My Home Birth Story… Completely Pain Free
On May 2 at 1:28 PM, our lives completely changed, and I never felt more empowered, powerful, strong and excited, all while crying at the same time. Our sweet little boy was born at home in a birth tub in our bedroom… it was the most amazing experience and also a wild roller coaster… here’s what happened.
Before I start the story, let me just ask you a few questions:
Did you know that first time moms typically go past 40 weeks?
Did you know that less than 5% of babies actually arrive on their due date?
Did you know that a due date is essentially a guess date and doesn’t mean that the baby will arrive on any particular day?
Did you know that the birth window ranges from as early as 38 weeks and as late as 42 weeks, which is perfectly normal?
And… Did you also know that it’s never OK to bug an expectant mother and ask repeatedly if the baby has arrived yet? Even if you’re worried or concerned!
I had a very healthy, incredible, amazing pregnancy carrying this little boy. I had some nausea in my first trimester, couldn’t stand the idea of eating meat for a bit and had a few days in my second trimester that I was so nauseous it brought me to tears - it just so happened to be during one of my baby showers. Even through the tears, my baby would kick and I would smile and be grateful. I loved being pregnant every day. I loved when people would touch my belly. I loved when my husband would kiss my belly every single day. I truly just loved the entire experience. I am very grateful to be able to say that as I know it’s not the case for everyone.
Our due date, which I’ve never posted or written about, was actually 4/20. Yes, Marijuana Day. Also, Hitler’s birthday and the anniversary of the awful Columbine massacre. It became a joke to tell people that the date was the day my baby was due, even though babies rarely arrive on their actual due date. People always made Bob Marley jokes & jokes about weed or hemp baby blankets. We really didn’t want that to be his birthday, though if it happened to fall on that day it wouldn’t have mattered because our baby boy would be here!
We decided to keep our decision to have a home birth a secret from 99% of people as we didn’t want their opinion on it (best decision ever). When I told my mom about it she wasn’t so sure at first. She recalls trying to tweeze my eyebrows as a tween and me not enjoying it at all so she wasn't so sure how I would handle natural childbirth. I remember getting a call from her while she was at her OBGYN with the doctor that delivered me. Mom asked me if I was in fact actually going to deliver this baby at home, and her OB said that the only thing you deliver at home are pizzas. With lots of education and my Mama coming to midwife appointments with us she became more comfortable, which I needed because we wanted her here for the birth. Along the way she did tell some family members about our home birth and they were extremely concerned because they didn’t feel that it was safe. However, towards the end of my pregnancy she was actually educating them and it was pretty cool! Thankfully she trusted our midwife and me and was totally on board… it wasn’t immediate (you know - concerned mama bear) but it was all in God’s timing.
On Instagram you guys asked some great questions about my birth story. Were there complications? Why home birth? Why natural, unmedicated birth - don’t you know there are good drugs for birth and labor? How did you manage the pain? Was it painful? Did you tear? How did you feel having a home birth? Did anything happen unexpectedly? And one of you said “TELL ME EVERYTHING!” Okay I gotchu!
Besides dealing with last-minute emergency construction that ended around my 39 week mark, we knew that baby could come at any time. We just kept telling him every single day to please wait until construction was complete! He obeyed! PHEW! I was very active throughout my entire pregnancy and even went to Disneyland at 39 weeks! When 40 weeks arrived and he still wasn’t here, we weren’t concerned. However, we also knew that we had a deadline to get this baby out before our 42 week mark so that we could have a home birth with our midwife in our room, in a birth tub and not at the hospital.
Before getting pregnant, I never thought about having a home birth because I never thought I could do it. Let’s be honest… everyone talks about birth in a negative way. I’ve always thought that I didn’t have a high tolerance for pain and that you just get pregnant, go to the hospital, get an epidural, have a baby and go home. It wasn’t until I got pregnant and had an appointment with my amazing naturopath doctor (the same doc that wrote the foreword to both of my cookbooks and whom I and my family love dearly!) and she asked me if I was planning on a hospital or home birth that I even began considering the idea. Could I do this? Hmm.
