The Birth of Boaz Lee Stark

As I’m sitting here, at home, in bed, nursing my sweet little Boaz, I am journaling about the beauty of today and thought I would share a short version of our birth story with all of our friends and family that have prayed about Boaz’s birth for weeks now.

It is fresh on my mind and so incredibly exciting! As many of you know, I had been in prodromal labor for weeks and honestly thought for about the last month that I would have this baby “any day now.” But 40 weeks passed … and then at 41weeks I was starting to wonder if my dream for a natural, out-of -hospital-birth would become a reality….. Well on that last night….. I stayed up watching treehouse masters until 10 pm with my friend Tara, and once again, we made plans for the following day, trying not to get my hopes up that this baby was going to come any time soon.

At 1am, I woke up with some strong contractions but lay in bed for a few minutes thinking they may go away. At 1:15am I woke Jared up and said “I think this is it”. Jared sent a text to our midwife, Connie, and we decided to stay around the house for an hour and time the contractions. They were 5 minutes apart so she let us know if we wanted to, we could labor at our house a bit longer. Jared told her we’d come to the birth center at 3am.

In between the contractions I got ready, grabbed some last minute things to take with us, checked on the kids and then insisted that the giant watermelon on our counter needed to come to the birth center with us in bite size cubes. My very kind husband with his “are you serious” look happily obliged.

Thankfully our wonderful friend Tara had come in from El Paso this particular week just to be of help so she was able to stay home with our sleeping boys. I woke Tara up and told her we were leaving; it was 2:55am.

The ride to the birth center was a little rough … and as Jared puts it, “I only got yelled at two times and my hand should be better in a couple of weeks”. I told him the whole way there that I better be at least 6cm because these contractions really suck. We prayed together before going into the birth center and got settled in while the contractions got even harder. At 3:30am Connie checked me and I was definitely not 6 cm…. I was a 9!!!! She filled the birth pool and called her assistant, Katie.

Both sets of our parents were on their 30th anniversary trips at least 3 hours away. My mom was going to be my birth photographer but I knew there was no way she would make it to Katy in time. Fortunately, a few days before, I had asked Sara Griffin if she would be interested in being our go-to photographer if my mom couldn’t make it and thankfully she said she would love to. I called her immediately and asked if she could come up to the birth center. Sara showed up very soon after and truly became a part of our family through this experience.

The next 3 hours of transition labor and pushing were the most difficult, painful and powerful moments of my life. Worship music playing, prayers being spoken and pleading with The Lord. All I could do was to get through each contraction… Connie held my hands and spoke scripture aloud, her eyes were my focal point, while Jared used every pressure point and massage technique to try and relieve the pain. He coached me through breathing, Katie continually gave me sips of juice and water and spoke soft sweet words and Sara took moments away from her camera to wipe hair of my face and affirm me. It was truly a room filled with the Holy Spirit.

I labored in the pool until it was close to time to push then I moved to the bed. I always thought delivering in the water is what I wanted but my body took over and once I got to the bed I knew he was coming. I labored a short time more and felt the urge to push. After17 min of pure adrenaline, and by the grace of God, Boaz Lee Stark was born into the world screaming and super healthy. He was born a strong 8lbs 4oz and 20.8 inches long. I’ve never felt so elated, grateful and at peace. Thank you to my Heavenly Father! He created the spectacular and miraculous beauty of birth! I’ve never in my life felt so close to my creator.

My parents arrived just moments after he was born and got to meet their fourth grandson. That beautiful and tiny vintage home was filled to the brim with love for Boaz. Jared and I are so thankful for Katy Birth Center and the wonderful and wholesome birth experience.

The Birth of Boaz Lee Stark (in pictures)

The Birth of Miles Tymniak

A birth story starts a long time before the actual birth: all the preparation, physical and mental, is an integral part of the story. For Nick and me, there was much anxiety and doubt before the calm and excitement about homebirth set in. Sometimes it is good to be anxious and doubt on the journey, so when we arrive at our destination, our vision is clearer and heart is lighter.

After months of Braxton Hicks I had a period of calm and I felt like I was disappointing people around me every day when they checked on me. Then I had a couple of days when Braxton Hicks were strong and all through the day. It meant nothing to me since little one (LO) actually moved back up. At my appointment with my midwife, Natalie, I felt like I was the problem, just not mentally ready for the birth. I was preparing myself for a long hard labor, since with my first birth my contractions did not pick up and with Pitocin it took hours.

