Sleep Support Story

“Our daughter Journey is almost 21 months old and my wife, Journey, and I are still reaping the huge sleep benefits from calling on the expertise of Sarah. Being a stay at home dad, I had the luxury of catching up on missed sleep when Journey naps. But my wife being a cardiologist did not have the same fortune. After reading several helpful books on sleep training, nothing could compare to listening to Sarah explain to the both of us how to correctly train our daughter to sleep. She answered all our questions and her confidence reassured us that we were on the right path. I only wish I would have called her sooner. My wife and I have several friends who have recently had children. We will definitely be making sure they reach out to Sarah when they start their journey into sleep training.”

-JO, Oklahoma – April 2016

Unsupportive and out of touch: Why I won’t recertify with CAPPA

On 11/15/18, I shared the following with CAPPA, which is “an international certification organization for Doulas, Childbirth Educators and Lactation Educators”.  I learned in response that “the educational committee has let [the Manager of Corporate Operations] know that they will not be reviewing the information until after the new year” even though I requested a response before my certification lapsed 12/15/18.  What a disappointment that they could not respond in a respectful one month time period.  
I wanted to share why I won’t be recertifying as a CAPPA doula and why I will encourage interested doulas to certify elsewhere. Please share my comments with the director of the Labor Doula Program.
I was reviewing the certification and recertificaiton requirements and found that CAPPA is still holding on to the archaic and discriminatory certification requirement that doulas attend 3 births, but none may be scheduled cesareans.  Yes, the skills of assisting a person through laboring stages are essential and even center to the profession, but learning how to educate, support and hold space for families that have to schedule a cesarean are no less important. These skills can be taught and reviewed just like laboring support.
[A CAPPA representative on Facebook] and I went back and forth on CAPPA Connection on Facebook and I wanted to share my feedback with the organization directly.

I think CAPPA needs to review and change this stance for the many reasons. By not allowing a scheduled cesarean for certification, CAPPA is communicating that cesareans are not real births and that doula support is not needed for births through cesareans. PERIOD.

CAPPA can claim they support all birth, but separating out this kind of birth’s support is a striking stance and discriminatory to our clients. Often certifying doulas are on a short timeline to finish and would have to turn away a client with a schedule cesarean. What does that communicate to the community we serve? No wonder doula support isn’t as often utilized in the [Operating Room], we aren’t seen as essential there, even from our certifying body. There are 3 births required, so allowing one to be a caesarean would allow doulas to showcase the prenatal, postnatal and in OR support (if applicable) they have learned. Cesarean births require DIFFERENT doula skills, not NO doula skill nor LESS doula skills.

It’s time that CAPPA update the certifying births requirement.


Sarah Branion

On why I became a Surrogate

In this time between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I can’t help but be thankful for my family.  I am raising two beautiful girls, whom we call Littles and Tiny, with a wonderful man.  Our family is complete, growing older, and thriving.  For some, Mother’s and Father’s Day isn’t as joyous and that’s just one of the reasons I became a surrogate this year.  There are numerous reasons my family made this choice with me, and I’ll share five of the biggest ones here today.

A Sister’s Promise –

When I was younger, I remember making a promise to my sister, Amber, that if either of us couldn’t have children, the other would carry for her sister.  I have no memory of what prompted that promise, but I have always remembered that.  As fate would have it, she was blessed with three kids and me with two.  It turned out I wouldn’t need to carry for her after all, but the promise of that day planted a seed in the back of my mind.

The Birth of Littles –

Giving birth to our eldest daughter was one of the best, most empowering (though extremely difficult) experiences of my life.  The love and support I felt by my husband, doula, midwives and nurses was an amazing circle of support.  It inspired me to become a Birth Doula and Baby Sleep Support Coach.

