Sleeping newborn with hat and blanket resting on mother's stomach.

Birth Stories

Family with a newborn baby born moments ago at home.
Family smiling down at newborn baby.
Sleeping newborn baby wearing a hat and wrapped in a soft polka dot blanket.
Smiling family of five posing with orange pumpkins.

Archer Fikus Birth Story

If you asked me two years ago about having another baby, I’d tell you I was making plans to have my tubes tied. Literally. Like researching options, making phone calls, and I had it set in my mind that any more biological children were out of the question. Two bright, beautiful, sweet, and sometimes fiery daughters were all that my head, heart, and patience could handle! Plus, I was on my own. Single mama.

Just when I thought I had it all planned out, the Universe threw me a curveball … in the form of a man! A strong, motivated, loving, generous, passionate, and creative man who actually fell in love with ME, and all of my dysfunctional glory! Falling in love changed my entire perspective on what I thought would have been the course for the rest of my life. It opened my heart and created more space to fill. I could listen better, nurture more patiently, take time to honor myself, my daughters, and my partner. I could actually hear my own thoughts for the first time in what seemed like forever, and what I heard told me to stay open, and to see with my heart…

After weeks of ‘warming up’, regular contractions began in the early morning. I was able to sleep, but while floating in the world between sleep and wakefulness I was aware they were occurring. I was even dreaming of waves rushing the shore as I breathed deeply through them. I woke Kev around 6am, and we filled the tub. We were having this baby!

Contractions remained 20 minutes apart throughout the morning and I called Brandi at 9am to let her know the happenings! The girls awoke, and we began our day. We ran some errands, picked up some groceries, and upon returning home I decided to take a nap.

Everything slowed down. I rested, called Brandi, and tried not to get discouraged. He was already past his ‘due date’, and I had to calm my spinning head when thoughts of induction crept in. I shifted my focus, and in my mind’s eye, hovered above my sweet little home where I could see my family giving birth together.

I woke around 2pm, and contractions started back up. My excitement returned! The girls kept checking in with me as they noticed I would have to sway and breathe a little more deeply through the rushes. I would gently remind Adeline to use her quiet voice when she needed to talk to me, sometimes just plain out shhhhsh-ing her and waving my hand to indicate she needed to leave me alone. It was as if noise made the sensations a little more intense. And now looking back, I know that taking my focus off of the pain was worse then just diving right into it.

I stayed peacefully busy making quinoa and fruit salad, harvesting greens to put in a giant pot of miso soup, thawing some breads I made weeks earlier, taking a long shower, and resting in between! Brandi gave me a call around 4pm, and I let her know that contractions were back to 15-20 minutes apart. I labored through a lovely protein packed dinner that Kev made sure to cook on the camp stove so that our house wouldn’t smell of fish for the rest of my labor and birth! He really was a super star during this whole day- taking good care of the girls (which meant keeping them out of my hair)! Knowing what a personal experience this was, he was sure to allow me my space to labor as I needed, checking in with me frequently! He listened to my cues, and rubbed my back when I signaled that a contraction was coming. I would just say ‘okay’, or ‘another one’, and when it was really tough I would just raise my hand! He would drop whatever it was that he was doing and run to my side to squeeze my hips and put pressure on my lower back.

At 7:30pm he made another call to Brandi. Contractions were between six and 10 minutes apart, very strong, and lasting 30 seconds or so. She told us to call when we were ready for them to come or when contractions were five minutes apart.

Shortly after 10pm, Kev made the call. I was weepy, and laboring on my yoga ball at the kitchen table where I hadn’t moved from much since dinner! I was sure to rest my eyes and mind between each contraction in order to save my energy for what was to come. It felt so good to bounce gently, and shake my thighs while holding on for dear life to the table!

Laura showed up first, just before 11 (I only know times from this point on thanks to the labor notes. Time did not exists for me at this point). In everyday life she struck me as jovial, with ample amounts of positive energy! In this moment, she was warm and tender, coming to my side with a sweet hug and a mama’s loving reassurance. She took Isabella under her wing, giving her little tasks, and lots of love and support! Bella was curious and hadn’t been able to sleep through the noise I was making. I’m sure she was a little worried as well, but she remained stoic.

