It was mid spring when we discovered we were expecting. We hadn’t planned to have a fourth child, but we we’re always fine with it happening. Jared and I have never been the type to close the door on having more children. We love a big family and enjoy our kids very much.
However, Jared had recently shared with me that he thought it was time to move forward from bearing children. We had just taken a big adventurous vacation with the kids last winter where I remember telling him too that our family was full and for the first time I could see us moving into a new season with our children now that they were older. Funny how right when we felt that feeling we found out that we weren’t in control of the final chapter…
We went through a really difficult year losing my dad to brain cancer at such a young age still. It shook us and the grief was very strong. In the final month, when we knew the time was drawing near, I was spending most of my time with him. We were homebound and spending a lot of time being mindful. I was very in tune with my body during this time and with it also being my fourth pregnancy I recognized the symptoms right away. I always get really short of breath and my tummy swells early. I was also late on my cycle with no sign of it coming. I kept it a secret for about a week trying to let it sink in. I didn’t know how I felt about preparing for a baby in the midst of saying goodbye to my dad. I was very overwhelmed with emotion.
As affirming as it was that God was in control and that the cycle of life was such an amazement, I didn’t have the capacity to handle happy with sad. I kept telling myself this couldn’t be happening and I tried to brush the symptoms off as nothing and pretend they’d go away. I didn’t think I could handle another major life change at once. As the week went by and I felt assured that the pregnancy was real I approached Jared and told him the news. We went to town and bought a test. I cried when it came up positive. I already knew it was true and as much as I had always hoped for more children, the timing of this one was a lot for me. It took Jared time to let it sink in too. We we’re in a state of overwhelm. Once we gained our composure a bit we smiled at the timing. Each one of our children have been born in a year we’ve lost a close loved one. With Dakota, it was my grandpa. With Jake, my grandma, and with Finn it was Jared’s grandpa. It was only fitting for a new little one to come into the world as my dad was passing from it.
Since dad’s sickness affected his mind and emotions it was hard to know whether or not to share the news with him. I was worried he’d be sad that he wouldn’t get to see this new bundle grow up. I weighed back and forth about whether to tell him. I finally spent some quiet time praying and felt that I had to talk to my mom. I couldn’t keep it from her. I was also worried about how she’d handle the news. I was afraid it would be similar for her with how to combine happiness and sadness together.
I went to see her that morning and she was on the porch swing watching the sunrise. Before I could even express myself she began telling me how she’d had such a peaceful morning and how the sunrise matched her morning scriptures in relation to God’s promises. She talked about hope in things to come and the positive things that are still happening around us. I broke down balling immediately. It was exactly what I needed to hear and the perfect moment to tell her. She cried too, and said that it was the best news she could have asked for and that this new life will bring our family joy again! We decided to tell Dad too. On Easter our whole extended family came together and we announced to them all at once. Dad lit up with excitement and happiness. It was something that brought him light and joy in a time of great heaviness. I realized I had been nervous over nothing. The news of new life is so powerful and a miracle to be praised!
We also told the kids on Easter morning and I videoed their reaction. It was pure magic! They had been asking us to have another baby so they couldn’t have been more excited!
It was all coming together and I couldn’t ignore the unmistakable timing. I had accepted that my life was changing yet again, but I was still struggling with a lot of “feelings.” I was never fearful or worried in any of my pregnancies before, but with this one I couldn’t shake the emotions. I felt constantly on the verge of tears and I was very nervous that something was going to be wrong. I was also very blah that first trimester with all the normal yucky vibes that the first trimester brings. That’s about when the corona virus hit too which kept me from seeing a doctor. I was fine with that however, because I hadn’t decided on who I wanted to care for me and how I wanted all that to look anyways.
I battled through to the second trimester where I started feeling better. I began doing my research on using a midwife. It had been 8 years since my last child and my doctor was no longer in the same location. I had thought about visiting the birthing center but it closed and left me to find a new plan too. I asked around and heard about a couple of options. One was to use a midwife at the clinic and hospital where I had given birth to my three previous children, and the other was to use an out of network midwife and deliver at home. I had delivered my previous children naturally and felt passionately that I was made to do the same thing again, but this time I was drawn to the idea of being in the comfort of my home.
Every time I would bring this idea up in conversation Jared and my family and friends were quick to contribute their opinions. They didn’t feel comfortable with the idea at all which made me feel unsupported and stressed out more too. I of course understood their place, but felt called to do the delivery this way.
I appealed to Jared to have a consultation with each midwife so we could get more insight on the experiences and make a more educated decision. The home birth midwife came to our house and spent two hours talking all the things with us. She was so warm and comforting to me, like a wise mentor that I didn’t know I needed. I had instant connection and chemistry with her, but most of all I really appreciated the information she shared and the time she took to support us. It made an impression on Jared as well and he started coming around to the idea once he had some facts and support himself.
