Posts Tagged ‘doula’

A secret homebirth

November 5, 2008

Excerpted from Sheri Menelli’s book Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth. For more stories go to

A Secret Home Birth
By Gina Kennedy

MY HUSBAND ROB and I have three children, all born naturally. During our first pregnancy, we knew we wanted to have our baby naturally, but we had no one to turn to for support or advice. My mom could barely remember giving birth in the 1960s. She said she had been so drugged, she hardly knew her own name! In the 1980s, my older sister had a C-section because her baby was breech. She went on to have two VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean), but not without anesthesia. In speaking to other parents that we knew, we had not come across anyone who had a natural birth. It was frightening for me to realize that I was attempting to do something that had not been done by anyone familiar to me.

I began to read everything I could about natural childbirth. It may sound extreme, but in 1995, choosing to have a natural birth was a bit of a battle. My husband and I found that there was not much of a support system in place for women who wanted to give birth naturally; you had to work hard for it. We had to listen to our elders say, “Just take the drugs, why put yourself through all that pain?” They honestly believed that the drugs were harmless.

Today, a few clicks on the Internet will teach you that the drug in an epidural may be just a few molecules away from crack cocaine! We had to deal with many ignorant people who would ask us, “What is a midwife?” In the next sentence, they would be lecturing us on why we really should use a doctor to have a baby, when they didn’t even know that most midwives have more hours and training in birth than obstetricians.

Our first two children were born at a birth center in Pennsylvania, where the staff included midwives with an obstetrician on call who could assist if circumstances led you to deliver at the hospital across the street. It was a great facility, with four bedroom suites decorated much like a home. In the corner of each suite was a large tub for anyone who wanted to labor in warm water. In the lobby area, there was a nice living room with a full kitchen, a play area for children, and plenty of room for siblings and grandparents to be together while waiting for the arrival of their newest family member. They even had great flags that announced “It’s a Girl!” or “It’s a Boy!” for the proud siblings to display on a special pole outside the building. It was the perfect setting for us to birth our babies.
When it came time to have our third baby, we had just moved to New Jersey and found that there were no birth centers in the state at that time. We did our research and found a nearby practice of midwives who delivered at a local hospital. While living in Pennsylvania, we had not considered a home birth because the birth center was just perfect, and we were concerned that our home was too far away from the nearest hospital, should complications arise. While I always held the idea of a home birth in the back of my mind, Rob was uncomfortable with the idea. I never really pushed the issue, until we toured the hospital I was to give birth in.

During the hospital tour for expectant parents, I watched him raising his hand to ask questions about every detail of the tour. People were beginning to make faces. It seemed that Rob was perplexed by every other sentence that came out of the tour guide’s mouth! For example, he wanted to know why the babies were separated from the mother between the delivery room and recovery room. He was told it was a safety matter. The babies needed the heat of an incubator to stay warm while being transported from one room to another. Our first two babies stayed warm on my chest after they were born. They nursed and cuddled and never left my side. When my husband explained this and questioned their reasoning, they said that it was an insurance matter, and it would be unsafe for the baby to be held in the mother’s arms while they were transported from one room to another. Then came the question, why were we moving so much from room to room? Nothing made sense, and we sadly seemed to be the only ones on the tour who felt that way. We left the hospital tour disgusted. After our experiences at a birth center, we knew we could not possibly give birth there. At this point it didn’t take much to convince my husband that maybe we should reconsider a home birth, so I made an appointment with a local midwifery practice.

We met with two midwives, Gee Gee and Linda, to discuss whether we could be candidates for a home birth. By this time I was in my seventh month, so we needed to meet with the back-up obstetrician and have my medical records sent from the other midwifery practice. I was healthy and having a good pregnancy, and with two previous natural deliveries, it didn’t take much to deem me a suitable candidate for a home birth. We were very happy about our decision. It seemed as if a weight had been lifted. There were no more uneasy feelings and fears about whether the hospital staff would allow us the type of birth we wanted. We knew that the home birth would be the best for everyone in our family.

