Birth Story of Hazel Mae by Photographer

Oh the beauty. The love, support, the grace, the calmness. Encouragement. Strength. This family had it all. A beautiful home birth of their second daughter. 8:30am on February 1st I got the text from the midwife to go now. GULP! This must mean things are happening fast! I sprinted out the door as fast as I could and drove (a little too fast) and made it with mom 10, complete, bulging bag, ready to push her baby out. She labored with such grace, a wicked calmness unlike I’ve ever seen before, especially how close she was to meeting her baby. She got in the birth pool shortly after my arrival and I witness her husbands support. He knew she could do this. He was constantly touching her, gently, a simple way of reminding her he was there, always. She bared down and birthed her baby’s head. Advised by the midwife she calmly stepped out of the water to sit on the ground for a little help. Her daughter was Earthside, and they were elated. “We did it” she said. It was beautiful. She was a birth goddess! Welcome, sweet Hazel.

Birth Story of Charlie S.

The beginning of my birth story with GBO and Cindi actually started two years ago when I had a positive pregnancy test after having a miscarriage at 5 weeks the previous summer. We had been TTC for several months and had decided to not go the “hospital route” when we actually got pregnant. Sadly I started spotting during my first visit with Cindi at 11 weeks and in the next couple days miscarried. The kindness and support I received during that time cemented the reasons I wanted GBO to handle my next pregnancy and birth. It took over a year to get pregnant with my son (it still feels unreal), and since he was conceived up north it wasn’t until I was about 12 weeks along that I found myself at GBO again.

With every prenatal visit, every time I heard his heartbeat, my dream of being a mom got closer and closer. I refused to obsess or worry over the coming labor and the birth. Instead I focused on enjoying the pregnancy, relaxing, and spending time with family. I looked forward to each centering group while reading as much as I could on natural birth.

My due date came and went, it got down to me and one other lady in my group left (we had the same EDD) and it was a waiting game. I wasn’t very antsy for him to be born (though my husband and other family members were) I wanted him to be fat and ready and other than the hemorrhoids I could have easily gone another week!

My water broke at 40 weeks 2 days at a little before 6pm with no obvious signs of labor leading up to it, no swelling, no mucous plug, no bloody show, and no braxton hicks! He had only dropped the week before. I quickly notified Cindi that my water had broke and kept her notified throughout the night of the labor’s progression. I wasn’t able get much rest after 2 a.m. since the waves were coming every 15 minutes and felt sooo intense. We headed to GBO at 6 a.m. to meet Cindi and start my I.V. and check me, I was only 3 cm! It was suggested I go back home and try and rest and distract myself because it was likely to be a long day. Back home I could NOT relax or nap, it just got more painful so I decided to take a bath and maybe the warm water would help. I wasn’t long in the tub before I started voiding and the waves got more intense. We loaded up again and headed back to the birth center with the contractions spacing 2 to 5 minutes apart. We arrived at around noon and for the next 4 hours the ladies tried me in nearly every position to get him out. Progress was achieved with the supported squat and on my back with my husband and Sarah holding my tight tensed legs back and finally on my hands and knees I felt the “ring of fire” which excited me and a couple pushes later he flew out, my husband catching him. Cindi, Sarah, and Christy were a constant support and encouragement through the whole labor and took such good care of us.

As far as a name went we had gone round and round for months. After he was born my husband actually said I could name him whatever I wanted! We settled on Charles Wright Simmons honoring both our late maternal grandfathers. Happy 3 weeks Charlie boy!

Simmons

Birth Story of Ellis James

Looking back, I never thought I would have children. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them, I just never saw myself being a mother. Childbirth was also a great fear of mine growing up, which could have contributed to never wanting kids, but now here I am, two months later today (March 7th), a mom, to a beautiful baby boy, whom I love more than anything, and can’t imagine my life without him right now. After my husband and I got married, I pushed that fear of childbirth back in my mind, and pushed myself to accept that it’s a natural process that’s well worth it in the end. Having a natural, unmedicated childbirth at a birthing center, not a hospital, was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s amazing however, how such an experience really impacts the marital relationship afterward. Those weeks after that birth, my husband and I found our patience tested to it’s limits just about every single day, and night. Yet, we find ourselves even more connected to each other than we ever have been before, and we owe it all to our wonderful baby boy, Ellis.

