Trauma-informed Should Be The Standard of Care...
Where do I even begin?? Thank you from the bottom of my big, overemotional, postpartum heart for all that you did throughout my delivery with E. With the birth of my first son, I experienced so much trauma and the resulting PTSD from it made it SO hard to give myself and him the love and care we deserved for his first year of life.
There was so much riding on this birth going into it- I was so scared that it would be another traumatic experience or that I would need [assisted delivery] again and not be able to get him out safely. Your calm and caring presence - from the first time I met you all the way to after delivery- made this birth experience exactly the healing and redemptive event I needed it to be. As soon as we had chatted the first time, I instantly felt at ease and like my body could actually do this, and that confidence and comfort carried me throughout my pregnancy.
Thank you for holding my hand through tough contractions and procedures, for making the L&D room a place of peace (those fairy lights in the shower?? cmon), for sharing birth stories, for coaching me and helping me get into positions to help the baby descend, and for talking me down when I got scared and emotional about the prospect of c-section or when my prior trauma reared its ugly head. Thank you for sticking by my side through a somewhat insanely long and somewhat bumpy induction experience. Thank you for believing that I could do this so I could believe that I could do it too.
You've given me one of the absolute greatest gifts that I could ask for - a birth experience that I'm proud of (I won't lie, I have been bragging to people a little bit that I helped catch him :) ) I can't overstate how much this means to me or how instrumental you were throughout this experience.
Spinning Babies for the Win
I can't even start to put into words how valuable Shari was through the entire pregnancy process, but especially during labor and delivery. We found Shari at the recommendation of a friend that had worked with her twice before, and after looking into several websites for doulas we set up a Zoom to meet. We knew immediately from her positive energy and passion that she was the right person to guide us through our first pregnancy.
We were able to take our birthing class as well as a Spinning Babies class with Shari, and we successfully turned a transverse baby to a head down position for vaginal delivery. Spinning Babies became an integral part of my pregnancy, and Shari had great recommendations for other providers to help when needed (acupuncture, massage, etc).
It was important to me to have someone on my team that knew my desired birth plan, as well as when and how to pivot if things didn't go exactly as I had hoped. My husband was also really anxious about me being in pain during labor, and she knew exactly how to keep him as comfortable as possible and when to give him breaks. There was no way I would have had the courage or stamina to proceed with my ideal birth plan without Shari, she made it all possible and I couldn't be happier with how everything went.
I feel so fortunate to have had Shari on our team; I wish everyone going through pregnancy and labor/delivery had access to such an amazing support person!
I just cannot say enough good things about Shari. We first met Shari in a childbirth education class when I was pregnant with my first child. I was devastated when my due date lined up with a conflict and she was not able to work with me at that time. But she did give me the name of someone great who supported me through my first delivery (which, unfortunately, ended up being a c-section).
When I got pregnant again, Shari was one of my first calls and she was so amazing providing support throughout my pregnancy and during delivery. I was considering a VBAC and wanted to try to do it naturally, so I knew I was going to need some support. We got incredibly lucky and the hospitals started allowing Doulas back in person shortly before my due date. Shari was there with me and my husband throughout the labor and delivery. She worked with the nurses and midwives there, knew exactly what I needed to hear to get through the pain so that I was able to have a successful, unmedicated VBAC just as I had hoped.
As if that wasn't enough, when I experienced some complications about a week after delivery, my husband reached out to her and she was able to provide information and support to him while I was in the hospital (not allowed to have any visitors). Shari is amazing and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to anyone and everyone!!
My husband and I LOVED working with Shari throughout our pregnancy. When we first hired Shari over the summer doulas were allowed in the hospitals. We were due in January and did not anticipate that changing so we were looking forward to having Shari's support in the hospital as this was our first baby and we were very nervous. Unfortunately the hospitals banned doulas again beginning of December. Shari did everything she could to try and get us an exception but when that was denied she made sure we were completely prepared virtually. I was really distraught by this leading up, but it ended up being just what we needed.
