The birth of Jaden Arman 2.17.2009

By Rama Pfeiffer 

First, I firmly believe in the power of women to birth without intervention. No, I am not anti-hospital or anti-OB, but I am for women birthing how they want to birth and empowering them to do so. When I found out I was pregnant with my first I went into a tail spin of research that spit me out with certain conclusions I wouldn’t have imagined I’d end up with. I was in school at the time finishing up my Bachelors and I ended up doing an 18-page research paper on the medicalization of childbirth in America.  After doing extensive research for almost a year before my son was born, I now know that approximately only 2% of women actually need intervention(s). I know. Crazy. I watched and read everything I could get my hands  on:

And just like the food industry, my eyes were open. Wide open. Something in me became fierce, because once again, I couldn’t un-know what I knew. I had this knowledge of a broken maternity and healthcare system and had to face it head on. I decided at that point, there was no way I could birth in a hospital. On the defense, I know what you’re thinking. It could be along the lines of ‘are you crazy?’ or maybe more of ‘do you know what can happen?’ or maybe you think I come across as judgmental because you birthed in a hospital. Maybe I am crazy, yes I know what can happen and no, I don’t judge you for the birth experience you had. At the end of the day, we want healthy mama and baby. I would go further to say we want a healthy mama and baby and I also want each mama to get the birthing experience she wants. After my own quest, I now know that when we stay out of women’s way as they birth (i.e. interventions: induction, pitocin, epidurals, etc.), we have much better outcomes and statistics for mama and baby. So, there’s that. I tell you guys, I knew nothing of this before I dug in deep and read and learned and talked with people on both sides. It was natural, pain-free once I hit the water, and euphoric: dim lights, candles, my playlist going, Kyle, my husband in the tub with me as we swayed back and forth with each ‘wave’ (contraction) and it felt incredible!! Amazing, actually. It was not only painless, but it felt good to birth. I and every woman out there was born with the capability to birth just like any other mammal. It is God and nature’s design to know how to do this. And it is empowering, the most empowering thing I have ever done.

This is my natural, hypno, water birth story of my firstborn.

I remember Kyle asked if I wanted to walk the mall that evening. I said no, I wanted to stay in. In some way I think I knew. He came home and I tried to make dinner, but ended up sitting partway through. He took over and we sat at our little two person bar at the edge of our kitchen counter and ate dinner together. I remember I was looking up how to make homemade Laborade when all of a sudden I needed to go to the bathroom. I remember after I went I stood up  and this long line of liquid was coming down (TMI) and then everything went foggy. I tried to take a step forward and hit the ground. I couldn’t walk. And thus began my labor. 8:30 pm February 17th, 2009. The chain of events that would normally transpire were on rapid speed. My contractions were coming fast… and hard. I began to craw and Kyle yelled ‘You’re not doing it right! (regarding the very peaceful hypnobirthing breathing that was supposed to be taking place). I punched the air in his direction over and over again with my eyes closed and screamed, ‘It hurts, it hurts!!!’ and then proceeded to crawl on all fours up our flight of stairs.

Looking back you would wonder where in the hell I was going ’cause no sane person going through that much crazy would try to get up a flight of stairs. But alas, to the tub! Apparently. It was so out of body that it was as if all  my mammalian ability took over and I just wanted to get to water, which happened to be up a flight of stairs on our second floor. So I made my way up those stairs between contractions while Kyle was on the phone with our midwife. He had put a towel down in the shape of a square in the nursery so when I finally made my way up the stairs I took a break in the nursery before continuing to the tub. I sat there over the towel on all fours and just breathed. As he was talking to my midwife trying to figure out what to do a big gush of water came rushing out and down onto the towel. Yep. Water = broke. And the intensity just didn’t stop. I finally got to the tub. The pain was almost unbearable, Kyle was frantically packing the car and making phone calls in between helping me in the water, then out of the water, then to my bed as I crawled out of it, then in it again because nowhere was a place where comfort existed. All I wanted was the birth I had envisioned, but this wasn’t it. I just wanted to get to the birthing center, to be in the big birthing tub and the warm water. Just get me to the water. Get me to the birthing center. And get me there he did.