With everything going on in the world and the uncertainty of the status of hospitals and not knowing if they would even let my husband in with me due to any guidelines and restrictions with the state of our country, we decided to at least do some research on home birth. Our ND referred us to an incredible midwife named Karen who met with us, answered a lot of our questions and, after praying about it, we decided to give it a go. After all, we do everything we can in the most natural way possible in our home and with our family, so why would I even think about taking all drugs they give you in the hospital (not to mention that scary giant needle they use for an epidural - YIKES!) to do something that, let’s be honest, our bodies were carefully and wonderfully designed to do?
If you asked me back in August when I found out I was pregnant if I was afraid to give birth, I would’ve said yes, 100%! I just kept telling myself that people have more than one kid, hah! Back then I would’ve said I’m a little freaked out and not sure if I can do it at all. But I put in the time, the effort and the research to learn everything I could about it to settle any nervousness, concerns or fear that I had about whether or not I could handle something like natural childbirth. Spoiler alert: I (more than) handled it like a boss!! As I’m writing this, I’m nursing my baby and writing about the most incredible day and experience of my life which happened just a few days ago.
Throughout the beginning of my pregnancy I asked Jeff if I could do this and he constantly reminded me that I could. As time passed, I asked him less and less... and for sure in my third trimester I didn’t really ask him at all because I knew I could. Instead of asking him if I could do it, I told him that I could do it! By month four or five, I really wasn’t fearful about it anymore. I had some nervousness of the unknown, but I wasn’t afraid. It was such an incredible feeling to not be afraid of something I had been terrified of for so long… years even - like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I like to prep for everything I can. You can only prepare for so much with this kind of thing but I did what I could. I read books, (my most favorite book was Ina May's Guide to Childbirth) watched lots of birth videos that thankfully you can find on Instagram and asked my midwife and doulas a million questions. They recommended I look into something called Hypnobirthing, which Jeff and I were a little concerned about at first with the word “Hypno.” Hypnosis is not something that we believe is biblical (due to the fact that you’d be giving control of your mind over to someone else), and I wasn’t comfortable with it.
We had family members that weren’t thrilled about it either, so we decided to reach out to a few pastor friends for advice. Both of them came back and said that they didn’t see anything wrong with it, as no one is hypnotizing you. You are, in fact, putting yourself under hypnosis. We did some research and decided to take a course and take what we want and spit out the rest.
We took a Hypnobabies class and, without going into lots of detail, we loved our instructor and learned a lot. But for the hypnosis part we personally felt a disconnect and that it wasn’t 100% for us… which is okay! The most beneficial part was learning to breathe through contractions the right way and Jeff learning to remind me to relax each part of my body when a contraction would come. The tracks from Hypnobabies did in fact help me relax and helped me through the week before labor, which I’ll talk about in a bit.
I had a great conversation with our birth photographer, Zoe, (photography in this blog of the birth are by her) about our concerns with hypnosis and she recommended Christian Hypnobirthing and Christian affirmations. These affirmations were things like “I’m strong because he gives me strength” “God designed my body to do this” “I am brave” “My body has been designed by God and knows how to give birth” “Each contraction brings me closer to our baby.”
I looked into the Christian Hypnobirthing and immediately fell in love with the tracks as they were all Christ-centered, filled with scripture and the right kind of affirmations which Jeff and I call “REMINDERS.” I knew that these tracks would help me throughout birth and labor and they did. I listened to the the Encouraging Scriptures a lot and began to memorize them so that I could say them along with the track out loud or sometimes just in my head.
Starting at the 39 week mark, every single day I would get calls, texts and messages on social media asking if the baby had arrived yet. I laughed it off. I wasn’t super annoyed…. yet.
At 40 weeks the calls, messages and notifications blowing up my phone became VERY stressful. I began ghosting almost everyone. As someone who likes a plan and a schedule, the texts, phone calls and questions asking if the baby had arrived only made me frustrated that this was something, yet again, that I couldn’t control or plan about pregnancy, labor or delivery. I rolled my eyes with each text and started to get anxious about something I hadn’t been anxious about at all. I hadn’t been nervous about birth in a long time, and all of a sudden I was teetering on a ledge of anxiousness and worry.
