The Water HBAC of Jolene Estelle

Apr 23rd 2011

Jolene Estelle, April 21st 2011

I can’t believe it – she’s finally here. 16 months ago, we set out to conceive a daughter and birth her at home in a tub, and on the morning of April 21, 2011, our dream finally came true.

This is my long, first hand perspective of the events.  The live-blogged version is available for viewing here.  There are time-stamped updates, pictures, and short video clips available on the live blog version, and I did not see any of that before I wrote my own version of the story.

Here are the quick stats:

Jolene Estelle, born at home in water at 8:22 am, April 21st 2011.
9 lbs, 9 oz – 21 & 1/4 inches long – 37.5 cm head – APGARS 9 and 9

Birth Team:

  • 2 Certified Nurse Midwives
  • 1 Assistant Midwife (midwife in training)
  • 1 Doula
  • 1 Person Documenting
  • 1 Awesome Husband
  • (Yes, that’s 6 people total – bigger than most wedding parties.)

If I had tried to script out the ideal birth experience for me, I never could have planned it out as well as the birth actually went. I feel so incredibly lucky for how the entire thing played out. There’s not one single thing I would have done differently, and if I could bottle a birth like that and sell it, I’m sure I’d make a mint.

I complained and complained about the prodromal (start/stop) labor I had that started two weeks before the birth. It was terribly frustrating, and made me very nervous that I could lose my homebirth. But in hindsight, my body gave me the best gift in the world, and that was the gift of making it to near full dilation without ever experiencing a painful contraction.

On Wednesday, April 20th, I was 41 weeks gestation, and told myself that I was absolutely going into labor that day – come hell or high water – I was making it happen. I just knew it was time. My body had tried to start labor more times than I could count, and I really believed that my very full, very strong amniotic sac was the only thing stopping the show. I believed that my baby was ready, and I was ready, and it was TIME. I had my husband stay home from work, I got a chiro adjustment to make sure that the baby and my pelvis were lined up correctly, and I took a 3-hour afternoon nap. When I woke up, we sent the kids off to Grandma’s for the night, ate some dinner, and set out to stir up some natural oxytocin. I called my midwife and told her what was going on so she could be prepared if things got rolling.

At 5:30 pm, we had some really great sex, and then hooked me up to the breastpump to keep my nipples stimulated. I started contracting pretty regularly at 6 pm, and kept contracting until I took a shower around 9 pm. The contractions felt like they had for weeks – relatively painless, yet a little uncomfortable. The shower stopped the contractions for about 20 minutes, but when I got back on the pump, they started up again.

At 9:45 pm, I called the midwife and asked for her opinion. I told her that I had been having contractions about 4 minutes apart for over 3 hours. Even though I knew I wasn’t really in “active” labor, I felt like I needed her to come over see what was going on. She agreed and offered to come over to check me because she thought perhaps I was making more progress than I suspected. I was so relieved that she chose to come even though things didn’t seem imminent because I really needed someone professional to be here with me. I felt like I could easily go to bed and stop the contractions if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to do that. I was ready to do whatever it took to make sure my body stayed on board with labor this time. Being postdates already meant that if things went on much longer, I could risk ending up with a hospital induction, and that was the last thing I wanted. She said I had another week before that would happen, but I didn’t want stop the great momentum that I had going, plus I was scared that if I made it stop, I might not get it started again before time was up.

Around 10 pm, my midwife was on her way, but the minute we hung up the phone, my contractions stopped completely. After about 20 minutes of zero contractions, I got so, so angry. I called up my doula and ranted about my frustrating body and how I knew the midwife was going to come over to find I was totally not in labor and it was a waste of her time. I know that sometimes labor can slow down when we get nervous or new people are brought in, but in that moment, I didn’t care about what I knew – I was just mad at my body.

At 11 pm, I was back on the pump when the midwife came in. I told her the contractions had completely stopped and the pump wasn’t working like it had before. But, she wasn’t bothered by that, and told me she was so confident that the baby was coming tonight, that she had called the other midwife on the drive over and told her to come over too. After a little chatting, we both decided that maybe my bag was just in the way, and perhaps an artificial rupture of membranes was the only thing I needed to get the job done. I had been so scared of my bag being broken because I feel like it is a fairly risky intervention, but at that point I agreed that if we found my cervix to be favorable, I was okay with AROM to get my baby on the outside safely. If I stayed pregnant much longer, I’d probably be faced with a Pitocin induction in the hospital, which seemed like a much less safe option.

At 11:30 pm, she checked my cervix, and found that I was 7 cm dilated and the bag was bulging during a contraction. We were right – my bag just didn’t want to get out of the way. I had such a strong sac, and so much fluid, that the baby was basically just able to float at -1 station, and her head wasn’t applying enough pressure to the cervix. The midwife told me to call the rest of my birth team and have them come over. She didn’t want to break my bag until everyone was there because she thought labor would go very fast after that.

