Richmond Birth Services, Inc.

Birth Stories

(in alphabetical order)
Heather Addley
Rochele Alberti
Heather Boyce
Jill Carrillo
Kristin Cummings
Randi Dayton
Leslie Forrest
Beth Gray
Leslie Lind
Sandi Lowery
Sandra Marr
Lea Marshall
Loftan Miller
Cynthia & Michael Mulvaney
Anneke Padolina
Cheri Ritter
Adia Shabazz
Claudia Thomas
Amy Whitehurst
Michela Worthington-Adams
Cary York

Harper Mae's Birth Story

Born on November 15, 2008 at 3:52 PM
8 pounds 10 ounces

By Heather Addley

It all started Saturday afternoon; I was 40 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Nick and his parents had taken Hayden out for the morning and they were on their way home. I got into the bath around 1:30 pm and relax a little and light contractions started. I wasn't really sure it was the real thing, as I had been having bh contractions for days (and was tired of getting my hopes up). I called Nancy to let her know, and she said to call her back in an hour. I began to realize that this was the real thing about 15 minutes later when they really started to get intense. Nick and Hayden got home around that time and I went to lay with Hayden because she was tired. The 10 minutes it took me to get Hayden to sleep were pretty painful. By time I was done the contractions were very intense and only 1 ½ to 2 minutes apart. I called Nancy back at 2pm and she said she was on her way. I also called Amy and Cary and told them it was time!

While we waited for everyone to show up, Nick began to fill the tub and I enjoyed my labor. It was getting much more painful and contractions closer together, but I knew my body was working (and working hard at that) and it was a great feeling!

Nancy, Amy and Cary all got there about the same time (2:20 pm). Nancy went right into the bedroom (where Hayden was sleeping soundly) to get set up. Amy and Cary started working on the chili and Nick was heating water on the stove to help fill the birthtub. Therese showed up not long after and began to help Nancy. All while this was going on I was walking around the house just to get through the contractions. I decided it was time to get into the tub!

Nick and I got into the tub around 3:15 pm. It was so wonderful to have Nick in the water with me. He really helped me through my contractions. Everyone was in the room with us, helping me with encouraging words. The experience was amazing, I truly felt surrounded with love.

I started pushing at 3:35 pm. My water broke with my first big push. Hayden woke up from her nap around this time (she had slept in the room with us this whole time). She wasn't scared at all (when asked she said "I not scared! A baby is getting ready to come outta mommy's gino!") She kept sitting with Amy and Cary while watching me. She had been well prepared with water birth videos and even gave everyone a little explanation of what was going on. I am so glad that she was there with us, everything worked out PERFECTLY!

I pushed for 17 minutes before Harper was born. My first thought was "This can't be my baby, look at all that hair!" She was just perfect, amazing and beautiful. Nancy asked Hayden if she wanted to get into the tub with us and meet her sister. She said "yes" without hesitation. I can't imagine a better way for them to meet!

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Tilly Grace's Birth Story

Born on May 15, 2010 at 10:15 AM
8 pounds 12 ounces

By Rochele Alberti

Journey to Birth
I always try to write down the details of each child’s birth when they are born…for them to know how they came into the world….but this time…I need to write more than just the details, because this birth was different.  This child’s arrival into “our world” was unique…and as such needs to be told in entirety.
This baby is the 6th child born to us.  We weren’t expecting to have another baby.  It had been 4 years since our last child was born, and we just assumed that we were done.  We were, after all, sending our first born off to college….who expects to have another baby then?  We were surprised, and excited when we realized that we had again been blessed with a baby on the way.  We held off on telling people for a while though…one reason being that we always tell our children first, and with the oldest 1700 miles away…we wanted to tell them all at once.  Thank God for Skype!  We told the children the first part of November (we had known for almost 3 months by this time), and then began the process of telling other people.  We had other reasons for waiting to tell others, most personal (like keeping a treasured secret!) and some being the “not quite thrilled to hear you are having another baby” responses we have gotten in the past.

We began wrestling with who to have  deliver  the baby.  We had had an OB/GYN with our fifth, and while the practice was nice…it wasn’t what I “wanted” for this baby’s delivery.  I had had family practitioners with the prior babies, and while they weren’t “perfect”, they were better than the experience I had with the OB.  I KNEW what I wanted…I had wanted it for all the others, but Fred was hesitant with them.  I brought it up again.  This time, he was willing to try it.  So, finally, I was going to get something I had been long been an advocate of.  A homebirth.  Who knew that it would take me 23 years and 5 kids to convince my husband that homebirth was a good thing?  I had given speeches on it clear back in our college days (hence the 23 years) for speech class.  I had debated its value and place in health care choices for women in several other classes where debate and “current issues” were discussed freely, but I had never gotten the privilege of experiencing for myself.

Finally….I was going to be a participant in the experience!

We found an excellent midwife, Nancy Giglio, through an unique situation.  The year before, a friend was having a baby and had asked me to help her find a midwife.  I had found two for our area online…one being Nancy.   The friend did some further research and decided on Nancy.  When we found out we were pregnant with our sixth treasure, we called this friend and asked her for the name of the midwife she had chosen.  Voile!  My own hunger and desire for a homebirth and being willing to help a friend experience it helped me a year later find the midwife that would deliver our baby.  Never assume that your choices don’t come back to reward you!

I have been a Gestational Diabetic with all of my babies…but this time, even though older and heavier when I got pregnant….I had an easier time maintaining tight control over my glucose levels.  Some of it was determination, some of it was the help and support of my midwife instead of being “threatened” by an OB/GYN with what could happen (as if that helps), and some of it, I believe, was the peace I felt with who was caring for my unborn child and me, and just being more relaxed with the coming birth.  I was less stressed over most of this pregnancy than I had been with any of my other pregnancies, and this was in spite of losing both my grandmother and my dad in the months just prior to the birth of my baby.  Nancy’s support, spiritually, emotionally and physically, was a definite gift from God.  The only time my glucose levels were “out of control” (and even then they were in the ‘safe zone’) was the week of my dad’s death and funeral.

Fast forward through growing belly, lots of kicks, some back aches, some leg cramps, and for once, very little heartburn!  I gained a grand total of 5 pounds from my start weight to the end of my pregnancy (this is normal for me!).  I was due May 20, but I figured closer to May 26.  Baby had other ideas.

On May 14, my hubby told me that we needed to go grocery shopping and some other shopping the next day.  I simply told him that he would need to do it…I had too many other things to do (nesting was hitting hard) and gave him my list of things I needed to accomplish: mending, sorting outgrown clothes for the kids, cleaning out the schoolroom, waxing the dining room floor, etc.  He agreed that he’d do the shopping, and I could “nest.”

On May 15, I woke up at around 7:00 with a pain in my pelvic bone.  It was odd, but hurt.  So, since all those bones had been shifting and loosening up…I figured “oh joy..another day of an aching back…oh well,” and got up.  I went to sit in my rocking chair and do my devotions.  Hmm…another pain…but this was a contraction.  Not too concerned….I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions every day for over a month….no big deal.  5 minutes later… hmm…these could be real labor…or they could be false labor.

Figured I’d call Nancy to let her know so that she could plan her day as needed (in other words…so she could take a separate car from her hubby if they went somewhere in case I needed her later…).  We talked for a few and she told me to call back in 20 minutes so we could see where we were going. and to eat.  After that the contractions got harder and more insistent.

I felt like they were still 5 minutes apart...but hubby was up by this time and began timing them…there were more like 1 ½ to 2 minutes apart.  They were very strong…and at times very painful.  I just kept reminding myself of what Nancy had said and what I already knew…the more they “hurt” the more work they were doing and the closer they were bringing us to the baby’s arrival.  It made me think of  a book Nancy had me read by Ina Mae Gaskins.  In that book ,they refused to call birth pains contractions, but rather called them “rushes” because they are more like ocean waves coming over you…..and that really is what birth pains are like.  They don’t compress you…they engulf you…but with a purpose…with a flow toward something bigger! Fred made me an egg which I had to force myself to eat….I didn’t want to eat….I was wanting to focus on the upcoming birth of my baby!  I called Nancy back at the 20 minutes mark.  She listened to me and said she would be there as soon as she could …about 20 more minutes or so.    

I went back to the rocking chair.  By this time I was starting to “close in on myself”…meaning that during a contraction, the rest of the world just wasn’t that important.  I was totally focused on my body and the baby at that point, which proved interesting since hubby was trying to get dressed and get the kids ready to go to a friend’s house and I had to break up a couple arguments between the younger ones.  Hee hee…I think they enjoyed the little pauses in correction!

Fletcher felt my tummy during one contraction and was surprised at how hard the muscles got.  He asked if I had a rock in my tummy to make it so hard! We had talked about labor, etc. with them in the event that the baby came in the night and they walked in on the delivery.  We wanted them to be informed rather than scared.  Fletcher and Hannah were disappointed that I wasn’t going to let them see our  baby be born, but I knew that I couldn’t handle it…mainly because they are at the ages where they would want to KNOW what was happening and that requires questions to be answered and I was not going to be able to handle answering those questions as I was already focusing in on the job at hand.

Our friend  Sandy came and got the 3 younger children….our oldest son was not out of the shower yet so we figured he’d have to call a different friend to come and get him.  Chaz got out of the shower, heard how I was breathing and called his friend Steven to come and get him.  He was anxious to get out of the house.  At nearly 17, he was NOT the least bit interested in seeing a baby be born!

Nancy got here to the house about 15 minutes after Chaz left.  It was now about 8:15 or so.  The first thing she did was to walk up to me in the rocking chair and rub both my arms and help me to relax.   The second thing we did was listen to baby’s heartbeat to make sure baby was handling contractions okay.  All was good.  We then went into the bedroom so that she could check to see how much I was dilated.  I was shocked to find that I was totally effaced and at 9 ½ cm already.   I was nearly done and I had just gotten started!

I labored on my left side for while…and then on my hands and knees for a while.  Nancy’s biggest concern was that my water NOT break before I got to the pushing stage, as she was pretty sure I had a lot of fluid and we did not want the fluid to push the cord out ahead of the baby.  After what seemed like a long time to me (and I am sure it was maybe 15 minutes at the most in reality), I was progressing to the point where I was ready to give birth.  Nancy had me move to my back temporarily….baby was leaning toward the side rather than straight up and down…meaning head was down , but baby was not “lined up straight”…baby was drifting off to one side in the proper position…  She had me “hold the baby” in the middle of my belly while pushing in an attempt to move baby down and “lock baby” in place.  Every time we did that…it seemed to work..then baby would pop back up out of the pelvis and shift a little to the left or right.

Nancy decided to do a small needle prick in the amniotic sac at that point, to try to release a little of the fluid as the sac was bulging….but it had unexpected results….it exploded!  The result was that baby’s head moved into the birth canal and everything was good to go!  At that point I moved to the birthing stool and we began really working toward birth.  Through all of this, Fred was such a support and help…doing whatever I needed: rubbing my back, getting me sips of Gatorade, holding my hand, etc.  We were a team, the three of us, and a good one!

I pushed our baby out 2 hours and 50 minutes after labor started….she was born with her hand next to her face and her head turned sideways rather than facing up or down.   I didn’t  need stitches and had the smallest tear I have ever had with any of my babies…not even really a tear..this was due mostly to Nancy.  She lubricated the baby’s head, and supported my perineum during the pushing stage.  We also did not rush this part of the birth….we let gravity and my body move baby down.  There was no rush to push baby out….we just let birth happen….and our 8 pound, 12 ounce, 21 inch Tilly Grace was born sweetly into our home and our lives.  She looked so small…and it was such a joy to hold her myself while waiting for the placenta to deliver and then while her daddy cut her umbilical cord.  To get to see all of her first expressions as she experienced “live on the outside” was something I will treasure forever.

There was no rush to measure, weigh, etc.  Nancy checked her little heartbeat while I held her.  Nothing took my baby away from my arms…there was nothing that needed to be done at that point!  While I was holding her, Nancy was brewing an herbal bath for me.

After about an hour, I handed her to Fred to hold (he was so delighted..when we had Hannah..they didn’t let him hold her until the next morning!), and I soaked in a delightful bath that was in a word…heavenly.  To be able to soak all the muscles that had tensed up and relaxed and worked to bring my baby into the world…and it smelled lovely!  All the herbs worked together to just bring healing and restoration.  I’d love to get her recipe!

