Welcome to the World Little One

This post is long, long overdue. But I figured since this little girl (yes, I said GIRL! Surprise!) has been with us for almost a month, it’s about time I share her birth story. 

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I rolled out of bed at 3:45 the morning of Tuesday, February 9th to pee for the umpteenth time. I was half asleep, but I noticed my back cramping as I crawled back in bed.  

As I tried to fall back asleep, the cramping returned. Still feeling pretty unsure, I whipped out my phone and started to time the cramping. I laid in bed, scrolling through Instagram and timing the waves as they continued to come and go. They were definitely minor, but they were coming about every 8 minutes and lasting around 45 seconds.

Somewhere around 4:15am, Taylor rolled over to find me on my phone. He was scheduled to go into work that morning, and when I told him that I may be having contractions, he immediately perked up and started to time them with me. We both knew that labor for a first time mom could potentially last more than 24 hours, so we laid in bed together talking as they continued to come and go, doing our best to rest but at the same time full of excitement. 

For the past few days, there had been a few signs that labor might *possibly* be near, but because I was just one day shy of 39 weeks pregnant, I was still convinced it would be at least another couple of weeks before the baby decided to come. So even as the contractions arrived in a steady pattern, I continued to think there was no way this could be the real deal. 

Around 6am, Taylor mentioned that maybe he should call into work for the day. Because I wasn’t actually in pain (I’m going to just go ahead and call it very minor discomfort) I was still incredibly reluctant for him to take the day off. Luckily, he ignored my intuition and made the executive decision to stay home.

Around this time I decided to text my doula, Candace, to give her the heads up that I might possibly be in early labor. I still didn’t feel like I was anywhere close to needing extra support yet, but since she lives about an hour away, I wanted to make sure to keep her in the loop. She confirmed that my cramping definitely sounded like contractions and echoed what we already knew about relaxing, eating a good breakfast and resting up, since we had no idea how long labor would last.

The contractions kept on coming, and Taylor brought me breakfast in bed. I chowed down on breakfast taquitos and guzzled down a Dr. Pepper (#birthfuel) and we continued to lay in bed, watching TV and timing contractions. Somewhere between 7 and 9am, the contractions began coming closer together, and went from “mild discomfort” to a bit more “hold on I need a second to deal with this.” Even still, they were nothing like I’d expected them to be, so I was even hesitant to call the birth center claiming to be in labor. But as they continued to get closer and closer, Taylor insisted that I call. 

I felt ridiculous as I dialed, but the midwife on call said it sounded like I was making good progress, and to continue resting and check back in when things began to pick up in intensity. For the last few weeks of my pregnancy, baby was hanging out sunny side up, so she also suggested that if I was feeling good it may be a good idea to go to the chiropractor, just to help labor along.

At this point I was feeling pretty good. The intensity of labor was starting to pick up, but contractions were still more of a nuisance than painful. I’d been having regular chiropractic visits since I was about 20 weeks along, and they’d helped tremendously to keep me comfortable, so I made a quick call to their office. I was in luck, and they were able to squeeze me in at 11:45.

Around 10am, I decided it was probably time to start getting “ready.” I’d been laying around in bed since my very first contraction, so as soon as I was up and moving around I could feel labor start to pick up. I hopped in the shower and yelled at Taylor to start the timer with each contraction. The hot water seemed to dull the intensity, but they were still coming every 4-5 minutes.

I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, so we planned on coming home after the chiropractor. I had even called my doula to ask her to meet us back at our house around 12:30 when we were done. But as I started blowdrying my hair, Taylor suggested maybe we should throw our bags into the car, just in case for some reason we needed to go straight from the chiropractor to the birth center. We both agreed it couldn’t hurt, and he began loading up the car as I finished “getting ready.” (Getting ready is in quotes because it is literally LAUGHABLE that I felt the need to blow-dry and straighten my hair at this point. L to the O to the L.) 

At 11:30am we hopped in the car and headed to the chiropractor. On the 15 minute drive to the chiropractor’s office, I had 4 contractions in the front seat. That blew. Like, if you need to extract information from a terrorist, make his uterus contract and strap him in down in a seatbelt because having to sit still when you’re in labor is cruel and unusual punishment. They were undoubtedly getting closer together, and in the back of my mind I began wondering if we’d be going back home at all. 

We arrived at the chiropractor right on time, and though the visit is kind of a blur, I do remember having lots of contractions in her office. Labor had really picked up, and I couldn’t even make it through the adjustment (around 3 minutes) without having to jump off the table to work through it. We checked out quickly, and as we walked back to the car, I told Taylor there was no way in hell I was getting back in that front seat, and instead, I hopped in the backseat on all fours. 

