River Marcellina

By Jennifer Holshoe
March 28, 2020

River Marcellina Main was born at 12:09pm on February 9. She weighed 6lbs 6 oz and was 19 inches long.

Something in my heart has always whispered home-birth. Before I knew anything about what that even entailed, it just felt right in my bones. I followed that instinct, books I had read, along with all the knowledge I collected from my sister-in-law Jenn DeWaard over the years😘, and we chose to go with West Michigan Midwifery for the delivery of our first born.

I was woken up at 6:30 Saturday morning by crampy contractions. I had been feeling Braxton Hicks for many weeks, but these were different. I knew my body was preparing for labor. I continued about my day as planned and met my mom and sister for coffee. My husband, Johnny, made me promise not to go too far. I continued to time my contractions throughout the day. They were not incredibly consistent, so I was slightly in denial I would have our baby soon as I thought they could still taper off and I could continue to carry for a couple of weeks yet. They were averaging about every half hour for the majority of the day. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. When I got home we dozed off for a nap and woke to get dinner with some friends. As the evening went on, the contractions were starting to get closer. Johnny had seen me pulling out my phone to time them so he suggested we head home. They were about 10 minutes apart. When we got home, I hopped in the shower and laid in bed to see if they would slow down or if they were the real deal. They were the real deal. I came out at about 12:30/1am and told Johnny they weren’t slowing down and that I had some bloody show. I also updated Jenn around this time. She advised us to lay down and get as much rest as possible because it would be a long night, and to update her with any changes. They were about 5-6 minutes apart.

I labored through the night and got some rest between contractions, while switching sides every half hour or so. By 7am on Sunday they were 2minutes apart. I woke Johnny a little before that and he filled the pool. He got me some food, put lavender in the diffuser, and also turned on the office as he knew the lighthearted laughter would be appreciated. I updated Jenn and she was at our house within minutes. Anna arrived shortly after and I’m not sure when Jen arrived, but it was a little before I started pushing. I continued to switch my positions up every once in awhile as contractions increased in intensity.

All 3 women were a calming presence and provided me with encouragement I needed throughout my labor. They were so gentle, quiet, and allowed me space to labor as I pleased. They provided guidance as needed and periodically checked in on myself and the baby. They were settled in the other room, which allowed Johnny and I to share this experience mostly with each other. We loved this aspect of home-birth, and how intimate that was. Johnny supported me wonderfully through labor. Verbally coaching me, rubbing my forehead, holding my hands, smoochin my head, getting me drinks of water, and giving me his full presence and love.

Around 11:40am Jen poked her head in our bedroom and mentioned that they warmed up the pool water if I would like to get back in. I had felt my body pushing by this time. I’m not sure how close my contractions were at this point, but I do remember it was taking all of my mental strength to get through them. I just kept repeating in my head “I can do this” & “I am opening” while visualizing it happening. The thought of getting out of bed and moving to the pool was a lot to take in, which really motivated me to do it, as I realized that likely meant I was close. The moment I settled into the water I had another contraction and my water broke immediately, followed by my baby’s head being in my birth canal. That was the wildest feeling in the world. On my knees and leaning over the wall of the birthing pool, I pushed for the next 30minutes and we were able to meet our little babe at 12:09pm! Jenn pushed her through my legs for Johnny to scoop her out of the water. In the blink of an eye, our sweet baby was on my chest. She came out crying wonderfully with lots and lots to say. We were instantly in love.

Over the next couple hours we did lots of skin-to-skin, her first feed, got some food, newborn tests and measurements, a placenta tour from student midwife Anna, the midwives cleaned up our space, and we loved on our little River. After that, it was just the three of us. Another aspect of home-birth that we were grateful for. The stillness. We settled into our new emotions and excitements as a new family of three. And then napped real hard.

It was absolutely the most magical, wild, perfect, empowering, and beautiful experience I have ever had. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the birth of my dreams. It was much more incredible than I could have ever imagined.

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