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Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

Birth Story of Sybil | When Instincts Replace Doubt

The birth of my rainbow was an emotional one. It was exhausting for me, mentally and physically. The end of the pregnancy was full of many mixed feelings. I was terrified of becoming a mom of three. I was sad to be thinking of Nadia’s (3.5) turn being the baby coming to an end. I wondered how I could handle the demands of more children, not to mention how I could love them all.

I also worried about labor and birth. I felt so prepared for Nadia’s birth. I took classes, read tons of books, just totally absorbed myself in the birth world and felt extremely empowered and ready. This pregnancy flew by, as I’m sure most third pregnancies do, and I didn’t feel quite as ready as I quickly approached my due date. I was nervous about the baby’s position, if the house was clean enough, if we had all that we needed, if the big girls were prepared to gain a new sibling.

I knew my body was ready and confident; my mind just wasn’t so sure. I was in no hurry to go into labor.  I was enjoying this baby on the inside, and to be very honest, wasn’t sure I could handle it on the outside. I was very happy and excited to meet this new person, I just didn’t have the confidence in me to believe that I was capable. I’m not sure where this lack of confidence stemmed from. I wonder if I started to question my body when I lost a baby last August. I also lost my dad last year, and wonder if knowing he wouldn’t meet this baby earthside was something I was struggling with. Whatever my holdup was, I knew this sweet baby was coming, ready or not.

My “due date” was May 7, 2014. I had been having warm-up contractions for awhile before the real thing hit. I woke up on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 around 2:00 AM with a wave that I couldn’t sleep through. After it was over, I drifted back to sleep. About 10 minutes later, the same thing happened.

That continued the rest of the early morning hours. I knew this would probably be the day. I spent time in the darkness with my Blessingway candles lit, thinking of the day to come. My sweet daughters were so excited to have a brother or sister joining us. Tessa (8) begged me every day to “please have the baby today!” She made a checklist of everything she needed to do once I went into labor, and was SO helpful during it all.

My doula, Hilary, asked me previously to let her know once I thought things might be happening, so she could arrange childcare for her children and make plans for the day. I sent her a text message around 5 AM to let her know that I would most likely need her at some point that day. She arrived here around 10:00 AM after I told her the waves were uncomfortable. I definitely couldn’t talk through them at that point and wanted her with me. She is such a source of peace, calm and strength to me during labor and I just needed her there. All that morning, before she arrived, we all got cleaned up and ready for the day ahead. When Hilary arrived, Bryan went out to mow the grass. The girls both were showered and put on their Big Sister shirts.

It was a beautiful, windy but sunny, balmy day, and lilacs (my favorite flower) were in full bloom. Hilary and I decided to head outside with the girls and pick some lilacs while I labored. That was by far one of my favorite memories of the day. The lilacs smelled so sweet, and watching my beautiful girls run through the grass made me so joyful. I pushed Nadia on her swing for awhile and chatted with my wonderful doula while the sun was warming us. At this point, my contractions were still not very regular, but very intense when they did come, about every 5, 7, or 10 minutes. We decided to go back inside and see how things did if I sat down and rested for awhile.

By this point, I had called Amanda (the photographer) and Brande (my midwife), to let them know this would probably be the day baby was born. My mom had also come over around 12:00 to help with the girls. Brande let me know to give her an update in awhile and Amanda was going to head over to get some shots while I was still in early labor. Before Amanda arrived, I decided to hop in the bathtub and be alone for awhile, as I was feeling discouraged about the irregularity of things. I put bubbles in the tub, lit my Blessingway candles, and put on my labor music. Then I cried. I was so tired and disheartened. I wondered why this labor was so inconsistent. I worried about the birth team and was mad at myself for calling them over so soon. I thought I may labor until the next day, and the thought was overwhelming. I talked to my very encouraging friend, Beth, on the phone, and she talked through a few of my fears with me. She is someone who knows the right words to say, and it always makes me feel better to talk to her. I truly believe this baby was staying inside because I wouldn’t let it out. I was too afraid of the next part of labor and of life. Literally at the same moment, Brande, the midwife called. She told me that she had another mom in labor, and she was headed to that birth in Bloomington (about an hour away). This also shook my confidence, but I knew she had a back up midwife that was very capable. I had to process that Brande may not be with me when I gave birth, but I quickly realized I would be in good hands and worrying would accomplish nothing.

I emerged from the bathtub around 1:00 PM with a tear stained face, but wearing my birthing necklace and outfit. I said hello to Amanda, the photographer and chatted with everyone. I was really an emotional roller coaster. Crying, then laughing, then moaning through waves. My contractions had spaced back out at this point and I was getting more discouraged as time went on. I mostly felt terrible for everyone sitting around when the actual birth could be hours and hours away. They were all so kind and assured me that they didn’t mind and they were so happy to be with me on this special day. Still, I was struggling.

We decided to go back outside and take some pictures. Hilary, Amanda, the girls and I all headed to the backyard. I leaned against the trees during contractions and chatted with my friends and daughters between them. It really was a beautiful time. I will forever look back with happiness on those last moments of being a mom of two girls and spending time with two of my wonderful friends.


We went back inside after awhile and again, the contractions had spaced out. Throughout the day, although inconsistent, they were contractions that I moaned, swayed and leaned through. Some of them felt like two contractions in one. One would peak, then start to subside, then peak again a few seconds later.  Hilary often squeezed my hips, which felt good. By this point around 2:00 PM, I knew birth would happen, but I had convinced myself it wouldn’t be for many hours, maybe even the next day. I made the big decision to send Hilary and Amanda home. It was very hard for me to make this choice, as both of them had such a calming and caring presence. However, I couldn’t stop worrying that I was putting them out in some way, so I asked them to leave for awhile. They were both eager to stay with me, but I promised I would call them if things picked up. I was going to try and rest. I was going on no food (nothing was appetizing) or sleep and was feeling pretty gloomy.


Around 3:00 PM, my mom took the girls to a park down the street, just to get them out of the house for awhile. With just Bryan and I at the house, I felt a little worry leave me, and I rested on our bed. The contractions still came, and I would hop quickly out of bed and try to breathe through them and stay loose and open. They were still coming every 5-10 minutes. This went on until about 4:00 PM, when things started getting more intense. My mom returned with the girls and I no longer could lie down. The contractions were a bit more regular now, and getting much more powerful. I decided to get back into the bathtub, as water always helped the waves feel more comfortable.

Before getting into the tub, I called Amie, the back-up midwife and the birth assistant, Marcia. I tearfully asked them to come over. They assured me they were on their way. Bryan could tell things were getting serious and he and my mom started trying to fill the birth pool with warmer water. I was in the bathtub alone and could hear them frantically boiling and dumping water. With the two baths I had taken in the previous hours, there wasn’t much hot water left. He also texted Hilary (doula) and I texted Amanda (photographer) to let them know to come back. This was around 4:30. Amanda asked through text how I was feeling and I told her I was feeling a little crazy. She assured me I was not, and was getting ready to have a beautiful birth.

While in the bathtub, I remember entering “labor land”. I was having a hard time responding to questions when Bryan asked, and I honestly didn’t care. I knew that in just a moment, another contraction was coming, and I needed everything within me to get through it. I felt alone, and was praying someone from my birth team would get there soon. I kicked myself for not calling sooner and sending everyone home. I had visions of delivering the baby in the bathtub all by myself. A bit before 5:00 PM, the midwife Amie arrived and I was so happy to see her. Although I had never met her, she gave off a radiant vibe that calmed me intensely. I felt very, very safe in her care. I asked her at once to Doppler the baby, as it hadn’t been checked all day. The heartbeat was 120 and strong. I could feel the baby squirming all around inside of me, lowering itself down further. Marcia (birth assistant) arrived soon after, then Amanda and Hilary also returned. Marcia was so helpful and stayed right with me in the bathtub. She talked to me calmly and happily, which made me feel good. She also felt my belly and assured me that baby was quickly coming. That’s the first moment I truly believed that very soon, I would meet my baby, and it was music to my ears.

It was a relief that everyone was back. I was in a strange place and was very somber between contractions. I felt like I was looking through people, and I couldn’t respond when they talked to me. I was very tired and going on no food, so Hilary made me a chocolate milk shake, which was delicious. I decided to head into the living room and attempt to get into the birth pool around 5:30 PM.

Bryan and my mom were still finishing putting hot water into the pool, so I labored next to it, on the rug for a few contractions. By this point, I was feeling very pushy, and was grunting and bearing down. I had a bloody show, but my water bag was still intact. I could feel it bulging and then decided to get into the pool, warm or not. It was lukewarm and felt great! I remember glancing at the girls, and seeing them wide-eyed with excitement. I accidentally said the “S word” during one wave and apologized to everyone.

Every contraction was a pushy one now, and they were coming quickly. I knew it wouldn’t be long and with each contraction, I pushed and grunted with all of my might. I felt very primal, like a wild animal growling. I thought some part of me may explode.

My bag of waters popped and during the next contraction, I could feel my baby’s head. It was moving up and down in the birth canal. I decided with the next contraction, I would push with everything I had, and get baby out. And I did! Baby’s head crowned and came out. I held her head with my hand under the water and felt all of the bones molding and the soft hair. It was magical. I gave one more monstrous push and baby slid the rest of the way out into the water. It was 6:08 PM on May 6, 2014. I was elated and so glad it was over. I pulled my baby to my chest and heard those first beautiful cries. After a few moments, someone asked what baby was… A girl! We had our third beautiful daughter. How blessed we were!


She quickly calmed and lay skin to skin with me. Brande, my midwife, arrived 5 minutes after she was born. I felt so safe and loved by her and the whole birth team! I eventually stood and delivered the placenta, splash, into the pool. Bryan held her skin to skin for the few moments that it took me to walk to the bedroom. She was so beautiful and covered in vernix. We were all so elated! She started nursing immediately and continued for a good three hours.  The midwives checked me and baby and we were both very healthy! Her big sisters got a good look and were over the moon (and still are!). More family came to meet this new life and everyone dined on Mexican food that I had prepared previously. I ate tons and couldn’t get full. There was wine and laughter and love. My worry was gone and peace was in its place. Sybil Anne, all 7lbs 6oz of her, was here, perfect, and safe in my arms.


By 9:00 PM everyone had gone, and we were heading to bed for the first time as a family of five. As the girls slept, Bryan and I sat up and talked about the day, remembering all that happened from our individual perspectives. It wasn’t the short, easy, birth I’d had with Nadia. It challenged me in ways I never knew possible, mentally and physically. It was an intense, emotional, but beautiful birth, we both agreed. God’s perfect timing was at work, from the moment of her conception to the moment she was in my arms. We were both so joyful as we settled down to sleep with our three marvelous daughters between us.

Kara Sylvester, IBCLC

New Addition | Birth Without Fear

New Addition | Birth Without Fear

“Your inspiring stories empowered me to have a wonderful birth at home, I just want to share a photo or two with you. Westin was born 11.7.14 @345pm. He weighed 7.2 lbs. and was 20.75 in. Healthy baby boy.  Thank you Birth Without Fear.  May you know the impact you truly have on the empowerment of women.



There We Were… A Family – The Birth of Sequoia

There We Were… A Family – The Birth of Sequoia

Heidi’s water broke Thursday at 12:30am. She woke me up saying “Uh baby, my water broke.”  I sat up and said, “Tell me more about that,” and looked over to see the soaked sheet on her side of the bed.  We did a few things to get ready for labor while having everyone in our house. Then we tried to sleep, but to no avail.  She was having regular contractions for a while, about seven minutes apart consistently. Everything was too exciting for us to sleep, so we stayed in bed in the dark and talked for a while.  I fell asleep for a bit before waking up around 6:00am.  We let our bosses know that we wouldn’t be showing up, and talked to our midwives, doula, birth photographer, and acupuncturist.

