It all started with a bowl of spicy Baby A’s copycat Tortilla soup…
There is an old wives’ tale that spicy food induces labor. Well, in this case it proved to be true. Your Daddy and Mommy had indulged in some spicy tortilla soup for dinner on the evening of September 17th. After dinner and a few of their favorite TV shows, it was bedtime. Your Daddy easily fell asleep at 11:30pm, but Mommy couldn’t fall asleep, and kept feeling a trickle leaking out. She went to the restroom and saw blood. She remained super calm, because being a first time mom, obviously there was plenty of time. So, she let your father sleep and went downstairs to google early labor signs to ensure she wasn’t imagining that she was in the ‘early’ labor stages. She texted your Nai Nai, because she knew Nai Nai would be up, as it was 5:00pm in Singapore. Nai Nai reminded her to practice breathing, stay calm, and maybe take a shower. Mommy stayed downstairs, bounced on the yoga ball and continued to distract herself. She started to feel some contractions but they were so mild and almost unnoticeable. Mommy decided she should take a shower while she could, and try to relax. While in the shower, your Daddy woke up, very confused. Mommy told him she had started labor but that they had plenty of time. At this time it was about 2:30am. Mommy told Daddy what was going on with her water breaking, the blood, etc and he wanted to call the Midwife to confirm if they should go to the hospital. They called the Midwife line and got a hold of Molly. Honestly, she was not very helpful and kept yawning on the phone. They told her Mommy’s symptoms and Molly just kept saying it was up to us if they wanted to come in or stay at home. After they hung up, Mommy told your Daddy, they should go to the hospital. She wanted to be sent home rather than give birth in the bathroom at home. So, at about 3:15 or so, they headed to the hospital.
At this point contractions were really coming on strong. Mommy kept my eyes closed throughout the whole drive and just kept breathing. It was a dark and rainy drive, but your Daddy was cautious and calm (at least it appeared that way). He pulled into the drop off at the hospital and Mommy slowly got out of the car and walked inside while he parked. She was walking extremely slow and fighting through contractions. She nodded at the security guard and he smiled as she waddled to the elevators. She couldn’t keep walking so she took a break on the wall and breathed through another tough contraction. She waited for your Daddy and they took the elevator up together.
They checked themselves in at triage. Mommy changed into a gown and the nurse checked her cervix. The nurse said “I don’t feel a cervix”, to which Mommy replied, “what does that mean?”. And she and your dad said “that means you’re fully dilated and it’s time to push.” Typically, labor does not excel that quickly for a first time mom, but alas you were ready to come out!
They wheeled Mommy to the delivery room and Molly met them there, along with another nurse. Molly tried to coach Mommy on how to push, but was not very successful. Thank God, that at that moment, there was a shift change and our Midwife Christina stepped in, along with the most amazing nurse, Trisha. Christina was instrumental in getting you to come out. Mommy was pushing for 3 hours with no medication, however, Christina noticed that Mommy’s contractions were not strong enough; basically the uterus was not working as hard as Mommy was to push you out. Christina suggested Pitocin to increase the intensity. Mommy was so out of it that she barely understood what Christina was asking, but praise God your dad was there to ask the right questions and help Mommy to answer “Yes”. They offered Mommy an epidural many times but she was too out of it to even say “Yes” or “No”.
About 20 minutes after the Pitocin, contractions increased dramatically. Christian coached Mommy on breathing and when to push. It was around 8:30am when the Pitocin kicked in and Mommy pushed for another 45 minutes, getting more tired by the second. But Mommy looked at the clock at 9:15am, and told herself, “I am going to get my son out and I am going to meet him at 9:30am”. Sure enough, just when she thought she could push no more, completely giving up and crying uncontrollably, she heard “Ashlee! Open your eyes, grab your baby!”. And there you were, in her arms at exactly 9:28am. Praise the Lord, everything about you was healthy, Mommy was safe, and Daddy was there as our rock. On September 18th at 9:28am, 6 days before the due date, Caleb Jia (Lu) Kwong entered the world and they became a family; #ThreebecomeKwong.
Posted October 16, 2019
Thank you for your blessings and teachings! Our nugget arrived 2 weeks early. 2 days before labor baby was positioned transverse! :/ Dr wanted to manually reposition baby but baby had other plans. Everyone told me not to worry because we still have time. However, we learned later we really don’t. Thanks to you I applied the cat/cow pose during my contractions. Baby’s head dropped to the correct position. 🙂 See belly photo attached. I was admitted 6cm, baby arrived at 6pm and weighed 6 lbs. Baby arrived on 4/4 total 4hrs at the hospital. In addition to my hypnobirth breathings, I remembered how you told me to breath towards the baby and breath out the pain…. when I can no longer think straight due to all the intense contractions I remembered and took those breaths because it was soo easy. I am grateful for you and your class:)
M.P. & BEBE A.P.
Posted April 18, 2019
Throughout pregnancy, I often thought that my baby would be born early. During one appointment with my midwives, I told them that I had a feeling that my baby would come early, and they responded that many of their clients “had a feeling” that their baby would come early. Some babies do, most don’t. Statistically, first babies are born after their due date.
On the evening of August 27, 2018, I was 37 weeks + 2 days pregnant. I wasn’t quite ready to have the baby. My mom hadn’t arrived from Toronto to be with me during labor, birth, and beyond. My partner, Joel, hadn’t moved the baby’s dresser downstairs from the attic, or set up the co-sleeper beside our bed, or installed the car seat. Joel and I hadn’t re-read our favorite birth book, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.
