Photography Blog

Ann Bennett Photography is a newborn, maternity and baby photography studio serving Tulsa, OK and the surrounding area. Ann's style is simple, clean and timeless. 

Emma's Natural Birth

Last year, I shared Emma Mae's birth story on my blog. Since then, my old blog crashed and the story was lost. I was so sad! Then an awesome tech savvy friend of mine managed to find them in a web archive somewhere in cyberspace. So it took a little work to get it back, but now Emma's birth story is here on the new blog! This was originally posted in March 2015. Hopefully I'll get Bay's up soon, too (I'll update when I do). Crazy to think I'll have a new birth story any day now.

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Why Share?

Back in July of 2013, I shared the story of my son’s birth here on my blog. I shared because other peoples’ stories had helped me tremendously while preparing for my birth experience. I had literally spent hours searching the web for stories of natural birth. As a first time mom, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I came to realize that every single person’s birth experience is different. So I still didn’t really know what to expect, but I wanted to be prepared for anything. As I read the stories, I went through each scenario in my mind and thought about how I would like to respond if it were to happen to me. If you’ve read my son’s birth story, you know that it was an amazing, very positive experience.

When I found out that I was pregnant again, I knew I wanted to have a similar experience. Everyone told me that, as a rule, second-time deliveries are almost always quicker and easier than the first. Guess what? I was an exception.

READ ME FIRST (DISCLAIMER)

Okay, so let me start here. This is the story of the natural birth of my daughter.  I don’t leave out many details. I talk about my experience with contractions, pushing, breastfeeding, etc. I also have pictures from the birth in this post – I wouldn’t consider any of them inappropriate, but, if you are uncomfortable with any of those things STOP HERE (and for goodness sake please don’t chose to read on and then complain that I posted this online!)

Why Homebirth?

Actually, I technically delivered at a birth center (Special Delivery Birth Center). I’m calling my birth experience a “home birth” because it was basically a home birth but not in my own home. This time around, I chose home birth because it went so well last time. I felt comfortable in the familiar bedroom/home environment. I loved the freedom of not being attached to an IV. Unlike most hospital births, I was able to wear my own clothes, move around freely and eat and drink as I pleased. My desires/feelings/opinions mattered to my midwife. She trusted my body and I trusted her judgement. I knew she would do everything she could to help me have the birth experience I desired, no matter how long it took.

If you want to know my reasons for opting for a home birth the first time around (including a link to home birth statistics and resources I used to make my decision), check out Bay’s birth story.

Labor day.

On Wednesday, March 4th (2 days before my “due date”) Tulsa got a little winter storm. We had some freezing rain in the morning and some snow in the late afternoon. JP and I had a banquet to attend that evening that he had been looking forward to for a long time. JP is an avid bowhunter and it was for a local deer hunting club. For the last 2 weeks he had been telling me he just wanted Emma to hold off until after the banquet. So that evening, we left Bay with my mom and headed out in the snow to the banquet. We got there at 6pm. At about 7pm, I started noticing some light contractions. I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions since the beginning of my second trimester, so I waited to see if they were regular. The contractions seemed to be regular, but still very light, so I wasn’t convinced that I was going into labor. When we left (around 8pm), I told JP that I might be going into labor but I wasn’t sure. On the drive home, we timed contractions. They were 30-50 seconds and 2-3 minutes apart. I said we should go back to my parents’ house and try to go to sleep. I expected the contractions to just slow down or stop. As I laid in bed, trying to fall asleep, the contractions continued. I felt like a little girl trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve (read: it wasn’t going to happen). So we packed up, took the baby monitor down to my mom (“Hey, mom, sorry to wake you up but I  think I’m in labor. I’m just going to leave this baby monitor right here for you and we’re going to head to the birth center.”)

In the car, my contractions seemed to ease off a bit. I was disappointed. We pulled into the birth center a little after 11pm. My midwife (Ruth Cobb) checked me. I was 2cm dilated and 85% effaced and the contractions hadn’t really picked back up. My friends Andrea and Amy, who were going to take pictures and video of the delivery for me, were on their way. I was so disappointed thinking I may have drug everyone out in the snow for a false alarm. I started earnestly bouncing on the birth ball to try to bring on the contractions.

After an hour or so, they did pick back up. The next time Ruth checked me I was 3cm dilated.

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One last bump picture!

One last bump picture!

 I would have periods of good, strong contractions then I would go into periods of contractions that didn’t last long. Sometimes it felt like I would go 5 minutes or more without a contraction at all. I tried to stay active. I walked around, talked and joked between contractions instead of resting. Resting seemed to make them slow down. But eventually I decided to take a little while and just try to rest to build up some strength.

It was late. I was tired. My contractions were very painful at the peaks but they didn’t peak for very long and they weren’t very close together. I felt like I was going through pain and getting little from it. I was a bit discouraged. My labor with Bay was a nice steady progression. I never had to “work” to keep it going.

