A mother blessing & why every mama to be should have one...

Not sure about you, but I generally hate baby showers. The forced gift giving, the awkwardness, the stupid games, I'm simply not a fan (no offense)... But, luckily there is an alternative for every mama to be & it's something that every guest is guaranteed to enjoy. Maybe you've heard of it, maybe not. It's called a mother blessing, also known as a blessing way, & this gathering will leave you pretty speechless. "A mother's blessing is an intimate party inspired by an ancient Navajo ceremony called a blessing way. The ceremony is held to prepare an expectant mother for her upcoming birth journey—to shower mom-to-be with love, support and encouragement."

Mother blessings are not about getting gifts, it's a celebration of the mama to be, to let her know she has a village of strong women behind her to support her, to make it known that she is amazing and loved! No matter how many babies a mama has had, each pregnancy should be celebrated! Seriously, whether it's your first or fifth baby, you deserve a blessing way!

The mama to be does no work in preparation for this ceremony besides deciding who she wants to be apart of her day. It's best to keep the ceremony intimate so I suggest having no more than 15 women. Ask that every guest bring a potluck dish to share and something like a bead for a necklace, a candle for her birth space, and/or a flower to create flower crowns. Each mama is different so I like to plan a mother blessing that will reflect the personality and interests of the mama to be.

All mother blessings are different, because like I said, they should reflect the personality and interests of the mama to be. I usually start by gathering in a circle and having everyone introducing themselves, we then go around and present the item that we have brought for the mama and a story of how you met the mama and why she's special to you or words of encouragement to go with it (this is usually when the tears start flowing), we then do a craft (creating an empowerment banner, make flower crowns, decorate a candle, make a necklace, etc) while the mama gets pampered with something like a foot soak, a massage, or henna, before we get ready to feast on the delicious potluck dishes we give the mama to be our best wishes for her birth & this new journey! 

You will leave a mother blessing feeling refreshed, empowered and uplifted. There is nothing to describe the sacredness of these ceremonies. All of the emotions & the beauty of having a group of women get together to support a mama to be is quite a powerful and rare experience in today's modern culture. I hope that you would consider giving the gift of a mother blessing ceremony to a mama to be. I am sure she will remember it for a lifetime!

The photos below are from a mother blessing ceremony that I had for my friend Erika last weekend. Erika has become one of my dearest mama friends, she is apart of my village and I'm thankful to have her in my life. As always, there were tears & lots of laughter! It was a beautiful day celebrated and surrounded with a group of beautiful women (& babies). Check it out!

All photos are owned & copyright by Wanderlust Birth + Photo 2017. Do not use without permission.

 

The Waterbirth of Enzlo

It's been quite a while since I've blogged a birth since I've been so insanely busy attending them. Anyways, I'm hoping to get back in the swing of writing birth stories again and this is one I definitely want to share.

A mutual friend tagged me in a Facebook post of a young mom to be who was hoping to go natural and looking to have a water birth. I got in touch with Hayden and sent her some resources, encouraged her to watch The Business of Being Born, and invited her to my upcoming birth prep class. A few weeks after taking my class Hayden and her partner, Lorenzo, decided to hire me as their doula. I was excited & eager to work with them because I felt I could relate to them in some ways. They were a young couple, with a baby on the way, hoping to do things "alternatively" with not much support or encouragement from their families (regarding the birth aspect). 

Around 11pm Hayden texted me that she was having some contractions that felt pretty intense and I encouraged her to rest if she still could. I got a few hours of sleep and in the middle of the night Lorenzo called and said they were headed to the Elmer hospital. 

I arrived at 4am to Hayden in her zone and Lorenzo helping her through contractions. They were listening to Pink Floyd and everything was totally peaceful. Her uncle was there photographing the birth as well, and we both sat quietly in awe of Hayden and her strength. 

When Hayden's mom arrived I could tell she was emotional to see her daughter in pain. I knew that she was bit nervous about Hayden giving birth naturally at first, but she immediately picked up on the vibe in the room and supported Hayden in any way she could. There are some births where the mamas need a lot of hands on support, but Hayden's birth required me to hold space. Lorenzo and Hayden's mom supported Hayden physically through the contractions with the power of touch, while I emotionally supported her and did my best to create a calm environment. With this much love and support Hayden's oxytocin was flowing. 

At 5:15 am the midwife checked her and she was 8-9 cm dilated and the baby was at a +1 station.  After this, Hayden and Lorenzo just laid in the bed together, cuddled up as one unit and there was no doubt how totally in love they were with each other. Hayden started to cry as the music kept playing and it was just one of those moments that leaves everyone in the room speechless. 

