Updated: May 19
I put together a video of Jean's birth, if you would like to view it, scroll all the way to the end of this post.
A few days after I had Jean, when I was thinking about writing in my journal about his birth, I thought…”I don’t really know what to write”. His birth story, the day that he was born was just so simple and regular in a way. There was no drama, or so-and-so showed up here and then this happened then and I moved here etc etc….it was just me having a baby. I’m not sure if this is because it was my third birth or because it was a free birth, a completely undisturbed birth (other than my other boys being around me). Even now, as I’m writing this to share on my blog, I’m not quite sure what needs to be said or how to share it. It’s such an odd feeling.
But knowing me, I’m sure I’ll find something to write.
For those of you who don’t know my previous birth stories….With my first birth, it was all about how I planned a homebirth with midwives and then it was sabotaged by me transferring (non-emergent) to the hospital, then my labor “stalling” and meconium and eventually a cesarean section. Then my second pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at about 10 weeks, which saw me in the hospital hemorrhaging, with a D&C and blood transfusions. Then my third birth was all about the VBAC/HBAC, the birth redemption story, moving through the trauma and mental hangups from my past experiences to get to the other side where I could just let my body birth my baby.
For my fourth pregnancy, I decided to completely separate from the system. I had reached a point where I was 1000% ready to have a wild pregnancy and free, fully undisturbed birth with no medical interventions or medical professionals. My 3rd pregnancy was during covid, so I hardly saw my midwives, and I loved it. With my fourth child, I just knew that I didn’t need anyone outside of me telling me that I was ok or that my baby was ok. I didn’t need tests or checkups or anything of the sort. I listened to my body. I nourished my body with amazing foods and sleep and being outdoors and love from my husband and children and with the Word of the Lord. I prayed, I trusted and I just lived my life. The pregnancy was amazing and I felt great.
I was certain this baby would not be here until at least 41 weeks, similar to my other two children. So at 39 weeks, I was still finishing up a few last minute postpartum preparations. The day before I would give birth to Jean, I spent the morning outside mowing and cleaning up the garden with my two other boys (5 year old and 21 month old). We had fun working in the garden and giving grass to the sheep. I was very pregnant and somewhat uncomfortable but it also didn’t feel like I was over doing it. It was actually a nice last day to do some physical work since I wouldn’t be able to for a while after having a baby. I took a shower and we all took our afternoon naps.
That night, on the day of Jean's birth, I woke up at around midnight to a little gush. I immediately knew what it was, and thought “No! Not yet! I’m not ready!” Not that I wasn’t actually ready for the baby logistically, because we were…but I had wanted to spend the next week relaxing and doing a lot of nothing and then I would be “ready” for the baby to come. Ha. I was expecting to be pregnant for at least another week. I also immediately felt nervous. I was not excited right away, like I thought I would be. I went to the bathroom and checked and sure enough, I was slowly leaking some amniotic fluid.
I told my husband, Eduardo, and he was a little thrown off too. He had to get up and irrigate our field that morning, super early, which meant he would be really tired that day. I was just still thinking to myself, “this is just not the right timing!” But, looking back now it was actually perfect timing. I continued to have little gushes of water releasing and I noticed that it was slightly tinged brown, which meant there was probably some meconium in the baby’s waters. This was somewhat annoying because meconium was what basically caused my first birth to be sabotaged. The midwives suggested a hospital transfer because of meconium stained waters, and I ended up having a c section. So it gave me some flashbacks. I wasn’t super worried about it going into this birth or even after I saw it, because I have learned so much and done so much research on meconium and the risks (or not risks) of it since I had Jude 5 years ago. I think God allowed some of this to happen, so I could really face all my actual fears and just have to go through it.
I finally just got out of bed around 3am, and the surges became more consistent. I made some tea, tidied up around the house, got my frozen beef and barley stew out so it could thaw and be ready for my first post-birth meal. Still at this time I was nervous and not really feeling good about the birth and not really excited; and at the same time I was annoyed that I was feeling that way, because I just wanted to be excited about this birth happening.
