Today’s post is very special! Amy has had three Alma babies and has generously offered to share her stories and photos with us.
My name is Amy Scott-Olson and I have had all three of my babies with Alma. The first two were birth center births and the third was a home birth. I remember when I first met Laura Erickson, owner and founder of Alma. Everything she said in that first meeting I agreed with wholeheartedly. I knew from the start her wisdom, intuition, and presence would be such an asset to my birthing process. I wanted to find women I could trust and rely upon. Every team I have had at Alma has given me and my family fantastic loving care. What I have received with every birth at Alma I would call “Whole Care”. Laura would check in with me emotionally, physically, and spiritually for balanced well-being. She would also check in with my husband, Ryder, and my other children to see how they were feeling. From a gentle back massage to packets of take home nausea tea, her natural healing advice and compassion flows freely through Alma birthing center.
Dakota Stiles came as a surprise 10 days early on a cold February night. We were in the middle of a massive remodel and my husband had just finished working for the day. We were cuddled together nose to nose and belly to belly when we heard and felt a loud “POP!” I jumped up and ran to the bathroom to observe grey water pouring out of me. We looked at each other with excitement. This must be it! My contractions began immediately right then at 5:30 pm lasting about 40 seconds, 5 minutes apart. By the time he had showered and shaved the intensity began to increase. I realized my bag was not packed and with the car seat still new in the box, we quickly worked together to pack the bag and get out the door. We called Laura around 7:30 pm and by then my contractions were lasting over a minute, 3 minutes apart. We arrived at Alma around 8 pm and I had three contractions from curbside to the Lilly room. Laura checked me and I was dilated to an 8, so it was time to get the tub filled. I labored in the water for about an hour and a half. My apprentice midwife gave me electrolytes through a straw and would pour warm water down my back. I had the nurse midwife checking the baby every 20 minutes and pushing on my sacrum through contractions. Ryder was on the third side of the tub, holding my hand and locking eyes through the waves of intensity. It was time to get out of the water and try to empty my bladder. Little did I know, rising out of the water and into gravity allowed the baby to traction right in to the birth canal. I was focusing so hard on trying to pee I didn’t realize the baby had crowned. That was not the water birth we planned; on the toilet. With a midwife on each side, holding baby’s crown I was able to make it back to my birth waters. On the next contraction Dakota’s little head came out, then his shoulders, and finally his little body. The nurse midwife caught him like a football and brought him through my legs up to my chest. We didn’t know if he was a boy or girl and for the first 30 seconds, it was just a baby. At 10:20pm we had a perfect beautiful little baby boy. We stayed connected for a good 20 minutes and carefully transferred to the bed. I loved the water birth because we arose from the waters clean, refreshed, and attached. I had excellent care through the night. The woman who was there would check on us every 20-30 minutes; hold the baby so I could use the restroom, bring in cold sliced fruit and warm medicinal tea. In the morning we had breakfast in bed from Zells. Later that afternoon I felt very stable and we were able to head home.
XANDER’S STORY- 2011
After such a great experience, I knew I would have my second baby at Alma. The yoga space had been beautifully converted to the Fern room, becoming my first choice. Xander was a special baby because he was first presenting breech. Laura is trained in Mayan abdominal massage and at 34 weeks, she was able to turn him in my belly. It was a wild feeling but not painful at all. He stayed in the head down position and I was able to birth him naturally. Xander Thomas was a few days late. I felt his labor come on slowly around 3 am. I wandered the house timing contractions until they were about a minute, 3-4 minutes apart. I woke up Ryder around 5:30 am and we met Laura at Alma around 6:30 am. We filled the tub, but I was only dilated to a 6. We worked through the contractions together as light began to fill the room. Ryder was in the tub with me, coffee in hand, while the midwives cooked him a plate full of breakfast. The intensity picked up a little after 10 am and at 11 am, my waters broke in the water. I had to work a little harder, a whole hour more for Xander. The midwives could tell he was stuck and had me get up out of the water in between contractions and do big wide hip circles and envision him “swirling down the drain”. The next contraction he was in the right spot. Once he crowned, it went the same as Dakota. One contraction for the head, a second for the shoulders, and out! This time daddy caught him. At 12:06 pm, we had welcomed our second son. We received excellent care all day. With no rips or tears we left Alma for home that very evening around 8 pm.
When it was time to try for our girl, our insurance had changed and Alma was out of network. I thought I could put on my big girl pants and have a baby at OHSU. I had a visit with Laura and I had a visit with the assigned midwife up on the hill. I quickly realized that I knew better and the only way I know how to birth is naturally with Alma. After two very successful and quick births at the birthing center, we decided to have our third baby at home. Good thing, because Zannara Avalene, our warrior princess came to us in just 3 short hours. She was five days late and I had been having false labor every night for over a week. I struggled with to call or not to call. Joni assured me the baby would come and to look for intensity and call when I had “turned the corner”. As it turns out the baby was waiting for the full moon on the 13th of December. I woke up at 4:30 am, refreshed and excited. I lit my candles right away and started filling my bath. I counted contractions and by 6:30 am they were lasting about 45 seconds, 3-4 minutes apart. I called Laura, put on my music, and sunk into the waters in my master bath. Around 7:30 am Laura, my team, and my family were all there ready to help. My boys held my hands and we put our foreheads together during early active labor. We allowed my oldest to stay home from school. He wanted very badly to be there and help. Laura assured me this was a family affair and it was important to have his love and participation. Dakota was running around the house collecting my power phrases and sticking them up on the bath walls around me. My husband was cooking water in our crab pots outside on giant propane burners, the women took turns pushing my sacrum through the heightened pain. Around 8 am, Ryder got into the tub with me. We wrapped our legs together facing each other and got to work allowing my body to use the powerful contraction to open. At 9 am, Laura checked me and I was dilated to an 8 with bulging waters. Knowing I only had 20% to go I embraced every contraction until I first felt the need to push. That was when my waters exploded. The very next contraction my daughter entered the birth canal. That’s when it got primal. I was side-ly, my husband holding my top leg up. I felt her descending with every contraction. I worked with my breath, did not force any movement in between contractions. In fact I could feel some sort of euphoric release of serotonin in between contractions. Then on the next contraction her little head was out, following with her shoulders, and then the sweet release of her body from my body in to the warm waters. She is beautiful, we are home, it’s a family affair, and it is 9:37 am. We stayed in the water for about 10 minutes and moved to the bed still attached. My oldest, Dakota, cut his sister’s cord once it was done pulsing. My placenta was not releasing so Laura took me through a guided visualization and gave me a tincture under the tongue. Within 5 minutes the placenta released and came out beautiful and whole. We all had salmon and spinach omelets to celebrate! It felt so amazing to be home. Everyone was able to have a job, a way to be a part of the birth of Zannara.
I really enjoyed having my first two babies at Alma birthing center. The birth center was clean, safe, and very grounding. By the time our third baby came along, our remodel was complete. Our friends and family helped me clean and prepare our home for birth. I know that third babies can come very quickly and it just made sense to be home. Birth is hard work and it hurts, but we can do it. That’s the bottom line. I discovered once I became grounded and welcomed the waves of labor to open and expand my body, the baby descended and transitioned from the warm waters right into my loving arms. The water babies are so calm and comfortable. I know to trust my instincts to be present in labor. I was able to cope with the intensity of pain in any way that I needed to because my birth team supported me. The Alma experience has been so special for our family because it is genuinely empowering and intimately compassionate. Alma is whole family care.