The Birth of Jace Alexander.

Hi, my sweet baby boy! Waiting for you these last couple of weeks was SO hard for me. So, so hard. I was tired, uncomfortable, impatient, frustrated, confused, and super emotional. I wrote this to you on July 10th: Jace, not every day of pregnancy is easy, but every day brings me closer to meeting you and I’m so excited for that day.

July 11th, 2017 – the midwife appointment.

I’m going to start your birth story from where I finally reached my breaking point. It was after my midwife appointment on July 11th. I was told that I was 3cm (yay!?), and that my cervix was very posterior (far back), long, and you were still up high. Then she handed me a paper on ways I could try to naturally induce labor if I chose to do so. Nancy (midwife) is so, so sweet and she assured me that they were just numbers. I knew that, but I started crying anyways. The birthing world is a huge part of my life. As a doula, I’m so used to encouraging mama’s and genuinely speaking the truth into them when they are having a hard time at the end of pregnancy. I know that full term babies are a plus! I know that it’s just a guess date. I know that babies come when they are ready. Why wasn’t I able to apply any of that to myself?! I guess I just couldn’t believe that I made it to 40 weeks. I was so confused by my body. My babies come during the 38th week.. that’s what I kept telling myself. I wasn’t allowing myself to let it go! All 3 of your siblings did, so I was so sure you would as well. I was tired of people texting me, calling me, asking me if I was still pregnant or gasping that I was still pregnant the second I walked into a room. I wasn’t even past your “due” date yet, but because I had told everyone you were most likely coming during the 38th week (big mistake), that’s also what they had in their minds. I started to over-analyze everything and looked two weeks into the future. The fear of not being able to birth you in a birth center was heavily making its way to the forefront of my mind. I didn’t want to be induced. It would be so hard for me to agree to it! I went straight to all the worse case scenarios. What if, what if, what if! It was my every thought each day that went by and I foolishly let it wreck me. I was so out of my comfort zone and I didn’t like it. I called daddy and it went to his voicemail. I texted Heidi, “I’m 3cm, cervix is still posterior (far back), long, and baby is up high. I cried. So here’s all the stuff I can “do” now if I choose to. You know the drill… No more normal appointments. I have to call and see the on-call midwife from now on and have non stress test scans for an hour, and then check my fluid & have the baby monitored. After that appointment, if I still don’t have the baby before the next Tuesday, I can’t birth there and have to go to a hospital to talk about induction. This is so weird for me and I’m having a really hard time. Please pray for us. I’m such a mess right now.” Heidi’s reply, “Awwwwwe friend!!! Love you so much!! See this as getting to know who Jace is. This is part of maybe the person he will be. He will be a patient man. Slow to anger. Prudent & Gentle. He sees time as important. He cares a lot. Keep me posted please ❤️ I am definitely praying. May you cling to our hope right now like Kenny encourage us about on Sunday. It is tough, yes! Do we have hope that we can believe in?, yes!” (Your Auntie Heidi is such a gem!)

Your daddy called me while I was parking the car and I started sobbing on the phone for 30 minutes. By the end of the conversation, he told me that I needed to let go and cry it out to God. I exclaimed that I had already been doing that and God wasn’t listening to me! (I knew I was being such a brat, but at that point I just didn’t care anymore). He told me that praying for you to come out and letting go of the situation were two totally different things. He was right. We got off the phone and I came into the house to put your siblings down for their nap. And then I went into the bathroom, sat in the darkness, and just cried to God. I started with how thankful I was to even be carrying you in my womb. But then I told Him how angry I was at Him and how I felt like He wasn’t listening to me – like He didn’t care about me. As I’m saying all these things, I knew they weren’t true. But I had to just say it and get it out. I told Him that I was done trying to act like I had it all together. I didn’t. I was a mess. I “threw in the towel” and I said I knew He would bring you to me when it was your time, not my time. Saying that was very hard though because I just wanted to be holding you already. I was tired of my contractions starting and stopping. I was tired of feeling like my body was broken. I know it was all a lie and that my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to be doing, but it didn’t stop the pity party I created for myself. Then in that moment, God reminded me of my labor with your sister Naielle. I knew my labor with her I was going to be so quick and she was going to “fall out of me” because “I know my body” and “my labors are short” but, it was long, hard, and drawn out. I was so out of my depth and I had a moment of having to completely surrender before she came out. Something about that reminder brought me peace but, at the same time, I still let sadness consume me for the majority of the day. I laid down to rest and take a little nap. My eyes were burning from crying so much. Your daddy came home from work early to be with me! (I love him very much) I cried some more while he hugged me and showed him the list of things I could do to try to naturally induce labor. I tossed the paper aside, it was wet from my tears.

