The Birth of Kairi Celia Belle

Due to several contributing factors with my body my pregnancy was quite a surprise. I don’t like saying my baby wasn’t planned or an accident, the plan had just been for it to be a little later than it was; and we really didn’t know if the plan was possible. When I went to the doctor the options seemed to be more pelvic complications or I was pregnant. The doctor actually said before the test that it was more than likely my typical issues and we talked about trying yet another option. Not that I felt prepared for a baby at that time, but I did pray right there for it. Maybe that was selfish because I didn’t want to deal with more pain than I was already dealing with for no reason. I wanted it to be for something- really, someone. When the doctor came back he was surprised too! I was pregnant! Then reality set in and every thought of “we’re not ready for this” came crashing down. It also didn’t help that the doctor then wanted to discuss with me my high likelihood of an ectopic pregnancy or other complications due to my past surgeries and advised me not to make the news too public as I was only projected to be 4 weeks and 6 days along.

I went home and thought immediately- I have to find a new OB/GYN (I lost count at how many I had seen at number 9- but seeing this doctor last year was the worst. Long story with her basically slitting my insides open unnecessarily while I was 100% conscious). I thank God everyday for helping me find Cindi and Gentle Birth Options. I was nervous because of my history that I wouldn’t be a candidate for an out of hospital birth but when I talked to Cindi she reassured me that it would be fine. Not surprisingly (to me anyway) I had just about every symptom I had heard or read about. My whole pregnancy everyone would ask how I was feeling. My typical answer was always good or at least okay (up until the last 2 weeks or so!); a majority of pregnant women have to deal with symptoms related to it so I didn’t see the point in complaining. I did have some additional pain that others may not have but I gelt like this time it was for something so it didn’t bother me as much.

Flashing forward several months. I saw Cindi Tuesday morning for my first non centering appt. 38w 5d on 4/4/17. We had just moved into our new house the week before and I felt like things were different. At the appointment she said “we might have a baby this weekend, or maybe a couple more weeks.” She also said my baby was very far on the right side and was concerned she may end up posterior during labor. Another woman had just delivered a “sunny side up” baby a couple weeks before she made sure I understood I did NOT want to do that and I needed to lay on my left side exclusively from then on. I of course agreed and just remember thinking, “yeah Friday sounds like a good day.”

That evening was my usual Tuesday night Bible study, I hosted at my house so everyone could see it. My friends all brought wonderful snacks and a cake since my birthday was the next day. Looking back I’m so glad they did so I had a little birthday fun at least. I sat on a ball during the study and was grateful I was at my own home when I noticed I was a little wetter down there. I thought it was a combination of sweat and normal pregnant things. I was huge at this point and sweating A LOT more. I changed clothes and didn’t think anything of it. I went to bed that night around 11pm and set myself up as best I could on my left side (my left hip had been giving me a lot of pain so I really didn’t want to). There was a severe thunderstorm that night and I remember waking up just after 1am to pee and seeing the lightning through the blinds. It was my birthday that day and I had plans to have lunch with a friend who shares my birthday and then to swim afterwards. I had been dying to see what it felt like to swim while pregnant so I was disgruntled by the storm thinking that it would ruin my plan.  I went back to bed as normal not realizing that it wouldn’t just be rain that stopped me from swimming that day. I woke up at 1:40am   I later woke up at 1:40am to a gush of water (thank you GBO for recommending double lining the sheets with shower curtains!!) My first thought was, of course you’re going to share my birthday, thankssss. My husband just asked if I had peed the bed. Ugh! I of course snapped something in regards to do you think I could pee this much!?
Contractions started but weren’t very frequent. I sat on the toilet trying to make sure my water had stopped coming out and texted Katie Murray (my birth photographer) to keep her in the loop and ask some advice. I had thought that contractions would come long before my water breaking so I didn’t want to get ahead of the game and wake up Cindi or Kassie for no reason. She advised me to go ahead and give the after hours line a call. I spoke with Cindi and she said to put on a pad and try and get more sleep- which is what I figured. Each time I tried getting back in bed (twice before I gave up) when I laid down so much water kept coming and I had to keep changing so I got frustrated and paced the floor trying to plan. With just moving I wasn’t completely prepared and still needed to go to the store for several things. I kept telling Kaleb I needed to go to the store and he kept begging me to go back to bed like Cindi said and wait a few more hours. My water was still gushing every few moments so I stayed in the bathroom on the edge of the tub for awhile. I realized I only had one pad left so I NEEDED to go to the store. Kaleb finally offered to go for me but I knew it would be to complicated to explain all the things I needed to I packed and extra pair of underwear in my purse and we went to Walmart around 4am. He dropped me off at the front and as I was getting out of the car there was another huge gush that my pad couldn’t hold. No one was around, it was raining and thank the Lord for black shorts. I hobbled into the bathroom and changed quickly but had to put back on the wet shorts. We went all around Walmart pausing with contractions and checking things off the list. After going home I continued to prepare for my baby to come home later that day. We still had many things in boxes so I was frantic. My mom and sister came over to help with things. Cindi called around 9am to see how I was doing. I hadn’t been timing my contractions but guessed they were about 8-10 minutes apart. Since my water was already broken Cindi asked us to come in for a membrane sweep to stir somethings up. We got there around 10:30am and discussed different ways to move so I could hopefully progress things faster.

