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Knoxville Birth Photographer |Kaiser Roseville | Birth Story of Israel Prince by Mom

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

I have been trying to finish this story for the last five months...but it has proven more difficult than I thought it would be, writing an experience so personal, so intimate, so sacred. But at the same time, it an experience and a message I so desperately want to share with other women: That birth can and should be beautiful. That you can walk away from your birth experience feeling strong and empowered. That your body was created and designed to be able to give birth! To a human being, that was so miraculously and perfectly knit in your womb. The narrative of birth should never begin or end with fear. So, with that said, it is my absolute honor and joy to share with you the beautiful, positive, and life-changing birth story, of Israel Prince.

The night before I went into labor, I sat in bed in tears as I cried to Prince and told him how ready I was for this baby boy to just come. I was at the point in my pregnancy where I finally felt fully ready- no more fear, no more questioning, no more preparation- nothing left but the end of pregnancy reality: I was extremely huge, extremely swollen, and extremely tired. I was 38 weeks along to the day. But I knew I had to let go and let my body and baby do their thing (because our bodies truly do know...and our babies come...when they’re ready).

So. I woke up on August 1st, at 38 weeks and one day. It started out like any other day: I got out of bed to go the bathroom (and go pee for what felt like the millionth time, per usual!). This time, I noticed a bit of blood. I didn’t want to get too excited because I knew it was likely ‘normal’ at this point in pregnancy to spot a bit. So after going to the bathroom, I walked back into our bedroom and casually told Prince. His face lit up and asked if I thought this was it and if we should do anything. I couldn’t hold back a smile, but rolled my eyes and told him it was probably not anything to get excited about and that we could keep an eye on it throughout the day just in case. We got ready and left the house to run some errands and then grab lunch. As we were walking into our first stop (Target of course!), I felt a GUSH of something. Enough to stop me in my tracks and immediately go to the restroom to check. And sure enough, it was my bloody show. I was slightly worried at the sight of that much blood, but knew that it was most likely it. But I convinced myself that even if it was that, that it could still take my body a good week to go into labor. I was in total denial. But I told Prince, and we decided to call Kaiser after finishing our shopping, and headed over to confirm that everything was fine, just in case.

We got to triage and got settled into a tiny little room where I figured they would just quickly check me and let me know if this was the start of labor or not (It was around noon and I was hungry and ready for lunch!!). I was counting on a quick ten minute check and then we would be on our way. Definitely not the case. Almost two hours and lots of sitting around waiting later, and they confirmed it was mostly likely my mucus plug and that I should continue to hydrate, rest, and just go about our day as normal. So we went to our favorite Indian restaurant to grab lunch, and I called my mom to tell her on what was going on. She was convinced this was it, and cancelled her plans for that night. I insisted that she didn’t need to do that because there was NO way I was having baby for like another week. I was totally in denial you guys! I was seriously convinced that we had at least another week and no one was going to tell me otherwise


While we were at the restaurant, I began to feel crampy and even went to the bathroom because I wasn’t feeling well. They were period-like cramps and it caught me off guard because it had been awhile since I had felt those, obviously. I got back to the table and it dawned on me that what I was feeling were contractions! They weren’t very consistent and I didn’t notice too them too much. (Up until this point I had only experienced Braxton Hicks, which don’t ‘hurt,’ but these were clearly different.) So we took our time finishing our lunch and then headed back home.

I had plans to meet with a birth videographer, who was a friend of a friend, to talk about her shooting our birth. We didn’t know each other, but our mutual friend had reached out to me that week telling me about this friend of hers that was starting her birth videography business and was looking for a mama that was due in August to do her first birth. Up until this point I had no plans of having a video done because financially, it just wasn’t possible. I so badly wanted to have record of his birth (with professional photos and video) but we just couldn’t afford it. But God knew. And what a sweet, sweet gift He already had in the making! We met that afternoon and I instantly knew I wanted Justine to do our birth video. While we sat and chatted, my contractions were still coming in waves, but I wasn’t really giving them much thought. By the time I would notice I was having one, it would almost be over. We finished up, made our game plan for when I went into labor, and I think we both left thinking we wouldn’t see each other again for awhile. Writing this all out, I’m laughing at how much I was in denial. I was literally in labor while we met.


So Prince came and picked me up from the coffee shop around 4:30 pm, and we had plans to clean up the house, do laundry, and get our room ‘ready’ as I wanted to labor for as long as possible at home. I asked him to run a bath for me so that I could relax for a bit and bounced on my birthing ball while I waited. I ordered tea lights off of Amazon that I wanted to bring in my birth bag to have at the hospital, literally AS I was having consistent contractions. So yep, was seriously still convinced this was not the real thing. (Side note: the tea lights were delivered the day he was born!)


My mom came around 5:30 and sat on our bed as I bounced on my ball and focused on my breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, out for eight. As we were talking, she would ask if I was having a contraction, and we both noticed that they were actually coming pretty consistently and that I should start timing them. I began to time them using my app (Freya app- best app ever!!) At 6:30 pm it told me that I was in established labor. My heart skipped a beat. There is absolutely NO WAY! They were annoying but not painful. I got in the bath for a bit but was way too uncomfortable sitting through the contractions (did I mention I was huge?) so I turned on the shower instead. I had Prince stay with me and he continued to track each contraction. They were now each over a minute long, coming every. two. minutes. I was getting a lot more uncomfortable and couldn’t really focus in the shower, so I got out, got dressed into something comfortable and got back onto my birth ball. But the next contraction that came felt like it had just overlapped the last one and I panicked. I called Prince over and told him I needed him to help me through them now. He asked me what I needed him to do and I just burst into tears, because it finally hit me that I WAS in actual labor and it was all happening so quickly. Much quicker than I had anticipated. I asked him to bring my blow dryer in so I could dry my hair (yes you guys, I still thought I had ‘time’ to dry and curl my hair) but quickly realized when I stood up to start blow drying my hair that it was out of the question. My mom came in and said she thought it was definitely time to call our doula and birth videographer and let them know we were heading to the hospital. But I wanted to labor longer at home and it felt way too soon to already be going to the hospital. I was so worried about getting there and them telling me I wasn’t dilated as far along as I thought. I also had a lot of anxiety about giving birth at a hospital in general- although I worked through a lot of those fears throughout my pregnancy and let go of my ideal birth of having him at home- but I think that had to do with my resistance in going, too.


Prince and my mom began calling and texting our birth team and put our bags in the car. I stubbornly got dressed in what I wanted to labor in. But at this point the contractions had me on the floor, so I was crawling around the room to make sure I had everything I wanted before leaving. Every time a contraction would come over me it would literally pull my body down with it...it’s so crazy how our bodies will take the lead when we surrender and allow it to do what it needs to do! I made my way out to the car, got into the backseat and laid down, and we drove to the hospital. Longest ten minute drive ever. We got there and my mom ran inside to get me a wheelchair and they wheeled me in. As we went through the doors I remember thinking, “This is really it. The next time I’ll be walking out of these doors, I will be holding my son.” It was so surreal. So much of this entire process for me was solely about surrendering and trusting the Lord with everything I was holding onto. All of my fears, my expectations, and pre-conceived ideas of what this pregnancy and now birth should look like. The unknown, the process, the outcome. And as we went through those sliding glass doors, all I felt was peace.


It must have been obvious that I was in active labor at this point because they just buzzed us in with no questions asked. We got to triage and they took me to a room so that they could check how far I was dilated. This was probably the part I had the hardest time with. I don’t like being told what to do to begin with, and then you add active labor into the mix, and absolutely NO ONE is gonna tell me what I have to do but I reluctantly crawled onto the bed and the nurse checked me, and said I was already 6 centimeters dilated! I was shocked and relieved at the same time. They strapped a monitor on my belly to listen to baby’s heartbeat and then the midwife on call came in to introduce herself and do an ultrasound to confirm that baby’s head was down. This is where a lot of the experience gets fuzzy for me. When you give birth unmedicated, going into “labor land” is a real thing, and at this point I was in it. I do remember strongly telling her and everyone in the room that he had been head down for the last five weeks straight and asked if they could bring my husband in and if I could please just get to my room.


I remember storming into my room and immediately taking my dress off because it felt SO hot. I was in my own world, just focusing on breathing through each contraction and finding whatever position felt most natural to labor in. I kept up my breathing and stayed calm and allowed each contraction to wash over me. My belly was so incredibly big at this point that any standing position was just not happening. I mostly sat on the birth ball and squeezed my mom or Prince’s hands as the contractions came. So much of active labor until I transitioned is still a blur. But I do remember my midwife and the nurses being SO supportive of my desire to labor unmedicated and gave me the space to do so. They followed our birth plan and never asked questions. They intermittently monitored his heartbeat and were so helpful in helping me find comfortable positions to labor in.


I knew I wanted to try laboring in the shower (my only option since the hospital didn’t have a birthing tub) because being in water normally calms me...but I wasn’t in the shower for long before I suddenly felt the urge to push, My body kind of just beared down and began pushing, but all of the sudden I panicked a bit mentally- I did NOT feel ready or prepared to do this. It was a wave of realization that washed over me: there was no turning back, and pushing this baby out was the ONLY way out of this (literally). My midwife knelt down in front of me in the shower and asked if I’d like her to brake my bag of waters since it was still intact said that doing so might help me progress a bit. I just sat there, struggling to make a decision. Part of me didn’t want to do anything, because progression meant pushing, and I was scared. But part of me wanted her to just do it and get it over with! I knew I needed to push through the fear and surrender to the process. So they helped get me out of the shower and walked me towards the bed. Suddenly, I had a big contraction and felt a ton of pressure, and all of the sudden my bag of waters burst...everywhere.


They helped me up onto the bed and my midwife checked me and said I was at 7cm, almost 8 and everyone was excited. But I told her that I NEEDED to push. My body was beginning to push and I could not fight it. She said that I needed to try and not push until I was fully dilated. Up until this point laboring was completely manageable, but now, trying not to push as my body literally began pushing with each contraction was difficult. I labored for an hour that way- trying my hardest not to push and just breathing through contractions. She checked me again and I was fully dilated! I could finally push with a purpose. I ended up getting on my back and sitting up with my legs against the birthing bar. I was so against giving birth on my back- but it turns out you do whatever feels best in the moment- and I was exhausted at this point. I had wanted to use the birthing bar to hold myself up and squat, but it was way too tiring for me to squat with my big belly.


They put a tiny monitor on baby’s head because they said his heart rate was starting to slow a bit with each contraction. She mentioned that his head was stuck underneath my pelvic bone. I was still in my own world and did not understand the intensity of everything that was going on in the moment, but trusted my midwife and my body as she calmly coached me through each push. Everyone in the room was cheering me on at this point! I believe I had been pushing for almost two hours at this point, and felt like pushing was getting me absolutely nowhere. I remember thinking that it was supposed to be the easy part! But everyone in the room kept cheering me on and reassured me that I was making such much progress. The next contraction my midwife told me to give it everything I had, and I did. At 2:56 am, on August 2nd, Israel was born.


His cord was wrapped around his neck so she quickly unwrapped it before putting him on my chest. I was in complete shock that he was here. As they worked to get him to open up those lungs and cry, I was overwhelmed with so many emotions. I thought for sure I would burst into tears the moment he came out, but I didn’t. I was still shaky and trying to catch my breath, and it took me a few minutes to catch up with the reality of the moment. And then I sobbed. Probably from the mix of the shock, disbelief, and pure exhaustion I was feeling. I was so glad it was over, and so amazed that I DID IT, and so overjoyed that he was finally here. He cried, very loudly I might add, and they brought him back over to me and laid him on my chest. I just stared at him laying on my chest. I was in awe. Our boy was finally here. 


We enjoyed skin to skin and everyone sat together and just enjoyed the moment. I was exhausted, so exhausted, but also not? Probably from the rush of

I was experiencing! I felt no pain. Only excitement and disbelief that I seriously just gave birth! My body did that! It was a crazy, overwhelming, empowering feeling. Everyone but Prince left and the three of us got settled into our room. We went home the next day, walking out of those same doors we came in, with our Israel Prince. And so it began- the next brand new chapter of our lives as a family of three.



Justine is a birth photographer/filmmaker and doula in the greater Knoxville area, serving Maryville, Greenback, Madisonville, Loudon, Lenoir City, Oak Ridge, Fountain City, Townsend, Sevierville, Strawberry Plains, Gatlinburg, etc. Justine is passionate about physiological birth the way God designed it and thus specializes in home and natural births. Interested in hiring Justine for your birth, click here to get in touch.


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