All year we're working hard... we may not be gardening and foraging as we once were when people started gathering in large groups for harvest and Thanks-Giving celebrations... but we do have so much to be thankful for...

This year...  I'm thankful for...

  • The ability to work for my family in multiple ways... in multiple areas
  • The energy spent giving to others in some form for healthy pregnancies, births, breastfeeding and families
  • The ability to have so much research at my fingertips that I actually have too many choices to make
  • The aggravation of being able to complain about the type of education my children might not be able to have... or do have...
  • The ability to learn beyond what I was taught as a child
  • The immense amounts of green and wild foods that surround my home
  • The people that frustrate me... and the ability to see the frustration as a learning tool... and to have the choice to use it as such
  • The knowledge that I can choose how I want to live and that so many people struggled before me to create the frustrations I have today... because without these, there would only be a different set of struggles
  • The ability to choose to believe in the God I believe in and see his ways in my life and others'
  • The humbleness my children have taught me beyond what I could ever have asked for...

Everything... the happiness, the sadness... and most of all those few people that see that in me and wait patiently doing whatever they know how to do to show me they're still here.  That's what this week is for...  it is being thankful for having struggles and being able to still eat a pie... or a turkey... or a foraged nut... or a bowl of soup... or walk with friends (or alone) to move more... and everything wonderful, and everything that just is.

I'm thankful for those people and resources that found themselves by my side...  in my lap... at my keyboard... that helped me through my early parenting struggles - in the middle of the night or on the phone - so that I could help someone else know they can do it too.

So, find someone this week... and tell them how thankful you are that they have been in your life...  no matter if all their moments weren't what you wanted - all those moments have been what you needed for now... or maybe years from now... and we can be thankful for them all.


Love to you and yours this Thanksgiving!


Birth Journey

As we make these decisions and pray that they’re the right ones, what affects they’ll have on our child, we sometimes fail to see that they are always the right decisions because in the end it isn’t the right or wrongs, it is the changes we see in ourselves that matter. We can prepare for every type of birth, making all the decisions to set us up for the birth we desire and creating this perfect birth experience, but in the end, we have the birth that we need for our spiritual journey.

Much of the world’s perspective on Christianity and birth is “eve’s curse” – that day when Eve was deceived and birth was forever changed to painful. That is a misconception in itself, and you can find articles about it on the Best Perinatal Articles post. There are numerous lessons to be learned from reading through various stories in the Bible that may not pertain directly to birth, but it is also amazing how many metaphors are used through scripture to relate to the work of a laboring woman, and the connection between a mother and her nursing baby. This was no nonchalant task, and finding guidance through this time in the Bible is quite comforting to many Christians.

the “F” word can be looked at from two perspectives… another “four-letter word” or a survival mechanism. I choose to look at it in a positive manner so that I can learn and choose wisely. Fear is a response to a perceived threat. Why is it only a perceived threat? Because not everyone has the same response to this “threat.”

Gabriel Blayne - 8lbs 15oz
Born at Home - October 3, 2011

"Deep within each woman,
lies the knowledge to give birth
without outside interventions."

My 2nd birth - the birth I've been dreaming of for so long.  Bell's birth was incredible and life changing.  This birth was as close to biological as I could have ever wished for my family.  It was the birth that I talk about so much.  It was perfect.

After a week of on and off again mild regular contractions, the night before my birth I started feeling strong cramps in my cervix.  They were irregular, then slowed, and stopped before bedtime.  I had turned off the ringers at the house for the weekend, and each night took a long warm shower, and fell asleep listening to Tibetan Bells and relaxing to the scent of Lavender aromatherapy oil.  I had been waiting.... anticipating a past "EDD" birth - but not imagining I would go 2 weeks past.  I was ready to welcome labor with open arms.

I woke up each hour to pee - just like always.  But, around 2:00, I was feeling strong cramps, and felt like these were different than the contractions I'd been feeling throughout the past week.  I called James (who was on his 3rd midnight shift of the weekend) to let him know my contractions were regular and that I was going to call Donna (Donna Spellman, CPM) to see what she thought before he came home.  Donna said to call her back in an hour and we'd see how the contractions were, so I also let James know I'd call him back in an hour.  I sent a heads up message to Allie (our birth photographer with Allie B Photography), and gave Crysta (our doula with Gentle Beginnings) a call.  I was feeling like these contractions were pretty close, and was starting to feel like I wanted someone with me.  Bell was sleeping, and if things got intense, no one was here to attend to her if she would wake.  I told Crysta I'd call her back in 1/2 hour - but I was afraid to have anyone come if things were just going to stop.

