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A Military Birth Story {Giving Birth During My Husbands Deployment}

A Military Birth Story {Giving Birth During My Husbands Deployment}

operation special delivery skype birth doula

Growing up, I’ve always dreamed of becoming a mommy and a wife, but never a military wife who would have to deal with deployments and whatnot. But when I met my husband, I knew that it would just be a part of our life, because he was worth it and he was the man for me.

However when he deployed when I was 18 weeks pregnant, no one told me how hard it would be to be pregnant without him and when he told me he couldn’t come home for the birth and neither could my mom, I was scared because I would be giving birth to our first-born all by myself.

By luck I found a doula who offered her services through a program called Operation Special Delivery, and she was my angel! She stayed with me through 20 hours of labor and guided me the whole time. Luckily, my husband was able to Skype the birth with me, too! I gave birth 5 months ago to a happy, healthy, and thriving boy, 8.5 lbs and 20.5 inches.

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He hasn’t met his daddy yet, but he will soon! I read him his recordable storybooks every day and they Skype from time to time, so I know he knows his daddy is there loving him even from afar. This experience has just made me stronger; I wish all the military mommas going through the same thing luck and know that you can do it! 🙂

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Stephanie Kramer and 1lt Timothy Kramer and Johnny, our son

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{Props to my doula, Virginia Rivenbark!}

The Birth of Lucas {a healing hospital VBAC}

The Birth of Lucas {a healing hospital VBAC}

Lucas was born on 11/25/12

In order for you to really understand what Lucas’ birth meant to me as a person, a woman, and as a mother, I feel like I need to cover the basics as to why this was a VBAC in the first place. My first son, Elijah, was born 9/25/10 (talk about coordinating birth dates!). On 9/23, I was almost 38 weeks pregnant and went in for my doctor’s appointment. My BP was high, I was swollen, and I had already done the 24-hour protein watch and knew my levels were high. This all together meant, of course, that I was pre-eclamptic. The hospital midwife felt that it was needed for me to be induced. I remember going home and trying SO hard to get a hold of my husband. He is in the military and was training “out in the field” which means no cell phones. I was a nervous, emotional, wreck thinking about becoming a mom, knowing that it was happening. My husband was bussed home that night.The next morning, I went back to make sure my BP was still high, which I knew it was. I was brought up to L&D and hooked up to an IV and the magnesium sulphate (to keep me from seizing, but it also stalls labor), a Foley bulb inserted, and that horrid pill, cytotec, inserted. I was held captive on that bed with a catheter. I folded and got the epidural when the nurse told me that it would “help me stay calm and would bring down my BP”. Long story short, the cascade of interventions led to me laboring in bed for 24 hours before I was told I could push.

No woman should ever feel like this in labor.


After 3 hours, I was told that I just wasn’t made to birth and he couldn’t fit out of my pelvis. His heart rate was dipping, I was told. So I went in for the C-section. I remember being on the table and telling them I could feel a few pinches. That is the last thing I remember. My husband was brought in and asked anaesthesiologist if I was awake, “Of course she is! Go let her know you are here and comfort her.” He walked over and sat down, and I did not budge. I was knocked out. My husband truly believed I was dead for a while. When he asked about it, the anaesthesiologist’s response to knocking me was “oops, wasn’t supposed to do that.” Oops?! So glad they valued my life. Any who, my sweet baby boy was born, and instantly taken to the bed to be cleaned and poked. I was shaken awake by the anaesthesiologist with my baby wrapped up in a blanket in my face. I was able to kiss him and work out a smile, then off he went. In the recovery room (with no baby), I was told his magnesium levels were 7x the normal amount (from the absurd about of magnesium sulphate they pumped in me). He needed to be transferred but that it would be a few hours so I would see him. That never happened. 3 hours later, he was brought in already in the transfer machine. I was able to touch his hand and that was it. He was gone. 4 days later, they finally released me and we rushed to the hospital so I could hold my baby for the first time in the NICU. I was on cloud nine holding him for the first time. He went home with us 2 days later.