I went to bed around 9pm and noticed that the Braxton-Hicks contractions that I’d been experiencing since around 30 weeks were happening frequently. I was tossing and turning and couldn’t get to sleep, though this had become a familiar occurrence in late pregnancy. I moved out to the sofa around midnight so Joel could sleep without my tossing and turning.
At around 1am, I got up to pee and felt something slide out of me. I turned on the lamp and it was a blood clot, larger than a quarter in diameter. As I walked to the bedroom to wake up Joel, I noticed I was dripping fluid tinged with pink.
I informed Joel that I thought my water was breaking and he responded, “Really?” and continued to sleep. But not for long! I told him to get up. I wanted him to call one of our midwives but he wanted to time some contractions first. They no longer felt like Braxton-Hicks; they were much stronger and I got down on the ground on my hands and knees. After a few contractions I decided a distraction would be nice and we embarked on a walk with our dog, Roshi.
When a contraction came on, it required most of my focus. I stood still and bent halfway forward with my hands on my thighs during them. After about fifteen minutes of walking and breaking for contractions, I convinced Joel to call our midwife, Silke. She said to call her when we got to 4-1-1 with the contractions (four minutes or less apart; one minute or more in length; for one hour or more). She was glad we were out for a walk, but also suggested that we go home and try to sleep, or at least Joel could sleep and I could try a bath.
We came home and did just that. Joel drew me a bath, I got in, and he went to sleep. I labored in the tub for about an hour. Then I came to the sofa and labored some more. They felt quite intense and I began moaning and letting out a holler during contractions. In between I would fall halfway asleep, and wake up to the very beginning of another contraction. I found a website that helped time the length of contractions and the time in between contractions. Eventually, around 6am, my contractions were 4-1-1.
I woke up Joel and he called Silke. She said the other midwife and the apprentice midwife (both of whom had attended our prenatal appointments) would be over within an hour, and she would follow shortly after.
I asked Joel to draw me a fresh bath and I was in the tub when the two midwives, Kim and Caley, arrived. I was extremely inwardly focused and was not interested in connecting with Joel or my midwives. Eventually I got out of the tub and had my cervix checked. Kim said I was at least 6cm. I labored on the floor on hands and knees (on my dog’s bed!) and with my knees on the floor and my upper body resting over my bed, for a while. Then I got in the big birth tub that Kim and Caley had brought and set up.
At one point, Silke encouraged me by saying how well I seemed to be coping with contractions. She added that I could let her know if talking wasn’t helpful. I responded, “I don’t think talking is helpful.” Out with manners! Every time Joel would touch me, I would say, “No touch.” At this point, expressing a complete sentence was a waste of energy. I was resting and sometimes dozing in between contractions. At one point I found myself in agony and fear, and I looked around the room. I saw Joel and Kim talking quietly in the other room. Silke was sitting near the tub and I think she gave me a soft smile. During prenatal yoga class, Carol had reminded us many times to bring four things to our birth: great faith, great doubt, great determination, and great love. This was my favorite thing to have learned in prenatal yoga, and I had been reminding myself of these four assets all throughout pregnancy. I realized I was in a moment of great doubt. Giving birth is hard! I remembered that all was normal.
Silke asked me to get out of the tub to see what gravity could do for me, and so she could do another check of my cervix. I didn’t want to move and it took me about fifteen minutes to make my way out of the tub. Staying mostly still felt better than moving. Silke said she would like to keep her fingers inserted through a contraction so she could be certain of what was going on. I was extremely resistant to this idea. She told me she thought it would really help, and asked why I didn’t want it. I said that I didn’t want it to hurt more than it already did. She said that she was going to be honest and tell me something I didn’t want to hear: it was going to hurt more before I would have my baby, but then it wouldn’t hurt anymore, and I’d be able to sleep. She was right, I didn’t want to hear it, but on the other hand I felt a little more prepared.
Eventually I agreed to the cervix check. When she was done she announced that I was fully dilated and ready to push. I responded that I didn’t want to push! Finally I agreed that I would have to try to push this baby out. I didn’t think I knew how to push and I wasn’t getting an urge, so I sat on the toilet and Silke put a finger in me and told me to press into it. It was exactly like pushing poop. I sat and pushed on the toilet for a while. Then I moved to my living room, just inside the threshold of my front door. I got down on hands and knees and pushed for a while. At one point I said I couldn’t do it, and Joel said, “You ARE DOING it!” I could hear his excitement. I asked if I could change positions and Silke said that sounded great and asked what position I was thinking of. I said the side lying malasana (side lying squat). She liked that idea and I moved into it and resumed pushing. Silke would coach me on every push, and sometimes Kim or Silke would coach me between pushes. I didn’t like pushing and was resisting going into the pain, so I needed to hear, “Push more, Push even more, Bring your baby down, Bring your baby down even more, Keep bringing your baby down, Don’t let your baby slide back up, Keep your baby down, Can you push even a little more, Even more,Let your baby fill your vagina, Let your vagina expand.” My midwives were calm but firm.
They asked if I would like to feel the baby as the head was so close. I recoiled in fear and said no, but Silke said she thought it would help me to feel how close my baby was to being out, so I felt. Baby was right there, mere centimeters away! Somebody asked if I’d like to look in the mirror. I again recoiled in revulsion and said no, and this time we left it at that.
