ruth james.

December 27, 2013

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This is the story of Ruth’s birth. I went back and forth about posting because it’s slightly different from the norm and sometimes that makes people nervous. But it is my story and it is her story. It’s our story. (Thank you to a sweet friend for reminding me of that.)

I had Ruth at home. In my bedroom. In a kiddie pool. And I wouldn’t change one single thing about it. Here are the details:

She was born on Monday, November 11 at 1:47pm. The night before, I decided that a big dinner didn’t sound good at all and opted for a smoothie instead. That alone should have been the equivalent of someone shooting flares and waving a banner that said “YOU ARE GOING INTO LABOR!” because lots of carbs were involved in the dinner we planned to make. And I love carbs. Pregnant or not , I don’t pass up a roll. I had a few contractions early that evening, but contractions had come and gone in the weeks prior so I didn’t think labor was starting. (A theme that lasts through out this story.) Around 10:30 the contractions became consistent. 12 minutes apart. 10 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. They stayed through the night and I paced and rocked and swayed and tried to decide if this was really it.

About 4am Joel woke up. He was convinced that I was indeed in labor. The contractions stayed around 7 minutes apart through early morning. My mom was the first to come over. I am so thankful that she was. She kept sweet Felix occupied until Joel’s parents could come get him. (So no, he wasn’t there for the delivery. He likes to be in water way too much. Pair that with a pool just his size with brightly colored googly eyed sea animals all over it and I don’t think he could contain himself.) I called Claudia, one of my midwives, around 8am to fill her in on the night and how I was feeling. She was attending another birth so she called Debbie, the other midwife, and passed on the info. Debbie called me back and I told her I wasn’t quite sure she should come yet. My contractions were still 7 mins apart and I could talk through most of them. She told me to call her back in an hour with an update. About 45 minutes after our initial call she called back and said she was on her way. Since it was my second birth she felt like she needed to be here sooner than later. I went ahead and warned her not to be mad if I was not actually in labor or only dilated to only a 2 or something. While we waited for her to arrive my best friend, Chelsea, came. My sister and sister-in-law also came to be a part of everything. A gaggle of women supporting me however I needed. I am so thankful they got to be there. Debbie and the apprentice, Lacey, arrived just as Felix was leaving with my in-laws. He was not interested in a sweet good bye. It made me sorta sad, but I get it. He knew something was up but didn’t quite get what it was.

The first thing Lacey did when they got there was listen to Ruth’s heart beat, which was strong. I loved hearing it. Debbie checked my progress and told me that I was “doing a great job”. That’s it. No number to dwell on or think about, so I had no clue how dilated I was. She suggested that I take a nice walk outside in the backyard to help things progress, since my contractions were still 6-7ish minutes apart. So I threw on Joel’s giant hoodie and my leopard print flats (My labor outfit was pretty amazing. I’ll have to add a picture of that.) Joel and I headed outside. It was such a pretty day. A glorious day. It was cool, not cold. The sun was bright. Orange and red leaves were falling. A neighbor had a burn pile going. It was the epitome of autumn. We walked and with each contraction we’d stop and I would hang on Joel’s shoulders and sway though them. Then we’d walk some more. Other than meeting my daughter, it was my favorite part of the whole day. At the risk of sounding cheesy, it made me feel so connected to Joel.

When we headed back in they checked Ruthie’s heartbeat while I was at rest, as well as during a contraction.(They did that a few times throughout my labor.) She was still perfect. Debbie asked if I was ready for the pool. Yes, I most certainly was. The only catch was that our water heater wasn’t turned up all the way, so the water wasn’t quite warm enough for me. So, just like in the olden days they heated pots of water on the stove and dumped them in the pool water to warm things up. A method a little slower than I would have preferred but it worked well. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Oh sweet magical waters. I hit transition shortly after getting in and while it most certainly didn’t take all the pain away, because it was TRANSITION, it did help me feel more calm between contractions. It helped me stay as relaxed as possible. My water had been intact through all of this and Debbie asked if I wanted her to check me. I knew that when she did it would probably break my waters. And you guys. It get’s REAL when that buffer is removed. Felix’s birth was really stinking tough after they broke my water, so I was dreading it. I told her I wasn’t ready. One of the reasons we chose a home birth was that we got to make the informed choices. Unless it would put me or baby in danger, everything was our call. I wasn’t ready to be checked, so she didn’t check me.

