The night Benjamin was born was such a quiet, bright night.
I stepped out of my vehicle and could see my shadow from the moon. The warm yellow lights spilled through the windows onto the sidewalks, beckoning me inside. Such a peaceful night for a baby to come to the earth!
Walking upstairs, sweet music filled my ears. A chandelier hung in the corner and low lights and hand-colored birth affirmations hung around the room. The midwives busied themselves with preparing the birthing pool and sweetly and quietly checking on Desiree, always with a smile. It truly was the most peaceful and intimate birth I have ever had the honor of documenting.
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what number baby/birth you’re sharing with us.
My husband is in the Navy, and I used to be a teacher before we began our family. Benjamin is our third child, a gender surprise! We also have a 4 year old son, Phoenix, and a 2 year old daughter, Caroline. We have been so blessed to have Joe home for each pregnancy and birth, something many military families have to sacrifice.
What was your due date, and what was your baby’s birth date?
Benjamin's EDD was September 16th, and he was born on the 17th.
What was babies weight and length?
7lbs. 8 oz., 20 inches
What are three words you would choose to describe your birth?
Peaceful... Intimate... Fast!
What did you do to prepare for your labor and birth? Did it help?
I spent a lot of time manifesting what I wanted from this birth while coloring birth affirmations, and I read Orgasmic Birth. I was so busy during this pregnancy with my other children and with my husband's work schedule being hectic, and it was hard to connect with baby during the months before birth. I also felt that since I had been a birth worker for the past few years, I had already done so much work with other women that it was easy to know what I needed to do and where I needed to be to manifest a peaceful, satisfying birth.
What did you like about your birth experience, if anything?
I loved that it was just me and my husband supporting each other. Our midwives and Amber didn't arrive until less than an hour before baby was born, and he took such good care of me; getting our space set up, holding me and laughing with me, supporting me physically in the ways he was sure of after having done this twice before. Even though I am a doula and we had had the support of doulas for our previous two births, we had decided that we were enough for each other this time around, and it gave us such an intimate connection.
What surprised you about your contractions/labor?
This labor pattern was very different from the other two. Phoenix and Caroline's births were very "textbook", with longer stages of early labor. I was expecting a shorter birth as my first was 36hours, second was 18, so I guessed that this one would be about 9... and it was! I also though that transition and pushing would be even faster than last time because we would be staying home instead of transferring to the hospital. With Caroline's birth, everything about labor was peaceful and as "easy" as could be expected, until it was time to leave home. Without that switch, I expected it to be peaceful and without "pain" the whole time.
I was correct in all these things, but labor came on and intensified much more quickly than I'd expected! My contractions were long and very close together after only a few hours, but I could still walk and talk through them. Once they became intense enough that I had to stop and concentrate, we called the midwives and Amber. This time, it was almost as if I could give my body permission to move into the next stage of labor. Each time I willingly moved into a more favorable position, my body would move into a stronger stage. When I decided to move from the bed to the pool, I almost immediately went from transition to pushing. It seemed "too soon", but why hold back? So that went so quickly, too, and before we knew it, there was a sweet baby in our arms.
In reflection, would you do anything differently, either before the birth, during or after?
I probably would have called Amber earlier so she'd have had time to capture even more of the birth! :)
What do you remember the most about the birth?
I remember giving my body permission to do what it needed to do, feeling joy as things were progressing as I had manifested and prayed for, and the intense realization that I was about to have a new child after so long of waiting. I remember how at ease I felt with the midwives and Amber letting themselves into my dim, quiet home and me not having to be anxious about anyone or anything. Everyone was doing just as I asked and needed, and I didn't have to fight for a single thing. That made home-birth worth every ounce of effort, every penny. I remember my husband cooing over my shoulder to our new baby, "Hi, easy one!" and the excitement of discovering he was a boy. I remember being loved on and cared for, and getting a delicious meal and a perfect night's sleep in our own bed.
How was your birth experience different from what you imagined it to be?
We really needed almost nothing! I prepared all the things I thought I'd need from my midwife's list of supplies, and even all of that wasn't necessary. It was SO much easier than giving birth in a hospital, which I had expected and desired, but the actual realization of it was pretty awesome.
