at home, and really big birth at-home teams. I remember one, it must have been not too long before you left here that we were out together. I don’t know that she was always planning home birth, but she definitely wanted a big cast of characters around her. She has I think the biggest welcome mat I’ve ever seen in my life inside the house. I was one of the later people to come to that birth. When I came in, there was still no room for my shoes on the welcome mat because there’s so many people there. I can almost even tell, I’m like, “Okay. Those must be Carson’s shoes.” You just go around and tell us who’s already there.
Alright. Let’s take a break, and then find out the big story of your birth. We’ll be right back.
Elliot: Welcome back to the Informed Pregnancy Podcast. We’re talking to Carson Meyer.
Okay, it’s time. You have your pregnancy. You’ve done your preparations. It’s time for birth. When, in relation to your estimated due date, did birth start and how?
Carson: I was due on my birthday.
Elliot: Oh, wow!
Carson: Yeah. I had no idea. I just feel really stupid admitting this as a doula that I didn’t know how to calculate a due date. Like I just was like, okay. But I didn’t realize there’s like this two weeks that are not really pregnancy, but you count it. So, I didn’t know! And then, I literally just like put into Google like, “conceived on this day, what is due date?” And, it was my birthday. I was like, “Oh, my God!” I was freaking out. In my head, I like thought it was a month late. I just didn’t, no idea.
And then, I always say like never tell anyone your due date, it’s a secret. It’s going to get in your head. It’s going to get in everyone else’s head. Just leave it alone. It doesn’t matter. Your baby doesn’t have a calendar. But, yeah, around 39 weeks, I was like, “Why am I still pregnant?!” Even though I talked to so many women off this cliff just feeling defeated at that point.
So, I went only two days past my due date before my water broke. But it felt like two years, especially because of that birthday. That was such a big marker. And I didn’t care if we shared a birthday or not, it wasn’t that. It’s just I knew the date, and I was holding on to it. But, yeah, two days after my due date, my water broke at 8 pm sharp on the couch. That’s how it started.
Elliot: What were you doing?
Carson: It’s very funny actually. We were cuddling with Paulie, our dog, who is adorable and was our only child until Lou came along. He was smiling ear to ear. He is such a goofball. I don’t know if he could feel it before or sense something, but he was acting really funny and making this big goofy smile. And so, we kept taking pictures of him. And then, oohing and awing over pictures of our dog, and then my water broke. And so, we laughed because like a few days after she was born, we were thinking like, “What were we doing?” I went to my phone and it’s the picture I took of him, I took on the exact minute my water broke. So, literally, we have this time stamp of what we were doing. It’s a really funny photo of him grinning ear to ear.
Elliot: Okay. So, you’re cuddling on the couch, water breaks, and it’s not a question. It’s like, “Well, oh, yeah, that’s water.”
Carson: Oh, yeah. And again, I always tell people like, “Usually, it’ll break in a trickle. That Hollywood gush is more for the movies.” I was like, “What is going on? This is so much fluid.”
Elliot: Ah! You can take the girl out of Hollywood, but…
Carson: Exactly. I’ve had a full-on Hollywood good.
Elliot: Okay. And then, is that exciting? I mean you seem very ready.
Carson: So, exciting. Heart was pounding. But it’s also nerve-wracking, as you know, labor doesn’t really start for long time after that.
Elliot: Yeah. Did yours?
Carson: It did. So, I took that moment to like I called Aleks, who was in LA, and I called my midwife here, who just got all excited. And then, I really wanted to like get our ducks in a row. So, I was like, “Jonathan, make some… so we have food.” And, you know, “Can you wash my pants?” because these are my favorite pants. I started bossing him around as per usual. He was a great sport about it.
And then, I just got everything like I felt like I needed to in order quickly. And then, I really wanted to go to bed. I knew that we should sleep because I knew that things could start up and we could be in it for the long haul. It ended up contractions started around midnight. So, around four hours later.
Elliot: A few hours later, okay.
Elliot: Yeah. And had you been able to fall asleep?
