Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Birth of Maeve

The Birth of Maeve

The truth is it all happened so fast. Not really the birth, but just the whole week, the whole month, the whole pregnancy. If you know me well, then you would agree that I am not a procrastinator. I like my boxes checked off because I like to relax when all is complete. I kept putting off the baby stuff though. Not quite sure as to why. I guess I just wasn’t really worried about it. I know at this point that you really don’t need much of anything to have a baby and regardless of my frivolous preparations a baby will come when the time is right. I did very little to get ready. Brandon kept asking me to run through the details, but I thought we had more time.

I was still very happy being pregnant. On the last day I took time to store in my mind her kicks and rolls. I still love that feeling. It really never gets old. Sometimes she would surprise me with her strength and the ability to feel her little foot always made me smile. She would be in my arms soon, but I wanted to remember and cherish every part of our relationship. On Friday night I woke up with irregular contractions and bloody show. I could not believe it. The baby shower...the big, beautiful, perfect baby shower was Saturday. There was no way I could have her so soon. I was certain she would wait out the month. The contractions died off and the shower went on as planned. It was incredible. The atmosphere, the food, the music, the people, the cake, everything was perfect.

I went home that night and slept without interruption. Sunday went on and then that night the contractions started up again. This time same as before. I went about my normal routine on Monday and tried to just ignore this weird warning. I had never had a long labor before, never recall losing a textbook mucus plug, and never had a baby this early. I didn’t feel stressed or over worked. I was rested and my mind was at peace. I went about my business and decided I would just keep on, besides, at this rate I could be contracting irregularly for the next several weeks and I could easily accept that and just get used to it. What other choice did I have? And seriously, at this point in life I have learned to appreciate every single moment, so I could not complain. She was moving and I could feel her close to me and I could talk to her and love her. I was still at peace.

I kept thinking at some point, maybe as I got closer, I would start to worry, start to get scared, start to try and control. It didn’t happen. I think that’s the way the whole pregnancy went. I always felt so comfortable, so secure with the whole process. So at ease with the outcome, no matter what it was. There were moments when I thought about my death. I remember twice thinking that this peace was almost unnerving. Would I be okay? I didn’t want my children to have grow up without a mother and I didn’t want to be careless with my life. There was still nothing I could do about it and I knew ultimately God was in control of my life.

One thing I got to experience and learn about was dealing with others’ and their fears. I got to see firsthand what it must be like for first time moms dealing with skeptics. I announced to anyone who asked that I would be delivering this baby without a midwife present. My husband would be there to help me. I had always wanted an unassisted birth, but my trust was underdeveloped. I started planning, or not planning, for a birth that just happened. I knew that babies would come without help from anyone. The problem was that even midwives, and those who claim to trust full heartedly the process of birth can be funny about letting the mother experience true empowerment on their own. During my moments of introspection I found my fears. Most of them were based on my own body failures. I had always needed help with a stubborn anterior lip before. I was told that my baby may never come if it wasn’t moved out of the way. I was now wondering if this was true. My friend spoke about bleeding and death and the quickness of complications. People seemed afraid for me, were praying for me, were trying to get me to allow someone else in should something go wrong with my body, my baby, or my birth...just in case. The thing was, I didn’t have these fears. I didn’t have any fear at all. I knew that no matter what happened, good or bad, I would have God there with me and I had complete peace in this.

I do appreciate the fact that my close friends and family shared in my confidence. I may have expected my husband or my mother or my grandmother to question my plans, but they seemed just fine with it. Brandon said he had no fear at all about the process and fully trusted in God’s plan too. That was nice to know.

I started a hypnobirthing class in my first trimester. I do believe this helped me get through my thoughts during the pregnancy. It gave me confidence and a place to go when I needed to truly relax and accept the wisdom and the love that surrounds me. I found it a bit difficult to get into that place during birth, but the help it provided me during the pregnancy was well worth it.

Monday night (August 15th) we started a movie for the kids and I decided to just get some rest. They were all piled in the room watching The Perfect Game. Just like that, my water broke and at that point I thought I might be able to say for sure that I was in labor. It was around 9:15. I could now call my friends and family and I could know that at some point in the near future I would give birth. Over the next couple of hours my mom, my cousin, my sister-in-law, my apprentice, and my photographer arrived. Things were going, but slowly.

The contractions always seemed spaced out. I got into the tub as the intensity built expecting relief. The tub seemed to bring them on stronger and my ability to laugh and joke slowly faded away. I was in that place again. I recognized it instantly and the pressure I was expecting was now with me. Occasionally they would get close together, but then they would space out again. I’m not sure how far apart they were, but I would guess they seldom got closer than 5 minutes. My thoughts were so clear, my mind stayed so present. I may not have been in the room, so to speak, but I was in the birth completely.

