Hey mamas! Welcome to the sixteenth post in my Honest Birth series! I’m excited to share another real mama’s birth story, because I think it’s so important to share our childbirth experiences with each other. My goal with this series is to provide a place for women to share their birth stories without holding anything back, as well as compile stories for pregnant mamas to read in preparation for their own childbirth experiences. Every mama is different and every birth is different, and I believe that when we share our stories we help each other.
Today I am featuring a friend of a friend named Kelsey! Kelsey and her husband Bennett live in Draper, Utah with their two girls and little dog. Her family loves going hiking and golfing, and traveling! After a difficult first birth at the hospital, Kelsey decided to have her second baby at home! Kelsey told me that she never thought she would be a person that would have a baby at home, or that her husband would ever be on board with it! She said “we learned so much throughout my pregnancy and are so glad we were able to have this experience!” Today Kelsey is sharing the home birth of her second daughter, Saylor. It’s the second home birth of the series, and I loved getting to read it!
Ready to read all about her daughter’s home birth story? Here we go!
The Birth Story of Saylor Grace Sorensen
My first birthing experience was medically induced (for no reason other than my OB asking if I wanted to meet my baby and me saying “Yes!”) 3 days after my due date. I started Pitocin, then got an epidural once I was dilated to a 7. I pushed for nearly 3 hours, and my doctor told me that if I couldn’t get her out in the next couple contractions, he was going to have to help me with either forceps or a vacuum. I got an episiotomy, and she finally came out, limp and blue. My heart broke. She was rushed to the NICU, and had to stay there for 7 days because of an infection that they believe resulted from being in the birth canal for so long.
I was so happy to have my sweet girl and was totally smitten, but I left her birth feeling completely broken physically and mentally. Breastfeeding was a huge struggle (I had no clue how hard it usually is in the beginning), I had postpartum depression (I didn’t realize how common this is with new moms as well), and I decided that when we had another baby, I would prepare myself to hopefully have things work out completely differently. I look back on her birth and just wish that I would have armed myself with more knowledge, but it was a huge learning experience for my next birth journey.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant the second time, I immediately started reading as much as I could about unmedicated
birth and signed up to take a Curtis Method Hypnobirthing Class that a friend had recommended. My husband and I absolutely loved this class and we both learned so much. Whether someone is planning an unmedicated birth or not, I would highly recommend this class! I read tons of books and listened to a bunch of birth podcasts and watched lots of birthing videos to surround myself with positive birthing information. I was originally seeing an OBGYN at the hospital closest to my house that I really liked, but was really leaning towards giving birth at a birthing center. At 36 weeks, I met with a midwife that I loved and we decided to switch providers and ultimately decided we wanted to birth at home. I’m so glad we did.
At 3:50am on my due date, October 29th, I was woken up by my first contraction that felt like more than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing for the past couple months. I went to the bathroom and I saw that my mucus plug had come out. I was excited, but knew that it could still be days before anything really happened. Plus, I had mentally prepared to go a couple weeks past that date, just in case. I went back to bed and tried to rest, but waves kept coming and I wasn’t able to sleep. I started timing them, and they were about 3 minutes apart, but nothing too intense at all. I got up, did the dishes and straightened up my house, had some granola, and tried to rest again without success. I decided to get up and take a warm shower. My husband, Bennett, heard me getting up and down and asked if he should get up too. I told him to rest and that I would let him know when I needed him.
It was nice to be the only one awake and to have some quiet, peaceful time to talk to my baby girl and let her know that it was okay to come today if she was ready. After a couple hours of consistent waves, I texted my mom and my midwife to give them a heads up on what was going on. I told them that I would keep them updated, and tried again to rest, but had the hardest time lying down. I felt like I needed to move. My daughter, Scarlett, woke up around 8:00am, and as soon as she walked into my room I began to cry because I knew that it could be the last morning that it was just the two of us, and the change made me incredibly emotional. A beautiful chapter was ending for us, and even though I was so excited for what was to come, I couldn’t help but mourn the loss of our lives as they were. The emotions of adding a sibling to the family caught me by surprise. I felt excited, scared, happy, and guilty all simultaneously.
We decided to go for a family walk to see if things would pick back up or not. It felt so good to be outside. We walked around the neighborhood, and I would stop every once in a while to breathe with my contractions. My mom got to my house shortly after we got back and it was so nice to have her with me to just hang out. Things were still fairly slow so I started to meditate to my hypnobirthing tracks and tried to stay as relaxed as possible. I hung out in my closet throughout my pregnancy to meditate quite often and I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up giving birth in there instead of the birthing pool.
