Having a home birth was both a dream come true and also chose us. This is the story of my son, Ari’s home birth and I couldn’t be more honored to share it with you today.
After hearing so many wonderful home birth stories in my early twenties when I lived in Africa and Europe I not only had a dream to work with moms in the birth space but also really wanted to experience a home birth for myself. After all, birth is a natural rhythm of life and giving birth at home has been the norm for centuries.
I had really hoped to have a home birth with our daughter, Ruby, but my husband was a bit nervous and we lived at least 45 minutes from the hospital and so we settled on a birth center birth just in case we needed a quick transfer to the hospital. Ruby’s birth was truly dreamy (you can read about it here). It was such a great experience and our midwives were so wonderful we planned for Ari’s birth to be at the same birth center with the same midwife that delivered Ruby.
Then, in the beginning of my second trimester, we got news our midwife, Lena, was retiring and that the birth center was closing and that Mary would be taking on all her clients and that we wouldn’t be able to deliver at the birth center. So after taking some time to think it over, both my husband, Caleb and I decided we were comfortable with and confident that Mary was the midwife for us and that a home birth was the way to go.
We were even more so looking forward to having Ari birthed at home because of the global pandemic. We were concerned about giving birth at a hospital and our local hospital was actually turning away labor and delivery patients. So the idea of staying in the comfort of our own home sounded like the way to go!
As I reflect back on Ari’s birth, there are some powerful lessons that I know will stay with me the rest of my life that I want to share with you below. And if you're looking for the full play-by-play of our beautiful, hard and often really funny home birth story - tune in to this week’s episode!
Moments You Don’t Want to Miss
[4:03] Find out how Kelly and Caleb decided that Mary would be the best provider for this home birth
[18:05] Hear Kelly share why her once-confident heart was now second-guessing everything
[35:49] Discover how a “labor party” helped kick things into gear
[52:07] Don’t miss the moment Caleb almost burnt the house down trying to fill the birth pool
[01:16:48] Find out how a midwife or doula can offer care beyond labor and delivery for a home birth
Ari’s Home Birth Was More Of A Marathon Than A Sprint
While I was expecting Ari to come fast, the reality was anything but. I was really hoping that he’d be born on Sep 7th which was our due date and the 1-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. Only 4% of babies are born on their due date but that didn’t stop me from setting up some big expectations that he'd come that day.
Since Ruby’s birth was so easy (what our midwife calls a “butter birth”), we weren’t anticipating Ari’s birth to be a long-distance race. Instead, it was a hard, empowering and often hilarious (thanks to my amazing hubby!) marathon that started on Sunday the 4th and culminated on his birthday - Thursday the 9th. This birth took a lot longer than any of us thought it would and turned into something very different than what I was expecting. But in the end it was incredibly beautiful and exactly what it needed to be.
You can listen to Ari’s full home birth story with both my husband and our midwife, Mary Yanagawa from Valor Midwifery Services on Episode 10 of the Nourished Motherhood Podcast - (see the player above)!
Reaching That Point Of Surrender In My Home Birth Story
When it became apparent that Ari wasn’t going to be born on the 7th, I was really discouraged. I had really felt like that was our day and when that day came and went (and I didn’t have a baby), I really just had to surrender.
I think that’s a really powerful lesson for not just birth, but for life. We can plan, dream and try as hard as we can to “do all the things” to make things go the way we want. But in the end...we’re out of control and need to surrender to the process. It didn’t matter how many stairs I climbed or how much castor oil I drank (yuck!!) I couldn’t make my baby come on my terms. When I finally let go of my expectations I was able to embrace my birth exactly as it was: harder, better & more beautiful than I could imagine.
Birth Is An Opportunity To Heal
I’m adopted, which is a part of my story that I’m really grateful for (and I thought I’d processed fully). That’s why I was so surprised during Ruby’s birth that all kinds of feelings around my adoption bubbled to the surface the closer I got to her birth. It was almost like birth was a key that unlocked all these raw emotions that lay locked in my heart.
Caleb and I miscarried between Ruby and Ari (hear the full story here) and I carried a level of anxiety throughout Ari’s pregnancy as a result. The closer we got to his due date, the more excited I was about his arrival and the more aware I was of the baby we didn’t have.
Birth brings things to the surface in a way few other events can. While it’s not always easy to process those emotions, it’s a gift and a unique opportunity to embrace, process and move through them into healing.
Having The Right People On Your Birth Team
Caleb and I are so grateful for Mary our midwife, Karen her assistant and Sarah our photographer who were in our living room witnessing and contending alongside us! Each one of them, and the family that supported us, were a God-send and it was their presence and support that made Ari’s home birth story the beautiful adventure that it was.
Birth is such an intimate, vulnerable experience. Whether you plan to give birth in a hospital, birth center or at home you need the people in your labor room that you feel safe with, you trust and who are truly putting you and your baby's needs first. Giving birth is one of the most empowering things you’ll ever do and having the right people on your team will make all the difference in the world. And if you don’t feel heard, seen or comfortable with your health care provider it’s never too late to switch to someone who will empower you on this journey.
Legendary midwife, Ina May Gaskin, says that every additional person in your labor room adds an extra hour to your birth. That’s why it’s so important you are selective with who witnesses this amazing event with you!
The Story of Ari’s Home Birth Is Hard, Beautiful & Empowering
I think there’s this stigma in birth circles that hard is bad. But I’ve come to realize that birth can be incredibly painful, hard, beautiful and empowering all at the same time.
Our medical system tends to make birth a medical event that often leaves women feeling disempowered in the process. Having lived all over the world and witnessed mamas of all backgrounds do motherhood, I know it doesn’t have to be this way!
My hope is that Ari’s story of giving birth at home (and the amazing picture slideshow from Sarah!) gives you a vision of what the miracle of birth can look like at home.
Embrace your story friend! It’s beautiful because it’s yours.
A Few Closing Thoughts From Our Conversation
Given our global pandemic, I know couples are more interested in giving birth outside the hospital than ever. Only 2% of births in the US happen outside the hospital so it makes sense that home birth can seem strange or even unsafe.
You need to plan your birth in a way that feels right for you, your partner and baby whether that’s in a hospital, birth center or at home.
As someone who’s had both her sweet kiddos outside of a hospital, I can’t imagine not giving birth at home. If we get pregnant again, I’d at least start at home (if possible) knowing that I can transfer to a hospital if that’s what I or my baby need.
So if you’re considering a home birth...do your research, watch this video and talk to some professionals and other mama’s who’ve given birth at home to see if it’s right for you. Whatever path you choose, know that you can do this mama!
Links & Resources Mentioned
Want to share your child’s birth story? I loved reading birth stories while I was pregnant and I’d love to hear and share your story too.
Submit your birth story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts
If you’re loving these conversations, please consider rating and reviewing the podcast! This helps me support more women - just like you - find the grace, encouragement and support they need at every stage of motherhood.
If you have an iPhone, go to iTunes and leave a review!
Not sure how? Check out this video!
November 11, 2021