While it felt great to feel so much love from everyone checking in, it was really hard and frustrating that all of a sudden people were concerned and worried that I was past my due date. A due date doesn’t mean the baby comes on or before that day. My entire pregnancy I was comfortable with the reality that our baby could come anytime between Week 38 and Week 42, but as soon as my “due date” passed and my phone was blowing up with notifications, it gave me anxiety and made me stress about why he wasn’t here yet. I wanted to throw my phone out the window. Also, please don’t message the pregnant lady — reach out to her husband instead as to not cause any worry or stress. And know this fun fact: when the baby is here you will know when you’re supposed to know.
At my 40 week appointment I had high blood pressure, which I hadn’t had my entire pregnancy. This was concerning because if my blood pressure was high and continued to rise I’d be at risk for preeclampsia, which is not safe for me or baby... and once again I’d have to deliver at a hospital. Our midwife instructed me to go home, stay home, spend time with Jeff, don’t stress, don’t work and just mentally and emotionally prepare for labor and birth… AND to turn off my phone from the world! So I did just that. Jeff was in charge of my phone until after baby was here, and the only people that could reach me were my parents, hubby, doulas and midwife. I had to check my blood pressure daily and update Karen (our midwife). At home, I'd listen to the Hypnobabies and Christian Hypnobirthing tracks to calm my mind before and during each blood pressure check, which helped a lot.
With all the texts and calls stressing me out, I kept thinking that people are happy for us, love us and are so excited about the baby, and it’s all done with good intentions... but they must be crazy to think we’d have the baby annnnnnnd then not tell them of his arrival. Like we’d keep it a secret. HAH! People I haven’t spoken to in 10+ years we’re calling and texting (insert confused look here). Family members were calling my mom and telling her to take me to a hospital immediately because clearly something was wrong since I had passed my due date. Some even told her that I was crazy to do this, it was unsafe and didn’t know how she could LET ME do a home birth. Hahaha “let me” — I’m 34! My mommy taught me to listen to my body, design my own path, to be my own person and not listen to what other people are saying. I wanted a home birth and, unless God intervened, then that’s what I was going to do!
While everyone that was reaching out of genuine concern meant well, some were much kinder with their words than others. I’ll leave it at that. So we went home, spent time together and it was the very best. We watched old movies and started watching I Love Lucy from the beginning. Every time the theme song came on, the baby would kick and every single time Ricky sang (especially Babaloo), the baby would kick. I guess our baby loves Lucy, too.
At at our 41 week appointment, because I wasn’t progressing towards labor (I hadn’t lost my mucous plug, no bloody show, no real contractions), we had a lot of work to do in a short amount of time to beat that 42 week marker. After 42 weeks the state of California will not allow a midwife to deliver a baby at home. She did a cervical check at the appointment to see if I was dilated, and I wasn’t. Not at all. Not even a little. I was given a recipe for what they called “midwives brew” (a “smoothie”) which contains castor oil and we’d see what happens from there. Side note: it’s not a smoothie, it’s a weird texture and consistency drink, in case you wanted to know. Just a few hours after drinking it I started getting contractions. That was Friday, April 29… the beginning of our birth story.
Friday, April 29: That afternoon I started to get contractions where I FELT them, but they weren’t super uncomfortable. It was kind of exciting because something was happening and it gave us hope that things would move and my body would get this baby to come out before May 4, our 42 week date. Our midwife wasn’t sure if the castor oil “smoothie” would do anything, so she was pleasantly surprised that something was happening. But it wasn’t enough “something” and we weren’t sure if anything would keep happening so we had to make a game plan. I started having contractions around 5pm or so, and they were enough to feel but not enough to be uncomfortable so we continued to TRY to watch I Love Lucy and distract myself. I was able to sleep through the night thanks to some Benadryl — something I never take nor have on hand, so we had to order and have delivered.
Saturday, April 30: With all the contractions happening I figured that today was the day. I was going to have a baby. Spoiler alert… no baby that day. I had continual contractions that were between 5 and 7 minutes apart so there wasn’t time for a break, though that little time in between was helpful. I really couldn’t eat - nothing sounded good and I didn’t feel like it, though I tried. They got much stronger throughout the day, and I was getting exhausted. Finally my mucus plug fell out! It looks like a GIANT booger in case anyone wants to know.
That night the goal was to get some sleep - any sleep! I was advised to drink a glass of wine take some Benadryl AND melatonin! Yikes! First of all rule of thumb has always been that you don’t mix alcohol and meds right? I also was anxious to not only take more Benadryl, but drink wine with it (the goal with the wine was to amplify the sleep factor of the Benadryl). I wholeheartedly trust my midwife, so I did it… but I cut the wine with some bubble water. Hah! Either way, it didn’t work and I couldn’t sleep. The contractions were just too strong.