At 12:45 am, everyone was in place, but my contractions had miraculously picked back up, so nobody seemed in any hurry to break my water, or my rhythm. We all sat around talking and joking and having a great time. Contractions were still not painful at all – just uncomfortable. I really just felt a ton of pressure when I was standing. It was nothing at all like any labor I’d felt before.

After about an hour I did a hydrogen peroxide cleanse, which was something I chose to do as a precautionary measure because I had declined GBS testing. More often a midwife will recommend doing a wash with Hibiclens©, but I had mentioned to my midwife on an earlier visit that I got a yeast infection the few times I tried douching when I was younger, and she said that Hibiclens© could do the same thing to me. She recommended hydrogen peroxide as a safer option with no risk of giving me a nasty postpartum yeast infection.

A little while after the cleanse, we crawled in bed to break my water, but we got a fun surprise instead. I was 8 cm dilated, but the baby had tucked her hand up above her head and was basically high-fiving my cervix. The midwife was actually able to feel all of the baby’s fingers and actually touch in between each of them. She said it was one of the coolest things she had ever felt! We decided that, with Jolene’s hand in the way, breaking my water wasn’t a good idea. If we broke the bag with her hand near my cervix, her whole arm could slip down (necessitating a hospital transfer), or she might be born with a nuchal hand (a hand by her face) which could cause me a quite a bit of tearing. Instead, they instructed me to do some pelvic inversions until the baby got her hand out of the way.

Trying to move baby’s hand away from cervix

I got on my hands and knees for the inversion and joked with my doula and photographer about the fact that I was 8 whole centimeters dilated and not feeling a bit of pain. I really could not believe it was true. I felt like everyone had to be lying to me – that maybe I was really 2 cm and they told me I was 8 just to throw me a little bone. It just didn’t seem possible to be that far along while cracking jokes through each contraction. Honestly, they were absolutely not painful at all. In my last two labors, I was screaming for an epidural at 2 cm dilated, so this was completely bizarre and uncharted territory for me.

After another hour or so, we checked me again and found that Jolene cooperated, and her head was the only thing up against my cervix. The midwife put a tiny tear in the bag to start a slow leak. We all assumed that as soon as I was ruptured, with being 8-9 cm dilated at that point, that things would pick up at lightening speed. That was actually a huge fear of mine because I’ve seen that happen, but that’s not what happened to me at all. Because the leak was small, I let go of just enough fluid to get her head applied, but not enough to make things feel out of control. All I felt was tons and tons of uncomfortable pressure, but contractions still weren’t painful.

Hyphenated Husband being an awesome partner.

I got in the tub and the pressure was instantly relieved, too much actually, because things slowed down again. After a little while, I asked everyone to leave the room so I could make out with my husband to try to get things to pick up. Then, I got a little overheated in the tub and decided to go sit in the boys’ room on a stool where it was about 15 degrees cooler. While I was sitting there, I decided that I needed to sleep. It was around 5 am, and I felt so sorry for my whole team who was awake in the living room. When I asked the midwife if it was okay if I napped, I thought she was going to tell me that it wasn’t, but she actually encouraged it. She told me several times that she trusted my body, and I loved hearing that. It was one of the very best things anyone could have said to me.  Everyone got to take a little nap while I climbed in bed with John and fell asleep.

I woke up from my blissful nap at 6:45 AM when I started feeling a little rectal pressure, along with more fluid pouring out. Again, I still wasn’t feeling any pain at all, which actually scared me because I thought maybe labor had stopped all together and that I had made a terrible choice to have my bag broken.

I woke John up and went back to the stool in the boys’ room. I sat there and confessed that I was scared that my body was never going to finish labor and that breaking my bag hadn’t worked. Shockingly, within 5 minutes of saying that, I had the hardest, most painful contraction that I’ve felt since my last labor. A few minutes later, I had another one, and I realized that it was business time. We woke everyone up, and my midwife told me to try to handle as many contractions as I could on the stool, and we’d move to the tub when I felt the urge to push. Two contractions later, I was yelling for the tub, and couldn’t talk at all by the time they put me in. Pretty soon, the contractions were Holy-Mother-of-Crazy-Insanity™, and I quickly doubted my ability to handle them. There was nothing I could do but hang on to the edge of the tub and moan/grunt through them. I felt like I was screaming bloody murder, but everyone said that I wasn’t screaming at all and that I was handling each contraction beautifully. I was bearing down through contractions, but it felt like I was just pushing against pain and that it couldn’t possibly be moving the baby down. Then John told the midwife that I’d had an anterior lip in my last labor so he wondered if I was pushing against another one of those. She reached in to check me from behind and said confidently that the baby was +2 station and I was completely dilated with nothing in the way. I was shocked to hear that the baby was already that far through, and it gave me all the confidence I needed to believe that I could keep pushing until she was out.

Contractions feeling crazy now – midwife checking baby’s heart tones and all is well.

