home birth

birth photography :: why bother?

When I tell someone I've just met that I am, among other things, a birth photographer, I am met with a wide assortment of incredulous facial expressions, from thinly veiled repulsion to shocked intrigue. Often, it's misunderstood that I arrive at the birth place right AFTER the birth to take the very freshest newborn photos. "No," I must clarify, "I'm actually present whilst the baby is being born!" To this, my new conversational partner replies with a change of subject or honestly exclaims, "Does anybody WANT that?!"


Birth IS a very private affair, and one that needs to be protected and preserved, unhindered and undisturbed. Therefore, it can seem a little counter-intuitive to consider inviting someone and her camera(s) into that space to make photographs. I get it. In fact, I've even wrestled with that, wondering if I ought to stop offering the service, for I very much have no desire at all to be a part of making a laboring woman feel watched, pressured, or disturbed. 

But I keep coming back to it, in large part because women keep inviting me to do it, and it's a joyful thing to say yes to. Also, I've come to see that the manner in which it is done is everything. There is a way to carry a camera into a birth space with reverent respect, holy hush, and minimized distraction, leaving birth undisturbed and a woman feeling safe to enter into her primal brain to do the work she must do... and still walk away with a collection of beautiful images. I think I've figured out how to do that, and that feels really good. 


So for YOU, dear mama, why the heck would you even want a selection of photographs showing you laboring, pushing, and receiving a gooey wet newborn into your waiting arms? Won't you look unattractive and strained in those moments? Won't you feel exposed and immodest? And besides, who in the world would you ever even show the photos to? What will you even do with them (cos they surely aren't getting framed and hung over the fireplace)?

  • Because someday you may need/want to pick through those photos, drinking in every nuance and detail as you struggled to recreate the memory in your mind of the day you welcomed your baby. 
  • Because looking at them, you will see yourself in a new light: you'll see the things that rose up in you that day that you never knew where there before. Like the courage, the perseverance, the doubled love, the raw strength in your body. All that, and more. 
  • Because you will be able to see in them how well you were loved. While you were diving deep into yourself, or soaring into unseen realms to do the work of birth, you might not have noticed the people who surrounded you, offering you sips of water, a gentle touch, a reassuring word, or the simply the constancy of their supportive presence. But now that you're back, you can see that love in the photographs. 
  • Because the way your baby looked when he/she came out of your womb and up to your arms will change SO FAST. The misshapen head, the changing skin tones as he/she transitioned to life outside your womb, the balled up fists, and the birthday frosting... it'll be gone in DAYS, and you might not have been able to properly drink it all up with your senses before it vanished. The photos can offer it back to you. 
  • Because whenever you begin to doubt if you're capable of doing hard things, you can see how you did the hardest thing that one time... and came out victorious. You can do hard things. 
  • Because someday your child will ask you about the day they were born, and you will be able to use your words -- and the photographs -- to give them the most vivid, true adventure story in which they were the hero or heroine. They'll look at those photos and see how special they've been to you right from the beginning. They'll ask to look at them over and over again, and every year on their birthday. 
  • Because there is an entire generation of younger women who aren't mothers yet and who probably won't get to witness a birth until it they are the ones giving birth. They're hungry to get a glimpse and a taste of what lies ahead, and your courage in sharing your story and your photos can help normalize and positively reframe the experience of birth for them. It's a great gift you can offer, to whatever extent you feel comfortable or called.

If you've been on the fence about it, delay no longer, sister. 

My birth photography services are available as part of the Sister Birth Services package, or as a stand-alone

birth :: aila jane

Sometimes birth is just so simple, so undisturbed; it works just the way one would hope and expect without any help at all. There's such joy and light-heartedness in those births for me -- and for everyone who is a part of it, surely. Aila's birth was one of those! 

Her mama Andrea expected a longer labor, but it moved quickly. Her midwives and I weren't with her for very long, therefore, before she gave birth efficiently and smoothly while kneeling on the floor of the bedroom, daddy and big brother nearby. The photos of their reactions to her birth and the declaration of "it's a girl!" are some of my favorite to date. 

Enjoy this glimpse into the birth of sweet Aila Jane, the newest ginger in this red-headed family. :)

I'm so happy for these four!

