rhiona and ricky’s birth story

i read this awesome story in my inbox recently and went to respond to the mama by saying “holy cow! that sounds aaahhhhmazing!” it’s extra awesome when first time parents have amazing births- i think it sets families up for health in many, many ways.

rhiona and ricky took my essentials for childbirth class and are a super fun couple. we have mutual friends, which is how they came to find my class, and i am so thankful they did! we wanted to work out a doula situation as well, but our little fam was heading on a trip to sri lanka (i know…right?!) right around her guess date- so i got them set up with a sweet sweet awesome doula friend of mine, alisa okamoto. her care provider is super loved in our community and we are really thankful to have a care provider like Dr Damon Cobb here! ENJOY this beautiful story, told by rhiona to her sweet little dash.

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Cliff Notes Version: perfect birth and so grateful 🙂

                                                            Dear Dash,

It was Wednesday July 9th at 10pm when I decided we needed to go for a walk on Moonlight  beach to try and get you moving out. My due date was Monday July 7th, but I kind of wanted to keep you in my belly forever so I hadn’t done much (or anything really) to help you come out. It was an emotional walk because I felt you were coming soon and I knew I needed to be ok with that. Walking on the beach has a way of releasing emotions for me. I wasn’t scared to birth you necessarily, I just felt like pregnancy had zoomed by. I wanted more time with you so close to me. There were only a few other people on the beach; it was very dark and the cool crisp air felt so nice. The waves crashing calmed my mind. We walked a while and then I made your daddy take a picture of my belly before we got in the car to go home. I’m so glad we have that photo to remember our night because it turns out you were ready to meet us way faster than I thought. It’s the last photo of you in my belly and I will cherish it forever. We went home and around midnight I went to the bathroom and had blood. I was so excited, nervous, shocked! I was skeptical I was in labor, but it kept coming and it was pretty evident I had lost my mucus plug. I texted my doula, Alisa, and she of course told me to sleep if I could. Ha! That wasn’t happening even if I wanted it to! I had an overwhelming feeling of anxiety pass through after I realized this really was active labor. I kind of wanted it to stop. I think I told your dad “I’m not ready. I don’t know if my body can handle labor.” I was afraid. Majorly. He went to sleep and tried to make me do the same. I laid in bed wide awake and a little terrified. At this point the surges weren’t really surges. My back would just kind of tense up and have a little ache every 20 minutes or so. All through the night it continued getting closer and closer. At some point in the dark of the night I started to feel more calm and in control, or was it that I was not in control?! I let my body take control and do it’s own thing. I guess I just took control of my thoughts. I was surprised I never even shut my eyes but morning had now come. Morning changed things. I knew I needed to shower, so I did that. Things slowed down a bit after moving around and showering. I thought I could get a nap in, so I choked down a bowl of oats and laid back into bed. I tried so hard to rest, but things just kept progressing! It felt very rapid. I quickly found that being on my hands and knees was my position, as it just made me feel the best. I was starting to get nauseous and I remember not liking it. I felt like I could handle the surges with ease, but the nausea was so annoying- totally cramped my style. By 11am your dad decided to call the doula to come over because he thought things were getting serious. I thought he was being silly but didn’t have the words to express this, so really, he was right. Ha. My surges weren’t that regular or consistent. They were kind of all over the place the entire labor. Sometimes they were many minutes apart and sometimes seconds apart. They were also quite long. I had a few 4 minute long ones and lots of 3 minute ones, which was super weird. When Alisa arrived, things slowed down a little. Alisa had me try smelling peppermint oil, while laying on my side leaning my leg off the bed to start things going. I wanted to kill her. 🙂 Whew, those surges felt strong. Crazy how positioning can change things so fast! I continued laboring until around 3 or so. We weren’t that sure how far along I was because of the inconsistency, so Alisa suggested going to Dr.Cobb’s office to get checked. I then started getting back to back surges. We decided to just drive straight to the hospital, and quick. In the back of my head I was slightly bummed that we were going to the hospital “so soon”. Looking back, this is hilarious to me. If we didn’t have a doula I probably would have accidentally birthed you at home. Oh, the car ride. I had dreaded this. We live in Encinitas and the hospital was in Poway. That’s a bit far when you are deep into labor! Things got very intense for me while in the car. I closed my eyes the entire time. I pulled down hard on the handle above the window with each surge. It was a great release. I also pounded my hands on the roof of the car with some surges. The car ride is also where I first started what your dad calls my “yeti call”. Lots of strange sounds were coming out and I just had to let them. Looking back I now know I was transitioning. In the car. Joy! The car ride apparently took 30 minutes, but labor does weird things to your concept of time! Your dad kept saying “we are almost there” and then “I can see the hospital!”