I struggled a lot to come to terms with his birth and everything that followed. I feel like that hospital did us so wrong in so many ways. I know in my heart that it was probably best to be induced but the way everything turned out just doesn’t feel like it should have happened. They refused to transfer me and I so ignorantly agreed. We struggled at breastfeeding because he was bottle fed for so long, and I had horrible PPD because of everything. I knew that when I had another, I would be educated, strong willed, and I would get the type of birth I so craved.

Fast forward 18 months…

When we found out I was expecting again, I instantly started educating myself about every little thing. I ate healthy, exercised, increased my water intake and my protein intake. I also struggled with where I would birth. The hospital went through a lot of changes and I spoke with the current head of L&D who made me feel pretty secure. They also had a special care nursery now which made me feel better. I decided that I would birth there again. Part of me thought it was the worst decision ever and I was crazy, but part of me wanted nothing more than to prove to every OB and midwife there that I could birth my babies, and my body was made for this. I decided to learn Hypnobabies, I hired a Hypnobabies Doula, and practiced and listened to my CD’s every chance I could.

When I was about 28 weeks pregnant, my husband received orders to go to recruiting school. He was going to be there till 2 days after my due date (11/28). Recruiting school also meant that about 2 weeks after he was done with school, we would be moving to a place that we wouldn’t know until he was almost done with school. I knew in my heart that he wouldn’t be there for the birth but also knew that Lucas’ would be here when he was ready! My neighbour went through my birthing classes with me and learned Hypnobabies in order to be my support. My mother drove 12+ hours when I was 38 weeks to stay with me until the baby was here. And I of course, had this amazing doula (who also owns Flash of Muse Photography) that taught the classes as well, so we had a good connection. On 11/24 I knew it was coming, I had been losing my mucus plug for a few days and that day just felt different. I gave in and was checked by my midwife that morning because the thought of Lucas being born after my due date was terrifying knowing we were moving so soon after. I was 4-5cm dilated already! That night, I was at home with my mom and my 2 year old who was fighting the end of a little cold. They went to bed as I sat on my birthing ball listening to my Hypnobabies track and talking to Lucas telling him I was ready to meet him and be his mommy. My 2 year old happen to wake up at around midnight crying. We got him settled back to bed and my mom dozed back off but I couldn’t. The contractions started once my 2 year old was settled. I didn’t tell anyone and waited. I got in the bathtub, on my birthing ball, and try to get some rest.


Lying in bed HURT in any position I tried. I knew this was it, so I text my midwife. It seemed so surreal and I really didn’t know if this was it.


The doula made it over around 6am and I sat in my room, in the dark, on my birthing ball. I was so calm and relaxed and didn’t think that these “waves” could be the real thing because I was doing ok! By 8am, they were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting a minute long so we decided it was time to head to the hospital. My mom, my doula, and I headed that way.

They put me in triage and I was only 5-6 cm. I was then introduced to the OB on call that day that seriously lived her life in fear. My midwife was also working that day so she was there (luckily! That rarely happens at military hospitals). But since this was a VBAC, the OB had to oversee my birth. She was horrid. She started instantly with the scare tactics and told me that I could not do half of what my birth plan stated because “You and the baby could just die.” I stated my facts from all my research about intermediate monitoring and she was shocked I knew what I was talking about. I agreed to the waiver and she left. They checked my heart rate and my BP while she was in the room and they were both high when she was around. She literally made my blood boil! My midwife and the nurse were both rolling their eyes when she tried to scare me. It was honestly entertaining to me because I knew I was strong and I knew it was going to be my way. They kept me in triage for 2 hours to see how we were doing and progressing. My doula was by my side the entire time in triage. 2 hours later, I let them check me and I was 8cm! Everyone was shocked. I was so calm and collected still.

