The Birth of Jude Allan

On January 14 Todd and I (Nina) welcomed our first child into the world. Jude was born on January 14th at 6:42 p.m. He weighed 6lbs 10oz and was 20in long.
At three in the morning on January 14 my water broke but I was not having contractions. I rolled over and told my husband (Todd) what was going on and then went back to sleep. At 9 a.m. I called the office and told Christina what was going on. Cindi wanted me to come in and confirm that my water had broken and receive my first round of antibiotics. After receiving the antibiotics and confirming that my water broke we headed home. We knew we would have to return later in the afternoon and receive a second round of antibiotics. Once we left at 1 p.m. the contractions began and increased in intensity by 4 p.m. I returned to GBO at 5 p.m. and received my second round of antibiotics. On the ride over I knew I could not make another car trip from Milton to the birthing center. Todd and I were planning on staying in a hotel next to GBO but Cindi suggested we stay. The offer was a great relief to me. Upon checking we found that Jude was going to be here much sooner than expected. The pushing began and he (Jude) was born at 6:42 p.m.
We were able to welcome our son into this world in a peaceful and intimate manner. I want to thank all the ladies at Gentle Birth for helping us welcome our son into this world. I also want to thank everyone in helping us through our breastfeeding struggles. Your support and encouragement has been a blessing.

Birth Story of Harrison Lee by Photographer

This birth was special. Leading up to this, the family with two baby girls were expecting their third. Their last. Momma went above and beyond to soak in every moment of her last pregnancy. This would be her second home birth after a cesarian. She also was the most prepared pre-birth planner from notebooks for the birth team, labeled everything, birth affirmations, the works! Dad is the only son, to an only son, to an only son, so the anticipation for what their surprise gender baby might be was on a whole new level. Dad could possibly be the last man to carry his last name. His last minute guess was another girl, whereas momma had a feeling the stars had aligned just right for her boy.

I got an update in the night that her water had broken, but minimal excitement to follow with slightly irregular contractions. I was tingly and couldn’t sleep, so after a few texts back and forth I decided to jump in the car and make the hour drive to her home. She labored so calmly, humming through each wave. We talked and laughed between them. She had the lights off and the christmas tree lit. It was beautiful. With finally deciding to empty her bladder, she was hit with wave upon wave. She knew. I knew. Call the midwife ASAP! The midwife, like I did, had an hour drive to her home. The youngest baby girl woke up from her slumber while dad called the midwife. Momma had prepared a beautiful birth room, with christmas lights, a birth pool, affirmations all over. She stopped in the living room and got on all fours. Baby was coming right there on the living room floor and right now. The intuition was strong for us all, including the midwife, who happened to be right down the street already! I ran to wake up big sister to join us as momma started to push. Within just a few minutes baby was here….

I must point out the photos momma chose on her wall to focus on.

Both of her daughters births. Her first baby a csection and her second baby a home water birth.

The affirmations she wrote herself are truly perfect.






