Flora June Blair’s Birth Story

Flora June Blair turned 13 today. It’s the end of an era. Our youngest is officially a teenager. To mark the day, I thought it would be fun to republish Flora June’s birth story. And be sure to check out the links in the last paragraph for more photos and details.

From June 7, 2010
Today, Flora June Blair is one month old. I can hardly believe it. What was our family like before June arrived? I don’t even remember. To mark the day, I wanted to write down her birth story before I forget the details.

On the phone with the midwife at 3:00 AM. Mid-contraction.

June’s Story

Do you think it’s possible to mentally shut down labor? To stop contractions with your brain because you can’t wrap your head around the day? I think that’s what I did.

You may have seen my Walk of Shame post on May 7th. Early that morning, my brother-in-law, Mark, had answered our middle-of-the-night call and quickly come to our home to watch over our little sleeping flock. At about 3:30am, we checked into the hospital. It was 5 days before my due date. My contractions were strong and coming 3 to 5 minutes apart. I was clearly in active labor and we settled into our birthing room, excited, nervous and ready to have the baby.

Headed to my hospital room. Yay! The baby is almost here. (But not really.)

I’ll be honest, I was sure we would arrive at the hospital and have the baby within the hour. It was going to work out perfectly. The baby would be born around 4:30 or 5:00 AM. We’d be settled into our recovery room by 6:00 AM. Then Ben Blair would head home and be there when the kids awoke. He’d manage their day — make lunches, get kids to and from school and bring them to the hospital that afternoon. Easy peasy.

But after I’d been monitored and checked, I realized the plan wasn’t happening. I was 90% effaced, but only 2 centimeters dilated. At some point, it sunk in that this labor still had a ways to go. That Ben Blair would not be home by 6:00 AM. That I’d need to make like a thousand arrangements to get my 5 other kids through their day. And just like that, my contractions stopped. Completely stopped. (You may wonder why we didn’t have childcare plans in place. We actually did, but I promise, it’s surprisingly difficult to nail anything down when you don’t know the exact day the baby is going to arrive.)

One of the last contractions before I shut things down.

The midwife consulted with me. This was my 6th baby and she was afraid the labor would progress quickly once the contractions started again. She wanted me to stay at the hospital — I could walk the halls and that would probably start things up. But I was 100% sure nothing was going to happen labor-wise until I settled my head, so we went home with a plan to labor there and come back when I was farther along. You can imagine my embarrassment as we sent Mark home, apologizing for dragging him out of bed in the middle of the night. (I’m still blushing!)

We went about our Friday as usual (sort-of as usual — we were missing quite a few hours of sleep). Kids woke up. Dressed and ate. Went to middle school, went to elementary school, went to preschool. Went to dance class. And then, as each child came home and things started settling down for the day, (homework, dinner, baths, pjs, make arrangements for Ralph to go to the Father & Son campout with a substitute day) the contractions started right up again stronger than ever. I am not even kidding you.

We made new childcare plans for the night ahead, and started monitoring contractions.

Doctors typically recommend heading to the hospital when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart. This guideline was in my head and made it hard to know when to call the midwife. The contractions were so hard! I would fall to my knees and rock back on forth on all fours to get through them. But then, I would get these luxurious 9 and 10 minutes breaks between each one which made them manageable. And confusing.

I finally called the midwife to get some advice on when I should come in and how I should manage the contraction pain in the meantime. She heard my voice and told me to come in immediately. So we did.

We showed up at the hospital for the second time that day. It was around 8:00 PM. The midwife, Mary, checked me and told me the baby would arrive in the next half hour or so. She said if we broke my water, the baby would come in just a few minutes. (Random tidbit: 6 pregnancies and my water has never broken on its own.)

Between contractions: Life is great. Let’s chat. Laugh it up.
During contractions: Ummm. Just kidding. Nobody touch me. I mean it.

I continued getting breaks between contractions and I’m telling you, it made the whole thing so much more doable. I could laugh and joke and chat between each. It was so civilized. Then I’d summon every relaxation technique I knew when I would feel a contraction coming on. If it came on steadily, I could manage the pain really well. Once in awhile I’d have one that would come on really strong right from the beginning, and then I would panic and tense and it hurt like crazy.

After a few more contractions I decided I was worn out. I asked Mary to break my water and she did.

