Meet the Nerds, Dez and Als, in our pilot episode as we explore how we became birth nerds, some of our thoughts surrounding birth and our hopes for our podcasting future.
Birth Nerd Alert: Wharton's Jelly
Dez: Welcome to The Birth Nerds Podcast: a Utah based podcast in which two friends discuss parenthood, history, and fandom with a unique birthy twist.
*Intro music plays*
Dez: Hello and welcome everyone to the pilot episode of The Birth Nerds Podcast.
Als: Hi everyone!
Dez: I’m Dez.
Als: And I’m Als.
Dez: We have been friends for like ever. We met in Jr High.
Als: Oh my gosh, in like 7th grade. We weren’t really friends in 7th grade but we met in 7th grade.
Dez: Yup. We started running with the same group around ninth grade and we’ve been besties ever since. I mean, we had rough years ‘cause high school happened.
Als: High school. Man…
Dez: And then I got married at 18 like a crazy pants person so… we’ve had our ups and downs, but overall we’ve been really, really tight since we were about 14 or 15.
Als: Yeah. We- I- I… we’ve been talking about this a little bit. We don’t really remember how we met exactly or what--
Dez: I feel like it was probably 7th grade.
Als: ...like who it was that introduced us or anything… It’s just we’ve been in each others’ radar for over half our lives now.
Dez: And we don’t really run with a crowd anymore because we’re both losers. No, I’m just kidding!
Als: Haha we have our own crowd now!
Dez: We- we rule the roost now! I’m a busy mom of two and Als is a newlywed. It’s been almost three years.
Als: Eh, we’ve been married three years. I don’t think it’s…
Dez: It’s been over three years. Holy cow!
Als: It’s been over three years now. I don’t think we’re much newlyweds anymore.
Dez: Whatever. Greg and I made a goal when we got married to always be mistaken as newlyweds. We don’t always do it, but we get it quite a lot. And then they see our two children run past and they’re like, “Oh, wow. They’ve probably been together a lot longer than we thought.”
Als: That’s true.
Dez: So… I know when I got into birth Als. When did you first get into birth?
Als: I remember being fascinated with birth at a pretty young age. I always liked hearing, like, my own birth story. Like, the birth of me. But I remember… it was probably… I was in fourth grade, so about ten years old, and we moved from Arizona to Utah and we were living with my grandma for a little bit before we bought a house, and grandma had cable. And that was the first time in my life that I had cable. And it was glorious. And I remember watching-- oh what was that show called?
Als: Yeah. “A Birth Story” or something? “A Baby Story”? Yeah.
Dez: Some TLC terrible show?
Als: Yeah. Some TLC show. And I would binge watch those and I loved them, and I always thought I would have like a super medicated birth because of how, like, scary they made natural birth sound. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve changed my thought process around that.
Dez: Yeah, just a little bit. You’re planning an out of hospital birth for when you have your, uh, next baby, right?
Als: Yes. I would love to have a home birth. That’s definitely the goal.
Dez: That’s awesome. So, cable TV actually played a role in mine, too. Um, a smaller role though. When I found out I was pregnant, I- it was a Friday night at a party. I was a naughty child and wanted to drink and I wanted to prove to myself and my husband that I was okay to drink. Um. They had coconut rum and it just- it smells really good. I don’t know if you guys are drinkers at all: coconut rum smells amazing. Think piña coladas. And I really wanted some. So I ran up to Wal-Mart and I- I did the full like taking the test in the Wal-Mart bathroom stall because there was no way I was pregnant. We’d been trying for a few months and I’d finally given up and was going to, uh, just wait. You know, I was still very young. Imagine my surprise when it was a positive pregnancy test in that Wal-Mart bathroom stall. So I kind of freaked out a little bit. I mean, we were excited but I also was like, “Oh crap. What did I just get myself into?”
Went Monday morning to the library. I’m pretty sure I skipped school to go ‘cause I was in college. Skipped all my classes Monday morning and went to the library and got every birth book I could get. Every book on pregnancy, breastfeeding… everything. And I read them all. I read that entire library’s section of birth and pregnancy books. Like by the end of my pregnancy, there wasn’t a book in that section that I hadn’t read.
But where cable TV ties in. I got really hooked on “The Sister Wives” TV show. Go TLC.
Dez: We are not sponsored or affiliated in any way.
Als: Sadly… haha
Dez: Uh… but the- the season that I was watching was when Robyn had Solomon. And that’s wife number four with her first baby in the family, although she has two older children with her ex-husband. Uh, but she had a home birth with midwives. And I remember watching this birth scene, and I’m like... First of all, all the other wives are there. Her husband is there and I think a couple of the kids are there. And she’s on her bed, laying on her back, and with each contraction she’s just like reaching up and just gripping the headboard and breathing, and that’s about it. And then she’d look up between contractions and kiss her husband and smile at the other wives. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh. She kept her cool. I could probably do that.”