Shari had scheduled a Zoom check-in with us on our due date. I was looking forward to her support that day & sharing some symptoms I was having. That led to Shari suggesting that I check my blood pressure where she was able to quickly identify that something might be off and sent us in to the doctor. I ended up having labor-induced preeclampsia that I would have likely not caught without Shari’s insight. We were induced that day and Shari was instrumental in helping us make all the overwhelming decisions we were faced with when our labor plan went out the window.
All of this happened virtually and we were so reassured when every time a nurse or doctor entered our room they knew exactly who Shari was, and that we would be consulting her before making any decisions. Shari was virtually present consistently when we needed her throughout the day starting with that Zoom at 9:30am and ending with our son’s birth at 2:00am, and the hours that followed. Shari will always be a part of our birth story and fond memories of that day, and for making what could have been a very stressful situation, as seamless and calm as possible. My husband and I also really enjoyed getting to know Shari throughout our time together and consider her a friend. I would highly recommend enlisting Shari to support your pregnancy and delivery, virtually or otherwise!
Before my wife hired Shari, I didn't even know what a doula was. Now I don't think anyone should give birth without a doula, and based on our experience Shari is among the best. Looking back at the birth of our son there were a dozen instances where Shari was the difference between a very positive birth experience (that we're so grateful for) and one that could have been much less so. There are a million variables that can arise during birth, and having Shari's support meant that we were prepared for all of them. Given the potential complications that can arise from negative births it is not an exaggeration to say that having her with us was life changing. From the preparations in the weeks leading up to birth, to the delivery room (driving through a blizzard no less) Shari's impact was immense.
Perhaps equally as beneficial was the peace of mind from knowing that someone as knowledgable, compassionate, and caring as Shari is there for you. Instead of having to think about a million different decisions, scenarios, what ifs etc. that can arise during a birth, Shari's presence allowed my wife to focus on herself and the process of giving birth. I cannot stress how important this is.
As a Dad, it seemed at though Shari's understanding of the process, and intuition for the needs of a birthing mother were clairvoyant. For me having her there was like having a translator to tell me exactly what my wife needed. There is so much that we can't prepare for that I can confidently say that without Shari's guidance I would have been comparatively hopeless to effectively support my wife during birth.
I don't think there is anyone who is more passionate, competent, or truly as wonderful as Shari. We are forever grateful to her.
This review is by no means comprehensive (character limits), so I have told Shari to put anyone in touch with me that may have any questions about our experience.
Double header (secretly wish this couple would have 100 more babies)
Combine the magic of a unicorn, the nerve of a tiger, the protective, matriarchal likeness of an elephant, and the loving affection (and undeniable likability) of an otter, and THAT is Shari. Her force can't be described by basic, human attributes. The energy she exudes is raw and instinctual, worthy only of animalistic parallels.
We met Shari in 2017 through her natural childbirth class. We knew we wanted to work with a doula, but we didn’t know where to start. Fortunately, the universe took notice and from the second we heard Shari speak (which she does so confidently with her entire being), it was obvious that SHE was who we needed. We had a fantastic birth thanks to Shari's support before, during, and after labor. Fast forward 3 years with baby #2: Shari provided the resources and techniques I needed to turn our stubborn guy downward, and was the calm assurance my hubs needed to still his fear of having a “car baby”. (It was close.)
Shari holds space. She holds legs and birthing bits to help prevent tearing. She’ll hold coffee up to your face while you get that first latch going. (She fed me pancakes while we waited for our post-birth room. Newly stitched, boobs out, sweat still dripping from my brow, goofy oxytocin smile plastered to my face, and PANCAKES are being delivered to my mouth. A GODDESS, I say!) Hire Shari and don’t look back. She supports birthing people AND their partners. She’s well-liked/respected by her co-birth workers, making a world of difference when it comes to advocating for your birth wishes. If decisions need to be made, Shari is a compassionate sounding board with a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw from. She’s forever embedded in our children’s birth stories, and while I’ve been told that having more babies just so we can work with Shari again is “out of the question” (okay, FIIIINE), our hearts are eternally grateful for hers.