His birth story begins in May of 2016, where we were surprised with the news that we were expecting. We had been married just over a year, and honestly we weren’t planning on having a child for at least another year or two, but God had plans for us otherwise. It took some time for me to finally accept that our lives were going to change forever at a seemingly young age. But when that fact fully sunk in and I assured myself that my life wasn’t over, but just starting a new and exciting chapter, I was okay.

Those 9 months of pregnancy are almost a complete blur now when i think back at it. Kevin and I were kind of riding this pregnancy cloud the whole time- getting all the baby supplies, building baby furniture, going through birth classes, all while still continuing our normal lives at work and traveling places. We never fully realized that we would be full-time parents soon. Our needs and wants won’t come first anymore and we would be completely responsible for everything this child needs, day and night. Couple of weeks in of having him home, and it finally hits us. We’re doing it, we’re parenting!

I was due January 13th, and I was really excited to have someone else in our family born in January. My husband, his father, his grandfather, my father, and my aunt were all born in January. January 6th comes around, and I am exactly 39 weeks pregnant, and at this point, I’m thinking I’ll still be pregnant for another couple of weeks. Kevin and I were going about our usual day- he did a lot of work, I looked at birth stories for a little bit, and we had dinner & movie night at his parent’s that night. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark! It was in between the movie when I started to really have contractions. I knew these were the real thing because I was having Braxton hicks for the past couple months, and they started getting more uncomfortable as I near the due date, but they weren’t painful. These contractions started in my lower back, and literally wrapped around the underside of my belly. It was so new to me but the contractions were so far apart during the movie, I was just thinking I had to change my position, and it’d stop, which it did. Movie ends, and we leave their house a little after 10 pm.

Things started to really pick up. As we got home, I started having more contractions. I was doing my best to distract myself and get ready for bed. Around 11 or so, I found myself on the toilet for about an hour and a half, on and off, just constantly having bowel movements. I was also having contractions after every movement. It got to a point where I’m thinking this is so ridiculous, how much more is going to come out?! My contractions continued, and felt closer together so I started timing them on my phone- they were about 10-15 minutes apart. I told Kevin how they continued to get intense and about my never ending bowel movements. He seemed a little anxious, he kept checking up on me because I just stayed on the toilet at this point, I didn’t know if my body was done, and it just felt easier to be on the toilet during the contractions. It’s 12:30 am, and Kevin says he’s going to try to rest now. Knowing this could be it, that we could be having a baby later that day, I wanted to rest too. We remember Cindi telling us to sleep now while we can because we’ll need all our energy when active labor comes.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lift my leg over onto the bed without an intense contraction. When I did get in bed, a second later, it hurt so much to be lying down, I got out immediately. It was literally coming in waves, painful waves. I started to pace back and forth next to the bed, the contractions were easier to handle on my feet. Kevin was trying to tell me to rest as he’s half asleep on the bed, but I wasn’t going to dare try to get back in that bed, so I moved out to the living room with my pillow, to try the couch. Well, every time I tried to sit down on the couch, or lie down on it, it would hit me. It was like an intense menstrual cramp that just tightened around my belly and back. I never once had back pain during the pregnancy, so this was a whole new discomfort. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to rest so badly, but I couldn’t, I just kept pacing the floor, and trying to brace myself when the contractions came. I felt myself getting upset and anxious that this was really happening. I didn’t want to call Cindi, I wanted to see how far I could handle it myself, especially if the contractions stopped and nothing happened.