The contractions almost stopped around 8:00am, so we made an appointment with our acupuncturist for 9:15. She had worked with us throughout the conception and pregnancy, and we had planned to see her during labor as well. We stayed there for a couple hours and she worked on different acupuncture points to help encourage contractions and labor. She told us to go home and go on a walk, and do some pumping to get contractions started up again.

Heidi had also set up a visit from the woman who runs her prenatal singing circle Wombsong, so she came around 1pm. We expected to be laboring at that point, but since contractions were still pretty stalled, we were able to have a beautiful singing session with her and prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for labor. It was a wonderful thing to do, and we are so grateful she was able to come to us.

After she left, we did some more pumping and walking and were able to get contractions going again, but they were not very regular. Our midwife Sunshine Tomlin came around 7pm and talked about options for herbs and what they would do (slow things down or speed them up). She is always so calm and reassuring, so it was nice to have her there. She was able to be there for a contraction or two and see how hard they were, but they were still 10-15 minutes apart. She had suggested Heidi take some valerian to help her sleep, and told her to rest and she would most likely see us in the morning.

After she went home, our doula Giselle arrived shortly thereafter. Pretty soon Heidi started having very regular contractions, and throwing up after each one. The contractions got pretty serious, and Giselle and I started thinking Sunshine should maybe come back. We timed the contractions and they were consistent every 4-5 minutes, so we told Sunshine she should come back. It had only been an hour since she left! She said she’d let her assistant Angela and our birth photographer Paige Driscoll ( know and they’d be at our house soon.

Right before they got to our house, Heidi was pretty desperate to be in the tub, which we’d started filling just a bit before that. Sunshine checked her and told her to get in, and Heidi told me to get in too. We stayed in the tub for a long while, getting through contractions and breathing. Heidi was doing what she needed to do, and Giselle was such an amazing support as well. She knew the right thing to say and do to help us both, and was great at encouraging Heidi and me through each contraction. There were times Heidi felt like giving up, but having the support of Giselle, Sunshine, and Angela seemed to help her.

After a while in the tub (about two hours at that point), she was getting ready to push. Heidi started feeling like she didn’t have enough traction in the birth tub, since there was nothing to really hold onto, and she wanted to move. With the help of our VERY strong doula, we moved from the tub to the bed and Heidi pushed some more.  I kept saying she needed to go on the birthing stool so gravity could help her, even though her pushing was making some progress.

After an hour on the bed, Heidi moved to the birthing stool. After 8 minutes on the stool, Sequoia was born at 3:21am, weighing 7 lbs even and measuring 19.5” long. The midwives placed her in our arms, and the first thing we did was sing to her. We sang a Kundalini Yoga chant, “Long Time Sun,” to her.

May the long time sun shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure, pure light within you
guide your way home

We went back into the nursery bed with all three of us, and held her and both nursed her (this is possible because I induced lactation using the Newman-Goldfarb protocol). I was able to cut her cord. Eventually we all moved to our bigger bedroom and got cozy in bed together. Our midwife sat on our bed and did Sequoia’s exam there. Before we knew it everyone had cleaned up and left, and there we were—a family.

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The Birth of Mason

The Birth of Mason

After a very difficult pregnancy, including pregnancy-induced hypertension (landing me in the ER twice and putting me on 3x the normal dose of BP meds starting at eight weeks), kidney stones, and morning sickness for 23 weeks, I was happy to have made it to 40 weeks with no serious complications. I was in no hurry for labor as long as Mason stayed safe and my blood pressure remained under control. We made the choice to switch from our homebirth midwife to a high risk OB and to deliver at St. Joseph. I was sad to give up my ideal birth, but knew it was the best choice for Mason and me. We found an amazing doula, and I spent my time researching and making plans for a low intervention hospital birth.

Monday night was the day after my due date and we were out celebrating Waid’s BFF’s birthday. We had a fabulous meal of fish tacos (which is weird, I HATE fish!) and I kept telling everyone I was certain I would stay pregnant for another week. I was finally enjoying my pregnancy! We finished the night off with more cupcakes than I care to admit and headed home. Every time I woke that night to use the bathroom, I felt crampy, but it wasn’t anything painful and went away when I laid back down, so I thought nothing of it.

At about 7:30, I went to the bathroom and noticed I was bleeding. We decided to call the hospital and let them know just to be safe. They said it was most likely nothing, but wanted me to come in to make sure my placenta wasn’t separating from my uterus or something crazy like that, I don’t remember. During the last weeks of my pregnancy, we were all praying for God’s timing for my labor. My mother had three foster daughters at the time and not a ton of childcare options if my labor started since they weren’t in school. The girls were literally stepping onto the bus when I called my mom to tell her we were going in, God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect. We almost didn’t bring our bags because I had had no real contractions and I was still sure I was going to be pregnant for another week! I took my morning dose of 400mg of Labatelol and we headed to the hospital. I gave my doula Casondra a heads-up on the way just in case.

Upon arriving at the hospital, two other women were heading up to L&D as well. I had trouble convincing the nurse that I did not need a wheelchair, I politely told her I wasn’t here to have my baby, I’d be back in about a week. They put me into an exam room and the on-call doctor came in to check me.  2cm, 50% effaced, which meant nothing to me, I was 2cm earlier that week. Blood pressure was looking great! They had me get up to walk around for an hour and were to check me after that to see if I would make any progress, but were telling me I would most likely be going home. As soon as I stood up after my cervical check, WOOSH! My first real, painful contraction! I excitedly began prancing myself around the circular hallway around L&D. It was only fun for about 60 seconds until the next one came, and the next one 60 seconds after that, and so on and so on. I could time it perfectly to where I could make it around the whole circle to the little waiting area and lean over the same chair to work through that contraction and make my “dinosaur noises.”  I think the whole waiting room was scared of me!

After an hour of that, they checked me again. 3cm, 75% effaced. Blood pressure still looking great! They reluctantly decided to admit me which I was sad about because I had hoped to labor at home as long as possible, but I knew there was no way I could possibly sit through the car ride home. Waid called Casondra and she headed up.  After getting me all checked in, I requested a dose of medicine to relax me a bit as I was tired from being up all night. They also started antibiotics for my GBS (I only ended up getting one bag of antibiotics). I rested a bit between each contraction and was enjoying my 30 second cat naps! My friend Janna, my grandma, my mom, and Waid’s mom were all there at this point. They went down to get some food while I enjoyed a fabulous foot rub from Casondra. She also reminded Waid to put on my labor playlist and help me into my own gown (doulas are the best!). They brought me back some protein-packed juice and I tried to drink a bit but it was disgusting!  I paced the room, squatted, lunged, peed 1,000 times and hung around Waid’s neck.

Waid was my rock through my labor, he was such amazing encouragement! I was having some back labor, so my mom and Waid took turns putting counter-pressure on my lower back. Things started to get fuzzy here as I was heading deep into “labor-land”, but I remember chuckling at my grandma who was concerned that squatting would cause the baby to fall out! If only it were that easy, grandma! I started to feel panicked at the intensity of the pain and requested another dose of the relaxing drug (I was told later that I was actually demanding an epidural). It only lasted for about 40 minutes, but it was a nice break, and just what I needed to keep going.


After being back up for a while, I started to feel pushy. I couldn’t see how this was possible as it had only been a few hours and I hadn’t progressed between my last two (and only other) checks. I was an eight!!! I swear, the heavens opened and I heard the “Hallelujah Chorus!” After another blood pressure check and it still looking good, I decided to get into the small tub in the bathroom while they filled the larger tub out in the room. As soon as I got in the water, my pain was cut in half at least! I was feeling like I was finally starting to get back in control of things and feeling like I could totally do this! I spent a few contractions in that tub with Casondra coaching me through not pushing, which was the hardest part of the whole labor. I also had her pray with me and Waid which really helped me focus. Kim Walker’s Holy was on repeat.

As soon as I got into the birthing tub, I knew I couldn’t hold back any more. I pushed gently with a few contractions, but was scared I was “going to the bathroom.” After everyone convinced me I wasn’t pooping myself, I really started to push and reached down to feel Mason’s head! Feeling the progress of my pushing motivated me and he was out in three pushes! I delivered him myself and pulled him up to my chest (this was about 20 minutes after being told I was an eight). My OB (who had previously told me I had an almost 100% chance of a c-section) helped me untangle the cord, and that was the only time he had to intervene! It felt so empowering to see the look on his face and hear him tell me I won the birth lottery (although, I knew it was God’s amazing grace!)! I trusted my body to do what I knew it could do. My life was changed in that moment, and I knew it would never be the same.

Mason Russell Hoyt 7lbs. 11oz 19in long. Born at 3:25pm, after seven hours of labor 






There’s No Place Like Home {Homebirth After Three Hospital Births}

There’s No Place Like Home {Homebirth After Three Hospital Births}

“This is the story of the birth of my 4th child. My first home birth after 3 hospital births. To anyone having or planning on having a baby, I highly recommend homebirth as an option!  There is no place like home. There is no place like home! Being in your own space enables you to do what nature intended without fear and sometimes unnecessary intervention. Embrace your beautiful woman power and birth your babies with all the love and security of your own home.” – Theresa

It started a little over 8 months ago, when my partner Peter insisted I buy a home pregnancy test. I was only 3 days late for my cycle, but he “had a feeling”. So I grabbed one in the shopping. I tested positive 2 days before my youngest daughter Hannah’s first birthday. What a surprise that was! After the initial shock we were happy with the news and told family and friends at Hannah’s first birthday party.

I guessed I was around 5 weeks, so didn’t rush in to the doctors. I had only ever used the services of my GP for prenatal care. We decided to go with a different route in prenatal care this time. Peter and I talked about what we wanted for the birth and seeing as I had gone through 2 previous rough hospital births and we nearly didn’t make it there with Hannah, the idea of a homebirth was very appealing to both of us.

So, off to Google I went in search of a midwife. I came up with a short list of 4 midwives. Then I went to the message board on Trademe and asked for people in my local area to recommend midwives they thought were good. Ruth Davison was the first one I found on Google and she was also highly recommended by one trader in particular whose story I had read. So I made contact with her and she came to my home where I booked with her. Funny enough my second choice turned out to be Ruth’s backup midwife Janine Clemons.

My pregnancy progressed as text books say it should. Along the way Ruth offered loads of advice and gave me lots of information to read about homebirth and the possibility of using water (which we decided to go with). This included books, pamphlets and DVD’s. She reassured me regarding small things I worried about like my blood group and Hannah’s IUGR.

I was sent for essential blood tests and an anatomy scan at 20 weeks. Unlike my past 3 pregnancies which consisted of monthly then fortnightly bloods as well as numerous growth scans. Her approach to my pregnancy gave me what I needed to really enjoy it!

Fast forward to my due date, which came and went as I knew it would! I wasn’t too concerned with this, I was taking every day and treasuring it as my possible last! Not planning anymore meant these would likely be my last days with a little being inside me. Every night I went off to sleep wondering if I would still be pregnant in the morning, and every morning there my bump was to greet me until 41 weeks 4 days.

I had a visit with Ruth this day and she was very reassuring and explained what would happen if I went much further over my dates then offered to sweep the membranes, which I eagerly agreed to.