After a few contractions Laura offered to check my progress as she noticed that the noises I was making sounded like I was getting close to pushing. I was almost completely dilated with just a tiny bit of cervix left to move out of the way. This was such glorious news! Brandi arrived just after 11pm. I labored deeply for about an hour more, and then moved into the birth tub, floating away into birthing oblivion. I could squat, and hang myself over the side of the tub without feeling so much weight on my hips and legs.

This time Brandi offered to check me, and that little lip of cervix was swollen. I felt a bit deflated. My body felt like pushing, but she informed me that it was not yet time. She suggested rapid breathing, and I shook my head ‘NO’ like crazy and just started blowing through loose lips making this ridiculous horse imitation! I didn’t care at that point! In fact, the ladies told me I was doing great, so I just kept on going! It kept me from pushing.

Somewhere around this time, Ananda appeared, waited for me to open my eyes, and gave me a sweet ‘hello’. She gave me some arnica to help with the swelling. Meanwhile, Kev hovered above me, waiting for my arms to reach up to him at the onset of a new contraction. He held me up semi-suspended with my top half out of the water, and bottom half floating. I could hear in his breathing that he was working almost as hard as I was!

Contractions were close and hard, and the ladies reminded me to quiet myself as each one subsided. I was waiting as patiently as possible for the go ahead to push. Rapid breathing came out of nowhere. It just took over as my body really had the urge to start pushing. No one ever tells you how to refrain from allowing your body to do what it needs to do during labor. All the reading, and exercise, and yoga in the world cannot help you to STOP having a baby! This was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Forget the contractions. They were like a cake walk compared to this breathing bulls**t.

At this point I was frustrated, tired, and just ready to meet my little guy. I wanted him here, and safe, and in my arms. I HAD to push! Now Brandi, normally very soft spoken, gentle, and super sweet, became firm – she looked me dead in the eye and told me that I didn’t have any other choice but to breathe through until the lip was softened and she could just push it up over baby’s head. I lost focus a few times and started to push, but Kev brought me back by breathing with me.

Together we all decided that rupturing my membranes would be helpful to get baby to descend, now that the lip had softened. During my next contraction, Brandi pushed the cervix, and ten minutes later I was in primal push mode! Baby’s heart rate was dropping a little, and it was suggested that I get out of the tub to try some other positions that baby liked. HOLY S**T … climbing out of the tub was like what climbing Everest must feel like – nearly impossible! I could barely catch my breath, and my body was not my own. I crawled to the couch for the next contraction, and then walked slowly to the bedroom, climbed up into bed, and rested with my back against Kev’s chest in a semi reclined position.

Adeline woke now, and both girls were standing together at the foot of the bed waiting with anticipation in each others arms. I remember being very aware of everyone there with me, and I would open my eyes every once and a while to check the vibe of the room. It was one of those times when I could understand what was happening just by looking in their eyes.

Everything was as it should be. I was surrounded by my people – the ones I love the most. And I had these incredibly attentive, magical, and powerful women holding my hands, and offering theirs to gently guide this baby into the world! They were my head when I couldn’t think, and my voice when I was mute. They were my backbone when my body wanted to collapse in exhaustion. All of them. Each and every one of them.

Our hearts were growing and growing with each moment of each contraction. I could see Isabella squeeze Adeline tighter and tighter as I pushed harder and harder, while my husband held me closer and closer. It was happening!!! Archer was being born! I reached down to feel his head, and at last I knew that I had turned the corner of complete pain and despair to utter relief and abundant joy! I just needed to gently push his shoulders out and I would enter the other side … that blissful place only a birthing mother can know.

While my body was on fire, my heart was swimming in the coolest, most purifying waters of the Universe! I looked up to see my daughters – each having their own unique experience. Archer was placed on my chest at 1:17am, and they climbed into bed with us; Adeline with her arms outstretched to hold this baby, and Isabella moved to sobbing tears as she nestled in my arms. And there was my amazing husband crying with relief and joy – his arms around us all.

We snuggled together in bed inspecting our precious boy. He was quiet, and alert, and glistening. He made just enough noise to get cleared out, and didn’t need any suctioning. Laura suggested laying him head-down across my belly where he coughed a little and had a few sneezes! I lifted him back up and he squished his face into my breast and rooted around making sweet snarfy sounds, trying to get a nipple in his mouth! My adrenaline was rushing and although I was sore, I was all warm and fuzzy at the same time! What a glorious and unusual sensation.