November 1st was my due date with Natalie, which was based on my charting and not my last missed period. When I got home from work, I decided that I REALLY did not want to go to work the next day and was really ready for the LO to come. I even had my son Nathaniel tell his little brother to come. That evening we took Nathaniel to a playground, I was swinging for a while, then we took the long way home and I walked as fast as I could. We ate dinner and put Nathaniel to bed as usual, nothing exciting. I took a shower and started watching some TV with Nick around 9pm. Then, I noticed real contractions, with a build-up and a peak and release. I though little of it until I realized I had 3 during a 20 minute TV show episode. I told Nick that we might have a baby that night. He looked at me strangely and I told him I’ve been having contractions for the past 40 minutes. He freaked out a little and downloaded an app to time the contractions. It was a bit challenging because I started running off to the bathroom with an upset stomach. Having contractions on the toilet was not fun.

Nick asked if he should call Natalie and I said we should wait, even though each contraction was closer and closer to the previous one. I just could not believe this was the real thing and I that I was timing contractions correctly. Just in case, I decided to go ahead and make the birthday cake I was planning on making during my long labor… I figured worst case scenario I would have to make another one on a different day. By this point I started walking circles around the house during contractions. Nick asked if he should start filling the birth pool just in case, but I was just not sure.  He did decide he should run to the store to get ice and a veggie tray for snacks. He started filling the pool and called Natalie about 10:30. I told her that we might have a baby that night, but did not want her to come because I was not sure this was the real thing. I had contractions while on the phone with her, but held conversation; Natalie asked if I had any blood (no) and told me to take a bath and see if contractions would stop. Nick left to the store and I finished the cake between contractions and ran a bath. By then I gave up timing my contractions, last time I did they were 3 min apart. Before the bath I went to the restroom and noticed some blood. I texted Natalie about it and she said she was coming to check me.  She would rather make a trip for nothing than miss the birth. I got into the bath, had one horrible contraction when I could not move around and promptly got out. I wanted to shave and put on some make up, but my contractions were strong and close together, so I mainly leaned on the couch and swayed and squatted, which made it more intense, but felt more productive. Thinking of a flower opening, like I read in birth stories, made it more intense.

Nick was still at the store when Nathaniel started crying, so I had to go to his room even though I was scared how he would take it if I had a contraction in front of him. As Ina May stories mention, my contractions just stopped cold turkey while I was in his room and I felt silly that Natalie was on her way. Once I left his room 5 min later, contractions picked up where they left off, fast and furious. Holding on to the couch, I thought that I might not be able to make it through hours of “this” and realized that I was probably in transition. That scared me and I decided to lay down to hopefully slow things down until Nick got home. It worked for a few blissful minutes. Then another contraction came and I grunted a little. That really scared me more because I realized I was starting to push. Then Nick came home and tried to ask me something and instead heard me grunt. He knew what it meant. I asked him to call Natalie and see where she was. Thankfully, she was on our street. I moved to the toilet because I felt like I had another round of upset stomach. I definitely started pushing hard once there. Next thing, Natalie was there with huge eyes telling me it was ok, she was there. I told her I was not sure if I was supposed to push, all confused about how in the world I was pushing already!!

Miles2Poor Natalie had a procedure done on her wrist that day and was not supposed to get it wet. But, there was no time for the back-up midwife to show up, so Nick wrapped tape around the glove the best he could and she checked me. The baby was “right there” and she told me to go to the birth pool right away if I wanted to deliver there. I was not sure what I wanted to do because I did not want her to get her hand wet. So we argued a little (somewhere in there I told Nick to get the camera). Another contraction hit and pop, my water broke. Natalie and I just paused for a second and I dashed to the birth pool. Nick had changed into his swim trunks when he got home and realized how close we were, but he never got into the pool. I pushed for a total of 10 minutes after Natalie came and Miles Ethan was born. I felt the head pop out, then the shoulders and the rest of the body slide out. I never felt these things with Nathaniel’s birth because I was overwhelmed by Pitocin contractions. When his head came out, Natalie checked for the cord and then took over the camera while Nick caught the baby. Miles cried immediately once he was out of the water. I sent Nick to wake up Nathaniel. He came to meet his brother and was super excited and gave him a kiss. The placenta was delivered. I moved to the bed and took pictures of Nick and Nathaniel cutting the cord together. Miles was 8 lb 4.5 oz, 21 inches long with 14+ cm head born at 12:48am.

The back-up midwife and Nick’s mom came shortly thereafter. Nick got his wish, a private birth, and I got mine, Nathaniel was at home with us. Nick was also right about a short labor – under 4 hours. There was a lot of paperwork, breastfeeding, some stitches, herbal bath and champagne in the next few hours.

Miles’ home birth gave me the biggest “high”, I could not even sleep. It was such an amazing experience, even though Nick was not there to help me with labor and Natalie barely made it. It was fun and it was amazing!