So they transferred me to a room where I instantly stripped and got into the tub. My mother and my birth photographer made it to the room and shortly came my neighbour with my 2 year old. That is how I wanted it; my birth team and my son. If I couldn’t have my husband, I wanted my son that much more. I labored in the tub and was laughing, Skyped with my husband and hugging my son. Upon getting out when I got to hot, I labored on the birthing ball. On the birthing ball and out of the tub, I had HORRIBLE back labor. I had someone using counter pressure on my lower back at all times. This is where I am most thankful for my team. I had a person to focus on my son, and always had someone who could help me. I’m pretty sure that everyone needed to rest their hands after Lucas was born. No amount of pressure felt good enough. I feel like I had such horrible back labor because he hadn’t turned all the way. From his positioning, I think he was actually sideways coming down. Not head up, nor head down.



It was getting late and by this time I think it was close to 7pm. That horrid OB came in again and started her scare tactics. I was fully dilated already but exhausted. I had no IV so I was drinking and eating as I pleased. I tried to rest in bed but it was uncomfortable no matter what.




My son and I were snuggling in bed when my water broke. It scared him something fierce being snatched up to avoid him getting soaked. I had that over dramatic burst of fluid! Once my water broke, I started to feel a little pushy but nothing major. I started to focus a lot more and tried bearing down with each contraction (they were come one on top of another at this point). I knew how exhausted I was but that OB thought that since I had been fully dilated for a few hours that she should try to scare me again. She stated that the baby could be trapped and that I might not be able to push him out. She then proceeded with threats of death, stating that “you could haemorrhage and both you and the baby could die.” I swear threatening death was her favorite thing ever. We told her we would try a different position to push.


That is when the awesome midwife basically pushed the OB out of the way and sat down to catch Lucas. The OB felt like she needed to be heard but I think she knew that she had no control over me nor the situation and it killed her. At this time, we tried to get my husband on Skype so he could watch his son being born but it wasn’t working…go figure…guys can watch from overseas but Skype stopped working for us! So we did the next best thing and put him on speaker phone by my head.

I was so exhausted and unfocused at this point that I needed everyone’s help. They held me up in a reclined squatting position and I pushed. I don’t think I hit my transition period of losing control until I was pushing. I was whiny and exhausted. I pushed for a while, and felt everything. It was amazing. It wasn’t this pleasure-filled birth that women talk about but it was simply amazing feeling my son coming earth side. I didn’t get to feel anything with my 2 year old, so I embraced every second of Lucas’ birth. Finally, at 8:07pm, my sweet little boy was born!




He was able to put him on my chest with MY hands, and there he stayed. The best sound ever was hearing him cry. I never heard my oldest first cries because I was knocked out. Being able to take part and hear that was beyond amazing. Every test was done on my chest. After the cord stopped pulsing, my mom cut his cord. I know that was a special moment for her. She had 3 natural births but never experienced anything like this. Lucas stayed with me until he decided to breastfeed and did it ever so perfectly.



He was weighed at 7lbs 8oz., exactly one pound heavier than my oldest! So not only did I get my VBAC, I birthed a baby that was a pound heavier than the baby they said was too big for me to birth. I did it. My body did it. My son was in the room, and cried seeing his brother born. It was exactly what I wanted. I think the most significant thing about his birth is I felt empowered. I couldn’t have done it without my birth team either. Oh and I guess I should add that my husband made it home 5 days later. We all met him at the airport where he got to hold his sweet baby.

Pictures by Jeni Johnson Photography and Flash of Muse Photography

Barely Made It {Military Hospital}

Barely Made It {Military Hospital}

I was never one of those people that originally thought I wanted to have an all-natural birth. In fact I remember saying why would you go through all that pain when you can get an epidural? Would you want your leg broken without pain medication?! How dumb was I? LOL Anyways I went through with that mentality with the pregnancy and birth of my first son, was kind of talked into an induction, but willingly accepted an epidural before I even had my first “real” contraction. I had been at 5 cm dilated and about 80% effaced for about a month, and was 4 days “overdue”.

