Francis Joseph’s Birth Day–My Healing Homebirth

Anneliese’s birth was good, by so many standards. Almost everything I had prioritized happened. I labored at home as long as possible with my husband and my doula, drank normally at the hospital and had no IV fluids, had no interventions like AROM/pitocin/epidural/other drugs, had intermittent (rather than constant) fetal monitoring, made use of the shower/birth ball/squat bar, and had a vaginal birth, delayed cord clamping, no vaccines/vitamin k/antibiotic eye drops for baby, healthy baby, healthy mama.

But those aren’t the only things that matter. And through the last 20 months, as I’ve reflected on her birth and my experience, certain things kept coming to the surface and really REALLY bothering me. The drive to the hospital was tense and uncomfortable. I couldn’t even sit in the car seat because of my back pain (it was all back labor), so I kneeled backwards, hugging the seat back, for the 25-minute drive. At the hospital, my hep lock was placed (the compromise to having no IV fluids) which took a lot of struggle and pain and a couple of “tries” before it was successful, all while I was having painful back contractions. I hurt myself due to the hospital room/equipment a few times – the shower seat fell on me, and during some monitoring while I sat on the ball I slipped and jammed my legs into the pointy junk under the bed.

While labor in general was pretty flexible, positioning-wise, it’s hard to get “comfortable” on a narrow awkward bed, and few other options (whereas at home, I could bury my face in the couch cushions, knees on the floor, which was the position that felt most “right” to me). And once the midwife determined it was time to have the baby, I was coerced into lying on my back, which was the most uncomfortable thing possible for me, and incidentally also makes the opening for the baby to come through the pelvis smaller, doesn’t allow baby to rotate into position as well, and allows gravity to help very little. After over four hours of unproductive pushing, while imagining surgeons outside my door with scalpels at the ready, dying to perform a C-section, I agreed to an episiotomy in my exhaustion. 55+ stitches later, the midwife was finished with her job…

And in my birth-hormone high, I didn’t care about any of that. I was just so happy to have my baby in my arms. But as the months ticked by, I realized I felt threatened, bullied, and disrespected in my birthing. It was not the peaceful blissful experience I had wanted, and even though I was extremely educated in my choices and had the support of my wonderful husband and my doula, I feel as if somewhere along the line, I completely lost control of the situation. And I needed to feel in control. I needed to feel safe.

I decided this time would be different.


From the beginning of this pregnancy, I knew I wanted a homebirth. My husband took a little bit of convincing, but since we now live on base so close to the hospital, he felt more comfortable with the idea than when we lived in town. He also agreed that the hospital didn’t feel like the most comfortable and safe place for me (which isn’t to say it isn’t the best thing for MANY other women), and supported me in my desire to take control of the situation and to choose care providers who were more aligned with my preferences and goals.

Thankfully, I have a great support network of “crunchy” mamas in the area, and before long, I had a short list of homebirth midwives to contact. Several people had glowing reviews of a particular midwife, and I met with her to see if we were a “match.” She seemed really nurturing and protective, hands-off, and experienced, plus I liked her personality from the beginning. So I didn’t bother meeting with the other midwives in the area.

I “signed up” with Detrah and saw her, along with the OBs at the hospital for concurrent care (base hospital care is covered by my insurance, including labs/tests/ultrasounds, but my midwifery care was not. I also wanted the hospital to be familiar with me and my pregnancy in case I needed to transfer for any reason during birth), for the rest of my pregnancy.

So our “homebirth team” would be me and my husband, my midwife Detrah, her midwife partner Alex, and our doula Coleen (who was with us for Anneliese’s birth). I didn’t worry much about Anneliese. The entire pregnancy, I had a feeling she would be asleep in her bed at night when it was time to have this baby, and that she would sleep through it. I also thought that if she were to be awake, she would probably go about her business, playing with toys, eating, wanting to be with me on and off, but not be bothered by birth. We watched some videos of homebirths and water births, and she was very interested in the mamas and babies, and not at all “freaked out” even by the moms who were more vocal during their labors. I also felt that Zora would sense the energy and be pretty calm, and although we planned to have someone to call in case she needed to go elsewhere, we didn’t have that plan in place before Joseph’s birth day.


The theme of my pregnancy and birth became “different is good.” I didn’t want a repeat of Anneliese’s birth, even though so many parts of it went so well. I didn’t want so much back pain in pregnancy, so I saw a chiropractor every couple of weeks, and every week toward the end as prevention. I didn’t want 2 weeks of prodromal labor. I hoped the chiropractor would help with that too. I wanted to avoid back labor at all costs. So when I got Braxton-Hicks contractions that were “all belly” with zero back pain? I celebrated. I loved my Braxton-Hicks contractions. Because they were different.

Anneliese liked to hang out on the left side of my uterus through my entire pregnancy with her. Joseph was on the right, always. Detrah would shake her head and tell him to move to the left, because babies with their backs to the right end up with mamas having back labor. But to me, different was good, so I was happy to have him on the right side throughout the pregnancy. Anneliese was a gymnast in utero. Joseph was completely “chill.” Different. Good. It wasn’t about Anneliese’s birth being BAD, but I needed reassurance that this one wasn’t going to be hers, repeated. I needed reminders that every pregnancy and each birth is completely unique.

