Since I haven’t been able to do much birth photography lately, I was thrilled when Abbey asked me to photograph the birth of their little boy! It’s a special privilege to be invited into the O.R. for a cesarean section. Little Elijah was born surrounded by lots of love from friends and family, especially his big sister. Congratulations and welcome to the world Elijah!
Jenny and her husband invited me to photograph the birth of their fourth child, fairly late in the pregnancy. I was excited to learn that they were planning a home birth, and even though I knew I would be relocating soon, I was so happy that I could photograph a couple more Cincinnati area births before I left Ohio. My last two scheduled births both went pretty far past their due date, making things a little extra crazy for me during my last couple weeks in Cincinnati! 🙂
Jenny’s birth was a perfect example of how unpredictable birth can be! Finally she called late one night and let me know that her water had broken. Heavy contractions came not too long after that, and since a broken water can mean that things can go rather quickly, especially with a fourth baby, I decided I should go ahead and head down to Northern Kentucky to their house.
I arrived around midnight to Jenny laboring quietly and her sweet husband and children (except for the youngest, who was sleeping on the couch) helping out with the birth pool and tending to mama. We waited. The midwives arrived and did a little monitoring and chatting. We waited some more. Mama climbed into the birth pool and the rest of us dozed a little. And we waited a little more. Finally around sunrise, Jenny started to verbalize that she was getting discouraged and that she could tell that things were somehow different that her other labors. Even though I don’t think she was originally planning on it, she decided to get checked to see how she was progressing. Much to her dismay, the midwife discovered that she was about 3-4 cm dilated.
At that point, Jenny insisted that I head home and get a little sleep and come back when she was a little further along. At about 8 o’clock that morning, I drove home, ate a little, hugged my babies and took a nap. A little after 12 o’clock noon I got the call saying that Jenny felt like she had to push! I said goodbye to my boys, put on my shoes, got my things together and jumped in the car! I may or may not have been speeding all the way to Erlanger!
When I walked back into Jenny’s living room, guess what I found- that’s right, a squishy little baby boy that was born 10 minutes before my arrival. Ahh, birth. You always find a way to outsmart me. Bennett was born at 12:41 pm, weighed 9 lbs., 6 oz., and was 21 3/4 inches long.
Congratulations to this sweet, adorable family! Bennett was definitely worth the wait!
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What a treat! This time we get to hear mom’s version of the birth story in all of it’s wonderful detail. The slideshow is at the bottom. Enjoy!!
Willow’s Birth Story
Early on Wednesday morning, during my last week of work at Whole Foods, labor began. For the week prior, I had been having contractions every evening for about an hour, but they always stopped before I’d go to bed. I had been fully expecting a nighttime labor and birth for Willow, since a lot of mothers of toddlers have births after putting their older children to bed (and Audrey was born overnight), but Willow had a different plan.
At 6:30 am, Jamie went out to start my car for me while I ate breakfast and got Audrey up and ready to go to Jesika’s for the day. When I went to use the bathroom, I was losing my mucus plug, so I thought maybe today was the day. I started timing some contractions shortly after that, but they were pretty irregular so I brushed it off and continued to get ready for work. Jamie left for work and told me to call him if anything changed.
I texted my midwife to let her know I had been having 20-25 second contractions every 3-4 minutes and wondered if she thought I should stay home from work, which she did recommend. These contractions were still pretty irregular over the course of an hour, and although they were stronger than earlier in the week, still seemed mild. I went outside to turn my car back off and bring my already-packed lunch and work bag back inside. I called Jamie at 7:30 to let him know I wasn’t going to work and that he should come back home. He said, “already?” I think he had somewhat expected that though. 🙂
When he got home, Jamie got started on getting the house ready for the birth: vacuuming, cleaning our bathroom, etc. I decided to take a bath to wash my hair, as I knew after Willow was born it would be a few days before I had time to do that. 🙂 The water was great and definitely made the contractions more mild.
From 7:30 am until 9 am contractions were still mild and although more frequent, there were still a few an hour that were 7 to 9 minutes apart, so I assumed I was still fairly early in labor. My labor with Audrey was about 8 hours, so I had expected this labor to go faster.
