The Birth Story of Vivian Lee

The birth story of Ellory Quinn

Birth Story of Isla

 To read mom’s birth story click here: Isla James BirthStory

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Birth Story of Gideon

Born at home surrounded by love and calm, after a fight from within to bring our sweet 9lb 4oz baby boy earth side.

When I woke up on Wednesday, February 22nd, I knew it was almost time to see your sweet face. Daddy went to work and I got ready to go see our Midwife Kassie for my 40+2 appointment. I felt certain and relaxed. She checked me and I was at 3-4cm. So, after chatting with the amazing women at GBO I headed home to eat lunch and take a nap. Around 3pm, I text Russell and told him to head home because things were picking up and I would feel more comfortable having him by my side.

I then took a long hot shower and sat on my birth ball doing my hair when daddy got home (yes, he sped!) He then started picking up the house and going over all the things we needed to do before I got too uncomfortable. We then went to pick up food and talked in between contractions. By the time we got my food and headed home, contractions started getting closer together.

We got home and sat down to eat, halfway through my food I thought I might need to call the Midwife to see about having someone swing by and put the IV in. Kassie arrived and monitored me through a few contractions in a few different positions. We had also called our parents and our birth photographer, Katie. As the midwife was leaving to allow me the peace to progress everyone started showing up.

I sat in the living room and watched big brother play video games. He was so full of energy that night and very excited for this little baby he’d been hearing all about. After awhile, I began laboring in different spots every 30-45 minutes. Squatting in a hot bath, daddy spraying hot water on my back while i did lunges in the shower through contractions, sitting on birth ball, pelvic lift and tilts on the wall, and then finally laying in bed before telling Russell to call the Midwife. It was starting to get real!

Once they arrived at about 11:30pm, they filled the tub and started checking my vitals. Getting in the birth pool was absolute heaven, seriously, if you have never experienced labor in a birth pool you are missing out. Aquatherapy is amazing!! I was pushing with the contractions, my water broke and things felt like they were right on track. This was way easier than my first. Or so I thought.

After awhile i started to get really hot. Daddy was keeping me cool with ice cold wash cloths. But eventually, I had to get out and try to labor out of the water awhile. Immediately I felt gravity hit and oh the back pain!!

After a quick cervical check to see that I was ONLY at 6cm, I started to doubt myself. Christy was calmly reminding me that I held more power than I was allowing myself to believe. Cindi kept reminding me that this was NOT as bad as Gabriel’s birth (which I swore was a lie….but she of course was right!!)

They started pulling out all the birth tricks and through my certainty that I couldn’t do it and begging for it to be over. Everyone around me was calm and peaceful and loving. Talking me through each surge.

My sweet baby boy worked so hard to turn and twist. I pushed. I dug deep. I believed in my body’s ability to birth. My midwives helped him descend, and with a push I could feel the ring of fire. With another out came his head. Kassie even gave him a little mohawk while we waited for the next contraction. I pushed with all I had left, took a breath and then screamed him out with their help.

There he was. In my arms. On my chest. God, I loved him so fiercely. My sweet perfect Gideon was in my arms and I was in Daddy’s arms. We watched him open his eyes, then take his first breathe. The room was silent and peaceful. After a quick check by the midwife we laid there soaking in the life we made together. His fingers, toes, mouth, nose, eyes, everything was perfect.

Not too long after that we were cuddling in bed as a new family. February 23, 2017 at 3:32am. It was the perfect Birthday for our strong, fat, precious Gideon Michael.

The Birth of Mira (by photographer)

 

THE HOME BIRTH OF MIRA | PENSACOLA BIRTH PHOTOGRAPHER

This family has such a special place in my heart. We met a few years ago after the Lord answered a lot of prayers asking for a neighbor with young kids. We had a 2 year old and 4-month old at the time and were a 1-car family, so having a friend nearby that didn’t involve driving somewhere would be a dream come true.