I listened to the Hypnobabies pregnancy affirmations track often in the last weeks. I also listened to other tracks about deep relaxation and creating anesthesia, and practiced the techniques, but not nearly as much as I “should have” if I really wanted to have a Hypnobabies birth. Still, some of the lessons were useful to me, and some of the phrases and imagery helped while I was in labor.


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Me at 39 weeks pregnant (yes, in my underwear), the day before Joseph was born.

The day before Joseph was born, I woke up with horrible SI joint pain on one side. It hurt to walk, and I couldn’t pick Anneliese up without a lot of pain. My husband had the day off of work, and we took Anneliese to a class at the community center that morning. I spent most of the class sitting in the lobby area of the resource center, trying to get an appointment with a chiropractor. Mine had pneumonia, but I finally got squeezed in with another chiropractor in the area. After Anneliese’s class was over, Topher dropped me off at the chiro office and took Anneliese to get a small list of snacks for my friend Joni who had just had her baby, Max.

It wasn’t too long before I was seen, and the chiropractor was very thorough. I felt incredibly better as soon as I left his office. After that, we went to visit Joni and her new baby. We chatted for a while and I held Max some, and had a few contractions while we visited.

Throughout the day, Joseph moved a lot. Not little kicks like his normal movements, but rolling around. At one point, he felt like he was completely sideways in my body, then I felt that he had settled again, head down. I couldn’t tell exactly where his body was but it wasn’t on the right side as it had been for most of my pregnancy.

My contractions also began to change. They had been “belly only” but now I started to feel some start with uterine tightening, followed by a “belt” of …not exactly pain… but different feeling… under my belly, which I interpreted as possible cervical change happening. I was excited to see a little bit of bloody mucus (just slightly tinged pink) when I went to the bathroom, because that meant SOMEthing was changing.

Detrah was out of town, but I knew she would be back the next day because we had an appointment together. I just didn’t know what time she was coming home. So I sent her a text message, letting her know things were a little bit different (“Feels very different than pre/prodromal labor with A. This feels useful and good.”), and asking her when she would be home, just in case. She told me she was just getting back home and to let her know if I needed her.

The next morning, Friday, March 30th, I sent Detrah another text,

“Wasn’t 100% sure if I was having contractions all night and sleeping between/through them or if I was just dreaming about having them. Then this morning , a little more blood and a clump of mucus – part of mucus plug?? Whee! Also in my dream you called me on the phone to tell me to check on my chickens in the garage because you ‘had a feeling,’ so I went in the garage and I had like 10 chickens and 30 or so just-hatched baby chicks. Obvious birth reference. Dreams are funny. Chickens??”

Then, I cleaned. Last-minute nesting?

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Later on, before our noon appointment, Detrah asked me for an update. I told her I was still contracting and they still felt “productive,” that I had had some more bloody show, but that I wasn’t having contractions as close together as I had been that morning. She decided not to bring all of her birth equipment to our appointment.

Anneliese’s nap time came and went without her sleeping at all… she would lie down in bed, but as soon as Topher or I would close the door, she would hop up and knock on the door for us. So after a while, we gave up on her napping and let her hang out with us.

Detrah arrived at noon and we had our regular appointment. Everything was good, and I asked Detrah if she could feel where Joseph was since he had been moving around so much and I felt like he was in a different place. She said his back was on the left side, slightly toward mine, which is optimal for the beginning of labor, so the baby can twist on the way out, without being spine-to-spine with me.

Detrah told me to clasp my hands under my belly, and gently lift at the peak of each contraction, in order to help Joseph settle into my pelvis for birth, so throughout the rest of the day, that’s what I did.

A while after Detrah left, I was super-sleepy, and Anneliese wanted to nurse non-stop, so I took her to bed with me. She nursed while I dozed and had contractions, and after a while, she fell asleep for a little bit on me. It was hard for me to lay there for very long though, because I really needed to use the bathroom (hello 39 weeks pregnant).

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So we got up and went for a family walk. The walk wasn’t very long, because of the having-to-pee thing, so we changed mode and decided to sit in the yard on balls instead. That way I could run in and out of the house as much as I wanted.

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Then it was time to start making dinner, so I made this delicious gluten-free chicken and dumplings.

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Anneliese was crazy-tired from having no nap, so Topher ran her a bath while I was still eating my dinner (I guess I was eating slower than they were?). At 7:07pm, I finished my dish and stood up to clear the table, when a little trickle of fluid ran down my leg. I haven’t ever been one to accidentally pee myself, pregnant or not, so I knew for sure my water had broken. I waddled down the hall as quickly as I could, to sit on the toilet, and excitedly asked Topher to get the PH swab thingy Detrah had left with us. As soon as I touched it to the wetness on my clothes, it turned dark purple, indicating it was amniotic fluid.

While I sat on the toilet, I called Coleen, who said she was coming, then Detrah, who asked me if I’d like her to come. I know a lot of people have their water break and things still take hours to “pick up,” so I told her I really wasn’t sure yet. She told me to call her back in 15 minutes and let her know. After three far more intense contractions, I called her back and told her I needed her.

