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Tag Archives: homebirth stories

Avery {Birth Stories}

This birth took place on July 21, 2008 and I have been given permission to share the story and pictures.  It was the 2nd breech birth I photographed, 1st in the frank breech position. 

The Birth of Avery Naoma

“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”

1 Samuel 1:27

Saturday & Sunday, July 19-20:

Barry and I had the most fun the weekend before Avery’s birth. We spent all Saturday at the mall shopping, we saw a movie and ate out for dinner. Sunday was full of relaxing and pool time. I think I knew it would be our last weekend together before Avery’s birth…so I wanted us to do all the things we loved doing together. I remember specifically walking into JCPenney to start our weekend fun and talking to my doula and friend, Lesley. I told her about some of the little changes I had noticed in the last day and told her I thought we were moving in the right direction. We were.

Monday, July 21:

4:30AM: I wake up having contractions. I try to ignore them and go back to sleep but I can’t. I hang out in bed waiting for Barry’s alarm to sound about 5:00AM. He gets up and showers for work while I move to the couch and watch the news. I tell him that I’m having regular contractions but they aren’t lasting very long so he left for work as usual. I try to go back to bed and fail. I shower instead and hang out.

8:00AM: I call my doula Lesley and we chat. We decide it is early labor. She tells me to rest, eat, bathe and just store up some energy. I prepare mentally for a very long labor. It is my first baby so honestly, I expect to be miserable. I call “my peeps” and put them on alert. I say “Something is happening but it could be a couple of days before we have a baby.” (My mom would later tell me that she had a feeling I was progressing faster than I thought.)

10:00AM: I watch “The View” and bounce around on my birth ball. I don’t like it so I get off. My contractions are rather uncomfortable and coming every 3-5 minutes, but they still aren’t lasting more than 40 seconds. I call my midwife Ann and give her the scoop. She tells me to rest, eat, bathe and just store up energy.

10:30AM: I make an breakfast burrito and drink a Coke. I have to bury my face in the towel on the kitchen counter during contractions. When it passes, I resume cooking my eggs. I’m having a harder time concentrating.

Noon: I call my midwife again. We chat for a minute and she asks “Have you had a contraction while we’ve been on the phone?” and I answer “Yeah, like 3. Why?” She tells me to keep trying to get some rest. I call Barry and tell him to come home around 1PM. I need a little company or help or something because my “early labor” is kinda hurting. I get in the bath after I hang up with Barry. What a mess! I am 10 times bigger than my shallow apartment tub. My contractions get worse while I’m sitting on my bottom. I say “this is ridiculous” to myself and get out.

1:30PM: I get into bed and try to rest as instructed. Not really working, but I try. Resting, resting, resting. VERY LOUD POP! Warm amniotic fluid is everywhere. I stand up and realize that the fluid isn’t clear and thick, black meconium is running down my legs. I call my midwife immediately and tell her the news. She suggests her apprentice come to my house and assess the situation. I am concerned. A little meconium is alright, but this is too much. I call Barry and tell him to come home immediately.

2:00PM: Barry is home and getting everything ready for the birth. The contractions are hard. I can talk to Barry but only in short sentences. He calls Lesley and updates her. I tell them I’m fine. Don’t need her help yet.

2:15PM: Something changes with my labor and Barry calls Lesley to come right away but no answer. (Her phone never rang and she gets his message an hour later! Darn cell phones.) He calls his mom and my aunt Jules and tells them to hop on the plane and come right away. They are in Amarillo and will be using a private plane to get to the birth.

3:02PM: Cindy, the apprentice and my chiropractor, arrives. I am no longer interested in chatting and the contractions are just flat hard now. She puts me on the bed and does a vaginal exam. She tells me that I’m complete and leaves the room. I think it’s weird that she took off, but I’m too busy birthing to care.

3:05PM: Lesley gets our message and calls Barry. He tries to tell her what he knows but is a bit overwhelmed with information so he hands the phone to Cindy. (While I was busy in my room laboring, Cindy tells Lesley that I’m not only completely dilated and a +2 station, but she is pretty sure the baby is frank breech.) Lesley runs out the door. My midwife Ann is speeding our way too. Cindy decides to wait for Ann to confirm the baby’s position before she tells me, so she gets on the bed and holds my hands during contractions.