At this point, contractions were starting to feel almost constant. I don’t know if it was the chiropractor, the natural progress of my labor, or just a combination of the two – but it felt like they were coming one after the other when I was in that backseat. I’d stopped talking and was full on labor moaning when Taylor asked me if we should just go straight to the birth center. I have no memory of actually responding to him, but 

Taylor sped to the birth center as my contractions continued to get closer together. At this point they were about 2 minutes apart, and talking was totally out of the question. You know how you see videos of women in labor moaning? There’s a reason for that. It was almost like it was physically impossible for me to have a contraction without that low moan. As he drove, Taylor called my mom, his parents, and our doula and told them all that labor was in full swing and we were headed straight to the birth center.

We arrived at the birth center around 12:30pm, and man it felt SO good to get out of the car. It seemed like for most of my labor, the best way to deal with the contractions was to be standing bent over a surface (a bed, countertop, whatever) swaying back and forth, and not being able to fully do that in the car absolutely sucked. So the relief I felt just from being out of the car and up and moving was amazing.

In the exam room, Meagan, our midwife, checked my progress to find that I was at 5 cm. Even though 5cm doesn’t sound like a lot, at the time I was in such a fog that I really didn’t think anything of the number. I just knew that things were moving fast.

From this point on, my memory of everything feels a little foggy. It’s almost as if my brain checked out so my body could do the work, and it didn’t check back in until I heard that baby’s cry. As we headed upstairs to the birthing suite, our midwife suggested that maybe we go for a walk to help things progress, but as soon as I walked into that room, I was hit with an intense contraction and I knew we wouldn’t be leaving that room without a baby. They were now coming about every minute, and after laboring through a few more, our midwife checked me again. And sure enough, I’d gone from 5cm to 8cm in less than half an hour. 

I didn’t have any set birth “plans,” but I knew I was interested in at least trying a water birth. As they began filling up the birthing tub, I went from active labor to transition, and I was in desperate need of some relief. Someone suggested I try getting in the shower while we waited. Most of my labor seemed to be concentrated in my lower back, so letting the hot water wash over me felt amazing. Both Candace and Taylor were right there with me the entire time, rubbing my back and cheering me on through every contraction.

A little after 2pm, the tub was ready, and as soon as I sunk in to that warm water I felt relief. Even though contractions were coming hard and fast, I was able to relax and breathe better in between, making everything feel more manageable. 

I labored in the tub for what felt like ten minutes, but was actually over an hour. Pretty soon I started feeling the urge to push. The “urge” to push was the weirdest sensation. I’ll admit that I was scared, and each time the urge came, I didn’t know whether to fight it or just lean in to it. After some words of encouragement and some good labor coaching, I eventually figured out how work with the contractions instead of against them, and I began pushing in the tub. At this point, the midwife and nurse were checking baby with the doppler after each contraction (which is standard). With the last few contractions in the tub, the baby’s heart rate began to fall, and our midwife made the call that it was time to get out of the tub and move to the bed. Even though the water felt great and provided me with some much needed relief, it was relaxing me a little too much and making my pushes less effective than they needed to be, and the declining heart rate told us that this baby needed to be born sooner rather than later. 

I honestly don’t remember getting out of the tub and walking back to the bed, the entire thing just feels like a blur. But I made it to the bed where I was hooked up to the fetal monitors and oxygen and the midwife told me it was time to meet my baby. With the last few contractions, I pushed with every last ounce of energy that I had, and not 5 minutes later, at 3:26pm our baby was born.


She came out screaming, beautiful, and perfectly healthy in every way. That instant, post-labor euphoria they talk about? Y’all, it’s real. It is so, so real. I couldn’t believe how perfect this little one was. We marveled at that full head of hair and those teeny tiny fingers.

They tried to place her on my chest, but because the cord was short, placed her on my belly instead, and covered her with a towel to keep her warm. A few minutes later, once the cord was cut, they lifted the towel to move her to my chest, and that’s when the real surprise was revealed.

As she lifted the towel, our midwife said, “What were y’all having again?”

Taylor and I confusedly looked at each other and said, “Um, a boy…”

And as she handed me my perfect baby, she smiled and said, “Nope, this is a GIRL!” 

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A girl, y’all! A GIRL! I immediately started laughing. I couldn’t believe it – any of it! I couldn’t believe that I woke up that morning and less than 12 hours later, I not only had a baby, I had a girl! It had all happened so quickly and smoothly and beautifully, and I just felt – and still feel – so, so grateful.

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The little boy we’d hoped and waited for, the little boy I’d spent 38 weeks and 6 days dreaming about, was actually a girl. A gorgeous, teeny tiny, feisty little girl. The sweetest surprise of my life.

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We spent awhile soaking in every ounce of her perfection before handing her off to Taylor for some skin-to-skin time while I got a few stitches. 

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A lot of people have asked us how it’s possible to mistake a girl for a boy “in this day and age,” and I totally get it. Most couples opt for early bloodwork that can determine the gender, and then receive multiple sonograms throughout the pregnancy that also confirm the gender. But we opted to forgo the bloodwork, and only had two sonograms the entire pregnancy. One at 8 weeks to date the pregnancy, and another at 20 weeks to determine the gender. Even though both the sonographer saw what certainly looked like boy parts on the screen, turns out she was wrong!

Even though we’d planned for a Walker, we’d actually had a little girl’s name picked out long before landing on a boy name. Zoey Lynn Zambreski, 6 lbs 4 oz, the biggest surprise of our lives, couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. 


After spending some time cuddling and introducing her to our families, the two of us hopped back in the birthing tub for a relaxing herbal bath. This time felt so precious to me. The warm water made this sweet girl think she was right back in my belly, and I soaked up every last second. 

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After our bath, I ate a warm meal in bed as Taylor dressed Zoey and got her ready to go home. 

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We grabbed a quick picture with the world’s most amazing birth team, and by 8pm we were headed home as a family of 3! 


Unlike most hospitals, as long as both mom and baby are healthy, the birth center sends you home anywhere from 4-6 hours post-delivery. I know a lot of people really enjoy their hospital stays, but I can’t tell you how great it was to be back home and in my own bed cuddling with Taylor and our perfect new baby.

It’s been almost a month, but thinking back on little Zo’s birth stirs up so many emotions. I just feel so insanely lucky. I was lucky enough to have a quick, smooth, complication-free pregnancy and labor that didn’t require any medical interventions. I had an incredible and highly qualified birth team, and I loved having my baby naturally. Was it hard? Oh, so hard. But it was amazing and empowering in every way, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. 

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These past 4 weeks have been such a whirlwind. We’re finally coming out of that “brand new baby” fog, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t weird coming back to blogging as a mother. I’m someone’s MOM now. I have no clue what that means for this blog, but as of now it means infinite baby photos and stories of juggling life as a new mom. It’s  messy as hell, but I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!



  • Deidre Cokendolpher

    Natalie this one is by far my favorite blog yet. It made me teary eyed for sure, your bundle of precious joy shares a bday with my hubby. She is absolutely beautiful and blessed, keep posting pics. I LOVE THEM!!! Hope I can meet her one day.ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Thank you thank you! We’re pretty smitten with her :)ReplyCancel

  • oh my goodness, this is an incredible birth story! thank you so much for sharing! i’m currently 14 weeks pregnant and just met with a birthing center in our new state of colorado and this made me alllll the more excited about a natural and midwife birth!

    i’m totally crying happy tears for you all and please give me a detailed list of every single thing you did during your pregnancy to have an uncomplicated and shorter birth ;)ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Congratulations, that’s so exciting!! I’m sure you will absolutely love going natural, I wouldn’t have had it any other way! The care I received and the positive energy I felt throughout my pregnancy and labor was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. If you have any questions at all totally feel free to email me! I love love talking all things pregnancy and birth.

      As far as what I did, haha not much! I did start taking evening primrose oil at 35 weeks, and I drank Earth Mama’s 3rd Trimester Tea almost every day. Who knows if they did anything to speed labor along, but I know they didn’t hurt! ;)ReplyCancel

  • YAYYY!!! Is it creepy that I’ve literally been checking every day to see if you posted her birth story? I’m so so so over the moon happy for you guys!!!!!! And you are a ROCKSTAR for doing everything naturally!! Seriously so impressed over here.ReplyCancel

    • natalie


  • Okay, this post made me cry actual tears while I ate my after-work pregnancy snack.. this time the tears aren’t even a result of raging hormones. I’m so so happy for you guys, she’s beautiful and what an amazing birth story!

    I’m planning a natural water birth too, and you’ve made me feel like it is possible and not quite as overwhelming as I’ve been starting to feel about it. Congrats girl, enjoy every second!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Yay, congratuations to you on your little one!! You can SO do this girl, it’s the most exciting experience ever!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley

    What a sweet and adorable story! Congratulations on your new bundle of joy!ReplyCancel

  • My insides are screaming at your body for inflicting such pain on you… BUT I am dying of laughter. Natalie, you have officially met your match with that sweet, sneaky Zoey!!! Congrats mama!!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Hahaha, I could not agree more, she is such a perfect fit! :)ReplyCancel

  • Betty

    Natalie, you are so fierce and amazing for giving birth naturally! Congrats New Mom!ReplyCancel

  • Ah I loved this so much!! I can’t wait to read many, many more baby posts in the future!! I was literally about to go to bed when I saw your post on bloglovin and I got so excited that I had to stay up and read it.ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Aw, thank you!! And congrats to you too! So glad to hear you’ve had such a smooth pregnancy!ReplyCancel

  • Saskia

    Definitely not a good idea to read this at work, definitely got very teary-eyed!! Sounds like you absolutely rocked it!! Massive congratulations on your bundle of joy!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Aw you are so sweet, thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • I CANNOT believe you had a girl! how crazy and amazing! I’m so happy that you had a good natural birth experience, I loved mine as well. it was different from yours, as all births are (I had to have Pitocin, I delivered in a hospital, and didn’t have time to even try the waterbirth tub, she came too fast), but the experience was so wonderful for me. congratulations on your beautiful zoey!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Haha, I know, sometimes I still can’t believe it’s real! And it’s so funny how births are never quite what you expect them to be, these little ones are full of surprises from day 1 ;)ReplyCancel

  • this is so so so so amazing. congratulations to the moon!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Alexis K

    I have checked your blog JUST ABOUT EVERY DAY since your last post and I was so happy to see that when I clicked the link that’s bookmarked on my computer today to your blog that you had finally posted about the birth!

    I am so excited for you and can’t wait to see what adventures motherhood brings you. You are so, so blessed. Sending a huge congratulations over to you and Taylor!!ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Haha, aww, thank you! I didnt’think I had any readers left with how absent I’ve been, so I’m glad you’ve stuck around ;) And thank you!!ReplyCancel

  • I love this birth story! So glad it was an easy delivery for you! I’ve read some horror stories. I just wanted to say how proud of you I am and I know that means a lot coming from an internet stranger (tongue out emoji).

    You are going to be a wonderful MOM. I also want to ask for more Snapchat videos – if not on your MyStory, just send them directly to me @blogsmaidcass.

    This may be weird but I’ve been using you as an example to my pregnant friends – they are like “oh we are having ______” and I’m like you may not, Natalie didn’t. They get confused and I just love it. I also love that me and Zoey have the same middle name. Lynn girls for life.ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Thank you, it was an awesome experience! And you are too funny! PS My middle name is Lynn too ;)ReplyCancel

  • I love telling people that this blogger I ‘know’ was expecting a boy and ended up having a girl! So fun. I was wondering how you guys decided on a name so ‘last minute’! Congrats x 100000, the pics are incredible and it sounds like you had amazing labor support.

    One quick question, what was the reasoning behind going to the chiropractor during labor? Was it to make sure everything was in alignment so the baby could hopefully drop straight into your pelvis? I really think going to a chiro would have helped with Clara (who was in a weird position and couldn’t drop) so I’ve been going consistently with Baby Beni… I just hadn’t thought of going while in labor! Interested in the reasoning :-)ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Hahaha – girl I do the EXACT same thing! And thank you so much, greatest surprise ever!

      Good for you for making chiropractic care a priority! I SWEAR it helped me so so much! Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure of the medical reason for going, other than my chiropractor and midwives both said if you’re able to go – just go ahead and go. I know for me it partly had to do with ensuring baby was in an optimal position for labor, and also that it can help things to progress, especially for those who are having stalled labor. If you have time, I so so recommend it! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Oh my goodness, tearing up in my office right now. Beautiful. Just beautiful, friend :) congratulations again :)ReplyCancel

    • natalie

      Thanks so much Sarah! And you’re little one is getting SO SO BIG. Make it stop!! ;)ReplyCancel

  • 1. your baby is objectively COMPLETELY adorable.
    2. also I kind of love that you had a last minute surprise girl :)ReplyCancel

  • […] was one of the craziest days of my life, and I wouldn’t have changed one second of her grand entrance into this world. The first 7 days with Zo are such a blur, but I know it was filled with lots of sweetness in […]ReplyCancel

  • […] the big surprise, I’ve had a lot of people ask how it was adjusting to life with a girl after expecting a boy […]ReplyCancel

  • […] oh-so-typical mom thing and say I CANNOT BELIEVE IT HAS BEEN A YEAR. Where on earth did this sleepy newborn […]ReplyCancel

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