Caught by Mother, Big Sister Cuts the Cord- A Home Birth Story

 Love this story so much!  I can not believe they have pictures of mama catching her baby!  So incredible!!!  And big sister getting to cut the cord!  A wonderful story for those adding children to their family on how home birth can make that transition better.

You can check out the website of the fabulous photographer here.   

 A bit before 5 in the morning I woke up to some crampy contractions. After about a half hour I couldn't ignore them or lie down any longer, so I got up and puttered around the house between contractions. They weren't strong enough to warrant waking Jonathan, so I let him sleep.

I threw in some more loads of laundry, and asked this child to wait since Isaac and Melissa were sick the day before. Neither of them is adept at making it to the bathroom in time nor capable of using a bowl- so I did a lot of laundry. Despite my concerns, the contractions picked up in strength and got closer together.

I called our midwife, Robin, about 6:30 am to let her know that something was possibly happening and we might be having a baby that day. At seven o'clock Matthew got up to go to school, and when Matthew gets up, everyone wakes up. Isaac and Melissa had both thrown up at least once the night without our knowledge, so I bathed the kids while Jonathan got out the carpet cleaner and washed some more laundry. At this point my contractions petered out.

Melissa was very pleased at the prospect of staying home from school. She wasn't running a fever and was positively chipper. In fact, despite being so sick the day (and night) before, she didn't have any more symptoms of being ill. Isaac, on the other hand, still looked the worse for wear. Fortunately his stomach settled down.

We launched Matthew to school at a quarter to eight and settled the other children on the couch with a movie and fluids. Robin called to see if anything was happening. "Things seem to have petered out and pretty much stopped." I had a few piddly contractions or perhaps they were Braxton Hicks with oomph, but nothing to get excited about. "Well, how about I come by to check on you?" We had a scheduled prenatal for the following day, so worse case scenario I'd have a prenatal checkup a day early.

Robin arrived about 9. All of the vitals looked good, baby sounded great, and my cervix was at 4 centimeters and "mushy." Robin relayed some stories of women who'd gone into labor only to have it stop and resume another day. "Call me if things pick up again. I have a prenatal appointment way out in Seguin later today, but I don't want to leave town if you go into labor." It's a deal. I said goodbye to Robin and decided to take a nap since I'd been up with sick kids the night before and with contractions in the early morning. Jonathan originally planned to go to Austin that day, but decided he should stay nearby and work from home, just in case.

I took a lovely nap and woke up feeling refreshed. Isaac and Melissa were still watching movies on the couch and downing juice and bananas. Jonathan worked beside them. While they were preoccupied, I straightened up the house and got to work on dinner. Chicken noodle soup with whole wheat bread seemed appropriate under the circumstances. Jonathan put Isaac down for his nap, and it was then that the contractions hit.

It was about 12:30. Jonathan brought me the large exercise ball. That ball was heavenly since standing was a bit too intense during a contraction. It wasn't very long before I noticed how distracted I was even after the contractions. I'd open the pantry door only to forget what it was I was I needed. Jonathan must have noticed too. He helped me chop vegetables to speed up dinner preparation. Sometime after 1 pm the midwife called and he let her know that this was it. I still wasn't convinced. However, I did take the chocolate cake I'd made the previous Sunday out of the freezer, just in case. Probably a half hour later he wanted to call again. "Rachel, they are getting a lot closer. I think we should let Robin know!" "Are you sure?" He was timing them, not me, and I was afraid it was still much ado about nothing. I think I was in some serious denial at that point.

Jonathan called the midwife. For my benefit he relayed my message that I didn't want to be a "watched pot," and that "it wasn't an emergency," but Robin must have sensed the urgency in his voice because she decided to come. "I can just be in another room if Rachel prefers." About twenty minutes later I was convinced too, and asked Jonathan to call Kathi who'd offered to watch the kids for us. When talking to Kathi, I noticed he seemed a bit flustered--he gave her the old gate code. I told him and then laughed as he looked at me sheepishly. "Is the midwife coming?" Jonathan assured me that she was on her way.

First to arrive was Kathi. She's a gentle, grandmotherly lady in our ward and the kids adore her. Next came Joi, the assistant midwife, and finally Robin and her apprentice, Heather, arrived sometime around 2:30. (My times are not precise- I was a bit preoccupied!) Dinner was ready, but I stayed in the kitchen swaying my hips on my ball. At some point I decided I needed to move upstairs with my friend, the ball. The midwives were all set up with their supplies in the bedroom when I arrived.
Jonathan called Gwen, our photographer, and she arrived a little after 3.

I spent more time laboring on the ball and then in the tub. The water didn't help as much as I would have liked, so I got back on my ball.

For this labor what I needed most was the light embrace or touch of my friend, companion, and lover.  Unlike other births I didn't feel the need for massage or counter-pressure; I just needed him- and he was there.


It helped to make soft "Ah" sounds during the peak of the contractions, so that is what I did!

Jonathan labored with me the most, but every once in a while he needed to heed the call of nature or of the wild (Isaac). Robin filled in for him beautifully while he was gone.

Joi was a hoot. Anyone who can turn the topic of postpartum belly binding into a comedy routine is golden.  Here she is on the right with Heather on the left.