. My eyes were still shut, but this was slightly annoying to me because I knew we were still far…that is, until I actually felt the familiar speed bumps in the parking lot. I opened my eyes and saw we were there and couldn’t believe it. It felt like he did a magic trick. The car ride felt like 5-10 minutes at most to me. Alisa came and got our car to go park it while daddy and I walked into the hospital. It was a slow walk with a few breaks to ride out the surges. We got into the elevator and rode up to the fifth floor, the birthing floor. As soon as we got out of the elevator and onto the floor I took a step or two and threw up all over. “Hey guys, I have arrived, and look! I am ready! Sorry about the mess.” We walked to the nurses station and they just walked me right into a room…and gave me a barf bag. We met our nurse, Diane. She said she needed to check me. I was nervous because I had never been checked for dilation and was told it would hurt a bit. It didn’t hurt and I was EIGHT centimeters. I smiled so, so big. I knew I would have to get the standard IV or at least a saline lock next, but didn’t really want one. Nurse Diane came in and said I didn’t need either and I proceeded to give her a high five (I really just wanted to kiss her) while telling her how much I liked her. It was just a little thing, but for some reason being completely free of that was important to me. So far things were off to a great start! Nurse Diane was supportive and amazing and gave me so much peace because of that. I felt in control of my birth. She monitored you with a fetal monitor for a bit. It wasn’t really working well, but we could see you were well, so she let me get in the tub. She trusted my body and I loved her for it. From this point until you came out, my eyes pretty much remained shut. It helped me to stay connected to my body, your teeny body, and the great work we were doing together. We were in our own little world. The tub felt really nice. I was in there for a long while and I wish I could have just birthed you in there. I was starting to feel an urge to push. I said “push, push, pushy, pushing” a lot and that’s when I realized I had lost my mind. 🙂 The nurse called Dr.Cobb who was finishing up appointments at his office. He wanted me to get checked again to see how close I was. This meant I had to get out of the tub, which was no small feat. I tried and failed, a lot. Like a real lot. Somewhere in there, my water broke. I have no idea how long I tried to get out of that tub but it must have taken at least an hour. I may have used a bad word or two, but my lovely Alisa just said “I knoooow Rhiona.” I told Alisa that I just needed some help and she started saying encouraging things about how I didn’t need the help, I was strong, etc. That’s when I said “No, just help me out of this tub.” Haha. I finally get out of the tub and make it a step or two but end up on the floor on my hands and knees. I needed something to lean on and your daddy got right down on the nasty hospital floor with me to support my head. I have never loved or needed your daddy more in my life. I gently rubbed my face into his neck and it felt so wonderful. I hadn’t pictured needing him like this, but I so did, and here he was. After a bit, Dr. Cobb arrived and I only knew it because I happened to open my eyes and see two man-sized bright red Nike shoes. That Dr.Cobb is so fancy. I eventually make it to the bed to be checked, what a journey it was to get there! Dr.Cobb asked if I wanted to know where I was at and I said yes. I only had a little tiny lip left to open. I tried laboring on my hands and knees and I started to notice a very primal energy coming over my body. The yeti call was back! The grunts that came out of my mouth…I cannot explain. The nurse kept asking if I was pushing and I accidentally ignored her…every time. I wasn’t so much pushing, it was more of a bearing down and it felt very good and very right. Dr.Cobb came back and watched me for a bit before suggesting a new position. He tied a sheet to a squat bar and had me pull myself in as I pushed. Pushing and pulling felt like a great release, kind of similar to what I did in the car ride. After a while he suggested the stirrups. I was kind of against stirrups, but trusted him. I started more controlled pushing in sets of threes. I was amazed how strong the desire to push was. It was like a huge wave coming over my body. It continued to feel intense, but good. Slowly it started to feel more intense and then  for the first time in the entire labor process, I will say there was pain. But this was good pain, because then your head was suddenly out! The pain passed so quickly. Next, I felt lots of pressure and everything was just a blur because things got so intense and heavy. And then? You were on my chest!!! A big wet baby. You felt like a slippery fish 🙂 You were cute! Way cuter than I could have imagined! It felt unreal. I smiled so big and didn’t stop, no tears, just smiles. We did it! It felt like I had won the best prize ever (probably because I did!). I looked to my right and there was daddy, weeping in a new way I had never seen. You were here. You were ours. So pink, healthy, and BIG! On July 10th, at 8:22pm my 9lb 3oz baby boy, you became ours. Forever and ever. And ever.