After my bath, I again held sweet Tilly and nursed her again.  At that point her oldest brother came home and got to see her.  Soon after, the younger children were home and enthralled with the newest member of our family.  The only sibling not there was oldest sister Rachel…..who was sad.

My only regret…..that I had not pushed my hesitant husband into pursuing home birth sooner…and yet….the art of gentle persuasion seems to better fit the art of gentle birth…..of homebirth.

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Genevieve Helen (Evie)'s Birth Story

Born on November 13, 2010 at 5:03 AM
9 pounds 3 ounces

By Heather Boyce

I was a week overdue, so we went to see Nancy at 2:30 so she could “talk to my cervix.” She talked a lot about the benefits of the labor drink and what was in it (castor oil, almond oil and champagne, among other things), and we discussed when I should drink it.

As I left Nancy’s, I began to have some intermittent contractions, but nothing really too uncomfortable.  Nancy told me to walk around briskly for a half hour, so when we got home, I paced the upstairs hallway with a book. Nothing too exciting was happening with the contractions, so we all ate dinner and then I lay down for a little while on the couch.

After another chat with Nancy, I took the labor drink around 7:00.  We sort of waited around for something to happen, but it was the same old sporadic, mildly uncomfortable contractions.  Nancy said to wait for three quick ones in a row that made me double over, and in the meantime recommended going to bed.  Hah!  We tried though, and sure enough – around 11:00 pm, I woke up to three doozies.  Matt jumped into action and got us both into the car.

The hospital was dead – it was late at night on Friday, and we slipped quickly into our room. My nurses throughout the entire labor and delivery were awesome – incredibly helpful and accommodating, and very supportive of my desire for a VBAC.

I had several contractions while leaning over the bed – Nancy massaged my lower back and hips and it felt so wonderful – really eased the pain.  After a while Nancy suggested I use the birth ball, and I spent a good chunk of time rolling back and forth on that with my head on Matt’s chest or in his lap on a pillow.  We had taken the iPod and put it on the speakers at that point, so there was relaxing music filling the room.  I asked Matt later what Nancy was up to, because I heard her encouraging words from behind me, but didn’t see her.  He told me she was taking little cat naps in between my contractions – the poor woman hadn’t slept but an hour or so in the past 24!

I remember Dr. Fitzhugh coming in several times to check on my progress, and they decided it would be a good idea to break my water. As they broke it, I felt it all gushing out – it soaked something like four chux pads!

After Dr. Fitzhugh broke my water, the intensity of my contractions changed very quickly.  They became very uncomfortable, and I had to work a lot harder to try and relax and breathe through them.  I think it was this point that Nancy “assisted” Evie in rotating correctly through the maze of my pelvic bones.  It wasn’t comfortable, but I was so glad to have her helping me with her years of experience and knowledge.  After that, Nancy suggested that I move to the shower for some relief.

I sat on a towel on the birth ball in the shower, and Matt used the showerhead to spray water on my back.  I can only imagine what a circus it must have looked like from an outsider’s point of view!  I had my eyes closed and only ventured a few peeks now and then between contractions, but it was bright in there and I’m sure I was quite a sight!  The water was such a relief, but I imagined that I looked like some kind of farm animal being hosed down!

I don’t think I was in the shower for very long before I felt the urge to push.  The urge was so strong I thought I was going to throw up a few times, and was dry heaving.  I remember being so relieved at the thought that if I actually did throw up, at least it would go right down the drain and no one would have to clean it up.

I moved back to the bed, and couldn't find a comfortable position. We experimented with lots of positions – in a lunge position, with the squat bar, and then finally on my back.  Every time a contraction would come, I dreaded the urge to push – all I wanted to do was crawl away from it.  It felt like my body was going to turn inside out, I had to push so bad.  The dry heaves came back, but luckily I never threw up.  Nancy told me that I wasn’t going to throw up – that I needed to “throw down,” and direct all that energy into pushing. I finally wound up on my back, which was amusing to me, since we all sort of went into it thinking that was going to be my worst position for pushing.  Nevertheless…I was apparently making good progress that way.

I kept pushing with each contraction, and each time felt like my face was going to explode.  I thought for sure each time that Evie was only seconds away from being born, but it seemed like FOREVER that I had to keep pushing!  I remember feeling like I was giving it my all, and then digging  just a little deeper (that’s what it felt like – digging as deep as I could with my hands into the wet sand, but not making much progress).  Each time I dug for that little bit extra, everyone would start yelling with excitement at the new progress I was making.  It was really hard work!!

Finally I had two or three pushes that I felt were no different than the previous ones, but everyone else in the room got all excited.  The next thing I remember was thinking “Good grief, when is she going to arrive already,” and then hearing Nancy say something like, “Here, take your baby.”  She grabbed my arm and moved it down so I could grab Evie, and I had her under both arms before I knew it.  I pulled her up toward my chest and felt her chest, hips and legs emerge – what an insane rush of feelings I had right then!  The satisfaction of feeling the rest of her body emerge under my own power, relief that it was all over, triumph that I had successfully achieved a VBAC, and joy that she was finally with us!

Nancy helped me get Evie situated on my chest, and I had a wonderful hour to rest and cuddle with her before the nurse took her aside to be measured and weighed.  Those nurses – phenomenal!  Nancy helped us breastfeed for the first time while Dr. Fitzhugh stitched me up after a pretty significant tear - not fun, but I'm so glad he spent the time to get it right!

Successful VBAC achieved!

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Raenen Carlos' Birth Story

Born on September 24th, 2004 at 3:56 AM
9 pounds 14 ounces

By Jill Carrillo

Raenen Carlos Carrillo was born naturally at home on 9/24/04, his actual due date!

I went for a prenatal visit with our midwife, Nancy, on Monday, 9/20/04, which happened to also be my 30th birthday. I had lost my mucus plug on Sunday, so I asked her to check me and I was 1 cm dilated. She said that labor wasn't imminent, but that I would probably not make it to my next visit. On Thursday, my back was killing me but I did my best to ignore it, and to just go on with my day. My husband, René, left for a meeting in Stafford (about an hour away) around 10:30 PM, and mom & I went up to bed after ER's season premier.

Around midnight I went to roll over when I felt a "pop" followed by a sharp pang. After the pang subsided and I decided it was safe to roll over, I felt a trickle of liquid on my leg. I jumped out of bed and ran to bathroom and saw that the liquid was a pale pink color. I said "I think my water just broke", and my mom came into the bathroom with me. I called a friend, who was going to be my doula, to see if what I thought was happening was really happening! I then called René, who had just arrived in Stafford for the meeting, and then I called Nancy. She told me to try and get some sleep, make sure that the baby moved within the next hour and to call her back once contractions started and were about 5 minutes apart.

I started having contractions around 12:15, which were about 5-7 minutes apart and lasted about 30-60 seconds. I called my friend back and she came over around 1 AM. I did forward bends over the bed during contractions while she rubbed my lower back. By 1:30, the contractions were 4-5 mintues apart so we called Nancy. She listened to me for a few contractions and asked me to call her back in about an hour. I asked her if we could fill up the big labor tub, but she said to just get in the shower and we would fill the tub when she got there. René got home as I was talking to her, so we got in the shower together. I sat on the birth ball and he squatted behind me holding the shower head on my lower back during the contractions, which felt really good.

Within the hour, my contractions were 30 seconds to 1 minute apart, so we called Nancy back and she arrived about 15 minutes later, around 2:45 AM. We got out of the shower and Nancy checked me. I remember her saying "Open your eyes and look at me. You're all done! You just have to push this baby out!" She gave us the option to fill the tub and birth in the water, as we had discussed during our prenatal visits, but I decided to just use the birthing stool. Since I didn't have the urge to push yet, I remained on our bed while everyone hurried and prepped the room.

Once I finally had the urge to push I got on the birth stool. I switched a couple of times between the birth stool and squatting on the floor to push. After 51 minutes, Raenen made his debut at 3:56 AM. It was incredible, so fast and so surreal! One minute, his head was out and the next he was on my chest. I had a lot of bleeding, so Nancy gave me a shot of pitocin immediately after Raenen was born. After I birthed the placenta, I slid back onto the bed and lay on my left side, cuddling my newborn son.

After about an hour, during which Raenen latched on for the first time, René cut the cord and Raenen was bundled up and handed to his Daddy. When Raenen came out he had both of his hands up at his face, so I had a large tear that Nancy repaired. Once she was done with that, she examined Raenen, who by this time had already pooped a lot of meconium out! He was 9 pounds, 14 ounces and 22 inches long. His head and chest were 14 ½ inches, and he was perfect!

Nancy gave Raenen back to René and then she got the bathtub ready with the postpartum herb bath. I was pretty lightheaded from the blood loss but I made it to the bath, which had the whole house smelling of cloves. I relaxed in the tub alone for a bit and then Raenen joined me. It was so incredible to have him in there with me. So calm and peaceful, and I just cradled him in the water with me. After a while, Nancy came back for Raenen and gave him to René to dress. Then she helped me to get out of the tub, which took a while since I was still lightheaded. I got back into bed, and René and I relaxed with our new son. It was so perfect, and I just can't imagine a better experience for my first birth!!

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Sevilen "Sevi" Calvert's Birth Story

Born on January 5th, 2007 at 10:55 AM
9 pounds 4 ounces

By Jill Carrillo

I woke up at 1:45 AM to go to the bathroom. I was extremely crampy, but having been crampy off and on for the last few weeks I didn't think much of it. I went back to bed, but couldn't get comfortable enough to get back into a deep sleep. Around 2:45, I went back to the bathroom and discovered that I had lost my mucous plug, which was quickly followed by bloody show. I knew then that we were having a baby soon, so although I got back into bed, I was too excited and couldn't go back to sleep~ especially since my first contraction came as soon as I laid down!

I lay in bed, noting that my contractions were coming about 10 minutes apart or so, and tried to force myself to sleep. I finally gave up around 3:45 and woke my husband, Rene, up. His first reaction was, "should I fill the tub?" I called Nancy at 4 AM just to give her a heads up since the contractions were still about 10 minutes apart. She asked me to call her back in an hour, and said we could go ahead and fill the tub but to just cover it and not get in. She also told me to get some more sleep, if possible, and to go ahead and call my mom to come since she had a three hour drive ahead of her.

Rene brought the birth tub into the living room to start filling it. He had started a fire, and we put the tub in front of the fireplace. I was filled with an excited energy, and there was no way I could sleep. The contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but I began having smaller, shorter ones in between. I got my birth ball out and sat on it, rolling my hips during the contractions.

I called Nancy back at 5, and she decided to come on over so I wouldn't have to keep calling her, although she said she was going to take her time. She called Therese, who had agreed to come along as her assistant/my doula.

Nancy arrived at 5:45 (which is apparently taking her time!) and began setting up. She checked me, and I was a "nice 4" and almost 100% effaced. Raenen decided that it was time to wake up at this point so we put a movie on for him in the guest room. Therese arrived about 6 AM, and my mom called at 6:30 to see what was happening. She was already on the Powhite~ I think that's the fastest she has ever gotten to Richmond!

During this time my contractions were still about 7-10 minutes apart. We thought maybe I was waiting for my mom to get there, but she arrived at 7 and I stayed about 7-10 minutes apart. Rene made coffee for everyone who had arrived, and he made bagels and scrambled eggs for me for breakfast. We all chatted a bit, with Raenen running around and wanting me to pick him up. Therese suggested I get in the shower around 8ish, and I figured that would pick things up since it had done so during Raenen's birth. I was a little surprised when it didn't, but I was able to take a nice long, hot shower and did forward bends during contractions with the water on my lower back.

Therese and Nancy sat at the table, drinking coffee and quietly conversing. I commented that I was starting to feel guilty that they had gotten there so early, but they assured me that this was the kind of time they loved, more so than rushing in at the last minute. Nancy offered to check me to see how I was progressing, but I decided against it.

