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Positive Home Birth Stories

If you’re planning an unmedicated birth, especially a home birth, one of the best things you can do to prepare is to read, listen to, or watch other women’s positive birth stories.

You can find lots of birth stories in books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and they’re great, but they’re from decades ago. This page is full of unmedicated and home birth stories from women who have given birth recently, some as recently as this year!

I hope reading the stories on this page help you to feel encouraged and inspired as you prepare for your birth.

(By the way, I’m always looking for more stories to share, so if you want to share yours, email me!)

And if you’re wondering whether YOU should have a home birth, you need my FREE 6-question guide: Is a Home Birth Right For Me? Download it now here.

I went to bed Sunday night just like every other Sunday before. I slept well.

Then it happened. I felt a contraction.

It was 5:08 am.

The Build Up

Two days before, I had been woken up by a contraction. I’d felt a few throughout the night, hours apart, and just let them pass and went back to sleep. Up until that day, I hadn’t really felt any contractions. Maybe a hint of a cramp here and there but nothing worth mentioning.

My official due date was April 1, but for some reason I’d felt from the beginning that Baby Girl would come later than that. I also had decided long before the due date that I would not be induced. I wanted my body – and my baby – to be ready for labor, so I knew I needed to let it start on its own.

I got up around 7:00 am on Saturday, April 8, and told my husband, Nate, what I’d felt.

For the next hour or so, contractions kept coming. They were about 10 minutes apart consistently and I was starting to really think today might be the day. Nate and I were excited and nervous but we tried to stay calm, knowing that it could be “false” labor.

I texted my midwife, Amy, to let her know about the contractions, then I got to work. 

Amy had taught us that when labor starts you should ignore it as long as possible. Labor, especially for first-time moms, can be long so you don’t want to wear yourself out worrying about it or focusing on the contractions before your body is ready to really make it happen.

I swept and mopped the floors, tidied the apartment, and got ready for the day. And the contractions started to taper off.

I was a little disappointed, but not surprised. (I have this quirk where I love new things, I love change. If I’ve never experienced something before, even if it’s not particularly desirable in the eyes of many, I look forward to it. That’s how I felt about getting my wisdom teeth out. That’s how I felt about labor.)

Amy reminded me that it’s very common for labor to stop when the sun comes up and assured me that things might very well start back up again that evening.

Even though I tried not to, I was counting on it. All day I had in the back of my mind, “Tonight is (probably) the night! When is it going to start again?!”

Because Nate and I are both planners and preparers, we had the birth pool all set up, I laid out clothes I figured I’d want to change into, and we went to bed a little early so that if we were woken up and I labored through the night, at least we would have gotten a few hours of good rest.

But Saturday night came and Saturday night went.

So off to church we went Sunday morning. I had a few contractions but not at consistent intervals.

Though I was struggling a little emotionally, I tried to go about my day like normal. I knew it was coming soon, but I had no way of knowing when. Uncertainty has always been hard for me.

Sunday evening before bed, I wrote in my journal, “I guess we just proceed as normal tomorrow and welcome the surprise when labor starts.” 

Little did I know that the surprise was only 7 short hours away.

The Day My Life Changed Forever

April 10, 2023 ~ 5:08 am

Startled awake by the sensation I now know was a contraction, I got out of bed and went to the bathroom. Instead of going back to bed, I sat on the couch and opened the journal app on my phone. Sometimes I process thoughts and emotions best by writing them down. 

“It made me nervous,” I wrote. “It was powerful and intense and I questioned if I’m actually going to be able to cope with labor.”

My wonderful husband came out to check on me and encouraged me saying, “I KNOW you can do this. God designed your body and the strength of each contraction so it won’t be more than you can bear.”

Because this was my first baby, I knew logically what to expect – I’d learned everything I could about the process – but I had no idea how I, personally, would experience and cope with it. But it was happening; it was finally time to see what childbirth was like for me.

The contractions kept coming. For an hour or two, I went about my day as normally as I could, showering and eating and wandering around the apartment and just paused when I felt a contraction coming on.

I tracked each one on an app I had downloaded and noticed they were consistently 8 minutes apart. I texted Amy. Nate texted his team at work and took the day off.

We were both a little wired at this point, knowing today was almost surely the day we’d meet our baby girl. So we turned on a movie and I grabbed my yarn to crochet. (Double the distractions is better than one alone, right?)

When I was focused on the movie, contractions weren’t too bad. I was even able to laugh mid-contraction once.

Then it got hard.

Amy wanted me to do the Miles Circuit just to make sure Baby Girl was in a good position. It was incredibly uncomfortable for me. Not only was I holding a yoga position while nearly 10 months pregnant for 30 minutes at a time, but for me, contractions were way harder to handle while lying down.

That brought on the first tears.

It had already been 5 hours without contractions letting up and I was tired. With the added discomfort of not being upright, I felt like I couldn’t keep going.

I sobbed and Nate tried to comfort me. I knew I was edging into the danger zone of dreading the next contraction, which would only create more tension in me, but I felt unable to relax and let the fear go. 

Gratefully, after finishing the Circuit, I felt a little better. I don’t know if contractions were less intense or if I just preferred being upright so they didn’t seem as bad. It was probably the latter, since gravity was working with me now instead of against me.

At noon the contractions had spaced out to 16 minutes, at the longest, which is normal after doing the Miles Circuit. It didn’t take long for them to get back to about 6 minutes apart, though.

By 3:00 I was having contractions 4 to 5 minutes apart.

But then they didn’t keep getting closer. That surprised me. In the “textbook birth” contractions continue to get closer until they’re basically coming one on top of another, and when they do, you know you’ve reached transition.

I tried not to worry about it – I had plenty to focus on now with such short breaks in between contractions.

Because I couldn’t comfortably lie down, I switched between sitting on the floor, sitting on my birthing ball, and standing, either leaning over the couch or leaning over Nate during contractions so I could go as limp as possible to conserve every ounce of energy I could and to avoid any unnecessary tension or discomfort.

Having Nate close helped. Actually it made all the difference. Without Nate’s support, I couldn’t have done an unmedicated home birth.

He was an angel through all of it. He brought me (and fed me) food so I could keep my energy up, gave me massages, and encouraged me to relax. He reminded me that I could do it and that each contraction was bringing us closer to meeting Baby Girl. 

Throughout the entire pregnancy and up to this point in labor, I hadn’t had much nausea and hadn’t thrown up at all. At last, that streak came to an end.

I felt a contraction coming on so I knelt and draped myself over the seat of the couch and tried to go limp. As the contraction ended, I felt another wave – this time of nausea. “I’m going to throw up,” I said to Nate, and he quickly grabbed the little bucket we had nearby just in case. 

And I proceeded to vomit. The positive? The extra pressure broke my water. It wasn’t a lot of water, just a few drops, but it was definitely water. That was encouraging because it meant progress.

At this point I was exhausted. It had been over 12 hours of active labor and I was out of energy. I didn’t have the mental capacity to do much but grunt in response to Nate’s questions or give a short “yes” or “no.”

I needed to know how much progress I’d made. I needed to know how much longer I had to go.

I don’t know what I would have done if Amy had said anything but what she did when she arrived around 7:00 – that I was done, I was fully dilated. But, gratefully, that is what she said and I knew the end was in sight. The first stage was over. Now I just had to push Baby Girl out. 

Amy told me the hard part was over. I hoped she was right.

The Final Push

A few minutes later, I got in the pool. Nate had filled it a few hours earlier so it would be ready for me when I wanted to get in. (The warm water can slow contractions down, so it’s recommended that a woman waits to get in the pool until transition or right after.) 

I think I expected the water to be almost magic – to take away sensation and make it all easy.

The idea is that the buoyancy of the water relieves some pressure and the warmth soothes and relaxes the muscles. Because I haven’t experienced giving birth in any other way, I don’t have anything to compare it to. It probably did help. But I still felt every sensation. It was still hard work. 

Even if I still felt everything, I liked the pool because it gave me a place to be. It designated this time as different – I had made it to the final push. 

The amount of time a woman pushes can vary greatly, but first-time moms can reasonably be expected to push longer than a second-time (or more) mom. I pushed for 3 hours.

The first few contractions in the pool didn’t feel much different than they had before. I asked if I should be pushing. Amy said I should if I feel the urge. I didn’t know what that was supposed to feel like.

After I tried to relax through a few contractions, Amy suggested I try pushing a little to see how it felt. I didn’t know exactly what to do.

I had read about how to push, though, so I knew the idea was to breathe in and out a few times as the contraction started, then take a breath and hold it while pushing down and out, sort of like pooping.

After a few tries, I found that, like I’d learned, pushing contractions were much worse if I tried to relax through them rather than push and work with my body.

As I continued to push, what ended up helping me the most was what Amy’s midwife partner, Shanlee, taught me.

While on my knees in the pool, I put my hands around the back of her neck (she was sitting next to the pool) and she braced me with her arms. As a contraction came, I’d breathe in and out, then, as I took a breath in and held it, I simultaneously pulled my elbows in toward my body, keeping my hands on her neck, and pushed.

Somehow, it helped me feel where I was supposed to be pushing from and hold that downward pressure for longer. She encouraged me to “let it be big, let it go all the way down” – an important tip because I realized I was holding back and not relaxing my body enough to sink all the way down into the push.

It’s something I can’t really explain. It’s hard to understand before you’ve experienced it.

It was slow going. I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to push for that long since I was already so tired. But I just kept going.

Amy and Shanlee continually monitored the baby’s heart rate, both between contractions and during, and Baby Girl was doing just fine. I was discouraged though. I just wanted to be done. I asked how much longer it would be but, of course, they couldn’t tell me. 

I tried several different positions, at Amy’s prompting – first squatting, then on my knees, then lunging. Finally, they could see the baby’s head and asked if I wanted to feel it. I could feel it! And she had hair! I don’t think I consciously realized I felt hair until later but I do remember feeling it.

Once I felt her head I figured we were close. Again, I wasn’t as close as I hoped. It still took several more contractions to get to crowning and then to get her out. But I kept going!

Crowning is often described as “the ring of fire” and I definitely felt that. Because it took a few contractions to push her all the way out, I was stuck with that crowning feeling for a good couple minutes. I could feel the burning pressure and tried to ease it with some pressure from my hands.

As I continued to push – and continued to get better at it – I was able to push several times during one contraction (meaning I’d take a breath in, hold and push, take another breath, etc. before feeling the wave subside). I don’t know if that helped push her down faster, but that was what I felt like my body wanted to do, so that’s what I did. 

Finally, I pushed and felt her head slide out. I took another breath, held it, and pushed one more time. I felt her shoulders rotate 90 degrees and the rest of her was born. She was here! I did it! It was over.

Nate had planned to catch the baby, but, because of the lunging position I was in, I caught her! Amy helped me bring her up to my chest and Nate and I started to talk to her and rub the vernix in.

Our midwives gave us a few minutes to soak it in and be in the moment before asking us to move to the bed and before doing anything with the baby.

My placenta was already ready to be delivered so Amy asked me to cough a few times and she gently guided it out by the cord.

After a few minutes, they helped me to the bed. They propped me up with pillows and as soon as I laid down, they placed Baby Girl back on my chest and covered us with a blanket.

I had torn (second-degree) when Baby Girl made her entrance into the world, so the first order of business was to stitch me back up. Amy did the stitching while Nate and I continued to touch and talk to Baby Girl.

We had had a name in mind but didn’t feel like it was the right one when we saw her, so we just called her “Baby Girl” for one more day. 

Some people have a strong emotional or spiritual feeling as soon as their baby is born. For me, it took a little while, probably because of the length of labor and the need for stitches.

After about an hour, when I was stitched up and in a moment when everyone had left the room for one thing or another and it was just me and my baby, I felt that spiritual feeling. This was real. I was holding my daughter. I had just brought a new life into the world. What a miracle.

Reflections

Baby Girl was born at 10:46 pm which meant I was in labor for 17.5 hours. Amy had told us that first-time moms laboring without medication should expect to labor for 24 hours, so I was grateful mine was shorter.

Labor was long and hard. I don’t know that I can say it was what I expected but the experience wasn’t totally unexpected either.

It was such a unique experience that there’s just nothing to compare it to or to really describe it. I had moments in the middle when I felt like giving up and didn’t know how I could ever do it again after it was over. And I had moments when I felt I was handling it well and it wasn’t so bad. 

Though I wondered at points how I was going to make it through, I honestly never really wanted to do anything differently.

I knew I could go to the hospital and I could ask for an epidural, but it really wasn’t ever much of a temptation, even when I was struggling the most. It wasn’t something I had to fight – the knowledge that I could do something differently – it was just a fact that I knew but that held no sway on how I was going to handle things. I truly didn’t want that.

In thinking about those thoughts and feelings in the following days, I realized that even if I had planned to go to the hospital for an epidural, my labor experience wouldn’t have been entirely that different.

I still would have labored at home for a long while. I still would have been encouraged by Amy to do the Miles Circuit. It still would have been long and hard. And I would have given up the chance to be at home, where I’m most comfortable, and traded a bit of relief in the final stages for the wonder of being fully present, physically and emotionally, through it all.

And of course there’s the big question: was it painful? You can read my thoughts on that here

And if you’re thinking I’m crazy for not going to the hospital, check out Are Home Births Safe?.

A few days after the birth, Nate was talking to a friend on the phone. The friend asked if I would do it again just the way I’d done it. A little to my surprise, my response was immediate: “Absolutely!”

In a way I don’t quite understand, I can honestly say that I loved my birth experience.

It wasn’t easy; in fact, it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It wasn’t fast. I wouldn’t call it fun. But it was miraculous and beautiful and sacred and joyful and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Well, maybe several heartbeats, after I have time to recover and adjust to being a mom to my precious little girl.

FOR CONTEXT:

The biggest thing that was helpful for me was to hire a doula. With our first appointment with my doctor, he actually recommended that we hire a doula and gave me a number for a girl that he recommended and liked and worked well with.

She was absolutely amazing and honestly I don’t think I could have done it without her. She was just so good at knowing what positions to do and helped me to know everything medically-related, to just be my advocate, and everything.

So that was really helpful.

Theo:

Labor with Theo started at 6:00 am. I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I couldn’t tell at first if it was needing to go to the bathroom or if it was contractions. So I started to time them and they were already 4-5 minutes apart.

That lasted for a good 2 hours. I finally woke up my husband after an hour and told him what was going on. 

We called my doula and she said to let her know when things were feeling a little bit more intense and when I felt that I needed more support and it wasn’t just early labor. So after about 2-3 hours of being in labor, we finally called her.

She came to our house to help us navigate labor on our own there. She would help us get into different positions. And then after about 5 hours of labor it was feeling just way more intense so we went to the hospital.

My doula called ahead to make sure that we were getting into a room that was good for unmedicated moms. So we get there, they checked me, and I was at a 7. It was going pretty quick so they were starting to fill the birthing tub so that I could labor a lot in there.

About 30 minutes later, they checked me again and I was already at a 9 so I didn’t have time to get into the tub. But I went to the bathroom one last time and while I was on the toilet my water broke.

I got up and immediately felt the need to push, so I pushed, and within 10 minutes Theo was out.

And it was wonderful!

I never really felt like it was unbearable pain. But I will say that once you get to the point of “I don’t think I can do this anymore,” just because you’re tired, then that usually means that you’re ready to give birth.

My labor with Theo (my first) was pretty pretty similar to Beau’s (my second). They were both pretty textbook.

Theo was 6 hours and Beau was 5 hours until birth.

Kai:

Kai’s birth was different. I went into labor on a Tuesday and I just wasn’t progressing, which was really weird for me because with my other two, I immediately went into labor and progressed super quickly and then gave birth.

With Kai, I went into labor and it was pretty consistent but not getting more intense, not getting any worse. It really was just consistent if I was being active so I was trying to be active a lot over Tuesday and then Wednesday.

And then I went to the hospital on Wednesday night and they suggested that I could either go home or the doctor asked if I wanted him to break my water because I was in active labor, it just wasn’t getting any more intense.

I took another day to decide on that but Thursday evening we went back into the hospital, just because it was more of the same and I was getting really tired and just wasn’t progressing. So I had my doctor break my water.

But I got all the information first. I said, “How long do I have to be in labor before I have to have medication? or c-section?” or different things like that. He said as long as the baby is fine, we’re not going to push anything else.

So I got my water broken and my labor went pretty quick after that.

Because my water was broken at the hospital, I had to stay there to avoid infection which wasn’t ideal since laboring at home is way nicer. But it wasn’t too bad just because it was my third and I had an idea of what was going to happen.

I got super cold part way through, which was not normal for me, so I went into the shower for about 20 minutes, and when I came out I was already at an 8 or a 9 so my doctor (this was a different doctor than Theo and Beau) asked what position I wanted to birth in which was really really nice.

So I think that finding a good doctor that is really supportive of different methods of giving birth is super nice.

It was time to push and with two really good pushes Kai was out.

By the way, with Kai, I had the doula teach my mom a lot of her techniques that she would use. And because It was my third, I felt comfortable with that because he was born during COVID so I could only have two people in the room and I wanted my mom to be in the room. So my doula taught my mom what to do while I was in the room having active labor which was really really nice too.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

Honestly, none of them were very difficult births. They were pretty easy births, no big issues happened. So I think I could have easily given birth at home. Just with past experiences with family members I felt better doing it in a hospital setting.

But on the flip side, I think having a doctor that knows what you want and is supportive of your needs and wants is just as important as anything else. I think I was able to give birth unmedicated all three times because I had a supportive team.

I had a doula all three times and I had a very supportive doctor all three times. And I never felt pressured to get an epidural. That was never even a consideration with any of the births.

So I guess sharing my experience is helpful so it’s not so black and white with what your options are.

Because with Beau, I felt very much like I had to have a midwife and I had to have it in a birthing center and I had to have it as far away from modern medicine as possible. But the midwives that I interviewed didn’t seem as supportive as the doctor that I ended up going with which was kind of an interesting thing. 

So again, we just had support from all angles and I think that was super helpful and needed.

Baby Brooks’ Birth ~ November 18, 2023

I found out I was pregnant just after making the decision with my husband to move to Fairbanks, Alaska. We weren’t planning to get pregnant, though we knew it was a possibility.

As I started to do research into my options in Fairbanks I found that I had only two: hospital or home. I am pretty scared of hospitals, if I’m being honest, and I knew it wouldn’t be the ideal environment for me to open up and be vulnerable in the ways I needed to so that I could have my son.

It was an easy decision for me to hire a home birth midwife and make plans to have my baby in the small one bedroom apartment we would be in. 

Fast forward to November 17 at 6:32 pm. I was 3 days past my due date and pretty miserable, if I’m being honest. I had just gotten home from the gym where I walked on an elliptical for almost 2 hours in hopes that labor would start!

My parents were in the Seattle airport ready to board their flight to Fairbanks and I had just hung up with my mom when I went to use the bathroom and found that I had started to bleed.

I texted my doula and midwife and explained what I was feeling. They both told me to rest and that labor had most likely started. My husband was out skiing so I had to call him home to get our birth space ready. I vividly remember taking my dogs out to the bathroom, looking up at the starry night, and experiencing my first real contraction. 

My husband arrived home, blew up the birth pool, and got everything ready as I rested and contracted for a few hours. I went to bed, though my contractions were about 6 minutes apart so I didn’t get much sleep.

This is where I completely lost track of time.

When my contractions were a minute long with about five minutes in between, we called my doula, Jennifer. I’m truly not sure how long she was there before we called my midwife.

My contractions started off intense and stayed that way throughout labor. I found that a hip squeeze from Wyatt or Jennifer helped to take off the pressure I was feeling in my back and hips.

When my midwife arrived she checked me and told me that I was only 2 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. I immediately started to cry. I felt devastated that my contractions where so intense but I hadn’t progressed much.

Jennifer reassured me that those first few centimeters can take the longest and that I was doing well. They told me to try to rest so I laid in bed with my husband and dogs. We used a wedge pillow so I could sleep on my knees in a child’s-pose-like position, getting moments of sleep between the contractions with Wyatt getting up with each to squeeze my hips. He was literally so amazing.

After a long while, I went to use the bathroom and found myself contracting alone there while everyone slept. I’m not sure if this went on for 10 minutes or hours but I felt so alone as I held on to the sink to stabilize myself with each contraction. It was an intense sense of loneliness that I’m completely certain I had feel, work through, and let go of so that I could progress.

Eventually Jennifer came in and helped me sit backwards on the toilet with a pillow for my head. I had to stand with every contraction but I’d sit and rest between them. I must’ve been there a long time because they eventually asked me to move back to the bed so that everyone could use the bathroom. (We had my midwife, my doula, and a photographer there with us.) 

Now back on the bed, Jennifer helped me lay on my side along the edge of the bed with my top leg hanging off. She supported me there for so long I joked about how strong she must be because my arms would have been dying.

I found sleep between contractions and joked with my team that I would only be having one baby because, wow, it really was so intense it shocked me.

After laying on both sides my midwife came in to check me again. This time, she couldn’t find my cervix which meant there was a possibility I was fully dilated. We decided to fill the birth pool at this point.

I couldn’t tell if I felt pushy or not so I did give a few pushes before deciding it was just too soon. (Let me tell you, once I felt those pushy surges, I knew I hadn’t been feeling them at this point.)

I moved and swayed in the water and felt my deepest emotions of labor here. I felt things I didn’t know I was holding on to creeping up and out of me. It felt like my body was purging itself of pain and experiences that I no longer had space for. I remember reaching for my husband’s hands at this point and pressing my forehead to his; these emotions were something I simply couldn’t have felt and let go of on my own.

I sobbed without words, feeling so supported by my team to just feel my emotions and release them.

Once I had worked through them, I lay in the pool until it was just too cold to continue. That’s when we moved to the shower and I sat on the birth stool just letting the water run over me.

The next few hours are hazy, but I know I moved from the shower to the bed and lay there contracting, my birth team feeding me spoonfuls of honey and encouraging me to drink electrolytes.

My midwife, Melanie, checked me one more time and told me that I was at an eight so they set me up with my wedge pillow between my legs and left me alone to progress which left me feeling lonely and overwhelmed, though I was so deep in my contractions I couldn’t verbalize that I wanted someone with me.

I wasn’t there for long, though, when I felt the most urgent need to stand up and push. I moved to the bathroom, put my hands on the sink and asked, probably screamed, for a hip squeeze. I looked down as blood dripped onto the towel beneath me while Jennifer pressed on my right hip and Wyatt pressed on my left. I knew then, that I was fully dilated and ready to bring my baby here.

I asked for the shower and got in, Wyatt with me pressing on my hips. I felt the most intense sensations yet and, with each surge, the intense need to push. As I stood pushing under the water I felt my bag of  water break. It felt so relieving, like a water balloon popping inside me, and I told me team that it had broken as a rush of fluids spilled into the tub. This was about 21 hours into labor. 

I put one foot on the edge of the bathtub and pushed with each surge while Melanie stood right beside me. She checked and told me that my baby was about a finger length up. I heard her ask Wyatt if he wanted to catch our baby and felt the energy in the room shift; everyone was ready…everyone, that is, except for our baby.

I continued to push and nothing happened. They brought the birth stool into the shower and still nothing happened. After a while they moved me to the bed. I pushed on my back once or twice but decided it didn’t feel right. I pushed on my side once and absolutely hated it and then pushed on the birth stool next to the bed. Still nothing.

I moved back on the bed and sobbed, telling my team that I couldn’t do this. Jennifer just kept saying, “You can do this; you already are doing this.” She reminded me of the shift from maiden to mother and reassured me that this was it and I was in that transition period.

It had been right around 3 hours of pushing and I think I knew that if all I continued to do was push, that this baby was not coming out. I had this intuition about it, but being in transition and feeling such intense surges I couldn’t fully communicate that. So I just kept asking, “What do I do?”

I was exhausted and hurting, but my sweet baby was so strong and the heartbeat never wavered or dropped which gave me hope each time we listened for it. 

I laid in my bed and cried to Wyatt, continuing to ask what we needed to do. Jennifer and Melanie had left the room and when they came back in Jennifer shared that they felt baby may be stuck at my pubic bone in a posterior position and that they wanted to try some things from Spinning Babies to move baby back up out of the vaginal canal and try to help baby drop again but this time in a better position.

I immediately knew this was necessary and agreed to try.

So, to start, I laid down on the bed with my wedge pillow under my hips, making my legs dangle off of the bed so that my hips were the highest point of my body and my feet weren’t touching the ground. Jennifer sat next to me and told me I would have to lay here for three contractions and that I needed to resist pushing when I felt one come on.

I can’t in words explain how painful this was. I literally felt my baby move back up my vaginal canal. I was in excruciating pain and trying with all of me not to push. After 3 contractions, they moved me into side lying position with my top leg dangling off the bed. Jennifer held it, and me, steady and I again lay here in deep pain for three contractions before they moved me onto my other side for another three.

After this, they set me up seated on my bed straight up against the wall with pillows on my sides to help me stay as straight up as possible for as long as I could stand it. Throughout this whole thing, Wyatt and Jennifer sat beside me reassuring and encouraging me.

It was within these movements that I first asked to be transferred to the hospital.

Melanie said, “Whether you’re here or there, Maris, you’re still going to have to push this baby out.” I needed that tough truth but still begged Wyatt to make the pain stop and told my team repeatedly that I felt like I had nothing left to give.

Over and over again my wonderful team reassured me that I was already doing it, that my baby was strong and healthy, that my uterus was still contracting with strength and purpose, and that I was more than capable of bringing my baby here.

After I couldn’t stand to sit straight up any longer, they helped me lay on the bed in a backwards C-like shape to help stall labor for a little while so that I could sleep. They left me alone to rest, but it absolutely did not stall my labor.

I got up on all fours, screamed, and pushed. They came into the room and helped me into a squatted position where I pushed again before I got back on all fours and felt completely defeated. I told them I was done, that I couldn’t do it any more, and that I really didn’t think my body could physically have this baby.

I had told them in the weeks before labor that I did not want to transfer for pain and only if it was a true emergency so they knew to listen and reassure rather than to give in to what was asking for in the moment. But this time as they tried to reassure me, I looked Wyatt in the eyes and told him, “Stop telling me I can do this. I’m done.” He asked what I wanted and I told him to get an OR booked.

Jennifer left the room at this point and Melanie said, “Maris I know you’re done. But let’s try pushing one more time on the birth stool. Let’s give it a Hail Mary.” Even though I truly didn’t think I could have this baby, I agreed to try one more time. I got on the birth stool; Wyatt sat on the bed behind me and gave me his hands to use as leverage as I pushed.

With that first push I felt my baby move down to where Melanie said he was about to her knuckle and I felt a huge wave of hope. I pushed again and felt my baby move down even more. Wyatt squeezed my hips with his knees and I moved my hands to his knees as well. I screamed while I pushed, but Melanie told me I was letting all my energy out of my mouth and I needed to focus it on moving my baby “down and out.”

I went completely silent as I continued to push. I envisioned my baby coming down and out as I put my hands on the wall in front of me and pushed. I stopped paying attention to when the contractions where coming and just found a pattern of push, breathe, push.

I remember hearing Wyatt take a phone call, which seemed ridiculous to me, until I heard him say, “Yes, she’s okay. We’ve turned a corner. I’ve got to go, she’s doing it.” I knew it was my parents, who had been waiting to hear what was going on after the last text they got from Wyatt came in 4 hours earlier.

I kept pushing in silence and Melanie kept me updated on where my baby was the whole time which gave me so much strength and confidence to keep pushing. I reached down and  felt my baby’s head with my fingers and kept working in silence, my eyes closed and my mind silent as I kept working.

Melanie told me to feel again and I could feel the whole top of my baby’s head. As I kept pushing I felt the ring of fire as my baby’s head started to make its way out.  I started to feel the head move, like my baby was shaking its head “no” and Melanie told me that baby was helping me as I pushed.

I pushed again and again, long and hard, and finally felt the most intense relief as my baby’s entire head came out. I took a breath before giving another small push as baby’s body followed. It took about 20 minutes of pushing from the time I got on the birth stool to the time I held my baby in my arms.

Melanie caught my baby and I reached for him and held him to my chest, crying with pride and joy and amazement. I looked down and said, “He’s a boy,” and held him to my chest again as my placenta was born. We hadn’t known the sex of our baby but we had a name either way so we immediately started to call him by name, Brooks.

Jennifer came back in and I heard her say to my photographer, “I missed it?” Later, she told me she had been in my rocking chair praying, unaware that I was giving birth because I was so quiet. I appreciated that prayer more than her presence in that moment.

I held Brooks for a long while before handing him to Melanie to be cleaned and looked at. Jennifer helped me into a shower before I laid down on my bed to get stitches while I held Brooks to my chest. My team helped me put on a nightgown and get as comfortable as possible in my bed and then helped Brooks and I get a good latch.

That’s when my parents came and stayed with me while Brooks got weighed and measured. Jennifer made me French toast and sausage, Wyatt held our baby, and my photographer snapped photos of us with Brooks.

Brooks was born on November 18th at 7:34 pm, though his birth certificate says 7:42. He was 9 pounds and 20 ½  inches long.  I had him just over 25 hours after my labor had started. I pushed for over 4 of those hours.

The next day at our 24-hour visit, Melanie told me that had I been in the hospital they wouldn’t have let me push that long without intervening, even though Brooks and I both stayed physically strong enough to push that long. She told me it had been a hard birth, that Brooks was posterior and a big new born. It felt reassuring to hear that pushing for so long wasn’t “typical.”

Before she left that appointment, she told my parents that it wasn’t often she got a first-time mom as a client and that I should feel proud of how strong I had been, which meant so much to me. 

I cannot express how grateful I am for the birth team who held space for me when I could not hold it for myself and made the decisions that helped my birth story stay at home. For my husband who carried me emotionally and held me in the deepest points of my labor. For the fact that I got to stay in my home surrounded by a great team, a wonderful husband, and two loving dogs while I brought my baby into the world. For my strong and healthy baby boy and for the strength that God granted me when I was at the end of myself.

I never fully understood the power in the transition from maiden to mother – I don’t think you can until you’ve gone through it – but I truly feel like I reached the end of who I had been before labor and stepped into a new version of myself . Though it was the hardest thing I have ever done, it is by far the most beautiful and most rewarding thing too. It wasn’t the home water birth that I had pictured, but I wouldn’t trade even the hardest moments of labor for anything different. Labor was beautiful, raw, difficult, and everything I needed so that I could become Brooks’ mom. I am so grateful for it all and especially for my sweet son.

Baby Violet’s Birth ~ January 21, 2024

I had my first baby in the hospital unmedicated and it went so well that I thought, “Why not just do it at home and not have to have some of the inconveniences that come with driving to and staying at the hospital?”

About a week before Violet was born, I had a couple nights where contractions were starting to build and get closer together and then after a couple hours they just stopped.

When I was 39 weeks and 5 days, I had a midwife appointment and I was 2 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced. They also did a membrane sweep

On January 20, the day before Violet was born, contractions started at about 10:00 PM and continued all night until fizzling out around 7:00 AM. I was pretty disappointed that they had stopped because I really thought I was going to be giving birth really soon.

I had sporadic contractions throughout the day, but nothing consistent. I went and saw my midwife at 1:00 PM and she said I was 5 centimeters dilated! She did a cervical massage, some ligament balancing exercises, and gave me a tincture called Labor Boost to help contractions come back.

I went home and around 3:00 or 4:00 PM contractions started again and got closer together and more intense pretty fast!

By 5:30 PM, I had gotten in the bathtub and the midwives arrived!

Contractions were very intense at this point and receiving counter pressure on my lower back and hips really helped.

I got out to use the bathroom and did a contraction on the toilet and two standing up, holding onto the sides of the tub before getting back in. After getting back in, contractions became almost overpowering, and I had a moment where I wondered if I really could do this.

I could feel Violet moving down the birth canal and started to feel immense pressure and the feeling like I needed to have a bowel movement. That’s when I started pushing.

Pushing did not feel good, and I had to make myself do it. It was so motivating, though, knowing my baby was almost here and having my support system around me and coaching me.

My midwives had me try a couple different positions while pushing. They were pretty intense and painful, but I could feel it helping to move my baby down. I finally felt Violet’s head and that was so painful. Having to push into that pain was so hard!!

Then I could feel her rotating and then I pushed her shoulders out, which was a little less painful. In total I pushed for about 20 minutes, and I got to hold my baby at 7:38 PM, only two hours after getting in the tub! 

It honestly felt so long though! I thought it was like 1:00 AM. 

Even though there were many very intense moments throughout this birth, it felt so empowering, and I felt so powerful and emotional the whole time. I felt like I was able to stay positive and happy and excited to see my baby and not be pregnant anymore, even though it was a really hard and intense process.

I think because I had so much early labor and a couple of false alarms, I was so grateful to finally be in labor and to be so close to meeting my sweet Violet!

It was such a tender moment to finally be holding my baby and for labor and birth to be over!

Me and my husband got to hold and cuddle her while I delivered my placenta, and my husband cut the cord.

I handed Violet off to my husband while my midwives tucked me into bed and I snuggled my baby more and she latched and started breastfeeding. Then they did her hearing test and heel prick and weighed and measured her. Violet was 8 pounds, 8 ounces, and 19.5 inches long. 

I was surprised by how much bigger than my first daughter she was because when I first held her, it seemed like she was so much smaller!

After that, my midwives cleaned up and left and I ate something and tried a couple of times to go to the bathroom. One of the times I passed out on the toilet. Luckily, my mom and Katie were there with me!

Then we got to go to sleep in our own bed, which was amazing!

Overall the home birth experience was amazing. I felt so at peace and happy that I was in my own environment surrounded by family and friends who loved me. The spirit was so close by and it was such a special moment to meet our precious Violet.

I will never forget it.