The Birth of Jack Ford

One of our clients, Amy, shares her transformative birth story of her sweet baby Jack. “Childbirth really is instinctual. Your body knows exactly what to do – you just have to allow it to happen.”

If you are looking for inspiration as you prepare for your upcoming birth – look no further!

The Birth of Jack Ford
By Amy Kortman

I had decided that I was the first person that was going to be pregnant forever. After spending most of my pregnancy thinking I would go into labor early, I was shocked to find myself 40 weeks pregnant with our first child. I had read so many books and heard so many birth stories, I felt like it was my turn! I had no fear. I was ready.

I began seeing a chiropractor when I was 32 weeks pregnant to make sure my body was fully prepared for childbirth. She promised me that if I made it to 40 weeks, she would “work her magic.” On my due date, I went in for my appointment and had my regular adjustment in addition to acupressure and dry needling. Just 30 minutes after I got home from my appointment, I noticed some bloody show! Despite my excitement, I decided to take a nap and get some rest just in case. I woke up at 6:30pm and noticed significantly more bloody show and started to feel some mild cramping. It was still early on but I had a pretty good feeling that this was it.

I took a shower and my mom made me dinner. She and I sat down to watch Bachelor in Paradise and joked that I would pick the baby’s middle name based on one of the guys on the show. I texted my doula, Vicki, and let her know what was going on and she suggested that I start timing my contractions.

At 9:30pm, I had a few slight gushes of water but didn’t feel like my bag of waters had fully ruptured. My contractions were getting closer together and stronger but I could still talk through them. When Vicki arrived around midnight my contractions were 7 minutes apart and becoming more uncomfortable. I tried to find the most comfortable position – sitting, standing and swaying, bouncing on the birth ball, hands and knees. Vicki reminded me to relax my shoulders and when my discomfort increased, she suggested vocalizing my breathing.

My contractions were lasting a minute and a half and coming every 3 – 5 minutes. Around 2am I asked to go to the hospital. While my husband, Erik, was packing up the car, my mom grabbed my face and gave me a pep talk. I wish I could remember her exact words. She told me I would probably have 4 contractions while we were in the car and then something along the lines of “You are doing amazing, you can do this, you were made for this.”

We arrived at the hospital and at 3am, I was checked by the midwife. She confirmed that I had a slight tear in my bag of waters, I was 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was slightly disappointed that I was not further along. My husband and I walked the halls for about 30 minutes before I just wanted to lie down. Erik was able to get a little sleep and I got some rest.

At 5:30am, I felt a huge surge of water and knew my water had broken. Contractions immediately became more intense and we called for the nurse. The midwife came in to check me at 6am and I was dilated to 7 centimeters! The pressure was so intense, I felt like I couldn’t relax my bottom or everything would fall out. I think this is when I begged for Nitrous. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and get away from my body. I was trying so hard to do everything I had learned – breathe, relax, visualize. I felt like nothing was working, My mind was spinning, the contractions were coming so quickly. I really started doubting myself and a few times said “I can’t do this!” Vicki and Erik reassured me every time “you ARE doing it”. I tried several different positions and at some point I ended up on my side with a peanut ball between my legs. When the anesthesiologist came in with the Nitrous, I grabbed the mask out of his hand just as a contraction started. The Nitrous did not take the pain away but it definitely helped to distract me during the contractions. It also made me breathe more effectively – I felt like I was getting light headed with each contraction so the added oxygen definitely helped.

At 7am my body started bearing down – it was uncontrollable – Vicki told me to breathe, relax, and just let my body do the work. She assured me that I was bringing my baby down. She then told me “You are going to meet your baby really soon!” I think I asked her “How soon?” I wanted a number. I wanted her to tell me how much longer I had, how many more contractions, how many minutes!

At this point we asked for the midwife – I was convinced I was fully dilated. We were told by the nurse that she was in a meeting, “but” she said, “I can go get her if you want.” I think Erik and Vicki both yelled “go get her!” When the midwife arrived, I was fully dilated and she told me I could push. I remember asking “how?” and felt so silly asking that! She instructed me on what to do and when my next contraction started, I pushed as hard as I possibly could. I felt so much pressure and knew my baby was moving. On my 3rd contraction, I could feel his head and remember thinking to myself “so that is the ring of fire?” On my next push, I felt his body slide from mine and then instant relief! My baby boy was immediately on my chest, looking up at me with these huge eyes.

I pushed for 4 contractions, 20 minutes total. Jack Ford Kortman was born August 15, 2017 at 8:04am.

Erik took a video of the delivery and I am so glad that he did. I will admit I was a little embarrassed watching it. The noise I made while I was pushing and immediately after delivery is really indescribable. It’s kind of eerie in a way, but also so powerful. That video captures the greatest pain, shock, disbelief, joy, and love within a matter of seconds. We also noticed while watching it back that during one contraction he said to me, “Get it Girl.” Yes, those were his words!

There are so many unknowns about labor and delivery. Looking back, there were a lot of things that I just didn’t even think about in the moment. Such as: how much my baby weighed, did I poop on the bed (I was shocked to find out I didn’t), throwing up, going through transition. I think that because things progressed so quickly, I really didn’t have time to think about these things. And let’s face it, 110% of my focus was on my contractions!

Childbirth really is instinctual. Your body knows exactly what to do – you just have to allow it to happen.  I am so thankful for Vicki but honestly, I think Erik is more thankful. He didn’t really understand the need for a doula during labor and delivery. He expected the nurses and midwife to be more present during contractions but was surprised when they only came in the room every 30-40 minutes to check the heart rate. He is now a firm believer after seeing the support we received from Vicki.

While I was pregnant, I read that by choosing to have a natural childbirth, there would be pain during labor but the postpartum pain and discomfort would be significantly reduced. For me, this was 100% true. I knew how hard to push, I knew the limits of my body. I ended up with a very minor tear that only required two stitches. Having a newborn baby is a lot of work so I was so thankful that I healed quickly!

Looking back on my entire birth story, the most memorable moment (apart from Jack being born of course) was during a really strong contraction – I was listening to worship music and just started crying out “Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus!” My midwife grabbed my hand and started praying over me. I had no idea that she was a believer but it was just what I needed in that moment.

The Birth of Adelaide Grace

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

She’s here! Our little Adelaide Grace Pauley arrived on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 11:19 pm, measuring 21″ long, and weighing 8 lbs 4 ounces. Our hearts are so full and beyond grateful that she is healthy and thriving, not to mention perfectly beautiful {even if we are a bit biased ☺️}. It’s been an amazing blessing to watch Brighton fully embrace her, loving her, and continuously wanting to hold her while offering endless hugs and kisses. We are all quite smitten with our little Addie Grace.💗

It’s only been a few weeks, but we are settling in and while two is certainly more challenging than one, I am loving every second of it! I feel so incredibly blessed and honored that the Lord has entrusted me to be Mama to these two precious little ones.