Rene put on some music, and I wandered around the house~ sitting on my ball, leaning against the entertainment center, "dancing" with Rene. Around 10 AM, a friend came to get Raenen and as I started getting things together for her, I noticed that my contractions were more frequent. She and Raenen left around 10:30 AM, and as soon as the door shut behind them, I went down to my knees with a contraction. I started to get up, when a second one grabbed me and pulled me back down and suddenly I felt a gush. I said "my water just broke", and Nancy said it was time to get into the tub. She asked if I needed to go to the bathroom first, and I said that I thought I did.

I went into the bathroom and sat on the toilet. I said, "I can't stand this. I need to get off of here!" Nancy had me lean over the bathtub for the next contraction and did her famous "butt press". I had a second contraction there, and Nancy said she felt him come down as she was pressing against me. She and Therese helped me up and into the living room to the tub. As soon as I stepped into the water, I had felt like pushing.

Rene had gotten into the water and sat behind me, supporting me. Time seemed to slow down and my thoughts got fuzzy as I finally entered Laborland. I remember feeling Sevi's head~ multiple times~ as he crowned through at least 5 contractions. I had to push easy and blow, trying to avoid the tearing that I had with Raenen. I reached that point where I actually thought that I couldn't do it ... But in the back of my mind I heard Nancy during my last appointment: "When you feel like you can't do it, you're almost done".

He came out to the brow, and Nancy had Rene stimulate my nipples to try and bring on another contraction to get the rest of his head out. However, his face slipped out on its own, and during the next contraction he was out! She brought him up out of the water and put him on my chest, covering him with a towel. We cradled him in awe, making sure to keep his head out of the water, while she checked my bleeding.

The placenta followed shortly, and was put into a bowl to float in the tub with us while he latched on for the first time. We finally got out of the tub and I went to the futon with Sevi (and the placenta). Therese made a plate of crackers, cheese and fruit for us to snack on while she and Nancy started cleaning up. They even drained the tub into our garden area~ our own organic fertilizer!

Rene cut the cord and Nancy examined Sevi, who managed to poop a lot just before she weighed him (just like his brother!). Even so, he was 9 pounds, 4 ounces. His length was measured at 20 inches, although by the time we went to the pediatrician's office on Monday he was measured at 22 inches. His head was 14 inches and chest was 14 ½ inches.

I got into the herb bath, which was extremely pleasant. I soaked for a while, and Nancy came in to sit with me. She asked if I wanted Sevi to come into the bath, but it had cooled off by then, so I decided not to. I got out of the tub and got dressed, and slipped into bed with Sevi, enjoying our time alone together until Raenen came home to meet his new brother.

This birth was exactly what I had wanted after the fast & furious pace of my labor with Raenen. I call it my "leisure labor"! The coolest part was how my body waited for Raenen to leave, so that I could shut off that part of my brain and totally surrender to the labor. Our bodies are truly amazing!

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Natalie Skye's Birth Story

Born on March 22, 2007 at 8:10 PM
9 pounds 0 ounces

By Kristin Cummings

Four days past my due date, I woke up to a beautiful spring day with everything in bloom. We threw open the windows & in my heart I hoped that today was the day. My Mom was staying with us to help with the older girls & Steve worked from home (gut feeling he said later). We spent the morning outside gardening. I played soccer in the backyard with my 4 1/2 year old & walked around the block as she rode her bike. We had a peaceful lunch & I felt some mild contractions, but figured it was more of the same 3rd baby warm up labor. The afternoon was relaxed - a trip to Lowe's - more contractions now in my back a bit. I napped & they slowed down. Afterwards, we all hung out on the front porch watching the kids play. I swayed my hips like a belly dancer as contractions came, but still was able to carry on a conversation & "do life". I called Nancy & then Melissa (my friend & doula) - "I don't think this is real labor yet, but I think it's coming." It all felt very manageable. I was waiting for the contraction that brought me to my knees - that I couldn't walk, talk or think through - but this was a different birth. Around 6pm, I couldn't concentrate to make dinner, so my Mom took over with the girls. Steve & I took a walk in our alley & worked through each contraction, dancing. At 7pm he said, "We've got to call Nancy, they're 4 minutes apart." On the phone, I kept saying, "I think it's too early - look I'm really alert in between them." Thank goodness for Nancy's wisdom & experience. She said, "I know you think it's too early, but it's time for me to be there. You've had 3 contractions in the past 10 minutes. Don't worry, if it slows down, I'll have a book to read." She knew I was in active labor & that things were speeding up quickly. Over the next 45 minutes, I went upstairs & hung on my tall dresser & swayed my hips again in figure eights to work through each contraction. Steve pressed on my low back. I gazed out the open window at the forsythia & daffodils as the sun began to set. It got more intense quickly - my face felt hot & tingly all of a sudden. At 8pm, I saw Nancy in the hallway & instantly Skye dropped into my birth canal & I began making powerful noises, feeling the urge to push. Nancy calmly motioned to Steve to get our supplies out; she set up the birth stool, took a few pictures & guided/encouraged me through the intensity all at the same time. My water broke, Nancy had me sit down on the birth stool with Steve behind me & within a few minutes our warm, slippery baby was in my arms. Amazing! Our older girls got to meet their baby sister minutes after she was born. My Mom was there to meet her granddaughter & our dear friend & doula Melissa was also there to welcome Natalie Skye Cummings into the world. We celebrated with ice cream cake & delicious food. I got to soak in Nancy's famous herbal bath by candlelight, talking with Nancy, Mom & Melissa while Steve cuddled & fell in love with Skye. It was a magical night!

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Blake Hill's Birth Story

Born on May 28, 2009 at 1:42 PM
8 pounds 12 ounces

By Randi Dayton

Blake had many different due dates - the first May 12, the second May 17th, the third May 20th and the final May 24th. Nancy figured it was somewhere around the 20th, but no matter what the date, I was late. Pregnancy was never something I really enjoyed and over 41 weeks in, I was ready for it to be over.

I had an appointment with Nancy on the 26th and as much as I loved her, I was not happy to be seeing her at her house again and she knew it. She examined me and massaged my cervix and said she expected things to happen soon. She was right. That night I started having fairly weak contractions but only a few each hour; they stayed like that the whole next day. My older sister came into Richmond the night of the 27th just in case, and I took TylenolPM and had a glass of wine to try to sleep through the night. Just an hour after that though, real contractions started.

I waited until 1:30AM to call Nancy and she said that this was it and that it was time to really start doing work; she offered to come over right then if I wanted her to but I said I thought we were ok alone for the time being. I woke Coles up and we scrambled to get the birth tub set up and filled (apparently that was supposed to have already been done). I talked to Nancy again at 3:30AM to update and again she offered to come over but I felt good with Coles and my sister. At 4:30 I was ready for Nancy to come.

She and Therese, her midwife's assistant (and so much more!), arrived a little while later. I was only 4 cm dilated. I was definitely hoping for more but Nancy's presence was calming and I also knew her presence meant I could finally get into the birthing tub! Contractions were strong but I remember knowing that I could work through them. Nancy helped me to relax and to find different movements and positions to get through each and to help Blake move down. She said he'd be out by dinner.

Sometime mid-morning after I got out of the tub maybe the second time (it all runs together), Nancy got out her oil and everyone massaged me while I worked through contractions on the bed - I felt very loved! Then around 12:30 it was already time to start pushing. My first pushes were not productive; Blake was turned the wrong way. I got discouraged but Nancy helped me through and repositioned Blake. After that, he started to move down and at 1:42 he was born while I sat on the birth chair with Coles behind supporting me. It was an exhausting but amazing experience!

What was wonderful about having Nancy there was that she and Therese were never too far away but they also allowed me my space to work through the labor on my own; I liked not feeling watched and monitored every second but at the same time knowing that Nancy was fully aware of what was happening with me and the baby at all times. She helped me when I needed it but did so in a way that kept me feeling independent, empowered and completely capable. Her care continued into the postpartum which was more valuable than I can express.

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Adelai Carter's Birth Story

Born on March 12, 2011 at 5:05 PM
8 pounds 3 ounces

By Leslie Forrest

6 weeks ago, on March 12, 2011 we had Adelai.

At two o'clock that morning, I woke up having inconsistent contractions about every hour or so, and I knew labor was not far away. That day we had to sign our daughter up for summer camp at the Henrico county building and ended up standing in line for 3 hours trying to get her a spot before it filled up.

Shortly after we arrived home, my husband went outside in the garden and I went upstairs and almost immediately  had two contractions that were ten minutes apart. I called Nancy, and she told me to wait until they had been consistent for an hour or three minutes apart and then to call her back. Right after I got off the phone with her, my contractions went to three minutes apart. I called her back and she said that she and Dr. Fitzhugh were leaving in 20 minutes and would meet us at the hospital. I put on my special red dress to give birth in as we packed everything up in a hurry. We rushed out the door, put our kids in the car and proceeded to hit every stop light on the way to the hospital. Nancy, Dr. Fitzhugh and my family arrived at the hospital at the exact same time. And as my husband unpacked the car, Dr. Fitzhugh took me by the arm and escorted me into the labor and delivery ward. At this point, my contractions were very strong and often. As soon we got inside, my husband started setting up the mood of the room, hanging Christmas lights and getting the music from our birthing playlist playing. I got in bed and after several rounds of contractions, Nancy brought me a yoga ball and suggested we go into the shower. The warm water from the shower helped ALOT. Unfortunately there was a leak, and my husband had to balance spraying my back with holding a washcloth over the leak to keep it from spraying all over everyone!

After about 20-30 minutes in the shower Nancy helped me back to the bed, but on the  way there my water broke. That's when things really got going. My contractions were coming on continuously and growing exponentially stronger. My 2 year old son came over and held my hand and told me that "you can do it" and "it's ok, mama", and I felt really happy that he could be here with me. Dr. Fitzhugh came back and the baby started moving down the birth canal -- which was the most intense sensation I have ever felt in my entire life. Nancy coached me through the contractions, as Adelai moved further along. Before this day came, I didn't think that I would be a "screamer" -- but it turns out I am! I pushed as hard as I could for about 45 minutes while between my legs, Dr. Fitzhugh calmly gave my eight and two year children an informal lesson in obstetrics.

Finally, Adelai was born at 5:05, as the Old Crow song “Wagon Wheel” played in the background. Dr. Fitzhugh put Adelai on my chest until the placenta arrived. While my husband was comforting me, Dr. Fitzhugh let Destiny cut the umbilical cord. I had a mild hemorrhage like I did in my previous birth (redhead), but Nancy and Dr. Fitzhugh were fast to act and extremely reassuring.  At this point, I was extremely exhausted and not hungry at all, but Nancy told me that I should eat a banana, which I hate, but I deferred to her wisdom. To my surprise, it tasted delicious, and now I eat them all the time.  The time from my first phone call to Nancy to when Adelai appeared was only three hours.

Nancy and Dr. Fitzhugh were really wonderful. Throughout my pregnancy, Nancy coached me on the ins and outs of a natural birth. I was extremely scared of hemorrhaging,  but  she was able to ease my mind and prepare me for one of the most intense and amazing experiences of my life.

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Lucy Lee's Birth Story

Born on April 9, 2009 at 5:53 PM
8 pounds 14 ounces

By Beth Gray

After keeping me guessing and waiting for more than a week after she was due, Lucy was born in a hurry. Although both of my previous pregnancies lasted past 40 weeks, somehow I got it in my mind that this baby would come earlier. As my due date came annd went, I started feeling more impatient. Part of that was because my mom had already been with us a good three weeks, and we knew she would have to go home before April 12th. When I had my last visit with Nancy on Tuesday, I was thrilled to hear that I was already four cm dilated, and very much ready. She sent me home with high hopes, and I began having contractions as soon as I left. They dwindled after I went to bed, though, and the next day nothing was happening. We discussed whether we should use the "drink" to get labour started, and I was wavering- one minute I'd think, let's go, and the next I'd be reluctant. It took a good amount of deliberation, and finally it was clear to me that we should go for it.

We went on Thursday at lunchtime to get "the drink." As soon as I walked in, Nancy said, "this is a good decision for you." I love how she instantly reassured me that my choice was right for me. It did help to understand that my body was really ready to give birth, even though the baby hadn't sent me into labour yet.

