Miraculous (Unplanned) Unassisted Home Birth
Birth story of Ezekiel James Henley
Sunday evening, Mother’s Day, I began to feel dull, period-like, cramps starting in my back and then wrapping around. I decided to ignore them and not mention it to Caleb since I really wasn’t sure what they meant. I remember waking at least twice overnight to the same cramping. I would get readjusted in bed and fall back to sleep thinking, if I can sleep through these then it isn’t really labor and I’m good.
6:00am the next morning: I kept feeling them on and off but they were not intense, just annoying and so I decided we would continue on with our day as usual. I was able to spend some time in the Word and read through Psalm 35 that day. “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the LORD, who delights in the welfare of his servant!’ Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.” Ps 35: 27-28.
Josiah was really clingy and wouldn’t give me a break. Looking back though, I think he knew because while I was getting dressed he came up to me, asked that I sit down, and then patted my belly and said “baby!” Which is something he has done before, but for some reason it felt different that time.
8:00am So we get ready to go to the gym & play with friends that day before his ISR swim lessons. Lunches packed, bags packed, out the door, drove to the gym, felt like crap.
8:45am Sent my midwife a message to update her that I was feeling period like cramps, but nothing I couldn’t keep moving through and I’d let her know if anything changes.
8:56am (Thankfully I was texting a lot of people that day so I can look back at time stamps) We arrived at the gym and I greet multiple friends saying “I don’t even know why I’m here.” To some who asked or commented about baby-to-be, I replied “Yeah still preggers! But today or tomorrow might be baby day!”. In my head, I thought “if I can make it until Josiah’s lessons and get him down for his nap before anything picks up, then we will be good to go.”
9am-12:45pm Our morning consisted of Josiah playing with friends at nursery while I talked with friends and had more annoying cramps, then over to friend’s house. Ironically, it was a play date with both the beautiful mamas on my birth team. I told them about my cramping and they were getting so excited, which helped me stay at ease and get excited as well. We eat lunch and play, and then go to his swim lesson at 12:20pm. We made it home for his nap at 1pm and I decided I’d try to relax and take a nap.
Okay, this is how nonchalant I was about what was happening because at least twice after leaving the friends house did I have to stop what I was doing to breathe through what I put off as a “cramp”. Now, keep in mind, Josiah’s labor was 26hrs long and a lot of back labor so I assumed that was happening all over again. I was determined to ignore the “cramps” until I was sure they were “real contractions” lol...okay Caitlin, good one. 1:05pm Josiah’s down for his nap. I put a few things away from our morning outings and moved the laundry to the dryer.
1:11pm I sent a message to my midwife telling her I was doing okay and going to try to nap, but that it probably was not wise to drive to see her for my PreNatal appointment that afternoon at 4pm. She agreed and encouraged me to stay home and rest in case things picked up and labor went into the night.
1:44pm At this point I wasn’t able to continue napping. I had two more bad cramps that ripped through my back (let’s face it, they were contractions but I had kept calling them cramps in messages to my birth team.)
I sent messages to Caleb and my birth team saying how sad I was that this all felt exactly like my early labor with Josiah and how much it was hurting. (I actually broke down and cried a little bit when I wrote out those texts to them.) I didn’t know if I could take another labor like that for so long again. Caleb even asked if he needed to come home and I text back, “I don’t think so. They are so spaced out. I’m not even sure that these are real contractions.” (They were about 20mins apart) LOL GIRL, you should have told him “yes, come home!!”
I also sent a text to my mother-in-law to ask her to come over at 3pm to get Josiah up from his nap because I didn’t think I would be able to. She asked if I was okay and if she needed to come over before 3pm. I told her no, I was okay since Josiah was sleeping, but that I had a feeling sometime today was baby day and I wouldn’t be able to hang out with him after his nap.
2:00pm I decided I would do a few things my midwife had suggested to help with the back pain: a deep knee chest hold for 20mins (like a modified downward dog, but your knees and chest are on the ground and you raise your butt as high as possible) and then take a warm epsom salt bath to ease the muscle pain.