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

It’s fascinating to me how each and every birth story is different from the next. With Brighton we went through a birthing class, drafted our birth plan, and did what we felt we could to best plan for the birth of our son, but there is little you can do to really prepare for giving birth. And with Adelaide, while we had done this once before, we had no idea if her birth would be similar to her brother’s or completely different.

With Brighton my labor started in the early morning hours of his due date. It ended up being a very long, fairly slow progressing labor and after 32 hours he was born the day after his due date at 10:24am. I never went to my 40 week checkup and never had my dilation or effacement checked prior to labor. All things that did happen this time as my due date came and went with no signs of our little girl. I had it in my head that baby number two would arrive early. But she didn’t, and while I didn’t feel any more pregnant at 40 weeks and a day or 2 days than I did at 40 weeks, it was a bit of a mental battle to stay positive as the days came and went.

Now that she’s here, it seems so silly that those extra 4 days felt like such an eternity, but I was just so ready to meet the little person inside of me, to see her with her daddy and big brother, to cuddle her on my chest, and to be able to hold our two-year old again without the challenge of a huge belly in the way. But looking back at the timing of her arrival, and the extra days we had together as a family of three, it’s abundantly clear that the Lord knew what we needed regardless of what I thought I wanted.

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

On Friday before she was born I finally decided to blow up our exercise ball and sit on it whenever I could to see if I could get this labor going. Both Friday night and Saturday morning, after continuously doing pelvic figure 8’s on the ball, along with walking lunges, squats and pliés, I found myself feeling really crampy. However, it wasn’t until about 2pm on Saturday that I finally keyed in and realized that these cramps were getting more severe and were coming and going – aka contractions! I had been busy making lunch, getting Brighton ready for his nap, etc that I really didn’t realize labor had begun. I took a hot shower and focused a little more on what my body was doing and acknowledged that I was pretty sure this was IT.

With Brighton’s labor progressing so slowly, the rapidness of this one completely caught me off guard, and if I’m honest, I was in a bit of denial about how quickly it was happening. Thankfully Josh was already home with me, so we called our doula, got her thoughts, and then spent the next 30-45 minutes timing things and trying to decide if we needed to call my dad to have him come stay with Brighton. We had already called Josh’s mom, who is in Virginia, to let her know labor had begun and she could start her journey to Tennessee as soon as she was ready. The plan was for Josh’s mom to come stay with Brighton while we were in the hospital, but my dad would be the one to keep him if we needed to head to the hospital sooner, which we did.

Before I knew it I was folding the last of the laundry I’d been working on, putting food out for Brighton’s dinner, making a list of his bedtime and morning routine with food, milk, etc, all while pausing to cope with contractions that seemed to be rapidly progressing both in time and intensity. Josh threw our bags in the car and packed the last-minute things like phone chargers, laptop, etc. and by about 6pm we were headed to Vanderbilt Midwives with our doula, Whitney, in route to meet us there.

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and BasilIntroducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

Sometime around 7-7:30pm, we were checked in with the midwives, and learned I was about 6cm dilated and 90% effaced. Having tested positive for Group Strep B, they got my IV in place in my right arm {after having blown a vein in my left hand which was extremely painful} to get the antibiotic going. Once they had monitored Adelaide’s heart rate for 20 minutes and the antibiotic was complete, an hour-long process, I spent the next hour or so coping with contractions and laboring in the tub. If I’m honest, at this point my legs were trembling and my body was started to feel extremely fatigued as the contractions just kept getting closer and stronger, with what felt like no time to rest in between.

With Brighton I was mentally and physically exhausted from so many hours of a slow-progressing labor that when the time came to finally push, I wasn’t sure where to find the energy. With Adelaide, I was surprised how physically exhausted I felt being that the labor was so much shorter, but with it being shorter it was also much more intense.

When it came time to push Brighton out, I was in tears and honestly didn’t know where to find the stamina mentally and physically. They asked if I wanted a little Nitrous Oxide {laughing gas} to get over the mental hurdle. It was the one thing I was pretty open to being that it’s self-administered and doesn’t cross the placenta, nor numb the pain or my legs. It was exactly what I needed to just let my mind have a small break so I wasn’t so overwhelmed at the task ahead.

With Adelaide, by about 10:45pm and with my body feeling the urge to push with each contraction, I once again felt overwhelmed knowing the hardest part was still ahead and feeling so physically depleted. Remembering the mental relief the Nitrous brought with Brighton, I asked if they could have it set up. Again, things were moving so fast, that by 11pm I was pushing with everything I had in me and by 11:19pm, and one final push, our little girl was instantly here, and in my arms, pressed against my chest. The immense joy, the overwhelming relief, and the feeling of her slimy little body against my own was simply glorious. That feeling, that high, it’s unlike anything else. I’ve only experienced it twice, first with Brighton and now with Adelaide. A love unlike anything else, truly a gift from above.

We spent the next hour bonding skin to skin, Josh was able to hold her a few minutes, but she came out hungry and instantly wanted to nurse. We laid there while the nurses took care of everything, smiling ear to ear with our sweet baby girl, laughing about how quickly it all happened, and already looking forward to the next morning when Brighton would meet his baby sister for the first time.

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and BasilIntroducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

We didn’t get to our room that night until about 1:30am, and it was a small overflow room, but we didn’t care – she was here and she was perfectly healthy, there was nothing else we needed. Just like with Brighton’s birth, our doula, midwife and the entire team at Vanderbilt were truly amazing, I couldn’t wish for anything better. And Josh was exactly what I needed him to be – 100% present, full of compassion and love and my ever-present source of encouragement. My physical recovery has been absolutely amazing, even quicker than it was Brighton, and I am beyond grateful.

Josh’s mom arrived the next day, along with my dad, my sister’s family and a few friends to celebrate and meet our little Addie – all of which meant so much to us! But Brighton was the very first to meet her, and he was every bit as sweet and loving with her as we had imagined he’d be. {You can see some pictures from that first day on my personal Instagram}. I can’t say there hasn’t been some adjustment on his part, having a little sister now, but overall he has gone with the flow so well and he absolutely adores her. We have so very much to be thankful for.

If you’re still reading…thank you from the bottom of my heart! This is way longer than I had intended, but it’s our story, and hopefully one day Adelaide can read it and feel all the love that surrounded her on that very special day.

Introducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and BasilIntroducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and BasilIntroducing Adelaide Grace + Birth Story | Lemons and Basil

The Birth of Agnes Rose

“Our VBAC was about to be successful. Our baby was about to make her entrance. Once the head was out, the nurses told me what Justin’s face had already communicated: it was over. Seconds later, they put her in my arms, and my crying husband and my crying self and my crying baby were embracing”

After Tilly’s first birth (Read the story here), she was determined to have a natural VBAC. Read about her preparations and experience as she welcomed her second daughter.