Ruth checked everything out and discovered I was already 5cm dilated and effaced! YAY things would happen soon! She swept the membranes to encourage things along and instructed I get things ready. She left me with instructions to contact her as soon as I felt things getting regular. I took the last photo of my belly and then sat down to ring Peter and let him know what was happening. We decided it was best for him to come home which he did. I also rang my mum and sister to let them know today was the day!

I went about my usual day as best I could with my excitement rising. I had tightening on and off throughout the rest of the day and in to the evening. By 7pm they were definitely becoming a bit more regular and a little before 8pm I started timing them. There was no pain, just a gripping that squeezed my belly from top to bottom. After a few hours I decided this was happening a lot like Hannah’s delivery so I text Ruth just to let her know things were happening and to ask when I should contact her to come over. Ruth asked a few questions and said she would get things ready and come over and to start filling the pool. Peter having something to do went off and started that. I rang my mum and sister to let them know it was time to come over but not to rush as there was still no pain.

I continued to time my contractions and made regular visits to the loo while Peter got the pool ready. We had had it set up in our bedroom for a few weeks before the birth, so all that he needed to do was put the liner on and fill it. At around 10.30pm I made yet another visit to the loo and discovered a bloody show when I wiped. When I came out Ruth was here which was very reassuring for me as I was able to tell her what was going on. Shortly after that mum arrived, she was followed a little while after by Debs a student Childbirth Educator who was going to be present for Keean’s birth. My sister Tania, niece Natasha and finally Janine, the backup midwife arrived. So by midnight everyone was here and my contractions were coming closer together at around 5 minutes. Ruth had been occasionally checking Keean’s heart rate throughout the evening. This stayed steady and strong.

We past the time chatting, telling stories and drinking cups of tea. I can’t believe how relaxed the whole situation was! I took Miss Hannah to her bed in order to try and get her to sleep. Once she went off I went in to see how Peter was getting on with the pool. Seeing the pool all ready to go had me feeling a little emotional. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I felt as if I had got everyone here far to soon, but Peter reminded me we didn’t want to muck around just in case it all happened too fast like Hannah’s birth.

By now each contraction produced a funny bulging feeling with a lot of pressure in my back passage, but still not a lot of pain. At around 2am Janine let me know she and Ruth had discussed checking how things were going and possibly breaking the waters to get things really going. I agreed to this happily! So at 2.10am Ruth ruptured my membranes and let me know I was now 7cm dilated. This was my very first experience with leaking waters and that was something very different! I changed in to my nighty and we went back out (me with towels between my legs!).

Very quickly the contractions started to become painful. I was still very capable of dealing with them, but I was also able to report to Peter “Yep! That one hurt”. And with each contraction I was leaking loads of fluid. So I decided to get in the pool. Janine had had a few calls from another lady in labour and at this stage let me know she had to go. She wished me luck and went off. I got in the pool and had a decent contraction which stopped me being able to move! So I waited it out standing with a bit of hand pressure on my back. Once it was gone I got down in to the water. I tried a sitting position but that wasn’t comfortable and in the end settled on kneeling/squatting. The water was soothing although I had to ask Peter to stop stirring the thermometer in the water as it was putting me off balance.

Mum, Tania and Natasha sat on our bed while Deb’s and Ruth sat on the floor near the pool. Peter was on the other side right next to me but not in the pool yet.

By now the contractions were considerably more painful. Each one would start in my lower belly and spread around to my lower back and in to my thighs. I felt calm, I knew Ruth was there if I needed her. I trusted her completely and she seemed to understand that I wanted to do this myself. She listened and watched how I was coping to gauge when I would birth Keean. I had Peter there as well. Peter’s calm reassurance helped ease my mind so I knew I was safe and I knew I could do this. I was concentrating on the rise in the pain. I knew that it would peak and then back off and that was where I was aiming for. As each contraction came and went I sat on my knees and gently rocked back and forth. Ruth checked Keean’s heart between and sometimes during the contractions. Through these contractions I was putting pressure on my lower belly with one hand and my lower back with the other.

After a number of these contractions they kicked it up a notch! They were a lot more painful and I had too ask everyone to be quiet in order to concentrate on my goal, getting to the other side of each contraction. Now the pain was mostly in my lower back and I used both hands to put as much pressure there as I could which helped. I got the most amazing feeling and I can only think it was Keean moving down through my cervix and birth canal. It wasn’t painful but I felt him there. Again I had to ask everyone to “shhhhhhhhhhh” and I let them know I was going to push. Peter asked me if he could get in the pool, but I was unable to respond. So he got in with me. I had told him well before hand that I wanted him in there with me to catch Keean and in the end he was happy to do this.

My first push was very involuntary. My body took control and bore down through the contraction. Once it was gone I went forward on to hands and knees with my chin leaning over the edge of the pool. The feeling inside of me was like turmoil, both pain and excitement. He was right there! I could feel his head right there. To me it felt as though his head was out, but Peter tells me it wasn’t yet. I felt myself moaning waiting for another chance to push. It was painful but not a pain I couldn’t control. I was trying to control my breathing also and with the next contraction I pushed with everything I had which birthed Keean’s head.

Again my body took over and at 2.47am on the 25th march 2010 I pushed my Son out in to the waiting hands of his Dad who was guided by our brilliant midwife Ruth.

Ruth showed Peter how to bring Keean up between my legs and I sat back up again. I brought Keean up out of the water and he opened his lungs for the world to hear him say “I am here”. Ruth Put a towel over him and placed her hand on my shoulder. I was so thankful to her right at that moment. I still am and I am glad I have that exact moment captured forever in a photo. I looked over at Peter and I felt overwhelming love for him. He made me feel so safe and secure. I just wanted to lean on him, but I couldn’t as there wasn’t much cord out yet and I was holding Keean against my tummy. Peter put his hand up and helped me to support our new son.

home waterbirth

homebirth after hospital births

Caleab my older son came in after Keean’s crying had woken him. Mum went to wake the girls and got Hannah as well. So all the kids came in and met their new brother shortly after he was born.

Caleab had been asking questions the previous day about the cord and placenta so he watched as Ruth got everything ready and had Peter cut Keean’s last link to my womb. It’s funny, I felt a sudden loss right then. It was fleeting, but I acknowledge my emotion for what it was. Keean was now his own person. No longer mine, no longer my private little being.

homebirth father cutting umbilical cord

Not long after that I started contracting again and birthed the placenta. I was empty. My emotions threatened to take over. I did it, no one else. I birthed my son my way! I was exhilarated, ecstatic and delighted from having the full birth experience in such a wonderful way.


newborn homebirths

After Ruth helped me from the pool, dried me off and helped me change I got in to my own bed where I was given Keean. I put him to my breast and he fed for a long time. Ruth then weighed him and took all his measurements (8lb 10oz 51cm length and 37cm head). I lay there bone tired exhausted and just about unable to keep my eyes open, but buzzing and absolutely alive!

A few cups of tea later and everyone started leaving for their beds. Ruth was the last to leave at 5.30am. Peter came to bed then and we just lay with our new beautiful baby boy and I slept.

After the most amazing experience of my life I have only a few regrets: that I never seriously considered homebirth for my 3 previous births, that I let myself be scare in to a hospital, and that my older 3 children didn’t get a chance to be born in to such a calm and loving environment.

Awesome Waterbirth {HBAC Birth Without Fear}

Awesome Waterbirth {HBAC Birth Without Fear}

“My sweet man will be a year old tomorrow so I wanted to share my story and pictures. I wrote this a couple of weeks after his birth and never could have realized how much this baby would change and bless our family. We’ve come a long way in our almost 15 years of marriage. My story does leave out a major event. Due to a difference in opinion in my care, one of my closest friends and I split ways when I was almost 37 weeks. The trauma from that, really effected the last weeks and threatened my focus.” – Piper

So much happened to lead up to the conception and birth of this baby. Dealing with infertility. Re-evaluating our marriage and relationship with God. Deciding to sell our house where we’d built our family. So much had changed in our lives in the 7 years since I was pregnant with Pruitt and things had really changed since Cale’s birth in 2002. Pruitt’s birth was quite traumatic for me and we knew this birth needed to be different. It was immediately decided upon that I would VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and that I would birth at home. We were confident in our decisions and not once did Chris or I question what we felt was the best for our family.

My pregnancies with Cale and Pruitt were pretty uneventful. I felt great and thoroughly enjoyed pregnancy. However my pregnancy with Callaway was NOT at all what I had expected. We found out that I was pregnant one week after moving into our new home. Surprise and shock don’t adequately describe our feelings, but we knew that this baby was a gift. You can’t argue with God! This pregnancy, I was constantly nauseous, tired, had pain from what we think was stretching/ripping of scar tissue from my c-section with Pruitt, major pubic bone pain. Then right as I started to feel great again, I was hit with rising blood pressure, protein in my urine and the threat that I may need to birth at a hospital. The entire pregnancy I did my best to not complain, to feel grateful and blessed, but the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy were some of the most difficult.

We did many things that we believed would help achieve the homebirth I wanted. I had received chiropractic care the entire pregnancy and continued to do so right up until the day of the birth. I received personalized care from midwives. I had my BFF as my doula. I kept my plans of VBAC and homebirth to myself (which I highly recommend since both topics seem to get TONS of unsolicited information/opinions!). We spent a lot of time as a family, planning, talking, praying for a great birth. I even went for hypnosis. I visualized and prayed for a relatively quick, easy birth, with very little discomfort (these were my exact words). I told myself that my birth would be easy considering how trying the pregnancy had been. That made sense, right?! And most of all, my husband, Chris, he continued to support and encourage me. He was my rock the entire pregnancy and birth.

From the beginning of my pregnancy I told people that I was due at the end of September. I wasn’t ever really sure of my due date and knew that it didn’t mean squat. The midwives had my due date as the 23, my chart said maybe the 25, and I had given myself the date of the 28. I decided to start counting weeks on Tuesdays so when I hit the 40wk mark, I did have a mini-breakdown. I had never been that pregnant before and couldn’t believe that I was STILL pregnant. I started to question if my body knew what to do, if my body worked. I had to truly let go and come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t ME in control. I knew I needed to trust God, my body and my baby, but that’s easier said than done!

Friday, September 28

My midwife came to the house AGAIN, to check on us AGAIN. Blood pressure, urine, baby – all doing well. Told the midwife that I was sick and tired of everything. I was done with the prodromal labor. I was done with the pubic bone pain. I was done with drinking a gallon of water. I was done with counting grams of protein in each meal. I was done with the constant blood pressure and urine checks. I was done with taking all the supplements. I WAS DONE. She assured me that even though she’d told me it wouldn’t be much longer, it truly would NOT be much longer. I assured her that I was not believing anything she said anymore, but accepted that he’d come when he was ready, not when I was ready. I found out later that she told Chris that I was truly truly close since my attitude was deteriorating! After she left, I introduced my boys to Psy’s “Gangnam Style” song/dance and decided to relieve myself of “resting” and dance. Chris shook his head and the boys laughed at me attempting to “Gangnam Style” the baby down and out. Unfortunately, there are no pics and there’s no video. I do wish I had both!

Chris and I went to bed as normal. He rubbed my back as normal (yes, he’s freaking AWESOME!) and during that back rub, at 11:55pm, I felt a kick and internally heard a POP. I yelled about how much that movement from baby hurt and started having a contraction. After it was over, Chris continued and I had to have him stop again for another contraction. I explained to him that the pop I had heard is what I imagined women heard when their water broke, but how baby’s movement seriously hurt and how shocked I was. Denial much?