The Birth of Josiah Daniel Terrell

The birth of Josiah Daniel was such a different experience than the birth of his older sister, Esther Ruth.  I had experienced her long, grueling birth just 16 months before, so it was somewhat fresh on my mind as Josiah’s due date inched closer.  I had 3 days of prodromal labor with Esther that culminated into a 16-hour intense time with a 5 hour transition.  In the end, even after my pleadings that I couldn’t do it anymore, she was born complication-free in the birth tub at Katy Birth Center.  It was nothing short of a miracle, as every birth is, but the fear that Josiah’s labor would be just as grueling on me haunted me for the entire 41 weeks and 4 days I was pregnant.

Connie was my faithful midwife for Esther and Josiah, and Chelsea Campbell was my doula for both as well, which was a wonderful blessing to us.  To have 2 women who knew my body and how I labored was a gift from God.  Throughout the months of pregnancy with Josiah, Connie and Chelsea kept reminding me through my fears that every labor is different.  Not only will Josiah’s be different than Esther’s, but I’m not a first-time mom anymore so my body is more knowledgeable about what is going on.  That was a helpful reminder as the due date inched closer, and then inched past while I went 1 ½ weeks overdue.

IMG_3717I kept trying to remind myself that Josiah would come when he was ready and I just needed to wait and be patient.  Besides, I had a sweet 16-month-old daughter who would soon not be the only child, so my husband and I spent as much time with her as we could, soaking up the joy of having just a toddler to take care of.

The week before September 17 (his due date) I started having more intense Braxton Hicks and contractions.  I was certain he would make his appearance early.  Besides, Esther’s prodromal labor started a day before her due date and she was born 2 days after her due date.  I figured if I went on time with my first, I was for sure going to go early or at least on time with my second.  But Josiah had other plans.  The contractions (although minor) and Braxton Hicks continued minimally for 3 ½ weeks until I was 41 ½ weeks.  At that point we were talking about natural induction techniques because I did NOT want care to be transferred at 42 weeks.  I was walking, lunging, bouncing on the birth ball, taking steps two at a time, curb-walking, eating spicy foods, and taking herbal induction drops.  My Biophysical Profile was scheduled for Thursday afternoon (41+2) and Debbie, the ultrasound technician, gave us the surprise of our life when she laughed and said, “The ultrasound is predicting an 11.6 pound baby!”  My husband and I were incredulous and various options immediately popped into our minds.  Do we continue on the birth center, natural birth route, knowing that the baby could potentially be larger than what I could birth?  Or do we go to the hospital and induce?  Another piece of the puzzle was that I still had a posterior cervix, even being late with a second baby, and I was only dilated to 1 cm and 50% effaced.  So, had I been medically induced, would it even work before they gave up, called it lack of progression, and gave me a C-section?  There seemed to be no good answers but John and I prayed for wisdom and met with Connie to discuss our options.  She gave us the herbal induction methods, the breast pump, the command to walk, and said she wouldn’t let us go past 42 weeks without transferring care.  After that meeting I felt like the clock was ticking.  Thankfully, Josiah was doing well, the placenta was still healthy, the fluid levels were great, and there was no cause for any concern with his health.  That was an answer to prayer and a weight off our shoulders.

IMG_3830            That Thursday night I met with Chelsea who was not only my doula, but also a midwife-in-training and a massage therapist.  She did some induction acupressure on me just to try and see if it would do anything.  She had tried the same technique 1 ½ weeks earlier with no success so I didn’t have my hopes up.  In my mind I assumed and was planning that I would have to transfer to a hospital at 42 weeks and have Josiah lying down in a hospital bed.  Needless to say, I was discouraged.  This baby did not seem to want to come out!  When I came home Thursday night after the acupressure, nothing really felt different.  However, I woke up Friday morning at 5:30 to go to the bathroom and instead felt water leaking out.  A contraction followed, which wasn’t too rare as I had been having minor ones for 3 ½ weeks, but as the day wore on and more and more water either flowed or leaked out, I knew I was on the clock.  In addition to the induction techniques Connie had given me, I continued to walk (even in the Houston heat and humidity) and included Esther in on it.  If I was going to get these contractions going with walking, I might as well spend some quality time with my daughter before my time is taken up with a newborn!  Contractions were sporadic and not too painful until around 7:30 pm when they started to ramp up in frequency.  By 9 pm I was on the breast pump for an hour with John timing the contractions.  Although they were still not very painful, they were every 7-8 minutes apart and about 1 minute long which gave us hope that something was going to happen either Friday night or Saturday.