Pure Bliss

The Birth of Athena

After experiencing false labor for 18 hours the weekend before and walking as much as I could for the last few weeks I was skeptical when contractions picked up, even though Cindi had checked me that morning (12/19) and said it wouldn’t be too much longer. When the contractions picked up I thought they would stop again so I let my husband (Justin) sleep and went to take a bath (this was around 5:30 or 6). I read on my phone as I soaked in the bath but the pain was increasing and very difficult to ignore, at 7 I could not stand staying still anymore and had to get my husband to help me out of the tub. We had no idea what part of labor we were in, but he did a great job of helping me remember things we could do, and he helped me do the abdominal lift during contractions. At first things seemed okay, but I could not stand lying down or sitting during contractions, I felt the need to pace or be on my knees with my body draped on my birth ball. I also began feeling very nauseous and ended up throwing up four times between 7 and 10pm. Shortly after ten I told my husband that the contractions were getting really bad and I felt a lot of pressure down there. He had been texting Cindi for me and let her know, and she said that we could head to GBO when we were ready. Even after everything that night it still surprised us that it was really time to meet our little girl, but we quickly shook off the shock and excitement and Justin gathered our stuff while I took what seemed like forever getting down the stairs and dreading an hour and a half car ride to GBO. We got in the car and were about to reach the entrance to the interstate, where we would still have about an hour drive when my water broke. Justin asked me if I was sure, I was just glad it had broken because while pain was still there it felt a lot more productive now and I knew this was for sure the real deal. Justin drove as fast and safely as possible, with both of us worrying at different times that the baby might come in the car. I just remember being quiet and just waiting to get there, and griping the peppermint essential oil bottle in my hand that I was still holding onto in case the nausea returned. Looking back now the drive wasn’t that bad, I had thought the pain would make it unbearable but for the most part I was just very focused on what my body was doing. Justin had sent Cindi a “Glympse” so she was actually follow where we were in the car and how long it would be until we arrived. We got to GBO at 11:46 after I had cursed every red light we hit. We were greeted as soon as we got there and Cindi waited for a contraction to end before bringing me inside. Since I was already at the pushing stage I quickly got to the bed in the birthing suite and besides working on getting the baby out the only thing that crossed my mind was if it had turned 12 yet, making it the baby’s official due date or if she would be born in the last moments of the 19th. After some time pushing, with everyone encouraging me and Justin letting me know he could see the baby’s hair and letting me know she was almost there, Athena was born at 12:13 midnight on 12/20! I could not believe it when she was out, I felt so happy and realized and excited that our baby was finally here! I tried to catch my breath and figure out how to hold the wiggling creature that was my daughter. When I think back I still can’t believe I was able to do it, and I know it was the support of Justin, Cindi and the birth center staff that allowed me to be able to focus and relax without letting the pain scare me and cause problems. Athena is amazing and Justin and I are so in love with her. I love sharing our story with others, and will be praising GBO whenever I get a chance. I also love it when sharing our story how my husband always says how proud he is of me, I feel like everything happened perfectly and the way it was meant to. I was always remember it as the day we became a family. We just want to say a big thank-you to Cindi and everyone at GBO, not only was our birth what we wanted but we also have received great post-natal care and I feel confident about breastfeeding thanks to our experience with GBO.

Miss “Athena Jade”

born 12/20/14 @ 0013 

7lb 9oz and 21 in. long.

The Birth of Claire Avery

The Birth Story of Mavie Brígh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Birth Story of Camila Lima Cain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With gratitude,

Melanie, Erika & Camila

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The Birth Story of Sebastian James

The story of the coming of this little human starts like most… with love. I first met Maximilian in San Francisco and the connection and love was instant. We were made for one another. His company alone makes me the happiest lady around. The past two years at his side have been amazing. So many milestones have taken place for us both, the greatest being becoming parents.

Long before ever becoming pregnant, I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth, one that was not messed with or in which interventions made. I am among the women who realize that in most all cases the female body of all species is able to give birth without intervention. All we really need as a social species is other women (and men) to support us through it. What I didn’t know was what I was set to endure during this momentous experience.

Labor started for me on September 19 around 2:00 pm, which was ten days after my supposed “due date.” What does this date really do to us pregnant women, other than drive us crazy and set an impossible goal, as only 3-5% of babies come on their “due date.” My first emotion associated with labor was excitement. I was not afraid of what was to come. I describe early labor contractions as a tightening of the belly and an annoying uncomfortableness. It was far from unbearable. I thought, “If this is all it is but just a little more intense, I’ve got this in the bag, no problem.” I was very optimistic that it would not be too painful. As a first timer, I did not know just how intense it would become, so when I was mildly painful, I was thinking the baby could be coming soon. We went to the birth center around 10:30 pm that day. By 5:00 am on September 20, I remember using the word “agony” when answering my midwife’s question, “how are you doing?” I was quivering and my eyes were watering so badly that I could hardly see. I wasn’t “crying”; my eyes were just watering from the intensity of what I was feeling physically. These labor contractions where very painful. I hate when people try to describe pain by saying something such as, “it was like someone jabbed a knife into my belly and twisted it.” Does anyone really know how that feels or if they had experienced that, are they alive to tell the tale? As much as I hate these analogies, I would have used some horribly dramatic scenario to describe my pain.