Unfortunately, we could not tell our parents about our home birth plans—they had been questioning our decision to use midwives since our first pregnancy. We were lectured constantly. “Shouldn’t you have a real doctor there?” Talk about not having support! Not only was there no one we could call on for advice about natural childbirth, everywhere we turned we found ourselves defending and explaining our choices. So we kept the big secret.

We pretended that we were still using the midwifery practice that delivered at the hospital, and we privately prepared our young children for the home birth.

My husband didn’t care who knew we were having a home birth, but I could not bear the thought of all the difficult conversations that I would inevitably find myself in. I just didn’t have the energy or attention to satisfy other people’s curiosity, or deal with their insecurity and lack of faith in nature. I much preferred to concentrate on preparing my two young children for the day they would witness a miracle. Our son was five years old, our daughter two and a half. Our midwives offered a library full of videos and books that we could take home and share with the children to help them prepare for the birth. Birth in the Squatting Position was by far their favorite video… they liked to see the placenta cthe floor! They kept asking me to rewind it, watching it over and over in amazement. It was one big science project for them.

We chose to have a water birth in our sunroom. This was also a big hit with our children, because the birthing tub looked just like a kiddy pool. Our midwife dropped it off at the house a few weeks before my due date, and from that point on we got many requests from the children to set up the pool. They were ready!

When the baby was ready, the contractions began on a weekday morning. I went about my usual business, taking my children to school and their other activities. By the afternoon, I was in labor. My husband came home to set up the tub. It came with a sterile liner that needed to be attached to the inside of the tub prior to filling it. I tried to relax on the hammock in my yard while Rob prepared our sunroom. When he came outside to check on me, something made me ask if he remembered to put in the sterile liner. He smiled and quickly headed back inside to empty the tub and start over.

A few weeks before this day, we had made the decision to let my older sister Michele in on the big secret so that she could be there to support us. We knew we could count on her, even though she had not experienced natural childbirth herself. She was someone who sincerely wished that she had, and was not the type of person who would question our decision. She arrived and helped bake a birthday cake (organic carrot!) with the children while I labored. I preferred to labor in the warm water of the tub, but got out a few times to let gravity help things along. It was a perfect labor. I used the buoyancy and warmth of the water to manage my pain, and I walked around a bit to help the labor progress.

My support team was amazing! The midwives used a Doppler to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, but they allowed me to labor naturally, without internal exams that could introduce or increase the chance of infection. My doula, Denise, held firm pressure on a point between my thumb and hand, and helped administer homeopathic remedies for labor that had been prescribed by our family homeopath. Even my five-year-old son, Robbie, held my hand during parts of the labor.

I remember telling myself during each contraction, “You won’t remember this pain.” That mantra had worked well for me during my previous labor, and it was true — I didn’t remember the pain. I kept thinking about holding my new baby. After a few hours, I felt a change in my contractions, a feeling similar to having to poop. Suddenly I was unaware of my surroundings. I was unaware that Denise had begun to take incredible photos of the birth. I was on my knees, leaning on the edge of the tub with my arms folded. GeeGee had placed a mirror on the bottom of the tub so that she could see what was going on without disturbing my comfortable position. Denise’s camera caught the reflection in the mirror, and you could see a dark shadow protruding… my baby’s head making its way out. I concentrated on keeping my breathing deep and slow. I remember Linda saying, “Keep it low,” which helped me moan through the pain in a productive way. Anytime my voice got high, it broke my concentration and my breathing became erratic.

It was dark outside, and the room was softly lit. My water broke during my first push, and my baby was born slowly through the next three contractions. I was not aware of whether or not my children were in the room, until I heard my daughter Erin’s sweet voice say, “Baby.” She was at the edge of the tub, watching as his head came out; then a pause; then his shoulders and waist came out; another pause…. He was floating with his arms out; then his legs followed, and with a hand from his dad, he floated up into my arms. Denise’s photos captured the entire sequence, as if it had been shot as a movie and then edited into freeze frames. It was such a gentle birth. The whole time, Robbie was at the edge of the tub taking pictures with his camera. Since Denise was also taking pictures, the back of Robbie’s head is in many of her photos. It is really funny to see the Mickey Mouse instamatic sticking out from the side of his head as he clicked away. He wanted to be the one to identify the sex, and when he took a look, he squealed, “A pee-pee, it’s a boy!”

