A Family Birth: A Birth Boot Camp Birth Story
We are thrilled to share this birth story with you today. Emily shares the story of the birth of her youngest baby and first son. Emily was one of our instructors and we adore her. This sweet story includes sweet sisters watching over their mama, a porch, and a loving father.
Enjoy this incredible family birth story.
A huge thank you to the photographer, Stephanie Benger, who allowed us to share a few photos. You can find all of them on her website, as well as many others.
My due date was the next day, and I was trying to keep myself as busy as possible to avoid thinking about my baby most likely not coming before his or her due date. That afternoon, my husband, three daughters, and I had sat on the front porch, next to the just-in-case all-readied birth pool, eating fresh peaches we’d purchased from a produce stand a few miles down the road. We debated going to fellowship with our church small group that evening, thinking that it would be nice for me to rest, but also realizing that my mind did not need to be idle, either. So we loaded up in the car and headed to our pastor’s home to meet with a few other families.
I distinctly remember sitting in the recliner most of that time because I was tired. My youngest daughter, Jemima, hopped up and sweetly cozied up with me; someone took a photo of us that I will always treasure: my gigantic belly, my tired smile, and Jemima’s rosy cheeks. We had no idea that Jemima would only be the baby of the family for a few more hours!
As some families began to leave our small group meeting, I felt kind of… gassy. I couldn’t really put my finger on how exactly I felt, but I thought maybe if I excused myself and tried to go to the bathroom, I may feel better. I told my husband that I wanted to leave after I was done. I finished up in the bathroom, feeling no different, but also reconciling the fact that I wasn’t exactly uncomfortable, just… weird.
I certainly wasn’t feeling like I was in labor, though I felt kind of panicky like I should go home, now. (This really should have been a clue for me…!) I came out of the bathroom and seeing my children still rolling all over the floor, nobody putting shoes on or sensing at all my urgency to leave, I took a deep breath and firmly told them that we needed to GO. NOW.
I scooped up one child and essentially dragged another outside, while the third trailed in my progressively frenzied wake. My husband made it to the car in the driveway and asked what the hurry was. I said, “I’m just going to call Sheryl (our midwife) and tell her I’m feeling funny. I’m not in labor, but she might have a tip to make me a little more comfortable.”
As we drove back home, I talked with my midwife and she said she’d gather up her things and come and check on me. I thought this was unnecessary because she lives an hour and twenty minutes away, and I didn’t want her to drive all that way just to have a lady pass some gas and feel better (or something equally embarrassing). She also said she was calling a backup apprentice midwife who was a little closer than she was, just for her own reassurance, to come check on me before she could get to my house.
We arrived home and I put Jemima right to bed. I still didn’t think I was in labor, but with several women on their way, I thought it would be best if she was tucked away and sleeping during all the hubbub. The next thing I did was go to my bathroom, strip my clothes off and sit on the toilet. It felt so nice to sit there (another clue…!) and my husband walked in and said, “I just called your mom and told her she should come on.” I was now definitely feeling the pressure to have a baby, with people on their way to my house… but I wasn’t in labor!
I told him I wasn’t having a baby and wished he hadn’t called. He said I was “acting like I was having a baby,” and I finally thought I might just trust him. I mentioned that I might feel better to go outside and sit in the birth pool, and he replied that he had already started adding hot water to it. It was starting to sink in– I might be having a baby tonite!
Suddenly, on my way out to the birth pool, it hit me. I KNEW the baby was coming. I told my husband to please text a few of our friends and update them, telling them that our midwife was still an hour or so away and I felt a little anxious that this baby might just fall out without her (my previous births had also been very short).
We heard back from several friends, one of whom asked if they could come over and support us (she is a retired labor and delivery nurse, her husband is a cardiologist, and their daughter had just graduated from nursing school and was about to begin her career as a labor and delivery nurse). I said, “Please come!” I really thought it would just be a nice distraction to have some company.
My oldest two daughters had previously packed their own “birth bags” with snacks and quiet activities to keep occupied while they observed the birth. They got their jammies on, and gathered around the pool, asking questions, and keeping me entertained while I kept comfortable in the birth pool.
Our photographer arrived. (My husband had, without my knowledge, alerted her that I might be in labor.) Our three friends arrived. My mom and dad arrived– and I was thrilled: they had wanted to be present for my previous births, but because they had been so quick, they had always just missed them. I was feeling more comfortable, but still anxious that my midwife wouldn’t make it. Our porch was full of friends, and our hearts felt relieved that we were not alone.
Our midwife stayed on speaker phone with us the whole time and told me that I just needed to keep breathing and that she would be there shortly. My husband stayed by my side, praying with me, encouraging me, and holding my hand. I moaned deep and low through my contractions, which didn’t feel alarmingly painful yet.
However, then I started to feel “pushy” and asked our nurse friend to please check me–I was certain that my mind was playing tricks on me. She looked me in the eyes and said, “Well, you’re ready! …. KEEP BREATHING!” I breathed through several contractions, praying that our midwife would arrive quickly (and safely!) to our home.
She did. Her hour-and-twenty-minute drive had only taken forty-five. I was amazed and so relieved I almost cried but found I was so preoccupied I didn’t. Right behind her, up pulled her backup midwife, who had been closer to us, but hadn’t realized the urgency of the situation. Sheryl told me that if I was ready, I could push, but that everything was fine, I was fine; we dopplered baby’s heartbeat and found everything perfect. I didn’t feel any urge to push at this time, so I breathed through these tough contractions. I knew baby was coming- I couldn’t get still or comfortable.
I moved all around the pool and finally settled on my hands and knees. Another contraction: I breathed low and moaned through it and felt that ring of fire. After that, an almighty push and baby was out.
The porch erupted into cheers. My two girls watched in awe, silently, and had been coached and talked to through the whole process. I was so thankful for our village around us, supporting us and loving us through this. I snuggled our baby in the pool for several minutes and then we realized that we hadn’t checked to see if this was a boy or a girl— a quick peek and my husband saw we had a tiny, beautiful son!
We were so thrilled and announced his name- Valor Koert. We prayed that if God granted us a son, we would raise him to be a man of valor: strong, honorable, courageous, respected.
We continued to snuggle in the pool and then eventually got up and walked into the house to take a warm bath together. We enjoyed ourselves, and then finally went through assessing mother and baby, taking measurements, diapering, clothing, etc. I stayed in bed and Valor was proudly paraded into the living room to his many adoring fans.
What a day it had been– and it was only a little after 8 pm!
If you want to see the incredible photographs from this birth, you can find them all here.