“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. “ John 14:27
This is my third homebirth story, and I continually thank and praise the Lord for a safe delivery and such an amazing experience. Labor and delivery with Violet felt very different from my other two labors. I believe it was my most peaceful and gentle birth experience yet. I know that the Lord was my shield and strength. For the first time I felt that I truly let the Lord control and direct my steps in labor. I felt His presence and His grace more acutely than I had in my previously births. Birth is so much more than just bringing a baby into the world, something happens to the mother too, and here is our story…
I was 39 weeks pregnant when my labor started and I was very tired just from everyday living and having a 3 and 2 year old in tow. I had been mentally preparing myself in case I went over my due date or even into my 41st week of pregnancy. I had given birth to my other two children at 40 weeks and 5 days. It’s very hard to let labor start spontaneously, but it’s definitely easier when it does start on its own, and I know for sure that the baby is ready to come out! So at 39 weeks I was thinking I might still have a while to go. I had more nesting to do, more birth books I was planning to read. Thankfully, my husband had been reminding me throughout my third trimester to really focus on my spiritual life, not just on all the physical and emotional preparation before the birth. He continually reminded me that a real peace and preparation would come from my personal everyday walk with God. This encouragement definitely stuck with me. As a family, our prayers over the baby had gone something like this, “Lord, we pray for a peaceful and gentle birth for baby. That you will deliver this baby safely from the womb, in your perfect timing Lord, not ours. We thank you for a peace for Julie and strength and grace to endure labor.” Looking back on my labor story I can truly see how the Lord answered our prayers for not only a safe delivery, but a more peaceful and gentle labor and birth for our baby!
Our homebirth supplies
I woke up a little after midnight on Monday morning, January 21st, with a real contraction. It was more intense than Braxton Hicks contractions and the crampy pelvic pressure that I’d had all the day before on Sunday. It was a slow, mild contraction that rose up from pelvis to the top of the uterus and back down again. I was encouraged to feel it actually! I had wondered when I’d start some good pre-labor contractions. I had those for a week before my son had been born. I had been mentally preparing myself for 9 months that I might have a long pre-labor, like with my other two children, and have a few days of early labor, and then finally have my baby. I was thinking my pattern would be similar to those of my first two birth experiences (both of which were at home). So I was excited to feel the contraction. I had no idea that only 18 hours later (that’s short for me!) our daughter Violet would be born.
After feeling those first contractions in the night, I began to give thanks to God for each little one that would bring me closer to the birth. I was able to doze in and out of sleep. Usually, I’m not one much for sleeping through even mild contractions. I woke around six in the morning and still felt them coming about 12 minutes or more apart. I had no idea what the day would bring. I thought this was just pre-labor. I had some bloody show later that morning, and I was a bit stunned. I let myself get a little more excited. I told my children and husband that I could possibly be having early labor signs, but not to get too excited in case it wasn't true labor. Timothy and I were wavering back and forth about him going to work. I kept saying I wanted him to go, since the contractions would most likely stop once I got up and going. I fixed breakfast, and kept changing my mind about it several times over the morning, until Timothy finally said that he wanted to stay and fill up the birth pool, just in case (We rented a heated birth pool from our midwives for the third time, because I had my heart set on a waterbirth.)
I had a little more bloody show later in the morning. I decided to try and go about my day like usual. I took shower, even put on some makeup to help me feel pretty and good about myself. We timed the contractions on and off, they weren't speeding up or getting any more intense. I told Timothy later towards lunchtime to go to work for a couple of hours and I’d call him if anything happened. But of course I changed my mind about that too. I later told him to stay, and from then on he was busy tending to the children and filling up the birth pool (which takes several hours with the hose). I was getting discouraged that the contractions weren't doing a whole lot, so I decided to go outside for a walk with my family. I walked around and swayed my hips doing circular motions and bellydancing moves with each contraction outside. I squatted through several of the contractions and they were much more intense when I did that. I continued to squat as much as possible during the contractions. It felt like they were finally doing something! I started praying and singing a bit while outside too.
I realized that I needed to pray through these and thank the Lord for this early labor. Our pastor had played a worship song at the end of church service a few weeks prior and that song had been stuck in my head for a week. I had downloaded that song called “Arms Wide Open” by Misty Edwards just the night before. I kept singing the song to myself as I walked outside. Eventually I got tired of walking around and went inside. From that point, I remember the contractions were slightly more intense, enough that I started vocalizing and making low guttural sounds to help me through the contractions. I would also get on hands and knees and do pelvic rocks through some. I was pulling out every arsenal of natural labor help that I had read about or used in the past. But I felt like they weren't helping enough. I started to lose control and feel the pain through a few of the contractions. I decided I needed to sit still and rest awhile.
