I have always shared my children’s birth stories within a few weeks of their birth. I wanted to share the story with the world, share the beauty of new life, the wonder of childbirth and those intimate first moments. Emilio’s birth was different. Everything about it was different. It felt so different, so private and so intimate – this incredibly unique experience that I just didn’t even know if I wanted to share it with anyone else besides my little family because of the moving power that it holds for me personally.
Emilio is my fourth baby, but our first homebirth and attended by a midwife. I can only describe his birth as amazingly beautiful. I kept waiting for the time when I felt I would want to share his story with the world, and now, on the eve of his second birthday, I am ready.
So, here are my memories of that night, when our baby finally decided to come. We had had several episodes of prodromal labor, but on the evening of January 2, my contractions were so consistent and strong that we called our midwives to our home, we filled up our birth pool and thought our baby was coming….but that was not to be the day. We waited, and waited and waited some more. You see, our three other sons all came BEFORE their “guess date” and so as this little one’s date came and went, we all wondered when baby would finally come!!! It was not to be until nearly halfway into the first month of the new year, on the early morning hours of January 12, 2015.
I had been trying to relax and watch some TV, but the contractions kept coming that evening. I was timing them, but just as it had been 10 days prior, it felt like labor but I just wasn’t sure. I was going to wait. Wait until I knew. I still felt like maybe it was more of my body warming up as the evening progressed until I went to take a shower to see if things slowed down or sped up. I found it was getting hard to move and I wasn’t able to talk through my contractions quite as easily, but I was still determined to lay down and rest. But rest was not coming so easily, so at midnight I finally asked my pleading husband to call our midwives again – and hope this was really it. Mind you, my birth team was in Sanford, a good hour long drive from Melbourne. Well, within minutes of calling them, my water broke where I stood, on the side of the bed between our bed and the birth pool. I knew that this meant things were going to start moving much faster at this point. And then cue Luca, our 3 ½ year old waking up. Through my contractions I stayed as calm for him (and for Paul) and just started giving instructions. We called Jill, one of my best friends that lives close by to come sit with Luca and she arrived almost immediately. Paul called Rebecca, our midwife, back and let her know what just happened. I knew we may be catching a baby ourselves. I was calm and I felt safe. I wanted my midwives there, but I was at peace. Paul put Rebecca and her assistant midwife Rhonda on speakerphone and they began to talk us through what our choices were – to call 911 and transfer to the hospital – or to stay on the phone with them and be ready to possibly deliver this new baby without them. We stayed on the phone for a bit and they gave some instructions to Paul which I couldn’t really listen to in the moment.
I breathed, I focused, I knew that God’s hand was on us and that His will would be done. I was staying home. We hung up and I immediately told Paul to call a good friend and very experienced doula that lives in the neighborhood next door. I knew things were moving fast. There was a very good chance that Rebecca and Rhonda would not make it. After my phone call to my doula friend Terri went to voicemail, I texted her as well, that I needed her and quickly. Thankfully, she texted back that she was on the way. We called Nicole our photographer and she headed over as well. Everyone was enroute to support us, but for the moment it was just us.
Jill, Nicole, and Terri all arrived, but we were still waiting on our midwives. Terri was a rock – with so much experience helping laboring moms, I knew she could help me stay focused on my breathing and positions because I really wanted this little one to stay IN until Rebecca/Rhonda arrived. I climbed into the bed, on all fours, crouched holding my pillow to my chest as I willed baby to make progress but visualized him staying right where he was until the right movement. It was incredibly difficult. I felt each wave come and could feel the anxiety that I would feel the urge to push, but I kept willing it away, for just a few more moments so that I could feel the relief and comfort of the birth pool and of course of having my very experienced midwives there with us. Paul stood by me and kept me focused and although I knew he was scared, I knew if I stayed centered we would be just fine.
I heard the dog bark. I knew they had arrived. I flew off the bed and they knew there was no need for checking my progress. I asked if I could get into the pool and they agreed. I continued on all fours breathing and could feel baby’s head. Rhonda was right there next to me, focused and she asked me to change my position a bit, she needed to get in and help baby rotate a bit because despite my pushing he was just not coming as quickly as they wanted. For a split second, I felt unsure, but the adrenaline immediately overrode that feeling and I trusted Rhonda’s capabilities implicitly. Baby’s shoulders were stuck, he needed to be turned so that he could come. With a few quick maneuvers, all while I was still in the pool, and just two more long pushes baby was born. In the water. At home. Into my arms, with Paul right behind me. From the moment Rebecca and Rhonda let themselves in the front door, until my newest son, Emilio was in my arms, only 7 minutes had passed.
After marveling that we had just had a fourth BOY, the placenta birthed easily and Emilio stayed attached to the umbilical cord. Paul called the boys in to meet their new brother – Luca and Sebastian were so excited and since it was 1:30 in the morning, Matteo didn’t want to get up right away to meet him. So funny!
After the birth, the next few hours were dreamlike for me. I felt so well. I had never felt so well following a delivery before – there had always been a slight (or not so slight!) complication. But within the midwifery model of care, every single concern and potential complication was addressed and proactively handled before the birth. So all those issues that had happened during my previous three hospital births were non-issues. My little family was all there with me and only Paul and I had held our new son for the first hour after his birth. It was peaceful and quiet and intimate. They were OUR moments to meet this new little life that we had been entrusted with here on earth.
The team did the newborn exam and Emilio was a shocking 10 pounds. Such a big baby! The kids watched and learned and heard why they were checking everything they were checking out and we all marveled at his huge/tiny fingers and toes. I was even able to rest until the morning. The team cleaned up the birth pool and the bedroom, did our laundry, and there was no trace of all that had happened in our home just hours earlier. For those short hours, it was just the six of us, in our home, in a bubble of new love. I was exhausted, Emilio was snuggly, the three new older brothers were too excited to go back to sleep, and I can only imagine that Paul started pounding the coffee. As the morning came, the house began to fill with loving grandparents and a few closest friends to say hello to our new little guy. Today he continues to fill our home with joy and we are so blessed and thankful for Emilio.
Thank you to my amazing husband Paul for being on this journey with me and being an incredible husband and father, to our midwifery family at Tree of Life in Sanford, Nicole Cangiano our photographer, Terry Myers our doula and our family and friends that were on call as we all awaited our baby’s arrival!
Happy 2nd birthday, my sweet and precious boy! I love you!
Below are some of our favorite photos from both his unbirthday (the day we thought he was on his way!) and his actual birth.