Birth Stories

Guest Post: Zoey Jean’s Birth Story, by E. Blair

April 25, 2016

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We are mamas and birth workers who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are kind, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit. With 12 children and 20 years of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.


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Zoey Jean, The beginning.

Ever since I was little I always pictured Zoey as one of my little blond babies, running around the farm naked. At 32 years old she finally found me and decided she would rather be a redhead. She was a surprise baby. Babies were not on the table since I was dating a man who had been married with kids and didn’t want to go down that road again. As long as we were happy I was okay with that. The summer of 2015 I found out I had to have a second knee surgery. This was the first time I had a pregnancy test, routine procedure for surgery. I got a negative result and a new knee for my 32nd birthday. During my recovery I found out that Zoey’s dad was not the man I needed in my life and we split up. When I missed my period for the second time I figured surgery had played with my system and I should talk with a doctor. I scheduled a well woman check up and explained what my body was doing. His was in agreement that sometimes surgery can mess with you and a simple pill could jump start my system. But…let’s take a pregnancy test to be safe. The option of pregnancy hadn’t even crossed my mind. Later that day the call came. “Congratulations you’re pregnant, please come in to pick up your prenatal vitamins!” What! I can’t do this now. I just added ex #3 to my belt, my mom was about to move out of the country and I was taking over our family farm! How could I possibly deal with a baby alone? I immediately phoned my mom who was on a farewell road trip. Her first words were congratulations. Not the response I wanted at the time. I did not want to keep this baby.

Since mom was on the road I reached out to the wise women in my circle for advice, guidance and a shoulder to cry on. They were friends of my mom’s who watched me grow up and now in my adult years I call them my friends. They all supported me and whatever choices I thought were best for me. I started looking into my options. Being far enough along the easy route of popping a pill had passed. I looked in to herbal options. However, I was far enough along that there were no guarantees and if I continued on that road a surgical abortion would have been in my future because of damage I could have done to the unborn child. There are books and plenty of online research that I dug up, but I knew I needed to talk with someone who had experience. I knew I needed to find a midwife. I called upon a friend who had some experience with babies, birth and midwifery as her sister was a midwife, but many miles away. After only a few sentences into our phone conversation she dropped everything and came to my house. She was the first person to tell me to keep this baby. The first woman to not support the path I was on. KEEP THIS BABY. I will always remember her voice. KEEP THIS BABY. All the excuses melted away and my heart was changed. She prayed over me and so began my journey to motherhood.

Looking back I can see the signs my body was telling me. I knew that this recovery had been different than the first. When I got hungry, I GOT HUNGRY. I had to eat then and there and in silence or I just felt horrible. I was having crazy dreams, many of them were about men in my life and my relationships with them. I thought it was due to the pain pills which I immediately stopped taking. But now I know my hormones were surging and my body was changing, preparing to take care for this little nugget.

The next few months were emotional to say the least. Life was throwing a lot of things my way. My whole lifestyle was changing. I was giving up my old life in the city and finding my place in my rural childhood community. My mom was leaving the country and I was inheriting our small homestead. I changed careers and stopped living like a vagabond. A whole lot of adult life was coming my way. I cried a lot. On many different shoulders. Bonds were made and bonds were broken but I knew that one foot in front of the other and I would find my path again.

During this time I give credit to the women in my life. To those I reached out to. Never once did I ever feel shame about any decision I was making. I only felt love, support and encouragement for whatever path I was about to walk. They all secretly wanted me to have this baby but were able to put their own beliefs to the side and lift me up. I felt so blessed and lucky to have that kind of support. When I broke the news I was keeping this baby everyone was overjoyed. They all rallied behind me, just happy a little one would be coming into our world no matter the circumstances.

