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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jake's Birth

I’d hoped for this moment my entire life. I’d prayed for it for years. I’d dreamt about it for nine months.
The picture in my head was beautiful beyond words.

Reality was even better.
Meeting our baby Jake was the most powerful experience of our lives. Jacob Matthew Davis entered the world at 1:02 p.m. on Wednesday, September 7th, after 13 hours of natural labor and less than 20 minutes of pushing. He was 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and 19.5 inches of perfection, and we were instantly enchanted by his sweet little self.

Matt was such an incredible support through it all. There’s no way I could have delivered Jake naturally without Matt’s overwhelming love and encouragement.The full story is below – including how I ended up arriving at the hospital already dilated to a 10. But first, we want to share our precious moments with you through this video:
*All images were taken by our birth photographer, Sandra Correll.

A natural birth, if at all possible, was really important to me and Matt. After a good amount of research, we decided the Bradley Method (husband as coach, deep normal breathing, working with contractions through relaxation) made the most sense for us, and we invested a lot of time preparing for a natural Bradley-style birth. Then we ended up needing to see a high-risk pregnancy specialist very regularly during the third trimester. To make a very long story short, we were at risk for IUGR and there was the constant reality that our baby might need to be delivered in an emergency situation as early as 34 weeks if he didn’t show sufficient signs of growth at each appointment. Our family prayed with us that he could continue to grow and have a normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery. Thankfully, our prayers were answered.

After midnight – Contractions begin
We climbed into bed, exhausted, around midnight. Matt fell sound asleep within seconds, but I couldn’t manage to drift off. I'd had Braxton Hicks contractions more often lately, but that night they were suddenly consistent and … uncomfortable. The contractions continued for the next few hours, becoming a little stronger and more frequent. “Hey, maybe we’re actually getting somewhere,” I thought to myself, figuring we’d make some progress that night and then maybe I could walk around dilated to a 2 or so for the next few days. I kept having to get up to go to the bathroom, though, which made me wonder if maybe these contractions actually meant something. So I practiced relaxing and mostly just tried to get some solid rest since sleep was clearly out of the question.

3:30 a.m. – I wake up Matt
Finally, after going to the bathroom again at 3:30, I crawled into bed and curled up to Matt. I didn’t want to wake him, really, I just wanted him to hold me. Like a comfort blanket, you know?  As he groggily woke up just enough to pull me closer, though, I couldn’t help but mention that I’d been having contractions for the last three-and-a-half hours and that they actually hurt. So much for him sleeping, despite my assurances that it was probably just false labor. The next hour will always be one of my favorite memories with Matt – cuddling in bed, talking and laughing in between contractions, both of us trying not to get too excited but wondering if this could really be it. Around 4:30 a.m., we decided we might as well get up and accomplish something so we started tidying the house up a bit--just in case.

5:00 a.m. – Tub and toast

I hopped into the bathtub just after five. I figured it’d help me relax, and if it was false labor, it could help that calm down as well. The facts started to pile up against false labor rather quickly, though. I was nauseous but hungry. I knew if it was real labor, I’d need energy so I had to eat something. But it had to be something good, and I was nauseous … Toast. I just wanted toast. Only problem? We didn’t have any bread. I decided that bread was really that important – as well as grabbing a few labor snacks for Matt to sneak me in the hospital like Jello packs and bananas and whatnot – I mean, just in case this was actually labor (can you say denial? Contractions were 45 seconds long, coming 5-7 minutes apart at the time) – so I sent Matt 40 minutes away roundtrip to the nearest grocery store to get the goods. He got to Albertsons at 5:30 only to find that they were closed. Yep. Apparently 24-hour grocery stores are a luxury we cannot afford around here, so there he sat in the Albertsons parking lot, waiting for it to open at 6.