If you are expecting a baby this year and you've ever had even an inkling of wondering about what it might be like to have it photographed, I want to encourage you to pause and really ask yourself whether these moments of hard work, transformation, the moments you meet your baby face-to-face are ones worth investing in capturing. If you have any concerns about the presence of a stranger with a camera (aka a birth photographer!) being disturbing or distracting, let's talk through that concern together. Let yourself truly consider this as an option. I'm so confident you won't regret it, sister. Reach out. 

birth :: eliza dawn

We're overdue for a birth story in here, aren't we?! Though I've have definitely not stopped photographing births, there's been a long string of private ones, so the one I'm about to share is the first one I've posted in quite a while. And it's a GOOD ONE, on that's definitely worth waiting for. I may be biased, but there are so many layers of personal reasons that this one is close to my own heart. 

PLEASE be sure to read the written story at the end, written by the mama of this baby, Charis, who happens to be my most sisterish friend, and fellow student midwife.


[7.26.17] If I could’ve chosen, this is exactly how I would have chosen to give birth. It wasn’t without pain, but it was joyful, intentional, fear-free and surrounded by friends…and (spoiler alert) it ended with cookies a cocktail and a baby…I sincerely don’t know if I could’ve asked for anything more.

At 39 weeks and 6 days, I had been experiencing frequent cramping most mornings leading up to this day, those cramps being prodromal labor. But these contractions generally went away after I started moving around and had a large glass of water. This day started in the same way, but my usual glass of water didn’t ease the discomfort…this was my first flag to pay attention to. However, I was easily able to start my day, care for Lois, enjoy breakfast and send Jordan off to work without worry, just a simple “try not to be too far from your phone, please.” 

Somewhere around lunchtime I decided that I wanted Jordan to be home because the cramping hadn’t gone away and since Lois’ birth was so fast (5 hours), I was nervous this one was going to go from 0-60 and I would be alone…which, oddly enough, it wasn’t that being alone to give birth scared me, it was just that I didn’t want to be alone…I wanted to share this with Jordan. So, I had him come home. 

After a couple hours of more regular cramping, I downloaded a (stupid) contraction timer just to get a sense of how often they were happening…since keeping track of anything with a toddler running about can be a difficult task. This (stupid) app eventually told me (6 times) that I should pack up and go to the hospital and then eventually told me that I was either using the app incorrectly, or I was having inconsistent contractions…both of which were probably true, but I deleted the app at any rate deciding I knew my body and this process better than they did.

As soon as Jordan got home, the cramping paused for a while…which, after attending a fair amount of births over the last year, made me think this wasn’t the real thing after all if it could be interrupted so easily by my safest person. An hour later (around 1pm), however, our downstairs housemate, Gary, came upstairs to talk to Jordan…and this time the interruption did NOT pause my cramping…at that point, I knew, if Gary’s presence couldn’t stop what was happening in my body…nothing would. 

So we had my sweet sister-in-law, Emilie, come to be with Lois and take her back to their place for the night. After Emilie arrived, the intensity of each contraction started to increase, but I still wanted Lois to be around for some of it, so we all walked over to the park around the corner to let Lois play and to help things along by moving around. It was so sweet to be with Emilie, who I love dearly, while I labored for this baby. She reminded me that she and kirk (my brother), would drop anything to help us if we needed it, including picking up a box of cookies if I asked…her presence was a joyful and encouraging one. 

Now, for anyone that has had a baby or knows a little about labor flow, they say that “active labor” is when a mama turns emotionally inward and cannot go back to chatting after a contraction…

…not the case for me, apparently. Each contraction was requiring more and more focus, but as soon as it was done (never lasting for more than 45 seconds), I went right back to talking with my sister-in-law, playing with Lois, or laughing with Jordan. For this reason, I had no idea how far along I was.

Eventually, I decided it would be good for Emilie to take Lois back to their house and for Jordan and I to be alone while I labored. So, we said goodbye and headed back to our apartment where we continued to talk, laugh and even do the daily reading from the Book of Common Prayer. 

I had been texting Sara, my friend, mentor and midwife, throughout the day to keep her updated on what was happening, basically ending each text with “but I don’t really think I’m very far along so you don’t need to come yet”. Finally, I just told her “well, I’m still feeling fine and normal between contractions, but if you want to just come and hang out and knit or something, that would be fine…its up to you.” Truthfully, the only reason I even said that was because I had been to enough births, seen and heard enough women in labor that I knew the sounds I was making during each contraction were sounds that would have caused me to call the midwife if I had been with another women. So, Sara told me she’d go home and change, make a couple stops on the way and then she’d be there. 