Meanwhile, Topher was trying to get Anneliese to settle for bed, but she definitely knew something was happening, and didn’t want to go to bed. It was the same story as naptime. She would seem to be ready to sleep, but as soon as the door closed, she would hop up and knock on the door for us. We both tried to help her relax, and I even nursed her a little bit while I sat on the toilet, but the contractions were too much and eventually we gave up … she was in her room with the door closed, but not in bed, but since she wasn’t upset, we felt okay letting her be up in her room. I figured after a while we could get her out to join us if she was still awake.

I went to the kitchen and called my oldest sister, Julie, to let her know it was “baby time” and to ask her to please call my other sisters and parents just to let them know, and to tell everyone we would call them the next day (it was already late on the East Coast where they all are). During the phone call, I had a contraction, and since they were getting more intense, I couldn’t talk to her through it. She seemed worried and was asking me questions like, “I don’t hear anything; is anyone there with you? Are you alone? Are you okay?” When the contraction was over, I told her everything was fine, Topher was here, and that my doula and midwife were on their way, but since I only had about 3-4 minutes to talk in between contractions, that’s why I needed her to be the “messenger.” She told me she would make the calls, and that she was excited for me, and we hung up.

Once we hung up, I got my birth day cake recipe I had printed out, and started to gather ingredients. Except that I only had time to gather 2 ingredients before another contraction. And unlike when I was in labor with Anneliese, leaning forward on the counter wasn’t comfortable (well, I use the word “comfortable” liberally… it’s labor). Standing straight wasn’t comfortable either. I moved through this contraction, trying to find a position that worked, and to my surprise, the position my body wanted to be in was the exact position I thought I would avoid at all costs… semi-reclined (I leaned back against the cabinets as I sat on the floor, with my hips relaxed and legs out in front of me). Topher came into the room after calling his mother, and I stood up and told him I wanted to start making Joey’s birth day cake. But before I could even get out one more ingredient, another contraction arrived and I was back on the floor (this time, with my husband sitting behind me, supporting me, which was much nicer). After one more try to get cake ingredients out, and another contraction, I sadly admitted that a birth day cake wasn’t going to happen, and we moved to the living room where the carpeted floors were much more comfortable.

Topher ran back and forth between the kitchen, to straighten up from dinner and to clear a spot for the birth pool, and the living room to comfort me through my contractions. After a little while, Coleen arrived and joined me in the living room, where we chatted and caught up on the evening in between contractions. I also checked twitter a little bit, and tweeted “These are super intense. So glad I’m going into this ‘fresh’ without 2 weeks of prodromal labor this time.” Topher finished getting the kitchen ready for the birth pool, and made our bed (fitted sheet, then a vinyl waterproof sheet, then another fitted sheet, in case I wanted to labor or birth on the bed).

A bit later (8:35), Detrah arrived, followed by Alex, and after some hellos and catching up, the three of them (Detrah, Alex, and Topher) set up the birth pool while Coleen stayed with me. The last time we checked our video monitor, Anneliese was still awake, so I tweeted, “Toddler won’t go to bed so she will be joining us for a while. I think she will be ok with it.” but when we peeked again? “Anneliese put herself back to bed. Yay. and my doula is amazing.”

My contractions all had a bit of back pain involved by now, but they weren’t back labor like last time. Definitely “normal” and so coping techniques helped a lot more. Coleen or Topher pressing on my sacrum for counterpressure felt amazing. Other times, they would press the tops of my hips firmly inward (one of them on each side of me), which also helped a lot. I also used some of the hypnobabies visualization and relaxation techniques, which I think helped me keep my entire body looser. And deep slow breathing with some low vocalization during exhales helped me to focus. I also liked to have Topher’s and Coleen’s hands on me… just gently stroking or rubbing my belly or my legs, arms, back, anything… which I definitely would have hated during Anneliese’s labor when I had such intense pain. This time, those touches felt like support and encouragement.

Since my photographer-friend arrangement fell through (she never got her base pass, so it would’ve been pointless to call), Alex took a few pictures for me with my camera and with her phone. I’m so glad she did that, because I really wanted some visual keepsake of this labor and birth. We kept the lights very low, and it was dark outside, so the photos are a bit blurry (I think flash would have bothered me), but blurry is how I remember it, so I suppose it’s fitting.

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After not too long (9:30), Detrah asked if I’d like to get into the birth pool. I asked if it was too early, and she assured me it was a great time if I’d like to try it. The water was warm but not hot, and while it took me a little while to figure out a good way to labor in the pool, it was very relaxing.

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Coleen gave me a really nice massage with some lavender oil, which I’ve come to associate with Anneliese since I massage her with coconut oil mixed with lavender after her baths, so the scent of it was positive for me (more than it would’ve been 2 years ago with no personal association). I thought of Anneliese sleeping sweetly in her bed while we were all working so hard to bring her a brother, to make her a big sister, and the thought made me feel focused. I feel like this paragraph doesn’t do a good job explaining my thoughts, but in labor, the more “animal” thoughts don’t so much have words to go with them… I keep thinking of the word “safe” but that’s not quite right either.

Topher got into the pool with me, and rubbed my back, and put pressure on my sacrum during contractions.

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In between contractions, at first we talked a little. I drank some water, and so forth.

