Two years ago I never would have imagined planning a home birth, truthfully I might have had some judgmental things to say about families who did. But here I am in 2009, planning to have my son at home this fall and learning to eat my words.
When I blogged about my niece’s home birth back in January, Jacqueline emailed to share her enthusiasm on the post since she and Andy had just decided to have their son at home too. We were planning a first year documentary project once Baby Boy arrived and the couple asked if I might document the birth itself. I was really excited for the opportunity but had some concerns, Jacqueline and Andy live out of town and we wouldn’t be able to meet before the big event. What if my presence impeded Jacqueline’s labor? How do we time it and what if I didn’t make it? How would it affect my feelings about our own labor and delivery? How can someone so bad with her cell phone be on call?
While my concerns were valid, it turned out they weren’t necessary. There was nothing anyone could do to stop the Olympic speed of Jacqueline’s labor: six hours from first contraction to birth. I was called in at just the right time and made it to their home no sooner or later than I should have. The experience only made me more excited for our own labor experience, the car ride there and back gave me time to reflect on how prepared and confident I feel about my body, my support team, and our decision. After a lifetime of fearing childbirth I have finally come to a place where I am no longer afraid, just in true awe of the process. And I picked up my cell phone every time it rang this month only to promptly lose it again the day after Roscoe was born (if you’ve been calling me, I still can’t find it). Best of all, Roscoe was born beautiful and healthy and was surrounded – practically flooded – with love from the get go. It couldn’t have turned out more perfect.
I love this photo of Andy hanging out in the nursery while giving Jacqueline some space to labor. They had practiced their swaddling skills on a teddy bear that they placed in his crib awaiting his arrival. Small signs of preparation for this life altering event were scattered throughout the house.
Their pup Chloe was very supportive through labor but decided she needed a nap while Jacqueline was in the final stages of pushing. She snored so loudly as the baby was coming that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud! Chloe was startled out of her slumber when Roscoe began to cry, jolting her out of bed to announce his arrival with a bark.
Chloe got to meet her new pack member just a little later on and I think she approves:
Here are a few shots just moments after Roscoe’s birth. Jacqueline might disagree with me but, in my opinion, a woman never looks as beautiful as she does in those first few moments of motherhood:
Andy holds his son for the first time:
Home birth, as I see it, isn’t about fear of hospitals, being a renegade or even convenience. Its an approach that stems from the belief that birth is a normal process with potentially better outcomes when a mother can labor where she feels safe, comfortable, undisturbed, and free of the interventions that have become the standard of care in hospitals. This doesn’t mean you do it alone: Jacqueline and Andy’s amazing midwife Susan and doula (labor assistant) Lori were there with them every step of the way, working as a team to observe and support Jacqueline’s progress, help her to deliver her baby safely, and closely monitor the baby’s progress with every passing minute following his birth.
The birth itself left me awe struck, Jacqueline was inspiring and I commented more than once that she set the bar a little high for myself and first time mothers everywhere. Regardless, the photos most appropriate to share here are of Jacqueline and Andy becoming familiar with this new life before them. I feel lucky to have been present for those first couple of hours when Roscoe met his family for the first time, he was instantly adored.
Roscoe’s parents kept his name under lock and key until he was born. Rather than announce his name aloud, Jacqueline told her mother and sister to find the newborn gown with his name stitched on it that she had folded into his top drawer so that she could dress him. I ran after them to the nursery to watch them scramble through his clothing to find this little treasure.
Shortly after Roscoe’s birth the family was called and invited to come meet him. The aroma of adobo chicken that Vanessa and Stacy had been preparing wafted upstairs as the family prepared to celebrate with champagne and a meal. Jacqueline’s grandparents just so happened to be visiting the area from Hawaii, yet another way in which Roscoe’s timing was perfect. Andy’s parents and grandmother came as well and Roscoe was surrounded by a flock of admirers who passed him around, snapped pictures, and congratulated the new parents. It was very emotional.
The family was there to witness Roscoe’s first exam and place bets on how much he weighed. Check out that little foot hanging out of the baby sack, he came in at 7lbs, 2oz…
As you can see Roscoe has just a few fans:
The most amazing thing about a newborn is how they change in appearance from minute to minute and hour to hour. Stay tuned for more photos of baby Roscoe as he grows, I’m so excited to take photos of him and his family over his first year! Congratulations to Jacqueline and Andy on the healthy birth of their beautiful son, Roscoe Ellis Hopper, and thank you a million times for inviting me to be part of such and intimate and life changing experience.