I will insert into the story here that I had taken an at-home Hypnobabies Course for this pregnancy.  John and I took a Bradley Method course with Esther but I felt like this time around, I really needed to learn how to relax during the contractions and let my body fully open up without me tensing against the pain.  Weeks and weeks of preparation was leading up to this Friday night and I felt ready.  I watched some television comedy shows on Netflix and then played my Hypnobabies soundtrack when I couldn’t sleep through the contractions anymore.  I sat on the sofa, cross-legged, relaxing through the contractions from midnight until 1:15.  Then the contractions took a noticeable turn and started to overtake my relaxation techniques, coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting 45 seconds to a minute.  I got John up, letting him know they were starting to overwhelm me (all between contractions that were so painful I didn’t know what to do).  The only way I could get through the intensity of each contraction was to stand up and rest my head and hands on a bookshelf.  No amount of massage or comfort from others could help.  In fact, I wanted to be left alone with no one touching me, getting through each contraction in a dark place.

Because I felt like I had hit transition very fast I couldn’t talk on the phone to Chelsea or Connie to let them know I thought I needed to come in because this baby was coming in a matter of minutes.  John called Chelsea who had just finished up another birth at the birth center (there were 2 other births before mine that night, both Connie’s patients, and thankfully both completed by the time I was ready to come in).  She gave me the go-ahead to go into the center.  John scrambled to get the last minute clothes into our birth bag, he told my parents we were leaving (they had come in from out of town to watch Esther), and we were off.

IMG_3711            I had 3 contractions in the 10-minute car ride to the birth center, each one assuring me that this baby must be only minutes away from arriving, and I kept wondering how I had gone from 0-60 in a matter of minutes?  When we arrived at the birth center and I had another contraction getting out of the car, and another one walking up to the door, and another one walking through the door (one on top of the other on top of the other), I asked Connie when I came into the birth room if she had an epidural because I couldn’t handle it.  She led me to the “aquadural” as she called it, or the birth tub, which didn’t help me because all I wanted at 2:45 am on a Saturday morning was an epidural to take away the pain.  Connie checked me and said I was complete.  COMPLETE?  How did I get to that point so quickly?!  We prepared for me to get into the tub which, when contractions are hitting every 45 seconds, is a very hard thing to do, and I got into the glorious water that soothed me with Esther’s birth and continued to sooth me with Josiah’s birth.  Then the minutes passed.  Cathy came to be the second midwife for the birth and checked me again at around 3 am.  She said I was back to a 7 because my cervix was still somewhat posterior, so those stubborn 3 cm, which had been an issue with Esther’s birth, were still around for Josiah’s birth.  And through the next hour as I labored under intense, painful, fear-inducing contractions to get those 3 cm out of the way, the pressure to push increased 100-fold.  My cervical lip was still there and it was starting to swell so I was told to not push.  However, I couldn’t help it, just like with Esther’s birth.  Josiah wanted to come out, cervical lip or not.  He was still high though and I kept worrying about his weight.  Was he going to be too big to fit through my pelvis?  If he still wasn’t very low, maybe that was a sign I would have to have a C-section.  And then the thought of being transferred in the condition I was in made me panic, which added to the panic I already had that Josiah couldn’t come out of me without medical intervention.  All of these thoughts swirled through my head as the moments ticked on, the urge to push increased, and the minutes turned to hours (at least in my head).

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and asked Connie to do something about the urge to push.  She ended up pushing back the cervical lip while I would bear down.  It took 10 painful minutes of doing that until his head pushed past the lip and he started to descend down the canal.  I could finally push in earnest!  Connie, Cathy, Chelsea, and John all gathered around the birth tub at 4:50 am as I pushed through the contractions, pushing him lower and lower until his head appeared and came out.  Another push and I thought his shoulders would be out, but even with Connie’s efforts, they were stuck.  The position I was in didn’t seem to be working so they had me move from my back in the birth tub to a lunging position in the tub.  That also didn’t seem to be working so they had me move out of the birth tub and onto the floor on my hands and knees.  Another minute passed and they had me get on my back on the ground, legs pulled to my chest while they pushed my pelvis down.  Thankfully, it worked!  3 minutes of trying to get his shoulders out and it worked!  He was out and on my chest!  I cried, patting him while Natalie, who had also come in the room during the pushing, and Cathy examined my crying little guy on my chest.  John and I rejoiced that he was here and that he was okay!

We let the cord pulsate for about 5-10 minutes, cut it, and then I delivered the placenta.  Josiah continued to cry but that was music to my ears.  The midwives helped me up, led us to the bed, and we spent the next 5 hours getting over the fast but very eventful delivery that had just taken place.

