Brenden's Birth Story

October 10, 2023

 I guess I'd have to start with Roses.

**all photos c/o McKayl Ford @honeyandhope.doula**

I love roses. I love that they are beautiful and that they smell nice. Plus, they are a great visual for birth. So, I decided that beginning at about 39 weeks, I would purchase bouquets of roses and learn how to care for them so that they would be ready when I went into labor.

Sunday morning, a week after Easter, and the day of my 41 weeks gestation marker, I was ready for church and reminding the children to use the bathroom before we left home. I thought to myself, "The best way to lead is by example," so I took myself to the bathroom first where I discovered that I had some bloody show (10:15AM) and was likely in the early stages of labor. I was keyed up, but told Andrew, my sister Becky, my niece Ashlee, and the children, that even though I was likely in labor, I would still go to church. I slid into the front seat and listened to the children argue about who would sit where for a moment, then decided that maybe going to church wasn't the best idea for me today - I did also feel a little off. Becky decided to stay home with me.

Becky and I made my bed with the shower curtain and second layer of fitted sheets, played Dutch Blitz a few times, ate lunch, and went for a walk where she taught me some of her speed-walking skills from her high school days. I have no idea why I didn't pursue that athletic career because it's clear that I have a knack for it!

By the time Andrew, Ashlee, and the children came home, not much had changed, which was good because that meant I was still having contractions, just not intense or undeniably consistent yet. My friend and doula, McKayl came over at about 1:30PM to re-familiarize herself with my camera. We chatted a bit, but clearly we still had a little ways to go, so she settled me into bed where I would try to take a nap. Alexa came to lie down with me for a bit and McKayl took a picture.

McKayl came back at about 5PM because I had told her that they contractions seemed to be getting a little more serious. It's hard to know how quickly things will turn with 5th-time moms, and I was having a hard time reading things myself! She had me go up the stairs sideways, two at a time a couple of times to see how my labor would respond, then retreated with me into my bedroom where we sat on the birthing ball, then squatted in my birthing sling. We saw increased intensity, consistency, and length with the use of the birth sling, so continued with that, though I was drinking so much water, I was often sitting on the toilet, too. McKayl always asked me to wait for one contraction before I'd get off the toilet again. She texted my midwives and sent them the contractions timer that she had been keeping where it looked like I was having consistent 1-minute contractions every 5 minutes. The midwives decided to come over even though neither McKayl nor I were sure it was time. I didn't mind, though. It was their call and they could always take naps or head back home if it ended up being too early.

By 7PM, the jokes I had been making with McKayl turned from "can you imagine a pregnant woman Aerial Silk Dancing" as I hung in my birth sling, to "McKayl, you're the devil" as I stood up from doing another contraction with an abdominal lift and tuck on the toilet. I decide to try getting into the tub and am happy it doesn't appear to stall labor, but am not sure the contractions are as productive. I get back out of the tub and ask everyone to give me and Andrew some privacy for a moment. I ask him to give me a priesthood blessing and feel peace as he places his hands on my head and tells me that the Lord wants me to know that He loves me and that He encourages me to remember why I chose to birth at home and in this way, and closes in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

After spending some time resting in bed with Andrew, deciding that I'm done telling jokes, and handling some more intense contractions facing backward on the toilet, I tell Andrew that I think I'm experiencing some self-doubt because I keep thinking about what my team might be thinking and how much longer this could be. I've been with mothers who are coping the way that I am and I don't remember their labors being done quickly from that point.

I decide it's time to get back into the tub (9:30PM). I'm trying to focus on breathing deeply. It's getting harder. I look up and see my sister and niece walk in. I know I look like an insane person, but I can't stop the smile that parts my lips and make one last joke...

"Saucy Monkey!" 

- Jennifer Coolige from Austenland

**Becky laughing at my "Saucy Monkey" joke**

Self-doubt has really sunk in at this point, but I'm determined not to give into them or say any of them aloud... at least, not in front of the entire team. I ask the team to give us some privacy again and I tell Andrew that I'm struggling. He encourages me and tells me that I can do it. I feel another contraction coming and I say, "Oh no." Andrew responds "No. Not 'oh-no.' These are good. You say, 'Bring it on.'" I nod my head and try to remember that with each new wave.

Nancy is sitting next to me, and even though I know it probably won't be very comfortable for her, I lean my head onto her arm and let her gently caress my head. She encourages me, reminding me of what important work I'm doing. Her words help. I feel the Spirit through the love and kindness of my team.