But for now, it was just me and Jordan. Together we entered into this very sacred space of hard work and pain on behalf of one we love and will love so deeply. I looked around our room, my birth space, that I had slowly been preparing for weeks…it was filled with flowers, candles and birth affirmations from friends that said things like “I can do hard things”, “you are amazing…and a badass”, “Oh my heart, I would gladly suffer this pain and more to hold you in my arms at last” and “surrender opens the door to receiving.” We were together and exactly where we needed to be, in the place we felt most safe….and we would meet our baby today. 

An interesting and beautiful thing to note is that before the boiler room bought the house we live in, it functioned as a neighborhood brothel…a place for women to be bought and sold for their bodies. On this day, it went from brothel to birth house…a place where women were disrespected, to a place where a little girl was born and loved so tenderly. This part of the story matters to me…its a part that screams of redemption and hope…and I pray our girls life will always scream of redemption and hope.

Around 3:45/4pm, my sister friend, neighbor, and birth photographer (fellow midwifery student, co-leader/elder in our church community, mama mentor, etc etc etc) came over, followed shortly by Sara, the midwife. 

As soon as they each walked into the apartment, I greeted them from my bedroom with a cheery “hello!!”…at which, they both rolled their eyes a little and thought to themselves “we’re going to be here a while if she is that pleasant still”…however, moments later they heard me in the middle of a contraction and realized that the exact opposite was true…baby was on her way and we were real close to the end. 

So, they set up their supplies and came in close…still chatting, laughing and enjoying our time together. 

Soon, however, I came to a physical and emotional shift…I knew my baby would be here very soon, knew I was almost done and the weight of all that that meant hit me pretty hard and I started to freak out a little bit. Sara held my face while I cried, reminded me that I was strong enough and I wasn’t alone, and kissed me on the forehead. So, I took a deep breath, looked at the loving and supportive faces surrounding me, and dove into the last leg of this journey. 

This last leg was intense. My water broke, popped like a balloon, around 4:30. Made such a loud noise that it startled jordan and I and made us laugh. As soon as it broke, Eliza’s head hit my pelvic bones, separated them and started to move through, bringing with it the most intense pain I have ever experienced. 

I panicked. I called out for help. I tried to run from it and panicked even more knowing that I couldn’t escape. That lasted for 2 contractions that felt like 2 hours. The last two contractions were still intense, but I felt like I stopped running, came back into an awareness of my body and worked with it to birth her sweet head, followed shortly by her tiny body. 4:43pm. 

I did it. It was over. My littlest girl was here and crying and perfectly pink and strong. 

Eliza Dawn was home. 

After Sara got everything cleaned up and had me sitting up in bed with my new baby, she walked into the room with a chocolate chip cookie the size of my face…my love language. Turns out, one of the stops she made on the way to my house was Nantucket Bakery for cookies. Gosh I love her. Then Jordan came in with a fresh gin & tonic, my postpartum drink of choice, for me to enjoy on this warm summer day. Quite literally, everything felt perfect…only Lois was missing from this picture.

About an hour after Eliza was born and Sara was finished stitching me, Emilie and Kirk brought Lois back for to meet her little sister…she walked into the room with a bit of a scowl on her face, confused as to why there was a baby nursing where she normally nurses. But soon, she was up on our bed, studying Eliza, saying her name, touching her face and nursing alongside her. I was all sorts of emotions. While I was pregnant, I had no idea how to prepare a 1 and a half year old for the birth of their sibling…I read her books, repeated “we’re going to have a baby” and “theres a baby in mamas belly” about 1000x’s…but I didn’t know if anything clicked for her. So, I prayed that the Father would make a space in Lois’ heart for her sister…that when Eliza was born, Lois could look at her and say “oh here you are…i’ve been waiting for you!” rather than feeling jealous and upset. And, truthfully, that has been what its like. Lois loves her little sister, repeats her name all day every day, and smiles at her even through tears. It has been such a joy and relief to see this relationship start so easily. 

So now we have two little girls…two sweet gifts that we never could’ve imagined and barely know what to do with. We are taking it all one day, one moment, one need at a time and trying to be present in it all…which is really all we can do, right?

birth :: troy allen

"The birth went SO fast that there wasn't a whole lot of time to soak in the whole laboring aspect this time around. Jed and I went from doing our normal routine putting Spencer down to bed to sitting on the toilet feeling the urge to push and then the next thing I know, Yolanda (midwife) is here and things have moved to the bedroom where I didn't leave until Troy arrived." 