The next ten minutes felt like the longest minutes of my life. Kyle practically carried me to the car. I still couldn’t walk. I stayed on all fours once I made it in the car with my rear facing the windshield, my knees on the seat and my head facing the back window. Yep. That’s how it went down. My eyes were closed as I focused and prayed the entire time he drove and I increased my tone when I started having the urge to bear down (i.e. push) seven minutes down the road. Kyle discovered a new definition of speed as he raced through every green light (thank, God) from Beaverton to Naito Parkway (a suburb to downtown Portland) and made it in record timing. It was 10:00 pm. As I stumbled out of the car and almost fell to my knees, Joy (my midwife) came rushing out of Andaluz to meet us and she and Kyle both counted and on three made me stand and walk as fast as I could in between waves (contractions) to the birthing room as they lifted each of my arms. I don’t know how I got undressed and into the tub, but somehow it happened and quickly without assistance. I just wanted the water.

And then…peace. It was as if time stood still for a moment and everything was right in the world. The lights were dimly lit, the candles were all around, my labor playlist was going and I was in the water. Warm water, magical water. Water that made all that seemed wrong dissipate and cease. I felt no pain. In fact, I felt really, really good.

Was this happening? The birth I always longed for? Calm, painless and so very present that every second would be remembered with joy? It was happening. From then on I felt nothing but complete and utter exhilaration as Kyle joined me in the water and I swayed back in for with each wave. We laughed, cried even made jokes and held each other as we birthed our baby boy together.

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After he was close to being out, Phill Collins began to sing. “Take, take me home…” I became even more determined as I openly breathed him down one wave after another. If it was any other moment I would have probably thought it was the cheesiest thing in the world, but it wasn’t any other moment, it was that moment. “Take, take me home,” it was as if it was Jaden’s anthem as I breathed him down slowly but with purpose. “Take, take me home, ” the song sang as I waited to see him, to lay eyes on my son for the first time. What would he look like? Feel like? “Take, take me home,” I remember as his head was crowning and Joy told me to reach down and feel to see if he was there and I did, and he was. I will never forget that. Absolutely indescribable. My heart was overflowing. He came at 11:01 pm his due date night, all 8 lbs. 13 oz., 21 inches and into his parents arms. He was home.’

And that was it. 2.5 hours after it began. Jaden came into the world. We stayed up that night ’til 3 am on a high of emotions. Family and close friends came in and out for those first few hours as we basked in the joy of our baby boy. The on-call midwife checked in on us periodically, but mostly just gave us our privacy.

We were now a family of 3. 

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the birth of Scarlet Patrice 12.23.2013

by Stephanie Sticka


I've been blessed to be surrounded by many friends & family who have endured natural labor. By natural, I mean no pitocin or pain meds! Over the years & months I heard their stories & have been inspired that women, with healthy pregnancies, have still chosen this route. My own mom, God bless her soul, labored all five of us children naturally. In recent years many of my close friends have gone the route of water births. After lots of research we decided a water birth route was the best fit for our family. I recieved amazing, intelligent & well informed medical care through out my whole pregnancy. I passed all tests, by God's grace, so we were able to carry out our plan. 