3:30PM: Ann arrives out of breath and checks me. She says “Whittney, your baby is breech.” She immediately tells us our options. We can transport to the hospital or stay home. In between contractions, I say “If we go to the hospital, they’ll section me, right?” She says yes. She tells us the risks of breech birth at our house. I don’t know what to do and honestly I was too busy birthing to think clearly. Barry and Ann chat behind me. I hear “have her in the car” and “she doesn’t want to be at the hospital.” Everyone is waiting for Barry…..he says “We’re staying home.” (My hero forever.)

3:35PM: The birth team jumps to action. Cindy is still holding my hands. Barry and Ann are behind me. Abby, another apprentice is either taking notes or checking baby’s heart tones. Someone is getting the oxygen tank from the car. I have been coached to resist the urge to push and let the baby come on her own. I’m busy yelling and blowing into the bed to fight the freight train-like urge coming every minute. Donna Miller, a very wise midwife and Ann’s teacher, arrives to help. Barry stands behind me and rubs my back. I am standing at the end of the bed with my face buried in the sheets.

3:50PM: Lesley arrives and takes over holding my hands. Cindy is now sitting right under me checking the baby’s heart tones very regularly. They are perfect in the 130-145 range. I am annoyed with the checking of heart tones so often. I snap at Cindy about it and she snaps back about it being necessary. (HA!)

4:00PM: Praise the Lord Barry remembered I had put our birth photographer Lynsey’s number on the fridge. He had called her. She arrives and starts snapping away.

4:30PM: I feel focused and frustrated that I can’t push. I yell. I blow. I blow. I yell. I hear everyone around me. I remember all of a sudden that I’m not having a “normal” birth. I say “You guys, I’m kinda freaking out here that she is breech!” Everyone offers encouragement. Baby’s heart tones are fine. She is descending well. My hair is wet and sticking to my face. They ask if I want to put it up. “No!” They make me take some sips of water.

4:38PM: Baby’s little bottom can be seen. I ask Ann to tell me how much of her they can see. Side effect of Type A personality. I want to know everything.

5:00PM: I’m getting a little hacked off about the no pushing rule. Lesley offers me encouragement as I squeeze her hands hard enough to cut off the circulation. Barry’s mom and my aunt Jules land at the Arlington airport. Julie calls Barry to say they’ve landed and get the update. He tells her he can see the baby’s bottom. She decides he is nervous and obviously doesn’t know the difference between a bottom and a head. (Another HA!) Miraculously, their rental car is ready and waiting. They speed toward our apartment in North Arlington.

5:13PM: Ann tells me I can push a tiny bit during the contractions. Lesley reminds my birth team that Barry would like to catch the baby. They say he can and he gets ready.


5:23PM: Ann tells us that the baby might be a bit stunned and quiet after she is born. They plan to suction her really well to prevent any inhalation of heavy meconium. (We know now that the meconium was not because she was stressed, but because her little bottom was being squished in the birth canal!)

5:39PM: The baby’s bottom is crowning and Julie and Barry’s mom arrive. I can see their brightly colored toes and flip flops out of the corner of my eye. I think “Oh, glad they made it.” (Lesley would later tell me that Julie’s face was priceless. They still thought Barry was losing his mind and only realized he really DID see a bottom when they walked into my bedroom and saw it up close and personal. She wanted to put my hair up too. It was driving her nuts. Triple HA!) Julie is on the phone with my Mom and tells her the scoop. She couldn’t be there because she was 37 weeks pregnant with my little brother Samuel! Barry, Ann & Donna get into place behind me. They are going to coach Barry and he will catch his little beebs.

5:44PM: Baby’s feet are out and the pressure is insane. I am done. I must end this. My birth team starts yelling at me to “Push, Push!” It is odd….all this time I’m not supposed to push and now that her body is out, I have to hurry and push her head out. Fast!


5:46PM: Sweet Avery Naoma is born into her Daddy’s hands. Ann immediately inserts the suction tube before she has time to breathe or cry. Barry is holding her smiling while she is suctioned. I am trying to catch my breath and still have my face buried in the sheets. As much as I want to see her, I need just a few seconds to adjust. I hear Lesley above me reassuring Julie and Barry’s mom that she is still attached to the cord so it is fine that she isn’t breathing yet. Ann tells me to take her and talk to her. They pass her up to me and we meet. She is breathing just fine.


6:00PM: We spend the next couple of hours taking an herbal bath, nursing and doing the newborn exam. Avery weighs 6 pounds, 13 ounces and is 20 inches long. Her legs keep bouncing up to her head and look bizarre! Cindy adjusts her for the first time to get her into alignment after her unusual birth. Julie goes to get Schlotzsky’s and I recruit Lesley to send an email to everyone announcing the birth.