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But after a few, I feel like I went into myself. I didn’t want to deal with changing positions or even opening my eyes. I wanted to keep my entire body as relaxed as possible, so I just leaned into Topher and let my hips open, and rode a couple of them that way. Coleen told me later she thought I had gone to sleep, but I definitely hadn’t. Detrah later told me that I “faked her out” a bit because things seemed to space out a bit more and become less intense in the water. I think the water just helped me cope more.

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Then the water started to cool off too much, and suddenly my legs were cramping. The pool seemed far too small at this point, because I couldn’t get comfortable with my legs cramping so much… I took some calcium-magnesium to try to help with the cramps, and ate half of a popsicle to see if the sugar would help, and Detrah massaged my legs to try to get them to relax.

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I really didn’t want to get out, but the water needed to be warmer, and I needed to stretch my legs. So, one more contraction…

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…and then I got out. I had only been in the pool for less than an hour, but it felt like longer to me. The water was cold but the air outside of the pool seemed colder, and with my legs still cramping, I was unsteady on my feet. Shivering. Another contraction came, and I held onto Coleen for support. Standing and otherwise vertical positions were much harder to cope with, so it was a hard one.

(10:21) Topher and I moved to the bathroom while Detrah, Alex, and Coleen heated up some more water for the pool and bailed some out to make room for it.

I had tried to pee in the pool (don’t say that’s gross… you can hurt yourself – bruised urethra anyone? – if you don’t pee in labor. And a full bladder will make it harder for the baby to come out) but apparently I didn’t/couldn’t, because as soon as I sat on the toilet, my bladder completely relaxed and released. It’s a mental thing. The toilet is where we’re used to letting go of everything “down there” and this is why a lot of people like to labor on the toilet… things happen faster. There’s less inhibition.

I was planning to sit through a few contractions on the toilet, and then return to the pool and its newly-reheated water to continue laboring. After the second contraction on the toilet, I said something to Topher… I’m not sure what, and he doesn’t remember either, but I think it was along the lines of how I didn’t want to labor forever, and I wanted the baby to come out, and I was feeling a bit anxious about the pushing part (remember, it was over 4 hours and mostly unproductive last time), and I didn’t want to tear.

Then? Another contraction. (10:28) It started normally, but then had a second peak where BAM, baby wanted to come out and I was pushing involuntarily. Detrah heard my “pushy sounds” and everyone hurried to me. Detrah came into the bathroom and took a look to see if any baby head was showing yet (no), and I told her, “I don’t want to have my baby on the toilet!” She assured me that she didn’t want that either, and that I wouldn’t have him there. I don’t remember this, but she said I asked to go back to the pool and get in the water, but there definitely wasn’t time, and Detrah said it was still cold anyway. I wouldn’t have made it down the hall. Alex and Coleen got the bed ready (the bathroom we were in is right off of the master bedroom) with chux pads and pulled the blanket and top sheet off.

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I got onto the bed, and wasn’t sure what to do but I knew the next contraction was coming soon. Someone told me to lie on my side, and as I got into that position, the next contraction came. Joseph’s head was right there. I reached down to feel him. I could feel his hair, and knew I would meet him soon. Detrah reminded me to pant “as if you’re blowing out candles” through the next contraction so that I could push more slowly. I thought of the page I had read in Birthing From Within that described slow controlled pushing, and feeling the baby’s eyes , then nose, then mouth and chin… then pushing out baby’s body. I was aiming for that. I wanted to make this part go slowly so that I would have time to stretch and not tear.

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The next contraction came, and I took little breaths, “panting,” and Joseph was crowning. I was still touching his head. (10:31)

I was going to take the next one slowly too, but as soon as the urge to push again hit me, the rest of Joseph was born, all of him, in one contraction, along with a huge gush of amniotic fluid. (10:33) I brought him up to my chest, covered in sticky beautiful vernix, and so tiny. Coleen later joked, saying that even though I didn’t birth in the water, Joseph still had a waterbirth because of the wave he rode out on.

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The next few hours were full of “wrapping things up,” which is a little bit funny, because that took as much time as the “hard labor” part of the day did. A few minutes after Joseph was born, the placenta still hadn’t been expelled yet, so Detrah gave me a tincture of cotton root bark. I had to hold it under my tongue for 30 seconds, then swallow it. It wasn’t delicious. But my contractions strengthened, and I was able to push the placenta out.

There was an amount of blood, within the range of normal, but on the high side of normal, so Detrah gave me another tincture mixture, Hem Halt, which was supposed to stop the bleeding.

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(10:45) Joseph’s umbilical cord had stopped pulsing, and Detrah clamped it so Topher could cut it.

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After a few more minutes, and some more blood, Detrah didn’t want to wait longer to see if it would stop, and gave me a shot of pitocin. Blood loss normalized after that.

Joseph latched on and began to nurse, and Alex and Detrah began cleaning up the pool while he and I had some quiet moments together.

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I couldn’t stop marveling over how tiny he was!

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Once Joseph was finished nursing, Topher got a turn to snuggle with him, and Alex and Detrah helped me to use the toilet. I wanted to shower, and I did, but I think I stayed in a bit too long and/or the water was too warm, because I felt very dizzy once I got out. My ears were ringing and my vision was spotty. So I sat on the toilet with Detrah beside me until I felt more steady, and got back into bed.