On Saturday December 21st, one day before Scarlet's due date, I woke up & went out to breakfast with my family. My husband was on his first day of winter break. Keeping a close eye on me, he encouraged me to again choose a high protein breakfast. Sugar, especially simple carbs, had been making me nauseated & left me with little nutrition. So I choose a sausage sandwich. Afterwards, we walked around Home Depot for an hour because I had the nesting bug. When we got home I decided to go for one last run. I am a runner & was missing my runs!! I had to give it up to get pregnant & could only sparsely run during my pregnancy. I wanted to do one more run before my 6weeks of no exercise in post partum. A week before I ran 3.5miles & I thought I pulled my groin muscle doing so. But nether the less, after watching a YouTube video of a girl dancing to hip hop music to induce labor, I was motivated!! I plugged in headphones & cracked up the hip hop for what would be the most painful 3.5miles of life. It was 1:30pm. At the time, I thought it was only painful because I was 40weeks pregnant. It didn't register that it could be LABOR!  looking back, I was having bad contractions . But I didn't know it so I went home, took a nice long bath & starting baking a paleo casserole. Ryan was busying talking with his sister. While I was baking something didn't feel right. I had to keep sitting down. I was also watching Pirates of the Caribbean. But I was out of it. So I kept baking & watching my movie. Finally, Ryan comes out & says his grandpa is ill & they think he might pass away. It was sad news! I told ryan "I'm so sorry & this is horrible timing but I think something is going on with me". Mind you, I DID NOT want to be one of those girls who thinks she's in labor when she's not. It takes a lot of pain to get my attention. But Ryan thought we should call Dana, our midwife. It was about 4pm when we called. She told us to time the contractions for an hour & that they needed to be 5mins apart. We started loading the car during this time just in case. That was the slowest & most painful packing experience. I had to pause often & bend over in pain. It was like a bad menstrual cramp. Very sharp. At 5pm we called Dana & told her they were indeed 5mins apart. She said to come to the birth center at 6pm. We finished packing & headed to Portland. My contractions were building during the car ride. When we got there I couldn't move during the contraction. They waited for me to get out of the car until it stopped. I was greated by Dana's sweet calm smile. The room was all ready for me when I arrived! The lights were dimmed, candles lit & tub full of warm water!! Talk about a great "admission" process!! I put on my swimsuit & went straight for the tub. And it was AMAZING!! By now my contractions were 2mins apart but the water calmed me & took the edge off. The first thing they asked us was "when did u eat last?". Thankfully, I ate that high protein paleo casserole 2hrs before. They were happy. Food gives you strength for the long road ahead.

At 8pm I was offered to get "checked" for the first time in my whole pregnancy. I'm so glad I didn't before because the numbers really do mess with you mentally. I was 3cm dilated. I felt discouraged. I thought I was further & I worried they would send me home. But Dana said I was 100% effaced. "Are you going to send me home?" I asked. "Oh no honey, you are in active labor", said Dana. Okay phew!! From 8pm - 10pm I kept walking, changing positions & chillin in the tub. I could not sit still. How do women labor on their backs in bed without pain meds??!! At 10pm I told Dana I was tired cause I never got to rest after my run. I asked her if I could go to sleep & she agreed I needed a nap & said there is no rush to have this baby tonight. Sweet! I laid down for 5mins & the pain got worse. The contractions starting building in intensity. We laughed..... this baby doesn't want to nap . From 10pm - 12am was painful!! Around 12am I kept moaning "ouch". Dana asked me why I was saying that. Good question because really it was only making me focus on the pain not distract from it. I told her it just getting very sharp. She told me I was in transition. I love how she kept me informed but encouraged. At 2am I asked to be "checked" again. This time she didn't tell me any numbers & I'm so glad. I learned through this that I get really focused on "numbers". But she said was almost completely dilated & my water was going to burst in 2mins. Literally it did while I was in the tub. It was just a tiny "pop". And no blood or fluid that we could see but we think it broke then. Not like the movies! I was getting so sick of the cramping but Dana encouraged me. She said the cramping is going to stop when my water breaks & it would be a more productive pain. Ha! She was right!! It became more of a pressure & my stomach was a rock. I labored in the water until about 3am. The pressure was strong but I didn't feel the urge to push & I was getting discouraged. I asked Michelle; the most calm, wise & sweetest apprentice; when I was going to push because the pressure was bad. Her & Dana talked & told me it was time to get out of the tub! It was time to have this baby & they wanted me to sit on the toilet to get the help of gravity & relieve the pressure. It was so hard to leave the glorious tub!! But I trusted them & they were right! I pushed for 42mins & birthed my baby standing up. She came out super fast! That was the least painful part. They laid me on cushions & put my daughter to my chest. We let the umbilical cord finish pulsing & then my husband cut the cord. She was here!!! My husband & I were filled with peace. I walked to bed & Ryan held her for a few mins. Then we got to breastfeed & got a huge breakfast made by the midwives.