Love,
Mom
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i get goosebumps every time i read this story! what a sweet entrance into the world for little dash, and what an amazing set of parents he has! thank you SO much rhiona and ricky for sharing this beautiful and encouraging story with us. love you three!

if you or anyone you know is in San Diego and is interested in childbirth preparation classes, or online childbirth classes, please feel free to check out my website for more info, along with doula support and placenta encapsulation information, and a small online shop for all kinds of birth/postpartum related goodies!

www.beautifulonebirthservices.com

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shay and kevin’s birth story

oh hey guys. i’m still here. slowly (like really, really slowly) getting back in the blogging groove. i wanted to start it out with a bang, and this sweet birth story from shay and kevin will do just that!

shay and kevin took my online essentials for childbirth preparation class (another blog post soon to reveal more about what those classes are all about!) when i first made them public in february. they live in arizona and are friends of friends, who both had crazy schedules. online classes were a perfect solution for them, so we connected and made it happen for them! here is the story of the birth of their little girl, jules.

hey kelly,

she’s here! jules was born 2 weeks ago weighing 9lbs 1oz and 21 in long. i was 41 weeks and 2 days when I had her. i never would have imagined i had that big of a baby inside me, but i guess knowing that kevin was 10lbs 3oz when he was born should have been a warning, right? !!! i wanted to thank you so much for the virtual classes we took, kevin felt super prepared with message techniques and positioning ideas to help me get comfortable, and i just focused on breathing the entire time. you were right though, it WAS my job to just breathe. when i focused on that, my surges weren’t insane. when i wasn’t focusing for whatever reason, i could feel it. that was motivation enough to start going inward and just realizing my one job was to breathe for me and for jules.

the story:

i woke up around 3am with a dull lower back ache and needed to use the bathroom. i had been having surges on and off all day prior, and i really did feel like tonight would be the night. but then i fell asleep and assumed it would be another day. as i was walking to the toilet my water started leaking (i thought i was peeing myself like you mentioned, but a gush happened soon after!). i was so excited labor was starting, and i got kevin up. he told me to go back to sleep, or at least get rest. so i put on a movie and “rested”- even though i was so excited. my surges weren’t intense yet, but i did have to breathe through them. around 7am kevin got up and made us breakfast. while he was cooking the eggs i had one HUGE surge that basically brought me to my knees. i had been surging consistently ever 5 minutes or so since 5am, but i was laboring just fine alone before he woke up. when this surge hit at around 7:45am i had been using him to help give me some hip relief and lower back relief too with some of those pressure skills you taught us. this one surge was so intense and out of the blue, and i started shaking a bit. i immediately thought, not only is this go time, it is GO time.

kevin grabbed our stuff, including our breakfast that he put in tupperware quickly, and we headed to the birth center. we live about 30 minutes from there with no traffic, thankfully it was a weekend morning so we didn’t have to deal with that. i began feeling like i needed to sway more deeply and moan more manly-like while we were in the car, which was hard to do swaying wise, but i was in the backseat grinding my hips around trying to find comfort amidst the bumps on the road. kevin was probably driving about 100mph on the way there. i had planned music for the car but we ended up listening to some 80s at 8 radio thing, which, by the way, it was kind of awesome to labor to “i’ll tumble for ya” : at the very least it made me laugh in the middle of my now super intense surges.  when i breathed i felt powerful over the surges, when i got caught up in the intensity, it felt like they owned me. it was crazy. i just kept telling myself to focus on breathing, that i could do anything for a minute, that i was going to get in the tub soon. i gave myself a pep talk as kevin said a few encouraging things, but i honestly don’t remember what those were. thanks though, kev!

we showed up to the birth center and it took me about 6 surges to get from the car to the room. slowly but surely. they checked my cervix when we got there. 9cms. WHAT?! i hadn’t been laboring that long, it was intense but i was managing it well enough, and i hadn’t gotten to the part where i was thinking “i can’t do this anymore!” i was so encouraged by this news i started laughing. yup, laughing at 9cms. who would have ever imagined me, who cries when i hit my funny bone, would have laughed during labor?

well, it wasn’t all fun and games. as i progressed i did feel a bit like “i can’t do this anymore” as i was at 9cms for 3 hours. let me tell you though, getting in the water was a godsend. i jumped (well, i didn’t jump, obviously) into the tub soon after we arrived and it was exactly like you had said- took the edge off and helped me find peace in the waiting. after those 3 hours of sitting in the tub and being in different positions in there, i felt something new. uggghhhh. i was bearing down. i couldn’t stop it. uggghhhhh. it felt good but intense but hard but wonderful all wrapped into one.

midwives came back into the bathroom to check what was happening after kevin yelled “i think shay is going to have this baby in here with no one to catch it. and i think i’ll drop it!!!” they encouraged me to put my hands between my legs. part of her head. oh dear Lord, relief yet intensity yet more relief. almost there. still bearing down and i couldn’t help it. my body just did it.

3 more of those and out she came! the moments when they pulled her up from the water and onto my chest went in slow motion. i think i was the highest i’ve ever been in my whole life (well, i’ve never been high on drugs, but i can imagine the birth high is a million times more addicting than any other drug). her placenta was stubborn and stayed in a long time, i eventually had to get out of the tub and birth it, which wasn’t hard i guess i just needed a new position.

your classes and encouragement were a huge part of our birth story, and will forever be a part of our family’s story. when i read in your “about me” that you believed in the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family i didn’t quite get it. but now i do. and i agree, it is powerful. thank you for preparing us well and giving us the tools and encouragement we needed to trust the process and alleviate my anxieties. i can imagine her birth would have looked a LOT different if i didn’t prepare in this way. thank you forever and ever.