2:00-2:20 I did the deep knee chest and it felt SO good. I thought it was causing baby to move into a better position so that the cramps would turn into true contractions and then “active” labor would start. If I could have gone back in time I would have laughed and then said “GIRL, CALL YOUR BIRTH TEAM AND HUSBAND NOW” but, retrospect is 20/20 right? Well, my phone was at 20% and we only have a charging port in the kitchen now, soooo I was without my phone starting at 2:30 when I got into the bath tub.
2:20-2:30 I got the bathtub ready, had to use the bathroom at least once before getting in the tub. I had 1-2 waves that hit me so fast I immediately went back into the deep knee chest position on the bathroom floor because it was the only thing that had given me relief from the excruciating back pain.
2:30 I got into the tub thinking it would help relax me and maybe slow things down a bit. NOPE. I was sideways in my bath tub, with my upper torso half hanging over the side onto the ledge, my head resting on an upside down trashcan and a balled up towel for a pillow. My Christian Hypnobirthing affirmations are playing on the iPad to help with relaxation and deep breathing. During this time I slowly realized things were picking up when I had about 3 waves I had to vocalize through. I needed help, but my phone was in the other room and I had no idea how to get there.
~3:00pm my mother-in-law arrived. PRAISE GOD. I called to her through the closed door and asked her to come in. She opened the door and asked “Caitlin are you having contractions? Have you called Caleb or the midwife?”I replied “Yes, but they are pretty spaced out,” (In my head they were about 15minutes apart) “So I’m just trying to relax a little since it’s a lot of back labor like with Josiah. I’m really thirsty and my water bottle and phone are on the counter, could you bring them to me?”
She stepped out to grab my phone and water and during that time I realized that I had a LOT of pressure at my perineum. I reached down to just check or see if I could feel anything different. With one finger I could tell my water bag was bulging and right there. uh oh.
My mother-in-law brought me my phone and said “Caitlin, I can deliver cats but I’ve never delivered a baby. Are you sure you’re okay?” I replied as calmly as possible, “Yeah, I just need to give my midwife a call. Thank you for coming to get Josiah up for me.” She said something, closed the door, and left me to get Josiah.
3:07pm I called my midwife, and tried to time it in between a contraction. She picked up after the first two rings. “Hey Lorri!” I say relieved. And I was about to tell her about my water bag, but another wave hit me. After that one subsided she said, “Hey are you having contractions?”
“Yes,” I replied as strongly as I could.
“Okay, I’m leaving my house right now. Is anyone with you? Is Caleb home? Am I on speaker?”
I answered, “Okay. No I’m alone in my bathroom tub. Caleb’s still at work. My mother-in-law is physically here, but she’s in the back room getting Josiah up from his nap. I can feel my water bag as soon as I check.”
3:09pm While I talked to my midwife in between waves, I realized no one else knew what was happening, I immediately texted Caleb “Come home” and my birth team “Y’all might wana come”.
3:10pm Another wave hit me. “Ahh” I cried out, “my water just broke! I can feel baby’s head on my hand” “Okay Caitlin, your baby is coming and I’m not going to make it, but I’m going to stay on the phone with you the whole time. Hold your hand to baby’s head. Let baby know you’re there,” my midwife replied.
“Okay!” I replied shakily, “Hey baby, I’m right here. You’re okay. We’re okay.”
I didn’t have time to process anything except what was happening to me at that moment. She was right. My baby was coming, birth team or not. I was going to be doing this myself. But I wasn’t truly alone.
My midwife then said, “Okay I’m just going to say a prayer for this baby and birth right now.” And she said the most beautiful prayer. She asked for God’s protection, she prayed that we invite Him to this birth and are placing it in His hands. She affirmed that this is all by His perfect design and prayed He would keep me and baby safe.
