I prayed some very specific prayers for the home birth of my first child. The Lord answered every single one of them but in a totally different way than I had imagined. You know, as He tends to do. There were supernatural, pain-free moments with some grand finale excitement including a firetruck showing up to our house moments after our son was born on Christmas day. The following recounts my supernatural home birth story of my baby boy, Sheppard Stone.
Christmas Eve 2018
It was three days past my “due date” and I was starting to feel a little disappointed that my baby wouldn’t be here by Christmas. With a due date of December 21st, I had already heard all of the comments about how terrible it was going to be for my child to have a birthday close to Christmas. I didn’t care about any of that, nor did I believe it. I just thought it would be nice to spend Christmas day snuggled up with a newborn babe. Sharing a birthday with the King of Creation (Yes, I know Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25th)– it doesn’t get any dreamier than that.
All day I hadn’t experienced any pain or had any signs that labor was near. Since it was Christmas Eve, we spent the day visiting with our families before ending the night in bed watching Christmas classics.
1:30 AM Christmas Day
I woke up in the middle of the night (just like any other night lately) to pee, this time around 1:30 am. I laid back down and as soon as I did, I felt warm water trickling between my legs. I shot up thinking that I had just wet myself but was so confused because I had literally just gone to the bathroom. I went to sit on the toilet and water just continued dribbling out.
Still not totally awake, I sat there for about 20 minutes debating on if my water had just broken or not. I had learned in my birth class and other research that having your water break is typically nothing like the gushing we often see in movies, yet it’s so wild that we’re conditioned to believe that it happens so dramatically (discussion for a later time).
I knew my midwife had said to not call her if we woke up in the middle of the night in early labor so it wouldn’t interrupt her sleep. But I couldn’t remember if she said to call her if my water breaks. I was still half asleep but also could feel my adrenaline rising at the excitement that this was actually happening!!
I woke Matt up and we decided to go ahead and call our midwife. She asked me a few questions and then told me she was going back to sleep and that I should do the same. My mind was saying, “Go back to sleep? My baby is coming!” But I knew that we all needed to get some rest to preserve our energy for what was to come. Matt fell back asleep literally in seconds. Meanwhile, my thoughts were racing. I didn’t have any anxiety, I was just listing off in my head everything that we needed to do! It was the middle of the night though and I knew I still needed to get some rest.
I wasn’t feeling any pain but for some reason laying on the floor next to our bed sounded comfortable. So, I put on my headphones and listened to my birth playlist that I had created. I dozed off and on for a few hours but never fully fell back asleep because of the adrenaline that my body had built up in excitement. I lightly dozed for a few hours just allowing the worship music to relax my mind and my body.
While in and out of sleep, I had been timing my contractions and for a while they seemed to be falling into a regular pattern. I woke Matt up, we prepped our bed and called my midwife again. She let us know she would be heading over soon. Matt made some phone calls to family and friends to let them know that we wouldn’t be making it to anyone’s house for Christmas!
Atmosphere is EVERYTHING
Being able to control the atmosphere was a huge reason why I was drawn to having a home birth. I didn’t want any negativity, doubt or anxiety in our home as we brought in our first child. Matt and I had prayed about who we wanted to be there while I labored and for birth. We felt the Lord prompting us to ask our pastor’s wife, a friend from church and Matt’s mom. Our midwife and her assistant would be there of course, too. I wanted our house to be saturated in prayer with worship music on repeat and peace infiltrating every corner. Labor and delivery can be chaotic and fearful but that was never what God intended. We have the power of life in death in our tongues, we just have to step into that authority and command it to come forth. I didn’t want anyone around who didn’t align with their beliefs with that truth.
As everyone began to show up at our house, I was just walking around our upstairs back and forth between our bedroom and the nursery. I could feel things intensifying to the point where I would have to stop and bend over each time a contraction came. I had read this beautiful excerpt from The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth saying that during her labor she envisioned being in the ocean staring at Jesus’ face imagining that every contraction was a wave and she just let it crash over her. I loved that image so much. I tried to keep that visual in the forefront of my mind allowing His presence to wash over me and bring me comfort.
My contractions were remaining somewhat consistent but still spaced out. But they were definitely intensifying. I reminded myself to keep moving around trying to find what was most comfortable for my body. I went from laying on the bed, to bouncing on the stability ball to taking showers.
I ended up on my knees with my upper body draped over the ball for quite some time. With each contraction, Matt applied counter pressure to my back and hips. This eased up the intensity SO much. At one point he had to go to the bathroom and I was rushing him to come back because it made such a difference with him doing that.
After a while on the ball and a few showers later, my midwife suggested that we fill up the tub to give my husband a little break and see if that eased the pressure in a different way.
Once I slipped into the tub, I immediately felt better. Something about being immersed in the water brought a sense of calm and comfort. As I relaxed in there a while and even fell asleep at one point, contractions began to pick up intensity even more. Throughout each one, literally the only thing I could get out of my mouth was “Jesus”. I called out his name over and over again.
I wasn’t expecting it but my dad came upstairs and sat in the room with us for a bit. He brought me a banana and told me to let me know if I needed him. I still don’t know what was going through his mind but it touched my heart that he was there. I had taped bible verses, affirmations, notes from my mom and photos of her with our sonogram on the wall behind the tub. I remember looking up at my dad while he was in the room and telling him, “mama’s here”.
The contractions were definitely getting stronger but they had seemed to level out for a bit. . In the background, Matt’s mom and our pastor’s wife had been chatting all morning about their own births, Christmas, what they had for dinner…really anything. My patience levels are usually really high but I was just craving serenity and concentration. I had hardly been able to hear my birth playlist in the background.
Our midwife sensed this so she said she was going to leave Matt and I alone for an hour or so to try to relax a little and made everyone else leave the room too. Finally, we were able to sit in peace, soak in worship and spend an intimate hour to ourselves. Matt sat behind me in the tub rubbing my shoulders and stroking my hair making sure that I was comfortable.
After a while, my midwife came back up to check on me, while the rest of the crew followed closely behind her. Things were still intense but steady. At one point, I was totally naked in the tub and my dad came back into the room to see how I was doing. Initially my instinct was to cover myself up.
Being naked in front of my dad as an adult woman in the height of labor sounds extremely uncomfortable. Even reliving it in my mind now, I cringe. But, it was so strange because I felt calm and unashamed being exposed like that in front of him. In the best way that I can explain, I felt as though he wasn’t seeing any of my body, he was just seeing his little girl and wanting to protect her. He kissed my head and let me know that he was there if I needed him and left the room.
For the next few hours, I continued to rotate between sitting in the tub, taking a warm shower and laying over the stability ball.
My midwife was wanting me to try a few different positions to see if it would help progress things at all. She suggested getting out of the tub because it may have been hindering my ability to progress. She mentioned having a birth stool in her car that she ran out to get for me to try.
I had no clue what a birth stool even looked like but she guided me through setting myself up on it. I had Matt behind me and Juliet in front of me. Most of the time I was leaned over holding onto Juliet. It wasn’t the most comfortable thing but I think being in a different position helped. I stayed there for a bit before she then suggested that I lay down in the bed on my back. I lasted ONE contraction in that position. It was the most pain I had been in all day lying down like that. I can’t imagine if I was in a hospital bed having to stay like that for most of my laboring.
This is about the time where things started to get really interesting. The “intense” contractions I had felt before were nothing to the ones I was experiencing now. I was so exhausted from running on essentially 2-3 hours of sleep. The stability ball was starting to look comfortable so we set it on top of the bed. I got down on my knees draping the top half of my body over the ball.
My midwife discerned that I might be experiencing what is called a cervical lip. She asked if I wanted to have my cervix checked. I hadn’t the entire labor and at this point I thought it could be a good idea to see if anything was going on down there. I was 9.5cm dilated but she confirmed that the last bit of my cervix was getting caught between my pelvis and the baby’s head. If this sounds like the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard to you, it’s worse.
BUT, my midwife is amazing. She told me to let her know when each contraction was coming on and she gently applied pressure allowing the lip to “lift.” This helped SO much while at the same time, my midwife allowed my body to continue doing what it needed to do.
Another woman from church that I had asked to be there showed up. She was conflicted when Matt called her and let her know I was in labor because she had plans for Christmas day. Our pastor’s wife told her to enjoy the day with her family and to just come over when she could. The Lord knew she would get to me in perfect timing. As she walked into the room I remember her just looking at me with tears rolling down her face telling me how beautiful I was.
The ladies in the room were getting excited. My mother in law kept saying our baby would be here any minute though my midwife quietly reminded me that I still had a ways to go and to keep focused. I was so thankful for her quiet assurance and encouragement allowing me to keep my focus.
Downstairs, my house was filling up with visitors. The husband’s of all the women there were hanging out downstairs in our living room and my brother and his wife had walked over from their house across the street. I hadn’t anticipated so many people to be at our house and hearing my groans! But, I had no strength to even be embarrassed about it.
I was still on all fours draped over the birth ball on top of my bed. Matt had been sitting behind me watching the progress. They were finally starting to see our baby’s head and it was full of dark hair! Our midwife let Matt touch his head and his excited reaction to it gave me a boost of energy to keep going. On the next contraction, my midwife guided my hand to feel his head. When my fingers felt his velvety hair on his tiny little head, my mama heart melted. I shifted into a new level of focus tapping into my last bit of strength I had left and allowing my body to do what it needed to do.
