by Mary Hawley Dirig on Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 9:19pm · 

"I think I'm pregnant" There, I said it. I had suspected for about a week, secretly bought a pregnancy test, and just blurted out the news to Dave while sitting at the dinner table. Surprise! Last fall we had just moved home, Dave had no job, and we had no health insurance. I was a wreck. Until I said those 4 words. And he responded calmly that he already knew (apparently I was REALLY cranky, lol), and that it would all be just fine. And I knew it would be. The next few months were a blur of paperwork and phone calls, but I finally secured some health insurance, and started the search for a midwife.


Four years ago (right before my c-section with Aria), someone asked me if I would ever consider a homebirth and I thought they were crazy. But it didn't take long for me to see the benefits of birthing at home, and after a successful VBAC with Juliet, we knew that our next baby would most likely be born at home (we just didn't think it would happen so soon!). After numerous phone calls trying to find a midwife who would come all the way out to our house in the boonies, I finally found my amazing midwife, Connie.


Fast forward about 6 months...


On the day that Cora was born, I woke up to some pretty strong contractions, but that wasn't really anything new...I'd been having them for weeks, but for some reason I mentioned it to Dave as he was leaving for work. After the girls got up, we decided to go to my sister in law's house so I could have a little break while they played with their cousin. We went for a short walk outside right before lunch time, and I had a few more strong contractions that actually made me have to stop walking. Again, I didn't really think it was anything. On the way home we stopped at McDonald's (I know, I know), and all of a sudden the contractions got REALLY strong. I took Juliet potty, and somehow managed to carry 2 Happy Meals, 2 drinks, and another bag of food (because Mommy has to eat too...I know, I know) out to the car while holding both of their hands and dealing with contractions. I timed them on the way home and they were about 7 minutes apart. After putting the girls down for their naps (of course they didn't want to sleep that day), I called Connie to let her know that I THOUGHT I might be in labor, and then I called Dave's work to let him know as well. It was about 2pm. Nothing really changed after this point, and I was afraid that Connie would drive all the way out here and Dave would leave work only for this to be a false alarm. You'd think after having 2 kids that I'd know the signs of labor ::) But when Dave came home he knew it was for real (he always knows), and soon after that (around 3:30) Connie and her assistant (Mary) arrived. My contractions continued, pretty strong and pretty close together, but I was getting worried that I wouldn't have one of my infamous fast labors. Dave and Connie and Mary were buzzing around getting supplies and the tub ready. Of course, the hot water wasn't working, so my saint of a sister Athena stayed upstairs boiling water on the stove and carrying it down to fill the tub. Someone suggested that I go for a walk outside, so Dave and I went for a walk around the driveway. 

 We got back to the front porch and I had another contraction 
 and Connie said she thought it was about time to get in the tub, but that she wanted to check me first. I was expecting her to say I was about 6 or 7 cm at the most (it didn't feel intense enough for me to be any further along than that), but I was 9cm! Just as I was about to get in the tub, my contractions changed, and I could actually feel my body start to bare down; and as soon as I got in the water my body REALLY started to bare down. It's absolutely amazing what you're capable of doing when you let go of your fear and allow your body to do what it was created to do. 
I pushed for 17 minutes, and Cora was born at 5:37pm.


Having her at home was absolutely the best decision we could have made. I know that home birth and/or "natural" birth isn't for everyone, but if my story can help even one person decide to go this route (as the stories of several of my friends led me to do), I'd be so happy. I'm so grateful for everyone who supported me before, during, and after Cora's birth, especially Connie and Mary. And it goes without saying that I couldn't have done this without my amazing husband. I am so blessed.


She's the best "surprise" ever


Alexander's Birth Story

June 5, 2014 at 6:16pm

When I think about writing out this birth story, the first thing I want to do is laugh! I spent months preparing by reading countless birth stories, watching birth videos, planning thank-you gifts for people in attendance, buying champagne for the big group toast following the birth, hiring a birth photographer, adorning my heart and my walls with birth affirmations and art, having a “birth party”, wearing birth blessing beads from my friends and family leading up to and during the birth, and preparing the kids for the big event. I was very peaceful about the whole thing. Ready to labor all day with my community of support helping me through. Then, my water broke…and my labor happened as IT wanted to.


The timeline may be a bit fuzzy, but here is the story to the best of my ability.