3:13pm Another wave. “Baby’s head is out! I can see baby’s face!”
“Okay Caitlin. You’re doing great. Breathe for your baby now, okay. Take a few deep breaths.”
I breathed in deep about three times.
“Oh gosh, that lovely ring of fire!” I say jokingly. (Man that sure hurts in the moment!)
I looked down, into the water, I could see that baby was opening and closing it’s eyes, the little right hand was up next to its cheek, then baby’s mouth opened and closed. I was not even thinking about pushing; my body is doing it all for me with each contraction.
3:14pm Another wave. “Ah! Baby’s coming! Baby’s out! Oh my gosh, It’s a boy!”
Slowly I brought baby to the surface to breathe air for the first time.
“He’s a little blue is that okay?!”
“Keep taking deep breaths. You’re doing great.”
Baby immediately started to cry upon coming to the surface.
I had always wondered what it felt like for the women who experienced the fetal-ejection reflex. I never experienced that with Josiah; I intentionally pushed for an hour. But this labor, this birth, was something extraordinary.
My body did exactly what I never knew it was capable of doing, and it will always be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.
11 minutes. That’s how long my phone call was with my midwife. She was about to arrive to my house, and Caleb was calling on the other line, she said I could take his call and she would be there in 5 minutes.
3:20pm I answered Caleb’s phone call “We have a healthy baby boy! 10 fingers, 10 toes!” Baby was crying very loudly at that point I could barely hear Caleb yell “What?! You had the baby?! Is anyone there with you?”
“Your mom is physically here, but she’s with Josiah in his room I think. I just got off the phone with the midwife, I called her before it happened and she was on the phone with me the whole time”
3:23pm We continued to talk, both in shock. I take a photo of myself and baby and send it to my two friends on my birth team.
My mother-in-law then opened the door with Josiah in tow and asked, “Caitlin did you have the baby?!” Baby was crying but I still replied, “Yes, you can come in if you’d like.” She and Josiah step in and he got to meet to baby for the first time. Shortly after my midwife arrives, she gets to work helping me, and my mother-in-law takes Josiah into his room to play.
Caleb arrives at home in under 25 minutes. I don’t even want to say how he told me he drove home that day, but if you saw a big red truck on Monday driving down 152 like a maniac around 3:30pm, now you know why.
3:50pm my friends on my birth team trickle in and begin to document the afterbirth, Caleb cutting the cord and holding baby for the first time, and help my midwife with various tasks.
Everyone was so amazing. They all worked so well together and I felt so taken care of and safe. I did hemorrhage, but it was actively managed and I tolerated it well with the help of some medication at my midwife’s discretion. She kept me informed about what was happening at all times and we decided together as a team, with her wisdom, as how to best proceed to avoid any transfer. Not once did I feel fear. Again, I felt safe and cared for. I praise God for his protection, peace and divine presence during the labor, birth, and afterbirth.
In closing, I want to affirm that you CAN do hard things. Through Christ. He is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise for all things. This birth especially one of them. May we be reminded of the sanctity of life. May we be reminded of true love, hope, and mercy which is new every day. If you do not know Jesus, I urge you to know Him. He is THE greatest friend, Lord, SAVIOR... and His Father is indescribable in His goodness, mercy and love. If the Holy Spirit dwells within you, then you are never alone. You can do hard things.
Once again, I praise God from whom all blessings flow. Thank you Lord.
Ezekiel James Henley, your arrival into this world is nothing short of a miracle and amazing display of the strength God gives his people when they are in need. Your name means just that: God will strengthen. It is truly only by His strength I was able to endure and do what I did. We praise God once again for a healthy baby and mama. This one is going to take a while to process, but hopefully writing it out will help with the shock of it all. The sheer magnitude of what happened. This doesn’t happen to many people - the fast labor and then giving birth unassisted. But I was never truly unassisted, the Lord was right there the whole time.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear. The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46.
To God be the glory.
By Caitlin Henley