Christmas Eve 2022...
I was called to the last birth of the year that afternoon. I had never witnessed a free/unassisted birth before, and was really excited to have the opportunity. It was an incredible honor to be invited into such a sacred space and I was eager to document this life altering experience for this couple welcoming their first child.
My client was in the tub when I arrived, lovingly supported by her husband and birth keeper. She was moving and vocalizing intuitively with each surge. Their home was quiet, with just the sounds of a cackling wood stove and peaceful labor filling my ears.
We held space for her.
I could see she was deep in labor land. She seemed to be staying well connected to her body and her labor. She kept moving. Kept breathing. Kept vocalizing. She utilized the water, a comb, the gentle touch and encouragement of her husband. They made a really wonderful team! The afternoon turned into evening, and she decided she was ready to switch things up and get out of the tub. She labored briefly on the floor, and then moved out to the living room to warm up by the fire.
Labor in the living room.
There was a comfy nest on the floor made with a variety of blankets and pillows. The wood stove brought such a coziness to the space. It was warm, and the sound of the wood burning was peaceful. There were candles lit in various places around the room, with the back corner slightly illuminated by the twinkly lights from the Christmas tree.
She kept moving her body. Taking her breaks in between contractions to take a sip of water or to simply just be. Her husband gave her loving touches and never left her side. Her birth keeper held space, and sat with her, reminding her that she was doing a wonderful job listening to her body.
We all got tucked in for a rest after some time in the living room. Birth photographer on the couch, birth keeper in the chair, my client and her husband laying in the blanket nest on the floor in front of the wood stove. Sometime in the wee hours, we realized it was Christmas, and all exchanged a quiet happy "Merry Christmas!" to each other. We would officially be welcoming a Christmas baby!
At some point, we all must have dozed off. All of us except my client, who ended up wandering back into the bathroom. I heard a noise- something startled me awake. Her husband and birth keeper must have heard it too because suddenly we were looking around realizing someone was missing from the living room!
The body does great work at rest. This was a prime example. It was different now. She was laboring on the toilet (aka the dilation station, as I so lovingly refer to it), and her husband called out that he was pretty sure he was seeing some of their babies head. Her birth keeper and I joined them, and sure enough, the time to meet this special new being was upon us.
She caught her son.
She pushed him out and caught him herself. She scooped him up into her warm embrace and looked down at her beautiful new baby boy. While just his head was born, we could hear him making little peeps, and when he emerged he sounded wonderful! He was pink, with a full head of dark hair.
I was standing in their shower, pressed as far against the wall as I could possibly be. Wet socks? Who cares. I was in awe. I'm sure I had a huge smile. I was so happy for them. I was extremely excited that there was no one putting blankets or towels over them. No one was standing in my way. There were no arms or hands from other people getting in the frame. I was able to document the most raw, real, undisturbed birth I have ever seen. I was going to be able to deliver the most incredible gallery to this family, and I was thankful for that.
This is birth. It's a mess. A beautiful mess.
A baby boy, born at home on Christmas morning.
She did it, and it was magnificent. She trusted her body and her baby. She listened to her intuition. The placenta was next to join us. She knelt down, rocking and swaying with her baby in her arms. The period between birthing your baby and birthing your placenta sorta sucks a little. The placenta coming out is when the real relief sets in for most people. To give her body a little bit of a rest, she moved back up to the toilet to be able to sit while she waited for the placenta to come.
Her birth keeper set a bowl under her, inside the toilet, so the placenta could fall into it. It came out. Relief. Rest. Water.
I am honored to wish a very happy 1st birthday to this sweet Christmas Miracle! And, a very happy birthing day to my amazing client! I hope that this last year as a family of three has been the best!
Fun fact, I made it home from their birth 5 minutes before my boys woke up on Christmas morning! I had my eye on the clock on my way back home, knowing that the time they were going to get up was fast approaching. I snuck inside, and had enough time to change my clothes (wet socks remember?) and pour myself a much needed cup of coffee!
My boys came out of their rooms, filled with excitement and joy and wonder.
So many Christmas miracles that day. I can never begin to express the immense amount of gratitude I have for this family.
I will never ever forget the primal beauty of this birth.