9:30PM: The birth team is gone. I am on an adrenaline high and can’t sleep. Avery’s birth wasn’t what I planned, but it was perfect in every way.

Lynsey S.

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End of the year ramblings & being published!

Hmmm, what should I say about 2010…  This has been the busiest year I have ever had!  I photographed over 50 births and again was lucky enough to have seen a very wide variety of deliveries.  A few experiences that quickly come to mind are…

*The beautiful home waterbirth in Feb where I literally walked into the bedroom and as I was getting my bearings the midwife looked at me, pointed down and said “head.”  Shocker!   This mom proceeded to sing Hallelujah as her baby was born and upon realizing that they had a daughter the entire room broke out into the loudest, most joyful cries, cheers and laughter I have ever heard!  It still gives me chills to think about.  The room was ALIVE with extreme happiness!

*The homebirths of twin boys in March.  These births are especially memorable because I was actually with this clients doula when we got “the call” from the midwife who strongly urged me to get to their house ASAP.  I ended up going on a very exhilerating wild goose chase across town with the doula who knew the area much better than I did.  I won’t give many more details about this exciting drive except to mention that we did get stuck in traffic because of a train at one point and the doula actually got out of her vehicle to ask another car to move so we could take a detour.  🙂  Luckily we made it before the 1st baby was born and that’s when we received the next surprise ~ he was born breech AND in the caul!  It was very different from anything I had seen before!  One other amazing thing about this was that this mama went all the way to her due date before delivering, whereas it seems most twins moms deliver well before their EDDs…

*The Alice in Wonderland themed VBA*3*C in June!  Woohoo!  Go mama go!

*The 24 hr period in July where I photographed 3 births – well, tried to at least!  Everything was going perfectly, even with so much going on, until it started to rain.  The MW and I were called from one birth to another and only left within minutes of each other, but I slowed down in the rain.  As I pulled up to the house and was running up the driveway the baby was born.  I then opened the front door and in my hurry tripped over the bags of “birth stuff” that were thrown down in the doorway as the MW raced inside minutes prior.  I missed it by about 2 minutes from what I was told.  🙁 

*The funny week in August when I kept going to bed thinking I would be woken in the night by one particular client and I was woken several nights in a row for births, but never by who I thought it would be. 

*The couple of times I was able to go into the NICU with clients and photograph the babies during their hospital stays.  Just walking down the NICU halls was a very humbling experience for me and has made me very interested in doing more work there in the future.

*The sneaky little girl in November who didn’t let anyone know she was breech until we arrived at the hospital and she was already trying to make her appearance! 

*The absolutely amazing home waterbirth (and VBAC) in November!  I was particularly happy at this delivery because when this mom originally contacted me she was planning a VBAC at a hospital that isn’t very supportive of them, but made the switch after receiving a bit of info and referrals.  I was so impressed with her!  It takes a lot of strength to make so many changes in such a short time period. 

*The surrogate pregnancy/birth in December.  This was an incredibly emotional delivery to be a part of, I can’t even express what it means to me to have had this opportunity.  Several moments that stand out from this are when I met the two ladies for the first time we were laughing because one of them didn’t have her hospital bag packed, her call list written out or anything else ready for the birth, while the other had done everything months and months prior.  The fully prepared one, of course, had been waiting to write out that call list for 6.5 years… and then after the birth when baby was in the nursery the mom told me how when they first started trying to conceive she had went shopping and found a pink onesie that said “Worth the Wait” but she wasn’t able to find a blue one with the same quote that day or at any other time.  She kept it for all of those years and had brought it to the hospital to be her new little ones first outfit ~ whether girl OR boy.  🙂  She was blessed with a DAUGHTER. 

A few other random notes from the past year…

*I was thrilled to death to have a ton of repeat clients this year! 

*I was even more thrilled to have a birth on my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I have been holding out hope for a New Years Eve baby as well, but it doesn’t look like it is going to happen at this point.  🙂 

*I got some awesome underwater baby shots this year ~ I am *really* proud of these!  To see a couple of them you can look in the January, July and August archives.

*I learned during the year that a certain midwife, a certain doula and I are totally a winning combination!  ;-D  I love and adore working with these ladies! 