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congratulations shay and kevin! such a beautiful story and a total encouragement to my soul to hear that you now see the power that a birthing story has in the life of a family. just so inspiring! thank you for your kind words about your experience with the online classes as well, great to have “my baby” be well received!

and i couldn’t agree more. that birth high. something else.

if you or anyone you know is interested in online natural childbirth preparation classes, or group classes in San Diego, please feel free to check out my website for this info, along with doula support and placenta encapsulation information, and a small online shop for all kinds of birth/postpartum related goodies!

www.beautifulonebirthservices.com

the birth of selah

okay, so here we go. i often share my students’ stories here, and i thought it was only appropriate to share selah’s story as well. it is one that rocked my heart in the best way possible, a story that lights my husband’s heart on fire..for birth, for me, for his children. it is one that really served to heal some previous hurts, and give me encouragement for the road ahead.

remember when i went on and on about my love for my chiropractors? well, on thursday september 12 i went in for one last adjustment, as i felt baby’s back was on my right side and i really wanted him/her to flip over into a more straightforward LOA position (oh the things birthy people know…). i left my adjustment feeling great and met my family for lunch. i felt baby shift over to LOA soon after lunch while i was walking to my car…little victories!! keaton went over to my mother in laws, as he does on thursday afternoons, and i came home. i napped and cleaned like a crazy person when i woke up. around 5ish i started feeling a little different- a little nauseous (i had been dealing with some third trimester nausea previously so assumed it was just that), and just a little off. i even texted my doula to tell her that i was hoping things would start to happen, only to later text her around 8:30ish that it was wishful thinking.  trevor got home from work late due to a work dinner, and keaton was dropped back off at our house around 8:30. he went right to sleep and i kissed him before i left his room…i kind of felt emotional leaving, as if i knew it would be the last time i would kiss him as my only child.

trevor turned on duck dynasty and i headed to lay down in bed and watch a movie on the ipad. we both needed to just zone out- him after a LONG week at work, and me because, well, i knew something was coming i guess. before i got into bed i brushed my hair (never happens! ha!), washed my face and put on a little makeup. what?! i got into the outfit i wanted to wear while laboring. i told myself i was jinxing myself, but i could not NOT do it.

around 9:45 i felt a pretty intense surge that wrapped around from my lower belly into my lower back. it wasn’t painful or anything, just really tight- even moreso than the other warm ups I’d been having. told myself not think about it and started watching my movie. about 5 minutes later i got up (to clean a little bit more in our closet, i couldn’t help myself!), and i felt a warm trickle down my leg. hmmm. peeing myself. great! i walked to the bathroom and bam. gush. definitely not peeing myself! this was exactly how keaton’s labor began, i was comforted by that in many ways. i knew it was time now finally, one way or another, we were gonna meet this babe. after LOTS of warming up in previous weeks, it was game time at 40w+4d (there was a huge part of me that knew i wanted my water to release as my first sign of labor, as i did with keaton, because i waited so long for keaton that i was nervous all of this warming up was going to mess with my head too much). trevor was stoked, i was stoked. we turned on some good tunes and just started talking. about the baby, about keaton, about life. i paused every like 5-8 mins or so and breathed through my surges, but they were honestly easy at that point. really tight, but nothing i couldn’t just focus on and breathe through.

i let my doula, midwives, and photographer know that my water had broken but that there was no rush for anything at that point- labor was in the early stages and was easy at this point…it would be a long night…right?! trevor tried to sleep (it was going to be a long night…right?!) and i just got comfy on my ball and got lost in the music that was playing. about an hour and a half later, my surges became more intense. still breathable and manageable, but i noticed a shift in how i was experiencing them…how i needed trevor to push on my back to alleviate the pressure. how i needed to make some deep noises to work through them. i was doing it and handling it just fine, but it was new. i let my doula know, and apparently she knew more than i did- we told her it would be too early to come to us, but she listened to me and read between the lines…she was going to come by and say hi. she told us to call the midwives to tell them the same. the midwives said they were on their way too…i almost felt bad, since honestly i felt like i was so early in labor that they would be missing out on a night of sleep by coming to me. i labored on the birth ball, leaning over our bathroom sink, and leaning over our dining room table (which happens to be outside on our covered patio…it was a beautiful night and laboring outside felt great).

funny being on this end of a birthing mama instead of the doula end.

everyone showed up around midnight, and we decided to call our photographer a bit after that because i was finally at the point where i felt like i was in “active labor.” my doula has the sweetest voice and i just focused on her telling me to keep  breathing, to let the last one go. she was exactly what i needed. trevor was the muscle of the operation- pushing on my back and eventually into my hips for each surge while i swayed back and forth, gently moaning with each tightening. jenna was the sweet voice i needed at the moment i needed it. it was exactly what i wanted it to be.

i had some music going in the background and had some cards with scripture written on them out for me to read. amazing how many worship songs and how much of scripture talks about surrender. these were the good words that i needed to keep surrendering to God, to the process…to stay calm, to trust.

the midwives wanted to check me around 12:35ish, just to see what kind of progress i was making. i really REALLY didn’t want to lay down on my back, but made it to my side on our bed and felt a bit better. i remembered then how much i really don’t like those checks. no fun! but, good news. i was 8cm and totally soft. what?! labor only really just began?! it wasn’t THAT hard, certainly not transition kind of work quite yet. 8cm. let’s fill the birth tub up with water! yes, perfect idea. my tub was pretty deep (too deep!), and would take a while to fill up, but we started filling it then and i was encouraged to go sit on the toilet or labor in the shower till it would be ready. i thought in my head- i bet i have about an hour more of labor before meeting our baby. totally could handle that, then totally didn’t expect what came next! literally minutes after being checked and being 8cm, i needed to push. i hadn’t made it to the toilet (thank goodness!) and knew, with that instinct, there was no way i was going to make it in the tub. i grabbed onto my doula and bore down with my breath. one good moaning downwards and i felt that all familiar burning/opening. wait, baby?! already?! no no, that’s crazy talk. i remember thinking, perhaps even saying, “you guys don’t understand!” … i felt like they didn’t understand what i was feeling (they did), or that the baby was coming (they did).