We called our midwife at midnight and she came over to knock me out with an IV of drugs which were for pain and stress/anxiousness but in combo they knock you out. It's called Therapeutic Rest: where main goal is to administer non-narcotic drugs that can relieve discomfort and allow for labor to progress while you're able to sleep. We all agreed that I needed to sleep that night in preparation for labor and birth — the concern was exhaustion. If I was too exhausted to get through labor and birth I’d have to transfer to the hospital, so we needed to make sure that I got some sleep.
Before she knocked me out, she asked if she could first check my cervix to see if we were even close. I think I was at 1cm. Bummer. She said she’d like to do a cervical sweep the next day to hopefully get things moving (a cervical sweep is when your midwife or doctor inserts a gloved finger through the cervical canal and uses a sweeping motion to separate the membrane from the cervix. This “sweep” releases prostaglandins, which are chemicals that help soften and open the cervix for delivery).
She knocked me out, and I slept. I fell asleep before she even left our driveway. Jeff said he heard me moan and groan through the night a few times while I was still having contractions, and I slept the entire time - about 9 hours or so. Thankfully!
Sunday, May 1: Still no baby. No water breaking, but lots of contractions, and it was getting tough. Each contraction I would tense up and lean on Jeff, and he would talk me out of the tension with my breathing. He would say relaxxxxxx and put his hand on my shoulder while I took long deep breaths in my nose and out my mouth all while my Christian Hypnobirthing scripture tracks or affirmations would play in the background
Mid-morning, my midwife came back to check my cervix and dilation and do a sweep. We were all a little nervous that this baby wasn’t coming yet on his own, and we were running out of time before May 4th. As she was doing a sweep of my cervix, she had a big smile and said I was at 4.5cm. I could see how happy she was to tell me that. I started crying! Praise God! I hugged her after and we were thrilled that there was good news! She was, too. She said, though, that if things didn’t continue to progress towards active labor over the next 24 hours, one of the last options was to break my water, and that was the plan for the next morning May 2nd if we didn’t progress any further.
Since I wasn’t able to do another round of the IV sleepy drugs (you can only do them once), I tried to go to bed. However, because the contractions hurt way more laying down, I was on my feet all night and sat in this uncomfortable chair (with a pillow on it). Jeff timed my contractions periodically so we could let our midwife and doulas be in the know.
It was a long night. Every few minutes the same routine. A wave of tightness which felt like a tight blood pressure cuff would circle my belly and I would hold onto Jeff with my hands, and his hands would be on my shoulders reminding me to relax my shoulders, my jaw, my legs and to breathe. I would calmly say to myself “I can do this” “I can do anything for 60 seconds” “my body was MADE for this” “I’m strong enough to do this” and “the joy comes in the morning” which I shortened from Psalm 30:5, “weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning.” I had heard that verse so many times throughout my pregnancy and labor while listening to my Christian Hypnobirthing tracks, but for some reason when I heard it that night I said the verse out loud and started bawling. I reminded myself that any pain I was feeling was temporary, and I was that much closer to meeting our baby boy. I didn’t realize that literally there would be JOY in the morning, which would come around 4:30am.
Monday, May 2: At 4:30am I was laying down trying to manage contractions and rest in between them when what felt like a water balloon popped in my crotch. In my mind, I heard it pop, too, but I was also running on no sleep and only little bites of food here and there, so I don’t know if that part is true. I said “MY WATER JUST BROKE” and started to cry happy tears. As I waddled to the bathroom with a little bit running down my leg to put on an adult diaper (lol), Jeff called our midwife! My body was not going to let her break my water and did it on its own — something we prayed for all night long. Now we were on a time crunch, because once your water breaks you have 24 hours to be in active labor before having to go to the hospital due to risk of infection. She said to keep doing what we’re doing and call our doula to come for support when we’re ready.
