Birth Stories From Around The World

Belize Birth Stories

Mila's Birth Story

A year ago I would not have seen me pregnant, living in Belize and ready to give birth naturally! Last year I was dating a man I cared deeply for, working at a fun restaurant, having fun with friends and planning my 30th birthday to go to Brazil for the World Cup. In November of 2014. Then I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend Keith and I, even though we never talked about it till then, were quite excited for this new found News! It was a magical day with the light crunch of snow upon each step as we walked home to find out what this test was going to show. The snow was falling outside our window as it would in a Christmas movie, as we nervously and excitedly sat on the couch looking at this white stick as if it were a magic 8 ball telling us our future. I am pregnant. But of course you have to take one more test to make sure. Yup, definitely pregnant. Deep in my soul I knew and was so excited! I went around smiling and giddy thinking in my head as I went to work, “I have a secret I have a secret.” I wanted to tell everyone! However, my boyfriend would be leaving for a three- month job overseas. It was a difficult time for me. I began to doubt, worry and fear. I felt very alone and isolated and wondered if I should have the baby at all. By the Grace of God Keith got sent home early. We were able to work on our relationship and face the next 9 months together!

We both wanted this pregnancy to be fun and adventurous. One day we must have talked about having the baby in another country. I got excited to do this pregnancy out of the norm of how everyone else does it in America. Keith happened to mention Belize. We have both traveled a lot and it was a country neither one of us have been to. Next thing we found out was Keith had a friend that has been there a lot who actually had a kid there with his wife a year ago. She used a midwife. We thought we would give it a try and see how comfortable we were with the idea. We flew to Belize for a 2 week trip and to meet this midwife from Texas named Gail. After a long day of traveling by plane to Cancun, to then rent a car and drive 5 hours to Belize, we finally made it to Gail’s house. We were greeted with two smiling faces with such a lovely home. We chatted, ate dinner and I could tell this woman knew her stuff. Right away she said “OK, let’s hear that baby’s heartbeat.” I loved her passion for babies and that she actually enjoys what she does! This was a whole new world to me…… Midwifery. I was never the typical girl dreaming of marriage, kids and a house. I wanted to travel the world, experience life and help people where I could! When I thought of having kids it was to adopt and or help build an orphanage to love on children. Now being pregnant I guess you need to start thinking of how this stuff works! I happened to just stumble on having a midwife. I was not going to make any final decisions until exploring Belize and seeing how peaceful I felt with living there and having a child there. After our two weeks were up we met with Gail before leaving the country and everything felt peaceful in my soul to go this route. She was so sweet yet confident in her work! She was a spitfire of a woman that made me giggle and smile!

I don’t think I realized what a blessing of having a midwife was till the end of my stay in upstate NY. Before going to Belize I was being regularly checked by a hospital in Rochester, NY. They were all sweet, nice and helpful! At the beginning of starting my monthly checkups they wanted me to take certain tests that I saw no point in for myself. I do know some mothers who are more at ease knowing if their kid may have down syndrome before they give birth but it did not worry me at all. I said no to a couple of other tests they wanted me to do. Each week I was hounded that I need to do it, it’s important, or my baby will be jabbed with a ton of needles when it is born. Each week got more and more stressful as I would say no to certain tests. I would take ones that they needed and every visit I was in there I weighed properly for my height, my belly was measuring well, my blood pressure was always perfect and the baby’s heartbeat was always where it needed to be. As I got closer month by month to my due date, these women with such smiley faces began to put so much fear, doubt and anxiety in to my mind and heart. I would leave the clinic each week in tears. All along… I was still measuring, weighing, blood pressure and baby’s heart beat was always fine! All my ultra sounds indicated that the baby was great and all her/his little limbs measured perfectly. Why with something so beautiful of having a cute baby of life enter this world did it seem I was dying with cancer? That made me so sad for someone who was actually dying with cancer sitting in a hospital. If these people could find every doubt, fear and made up bad thing with me then what could they be saying to someone who was actually sick? Coming to Belize and having a midwife was the BEST decision I made through this whole process! A place where I could rest, relax and let nature take its course; to let my body naturally do what it needed during labor, whether it was to sit, squat, to walk or to lie in a pool, seemed to be quite freeing to me. And to do it with a woman whose face lights up every time she sees a baby. She always needs to hold it, squish it and congratulate the proud parents of such a cute face. This is the lady who will be delivering my baby. A woman so proud, confident and excited to be doing so. (Well, she has done this many times but I am going to say she is excited to have one more baby to add to her many midwife kids! Hahaha) in her work! Again, she was a spitfire of a woman that made me giggle and smile!

Here we are now living in Belize for two months. Now it is a waiting game. Every morning you wake up and think “is today the day?” then you go on about your day and put it out of your mind as much as you can. However, every little cramp or twinge of pain that you feel, there would be a moment of excitement but then let down once you realized it was just gas. Until that moment, when you feel crampy and your back starts to hurt. Not to mention how many times you have already rushed to the bathroom. I kept telling myself “oh it’s just gas pains, or Braxton hix”. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Until these pains were continuing and not going away. Eventually I decided to tell Keith, “I think I am in labor”. We turned off the TV and began to pump up the pool. This all started at 10 pm at night so we called Gail just to let her know what was going on. She said to try and sleep, if I could, which I tried but that was not going to happen. I attempted to watch 2 movies, but continually got up with each pain to walk around and sing to get my mind off of it. By early morning the pain was just too much and I spent most of the time on the birthing ball clenching Keith’s arm. I would once and awhile get up to move things along faster, but of course it was more painful. The more I stood up the faster my body progressed. My mucus plug came out and soon after that my water broke. I thought ok, time to move to the pool. Which Gail and her helper Rose already had filled with warm water to soothe my aching body. That is when it got painful and the pushing was soon to follow. All of a sudden these groans from inside my body began to come with each contraction. Gail said “Wow, it sounds like she is pushing.” In no time that head was coming out, with the body to follow and then there was that moment where all pain stopped and I was holding the most precious baby that I carried for 9 months. It seemed too surreal. This was a dream. But it wasn’t…. I did it! I made it! I got through it all! To now have the final prize of such a precious Miracle. That is why we named her Mila. It means miracle in Swedish. What I learned about labor is it is a lot like running. You have to pace yourself. Picture many hours of hard work and focus each moment on your breathing. To not push yourself too hard too fast, or you will get burnt out. To take your time and push yourself when you know it is needed. AND have the best partner! Keith never left my side. I clenched his hand the whole time, he rubbed my back and spoke the kindest words over me. I thank God every moment for such an amazing man. Gail with her great skills of knowing what to do when and just letting my body do what it needed to. Rose was a great helper of rubbing my back, bringing me cool cloths and taking wonderful photos. It was a whirlwind of a day but one I will never forget.

