birth :: luke henry

Mark and Janelle and their kiddos have showed up on this blog before (here and here). They're really dear to me and my family. When they reached out to ask me to be present at their home birth this summer, there was no possible answer besides YES! 

One of Janelle's main priorities for this birth was having a supportive team that would offer continuous care, and finding a midwife team they trusted emboldened them to go the home birth route. They shared with me that having me present as well, not only as a storyteller, but also an experienced homebirth mama who carries peace and confidence about the process, made a difference for their feeling of well-being in this process. 

We all thought the labor would be FAST and probably pretty easy since her last birth was both of those things, and because Mark is a chiropractor who gave her regular webster technique care to optimize her body's alignment for birth. As it turned out, it wasn't that speedy, and the process was harder and more painful than her last birth. Though that felt frustrating and surprising to Janelle, the entire time she was surrounded with patient and fearless supporters who were able to convey to her through words and actions that she was still perfectly okay. Mark and Janelle spent most of the transition contraction with eyes locked as Mark spoke truth and encouragement over her about her body's abilities to birth her baby. I was reminded of how powerful well-timed and empowering words are to a woman in labor; what she hears can sometimes make or break her birthing process! 

Another amazingly sweet element at this birth was the presence of their eldest child, their daughter, who was like a miniature doula. She came and went out of the birth space, but whenever she was near her mama she was all gentle touches, kisses, and snuggles. She was a beautiful source of comfort for Janelle.

Finally, after about six hours, baby's head emerged, followed quite quickly by the body. His head had been positioned in military position, which means the widest diameter of the head is presenting, and that obviously makes the pushing stage longer and harder! The joy and relief on their faces -- and especially Mark's, who was sitting behind Janelle, supporting her while also watching his baby emerge -- are so sweet in the photos that follow. Gender had been a surprise, but Janelle was pleased to discover that her intution -- that it was a boy -- was correct. 

Soon they were tucked into bed to snuggle, initiate breast-feeding, and come back to earth. After over and hour of that, Luke received his newborn exam, mostly while remaining in his mama's arms, and was weighed and measured, then received his first adjustment from his daddy. 

It's always hard to leave the sacred afterglow of such a beautiful birth, but I was glad to see them so happily on the other side of their sweet home birth experience!