At one point, I remember a hard contraction that had me crying “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t” but as I started to lean into it, I changed to saying “I can, I can, I can” until it was over. When I began to feel her head crowning, I said something to my husband like “Oh my god, John, there’s a baby coming out of me!!!!!!” It was the most unreal feeling I’ve ever experienced. I reached down and felt her head only a few centimeters inside my vagina. I was doing it – really doing it!

Pretty soon, that ring-of-fire came blazing onto the scene, and a midwife shouted out that the baby was crowning. Everyone was encouraging me, and oh holy hell, I was in so much pain that all I could do was follow it down and push it out of my body. I could feel every little bone in her body, and even though it was painful, it was an unbelievably magical feeling. I felt so connected with this person emerging from me. As her head was crowning, I stayed pushing as hard as I could until I heard everyone say that her head was out. Since I was on my knees facing away from the midwives, I couldn’t see what they were doing, but apparently they were all holding my butt down so I didn’t pop out of the water. The baby needs to stay fully emerged in water until she’s completely born because babies take their first breath as soon as any part of them hits air.

The shoulders were actually much harder to get out than I thought they’d be, and I needed an extra big push to pass those through. I was scared for a second that maybe they weren’t coming as easily as they should, but the midwives said later that there was no sign of dystocia and it didn’t take any longer than it normally would. As soon as I felt all her little bones and flesh pass out of me, I flipped around as fast as I could and scooped my brand new baby up out of the water. It was 8:22 am.

I remember crying, “I did it! I did it!” and then immediately checked between her legs to see if she was still a girl. All the sudden it hit me – I got my dream. I had a healthy baby girl in a tub in my bedroom after an almost completely painless labor: I am the luckiest person alive.

After the cord stopped pulsing, John cut it, and put the baby on his chest so that I could take care of delivering the placenta. Everything came out exactly as it should, and I lost very, VERY little blood (only 200 cc’s during the birth, and about another 100 in the few hours postpartum.) It’s quite normal for a mom to lose around 500 cc’s during the birth, so I was on the very low end of the spectrum.

After that, they checked me for tears, and I only had a tiny 1st degree tear on one side of my labia. No perineal tearing, yay! They said my little labial tear didn’t necessarily need any stitching, but since I have other kids to take care of and can’t stay off my feet for that long, they recommended that I get one little stitch to help it out.

About an hour after the birth, the boys came home to meet their baby sister, and fell in love with her immediately. Then, the midwives did the newborn assessment and John got to be the one to weigh her. We found that she was a healthy 9 lbs, 9 oz and just over 21 inches long. She also had a head circumference of 37.5 centimeters, which is quite large – and yet – I pushed that head out of my body without so much as a Tylenol. THAT. RULES!

Over the next two hours, they fed me, monitored my vitals, and cleaned up the house. By the time the midwives left around 12:30 pm, I was resting comfortably, and the house was right back to normal. I’ve gotten so many questions from people over the months wondering about the mess of homebirth, but I can honestly say that once the midwives were done, there was no sign at all that a birth had just taken place in my bedroom.

The experience was more perfect and blissful than I ever could have planned or hoped for. I had a team of 5 women surrounding me with love, professional support, and encouragement in all the right ways, and a husband who stayed 100% with me in the birth process and was the best birth partner anyone could ask for.

So many people wondered and worried whether having a house full of people would distract me, or if my birth would be negatively affected by the live blogging that was going on, but honestly, it was absolutely, 100% perfect for me. Once we turned on the live blogging, I never thought about it again. I put it completely out of my mind, and Erica (my photographer) did an amazing job of producing that whole show without ever letting it enter my conscious birth space. Every person on my birth team made themselves useful, and kept themselves out of the way when they weren’t needed. I wouldn’t change a single thing, and I can hardly believe I got lucky enough to have a birth that was so incredible.

I had my homebirth. I’ve got my Jolene. I still can’t believe it’s real, but everything was absolutely perfect.

I’d like to give an extra huge thanks to every member of my amazing birth team, along with Brio Birth, who sponsored the Live Blog event and made it possible for a whopping 18,000 readers from all corners of the world to watch my birth story unfold live as it was happening.  I’m so touched by everyone’s support and encouragement through this process.  Thank you.

Here’s the video from pushing through delivery.

And here’s the photo slideshow!

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94 Responses to “The Water HBAC of Jolene Estelle”

  1. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I realize this is nerdy but I can’t believe I’m one of the first to comment. I’ve been stalking your blog lately and was so happy to see you go into labor naturally. I watched most of the live blog and thought it was such a great experience.

    I had a wonderful quick! vbac with my 2nd and am planning a homebirth with my 3rd. I hope it can goes as beautifully as yours did.

    I know birth can be unpredictable but I’m so glad that all your preparation paid off.

  2. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So, so happy that you got a beautiful, peaceful birthing experience. The moment you scooped Jolene up into your arms was profoundly empowering.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey! You, and your family, are pretty dang awesome.