Here we are now, resting, relaxing and a lot of time to get to know this new precious face Mila. She is beautiful. Breastfeeding has been a challenge but I continue to be patient and remain calm. I think those will be two qualities that I will always be working on. I am so happy and thankful for such a smooth journey. My pregnancy went well, I got through labor with no complications and now we have the rest of our lives to grow together as a family.

Ester and Casey's Birth Story

This is the story of my fourth child’s arrival in Belize.

My husband and I, with our 3 small children ages 1, 3 and 5 moved to Belize in October 2007. I wanted to have my last child soon and so by Christmas we were pregnant and planning the birth of my fourth. I was born in Indosnesia and so I was excited about the opportunity to have a child overseas like my Mom did with me, but I soon began to realize that this was going to be harder than I was hoping.

Being my fourth child I knew what I wanted in a birth and so finding that proved to be quite a challenge. First of all I was looking for a midwife, that would do a underwater birth on an island. This was not a common request and finding a midwife was very difficult. Finally I did find a midwife who said she would do an underwater birth for me at my house, if approved by a local Doctor and if the Doctor did all my monthly care. Seeing as this was my only option I agreed.

My pregnancy went by fine and I had all of my appointments with the Doctor, but I still had not met my midwife in person and by 7 and 1/2 months I was beginning to get a bit antsy. We had just moved up island, out of town and I was wanting to get settled and get a game plan for the birth. So I contacted the midwife and arranged for a time to meet, which finally happened a couple weeks later. At the meeting I was discourged from the start when right off the bat she told me that she would not do my birth at my house up island unless the Doctor was in attendence. The problem was that the Doctor would not be able to attend my birth unless it was at night. Well, who can guarrentee a night birth? So that was that. Here I was 8 months pregnant on an island with no midwife, things were not looking good and I began to resign myself to having to deliver at the clinic with the Doctor, which I really did not want to do, especially with my last child. I knew what I wanted and here at the last moments it looked like my dreams were going to be crushed.

There was only one small flicker of hope left and that was the name of another midwife who lived on the mainland that might come and do my birth with me. I was so discouraged that it took me a little while to call her, thinking that there was not much hope of it working out. But time was of the essence so I finally I did and was I in for a surprise!

I spoke with Gail and when I explained my situation to her she was more than willing to seriously consider me. I felt instantly connected with her as we both seemed to have the same philosophies in childbirth and she was very willing to work with my situation. So shortly after I hopped on a plane and went to visit her in person and make arrangements. Our visit went very well and as I had felt before we were on the same page and she had no qualms about delivering my baby up north on the island. She had delivered many babies in the rural country before and was very well aware of I was asking. One of the risks of having a baby up north was that I was 3 miles from a small town where I could get an emergency c-section but it was not recommended, and so the other option was to boat or fly over to the mainland to get hospital emergency care. I was prepared to take this risk, seeing as all my other children were born naturally, with no medications for pain and no complications. As well as the pregnancy had gone well and the Doctor was not concerned in the least of any preconditions that would need hospital care.

So after discussing all the details, Gail was on board and would come over to the island to hang out and wait for baby a little ahead of my due date and then stay as long as I needed care. I was so overwhelmed with the situation and relieved that I was actually going to have an underwater birth at my own house! I was very excited and thankful that I had found Gail and that she was so willing to work with me and try to give me the birth that I was looking for, as much as she could control anyway.

About ten days before my due date we had a category 5, hurricane scare and had to evacuate to the mainland. Gail immediately made preparations to have us near her during this time, just in case baby came a bit early. Thankfully, baby waited and we were able to head back to the island before his arrival. During the days of waiting for labour to begin, Gail and her friend (a nurse), hung out in town and made several trips to visit me and monitor my progress. This was a great relief to me, knowing that she was near and available anytime I went into labour.

September 12, at about 4pm, my water began to trickle, and I began to get an achy back and abdomen. But nothing serious, so Gail came up island on the next ferry and arrived about 5:30 pm. She checked my progress and I was only 2 cm, so she broke the bag of waters, at my request, about 6 pm. Then to encourage my labour I went for a long walk on the beach where we live. It was beautiful in the night, with the stars lighting up the sky and the gentle ocean breeze blowing. I even saw electric jellyfish of some kind glowing in the water off one of the docks, it was pretty cool!

Then I went inside and began to breathe through some of the contractions, while we all watched the movie, Planet Earth. My husband had put my three older children to bed earlier so the house was quiet and I was ready to have this baby. But at 10 pm, Gail checked me again and I was only 3cm, it was kind of discouraging for me, 4 hours and only 1 cm more. At that point Gail suggested that we all get some rest while we could, so I attempted to lay down and rest but I wasn’t able to rest. So I got up and went with Gail into our hot tub to try to relax and work through my labour there. It was gorgeous being under the stars, I even saw three falling stars! Gail and I had a nice chat between contractions and I was able to really relax with them and allow my body to work. After about an hour and a half, I began to feel pressure and a lot more pain, so we got out and went upstairs to the shower where my husband assisted me through the contractions.

Gail set up and things were moving fast. She checked me and I was 8 cm. and really working hard! Then not long after I began to want to push and so because I wanted a water birth, we rushed down to the bath tub. Everything was ready for me and so into the tub I went, I was fully dilated now and ready to push. My 5 year old heard the commotion and met me on my way to the tub, so I told her that she could come and watch if she wanted to. She was curious and so she stayed and was able to see her brother born! I pushed for about 10 minutes and Gail coached me through it very well. My husband wanted to catch his son so he waited and was able to see and catch our second son as he came out, of course, he was under Gail’s watchful eye. The cord was loosely wrapped around the baby’s neck, so when his body came out Gail assisted him through the cord and everything was good! They placed him on my chest and we waited for him to take his first breathe.

He was perfect! We got my other two children up and they all got to see him on my chest newly born! I put him to my breast and he nursed right away. Then after the cord had finished pulsating my husband cut it and they took baby away to hold and I delivered the placenta and got out. I was relieved and so happy that it was over and had gone so well. Gail was great through the delivery and I felt very supported and in very good hands! Gail had also brought an assistant, with her who is a nurse and she was an excellent support to Gail as well as me during the whole birth.

I had a wonderful birth just like I had desired to have and I am thankful that Gail was there for me in a very supportive way through the whole thing. She was able to accommodate my desires and was willing to work with me, that is very hard to find anywhere in the world! So, thank-you Gail, for your support and accompanying me through an amazing child birth experience! September 2007 – San Pedro, Belize, Central America

Japan Birth Stories

Xana's Birth Story

Even now I still find the stories of my first two children’s birth sometimes difficult to revisit. The anger and the fear are still there.