We noticed a moving van, as I’m sure everyone else did on our quiet retiree-filled street. It was the end of winter so we were indoors most of the time. After a few weeks I thought I noticed a pregnant gal. Glimpses here and there as we each came and went. One day I saw a dad with a little girl in a wagon. We were playing outside and so I decided to check the mail and introduce myself. His name was Tim and he was in fact our newest neighbor. His wife was inside because they had recently had a new baby and he was walking their older daughter over to see her grandparents, who happened to live around the corner. Time went on and we spoke more as I met his wife, Anne Marie, and our daughters, both 2 got to run around the yard together. Anne Marie was what I asked for. She was kind, generous, quiet natured and we hit it off instantly!

About 2 years later they found out the exciting news that they were expecting their 3rd baby! Obviously she knew what I did for a living, she even offered to be a back-up sitter for me on more than one occasion. I was so excited when she asked if I would photograph their birth. A home birth!

In the middle of the pregnancy my family ended up moving a little ways away. She was so amazing through our selling process. Always asking how she could help even though neither of us were too sure of the idea of not having a friend just across the street. I went to their house on more than one occasion when we needed to be out for a showing. Grabbing laundry baskets of clothes and shoving them into the car to drive across the street. Friends of comfort can be hard to come by, and having one so close was a time I will never forget.

Fast forward a few months and Anne Marie was excitedly awaiting for their newest little girl to make her debut. She went past her due date, which was a first, but just enough to be able to attend her brothers wedding without a newborn in tow, or keeping her at home. Then, on Sunday night around 12am I got a text that this was the night. I immediately headed over as her contractions were coming on quick and strong after a day of intermittent consistency. Not even 1 hour later, while Tim was filling the birth tub and Cindi, her midwife was getting unpacked, Anne Marie stood up and ever-so-quietly caught her baby girl!

It was fast. It was quiet. Tim was plastered in the biggest smiles and Anne Marie’s face was overflowing with joy and amazement as she delivered and caught her baby with her hubby and the birth assistant right there helping.
They moved back to the bedroom and a few cries later their 2 little girls walked out in a sleepy state and came in to meet their baby sister…

This is the Birth Story of Mira. A girl with two older sisters, a dad, and a mom that will show her how to be a loving and giving person in a world that needs such beauty.

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The Birth of Hank

Hank’s Birth Story + Pictures

We kept our homebirth plan pretty quiet. As an active duty military mother, prenatal health care is rigid. For insurance to cover birth, military women must give birth at the local military hospital L&D if there is one in a reasonable driving radius. When we found out we were expecting little Hank, I called the insurance company and asked if I could be down-graded to the plan of co-pays and the freedom to choose my provider. They quoted the military L&D/ reasonable radius rule and said no. I asked if they could stop me from paying out-of-pocket for my own provider and to that, they also said no. Sweet. I contacted the amazing, local birthing center and began dual-care with both the homebirth midwife and with the military facility.

My 39-week appointment at the military hospital unfolded exactly the way it had with Vivian 2 years earlier—I mean same hospital, same provider, same 39-week appointment, same “issue,” same battery of tests, same chaos. I couldn’t believe this was happening again since it was one of the huge drivers in choosing a homebirth in the first place. My 39-week belly was measuring small. It could have been the fact that the baby was dropping, I was a bit dehydrated, or that I’m genetically programmed to grow smaller babies. The day before, I had seen my homebirth midwife and she saw no red flags. Over the course of my care, she got to know me. She knew my history, my diet, my exercise, my stress levels at work and at home. She touched my belly with her hands, not exclusively with tools and tape measures. She treated me like a person, not a data point. At my 39-week appointment with her, she felt for the pockets of fluid, commented on how low the baby was, and said that she expected labor very soon.