My inspiration board from my Blessingway
At this point, I had called my midwife early that morning and texted her throughout the day. I didn't want to have her come too early, and I didn't really want to be checked for dilation either. I felt that I would be discouraged if checked too early and I hadn't made much progress. I also prefer to early labor alone really. I decided that as soon as I felt true active labor, I’d have my friend and doula, Amanda, come over and then if things picked up I’d call my midwife to come.
I thought watching a movie with the children might help distract me some. The movies didn't distract me enough. I had called my mom to come over at this point. I just felt like I wanted her there, because I didn't know how long this was going to take and her presence there, and her help in watching the children, just gave me peace of mind as far as that goes. During the movie one contraction hit me, and I started to moan rather too loudly and vocalize a bit too much. I felt like I wasn't handling it well at all, and it was scaring me. I didn't want to have hours of moaning and feeling like this. I knew something had to change.
My "labor basket" with Scriptures, essential oils, and labor help
I changed my method. I heard a voice inside me just say, “Be still” “Don’t move.” My dear friend Amber had given me a Scripture that I wrote on the inside of my wrist. John 14:27. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” I knew that I could have a peace from Him if I only asked and trusted God. Sitting perfectly still through a couple of the contractions seemed to help. I could feel every sensation of the contraction when I did it that way. I could feel it rise up through my pelvis, go to the top of my uterus, and then gradually recede back down my belly like a wave. I thought it was so interesting to feel that sensation, and realize that it would be over if I just could ride that wave up and down, up and down, each time. We hadn't timed my contractions in a while. Timothy and I felt discouraged whenever we did, because some had been as long as 20 minutes apart earlier. By now though, I felt they were closer to 5 minutes. I texted some people to say that I thought it would still be awhile, but that they felt closer. At this point, the movie was over, and Timothy and Mom decided to take the children outside and play with them.
I found myself sitting in the living room, alone, and thought, “They just left me!” In reality I was thankful for the peace and quiet. I decided to play that song I had heard at church the week before and had downloaded the night before. Its nine minutes long, so I felt a couple of contractions through it each time I played it. I went into our dining room where I had propped up my inspiration board. The ladies who attended my Blessingway a few weeks before had made it for me. There were empowering birth phrases on it, and Scriptures. I had my friend’s card with the John 14:27 Scripture on it in front of my board, and a prayer written out beside it. I spent several contractions standing there looking at my board and listening to the music. I started to raise my hands in worship through the song, and I sang. I felt so many emotions at this point. I decided to give my despair, my tiredness, my anxiousness to God. I wept a little, crying felt good. I just poured out my heart to God, asking Him to help me through the labor and birth and to grant me the strength to do it with a heart of worship.
The words of the song meant a lot to me, not necessarily because of its birthing theme, or because it was a relaxing, calm, meditative song. The utter adoration of our Savior in the song took my mind off myself and transfixed it on my Savior, raising me above myself for the moment, and getting immersed in worship to the Lord. This is what I needed. I needed to go to a higher place above what I was going through, to affix my mind on things above, not on things below. That’s when then the peace of God came in my heart. That’s what the song did for me. The phrase in the song, “You shall love me” had a couple of layers of meaning for me. It’s what Jesus was saying on the cross (in the song) but then I was imagining the baby saying that to me, and me saying it to the baby. These were all just a powerful moments that changed the course of my labor. He strengthened me to be able to change my perspective in labor and the way in which I handled the contractions. (Lyrics are below the story)At this point, I hadn't ever been checked, I still hadn't called my midwife, and I thought that my contractions were more intense, but really had no sense of how far apart they were. After I played the song a few times, I remember feeling like I was going to faint. I have low blood pressure, so every time I feel that feeling, I tend to panic a bit. In my mind I thought finally, “I need my midwife!” I went outside and very authoritatively said to Timothy, “Call Peggy, I need her.” I came inside and texted my doula to come immediately. I felt like this signaled something. I knew that this faintish feeling wasn't a good sign, and that I might need help soon in case my blood pressure dropped. But I had a peace throughout it all really.
It’s a blur from here on. I sat on a dining room chair, staring at my birth board and my Scriptures, not saying a word to anyone, raising my hands in worship and closing my eyes through each contraction. My children thankfully never demanded my attention, or needed me at that moment. My mom quietly started preparing to take the children to her house. I was a in a zone, transfixed, distracted, just sitting, and completely silent. I needed to concentrate now.