I got out of the tub so that Molly could draw the cord blood for storage. Molly was a CNM associate who had asked to come along for the experience of drawing the cord blood. Stem cell storage was still so new at that time, and many midwives were not experienced with the practice.

My baby nursed immediately and then rested on my chest while we collected the cord blood. My children got impatient with me, asking, “Where’s the placenta?” The midwives laughed at how eager they were to see the placenta. The children took turns trying to cut the cord, and my husband helped their tiny hands manage the scissors. After I delivered the placenta, Linda took the children to the kitchen table for a “placenta show.” She taught them everything they could possibly want to know about it. Robbie took a whole roll of film of the placenta spread out in the middle of my kitchen table. We still have the pictures, all 36 of them.

After the newborn exam, we had our birthday party. Our children opened up their big brother and big sister gifts, and presented the baby with the gifts they had selected for him. We had birthday cake, took some more pictures, made some phone calls and went to bed. The next day my children went to school with Polaroid snapshots of themselves holding their new baby brother. At a parent-teacher conference a few months later, my son’s kindergarten teacher commented about the birth, wondering if his description had been a tall tale or not. It was not every day that a five year old came into her classroom announcing, “Mommy had a baby in the sunroom last night.”

Our children still love to talk about that night, and our little baby Liam, who is now three years old, loves to look at the photos and hear the story of his birth. We hope that through the photos and the telling of Liam’s birth story, our children will have a good foundation when it comes time for them to have their own children.

A Mother’s Guidance: You have to seek out the people who think like you. If you don’t have friends or relatives who have experienced natural childbirth, you will need to be very proactive to get the information and support you need. Some general advice: shop or browse at your local health-food store. You are likely to run into other pregnant women there. Start conversations. Ask other customers or the staff for recommendations for a good midwife or prenatal massage therapist. Seek out the information and support you need. Go to prenatal yoga classes. Make sure your childbirth preparation class is really geared towards natural birth. (We were surprised to find that the most famous course was not!) Go anywhere that you may find childbearing people who think like you! A natural birth is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your baby. It is something that requires dedication, faith in yourself, and a heartfelt desire to stay in tune with nature.

I came across a book called The American Way of Birth by Jessica Mitford. It was a compelling, historical overview of how birth had changed over the years in our country. I was amazed by how nothing in modern obstetrics seemed to support a natural birth. Many people our own age told us how they had to have a C-section because there was fetal distress or the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, and thank God for the doctor. We wanted to say, “Well, lying on your back can decrease oxygen to the baby, and that will cause some distress….” But we bit our tongues, seeing how inappropriate it would be to tell someone what they should have done. In fact, it would have been just as inappropriate as what they were doing to us, sharing their horror stories!

Know in your heart and mind that you can have the type of birth you want. Remember that women have been giving birth for years and years. If painkillers and interventions were always necessary, humankind would not exist! I recommend the following publications: Mind over Labor by Carl Jones, Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper, and Mothering magazine.

Additional Thoughts: If you are committed to attending a natural childbirth class, you may have to find one that is not associated with a hospital—an independent class. Hospital-affiliated educators are often not allowed to advocate for natural childbirth.

Gina Kennedy and her husband Rob live in Spring Lake, New Jersey, with their three children, Robbie, Erin and Liam. They run an indoor instructional basketball facility called Rebounds in Neptune, New Jersey. They spend summers in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, where they own a basketball camp that has been run by the Kennedy family for more than 40 years.


