Lucas Michael

Baby Lucas Michael

From the minute that my husband and I found out we were expecting I began fantasizing how I wanted my pregnancy and delivery to play out. Pretty early on we decided that a natural birth plan was the way we wanted to handle the delivery. I felt that a natural birth was the best thing I could do for my baby. Being the planner I am I began researching everything I could about a natural birth. We found a doula that we loved, signed up for Informed Beginnings classes with Rachel and wrote a very detailed birth plan. I had everything planned and figured out. Or so I thought. At 33 weeks my OBGYN thought that the baby was breech. I had heard that it was very common for babies to be breech at that point so I didn't think much of it. My husband and I continued to take the classes to prepare for our natural birth plan. I also started to do what I could to ensure the baby would turn. I went to see a chiropractor, went to pre-natal yoga, did stretches, used moxibustion. You name it and I tired it. I was determined to follow the plan that my husband and I created. 

At around 36 weeks I started to get more discouraged that my baby was not turning. We tried an ECV (a procedure where the doctor tries to flip the baby from the outside) at about 37 weeks which was not successful. At about that time I had the gut feeling that my baby wasn't going anywhere. The day of the ECV procedure we had class with Rachel right after. I remember feeling so defeated listening to all of the things that we were learning about in class that I feared I was not going to be able to experience. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was letting my baby down. The plan the I had created for my baby was slipping out of my hands and I could not control it. That day during our class with Rachel I lost it. I was so physically and mentally drained.

Although that day was very hard I also started to accept the fact that I could not control everything in this pregnancy. I had to let go of my plans and create a new plan. I also had to accept that the birth of my baby was meant to be the way it was going to be. I was no less of a strong loving momma because I was not going to deliver my baby naturally. 

My  water broke on its own about two weeks before my due date. I delivered  my baby boy via c-section. Although I did not get all parts of my birth plan the exact way that I wanted it, my delivery was still perfect. The second that they put my sweet baby boy on my chest I knew that everything was just the way it was supposed to be. Being a parent does not always work the exact way you think it might. Everyone goes through different experiences. No one experience is better than the other. No one way is better than the other. This is something that I learned through my pregnancy  and delivery  and I wouldn't change one thing about it.

 January 3, 2016 | 11:00 pm | 20.5 inches | 8 lbs 1 oz

Aria Noelle

My husband and I had been married for 8 years before finding out we were expecting our first born. Even though I was excited to meet our baby, I knew absolutely nothing about what I would experience during childbirth. I started by reading Birthing From Within, which then turned me on to the movie The Business of Being Born. Both caught my attention and I became focused on childbirth methods. I wanted to hear personal accounts, so I tried to sit down with as many new mom’s as I could, to hear their stories of labor and delivery. What I heard was not always positive and the thought of forceps, episiotomies, and babies struggling during medicated childbirth terrified me. So I was looking for another option. I sat down with Rachel when I was five months along and she kindly shared Ellie’s birth story with me. When I realized how beautiful and positive her story was, I just knew that this was the path I would try to pursue for my own baby. 

I was 4 days away from my due date and had just finished our final Bradley class. Around 2 a.m. I was startled awake with strong contractions and an emergent feeling like something was different. A few nights before I was reviewing my notes on what a contraction would feel like. At this point there was no question about it; this was the real deal! I immediately woke my husband, David, and he began timing them at 15 minutes apart. By 11:00 a.m. the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and I felt as if my water had slightly ruptured. David felt like this would be a good time to make our way to the Natural Birthing Center at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. I was admitted through the triage area where my blood was taken, an external fetal monitor was briefly placed, and I was examined for the first time by our midwife, Jessica. Of course every woman in labor is hoping for a high number, but I was saddened to hear that I was only 3 cm dilated, with 90% effacement. Our doula, Evie, met us in the triage area and was prepared with an arsenal of natural birthing equipment. So we were admitted into the Natural Birthing Center and we went to work! Evie, David and I walked, exercised, attempted every squat position known to man. They desperately tried to encourage me to eat and drink, but I could not even fathom the idea. My stomach was in knots because the contractions were so intense. Our baby’s heart rate was checked by the nursing staff every 30 minutes with a doppler to insure that our baby was stable. By 1:00 am (day 2) I was examined for the second time, with contractions remaining 4-5 minutes apart. I was near devastation when Jessica told me that I was still at 3, maybe 4 cm dilated. I wasn’t sure if I could continue. I was nearing 24 hours without food, water, sleep, or relief. At this point, I was asking for options. The first option was pitocin to try and speed things up. Not what I was hoping for since I wanted to take a natural approach. The second option was an epidural for pain relief and possible sleep; once again, same dilemma. The third option was being placed on a breast pump for stimulation. All three options would mean I would have to transfer out of the Natural Birthing Center and be admitted into the hospital. I was not about to do that! I had 10 weeks of Bradley classes under my belt, and my goal was for a natural childbirth without the assistance of anesthesia or narcotics. Evie looked me in the eye and said, “You’ve made progress. You are doing it!” David reminded me of what I wanted for my labor and delivery, and since I was good, and Baby was good, we would stay the course. I was put on IV antibiotics since my water had broken 18 hours prior, and I was also given a sleep aid to HOPEFULLY allow me sleep through the contractions. Needless to say, the sleep aid did not work like it was supposed to. I would fall asleep for 4-5 mins and then startle awake and have an intense contraction. This went on for about 2 hours! Around 4:00 am (on day 2), I felt the need to go run to the bathroom, every time I would wake up like a Jack-In-The-Box for my continued contractions. My husband would try to help me with the IV stand during my bewildered, frantic run to the bathroom. I would sit on the toilet and then come back. That went on for about 30 minutes before a nurse came to check on us. “Are you trying to push, while sitting on the toilet?” All I could do was nod my head YES as a retort to the question. So Jessica came back in to check on me and I was at 7-8 cm dilation. The whole room rejoiced! Since I had requested a water birth, the nursing staff filled up the pool and I was ready to go. By 6:26 am, after 28 hours of labor, Aria Noelle was born! I was so relieved, elated, and delirious. David and Evie coached me through the most challenging moments of my life, and I could not be more thankful to them and for all that they did for me. Aria’s delivery ( or pushing stage of labor) had only taken 22 minutes, and I did not tear. I birthed the placenta a short time after she arrived and established breast feeding right away. Aria was bright, alert, pink, and crying. She was the reason I was able to continue our natural childbirth and stay the course. By 10:00 am, David and I were welcoming our family to meet our beloved baby. My recovery was amazing and I was able to bounce back immediately thanks to the birthing method we chose for our labor and delivery. 

