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Natural Birth

Wednesday by Leah: It’s Like Pooping

So I know I already wrote about my homebirth experience, and talked a little about what labor and birth were like… but now that I’m out of that initial post-birth haze, I thought I’d share a bit more about what giving birth actually FELT like. And really, it felt like pooping. So much so that I was convinced my child was coming out of the wrong opening! I never had that ring of fire that so many women describe…maybe cuz I was giving birth in water, I don’t know… for me, giving birth was like having a 20 lb (ok, really a 7 lb) bowling ball come out of my butt. Except BabyRoX didn’t come out of my butt. To this day, I would swear that he did, though!  That’s how much it felt like pooping!

Y’all…I wasn’t going to write this post. Mark said I should, though. I’m not trying to be gross. But I do wish someone had sat me down before I gave birth and told me this. I was told that I should push like I was having a bowel movement. I was also told that many women get hung up on their fear of actually pooping during birth. (And I didn’t think I would be one of those women!) But I was NOT told that giving birth feels like taking the biggest dump of your life, and I think if I had been told that, I would’ve pooped out my sweet baby a lot faster! But I kept waiting to feel him coming out of my vagina. And instead all I felt was intense pressure in my rectum. I was convinced that I couldn’t give birth until I pooped. I mean, I thought I really needed to poop first and then I could have my baby. So I kept sitting on the toilet trying to poop…only I was really trying to give birth, and I didn’t know it! Finally my wonderful doula and midwife convinced me that I really just needed to push the baby out and YES that intense pressure on my rectum was normal and YES the baby really is about to come and NO I don’t need to worry about pooping anymore.

Cutest poop in the world!

I didn’t think I was going to be worried about pooping. But I also didn’t realize just how much giving birth would feel like having a bowel movement! I also thought that by the time I was ready to push out my baby, I wouldn’t care if I pooped or not… I thought I would be so out of it, or in so much pain that nothing mattered, or in such a deeply relaxed state that the baby would just slide out and I wouldn’t have a care in the world. I had an amazingly relaxed labor, but when it came time to push, I wasn’t in that trance-like state. I also wasn’t in such pain that I stopped caring about anything else. I was very much aware of the feeling of needing to poop, and very averse to doing that with everyone around me, and completely unaware that the poop-feeling was my baby coming out. So I’m giving the rest of y’all a heads up – when you are nearing the end of your labor and you feel like you need to poop, YOUR BABY IS COMING! Got it? Good. Happy baby pooping!


Wednesday by Leah | Giving Birth Thoughts

Atlanta Birth Photographer | Natural Birth | Newborn | Maternity |

– Posted by Leah

First, go read +Jo’s blog post about the birth she photographed last week. And grab some tissues. Then come back here!

Back?  Ok. How awesome was that?  I am a birth story junkie… and Jo is a great writer and photographer. Woohoo!

Now I’m going to talk more about my own birth. I’ve had 6 weeks to reflect on it, to fall in love again and again with my beautiful son, to adjust to my role as a mother… and in that time it has dawned on me that giving birth at home has impacted me in a few ways that I didn’t realize initially.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

The biggest and most noticeable impact is the trust I have in my own body. I don’t doubt my body’s ability to do anything anymore. I’ve even agreed to let my crazy running friend take me out running…heck, maybe I’ll even run a marathon one of these days. Who knows. Laboring at home allowed me to go much deeper within myself than I think I could have in a hospital setting. I entered this strange plane of feeling both completely primal and transcendentally spiritual at the same time. I was more inside of my body and more all-encompassing than I even thought it was possible to be. It was quite the amazing experience. And because I was in my own home, without anyone trying to hurry things along or stop me from doing what came most naturally, I was able to stay in this state for hours and let my body do what it needed to in order to bring Jonah safely into the world.

Atlanta Birth Photographer | Natural Birth | Newborn | Maternity | LeahAndMark.comIn addition to trusting my body – and being immensely thankful for it – birthing at home also allowed me to relinquish any fear I had surrounding birth. I was taking a shower yesterday and thought, “Oh, hey, a few weeks ago I was in labor in the shower!” It makes labor seem like a very normal and do-able thing. Which it totally was. Just because something is intense and even painful, it doesn’t mean it’s not manageable or doable. And giving birth in my home normalized labor to such a great extent for me that I truly no longer fear labor or childbirth. Just the act of going to the hospital is, for me (again, I’m only speaking for myself and not anyone else!), an abnormal act… if I have to go to the hospital, it means something is wrong. And once I’m at the hospital, I don’t know how my body will react to that stress. I don’t know the nurses or doctors. I’m not in a familiar, comfortable place. And for me, that would have put a lot more fear into the process.