After I finished drinking the "German cocktail," I followed Nancy's directions and immediately went to lie down and rest for an hour. After and hour, I woke, refreshed, and waited for the contractions to begin. Then they started, slowly, and I called my midwife to tell her. She sent me out to have a brisk, twenty-minute walk to get things moving. David came out with me, and the kids came out, too. At first, I walked ahead, and then Zora wanted to walk with me and hold hands. That was okay for a contraction or two, and then I was withdrawing into the labour. Thankfully, the children disappeared for dessert with my mom. David told her, "Give them some ice cream! Lots of ice cream!" When I came inside after that twenty minutes, labour was in full swing, and I was done being conversational. I went into the birthing space, and it was on!

It seems like as soon as I was in the room, it was fast and furious. I was bending over with my face buried in the pillows at the foot of the bed, and making a low, moaning sound that turned into a song of sorts. I had David rubbing my bottom during the contractions, then as soon as each contraction would ease, he would try to run around doing all of the things that needed to be done to actually have a birth in our house. We had done all of the preparations and had the supplies organized, but it was so fast! As soon as he had the floor under me covered, my water broke! He somehow managed to fill the birth tub and get almost everything done in short bursts between contractions. If he had any panic, he kept it out of his voice when he called to see if Nancy was on her way. Poor guy, every time he tried to leave my backside to get anything done, I'd say, "don't leave me!!" When Nancy did come into the house, I know I felt relieved! I couldn't get into the tub immediately, though, because the water wasn't warm enough. As they continued to get things all arranged, I continued to be in that faraway place where my body was much stronger than my brain.

Then, finally, Nancy said, "If you want to get into the tub, you have to do it now, because the baby is coming now!" I waddled over to the tub and just stood there- I couldn't figure out how to get into the tub! Somehow I managed to climb into the water, and the relief was amazing. The water totally made it possible for me to be more fully conscious of what was happening. It was like I could actually feel what was going on with my body. When I realized how close we were to having a baby, I shouted for my mom to come in with our other children. The water made it possible for me to actually smile at Zora and Sam as they came in. I didn't want them to worry. The were all eyes, looking around, and my mom was holding Sam. (Thankfully, we had prepared them for what the birth would sound like and look like, so they seemed okay with all of it.) I knew the baby was crowning, but I thought the baby's head was all the way out when really it was just starting. Nancy got my attention and told me that I needed to push. My body had been pushing, but I hadn't been doing anything - I think I was starting to relax a little because of the water. So, it was maybe two pushes, and then there was a baby in my arms. I was thrilled to have another daughter. We made sure Zora got to help cut the cord. After the placenta came, I got out of the tub and into the bed, and Lucy had her first meal.

Because of how intense and fast it all was, I was shaking. I finished the drink at 2:30, woke at 3:30 and Lucy was born at 5:40! That was less than two hours of actual labour! I think David and I were both a little bit in shock because we just didn't expect it to all go so very quickly. I'm not sure when the shock wore off, because it is quite likely that we were already tired from sleeplessness by the time it did!

I couldn't be more pleased with the birth, overall. I would have liked to have been in the water a little sooner, so that I could've sort of savored the entire experience a bit more. I am so very glad we have the photos we have. There were things I didn't notice at all until I saw the photos. We had the video camera there, but just couldn't get it on and running in time! We just never imagined how fast it could be.

Having Nancy as my midwife has been wonderful. I have learned so much. I could never thank her enough. Everywhere I go people remark about how alert, strong and responsive our Lucy is. She is a very calm and happy baby, and I like to think it is partly because she liked her birth experience :)

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Nora Rowe's Birth Story

Born on June 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM
7 pounds 8 ounces

By Leslie Lind

It has been over 3 years since I had Nora and had the chance to work with Nancy. What a gift she is! I never got around to posting our story because just two weeks after my youngest was born, we were whisked off to San Francisco for a job transfer. I thought I would take a moment to share!

I had two cesarean births with an OB who detected I had high blood pressure right around 38 weeks with both. I was sad to let go of the experience of what I had thought birth would look like. I had two healthy babies and at that moment-really what else mattered? When we were expecting our third, I decided to change care over to a midwife and try for a VBAC. I worked with Nancy and Dr. Fitzhugh as a team in case this would be an issue again. I tried to keep my expectations in check but loved the care and support I received.

From the beginning-I felt such an intimacy with how Nancy operates. I will always remember that big bed inside of that bedroom plastered with beautiful birth photos. I felt so equipped by her counsel-even down to a careful diet she helped craft for me. I was 12 days overdue and then went into labor on my own early in morning. It was my own little secret for a large part of the morning. I just allowed myself to take in the feelings, experience the pangs and later let my husband know. I was scheduled to deliver at Henrico due to my previous pregnancies. I called Nancy-checked in here and there but labored, paced, pressed my cheek against the granite counter a lot. Once my sister arrived to watch our older two kids, we met Nancy and Dr. Fitzhugh in the room.

I had a couple hours with Nancy before another midwife plus nurse team took over for her so she could attend a home birth. I was so supported and guided. Once they did an examination and then broke my water, I only managed a couple of laps around the hospital corridor. I think I pushed for an hour and Nora was out. No time for drugs. I will never forget Dr. Fitzhugh taking my hand and verbally guiding me to reach down to bring my daughter up to my chest. What a gift. I feel very fortunate that in the context of some risk involved, everything went beautifully.

Nancy-Thank you again! I am forever grateful for you and the way you serve in this realm.

Leslie & Family

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Hazel Elizabeth's Birth Story

Born on April 20, 2006 at 9:08 PM
7 pounds 14 ounces

By Sandi Lowery

The night before my 41 +5 week appointment with my midwife, light contractions start around 2:30 AM and continue until about 5:30 AM. I get up and take a shower, and I lose my mucous plug. I remember smiling through all of the contractions and thinking, "My body is doing this all on its own!", as it’s just never happened without castor oil in my overdue history. I began to thank God for the baby blessing he is bringing me, and I really concentrate on keeping my excitement down enough to rest and conserve my energy. After my shower, it slowed a lot, and we were off to see my midwife. (My darling called in to work and stayed with me, just in case!) When she checked me, I was two centimeters dilated! This also has never happened for me before labor, and we were both pretty excited! When she checks my belly she does not get good acceleration readings on the baby, and we discuss our options. We decide to do the German labor drink and plan to have a baby that day, April 19th.We splurge and all eat a celebratory Shoney’s breakfast. Then we come home for me to "chug" the labor drink and lie down and wait for contractions to pick up. Well, I throw that labor drink right back up! LOL! YUCK! (It’s like, apricot juice, almond butter, castor oil, champagne, and who knows what else!) I call my midwife, and we’re off to her house as she mixes up another. (Apparently I had a good fifteen minutes to sip it down, but some of us take things very literally! LOL! "Chug" in my mind registers as three to five minutes!)We go home and try again. This time I get it down with a little ice added. I lay down and rest, and light contractions begin within an hour. A lovely neighbor is excited to take the boys for the night, and we prepare to have a baby! We take a good, long walk to help things progress.True to me, the contractions get harder and harder and harder throughout the night, but they slow and never come closer than ten minutes apart again. ~sigh~ This is my usual "holding pattern" of sorts, and it’s not easy. My midwife had really worked with me on this part of the process~I am to rest, rest, rest between contractions until they begin to come closer together. They are intensifying, and I’m really working hard to embrace them. I’m just thanking God as they come that they are bringing the baby down and opening me up, thanking Him for His generous legacy, gift, and reward. I’m trying hard not to be afraid of the next one and relax through them. I’m to call her again when they are 3-5 minutes apart and take one contraction at a time, rather than try to look at the whole picture.

Sometime around 2:00 AM I find that I get relief in the recliner, and I am soo happy! I’m tired, and I am finally able to get some rest. I sleep a couple of hours as the contractions slow and become less intense, and WOW what even an hour can do for a tired body! When we call my midwife in the morning, she is glad to hear that I had slept, as she says you just shouldn’t hafta work so hard for labor. We have EVERY TIME, and she says my body just doesn’t like to be tampered with! LOL! She schedules an appointment so we can check the baby’s acceleration again, and the boys come home disappointed.

This time at my midwife’s the baby gives us EXCELLENT acceleration. Different time of day, maybe? My midwife is relieved, as she’s discerning how to proceed~home or hospital. We check my cervix and are both just shocked to find that I’m SEVEN CENTIMETERS! WOW! Again, this is UNREAL for me! But all contractions have stopped. OH are we elated now and talk about breaking my water or taking the German labor drink again. We decide we want to keep the water in tact for baby’s safety, she‘ll take a few more appointments, and then she‘ll come to my house with labor drink ingredients. She expects that when contractions start, we’ll have a baby in an hour!

What a strange way to have a baby! There I am, welcoming my midwife into my house with expectations of having a baby before nightfall (it’s about 2:00 PM), and not a contraction to speak of! LOL! I drink the drink, get comfortable, and try to rest. We all just really hang out, and the neat thing was Jamie’s reaction. He still talks about how much fun it was to all be together in my room with our midwife and the music playing as I’m lazily scratching his back! LOL! I am eight centimeters. The two youngest boys go to the neighbor’s again, but my Allen opts to remain at home.

The labor drink takes a little longer to work this time, and I hafta do some squat/stand/sit motions to get things going. When things get going this time, they take off! OH the contractions come every three to four minutes apart and are pretty intense! Again, true to me, the baby has not dropped, and my midwife has to reach in and spend some time turning the baby. She advises me to bear down, and I bring the baby to station 0 from 3. The contractions just get harder and harder and harder, and I’m sure I’m literally screaming through some of them. I beg the LORD to bring my baby down and out NOW, and hopes of a baby before sundown vanish. ARGH! I’m on the toilet, in the shower, leaning over the ball, in polar bear position, on all fours~oh what FUN! LOL! While on the ball or in the polar bear, my midwife pushes on two pressure points under my bottom and makes it even more torturous~although productive. I’m breathing quick, short breaths, screaming, roaring, and trying to tell myself that I am a soldier in God’s army, and this is how we women fight~LOL! I try to take on the attitude of attacking the contractions rather than letting them attack me, and my voice changes from screaming to deeper roars.

Finally while on the toilet I begin to get the urge to push. It continues in the shower on all fours and never goes away~we’re still trying to work this baby down! To me she feels like she’s right there, but she’s not. Three hours of this follow, and I feel very lucid between contractions, which are all three minutes or less apart. I miss that calm serenity between contractions that is just a picture of peace indescribable! In the shower I begin to tell myself that I’ll NEVER do this again, and NO WONDER women go to the hospital!

My midwife can hear a shift in my pushing, and I begin to really bear down. Baby crowns while I’m on all fours, and my midwife encourages me to get up on the birthing stool. I tell her sharply to listen to me! I want this baby out! I can’t! I don’t want to! She urges and sharply pushes right back (she wants me to be able to see my baby and immediately hold her), and I comply~with lots of help getting up. Two pushes on the birthing stool and she is here! (9:08 PM) OH! I see that little scrunched-up face and immediately exclaim, "It was all worth it!" Baby is on my chest, and we call Allen up (who had been happily playing video games while wearing headphones~LOL!). He’s very excited, and we turn baby over for him to tell us if we have a boy or a girl. He deems her a girl and goes back downstairs. I deliver a beautiful placenta within eight minutes, Hazel crying the entire time, my darling cuts the cord, and our baby girl latches on at twelve minutes old and nurses vigorously for an hour! While Hazel is nursing, my midwife slips me a pitocen shot (even though I’ve never been a bleeder, BIG MAMMAS are at higher risk~so this is just precautionary), and baby Hazel gets her Vitamin K shot. The labor drink supposedly also helps guard against bleeding, and WOW have my afterpains been almost nonexistent! YAY! My midwife then weighs her and takes her measurements, Allen holds Hazel, my darling goes and splurges on take out (I get a chicken cheese steak sandwich~MMMM!), and I get into an herb bath. My midwife leaves at close to 11:00 PM, we eat, and settle down for the night. Nobody really gets to hold Hazel, as she just wants to nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse and nurse…

What a peaceful and calm baby! We have always chosen names from family members for our boys, and we did the same with Hazel. We have a harder time deciding on girl names, so we don’t actually KNOW the Hazel she’s named after. We do have a blurb about her from our last family reunion though (my darling’s side), and what a wonderful, Godly legacy! I have since learned that there are many forms of Elizabeth on my Mom’s side as well, including my wonderful Grandma (Libby) Jane! I cannot stop kissing her and just cannot believe we have a daughter! YAY! Here I thought I wanted another boy, but OH doesn’t God just KNOW? I couldn’t be more thrilled!

