I was terrified to have another baby

My titles never can capture all the awesomeness of my interviews.

I love that a hymn helped her to have courage to move forward through her fears.

After her preemie was born at 26 weeks via classical cesarean, having another baby was high risk and doing a VBAC even a higher risk.

I love the many different paths that God led Bronwyn on, to have not 1, but 2 babies after her preemie.

Her 5th baby she calls her Hallelujah baby, which I love.

Listen (or read) to find out why!

Sheridan: Welcome to The Gift of Giving Life podcast. I’m so excited to have another guest on today and today we have Bronwyn. And would you please take a minute and introduce yourself for us?

Bronwyn: All right. my name is Bronwyn. It’s Welsh. If in case you’re wondering I have five kids. Um, I love music and horses and I have studied midwifery, but I have not yet taken the plunge into an apprenticeship.

Sheridan: Great. then I’m sure you have a lot of experiences, not only birthing your own babies, but also learning about midwifery. And we’re excited to hear what you have to share today.

Bronwyn: I’ve been an ICAN leader and I was heavily involved in an organization called special scars and yeah, I’ve been around some of the birth.

Sheridan: Nice. Oh, awesome. All right. I would love to hear how you found out about The Gift of Giving Life.

One of the Original book owners!

Bronwyn it’s been so long. I don’t remember. and it’s, I bought the book when it, it is one of the first edition. It is signed on the inside cover by Heather Ferrell. that was 11 years ago is right after my fourth baby was born.

Sheridan Oh, wow. So yeah, you’re one of the OGs.

Bronwyn Yeah. But I loved it and I, there, there are some people in the book that I know personally, so yeah. Oh,

Sheridan: neat. Great. So how, you found the book or was after your fourth baby, right? Yeah. And you’ve had five. So was the book helpful for your fifth birth?

Like what did you get out of the book?

Bronwyn Yeah.

and I, and. I give it away now as a wedding gift too. So it’s, I have a little library of things that I give and that’s one of the books I say, here are some things I wish I’d had. I’d actually like to get into, you know, how I got to that point in my life though.

Wanted a homebirth for my first birth, but was talked out of it.

Bronwyn: So if I could start, I can tell you that, I always wanted a big family and, when my husband and I were in grad school in Western Oregon, We decided to time it so that our first baby would be born right after we finished. And I was really leaning towards going to a birth center with midwives and, all over Western Oregon, there’s more of a crunchy vibe there.

And so that was just plentiful all over. But, I let people in my life talk me out of that. I had this instinct that, that wasn’t the path for me, but there was a lot of fear with taking that path and I followed it and instead I had a very drive through variety hospital birth. a lot of trauma with my first son.

and I really wanted something different after that. We moved across the country to upstate New York after we graduated. And, there were a ton of hospital based midwives there. Out of hospital birth was, it was not illegal. It was just really difficult to find. and I was really mentored by a lot of the women in my ward.

Bronwyn: So they helped me find a good path for my next birth. I got pregnant. I was sitting in sacrament meeting right before my son’s first birthday, and I just was connecting the dots that I think I’m pregnant again. But I wasn’t sure how far along I was, my cycles were just coming back after breastfeeding.

Mis-date on 2nd pregnancy, almost ended up with disaster.

Bronwyn: And I went in to one of these local midwives and she couldn’t find a heartbeat, but she said, that’s fine. We’ll just do an ultrasound. I think you’re 10 to 12 weeks. there was looked like an empty sack on the ultra. so that was devastating. we were heading into a holiday weekend. We were heading into 4th of July and she said, if it weren’t for that, maybe we could get some process going, but I got through the holiday weekend and we celebrated my son’s birthday and I just was feeling more and more pregnant.

I’m like, this is such a, it’s so unfair. this isn’t a real pregnancy, but I feel pregnant. And by the next week, I had another ultrasound and there was a heartbeat.

Sheridan: Oh wow.