Saturday, September 29

I got up to go to the bathroom before going to sleep. As I hit the tile, I felt something run down my leg. I flipped on the lights and looked at my legs. I then looked at Chris, gasped and stated that I thought my water had broken. He lunged up on his elbow in the bed and said, “YOU ARE KIDDING!!!”. I started laughing and ran to the toilet. When I got up, I started laughing again and there was a big GUSH. Chris then asked me to quit peeing on the bathroom floor. I didn’t know what to do at that point and just kept laughing. When I’d talked with baby during the last weeks, I’d told him that with all the contractions I’d been having, he needed to break my water so I’d truly know that labor was indeed labor! The contractions had continued but weren’t bad at all when I was upright. I attempted to clean up what mess I had made, but kept making it worse with gushing fluid. I knew my BFF was out on the town so I decided to call her and give her a heads up. She didn’t answer! So I called her back as I sat on the toilet laughing. When she did answer, we were both way too excited. Chris then shows up in the doorway and asked what he needed to be doing. We decided he would start filling the birth pool that had been sitting in the corner of our bedroom for 3 weeks. I then decided to call the midwife to give her a heads up. I was still in disbelief but the fluid kept coming! Everyone decided to lay down and rest while we could. However, after laying down and going through more contractions, I decided that was NOT going to work. It was way more comfortable being up.

I had no concept of time at all. I kept going to the bathroom as my body had decided to cleanse itself. I then found a comfy spot in the chair in our room. At this point, Chris was nodding off and I was just breathing through the contractions. Around 1:00am I told Chris that time was flying, that I thought the contractions were coming too frequently and lasting too long to only have been “in labor” since around midnight. Chris started timing them and fell asleep again… *sigh*

My 1:44am text to Brandy: “avg 3 min apart, lasting over a minute.”. I was feeling well and doing well but really in shock that it was all happening!! I explained to Chris that this is when we usually tell doula clients to head to the hospital or call their caregiver. At 2:06am I texted Brandy again to tell her that Chris was sleeping through all the contractions! I tried to sit on the birth ball at this point and Chris made coffee. It was another attempt to rest for me and his attempt to stay awake. I asked Chris to light my labor candles from my Mother’s Blessing and he brought them in and lit them. 2:38am text to Brandy: “Ball is a no go. Too much pressure”. 2:46am text to Brandy: “Sorry. Everything is intense down low” because I wasn’t answering her texts! At 2:58am Brandy called to check in with Chris and give more ideas on how to get me comfy. I wasn’t having any of it! Around 3:10am, I decided I was getting in the birth pool. It sounded inviting and holy cow it felt great. However, as I relaxed into the pool, my doula brain told me that I was going to relax and those contractions were going to start coming more intensely.

At 3:25am Chris called Brandy for me to let her know that I thought “This is stupid. I’m not doing this.”… She said she was on her way.

After hanging up with her, Chris decided to call Margarett because of the way I was acting. He had surpassed his level of comfort with my laboring. Again, my internal thoughts were “How is this happening so quickly? Am I really overreacting? I can’t believe it’s time! There’s a birth pool in my bedroom and I’m in it!”

Here’s where my viewpoint gets hazy. Things did start to ramp up even more once I was in the water. I was still in disbelief that things were moving so quickly but couldn’t figure out why it was taking everyone so long to get to my house. The reason they weren’t there? It had only been 5 minutes since they had been called! I was having to start vocalizing through the contractions. I would say OPEN during the contractions. As the contraction started, I’d tell the baby to “come out come out come out”. Brandy showed up about 20 minutes after the call. I barely remember her showing up, but remember her hanging the labor necklace by the pool so I could see it.

Around 4:00am, 15 minutes after Brandy arrived, Margarett came in. I don’t remember much about her coming in, just some quiet talking and incredibly cold hands that felt so good! I do remember announcing to everyone, in between a contraction, that I was done – I didn’t want to do this anymore. Chris was awesome as he watched on from beside the pool. He’d remind me to breathe, to relax deeper and deeper, he held my hand, and he would place his giant hand on the side of my face which has ALWAYS triggered me to relax. I did have a thought during one contraction that I really wanted to bite him!

As I held onto the edge of the pool, I do remember shaking. Again, doula brain kicked in and I knew that shaking, deciding I didn’t want to labor anymore, the nausea I was feeling, the burping, were all signs that things were very close, but I didn’t grasp HOW it could be so close when it hadn’t been long since my water had broken! Margarett asked if I wanted her to check me and I said yes. I then looked at Chris while Brandy and Margarett were busy and told him that if I’m at a 4, we were leaving and going to the hospital. Margarett checked me and lo and behold an 8. EIGHT. Holy moly. I was an 8. I was close to finally meeting my baby!

The next two contractions I felt like I was starting to lose control. Everyone kept me calm and talked me back down but I just wanted to cry and crawl out of my skin. Then my body decided to do a test push. Margarett asked me if I was pushing because I wanted to be done or because my body was doing it. I let her know that I had NO plans on pushing because it didn’t feel good. I personally remember freaking out and screaming too. I’ve been told that I did NOT scream at the top of my lungs, just started to vocalize more. I couldn’t focus on stuff much but tried to focus on Chris and tell him that I was going to leave, that I was seriously done. He told me that he wouldn’t let me quit. That this is what I had wanted and had fought for and I could do it and that it hadn’t been taken from me. All things that I needed to hear and to be reminded of. Margarett got in my face at one point and talked me back down too. I would go back and forth from handling a contraction well to begging for help. Seriously. I’d say “Someone help me!”. They’d all agree to help but never took away my discomfort so I bounced back and forth from Chris’ side of the pool to Brandy and Margarett’s side of the pool. Brandy also had to step in and quietly reminded me that there were people that were skeptics, that didn’t believe I could do this, that didn’t believe in homebirth and that I was showing them that it can and would be done MY way! Again, exactly what I needed to hear! Then my body decided it was ready to push.

I gripped the side of the pool and let my body take over. Margarett said I had a lip of cervix left and said she was going to push it back. During a contraction, sometimes my body would push, sometimes it would just rest. I swear I pushed for a year, but was later told it was 15-20 minutes. The pushing was very controlled, I couldn’t voice that I was letting my body push when it needed to, but that’s what I felt was right and that’s what I was telling myself in my head: let your body work and push him out. I could feel him moving down and stretching things. I kept waiting for that ring of fire feeling, but it never really hurt, was mostly an intense pressure feeling. Chris reached down a time or two and felt the baby’s head.

I was in my own world. During this 15-20 minute period, I had a few thoughts: “Wow, this is TOTALLY happening!” “Remember all the love and support that women brought into the house at the Mother’s Blessing” “So many women have birthed their babies and now it’s my turn.” “I can do this.” “There’s no way out.” “This is MY body doing what it needs to do and it is NOT stronger than I am, it can’t be!”

As he crowned, his head was out to his eyes and the pressure was pushing his fat cheeks up and Margarett later told me that she had a thought about baby being able to fit. I remember ignoring most everything around me, seeing my labor necklace hanging by my head and the intensity of my body pushing by itself. During this part of pushing, I do remember biting the side of the pool.

Then I remember hearing Margarett saying that one more big push and baby’s head would be out, that I could finally see my baby. I was SO ready at that point so I pushed with everything and he literally shot out. I couldn’t believe it. The emotions hit and I felt Margarett place him on backside to get a better grip on him. I then said that I couldn’t see him! They got me flipped over and she handed him to me.

I’ll be honest, I wanted that euphoric feeling of “I DID IT!!” but I do remember thinking “OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! I am so glad that’s over!”

I looked up and saw Chris’ face and told him to come see! He leaned over, kissed me, looked at his new son and said “You did it!” Pretty sure I just sighed and whispered back “I did it.” I also stated he looked just like Pruitt and then asked to have the boys woken up and brought in. They had both wanted to be present for the birth so I wanted them there as soon as possible. Brandy went and got them and I sat in the pool, holding my squishy baby and made sure that he was indeed a boy. Next thing I knew, Brandy said the boys were there. Their faces right there by the pool, as they looked at their new baby brother, an incredible feeling as a mom. And I had hoped that their presence would help me regain strength and control as I was then reminded that I still had to birth the placenta! Baby C was very calm and peaceful. He squeaked a few times but just sat and looked at me.

The feeling of the umbilical cord still attached to the both of us is still fresh in my mind. Not sure why that memory is so vivid but it is. And the shock of the 5 hour labor and the fact that I did indeed birth, unmedicated, in my bedroom is/was overwhelming. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and the placenta detached. I’d always heard that the placenta coming out was an incredible relief and oh my heavens was it ever! We then handed baby AND placenta to daddy for some bonding while I got out of the pool and tucked in bed.

My thoughts after the birth besides disbelief: my body works! My body worked to get me pregnant with no medical interventions as I’d had with the other 2 boys. My body worked to birth my baby on his time, not when someone told me that he should be born and my body worked to birth my baby quickly (and with no tearing!)! There were no unwanted checks, no poking and prodding, no constant monitoring, no pitocin. I got everything that I wanted and that I’d worked so hard to achieve. I was now one of “those” moms.

Callaway, born September 29, 2012

5:13am | 9lbs 8oz | 22 ¼” | 15” head | 15 ¼” chest


Vaginal Twin Home Waterbirth With Postpartum Transfer

Vaginal Twin Home Waterbirth With Postpartum Transfer

“In January 2012 my husband and I found out we were expecting our third. We had two other kids, Asher was 2 ½ and Evie was just barely 1. We were excited, three was going to be awesome; our two bedroom house was going to feel a little smaller, but nothing we couldn’t handle, our blue impala had room for a third car seat. When we told our son he immediately asked if there were two babies, we said no. He continued to tell me that there were two babies in my tummy. Silly toddlers!” – Melody

We called up the midwife who had delivered our daughter at home and set up a first appointment at 13 weeks. Everything looked great, I had pretty severe morning sickness… but we had done this twice before and I was sick both times, it was expected. My uterus was right at the pubic arch, measuring pretty much right on. At 17 weeks we had another appointment, I was measuring right at the navel. Something we would have expected closer to 20 weeks. I had measured a few weeks behind with my other two pregnancies. We noted the difference, joked about twins, and figured it was due to this being my 3rd pregnancy and my previous babies were decent sized… maybe he was just big.

At 22 weeks I had another appointment. I now measured 27 weeks. This was not right. They found a good heart beat and could feel a little peanut in the transverse position and space above him. My midwife felt like she could feel “something else”. I made an appointment with an OB to have an ultrasound. In my heart I knew there were two of them.

The OB laughed off the increased size. I wasn’t nearly big enough for twins. We endured a lecture for having our daughter born at home. Finally around 20 minutes into the appointment he decided to check the heartbeat. The instant he put the Doppler on my stomach my husband and I looked at each other. There were two heartbeats. Even our untrained ears could hear that. The OB mumbled something and told us to walk over to the ultrasound room because he wanted to check, but that sounded like twins.

They put the wand on my stomach and there was a mass of legs and arms and TWO heads! It was twins. I cried even though I wasn’t nearly as shocked as I should have been. It was determined that they were most likely monochorionic diamniotic twins.  Meaning they shared an outer membrane and placenta and had separate inner sacs. They were monitored for size differences as mo-di twins are known for getting TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome) which if not treated can be quite dangerous. They always measured beautifully, within an ounce of each other via ultrasound.