For me pregnancy was, like most women, my first sustained contact with the medical system. It wasn’t the one I grew up in though and it still very much is the one I am barely literate in. I was unprepared and outwitted by people who relied on my passivity and ignorance. I knew I wanted a homebirth or something as close as possible to one – for all my births. At the time of my first pregnancy, the only working midwife in the city asked me in all seriousness “Who would do the laundry?” when I broached the subject. So a natural birth, at the midwive’s house was planned.

Unfortunately, my son was a stubborn breech from 32 weeks on which meant an automatic C-section at 38 weeks. No matter how many times I asked no one would respond or knew anyone who could deliver a breech vaginally. So I sobbed all the way to the operating room. Before the operation, I did insist on two things: first a horizontal incision (vertical is still the norm here) and second a VBAC for the next birth. I was assured of both.

Things rocked along, until, of course, my second pregnancy 19 months later. I was promtly asked to schedule my C-section at my 11 week appointment and as soon as I said the word VBAC, I was asked to leave that practice. If I didn’t follow the rule of “once a section always a section,” I could not be their patient. So on to the hospital where I originallly had my first baby. I would need a referral from them to the larger university hospital even to have a chance of a VBAC.

I waited two hours with my son and husband at the hospital clinic, only to be told that the clinic wasn’t open that day. I was assured if I came back the next day, though, they would get me right in. So, I went back and waited two more hours. Finally I went to the front desk to ask when I was going to see a doctor and I was told “maybe another hour”. I left and never looked back. After seeing two more doctors and receiving two more refusals, I was now too far along not to have already gotten the proper care, and, of course,I was insistent on a VBAC. And so I was stuck.

What really were my options? Another section? An unassisted birth? Neither worked for my family and I. So I went to the Internet and wondered out loud about a traveling midwife. Could such a thing exist? Was that possible? And then I found Gail. Gail who had delivered breech babies, who had already been to Asia once before for a birth and who was, oddly enough, from my hometown. Things finally seemed to be falling into place. We moved to a new house, got a new car, and my goal of a home birth was now in sight.

When Gail arrived my relief was palpable. But relief turned to stress as baby was neither moving down nor making any moves to come out at all. Forty weeks passed; 41 weeks; 42 weeks – finally slight contractions began, only to fizzle out 11 hours later with very little progress made. So we made the joint decision to transfer to the hospital and an ambulance was called. (I was told they would not take me as a patient unless I showed up in an ambulance.) This C-section went well, but of course no one was allowed in the operating room. After the C-section, a brief look was all I was allowed before my baby girl was whisked away to be examined and isolated. My husband was not allowed to hold her in the first few hours.

After I came out of surgery they brought my daughter to me and I began to breastfeed – just as the nurse explained to me I couldn’t breastfeed her for the first 24 hours. Tthis is where the additional hassle all began. I said my daughter would be breastfed, only to be told hours later she was hypoglycemic and would probably seize and potentially die unless she had formula. Then 24 hours after the birth I was informed she probably had a life threatening infection and I needed to surrender her to the NICU. She stayed there, my 3,990g, (8 lb 8 oz), 42-week, healthy girl, for six days on continuous IV antibiotics. Her heels were like pin cushions. I was allowed to come into the NICU to breastfeed her, but was not always welcome when staff meetings were going on or if I wasn’t first summoned. When I questioned the doctors about their diagnosis, I was promptly told “YOU came to US for help and you had no proper prenatal care!”

After six days the doctors decided they would allow me to take my daughter home since her blood cultures all came back negative for any infection. In other words she was never sick or in any danger of being ill, but they still had to conference among them selves before they could agree to let me take her home. So this then had been my punishment. To have her taken away from me and then to not know when she would be returned. After that experience I knew I would never go to them voluntarily for help again.

June 2011, Mizukawa, Japan – Attempted VBAC Birth.

Felix's Birth

My third pregnancy came as a surprise. But this time I was more determined and ready to do whatever it took to avoid doctors and hospitals at all costs. So I did daily sessions of hypnosis and asked Gail back. Even though my disappointment and heartbreak over my daughters birth was immense, Gail left still believing in my body’s ability to birth. So much so that she was again willing to travel halfway around the world again. We came up with the ‘smile and nod’ plan to ensure I had a record of proper by the book prenatal care. And that is what I did. I smiled when they said “of course you will have a C-section for this baby.” I smiled and nodded when they claimed I probably had measles and should consider aborting my 20 week old fetus. (Surprise. A second blood test confirmed…it was probably just a cold.). Finally at 32 weeks I had smiled and nodded enough. I continued with my own prenatal care at home until Gail arrived at 40 weeks. We spent the week catching up, sightseeing and taking walks.

Finally I woke up one morning at 41 weeks 5 days with a funny feeling that “today was the day.” I had some cramping in the morning, but nothing serious so the five of us set out to visit a winery. I had cramping and a few very looong contractions, but since I didn’t notice a specific pattern I didn’t let myself believe that this might be it. Back home around 5 pm, we started getting ready for supper. I was cutting vegetables and making rice when things starts picking up. Every 5 minutes during dinner I would get up and walk back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom. I lay down and knew I wasn’t going back to the kitchen; then I felt my waters pop. All of a sudden it was a bit of chaos; Gail was getting the birthing space ready and my husband was rushing to get the kids out the door to his mother’s. But things became intense very quickly and my dilation went from a 6 to a 10 cm in just over an hour so my husband rushed back with kids in tow and the birth became very much a family affair. The kids were amazing, though a bit unsure about the birth. My son was a bit scared by the blood and asked Gail at one point how she “cut that hole” in me.

The rest of the birth did not go quite as quickly as expected. After two more hours of pushing my baby crowned at 9:43 pm and was born two minutes later at 9:45. We had a beautiful screaming 4600g (10 lb 2 oz) baby boy. I finally knew what it felt like to hold my newborn baby. Within 20 minutes of the birth my daughter brought out a book to read to baby Felix and I was euphoric. I could not come down off the high and spent the whole night just staring at this new little person. I finally did it. I finally got the birth I always wanted and knew I was capable of. That, however l, wasn’t exactly the end of it.

Homebirth is legal in Japan but it is always done under the supervision of a doctor and a larger hospital. Midwives cannot do any thing vaguely medical and can only assist a ‘normal labour’. It also had not been done in our area for a very long time. So when it came to register our son for his birth certificate there were more hoops and more nodding and smiling. They wanted pictures of the birth to prove that we hadn’t stolen the baby. They came to our home to interview and inspect. They asked Gail, my very experienced midwife, intelligent and thoughtful questions such as:

“How did you know that the baby was a boy or a girl?”

