#002: a birth story

I remember wanting a room with a view of the Hollywood sign. I thought it would be a good story to tell her someday. 

hollywood sign

I remember aching to have her naturally, to join the club of women who have birthed all naturally. But I also remember wanting to vocally support all women, every woman who had a baby by any means. If my plan b or c or z were to be the outcome, I wanted to celebrate it. 

Jordan had been gone about 4-hours when my water broke. I didn't know it was happening right away. I had intense gas pains, my mucous plug had come out and I was alone in our house watching Burn Notice on Netflix, digesting pink Starburst and Swedish Fish. When I started throwing up I called my mom to come be with me. I texted my OB and he recommended I head to the hospital - I had been VERY sick during my pregnancy so he wanted me to be monitored for dehydration and to keep me as on track as possible for a natural and unmedicated labor and delivery.

It took exactly 4 and a half minutes to get to the hospital from my house. I am incredibly aware of how lucky I am to have had this luxury and the privilege of this non-commute. By the time my mom and I were on our way to the hospital, I realized that my gas pains were not gas pains... contractions. Duh. First 15-minutes apart, then 10-minutes later, then 5-minutes later, then back to 15-minutes. 15-10-5-15-10-5... Maybe I was fickle. 

Mostly I was scared.

I had wanted a doula so badly. I had wanted to talk endlessly about my experience and the fear that I was wrapped up in during my pregnancy. I wanted reassurance, I wanted guarantees - knowing neither were truly possible, I wanted comfort. I didn't have a doula. (Part of my reason for doing a doula training is to find postpartum comfort and to be a resource for women who may have a similar experience. To be a support for someone else)

I was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital around 1am on January 25, 2016, in a room with a view of the Hollywood Sign. Jordan arrived from a cocktail party with a fully-packed suitcase and wearing his dress shoes around 3am. He was scheduled to be gone for 4-days, he didn't even make it 12-hours into his work trip before I went into labor.

And I labored. Standing, kneeling, walking, sitting on the toilet, bleeding, side-lying. The contractions were intense and regular. Leaning against the cold walls in the bathroom felt like heaven. At the 7am staff shift change, my new Labor + Delivery Nurse, Chantelle, came in and announced that I needed to get in the shower.

Chantelle is 6 feet tall, gorgeous and confident. I wanted to do anything she said.

The shower was miraculous. It took 20-minutes and a hospital maintenance worker for the hot water to come on, which feels like 20-hours in labor-land, but once I was in - ecstacy. Seriously. No pain. In fact, comfort, pride, confidence, joy. I completely understand the appeal of a water birth now. 

Chantelle came back at 9am to check my progress and told me I needed to get out of the shower. Heartbreaking, but, seriously, I'd do anything she told me to do. I was nearing 8cm. 

So I labored hard. After hearing that I was at 8cm, I gave over. I let the contractions happen and tried to release to them. They worked their way up my spine each time - from the base of my pelvis and out my throat, sweeping, wave-like contractions. I slept between each one and dreamt about the moment that I would meet her. 

naomi waves

The pain was so intense and time was moving so slowly. I had a very clear thought that I needed an epidural, but I didn't know how to speak. I could not find words. I could only make sounds and sounds were not going to get me an epidural so I gave up on the idea and just kept laboring. 

When Chantelle called Dr Chang to let him know it was time to come, he sounded reluctant, based on the tone of her response. Not because he didn't want to deliver our baby, but because I am a first-time mom and these things tend to take time. When she called him back to let him know that this was happening, he sent the on-call doctor to come check on me. 

The on-call doctor arrived with three interns/attending doctors/doctors-in-training in tow. I'll never remember exactly what she said to them, but she looked at them with a piercing stare and said something to the effect of "you all need to get out of here, I got this." Chantelle, if you're reading this, I LOVE YOU.

Dr Chang arrived and 20-ish minutes later our daughter was born. My 7lb, 10oz baby was here. 

Perfect and purple-ish and truly here. In my arms. Breathing and miraculous. 

I wonder what it would have been like if I had had a doula? Not because Jordan, my mom, Chantelle or Dr Chang did anything wrong, but shit... having a baby is intense. Intense and scary and so in your head. What would it have bene like to have someone whose sole purpose was to be in my head with me, to guide some of those scary thoughts, encourage the process and be the vocal advocate? I would call my experience lucky and incredibly successful, but I wonder what it could have been if I had had different or more information.

Then, I sometimes wonder if it had gone any different than it did if Naomi would be Naomi. Would she be the same incredible, curious, ecstatic, confident, snuggly, Naomi, or a slightly different version of herself? I don't care to know. I can always do it again if I want to. 

naomi feet


My name is Layla. Layla Guest. I am Layla Guest.

I am a woman navigating the era of President 45. A woman continually baffled/shocked/disheartened/angry/in awe of the unreasonable inequality, hate, injustice, dis-understanding and lack of empathy in the world. 

I am also a woman amazed by the human spirit. By the purity and un-fuckwithable nature of many. By the tenacity and drive of the leaders, locally, nationally and (thank goddess) internationally, who are working tirelessly to move forward for change and good.

I am a mother. I am a mother to a miraculous girl, Naomi Archer. I am humbled and challenged hourly. I am succeeding and failing simultaneously and I am forever grateful for this experience in motherhood.

I am a wife. I am married to a shirt-tucked in, irons his clothes daily, bearded, beer-drinking, meat-eating, music-loving, travel obsessed, oldest of three, half-Italian, self-proclaimed rationalist, altruistic grandson of a WWII veteran from North Country, New York. We grow more intricate and complicated by the minute, but my therapist says we're right on track.

I am a daughter. I am the daughter of Louise and Tony. I am the only child of parents who listen and love and work and laugh and think and talk and ask and support and challenge and and and... all the ands. 

I am a friend. I am a loyal friend who prefers small groups or one-on-one. I am open and working to always be a better listener. I am a friend who will always have your back but sometimes I have to have your back over the phone or text or email because I'm always tired and have a baby and could really use a nap. But I love you, friend. So much. And I'm always rooting for you.

I am a teacher of movement arts - yoga, dance, Pilates. I am lucky to do this for a living. 

I am training to become both a doula and a homeopath.

I am overcoming overeating and taking control of my deep visceral health for the first time even though I've been working in wellness + fitness + movement for my entire adult life. 

I am meeting the pendulum where is swings. I am taking a step back from trying to achieve constant balance. I am allowing myself to meet balance fluidly, with an effort to accept change with grace.

I am writing for the first time in a long time. For fuel, for release, for creativity, for record-keeping, for catharsis. 

I am so glad you are here.