San Diego’s Most Inspiring Stories – San Diego Voyager Magazine
Today we’d like to introduce you to Care Messer.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Care. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began in Utah with small-town ideals, hoping to end up with a few kids and picket fence by the end of my life. I worked several jobs to get my husband through law school and once he began his own practice, we bought our first home in San Diego. During those years of schooling, I had six miscarriages. The pain was too great to hold on to the kid dream – so I let that go. But fate (or angels) brought us an amazing foster daughter who was five years old. We fell in love with her and we finally adopted her by the age of eight. We then got a puppy and called our family complete.
Then fate (or angels) stepped in again. I was 37 and pregnant – and it stuck this time. I was terrified of birth but more scared of losing a baby again. We were having a girl. I ignored the pregnancy and told no one until I was almost 7 months along. It was then that I found out from my doctor that I was allergic to the drugs that would be in my well anticipated epidural. What? Now I have to do birth without drugs? I cried for 2 weeks, I was so scared. My niece pointed me towards the HypnoBirthing method which she used with both her kids. As ridiculous as it sounded to me at the time – I had nothing else to go on. I drank the kool-aid, hired a doula, switched my care to Best Start Birth Center and had the most amazing birth experience. It changed me as a woman. Why had no one told me that our bodies were powerful? Why had no one told me that birth could be empowering and connected? This new information and experience uprooted every belief system I had in my life.
The foundation of HypnoBirthing had also prepared me to go with the flow of “whatever turn my birthing may take.” While my birth was amazing, my baby was born with unpredictable special needs and given 24 hours to live. We stayed 8 days in the NICU and brought little Finnley home with hospice care. Long story short and through many miracles(or divine timing) – Finnley lived. Finnley is the reason I opened the Birth Education Center and why I teach about connection and birth. Finn is a quadriplegic, with cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She doesn’t walk, talks or really communicate. She LOVES Hip Hop and pom poms and has an infection giggle. Finnley is the life that helps babies come into the world peacefully and with a powerful connection to their parents.
When Finnley was a year old, I trained as a doula and the next weekend as a HypnoBirthing instructor. My first business, San Diego HypnoBirthing was born. I began teaching classes two weeks after my training and have not stopped. My husband left when Finnley was 3 and Angie was 14. We have not seen him since. Angie began to take care of Finn at night so I could teach to support our family. While it was hard for me, Angie gave up four years of high school to take care of Finnley since there was no spousal or child support, so we could make it financially. I will forever be in her debt for making such a sacrifice for us.
After a random tax return that I was not expecting(more fate and angels), the Birth Education Center was created – spending every cent of that tax return to the penny to open our doors. Divine timing is something I not only believe in – it has been proven to me over and over when it comes to the work that I am to do.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My husband had a secret life that was quickly unraveling in the background around the time Finnley was born. I did not have the full story when I asked him to leave but we had already lost our home and declared bankruptcy as he had been disbarred without me knowing it had happened.
I was penniless, scared, angry and overwhelmed but had two girls that needed me. Finnley has needed many surgeries over the years and her high medical needs have kept us busy. It’s just a kind of lifestyle with so much work that you can’t explain to people unless you live it. It was extremely taxing on Angie’s and my relationship as mother and daughter because she became the other parent in a lot of respects. She lost precious years she cannot get back and at the same time, I see the strength and responsibility it taught her. I don’t believe it a chance and I understand hardship and challenges are there for our expansion if we choose to see it that way.
It has been my love of birth and sharing a connection with parents that has fueled me through the days I didn’t think I could get through.
Please tell us about Birth Education Center.
Our Center supports all types of birth – medicated, not-medicated and belly births(sometimes known as C-sections). We offer HypnoBirthing birth classes, fear release classes, breastfeeding, CPR and newborn classes, We have a free breastfeeding support group on Mondays for the public as well. We also have a free Doula Matching program and work with an incredible of group of highly trained doulas that take extra education in order to work with the Center as independent contractors.
I think there are three main things that set the Birth Education Center apart:
1) We offer evidenced based classes and adapt the curriculum to new science and studies come out. This allows parents to base their birth and intervention choices based on evidence rather than fear or lack of accurate information.
2) We help parents to shift the birth focus off of themselves and understand that they already had their births. This is their baby’s birth and they need to invest time into seeing who shows up at that party. Our gestation and birth shape our life and set patterns that stay with us(we go over this in birth class). If a baby can come into a room gently and be allowed time to assimilate slowly into our world, it teaches them that it’s safe out here and you can trust these people. We are creating a human being and their gestation and birth need to be honored as such.
3) We connect our parents to each other, their baby and to the best resources, San Diego has to offer. We work with midwives and doctors who believe in a woman’s ability to birth and to birth well. Choosing the right provider early can make all the difference in the birth that you have, We are linked in with all best maternity supportive providers including pelvic floor providers and birth trauma workers who can help afterward if birth went sideways or had unexpected events. Women need support during pregnancy and after birth – we provide that.
Birth is birth no matter how this baby comes into the world and it should be sexy and delicious.
I’m probably known mostly for my “irreverent and over the top” vocabulary when it comes to birth. Cavernous, floppy vaginas that resemble Manta Rays are the easiest way to have babies “just fall out” so we use that as a visualization technique in birth classes. I think outside of the box, push edges and never let a joke pass me by. Birth and death are a great honor to be apart of but we don’t talk enough about either one.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
In Utah, there is a spot in American Fork Canyon called Vivian Park. It has a big grassy area for picnics and the Provo River with its high rapids and beautiful river sounds run through it. It has steep canyon walls that cast a cool shadow across the park on the hottest summer days. This is where our family came to escape the heat of the valley, picnic or play ball. No cell phones, no interruptions, and only our new Kodak disc camera to capture the day. When I look back at the happiest parts of childhood, I feel a real connection between people with no filters added. It was simple and lovely. I miss it. Probably why I am drawn to teach and recreate it with people.