The Birth of Kinley Ley

The HBAC story of Ainsley Moirin

The birth story of Ellory Quinn

The Birth of Emmilia

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.

Birth Story of Isla

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

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The Birth of Sofie Parker

Birth Story of Kent

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This birth story begins with an end. Actually multiple ends. Mothering three kids, 4, 2, and 9 months, we got a surprise pregnancy. While it certainly wasn’t planned it was quickly accepted. Just as quickly as it happened, things took a turn. Bleeding, blood tests, an ultrasound or two. I got to see that little flickering heart beat and felt hope that this little one would be okay. The next morning it struck me. The cramping and bleeding was undeniable. I knew I had lost it. Another ultrasound showing an empty uterus, blood work confirming the numbers dropping, it was heartbreaking. My mom sat with me while I continued to miscarry, and encouraged me to try again one day. That there was a reason, there will be hope one day. My midwife Cindi was always supportive and continued to check in on me. I only carried that baby for 7 weeks, but I loved it none the less. I had experienced a new level of mom sadness and a new appreciation for my three perfect babies.

A few months later the biggest heartbreak came knocking on my door. Police officers brought me the news that my parents were involved in a car accident and they did not survive. I stood there shaking, distraught, and the moment I walked back in my house I collapsed to the floor in a pain no one should experience. Luckily in that moment I had two dear friends at my house and they literally picked me up and helped through the day while I watched my world crumble further each phone call to family I had to make.

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The days after that are a complete blur. Friends and family came to my side, and Cindi stepped in for support in her midwife ways and she held space for me. I could have a conversation with her without feeling pitied, or getting constant apologies and over abundance of sympathy. I could spend time with her and her family like everything was, or would be, okay. No questions asked, just comfort in a way I needed.

I love the Denbow family.

As a birth photographer I still had two clients due, and one had gone into labor. I remember feeling relief knowing I could be welcomed into their space for the birth of their first child. It was distracting from the real world, it was uplifting and full of people I cared deeply about. Witnessing this birth, just days after so much death, was something otherworldly for healing. I was still shattered but felt hope in life. After traveling out of town for the funeral, while on the plane back home, I got the text my next client was in labor. Immediately after landing I drove home for my camera and turned around to pick up Cindi and drive to this birth. Something about birth can turn any day around. This new life emerging right in front of you. I had just had my already broken heart torn into smaller pieces while being one of my mothers pallbearers, listening to taps and being handed that folded flag, seeing both caskets hang over their holes in the ground, all while just a short walk away from my oldest brothers grave. Being present for the birth of a child and watching a family become parents makes you forget all of that, just for a bit.

It was after midnight when Cindi and I were headed home when I decided we should stop at Walmart for a pregnancy test. I can’t tell you what compelled me to do this, I wasn’t super late and I even took one a few days prior that was totally negative. Once I got home I took it… and it was positive. Pretty sure my first text to Cindi at 1am was a picture of it with “I knew it!” Talk about a roller coaster of emotions…

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Pregnancy was… I was just pregnant. The beginning was stressful. What if I lost this one too? How would I handle anymore loss? Cindi immediately had me start progesterone, as my levels were a little low. As the first trimester came and went I realized this baby was saving me from myself. I can’t fathom what would have happened had I not been pregnant right after my parents accident. I would have lost myself in alcohol and I can’t even think what would have happened to me as a mother as I slipped away. This baby was exactly what I didn’t know I needed. This baby was the ultimate rainbow. “A ‘rainbow baby’ is a baby born following the loss of a baby. It is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravage of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and hope. Sunshine after rain, calm after storms, joy after sadness, peace after pain, love after loss.”