Back to the chaos…

After deciding that my belly was too small, the military provider ordered a battery of tests and started to mentally prepare me for induction. I tried to convey how much I did NOT want to be induced and they reluctantly released me after verifying my fluid levels were in the normal range. I walked out of the hospital and called my homebirth midwife in tears. I told her what had happened and that they had scheduled a fetal growth scan the next day and another non-stress test/ fluid level test the day after that. If my numbers were the same or worse, they would induce me. At that moment, I felt like my homebirth was being taken away. It was utterly deflating. My midwife offered to meet me at the birthing center for a membrane sweep. She said this was our best chance at still having the home birth. I called my husband to tell him the news and the plan and, to my surprise, he was really frustrated at the “unnatural” approach I was about to take with the membrane sweep. More tears.

henry-water copyDespite Anthony’s reaction, I drove to the birthing center and met the midwife. I was already at 3-trending-4 cm and my cervix was “angry” (the term she uses to describe one primed and ready for labor). When I returned home, I was in early labor but by 10pm, the contractions had faded. Sleep was welcomed after the emotional day. The next morning, the midwife called to check in. She thought it’d be a good idea to sweep a second time before my fetal growth scan at the military hospital. This time, I was a solid 5 cm and immediately responded to the sweep with hard, consistent contractions. By the time I was dressed, I knew I had to cancel the radiology appointment and head home. About 20 minutes into the drive, I was in active labor. I called Anthony and told him it was go-time and that I needed out of the drivers seat. We met on base and he drove the rest of the way home. Although I didn’t avoid a lengthy car ride in active labor, driving home (as opposed to the hospital) was so uplifting.

henry-bedroom copyOnce we made it home, Anthony started filling the tub and called the midwife. I was in the tub for about 30 minutes before I began having transition symptoms with the shakes and wanting to throw up—a first for me! I climbed out of the tub just as everyone was showing up and moved to the bedroom, which was completely set up for the main event. With each contraction, my legs cramped harder, the shakes worsened, and I was certain I’d throw up (although it never actually happened). I knew I was close but this pattern held for about 2 more hours. I started feeling like I was doing something wrong. Why hadn’t my water broken? Why hadn’t I transitioned? Was I fighting my body? This is not how I pictured this happening.At this point, the intensity of contractions lessened and started to spread out. I was on the verge of panic. How had I been so close to transition and NOTHING? The midwife offered to check to see what my cervix was up to—nine centimeters with a bulging sac.Good… but what the heck was going on?

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Anthony came over and said the kids needed picked up from school. To this, I could only manage a reply of expletives. If I had had all my faculties, I would have said, “don’t leave. You’ll miss the birth. We are so close. Stay with me.” He did. I guess my actual response had communicated the intent.

henry-push copyThe midwife offered to break my water to help things pick back up. I was ready to meet this baby so I agreed. A few minutes later, we were back in business. The urge to push didn’t feel even remotely the same as with Vivian’s birth. With her birth, the urge was unstoppable and felt strangely good. With Hank, it was WORST pain I’ve ever felt in my life. Thinking back, I wonder if he was in a strange position as he entered the birth canal? Anyway, I found myself screaming into a stack of pillows as his boney little self worked his way down. Now, please don’t judge/compare with this next statement, but both Oliver and Vivian came out in one push. Hank did not. But I thought he did. When the birth assistant said, “one more push and you’ll meet your baby,” I thought she was joking. ARE YOU KIDDING!? HE’S NOT OUT!? Anthony had to corroborate the tale before I believed it. I couldn’t imagine enduring the pain of that first push again but I couldn’t just stand there with a baby half out. I felt the build-up and beared down again. The second push was worse. Why are there so many bones!? The next moment, however, was pure bliss. Immediate relief. Immediate love.

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We didn’t know Hank was a “he” until he was born. After waiting so long to meet him and learn the sex, I thought I’d be totally preoccupied with finding out. But in the moment, the only thing I could focus on was his beautiful soul. This tiny person with chubby cheeks and long limbs. My partner in this challenging labor. Look at that hair! And fingers… and toes… and OH YEAH! It’s a boy! Anthony smiled so big and gave both of us a kiss.

henry-cheese copyPostpartum homebirth-style is PHENOMENAL. Completely unlike the hospital frenzy, this immediate postpartum was calm and gentle. I climbed into bed with baby Hank totally in awe of him. No one took him away. We bonded, nursed, and rested.

henry-dub copyAlthough I had no plans of bearing down for a good while, the placenta needed delivered too. It came and was placed in a bowl that sat next to Hank and I in the bed. He stayed on his cord until the kids came home. Everyone got to enjoy the cord cutting, reflex test, length, weight, and vital signs measurements.