[Tangent: I know there are women that feel empowered by childbirth (more power to them!), but I am not one of them. I feel empowered by many things, but childbirth isn’t on the list. Yes, I’m glad I’ve experienced it. No, it’s not my favorite thing. I’ve concluded there is no easy way to get that baby out of you. I’ve had 6 births. Half medicated, half un-medicated. And really, either way is exhausting and painful. Because this whole other person has to come out of your body. The last few minutes of labor just about kill me. I basically throw a 3-year-old tantrum where I fuss and yell that I can’t do it, that I don’t want to do it, that I want it to stop, that I hate it, that it’s too hard, etc. And at the same time I have another voice in my head that’s far more reasonable saying: you have to do it, you don’t have a choice, it won’t stop hurting till you do it, just do it.]

The last photo taken of me before I started pushing.
This is my midwife, Mary Wilterdink. She was wonderful. And she didn’t get mad at me when I threw a tantrum shortly after this picture was taken.

After my water was broken, Ben Blair stopped taking photos and the room got serious. I had a couple of intense contractions and then it was time to push. And suddenly she arrived. After one push. One really painful push with accompanying tantrum.

Then I calmed down. Then I met my daughter. And she was perfect. She looked so exactly like each of my other babies that I knew her immediately and said something like: Well hello. I’ve seen you before.

It was 9:10 pm. May 7th, 2010.

Meeting June for the first time.

The followup: June was tiny. 6 pounds even. (Blessed day: no stitches!) We settled into our recovery room at around midnight. The room had a bed for Ben Blair which was wonderful. I was ravenous and ate a giant sandwich. We got as much sleep as we could that night and the next morning we checked out as soon as possible. I couldn’t wait to get home and introduce Flora June to her brothers and sisters. You can read about June’s Homecoming here. Oh. And you can see lots more birth photos, and her newborn portraits too. And don’t miss her birth announcement either.

176 thoughts on “Flora June Blair’s Birth Story”

  1. How lovely. I am so glad you posted June’s story to add to the incredible collection of birthing and parenting wisdom you’ve assembled during the course of this series. I have read every single post and I would keep on reading – for sure.

  2. wonderful, lovely story!! It sounds like you had an excellent labor and delivery experience. Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I do truly believe that our minds can delay labor, at least for awhile. I am quite sure that my daughter was a week late in PART because I just wasn’t ready to have her until I had finished a few last major projects at work that people were counting on me to do.

    PLEASE continue the birth stories!!!! I love every one!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing both your story and the photographs. You must look better than anyone I’ve ever seen in labor. Just lovely. I had two natural childbirths, and while I completely agree that “pain-free” is false advertising, I did find the experience very empowering. I think a lot of the pain arises from people’s expectations and because they fight the labor rather than surrendering to it. I, too, hope the birth stories will continue, and was wondering if YOUR other birth stories are in the archives somewhere??? Funny how each labor is as different as each child.

    Happy 1-month to sweet baby June.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! PLEASE continue the birth story series – it’s absolutely wonderful reading through everyone’s experiences. Some were so moving – and some were downright hilarious! LOVE the series.

  5. Yes, continue the stories. So wonderful! Great photos! I love the one of your midwife holding you. I need to write down mine too but it will take a lot of me asking my husband to fill in some parts. That’s how we usually tell stories in public too. I’ll start and he’ll finish. We are like an old couple!

  6. That was wonderful. I have tears running down my face. Thank you for your tangent on childbirth and empowerment. Thank you so much.

    And please keep the childbirth stories. I loved them all.

  7. I love your birth series! I think I will miss them quite a lot if they stop. And, you shouldn’t run out, right? People just keep having them, no matter how many stories are told about how uncomfortable it is. I still haven’t figured it out either. But I love to hear all about the women around me and their experiences bringing new souls into the world.

  8. I love your story! I can relate to it in lots of ways, except my hair was way more frizzy and non-photogenic. :) I’ve also felt like I was able to “shut down” labor until the timing was right. Except with my middle child, who came three weeks early, quite out of the blue. As it turns out, he’s still my most headstrong child, doing everything on his own timeline.
    I’ve really enjoyed these birth stories. Thanks!

  9. I would LOVE if you would continue to post pregnancy/birth stories. I’m expecting my first babe in August and I can’t tell you how empowering it has been to read all of these stories, that and I’ve truly realized you may as well let go of any expectations because each birth is SO different.

    thank you for sharing this wonderful series.

  10. nora ballantyne

    Thank you for sharing this lovely story. You look positively angelic in your photos. The spirit of new birth and love just radiates through you.