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Milk bath images by the husband

Not finding out the gender was new for us. It made picking a name pretty much impossible. It was nerve wracking but so exciting. As the end of pregnancy was coming, so did the pelvic pain. Something about the baby’s position was giving my pubic bone hell. Grinding and shifting, popping and clicking. Chiropractic care could only do so much. With a good hard adjustment around 37 weeks, I left and started having some small contractions. Well they just wouldn’t go away! Chiro Larrissa had royally pissed off my uterus. While texting with her I learned Cindi was out of town. Que anxiety! Some small bloody show and all the time little contractions for days felt like a lifetime. In that moment it finally hit me that HEY, a baby is coming one of these days! I didn’t realize how disconnected I was and how ill prepared I was. In the words of Kevin Hart, No She wasn’t ready!

My amazing GBO (gentle birth options) family and friends held a mothers blessing/blessingway for me. So many beautiful souls surrounding me, uplifting me, bringing positivity to my home. It was just perfect.

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Luckily no baby yet and I had plenty of time to really prepare my space, my mind, my body, and really accept the outcome… It was difficult to think that this baby would never meet or know my parents, and it was very hard to really grasp. Such an emotionally taxing thought. I had to accept this before the baby arrived or I knew depression would take over.

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Week 38/39 I started to get itchy. The itch from hell. Puppps. It was in a small patch at the bottom of my belly and down my left arm. Thought it was NOTHING compared to my first pregnancy with puppps, where it covered me from my shoulders to my toes… I could handle this little patch! Resisting the itch was manageable until I slept, where I scratched in my sleep.

The day before my due date, Sunday nov 6th, I started having pretty regular contractions. Into the night they continued, but intensity never picked up. They annoyingly kept me awake all night long but their strength was totally whimpy. I asked my husband to come home from work Monday morning, and naturally all contractions stopped. I had my hopes up that I was having a due date baby but the day came and went. Tuesday I had an appointment with Cindi and in my “I’m done” mood we did a cervical check and sweep. I’m the type that has to know there’s progress, or lack thereof. I NEED to know. Here I was 4-5cm with nothing going on. I try not to complain, because that’s half the labor already done! But frustrating at the same time because CMON kid, just get out! Cindi offered to break my water if contractions picked up, and what do you know, they never would pick up. I would have some good ones back to back then nothing for 30 minutes or more. The same frustrating prodromal labor continues for days. Another sweep Thursday with another chiro visit. At this point, I fully accepted that baby was not coming until next week. I would be 41 weeks+ again, just like the others. I had determined that this baby was doing exactly what it’s big sister did; prodromal labor for days, quick active-transition labor with water breaking and a baby literally falling out in 9 minutes. Knowing I was already 5cm I was terrified of my water breaking and a baby rocket happening. I had my husband miss a week of work for all of this prodromal labor and it was now Friday and still no baby. I had spent the last few days in tears. I was sad, mad, frustrated, all of the emotions. I was trying not to chase labor, but it was so exhausting not being able to sleep and contractions starting and stopping for so long.

Friday night as we were getting the kids ready for bed, I stepped into my room and my water broke. MY WATER BROKE. I froze. I clenched my butt so hard! I called Cindi faster than I could process the fact my water broke. While on the phone I realized 1) baby didn’t fall out 2)I’m not having contractions. Big sigh…sort of. My pants and floor were soaked. It was close to 8pm at this point. I texted our photographer, Cassie, right after the phone call and she was ready to come over. I had to have been standing there frozen for a solid 15 minutes. What a weirdo. I had felt like I was crying wolf all week, all month really! And now it was really happening. My husband put the boys to bed while my daughter bounced on my yoga ball and I attempted to slap some make up on puffy eyes while starting to fill my birth pool. I was determined to use it this time! My youngest, my daughter, my baby for only so little time before she becomes a big sister. I loved our hour together one last time.

