The birth story of Babyboy Q, born May 22nd

Unlike my previous two births of my girls, much more thought, research, and overall intentionality went

into preparing for this birth. Having been a young mom, where shame and stigma overshadowed my

prior pregnancies, I gave little attention to my own needs and desires when it came to birthing my two

daughters. I put all faith into my doctors thinking they knew what was best for baby and me. I doubted

any knowledge I had over my own body and hadn’t realized the vast movement and information

available regarding labor and birth. I had no understanding of alternative birthing models aside from the

medical model that remains the status quo in our society. I’d say that the birth of Babyboy reflects my

life journey over the past seven years since bringing my daughter into this world. It was at this time that

I decided to return to school and leave my well-paying, but exhausting and inconvenient job in retail

management. Pursuing my degree after having been out of school for five years, was one of the most

empowering experiences of my life. After surviving emotional abuse, trauma, and family hardships, I

found self-worth and confidence in the classroom. I excelled in school and found that my education was

not only a means to a career path I would have never previously imagined, but a place for liberation and


When I found out that I was pregnant with Babyboy, I knew that an un-medicated, natural birth was

something that I needed and wanted to experience. Dad and I enrolled in Hypnobirthing classes after I

researched relaxation techniques for natural birth. It was the one that most appealed to me because of

its emphasis on meditation, visualization, and re-centering women and families in the birth experience. I

also knew that my birth was more than just that. This was an opportunity to showcase my own strength

and overcome doubts about myself that I’ve carried for far too long. I am incredibly happy and excited

to share that the birth of Babyboy was everything I had desired this time around and more! It was truly

successful in the ways that I had imagined my natural birth being a healthy and empowering experience.

Considering I was induced just after my 40 week due dates with my daughters, I was eager to know

what “going into labor” actually felt like. Leading up to birthing day, I constantly wondered when my

water would break or if that twinge in my cervix was the beginning of contractions. On top of this

curiosity, I was anxious because of Dad’s impending training dates. He was to leave for Idaho for military

training on Wednesday, the 21st

questioned our desire to birth naturally. Evidently, pitocin inductions and scheduled cesarean sections

are much more convenient for military life. The 14th

I oscillated between feeling upbeat and hopeful one day to downright depressed the next day, thinking

that I would be pregnant forever and that Dad would end up missing this birth. His presence was

extremely important to me considering the absence of my second daughter’s biological father at her

birth. Dad was my birth companion, father-to-be, and life partner. He needed to experience this with me

and be a witness to my awesomeness. Thankfully, his commander allowed him to stay in Salem while

others traveled to Idaho to begin training. We waited.

I had my membranes swept on Friday the 16th

midwife exams. I was dilated to 3cm on the 21st

I had consistent contractions ranging from every 20 minutes to 10—12 minutes apart. But every time,

, 2014

of May, one week exactly after my due date. Several of his colleagues

, our due date, passed and another week went by.

and again on Wednesday, the 21st

and had experienced at least two days that week where

they would die down at night and I would wake up disappointingly the next morning. On Thursday, the

, I woke up at 6:30 AM to a strong contraction. I glanced at the clock out of habit and hopefulness


that another one would soon come. It wasn’t until 30 minutes later that another one arrived. I had a

slight feeling that this may be it, but with all the other false starts I couldn’t be sure yet. I got out of bed

and started getting on with our regular morning routine. About five minutes later, I experienced another


I went downstairs to let Dad know that I had had a few and wasn’t sure if he should go to work that

morning. He was laying on the couch cuddling with our dog and a wave of giggly anxiousness came

over him. This was endearing as well as surprising considering his occupational role of leading and

executing tasks efficiently during stressful times. He just didn’t believe that we might actually be

having a baby that day and his excitement got the best of him! We laughed and joked around during

another contraction as the girls started waking up for the day. At this point, I had experienced several

contractions (maybe six or seven) and at 7:30 I asked Dad to make me a waffle with peanut butter for

breakfast. I went upstairs to gather more things for the hospital bag and to tell the girls to hurry and

get ready to go to grandma’s house. As Dad got dressed, I ate my waffle and breathed through the

contractions that kept coming. They were consistently five minutes apart and some came even every

two or three minutes. I started getting nervous at how fast things were progressing. I told everyone to

get in the car. We threw the car seat in the trunk along with the hospital bag and drove to my mom’s

house to drop the kids off.

Having contractions in the car was not comfortable! At home I found standing up while swaying and

leaning on something like the bed or the couch very comforting. It was horrible sitting upright in the

passenger seat of our car with a seatbelt strapping me down. Since I was concerned about the intensity

of contractions and how quickly they were coming, of course we had trouble finding parking when we

arrived at the birth center of Salem Hospital! I asked Dad to park in the 30 minute spot which was really

hard for him—he’s a rule follower and knew we would be there much more than the allotted time! Later

on we had Grandpa help move the car as he was the first to arrive to the hospital for support. Problem

easily solved!