 

henry-fam copyThe birth team was absolutely wonderful the entire time, but postpartum was magical. They spoiled us. They helped me clean off, fed me, cleaned up the room, did the dishes, started the laundry—they let my family bond. It was so peaceful. After a few hours and making sure that both baby Hank and I were doing well, they departed.

Although this was my hardest labor yet, I couldn’t have asked for a better support team. Everyone exceeded my expectations. This recovery has been amazing too. I took 2 weeks to rest and then began the BIRTHFIT Queen-in-Training Postpartum Program to start rehabilitating my pelvic floor. Right now, I’m half way through teaching and participating in the BIRTHFIT Postpartum Series. Having a community of support is so crucial and I’m eternally grateful for the women who are sharing this transition with me.

 

The Birth of Josiah Jayce

The Birth of Jon

The Birth of Claire Avery

The Birth Story of Mavie Brígh

In the midst of trying for baby 3 I knew the birth would be different. I was determined to have the experience of natural birth I’ve always wanted and knew I was capable of. With my first I was too passive and was talked into an early induction at 39 weeks for having such a miserable, painful, itchy pregnancy. I had a large amount of medical intervention that lasted 29 hours ending with a cesarean. Details aside, I was so drugged up on narcotics that I don’t remember meeting and holding my son for the first time. Pictures and thankfully a video camera hold the only “memory” of the moment I became a mother. The pregnancy, the labor, the birth, the newborn stay at the hospital was a nightmare of nightmares. I felt broken and robbed of what should have been a happy time in my life.

My second pregnancy I wouldn’t back down from my fight for a vbac (vaginal birth after cesarean.) With an Ob that had faith in me and my persistent pleading for more time, I was able to go 10 days past my due date (each day more stressed out than the last) and went into spontaneous labor two days before my scheduled csection. Labor at home was comfortable but as soon as we got to the hospital my confidence plummeted with the constant cervix checks and the anesthesiologist coming in and out asking how I’m doing with hints of his pain relief. I was tense, cold, hungry, and afraid of another csection. Caving, I got an epidural, and 45 minutes later my son was born. Forty five minutes! I was crushed. I could have managed another 45 minutes for a natural birth. But, I got my vbac! I could do it!

Trying for baby 3, I was even more headstrong about having a natural birth. I went to GBO before I was even pregnant to attend a class for exploring the GBO options and told my husband that we were going to have a homebirth if we got pregnant and that was that. Pregnancy was wonderful. I soaked in every moment and enjoyed every second I could. GBO became my second home filled with people I was comfortable with, bonded with, and felt like “these are my people.” That means a lot for a pregnant girl needing a bit of confidence to have a hbac when so many outsiders spit out negativity and raise an eyebrow to having a baby out of a hospital let alone after a csection.

At the 36 week home check, I will never forget, chatting with Christina for at least 20 minutes about where I want to have my baby. Upstairs? Downstairs? This room that room? By the end of the conversation she just looked at me and pretty much said “where ever you end up is where you will have your baby. Don’t over plan.”…

 I had envisioned how it would go, and planned a water birth renting a birth pool. I prepared my downstairs for everything to happen there. I had hung up birth affirmations, had essential oils ready, had baby hats and my giant birth supply box ready to go with the pool nearby to blow up when the time came. I relaxed there, did my breathing and focus practice there, and pictured it happening there. I planned on the kids being there just after birth to meet their sister. I wanted my oldest to cut the cord with daddy. I watched numerous homebirth videos and swooned over all of the photography and videography they had of their labor and birth. Catching their own babies and pulling them up out of the water, their faces seeing their baby for the first time and the look of relief and pride of “I did it”. I mentally prepared and pictured my own labor and birth going just like that… Silly me.

