The birth of Keller Ryan

I awoke in the wee hours of February 24, 2011, exactly 41 weeks along, feeling strong cramps in my abdomen. I questioned the startling pain due to all of the prodromal labor I experienced in the weeks leading up to my due date. I was unsure if it was “real labor”, so I decided to get up and pace around for a bit. When nothing happened, I crawled back in bed to rest. Just as I got comfortable, another contraction began. This time my husband, Justin, woke up as I was getting out of bed. After a few more contractions, we decided to time them. They seemed too close and intense for what I expected early labor to feel like, but since my previous pregnancies were induced with Pitocin, I had nothing to compare them to. The contractions were about 6 minutes apart. I decided to get in the tub to see if they would slow down while Justin called my mom and our doula. My mom hopped in her car and headed over. Our doula suggested that we wait an hour to make sure the contractions were consistent before she came to our house. After all, labor lasts for hours, right?
After an hour, Justin called our doula to inform her that the contractions were still coming strong, so she decided to head our way. It seemed as though my contractions were getting very close, and I grew impatient lying in the tub. A sense of anxiety flooded my body as I paced around my house and rocked on my yoga ball. The contractions kept getting closer and more intense. I asked Justin to time them again and to our surprise, they were only 2 minutes apart. He called our doula as I was having another contraction. She heard my anguish over the phone and suggested that she meet us at the hospital.
As we made our way out to the car, I realized there was no way I would be able to sit. The most comfortable, although unflattering, position I could get into was on my hands and knees in the backseat of my car. Justin drove, and my mom rode up front. It was just after 6:00 am and we were off to the hospital. As soon as the car started moving, I felt sick. I rolled the window down, stuck my head out, and the fresh air calmed my nausea. Justin was flying down I-35 with the flashers on, one hand on the wheel, texting our doula, and the other hand reaching in the back seat applying pressure to my lower back. There I was, on my hands and knees, moaning, with my head sticking out the window like a dog.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital, we didn’t know where to go. With all of my planning and preparing for this baby I never figured out the best parking and entrance to labor and delivery. Justin pulled up to the ER, hopped out with me, and left my mom in charge of parking. The security guard insisted that I sit in a wheelchair, claiming that he would be able to get me there faster. I was in transition labor at this point and couldn’t fathom sitting in that chair, but complied anyway. It seemed as though he was poking along, taking me on a Sunday stroll. While the guard was pushing me into the ER, I jumped out of it saying, “I can move faster than this!” An orderly approached Justin and asked what he could do for us while I made a pit stop at the nearest trash can to get sick. Justin told him where we needed to go and when he turned around to get me, I was gone. According to Justin, I was running to Labor and Delivery.
When we arrived to our final destination, our doula was waiting for us at the front desk and had our room ready. At that moment, I was starting to have another contraction. I leaned over the nurse’s station as another woman was checking in for her scheduled induction. I started breathing heavily and moaning while Justin and our doula rubbed my back and calmly talked me through it. Apparently, the woman was taken aback by my contraction, because she felt the need to tell the nurse that she would be wanting an epidural.
As soon as I got to the room, the nursing staff wanted to get an initial reading on the fetal monitor machine and measure a few contractions to make sure the baby was handling them well. In addition to that, I had to sign a stack of papers and answer ridiculous questions. What is the point in preregistering? Needless to say, my signature was not it’s normal pretty self – it was an ugly scribble across the pages.
At this point, I found out I was dilated to 7cm and our doula told me it was ok to get into the tub. I stripped my clothes off as fast as I could and made my way to the water. I believe I ran, actually. As soon as my body was submerged in the warm water, I felt weightless. The warmth was so soothing, and the feeling of weightlessness was such an amazing relief. It was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be.
I got very nauseous and started to vomit again. With all the straining from being sick, my water broke. Not long after that, my contractions stopped. I asked what was going on. I was afraid since my contractions stopped, I was having false labor again and they would send me home. The pause in my labor lasted about 15 to 20 minutes. In that time, I became slightly aware of my surroundings and started to worry if my mascara had smeared. I specifically remember telling my birth photographer, “My pictures are going to be ruined. I have raccoon eyes!”
When the contractions came back, they were different. With each one, my body began pushing uncontrollably. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to push because I wasn’t at 10cm yet.
I remember asking, “What do I do? I feel like I have to push.”
“Then push!” our doula and photographer answered.
It seemed silly, but I needed someone to tell me it was ok, even though my body was already doing it. After a while, I began to have a feeling of defeat and said that I couldn’t do it anymore. It was so hard to get those words out; they tasted so bitter.
As little Keller’s head finally began to descend, I reached down to feel. Talk about an intense rush of emotions. I knew that my baby was right there, literally at my fingertips, and he was depending on me to bring him into this world. I was beside myself.
After a 4 hour labor, and a few more pushes, the Little Nugget was born. At a whopping 10 lbs. and 2 oz., 22 ¼ in long, he was more like a chicken strip.
There are so many emotions a mother feels after giving birth to her child: relief, adoration, sentimentality, euphoria, and accomplishment, to name a few. And I felt all of my discomfort disappear.
I have to say, giving birth to my little water baby using the Bradley Method was truly one of the most precious moments of my life. I was able to give my son the gift of life without the use of any chemicals or medicines in our bodies. It’s unfortunate that many women travel blindly through their pregnancies not knowing that there is a wealth of knowledge out there related to pregnancy and birth choices. I was one of those women. I originally thought the Bradley classes will help me achieve my goal of having an unmedicated birth. After a few classes, we began asking our OB questions, and quickly realized she was not on board with our newly discovered birth plan. We were lucky to have had the support to leave our OB in our 30th week and switch to a midwife.
Justin and our doula did and amazing job keeping me calm and relaxed. Justin knew exactly what to do and how to soothe me without having to say one word. I owe that all to our doula/Bradley instructor and her teaching us the Bradley way. I am passionate about recommending this way of birthing to everyone. Yes, a Bradley birth is harder than calling an anesthesiologist to give you an epidural, but the results are so much better in so many ways.
If I could go back and do anything differently, I would choose to have a home birth. The drive to the hospital was unbearable. The poking, signing, and odd questions that consumed the first half hour I was there annoyed me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the care I received, and the staff was very respectful of our birth choices, but next time I would much rather be in the comforts of my own home, surrounded by the ones I love.