Bronwyn: So the dates were just off. And so I’m a huge advocate of learning how to track your cycle now because it would’ve saved a whole lot of heartache.

Then the dates were just off.

Long Birth with a Beautiful Birth Pause

Bronwyn: And eight months later, I had this beautiful baby. Um, I, in early labor that time, my husband gave me a blessing that ended up being my longest labor. And he gave me this blessing. It said it’s going to be hard. And that kind of made me panic a little bit, but, as I thought, what am I what’s gonna happen?

Am I gonna end up with a C-section? it ended up okay. It was just really long. And we drove to the hospital in a snowstorm. and she was born within half an hour of getting there and it was just beautiful. I looked down long enough to see that she was a girl and then I went, whew, I did it.

And I’ve since heard that called the birth pause. Have you heard of this? Yeah. Yeah. It, when there’s an undisturbed birth, a lot of times the mom doesn’t reach for her baby right away. And I’ve seen this in animals. The animal mama will give birth and then she’ll just go, whew. And then she’ll start interacting with her baby mm-hmm So that was, it was a really physiologic birth, even though it was in the hospital, but I got more and more thinking about, what did the hospital even do for me? I really wanted to pursue a home birth the next time.

Miscarriage – then preemie born same date as the miscarriage due date

Bronwyn: So I got pregnant when she was about a year and a half old and I had an immediate miscarriage.

and it was devastating, but a spoiler alert, I ended up having a preemie and he was born the same week as the due date for that miscarriage. Wow. And there’s a part of me that wonders if he was with me for that whole nine months. Anyway, mm-hmm I mean, I don’t know how it works. I’ll I’ll never know about that.

but I got pregnant after the miscarriage and I was planning a home birth, but had a hemmorage and I’d actually had this with my first two births. It’s where there’s a little separation of the placenta and the first trimester. it’s pretty common. And most of the time it resolves and you go on with your pregnancy and it’s okay.

And that’s what happened with my first two kids. Sometimes it happen, it results in a miscarraige. And then there’s what happened to us. I bled for almost that entire pregnancy. And then at 25 weeks, my water’s opened. And so there goes the home birth and I went into preterm labor at 26 weeks and four days. And all along, I’d had a bunch of ultrasounds.

I couldn’t figure out where the bleeding was coming from, but once I was in labor, everyone said, oh, your placenta’s abrupting. .

Cesarean at 26 weeks 4 days

Bronwyn: And so I had, a C-section and at 26 weeks, you really don’t have a lower uterine segment. So it was a classical incision. And so all these dreams of a big family, and we didn’t know how this baby was going to do because he was three months early and there was a lot of, unknown.

There was a lot of unknowns. I remember looking at my husband while I was on the operating table and I told him if I don’t make it, please get married again. You’re young or other kids are young. And there was just a lot of unknowns and my baby was so early. he actually was okay for the first few days he had apgars of eight and nine.

He came out screaming, but that’s very early. He was in the NICU for 99 days. He was very fragile and, I didn’t get to hold him for a full week because they’re just very, touchy in those first few days. So the first time I got to hold him, I sang to him, I sang I’m a child of God.

And I told him we would love him no matter what his journey was, whether he stayed with us or not. So another spoiler alert. He is 14 years old now and he is robustly healthy. he has no allergies and no asthma. He just rarely gets sick. He’s smart. And he’s funny, but we didn’t know any of that at the time.

it was, it was a difficult time. So we did eventually get him home and he. He was fragile for the first couple of years of his life, but you know, no one would’ve blamed us for being done with having babies. After that, three kids, a scary experience, a real possibility that there would be complications in a future pregnancy.

Bronwyn: No one would’ve blamed us.

I knew there was more babies, and it terrified me.

Bronwyn: I knew there was more and so did my husband and I was terrified, um, right after his second birthday, we were planning to try again. and my dad had a real health scare. He was in the hospital, he was in the ICU and it was really touch and go. And I was sitting in sacrament meeting again, and I had a question on my heart and I said, Heavenly Father, I don’t

know what’s gonna happen.