Working with families as they birth and raise their children has changed my perspective on women in many ways.  One is discovering the fierce, animalistic ferocity that lives within each of us, and also the tender, painful, loneliness that can be motherhood. Working with women has become a passion for me. Therefore, I connect deeply to issues affecting women and mothers, including the need for IVF, adoption and gestational carriers or surrogates.

The Prevalence of Infertility –

“About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When it took more than a year and medication to conceive Littles, moments of fear, sadness and desperation crept into my heart.  There were many months were I feared I could not have children.  And, after an early first trimester miscarriage, I worried I lost my only shot.  But then, Littles came along and rocked our world.

Just because we could have children doesn’t mean infertility doesn’t matter to me.  Because, there is my friend “A” who was trying to conceive (TTC) for around 5 years and could not get pregnant.  She and her husband “M” are EXACTLY the people in this world who should parent.  But alas, month after month, they came up empty-handed.  Also, there is my friend “K” who had birthed one beautiful child, but experienced secondary infertility and tried for years to have a second child.  After thousands of dollars, surgery and medication, she was left waiting and wondering if she could have another child. And, then there are our friends “N” & “B” who had a high-risk pregnancy resulting in the loss of her uterus when she birthed her son.

All of the stories on the spectrum of infertility inspired me to “do something” about it, both the anonymous statistics (I see you!) and friends who strived and are striving to create a family.

The Birth of Tiny & the Creation of Siblings –

I could not prepare for the joy I have experienced watching my girls become sisters.  Littles is the sweetest, most nurturing sister who says things like “I love tiny, she’s my best friend in the holy world” and “it’s ok, baby, you can have some of mine.” Tiny is also “sweet” but much more of a Sour Patch Kid. But, you can tell she loves her sister, you should see her hug Littles so hard that she shakes.

Watching them together fills me with such joy and affirms our decision to have two children.  We also feel deep in our bones that two is the right size of family for us and we are “done”.  I say “done”, because sometimes God sends surprise babies.  I do not like surprises, for the record, and He knows that.

A Spiritual Calling –

I have felt for many years that surrogacy is a deep spiritual calling for me.  There are so many reasons NOT to carry a pregnancy for someone else: weeks of daily injections (no thank you), the birth itself (!!!), the weird comments, and all of the physical/emotional ups and downs of the journey.  However, I deeply resonate with the prayer of “Use me, God”.

When I think of what it means to be a Christian, I think we’re called to do 90% walk the walk and 10% talk the talk.  So, for me, if I can use my gifts (a healthy, working uterus and body) to show grace and love to another family, why wouldn’t I do that? When our family has been given so many blessings, it only makes sense to try to start a chain reaction to pass blessings forward.

My husband and I both believe in sharing grace through acts of kindness in this world, and this is the way we have decided to do that at this time.  And, in a world where the statistics are AGAINST families finding a surrogate, making healthy embryos, the transfer working, and the pregnancy withstanding the first few weeks, it is a miracle of the heavens to announce we are 19 weeks along with a beautiful miracle for another family!

And, that is really what it’s all about: remembering that miracles are not just for biblical days.  They happen here, now. God will provide, and he does provide daily miracles.  To us, for us, with us as His instruments if we let Him.

Why Wonderstruck?

Adj. 1. wonder-struck: affected by or overcome with wonder

Pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting are four major life events that are miraculous, sacred and transformational in nature.

I could never think that pregnancies are boring or routine.

Parenting and supporting your baby in sleeping deserves professional resources like every other major life process and accomplishment.

Labor is unpredictable, exciting, normal and extraordinary.

There is such extreme beauty at every turn of the birthing process and I will never cease to be amazed by the power of a birthing mother. That’s why I am drawn to birth. That’s why I am passionate about serving birthing mothers and partners. It’s miraculous and transformative. The way a family is supported after a new baby enters the family with sleep and other processes can bring so much joy and peace to the postpartum period. Follow me as I journey as a Wonderstruck Doula, overcome by the great honor to serve as a Labor Doula and Sleep Coach.