The Birth of Jocose Emory (2/20/16)

The Birth of Mira (by 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 Jonathan William

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?

henry-labor copy

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.

birth 2

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 Eviee

The Birth of Jax

The Birth of Josiah Jayce

The Birth of Jon

The Birth of Jolene Hazel

The Birth Story of August James


I woke before dawn, the contractions seemed like they might be real. I walked the 30 or so feet of our hallway and quickly realized they were in fact, real. I say “real” because I had been having some sort of tightness and discomfort for almost a week but nothing was happening.
“Brian” barely swished out of my mouth as another hit. I called Dawn and she asked if it was time. I said yes and she hauled ass over to get Benjaroo.
Brian reminded me that we didn’t need to call Cindi yet. I got dressed in yoga pants and a tee shirt. I told Brian I was walking outside for a bit. He wanted to go but I told him I wanted to go alone, that I wasn’t going to birth in the street. That this wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle alone.
I walked down a vacant house on the bay side. About 2 houses away. It has a white sandy beach. By now the sun had been up for thirty minutes or so, the wind was really blowing steady, in a cleansing way. I stood under the swaying pine trees and looked out towards the island. I could see the dune where Brian and I had fallen in love. I raised my arms in a sun salutation as my body pulsed with contractions. Three pelicans alighted one at a time on some dock pilings. I felt them to be my mamaw, Grannie and my friend Brian McGregor. I breathed in their strength and blew out my weaknesses.
I talked to myself. I recited “this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I thought of my Mamaw having her twin babies in a shack. The midwife put an axe under her bed to cut the labor pains. I felt the sand melting in between my toes. Then I was ready. I turned toward home and my Brian was there watching me as I keeled over. He got there in time to walk me home.
I know it was 7:40 when we got back inside as my neighbor was loading kids into the car for school. Her seven year old was so excited I was finally having the baby!
I laid on my side, on my couch with Brian sitting in our ottoman holding my hands all day. I moaned through the contractions. We watched Dazed and Confused. I drank water, ate salty spinach, turkey roll ups and string Cheese. I’d get up and pee and it hurt to contract standing up, but I was fine on my side. We watched Caddyshack. I got up to pee right before the golf course blows up and then it changed. I couldn’t visually concentrate on movies. I laid there and slept between contractions in some sort of hypnotic state. When the surges came I moaned and squeezed Brian’s hands. My left hand clasped his left hand, and right with right. we were crossed like that all day. I think I slept an hour and then I asked for my music. We did Arcade Fire’s Funerals in its entirety, I felt every single note of that album pulsing through my body. I heard every instrument. There are like 15 people in that band. I sang loudly and got myself pumped up. I cried. I loved it so much. Fucking Arcade Fire is the shit.
Brian had been timing contractions off and on to see where we were at. He knew we were nearing transition but I really didn’t. The pain increased so gradually that I was able to manage it completely. It was like when I got back to exercise after Benji and just walked another driveway further each day. Just the smallest amount dripping on top of the existing pain. Like going further into an asana with each breath.
My water broke as we started listening to the hard stuff. I remember pumping my fist and trying to sing along to Where Eagles Dare while lying on my side on the couch.
My mom came, I was now laying with Benji’s dragon blanket draped over me. I was getting the chills. It freaked her out. I talked to her for a bit but I was ready to go inside and she could tell and left us to get Benji.
Quickly thereafter my water broke. I had put on Brian’s surfboard boxers because I thought my dad was coming, I had been in a sports bra and grannies all day. Thank god, the boxers absorbed the first gush and none got on our couch. I think I did some more side lying.
Then I got on my hands and knees on our ottoman and Brian sat across from me. I asked for a towel to drape across it because I said it smelled like our feet.
I threw up and Brian announced I was in transition. I was so excited. I think we put on Rebel Girl and then things got serious. Brian calls Cindi. It is 3:30.
Brian got up to unlock our front door. I am nude from the waist down with my ass in the air, facing the glass door. He goes, “whoa, you are really dilated.” I said “you can tell from over there?” He said “yeah, we might be on our own.” I am amazing myself with this pain management I’ve got going on. Like I am seriously impressed with myself. I just moan and moan, breathing through every contraction. I think it’s funny that my fully dilated birth canal and asshole are facing the glass front door. Things are going good.