In the end, the labor I dreaded wasn’t what happened at all.  My contractions started in earnest at 9 pm and ramped up at midnight.  I hit transition at 1:30, and he was born at 5:01 am after 10 minutes of pushing.  The delivery of Josiah was difficult but the midwives at the birth center knew what they were doing.  I felt like I was in such capable hands through a very difficult delivery, and even when I could have been scared, they were calm, peaceful, and competent which assured me.  I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be there during the moment I needed them the most.  God used their skills to bring Josiah Daniel into the world, all 10 pounds, 1.7 ounces of him.

The Birth of Emmett Bradley
Getting pregnant for the second time was an exciting moment for my husband Mike and I-he had been trying to convince me to have another baby for quite some time! We realized we had conceived in March 2013 and this news was exactly what I needed. I had just lost my grandmother a few days before finding out I was pregnant and I really needed a little joy during that time. We sat down and thought of all the things we wanted to do differently with this pregnancy and our biggest concern was the delivery. My first child was born in a hospital and that experience was nothing short of a nightmare. What I hated most was that no one listened to me or treated me like I could contribute in any way to the birth of my child. I felt like a science experiment. Read More “The Birth of Emmett Bradley”
Lincoln Azariah’s Birth Story

by Krystal Stahl

Ever since Jackson, our oldest son, was three months old, we really wanted a second baby. Around the time Jackson turned one, we found out that I was pregnant again. My family was in town for Jackson’s first birthday party, and my sister mentioned to me that she thought I was pregnant. I just shrugged my shoulders and told her that I was not going to take a test because I had already taken a dozen of them before, and they were all negative. After a week or so, I took a test, and SURPRISE! – Positive. Matt and I were so excited.

After the not so great hospital birth of Jackson, I knew that I wanted to do things differently this time. All the ladies at church raved about midwives and home-births and water births, and they sounded so much better than the 15 minute OB visits that always seemed rushed, the hospital room with no air conditioning during labor and delivery, and the episiotomy that resulted in a 3rd degree perineum tear. This was all in July, a few weeks before we were to move to Northwest Houston because Matt had just received a promotion, so I put off finding a midwife for awhile until my mom and husband both insisted on me getting the prenatal care that I should have already been receiving.

For awhile, I was very discouraged with my search to find a midwife. All the ones in network with Medi-Share were associated with a hospital, and I knew that I was not going down that road again. Although I was set on having a homebirth, Matt was not, so I turned to the birthing centers. I visited the one in the Woodlands, but it turned out that they did not work with Medi-Share and I didn’t like that you had to see all their midwives instead of having just one who would be with you all the way. It definitely took a while to find Cathy Rude of New Life Birth Services out of the Katy Birth Center, but it was well worth it.

During the next several months, I met with Cathy and Melissa Bates, the midwife in training, at the birth center. Being the introvert that I am, I had a hard time at first opening up to them, but as time passed, things got better. The one thing that I disliked the most throughout most of my pregnancy was the food log because my sugar intake was way out of control, but with Cathy’s advice and constant reminder, I was able to get it under control. Thanks to Cathy I only gained about thirty pounds this time instead of fifty. I felt and looked so much better and did not even feel nine months pregnant at the end of it.

Starting around month seven, Braxton Hicks started. Fun. I know, but I knew that they were just my body’s way of preparing for the upcoming birth and practicing for it. By the 37th week of the pregnancy, I was wishing they were the real deal, but nothing. Cathy would ask me if I had a bloody show or loose bowels or anything else that might mean labor… I would simply reply, “Nope”. The one thing that made the anticipation worse was the fact that Jackson had been born five days early, so we were all thinking that Lincoln would be born early as well. Nope. The days came and went. At the 39th week appointment, Cathy said she thought he would be born that Sunday or Monday… Nope. No Lincoln. Matt stayed home with me that week and the anticipation drove us crazy. We went for walks, took naps with Jackson, went to dinner a couple of times and played Scattergories. Still no Lincoln.

On his due date, March 7th, we had an eight o’clock appointment with Cathy. We were actually late to that one because of traffic and had joked that this time in the morning and between 5-7pm at night would be the absolute worst times for labor to start and were hoping that labor would start while we were on the way and would just have to stay the birth center. That was ideal. Well, we arrived at the birth center and met with Cathy. Since I was forty weeks, Cathy swept my membranes a little and checked dilation. I was excited to find out I was nearly four centimeters. She also felt for Lincoln’s head and said he was in a great position and quite low, but with no contractions, she sent us on our way. On the way out the door, we joked that perhaps they would see us in an hour or maybe that night.