Around 6am she got into the tub and felt the urge to push. At this point nothing was comfortable and she was ready to meet her baby. The sun started to rise and filled the room with fresh light. At 7:40am Hayden birthed her beautiful baby boy the exact way she wanted to in the birth tub. Lorenzo and Hayden's moms eyes were filled with tears as soon as they saw him. 

I was so happy for Hayden and Lorenzo to have the exact birth they had envisioned and plan for come true. It was an honor being apart of their birth team for such a beautiful birth. It fills me with joy knowing that they will inspire their friends to learn about the benefits of having a natural birth and how much of an empowering experience it can be. 

All photos are owned and copyright by Wanderlust Birth + Photo. Please do not use or copy without permission. 

Monika & Bart, Sunset Beach Cape May

Last weekend I headed down to Sunset Beach, Cape May to shoot my doula clients, Monika & Bart's maternity session. They are expecting their first little one in a few short weeks and I am so excited to be attending their birth. We got there just before sunset & I am so excited with the way their photos turned out. They just loved on each other on the gorgeous beach and I just happened to be there with my camera, shooting away. The weather was beautiful, the sunset was beautiful, everything was beautiful! One of those evenings that I remember just how much I love what I do. Here are some of my favorites from their sunset session. 

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World Breastfeeding Week 2015 featuring Nicole K

"World Breastfeeding Week means that we have a week to focus on getting out information to the public as to why breastfeeding is normal and natural and the preferred feeding method for all children.  If we can help to normalize breastfeeding just a little bit and un-do some of the damage done in the United States with views towards public breastfeeding then we have achieved a lot!"

" What I love the most about breastfeeding my little girl is the bond that I know we have.  At 10 months old now, although very distracted when we are out and about, she gets so excited when her she knows she is getting her "milkly!"  I also love that I know she is getting so much nutrition everyday" 

" I think the most important thing is to be confident and nurse in public to help normalize breastfeeding.  Also, the support from healthcare professionals is crucial!  Doctors, nurses, etc need to support and educate on the importance of breastfeeding and get proper training and be able to recognize that they are not the breastfeeding experts and always defer to the experts (Lactation Consults) in the hospital.  Also, any mom who is breastfeeding in the hospital should be scheduled before discharge with a lactation follow-up with an IBCLC of their choice. "

"The greatest challenge was the first few weeks of nursing as my baby had a posterior tongue tie and nursing was extremely painful.  I was 100% dedicated and determined and I did not care how much pain I was in in order to provide the best nutrition for my child.  After all...I just got through natural child birth!" 

World Breastfeeding Week 2015 featuring Lara B.

"World breastfeeding week is a way for everyone (not just breastfeeding moms) to come together to recognize and support the awesomeness of breastfeeding. I think so much more needs to be done in the U.S. to support families who breastfeed. Dads, grandparents, siblings should all be celebrated because sometimes in a breastfeeding journey, it really does take a village!"

"I absolutely love the bond. The quiet and peace I feel when she's in my arms nursing is something I can't describe to people and am so grateful to have experienced. I had to have an emergency csection and didn't get to hold her for over 12 hours and couldn't nurse her for 24! But the second I held her skin to skin and she latched, she looked at me like "hey, I know you. I like it here". I love that I can comfort her in a way that no one else can. "

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"I can't stress enough how important I think paid maternity leave is. I had to return to work at 10 weeks...to a job as a nurse, working 12 hour shifts overnight. Keeping up with pumping while taking care of patients was incredibly difficult. I had to start supplementing my daughter way before I was ready because I just couldn't keep up with my supply while being away from her for so long. I think more women would continue breastfeeding longer or exclusively breastfeed longer if we allowed women to be with their babies for longer than 6 weeks!!"

"My "baby" turned one yesterday! I never had a goal and I'm glad about that. I always thought we would do it as long as it worked for us and I'm very happy to say it's still working for us!"


