Asher's birth story

“I’ve accepted that this baby might decide to just stay in there for the next two weeks. Or not, but it probably will, just to spite me and my exhausted uterus.”

I was a day past my due date and showing no signs of labor, hadn’t even felt a Braxton-Hicks contraction in over a week. My girls were born at 40 and 41 weeks and after a seriously draining, painful pregnancy, I was trying to mentally prepare for the possibility of staying pregnant through to 42 weeks. A bit pessimistic, sure, but whatever. It was 10:30pm on March 4th and I’d spent the last 4 hours with a baby head wedged so far into my nether region that I was having to alternate between sitting with my legs stretched out until they would fall asleep from the lack of blood flow and then pull them up under me until the pressure on my cervix made me cranky and then switch again. I was SO over the whole thing, but trying to not be…

Approximately 3 minutes later, I shifted my position and I felt some weird wetness. Shifted again and felt a definite POP, followed by a unpleasant gush and I flew off my couch, yanked down my yoga pants and yelled at James “oh, my God! My water totally just broke, LOOK!”

To his credit, he responded with a calm “hm, okay” and seemed completely unbothered that I was suddenly half-naked, waddling to the bathroom with my pants around my ankles and holding a towel between my legs. I think that’s probably why our relationship works so well, actually. Then I called my midwife while he got up, washed the dishes leftover from dinner and went around tidying up the house so I wouldn’t be worrying about dirty laundry on the floor during labor. The man knows my love language, and it’s chores. Bless.

I hadn’t felt any contractions yet so we were hoping to get a bit of rest before things started up. We crawled into bed around 11 and I put in my headphones and started listening to my Hypnobabies birth affirmations track. Contractions started around midnight and were about 10 minutes apart. They weren’t painful and mostly felt like pressure for the most part so I stayed in bed until around 1:30 or so, when I woke up James to let him know I was going downstairs. They were about 6 minutes apart and moving closer together every contraction so I wanted to be up and moving to encourage the baby to move down into position. I let everyone involved in the birth know to start heading over. James snapped this picture and it’s the last shot of my big belly that I have!


Then he went upstairs to start filling up the birth tub we’d set up in our guest room.

Okay. Let me take a minute to gush about this room. A group of my awesome friends threw me a wonderful mama blessing and I was able to take the things they made for me and turn our blah little guest room into a sweet, calming birth space. I love it. I gave birth to Juliet in the middle of our living room at our last house so this felt a bit more focused and special, with the personal touches and candlelight.

I hung the birth affirmations that they all wrote out for me underneath a mobile made with strands of beads that they each put together.



They each decorated a votive to hold candles to light and remind me of their support during my labor. Violet drew a picture of what she called a "circle rainbow" and had me write a note on it to hang on the wall over the tub. There were candles hanging on the walls and it was just very sweet and cozy.

my birth-1

my birth-2

I love it. Anyway, that’s the end of my tangent.

By 2am my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, everyone was on their way and I was slowly wandering around my living room doing a full-on labor dance. Lots of hip swaying and slow breathing and quiet hmmmmm’ing through them. James was still working on filling the tub but he’d check in with me every few minutes and massage my back, which was sweet. My midwife and her assistant showed up together at some point and it made it feel like, okay! Let’s have a baby tonight! My contractions were still not very painful and I felt comfortably in control of them. They were moving consistently closer and closer together so as soon as the tub was ready, I waited for a contraction to end and had James help me hurry up the stairs before the next one began. My little birth room was all cozy and candlelit and I was getting excited to get this baby out!

By this point, my contractions were coming very close together and I was starting to feel a low pressure that I knew was the baby’s head descending so woohoo, transition! Getting to the exciting part!

At the peak of each contraction, the muscles in my lower half began to seize up but, unfortunately, not like my body was trying to push. I started to hang on James and try to relax my muscles by basically sticking out my butt, arching my back and making big hip circles. It seemed to work because after a few contractions like that, my muscles stopped clenching up and my body naturally started pushing. So, into the tub with me!



Mmmmmm. Such a great feeling, getting into the warm water!


My contractions felt like they slowed down a little bit once I got into the water but I was actively pushing through each one. After a few, I remember thinking “this is seriously ineffective pushing, nothing’s happening!” Which of course wasn’t true, I was just spoiled from Juliet, who shot out with hardly any effort. This one just took a little more work!

Baby descended into the birth canal, which is probably the only part of this labor that I would say felt "painful" and it was just from the stretching and pressure. I also began to feel a bit overheated and nauseous, what with the hot water and candles and lots of people in a little bitty room. Cold compresses helped but mostly, I wanted to get my baby out because I knew that would make the rest of it go away!


I could feel that the baby was close to crowning so I reached down to do some counter-pressure and wait for the head. James asked if he should go get Violet since she wanted to be there to meet the baby and I nodded, so he went to wake her up. He carried her in, looking sleepy and a bit disoriented.

I pushed and out came the head.  Pushed a few more times and out came the baby!