The Birth of Agnes
By Tilly Dillehay

Even in the haze of love-drunkenness that I experienced for Norah’s entire infancy, I was afraid to think or talk much about the labor process. I knew that there were too many voices in my mind, too many conflicting opinions about what had happened and what should have happened.

I only knew that I was terrified of getting pregnant again. I didn’t talk much about that, but I was rigorously careful with my husband during that first year.

My husband, when we did talk about it, spoke reason to me. I kept calling the c-section a worst possible outcome— “but that, Tilly,” he said, “that was very far from a worst outcome. You are fine; she is fine. Do you see that?” I saw that. I prayed for help with my mind and heart, not to be afraid. I was blessed to read some helpful Christian authors online, who talked specifically about c-sections and natural births with a measured hand.

Then I got pregnant again, rather unexpectedly. It was sooner than we’d thought—we’d tried for almost a year to get pregnant with our Norah, but our Agnes was ready for us before we had time to ask for her. One morning, about a month after Norah turned one, I carried a pregnancy test into the room where my husband was doing his devotions and asked, “Does this look positive to you?”

It did look positive to him.

So we were off to the races again.

This pregnancy felt harder to me; I think it was because of chasing down a little girl. I’d never felt desperate for rest during pregnancy #1, but this time around, I had a panicky feeling on several occasions that there was simply no way to survive this thing while also making regular trips to the local park.

I felt heavier, sooner. More stretched, more fatigued. More Braxton Hicks—way more. My diet was better this time around. A determination was building in me, and had been ever since I brought Norah home. This time, if we do this again, I must know that I have done everything in my power to successfully push out this baby.

There will be rest, good food, and good exercise. There will be training. There will be a doula (this was a later decision and one of the best I ever stumbled upon). There will be no misery or despair if the Lord sends things another way—but if I have given everything the old college try, I’ll be able to rest in that and manage my disappointment better.

I briefly, at the beginning of the pregnancy, tried to convince my husband to try a home birth. He understandably balked; I was a VBAC case, living an hour from a major hospital, who had been told by the surgeon that I possessed an unusually small pelvic inlet and that repeat c-section was fairly likely.

So when I knew that I’d be back in the same hospital as last time, I focused my efforts on preparation, and hiring a doula.

I hired Vicki Woods, and you guys, I would recommend her to anyone. I’m convinced that in human (rather than spiritual) terms, she was the main reason I ended up with such a good outcome. I knew, this time around, that the nurse midwives at Vanderbilt are great, but not able to be in-the-room support during most of labor.

Vicki ended up being exactly the person I needed. I don’t think she missed a single contraction.

We also made the decision, the second time around, not to tell every person on both sides of the family and expect them to wait in a hospital for over a day while I labored. This time, we made it clear to everyone that there was no need to come over until the business was over; in the end, this helped to give the labor an intimate and relaxed quality that just wouldn’t have been possible if I was trying to multitask, greeting people between breathing exercises.

Another random thing that I’ll mention, that you can take with plenty of grains of salt: I started eating 3-4 large medjoul dates a day in the last six weeks before due date, because of this article. And I started drinking several cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day in the last two months of pregnancy, because of these articles (here and here) and advice from the Vanderbilt team. The tea is supposed to tone the uterus and prepare it for effective contractions, and the dates were shown to reduce labor time by about half in one (admittedly very small) study.

I really hate giving random advice like that online because it’s just so hokey sounding, but hey, I did it, and hey, I had a great labor, so what can you say?

It was certainly a harder pregnancy the second time around. I had lots of aches and lots of Braxton Hicks. When more serious contractions started, a few days before real labor, it was very difficult to gauge how serious they were because I was so used to discomfort.

But one Saturday morning, I started having real, honest-to-goodness contractions. I went ahead to a Pampered Chef party that I’d been planning to go to; you have to pass the time somehow before you know if things are serious. The contractions never got closer together; all day I puttered around. That night my husband and I went out to dinner with friends; we sent Norah to spend the night at her grandparents’ just in case.

False alarm.

At church the next day, I had my contraction timer out during the sermon and clocked some as close as six minutes apart. But these went away completely in the middle part of the day.

At home that afternoon, watching a little show with my daughter, the contractions returned, and I started timing them again—they began to steady out at ten minutes apart. Nine minutes. Eight minutes. Soon I tracked a few that were seven minutes apart, and stronger. I decided to tell Justin. I took a bath to see if they’d subside.

They only got stronger. We packed Norah up, in her jammies and ready for bed, and sent her to grandmother’s house at about seven. Before she left, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t taken any pictures with her while pregnant—so we rushed into the living room and took a few. I hugged her and fought tears; she cheerfully put on her coat and little backpack.

We’d arranged to do some laboring at my sister’s house because she’s only a few minutes from the hospital. This is what we were trying to do last time when my water broke. This time, with bedtime coming on, she and her husband arranged to go to a friend’s house so that we could spend the night if things slowed again.

We arrived at about nine and put on The Office for old time’s sake. Contractions were getting longer and stronger but not terribly close together. I toasted a bagel and ate it between contractions. We called Vicki the doula and asked her to come on over. I took a bath.

When I got out, Vicki had arrived and my husband went to take a nap in preparation for a long night. (He didn’t sleep, and later confessed that what kept him awake was not the thought of me in labor, but thoughts about the sermon series he was preparing for.) Vicki started doing breathing exercises with me, and warmed up this wonderful heat pad thing that she had that ties around the belly.

I began to get a little fearful when the intensity picked up here. Some nausea was already hitting, and it seemed awfully early for that.

I guess it was midnight or so when I started to talk about going to the hospital. Vicki talked me through that decision—she knew I was determined to wait as long as possible. But despite the contractions not being quite four minutes apart, I was feeling the strength of them—I knew that things were getting serious. I was beginning to be worried about how to manage contractions in a vehicle, during transition from home to hospital.

After a little discussion, Vicki agreed that it was time to move, and we got Justin up. I brought the heating pad, and a container for if I got sick in the car. I remember one contraction in the yard, holding onto the roof of the car before getting inside. I remember telling Justin, as we drove through deserted city streets for exactly nine minutes to the ER entrance, that these had gotten as hard as when I was at a five in the last labor—right before begging for the epidural.

But this time, I was so far from begging for an epidural. I’d gotten it in my head—almost two years earlier—that if I could just get to the pushing stage without an epidural, I’d be home free. If I could just feel what I was doing while I pushed, surely the effort would be more effective. Surely I could walk away from that experience, even if it ended in another c-section, knowing that I’d done everything I could.