Eventually they said I was really close to getting the whole head out. I asked if they thought it would be the next contraction, and Silke responded probably not, but maybe in a few more. On the next contraction I pushed, kept pushing, pushed even more, and brought my baby’s whole head out. (I found out after the birth that my baby’s little paw and a part of the cord also came out with her head.) A few more contractions went by. Then Silke said I would have to really try to bring my baby all the way out as soon as possible. On the next contraction, just like before when I brought the head out, I pushed and kept pushing, pushed even more, kept on pushing, and eventually I felt my baby’s whole body slither and slide out. I did it! I’d had my baby! I lay back and cried with all the emotions in the universe. All the fear, all the pain, all the joy and love and determination and trust and knowledge and uncertainty and effort I had brought to this process. I had succeeded! I had had my baby! This moment of crying was purely for myself, pure self-devotion, self-love, pure respect for my process.
Then I sat up and lifted my baby off the little medical pads she had been placed on to await me. I held her to my body and lay back down in complete awe and appreciation. She was my baby, she was perfect, and I was completely transformed into a mama.
Sarah Danielle Brock was born at 12:19pm on 08/28/18, after approximately twelve hours of labor. She weighed 8lbs, 12oz (glad she came 2.5 weeks early!).
Posted November 5, 2018
Oliver Milo Read born Oct 14th, 2.47. 6lbs 10 oz
I was hoping for a natural childbirth and I wanted to carry my baby at least to term, hoping he’d come out on his own, despite my OB advising me to induce at 39 weeks. (due to my age, I’m 43!)
However at a routine check up on Oct 10th (39 weeks and 3 days,) it was discovered that the fluid levels in my uterus were on the low side and my OB was worried it could be a sign of a deteriorating placenta and sent me to the hospital for an induction.
They tried a number of things, all the different drugs and a foley balloon, my cervix just wasn’t responding! Fortunately Little Ollie’s heart rate remained constant and strong throughout. On Saturday it was decided to try much larger doses of pitocin to try to get things moving that way. I asked to be unhooked from the monitors for a short time and I went for an Indian curry with my Doula for lunch, a break from the hospital room and food was much needed! After that, Saturday afternoon I started the pitocin and by late evening my contractions were strong and regular. I used the positions and breathing I had learned in Yoga, and tried hard to relax and rest in-between contractions. After about 6 hours I decided they were too much and elected for an epidural. I had not intended to do this but in the end I was thankful for the pain relief, I was even able to get a little sleep.
Late Sunday morning my cervix had finally opened up and my waters broke on their own. Once I started pushing he came quickly, in an hour and a half. There were some scary moments as his heart rate dropped with the contractions, the nurses propped me up onto my hands and knees and gave my oxygen to breath between contractions. I concentrated hard to relaxing and breathing and thankfully these things seems to do the trick. I know an emergency cesarean was being considered and I am happy that it didn’t come to this and I managed to deliver him vaginally. I am grateful to the amazing nurses at Good Sam who took care of us as well as the support I received from my Husband and Doula that helped make this possible. He is now a happy, healthy little thing, putting weight on a rapid rate!
Posted November 4, 2018
Friday I had a fun day with a friend. Came home and listened to one of my relaxation recordings from hypnobirthing and took a 90 min nap.
Ate dinner then worked on my knitting. Was having trouble focusing from what I thought was early contractions but didn’t tell my husband because I knew that could go on for days.
Around 10 I suggested we get to bed.
I could not focus on the novel I was reading. Decided to start timing contractions from 10:23 pm because they felt really close together. They were coming every 2-3 mins and lasting at least a minute already.
We called the midwife at 10:45. She suggested I take a shower or bath and see if things kept up as they were. They did. We called her back around 11:30 as things were getting more intense and she told us to meet her at the birth center.
We called my friend/doula to meet us. Called the parents. Left just before midnight. Took about 20 minutes (of hell – being strapped into a car in labor is the worst) to get there.
Midwife met us at the door around 12:30. When she checked me I was already 7 cm (!!) and my water hadn’t broken yet. I had another three hours of intensity, including some time in the tub, standing, on the bed, and ultimately hands and knees on the floor where I pushed baby out at 3:32 A.M.! Didn’t need forceful or directed pushing. Just listened to my body and went with it. Was kind of like the urge to vomit. But x1000000.
Staring at my husband during contractions helped keep me focused. I yelled the F word a lot. I didn’t let it bother me that pushing can also mean pooping. My support people were amazing.
Baby was in great shape right away. They waited to have dad cut the cord until it was done pulsating. Placenta came no problem. I tore a bit so the midwife sewed me up while I was holding baby.
They fed me a snack and tucked us all in for a nap around 5:30. We snoozed with baby swaddled safely between us. Woke around 8:30 and ordered more food. Had vitals checked and went over discharge instructions and got baby diapered, dressed and in the car seat. We left the birth center at 12:30. Just 12 hours there total!
Posted November 2, 2018
Edith was born at 9 pm after almost 24 hours of labor and an hour of pushing. Our birth did not go as planned and I was ready for the unexpected. One of the things I focused on in the last trimester was letting go and remembering that at the end of the journey you meet your child, no matter what the steps on the path look like.
At our 38 week check up my blood pressure was climbing up and up so we went from a simple check in straight to the labor and delivery wing.
My labor desires were to have a lot of movement and freedom and to labor with my doula at home-most of that flew out the window. I struggled with being connected to the monitors and tried to walk around the halls but being tethered made that difficult. I finally found peace and motion on the yoga ball. The breathing work we did in class stayed with me and was there when I needed it most. I also clearly remember having a wave of fear and concern (and nausea) when I hit the complete stage and learned it was time to push, along with those emotions a subtle excitement and connectivity was there and I could hear Carol’s voice saying 360,000 other women are experiencing birth now and I was comforted to be on the team as I rotated to a side lying squat to try and open my pelvis just a little bit wider. I was able to listen to my body and my babies needs and that hour was slow and steady and focused and out came baby in what seemed like only minutes (not the hour I heard later) having Edith placed on my chest and sharing the moment with Dustin was the best feeling in the world.