Uh, because I was so young, I was also being told constantly that I couldn’t have a natural birth. Even as I was learning things… I read “Your Best Birth”, which is the story behind the documentary “The Business of Being Born”. It’s the story that Abby and Ricki wrote about making the documentary. It goes into a lot. It went into doulas and… you know. So I started researching that. But, yeah, I really think for me, the reason I got so into birth was because I was pregnant, but also because it’s just really cool. The more you learn about it, like, the more there is to learn.
Als: Oh, birth is amazing. We’ve been talking about it pretty much for seven years straight at this point now.
Dez: Yup. My oldest just turned seven and-
Dez: We were just talking about how we reconnected shortly before she was born. We had gone out to lunch and actually hung out for the first time since graduating high school. You know, we were still friends. We’d see each other on campus and say hi, but we hadn’t really hung out until a couple weeks before my oldest was born. It’s been about seven years of, yeah, talking about birth and breastfeeding and parenting and all that non-stop.
Als: And here’s hoping to seven years more, at least.
Dez: Seven thousand years more!
Als: And hopefully seven thousand episodes.
Dez: Girl. Yes!
Als: That’s the goal.
Dez: Every thousand episodes, we need to throw, like, a- just-
Als: A party.
Dez: A raging party.
Als: That’d be awesome.
Dez: Throw a kegger. Get you a keg of root beer.
Dez: Als is a good girl and does not drink.
Als: Nope. Don’t drink.
Dez: Which is really good when you’re trying to conceive and have a baby.
Als: It’s true.. Yeah…
Dez: ‘Cause then you don’t have to go to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night and take a pregnancy test to see if you’re okay to have coconut rum, ‘cause the answer’s already no.
Als: Hahaha. Although, you know, speaking of things to not drink when you’re pregnant… Uh… both of us are highly obsessed with Dr Pepper. And… probably shouldn’t be drinking that either.
Dez: Yeah… if you follow us on Instagram, you’ll see that I tried Dr Pepper kombucha. It was terrible. Will not do that again. It was my first time trying Kombucha too, so I don’t know if that’s just par for the course.
Als: I didn’t think it was bad. I’ve tried kombucha before and it was nasty and this one was actually pretty decent, in my opinion. So, should we tell them about our families?
Dez: Sure, you wanna go first, Als?
Als: Sure! So, I am married to my husband Ian and he is wonderful. He’s like the best person on the planet. And I have an angel baby named Drew and that’s the whole of my family right now other than my extended family. And, uh, hopefully Drew will have a brother or sister sometime in the future.
Dez: Send her some baby dust y’all.
Als: Yes, I definitely could use some. I need it!
Dez: I… kinda went into my family a little bit, but… I married my husband Greg when I was eighteen and he was nineteen. We were babies! We’ve been married for the last eight years. We have two babies together. We have Nevaeh who’s seven and Alia who is five, and their birth stories, honestly, were really good predictors of their personalities. And we’ll get into them. I definitely am going to be sharing my children’s birth stories, and I know Aleshia… You are going to share a little bit more of Drew’s story as well.
Als: Yup. Will do.
Dez: Speaking of things we’re going to talk about in the podcast…
Als: So many things.
Dez: So many things. I definitely want to address loss. Not just because of Drew’s story, but also just because I support women in loss. I am a doula and I proudly support birth at any gestation, which I think is the best way to say that because it’s still a birth. It’s still… I mean… If not the birth of the baby, I mean… I know in your case you didn’t actually get to birth Drew.
Dez: But it’s still the birth of a mother in many ways. So I definitely want to address loss and tools around that. Coping for parents and then also just like support groups and things like that. There’s some wonderful organizations that I’ll definitely want to talk about with our loss episode.
Als: And I’m not so much… I guess fact based. But I would really love to talk about like some historic births. I’ve been looking into Victorian births and the- uh Queen Victoria’s births in particular. We’ve talked about doing maybe a Christmas episode about Mary the mother of Jesus and maybe what her experience was as a woman birthing in ancient Israel.
Dez: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, historical but also like cultural births.
Dez: Kinda just taking a deep delve into how birth worked throughout the years throughout different cultures in history.
Als: We all have different traditions around birth.
Dez: Well, and one of the ones that still kills me is the trope that you think of when you think of birth. I mean, I think we’ve all seen the film of the baby being dangled by their ankles and smacked on the bottom by the doctor. We’re going to go into why that was a thing… because in a normal, physiological birth, that’s not a thing that should be happening to your baby. In fact, if your baby is born conscious, that shouldn’t be happening.
Als: Nope! Not at all.
Dez: So we’re going to go into why that was such a trope that we all remember seeing that on cartoons as kids. I definitely found my political stance with birth work. I never really identified as a feminist until I realized how much is at stake and how much feminism can help the entire world. So I definitely want to talk about women’s issues with birth. Um… obstetrical violence… things that most people maybe don’t want to hear about but that are really important. It’s just uncomfortable topics that really need to be discussed.