    I had a traumatic birth w/my son: 36 hours unmediated labor, then emergency c-section. I tried to work through it by publishing an article about my experience in midwifery today, and that helped. But reading the stunningly varied posts about adoption and birth on your blog continued my healing from that experience. I love them. If you can, keep it up.

    Love to you and your gorgeous family.

  11. i have LOVED the pregnancy / birth stories — yours included! so glad you posted it. please keep the stories coming…my wednesdays just aren’t the same without them. [especially since i’ll be writing my own birth story in less than 4 weeks! ahh!]

  12. Beautiful story! And beautiful photos. You look amazing!!

    I adore reading the birth stories that you post – do continue to post them if you can.

  13. Such a sweet story. I do think one’s head can get in the way. Both times so far when the pain gets intense my progress stops for however long I continue without medication. I eventually get the drugs and within the hour thereafter have a sweet baby. I think maybe I get in my own way.

    As to the stories generally, I LOVED reading them and would like it if you were to continue!

  14. I’d love you to continue your pregnancy/birth/adoption series, please!!! Wednesday has become my favorite day at Design Mom- it’s so inspiring to hear of all the ways we can make families. Congratulations on June, she is a beauty and a very lucky girl!!

  15. I loved reading your story!! i have 3 little ‘uns of my own and I remember each birth like it was yesterday. Your photos are amazing XXX

  16. Thank you so much for sharing. I am 37 weeks pregnant with our first, and living far from home in the United Arab Emirates, and trying to get myself ready for the birth of my little girl. Reading your story helped me feel calm and happy about my upcoming birthing process. It was to the point and sweet and real. Loved it. Thanks!

  17. Amazing, and YES! Please continue the stories!!!! I’m TTC now and love reading through as many birth stories as possible. I’ve been so sad since you stopped.

  18. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one that throws tantrums! I have felt very empowered by birthing 4 babies, but it’s not something I look forward to. I know it’s going to hurt! I know it’s going to be hard! But not till it’s over do I feel a sense of awe about my own body and all it is created to do! Congrats! We just had our 4th baby on May 9th. mothers day! Enjoy your newbie!

  19. I will read and love every single birth story I can find. Thanks for posting June’s, and please continue to post others!

  20. I enjoyed reading June’s birth story and I agree with everyone else-please continue the series:-). I feel a sense of community when i read these stories on your blog which i totally love:-)You also looked adorable in your pictures!! I never really got the chance to really “savour” the moments before giving birth. Everything happened so quickly with my first child(well my only one so far) He was 3 weeks early and i had just gone in for a regular check up only to be told that i had to go to the hospital right away. Baby Zion was born the next day via c-section at 51/2 lbs. However, today at 14 months, he is vivacious, very independent, and doesn’t look at all like he was only 51/2 lbs at birth!!

  21. Heather Lilly

    Lovely story. This is going to be a treasure for June some day.

    I’ve also LOVED the adoption/birth story series. I look forward to them every Wednesday; they’re like a little treat that I wait and savour at the end of the day. I’d love to keep reading them. You’re probably already thinking along these lines, but they would be lovely gathered together in some sort of published collection.


  22. Wonderful story & great pics! You looked so beautiful through the whole thing – so real and honest about what was going on.

    YES, please continue sharing the stories. I’ve a 9- & 11-yo, and these birth stories have helped me remember the good (and yes, even the not-so-good) things about my pregnancies and birthing experiences. It’s a joy to see to read these different experiences, all shared with honesty, joy and, well, honesty!

    (BTW, love-love-love the “well, hello!” pic)

  23. Hi Gabrielle, I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a long time now, and I’ve found the preganancy/birth/adoption stories really inspiring and informative, as I was trying to conceive for much of the last year and finally succeeded several weeks ago. Thanks so much for sharing yours, and please, continue them!

  24. Please continue the birth stories!! I thought about emailing you to ask you to continue with the birth stories, because I enjoy them so much. But, as a very infrequent poster, I didn’t feel like I deserved to put in requests!

  25. Beautiful story! Fascinating how your body “held things up” until your mind calmed down. I also REALLY appreciate your thoughts on medicated and non-medicated pregnancies. So true.

    I loved the other pregnancy/birth stories you’ve been posting. I say keep ’em coming!