A Birth Story by Susan McClutchey

October 30, 2008

Cherishing Every Sensation

By Susan McClutchey

From the moment David and I dis­covered our pregnancy, we were awash in blissful excitement… tainted only by my fear of childbirth. After a lifetime of hearing birth horror stories, I was worried about how I would handle it. But at the same time, I didn’t understand why it should hurt. After all, pain is usually a way for our bodies to tell us something is wrong, yet pregnancy is a natural and healthy process. If Mother Nature provided us with only one way to (naturally) complete a preg­nancy, why would She make that one method painful?

With that question in mind, I began earnestly researching childbirth… and I soon found answers. The more I read, the more I realized that childbirth is not inherently painful. It is, however, extremely intense and can be overwhelming without proper preparation and support through labor. When a woman is unprepared for that intensity, she is likely to tense up and resist the process, which leads to pain.

Armed with a new understanding of childbirth, I found a course called HypnoBirthing that taught relaxation through self-hypnosis. My husband and I enjoyed the classes, but when they were over we still felt unprepared. Fortunately, we found supplemental resources on Armed with these wonderful techniques, we settled confidently into a routine of practicing our relaxation, and waited for the big day with eager anticipation instead of fear.

We didn’t have long to wait! Four days before our due date, our sweet little man came into the world and completely stole
our hearts.

I first began to suspect that labor was close when I noticed a little bloody show late one Friday night. The show was still present the next morning, and I was having easy little surges (that’s hypno-speak for contractions) every seven to ten minutes for the first several hours after I awoke. I was so excited to know labor was starting, but I tried to remain calm, knowing it could take awhile.

I wandered downstairs, had some breakfast and made brownies for the labor-and-delivery staff. By 9:30 a.m. the surges were four to five minutes apart, but still gentle. I knew I wasn’t making dramatic progress, so I just napped and relaxed, enjoying time with my husband.

When the surges intensified, David called our doula and she joined us by noon. We were all happy and a little giggly with excitement. In the midst of our mirth, David pulled out the video camera to get some funny footage of me struggling to put socks on feet I hadn’t seen in months. He turned the camera on our doula and asked her to tell the audience who she was and why she was there. Her dazed response: “Dude, I don’t know anything about babies… I just brought the pizza!” The jovial atmosphere helped to keep me relaxed, despite my excitement, and for the next few hours we just hung out, chatting and laughing, while I used the birthing ball and listened to my relaxation tapes.

To this point, I had been concentrating on staying relaxed and visualizing my cervix opening easily. In the beginning, I worked on using deep, relaxing breathing, but soon it just became second nature. I spent quite a lot of time on my birth ball (which was really a large exercise ball). When I felt a surge beginning, I would place my hands palm-up on my knees and try to release all tension from them. I found that if I kept my hands loose and free of tension, I would automatically relax my shoulders, and the rest of my body followed the trend. After doing this a few times I could feel a tingling sensation in my fingers, and would picture all the tension in my body flowing out of my fingertips. It wasn’t something that I practiced prior to labor, I just found myself doing it.

We continued to relax and joke and have a wonderful time while we waited for me to feel that I was making progress. My surges grew more frequent, about two to three minutes apart, and lasted well over a minute, sometimes peaking twice. The double peaks concerned my doula, making her wonder if the baby might be posterior. But thanks to my relaxation, the surges were still comfortable, despite the fact I was experiencing back labor. I knew I wasn’t very dilated, but with my strange pattern of surges and the fact that they were well under five minutes apart, I decided to go to the hospital and make sure that the baby was well. When I felt ready, I had a light snack and we headed to the hospital, elated with the prospect of finally meeting our first-born child and finding out if we would have a son or a daughter!

When we arrived at the hospital, we found that we had a full moon working against us. With occupants in every Labor-and-Delivery room, we found ourselves sequestered in a tiny triage cubicle. Monitoring confirmed the healthy, happy state of the baby, but despite strong and frequent surges, I had only dilated three centimeters. My bag of waters was protruding down the birth canal and was so taut that the baby couldn’t make any downward progress. This was the reason my dilation stalled at three centi­meters, and it was causing the back labor. The bag of waters had the baby pressed against my spine, unable to descend. This awkward situation caused a lot of pressure on my urethra, which inhibited urination, but the relaxation techniques kept me from agony. Using self-hypnosis, I was able to relax and stay comfortable.

