The Day She Was Born

At first I wasn't sure if I wanted to write about my daughter's birth. I didn't take many pictures while I was pregnant. I didn't want video of the birth. I wasn't even sure if I wanted pictures of the delivery.

Pregnancy is such a vulnerable experience. I loved being pregnant but I felt like seeing pictures of what I looked like at that time could never come close to capturing how peaceful, excited, and anticipatory I felt inside.

In hindsight, I have some regrets. I wish I had taken more pictures of that darling, growing bump. I wish I had video of my birth so I could, if not see what I acted like, at least hear my labor song. I am so glad that I at least decided to have pictures taken. (Thank you so much, Diana!)

Ah well.

Before I regret anything more, or forget any more details, I am going to record my experience of Little Owl's birth.

May 29th

Woke up with contractions around seven that morning. They were stronger than I had felt before but my due date was still a week out and it was my first birth so most likely I was (according to the average) at least two weeks out from labor.

I was excited. I had a relaxed morning planned--shopping, my favorite farmer's market, reading Harry Potter, just taking it easy until I had to go in that afternoon for what was supposed to be my bittersweet last day of work.

Got up, got dressed, went about my day. Went to the farmers market, had trouble parking. I thought something might be different because this really made me angry. I found myself being very irritable in my head with anyone who was around me. Went grocery shopping and without even thinking about it when a kind gentleman asked me something like "when's the baby coming?" I answered "Today". Feeling very uncomfortable he mumbled something like "Oh, that's nice" and proceeded to walk quickly away.

I decided maybe I needed to take a chill pill so I didn't snap at any more well meaning people (particularly before I had to serve people at work). I stopped at a coffee shop where I could sit in the sun and read--hanging out, just me and Harry Potter. Or at least that's what I wanted.

I must have had a look of desperation or the like on my face because everyone wanted to be my best friend that day. That's one of the wonderful, yet sometimes annoying, things about being pregnant. Everyone becomes excited for you and wants to talk to you. Having had so much fun with the last response I got from the guy at the grocery store, when anyone asked me when the baby was coming I answered "today". (Interestingy enough people didn't ask when I was due... all of them asked "when is the baby coming?").

But despite my interruptions I really enjoyed sitting in the sun, reading, and sipping herbal tea. It dawned on me that this might be the last time for a very long time when I would get to do something like this. Maybe, after all, the baby really was coming today.

Went home to get ready for work. The contractions became stronger. They were about every ten-fifteen minutes apart. I decided maybe it would't be a good idea to go into work afterall. Just in case. Texted my boss, saying "not sure if this is it or not but I don't think I should come in today". Her response? "!!!"

Continued to read Harry Potter with much enjoyment.

My midwife, Colleen, happened to call me (don't remember about what now) and after our brief conversation I told her "Just to give you a heads up, I've been having contractions since around seven this morning." It was now around twelve. She said "Great, ok, well give me a call anytime you want to come check on you. Otherwise we will check in around five". We didn't make it that far.

The contractions began to get stronger and closer together. I called my husband who was at school to see if he could pick up the birthing tub. (Just in case, you know-- I still didn't believe it would happen that day). He came home and I was planning on having him go back to school. By the time he arrived I said "I think maybe you should stay".

At this point I had to put dear Harry down. Everything from this point on is a bit of blur. I remember walking outside and being (for the first time) overwhelmed by a contraction. I told Brian, "Can you call Colleen to come check on me?"

When Colleen arrived I remember I was at the edge of my bed, moaning. I remember her saying "I'm going to call my assistant". The tone in her voice.  I knew it was time. The intensity of the contractions. This was it. The moment that I had been waiting for. Nine months of anticipation, wondering, worrying, reading, researching, exercising, eating well. This was it. The end. The beginning.

They filled up the tub. I got in.

The water felt comforting. Warm. I liked the pressure around my body. The contractions felt like work. Hard work. I guess that;s why they call it labor. I was making sounds I hadn't learned or even heard before but they were working. I needed to make them. I could't not make them. (Weeks after the labor Brian told me I was "SO loud" he felt his ears were going to break.)

I remember I didn't want anyone touching me during the contractions. I needed Brian there beside me. But that was it. No touching. Touching made me think about things outside my body. I couldn't. I needed to believe that the only things that existed in the universe at that moment were me, my body and this hard, hard work. 

I don't have any idea how long I was in the water for. I remember feeling an intense change inside and hearing my voice respond. I think I whispered something like "I feel like pushing, is that ok?" to my midwife. I couldn't believe it. It didn't seem right. It hadn't even been that long. She said that if my body was telling me to push I should push. A little later I remember hearing her say "It's ok, Jackie. Breathe." She knew me so well. She didn't say much but she knew exactly what to say and when and how to say it. She knew that I needed permission to go slower than my body was cue-ing. And my body was cue-ing fast

She asked if I wanted to move from the tub. She helped me into the bathroom and I sat on the toilet. I remember this overwhelming need to be alone. I asked for everyone to leave besides the midwives and Brian (my mom and best friend had been in the room as well).

It burned. (This couldn't be crowning?? Already?). Colleen asked if I thought my water had broken. I didn't know. She thought it had. I told her it burned. Colleen knew if she didn't move me that my baby was going to be born into the toilet. I don't know how I moved onto the birthing stool but I did. I do know I couldn't have done it without her.

I heard Colleen say she could see the babies head. I could not believe it. I had thought before the labor about wanting to catch my own baby or at least having Brian catch it but at that moment all I could do was tell my self to calm down. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. 

My baby was born at 6:17. 

May 29th, 2012 

A beautiful baby girl- Athena Mae

Strong, beautiful, vibrant, aware. 

8 lbs. 6 oz. 

And I will never be the same. 

