Birth

The Birth of Theo | Homebirth | The Woodlands

These are personal and vulnerable moments, it’s real and raw, it’s birth.

Birth is beautiful, I did something I’m so proud of, and this is the story of how Theo entered the world. I remind myself of the handful of women who told me that sharing Remi’s birth story really encouraged them in their own pregnancy and labor, some even choosing a natural birth plan for that reason. That seriously makes it all worth it to me. And if I encourage others to share their birth stories then I definitely should practice what I preach. Lucky for you, I am not posting ALL the photos taken. ;) 

So without further ado…

Saturday morning on April 13th, 2019, we all woke up and had a slow morning eating breakfast together, just the three of us one last time.  After we were finished eating I remember texting my mom at 9:54am saying, “I could be wrong, but I feel like the baby could be here soon,” not knowing that contractions would begin shortly after that. I had felt kind of achy the few days leading up to this one and sensed something was different. Other than that no imminent signs of labor had occurred.

Around 10:30am contractions started. I hardly noticed because they felt like Braxton Hicks, which I had experienced since about 16 weeks on. After about an hour or so I noticed them coming more regularly and only slightly stronger. We were just hanging around the house that day and had planned to drop Remi off at Logan’s moms house to have one last date night before baby arrived. I decided to keep walking around and trying to ignore them (didn’t want to get my hopes up) but thought it might be good to time them in case there was something going on. I continued to time them as I went about the day, resting on the couch, eating pineapple, cleaning, walking, etc. 

After a few hours contractions felt slightly stronger but still not uncomfortable. Logan asked me when we wanted to drop Remi off and I said to him while eating my pineapple during a contraction - “the last thing I want to do when I go into labor is be away from my home.” So he called his mom and told her that I thought I might be in labor and we wouldn’t be bringing Remi. That made it feel more real. 

Around 2:20pm I decided to text my doula, Candice, what had been going on in case things were to progress. I had been having contractions about 7 minutes apart and they were starting to hurt a little bit. I was still hesitant to officially “call it” since I did not want to be a watched pot, or have my birth team show up unneeded. It felt good to just be alone at home doing whatever I needed without worrying about anyone or anything (except taking care of my cutie 2 year old). I liked that it was still just a normal Saturday in the Samperi home with a little hope that we might be meeting our baby soon. Candice suggested I rest in case things happened during the night. 

The rest of the evening I continued to have contractions about 5 minutes apart but really not much closer than that. They were still so manageable, I was still hesitant to tell my midwife what was going on. Surprisingly (but not surprising) I kept wanting to labor on the toilet. I would go attempt to use the restroom and that would cause more contractions (which seemed good to me because #progress). 

As a matter of fact, laboring on the toilet during contractions is amazingly helpful. The natural instinct to release and relax your pelvic floor allows baby to come down easier during each contraction. Still nothing painful happening at this point, but I could tell what I was doing was helping. So I spent a lot of the evening on the pot. Fun!

We put Remi to bed around 7 and went to go watch a movie. I probably bounced on my ball or squatted next to the bed as we watched, I don’t really remember. We were watching Bridesmaids, which I super love and tried to get Logan to watch once when we were first married before getting only about halfway through because the movie froze and wouldn't let us finish watching it. So tonight we were getting another chance! We made it barely halfway AGAIN when I decided I needed to get back on the toilet. After being in there for a while going through a few uncomfortable contractions (was really having to breathe through these now) I ended up losing my mucus plug. As soon as I realized I peeked through the door and told Logan to call everyone and tell them it was time! It was 10:50pm now. 

Logan already had the pool blown up so there was not much prepping we needed to do. I changed into some comfy clothes and began focusing on my contractions. It was about to go down. In my mind I thought I’d have the baby in the next 5-7 hours maybe? 

My midwife, Jaelin, arrived first, then my doula and photographer shortly after. My contractions were getting painful and now I needed some support. Candice and Logan started switching off doing counter pressure (hip squeezes) and sifting with the rebozo. Hip squeezes were CRUCIAL for my pain management. I didn’t realize how much they were helping until Logan let go one time during a contraction, so I made sure someone was there right behind me with each contraction. They were 3 minutes apart now and Logan began filling up the pool. 


I decided to get in the pool around 12:30, knowing it could slow down labor, but I just really wanted the comfort of the warm water. I got in and was immediately relaxed, so much so that I was worried that maybe it would be quite a while until we’d actually have a baby in our arms. I remember still being very alert and able to happily communicate in between contractions. Definitely not how it was during Remi’s birth at this stage of labor.