At 7am, Whitney, our doula, arrived. Our room was dark, quiet and you could only hear the encouraging scriptures from my Christian Hypnobirthing tracks playing on repeat. It was also FREEEEEZING because I was sweating my you-know-what off. We had the air conditioner set for 63 degrees, and I was still sweating! She walked in, and the first thing I asked was if I could hug her when she walked in the room. We did lots of movements and massage and talked through contractions, breathing, reminders of strength and comfort while she was here. She also made me some toast and a waffle which she put in my face every so often to get some fuel. She let Karen, our midwife know to come and Zoe our birth photographer to come as well. I was hopeful that it was getting closer to birth, but it felt like hours and hours sometimes. You lose all track of time.
Our midwife arrived at 8:30am and checked my cervix. It was swollen — probably because I was sitting on that stupid hard chair and the baby’s head was pressing against it (maybe even face up) most the night. Thankfully, I was dilated to 6cm, but we had to give my cervix a break. This was probably the worst part about my labor, but how we fixed it will make you laugh. I had to get on the bed, prop my knees up on lots of pillows, face down and ass up to the sky (sorry for the language) for a half hour through contractions, still sweating profusely, and while Whitney stood over me and used a rebozo (which looks like a long scarf - as seen in photo below) to loosen my hips (read more here). I was also given a few things that Karen had seen help when this happens: Tums, Benadryl and some homeopathic things. Once again, spoiler alert — they helped.
Soon after, they were filling up the tub, which was super encouraging even though it felt like it took hours and hours. In reality, it probably took 20 minutes. We even had a problem with the nozzle and hose that thankfully was resolved. In between contractions I was making jokes (same old Krysten). At one point, through a little discomfort, I made a “that’s what she said” joke about the nozzle, I think. I joked about how great my lashes were holding up during all of this. Comedy helps. Laughter helps. If no one was going to grab the “that’s what she said joke,” I wasn’t going to let it go.
At 11:30am I was able to get in the tub. Wow! I felt my body melt and felt the most relaxed I’d been in awhile. Once again with the jokes, I commented that I wanted to keep this “hot tub” in our room because it felt so good. I think I asked Jeff a few times if we could. I was half-joking because it felt amazing. Jeff called my mom at that point and said it was time to come over as things were progressing pretty fast. At one point, I said “I think I feel like pushing” and also said that it felt like my butthole was going to fall off or explode because there was so much pressure down there. That's really the only way to describe it. Looking back, I noticed that contractions didn’t hurt anymore. It was strange. When I said I felt like pushing, it was because naturally my body was pushing baby out. When they say your body knows what to do, it KNOWS what to do.
At 12:30pm I started pushing, just a few minutes after my mommy arrived. After a few pushes I asked if I had hit transition. Everyone laughed and said, “Yes! You’re way past that!” Transition is the last phase of the first stage of labor. This is when your body is making the shift to when baby is beginning to make their way out. According to everything I learned and researched, this is when most women want to give up. This is when they usually say, “I quit! Take me to a hospital.” I kept anticipating this. I was waiting to feel like giving up — such a strange feeling to be on the look out for quitting. I guess I saw it as a marker to know that baby is coming soon. That’s always the moment when midwives and doulas know you’re almost there and baby is coming. I had passed transition and didn’t once throughout my labor say “I quit!”
There was a bright light that pointed towards my vagina, literally (not metaphorically) with a mirror placed beneath me for our midwife to be able to see when baby is coming out a bit and everyone surrounded me in the tub. I started pushing and grunting loud, sometimes even screaming in lower tones to breathe this baby out… or ROAR this baby out. When he was getting close, my midwife said I could stick a finger in and feel his soft head. When I did that, my face got all excited and I was encouraged. I knew I was close! After every push I could look up at my mom and see her face beam with pride and also see her hands make a circle of the size of how much she saw of the baby’s head come out. My hubby was behind me holding on to my hand and letting me brace myself on him with each push. He kept telling me he loved me, that I could do this and that he was so proud of me.
In between pushes I felt fine. No discomfort. I could talk and laugh and smile, make jokes about how my lashes were staying on. I actually was pretty calm in between and looking at my photos you can see it, too. I even told everyone I was excited for him to crown (when his head is sticking out) because I couldn’t wait to meet my baby. It didn’t hurt. It was uncomfortable, but discomfort isn’t pain. Read that again. DISCOMFORT ISN’T PAIN! It felt like when you have a big poop and it’s on its way out and ya just want to get it out. Sitting there with my baby’s head crowning was uncomfortable, but I was so distracted by getting to meet my baby that I was totally unbothered by it. It was also doable… more than doable. I listened to my midwife and rested while his head was out and pushed when she said to push. Once his head was out I held it there without pushing to ensure that there would be minimal to no tearing and so that I could stretch as much as possible without forcing it. It felt like forever — because I just wanted to meet and hold him. I was so ready for this. I was ready to be a mommy!