Those are Kati's summary thoughts on the home birth of her second son. She didn't even make it to the birth tub as she had hoped, and I didn't even make it to the actual moment of birth! Troy was born just a minute or two before I walked in the door to the sound of a newborn's cry, then around the corner into the bedroom where I saw Kati and Jed still flushed and looking a bit stunned over the reality of a baby so soon in their arms!

It's a common question that I get, by the way, the question of "what if you miss the birth?" And I have to tell the truth, which is that in spite of all my fast-action to get out the door, the advance prep of my camera bag and birth bag, and my efforts of quick response time to any text communication, there WILL be those times when I miss a birth and it isn't anybody's fault, it was just unavoidable. The good news it that that usually means the birth was smooth and all is well, as precipitous labors tend to be healthy ones. There is, of course, that little shoulder-slump of disappointment when I narrowly miss THE moment. On the other side of that brief set-back, however, there's all THIS: the fresh glow of golden hour with a still-wet newborn laid on his mama's heart, the first latch, the fingers of parents tracing every soft curve of baby's face, the tender newborn exam, and -- if we're lucky -- the moment the older sibling(s) meet the baby, too. It's not too late for any of that. :)

Without further ado, I offer you, the very freshest moment of Kati and Jed and Spencer with their newest family member, Troy. 

birth :: raela jane

This was Jessica's second home birth and I got to be with her for both (Here is Will's story). It's been SUCH an honor and gift to watch their family grow. 

Also, I brought my newborn along to her birth at her invitation, since she knew I was a bit nervous about photographing a birth so soon after my own. So that explains the other baby you'll see in the photos below. 

Jessica's written birth story follows the images. Please take a moment to comment to encourage and congratulate her! 

I was nervous. Really nervous. I didn’t want to go for the non-stress test (NST). At 42 weeks and 2 days, I didn’t want to hear that everything was fine with the baby and to just keep waiting patiently for labor to start. But I also didn’t want to find out my baby wasn’t doing well and that I needed to be induced or have a cesarean. In my mind, it was basically a lose-lose scenario I was facing. No matter what the result, I wasn’t going to be happy.

I had tried almost everything to get this baby out – eating spicy food, fresh pineapple, six dates a day from 38 weeks, walking, bouncing on my birth ball, stairs, sex, drinking really strong red raspberry leaf tea, massaging pressure points with essential oils, chiropractic adjustments, pleading and bargaining with God, and at 41 weeks and 3 days, I had my midwife sweep my membranes. You could say I was getting desperate. I felt like I had been pregnant forever and would be pregnant forever. The excitement over meeting my baby girl had dwindled because I had lost hope that she was ever going to come. It didn’t help that I started having prodromal/practice labor at 38 weeks. Or that there had been at least three times where I was convinced it was baby day, so we shipped our three-year old son Will off to my mom’s. Andy was getting really good at setting up the room where I was planning to give birth to our daughter… and then having to put it all away when my contractions would peter out.

The boredom. I was so bored. My “to do before baby” list had been done for weeks. I was sick of take-out food and wanted to eat the freezer meals I had prepped for postpartum. I was hormonal and crying every day. I was short-tempered with Will. I was just over it. And I was incredibly sick of people telling me their stories of how long they were pregnant or telling me to “enjoy these last days with Will” or “enjoy the last baby kicks”. Clearly none of them had gone past their due dates. I was so over my pregnancy.

I was also sure my birth team was about to fire me. I had sent so many texts so many different times to give them the “heads up” that I was afraid they wouldn’t take me seriously when (if??) the day actually came. Or more likely, I would hold off on calling them when I actually was in labor and end up giving birth alone.

Our midwife, Jennifer knew I was at the end of my rope. On Sunday (February 5), she dropped off some homeopathics for me to use to try to kick-start labor. “Just remember, if your body isn’t ready, they won’t do anything,” she told me. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d heard that already. I just wanted to try it. I was running out of things to try.