Lying down and sitting were the absolute worst positions to be in during a contraction but my midwife demanded I rest during the nighttime hours as my body would need the energy for the roughest part that was yet to come. I lied down for several hours, sleeping only for very short amounts of time until I was awaken by a contraction. I wished so badly that I could have slept soundly. Maximilian was exhausted too, having been awake with me, trying to comfort me and do what he could to help. Finally when the sun arose and labor was getting more intense, my midwife checked my progress only to find that my cervix was pretty much just as it was hours before, open to about five centimeters. This was a tragic finding for us. How could I have endured all of this for so many hours already and have progressed no further? Prior to even going into labor and for a week prior, my cervix was open to about three centimeters. When arriving to the birth center the night before, there was another woman laboring also. Due to this, we were placed in the second birthing suite. We spent the night and some of the early morning hours in this room, resting what little I could and enduring. The other mama had her baby around 4:00 am. She and her family were on their way home around 8:00 am, if I can remember correctly. We were then placed in the main birthing suite which is larger and contains a large jetted bath tub to relax in. My memory does not serve me all too well in recalling the events of the entire labor. Simply, in my head to this day, early labor occurred in the night in the first room we spent time in, and active (agonizing) labor and the delivery occurred in the second room. Everyone was tired. I was fortunate enough to have both midwives with me for most of my labor and the birth. Cindi had attended the other woman who was at the center with me all night, so she was exhausted. Carla came to the center in the morning. They were both with me, combining their expertise to ensure I was doing all I could to keep things moving and taking care of myself. Not only did I have two midwives and two assistants at my side but Larissa, a chiropractor, who I had several sessions with in the last weeks of pregnancy, was there to help me. She and Carla had me taking part in movements and positions to help the baby’s positioning. Larissa was putting lots of pressure on my back as well as pushing on the baby, while my knees were on the ground and my arms resting on the edge of the bed. At this point, I was so tired and weak; I could hardly keep my eyes open. My body had received so little rest and food that it was starting to slow down. Cindi and Carla thought it a good idea for me to try spending a little time in the tub to try to relax. Sinking into the warm water was a very familiar enjoyment that was soon ruined by the inevitable contractions. As much as I wanted to enjoy the hot bath, the change in the force of gravity upon my belly would not allow it. The contractions felt different in the water. It is hard for me to explain, but I could tell that they were going to be more painful when I got back out of the water so the anticipation put me on edge. I didn’t spend much time in the water anyway, as the midwives were fearful my labor would stall too much. It had already been over 12 hours since we arrived at the center. Because my cervix wasn’t opening in the time that anyone preferred, most of all me, we had to try new things. Cindi brought out the breast pump hoping to stimulate the release of oxytocin and speed things up. This didn’t seem to change things.

Time went on and I continued to endure, the contractions getting tighter and more painful. I became dehydrated. I was nauseous and vomiting any water that I took in via mouth so I had fluids administered intravenously. This measly 1000ml of sodium chloride made me feel so much better and undoubtedly gave my body a little boost. At a certain point, Carla suggested me consider allowing her to break my bag of waters. The idea was that without the cushion of the water, the baby’s head would come down heavier on my cervix, allowing for further dilation. I agreed to this procedure, even though in the worst case scenario, it would not cause further, hasty dilation and the clock would be ticking for how much longer the baby could be inside. Upon picking a hole in the membrane, I felt the warm rush of fluid escape. Initially it was clear. As it continued to pool out, Carla observed it was tinged brown, an indicator that the baby had already pooped. This was not a good thing and it had me worried. Soon after the bag was popped, my body progressed very quickly. It did the trick. I went from six centimeters to nine in a very little amount of time.

I never thought I would be the vocal laboring woman. During the comfort measures class, there was discussion about keeping your sounds in the low pitches to facilitate a sense of calm and not panic that would ensue if your sounds hit high tones. I heard this but did not think it would be something I would need to put into practice. I was wrong. In the late afternoon on September 20, I was in the worst pain of my life. Everyone is the room continued to remind me to take deep, slow breaths and keep my vocalizations low in pitch. Both of these commands were so hard to heed. I found my body automatically panting and making high pitched sounds. I do find, looking back, that doing as I was instructed not only helped the process but also put my mind in a different and more calm space as I was focusing on something other than my pain.

I started pushing without even having to decide to do it. My body just started doing it. I feel that no woman giving birth needs to be coached on when to push. By the time you’re asking if you should be pushing, you should be pushing! You just know you have to. It just happens. This phase of birthing lasted about two hours or so. It’s weird but I felt my boy’s head pop past my cervix, at least that’s what I think that feeling was. It was an interesting feeling and I felt almost like it could have been heard, if your ear was close enough. It felt like progress, something I was craving. During my pregnancy, if I was intimidated at all by giving birth it was due to the thought of what the contractions would be like, not the pushing and delivery of my baby. There are surprises around every corner. The expelling of my baby from my uterus was incredibly intense. I feel like I’m running out of words to describe this ordeal, but I think you get the picture. The stretching happening below felt like a burning. My contractions were coming so close during the pushing and I was so longing to get my baby here that I pushed and pushed with all the might in the universe without so much as a full breath, through each and every contraction. I was being torn in two, but I wasn’t getting relief from not pushing so I might as well push, right? “Just rip yourself in two,” I said. “Get him here.”