OH! The boys come back from our neighbor’s at about quarter to 7:00 in the morning. Preston immediately begins rubbing her face and hair, and Jamie just lies beside her and stares. You can see them both tracing her features with their eyes, just captivated! SO PRECIOUS! They are just smitten with their sister! (And HELP ME LORD! Preston is all TOO helpful! LOL!) All three boys are often found lying all around her in the bed, looking at her while talking to one another. So peaceful and sweet! Well, it does always finally end in wrestling, and they get kicked out~LOL…

Hazel is the picture of beauty. She has a head FULL of black hair, almost two inches long~like Allen did~looks like beautiful Indian hair. She has "coal black eyes" just like her big brother, Preston. She has Jamie’s (and her Grandma on her Daddy’s side) pouty bottom lip when she’s not happy and really pooches it out. My darling says she looks sooo much like me, and he often finds us sleeping in the exact same position, which only accentuates it! Hazel has my hands, and I have my Mother’s hands. All my boys have my darling’s and his Mother’s hands! She has long eyelashes from my Dad’s side of the family.

Labor was a total of twenty-five hours, although they were not twenty-five consecutive hours. Hazel was due April 7th, but was born April 20th at 9:08 PM. She was 7 lbs, 14 oz. and 21 in. long.

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Frances Grace's Birth Story

Born on October 30, 2009 at 10:38 AM
8 pounds 11 ounces

By Sandi Lowery

WARNING:  I will probably hold back nothing, so this could get pretty graphic.  READ AT YER OWN RISK!!!

At 11:00 PM I began to have irregular contractions from five to twenty minutes apart.  In the morning I went in for an ultrasound to confirm baby’s position, and YAY!  She was head down!  My water broke while I was about to leave the office, and it really freaked everybody out that I drove myself~LOL!  Anyway, from 11:00 contractions lasted on and off for twenty-four hours.  In that time my marvelous midwife attended a birth, came and checked on me, attended another birth, and came back to me at midnight.  Everything had stalled.

We talked about how to proceed:  Stay home and take a labor drink or castor oil and labor for another good twelve hours, or go to the hospital, get just a little pitocen for a jump start, and have a baby much sooner.  Baby was still very, very high (my midwife could not even reach her)~and that was the only thing keeping me from dilating, as my cervix was ready.  The latter sounded very appealing, because even though the last twenty-four hours had not been super difficult, it still was wearing on the mind.

We get to the hospital at 2:00 AM.  Contractions start coming and get harder and harder with the pit, we try various positions, but still there is no progress.  Baby is still very high, cervix is ready and easily opens, but not fully dilated.  We try me pushing, and while it does bring the baby down a bit, she floats right back up again.  Pushing through contractions was easier than just bearing them though.  Right before the nurses change shifts I start to lose it and share that I just.can’  To my relief, here comes an epidural.

I NEVER in my whole life thought I would EVER want an epidural!  (Much less deliver in the hospital!) but OH was I thankful, and I tell you now that I have NOT ONE regret!  (and we now know we would have ended up in the hospital anyway!)  I hear my midwife say we should’ve done it sooner, and that blesses me.  Not that I think we should or shouldn’t have~it was validation.  I don’t think I could have done this birth without it.  I sleep a bit to let the contractions work as they are supposed to.

The next labor and delivery nurse that comes in is very aggressive.  She spends hours literally almost up to her elbow trying to turn the baby and rubbing her wee head, as the others position me in various positions and press here and push there.  Often I grab handles and push with all I have while my knees are pushed to my chest.  I don’t know how long all this goes on (it is hours), but I do get exhausted and physically sore in my upper body and worry about being able to continue.  My midwife and her assistant are always the perfect encouragement!

Everyone talks about the piece of the puzzle they are missing.  My midwife (or someone) believes an arm is in the way, and my midwife has an idea.  They invert the table so I am more upside down, my midwife stands above me on the bed and presses the area of the hand or elbow (which has been in the birth canal), jiggles it, and then releases it suddenly several times.  I think, “PLEASE don’t make me push in this position!” right before I am asked to~LOL!  So I do, and there is progress!  I hang out inverted with one numb leg up in the air (which makes me feel like I could throw up)  and one breast taped down so I don’t suffocate, the arm is now out of the way, I guess?  and we let the contractions work a bit.  The poor L/D nurse is STILL up to her elbow, btw!  My midwife next wraps a sheet around my middle, and she and her assistant then each pull an end while I push through contractions.

Because of the epi I hafta rely on them to tell me when contractions are, and I can’t tell if I’m pushing well.  Thankfully I am a REALLY GOOD pusher~even though I wanna quit!  At some point the handsome doc comes in and jokes a bit about how the baby is still high, but I don’t take it well and tell him so.  I LOVE THAT MAN, though!  but I’m fighting wanting a c-section, which my midwife and assistant and nurse will not hear of~PTL!

Finally (still inverted a bit) they see bulge and get ready for baby.  I don’t believe it is real, as I’ve been watching the hours tick by and don’t think it will ever stop!  They tell me it will just take one more good push, and I give it when the room erupts in “STOP!”  As someone quickly gets the doc I begin to cry and praise the LORD over and over again, as I know this is it!  The doc just has her slide out with the next contraction, and they tell me to grab my baby.  Inverted and hardly able to lift my arms makes it difficult, and she is SLIPPERY!  I kiss her head and weep with rejoicing while they dry her with blankets, STILL INVERTED, PEOPLE!  HELLO!  LOLOL!  She is born at 10:38 AM on October 30th, weighs 8 lbs 11 oz, and is 21 1/2 in. long (my biggest baby!).  Labor was thirty-four hours.

Recovery is very different, the hospital is a very different experience, but what an adventure!  and there was a PRIZE at the end!!!  ~smile~  (((((HUGS)))))  sandi~who is neglecting to tell you ALL ABOUT the swelling of the nether-region~OY!  and the many wonderful recovery nurses that took such great care of me!

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Owen Lawrence's Birth Story

Born on August 8, 2010 at 8:32 PM
9 pounds 4 ounces

By Sandra Marr

Owen’s Birth Story

Owen’s birth story really starts with his big brother’s birth.  Ethan was born in a hospital after I was induced for “low amniotic fluids” on my due date.  After starting pitocin and having my water broken, Ethan was born naturally 26 hours later.   There were some complications along the way, and it was only because of the no-nonsense attitude of the nurse who turned Ethan into position that I avoided a C-section.

I wanted something different for this birth and decided to use a midwife for my prenatal care and delivery.  For much of my pregnancy, I worried about delivering in a hospital again.  It wasn’t until Nancy, my midwife, and I worked on my birth invitation and my birth affirmations that I truly let go of having a particular outcome and embraced bringing as much positive energy to this birth as possible.

On Friday night, I experienced some “uteran activity” – low, warm cramping below my baby’s head.  I imagined my cervix thinning and retracting like a sweater over my baby.  Saturday morning, I calmly told my husband, Bruce, that something might be happening.  We spent the morning painting the birthing tub with Ethan and the day keeping busy with household chores.  The cramping disappeared during the day,  but Saturday night it returned.  I went to bed, and I awoke at 3:30 am Sunday, August 8th, and just observed what was happening inside my body.  At 5:30 am I got out of bed, busied myself with laundry and casually watched the clock.  The contractions persisted and with each phone check with my midwife, I would move into the next phase of laboring.   I called her the “Magic Lady” – whatever benchmark she told me to look for would arrive within 15 minutes of our conversation.

Although I had to cancel my blessingway scheduled for that night, I felt happy, centered and calm the entire day.  It was as if all those women just in their preparations for the evening had given me the mental and emotional energy I needed for birth.  (Thank you!)  I wore two stones that day – one given to me by my mom to clear away any fear emotions and the other delivered by my mommy friend, Ashley, that she had recently worn and had been worn by many other women in their labors.

My mom came to pick up Ethan at 4:30 pm and after saying goodbye, labor came strong.  Nancy was going to give Bruce and me an hour to connect alone before coming over, but within half an hour I  knew the time was coming soon.  Nancy and her assistant, Therese, arrived around 6:30 pm and after Nancy helped me break my own water (!), Owen was born in the birthing tub two hours later after 17 minutes of pushing.   As I got out of the water, we realized the necklace with the stone my gave me had come off during Owen’s birth – I didn’t need help cleansing away fear anymore.

I received all the blessings I asked the universe for – labor came on its own; I spent the day with Ethan; I was surrounded by amazing, calm people in my own home for a safe, happy, healthy birth; I nursed Owen right away; and Ethan slept and was content at his Nana’s.  I still just feel this amazing gratitude for all the love and positive energy that surrounded us that day.  What a beautiful, powerful experience that has touched me to the roots of my soul.   I hope my experience has imprinted on the birthing necklace – it’s ready to give strength and courage to the next laboring woman.

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Rowan Elizabeth Petres' Birth Story

Born on August 6, 2209 at 9:10 PM
6 pounds 12 ounces

By Lea Marshall

This is how it happened.

Thursday was the first day of my maternity leave from VCU. At the midwife's the day before, the baby was fine, at +1 station, dilated 1 cm. I was fine, other than swollen feet and Because of house construction, we were hoping she'd wait till her due date of August 12. Seemed entirely likely, with nothing other than Braxton-Hicks contractions and the usual late pregnancy discomfort going on.


Thursday morning I woke up around 8, and by 9am was having low abdominal cramps in a band all the way around my body. Like bad menstrual cramps, I thought, and aren't these the kind of contractions that can continue off and on for days? Sure. No blood, or any other more graphic indications that this might be labor. I called Nancy (the midwife) to let her know, and she said just keep tabs on it and chill out. Ok.

The cramps continued intermittently all day. Thursday was the day that the guys came to move all the furniture that had been stacked up in one room upstairs back downstairs, as the first floor was finally fully wired and painted, and ready to be occupied (now, there's still trim to paint, and molding to put in, etc, but it's good enough for the moment). So I was helping to direct the furniture moving, and carrying lamps around, and deciding what should go where. All the while having these cramps which were certainly painful, but not debilitating.

The day continued a little chaotically. We had a Ground Zero Dance meeting at the house during lunch. Furniture moving went on. My "cramps" went on.

By sometime after 5pm, the downstairs began to look like a livable space, and Rob and I decided to run to Lowe's for an air conditioner, to make it even more livable. We stopped by an ATM first, and then headed to Lowe's. At some point during this outing, I decided I should start keeping track of my "cramps", and discovered that they were coming about every 15-20 minutes. Hm.

We got back to the house. Rob started installing the AC. I sat down on the couch in the newly (re)constructed living room. But the pain made me restless. I got up, walked across the room, and my water broke. Rob was on his way out the door to get the AC to put in the window and I said, "My water just broke." I'll never forget the look on his face as he paused by the door, asking, "You're having the baby now??!?" He was disbelieving, and somehow thought I must have peed by mistake or something.

So he brought towels while I called Nancy, who said things would speed up now, and to call her in an hour with a status report. Kat (our dear friend, who was planning to be with us for the birth) happened to call just as I was standing there dripping onto the floor, and she came over within what seemed like five minutes.

Rob, meanwhile, heroically finished installing the air conditioner. When Kat arrived, the two of them sprang into action setting up the inflatable birth tub upstairs, and bringing birth and baby supplies up from the basement, where everything had been stored to keep out of range of construction dirt. I had discarded my clothes after my water broke, and saw no need to put any more on, so I roamed around our upstairs "den" while Rob and Kat worked furiously. The contractions did indeed speed up (quickly!) and get more intense. I started using one corner of my grandmother's old couch to lean on, treading my feet back and forth through each one.

When we called Nancy after an hour, I think my contractions were under 5 minutes apart, possibly under 3 minutes, and I was seeing a little blood. She said I was starting to dilate, and that she'd come by 8pm (about another hour). Within that hour, contractions got more and more intense. I clung to my couch-corner and just kept my little jog-in-place going, and I think I was making some noise through the peak of each one. They were so clearly wave-shaped - rising, peaking, and falling away in intensity.