Zoey Jean- the birth plan

From the first time I knew I was keeping this baby, I knew I was going to have it at home. My five acre homestead, close to the middle of nowhere. In a very rural community built by hippies and ranchers, real people of the earth. Home birth was not an absurd concept. There were never a lot of kids in our community but over 40 plus years two of those kids were born at home in the valley and having my baby here was kind of a historic community event. My mother had my older brother at home so it had been part of our history. I knew it was something I wanted to do. Have this baby at home. Growing up on a farm birth was just a natural process. I had seen chickens lay eggs, goats have kids, kittens, puppies, all kinds of births. It was just a natural process that females were designed to do. Yet I knew it had risks. I witnessed a pig unable to birth piglets that ended up being butchered in the middle of the night. But I never feared it. I believe that everything happens for a reason, in life and death. At this point my mother had happily retired to the Carribean. Having her far away was daunting but I was lucky to have a wonderful caring community. So I started putting together a birth team. And let me be clear my birth team was knowledgeable but in no way did they provide medical care to me. I was just lucky to have women in the valley who wanted to support me in my journey. My neighbor and second mom was a retired NICU nurse and my friend who is a mother of 7 were committed to support me on this path, to be my birth team. Together we started looking into midwives. The first obstacle was the distance. Anyone was at least an hour away from my home. The second obstacle was the state. I learned about the heavy hand the government has over birth. Unfortunately, because of this, the care of a certified midwife was not something I wanted. I really wanted to find someone who would be hands off. Who would let me have this birth the way I wanted. On my own. I started to feel a little bit of despair. Was I really going to have to do this alone? Then we found Indie Birth. Their cause spoke to my heart like nothing I had come across. Women own birth. We finally found the support I was seeking. I was going to own this birth. I got to speak with them on the phone but unfortunately the distance was once again an obstacle. I was starting to come to terms with the fact that what was best for me was to have this baby at home, on my own, with the support of friends. I read and researched all I could to prepare myself. The more I learned about home birth theory, the more I turned away from modern medicine and child birth in a hospital. It was not a birth story I wanted to endure.

So I started doing my own prenatal check ups. I would take my blood pressure, measure my fundal height, check my urine and listen to the baby’s heartbeat. Then I would sit around and gab with my birth team about what it all meant. I was a strong, healthy woman and never felt uneasy about not seeing a doctor. Throughout my whole pregnancy the only time I ever saw a doctor was the initial pregnancy test. Everything else I did on my own. Yet we all knew there was still one piece of the puzzle missing. We still wanted a woman wise in the ways of birth to be there, just as a safety net. Just as I thought we would never find her I made friends with a woman from a few small towns over. She was willing to be a resource and a fly on the wall when my baby was ready to come. She never provided me with medical care and even missed the birth of my baby. But just knowing I had the added support of this friend, this wise woman, filled the missing piece in my heart. My mind grew at ease as my belly grew in size. I absorbed as much knowledge as I could. I owe much of that knowledge to the women at Indie Birth. Their opinions were never pushed. Just knowledge of the natural ways were presented for me to take or leave. I watched their videos, listened to podcasts and attended their conference. Their knowledge gave me confidence I was making the best decisions for me, my body and my baby. I came across the theory of undisturbed birth, about tapping into that deep primal side of you that knows how to birth a baby without any direction or assistance. This spoke to me and made sense in the natural world. Any animal I had seen give birth found a place that was quiet, calm and safe and waited to be alone to birth. This is what I told my team I wanted. I wanted to be left alone to do my thing. And once again I was met with unconditional love and support as to the path I was choosing for me and my baby. This is not to say that opinions were not heard. Each month we would sit and talk about choices and options coming from both sides of birth, the good and the bad. My team was hands off at my request. I was the one to take my measurements, my vitals. I was the one who listening to that strong quick heartbeat in my belly.

Zoey Jean-The prep

I was lucky to have, in my mind, an easy pregnancy. I was over two months into it when I found out I was due to have a leap day baby. It was hard to tell the difference between recovery from surgery and mild morning sickness. I was still working and tending to my homestead. I walked a couple miles a couple times a week and was eating local beef, raw milk and home grown veggies. This baby truly was born and bred locally. I had my team assembled, my birth wishes were well known and the house was stocked with supplies. I felt educated and healthy both mentally and physically. My mom arrived a week before I was due and was helping get the house settled. Then we waited for our baby to come. The gender was a surprise but I knew my little Zoey girl was with us, waiting til she was ready.