After going home and moving on the ball and swaying my hips a lot things really picked up and I started to feel horrible ripping lower back pains with each contraction. Our instructions were to come in when I could no longer talk through contractions. Things progressed and we got to the birth center around 5:30pm. Katie had arrived just before us. Cindi did say she may not end up sharing my birthday after all but at that point I thought for sure she would come before the day ended. Back labor hit me hard and it wasn’t something I was expecting to deal with. Each lightning strike came and felt so unproductive. I had been holding onto the “every surge brings baby closer” and it certainly did not feel that way after the back labor had begun. My team was so amazing though and took turns giving counter pressure to get me through it. Somewhere in all the blur Larissa, the in house chiropractor came in and was comforting as much as possible. I am SO grateful for her going above and beyond like that and for Cindi calling her in.

The birth tub was filled and after trying to relax there for a while I got out. The pain was a bit more manageable it the warm water but I didn’t feel like things were progressing in there. On the bed Cindi checked me and told me she thought I was ready to push. It was just after 10pm. There was definitely a learning curve for this first time mom! I thought I figured it out after not too long and I was still thinking we’d share a birthday. It was about 11:30/11:45 when Cindi said they could see her head! She was almost here and I just needed a few more pushes, or so we thought. As I pushed and pushed and changed positions I was thinking, well she really does want her own birthday, okay.

I remember it was 12:10am when I saw the clock and thought, this is the push!!! We even have a picture of Kaleb’s face excited and happy and me screaming. It wasn’t. And it wasn’t for several more afterward. We continued to change positions and I was truly giving it everything I had.  I remember looking around at Cindi, Christy, Sarah, and Katie and feeling so bad for making everyone have such a long night. As we kept trying new positions and I kept pushing, the clock kept nagging me. I could feel her head only about an inch inside since just before midnight. It was reassuring that the whole time, my baby girl’s heart rate was strong and did not drop.

At about 3am Cindi said I needed to get this baby out or think about transferring to a hospital. I was so opposed of course. I was pushing with every ounce I had left in me and many ounces I didn’t know I had. She let me go two more hours and at 5am we decided to do what none of us want to and headed to the hospital. I was so thankful for Cindi coming with us!

Getting in the car was probably the most difficult part because of the defeated feeling and of course the baby I could feel so closely between my legs. I “sat” with my legs underneath me for the ride there and tried to breathe through the contractions as Cindi has said. That was extremely difficult. My body NEEDED to push and I would say about half of the ride it did. I felt something change after we got off the bridge and thought that I might very well have her in the car. Kaleb was completely silent- at about the outlets I glanced over and saw he was doing the speed limit exactly. I said something to the effect of: “Can you just give me 5 over!?” . After arriving at the hospital getting out of the car was just as difficult as getting in. They wanted me in an wheel chair but I didn’t want to sit on her head so I held myself up. I really don’t know how I had the strength. By the time we got in the room and on the bed I pushed a few times and she was out within minutes. The doctors around had seemed angry when Cindi let them know how long I was pushing but my strong girl was monitored with each contraction after about 2am and her heart rate was constant. I did have a second degree tear but being stitched up didn’t matter at that point. I FINALLY had my baby and with no pain medication or intervention. Baby Girl Howze was born at 6:10am on April 6, 2017. Not the typical GBO birth but I still count it as one. Cindi was right next to the doctor as Kairi was born. I can’t say enough how awesome everyone at GBO is! No hospital would have given anywhere near the support I had from my team every step of the way and I’m confident they would have forced me into a c-section after pushing for a couple of hours with her head showing. After a little over 24 hours we named her Kairi Celia Belle. 💕9lbs 6.6oz 21.5 inches.

The Birth of Jonathan William

The Birth of Eviee

Birth of Kamille

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This birth was quick, and mom was amazing. While planning a birth with the birth center, things took a turn and mom needed to transfer to the hospital for a quick induction due to preeclampsia. With magnesium and pitocin flowing she was determined to go pain medication free. And she surely did! Baby girl was born less than 2 hours after myself and the midwife arrived. Mom and baby were perfect and the family was smitten. Their love was beautiful to witness.

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The Birth Story of Camila Lima Cain

My pregnancy was great and baby and I were very healthy.  We loved GBO and were looking forward to having a nice peaceful delivery at the birth center.  But, as they say, things do not always go as planned!