On our way home, I started to feel contractions that were slightly stronger than the Braxton Hicks. I timed them, but they were not regular and I could talk through them. After lunch, I napped with Jackson. Three contractions occurred but then I fell asleep and woke up around 3pm. Matt suggested that we take a walk. As we walked I felt the contractions again. This time I had to slow down when they occurred, but could still walk and talk so I just timed them; five minutes apart, lasting for one minute. We stopped by the leasing office for Matt to sign the renewal lease, and everyone asked when I was due. We even ran into our neighbor who was shocked to find out that I was due that day!

I called Cathy when we got back to the apartment to let her know about the contractions but since they were still somewhat irregular when I walked up the stairs, she told me that it was great, but I needed to continue timing them, eat some dinner, and call her back if they continued. So I cooked dinner, grilled cheese and chips. All throughout I continued to have contractions; still five minutes apart, minute long. I called Cathy again to let her know. She said give her fifteen minutes to get some dinner and then we could leave. That was at 5:55pm. At 6pm I went to the bathroom and there was blood. Not seeing this with Jackson, I was scared, so I immediately called Cathy, and she said that it was normal and that I should leave right away. We left the apartment at 6:05pm with Jackson because we were afraid to drop him off or call someone fearing that we would not make it to the birth center since my previous labor and delivery was so quick.

Of course, Lincoln decided to start things during rush hour and while it was pouring rain. As Matt weaved through traffic, Jackson slept and I sat in the passenger’s seat concentrating on breathing through each contraction. Counting to four as I breathed in, filling my stomach with air, and counting to five as I breathed out, imagining the cervix opening and Lincoln descending. Matt constantly reminded me to breathe and relax as the contractions intensified and grew closer together. By the time we reached the birth center, they were thirty seconds apart and were almost 2 minutes long. Time: 6:45pm.

Not wanting to have the baby in the car, Matt dropped me off at the front door as a contraction ended. Cathy met me in the hallway and directed me to the bed so that she could check me. I was dilated to six centimeters. As she filled the birth pool, we all walked around the room as Jackson sat on the couch. Finally, I was able to get in the pool and the warm water felt great, but at first, I did not like it. Cathy told me to try lying on my back, allowing my body to float and rock it side to side through each contraction. That position and squatting by the side were the best. As each contraction started, I breathed deeply and just closed my eyes.

IMAG0052Finally, the urge to push came. I told Cathy, but fearing that she would tell me not to push since that is what the nurses told me with Jackson, I was a little fearful to hear the same thing. She said okay go ahead! What a relief. She was so calm and hands off for the most part which I really liked. At 7:20, I started pushing. All I could think was get this baby out; just push. I don’t think I breathed very much during each one, but I did scream which caused Matt to cry tears of joy and Jackson to cry out of fear.

His head came out as I felt the ring of fire, but he got stalled at eye level and chin level. I reached down at that point and felt his little head, slimy and hairy, but it filled me with joy and helped me to have the strength to push the rest of the way. Since his cord was wrapped once around his neck, Cathy had to slip it down his shoulder as I worked to keep my body under the water and push. That was hard. His shoulders came, but instead of his body rushing out, I had to push a couple more times to get him all the way out. He was born at 7:26pm.

IMAG0044IMAG0043Cathy pushed him through my legs as I scooped up all nine pounds of him in my arms! He was so beautiful, and I did not even check to see if he was a boy until Connie, the second midwife who was helping Cathy record the birth, reminded me to. Right after I delivered the placenta, Meredith, Cathy’s daughter, walked in. Cathy called her during the pushing to sit with Jackson until Lincoln was born because Matt’s parents still had not arrived. So while, Cathy and Connie worked to get us cleaned up, Meredith played with Jackson in the other room. Matt’s parents and brother arrived about 10 minutes later and took over Jackson who would not come near me or Lincoln. Eventually he did come to see me but only if someone held him.

Having a midwife, actually two, help me out was amazing! Cathy and Connie helped me get into the herbal bath with Lincoln, glue the small labia tear, and performed Lincoln’s tests. They worked so quickly to get things done so that we would be able to go home and go to sleep. I could tell that they both truly cared about my family and me. Cathy also sat down with Matt to make sure he understood everything to do at home and answered all his questions while Connie helped me with breastfeeding. It was a little challenging, but she showed me some great tips that I had forgotten. Matt said afterward that he was so impressed how Cathy handled everything; calm, soothing and just allowed the birth to occur God had intended it to. He raves about it every time we talk about it.

IMAG0051I definitely would not have changed anything about this birth except for maybe calling Matt’s parents earlier and breathing more during the pushing. I could not believe how much better this whole process was than the one with Jackson in the hospital. Having a midwife like Cathy who truly cares about you to monitor your daily food intake and to work with you through your entire labor and delivery was truly a blessing from God. Being at home 3 hours later and in my own bed with our new baby as everyone else sat outside smoking cigars and drinking champagne was also simply wonderful.

