Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

100 reasons to smile

LARGO

The early Christmas present was delivered — literally — five days before the holiday. Around 8 p.m. Dec. 20, 8-pound-4-ounce Ester Papa made history as the 100th birth at the 2-year-old Breath of Life Women's Health Services and Birth Center on East Bay Drive. "It was delightful, just textbook," said certified nurse-midwife Chris Hilderbrandt. Ester came into the world the way few babies do these days — through an all-natural water birth.

Translating for his wife, Aneda, who speaks Albanian, father Dritor Papa said Aneda found the birthing process "less painful and more comfortable" than when she delivered their oldest child, a 2-year-old boy named Ernest.

"She had a hard time when she delivered our son in (a hospital in) Albania," said Papa, 30. "But with Ester, it was good. This was better."

The Papas currently live in Tampa while Dritor, an Albanian Army captain, is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base for a yearlong assignment. Friends had recommended a natural birthing center, which brought them to Breath of Life.

The center, opened in 2007, is an outreach of New Life Solutions, a faith-based, nonprofit that provides pregnancy and youth education services through its Pregnancy Center of Pinellas County.

The facility, staffed exclusively by women, is the only natural birth center in Central Florida that employs certified nurse-midwives, said administrator Glenda Pearson.

"The certified nurse-midwife is actually a nurse practitioner with a master's in midwifery. It's a higher level of training and they can be the primary care provider for the pregnant mom," she said.

Many of the center's patients choose water births, where the baby is delivered in a birthing tub. Others deliver in a squatting position or lying on their side in a bed. Those positions mimic the way women have birthed babies since the dawn of time, Pearson said.

"It's very empowering. A lot of women say 'If I can do this, I can do anything,' " Pearson said.

Joie Imler, of Clearwater, who was touring the facility, had a similar take.

"They did it in the 1800s," said Imler, 21. "I think I can handle it."

The center's three birthing suites (with "The Garden Room," "The Beach Room" and "Nature's Watch" themes) look like upscale hotel rooms with oversized bathrooms. Each has a large Jaccuzzi-like tub with support railings, a 20-inch flat-screen television, a stereo system with a CD player and iPod docking station and a private patio. Patients can bring aromatherapy candles or use the tub's lights and bubbles.

"It's meant to be as homey as possible," Pearson said. "It's a very peaceful, calm atmosphere."

Moms can have as many people as they want in the birthing suite. A "family room" equipped with a small kitchen, a couch, comfy chairs and a TV holds overflow family members.

The center is all about providing unlimited support and choices, Pearson said.

Rachel Holm, 23, of Clearwater, used the center to deliver both of her children, 1-year-old Virginia and newborn Miller, born Dec. 12.

"It was amazing," she said.

"Everything we had heard and read about Breath of Life, it exceeded our expectations," said Holm's husband, 24-year-old Dan Holm.

As the Holms headed down the hall to an exam room for their follow-up visit, they passed the frames containing photos of babies born at the center.

Ninety-nine so far.

And an open spot for little Ester Papa.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

By the numbers

80 Water births at the center.

2007 Year center opened.

$4,700 Average cost of prenatal care and delivery.

Of the first 100 births:

Largest baby:
10 pounds, 12 ounces

Smallest baby:
5 pounds, 9 ounces

Most popular boy's name:
Gavin (3)

Most popular girl's name:
Isabella (4)

100 reasons to smile 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge

    Bucs

    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  2. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no

    Courts

    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  3. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  4. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee: