The Birth of Josiah: Rebecca’s Story

Birth Story

October 24, 2019


fresh 48 and newborn


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My blog is where I can show you more than just a single Instagram-worthy snapshot, but tell the entire story of a session from start to finish. Enjoy!



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Hi I'm Nicole


I was introduced to Rebecca through her doula, and my friend, Andrea Gerdes. If you’ll recall, Andrea and I had developed a partnership that allows us to bundle our services to interested clients. Not long after we announced our partnership, Andrea had a consultation with Rebecca, a prospective client, and she jumped at the idea of having a photographer document her birth. A few days later, Rebecca and I met and we clicked immediately. She had such a warm and calming presence. I knew her birth would be something special!

Rebecca was a first-time mom, so I thought the baby might take his sweet time to grace us with his presence, but I wasn’t expecting to him to be a full two weeks late! I got the call early Saturday morning that Rebecca was in active labor and heading to the birth center. While on my way there to meet them, I got a text from Andrea that she was at the birth center and Rebecca was already 9cm dilated! I was sure I was going to miss this birth! When I got there, I rushed into the room and…it was silent. I guess because I was feeling rushed and she was so far along already, I was expecting there to be this frenetic vibe in the room, but…it was just silent. Rebecca was amazing; she internalized each contraction, barely making a sound, and from the moment I arrived until the moment Josiah was born it was maybe 90 minutes. Mama was a rock star! One of my favorite moments from this birth was when Josiah was weighed and measured. We knew he was big, but the expression on mom’s face (which you’ll see below) says it all. Priceless!

You can read Rebecca’s birth story — in her own words — below.

Josiah’s Birth Story
9 lbs, 15 oz, 22 inches
Saturday, May 4, 2019 @1:50am

“Josiah was born on Saturday, May 4th. His due date was April 19th and I had been trying all the home remedies I could think of to induce labor, because I really wanted to deliver at our birth center, Baby + Co. Being pregnant was a surprise (we didn’t think we could have kids), so I planned this birth very carefully. I read a lot of books by Ina May Gaskin, and what really resonated with me was that the people that you have at your birth can influence your experience (e.g. if your birth team is apprehensive, more could go wrong vs. if they believe in the mom’s ability, she can accomplish more). This is why I wanted a birthing center and no interventions if possible.

But I also understood that anything could happen and some of it would be out of my control. But I wanted to set myself up for success, so I invested in a doula (last minute!) and a photographer and prayed nothing would put me in a high-risk category that would keep me from the birthing center. I had so much peace of mind having my doula in my corner— she was knowledgeable about all styles of births and I knew I’d have an advocate and a guide if I had to be transferred to the hospital. She gave me a workbook to go through as preparation. I read and listened to many different birth stories in books and podcasts, and I knew I wanted this to be an empowering experience for me. So I completed every inch of that workbook and created a word association list of all the things I wanted to be and feel at birth. I filled an entire page and had it hanging on my closet door for weeks before birth.


The day I went into labor, I had been walking around town and to Trader Joe’s. I had a feeling labor may start that day, because of how my dog was acting. She had been clingy for most of my pregnancy, but she that day was glued to me (she didn’t even want to go potty outside). The weather was warm and sunny. My best friend Rachel was in town and we spent the afternoon preparing meals to freeze and have in the fridge. Early in the evening, I plugged myself into my breast pump to try and induce labor. My midwife had attempted to sweep my membranes twice that week, but I wasn’t dilated enough to do a full sweep. Around 5:00pm, while pumping, I started having contractions. They were similar to the ones I’d been having for over a month, but this time they never stopped.

Time was elusive to me. I had no idea how much time had gone by. My husband was next to me the whole time, timing my contractions as they slowly continued to increase. My husband says I have a high tolerance for pain, so he didn’t trust me as a gauge. He kept telling me that we should call the midwife and go in but I was resistant. I didn’t think they were consistent enough and I knew that, generally, new moms go in too early and I didn’t want to do that. The energy at home was calm and supportive. Rachel braided my hair during early labor, and both she and my husband supported me as I made my way to the bed. I don’t remember much about what they did but they were present. It was quiet. I had a birth playlist but I didn’t think of it.