We tried walking around to see if we could encourage my membranes to rupture. Occasionally we would have to stop so I could lean on the wall while the doula and David pushed on my hips during surges (what relief!), but the nurses kept coming over and trying to have conversations with me while I was con­cen­trating. This was so distracting that we decided to forgo the benefits of walking and head back to triage.

It sounds weird, but while I didn’t actually feel any pain, I was well aware of its existence. It seemed like my relaxation acted as a wall between me and the painful sensations that some women
experience during childbirth. If anything started to shake my concentration, I would feel a dark shadow looming over me, and I worried that it was the pain about to come crashing over me like a huge wave. Luckily, that thought always made me come up with another way to relax, and the shadow never reached me.

While in the triage area, we heard three women deliver in cubicles around us, but I was determined to hold out for a room! So we just continued the relaxation, concentrated on visualizations of my cervix softening and expanding, and endured the holding pattern. David rubbed my back and shoulders when I needed it and I continued listening to relaxation tapes. By this time my surges were continuous, with no down time in between, and I knew I wasn’t progressing. But David and our doula kept me calm and comfortable, and took turns pestering the staff for a room.

I continued using the birthing ball and taking walks to the bathroom. I guess I was being overly optimistic by going to the restroom all the time—I still couldn’t urinate. Eventually I reached the point where I needed to remain on my side with my eyes closed to stay relaxed. I hadn’t had a break between surges in a few hours, and it took all my concentration to stay calm. At some level I knew that I had every right to be frustrated by not having a room, but I just kept telling myself that I would be holding my baby very soon, so a few hours didn’t really matter. I found myself thinking about getting angry, then realizing the harm it would do, and consciously deciding to be patient.

Finally, around 10 p.m. we got a birthing room! Once we were settled in and had the lights turned down to a comfortable level, I knew my body needed my water to break in order to progress.

I discussed the situation with my doctor and we decided to intervene. It was the right thing to do, according to what my body was telling me. She broke my water just after 11:00 p.m. I remember being surprised by how warm the liquid felt when it came out, and somehow that warmth helped me relax even further. I was dilated to five centimeters, but after my water was broken I actually regressed to four centimeters. Again, I had the fleeting thought that I should be frustrated by my lack of progress, but decided such thoughts were not helpful and remained patient.

Having my water broken was a huge relief to my body, and I was lucky to experience a rest period when my surges were only occurring every five to seven minutes. I took that time to go into deeper relaxation, and I napped. With the membranes having released, the baby could finally move down. The pressure on my cervix really got things moving. When I awoke, I was in transition and things became more intense. I was having trouble staying calm, but David and the doula were miracle workers. They helped me regain control by telling me how well I was handling the surges, and reminding me that I was not going to experience anything more difficult than what I had already handled. (They also kicked out the rude anesthesiologist, who laughed at us when we declined an epidural and said to let him know when we needed him.)

By 12:30 a.m. I was dilated eight or nine centimeters. Only a few minutes later, I began feeling my body push with the surges and asked for the doctor. When she arrived, she confirmed that I was completely dilated and told me to push when I was ready. I was relieved to hear that—my body had already begun pushing without my consent!

When I shifted from my side into a sitting/reclined position, the surges stopped almost completely. I was in absolutely no discomfort and felt no surges, but since so many people were standing there watching me expectantly, I still put on a show of pushing from time to time. I felt like a stage actress who made a grand entrance in front of a full house and promptly forgot all her lines! Everyone was so fixated on me, and absolutely nothing was happening! It sounds silly now, but I was so embarrassed about not having any surges after asking for the doctor. I tried to discreetly use the technique of breathing the baby down when I
wasn’t actively pushing. Despite my being ridiculous and trying to do it without anyone noticing, it worked! The baby was nearly crowning, but I wasn’t working with my body anymore. I was annoyed that I had to do all the work, since I wasn’t having surges to help things along. I finally asked to roll onto my side again, and instantly relaxed into a wonderful surge that brought the baby to crowning without any work on my part.