  3. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I am SO HAPPY that you got your homebirth and everything went so well. Congratulations on little Jolene, she’s gorgeous!
    Catie´s last blog post… My Favorite Android AppsMy Profile

  4. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    It was absolutely magical watching your live birth, and I’m so happy for you that everything went to plan and you have your beautiful baby girl. Enjoy your babymoon 😀 xxxx

  5. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So glad that you achieved your dream. Congratulations.

  6. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m so glad to hear this! What a wonderful birth story — sounds like it couldn’t have gone any better. Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful little girl.

  7. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Very cool! I got a little teary-eyed reading this one. I hope your birth magic will rub off on me in a few weeks! Congratulations–I hope you’re able to rest and enjoy your family a bit longer before getting back to your studies. :-)

  8. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Go Gina! You rocked this birth! So proud of you and so happy you I’ve your little Jolene to hold in your arms!

  9. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Oh, Gina, that was amazing. You so fucking rocked that birth. Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl!
    Fakey´s last blog post… RefreshedMy Profile

  10. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I totally have tears streaming down my face right now. I’m not sure I can thank you enough for sharing this experience with all of us, and I’m so happy for you. With my planned HBAC coming up in just over a week or so, I want this more than anything. Congratulations to you, Jolene, HH, and your entire birth team on a beautiful birth.

  11. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    That is, without a doubt, the most amazing and wonderful birth story I have ever read. What a dream. The biggest congratulations to you and your family on the utterly perfect introduction of Jolene into your family.
    Candice´s last blog post… This sucktacular dayMy Profile

  12. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So excited to finally have Jolene here and to read your birth story! I missed the live blogging event but hope to go back and watch the videos when I get a quiet moment. Congrats to you and your family. You got the birth of your dreams.

  13. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    You deserved this perfect birth so much! I’m so happy for you. You are an inspiration to me. I hope to follow in your proud footsteps one day. Take care of yourself in the following weeks! Love from Ottawa, Canada.

  14. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    I admire you for setting out to demystify natural birth. You handled it beautifully. Congratulations on a gorgeous baby girl.

  15. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m so happy for you and proud of you both! You did it! We all knew you could! She’s perfect.
    Amanda´s last blog post… Thursdays Little Things and I need a boostMy Profile

  16. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina-having been there to witness all this, all I can say is that I am in awe of you. You were so beautiful, surrendering to your body and trusting yourself. I am honored to have been there to see you have your amazing HBAC. You absolutely rocked it.
    Erica´s last blog post… Birth Bliss and Self ReflectionMy Profile

  17. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Gina – I’m SO happy everything worked out so perfectly for you. What an amazing birth story. She’s beautiful and you are amazing. Rock on!
    Lauren Hale´s last blog post… Friday Soother 042211- The Sheik has a cuppaMy Profile

  18. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    My labor stopped immediately after I called my midwife, too. :) And I was 41 weeks, 5 days, so I was really frustrated.
    What a great story! I wish I’d taken video of my birth, but I have wonderful pictures of the whole thing.
    Nyssa´s last blog post… Good Friday in more than one wayMy Profile

  19. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Without so much as a Tylenol…it’s such a rush, isn’t it? Gives a whole new meaning to feeling like a total ROCK STAR! I can’t wait to feel that kind of pride again.

    I’m so happy for you!
    wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas´s last blog post… An Earth Day Wish for You…My Profile

  20. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations on your perfect birth and your wonderful little girl!

  21. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  22. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Yay!!! Congrats Gina and HH!!

  23. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations sweetheart! I’m so pleased and impressed with how beautifully this went, what an awesome job YOU did… and what a beautiful baby girl. Awww. *cries a bit* <3
    Kate Hansen´s last blog post… Rollerderby Saved My Sanity and body!My Profile

  24. Judy @ MommyNewsBlog | Profile
    VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    What a beautiful story!! I’m so happy for you – congrats on your new baby and your magical birth!!
    Judy @ MommyNewsBlog´s last blog post… Happy Earth Day – Giveaway And Coupon!My Profile

  25. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m so glad you had your healing birth, and it was awesome to watch. In fact I’ve gone back to watch it a couple more times. I have had two hideous inductions and have never experienced a normal natural contraction. I am probably about a year away from being pregnant again and in that time I am researching every thing about homebirth and midwifery that I can find. I’ve been watching so many home videos and I am positive that birthing my baby at home is the right choice. Although I am happy my babies were born healthy I feel truncated somehow, like I have been deprived of that feeling of birth that wasn’t pitocin induced. I feel that I have had my babies forced out of me by artificial means and I am longing for a healing birth too. Your story and other homebirth stories are filling me with both longing and hope. God bless. Tara

  26. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    So many smiles & happy congrats to you! That baby girl had a nice large head & u did it! I am sure you know it wasn’t luck. Months of prep, Hard work, love & support from ur team, strength, & grace. The universe & you worked together, not just luck. So proud!