Baby #3... virtual during quarantine
Posted on Facebook | 6.14.20
Yesterday I read the news that new guidelines are allowing laboring women to have one visitor in addition to their partner. In other words, doulas are back in hospitals! My third birth took place at a time doulas were not allowed to be physically present. I wanted to share this story, since his birth took place at a very unique time. If you like birth-y things, as I do, feel free to read on.
With my first, I had done all the things a first time mom would do to prepare for childbirth. We were very happy with our decision to hire Shari as our doula. Incidentally, my daughter was born 2.5 weeks early and due to extenuating circumstances Shari could not be present but texted with my husband the entire time I was in labor. Ironically this was her first “dial a doula” experience.
With my second, we felt we had come full circular with Shari in attendance! For my entire third pregnancy, I debated on whether or not to hire a doula. I thought, “I’ve done this twice before, do I really need more help? But, it’s been five years, and I haven’t really prepared.” A good friend reminded me that I should never question treating myself. So around 35 weeks we contacted Shari again. We knew things were happening with regard to Covid. As the days went by, and I heard more and more news from around the world, I spun into deep anxiety about what hospitals were going to be like when it was time for me to go. At the same time we were finishing up a major home renovation and even had to stay with my parents for a few days while the entire world was screaming on social media “STAY HOME.” There was a lot happening. And it was a very difficult time for me, filled with lots of tears. I feared things would get worse and I’d have to labor without even my partner at my side.
My previous labors were about 10 and 6 hours, respectively. I wanted this one to go quickly and simultaneously didn’t want it to go TOO quickly. I had gone without pain meds before, but this time I felt weak and mentally run down. I had decided whatever happened was ok.
In the middle of week 37, I started having contractions. Mild and nothing worth timing. They continued over the next few days. This was so strange! With my others I never had a contraction until I was in full active labor. Soon enough they intensified. I knew Shari wouldn’t be able to be with us physically but this is when I started texting. All night long they were steadily about ten minutes apart. I stayed home trying to rest. The last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital and be sent home. With two other kids and having to work out middle of the night child care this is not what you want!
By morning, things started progressing and getting INTENSE. I started FaceTime with Shari at 9am. This is when I realized exactly why 3rd time mamas deserve a doula: as my husband was all over the house getting the kids settled and getting everything in the car, Shari was there talking me through every contraction. It was amazing. I realized I would have felt alone otherwise. She stayed on through the car ride, and the walk to L+D. It was eerily quiet since all elective procedures and non essential appointments had been cancelled. The walk to L+D was treacherous and someone kept offering a wheelchair but that sounded worse. With every contraction, Shari told me to stop and lean on my partner. Do NOT touch the railings or walls!
When I finally got to a room and got checked, I was 9.5cm. Not what I was expecting! For the first time in all three labors, my own OB was on call. She was amazing, as was my nurse. I felt safer and more at ease than I imagined. Theodore was born at 12:09pm on 3/26/20, at exactly 38 weeks. My OB even commented how wonderful and impressive Shari’s presence with us, even via FaceTime. Our FaceTime was over 3 hours and my phone didn’t run out of battery - a miracle in itself!
My advice to anyone considering a doula: do it. I am happy to chat more and answer questions!
I have been grateful to know a few other moms who brought babies into the world around the same time. We all felt the same anxieties. And I think, on the other side, we are all feeling strong.
Childbirth Class with a Big Lesson
Shari is an absolutely fantastic doula who helped me through the birth of my first child this past April!! I couldn't give a higher recommendation for anyone. Shari has been a great educator, advocate and friend during the birthing process. My husband and I first met Shari as our childbirth educator at a Prepared Childbirth class we took at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Shari had a great positive energy and led a highly informative and engaging class about what to expect during labor and delivery. She also had intimate knowledge about the hospital, staff and policies at NWH. Upon finding out that I would need a C-section delivery (for which I was not well mentally prepared), we contacted Shari, who immediately offered to be our doula.