They weren’t stopping, they felt even closer together. I went in the bedroom to wake Kevin up to tell him, and he says to call Cindi and see what she says. Its 1:54am, I call her and she tells me exactly what I thought she would, to try to sleep through them, to distract myself as much as possible, because it would be a long night. I get off the phone frustrated. Kevin comes out to see what she says, I tell him, and he goes straight back to bed. I stayed out in the living room, trying to rest on the couch. Its after 2am,, and I’m still up breathing hard through the contractions. I remember texting my mom to let her know I was having painful contractions. She replied instantly, telling me I need to wake Kevin up. Before I could reply back, I felt this sudden rush, and before I realized what was going on, I was soaked in some kind of liquid I thought to be my water breaking. It came out so fast and I had no control to stop it. I speed walk into our bathroom as its dripping out onto the floor. I go on the toilet, and even more liquid comes out. I’m doing my best to stay calm at this point. I go back out onto the couch. Couple minutes later I get up again because I felt more liquid come out. So I go back to the bathroom, back on the toilet, and see my underwear is soaked in blood.

I’m freaking out now! I grab the toilet paper to wipe, and there it is, the blood show. Mucous consistency covered in blood, but more blood continued to come out. I jumped off the toilet with the bloody toilet paper in my hands, turn the light on, and wake Kevin up. Poor thing was just as freaked out as I was because he was half asleep with this blood drenched toilet paper nearly in his face. I was getting really upset thinking something was wrong with the amount of blood I was losing. Kevin is trying to calm me down, and telling me it’s okay, the baby is okay. He grabs my phone and calls Cindi. It’s 2:38 and she tells him to started loading up the car. My contractions were really coming in now. Kevin is running all over the condo, getting my bag, packing the baby bag, getting all our snacks. I kept telling myself to breathe through these, but it was so hard. Next thing I know, I start getting ready as much as I can. I left my pajamas on though, there was no way I was going to put real pants on. I felt like I could barely move my limbs without pain. Putting socks and shoes were hard enough. I had no time to put makeup on, or really do anything with my hair, I just felt like I had to go. I come out of the bedroom after I put my cardigan on, and checked the weather on my phone to make sure I was dressed enough for it. It’s in the low 30s, in Florida! It’s 3:38, I’m telling Kevin we have to go NOW. He was stilling getting stuff ready and putting it into the car. I was terrified for the car ride there because the birth center was about 40 minutes away from us. I waddled over to the coat rack to grab my coat, and then I’m out the door. I felt the cold hit my face, but I didn’t care. Kevin sets a towel on my car seat and helps me get in. Soon as I sat down, a contraction came in so hard, I felt my entire body tensing up, and I’m holding onto the car rail above the door so tight. Kevin gets in, and calls Cindi again to let her know we’re leaving.

The ride there was actually much better than I thought it was going to be. When I felt the contractions coming and peaking, I was making myself inhale and exhale with them. I focused on staying calm, and breathing to get through it. And then, I would doze off when the contraction was over. The ride itself was putting me to sleep between the contractions. It was only for a couple minutes, but it felt so nice to finally rest. We arrive at the birth center at 4:20am, the lights are on inside and I never felt more happy to walk through those doors. We walked into one of the birthing suites with one of the birth assistants and it was just so relaxing in there with the dim lights and candles and the sound of water filling up the tub. As we’re getting our stuff in the room, my contractions started up again, and I started undressing. I left my shirt on, but everything else came off, and I’m on the toilet with Cindi sitting in a chair next to me. She gets two small stools, one for each leg, and she tells me to squat.

Oh man, did that ever hurt! I felt so out of shape squatting on the toilet. She then turns my left foot outward, and instantly with the next contraction and pushing with it, my water breaks! And it was a huge gush into the toilet. What happened earlier was apparently just me peeing myself. Man do I feel bad about it now, getting to the birth center before my water broke. They probably thought it was going to be a long night! I continued having contractions on the toilet for a little while. I remember Cindi telling me I can’t get into the tub yet until I’m 6cm dilated. Thinking back at it now, I’m still in shock that I wasn’t even halfway dilated when we got to the birth center. Cindi then helps me off the toilet to do side-lunges on the back end of the bed. Moving into that side lunge on that stool was actually really comforting. It hurt to push in that lunge position, but it was really helping the contractions to hurt less. As I’m doing the lunges, liquid continued to pour out.