Looking back, the advice and guidance I received from Rachel was priceless. She was the reason we pursued Bradley Classes through Lisa, where we met our doula, Evie, and achieved the birthing experience we really hoped for. Without them, we would have a much different story to tell. We owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to all these ladies, and everyone who lent a hand during this unforgettable time in our lives.

December 9, 2014 | 6:26am | 19 inches | 6lbs. 11oz.

Elizabeth Ray

Photo by Rachel Hudson Photography

Photo by Rachel Hudson Photography

The day before our precious daughter was born I uttered the words, “I think I’m ready to have this baby!” I had my last prenatal appointment and had a day full of errands like making the essential CostCo run, grocery store shopping, and picking up our cloth diapers. My nesting was complete! (three days before my due date) Labor kicked in around midnight while finishing up laundry and watching “Call the Midwife” (how appropriate). A warm bath didn’t stop my contractions and I did the best I could to rest though I didn’t sleep much. I let my husband sleep and rest in anticipation of an eventful weekend. 

I waited to call the midwife until the next morning when my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. I called our doula, Erin, and she made her way over. I was so relaxed and at peace laboring in the comfort of our home. I preferred to do most of my laboring while standing and walking about the house. Taking showers and allowing the warm water to alleviate any back pain I had. It was the first beautiful spring day here in Chicago and stepped outside to breath some fresh air and take a short walk with my husband. 

At 2pm Amy, our midwife, arrived. I was checked for the first time and was already at 9 centimeters! She gave me a high-five and told me that whatever I was doing was working. I got the go-ahead to jump into the birthing tub. I was so relieved! Little did I know that my labor was about to take a turn. As soon as I got in the tub I had hit transition and the pain (along with my moaning) increased considerably. I had my doubts at this point and leaned over the tub to vomit. Not my finest moment! 

As this was happening our midwife assistant, Annie, walked in with a smile on her face. I was in my own world and walking up the summit alone. Thank goodness for our awesome birth team reassuring my husband that everything was okay. I let out a scream and he would look at Amy as if to say, “HELP!” She would smile back at him and say, “That was a good one!” She built confidence in my husband when he felt completely helpless. 

I knew the end was near. Amy said that our baby had hair and I could reach down and feel the head. I was on my hands and knees in the tub during delivery. Pushing was totally instinctual and loved the beauty of my body taking over and doing what it was created to do. Amy footballed our baby to me and I reached down and picked her up. What a relief it was; I did it! I had this baby totally naturally without any interventions in the peacefulness of our home. I was so overjoyed and relieved that they had to tell me to look and see if we had a little boy or girl. It was a girl! Dan instantly jumped in the tub to greet our new baby girl. She was born at 5:55pm

I was so hungry! I held my baby girl and my doula handed me an energy ball (a snack I had made) while waiting for my placenta to deliver. Daddy got to cut the umbilical cord. Baby was handed to Dad while I got out of the tub and helped into bed. I had a very small tear to fix. Breastfeeding was established. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this little miracle! Erin fixed me my postpartum tea and I ate turkey bacon and berries.

Two hours after her birth Ellie was given her newborn exam. She weighed 8 lbs. 1oz. and was 20 3/4 inches long. She was perfect! After making sure Mama and Baby were well and everything was cleaned up we were tucked into bed for the evening. We were now a family of three; may God have all the glory!

We couldn’t have done is without our amazing birth team! Special thanks to Amy, our midwife, Annie, our midwife assistant who came on a moments notice, Erin, our doula and prayer warrior, Lisa, our childbirth instructor and assistant and everyone at Gentle Birth Care. We had an amazing and beautiful experience. Gentle Birth Care took the time to listen to all my questions and first-time-mama concerns. They were very hands off and had confidence in my body and the birthing process; all while professionally managing my pregnancy and the health of my baby. I truly believe this was the best way to bring our little girl into the world.

May 3, 2014 | 5:55pm | 21 inches | 8lbs. 1oz. 

Music "I Wish" by Heather Headley