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I munched on some carrot sticks and sipped water after my shower. Meanwhile, Detrah and Alex checked me for tears, and discovered a couple of “skid marks” (think of a wound similar to rug burn) and a tiny tear. They numbed the area and Detrah sutured me (2 stitches – a breeze!) After that, she did Joseph’s newborn exam (everything was great, and he was 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and 21 inches long).

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Alex and Detrah finished cleaning up and left around 1:30am. Topher washed the dishes, and then came to bed with me and Joseph.

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The next morning, when Anneliese woke up, Topher brought her into our bedroom. She came over to the bed and said, “My baby!” She didn’t act surprised at all that there was a whole new person in the room. It was as if she had been waiting for him, and she expected him to be there.

Topher lifted her onto the bed so she could come closer, and she pointed to his ear, and said “err,” then to his hair, and said, “hair!”

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She gave me a kiss and then kissed Joseph’s head. After that, she sat back and just grinned at HER new baby. If there were ever a perfect first-meeting of new siblings, this was it. My heart pretty much exploded.

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Our first time tandem nursing. Anneliese was very excited. This was way cooler for her than tandem nursing with a doll (new baby preparation haha)! She kept reaching over to touch him and sitting up to look at him. 

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I am so thankful for Joseph’s birth going the way it did. There was so much that was different about this labor and birth than my first one, and being at home surrounded by only 100% positive people was a huge comfort.

I was able to completely let go and focus on my work, rather than focusing on “procedures” and defensively protecting myself and my baby from what is normal in hospitals. I followed what my body wanted and needed to do. I had no time constraints, and no limits on what I was “allowed” to do. I got to experience being in water in labor, and the relaxing effect it can have. I feel that since Topher wasn’t already exhausted (prodromal labor was hard on him too) he was able to be more “present” this time, and that since I wasn’t having back labor, he was able to help support me in more ways.

I loved that the three of us were able to go to bed together that first night – much nicer than me in a skinny awkward hospital bed, Topher on a fold-out chair in the hospital room, and baby in a plastic “bassinet.” The night was peaceful, no one coming in to check my blood pressure or ask me when the baby nursed the last time. And in the morning, all four of us cuddled in our pajamas in bed before having a normal breakfast of real food, not hospital food.

To me, this is what birth should be. To me, this is the way a new family member should arrive. I would have another home birth in a heartbeat. It isn’t for everyone. As I said before, some women would feel safer and more comfortable in a hospital. They should absolutely go to a hospital to have their babies. For me, the hospital made me defensive (against interventions) and physically uncomfortable. But if you think you’d like to have a home birth, you probably should.

Thank you, Joseph, for giving me the chance to heal. Thank you, Detrah, Alex, and Coleen, for respecting me and protecting me. Thank you, Topher, for supporting me through everything. And thank you, Anneliese, for stepping up to the role of Big Sister so gracefully, but also for still being my baby girl.

SAHM & Navy Wife blogging grain-free real-food recipes, cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, crafts, decor, & more.

57 Comments

  1. Becca
    Jun 09, 2013 @ 18:59:00

    Thank you so much for sharing you beautiful story (and pictures!) in such detail.
    I think we will be starting our family in the next year or so, and I have been curiously reading about hospital vs. home births (or even birth centers). I was shocked upon reading of the 30% C-section stats, the long-term pain vs. short with the addition of surgery, meds, and even hospital bills, and the fact that formula has been given to babies before they even have a chance to breastfeed! (?!?!?!!)
    Your story has pretty much sealed it for me. Thank you again for sharing, Emily. :)

    Reply

    • Emily Chapelle
      Jun 13, 2013 @ 22:06:00

      I’m so excited for you! You’re going to rock it. :) And you’re welcome. I am glad my story could help seal the deal.

      Reply

  2. Eliz. K
    Jan 17, 2013 @ 19:23:35

    Oh, this is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing his story. Wow.

    Reply

  3. Jacy
    Dec 29, 2012 @ 03:42:05

    Wow. I haven’t read much on your site yet but this birth story blew me away. I am a nurse (in the ICU) and am married with no kids yet, but I am becoming more informed about birth and the options. Before reading this I was leaning toward a birthing center birth (when I get pregnant; I’m a very future-minded planner :)) but my husband and I were talking about it and he surprised me by being totally up for a home birth if I wanted it. Reading this story sold me on it. I can’t say I’ve decided for sure because it’s a ways off, but I am much more open to the idea of a home birth now than before. :) Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  4. Kat
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 13:31:06

    Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful birth stories!

    Reply

  5. Jennifer
    Dec 01, 2012 @ 09:51:12

    I recently started reading your blog!
    If you have time & would answer a few questions for me, I’d really like to hear your opinion & reasoning. I read above you decided against vaccines, vitamin K and antibiotic eyedrops as well as had delayed cord clamping. I am not that familiar with these options and am not that informed about them. However, I did not vaccinate my baby, but was wondering about the other procedures & if you could explain why you chose this way? How did the doctors feel about your decisions?
    Thanks for your time!
    Jennifer

    Reply

  6. 7 Ways to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Baby | Joyful Abode
    Oct 25, 2012 @ 02:04:09

    [...] our family in just a few months, but I did my best to prepare her for his arrival. Considering that upon seeing him the first time, Anneliese greeted him with an affectionate, “My baby!” and sweet kisses, I think I managed to [...]

