When we were pregnant with our first, the idea of a birth center birth or a home birth certainly intrigued me, but my husband and I weren’t yet comfortable with that idea, so we delivered Olivia in a hospital using a midwife practice. (You can read about Olivia’s birth story here.)
With our second daughter, we were excited about delivering at a birth center or having a home birth, however we were in a season of moving a lot so a home birth wouldn’t work out for us. (You can ready about Avery’s birth story here.)
For our third baby, we were very excited about a home birth from the start, so our midwife (Casey Morrow of Safe Haven Midwifery) was the first person outside of our immediate family who knew we were pregnant. And fast forward nine months, our third baby girl, Isla, was born in the comforts of our own home!
We knew a home birth would be a good fit for our family, however we had no idea how perfect of a fit it would be. When I was 37 week pregnant, our oldest daughter, Olivia, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and those first few weeks, especially, we were in and out of the hospital A LOT.
And the idea of having to spend more time in the hospital, let alone more overnight time in the hospital, and especially that much time away from our daughters when life was already very unpredictable and off routine, was a big no thank you. My family joked that I’d be the first person to leave a hospital to have a baby, and I sure would have!
Thankfully, and totally in God’s providence, Isla was born at home, in a week where hopsital time was very limited and time at home as a family was plentiful. So here’s the birth story of our little Isla Joy, born on September 6, 2022 (on her due date!!), in the comforts of our own home.
My Birth Story- The Short Version
As I sat down for breakfast on the morning of September 6, I mentioned to my husband and parents that I had been having some different cramps that morning and the day before, so I was curious if baby was coming soon. I felt some more “cramping” (aka contractions) throughout the day, but they were not very consistent and it was pretty easy to ignore them.
Around 5 pm I started wondering more and more if this could potentially be labor, so I texted my midwife, Casey, to let her know there was a chance I could go into labor that night. After putting our girls to bed I was much more confident that this was, in fact, labor, so I called our midwife again and let her know this was likely the real deal, but it was still early.
Around 8:30, I decided to lay down and see if I could sleep, and although I didn’t sleep and the contractions continued to come, it felt very restful laying there, and I was comfortable.
Around 10 pm, however, I got up to use the restroom and to switch sides I was lying on, and my contractions not only intensified as I was up and moving, but they just kept coming back to back. So Jason called Casey and let her know it was time to come over. She got to our apartment around 10:30 pm, right as I could tell my body was prepping to push out a baby, and at 10:55 pm our little Isla Joy came out to meet us!
My Birth Story- The Long Version
When I went into labor with our oldest, Olivia, I woke up in the morning to some cramping that was different than the Braxton Hicks I had gotten so used to, and they were uncomfortable enough that I was confident it was labor. I was also eight days passed my due date, which also helped boost the confidence. When I went into labor with our daughter Avery, however, I went into labor during the day/early evening, and it was much harder for me to determine if they were just cramps or actual labor contractions. She was also born five days early, so I wasn’t as confident it was true labor.
So as we approached Isla’s due date, I was curious if I’d actually be able to label it as labor more quickly if it started mid-day. And the answer is kind of-ish, but not totally.
As I sat down for breakfast on the morning of September 6, I mentioned to my husband and parents that I had been having some different cramps that morning and the day before, so I was curious if baby was coming soon. It was then time for Jason and I to take Olivia to her first outpatient chemotherapy, so we loaded up the car and I drove so Jason could climb in the back with Olivia.
In the 45 minute drive, I had two cramps that were pretty noticeable, but also still very comfortable and I could 100% function (drive!) through them. As we pulled into the hopsital parking garage, I told Jason that I had had two cramps on our drive and I could potentially be in early labor. Our babies come quickly, so he wanted me to drop them off and head straight home, but I was nowhere near ready to say this was labor and I wanted to be a part of my daughter’s first outpatient chemo.
And while we were at the hospital, I didn’t feel a thing, and we were there for three hours – glad I didn’t head home! On the drive home I had two more cramps, so when we got home I laid down for a little nap, just in case I’d be in labor during the night. I had a few more cramps while laying down, but still didn’t think much of them.
I looked back at my texts to get a good time stamp of when everything else happened, so…
At 5:12 pm I decided to text my midwife and said:
“Just to give you a heads up going into the evening, I have been cramping more today. Definitely not willing to say I’m in labor (we were at the hospital this afternoon for outpatient chemo so also know there was more action), but my body is definitely moving in the right direction! Will certainly keep you posted :)”
As Jason and I were putting the girls to bed that night, I was getting more confident this might be labor, so we let them know they’d very likely meet their baby sister in the morning. It was a sweet little family bedtime as the four of us one last time! Though I couldn’t help a ton, because standing and swaying felt really great right about then.
Then at 7:44 pm I called Casey to let her know I was willing to say it was labor but may very well sleep for a bit that night (like I did with Avery). We chatted for 8 minutes and I had some contractions while on the phone, but was still very able to chat through them.
Around 8:30 I figured I might as well try to get some rest and see if I could sleep, so I got into bed and rested. I didn’t fall asleep, but laying down felt really great. At 9:23 pm I had my husband text Casey, and he said:
“Update from Jason – questions from Lauren. Contractions are intensifying but spreading out in their pacing. Lauren is laying down and resting. Sleep isn’t happening. Just wondering the benefits of laying down and resting vs trying to move and letting things progress.”