Things weren't stopping.  But I did take a moment to snap a picture of myself.

I'm a nut about documenting events.

I called James, Crysta, & Allie in 1/2 hour.  I wasn't waiting an hour to get someone here.  I was ready for companionship.  I just wanted someone nearby.  I was really needing to concentrate during contractions, and had to quickly finish my message to Allie because that one was getting too intense to talk.  Yes, these were progressing fast.... but - wow, don't I have at least 6 more hours of this... then transition... and still pushing?  These are one on top of the other, I'm moaning, and I'm getting a little nervous.  I'm not doing so well am I?  But wait, this is the exact same way I felt when I was in transition with Bell.  Am I in transition???

All the sensations and movements were running through my head.  I got the birth ball out to lean on... nope, that didn't help - I needed to walk.  All the birth scenarios were running through my head.  Thinking of someong pushing on my back was running through my head.  Every direction of the baby, every little foot movement.  I could sense all of them - I could feel the whole birth.  I knew my body was working, and the baby was doing OK because I could feel him move.

I called Donna.  I think it had been 45 minutes.  It was time.  She had over an hour drive, and this wasn't stopping.  I still felt bad.  It was the middle of the night - and everyone was going to come out, and this was just going to stop.  I don't care.  I need presence.

James gets home.  Relief!  Wow, I'm getting loud.  I really don't need to be this loud - but it just feels good, so I went with it.  But, I'm still talking and doing just fine between contractions... gosh, am I going to have to deal with this all night?  Can I handle it?  I really don't want to...  I'm kind of done - these are intense.  James is a little panicked.  I asked him to move Bell back to her bed, and get the bed ready.  He wasn't putting the sheets on right - and that annoyed me a little.  I just wanted it prepped - and fast.  He started getting glasses of water, straws, and putting all our birthy-needs in place.  "I need you to HELP me!"  Yup - that same scenario with Bell's birth was coming up.  James is a prepper... but doesn't do so well with support.  When is Crysta going to get here?  Why did I tell her to wait?  I hope Allie gets my message.

I have to pee.  It hurts to sit on the toilet.  Same feeling I've had for 2 weeks.  I have to pee - and I can't.  I constantly feel like I have to poop... I'm totally pooping when this baby comes out.  I just accept it.

I decided getting in the shower will let me stand and pee.  I try the water on my back.  It was incredibly distracting.  I'm just not a water birther.  I'm a walker.  I couldn't imagine sitting in a tub - I need to move.  I turn the water off.  Pacing - my same ritual I used with Bell.  It brings baby down, and it helps me deal with the sensations.  Oh WOW, those sensations!  I paced in our little standard 5' tub.  "James, get the camera."  I leaned on the bathroom wall with each contraction.  Really?  More hours of this?  Oh my gosh - someone just tell me I'm in transition and I'm doing OK.  "You can do it."  "I can do it."  "You're OK... You're OK."  Nope - those don't work.  Moaning... totally works.  And I was MOANING.  Bell is going to wake up, surely.  MOAN....MOAN.....OOOOOHHHHH.....I remember my deep noises this time, though.  Yup - bring that baby down, Danielle.

"You're doing good."  What was that?  I thought.... James was telling me I was doing a good job....  He was taking pictures, and then just sitting by the tub watching.  He was so nervous... but this was great.  NEVER underestimate the power of encouragement and presence!  I AM doing good.  I'm loud - but I'm doing this!  And, I don't have to get in my car and drive anywhere.  This is going to happen at my home!!!

I really need to pee.  Baby is pushing down and squishing stuff out with each contraction - but I just want to pee.  James, get me the peppermint oil on a tissue... nope, that didn't work.  Worth a try.  Oh well, I'll just stay in the tub.