Carson: No. I got settled in bed. And then, they kind of started exactly when I finally was dozing off, naturally. But it’s funny, I don’t remember it didn’t feel sleepless. Like, it didn’t feel like a sleepless night. The time just went “swoop,” so quick.
Elliot: How are the early contractions?
Carson: They were so mild and lovely. I was having them for a few days. I had a lot of Braxton Hicks. I took a car ride a day, two days before, where I just felt like the whole car ride. And it was like, “Oh, my gosh!” But I didn’t think I was in labor and in retrospect, I might have been dilated early. I will never know, but there might have been a lot of work happening before because of the contractions that came at midnight felt really familiar. And they were very similar to my Braxton Hicks.
Elliot: Okay. So, you said lovely, which is a rare…
Carson: Well, it was not lovely the whole time. But…
Elliot: The early ones.
Carson: In comparison, yes.
Elliot: So, like wave-like?
Carson: Yeah. I guess wave-like, and I was able to just move through them, and move with them and I was just really excited that they were there and happening. And so, they weren’t too bad. They were kind of quick. There was definitely not a lot of space in between and they were long, but I liked them.
It’s funny because my mom used to always say she liked labor, and that the contractions felt good. And so, now that it’s happening, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to be like my mom.” It feels good for us. Again, it did not — that not remain the whole time.
Carson: I knew what she was talking about in that moment.
Elliot: And then, from that point, were you able to get any rest?
Carson: Not really. I think I lied down like on my side throughout. I’d say like around 3:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning, I wanted Jonathan to be like up with me more, and kind of got him up. And then, by 6:30, I was starting to get a little more flustered. I didn’t have a doula, which is funny because everyone asked, you know, “Did you have a doula at your birth?’ And I’m like, “No.”
But in that moment, I was like — and Jonathan was so amazing the whole birth. But in that moment, I told him to get rest. He was getting rest. But things shifted, and I don’t think he realized that I was doing great on my own. I was like, “You do you.” And then, all of a sudden, I was like, “You’re not helping me.” So, I kind of was like what, “I need help.” He’s like, “Whoa, whoa! “What’s going on? You were doing great.” And then, I started getting like a little bit — I think that was the act of labor taking over, where it started to feel like, “Okay. I need help.”
Elliot: What are you doing for all those hours?
Elliot: Yeah. From like basically 12:00 to 6:00.
Carson: That’s what I don’t remember. I must have been dozing in and off. I just kept the lights off. It’s so interesting. I really have a very strange — I think I like blacked out a lot of it because I don’t have a lot of recollection. But I remember just kind of like moving around the room, and cuddling, and just moving through. I was like in a state of wasn’t very conscious. But at 6:30, I remember being like aggravated and kind of coming to and being like, “I need help.” He was tired and he was helping me. But also I was like, “Okay. Call our midwife.” I knew it was too early for her to come, but I also wanted him to feel supported. I wanted female energy in the space. The reason I didn’t have a doula is because she was going to be both for me and that’s how she practices. So, I knew that she would provide some physical support, too. And help Jonathan guide me through some of those double-up squeeze and things like that. So, she came around 7:30.
Elliot: Do you remember what your dog was doing during that whole time?
Carson: He was under the bed while I was pushing. I’ll tell you about what he did at the end. But he was cuddling with me most of the time when I was downstairs. He’s not allowed on our bed, but he would have been right by my side. But when I moved to the couch, he sat next to me and kind of like watched on guard. He knew something was different. He had a hard time relaxing, but he didn’t leave my side.
Elliot: Okay, cool. You probably said birth, also home birth, they’re just so different how they react.
Carson: And, the funniest part, we keep laughing about it — Well, hey, we go back to your first question is like, “why is a home birth important to you?” Honestly, a big part of it was being able to have my dog with me.
Elliot: I heard that a lot. I just became a dog owner for the first time a year ago. I sort of get it now.