Matt got home shortly after 6:30 and I made him sit next to the bathtub and write a list of the last-minute things (like cameras, batteries, and toothbrushes) we needed to pack before we could leave for the hospital. Funny, because making that list was on my to-do list for Wednesday. Then he made me eggs and toast, which I ate in between contractions in the bathtub. Matt had a meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. for a project he was working on for the general that needed to be wrapped up enough to pass on before he took any sort of baby leave. That, plus the crazy idea that this might not be real labor (though this was fading—and fast) and more of the idea that labor can take forever and I didn’t want Matt to use any leave or take work off any earlier than he needed to…

7:15 a.m. – I sent Matt to work

My contractions at that point were lasting nearly one minute each and coming five minutes apart. Normal people would go to the hospital at that point. Instead, I sent my husband to work (despite his insistence on staying with me). Leave days are gold in my mind, and I wasn't going to waste one when I wasn't even sure I was in real labor (ha). I continued to relax through contractions in the bathtub, where I stayed until about 8 a.m. I went to the bathroom, found that I’d lost my plug, and finally admitted that this was the real deal. After drying my hair just enough to not soak a pillow, I decided to lie down in bed for “just a few minutes” before getting to work on that to-pack list I’d made with Matt. But I was well into the second, serious, working stage of labor where I really needed to focus on each contraction. And the backache that had accompanied my earlier contractions had amplified to a point of serious pain during each contraction and a strong, duller pain in between. Oh, and those contractions? Coming quicker and lasting longer. Just after 9 o’clock, they were lasting one minute each and coming 3-4 minutes apart. Still manageable, but barely.

I talked to Matt at 9:20 and downplayed how serious the contractions had become, telling him it was bad but that he could stay a little while longer. I think that was part denial of how far along my labor really was, part wanting to save his heart and his hands for when I’d really, really need his help, and part insanity. “I just have to make it through five or so more contractions and he’ll be home,” I told myself, figuring they’d magically go back to being five-ish minutes apart. Actually, the opposite happened. Labor turned a corner quickly and those five contractions—plus a few more—came and went in no time at all. Just fifteen minutes later, I sent Matt a text saying he might want to come home. The only problem was that he was in the middle of a meeting with the general and therefore didn’t get to see or respond to the text right away. Forty-five minutes later, he walked in our door to an entirely different scene than the one he left just hours before.

10:15 a.m. – Matt comes home

Tears of relief trickled down my cheeks the second I saw Matt. I recognized the third emotional signpost (the Bradley Method’s way of tracking labor) in myself and knew that meant we were getting closer. We still had to round things up so we could go to the hospital, but I was incapable of doing much more than get through each contraction at that point. Poor Matt had to juggle running around the house trying to get things together with rubbing and applying counter pressure to my lower back during contractions. Before we knew it, those contractions were lasting upwards of 90 seconds and coming as close as 30 seconds apart. So much for getting anything done! Matt kept saying we just had to go to the hospital, and I knew we did, but I could hardly move. I wasn’t even fully dressed yet and it was barely possibly to put on one article of clothing per break between contractions. The back labor pain was so intense that it was honestly all I could do to just breathe.

We finally made it out the door at almost 11:15 a.m. – about an hour after Matt made it back from the office. Before leaving, though, we made sure that Matt gave me a priesthood blessing. The car was loaded and I was making my way to it, pausing in the living room to get through a contraction. The pain of the contraction brought me to my knees, which turned out to be convenient as far as blessings go. Matt rubbed my back during a contraction, then quickly moved his hands to my head to give me a blessing of strength and comfort – only to have another contraction come on strong just moments into the blessing. I felt a renewed sense of peace as Matt finished and moved his hands right back to my back. Once that contraction was over, we made it to the car. At that point, I was already feeling the kind of pressure they say you’ll feel when it’s time to push. My unbroken water was my saving grace.

11:15 a.m. – A long car ride
That 40-minute car ride was so incredibly painful – the awful contractions and back labor, the position in the car, not being able to have any relief, the stress of it all. I’m pretty sure I cried softly nearly the entire time. They say your contractions are supposed to calm down during car rides because of the change of position and the adrenaline or whatever, but that certainly did not happen for me. I remember saying that to Matt a few times – that this isn’t how it was supposed to be. I also kept commenting that the contractions weren’t supposed to be in my back. It was so much easier to work through contractions when the most intense pain was in my uterus. But, oh, my back killed. I told Matt I wasn't mentally prepared to do this today and I wanted to come back and do it on Saturday. Matt was so sweet, just as he’d been all morning. He repeatedly told me what a great job I was doing, that he was so proud of me, and that he loved me so much. Matt called my mom to give her the update (she was the only one we'd had time to keep updated that morning), touched base with our birth photographer Sandy, and then gently held my hand as he sped down the freeway.