I do want another baby. I don’t know what’s happening with my dad. I’m just overwhelmed.

A Specific Hymn 3 times in a row was an answer to her prayer

Bronwyn: And I felt it prompting to pick up the hymn book, and I turn to hymn number 128, which is called When Faith Endures. And it’s only one verse long, but it’s very powerful.

And it says,

I will not doubt. I will not fear.

God’s love and strength are always near

His promised gift helps me to find an inner strength and peace of mind.

I give the Father willingly. My trust. My prayer is humility.

His spirit guides, His love assures that fear departs when faith endures.

So I was sitting there and I had this immediate answer to my prayer and I just, I felt so peaceful about that, but the story doesn’t end there right after Sacrament was over the organist would always play exactly one hymn.

And that day she played hymn number 128, When Faith Endures. Oh, and this was back in the days when there was still music and relief society. And that day, the opening hymn was hymn number 1 28 When Faith Endures. And we had a lesson about faith hope and charity and how they work together to reinforce each other and work in your lives.

And I was a relief society teacher at the time, but I wasn’t teaching that week. about six months later, I told this story as part of one of my lessons. and

I said, it was enough that I had a question on my heart and an answer came to me quietly. That would’ve been enough. And I would’ve counted that as a miracle.

In fact, I did.

But then that many different people were involved in reinforcing that answer to my prayer. And until that day, everyone who was involved in that was in that room and none of them had known. I said, “that to me is the reason why we gather together, you never know whose prayer you’re answering.”

Pregnant with Baby Number 4 – no homebirth options available

Bronwyn: So I did end up getting pregnant with number four. My dad did come home from the hospital, although he never fully recovered and more on that later. But then I had to make some decisions about what to do with this pregnancy. I asked every midwife in a two hour radius. Actually right before I got pregnant, the state law changed and midwives were considered independent practitioners.

And while we all celebrated that it meant that they were all extra picky about their clients that year. And so almost all of them told me, personally, I think you’re gonna be fine. Professionally, this is career suicide. And A lot of them offered to come with me to the hospital instead. And so I took one of them with me as a bodyguard.

that ended up being my longest pregnancy, which every day that I was pregnant, I just celebrated. And I was grateful. And especially every day after 26 weeks and four days, I took my kids out to lunch that day said we are celebrating that I am still here. I’m still healthy. The baby is still growing healthy inside of me

Bronwyn: and everything’s okay. So every day after that was a real bonus, but I ended up going the longest of any of my pregnancies. And one’s labor got going. It was only three and a half hours. And as I was pushing her out, I looked down and I had the midwife and the OB sitting side by side waiting for my baby.

And I said, you know, I have the best of both world. I think it, it worked out as it was supposed to. And a couple of days later, another midwife that I know called me to congratulate me and she said, you’re the talk at the town. I said, what are you talking about? And she said, the news of that birth spread to a bunch of the other hospitals in the area, and everyone was talking about, there was a VBAC with a classical scar.

And I thought maybe that’s, one of the reasons why, because everything would’ve gone fine at home, that, that birth went totally fine, but no one would’ve known about it. So I don’t know what seeds were planted that day, but I do think that it made an impact on a lot of people that it wouldn’t have if it had happened at home.

A miscarriage, and sadness about wanting baby 5.

Bronwyn: So stop me if you’ve heard this one before. No one would have thought the worst of us, if we decided to be done with kids at that point, we had four healthy kids at that point. It was boy, girl, boy, girl. Like it just, it was all square and wrapped up in a nice, neat bow, but I knew there was at least one more.

Uh, and I did end up getting pregnant when my fourth was about two and a half. I figured it out at my niece’s wedding. And I kind of wanted to tell people, even though it was ridiculously early. It’s just silly and I’m sure you know, how chaotic weddings are. I didn’t want to, detract from anything. it was one where we all had to travel in.

