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 [email protected] 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. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mistmatches

    Lightning Strikes

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  2. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites

    Editorials

    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.
  3. Students at middle school pretend to rape black classmates on Snapchat

    Nation

    The Snapchat had just about every offensive topic the middle school students could cram into a video clip: race-based simulated sexual assaults, profanity-laced slurs and repulsive language that shocked whoever the intended audience was - and, eventually, many more people.

    Students at a Virginia middle school pretended to rape other students on video, which was shared on Snapchat. Reports say white members of a football team enacted the rape scenes while in the locker room. This photo of a standard locker room is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
  4. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. Times files
  5. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]