The next morning (February 6), I woke up with a lower back ache and what felt like period cramps. I thought, “Okay, great. Here we go again.” I didn’t really put much thought into it, sent Andy off to work, and proceeded with a typical Monday: breakfast for me and Will, playing with Will as best I could at 42 weeks pregnant, etc. I was supposed to go for my NST that afternoon, but hadn’t yet heard what time. We had been living one day at a time, not knowing when I might go into labor, so I hadn’t showered the night before or really had a plan for how to get ready for my appointment while wrangling my energetic three-year old. I ended up calling my mom and asking if she could come for an hour so I could shower and get ready. My plan was to actually “get ready” for my appointment – do my hair and put on make-up (what?!) so I didn’t look like the worn down, 42-weeks pregnant lady that I certainly was and felt like. I had been having some contractions that morning, but since I’d been having them for weeks, I again ignored it.

When I was in the shower, I noticed that a couple of the contractions were getting stronger than the ones earlier that morning. I decided to start keeping an eye on the clock to see if there was any consistency to them. I noticed after my shower that I had a missed call from the hospital regarding scheduling my NST, so after getting dressed, I called back. As I sat on hold, I had another stronger contraction… 10 minutes after the previous one. By the end of the call, I knew what time my NST was scheduled for (1:30 that afternoon), and was on my knees in front of the couch after another stronger contraction… 8 minutes after the previous one. Maybe I wouldn’t be going for the NST? I could only hope.

At 10:00, I sent Andy a text putting him on alert that I’d been having contractions every 8-10 minutes consistently, and suggested he work from home that afternoon. When he didn’t reply after a few minutes, I called. He hadn’t seen my text. I told him my contractions were 8-10 minutes apart. He said he had some work to finish up but would then head home. He listened as I breathed through a contraction. He said he could leave work in about an hour and we said goodbye. I thought, “Okay, that’s fine. This will probably peter out anyway.” My mom had come upstairs while I was finishing up my call with Andy and another contraction started. I told her she should probably take Will to her house, and I helped to pack up his things. Will asked me if his baby sister was coming today, and I told him “maybe”. My mom wasn’t 100% comfortable leaving me by myself, but I assured her that even if I was in labor, I wouldn’t be having the baby in the next hour.

Soon after my mom and Will left, I called my midwife to let her know what time the NST was scheduled for (she was planning to meet me at the hospital) and to let her know about my contractions. She told me to keep her posted. Lucky for me, my midwife’s birth assistant lives next door to us and was my doula for Will’s birth. I sent her a text asking if she could come over until Andy got home from work in about an hour. I sent my doula, Emily, a text apologizing for the short notice and asking if she could come as soon as possible. I also sent our photographer a text and let her know what was going on as well. I was pretty sure this was it, but was still hesitant. I hated putting everyone on alert, but thought I’d better just in case.

Less than an hour after my first call to him, I called Andy again to see what his status was – was he still at work or on his way home? At this point, my contractions had really picked up and were 3-4 minutes apart. He had just left work, which meant it would be about 20 minutes until he was home. Our neighbor and birth assistant arrived shortly after that call and found me sitting on my birth ball leaning on the bed with my laptop playing my birth playlist. Our doula arrived soon after, and then Andy was home.

After being at our house for about an hour, our neighbor/birth assistant left to go pick up her babysitter. I was about to ask her if she thought I would be having the baby today, then realized if she was getting her babysitter, it meant I most likely was. This was real. Our doula reheated some macaroni and cheese for me to eat and I had some fresh pineapple – all between contractions that were getting increasingly more intense. Around 12:30 our neighbor/birth assistant returned, and our midwife arrived shortly thereafter.

I spent the next hour and a half laboring on my birth ball, on hands and knees, on the toilet, and standing/leaning on Andy. As a doula myself, I realized I was silently “doula-ing” myself after each contraction, recognizing where I was tensing up and telling myself during the next contraction to try to relax more. At one point, while in the bathroom, I picked up on discussions happening outside the bathroom about getting the pool set-up. At 2:00, I asked if I could get into the pool and was told I could. Immediately, I felt the baby moving around, trying to get into the ideal position to be born. Our photographer arrived and had her 8 week old baby girl with her. I had told her she could bring her along and hearing her daughter’s coos and cries I think helped with getting my oxytocin flowing for birthing my own baby girl. A second midwife arrived around 2:00 as well. I continued laboring in the pool. My contractions were so strong, and I kept reminding myself to breathe and to try and relax through each one. Andy was on one side of me holding my hand, and our doula was on the other side holding my hand and giving me drinks of water between contractions. Each contraction felt stronger than the one before it and it was getting harder and harder to relax. The words, “I can’t do this” left my mouth several times.