And I was just so much more prepared and determined. I had a slideshow of family photos set up in the room, and glanced over at it during the later stages. It was just a little surge of incentive, to see my sweet older daughter smiling and to remember that there was a sweet younger daughter coming. I’d also picked some bible verses and printed them, and Justin put them in front of me at crucial times between contractions.

I had a rhythm going—something I never knew about last time. I read about this in a very helpful book recommended by Vicki—The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. It was a strange technique that developed as the labor went on: I was using the word “ooookay,” spoken very low and gutterally, to ride out each contraction. And it just worked for me. A few times, I spoke to myself about what was happening—“Mooove down, baby, move on down,” I said once or twice. (I know this is weird stuff but for some reason, it made sense at the time.)

I prayed. I’d never prayed much during the last labor, but this time I simply prayed at moments when I felt like I was losing control. I asked simple things: Lord, please make this next contraction just a little easier than the last one. After that, they can be harder again, but I need one easier one. And I would be given just that grace or rest that I asked for.

Vicki was so helpful too because there was something about her soothing, and cheerleading, that made me feel like every wave of pain was witnessed and somehow more effectual. She also had me change positions when I seemed discouraged—because there’s nothing like a change of scenery to brighten one’s mood.

Once, leaned up at the foot of the hospital bed, on a birthing ball, I looked up at my husband and said, “I feel terrible.” I was doing an impression of Han Solo when he’s been tortured by Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back. Justin had a look of shock on his face—She’s making jokes? Now?  (But apparently this is a thing with me—during Norah’s labor, at one point I looked at him and said, “You did this to me! You!” And then I laughed drunkenly and said, “I’ve always wanted to say that.” Just like in the movies.)

At every point that I was discouraged, I would bargain with myself about timing.

“I’ll ask them to check me,” I would think. “If I’m not at an eight, I’ll get an epidural.” Or I would say, “Just make it to four-thirty. If you make it to four-thirty, you’re almost there, because you’ll be able to push by five.” Every time I asked to be checked, and hoped for a certain number, I was dilated to that number. I don’t think this is a luxury I could expect again, but this time, it was the particular gift I was given. When I got to the hospital at 1 a.m., I was already at a six—farther than I’d made it without medication last time. Two hours later, at an eight. Thirty minutes later, a nine.

I’d felt the need to vomit on and off throughout. Several times, I asked for a bag, thinking that this was imminent. At 4 a.m., it finally happened. I vomited quite a bit, and this was actually the force that made my water break—really fantastic timing. (I’d also prayed several months in advance for my water to stay intact longer this time around… and it sure did.) After the vomit finally came, I looked up at my husband, the doula, and the nurse, and said, “Oh man, I feel great now.”

The ladies around me just couldn’t have been more supportive. “You’re a rock star,” the nurse-midwife kept saying. “It’s like she’s done this a million times before,” one of the nurses kept saying conspicuously to the others, within my hearing. These comments were super helpful; like toddlers, ladies in labor don’t need subtlety. They just need to be told they’re rock stars now and then.

Soon afterwards, with a little bit of wishful thinking, I told them all that I was “feeling pushy.” This is a strange line they’d given me when I asked them when we were supposed to know when I was going to push.

So I decided that I felt “pushy,” sure that this would be a process of relief, an oasis in the desert of work and pain. They told me to go and pee, and while I was in the bathroom I remember saying to the nurse, “What are we going to do? What are we going to do now?” Like it was some kind of group effort and we needed to map out our next move and get it on the calendar.

“We’ll help you,” she said. “You’ll know what to do.”

They checked me, said I was almost a ten, close enough that pushing would be permissible.

I leaned against the back of the bed, knees on the bed, and began to push with the next contraction. I think I got about two of those in before the thing I thought had already happened actually began to happen.

The urge to push hit.

I’ve been told by various sources that the Urge to Push is a force that will not be resisted. It is powerful, urgent, and designed to tell women for thousands of years what to do, even if they haven’t read What to Expect When You’re Expecting.

Man oh man, my sources were NOT KIDDING.

Throughout the labor, I was pretty well under control. My husband told me later that it was hard to gauge what kind of pain I was in because I was so methodical in my vocalizations, so still and quiet. Just that same “Oooookay. OoooooooKAY.”

But when the Urge hit, I began to scream like a wild woman; I was completely outside of the realm of control. It was like a freight train. Apparently, the needle in my arm became jostled out of my arm at this point, and there was a moment when one nurse held this arm still in order to give the other nurse the opportunity to get it back in. I was unaware of any of this happening.

Between contractions, they got me moved around to a seated position on the bed, and here’s where I discovered that those beds are actually perfect for giving birth to a baby; the front part in front of where you sit actually sinks down and out of the way, so you end up setting on a sort of edge, even though you’re in the middle of the bed.

I was coached well at this point. I’ll make an aesthetic decision not to get more graphic here; all I can say is that they helped me to direct all that screaming energy in the right way, and the Ring of Fire, like the Urge to Push, is as real as a hammer. When I compare the two experiences of pushing, I can’t even put them in the same universe.

Pushing without sensation was like bringing a pointer finger to a cow tipping and trying to just sort of poke him onto his side. Pushing with the full aid of the Urge, with all my muscles on deck, was like tipping a cow with a bulldozer. It felt inevitable. She was out in twenty minutes.

I remember two things my husband did during this time. Once, he suddenly ran to a corner of the room, after seeing something that, I believe, shocked him. But soon after this, he was back next to the nurse, and it was the expressions on his face, as he watched his baby appear, that helped me comprehend what was happening. Our VBAC was about to be successful. Our baby was about to make her entrance. Once the head was out, the nurses told me what Justin’s face had already communicated: it was over. Seconds later, they put her in my arms, and my crying husband and my crying self and my crying baby were embracing. 

Another nice thing about not being in an operating room was Vicki being able to capture us as a family seconds after the birth.

Extra notes: I wanted to just get back on here and clarify a few things about these birth stories. 1) It’s important to me that these not be postured as a “terrible hospital story” followed by “success story.” My point in writing these is not anything like “Do this, and you too can have a successful birth… because what matters most is that you get what you want in your delivery!” The fact of the matter is, every birth is different, and these things are simply not under the control of us humans. Trusting God in labor is just as vital as trusting him in every other challenge that we encounter. 2) Remember, the fact of the matter is, first labors are always longer. And longer = harder. That’s just the way it is. I recognize that the biggest difference between one and two was that I didn’t have to do it as long.

That’s all.

The Birth of Norah Grey

“When Norah was lifted up into the air an instant after they pulled her out, and a plastic window was opened in the curtain at my waist, allowing us our first glimpse, we cried and clung. It was every bit as sweet a meeting as any you could hope for in a birthing pool.”