It wasn’t until one of my many trips to the bathroom (I had to go a lot it seemed!), when I had a strong urge to push, that I panicked. I was having contractions on my way down the hall, in the bathroom, on my way out, etc. and I still didn’t realize how far along I was. The intensity of the contractions had snuck up on me! I told my husband to call the birth center and let them know we were coming in. When I said that, some of my water seemed to break. We left quickly and the drive was quiet since it was the middle of the night.


Rachel tried to ask supportive questions but it was always during a contraction and I couldn’t talk, but I was trying to be nice. My husband was trying to drive fast and slow at the same time it seemed. We arrived at the birth center and I found out during my initial exam that I was basically fully dilated— I had been in transition already. My water broke more after the exam, right as I entered the birthing room. My doula arrived. My midwife began filling the tub and I went to the toilet. I labored there a little and then I wanted to go to the bed. I couldn’t make it across the room without a contraction. I had wanted to use to whole beautiful room to labor in— the bars, the balls, the stools, the tube, the big shower. But all I wanted in the moment was to get to the bed. Our photographer came. I labored on the bed, on my side, until Josiah was born! I remember all the gentle touches. I remember looking up at all the women around me, looking down at me, and feeling so safe. I wanted to appreciate their support so I would try to make eye contact and smile between contractions.

I mostly remember my husband Carl in my ear, reminding me to relax and breath after every pushing contraction came down. I was able to reach down and feel Josiah’s head a few times. It felt so strange— not like a head. He had a full head of hair but I remember it also feeling so squishy. I couldn’t tell how far along I was. I heard the midwife say things like, “This is good! He is slowly stretching you out.” Or, “You’re almost there. We see him!” but I couldn’t feel a difference and I wondered if they were just saying that to make me feel better. 🙂 And I will never forget the midwife’s words, “I got him”, and the relief I felt knowing it was almost over.

The biggest surprise for me was that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I mean, it was very difficult and painful. But I think I expected…I dunno…something close to death? And, I mean, maybe I thought about dying in some moments, but I think maybe the surprise is that I was blessed to have the empowering and beautiful holy experience that I wanted my birth to be.


Josiah was born around 4:00am. I don’t know how to describe my emotions the moment Josiah was born. I had an array of layered emotions— love, relief, shock, hope, calm, peace and wonder. He didn’t cry immediately— my midwife had to do a little hand suction—but then he did, although not for long. Rachel also mentioned that the midwife had to help pull out one of his shoulders. I had a small tear and they debated whether or not I needed stitches and then ended up giving me a few. When they first weighed Josiah, they said he was 10lbs, 4oz and 24 inches. The second midwife rechecked and listed him as 9lbs, 15oz.

The first person I called after Siah was born was my mother. We waited days before announcing on Facebook— I think my mother did before we did. This is their first grandchild and they were over the moon!

My friend Megan visited us at the birthing center and was the first person to hold Siah besides my birth team! We were kept twelve hours because of Josiah’s high respiratory rate and ended up being sent to the NICU for 48 hours for observation. I really did not want to go. I wondered if there was a way to refuse, but I didn’t really understand the risks and didn’t want to put my son in harm’s way just because of his mother’s aversion to the hospital system. The NICU is a challenging place, but we were supported by the staff there to breastfeed around the clock. They did a lot of tests, but no procedures, and finally sent us home two days later.

My recovery was good, but I tried to take it easy for as long as possible. My whole life I have been someone who is hard on myself and pushes myself. This experience really ushered in a desire for ease and gentleness in my relationship with myself. I allowed others to help me in new and uncomfortable ways, and I tried to accept help instead of doing everything on my own.

Motherhood has changed me. I thought I loved in deep and generous ways but I had no idea how much more there was. I often look at my son and feel so much love that I think to myself— do all mothers feel this? If so, I had no idea how much love there was in the world.