  27. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    That is amazing. I had my daughter (only child so far) in a birthing center with a midwife. She was born in a big whirlpool tub. It really is an amazing feeling to know that you did it! I’m so glad you the birth you wanted!

  28. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Incredibly inspiring. Reading this brought back some good memories of my (birth center) birth. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this experience with us!

  29. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I discovered your blog just a few weeks ago and have been lurking ever since. I am so thrilled you got such an ideal HBAC! Congrats to your whole family. :) We want to TTC soon and I am hoping for an HBAC next time, so your story is very inspiring to me! Thank you for sharing it.

  30. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I have tears in my eyes. You are a goddess. Congratulations to you and your family!

  31. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m in tears. Sobbing! I love this homebirth story and I’m so glad your dream came true. You trusted your body. You DID IT.

    !!!! Welcome Jolene! Congrats on your new baby woman. 😀

  32. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Fantastic!! If you bottled that up, I’d totally buy one. So happy for you that you got the birth you wanted, it sounds AMAZING!! I hope breastfeeding is going well for you both and am hoping that my homebirth (sometime in the next year…) goes just as smoothly as yours!!!

  33. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Loved reading your birth story. We are so grateful that you let us in on one of the most beautiful, empowering days of your life. Jolene is beautiful, and we’ll be eager to hear more about her :) congratulations and warmest wishes, TFB….you’re amazing!
    Katie Freeman´s last blog post… today is Earth Day!My Profile

  34. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

    Congratulations! What a beautiful story and birth experience. Thank you for sharing and inspiring me!
    Mama to J and Bean´s last blog post… Over the River and Through the WoodsMy Profile

  35. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    I’m so happy that you got the beautiful birth and beautiful daughter that you wanted, Gina! Home births are magical, spiritual, grounding and wonderful and I wish everyone could experience them. Like you, mine was relatively painless right up until the “ring of fire”. I most appreciate how midwives leave you to do what your body needs to do (for me it was to be alone in my cave to connect with my baby and focus my energies). Congratulations again, Gina! I look forward to many more photos and posts about your darling little girl and her big brothers.

  36. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congratulations! I was so happy to read your beautiful birth story. Enjoy your newest member of the family.

  37. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Congrats! I saw the post announcing that you were in labor at 2AM, but missed the birth itself — but it’s so exciting that everything went exactly how you wanted. 😀

    You guys look lovely.
    Ashley´s last blog post… Preliminary Thoughts on the Diva CupMy Profile

  38. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    It was awesome, Gina. I’m so glad I got to be a part of your birth. I hope SO MANY women who think they can’t VBAC or HBAC see your birth & know that they CAN.

    Again, way to go & congratulations! 😀
    kelly @kellynaturally´s last blog post… Celebrate Mother EarthMy Profile

  39. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    when you scooped her up out of the water and said “it’s my baby!” i burst into tears. you were amazing! I am in awe of you and totally inspired by you. I keep going back and looking at the photo of you nursing jolene (the upclose shot of her face and smile through tears at that beautiful little face) We can’t thank you enough for sharing your birth with us. You rocked that birth lady! I for one am changed for life for getting the chance to be a part of this in a way. Thank you. Wishing you and your beautiful family the best in life.

  40. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    This is so awesome. I love what you said: “I am the luckiest person alive.” I hope my planned homebirth in September goes as smoothly. Thank you for sharing this with the world–it is SUCH an encouragement to the rest of us! Blessings on your family of 5! :o)

  41. VA:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
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    Huge Congratulations to you all! I can’t wait to see more baby pictures. From what I have seen, she’s got your eyes.

    I wondered about one thing with the clean up. How do they drain and clean the tub?

    oh, and did the text notifications go out? I didn’t receive one, so I’m so glad I checked your blog that morning!

    …and please post more pictures!

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      I’m not sure if everyone does the same thing, but my pool came with a disposable (but can be reused for other births if you want) liner. It came with an electric pump that will drain the water into a toilet or tub through a hose (and also fill it up through the hose; but different hoses for sanitary purposes). I think the water is usually strained before pumping it out (for any clumps or clots), and then afterwards the liner can be thrown away. But……despite having it set up for 3.5 weeks, I didn’t get to use it! My labor was *so* fast (under 3 hours) and I ended up in our tiny bathtub. :) Which was probably harder to clean, but still do-able.

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      The midwives brought a pump with them and they drained the tub that way. I barely even noticed it happening. We could have kept the tub, but we only paid $100 and since we live in an apartment, we knew we weren’t going to get around to cleaning it out or using it for anything else, so we just threw it away. I had pretty much planned on doing that all along. Many people buy tub liners and just dispose of the liner. We could have done that, but I didn’t want to pay an extra $25 for the liner when I planned on tossing the tub anyway.

      I did send out the text messages, but it sounds like a lot of people didn’t get them, so I’m guessing the service was wonky.