Oooh... I am still doing this...  but how much longer?  I want to squat.  Wow, that kind of works.  I want to squat, and.... am I grunting?  A few squats with James supporting me (I almost knocked him in the tub with me) and my water broke.  Am I pushing???  No way.... no way am I already pushing.  I'm grunting.  Maybe there is a lip, I think.  These grunting pushes are good.  No one has even checked me - how awesome is that?!!  Oh, yea, I'm pooping.  Hey, at least I'm not going to feel like I have to poop anymore...Baby must be really moving down now...maybe if I poop it will make room for the baby.  (Seriously, you'll think of all kinds of stuff when you're in labor).  Where's my labor land?  I so am not in labor land.  I am completely here - completely feeling everything, completely conscious and aware... but I'm doing it.  There's no way I'm already in 2nd stage.  But, contractions were easier to rest through.  Still close - but I was getting a break.  Wow, this is awesome - totally intense, and I'm really ready to just be done.  James thinks about cleaning up the poop.  That's love... that's comfort.  Birth with someone who is OK cleaning up your poop!  But, I kept moving around, so he couldn't get to it.  Wow, that stinks.  A few more pushes, and there went my water.  Oh NO!!  Meconium.  Wow, this bathroom really stinks now - and everyone is going to smell it.  Oh well... "James, call Donna... there's meconium."  Donna was about 15 minutes away.  I'm still squatting and grunting.  I'm going to have this baby!  Yes, I'm in 2nd stage.

James prays.  I think I pray at some point, too.

I want to stop standing.  Squatting just feels so much better. James lays down a towel and a chux pad.  Ahhhh - this is better.  I can lean... All 4s - what a powerful position.  Rest and birth at the same time.  Oh, I'm really pushing now.  No one is telling me to do anything - no one is touching me - I AM doing this all by myself!!!  James is just sitting behind me and waiting.  He's nervous.  I'm DOING this!  I don't care that no one else is there - I have a presence with me and I am DOING this!  I reach down... no head yet.  Oh, how long is this going to take?  A few more loud pushes - yeah, yelling just feels great.  I think of that carved stone face of the woman birthing - I totally look like her.  I'm POWERFUL!

Azstec Goddess Tlazolteotl Giving Birth - although I'm not keen on the idea of the "Goddess of Filth" this was, nevertheless, how I was picturing myself.

More pushes.  I reach down again.  I want to know how far the head is... I feel something squishy - but it is small.  It is that same distinct feeling I felt when Bell was crowning, just smaller.  OK, baby IS moving down... I AM doing this!  "Crysta is here," James says.  I look out - she's just quietly leaning by the wall in the bedroom.  Wonder what she's thinking.... I'm LOUD!  Wonder if she thinks I'm nuts and not doing well... oh well... yelling just feels good!  More pushes, a little high pitched, but that's OK.  Remember to just breathe, and you'll be fine.  More pushes, and I'm feeling the head.  Oh, there's that ring of fire.  I can do it - I think... I don't want to - I think some more...  Just push - you CAN do it... you just HAVE to do it.  I only pushed for a few seconds with each contraction.  Not getting out of breath this time.  That was perfect - exactly what I could handle - no one telling me to do any more than what my body was ready to handle.  I could feel the baby moving down, then back up - wow, that's crazy - doing the baby dance.  OK, I know we've still got more to go... baby is still moving up.  Oh, then there's full on crowning.  My perineum is stretching, but I don't think it is tearing.  Baby stops dancing.  Oh, we're almost there I thought, and no one is interfering!!!

A few more pushes and the head was out.  I DID it!  I DID it... and all I have left to do are the shoulders (oh, not fun) and the body!!!  "Can someone get Bell?"  Crysta says "she's here."  OH, cool!  I was SO glad she was able to be there - that meant the world to me!  I was worried she wouldn't be able to see because of the small space - but James said she was watching.  I hear Donna, "There's the head... but I'm sure you already know that!"  That was funny... I didn't have the energy to laugh, but it was funny.  I feel her hold the baby - that was a little intense.  I knew I had to get the shoulders.  "Next contraction, I want you to reach down and hold your baby."  OH - it is almost over... it is almost over!!!  I CAN do the shoulders - and my scar is giving me no issues (shoulders are what made me tear with Bell - that and directed pushing).  This is great!!!  I try to reach down, but I need to support myself, so I stop.  Donna holds the baby with the next few pushes, and AHHHH, relief - there's that squishy body!