I very distinctly remember looking down and seeing this sweet little face, eyes wide open, looking up at me through the water. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and thinking “I just need a second to process this!” so I took a few moments to breathe and cry and just look before pulling the baby up onto my chest. Look at this sweet face!

So unbelievably mellow! Cried for just a moment and then just snuggled on my chest, looking around and taking everything in. I cried more than the baby did!

A few minutes went by and it didn’t occur to me to check what gender the baby was because I was still completely absorbed with just looking at that cute little face. I mean, look at that! Adorable.

I had originally wanted James to be the one to find out the baby’s gender since I had done so with Juliet but when I repositioned my hand to feel for the umbilical cord, it was too tempting to not nudge around and find out for myself. It’s a boy! I did peek a few minutes later to double-check and yep, totally a boy! Our photographer captured James’ expression right when I announced it.

Violet had been very interested in learning about umbilical cords and placentas during our conversations during the pregnancy so she asked to see the cord. She touched it with one tentative finger and then gently put her hand on the baby's head. And although she’d been saying that she wanted a baby sister, she told me she was really happy that the baby was finally here.

She decided not to help cut the cord once it stopped pulsing, probably because the baby started fussing when we moved his blanket and leaned him backwards, but she watched the whole process very closely. He started rooting so I let him nurse and he latched on perfectly.

After a little while, the baby was passed up for some skin-to-skin with James while I delivered the placenta and got out of the tub.

Around this time, a newly-made Big Sister woke up and came to see what the fuss was all about!

Once that was all taken care of, I walked with my midwife down the hall to my bedroom to change clothes and get into bed. She actually got a little stern with me and told me to take it easy because I had been speed-walking my way to my room and she didn’t want me to over-exert myself. But I was blissfully enjoying that natural birth oxytocin high and James had been holding the baby for about 20 minutes by then and I wanted him BACK!

We snuggled and nursed some more, he was weighed and measured and my midwife did his newborn exam.

So pink and new! James got to handle the first diaper and outfit.

The same shirt Juliet wore when she was born!

Each of the girls came in to see him, although we couldn't get them to come in together for a family photo, alas! A good friend of mine came to be with us during the birth to help take care of the girls and periodically I’d hear them playing and reading books together across the hall. It was nice to know that they were getting some special attention while we were busy with their new little brother!

After everything was cleaned and packed up and sorted and the baby and I had been checked and loved on and tucked into bed, everyone else began to slowly clear out and eventually it was just our new little family of 5 left! I curled up and took a nice, long nap with Asher around 7 while James took the girls downstairs for breakfast. They never did go back to bed, although Violet finally crashed around 11 and Juliet managed to fight her sleepiness until almost 1. And so we started our first day with our new little one!

Asher James Blacklaw
arrived March 5th, 2014
at 3:37 am
8 pounds 6 ounces
22 inches long
born in our home

In case you're not birth-ed out yet, here's a short video I threw together with some of the footage that we got from the labor and delivery.

And in case you are in a birth story-readin' mood, here's the photo story of Juliet's birth from 2011!

and time held it's breath so i could see...

Good LORD. I love my laptop, truly I do, but the thing picks the WORST time to wheeze out and die. Sorry for the massive delay, but it was totally not my fault.


So, obviously I made it back alright. Our week in Paris was fun and long and tiring and I think Mom was pretty much as ready to get on the plane home as I was. I did try to play the good tour guide and we walked out butts all over that city and anyone who's gonna be at Annie's baby shower had best be ready to smile and nod a lot because my mom will not stop talking until she's covered every minute of the trip or, like, the new episode of Survivor comes on. You know, whichever happens first.

Anyway, we took a bunch of pictures so enough with the talking. I'll see you all sometime, anyway.

Have a good afternoon, everyone!
  • Current Location: Olympia, WA
  • Current Mood: accomplished accomplished
  • Current Music: Michelle Branch - You Set Me Free

we'll take this road until we're back at the start yet again...

Hi! Just a quick note before I have to run off and get the boys. I have all of 10 days left and I'm nearly done packing and my mom is on a plane right now heading towards Atlanta and she'll be here tomorrow afternoon! I really hope I can get WiFi in our hotel so I can post pictures of our Paris visit, because I have this vision in my head of what my mom will be like in Paris and she's, like, an excited little puppy. So hopefully that will work. But now, I've got to head out so have a good afternoon, everyone!
  • Current Location: Nancy, France
  • Current Mood: happy happy
  • Current Music: 100 Round the Bends - Missy Higgins

there's a song on low and your mind just picked up on the sound...

Look! Two posts in one week, I am AWESOME.

Anywho, here are the pictures from my week in Annecy and the trip up Mont Blanc. Not as exciting as London (though really, is anything?) but what are you gonna do, right?

Have a good weekend, everyone!
  • Current Location: Nancy, France
  • Current Mood: working working
  • Current Music: One Flight Down - Norah Jones

images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes

Alright. So, I know I said I'd post a bunch of pretty mountain pictures but bear with me y'all, those are gonna have to wait because I had a bit of a surprise on Friday.  I took the train into Paris to visit my friend Erin, who is there finishing up her study abroad and let me tell you, she is MADE of AWESOME, people, and I doubt I'll ever get a more brilliant (albeit, a tad delayed) birthday present.