Quick birth, only about 3 1/2 hours start to finish with an hour of coached pushing because I certainly couldn’t feel what I was doing, couldn’t even hold my legs up AT ALL no matter how hard I tried in my head they just flopped around and felt like they weighed about 200 lbs! He was healthy 8lbs 12oz, I was healthy, but I thought to myself, that is NOT how I would want the next one born. It’s funny how you think of all these things that you would like to do or don’t want to do before you become a parent and then everything is sooo different once they are here. I never ONCE thought about being a more natural parent, I thought cloth diapering was disgusting and epidurals and inductions go hand and hand and that is how it was done. That all went out the window, after I lived through the experience. Now I talk anyone I can into cloth diapering and natural birth!

Fast forward a little over a year, I find out I’m pregnant again. A few weeks later my husband deployed for Afghanistan. So for the next few months just me, my son, and my ever growing belly! The whole time I kept telling my husband how badly I wanted to have a natural birth, so I began reading all I could, joined some blogs, this one being one, and asked some friends how their natural births were (Jill Mills). Everyone who had done it told me to just trust myself, that’s what I was meant to do. One friend told me it would be like my body would take over and I would be co-pilot (Ashley Blocker) Oh how true that was!

So my husband was scheduled to return to the states about 3 weeks after my due date, GREAT! But thankfully he worked super hard to be able to come home on an advanced party, and I will be forever grateful to him and his commanding officer who helped him get home in time. He came home when I was 38 weeks 2 days, on a Friday. Exactly 2 weeks later I went in labor.

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I was getting down to my last ob appointments at which point induction was brought up. I simply told them no thank you I’ll be waiting this one out and he can come when he’s ready. They set up a non-stress test for the week after my due date and sent me home.

Friday morning around 2:30 am I woke up with mild cramps, I didn’t think much of it since I had been having them occasionally and Braxton-Hicks contractions. They were very pesky and wouldn’t stop so I got up and went in the living room to sit on my exercise ball. Around 3:30 they were pretty regular but not painful, I walked in the bedroom and told my husband I think I might be in labor LOL because I was having contractions that were regular and that he needed to get up and start timing. So after asking him to get up 3 or 4 more times he finally does, and starts timing them. They were about 3-4 mins apart and 45 seconds long. I called the hospital and told them what was going on, they assured me if they didn’t hurt then to wait at least another hour.

Thankfully I had enough sense to know to go ahead and call my friend Cara. We had already planned that she would watch our son while we went to the hospital and in the middle of the night I knew she might need a little time to get to the house. About 45 mins later she showed up. At this point I’m swaying and doing squats during contractions, I don’t know why, but that is what I did to cope!

We left our house around 5 am and headed to the hospital which is a 20 minute drive. My husband drives a lifted truck, it’s difficult for a full term pregnant lady in labor to get into, and also not the smoothest drive in the world, but it was parked behind my vehicle and easiest to access at the time. When he got on the freeway it seemed like he was speeding so I fussed at him, later I told him it wasn’t because I was worried about getting the ticket; I was worried about the amount of time it would take to get pulled over!

We finally make it to the base and thank the Lord they were not checking I.D.’s and we were waved on through. My husband decided to point out to me a deer on the side of the road mid-contraction!! “I don’t care about the deer!!!!” I say as calmly as possible! We pull into the parking place and I kind of jumped out of the truck and stood there and told him wait till one more (contraction) goes then we can walk in. So it comes and goes and we start the hike up to labor and delivery. I walk into the ER not really knowing where I was and asked the ladies at the desk mid-contraction again if this was L & D they said no, just walk down this hall take a right then a left then go all the way to the end of that hall take the elevators. Thanks for the help lol, I’m so glad we didn’t get lost.