I rolled right back and started pushing with gusto. I loved this stage! Prior to the birth, I had done perineal massage while using relaxation techniques, and visualized crushed ice coming down before the baby’s head, cooling and soothing everything before it stretched around him. As a result, the pushing felt
wonderful and the smooth warmth of my son’s face and body emerging from me felt like a massaging caress. I could feel every magical little detail of him as he moved through and out of me. I marveled at the sweet warmth of his skin against my birth canal and cherished every sensation. It seemed as though the entire world came to an expectant halt and nothing existed except those of us in the room. Everyone responded to the sacred but joyful feel of those moments by using hushed tones to give me quiet encouragement and exclaim over the beauty of the event.

Our beautiful son Luke emerged peacefully into the dimly lit room and was passed immediately into my hands, where he lay while my husband checked to see his gender. The cord was very short, so he stayed on my stomach for several minutes until it stopped pulsating and we cut it. His brow was furrowed as he peered back and forth from my face to David’s with a look of both concern and interest. He had no interest in anyone else in the room, and the three of us just gazed at each other in awe as David and I told him how happy we were to meet him. From that moment we were so utterly in love with him that we could barely breathe as the weight of that devotion settled into our hearts. I will never forget the feeling of his warm little body in my hands and my surprise at how clean and soft he felt. I had braced myself for him to be slimy and bloody, but he was soft and clean and perfect.

Despite 19 hours of labor, I felt ready to run a marathon. Before I even delivered the placenta, I told David that I was looking forward to giving birth again—our doctor nearly fell over with shock! Both my doctor and doula said they had never seen a more serene and beautiful birth. Nurses from throughout the ward came by to discuss the hypnosis techniques we used. Apparently we were the talk of Labor & Delivery all weekend, and I like to think that hypnosis for birthing will be taken more seriously there in the future.

I had no soreness or aching whatsoever after the birth, never needing so much as an aspirin. I loved my pregnancy, but the joy of those 40 weeks pales in comparison to the exhilaration of Luke’s birth!

A Mother’s Guidance: We worked hard to create a wonderful birth experience. The HypnoBirthing classes, supplemented by tapes from the Hypnobabies website, were invaluable tools for us. Since our first pregnancy, we have made it our mission to let the pregnant women we meet know that they have options—that birth doesn’t have to be a painful, drugged and medically-controlled experience. We are currently expecting our second child and are using the Hypnobabies course exclusively this time.

Additional Thoughts: It really is possible—a pain-free labor with an orgasmic pushing stage. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin can provide additional information on releasing the fear of pushing.

Susan McClutchey is a chemical engineer and her husband is currently a stay-at-home father. He also acts and does development work for local theaters and charity organizations.

Excerpted from Journey into Motherhood: Inspirational Stories of Natural Birth by Sheri Menelli

More Baby Birth Stories

October 29, 2008

A Love Letter

by Anna Stewart

Listen, my child, I have a story to tell you. On the day you were born, my whole body smiled.

The morning of your birth day, I got up about 8 a.m., had a bowl of shredded wheat and orange juice for breakfast, and read the newspaper. My friend Sue called at 9:30. I told her I was tired of waiting for you to be born.

I hung up and tried to sit down on the couch again, but I was too uncomfortable. I was feeling cramping and pressure low in my pelvis. So I walked around the house, feeling restless. The cramping got more intense in just a matter of minutes. I called your dad at 9:50. “I think I’m in labor,” I told him, “but I’m not sure. I’m going to take a bath so why don’t you finish up whatever you’re doing and come home.” I sounded calm but then I started to cry. I felt strange—lightheaded, flushed. Dad was home in 10 minutes. He found me leaning against the shower wall, the hot water massaging my back.

