Birth of Our Daughter Cypress

Mariah and I had our first child on 29 July 2010.  Cypress Camille Ervin was born at 6:06 p.m. at the Alaska Family Health & Birth Center.  The experience was truly an amazing one!!  I would suggest all couples wanting a natural birth to go and check it out.  It was very personal and private.  We had been going there for check-ups
and appointments for the last four months of the pregnancy.  The classes and programs they have there are very helpful and informational.  The mid-wives and all the staff are very professional and knowledgeable. Being first time parents we wanted everything to go just perfect and it did!!  We had a water birth and it really helped
in the transition for the baby.  The mid-wives were there to help coach and supervise the labor and delivery.  They did such an awesome job.  I have been in the Army for over 16 years and used to hospitials and they way things are done there.  I was very skittish and kind of reluctant about the "natural birth" and the whole process. 
But let me tell you, it was very relaxing and comforting.  No one was running around, coming in and out of the room screaming.  No one trying to take the baby away from you to some room with 30 other babies.  Everyone was very calm and helpful.  When Cypress was born she did not leave our side for a moment!  Mariah and I held her in our arms the whole time , even during the exam!  We loved the experience and our next child will definitely be a natural birth.  The facility is very clean and accommodating.  We had our own room with a queen size bed and private bathroom and a big birthing tub.  Thank you to everyone at the Alaska Family Health & Birth Center, especially Dana, Cory and Sandy.  The experience was the best we could have ever hoped for.  
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,
Ryan, Mariah and Cypress


Niah's Birth by Marla Statscewich

I think that the story of my daughter’s birth began on the evening of March 5, when my husband, my mother and I went to first Friday and met Kate Parks at the Well’s Street Gallery. Kate, a doula, introduced herself to us when she overheard me talking to another new mom about being a little overdue. She gave us pointers about ways to induce labor, like drinking raspberry tea, eating pineapples and mangos, and getting a rosemary oil foot massage, making sure to press a specific pressure point above my ankle. She even got down on the floor in the gallery to show Hank the special spot.


So, the next morning, Hank made me some tea, a fresh pineapple and mango smoothie, and mixed up a massage oil for me with rosemary essential oil and grapeseed oil. Then, while mom and I played scrabble, Hank gave me an awesome foot massage and pressed on that acupressure point. About an hour later, I started feeling a little cramping but didn’t realize it was the beginning of labor. So, when Hank told us he wanted to go on a bike ride, I gave him the green light. While he was getting ready to go on his ride, I started to notice that the pains were getting stronger and were a little more consistent. Hank timed the contractions at 11:30 and I was 4 minutes apart but both mom and I figured those contractions would get farther apart as the day progressed, so I told Hank to have a good ride. I hopped in the shower and started thinking that maybe I wanted Hank around since the pains were getting stronger and when mom began to time the contractions again, they were one minute apart for about a minute. I called Hank about a half hour into his ride and asked him to come home. When I lost my mucus plug, we called the midwives to let them know I was truly in labor and that the contractions were pretty consistent (contractions stayed 1 minute apart for over an hour). Dana assured us that everyone was different and that we should call her when we were ready to go to the center.


I labored at home for about 4 hours. Mom and Hank helped me get through my contractions (which stretched to about 4 minutes apart, with a less painful one at 2 min) by massaging my head and my back. Hank packed up the car, made some sandwiches and did his best to make me comfortable, all the while he was hiding his anxious feelings about the labor. About 3:30, I decided it was time to go to the birthing center, mostly because I was feeling really cold and was looking forward to getting into a warm bath tub. Dana, Portia and Cori met us at 4pm and I was really thankful that my contractions slowed a little on the car ride there. Since I was the only giving birth that day, I got to choose the room I wanted and the “ocean room” appealed to me most. Around 5pm, they checked me while the hot water was filling up the tub and told me I was 3 cm dilated.