So we make it to L & D and the man at that desk tells me I need to fill out some paperwork (what is the point in pre-admission??!!) So I told my husband to start that because I thought I needed to pee. I walk down the hall and try to pee. I came back and started to sign some papers totally without reading anything. I signed one paper and knelt down to my knees and said “I need to push NOW!!” All the sudden it turned in to a whirlwind. A nurse came from nowhere and said “did you just say you needed to push?? DON’T DO THAT!” She helped me into a triage room and stripped my yoga pants off. Before I knew it there were about 5 people in there and she checked “yes, she is fully dilated and baby is on its way! DON’T PUSH” The most ridiculous thing you can say to a person that is in that situation. YOU JUST CAN’T HELP IT! LOL

We went flying down the hall on a stretcher and I don’t know why I felt the need to crack a joke and ask if there was time for an epidural?! She said, “Oh honey that’s funny!” Once we got into the room people came from everywhere, utensils were flying, people were putting on gloves. I saw my husband come in and sit down quietly in the corner, I yelled, “You just gonna sit over there? Get up here!” So he quickly called my parents and told them we were about to have a baby. They live 5 hours away and were ‘hoping’ to make it! He came by my side and this time no one told me how to do anything I knew exactly when to push, for how long.

A nurse unsuccessfully tried to get an IV in my arm which blew my vein. The midwife and doctor told her to forget it, he was almost here. I pushed a few times and here he was at 5:30 am ( yes we left our house at 5am) I told the doc I didn’t want to cut the cord till it was done pulsating, which made things a little difficult because he had a very short umbilical cord, he was barely on my lower stomach. But he stayed right there for about 10-15 minutes. Then my husband cut the cord and I could finally pull him up where I could see his face! Such a relief! He was relatively small compared to his older brother. He weighed 7lbs 4 oz. and was only 19 in long, but had a head full of dark hair (down his back) just like his brother. He wanted to nurse immediately so we did. My husband called my parents back to let them know he was here; they had barely made it out of the driveway! It was soo intense and crazy but absolutely AMAZING.

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Now I know why when women have a natural birth they call it a “high” and want to do it again and again. I told my husband I definitely want to have the next at home and wish I would have done these 2 at home. He definitely agreed. If there was ever a time to believe God works things out at the right times, this was it. From my husband getting home from Afghanistan just in time, to my sitter getting to the house just in time, to us making it to the hospital just in time. It all happened right on time.



{Professional photography compliments of Heartlove Photography}

A Story of Loss, Determination, and Hope

A Story of Loss, Determination, and Hope

I wanted to share my birth story with you mostly because I’m completely inspired by everything you do and now I feel more prepared than ever to have have my second baby once I get pregnant. {Rebecca Cox}

I got pregnant at 20 with my first baby, I found out while my husband was on a mini deployment (he’s in the US Navy), so instead of sending him an email I decided to wait unit he got home so I could tell him with a scavenger hunt. We were both so thrilled. Almost a month later, 3 days after his birthday, I started having some light spotting. He thought nothing of it, but later that evening I finally got up the courage to take a trip to the emergency room. After several hours of tests and waiting they told me I had a “threatened miscarriage”.

Two days later, I lost the baby. I had never been so devastated. The doctors told me I didn’t have to wait until my hormone levels went down. I wasn’t ready to “try” again but we did the whole “if it happens it happens if it doesn’t it doesn’t”. The doctors also told me if I hadn’t started my period within 28-30 days to take a pregnancy test,  and if it was positive then it was probably residual and that I would have to have D&C done. The thought of a D&C broke my heart even more.

30 days later I still hadn’t started my period. My heart sank the moment that little test said positive. Why would this happen to me?  I wanted to try to heal,  and that didn’t help anything.

After several days of blood work I found out that I was in fact pregnant again. I got pregnant within a few days of having a miscarriage. Shocked is the only word I can use to describe it. After I got out of my first trimester I became more excited and actually got attached to the unborn baby inside my womb.  I then started to make a birth plan, I wanted simple things such as to be able to walk after my water broke, no catheter, no epidural, things that I thought were pretty reasonable considering I was going to be laboring, not them.

Awhile after, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and they told me the baby had low fluid levels so they might have to take her at 30 weeks, I was around 23 weeks pregnant at this time. After fighting with my doctors I finally got them to not take her, no medication for any issue (I don’t believe in medication).

