Category Archives: Birth Week

Jessica’s Story: A Hypnobabies Birth

By | Birth Choices, Birth Week, Pregnancy | One Comment

A Hypnobaby Birth

by Jessica Pirkle Callan

We had been preparing for Maureen’s birth using the Hypnobabies program for months and part of the program is visualizing the birth in detail.  With an estimated due date of 2/15/11 we decided that 2/18/11 would be the perfect date.  Maureen would be fully cooked, my mother-in-law would be in town, Alex wouldn’t miss as much work on a weekend, and I liked it being an even number.  We wanted labor to be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. so we wouldn’t miss any sleep.  And I really really really wanted it to be rainy!

When we originally decided all of this in early January, there was no rain forecasted.  A few weeks away from the date, they predicted a slight chance.  As the big day drew closer, the chance of precipitation increased until it was highly likely!

Friday, February 18th, we all got up, Alex getting ready for work, Lila (age 3) getting ready for school.  At 7:30 as they were about to leave, i hugged Alex goodbye and felt a contraction.  I told him so, but said to go ahead and carry on since it could be braxton hicks like i’d been having for weeks.  They left and I went about my morning and chatted with my mother-in-law who had been staying with us the last couple days.

She had come down with an awful case of the flu right after she flew in town, the likes of which we were all just getting over.  I didn’t want to tell her about the contractions, afraid that she might either disparage or freak out, but I was definitely contracting every 10 minutes!  I showered and dressed, thinking secretly to myself that this was the day; making sure I had comfy yet photo-worthy clothes on, legs freshly shaved, and water-proof mascara on 🙂

I tried to call Alex, around 10 a.m., but didn’t get thru.  I emailed my cousin, Sarah to giver her photography instructions adding a postscript that it might be today.  Alex emailed back saying he was on a conference call and I told him I was contracting regularly.  He said he’d come home if he needed to.  It was so weird being unsure about everything (my first daughter was born after I was induced “from scratch”).  Some women contract regularly for a day, then stop and resume a week later.  Sometimes labors come on quickly and baby is born a few short hours later.

I told him to come home despite my fear I was jinxing it.  He picked Lila up from school at 12:20 (normal pick-up time) and came home.  I went to an already scheduled chiropractic appointment (for an adjustment and to help my transversely inclined baby move into a more optimal position).  The chiropractor worked on some induction points for me and even marked them with a pen so I could continue to stimulate them at home.

I picked up some lunch and came home right as my sister-in-law picked up my mother-in-law (she was in town to help with the new baby, but we had planned to not have her at the birth).  We ate, Lila watched a movie, and Alex and I retreated to the bedroom to “apply some natural prostaglandin” 😉 Having contractions during sex was a unique experience!

We spent the rest of the afternoon feverishly cleaning and unpacking (we had just moved into our mostly remodeled house 2 weeks before).  I remember cleaning a toilet and having to rest next to it on the floor during a contraction. I also had candles lit, yoga chanting cd playing, and a homemade aromatherapy blend on, expecting active labor to start any minute.  I can’t remember at what point I’d texted my midwife that morning, but she sent her assistant over at 5 p.m. when my contractions were 5 minutes apart.

All of the hypnobabies newsletters I’d been reading are replete with stories of quick, sudden births-Mom arrives peacefully at the hospital and no one realizes she’s in active labor until baby starts crowning in the waiting room 🙂  I was sure that would happen to me, so i was incredibly disappointed when I was told upon my requested cervical check that I was only 2-3 cm dilated and 70% effaced.

I just couldn’t understand why the assistant midwife was giving me early labor tips instead of preparing for my baby’s imminent arrival.  I wanted so badly to be done by then, not necessarily because I was having a hard time but because I had a plan and things were not going as planned.  Also, I HATE having my sleep interrupted and absolutely dreaded the idea of having a baby in the middle of the night.  So the assistant left at 6 p.m. and we ordered Thai.