Of course there are people with the exact opposite perspective – people who feel safer in a hospital, people who would be super stressed and scared to birth at home…and that’s why it’s SO important to have options. To be able to choose where and how to give birth. And that’s the third biggest impact my homebirth has had on me – my choice was not a common one, and because of that I’ve had to overcome some hurdles – paying out-of-pocket, getting a bunch of forms notarized in order to file for the birth certificate, etc. But I still had an option. I still had access to a skilled midwife, to a supportive doula. I was able to make the choice that was best for me. And it’s not like that everywhere, not by a long shot. So I’m even more committed than before to advocating on behalf of reproductive rights – and I include birthing options in the umbrella of reproductive rights. Every woman should be able to choose safe, comfortable options for prenatal care, labor and birth. We need more midwives, we need more birth centers, we need ongoing education for OBs and L&D nurses, we need easy transfers between homes/birth centers and hospitals….we need a lot of things to change. And I plan to be a part of that change.

But first I need to go change a diaper!

Joelle’s Birth by +Jo | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

– Posted by +Jo

A few months back I was contacted by LeeAnn about doing a maternity shoot in Arkansas. Eventually, through many texts and emails, it was decided there would be maternity, birth and new born sessions. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

Man was this crazy to plan. And timing had to be just right.

I go home to Arkansas once a year and this year’s window was even slimmer because my boyfriend traveled with me. We were really lucky he received a week off from work and only had a short amount of time we would be in the state. I read up on the birth of the first child to understand what I was getting myself into. It also help me know what to expect out of LeeAnn and her husband. As her final weeks drew near she would update me more and more on her OB appointments and progression. The week before I left for Arkansas she started to have prodromal contractions. Right on cue – the same thing happened with her first child. Everyday I would check in – LeeAnn would give me numbers or let me know if things were good. Finally, I made it into town. We were all on edge and I did the maternity session within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

       They have such a cute little family. And they were about to gain one more. Did I mention – she wanted a henna tatto on her belly? Yup. So, I gave here a design we put together. It wasn’t as dark as either of us hoped, but she was happy to have it for the photos.

Once that was checked off the list, the waiting continued. I was worried after a couple days had gone by and nothing much had changed. Her contractions were a little more intese but would let up by the evening. But luck was on our side.

Tuesday night my boyfriend came down with a bug and I was up late making sure he was okay. I don’t know when I fell asleep but at 5:52 am I received a call from LeeAnn’s husband, Nick. She was in full labor and they were heading to Birth Works. Last time she labored for a few hours at the clinic before she was taken to the hospital for the final part of labor. I thought about the time it takes into Little Rock and early morning traffic. I also thought about how comfy bed was at that particular moment. Finally the thought of missing the birth drove me out of bed and into the bathroom. I was brushing my teeth when I received a text from Nick at 6:07 am: “Headed to the hospital in just a few minutes.” They live in the town next to my parents and I knew it would be a 20-30 minute drive into Little Rock. ‘Hospital’ meant LeeAnn was progressing faster in her labor than everyone was expecting. I spat out the toothpaste and went into high gear. I fought with my clothes and almost ran out the door without shoes. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

At 6:49am I was parking my car at the hospital. I made it up to the delivery floor with another text saying “Room 5 in L&D.” What was not mentioned was the locked door that could only be opened by calling the nurses on a specific phone on the wall. I was not awake enough and it felt like I spent 10 minutes trying to get through the one door. It wasn’t really… it was the adrenaline screwing with my head. I made it through and waltzed into the labor room. LeeAnn was on all fours, moaning loudly (not screaming), and the baby was crowning. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I stared. Uncontrollably.