My husband deployed when I was 3 weeks away from my due date going on a 7 month deployment. 2 days after he left I found out the baby was breech. They didn’t give me an option to do anything besides a c-section. Devastated. I was going to have major abdominal  surgery without my husband and there was nothing I could do about it. Being the type of person I am, I reluctantly agreed as long as they would wait until my water broke. They didn’t at first, but luckily the morning I was supposed to go in, my doctor canceled due to too many emergency surgeries. My water broke 2 days later and I had a healthy beautiful baby girl weighing in at 5lbs 13oz.

My recovery was not bad at all. It was physically easier than what I thought it was going to be. Looking back now, I should have stood up for myself, and “demanded” what I wanted for myself and my unborn daughter. 7 months later my husband returned home and we have never been happier. I am strong because I now carry the knowledge to stand up for myself.

Thank you Birth Without Fear, for giving me the knowledge and strength to have my baby my way when the time comes.

A Women Centered Birth and a Homecoming in One Day

A Women Centered Birth and a Homecoming in One Day

It was the early morning of July 26th. Brian was due home from a 7 month deployment the following afternoon at 4pm. I’d been talking to the baby for weeks, asking him to stay put until Brian made it home. I was now 5 days overdue and amazed I had made it so far and was now so close to Brian being able to be here for the birth. Originally he was scheduled home the beginning of July, but they got extended 3 weeks which coincided directly with my due date. I’d stressed over what to do when we got the news of the extension… whether to have my family come out, or hire a doula, etc.

I ended up deciding I was stressing about it too much. I didn’t want one more person in the room in case Brian did make it home, and I just kept going forward with the thinking that he would. We had been planning a home birth since the very beginning, partially because I didn’t want to go to our local hospital and partially to ease my stress over what would happen if Brian didn’t make it home. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about getting Mer anywhere or drive myself to the hospital. And with as fast as my labor with Meredith went I knew this time could be faster, leaving me less time to get somewhere to give birth. One of my leading thoughts when we found out our timing would be pushing it was that I wasn’t all that sad Brian would miss the birth itself, but since it would be such a different experience having a home birth, and I was sad he might miss that experience.

In my last few weeks of pregnancy I started stressing about having a support person again and got a referral from a friend for a doula, Monessa. She not only had a deployed spouse rate which was very affordable, but she agreed to be flexible with me… letting me hire her if Brian didn’t make it home and agreeing not to charge me for anything if he did make it in time.

The house, decorated for Brian’s homecoming & the cars of my entourage outside.

So it was the early morning of July 26th… I was in bed unable to sleep, feeling like a 5 year old on Christmas Eve. I was so excited homecoming was the following afternoon and anxious about the last few hours between then and now. I knew there was still plenty of time for a baby to be born, even though we were SO close to Brian making it back. I was laying in bed reading “Pushed” when at 1:15am I felt a pop. I’d heard women describe this feeling and I immediately had two thoughts, “you’ve gotta be kidding me” was one, and the other was “please let me be one of those women whose water breaks and doesn’t start laboring right away.”

I didn’t get an immediate gush of fluid, so I wasn’t totally sure that’s what the pop was. About 15 minutes later I got a small gush and when I went to the bathroom what came out was definitely not pee. It was cloudy and specked with mucus. I knew for sure then that my water had broken.

I called Brian who was in Fallon, NV for the night and told him. His response was “oh no” since we both knew how close we’d gotten to having him here. I still hadn’t started contracting so was holding onto the sliver of hope that it would be a long labor (who ever hopes for that?? Haha). I broke down crying on the phone, so frustrated that we were just hours away from being together again. He was so great, reminding me that it was going to be fantastic, we were going to have a baby and that I would do a great job. After hanging up with him I got the bed stripped and ready, and made sure all my supplies were in order.

Almost exactly an hour later I got my first contraction, around 2:15am. The whole time I was thinking that it was the middle of the night and I really didn’t want to disturb anyone so I waited to call anyone for a while (even though my midwife, Cynthia, would laugh at me later saying she’s pretty sure my water breaking was one of the things she’d told me warranted a phone call).

