Dannielle is the very first person I met here in Missouri, and she helped me tremendously through my birth (filming, photographing, and coaching). It was so awesome to return the favor at her 4th birth, an educated, unassisted home birth of their first girl after three boys. I'll let her tell the story <3
Scroll past video for birth story and photos!
The Planned, Educated and Unassisted Free Birth of Eloise Quinn.
From the start of this pregnancy Matthew and I knew we were planning an Unassisted Pregnancy and Unassisted Birth. Why? Because it's what felt right for us, and that's the only answer anyone really needs for that.
Around 36 weeks I started having prodromal labor. I had never experienced this before with my other three pregnancies and was so freaking confused every time it happened. I kept thinking she was on her way almost every time! It was so exhausting. There were three different times I almost called my husband and birth photographer to come to the house only for the contractions to fizzle out yet again. Talk about mentally exhausting.
At 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant I was having more prodromal labor, this time though it felt different. Before when I would get these contractions they would stop once I got up and walked around but this time they were happening even while standing. They still were not consistent at all though and kept fizzling out and then starting again later. Again, exhausting. I went about the rest of the day doing normal stuff with the kids and house, every now and then stopping to try and play into a contraction to help it maybe pick up. While making dinner that night I had to stop and grab the counter a few times to sway during a contraction and I remember Matthew saying, "oh yeah, tonight is the night!". I rolled my eyes though and told him probably not, it would probably all just stop yet again and I'd be pregnant another week. At 7pm I texted Candice (birth photographer) and told her I was having contractions even while standing but that I had no idea when to tell her to come because they would probably just die back out. About 8pm she texted to ask what was going on, I told her I didn't know and it was probably nothing, yet again!
We went to bed that night and things had pretty much stopped at that point. Yet again, I was mentally exhausted and confused and just wanted to give up. Why was my body doing this?? With the boys I just went into labor and that was that, I was in labor, knew I was in labor and I had a baby. Simple! Why was she giving me such a hard time?! Before I fell asleep I told myself, "If it's going to happen tonight it'll all start at 3am just like it did with each of the boys, come on 3am!"
Well, guess what? 3am hit and I woke up to more contractions. I decided to just lay there though at this point because maybe it was just more prodromal labor since it always liked to start up in the middle of the night and fizzle out by morning. Around 330 though I was getting antsy and they were seeming to be a little closer together, so I decided to get up. I went out to the living room and walked around, sat and swayed on the birthing ball, walked around a little more, leaned over the couch, squatted, swayed, lifted my stomach up during each contraction...basically I was doing everything I could to play into these contractions and get them to pick up! They were pretty intense by this point and had me leaning onto the couch to breathe through them but of course, I still was not convinced, I mean how could I be with all the damn contractions I had over the last 4 weeks?! Around 4am I decided to lay down on the couch and go to sleep, if they woke me up and kept happening even while laying down then there was a good chance they were probably going to stick around now. I turned on one of my hypnobabies tracks and fell asleep but woke up 3 times to contractions that I had to breathe through but fell asleep again after each one. When the fourth one hit I woke up and had to flip over to my hands and knees and rock through it. I think I did this for maybe 45min or so laying down, getting up on my hands knees on the couch, laying back down, getting up on my hands and knees on the couch...over and over. I must have started getting vocal because Matthew woke up and called out from the bedroom "babe? Is it time?". To which I replied "I don't know". Seriously, I was still over here in denial that this shit was for real. He came out as I was on my hands and knees swaying through another one and said "yeah, I'll start setting up, did you call Candice?" I told him no because I didn't want to let her know too early because what if this wasn't it?! It was about 450ish now and he cleaned up the house, got dressed and pulled out the birth pool and started getting it all together. At 502am I called Candice to let her know she should probably get up and head this way when she could.
After I called Candice I did the most important step of our labor prep, I logged onto the computer we had set up in the living room, logged onto Facebook, went into my secret group and hit "go live" and there they were right with me all day long. My awesome support system of women from all over the country tuning in to encourage, support and watch me bring our daughter and last baby into the world that day. The few women I had picked to be apart of this day knew our plans for an Unassisted birth and I trusted them whole heartily to be supportive, uplifting, unafraid and loving during our labor and delivery.
I labored over the birthing ball while Matthew finished getting everything up and started filling the pool. Candice walked in somewhere around 6am and things had already picked up a bit more and becoming more intense. I told her I was so glad it was day time because we both had been worried about a night time birth for lighting, haha life of photographers.
The kids were still asleep and I continued to labor over the birthing ball, becoming more vocal and needing matthew to apply pressure to my back during each contraction. It was so peaceful though, I had Bob Marley playing, the sun was shining through the window and I was chatting with Matthew, Candice, and even the friends watching Live, during each break from contractions.