Then a part of my brain punched the crap out of the other part and I thew down my coat, scarf and yanked out my camera from my bag. The night before I had done long exposure night photography. I switched the settings with out thinking about what I was doing. I turned around and started snapping pictures. No warm up. No cordial hellos. No prepping the mom, dad and hospital staff. Just GO. I shot everything on my 35mm prime and the lens it quite loud. The nurses gave me some nasty looks with the first couple pictures. I simply said “I’m here for them… I’ll hide in a corner.” | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

The doctor barely got his gloves and apron (thingy) on before Joelle broke into the world. I have no clue how I feel about what I saw. It’s not the first birth I’ve seen. It was the first human birth. I don’t know how I looked… I’m sure I was making all sorts of faces. It was surreal… the camera was my eyes. What I saw is what I captured. I didn’t want to have my opinion, presumptions, life choices or history effect the photos. I wanted to capture exactly what I saw. The simple truth of Joelle’s birth. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

She came into the world with a head full of dark hair. She came into the world quiet and loud. She came into the world with two of the most loving parents. She came into the world via a mother who insisted on it being completely natural – no IVs, no epidural – just her and mother nature. She came into the world to a proud father and a kind brother. She came into this world loved completely.

At 6:57am on December 14th, 2011, Joelle Rose was born.

It was raw beauty. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I was so honored so be apart of this moment. When I finally sat down, I realized I was the first person to take Joelle’s picture. That simple concept took my breath away. How silly – of all things? Out of the millions of photos she will appear in across her lifetime… I took the very first one. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo ArellanesI photographed life.

Damn. I want to do that again.


BabyRoX is Born | by Mark

– Posted by Mark

(Read Leah’s Version of BabyRoX’s Birth, Here.)

First – it’s F*cking AMAZING that I now have a son. Mind blowing.

Second – I’m so glad that Leah wanted a home birth. Partly because I don’t really like hospitals and then also because the home birth WAS AMAZING. Seriously. I had great coffee, good food, my computer, and the absolute best part was that a few hours after BabyRoX was born – everyone left and it was just US THREE (plus our cats!)

One night we went to bed without a baby, the next night hey, WE HAVE A BABY! And we’re home. No spending the night in the hospital, no hanging out with strangers that just tell us to do things that we probably don’t want to do (doctors/nurses and their medical interventions.) I know the whole ‘birth experience’ is about the mother since well, they’re the ones physically giving birth – but damn – I had a pretty great home birth experience.

Oh – and did I mention how it was so low cost that we paid for it all out of pocket? Not that we had a choice (ha, try getting an insurance company to pay for a home birth!) Now I know that our lives have gone from simple office-worker-dreaming-of-being-artsy to full-time-photographers-that-give-birth-at-home, but if you had asked me a few years ago what I thought about home births… I don’t know what I would’ve said.


Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

The whole week was a little bit stressful. BabyRoX had been sort of ‘early’ the entire time of the pregnancy (showing, moving, generally seeming like he was going to be ‘ready’, early) – but I had a wedding that coming Saturday. If he was going to come early, he had until Wednesday, well – Thursday at the latest, otherwise he would have to come after Saturday. (ha. because babies totally conform to schedules.)

On Tuesday, some guts or something came out of Leah (you know, bloody mucus stuff) and yeah – she pretty much knew that he was going to be coming early, and SOON. We sort of scrambled to finish getting ready (nursery, supplies, rescheduling portrait sessions) – and then things calmed down a little. Until the middle of the next morning (Wednesday). And then around 11am, the real contractions started coming on. Two minutes a part, with 1 minute in between (You actually time contractions from the beginning of one contraction, to the beginning of the next contraction, not when they end in between.)

We called our Midwife (Charlotte) and then texted our Doula (Becca) and they all came over.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Now let me tell you about Charlotte. She’s pretty badass. But that’s what you want in a midwife right? It’s what we wanted.

Look. When you hire me as your photographer, I want you to know that I’ll take care of everything, and do anything to get the shots. To make the beautiful photos and to just PWN all things photo.

Charlotte has been doing this for over 20 years – she can deliver breach, twins, ninjas, samurai, everything – and if something is wrong, she’ll either be able to handle it with her master midwife skills, or she’ll TELL YOU TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. And if she tells you to go to the hospital, that means YOU NEED TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL. No hesitation, no wavering, just FULL-ON Knowing What She’s Doing.

And that’s what you want from THE PERSON DELIVERING YOUR BABY. Right? Right.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

So everyone arrived, Becca started taking care of Leah and helping her through the ‘laboring’ part (the 12 hours leading up to the literal 13th hour) – and Charlotte and her team finished setting up, turning our nursery into a delivery room. Personally – I’m grateful that Becca was there because it was a big help to be able to sort of tag-team taking care of Leah over those 13 hours.