How has your perspective of your birth experience with your baby changed since the birth of your first child?
I now know from experience with other mothers, from more extensive research and reading, and from my own subsequent births, how incredibly important those first moments are. I never connect very strongly with my babies during pregnancy, which I know now is normal, and with the first two it took me a little while after they were born to feel that "head over heels in love" feeling, which I know it normal, too. However, with this birth, and with Benjamin, having the incredibly peaceful, intimate experience of a home-birth and having those first precious days postpartum without interruption and the presence of strangers hounding me and my family, allowed me to bond with him and fall in love with him on a whole other level.
What were your immediate emotions about yourself and or your birth experience after the birth?
Relief, amazement, joy... Birth makes me feel like Superwoman... Like I am part of this elite secret club in which I now have a lifetime membership. The power and surrender at the same time is like nothing else. I believe we are so wonderfully Created, and receiving the gift of giving life to our children is one like nothing else.
How would you describe your recovery?
I thought the third time around would be easier as my body knew what to do, but it was so much harder because I had two other children to care for as well. My husband took three weeks off and my mom lives with us and is *so* helpful, knowing just what I need and want, but my body was *so* tired. Every time I thought I had the energy to get out of bed and do something, I would, and then the exhaustion would send me right back. There was never a perfect balance and this was really difficult for me to process and surrender to. However, the fact that I had so much support and was allowed without guilt from anyone else to recover on my own time and terms was invaluable in the healing process.
Did you learn anything about yourself through this experience?
I learned that God is continuously giving me opportunities to learn his lessons of grace and provision. That I have to trust Him to provide for my needs and that I am still having to learn patience with myself and others. It is a constant lesson for me in motherhood, and I am grateful that I have each day anew to continue learning.
Would you recommend having a natural childbirth or medicated childbirth to others?
This is a difficult question for me, because I believe every woman has the right to experience childbirth the way it was designed. There are so many beautiful experiences that are missed out on when we intervene with natural, normal birth. However, I know from working with many mothers how there are things in life that can hinder us from allowing our bodies to do what they were made to do. I would never presume to choose for any other woman what I know was best for *me*, BUT I would recommend that every woman at least *explore* natural childbirth and her options. If she is anxious or unsure of what birthing without medication means, I would implore her to do her research, talk to other mothers openly and honestly about their experiences (of all types of birth), watch videos, and search her own emotions about why she may think she "can't", when, in reality, she most likely "can" and can do so with great joy. If it is her medical team suggesting that she cannot have the unmedicated birth she desires, I would again implore her to get a second opinion.
WHY hire a birth photographer?
There are so many moments in birth that we cannot concentrate on, or that are beautiful when seen from a different perspective. Hiring a birth photographer allowed me to concentrate on what my body and baby were doing, and not if a moment was being documented, because I trusted that it was. It allowed my husband to be fully present with me, knowing that we would be able to re-experience these moments together without him having to capture them himself. I so look forward to getting to watch these videos and pore over these pictures with all my children as they grow and as they get ready to bear their own children one day, reflecting and remembering the beauty in each of their BIRTHdays.
You have a unique perspective of being a doula/birth assistant as well. Could you share some thoughts/advice/words of wisdom of what doula’s do, why should an expecting family hire a doula?
A doula is a constant support, a woman who witnesses another woman during one of the most vulnerable and sacred experiences of her life. Every mother who wants a doula deserves one, but our society has taken away the sacred beauty of birth and placed it in other hands. Doulas help to bring this back to the mother, allowing her to have the emotional support during pregnancy to make the best *informed* choices for her and her family, and to have someone take care of her without leave during labor and birth. The doula then finishes her work by caring for the mother during postpartum, because the experience of becoming a mother does not end with bringing forth a baby. A woman deserves a team of people who will see her as a unique human being with thoughts, feelings, and desires all of which are valid and precious. A doula helps make sure a mother can view her birth as a positive life experience, one she can look back on with joy and pride.
Hi there! This is Amber with Amber DeCicco Photography. I am a photographer specializing in birth photography, as well as wedding photography, lifestyle and documentary family photography. I'd love to work with you! Take a look around my website and contact me if you have any questions or want to set up an appointment.