I was standing in the kitchen over the stove, boiling some water for my nettle tea and I finally thought, “Ok, I just need to get over these feelings, get over this, and let this baby know that it is ok to come.” Nothing was really happening, as far as labor, it was just slow waves here and there. So I stopped what I was doing and said, “I’m sorry baby if I have been making you feel like I don’t want you to come yet. We are SO excited for you and so ready to meet you. You come whenever you need to and whenever you’re ready.” I just kept praying for the Lord to wash over me with his peace and confidence and just released it all there. I felt so much better after that. Then I walked outside to check on Eddie irrigating in the darkness and it was so peaceful and pretty outside. I could see the reflection of the moon in the water sitting in the field. It was a really nice moment.
I had also text a number of women already because Saturday, the day that I would now be birthing, was the same day of my mother blessing shower, which my friend Kate had planned for me. My mom and sisters, some of my close friends and family were going to be coming to the house for my mother blessing and it was going to be so special and sweet. They were going to read encouraging notes to me, massage my feet, brush my hair…I was so looking forward to it and this was also a reason why I felt like the baby coming that day wasn’t good timing. So I text my sister, my mom, some of my close friends, “blessing shower is off, I’m having the baby”…well that was the gist of it. Some of them happened to be awake and responded to me with these beautiful prayers and encouraging messages. I wasn’t planning on telling anyone when I went into labor, I wanted it to be private. But it ended up being so wonderful and calming to read all these words from them, so I am glad it worked out that way. I needed to hear some of those words, especially with the way I had been feeling. I was reading those messages, walking around the house, it was still dark and I just finally felt a full peace wash over me.
By about 430 or 5am, I thought “well I guess I’m not having one of those faster third births which many women do”, but it gave me a chance to gradually move through each stage and process feelings as they came up, which I was grateful for. Eddie had to leave for work for a couple hours to get some things taken care of and said he would be back soon. The other kids were still sleeping, and I felt kind of alone but also was enjoying the peace and quiet.
Things started to pick up after I did that release and I could tell my body was starting to work harder. As the sun started to come up, and I knew Eddie would be home soon, I ran a bath and thought I would try the water out. I never really liked being in the water in my other labors, but it sounded good to me this time around.
Eddie got home from work, and the boys were waking up and I was really getting into the thick of it. It is interesting to me how I always labor during the day, when you so often hear that labor progresses more for many women (and our sheep) during the night when its dark and they’re alone. Jesse (my then 21 month old) came into the room with me and he wasn’t liking the noises I was making. I was leaning over the bed and moaning through contractions. The low noise just feels so good, like it is releasing the pain. He was sitting over me and kind of like crying “no mommy don’t do that” but eventually he got used to it and started to make the noises with me, which was so sweet.
Around 7 or 730am I closed myself up in our bathroom, got into the warm water, turned on Bon Iver’s album and I just felt like I went into a trance. I would have these super intense waves, killing me in my back; but between the waves, I would lay my head to the side and just rest and be completely relaxed. I was starting to get tired, mostly because I had only slept a few hours that night and had been at this for about 7 hours now. Eventually, I wanted to get out and go lay on the bed. Eddie helped me out of the tub and get to the bed.
As soon as I got out and walked around, the surges picked up even more. I went to the toilet for a bit, but that was soooo uncomfortable. I was just really getting worn out and like “come on this is my third baby, why is this taking so long?” Jude (my then 5 year old) was taking some pictures, he was my “birth photographer.” Jesse was copying my moaning noises with me and kind of staying by my side. Eddie was there when I asked him to be, but I mostly wanted to do it on my own. Standing up and holding onto the doorframe with both arms felt so good, just kind of hanging there and stretching my back and belly. Also around that time, I started to feel the baby moving down and was releasing lots of mucus which was super encouraging for me.
After a while, I just started kind of prowling around my bedroom, looking for a place to give birth but I couldn’t find a comfortable spot. I felt like an animal completely. I tried the bed, tried the edge of the bed, I tried different sides of the floor, I tried where Jesse was born, but I just felt like that was not this baby’s story - to be born in the same place as his older brother. So, finally I just decided to get back into the water. We hadn’t emptied the tub yet and I had Eddie put some hot water in to warm it up a little. As soon as I got in the water, every time a contraction came, I felt like I needed to push just a little and felt that “need to poop” feeling too.
