Updated: May 18
Full disclosure: This birth is uncensored and bravely shown in love to help eliminate fear surrounding birth.
Anna and Alex found me last year.
It was a windy day and the planes of DFW were soaring over us in Starbucks.
I remember noticing Anna's calm demeanor and Alex had more questions than her.
I appreciated it.
More often than not, dads feel excluded from the conversation because in truth...they are.
His specific questions regarding her well being and things he didn't understand about what I do instantly made me hope that they would work with me.
They were supportive of one another.
The plans that they had described to me for their child was refreshing.
They did not want to know the sex of the baby.
Anna wanted her baby to be placed immediately on her chest as soon as it was born to just soak up the love of who he or she was before knowing.
No gender reveal.
Just a sweet child to look forward to.
When their due date was nearing, I got the call early in the morning.
They were headed in.
I arrived to find the usual scenario.
Mother in the throws of labor while her team helps.
Statistically speaking, first time mothers have long labors.
Sometimes they can labor for days.
Our bodies go through the slow and intentional process of shifting to move our children down.
This takes time.
Especially when attempted naturally.
This was not the case for Anna.
She was the poster child for labor.
The amount of focus she was able to muster was unreal.
During her sideline release, she absorbed the shifting in her uterus.
She never fought it. I was just impressed at how well she was doing it.
She breathed in and out.
Waited for each contraction and completely surrendered to them.
She wasn't fighting anything.
Anyone who has ever been in labor knows how difficult it is to surrender.
Nothing was stopping her from breathing through the contractions.
Occasionally her brow would furrow but she would smooth it out again to let the contraction be there, undisturbed.
She did this for a couple of hours.
All of the sudden, we heard the grunt.
I looked at Debbie, her midwife.
Surely that was just a differentiation in her breathing...not pushing...we've only been here for a couple of hours...
She did it again.
Wow. That was definitely a transition grunt.
Baby was getting closer so Debbie and Kim advised her to get into the water.
They were definitely getting stronger.
Even still, as the contractions heightened, she would catch herself mid moan and throw her head back inviting it all to take over.
Alex had the face of every man watching helplessly onto the women they love.
They don't understand that their presence, alone, is all we need sometimes.
She laid in wait as the contractions let her rest.
After a few in the tub, the baby's heart rate would slow as she relaxed.
The baby wasn't liking this position so we had her move out of the tub so baby could be more comfortable.
She asked, "has my water broken?"
"Not yet. It will when it's ready, I promise." said Debbie.
Sure enough, as she got out to grab the oxygen mask, her water broke.
She moved to the bed. The contractions were peaking and she could feel pressure near her bottom. This meant that the baby's head was close to being born.
Alex's anxiety spiked. It was getting real. Anna was showing the signs of a mother close to delivering.
Yet despite her being in transition, she comforted him.
This was one of the sweetest moments they had together.
She began pushing.
To relieve the anxiousness, Debbie asked Alex if he wanted to see his baby's head. The baby was emerging faster than they had expected. He saw his baby's hair.
Relief and pride washed over him as Anna pushed ever closer to release.
Sometimes when mothers feel their child, it can bring a sense of awareness and relief in the midst of birth. Knowing and feeling that baby is safe and right there. I always love these moments of mothers touching their child for the first time in between worlds.
Debbie guarded the most intimate parts of Anna so she didn't tear.
She held a warm rag and also had oil below to help the perineum stay in tact as much as possible.
During this part, the pressure (or "ring of fire") can be intense. Her midwives coached her saying breathe slowly through it.
Let it be there.
Do not panic.
Trust your body.
It is doing the work for you.
And with that, she pushed one last time and her baby's head was born.
She then reached down and brought her child onto her chest the way she wanted to.
It was the cutest thing to see all of the vernix the way it was.
That stuff is amazing for babies.
The relief was immediate. They looked at their baby before they even knew who she or he was. They wanted this moment to just appreciate before knowing.
They had done it.
Their precious child was here.
Together, they lifted their child up
To officially know that they had a daughter.
When I say there wasn't a dry eye, I mean it.
Ava stayed intact with her placenta until it pulsated white.
Receiving all of her blood she made while inside of her mother.
Anna, patiently soaked in her herbal bath while dad got time with his sweet girl.
These baths help tissue trauma from birth and promote healing.
Cradling her postpartum belly, she waited for her turn to do skin to skin with their daughter.
These images are so beautiful. They fought so hard and planned so long to have these moments as a family.
Anna, thank you. Alex, thank you.
Thank you for your graciousness in sharing these images with women around the world who may have never seen this side of birth and motherhood. I hope you truly understand how powerful your birth was and how it will inspire women and men in their own journeys.
Birth Center: Grapevine Birthing Center, Grapevine TX
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