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I clearly remember one week in March of 2009. Ryan was outside digging a garden bed with our little girls. His mother was visiting and staying with us for the week. I suspected something, peed on a stick, saw two lines, and ran outside to whisper to Ryan that I was pregnant! It was too hard to keep it a secret with family around, so we invited everyone over for desset and shared our news right away.

I remember sitting on the living room floor late at night, talking about midwives and baby names. A few days later I was still not feeling sick yet so I took another test and the line was lighter. Then, the spotting started. I made it through a family dinner, then called a midwife who helped me understand what to expect. It was a blessedly quick process – one night full of cramping and bleeding, and it was over. We had to tell all the family members, and it was awful.

Fast forward to March of 2010 – so much has happened. I got to see those two lines again on another positive pregnancy test! My big girls turned two and three. We moved from Texas to Florida. And, one day in the middle of March, our newest daughter Eliana Joy was born!

Her name means “My God has answered me with joy.”


I saw these pregnancy questions at Adventures in Babywearing, and I thought I would join in!

Preggy Facts:

1. Who did you first inform about your pregnancy and how?
I told Ryan, who was still asleep bed.  He says that I was screaming and pulling him out of bed… he really thought that I was being eaten by a giant insect.

2. Maximum weight?
I don’t remember… I gained close to 30lb I think.

3. Cravings?
frozen lemonade

4. Aversions?
fast food

5. Morning Sickness?
Only for about a month… although I was working as a NICU nurse then, so it was kinda awful.

D Day Facts:

1. Number of Kids/Deliveries?
2 kids, one delivery, one by the miracle of adoption 🙂

2. NSD or CS?
completely natural

3. Girl or Boy?

4. AOG (age of gestation) on Birth?
40 weeks and 6 days (according to the actual due date!)

5. How long in labor?
I guess about 12 hours from the time I woke up and wandered around the house with contractions… but only about 2 hours of active labor – then she came pushing herself out!

Moms Who Played Along:

Mai | Yen | Arlene | Hailey’s Domain | Hailey’s Beats and Bits | Can of ThoughtsDesigns By Vhiel | Anything & Everything in Between | Vhiel’s Corner | Lourdes’ Mia | Pinay Mommy Online |Livy Updater|Adventures In Babywearing

Selah was born at the Austin Area Birth Center, where they encourage all of their patients to take a Bradley class. Before I took the class, I read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg and Husband-Coached Childbirth by Dr. Robert Bradley. Dr. Bradley’s book is older, has no pictures, and is not quite as practical as the other book. I very highly recommend Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way…I have read that book over and over, and I loan it to every single pregnant friend that I have! I especially like the pictures, drawings of exercises and positions, and the stories of how various labors begin and progress through the Bradley method.

I really like the Bradley method because it focuses on very practical and simple things: relaxation, exercises and positions, and training the birth coach. There is no complicated breathing pattern or technique to remember. It is all about becoming a team with your coach, learning what really helps you relax, and working together to birth your baby the way you want to.

I am not the type of person who regularly exercises, but the recommendations in this book for labor preparation are so simple and helpful, that I was able to do them daily throughout my pregnancy. I prepared for my birth experience by regularly stretching, squatting, doing Kegel exercises, and walking. I love telling people how great squatting is for pregnancy and birth! It takes some practice to do a really deep squat (feet flat on the floor), but then it becomes such a great position for opening up, moving a baby down during labor, and then giving birth. During the last few weeks of my pregnancy, whenever I played with Emma, I would crawl on my hands and knees and sit in a squat. I really believe that those exercises helped Selah get into such a great birthing position, and be very low and ready for birthing.

My absolute favorite part of the Bradley class was the night where we practiced all of the massages and relaxation exercises. Our fabulous instructor, Chan, created stations for each type of massage and relaxation tool. Everything felt so great, and it was so helpful to actually practice all of the techniques. That night, I told Ryan that I couldn’t wait to go into labor, so that I could have more back massages and warm compresses!

The Bradley method also focuses on the ultimate position for relaxation – laying on your side, completely supported with pillows. It is incredibly difficult to stay still in this position in the midst of powerful contractions, but when I finally tried it, it was amazingly effective at making my labor quick and more relaxing!

