Written by Ke’Shala • Beaverton, Oregon
For a while I was concerned about having a stranger be part of my birth experience. Especially since I only wanted my husband and midwives there. I was worried initially about not getting good images (me making faces or doing “weird” things).
I saw Natalie’s photo online and thought ‘hmm she looks like a nice person.’ Once I looked through her website and learned a bit more it seemed like she would be someone I clicked with. Then we met in person and I just knew that I needed her.
I didn’t have ANY photos from my 1st birth, and only a 3-5 second video clip of me having a contraction.
I’m someone that ALWAYS watches birth videos, so I knew that I needed to document this birth, especially after not having anything but fading memories of the first.
My 1 year old son Adonijah cried while I was in labor because I was loud and vocal and he just wasn’t liking seeing me that uncomfortable, but he slept through the rest of the birth. It was such a blur that I don’t even remember my husband’s reaction.
While I was pregnant I did a LOT of relaxation and breathing practice. I also did a lot of re-framing in terms of what I associated the word “pain” with. That ended up being the biggest help during labor.
For a few days leading up to full-on labor, I was having what I thought were Braxton Hicks that would get a little more intense than I was used to, but they would always fizzle out after a few hours, being 39+ weeks Pregnant I was trying EVERYTHING to get that baby out.
Fast forward to that Wednesday, I was 39 week 4 days (same gestation as my first son). I remember waking up and having an internal monologue with my baby telling him “I want to release you from coming when it’s most convenient for me. I’m going to stop trying to rush you out. I just ask that you don’t go to far overdue because my body is having a hard time maintaining this space for you. But you have my full permission to come when you are ready.” That was probably around 10 am, and no more than an hour later I started having contractions.
I was so excited because I honestly thought I would’ve had a baby by 38 or 39 weeks, but I was also glad to no longer have all these aches and pains brought on by pregnancy.
In the beginning they just felt like really tight squeezes. As they progressed they got more intense and felt more like an intense cramping in my stomach. I had to stop and sway/breathe/vocalize through them. Because of that I kept telling myself “oh I’m still able to walk/talk through them so I must not be that far along.”
As labor progressed, I thought, “Why did I do this to myself!?” That was literally what I said aloud to my sister on FaceTime while having a contraction. Why I decided to have a home birth where there was no drugs was beyond me at that point, but there I was.
My birth was attended by my Midwife Lara, an assisting midwife Nadia, my husband, and my birth photographer, Natalie Broders.
Natalie was the first one there and every time I would say “I can’t do this” she would respond by saying “you ARE doing this!”
Everything happened so fast that I can hardly remember anyone talking to me, I just remember being told by the women how well I was doing and how I was made for this and how I am so close to meeting my baby. I started having contractions that stuck around 11 am. My water broke around 8:45pm and baby was born at 10:21 pm that same night.
In hindsight the whole labor was kind of funny because I was quite dramatic, although I didn’t get to be as dramatic this time because everything happened so quickly.
Birth was INTENSE but I don’t associate this birth experience with “pain”.
Everything happened so fast.
I went all day having contractions that never got closer than 11.5 minutes apart. And while I was telling everyone I can still walk/talk through them, in hindsight that wasn’t quite the case. Once my water broke I went from 11 minutes apart to 6 minutes apart, then 5, then 4 with each contraction the spacing became less and less.
There weren’t really any low points per se, but I was least satisfied with how fast my labor was because I didn’t get to have the water birth I had hoped for, nor use any of the coping techniques (like counter pressure, music). The high point was definitely that final push when Lian was born.
Everything happened the way it was meant to. I love going back to watch the video and look at photos. Natalie did such an amazing job given that I birthed in the smallest corner possible of my home.
Pushing was tough because I just couldn’t seem to get on top of my contractions. I tried a few different positions and just couldn’t get comfortable, but my body knew what to do. It was as if my body grabbed my by the shoulders and said “grab ahold of yourself and let’s do this!” Next thing I knew, I was bearing down.
I felt the initial urge to push about 9:15pm (before anyone had arrived btw), so I guess you could say I pushed for about an hour.
No complications except that I tore which was totally my fault.
My midwife told me to pant and do small pushes, and while I was pregnant, I told myself that I would listen this time, but while I was in it I thought to myself,
“forget that! This baby needs to get out NOW!”
When I saw my baby for the first time, I cried and said “I did it!” and “he’s so cheesy, Adonijah didn’t have that much cheese!” I was so relieved that he was OUT that I didn’t even get a good look at him for a while.
I was SO proud of myself for trusting in my body enough to give it the space to do what it was created. I remember feeling complete euphoria, and like “dang, I just gave birth at HOME!”
With my 1st birth I had a mild postpartum hemorrhage. I had a feeling that would happen seeing as how I struggled with low iron my whole pregnancy.
We talked prenatally about how with this delivery we would do what they call “active management” to help control the bleeding by giving me a shot of pitocin immediately.
My birth unfolded differently than I imagined. I totally imagined being in labor a lot longer, and having a water birth. I imagined it being peaceful and less chaotic (because I was anticipating having more time to labor).
I was prepared for a faster labor than my first, but I was not prepared for how fast this was.
“When Ke’Shala’s labor started, it felt chaotic. I felt overwhelmed because I wanted to support her as much as I could, but I also had to tend to our 1 year old. It happened so fast that Adonijah’s labor support (his Grammy) hadn’t even arrived until he was asleep. “
“From my perspective, the only low point of birth was that everything was happening so fast that we weren’t quite ready for him to come yet. The high point was knowing that I was going to be a father again.”
“When he was born, I said “You made it Lian!” and I felt joy and love of being a father again.”
“Even though this birth was faster, it felt a little easier than the first one. It went smoother in terms of medical complications.”
The best part was being at home and being able to just be comfortable in my own space during labor and after the birth.
Lian Roy • 8lb 4oz • 20”
I love going back to watch the video and look at the photos Natalie captured for us.
Natalie Broders is a birth photographer, birth filmmaker 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.