The next time Ruth checked me I was about 5 or 6cm dilated and 90% effaced – and, unfortunately, baby girl had turned posterior (face up). Ruth recommended leaning over the bed, laboring on all fours, or using the birthing ball to lean on to try to encourage her to flip back. She was still sitting pretty high up and had plenty of room to flip. I tried all of the positions and decided that I liked the birth ball best.

Leaning on the birth ball helped my contractions intensify. I swayed my hips back and forth during contractions to try to keep myself loose and relaxed and bring the baby down lower. 

Between contractions, at some point in the wee hours of the morning, I decided to weigh myself. It had been a week since my last prenatal appointment and I was curious what my total weight gain was. I started pregnancy at 127lbs and was 146 when I weighed myself in labor.

Back in the birth suite, Ruth checked me again and the baby had turned a little but not completely. She asked me to try squatting during contractions to try to bring the baby lower. Ohhh, squatting was intense. But the peaks of my contractions were still very short.

Things Pick Up.

Eventually, Ruth decided to push the baby down during contractions to help her get lower and then break my water to keep her down there. When she pushed Emma down during contractions, it hurt so bad! But I was so glad to be getting somewhere. She pushed her and when she was able to keep her low for 3 contractions, she broke my water.

Things picked up pretty quickly after that. Unfortunately when Emma moved down, she rotated back to posterior. I was now 9cm dilated. Ruth suggested squatting again. This time squatting brought on crazy progress. I shook like crazy during contractions and started feeling the urge to push.

While squatting, my hands got tingly. I may have been hyperventilating a little. I started to feel a bit light-headed.

Pushing.

Ruth helped me back to the bed and with my next contraction, I knew I had to push. Jp held up my leg and I pushed like crazy. It was so incredibly intense.

I had brought her down far enough that with the next push she would be crowning. I took the opportunity to rest then braced myself as I felt it coming on.

With the next contraction I pushed with all my might. I felt her head crowning and pushed harder. Her head started to come out. Ruth told me to slow down, breath, and do some smaller pushes. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had her left hand up by her face and Ruth told me to slow down so that she could pull the arm out. Once she got the arm out,she said I could push harder again and I did. Her head was completely out and her body followed quickly. Before I knew it she was up on my chest. Tears flowed freely. My labor had been quite a bit longer and more frustrating than it was with Bay. The joy and relief of holding my sweet baby overwhelmed me. 

I held her in my arms. She cried and I cried. I’m pretty sure JP cried, too. She was beautiful.

Once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, Ruth tied it up and let JP cut the cord.

Ruth checked me and amazingly I hadn’t torn! If you’re pregnant and reading this – consider starting perineal massage at 36-37 weeks. It’s not guaranteed to prevent tearing but it can definitely reduce it and is worth a shot.  Yes, it’s super awkward but just try to get over that – it’s worth it ;) 

After the cord was cut, I pulled her up to my chest and she immediately took to nursing. She nursed for about 45 minutes.

Ruth weighed her, measured her, and gave her an initial exam. She was perfect :). JP went out and got us some breakfast. When he got back, we took a long nap with our sweet baby girl. We were all exhausted. After the nap, I showered and got dressed. While I nursed Emma again, JP left to pick up Bay. I held my breath as JP brought him in the room. I had no idea what to expect. Bay saw me and yelled “Hi!!!!,” pointed to the little peanut in my arms and said “Bee-bee!” he crawled up on the bed, continued to say “Hi!” and snuggled with Emma and me! He was sweet and gentle.

 Heading Home.

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Next we packed up our bags and headed home. It was about 2pm when we got home. We had some lunch, laid Bay down for a nap, and took the opportunity to rest again. When Bay woke up he was excited to see his sister again. “Bee-bee!!” he yelled and snuggled with her and held her hand.

And just like that our family of 3 became a family of 4. My sweet little boy became a big brother. I looked into the face of my beautiful daughter. And JP was already wrapped around a tiny little finger.

Thank you! Thank you!

There’s a few people that I have to thank for such an amazing birth experience.

My Man.

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It was a loooong night. Thanks for sticking by my side, encouraging me and praying with me. You’re an amazing husband and father and you’ll always be my Number 2 ;)

My Midwife.

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Ruth, I cannot thank you enough! I am so grateful for everything – I don’t even know where to begin. If this labor had been in a hospital, I’m not sure what would have happened. Your wisdom, experience, and determination to give women the best birth experience possible made this birth a success. I never once felt scared in your capable hands.

My friends.

My sweet friend Andrea (who photographed Bay’s birth) volunteered to photograph this birth as well. She came out in the middle of the night, in the snow and 34 weeks pregnant and I am sooooo glad she did. Thank you so much, Andrea. These pictures are so special to me and they will be so special to Emma.

And, lastly, I want to thank my friend Amy of Happily Situated Photography. When I saw the birth video she did for another friend of ours, I knew I wanted to hire her to document this delivery. Amy is insanely talented. She captures ordinary moments so beautifully. I cannot even explain how special it is to me to have this video.

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If you’re wanting a special moment in your life documented, you will absolutely not regret hiring Amy. Check out more of her work on her website.