This week is Stella’s birth Week. I can’t even believe it!

I thought this week would be a good week to catch up on all that stuff you want to document in the first year, but they fly by in a few blinks of the eye and you never get the chance… Like my maternity pictures (photo credit to Errin Andrus), and all the moments and decisions in my pregnancy I never got to explain.

My pregnancy with Stella was such an amazing time in my life. I really took the time to enjoy every minute of my pregnancy. I did yoga, I bonded with my baby, I studied, and studied, and studied every bit of birth I could get my hands on. I thought of every single detail of my pregnancy and labor that would bring my baby into a safer, healthier, more calm environment. I used Stella’s pregnancy as an opportunity for my own personal growth. I started going to therapy and really dove into anything that would change my life for the better and make my family closer and more efficient. In so many words, my pregnancy with Stella really changed everything.

How I stumbled onto home birth:

During my first pregnancy, I almost hate to admit that I had never even thought of my birth options or experience or that I was actually a mother and fully capable of making the decisions that were right for MY baby. That thought never crossed my mind to question my doctor or to think beyond “labor hurts”, that is until the day AFTER I gave birth to my first beautiful little bundle of pink deliciousness, Harlo.
I was sick nearly every single day of my first pregnancy. I really loved it in a very different way, the way only a mother who loves that baby inside her could love a pregnancy, but I ate what I could keep down and I took my vitamins and nausea medication diligently and got through it. I gained a whopping 13 lbs total. At 37 and a half weeks along, I was still a bit nervous about becoming a new mom that I barely noticed that my pregnancy was coming to a quick end and my labor started on it’s own at one in the afternoon. I gave birth at 2:50 in the afternoon… the following day.
During my 26 hour labor filled with NO sleep, lots of medication, lots of numbness, which lead to lots of vomiting, lots of people in and out and in and out and in and out of my room, a doctor who had turned up completely MIA until the little darling’s (posterior) head was already out of my body… which I had temporarily, absolutely and completely forgotten about the first time I saw that beautiful little face with her big lips and squishy little body and the most luscious dark hair that I’d ever seen in my life. I was a mom. This was my baby. She cried the most beautiful sound in the world and her warmth felt absolutely heavenly as she was placed on my body. After all those eternal thoughts and emotions settled, I remember my first thought being “I didn’t know she’d be so beautiful”. Luckily, I had somehow managed to muster up the tiniest thought about my birth experience and previously asked for them not to take away my baby until I let them, I held her skin to skin for about 20 minutes until they took her to weigh her and wash her and bring her back for our families to flood in and shower our new family with love. I was much too tired to think as I had been up for the 33 hours before this moment, but as soon as I got my little 10 minute cat nap before I was being pushed to my new recovery room, I remember thinking “that’s weird.. I don’t even remember seeing my doctor during my whole labor.” I don’t remember a lot else about that night, but the next day I remember wanting to be home with my baby SOOOO much and I was literally being held hostage in a room with a broken heater that wouldn’t turn off and a nurse who kept ignoring my pages for MORE ICE PACKS, PLEASE! And who later apologized for ignoring me but I was “just back in the back room and I have way too many mothers to keep track of to get to everyone”. I started sobbing the minute we got in the car. I felt like something had been taken from me. Like someone had stollen from me on the biggest day of my life, and worse, that I had ALLOWED someone to steal from me on the biggest day of my life. Later that night, after I had FINALLY gotten in the shower and sobbed myself into relaxation, I got on amazon and ordered my first birth book. I was never, ever having a baby again if I had to have it in that hospital. (sorry DRMC)

By the time I got pregnant with my next baby, just 10 months later I had already studied birth and birthing options and I knew I wanted a home birth. I was still pretty worried about the pain factor (note the 26 hour labor mentioned above) but I humored my husband who had NOT done any studying and we interviewed both doctors and midwives. After the first midwife, my cynical little Daddy was already convinced. Home birth it would be.
I became obsessed. I treated it as if, well, it were my baby. I went to every class given by my team of midwives, I signed up for Bradley classes which my husband happily attended with me every Thursday night for the last 14 weeks, I really feel as if I took advantage of the joys of pregnancy I could get my hands on. As any accomplished natural birther will tell you, birth is a lot like a marathon. You have to really train and commit, but crossing the finish line will be the most miraculous feeling. I have to say (having never run a marathon) that crossing a finish line after 26.2 miles must feel amazing, but it could never touch giving birth naturally. It just couldn’t.
I, of course, dealt with all sorts of back lash with planning my natural home birth.. I’ve gotten every comment from “wow, you’re really brave!” to “my sister’s baby almost died, so I would never have a baby at home” to “are you going to have a midwife or something?” all the while looking at me like I had just told them I planned on tattooing my own face. Oh, did I also mention that at this point I had never really met anyone who had had a planned natural birth, much less a HOME birth? Looking back I’m really proud of myself for sticking with my guns and comitting to something that was so far out of my world of “normal”.
The people and comments I could take, but what I was NOT prepared for was to not only reach my due date, but to go OVER my due date. Now that… that is a test unlike any other. No one who has not gone over due with a baby could possibly understand the utter desperation one feels when they are completely full of nealry 8 pounds of a living, wiggling, nudging (and likely, uncomfortable) human inside their own body who they are just terribly eager to meet as they have been waiting patiently for better part of a year. For that last week, I asked myself “would you rather have a c-section today or be pregnant for one more day?” and I’ll admit that some days the c-section sounded pretty dang good. I tried every single natural remedy to get that baby out of my body. I bounced and lunged and rocked and walked and drank and ate and lathered up every single thing I had ever heard that could possibly get a baby out. But as most babies who are given the option, Stella had her own time to come and she knew exactly when it would be right.
That Tuesday morning at 9:40 am felt like the best moment of my life, when my water broke. And it only got better from there.

You can read Stella’s birth story from last year HERE.

My natural birth, giving birth to my 2nd daughter in the very room she was created, in the home she would spend her first years of life, pulling her out of my body with my very own hands with my adoring and strong partner at my side.. It’s something I wish for all my sisters and friends and especially my own daughters to experience.

Stella really completed my family. Not in a way that we’re not having any more kids, but in a way that we just really became a full family that day. Brady and I had really become partners more than just a couple.
Harlo became a big sister as she was meant to be with her strong and loving personality. We became the Millers that day. And honestly, it only got better from there.

Maternity pictures taken in my bedroom exactly as I wanted them, to perfectly capture my pregnancy in June 2010.