Zoey Jean- The day had come

It had been a long journey but I was finally ready to have this baby. My leap day due date had passed, we like to party so I was happy we would get to do it more than once every four years. March 2nd started with the usual farm life surprise and excitement. The neighbors dogs had come over, not unusual but they were chasing our chickens, very unusual. I was home alone, mom was covering for me at work. 9 months pregnant and chasing dogs who were chasing chickens was what we needed to get things started. I wrangled the dogs and sent them packing, tromping through the overgrown back acreage and even falling thigh high into sink holes. But we thank those silly dogs for kicking off my labor. I was laying in bed and started having a series of back pains. I had four of them in an hour and started to feel like I was having bad gas. I got up to go to the bathroom and leaked some fluid. I was losing my plug. I teared up with joy, I knew things were starting and it was just before noon. I started making phone calls and put everyone on stand by. I had no idea how long this was going to take but I didn’t want anyone to come over yet. I wanted to keep an eye on it and see if it was going to progress before rallying the troops. So I started putzing around the house and tracking what my body was doing. Every 5-8 minutes or so I would have mild contractions. They progressively became more intense but I wouldn’t say painful. I would just breathe through them and focused on counting through the sensations. I could tell I was starting to get high on birth. I would make phone calls to my team and was having a hard time getting the right words out of my mouth. I knew not to fight the contractions. I just gave into them. I let them rush over me like a wave, concentrating more on my breathing and counting than on what was going on below. I trusted that my body knew exactly what it was doing and it was my job to keep my brain from fighting it. This is exactly what was in the plan, this is what we had talked about so many times. Own this birth. Trust in my body. It knew what to do. Give into it and let it. I found comfort sitting on the toilet. It let my brain and body relax knowing that I wouldn’t be making a mess of things. I could just let things come out as they needed. I had an exercise ball that I put on my lap and it could touch the wall at the same time. I would lay on it to rest in between rushes. My mom got home around four o’clock and I was having strong enough rushes that I couldn’t talk and couldn’t have any noise or bustling about. Between rushes we got my pool filled up and I was happy to have the warm water around me. My rushes were consistent in timing and getting stronger. My mom would come and ask for updates. I had to send her away. I had to tell her she just couldn’t talk to me. I couldn’t have her asking me things. If I needed something I would ask, otherwise I needed to be left alone. That was part of the plan. I was going to own this birth. I was to tap into that primal part of my brain, not disturb it and let it do it’s things. Just as the sun started setting the first member of my birth team arrived. She came in quietly and I was ready to get out of the pool. My feet had started to prune and were starting to hurt. She helped me back to the bathroom, brought me some food and drink and tried to rub my back. I had to send her away also. I couldn’t have anyone touch me. I couldn’t eat the food or the drink because the smell and taste were just too powerful. So she left me to sit in the dark, on the toilet with my ball. My rushes started to get intense. They made noises come from deep within my body. I was no longer able to count. I had to groan and breath the best I could. The noises birth makes you make can be scary, they take over your body and just come all on their own. I had read about this so I was not scared. I embraced it and again gave into the process using those groans and noises my body was making. I knew it meant baby was close. I knew it was time to get off the toilet. I called for assistance and we walked to the bed. I had one more rush so strong I could not sit down. I held myself hovering over the bed as deep guttural sound escaped my body. I could see birth team member number two arrived but she stayed away not making her presence known. She just sat and listened from the kitcen. I laid on my side and could sense the impending ring of fire. I knew my baby was ready. It took two strong pushes and my baby hit the bed crying. At 8:11pm I gave birth to my daughter in my grandmothers bed, the bed my mother was conceived in. My girl was finally in my arms and a healthy 8 pounds. Now the events become a bit hazy. I remember holding my baby. I remember her nursing. I remember blood. I remember being fed crackers and cheese and PB &J but not eating the crust. I remember lemonade from a straw. I remember being tired. I remember passing my placenta. I remember seeing the little thing in the safe hands of a wise woman who had finally materialized. I remember my mom not being there. I remember everyone watching me in awe. I remember everyone cheersing to a job well done. I remember being proud that I did it. That I did it just the way I wanted to. That I owed my birth with all my being. We waited to separate from the placenta. Our wise woman, my mom and I used two long red candles to burn the cord hours after the birth. The three of us bonded over this moment, all experiencing it for the first time. It took time but finally my babe was earthside and ready to enjoy this world.eblair2