Shari made time to meet with us at the hospital to go over scheduled C-sections, worked with me to prepare a birth plan, and was always available via phone and text for any questions I had. I was amazed with how knowledgable Shari was about what to expect. Moreover, Shari is a prompt and reliable communicator, and via text and sharing notes on a Google Doc in the weeks leading up to my surgery, she truly calmed me down in preparation for the big day. On the day of, Shari met us at the hospital and stayed by my side for as long as I needed that day. She kept me distracted (and well massaged!) before the surgery, and was an absolute necessity during the surgery -- giving me a head massage, letting me know that what I was hearing/feeling/smelling was perfectly normal, staying by my head while my husband went to meet our baby boy, and assisting with skin-to-skin when the time came.
I feel so incredibly lucky to have gone through the birthing process with someone as positive, calming, communicative and knowledgable as Shari. Her presence transformed this experience in the best possible way for me. Thank you, Shari!
VBAC Two parter!
VBAC #1 (child #2)
I am so happy to share my experience working with Shari. With my first baby, I ended up having a planned c-section after I went past my due date and an ultrasound revealed that I was having a large baby. While I was so happy to have a healthy baby, I immediately knew wanted to seek a different birth experience with my next child. So when I became pregnant with my second child, I switched to a midwife who suggested hiring a doula and referred Shari to me. When I reached out to Shari via phone, I immediately liked her positive energy and spirit, and after my husband and I met with her in person we knew she would be a great fit.
Prior to giving birth, Shari was great about being in touch and met with us to talk about how her role in our birth story. Whenever I had a question and reached out to Shari, she provided helpful information and in one case even sent a podcast to help. She was a wealth of knowledge and with all the information she provided it was so clear how passionate she is about what she does.
During my labor Shari was absolutely amazing. I had a very long labor and Shari was excellent at coming up with suggestions on how to move things along. While she was an integral part of my birth experience, she did not step on the toes of my husband, midwives, or nurses- she stepped in when it was needed and stepped back when it was appropriate. Shari was a constant support and gave me confidence and help that I needed to achieve an unmedicated VBAC. I cannot thank Shari enough for helping me achieve my goal and I don't think I could have done it without her!
My second night in the hospital, one of the nurses who was with me during my labor came to visit me and remarked on what a great and supportive doula Shari was. I would highly recommend Shari to anyone who is looking for a doula.
VBAC #2 (child #3)
After my 12-week ultrasound with my 3rd baby one of the first people I called was Shari. It was an absolute no-brainer to me and my husband that Shari would be a part of my birth experience again. She had been of great support during my pregnancy and my very long labor with our second child, helping me successfully have an unmedicated VBAC with a large baby. I'm convinced that I could not have done it without her support. She was well prepared and knowledgeable, with a constant calming presence.
With my third baby and second labor, Shari was again a necessary support. Whenever I was asked to make a decision during my labor I turned to Shari for her advice. I had absolute trust in her judgment and expertise and I knew that she had my best interest at heart. She was a constant motivator and support during my labor. For the second time I was able to have an unmedicated VBAC with a large baby and again I am not sure I could have without her!
I would highly recommend Shari to anyone looking to hire a doula- simply put she is amazing!
(received this as a thank you card, from a Hypnobirthing couple)
Hundreds of thousands of people loved each other enough, over long enough time, that we all-- and Tommy, most recently-- have been given a chance at life. While many have contributed, there were few who stood at the gateway and welcomed Tommy into this world. We are eternally grateful to have had [Shari] there. Although he may not realize it, Tommy is grateful too. From deep seed to our brand new branch of the great human family tree, Tommy will grow and extend his leaves because [Shari was] there at the beginning. Thank you!