World Breastfeeding Week 2015 featuring Kate & Sheree

"To me it means the opportunity to have our voices heard. The more people talk about breastfeeding, the more people see other moms breastfeeding, the more normal it becomes. Some people claim to be offended by mothers breastfeeding in public but are more than okay with women walking around in bikinis. I'd like to challenge that idea and get people thinking a little more."-Kate

"World breastfeeding week has become very important to me now as a breastfeeding mama. I have come to realize the importance to normalize breastfeeding in the world today and to make it acceptable and comfortable for everyone. To have a week where moms around the world can promote such a special, healthy, and natural experience has become so inspiring to me. No breastfeeding mother should ever feel uncomfortable or judged for providing the best possible nutrition for their child. Helping to educate the public in normalizing this has become a huge inspiration for myself during world breastfeeding week. "-Sheree

"The first 6 weeks were so challenging. I had a 36 hour labor where I was pumped full of fluids which I believe inflated my babies birth weight. Birth weight is the "magic" number as far as weight gain goes for breastfed babies (according to MOST pediatricians). They like babies to get back to birth weight as soon as possible but it took us 4 grueling weeks to get there. Those weeks were filled with weight checks at the doctors office, constant stress about my supply, and of course, LOTS of support from the lactation consultants at South Jersey Breastfeeding Center. In fact, I saw them the day after I was discharged from the hospital before most of my friends had even met the baby."-Kate

"The best advice I could give, is don't compare yourself to others and don't give up without a fight. Breastfeeding doesn't come easy especially in the beginning when you are getting an hour of sleep. Also, every mom and their body is different, so don't compare yourself to everyone else and trust in your body. There will be bumps in the road but as long as you do the best you can that's what matters most!"-Sheree

"Have realistic goals. Make sure you understand that it can be very challenging for some moms and babies. Have a prenatal appointment with a lactation consultant and follow up as soon as you can after discharge from the hospital. While in the hospital utilize the LC that they have. ASK FOR HELP." -Kate

"Now almost 7 months in, NO! I never thought I would make it this far. Before giving birth I was so scared I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. I was scared that it would hurt too bad. I was scared my milk wouldn't come in or that my baby might not take to breastfeeding. All my friends who have had children only breastfed for short periods of time and so I set myself up for the same kind of journey. But now almost 7 months in on my own journey I was completely wrong and have found a huge support group of strong and supportive moms that have been so supportive to one another." - Sheree

"I love that it's natural (and FREE!). I love the special bond and alone time it gives me with the baby, I love when she's eating and just stares in my eyes. Lately she had been unlatching just to smile up at me. It is the best." - Kate

"I love that I am able to be the one to provide my child her nutrition in the most natural and healthy way!" - Sheree

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World Breastfeeding Week 2015 featuring Jenny M.

"World breastfeeding week is a celebration of all women, globally, who choose to nourish their babies in the most natural way possible.  For some cultures there is simply no other way, but for women in the United States breastfeeding is somewhat controversial." 

"Breastfeeding aids in the development and growth of a baby with residual affects that last for years. Breastfeeding provides nourishment and antibodies that protect against diseases while enhancing intellectual stimulation. Most importantly though, is the bond that breastfeeding creates between a mom and baby. Breastfeeding gives me an overwhelming sense of joy and love and pride."

"We need to educate people on breastfeeding. I have co-workers that think it’s completely unfair that I get to take breaks to go pump milk for my baby. I am questioned as to why I have to pump at 10 am and 3 pm, and not during the scheduled lunch break.  I’ve tried to explain the physiology of breastfeeding, the supply and demand aspects, and of course the unwavering benefits of continuing until my baby is 1 year. Despite my efforts it is still the opinion of my co-workers that I’m just taking a leisurely break and enjoying myself. Thankfully I have the law on my side. Why can’t we support each other though? Women have dual roles. We give birth to and nourish babies and we are a part of the workforce. We need support from our co-workers…from our fellow human beings. A baby needs special attention that only a mother can provide."

"I set a goal to breastfeed for at least 6 months.  Well, I’m 2 weeks shy of my goal now and there’s no end in sight.  I know without a doubt, I will continue breastfeeding my baby for at least the first year of her life."

World Breastfeeding Week 2015 featuring Lauren J.

"To me, World Breastfeeding Week is an opportunity to celebrate the importance, joys, and challenges of breastfeeding and to show the world that it is a beautiful, natural, and normal thing to do. We all have to feed our babies, and if World Breastfeeding Week helps a few Moms feel less nervous doing so in public and educates a few people to be kinder and more understanding towards breastfeeding mamas than it will have been a success!"

I would tell a new mom wanting to breastfeed that she can do it! I would encourage her to trust that her body and her baby will work together in the way that is right for them. I would definitely tell her to reach out to community supports - like a local breastfeeding center - where she can meet with lactation consultants and build a network of support from other breastfeeding moms. There is so much conflicting information out there from pediatricians, well-meaning family and friends, and the internet that it can be easy to get overwhelmed and give up. Surround yourself with people who have the same goal as you and professionals who are trained in helping you meet that goal (whatever it may be)!