We are sharing Tilly’s two birth stories (check out their website here). This week is the beautiful story of her first baby, an unplanned c-section. Read as she bravely accepts the change in her birth plans and prepares to meet her daughter.

The Birth of Norah Grey
By Tilly Dillehay

I’ve been meaning for three months to write out the birth story of little Agnes, but somehow not gotten down to the job before now. I had three reasons for waiting this long. 1.) Most obvious reason: I have lately had an infant in my house. 2.) I realized that in order to write Agnes’ I’d have to also write out Norah’s, which I never did. 3.) There are three ways you can tell a birth story—funny, sentimental, or technical, and I didn’t know which way to go with it.

In the end, a few folks asked me whether I was planning to do these, and their inquiries made up my mind. So I’m doing them, but with some reluctance.

Because here’s what I think about birth stories: I’m not a fan of placing too much importance on them. Like a wedding day, it makes me uncomfortable to hear people say that the day their child was born was best day of their lives. The days that my girls were born were memorable, beautiful, hard, and unalterably life changing; the day I married my husband was all of those things as well. But none of these days were ‘the best day of my life’. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on any particular day. That kind of pressure is usually aesthetically driven anyway; it belongs to the internet world of Pinterest and Instagram, not to the real world of experiences and decisions that change us over time.

I just feel the need to lead with these caveats, because I just don’t want to be misleading to some poor pregnant lady out there, who is googling “successful vbac story” to pass another nervous afternoon.

Not that I ever did that.

For the men out there, you may be asking yourself, “But why? Why write about this?” Well, you can just move along. This is something women in their childbearing years tend to want to talk about. I can’t tell you how many unsolicited birth stories from women—at work, school, church, the library, the street, and Walmart—I have been privileged to hear.

We’re just talking shop.


I was confident and relaxed about Norah’s birth. The pregnancy had gone so well, and I was young and relatively healthy. Plus, I’d been told for a lifetime that I had “childbearing hips.”

I was planning to have a natural birth at Vanderbilt Medical Center, but trying to hold the ‘natural’ part loosely. After all, I’d never experienced what was going to happen to me, and I didn’t want to be setting myself up for failure.

What I knew, absolutely knew, was that I emphatically didn’t want to have a c-section.

Labor with Norah started in the wee hours. I was eleven days overdue. Contractions got longer and closer together all day, without becoming very uncomfortable until my water broke in the early afternoon. I was at my sister’s house, around the corner from the hospital, when the water broke; I was watching The Office. It was the episode when Dwight is using excerpts of speeches from famous dictators to address a bunch of salesmen at a convention.

I was at the hospital by 2 p.m., and this is when labor began to get hard.

Here’s the thing about the word “hard.” It means so many different things—something different almost every time it is used. I could say, “Labor was hard when I realized that I was in the worst pain of my life, and it had been regularly hitting me at three-minute increments for five hours.” But I could also say, “It was hard when I was in labor for three more hours and I began to vomit, and I asked for my mother and she came in and concluded that I was in transition.” Or I could say, “It was hard when I had been through all of the above and then they checked me and I was only at five centimeters, and this made me believe that I was only halfway there, and I cried like a child.”

But another woman could use the word too; she could say something like, “It was hard, when I realized that there wasn’t enough water to last my family through the rest of the week and the well was dry, so I had to strap the baby onto my back and carry the water jug over to the next village, twenty miles one way.” And that, obviously, would be another kind of hard. But despite the many and various meanings of the word, I’m going to have to use it here.

It was hard. So at that point, at about ten p.m., I asked for an epidural. They gave me one and I was greatly relieved, though a little bit ashamed. Ashamed was not a reasonable way to feel, but that is how I felt. I’ve known a lot of women who gave birth naturally, and I wanted to know what it was like.

Then, the entire night passed as my dilation slowly progressed. My husband and I slept. In the late morning of the next day, they told me that it was time to push. Gamely, serenely, I began to do so. They had to tell me when to do it, to try to help me time my pushes with the contractions. I did this, without feeling any loss of energy or spirits, for four hours.

I couldn’t move any part of my body below the ribcage. I didn’t know what kind of effort or sensation I was shooting for, but felt totally comfortable as these four hours ticked by.

It was then that they brought in the surgeon to do a quick analysis of the situation, and it was truly not until then that I realized I might not be able to push her out at all.

The c-section thing was pretty much the only delivery preference that I was passionate about: I really really didn’t want one. Grateful as I am to live in a time and place where c-sections are an option, the first time I really clung to my husband in fear was when I was told that the c-section was the only option left. They wanted to try forceps, but they wanted to try forceps on the operating table.

I began to clamor for ideas when they said that. I asked the nurse if they could maybe just ease back on the epidural now so that I could feel what was happening and use my useless and floppy legs, and other important muscles. She said that my pushing had apparently been effective because baby had been progressing but then inching backwards again, over and over without progress. Also, she said, it would be cruel to hit a person with the full force of end-stage labor pain when they’d been feeling nothing; it would be inhumane. I didn’t know what to say to that.

This is one of the clearest memories I have of the entire labor: the conversation between my husband and I when the room cleared of all family and medical personnel so that we could discuss our options. I cried; I said that I didn’t want to be a statistic. He comforted me and said that this was a small price to pay to meet our baby. We wouldn’t have come here if we didn’t trust this medical team, he said.

I acquiesced, but truly, this was the first time I was really gripped by fear.

It was pure disappointment and trepidation and shame, tempering all of my maternal excitement, as they wheeled me into the operating room.

The team was fantastic and quick. I had no rational fears for either myself or the baby. Still, I shook visibly—my hands were vibrating like fish fighting for air next to my head as they strapped me down. (The drugs often cause shaking, but the shaking can sometimes retroactively generate more fear: usually, you shake when you’re afraid.)

The bright lights and ceiling tiles are branded into my memory, along with the sensation of having my body tugged with the full strength of two nurses to the right and the left, the sensation of instant emptiness as my stomach cavity was relieved of its then-largest organ, which was relieved of a screaming infant and then returned to its former resting place.

My husband was sitting near my head, reciting scripture to me in my weak and cowardly state. And by weak and cowardly, I mean that I groaned and cried during the operation without any feeling of control over myself. When Norah was lifted up into the air an instant after they pulled her out, and a plastic window was opened in the curtain at my waist, allowing us our first glimpse, we cried and clung. It was every bit as sweet a meeting as any you could hope for in a birthing pool.

Justin was holding her a few moments later, and I was touching her with my shaking hands. I couldn’t have been less aware that they were stitching me closed during these first moments of seeing and touching her.