The boys started coming in and out of the bathroom and were playing and arguing and fussing a bit, and it was just getting to be way too much noise. I told them I needed quiet and they all settled down, then they were offering me water and love and hand holds, it was so perfect and sweet and I’m just so glad they were there and we didn’t pass them off to someone else to be watched while I birthed this baby. Eddie was there rubbing my back and asking me what he could do to make me feel better.
By this time it was about 10 in the morning and every time a wave came I could feel the baby coming out a little and stretching me out and then going back up. And I just kept trying to breathe and let it go slow and not push myself, I just wanted to let my body do the work. It of course hurt like hell and was so hard, but was also just smooth and easy at the same time. Between those big waves, I would almost fall asleep & Jude would ask “is mommy sleeping??”
Probably about 5 or 10 minutes before baby popped out, I remember saying “oh my gosh, why did I do this again? This hurts so bad. I can’t do this anymore!” Then I switched trains of thought and told Eddie, “Ok I just need to tell myself, in another 20 minutes to an hour, I’m not even going to remember how bad this hurt. My baby is going to be in my arms and I’m going to forget this. Just think about the future! This will all be over soon.” That is what got me through those last intense moments.
It was probably only like 30 minutes of pushing, with about 10 strong pushy contractions. I would stand up on my knees and then lean forward a little bit. His head came out and I could feel it floating in the water, still in the sack I’m pretty sure. The water was cloudy, so it was hard for either of us to see. I thought, “ok the next one, his whole body needs to come out, I just feel like I need to push him out with the next wave”. So I just pushed a little more with the next contraction and I could just feel every part of his slippery body sliding out of me- such a wild, crazy feeling. He was just floating in the water, and I picked him up and it was just amazing and he was warm and slippery and beautiful and just THERE IN MY ARMS! I looked at everyone and said “our baby is here, we did it!” The boys were right there and so happy and just saw it all. They saw their newest brother emerge into the world and take his first breaths.
One of the best parts after he emerged was the fact that no one else was around except my husband and children. No one was around that I needed to protect myself or him from. No one was going to try and assess him or touch him or judge him or grab him. I really felt this immense sense of relief at that point that nobody was there to get in my way or take my baby from me. I immediately could see there was some brown mucus coming out of his nose. He looked wonderful but he wasn’t really making any noises. He was so quiet. I leaned him forward and was patting his back and talking to him. Eddie and Jude and Jesse were just looking and watching and taking some photos.
Then it was about 10 minutes of this interesting back and forth with him where he would look at me and be alert and then he would kind of go limp and his eyes would roll back in his head. His color started to change from blue-ish to more white-ish, and I’m not sure why. He was still attached to the placenta which was providing him with oxygen and blood. I kept him close to me and kept speaking to him. I did get a little nervous, when he would go limp in my arms, and of course thoughts of death flashed through my mind. Thoughts of “irresponsible mom, had a baby with no one there and then her baby died.” But then immediately I said that’s not happening and I pushed those thoughts aside.
I actually stayed very calm and cool the whole time, it seemed longer than it actually was. I did give him some breaths in his nose and mouth, that just felt right to do. I also tried to suck a little of the brown mucus out of his nose, because I felt like I needed to help clear that out for him. I was gentle both ways and just did what felt right at the time. I was very proud of myself for staying that calm, and think it was another way God was challenging my faith and trust in him and in the birth process. I had grown a healthy baby, and I just needed to give him time. I really faced my fears. I mean, death in birth is the ultimate test, that is almost the worst thing you could have happen in birth. How was I going to handle this feeling that my baby might die?
