How I Accidentally Became A Free Birther

Photo: allme / Shutterstock
pregnant woman in tub

It's still possible this is a false start, but it seems labor is beginning … please hold us with the intention for a gentle, joyful, and vibrant transition. I will update you on the other side as I’m able. 

4:00 PM — 01/15/19

Are you okay? My husband, Scott, asked.

Yeah, thanks, I think I just had a little contraction … I’m starting to wonder if labor might be starting soon.

10:00 PM — 01/15/19

My daughter, Barrett, painted and I sat on the birth ball and drank a little of that campfire stout you got me to see if that would help my uterus to calm down.

Photo: Solo parenting my daughter in early labor.

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How was bedtime?

It was hard. I was really uncomfortable. The bath was super-hard. I couldn’t really help Barrett. But we got through. Eventually, she snuggled up on my lap and fell asleep. What do you think about setting up the birth tub tonight?

Do you think we need it?

I don’t know, but I’d rather have it.

Can we do it in the morning?

I don’t know. It takes at least two hours to finish. It takes a lot of hot water. You will need to empty the water heater, and then give it at least an hour to refill. A lady I met at the park last week said you can fill it and put the lid on and since it has a heating element it can stay hot for at least a day, if we end up not needing it tonight.

Well, what’s your intuition? I’m really tired. I’d much rather get up early and do it in the morning.

I really don’t know. That’s probably fine. Let’s try to sleep.

3:15AM — 01/16/19

Scott, baby, wake up. I need you to start the tub.

What’s happening? Are you in labor?

I don’t know. I just need you to fill the tub.

Okay. Okay. I’ll get up.

6:11AM — 01/16/19

It’s ready.

Oh my god, thank you.

Are you okay?

Yea, I don’t know what’s happening. I just want to get in the tub. I need to pee first. I’ll be right there.

I’m going to make a coffee. Do you want anything?

Tea, please. Lots of honey and milk.

Oh my god, that feels so good. Thank you for getting up to do this babe.

Ya, so what do you think — is this it?

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Oh, man. I don’t know. Now that I’m in the water, everything feels totally calm. Maybe this will stop and we will get to go for a walk today and just chill out. I’m so tired. I didn’t sleep at all. But let’s call the midwife. I want to at least give her a heads up.

6:37AM — 01/16/18

Hey Cindie, sorry to wake you up.

It’s okay. What’s up?

Well, I’m not totally sure. I’ve been cramping since I texted you last night and it’s been getting more intense. I had to get out of bed around 3 AM. Scott filled the tub and now I’m in it and everything feels calm. So who knows. Maybe no labor today. But I really wanted to call you because I just went to the bathroom and I had a little grunt that I couldn’t do. That really got my attention. It doesn’t seem like that should be happening yet. It’s definitely getting more intense, but nothing is organized yet — there’s no pattern to the contractions.

Hmm. That is strange.

Yea, so I really don’t know … oooh here’s something now.

Okay, just let me listen. Mhmmmmm….mmmmmmm …. okay well that wasn’t bad. Who knows what’s going on … labor might be starting, or this could go on for days. Either way, I just wanted to give you a heads up.

Okay, well I’m really glad you did, and I agree with your assessment, it’s not clear that you’re in labor yet. Why don’t I start getting myself ready just in case, and you let me know if anything changes?

Okay, that sounds good Cindie. Thanks so much.


Oh god. Call her back.

What? What’s happening?

Call her back.


The baby is coming.


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CALL HER BACK. Tell her to come now. The baby is coming. Call next door, tell GJ to come over now.


Turn off the lights.

But I can’t see.

I don’t care… oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh…. oooooooooooooooooh

Oh this is intense. Light the candle, please.

Which candle?

THAT one, on the mantel… ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh…. ooooooooooooooooooooooh

Okay, babe, they are both on the way.

Call Cindy.

Which Cindy?

Cindy Thelen.

I can’t find her number?

It’s saved as Cindy Shambhala.

I can’t find it. I don’t know how to use your phone.


Please, Scott I just need her here. Figure it out. Pleeeeease... ooooooooooh….. oooooooooooooooooh….

I couldn’t find it. I accidentally called Cindie the midwife, do you want to talk to her?


Hey Meghann, I’m on the way. I should be there in about 15 minutes. What’s happening?

The baby’s coming. Oh god here comes another one. What should I do?

Just go slow. Put the phone down and just let me listen.


Okay, Meghann. I’m not going to make it. Do you want to hang up and call 911?


Are you sure?

Yes. They won’t know what to do, and I can’t take their noise and lights.

It will only be crazy for about 10 minutes.

No. I don’t want them here…. oooooooooooo… OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooh…

Okay. You’re doing great. Just go slow. Just keep going slow.

GJ’s here. Do you want her in here?

Yes. please.

Hi, darling dear…

Shhhhh, please, no talking, please.. ooooooo… OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooh…

Oh god, Cindie, I can feel the head. What should I do?

Just go slow. Just keep going slow.


Oh my god that burns, the head is half way out. What do I do?

Nothing. Just stay here…

oooooohhhhhhh, that burns.


The head is out, can I push now?

Yes. Now you can push.

6:59AM — 1/16/18

And then, with one glorious push, dreamboat baby Grady came into my arms.

After a few moments, I realized we still didn’t know the gender. It took a moment to find because the cord was obscuring my view. Eventually, we found it.

And then I nuzzled him into my chest and pressed his belly tightly into my belly, now soft from his absence. And I kissed his head again and again, “Grady. Grady. Grady. Oh, Grady. Your name is Grady. My sweet boy.”

Our neighbor GJ, who had been a nurse for more than 30 years, was watching over us. She had her hand on the cord, feeling for the pulse. And then she said with some delight, “He looks like he’s ready to nurse."

And boy was he. He arrived pink, screaming, and ready to nurse. No meconium, and no cord around his neck. Midwife Cindie arrived and cut the cord.

And then as if by magic, newly-minted big sister Barrett woke up and walked into the room, still wearing her sleep sack, before I was even out of the tub.

7:22AM — 01/16/19

It’s a beautiful perfect boy. He’s already nursing. His name is Grady. It was truly a gentle, joyful, and vibrant transition … thank you for the love and support, in life and in Grady’s birth.

I’m writing this five months deep in the pandemic. Barrett is four and Grady is 19 months. We haven’t had one minute of childcare since lock down began. It’s just us, all of the time.

Photo: Family selfie, the first day of the blueberry picking season.

I needed to write this story now, to remember that I can hold steady in the fire.

That I can navigate in the dark  —  uncomfortable and unable to sleep, not knowing how long this will go on.

That I can let life move through me  —  to its greatest conclusion.

That I can lean into my husband.

That I can trust my knowing  —  and ask for what I need.

That I am the vessel my kids need.

May we all, and our world, be born anew of this fire. And may we become the ancestors we are proud of — for the benefit of all beings everywhere.

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Meghann McNiff is a professional coach and co-founder of the Seattle Coaching Collective. Connect with her here.

All photos posted with permission. Credit: Scott Schell

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.