Zoey Jean- The aftermath
Once things settled down my friends started to go home. I was feeling good. My babe was in my arms happy, healthy and strong. Team member one and her daughters went home. Team member two left but our wise woman stayed as her trip home was longer and it was well past midnight. I felt it was time to shower and get cleaned up, with babe in my arms we walked to the bathroom. Things once again got hazy. I felt weak, lightheaded and started to fade out. I woke up on the floor. My mom was holding my head and my friend was holding my babe. I was confused and had a bump on my head. I spent some time resting on the floor. I was given time to recover and took a quick nap where I lay. Slowly but surely we made it to the recovery bed. Big and soft with clean sheets. Babe and I went to sleep. The next morning started early with tea on the stove and left overs being eaten. Around noon my friends returned to me and we talked about how amazing our birth was. How strong I was, to have done it on my own, undisturbed, unattended. I was filled in on the details of my haze. Even though it didn’t feel so long to me, I was told I didn’t pass my placenta for two hours, that there was a lot of blood, that I was pale, that my heart raced. Yet my friends stayed calm through it all. Stayed hands off as I wished, respected my decisions even though they wanted to do otherwise. I was quietly prayed over. I was told my silly mother missed little Zoey hitting the bed. She thought we were in for a long night and left to go buy cigarettes continueing a tradition. Her mother, expecting labor to be longer than it was, left and missed my birth. But through it all I survived. My body knew what to do, even when faced with the unexpected.

Zoey Jean- The recovery
Once again I give credit to Indie Birth for introducing the 5/5/5 recovery plan to me. I spent the next five days in bed, naked with my babe. Five days after that I was still naked in bed but starting to be more upright and five days after that I started putzing in the kitchen when I wasn’t naked with my babe in bed. My body needed to heal. To start shifting back to pre baby positions. I had a tear that needed to heal. I had blood to make and color to regain. I was lucky to have my mom stay with me and care for me, to support my 5/5/5 plan. It took a long time to regain my color and strength but it came back, it taught me patience. St. Patrick’s Day was the first day Zoey and I put clothes on and ventured to the outside world. We went to a community brunch and everyone came to see our little one. We were once again met with so much unconditional love and support. Four days later I invited my village to come to my home, many from out of town, many of whom I reached out to when I first got the news of a baby. Women I have known since I was a small child came. Lifelong friends brought their children. I was surrounded by all these wise women, and a few men, who were there to continue being part of our story. This spiritual refill was just as important as my physical recovery.

Zoey Jean-what’s next
Slowly but surely I have started to feel like myself. But not my old self, a new self, a mother self. And now I am someone excited about birth. Excited to empower other women. To find my place amongst the wise women of the world. I am not sure where that place is and what my role can be. Living in the middle of nowhere in an older rural community once again limits my path. So the best thing I can do is share my experience. To honor myself. To honor my babe. To honor our birth story and our strength. To honor all the women who carried me through this journey. I own this birth story and wouldn’t have it any other way.

All photo credits go to Jade Beall

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  1. Steve Blair says:

    I was fortunate to be taken to an Indie Birth seminar in Sedona by my daughter ‘Pineapple along with Zoe Jean. Hey I’m an old hippie and know all about… Oh all that schtuff. These people are real… real beautiful.
    Thanks for all the wisdom, shared, given… and now Zoe Jean.
    Jade Beall, the pictures are absolutely AWSOME!
    Steve Blair
    G-Daddy to ZOE Jean

  2. Amy says:

    Beautiful story!

  3. Kymbre says:

    I am expecting my first baby, knew from day 1 I wanted to have a home birth, but have since been anxious about the pain, about who will be there, and frankly scared to death by this natural, beautiful process. Your story and strength inspired me greatly. Thank you deeply for sharing. Many blessings to you and your little one.

  4. Yolande says:

    Gah! What a gorgeous story, and that last photo…sublime. Thank you 🙂

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We are mamas and midwives who decided to do birth differently– and bring others along with us. We are radical, fun to work with, and great at (lovingly) calling people on their bullshit to help move us all towards a new more beautiful world. With 12 children and over two decades of midwifery between us, we’ve learned a thing or two along the way, and Indie Birth is our space to share it all with you.

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