I’m sure that Charlotte and her team would’ve taken on that role if Becca hadn’t been there, but since she was there, they actually just stayed in the nursery/birth room with the door closed. Periodically they’d come out and check on the baby’s heart rate (just by listening and watching a clock, no fetal monitor here! (Machine that goes Ping!)) – and then they’d go back into the nursery and close the doors (mostly to keep the cats out though.) I’m pretty sure that they also just wanted to stay out of the way, and not remind Leah that she had 4 people there just waiting for her to give birth. In total, they were all there for a little over 15 hours, and they were all very patient with Leah, never rushing anything.

In fact – Charlotte kept stalling when Leah was requesting to get into the birth tub – because she didn’t want her to get in too early and have the warm water drain all of her energy that she would need to PUSH.

Then they told me that the birth tub required 140 gallons of hot water – and then I realized that we only had a 40 gallon water heater. From the very beginning, Leah’s contractions were 2 minutes apart (Star to Start) – so we all kind of thought that things could happen very soon.

And if there wasn’t enough water in the birth tub, then Leah wasn’t going to be able to give birth there. SO. I started boiling water. LOTS OF WATER. Using everything I could use. Even the coffee maker. (Although looking back, I could’ve also used the microwave.)

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

In total – I boiled upwards of 25 gallons of water. Hardly a dent in the 140 gallons needed – but boiling water added to cooler water is still hot, and we only needed the tub to be at a steady 100 degrees (the baby is going from a warm body that’s around 98.6 to a warm body of water around 100 degrees so that it’s not as shocking, and you know, just a little bit more comfortable for them 🙂

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Backing up – when we decided to do a home birth, we decided that in order to increase the chance of a successful experience (health baby, not needing to go to the hospital, proper positioning of the baby, etc.) – we would do everything we could BEFORE BabyRoX was born instead of having to deal with complications during and after.

I mean – it makes sense right? As much preventative care as possible. So right from when she got pregnant, she started seeing a chiropractor, and started eating super super healthy. The eating healthy part is obvious – but I hadn’t ever thought of a chiropractor as part of maternal care. But again – it makes sense right? I mean the body goes through A LOT of changes during pregnancy, especially in the pelvic and spine area – so it would make sense to keep those areas ‘aligned’ properly, so that the baby has an easier time coming out, and less chance of being in the wrong position.

So she started seeing Dr. Danielle – and that, along with the healthy diet and supplements and cutting out bad/unnatural food things, I believe really helped in ensuring that our plan of having a home birth was going to happen.

We spent as much money as we could upfront, before the baby was born, so that we wouldn’t have to spend that money on hospital interventions that require more interventions to fix the first ones. Alright. Enough of that talk. Moving on…

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

So. We’re Photographers. It seems like we’d obviously want a ‘birth photographer’ there to record the birth of BabyRoX – and we did have one lined up, and even a back up for her. But when things started really happening, after the birth team arrived… I just didn’t feel like having yet another person there. So I just started sneaking photos with my phone – which was actually much better since there was no shutter sound and I could just put it down really fast if I needed to.)

What we did decide to do was hand one of our cameras over to Becca right when the birth was happening so that she could take the photos. I locked the settings on one of the cameras we use for weddings, told her to be steady, and start shooting. We got lucky – because Becca took some beautiful photos.

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Oh yeah. I was also ‘tweeting’ the entire time – posting messages on Twitter. I DID NOT TELL LEAH I was doing this – but luckily she found it kind of funny afterwards 😉

@LeahAndMark | Birth team is here at our apartment. Also. 140 gallons is a lot of hot water (water birth in our home.)

@LeahAndMark | So. We have a midwife, her 2 assistants, and a doula. I am so very grateful, otherwise I would have to actually be doing something… 😉

@LeahAndMark | Also. The crew ordered Thai food! I get a baby AND Thai food tonight!

@LeahAndMark | Also. I’m really great at boiling gallons and gallons of water. Fast.

@LeahAndMark | I probably shouldve read more of those books Leah bought. Luckily we hired the right professionals. Like me and photos. Well. They’re A LOT NICER.

@LeahAndMark | Our cats have been doing very well tonight. (Their names are OneTwo & ThreeFour). Almost jumped into the birth tub.

@LeahAndMark | Also. Ikea sells 100 count packs of tea lights for that dramatic 100 candle birth scene.

@LeahAndMark | Man, you must REALLY love photos if your hire a Birth Photographer… changed my mind about having one today.