Norah was placed onto my chest in another room just a few minutes after that, and she learned to nurse instantly. Love had a new name. She was everything in the world, and I was hers and she was mine; seven pounds and eleven ounces of human flesh, groping for her mother.

I never had trouble connecting with this child, as some women say they struggle to do after a c-section. If anything, it took me a few weeks to emotionally connect to my second child, and never to the same pitch of obsession. Like a first crush, something irretrievable lives in those first few months with Norah. But this is part of the beauty of having more than one; you must take each new little pair of eyes as they come, and acquaint yourself with them on their own ground. 

The Birth of Josiah Graham

This is a beautiful story of infertility, miscarriage, and redemption. This mama learned to trust God and her body in her journey. And was able to meet her precious son the way she always dreamed.

The Birth of Josiah Graham
By Cassandra Thon

This story starts years before our little guy was born.  After 4 years of being married we decided to start trying to have a baby.  To our surprise we struggled with the frustration of infertility and the difficulty of having two miscarriages.  Our first miscarriage was at 10 weeks into the pregnancy and came 2 years after we started trying.  We recovered from that loss and began to try to move forward.  We became pregnant again 7 months later.  We cautiously made it to 15 weeks, complications arose and we lost that precious baby, too.  We were devastated and unsure of what to do next.  After taking a step back and letting our emotional wounds heal we started to try again.  After a year of no success we decided to have ourselves checked for infertility.  We pursued fertility treatments for 6 months.  After no signs of improvement we decided to stop the fertility treatments and began looking into the possibility of adoption.  ONE MONTH later I became pregnant.  I remember literally laughing at the positive pregnancy test.  It was a miracle.

I have always wanted a natural childbirth.  My mom had to have C-sections with my brother and I and not many of my friends have had a baby natural without pain medicine.  This didn’t leave me with much background information on natural childbirth.  So, once I was well into my second trimester I began researching natural childbirth and ways I could accomplish it.  I talked with a good friend that delivered her firstborn all natural with the help of a doula.  I discussed options with my husband, Ethan, about my wishes for labor and delivery and the possibility of hiring a doula. I was unsure how he would react to this somewhat crazy idea. To my surprise, he was completely supportive and interested to hear more.  I contacted NDS and was connected with Sandee and Emily.  When we met for the first time, I was able to voice my concerns and they were able to tell me how they could help and encourage me.  They let me know I could do this!  Each time we talked about labor and birth Sandee and Emily both looked so excited and passionate about the amazing journey of natural childbirth. They kept telling me two things that I would soon understand and agree with: “your body is meant to do this” and “this is what women are made to do.”

On Monday, January 16th I went for my weekly OB appointment (I was 38 weeks and 4 days), Dr. Rebele checked me and said I was a “soft 1cm” dilated and 75% effaced!  She was really encouraged by the progression and that made me so happy.  Dr. Rebele wanted me to schedule an induction just in case I didn’t progress into labor on my own.  I have some potential high-risks during pregnancy and going past the 40 week deadline was not advisable.  The induction was scheduled for Friday, January 26th, but I was praying I would go into labor on my own.

On Friday, January 20th I made it through my last FULL week of work and I was getting so TIRED!  I was hoping and wishful that I might go into labor over the weekend.  Ethan and I had talked about going to see a movie after work, but after a full day of work I decided we should just watch something at home. My lower back had been feeling a little different that day and I was really tired from the busy week of work.  My mom brought us dinner, and around 6pm I began having my first contractions! I relaxed on the couch with the heating pad. The contractions felt minor like really bad period cramps, but nothing I couldn’t handle. At this point I had not experienced Braxton Hicks contractions, and I honestly thought that was what was happening. I texted Emily to keep her updated, she encouraged me to have a good nights sleep and check back with her once I woke up.

On Saturday, January 21st, I woke up to more contractions, it was light outside, I looked at my phone and it was 5:30am.  I tossed and turned, trying to fall back asleep but couldn’t get comfortable.  So, around 6:30am I finally got up and laid on the couch with the heating pad.  I began tracking my contractions from 7-8am to see if I had any labor progression.  I was shocked that the contractions were still consistent.  I texted Emily a screenshot of the contractions app, they were not really getting any stronger but just continued to happen and not go away.  I asked her if this was considered Braxton Hicks or early labor?!? I was in denial! Haha!  She said it sounded like early labor, but that it could go on for days.  She reminded me to rest as much as possible, drink plenty of water, and eat well during this time.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.  I had plans to go wedding dress shopping for one of my friends and dinner after; however, with the possibility of being in pre-labor I wasn’t sure if it would be wise to be out and about. I ended up going back to bed, cuddled my hubby, and slept from about 9am-11am.  After we woke up I decided to take a bath and see if that would help the pain from the contractions I was having.  It felt so good.  I sat in the bath thinking… wow, I could really be having my baby soon.  Once I got out of the bath I could feel the contractions were not any easier.  Ethan talked me into going out to lunch with him to try and get my mind off the contractions.  We had a good lunch, but the contractions were still really noticeable. After we made it back home, I planted myself on the couch with the heating pad again.  We watched a movie from 2-4pm and I tried to just relax and rest as much as possible.

Around 4:30pm I got into bed and attempted to take a nap.  I didn’t lay there very long, I couldn’t really fall asleep because of how much discomfort I was in.  Around 5pm I felt a little pop or burst.  I got up, called for Ethan and ran to the toilet.  At the time we thought it might have been my bag of waters breaking, but we would later find out that it was my mucus plug.  After that happened, I started getting more and more uncomfortable.  I realized my contractions were at an appropriate frequency and intensity.  It was time to race to the hospital. Ethan packed up the car and we drove to the hospital I tried to relax as much as possible.

We left our house around 6pm and arrived about 35 minutes later to the hospital.  The ride to the hospital wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. We were about 10 minutes away and I saw a bunch of traffic backed up.  I just tried to relax and close my eyes and focus on how close we were instead of focusing on the traffic.  We finally got to the hospital, checked in, and were lead to a triage room.  I was beginning to get more and more uncomfortable, feeling burning hot one minute and cold the next.  When we got into the room the nurse instructed me to leave a urine sample and change into a gown.  We followed her instruction and I sat on the side of the stretcher.  When the nurse returned she began asking me questions and going over my medical history.  All of the sudden I started feeling really sick, I said, “I’m gonna get sick!” Ethan grabbed a bucket for me just in time.  I will just say my lunch from earlier ALL came up….ugh.  Ethan and I were starting to think this was going to be a really LONG night!  After that I felt better, just had continued contractions and was ready to get into my room so I could get comfortable and work through them easier with Ethan.  The nurse checked my dilation and said I was 4cm.  They admitted me into the hospital labor and delivery department and off we went, wheeling to our delivery room!