Around 3:00pm, things started to pick back up again, and this time my waves were about 5 minutes apart, but were much stronger than what I had felt earlier in the day. Bennett started counter pressure on my back with every wave and it felt great. My mother-in-law came to pick up Scarlett and I got really emotional again when she left. They were planning to come back once I got closer, which was perfect because I was starting to have to really focus on my breathing. I updated my midwife again and my photographer that we were getting closer. I was having the hardest time deciding when to have them come, because in between waves I felt so, so relaxed (that sweet oxytocin) that it made me feel like I wasn’t really in labor. I had a contraction while I was on the phone with my midwife, Melissa, and she timed it with me. We decided to have her head over. When she arrived, she checked me and I was 100% effaced, but only 3cm dilated. I had learned in my birthing class not to get caught up on dilation, so I wasn’t too concerned. She told me that I was at a point where I could potentially slow things down so I could rest up if I wanted to, and that it might be good to try to do so since it could be a long night ahead. I tried a warm bath and lying down again, but I hated the feeling of being on my back, and I wasn’t comfortable in my bathtub. Waves were coming faster and were more and more intense. I started having to hum with every wave to keep focused on relaxing my jaw and not fighting what my body was trying to do. I would lean over my birth ball and there was always someone there to do counter pressure on my lower back, which made a huge difference. After a while, Melissa offered to fill the birth tub so I could labor in the water. It felt amazing in the birth pool, and helped ease the pressure. She ran warm waterover my back while I leaned over the side of the pool, and it felt like heaven. Time fell away from me as I labored in the water. I would nearly fall asleep between waves, and I felt so calm and peaceful. My positive birth affirmations played in the background, the lighting was dim with candles around me, and I had pictures of more affirmations hanging on the wall near me. One of my favorites was, “Every wave brings me closer to meeting my baby.” That was totally my mindset, and as my waves got stronger I would think that I was just that much closer. As my contractions got more intense my humming turned into seriously loud and low “Ohhhhhh” sounds that felt so instinctual that I couldn’t have stopped ifI wanted to. I visualized my body opening and kept repeating to myself to “Let go.”
Scarlett got back around 8:00pm, and when she walked in the room I was so happy to see her. She was scared of my birthing sounds and would cover her ears during my waves. It made me laugh, but I quickly got sucked back into my labor land and was so focused on breathing and relaxing my hands and my face. I asked for a cold washcloth to put on my head and Melissa commented on how that usually means it’s baby time! I could feel Saylor moving down into my pelvis and the pressure was insanely intense. Bennett kept telling me how great I was doing and I held onto him through the most extreme sensations I had ever felt. At one point, I wanted a break so badly and was so exhausted I didn’t know how I was going to go on. Then I started to feel the urge to bear down and a sudden rush of adrenaline kicked in. I reached down and could feel her head partially out, still in caul. When I felt her I shouted “Oh my gosh I am so close, I can do this! I like pretty much did it, but not yet!” We all laughed and I had another huge wave come. I got a big rush and was so excited to push. I loved being able to feel what my body needed to do and just letting it happen, letting go, and being completely lost in the moment. I turned over from my hands and knees so Bennett could catch the baby. She had other plans, because her cord was wrapped around her neck and she needed some help getting out. My midwives acted so quickly and I never felt scared. The biggest release when she came out was followed by pure bliss. She was having some issues clearing out fluids, but it was taken care of while she was still in my arms and still attached to her placenta. Bennett got to cut the cord when it was time, and Saylor never left my sight. We got out of the tub and got to climb into bed while they weighed and measured her. Saylor latched on right away, and nursed for 45 minutes straight. It was amazing to see how alert she was. My husband and I were in awe at all the special moments we experienced that we didn’t get to have with our first daughter. Just hearing Saylor cry made me the happiest mama. I felt like I was on a birthing high for a solid week after she was born.
This was the birth that I had dreamed of. I have never felt more empowered or more loved than in these moments surrounded by an amazing birth team, my wonderful husband, our mothers, my daughter and my puppy. I feel so blessed to have been able to have this beautiful and healing experience. Scarlett still likes to tell random strangers how her sister came out in a “birving tub.”
Wasn’t that beautiful? I loved that her first daughter was there for birth, and how Kelsey called her contractions “waves!” Kelsey’s story also is a good reminder that it’s never too late to switch providers, even from an OB to a midwife! And aren’t those top two pictures just perfect!? Thanks so much to Kelsey for sharing her story on the Honest Birth series! You can leave a comment here if or follow her on Instagram if you want to get in touch with her! And don’t forget to check back again next month because I’ll have another Honest Birth post going up!