Around 11:30pm, May 27, while still awake in bed, my water broke. Just a trickle, no glorious movie scene gush. We call our midwife who says we should put the plastic on the bed and then try to sleep. I text my support people so that they know what’s going on. I try to sleep…Josh DOES sleep…


Shortly after midnight some crampy contractions start. I download an app for timing contractions. They’re about 5-8 minutes apart and totally livable. Ruby wakes up and climbs into bed with me. I don’t sleep…I time contractions. Ruby sleeps…



Around 3am I am up and pacing and call Connie. Activation midwife…she’s on her way! I call my friend Erin, who I’m surprised hadn’t responded to the earlier text (found out later her phone was being weird and not alerting her to texts!). I don’t want to bother her, but she says she’s on her way too! I wake up Josh and tell him things are progressing quickly now. I ask him to put Ruby back into her own bed.


By the time Connie arrives at 3:30 I have settled into a groove of pacing between contractions and leaning with my hands on the arm of the couch and swaying during contractions. They are much closer together now…not sure how close…3-4 minutes? Erin arrives at 3:40 and I am still talking and laughing in between contractions. But the contractions are intensifying quickly. Within 10 minutes or so I’m not having fun anymore!


This brings us to around 4am, May 28. Contractions are intense and close together. I’m wondering why I can’t be more chill about the whole thing. I don’t want anyone to touch me at all during contractions. I ask if there’s something else I can be doing to make these contractions more tolerable. As Connie’s getting some natural remedies to try to help, I’m puking and crying in the tiny downstairs bathroom. I hear Connie telling Josh to get the couch ready since I may not be making it upstairs.


I decide I want to get in the shower and get away from people (other than Josh), so we go upstairs. Things continue to ramp up in the shower and I am just moaning and yelling away. My noise wakes Ruby up at about 4:15. She was crying but as soon as Erin told her mommy was getting ready to have the baby she stopped crying and was excited! Erin and Ruby went downstairs.


Around 4:30 I knew I needed to get to that bed. I knew that’s where I needed to be and as soon as I lay down on my side my body started getting ready to push. I was in transition and freaking out!! In fact I was saying to Connie, “I’m freaking out, Connie! I’m freaking out!!” I had planned to be more graceful during this birth, but my body was in charge, not me. Connie responded with complete calm.  Thankfully this freak out stage only lasted about 5 minutes. Then my baby had made its way into position and it was pushing time!


(You may have noticed that I went from talking and laughing in between contractions to pushing in less than 1 hour! No wonder it was so intense!)


So, my baby was ready to be born and my body pushed on its own. I could feel the baby’s head rocking down the birth canal as I pushed, and then ease back up a bit as I rested between contractions. It was pretty amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was intense, I felt everything, I was worried about tearing because this labor was even shorter than my previous one, but my body was doing its own thing and I had no choice but to trust it. Connie helped me stay focused and slow down when it was necessary, but mostly she just trusted me and my body as well. The baby and I were doing it! My eyes were closed the whole time resting in between. Josh was giving me sips of water between running back and forth to the bathroom to get washcloths wet/warm for Connie!


Around 4:45 the nurse, Kim, arrived. Finally the baby’s head was born! I felt this crazy feeling and I thought Connie and Kim were moving the baby around, but it was the baby moving ITSELF into position to be born the rest of the way! I had never felt that before. Very cool in hindsight, but in the moment I asked the professionals what the heck they were doing to me! I was surprised how hard I still had to push to get the baby’s shoulders, torso and legs out. Because I had torn so much with my previous birth, she just kind of popped out all the way all at once. At 4:52 our baby was born!! The morning birds were chirping about the baby's arrival outside our window. 


Erin and Ruby heard the baby cry and came running upstairs! Ruby climbed up on the bed by me and we all discovered that the baby was a BOY! It was amazing and exciting, and of all the times for my cry baby self NOT to cry, I didn’t cry. I think I was still just overwhelmed with it all.


A less than 5 hour labor with such a short late stage of labor. Everything happening in the middle of the night. Hardly anyone here. No birth photographer. No crowd celebrating the baby’s arrival. No kids downstairs making a Birth Day cake during labor. Nothing like what I had planned. I feel no disappointment in the way things played out. I just have to laugh! I had planned such a peaceful, graceful homebirth. My body and baby had other plans. But that plan included no scary moments, and a completely healthy mama and baby.


I did have some small tears…mainly along the scar tissue of the previous tears. That’s hard to avoid. We all did the best that we could. So, I delivered the placenta, and got sewed up a little. Josh woke up Gabe to join us a little before 6am. He was groggy and excited. He and Josh cut the umbilical cord, and the baby was on its own for the first time! Gabe really wanted to watch a movie, but he also didn’t want to leave us. So he watched a little of a movie on Josh’s phone in bed with the family.


So, that is the story and our first moments as a family of 5.

Baby is here!