Around 7:30pm we arrived to the labor and delivery room and I met my new nurse.  She began my IV and gave me some anti nausea medicine since I had thrown up earlier and didn’t want to deal with that issue during delivery.  We agreed since the baby and I were doing well I could just have a hep lock instead of an IV connected to a bag of fluids. Once I got settled, the nurse checked my dilation to see if it had changed since we had first arrived to the labor and delivery triage.  She said it felt like it had advanced to 5 cm!  Shortly after, my doula, Sandee walked in and I was so glad to see her.  I was ready to get this party started and get into our groove.  Since I was doing well and showing no sign of distress, the doctor agreed to let me be off the monitor a majority of the time.  I only had to be monitored during the first 20 minutes of every hour.  While I was getting monitored the first time, Ethan and I caught Sandee up on where I was and how I was feeling.

Around 8pm Sandee and Ethan started getting the room ready.  Ethan put on my labor playlist, which was a Bethel Music album.  They started my essential oil diffuser with some stress balancing blends and got the lights dimmed so that I didn’t have to deal with bright florescent lighting.  Once I completed the first 20 minutes of monitoring I was able to get on the ball.  I sat on the ball and leaned my upper body forward onto the bed or back onto Ethan.  Ethan was being a BOSS of a husband helping me relax, massaging my back, telling me to breathe properly and talking to me about how our lives were about to change with this little guy that I was about to birth.  During labor I kept getting hot then I would get cold.  During the cold moments I would need a blanket, but then I would quickly get hot and need the blanket removed.  I was worried about explaining myself during labor, but Sandee told me to not worry.  I didn’t need to waste energy in explaining something, I just needed to say what I needed and have it done so I could focus on the contractions and myself.  As each contraction came I just tried to lean on Ethan and listen to Sandee’s voice.  I remember talking about this process in our classes and I wasn’t sure how exactly I would handle the pain and what I would do or need.  As the contractions came I just tried to really focus.  I did this by keeping my eyes mostly closed, listening to the music, praying, leaning on Ethan and listening to what Sandee was telling me.  She kept reminding me that each contraction got us closer to our baby.  She also reminded me to just concentrate and get through that ONE contraction instead of thinking about the other contractions I would need to endure through labor. This helped me so much. She reminded me to rest during the rest time and try to relax my body and breath during the contraction.  After a few contractions we got into a groove and discovered how to endure the labor.  I felt so relaxed and at peace.  During this portion of labor, I feel like time went by really quickly. I would breathe through each contraction and eventually started moaning as each one came and went. I felt like this helped me really relax and let the contractions do their job.  The times when our baby needed to be monitored I was able to stay on the ball, which helped me to stay in my labor groove.  At one point Sandee encouraged me to try and stand while holding onto Ethan in order to help the baby move down more.  We did that for 2 contractions, the contractions were pretty painful and I felt like my legs were so weak.  After that, I sat back down on the ball. I think being able to sit on the ball helped me to relax and really let go of everything including my body. I remember just really relying on Ethan to hold me and support me during each contraction.  I am usually someone that doesn’t like physical touch when I’m in pain but this was so different. I needed Ethan there next to me holding me the whole time. It was late and I knew Ethan hadn’t eaten dinner, but I still didn’t want him to move.

It was a little after 10pm and I felt like my back was literally breaking.  It felt like I had so much pressure on my lower back as if I had bent over for hours in the flowerbed pulling weeds.  I got in bed to lie down for a minute.  Once I got in bed Sandee suggested we use the peanut ball between my legs while I layed on my side.  I stayed like this for a few minutes and remember the contractions started to feel different and more intense. My body started shaking involuntarily so we took away the peanut ball and I remember my right leg was comfortable lying straight out on the bed while my left leg was more comfortable bent with my foot on the bed. My moaning got a little louder and my nurse came in and decided to check how far dilated I had progressed.

It was 10:30pm and the nurse said I was 7cm dilated.  I was happy to hear I had progressed but was still unsure on how long it would take for me to be completely dilated.  I kept my eyes closed a majority of the time so I could focus through the contractions.  But I opened them after hearing the nurses begin to get the lights and sterile equipment ready.  At this point I realized I must be getting close, I just tried to concentrate on each contraction and get through each one while trying to relax and let it all happen.  Ethan could tell that the nurses were preparing for delivery.  We had discussed having my mom in the room during the delivery, so he went to the waiting room to bring her back.  I still wasn’t fully dilated, but could tell I was in transition and on my way to 10cm.  I feel like this was the hardest part of labor.  I was thankful to have Sandee, my mom, and Ethan by my side.  The encouragement helped me to push through the pain and focus on having my son.

At 11pm I said, “I feel so much pressure”. I was thinking that this was SO HARD!  At that moment I felt the need to push, but the nurses and Sandee encouraged me to just breathe short quick breaths instead.  I needed to endure the feeling and try not to push at this point.  As the contractions came it felt like my body took over. I wasn’t trying to push but I could tell my uterus was moving all by itself.  After each contraction the nurses would lift my blankets and check my progress. They kept doing this, but never made any comment other than to not push.  Its funny now, but I was thinking can they see a head?!

At 11:15pm the nurse said I had completely dilated.  Dr. Cox, the doctor on call, walked into the room.  The delivery was a blur, but slow and vivid at the same time.  The nurses helped my legs up into the stirrups while Dr. Cox told me instructions on how to push through during the contractions.  She explained I needed to wait until I had a contraction, take a deep breath, try to hold the breath in and push as long as I could.  It took a couple of contractions to get the hang of what I needed to do.  Sandee and Ethan were on one side and my mom was on the other.  They helped support my neck and upper back as well as my legs. Sandee told me to try to push as hard as I could and visualize my body doing what it was built to do.  She told me to think about my uterus pushing my baby down. I put my chin to my chest, closed my mouth, and pushed as hard as I could through every contraction.  At this time I remembered reading that some women can possibly push for hours.  So, I tried to mentally prepare myself, but little did I know it wouldn’t be anywhere near that for me. The doctor and nurses kept saying they could see his head and that he had so much black hair.  The room was full of nurses and everyone was yelling different things.  I just tried to focus on the directions Sandee was speaking in my ear.  I also listened to the nurse counting during my contractions so I knew how long I was pushing for each contraction. My heart was racing, my mind was focused, I was burning hot, and I felt like my bottom was ripping open. It took exactly 15 minutes of pushing and our sweet boy was here.  He was quickly put on my chest, his tiny warm body, umbilical cord still attached, making the most precious little noises.  He opened his eyes and looked around, this moment was incredible. I looked at his sweet face, all that black hair, and was just overwhelmed that he was here in my arms! He was perfect, and I couldn’t believe he was finally here… our baby was finally in our arms!  Ethan kept telling me how proud he was and how beautiful our boy is. After we had a few minutes to see him and catch our breath, Ethan had the honor of cutting the cord. It was the sweetest moment.  What an incredible experience.  The pain was real, but unexplainably worth it.

