The Birth of Cali

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story ~ I’m honored I was there to document it!

“I was 40 weeks pregnant, and Oakley was in a full body cast from breaking his femur. I was somewhat antsy that this baby hadn’t already made her arrival (since Oakley was 10 days early), but at the same time, I was extremely grateful that we were nearing the end of Oakley’s time in his cast. It was hard. I couldn’t take care of my first baby the way I wanted to.  It was hard to pick him up from the floor, play with him, rock him to sleep or put him on my lap with his rigid, casted body and my large, protruding abdomen. I had been having nighttime cramps off and on for about 3 weeks and decided to try acupuncture (after my sister and husband You-Tubed pressure points and hilariously tried to induce my labor a couple days before). Surprisingly, I went into labor that night. It was around 1 am and I felt a painful cramp that grew in intensity, then faded and had an obvious start & end. I kept sleeping and after the 3rd one, I decided to get up and start timing them. They were still far apart and highly variable: about 8-15 minutes apart but definitely painful and lasting about a minute long. I decided to wake Dave up.  I jokingly told him that I heard a noise in the house, and I needed him to check it out (he hates when I do that.) He compliantly started getting up, and I told him I was joking and that I was having contractions.  He proceeded to say, “That is the worst way to wake someone up.” haha! After about 2 more contractions, my water broke.  It wasn’t a “gush” like my first labor but more of a trickle. I called my doula, Danae Bunso, and asked for advice- given that my parents still needed to come over to watch Oakley, I had a super quick 1st labor, AND I was GBS positive and needed time to receive antibiotics at the hospital. She told me to go ahead and call my parents and that we could start heading to the hospital and labor there. By the time my mom came to my house with my grandma, it was 3:30 am, and I was beginning to get anxious as my contractions were getting closer and stronger. We made the 30-minute drive from Jax beach to Baptist Downtown, and by the time we got to the hospital I was already 7cm dilated.

Downtown Jacksonville Baptist Birthing suite

Danae met us at the hospital along with my birth photographer, Melissa. My OB, Dr. Glas was also there upon our arrival.  After hep-lock placement, intermittent monitoring & administration of antibiotics,  I was free to walk around and continue the laboring process.  My husband immediately jumped into action by applying hip counter-pressure with every contraction.  Danae was right beside him with back massagers, warm lavender rice packs, continuous affirmations, and constant variations in labor positions. We played Postal Service radio on Pandora the entire time (my favorite band from way back in my college days.) After another cervical check, I was 9 cm dilated and was told by Dr. Glas to let her know when I was started feeling pressure. I kept laboring; the contractions were now back-to-back.  I sat on the toilet backwards to help facilitate downward movement of baby.

natural hospital birth laboring on toilet with doula danae bunsoduring contraction dad applying pressure

Around 7:20 am, I started to feel that pressure and began feeling the need to push. I was fearful about pushing on my back as I had broken my tailbone during my first labor.  So we adjusted the bed, and Dr. Glas recommended that I squat and lean onto Dave.  It only took about 2 pushes and I was really feeling that “ring-of-fire!” 

baptist hospital downtown pushing during contractions

At that time, the staff quickly put a gown and gloves on Dave- as it had been his desire to “catch” the baby.  At that point, I laid back on the bed, pulled my legs up, and pushed.  During this push, the rest of my water proceeded to break in a very pressurized fashion- spewing amniotic fluid all over Dave (before his gown was completely on.)  It was comical. The baby’s head started to emerge and Dave began guiding the baby out with the help of Dr. Glas. One last push and Dave had baby Cali in his arms and handed her to me.

at baptist Dr. Erika Glas assists dad with catching baby during deliveryafter birth relief as baby is in moms armsbaby girl is welcomed by mother and father

It was amazing. She was a chunky little thing. 8 pounds 3 ounces and 21 inches long. I was also able to take a good look at the umbilical cord and placenta, as she had a marginal cord attachment. I had a second-degree tear that needed repairing and more bleeding that required IV Pitocin. The contractions from the Pitocin were so painful and I kept thinking, “I’ve just delivered my baby without any pain medications, I don’t want any more contractions!” lol. I may have actually verbalized this.  I know I was, at least, verbally begging to stop the Pitocin. After everything had been cleaned up, I started to breastfeed my baby, and she latched on beautifully.

at baptist hospital delayed cord clampingbaby breastfeeding the first latch

I took pictures with my amazing birth team, and my sister and grandma then came in from the waiting room to meet her. My best friend, Megan came to the hospital next and was there when we switched from the labor room to the regular room.  

Doula danae bunso Dr. Erika Glas OB and new parentsafter baby is born greeting family in waiting roomafter the birth of their baby girl breastfeedingbaptist downtown jacksonville family holds baby after being bornin hospital suite family visits after the birthan hour after being born daddy and daughter

Lastly, my parents came with my sweet baby boy who was holding a rose in each hand: one for me and one for baby Cali.  That was such a sweet moment. My closest family was all there with the exception of my brother who ended up buying a last-minute plane ticket and flying down a few days later. 

baptist florida family visits mother and babybirth photography captures family visiting new baby after birth

It was another amazing and extraordinary birth experience in our books. We left the hospital after 2 days feeling completely nostalgic. The staff at Baptist Downtown was absolutely incredible. Danae worked her doula magic the whole time and made it such a relaxing and positive experience for us. And I can’t say enough about Dr. Glas: she is the reason we have had both babies at Baptist Downtown (we beach people rarely venture “over the ditch” lol). She was so supportive of our birth plans (for both babies) and is honestly just a sweet, joyful person to be around. Her bedside manner is second to none. And, naturally, I have to verbalize my appreciation for my amazing, supportive husband: who not only took 2 birthing classes with me (one for each pregnancy), but knew what to do/expect for each stage of labor, stayed by my side and labored with me, massaged my back, squeezed my hips, let me lean on him and then jumped into action to help deliver and “catch” our sweet baby girl. I love you, Dave. I couldn’t have done this without you. I have loved watching you love our babies from the moment their hearts started beating by caring for me through each pregnancy and then being so supportive and ecstatic about helping bring our babies earthside.”


You can view Cali’s full birth story below!  Be sure to watch in HD and with the volume up!

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If you are interested in having your story captured, I would love to chat!

If you would like more info on Danae’s doula magic 😉 , you can find it here.  She also teaches amazing Childbirth Education classes!

Hi I'm Melissa!

I'm an introverted, T-shirt wearing, animal loving, nature admiring, lucky wife, mother of 3, photography and birth obsessed lady.