“How did you know what time the baby was born at?”

All answers were duly recorded and our son was registered just before the 14-day limit was set to expire.

After the birth I had time to reflect and compare my experiences. Natural childbirth was just as scary and, in some ways, as painful as a section. But after the C-sections there was such an emotional void. With the spinal I was unable to get up out of bed, to hold my babies or really look at them for the first 24 hours of their lives. It was a haze of drugs and the effort of trying to be the ‘good patient.’ In contrast, there was such a triumph to the birth of Felix; of welcoming of him into our family, both physically and emotionally. I felt everyone’s love and support constantly and never once was afraid someone wouldn’t listen to me, someone would take my baby away, someone wouldn’t allow me to breastfeed him. It was what I had always wanted.

And now we are expecting our fourth baby, working towards another peaceful home birth with Gail, waiting and ready to catch her.

September, 2013, Miyazaki, Japan – VBAC Birth

Nicaragua Birth Stories

Ezra's Birth Story

I was four months pregnant when we moved to Leon, Nicaragua. After selling most of our stuff and packing the essentials, my husband, our two year old daughter and I – second-trimester-pregnant – transplanted ourselves into a foreign land. Here we were, experiencing a new culture, language barrier and incredibly hot weather. Everything was new and the adjustment was hard on all of us.

Prior to moving, I had made contact with international midwife Gail Johnson via my director at Childbirth International, where I am studying to be a birth doula. We had had a home water-birth with our daughter in Canada, and it had been such a great experience for us both. If it was possible, we wanted to have another home water-birth with our second baby.

After asking around and doing some general research on birthing in Nicaragua, we quickly discovered that we wouldn’t be able to access a trained midwife in country. When I got in touch with Gail and discovered that she was going to be in Nicaragua the same month I was due I was thrilled! However, we bulked a bit at the financial costs of bringing Gail for the birth. Being Canadians it was hard for us to consider the financial costs in hiring Gail; we didn’t think about the costs involved.

Yet, while we were considering Gail as an option and I was hosting an evening in selling artwork to cover some of our general travel costs, I prayed what I felt to be a silly prayer: “God, if we raise $500 to cover the down-payment Gail needs, then I will take it as a confirmation to hire her.” When a friend of my dad’s handed me a check for exactly $500 that night, not knowing anything about our decision, I said “thank you” not only to my friend’s dad, but for God’s provision.

Gail was scheduled to come the first of August. A week before she came I started having Braxton Hicks. Not only that, but I also felt so ready. We were experiencing record high temperatures and I was miserable. I was taking at least five showers a day (when we had water) and going to bed with wet washcloths. Once Gail arrived I thought “Alright, I can have the baby now!”

My due date wasn’t until August 14 but I didn’t think I could or would last another two weeks. Besides, my first baby had been born on her due date so I expected to have our baby early. When another week rolled by and my mother arrived, I was surprised I had lasted so long but grateful that my mom could be there for the birth. Every night I went to bed thinking “I could have a baby tonight”, yet every morning I woke up discouraged that I hadn’t been woken up by contractions and that I was still indeed very pregnant. It was hard not to feel like I was going to be pregnant forever.

Since Gail is a traveling midwife, her time with us was limited. She was needed for two other births in country. As the due dates of the other women approached, we all felt a little tense, hoping that I would have the baby soon so that Gail could be with the other two women before their due dates. I felt like I was “hogging” Gail, and it didn’t feel fair that I had so much time with her and the other women hadn’t even met her. Gail decided that regardless of me going into labour or not, she would leave at the end of the week so that she could meet and get to know the other women before their babies came.

A few days before Gail’s departure, we decided to try every natural way to induce labour. Yet, after a day of castor oil, breast pumping and yet another stretch and sweep, I felt exhausted. Nothing had induced labour and I was discouraged and disheartened. We called it a day and I began to mentally prepare to say goodbye to Gail. She was going to leave to attend the other women and I was going to stay in Leon, still pregnant. When the time came, we hoped that Gail would be able to make the two and a half hour trip in time to catch the baby, otherwise we would have no choice but to go to the local hospital.

However, in God’s perfect timing our baby was born the night before Gail’s scheduled departure. This is how the day of his birth went: my mom, daughter, Gail and I went out in the morning to shop for fabric. We stopped on the way home to get our nails done. Once we got home we had lunch and took naps. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon and then went out for dinner. After dinner we went out for ice-cream, walked home and then had a baby that same night. All in a day!

It was on the walk to supper that I had begun to have contractions. My ever-so-attentive husband asked how I was feeling and when I told him that I was having contractions ,I told him that I wasn’t expecting to go into labour; I didn’t feel hopeful. I had had contractions off and on for a week already and just wanted to forget about it and enjoy supper. Once my daughter was in bed for the night, my contractions took off. Gail canceled her travel plans for that next morning and we started to prepare for the birth by filling up the birthing pool on the outside patio. As I moaned in the hall, my mom and Gail shared a happy hug in the kitchen as this was the moment we had all been waiting for!

Once the pool was filled I readily climbed in and since we don’t have hot water my mom began her job of boiling water in the kitchen to keep the birthing tub water warm for comfort. Things progress smoothly and by 11:09pm I am fully dilated and getting ready to push. Within eleven minutes, Ezra was “ejected out into the world”, as Gail wrote in her records. How grateful we were to have Gail’s calm presence at the time of Ezra’s birth, as he was born with the cord wrapped around his neck twice and not breathing on his own. As she resuscitated him, she calmly reassured us that he had a heart beat and that we need not worry. She efficiently got Ezra to breath and then placed him in my arms. Oh how wonderful to hold my son for the first time! He was absolutely beautiful.

As we reflect on this experience, we are grateful that we were able to hire Gail and have Ezra in such a calm and loving atmosphere. The birth was gentle and peaceful. Gail gave my husband and I our space, interrupting only to check Ezra’s heartbeat and once to see how far I was dilated. What a unique experience it was to have a skilled midwife come stay in our home and be part of our family for a short time. After I discovered that she was 73 years old and we laughed over the fact that she could indeed be my grandmother, I felt a lot of respect and admiration for Gail. I trusted her abilities, knowing that she had delivered some 1,600 babies and has never lost a mother or baby. Being in a foreign country and not being able to access great maternal healthcare nor a local midwife like I would at home in Canada, I feel blessed that everything worked out so well and that Gail was the one standing in the pool, pant legs rolled up, bent over and hands outstretched to welcome our sweet baby Ezra.