My mom and the kids left, Timothy was busy tending to the birth pool, and I was relieved when I saw my doula come in the door. It was about 5:30 or so when she arrived. It was starting to get dark. I didn't speak a word to her; I knew she wouldn't be offended. She instinctively felt my mood and matched it. She just sat beside me, staring at me, gently asking me questions between contractions. When she saw me lift my hands in worship through a contraction, she thought I wanted her to hold my hand. I kept thinking, “She doesn't know I’m just worshiping . I can say that the most difficult part of Violet’s labor was remaining completely and utterly silent through each contraction. It’s actually one of the hardest things I’d ever done in my entire life. My doula kept saying encouraging things, phrases, praising how well I was handling the contractions, all things I needed to hear. She would say, “Rise above this” “You rose Julie, you did it, this contraction is past, now rest.” At this point in my other two labors, I had been moaning, groaning, walking around, beating the table, grabbing the collar of my husband and yanking him around. With my other two labors, I definitely felt like I lost control at the end near the transition stage, right before delivery, and it’s an awful feeling. One one we must go through to get to the end, but still a bit scary nonetheless.
My midwife and her assistant came in sometime after six pm (she was born 15-20 minutes after they got there). They were busy setting up their supplies and such. They hadn't come over to me yet. They saw that my doula was helping me, so they were giving me some space. Plus, I don’t think they knew how close I was to birthing because I wasn't making any noise whatsoever. My midwife knew me to be a very different person when in labor! In my own mind, I didn't realize how close I was to delivering either. I thought to myself, “They will check my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat soon. Then I want them to check my dilation and see if I’m past 8 or so. Then I want to get in the birth pool and have this baby!” In my mind that’s how things were going to progress, and I thought I would see my baby in a few hours or less!
Timothy sat down near me after my midwife got there and told me he had eaten a sandwich. This is an inside joke for us, because when I was in heavy active labor, and close to delivering my son, he ate a sandwich right in front of me! I later told him I thought he had a lot of gall to do that while I was just about to have a baby! He had said at the time that he knew I was getting close to birthing my son and that he needed to hurry up and eat! So at Violet’s labor, when he sat down and told me he ate a sandwich because he knew I was close to end, I had a good laugh for the first time that entire day. The smile on his face, the sweetness in his eyes, they melted me and gave me strength too.
Things were going ok at this point, I felt like I could handle the contractions with my doula’s help and through being completely still and silent and worshiping Then, my doula suggested I go the bathroom and empty my bladder. I refused. I’m not sure I said it, but I thought, “No, I don’t want to”. I was very childish at this point. I told her I have to sit, or else I can’t handle the contractions. She finally convinced me that I had to, and I did want to get checked in the bedroom anyways, so I figured I’d have to brave the trip from the dining room to the bathroom. With my other labors I had felt instinctively the need to move, run, and get away from the pain. With this labor though, I felt that all I wanted to do was sit, and not move, EVER. I had a contraction by the time I got to the kitchen and it just completely overpowered me! I still was silent, but this one, this contraction, was way too intense. I thought to myself, “See they are too hard for me when I stand up, I MUST SIT DOWN.”I walked slowly to the bathroom and when I hit the doorway of the bathroom, I saw my midwife in there. I looked in the mirror and I was completely white. I was going through a contraction and thought that I was going to faint. I thought to myself that I might faint right here and go the hospital, or I’m about to die. These are very real feelings, and it still hadn't hit me that I was actually in transition and that I had thought those same thoughts right before the pushing stage with my others. I had no idea that my baby would be born in just under 10 minutes from when I thought those things (you’d think with a third baby I’d realize when I’d be in transition stage!). I finally made it to the toilet, sat down, and felt like I needed to push something out. I gently pushed and it felt weird. I felt myself instinctively and noticed a smooth substance. I immediately knew what it was. I had felt the amniotic sac coming during my first labor and knew that the water bag was descending now too. I told my midwife, “The baby is coming!!!!”
It’s such a blur from here. My thoughts went something like this, “I can’t believe baby is coming, right now, right here, in the bathroom!” My midwife told me to stand up, and I had a contraction at that moment that scared me. I screamed for the first time the entire labor, and I didn't even know why I screamed. My body was actually pushing the baby out for me. My husband and the midwife’s assistant were all in the bathroom within a minute. My doula held me up on my right, my husband held me on my left, I stood in front of the toilet, and my midwife struggled to get my pants all the way down (She never did have time to get them off, I found out you can have a baby with your pants around your ankles!) The next contraction happened and the baby descended even more. I hadn't even consciously pushed yet. I asked my midwife to tell me what was happening (I was standing up and couldn't see myself.) She told me the baby was crowning. I gave a conscious push. It was so weak and painful that I decided not to push anymore. I felt the ring of fire for the first time in a labor (I had pushed through most of the sensations of delivery with my other two) and it didn't hurt really, I just remembering feeling it, and knowing what it was!