At 9 am, I texted Jesika to see if she could head over (we had asked her to be Audrey’s support person during the birth) and she arrived around 10 am. Jamie asked if he should set up the birth tub, and since I still had some contractions spaced out longer than 5 minutes, I said no.
From 10 to 11:30 am things continued on fairly steadily, with contractions ranging from 50 seconds to 110 seconds and ranging from 3 to 8 minutes apart. Around 11 am, I did start having some stronger contractions that were about 2 1/2 minutes long, but they were only about 4 an hour, with milder, shorter contractions in between.
At 11:30, my midwife texted me to see how things were going. I let her know some contractions were 90 seconds long, but still irregular as far as timing. Some were 3 minutes apart, but some were 7 or 8 minutes apart. At 11:37 she asked if I wanted my other midwife to come over to check in and get some stuff set up. My exact answer was “It is so hard to say since it has been all morning. I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea in case in sneaks up on me ;)”. (Lesson learned for future births: even if I still have a few 7-8 minute breaks between contractions over the course of an hour, it could still be time to birth in a couple hours ☺)
My second midwife arrived by noon and started to get some things set up. I was still content laboring on my yoga mat on the floor, dropping onto all 4’s for stronger contractions, resting my shoulders on Audrey’s bean bag chair for support. The midwife checked the baby’s heart rate with the doppler and all was good.
Audrey was an amazing and brave girl, hanging out throughout labor. We watched “The Brave Little Toaster” and Audrey and Jesika hung out at the kitchen table while Jamie set up the birth tub. We had prepared for her to stay during the birth by reading some books (My New Baby, Welcome with Love, & I’m a Big Sister), and I had shown her several birth videos, including one of her birth. We had discussed that Mama would ‘roar like a lion’ since I would be working so hard, so she was prepared when she heard me. I stay fairly quiet during labor until the last hour or so, but I wanted her to be as prepared as possible, as she is an extra-sensitive girl.
Between noon and 1 pm, labor started to ramp up, and I prepared to get in the tub. I wanted to change from my white bra to a black bra since we had a birth photographer coming (alas we should have called her sooner), so I went to our bedroom to do that. I had to stop twice to get on the floor for contractions, so I knew we were getting close. When I came back out to the living room, the tub was still not full, as we had to wait for the hot water heater to catch up. I got in anyway and it felt great. Since our photographer had still not arrived, Jamie took a few photos with his camera, while still supporting me with counter pressure during contractions. He was an amazing labor partner! By this time the rest of my birth team was arriving. I’m not sure the time. Pretty soon after that I started to feel pushy, and I knew Willow was starting to make her journey through the birth canal. Thank goodness our photographer arrived at this point or we wouldn’t have gotten our birth photos! 🙂 Since the tub was still not filled as much as it should’ve been, my midwife firmly told me that I either had to keep my butt down in the water or get out to birth Willow. I couldn’t imagine getting out of the tub, so I told her to have Jamie help keep my end down. I held on to the side of the tub to try and keep myself more upright so I could keep my whole end under the water. Pushing is intense! But amazing! My first hard push I could tell her head was near birthing, and knew to let my body do the pushing. My awareness throughout the last hour was always on my breath and keeping my voice deep and full, which truly helps! The second push I felt her head starting to crown- she had a lot of hair! It was amazing having my hand there, guiding her out into the world. The next push her head came out- that was the most intense of it all and still wonderful! There is nothing else in the world that feels that way- yes, painful but exhilarating, life-breathing, and powerful! My midwives told me the hardest part was over, and on the next contraction she would be fully born. It felt amazing to take a short breather, still in the water, knowing I was about to meet my daughter. The next contraction the rest of her body slipped out and I reached down to bring her up to me. She was beautiful! Her hair was black and straight- I couldn’t believe it! (Between my husband and I, we have every type of hair in our genes, but our first daughter is a curly red head, so straight and black is on the total opposite end of the spectrum!)
My first words after Willow’s birth were “That was amazing!”
And it truly was. I couldn’t imagine birthing any other way.
Later I learned that the only time Audrey started to seem even slightly overwhelmed is when I was pushing at the end. She saw me gripping the tub tight and thought I wanted to get out. She told Jesika they needed to help mama get out of the tub! She is such a sweet and brave girl.
After the birth, I was helped out of the tub and sat on the couch for skin-to-skin time. It was a magical time and the euphoria of birth was still high: holding my new baby, being surrounded by my husband, daughter, and birth team, and just soaking it all in. Jesika brought Audrey over to us on the couch so she could meet her sister. She wanted to sing to her, so we all sang “If You’re Happy and You Know it” and “Happy Birthday” to Willow. I’ll never forget that- it was so cute!
The next step was to get the placenta out. After about 45 minutes, my midwife thought it would be a good idea to try the Angelica tincture to help the placenta out. Almost immediately, I birthed the placenta. They prepared my herb bath and Willow and I took a wonderful bath together, which we would also do for the next 5 days.
We left the placenta intact for a couple hours. After we were ready to cut the cord, Jamie suggested that I do it, since he got to cut Audrey’s cord. That was another really awesome experience. And apparently I had the longest umbilical cord anyone had ever seen. 🙂
Welcome to the world, little Willow Grace. You are loved beyond measure!
Special thanks to:
my partner/husband/doula/utility man: Jamie
my brave and amazing daughter: Audrey
my amazing birth team: Pam, Meghan and Lori
my birth photographer: Erin
Audrey’s birth partner: Jesika
Cincy homebirth mamas who shared supplies and wisdom
my placenta encapsulator: Tiffany
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I awoke early Tuesday morning to a phone call from Nichole saying that she was pretty sure she was going to have a baby that day. She sounded especially excited, as is the usually the case for mamas that go past their due date! I stayed in touch with Nichole and her doula throughout the day and then headed up to Good Sam around 9 o’clock that night when Nichole was about 7cm dilated. I have learned from experience that this does not necessarily mean that a baby will appear soon, but one never can tell, so it is better to be safe than sorry! When I arrived, Nichole was resting as she had been laboring all day. Nichole’s awesome doula Connie spent a few hours trying some position changes to try and get baby to into the right position. Baby did rotate around into position beautifully, but Nichole’s was staying put at around 7cm. Her doctor suggested some Pitocin to increase the strength of her contractions. After a few more hours, she was 10cm and ready to begin pushing. It wasn’t long before Nichole welcomed little Charlie! She needed a tiny little jump start to start breathing on her own, and then quickly showed all of the nurses her feisty side. 🙂 As you’ll see from the slideshow, she is quite the little beauty.
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I had been in touch with Phil and Laura throughout the night on Monday, as Laura was making progress, but not very fast. Being that this was her first baby, I was expecting to things to move a slowly, as is sometimes the case. I was taken a bit by surprise when I got a call from Laura in the early morning hours on Tuesday, saying that she was 9 cm and almost ready to begin pushing! Now that is one way to get a birth photographer out of bed with a quickness! I didn’t even stop to brush my teeth, just threw on my clothes and flew out the door. Great! Rush hour traffic. Luckily, I made it to the hospital with time to spare AND time to brush my teeth. I arrived to a laid-back Laura, getting ready to push. When it was time, Laura worked extremely hard to bring her baby into the world, pushing for almost two hours. Just when she thought she couldn’t push any longer, their little one was born! Phil, who has a self-described weak stomach was planning on keeping a little distance from the action. We kept a chair directly behind him, but he did great! They didn’t find out ahead of time what they were having, so everyone was excited when they were surprised with a little girl. Congratulations to the both of you! I can tell little Chloe is already so very loved.
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I was so excited to work with Angela and Matthew partly because this was their first baby and that is always fun, but also because their doula is a friend of mine. Angela knew she wanted an unmedicated birth, and this was a birth in which everyone truly worked together. However nobody worked harder than Angela! Her and Matthew showed up at the hospital in early labor and were slightly disappointed that Angela was only a couple of centimeters dilated. They decided to stay and spent the day trying to move things along. Baby took his sweet time, and poor Angela was getting more and more exhausted. At one point, I went home for a few hours when we discovered she wasn’t as far along as we had hoped. When I returned, I was so amazed at how she had hung in there and stayed with the process like a champ. Over 24 hours and two doulas later, she welcomed her baby boy into her arms. Well done Angela and Matthew, and congratulations on your beautiful, natural birth and your adorable son!