August, 2014, Leon, Nicaragua

Turkey Birth Stories

Sophie and Brendan's Birth Story

A mom’s perspective

Having worked for a lawyers office doing medical negligence cases, where babies had suffered head and brain damage from the use of forceps and suction, I was aware medical intervention had risks, but I didn’t realise how routinely women and babies were exposed to those risks until I did a birth class at a UK hospital. Epidurals were considered routine but when I saw the size of the needle and heard the cascade of events that often result in an emergency C-section or use of forceps or suction after having one, I knew there was no way I would have one. I did not want a birth where I couldn’t push because I was numb from my waist down. I didn’t want my contractions stopped and then such intense ones starting artificially that my baby would get distressed and need a monitor attached to its unborn head. I didn’t want the head deformed or brain damage and I didn’t want my womb cut open threatening further pregnancies and births, so I didn’t want medical intervention.

The problem for me is that I am from a family of large babies. I weighed 5.27kg when I was born naturally using only gas and air. I knew any baby I carried would grow large and, as I was over 37, I was already too high risk to have a waterbirth in a midwife centre in the UK. If I insisted on homebirth while considered high risk I knew attending midwives would get worried and transfer me to hospital midst late stage labour unless I found a midwife who really believed in homebirth. That’s when I found Gail.

Gail agreeing to attend my birth opened up my options on where I gave birth. As she would travel to me, I could go almost anywhere. I imagined a beautiful setting that had mild weather in February and we found Kas, Turkey. We rented a beautiful home by the sea on very low winter rates and drove there with the birthpool and all we needed for a 4 month stay. Friends came to stay to help out and Gail arrived at week 37 as planned. We had to wait until week 42 until baby finally arrived and Gail became anxious about being back for her next scheduled birth but she held on and changed her flights and gave me the opportunity to have wonderful memories of giving birth in water to a healthy son who could be next to me, nursing and bonding from the moment he arrived.

We fell in love with Kas and decided to settle there, buying the birthplace of our first son. I then asked for Gail to attend the birth of my next son due 21 months later however I fell into the grips of Turkish healthcare. My son was breech at week 36 when a NST showed contractions (I could not feel) starting. I was given a steroid injection but within 24 hours I was told my cervix had dilated 1-2cm. My baby was born by cesarean before the steroid had a chance to mature the baby’s lungs. On delivery he couldn’t breathe and had to be rushed to an intensive care unit 3.5hrs away before I was able to move from my bed. It took a week of heartbreak and intense worry before I was able to hold my son. Gail’s telephone support through it was invaluable. I felt that they were too quick to operate and should have given lung maturity more weight when balancing the risks but it was us that paid the cost. Instead of the wonderful memories we had a nightmare we want to forget.

Having had the experience of both types of birth I totally support Gail in her endeavours to enable more women to naturally birth at home. There is no such concept of choosing a midwife attended homebirth in modern Turkey. I strongly believe there should be. Turkish women are being butchered, putting newborns at risk and the only winners are the hospitals who charge the fees to take care of the aftermath.

A dad’s perspective

When Sophie told me she wanted a waterbirth at home for our long awaited first child I was apprehensive. What if something went wrong? Wasn’t a hospital with fully trained doctors safer? I could see that Sophie’s choice was well researched. She was always reading something about childbirth, both conventional books as well as the homebirth activist ones. She watched homebirths on youtube and assured me that the safest births are where the mother feels relaxed whereas medical intervention carries its own risks. I accepted her choice, it is her body after all and I would support whatever she believed was best.

Once Gail arrived in Kas, Turkey we seemed to have the perfect set up. Sophie had organised everything. My mum and our closest friends were with us and Gail was bursting with energy and confidence that my apprehension was soon replaced by excitement. We had fun all living together while we waited for real labour to start. Gail did checks and sweeps and made rasberry leaf tea. When labour eventually did start everything happened so quickly. Sophie’s waters broke while lying in bed, I rushed to get Gail who helped Sophie into the pool and I got in with her. Sophie gripped the hands of her friend, moaning in pain, while Gail prepared her notes, equipment and did checks. As our son’s head emerged Gail was quick to unwrap the cord from his neck and catch his body. Gail then got to work in getting him breathing which took just a few seconds before I could cut the cord. Then I was able to introduce our son to his grandma while Gail dealt with the afterbirth.

Gail stayed a couple of days after the birth to keep an eye on mum and baby. She’d check his temperature and Sophie’s tummy. By the time she left we felt confident parents, still in euphoria from an amazing birth.

What I liked about having Gail was that she was here just for us. It was true one on one care. How else can you get that? When we went to the hospital the Doctors were very impressed by Gail’s detailed birth records. She was highly professional that I had no doubts at all when it came to booking her for our second son’s birth.

Unfortunately our second homebirth was not to be. The Turkish medical profession got the better of us with their scaremongering about a huge baby unable to turn and we accepted that a Cesarean section at 36 weeks was necessary. However, when I witnessed the severe pain Sophie was in afterwards, while having to breast pump and visit NICU every 3 hours day and night, I realised how lucky we’d been with our first son. To say that 10 days in hospital was stressful is a huge understatement, especially seeing our son under bright lights, with beeping monitors, crying babies and tubes up his nose, down his throat, in his chest, out his naval. What a vast contrast to the idyllic first few days of our first son’s life and it seemed like the horror was never going to end.

Thankfully we are now home with our 2 healthy sons but the 10 lb baby the doctors warned we were having was only 8lb. He continued to have difficulty breathing through his nose due to congestion caused by the nose tube and the hole from the tube in his chest made him vulnerable to infection. We are still lucky but we will never forget just how lucky we were to have had Gail first time around.

Thanks Gail. If only there were more like you.

March, 2014, Kas, Turkey – Natural First Birth

Lal's Birth Story

Dear Gail,

I used to think that birth was hard work. Well, it is, but at the same time it’s a process full of joy.

I wanted to give birth at home and I was lucky enough to have it this way. Though I had a long pushing period, I loved every second of it.

I was well past my 40th week, and baby was not around. I knew that waiting for two more weeks were still okay, but if any longer, I would have ended up in a hospital, which I surely didn’t want. So, I was trying to keep myself open to each and every possible option, but from deep down, I found myself talking to my baby to come out soon.

That Monday it started 😉 It was as in my meditation visualization; I was walking in the park with my lovely midwife, Gail, the cramps were getting a little different with each passing time. When we got back, although it wasn’t officially labor yet, I knew that I was on the right track, something was happening. There I was, at home, with a sheepish smile in my face, counting the contractions. In about 2 hours, they were pretty regular. At about 7 pm, I was at the first stage officially. I went to bed after dinner. At night, after waking up from a dream with a contraction, Gail checked me, I was doing well but still nothing too serious. I went to bed again, knowing that she’s awake listening to me. That night, my husband was also awake most of the time. When contractions started hurting more, he began applying pressure on my sacrum, which felt heavenly. After past midnight, Gail and my husband Bahadir were agreed to fill the birth pool, to save time. With the morning ezan (prayer), I went into the pool with 4.5 cm dilation. It felt wonderful. The pain from the contractions were so diminished, I was able to sleep, so is he. I suspect, Gail was still awake though.

