Note from photographer Natalie Broders:
In the days and weeks leading up to Milo’s birth, Annie had persistent contractions that she dealt with day in and day out. I knew that she was exhausted and TIRED of being pregnant.
When Annie texted me that she was heading in to the hospital, I JUMPED in the car. Her first labor was FAST and we expected this labor to be, too. This incredibly and strong mama roared her baby earthside with such grace that she made it look easy.
When he was born, it started snowing outside.
You can read Annie’s birth story in her own words below.
The Birth of Milo Jay, written by Annie Alexander
7lbs 4oz & 21” long
2/24/2019 @ 1:00am
4 Hour Labor
February 23, 2019
I had been having intense, frequent contractions for months so it was hard to know when it was really time. Contractions had gotten down to 5 minutes apart or less on a few occasions, but I hadn’t dilated.
It was the end of February and it was very cold, and finally started to snow! Thankfully the snow didn’t come down heavily until everyone was at the hospital so we didn’t need to worry about making it on the hazardous roads.
The morning we went to the hospital, I could tell something was slightly different this time. I had a gut feeling that this was actually it. Contractions stayed consistent every 6 minutes starting around 5am, along with very intense cramping and excessive loss of mucus, so we decided it was time to go to the hospital around 5pm. We arranged for our 2 year old daughter to be picked up by our friend.
At this point, I couldn’t walk or talk through contractions at all, whereas before I could still talk a little through them. Our daughter was born at 39 weeks and had a very fast delivery so we always suspected that Milo would come early too.
With all the contractions and signs of labor I had been having for weeks, we thought he was going to come even earlier, so even though I delivered a week and a half before my due date it felt as though he was late. After being so close to labor for so long, and multiple times thinking he was finally coming, I was extremely mentally and physically exhausted at this point. I couldn’t take another disappointment of being told I still wasn’t in true labor.
Once we got to the hospital, the triage nurse broke the upsetting news that I still hadn’t dilated past 4cm, which is where I had been for the last couple weeks. They gave us the option to head home, or to try walking for 2 hours to see if we could get things to progress. We were determined not to go home, so we started power walking the halls. After about an hour, contractions became almost unbearable and practically on top of each other. They were coming about every 30-45 seconds. But I wanted to really make sure this was it, so I pushed through and we continued to walk the rest of the full two hours.
At 8pm they rechecked me and immediately told me I was being admitted, I had progressed to 5cm!
Each contraction felt as though my stomach was flexing as hard as it could, without my permission. It would get very very hard and contorted. The difference in the contractions the day he was born, was the amount of pressure I was now feeling along with the tightness. Baby had been between -1 and 0 station for about 4 weeks, so I had been used to a lot of pressure, but this was different. It was much more intense and felt as though he was “falling out” per say. I had to sit and close my eyes and breath deep and heavily through each one. Once they passed, I was completely fine between them, which made me worried that maybe it wasn’t true labor yet.
It’s hard to remember exactly what thoughts ran through my head, but it was a mix of excitement, disbelief, fear, relief, and a little sadness that my pregnancy was actually coming to an end. My epidural took away the pain, but did not take away the pressure. I felt so much more pressure in my pelvis this time than I did with my daughter, I only felt minor belly pressure during contractions with her. I was surprised at how much I welcomed the pressure. Although it did not feel good, it felt right. I felt as though my body knew what it was doing and being able to feel the pressure gave me a better understanding of where we were at in labor.
As for preparation, I didn’t do much to prepare. I know that all births are different and impossible to predict, so I made sure to just remind myself that anything can happen and most of it will be out of my control, and that’s ok as long as the end result is a healthy baby and mama.
I had a room full of support! I had my mom, my boyfriend’s mom, my friend Lynneah and her mom, my friend Brittani, and of course my boyfriend. While I love having as much support as I can surround myself with, I only wanted my boyfriend up near me to touch and speak with me through the birth while everyone else stayed a few steps back. As with our daughter, he was amazing at only lightly touching me so I knew he was there, but not to overbear me. He would stroke my hair and rub my leg. He also was great about telling me how every push was bringing my baby closer to being born, which encouraged me that my hard work was accomplishing what we wanted it to.
I loved that most of my labor was filled with laughter! We all talked and laughed and had a lot of fun while we waited until it was time to push. Once it was time to push, things took a more serious tone.
Overall, I loved every bit of my birth. I wouldn’t have changed a thing! The doctor had offered to break my water immediately after getting checked in, but I opted to wait it out and let things progress on their own. They did start a very low dose of pitocin to keep contractions consistent since they spaced out a bit after the epidural, but otherwise I wanted to let me body take its time. Plus it was nice to spend a little bit more time with friends and family before the chaos of delivering a baby. He did end up breaking my water, but only because it was more than likely going to burst with my first push and he didn’t want to get messy, so he broke it right before my first push. The timing of everything just felt perfect! The only low I can recall was during pushing, the doctor told me the baby’s heart rate had been too low for too long and I had one more chance to get him out so I needed to make my next push count. That scared me as I didn’t know what would happen if I didn’t get him out on the next push. Thankfully I didn’t have to find out because I made it count and I got him out in the next push!
February 24, 2019
I pushed for just 7 minutes. Thankfully there were no complications! Aside from his heart rate dropping, but since I was able to get him out right away we avoided any issues. It was scary to be told he was potentially in danger, but I didn’t have time to dwell on that because I just focused on getting him out before he was in any real danger.
I couldn’t stop saying that I couldn’t believe he was really here! Then I was shocked that he looked so different than our daughter (although after really seeing him, they’re almost identical!). I couldn’t help but take a few seconds to soak in the immense amount of relief I finally felt. I had been so uncomfortable for the last months of my pregnancy and the amount of pain and pressure in my pelvis was almost unbearable, so it felt amazing to instantly have that relief of pain and pressure. It took a long time to process that he was really here. Just a few short hours before, the nurse was talking of sending us home!
I ‘m happy with myself and how quickly this birth went. I was even more proud when the nurse said I only pushed for 7 minutes, which was 2 minutes faster than I pushed with our daughter! Nothing in my life has ever made me feel as empowered as giving birth makes me feel. I was nervous how I would feel about my second baby since I couldn’t fathom loving anything as much as I love our daughter, but I was amazed at how I instantly felt that same love for Milo the second I met him.
My boyfriend was emotional and relieved all at once. He couldn’t believe our son was finally here also, but he was also relieved to see me not going through labor any more! Everyone in the room was so happy and told me how amazing I did. It was such a loving moment.
From the time I was admitted to the hospital to the time my baby was born, it had taken just 4 short hours.
It was almost exactly what I imagined it would be. It was very similar to the birth of our daughter, with the exception of feeling much more pressure this time. But it went hard and fast and was just perfect all the way through!
I loved every second of it from start to finish. It was just such an amazing night full of so much love and excitement.
This birth just reminded me that I am stronger than I often think and I am capable of more than I realize.
Natalie Broders is a birth photographer, birth videographer and birth doula located in Portland, Oregon. She lives on a farm with her husband and 2 kids. They raise chickens and love to garden. Natalie loves babywearing, cloth diapering and is passionate about her work as an advocate for birthing people. She had one of her babies at a birth center and her second baby was born at home, in water.