Birth of Nico Mae

It may be helpful for some to read about my experience with Jude's birth to understand why this birth journey was so important to me. You can read some of my thoughts about Jude's birth in 2008 here. It was his birth experience that led me to birth work and to be an advocate for women's birth rights. I always believed that his birth was meant to unfold the way it did to bring me to this work, but I also longed for a normal birth, and to not feel as though my body was broken.

The Pregnancy & Healing Birth of Nico Mae Goodwin

When we found out we were pregnant, there was no doubt I would be planning a HBAC (homebirth after c-section) and I knew that in order to stay low risk and be a good VBAC and homebirth candidate I would need to take exceptional care of myself. Thankfully, the year before conception I had completely turned my diet around and lost nearly 60lbs by eating whole foods and by avoiding processed carbohydrates. The nausea of the first trimester made it difficult to eat that way, but my appetite for greens and whole foods quickly returned once I started feeling normal again in the second trimester. I also knew that I needed to enlist the help of every possible holistic care-provider to ensure maximum physical and emotional preparedness for this birth. I went to my therapist bi-monthly and worked through the PTSD issues from my last birth with EFT Tapping and fear release techniques, I went to see a Webster Certified chiropractor weekly and even bi-weekly towards the end of the pregnancy, I had a few Craniosacral treatments, I saw an acupuncturist regularly, met with a hypnotist on several occasions, attended pre-natal yoga, hired an independent childbirth instructor to come and give John a refresher class on comfort measures for birth, hired a doula (yes, even the doula needs a doula!), who would also double as a birth photographer, and hired a skilled midwife from the practice that I work with who had also become a good friend due to working together at many births together.

Throughout the pregnancy, I worked to keep fears at bay by reading Ina May books, listening to Hypnobirth and Gentlebirth VBAC audio affirmations and I did my best to keep a journal. I fought hard to protect what I called my "birth bubble" so that the births I attended as a doula and negative birth stories people would share with me wouldn't sink in too deeply and further effect my expectations for my own birth. This was by far the hardest thing I did. It reminds me of the HypnoBirth shirts that have "Shhhh....my baby is listening" printed on them.

*Please be mindful of the stories you share with those who are expecting.

I knew I wanted to experience certain things differently this time, for instance I would be fully informed about any test or procedure before I consented to it and I choose a care provider who supported this and I trusted would not make recommendations that were not evidence based. I also tried to remain realistic about the possibility of transfer, and consulted with a local hospital and selected a Certified Nurse Midwife who works with other great midwives and OBGYNs in her practice in the event I would need a medically necessary transfer.

I had done everything to prepare. I was ready.

January 16th, 2013
After months of regular Braxton Hicks contractions, and days of prodromal night labor with contractions 10-15 minutes apart that I would believe "were it" only to fizzle out, I was emotional and exhausted. I had called John home from work that day thinking we would have the baby, and as soon as he got home the contractions stopped. I took a bath and cried. I held a pity party for one. Then, something amazing happened... I got out of the bath and decided to do my Dancing For Birth cardinal movements, doing everything I could think of to get my body moving, and for nearly an hour I danced out the blues and reconnected with my body and baby, also in the process surely better aligned baby's position for birth. I went to bed with an attitude of surrender and acceptance.

January 17th, 2013
At around 5:30am I woke with a strong surge, and 15 minutes later I had another one. I got out of bed to walk around thinking "if this is it, I don't want John to go to work" and I went to the kitchen and as soon as I stepped onto the tile my water broke. It was around 6:00 or 6:30am. I yelled to John "You are definitely not going to work today!" to which he responded "Sweet!".

Surges immediately started coming 2 minutes apart. I was in denial about how quickly things were happening, but immediately had to lean over with surges and couldn't talk with them.

I took a shower and called my midwife and doula to alert them, hoping they could come by 8:00am when Jude needed to be taken to school so I wouldn't be alone. John also took a shower, at which point I was ready to get in the tub and we were running out of hot water! We would still need to fill the birth pool, so I alert John to start filling it. When the midwife and doula arrive, I don't even make eye contact, I am in the zone. I just remember sitting in the bathroom and my midwife placing her cold hand on my leg and it felt so amazing. My doula was busy boiling water on all burners trying to get the birth pool water warm enough for birth. They all realized how fast it was going but me. I was thrashing around on the toilet a bit and moaning with surges, noticeably tense because Jude was crying saying he didn't want to go to school and that he wanted to be with me. I yelled across the house to John and told him to let him stay. As soon as the choice to let Jude stay home was made, I fell into my rhythm. I needed Jude there.

 I got into the bathtub and I began swaying my hips in circles and chanting:

"easy, easy, easy, easy...." 


"open, open, open, open..." 

I rubbed my belly or held John's hand. Jude would come check on me and peek into the door and I would smile at him, feeling peace every time I noticed him. At some point in the bathtub, my body bears down on it's own and my doula reminds me to reach down and touch (I wanted to avoid vaginal exams - unless I did them myself) and when I reached inside I felt my baby's head right behind the pubic bone. My doula brain popped in for a minute and I thought to myself "this is your first vaginal birth, you have a while to go". I told my team I needed to get into the birth pool around 9:00am when the next surge came with the same pressure and I could feel that my tub from 1920s was too narrow to get my hips wide enough. I quickly made my way to the pool and labored baby down for the next hour while John stayed by my side. 

I was surprised that I never got overwhelmed or thought I couldn't do it in labor, even though the rushes were strong. I would just think to myself:

"This is just energy, you can do this" 


"One at a time".

Jude was in the bedroom almost the entire time playing with his toys (I had no idea he was so involved until I replayed the birth video because I was in so focused) At one point he is even making a bunch of noise but I never heard him in labor. I am really grateful that no one asked Jude to leave the room or assumed he was disturbing me. He was able to participate at his comfort level. I am told later by the midwife that around this time Jude comes in with a drawing he made, which resembles a perfect 10cm circle appropriately around the time they assume I am fully dilated. 

I remember my doula grabbed my blessingway beads and hung them where I could see them...

At some point, I believe shortly after 10am my body starts giving some involuntary pushes at the peak of the surges. I am surprised at my body, because I can feel the baby move each time, I see myself imagining my body as a flower, opening just the way it had been created. The power that comes with this part, is otherworldly to say the least. It was the most warm, intense, incredibly strong sensation. 

I kept my hand there to feel baby's head as baby's head got closer. I remember drawing strength around that time thinking about a birth story in Ina May's book about a birthing women whose mantra during pushing was "I am huge", as that helped her stay open for her baby. 

My team knew that I wanted to receive the baby myself, the midwife close by if needed. As baby's head begin to crown I could feel everything stretch and I took my time, feeling the fetal ejection, letting my body do the work. 

I told John I loved him and that I couldn't believe we were about to have a baby! He told me "to bring it home". A few minutes later, at 10:41am baby Nico Mae was waterborn into my arms. 

John looked and announced it was a girl and I tearfully exclaimed:

"Oh my god, I just had a baby! 

Oh my god! I didn't know that I would do it! 

Oh my god! We just had a baby!"

Nico Mae Goodwin
7lbs, 10oz
20 inches long

Birth Video:

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