The Birth of Noah Walker Goble.
When Lani first reached out to me about hiring me to photograph the birth of her second son, I was so honored. She went on to tell me about her hopes and dreams for her planned home birth, and who she had added to her team. She would be surrounded by her midwives, doulas, her husband, and me!
Her birth was going to be beautiful, I could feel it. I couldn't wait. In the days leading up to her birth day, we texted back and forth about the stress of prodromal labor, and how the very end of pregnancy is an absolute mind fuck.
She texted "I wanna catch my baby!!!" on a Thursday. The next day, she did it.
I'll let Lani her share her experience with you...
"Noah Walker Goble
18” + 7.5lb, born at home at 8:11am 8/25/23
Noah made sure that he stayed in charge of his birth story from the beginning. I was woken up by contractions at 3am the morning of the 22nd. Thinking it would be like Hayden’s labor, I started timing contractions, brushed my teeth, and did my hair because we hired a birth photographer and I wanted to look as cute as possible fully know my hair would be a matted mess by the end of it.
But wait, Mama, this is Noah’s story.
As the hours went on I continued to experience consistent contractions every 4-6 minutes from about 30-90 seconds in length, but they never got stronger or closer together. My midwife Mell checked Noah’s heartbeat and offered a cervical check, which I’d never done before or planned on doing, but I wanted information. I was 4cm dilated. Hayden went with the Papas for the night as we were thinking things would progress, but contractions slowed around 11pm and I slept almost undisturbed by them until morning.
Disappointed and tired from feeling contractions all day the prior day, I looked to my amazing birth team for encouraging words and affirmations, and they went above and beyond holding space for my feelings. I cried, defeated.
The next two days I continued to feel contractions every 8 to 30 minutes throughout the day for 30-60 seconds without them becoming stronger or closer together. I tried curb walking, bouncing on the ball, but otherwise resting as much as I could. I also lost my mucus plug which didn’t necessarily mean labor was close but that my body was doing some work. Time had no meaning. Was Noah going to come in a couple hours or weeks? I had to relinquish control, which as you know is VERY hard for me. My friend Steph’s words resonated with me: “This is all a part of his birth story.” I had to trust myself and my baby.
As Thursday grew into night, I did my normal routine of setting an alarm to take my medicine *just in case* I went into labor and needed the reminder in the morning and lay in bed. The contractions were more bothersome so I laid in an epsom salt bath to try and ease them so I could sleep, which had been working when I needed to sleep the last three days.
The contractions eased up but they never fully went away enough for me to fall asleep. I was timing them but decided to stop around 11:30pm because I was getting too much in my head. I laid in bed until about 1:45am when I started to feel like they were getting closer together and stronger. I called my midwife Mell and she suggested I keep timing them and take another bath. I did this and in the meantime called my doula Kat to ask her to come over since I told her I’d let her know when I needed help coping with the discomfort.
Mind you, my whole birth team was on edge thinking I’d push back alerting them to labor until the last minute like I did with Hayden so the days of false labor threw us all for a loop.
Before Kat arrived, I also called my midwife Ariel who delivered Hayden and began care with Noah, but had since moved with her family to Cambridge to attend Harvard for grad school. We were hoping she could make Noah’s birth but given the travel distance and her extensive school schedule the timing would have to be perfect.
I continued to labor in the bath tub and on the bed as Kat helped me into positions to open up my body, equipped me with the TENS machine, and offered counter pressure during the contractions. Midwife Mell and her student midwife Jenn arrived soon after and began their rotations of checking on Noah’s heartbeat and my vitals. Soon after that, around 4:30am, the birth photographer Alannah showed up and our team was almost complete.
Kat sat with me while I labored more in the bath tub. It felt like a safe place and we talked about how it mimicked being back in the womb. She and Alannah encouraged me to make the transition from the upstairs tub to the birthing tub downstairs before things got too intense, which were my wishes going into the birth. I was nervous about the surges I’d feel along the way downstairs but they calmed my nerves and helped me laugh thinking about where on the journey I’d be stopping for breaks. I needed the comedic relief. I made it down successfully with their help and continued to labor in the birth tub.
At this point it was becoming light and the rain fell heavily on the roof and deck outside. It was peaceful and perfect for helping me relax. The surges took me to new heights and tested my limits beyond what I could have imagined. Each person on my birth team took turns offering words of encouragement, affirmations, moments of laughter, and impeccable DJ skills with the playlist my best friends had collaborated on for me. No, transition was not the time for “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, but the memory of belting it out with my friends made me feel held.
Ariel and my other doula, Hannah, who was there for Hayden’s birth, arrived with only moments to spare. This was Noah’s birth story and he knew who I needed around me for this moment of strength and vulnerability.
When I was in the final throws of labor, Taylor squeezed my hands between squeezing my shoulders and putting pressure on my sacrum. I truly felt like the added pressure on my sacrum helped Noah descend lower and prepare to be pushed.
I had wanted to catch him but at this point I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open between surges. Each one made me roar with its intensity and grip on my body. Could I do this? I felt Ariel’s hand gently stroke my arm, and it felt like my mom had sent her there to give me the soft nurturing I needed in that moment to counterbalance the intensity of it. My team encouraged me to reach down and feel Noah’s head, and in 5 pushes he was out and in my arms. He let out a little cry and I let out a sigh of relief. We did it.
I hear you, little one. I am honoring your timeline as you teach me to be patient. The community that surrounds you knows that and honors that too. You are made of our love, strength, and release to the unknown. We are so honored to have your perfect soul join our family."
Thank you, Lani. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for choosing me to be a member of your incredible birth team. Holding space for you as you brought Noah into the world was the honor of a lifetime.
Birth Team Shoutouts:
Ariel, Saco River Midwifery
Mell and Jenn, In The Nest Midwifery
Kat, Pine State Doula
Hannah, Peony Doula Co