12:00 p.m. – The hospital

When we arrived at the hospital, they had a wheelchair waiting for me thanks to a phone call from my mom. Since I’d already filled out my admittance paperwork, it was only another five minutes or so before we were in triage. The triage nurses were pretty nonchalant with me—figuring I was a first-time mom and probably not that far along, I assume. They took their time, handing me a container to pee in and sending me to the bathroom to take care of it. I couldn’t even do that fast enough and ended up on my knees in the bathroom trying to get through another excruciating, long contraction. Once I was done, they took me to my bed, had me put on a gown, and hooked up a fetal monitor.

Finally, at 12:17 p.m., a young nurse checked me. She looked confused, then called for the head triage nurse for help. When the head nurse came in, the young one explained, “She’s either at a 1 or a 10.” I briefly thought, “If I am at a one then I quit. I absolutely quit and I am never doing this again.” But that fleeting thought quickly gave way to the realization that I was, indeed, at a ten. (No wonder that car ride was so miserable.) Sure enough, the head nurse confirmed it. She said she felt the bag and told me I was completely ready to go. And yet, we still had to wait for a delivery room to be prepped and my doctor to arrive, so I just lied there on my side in excruciating pain as Matt tried to relieve some of the pressure in my back. Then everything seemed to happen all at once.

12:35 – The doctor arrives

Shortly after 12:30, my delivery room opened up and they quickly wheeled me there. My water broke on the way. They helped me switch beds and hooked up the external fetal monitor. Sandy arrived just in time and Dr. Ngo walked in moments later. “Let’s start pushing!,” he exclaimed with a big grin on his face. He also told me that there was meconium, which was a bit of a blow since I knew it meant my baby would have to go straight to a NICU worker rather than coming straight to me. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to hold my baby immediately but grateful that this hospital brings the NICU nurses to the delivery room rather than taking the baby away. Dr. Ngo geared up and at 12:44, I started pushing.

The whole labor experience was so surreal, but the pushing stage was especially so. Matt was by my shoulder on my right side, encouraging me the entire time. Dr. Ngo was coaching the pushes and I was surrounded by a whole team of nurses. I remember being in between contractions, taking in the scene and looking at Matt thinking this was all so surreal. I was so tired after a sleepless night and working through all of those contractions that I worried about being able to handle a potential hour or two of pushing. “I can’t do this,” I said to Matt. He assured me that I could, pointed out that I was doing it, and reassured me that I was doing an incredible job. Matt told me he loved me and couldn’t wait to meet our baby boy. It seems simple, but his endless encouragement and positive reinforcements made all the difference in the world for me.

It wasn’t long before they told me they could see his head – and that he had beautiful hair. The baby stayed there, crowning for a few more pushes. Meanwhile, the doctor and nurses kept telling me that my baby was struggling – that we had to hurry and get him out. “He’s okay,” I remember responding calmly each time. I just knew my baby was okay, and I’m so grateful for that comforting assurance in what otherwise could have been a scary situation. The nurses gave me an oxygen mask and I did my best to get my baby out as quickly as possible. Different directions were coming from every area, which although well-meaning wasn't entirely helpful. I finally zoned them out and decided to listen to just only me and my body.

After that, it just took a couple good pushes before my baby's head was out! What a crazy feeling. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck not just once, but three times.  Dr. Ngo freed my baby’s neck and then all it took was one final push and his body came right out. Our sweet baby boy was born at 1:02 p.m. I saw him being held up and then whisked over to the NICU workers at the warming crib to the right of my bed. “That’s my baby,” I remember saying incredulously over and over again through my tears of indescribable joy. “Matt, that’s our baby.”