    Reply

  7. Sarah
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 18:01:44

    I have reread this after having my 2nd boy one month ago at home, a waterbirth, and our stories are very similar! Thanks for sharing yours, it inspired me going into my 2nd birth. You are a smart and good mama! I like that you said “if you think you want a homebirth, you probably should”. It’s that peace with the decision that convinced me to have mine, like you.

    Reply

  8. Tallya
    Sep 11, 2012 @ 00:16:27

    I really enjoyed reading both of your birth stories. I have an almost 5 year old boy and 11 month girl. I had my son at the hospital with an ob/gyn and my daughter at home with a planned home birth. My hospital birth was not traumatic at all, I knew nothing, did no research at the time and was induced (for no reason) at 39w6d, I was in active labor for 2 hours before my son was born. With my second pregnancy I wanted a midwife but the idea of a home birth was weird and seemed really messy to me. The midwife I chose only did home births and the more I thought about it the more appealing it became. We ended up having a perfect home birth, apparently I was in active labor for 5 hours and pushed for 20 mins. Baby girl was down and in great position for 2 weeks before birth and must have turned right before birth because as a surprise to everyone she was born breech! The midwife didn’t know until she saw baby’s butt and not head when she was crowning. Pushing the baby out this way was really really intense but if I had her at a hospital they would have done a c-section no questions asked! I, like you, am very very happy about our home birth and have only great and positive memories of it. With the second baby I had really bad back labor too, my husband was afraid he was going to break my bones with how hard he was pushing and I could barely feel it, I had bruises on my lower back!

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  9. Yuliya
    Aug 09, 2012 @ 13:03:59

    I don’t have any kids but I watched my sister give birth to both of her kids in a hospital, and it did not look good. Everything about it was uncomforting and made me feel, like you said – threatened and attacked. It felt cold, painful, impersonal. Too many people/nurses we didn’t know, grabbing my sister and grabbing the newborn baby. They didn’t let her stay in the tub a bit longer even though she was comfortable there, they gave her an episiotomy even though there was really no need for it, just to rush through so they could get out of there. The brand new baby snatched from the mom and immediately poked and prodded for blood tests and who knows what. How traumatic. From the huge needle in my sister’s back to the very end, it was terrible for me to witness. I hope that some day when I am expecting my own child/ren, that I can be as determined and strong as you were through your home birth, or at least a natural birth… All the best to you and your family!
    P.S. I think in medieval times, they did not actually give birth on beds, but rather on toilet-shaped contractions, because I think it’s logical that if you are in a seated position, gravity will assist the baby down and out! Whatever it is they make you do in hospitals now, it’s just for the doctors’ convenience.

    Reply

  10. Deborah Coleman
    Aug 04, 2012 @ 12:17:20

    I so enjoyed reading of your birth experiences. I had 9 children, 2 born in a regular hospital, 5 in an Army hospital, and 3 at home. After the horrible experiences of 3 Army births, I wanted to have my 5th baby at home. We were stationed in Germany at the time, and I could not locate a midwife, but I labored while shopping and eating out, went to the hospital, was 10cm dilated, got on the delivery table in time for the doc to catch my baby girl. I had no pain meds whatsoever, and had to get the sheets for my bed and make it. I figured I could do that at home, and all on my terms. I despised ALL of the doctor/nurse interventions and having to stay in bed. So, my next 3 sons were born at home, with a midwife at 1 birth, and a doctor at the last 2. I loved the home birthing process from start to finish. It was done the way I felt comfortable, and I was completely at ease with it. The first son was 8lb-12oz, second was 9lb-1oz, the third was 10lb-12oz, all healthy and well. I would not trade a home birth for the world. My last baby, a girl, had to be delivered via c-section as an emergency. I wanted to have her at home, also, but things seemed ‘abnormal’, so I went to the hospital. I just had a feeling something was not right. You have to be in tune with your body and listen to it. Thank God, I did, and she was born healthy. That was over 21 years ago. I now have grandchildren, 19, but I have not been able to convince any of them to have a home birth. Again, it is not for everyone, but I am so glad I did it for me. It was great, and would do it again if I were able.

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  11. Ellen
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 10:58:22

    I thought I had commented on this when I read it, but just saw it as a “You May Also Like” and realized I never commented.

    This story is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the world. I appreciate your openness and willingness to put this out there. I was born at home, as was my little sister (whose birth I was present at, at age 7), during the heyday of the 1980’s homebirthing revolution in California. I plan to have homebirths for my future children, too. It is wonderful to see mamas who feel empowered to choose this option and have supportive spouses :) I’m optimistic that homebirthing will again become a mainstream choice as more and more women learn through experiences like yours. Thanks again, for sharing, Emily!

    Reply

  12. Hannah
    Jul 05, 2012 @ 12:41:08

    Beautiful birth story. I am in the midst of daily prodromal labor (that stops each night so I can sleep!) I am so looking forward to our 1st homebirth any day now!

    Reply

  13. Ashley
    May 07, 2012 @ 11:45:31

    This is so beautiful. I had a horrible hospital experience which has made me feel uncomfortable about delivering there. Your experience has given me so much hope for my next pregnancy/delivery. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    <3

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  14. Sheila
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 14:10:20

    That is so beautiful. And so many parallels with my second birth just last week. Mine was also a homebirth after having a hospital birth last time, and what a difference! And it was also at night. Even the same middle name — Joseph!

