Seventeen years since I first became a mother, five children, hospital births, and homebirths, and yet I’ve never penned a birth story of my own. I’m not sure that I felt any of my births were inspiring or worthy enough to share, but today I realized that my sixth is an experience I wanted others to live through. I also feel it is necessary to document one of the most beautiful and blessed days of my life before some of the details of that morning begin to fade.
This pregnancy while very welcomed, also came as a huge surprise. The idea of us expanding our family beyond our fifth child wasn’t a foreign subject, but the timing wasn’t ideal. We had an 11 month old, a five year old, seven year old, ten year old, and a sixteen year old the day we came to realize we’d outgrown our minivan. The news brought a wave of emotions over me and admittedly, I was scared. I felt I’d just found my groove as a homeschooling family of seven, and I wasn’t sure I was capable of finding a new normal as a family of eight. All of these thoughts consumed me within the first five minutes of seeing that plus sign; before I gathered my resolve and started down the path of baby number six alongside my husband. We were certain this baby would be our second homebirth. I began preparations for our new arrival by contacting the midwife I love so much and hiring a photographer for the birth day. I also knew I wanted to surround this birth around the biggest facet of my life, my faith.
Every one of my children entered the world at 36, 37, and 38 weeks, but not baby number six. Baby number six would decide to enter the world at 40 weeks and 1 day, I like to think this is indicative of the woman she will one day be. The days seemed to just bleed into each other after week 39. I felt as though the baby would never come, but I knew it was really God using this experience just as I’d prayed for him to do from the beginning of this journey. I prayed for God to use this pregnancy to transform me, and I knew He would choose to shift my overly scheduled and hands on nature. It would all be in his perfect time, not mine, and He was in control of it all.
When March 5th rolled around, our expected due date, I recall thinking I didn’t feel any different, and today would just be another sunset in the books. I went about our normal Sunday, my boys had their football game, I planted a butterfly garden, and then I decided to bake a birthday cake for “the baby that would never be born”. I’ll never forget cracking one of my eggs into the bowl that happened to be a double yolk and thinking it had to be a sign, I was wishing everything into “the sign” during the final days. When evening came around we put our children to bed, and I went into my room to lay with our toddler. I knew baby was in an odd position, but my midwife assured me she wasn’t posterior. Nonetheless, she encouraged me to do some Spinning Babies exercises. She’s a “follow your intuition” type of midwife, it’s one of the million things I love about her. During my search for different exercises to help baby present himself in optimal position I came across one I’d never seen, The Miles Circuit. I chose to try it while my toddler was falling asleep. No later than five minutes after I had ever tried the miles circuit, I experienced a contraction. I emerged out of our room and let my husband know I’d had a couple of waves, and they felt “different”. Neither of us jumped at the idea of calling our birth team after weeks of prodromal labor, and instead we decided to head into our room to get some rest just In case we would be in labor into the early morning. Thirty minutes after our heads hit the pillow, my husband was fast asleep. Another wave came over me, and I remember feeling all of my extremities turn cold. With that last contraction I awoke my husband, “This is it!” I told him. With those three words we began to put our unwritten birth plan into place. Truthfully, this was my favorite part of our sixth baby’s birth, and our photographer was able to capture some of “us” in those moments as she arrived and snuck in before anyone else. We were calm, connected, and so in love. He made the call to our midwife (while I called our photographer and mom), he prayed over me, and kissed the top of my head. When I gazed back up to look at him, I knew everything would be ok. As he filled the tub, I diffused lavender oil and it quickly filled the air, months later the scent of lavender takes me back to that night.
By the time our midwife arrived my contractions were getting a little closer, about 3min apart and just under a min long. I remember being fearful of it not being”the real thing”, but my midwife assured me that it was ok. By the time my second midwife arrived, I was ready to be checked… I felt this would give me some peace, and this would also be the first time I had a cervical check during my entire pregnancy. I was “At a 6 with a nice bag”. After the news, we all went into the kitchen. I believe I went into transition while everyone drank coffee, we talked, laughed, and every few minutes everyone would pause to watch me sway and moan. I could feel myself getting tired and drifting off into “labor land” just as my mom arrived. I decided to wake my children around 2am. The intensity was picking up, and I wanted them to be greeted by a “put together momma”. It was perfect timing, and I slipped into the tub for what would be the final hour before we met our baby. For the first 15min, the water had completely relieved the pain.. My contractions felt like dull pressure that wrapped around my lower back and belly, different from the sharpness I experienced when I was out of the tub. But as time went on, I could feel my baby moving down.
With each wave the baby would move lower, and I remember holding on to my husband in silence and letting my body float. During that time my husband and I were the only ones that existed in my world. My children were quietly waiting on our bed, and our midwives were in the kitchen allowing us to birth alone. I finally felt like I couldn’t keep up with each contraction, and I knew it was time. My midwives came back in at my request to be checked again, this was almost my way of retreating because I knew we were passed the point of a cervical check..my baby was ready to meet us, and I was ready to meet my son or daughter. With each contraction I grew a bit frantic, I had to push more than I was accustomed to and this took me by surprise. My voice was louder as she got closer, and I recall asking my midwife why it was taking so long, “This is normal” she assured me(we later found out she was acynclitic which gave me a little more work). In those final moments, I decided not to waste another ounce of energy into noise or fear. I grew silent, I was focused, and in my last couple waves our daughter joined our family surrounded by her four brothers and her sister. I’m not sure who else felt the peace that fell over my room that morning at 3:22am, but I’ve never prayed more and felt closer to God than I did throughout my pregnancy and during the delivery of Brooklyn Grace. His presence was everything to me.
After we moved from the water into my bed, I looked around to see all of my little ones surrounding their sister. I watched each of their faces as they fell in love with her, I don’t think I’ll ever forget “those faces”. We watched my amazing midwives give the baby her first newborn exam with so much love and gentleness, and as the sun was coming out to greet us and my roosters began to crow everyone said their goodbyes. My husband and I laid in bed with another life we brought into our family, we examined our beautiful baby, took in the joyous fact that we had a beautiful baby girl, and drifted off to sleep as a family of eight.
All photos were professionally taken by Paulina Splechta Photography.