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    I am so very happy for you and your family!
    You did it. You pulled from with in your self, trusted your body and beautifully worked with your body to achieve this most awesome birth! I am so glad I was able to witness this on the live blogging event. (I want to thank you for that little nap cuz I would have missed it)
    I am sharing your story which you have shared with the world.
    It is already impacting thousands, if not millions of people! Your story is amazingly inspirational and powerful. I won’t be surprised if Ina May calls you herself!
    Thank you!
    StorkStories´s last blog post… Amazing Woman has an Amazing Home Water BirthMy Profile

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    Sarah – The Fashionable Housewife´s last blog post… Mens Jewellery – For The Man In Your LifeMy Profile

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    Congratulations! While I was attending a birth on Tuesday, my client and I were wondering if you were in labour and hoping that you would get your home birth. It was very exciting to log on and see that you were in labour. Congratulations again!
    alittlebitograce´s last blog post… WaitingMy Profile

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    Yay!! Congratulations mama! You did awesome and your baby girl is beautiful!
    Baby Making Mama´s last blog post… I dont know a ton about Green stuff butMy Profile

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    You rock, Gina! I had a feeling it would be perfect, whatever that meant for you. So happy for you. Welcome Jolene!

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    Thank you for letting us all be a part of this. It is amazing and a huge step for making home birth seem less of a crazy idea. The only thing that saddens me about your story is because of some arbitrary date, you could have lost this experience. It just shows how messed up maternity care is in general, when a date is the deciding factor rather than an individual based decision. Congratulations! She’s beautiful!

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    Congratulations! You got your long awaited HBAC! YAY! Your story was such an inspiration to me. I, too, had prodromal labor with my last baby, but got impatient. I ended up birthing in the hospital. But you’ve inspired me. If I have a third, I’ll definitely be rocking that shit at home. Word!
    Old School/New School Mom´s last blog post… Please Refrain From Flash PhotographyMy Profile

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    Also Jolene is beautiful! Nice work!!! You did it!
    Old School/New School Mom´s last blog post… Please Refrain From Flash PhotographyMy Profile

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    beautiful birth story, gina! congrats!!!
    Katrina´s last blog post… 10 months oldMy Profile

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    Gina, what a beautiful,beautiful birth story,thank you so much for sharing this most personal and treasured experience with us!

    Jolene is so adorable & she’s got thousands of fans here already:)
    geekbabe´s last blog post… Pretzel Crisps serves up respect to bloggers!My Profile

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    What a magical Birth Story! Congrats! I’m so happy that this was a dream come true for you! She’s amazingly beautiful!
    Kim Catcher´s last blog post… Growing UpMy Profile

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    How wonderful, I’m so excited for you!

    I had never heard that Hibiclens could cause I yeast infection, ugh! So glad I read this blog! I wouldsooo not want to make that mistake!

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    I’m absolutely thrilled for you, Gina. Congratulations!
    Dr Sarah´s last blog post… Breastfeeding for longer than a year – myths- facts- and what the research really showsMy Profile

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    SO so happy for you, Jolene, HH, and the rest of the fam. AMAZING!

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    So excited for you and your family. I appreciated the way you told included the doubt and fear in this post, as in “I can’t do this, I can do this,” and the messy stuff, the noise, grunting, swearing, so that others can be inspired to do the same in their homes. May your successful HBAC be a beacon to other mothers to have the courage to do the same. Congratulations. And has anyone mentioned that Jolene seems to look a lot like HH?

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    delurking myself! i was too scared to comment on any of your earlier posts bc i knew i would say something like “don’t stress yourself, she’ll come soon enough!” 😉 anyway, your birth was absolutely beautiful; i’m so glad i got to see. looking forward to many more posts! keep rockin’!!!

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    You were amazing! Your story reminded me so much of my own homebirth, with my first and only baby. I felt like I was reliving it, little piece at a time. You were so bold to let all of your fans come along for the ride… and perhaps inspired many more to embark on their very own homebirths. I am just so happy for you! Oh, and terribly proud of you too!

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    I’m so happy your dream came true, and I think *we* are so lucky that you shared so much with us! It was truly amazing to witness via the blog and to read your reflections just 2 days later is such a treat (it took me 18 months to write my birth story!). You deserve every blessing, enjoy enjoy enjoy. I also can’t wait to read more as you reflect on your various birth experiences– they were all SO different. Best wishes to your whole family!

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    Phenomenal! Congratulations and welcome to the world baby Jolene!
    Molly´s last blog post… Mother’s Day Giveaway- Moody Mamas Gift Certificate!My Profile

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    Congratulations, Gina and family! My 3-year-old daughter saw me reading this today and wanted to know who the cute baby was, so I shared some of your story with her. She and her baby brother were both born at home, and she is fascinated with birth and says that she wants to be a midwife someday :) After we finished reading, she said, “I like Gina. I’m so happy that her baby was born in the tub!” We were so glad to hear that your birth turned out perfectly. Rest up and enjoy the sweet new addition to your family!

