I love having moms write birth stories from their perspectives because it gives us such insight into what the experience was like for them. It can also be encouraging to other moms who have similar birth plans. These are Kelsye's words, alongside the photos from her birth, that she so graciously agreed to share with us. Her birth story is beautiful and one I'm so proud to let you guys in on. Enjoy!

From Kelsye:

On October 19th, 2022 at 5:52am (40w3d,) we welcomed our sweet baby girl, Zoey Blair. She is the fifth and final addition to our family and for her delivery I chose to have a home birth. It’s something I have wanted to do since my pregnancy with my third baby but just hadn’t been brave enough to do. With this being our last, I really wanted to “go out with a bang” and just go for it! We have four other kiddos and it was really important to me for this birth to be a family-centered event. So, after speaking with my OB to ensure I was a good candidate, we made the decision to switch to midwifery care and do it at home!

I feel so blessed to have had the perfect support team for this birth! My midwives, Dawn & Lauren, my wonderful photographer, Sara, my mother and my husband, and my three amazing “big kids!” (The two year old was asleep the whole time, PRAISE THE LORD!)

I loved having each and every one of these people present. I felt so supported and loved by this group of people and it made for an incredibly moving experience that I wish every woman could have. My kids were just in awe of the whole thing and I loved that they got to really BE a part of their little sister’s birth. It was truly a transformative experience that none of us will ever forget—especially thanks to my birth photographer! ;)

I did my best to remain very active throughout this pregnancy and it really paid off! I was thankful to have a very smooth, uneventful pregnancy. I was still feeling great during the last week and even continuing to go to the gym for my yoga classes and exercise.

I had been in early labor for most of the day Monday, Oct. 17th, and again Tuesday morning, Oct. 18th. I had an appointment with my midwife at noon that day and we discovered I was 2cm dilated. Wanting the labor to progress and continue in the right direction, we decided together to insert a foley bulb to help things along. Two hours later (now 3:00pm) I was able to pull it right out, meaning I was now at least 4cm dilated! I let my midwife, Dawn, know and she came over to check on me when she was done in the office. At around 5:30pm, she confirmed I was in fact about 5cm dilated and at this time, we thought my waters had broken so things were definitely headed in the right direction!

She decided to hang out for a while to watch and see how baby and I were handling labor. Around 9:00pm, I wanted to be checked to see what progress had been made… not a lot, and despite what we thought, my water hadn’t actually broken. At this point, I just wanted to really get the ball rolling. I wasn’t in any pain yet but I had been having contractions pretty much all day Monday & Tuesday and was just READY. (If you know, you know.)

My midwife and I decided together to go ahead and break my waters manually and there was no mistaking they had in fact broken! SHOW TIME. I texted my mom and birth photographer, Sara, and alerted them it was time to head over. I knew there was no turning back at this point and I was feeling all the feels—excited to meet my baby girl, anxious for her safe arrival, happy to have my family and birth team with me, sad to not be pregnant anymore and to be closing the chapter of my child-bearing years… but mostly, I felt thankful. Thankful to God to be blessed with all these kids and so grateful He chose ME to be the one to raise and nurture them.

Around 3:00am, things really ramped up. I never felt that contractions were unbearable, but it was at this point they became VERY uncomfortable. Not thirty minutes later and I was begging to get in the birth pool. Finally around 4:00am (only 30 minutes later but felt like an eternity) the pool was filled and I jumped right in. Okay, I didn’t literally JUMP, but I climbed over the edge of that pool pretty darn quick for being over 40 weeks pregnant. And It. Felt. So. Good. The next two hours flew by and dragged on all at once. My recollection of time was a bit fuzzy until I saw the time stamp on all of my incredible birth photos which was a really cool way to “relive” the experience.

From 4:00-5:30am, I kind of just sat there not wanting to move from my seated position where I was reclining against the back of the birth pool. I handled much of transition like this and eventually, my assistant midwife, Lauren, suggested I maybe make a move. She had kindly suggested many things since about 2:00am to help my labor progress and I turned her down every time. This time, though, I knew she was right. I needed to move or I would be pregnant forever. I made a plan in my mind and was going to get to my knees and lay over the front of the pool and rest my head on the edge of it. So I begrudgingly sat up and the moment I made it to my hands and knees, I knew it was go-time. I could literally feel her drop into the canal and though I knew better, I thought maybe I just need to go to the bathroom if you know what I mean. NOPE.

As soon as I made it to my hands and knees, gravity did its thing and she descended. I told my midwife “either she’s here or I have to poop” (sorry not sorry for the TMI) and my midwife told me “do what you need to do!”

For the first time during this entire labor, I pushed…and I pushed hard. Another major shift that I could feel so I reached down to see if I could physically feel anything. Her head! “I can feel her head!,” I said. It was incredible. Her entire head was crowning and I could feel it with my bare hand! What an experience. It was truly a moment I will never forget. And although labor was hard and contractions certainly didn’t feel good, I was able to be present throughout the entire thing. I was able to look up and look my oldest daughter and my husband in the eyes and tell them, “I can feel her head! Oh my gosh, I can feel her little ear!” I’ll just never forget it.

Finally, with one more push out came her sweet little self and I was kind of in shock because it happened with those two pushes. My midwife said, “There’s your baby, grab her!” So I looked down, couldn’t believe she was right there between my legs, grabbed under her little shoulders and pulled her up to my chest. It was the absolute best moment of my life so far.

When I pulled her to my chest I just remember being in shock. I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Did I really just do that?!’ And my photographer definitely got this moment on camera!

My three oldest kids were already surrounding the birth pool, along with my husband, and they all just looked in awe and reached out to touch their brand new baby sister. I honestly can’t remember anything that was said in after moments, but looks on all their faces I will absolutely remember forever.

The most memorable moment for me was looking down in the water and seeing my baby girl right there, waiting for me to reach down and scoop her up. It was such a simple thing when you really think about it. Just, “reach down and grab your baby.” But that one action, a short moment from water to air, changed the way I see birth while simultaneously forming the way my children see birth—raw, real, and remarkable.

My only hesitation with hiring a birth photographer was the expense. But I knew that photography is invaluable and I would always appreciate having photos of this moment. Sara was a true professional and I felt so blessed to have her capture this major life-event for me. She was a lovely addition to my birth team and an absolute sweetheart. Now, looking through my beautiful birth story she created, I can experience that night again and again and I will cherish these photos forever.

If you’re considering hiring a birth photographer, the only thing I would say about the expense is to choose someone who knows how to charge their worth. Birth photography should never be cheap and the quality of photos will live on forever. Your future generations will probably see these photos so be selective with who you choose. Another thing to consider is how you feel about this photographer. Are they professional? Do they respect how you’re choosing to give birth? Will they be a positive addition to your birth space? If you answered yes to these questions, you’ve found your match and should go for it! You will not regret it.

I'm so thankful for moms like Kelsye who are brave enough to allow others a glimpse into their birth stories. This is one way birth will be normalized for future generations. What a beautiful day to be a part of! Thank you for choosing me to bear witness to your story.