Melissa wandered in and out periodically. She had so many things to discuss and questions galore. "Umbilical is a funny word huh? I used to say bilical, but that's not right. UM-bilical. What's this for? Do you like origami?" She was a welcome distraction. You can't get too serious or grumpy with a happy six year old in the room.

Matthew came home from school at about 3:20. He peeked his head in and I told him that his baby sister was coming today. Satisfied that all was well, he went back downstairs to play computer games. 

That ball and I were on good terms.  At some point I remember sighing, "I suppose I'll have to get off when it is time to push."  The midwives chuckled, "Not necessarily.  We had one lady who just rolled forward and we caught while she was still on the ball."  She pantomimed how it was done and I couldn't help but laugh at the picture in my mind of a large pregnant woman in that position.  Whatever works!

Checking the baby's heart rate

Robin checked about every 20-30 minutes, and more frequently toward the end.  She sounded great throughout the labor.

A few times I grumbled that this was not the day she was supposed to come.  I wanted her to wait since Melissa and Isaac had been sick and I had it in my head that she would be a few days "late" anyway.  I was banking on a June baby, not May.  Robin told me I needed to open my heart and allow her to come.  She was ready and I needed to welcome her.  Of course she was right, and I didn't argue out loud or in my head again.  Instead, I changed my attitude to welcome this new little soul and even spoke to her and told her she could come into our home. 

This picture was taken after we found out I was at 8 centimeters with a "bulging bag."  As always, Robin was respectful and asked first if I wanted her to check the progress and then asked if I wanted to know the dilation.  I told Robin flat out that I did NOT want to know if it was still a 4 or thereabouts like the morning prenatal. I would have been quite grumpy if still a 4, in fact.  She said with a grin, "nope, try twice that." Now that is reason to smile.

 At about this point my legs were a bit shaky during the contractions and they took *all* of my focus.   They were very intense and I felt a deep aching that would grow, peak, and subside.  However, between contractions I felt great!  During the breaks I sipped water and chatted.  The labor was gentle and the contractions never got too close or to the point where I felt like I could not ride on top of them.  I just focused on relaxing my body and muscles so that it could do the necessary work as efficiently as possible.  

This is 15 minutes before Corinna was born.  It was hard work (and it wasn't pain-free), but I laughed her out.  
Shortly after the contractions picked up in intensity, Joi suggested that I might want to try to empty my bladder since that may act as a barrier for the baby's head. That sounded like an excellent suggestion so I made a dash to the bathroom. Since the midwife had said earlier that the bag was bulging I also wondered if a little push would break it, because I was feeling DONE.

A small push was all it took; the membranes broke, and the water gushed into the toilet. It was nice and clear with flakes of vernix.  Then the nausea hit.  Joi was prepared with wastepaper basket.  I wasn't bothered though since I was expecting it (I've thrown up in my previous labors too), and it meant that the baby was coming very, very soon.

I waited for a contraction to come, stood up and PUSHED. I could feel her head moving down. Instinctively I reached down and cupped my hand to receive her.  I felt her head swell and grow into the palm of my hand.  Incredible!  The contraction ended, but the pressure was too much and I pushed some more. Paused. Another contraction came on the heels of the last, her head crowned, and then was out! Still there was a great deal of pressure and I was momentarily baffled. Melissa and Isaac were born with one good push, but I had to push again to get her generous shoulders and chest out. I thought for sure I had torn since this was the first time I ever felt that "ring of fire." To me it was more like a ring of stinging- but I was wrong. No tears! The whole "pushing stage" took a total of 2 minutes.  She was fairly quick.


Here's her head!

She's out!
I looked down and saw her for the first time.

A feeling of awe and amazement came over me as I held and gazed at her.  The labor resulted in such a wondrous reward!
She was caught by Jonathan, Robin, and me.

The time was 4:24, on Friday afternoon.  From the time the contractions resumed till birth was about 4 hours. 

We let the kids know that their little sister was on the scene. Kathi brought Matthew and Isaac upstairs. (Unbeknownst to me, Melissa had slipped into the room as Corinna was being born.)  Kathi exclaimed, "I can't believe you've already had the baby! I didn't hear any screams or anything!" Corinna had a pretty peaceful birth. The midwives said that neither she nor I had to work too hard. I still thought it was definitely work!

Kathi with the kids meeting Corinna- just a few minutes after birth

Post-baby bliss

Big sister Melissa

And big brother Matthew

Melissa cuts the cord.  She finally got the little sister she'd been wanting!

First time in Daddy's arms.

Checking out all the parts


Placenta lesson!

8lbs 4oz!

We celebrated with a chocolate birthday cake

Matthew holding his sister for the first time. When he held her he sighed, "I love this baby." Melissa and Isaac really wanted to hold Corinna too, but under the circumstances we felt they should wait a while longer till we were sure they were completely better.

Sucking her thumb. She isn't content unless she's sucking something. I think she must have had lots of practice in utero.

Checking out little sis

The whole family



I can't wait! What a beautiful story and great pictures!
CraftyEarthMama said…
Beautiful, love the pictures!!
Jennifer said…
Thank you for sharing your story, and the photos were beautiful.
I also had Robin as a midwife for my daughter who was born the 9th of June...I'm guessing they were pretty close :)
Sabine Lavine said…
Those pics are breathtaking!
Jenn said…
beautiful - takes me right back to my first pregnancy & birth.

I love your site. Thank you for writing and maintaining it. I own a site too and I know it is hard work. <3