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  15. Dani
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 17:42:58

    I have never considered a home birth but that story was wonderful! I might actually look into with our next one!

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  16. Julie
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:43:43

    You cooked dinner and then tried to BAKE A CAKE through all this? You’re amazing Em.

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  17. Kelly
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 10:20:31

    beautiful story! makes me want another one!! i think childbirth is beautiful! wow 3.5 hours after your water broke you had the baby!

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  18. Sarah
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 19:36:26

    I loved reading the whole story. Amazing!

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  19. Linda64
    Apr 26, 2012 @ 05:27:00

    Thank you for sharing this with the world. I don’t know how you managed to recreate every feeling and event you had during this very special time but I truly felt as if I were there with all of you before and during his birth. This really is very special. And you are an angel to all of us. It’s nice to hear of other wives breast feeding their children. I did and it has made us very close. I’m almost 70 and we talk with our children and plan our vacations with them. Enjoy each and every moment with yours. Time really does pass very quickly. Congratulations to all!

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  20. Kelli
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 22:31:48

    I’ve been meaning to read Joey’s homebirth story for a couple of days now, and I am so glad I finally did. Reading this brought back such wonderful, special memories of Adele’s homebirth that I am now in tears. The feelings I can remember from her birth make me want to have a dozen more babies. Birthing at home is what birth should be, what it is meant to be. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    Reply

  21. Pam Thompson
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 18:16:27

    Emily,

    This is such a wonderful story! As you know, I’ve been following your pregnancy since before you were sure you were pregnant, so it is so wonderful to see a positive and beautiful outcome!

    Enjoy your babymoon, Mama!

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  22. Arual
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 12:27:11

    I love this birth story! I just had my first home birth in March and I loved being able to make dinner (I wasn’t sure I was in labor, so I just kept moving on with my life), use my own bathroom, go to my own bed once the baby was born, etc.

    Congratulations! Now comes the fun of watching siblings develop relationships (and golly, aren’t they darling?!).

    Reply

  23. Kaye
    Apr 25, 2012 @ 02:45:57

    Fantstic birth story! VERY reassuring for me as your first birth sounds very similar to my experience (I also had a back labour) and am very apprehensive about ever giving birth in a hospital again. Beautiful, inspirational, thank you for sharing

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  24. Missa
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 20:09:40

    Anneliese calling Joseph “My baby”??? I die. So cute.

    What a beautiful birth experience.

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  25. Jen
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 19:34:52

    Emily-

    You’re story is beautiful. I’ve been waiting for you to post it! It’s so reassuring to know that another woman had the birth I’m hoping for. It’s not as far fetched as our society makes it seem. Congratulations! Welcome Joey :)

    Reply

  26. Toni
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 18:37:37

    Thank you for your amazing story. It’s healing not only for you, but for all of us who have given birth in hospitals. Thank you.

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  27. Leanne
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 14:52:16

    Every mama deserves this birth experience. Beautiful. So many congratulations on baby Joey’s arrival!

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  28. Leah
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 13:54:41

    I just had my 2nd baby (a boy) 2 months ago, but reading your beautiful story makes me want to do it all over again! My first (a girl) was born in the hospital with no meds, but we really had to fight for it and I had to push on my back and get an episiotomy, just like in your story. Overall, I say it was a great experience. I wanted a homebirth next, but that wasn’t an option here so I found a wonderful midwife (45 mintues away!) who let me have a positive hospital experience, and push how I wanted to- no stitches! It’s such hard work I always think I never want to do it again, but it doesn’t take long, especially after reading your story, to feel ready to do it again! There’s such a high that comes with birthing a baby naturally (or at all I suppose) and bringing a new life into the world.. congratulations!

    Reply

  29. Jessica
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 12:31:32

    Ok now that I have stopped bawling, wow, just wow! What an amazing birth story!

    When I was little and my mom had my sister? I said the same thing, she was “my baby”.

    I can’t wait to go through birth again with my second! I can’t wait to see Dustin’s reaction. :)

    Your family is completely adorable.

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  30. Anna
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 11:28:23

    I don’t have any babies, and don’t even know if I want to have any at this point, but you make home birth seem really, really wonderful. I hate the idea of having to go to the hospital, being surrounded by machines, and being uncomfortable. It’s fantastic that you were able to sleep in your own bed with your husband and new little one when the birth was over!

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  31. Rosie
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 11:24:41

    I’m glad To hear I’m not the only one who got teary over your birth story! It was beautiful and I’m so glad this was a better experience for you! It’s making me seriously consider other options for my next birth! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  32. Rebekah
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 10:05:45

    Oh my goodness! Such a beautiful story! You’re an inspiration.

    Reply

  33. Lindsey
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 09:21:48

    Beautiful story! I’m so happy for you and your family!

    Reply

  34. AustinGirl
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 08:41:56

    Oh, I am just so happy for you, and your family! Congrats to all of you, and welcome to your newest member!