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I am always amazed at mamas that can go past their due date with patience and grace. After a couple of onsets of false labor, Jessi made her way to the hospital. I arrived at about 2 am, as Jessi was comfortable and at about 5 or 6 centimeters. We chatted and waited until around 9:00am when adorable Avery was born. He needed a little help to transition to the world, but after a brief period in the special care nursery, he was reunited with his mama and daddy to plenty of hugs and kisses.
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Chelsea and Nathan texted me late Friday night saying that Chelsea was starting to have regular contractions that were feeling pretty strong. After that familiar burst of excitement, I asked them to keep me posted, and tried to go back to sleep. If sleeping with one ear open is a thing, I think I have mastered it! We texted back and forth a few more times that night and in the wee morning hours, they headed to the hospital only to find out Chelsea was only one centimeter dilated. They were a little disappointed but made the wise decision to head back home. On Saturday morning, I was a little stressed because it was the ONE day I had a conflict that would prevent me from making it to their birth and I knew I would possibly have to send a back-up photographer. But I also knew that it could still be a while so I just continued to check in with them throughout the day. Late that morning, after Chelsea continuing to labor and her contractions continuing to get stronger, they headed back to the hospital. At around 11:00 am, she was only three centimeters dilated. I knew she was getting tired. We kept in touch throughout the day, and by about 6:00 that evening, Nathan let me know that Chelsea was getting exhausted and discouraged, but had not progressed past four centimeters. I was not yet available to go to her (I was shooting a wedding that day) and she was not yet to the point in labor that I would normally arrive. However, I knew that she could probably use a little extra support and encouragement, so I asked my back-up if she would go to her until I could get there. Chelsea had planned to have an unmedicated birth but she had been laboring for almost 24 hours at this point with very little progress. I am always amazed by mamas who labor for more than 24 hours, because I honestly don’t know if I could do it. She decided it was time to get an epidural and get some rest. I headed to the hospital at around 10:30 that night to check in with my back-up and see how Chelsea was doing. We all chatted for a little while, but her and Nathan truly needed some rest, so we both left and I told them to let me know as soon as something changed. I got a text around 2:30 am that said that Chelsea was close to pushing. YAY!! Great news! I jumped up and headed back to the hospital. I arrived just before her doctor and was in perfect time to capture Chelsea having her beautiful baby boy, Trevor. He was born at 3:50 am, at 8 pounds, 13 ounces. What a lot of hard work on Chelsea’s part, and what a wonderful pay off! Congratulations to both of you! Thank you for letting me witness this amazing birth story.
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Laura and Rory’s homebirth can be summed up in one word. Awesome. They worked so hard and had such a long journey to get there. And when the day finally came, everything was just as they had hoped it would be.
Laura’s labor was a little indecisive at first, with several false alarms. Her blood pressure was showing signs of getting too high, so we were all very glad when after a long night of early labor, her water broke in the early morning hours and things really started moving.
I arrived at her house around 7:00 am and most of the birth team was there. Laura and Rory were working together very well, with the help of their amazing doula, Erica. Laura also had her good family friend, mother, and sister there for support. There was no shortage of hands!
Laura was a rockstar throughout labor and delivered her baby that morning at 8:55am. It was wonderful to see Laura and Rory welcome beautiful little Ariella into their family. Thank you so much for allowing me the privilege of being there, guys! Congratulations on your perfect little girl.
Even though I was working with very little light at this birth (hence the grain), I absolutely adore this slideshow. My first ever in color! Enjoy! 🙂
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I met with Deana and Manny fairly last minute and I was super excited to learn that this was their first baby and they were planning a natural birth at the birth center in Dayton. They knew they might want a little extra labor support, which I am always happy to provide.
I received a call about noon that said that Deana’s contractions had been five minutes apart for an hour and they were heading up to the birth center. Deana had been about 3cm at her last doctor’s appointment, and after several hours of walking and trying to get contractions going, she was only 4cm. I feared that she was getting discouraged, but from what I could tell by Manny’s texts, she was doing great. The day passed, and I still didn’t feel it was time for me to go. I checked in with them one last time about 11:00pm to see how things were going. As far as they knew Deana had not dilated any further, so I decided to get a bit of sleep if I could. I woke to a text at about 1:00 am saying that Deana was at 7cm. YAY! I got my equipment together to head up to Dayton. She was feeling a little pushy while I was on the road, so I was just hoping that the little sweetie would hold on juuuust a bit longer.