However, the key component to a Bradley birth is the coach. All of the classes are intended to create a coach who is knowledgeable and prepared to actively help the birthing woman relax, remember her plans, and birth the way they had hoped. Ryan was such a wonderful coach! Just as I wrote in Selah’s birth story, I had given Ryan some specific tips and things to say that I knew would help me in labor. (I found these tips in the Bradley books, and wrote them down on a cheat sheet for Ryan!) Throughout labor, even though things moved so quickly, Ryan was able to help me because he had been taught so many ideas for helping me relax and focus.

Maybe I’ll become a Bradley instructor someday – I like it that much! Well, I won’t be doing that anytime soon, but I do have something else that I’m working on…

Soon, I will be sharing my very own Birthin’ Mama Kits, full of tools and tips for a relaxing pregnancy and labor (whether or not you are using the Bradley method). So, check back soon!

It seems silly to post Selah’s birth story, now that she is almost 9 months old, but…better late than never! Several of my pregnant friends have been asking about her birth, and wondering just why I am so passionate about natural childbirth and the Bradley Method. So, instead of talking forever and ever about my favorite subject, I will simply point them to this article!

FYI, I tried to keep this story fairly non-graphic, but it is a birth story. So, only continue reading if you enjoy that sort of thing!

Selah Sofia Heneise, born 7-8-07

My due date was July 2nd, but Ryan really hoped that the baby (we didn’t know Selah’s gender until birth!) would arrive on 7-7-07! So, on Saturday the 7th, I was very busy and active. We went shopping, and then took Emma swimming in the pool. I walked back and forth in the pool, and felt a lot of practice contractions. Throughout the last few months, I had experienced quite a few practice contractions, but that night they became stronger, and it was difficult to get comfortable for sleep.

At 2 or 3 in the morning, I gave up trying to sleep, and started to walk around the living room. I walked laps around the coffee table, and then I would rest on the couch between contractions. Of course, I did not realize, or admit to myself, that I was actually in labor at that point. I crouched on my hands and knees on the couch, propped up with pillows, and rocked my hips and back to stay comfortable. I finally decided to wake Ryan up around 6:00, and then we called Grandma and Grandpa to pick Emma up. (When they got a phone call from us that early on a Sunday morning, they knew the baby was coming, so they were at our house in just moments!)

I still did not think I was actually in labor. But, after Emma was gone and we were able to focus and time the contractions, we realized they were close to 5 minutes apart. Ryan called the midwife at 8:00, and she recommended that I try to lay on my left side in the Bradley relaxation position. It felt so much better to be rocking on my hands and knees, but I got on my side and tried to completely relax through the next few contractions. I must have relaxed fairly well, because I had some very strong contractions, and in less than an hour, I was very surprised to find my water breaking. (I wasn’t really prepared to have this happen at home, in my bed.) Ryan became very busy finding towels, doing laundry, and calling the midwife back!

The next two hours were a complete blur…Ryan was literally racing back and forth between the microwave (to heat a rice sock for my back), the bed (to massage my back with the rice sock), the washing machine, and the car (to start packing up to go). As the contractions came closer together, he would only have about 2 minutes to do all of those things before I would be yelling for him to come back for the next contraction! It didn’t take long to realize that things were moving quickly, and we called the midwife back to tell her we were ready to meet her at the birth center.

We arrived at the birth center at 11:45. The midwife checked me, and I was already dilated to 6 centimeters. (This may sound pretty astonishing for a first-time birther, but it is actually quite typical if you read the Bradley books.) I remember having some terrible contractions in the exam room, and having a difficult time walking to the birthing room. But, once we got to my cozy birth room, I was so happy! I sat on an exercise ball and rested my head on the bathtub while they started to fill it up. Then, I got into the warm water. There was no time for relaxing, though. I got into the hands and knees position, and rocked in the water through the contractions. I also blew bubbles and made horse sounds with my lips (something I read about in Ina May’s book Spiritual Midwifery).

Less than 20 minutes later, the midwife checked me while I was in the tub, and I was completely dilated, and she could feel the baby’s head! Turns out, I was going through the “transition” period of labor while in the exam room and walking to the birth room…that’s why it was so awful! But, the hardest part was already over. I could start pushing, and pushing in the tub felt wonderful.

I got out of the tub and went to the bathroom, but then I really felt like the baby was coming out! I went to the bed, and got into a great squatting position with Ryan behind me. He had his arms around me, and I was able to rest up against him between pushing. (Later, he said that he was really in pain, with his arms and legs completely numb from being stuck in that position. I really think he was probably in more pain that I was at that point!)