Like I said, my memories of the entire event are hazy. I do however remember the assistants being so incredibly helpful and caring. I just so happened to have two assistants named Jessica. With all that was happening to me, I could not remember to do anything other than focus on and get through the current contraction. Both ladies were there offering me water by straw, keeping my hair out of my face and making sure I was comfortably cool or warm. They were so wonderful. I cannot sing their praises enough. Not to mention, Maximilian was there encouraging my every move and massaging and rubbing me. It’s not all too important to chronicle the exact series of events and describe the amount of pain I was in; what is important, and the reason for this story, is that my son was brought into this world as was intended by nature and chosen by his parents. All went according to plan, ultimately. The length of my labor, the meconium in my water, the agony my brain perceived, these things don’t matter in the end. All that matters is that my baby boy is in my arms.

Of all the positions I managed and mastered, the last one was the best for a special reason; it’s the one in which my son was born. I was on my hands and knees on the bed. Maximilian was in front of me to my right, encouraging me to the end. Because I couldn’t see Cindi, Carla, Jessica and Jessica, I assume they were behind me, or maybe it’s that my eyes were closed most of the time and I was closed off to everything but the task at hand. I had no idea how long I would be in this new position, trying to get my baby out. For all I knew, it would be another five hours. In my mind, I thought it was going to continue forever. He was never going to come out. I wasn’t in this position long before he came. With each contraction, I gave my all. I remember grasping with my hands, trying to find anything to grip and squeeze. It just so happened to be Maximilian’s pants. He told me later, when the mood wasn’t so intense, that I nearly grabbed his balls at one point. It scared him. Lol! I was being encouraged dramatically now by Cindi. I knew he was coming soon. “He has a lot of dark hair,” she said. I was so tired, painful, hot, you name it, but those few words made me so happy. Not only was his head visible, but my wish of having a baby with a head of hair came true. I felt his head with my fingers. He was oh so close to being out. I pushed even harder and with more strength than I knew I had. I felt his head come out. I was on task. I kept pushing. He was here. Instant relief. Instant nirvana. Cindi said, “pick up your baby!” He was on the bed between my legs. I pulled him up and held his head in my right hand, his body in my left hand and against my chest. He was crying, loudly. He was beautiful. I couldn’t believe how amazingly beautiful he was. You try to imagine whilst pregnant what your baby looks like. I dreamt about it too. I could not have imagined or dreamt up this beauty. I was instantly obsessed. All the pain, fatigue, everything bad, was gone. He erased it all with his presence. Maximilian and I stared at what we had made, in awe. This day will forever be in the front of my mind… I experienced many things monumental. It was the day on which this little human forever changed our lives. It was the day when I experienced more pain… and love… than I ever will again.



Story by Kristina Pionzio, Sebastian’s adoring mama. 2014.