In other news, Marie went into labor right before I left on Friday. (Seriously right before...we walked downstairs together and I headed to the train station and she to the hospital.) Baby Gabriel was born Friday night sometime, they're both doing fine and will be back from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Pictures sometime, anyway!

Have a good afternoon, everyone!
  • Current Location: Nancy, France
  • Current Mood: loved loved
  • Current Music: Across the Universe - the Beatles

there's nothing like an echoing hole, a headrush of sky, a knock at the door...

Well, I suck. Sorry for being all MIA lately but I'm afraid this isn't even going to be a proper post to make up for it.  I'm currently up in the mountains again (not in that cabin again though, thankfully) and my laptop has staged a mutiny and completely refuses to connect to the internet so I'm using a borrowed French one and the keyboard is driving me crazy. (The apostrophe is on the 4 key and you have to shift to get a period or's completely ridiculous.) Matt and I are staying with his grandma for a while so his parents can have one less child to deal with while they get the house all ready for Number Three, whose all set to pop out in the next few weeks. We went up and visited Mont Blanc yesterday, the highest mountain in France, so I'll be posting pictures of that when I'm back in Nancy and can force my computer into submission, so hopefully that will make up for my lack of updates lately.

On another note, just over 30 days left over here, so expect either expect a little posting frenzy when I have a lot going on or absolutely nothing until I'm back stateside. One or the other; anyway!

Have a good afternoon, tout le monde!
  • Current Location: Annecy, France
  • Current Mood: cheerful cheerful
  • Current Music: A Day Like Today - Bic Runga

catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky...

Alright. Here are the wedding photos from Elen's wedding last Saturday. The ceremony was actually at the Cathedral de Saint Nicolas that I posted about here last fall. It was a very long, traditional French Catholic ceremony that I only understood about a third of, but it was very, very pretty so at least that kept my attention. Anyway, on to the pictures....

Have a good afternoon, everyone!
  • Current Location: Nancy, France
  • Current Mood: tired tired
  • Current Music: What Is And What Should Never Be - Led Zeppelin

them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose, so the bible says and it still is news...

Well. Took me a little over 8 hours - with several breaks to regulate my breathing, re-read, process and, you know, pee - but I finished. I'm not going to post any spoilers because I put myself on a Harry Media Blackout for the last few weeks and it made the book vastly more enjoyable than, say, book 5 when I knew half the ending going into it, so I won't ruin it for anyone who may read this (um, all 2 of you. Hi Mom!) 

I didn't get my copy until mid-morning because I had to wait for stores here to open. I bought it and was going to start reading it on the walk home since it was a straight shot downhill but I opened it, read the dedication and saw the cover page and thought 'this is the last time I'll ever do this...'' and had to close it because I about burst into tears in the middle of the sidewalk.

This is France. They're not big on public shows of emotion over here, unless it's about soccer. 

Once I got home, however, I carefully situated myself on the couch with supply of diet coke and bbq pringles (a girl needs rations, after all) and thank GOD the family spent the day out ,since as soon as I started reading I couldn't control the noises I made. I giggled, I gasped, I read with one hand over my mouth, I squealed and cried and laughed out loud. I literally sobbed through the last few chapters and had to stop for a moment and calm down since I couldn't see the pages clearly enough to continue reading and when I finished I had dark grey mascara trails down my face and into my shirt. 

(My Support Cedric Diggory shirt, which I've been wearing as pajamas and is the only Harry-related piece of clothing I have, since everything else I own is back in Olympia. )

Standards were set almost impossibly high for this book and I tried to go into it thinking that this is Jo Rowling's world and she just lets us be a part of it and I have to say I REALLY enjoyed it.  Obviously, it's a first edition and just like each one of the other books there are flaws but overall, it kept me completely intrigued more than any other and amazed at how carefully she threaded together the plot lines of all 7. I was so excited that several of my predictions came true, yet even when I was right I was still so totally wrong. My head is still wrapping around it and I still have mascara caked on my cheeks, so I'm just going to finish by saying that it was beautiful and painful and intense and that I have never been so involved with anything as I was with these books. (Although I do remember a Christmas party at Aunt Lois's several years ago when Emily got a few of them as a present and I thought 'yeah, I'll never read those. They're just stupid kids books with ugly covers." Um. Oops.) It's sort of the end of an era for me, and I'm going to put it off even longer and go reread it. I have tissues and soda ready. 

Thanks, Jo.

Have a good weekend, everyone! 

(And if you're reading this thing with me (ELISE...ahem) I expect comments and reviews and support from you people, since I was stuck with an empty French apartment instead of a midnight party and hordes of obsessive fans to share this with. Make up for it, people. You know what to do.)

  • Current Location: Nancy, France
  • Current Mood: excited excited
  • Current Music: God Bless the Child - Billie Holiday