I pushed out the placenta, and it rested in a bowl in the bed with us – the cord no longer pulsing – about 40 minutes. Brandi suggested I try to pee, which terrified me, but I pounded water to fill my bladder anyway. Ananda helped me to the bathroom where I rinsed quickly, peed, and got back in bed. The girls went off to sleep, with only a minor meltdown from Adeline! Baby began nursing, and we were all warm and tucked in.

The ladies gave us our space to rest after warming some soup and bread. I was starving! They came in every few minutes to check our vitals – so sweet and attentive! They hugged us goodbye, and left us just before 5am. Sharing the intimacy of birth helped form a bond like no other. They are my sisters now, and hold a very special place in my heart!

If you asked me today about having another baby, I’d tell you ‘my heart is open … and listening’!

Woman in labor in birthing tub with man kneeling beside the tub and holding her hand.
Mom cuddling toddler and newborn infant in her lap.
Parents with a newborn baby.
Pregnant woman standing in front of a curtained window.

The Home Birth of Calvin David

by Kim Robinson

This story has had many versions as time passes, things happen, and I look back and find there is yet more to uncover from Calvin’s birth. The birth of my first son, Charlie, was a piece of cake. Really. A straightforward 12ish hour labor. We arrived at the hospital in transition. Baby was born in a few mighty pushes. It was a blur, and it was amazing. Calvin’s birth cannot be described without Charlie’s to compare. I realize now the experience of the second was perhaps all too wound up in the first … expectations, and all.

Labor began in the morning as I lay in bed nursing our little Charlie. The contractions were light, but serious, and quickly fell into a regular pattern — ten minutes apart on the dot. Still not certain this would be “it” I ignored them as best I could, attending a parent-teacher conference at 8am, and going for a walk with friends at 9. Of course, the contractions only became more powerful, and the time between less and less. I called Ray to come home from work around lunch. He picked Charlie up from preschool and took him and his little overnight suitcase to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.

This baby, for the last several weeks of pregnancy, had settled himself into a head down position with head cocked toward my left hip. Still concerned about this, I would lay down from time to time while in early labor to try to find his head. Always he seemed to be in “his spot,” with back to my right side and head above my left hipbone. This acynclitism became a deep worry for me in much of my labor. It became my mountain, and there was no other way but through.

I think we called our midwives at Raymond’s suggestion. It was about dinnertime when they arrived. The time I had expected we would be birthing our baby, based on our first labor time line. Not so. Not even close. The midwives suggested we lay down for a nap if we could. I did not experience back labor per se, more like “hip labor.” It was painful, and a nap just wasn’t happening. I felt like I needed to be doing something, so to the shower we went.

The shower was a relaxing distraction, and we sang. We sang hymns together in harmony. And I lunged and squatted through contractions. My leg propped up on one side of the shower or the other. I did any acrobatics I could think of to encourage our baby boy to try a different position.

Now, I can’t recall all the events of the evening or night. There were many moments of “I can’t do this,” and “Why is this baby not coming down?” and “Is this going to happen?” There were many trips to the “birthing trough” in the living room. Many prayers. Raymond falling asleep between contractions, head resting on the side of the tough. Birth team people finding quiet places to nap. Me, in the Rubbermaid talking dearly to our baby, “just a little to the right, fella. Just a little to the right.”

There were lunges and supported squats, internal checks and external palpitations. I remember it was determined that the baby was quite high, and nothing but a part of his head and my water bag was dilating my cervix. Not too bad to get to 8cm with just a bag of water there. Still, it was discouraging to be going through such active, hard labor with little reassurance that things were progressing “predictably.”

I like predictability. Gray areas—well, not as much, really.

There was discussion about breaking my water—that it might help the baby settle into the birth canal; but also worry the baby was not well enough engaged—the risk of cord prolapse still too high. Back into the trough. Tears and prayers. This isn’t how it was “supposed” to happen. It’s too hard. Reassurance is given. Midwifery texts on the kitchen table. More checks. More squats. Try this. Now this.