Earlier, when I was preparing for labor, I felt scared about the moment when the baby’s head would come out. I heard that it could be a strong burning sensation. In my Bradley class, we talked about the “Ring of Fire”, and our instructor even played the Johnny Cash song! So, in advance, I had coached Ryan on just what to say at that moment. He did it perfectly…the moment arrived, and he reminded me to think about what was going on down there. It diverted my attention away from the burn, and made me think about how amazing it was, and how close I was to meeting my baby!

A couple of strong pushes to get the head out, and before I knew it, she was here! In fact, Ryan and I both remember seeing her feet inside of me, actually pushing her own way down as I was pushing her out. To this day, she does things her own way! I didn’t waste any time, and I didn’t wait for anyone to give her to me. I reached down, pushed the cord away, told everyone that she was a girl, and pulled her up to my chest! I think I was just a little bit eager and excited! We started nursing immediately, and then she happily nursed away for most of the day. She was only separated from me for a moment to get weighed, checked over, and bathed, but all of that happened right at the foot of the bed.

I love thinking about every moment of that day! It was so difficult to relax through the contractions (and some of them, I just could not relax through), but making low noises and keeping all of my muscles loose really helped her to come quickly and easily. My friends think that I’m crazy, but I really am looking forward to giving birth again!

Next…I will post about the Bradley Method. I did a lot of preparation for birth throughout my pregnancy, so I will share my experiences and best tips!

(originally posted on my other blog, Becoming a Midwife)

I was first interested in NFP as a way to postpone pregnancy, and the more I learned about it, the more I grew to like it. It is educational and empowering to learn about your body and to intimately understand the miraculous workings of your fertility.

As an aspiring midwife, I am interested in educating myself so I can educate the women I will work with. I also see the great potential for teaching these natural methods in developing countries (such as during my trips to Haiti).

The Benefits

There are incredible benefits to NFP – there is no costly medication or equipment (other than a simple thermometer), no harmful side effects of hormones or birth control devices, and NFP allows you to start or stop postponing pregnancy at any time. The single best benefit for me is the fact that I can know my body – when I am fertile and when I am not.

Fertility Charting The Basics

A woman is only fertile several days during each monthly cycle. The basic signs of fertility include temperature changes, observing cervical mucous/secretions, and internal changes of the cervix. A women’s temperature begins to rise slightly after ovulation, and typically continues to stay elevated until her next period. By taking her temperature before rising from bed (preferably at the same time every day), a woman can begin to recognize her typical temperature pattern. Cervical mucous gives women another way to recognize their fertility, because the cervix produces slippery secretions during the fertile days that provide a way for sperm to swim up to and fertilize an egg. Lastly, a woman can learn to feel her cervix and notice the changes in position that indicate the time of fertility. Around ovulation, the opening of the cervix (cervical os) opens slightly, the tip is softer, and the cervix rises so that it may be out of reach.

By paying attention to each of these fertility signs, it is possible to estimate the time of ovulation (although the exact day of ovulation cannot be known for sure). Sperm can live for several days if there is enough mucous to help them swim, so fertility can be either encouraged or prevented during these days. A couple can decide to practice strict NFP and abstain during these days, or may choose to use a barrier form of contraceptive when they are fertile. I have found that when a couple commits together to follow these “rules” of fertility, the NFP method is extremely successful and helpful.


Although I am a nurse and have done quite a bit of research on NFP, I am not an expert. If you are interested in learning more about your fertility and natural methods of timing pregnancy, there are excellent books and resources available (or contact me and I will help you find an answer to your question).

  • This beautiful and well-written blog is all about fertility awareness. The articles explain the basics of learning about your body and the signs of fertility.
  • Designed for women who are trying to conceive, this website allows you to create computerized charts of your temperatures and other fertility signs.
  • This product helped me count the days of my cycle, especially when I was just beginning to learn NFP. The chain of different colored beads help women track their fertile and non-fertile days, but are most useful for women with a regular period.
  • This bulletin board community offers forums for women to talk about fertility, pregnancy, and parenting.
  • The Art of Natural Family Planning by John F. Kippley This book includes everything there is to know about natural family planning. It is written from a Catholic perspective, so there are many sections that explain the moral and religious reasons that many people choose NFP.
  • Your Fertility Signals by Merryl Winstein This book includes simple explanations and diagrams to help women understand their fertility, without going into complex scientific or religious issues. I use it to look up a quick question or to teach someone the basics of NFP.
  • Fertility Chart. This is the chart that I use to track my cycles and temperatures. You can download it and use it yourself!