I felt nauseated. I was shaking. I felt like I needed to push, but how could that be? It was too soon. I didn’t want to push if my cervix wasn’t dilated all the way, if my body wasn’t ready. How could it be ready already? Our midwife told me that if I felt like I needed to push, I could push. Pushing hurt. Pushing was scary. I didn’t want to tear like I did with Will’s birth. Our midwife knew this and reminded me to push gently and to blow through my contractions. It was so hard. At one point, I lost my rhythm and breath. I screamed. I wanted to stand up and run away from my labor. But I couldn’t. My labor was me – my body – doing the work to birth my daughter. I kept at it.

I never got to feel Will’s head as he was being born due to the position in which I was pushing. But when my midwife told me my daughter’s head was out and that I could reach down and feel her, I did. She told me that when I felt ready, I could push the rest of her body out. One push. One more push. And there she was! “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus,” was all I could say after such an intense labor. I wasn’t pregnant anymore! My baby was here! Raela Jane was here. Finally! Hallelujah!

(I had hoped for my baby to be born en caul (in the bag of waters) and she almost was! Somewhere between birthing her head and shoulders, the bag broke. I had been unaware of it, but Andy saw it happen.)

Although it had felt like I had been pushing for an hour, it had only been 15 minutes! And after delivering the placenta and getting checked out, I was told I didn’t have any tears and didn’t need any stitches! Praise the Lord!

Raela had a great latch and nursed right away. Andy took her while I used the bathroom, got dressed, and settled in on our bed. Our midwife did the newborn exam right there on our bed. Everyone guessed at how much she would weigh – my guess being the highest at 9 lbs 1 oz. When our midwife weighed Raela, she exclaimed, “Oh, Jessica!” and I thought my guess had been right on the mark. Then she said, “She’s 9 lbs 12 oz!” Oh my goodness! I seriously had just pushed an almost 10 lb baby out my vagina and didn’t tear?!?! I was beyond thankful!

Raela was perfect. A little extra wrinkly and dry from being 16 days past her estimated due date, but everything else was perfect. A six hour labor and 15 minutes of pushing, and she was here. Our doula had made my requested tatertot breakfast casserole for us to eat that night, and our birth team started heading their own separate ways after Andy, Raela and I were settled in. My mom and Will came for a short visit and to bring a birthday cake for Raela. Upon meeting his sister, Will exclaimed, “I waited a long time for baby sister to get here!” So did we, buddy. So did we.

birth :: laelia lore

In the past I've written out my brief account of each birth I attend as a photographer. But as I'm learning more about birth work, I'm learning that it's important to use caution when adding one's own version of a mother's birth as a layer over their own perception and experience. It is better to let them find their own words to tell it and meaning for it first, only adding one's own when invited to do so. So this year you'll notice a difference in how I blog birth stories. Birth Story posts will either include the birth story written by the mama herself OR some bare bones facts from me, but not a narrative by me. In doing this, I hope to leave each family the space to own their stories fully, while letting the photos speak for themselves. 

Below, the photos are posted first. For those interested (which I hope is everyone!) in reading Iona's beautifully written account of her daughter's birth, it's at the END of this post. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read it!

From my perspective, I only want to say this: that developing a trusting relationship with Iona during our pregnancies, holding space for her during her birth and witnessing how beautifully she brought her daughter earth-side was truly such a fortifying gift to receive just days before my own labor and birth. I'm forever grateful. (Laelia was born 12.11 and my Maeve was born 12.16)

I was told while pregnant with my first, that every birth is different.  My first born's birth was very difficult, I suffered from back labor, my water was broken for at least a week before I even went into labor (which we did not find out until I was pushing), then after hours and hours and hours of pushing, he finally arrived, only to have his shoulder stuck with his cord around his neck!  After the delivery I had extreme bleeding where I needed to have a shot of pitocin, which thankfully slowed the bleeding down.  I thought after his birth, that maybe I would only have one.  However as he began to grow, so did my desire to have another, which brings us to the birth story of Laelia Lore.

As soon as we found out we were expecting again, I immediately text my midwife Sara to let her know, and set up our first appointment.  A few weeks later I scheduled our birth photographer Brooke.  She was a available for the photography, but we needed a backup just in case because we were only due 12 days apart!