We struggled with what the right decision was for our family. Do we have them in the hospital? Do we have them at home? What doctor do we trust? What if they are premature? The list of unknowns ballooned. Then at 26 weeks my cervix shortened and started to funnel. I was pulled out of my job and placed on modified bedrest. The first weeks I was super cautious, but a recheck of my cervix two weeks later showed no change. I started to do more. Cervix held. My doctor didn’t want me to go back to work so I was home.  We finally decided that it would be healthiest for the babies and me to give birth at home. We were at peace with this decision. I was comfortable. I could never imagine these boys being born in a hospital. Every time I tried to envision that it just felt off and wrong.


At 35 weeks we had our last ultrasound. The boys were both 5#15oz, baby A was head down and baby B was frank breech. I wanted to make it to 36 weeks to feel safe delivering them at home. So I laid low. Thursday was 35 weeks and 5 days. I started having regular strong contractions. This was not allowed! I called my mother in law and she took my children out for the night. They had a blast. I sat in my chair and relaxed. I still had contractions the next day. I called my mom and she played with the big kids. I sat in my chair and relaxed.

Saturday the 8th I was woken at 4:30 am to strong contractions 5 minutes apart. Then they spaced out all the way to 30 minutes apart. I cleaned the house, did laundry, tucked my big kids in for a nap and sat down. As I was folding clothes right around noon contractions got closer together. They weren’t super long or strong, but they were real contractions. I called my midwife when I had three in less than 15 minutes. She was eating lunch but would come check on us when she was done. At two a midwife assistant showed up, then my sister, another midwife assistant, my mom, my midwife. When my midwife arrived she wanted to do a cervical exam to verify position of baby A just in case we had a late flip. I was 6-7 cm and fully effaced. Baby A was presenting head down. I had been telling myself I was 2 cm the entire exam (who wants to be disappointed? Shoot low!) and when she said 6-7 cm I was shocked. I called in the rest of the troops. A second midwife arrived, a friend of mine to watch the kids, my photographer and her three week old baby. Around 5 pm my mom ran out with our oldest son to get some sandwiches for everyone.



I got in the labor tub and was feeling fantastic. Then I didn’t feel so hot. Then I felt way too hot. Then I announced loudly that I was going to poop. I remember someone saying “No, you are going to have a baby.” Minutes later my Baby A, Knox Aaron, was born at 5:29pm into his daddy’s hands. He was 6# 8oz and 20” long. My mom and Asher got back as he was laid on my stomach. Asher asked where the other baby was. Minutes later I had a contraction, I knew that second baby was coming out NOW. A contraction later his legs and bum were born, the contraction ended. I heard my midwife ask for a timer to start. Asher said “mommy is pooping out a baby” quite loudly. I felt the panic rise in me. I touched my baby B’s legs and torso. I prayed for a contraction. I begged for a contraction. And I had a contraction. Four minutes between legs and head, Arie Nathan was born at 5:39 pm. He was a tiny 5# and 18” long.


17 minutes later a giant placenta was delivered. Arie had 1/3 and Knox had 2/3 of the placenta. I snuggled my babies. They nursed a tiny bit. And they mewed. Beautiful little noises. Two hours after the birth I started to feel weak. We moved upstairs and realized I was losing too much blood. After removing some clots, I felt weaker and weaker. Finally I told them I wanted them to call an ambulance. The paramedics arrived and I told them they shouldn’t sit me up. The did anyway and I passed out. They started an IV and we took a short (very bumpy) ride to the hospital. In the ER they started Pitocin, I got a shot of Methergine, more fluids, while they waited for the doctor to come do an exam and order blood. Finally around midnight (we called an ambulance around 9 pm) I was admitted and they started my first blood transfusion. My family brought the babies (who had been being snuggled at our house) to us and we spent our first night snuggling babies and being attached to tubes.


The next day around 2 pm I felt immensely better and we went home. I curled up in my own bed with my two beautiful babies and we cuddled for real.  Despite the unwelcome hiccup caused by the hemorrhage, our babies were born gently and safely. And now they are here. They are four months old and thriving on mama’s milk and lots and lots of love.


Photo’s by Melissa Myers of Myer’s Photography

Fast Labour and Birth Center Waterbirth {Awesome Tattoos}

Fast Labour and Birth Center Waterbirth {Awesome Tattoos}

My first daughter was something of a miracle. She was born 9 weeks early in your typical hospital setting. My water was leaking one morning so my husband and I went to the hospital. By that afternoon it completely broke on its own and my 3lb 8oz baby was born that night. From the first contraction to delivery, was about 5 hours. Fortunately Madeline was a champ and came home before her due date, which is a big achievement in the NICU.

When I got pregnant the second time, my husband and I knew we wanted things to be different, and that’s why we decided on taking a more natural approach to child birth and delivered at the local birth center. My pregnancy was somewhat stressful. All the emotions surrounding not carrying my first child to term came back to haunt me, and I was very nervous it would happen again.

At 29 weeks I started having contractions. Our midwife met us at the local hospital and I was certain that I wasn’t going to leave and my baby would be born even earlier than before. After several hours, 2 bags of IV, countless exams and a few shots, I was discharged. We were so relieved!

After that I stopped working and focused all of my energy on remaining positive. I made daily affirmations that I would keep this baby inside of me until February. Every week was a milestone and I kept repeating “February baby February baby February baby”.

On the morning of February 1st, at exactly 38 weeks gestation, I woke up to my water leaking and some mild contractions. They were very irregular and inconsistent. Some long and close together, then they would space out and eventually everything stalled. I went to get checked by the midwives at around 530pm and the NST showed contractions so mild they barely registered on the machine. My doula met me after the appointment and we went to a friends house, who happens to be an acupuncturist, to get some labor inducing acupuncture. On the drove over, I was mid sentence when my water broke in her car, around 6:45pm.

I decided to have my friend put a few needles in to help with pain management. About 5 minutes into the session I wasn’t able to talk through my contractions (which were coming at 2 minutes long and 30 seconds apart). We made a mad dash to the car and my doula drove me to the birth center. On the way there she somehow managed to call the birth center, my husband and photographer to let them know we were in route to the birth center and to meet us there asap, all while talking me through contractions, rubbing my back and safely driving. It was incredible!

I wasn’t getting any breaks with the contractions, they just kept coming one on top of the other. My long low moans quickly turned into grunts. I think we were both afraid I was going to have the baby in the car! At one point we drove past a hospital and I contemplated having her pull over. That was definitely the longest 15 minute car ride of my life.

We got to the birth center at 7:50pm. The midwife checked me and I was at 7cm. I threw my clothes off and jumped into the tub. Oh the birthing tub… I loved the tub. That was the first moment I was able to relax since labor started. My husband arrived a few minutes later, in the nick of time. As soon as he got in the tub my body was ready to push.

At 8:30pm, less than 2 hours after my water broke, my beautiful baby girl, Elena, was born. Everyday I focused on having a February baby, and I did it! I couldn’t be more proud of myself and my baby. We were both determined for the best possible outcome, and together we made it happen.

birth centre waterbirth

birth centre waterbirth and awesome tattoos

Photos by Manda’s Memories

Two Perspectives of a Birth Story {Mom And Dad}

Two Perspectives of a Birth Story {Mom And Dad}

Thank you Jared and Sunniva for sharing both sides of your birth story. More photos can be found on their blog: Two Perspectives of a Birth Story

Sunniva: Women have been giving birth for as long as the human race has existed. Pregnancy is not an illness. Childbirth is not to be feared, it is to be honored, respected, and celebrated.

Those words were the words that echoed inside my mind five years ago, when I chose to give birth to Gabi naturally, with no pain medication or intervention. I thought to myself, if women could do this 500 years ago, so can I today. To me, it was a little bit about proving myself – to myself. I wanted so bad to do it the way it has always been done. I wanted to be present the moment my child would come into this world, and I wanted to feel every bit of it.

After about four hours of active labor, Gabi was born naturally in a birth pool in a hospital in Norway, with only one midwife present.

When I got pregnant again, I knew that I wanted to give birth to that baby at home, in familiar surroundings. We moved to the US midway in the pregnancy, and we had to find someone that could deliver our baby. I have a deep fear of the hospital setting in America, and wanted to avoid that at all cost. No way I was giving birth surrounded by strangers that would tell me what to do!

Jared: The night that I found out I was going to be a father was one of the most emotional nights of my life.

From there it was a blur of what was next. As we were in the midst of deep plans for our future company “Solgave Animal Solutions” we had to take a massive pause and do some intense discernment on what was “best” for all of us.

Where we ended up and how, is no secret at this point, but the details of the home birth experience have not been spoken about much by either of us. Until now…

I think to be fair it should begin in Europe where we lay in bed many nights talking about having a midwife in the United States and starting to look at water birth experiences.

Listen, I have worked with kids a lot, have a passion for their personal development and growth from a psychological aspect, but I have not been around any “birth” experiences per se’. I think this ended up being really good for me, in that it created a tabula rasa of thoughts when it came to approaching the most important phase of my life.

Why would we leave a country which has some of the highest rankings in the world on prenatal and postnatal care, the amount of time off both mothers and fathers get, health statistics, etc? For a variety of reasons to be honest, and as time passes they seem less important because it’s hard to think of anything in the process being different today. Anything would have possibly changed the outcome in a tiny way.

Sunniva: We were blessed to come across midwife Maria Chowdury, who owns Birth Song Midwifery. She followed us through the remainder of the pregnancy, and both Jared and I feel like we won the lottery with finding her! Our prenatal visits would always end up extending beyond the one hour we were supposed to be there, likely because once I start talking I’m pretty hard to stop. But Maria humored me, and we’d all talk about everything from babies to business. I felt so taken care of, so understood, and so … respected.

It’s kind of nerve-wrecking you know, those last weeks of pregnancy. You know the baby can come at any day, and that you may not get any warning in advance. My mom arrived from Norway on my due date, and I think she was a little happy that no baby had come yet – this way she may be able to be in town at when the baby was born. We all went to a Solstice event at Passages Rising on Friday the 21st, and was able to be a part of the ceremony they held there. Maria was there, and I told her to tell the baby to come – NOW! She laughed and told me to show my belly to the moon (full moon that weekend). I didn’t see a reason as to why I shouldn’t do that, so Jared and I went outside that night, and flashed my big whale belly to the super moon.

Jared: As we lay on the bed so many nights that Fall looking at midwives in Northwest Arkansas we likely ran across all 3 that we now know of so well (although I don’t remember for sure). Jennifer Creel and Shawn House of Birth Root and Maria Chowdury of Birth Song are the three local midwives best known to us. I adore all three of them to be honest. They are so uniquely different by their temperament it’s fascinating. (Although Maria has a special place in my heart!) There is a reason they work on referring clients to each other, because they are not in competition. Plenty of home birth people in this community exist, and their “businesses” behind midwifery compliment each other, but are very different.

We had our first meeting with Maria around week 26 of the pregnancy. I know that both Sunniva and I felt that we were at the right place at the right time. The experience of a natural home birth is so deeply personal, spiritual, and emotional that you grow incredibly attached to your midwife. Sunniva said last night if Neo had a god mother it would have to be Maria (she wasn’t kidding).

The natural birth community is a community of like minded souls, of conscious minds, usually slanted towards what some may say “granola,” “hippy,” “earthy,” or “spiritual nuts.” Not to say that home births don’t have every socioeconomic background in it. Glancing around the room the first night of our 5 week birth class it was obvious that my initial feeling that I’d look around at a bunch of organic looking hippies wasn’t exactly accurate. Another stereotype of mine was just crushed. One of many along this amazing journey.