I had a handful of contractions in the pool until 1am when I decided I needed to get out and just deal with the pain. I just wanted my baby to be here!

I got out of the tub and within seconds I was having several back to back intense contractions. I slowly made it into our bedroom to put on a dry top, trying to find one quickly before another wave hit. I found one I liked and was trying to get it on over my wet sticky body when a contraction began and I whined “I need help!” as the pain took over my body and was no longer able to dress myself. The sweet midwife assistant was right there and jumped in as soon as she saw me ask for help. 

Squatting felt best during these contractions so I leaned on the bed for support while Logan or Candice would give counter pressure (hip squeezes). I knelt on one leg with the other up several times to open up my hips during contractions. It was not long at all before the contractions turned into the urge to push.  That’s the weirdest feeling. Your body takes over and you have no control over it except to allow it to do its job. 

I started getting tired holding myself up next to the bed. I wanted to rest. Logan and I got into our bed and he held my hand as I rested on my side in between contractions. He might have fallen right to sleep at this point if I had not been squeezing the life out of his hand. 

It was probably about 1:45am when the next contraction brought on a big reflex to push which made my water break. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THAT!! 

When my water broke I was already fully dilated - so it felt like baby was about to fall out at any second! Totally painful and totally not expected. It was like zero to one hundred in one second and took me off guard. I definitely lost my cool a little bit when this happened and everyone had to remind me that it was all okay and I needed to slow down and breathe. This experience was a complete contrast to Remi’s birth, one in which I gave all my might pushing out for almost three hours. She definitely paved the way for her sibling!

Keep in mind that we do NOT know the gender, although I felt it was a boy as soon as I found out we were pregnant. So baby’s head is crowning and Jaelin tells me that baby is about to be here, but I’m in the bed and I planned to deliver our baby in the pool. Our conversation went something like this;

Me - “I want to have the baby in the pool!”

Jaelin - “Okay well we have go right now!”

 Me - “But I can’t walk!”

The next thing I know, Logan is scooping me up and carrying me to the living room where the pool is. Everyone got a kick out of that.

He gently sets me in the water and I am sort of floating on my knees trying to slow my breathing and calm down while a baby feels like it’s going to fall out at any minute. Honestly my instinct was to hold it in and slow it down from coming out too fast, I didn’t want that baby to do any damage!

I reach down and start touching the top of baby’s head while slowly allowing my body to release him down farther. Just a side note: For some reason after feeling the top of the head, I convinced myself that it was NOT his head (what was it I don’t know) and that something was wrong. Everyone assured me that it was in fact just his head. I guess you think silly things when you’re in intense pain? LOL

The next contraction happens and the entire head is out now. Jaelin quickly checked to make sure no cord was around his next and then allowed me to continue. The first thing I say is “That was too big of a head.” Then I start to feel around and can feel tiny facial features, I start to smile.

Next contraction the rest of the body is out and I reach down with my other hand and slowly bring baby up to my chest. As I reach down and take hold, I could feel that this little baby is probably not a girl. Raising him up to me I say “it’s a boy!” while Logan and I both look to see officially that we have a son. Theo was born at 2:04am.

It was so surreal just seeing his face for the first time. He had such a boy face! I’m not sure what it is but I think having experienced that once before made the next time so much more emotional and sweet. It wasn’t a huge shock like it was when seeing Remi for the first time. I knew what to expect and all I could feel was LOVE and ELATION! The little son I had been thinking about for nine months was real! 

We had hoped to have Remi present while he was being born, but with it happening so quickly we totally forgot. Logan went and got her out of bed a few minutes after he was born and brought her out to meet him. Of course she was so excited to see new faces in her house, but she was in awe that the baby we had been talking about for so long was finally out of mommy’s belly! The awe wore off after about five minutes then she was asking everyone to play dollhouse with her, including her new brother. 

After the cord was cut Theo was handed to Logan to get skin to skin with him while they brought me to my bed. The midwife assistant took my vitals and then I got more skin to skin with Theo. Remi did not run out of questions while the pool was being taken down and things were getting picked up. 

Theo had his newborn screening done after breastfeeding and then he and I got to soak in an herbal bath to help heal our bodies. It was so sweet to see him instantly relax into that warm water while I gently held them as he floated. That’s when I got to see all the perfect little features my body somehow created.

Then back into bed we went to rest and recover; everyone still helping and doing whatever they needed for us. Candice played with Remi while everything got picked up. Remi just loved having a new friend to play dollhouse with!