Things started getting more intense and Matthew asked if I was ready to get in the pool, but I told him I wasn't sure because I didn't want the water to stall anything. Yes, I was STILL worried about everything stopping! So I labored a little longer over the ball, becoming more and more vocal. Candice reassured me this was definitely it and nothing was stopping these now, so I decided to go ahead and get in the pool. Oh, sweet relief, the hot water felt so good on my back and stomach. But woah, it definitely did NOT stall anything, it made everything pick up, and become way more intense. I think it was around 8am now because we commented on how the kids were STILL sleeping and how crazy that was for them. I think they finally woke up around 830am and Matthew got them dressed and fed. They went back and forth between hanging out with me and playing outside. I was so glad again that it was day time so that they could all be awake for it, especially Emmerich (our 4 year old) as he had been waiting for this day for awhile now.
915am the live feed cut itself off and had to be restarted. When I go back and watch the second live feed I can tell by just watching me at the start of it that this was it, this was the last 59 minutes that I would be pregnant. During this time I was reminding myself through each contraction to "stay low" with my sounds because I knew that's what brings baby down and out. I was also making myself push up onto my feet and squat through these contractions because I could feel her trying to drop but needing some help. Squatting definitely helped as I could feel aaallllll the pressure now with each contraction. There were a few times that I started crying between contractions and telling Matthew I couldn't do it anymore, I was too tired and I just couldn't do it anymore. -Matthew is my calm during any storm. He's seen and done a lot of things and has this ability to stay completely calm and just do what's needed in a stressful situation without letting anything phase him. I had asked him the night before to "do that thing he does" when I get too worked up and panic if I started to get that way during labor. Which is to just reassure me and tell me to stay calm because everything will be fine.- So he did just that, he grabbed me and pulled me into him and kept telling me over and over in my ear that I was fine, to breathe, relax and everything was going to be okay, that I was doing this and doing great, that she would be here soon. After my break down I decided to check myself, which was around 930am and finally, there she was I could feel her head! So much pressure now with every contraction and I was loud and roaring my way through them. Kaysn was outside playing and Emmerich and Sawyer were both back and forth from outside and standing next to Matthew as I labored. At one point I was holding Sawyers hand through a contraction and I remember thinking to myself "I can't believe he's standing here holding my hand through this!" It was really the best.
At 10:10am as I roared through another contraction I felt a giant pop and looked down to see my waters had broken! I kept saying "okay okay, this is it, okay okay, this is it, things are about to get really intense now, this is it." And boy was I right! These next 7 minutes were all pressure! At 10:15am I felt an insane amount of pressure and need to push, I yelled at her to "come out!" and at 10:16am I leaned up, hiked up one leg into a semi squat and her head was out. Matthew said "there she is there she is, now just get her shoulders out and you're done!" but all I heard and thought he said for some reason was "pull her out" hahaha so I yelled at him "no no we have to wait until the next contraction!" so I sat there a few seconds shushing myself and touching her head, she had come out sunny side up and the next thing I felt was her turning! The weirdest feeling ever! I said "oh god she's turning she's turning!" and then one more contraction and yelling and her shoulders were out, I let out a high pitch scream and then her body flew out and into my hands, I grabbed her and pulled her up out of the water and onto my chest at 10:17am! I leaned over and told Matthew to unwrap her cord from her neck, laid her back on my chest as she let out a giant cry and then without hesitation I immediately lifted her legs and cried "oh god she's a girl! She's really a girl! It's a girl!". Then I just sat there and cried and cried and cried over the fact that she was really a girl. I looked down at her after that and noticed she had vernix all over her! My babies have never come out with vernix on them at all! I was so excited I kept yelling about all the cheese on her and now any time Emmerich sees anything on her at all he says "she has some cheese on her" haha because he was standing right there as I was going on and on about it.
So there she was, sweet Eloise was here and my boys were standing there with me already in love with her, already asking me to get out of the pool so they could dress her and hold her and already asking about making her a birthday cake (which they got to do later that night). No ones hands were flying over me and swooping in to touch her, suction her, mess with her or mess with me. No one was telling me what to do, no one was fussing about what needed to happen next. It was just us, sitting there as a family soaking up our new tiny baby.
I am so glad I made a small private group to go live in, Candice read me comments from everyone as I labored and it helped so much to hear all of their encouraging words. I am also 100% glad we went Unassisted and have no regrets at all. My homebirth with Sawyer was amazing and I had an amazing midwife, but after birthing Unassisted I would do it this way 100x over again. I would have done it this way every single time if I knew back then what I know now.
Don't be scared for me, or anyone else that chooses to birth Unassisted, there's no right or wrong way to give birth and there's no need to fear the way we chose to give birth just because it isn't for you or the way you would feel comfortable giving birth. This is the way we felt most comfortable bringing our daughter into the world and I'm forever grateful that everyone has the opportunity to birth wherever and however they want to so that we could have this experience. After sitting there for a minute I told Matthew "we did it, we really did it!" and he said to me "no, you did it. You did it."
I sure as hell did! I rocked that shit. 😉