Homebirths Becoming More Common Locally, Nationally

Author: Betsy Denson

When Garden Oaks’ Monique Bennett was pregnant with her first child she considered the option of a homebirth but was somewhat wary.

“I only knew one family who had done it,” she said. “Society says you go to the hospital to have a baby.”

After an unplanned hospital C-section, however, she changed her thinking. During her second pregnancy, she sought out a midwife practice that would accommodate her wishes to have a vaginal birth after caesarean, or a VBAC. She found a good fit with Katy Birth Center and had her next two children at home. Read More “Homebirths Becoming More Common Locally, Nationally”

Welcome Gatlin Kole

Welcome Gatlin Kole, newest baby brother for Kade and Grey. 7#1 oz, 20 3/4″ of super cuteness! Lovely home water birth.

The Birth of Emily

A Letter to my Daughter- Our Birth Story

To My Precious Baby Girl,

Sunday night Daddy and I went to bed thinking we still had at least 2 weeks until you joined us. Everyone always says that first time moms USUALLY stay pregnant past their due day. I was sure, completely positive and firmly decided, that you would come after our due date. God always has a better plan.
Sunday night, around 3am, I woke up with low cramps, but they weren’t too bad. I just decided that maybe I overdid it on the weekend (we did go on a SUPER bumpy boat ride after all) and it was just causing some aching. I tried to sleep the rest of the night but kept waking up with these annoying cramps.
Monday morning came and the cramps just kept getting stronger. Well, I am pretty stubborn, so having already decided that I would carry you in my tummy until my due date, I knew it wasn’t labor. Better yet, I decided it wasn’t labor. My mom came over that morning because we were finishing my HUGE cooking project. My goal was to cook over a months worth of meals so that I wouldn’t have to worry about it after you came. With the exception of one dish that turned out disgusting (so of course that’s the one I made a ton of) it was pretty successful.
Well I was useless all day, I couldn’t get anything done with the cramping so my mother finished all my cooking and Shane got the house ready just in case this was the real deal. I went ahead and contacted my birth team. Rachelle was my doula and I called her first. I told her that there was no way this was the real deal, but just in case, I wanted to give her a heads up. She suggested a bath, as that could stop the progression of labor so early on. That did nothing for the cramps; in fact, they just continued to pick up. I also informed Cathy, our midwife, and she advised me to keep in touch.
Well the cramps weren’t going away, I was still firmly set in my world of denial. Thank the Lord Rachelle saw right through that. She said she had the feeling that I was one of those people that would go ahead and accept that you were coming WELL into the process so she was just going to come over anyway. I’m so glad she made that decision because by the time she arrived that evening I was pretty miserable and it was true labor. We tried again to slow things down because Daddy had been sick all weekend, but you were just as stubborn as me and decided that today was your day.
To this day, and for the rest of my days, I can never be thankful enough for Rachelle. She was a voice of strength, reassurance, and reason as my contractions escalated. You can read a million accounts of what labor will feel like but none of it prepares you for the reality of the pain and the feeling of purpose that comes with it.
I labored, in our home, in our bedroom, well into the night. My water broke in transition and we definitely praised God together. Well, my mom, Rachelle, and Daddy praised God. I freaked out a little. But Rachelle and Daddy calmed me down and I really got down to the business of pushing you out. Your Daddy was amazing during the whole thing, calmly by my side and comforting. At this point Cathy arrived as well and I had a whole team of encouragement while laboring. At 2:50 in the morning, after about 45 minutes of active pushing, you came into the world, straight into your Daddys hands. That’s when we found out you were a precious 6 pound, 11 oz, 20in long, little girl. We wanted to be surprised and waited through the entire pregnancy to find out if you were a boy or girl. It took two days of getting to know you before we named you Emily. It was the perfect fit for an incredible blessing.
We can’t even begin to express how thankful we are that we had you at home with our midwife and doula present. I read somewhere that whoever you choose to be your midwife and doula will always have a special place in your heart. You will fall in love with them as they work along side you as you do the most important work in your life; the most important work that God created you for. We are so thankful for our birth team, and for you. We have always thought of you as not only our baby, but also this incredible blessing that God has entrusted us with. It’s a special privilege that I never would have understood before becoming your mom.