I drove to Whole Foods with Siriana and bought some evening primrose oil. Supposedly, it would help soften my cervix and help it thin out. After we got home, all of us left to go to Grandma & Grandpa’s house to eat dinner for Grandpa’s birthday. When we walked inside, Grandma said, “Oh, he IS still high!” (Daddy had talked to her on the phone earlier and let her know I was having a tough day and I might not come to dinner.) I felt my temperature rise, so I quickly shot that down and asked them to not talk to me about you!

Dinner was great, we came home, put your siblings to bed, and daddy left to go to John’s bachelor party. I put in 3 primrose capsules and laid down in bed with two pillows in between my legs. I got to thinking about “the list” again. img_5324-1.jpgDecrease stress.. increase LOVE. I really didn’t care about anything on that paper except for any mention of oxytocin. I just wanted to be with your daddy. I needed his touch, his love, his comfort. And later on that night, he gave me all of that. (Haha! Sorry for the TMI Jace, but by the time you’re actually able and/or wanting to read this, you’ll totally get it.. because you are a product of Michael & Kashema and we have no filter – sometimes – ok, most of the time 😜)

Who knew that less than 8 hours from that special time, I would be holding you in my arms? I certainly didn’t think so. But, here we are – 7 days later – and I’m in awe as I touch you, kiss your cheeks & soft lips, take in your sweet newborn scent, and stare at your precious body sleeping next to me, instead of feeling your movements from the inside and silently wishing I could just hold you already.

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July 12th, 2017 – the day you were born.

It was around 1:30 in the morning now (Wednesday) and I had been awake since early Tuesday morning – after a very restless night of sleep. Daddy was falling asleep and I laid awake with what I felt to be REAL contractions starting. I always laugh at myself in this moment because I know what labor feels like, yet I get so caught up on the “false labor” contractions that start a week before I give birth and I let that throw me off. I knew I needed to try to sleep but, laying on my side with the pillows in between my legs was making the contractions intense from the start. I got out of the bed and started getting last minute things for our birth center bag & some snacks for your siblings ready. The contractions while I was standing up were more bearable than the ones when I was laying down. I stared out the window while swaying my hips and I thanked God that you were coming today because I knew these weren’t going to stop, haha! I came back into the room to lay next to daddy and try to fall asleep, but that just wasn’t happening! My moaning during contractions was starting to wake him up and I told him I didn’t need him yet and he should stay sleeping till I felt like it was almost time to go. At around 3:15am, I got out of bed to call the birth center, but got no answer. While I was leaving a voicemail someone called back, so I clicked over and Erina was the on-call midwife! While I was talking to her, I had to stop to breathe through a contraction. When it was over, she asked me if I wanted to come in or if I wanted to stay home longer. I told her I would call her back in a couple of hours and then we could talk then about meeting at the birth center. Things progressed more from this point on and I was all over the place – bed, bathroom, living room, repeat! At around 4:15am, I called Heidi and told her today was baby day! We talked for a couple of minutes and then I told her I would probably call her back at around 6am to meet us at the birth center. As soon as we got off the phone though, my labor shifted again and got more intense. I called Erina back at about 4:45am and said let’s meet at the birth center by 5:30. My contractions were coming every 2 to 3 minutes now and I wanted some tub relief! Heidi got the call to meet at 5:30 as well. I tried Sophia, but got no answer. Daddy and I started to get ready and he would stop what he was doing to hold me while I was in the thick of a contraction. After daddy packed everything into the car, we woke up Siriana, Jaxson, and Naielle. They were so excited, but didn’t understand why we were waking them up at “night time”. I told them that the sun would be up soon and I was having you today! While I was telling them this, I was sitting on the toilet and another contraction hit. Jaxson exclaimed, “Mommy you can’t have the baby in the toilet!” I laughed out loud in the middle of the contraction. Your big brother is so sweet! We dressed them in their “Big Sister” and “Big Brother” shirts that Amanda gave me at my blessing way. I don’t know if it was the excitement of being up so early in the morning while it was still dark out or because I was going to give birth to you on this day, but Siriana and Jaxson (especially) thought it was the appropriate time to ask me a zillion and one questions from that point and the entire (8-10 minutes that felt like eternity) car ride to the birth center. Daddy and I may have yelled back a couple of “BE QUIET!”s to them on the way there.

