Desiré Waller, 23, a first time mother, and boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, didn’t realize it at the time, but they were tapping into a modest, millennial rebellion. In 2014, midwives delivered 8 percent of the babies born in the United States. In 1989, the comparable number was 3 percent. They sought out midwife Afua Hassan to deliver their baby. “My mom had hospital births, and so did my grandma,” Desiré said. “But my great-grandmother had her 13 babies under a tree. I trust my body. I know I can do it.”

"I remember when the baby kicked for the first time," said Desiré Waller, 23, "I was at school and I thought wow! This is the baby." Desiré who is under the care of midwife Afua Hassan, has a 35-week prenatal exam at the Birthing Place Wednesday, Feb. 10,
Desiré Waller, 23, a first time mother and seven months pregnant, shares questions and thoughts with midwife Afua Hassan. 'I remember when the baby kicked for the first time,' Desiré says. 'I was at school and I thought, wow! This is the baby!'

Desiré Waller, 23, shown with boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, meets with Afua Hassan, midwife, for a 36 week prenatal exam at the Birthing Place Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Thirty-six weeks and counting. Desiré and boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, meet with midwife Afu for a weekly, prenatal exam at the Birthing Place.

Kareem Folkes, 30, leans in to listen while midwife Afua Hassan uses a Dopplar to listen to the baby's heart beat while giving a 36 week prenatal exam to Desiré Waller, 23, at the Birthing Place Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Desiré plans on
Kareem leans in to listen while Afua uses a fetal Doppler to monitor the baby's heart. A steady galloping sound fills the room.

Midwife Afua Hassan checks the position of the baby while giving a 36 week prenatal exam to Desiré Waller, 23, at the Birthing Place Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Afua puts her hands on Desiré's abdomen to check the position of the baby. He is head down at 36 weeks.

Registered nurse Minique Landor, third from left, lactation consultant, gives a breast feeding class to mothers and expectant mothers at the Birthing Place Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Lactation consultant Monique Landor, third from left, offers new and expecting mothers tips on breast feeding. They're meeting at The Birthing Place, owned by Afua.

Midwife Afua Hassan holds Rylie McConnell, at seven weeks, who she delivered on Christmas Day at the Birthing Place, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Hassan, 57, has delivered over 800 babies, not counting four of her own. The Birthing Place is l
At Healing Monday's, Afua, holding Christmas baby Rylie McConnell, gets to see the mothers she guided through labor and delivery. Afua, who lives upstairs from her 24/7 birthing center, is a “direct entry” midwife, meaning she earned her certificate after three years of classwork and apprenticeships. She has delivered over800 babies.

Desiré Waller, 23, attends a lactation class taught by Monique Landor, a lactation consultant, at the Birthing Place Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Houston, Texas. The gathering was for mothers and expectant mothers to meet and discuss topics about raising the
At lactation class, Desiré, center, pats her pregnant belly and admires the babies all around her.

"You know what I have been thinking about today?" Desiré Waller, 23, ask boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30. "Ice cream from Sonic. It is half price today," while they walk on Desiré's expected due date at Terry Kershey Hike and Bike Trail Friday, March 18, 2016
On one of their walks, Desiré says to Kareem: 'You know what I have been thinking about? Ice cream from Sonic. It's half-price today.'

Desiré Waller, 23, and best friend Victoria Williams stretch after doing squats and lunges while working out along the walking path at the Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trial Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Kareem is shown with Victoria's dog Royc
Desiré and best friend Victoria Williams stretch after doing squats and lunges on the Terry Hershey Park Hike and Bike Trail in west Houston. Kareem waits patiently with Victoria's dog, Royce.

"I believe there is a level of stress on both of us," says Desiré Waller, 23, while doing squats under the watchful eye of boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, as they work out on Desiré's expected due date at Terry Kershey Hike and Bike Trail Friday, March 18, 2

On Desire's due date, she hoped to be delivering a baby. Instead, she is doing squats under Kareem's watchful eye. 'I believe there is a level of stress on both of us,' Desiré says. She adds, 'I know in my heart I have more time to go.'

Desiré Waller, 23, shows off a gift given to her by Jayden Dogan, right, as boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, looks on at their baby shower Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Jayden Dogan, right, is proud of the baby gift, a little jacket, she has given Desiré and Kareem.

"We believe in the experience," says boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, "It will be a spiritual experience." Desiré Waller, 23, and Kareem share a moment together at their baby shower Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronic

Desiré and Kareem share a moment at one of their three baby showers. He predicts the birth of their first child will be a spiritual experience.

Midwife Afua Hassan shows photos of a patient who wanted to lie down on the grass while having contractions to Desiré Waller, 23, and boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, before having a 38-week prenatal exam at the Birthing Place Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Housto
Afua shows Desiré and Kareem photos of a client who wanted to lie down in the grass while she had contractions. Desiré, 38 weeks, says, 'I'm ready to have a baby.'

Assistant Malea Hardeman, 20, looks on while midwife Afua Hassan lets Desiré Waller, 23, and Kareem Folkes, 30, they need to maintain a positive attitude during a 39-week and three days prenatal exam at the Birthing Place Tuesday, March 15, 2016, in Houst
When Desiré sounds impatient -- she's been pregnant more than 39 weeks -- Afua reminds her to stay positive, that babies set their own schedules. Midwife apprentice Malea Hardeman, at left, listens to the lecture, too.

"My mom had hospital births and so did my grandma," said Desiré Waller, 23, "But my great-grandmother had her 13 babies under a tree. I trust my body. I know I can do it." Midwife Afua Hassan shows Desiré how the baby is positioned while having a 39-week
Afua uses a furry doll to show Desiré, fast approaching her due date, how the baby is positioned.

Desiré Waller, 23, shown with boyfriend Kareem Folkes and friend Victoria Williams, looks for a restroom at a gas station while trying to relieve contractions by walking in the neighborhood near the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas
To speed up the contractions, Afua suggests she, Desiré and Kareem go on a walk. No one guesses that Desiré will want a restroom stop.

Desiré Waller, 23, shown with boyfriend Kareem Folkes and friend Victoria Williams, experiences the pain of a contraction while walking in the neighborhood near the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chroni

Along the walk Kareem and friend Victoria Williams help Desiré with a contraction. She is determined to get through labor and delivery without pain medication.

Boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, lies in bed with Desiré Waller, 23, monitoring the time between contractions at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Both Kareem and Desiré monitor the time between contractions. They are in a bedroom at The Birthing Place, hoping their son will arrive soon.

Desiré Waller, 23, shown with boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, attempts to have a water birth at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
At The Birthing Place, some laboring women have their babies in the hot tub. Desiré tries that, with Kareem serving as her back rest, but the baby is not quite ready to come.

Desiré Waller, 23, shown with boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, attempts to have a water birth at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )

Kareem and Desiré are in the hot tub, hoping the baby will come quickly, hoping the pain will recede.

Desiré Waller, 23, is comforted by boyfriend Kareem Folkes, 30, during a contraction while midwife Afua Hassan, left, looks on at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Desiré wraps her arms around Kareem, seeking comfort in the midst of a painful contraction.

"Your doing such a good job," says midwife Afua Hassan. "Excellent. Push. Give him to me. Keep coming." Desiré Waller, 23, gives birth to Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr., while father Kareem Folkes, 30, and Desiré's mother look on at Birthing Place Monday, March
Moments before Desiré delivers little KJ, she feels intense, burning pain. 'You're doing such a good job,' Afua says. 'Excellent. Push. Give him to me. Keep it coming.' Desiré's mother, Bianca Swain, at right.

"Don't worry, Baby. Mommy and Daddy are right here," says Desiré Waller, 23, while she and Kareem Folkes, 30, get their first look at Kareem Jr. at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Midwife Afua Hassan is also shown wiping off
Kareem and Desiré, who is still in pain, get the first look at their son. Kareem Jr. is 23 inches long and 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

"And his hands! Big hands like his daddy," says Desiré Waller, 23, after giving birth to Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Moments after the birth, Desiré holds her son's hand.

"I love you, Baby," says father Kareem Folkes, 30, to Kareem Jr. while Desiré Waller, 23, turns to look at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
The first time Kareem holds little KJ, he can't stop smiling, 'I love you, Baby,' he says.

Kareem Folkes, 30, looks at his son Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. while mother Desiré Waller, 23, relaxes after giving birth under the care of midwife Afua Hassan at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronic
Kareem studies his baby, and his baby studies him.

Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. rest on mother Desiré Waller's, 23, stomach while midwife Afua Hassan has father Kareem Folkes, 30, cut the umbilical cord at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. ( Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )
Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. rests on his mother's chest while his dad and Afua cut the umbilical cord.

Friend Victoria Williams and father Kareem Folkes, 30, watch Desiré Waller, 23, breastfeed Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. at the Birthing Place Monday, March 28, 2016, in Houston, Texas. Kareem Jr. was born at 5:09 p.m., 7 lbs. 8 oz., 23-inches long. , father, i
Desiré, Kareem and Victoria watch closely as KJ takes his first sip of milk.

Father Kareem Folkes, 30, looks on as Desiré Waller, 23, watches friend Victoria Williams put Kareem Akeel Folkes Jr. in the car seat as they get ready to go home after Desiré gave birth under the care of midwife Afua Hassan at the Birthing Place Monday,
After a 15-hour day and naps all around, KJ and his support team leave the birthing center and head for home in southwest Houston. Victoria, sitting in the back with KJ, puts him in his new car seat.

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