For the last hour I had thought that with each contraction and push that my baby would be out. I was drained. But all of a sudden with one mighty push, his head was out! My midwife quickly told me that I needed to push again with my next contraction. I didn’t know it at the time but there was quite a bit of blood gushing around his next. When I felt the next wave of a contraction coming on, I mustered up all of my energy that I had left in me and pushed the rest of his little body out.
My mother in law screamed “It’s a boy!” I had wanted my husband to be the one to announce it but I was so caught up that I had a son! My midwife slid him in between my legs so that I could see his face. I didn’t see anything else that was going on around me, just my tiny little son in front of me. My midwife guided me to sit back against my pillows so as to not interfere with the umbilical cord.
All of a sudden she yelled, “somebody call 911!” The atmosphere in the room instantly shifted. All I heard in that moment was Matt who cried out “What? Why?!” followed by Matt’s mom standing at the end of the bed screaming, “I knew it!” All I know is that I had a holy anger instantly rise up in me and immediately looked her in the eye and yelled, “NO!” I don’t care what was going on I was not going to have fear creep in. I knew my God was protecting me.
I had my newborn baby on my chest and looked down and saw my midwife elbow deep inside of me. Her assistant was sitting at the edge of the bed just watching me (I later found out she was monitoring me for any signs of shock). The woman from our church who had arrived in the evening came to my side and so calmly said to me, “Shelbi. I need to look at me. Stay focused on my face. Things are about to get really chaotic. But you are just fine. You are a child of the most high God and He is with you right now. You are of a different kingdom than this world and nothing can hinder that.”
Her words and her guidance to focus on the Lord and nothing else in the room saved my mind from going to a very scary place. The peace that I was experiencing was totally surreal. Neither anxiety nor fear overtook me even for a second. The panic that had totally encompassed almost everyone in the house didn’t touch me. My midwife was elbow deep inside my body massaging my uterus to help it shrink and I couldn’t even feel that either.
She had injected me with pitocin to stop the hemorrhaging and to help my body continue contracting so my uterus would shrink. She looked at me at one point and said “Shelbi, whatever it is that you are doing–keep doing it because it’s working.” I wasn’t doing a thing with my body. I was just focusing on keeping my mind in heavenly places and holding my tiny boy in my arms. Matt had his head between his knees hiding in our closet. He doesn’t do well with blood AT ALL. Although he had handled everything so well up to that point.
The sound of sirens was getting closer. At that point, my midwife said that I had pretty much stopped bleeding somehow. I looked up as four firemen entered my bedroom. Just imagine the scene: it’s Christmas evening, a bedroom filled with people and a naked, bloody girl laying on the bed with a baby on her chest.
They quickly asked if this was planned and began checking my vitals. My blood pressure was completely normal. How, you ask? I told you, I was protected. My midwife looked at me and told me I had a decision to make. They could transfer me to the hospital but I would be going alone, separated from my new born baby. He had just spent 9 months inside of me, there was no way I was letting him out of my sight. I was fine. I saw my dad off in the distance just standing back and observing. I looked him in the eyes and told him “I’m fine.” He mouthed back to me saying “I know you are.” The fireman rechecked my blood pressure and after seeing that my vitals were fine, they headed out.
Things had gone somewhat back to normal after everyone started to realize that I was okay. My midwife explained to me that my umbilical cord was short and she thinks that in some of my last pushes it may have torn my placenta from the uterine wall too quickly causing me to hemorrhage. She admitted to me that she had been really scared in that moment and thought that my uterus had totally shattered. Her assistant (also her aunt) shared that in her 7 or so years of working together, they had only called 911 for an emergency one other time. So, when our midwife shouted that out she was immediately flustered as well.
Through all of that excitement, I hadn’t fully been able to enjoy that my SON was here. Sheppard Stone Collins. My midwife left us alone for about an hour or so while she cleaned up and prepped my space for postpartum. I couldn’t take my eyes off of our boy. I was enamored by his tiny little body, his head full of hair and his beautiful blue and alert eyes just staring back at me.
We weighed and measured little Sheppard (7 lbs, 12 oz + 21.5 in.) and Matt cut the umbilical cord. My dad prepared us plates of Christmas dinner from across the street and brought it over to us and I’m pretty sure Matt fell asleep with his plate on his chest.
Our midwife went over everything with us and we just talked through what had happened. Before she left, she looked at me with such sincereness in her eyes and said, “Jesus was surely here today.” Her assistant agreed that “there was definitely someone watching over us.”
My home birth was eventful and exciting and to some that were there, the last moments were chaotic. But we prayed for our child’s birth to leave an impact on someone and I think the Lord outdid it for us with that expectation. It was totally different than what we expected, it was surreal and it was perfect.
And I would do it all over again.