Carson: Yeah, they are. They’re just like such love bugs. But what’s so funny, and we laugh about it is I would be like, “Ah!” during labor. Yelling at Jonathan. Poor Jonathan, my midwife. Like, “Get away!” And then, I remember just seeing Paulie, and I would just be like, “Oh, I love you, Paulie.” I would just smile and I would be so sweet. And then, I’d like snap at poor Jonathan again. But he could do no wrong. And so, he was like this little like heart melt there for me.
Elliot: Oh, you did have a doula.
Carson: He was my doula, exactly.
Elliot: A male doula. Who would have thought? Okay. So, 7:30, midwife comes. And?
Carson: She came. But it was funny because the contractions were intense. And that’s why I wanted that physical and support, and they were close together. But in between, no pain. No sensation. Totally back to my normal self. And that’s kind of always how I thought of early labor. So, I was like, “Gosh. This is super early.” Because, yes, the contractions are intense. And yes, they’re close together. But I was talking to her about like music, and we were eating, and I was totally myself in between. And then, I would have a surge. I would be like, “Aah!” You know, and she would help me, and then we would go back to doing our thing. So, that lasted probably until noon.
Elliot: Did you have a sense where you were on the spectrum from beginning to end?
Carson: In terms of progress?
Carson: No. So, I knew that I did not want any cervical checks. I never had one in my pregnancy or in labor. That was important to me because I know myself, and I didn’t want to get in my head. I didn’t want to compare myself to other births. “Oh, in this birth, when it was 4 centimeters, at this time, this happens,” you know. Because it’s not a crystal ball.
Elliot: Yeah. So, I’m not even talking about how many centimeters.
Carson: Yeah. Progress.
Elliot: In terms of your pattern whether you’re —
Carson: That can be as useless as the cervical exam. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this in your practice as well. But sometimes, you see these patterns and you’re like, “Oh, baby’s coming. Like, look at the time, right?” It looks like what the app tells you is active labor. And then, 40 hours later, you’re still sitting there.
Elliot: You’re still there, yeah. So, I mean not as an observer, but as…
Elliot: For you. Yeah.
Carson: Yeah. I try to stay away from all those things that [unintelligible 42:48].
Elliot: In a kind of spectrum timeline.
Carson: Exactly. So, we didn’t time. We’d do anything. I had no idea, I think how close I was, but I really wasn’t thinking about time. At this point, my worry was that I’d have a really, really long labor. So, I guess in my head, I was like we’re so far away. I kind of felt bad. My midwife was pregnant. And so, I’ve definitely felt guilty. I was like, “Oh, she’s going to be here forever.” I definitely called her too early, but I really love having her here. So, I had no idea.
Elliot: Okay. No idea where you were. Do you have any recollection of what that pattern looked like, contraction pattern? Or you just didn’t even pay attention to it?
Carson: I was say, every 3 minutes, for a full minute.
Elliot: And then, where did you feel it?
Carson: At this point, they were intense. But this was when it started to I’d feel it in my hips. The contractions that happened in my uterus were the ones that I liked, and they didn’t bother me. They were not as bad as any period cramps or anything like that. What really took my breath away and really brought me to my knees were the feeling of my pelvis and my bones opening, which I know you could probably explain to me better than I can of what was going on. But my legs, my thighs, something was going on there where I just felt everything in my legs. I felt it my pelvis opening, my hips opening, and then I felt my tailbone, which again is funny. Because every birth worker knows, “Okay, if you feel it in your tailbone, we know what that means.” But I wasn’t even thinking of that. I didn’t know that meant the baby was low. I just was like, “My tailbone is stuck. Somebody needs to pull it off.”
Elliot: That’s me!
Carson: Yeah. I was like, “Can someone tell me where is Dr. Berlin? Pull my tailbone up and away from me!” Because I just felt like her head was pushing it back. And so, honestly, the contractions I don’t remember being hard. It was the physical sensation of — and I’m petite. So, I think, I just…
Elliot: You have to open up.
Carson: Making room. And that was really hard for me.
Elliot: Yeah. You had to open up. Okay. So, how did you cope with that?
Carson: The manual, you know.