I work with kids and teens, and the ones that give you trouble are always my favorite, but I never really cared much for babies. I played nice with them but never understood how enamored some women were. Even while pregnant I thought I may not be that interested in my own infant until he was older. But, of course, that’s not the case. I’m 1000% smitten with him and other babies. My experience in the NICU made me want to volunteer to do skin-to-skin there one day when my time with my own has passed.”

  1. Chad says:

    This is so touching to me!!! And these photos, no words!!! Thank you so much for sharing such intimate moments with us.

  2. LuciWest says:

    Your photos are amazing! What an incredible insight into the whole "birthing process" – from the hard labor of the mother and the partner and whole team trying to be helpful all the way to the exhaustion and joy after the birth. This goes to show yet again that photos can say so much more than words.

  3. Myrah Duque says:

    Congratulations! Such a beautiful birth. What a magnificent partnership.

  4. Ashley Rollins says:

    Congratulations! I am always in awe of every woman who has ever given birth. It truly is a miracle!

  5. Rosey says:

    How wonderful that she was able to internailze contractions. I wish I could same the same, lolol!! She gets a medal in my book. Love how active dad is there too. My 2nd oldest was almost 10 lbs. He didn’t wear newborn clothes long. 😉

    • Nicole Bertrand says:

      Oh my gosh, me too Rosey! I was on the quiet side…but I also had an epidural! I don’t know what I would have sounded like if I tried to do it 100% naturally! Both of my girls were almost 10lbs as well!

  6. Sheri says:

    I just love this post so much. It is so honest, so open, so real. I relate to it so much. Congratulations. Motherhood changed me completely and really showed me how much of a blessing I have and how life can be so beautiful nd amazing with te love for a child. xoxo

    • Nicole Bertrand says:

      Thank you so much! I couldn’t agree more…having children definitely changes you!

  7. What a birth story! It’s such an incredible experience and it’s different for every woman which is why it’s always exciting to read/hear a birth story. Congratulations! Everyone did their best.

    • Nicole Bertrand says:

      Thank you Terri! Yes, the unknown is what I find so exciting about it. And everyone did amazing, ESPECIALLY mama!

  8. Heather says:

    I wish I would have documented my births. What an incredible way to look back on life being born.

  9. Cristina Petrini says:

    These life stories are really good for the soul. Are beautiful.

  10. Stacie says:

    That is so beautiful! I love how open you were with the story and the photos. Sharing the magic of such a personal journey with all of us is just wonderful.

    • Nicole Bertrand says:

      Thank you so much Stacie. I was so excited and honored when she wanted to share her birth story with everyone.

  11. kumamonjeng says:

    Birth is the most incredible experience for a mother, there are so many unforeseen cases and that’s pretty challenging. The moment we see the baby out, the joy is tremendous and you see the joy of tears for both parents.

  12. Nate says:

    This is amazing! Wow, I can always appreciate a good story and yet so honest and transparent!

  13. Kat&Phil says:

    Such an emotional and empowering story you’ve shared. What an incredible experience for this new family.

  14. Wow that is one big baby, well done to you and lovely photos to keep. I had triplets, after 3 single babies, which together weren’t much more than your one!

  15. Joanna says:

    What a nice birth story. And the photos are complementing it so beautifully. Birth is always such a special moment.

  16. Ashley Rollins says:

    I always love these birth stories. They’re so raw and intimate! Such a magical moment to capture.

  17. Garf says:

    What a nice birth story. I am enjoying all the photos…they are all beautiful.

  18. Monika says:

    What an incredible story! I’m in awe! The miracle of birth is so beautiful…

  19. Cindy Nico says:

    What a wonderful story. Such an amazing moment in Mom and Dad’s life

  20. What an amazing experience. I wish I could remember my birth stories in more detail. You did a great job.

  21. OMG you are so talented! I love how you have captured these stunning photos and not only has Rebecca has a wonderful story to tell about Josiah’s birth but some amazing photos to show as well

  22. Catherine says:

    What another incredible story you’ve captured. Such a precious moment in time…I wish them all the best!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Priceless is not a strong enough word! Thank you so much for helping me remember these amazing memories. I am forever changed!

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