The morning was beautiful, and I was very excited with the fact that our baby was coming sometime soon. With each contraction, I was holding the edge of the pool, coming into all four’s, sort of humming with the wave. We rang our friend, who was also pregnant and wanted to be around when labor began. She came right away, and helped feeding me. Through noon, I needed Bahadir’s help again with the sacrum, so he was massaging me with each contraction, and sometimes Gail. In between contractions, I was very peaceful and relaxed. Water helped, so did yogic tools of breathing and relaxation techniques. Gail was checking my baby and me regularly, assessing the situation and taking notes. Everything was progressing pretty good, slow, but good. By that time, I didn’t have any worries left in my mind about the hospital stuff. I instinctively knew, I was going to give birth at home.

From time to time, Gail was helping me to open more.

At 3.30pm, I reached 10cm dilation and was ready to push. I felt glorious. Thinking that with a couple of pushes, I was going to hold my baby very soon. But I was forgetting what baby has in mind for its own birth scenario.

I started pushing. By listening to the sounds I was making, Gail directed me on where and how to push. Strangely, I had to push through my anus, something that I didn’t know before. Thanks God, there was no poo coming out, or I didn’t notice any. I was pushing in squatting position mainly; soon my hubby was in the water too. The baby didn’t seem to want to come out. I didn’t have any strength left to push, but I couldn’t let go either, plus with each push, the pain on the side of my sacrum was becoming unbearable. The hands applying pressure there suddenly started feeling too cold. I was somehow getting restless during pushing. Finally, Gail asked me to come out on the bed. She said, it’s better to change position now, to see what’s going on. Because, I was fully dilated and head was okay enough to pass through, but somehow it wasn’t coming. She added, I could go back to the pool before crowning, if I wanted to. So I hopped on the bed, but with no energy left, soon we had to give a break. Gail left the room for privacy as my husband lied down with me. He was talking to me in a sweet voice to relax me, to let go of the pain with each contraction without any effort to push. I had to chance to sleep to re-gain my energy in between contractions. After 10 minutes or so, I was determined to push the baby out no matter what/how. I asked him to shush down and told him that I wanted it out. Gail came back to the room. I started pushing, which seemed like an eternity. I pushed and pushed and pushed. With Gail’s remarks, I knew that I was pushing right, but it wasn’t coming out. I started talking to my baby, asking it to come out, that mummy and daddy was waiting for it outside, that mummy wanted to cuddle it. Gail was guiding me with her low sweet voice, which felt like a meditation, Bahadir was holding me and massaging my sacrum after every contraction.

The crowning time was the hardest and more enlightening. For the very first time in my life, I understood the real meaning of surrendering. I knew that it was going to hurt more as the largest part of head was coming out. I was close to the ring of fire but I didn’t have the chance to stop the labor. I had to go through, had to let go. I knew that once it was out, it was going to be much more easier, but I knew it was going to hurt too. It was an excellent experience. I surrendered, and the head was out. It turned out that the baby wanted to have birth with its hand next to its head!! And it was the hand/arm, which kept it from birthing. When Gail discovered that, she swept around the head and baby hold her finger, and voila! My favorite part was the body coming out like a squishy toy, sliding out. It’s a feeling I cannot describe, I felt so content and full. It was bliss.

It was a girl! The words are not enough to describe her. She was a wonderful little creature. My baby, our baby, looking into my own eyes. It was love at first sight. Holding her, listening to her, kissing her, smelling her; it was heaven at my feet. (And it still is).

After a few minutes, as the cord stopped pulsating, I asked Gail to cut it. When she asked me how I wanted to deliver the placenta, I suddenly had to urge to push, I stood up and with only one push, the placenta was out. When she examined it, she said it was very healthy and it seemed as if the baby came out early, that it might have had a life of 2 more weeks.

I had a big smile when she told me that I had no tear at all. Thanks to Kegels and wise guidance of Gail, I thought.

That evening, I nursed my baby. The milk was out as soon as I hold my baby in my arms. After that night, we both were professionals on nursing.


May, 2006 Istanbul, Turkey

Gabriel’s Birth Story

It all started when my husband secretly arranged for my Mother to watch our three children (aged six, four, and two at the time) so he could take me to a hotel to celebrate my first month of teaching English at our children’s kindergarten here in Bursa, Turkey. It was an authentic Ottoman hotel and there was definitely romance in the air! At dinner he gave me a lovely necklace, a “mavi boncuk”, the Turkish protective evil eye jewel. I awoke the next day with the certainty that someone else was in the room with us, a tiny little person, a nearly microscopic person who would one day be called Gabriel, our tiny angel (or not so tiny, as you will see!).

I was a little bit scared as we had both gone back and forth about making the decision to have a fourth child or not. Our living situation in Turkey encouraged us to lean in the “yes” direction: we have a bigger house here than we do in France, we have a housekeeper (I have never had one before in my life!), and Turkish people love kids (it is so much easier to go to a restaurant with kids in Turkey than in France !). On the other hand, as our daughter had recently turned two, I was finally starting to feel more “free”; I had even accepted a part-time job. But even if most of our Turkish friends and colleagues couldn’t believe it, we had “decided” (whether on purpose or simply by acceptance) to go for it!

My pregnancy was very uneventful (who has time for pregnancy “events” when they already have three little ones?). The only thing left to sort out was the birth: where, how, and with whom? As c-sections have unfortunately become the norm among the middle and upper classes in the big cities in Turkey , we felt like we really had our work cut out for us. Sadly, there are no birth centers or true “alternatives” to the hospital. Even though I am a CPM (Certified Professional Midwife), I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of “freebirth” (unassisted homebirth) either. We felt that a homebirth was the best choice for us this time, as it had been for our last two children (who were born in France ). The next question was a tough one: where to find a homebirth midwife or doctor? The only city-dwelling Turkish medical practitioner who didn’t run away screaming at the mention of the word “homebirth” was Dr. Hakan Coker, who practices in Marmaris. However, we couldn’t see ourselves moving our whole “circus” that far south (a 7-8 hour drive from Bursa) just for the birth.

