Laura and I met just before she got pregnant with Levi. We became internet BFF’s pretty fast as we are both photographers and moms and totally connected. We decided to trade newborn photos for Levi for Family photos for us (If you want to see our Family session, you can find it on her blog HERE!), then soon after, they also hired me to be their doula for Levi’s birth! It was amazing. Birth is just amazing.
Here’s her birth story, in her own words (and photos from their newborn session to accompany):
"Wednesday, April 12th, (2 days past my EDD I started googling and trying natural, non-invasive ways to kick-start labour. Some worked to bring on contractions for a couple of hours, but they were very mild and faded away shortly thereafter as my body just wasn’t ready yet. Each day it was the same thing, though each day the contractions were a little bit stronger before they disappeared. Thus, on Thursday night (or technically Friday morning as it was just past midnight), when contractions started again I dismissed them and figured they would fade away within a couple hours as per usual. While I waited for them to fade, I figured I might as well take a shower “just in case” as I was planning to the next morning anyways. The fact that they didn’t fade away as I shifted activities and went about taming my wet hair at 1am should have been a clue, but it wasn’t.
Nick was working downstairs until just after 2am trying to finish up some projects before baby, and then he headed to bed. I, however, laid awake and messaged my doula on FB with an update – for the next morning of course, cause I wasn’t really in labour as far as I was concerned. Then around 3am I felt a wet gush and dashed across the room to the bathroom to catch the rest of my water breaking. I was thinking to myself that I might not still be in labour since your water can break way in advance of contractions. (You know, since the contractions I was having weren’t real as far as I was concerned.) At that point I was pretty excited that we were getting close, though, after so many days of waiting, so I woke up Nick to announce we may have a baby soon. I also downloaded a contraction app to time them and was shocked to discover that they weren’t 30 seconds long like I thought, but over a minute in duration. I was counting them myself in really slow “one-mississippi’s” so didn’t actually realize. I further wasn’t convinced this was “it” as some were 8 minutes apart, others 90 seconds, or even 20 seconds. I thought it might not be the real deal since they were supposed to be spaced nicely in 5-minute intervals according to the internet and most people I talked to.
When I had to start taking quick breaks in conversation during the contractions, Nick suggested strongly that I actually call my doula. I protested saying that everything was still very bearable (as I was comparing it to the pain of being induced with Micah and it was nothing in comparison thus far), but he won out. My doula said she was on her way over despite my statements that I really wasn’t sure I needed help yet. Nick also wanted me to call the midwives, but being that it was like 3:30am, I also protested against that. He and my doula overrode my hesitation there as well, and it was good they did! About five minutes after hanging up from everyone I decided that I was for sure in labour now, and I was very glad everyone was on their way.
My doula only lives about 12 minutes from us so she arrived first and suggested that I maybe move off the floor, where I had ended up, onto the bed, and that’s when the contractions really started in earnest. By the time the midwives arrived 30 minutes later, I didn’t care. I didn’t even open my eyes to look at them. I wasn’t prepared to have no breaks in my labour. I imagined I’d alternate pain with rest, but Levi came so fast and furiously and one contraction rolled into another seamlessly. There was only lots of pain and slightly less pain. The midwives and my doula were wonderful and kept checking on baby to make sure he was doing okay and assuring me he was. But for the most part, they were so unobtrusive, helpfully offering suggestions only as needed.
About 30 minutes after the midwives arrived, I laid down for a rest as I had been on my knees up until that point so gravity would speed up the whole ordeal. As soon as I did that, I could feel my body pushing baby out and I got my first rest from contractions. I had about 40 seconds of sweet relief but was being instructed to push rather than relish in it. About 3 contractions later he was out! I’m still not convinced I wouldn’t have wanted a longer labour with actual breaks, but I also can’t complain that it was only super intense between 3:30 and 4:55 when he was born – all 9lbs and 1 ounce of him!
After a painful miscarriage and a traumatic 3.5 day hospital-induced labour, I have to say that this home birth redeemed everything for me. It was so wonderful to be in the comfort of my own home, to not worry about rushing out or when to leave, and to crawl into my own blankets afterwards. It was so nice to have home care for the next few days and not even have to leave my bedroom. It was also nice to not have drugs as an option because I am not a fan of pain and probably would have caved if they could be offered, but it was so worth it to be able to experience everything without being numbed. All in all it was an amazing experience. Incredibly painful, but totally amazing!"
Alyssa Kellert is newborn, birth, documentary family photographer + film maker as well as a birth doula, and is located in Greater Vancouver, BC Canada. Head over to her Facebook page to see more of her most recent work at facebook.com/alyssakellert, or follow her on Instagram @alyssakellertphoto. You are welcome to email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact page on this site for more information!