There is a section in the book “Birthing from Within,” by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, about focusing on the pain of contractions as a method of relaxation during labor. It describes the process of exploring pain. Thinking specifically of how it feels in each part of your body. In a way, a person can become detached from discomfort by exploring it. At this point in my own labor I had breathed through pain, I had visualized through pain, and I’d fought pain. And then I came to the point where I just had to pass through it. I had to face pain and march through pain. Every few minutes as my womb tightened with such force, I had simply to live that space of time and that incredible sensation, and surrender to its inevitability. I needed to simply feel it as it was. At some point in this I even began to feel okay with it. Accept it as my reality. I didn’t like it—especially as the outcome of each contraction felt like such small progress with a baby who seemed to have an odd sense of direction. It seemed all the energy was being put into width—which was essential—but none into depth. Our baby was still high, and crooked.

It was now approaching early morning, and I was about 9ish-cm dilated, I think. My midwife can now better tell that the cord is not near the cervical opening. Let’s try breaking the water and jimmying this little guy down into position. POP! Relief! Baby slides down perfect—head squarely in place. I hang on to the shoulders of Brandi Raymond for a few contractions in a supported squat. A few more contractions while I lay on the bed.

And, Finally! I need to push. It feels so gratifying! I push on my back, then on my side. It’s easier than it was the first time. He’s almost here. I can feel him begin to crown. I touch his head many times during this process, but cannot much focus on the image in the mirror. It feels as though he has a small amount of fine hair—just like his brother. I forget everything that has happened up until now. I forget all that gray area of not knowing and wanting to know. I am focused, and it feels so good to be focused.

It takes fifteen minutes. Maybe twenty, and he is born—silky with generous vernix, and a barrel-chest.  I think he is big as I hold of him for the first time.  He looks at Ray and I. He is very alert. He cries a gurgly cry and looks like a very serious person. The cord is long and healthy; we keep it attached as he works to clear his lungs. It takes a while for that gurgle to clear up, and we lay him on a cookie sheet. This is supposed to help, Brandi says. He is pink and looking wonderful, still attached to his placenta. Brandi gives him a couple of puffs of air from the ambu-bag to help him with those little lungs. It’s a big change to make, you know—to start breathing air when all the breaths you had taken up until birth were theoretical. The puffs from the bag seem to help.  I nurse him. THIS he knows how to do! It is insanely simple compared to Charlie, and feels like instinct.

Our midwife declares no tears or scuffs for mommy! The placenta comes out and sits in a mixing bowl on the bed beside us. The midwives continue their work, and our babe continues to nurse. We haven’t named him yet. We felt so strongly he was a Calvin, but when he arrived he did not look like a Calvin at all. His face was squashed, and his head seemed to have a multiplicity of foreheads. We think he looks much more like a David—a regal name. We debate this, and put off the decision.

Soon the cord is limp, our baby is breathing robustly. He finishes nursing, and we cut the cord.  We weigh and measure him. More than a pound larger than Charlie, at 8lbs 8oz, and 21inches long, or so. His chest is large. I remember it so clearly. Such a large, pink chest.

Mommy is up showering in no time. Recovery is easy (so much easier than the first time) and wonderful in my home. I’m back in bed with our little Calvin snuggled skin to skin. Yes, he looks much more like a Calvin now. We name him Calvin David. It is light outside the window beside the bed. Soon we begin to call our families.

This birth—the immediate memory of it—feels like too much at first. I think, “What happened to easy?  Why did it happen that way?” Calvin has his head cocked to one side most of the time in the beginning. I wonder what it was like for him. I feel like it was too much, but I also feel deeply grateful.  Grateful for the support to birth such an oddly presenting baby in my home. I am thankful to have avoided interventions that would have been too convenient for a desperate feeling mother had I birthed in the hospital.  I come through my birth without having to justify any part of it. Nothing happened that left any “what-ifs”. I did what felt impossible in the moment, because my support team held on to “possible” for me. I believed them, and pressed on.

