Spotlight on: Heather Karp, RN

If you have been in labor during the night, you may have been fortunate to have the nursing care of Heather Karp, RN. She loves to take call as birth assistant overnight for the peace and quiet of night time births. It is ideal for her life, as she spends her days with her almost three year old daughter.

Heather gave birth to Livy at AAMC in October 2014 with Joanne as her midwife. She had a long labor and remembers every midwife spending time with her one on one and feeling truly supported.

Some of Heather’s favorite experiences are with women who had prior hospital experiences and are transformed by their birth center births. She wants more women and families to know how wonderful, peaceful and supported birth can be!

Special Beginnings Waterbirth Baby Growing Up!

Today we bid farewell and best wishes to Eli Jacobs. Our clients may not know her face because she has been providing behind the scenes administrative support for Special Beginnings, but she is dear to all of us. If you have sought lactation support, you may know her grandmother, Flossie Rollhauser, IBCLC.

Eli was the first waterbirth baby at Special Beginnings on April 16, 1998! She was born in the jacuzzi tub in Birthing room #2. She became a birth center “office elf” in April of 2016. Eli received her Associate’s degree in Creative Writing from Anne Arundel Community College this past spring and heads to St. Mary’s College of Maryland next week. She plans to major in English with goals to pursue writing and publishing.

We wish Eli all the best in her endeavors and thank her for her hard work and reliably positive attitude!

Severna Park Voice Article

Thank you to the Severna Park Voice for this nice article in today’s paper!

A little more than 20 years ago, Nurse Ann Sober met a midwife and realized that she wasn’t alone in her philosophy on childbirth. Continue reading…

Special Beginnings Receives Best Practice Designation

Special Beginnings is very proud to have received from the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) the designation of a “Triple Aim” Best Practice for the year 2016. This means that we achieved nationally established benchmarks for physiologic birth including high breastfeeding rates, low preterm birth rates and low primary cesarean rates.

ACNM gathers data every year to monitor, maintain and improve the quality of midwifery care in this Benchmarking project that aims to provide quality assurance by midwives and for midwives. The data analysis provides evidence of the improved outcomes that midwifery care produces and emphasizes how important it is that all families have access to midwives!

For more information, see the ACNM website at

A Message from Director Ann Sober

Hi Friends,

I heard a rumor that Special Beginnings is closing! We are definitely not closing! We are building a great midwifery team, updating to electronic medical record and investigating the purchase of an ultrasound machine. We have seven fantastic midwives working to meet your healthcare needs, including gynecological care for women of all ages. My team and I are committed to midwifery care and we will continue attending families having safe, healthy births in the locations they choose. So rest assured: Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center is here for you.

Ann Sober, RN, Owner and Director of Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center

Thank you!

Special Beginnings clients and staff members are as so devoted to the birth center that they brought their families out to celebrate our 20th Birthday, despite the rain on Saturday, May 13! So many smiles were shining through the dreary weather… We LOVE our families! A few pictures from our party are included below, and we will be sharing additional stories as our milestone year continues. Thank you for celebrating with us!

Meet Leah, a Lactation Consultant at SBBWC

I became interested in becoming a lactation consultant after the birth of my first child 14 years ago. Our breastfeeding journey was a difficult one. My son had difficulties latching after my long labor and birth and a deep suctioning. We did not have the best of starts nor did we have the support we needed like you find at our wonderful birth center. After he lost a lot of weight, and I needed to start supplementing breastfeedings, my husband and I hired a lactation consultant to come to our home. She was wonderful. She was patient and kind. She didn’t speak down to me. She sat with me as I cried. I will never forget her kindness. Nor will I forget that she saved our breastfeeding relationship.

As the birth of our second son rapidly approached I found out that there was a breastfeeding week long education course that I could take. That was the start of my journey, 11 years ago, toward becoming an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I wanted to help other mothers. I saw the gap in help for breastfeeding. I saw the lack of good knowledge by most care providers. I saw the tears and felt the desire to help fix the issue and dry the tears.

Not only was I determined to help in the community, I ultimately went to nursing school to become a lactation consultant in the hospital. I was so smitten with nursing care that I spent a year working in adult critical care. I learned so much! All of my knowledge working in critical care in Florida as well as neonatal critical care lactation work in Texas has given me an amazing knowledge base to draw on for our patients here at Special Beginnings. I am so blessed to be here to provide lactation help for our patients as well as any other breastfeeding mothers that come to us for help.

Please feel free to call or text me with any questions, concerns, or desires to schedule a lactation appointment at 813-420-8382

Leah Mason-Virgin, IBCLC

Please Join Us – Saturday, May 13, at Kinder Farm Park!

We sincerely hope that you will come celebrate with us the 20th Birthday of Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center!! All are welcome, bring your friends! Here is a link to this event on Facebook – please share!

This event is rain or shine, however, our party is held under the large (dry!) pavilions at the park!! Also, when you enter the park, tell the guard that you are attending the Special Beginnings Birthday Party, you do not need to pay an admissions fee to attend this party. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!


Here are two of our midwives, Ashley and Melissa F, speaking with Kim Knight of ABC2 News on Maryland Spotlight recently, and sharing with the world an invitation to our Birthday Party!

Nineteen Years of Special Beginnings

The doors of Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center opened on May 10, 1997, with the pioneering efforts of a group of people led by Ann Sober, RN, who are dedicated to providing excellent birth choices for all women. Every year since that Mother’s Day weekend, we have hosted a birthday party to celebrate our community and the families we serve. This year, on Friday, May 6, 2016, we celebrated our 19th year. Festivities included face painting by Crystalooney’s Creative Arts, information tables for local pregnancy related services, snacks, excellent company and a birthday cake. The moon bounce, a favorite activity for the children of all ages, was not possible due to the rainy day, and for the first time in 19 years, there were families occupying the birthing suites during the party!

Thank you for 19 years of Special Beginnings! Now what shall we do next year for the big 20?

Special Beginnings Goes to Annapolis


Special Beginnings has been open for 19 years and identified a need to provide limited ultrasound services within the scope of the Certified Nurse Midwife to our clients. In the course of investigating this potential service, we realized that the law governing birth center operations specifically prohibited use of ultrasound.

So, we hired lobbyist Karen Fennel, RN, to approach legislators for support of a bill that would change this practice restriction. We found support in the Senate from Senator Reilly who introduced Senate Bill 600. In the House, Delegate Angela Angel sponsored House bill 1303. We gathered support from the community, the American College of Nurse Midwives and our consulting physicians at Annapolis OB/GYN and then testified during committee hearings.

Our bill passed in both the House and the Senate on the first vote! The bill was signed on May 10, 2016, at the State House in Annapolis. In the picture, you see Ann Sober, RN, Director of Special Beginnings, and Karen Fennel, RN and lobbyist, with our Governor and state leaders during the signing of the bill.

We continue our mission to provide our clients with choices in their care during pregnancy, birth and beyond. If that means taking on the state and local government, then we are up to the task!