Some time before Nancy arrived, two or three contractions in a row amped up in intensity and had me wondering if I could hack it for much longer. Fortunately, by then Rob and Kat had gotten the tub full of nice warm water and I climbed in, forgetting that Nancy said to wait until I was about 7cm dilated. Who the hell knew how dilated I was, anyway?? The warm water took the edge off, and I labored in the tub for 10 or 15 minutes more till Nancy arrived.

She laughed when she saw me in the tub and said I looked like a little girl caught being bad. No worries, she just checked the temperature and we added a little cool water so it wouldn't be too hot for baby.

Within maybe half an hour of her arrival, Nancy checked me and said I was 9cm dilated! This was amazing. I had been psyching myself up with the knowledge that first labors were usually pretty long, and things could go on and on, and here we were not 3 hours past my water breaking, before which I hadn't even realized I was in labor.

I must have begun pushing around 8:30pm. The first contraction during which the baby moved down into the birth canal felt like a car engine, like a huge wheel churning inside me--the most powerful sensation I had ever felt. And then pushing, well, as everyone will say, it feels like having to poop, but magnified about 1000 times. I pushed for 40 minutes, hanging onto Rob and being coached by Nancy.

The baby's head crowned, and there was a pause, and it seemed like she might be a little stuck, but the next push (I think) sent her shooting out of me all at once--they had a light down in the water, and I saw her rush out, and Nancy said, "Reach down and pick up your baby," and I did! I felt her weight in my arms, and the cord running from her into me, and I saw her face, and of course all the pain vanished immediately.

Nancy checked her out while I held her, leaning back into Rob. They put a little hat on her and wrapped her in a towel, and we just stayed where we were for maybe 15 minutes, till they got me out of the pool and onto the birthing stool for the placenta to come, which it did easily.

Then we moved over to the futon, and I held Rowan, with Rob sitting at our head, and there was lots of happy talk and laughing while Nancy weighed her and checked me, and we all started getting to know her. I can't remember the order of things, but I nursed her some then.

But when Nancy checked me she found I had a fourth-degree tear--the baby had had one arm raised up by her head as she came out, and that did a number on me. Nancy decided to call her backup doctor, who is also an old Petres family friend. And that blessed man came to the house at midnight, and decided he could do the stitching here rather than taking us all to the hospital, for which I am profoundly grateful.


The stitching took an hour. There was some minimal local anesthetic (not possible to numb the whole area completely), and Nancy kept feeding me red wine (I don't drink at all, so all had decided that wine would be plenty strong enough) through a bendy-straw. She held one leg, her assistant held the other, aided by Kat, and Rob was at my head, while I stared straight up into his eyes and told stories, at the prompting of Nancy, who kept me talking the whole time with questions like, "How did you guys meet?" and "Tell us about your trip to Africa." So I did, telling stories through the pain, which was severe and far worse than labor. And our doctor worked away, sitting on a little Chinese footstool in front of the futon on which I lay, with a construction light rigged up on the back of a chair for the surgery light. It was all very 19th century and intense.

My mother had arrived just after the birth, and she watched the baby while all this went on; I think I heard her crying at intervals during the surgery.

But as soon as it was over, I was fine. And we all rested, with great sighs, and Rowan was with us, and the house was filled with love.

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Virginia Catherin's Birth Story

Born on July 22, 2010 at 9:40 PM
8 pounds 14 ounces

By Loftan Miller

It's been 6 months since our daughter, Vivi, was born and even though her birth didn't go as we planned, it was the most wonderful moment of our lives.

While Nancy was examining me during week 36 she realized that Vivi had turned breech. This was a complete shock because I could not have had a better pregnancy up until this point. For the next three weeks I spent what seemed like every free moment getting myself into yoga positions that are prone to help turn a breech baby. I even visited my chiropractor three times a week to turn her, but nothing worked.

The last straw was seeing Dr. Fitzhugh to see if he could turn her. After that was unsuccessful, Greg and I decided to go ahead and schedule a cesarean. Although sometimes babies turn while in labor, Dr. Fitzhugh felt that it wouldn't be safe for me to go into labor with her in a footling position. There were many tears and prayers, but Nancy assured us that this must be the way Vivi needed to be born.

When the cesarean day arrived, Greg and I were so happy that we'd be meeting Vivi that day that we hardly had time to be nervous. Once we arrived at the hospital and were admitted, Nancy met us there and helped create a welcoming atmosphere for our birth. She gave me a little candle and a figurine of a baby sitting up. She told me that it was my breech baby.

The parts of the cesarean that I feared the most (epidural, IV, lying in the bright room) were so insignificant that looking back, I couldn't believe I was so afraid of them. I brought in a CD of music for her birth that included everything from Foy Vance, James Brown, to the Rolling Stones. It helped lighten the mood so much that even the nurses were dancing, singing, and laughing to the music throughout her birth. Both Nancy and Greg were by my side the entire time, so I never felt scared or alone. In fact, the exact moment she was delivered, I remember that I was telling the story of how Greg and I met. I will never forget how much joy was in the room when Vivi came into this world.

When Dr. Fitzhugh delivered her, he handed her to us immediately and I was able to bring her to my chest, even though you hear so many stories of the baby being taken away so soon. I was maybe separated from her for five minutes while they cleaned her up in the same room, but it was not upsetting at all at the time. Vivi nursed as soon as she came back to me. We were still able to bond as a family privately like I had imagined it so many times at home.

I wanted to tell my story not to scare anyone, but mainly so other Mothers would know what would happen if your home birth doesn't quite go as planned. I remember feeling most scared about the "what if" part, and if I had known what I know now, I wouldn't have been so frightened.

The kind of care I received from Nancy was truly priceless. She was there throughout the entire birth at the hospital and was in constant communication with me for weeks afterwards. She helped me be brave and strong, even when I wasn't getting the birth that I had imagined. She helped me understand that babies come the way they need to come, and that it was okay.

I will say that even if I am destined to have all breech babies, I would still want Nancy as our caregiver. There is truly nothing like what she does, and I will forever be thankful to her for such a beautiful birth.

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Nicholas Michael's Birth Story

Born on May 2, 2008 at 5:31 AM
8 pounds 7 ounces

From Mom's Point of View...

By Cynthia Mulvaney

I was working on May 1st and went home with a feeling that we needed to have everything ready, although it was two weeks early and I fully expected to be at least two weeks late based on history. During our evening call with Nancy, she told us we could come over and get the birthing tub, even though she was at another birth and had to have her husband get the birthing tub and leave it out for my husband to pick up in the night, just to alleviate my anxiety. I guess a mommy knows because at 3:30 a.m., I awoke to a slight tummy pain, so slight that I let my husband sleep and timed them, thinking nothing of them. It didn't take long to realize a pattern, exactly 10 minutes apart, and at 4:30 I woke my sleepy hubby tolet him know I was in labor. Having the fear associated with a prior hospital birth in my eyes, he knew and immediately went downstairs to bring up the birthing tub we had only just gotten and start putting it together. We waited to call Nancy.

It was approximately 5:00 a.m., my water broke and we called Nancy. She had just gotten home from another birth and was crawling into bed and told us, yes, that will happen, and to call her at 7:00 a.m. with a status report. At 5:15, apparently my water REALLY broke, as before was just a trickle and a flood of water came, which led me from the bed to the bathroom, not wanting to make a mess. (Silly me) As soon as I got up, contractions really took off and were constant. I told my husband to stop what he was doing and stay with me,as he had been boiling water and carrying it up to the tub that was now together but yet to be filled. I told him to call Nancy and get her here NOW. As he was talking to Nancy, I remember asking if she had left yet and although it had only been a minute and she was justgetting dressed it seemed like a long time. I do not remember when my husband hadprepared the area around me; but, without pushing, I felt a release of the burning feeling Ihad started to feel caused by our babycrowning his beautiful head. I had feared tearing because of an episiotomy in the hospital; but I can describe it now as only a complete relief as my husband caught our pink, perfect and beautiful baby boy at 5:31 a.m. Nancy was with us the whole time, through her words and wisdom. We would not have made it to the hospital even had we planned to and were lucky to be so prepared and have her with us in spirit. The care we received before, during and after, was phenomenal.

It seemed like she stayed with us in our little cocoon for days as we stayed in the blissful comfort of our home with family. I do not know when or how she did it, amongst the care she gave us, but our home was immaculate. I even remember her giving me this amazing herbal bath that was completely selfless and humbling. What an amazing gift she has given me and my family. What an amazing gift!

From Dad's Point of View...

By Michael Mulvaney

It all began six weeks ago today. My wife woke me at 3:30 in the morning to tell me that she was having contractions. I got up and started to put together the birthing pool. An hour and a half later I had the midwife on the phone telling her I could see the baby's head. Shetold me to get some towels under my wife and be ready for the baby. I got the towels andput the phone down when my wife said he's coming. The baby slid out and I caught him and guided him onto the towels. My wife andI picked up our beautiful son. We watched him take his first breath as he opened his deep blue eyes to meet his mother and father for the first time. I feel a deeper spiritual connection with my wife, and a very deep spiritual connection to my son. I am so grateful for the experience that I have as a father. Every day since has been magical and full of joy. He is so wonderful. He really is the best of my wife and me. I know that there is much to come for me in fatherhood, and I am looking forward to all of it. I cherish every minute. Thank you, Nancy.

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Maya Cristina Rose's Birth Story

Born on July 29, 2008 at 6:30 PM
9 pounds 0 ounces

By Anneke Padolina

Maya’s birth Story

Today is July 29, 2008.  It is 5:45 am and everyone is still sleeping.  I’ve been having contractions since leaving Nancy’s yesterday.  They started to become regular around 1 pm yesterday, and they started to become ‘work’ around 10pm.  I was able to sleep – my contractions slowed down to every 45 min – 2 hours until 4 am, when they started back again every 10 min.  At 5:30 I went outside in the early, pre-dawn light and stood in a beautiful light rain.  Soon it will be light, the house will wake, and I will call Nancy…

By 6 am, my contractions were 5 minutes apart.  I called Nancy, who told me to call her every hour or so, or immediately if they dropped bellow 5 minutes.  At 6:30 I woke the house and began to get Liam ready to go to Maria’s.  My contractions started slowing down, but I expected they would pick up again after Liam had been taken care of.  Unfortunately, they just kept slowing down (although they stayed strong when they came).  Nancy told me there were natural waxes and wanes to labor.  By 11, they were only every half hour, and I was getting frustrated.  I took a nap.  At 12:30 I called Nancy and asked to come over to get checked.  I was pretty bummed at this point, thinking I wasn’t in labor – it was already 12 days past my due date.  My mom was in the kitchen making the groaning cake, to which I commented as I left the house, “I’m not groaning!”

When Nancy checked me, she was surprised to find that I was already at 5/6 cm dilated.  Maya’s head was at an angle and not pressed firmly to my cervix, causing the contractions to slow down.  Also, my bag of waters was directly against my cervix rather than Maya’s head.  Nancy said that with every contraction she could feel the whole thing bulging outward – but that it was too cushioning to be effective for dilating my cervix.  Nancy decided to follow me home; she said that as soon as my water broke, my baby would be here.

Nancy’s check and me getting out of the house started my contractions again.  Even before Nancy arrived my contractions were back to 5-7 minutes apart.  Gani began filling the tub, as Nancy requested, and once Nancy and Therese arrived they finished preparing the birthing space (my bedroom).  Nancy checked me again and I was already more dilated.  She said Maya’s head was in a better position and she stimulated my pressure points a bit more to speed things up a bit.  She had me walk the stairs and march through the back yard, “walk through the contractions!”  This was challenging, but Gani was walking with me, and it was actually kind of fun, tromping through the woods, groaning on Gani’s arm every 5 minutes or so.  Still, my waters did not break!