my body took over and i went along for the ride. i instinctually climbed onto my bed on hands and knees. welp, there’s part of baby’s head! that natural expulsive reflex came and went, giving me breathers in between. baby popped back in once i got on my hands and knees and i made my way down to laying down on my side on our bed and that little rotation was exactly what baby needed. baby was popping right out, even with a hand up near his/her chin. i was so hot. so so hot. i was wearing a headband (that i thought would look SO cute. haha!), and i threw that off and my doula got me a cold washcloth. ohhh the sweetest of all sweet reliefs.  i kept trying to close my legs, even though i knew i wanted to be as open as possible…shout out to the midwives/their apprentice for dealing with my leg! haha! my breathing got off and i kind of “lost it” slightly at this point- but got it right back when i was reminded of the fact that i was safe, that baby was here, that i just needed to breath. i caught my breath again and had such a sweet moment of trust. i closed my eyes for one final encouragement for baby to come out, only to realize that baby was just about to. trevor kept telling me “open your eyes, you need to see this!!,” our eyes met and his face was beaming. my midwife encouraged me to bring my hands down to lift up my baby onto my chest. what a feeling- that little slippery, tiny, warm body making its way out of my body and into the world and into mommy’s hands. unparalleled honestly. i tried to bring baby up to my chest and was met with a very short cord.

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i laid baby on my belly and just stared. in awe. we had a baby. already. i was just barely laboring?! and baby is here now?! what?! on our bed?! in our house?! while keaton sleeps?! it all started to settle in.

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i looked at baby’s sweet face and my GOODNESS was it keaton’s twin (just fewer chins!!). baby didn’t even cry. not for quite a while. baby just breathed slowly, the thick umbilical cord still pulsing and helping, and baby just looked into my eyes and looked around. so mellow, so chill. taking it all in. our eyes caught each others’ for about 15 seconds straight, and as i talked to baby, her (we didn’t know she was a she yet!) eyes got wider and breathing got more rhythmic. this was the type of birth i dreamed of  and prayed for for my baby. gentle, loving, dimly lit, warm, hands off, and surrounded by safety. 12:47am, september 13. about 2 hours and 45 mins after labor began. only about an hour after feeling like i was actually truly really actively laboring.

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i labored so quickly and unexpectedly that our photographer (Labor of Love Photography. Amazing captures, right?!) came literally as baby was being born. for a moment i felt bad about not calling her earlier, but then it was exactly what it was meant to be- and i never ever would have guess in a thousand years that i would have gone that fast, or been that far along, so there was no reason to call earlier. but praise God she made it then, as she captured some of the sweetest moments of our entire life- meeting our little one.

we spent time oohing and aahing over baby, talking about how quickly that went, and just cuddling with our babe. we realized about 10 minutes after the birth that we had no idea if we had a girl or boy! what?! trevor lifted up the blanket we had over her and stared for a little bit. “it’s a boy!!” oh wow, a brother for keaton! how exciting! and then cue some silence from the midwives…ummm…you might want to look a little more closely. trevor lifted up the blanket again. “what? i can’t really tell!” haha. it was dark, things are swollen, the cord was still attached…eventually he put it all together. a girl! a GIRL!! keaton knew from the moment we told him he was going to be a big brother that he was going to have a little sister. he just knew.

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i tore a bit and had to be stitched up after my placenta finally decided to come on out…not my favorite thing in the world. honestly even after i just birthed a big baby, the stitching was…bleah. selah’s hand was up near her chin and i think that’s what did it, that and the fact that she just powered her way outta there! but there wasn’t that much to be mended and it was over quickly and it healed really easily, i was really not uncomfortable at all afterwards, and no swelling at all. score.

i got up to pee and was encouraged that all was well. haha.

our midwives and doula cleaned up, made me some food (almond butter on toast never tasted so good!!), and were just such an encouragement. as they began to pack up i realized something…i just had a baby. on our bed. and now i get to sleep in that bed. with that baby. with my husband. and be comfortable. it was a glorious thought. it was a glorious reality.

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as everyone started to leave a couple hours after the birth, our sweet doula stayed to pray with us. we thanked God for His provision, for His goodness, for our sweet daughter. it was one of my favorite moments to thank God for His willingness to provide this desire of our hearts to not only have a home birth but have a healthy, happy little one.

we got to sleep in our beds with our little girl, working on breastfeeding again (so different since i was so used to nursing a toddler last time i did it!!). trevor and selah slept, but i was on a high. the oxytocin flowing in that room was unparalleled, and i was just riding along with it. i went in and out of sleeping a little bit that first night, but didn’t really get to sleep till the following night. birth high, i tell ya.