Crysta is taking pictures - AWESOME!  This birth was fast, and Allie wasn't quite here yet.  The video camera's battery was dead, but at least I'm going to have some pictures.  I move around, try to get into a better position, and then Donna hands me our little....  Its a boy!  A boy. I knew it!  I feel elated with this one - I didn't have that instant feeling with Bell.  But, this was perfect - this was exactly the birth I wished for.

"Let's cut the cord," Donna says.  I check to see if it has stopped pulsing "Can we wait?"  "Do you still feel a pulse?"  I wasn't sure - I was shaking - so she waited a minute or two longer.  She took the baby, and I moved to the bed.  We still had the placenta to go - but it was OVER.  2.5 hours from waking up to birth.... WOW!

We didn't have a name picked out yet.  Interestingly, I was the one in a hurry to name him.  He was 8lbs 15oz - over a whole pound bigger than Bell.  But, was only 19.5" long.

photo by allie b photography

photo by allie b photography

The cord was wrapped around his shoulder, which caused a little bit of cord compression, and likely the cause of the meconium staining.  He was fairly blue and limp at birth - alarming to me, but Donna checked him and he was doing well.  Funny - he has favored the ROA/ROP positions, flipping to LOA occassionally, but always back to the right.  I did some optimal fetal positioning, but felt like he was on the right for a reason.  I believe he was there because the cord was on his shoulder - and that the birth went fast so that he would do well throughout, and not have to deal with the compression for longer than he could handle.  God was watching over us.  He was well.  Not much bleeding from me, and he pinked up quickly.  He has a strong urge and suck to nurse - just like his sister did.  Now, just transitioning to a family of 4, and encapsulating my placenta next!

photo by allie b photography

What a magical experience.  Allie was able to make it for the placenta birth, and she got some beautiful pictures of our family - thank you so much for taking the time away from your family to document this special time in our lives you can watch the slideshow here - I've only watched it about 100 times  Crysta was there with love and support... and she ended up cleaning up my poop.  Thank you Crysta, for being there - for being a wonderful presence - for being patient - for cleaning up my poop.   I was SO glad to have people there for 3rd stage and immediately after - just perfect!

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Donna - thank you for no dopplers, for no vaginal exams this entire pregnancy.  Thank you for such wonderful care and advice - you are an absolutely amazing midwife!  Thank you to James for sitting patiently - for those small words of encouragement - I love you and am so glad to have been able to experience this birth in this way - even though you were nervous.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you Bell - for starting my life over, and putting me on the path to experiencing this amazing birth.

photo by allie b photography

Thank you God, for watching over our family and our birth team.  I didn't need an unassisted birth... I needed THIS birth!

photo by allie b photography


Just a few thoughts after the fact...  I am a firm believer in learning from *every* situation.  Birth stories and photos and related can be picked apart until there is nothing left - especially in an online environment.  This is my birth.  This was an amazing birth.  You may see things in this birth story that don't jive with what you believe, and that is OK.  You may see things that empower you, and that is wonderful.  You should read this and learn something you want, or don't want, for your birth.   You should also know that this is a very very small, albeit significant, snippet of my life, and you need to plan for YOUR birth.  For me?  I would likely really focus on an unassisted birth next time.  If my husband did not feel comfortable with that, I would be very choosy on the people in my space, just as I was with this birth.  There is a hat on my newborn.  I wouldn't do that again, at all.  We didn't care about the hat, and it wasn't on long, and no issues resulted from it - but it has the potential of messing with the safety of birth, so I wouldn't do that again.  I also would keep the placenta attached until I request it to be separated.  We, of course, waited until it stopped pulsing.  It was easier in the moment for me to move and such - but it would specifically not be a "thing" in a future birth until after the placenta was birthed, at least.  Regardless how annoying those after pains are, there is no way my baby is leaving my side.  If you want to pick apart my birth, and want to know the intimate details of my choices and why and how they've affected my entire family - and for future births, please get in touch with me - I am always more than happy to share.

Labor Prayer

The rest of my birth kit items arrived last week from There was a nice little bookmark with a labor prayer by Donna Wilson added that I really wanted to share with everyone. It says “home” in one spot – but is a perfect prayer for everyone in all birth environments as you near your birthing time.



Tell me your story. I'd love to help you have a happy healthy birth!

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