    Reply

  35. Lauren
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 07:48:21

    I also meant to mention something else in my comment…
    You said that your insurance didn’t cover your home birth. Depending on what insurance you have, some of them will reimburse you for the cost of your home birth. My husband and I paid out of pocket for my midwifery care and afterwards we filed a claim with our insurance and sent the super bill. We may not get all of our money back but something is better than nothing, even if they only pay for the postpartum care. It’s something to look into if you haven’t already :)

    Reply

  36. Sarah D
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 07:46:48

    I am so happy for you! Thank you for sharing your pics. I cried! This makes me look forward to my 2nd birth, a homebirth after hospital, in August. Well done mama!

    Reply

  37. Annie Wendt
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 07:17:04

    Thank you for sharing your story, this was so wonderful to read. Holy baby fever now, though!! What an awesome, awesome birth experience. I too am a fan of birth at home (after my first was also born in a hospital, and everything was “just fine”), I can’t wait to do it again. :)

    Reply

  38. Shannon Bell
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 07:12:51

    I’ve never commented, but this was just beautiful! I’m so happy for you and wanted to thank you for sharing with us. I’m in med school and considering obgyn, but nothing gets me like a natural and beautiful birth the way our bodies intended :-)

    Reply

  39. Life As Wife
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 06:24:59

    Oh I want this experience! So happy for you and Topher!

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  40. Hannah
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 06:17:57

    So happy for you all, what an amazing experience. “Healing” is what resonated most with me, and I’m so happy that your second birth was a healing experience for you!

    Reply

  41. Lauren
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 06:00:21

    Thank you for sharing, such a beautiful story! I’m happy for you that your home birth went so well. I had my daughter at home and it was amazing. I don’t have a hospital birth do compare it to, but if I were to have another child, I’d have another home birth. I loved being free to do what I wanted. I had a birth pool too, although it was not relaxing for me, it pushed me into transition. I related with you about being on the toilet LOL. It was “comfortable” to be on the toilet, I knew things were happening so I spent a lot of time there.
    You have a beautiful family. Congratulations and take care!

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  42. Allison
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 05:53:49

    What an awesome, awesome story! I am completely in awe of you and the next time I go through this, I might just want to have a home birth now!

    Reply

  43. Kat
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 05:43:57

    What a beautiful birth story. Thank you for sharing your experience. Annaliese was terrific, what a wonderful big sister she will be. Congratulations to you all and may your days be continued to be filled with love and joy as your family grows up together.

    Kat

    Reply

  44. Jess @ MomEinstein
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 05:42:01

    What a beautiful birth story! I love all the details and how personal it all was. Your birth team sounds amazing. Anneliese is adorable and such a great big sister. :-)

    Reply

  45. Diana @ frontyardfoodie
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 05:40:07

    Naturally, I’m bawling. Such a beautiful story and I am so incredibly happy for you and your family.

    As I get close to my second baby I’ve had a lot of thoughts on little things I hope go differently and like you, my first was back labor after weeks of prodromal and not wanting to be touched during labor was sort of sad to me. I hope that is different this time like it was for you!

    Reply

  46. Kathryn
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 04:58:10

    I love your story, and that is a beautiful tandem nursing picture!

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  47. Amy Lynne
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 04:27:08

    Awesome story! If we have anymore monkeys it will be a home birth for us too! Enjoy your new little man!

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  48. Janine @ Alternative Housewife
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 00:16:23

    Congrats – What a great story!

    Being checked all night was by far the most annoying part of our hospital birth. I hate that in hospitals in general – Makes me want to scream! Getting to share a bed with my husband right after sounds heavenly too… Maybe we’ll do something closer to a home birth next time.

    Reply

  49. Toni Raquel
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 22:03:36

    What a beautiful homebirth story!!! I’m so happy you had such a quick and “easy” labor this time around. What a perfect birth. Your family is gorgeous, congrats on the handsome new little man!

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  50. Kari S.
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:58:22

    So awesome! Thank you for sharing! My second child was alot easier as well. Oddly enough, standing helped me the 2nd time around. And what was even better was that I was able to nurse my second child, he latched on perfectly! Congrats on your your new member of your family!

    Reply

  51. alissa
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:47:22

    Love love love. Your journey hospital to homebirth almost exactly mirrors mine. Isn’t it wonderful to do it your way? Beautiful family. Love your blog. Thanks for sharing your lovely story.

    Reply

  52. Dallely
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:40:26

    Beautiful birth story! I love the part how you described going to sleep in your own bed with Joseph and your husband, I’m sure that felt amazing.

    Reply

  53. Jasmine
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:30:11

    The part where you say you don’t feel like the paragraph explained your feelings well enough was my favorite part. It’s the part of Joseph’s birth story I connected with the most. This made me so teary eyed and i feel empowered to have the birth experience I want next time. So well written, thank you for sharing such an intimate moment

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  54. Chani-Claire
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:29:22

    So beautiful! I teared up every time you mentioned Annelise. I don’t know why but I just love what a sweet little girl she is and her role as first born but still your baby. Thank you for always sharing the intimate. You have such a positive, laid back perspective that I really appreciate.

    Reply

  55. Amber
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:25:51

    <3

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  56. Barbara
    Apr 23, 2012 @ 21:35:53

    Beautifull story. So happy that giving homebirth is (still) a normal thing in The Netherlands. No need to convince anyone for my wich to give birth at home.

    Reply

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