Ten days prior to my due date, I began experiencing a lot of swelling. After keeping in touch with Cindi over the weekend, she advised us to get my blood pressure checked on Sunday afternoon (8 days before due date).  Sure enough, it was very high.

Next thing I know, my partner, Erika and I are grabbing our birthing kit, baby bag and hopping in the car on our way to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast.  Cindi had prearranged with Dr. Esses to have us admitted right away and was also on her way to meet us there.

We were definitely a bit disappointed and bit scared.  After all, the last nine months we’d been planning our totally natural child birth in a nurturing intimate environment.  Once admitted to the birth center at Sacred Heart, I was diagnosed with severe pre eclampsia. The only cure was to induce labor.

Luckily, my partner, my sister in law and doula, Carrie Cain, and Cindi were all there to support me through this change of birth plans.  I wasn’t able to do any of the labor techniques we had learned in class, since I was hooked up to machines and laying in a hospital bed.  But my body must have known it was time because I was actually having small contractions before they put me on pitocin.  The night progressed and so did my labor.

With my fantastic support team around me, I breathed, focused and pushed through the stages of labor.  Cindi left to get some rest, but Erika was in contact with her via text the entire time.  She was there for us each step of the way as we were making sure the nurses were doing the right things for our birth.

By 2:30am I had the first urge to push.  Erika called Cindi and the nurses called the doctor.  Everyone was in place at 3:30 and little Camila arrived at 3:40! It was three pushes and she was here!  I could never have done it without Erika and Carrie holding each of my hands and encouraging me through the whole journey.

As soon as Camila was born, she was skin to skin on my chest with Erika and I stroking her sweet little tiny body.  Erika was able to cut the cord after it pulsed and we didn’t allow them to take her from us.  Cindi began helping her learn to latch on.  She stayed right by our side for the first hour until Camila was nursing properly and happily.

It was an unforgettable and beautiful experience.  As a first time mom, I did not know what to expect.  But my body knew just what to do.  Under the circumstances, this unplanned hospital birth turned out just fine.  Thank you so much to Cindi and everyone at Gentle Birth Options for all of your support and help along the way!  Before during and after you have been our advocates!  And thank you to Christina for being an amazing lactation consultant and constant resource over the first weeks of Camila’s life.

With gratitude,

Melanie, Erika & Camila

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The Birth Story of Moses Fox

I intended to have a 3rd homebirth with Gentle Birth Options. At my 20 week anatomy scan, we discovered I had complete placenta previa. I sorrowfully had to change providers. At 30.5 weeks I had a big bleed that landed me on hospital bedrest. Moses was born at 36 weeks an hour before his scheduled Csection because I began to hemorrhage. The support I received from Cindi and the GBO staff and mamas has been incredible throughout this journey. I am full of gratitude.

The Birth of Rye Sapphire

The Birth Story of Gariel Otso Alexander

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I had you! It feels like yesterday when I went into labor with you and saw you for the first time. I had been preparing for your arrival and hoping you would arrive while my mom was here all the way from Finland, from late July to mid-August. I was such a nutcase trying to get too many things done before your arrival and I should have just kicked back and relax. But I couldn’t resist the strong urge to nest!

I woke up on Friday, July 13th 2012, at 8 am. I had a regular day with nothing special going on, except for normal aches and pains when you are 37 weeks pregnant. I had seen my midwife Cindi earlier, the previous week, and we both agreed it would be no big deal for her to take a few days off and go for a trip. You were due on July 30th anyway, so she’d surely be back by then. But, my sweet boy, your plans were different and you decided to be born sooner! So, that Friday I went to bed before midnight. Your dad fell asleep soon, but I was awake since I had trouble sleeping. I was so tired but couldn’t fall asleep… and then, after 2 am, came the first, faint contraction. I went to the bathroom and some of the fluids leaked out. I knew I was in labor and Cindi wasn’t in Florida! I called her, of course, and she asked me to lie down and rest. I did and tried to sleep, but I kept having mild contractions every 10 minutes and spent the rest of the night waiting for the morning… when I broke the news to your dad.

Cindi and your wonderful birth assistant Michelle had been in touch and had prepared for me to go to Sacred Heart Hospital in Miramar Beach, since I couldn’t go to the birthing center where I was originally supposed to go. We got up at 7 am and I chilled out in bed, having contractions and skyping my friends and family in Finland, telling you would be born that day. My neighbor Deanne came to lie down with me in bed for a little while. I also had our dogs Roli and Jimmy hanging out with me in bed. I had been awake for 24 hrs, but I felt surprisingly well and calm. I had a shower and we had a good breakfast, before Michelle came to pick us up at 11 am.