Elliot: Covering pressure.
Carson: Covering pressure, and all that, was helpful. But I got into the shower, which was nice. And then, I wanted to get into the tub. That helped but I still was overcome at this point. And now, looking back, I was in like a very active kind of transition point in the tub. I was probably in there for two hours. But what really helped was howling. I was so loud. Louder than any client I’d anybody I’ve ever seen give birth. I was louder by a million. I was like, “Wow! Okay. I was not expecting this.” But I roared.
Carson: I could not have not done that. Like, it was such an important part of my process. I was so glad that my birth team really like invited it, and encouraged it, and let it happen because I do feel like I was what I needed to do.
Elliot: I mean this one’s like primal instinct.
Carson: Yeah. Oh, I was so loud. I don’t know if I cried tears but I cried out in agony and was just like, “Help!” You know, that was such a big part of it for me that I think I needed to do.
Elliot: Is this like a birth tub that you set up?
Carson: We rolled out a birth tub. But, unfortunately, it had holes in it, which we didn’t know about. It kept deflating while I was in it. And luckily, my midwife was like repairing it in real-time. That was a little bit stressful. It all worked out fine, but yeah. That was fun.
Elliot: I could see how that would be a little deflating, in general. Okay. So, then, if you’re in transition. What happens next?
Carson: At this point, was when I was like, “I’m going to die. I can’t do this.” I remember just like fantasizing about the hospital, which I never thought I would do. You know, that was my worst nightmare, to have to go to the hospital. And all of a sudden, I was like, “Oh, please. Just take me there. Give me the epidural. This is too much!” I remember also like really wanting external things. At this time, I wanted other people to come in and take the pain away. I was calling for my neighbor. I was like, “Maybe call the neighbor!” Like, she was going to help or something, you know. Like, I just wanted…
Elliot: Somebody must have something.
Carson: I just wanted somebody to hum, and just do something. So, that was really my experience transition. I felt so much pressure in the tailbone and back there, which again is comical. Because if somebody was yelling, “My butt! My butt!” I’d be like, “Okay, you’re pushing,” at the time. I was screaming that, but had no idea that meant I was close, right? I just forgotten everything I knew about birth. I just felt her so low down there. I’m like grunting and howling. And then, I just remember saying I had so much doubt, which is that’s when I knew it was transition because that doubt was so big in me.
I said to my midwife like, “I just don’t think it’s going to work. This is not going to happen.” And she was like, “Well, why don’t you just like feel?” I could feel her head like right there. But still, in my head, was like, “I’m days away.” Like, “I’m going to have to go have a cesarean.” It’s just nothing in me. Even feeling her head, made me realize it was real.
And then, I wanted out of the tub right away. I got on the bed. I knew in that moment I looked at her, I said, “I’m in transition,” because I just knew that I couldn’t go lower. Like I would think that’s some hell. So, I was like, “This is a transition.” She shrugged. She never said, “Yeah,” or she’s like “Maybe.”
Elliot: Wow! And so, when does her assistant come?
Carson: She wasn’t going to come because she actually had a little cold, and they told me that. They were like, “She has a cold. She wanted to come.” I said, “No. Do not want a cold right now.” So, I was just going to be my midwife, which we felt really good about and we were totally fine. But in that moment, remember when I told you I wanted external? I just wanted everyone else to come save me. I screamed out, “I want her here!” Again, not that she was going to come do it for me, but I just felt like I needed something to change the environment.
So, they called her, and I’m so glad that we did. She was getting over her cold. She was like totally fine. I think she knew that I would be on edge if I heard her clear her throat. And so, she came and she really just took the photographs, which is I’m so grateful I had because I wouldn’t have had that if she not come. She showed up probably an hour before Lou was born, while I was on the bed.
Elliot: Alright. So, you got out of the tub onto the bed?
Elliot: Were you like, in some ways, more comfortable on the bed?
Carson: Well, I love the tub, but it was so wild. It was like from one second, it was great. The next second, it was like, “Nope! Done. Get me out now.” I don’t know if the temperature went down, or what happened. But my body just told me, “It’s time to get out.”
Elliot: Okay. I was like how long are you on the bed for?
Carson: Probably, two hours. At first, I instructed Jonathan to sit with his back against the headboard. And then, I leaned over him on all fours.
Carson: Which was really nice. We kind of like snuggled like that for a while. It allowed me to be on all fours to be in his arms and supported. He was a little nervous because he knew he was supposed to catch, and that was something he was excited about.
Elliot: It was like, “Hut!”
Carson: He’s like, “How do I catch from here?” I remember that being like a moment where he’s like, “You seem to like this. What should we do?” But we did that for a while. And then, I got on the peanut ball. I laid with my leg up on my hips. I don’t even remember, but I just like tossed and turned around. I wasn’t on my back at any point. I remember my midwife saying — so at this point, I was clearly pushing. Again, I still don’t even — no one said, “You’re pushing.” No one said, “Push.” I just was pushing. But honestly, I don’t even think I knew. I was so out of my body and so out of my head and into my body, I just was doing it.
And then, I remember my midwife saying, “It might help. Just because of the position like that. If you wanted to get on your back, you can try that.” I just was like, “I’ll kill you.” There is no way — and in that moment, my admiration for the strength of the women who have birthed on their backs in the hospital, unwillingly, which is many. There’s no way I could not have done it in the hospital. I just couldn’t have because there was no way I would have been told what position to go in. I could not have tolerated that. I think the only way I was able to get through was being able to fully move in the patterns I wanted to.
Elliot: Yeah. It seems like your mind kind of shuts down…
Elliot: …at that point because you’ve seen so much.
Carson: I was clueless.
Elliot: Yeah, in the moment, maybe you were clueless but just in that neocortex.
Carson: Yeah. Such a gift. Such a gift for me because I’m a thinker. I was so happy. I kept asking I was like, “Is the baby under the pubic bone?” while she’s crowning!” I was like in such a daze about what was going on. And I’m in disbelief! I think there was a part of me, given I was born cesarean. I was told because of my size from doctors, before becoming a doula. “Oh, you’re so small. It’ll be hard to give birth. You won’t be able to give birth vaginally.” All the BS that I think I heard those in me while I was birthing.
Elliot: But then at the same time, while you’re closing that out as much as you can, you’re like very aware of what’s happening and what you need on the deeper older limbic part of your brain that does birth.
Elliot: It’s almost magical that you’re able to take so much experience from your conscious mind and put that away and have your own experience.
Carson: Yeah. It was such a gift.
Elliot: Alright. So, you’re writhing around…
Carson: Writhing around. I got on all fours. I guess at some point, it kind of came to the fact that, “Okay. I am pushing. She is close. I could feel…” Again, not at all what I thought the ring of fire felt like. But I was like, “Okay. This is it! If I just keep pushing like this, I think this could be over soon.”
I remember getting on all fours and just bringing one leg up. In a way, it’s kind of the position that you would want to get into with the shoulder dystocia. I don’t know if I did that out of prevention. Look, I was like, “I’m just going to.” But I remember my midwife saying, “If you put your leg like that, it’s going to be the widest your pelvis will be open.” I was like, “Great, let’s do that! Whatever the widest.”
So, I was on all fours. I brought my leg up and just kept pushing. I mean, I don’t know what was happening but I kept doing my thing. I remember Jonathan getting ready, and he was so steady and like so confident. I could feel that energy, which was so soothing and just amazing to have him right behind me. And, of course, somebody who’s never given birth before thinks when you see the top of the head, that you really have to catch, little do they know, it could still be some time.
Elliot: Yeah. “You’re almost there! You’re almost there!”
Carson: Yeah. I think he was like, “Wait!” Even though I prepared him for that, he was okay.
Elliot: “Now? No.”
Carson: “You’re still pushing.” But I could feel there was patience, but that excited energy and he was just so ready right there. And then, her head emerged. I remember knowing that and hearing that. And then, of course, my first question like, “Is she okay?” I said that while her head was still out, my midwife and Jonathan laughed because, not only is she okay, she’s breathing and clearing her lungs and nose and everything on your perineum. So, before she came out, she started like crying and doing her thing.