Cindi gets there, slides off her clogs and sits next to me on the floor. She gives me the once over and then watches us do some contractions. I ask her who else is coming. She tells me Annette and Sarah. I never met Sarah, I say. Cindi assures me she’s great. I loved Annette from my last two appointments so I’m stoked she’s coming. She even impressed the hell outta Brian which is damn difficult.
Cindi suggests I plant my left foot on the floor for the next one. This idea sounds terrible to me, but I remember Christy teaching us that we should try a new position for at least three contractions so we give it a go. I even do the other side for two and decide I want to stay on my hands and knees. Or I want in the tub, I can’t remember exactly. I do get in the tub once Cindi checks the water temp and at some point Annette and Sarah got there. They were setting up stuff and were doing their best to remain invisible. I don’t really notice them or Cindi, I’m into Brian and Auggie.
Once in the tub, Cindi tells me to try and push with the next contraction. I say “already?” She’s like, “yeah, try.”
I push on my hands and knees, holding Brian’s hands as he sits outside the tub. It’s going okay, but I feel like I’m working too hard to hold myself out of the water. I know that if my body is working this much, this hard, this position just isn’t right.
He runs and puts board shorts on. He gets in and I lay with my back on his chest. It works.
I push once and start saying the “I don’t think I can do this” and “what were we thinking” crap. Then I hunker down and push more. The top of his head comes out. Cindi encourages me to breathe through the next contraction and just allow him to sit there so I stretch out. I am now super serious and focused. The next contraction comes and I push again. Cindi says, “his head is out, touch it!” I touch his head and its still collapsed. This feels weird. I don’t like it, but I’ll always remember the first time I felt his fuzzy hair floating in the water. She tells me she wants me to grab him when the next contraction comes. I do that but I had my hands on him weird so she takes over. According to Brian I was about to pull him out by his head.
Then I finished my final push and he was out. He was immediately placed on my chest and I kissed his slimy head over and over, “my baby, my baby, my baby”
It was 5:05pm, I had a 9-5er, the most convenient time. I had sleep, I went to bed at a normal time. I couldn’t had dreamed it would be this perfect.
We all go back to our bed
and crawl under the covers. Auggie isn’t getting warm enough, so we lay with a heating pad. He finally warms up. He latches right on,
I push once and the placenta comes out. I never tore! I never got hemorrhoids! Thanks for having me hold him steady Cindi. You’re amazing!
My mom gets there and brings Benji in. He has a mixed reaction, really just wants me. Brian and I talk to him gently and he’s obviously overwhelmed but he is happy.
Cindi weighs and measures him. 8 pounds, 7 ounces. My mom just wants to hold and hold Auggie. It’s so sweet. Brian feeds me my stuffed peppers as Auggie nurses.
Annette and Sarah are there, popping in only when necessary. Helping Auggie stay warm, cleaning me up, checking our vitals. Annette got me in the shower. That was amazing! They did all the laundry, we used a lot of towels.
All three of them were like that, just there when we needed them. When you witness the synergy of a good team, it’s truly moving. They all knew what to do when without a lot of direction. And that’s really it. They left and our family was a little bit bigger.
I have a hard time describing the birth the way people want to hear. They are disappointed. It’s a boring story. I end up saying, “we watched Caddyshack, I pushed, he was born.” Did it hurt? “Nothing I couldn’t handle.” Then I say my excuse, “my back is shot, so I’m used to a lot of pain.”
I don’t really want to make that excuse anymore. It was non-eventful. That’s what you want for your birth! Hooray for my boring story! Yay!
I was diligently cared for by my husband for most of my labor. We talked all day long, about so many things. We did this before kids but we never truly cherished those moments like we did as I laid on that couch, laboring through the day. We love our quiet snippets of time together and that day we got hours. In a row. Of peace and conversation.
My midwife came for the last hour and a half. She was wonderfully hands-off, allowing our beautiful experience to truly be ours. We did not need her until she was there. A truly synergistic experience.
The birth of August James Burger was more about me than him. I’m not embarrassed of that. It filled me with enough strength to care for my two sons with grace and humility. It humbled me to labor as my Mamaw did in that ramshackle place down the river from the Gulf that feeds the bay, that feeds those pelicans I looked out that morning. Brian even drew me an axe and put it under our couch.