I felt myself stretch further as a contraction pushed the baby out. My midwife told me the head was out. I consciously pushed again, but that hurt tremendously, and I again decided to not push anymore. It was like slow motion, I felt the shoulders turning, the push out of the shoulders, and the slipperiness of the rest of the body as my daughter was born. I saw my midwife catch her, and I noticed she seemed to have something that looked like a helmet on her head. I immediately knew what it was! My daughter was born with the caul! Her amniotic sac had not broken completely and it was still intact around her head for a few moments after she was born. In other cultures, this is a sign of good fortune or blessing to be born with the caul. I knew this was something special indeed! My midwife yelled for an amnio hook, but the bag broke on it’s own. I was frozen in time. I sat on the toilet, held my baby in my arms and was stunned, not saying a word. I could not believe that I had just had my baby, so quickly, and in the bathroom! The last place I expected! Oh, what a feeling! I was absolutely giddy to see this baby! I saw the vernix all over her. I felt the warm, slippery skin, saw her scrunched up face, her incredible head of hair, all matted down with fluid. I heard her cries, and noticed that they didn't even have to suction her. She pooped all over my arm, and I didn't even care! And finally Timothy awoke me from my observations and told me she was a girl. I saw his face, looked down at her, and started to giggle and snicker uncontrollably, I was so happy. I was almost hyperventilating I was so elated at the entire event. Everyone started laughing with me, or at me, not sure which! My midwife told me later it was a total of five minutes from the time I had told her the baby is coming to the time she was actually born.
Nursing Violet for the first time
The bathroom wasn't a bad place to give birth, less mess, as it all went in the toilet! I held Violet all the while and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing, and Timothy cut it. They helped me walk back to our bedroom so that I could deliver the placenta and start nursing Violet. Only Timothy and I had held her up to this point. It’s so precious that we had undisturbed holding time with her for at least a half hour, with our midwife and assistant gently checking respiration and temperature while I held her. I latched her on and she just nursed and nursed for what seemed like a long time.
I think he was proud of us!
My midwife Peggy
My midwife's assistant Miriam, and midwife Mayanne
I finally took her off so that our midwife could do the newborn exam. She was perfect! She was my smallest baby with a 14 in head and 8 # 14 oz. and 21 inches long. I realized she was smaller than Claire by two ounces and Wesley by over half a pound! This was my first labor in that I didn't tear enough to need stitches. It’s incredible!
8# 14 oz. 21 inches!
Daddy and Violet
We give all glory to God for the way in which He strengthened and sustained us through the pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum with our new daughter. I'm so grateful for all those involved in the birth and those who prayed and interceded for me while in labor. The Lord taught me so much during this whole experience. I give Him the glory, He definitely brought me to a whole new level of trust with Him. Worship was the key. He is the one who created me to do this important job, and He not only equips, He provides! The Lord answered our prayers, blessed us beyond measure, and gave us the joy of bringing forth a new human being into the world. We love you Violet Annelisa Beahm!
My Labor Song
"What does love look like?" is the question I've been
"What does love look like?"
"What does love look like?" is the question I've been
Asking of You
I once believed that love was romance, just a chance
I even thought that love was for the lucky and the
I once believed that love was a momentary bliss
But love is more than this
All You ever wanted was my attention
All You ever wanted was love from me
All You ever wanted was my affections, to sit here at
Then I sat down, a little frustrated and confused
If all of life comes down to love
Then love has to be more than sentiment
More than selfishness and selfish gain
And then I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at
I saw Him there, hanging on a tree, looking at me
He was looking at me, looking at Him, staring through
I could not escape those beautiful eyes
And I began to weep and weep
He had arms wide open, a heart exposed
Arms wide open; He was bleeding, bleeding
Love's definition, love's definition was looking at me
Looking at Him, hanging on a tree
I began to weep and weep and weep and weep
This is how I know what love is, this is how I know
What love is
And as I sat there weeping, crying
Those beautiful eyes, full of desire and love
He said to me, "You shall love Me, You shall love Me
You shall love Me, You shall love Me"
With arms wide open, a heart exposed
With arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding
If anybody's looking for love in all the wrong places
If you've been searching for love, come to Me, come to
Take up your cross, deny yourself
Forget your father's house and run, run with Me
You were made for abandonment, wholeheartedness
You were made for someone greater, someone bigger, so
And You'll come alive when you learn to die