I must admit, most of the next 5 hours are kind of a blur. I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, focusing on my contractions as they got more and more intense. Soaking in the tub while my mother or Hank poured hot water on my back was so soothing and having the midwives nearby to answer questions or offer up suggestions was reassuring. After the tub, I labored on my knees with my head on the bed then climbed into bed on my side for a while. Guess I was drinking a little too much water, because after one really strong contraction, I lost my cookies. Good thing mom was so on the ball and got me a garbage can in time. I am GBS+ so needed to get an IV of penicillin to help protect Niah from contracting this potentially dangerous bacteria. Dana timed it perfectly so I only needed one dose (you get a dose every four hours) and while she was finding a good vein, I listened to the sounds of crashing waves on a beach, drank sips of water from my camelback and inhaled lavender from my eye pillow (the lights were bright while she was getting my IV started so it was nice to have something to block out the light).


After the antibiotic was administered, I think that was around 7pm, I went back in the tub to get warm again. I was having the urge to push and mom let the midwives know. They said I should follow my instincts and do what felt right. During one of the contractions, I felt a pop and Portia showed up with a flashlight to check the color of the water and they all agreed that my water broke...good place for that to happen. Also while in the tub, I peed and then felt a little disturbed by being in the water with my pee (funny that the amniotic fluid didn’t bother me) but Dana assured me that pee was sterile so I should stay in the tub as long as I liked. But I decided to get out a few contractions later and then I labored on the bed for a while.


I know that mom was at my head, Hank was on one foot, Cori on the other. I was fully dilated (although I don’t remember knowing that at the time) and Cori felt a ‘lip’ on my cervix. Dana directed her to smooth out the lip during one of my contractions and once it was gone, I was given the go ahead to get the baby out. Dana suggested I either slide down in bed and hold my knees to ‘bear down’ or get on the birthing stool. Well, I couldn’t quite fathom doing crunches after so many hours of labor so opted for the birthing stool and gravity. I think I had about 8-10 uber-strong contractions on the stool before Niah was born. I was a little concerned because my contractions seemed to finally go further apart and I wondered if my labor was slowing down. The midwives let me know that it was normal for pain to get further apart so I could rest in between. Mom was at my back, pushing on my sacrum every time I had pain (which helped to take my mind off the pain) and Hank stool in front of me, rubbing my head and shoulders. I looked at the mirror positioned below me when her head was just crowning but was afraid to look again for fear that she hadn’t moved as much as it felt like she should have. Mom peaked over my shoulder and saw a tuft of hair as her head was squeezed out. Hank got in ‘catchers’ position at 10:30 and after one more big push, Niah slipped out into his hands.


She looked strange to me because her head was so elongated and a little blue but her body was really pink and after Dana cleared her airway, she started crying and became pink all over under a layer of sticky vernix. They rested her on my chest right away and she stayed there for about 45 minutes still attached to me via the umbilical cord. I wasn’t having contractions anymore (or at least I couldn’t tell that I was) so I wasn’t able to push out the placenta. Hank cut the cord to help encourage contractions but still, no deal. Dana told me she was going to give me a shot of pitocin to get contractions going again so I could deliver the afterbirth. I thought she was kidding...I had my baby without drugs, I didn’t want them afterwards. I asked for a few more minutes, handed Niah over to Hank and got back on the birthing stool. Portia pushed on an acupressure point on my pinky toe and I felt a contraction come on. Mom pushed on my sacrum again and the placenta plopped out into a was much bigger than I imagined and I was glad it was gone so I could spend some more time with my baby.


She latched on almost immediately and I was happy she was such a pro at suckling. Then Dana stitched me up while explaining what she what she was doing to Cori and Portia and Hank held my hand. Mom held onto Niah while she snored softly in her arms. After the stitches, I tried to pee, which was pretty difficult...must have taken me 10 minutes to empty my bladder. Around 2:30am the midwives began their evaluation, checking her ears, eyes, hands, shoulders, hips etc. We were taking guesses on her weight and Portia’s guess of 8 lb 4 oz was the closest...she was 8 lbs, 5 oz and 21 ½ inches and had a full head of hair. It was 3 am by the time we were ready for bed and Hank asked if he should go warm up the car. Apparently, it wasn't in his plan to stay the night but I assured him, I was not getting in the car that night. I had a difficult time falling asleep because I couldn’t stop watching her, holding her little hand in mine and imaging that just a few hours before, she was inside me. Amazing what the body can do and how much love a person can feel for another after only meeting for a few minutes.


Hillary Addison's Homebirth Video Story Link

Watch Hillary's beautiful home waterbirth.