My contractions started with regularity, and were immediately 1 minute long, 5 minutes apart. So textbook, where my contractions with Meredith were definitely not (I found out later they were typical for a posterior baby). I tracked my contractions for about 45 minutes before I decided to call Cynthia. At 3am I called her and told her what was going on. She said to track them a little longer and give her a call back either when they got more intense or when I wanted her here. I waited a little longer. The contractions were still fairly light and I wasn’t sweating through them yet so I decided to wait to call Monessa (doula) and Nikki (who was on “Meredith Duty”).

Around 4:30 the contractions picked up a little bit and that’s when I decided to call both Monessa and Nikki. After I called them I came downstairs to unlock the doors and put a lunch together for Meredith since I wasn’t sure if she’d go to preschool that day or not. Being upright made the contractions a little worse and closer together and stopped me in my tracks several times.

Got back upstairs and Monessa showed up a few minutes later. She started rubbing my back which felt really good and relaxing. I said I wasn’t sure if I should call Cynthia yet since my contractions were still bearable, but I also knew she was at least a 30 minute drive away. Monessa suggested I wait for a few more contractions before deciding for sure, so I waited. Maybe 20-30 minutes later they started picking up and I was feeling like I was sweating through them. This was the point with Meredith that we’d decided to go to the hospital, so I was thinking I was probably hitting around 3-4cm dilated. I decided to call Cynthia. This must have been around 5:30.

We decided to change my position, and I sat on the ball at the end of the bed, leaning on the bed. This definitely picked the contractions up, and after a little while of this Monessa suggested the tub, which I’d just been thinking about. She ran the bath for me and I got in. It felt so good and relaxing. Cynthia showed up just a few minutes later and got set up while I relaxed in the tub. I spent probably an hour in the tub, during which time my contractions picked up from being able to breathe through to having to moan through.

I asked Monessa to ask Nikki to call Kat, my photographer. I felt like things were progressing now and I wanted to be sure she was there. Thankfully she lives just down the street from me, so made it over very quickly. This was around 6:30 I think, and again I just kept thinking I didn’t want to disturb anyone too early. She made it over just before I got out of the tub.

Laboring in the tub

Around 7 I got out of the tub and onto the bed. I was laying on my side and the contractions were getting intense. I started feeling a little pushy and was having a hard time staying relaxed through my contractions. Cynthia checked me at 7:15 when I mentioned needing to push and told me I was only 5cm. This was SO discouraging considering the intensity of the contractions I was feeling. I kept hoping it meant that I was just progressing very quickly and not that I had hours of this type of contractions ahead of me. I was feeling a LOT of back pressure at this point too and was asking Monessa to apply counter pressure on my lower back.

During one of my next contractions Cynthia checked me again and I was at 7cm. She said to try to not push, but if my body was pushing along with the contractions to keep doing what I was doing since it was obviously working, and quickly. Every time I’d feel pushy, amniotic fluid would come out and I remember Cynthia telling me that was a good sign that I was dilating and the fluid was able to get through.

She asked if I wanted to change position, and so they got me up on my hands and knees. This picked the intensity up even more. They kept having to shove more pillows and stools under my arms to make sure my position wasn’t fighting gravity. I started feeling very out of control. I got whole body shakes and was screaming and crying through my contractions. With Meredith’s birth I never did anything other than very loud moaning, so this was a very different experience for me.

No one ever told me when I made it to 10cm and could start pushing, it just started happening. I kept thinking that someone should call Brian, but couldn’t articulate it.

And then he called.

I was between contractions and Monessa put the phone to my ear. He asked how I was doing and I responded “I’m okay” and I remember hearing everyone laugh in the background. Monessa continued to hold the phone so that Brian could “be there”. He says he had no idea what was going on and then all of a sudden there was the baby’s cry.

I was feeling that really low pressure of pushing, but was much more aware of the feeling of needing to poop than I ever was with Meredith. I think that inhibited my pushing a little bit, especially with my butt up in the air! I got the “ring of fire” feeling, which I also never had with Meredith and started feeling like I really might not be able to push him out. Screaming through it all did help focus my energy and I felt his head come out. With Meredith delivering her body afterward was easy, but that wasn’t so this time either. Another contraction and another BIG painful push and he was out. I felt an overwhelming wave of relief that he was out and it was done.