I was contracting every 3 to 4 minutes on the way to the hospital and felt great. The contractions felt like strong period pains and I was able to talk and felt good. On arrival in Sacred Heart, the nurse checked me out and I was 6-7 cm dilated. Wow, I thought I’d be less than that since I felt totally fine. They inserted an iv, which hurt more than the contractions, and then I just rested in bed, chatting with Michelle your dad who was excited to see you but calm. He is a medic after all and seen births before, so of course he was calm! I’m sure that he was a tad nervous inside though, since it was YOU he was gonna see soon! I saw the delivering doctor, Dr. Esses, and she broke my fluids. I had just had a leak at night but now they came all out. I still felt great.

The wonderful nurse prepared me a hot bath, and I sat there for almost 2 hours. Michelle and Greg were there and it was all so peaceful and calm (and I occasionally secretly snacked on almonds, I wasn’t supposed to eat as I had a hospital birth but I broke some of their rules!) I was on a good mood and the contractions felt even easier, if possible, in warm water. I had a wireless monitor on, so the nurse was able to follow what was going on with you while I could enjoy the water. I still miss that hot, long bath! I haven’t had a more comfortable bath in my whole life, despite being in a hospital and having contractions which I sometimes hardly even felt. At some point I was grimaging a bit, when some contractions felt a bit stronger and Michelle told me not to tense my face as it would tense me elsewhere too. So, I started singing “I’m gonna eat sushi soon” (I had been craving for it forever and that was my planned after birth meal). We had brought a CD player with us and I grabbed 2 CDs with me from the car—a Buddhist meditation music (monks chanting) and a CD of a Finnish rock band CMX. While in tub, I had CMX playing and one of their songs, an acoustic, very beautiful song, made me tear up. I felt emotional and surreal… I would see you so soon!! I felt so great I asked Michelle if birthing was this easy, why do women say it’s so hard? Of course I was joking and I knew mine just happened to be unusually easy.

My sushi, as well as my dear Finnish friend Annina arrived soon, as I had asked her to come and attend my birth. She brought my sushi and we just joked and talked while I sat in the tub. We quoted lines from the movie “Borat” and I had the best time ever! At one point the nurse checked my dilation and she said I was fully dilated and effaced and should hurry up and get out of the tub. She looked a bit nervous, but I took my time drying my skin and applying some lotion. I never felt the transition phase—I felt just as good fully dilated as in the early labor. I walked to the bed and was told I can start to push. I had earlier thought about utilizing different positions, but at that point it felt easiest for me to lie on bed and I doubt they would had let me push squatting or kneeling anyway.

Dr. Esses had arrived at that point and I think we had the monks chanting in the background. There was a moment when everyone was waiting and looking at me; Annina and the doctor at my feet, Michelle on my left side and your dad on my right. I thought about my country Finland and how far away I was from your grandparents over in Finland, how much I missed them and how close I was seeing you, my sweet Gabriel. There was this moment when time seemed to freeze: It was all quiet and I teared up a little and explained my tears: “I can’t believe I will see Gabriel soon”. Your dad told me later that this moment choked him up and I think the others were a bit moved too. Then began the 35-minute pushing and it hurt. If nothing else in my labor hurt really much, this did. I saw your head in the mirror and it seemed impossible to push you out. Annina was taking pictures, Greg and Michelle were holding my legs and I felt desperate. Finally, on July 14th 2012, at 16:35, you were born and I had you in my arms! My labor from the first contraction till you were born was about 14 hours and most of it I labored at home. It felt almost surreal to hold you and me and your dad were so happy!

I nursed you for the first time, Michelle helping me to position you etc., and I didn’t let anyone bathe you. Dr. Esses declined a pediatrician entering the room, firmly telling him “the mother wants to bond with her baby!” when the pediatrician wanted to get your stats. Yes, I wanted to hold you, and apart from the nurse taking your weight (3050 g) and height (19,5”) after you had nursed, you were back into my arms. We were so happy starting to get to know you! I’m glad I remembered I wanted to have my placenta saved, so we did and Michelle made it into placenta pills later. Your dad and I were so in love with you and even though I had been awake straight for 30 long hours at that point, I was awake for another 10 hours—40 hours total! I was just admiring you, feeding you and we bathed you that evening.

I am grateful that despite I didn’t get to birth you in the birthing center, I still had a wonderful hospital birth and everything went well. I am grateful I got great prenatal care from a great midwife and having birth assistant Michelle, as well as my friend Annina there was precious. I would love to have a sibling for you, so we may have to fly to Japan so Michelle can be my birth assistant again!:) Now, my sweet Gabriel, you are almost 11 months old and you are the funniest person ever—giving us kisses, imitating sneezes, eating solids yourself like a champ and knowing how to pull my shirt up or down to get some mama milk. My Gabriel, aiti ja isi rakastaa sinua! (Gabriel, mom and dad love you!)