From there though we still considered the hospital setting since we live about an hour away from the nearest women’s care. We went to the clinic appointment and even did our ultrasound in that setting. That was when I made my final decision…
We were at the ultrasound and everyone was in a mask. The tech came in and brought a student with her. They began going over my baby’s design speaking of what they were looking for and identifying all the parts and productions. I instantly welled up with tears. Jared got very concerned because I’m not the type to cry in that kind of setting… I just couldn’t keep the emotion back. The tech was kind, and told me it was normal pregnancy hormones which was sweet of her, but I knew it was different.
I was in a vulnerable state after losing dad. I finally put a finger on what was happening. I was so afraid of hearing more sad news or going through another difficult trial so soon after losing my dad. I didn’t have my bearings back to handle more hardship. When the tech and student came in and started talking professionally about what was happening inside of me without affirming good or bad I got scared. Once they finally announced that things looked right, I lost it even more, realizing what women bear when they don’t hear good news. It was the turning point for me in the pregnancy.
I spoke to Jared about my fears and he thankfully put my worry to rest assuring me that we could handle whatever came our way. He said we don’t have control of it so I needed to accept the risk and trust that we would get through. I immediately felt better identifying what was troubling me and receiving support for it. I needed to hear that to move forward with confidence about what I felt God was calling me to do… Trust him and trust myself. It was my personal journey toward a renewed faith. God knew what I needed and he kept nudging me in the direction to see if I’d accept his invitation.
I started seeing Debbie Quarry, my midwife around 25 weeks. She was so informative and loving to us. I enjoyed the midwife experience much more because it’s so much deeper than a clinic visit. Midwife’s take on the job of educating you and aiding you along the journey. They help you develop a plan and a responsibility to what is being created in you. The knowledge and experience they have and share is much more in depth than what I received from clinic visits. Plus the time and attention is also vital. You have more time to bond, ask questions, and share stories. Developing a nurturing relationship with a wise female mentor is so nice to have during the process of carrying a baby.
We went along with the pregnancy visits and learned and prepared from there. I had already had a lot of education from books I’ve read like The Bradley Method and Ina May Gaskins’ Guide as well as my experiences birthing naturally three times before, but each time is different and there’s knowledge to be added along the way.
I had never went into labor on my own prior to this pregnancy or delivered on time. With Dakota, we had an ice storm coming that was going to make it difficult for us to get to the hospital so the doctor induced my labor a week early by breaking my water. With Jake, I went to 42 weeks and finally thought I felt contractions, but by the time we arrived at the hospital they had stopped so they went ahead and broke my water again with him. After he came out weighing a whopping 11.7, the doctor monitored me closely with Finn and asked if I’d like to deliver him early as well so as not to chance having such a big baby again. I of course obliged and my water was broke with Finn as well.
This time around I knew that wasn’t going to be an option and I really wanted to have the baby early or on time because I tend to have big babies. My midwife assured me that size was not a concern but I still wanted to try and have the baby around the due date. I did a lot of natural things that are said to aid in preparing the body and baby for delivery. I had massages and adjustments. I ate dates and drank red raspberry leaf tea. I rubbed my feet and calves in the special places to enhance contractions. Jared and I also used intimacy to encourage labor (there’s more to this than you’d think-google it). I think these things truly helped. None of these methods are instant wonders, but I do think they all get the ball rolling.
I woke up all through the night of the 12th feeling uncomfortable with deeper than normal cramps. Finally, by 4 o’clock I decided to get up and move around a bit to try and calm my irritability. I had my quiet time and journaled. I prayed the most peaceful prayer and felt like I was finally ready and prepared for the birth. I wrote that I had envisioned the baby to come on a dark, rainy night, but that it was looking like sunny and 70 instead. This made me happy because I was hoping to spend time outdoors walking around our property during my labor.
I decided to go through the motions and try to keep moving and stay distracted the best I could so that I would be able to stay upright for as long as possible, which helps the baby make progress. I did my exercises and woke the family for breakfast. We ate and packed lunches. I was feeling small contractions that just felt like little uncomfortable moments. They were happening about every hour. I took the kids to school and felt one on the way. When I returned home I called Jared at work and told him they were still lingering. He told me to call the midwife. She had told us the day before that she was going to try to go out of town to see a distant patient that day so we felt we better let her know that things were possibly progressing.
I told Debbie that Jared and I would know my status in relation to dilation because we’d been through it before enough to recognize each stage. At the time I was thinking it still might not even happen that day because the contractions might just be beginning braxton hicks. With my other children I had pitocin in the hospital when they broke my water so my contractions were induced and intense. Pitocin is given to force contractions more quickly in order to deliver the baby within a certain amount of time of the water breaking. Without pitocin I wasn’t sure if I’d labor fast or not. I was prepared for it to take a lot longer so I figured I had a long day ahead of me.
When I spoke with Debbie she decided to stay close in case I progressed. She asked me to keep her updated. I went along with my chores for about an hour and they were starting to stop me in my tracks a little. It was around 11 so I called Jared and Debbie again to let them know where things stood. I told Jared it seemed like we were definitely going to be having the baby that day. Debbie told me to start timing my contractions for the next hour. About the time my papa showed up to sit with me and help me keep track. I had also called my mom and she had notified my papa! Everyone was on alert and the excitement was building.