After everyone left, Logan put Remi back to bed and then we all got some rest. My parents came over the next morning to meet their new grandson and take Remi home to stay with them for a couple nights. We did not tell them what the gender was before they arrived because I wanted to see what their guess was when they saw him. Immediately they could tell it was a boy by his sweet old man face. 

Choosing to labor and deliver at home was one that I made after realizing that although I enjoyed my experience at a birthing center with Remi, I knew I’d feel even more comfortable in my own home. I really believe that because I wasn’t a ‘watched pot’ for hours on end that I was able to totally relax and allow my body to do what it needed to do. 

Overall, the intense part of my labor lasted just a couple hours before he was born. I had energy after he was born and wasn’t utterly wiped during labor with him. 

Labor with Remi was painful and intense for about 12 hours or so, being in labor for almost 24 on top of pushing for about 3. I was extremely exhausted. Remi was a pound heavier than Theo was at birth, but she was also two weeks later than he was. Theo arrived one week before his due date weighing 8lbs 2oz. They were both 21” long. 

I really only had three *extra wishes* for my birth other than the health and safety of baby and I:

1. That he would be born in the water, 2. That I would not have to “push” him out, that the fetal ejection reflex would take over for that, 3. That I could catch him myself. I can happily say that those desires happened and I had the labor and delivery that I hoped for. I am so thankful for that as I know it doesn’t always turn out how you plan it to. 

A pleasant birth experience is so important not only for mom but baby as well. Find people that fully support you in every decision and help you achieve the goals you set for your labor and delivery. You deserve it and your baby deserves it. I would not have had the same great experience if it was not for my amazing birth team. I HIGHLY recommend each person for anyone in need of these services. 

Midwife: Holistic Heritage Homebirth, Jaelin Stickels & Andie Wyrick

Doula: Woodlands Birth & Baby, Candice Fitzgerald

Photographer:  Cultivating Motherhood, Nicole Bimber
















Birth of Baby Camila | The Woodlands Birth Photographer

By the time I arrived Hannah was already pushing.

Lets back up, Hannah and I met in high school graduating together in 2011. We have stayed friends over social media keeping up with each other lives here and there. When Hannah reached out to me telling me her big news I was overjoyed for her! Not only was she going to have her first baby, but she wanted me to be a part of her birth team. Anyone who knows me knows I love pregnancy and birth - but especially love documenting it!

Now skipping ahead to the big day. Hannah texted me late morning letting me know that early labor signs were starting. We were going to keep in close contact as time went on to see how things progressed with her. Normally, a first time natural birth can be quite long, lasting anywhere from 8-36 hours. We did not expect things to move as quickly as they did. Hannah decided to head to the hospital to get checked and see if things would be happening soon, next thing I knew she was in active labor and ready to go!

As I arrived to the hospital walking up to her room I could hear Hannah in labor. Thats how you really know its time. I walked in as she was beginning to push - what a rush of adrenaline! It wasn’t 30 minutes before that sweet baby was brought earth-side and let out her cries.

Camila was brought into the world surrounded by all her loved ones, and Hannah was fully supported by every single person in the room. Camila’s daddy was there the entire time, gently helping and encouraging and was also able to help catch her as she emerged.

Another beautiful and powerful birth that I am thankful to have been a part of. Enjoy the story of Camila!

Natural Water Birth | The Story of Remi | Nativiti Birthing Center

As far as I can remember leading up to marriage I was actually very frightened at the thought of a baby exiting my poor body. The whole idea sounded gross, traumatic and more pain than I ever wanted to endure.

 

The Fear

When I talked about having kids I would literally shutter and tell myself that I'd just have to put it off as long as I could and when the time came I'd "simply" have a cesarean and get it over with. That's what I wanted! Little did I know (literally I knew nothing about natural childbirth) that there were other options that would be way more of what I actually would want when the time came.

Around 2014 I was slowly being introduced to moms, some that I knew and some I did not, that were having natural births — one being my now sister-in-law, Ashley. She actually had all four of her kiddos at home! Go momma! After hearing stories first hand and witnessing such beautiful birth stories through blogs and other social media, I began to realize that a natural birth was something I really wanted for myself.

Carrying

By the time I got pregnant in January of 2016 I knew that this would be the route I would take. Thankfully Logan was completely on board with my decision and fully supportive of the thought of using a birthing center instead of hospital. Turns out there is a pretty awesome birthing center in The Woodlands called Nativiti where not only my mom, but several other gal pals have delivered their babies, so we decided to check it out!