Scarlet arrived at 3:57am on December 22, 2013. 7lbs 15oz. 21inches long. They checked our vitals during the whole process & everything was great! Ryan held my hand during almost the whole labor. I would lean over the side of the tub & squeeze that poor man's hand. He put ice cold washcloths on my forehead at the start of every contraction - that was a great distraction. Dana suggested many things to help distract myself. What worked for me was having Ryan count during the contraction. I knew I only had 60seconds til I would get a break. Ryan prayed for me several times out loud & when I said I couldn't do it he told me I was made for this! I did not labor quietly. I moaned deeply through the whole thing. I never screamed though. My midwives said I had an efficient labor - it just went like clock work....by the grace of God! They said I labored gracefully but I don't know  they are sweet. Three times I wished for an epidural. But convinced myself it was too late & not worth it at all. Even if you are like me ...you have a hard time believing you can do it, don't worry...you will survive! God really does give you the strength you need & I had to learn that the hard way. I had to stop trying to be strong by my own effort & let His grace take over. I'm so thankful for the gift of a healthy pregnancy which allowed me to go this route. I'm so thankful for the care I recieved at Andaluz Waterbirth Center - it was above & beyond. I'm thankful for a faithful husband who was so involved. He loved me "just as I am" during the whole thing. I'm so thankful to Jesus for the opportunity to be a mother & for being a constant presence in my hardest hours. It's all from Jesus & for Jesus. 
 

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the birth of Fern Winter 01.15.2012

by Lauren Hartmann

It all started in the early hours of Sunday, January 15th…

The day before, my husband Craig and I had gone to our birthing class (just in the nick of time!) and afterward I wanted to go on a date.  Craig was tired and wanted to go home and I got super emotional, saying that it might be “the last date we get to go on before Fern is born”, so we compromised and he took me out for a milkshake later that evening.  When we got home we watched some TV and went to bed.

Around 2:00 a.m. my contractions started.  I’d been feeling a little bit “crampy” the day before, but didn’t really think anything of it, since it wasn’t painful.  I had wondered before how I’d know if I was actually having contractions, but when they actually started I just knew.  I laid in bed for about an hour timing my contractions on the iPhone app I’d downloaded for the occasion.  The contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, lasting for one minute, which is when my midwife had told me was the time to head down to the birthing center.  Could this be the real thing?  I had fully prepared myself to be laboring for a long while – days even, since everyone says that first babies tend to take awhile (20 hours on average), but this seemed so fast!  I sent a text to my midwife to let her know what was going on and she texted me back saying that I should go back to sleep and call her in the morning to see how things were progressing.  Was she serious??  I tried to sleep for another half an hour, but by that time the contractions has intensified, so Craig got up with me and we started watching a basketball game he’d DVR’d.  After about a half hour of that, I decided that this must be the real thing and called my midwife.  She heard me have a contraction while we were on the phone and decided that I probably was in active labor and to wait an hour so they could get my room set up and then head down to the birthing center.

During this time we ran around the house collecting all of the things we’d need to take with us.  The ironic thing is that I actually ended up forgetting the diaper bag with all of Fern’s clothes/diapers/blankets, but did remember to put in pearl earrings.  Craig laughed at me for this, since I did it right in the middle of a contraction, but hey – a girl wants to feel pretty while she’s giving birth!

I was starting to get a little bit frantic during my contractions and had a hard time staying calm, but once we got to the birthing center I felt much more relaxed.  It was like a breath of fresh air, a realization that I was ok now because this is where you have a baby….not on your couch while watching a Blazer game.  We arrived at the birthing center around 6:00 a.m. and I labored in various positions for the next six hours – in the birthing tub, on the birthing stool, standing up while leaning on Craig and even on the toilet (I know it sounds weird, but it was actually kind of perfect).  I tried getting in the bed once, but that was short lived.  It was pretty much the most uncomfortable thing ever and I said that there was no way I was ever getting back in that bed again…and I didn’t.  Whatever position I was in though, I quickly learned that I liked to labor in complete silence (so much for that birth mix I agonized over)…eyes closed with focused breathing.  I didn’t want anyone talking, but I did want Craig to be right there by my side, which he was very diligent about.