I had two intense contractions getting from the car up to registration and then another right before

we walked into the triage room. I told the nurse that I needed to be roomed quickly and I had a strong

desire to get into a tub of water. I did most of my hypnobirthing visualization and listened to the

affirmations CD while in the tub at home during that last week as it was the only place my body felt

comfortable. In typical medicalized birthing fashion, the nurse responded with a comment I found a

bit humorous. She said, “Well, first we need to determine if you are in labor or not.” Ummm…I was

DEFINTELY in labor! And I knew it—she didn’t need to tell me and a contraction monitor really didn’t

need to affirm that for me either. I smiled at her and let her know that this was the real deal and to

hurry it up.

Once she determined I was contracting regularly and checked my cervix (I was at 6 cm), I was ushered

into a delivery room. We were able to have the conversation about pain management in the triage room

already. I told her that I didn’t need to be asked about pain at all during the process and that I intended

on doing everything naturally. The nurse, and her intern, had never heard of Hypnobirthing. Once in the

room, Dad was quick to start up the tub and I asked him to plug in the CD player (yes, we totally brought

an old school CD player since I couldn’t figure out how to get the CD onto my phone with a complicated

itunes download). Whatever–the CD player worked! Contractions were strong at this point. I used the

breathing techniques and had my eyes closed through much of the labor experience since I was trying

to remain in a relaxed state. It would be difficult to describe the visualization practices I used, but they

were extremely helpful. Much of the time, I envisioned laying on a hammock, resting on a sandy beach

listening to the rhythmic waves of the ocean, and soaring through the air. A little weird, I know.

I noticed the affirmations playing on the CD in the background when I came out of contractions.

They acted as helpful reminders as to why I wanted to do this. That and my midwife and Travis were

extremely supportive. They both kept telling me how great I was doing and that they were impressed

by my breathing. They kept me focused. I really couldn’t stand anyone talking around me when I was

feeling a surge (aka contraction), however. I know I snapped at Travis a few times to just BE QUIET so

I could get through it. I also wasn’t into being touched at all when I was experiencing one. I remember

being like this with the girls too.

When I was in the tub, the nurses attempted to give me an IV line. I agreed to this in triage sensing that

the nurse wasn’t going to budge on this one. But again, considering how quickly labor progressed, this

was the WORST part of my birth experience! I’m saying that happily and with encouragement for other

moms-to-be. Both nurses attempted the IV needle and couldn’t find a vein. I have no idea how many

times they tried, but I kept having contractions and so they had to start over and then didn’t succeed.

It was horrible! I was so close to telling Dad to step in and do it, knowing he was trained and equipped

to do this quickly from his experience as an Army medic. When we recapped the labor later that day, he

said he started thinking the same thing. Finally, the nurse got one in on my right hand—ouch. After that

I noticed a shift in the way the contractions felt. My body started to shake uncontrollably and it felt as

though my entire uterus was vibrating. Travis poured water on my belly at this time and it felt so good. I

didn’t want to leave the tub, but next thing I knew I started feeling that urge to push. I had to get to the

bed soon!

Dad helped me out of the tub. I was really overwhelmed with the intensity of my body shaking. He

reassured me that my brain was probably sending endorphins through my entire body and that it was

doing what it needed to do. He was so patient and supportive. He helped me on the bed and another

contraction came on. Getting out of the water made me SO HOT. I was burning up, sweating, burying

my face in the pillows and yet somehow still swaying my body during all of this to breathe through the

surge. Travis laughs about this time because I kept changing my mind whenever he asked to help. For

instance, he asked if a cold washcloth would help and I said yes please but once he brought it over I

nearly bit his head off when he tried to put it on me. I asked him to get me my mother at one point and

then when he reached for his phone I said no I didn’t actually want her there because there was no time

for it. I was quite fickle, to say the least. And, all the while I STILL had to wait for my blood to be drawn.

The nurses couldn’t get blood through the IV line so they had to call a phlebotomist down for assistance.

She swooped right in when I was on all fours in the middle of a contraction on the bed. I still have the

bruises from where she drew blood. At one point I got a little angry at the nurses telling them I had

had two children at this hospital and I couldn’t understand how they didn’t have my blood type on file

somewhere! They quickly informed me that blood changes every three days so it wouldn’t matter what

my records said seven years ago. Well, okay. Once the phlebotomist was gone, it was go time.

My midwife checked me and said that there was still a little bit of cervix there but that it would likely

move with one little push and that she could feel baby’s head right there. This is where it got interesting.

Since I had epidurals with my daughters, I was never able to move during the pushing phase. I started

pushing on all fours on the bed but quickly lost energy. I had a hard time supporting myself while

pushing that way. I suppose I need to work on my arm strength for that position! I turned over (and

it was a messy turn, by the way), and tried pushing at the end of the bed. I started getting intense leg

cramps so the nurses (who were holding my legs) keep straightening them out. That wasn’t going to

work either. The midwife suggested we pull out the bar that goes over the bed. I tried pulling up on the

bar as I pushed during the next contraction. Again, I lost energy really quick—no arm strength! The next

thing we tried was putting my legs up on the bar and me holding onto Travis’ arm. Finally, it felt right! I

pushed and the feeling was wow. I remember commenting on the burning saying something along the

lines of “This is it; the ring of fire!” like I had discovered something new and was excited.