I'm not sure how much time has passed (10:25PM), but my team has been so patient and supportive. There isn't much room around the tub, but Nancy takes Andrew's place for a moment and begins rubbing oil on my temples. I begin to remind myself that I'm never truly alone. That the Lord is with me. Christ is with me. My ancestors, my husband, my children, my team.

I remember what the urge to push to feels like, and I'm impatient that I'm not feeling it yet. My knees and hands are hurting from being on them for so long. I look down at my fingers with the bright-pink polish sloppily painted on my nails by Alexa yesterday. They look huge in the distortion of the water. I moan with the next contraction and feel McKayl slip a comb into my hand. I squeeze it as I work through the next contraction. I'm tempted to ask Nancy to check my dilation, but decide instead to just try pushing a little.

My moaning gets louder and turns into a grunt. I call out "pushing!" because I'm pretty sure midwives like to know things like that. I can feel the pressure of my baby descending and give just a little gasp before pushing more. I feel myself stretching and burning, but know that the quickest way through it is through. "C'mon!" I say to myself, pushing harder. I feel myself tear, but the pain is just momentary.

"Head's out!"
The contraction is winding down and I take a deep breath. Nancy and Andrew encourage the deep breathing and I slow down to take another deep breath. I don't feel the pressure or burning anymore. I'm just waiting for the next contraction to push again. My hands are down on my baby's head and I feel when the water breaks. I let the midwives know. I feel around my baby's head and I can feel the ear. "This is so surreal," I say. I have been looking forward to this moment for so long, planning it, preparing for it. It's almost unbelievable that it's finally here.

The next contraction builds and I deliver my baby (10:49PM).

I immediately feel relief and elation! I check quickly for a nuchal cord and when I don't feel one, I intentionally pull my baby up to my chest while still submerged and talk myself through pulling up and out of the water.

"Hi baby! Wow! You are here! Oh my gosh! Hello!" My baby isn't crying, but I know everything is fine and that we are both safe. I know that babies are often born quietly and don't begin crying immediately after birth, especially those born peacefully. I can see that my baby's eyes are open and blinking. Just taking in the world.

I don't want to take my eyes off of our perfect, beautiful new baby, but I ask my children if they can see our new baby. I carefully move myself back to lean on my bathtub pillow and Andrew asks me, "Boy or girl?" I'm so happy to have my baby and be done that I completely forgot that we've been waiting to find out. "I don't know!" I exclaim gleefully in answer to Andrew's question. "I can't tell!"

After a few more moments and exclamations of excitement, Andrew asks me again.

"You're going crazy, aren't chya?" I laugh, then investigate. "Are we ready to find out, guys?" I lean a little bit to the side, being careful not to immerse our baby in the water again by accident, so that Andrew can see.

**Me asking if Andrew's ready. Brenden's face cracks me up in this one!**

I nod my head at him, the biggest smile lighting my face. "It's a boy! It's a boy! Barrett, you have a brother!" Barrett is a little shy, but I see him smiling. "Hi little Brenden! I love you so much!"

The rest of the night is a blur of pure happiness and joy. Everything was exactly how I had dreamed it would be. Chelsea cut the umbilical chord while I was still in the bathtub, then I was tucked into my bed surrounded by my family and my team, feeling loved and cared for. My children were curiously examining and getting to know their baby brother. We were completely enveloped in love. I never want to forget that feeling. I imagine that this is how Heaven will feel.

I thank my Heavenly Father before I fall asleep in bed with my husband and new baby for our safety. I feel so deeply grateful for His love and the opportunity I had to be able to birth our baby safely at home, exactly how I hoped. My team was everything I needed them to be. I thank the Lord for each of them, especially my family. Chelsea who made Brenden a blanket while I was in labor, made me cards with pictures of me, Andrew, and the new baby tucked into bed together, and enlisted Alexa in the trimming of bougainvillea flowers to put in a vase beside my bathtub. Alexa for her loving hugs and quiet support through her gentle touches. Barrett and Elise for their happy natures, and Andrew for his quiet calm and support from the very beginning. He was everything I needed him to be.

**Midwives Kayla Padjett and Nancy Pol**

**Left to right: Annalise Leavitte (videographer and friend), Kayla, Susan, Brenden, Nancy, and McKayl (doula and friend)**

I quickly fall asleep then, my baby boy in my arms at last, my heart completely full, and my roses on my nightstand.


Susan is a doula, birth photographer, and videographer serving Mesa, Arizona and surrounding cities in the East Valley including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Considering a birth documenter for your birth? Visit and leave an inquiry!

No comments

You left me a comment! *fist pump*

Powered by Blogger.