We arrived at the birth center and were greeted by Erina. Heidi pulled up seconds after us with coffee in her hands for herself and Daddy. Erina asked me if I would mind if her birth assistant, Tiffany assist in the birth. I said as long as she doesn’t touch me or ask me a bunch of questions, it’s totally fine! (I had an awkward experience with a birth attendant 2 years prior). As we made our way upstairs to the birth room, I joked with your daddy about how he was walking up the stairs with no crutches this time! (Daddy broke his ankle the day before I went into labor with your big sister, Naielle). Once we got upstairs, I asked Heidi to get in touch with Sophia (photographer) because I was done with looking at my phone. Erina started to fill the tub and Naielle thought it meant bath time for her, so she promptly started removing her clothes, haha! I started having deja vu about getting in the tub too early and slowing things down, so I asked Erina to check me first. “5cm, 75% thinned out, and I can feel his head.. let’s have a baby!”

My labor with you felt different at this point than it did last time I got in the tub two years ago, so I was totally fine with getting in! Heidi came into the room and told me that she got a hold of sweet Sophia and that really excited me because I wanted your birth to be documented through photos! Tiffany (birth assistant) showed up and introduced herself to me. She jokingly told me she wouldn’t touch me and that she was good at following directions. (I laugh now at me saying I didn’t want her to touch me because that was short-lived when I needed her to put some very serious counter-pressure on my butt once I started to push. Talk about up close and personal. Thanks, Tiffany! haha!). Kaydee (midwife) showed up shortly after and I  adored her immediately. I just loved her sweet & calm presence! Sophia was the next to show up! She had the biggest smile on her face as she peaked her head around the entrance, with tears in her eyes. I joyfully said hi and told her how happy I was that she was there! I felt so good about everyone that was there! I felt great about this day! I was happy to be birthing you early in the morning (like I had hoped) before it got really hot outside. I spent the next half hour laughing with daddy and everyone else in the room. kashema-best-start-birth-center-photography-baby-jace(133of467) There was this one point when I looked at daddy and I started smiling, then crying tears of joy as I said, “We’re going to meet Jace soon.” After the day that I had on Tuesday, I just didn’t think that I would be meeting you less than 24 hours from then and it made me so happy. Your siblings would take a break from the movie room with Heidi to come in and make sure I was ok. It was the sweetest thing to have them all cheering me on. Naielle kept holding my hand and giving me kissing while I was going through contractions. She’s so empathetic. Siriana kept rubbing me too. Jaxson.. I could hear him playfully saying, “I’m scared!” on his way back to watch the movie, haha! Oh, my heart! All of you – I love being your mama!