My labor was fast. Around 2.5 hours active labor with 20 minutes of pushing. Very fast for a primigravida with no tearing. If it weren't for the presence of my midwife it would have been too fast. My mind would not have been able to catch up with my body. 

I loved giving birth. I loved giving birth with a midwife. I loved giving birth at home. It was the most wonderful thing in the world to snuggle into bed moments after with my fresh baby girl and my wonderful husband. Life will never be the same.


  1. I LOVE the stories and the pictures. Thank you for sharing Jackie! :)

    1. Thank you for inspiring me to look into having a home-birth!

  2. Ahh... loved this. I did mine in the hospital, but otherwise, it was like this. Natural, birth tub, midwife. I have lots of pictures, but couldn't be bothered to put on a top, so I can't show them as freely as I'd like. :) Maybe I'll go back in and insert some censor bars.

    ha @ chicken salad for thirty dollars.

    If I do it again, I'll really try for a homebirth, now that my family knows I'm capable of natural birth without injury to myself or my baby. (none of them believed it was possible, I don't think.)

    Oh, and when Lucas was still only a few months old, I stood in the Toys R Us and cried when I read On The Night You Were Born. haha. "WIGGLE YOUR TOES!" AAAHHH!! Gets me every time. :)

    1. Thanks so much, Kinzie! Glad you stopped in! "Oh, and when Lucas was still only a few months old, I stood in the Toys R Us and cried when I read On The Night You Were Born" LOVE. IT. Can Definitely relate. There were times in that first month where I would just be SOBBING and Brian would ask "what's wrong?" "Nothing. I'm just SO HAPPY." :)

    2. So, okay... the first few days we were home, I'm sitting on the couch with baby, watching TV. (side note: I left it on FoodTV my entire 8 week maternity leave...) A Disney commercial came on. My thoughts went rapidly like this: "huh, it'll be fun to take Lucas there when he's around five... OHMYGOD, HE'S GOING TO BE FIVE!!" *cries* My husband looked over at me, shook his head, and said "You're a MESS." haha! Those hormones are no joke! (And I was taking placenta capsules every day!)

    3. Love. IT. Perfect example. :) Thanks for sharing. Too funny.

  3. p.s. - any idea why these would be showing as broken links? I can only see the top photo.

    1. No idea... it's showing up for me! Maybe check back later.

  4. I loved your birth story it sounds very similar to how mine went as well, so intense and beautiful. Congratulations.


    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! <3 Glad to know your story, too.

  5. Oh wow. Love your story. Love that there are still young brave women wanting to embrace birth and not fight it.

    My first HB (son #2) was a VBAC after a hospital induced nightmare for son #1. I was crunchy like you back in the early 90s when son #2 was born at home with a midwife. It was a life altering experience.

    My next preg was no HB, but a HB in the hosp was arranged after much fighting and threatening. I suppose nowadays if a pregnant mother threatened to go give birth in the woods alone, she'd be locked up...I had an old Irish OB-gyn take pity on me and let me birth my twins standing up with midwives present, and we vacated the hosp after 2 hours. It was so exhausting to fight for every little thing that should have been my right to choose as a woman.

    Son #5 was a HB with very minimal attention from a midwife who traveled very far to help me. I would have gone un-assisted if she couldn't have made it. His 4 older brothers watched his birth, with me standing up and their dad catching the new arrival.

    My 5 sons all in their 20s now, except #5 who is 13. I have videos of every birth, even the hospital nightmare, which is worse than a horror show b/c the Drs didn't know they were being videoed half the was on a tripod in the corner just recording away..1989.

    Take pics of your next one, and video too. You can always destroy it if you don't like it. My sons all want to see their birth videos which are still on fragile VHS tapes and need to be professionally transferred to digital format.

    Thank you for carrying on the tradition of strong thinking women who don't just cop out and take the path of least resistance. It's a tough fight, and doesn't really get any easier, but your children will thank you when they grow up, and what in life is better than that?

    Peace and blessings,

    1. Oh, Kotoula! Thank you thank you thank you so much for sharing. Your comment/story made me tear up. It is such a beautiful/wonderful thing about the internet these days... that we can share/learn from others.

      "I suppose nowadays if a pregnant mother threatened to go give birth in the woods alone, she'd be locked up..." Unassisted births are rare these days, but they do happen. I could see myself having one some day down the road... I would love to have a big family like you do.

      I will take pic/video of my next one. Definitely! Now that I know what I know.

      Thanks again so much for sharing! Hope you have a great week.


    2. I had to laugh when you shared how loud you got. I never like to listen or watch the videos later because I don't want to listen to the intensity. :) In the moment, it doesn't matter because I am so focused, but later....(haha)...I birthed 4 at the hospital because insurance covered those 100%, but my fifth one was born at home in the birthing tub. Wow - what a difference. For the first time I didn't feel burning or later hurt from recovery and I think it had to do with birthing in the tub in all that water. A few more weeks and our next baby is coming...plan to do the water tub again. Love sleeping in my bed after all that work. And be warned. :) If this is your first baby that quick. My first was born in 2 hours and then next 30 minutes. They have all ranged from 30 minutes to 3 hours so don't travel too far when the next baby comes....could be even quicker next ;)

    3. Hey Stephanie,

      So glad you commented. I love reading about other mom's experiences. I would love to have an actual water birth at some point. Mostly, because I love pictures from water births!

      My midwife also warned me about the potential quickness of my next labor. She said "Next time, if you wake up with contractions... don't go grocery shopping!" :)

      Wishing you all the best in the weeks to come!! <3

  6. Thank you for letting me feature you in a First Born Birth Story Collection!

    1. Awesome. Thanks, Nicolette! Will share at, too! <3 Have a great day.


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