Elliot: Oh, wow! Well, meaning her shoulders and body are…
Carson: Oh, yeah. Her shoulders and bodies were still inside, but she was clearing her throat or her lungs.
Elliot: Oh, wow!
Carson: That was obviously very reassuring to the birth team and everyone. Because they’re like, “She’s amazing! She’s doing her thing while still inside of you, half inside of you.” And so, I was like, “Okay.” And then, this was when I was like, “Okay, shoulders now.” This is the time and I was so nervous. But, she just came out with ease into Jonathan’s hands. There was a cord around the back of her neck, and Jonathan unhooked it or unwrapped it.
I remember the midwife saying to Jonathan, “Bring her towards you.” Which was her instructing him how to get the cord off and saying bring her out. But she didn’t know if it was a her, but “Bring the baby out towards you so that she’ll come out and can take the cord off.” I heard that. I thought she was out. And so, I was like, “No. Towards me. Towards me.” Like, I get to hold her first. And they’re like, “She’s coming to you. We just have to get her out and unwrap first.” So, I was like, “Okay, fine.”
And then, he quickly passed her to me because I was very impatient. I wanted her in my arms right away. We were holding her and we were like celebrating. So, excited. Paulie jumped up from out of the bed the minute he heard her cry and started three laps around the room. And then, we were both like, “Okay. We’re going to find out if it’s a boy or a girl.” And, of course, I was like, “Jonathan, you get to announce.” But he was taking too long, you know. He was like gentle and also just like was like in an excited cluster. I was like, “Fuck it! I’m looking.” And so, I did it. And I was like, “It’s a girl!” I just felt so strongly, like I said before in pregnancy, I just knew she was a girl. I knew it. I stocked her closet with all my dresses from childhood. I tried to get some boy things just in case because I didn’t want him to feel bad. But I just would have bet anything that it’s a girl. So, it was really funny, we all laughed because I was like, “Yep! There she is.”
Elliot: “Just like I told you.” So, you pushed on all fours.
Carson: Pushed, yeah, for the last part, and delivered on all fours.
Elliot: Delivered on all fours. Did you experience a ring of fire?
Carson: Again, the sensation from the muscles and the tailbone so overpowered whatever other sensations there are of labor that I thought would be there. That seemed like the least of my worries. It was so much more on the backbone for me.
Elliot: So, more there than your perineum.
Carson: Yeah. I don’t even remember any of that. It was all the bones. And I didn’t tear, so maybe that helped. And I crowned for a very long time because she had — the poor thing had a bruise on her head. But yeah, for me, the hardest part was just those bones.
Elliot: How big was birth?
Elliot: Okay. You’re, like you said, pretty petite. So, you gave birth to a healthy-sized baby. No tearing.
Carson: No tearing.
Elliot: And it sounds like none of that intense pushing coaching.
Carson: No. I didn’t even know I was pushing. No one was coaching me. I didn’t even know I was doing it.
Elliot: Right. I’m just saying the contrast in my mind did, too. Like, you, a woman on her back, and you know her legs are up. There’s a bunch of people around. And people are just like, “Blah, blah, blah. How can I breathe?” “Don’t worry. Just push, push, push!” I feel like that’s where a lot of the tearing comes from.
Carson: Yeah. There’s an evidence-based birth article, review article, that talks about how the number one factor that impacts tearing or not is provider skill. Your provider. And I do have to credit my midwife I think in that.
Elliot: Meaning, was she doing something? Like, massaging or…
Carson: Definitely wasn’t massaging. But she was applying manual pressure.
Elliot: Oh, just slowly. Oh, okay.
Carson: Yeah. Helping to keep I think the tissues together more, which she was explaining to me later was very different than anything I’d seen, or kind of heard as an approach. I think the not telling me to, “Push. One. Two. Not.” Like all the other stuff, like the push, and of course the freedom and flexibility. But she was very hands-off in the way that I wanted her to be the whole time. But in that moment, she did step in with a skill that we had discussed before that she knew how to do to help support my perineum, which I was really grateful for.