This being my first pregnancy, we really didn't know what to expect as far as the role of a midwife and how the whole pregnancy process worked through a birthing center. We were given a tour of the center and were able to sit down with one of the midwives as she explained their beliefs and how they treated pregnancy. The rooms were so homey and inviting, each one with a giant tub, a nice big bed, and dimmed lights. We felt so at peace with everything they believed about birth and how the process should go, that Logan and I both knew instantly that's where we wanted to bring our baby into the world. 

As the months went by, every check up went so smoothly and they really made us feel important and cared for. Not only did they sit down with us at each check up and talk for however long we needed, but they genuinely wanted to know how we were doing with everything. One of the things I respected the most was that they gave us options.

I felt like I was in control of my pregnancy and never felt like they pushed anything on me during each check up.

They really made sure Logan was just as much a part of the process as I was and that really meant a lot. I always felt like I was learning new ways to prepare my body for labor, not only physically but mentally. I enjoyed having the natural options that were recommended to me, such as what herbs to take, teas to drink, and exercises that would help my growing belly. The entire pregnancy was so easy with them and I am extremely thankful we had the option to use Nativiti for my pregnancy and delivery. This was where I felt the most comfortable and I believe every mom should feel that way no matter where and how she decides to deliver.

labor!

The beginning of labor began when my water broke at 2am Thursday morning (10/13). I was very surprised when it happened because I have heard how uncommon it can be, but just like in the movies it was a big gush of fluid. Excitedly I woke Logan up and told him what had happened then tried to go back to sleep. Contractions started within a few hours of my water breaking and by around 9am we had our Doula, Claire over to start helping. (I highly recommend a doula by the way, even with a hospital delivery. They are life savers!) I began noticing that my contractions were getting stronger; I no longer could disregard them as they were happening as I was now having to focus and count my breaths during each one. Not sure why I started this but I would count by 4’s until the contraction was over - I think because I had to focus a little harder on counting which took my mind off the pain. After about an hour and a half my contractions started coming about every 3 minutes, so we decided it was time to head to Nativiti. Talk about a pretty surreal moment, knowing you will shortly be holding your own baby! Once we arrived at Nativiti we informed our family so that they could head our way. The birthing center is like one big house, so there were nice living rooms set up for our family to wait comfortably. Little did they know how long they would be waiting, hehe.

 

At this point I was still breathing through my contractions with mild discomfort, but nothing unbearable. My midwife, Jami, checked to see how far I was dilated and ended up not being able to locate the opening of my cervix. It was too far forward and not in the right spot for little Remi’s head to start exiting properly. She gave me some exercises to do while I had my contractions in order to start moving my cervix into the right spot.

After eating some Chick Fil A that my parents brought me (yes I know I had CFA during labor, I win) I kept asking to get into the tub. Jami wanted me to wait a little longer until I was farther along so that it wouldn’t slow down my progress, but I really wanted to be in that warm water. After more contractions, exercises, pain and saying how great the tub looked, they finally let me get in. Oh my word did it feel great. During contractions Logan and Claire would pour water along my back and stomach and it made things a little more bearable.

At this point I am thinking, “Okay, shouldn’t be too much longer now, these are starting to really hurt.” Wow was I wrong.

Honestly nothing could have prepared me for transition, the contractions that occur while I was dilating from 7-10cm. 

Now I wish I could tell you how long things took and what time it was when certain things happened, but time was just one big blur that day/night/morning. Here is where it gets really good. By the time transition started, whenever that was, I was already in so much pain. I had told Logan before labor that I did not want to make any loud noises while I was having contractions or pushing, but that all changed once I felt the immense pain that these contractions were giving me. I let out moans and screams and whines, and broke down in tears a few times exclaiming how I could not do it any longer. After a couple hours of these contractions I was completely out of it. I had been in labor for almost 18 hours so far and my body was exhausted. I remember laying on the bed as they helped stretch my pelvis during my contractions in order to help get Remi in the right spot, and I would fall asleep between each contraction (which were only about a minute or so apart). I would even catch myself not breathing because my body was trying to store as much energy as possible. I did NOT think I could keep going, I even asked for some sort of pain meds knowing that was not an option (LOL).

After a total of 4 hours of transition my body automatically started pushing. I did not know at the time what was happening but I remember it feeling good, like a relief. Jami checked my cervix again and told me to give a good push — it was time. They got the bath ready for me and had me hop in. I think I actually did hop in, I was so ready to get her out. I had somehow regained all my energy once I knew it was pushing time. The excitement of knowing my baby girl would be in my arms shortly brought my spirits up and I was motivated to get her here.