The Birth of Mason Roy

I had an uneventful and healthy pregnancy with our fourth child. My first two had been drug/intervention free hospital births, the third was a home birth and our fourth was a planned home birth with Gentle Birth Options. All of our babies had come quick; 3.5 hrs, 3 hrs and 2 hrs and 45 minutes respectively. I knew the whole pregnancy there would be a very real chance we would be birthing without our birth team though praying they wouldn’t be too far behind just in case there were complications. 41.1 wks into this healthy, uneventful pregnancy I requested to have membranes stretched. The morning of September 11, 2014 Cindi did just that. I was 5cm with baby quite low. After a normal NST my husband Adam and I left the office for some Thai food. I had a few contractions during lunch. We had to pick up our other three children and start the 2 hour drive back to Panama City. Lunch in Niceville was a much needed delay just in case the membrane manipulation got things moving before we could get home. No one wants to have a baby on the side of the road. We arrived back home still pregnant around 2:30p. I went to take a nap and left Adam to care for the kids. I slept a glorious three hours uninterrupted. I awoke at 5:30p. I sat in bed for a moment feeling no contractions. I sent a text to Cindi letting her know. I got up, went to the bathroom and started out to the yard where I would find my husband and children playing. I had a contraction. Then, I had another. I was paying attention to these last couple so I thought I should let Cindi know. She asked that I get in the tub and see how I felt. Between feeling the contractions at 545p and the tub filled and me in it at 615p I was unable to update her via text. My body was already clearing itself out (many trips out of the tub and to the toilet) and I was focusing on my labor which I was positive was active. Cindi called Adam and asked if they should come now…YES! My birth team was on their way. I jumped in and out of the tub multiple times to toilet before settling in to a great relaxation pattern. I was centered on the music being played, the essential oils diffusing into the room and my sweet children helping me labor. My husband was managing the logistics of getting the outdoor birth lights plugged in, our babysitter, photographer and birth team all on location. At 7:50p I felt an overwhelming desire to get out of the tub. To this day I will never know why, I just knew I had to. So I did. I sprinted to my bedroom and laid on my side. Adam was not far behind me with a towel, drying my skin as I settled into relaxation again. Five minutes had gone by before I said with certainty, “they’re not going to make it!” “yes they are baby, just breath.” Adam had said. I was pushing, “no, they’re not going to make it!” Adam replied, “okay, we’ve got this” and moved from his support position behind me to sitting on the edge of the bed, my leg on his shoulder and began applying counter pressure to my perineum. Our babysitter/my best friend now moved to my support person, offering her lap as a pillow. My children became my support people as they chanted, “go mommy, I see the baby, you’re doing it, you’re doing it!” while my photographer who looked just terrified every time I opened my eyes to place the people present, became a birth assistant. I took on the role of birth-er and birth manager. After the first push I asked the photographer to put the towels in the dryer. The second and final push revealed our baby. Adam was saying, “I see her, she is almost here honey you’re doing great, slow and controlled…”. Baby was out. It was an easy birth. Adam began to laugh, why is he laughing?! “It’s a BOY!” he said, “You have go to be kidding me!” was my reply. You see, I believed to whole pregnancy that this baby was a girl. The pregnancy had mocked our daughters and my “intuition” had told me it was a girl. My intuition was clearly wrong. I couldn’t have been happier though. This beautiful baby boy was staring back at me. I held him close and breathed in his new life. I sat up and began nursing. A minute or so later I announced that the placenta was coming. My friend held the bowl under me and caught the afterbirth. Cindi called to inform us that she was just a few minutes away. Adam let her know that baby was already here and that he and I were doing just fine. About ten minutes after our boy was born the birth team arrived, first Christina and Lorrie then Cindi. Judging by Christina’s facial expression when she walked in she hadn’t yet gotten the memo that baby beat them to the birth. Our birth, although a planned home birth, ended up being an unplanned unassisted home birth executed with ease in an hour and 45 minutes. My husband was amazingly calm. You would have thought he had done this a hundred times before. My children were amazing cheerleaders and my best friend was attentive. After our birth team arrived they crossed all the T’s and dotted the I’s. Our birth was perfect. Our newest son, Mason Roy Wickes 8lb 22″long was perfect. It was all, from beginning to end, perfect.

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The Birth Story of Paisley Bay


I knew the day we came home from the hospital that my next birth would be different. I would not birth in a hospital and I would never step foot in my OB’s office again. My hospital birth left me feeling broken, physically and emotionally, and made me doubt my abilities as a woman and a mother. So 11 months later, when we found out we would soon be welcoming baby #2, I immediately called Gentle Birth Options! I had heard so many great things and I knew this is where I would birth my baby and who I would choose to support me through my pregnancy

My pregnancy was relatively smooth, aside from a 2 day stay in the hospital for some GI issues at 28 weeks, which were remedied by Cindi’s recommendation of natural calm. Although I had a low risk pregnancy, a pelvic injury I sustained in my first birth left me horribly uncomfortable after about 36 weeks. At 39+4 I fell coming up my back steps carrying Piper because I couldn’t get my leg up far enough. I went in for an NST to make sure baby was fine (she was!). Cindi, Lori, and Christina all sat in with me the whole time rather than abandoning me on the monitor like a hospital would! I felt so loved! The following day, after discussing my pain level and the possibility of me maxing out before labor began, Cindi and I decided that stripping my membranes and trying to encourage baby out would be best. Contractions started that night and I was so excited! I would meet my baby soon! I “labored” all weekend but baby girl just wasn’t ready. Between 39+4 and 41+2, we did 6 cervical checks and membrane sweeps trying to get baby earth side. My sweet husband had taken off work starting on my due date (October 13th) to help take care of me and our big girl, Piper, so I could focus all my energy into resting and preparing for labor. What a long 9 days! I struggled somewhere between no patience, no peace, and being absolutely content with being pregnant forever. My outlook changed several times throughout the day. I was tired of being asked when my baby would be here, when I would be induced, hearing horror stories of dead babies past 40 weeks. I knew my baby would come on her own, when she was ready, and she just wasn’t ready, even though mama was. Why couldn’t everyone around me just be patient? My midwives and all of the GBO office staff was so supportive and encouraging. I would come in ready to cry and they would remind me that babies DO come out, I would be holding my baby soon, and I wouldn’t be pregnant forever! Praise The Lord! The morning of October 22nd, we went in at 10:30 for one last attempt to encourage baby along before Cindi headed out of town! I was so nervous that she would be leaving and wouldn’t be there for my birth. 5 cm dilated with a bulging bag of water! Come on baby! So we left, went for a walk around Walmart (very uncomfortable!), and contractions started around noon. Carla had encouraged me to go home, relax in the tub, and have a glass of wine, so I did. I laid down for a nap and contractions continued to get stronger and closer together. By 3 they were commanding my attention. I was still able to talk through them, but it was increasingly difficult. I text Cindi and my doula Bethany to let them know how things were going.