@LeahAndMark | Except for my rescheduled e-session tomorrow, BabyRoX is making perfect timing for Saturday’s wedding. Was worried about that one.

@LeahAndMark | How good is Leah? Our windows are open and she’s in labor. And we live in an apartment complex. Damn.

@LeahAndMark | Also. I suppose I’m about to have a REAL reason to Win at this photography business thing. I’ll need an upgraded propaganda machine.

@LeahAndMark | Leah’s doing the ‘Ommmmmm’ thing. I wonder if our neighbors think we’re playing chanting music, with lots of bass.

@LeahAndMark | It’s too bad Leah’s not in the mood to hear me sing ‘This Woman’s Work‘, my falsetto is quite awesome.


@LeahAndMark | Moving to the big birth tub.

@LeahAndMark | Everything is great! 12:35am Jonah Gabriel Rox Tioxon. Born.

@LeahAndMark | Damn. Giving birth is NO JOKE. That was badass.

@LeahAndMark | Um. A baby was just born here. And now everyone’s left and it’s just us. At home. This is fantastic.

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |


Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |

Now I know not every birth is like this. Not all of them go so well.

I’m extremely grateful that BabyRoX was born with no problems, that he’s healthy, and that everything worked out (and I that I got to shoot that wedding!)

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Atlanta Home Birth | Water Birth |

Hey. I have a son. That’s. Just. Too. Awesome.



Natural Birth. Water Birth. Father. Dad. Point of View. Perspective. Midwife. Doula.

Wednesday by Leah: Jonah’s Birthday!

– Posted by Leah
(Read Mark’s Version of BabyRoX’s birth, Here.)
So last Wednesday, as some astute readers have surmised…there was no Wednesday by Leah post because Leah was in LaborLand! But I hope today’s post will make up for that missing one…

Wow, I’m not sure I can come up with the words to fully describe Jonah’s birth. Awesome. Intense. Empowering. Exhausting. The most incredible, amazing thing I’ve ever done.