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Cassie and I were hanging out in my living room while my husband went to put our daughter to bed. In the process he fell asleep and about 10 minutes later the birth team arrived around 10:45pm. My contractions were lame. Not hard at all and way spaced out. I did some super sexy crab walk and squats up and down my stairs in attempts to get contractions going. Sitting on the toilet with feet up on stools. Rocking, swaying, up and down stairs. Cindi and I went up to my bedroom where she released the rest of my waters so my uterus could really contract around baby. Sooo much fluid. I mean my water breaking initially was a lot and then even more came gushing out! So so much! At that point I think she said I was 6cm and it was around 11:45pm. It was almost instantly that a contraction came on. Cindi and I laid in my bed in the quiet together. It was a moment I won’t forget. A strange moment, but in that quiet I felt her presence. She was there for me and I wasn’t alone. As a friend, a midwife, and in a way stepping into a place where I would want my own mom. Cindi was there. It was peaceful and comforting. Back to back contractions were starting. We decided to go back downstairs and I was asked if I wanted the birth assistants to leave and come back later when things pick up. Before I could even finish my answer a big contraction took my breath away. I asked Cindi to text Christy, another birth assistant who had become like my family, to see if she could make it over.

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I stood over my counter through contractions that seemed to go from 0-60 in .5 seconds. My lower back was aching with contractions but it wasn’t too bad while leaning forward. One contraction I noticed my legs were shaking and I knew things were picking up speed. Ready to go back upstairs! I should probably wake my husband up now, too… Contractions were getting intense and close together but I was still happy between them. My breathing through them was getting deeper, I was really panting and breathing them out.

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We had pots of water boiling to warm up the pool and I started getting antsy to get in. Oh the pool was so so nice when I got in it finally. In comes Christy, yay! We had some great Credence Clearwater Revival pandora playing and small talk between contractions.

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I wear my dads wedding ring and my moms claddagh ring everyday. Some days they hurt to look at, but most days they’re my constant reminder to stay strong. I can hear their voices telling me so and I know they are with me.

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All of a sudden my back was really killing me during contractions and Cindi suggested moving positions. Just as quickly as I moved, the intensity picked up. I was no longer Katie. I was a laboring women in the zone. Breathing hard, moaning, I needed my husbands hand at some point and managed to spit the words out. The back pain grew to now pubic bone pain. I couldn’t even focus anymore with the pubic bone pain taking my full attention. I wanted to grab my bones or push on them with counter pressure, just something to make that pain stop! The next few contractions I lost all control. I was no longer here at all. The world totally muffled as if I had stuck my head under water. I couldn’t tell you what anyone said to me or what I might have even said. I remember hearing “low tones” and my husband encouraging me. I was in another world.

Pensacola Birth PhotographyPensacola Birth PhotographyPensacola Birth PhotographyPensacola Birth PhotographyI sat there head hanging down and had a long pause before the next contraction (well… to me a long pause. My time perception was way off at this point). I knew exactly what was coming. I had seen it time and time again, this beautiful birth pause where the body seems to take a breather and then the next thing you know, here comes baby. In my mind I thought how much I didn’t want to do this anymore, I can’t take anymore, I feel like this has been so long, why does this hurt so bad… Then back to work my body went with a fierceness. The pause brought me back for just a quick moment and then I was back out in labor land. Making noises of all kinds. Yelling, screaming, moaning. I was out of control of myself. As my baby made its way through the birth canal my eyes were shut and I had an out of body experience feeling my baby emerge and stretch my body for its arrival. In that moment my pubic bone and lower back felt like it just had a bomb go off from the inside. It really -f@#&ing- hurt. I reached down and felt my baby’s head. It was totally surreal through the chaos. I felt baby’s super soft head, and an ear. It’s head felt like velvet and I sat there rubbing it, hoping and pleading for it to just come out already. It was really just amazing. In the amazing moment, I was still in amazing pain! I froze again. I was still in another world and I remember hearing Cindi say something to me, then her pulling my leg over to her on the side. I lost my steam for pushing, or maybe my uterus didn’t get the memo to keep pushing baby out, or maybe just this huge baby came out a little crooked or got a little stuck, I’m not really sure! but with a little of Cindis help, I felt the rush of release and relief. I felt my baby’s body come out and I reached down to lift up and hold my baby for the first time. It was instant flash back to reality and oh my gosh my baby is here.

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You’re here. Finally, you’re here!