So we were together for several days, but I just said, okay. I would like to tell people, but I’ll wait a few weeks. And then one week after the wedding, I started bleeding and I ended up having a miscarriage really early, but still, I think you can. You get the dreams in your head almost immediately, you can picture what your life is gonna be like.

You can picture that child. And the really weird thing was the next year when I would’ve had that baby, I knew five separate people who all had baby number five. not just that they had babies, they all had baby number five. So the fact that I could have been among them was it was really hard. And I didn’t know.

My husband felt done, but I didn’t.

Bronwyn: What it would be like to say I’m closing off my, my time of having babies with a loss, because after that my husband was done, he’s I feel like this is it for us. This was a big trial. , I don’t know what it feels like to be done, having kids. So he and I both felt like we were getting revelation about our family and it was diametrically opposed.

What do you do about that? There’s no compromise. So it was kind of a point of contention over the next couple of years, but I didn’t know exactly what to do about it. I got into some birth work, but it’s just not quite the same. And then all of my kids started school.

My Hallelujah Baby

Bronwyn: And in that fall of 2015, I got a phone call from a stake high council.

and he was issuing a calling. He asked me to be the choir accompanist for the stake choir. That stake had a rich tradition of holiday music. And my husband and I had been in that choir for as long as we had lived there. But I said, are you sure you want me? you know, I’m not a professional musician. I’m just someone who worked hard in piano lessons.

And he said, this is what I’m feeling prompted to do. Well, that calling became my part-time job. When my kids would go to school, I spent almost the entire time they were gone banging away on my piano , I had to learn seven or eight songs. One of them was Hallelujah Chorus, and that took up most of the time.

the performance went very well. I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea that immense amounts of stress can do unpredictable things to a woman’s cycle. And the punchline is, nine months later on September 22nd. I had my hallelujah baby.

Bronwyn: Ah, it was not easy. I ended up a lot sicker in that pregnancy than I had been previous ones, Which is another thing, I would’ve gone the rest of my life saying, oh, I was just one of those women who didn’t get sick while pregnant. Well, if you think you have a pattern, have another baby, because you never know what will come up.

It was so powerful to sit with my Dad and my Son while they were Both Straddling the Veil

Bronwyn: But, the bigger trial was that it became obvious that my dad was in his last days. I was 27 or eight weeks when, he came home from a hospital stay for the last time. My family all gathered together. I flew down there for his last three days. He was mostly unresponsive by then, but I sat with him and , I put his hand on my belly so that he could feel the baby kicking.

That was a very active baby. And it was so powerful to sit with my dad and my son while they were both straddling the veil.

There’s an essay in the book. I think it’s called the hourglass theory and it really spoke to me about what I was experiencing at that time. she’s talking about losing a pregnancy and she’s talking about losing her grandmother and she says maybe we don’t come into our bodies all at once. And maybe we don’t leave all at once.

Maybe it’s like an hour glass and we trickle over and we trickle back. And I think there’s something to that because the veil was so thin. and I like to think that maybe my dad and my son got some time together. I don’t know exactly how it works, but my dad died when I was 28 weeks. So the rest of that pregnancy was really tough and it was summertime and I was third trimester.

But I thought maybe things will go away after the birth.

I had a Great homebirth, but difficult recovery.

Bronwyn: I ended up having a great home birth, the same midwife that I brought with me to the hospital the previous time. she took me at home that time and it was beautiful on the first day of fall. longer than I thought it was gonna be though.

Again, once you think you have a pattern, don’t count on it because sometimes. Things throw a curve ball at you. It ended up being a 14 hour labor. And part of the reason why we think is that the cord was around his neck four times. so once he came out, I heard everybody in the room counting 1, 2, 3, 4, as they were unwrapping him.

But, everything went fine, but it took a long time to recover from that birth. And I. The whole time I was thinking, I’m just older now. my kids are older and they’re more active. and it was really hard to lose my dad. Maybe that’s why I feel so sick.