I was truly lucky to have stumbled upon the Natural Birth in Turkey Yahoo! Group, thanks to which I met Kate, an obstetrical nurse who had planned a homebirth in Istanbul a year before. She put me in touch with Gail Winters Johnson, an angel of a midwife who is retired and now travels the world as a “Midwife Without Borders” and who had helped a family of Turkish yoga teachers in Istanbul have a waterbirth at home two years before. I contacted Gail and she was available for my due date and the kind couple in Istanbul offered to loan me their birth pool (which had been “waiting” at Kate’s house). I also interviewed about four or five OB/GYNs in order to organize a reasonable “plan B” (you always need a “plan B”, in my opinion). I even went to see the head of the OB/GYN department at the biggest and most luxurious private hospital in town (it honestly feels more like a hotel than a hospital). He really let me down: when I asked him how he would feel about me giving birth in a position other than lying down on my back, he replied “Oh no, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable!” What do you think? Is it “his” comfort that’s supposed to come first? Surprisingly, the most open-minded doctor that we met was “closed”, in Turkish – that is to say that she wears a headscarf. She is our pediatrician’s wife and works in a small private clinic. She was willing to accept all of the requests in our birth plan and I didn’t see her eyeballs pop out of their sockets when I told her that I had had two births at home.

So, life continued on its regular course and my belly got bigger and bigger. So big that I finally decided to ask Gail to come at thirty-eight and a half weeks, “just in case” this baby decided to come early. Although I was feeling great, I didn’t need to stop working (it was a priceless sight to see me bouncing up and down to “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” at thirty-nine weeks), and my other children had all come between forty and forty-one weeks, I didn’t want to risk getting caught “stranded and alone”! That turned out to be completely ridiculous presumption (or “secret hope” perhaps), because we found ourselves having to pay an extra fee to extend Gail’s ticket in the end! Gabriel was born right close to forty-one weeks, only one day before Gail’s original flight home.

Right from the very start, this labor was not like any of the others. For the first time in any of my births, my water broke before I had any contractions, during breakfast to be exact. As my boys were calmly crunching their cereal, I was squeezing my knees and trying discreetly to ask my housekeeper to bring me the whole roll of paper towels; it did make quite a mess! I told my sons that they should go ahead and get their bags ready for sports summer school because Mommy was getting ready to have a baby. Fortunately my daughter was already at a friend’s house. Then I told my midwife the happy news and she replied “Oh, great… well, I guess I’ll just keep reading until things get exciting – you just let me know when you need me”. After that I finally called my husband and told him to please hurry back home and start filling up the birth pool; he had not been at work very long, it was only about nine o’clock in the morning. And then I waited. After about half an hour the first contractions started coming. They started “squeezing” to describe my feelings more precisely. I quickly ended up naked in my empty bath tub (lucky for me it is a large corner one) because I didn’t feel like wearing a pad and after every contraction I lost a good squirt of amniotic fluid. I turned on the shower every once in a while and that did help my lower back. I hung a little bit on the glass doors and even managed to squat every once in a while (though that did increase the pain!). At one point while my husband and our gardener were filling up the pool in our bedroom (we had been staring at it in the middle of our room, empty, for about a week already), my housekeeper came in our bathroom to see how things were going. I just didn’t know what to say. I didn’t feel like telling her to just go away, but neither did I really need her help. I think I might even have managed a small smile and a “well, you know, it hurts” kind of comment. She was married at the age of fifteen and gave birth to her only daughter on the same day as her own birthday only a year later. As in interesting side note, she told me recently that she and her husband have decided to have a second baby (their daughter is now twelve) and she would really like to get pregnant before we leave Turkey so that I can help her.

I was really glad that we hadn’t decided to “freebirth”, because sometime while I was in the tub I think that I would have decided to transfer myself to the hospital! As this was the first time that my water broke early in labor, I just wasn’t comfortable with the color of the fluid I was losing: it looked overly “greenish” to me. Gail reassured me that everything was within the scope of normal (there was no significant meconium at birth) and I was able to continue working on breathing with an open, round mouth and trying to stay calm; birth is an experience that tends to make you want to freak out! After about an hour in the tub, Gail asked me to get out so that she could listen to the baby and check my dilation on the bed. I was at about five centimetres or so. I was hoping for more, but I knew how long these things can take… or not. What I mean to say is that, as a mother and a midwife, I have my own opinion about the length of labour considering which baby is coming.

A first baby always takes what feels like an eternity, because nobody knows what’s going on: not the mother, nor her body. The second baby is often like a freight train because although the body knows now quite well what it must do, the mother still hasn’t figured it out. My second baby was born with only one long push in a gush of water as I was kneeling next to the side of my bed (the “Dear Lord!” position, as I like to call it). I think my midwife started to open her mouth to tell me to try and slow down a little and then changed her mind and decided to “ride the wave”. She was a very “close to nature” kind of person. My husband didn’t even have time to catch the baby (he had been so looking forward to that as this was our first homebirth)! My son really just flew out, nearly! That was a big change to my first birth, which I had wanted to have at home, but for numerous reasons involving insurance issues and the risk evaluation made by my midwife at that time, ended up taking place in a cold post-war Parisian clinic (not an altogether happy experience for me as you can probably infer). The doctor had estimated the baby’s weight at more than four thousand grams at thirty-eight weeks and this had “put the fear of God” into my midwife and doctor. He “only” weighed three thousand nine hundred fifty when he was born at forty weeks. I hate, I abhor, ultrasound weight estimations; I think that one of the plain stupidest and most poisonous things you can ever say to a pregnant woman is “Oh, it looks like a big baby!” because it doesn’t change anything about the way you are going to approach the birth and neatly sabotages the mother’s subconscious faith in her own body. My view is, “if the baby doesn’t come down, it just doesn’t come down” and you’ll know early enough to make a safe decision; I subscribe to the school of thought that says that shoulder dystocia is a myth and can be solved by changing the mother’s position.

In any case, baby number three and onward is where things get interesting: the body is a real professional and the mother knows a thing or two as well. What this means, Ladies, is that we have a greater impact on the process and we really have to be in “the right place” (both physically and psychologically) to allow the birth to occur. My third labor was nearly my longest. It began in the car on the way to my favourite restaurant on the Champs-Elysées. I told my husband, above all, to keep going; the baby was not going to interrupt the Lebanese dinner that I was so looking forward to (I think you have to have more than one child to understand this mindset). I still remember my husband asking the waiter to please hurry up with the bill because his wife was going to have a baby, and with his wonderful rolling accent, the waiter replied “Are you kidding me, sir? Have you seen the way your wife is eating? There is no way she is going to have a baby tonight”. He was right! We got home after dinner at the same time that our midwife arrived (still another – I have had four blessed children and four blessed midwives) and things just never really got going. We tried homeopathy and a walk around the neighbourhood, but around midnight, I told everybody “Listen, I know I am dilated to five or six centimetres, but I am really too tired to go on right now; let’s sleep on it!”. And so we did (I slept good, in fact), and it took my own Mother getting my other two kids out of the house (my husband cringed every time he heard me yell up the stairs things like “His green socks are in the top drawer, Mom!”) for things to really get going. That meant that although my labor had “technically” began around six in the evening, you couldn’t really have called it “active” until about ten o’clock in the morning the next day. I should mention here that my second and third children were born two years and two days apart; I was certainly scared to take the poor middle child’s birthday from him as well as his position as “baby”. In the end I managed to start my labor on the day after his birthday and hold out for one extra day! So, just three and a half hours after my labor became “active”, and after having a few sips of my favorite Belgian raspberry beer in our outdoor Jacuzzi (our midwife was willing to try anything at that point to “get things going”), our daughter was born into my husband’s loving hands in the doorway of our “summer room”.