Before Dad got home, I talked to you. I said, “OK Kyle, this is it. We’re going to birth you now. You tell me if there’s anything I need to know. We’ll do this together, gently, easily. I love you so much. I can’t wait to meet you and hold you in my arms.” I know you heard me. Do you remember?

My uterus was squeezing you down into the birth canal, hugging you tightly, pushing you down firmly and softly. My contractions were two minutes apart, each lasting about 30 seconds. Dad changed his clothes and called our birth assistant, Alice, between contractions. I wanted him close to me during them. I got out of the shower and walked around the house between contractions. It was hard work but I felt exhilarated, energized, excited.

Alice got to our house at about 11 a.m. and watched me through a few contractions. I was focusing on relaxing and keeping my voice low. Alice asked me if I was nauseous. I was. She said, “I think you’re in transition. We had better go to the hospital.” It hadn’t occurred to me that I would have to go anywhere. I was fully concentrating on our belly hugs.

Dad drove to the hospital in a hurry, arriving in six minutes. I was trying to hang on in the back seat as he changed lanes. I didn’t want to sit down. At the corner of Broadway and Arapahoe, I cried out, “I feel his head. I think he’s coming.” You were moving down the birth canal, gently and easily, just like we’d talked about. Dad was worried you’d be born in the car!

Dad stopped in the emergency entrance. I closed the car door and tried to walk to the maternity wing, but I only got about 20 feet before another contraction took over. I leaned on the pay phones in the lobby and moaned loudly. Heads popped out of doorways all down the hall. A nurse nudged me into a wheelchair and rushed me to the maternity ward.

When I was ready, the nurse checked my cervix. I was completely dilated. She wanted me to start pushing you out, but it wasn’t time yet. Dad put on the CD I had been listening to at home, Ocean Dreams. You and I had listened to it many times as we rested and prepared for this moment.

At one point when I was pushing hard, working with you, squeezing Dad’s hands, I noticed Dad was crying. “What is it?” I asked him. He could barely speak. I kissed him. “We’re about to have a baby. Our baby,” he whispered. That was the moment he fell in love with you. He hadn’t seen you yet but he knew he loved you as much as anyone can love someone.

Slowly, the top of your head emerged. Dad could see your black hair. My body stretched big enough so your head could pass through. You were born at 12:54 p.m. on Friday, October 7th. You started breathing right away and making little noises. Finally, I got to hold you in my arms. I was so happy… my whole body smiled. I whispered in your open, curving ear, “Welcome Kyle. Welcome to the world. Welcome to your family. We are so glad you’re here.”

A Mother’s Guidance: Practice surrendering by breathing and relaxing to music, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy when the reality of impending birth is coursing through you. I took an independent/alternative birth class and read tons of books, especially other women’s birth stories. At that time, one of my favorite books was A Good Birth, A Safe Birth by Diane Korte and Roberta Scaer. I also like Penny Simkin’s book, The Birth Partner. Having a doula made a huge difference, both prenatally, because I could talk more about my feelings than I could with my OB, and during the birth. A doula reinforced the belief that birth is natural, and helped me stay centered and not get lost in the hospital environment. I also “daydreamed” a lot by meditating to the same ocean sound track that I used in my birth.

Additional Thoughts: Before your child is born, write out your vision for an ideal birth. Writing down your intentions will help your mind and body to manifest that. Then let go of that plan, so you are holding no expectations. If you can think of your contractions as belly hugs or bear hugs, you will perceive those sensations as something more pleasant.

Doulas are a wonderful addition to your birth team; they provide great emotional support, and so much more. There are two large organizations that certify doulas: Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators ( and Doulas of North America ( Interview at least three doulas, and choose the one that both you and your parenting partner feel most comfortable with.

Anna Stewart reads this story to her first-born on his birthday every year. They live in Colorado, along with her husband and two other children. She has published over 250 articles, essays, columns and reviews, and is currently marketing two books for publication. She can be reached through