  62. Susan (Plum Texan) | Profile
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    Congratulations to you and your family, and welcome to Jolene! What a beautiful story. I hope that it inspires more of us to create one of our own. You did it!

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    Congratulations!! She is just gorgeous! And I’m so excited that you got your home birth.
    Zoey @ Good Goog´s last blog post… Mothers DayMy Profile

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    Congratulations on your awesome birth – and you very kindly had your daughter on my beautiful son’s 22nd birthday. 22 years ago his birth was my triumph after a nightmare first birth – thanks to a WONDERFUL midwife- Carolyn Hastie. I trust that Jolene will bring you as much love and jo as Jordan has brought me xxxxxx

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    Congratulations! I am SO happy you got everything you’d been hoping for.

    I missed the birth because you had her on the ONE DAY I was on internet silence … but I read the stream afterwards and it was so lovely. All those people, around the world, encouraging you — so awesome.

    Oh, and Jolene is adorable. Duh.
    Sheila´s last blog post… VitaminsMy Profile

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    Congratulations! I’m so glad that you got the birth you wanted. And I’m so glad all the early labour paid off, even if it wasn’t much fun at the time.

    Welcome Jolene!
    Amber´s last blog post… Interview with Tamara ChampionMy Profile

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    Congratulations! And thanks so much for sharing it with us. You’ll never know what a gift it was for me. Enjoy that little one!

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    Congratulations! She’s lovely! Thanks for sharing…

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    Loud applause! I met a midwife yesterday – she was one of the moms of a little girl my daughter invited to her birthday party , and I totally gushed about your birth to her. Women around the globe are clapping for you Gina. You did so awesome and Jolene is just perfect! Congrats to you!
    Melodie´s last blog post… My Health Scare or Why I Had To Write A Post TodayMy Profile

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    CONGRATULATIONS!! What a beautiful homebirth story. Thank you for the inspiration!
    Crystal – Prenatal Coach´s last blog post… My Guilt-Free Holiday Treat- Raw Chocolate BrowniesMy Profile

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    I am just so thankful that you let all of us “be there” – I was thinking of you every day & sending good vibes your way while you waited.

    It’s such a beautiful story and I am loving the breastfeeding pics on Facebook as well.

    Jenny B´s last blog post… Affordable Natural Mattress solution- Japanese futonMy Profile

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    Amazing- I admit- I was alittle worried that the live blogging would distract you- but it was a great thing for people to see and you did beautifully! I appreciate you putting yourself out there for this- What a fantastic story. So happy for you-

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    LOVE your birth story (and your blog). I agree completely with the “no mess” home birth. We had our baby boy at 4:23am and at 8am it looked like nothing happened. Pool, hose, equipment gone. Towels washed and dried. Mom, dad, and baby tucked in bed with breakfast. Thanks to midwives and those who support midwives, healthCARE IS possible! Much love to you and your family.
    Mandy´s last blog post… Tales of Swingless NappingMy Profile

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    just an fyi- There were about 10 people in my math class (yes, you read that right) huddled around my phone watching your birth unfold. It was kinda cool to share that experience with teenagers :).


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    Congratulations again Gina! I woke up Thursday morning to see you in active labor on the liveblog and I was instantly hooked! Loved being able to hear the action and see the pics and vids. So informative to a nonparent (but hopefully one day!) like myself. Thank you so much for sharing such an intimate time with us. I’ve followed your blog and Twitter for some time now. I really enjoy your posts and your wit but this is the first time I’m actually commenting. Thank you again for always being an open book for all of your readers, especially us silent ones. :-) All the best to you and your family!

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    I still can’t view the videos of the birth, so I was waiting patiently for you to blog about your experience! It sounds like it was absolutely beautiful and I am so happy that you were able to achieve your goal. Congratulations again!!

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    I am so thrilled that things worked out the way they did. Jolene is a lucky little girl to have such a warrior mama like you. And you both look blissfully happy in all the pics……………….almost melts my icy heart, it really does. 😉

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    She is absolutely beautiful! Congratulations on a perfect experience and a precious, healthy baby girl!

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    Gina, I’m so happy you had such a wonderful birth experience. I know how you feel — my birth to L was much the same, but I had him in the hospital, 20 minutes after arriving there. I had the natural birth I wanted, even though they were not crazy about me showing up there so late. I knew what I was doing :)

    Enjoy Jolene — I can’t believe how much she weighed!

    All my best,
    Dagmar ~ Dagmar’s momsense´s last blog post… Win an iPad! Share What’s Your Biggest Challenge About Being FrugalMy Profile

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    Congrats Gina and family! I especially loved the pictures that you shared after the birth. Beautiful baby!

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    Hi! I guess this is as good a time as any to delurk! Congratulations on your successful HBAC and your beautiful baby girl! I’m glad to find that everything went amazingly well for you and your family!