The people were all beautiful souls, but clearly there for different reasons. Some religious, some budget conscious, some because this primal, natural process is the only way they could imagine having a baby. Everyone in that class was a unique mixture of the new growing movement to have a home birth.

As was the case with my wife, it was the hospital setting and the chance of having to have a baby there that frightened her… deeply frightened her.

Like anything in life that I get into, I got obsessed with studying natural parenting with my wife, natural birth experiences, and kind of surrendered to this process that felt so right. There was never a moment along the journey from our initial chat in Europe until now where I had doubts about the process. Never.

With Maria we began what I would call a deeply spiritual, and transformational set of visits. The personal growth that followed it… perfectly aligned with the “physical growth of the baby” inside Sunniva. Our visits were scheduled to be one hour, and some may assume or speculate that they were more clinical in nature. Not to say that there isn’t an important clinical aspect to most every visit. You listen to the heart beat of the baby, check blood pressure, his position, mom’s urine levels of charted things, and much more. But, MOST of the visits are a deeply personal, spiritual experience. It involves her taking a glimpse into the souls of people wanting to consciously decide to have their child at home, naturally, and helping them along the path towards that powerful experience or steer them in another direction if it wasn’t the right fit.

Even by examining the details of her house a few miles outside of town, it’s clear you are not in a clinical setting. Her botanical business and herb knowledge is out of this world.

The rustic wood floors, the quiet and attentive assistant, that is always quick to grab clients fresh tea in a mug made from local artists as soon as you walk in, are all part of the charm. Her herbal tinctures, special supplements to naturally alleviate heavy cramps, reduce stress, allergies, you name it! I am one who believes in holistic remedies but was just entering the action period of life where “practice” came in over the years of research. Trust me in that, these things work remarkably well and the body has a unique ability to recognize natural versus unnatural when it comes to things we ingest.

If you believe it’s possible for energies to be different in certain rooms, homes, or even parts of the world, then I can tell you the energy of the setting is as zen as one can get. All of that is created with intent, her calm and quiet voice while doing our visits always sets the energy tone, if you will. Natural home births involve a lot of things, primarily women trusting their bodies, but also trusting their partners and trusting, if not surrendering to the energy around them, that acts as a natural medicine of sorts for the birth experience.

My fondness and admiration, my sincere respect for our midwife is so deep… and I don’t impress easily. I’m an observer of human nature and love watching how she handles situations. Acutely aware of “feeding energies” she won’t be one to predict pregnancy dates, or have any sense of “alarm” in her energy when something goes awry. We had a bit of a scare on week 34 and after Sunniva’s final risk assessment was told she was 2-3 centimeters dilated and the head was fully engaged. Sigh…

Our world flipped in an instant. What if? Why? Sunniva was preparing me now for the baby coming any day, but wait! We were not ready! We had 6 more weeks to go! One more week of good lung development to happen and by law Maria could not assist us until week 36 even if she believed it would likely be “safe.”

Immediate bed rest was called for two weeks. Our peace of mind, as well as the momentum of our business was shattered by an intense need to balance all things we needed for the home birth: birth pool, birth kit, extra sheets, towels, washcloths, receiving blankets, on and on (this list is deep) and the rest Sunniva needed to not push this baby out for a week or two.

We hit the magical day (week 36) and could relax a little. We had help from my mom rushing down one day a week to assist in supply gatherings, cleaned the house for us while I was doing landscaping work on the side to keep our business afloat during this pre birth period that started earlier than we thought.

Sunniva was walking now some, moving around and assimilating back into culture – but ready to get this baby out! She carried all the weight right in front and it was riding very low. I know my wife was uncomfortable. Getting up every two hours to pee and the constant cramping was wearing on her. But now we’re actually prepared, we through the force of the early scare had most everything we needed. Just a few of these include Popcicle holders to make natural juice pops for her, frozen meals, herb baths, flashlight, candles, extra batteries, along with all our cloth diaper supplies were finally accumulated. We were ready!

The final night of our birth class had what was called a Blessing Way. Both of us would likely admit that at 3 hours per class, by the end our attention was fading, BUT on that final night of class, something magical happened.

It was as if for 5 weeks a flower was about to bloom and finally did. The group was so candid, the energy was so powerful, it’s a night I won’t soon forget. We talked about our fears, and not allowing them to have power over us. We talked about our dreams, to remind us why we chose this path. We shared deeply personal feelings in a trusted room full of people all traveling the same road, nearing the end..or should I say the beginning. Because of Gabi’s bedtime approaching, and her need to be with us at most events, Sunniva was allowed to go up first and begin the ritual. At that time I grabbed Gabi out of the spare room and we all three set and experienced something so powerful, so healing, so perfect it gives me goosebumps just thinking of it.

We all went out and got 10 beads to present so that each mother to be could present it to the one being blessed (they alternated one at a time). With her feet in a huge, native bowl of some sort.. filled high with corn meal, Maria started the process of massaging her feet in the soft mixture that symbolized fertility, and looked up to Sunniva in the chair giving her personal blessings and wishes for this birth. I know my wife is loved, appreciated, and understood for her wisdom, her deep mind…but it’s really cool to see her hear powerful things about her that her humble self just often doesn’t believe to be true. She clearly had an impact on many of these women, as they did on her.

I also got a special part of the ceremony by Maria as the women were presenting Sunniva with their beads, and blessings for the birth. She had her apprentice pouring water slowly over my hands into a bowl and with her incredible energy was able to not just symbolically, but literally (it felt this way to me), was able to wash away much of the old residue in my life, the old pains and hurts.. so that I was left with a feeling of cleanliness, and as she said preparing those hands for the time when I would be able to help catch our child. That time was coming soon.

Sunniva: Gabi was staying with my mom at her hotel, so when we woke up on Saturday morning, we had the house to ourselves. We spent a couple of hours in bed, talking, having fun, cuddling and soaking up our moment of peace. I went to the bathroom (and I’ll spare you the details of it), and oh yes – no doubt that something was up. Came back into the bedroom and calmly announced that I couldn’t go to the Farmer’s Market, because we were going to have a baby today or tomorrow. “Are you serious?” Yep.

We had no idea of how long labor would take of course, but number two has a tendency of coming a lot faster than number one (and Gabi came in four hours!). We decided to take it easy though, but started slowly preparing the house for birth. I had never imagined having time to do this! My dream labor would start like this, and surely I wouldn’t have it that way? Labor never happens as planned! I don’t know exactly what I had been imagining, but anything but the way I hoped and dreamed for. Maria is so good at preparing you for the unexpected, that I had completely pushed aside all expectations.

Jared: With Sunniva’s mom in town and us now at full term we were approaching every day with a balance of attempting to get the most out of her visit and preparing for what could be “the day.” On her second day here, we went up to my parent’s farm in Southwest Missouri and swam in the pool, relaxed in the hammock, and had a nice meal. We went to bed Friday night planning to hit the Farmer’s Market and show off one of Fayetteville’s greatest treasures and then hit the Springfest festival downtown (delayed from spring due to weather).

After the dogs were taken out and I came back in, I saw something in Sunniva’s face I had not seen before. “We’re not going to the Farmer’s Market today,” she said.

“What do you mean? Are you okay?” I asked. I was a mix of holding back elation and a practical disappointment of my mother in law not getting to see something we had planned so much for.

“We’re having a baby tonight or tomorrow at the latest.” She calmly said. It was the final physical signs of discharge that said we’re approaching. After weeks of her being dilated 2-3 cm and the head fully engaged, we were now ready to start the real journey.

I can’t explain how or why things went so smoothly that day, but I think deep in my heart and soul it was a karmic payback to us, a kiss from the sky if you will, for the scares we went through at week 34, the bed rest, the worry of losing our business. We started at a calm and very focused pace of cleaning the house. At this point we knew we had time and with so many things in place ahead of time it was just time to act.

With her mom at a hotel near here with Gabi, she let them know of the change in plans for the day and I told my mom she better get down and grab her hotel room.

Sunniva: Contractions started an hour or so later, and I was excited to feel the first real “tug” of pain. Yes! Finally! Baby’s coming! They were short and about ten minutes apart, so we still had plenty of time ahead of us. I texted Maria, and got a smiley face back. She knew – and she also knew this could take hours, so she was probably pretty chill about it.

I kept hugging and kissing Jared, smiling and laughing. Our baby was coming! And it was all happening so slow and steady. We had time to think, plan, put out candles, get some music ready, put the birth pool up, notify grand parent of our needs and of the situation, talk to Gabi (she would stay with the grand parents until labor had progressed, and would join us later in the game), walk the dogs and clean the house. Wowza! It was perfect.

Time quickly became non-existent to me. It all flowed together. A sweet mama friend came by with some food for us, and she was so excited for us. Contractions slowly got longer, closer together, and more painful. At this time they were painful enough for me to have to focus on them and breathing through. It was awesome! I felt so in control, compared to Gabi’s fast birth. While the wavelike contractions with Gabi kind of threw me around and pulled me under, I was surfing the waves now!

Jared: We swept, mopped the floor, cleaned out the fridge, got all the dishes done, sent out a list to each of our mom’s on items needed to close out any gaps. More candles, food for the birth team and myself to snack on in the event labor goes long.

I got the hose in place and hot water heater temp turned up a bit to prepare for filling the pool when the time was right. Candles were put in place all over the house and we picked out the music we would play through most of the next 24 hours.

It was a Native American inspired meditation track.

My final checklist was ice cube trays dumped and filled ten times to make sure we had plenty, the crock pot out and turned on with wash rags in the hot water, the pads put under the sheets that would be the “throw away” set. I would review my list and check that receiving blankets were accounted for, things were indeed in order.

At 12:06PM I started documenting the contractions. They were probably began close to an hour before this and were around now about ten minutes apart. I have that sheet of paper I took notes on as the day progressed and I was manually clocking the contractions. Later in the night I would move to an Iphone App but I have to admit writing them out by hand in the beginning was better and gives us something to look back on to see how that Saturday progressed.

Progress it did, as the contractions would increase in frequency and length of time. There were periods they’d get farther apart but all through Saturday afternoon we had this slow, beautiful time together alone. We sat back on the bed reflecting on everything leading up to this point, and I don’t think I ever felt so deeply in love with her, so connected, or so prepared for something like that night.

Sunniva: At about 8:30 Gabi got dropped off. Some of our family members were worried that Gabi would get scared at seeing me in pain, and that being present during labor would be too much for her. Jared and I felt confident however, after months of talking to her, watching videos and slideshows, plus her attending Maria’s birthing class, that Gabi would do just fine. She was a little wary when she came in the door, somehow I felt like she expected to see me on the floor writhing in pain. When she saw me sitting smiling on the bed, seemingly normal (between contractions!), she immediately relaxed, and even sat with me through a contraction or two before Jared put her to bed.

A friend of ours had asked to be the photographer for the night, and arrived around the same time as Gabi. Once she got here, contractions started slowing down. I tried to not be bummed out by it. (Surely this wasn’t false labor?)

Jared: We had a friend of ours that is also an assistant at the Birth Song who volunteered to take photos that night and we had to say yes. Both of us had watched probably every popular home birth video on youtube that had powerful imagery of that special event and thought it would be a dream to have somebody capture ours. There is a bit of trust involved, and some logistics to work out because of our 725 sq foot apartment we share with a 5 yr old and 3 dogs. But I have to admit, as we thought based on the energy of those in the room and their ability to work so well together it was almost as if they were not there. That’s the only kind of people I would want in our place that night and was an easy decision for us. Family members are too close to not have “anxiety” that passes around and effects animals, children, and others.