By midnight I was about 6 cm. Her head was still pretty high and it seemed like we still had a ways to go. The contractions were getting stronger and were really starting to hurt now. I was starting to dislike labor and then I felt inside and found a centimeter anterior lip in front of her head. It was sore and pushing on it hurt. I was so disappointed to find myself in this place once again. I pleaded with my baby and my body to get over this and allow descent. I tried pushing her down and it worked. Her head moved every time I pushed. It seemed like she could bypass the cervix. My cervix hurt. I didn’t even want to think about trying to push it back. I realized the pressure was that cervix stretching open. I had thoughts about uterine prolapse if she couldn’t get through. I questioned whether or not I should tell Brandon that I was done, that I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew good and well that I could, I really just didn’t want to. I didn’t want to keep going on like this. I felt like a child at that point, ready to give up when I knew my body was doing this and it really didn’t matter how I felt about it. I pushed again and it eased the peak.

She was about to be born. I knew that for sure. I wanted Brandon to hold me up, support my perineum. She seemed to be barreling down and it is was overwhelming. I could feel her move down and it seemed to be happening so quickly. I wasn’t ready to feel her head come out. I needed more time to adjust to this new feeling, but of course, that mattered little. Within the next few minutes her head was out. I don’t remember the burn or the stretch. It was fast this time and that part was bearable. She had a loose nuchal cord. I tried to give it room. I couldn’t reach to pull it all the way over and by the time Brandon had it moving her body was delivering. I begged him to pull her the rest of the way out. Her body seemed to be just sitting there and it hurt. He did and I unlooped the cord once she was out. It was over and there she was. It was now 1:15 on the morning of August 16th, 2011. We did it! Just the 3 of us! I was so relieved and so empowered and so happy.

The first time I saw her I was a bit surprised. She had a head full of hair and was covered in vernix. It is a bit weird seeing your baby for the first time. I felt like I knew her so well and yet had no idea what she looked like. By the looks of her she was not quite 38 weeks, but she was healthy and strong. She never cried. She was peaceful and alert. Nursing went well right off. We all climbed into bed and looked her over. My mom charted measurements and notes as I performed her exam. Brandon weighed her and we all just cherished the slow, easiness of the process. She weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces.

It seems so silly now, this is my 5th baby. I don’t know how I ever managed to forget the magnitude of a mother’s love. I am so enthralled in this baby, in her smell, in her breathing, in her noises, in her eyes. Everything about her is so perfect and so sweet. It is in moments like these that you realize God’s love for us. To know what he has given us, these moments of love, they’re so unmatched, so unbelievable, so strong, so encompassing, so fulfilling, so real.

The birth was more than I had hoped for. I was never afraid. I was present mentally and was able to learn through the experience more about contractions and pain in labor. I was able to feel her head descend through my body and feel the sensation of working with my partner to free her completely. I was able to experience birth on my terms. I was never pressured, no one ever needed to suggest anything, I was able to think through my own thoughts without anyone filling my head. It was my birth and it was perfect.

Birth Story Written by Amber Henry Riedel in August 2011
Baby Info:
Maeve Marie Henry Riedel
6 pounds, 11 ounces
Born on August 16th, 2011 at 1:15 am


  1. Thank you for sharing, what a lovely birth story- and yes, God is good! Love, The Hersrud's, Sarah, Jeff and Sydney

  2. It was so beautiful witnessing the birth of Maeve, the way it happened, so naturual, but to hear your daughter's deepest thoughts while this perfect birth took place brings joy & tears to a mom's heart & soul. MOM

  3. Who took your pictures? If I may ask.

  4. Amber, Brandon... thank you for sharing this wonderful story about the birth of little Maeve. The intimacy if your experience is truly touching. Tears roll in my eyes as I was reading remembering my own motherhood experience. Life is so beautiful...congratulations! God bless you all.

  5. Jackie Willome at

  6. Amber -

    I had no idea you were pregnant. You would have been around 4.5 months when you delivered Nolan. Congratulations! Life is funny, complicated, yet so simple all at the same time. Your birth story seems to hold so true to that. The birth of a new baby has a way of putting everything into perspective. And you, Amber, have made my last 3 births feel simple, honest, and whole. Things that you fear you may not have with a pregnancy and birth. You are a beautiful person, your new daughter is beautiful, and your story is beautiful. I want to thank you for all you have done for me as well.

    Betty Filibeck

  7. Thanks for the beautiful testimony of your birth. It is very inspiring. I look forward to meeting her.