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    Hah! I bet not many people have sex during labour, then make out when 9cm dilated, and THEN go on to take a nap! Sounds FABULOUS 😀 Where do I buy one?

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    Absolutely beautiful. I’m so glad you got the birth and baby girl you’ve been wanting. I know that your homebirth inspired so many women.
    Thank you for sharing so much of it with us!
    Darcel @ The Mahogany Way´s last blog post… Call For SponsorsMy Profile

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    What an amazing story. It was awesome to read someone else’s version of finally getting their birth. I love it.

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    I just had to drop a line and say how inspiring your home birth story was. I remember reading on Facebook how you were past your due date and how you were worried you might loose your “home birth window”. I’m currently in a similar situation, where I’m now past my due date, and have 13 days to produce a baby or I may (or may not) end up with a repeat c-section.

    Currently doing everything I can to try and get this baby moving, and I had to read what you did. If I have not given birth by tomorrow, I may ask hubby to see if we can rent a breast pump…

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      Don’t worry, Charlotte – 13 days is a LOT of time to produce a baby. Keep doing what you can to help the situation, but remember that stress inhibits oxytocin! Give yourself until at least 41 weeks before you pull out the big guns.

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      Charlotte, I also just went 10 days over with my HBAC baby (a girl!). I ended up taking castor oil to get things moving, and the baby was born less than 12 hours later. Might want to consider discussing that with you midwife as an option as you get closer to the line! My MW actually didn’t want me using a breastpump because, as a VBAC, she didn’t feel comfortable with me stimulating my uterus and possibly irritating the scar (which I did before asking her – oops!). she was fine with castor oil because it stimulates the intestines, which in turn can kick-start labor contractions. certainly pays to discuss it with your care provider! Best of luck!
      Lisa´s last blog post… My exercise demonsMy Profile

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    So I just found my way to the liveblog, including the videos… That last push and then “Oh my god, it’s my baby” made me bawl. THAT is what I wanted so badly 14 months ago, and through a series of unnecessary hospital interventions, was robbed of. Interventions breed interventions, and with hindsight being 20-20, I realize now that from the minute I accepted continuous monitoring and the staff telling me I couldn’t eat, to placing an IV ‘just in case we need it later’, the whole plan was doomed. We wound up breaking my water, having the epidural, stupid coached purple pushing until the epidural WORE OFF and then I pushed for 2 hours more, then stopping the contractions and going to C-section just as I first felt any actual URGE to push. The most frustrating thing I’ve ever felt was saying, wait, I need to push, can I push, and everyone facing away from me rushing around to get ready for surgery, the doctor saying over his shoulder, “You don’t have to push on this one, we’re stopping the contractions.” I told him I couldn’t NOT push, and he said it was okay to push, just “don’t put everything into it any more.”

    I knew what I wanted, I knew my body could do it, I knew what I was likely to be pressured into settling for, but I didn’t know how to stand up for myself and my ability to do what my body is made to do. I didn’t know how hard it would be to say “No, thank you” when a thousand and one ‘experts’ are standing around telling you the dire consequences if you don’t take the next step in their script. In the end I would up with a C-section that blessedly had no complications and healed quickly, and the totally inadequate phrase “your baby is healthy and that’s all that matters” ringing in my ears from every person to whom I voiced my frustration. My baby being healthy may matter MOST, but it’s not ALL that matters, dammit! I swear that phrase is expressly designed to make women feel guilty for wanting anything else out of their child’s birth, or for believing that we’re not broken, that birth is not a medical event, and that we can do this just fine with a little encouragement and faith from the people around us.

    I’m still crying, but I refuse to feel guilty any more for being upset by how my story went. You’ve inspired me to insist on THIS next time, partially by not walking through the doors of a hospital unless a midwife who’s as committed as I am to a natural birth tells me that’s the only avenue left.

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    Your homebirth was beautiful!! The craziest thing is that I also went through an extended (3 week!) labour with almost no pain and had an extremely rapid (3.5 hour) active labour and gave birth on April 23, 2011!! We were going through the same thing, at the same time, both with our third child.

    I’m so happy you were able to have a homebirth in the end, after everything you went through. I had a hospital birth with my older daughter, then was able to have a homebirth with my son and another with my daughter. After having the first homebirth, people thought I was crazy, but I tell everyone how amazing it was and I’d never do it any other way. We’re done having babies too, so there won’t be anymore homebirths, but I’m grateful for good health and the ability to birth a baby the way God intended!!

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    Awe, I did the same thing at my home birth: the double check to see if she was “still a girl.”

    Caught her myself, too, standing in a doorway, one foot on one midwife’s bended knee, between my husband and other midwife. Most amazing moment ever!


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    Wonderful video!

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    I’m 14 1/2 weeks and just cried at how beautiful your birth experience was! Thank you so much for sharing it so vividly! Hooray for doing what YOU felt was right and best for you and succeeding wonderfully :)

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