Elliot: Wow. Intensely beautiful.
Elliot: A few questions here at the tail end, starting with the tail. Did you have like tailbone soreness afterwards?
Carson: I did. But it totally went away. I also feel like I was sitting so much in bed, which it was funny. I asked Allison Oswald, you know, pelvic floor therapist. I was like, “My tailbone hurts so bad. Do you think it’s from sitting so much?” She’s like, “I think it’s from the birth.” I was like, “Oh, okay.”
Elliot: I wonder, because you mentioned it so many times, I wonder if you ever injured it like in snowboarding.
Carson: That what people kept asking me. She did tell me. She’s like, “Keep stretching that area. Use the physio ball because it’s not going to like untighten.” But not that I remember.
Elliot: Do you snowboard?
Elliot: I wouldn’t have guessed that. Okay. Did you eat during labor? And if so, what?
Carson: Yeah, but not as much as I thought. I love eating. It’s my number one source of comfort. But just didn’t cross my mind. I had lentils in early labor. That was what I had asked Jonathan to make.
Elliot: How was birthing your placenta?
Carson: Of course, birthing her was my favorite part. But I do have to say that that was a really special part for me, too. That’s a big fear I had. I was told in pregnancy that my iron was low and that I really couldn’t afford to lose blood. That really got in my head and really freaked me out and sent me kind of in a tailspin of trying to fix it. But then also, in my way of wanting to research and understand everything, I learned a lot for another podcast about iron. I also was really nervous. I was like, “Okay.”
I felt confident by the end because of the measures I had taken to prevent too much blood loss. But I was, “Okay. This is the time where you can hemorrhage after the baby’s out. This is more, I’d say dangerous, part of birth for the mother.” I was really on edge about it. I really wanted that part to just be over. And my midwife was so in tune and could so feel that I didn’t want her help. I didn’t want to rush the placenta, but I also wanted it out. I was really nervous about it and kept asking about it.
So, we waited a full hour before cutting the cord. And then, after an hour, she picked up on this. She said, “Why don’t you get in the shower and you can do it yourself? You can just squat over a bowl. In that way, you can know if the placenta is ready. You can feel the tension. I will not intervene in this process and cause a problem because I’ve seen that so many times.”
And so, I went into the shower, squatted down, and I talked to my placenta. I said, “Hey, thank you so much. I’m so grateful that you protected and supported Lou, and nourished her. But your work is done and you can come out now. You can come out in one whole piece.” And then, like talking to it on what to do and kind of just let that happen. I made sure Jonathan — because at this point, we’d cut the cord. I made sure Jonathan brought Lou to be there in my eye line so that I was connected to that oxytocin flow, to support it. And then, I just guided it out into the bowl, and it was perfect and I did not bleed at all. I mean, of course, I had some bleeding, but for the six weeks after. But there was no gush of blood or anything. So, yeah, that was a powerful part for me.
Elliot: That’s different from anything I’ve ever seen.
Carson: Yeah, me too.
Elliot: How was transition to breastfeeding?
Carson: That, surprisingly, I didn’t do right away. I was just like I’m too busy staring at her and like finding my feet. So, I waited a little bit. But my midwife, before she left, set us up side lie. And that was really nice because that [unintelligible 01:01:37]. That was amazing to just be able to stay and also good for my tailbone. I’ll be sitting that. I just side lie at her for like the first four days. And then, I was like, “Wait, I don’t think I know how to breastfeed sitting up.” I had this moment where I was like we’ve mastered the side lie, but it felt so funny to like get up and feed her because I was, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
When my midwife came back, or I don’t know. At some point, I was like, “We’ll try it this way.” Luckily, she was a great feeder and there was one day when my milk came, that it just hurts so bad, my nipples. I called my sister who had three kids, her husband actually was so sweet and so cute. He clearly paid attention in all the classes and had been a great support to her. And so, he actually like helped coach me through it. And was reminding me things I know. And also, hearing my friends say, “People say it doesn’t hurt, but it could hurt.” It’s not that there’s anything wrong. The first few days, it’s okay for it to hurt. I was, “Okay then, it’s normal.” Once my milk came in the next day, it all got better. I wasn’t expecting that. I was sure that there’s been a terrible problem.