 When I was pregnant, my goal was to breastfeed until my baby turned one. Once she was born, I was lucky to have a (mostly) easy time learning to breastfeed and getting into a good routine with her. However, there were many times - especially early on - when I felt completely overwhelmed by the pressure to provide for her and not knowing 'if I was doing it right'. Exhaustion and self-doubt are a deadly combination and I definitely had my moments of thinking I couldn't do it any longer. Now that baby is almost 9 months old and the 1 year mark is quickly approaching, I find myself hoping we will surpass that goal. Breastfeeding provides us with a few minutes to really connect and put the rest of the world on hold, and I'll miss those moments with my daughter when they're gone. 

World Breastfeeding Week 2015

What does World Breastfeeding Week mean to you? 

"This World Breastfeeding Week, WABA calls for concerted global action to support women to combine breastfeeding and work. Whether a woman is working in the formal, non-formal or home setting, it is necessary that she is empowered in claiming her and her baby’s right to breastfeed."-worldbreastfeedingweek.org

Over the month of July I photographed several mamas in the South Jersey area and asked them what breastfeeding meant to them. Why is it important to normalize breastfeeding? What does it mean to be able to breastfeed in public? How can we make breastfeeding a better experience for working moms? Each day this week I will feature a mama and her personal experience with breastfeeding because everyone's journey is significantly different. Thank you to all of the mamas who participated.

 

Being on the other side {Homebirth of Indy}

I'll start by saying my birth was fucking awesome. For months I told myself it was going to be extremely difficult and painful, just because I wanted to expect the worst. But, what I experienced was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. It was the craziest natural high that I didn't even know was possible. I wish more women could say they enjoyed their births as much as I enjoyed mine. When you're pregnant you hear a million horror stories, and everyone says "get the drugs, don't be a hero". Of course it was painful & intense, but so incredibly worth it. There's seriously nothing like it. Giving birth truly shows you just how strong you are, no matter how you do it, natural, epidural, c-section, home, or hospital.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission.

I thought about this day long before I even found out I was pregnant. After having the privilege of attending several births over the past two years, it was finally time for me to attend my own.

Prenatally I followed all of the advice I give my doula clients. I got routine chiropractic adjustment & acupuncture, did squats and kegels, drank raspberry red leaf tea, took evening primrose oil, etc. I'd like to think it all helped me have a smooth pregnancy in labor. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't. But, it certainly didn't hurt.

My due date {April 10th} came and went. Everyone was anxious/excited besides me. "Is the baby here yet?"/"Any signs of labor?" HOLY SHIT did I want to turn my phone off. I was in no hurry for my baby to come, I was enjoying quality time with my dog and sleeping in until 2 in the afternoon. My thoughts were: why should I be so excited about extreme sleep deprivation & being a human cow? From being a doula I knew how stressful the postpartum period could actually be and again I anticipated the worst, just in case.

Saturday, April 18th, I woke up and went to the bathroom several of times like I had been for the past few weeks. Around 5:30am I felt a little crampy, but went back to bed. I remember the sun starting to rise and I couldn't sleep so I just sat in bed uncomfortably and tried to find a comfortable position. Johnny woke up (kind of) and asked if I was okay, I told him I was in early labor, but he could continue to sleep.

7:01am the "cramps" were getting more intense & I had to pee again. I told Johnny to call his boss, today was the day. I texted Morgan (doula) & Tammy (birth photographer) and said,"Morning mamas! In early labor... Having ctx for 2 hours, nothing major. I'll keep you updated when I head to my grandma's house." I went upstairs to pee and GUSH, my water broke all over the floor. It wouldn't stop, it was all over and I had no towels to clean up. I texted Johnny & said "Bring me up towels, my water just broke all over the floor." I texted my midwife and got in the shower. The hot water felt great, the cramps were gone, but I knew I couldn't stay in there too long. I got out of the shower and there were no damn towels. I called Johnny twice, no answer. I ran downstairs only to find him dead asleep still. "Wake up! We need to go!" As soon as I got out of the shower and to my bedroom, I was in labor land. My contractions were strong and close together.