Even though I think both my parents and Sunniva’s mother likely thought Gabi would not handle it like she did, we trusted our months of conversations, the videos we would watch, the classes she attended, and just a deep “knowing” of her little spirit. The plan was, if we pulled off a dream birth, to have Gabi brought by the grandma’s around bedtime that day so that I could put her to bed, and then we’d wake her when it was getting closer to having the baby.

Our birth team consisted of Maria the midwife, Rochelle her apprentice (who is also an amazing doula, Simply Supportive Doula Services), and Derrica, Maria’s assistant at the Birth Song and our photographer that night.

Gabi knows them all very well. She’s played with their kids, she trusts them deeply, so our backup was to have them assist if there was a situation she got scared and quietly get her to the grandmas who were now both staying in a hotel just a few miles down the road.

Derrica showed up around 8PM as contractions were getting more intense for sure, but I knew we were still looking a ways out before the midwife and apprentice should be called. I actually forgot she was there to capture the “emotions” even in the those early stages of labor so when her husband, a friend of mine, texted to see if she could come over it struck me “Yes, yes she should.”

8-9 hours of very slow and steady progressing of labor had me very comfortable with the pace and pattern. She was clearly going through pain as they increased but we had great talks in between, even taking the dogs out for a final time together around dusk.

As fate would have it, the contractions slowed back to 10 minutes from about 4-5 and we made a decision at 10:30PM to send Derrica home. I texted Maria and she did suggest we try and get even a little sleep (as she was doing when I texted) knowing that this could go into tomorrow.

Sunniva: She went home to get some sleep, and Maria suggested we try to get some sleep as well. I managed about an hour and a half of interrupted sleep before the contractions became too painful. It was awful sleeping with contractions, I kept waking up scared, because I was hurting so bad. Then reality hit and I dozed off again, only to wake up ten minutes later in the same “panic.” During a particularly bad one I woke Jared up, and we decided to text Maria an update.

This is when things started amping up a little. I still had no concept of time, but Maria’s papers show that she arrived at 3:40 AM, and that my contractions were 3 minutes apart. This was also the one and only time she checked my cervix during the entire birth – I was 6 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I didn’t care. If there was one thing I had learned throughout this entire process, it was that dilation has nothing to do with when the baby is coming. It’s merely says “it’s coming!” The one thing I did mentally take note of, was that I was not yet in transition (7cm – 10cm), and from what I could remember from Gabi’s birth, that was the worst part. I shook that out of consciousness. I was aware that if I focused too much on what was ahead of me, I would want to back out. So I took it one contraction at a time.

Jared had been supporting me through practically every contraction up till that moment, by standing behind me and applying pressure on my hips. At this point though, the pain was becoming so intense, that I asked him for an enormous amount of pressure each time, and it had to be in just the right spot. (The only thing I could say was “press!” “higher!” or “lower!”) Again and again I caught myself thinking what would I do without him now? Not only was he a wonderful support emotionally, but his physical support was unlike any I had ever hoped or dreamed for. I leaned on him in between contractions, and he helped me through each one. He held me when I was tired, and warmed me when I got cold.

Jared: It was 11PM when we lay down and shut off the lights after she left, and I remember feeling exhausted based on the intense focus I had for 12 hours and could only imagine where Sunniva was in the journey.

At 1AM she woke me and it was clear she was struggling with contraction pains. She had them probably every ten minutes through sleep but was able to fall back asleep herself as she intuitively knew how much that couple of hours sleep would mean. I was do deeply asleep it took a lot to get my attention back to the fact I had to get up quickly, and regain focus. Coffee back on, contact lenses in, and a text to Maria to let her know we’d gotten our two hours sleep, they were definitely increasing in pace again and getting heavy, so look for a call likely soon. I wouldn’t have to wait long, because she called me right then to check in.

After a brief visit she said she’d just slowly start to get ready and plan to head on over. If things escalated quickly call her, but otherwise just plan to see her in a bit. I then texted Derrika to see if she was ready to rise from sleep and begin the photos that would capture this night in a way we now won’t ever forget.

According to the notes our midwife gave us after the birth, Maria and Rochelle arrived at 3:40AM. The contractions were steady, and 3 minutes apart. Sunniva was using me for some time now as a pressure point, to help alleviate the pain from the sharp contractions that now lasted around a minute or more each. As the hours passed, I can remember her words “Lower. Push harder.” I pushed with everything I had in the specific points she needed pressure, as the arms started to wear through the night I would put my body between the bed and use my own weight to continue to lean in and alleviate as much of the pain as I could to help her get through.

Sunniva: We went outside an hour after Maria got there, and walked around a bit – it was the night of the super moon after all! A lot of people had said they thought my baby would be born on the super moon, June 23rd. So amusing to me was the fact that I had insisted that the baby would NOT come on the 23rd, three days after my due date the 20th, because it was statistically impossible that I would have two kids both born on 40+3. I mean, NOONE has two kids born on the same number of gestation days!? Turns out that what I needed to learn from this pregnancy can be summed up in a few words:

Surrender, humility, patience and trust.

We humans try so hard to control our surroundings, in whatever way we can. My theory is that our need to control everything stems from our need for time management, which again stems from how we live more in the future than we do in the now. This has even gotten to the point that some women don’t want to wait until their baby is ready to be born, but schedule C-sections so that they can plan around the birth.

It isn’t easy, not knowing when your baby will come. When I was 34 weeks pregnant, I was still working and being very active. My gut feeling started telling me it was time to relax, but I didn’t want to! In my first pregnancy I was practically on bed rest from week 20 due to heavy pelvic pain, and this time I wanted to move! Starting up a business and being pregnant turned out to be tougher than I thought though, and I was feeling like I needed rest. I started having pretty regular contractions, and the baby’s head had engaged in my pelvis. Maria advised me to follow my instincts and rest. As the contractions didn’t stop, I had to eventually go on semi bed rest. After all, I wanted to avoid having a premature baby – and equally important – I did NOT want to give birth in a hospital (home births are only legal after week 36)!

My body and the baby seemed to be happy with me resting, so contractions slowed down. From week 37 on I started with daily, regular contractions each night, but they would always stop after a few hours. I slept very little, and was really ready for the baby to just come, I was so tired and frustrated. But as Maria said “there’s only one guarantee with babies – they will come. Nobody’s been pregnant forever!” I had to surrender to the fact that the baby’s pending arrival was out of my control. It was humbling to me to be left with no sense of control of the situation. It had looked for so long like the baby would come early, but the due date (which is just a date people!) came and went, and still no baby. I had to learn patience. I had to accept that he/she would come when he/she was good and ready. I had to trust that my body and my baby would know when that time was.

So, the super moon. We walked around a bit, but after awhile I had to get back inside, I was too tired to stand up. I ended up sitting on our bed resting, leaning back on Jared in between the contractions (that just got worse and worse), only to stand up for each one. I somehow felt like I dealt with them better when I was standing. I felt really empowered at this stage of labor, because I knew I had reached the transition stage (I was shaking with cold, and had covered myself up with a sweater and a fleece blanket), and I was still alive. I mean, transition is no joke! I desperately wanted to get in the pool, but I knew I needed to throw up first (vomiting is a particularly nice “side-effect” in labor), so I patiently waited.

Jared: I worked now on making sure the temp was right in the birth pool we had filled earlier in the evenings and the team worked silently around me getting everything together. Like midwife ninjas, I vaguely remember seeing everything out and in place around the pool, meticulous detail and order was seen but done so gently and quietly you would not even know they were there. We had candles going all through the house, incense burning, and beautiful tribal music that maintained this mystical energy that was so peaceful, so calming.

According to the timeline at 4:40AM we walked out to see the super moon that night in our yard. The contractions were still at least 4 minutes apart, but definitely intense. Enough so, that I felt I had ran 6-10 miles based on the pressure for so many hours placed on her lower back. Along with the emotional and mental focus you need to keep. It was a neat moment, all of us outside staring at the powerful moon, knowing that the time was approaching.

She went into the cold shivers around 5:30AM and she was gently covered up or a warm cloth used on her to ease the pain. This was followed by the vomiting around 6:30AM. Through so many classes with Maria, paying so much attention to our candid conversations I knew this was “the moment all midwives wait for” because they know we’re about to start pushing a baby out.

Sunniva despises throwing up, and she worked through this uncomfortable human reaction with as much grace as one can and I would hold the bucket and stroke her hair as Maria quietly moved out to dump that load. Like a well oiled machine, we were preparing for the final stage.

Sunniva: Sure enough, I vomited – again and again and again. Interesting to me was how aware I was of each stage of the labor. Thanks to Maria’s intensive birth classes, I knew way more about birth this time around than I did with Gabi. In fact, I feel like knowing more detailed about everything that could happen, helped me deal better with each stage. Instead of being shocked/fearful at some of the things that would happen (like the vomiting), I knew at what stage of labor I was in (vomiting being transition phase and “you’re getting closer to the end!”).

Most of the time Maria, her apprentice Rochelle, and Derrica our photographer, left us alone, because they knew that’s how we wanted it. Sometimes though, Maria would see me through a particularly painful contraction, and she’d exclaim “good!!” One side of me really wanted to just punch her at that moment, but another side (the sensible one) knew she was right – this was good, because it meant I was getting closer to the end result – that little baby in my arms.

Gabi got up around 7:30 I think, and at this point I was starting to struggle to maintain my “Zen” that I had had throughout the labor so far. I had asked Maria several times if I could get in the pool, but she had said “not yet” every time. In the end I said to Jared, I’m going in, no matter what she says – and I asked (more like begged) one last time if I could please get in the pool. This time she saw that I was serious about it, and she agreed. At 8 am I was in. Thank God. That felt so good. It took the edge off the contractions that had been getting so painful, and I felt like I was able to regain my balance(/sanity) for a little while.

Gabi came up to me several times while I was leaning on the edge of the pool, and she’d grab my hands, look me straight in the eyes and just smile… So calmly, so on top of things, so grounding – I couldn’t help get teary at that moment. She was like a little nurse. I also remember thinking to myself “we were right! I knew she could handle this” and “I can’t wait for my family to see the photos of this, hah!” She’d stay for like ten minutes (ok, to be honest I have no idea how long, it may have been shorter or longer), before she would tell Jared to hold my hands instead, and she’d get back to watching her movie. So proud of our little (big!) girl!


As luck would have it, Gabi slept in until 7:30AM and calmly came out with her hair in a cute mess like she always does. Since the daylight had come up, we knew she’d be rising soon and I was preparing myself for that. One of the girls got her cereal ready but she insisted to come in and see her mama. Sunniva was in intense pain during this period of contractions so I knew she put her game face on as best she could as Gabi held her hand and stayed with her for a moment before we got her distracted into her morning routine. Cereal, and a movie on the Mac was put on up front so that we could prepare for the real pushing to begin.

My wife had been quietly whispering to me between contractions to “Please ask Maria if I can get in the pool.” It’s natural for a husband to want his wife to see relief, and the warm water provides a decent amount of comfort for the natural home birth after gutting out hours of contractions. I knew though, by reading Maria’s body language and energy when Sunniva had asked earlier in the night that we should not move into the water until we were really close. I stayed by my wife, I kept pushing on those pressure points on her lower back with everything I had. I told the other two in the house she’s really wanting in the pool. It was not their role to decide that. As Maria would tell us later, she likes the woman to be so ready she nearly climbs into that pool herself. Well, Sunniva was there. “Maria, I NEED to get into the pool” were the words, but the energy said “Maria I’m getting in that fucking pool now!” And so she did.