Another major differences between a home birth and a hospital birth is when you are “allowed” to push. As I labored in the pool, I told Debbie I felt like I needed to push at the end of each contraction. She said “Then push! Your body won’t push more than it needs to.” So I did. It felt good. It felt right. I got more and more squirmy with each contraction. Slightly changing positions with each one. I was on all fours when a particularly hard contraction hit and with that push my water broke. The moment it broke I had an overwhelming urge to push again, right away. So with a literal ROAR (Hey Katy Perry!) I pushed hard. It all happened so quick. I looked up and everyone was tearing up. I remember thinking “That must mean she is here! Is she here!?!” I turned over and they put her on my chest. Her small warm body made me feel so many things. Love. Oh the love. And shock. I could not believe she was actually here. On my chest. Here.

Her little body was so blue. But, I never once worried. Both Debbie and Lacey were so calm about the whole thing, it set the whole tone for the entire room. Debbie explained that she was birthed quickly and just needed some time to adjust to being on the outside. (Yet another thing I loved about using midwives/having a home birth is that they explained every single thing. ) Very shortly after some rubbing and aspirations she let out a tiny little cry. Then with each breath she got pinker and pinker. If I had been in the hospital they most likely would have cut the cord and whisked her away. We hung out in the pool for a little bit being still, allowing us both to adjust. After I moved to my bed, I delivered my placenta (Hooray for the details not many like to hear about!) and continued skin to skin and breastfeeding. Fast fact: Having a baby at home was not nearly as messy as I thought it would be. I was thinking massacre. It was more of hang nail situation. My placenta stayed attached for about an hour after I delivered Ruth. We didn’t cut it right after she was born for lots of good reasons that I’ll leave for another day or for you to Google. What I won’t spare you of is how wacky it felt standing in an aisle in Wal-Mart trying to decide which bowl would be best for a placenta. The things you never thought you’d do in life.

They checked Ruthie out, weighing her, measuring her, making sure her vitals were good. Then I got a very thorough once over and a bit later I hopped in, also known as slowly hobbled to, the shower. By the time I got out the pool was gone, the wet towels were gone, the sheets were changed, and the bed was turned down. Like I hadn’t just had a baby in the middle of my bedroom. After we were settled in I remembered to ask how dilated I was when they first arrived. I was at a 7. A 7! And I didn’t think I was in labor. I am beyond thankful that they don’t usually tell how far in centimeters you’ve progressed because, sheesh, that can mess with your head. If I had known I was at a 7 I would have tensed up knowing transition could hit any minute, possibly hindering progress.

I remember being in the pool and saying “I am so glad we did it this way.” And if I can say something like that in the middle of having a baby, I promise you that I meant it. I am so glad that I chose to have her the way I did. It was right for us. The level of care I received was absolutely amazing. Instead of a combined time of one hour with my doctor over the entire length of my pregnancy, I had an entire hour with my midwives at each visit. (I will add that I did have an amazing backup doctor in case of a hospital transfer.) If it’s a low-risk pregnancy and you are in the care of an experienced knowledgeable midwife, I say go for it. I know. I know. It’s not for everyone, but it was everything that I could ask for in a birth. Thank you Jesus. The Lord was so so good to me. One of the verses I continually prayed (and wrote around my birth pool) in the days leading up to everything was this:

God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace. – Psalm 29:11

His Word is truth.



(You can find the pictures HERE.)





  • Lauren

    What a beautiful story. I’m so proud of you, for being brave and standing up for your rights in the birthing process and for being courageous enoigh to share your story. May others be encouraged to seek their own best for their baby and birth, whatever that looks like. You are an inspiration, my friend. Love you and this story!

  • Emily Lacey

    I stumbled on your story looking for painted brick! The funny thing is, I had a wonderful home birth the Tuesday before you, to my little Rosa. It wasn’t exactly planned as well as yours but everything was perfect. I wish every woman could experience the beauty of what I believe, is one of our most important purposes of life. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hannah

      Congrats on little Rosa! You are absolutely right, birth is such a beautiful thing. It’s amazing. Thanks for your sweet comment and good luck on your brick painting endeavors! I’ve never looked back. :)

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