I just knew that all he needed was to stay warm on me and stay attached to me. I’m certain that if I would have had licensed medical professionals there, they probably would have removed him from me, or given him oxygen, or something else and that wasn’t what he needed. Eddie was getting nervous, but him seeing that I was staying calm and positive helped him stay calm. I’m not sure why baby Jean was going through that, or if that is just normal in some cases, I haven’t seen many physiological births. We have no idea how he came out, if his cord was pinched, what position he was in when he came out. All of that is a mystery because he came out in the water and Eddie couldn’t see because of the meconium in the water. I truly believe that the fact that it is/was all a mystery protected us from being more worried or concerned. Sometimes it’s just best not to know, that way you’re not over analyzing everything. Jean is the only one who will ever know.
After about ten minutes, I decided we needed to get out of the water and get warm together on the bed. Eddie helped me out of the tub and laid towels down as I walked the short distance to our room. I kept Jean cuddled up on my chest, put lots of blankets on him and got myself warm with blankets and Eddie put socks on my feet. Within about 45 minutes, and a few different tries, my placenta was birthed into a bowl. I had quite a good size blood clot come out before the placenta emerged. It would have concerned me, but I had recently read a thread on the free birth society network I’m a part of, where many women experienced this and it didn’t seem to be a problem. I lost a lot of blood, well it seemed like a lot of blood because it was just all over my legs and the pads on the floor. But once my placenta was birthed, the bleeding eased up. Birth is messy and bloody! And when we birth in the hospital or even with midwives, everything is cleaned up so quickly, we don’t really notice it. But I still felt fine, I just stayed in bed and had Eddie bring me a warm bowl of beef and barley stew (the one I had gotten out earlier that morning). Jean’s color was perfect within an hour and I didn’t notice anything else that concerned me. With him nuzzled up and nursing and the pain of labor and birth behind me, I was just in heaven!
I called a few people to let them know HE was here and we were all great. Eddie and the boys ate their lunch & then we all took a nice afternoon nap. Around 4 pm we decided to remove Jean from his placenta, his life force for the past 9 months. We still had not named him at that point. It was so sweet, Jude, Eddie and I all lit candles and we sang him happy birthday and then burned the cord for about 10 minutes, then finally cut it to finalize the process. Burning the cord cauterizes it and helped stop any small amount of bleeding that was still coming from it.
Postpartum was just as dreamy as my last postpartum with Jesse a little less than 2 years prior. I had prepared vigorously for food, childcare, help with cleaning, in-home massages and farm help. It was a different dynamic because Jesse was still so young and had just been the baby, but Jean and I rested and bonded and stayed cuddled up in bed as much as possible for those first 3-4 weeks. My body healed quickly and I had no tearing or pain in my yoni area. It was an incredible feeling, I believe birthing in the water helped with that as well. Lots of yoni steaming, staying off my feet, eating deeply nourishing stews, soups and foods and keeping my legs together helped with the healing process as well.
Having a wild, non-medicalized pregnancy and free, completely sovereign birth in our home was the wildest and also most normal thing I’ve ever done. It felt amazing and perfect and like this was always how it was supposed to be. At this point, I don’t see myself having an attendant at any future births of mine. I loved being on my own and like I said earlier, not feeling the need to “protect or shield” myself or my child from anyone after he emerged from my body or during the labor process.
Birthing in my power has healed me on so many different levels. Birthing in my power has touched my soul, opened my eyes to unknown parts of me and shown me my potential in ways that nothing else could have.
My confidence as a woman and mother continues to grow and expand as I add these experiences, births and children to my life. Birth has been such an immense teacher and healer for me. I still cannot believe how much having children has helped me embrace and fully become the sovereign woman I was always meant to be. I thank my Lord every day for His hand over my life and for guiding me on this journey.
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Our prayer for Jean:
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Here is a video I put together of Jean's birth.
Songs in video in order of appearance:
"Sunu" by Rising Apalachia &The Human Experience
"Machi" by Peia
"Glimmer in the Dust" by Hillsong UNITED & TAYA
** If you're interested in learning more about physiological birth, how birth really works, how safe birth really is when left alone, and how the industrial birth system, actually itself, creates many of the complications that women experience in labor, birth and postpartum, I would highly recommend purchasing The Complete Guide to Freebirth. It is a self paced course and you have access to all the video/audio forever.