Well, I pursued a diagnosis afterwards.

I got a ton of blood work done and it turned out I had Lyme disease, Epstein bar virus, and west Nile virus while I was pregnant.

So it took about a year to recover from that.

And then I don’t know, my husband was completely overwhelmed and he said, I think we’re done, but I have never really lost that feeling that maybe there’s another one out there.

The difference is now I don’t have the frantic feeling about it. I have learned from the previous time, if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.

And so I have a lot more trust in Heavenly Father about that. So those are my stories.

Each birth had a special learning message

Sheridan: Wow. Thank you. I love each of your births was so unique and had a special learning message, for you, like you chose to learn something from each experience. And I think that’s just so beautiful.

And I, I do especially love that last thing that you mentioned about not feeling frantic, like you maybe don’t feel that done feeling, but you also aren’t frantic about it because you know that God can make it happen, if it’s supposed to happen. And I think that is a very impactful message because I think this often happens that one of the

spouses is like I’m done and the other one’s I’m not so sure. And figuring out how to balance that, because you did say there’s no compromise with that. You can’t like have half a baby or, it’s so I think that’s a really beautiful message that can give people hope.

And just knowing that it can all work out the way that it’s supposed to. And even if you guys don’t have another baby that’s okay. And it’s okay. so thank you so much for sharing your experiences. They were so beautiful.

Bronwyn: Yeah, I have shared the birth stories before, but I’ve never shared it from the spiritual perspective.

So I was really excited to do that.

Sheridan: Yeah, it’s neat, how looking back. I mean, sometimes we see the spiritual perspective in the moment for sure. Sometimes that happens, but I know for me, I had all my babies before The Gift of Giving Life book. And I didn’t think about it from a spiritual perspective, but looking back, I can see the spirituality of each of my pregnancies and births and like little moments of it.

So it’s neat to be able to share that. and I love that you were able to do that today. Yeah.

Advice for new moms – create your own story

Sheridan: So the last question that I always love to ask is that if you could give advice to a young woman just starting out her mothering journey, what would it be?

Bronwyn: So I love this question and I love how different everyone’s advice is and it’s all good.

because we’ve all had different experiences with that, but mine has been the same for the last about 10 years. And I tell people. Go ahead and listen to my stories and to your moms and your sisters and your best friends and that random lady at the grocery store who sees your belly. And she has to talk to you.

Bronwyn: That’s all good, but this is your story. And you are under no obligation to reenact their story or to fulfill their expectations. You can love them and not carry their story. This is your story, and God knows you individually, and this will be your.

Sheridan: I love that. And I still use, I mean,I use this technique in a sense in my life.

if someone shares a parenting experience of like teenagers or young adults, cuz that’s the stage of life I’m in. And I just say that’s their unique experience. Similar, that’s their story. What story am I gonna create? And it’s so empowering to realize that everyone has their own unique experiences.

Sheridan: I can honor their experiences, but I don’t have to replay them.

Bronwyn: Exactly.

Sheridan: And I think that is a beautiful message for a young woman just starting out. And even that goes with like your experiences, you had five very different birth experiences. Each story was its own unique story. which makes sense because each of your children is their own unique person.

I love that. Thank you. That’s beautiful.

Well, you did tell me you don’t have a website or something like that, but you also said that you’re happy that if anyone wants to talk to you or contact you, they can reach you through me. So I will reiterate that if you’re like, I really wanna like email Bronwyn and ask her a question, just reach out to me.

You can find my contact information at thegiftofgivinglife.com and then I’ll pass it on to Bronwyn. So anything else you wanna add right now, as we close out our interview?

Bronwyn: I. Yeah, I just, I love looking at birth in any possible way, whether it’s the physical, emotional, spiritual, I love birth.

Sheridan: Great. Me too. It is wonderful.

And I love that, that you were willing to come today and share your experiences with me and with everyone who listens. So thank you so much.