Once back inside, the tub was ready, and getting in was blissful.  My contractions stopped for a short period, and when they returned, they were not so painful.  Nancy and Therese were having fun taking the orchid flowers that I had around my room and floating them in the tub.  It was beautiful!  I labored on my hands and knees in the tub for a while, and then Nancy had me labor on my side.  Still, no waters broke.  After an hour, I had to get out of the tub.  We decided to break my waters, as I was doing a lot of work and not getting anywhere with that sac cushioning the contractions.  I was nervous about it, but it wasn’t so bad.  I worked though a few more intense contractions on my bed, and Nancy said there was a small lip of cervix blocking the way.  She moved this aside and I quickly shifted into the final 10 minutes of my labor.

I was helped back into the tub, and pushed Maya out leaning back in a squat, supported by Gani.  Her head was born, her body was born, and I was the first person to hold her in my arms.  She took her first breath and began to turn pink.  I delivered the placenta, and shortly after Nancy had Gani cut the cord.  She was so beautiful.  She looked a lot like Liam when he was new born.  I held her for a long time before we got out of the tub.  It was a perfect day.

I didn’t tear, I didn’t hemorrhage, and the postpartum period was much easier than it was after Liam was born.  I am so glad we chose to birth Maya at home.  It was a perfect day.

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Asase Ye Aseda Shabazz's Birth Story

Born on December 12, 2008 at 5:07 AM
6 pounds 12 ounces

By Adia Shabazz

When I finally sat down to write my birth experience Asase Ye Aseda Shabazz was already 3 weeks old.  The birth was the most awe inspiring, wonderful challenging, hardest and best work I've ever done inmy life.  25 hours of labor and pushing passed like a fog once she was in my arms, Kindu, Asase Ye and I started the process of getting her here here at 4am onDecember 11th, by noon the labor pains felt like menstrual cramps (which I had not had in 10 months!) By 4 and 5 o'clock Nancy and Joyce (my Doula) were with me.  From tub to shower, to birthing tub to bed, to couch to hallway and stairs we worked Asase Ye out.  Being at home was such a blessing, I got to eat (and throw that same food back up--Nancy isn't kidding when she says eat what you won't mind bringing back up!), I got to stay in my clothes, labor in my own comfortable environment,  and I got to be naked in my own home.  I got to give birth in a familiar sacred space.  I marveled at the blessing of laying in our bed looking at my husband, midwife and doula nap around me while I worked to deliver a child in the exact same place she was conceived.  It seemed like one extremely long session of lovemaking from conception to delivery.  The birthing pool was awesome, I don't know how Kindu and Nancy managed to keep it warm.  I surrendered during the most difficult stages of labor in the water.  Labor was exhausting and seemed never ending and in some spaces I wanted to put the entire event on pause, go to sleep and try again the next day.  Nancy and Joyce let me know that wasn't an option, that I couldn't be scared and that this is why it is called labor, or work.  And like the affirmations on my walls, they reminded me that many women before me have done the same thing.  It seemed endless even the pushing seemed futile when Kindu, Nancy and Joyce said, "We see hair!".  They are looking at a crowning and I'm looking at a belly that still seemed full with a baby' s bottom.  When our baby emerged, we still didn't know her sex and when Nancy let me pull her up onto my chest I pulled her legs open to see if we'd had a boy or girl.  We gave birth on a birthing stool next to our bed to a6 pound 12 ounce baby girl at 5:07 am on December 12th.  After the birth Nancy helped Asase Ye latch onto my breast (I was delirious, when I looked down she was nursing), Nancy and Kindu washed our sheets (I remember Nancy sniffing stating that they smelled like vomit--labor isn't glamorous, but it is beautiful).  Nancy made me this sitz bath that smelled so good I wish I could have poured soy milk on myself and swallowed it like chai tea.  The next day Kindu tagged the birthing tub with our daughter's name.  When Nancy came back the next day to check on me and the baby I'd fallen into the rhythm of becoming a parent.  If anyone is reading these birth stories weighing out your option of home birthing against other choices, I know this was the best and only option for our family.  I marvel then like I marvel now at the care and dedication given to me throughout the entire prenatal and postnatal process.  The love I was given helped me to give birth to the greatest love of my life.  From conception to delivery and beyond it has been a joy to welcome Asase Ye Aseda Shabazz. 

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Nuriel Bradi's Birth Story

By Claudia Thomas

Dear Nuriel,

Twelve days ago you were born. I still can't believe you are here. You're such a miracle baby to me. Your Papa went to Heaven just three weeks after we found out that you were coming to join us. I'm so glad he left me such a precious gift.

I believe that children choose their parents when they are still up in Heaven; before coming down to this Earth. You must have worked hard in getting your parents to meet. Papa lived in Christchurch, New Zealand & Mama here in America. But we did meet & loved each other so much.

Who knows when you were really due to arrive? Mama's cycle must have been all crazy & let's just say with your Papa visiting for 6 weeks over the Holidays, there was a whole lot of lovin' going on! August 24th was a date. September 2nd was another. Neither of them seemed the right day for you. September 13th came around & you still had not arrived.

I went to see Nancy, my very wise midwife, that day. I can not tell you what a blessing she was on this journey! She played around with my cervix a bit, "massaged" the membranes & told you that you were being served with an eviction notice - it was time to get out! My cervix was 2-3 cm, soft & squishy; ready to labor! I was supposed to come back the next day at 11:45 a.m. to drink that famous inducing cocktail that was hopefully going to get things started.

Your older brother, Noah, had left to go on a sailing trip that morning & your younger brother, Nathan, was scheduled to leave the next morning on a camping trip. I was sad that they wouldn't be around for your birth at home, but I trusted that the universe was bringing about things in the "right" way.

I left Nancy's, and on the way home I had quite a few contractions. She had told me that this was to be expected and that it would probably stop after a while. And she was right! It all faded away. I took the homeopathics that she had given me and drank lots of raspberry leaf tea. Nathan wanted us to make candied orange peels that evening. We did. And that's when the contractions picked up again. I didn't think much of it at first. I had thought once or twice before then that things were starting, but each time it was just my body getting a bit more ready, a kind of "false start." By 11:30 p.m I was pretty sure that something was happening though, and I called Nancy to let her know. She asked me if I wanted her to come, but I wasn't quite ready for that yet. She asked me to call back at 2:30 a.m.

I took your Papa's picture off the mantle and laid down on the futon that I had prepared in the living-room, his picture next to me. A few days after your Papa died, I had had a conversation with a spiritual teacher of mine, a very wise man. He told me that as your Papa was rising into spiritual realms, and you were descending from spiritual realms an opportunity was created for the two of you to meet. It was a beautiful picture to behold and often I talked to both of you. Sometimes I jokingly told your Papa to please tell you to sleep through the night at a young age & the funny thing is that you have been doing just that from the day you were born!

One day in the early months of being pregnant with you, I stood on the playground at school and looked up at the sun shining ever so brightly. Then & there I knew that your name would be Nuriel - Hebrew for 'Light of God' - I didn't really want to know if you were going to be a boy or a girl. When I went to have the ultrasound, the technician wasn't good at keeping secrets though & I was sure that I saw "it" on the screen. A boy!

Well, back to that night ... So, I was lying on the futon & I pictured you and your Papa saying good-bye to each other in the spiritual world. I felt sad about that, but I kept telling your Papa how I was so ready to meet you and I promised him to take good care of you! And your Papa's words, "It's all about the mind, baby," helped me breathe through the contractions. You see, when I had visited him in New Zealand last July, we had taken a trip to Maruia Springs. It was so nice in those hot pools! There was a very cold pool though & your Mama could barely stick her big toe in while your Papa would just walk into the cold, cold water as if it was nothin'. Yup, he sure did. He tried to get me to go in, too & that's when he told me, "It's all about the mind, baby!" It didn't work for me then, but his words gave me strength during the contractions.

There was really no change by 2:30 a.m, so when I called Nancy, she told me to call her back at 5:30 a.m. I actually managed to doze off a bit until at 4:30 I was woken by a rather strong contraction. There was a funny noise. I wondered if my water had broken & as I walked to the bathroom it was clear that indeed it did. I called Nancy & she arrived a little after 5 a.m. She told me that my body had done a lot of work. I was at about 5-6 cm dilated. There was plenty of water & it was all clear with some vernix. I was happy about that.

I took a shower and at 6 a.m. Nathan got up. He was all ready to go on the trip, but I could also tell that he was worried about seeing me in pain like that. During one of the contractions I remembered the bagels we had in the freezer for the students in his class. I'm glad I didn't forget or they wouldn't have had any breakfast! I told him that he might not want to tell his classmates that his mother packed the bagels half-naked while in labor or they might not want to eat them. Nancy had called Melissa & she came over just a few minutes before Nathan went on his trip. I had called Loretta in the evening & she had offered to give Nathan a ride to school. I was so thankful for that! The contractions were picking up and I felt I got to 8 cm pretty easily. Nancy suggested to get into the tub at this point, which I did. The warm water was nice. That's when Rachel arrived.

Rachel went to work in the kitchen, baking the Groaning Cake, which made the house smell all yummy. (A recipe can be found here, but Rachel used the original recipe from the book, which has significantly more molasses).

But things slowed down a bit with the labor. When it looked as if I was fully dilated, there was this lip on my cervix that wouldn't go away & you were trying to suck on your fingers, which isn't a good thing to do when it's time to be born! Every time it looked as if the lip had gone away, there it was again. I was getting frustrated and discouraged and I had a lot of back pain! I was also a bit scared. I was so worried that I could lose you, just like I had lost your Papa & I started crying. I was surrounded by the most loving & caring people, but I still missed you Papa so much! I knew he was present in spirit, but I wanted him to hold my hand! After more time in the birthing tub, I finally sat down on the birthing stool. Melissa sat behind me. I felt the need to grab things tightly. I leaned against her. She massaged my back. And slowly you were making your way down, passing that lip-thingy!

I think when Nancy felt your head, she thought that this must be the head of a very large baby. She told me to open my legs wide so there would be room for the shoulders, but I was tired and as I pushed, my leg wouldn't stay where I wanted it to be, so Rachel ended up holding it for me.

One of my "Oh please don't let this happen to me" things around your birth had been my fear of pooping in front of the people gathered. It's just not a girly thing to do, you know. Nancy had told me that pooping is a good sign - a sign that the baby is about to be born. I slowly came to accept poop as such, but still secretly wished poop would stay away. Well, poop did show up, but at that moment I welcomed poop - I knew you were going to be born soon! I kept pushing & I could feel you coming down, which you actually did sideways - you never turned like most babies do. And then your head was crowning and in that moment...

... well, in that very moment...

... the doorbell rang!

Thinking about it now, it was a very funny thing to happen, but I didn't really think it was funny at the moment. No one was available to get the door. I was sure that it was the mailman.

And then with your head still crowning, the door opened and someone came in.

I was totally freaked out. Would the mailman walk in on a birth? Of course that was a silly thought. Mailmen don't just open doors & come in. It was actually "Auntie" Ramona. She knew I was in labor & wanted to see if we needed anything. She had no clue that you were about to be born! Nancy told her to wait in the hallway for a moment.

And then there you were with the next push. Nancy placed you on my chest. I looked at you & all my worries went away! You were such a perfect baby! Ten fingers. Ten toes. Such a beautiful face. You smelled so good.

I just kept telling you how perfect you were - you my baby boy. And that's when I looked to make sure you were indeed a boy. I'm not sure why I did. I mean, I knew you were going to be a boy! And then I exclaimed,

"Oh my gosh! You are a girl!"

And that's how "Auntie" Ramona knew you had been born & she came in too!

A perfect baby you were and still are. 9 pounds on the dot & 21" long. Born at home just before noon.

And each & every day since you have been born, I have looked at Papa's picture on the mantle at least once and whispered, "Thank you!" He had to leave this world, but he left me you - the most precious and special gift he could have ever given me. 

I love you, Nuriel!

Our house, your house of birth, early in the morning - as Nancy arrived
In the birthing tub; Nancy is helping me breathe through the contractions
Your first pout - you were maybe a minute old!
This placenta is such a miracle! It nourished you for all these weeks
Yup, that's you in there!