Another thing I hadn’t really expected, especially after watching so many of the peaceful—and oddly

quiet—hypnobirthing videos on YouTube was my strong desire to moan while pushing. It was such a

deep and powerful moan, not a yell or scream like we see in the movies! It felt primal actually. And, I

truly believe it helped get that baby out of me. The energy I used to push was a powerful force. Days

later, my throat still hurt from whatever noise it was that I made. So, after maybe three or four intense

pushes with my feet comfortably on the bar, baby was out and squirming around on my belly! He was

born at 11:02 AM, just a few hours after arriving at the hospital (we checked in around 8:30 AM).

The nurses and midwife were excited about the fact that my water hadn’t ruptured during labor and

while Babyboy wasn’t born in his amniotic sac, it ruptured while I was pushing. He came out with a torn

sac covering his head. When he tried to breathe for the first time, the sac inflated kind of like a balloon.

I didn’t see it since he was still on his way out of me, but Dad and the midwife witnessed it. He was so

slimy, he nearly slid right off my belly! He was very alert and starting looking for my breast and suckling

right away. Once we got some of the goo cleared away from his face, I started nursing within minutes of

his birth. Then, there was some nervousness once we shifted focus to delivering my placenta.

My midwife was worried that there were still pieces remaining in my uterus. She went from calm,

laidback midwife to stern and demanding midwife ordering the nurse to give me a shot of pitocin in my

leg, as the IV line was so poorly done and I needed it in my system quickly. She told me I really needed

it to stop the bleeding and the baby was out so there would be absolutely no effect on him. I obliged,

of course. So ultimately, I did have Pitocin at this birth. However, I did not have it during labor and

experienced and felt the entire thing naturally. Yay for me! I felt like I had accomplished the impossible

and I was extremely proud of myself. Dad was equally impressed and we were so in love with our baby

boy: 8 pounds, 10 ounces (and was 21.5 inches long), which was right in between both girls who came in

at 7 and 9 pounds.

Babyboy remained on my belly, skin-to-skin for at least his first hour or so of life. Dad cut the umbilical

cord after we waited for the blood to pass through. I did tear just a little which required a total of three

stitches. The nurses didn’t weigh and measure him until I was all cleaned up and ready to let go of him

for the first time. It was at this time, we invited the girls in to meet him. They were the first to see him

and love on their baby brother. They were both in awe of his tiny, shriveled up hands and feet. My

daughter was fascinated with his little head and the hat they put on him. She was in charge of putting

it back on every time it slid off, which was often. After a few minutes of just our family, the rest of our

extended family came into the delivery room. Babyboy was greeted by so much love!

When I reflect on this birth experience, a few things come to mind. First, I would say the biggest

difference between this natural birth and my induced, epidural births was the recovery process. I was

so incredibly sore after this birth. Literally, every muscle in my body ached. I felt as though I had run

a marathon, as people say, and I was not in shape to do so. I’m thinking that more exercise, including

weight lifting, would have benefitted me greatly in the laboring process. Or, perhaps nothing really

would have made a difference because it is just that intense. I have to echo what I learned from my

hypnobirthing instructor. She would often tell us that the pushing part of birth isn’t really the most

painful part of birth. It’s the dilating of the cervix—the contractions—that carry the most pain (or

“discomfort” as we like to call it in hypnobirthing). Pushing was immensely powerful. It’s hard to explain,

but what a sensation to actually feel your baby moving through you. Even still, the contractions were

uncomfortable, similar to intense period cramps and yet tolerable, of course.

I recall having the moment of getting over that mountain and realizing that there was no going back.

And that the only way out of this intense discomfort was just getting the baby out of me. There

was internal dialogue where I went deep within myself to get through this mental block. I credit

hypnobirthing practices and Dad’s support to being able to get through that. After the excitement died

down a little bit, the nurses and midwife congratulated and hugged me.

One of our nurses asked why I chose to have a natural birth (the same one who had to confirm I was

in labor via machine and cervical check, which I realize is standard practice). She works in labor and

delivery full time where 300-400 births occur in that center each month. She says that a natural birth

is so rare that if she’s lucky she will assist in one or two a month. I was the lucky one for her so far in

May! While this made me feel special (not going to lie about that!), it was also shockingly disappointing.

Such a statement gives testament to the fact that this was not only about me but a political act. This

was a feminist event that agitated the norm, made people around me question the status quo, and

empowered at least one woman—me. In the end, I amazed myself, received a beautiful baby boy, and

shared in the most intimate and one of the most inspiring events of my life with the man I love most.

We did it!

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.13.35 PM

-AH, Salem