*The All About Babies Birth Center opened this Fall and I am the official photographer!  I’m still trying to talk one of the MWs husbands into putting in a coke machine and cotton candy cart for me, but so far no dice…  Hey, I’m there enough, might as well make it feel like home!

Probably the biggest and most exciting news I have from this year though is that I was published for the 1st time!  One of my pictures was on the cover of the Winter 2010 waterbirth themed edition of Midwifery Today and I had 2 pictures inside the magazine as well.  I am just over the moon about this for several reasons…  I thought it was super cool that I got the cover of this particular issue since I have had 2 waterbirths myself and I was *ecstatic* with the picture they chose.  I was *so* happy to tell this mom the big news when I found out!  The picture was from her very much desired homebirth ~ she went through a LOT to get the birth she wanted.  A very premature baby with her previous pregnancy thwarted her 1st homebirth hopes and then preterm labor with this pregnancy threatened her plans again, but after spending weeks in the hospital on bedrest she was finally released to go home and give birth with her midwife, Sarah Jones!  What an incredible victory that was, I am so proud of her!  Anyways, I was also lucky enough to have some of my work chosen for the book “Paths to Becoming a Midwife,” but I don’t have pictures of those, as I haven’t received my own copy yet.



On this note I want to mention that I have been aware for a while now that some of my readers have tried harder than others to get my website and my work publicity and for that I want to say a big thank you.  I am not sure that I would have gotten the cover otherwise ~ you never know how people will end up finding you…  It is a funny world we live in, isn’t it?

Moving on from that now… 

I am so grateful for my clients, my friends and the MWs and doulas that are kind enough to pass along my info.  I am not hoping for 2011 to be even more busy than this year was, because I am not sure I could do it, but I am very happy with the pace I’m at currently.  I have many goals for this next year including not freaking out when I am faced with a less than ideal birth photography situation (ex: being in a small room in complete darkness with 173 other people also trying participate in the birth while I am either sitting in a sink, standing in a shower or balancing on some sort of wobbly ledge or stool and still trying to get portrait quality pictures, then kicking myself if I can’t and crying to my friends afterward “I got NOTHING!”)  I would also love to photograph more VBACs, more cesareans (yes, a cesarean makes a beautiful picture as well) and more surrogate births.   

I think I have rambled on enough so will finally go ahead and end this after saying that for the New Year I am praying Gods greatest protection and peace over those who are dear to me, and for anything broken in 2010, lots of superglue and duct tape.  I know there are many that this year has been hard on.

With love,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you & not to harm you, plans to give you hope & a future.”   Jer 29:11

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world.”   ~ Max Ehrmann

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Phoenix {Birth Stories}

I have wanted to start posting a client birth story every so often for quite a while now and am finally just now getting the 1st up…   Enjoy ~ it’s a GREAT one!

The Birth of Phoenix.  April 14, 2009

11:30pm- Gosh I can’t get comfortable. My hips are killing me and everything hurts. I just want to have this baby.

11:40pm- Maybe I’ll try some nipple stimulation to see if I can trigger something. Yeah, that’s working!

12am- I’ll get up to empty my bladder to see if that slows things down. Contractions still coming, guess I’ll move to the couch to try and get more comfortable because this bed is just not cutting it.

12:20am- Contractions are coming every 6min like clock work. Yay, a pattern is forming. This is a good sign. I tell my baby we are going to have a safe and gentle birth and that today is a very special day.

1:30am- These are getting stronger, I think I’ll get a heated rice sock. I use the restroom and there’s light bloody show. I’m getting excited now! I think today is going to be the day. I can’t believe it’s on the 14th. That’s the day I predicted from the beginning. Oh, I’m so happy he’s going to share my grandfather’s birthday. I’ll light some candles and put on some music. I’m going to make the most of this day and enjoy every minute.

2:23am- Ok, they are getting closer together. I should check to see what’s going on. I check and my cervix is like butter, 4cm open, and completely effaced. Wow! I call Ann to tell her to pray for us today. She’s still awake and I feel at peace after talking to her. Then I go upstairs to tell Cody I’m in labor but I let him sleep some more because I’m loving the solitude right now. Next I call Lynsey, my birth photographer, because I know it will take her some time to get here. Ok, all that’s done, I think I should go ahead and fill the tub. Now it’s back to business. I walk around, sit on the ball, go up and down the stairs, and do some more nipple stimulation.