Alex went to pick up the food, while Lila and I stayed home.  I’ll never forget how sweet she was when I was contracting.  I had prepared her a lot by watching lots of hynobirthing videos on youtube.  I’d explained that my uterus was squeezing out baby Maureen and that I really needed to focus during the squeezes.  She knew to leave me alone if my eyes were closed or to say “peace” or “relax.”  I was laying over the birthing ball softly moaning and she gently stroked me saying, “peace” over and over.  My sweet sweet girl!!

We ate dinner, although I didn’t have much appetite, and Alex got Lila to bed.  I was hoping that things would either pick up or slow down so that I wasn’t pushing a baby out in the middle of the night.  I called my midwife and she suggested doing whatever i needed to relax, like have a glass of wine.

I decided to get in the heated birthing tub we’d rented and I did have a glass of wine while Alex sat on a chair next to the tub holding my laptop while we watched 30 Rock.  What an incredible difference the water made!  I could feel nothing but pressure with each contraction.At around 10 p.m., Alex needed to go to bed.

I took half of a unisom hoping to at least get a good night’s sleep before what looked like a a February 19th birth by now.  We actually contemplated me staying in the tub, since every time I’d gotten out to go to the bathroom, the surges were pretty uncomfortable.  Good sense prevailed and I set myself up to sleep on the couch-water, blankie, and pillow.

Labor did NOT speed up or slow down.  I had contractions every 5 minutes all…..night….long…..  I found that the hypnosis I’d practiced worked effectively as an anesthesia i if i went “under” before a contraction started.  But that gave me only 1 minute in between the end of one contraction and the preparation for another.  So sometimes I spent the 3-4 minute interval sleeping until the pain of a contraction jarred me awake, and sometimes I used the hypnosis to enjoy a pain-free surge.

I don’t know if it was the unisom or some primal power, but I could just lay my head back and conk right out until the next contraction woke me.  It was a very intense and primitive experience to labor all by myself in the quiet darkness all night long.  At around 1 a.m. I got some yogurt and granola- a very typical snack and timing for my pregnancy.  However, I ended up throwing it up a little while later.

At 7 a.m. I decided I was done with my solo nighttime journey and woke Alex up with the request to open up the tub and keep me company.  Again, as soon as my body sank into the warm water, pain became pressure and felt instantly relaxed.  We called the midwife and my cousin who both arrived around 9 a.m.

I requested a cervical check and was pleased to find that my night had been productive-I was now at 6 cm 90% effaced!  My midwife was also able to monitor my blood pressure, pulse, and the fetal heart rate while I remained comfortably in the tub.  What a luxurious difference from my hospital experience!

My sister-in-law, Rachael came by to take care of Lila.  We had planned to have her there as the “Lila wrangler”.  I wasn’t concerned about Lila being for the birth, in fact, she and I both kind of wanted her to witness it.  However, Alex and I wanted to be able to focus on the task at hand while someone else entertained Lila and fetched her snacks or whatever.

The next few hours are a blur for me.  Time was dragging and flying and standing still.  I know that I kept expecting to be done soon.  People kept plying me with food and beverage, but I had no interest in it.  I knew that I was supposed to keep eating to fuel my energy level, but nothing sounded good!

I would go grocery shopping in my mind, racking my brain for something that sounded remotely appetizing.  Popcorn! Someone made some.  I ate a few pieces.  I realized that that did NOT sound good.  Tea!  Someone made tea.  I had a sip.  It was not what I wanted after all.  I had a few blueberries, a bite of pizza that Rachael had picked up to feed the crew.  Those who know me, know that I love eating.  When I don’t want to eat, something serious is going down!

The weariness of missing out on a night’s sleep and exhaustion from focusing on the task of birth started to weigh on me.  I told my midwife that I didn’t want to do this anymore, and she offered to check me.  I had originally planned to only get checked when I felt the urge to push in order to make sure I wasn’t pushing before being ready.  Otherwise, I felt that checks are inconsequential and unnecessary.  I declined at first, but consented at 12:30 p.m.  My heart sank to find out that I was STILL 6 cm dilated and 90% effaced.  I felt devastated, like I had spent the last 3 hours doing absolutely nothing.

The midwife recommended get out of the tub and spending some time upright to move things along.  I’d gotten out of the tub several times to pee (bladder space was at a minimum and I was definitely staying hydrated!), and the contractions I experienced during those potty breaks made me want to stay in the water forever!

What a dilemma.  Labor pain-free in the tub, possibly forever; or labor painfully out of the tub, hopefully for a shorter period of time. At 1:15 p.m. I got out.I laid on my side in bed for the next hour and a half with Alex snuggled up behind me.  I was in such a sleepy daze in between contractions, but when they hit I sank into Alex as he rubbed my lower back.  It was a trance-like nap from which I eventually awoke in the sense that I become more aware of my surroundings and started to feel antsy.

I wandered around the house, trying to find an activity or locale that “felt right” but ended up back in the tub for some sweet respite.  That lasted only an hour, since I felt like I had to be “doing” something.  So I spent some contractions standing up with my arms around Alex as we swayed together, some hunched over the birthing ball, some sitting on the bathroom stool.  Rachael returned with Lila in tow, bearing smoothies from Jamba Juice and I had a couple sips.

At 4:30, Rachael took Lila to her house to eat dinner and hang out until birthing time or bed time-whichever came first.  I declared, “I really need to eat something!” and sent my cousin to the store for saltine crackers-the only thing that sounded good.  Alex suggested I listen to a Hypnobabies track on the IPod, which is something I should have been doing all along 🙂

So I found myself on all fours on the couch with earphones in, hypnosis settling over me, and my dear husband right beside me when all of a sudden… my water broke!!  Right at that point, I started to feel the urge push too.  With Lila, my water broke right as i reached full dilation and she was born 45 minutes.

I reluctantly asked for a cervical check.  Sure enough, I was 10 cm dilated and 100% effaced!  It took a little while to completely register for me that it was actually time.  I don’t run marathons, but I know that for people who do and for women giving birth that it is common to “hit a wall” and feel like you can’t go any further.  Usually, in the case of birth, reaching this point signifies that the end is near and once you break through the wall, it’s smooth sailing.  I had these thoughts in the back of my mind, so when I was feeling like I couldn’t go on, part of me was enslaved to the dejected feeling that it was true, but part of me thought that maybe that meant it was almost over.

Only a few minutes earlier, I had whispered to Alex that I just wanted to go to a hospital and get a C-section.  I asked him if we would still have to pay for the home birth if we did that, and when he said yes, my frugality spurred me persevere 🙂

Once I had shaken off all my doubts and discouragement, I set my mind to pushing out my baby!  My midwife suggested I do a couple pushes “on land” first before returning to the tub.  I complied, but was very thankful to get back to my warm, wet sanctuary to begin pushing in earnest.

I pushed peacefully, remembering the Hypnobabies directive to breath evenly and relax with thoughts of openness.  I was on my knees, with my arms folded over the sides of the tub-for some reason I had had a feeling all along that I would birth my baby while on fours, and although I did not consciously choose the position at the time it was just what came naturally.

I felt Maureen moving further and further down, until finally-POP!  Out she came into the hands of the assistant midwife!  I looked over my shoulder in disbelieving ecstasy.  “I did it!” was all I could think 🙂  A few seconds later (after orchestrating the humorous process of turning around without tangling my legs in the umbilical cord) I held my brand new daughter in my arms.  It was 5:31 p.m., so she was born at exactly the time we had envisioned….just with an additional 24 hours of labor tacked on 🙂

Maureen nursed very soon and very easily.  I immediately regained my appetite and phoned Rachael with a take-out request.  She arrived with Lila and dinner, and we all ate, drank champagne, and marveled at the new life that entered the world.  It was so incredible to go through the requisite post birth exams and everything in the comfort of our own home.

By 8 p.m., everyone had gone and Alex, Lila, Maureen and I snuggled together, read a story, and went to bed.  Our first night as a family of four was so delightfully mundane, hinting at many more sweet nights to come.

 Jessica is a former montessori teacher, a current yoga teacher, and a future doctor. She mostly spends her days at home with lila and maureen cooking, cleaning, studying, observing her children, playing, and reading. They occasionally venture out to go grocery shopping, hiking, or walking around the zoo. 

Pam White: Birthing with a Midwife

By | Birth Choices, Birth Week | 2 Comments

This post is one I’ve been looking forward to sharing all through Birth Week!

I’m honored to introduce you to Pam White, an Arizona State Licensed Midwife who has been attending births in Arizona for over 25 years. Respected by peers and clients alike, she has helped set the standards for what professional midwifery in Arizona should look like.

I met Pam 4 years ago when I was preparing to give birth to my second child at home and we connected immediately. I have a high degree of confidence in both her skill to assess mine and my baby’s safety in a home birth situation and in her trusted role as an encourager and supporter to me as a woman undertaking one of my most challenging tasks in life – giving birth. As I meet more women who’ve chosen births at home, I’m never surprised to find they also chose to work with Pam and love her as much as I do!

This video should give you a little bit of an idea what it is like to choose the care of a midwife for your birth. Hope you enjoy it!

If you’d like to contact Pam White, you can reach her at 602-494-4092 or thru email at



Postpartum Depression: Surviving Your New Role As “The Mama”

By | Birth Week, Honest Mothering | No Comments

Pregnancy and birth are two of the most amazing experiences in a woman’s life. The power of our bodies to create, grow and deliver a beautiful little life is mind boggling. And our bodies serve up a rather dizzying cocktail of natural hormones to create and sustain that tiny person growing inside us. While on the one hand those hormones prepare us for birth by pushing us into a nesting frenzy and giving us that mama bear protectiveness after birth, they can also leave us reeling with the rapidity with which our emotions can swing from one extreme to another. This can especially happen after everyone stops fussing over you and goes back to “normal” (you’ll never see that again!).

Since those hormone start ramping up from the start of pregnancy to at least the first few months after delivery (and longer if you breastfeed), it’s often hard to tell where the hormones end and where you begin. Looking back at my two post-birth experiences, I remember times I thought I was acting completely rational which I would now categorize as, well, crazy-style! Then there were days when I knew I wasn’t feeling right like the time I visited my OB’s office after my first baby, and began sobbing hysterically when realized I didn’t have my insurance card and the office staff was rude to me. Seriously. Loud – hiccuping – sobs-in-public!! SO embarrassing and so not me.

I soon realized that not only did I feel the “blues” after delivery, I definitely suffered from postpartum depression (both times). And, with each delivery, I felt a distinct change in my emotional and physical health around the two year mark. Thankfully, the first time, despite my having hysterics in public, my OB encouraged me that as long as I didn’t feel I was a danger to myself or my baby, I didn’t need antidepressants. As a mama who really does believe in avoiding pharmaceuticals as much as possible because of potential dangerous side affects, I’m truly grateful to her for her wise help. And, I made some changes to help me get through it.

Motherhood is a major adjustment from pre-baby life. What we might have believed would be hazy days of baby bliss can often surprise us with monotonous tasks (diapers, feedings, naps, laundry and more diapers, feedings, naps and laundry), loneliness and a loss of identity. Where have all your friends gone? What happened to the accomplished woman you believed yourself to be prior to giving birth? No education or previous career experience can quite prepare you for the difficult, wondrous, emotional and amazing gift of being a mom.

Here are some great hints for not only surviving – but thriving as you adjust to your new, awesome and most challenging, life role as a mom.  The exercise and crazy dancing should only come AFTER you’ve fully recovered from birth. Take it easy, mama. All in good time.

1. Get a little Vit D daily – as in Real Sunshine. 

My dad always said that if you’re feeling blue, open the blinds and let the light in. I think you should not only let the light into your house but go out for 15 minutes and let it shine on your bare skin while you toch the ground with your bare feet. The brilliance of the light truly will illuminate your whole spirit. It remindes me of a verse I memorized from the Bible as a kid, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The light of the sun is a powerful healer. Let in the light so it can blast the darkness away.

2. Get exercise daily. 
You’re up at crazy hours with a new baby anyway, right? Stumble out of bed and walk up and down your block. Seriously. You don’t have to run a marathon. You just had a baby for goodness sake. Take it ssssssslllllllllllllllllloooooooooooowwwwwww.  And leave the baby with your partner. You need a break.

3. Take a shower & dress.
If you haven’t had a baby, you may be saying, “Duh, Mons. Obviously.”

Have I got news for you, sister! Just wait till it’s your turn. Hahaha!!  It’s not that easy to shower when you have a 2 1/2 year old running around wreaking havoc while your newborn screams because you’ve put her down for the 45 seconds it takes you to pee. A full two minute shower with a screaming baby seems interminable and not relaxing. At. All.

But – Mama – do it anyway. Strap your precious munchkin into the bouncy seat, set it next to the shower and steel your heart against the cries while you lather yourself up and let that hot (or cold) water run over you for two whole minutes. Put on clothes that make you feel good about yourself. Trust me. You’ll feel like a new woman and your baby will thank you.

3. Connect with other adults besides your partner.
This is so much harder than it seems! There are no end to the reasons not to get out. First of all, gathering the gear to get two small children out of the house, not to mention ensuring they both have clean diapers, is a nearly overwhelming task. I learned to pack my diaper bag the night before and try to have my bottles filled (nope, breastfeeding did not go well for me!). Hot carseats, nap schedules and other stuff get in the way. But, keep trying! Find places to talk with adults whether it’s a La Leche League meeting, mother’s playdate group on, church, the library or the check out at the grocery store. You need adult interaction and your partner needs a break – no matter how amazing they are.

4. Sleep every chance you get!
Especially after you’ve just given birth, you need to rest and NOT overdo. Your health depends on it. Birth is a big deal! Every more experienced mom I knew said to me, “Sleep when your baby sleeps.” And, just as many times I probably ignored that advice because I thought I was different. My house needed to be perfect. Boy was I tired! The second time I had a baby, I listened. Now I’m saying it to you. Just go to sleep. Trust me, the laundry will still need to be folded when you wake up – for the next 18 years. So, just relax, get some rest and everything will seem better in the morning.

5. Eat nourishing food and drink lots of water. 
Look ladies, right after you have a baby is not the time to start a crazy weight loss plan. Relax and recover. Eat food that will give you strength – lots of great veggies, healthy proteins, whole grains, fruit and some dairy. Definitely a little chocolate! You’ll feel more nourished and up to the task.

6. Listen to music and dance like a crazy, crazy person. 
This is actually advice from my first OB, Nichelle Whitehead M.D. Such great counsel. Be silly. Listen to something that reminds you of who you were before you became, “Mama” all day long. Jazz, Rock, Top 40, whatever. Dance around with your hands in the air and laugh at the sight you probably make.

7. Speaking of laughing, try it. 
Find something that makes you laugh every day. Watch a funny show, read the comic strip, surf There is something out there that will lift your spirits. Make it your daily assignment.

8. Visit a respected herbalist or acupuncturist for help. A good herbalist will be able to suggest herbs safe for nursing mothers. And, acupuncturists specialize in putting bodies and emotions back in balance. I find acupuncture so relaxing, I usually fall asleep during my treatments.  Needles, Aaaaahhhh….

AND, if you are depressed after having a baby, don’t hide it. Talk to someone who loves you about what you’re going through. Don’t wait till you feel you’re a danger to yourself or your baby. If you are, get help right away. Call your OB. Call your mom or your partner. Do not be embarrassed! Hormones and lack of sleep can affect our minds in surprising and profound ways.

Whatever your post partum experience, taking good care of yourself after having a baby is essential to your overall health as a mom, a partner and whole woman. Take care of yourself so you can take better care of your family!

Brianna’s Story: The Body Knows What to Do!

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My Third Birth Story

by Brianna Walker

I had a typical hospital birth; wasn’t induced because I did want a natural birth, but did end up getting an epidural. I had an amazing doula, but the environment of the hospital made it very hard to labor naturally. After having Elliott, I knew that I would have been able to have a natural birth if I was at home. I am lucky to have strong, amazing women in my life who have had home births, so when I got pregnant with my second son, I knew that a home birth was exactly what I wanted. My husband was also on board with the idea. I had an amazing midwife and doula who helped me welcome our 9 pound son, Reed.

My third son is the most recent so here is his story:
Another boy! After having both a hospital birth and a home birth, there was no question that I would once again welcome baby boy #3 in our home. This birth was a text book birth. Being due at the end of July, the summer heat and feeling like labor and delivery was still too recent, made me have lazy thoughts about doing it all again. I continued to pray for a small baby thinking it would make things much easier.

It was only 3 days before my due date and I woke up around 230 am to use the restroom. For the past week, I would have pretty strong contractions and pressure each time I urinated and of course had the same feeling this night. I got back into bed, but was wakened again by another contraction about 15 minutes later. I was able to sleep on and off until 4 am.

I knew baby was going to make his appearance. I woke my husband and called my sister in law who was in town and was going to be at the birth. I also called Pam, my midwife, and told her that I knew I was in labor but would keep her posted on timing and call once contractions were a minute apart. My husband made a pot of coffee and I was walking around breathing through my contractions and conversing with my sister in law. She noticed that my contractions were getting close and suggest I call my midwife. This was 630 am and Pam said she would head on over and my two older boys were waking up.

My little sister also came over to help with the boys and meet the new baby. Around 730 my midwife and her apprentice came over and this was just about the time I was getting into the bath. I always like to try to wait as long as possible before getting into the water. It amazes me how peaceful and calming the warm water is during such an intense time. Back labor was painful and I remember trying to float in the tub to lessen the pressure. I breathed through a couple of really hard contractions and remember feeling tired and a bit defeated because I did not want to work anymore.

Then came a moment of rest. Contractions seemed to stop for a long period of time; I think I even fell asleep for those few minutes but was awakened with pressure and feeling rested. I immediately needed to switch from my back to my knees in a crawling position in the tub. Pam used counter pressure on my hips and my body pushed. I thought maybe my water broke, but I actually peed. Another surge came and again my body pushed; this time my water did break.

I told my husband to go get my sister so that she could see the baby being born. As he left, another surge came and my body pushed again. When he and my sister entered the bathroom, I was holding my sweet baby. He was my smallest, 7lbs and 14oz. Elliott and Reed immediately met their brother and Elliott got to cut the “electrical cord.” Welcome Blake William Walker!

Birth is empowering. Even when my mind was feeling lazy and defeated, my body knew what it had to do. As soon as baby enters the world, the pain is immediately gone and adrenaline and love and emotion empower. I am blessed to have had these experiences. They have forever changed me.


Brianna Walker and Monna have known each other since birth! Their parents were very good friends so they grew up like cousins. Brianna grew up to be a Global Business graduate of ASU and met her husband not long after graduation. They were married a year and a half later. Within a few months later she was pregnant with their first son. While her first baby was born at a hospital, she has experienced two home births since then and encourages other mamas to be empowered in their births. She spends her time raising her three smart, sweet boys.