The NICU nurses sucked out the meconium and we heard our baby’s sweet cry. What a beautiful sound. They continued to check him to make sure he was okay and cleaned him up a bit. He was 5 pounds, 13 ounces, 19.5 inches – tall and skinny, like the doctors had predicted. But healthy. He was here and he was healthy and I was so grateful. Matt and I couldn’t stop smiling. Meanwhile, Dr. Ngo delivered the placenta and then gave me numbing shots before doing a couple stitches. It only took about ten minutes for Dr. Ngo and the NICU nurses to finish, but it felt like an eternity waiting to meet my son.

At last, the NICU nurse took my sweet baby from the warming crib and placed him under my gown and on my chest—skin on skin. My baby. There are truly no words to describe the feeling of holding Jake for the first time. It was so special, so beautiful, so spiritual, so perfect. I instantly, intensely loved that sweet little baby lying on my chest. The happiest, most grateful tears again flowed down my cheeks. "I love you, Baby," I whispered. Matt leaned in close, eventually reaching down to let Jake grasp his finger, and I basked in that first real moment of the three of us as a family. We were complete.


  1. Congratulations Ashley! Your story and pictures are sooo beautiful! Thanks for sharing! Having a baby is the most amazing experience in the world!

  2. Congtratulations! I loved reading your birth story! Thanks for sharing all the details!

  3. loved it all! the video the pics and of course the story:) Makes me really want to do it natural...how was the pushing part as far as natural goes? That's the part I'm most worried about, cuz because I know what contractions feel like. So beautiful friend, he is so perfect and you're a champ!

  4. Okay..pregnant lady-over due-crying right now. I love the story Ash! It's beautiful!!! Congratulations!

  5. What a beautiful story! I started crying watching the video! Absolutely gorgeous and the story made me tear up multiple times too! So sweet. Congrats to your sweet family.

  6. Made me cry, too. :) Congratulations again!

  7. This is wonderful and just confirms how much I want a photographer in the room when we have babies... LOVE the way Matt is looking at you and baby Jake through the whole thing. Congrats!

  8. This was the most beautiful story!! I had tears in my eyes reading your words and seeing the photos - especially the precious looks on Matt's face! So amazing. What a beautiful little family!!

  9. I have had a hard time even thinking about another baby since kaylie's such a busy handful...but, this did it for me, there's nothing in this world like meeting and holding your baby for the first time. baby hunger has set in. congrats again on your precious baby boy!!

  10. I teared up when you told me this story on the phone, I teared up as we reminisced the other day at your home, and now, I teared up again from this beautiful story! I just love Jake so much! He is the sweetest little boy ever! I'm so glad everything turned out OK, just how you had felt through it all. I love you guys!

  11. What a beautiful story and baby boy! I so applaude you for your strength and effort! I am struggling with the decision to deliver naturally, so this read really helped...I am leaning more toward a natural birth. Call me crazy but I am just more worried that my husband couldn't handle it, lol...I too am curious about the "pushing" and how it compaired pain wise? Congrats to you both!

  12. Beautiful story! Reminded me of my own births (including the part of thinking ABSOLUTELY NOT in regards to touching the crowning head!). Great job, mama!

  13. Congrats to you guys!! I loved the video...totally made me cry...and it makes me SO excited to meet our little guy soon!! I'm going to try natural birth too...wish me luck!!
    And again congrats on your baby boy!!

  14. Oh thank you so much for sharing your story! I'm about 4 weeks away from my due date and I cried like baby during that beautiful video! How precious! Congratulations to you and your new little family!

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  16. What a beautiful story and congratulations! Your story and the video had me in the most happiest, emotional tears. It makes me that much more eager to experience this with my husband. Thank you for sharing your story and great job on the awesome work you both did to have such a beautiful birth of your son :)

  17. It is no little wonder that:
    - You are a superhero- doing what you felt was best for your baby by having a natural birth, and working through labor in your back whilst still at home (with no ice chips no less haha).
    - Matt is the type of man I aspire to have in my future... supportive, strong, a worthy man of God, loving, anxious to be a Daddy, and a great driver under intense circumstances :).
    - Jake is a precious gift and already so beloved.
    - Heavenly Father absolutely had the three of you in mind that day, prayers were answered and all is well.
    - Aunt Heidi has crazy psychic intuition- only one to guess his actual birth date haha!