My estimated due date came and went, which wasn't much of a surprise because I did not go into labor with my first until almost two weeks past.  As luck would have it  I came down with a cold a day before my estimated date, that would not end!  It did however help my eagerness to go into labor subside, because I just wanted to get better before the baby arrived.  Finally at 6 days "overdue" the cold was gone.  I was told by multiple people that when sickness struck the household around their due date, they went into labor within 2 days.  Of course babies decide when they want to come, and on day 8 of being "overdue", I went  into I don't care/nesting mode.  I shoveled my entire driveway, sidewalk, and porch.  Hauled my heavy vacuum up three flights of stairs to vacuum, then hauled it back down.  Cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen, dusted, etc. I then made some peppermint brownies, hoping maybe that would finally do the trick, but again no.  The next day came, and again there was nothing.  When I went to bed that night, I started to get that feeling of "is this baby ever going to come out?" It also started to drive me crazy that we didn't know the gender.  I just wanted to meet this little baby that had been growing inside me, and I hated that I didn't even know what the sex was, it didn't bother me the entire pregnancy, but it was definitely starting to.  

At around 3:15am on Sunday, December 11 I woke up to use the bathroom, and noticed I was feeling something that maybe could be contractions!  I decided to get something to eat just in case it indeed was and in case is progressed fast.  I ended up not eating at all the day I went into labor with my son, and I was so out of energy by the time I had to push.  I did not want to make that mistake again.  I ended up eating a half a cold burger that was left over from dinner and a brownie (I know funny combo), then I went back upstairs to get more sleep.  I awoke again at around 5:30am, I was still having contractions, but they didn't seem any stronger then the ones I felt only hours before.  I didn't want to wake my husband or son, and was still unsure if this was indeed labor, so I decided to take a bath and start timing them.  I could barely feel anything while I was taking a bath, but I still did have a tightening feeling.  The feeling was coming regularly, so I decided to text Sara and Brooke to let them both know to be on alert because I was in labor!  Sara told me to get more rest and something to eat, she was finishing up with a birth at that moment.  Brooke then text and said to stop timing them as well and just take it easy, and yay I went into labor before her so she would be able to do the photography!  I am so happy she told me to stop timing them because I was so full of adrenaline knowing I'd finally meet my baby soon, timing the contractions only made it worse! My husband Chris text around that time asking if everything was ok.  I responded that I was in early labor, he should get some more rest, and I'd wake him if it picked up.  I went downstairs and napped on our rug in the living room, I was worried about my water breaking on our couch.  There, I slept for another 2 hours.  I was in such a deep state of sleep, it was as if I was not in labor.  I never woke to any contractions.  When I finally did wake, I started stand up, and had a huge surge that paralyzed my body.  My legs were so stiff, I was frozen in a hands and knees position.  It was as if my baby and my body were wanting me to get that rest, and all of the contractions that would've been, went into that one huge contraction.  When the contraction was over, I got up waiting for the next one.  When it came, it again was very mild and gentle like the earlier ones.  

At about 8:30am my husband and son were finally awake, and we started to make breakfast.  My mom was also now on her way to help out with our son throughout the labor.  Sara text around then asking how things were progressing.  I told her that there was a lot of love in the house, we were about to eat breakfast, and that I thought this would be a long labor because everything was still so mild. She then told me that she had to head off to Greenville now, because someone else went into labor before I did!  I told her not to worry, this baby has a plan, and that everything was going to work out.  That made her feel a bit more at ease with having to attend birth number two in 12 hours, and being 30-45 minutes away from birth number three!  We then ate our last breakfast as a family of three, and my mom arrived.  I decided after breakfast I was going to take a shower.  I still felt as though my labor was not progressing, but wow did that shower feel amazing!  I did not want to get out!  Chris came up to check on me, I told him I was enjoying this time alone, so he let me be.  I then exited the shower, dried my hair, and got dressed.  

I had not been contacting Sara because of her being at another birth, and because of my slow progressing labor.  Brooke and I were keeping in contact, she offered earlier to come by because of my not being able to have Sara there.  The fact this was not a textbook labor had me very confused, but I declined because I was enjoying my time alone, and was worried about wasting anyone's time by being here. 