Around noon, I started feeling a little defeated.  My contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together – they were still 3-5 minutes apart.  (*Side note – and this is something I didn’t realize before:  the time in between contractions is amazing.  I had read before that I would get “rests” in between contractions, but I figured that it would be kind of like when you stub your toe…after a bit, the immediate pain goes away, but there’s still the slight throbbing of where the pain occurred, but no.  The resting time in between contractions is AMAZING.  In between contractions I felt totally fine…like…as in…the “I can’t possibly be in labor, I’m falling asleep right now” kind of fine).  At the birthing center they don’t do cervical checks unless you specifically ask for them, because the way they see it – it doesn’t really matter how far dilated you are – you’ll have a baby at some point regardless.  But at this point I felt like I needed to have at least a ballpark guess of how much progress I was making, so I asked my midwife to check me, but told her not to tell me a number, just let me know whether I was making progress.  A quick check confirmed that I was almost completely dilated!

Yay!  Now, comes the easy part right?  Everyone always talks about how great the pushing part of labor is, so this should be awesome!  Ummmm…not so much.  The pushing was by far the hardest part for me.  I pushed for about three long, hard hours.  After the first hour, since I wasn’t making much progress, my midwife suggested a bit of directed pushing, which while uncomfortable was incredibly helpful.  Sometime around hour #2 of pushing I started to feel a bit defeated and started questioning my ability to have this baby naturally.  This came out in my laboring.  Before this there was some low (but definitely loud) moaning happening, but by this point there were most assuredly some tears and yelling…screaming even.  I kept saying “I don’t think I can do this!”, to which my midwife replied,“Yes.  You can.  You’re doing it right now.”  Touche.  At one point the tears were flowing and she looked at me and sternly said, “You need to look at me.  Stop crying and focus all of this energy on pushing your baby out.  Crying isn’t going to help you have a baby.”  True story.

 So I kept pushing.  Pretty soon, I was close and my midwife said she could see the baby’s head.  She asked if I wanted to see it in the mirror.  ”NO!!!” I shouted emphatically.  At this point (around 3:00 pm) my water broke.  I was so thankful it didn’t happen earlier since it can help to make labor more comfortable.  Thank you wonderful cushion of amniotic sac!  I was laboring on the birthing stool at this point and they told me that that baby was coming soon and I couldn’t give birth on the stool, so I needed to get into the tub.  At this point I was sort of freaking out and I kept saying I couldn’t make it to the tub (ummm…hello…I have a baby coming out of my vagina and you want me to lift my leg over the side of a giant tub?). They said it was either the tub or hands and knees on the floor.  Craig had to give me a pep talk and then he and my midwives helped me into the tub.  One of my midwives was telling Craig he had time to go change and get into the tub with me, but he declined and it was a good thing too, because literally moments later (at 3:32 p.m.), during my next contraction, Fern was born.  Craig said she “shot out like a torpedo”, which is probably pretty accurate.

As soon as Fern shot out I got that awesome flood of endorphins that I’d read about.  Craig said he’s never seen anyone’s face change so suddenly or dramatically.  He said I looked like I was being tortured one minute and the next minute I looked like I was going to Disneyland – all smiles and bright eyes.  I picked Fern up out of the tub and looked her over and the first thing I said was:

“Wow!  I did that!  That’s bad ass!”

Not the most sentimental first statement after having a baby, but oh-so-true.  I have never in my life felt more empowered than I did at that moment.  I had just birthed a human and I did it without so much as an asprin.  If that’s not bad ass, I don’t know what is.

Fern Winter Hartmann
Born January 15, 2012 @ 3:32 PM
in Portland, OR

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