(click to enlarge photos)

By 7am, all that adrenaline was starting to wear off and the fact that I had been awake for over 24 hours started to sink in and totally take over me. I was trying so hard not to give it power but it was getting harder and harder after every pushing contraction in that tub and feeling like there was no progress and that you weren’t coming down any lower. My energy was quickly diminishing. Kaydee kept encouraging me to put my hands down there while I was pushing, so I could feel your head, but for some reason I was hesitant. She asked me if I wanted them to check to see if there was still a little bit of cervix left around your head. I agreed to it and yep, there was. With my permission, Kaydee put her fingers inside of me while I was pushing to move the remaining part of the cervix back and I felt your head plop a little lower into my pelvis. That was so intense, my eyes rolled in the back of my head as I exclaimed, “It hurts! I don’t like that! Take your fingers out!” And I’m pretty sure I screamed. Erina thought your sac had broken already, but Kaydee said that she could feel your sac 2 inches in front of your head. I really wanted it to break even though being born encaul is special. I asked them to break the sac. Kaydee tried with her fingers – while I was pushing again – and I obviously hated that, so I yelled for her to stop. She used the hook and did it that way instead. I still felt like you weren’t coming any lower and I was ready to give up. Things start to become a blur for me at this point. I remember looking at daddy with desperation in my eyes and pleading with him to help me because I so badly just wanted to go to sleep. He said I looked at him like I wanted him to do it for me. I was probably wishing he could! I remember Kaydee and Tiffany trying to make suggestions to me but I couldn’t and wouldn’t hear them because I didn’t want to think, I didn’t want to move. I remember saying “Jesus” in a rhythmic tone over and over again. I needed him so badly, because I just wanted to quit. I started to not believe in myself and my ability to get you out. I was so so tired. I was shaking uncontrollably and I felt really outside of myself. I was falling asleep in between contractions at this point. My eyes felt so heavy and it was hard to keep my head up. Daddy looked me in my eyes over and over again and told me how great I was doing. He told me that I was a pro and that I had done this before three times and I could do it now. He spoke so many words of encouragement over me. He kept reminding me who I was and what I was capable of. He held me up when I was feeling too weak to do it on my own. Your daddy loves me so much and I’m so grateful for him and happy that you have him as your father! There was this moment when I went completely inward. It felt like I came out of my body and I was staring down at myself in the tub. I suddenly felt this moment of peace over me and this newfound believe in myself. When I came out of it, my entire body got this very cold chill – it shook me so hard and I exclaimed, “Whoa! What the heck was that?!” Then BAM! Another hard contraction hit and I was pushing again.

Sophia’s words: “When I first arrived I watched as you laughed and joked with Michael in between the waves. You were both excited and things were flowing effortlessly. Your connection with each other was so visible, Michael was with you through the rise and fall of each wave as it passed over you. There was a sacred beauty that also filled the space. Tangible intense beauty. Laughter, joy, connection, excitement, peace – these are all of the words that stand out to me when I think about that first 30 minutes. As the intensity of your contractions started to move I saw you really beginning to feel it. The laughter was replaced with deep focus and quiet, a restful smile on your face as you came through them. Time seemed like it was passing slowly, and I could see that you were starting to feel more and more exhausted – you turned inward – speaking the truth over yourself. Although there were no words spoken, through my camera lens I could see you speaking the truth powerfully inside. Michael held your hands – encouraged you. The connection between you and him made me cry several times… but my focus was turned and fixated on you as you took this moment to sit up on your own in the water – you were almost looking up and out the window… you shut your eyes and I watched as you embraced the journey you were on, remembering what your body was capable of. It was beautiful & empowering to see you embrace this – but then in that moment I realized JUST how much God’s presence was undeniably tangible in that room. I watched you lean into the truth… He was with you, you were not alone when you turned inward.. I could almost see His presence washing over you. THICK like a cloud. HOLY, this is the word that comes to mind. It felt like we were engulfed in God’s overwhelming presence. I am convinced now that this is how active His presence and personhood is at every single birth whether we know it or not. But I watched you embrace it. It was your strength and when you were “outside of yourself” you were in the palms of his hands. This only intensified as you keep getting closer to Jace’s arrival. In your moments of desperation you sweetly cried out to everyone around you saying that you couldn’t, you were tired and there was even an “I’m done” and some slapping of the tub. But, Michael reminded you of who you were when you couldn’t remember. He said that you were a pro. You’d been here before and birthed three babies. If anyone could do it, it was you. I prayed for you to remember who you were and ​the midwives helped encourage you to rest your eyes in between. You got to the complete end of yourself in those moments and you pressed into rest harder than you had before. You stopped fighting and relying on anything less than God’s ability to care for you. His presence was in such pursuit of you and once you got to the bed, I saw you weightless in his arms – Michael right there with you. You sunk into it. And then the next thing I knew I heard.. “Here he comes”… I watched you silently push from somewhere deep within you… it was the most powerful beautiful sight I have ever seen and you then miraculously pushed a beautiful white baby out of your vagina! ;)”