My Halloween Birth by Maïté Agopian

During my whole pregnancy, people were wondering if I was expecting twins, as my belly seemed so huge to everybody! I must admit that 3 weeks before the official due date I felt more than ready to give birth. I couldn’t do much around anyway. A week before my due date I felt an awful pain on the right side of my pelvic bone. I couldn’t stand or move and I did feel some cramps during the night, but I slept through them. In the early morning the pain was gone but I woke up with a terrible headache (the first since the beginning of my pregnancy) which lasted the whole day. After these 2 days of pain, I felt very tired and felt as if my body couldn’t bare this pregnancy anymore. During the weekly checking at the birth center, the midwives told me I was a good 2 cm dilated, 80% effacement and that the baby head was at « 0 ». What a good news! We got out so happy and certain the day of birth was going to happen during the next few days.

Two days later I called the midwives at 9pm as I had some regular contractions…but soon after the call, everything stopped. I couldn’t believe it! I was so disappointed, and moreover nothing happened during the whole week!!! The due date came..nothing…a week later, the midwifes advised me to go and see the chiropractitioner next door to the birth center. As I went for a check-up we found out that my pelvic bone was desaxed and that probably my body didn’t want to work further to avoid an excess of pain (as it already happened for the first 2 cm!). The chiro worked on me and gave me some simple exercise to do. On the same evening I felt some cramps again, as if my body could work again! But still nothing more happened. I became anxious of going to the hospital if I was too much overdue…9 days after my due date I went to see the midwives again. I was 5 cm dilated! But this time I didn’t want to feel too happy about it…even if I felt that my belly was more tense during the whole day. During the afternoon, I felt tired, took a nap. Later on, we cooked dinner, ate, and again felt tired and went to bed at 8pm. But an hour later I felt uncomfortable lying down. I joined Patrick, my husband who was starting a movie. But I couldn’t sit, it didn’t feel right. As I would lean against the chair, or the wall while I felt some cramps, I realized it wasn’t time to watch a movie. Patrick got everything ready in case it was not a false alarm this time. At 11pm I asked him to call the midwives, as this time I knew it was the real contraction, and that soon I wouldn’t be able to go in the car, or move anywhere.
I always imagined that when the time would come, I would be frightened, at least a little bit. But it was not the case. I was actually happy and excited to meet the little one...I just had to do one thing to make this moment happen, and it was all in my hands now, nobody was able to do it for me!

I already couldn’t sit in the car and I remember thinking that the way seemed much longer than usual as I tried not to throw out in the car! We arrived at the birth center at 12.30 am and things really started right away. I started to throw out all our supper. I was 7 cm dilated, and I directly asked to go in the bath tub as the contraction became stronger and stronger.

I entered the bath tub and time collapsed. I started to focus and to concentrate on everything my body was telling me. I tried to relax every time I could, and as the contractions came, I welcomed them, knowing there were there on purpose and that every time they would bring me closer to the delivering. As they came and became so powerful I saw myself in a cotton world, surrounded by smoothness and comfort while on the same time I was riding on a big wave. I would follow the wave wherever it went, but I was always above it, dominating it like a knight going to battle. And every time I had to be ready, to concentrate, to see it coming and to prepare myself for the big ride or elsewhere I would drown in pain. In order to stay focus all this time I needed to stay in my cotton bubble. I couldn’t bare any talk, nor massages (which I thought before, I would want them, as I never say no to a massage!). I just desperately needed Patrick’s hand for me to squeeze as hard as I could during every contractions! And for a long time it was just Patrick and me, all alone in this room.

Katie and Vanessa, the two midwives who helped me during my labor, asked me twice to go out of the tube, to get new fresh water, to take my vitals and to get the gravity help a little. It was so much harder out of the water. I was too heavy, even sitting on the toilet would hurt my legs after no time. But there I lost my water and right away I felt the need to push. What a good feeling, actually, like I was able to push my pain away, and in my mind, I was getting closer. But it lasted, and lasted. I didn’t rush, I didn’t want to push for nothing. I could feel my baby starting his movement and I just had to help him, to push for him, to open my body for him. I could feel it so clearly. And it hurt, and I was yelling like a bear. After each big push, Katie would just listen to my baby heartbeat, and he was calm, ha was working hard, but could rest also in between, take some more energy and go again, and again, and again. That’s when I went out for the second time. I could feel right away that the gravity was helping, but it was so painful and I couldn’t concentrate the same way. So I went back in the water and stayed on my knee, grabbing Patrick’s hand, who was right in front of me outside the tube. I didn’t want him to leave me, even to go to the bathroom was terrible for me, I needed him to be there right next to me. And I got tired. I felt I needed energy, I needed sugar. I remember asking Patrick to bring me a honey tube to suck on, and there he wouldn’t move, until I realized that no sound came out of my mouth. But eventually I was able to just put out some words to get what I needed. And it helped me, it gave me the energy I was losing. And so I pushed more and more and more, but still I couldn’t feel my baby.