As time passes that gratitude grows further, goes deeper, and is easier to come by. Brandi mentioned to me once, had it been my first labor I would not have known that labor was anything but what Calvin’s was. I would not have expected “easy” only to struggle with complex. And yet, through it I gain greater appreciation for my body, and its amazing capability to birth a baby. To press on physically, and find my way emotionally through the unknown. To rest on the shoulders of others.  To ride the wave until it’s complete. In fact, as I rehash and rewrite these events over again, Calvin’s birth continues to teach—the lesson that sometimes the only way is through.

Mother holding a newborn baby.

A lovely Zemi Surprise!

It was Sept. 5th when baby Zemi decided to come early.  We were moving into a new home and trying to get settled before he came.  My water broke when I was out to dinner and it preceded as follows…

I went back to my friends house where I was staying since we had planned to birth there.  My midwife came to check me and I was already having full on contractions 4 mins apart.  It took a hold of me and once I was going through the motions my mind kind of shut off.  I was solely my body, my mind didn’t interfere.  I felt like I was picked up and dropped out in the middle of the ocean and was forced to either ride the waves or get beat to hell by them.  Every time a wave was building up I would brace myself for it and let it flow through me; and if I kept a low drawn out moan, it helped carry me over and ride it out.  I felt a great stillness afterward, similar to the feeling just after an orgasm.  All I could do was let myself go.  I dove in and let the Great Mystery take over.  Because I knew resisting it would result in pain.As I was riding the waves, getting closer and closer to seeing our baby, my husband was on his way and our midwives were doing all the great things midwives do!  I remember throwing up a couple times,  getting in the shower, Suzanne braiding my hair.  My husband got there and then had to go over to our new place to get all the things we had acquired for the birth.  Calista had made it and everything was ready for me to get into the birthing pool.  So while he hurried back I got to get in the warm tub…best thing ever!   In the water I felt supported in every way.  The weight of everything was lifted and all just floated in the water. Once my husband got back he got into the tub with me and we labored together for probably an hour.  I began to feel like my baby was starting to push himself out and the pressure built up so intensely there was a point where I questioned if I could really do it.  I quickly  brushed that away and thought “of course I can do this!”  The midwives advised that I step out of the tub and let gravity do some of the work.  I stepped out and put my leg up on a bench.  They told me to try leaning into my leg and bare down on the next contraction.  As I did I felt myself stretching and opening,  followed by extreme burning!  I reached down and felt the top of my baby’s head. It was the greatest motivation ever!  I stepped back into the tub and with the next push his head was out and then one more and his body slid out.

He was born 6 hours after my water broke at 1:22 am. I was so high!  Nothing has ever taken me to such extremes and felt so empowering!  I went into a different dimension, on Nature’s greatest trip.

Holding my baby in my arms for the first time, if I could describe it, it’s like…      A dam brakes and all the love in the world all of the sudden pours into your heart filling your heart so full that it starts spilling over and you can’t hold it in anymore.  I feel so blessed that I was able to labor and give birth at home.  And even more blessed to have had such loving, caring, knowledgeable midwives to help welcome our baby to the world.  Then getting such wonderful postpartum care was so essential.  People have told me that I’m “brave” for giving birth at home.  But I think women are brave to have this intense natural experience happen to them in such a foreign, busy, cold environment.  Being in a new unfamiliar place with strangers coming in and out busily can not be easy.  At home I felt like I could more easily relax and let my body do what it was made to do.  I wasn’t dealing with any kind of busy energy.  I can imagine it is much easier to trust your body and let yourself go when you are in the comfort of your own home with people you love.

The best advice I feel like I can give to a new mother anticipating birth…. Keep your moaning as low pitch as you can get…invite every contraction to flow through you and bring your baby one step closer to you…trust your body and believe that everything is going to happen as it is supposed to…work with your baby, he has the hardest job here… don’t resist to your body opening, encourage it…and last but not least, prepare, prepare, prepare for this day!  Envision your baby making his journey with ease and grace.  It worked for me. I hope my story inspires more women to try for natural birth!  Be empowered!!!

Smiling, alert baby.

In Loving Gratitude

During my first pregnancy, my partner and I knew we wanted a homebirth with the assistance of skilled midwives.  Yet we also wanted to broaden our prenatal perspective, so we chose also to receive care at our local clinic.  (Parallel care.)  At the clinic, we would wait, wait some more,  then be checked, tested, analyzed and sent away.

What a difference a little Love and tea can make.

