‘I Was Never Once Afraid’ : Story + Photos of My Friend’s Home Birth

When I found out that my dear friend, Kathy, was planning to have a home birth with her second child, I was so proud of her. My mother had my brothers and me at home back in the late 70s and early 80s, and I secretly dream of being able to give birth at home. It takes a special kind of woman to have the courage to do what these women did. I admire them with every womanly ounce of me.

When I approached Kathy about sharing her amazing story with Babble, she was thrilled. Kathy is the type of woman who is always looking to help others, in any way she can. And she is passionate about her birthing experience, and eager to shine light on a subject that is often misunderstood.

Here, I share Kathy’s words and the photographs of the home birth of her son, Kinder. She is joined in the photos by her husband, Kevin, their first-born son, Arlo, Kathy’s mother, and Kathy’s midwife. Photographs were taken by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie, and are used with permission for this post. Kathy’s story is below the pictures, please read!

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  • Labor Begins 1 of 7
    Labor Begins
    When labor started, there was no mad dash to pack the car and head to the hospital. We made tea and played music. My dad took my son on an "adventure day" to keep him occupied. I called my midwife, Betsy, and her assistant, Tisha, to let them know how I was doing, and we kept in touch over the phone for several hours. My husband and my mom had both attended childbirth classes with me and knew how to help me through the contractions, mostly by putting counter pressure on my lower back.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • The Care of a Midwife 2 of 7
    The Care of a Midwife
    When the contractions started picking up, Betsy and Tisha came over. They brought everything they'd need, including this waterproof Doppler to listen to the baby's heartbeat. They were ready to step in if I needed them, but mostly left me to deal with my labor as my body told me to. This is why I chose them. They have trust in a woman's body to safely carry and deliver a child, and espouse a "low-tech, high-touch" approach to assist the woman in her journey.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • Mid-Labor Walk with Husband 3 of 7
    Mid-Labor Walk with Husband
    At one point, my labor slowed down. Tisha and Betsy suggested my husband and I take a walk outside. They sent everyone away, including themselves, for about an hour as Kevin and I just focused on each other, and the contractions started up again. When they got intense, I put my arms around him and he pressed against my lower back and rocked me, like a slow dance, until the contraction passed. When we got back inside, we warmed up with more tea and prepared for the home stretch. By the time my midwives returned, my labor was in full swing and I was ready to get in the birth pool.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • ‘I Was Never Once Afraid’ 4 of 7
    'I Was Never Once Afraid'
    The water felt wonderful, but make no mistake, a warm bath is not the same as an epidural! My labor was a very primal, very spiritual experience. At that point my world narrowed to the rushes in my body and my husband's arms. The gentle encouragement from the people around me kept me focused on the task at hand. While it was the most difficult thing I had ever done, I never once doubted that I could do it, and I was never once afraid.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • Baby Kinder Arrives 5 of 7
    Baby Kinder Arrives
    And then he was here! Born at 6:30 in the evening in his own bedroom. He was so warm and slippery, like a little baby seal. It was like a break in the clouds after a storm, and the love and joy that washed over me was only matched by the way I felt after I gave birth to Arlo almost four years before. There's nothing else like it in the world.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • Skin to Skin with Daddy 6 of 7
    Skin to Skin with Daddy
    After Kevin cut the cord, he got to hold Kinder for the first time. Betsy and Tisha helped me out of the pool, wrapped me in towels, and walked me across the hall to my bed. They tended to me in my own room while my mom brought me tea and a snack. Kevin followed me in with Kinder and the three of us were left there to bask in the joy of our new arrival while everyone else went to tidy up. After we were rested, Betsy and Tisha came back in to examine Kinder right on the bed with us. He never left our side. They stayed for about five hours after he was born, making sure we were both okay, helping me nurse, and answering any questions we had.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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  • Brother Meets Brother 7 of 7
    Brother Meets Brother
    When Arlo found out Kinder was here, he ran right up the stairs to meet him instead of having to drive to the hospital and then having to leave us there. We awoke the next day in our own bed, and the four of us snuggled all morning and half the afternoon. There was nothing to interrupt or separate us. Betsy and Tisha came back to check on us at home, we never had to leave the house. We couldn't imagine a smoother, more natural way to welcome Kinder into our family and we're so grateful to have had such a wonderful experience.
    Photo by Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie
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When I was pregnant with my first son, Arlo, I didn’t know that home birth was even an option in New York. I delivered him in a birth center attached to a hospital and was generally pleased with the care I received, but wanted something more this time around. I was bringing another child into the world, a most sacred and spiritual experience, and I wanted to honor that. I wanted to do it peacefully and quietly, in my own time, and in my own way, without anyone hovering over me, looking at the clock, or offering me pain medication. The location of the birth was less important to me than the rapport I’d have with my providers and the quality of care I would receive with them.  As it turned out, I was able to find everything I was looking for with the Family Life Center in Albany, a home birth midwifery practice.

 Choosing a home birth was one of the best things my husband and I have done for our family. My prenatal care was fantastic. Appointments often lasted an hour, and never felt hurried. All my questions and concerns were addressed respectfully at length. We talked about my health and nutrition, but also about my feelings, and my family, and how we were all adjusting to the idea of a new baby, especially a baby born at home.  

Not everyone in our lives was on board with our decision.  Some were worried about not being in a hospital in case of an emergency. Some called us selfish and irresponsible, risking my life and the baby’s for some “hippie experience.”  This was the biggest challenge we faced in our journey. In order to have the peaceful birth I wanted, I needed peace with these people in my life. My midwives were very supportive and understanding. They provided literature about home birth for me to share with them and offered to meet anyone with questions in person to put their minds at ease.

 When it was time to have the baby, everyone was on board and well prepared.  We had the private, intimate environment we were looking for, with just a handful of people in our home.  In addition to my husband, mother, and midwives, we invited Sarah Morand of En Vie Photographie to document our experience.  I’m so pleased to share my experience and some of Sarah’s beautiful photographs with Babble.

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