Since I felt that this labor was going to last days because of the mild contractions, I decided I was going to lie down for yet another nap!  This time it was a little harder to relax throughout the contractions, but I was still able to fall into a half sleep.  At around 12:30pm I got up from my third nap, and text Brooke again shortly after.  She asked me questions about the contractions, then told me to tell her to come before I felt she needed me to.  I asked her if she was saying that because of the weather (I failed to mention earlier the fact we were in the midst of a serious stow storm for the past 12 hours) or if it was because of my being further along then I realized.  She responded back with both, then elaborated with just because the contractions were inconsistent, did not mean they were not doing anything.  I decided after that conversation that I would try and eat again (remember I thought this would be a marathon labor) so I grabbed some almonds and sat on a birth ball.  I started asking Chris what he thought, how far along did he think I was?  He told me I seem to be in control of it all, and what did I think.  I also asked my mom, she was beginning to get a little worried because she said that I had been in labor now for over nine hours, which was how long my first labor was, and this was my second. 

About an hour after that text, still trying to figure out how far along I was, I broke down and started crying.  I was again asking Chris for his opinion, when I felt the anxiety fill me, then fear of no one being here to attend.  I knew at that moment that I needed someone there.  Thanks to the Bradley Method classes I took when pregnant with my son, I knew that I must be in transition!  I immediately text both Becky (student midwife with Sara) and Brooke, I told them I was crying and I needed someone with me now!  I still had it in the back of my head that this would be the longest labor ever, and was worried I'd be wasting their time, but I was crying.  Sara was still in Greenville at that time, but Brooke was on her way!  She first had to pick up Sara's mom, Anni, who is also a midwife, just in case Sara and Becky would not make it in time. They were just finishing up with the birth in Greenville when I text. As soon as I knew Brooke was on her way the contractions seemed to pick up.  They were growing in strength, and the time inbetween was decreasing, I was growing extremely anxious. I practiced my deep breathing, and moaning instead of screaming (again something I learned from my previous labor) I read my birth affirmations aloud through each contraction, why could I still speak during these!?

Sometime just after 2:00pm Brooke and Anni arrived!  They walked into the house while I was in the middle of a contraction, Anni asked where I'd like to have the baby.  What? I had to think of a place!? I had just been letting everything happened however it was, I hadn't put any thought into it!  I decided upstairs in our bedroom seemed fitting, so off Anni and Chris went to get the bed and room ready.  I sent my mom and son downstairs, and Brooke stayed with me.  I had to use the bathroom, I pulled down my skirt and underwear and there it was, my bloody show.  I stood up on the toilet and walked into the kitchen where I all of a sudden felt the urge to push.  There was so much pressure!  We then went upstairs to my bedroom where I had another contraction at the side of my bed.  I had had a dream weeks before of this pain free labor, standing by my fireplace letting my baby push its way out.  That was almost exactly what was happening!  I was having a love hate relationship with the pushing while standing, but continued to stand for a couple more pushes.   Anni told me I was strong enough, and that I could do it, but to me it did not feel right.  I squatted at the side of the bed, and that's when my water broke.  I also did not like the feeling of squatting, so back to standing I went.  Then there was another contraction, the head was almost to the surface.  I fell forward onto my bed, yes that was the postion I wanted! Chris grabbed the ball downstairs for me to lean on, it was perfect! At about that same time Sara and Becky also arrived, Brooke went downstairs to let them in.  They came upstairs, I was continuing to push.  Oxytocin then filled the room, I thanked the beautiful life inside me for being so patient and kind, and for waiting to make sure everyone was there. Tears filled the room.  They had me lift my right leg because the baby's hand was by it's face,  and the baby was starting to bruise.  Anni came up towards my face and told me to close my mouth and use that energy and push down and out.  I started to feel that ring of fire, and thought in my head, why did I decide to do this again?  After a few more good pushes the head was out, one push later came the body.  I saw my beautiful baby lying on my bed then looked down and saw it was a GIRL!!!  The most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen, I again felt the surge of oxytocin. Our beautiful daughter Laelia Lore was born at 3:07pm.  Only about an hour after Anni and Brooke arrived, and only 10 minutes after Sara and Becky arrived.  My mom and son decided to sneak upstairs, they couldn't hear a thing downstairs, and wanted to listen for any signs of anything.  I am so grateful the snuck up when the did because they heard Laelia's first cry.  "The baby sounds like a tiger" my son told my mom. The placenta came shortly after (again another surprise, my sons took forever to deliver).  Becky showed the placenta to me, then scooped it away to make me a delicious (I'm not kidding) smoothie.  They checked to see how I was bleeding, and they said everything was great.  No shot of pitocin this time! 

The saying every birth is different could not be more true, I seriously went from one extreme, to the other.  My baby and body were the perfect team, and I could not be more grateful for how that entire day went, it was magical.