Since I’d never had a baby completely natural and at home we didn’t no what was in store. Papa and I timed the contractions for the next hour as everyone else left their jobs and began to head our way. The contractions went from 15 seconds every 30 minutes to 60 seconds every 3 minutes. My mom had went to get the kids from school because I wanted them to be there to witness the baby’s birth. They arrived within the hour along with my papa’s girlfriend Vickie and Jared soon after. We all shared our anxiousness together and then it was time to focus.
My contractions took a serious turn and I told Jared I wanted to go for a walk outside alone with him before we settled in. I was determined to get outside as well as stay moving until I could no longer. We made it halfway around the property and we saw the midwife, along with her assistant midwife Joy, coming down the drive. By that point we were having to stop walking so I could hold on to Jared’s neck through each contraction to brace myself and breathe through them. Jared said he didn’t think I should try to finish walking the property so we headed back to the house.
When we came in Debbie had me lie down on the bed so she could listen to mine and the baby’s heartbeats. She also took my blood pressure and asked me some questions. I was pretty uncomfortable at that point. I was ready to try to focus and relax so I decided to get in a warm bath. I love baths and I had envisioned laboring in the bath because I knew it would be helpful to me. I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees to the bathroom… I’m telling you, I was determined… lol.
Once I was in the bath I had about 3-5 contractions within a timeline of 5-10 minutes and I began to bear down. That was the feeling of panic. I was feeling the urge to push and I didn’t realize I was already to that stage! Jared panicked too. He wasn’t prepared for me to be upstairs in the bathroom. He had envisioned the birth in the comfort of our bed. He kept trying to help me get out of the bathtub and he was saying come on Kasey you need to get downstairs and lay down in the bed. I tried to tell him that I didn’t think I could and the midwives chimed in and said we were completely fine right there. They had always told me that I’d know what was best and I’d lead the way and they would just follow and assist me as needed.
I was able to get out of the bath with a very short break from the next contraction, but I only got as far as leaning over the bathtub on my knees. I was struggling a bit to find a comfortable position which was a worry I had addressed with Debbie early on. With my other deliveries I was forced to be in the hospital bed and on my back to push. I didn’t know what position I’d choose to be in when I was free to move at my own pace.
I attempted to lie down on my side on a rug in the bathroom floor but immediately got back on my knees because it wasn’t working for me. There was a small wooden stool that I keep in the bathroom to prop our towels on when were bathing… I leaned over it and grasped the legs which felt good to hold on to. From there I began bearing down and pushing with each contraction. The midwives were behind me monitoring the progress and Jared was back and forth beside me and with them too. The kids were at the door watching eagerly. I was facing them which was encouraging to me. They were being so brave.
Without the pitocin intensifying the contractions I had a much different experience with the pushing phase. I was able to have some composure between each one and find my bearings with each break. I remember even blowing the kids an exhausted kiss one time because I was so proud of them and I wanted to assure them I was okay. I pushed for about 10-15 minutes slowly making progress with each contraction.
Debbie had prepared me to trust myself with the pushing and listen to my body. It wasn’t like at the hospital where they have you push until they say stop. I simply pushed when I felt the urge to push which you can’t deny anyways and then I rested when I felt the urge to rest. I see now why that is a better way because it allows your body to do what it does and it gives it time to stretch and expand without as much strain. I still delivered Leif in about the same time frame that I did the others, but it was different in that way which I felt was better on my body. He did get slightly stuck after he crowned. I wasn’t making progress through the next couple of contractions so the midwives told me to lift my left leg to my side. They helped move my leg and plant my foot up towards my hip and he instantly delivered. He came into the world at 4:04 pm.
Jared caught him and announced that it was a BOY! I heard the kids cheer and my family downstairs too. Jared handed him to me as I rolled over and took him in my arms. It’s such instant relief and joy to hold your baby in your arms. It was even more bliss for me this time because I was so relieved he was healthy and we had achieved the home birth without complications. Me, Jared, and the kids all gathered together studying him and harnessing happiness in that beautiful moment.
Jared cut the cord and then took him down to meet my Mom, Papa, and Vickie. The kids also got to hold him while I delivered the placenta and Debbie examined me. Our assistant midwife, Joy, monitored the baby. I wasn’t able to pass the placenta easily so they brought the baby back to me and I nursed him which instantly contracted my uterus and moved the placenta out. I’m never surprised at the perfection of the design. It’s amazing how it all works together for good. The midwives drew an herbal bath for the baby and I and we soaked for a bit and bonded some more. The bath ingredients were soothing and encouraged our body’s to recover.
Once we were finished with that we went down to the bed and got into some comfy clothes. We snuggled up and everyone gathered around sharing the love and adrenaline of the moment. Everyone was commenting on how calm and peaceful Leif was. We really noticed a difference in the baby’s demeanor compared to a hospital birth. He was so alert and composed and he barely let out a cry. It was everything I hoped for. Jared, my mom, papa, and the kids all kept saying how glad they were that we did it this way. I was so thankful too. Leif’s birth was a lesson to me on listening to my intuition and trusting in God’s plans. I will hold it in my heart and carry it with me forever.