I remember looking down and seeing these soaked puppy pads, and the birth assistant continued to replace them. Next thing I know, we’re getting ready to go into the tub. My shirt is off and I put my sports bra on. Looking back I don’t know why I did, I really didn’t need it. Getting in the tub was hard, and the contractions in the water were even worse. It’s crazy though because this was my whole plan to give birth in the water, but it was like the water was pushing back against the contractions. I was not in there too long. Cindi was really helping me on how to push, because I wasn’t doing it right at first. She kept telling me to not scream with the pushing, but to hold my breath in and grunt while pushing!

It was so effective, but it was not easy! It was so hard to not be so loud, pushing with all my might but to be almost silent. I get out of the tub, get dried off, and then I’m back on the toilet. I was feeling discouraged at this point, like I wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t pushing right. I felt really upset, I’m going through these contractions and doing my best to hold in my breath like she said, but it didn’t seem to be working. Cindi then gets her flashlight out and shines it down at the toilet between my legs, and she tells me to reach down and touch my baby’s head. I remember being taken back, like what? Is she crazy, he can’t be there. I do what she says and I feel this small bulb like shape with hair, right there, so close to the outside of my lips, and I’m just emotional. I looked at Kevin who was standing there at the doorway of the bathroom, and I said oh my gosh, honey, he’s right there, he’s so close! I can touch his head!!
And that was it. Feeling his head that close to the outside, gave me the push I needed to push him out. We then move to the bed, and I’m hanging over the footboard, and start to really push with the contractions. Kevin is sitting in a chair in front of me and holding my hand. I was trying harder than ever to hold my breath in, and grunt with each contraction, and then I feel it, the ring of fire. Such a burning, stinging sensation as his head starts to crown. I’m then told to stop pushing. What?! I was told not to push when there wasn’t a contraction. I was in so much pain, and it was so close to being over, it was the hardest thing ever to not keep pushing. But I did what she said. Knowing in my mind, she knows what she’s doing, and I’m thinking this will help me to not tear. That was another fear of mine- tearing and getting stitches. Luckily, during this stage, I never felt like I had to throw up. I just felt a lot of gas in my stomach, causing me to burp up a lot. I remember this was where I was squeezing Kevin’s hand to keep all the urge I had to not push without a contraction. I remember feeling so hot at this stage, I felt sweat on my neck. I remember being asked if I wanted to tie my hair up, but I said no. It really comforted me to have my hair in my face as i’m hanging over the end of the bed. A wave of contraction came, and I gave it all I had to push with it, then it stopped so I stopped. I felt his head immediately get sucked back in when I stopped pushing, and I thought I was going to lose it. He was right there, then back in just like that.

Everyone around me was telling me it was okay, and how great I was doing, but I didn’t feel great. As soon as that next contraction came, I kept pushing harder than ever, that burning pain came back, and I felt myself heating up even more and really grunting as loud as I possibly can, almost screaming at that point. I remember she touched my back, and was trying to straighten it so it was flat. I was breathing so hard, I was ready for this pain to be over. His head was just about out when suddenly I felt the sharpest, most intense pain that I’ve ever felt yet, and I know I was screaming now and I didn’t care, it felt like something else was stretching out my vagina then just his head. I’m still pushing as hard as I can, and screaming and grunting as loud as I possibly can. I felt Cindi stick her fingers in to pull the rest of him out, and he falls into her hands crying, and I’m just in complete shock. I sit my bottom down on the bed and Cindi hands him over to me, and I’m just out of it. I couldn’t believe he was actually out and in my arms right now. There was blood all over him, my legs, on the bed, but I ignored all that. I was just extremely happy and relieved it was all over. He was born at 6:10am on January the 7th, just under 2 hours from when we arrived at the center, and about a week short from his due date. Born at 6 pounds and 13 ounces and 20 and a half inches long.