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keaton came into our room the next morning as he always does and was met with his baby sister. what a moment! he climbed into bed with us and was amazed at all of baby’s little features. “baby has hands!! and eyes!! look at baby’s ears!! and nose!! wowwww!!”

trevor made us all breakfast, and we just hung out until we were ready to tell our family later in the day that we were ready for them. it was exactly what we wanted.

this story of selah’s quick entrance into our lives is one that we treasure greatly. it not only served to remind me of how inviting God purposefully into our experiences is such a sacred thing, but it reminded me of the sanctity of life and how precious the first moments of a new life truly are- to that baby, and to that entire family. it reminded me of why i do the work i do. it reminded me of why i have such a heart for women all over the world.

thanks for reading our selah girl’s story!

for more info in our super fabulous birth team:

doula: Jenna Anderson

 midwives: San Diego Midwife

photographer: Labor of Love Birth Photography

…the reveal…

hello, my friends!

my last update was around 38 weeks, and this update is comin’ atcha 11 days postpartum. yes, that is right…i went and had me a baby! my birth story will be coming soon, but suffice to say it was an incredible, intense, calm, beautiful entrance into the world for our baby. and in the comfort of our own home, to boot.

the details:

1176107_636718539701596_1031206520_nit’s a GIRL

selah. {“say-lah”}

1175257_636718833034900_630744423_n9lbs even.

2 hours and 45 minutes of labor, born at 12:47am on our bed (too fast to fill the tub up).

1176108_636719039701546_602195496_na beautiful baby girl and a beaming older brother (who now, at 11 days postpartum, is realizing this new baby is actually staying. and he’s not 100% sure how he feels about it)

1186124_637451239628326_2077656982_n

1240602_641654679188609_341738394_nphotography by Labor of Love Photography and Petula Pea.

lots of love from our family of four,

kelly ❤

carly’s birth story

it’s been a while since i rocked a birth story on the blog, and i thought now was a lovely time to grace y’all’s hearts with a sweet story of how a little lady was welcomed into the world in a calm, confident, and really beautiful way. carly and her husband joe took my classes in the spring, finishing the class ON carly’s guess date, and their little lady annikah decided it was time to say hello to the world the following morning! enjoy!

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kelly!! i was already planning to write to you today to thank you for an incredible class and a really beautiful bonding time between my husband and i over the last 5 weeks. we especially loved the labor run through last night…and i say “especially” because…well…we actually put that into use later last night night into the early morning hours today, welcoming our daughter annikah naturally into the world this morning at 9:07am!

as a quick overview, once we got home from class we were in such a good mood. joe kept telling my baby “come out soon, i don’t want to forget what to do!”

i took a shower and got settled in to watch my tivo’d “conan” and i started feeling some light surging. i assumed it was just some warm ups and went about my giggling and ice cream eating. the “warm ups” were coming every 5 minutes or so once i realized they were still happening, but they were super mild in sensation so, again, on with the giggling and tivo watching. about an hour later when we were on our second episode, conan was doing a skit about basketball player wives (it was so stupid but so funny. in case you can’t guess, i have a celebrity crush on him!) and i was cracking up. and then i felt all warm and watery. “oh great, carly, you peed yourself” i thought. i stood up, joe and i now cracking up that i had peed myself, and a larger gush came out from underneath my nightgown. we both kind of stopped laughing, looked at one another, and joe said “oh, it’s on!” we both knew it was my water that had broken, and my surges IMMEDIATELY felt more intense and were making my back feel achey. good thing we we went through that counter pressure just a couple hours before, because joe was on counter pressure duty for the night/into the morning on my lower back. it made it all so much more manageable!

with every surge my back ached. it wasn’t like a terrible pain, it was just as if i didn’t feel anything happening in my uterus, only tightness and pressure in my low back that went away when i wasn’t in a surge. honestly, the first about 6 hours of my 9 hour labor were really not that bad. every 3-4 minutes i’d have some back achey annoyingness that i really had to focus to get through, and then we had time in between to sway, cuddle, choose a new position, go to the bathroom, etc. it really was such a blessing to have just had that run through in class, it was all so fresh and i felt so confident.

this went on for hours, and eventually i hit a point where i looked at joe, who was being so awesome trying to be so present and calm and loving, and said “get me to the hospital now. i literally feel like my face is on fire, i keep pooping. honestly. this seriously sucks. and i feel like such a mess.” joe was a little surprised since i had been relatively quiet so far in my labor, and those low noises we talked about/practiced in class started coming out. apparently joe texted his brother at this point “it REALLY is on now.” we both knew i was transitioning and i was just really uncomfortable. i wanted something new. i wanted this baby out. again, it wasn’t like it was an out of control pain or anything, just so ridiculously exhausting to focus for that long. you know what i mean?

we got to the hospital and i was 8cm. victory! check in was really easy, much easier than i thought, and the nurse who we got assigned was really hands off and very sweet. she got us a few wet wash cloths for my forehead and neck. sweet woman. i labored for 2 more hours before i really felt any kind of actual urge to push, even though i was 10cm after the first hour there. my doctor and nurses told me that they’d wait a while before “coaching” me to push in case i never felt the urge. that urge finally came though. and it was exactly like you described. i couldn’t resist it, so i just gave into it. i breathed and made crazy manly noises like i never had before, and bore down with everything i had, exactly what my body was telling me to do. the nurses said they were surprised that she was moving down as well as she was given the fact that i was still technically breathing while pushing. thinking back on it i thought that was really cool.