3:15am- Things are really moving along. I think it’s time to have my love join me. I go wake him up and have him get dressed. He comes down and makes some coffee and jumps right into the swing of things. The mood is light and fun. We joke and laugh together. I feel like I’m hanging out with my best friend sharing a beautiful moment in time. He keeps reheating the rice sock and makes sure I’m supported through each contraction. I love him so much. I feel safe and confident with him near.

3:58am- I have him call my doula to give her a heads up.

4:10am- Lynsey arrives and I’m so happy she’s here! She blends right in and I feel great. I tell her I love this dynamic of just me, Cody, and her. I ask if she’s comfortable with being the only one here. She says yes and so I press forward.


5:30am- Things feel more intense. I tell Cody I need to look at him through the contractions. He asks what he should do. I tell him  “Nothing.  Just look normal and do something.”  hehehe!   Lynsey is very amused by this comment. I think I should check to see what’s going on. It’s hard to tell for sure. My cervix is very open, I think about 7cm maybe. I’m starting to shake, feel nauseous, and showing other signs of transition approaching, so I say it’s time to wake Juliet and get in the water. She comes down and puts her bathing suit on and jumps right in. It brings me so much joy to have her near!  I love her. Cody, Juliet, and I are all in the pool now.  I feel crowded so Cody and Juliet get out. Cody starts to fan me and I’m pretty sure I’ve never felt anything so good in my life.  Juliet gets in and out and helps me by giving me water, fanning me, and holding my hand. I love having a daughter!  This is just as I had pictured this day to be.  I’m loving every minute of it! I look around and notice I’m in the very spot where many of my dearest friends and my family laid hands on me and my belly to pray for this day. I realize that all their prayers were being answered. “Thank you Lord!”


6am- My doula texts that she is up and on her way. I ask someone to text Ann to let her know transition is near or hear. Cody says “Really? I didn’t think we had gotten started yet!” Very funny. I still haven’t lost my since of humor.

7:45am- I still have a left anterior lip and feel pushy. I don’t want to push past it because I’m worried about making it swell and it hurting. I also am hoping I won’t have to actively push like with my last delivery where he literally just fell out without any effort.

8am- I get out of the water because I’m holding back to much. I want to push on the toilet so I can just let go. Baby is still only about a 0 station and I’m still not wanting to push. I feel like I’m at that rock and hard place. I’m feeling frustrated that I’m fearful! I don’t want to fight it but I don’t want to push.  I’m leaning against Cody and I know every thing is going to be fine. I resolve to move to the couch finally. One contraction on my hands and knees and I don’t like it at all. So I move to the floor- squatting against the couch.

8:10am- I can feel him moving down and I’m only pushing a little. His head is starting to peak through. Cody is putting warm compresses on my perineum and they feel great! My doula is warming them up and keeping them coming. Man that is my saving grace!

8:16am- I’m really pushing now with all my might. My bag of water pops with a big bang. Cody and Juliet are startled. Cody is trembling. Birth is near. You can feel the energy fill the air. Excitement and fear and every thing in-between! I’m focused and intense. I’m not holding back and I know he will be here soon. The next contraction I know he is on his way out. I tell everyone he is coming. I start to instruct myself aloud on what to do at the top of my lungs, “Stretch, Blow, Push, No, Stretch, Please Stretch!” I reach down as his head crowns to support my perineum- I scream “Please Stretch!”

8:23am- His head delivers. I hold his head in my hand and am overcome. My body tingles with joy. Cody calmly says there’s a cord and I reach down to reduce it and he helps me gently pull it over his head. I begin to scream “I LOVE YOU BABY!!” over and over again as his body delivers. I can’t stop myself from saying it. I’m so overjoyed. I feel like a lion roaring these words. I feel ferocious and strong. I feel beautiful and powerful. I feel completely conscious and primitive. He is born into mine and Cody’s eager hands and I bring him to me. There are no words…..the perfect birth! Thank You God!


This was one of my absolute favorite births to photograph because it was so unique, being the only unassisted birth I have ever had the pleasure of attending.  If you are interested in sharing your birth story on the blog please email me, and as always, don’t forget to find me on Facebook!

Lynsey S.


Childbirth Without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth by Grantly Dick-Read

In an age where birth has often been overtaken by obstetrics, Dr Dick-Read’s philosophy is still as fresh and relevant as it was when he originally wrote this book. He unpicks every possible root cause of western woman’s fear and anxiety in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding and does so with overwhelming heart and empathy. Essential reading for all parents-to-be, childbirth educators, midwives and obstetricians!     See more about this book at or


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