It was truly an amazing and empowering experience, and I am still in disbelief with myself that I did it! I truly cannot thank Cindi and the birth assistants enough for helping me deliver Ellis James into the world!

O'Neal

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.

Birth Story of Luke

Luke is our 5th full term pregnancy and our 6th baby. He was conceived when Sarah was just 9 months old, the soonest I have ever gotten pregnant postpartum. It wasn’t a surprise but wasn’t exactly planned either. At the time, our PCS date was up in the air and could have been right around his due date. We found out later during the pregnancy that we wouldn’t be moving for a while. So, bonus!

I thought Luke was a boy from the positive pregnancy test. My belief was partly based on the idea that conceiving on the day of or after ovulation is more likely to result in a boy, and partly based on me not being as nauseous as I was with my girls during the first trimester. I was not overly nauseous with my first child, a boy. Ryan has been hoping for another boy basically from pregnancy number 2 so he always thinks it’s a boy. He didn’t even remember the girl name I chose and we agreed on, so I told him he would just have to be surprised if we have a girl. I never got the 20 week anatomy scan so we didn’t find out the sex.

Since my last two babies were 17 and 18 days past their due dates, I was expecting another late baby. Unlike with the last two when I felt strongly that they would come when ready, I felt strongly that Luke should come out. I was GBS positive for the first time and wanted to make sure I got the antibiotics prior to birth, and I just felt like he was ready to be born.

My midwives and I agreed for them to come over, give me my first dose of antibiotics, and break my water. Water breaking spontaneously is how labor began with my last two and I felt that breaking it manually was very likely to induce labor. I was already 5-6 cm dilated at the time they broke my water. What I didn’t expect was how fast my labor progressed! Shortly after my water was broken, I picked up my toddler and set her on my belly, which I often did in pregnancy. More water gushed out and I think she pushed Luke down more. Then I went to take a shower and labor contractions started. I didn’t get to shave my legs.

My midwives left after administering antibiotics and breaking my water, and returned about 2.5 hours later. I was in active labor at that time. After about another hour, I was given my second dose of antibiotics (two doses are ideal for GBS positive moms). I’m 32 years old and this was the first time I had ever had an IV, but it was super simple and non invasive and didn’t bother me at all.

Like with my last few babies, I spent the time prior to transition vocalizing through contractions and leaning over while standing. I don’t feel that this part of labor is painful. My cue that I’m heading towards transition is that I want to lie down on my side and put a cold washcloth over my face. That’s usually when I want to make sure Ryan and the midwives are in the room with me. That part of labor is uncomfortable but manageable to me. I don’t like second stage, or “pushing” but I haven’t pushed on purpose since baby number 2. I kind of avoid the baby coming out part, but it’s inevitable – and thankfully short lived! Second stage lasted maybe 5 minutes. Five minutes of pure pain. So that part sucked, but Luke was born healthy and I didn’t need stitches. All in all, 5.5 hours from breaking my water to Luke being born. The other 5 kids all slept during this time. They were around earlier since we broke my water at 5 pm, but Ryan fed them and got the little ones in bed at 7 as usual then the older ones at 8:00 and 9:30.

Third stage, when the placenta comes out, isn’t my favorite, but the hard part is definitely over by then. I don’t do anything special with my placentas, but they are pretty neat to look at. Luke’s cord was short just like all my other babies’ cords so he couldn’t really nurse until the placenta came out. He latched right on and has nursed well since.

My other babies were between 8 lb 11 oz and 9 lb 7 oz, and we were all shocked to discover that Luke was born 10 lb 10 oz! I didn’t believe it, so we weighed him on my baby scale, too and got the same result. He was definitely ready to come out!

The older kids all met Luke when they woke up the next morning. They all love him. Some kid always mentions “the next baby” right after I have a baby. Kind of makes me sad to think that someday there will be a last baby, and we never know which one will be the last one. Pregnancy isn’t easy, birth isn’t easy, and parenting a bunch of little kids isn’t easy, but there is nothing I would trade it for.

Luke

Birth Story of Willow

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

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 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.