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Arabella Rose's Birth Story

Born on March 22, 2008 at 10:45 PM
8 pounds 8 ounces

By Amy Whitehurst

The Birth of Arabella Rose
Twelve days overdue, I began to wonder if I was ever going to meet my second child. I had been induced with my son, two days after his EDD.   Who knows how much longer he would have stayed, given a choice. Considering the severity of his colic, my guess is more time would have been better. I tried to remember that as I read all of the new birth stories on my online due date club. It was down to me and one other woman, and we both had about had it. Day ten, I remember begging Nancy for the labor cocktail, "My body just may not know how to labor on it's own. It just so happens, I have a bottle of champagne in the car, I'll go get it and we can just mix it up right now." She smiled, shook her head and reminded me that my body knew exactly what to do. She also suggested I go see Dr. Anna Madland, for a chiropractic adjustment which could ease things along. After some tears, she convinced me that waiting was just what I needed, and just what my baby needed. Having a baby get to choose their birthday was something special, and she deserved to make that choice herself. The end was in sight, today was Thursday and if Monday I hadn't gone into labor, it was cocktail time. The bottle of Brut rolling around on my floorboard would have to wait a few more days.

Saturday, March 22, 2008, day twelve, was when I knew I was finally going to meet my baby girl. I woke up around three am, upset that once again, my water hadn't broken overnight. I had read so many birth stories where labors began in the middle of the night, I was sure that's what would happen to me. I went back to sleep and awoke around 8am, this time with some slight cramping. Could this be it? I had felt this cramping before, but it had been nothing. I didn't want to get my hopes up, so I called Nancy for confirmation and also to possibly get penciled-in. I asked her if she thought this was it, she said, "Amy, it's 12 days past your due date. I think, this is it." She definitely had a point. She told me to enjoy the day and check back with her around noon.

Davis and I took an hour or so to just enjoy this much awaited moment. We snuggled with Quinn, knowing his sister was going to join us very soon. Inspired by the video she lent us, called Birth Day. I saw my labor as a celebration and called my mom over to share in the excitement. We all hopped in the car and headed to Barnes and Noble. I wanted to get the Mel Barthomew book, Square Foot Gardening and wanted to thumb through it as I labored. As I was walking around the store, I felt something in my underwear. I had felt plenty of dampness in the undies, with little pay off, so I ran to the restroom to investigate. Bloody Show! Finally!!!!! All the times Nancy had told me to relax and trust my body, were paying off. I was in labor! I was cruising around Barnes and Noble in labor and enjoying every sensation.  We did some more walking and around noon, we all went home so my son Quinn (22months) could nap.

I laid down, too. The cramps were coming pretty steady, but nothing to write home about. I fell asleep and awoke an hour later with my first contraction! They were really picking up. I sat on the toilet and discovered I had lost my mucous plug. It basically had tentacles but I was thrilled to see it! I called Nancy to brag about it. She was excited for me and said she was enjoying her day with a friend, but she could come at any time. My contractions weren't very regular, yet, so she asked me to call her when they did. I lit candles, bounced on the ball, drank my tea and read my new book. A nice breeze was blew through the windows and I felt so peaceful and safe, in my own home.

At 4pm, I called Nancy to let her know things were picking up. My contractions were about five to seven minutes apart, but not completely regular. She said that she could come now, but I wanted to wait. She said I could call back in an hour, since that's what I had been doing.  I have a feeling she thought my continuous labor calls were a little nutty, but she went with it. This time I reported blood in my undies, which scared me since the first time with Quinn, I had him not long after. She reminded me that things happened much faster with Quinn because of the induction, and that everything was just right. About the fifth phone call to Nancy was the last, and occurred around 6:30pm. My contractions were regular and I could no longer talk through them. She and Therese were on their way.

7pm Nancy and Therese arrived and checked me at seven centimeters. Nancy suggested I walk up and down my steps if I wanted to kick things up a bit. I did, and it really brought on the contractions.  Around 8:30pm, I asked to get into the tub. I kept progressing.  It was strange that I was enjoying the water so much, since I didn't envision myself having a water birth. Around 9:30, my water broke in the tub. Nancy told me to back up in the tub, so I could get my legs more open. I fussed and complained, not wanting to move. Begrudgingly, I did it and started pushing.

For a moment, I remember laying my head against the tub, wondering if there was any way out of this.  Were there any other ways the baby could come out other than through my vagina.  Nope.  I made peace with that, and got my game face back on.  Bella began to crown and it was time. Nancy said, "Amy, reach down and take your baby." I had done it! I pulled Bella close to me, and gazed into her peaceful little eyes. She had chosen her birthday, even if she wasn't the Pisces I was planning on, she's the sweetest Aries I've ever met and perfect in every way.

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Jordan Rose's Birth Story

Born on January 25, 2009 at 9:15 AM
7 pounds 6 ounces

By Michela Worthington-Adams

Brian and I welcomed Jordan Rose into our lives at 0915 on January 25, 2009 in our home. She weighed 7 lb 6 oz and was 21 inches long. Since this was my first pregnancy, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect and wasn't even certain I would know when labor actually started. My midwife had been preparing me that it would at least 2 days since my body didn't appear to be "ready" to have the baby immediately. She also suggested that I try to ignore labor for as long as I could and it wouldn't seem as long. Well I took her advice to heart and ignored the first 12 hours, because I didn't even realize I was having contractions.

Around noon on Saturday, the 24th, I started to feel slight cramps. Since I had been feeling these periodically all week I just tuned them out. I even fit in a nice energetic walk in the afternoon. It wasn't until around midnight when I tried to go to sleep that they became uncomfortable and I realized that this must be it. I got up and took a shower to try to relax a bit. At this point, I wasn't really sure how long things would take and we still hadn't set up the birth pool. I went down and vacuumed our den, where the pool was to be set up. I didn't want our child coming into this world covered in dog hair even though she might end up covered in it at some point. That's just reality in our house! Once the den was clean, I tried to start setting up the pool. It was good to have something to do so I wasn't focusing on the pain. I was only able to get so far though because the pool was a bit challenging to maneuver with just me.

I think Brian and I had a bit of nervous energy going because neither one of us had yet slept by 3 am. By now the contractions were coming about every 5 minutes or so, so I called Nancy, our midwife, and told her about the progress. I had tried to wait as long as I could to call her so she could get some rest, but I was starting to worry about how long it was going to take to get the pool set up. She said not to worry; we had time for that later. She suggested that we try to get some rest, because who knew when we might get another opportunity. After making some suggestions to change my breathing, she told me to call her back when the contractions were 3 minutes apart and 1 minute in duration and had been happening like this for an hour.

Brian proceeded to bed upstairs with our dog Rembrandt, while I tried to rest in a rocking chair in the den with a nice fire going. Our other dog Rigel to kept me company. I rocked and counted seconds during the contractions and tried to sleep in between. Petting Rigel during some of the contractions helped distract me. All through these contractions I had a feeling similar to heartburn in addition to the crampy feeling. At around 5 am the contractions were coming at 3 minutes apart so I gave up on the rocking chair. I tried sitting on the birth ball, but it was rather uncomfortable. Ultimately, I ended up kneeling on the floor with my upper body bent over our couch and swaying from side to side. I continued like this until 6 am when I called Nancy again as directed.

With Nancy and her compatriot Therese on their way, I called to wake Brian up and get him started on the pool preparations. While he came downstairs to get started on the pool, I continued to breathe through the contractions and try to help him figure out how to set up the pool. At 0615 I had the sudden urge to throw up. As I tossed my proverbial cookies, I had my water break at the same time. This part wasn't glamorous, but at least I had gotten rid of that heartburn feeling.

I must interject here that if I had to do this over again I would have set the pool up earlier. I kept having visions of not having it set up in time and having to resort to having the baby on the couch or something. Brian's take on it is that it was good to have some reason for me to play "foreman" and give him directions. He thinks it distracted me from the contractions. Maybe it did, but it became rather difficult to speak with those contractions coming fast and furiously.

Nancy arrived at our home at 0645 and checked and found me to be 4 cm dilated. She had me shift positions and lie on my left side on the couch in an effort to get the baby shifted around a bit more. I have to say that this position was not all that comfortable, but it was what Captain Nancy directed. I considered myself lucky as I had heard of her making one woman run up and down the stairs 2 at time to get things moving.

While this was going on, Brian was trying to fill the birth pool with hot water. We were using the Aqua Doula, which has a heater that can maintain the heat, but can't heat the water more than it already is. This is where Brian got to be distracted from what was going on with me - Ha! Ha! While filling the pool, he used up all the hot water and had to resort to boiling water on the stove and heating it in his electric tea kettle. That kept him quite busy!

At around 0830 I moved into the birth pool and things really picked up speed for me. They had me lying on my left side again at first to continue to shift the baby. This position felt much more comfortable in the pool than on the couch. All of the positions in the pool felt better! Yay warm water! By a little before 9 am I was already dilated to 9 cm.

Now I have to add here that all along we had planned to have my friend Tracy, and my sister-in-law, Mel over to assist and observe at the birth. Mel is an excellent photographer and I had hoped that she could take some photos of the birth. Both of them are pregnant for the first time and I was hoping that this might give them some idea of what to expect. Well, since things were progressing so well with me without the audience, Nancy suggested that we wait until I was pushing to call them. Since they both live a few doors away, it wouldn't take them long to get here. She estimated that I would be pushing for at least an hour.

So when they figured I was dilated to 9cm they told Brian to call Mel and Tracy. 5 minutes later they told him to call them back and tell them to hurry because the baby was coming NOW! It was a good thing he called when he did for Mel at least. She had been contemplating breakfast and a shower and only got to our house just in time. Tracy missed the birth by 5 minutes. It turns out that it only took 3 pushes and about 15 minutes for Jordan to work her way out. She bashed me a bit with her head on the way out in her haste so I needed 3 stitches, but all in all the birth went swimmingly. When all was said and done we had a beautiful little girl on my belly, testing her lungs. It didn't hurt as much, or take nearly as long as I had expected. I only had to do the hard stuff between 0500 and 0915 and it was all over. I didn't even curse or swear once, even if I am a sailor! Brian was very proud of me.

Mel did manage to take some great photos, and she was crying the whole time while she was taking them. Therese got a great photo of that too! Now Mel has decided to have Nancy as the Midwife for her birth as well. She has already been warned not to expect her birth to go as quickly as mine did. Well, heck, I didn't expect mine to go that quickly either. There is something to be said for ignoring labor for as long as you can. Now we have an adorable and chirpy little daughter and the real challenge begins.

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Ruby Virginia's Birth Story

Born on March 17, 2007 at 4:05 PM
8 pounds 2 ounces

By Cary York

I had this thing about birds throughout the pregnancy. It started with the one high atop a cloud bank the day she was conceived. It floated there a tiny speck on the sky scape. I took it as a sign. Birds of all types followed me from that point on. It got to be a little comical. The morning Ruby was born I was on the phone with Nancy, no baby yet, no sign of labor, just another day, and then a little chickadee started going crazy outside the window. It crashed into the window panes and fluttered its wings against the sill. I had to interrupt Nancy to tell her. "You won't believe this but......" We had a chuckle, as this was not the first bird episode she had been witness to. I got off the phone, got dressed, and realized I was having "show, with mild persistentwaves every 3 minutes." I called her back. I took Gracie to Katie's, and was slow dancing in herhallway dipping into occasional squats. Yep at last she is coming. I called my husband home, Nancy and Therese arrived shortly after. It was St Patrick's Day.I felt so lucky! I laughed through most of my active labor, did some polar bear, used Marty as a tree and swung from him, got in the birth tub painted up with birds and waves and mountains. I transitioned when Nancy told me to talk to my baby. I told her she could come and she did. Therese was chanting a transition chant for me, "Want it to come faster, want it to go deeper". She rounded the corner and the pushes were like no power I had ever felt before, completely involuntary and like giant waves. I got on top of them and I heard Nancy say "this is it! This is CaryGiving Birth!" Everything went white in my mind; there was no thought, only white. I heard her say "ok the head is out" I could feel herhead inmy hands, withthe next wave we cleared her shoulders and I lifted her up out ofthe water. I sucked on her mouth and nose abit toclear it. It seemed like the most normal thing to do. Nancy thought it was great that I was so primal. She said "see that little bird was telling you she was coming." It was amazing the whole thing took only 4 hours. Being at home was such a relief. Once I was done, I was done, there was no where to go, no forms to fill out, no intrusion by staff. Just us. I lived in a pink cloud for over a week. The cloud has never really left me. Nor have the birds.

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