From the moment I stepped into their office, I felt comfortable, empowered and at home.  After “shopping around” for midwives, what really struck me as different from the rest, was their unwavering presence.

They were each so nurturing, open, wise, and compassionately curious about how I was processing ALL aspects of my pregnancy.  My health, baby’s health, questions I had, home life, nutrition, life choices, partner relationships, sex, and all things concerning birth and postnatal support.  My partner and I both LOVED that they consistently checked in with him as well, and he felt supported by them equally.

In the end, due to placenta previa, I had to have a scheduled cesarean birth, followed by a rough and extended healing process.  And even though we ended up not needing their assistance during the birth, they stood by us like rocks during our 3 month recovery and were there for me in ways I can’t truly explain.  I was primed for postpartum depression, and in many ways felt very down.  But I attribute their love, friendship, and unconditional support as the guiding force that helped me steer clear of that.

Hiring them is worth every penny for just pre/post natal care alone.  A lovingly supported birth is just a bonus!

-SarahSita, Joshua and Zion

Pregnant woman with partner standing behind her in a garden, both with their hands on her pregnant belly.
Sleeping dad and newborn baby.
Laboring woman in a birthing tub being massaged by her partner.

Some words of appreciation

To begin, thank you for your guidance, support and care during our pregnancy. The three of you are all amazingly intuitive in your abilities to grasp at a basic level where an expectant parent is coming from with his or her questions and concerns. You all couple this intuitiveness with a professionalism and a thorough-going knowledge of all aspects of pregnancy, birth and post-partem. You view pregnancy and birth as an organic process, and consequently, enable expectant parents to do the same by providing them with a gentle direction that has behind it years of training, first-hand experience, and research that brings in line alternative approaches to medical attention and treatment. Personally, I feel that the three of you guided me and Nicole to a birth experience that was profound, personal and constructive in the sense that it at least allowed me to begin on the long path toward becoming a father to my new-born child. I am truly grateful for the attention and care you showed us, for your patience, and for your ability to maintain a nurturing environment during a home birth with all of the crises, fears and small and large joys that are constantly, literally bursting onto the scene. I thought my job as continuation high school teacher was challenging and rewarding; I had no idea. You three are real-life heroines. You begin the process of providing personal meaning to parents around the birth experience, and set them on as good a path as can be hoped for towards fulfilling their hopes for and responsibilities to their children, and at the same time, reminding them, through your patience and listening and attention, to honor the hopes and dreams of their children. –Pete

Thankyou from the center of our hearts. Birthing has been THE most amazing experience of my life. And now, being a parent. Gavilan is the brightest light in our lives and I remember each day when I look at her the every day miracle of birth and all that is involved in bringing one person into this world…truly mind blowing. Again, thankyou. Lots of love, Nicole, Pete, and Gavilan

Mother cradling newborn baby in a birthing tub shortly after birth.

Happy Birthday Nallia

“Here we are. Just 24 hours ago we were calling the midwives to come. After a day or so of on and off contractions things really got going around 10pm last night, one of our lovely midwives got to the house about 10:45. I labored in the birth tub and the shower for just a short time. My water broke at 1am and here she came at 1:18am.

“Drew caught her and as you can see from some of the photos she was happy and wide eyed from the start. We woke Bryson up shortly afterward and he was very happy to see a new sister. He had tons of fun roaming the house in the early morning getting away with just about anything while I was cleaned up and Nallia was checked over.

“After all calmed down about 5am, we got just a few hours of sleep and B was off to school. Drew checked-in at work and we made a few phone calls. This afternoon was filled with super helpful visits from Brooke and the boys, Jamie and Debbie. Now Bryson is fast asleep and poor Drew has worked his tail off all night and day to help me and care for Bryson, he has even managed to get pictures ready to upload!

“So we are off to bed our first night as parent of two! A crazy boy and sweet little girl. How wonderful!”

The Meyer Family

Mother holding newborn baby moments after giving birth in a birthing tub.
Laboring woman in a birthing tub being supported by her partner.

Welcome Sweet Layla!

This was Rachel’s second homebirth, but first waterbirth.  Rachel was amazing.  She was able to receive Layla into her own hands with grace and ease.  We were blessed to be witness to such a sacred event.