  26. oh, tears, tears! i love birth stories! i’m so new to your blog, but i kinda like you a lot. =) your family is precious.

    and i haven’t read your birth/adoption stories that you posted, but i’m making a note to come back to them. i haven’t publicly shared my birth stories, [i’m not sure why] but i love sharing adoption story so much.

  27. Okay, this story was great and SO helpful! The best information I have about what labor and delivery is *really* like is from soap operas and movies (translation: not realistic.) This was such a cool perspective of birth – thank you so much for sharing it!

    This whole series has been great! I was reading before I knew I was pregnant, but I read with fresh interest once I found out I was expecting – it’s been a wonderful resource.

  28. Your choice of having a photographer present was a terrific call. Such great moments caught on film – and not by a shaky father’s hand. ;)

    And YAY for the women that don’ t relish childbirth/pregnancy (*ahem*). I’ll take my empowerment in less painful, physically challenging ways thankyouverymuch.

  29. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter June. OK- how did you look so terrific throughout the birthing process?? Please share your secrets.

    Thank you for sharing your story about the her birth and reaffirming that it doesn’t get any easier whether delivering baby #1 or baby #6. Enjoy your time with baby June—as you know, they grow up so fast. Keep these lovely stories coming.

  30. Love your birth story and all of the others. I looked forward to reading them every Wednesday. I’d love to see it continued.


  31. What a beautiful memory! I do so hope you continue your birth story series. They are all so fun to read. Also a little tidbit on the contractions, yes that can and does happen often with women. You can read more about it in the book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. It really is a quick and informative read. It explains this phenomenon. Congratulations once more on your darling new bundle :)

  32. Beautiful story. I really liked reading the pregnancy stories. We are a few years away from having babies but reading all of the different stories has helped me envision the kind of birth experience I would want/hope for in the future.

  33. Yes, I absolutely believe that our minds control much of our labor. Up to a point of course, but I’m there with ya on that one.
    Your labor sounds much like my labor with my son. The contractions were crazy hard, and then nothing for 10 minutes. It was so weird. He was delivered unmedicated as well.
    Thanks for sharing your story! I am a birth junkie, just love the stories. So, yes, I loved your series!

  34. Thank you for sharing your story! I really appreciate your openness. I gave birth to my first 6 months ago and while it was an awesome, overwhelming experience, I felt letdown that I didn’t get the empowerment/endorphin rush everyone talks about. Thank you for being honest that that doesn’t always happen! You have a beautiful family and I find you blog inspiring.

  35. Yes, please do continue. We’re starting to plan for a baby of our own and the stories you have shared have made things so much less intimidating and scary! <– THANK YOU!

  36. You are a ROCKSTAR!! Just do it and get it over with, right? :)

    And yes, please continue the birth stories, I can never get enough.

  37. I’m crying. Seriously.
    I have three children and one baby in heaven, so I’ve done the whole birthing thing, but I love seeing your pictures and hearing your story. And I’m weirdly emotional about it. Thanks for sharing it.

  38. Please continue the birth stories. They are actually what first brought me to your blog and I have enjoyed them so much.

  39. These photos are inspiring:

    1. to take more photos the next time around and

    2. to have more kids (you make large families seem so fun!)

  40. I love this…you always amaze me Gabs. Reading this and being able to see the pictures, I can’t even explain it, what a sweet thing. My heart is full:) And by the way…you looked beautiful!

  41. I love this birth story, I love most birth stories.

    I too don’t like giving birth and don’t really feel all that empowered. The second time around was easier and harder, does that make any sense?

    I love love love meeting my babies. The first thing I say to them is “one” and then I kiss them. I pinky promise to give them one million kisses throughout their life time and the first kiss is always my favorite.

    I loved your series but i think I’m done. Move on to something else, like….breast feeding. I’m saying that because my nipples are oh so cracked and oh so sore and I need so advice bad!


    1. I love hearing peoples birth stories! I love how everyones story is uniquely their own! Thanks for sharing yours! PS it is so comforting to know that after six you’re still guessing. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t know I was in labour with my second because I had been induced with my first that I waited way longer than I should of to go to the hospital. I felt like I should know what was happening because I had done it before; I didn’t have a clue! I was so sure that I was going to be send home that I left my luggage in the car;)

    2. Breast feeding is so hard! I felt like it might do me in the first time around, but it is worth it. Don’t be shy; ask for help! FYI If it helps I had thrush with my first and that’s what made our situation BAD! Once we got a handle on that it was night and day! I would never have had two clues about it but a breastfeeding specialist spotted the problem. Good luck!

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