I remember my midwife saying “push, push, push” in a soft voice and, in the blink of an eye, his body was out and she told me to reach down and get my baby! It was so fast — I don’t even remember his body coming out!
I started crying! So did he. He cried immediately and opened his eyes! I said “I DID IT!” and was so dang proud of myself. I grew this baby and carried him for 41 weeks and 5 days and then pushed him out without drugs, totally unmedicated and while smiling through pushing. It was totally thrilling. My doula said it’s what they call an “orgasmic birth” (also known as an ecstatic birth) — not in any kind of sexual way. That it was a completely pleasurable experience without pain and with so much joy. I was happy the entire time I was pushing him out - even while I was roaring him out.
My little Ralston Sterling was born at 1:28pm on May 2, 2022 at home in the comfort of our bedroom in a birth tub, and it was the most incredible, happy and exciting experience of my life. I’d do it 10,000x over again.
There was one thing left that I was a little afraid of, from a pain standpoint. Tearing. It’s very common for first-time moms, and I think I heard like 60+% maybe more of first time mamas tear. Ugh. I looked down at the water and there wasn’t a drop of blood in the birth tub. Not a single drop. That was a good sign, but you never know. They helped me transfer to my bed from the tub with the placenta still inside of me and with baby still attached to the cord. We sat there for a bit and did a delayed cord clamping to ensure baby gets all the blood and good stuff from my placenta. Funnily enough it was almost more uncomfortable when the placenta came out than birth, which doesn’t make sense but I’m just telling you how it was for me. I think about after 25-30 minutes, Jeff cut the cord which was emotional for me… forever physically and literally separating mama and baby. Our midwife carefully helped me deliver the placenta (something I didn’t even know happens until I turned 30 and my friend told me after her first baby!) and once again it felt like my butt would fall off - so much pressure down there! Yowza! But I had my baby boy on my chest and in my arms.
My placenta was in the shape of a heart and it was so cool to be able to see it and learn about it before it was taken away. We did placenta encapsulation which is shown to decrease postpartum depression, increase oxytocin, decrease stress hormones, restore iron levels and can increase milk supply.
I was asked if I was ready to be checked for any tearing, and I wanted to get it over with, but also was nervous of the news because if there was tearing I would need stitches. My doula looked at me and said it’s best to just get it over with. It can be pretty uncomfortable after pushing a baby out for my midwife to get all up in there and check. I was checked and my midwife said happily… “NO TEARING!” I was thrilled - okay I was MORE than thrilled!
Was birth painful? Honestly, no. I wholeheartedly mean that. Like I said earlier, there was discomfort, but no pain. My mom asked afterwards if I was screaming during each push because it hurt. The answer was NO. Not at all. I was screaming and grunting to use all my power and might to push him out. Funny thing - 10 minutes after his birth I got a text from my neighbor congratulating us! She obviously heard me screaming. I read her text to everyone, and we all laughed. I replied that I wasn’t in any pain, and I was just using my whole self to push the baby out. She said she knew right away what was happening and was cheering me on from next door.
How did I manage the pain? Well to be honest the most painful part was the contractions. They were pretty intense, to be honest, and it sucked having them from Friday afternoon until his birth every few minutes apart without a break. I had a long prodromal labor, which is labor that starts and stops before fully active labor begins. It’s tiring. It can mess with you emotionally because you think it’s time for baby and it’s not. Not yet. If I hadn’t had prodromal labor maybe I would have had more strength because I’d have gotten more sleep and fueled my body more with food? Who knows? But I did it despite a lack of sleep and food and still rocked my birth so I don't even like saying that it could have/would have/should have anything.
I kept thinking to myself, and probably said it out loud, too, “Why was I so afraid of this?” Well, I do happen to know why. It’s the mainstream narrative that birth is always scary, painful and a medical emergency. It's what we’re taught from a young age in movies and TV shows. It’s the horror stories we’re told throughout our life. It’s the focus on the negative. It’s pretty sad that birth is always described as a scary thing and never as an incredible experience. We’ve been conditioned our entire lives about birth being “the worst pain you’ll ever experience!”
Let me tell you this - natural occurring labor and birth is NOTHING like what you see in the movies. Nothing. The only thing that is true is that you get pregnant and then there’s a baby at the end. Okay I’m exaggerating. Why else are young women often afraid of the process? I was one of them! I know not every birth is the same. I know there’s a time and a place for home birth and hospital birth, too. I don’t believe that home birth is for everyone, and I do think that hospitals are important for some, but not for me. Lord willing, not next time either. But it’s no surprise that the majority of young women being afraid of giving birth with how our society looks at birth, talks about birth and treats birth.
My hope is that sharing my birth story can open some people's eyes to this idea that home birth and water birth isn’t some hippie thing. It’s not just what most think: that you go throughout your entire pregnancy and then call a midwife when you’re ready to give birth. The reality is we spent more time with our midwife the last 41 weeks and five days than the average woman spends with their OBGYN/delivery doctor… a lot more time. Sometimes you never know if you would actually have that doctor deliver your baby or if it will be a doctor who’s in the rotation on call. Most doctors appointments last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, whereas our appointments with our midwife lasted a minimum of an hour. We actually got to know our a midwife during our pregnancy, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The other thing I loved about having a midwife and doing this naturally was minimal cervical checks. I didn’t have my first cervical check during my pregnancy until I was 40 or 41 weeks, and I had the option to decline. I didn’t decline because I totally trust my midwife.
I don’t need to say this, but first and foremost I couldn’t have done this without my husband who was 100% behind me all the way with this idea of home birth. He was at every appointment, ultrasound (except one, when they wouldn’t let me bring a plus-one), blood draw (there were only two, maybe) and then some. He never missed a birth class or any part of this process. He did research with me, encouraged me, prayed with me and took me to Disneyland a ton. He held my hand (and let me squeeze his) the entire journey and has been an amazing partner and now daddy. I AM SO GRATEFUL!
I'm also thankful that my mama was here for his birth. I knew from the beginning that I wanted her here to experience this with us. My mom got to see me become a mom in real time, literally! She had a front row seat. She dropped everything for the entire month of April to come down and spend time with us and help us prep for our baby's birth. She was at our doctor appointments and through some education over the last few months she was totally on board with this idea of water birth and home birth and was super supportive. To see her beam with pride after pushing this baby out was pretty cool. I know she's super proud of me. I can't thank her enough and I'm so glad that she's Ralston's Yiayia!
I only wish everyone could have our midwife, Karen, at their birth, with them throughout their pregnancy and in their life, in general. Not only is she incredibly knowledgeable, but she’s very kind, warm and makes everything as easy as possible. You can tell that she loves her job and pours so much compassion into what she does and into each family. As new parents going into this not knowing a thing, she graciously walked us through the entire process and then some. Like I said everyone should be so lucky to have a midwife as amazing as her at their birth, and I am thankful that she delivered our baby boy. I’ve met a few mamas who have also had Karen as their midwife, and we all can’t say enough great things about her. I definitely miss getting to see her every week for appointments now that our baby is already here and can’t wait to call her up when it’s time for baby number two. It's going to be a girl by the way -- I'm just saying. You can learn more about her here. We’re so grateful our naturopath doc referred her to us!
We had not just one, but two incredible doulas, and I’m sad to say that only one was able to be at our birth (because we love her so much), but they were there every step of the way in person, on FaceTime, via text, on the phone and now even after baby in-person visiting us. When I met them the first time instantly we clicked. After we left our first appointment, my husband said that he thought this is the right fit for us and for me. Whitney and Lauren are so caring and have just poured so much love into our family before baby and now after. Just like our midwife, we think that every birth should have Whitney and Lauren there for comfort and support. They have done this so many times and helped so many mamas and families, and we are so lucky and fortunate that they were there for our journey as well. You can learn more about them here.
Together my incredible midwife and doulas formed the OC Birth Collective, and they have put together a stellar team, as well as resources and education for the Orange County area. We feel so lucky and blessed to have them a part of our family now forever.
Thank you for everyone who prayed for us and loved on us throughout our pregnancy and birth! We love you.