And she quickly responded,
“Hi, Jason! If Lauren is feeling relaxed between contractions, I’d recommend trying to continue resting. If not comfortable or able to relax…But prioritize rest. Active labor will happen.”
“Awesome, Lauren said she’s very relaxed.”
“Great! If she doesn’t fall asleep in 30-45 min, just remind her to switch sides.
Around 10 pm, Jason told me to switch which side I was laying on and I wanted to go to the bathroom first. Jason came with me just to be safe, and simply walking to the bathroom (very close to our bed!) I had four contractions in a row, and they continued coming quickly and strongly while I was using the restroom as well as getting up and back into bed.
So once he got me settled again, Jason called Casey at 10:09 pm telling her that contractions intensified greatly in that short walk to and from the bathroom and that they were still coming now that I was in bed again – he said it was go time and asked her to come as soon as possible.
[Jason called Casey unprompted by me, and when I heard him say, “It’s go time, why don’t you come over now,” part of me wanted to tell him I wasn’t sure that was necessary yet, but I was tired and just trusted him. And thank goodness I did!]
While waiting for Casey, I continued laboring on my left side, as it was right where my body wanted to be. I was defintiely uncomfortable at this point and knew baby girl would be coming soon. Around 10:30 I could feel a change happening and my body was definitely prepping to push. Right as I was telling Jason something was changing (which he could hear in my voice and breath), we heard the buzzer downstairs in our apartment building, and to both of our joy Casey had just arrived! And then maybe 10 minutes later her birth assistant, Lawren, arrived.
I continued to have contractions that were slightly bearing down, and contractions that were simply progressing my labor. I remember wondering why my water hadn’t broke yet, because with both Olivia and Avery my water broke and then my body started pushing. But this time, my body was starting to push and my waters were still in tact.
When my water did burst, it felt like Isla’s head came just moments later. Once again, unlike my previous two babies whose whole body and head came out together in one push, Isla’s head was born and then my body took a little break. That was something I had seen in videos and read about in books, but it had never happened for me. It felt both strange and also really beautiful, and it was kind of fun to pause and celebrate that we were almost there! I wish we had a picture, but things were just happening way too quickly.
Around two minutes later, I felt the urge to push again and this time the rest of her was born, at 10:55 pm. Our little Isla Joy was born at 9 lbs 1 ounce, and we were so thankful to have her in our arms!
Tidbits I Don’t Want to Forget
When Isla was born, we weren’t totally set on her name yet. Jason was ready to name her Isla, but I threw out the name Elise and wanted to sit on it a bit. So we didn’t officially land on her name until the next morning when my hubby basically said if I didn’t say otherwise, he was going to call her Isla Joy! So there we have it.
Another fun note about her name: on December 22 of last year, I was sitting by our Christmas tree after putting the girls to bed. Jason was isolating in our room with Covid and we had been trying to get pregnant for several months. For whatever reason, I sat there wondering if I had a little life growing inside and the name “Isla Joy” came to mind. I emailed myself the name to remember it, and a week later we took a pregnancy test and got a positive! While brainstorming names, we had other girl names we enjoyed, as well, so we were not settled at all – until she was born.
My parents were there when Olivia was born and made it a few hours after Avery was born, so we wanted them there for baby number three. They were already in town due to our oldest’s cancer diagnosis and then birthday, so the timing felt perfect! Except my mom caught a cold right before Isla was born, so we weren’t comfortable having her in the room or touching the baby. So my parents were at our apartment, but she and my dad sat in the living room, with a mask on, and watched me labor from the baby monitor.
Our Midwife, Casey
We’ve actually known Casey most of our marriage, as we used to go to church together. When we were pregnant with Olivia, she recommended a birth class for us and we went and loved it! When I was pregnany with Avery, Casey had moved away but I contacted her about options for where I could have Avery. The midwife practice I used for Olivia was no longer delivering and I wasn’t sure if I’d be considered “high risk” given the hemorraghing I had after Olivia was born. She assured me I would be a good candidate for a birth center birth or home birth, and she told me about Birth Care of Alexandria, where Avery was born. Then Casey moved back to our area in the last two years or so and started her home birth practice, so even as we were trying to get pregnant, we knew we wanted to work with her!
Additionally, when I first called Casey to let her know this was likely labor, she let me know that she had another mom in labor and that we were both stereotypically fast laborers. So she said there was a chance she wouldn’t be able to come to our birth but would send another midwife. In the moment, I was bummed to think about potentially not having Casey, but I totally trusted who she’d send in her place and just wanted a safe baby and mama. But once Casey was able to come, I was SO THANKFUL she was able to support us in our delivery. And after she left our house she went to be with that other mama and ended up being able to be there for both of us!
Our oldest, Olivia, had been excited about watching her baby sister be born, but just a few weeks before our due date she decided she didn’t want to watch. She just wanted to see how small the baby was when she was born. Because our girls were both asleep we let them keep sleeping, and surprised them in the morning with a new baby sister. Olivia made her way in first, and Avery came in a few minutes later. They were overjoyed!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading!