Shep’s Birth Day | A Southwest Virginia Home Birth Story
Birth rarely goes the way you expect.
I fully expected to not go into labor until after the New Year. My reasoning for this? There is so much pressure surrounding the “due date” and I have learned that it is best to expect going to that date or beyond, otherwise when baby is “late” you feel super impatient. Pair that with hormones, possibly not feeling the greatest, questions from well meaning loved ones, and rude comments from clueless people about the size of your belly.
Pro tip: just keep your mouth shut about the size of a woman’s belly or how many babies are in there. Seriously. At no point is it helpful or encouraging. 😉
This pregnancy was harder to be patient. I think being due the week after Christmas contributed to that because instead of asking if I thought if baby would come early, people would ask “do you think he will come before or after Christmas?” I’m sure most people are just trying to make conversation but it just was hard to stay patient. Anyway.
I actually had them through the night too but I slept through them, just not a sound sleep, ya know? I took some video clips that morning thinking it would be baby day. When Mike got up for work I actually told him I was feeling some stuff and he might not want to go to work…I think he was half asleep because he went on to work. He told me later it didn’t register that I was having contractions and apologized. Haha I was a bit irked but oh well. I just figured I would text him when things picked up.
Contractions were fairly regular that morning, usually between 5-8 minutes apart and about a minute long but not painful. I text my midwife DeEtte that morning to give her a heads up. Sometime around lunch they slowed down and I got frustrated. I saw my chiropractor that afternoon in hopes of making sure everything was aligned. After I left they picked back up. I even went to the basement to do some deadlifts to maybe keep things coming regularly. Ha!
One of the kids’ friends was having his birthday party that night; I didn’t want to disappoint the kids and say we weren’t going. Plus contractions were just mildly annoying at this point so off we all went. Two of my close friends were there; they knew I was having contractions because every so often I would hop up and away through it. Haha When we went to the car to leave I had to sway and somewhat breathe through one; that’s when Mike realized things were getting more serious.
Nevertheless we ran by Walmart to do a grocery pickup on the way home. 😂 I knew we needed a few groceries so I scheduled a pickup for when we would be leaving the party!
So we got home, bathed the kids, and tucked them in bed. They were excited knowing baby brother was coming soon. We promised them we would wake them up if he was going to come in the night. They finally went to sleep probably around 9:30 or 10pm.
At this point contractions were more intense and I couldn’t sit or lay down through them but they were all over the place. Some would be 5 minutes apart, others 14 minutes.
Mike blew up the birth pool in the living room then sat down to watch something in hopes of relaxing. Unfortunately we watched an episode of 24 and it was just too intense and made me feel kinda stressed. I talked to my midwife again and let her know I had no idea what to expect and that I would call if things picked up. Mike and I went to the bedroom; he was going to brush my hair but I couldn’t even get on the bed to sit for that. Baby boy was so low that my pelvis hurt and sitting was not helping during contractions.
I went to the bathroom and decided to do what I did during Gunner’s birth—I sat on the toilet. Sounds weird but it actually causes the pelvis to open and allows baby to drop and the cervix to dilate. I alternated between sitting and standing and swaying.
I ate a snack and drank a glass of milk, which kinda caught me off guard because the thought of food in previous labors was so unappealing to me. But this time I was hungry! (Fact: Labor is a lot of work and it is important to stay properly hydrated and nourished. This gives you the energy to push your baby out.)
I think around 2:30 I talked to my midwife and told her things were picking up. I also called my birth photographer. Then I started filling up the birth pool. I woke Mike up a little after this. Once the pool was filled up I got in. Unfortunately I didn’t make it hot enough so it was a letdown. I love water—baths, swimming, the ocean—so I LOVED the birth pool with my other two births. So Mike quickly started running more water as hot as possible.
She had Mike start boiling water to get the water warmed up even more. My other midwife, DeEtte arrived at 4:10am. When she checked me I was 4cm…definitely not what I was expecting because things were intense. For reference, Gunner’s labor was only 5 hours. When DeEtte arrived I was already at 7cm, so I was really surprised.
My water still hadn’t broken but was bulging so I asked DeEtte what she thought. She said she could needle my water if I wanted. It would allow baby’s head to come down and put more direct pressure on the cervix so I could dilate. The difference in needling the water vs breaking it is that she slowly drained it. This prevents a cord prolapse and an emergency. As soon as I stood up from that I got a contract in and whew! it was a doozy! I stood for a few contractions in the bathroom and sat for some on the toilet.
Thankfully the water was finally nice and hot–thank you Mike for boiling all the water!
I’m gonna rewind a tiny bit. Sometime when I was in the bathroom, before Mike was up and my midwives arrived, Gunner woke up. I told him I was just in the bathroom and to go get in bed with daddy. Thankfully he did and went right back to sleep. Then around 4:30 or so he woke up and came to the living room. He snuggled up on the couch watching me in the pool then dozed back off to sleep. Around 5:45 my mom arrived and then Ellie woke up. (I just had to check the time stamp on my photos to see if I was remembering right)
and she lived just across the road. Oops! Well, she expected things to be fast again so flew down here as fast as she could. Apparently when she was walking from the car her phone starts buzzing so she freaks out that she is missing it again and takes off running. She busts in the door saying “did I miss it?!?” At this point I was absolutely out of it, didn’t want to be touched and noises were irritating to me. This was also when I was feeling a little pushy. So I said “no! Just sit down and hush!” Sorry mom! I love you! Oops! At least you didn’t miss it this time!
So my midwife checked me again and I was finally to 10 cm but I had a dreaded cervical lip. This is when there is a tiny section of the cervix that isn’t back as far as it should be. On the next contraction my midwife carefully held it back as I began pushing.
I felt like I wasn’t able to push well and when each contraction would hit I was practically frozen; I was leaning back against the edge of the pool like I had with my other two births but I guess my midwives could tell he was bigger so they suggested I flip over to hands and knees. Twice I tried, but each time a contraction would hit and I was stuck. Finally on the third one, my midwife and Mike gave me a push and helped me flip over. Haha
After another contraction they suggested getting my right leg up into the runner’s pose because that opens the pelvis even more. Just a minute after that his head was out….and so what his hand! Yep! The little rascal had a nuchal hand—when the hand is up by the face. 10/10 wouldn’t recommend! Oof! My midwife carefully pulled his arm out then I was able to push the rest of his body out…
Y’all there is nothing like catching your own baby! (Earlier in labor I had told her I really wanted to catch him myself and she said that was totally fine and that she would be right there to help and check for the cord around his neck.) I pulled him up out of the water and immediately began rubbing his little back. The second thing I did was call for Gunner! Ellie was wide awake watching on my mom’s lap and I just didn’t want Gunner to feel like he missed the moment or be confused if he woke up and I wasn’t in the living room anymore (my midwife has me get out of the pool and into the bed to deliver the placenta).
After that I moved to our bed, delivered the placenta, and then got pooped on by Shep. Haha All three kids have now pooped on me immediately after birth! Ellie got to help Mike cut the cord. Shep latched on right away and nursed for a long time. After that my midwives weighed and measured him. Ellie was so invested in DeEtte doing his check and measurements. I took a shower then my dad, brother, and grandparents came down to meet him. And my friend Kristen came too! She was going to come for the birth but didn’t hear my text in the middle of the night so she just missed it by about 20 minutes!
I had made cinnamon rolls a couple weeks before and frozen them so the night before I had set them out to thaw in the fridge. I had Mike bake them and man they were delicious!
While it’s super exciting, it’s also a little nerve wracking when a new baby will be joining the family because you never know how the big kids will handle the change. With Gunner and now Shep I’ve prayed that God would help the transition go smoothly; both times He has been faithful to answer that prayer. The way Ellie and Gunner have loved Shep has truly blown me away. They both come and kiss on him throughout the day. Gunner loves to rub his cheek on Shep’s head because he says “it’s so soft.” Ellie is the best helper. She talks to him if he is crying and I am doing something.
Anyway, I’ll hush and let you watch the video I made and see the photos that Danielle of Bursting Skies Photography captured!
Are you planning a Southwest Virginia home birth story? Or Northeast Tennessee? I’d love to chat about capturing your birth story! Go here for more info!
Want to read more birth stories?? Click the link below to see more!
Are you planning a Southwest Virginia home birth story? Or Northeast Tennessee?
I’d love to chat about capturing your birth story! Go here for more info!
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Emily is a southwest Virginia-based destination wedding photographer + videographer specializing in telling the love stories of farm girls + guys—the ones who love adventures on farms, barns, and mountaintops!