The last push

I began pushing several times with each contraction, seemingly making great progress. I was still so tired but all I wanted to do was keep pushing. It was such a great feeling, I was eager to get a contraction each time, getting very impatient if they weren't happening frequently enough. After pushing for almost 3 hours (it actually only felt like 1 hour) I could see her little head, or so we thought was little. Game time! I pushed as hard as I could as much as I could, and surprisingly it wasn’t that painful, and honestly nothing was bad compared to my contractions. Jami started helping Remi make her exit as I pushed and Logan sat next to her as he waited to catch his daughter. 

One of my biggest concerns going into pregnancy was the thought of tearing (TMI I know). I really thought that there was absolutely no way around it if I wanted to deliver vaginally. Expressing those fears and knowing that they cared enough to reassure me and work with me during the birth in order to make that not happen was such a burden lifted off my shoulders. The fact that I was pushing for 3 hours and had the nice warm water around me really helped the process go smoother. I ended up not tearing! *praise hands*. I even remember at one point while pushing, with Remi's head sticking about halfway out, Jami said to me, “Now this would be the point when a doctor would give you an episiotomy.” That to me was shocking because I felt like I still had so much more time to push! I was so thankful for her patience and help while Remi’s little head slowly made her debut. The very end of pushing was a little painful, and yes the ring of fire is a very good description of what it felt like, but it was so brief I honestly don’t remember it. One more big push and her head was out. She had her hand up by her ear and her eyes were open. Did I already say how we thought her head was little?

Yeah she was about 3 times bigger than we all imaged.

Another push and out came her body. Logan grabbed her and put her right on my chest. My initial reaction was shock. Not only because a baby had just exited my body and I didn’t scream or writhe in pain, but because she looked nothing like I could have pictured. For a split second I was not sure if this was actually my baby that I had birthed or I was just seeing things, she was so big! Everyone in the room was in awe, even our Midwife and nurse guessed she would be about 6-7lbs. Nope, she was 9lbs and definitely looked like a Samperi baby. Literally every Samperi baby has been big, I should have known. 

Meeting our sweet Remi

The next few minutes were pure joy and amazement. Staring at our very own baby as she cried her first cries, nothing can compare. As we both rejoiced and celebrated I sat back and relaxed with Remi as we waited for her cord to stop pulsing, still not even believing that I finally had my little Remi in my arms. Logan was able to cut the cord and then get skin to skin time with her while I delivered the placenta. It was slightly gross looking, but really awesome at the same time.

And it was finished, we now had a sweet roly-poly baby that was nobody elses but ours.

I moved onto the bed where Remi was laid on my chest in order to start feeding.

And yes, after 20 hours of being at Nativiti, my family was still there. At one point during labor I asked if it was still the 13th. Everyone laughed at me and told me what time it was. I was blown away by how long we had been there. It made me sort of feel bad for everyone, sort of. ;) Our family was able to come into the room and see her shortly after birth. Logan was the one to tell them how big she was and what her name was, because up until her birth we had not announced it.

Going home

After another hour or so at Nativiti making sure both Remi and I were doing okay we were able to go home! Tired was an understatement, my bed had never looked so wonderful. Thankfully Remi slept about 4-5 hours after we got home and we were able to get some uninterrupted rest that day. That is when all the pain and soreness of my body really hit me. Just about every muscle in my body was sore to the point of very minimal movement abilities. My tailbone was in the most pain, but after several chiropractor visits it went back to normal. The first few days we spent in bed with Remi, watching her sleep and enjoying her tiny baby noises and movements. I am so thankful Logan was there to help while I was basically confined to my bed for a week. It wasn’t until about a week or so after birth that I began to feel like I could walk around without any soreness. As hard as this birth was, I would definitely do it again. Although it was much more painful and 3 times longer than I expected, it was still the birth experience that I had hoped for. I was able to deliver in the water and had freedom to move around and use positions that felt best while I was in so much pain. I could not have done it without Logan, Claire and of course my midwife. Logan was such a great emotional support, while Claire really knew how to comfort and physically help me during my contractions. They were more than amazing! I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. Logan and I are enjoying our blessing every day, trying to take in every moment as we know how fast time passes. We love being Remi’s parents.

 

p.s These wonderful photos were taken by our sweet friend Katy Cox. She was a trooper staying by our side the whole time we were there, and she gave us such a huge blessing by taking these photos for us. Memories we will cherish forever.