MamaSpace Yoga was with me the entire journey and supported such a healthy pregnancy and delivery. I am so grateful to have experienced the gift of guidance in yoga and community and look forward to continuing on in the 4th trimester with CST work.
Posted September 26, 2018
Baby Graham was born on July 2nd (Monday) and we couldn’t be more in love! On June 29th (Friday) I started having contractions about every hour or less but was only dilated to a 1. On Saturday they started increasing and were about 10 minutes apart most of the day. I started doing lots of goddess pose when I felt good and then a lot of cat/cows when I was going through a hard contraction. The relief on my back during cat/cows definitely helped the pressure and pain. Sunday morning I was down to about 5 minutes apart and decided to go to mama space for a class and some zen because I figured it was the day! I contracted through class but yoga was a wonderful distraction so I continued to do as many comfortable poses I could at home that day before my contractions were finally down to 4 minutes apart for over an hour. We went to the hospital and I was only dilated to a 1 and was sent home. I spent the whole night up having contractions and trying to do as many cat/cows as I could and hip opening stretches to move the baby down! By Monday morning my contractions were about 2 minutes apart and I went back to the hospital. At 9 AM I was dilated to a 4, by 12 I was dilated to a 6 and at this point I asked for an epidural because I hadn’t slept in 48 hours or hardly eaten. My water broke after the epidural and by 2 PM I was dilated to a 10!
I pushed for about an hour and Graham was born. I saw his head and the tops of his shoulders starting to come out and out of nowhere I sat up, bent over and pulled him out myself and placed him on my chest. Labor and birthing was a magical experience and having the strength and flexibility to pull him out myself was the icing on the cake.
He’s perfect and so far recovery has been a lot more painless than I ever imagined. I was lucky to have a safe and healthy delivery but I also think a lot of it is due to staying strong and healthy throughout pregnancy by walking and attending mama space yoga classes. I will definitely be returning during my next pregnancy! Thank you, Carol.
Posted July 9, 2018
I’m new to Portland and don’t have much of a support network here. I saw Carol’s website and thought I’d give it a go! I’ve spoken to some people since that said they were skeptical about how good it would be because it was free…I had a bit of that but not enough to stop me going and boy am I glad that I went. It was my little oasis during the pregnancy, a place of being with other pregnant ladies, sharing our needs and desires at different stages of the pregnancy supported by a lady that I can only speak of as a mama-guru, she imparts knowledge, support and calm in each of her sessions. I’d come away feeling like I’d had a day in a spa while knowing I had done some good work to prep me for labor.
When my labor did happen it took the four words Carol spoke of us needing and put it to the test!!!Fear, doubt, determination and love. I had a baby that was sunny side up and low for a while before delivery and she seemed happy to stay that way!!So my aims towards the end of my yoga sessions were about making as much space for her to do her thing as possible.
In the end we had a 60 hour labor including 5 hours pushing. I felt great up until the very end though-I was using my yoga positions and to the amazement of the nurses was strong enough to cat cow with an epidural. Ive a petite frame weighing 110lbs pre pregnancy but delivered a baby that was close to 8lbs in the op (sunny side up) position with brow as presenting part… I somehow came away with first degree tears. The doctors and nurses were behaving like this was a great feat, but to be honest after all the work with Carol I felt strong and able…it didn’t feel that way. We initially got a fright with a stunned baby but thankfully she seems to be doing very well now.
I can’t recommend this enough, nor can I thank Carol enough for all of those days where I came to yoga and was greeted in such a friendly mama-loving environment and given the instruction and freedom to safely explore what felt best for me and my body at that time-learning to tune in to my own body (not just follow an instructor’s pattern) and to safely stretch and strengthen.
With great love and appreciation,
Caroline, Conor and baby Saoirse
Posted July 7, 2018
Finn Isaac entered our lives on February 3, 2018, weighing 7 lb 10 oz. His birth was fast and furious after many days of waiting: 4 hours from the start of counting contractions to when he was placed on my chest. Faster than what this first-time mama expected, but I had been in early labor with very little discomfort for the 2+ weeks leading up to his birth. I am thankful for having an active pregnancy that allowed me to birth this busy baby. My midwife arrived at our house and found me lunging with one leg propped on the side of the bathtub with each contraction, despite no labor stall in sight! This baby chose to come down the skeleton track (sans helmet!) giving us a bit of scare. His heartrate dipped after my waters broke, so we decided that the safest place to give birth would be the hospital. After arriving at the hospital, I gave birth within 10 minutes in a side-lying squat position with 4 mighty pushes (channeling all the strength I’ve ever gathered). Keep having your class do their bridge poses at the end of class, I had to transfer between beds multiple times during the course of birth and following and was able to lift my bottom in bridge pose each time when asked. Everyone is healthy and we were able to come home within 24 hours of birth, where we’ve been cozily tucked in together. Finn is a marvelous baby and we are so thankful to be his parents. We feel like we had a successful home birth experience that included a medically appropriate hospital transfer, allowing me to safely have a vaginal birth to a beautifully perfect baby.
Posted February 17, 2018
Our baby girl arrived this morning at 4:12 am after 6 hours of labor. I can’t thank you enough for all of your help and guidance. I stood during the whole labor and delivery…a position I only realized was possible because of you!!! All the people helping with the delivery kept saying it looked like I knew what I was doing…and I kept saying I am only practicing what you taught me. Thank you for helping me through this amazing life changing experience.
With joy and endless gratitude…
Posted January 25, 2018
I just thought you’d be interested to hear that after prenatal yoga on Sunday, our little guy had a very active night of movements. I could feel his little hand down by his head keep moving and it felt like he was trying to turn around. Then on Monday, my husband and I were feeling my belly to see where baby was and I thought I felt the spine along my left side but wasn’t sure about his placement. Today at my midwifery appointment, she confirmed that little guy is no longer posterior and now has his back along my left side with legs over on the right.
I really feel like the prenatal classes have been so beneficial in encouraging baby to keep moving into all sorts of good positions and having space to do so. Just thought I’d report our progress and a big thank you for the body awareness and movement that’s been added to my pregnancy by being a part of your classes.
This little guy also turned head down while I was driving home following a yoga class at 27 weeks, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a yoga class also helps labor begin at some point this month.
Posted January 3, 2018
I went into labor Sunday night after yoga and a perfect date night with my husband. We chose his name during dinner and boom, 11pm my water broke. With my first, it was an explosive break right before she came out, so this time, I was not even 100% sure if I had imagined the feeling at first… like a tiny water balloon popping. But then when I moved, I knew for sure. Labor was fast and furious. I remember thinking about you saying: now, immediately find your standing savasana. Especially at the end when pushing contractions were intense. I gave birth in a supported child’s pose, with my husband as the bolster.
Posted October 28, 2017
All those squats and child’s poses prepped my legs for multiple hours of squatting. Thank you for that. And for being my calm space while pregnant. I will really miss your classes. Any chance you’re going to start a baby and me or postpartum class? I would pay!! I’m serious.
I had been to a few yoga classes here and there over the years, but nothing ever stuck. But once I found out I was pregnant I was committed to finding a practice that could help me build both physical and mental/emotional strength to get me through my pregnancy and labor. I was fortunate to have a relatively easy pregnancy without morning sickness, heartburn, or swelling. So even though I wasn’t dealing with any major pregnancy pains I still felt better after ever yoga sessions. I suffer from semi-annual bouts of sciatica so I was prepared to have to deal with back pain during pregnancy. Surprisingly, I never had any back pain during pregnancy, which is probably the longest I’ve gone without it in years! Thanks, yoga!
After yoga class – two days before my due date – I got home, and and 1.5 hours later my water broke! No contractions, so after staying home for 12h to wait for my labor to start naturally (to no avail) I went into hospital and after conferring with the midwife was started on pitocin at 8am; I was dilated 1cm. Induction was not what I was hoping for, but I trusted the midwife/nurse/doula team, and was hopeful that pitocin would be the only intervention I would have to have. I did have to have an IV, but with telemetry monitoring I was able to move around and even get in the tub if I wanted. I was pleased I could still have the active birth I had been hoping for. My partner and I played cards and talked excitedly as we waited for labor to begin. The nurse kept turning up the dosage every 30 mins and still no contractions, after several hours I began to get a little worried that pitocin wouldn’t be enough. At 1pm the nurse turned up the dosage again and within minutes contractions finally began.
My contractions began as mild cramping and got increasingly more intense. I tried the yoga ball, and various positions on the floor and the birth stool, but soon found out that I was most comfortable standing and rocking while holding onto the IV pole. I labored for an hour, mostly standing (just like Carol said, “you could be that woman that is only comfortable standing”, thank goodness for all our standing savasna practice!!). The contractions were painful, yet I was able to breathe through them and enjoy the resting periods in between. I remembered that more than pain they were “sensations” and that unlike most pain they were not a sign that something was wrong but rather that things were progressing as they should to bring me my baby. After only ONE hour (!), I could feel my body pushing. The midwife was surprised and questioned whether I could really be at that stage, and asked me what it felt like. I could only describe it as my body was pushing, and that there was nothing I could do to stop it. After the next contraction I got up on the bed and she checked and sure enough saw that I was complete! There was a huge flurry of the staff entering the room and getting things ready. I was on the bed on my hands and knees and just let my body continue to push. The staff just stood back and watched, encouraging me that I was doing everything right. After only 15minutes of pushing my son was born! The Midwife said it was the fastest first mama labor she had seen in her career.
I truly felt the power of my body during the whole process. Honestly I don’t even feel like I DID that much, but more that I just let my body do what it needed to, and all I had to do was trust in my body and not fight it. I had one small 1st degree laceration requiring a single stitch, which healed very quickly. My son was born with a cone shaped head that the midwife said indicated he was probably deep in position for quite a while. I really believe that I owe a lot of it to the body work we did in class, both in getting baby into the right position, giving me ideas of positions I could use while laboring, the ability to relax when I could (even while standing), and the confidence that my body was made to do this work.
It is a true gift that Carol offers these classes and the generosity of providing them for free, removes a barrier allowing ALL women to take advantage of them.
Posted August 25, 2017
I had an amazing home birth and I would love to share my story! I had a healthy pregnancy and stayed active with bike commuting, hiking, and yoga. Carol’s classes really helped me to relax and take time to enjoy my second pregnancy, which I found harder to do this time since I was so busy caring for my older daughter and working full time as a midwife in a hospital. We plan on this being our last baby and I wanted to do everything I could to appreciate this special time.
Other than nausea and exhaustion, I felt great until the last couple weeks of pregnancy when I started to have pelvic pain and feel very ready to have this baby. I wanted to do every gentle thing I could to help my body get ready for labor. When I was 39 weeks and a couple of days, I went to get acupuncture that was meant to stimulate labor. While the needles were being removed, my water broke! I was so excited. I let my midwife know and headed home. My partner and I were planning on going to our daughter’s preschool graduation together after my acupuncture appointment, and since I wasn’t having any contractions yet, we decided to still go. One of my daughter’s little friends came up to me and asked me if my water had broken! Her mom laughed and told her that was kind of a personal question. I said I couldn’t believe she had asked, because yes it had, about an hour ago! They wished us luck and we went home.
My friend who was acting as my doula came over and had dinner with us. My midwife also came by to listen to the baby, who sounded great. I was feeling overwhelmed by my older daughter’s energy by this point and was anxious for her to get to bed. We told her that the baby would probably be born sometime tonight and we were planning on waking her up for the birth and for her special job of cutting the cord. Her excitement was so sweet.
I had been having contractions on and off for a week at this point, but I literally had not had a single one since my water broke a few hours earlier! I felt like I wanted to try to get things going once my daughter went to bed. My partner, friend, and I started watching a movie while I used my breast pump. Within about 5 minutes of starting the breast pump, I had a very strong contraction. I had to stand up and move around while I had another one a couple minutes later. I stopped pumping, and told my partner and friend that these few contractions were so strong that I already felt like I wanted to start getting the birth tub ready.
While they were working on filling the tub, I called my midwife and told her that labor had just started at about 10:30 pm but I already felt like it was time for her to come over. I had to stop talking and give the phone to my friend. I moaned on the couch through what felt like nonstop contractions while she and my partner continued to work on filling the tub. I was in a lot of pain, but I felt very loved by everyone working to get things ready for me, and I didn’t feel like I really needed anything more from them.
The midwives arrived a little after 11 pm and I vaguely remember watching them set up their supplies. They listened to the baby and told me I was doing great. Only about 40 minutes after my first contraction I was already feeling like I was starting to push a little. I got in the tub, which felt amazing! I experienced such relief from the tub in both of my labors and couldn’t imagine going without it.
Shortly after getting in the tub, I really started pushing. After several pushes that didn’t feel like they were really moving the baby, I checked my own cervix (remember, I’m a midwife, ha!) and felt just a little bit of cervix left in the front. With my next push, I moved my cervix out of the way and felt my baby’s head finally move lower! When I realized the birth was now very close, I asked my friend to wake up my older daughter. I was so happy to see her, and told her she could watch her little sibling’s head get closer and closer to being born! She was so sweet cheering me on. I felt my baby’s head get lower with each push, and finally at midnight, her head and little hand were born into my hands in the pool. I pushed one more time, then lifted her body out of the water. She was tangled in her cord a little bit so I turned her upside down in a little somersault to untangle her. She cried right away, and I couldn’t believe how small she looked compared to my older daughter, who was standing right behind me, giggling with joy. My midwives watched me give birth and were right next to me in case I needed them, but were completely hands off, exactly how I had requested. I was so in love with my beautiful daughters and my partner! And in awe of my amazing body, which had just birthed a baby in 90 minutes, and I had done everything myself.
I stayed in the tub a little longer with my sweet baby. My partner and I announced that her name was June. After I delivered my placenta, my older daughter cut the cord, and I handed our baby to my partner so I could rinse off and climb into our bed. At 2 in the morning we ate the chocolate cake that my daughter and I had made earlier in the evening, which was probably the most exciting thing that had ever happened to her in her four years of life! After some time for breastfeeding and bonding and June’s newborn exam, my family and I were all tucked into bed, and the midwives left for the night.
My first daughter’s birth was also a wonderful experience, but feeling like my family was complete and all together made this truly the best night of my life.
Posted July 29, 2017
Hi Carol … my birth story is long, but I thought you might enjoy reading it. I wrote it for my pen pal. You were a true inspiration for me through my pregnancy. I found strength and empowerment for my birth through each and every one of your prenatal yoga classes. Thank you for all you do!
The Birth Story of Jack Roy Payne
By Lillian Payne
Jack Roy Payne
Born Tuesday, April 18, 6:48am at Providence Hospital in Portland, Oregon
J. Roy or J.R. as nicknames if they fit
8 lbs., 8oz.
14.75” head circumference
Mother: Lillian Hogan Payne
Father: John Trevor Payne
Maternal Grandmother: Jo Wiedemer Hogan
Maternal Grandfather: Kevin Thomas Hogan
Paternal Grandmother: Chris Perry Payne
Paternal Grandfather: John Roy Payne (deceased)
I’m writing this birth story on the eve of Jack’s one month birthday. I am enjoying a glass of slightly effervescent Txakoli wine after breastfeeding, celebrating a small victory after a successful meeting with the lactation consultant today.
I went off birth control seven months before Jack was conceived. I read Spirit Babies by Walter Makichen during the conception phase and practiced a few meditation techniques in an attempt to communicate with our baby’s spirit. The baby’s spirit appeared to me during the meditations mostly as an aura of purple in orb form. The strongest image the spirit baby showed me was that of a baseball field. Trevor has a strong love for baseball and daydreams of father/son games of catch danced in my head.
Jack was conceived at the end of July 2016. Jack’s father and I, Trevor, were together just over nine years when he was conceived. I found out I was pregnant on a trip to Seattle with Grandma Chris Payne and Trevor. I told Trevor we were pregnant once we got back to Portland from the vacation. He was in the backyard raking leaves. He hugged me and we high fived. I was five weeks pregnant and did multiple pregnancy tests before telling anyone, because I needed to be convinced. Getting pregnant is a bit surreal to say the least.
We told Trevor’s mom, Chris, soon after because she was visiting Portland from Asheville at the time. She was surprised and cried joyful tears. We told my parents, Grandma and Grandpa Hogan, and my brother, Uncle Trevor, on a trip to Colorado for cousin Kate’s wedding. The morning after the wedding, at a brunch for my mom’s side of the family, I made the pregnancy announcement to my aunts, uncles and cousins. A few of them had already sniffed it out. Probably because I was drinking Dr. Peppers instead of cocktails at the wedding reception.
We decided not to find out the gender of the baby until the birth. I had a pretty strong gut feeling the whole pregnancy that the baby was a boy.
We picked out a boy’s name – Jack Roy Payne – and a girls name – wouldn’t you like to know! – over an eight course pop up dinner that Trevor’s chef friend generously gifted us.
I had an active, enjoyable pregnancy. My first trimester was easy and joyful. I only got sick two times. Some “pregnancy brain” with botched work tasks. Nothing major. My second trimester was even better than the first. I was energetic, happy and focused. Plus, the baby bump appeared which I embraced with fierce femininity. I kept up a good exercise routine with yoga, booty luv (dance fitness) and walking regularly. I rounded out the third trimester with regular prenatal yoga, which I am certain made my labor, birth and postpartum recovery much easier. I gained thirty pounds during the pregnancy, all in the stomach. From the back, you couldn’t tell I was pregnant.
I had some food aversions and appetite loss in the beginning of pregnancy, but no particular cravings throughout. Grandma Hogan read a few children’s stories on speakerphone during pregnancy so baby could get used to her voice. I played “fireflies” by faith hill to the baby in womb multiple times – My favorite “modern lullaby” that I planned to sing to baby.
The grandmothers hosted a beautiful baby shower at my childhood home in Asheville, North Carolina, with the help of my friends. My best friend Charlotte Taylor led a bead blessing ceremony and I cried like a baby. My good friend Bonnie Watson hosted a baby shower in Oregon with a great group of women friends. I also had a small baby shower hosted by one of my favorite clients, Vanillawood. Baby was geared up and loved and still in the womb.
I worked up until the day labor started. I worked from home with client visits a couple times a week. This work lifestyle led to a very restful, relaxing and stress free pregnancy. Trevor and I felt prepared (as much as you can be) for our new child thanks to incredible resources including classes offered at the hospital and meetings with our doula.
My water broke at 6pm on Monday April 17, 2017. That very same day, Trevor was cooking for the final phase of an interview to secure the position of head chef of a new Portland restaurant. The ten course tasting meal he prepared for the interview was being presented to potential employers at 7pm the same evening. We now joke that the baby was eager to come but waiting till his Dad could finish the interview and secure his dream job.
When my water broke, it came out as a slow trickle. I contacted my doula and she advised that I get some sleep and keep her posted. I laid down on the couch and watched a movie as the amniotic fluid slowly seeped out over a few hours. I did not call Trevor because I didn’t want to distract him during his big tasting meal. Hold on just a few more hours, baby!
Quick and fierce contractions came on strong at just 1-2 minutes apart around 9pm, three hours after my water broke. I texted Trevor and told him my water broke and that contractions had started, but no rush to get home. I assumed I was in for a long labor at home overnight before heading to the hospital. I contacted the doula again and she advised me to try and sleep between contractions. I quickly realized they were too intense to get any sleep. I brought the birth ball into the bedroom, sat on it, and bent over onto the mattress to ride my contractions. As the contractions came, I envisioned riding a giant wave to the top and breathing out as the wave crashed. I texted Trevor again around 10pm telling him that the contractions were intense and that he might want to head home “soonish.”
Some time passed without response, so I sent another text message and tried to call Trevor – the contractions were getting super intense! Unable to get ahold of him, I finally called the restaurant where Trevor was interviewing. A server answered and I asked her if she could find him for me and tell him his wife was in labor. The restaurant was abuzz with the news as Trevor got the message. As the message came to him, he was toasting with his new employers after verbally getting the offer to become Head Chef of Tanner Creek Tavern. Huzzah! And time to have a baby? Double Huzzah!!
Trevor had left his phone in the kitchen during the tasting and felt terrible he had missed my messages and call. He rushed home to help me through the labor. He put on some music, got me some water and started in on the comfort measure massaging we had learned in class. At this point, contractions were all consuming.
Pretty soon I started having to poop while I was contracting, and realized that was probably a sign I was close to pushing a baby out. We called the hospital in our neighborhood where we were supposed to give birth, but their maternity ward was 100% full, and we got diverted to another hospital – Providence in NE Portland.
A fifteen-minute drive and multiple contractions in the car later, we arrived at the hospital at midnight. They checked me in at 8cm dilated. It was a huge relief knowing I was so far along.
Our doula Lindsay arrived just as they were sending me into the delivery room. We met our team of nurses and the midwife, Coco, who would deliver our baby. Everyone was amazingly reassuring and calm. I knew I was in great hands.
Almost as soon as I got into the delivery room I began feeling stronger urges to push. Squatting felt natural so I sat on a little stool and labored as the midwife shined a flashlight up the birth canal.
“Is this the transition period?” I asked her, hoping I was at the peak of intensity. “No,” she said, “This is the pushing and birthing the baby period.” I was so excited to hear that, remembering the graph from child birth class that showed the long climb from early labor to transition and then the short, quick descent from transition to child birth. I was amazed how fast it all was happening.
I continued to push and labor. I pushed on the toilet. I pushed on all fours. I pushed draped over the back of the bed. I pushed on my side with the doula holding one knee up. I pushed and I pushed and I pushed.
During the pushing period, they monitored my heart rate and the baby’s heart rate closely. We both had steady heart rates the entire time, which saved us from any type of intervention. My attitude was determined. I was in primal wild feminine mode. I was relishing the experience even though it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I labored in a simple cotton nursing bra and nothing else. I threw the hospital gown they gave me off almost as soon as I put it on. Being naked felt natural. Funny story: I had gone to Marshall’s that day to pick out a nice breezy long shirt to labor in. HA! So unnecessary.
My birth team included the Certified Nurse Midwife, Coco, my husband Trevor, my doula Lindsay, various nurses and an OB-GYN who stepped in at the end. They were all an incredible support during the labor. Positive vibes through and through. They brought cool washcloths to soothe me, gave me massages, and offered water from a large sippy cup (my favorite swag from the hospital – I still drink water out of it to this day). Their positivity and words of encouragement got me through and allowed me to have my ideal birth without the use of an epidural or pain medication.
After I had been pushing for almost four hours, my energy was depleting. I got into the hospital bed lying on my back to forge on and attempt to doze between contractions. The midwife tied a sheet around a bar above the bed for me to use for leverage during contractions and the team began counting and encouraging me to push longer and harder.
At some point towards the end of the pushing, the OB-GYN on call came into the room to check on progress since the pushing stage was getting to be so long. The team started talking about using a vacuum to get the baby out. Typically women push 20 minutes to 2 hours. My midwife made the call that allowed me to continue pushing – both our heart rates were fine – mom and baby were calm. I trusted my body and I was up to the challenge. I knew I could do it. The OB-GYN concurred. I would keep calm and push. Fun fact: I was wearing socks from Grandma Hogan that said this exact thing on the soles.
The baby’s head took a while to get under the pelvis; everyone started to hypothesize that we had a big baby on our hands. When the head started to crown, I reached down and touched it. Thankfully, I did not feel the ring of fire, because the baby’s head was around the crowning point for almost an hour.
After a contraction finished, Trevor would spritz an essential oil birth blend I made for the labor in my face. It was a mix of clary sage, geranium and lavender with distilled water. Taking deep breaths with the calming scents took me to a relaxed place before I started the next contraction. I’m now a newbie essential oil aficionado and have ordered more to help with everything from Trevor’s allergies to calming the baby.
Throughout the pushing, I made wild beastly grunts that made me feel deeply in touch with my womanhood. The midwife advised against the grunting because they take energy from pushing and cause a sore throat. I let them fly now and then anyway because I found the primal grunts and groans immensely satisfying. They were sounds I’d never heard pass my lips. So deep, sacred and real.
After close to five hours of pushing, and me mustering every ounce of energy to push hopefully one last time, the head was out. It was amazing how quickly the shoulders and body came after that. The doula and midwife exclaimed how beautiful the umbilical cord was – nice and spiraled and supremely healthy, but a little short so the baby rested on my stomach before Trevor cut the cord.
We were so beyond relieved to have finished with the pushing that we forget about our big surprise – the gender! The midwife exclaimed, “It’s a boy!” And we told him his name: “Hello, Jack!,” I whispered down to him, tears of joy falling.
The midwife allowed Jack to crawl up to my chest where we would spend the golden hour bonding and he would feed for the first time. Trevor and I basked in our new son’s glow. I basked in the pride of a job well done. I thanked the amazing team over and over for the support and for sticking by me and allowing the slow labor to unfold with the natural rhythms of my body and baby.
I birthed the placenta and the midwife stitched up a few minor tears, exclaiming that it was incredible how little I tore considering the length of pushing and the size of the baby. Our doula left with the placenta on ice, to freeze dry it and encapsulate it for me to eat over the next month to help with postpartum recovery.
Once the team said their goodbyes, one nurse stayed as our new family bonded. I began to feed Jack and close my eyes, feeling his bare skin on mine. I embraced being a mom and all that would bring. Trevor laid down for a nap after sending a birth announcement text out to family and friends.
After a few hours of mama/baby bonding, the nurse weighed and measured Jack, took a footprint stamp, and gave him his Vitamin K eye treatment and first Hep B shot.
He then slept in my arms as I ate breakfast in bed. A moment I will treasure in my memory and heart forever.
Welcome to the world, Jack Roy Payne.
Posted July 22, 2017
I tell every pregnant woman in my circle about MamaSpace Yoga. Carol provides an invaluable gift to women and their babies! I attended classes throughout my pregnancy, which was blessedly uncomplicated. I was even at class at 41 weeks! When the time came for my little one to enter this world, I felt so strong and capable. I labored in several poses Carol had us practice, especially standing which was such a surprise to me after my first birth experience. Towards the end, I heard my midwives say the baby was stressed by being squeezed, and without really thinking about it, I moved into a pose Carol often began with, “If your baby seems stuck…” Two contractions later, and my son was in my arms. They told me he shot right out in that lunge! Later, I realized he was born in the exact spot I lay my mat at home on my living room floor. I am forever grateful for the gift of Carol’s wisdom, as it allowed me the opportunity to birth my baby at home in the most loving and strong way. Thank you Carol for giving all women, regardless their economic means, the opportunity to grow and birth their babies with the power of yoga. You may share any and all of this story as you like.
Posted July 17, 2017