My due date of October 22nd came and went and I wasn’t worried and I wasn’t stressed to go into labor before a cut off. I was relaxed and ready for her to pick her day. As the days went on I had contractions here and there but nothing strong or regular. Monday, October 27th, at my appointment with Carla we did a sweep to stir things up and I was 1-2cm. I went home with some cramps and eventually started having contractions 10 minutes apart. Getting excited I decided to go to bed and get rest for the big moment. Then I woke up in the morning with nothing. A little upset but decided to brush it off. By 9am that Tuesday I had a large amount of bloody show. Yay! Contractions came shortly after at an average of 5 minutes apart. They weren’t too strong but definitely noticeable. They lasted all day and by 3pm just stopped. I called a friend to come walk with me and the boys to the park and maybe get things going again. I crab/cowboy walked up and down my stairs, I bounced and rolled around on my yoga ball, I did lunges and squats, I cried an ugly cry out of frustration, but they were gone.

Wednesday morning GBO called me, knowing how frustrated I was, and told me to come in for another sweep and NST. My cervix made progress so it put my mind at ease that my contractions weren’t for nothing and my body was working. When I walked out of GBO I had a contraction, then another, and another. They were stronger than the previous days and somewhat regular. By 10pm they were getting really strong, but didn’t seem very consistent, some 3-5 minutes apart some 10. They took all of my attention and all I could focus on was breathing. I texted Carla just to let her know and tried to get some rest. Ha. Tried to get some rest. They were strong and inconsistent and any position to try to sleep felt worse. I watched a movie (or three) while the rest of the house slept peacefully. By 4am I was pretty exhausted with maybe an hour total of sleep and my contractions felt more and more spaced out and much less intense. Feeling defeated and frustrated I texted Carla again to let her know what was going on and she had me take a bath and try to sleep. I grabbed some relaxing essential oils and filled my bath tub. The bath made my contractions basically disappear but at that point I didn’t care, I just wanted sleep. I slept hanging over the tub then I was able to get a few hours in bed before needing to get up for the day.

