I had an absolutely beautiful, crisp Autumn drive to Coeur d'Alene, blasting my pre-birth music, and walked into their home first thing that morning. One of her adorable daughters let me know they were upstairs in the bedroom, and so I crept upstair to find mama laboring so perfectly in her bed (like she promised in her text lol). It seemed like only a few moments after that the midwives walked in to check on her and the baby: everyone was perfect! Mama knew she would be meeting her baby soon, but this labor felt...different.
Their bedroom was setup in these warm earth-tones, a macrame bassinet hanging from the ceiling with a perfectly picked "staying home" outfit with baby's name. There were ultrasound images of their baby resting on their bedside, candles lit, and birth affirmations surrounding her; an absolutely stunning birth space to labor in, swoon-worthy even.
I remember how peaceful and quiet everything was for most of her labor. Even during a contraction, she was so focused and barely made a sound...but what I remember even more vividly, is the moment she finally spoke and said, "I don't remember it being this hard, it shouldn't be taking this long. He should have been here by now...". Just then, one of her [four] daughters walked in to check on mommy. I could tell that she needed her girls, and welcomed her daughter with a big hug. The midwife asked her if she wanted to help check for baby's heart tones, and that little girl's face LIT UP like fireworks on 4th of July! Grinning from ear-to-ear, she listened to the "thump thump thump thump" of the baby's perfect heart rate. She gave mom one last big hug, and went back into her bedroom where grandma was reading stories to all her sisters.
The mood shifted the moment that door closed, as mom focused back in, and felt her body overcome with the feeling to PUUUUUUUUUSH! Her water broke. She instantly became uncomfortable in the water, and was carefully helped out of the pool by her partner and the midwives, down to the bedroom floor where she lay across a gorgeous sheepskin rug.
She felt sick.
She wanted to give up.
She so desperately wanted to meet her baby...
Fetal ejection reflex took over, and everyone jumped into position: baby was starting to crown! With a deep but gentle push, his head slid out. We waited for mom to have another contraction for his body to be born, and he gave us a little blink before one more mighty push, and he was out into dad's hands, and up on mom's chest. He gave us a really good lung-clearing scream, and the look on both of the parent's faces were priceless: PURE JOY!
Daddy was able to cut the cord right after the placenta was delivered, and the midwives poured a warm herbal bath into the steel tub she had labored in. Mom crawled in to enjoy the soothing herbs, and the hot water against her tired body. Dad snuggled on baby while mama relaxed for a few moments as the water cooled down, and then baby joined her in the herbs. What a beautiful moment we were all able to witness as they both looked him over, admiring their brand new human they had created so beautifully together. Once done with their herbal bath, mom and baby got comfy in bed, nursed for awhile, and ate a hearty postpartum meal prepared by her very own mama; What a glorious Golden Hour.
This just so happened to be Kayla's [from Spokane River Midwives] final catch to be fully certified as a Washington state-licensed midwife; it was an incredible honor being able to witness that monumental occasion, and capture it!! Congratulations, Kayla...you're one badass baby catcher. I cannot wait to share more birth space with you in the near future!!
Worth mentioning: baby J had a True Knot in his umbilical cord. He had amazing color right after birth, as well as a great APGAR score, with no issues with breathing after delivery. These are stereotypically shown as a huge issue, even deadly, but definitely not in all cases, here is a great video for you to check out on how well it slid up and down.
With my bags already packed in preparation for her due date, I got in my car within 5 minutes, and took the very short drive to her house in the wee morning hours. I'm so lucky I live in a very central location in Spokane...everything is convenient for me! I got to watch as the sun greeted the morning sky to create cotton candy colors all above me. Mama was just slipping into the warm pool water when I walked in, and she took a big sigh of relief as she found the bottom..relaxation. Her midwife, who just so happens to also be her dear friend [bonus points], came up beside her in-between surges to check her blood pressure, and baby's heart tones: All were perfect!
Her mother and sister were there to support her, switching in & out of active doula role, squeezing her hips and telling her how awesome she was doing. It was so sweet to watch them mother her so well! One by one...as the minutes ticked by...her kids woke up for the day, and came down to see what all the commotion was about. Just as her first child came down, it was then that she felt that urge take over her...she was pushing. Honestly, you would barely even know she was in labor up until this point, because she was so quiet, but you could watch her physically bear down. I'm telling you...this little guy came popping right out so fast into mom's hands! So beautiful to watch her bring this baby straight up to her chest, cover him up with a towel to stay warm, gently rubbed his back, and begin to talk to him ever-so softly. Although he came out with a slight lack of color [totally normal] and even a slight meconium stain, he pinked-up in less than 5 minutes, with great ease. He was incredibly alert, and just looking around at all the eyes in the room on him. I cannot even begin to express the excitement on all the older sibling's and cousin's faces when they all got to meet the newest addition in the family...all these little hands were reaching his way, and at one point they even started arguing on who got to hold him first! So entirely and purely loved already, at not even 5 minutes old. One of the greatest things to watch during home births is how the older children are incorporated into the birth story, and this birth was so special with all the little people in attendance.
Mama and her amazing midwife, Kayla [from Spokane River Midwives], even got to take a quick "birth selfie" right after he arrived, which made me crack up...why did I not think about doing this with any of my births...? Duh, Natalie! Genius idea!!!
Baby's cord was cut, and he was handed to daddy for some skin-to-skin goodness while mama delivered her placenta (with the help of Iron Man...of course). Then, baby was taken with mom to do their healing herbal bath, and the midwife checked out the placenta. Once done, baby 'K' got weighed/measured by dad right on the bed while mama got tucked in to bed. It was the perfect timing for me to leave this beautiful home birth, just in time to make it to the newborn session I had planned that morning at 10am...! This birth filled my bucket to the brim; Congratulations to this amazing family, so elated for you all.
Natalie Bee is a Birth Photographer and Doula, a mother of four wildlings, and coffee junkie. She captures the beauty of motherhood and birth through a passionate photojournalist approach.