I felt coherent enough to be able to talk to people now. I pleaded with them to help me, because at this point I was willing to do anything and everything I needed to do to just push you out and hold you close to me already. They suggested I get out of the tub and go to the bed so I can rest my eyes, relax my body, and feel grounded. They had been trying to say this to me, but I didn’t want to let go of having you in the water. Well.. adios, water birth! I didn’t waste anymore time now. I practically jumped out of that tub so fast and made my way to the bed, haha! It was 7:43am at this point. Being on the bed, felt so good on my tired body! Daddy cradled me on the bed from my right side. Ours hands were locked in a sweet embrace as my body started to push again. I could feel you moving lower now. PROGRESS! Thank you, Jesus! It brought tears to my eyes. I knew I was finally going to meet you! When the contraction was over, I would peacefully close my eyes and wait for the next one to start. During the next push I could feel your head crowning. Heidi ran into the room with Siriana, Jaxson, and Naielle. (She later told me that if they hadn’t asked her for some more water, she wouldn’t have heard the midwives say “crowning” and the kids would’ve missed seeing your grand entrance!) Jaxson probably wouldn’t have cared though because when he came into the room, he went to the end of the bed – your head was halfway sticking out of me – and his got this look of horror on his face, haha! Daddy said, “Jax, it’s ok bud! You came out the same way too!” Something about that relaxed his face/made him feel ok and he just held onto Heidi’s leg as they watched with anticipation. I became very quiet and started doing tiny pushes to ease the rest of your head out. I felt it pop out and I started to cry! As I was pushing the rest of your body out, they asked me to stop for a moment because it looked like the cord was wrapped around your neck (it was around your shoulder though), and I said, “No, I can’t stop!” One last hard push and at 7:54am I reached down, grabbed your body as it was coming out, and pulled you onto me! You opened your big blue eyes and made your presense known right away with the sweetest cry! Music to my ears! I couldn’t believe I was finally holding you in my arms. I burst into tears! What an amazing feeling! It’s a feeling that I was craving! Siriana came over to wear daddy was laying by my side and said, “You did such a great job, mommy!” *insert ugly cry face* I did do it! But, so did you, my baby boy! We did this together and you stayed strong the entire time!

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People have been asking me if your birth was harder than the last one. I stumble when I try to think of a quick answer. It was just different. All of them are, right? I had so many different factors and moments – weeks & days – leading up to the moment you were born. Things I’d never dealt with before. Hardships in life that needed a lot healing. And God is so good and just, that He made it all right. And then we brought you home! Your name means, “The Lord is Salvation.” Such true and amazing words! I’m glad that everytime I say your name, I’ll be reminded of that truth. I am so in love with you, Jace Alexander Newland. You’re the perfect new addition that we needed to complete our family and you were so worth the wait!

July 12th, 2017 @ 7:54am
6 pounds & 12 ounces
20 inches long

#NewlandpartyofSIX

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These labor & birth photos were captured by my sweet and very good friend, Sophia Ahmann.

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