At that point I had a choice. The pain was such that I knew I could freak out, and stop pushing, and I could see me and my body refusing to go further. But I knew what it would mean: a longer labor, having to move to the car, go to the hospital that we never even visited before, and starting all over again. Or, I could do it, push more, put my body in more pain, and be finish with it. I had the choice, I could do it, and I got angry. I wanted to be over, I wanted this baby to be pushed, I wanted the pain to be behind me. And this anger gave me strength. And there it happens, after one push I could finally feel his hair on the top of his head!!! What an amazing moment. I could touch him, I could feel him, he was almost there. This gave me so much strength! There I knew he was able to go through, and that soon I would see this baby and know who he was. And it burned, badly, terribly, but I pushed, and I thought my whole vagina was tearing apart, until the head came out. I got a little moment of panic. His head was under the water, how come the body was not out yet. I still had to push out the shoulder when I thought that once the head was out the rest was just following …the time between these two pushes felt like a very long time. Were the midwives ready? I was on my knee, could they see him, would they help me to take him out of the water? What if he would drown on the bottom of the bathtub?
And the pain stopped. He slipped out of me. What a good feeling, what an enjoyable moment. I took him out of the water, Patrick helped me to sit and to lean my back against the wall of the tub, and here he was, this little body lying on me. Vanessa told me afterwards that she saw how he had his eyes open in the water and was turning his body towards me. He did not cry, he coughed a little bit, to get some liquid out of his mouth, and that was it. What a beautiful boy. He made it, we made it. It took us 7 hours, 3 hours of pushing. It was the morning of Halloween.

I don’t know how long I stayed in the water. Patrick cut the umbilical cord and after a while they helped me to reach the bed, where I had to push the placenta out. That was too much. They couldn’t ask me to push again, I couldn’t do it, I had my baby, I did what I needed to do, and that was enough. But they made me push, Patrick helped me to concentrate one more time. After that, the midwives let us three alone for the entire morning. I remember the rest, the nice breakfast they brought us, the phone calls to our family back home, I remember never wanted to leave this beautiful room. When they came later on, they gently measured and weight our son. 10.7 pounds and no stitches necessary for the little tearing I had!

I would have never done it naturally, if anybody would have told me before he was such a big baby. All this night, I thought I was giving birth to a 8-something pounds baby, I this I knew I was able to do it. And I wouldn’t have done it like this if I hadn’t taken the hypno-birthing class the midwives suggested me to take. It gave me the trust I needed, but also the capacity to relax and concentrate on my body and on my baby.

Giving birth is not only the delivery. There is the preparation of course, but also what happen the next few days when our body and probably our mind, too, has to recover from this intense experience. That is why I want to write a few more words about the next few days.

If the tearing was small the swelling was important and my pelvic bone was badly hurting. I almost fainted the first time I tried to get up, but by the end of the day I could just move enough to get slowly in the car and reach my bed back home. If it was hard to move, once I was in my bed, in my house, with just my husband and our son, with no one to disturb us, I was happy we did it this way. I felt so strong the first few days. I felt I could climb any mountain, bare any pain, I felt so powerful, and moreover I felt so confident about my son and our future altogether. We were helping each other so much during the labor that I knew we could just continue to trust each other and this feeling helped me a lot to start our relationship. Still, I didn’t left my bed during 10 days as my body was recovering. 10 days while Patrick did everything for me and Basile, while friends came to bring us food, and we got flowers delivered. I cried from happiness and from tiredness, I felt overwhelmed by all kind of feelings. It was just a time I would never ever forget, a time I can rely on whenever I feel a lack of self-confidence.