Thank you to Erin for sharing her Louisville-area home birth story.

Pregnant with my 4th baby, with 3 little girls underfoot, the question on everyone’s mind was “is this a boy?”  Every friend, family member, and stranger we came across wanted to know.  But, we didn’t know the answer until a beautiful Sunday morning in July.

We found out we were pregnant in mid-November of 2012.  I have a history of faint positives on the tests, so when I tested that Wednesday morning and immediately saw a dark blue plus sign, I was shocked!  This was, in fact, the first time *I* knew I was pregnant first.  My sister-in-law had to help me read my first test for Emmy.  My husband found a faint-line positive in the bathroom trash with Bella and informed me we were pregnant.  And a friend saw my line first with Liliana.  So this was a big change for me.  I called Babies R Us and asked if they had any “Big Sister” T-shirts and the lady checked, described it, and grabbed the right size and held it for me.  On my way to my oldest’s gymnastics class, we stopped in and bought Liliana her new shirt to wear when Daddy came home.  He didn’t ‘get it’ right away, so it was a funny conversation.

We chose to see a local midwife (CPM) and her apprentice (who completed her training towards the end of my pregnancy).  My first appointment was at 12 weeks and the entire pregnancy was healthy.  It was not my easiest pregnancy ever.  I developed SPD, and later PUPPPs.  I was an achy, itchy mess!  Regular chiropractor appointments helped with the SPD and Dandelion Root tincture kept the PUPPPs under control.

The house was fairly ready at 36 weeks.  We had the birth pool set up and sanitized.  We tested the hose (and bought an extender).  All my bags were filled and labeled (per the midwives’ instructions).  I added a couple extra organization bags to the mix, based on my previous experiences and my desire to be more organized (i.e. attempt towards be more in control).  I was super excited about my labor play list.  I’d been working on it for a couple weeks, and testing it out often (learning that there were several songs that needed to be deleted).  We’d taken a childbirth class (Birthing from Within), I’d been taking Dancing for Birth classes, we had our doula (three-peat!), and good grief, we’d done this before!  On paper, we were ready.  I was also blessed with a Mother Blessing (Blessingway) given by some friends.  It was a lovely send-off into the final weeks of pregnancy.


Early in my pregnancy (as in, the day we found out) my extended family on my mother’s side was trying to plan a long weekend reunion to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th anniversary.  We ended up traveling at 38 weeks about 2 hours away to Natural Bridge.  While I had no reason to believe I would go into labor early, I was very determined not to have the baby before that weekend — or *during* that weekend 🙂  We went.  It was great.  And I didn’t have the baby.

It was very hot out during my 39th week and I was feeling pretty grumpy.  I had several last minute projects I was trying to get done, such as cleaning and organizing the home school room, school supply shopping, etc., and we finished our last major to-do on my due date (Saturday the 20th) in the evening.  I had been having sporadic, but very intense, contractions for several days, but nothing like my consistent contraction “sessions” that I had with my others.  There might be 3 in a row.  And then nothing for hours or days.  I had maybe 2 that night before bed, but obviously nothing to take real notice of, since there was no continuation.

On Sunday, July 21st, I realized I was having rhythmical contractions around 4am.  I got up to use the restroom, but decided to try to sleep through them since I was just so tired.  I slept on and off for 2 hours and finally realized that I wasn’t getting real or good sleep and I was very uncomfortable, so I sat up so that I could see the bedroom clock and began loosely timing them.  I timed for about 20 minutes and was quickly realizing that they were under 3 minutes apart.  My husband woke up about that time and asked if I was OK.  I told him that I needed him to time them, that my phone was dead, and he should use his phone.  I’m not exactly sure how long we timed, but he confirmed that they were 2 minutes apart.  We decided we’d better get busy preparing in case this was it.

I was very “with it” – which is unusual for me when I’m deep into active labor.  The big sign that my husband was going to look for this time was for me to lose sense of time, and go into laborland.  The plan was to call our doula and midwife at that point (and when contractions were 5 minutes apart).  But, here we were…. 2 minutes apart, with me talking coherently in between contractions.  I decided to take a shower and brush my teeth.  I even plucked my eyebrows — all in one minute increments with good pause for contractions.  We decided to go ahead and call our people because, well… contractions were really, really close.  After my shower, I pulled clothes out of my “Labor Clothes” bag (super glad I did this — I had clean, comfy clothes ready for when I needed them), and turned on my Labor Music.  I was already pleased with myself (last time, I had 8 hours of music and forgot to turn it on (or ask) til I was pushing — my awesome 8 hour mix was heard for 10 minutes)!

My husband called my mom first because she was to be in charge of our children (ages 7, 5, & 2.5).  He called my doula and midwife at 7:15am.  He shared the timing of the contractions (2 minutes apart, lasting a minute), but said I was handling them well and that I wasn’t showing the normal-for-me signs that I was too far along.  He also explained that I said I was feeling barfy (but hadn’t thrown up).  My midwife said she’d start getting ready and head over.  My doula didn’t want to interrupt my flow, so she and my husband agreed that she’d call back in 30 minutes to check in.

I had been laboring in the bathroom for much of this time, and spent some time in the bedroom too. My husband was running around at lightning speed — getting the children squared away, filling and checking on the birth tub downstairs, getting other things taken care of, and trying to be back and by my side every 2 minutes.  He missed a few contractions here and there, but I really felt like I handled them well.  I noted even then, though, how much my pain decreased when he was in the room with me, and even more so when he was simply touching me.  My husband was downstairs when my doula called back (7:45am).  He had left his phone near me, so I answered it.  “Hello,” I said.  She responded, “Oh, you sound like you need me.  I’ll be right over.”  And she hung up. I had another contraction and was still trying to find the words to explain the situation to her, even though she was probably in her car already.  When my husband came back up, I told him about the call.  He told me later that my voice had lowered quite a bit at that point.

By the time my doula arrived (8:10 am), I was side-lying in my bed (a position I had detested in my previous labors).  It wasn’t the most comfortable position, but then again, true-comfort really wasn’t an option at that point.  Cody was using counter pressure on my lower back which helped a ton (the doula in me felt guilty that the counter pressure and double-hip-squeezes were so helpful.  I thought, oh man, he’s gonna be so sore after this).  My midwife J showed up about that time, and I think midwife M followed shortly after.  They came in to say a quiet hello.  At 8:25 my mom brought my girls in to give me a hug and kiss.  We slipped in some cuddles in between contractions and I was glad to see they were doing well.  My best friend and birth photographer arrived about this point as well, though I didn’t see her until I went downstairs.

I was had been having a lot of doubts about my contractions, worrying that they were spacing out, or that this was not labor.  I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like later when it was actually ‘real.”  I made myself verbalize the doubts a lot — I wasn’t going to let any internal emotions slow me down.  🙂  My team was very encouraging.  We talked about moving downstairs around 8:35am so that I could get into the tub.  Five minutes later, I found myself standing in front of the tub, and again with the commitment to honesty, I shared that I was afraid to get in the tub… I was afraid that if I got in, I’d have the baby.  Then I had a contraction.  After the contraction had finished, my doula responded to my previously-stated fear by telling me that I had to go through this and that all would be fine.  I agreed, but also wondered why she was saying that — having already forgotten that I had *just* expressed fear.

The tub didn’t feel deep enough.  And while it helped a lot with the contractions’ pains, it wasn’t as much as I was hoping for.  And I couldn’t get comfortable.  I laid back, I knelt, I  was on my hands and knees.  Nothing felt right.  I cried some.  I was eager to meet the baby.  At one point, I was taking a drink out of my water bottle and heard the camera click. I realized that I was drinking out of a promotional bottle from my dentist’s office and the logo might have been facing out.  I quickly posed with the bottle and said I’d send the picture to my dentist… and then laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  And laughed.  I thought I was hilarious!  I was still loving my music choices and when “Dandelion” came on (Rolling Stones), I came out of my state of relaxation to let everyone know that this song was “an ode to my PUPPPs” as I pointed at my belly.  Quiet laughter filled the room.

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After some time in the tub I was feeling frustrated.  I had said I was feeling “Pre Pushy” around 9:30am.  Around 9:35, my wonderful husband suggested that I get out of the tub and go to the restroom.  He was remembering my 2 previous home births where I had labored on the toilet and initially felt the urge to push there.  I agreed to try and upon stepping out of the water, my next contraction intensified . He later said that he thought I was going to get back in but I liked the idea of trying to go to the bathroom.  We made it to the bathroom.  I had a couple (if that many) contractions on the toilet and immediately my contractions were peaking with pushes.  At 9:45 we trekked back to the tub.

I got in the water and felt that undeniable, uncontrollable, powerful, urge to push.  My husband recognized this, and hopped up to get my children and mother who were in another room.  They came in and stood back out of the way.  I was kneeling during these pushes — which had been my “pushing position” in my other births.  Baby was crowning.  I reached down and felt some of the head.  Another push.  More head.  I felt like this was going on forever.  Despite that I had told my birth team that I didn’t want to plow through pushing this time and I really wanted to try to push gentler, I was beginning to change my mind.  My doula (later) told me that I pushed with more control this time.  As the head was taking “forever” to come out, I began remembering all the strangers and acquaintances who had told me about this 9 or 10 pound boy I was bound to have.  Every friend who told me I was carrying different and the baby was bigger flashed through my mind.  I specifically heard the voice of the Destin, FL Winn Dixie produce lady and her guarantee of a 9+ pound boy.  This “forever,” this looonnnng lapse of time…. it was actually only 4 pushes.

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At 9:51am, baby’s head was out.  My husband motioned for the children to come closer. The two oldest (7 and 5) were at the edge of the pool.  They watched in silent amazement.  With the next contraction, I felt like we needed more space.  I extended my right leg and pushed. At 9:52am, my baby’s body slipped from mine and I reached down and brought her up out of the water.  The cord was wrapped and I couldn’t bring her up any further without my midwife’s help.  She untangled the baby and I brought baby to my chest.  “OH My baby!” I said.  (quite different from the words uttered after the last birth:  “that.was.hard.”)

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I held this tiny being and marveled.  Baby lifted its head.  And, I kid you not, this child smiled. After moments (I don’t know if it was one minute or 10), we decided to check baby’s gender.  I asked “who is going to announce?”  “ME!” said my 7 year old.  I rotated my hold, and Emmy said “It’s a GIRL!”  I *could* believe it!  I really could.  I just didn’t (or couldn’t) imagine having anyone other than my 4th daughter.  It was a lovely surprise and blessing.

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The placenta was out in 12 minutes.   I moved to the couch soon after.  Her cord was cut at 11:10am, and we began the name discussion a bit after noon. At 12:17pm, we agreed that we already knew her name — Magnolia Irene.

Magnolia’s first day was spent surrounded by her sisters and grandparents, while in her mama or daddy’s arms.  She was so content.  So lovely.  Very alert.

My husband and I spent the next few days loving on our newest blessing and loving our family of 6!  This labor and birth was unique, and gave my husband and I a very special opportunity to grow closer than ever before.  He wasn’t *just* supporting me this time… he was with me in every way he could have been.  It was amazing.

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Magnolia Irene was born on Sunday morning, July 21, 2013 at 9:52 in the morning.  I was 40 weeks and 1 day.  She weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.     This was a 3VBAC (third vaginal birth after a cesarean), or a 3HWAC (3rd home water birth after a cesarean).
{All professional photographs by Brenda Brooks}