Als: We are both comfortable talking about the good, the bad, the ugly… everything. So if you’re willing to hear it, we’ll talk about it.
Dez: Yeah. And I feel like we won’t be the most popular in terms of topics that we choose just because they’re uncomfortable. I- with my experiences with my daughters, I had severe postpartum depression and I will definitely be talking about PMADs which is perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. They are the most common complication of childbirth and they need to be talked about more.
Als: Another thing we want to talk about because…
Dez: We’re nerds.
Als: I’ve- I’ve never birthed so it’s hard for me to kind of talk about birth on a realistic level so we’re going to talk about fictional birth, too. Like, how do mermaids give birth? Come on now. We’re gonna talk about this. We’re gonna talk about Harry Potter and why at St Mungo’s there is not a maternity ward.
Dez: Was that oversight? Or was that telling?
Als: You know… knowing uh Ms JK… I don’t think anything’s an oversight for her.
Dez: And then there’s “The Cursed Child”, but we don’t talk about that.
Als: No, that’s- that’s not canon!
Dez: You know what’s canon?
Als: What’s canon?
Dez: The Very Potter Musical series.
Als: Yeah it is!
Dez: We are also not affiliated but seriously, go look up Starkid on YouTube. You will not regret it. Your life will be enriched.
Als: Especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan.
Dez: So… why did we want to start a podcast? We’ve been talking about this for, what, a year?
Dez: It’s been about a year.
Als: it’s been a while.
Dez: ‘Cause you got me into podcasts.
Dez: I- I was listening to some really great ones. We love “The Birth Hour”. We love “Doing It At Home”. We love the Indie Birth podcast… um “Taking Back Birth”. These are shoutouts-
Dez: -to some of our favorite birth related podcasts.
Als: I also love true crime podcasts, like-
Dez: Oh yeah, she got me into those too.
Dez: “Swindled”. “Swindled” is good.
Als: “Swindled” is a great one.
Dez: But we’ve- we’ve been listening to podcasts and I really feel like in our generation it’s a little bit like our version of, “hey, we should have a bar!” Haha “Hey, we should start a podcast!”
Als: “We should start a podcast!”
Dez: But, I mean, hopefully this is a little bit better thought out than “we should have a bar” because… you know.
Dez: Those never tend to go well.
Als: It’s true. And I mean, we’re going to talk about birth regardless of whether we’re being recorded or not so we might as well…
Dez: Share in the love?
Als: I don’t know. Share in the love. And put our thoughts into the universe.
Dez: Well, and talk to each other and to people who actually care about listening instead of chatting Greg’s ear off because this poor guy acted like I was torturing him when I made him listen to our teaser. Um… no, just kidding. He just… he gets so inundated with birth at home all the time. I’m always coming home with different statistics and different: “Ugh. Do you know what this hospital does now?” And he’s like, “Can I just… you’re not even pregnant. Come on!” So… um… we’re giving the husbands a break a little bit.
Dez: Although they’ve been very sweet in sharing and supporting us.
Als: They’ve been great.
Dez: We also just want to give women- parents- new information, more information. Uh… as a doula I believe very much that you cannot have too much information about what you’re getting into. Hospital, home, birth center, freebirth out in the woods, cesarean… all the knowledge is helpful. And we will be discussing all of those scenarios.
Als: Yup. However you wanna birth, where you wanna birth, we- we don’t care.
Als: But we wanna make sure everybody is informed and have as much knowledge as possible.
Dez: Well, and just to empower because information is so empowering.
Als: Yeah. It really is.
Dez: So just to be able to be like: here are some evidence based resources. And we’ll definitely be talking about those. I- I have like a list in my head of people I want to guest on our show. Shoutout to, again, Indie Birth, and Sarah and Matthew from Doing it at Home. Ummm… Rebecca Dekker. I would love to have her on. She’s the girl from Evidence Based Birth. There are just so many people that have so much to share and I would love to be part of them sharing that.
Als: Well, should we explain what our little… uh…
Als: ...gimmick is gonna be? So when you hear this sound:
Dez: That means it’s time for the Birth Nerd Alert. Our Birth Nerd Alert today is all about the umbilical cord. Specifically, Wharton’s Jelly, which is the substance that surrounds the veins of the umbilical cord. It reminds me of like an eyeball when you touch it. Kinda springy. And it helps to protect the veins from being compressed during the process of birth. This is why a loose knot in the cord or having the cord up around baby’s neck is not typically a big deal. Because it’s- I mean, it’s designed to do that.
Als: That’s super cool and really gross.
Dez: A little gross.
Als: But really cool.
Dez: Yeah. No, it really does feel like your eyeball though. Like if you touch it.
Als: Uuuugh. Shivers! Alright. So I guess we’re gonna wrap it up for the day. And we hope to see you next week. It’s gonna be magical.
*Outro music plays*
Dez: Nothing in this podcast is intended as medical advice. Please seek appropriate care for any medical concerns.
Als: Thanks for listening! Join us next week for another captivating episode of The Birth Nerds Podcast.