Your Mommy

The Birth of Piper Nicole
Our sweet Piper Nicole was born at home in water. August 17, 2013. All around awesome experience! – Taryn Senior
The Birth of Zalina Eve

The arrival of Zalina Eve on July 24th, 2013 was a beautiful and blessed moment in our lives. She was my third little blessing, and my pregnancy ticked along without any complications or issues. On the morning of her arrival, I sent Natalie, my midwife, a text and asked her to “throw me a bone” and give me the name of the chiropractor with labor induction skills. She responded with the tried and true advice to walk and to make love to my husband. At around 10am, I decided to walk my 7-year old son to a nearby store to pick up some items. The distance round-trip equated to roughly 5 miles, in July… in Houston… with the high of the day in the upper 90s… Needless to say, this walk was probably not what Natalie envisioned when she said to go walking. Haha!

During the walk, I felt as normal as possible with a full term belly and the sweat running down my face, legs, arms, and all the other nether regions… Once I returned home, I decided to relax and stretch in the shower. After a small snack, I drove to another big store to continue the walking, for another mile and a half. My pedometer registered 6.5 miles of walking that day!

I had been experiencing a few contractions here and there, at random intervals throughout the day. When I finally returned home around 6pm, I started to feel them get a bit more regular. I was still playing legos with my older children, upstairs in their bedroom. At around 7pm, I thought it might be a good idea to call my husband and have him return home from his errands. I also texted Natalie (midwife) and told her today might be the day. Thankfully, she was at dinner and had things mostly squared away for the evening. My husband, Jason, arrived closer to 8pm, fed dinner to the kids, and prepared everyone for bed. When I had a 30 minute interval from one contraction to the next, I went downstairs and announced sadly, today isn’t the day guys… I must have looked really down because my kids gathered around me and gave me a family hug (I really, really love those!!)

After that, from roughly 830pm to roughly 10pm, I relaxed in a warm bath, listening to music and reflecting on certain hypnobabies phrases, like “down and out” and “limp and loose”… this time period was relaxing, and I drifted in and out of sleep. My husband came in and checked on me a few times, kissed me, and hurried back to tend to the family. At around 9pm, I told him that today might actually be the baby’s birthday, and he called in reinforcements (Renee and Jeremy – our best friends). With the candle light and Enya, I was able to relax and deep breathe through the gentle pressure that greeted me every ten minutes or so. Jason and I both anticipated a long road ahead into the night, and so he focused on bedding down our younger kids and initiating basic preparations. Each time he popped in, he was loving and encouraging, and we both believed I was in the initial stages of labor.

At around 10pm, I realized that I was having some heavier pressure, and that the pressure was easing down lower and lower. At this point, I called Natalie and asked her to come on over. Jason told me that call occurred at 1020pm. At around 1030pm, I got nauseated and began dry heaving quite a bit. This continued for quite some time, which was very different from my other labors. I kept wondering what was happening.

Natalie arrived at 1040pm, and she intuitively knew things were progressing quickly. Her prayer at that point was so calming, reassuring, and exactly what I needed at that moment. She checked me (6cm and 100% effaced – definitely “real” labor here, guys) and hurried the preparations along. Our sweet friend Renee had to leave early because she was in her first trimester and struggled with her own weak stomach. Natalie helped me slowly travel from my bathtub to the birth pool, which was located in our front foyer area.

From this point to the actual birth is somewhat a blur… I heard myself moan deeply with the pressure, and I spoke softly to my sweet baby in between the waves. I told her that it was time to come to me, and I called her a sweet baby because we didn’t find out the gender. Throughout the whole process, I felt that her and I were in tune with each other and on some sort of telepathic wavelength. I felt her travel deeper into my pelvis and enter my vaginal canal. I asked Natalie to check me again because it felt immense at that point. I had to confirm that things were, in fact, moving in the right direction. I guess I simply needed the encouragement at that point. She said I was 9 with a small lip, and she demonstrated a stretch that I could do one or two times to get that baby down… I literally did the stretch twice before I felt the tremendous filling feeling of my baby beginning to crown. I moaned deeply again, and reached my hands down to ease her out. I breathed her down in between those final contractions because I was anxious to see her. Natalie said Jason nearly missed the birth, on account of a last minute pee break!! Natalie looked up and told him to hurry down… Zalina Eve came out with her eyes open and stretched her arms out in the water. She turned over in the water and looked around. Natalie reached in and pulled her up and out of the water. Her arrival was beautiful, peaceful, and so calm…

I thank God for the calm voice He spoke to my sweet Zalina and to me to guide us during the birth. Jason, my incredible soulmate, my everything, cared for our family and kept the entire operation on course. Many thanks to Natalie for her beautiful prayers and to Connie for everything she did. Thanks to Chelsea, and we wish you the best at your budding midwifery career. I am so grateful to all our friends and family for their support, love, encouragement, and, most importantly, their prayers!!

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