It was as if parts of my parents were finally here with this baby’s arrival. As if somehow this baby carried parts of their souls. The longest year of my life and this baby, my parents, were finally here with me. The excruciating heartache filled year didn’t matter in that moment. All of that horrendous pain I just went through was as if it never even happened. He was here.

Oh my gosh, it’s a boy!! Talk about totally surprised. Subconsciously I must have really thought this baby was a girl the whole time. Everyone did it seemed! I was shocked! Finding out at birth was SO exciting. The roller coaster of pregnancy, labor, and birth, then add on the joy of finally seeing who that little baby is, is just something indescribable.

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As I came back to reality one of the first songs I could hear, or rather realized I could hear, was Born On The Bayou. How absolutely perfect. I can remember singing this song with my mom and dad in the car so clearly. It was perfect timing almost like their way of saying hello, they were here, my heart was happy. Then came another song.. ‘Have you ever seen the rain’

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After delivery of the placenta and a gentle newborn exam we tied the cord with yarn. The yarn was my moms as she was a crazy knitter and crocheter and was ALWAYS with her yarn bag. To slow things down from a quick snip we had decided on doing cord burning instead of cutting. My husband had built a box to catch the wax drippings and we used two candles to burn and separate the cord. My original thoughts on the candles were to each represent one of my parents. As we severed ties to this baby boys original life source, we brought him into this new world together. My family, my adopted birth team family, my parents, my children. We brought him into this new world together while cutting ties to the past and had the time to take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy the moment. My oldest son came in to help finish the burning and meet his new baby brother and shortly the next two were woken up to come meet him.

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What better way to announce to the world of social media that you’ve had a baby than by taking a placenta selfie?

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My rainbow baby was here. My Kent Dempsey (named after my dad and grandpa) was 9lbs 11oz 22.3/4″ long. Might I add, with a 37cm head and 38 chest! My big giant rainbow baby! Born early Saturday morning at 2:26am on November 12th in the water while in our own home.

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The pregnancy, prodromal labor, and intensity of birthing this baby boy made me dig deep. I had to find balance and had to stay healthy for this baby. I had to pick myself up of the floor and survive. He made me survive the heartache for him, for my older kids, for my marriage, for myself. He made me stay strong. He made me find patience in so many ways. He made his entrance into the world intense. It was as if the year had been compacted into minutes of physical pain and then in an instant the pain was lifted. I felt joy again. With such a long prodromal labor week my actual active labor once contractions really got going was only about 2.5ish hours. The experience of having another baby born in the same room as his sister is just so cool and amazing. I could not thank Gbo enough for all they do for me. They all made it incredible and unforgettable. I couldn’t have asked for a better birth team or experience. My 3vbac. Second homebirth. Just amazing.

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Huge thank you to Gentle Birth Options for the amazing care through the last (almost) 3 years.

Another huge thank you to New Light Birth Photography, Cassie Ringl, for her amazing work in birth photography. Forever cherished. These images mean the world to me. See her awesome work at newlightbirthphotography.com

SO MUCH LOVE to my husband. He supports me in so many ways and loves me through my crazy. I love him through his crazy. He is my rock, my high school sweet heart, my butthead that I love so hard. He has done so much for me to get through this year and I can’t express my gratitude enough for all he does.

ALL THE FEELS! I love these people so much. I could never thank them all enough.

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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.

