I got “the call” at 2 am, as it often happens. I was actually awake because the weather was crazy that night and my dog had woken me up to go outside. Stacey wasn’t sure if she was really in labor, but wanted to alert me because she knew that I had a mountain bike race planned for the morning (which ended up getting cancelled because we got almost 3 inches of rain). We agreed she would just keep me posted if things started to pick up. About 10 minutes later she called me back and said her contractions were 2-4 minutes apart, and though she wasn’t uncomfortable, they decided to make their way to the hospital because they lived about an hour away.
I met Stacey and Eric at the hospital around 4:30 am, and it didn’t take long for her labor to pick up speed. She had planned to use hypnobirthing techniques during her labor, and didn’t need a lot of support during active labor. The room was peaceful and quiet, filled with the scent of diffusing lavender, a book of messages to reflect on during labor, and a string of birth flags that had been passed around a circle of women and had made appearances at several births.
After a lap around the hallway, Stacey decided she wanted to get in the tub, and labor continued to quickly intensify. Her two other children had been born in the water, and though she could labor in the tub, she knew this baby would be born on land. Birth is such an intense time emotionally and physically, and having done it a certain way two other times, knowing this birth would be different was weighing heavy on her heart with the unknown at times. She stayed strong and graceful with Eric right by her side, and her birth team reminded her that different is different, but it doesn’t have to be bad. Stacey labored in the tub until she started pushing, and then made it out with about 10 minutes before her baby was born. She tried a couple of different positions while pushing and then decided on being on her hands and knees in the bed. Right as the shoulders came out someone said “look down at your baby”, and she did, and then he was out and went right to her arms. I stayed in the room for a little while, and then ducked out to let them bond before coming back and taking a few more photos.
This birth reminded me that we are often creatures of habit, especially when we are in situations where we are vulnerable, like birth. Yet so often I get the honor of witnessing women rise above the fear and emerge from it victorious, and the birth of Theodore was no exception.