In September of 2015, the week of our daughter’s 3rd birthday, we discovered that we were expecting our second child. I had been perpetuating a home birth conversation with Danny even before we had a positive test; I knew that it was the right choice for me. Danny, who had also been let down by the hospital standard for birth, agreed to explore home birth but with some apprehension. It was outside of your everyday births, but he wanted me to have the experience I was searching for this time around. A friend, who had recently welcomed a baby girl, recommended LeAnn to us and we called her to arrange a meeting.
In the years after my daughter Madeline’s birth, I had dreamt up the perfect midwife. I really thought about what I wanted my second pregnancy and birth experience to be like. What elements would boil down to the empowered birth experience that I craved and deserved? After meeting with LeAnn, I looked at Danny and we agreed: she was it. I wanted to be able to develop a trusting relationship with our midwife where I could be at the hardest point in my labor and know that we were all in this together. I wanted someone who could honestly tell me that she knew I could do it even when I wasn’t quite sure anymore and I knew LeAnn was her. LeAnn is incredibly supportive, accommodating and empowering through the whole experience. She let Danny and I research and decide for ourselves what our care and experience would look like from diet and probiotics to each newborn procedure. Every step of the way, our birth was uniquely ours. Truly.
I was due on Friday the 5th of June, and just like with Madeline, my due date came and went uneventfully. I had finished all of the necessary prep work for the impending birth, and so I was just trying to keep myself busy now. On Monday night, after putting Mady to bed, I spent a few hours finishing up some sewing I had started the day before. When I had reached a natural stopping point and was starting to get tired, I threw on my pajamas and laid down in bed. At 11 pm, a few minutes later, I had my first labor contraction. Or was it? With my first labor, I had the benefit of my water breaking and then my first contraction followed close behind. Of course I was in labor then, it was just like in the movies! This time I wasn’t about to jump to any conclusions. I got up from bed and walked around the house still not at all convinced that this was it, even as a few more contractions happened. “I’ll know after the next one”, I kept telling myself but each time I still denied it. Eventually around 11:45, I called Danny who was at work in Rochester. I told him that he should think about wrapping up the day because, I “think” I’m in labor. He told me he would, but to call him back when I was sure. Apparently he wasn’t convinced, and neither was I. After I had hung up the phone, I let a few more contractions come before I called LeAnn for her heads up. It was 12:20 am when LeAnn picked up the phone. I was so sorry for waking her since my contractions were only seven minutes apart. However, I guessed since I had labored for 14 hours the first time, I could only really count on six to eight hours of labor and I thought she should be prepared to come first thing in the morning. She asked me a few questions to determine where I was in my labor and then she told me to call her when she needed to come. I quickly called Danny back to tell him that I had called LeAnn and to make his way home from work. We had decided on a water birth and Danny’s main early labor job was to set up the tub and I didn’t want him to have to rush with that. I quickly realized while we were talking that I had three contractions over the last 15 minute conversation. Danny noticed as well and told me to hang up and call LeAnn to head from Winona to our home in Eyota since it was a 40 minute drive without including construction. Before I hung up I reminded Danny that he needed to stop at the local grocery store for sandwich supplies for himself and the birth team. I think that this is LeAnn’s favorite part of the story. I honestly thought that I had all the time in the world, enough to spare my husband for a grocery stop at least, but this is where things got intense. I called LeAnn back and told her that my contractions were five minutes apart and to start heading our way. After this, my contractions got very intense and much closer together. I tried to labor in the shower, but it became too much. By the time Danny got home at 12:45 am (what a fast shopper he is!) I was curled up on our bed just trying to make it from one contraction to the next.
I was so relieved when Danny walked in the door. He has a secret but definite talent for helping me through labor and he quickly started to rub my leg. It was a necessary distraction as I had contraction after contraction wash over me. Then he told me that he still had to go set up the tub, to which I replied that it wasn’t going to happen; I needed to push. For all of the thoughts that Danny must have been having, he did an amazing job reassuring me that it was okay to push. He called LeAnn, who was en route to our home, and told her how everything had progressed with lightning speed. She told him that the birth assistant, Rebecca, was almost there and that she was close behind. Before hanging up, Danny told her he would call if he needed to deliver the baby. Even through the contractions, I thought “what a turn of events.”
Rebecca, one of two birth assistants who work with LeAnn arrived shortly after Danny’s call. I only remember bits and pieces of the world outside my labor, but Danny says he greeted her by saying, “you have the glow of an angel” and I’m sure that she did. After Rebecca arrived, I sent Danny to make sure Madeline’s door was closed so I didn’t wake her up and scare her. This is when I started some serious pushing and yelled out “I can’t do it!” Rebecca grabbed hold of my shoulder and looked in my eyes. She smiled and said “you can do it” with all of the sincerity in the world. Danny returned a moment later, and with one more push our baby’s head was out. With the next, she was born. Little baby Aubrey June was born at 1:18 am, two hours and twenty minutes after my first contraction just minutes after Rebecca arrived. LeAnn walked through the door shortly after with a big “congratulations!”
Even though our birth didn’t go at all as planned on the surface, we could not have been happier with it. The comfort of being in our own home from the beginning, not having to worry about getting to the hospital in time (which we wouldn’t have), and being able to enjoy our new family member together with Madeline while not being rushed to the postpartum floor at a hospital made it a night and day experience for us. The four of us got to snuggle on the bed while LeAnn and Rebecca took care of everything with respect for our individual timeline. It was exactly how I imagined the experience to be and we couldn’t be more thankful.
Professional photos of the baby and sister by: Sees The Day Photography
Professional photos of Leann's visit by: Bliss Photography