    Love the video, the story and you three!

  18. wow love reading this post! and i love the video. it totally reminded me of the delivery stories of each of my boys. and kind of like you, i was dilated to a 9 when i got to the hospital with brennan...but i had a spinal block to help with the pain...so i applaud you do doing it all natural :) giving birth is truly a miracle. thanks for sharing.

  19. I am so happy that you had a successful and beautiful natural birth! Back labor is absolutely horrible and you did it! CAn you believe it? You already had your baby! Congratulations! I cried through the slide show, it was amazing having a photographer there to show you going through those hard moments there at the end but they are absolutely stunning and inspiring. You and Matt are going to be such amazing parents!


  21. Ashley you're amazing. This was such a beautiful recollection and gives me hope that maybe I can go natural...we shall see though haha. Your video had me crying 2 pictures in and then the video of him getting a bath made me laugh. You guys are such a beautiful family and Jake is so adorable and blessed! I can't wait to hear more about him!

  22. What a beautiful birth story. I am happy that you were able to deliver naturally like you planned. I wasn't able to hold Danny after he was several days old, but with Emily I was finally able to hold her right after delivery. I love that feeling of a brand new angel laying on your chest. Congrats!

  23. Also I watched your video twice haha.

  24. I'm so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so happy for you and Matt!!!!!! And I love the video, it's so sweet. I can't wait to meet baby Jake! Only a few more weeks, yay :)

    P.S. You're a rockstar for delivering naturally.

  25. Congrats!Being a mom is the best thing ever.Enjoy every moment. it goes by so fast. My daughter will be three months in a week. I dont know where the time went!

  26. Those pictures are amazing and beautiful! Congratulations on your beautiful baby boy!

  27. “If I am at a one then I quit. I absolutely quit and I am never doing this again.”... haahaha, I adore you.

    You're wonder woman Ash. And by the way, I might have watched the video twice like your friend above. So beautiful. I think I should have a baby in my lifetime.

    Matt's reaction is perfect so perfect.

    Wonder mama indeed.

  28. I have to be honest... I had to look-up a few words. I felt like I was having a baby vocabulary lesson. Haha! I am SO happy for you and Matt, Ash! You're little boy is SO beautiful! :)

    You're an amazing woman, friend, example, and now, mother... Congrats.

  29. wow, this totally made me tear up and gave me chills. you are seriously a trooper. you husband sounds like he gave you an immense amount of support. your little man is so precious!!!
    thank you for sharing such a personal story :)

  30. LOVED this post!!!!!!! I might have teared up a tiny bit during the video....and the story. :) I'm so happy for you two and so impressed you did it all naturally! Who is this talented person that captures footage of exciting events in your life?? What a neat idea to have every expression on your faces saved forever during the delivery process!!

  31. That is an incredible birth story Ashley! So glad that everyone is doing well.

  32. Ashley, this story is beautiful, the video was beautiful, your family is beautiful. I Cried the whole way through. Congrats!

  33. What a blessing! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, precious, and intimate of your life! Lord bless you and your two boys. =)

  34. OUCH! I was imagining the pain, but obviously your darling little guy was all worth it. We are all so glad that he is here safe and sound.

  35. I loved the videos and all the journal entry of the birth you added on your post. It brought back a lot of my own experiences with my kids births! Isn't it the BEST being a MOM! Nothing is better. I'm so glad you are getting it all recorded and can have it forever to look back on. You are such a cute little family!

  36. I just found your blog tonight from A Life to Bragg About and this story is SO beautiful. Congratulations on your new addition. Props on the natural child birth!

  37. Ash.. I probably have watched this video a dozen times since Jake was born. True story.

  38. I love your video so much, and reading your birth story is very inspiring. My mother gave birth naturally to us, and I think it's something so empowering. Thank you for sharing.


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