Valentina & Filippo

Right around the time we found out we were pregnant with baby #2 we also heard that the long awaited birth center was just about to open its doors to women (and babies) pretty close to our house. YAY! We took it as a sign that we were indeed meant to welcome our second child there and .... boy were we right! It couldn't have been a more perfect experience!

We had welcomed our first child in a hospital setting and had tried it hard to make it as natural and unobtrusive as we possibly could. Looking forward at our second pregnancy we knew exactly what we wanted and we were so excited to welcome the three wonderful midwives as part of our birth team (next to our doulas, Lauren & Britt, and all the wonderful practitioners that helped us along the way) and to know that them and the birth center were there to help us achieve our goal of a gentle natural birth.

Fast forward to week 37 of our pregnancy.
Baby #1 had joined us right at 37 weeks so we were all pretty excited and kind of expecting something to happen again right around that time for baby #2 as well. Labor had been pretty fast (about 5 hours of active labor). Midwives had mentioned that 2nd labor could go much faster (but no guarantees there ;-)) but we could not quite believe it would go much faster than an already short one but anyway just in case we were glad to be just 5 minutes away from the birth center.

And sure enough, at 4am on December 14th, a few days into week 37, my waters broke! I woke up Gio(vanni) and told him...we looked at each other with a big smile. It's such a magical feeling knowing that it is happening. That you will soon become parents. That this baby is getting ready to make his or her debut into the world.
I went to text the midwives & my doulas and Gio went to install the car seat (:D). Nancy texted back right away and we quickly agreed that no action was needed. Fluid was clear and I had absolutely no contractions so we decided to chat again later.
I went ahead and got an early breakfast, packed my bag and then tried to relax.
Right around 6:30AM I started feeling some really really mild cramps (but a significant amount of rectal pressure ... baby must have been super low already) so got in touch again with my doula and Nancy and once more we decided to wait it off since it was nothing noticeable and to meet at the birth center around 8AM to get the antibiotics going (since I was GBS+).
Contractions started to come in at 7:15ish and within a couple of them I could no longer talk through them but they were still pretty erratic and the pressure was absolutely tolerable.
At 7:50 we got in the car to get to the birth center and contractions were definitely starting to pick up but I was still able to fully recover in between and complain about traffic being slow :). Sarah met us downstairs, Gio went to park while we made our way up, stopping a few times as contractions were coming in.
When we got to the birth suite at around 8:10 Sarah checked me and I was about 5cm (I had asked not to know) so she decided to fill the tub, start me on antibiotics and see how things would progress.
But within a couple of minutes things got pretty intense. The homey cozy atmosphere of the birth center allowed me to fully relax and for labor to really kick in.
Our amazing doula Lauren made her appearance shortly after and her and Sarah together with Gio were amazing (could have not done it without them) at helping me through what felt like a continuous giant contraction that lasted about 30 minutes and took me all the way to feeling ready to breath the baby out (no ... we never made it into the tub).
I labored for the whole 30 minutes on a supported all four (thanks Britt, Jane & Rachel for all the yoga poses!!!!) till I felt the urge to breath (push) him out.
During this time Lauren helped me controlling the sounds I was making and shifting back to a deep, low sound every time intensity would make me go high and loud.
During those 30 mins I quickly went through transition and that's also when I hit a wall of pain, discomfort and I felt I could not do it any longer. That the pain was unbearable. Sarah and Lauren brought me back to the room with their calm voice. They told me they were all there for me. And their support really made me feel stronger and open and soft and that it was time for me to have this baby.
I was recognizing a lot of sensations from my first birth so I knew exactly he was about to come out and that he was coming fast. Sarah and Lauren asked me to switch to side lying position because he was coming out too fast and both of us were showing signs of distress. After changing position i kept breathing and bearing down as contractions kept coming. I know Gio was ready to catch him and I was so ready to meet him as well.
A few short minutes later baby Filippo was born at 8:49AM at 7lb 8oz after roughly 90 minutes of active labor: what a ride!

photos by Lauren Buckley Miller


Gio caught him and immediately hand him over to me. I could not believe it: our baby boy was with us! And he was so perfect and tiny!
All the fear and discomfort immediately felt so far away and forgotten as I was hugging and smelling my newborn.
Sarah checked him and me and we were both doing perfect! Hurray for perineum support as there was absolutely no tearing this time around!
Gio and I cuddled our little one as the placenta came out and Sarah's checkup continued. The cord was intact and was not cut, by Gio, till couple hours later. My placenta saved for encapsulation.
Differently from my first labor post-partum contractions were incredibly intense (and aggravated from breastfeeding) so that required some pain medications.

The energy in the room was amazing. Both Lauren and Sarah had those huge smiles on their face. Gio and I felt amazing, happy and ecstatic. I was feeling strong and powerful from giving birth once more. Such a bliss.

All the checkups felt so natural and unobtrusive as the environment was much more welcoming and intimate than the one experienced at the hospital

A shower, a french toast, tons of nursing and skin-to-skin, and a lovely nap all together in the big bed followed. A few hours later we were ready to head home with our baby … unbelievable!

We have been adjusting as a family of four and truly enjoying most of it. Many things have been a lot easier this time around both mentally and physically. Some of the challenges more around introducing a newborn to his older sister and the immense shift in her world.

The care and presence of the midwives has been amazing also post-partum. Seeing them in the comfort of our home was a true blessing and we felt incredibly supported. Opening our doors to Julie and Sarah such a pleasure. Sharing our new parenting experience with Nancy and other SF birth center families the icing on the cake!
Sarah in particular will forever feel like a family friend. Her big smile during our birth is something that I will keep in my memories. The love she showered Filippo within seconds of him being born something that I am sure he will keep in his memories.

Being able to prepare for this birth and follow my intuition has been such a powerful experience and hope every woman out there meets a Sarah, a Nancy, a Julie, a Lauren, a Britt! You ladies rock!