Keller’s birth slideshow





The Birth of Henry Wren

“We had a baby, AT HOME!”, were the first words I remember saying after I pulled my little bird out of the water.
Henry Wren’s birth story goes way back to when his older brother, Keller, was born. I believe I said, “Next time I’m just doing this at home.” as I stepped out of the birth tub at the hospital.
My plans and Justin’s plans were not quite the same, unfortunately.
Before discovering we were adding another blessing to our family, I began the search for the perfect midwife.
I chose Kim because she was exactly what I wanted in a midwife. She was soft spoken, very knowledgeable, motherly, and I just got that good vibe when I was with her.
When we found out Henry was on his way, Justin started voicing his concerns with a homebirth. After reading many evidence based medical reports on the safety of homebirth, he agreed that a homebirth was exactly what was best for our family. Not to mention the fact that he would get to sleep in his own bed instead of an uncomfortable hospital cot.
As my pregnancy progressed, we prepared for our birth.
Birth kits began arriving and by 37 weeks we had our birth tub. We were ready, but Henry wasn’t.
My “due date” came and went and I decided to embrace his tardiness and took a series of “40+ pics”. Each day I took a fun and creative picture.
















As I neared 42 weeks, Kim felt that it was necessary to have a biophysical profile (BPP). Justin and I chose to use an imaging center that was in-network with our insurance. Sadly, the sonographer wasn’t experienced with late pregnancy sonograms and felt that the pregnancy was at risk.
Kim met us at my house and she examined me. I was dilated to 3cm and we decided to go to the hospital and have a second opinion. We packed our hospital bag and emotionally prepared for an induction at the hospital.
After spending quite a few hours at the hospital, with constant fetal monitoring and another sonogram, it was decided by a perinatologist and one of the UNT midwives, that Henry was very happy and healthy and I could go home.
While at the hospital, I began having what I thought to be Braxton hicks contractions. They were coming along every 8-10 minutes. Kim thought that this was early labor and suggested that she go home with us. This pattern was what my body had been doing for days.
I didn’t actually think I was in labor but I let her follow us home anyway.
Kim checked my cervix again when we got home at 10:30pm. It was April 24 and I was 41 weeks 6 days pregnant.
To my surprise, I was dilated to 5cm. Those “Braxton Hicks” contractions were actually doing something.
I still didn’t feel like I was “in labor”, though.
While I milled around my house contracting away, Justin watched The Big Lebowski, my mom played on her iPhone, and Kim napped on my couch.
By midnight my contractions started feeling stronger and closer together. Kim decided it was time to call her birth team, since it took about an hour for them to get to Burleson from Weatherford. She suggested that I call my doula, Jamie, and my photographers, Jenni and Sarah.
I still wasn’t convinced it was time to call everyone, but Kim was the pro and I went with it.
Justin began filling up the birth pool as I continued to labor around the house.


At about 1:00 Jamie arrived. By that, point my contractions were much closer, I was beginning to need labor support, and I had accepted that I might actually be in labor.



I believe it was 1:40 when I got into the tub.

I continued to labor for what seemed to be HOURS, but was actually only 1 hour.


By this point ,contractions were very intense. I had no concept of time or my surroundings during contractions. I remember being disappointed, at the start of each contraction, that my pushing contractions weren’t coming. I LOTHE PUSHING. I just knew that if I could start pushing, it would all be over soon.
Not much longer after I had those thoughts, my body began to bear down and shortly after that, at about 2:40, I began feeling that uncontrollable urge to push.
After each contraction, I would reach down to see if I could feel his head. After a few pushes, I felt the top of his head. As silly as it sounds, I pet his little head between contractions. I believe I said, “I feel his head. He’s really coming. I can do this!”
At 3:00am in the wee hours of April 25, 2013, my Henry Wren Pope was born. He weighed 11lb 4oz!





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I am so thankful for the team of women who surrounded and supported me while Justin and I welcomed our 4th son into our eager arms.
I was so happy that Justin not only “let me have my homebirth”, but he believed it was what was best for our family. During the newborn exam he said, “I’m going to be disappointed if our boys’ wives don’t birth like this.”
I asked, “what do you mean?”
He replied, “You know, all natural…homebirth….”
Those words were music to my ears.
Welcome Henry……
Here’s the link to view his beautiful birth
Henry’s Birthday