i hate to be “that girl” but the actual giving birth part felt kind of good. not like i want to do it all the time kind of good, but such a welcome relief from my back aches and intensity and just not knowing what my cervix was doing. i felt more in control. and i felt my baby’s head. i was on my side when pushing and it seemed like a pretty good position for me. i imagined being squatting or something, but after being up all night i really just wanted to lay down.

crowning was…not as good of a feeling. but it didn’t last for long. she was positioned normally for birth (i thought maybe she was sunny side up from all the back discomfort?), and once her head really popped out, her shoulders and body just sort of slid out. i tore a bit but nothing major.  my placenta took a while to detach and they gave me a shot of pitocin after birth to help with all that, which i wasn’t a huge fan of but i wasn’t super opposed to either, especially in that moment when i kind of didn’t care about anything else but being with annikah and joe.

i got to be with my baby for about 2 hours before i realized they hadn’t weighed her or anything yet. i loved the feeling of her squirming around on my chest, her lusty cries, and her little wide open eyes that were staring intently into mine as if to say “oh, there you are! that’s what you look like!” i was on a high for quite some time. so was joe. i actually think i still am. i meant to write you like 5 sentences and look where we are. talk about a man who was proud of his wife, joe has been loving on me so hard today, and if you aren’t friends with him on facebook you should be, his status updates about the labor are hilarious. i’m so proud of him, too. he handled everything so well and with such patience and (even if it was a front) confidence.

thank you a million times over for the class. without it i seriously doubt we would have welcome annikah into our lives in the way we did. it was life changing. i can see why you do what you do. it really does change you, and i can feel that already. i love her. i love joe. we love you!

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carly and joe!! congratulations on the birth of your sweet little annikah! i’m so thankful that our time together was fruitful and that you took a lot of great tools with you into the birth. i CAN’T BELIEVE you went into labor right after class, what perfect timing! i so appreciate you sharing your story with me and with all of us. it was beautiful to read, and i swear i could sense the oxytocin just oozing out of your writing!! lots of love! talk soon!

if you are interested in learning more about preparing for an awesome birthing experience, please contact me on my business site: Beautiful One Birth Services!

thoughts on classes, career, and carrots

i alluded in my last post that i am making some shifts to the classes i am teaching currently. i think what i actually meant to say is that the classes are staying exactly as i have been teaching them for months and months now (with always the added info, tidbit, research, tool, etc that i am picking up along the way), just a new name since, well, i needed to be honest.

the HypnoBirthing Institute has pretty set guidelines on how they want their instructors to teach. their syllabus is relatively firm. they want acknowledgement that you are following consistently those guidelines, teaching their principles, etc. i love the emphases on relaxation and how just the simple knowledge of what is happening in your body is pretty perspective-altering…and labor-altering in HypnoBirthing. but, there’s a lot about HypnoBirthing i just decided i wouldn’t teach because i don’t believe it, or i wasn’t seeing it being helpful with my doula clients (and, in some cases, have seen tenants of HypnoBirthing being counterproductive to some moms in labor depending on how it was taught or how it was read/interpreted). i refused to only show their videos because it was just moms laying still in hospital beds, quietly breathing and pop! out comes baby!  (i remember in the midst of my own birth wondering why i couldn’t stay still, and why i couldn’t be totally quiet towards the end…was i not doing it right?!, i questioned my husband). i also started adding a lot because there was a lot missing from what i personally wanted to convey to expectant parents, so other things got cut.  i wasn’t covering certain things the way the book was because it was unrealistic/confusing (so i don’t need to do any work at all, the baby just moves down while i breathe ever so slightly? perfect!), or perhaps just not supported by research (anymore?! i don’t know if it was when the book was actually published though). i found myself saying “well yeah, the book says this, but…” so, suffice to say, i kept a lot of the groundwork, but began to build a different house. a useful house, a well rounded house, but a different house. i have a lot of respect for the HypnoBirthing method itself, i am just saying that for me personally…i realized slowly but surely how different my house was beginning to look from my original syllabus and how many outside resources i was pulling from, and soon began to realize that i was promoting a method class by name, but a personally-built-with-love class in product.

that started to really not sit right with me, and when an email came from the Institute saying that we needed to sign something saying that we were teaching in line with the syllabus, principles, etc fully…i just knew i couldn’t sign it. not because i don’t like HypnoBirthing, but because, again, the class that i love teaching is not straight HypnoBirthing, it’s a mashup of a ton of different things from HypnoBirthing, Bradley, ICEA education, to doula tips, to postpartum health, etc. I am not cool with not being straightforward and honest, and i felt like i wasn’t being honest. which, again…doesn’t sit right with me.

so, i haven’t done an overhaul on my classes really, just the name. the class you took a year-ish ago from me is the same class (again, with new additions being added all the time as i learn new things) you would take from me now. but, it’s just a different name. and a lot more hands-on, positioning, swaying, moving, noise making than when i first started out 🙂 i love the classes i teach and i recognize that i may get a few less people signing up for classes because they don’t have a “brand” name to them, but that was a happy price to pay for being true to what i am up to.