If there is a sports analogy that seems appropriate from the male perspective when she hit the birth pool we were late in the 4th quarter and the game is tied. My energy needed to be confident, calm, and focused. Luckily, I was.

It’s hard for me to imagine even two weeks after the birth just how at peace I was through the entire experience. I had heard stories so extreme that women had hit their husband, wailed in screams so loud I should warn the block so I was prepared for anything. Most people said that whatever side of you is repressed comes out during this period of time, so Sunniva was right in that she would handle this birth with inner determination, quiet ferocity, and a remarkable ability to focus her mind….to surrender to the pain.

8AM my wife entered the pool and just under an hour later the real pushing began. It was a relief for me to see her gain some comfort from the warm water and how it made the tough contractions somewhat smoother.


According to Maria’s notes, at 8:45 I started getting the pushing urge. I remember this very well, because I was so surprised when I felt it – I still felt like I had a lot to go on, and the contractions never got quite as bad as I remember them with Gabi. I shouldn’t have thought that, because the pushing contractions hurt like hell. I went from zen to – well, I guess I still seemed zen to the outside, but I struggled. I started doubting myself, and all kinds of thoughts flew through my head. I remember looking up at one point (now they were all in our bedroom), and saw Rochelle with her head in her hands, Derrica’s head was hanging down and she looked kind of asleep, and Maria was yawning. Jared sitting next to me was looking tired, and I was like “hey guys, I’m sorry it’s going so slow, I kind of wish it would go faster too!”

I did that a lot. I thought I was talking out loud, but I wasn’t. My brain was moving fast, but no words would come out. It was like the connection from my brain to my body wasn’t fully functional. At one point though, I managed to voice out “I don’t think I can do this anymore” and they all chimed in with “yes you can, you’re so close, pretty soon you’re going to hold that baby in your arms!” Maria was assisting me with hot cloths on my back and wiping my face with cool cloths in between. My God I love that woman. I only have flashes of memories of what happened next. I remember looking into Jared’s eyes, and it comforted me that he didn’t looked scared or fearful, not even tired – he just looked strong, confident and excited. I must have looked near death, but I love that he stayed strong for me – it was just what I needed.


Jared: Seeing Gabi drift in and out of the room to support her mom was something so powerful for us. Her calm and confident nature shined through with no energies around shifting it their direction (which happens easily with her) You have to believe me when I say there was something in Sunniva’s eyes as she left “here” during this end phases that was familiar to me. I’m not sure if that helped me to stay so calm or not, but I know that through a process so intense, it surely didn’t hurt.

To describe to a friend what it might have seemed like when she was near the end and in the water that morning, I would describe it as very much a trance. Very out of body. Intense pain and intense control. To see her eyes meet Gabi’s and know as close as I possibly can where she “was” mentally at that moment, had me in awe.


Sunniva did a tremendous amount of processing through this labor internally. I had little idea what her mind was “thinking” during the time, but I did see the outward reflection that was very much what I expected it to be. An incredibly strong, an incredibly brave, an incredibly gifted women who knows her body well enough to trust it, and not just trust it, but rely on it to work as nature intended. When I say that she would have refused a hospital birth UNLESS it was a severe reason needed I’m not kidding. We both talked half jokingly about how confident we were we could have this baby unassisted if this took place in another time. It just felt so right.

During the last phase of labor Sunniva hit one moment she would talk about later as being a defining one in her feeling like she could not go on, but you have to realize to everyone on the outside she seemed to be as confident and in control as one could ever imagine. “I’m not sure if I can go on.” She said quietly.


The words startled me. I think we hit a phase where she had been in the water for almost two hours and I wasn’t sure how long we’d be in there. “You can do it” I remember all of us chiming in with a bit of shock she even needed those words as support. Her birth, unlike so many I had watched on Youtube was so inner, it was so calm and controlled for the most part.

I had on swim trunks during the final hour or two, and was kneeling beside her to place a hand on hers and just be ready. We were now 24 hours from the moment the first words came “We’re having a baby tonight.”

Shortly after that moment of her expressing doubt that she could do it, the water broke. Sunniva was the one who said it, I never saw anything because she was in a pool and just trusted she knew what she was talking about. This was a sign we were really getting close.

My mind is forever locked on the next moment I’ll describe. After almost 24 hrs of intense focus, Maria told Sunniva to make sure she realized just how close this was to finally being the moment she could hold our son, “Reach up and I bet you can feel your baby’s head.”

Sunniva’s hand moves down in the water, her sweaty bangs and look of exhaustion are suddenly able to be replaced with a look of exilleration…because she felt the head of her baby boy for the first time. It was not crowned yet, but she FELT THE HEAD. I was sitting in a position to see her eye’s at this moment and they screamed loudly that “I can do this” and I could sense her energy shift from a feeling that it could go on forever, to one that resonated “we are almost there.”

Talk about turning up the volume in my head! For 24 hours I had not thought yet about the moment I would hold my son for the first time. I would get too emotional, too overwhelmed. I had to be in Jedi mode of organization and 100% supporting my wife. With the head being touched, every essence about my own energy shifted as well. Elation, bordering on frantic happiness that I cannot fully describe in words. I had waited my entire life for what was fast approaching.

 Sunniva: Just when I was about to announce that I would like to have this baby pushed back up, and that the sound of an eternal pregnancy wasn’t that bad after all, my water broke. Maybe this was nearing an end after all? Maria said “I bet you can feel the head now!” I reached down, and sure enough – there it was – my baby’s head… All of a sudden I felt like I could do this after all – I was so close… The next contraction was really painful, and I told Jared to get in the pool behind me and press on my lower back as he had previously. He had barely placed his hands on me when I felt the baby come.


From here on it’s a bit of a blur to me, just intense stinging and pain as the baby’s head was crowning, and Jared and Maria talking excitedly, Jared in tears as he could feel the head himself. I never did much active pushing, I pretty much let my uterus do all the work for me, but now at the end I felt I had to hold back. Slowly I felt the head be born, the baby rotated by itself to easier let the shoulders and the rest of the body be born. Jared and Maria both caught him/her, and I reached down and lifted the baby up out of the water while leaning back at the same time… My baby was here… Our baby! I looked at Jared, and saw tears streaming down his cheeks. Finally… The purplish little body, covered in vernix, and with the newborn swollen face. The most beautiful little boy on the planet was born

Jared: The next phase they refer to as the “Ring of Fire” as I had been taught, or overheard many times. A very painful period where the body is doing final stretching as the head crowns to prepare for his arrival.

Sunniva had asked me to get into the pool probably ten minutes after the water broke and ten minutes before birth. I kneeled beside her with hands on her back putting pressure again. Gabi was now in the room as we all prepared for this amazing new addition of our family.

When the head crowned and Maria was leaning over talking to Sunniva and letting her know she asked if I wanted to feel it. “Of course” I had waited months for the possible experience of catching my son, or feeling any part of this final part of the birth. Grabbing my hand and placing it over the surface of the head I could feel what felt like hair and the softest skin you can imagine.

Oh my f’ing god. What I had suppressed for 24 hours was dangerously close to erupting….emotions of love, emotions of fulfillment, emotions of healing. With my hand and Maria’s on his head I felt it slowly move out until Maria announced to Sunniva “The head is out, the head is out” and I remember vaguely repeating with such excitement “Yes SUNNIVA, THE HEAD IS OUT!” You can do it honey! You can do it!!

With my hand now cupping his head along the midwife, we were minutes if not seconds away.

Jared: “How long could he breathe” I remember irrationally thinking after months of education on this type of birth. At the same time that those questions run through your head, I was still at peace with Sunniva and our son’s well being. I just knew.

As you read about in all the birth classes we had, and stories I had read I knew the final action was the rotation so that his little body could come on out and see the world for the first time.

When I felt the rotation, it was AWESOME! Maria said “The baby’s rotating beautifully” and I echoed it right back with excitement “He’s rotating honey, he’s really rotating! We’re almost there!

Now the emotions are rising up, adrenaline is pumping through my veins intensely. In one motion he came out, Sunniva lifted her son from the water and gently rested back into the pool. Our first moment as a family.



Now I could let it go. Tears, happy tears. Sunniva’s smile and his beautiful little newborn body sitting on her chest was finally more than I could bare. The miracle had happened. “You did it baby, you do it.” I remember telling her through tears. “Hes so beautiful.” “He’s so beautiful.”


Sunniva: So much adrenaline was pumping through my body at that point, I felt great! I had birthed our son into the world, and I was so proud of myself. Proud of having just given birth in the most peaceful way imaginable, surrounded by friends and my family, supported by my husband for every bit of it. Gabi had been in the room for the last part, she saw him come out, and she also saw me deliver the placenta. She saw the cord that had tied little Neo to me for over nine months. One of our wishes, which is a standard home birth procedure, was a delayed (or optimal) cord clamping. The cord was cut almost an hour and a half after he was born. He got all the blood from the placenta first. Everything was just…perfect.


When we weighed him he weighed 9lbs1oz (about 4127g), and that was after he had pooped an impressive four times! He measured 21” (or 53.5cm), but I thought he was so tiny.

It’s strange you know, the first moments after birth, it’s so…primal in a way. I found myself in the need of cleaning the baby and myself up, and as soon as everyone left, it was all about resting. I immediately felt the need to pull back from the rest of the world, and just take care of my baby.

Jared: There aren’t many moments in your life that can compare to the birth of the child. Our story had some scary moments, some pauses along the way, but ended in the way we dreamed. We were allowed to cuddle with him around ten minutes and then needed to move to the bed prepared for the next stage.

With all the blood getting to him from the placenta, we did have another birth to give that I was prepared for. With Gabi in the room to see her brother born, we now all lay on the bed as a family. Sunniva never looked prettier. I have no idea how she can pull that off after what she endured, but you can see it in her eyes.

The birth of the placenta took place probably an hour or more after he was born. I got to feel the umbilical cord after all the blood had long been gone, examining it like a doctor along with Gabi. We were all so fascinated by this beautiful process.

Maria had to coach her a bit to push out this large placenta (and it was large to match our large baby boy) and after several contractions she did indeed.

It was then I got to clamp and cut the cord of my new baby boy. Even the placenta after it was delivered was examined by myself and Gabi with Maria educating us on the healthy look of it. We had all seen one in birth classes and knew a lot about this important part of our son’s development and health while protected and fed those nine months.


By now the grandma’s had been texted and were on their way over. We wanted the placenta to be delivered before anyone was contacted, but I can tell you the cell phone was blowing up with very curious and anxious family. We slowly shifted Sunniva and our son into the herb bath prepared for them, and I lay in the bathroom with them as we soaked up the last period of alone time before others arrived.

You have to understand that choosing and having a natural birth at home, is part of a tribal wiring in some ways. There is just something that needs to be very primal in my opinion to desire and trust the body.

This primal nature and aspects to natural birth don’t end that day. It involves a sacred period with the baby, an intense focus on breast feeding, time alone with the nuclear family, and a need for bonding that some in my middle America culture may find odd or even think it’s extreme. But I think it’s really about protecting the energy of the new baby, building the trust, love, and connection within the home tribe, and taking this time for ourselves to root our new tradition.

Photos by Derrica Conklin.

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