Around 5 Paxton wanted to make dinner but couldn’t remember the recipe. I couldn’t talk well enough to clearly communicate to him exactly how to make it, so I decided to get up and do it myself. I managed to eat a few bites before I completely lost my appetite. At this point I was still handling my contractions fairly well, but decided that I needed a little more support, so I decided to have Bethany go ahead and come. Paxton called his mom to come and get Piper (her first night away from home!) and the dogs. I also called Carla and requested that she and the birth team come soon. I was a little apprehensive, afraid that my labor would stop again, but am ultimately glad they came when they did. The birth team arrived around 7:30. Carla checked me and my cervix hadn’t changed from earlier in the day and baby’s head was unable to press against my cervix properly because of the bulging waters. We discussed breaking my water but decided baby needed to do some moving around before that happened. So I got into some crazy positions and got baby moved around enough. Carla then suggested that I sit on the toilet through a few contractions. That was definitely effective! I was now vocalizing more through my contractions and could feel my baby getting lower. I NEEDED to get in the tub! I was so tired and just wanted to rest and relax. I guess it was probably around 9:45 when I got in. The water felt so good and I thought I might get a few minutes of relief. But just a few contractions after getting in the water, my body was pushing! I couldn’t believe it. So quickly! I was leaning over the edge of the pool, holding onto Paxton’s hands while I pushed. It was so incredible to listen to my body and not be told when and how to push. My body knows how to give birth! Between contractions, I would lean back in the pool, sip my water, and try and catch my breath. As my contractions got stronger, to the point of feeling like they never ended, I began to lose my peace. I kept being reminded to catch my breath, deep sounds, my baby would be here soon. Paxton kept telling me I could do it, I had done this before (with a f$&@!?% epidural! Was my not so kind response). But I felt like she would never come out! I hit a wall and knew I could not do it. Can I just be pregnant forever? I even asked if I would love my baby after this was over! Why do women have babies without drugs?! I prayed to God, please give me the strength, Lord. Help me through this. I can do all things through Christ. And just then, her head was out! I CAN do it! It was such a relief to know that I was almost done, my baby was almost here. I leaned back again but couldn’t push effectively, so Carla had me get back on my hands and knees. A few pushes and some shimmying later, she was out! “Reach down and pull her up to you!” I think everyone in the room had to say it at least once before I pulled myself together and understood. I did it! I did it! My baby is here, all 9lbs 8oz of her! Paisley Bay Shelton.

That moment, seeing my baby for the first time, feeling so accomplished, so proud…that moment is invaluable. Nothing in the world is as great as that. I was induced with Piper for an unproven pelvis and a “big baby” that my OB estimated at 6-6.5 lbs. I was told I would not be able to deliver vaginally if I went any further. And then I had so much damage and a shoulder dystocia that he reminded me later, if she had been any bigger, I would have needed a cesarean. But I knew better. I informed myself, I prayed, I trusted God and his creation, my body. I chose incredible midwives to support me and come beside me while I brought my baby earthside in the best way for her and I. And then I did it! I pushed a 9lb 8oz baby through my “narrow hips” at home! And I have never been more proud or felt more blessed than I do today, to have had the experiences I had birthing my babies, one that lead to the other, and to have these 2 beautiful girls. I could not have done it without the support of my husband and my midwives 🙂





The Birth Story of Moses Fox

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