"Water broke half hour ago, ctx are close together. Heading to my grandmas now, I'll let you know when I'm there." -8:15am

"There like super close, every 2 mins, maybe closer." -8:25am. I put on a robe & slippers. Told Johnny to get my hard boiled eggs out of the fridge and went to the car. I was totally dreading the drive to my grandma's house in Philly, but I was so excited to get there. He quickly packed up the car with clothes and stuff for the week, our dog (Roofus) & beer. The car ride was hell, I could not wait to get into the birth tub. I sat in the car in hands and knees and I just remember Roofus' hot nasty dog breath in my face the whole time, EW.

I quickly got out of the car and waddled my ass upstairs to that tub. Tammy & Morgan were already there and the midwives assistant (Wendy) was on her way. I got in the tub, which wasn't even done filling up and sat inside. FINALLY! I was in my beautiful birth space, this was really happening.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Several of people were coming in and filling the tub with boiling water from downstairs and Morgan sat with me as Johnny brought in all of our stuff from the car. He set up our record player and all I wanted to hear was Dark Side of the Moon. My contractions were coming strong and consistent. I couldn't believe I was in labor, it still didn't feel real. When Wendy arrived she checked the heartbeat, which was perfect & mentioned that the tub had to be hotter, so I got out and went into the shower as I waited for the birth tub to fill up with the hot water.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

 

Once I got out of the shower, I came back into the bedroom and threw up all over the bed. ALL OVER. Usually I'm not grossed out by throw up, but it smelt disgusting, like no other throw up I've ever smelt. I knew this was a sign things were progressing though, so I remained optimistic. After I labored for a little longer, Wendy asked if she could check me. "Watch me be 1 cm dilated", I thought to myself as she checked me (which wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be). I was 5cm, and baby was doing good with a strong heartbeat. It felt good knowing I was 5cm and this was the real deal. I continued to labor on the bed for a little where Morgan did the hip squeeze on me and it felt AH-MAZING. Then I got back into the tub, which was SUPER hot after it was all filled with the boiling water. Johnny got in with me and I would not let him take his hands off of my hips.  It was hard to get comfortable at this point, no position felt good. But, that hip squeeze was EVERYTHING.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission  All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permissionAll images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

In between contractions I felt great. I could hold conversations and was fully aware of what was going on around me. I told Johnny to put on our Ravi Shankar vinyl which was incredibly relaxing. Although, as soon as a contraction would come on, I would moan & grunt "Fuuuuuccckkkkkkkk this" & "Nooooooo". Morgan encouraged me to say "Yes" instead of no, and at first it felt really ridiculous and strange. But, it did make a little difference. I remember Johnny putting on the Rolling Stones vinyl we had, and every song made sense to me. Especially 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction'. After Karen (midwife) arrived and monitored me for a little, she suggested I get up and go to the bathroom.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I LOVED the bathroom. I didn't leave it for the next 4 1/2 hours. The toilet felt amazing. Never would have thought that the toilet would be my favorite place to labor. Johnny massaged the back of my neck and I relaxed as much as I could in between contractions. As one would come on I would stand up and moan REALLY, REALLY loud. It's true, your body knows exactly what to do. I thought that I for sure had to be in transition. I could not fight the urge to push. As much pain as I was in, I never once thought "I can't do this." I just let my body take over and exactly what it was meant to do. I kept thinking about how smoothly everything was going.

Wendy suggested the birth stool, which I hated at first and immediately got off and went right back to the toilet, but it eventually grew on me.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I asked Karen if I was close and she said to check myself. I stuck my fingers up there and didn't feel anything. OH MY GOD this is going to take forever I thought.

 A little later, I asked what time it was because I was now really feeling the urge to push. This baby was bearing down. It was around 2pm, when Wendy checked me again. 10cm!  I was ready to officially push! My contractions came and went and I pushed with them & the breaks in between were like ecstasy. I pushed and pushed and pushed.

I had been pushing for at least 1 hour at this point and it was just Morgan and I in the bathroom. Johnny was napping on a chair outside the room with Roofus. I looked at Morgan and said, "I would never want to be numb for this. I can't imagine having an epidural." I was in the most intense part of labor & couldn't imagine how I would push if I were numb. Although it was painful, it was nothing that my body couldn't handle.

 

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All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I pushed and pushed and pushed. It was now almost 5pm, I checked myself again and I felt the head! I wasn't crowning, but I knew I had finally made noticeable progress. YES! Finally! The end was near. Karen and Wendy came back into the room soon after and everything got real. This baby would actually be here soon. I kept grabbing the hand held mirror to see where the head was at and boy was it close. As the head came closer to crowning my vagina felt dry like a freaking desert. I wanted a constant flow of olive oil squirted on it. At this point they woke up Johnny and told him to come back into the bathroom.