I arrived to Deana laboring in the tub, with Manny at her side. She was doing beautifully. I didn’t know for sure how close she was to pushing, but I knew she was close. She decided that the tub just wasn’t working, so she got out and tried a few different positions on the bed. That didn’t seem to be working too great, and she just couldn’t seem to find a good position there either. Her lovely nurse Jan suggested that she stand for a bit with Manny supporting, and settle into a squat during a contraction. That really seemed to move the baby right down!
Very shortly thereafter, Baby Aneela was delivered into her mama’s arms at 6 pounds 3.4 ounces, and absolutely gorgeous. They didn’t find out her gender beforehand so it was fun to see the surprise. 🙂
One of my favorite parts of this birth was when Deana’s ecstatic mom and dad came in to meet Aneela, and Deana’s dad prayed over the new little family. Beautiful.
Congratulations guys! I am so happy for you and I know you are going to be wonderful, loving parents.
Enjoy your slideshow and don’t forget to click the little “HD” in the upper right-hand corner to watch in HD!
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Holly was not due until March 25th, so I was pretty surprised to wake up on the morning of February 28th to a text that she was in labor and headed to the hospital! Since Holly’s mother had very fast labors and this was Holly’s first baby, I thought it would be best to call in the reinforcements and get my stuff together to head up to the hospital.
When I arrived, Holly had just gotten her epidural and was pretty relaxed and comfortable. She was found to be about 5 cm dilated and things were progressing steadily. Holly, her husband Peter, their lovely doula Lisa, and Holly’s parents were sitting around chatting while we waited for their little guy.
As Holly’s labor progressed, she was able to feel a lot more of her contractions. Things got intense for her there for a little while, but after a few more visits from the anesthesiologist, she was kept fairly comfortable through the second stage of labor. Holly informed me ahead of time that her husband Peter was a tad bit uneasy about the birth process, and at times, had even felt woozy at the sight of a needle. But I have to say, he did great! I suppose everything is different when it’s your own child. 🙂
Once Holly was complete, Baby Andrew was born within a handful of pushes to his happy parents and grandparents. Even though he was born almost 3 weeks before his due date, he was a healthy 6 lbs., 15 oz! You can see how loved he is already.
Congratulations, Holly, Peter and family!
Enjoy your slideshow and don’t forget to click the little “HD” in the upper right-hand corner to watch in HD!
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It is a great privilege to be a small part of every birth that I photograph, but this birth was special to me for a couple of reasons. Chris and Elizabeth are dear friends of mine and they had their baby at home. It is always a beautiful thing to witness a couple work together to bring life into the world in their own environment. Elizabeth’s first birth at home was rather difficult for her since she labored for over 30 hours with very slow progress. Things turned out very well in the end although she was close to needing to transfer to the hospital. I was hoping and praying that things would go smoother this time, but either way, I couldn’t wait to document their birth for them!
Elizabeth’s water broke late Friday night, but contractions didn’t start right away. She told me she was going to get some sleep and I remained on stand-by that night. Baby Eleanor was very kind and let us all get some sleep that night! Elizabeth’s contractions started early the next morning and by 8:00am they were getting pretty regular. I had another session Saturday morning and decided I would head up to their house in Dayton afterward.
When I arrived about 2:00pm, Elizabeth was well into active labor and in “the zone”. Chris and her lovely birth team were supporting her while Elizabeth listened to her body and prepared to birth her baby. She showed such calm and strength throughout, even though I know that’s not how she felt inside! When the time came Elizabeth found it very hard to believe that it was actually time to push her baby out! But lo and behold, their little girl arrived at 4:51pm to cries of joy and relief. Chris and Elizabeth (especially Elizabeth) were so happy that this birth was not a repeat of last time. I don’t think Elizabeth could believe it until she was able to reach down and actually touch her baby!