Elliot: That’s a very helpful important tidbit.
Elliot: Okay. Here’s my last couple of questions. Number one, how do Paulie and Lou get along?
Carson: They’re so great and I’m so proud of him. I know it’s tempting to look a cute baby’s face all day long. He’s really great. He’s really understanding that she’s very important and that you can’t go nuts on her all the time. There’s a lot of energy. But I’m excited for them to be able to interact more.
Elliot: Coming soon.
Elliot: And then, next, what, if anything, what did you learn about you, about birth for you, and about birth as a provider from your own experience?
Carson: Well, that’s such a big question. I think I learned — Yeah, obviously, I feel so like proud of the whole process and her, mostly, and what we’ve created. Jonathan, keeps teasing. “I highly recommend doing this with a birth worker. I highly recommend having a baby with a doula.” But we tease, and it’s not because I know something that anyone else doesn’t or you know have some greater capacity, it’s not that at all. It’s just I’ve been able to apply what I’ve really believed in for so many years, and really fully immerse myself in for so many years, and all this information, I mean experience. There’s something really rewarding to know that there’s benefit in that, and there’s value in that is most important.
So, it definitely makes me even more passionate about my work, knowing that the journey is a journey and you can’t take away the challenges or the sleepless nights, and all that. But there’s so much we can do with support to make it easier. I always knew that deep down. But now, having walked my talk of what I share with my clients, and got to see on the other end how good I feel, which I wasn’t fully expecting. A lot of that comes down to like we talked about whether it’s the first 40 days, the nourishment, the nutrition, the support, the way you choose to birth, and all of that. And so, that feels really good for myself, of course, and for my confidence as a mother. But my confidence in my work and knowing that what I do out there to be a value to people. And now, I kind of feel like I can really say it works when we take good care of ourselves.
Elliot: Yeah. It takes some effort, doesn’t it?
Carson: It does. But in many ways, it’s been effortless. And we’re lucky in so many factors. So many women can’t stay home for a long time or have access to that support, of course. But if you put the work in before, it does pay off ultimately.
Elliot: Is there anything that you wanted to share that I left out?
Carson: Oh, gosh, no. I feel like I blabbered on.
Elliot: No. It was so beautiful every minute. Carson, thank you so much for joining me and for sharing your story, and for all the incredible work that you do.
Carson: Thank you, Dr. Berlin. Thank you. That’s one part of the pregnancy and postpartum I wish I had had you out here, but —
Elliot: Yeah. When you moved, and then I found out you were pregnant, I was like, “Ugh!”
Carson: I know.
Elliot: Of all the people I would want to be there for.
Carson: Oh, my God! My tailbone would have been so happy.
Elliot: It wasn’t meant to be. Carson, where can we find you online?
Carson: carson-meyer.com is my website for my doula work. And “Growing Together,” we’re Instagram @ccmeyer. And then, candthemoon.com for C & The Moon products.
Elliot: For yumminess. Are there new C & The Moon products coming?
Elliot: In development.
Elliot: They’re just steady.
Carson: Slow and steady.
Elliot: Amazing. Alright. I will see you there. And then, who knows, you might also appear at some point on Informed Pregnancy Plus.
Carson: Yes, I’d love that! Do you want to meet little Lou?
Elliot: Yes, please.
Carson: Oh, it’s okay. Hi, baby. Here she is.
Elliot: A little yum. So, bakery fresh. Ah, she’s so sweet. Where did she get those cheeks from? Amazing.
Carson: Thank you so much.
Elliot: Alright. Everybody at home, thanks for listening, watching. We can also see you online at theinformedpregnancy.com.