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This is Amanda’s birth story, written in her own words.
This is my second birth, but my first natural birth. My first was a hospital birth with an epidural.
It was dark out when we left for Andaluz Waterbirth Center. I startled awake with hard contractions at 3:20am.
My contractions were only 10 minutes apart. I was doubting that I was in labor. By 4am, suddenly my contractions were only 4 minutes apart.
I knew labor was coming soon, as I packed my bags the night before and went to bed early. I expected my labor to be faster than my 12 hour labor with my son, but I didn’t think it would only be 4 hrs. I was shocked when she was in my arms already.
Contractions felt a little stronger than menstrual cramps in the beginning and progressively got stronger and stronger as they got closer and closer together. I started out by breathing through them and focusing on the music in the car on the way to the birthing center. Once we arrived at the center, I started pacing, counting, and breathing through my contractions. Once they got closer together and stronger, they were harder to cope with, so I got in the hot shower. I rocked back and forth and continued to count until I could no longer handle the pain. I got out of the shower and a couple of minutes later I ended up getting into the bath tub.
I continuously gave myself pep talks. I told myself to ride the waves and each contraction was getting me closer to meeting my baby girl.
At the end I started to doubt myself as the pain became so severe.
I was surprised when my body told me to push and even more surprised that it was actually time to push. I was surprised I had made it that far with out any medications.
This time, I had to trust myself and my body. I reached down and felt Briar’s head. When my body told me to push, I wasn’t actually sure that my body was ready. So I gave it a try. When I pushed for the first time, I reached down and felt my water break. I pushed again and her head was out. I pushed a third time and she was out and in my arms.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when pushing. My previous birth with my son was in a hospital. They coached me, told me when to push, and counted as I pushed.
I couldn’t believe I had a daughter like I have always dreamt of. I felt a huge amount of love for both of my babies.
I was shocked at how fast and smooth everything went. I felt empowered and strong for accomplishing a natural birth and trusting my body and myself.
I don’t remember the first thing I said, but it was probably something about her hair. I was so in love with her as I looked at each part of her body. Her tiny feet that look like Joshua’s. Her face that looks similar to her brother’s. I felt relieved that she was out and I was no longer in extreme pain.
When she first came out and I pulled her out of the water, I could tell that Josh was concerned when she was coughing up water and crying. After that I could tell he was in love with her just as much as he loves our son.
I really struggled with imagining it going wrong and not having the birth that I envisioned and wanted. However, I had the opposite experience. It went just as I wanted!
I got the natural birth experience that I wanted AND I got to catch my baby on my own.
I learned that I am truly capable. I learned to trust my body and my intuition more. I learned that I can accomplish anything a minute at a time.
I was so focused on myself and my baby that I don’t remember much about how others reacted. I just remember everyone being shocked that she came so fast. I also remember everyone admiring the lines on her feet.
I read several books. A couple of my favorites were Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin and Birthing From Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. They really helped educate me and got me into a positive mindset for birth.
I practiced meditation from around halfway through my pregnancy. This helped me focus on my counting and breathing during labor.
By 37 weeks I drank a Raspberry Leaf Tea blend, exercised, bounced on a birthing ball, and walked up and down stairs. All of this helped get my body prepared for labor and birth. The tea gave me practice contractions for weeks. I like to think that it helped me have a short labor and delivery.
I read other women’s birth stories and watched their birth videos, which helped me stay positive and birth without fear.
Natalie did an amazing job of capturing my birth experience for us to look back on. Her presence was vital in the end. She gave me words of encouragement when I started to doubt myself. Marilyn was amazing and went above and beyond throughout my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She always listened to me and helped in whatever way she could and made it easy for me to trust. The assistants were helpful in making sure Briar was healthy and doing the newborn exam.
The people in the room at my birth were my husband Joshua, my good friend and birth photographer/videographer: Natalie Broders, the best midwife: Marilyn Milestone, Marilyn’s student/assistant: Harper, and another assistant. Each person was a beautiful part of my labor and birth experience in some way.
Joshua was there and gave me peace of mind. He knew my birth plan and my wishes. He was prepared to speak up for me, if something were to go not as expected.
It’s funny to look back on when I pushed for the first time and felt the pop of my water breaking. I didn’t know what it was and was concerned.
Another funny moment wasn’t in labor, but postpartum when Briar pooped meconium up her back before we had put a diaper on her. Josh and I worked together to clean her up. In that moment I thought, welcome to parenting a baby again.
A little less than 4 hours from the time I startled awake at 3:30am, to the time she was in my arms around 7:20am.
Baby Briar, 8lbs and 20.5inches
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.