Alyssa Botta’s Birth Story

It was the moment that I had been anticipating for days, weeks, and–let’s be honest–months. I was six days past my due date and minutes had started feeling like weeks to me. Now it was finally time. I was about to meet my baby girl.

A moment ago I was exhausted and wondered if I could do this. After all, my labor started 24 hours earlier and I hadn’t had any sleep. Then, my midwife Cindy quietly said, “Alyssa, reach down.” As I extended my arm, my hand swept across something firm. My eyes got big. “That’s your baby’s head. She’s almost here. You can do it.”

It was go time! I suddenly had an exhilarating surge of energy.  Three strong pushes and my baby came sliding out of me. While I exhaled, I looked at my husband who had this look of awe and adoration. You put little Addison into my arms. There she was, so warm, wet, soft, and smelling sweet. “She’s beautiful,” I thought. Maybe I said it out loud. I don’t know. In the moment I couldn’t take my eyes off of this miracle.  She laid next to me, screaming joyfully, and I felt so overwhelmed with gratitude that I was given this wonderful experience.

David saw the exact moment Addison took her first breath of life. I held her immediately, her soft baby skin on mine. Our parents were there in that remarkable moment when our daughter joined our family.  We were all there together. It was wonderful. Miraculous. And so beautiful.

Alyssa Botta had to choke back her tears as she shared her memory with us. We had the opportunity to ask Alyssa some questions about her birth experience with Breath of Life. We understand the importance of women telling their fearless stories about natural birth, because those stories get shared and build up confidence and power in other women. We all need more courage.

Alyssa, how did you know you wanted a natural birth experience?

It’s so special that I get to share my story with others, because I was first became interested in natural birth when my best friend was transparent with me about her natural birth story. I was never someone who liked hospitals and doctor offices. So, when I was pregnant with my first baby I started looking for a birth center, and really wanted to have a waterbirth. At the time, I didn’t live near Breath of Life, so my son was born at another center.

At Breath of Life, I loved the inclusive and home-like experience. I was encouraged to include whoever would be a support for me throughout my pregnancy and birth. That appealed to me, as well as just how comfortable and at home it all felt. The birth suites are gorgeous. It was the best decision I could have made.

Tell us about birth day. What was it like for you?

Long! Just getting to the day felt like forever. We originally thought she was coming 2 weeks before she arrived. I had two real-feeling bouts of false labor. Because of that, when I woke up at 3:30 in the morning that Friday and I was having contractions, I didn’t wake anyone in the house. It was Clayton’s last day of 1st grade, so I just got everyone up at the normal time and got him to school. By 8am, my contractions had slowed, so I did what any normal woman would do. David and I went shopping! I mean, I have an addiction to Target, and walking should help progress things, so it was a win/win. Nothing happened, except I was tired and needed breakfast.

By lunchtime, David decided to go to work. Around 3:00, my contractions starting picking up with a lot more intensity. I finally called David and asked him to come back home, but he took his time because he thought it was no big deal. It was like two hours later and he came in the door with Mexican food for dinner. In the end, that turned out to be fine because my contractions slowed again.

That is so frustrating! You were now more than 12 hours from the start of your contractions, did you feel discouraged?

More like desperate. Breath of Life had given me a list of ideas to encourage labor. One of them was pumping, so I decided to give it a try. After twenty minutes my contractions were intense and right on top of each other.

We called in to let you know that things were picking up and you were ready for us when we arrived at 10:30 that night. Both sets of our parents lived nearby, so they also came at that time and waited in the Family Room. We were also so eager for Addison’s arrival.

You mentioned you wanted a waterbirth. Is that what happened?

Funny, a baby is going to do what a baby is going to do. I was dilated and having intense contractions when I got there, so I labored on land for awhile until I was finally able to get in the tub and labor in there. At that point my mom and mother-in-law came in for a little while to be with me, but my labor started slowing in the tub. That wasn’t the plan. So, the moms left, I got out of the tub, and Cindy, my amazing midwife, was finally able to help get my water to break. After that I labored on the bed. During my whole pregnancy Addison wasn’t properly aligned with the birth canal. Cindy had me use this peanut-shaped ball during labor, which helped the baby line up better. Once she did, things got more intense and sped up really quickly. I didn’t get back into the tub after that. So, no waterbirth with Addison, but in the end, it didn’t really matter.

How was postpartum for you?

You all are my heros! I had such a faster recovery with Addison than with my son. Maybe that’s partially due to her being my second baby, but I attribute it to your methods. Immediately after delivery I got the shot to help deliver the placenta faster which helps with postpartum bleeding and recovery. How Cindy handled the postpartum had such a major difference on how I felt after having the baby.

And you did delayed umbilical cord clamping, right?

Yes. We wanted all the benefits of the cord blood running through the cord after birth to increases hemoglobin levels and improve iron in the first several months of her life. The best part was, when it was time, you allowed David to cut the cord, which was such an incredible experience for him.

You mentioned your false labor. Did you end up coming into the center?

Oh, yes. In the middle of the night. I was so embarrassed, but Cindy never judged me. She was super encouraging about it. She was like, “Don’t feel embarrassed or worried. Any time you think you’re going into labor, please call us without hesitation.” She was so patient. More patient than me, really.

Was there a time during your pregnancy when you thought maybe you wouldn’t be able to deliver at Breath of Life?

Yes, actually. I had really horrendous heartburn, which wouldn’t typically be an issue; however, I also had really low iron. I was trying to tough out the heartburn with an over-the-counter antacid that was high in calcium. The calcium was blocking my iron absorption and preventing my iron supplements from being effective. I almost had to leave the birth center because my iron levels were so low. This is one of the things I love about Breath of Life, though. Your knowledge about natural, holistic options. You recommended Papaya enzymes as a natural remedy for my heartburn. They were much more effective and actually helped my body absorb iron. I felt so much better.

Would you use Breath of Life again and, if so, why?

Absolutely. Everyone is so knowledgeable. We got really solid explanations and answers to every question we asked. When David came to appointments, the staff didn’t just ask me how I was feeling, they included him and wanted to make sure he had his dad questions answered. Same with Clayton. Everyone loved on him and talked to him about being a big brother. Breath of Life gave us this great bag of swag before we left with Addison. In it was an adorable onesie that said, “I was born at Breath of Life.” I couldn’t wait for her to wear it. The whole experience was so personal.

I would encourage anyone to give birth here, if possible. Not all birth centers have the accreditation that Breath of Life has. You have incredibly high standards. And then it’s the little things that also made the experience amazing. From something as small as aromatherapy to the layout of the beautiful birth suites–I mean, every room has its own birth tub–everything is so incredible. Then, throw in the kindness of the midwives and their openness to alternative approaches to health, pregnancy, labor, and birth, and you’ve got something really special.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Alyssa. May other women be encouraged by your honesty and transparency.  We are grateful for you!