Mateo's Birth Story

Our second child. Recorded here within a week of giving birth.

We slow stocked so much in anticipation. Steamy bone broths, a potent ginger turmeric tea that went down like a yummy fire elixir, mixed rose water massage oil, decked our rooms with strands of peaceful twinkly lights. Piled soft blankets and provisions galore. So the wait from ten days past the expected due date mounted sweet suspense in our hearts. I rose creaky and in full belly bloom in the early mornings, trusting in the timing of in all, but wondering, wondering..

The first rhythmic mellow contractions came about 10:00 pm Christmas. There was so much to savor about the day. Both sets of grandparents! Hot pot feast. Homemade roasted hazelnut spread on the kitchen counter. Our tummies warmed and the house was singing and comfortable. I was relaxed. We texted to let Lael, the midwife know, and I was able to fall and stay asleep through the night. 

I went on a couple long lazy walks, a couple each day as it neared ten days past the 'due date'.

I went on a couple long lazy walks, a couple each day as it neared ten days past the 'due date'.

What else was there to do the next morning at 5:00 am but make granola? It was so cold out, our backyard hill silver with frost. I burnt half of the bottom pan in the oven. Ian insisted he liked it that way. The tightenings came and went. The home was humming. I was happy to be here, among our friendly colorful clutter, barefoot. It felt like a luxury, being able to roam in and out of our rooms as I pleased. To water the soaring flowering bulbs at our kitchen sink. Beauty really does calm me. The floppy soft pink roses my mom brought. The cluster of mistletoe hanging festive in our hallway that Ian forage found on hike date just days before. The sun rose and streamed hazy winter light into our kitchen and all along I tried to breathe and acknowledge what was happening with a nervous giddiness. How many hours would it take for my body to fully open wide enough for baby to pass? No way of telling. I noticed after each contraction lifted my mind felt increasingly bleary and blissful. I had heard of this. Theta brain waves. That the momentary peaks of pain are designed to be followed by bouts of rewarding slow and deep trance-like relief. I felt like sleeping. Under our cozy comforter every once in a while I'd writhe with the intensity of a contraction, try to un-tense, then doze contented. Was I supposed to be up and about to "encourage" the pace of what I was feeling? I called Lael to check. Nap if you are able, that's good she assured! I hung up fully intending to but about fifteen minutes later I just had to be upright. Two or so more contractions in our bedroom and I noticed they had lasted longer, almost a minute. I passed Ian on the way to our bathroom with a crooked disheveled ponytail and stated in warning the word nauseous. I threw up just after getting to the sink, over and over, shaking. This was it, I knew all would accelerate from here. After washing I asked Ian to call Lael. Tell her to please come now!

River's bag packed for my parents, who would care for her. We we a bit nervous how she’d do apart from us.

River's bag packed for my parents, who would care for her. We we a bit nervous how she’d do apart from us.

Looking back, that was when active labor likely started. We weren't keeping track, timing, or calculating, but the waves were coming on stronger and more sweeping. I decided I'd just focus on getting through the one at hand, one by one, one at a time. Just this one. Don't think about the others to come come and how many there would be and how long it would all last. Just this one. Focus here. I was sweating and moving about and speaking in short, low one-word directives. It was just past noon. Also coming up.. River's usual nap time when we would always lay together as I nursed her to sleep. I wavered whether I could do it. The contingency plan was for my parents to play with her out and about and eventually drive her to sleep in her car seat. Minutes later, something switched, and instead of wondering if i could pull it off or not, I suddenly wanted her out of the house fast. Her bag was packed. She had been so sweet all morning, with Ian explaining that mama was working hard to meet new baby soon and needed space and extra lovies. She knew what was happening. My one nervousness was care for River during labor, as Ian and I have only been apart from her for less than an hour her entire life, only with grandparents. They left soon after and I felt reassured she was in such good hands. 

We prepped the sunny side room for labor..

We prepped the sunny side room for labor..

This sweet silly song my four year old niece is in love with looped over and over on my phone's Spotify app, Boom Clap by the Mailes sisters. Not sure why it gave me such confidence and cool comfort. A connection to my sister. In the side room, I asked Ian to pray aloud for me as everything intensified. I was on my knees slouched over the low bed, hung onto the hanging hammock and then for one contraction I felt like pushing, rather, I felt like my body couldn't help but push during it. I told Ian immediately after and he let out a nervous-ish laugh. For a second I wondered if we would be having an unintentional, unassisted home birth. One more of those followed and I asked him to call and check where Lael was. She was at the stop sign, just thirty seconds from our house.

Sitting down on the bed, Lael gave me the warmest smile when she came in. She was so wonderful and reassured me that if I felt like pushing to of course follow the instinct. This gave me instant confidence to listen to what my body was doing in that very moment. I was ready. There was not even a need to check dilation as I was showing signs the baby had descended far enough. Relief. Instinctually releasing sounds during the height of surges helped immensely. I remember asking Ian for any piece of sturdy furniture that I could lean on. He brought River’s wooden high chair in from the kitchen and I remember gripping the slats, enduring the intensity of the last few contractions. I could feel the baby moving lower and lower with more wild pressure. My water broke and I reached to feel a head emerging. For the last baring down I was on my knees bedside when our baby boy was born. Gently, warm, wet cradled in my hands. He lay on his back between my legs and gave his first cry.

Sweet fresh born boy was so bright-eyed and alert.

Sweet fresh born boy was so bright-eyed and alert.


A boy. Mateo. 


We clamored into the soft bed together, him on my chest while Lael checked me and we waited for the placenta to come. 

A boy! Mateo.

Wonder and awe.

He arrived at 1:55 pm.

22 minutes after our midwife arrived.

My body was beautifully intact. Labor had been incredibly swift and purposeful and straightforward - with the most marvelous surprise to end it.

An alert baby eyes wide open gazing, gazing. 


A full head of dark wispy hair.

In the lingering afternoon light we lay in the bed, blinds slightly askew, the room softly dim and with a luscious celebratory coziness. 

Still sleepy eyed from her carseat nap, River was carried into the room in her dada's arms to meet her brother, now bundled against me. I'll never forget the sweetly tentative, curious expression that lit up her face when she realized what had been inside mama's belly all these months.


That's the story of the day we became a family of four. 

I was so grateful. It was more than what I had hoped for. It was so vastly different than what I had experienced and endured with our first. 

A gift, I murmured.
A gift, we decided. 

The winter sun set early, leaving us exhausted in our bliss.

heartAlexa Heung