Birth Story of Abel Leonidas

With baby number 3, I thought surely he would come before 41 weeks. I carried my second to 41 weeks and 2 days and I knew for sure I could not do that again. The misery of it was still too fresh! So 41 weeks rolled around again and I gave up on ever having a baby – I’ll just stay pregnant forever. Or at least until Thanksgiving. He was “due” November 12th and it had been a long-running joke that he’d be born on the 24th, his grandpa’s birthday and Thanksgiving day. The morning of Saturday the 19th, 41 weeks on the dot, I went in for a non-stress test to see how baby was tolerating the contractions I was having. My contractions were noticeable but not unbearable by any means and my cervix was 3-4 centimeters dilated. I figured surely we had a few days to go still. So we went home, continued our day as normal, cooked and ate, and just hung out as a family. I spent some time sitting on and leaning over my yoga ball while my husband and our girls watched Harry Potter. They were scared! It was so cute. After we ate dinner I made 2 huge pans of brownies. I was hopeful that if I baked enough for the birth team, they would have to come eat them! We ate our brownies, then bathed our girls and we all went to bed a little early, around 7. I fell asleep somewhere around 8:30 and woke abruptly at 10:00 with a huge contraction. I couldn’t lay through it. I absolutely HAD to be on my hands and knees. I tried to lay back down when that contraction was over but a few minutes later another one came and there was no mistaking that this was labor and baby was coming sooner than I had anticipated. Paxton heard me vocalizing through them, woke up, and immediately started rubbing my back. We moved to the living room so I didn’t wake up Piper and Paisley and turned on Titanic. He had never seen it and we had been talking about it for days, so I figured there was no better time than active labor to watch it! I tried to rest on the couch, but laying down and leaning back wasn’t an option anymore. The contractions were so intense. I didn’t time them, so I’m not sure how far apart they were, but they were CRAZY intense. I labored over my ball and leaning over the couch for a couple hours before I called Cindi. A few minutes later I got a call from Kassie (the other midwife) and we decided that since I was a 2 hour drive from her, needed antibiotics, and contractions were so intense, she’d go ahead and head my way. I text Kayla (my photographer) to let her know things were picking up and I would need her soon. Kayla and Kassie arrived minutes apart, around 2:00.

After assessing me and baby and checking my cervix to see how I’d progressed (I was 6-7 cm), we started the first course of IV antibiotics. Kassie gave Paxton the job of holding the bag of antibiotics up and gently squeezing as it dripped into my IV. Towards the end of the bag, he squeezed it a little too hard and bubbles rolled up into my arm, through my armpit, and into my chest. I immediately panicked. I’ve seen way too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and I just knew I was having a pulmonary embolism! I still joke that he tried to kill me. My chest got cold and I started coughing and my contractions all but disappeared. Once I was talked off of the edge and convinced that I wasn’t ACTUALLY dying, things started to pick back up. I labored on the toilet for a little while trying to get back into my “space” but the smell of the air freshener and the fact that my legs were going numb kept me from focusing, so I moved back to my ball in the living room. Cindi arrived around 3:30 (I think) and immediately sent me from the living room to go labor alone in a bedroom. Since the girls were asleep in our bed, I moved into Piper’s room. Paxton followed me in and rubbed my back while I labored over the bed. I found a lot of comfort in leaning over in his lap while he sat facing me and rubbing my lower back. Every contraction felt like my back would split open. As it got closer and closer to morning, we realized that Paisley would be waking soon. She usually gets up around 5:30. My labor had finally picked back up and contractions had gotten closer together again and everyone knew that if she woke up, I’d go into “mommy mode” and labor would slow again. So Paxton called his mom to head over and pick her up. Like clockwork, Paisley woke up at 5:30. The sun was not quite up. Nana arrived just a few minutes later to get her. I got to hold my baby for a few minutes and comfort her in her early morning confusion before she left. I didn’t want to let go because I knew things would be so much different the next time I held her. It was such a surreal experience to hold onto my tiny girl while my body worked tirelessly to get her brother out. I could remember vividly standing in my kitchen 25 months prior, laboring and waiting on Paisley.