I have shared all of that with to you to say that although labors sometimes can seem “long” for babies numbered three and after, once the mother has finally made up her mind, they are actually quite fast! I was feeling quite ready to meet our fourth baby and things continued on at a steady pace after that first hour in the tub. The birth pool was nice and warm and I was dying to get in and stretch out. It felt so good to “lose myself” in the water. Although I had labored some in our outdoor jacuzzi for our third child, being in a birth pool and “planning” to give birth in the water was another experience. I stared at the roses on the wallpaper and told Gail (who was still reading her book on my bed, like a good non-bossy midwife) that it really hurt. “Why, why is it so darn strong?” I kept repeating. Gail soothingly replied, “I know honey, it just is, I know… you’re doing great.” My husband was a bit disappointed because I told him that I didn’t want him to get into the tub with me. I had just enough room to put my back against one side of the pool and stretch my legs out completely straight; I felt most comfortable in “my space”, I suppose. That didn’t mean that I didn’t need his support, however. I also greatly enjoyed floating on my stomach with my legs slightly bent, resting my head on his warm fuzzy forearm (which I occasionally squeezed during the really hard contractions!).

Once I got in the birth pool it felt like things moved rather fast; the birth came less than two hours later. I went from five or six centimetres to the “transition” stage in what seemed like a heartbeat, and from then on I checked my dilation on my own. When the baby’s head got really low in my pelvis I started to go into panic mode: “What can I hold on to? What position do I get into in this pool?” I hadn’t tried any birth positions when I first got into the pool, so I really felt lost. Plus, the baby was coming so fast! I ended up in a “floating” sitting position, putting all my weight on my arms, which were behind me. As Gabriel started to crown I felt like I didn’t have enough strength to push him out – it was so hard – I screamed for the only time during my whole labor, “I can’t do it, I can’t get the baby out!” Gail, who was leaning over the side of the pool with her arms between my legs, said “Don’t panic, just push, the head is already out!” Then she told my husband to put the camera down (he was trying to get a good picture of the baby’s head under water) and come catch the baby. Gabriel’s body slid out much easier than his head and my husband gently nestled him into my arms before picking up his camera again. The photo that he made of that moment is one of pure bliss; everyone tells me that they cannot believe that I had, just at that instant, given birth. I felt so happy and it shows. It wasn’t until a few hours later, when we weighed and measured Gabriel that I got a clue to why I might have felt like he was really hard to push out: he weighed four thousand seven hundred grams and measured fifty-six centimetres! Gail half-jokingly blamed it on too many Starbuck’s frapuccinos. I don’t honestly know why he was so big; all my other children were between three point seven and four kilos (a pretty good size already). Gabriel was a well-proportioned, big fourth baby, I guess.

About forty-five minutes after the birth, my Mom came back from lunch with the kids and all three of them were very happy to meet their baby brother. Comments such as “He’s so tiny! He’s so red! He has so much hair! His toes are so cute!” abounded as everyone took turns “discovering” the newest member of our family. Then my Mom took the big brothers and the big sister to a friend’s house to enjoy the water park that they have in their apartment complex while the rest of us took well-deserved naps. That was actually not such a good idea; the kids, and my Mom, were so over-excited that they came home with multiple cuts and bruises. You live and learn! We learned some more when Gabriel was only three days old and I left him sleeping on a blanket on my bed. While we were eating dinner downstairs, we heard a strange noise. Gail was the first to react: she went running up the stairs and met my three year-old daughter halfway up who was carrying her baby brother in her arms. “He was crying – he needs Mommy!”, she insisted, though whether or not he had woken her up with his crying or he was crying because she had woken him up remained to be seen. Our bedroom door stayed locked for the next few months, until we felt that “big sister” understood exactly what her role was. The big brothers rapidly accepted the new baby and all that his arrival entailed with a lot of grace; they were already used to having to “share” Mom.

Number four grows up very fast; faster than all the others. Gabriel is fifteen months old and I am finally writing down his birth story. He can walk, babble, color, hold a fork, imitate our dog, and entertain us all with his bouncy dancing style (probably due to “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”?). Every once in a while, someone asks us the inevitable question “And when are you having number five?” But that, my friends, is another story!

June 2008 – Bursa, Turkey

Photo Gallery

Miscellaneous Pictures:

Mila’s Birth (Belize):

Ester In Early Labor

Ester and Gail In The Hot Tub


Ester and Casey During Labor


Baby Has Just Been Born


Mother And Child

A Loving Welcome

New Addition To The Family

Already Has A Grip

The Girls Approve


Another Approval


Weighing The Baby

Hello Everyone

Carol’s Birth (Texas, U.S.A.)

First Twin Deliverd In Hospital

First Twin Delivered In Hospital

What A Cutie

What A Cutie

Now Mom can rest a bit

Now Mom can rest a bit

It is a keeper

Now there are two babies

Now there are two babies

Dad checks out the new addition

Gail following up

Gail following up

Mom takes care of one twin

Mom takes care of one twin

Gail takes care of other twin

Gail takes care of other twin

Twins together

Twins together

Gail with twins

Gail with twins

The family together

Gail weighs one twin

Gail weighs one twin

And now Gail weighs the other twin

And now Gail weighs the other twin

Another family picture

The twins sleeping

The twins sleeping

Elizabeth’s Birth – Bursa, Turkey

In the birthing pool

In the birthing pool

 Underwater birth is complete

Underwater birth is complete

Dad is taking video

Dad is taking video

Mom and baby bonding

Mom and baby bonding

The family gathers around

 Gail is part of the group

Gail is part of the group

More attention

More attention

 Gail with baby

Gail with baby

Postnatal checkup with the doctor

Postnatal checkup with the doctor

The doctor is impressed

The doctor is impressed

© Copyright 2018 Midwife Without Borders. All Rights Reserved.  |  Gail Johnson, Ret. CPM  |