lifestyle newborn photography
It’s been a week since my baby’s birth (at the onset of me writing this; at posting, it’s been a month – that's how long it's taken me to finish this post -- haha!) and my life will never be the same. I know I have a bunch of hormones running through me right now, but I’m listening to worship music with tears running down my cheeks, just so thankful for this little blessing in my life.

I never knew if I would be a mom. Some people don’t know this because I don’t shout it from the rooftops, but I’m 42 years old. I was single until age 41. Some people long for a child and wait for what feels like an agonizing number of years for their dream. For me, I waited for a husband … for what felt like FOREVER. (Click here to read more about this story.) I didn’t really think ahead to children because that just wasn’t my reality. I needed to be married before having babies, and if I was going to end up being single my whole life (a reality I faced with increasing certainty), then it didn’t make sense to dream about children.

But God blessed me with a husband last June. Bruce and I knew that if we wanted to start a family, it was now or never. Nothing is guaranteed, especially at my age. I would have loved to have a few years of being married, just the two of us, but I also knew that I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of being a mother, if that was at all possible. So …. we got pregnant on our honeymoon. The very first time it was even possible. HUGE blessing and HUGE reality check. This was really happening!!

Fast forward, and today I want to share our birth story for two reasons: I want to document it for myself before it fades into distant memory. Plus, when I was pregnant, I really enjoyed reading and hearing other women’s birth stories. Hopefully if you’ve stumbled upon this post, you feel the same. If not, be forewarned that this is a birth story with lots of details – continue reading at your own risk – haha!

The summary version of Beau’s birth story is that I gave birth un-medicated at Willow Birth Center under the care of midwives. He was born in a tub, and I had no needles, monitors, or tubes hooked up to me. It was intense and amazing all at the same time. I LOVED our birth center experience. From the beginning, the midwives told me that many women in their 40s successfully give birth without complications. They told me that my age in-and-of-itself was not a risk factor. They never used the word “geriatric” or made me feel like I was fragile or problematic due to my age. I felt normal, and empowered, and so comfortable with their level of care for us throughout the entire process. And I ended up having a complication-free pregnancy and delivery! Praise the Lord! If you are looking to give birth naturally, without medication, and with a minimal amount of intervention, I can’t recommend Willow Birth Center enough!

Ok! Back to the full story!

My due date was March 25th – a Monday. I ended up having Beau on March 30th – a Saturday. But I need to start the story back on March 25th. That evening, I went into what I thought was early labor. Consistent contractions started around 7pm and continued for 10-12 hours, increasing in intensity. I also felt a tiny gush of water that I believed was my water leaking. But mid-morning on the 26th, my contractions started to taper off. The rest of that day I had menstrual-type cramping, and then that evening I had some pretty uncomfortable back contractions. I slept well that night and woke up the next morning NOT in labor and just feeling extremely pregnant.

I look back on this now and realize it was probably “false labor” or more accurately, just my body preparing for labor. But at the time, I definitely felt like things would just continue until we had the baby. I am SO GLAD I had educated myself and had the birth plan I did, though, because I could have easily gone to a hospital when I felt my water leak or contractions start, and they would have admitted me. And then they would have done a bunch of interventions to move my labor along when it didn’t progress on its own. This is a story I’ve heard so many times, and often it involves an induction that ends in an emergency c-section. There’s no judgment on women in this situation; I’m just a naturopath hippy that strongly believes that women are designed to give birth. Hospitals these days treat women in labor like they have a disease that needs to be diagnosed or treated. It’s just the way they are used to operating. But childbirth is a very natural thing and our bodies are uniquely designed to do it. Even though I had to wait a few days longer to give birth, I’m so glad I did it relaxing at home, rather than going through a long, drawn-out induction process at a hospital when my baby and body just weren’t quite ready.

Friday night, the 29th, Bruce left the house to play sand volleyball, and I went out to dinner at The Vig with my mom and sister. When I sat down in the outdoor booth, I felt my water leak. But I didn’t want to get up because I figured it would cause it to break more and might make a huge mess. So I just stayed put and finished dinner. I had contractions throughout dinner, but I knew that even if my water was breaking and labor was starting, I had a long way to go, so I didn’t need to rush. When I got up after dinner, my water leaked a little more, then a little more out in the parking lot. It never gushed out in a pool, but by the time I made it home, I knew my water had broken and this was probably it. I texted Bruce to let him know and encouraged him to finish up his volleyball game. My mom and sister were with me, and although I was having contractions, they were still very manageable. But of course Bruce came right home and immediately turned into the Tazmanian Devil – running around in circles getting everything ready. He wanted EVERYTHING to be perfectly clean and prepared for when we returned home with a baby. Super-cute! We also called the midwife on call at the birth center to let her know that my water had broken and to give her the details they wanted about that. She advised us to get some rest if possible and scheduled us to come in at 9am the next morning to get checked.

We went to bed as soon as we could, to try to get a little rest. I think I went to bed around 10pm and slept until 3am. Bruce woke up at 3:30am, and I told him contractions were getting stronger. He got up to make coffee and resumed preparations. Around 4:30am is when working contractions really kicked in. I needed to focus on relaxing through each one and Bruce began timing them with an app and coaching me through them. He also used a tennis ball to push on my lower back to relieve some of the pain I was feeling there. At one point I got out of bed to use the bathroom and ended up feeling nauseous. I threw up in the middle of having intense contractions, which was tons of fun – lol. After I got cleaned up and back in bed, contractions continued to become more intense, longer and closer together. At 6am we felt like it was time to contact the midwife on call at the birth center. (They had told us to call when contractions were 60-90 seconds long and 3-4 minutes apart.) At this point, I was unable to get comfortable in bed and was writhing in pain during some of the contractions. The midwife told us to come in at 6:40am.