Once she left, I moved back to our bedroom (Piper is a much harder sleeper) and labored in there a while. This is where things become a blur. I know the tub was being filled, but they were having a hard time getting the water warm enough for baby. When the sun came up, things slowed down again, with contractions 6-7 minutes apart. Piper woke around this time and joined us all in the living room. She sat by me on the couch for a few minutes before disappearing to play in her room. I mentioned my concern with how far apart my contractions were, even though they were lasting a long time and were extremely intense, and Cindi assured me that it was normal for things to slow when the sun came up. She also suggested a few things to get baby in a better position and to get him descended more because he was still really high up. I lifted my belly through contractions to pull him back behind my pubic bone. I stood with my foot propped on a chair through contractions. I laid on my left side on the couch, and thought I would surely be ripped in half by every single contraction. By 7:30, when it was time for my second round of antibiotics, I was totally exhausted and becoming very defeated. I was being told I was doing so good, but I didn’t feel like I was. If I had been doing a good job, my baby would be out already! My last labor was 3 hours from start to finish, so the last thing I was expecting was a 10 hour labor. The contractions were intense, the pressure was insane, and I was bearing down with every contraction. I went to the bathroom to labor on the toilet a while longer – excruciating, but effective. It was getting harder and harder to pant through the urge to push, so I had Kassie check me one more time. Some women don’t care to know the state of their cervix, but it’s encouraging to me to know there’s been a change. Almost complete and baby was right there! She said “I can break your water and you can get in the pool now” and I said “let’s get this show on the road!”

It took several tries from both midwives to rupture the amniotic sac. Finally, I had a contraction that pulled it tight enough to get the job done. I stood in the bathroom through 3 contractions to get as much fluid out as possible before FINALLY moving to the pool. I had been dreaming about that warm water for hours, it seemed. I decided last minute, at 37 weeks, to rent a pool again and have another water birth. I’m so glad I did! The water was immediate, although temporary, relief. As soon as I was in I had another big contraction and my body started involuntarily pushing. I got a few seconds of relief before another one came. This one felt like a train barreling out of my body. It rushed over me and every muscle in my body bore down. It was loud and my body was screaming and all of a sudden my baby was moving down and I could FEEL him. I felt him move back up and thought oh no, I can’t do this for much longer. I can’t! And I said it. “I can’t do this” – and in my head I knew, if I’m saying that, then this is almost over. I’ve done this enough and seen enough births to know that “I can’t” means you ARE.

Cindi and Kassie had both reminded me earlier in the morning that I would have to control my pushing so that I didn’t exhaust myself and baby get stuck or cause tearing, as both of my girls had gotten stuck in one form or the other, and I had torn with both of them. Somehow, even as fast as things were happening, I was able to consciously remember that and remind myself to not push furiously through the contraction. They were telling me not to push without a contraction, but the contraction wasn’t stopping, and I wasn’t pushing, my body was. I panted and breathed my baby down through my body. As I felt his head emerging, I told my husband to jump in and catch him. He did! He skinned his socks off and jumped in the pool! He didn’t get to catch either of our girls and we had only briefly discussed him catching this baby. I so badly wanted him to. In my head I’m screaming at this point and then I see his hands going towards the baby and I’m terrified he’s going to pull on him. My first 2 were both pulled from my body and the pain was so bad. I told him don’t pull on him, just catch him. He knew that! But I had to tell him. And then baby’s head was out. And then his body followed quickly behind. Daddy guided him perfectly up to me and I pulled him to my chest. My baby, my perfect baby boy, who I had dreamed of my entire life, was finally in my arms. 3 minutes of active pushing, 23 minutes after my water was broken, 10 hours after labor had started, 41 weeks and a day after conception, at 8:03 AM on a beautiful, cold, Sunday morning, my dreamy baby boy, Abel Leonidas Shelton, was finally earthside.

He was out and his cries filled the air. His lungs were strong and healthy. And he was so big! His hands and his arms were huge. He looked like a little linebacker! A perfect mix of both of his big sisters. I couldn’t believe how big he was (9 lbs and 14 oz, after he pooped twice!) and how easily he came out. My mind was reeling at how quickly everything happened. Piper rushed over to the pool to see him and see why he was crying. She was so happy to finally see her brother!

We got out, got cleaned up, and then Nana brought Paisley back to meet Abel. She wasn’t so sure at first, but she has since warmed up to him. And there we were, our perfect and complete family of five 🙂

I am so blessed to have been able to birth 2 of my babies at home, and to have been surrounded by such an amazing, supportive Sisterhood of women while I did it. None of this would have been possible without the incredible care my midwives provided me or the unending support my husband has always graciously given. I am immeasurably blessed.