i see myself continuing to teach these classes for a long time. i love walking the journey with parents and am always SO proud to hear how their births went- whether it was so straightforward and everything fell into place perfectly and mom just rocked it as if it was easy…or whether it is a 40 hour birth where certain interventions, etc are being introduced and parents have to carefully work together to make decisions that they feel are best for them and their situation. it’s an honor to help moms realize that they have it within themselves already, and whether or not a certain number-counted breath works for them or not, they can absolutely listen to their bodies and provide it what it needs. it is also an honor to help guide them on the decision making journey through the discussions we have in class. i can’t wait to see, as i work through my ICEA certification, what else i add to this class of mine…what other tidbit of information will be there to help couples achieve their goal of having a transformative labor experience. i also can’t wait to see what happens in the span of my career…as so much has been added and shifted already…i can only imagine what this will all look like in 10 years. more amazing than i can imagine, i know that much. God is good.

so that’s that. my classes in a nutshell since i had a few questions and i always like to make things as clear as possible. nothing crazy honestly, just a change in the name…and in the book i provide to my couples, too. and more relaxation tracks, lots of new handouts, and some awesomely wonderful labor prep run through. but hey, the HypnoBirthing book will still be in my lending library if anyone is interested 😉 and, again, with all this being said- i still totally recommend the HypnoBirthing classes specifically that are out there (we have great women out there teaching here in san diego!), but i encourage you to get to know the way your specific instructor will tackle the courses, etc (because it looks varied a lot of the time!!) in terms of what your views are as well as what you aim to get out of your childbirth prep class itself.

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also, as a completely different side note…how good are carrots?! i can’t get enough of them these days. i normally have a wicked sweet tooth, but when i’m pregnant my body craves things like hummus, carrots, celery…and, of course, late july chips. yummmm.

lots of love!

janice’s placenta encapsulation story

hey, friends!

normally i share stories of my students’ births in this story series, but this quick story about janice’s decision to encapsulate her placenta was really touching to me and i wanted it to be out there so that hopefully people will find some encouragement from it! janice recently gave birth to her second baby and was referred to me by a friend of hers. here is her story about why she chose placenta encapsulation and her experiences with it…enjoy!

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Hey Kelly, I just had to take a couple minutes to write you and tell you thank you beyond measure for the placenta capsules and the salve that you made for me. As you know, when I had {our first daughter}, my postpartum experience was pretty much horrendous, and I really wasn’t expecting that at all. I guess I’m just one of those people who didn’t respond well to the fast shift in hormones, and to the fact that I ended up with a c-section after a long labor that left me totally exhausted mentally and emotionally. I wish I knew about encapsulation or knew that I would need it last time!  While we decided to have a repeat c-section with {our son}, I went into this experience doing my homework- how to make this c-section more calm and serene, how to help my postpartum experience be brighter not only for myself and my husband but for our children. I couldn’t imagine having to care for two kids if I felt anything like I felt the first time. After hearing about placenta encapsulation so many times and doing some research I thought to myself, what is there to lose? If it’s all potential benefits, and no real side effects, then why not? I figured even if I wasn’t one of the moms who felt like little rainbows and butterflies were popping out of their placenta pills, I at least would know that I was doing everything I could to be proactive about my health and my relationships with my family. Thankfully our hospital was easy to work with in terms of placenta release, and thankfully YOU were so accommodating and came to us only 2 hours after {our son} was born, picked everything up for us, and brought it all back to us so quickly. I was able to take my first dose less than 24 hours after my son was born, and was able to use the salve a few days later when my incision site closed up. I think the quickness in getting those hormones back into me made a difference for sure, and I think the suggested dose and how it helped me “wean” off the hormones was especially useful. I literally was stunned how quickly my milk came in {something we struggled with after the birth of my daughter which led to her being formula fed, yet another thing I lamented over}, and honestly how much energy I had. I felt like my incision healed faster this time around, and that I actually wanted to cuddle with my baby, with both of my babies, and that, in and of itself, would be worth me paying triple what it was you charged. We are now 3 months postpartum and I have to tell you, everything is different than last time. Yes I still struggle a bit with anxiety, but I didn’t expect to be magically cured of all my ailments from these placenta pills. What it HAS provided was an abundance of milk, a much more awake and aware mom, and no real sense of looming sadness that followed me around after my daughter’s birth. I can’t tell you that this was only the placenta pills that did this for me, but what I can tell you is that I wish every mom would make the investment and take advantage of this service, whether they think they’ll need it or not, because I didn’t think I would the first time and boy did I. I sing the praises of what my placenta has done for my baby and for me, and I hope every mom at least considers this options. I know it makes many people squirm to think about, but it really was life-changing for me, which is worth a little squirming in my book!  Thanks, Kelly. I am forever grateful. So is my husband! And my babies, I’m sure!

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Thanks so much Janice for sharing your placenta encapsulation story with us. What an AMAZING thing to hear that you have been so much more present with your family this time around. It is humbling to read something like this- I am thankful that the services I provide can have such an impact on families, and thankful that you took the time to research all of your options. It was a fun journey with you answering your questions and laying out all of your options! Lots of love!

If you are in the San Diego area and interested in placenta encapsulation services, please visit my business site at Beautiful One Birth Services or email me at info@beautifulonebirthservices.com