Bruce loaded the car and I walked out to get in, pausing for each contraction. At this point I wasn’t really able to talk except during breaks between contractions. But all I wanted to do was relax and enjoy those breaks while I could, so I was very quiet. When we arrived at the birth center, the midwife checked me. Willow Birth Center has a practice of not sharing how far dilated you are, because they don’t want you to feel discouraged or try to estimate how much longer you should go based on that number. I found out later that I was 7cm dilated at this point. When the midwife checked me, the rest of my water gushed out.

We headed back to the room where I would give birth. It is really homey, set up like a bedroom in a home. It has a king-sized bed, full bathroom and stand-alone tub. They started to fill the tub while I labored for a bit on the toilet. I felt the urge to go, but didn’t really need to. But it was slightly more relaxing than lying on the bed. When the tub was full, I got in and Bruce sat on a stool next to the tub. I draped my arms over each side and just let my lower body float. My mom and sister arrived shortly, and they helped with keeping a cold wet washcloth on my forehead and giving me sips of water through a straw between contractions.

Very soon after I got in the tub, my body transitioned to pushing contractions. A lot of women talk about having the urge to push, but I can only describe my pushing contractions as convulsive and involuntary. It was like my body was trying to expel this baby as quickly as possible all on its own with no help from me! I’m so glad I was in the tub, because when a contraction came on, my entire lower body would convulse violently, while I was able to just let go and let it do its thing. There was no pressure on any sides of my pelvis, so everything was able to expand as needed without resistance or pressure. When I felt a contraction coming on, I would grab onto Bruce’s arm, which was over the tub above my chest, and start breathing deeply. That and relaxing in between contractions was about all I could consciously focus on doing. Every 20 minutes or so, the midwife would take a doppler reading of the baby’s heart rate, and he was always doing well.

At one point the midwife said she could see Beau’s head and that he had a lot of hair! She asked if I wanted to feel his head. I was so out of it, but I did. I said, “Wow,” and then went back into my trance-like state. Haha! :)

The next thing I remember, the midwife was asking me if I wanted to transition to a squatting position to deliver Beau, since that would help with gravity and allowing my pelvis to expand a little more. I did, and squatted in the tub with my arms over Bruce’s shoulders and our foreheads together. I wasn’t able to stay squatting, so I ended up kneeling. I felt a popping sensation during one of my next contractions and exclaimed that I felt something come out of me, and the midwife said it was the baby’s head and that he would be born during the next contraction! That’s what happened, and they grabbed him out of the water, quickly unwrapped the cord, which was around his neck a few times. They handed my baby to me.

I looked down at him for what felt like a long time, completely in shock that he was here and that he was my son. The two strongest emotions I felt were shock and utter relief that labor was over. I was SO relieved that I was done with something that was SO intense and that I had been anticipating for so long. It all went so fast. Beau was born at 8:34am – just four hours after the intense contractions had started at home, and less than two hours after we first arrived at the birth center.
One note regarding our birth photos:

We had a professional photographer friend all lined up to shoot birth photography for us, but she had a wedding on Saturday, March 30th. It was her only window where she wasn't available. Rather than scheduling with someone else, we just decided to take our chances, knowing that we wouldn't have professional photos of the birth if Beau decided to come on Saturday. So the above photos were taken on my mom and sister's phones. There were many others taken that were of similar quality, but these are the only ones I feel comfortable sharing. Although it's a bummer not to have better quality photos from Beau's birth, we're totally at peace with it and SO thankful that we have a few photos of any kind to help us remember the emotion of that moment.

With the help of the midwives, I transitioned to the bed while carrying Beau, and spent the first two hours of his life skin to skin with him, nursing and snuggling. The midwives attended to me while I delivered the placenta, and they were concerned that my bleeding wasn’t slowing and my uterus wasn’t contracting. So they gave me two shots of Pitocin and a chalky oral medication, one right after the other until they felt better about my bleeding. I remember feeling slightly annoyed that they were rummaging around in my girl parts. The whole time I was thinking, “Leave me alone, I just pushed a baby out of there.” Haha! But I’m thankful for their care, and was again thankful that I didn’t have any IVs or monitors or other tubing hooked up to me. After the placenta was delivered and the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing, Bruce cut the cord.

The midwives brought us a tray of yummy food and some drinks, and Bruce helped to feed me while I continued to snuggle our baby. After the two hours of skin-to-skin time, Bruce took him for some skin-to-skin time while I took a shower. Finally the midwives took Beau to weigh and measure him. He was 7lbs. 15oz. and 21 ¼ inches long. We stayed until we passed all of our checks, and then were allowed to go home just five hours after giving birth. It was an intense experience, but I wouldn’t change our birth center plan for anything. It was amazing to get to go home and rest and recover there.

Beau is absolutely beautiful and such a blessing. It’s still so surreal that I’m a mom, but it also feels so natural and right. Bruce has been a HUGE support, making food and being super-active in helping with Beau. As I anticipated, one of my greatest joys is seeing him be a father. He’s incredible.

lifestyle newborn photography
For those of you who are interested in learning more about the natural, un-medicated birth route, there are two books that I read in their entirety as I prepared for labor that were hugely instrumental in helping me to mentally prepare:

Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and well-wishes! I am so thankful for the community that surrounds us and for all of your love and support! I think I’ve covered everything here, but feel free to leave any questions in the comments! I’ll do my best to answer everything there.

Now back to baby snuggles …
lifestyle newborn photography
Professional photos included in this post were taken by Rennai Hoefer as part of our newborn session. I can't wait to share more from that soon!
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