Thursday October 30th and contractions were gone but I had another appointment with Cindi at 10am. I asked my husband, Wes, to stay home despite not even being in labor. I felt like I had cried wolf to him all week with the stop and go contractions but today was different. I called my mom to watch the kids while we went to my appointment. Cindi did a major sweep and I was 4 maybe 5cm already. Confidence boosted! It was almost instantly that contractions started and during another nst they were 10 minutes and pretty strong. On our way home around noon we decided to pick up lunch to bring home for everyone. I waited in the car while Wes went in for panera and my contractions were really kind of painful but I associated the pain with being tender from so many sweeps. All of a sudden I needed sleep and I couldn’t keep my eyes open I was so tired so I slept between the contractions until we got back home. I had no appetite but tried eating anyways while pausing frequently to breathe through contractions and at one point told everyone to shut up during one (sorry!). They were strong and seemed to be about 4-5 minutes apart and I really wanted to take a bath and try to sleep a little more. Apparently I sat in the tub for an hour with Wes by my side, but to me felt like it was 5 minutes. I was back and forth between sitting on the toilet to pee and sitting on my bed. I wasn’t timing them but they were still scattered. Some were close together and even right on top of each other while some were far apart. 3pm I asked for my mother in law to take the kids to her house. I don’t know what compelled me to do so, I was upstairs in my room and they were outside at the park, but I had a feeling I’d go into the night with this labor and just wanted them elsewhere for the night. My contractions sucked. I couldn’t do anything but just sit motionless and breathe really deeply until they were over and between them I was shaking and shivering but felt normal. 3:30pm and Wes was getting the kids situated with grandma outside to leave when I texted Cindi about the contractions. I asked her if it was too soon to fill my birth pool and walked off to go pee, again. When I stood up I had a much more intense contraction, then another right on top of it. Cindi tried calling me multiple times and I couldn’t even hear my phone through the contractions. We had a quick chat and I felt kind of in a fog so when she asked if she should come over I said yes. (Glad I did!) The contractions, while insanely strong, didn’t seem close enough or even rhythmic. They were still going from close together to spaced out and it kept killing my confidence that this was the real deal labor. I felt like I was going to be in labor forever. I was still in my room sitting on the side of the bed in the dark when Cindi arrived around 4:30. She timed how long my contraction was (something I didn’t even think about doing) and they were lasting 60 seconds. Went pee, again, and had Cindi check things out. “Oh wow!” was her reaction and telling me I was pretty ready at an 8! My cervix has a lip/scar tissue so with one contraction she wanted me to bear down while she pushed it aside (uh, ouch.) Then another without her pushing it. My legs were shaking and shivering like crazy! She asked if I had a photographer so I immediately texted my best friend/photographer to come now! Right as I sent it, Carla texted me so I asked her to come, too. Cindi had me go empty my bladder, again, and sent Wes downstairs to go start filling the birth pool. Around 5pm-ish the birth team was here and getting things ready. Lorrie was in the bathroom with me checking vitals and checking baby’s heart rate. My bff/photographer was here and said hi. I was kind of embarrassed; I had totally neglected cleaning my bathroom while my focus was on downstairs so I kept apologizing. I sat on the toilet for a bit and Lorrie asked if I wanted to move to the bed but it was actually more comfortable sitting there. At 5:11 my water broke with a contraction. It was a small pop and small gush and as I told Lorrie mid-sentence my baby was coming, RIGHT NOW. It was INTENSE pressure and I was involuntarily pushing. Lorrie got me up and it was a slow but tried to be dash to the bed as she had someone run to get Cindi. The next moments are difficult to describe or find the words to describe my experience. Have you seen a movie where someone has a near death experience and the world goes quiet around them? Everyone around them is a blur and their words are almost muted as if underwater. That was me. At this point I had no idea what was going on around me. I felt my baby coming and couldn’t focus on breathing, all I could do was push and make noise. I got to the bed and was told to get on all fours. Somehow my yoga ball from downstairs was in front of me to lay on. I was grunting and yelling as the world around me disappeared. I couldn’t tell you who was in the room or where, what anyone said to me, I have no idea what happened. I was in another universe and the only thing I was aware of was my body and my baby coming. I felt her head and faintly heard Cindi tell me she was crowning. At this point it was an out of body experience. I wasn’t in any pain but could feel everything and was peacefully in a quiet world as I pushed with all I had. At some point Cindi told me to put a leg up, I asked for water, I told Jessica I was sorry for squeezing her arms so hard (still, so sorry!) I’m told that everyone was encouraging me and that my mom was telling me I could do it and how strong I was while I said I couldn’t do it… I have no recollection of any of that. I’m telling you, I was in another world! As quick as it started it was over. 9 minutes and she was earth side in her daddy’s hands at 5:20pm. It was instant lights on and I was back on earth and here was my baby. I was in such a disoriented state that all I could focus on was sitting down and picking my baby girl up to me. I think Cindi tried telling me something but the world around me was still muffled. Deep breaths and saying hello to my baby girl, reality started coming back into focus. I did it!! Holy hell, I did it! My daughter was here, and a healthy 8lbs 13oz 21″ of perfection delivered at home by the greatest birth team I could have ever asked for. I was caught completely off guard and wasn’t totally prepared for things to happen yet. My contractions weren’t the textbook “transition” times I was waiting for and if Cindi hadn’t called and basically told me she was coming I would have waited too long and she wouldn’t have made it! I truly didn’t think I was close, and had convinced myself that it was another day of irregular contractions. My birth “plan” went nothing to plan but exactly how it should have and was meant to and I wouldn’t change a thing. So much for that water birth! All night long I sat in awe of what just happened. I couldn’t believe I just had a baby naturally, so fast, and at home! It was so surreal and absolutely amazing. Completely different from how I pictured my birth going, and it was so much better than I could have ever imagined. I’m forever changed by that moment and so unbelievably thankful for Cindi and all of GBO. Because it all happened so fast, I don’t have the adorable labor pictures, big brothers helping out, or the sweet candid shots of my husband being his awesome self while I labored looking out the window for that perfect black and white picture. I don’t have it on video either, and that’s okay. My photographer captured the moment things got crazy and that moment is all that matters. It makes for one hell of a story anyways.

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