I tried hands and knees, the birth stool & finally side-lying position.  Side-lying seemed to be the most effective position so Karen had me stay like that. As the head started to crown I so badly just wanted to push the whole damn thing out, but I knew I couldn't so I continued to ease it out and push only with contractions. What an incredible feeling! The ring of fire was INTENSE, but also really awesome.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

I was pushing with every ounce of energy I had left in me. My ass! HOLY SHIT, MY ASS! I remember saying, "Jesus f***** christ my asshole feels like it's going to rip open!" just before the head came out. As the head came out it was such a huge relief. I felt another gush of whatever amniotic fluid was left and Karen kept saying, "Mama you gotta push, you gotta push this baby out. You've been doing such a great job!" But, I was literally giving it my everything and all of a sudden she had me turn over and into hands and knees. What a crazy feeling, switching positions with the entire head hanging out of me.

The shoulders were stuck & the body wasn't coming out with my pushes alone, so she manually had to stick her entire forearm into me and pull him out.  Another crazy feeling! Having the entire body plus my midwifes arm up my vagina... As I felt the shoulders and body and then legs come out of me I knew it was all finally over. I FUCKING DID IT!!! Immediately I felt a insane rush of emotions. I looked at Johnny and asked him if it was a boy or girl and Johnny said, "It's a boy!" I instantly started crying and he did too. Another magical moment!

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

He needed to be resuscitated and his shoulder was a little banged up since he did have a pretty severe shoulder dystocia. But, I knew everything was going to be okay. Karen just kept calm & said, "Talk to your baby mama." It took a bit, but then he finally let out a cry and I held him in my arms, skin-to-skin.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

After the birth, I felt complete euphoria. I had blood ALL OVER me, my ass felt like I shit out a bowling ball, but NOTHING could bring me down from this high. It was such a surreal moment in time. During the "golden hour" everyone had left the room (besides Tammy because we have these beautiful photos, but I really had no idea she was even in there with us), Johnny & Roofus had joined the baby and I in the bed. Everything was perfect. I immediately started sobbing because I was so beyond happy. This was our family. This was love.

Roofus wasn't originally in the plan to attend the birth. But, just a few days before my due date I saw photographs from a home birth and a german shepherd just sitting next to the mama in the birth tub and it was beautiful! Roofus was my baby, I couldn't NOT have him there and I'm so happy I changed my mind. He stayed by my side the entire time and was even in the room as the baby was born. Roofus was an important part of my birth team.

My birth was the perfect example of how a birth team works together. Everyone did their thing and together they created an incredible experience for both me and Johnny. An experience I will definitely never forget. I have a whole new level respect for birth work and cannot wait to attend my next birth as a doula!

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Anyways, Karen called Justin (my chiropractor) to come out and check/adjust the baby. So he came out and offered the birth team adjustments, it almost felt like a party at this point. Everyone started cleaning everything up, Johnny gave everyone beer, we had the record player playing good music. This was a real birth day party.

After the baby was adjusted, it was time to take his measurements. Justin bet that the baby was 9lbs 4oz, and I thought he was joking. NO WAY IN HELL did I have a 9lb 4oz baby... I thought at MOST I would have a 7 1/2 lb baby. They put him in the sling and said he was 9lbs exactly. HOLY FUCK! My jaw dropped, I was in serious disbelief. How did 5'0', 100lb (pre-pregnancy) me have a 9lb baby? If I would have known he was going to be that big I would have said see you at the hospital after I get my epidural! (Kidding) But, now I was even more in shock that I did it! I could NOT believe it... (Still can't and it's been 6 weeks)

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All things considered, my birth was pretty "easy". Actually, let me rephrase that! Giving birth is not easy in any way shape or form. It was both physically and emotionally challenging. It was a trip, that's for sure! But, for giving birth naturally to a 9lb baby with a severe shoulder dystocia as a first time mama, I'd say it went extremely smoothly. I wouldn't have changed a damn thing.

This is oxytocin. This is home birth.

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

All images copyright Tammy Bradshaw 2015 and may not be used or reproduced without permission

Credit to Tammy Bradshaw Photography for all of these beautiful pictures. I've found these photos so inspiring that I am seriously considering becoming a surrogate. If you are considering a birth photographer for your birth, do it! I will forever treasure these photos, they are absolutely priceless to me.