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

On Motherhood and Midwifery

When my second son was born in December 2009, I transitioned from midwifery into a more supportive role at Special Beginnings. Since then, I have managed our social media platforms, taught baby care, sibling preparation and the occasional breastfeeding classes. I have continued to attend births in the nurse’s assisting role. I love being a midwife, it is the joy and purpose of my life…second only to being a mother! I gave birth to a daughter in 2012 and I am incredibly fortunate to be a mostly-at-home mom while continuing to support family centered, beautiful birth center births.

The bittersweet milestones of our children’s lives bring them ever nearer to their independence. It’s the juxtaposition of our jobs as parents to prepare them while we cherish their smallness, their unfolding. My youngest will enter kindergarten in the fall. My big guy just turned ten and my little guy is in first grade. My kids are nowhere near moving out and moving on! However, my days of nursing babies and toddlers and diapering and existing as the center of their universes have developed into days of cheering on their endeavors and marveling at the thoughts they think. I still kiss ouchies and hold hands, and now, we read bedtime stories to each other. I create boundaries and keep them safe. But I no longer smell like breast milk, nor do I follow the kids around the playground.

And so, it is with great pleasure and contentment that I return to the role of Certified Nurse Midwife with the practice at Special Beginnings in a part- time position. I love getting to know our clients and families during prenatal appointments again. It makes birth all the more precious to me when my hands have tracked your baby’s growth and we have sat together and envisioned your baby’s birthday.

I am thrilled to return to gynecological care. I like to solve problems, like a woman’s health Nancy Drew, and I love the stories that women have to tell. The strength and persistence of women is the story of the earth itself. I look forward to working with you.

Melissa Youssi, CNM


Our Laurel Flies South


There is no doubt at all that Laurel loves babies.

Laurel Naff, RN, IBCLC, came to Special Beginnings in 2002 as a LPN and birth assistant. In the 14 yrs since, she has become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and a Registered Nurse. She took on the role of Director of Nursing. After hundreds and hundreds of births, so many sweet new babies assessed and kept warm, so many nursing mamas helped through struggles, so many strong birthing mamas and the loving families that surround them, so much traveling from Easton to Pykesville to Takoma Park to Lutherville and everywhere in between for postpartum home visits…  Laurel is leaving the birth center and moving to Naples, Florida. Though it breaks our hearts to say good-bye, we know that the mothers and babies down south will be as blessed as our birth center families have been to have the benefits of Laurel’s smile, skill and caring touch.

Safe journeys to Laurel and Chuck as they sail south. She will be sorely missed. Feel free to leave comments and notes to Laurel below to express your own gratitude for how she impacted your pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences.



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!

A message from Myra DeLuca

I have had the extreme privilege of being a part of Special Beginnings Birth & Women’s Center for the past 2 ½ years now. I have witnessed the strength of women and the power of birth, gaining an even stronger belief in the normalcy of pregnancy and birth.

When I came I had the knowledge of childbirth. Thanks to the midwives, nurses, and clients here, I have gained the wisdom of the art of being a midwife.

It is because of this that my decision to leave Special Beginnings is so difficult. Due to family circumstances I will be moving back to Pennsylvania to be closer to my grown children and grandson. I will be practicing as a midwife in DuBois, PA at Life’s Journey OB/GYN. My last day with Special Beginnings is May 26th.

I am thankful to have had the experience of working in such a wonderful birth center. I am absolutely sure that I have been changed as a midwife because of my interactions with each of you. Please know that I have will forever value the memories I have made here in Maryland. My hope is to be able to use my experience here as a tool for me to go forward and serve the women in rural Pennsylvania. It is with hope that I will open a birth center there in the future – which would not have been possible without these past 2 ½ years full of experiences.

Peace, Your Midwife, Myra

Myra DeLuca, CNM, MSN
Director of Midwifery
Special Beginnings Birth and Women’s Center

Special Beginning’s 19th Birthday Party

Birthday Party 2016_resizedPlease join us for our 19th Birthday Party on Friday, the 6th of May from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
Enjoy Birthday cake, refreshments and visit with the midwives; so come join us.  Ashley Woodruff CNM has just joined our practice and we would love to have you meet her.
Face Painting by Crystalooneys and Moon Bounce for the children.

Meet Pamela Barone, CNM


Pam Barone, CNM
Pam Barone, CNM


Pam joins the team of midwives at Special Beginnings in a temporary position. She is originally from the Towson area, but relocated to South Florida for a few years. Pam and her family have recently returned to the Baltimore area. She and her husband have four children, ages 15 to 24. Here, she shares the story of how her first son’s birth and his journey transformed her life. This is Pam’s call to midwifery, in her own words:



It has been nearly 25 years since my first child was born on the day that changed my life forever. The delivery room was completely quiet, except for the cry of my baby. Something was wrong. He was scooped away, over to a corner where the doctor and nurses surrounded his tiny body. I desperately wanted to see him. The physician was empathetic and warm. My mom was calm and unnerved. And I was devastated.

But the nurse was incredibly special. She was there for all of us. She laid my baby in my arms, showing me where he was missing four fingers, commenting on his beautiful eyes and hair. His leg looked deformed and I worried about all the invisible things that may be wrong with him. But the nurse was soothing and hopeful. She made the difference. She created special moments for me. It’s difficult to describe: it’s the little things she did and didn’t do, the things she said and didn’t say.

I can’t remember every detail of that day, but I remember the moments. A single moment can be a lifelong gift. Some of them rise above the rest. I fell in love with my son the moment I saw him. The moment he looked at me, I vowed to never leave his side.

The moment I left the delivery room, I knew my calling. What a defining moment! I was 17 years old. Events from my childhood, my birth experience, my nurse, and being a teen mom all inspired me to pursue a career in nursing. I became a nursing assistant first and went to school, class by class. I graduated nursing school in 1995 and began working in Labor and Delivery right away. A year later, I became certified as a doula. Next, I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. One step at a time, I climbed toward my dreams and in 2002, the midwife in me was born.

Twelve years later, I still feel deeply that to practice midwifery is an honor and a privilege. I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Beyond birthing babies, I enjoy witnessing the birth of a mother and her family. Midwifery is an expression of who I am on the inside. It is so rewarding to protect both the fragility and strength of women, to advocate, teach, empower and nurture. It’s about heart and hands and mind, and the ability to touch a life in a way that neither of us will ever forget. This is the art of midwifery to me and my life is richer and more meaningful because of the experiences… because of the moments.

Pam & family
Pam & family