At 8:03am he was born, only 45 minutes after I was told I was only 5cm dilated. It was a very quick and very intense labor.

Meeting Sean for the 1st time. Cynthia’s holding the phone up for Brian to hear.

Brian was still on the phone and the baby cried. It felt like ages until they got me flipped over onto my back and put the baby on my chest, but I’m sure it was only a few moments. I asked for my glasses and they fogged up immediately. They got me on my back and put him up to me and I got to see my son for the first time. My first thought was how he didn’t have nearly as much hair as I’d expected him to have. Based on how much heartburn I had through my pregnancy I was sure he would come out hairier than Meredith was, but he had just a little hair on his head. He was also very fair and I noticed a little later his eyes were light and looked like they may be blue.

I talked to Brian for a bit and Monessa snapped a few quick pictures on her cell phone to send to him. The timing of his phone call couldn’t have been better. He had to go get his jet ready to fly home that afternoon.

I delivered the placenta and after the cord had stopped pulsing I cut the cord myself. Cynthia showed me the placenta and noted that there were several white calcification spots, showing it was aging.

First snuggles with my boy.

Post birth bliss!

They got me propped up in bed and once things were cleaned up Nikki brought Meredith up to meet her new baby brother. I had tried to prepare her for the noises I might make and what the birth would be like in case she wanted to be in the room when he was born. I’m glad she didn’t want to be though, with how intense it was. She got to meet him almost right away and hung out in bed with us as we nursed for the first time. She got a special present from baby brother which she got to open (it was a “Jessie” doll from Toy Story which she’d been wanting).

We hung out in bed for a little bit, then they took him and got him weighed (he had already pooped on me, so I really think his actual birth weight was closer to 10lb). Cynthia handed him to Nikki to hold and I laughed at the “deer in the headlights” look she got on her face! I took a quick shower and Cynthia got me stitched up. I had a small tear, about the same as I had with Meredith.

Meredith meeting baby brother for the first time.

Nursing Sean for the first time.

Mama kisses!

Jessie doll from baby brother.

I joked that now I had a few hours to rest before homecoming, and Cynthia very firmly told me I was forbidden and I think told Kat to make sure I didn’t go! After a while we sat on the bed while Cynthia checked Sean out, making sure all his joints were good and everything was healthy. Meredith sat up with us and Cynthia explained to her everything she was doing. It was all so relaxed and calm. They got wrapped up and I got a photo of everyone in bed with me before they left.

Nikki and Meredith admiring our new addition.

My amazing team! L to R: Monessa my doula, Me, Sean, Cynthia my midwife, Patricia her assistant & Meredith

I mentioned to both Monessa and Cynthia later that as much as it wasn’t the timing I’d hoped for (not having Brian there) it was such a different and amazing experience having a baby in only the company of women. It reminded me of the book “The Red Tent” about biblical era birthing when women would retreat to a tent together and help their sisters and friends birth their babies. As much as I wanted Brian there I feel the timing couldn’t have been better. I had an amazing birth experience surrounded by amazing women, and Brian came home that afternoon to meet his just hours old son.

Our family, together again!

I, of course, dismissed Cynthia’s forbidding me and went to homecoming anyway. I almost didn’t go. I was in baby bliss land and was happy to let Krista take Meredith and for us to have our homecoming when Brian made it back to the house. But we were able to get a pass to get the car out to the flight line so I wouldn’t have to walk far, and I really wanted to see Meredith’s reunion with Brian. The news wanted to interview us, but I didn’t want Cynthia to see the story and get mad that I’d gone to homecoming against her express instructions! I waddled myself out to the flight line and welcomed my husband home with his brand new baby. He said he couldn’t believe I went, but I kept saying I was going to get my homecoming, and I got my homecoming!!

Brian meeting his son for the first time, just 8 hours old!

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