That still doesn’t really describe it.  But it’s a start.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
I have to give a huge shout out to my most wonderful partner and husband. Mark was with me every step of the way…at least every step that I needed him.  (There were chunks of time when I wanted to labor alone.) And our phenomenal doula Becca gets another huge shout out, because she was also with me every step of the way – and with Mark, helping him support me in the best ways. She had a magic carpet bag or something full of soothing little comforts, like fuzzy socks and lavender oil. Becca somehow intuitively knew just what I needed at different points.  I don’t think I talked for much of my labor…at least the last half of the 13 hours. I was somewhere else entirely.  Deep within myself, working with Jonah, floating/drifting/pulsing/melting/surrendering…and, finally, pushing through each contraction. 
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
I wasn’t really aware of time…it felt more realistically like 4 hours to me, but somehow 13 passed from the onset of regular contractions to Jonah’s arrival. I went from having 2 hours of am-I-in-labor, mild, irregular contractions to much more intense ones that came 2 minutes apart and lasted a minute long. Bam! No slow build-up to the more frequent contractions for me. I dilated progressively – not as quickly as one might think given the frequency of my contractions from the start – but my body did just what it needed to do. My wonderful midwife and her assistants would check me periodically and listen to Jonah’s healthy and strong heart rate. But they mostly just let me labor and stayed out of sight. They filled the birth tub with 140 gallons of hot water. They gave me Vitamin B drops and Becca kept me hydrated and fed me honey sticks. And I just kept on relaxing into the contractions one after another. I didn’t get much of a break between them so I didn’t really break out of my relaxed state until near the end, when I felt the enormous pressure of Jonah descending and the fatigue of laboring for 10 or 11 hours and I was ready to switch into active mode and get him out. Squatting, walking, and finally getting in the tub and pushing pushing pushing for around 45 minutes.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
The tub felt amazing when I got in – the intense pressure bearing down on my bum eased up. I was around 8 or 9 cm dilated at that point and after about 15 minutes in the tub, where the contractions mercifully spaced out and gave me a short, blissful break, I was ready to push. But I was also insanely hot. Becca and Mark kept me cool with icy, lavender-scented rags. Mark gripped my hands and steadied me with each forceful pushing contraction. And slowly Jonah descended. This part seemed the longest to me – the previous 12 hours of labor were nothing compared to the pushing stage. Partly because I wasn’t in my relaxed state anymore, but I also think the forcefulness of the contractions and the intensity of the pressure factored in to making this relatively short stage of my labor seem so long.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Finally I felt Jonah slide out of me. That was just… WOAH. Our midwife told me to reach down and hold my baby, but I was gripping onto Mark’s hands and reeling from the intensity and force of birthing my precious boy, and I said, “No – You get him!” Somehow someone passed him to me and I sat down in the tub in complete shock and relief and joy, holding my son. 7 lbs, 19.5 inches, perfect and beautiful and with a super strong grip. Once the cord stopped pulsing, Mark cut it and I was able to bring Jonah to my chest (short cord! he could only reach my stomach with the cord attached) and start nursing. He latched on right away and nursed for a good hour. What a little champ. I delivered the placenta, then got out of the tub and headed to bed for a check-up and some stitches, with Jonah just nursing away!
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
It was amazing. I was so thankful to be in my own home. To be surrounded by such a skilled, supportive birth team. My midwife Charlotte, her two assistants – Rachel and Chasery, our doula Becca – they each brought something special and important to the birth. To making me feel cared for, strong, and completely capable. Mark somehow managed to tweet, take pictures, drink coffee, boil water, eat Thai food, check on my mom who was waiting in the parking lot because she is a crazy mama who loves me too much…and yet never not be there for a second that I needed him.  I don’t know how he did it and I’m eager to read HIS version of our birth story.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Not once during my labor did I ask to go to the hospital, or ask for pain medications, or say I thought I was dying.  None of those thoughts even occurred to me. What helped tremendously, aside from the incredible support I received was a.) being in a space where I was most comfortable, which for me was my own home. Being at home really helped normalize labor for me – yes, it was intense, but hey, I’m just chilling at home with Borat on TV, b.) being able to relax, thanks to a combination of a background in meditation, hypnobirthing techniques, and the Reiki I received distantly from my Reiki Master, Cyndie and my aunt Terri, and in-person from Mark and Becca, and c.) understanding and remembering that this was a temporary experience. Becca, Mark, and Charlotte would occasionally say “You’ll meet your baby soon!” or “Jonah is coming!” and it would remind me that the contractions weren’t going to last forever. At one difficult point near the end, when the pressure bearing down on my tailbone really made me think it was going to crack, I saw myself fast-forwarded 12 hours and holding Jonah…and I realized that labor really was almost over, and I just had to put up with a bit more intensity and push past the pain and it really would all be over and I would be holding my son.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
Labor was not some horrific, pain-worse-than-death experience for me. It was painful, yes. But it was a totally manageable pain. A temporary pain. A pain with a beautiful purpose. A pain that drove me deeper inside myself than I’ve ever been, that made me realize the strength of my mind and spirit…and the strength of my physical body. I don’t want to be in labor every day, that’s for sure. But would I do it again in a heartbeat? Heck yeah. Labor wasn’t easy, but it also wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it might be. And again, I have to thank my wonderful birth team for making it such a fantastic experience. For making me feel so loved and so empowered. Charlotte, Becca, Rachel, Chas, and Mark – you. are. AWESOME.
Natural Home Birth | Water Birth | Midwife | Doula | Atlanta | Georgia |
The next morning Mark and Jonah and I were snuggled up on our ComfySack. I had some hot cocoa, Mark had a cup of coffee, our kitties were curled up next to us, we were staring at our beautiful son…it was a perfect lazy morning with an impossibly perfect new family member…and I sat up and said, “OMG, if I had given birth in a hospital, we would still be there now!” It seemed so strange and… unnecessary. And just not at all how I would want to spend our first hours as a new family, with nurses bustling about and hospital smells and the like. And then I walked into Jonah’s room to change his diaper, and remembered giving birth there the night before. I can’t wait to tell him that he was born is his room. That his first experience outside the womb was of warm water, gentle hands, dim lights.
That he never had to leave his parents, that he wasn’t jostled by strangers or scrubbed or given shots or had goop put in his eyes. The people at our birth were people I knew. People I had seen for my prenatal care. Not some rotating group of doctors or midwives. My blood pressure was taken by the same woman who took it during my prenatal visits. Jonah was weighed and measured by the same woman who measured him every month of his gestation. Jonah was born surrounded by people who were excited to meet him, who had played a role in his growth and development up until his birthday. People I trusted. People who knew me, who knew my husband, who knew and respected our wishes for the type of birth and care we wanted to receive.
Few things in this world are perfect. Jonah’s birth .. it was. Perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.