Baby, mother, father, birth, VBAC, pitocin, hospital birth

The Birth of Asa James Cantrell

As co-owner of Nashville Doula Services, Whitney, recently celebrated the first birthday of her third child, Asa James, she reflected on the day he was born. Whitney had already experienced two births of her own and supported so many mothers through labor as a doula, but she was thrown a curve ball during this labor! You won’t believe this amazing story full of strength, power, and beauty! This is a story that every VBAC mama or any expectant woman should read! Enjoy!

This is the story of my precious Asa James Cantrell, born February 6th 2016, and my second VBAC.

It was the evening of February 4th and I was 38 weeks, 6 days pregnant with Asa. I was even more exhausted than normal and decided to go upstairs and lay down while everyone else was eating dinner. I had just laid down and closed my eyes when I felt my water break. I jumped out of bed and as I stood to my feet, Niagra Falls was happening in my pants. I went to the bathroom and cleaned myself up as my adrenaline was pumping like crazy. We are going to meet Asa soon! Or so I thought…

My labors with my first two babies were fairly short, with my second labor only being around 4-5 hours. So naturally, I expected contractions to quickly follow and to be pushing out my baby in the next 3-4 hours. I called Michael to come upstairs and help pack for the hospital, and I continued to wait for contractions. We were excited but all of a sudden I was NERVOUS. I am a doula and have been to tons of births and helped many, many women through natural labor, and I had even done it before myself…but I really had not prepared for this labor, and I had a big, huge moment of self doubt! I sent a text to my midwife and friend, Lisa, to let her know what was happening, and also to my doula Sandee. They both expected my contractions to pick up soon. A couple hours passed and still no significant contractions, so we decided to try and get some rest while we could. I drank a half glass of wine to calm my nerves so I could rest, but as soon as I laid down, oddly enough, that’s when my contractions started coming regularly. I contracted all night, with contractions coming every 3-10 minutes. At about 2am they were so intense that I had to get on all fours and moan through each one. Then I would lay back down and pass out in between. About 3:30 they were around 2-3 min apart, so I told Michael it was time to go.

I got up to go to the restroom for probably the 15th time that night (and I had to change my enormous pad each time because I was losing so much water!) and wouldn’t you know labor came to a screeching H – A – U – L – T. I was still feeling Asa move quite frequently and my water was still clear, so we decided to try and sleep some more. I got to sleep a couple more hours before the big kids were up and raring to go, asking for breakfast. 🙂 Still, zero contractions. Where did they GOOOOO?!?! I was totally baffled, wondering what this lil guy had planned.

We were so blessed to have Michael’s parents living with us so they agreed to take the kids for the day while Michael and I got serious about getting labor started. I checked in with my midwife that morning after we ate breakfast, and we agreed that I would give it a few hours and then go to the clinic for a non stress test and then make a decision on whether or not to go on in for an induction/augmentation. Hearing those words really stung. I couldn’t believe I was potentially facing an induction. Why was my body playing this mean trick on me?? I was in a pretty sour mood about this for the next few hours. We tried absolutely everything to get my labor going…chiropractic, acupuncture, lots of stairs at Cenntennial Park, Spinning Babies, lots of prayer, you name it! But nothing helped. Asa had his own plans despite my efforts to try and control the process.

After Asa and I got a clean bill of health at the midwife clinic, we decided that we would check into the hospital the next morning if labor hadn’t started by then. Michael really had to shake some sense into me, and remind me that we were going to meet our third child soon and that sometimes we just can’t control the process and have to trust that God has a good plan. I really needed to hear this. He was so encouraging and reassured me that getting things started with Pitocin didn’t mean I couldn’t have the epidural-free, active birth that I wanted. I had had a traumatic experience associated with an epidural with my first baby, so my desire to avoid that at all costs ran much deeper than a desire to check another natural birth off my goals. I made the decision from that point forward to be happy and to except with open arms the journey that God had for us. It was a freeing moment, and I literally felt the weight lift up off my shoulders. I started to feel JOY for the first time since my water had broken the night before.

We got a pretty good night of sleep that night, with just a handful of contractions, and I checked into the hospital at 7:30am, with Michael, Sandee (doula), and Kingsley (my sister) surrounding me and we joyfully proclaimed we were “Team Asa!”. It was VERY weird to check into the hospital not even being in labor! You have to have a supportive birth team in moments like these..Michael, Sandee and Kingsley brought the perfect mix of humor, compassion, love, and strength. I felt very safe, very cared for, and that everyone in that room believed in and loved me and my baby.

They checked me before starting pit, and I was about 3cm dilated and Asa was -2 station. No wonder labor was stalling… he was up in my rib cage!


I started out sitting on the birth ball when the pitocin drip started. We were joking around, telling stories, and laughing. Active labor kicked in at just 5mil of pit, and from that point on, it was game on. Michael applied counter pressure to my lower back and Sandee talked me through each contraction, reminding me to relax every muscle in my body. After about 1 hour of steady contractions, the midwife Stephanie checked me and I was 5-6 cm. We all agreed that we wouldn’t raise the pit anymore because just that little bit was doing it’s job! I was thankful. I was still handling the contractions super well, and I felt very much in control. I labored mostly standing/sitting on the side of the bed, but had gotten on my knees in the bed after I was starting to get tired, and switched back and fourth from knees to “throne” position. About an hour later I started to feel more pressure, so my midwife Stephanie checked me and I was at a 7. It’s weird laboring after you’ve become a doula… I was well aware of my body and the labor process, and even though things were getting really intense I could still think logically about what was happening and what was coming next. I knew that with my second birth, I moved from 7cm to birth in about 20 minutes so I knew we were getting close!


Just like that, transition set in, and boy did I know it. I looked at Sandee and said something like, “this is hard! Help!” She continued to encourage me and I felt her strength pour right into me for the home stretch.

Just a few minutes later, I finally felt the urge to push. I was so relieved! I pushed for about 10 minutes and my sweet baby boy was born and I pulled him up on my belly, although he was a little blue and the cord was around his neck. I very instinctively grabbed the cord and pulled it over his head.

He was beautiful! He looked JUST like my first son, Cole to me. I couldn’t believe it. At that moment I felt I had known him my whole life.

I am so thankful for the BEST birth team ever. Sandee was that calming, peaceful presence and reassurance when I had many moments of self-doubt. Michael was such an amazing support to me. He has become quite the doula himself after going through three of his wife’s labors. 🙂 And my sister…I was so excited for her to be at Asa’s birth after I had helped her through labor just a few months before. Birth is such a majestic, life-changing moment that you’ll absolutely never forget once you experience it