Congratulations and many blessings to you all, Chris and Elizabeth! Thank you so much for letting me take part in this beautiful day. As always, the images tell the story much better than I can. 🙂
Enjoy your slideshow and don’t forget to click the little “HD” in the upper-right hand corner of the slideshow to watch in HD. 🙂
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Rachel and I met for the first time less then two weeks before her birth. When she initially contacted me and told me that her due date was December 28th, we decided to book the birth and cross both fingers that she didn’t have a Christmas baby! At a routine appointment a couple of days before Christmas, her doctors thought she might need to be induced or have a repeat c-section due to low fluid, but they decided that baby was doing okay and she could stay pregnant until she went into labor on her own. Great news, as we all wanted to see her get the VBAC she was hoping for.
Christmas came and went with no appearance from the little guy. Then Friday evening at about 7:30 I got a text that said that Rachel had been having regular contractions for several hours and her water had broken. They would be heading to the hospital soon! I had a cup of coffee and headed up to the hospital as well. When I arrived Rachel was at about 5 cm and laboring really well on her own. She was going to try and go without the epidural if she could. Since I had asked her ahead of time if extra labor support from me would be something she thought she could benefit from, I offered a little extra help with encouragement and massage while Daddy was out getting something to eat. Since I have a lot of birth and doula experience, I love it when I get the opportunity to support moms in labor AND document the process. Sometimes I think I’m actually a doula disguised as a photographer. 🙂 When Daddy got back from getting something to eat, he jumped right in and did an awesome job at being a great support to Rachel.
A couple of hours later Rachel had only dilated one more centimeter and she was getting very tired and discouraged. Her doctor suspected that baby could be facing the wrong way. She was a rock star in labor, but didn’t know how much longer she wanted to go without some relief and rest. She decided to try changing positions to try and get the baby to turn and take it from there. A little while later, she decided she would go ahead and get an epidural and rest. Once the epidural was in place and she started to get relief, she was 10 cm in no time at all and it was time to push!
Soon her doctor arrived and after about 30 minutes of pushing, little Grey was born healthy and beautiful at 8 pounds, 11.2 ounces, exactly on his due date! I was so happy that Rachel achieved her VBAC! As you can see, Grey is quite the little cutie. Congratulations you guys!
**Be sure to click the little “HD” in the upper right-hand corner of the slideshow to watch in HD! Enjoy!
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I met Lindsey at our homeschool co-op last year. The minute we started talking about birth, we immediately had a ton in common! A little later when she became pregnant with her fourth child, I was THRILLED when she asked if I would come and photograph their home birth!
I received a text from Lindsey about 11:00pm on Sunday night saying that she had been having contractions since about 6:00pm. I fully expected to get maybe a couple hours of sleep and then head on over to their house, but to my surprise, I didn’t hear a peep until morning. I figured the contractions just fizzled out, so I started getting ready for co-op that morning. Then I got a text at about 7:30am that said that her contractions were five minutes apart and the midwife was heading over. YES!! I was super excited for this birth already, and a daytime birth was just the cherry on top!
I arrived at Lindsey’s house about 9:00am to find her husband Jonathan helping her labor and the birth tub filled and ready for her to get in. The midwife had arrived and their three older kids were playing quietly upstairs. Lindsey and Jonathan seemed to be in a pretty good rhythm and Lindsey was doing great at moving around and listening to her body. After a few hours of getting in and out of the tub and changing positions no less than one million times, she knew it was finally time to push. Their youngest decided she needed to be near mama in order to take her nap right about that time, so she came downstairs, and fell asleep under a blanket on the couch right next to her fiercely pushing mama! Lindsey had to work pretty hard at this stage, as baby presented face-sideways. Their beautiful baby was born at 12:40pm with a little bit of bruising but a very peaceful spirit. They didn’t find out the sex of the baby beforehand, so they called their two oldest children downstairs so they could all look together. A BOY!! Big brother’s reaction to his very first brother was priceless and SO FUN to watch. Lots of jumping up and down and a few tears of joy were involved. 🙂 He was a healthy 7 pounds and 5 ounces, their biggest baby so far!
What a privilege to be present for this birth. To see a family with everyone close and involved in welcoming a new family member is so beautiful, and a huge part of what home birth is all about. That was one of my favorite things about my own home birth!
A huge congratulations to this wonderful family and I hope you enjoy your slideshow!
**Be sure to click the little “HD” in the upper right-hand corner of the slideshow to watch in HD! Enjoy!
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