Hey, guys! Happy 2023! I’ve missed connecting with you all. It’s hard to believe it has been 8 months since my last blog post. I’ve been deep in the portal of all things motherhood, soaking up all of the precious baby snuggles and prioritizing being completely present with my family. I’m so excited to share my son’s birth story with you today. It was truly the most empowering day of my entire life. Giving birth at home in water was such a monumental experience for me. It expanded my perspective around birth in such a big way.
My intention for sharing this blog is to shed light on how powerful and beautiful birth can really be. If you need a sign to trust your intuition more, I hope this story is it.
Up until I was about 20 weeks pregnant, I was planning on giving birth at a stand alone birthing center in Nashville, TN. It felt like the safe choice and the next best thing since my husband and I did the hospital/birthing center route the first time. I went into this pregnancy being very intentional about what I wanted. I shared with my birth team that I wanted a “peaceful, unmedicated, in water, hands-off birth experience.” To say I was specific is an understatement, lol.
The appointments started off great, but at around my 20-week well visit appointment, the energy in the room changed.
COVID is still a thing, after all.
Without going into too much detail, I didn’t feel seen in my choice to have an unmedicated, peaceful, hands-off water birth. And deep down, I no longer felt supported, safe, or like I could trust this place to have my best interests at heart. At around my 30-week well-visit appointment, my intuition got so loud I couldn’t ignore it. I knew I had to dig deep and make a powerful choice. Fall back into what’s “convenient and normal” knowing I’d be completely ignoring myself, or take a huge leap of faith and follow my intuition.
After a long conversation with my husband about it and many prayers later, I decided to replace my fear for faith, listen to my intuition, and explore the possibility of having a home birth instead.
I called Natasha Hilton, my doula, and told her where we stood on the birthing center. She offered to call Mary Anne Richardson, the home birth midwife that delivered THREE of her babies at home, to see if she was available. Mary Anne is an extremely trusted midwife in Nashville TN, and she books out months, if not a year in advance, so I kept my expectations very low.
Within 20 minutes or so, Natasha called me back to let me know that Mary Anne just had a cancellation and that she had ONE spot open for the month of April…which was my guess date month. My guess date was April 24th, 2022. My heart was racing at this point. Mary Anne having an opening in her schedule just does NOT happen, so I honestly felt like this was a sign and God answering a prayer.
I got in touch with Mary Anne immediately and set up our first meeting. During our meeting, Mary Anne made me feel seen and supported. She was extremely knowledgeable about everything and very professional. No fluff, and to the point, which was exactly what we hoped for being this late in my pregnancy. There wasn’t a question we had that she couldn’t answer on the spot, with research to back it up. My husband and I were so impressed by her and booked her the very next day.
I should also share here that Mary Anne only agreed to take me on as a client because I checked all of the boxes for a safe and healthy home birth. I had to send her all of my medical records before she would even agree to see me. So even though this was a late decision, it was still a very safe decision for everyone involved.
We had about 10 weeks to get ready. It was busy, but it was also very exciting. There’s just something so energizing about trusting yourself, having faith, and making choices that feel in alignment!
My team was so on top of everything. I felt extremely supported and prepared going into my home birth.
Something that helped me prepare mentally was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book. I read powerful birth stories out of it every single night and then I would spend 30 minutes before bed meditating & visualizing the home birth experience that I wanted to have.
“When your intuition really wants you to do something, but at the same time you feel super scared to do it…you know you are about to make a powerful decision.”Mastin Kipp
On the afternoon of April 21st 2022, I started to see signs of labor coming on, but no real pressure waves (aka contractions) had actually started yet. I made myself a pre-labor smoothie, did some light yoga, put meditation music on, and did a variety of breathing exercises to get my body and mind ready.
Within a couple of hours, I had bloody show and lost what seemed like my mucus plug all at the same time. I called Mary Anne and her exact words were “great!,” which was a huge relief because I was a little worried about the blood.
Before I went to bed that night, I remember feeling really hot and uncomfortable. My husband joked, “I bet you’re about to go into labor” and then ironically enough, Lucius (my cat) started to act really funny as well, which was the case the last time I was about to go into labor. Lucius slept by my side all night long, and sure enough, I went into labor at 5:30am the very next morning, on Earth Day! Synchronicities were everywhere leading up to this day, so much so, that when I actually went into labor, I felt extremely calm and connected to something way bigger than myself. God, the universe, my mother in heaven, my spirit guides…the presence was there, and it was beautiful.
It was a bright and sunny Friday morning. There was a birds nest right outside of our window, and all you could hear was baby birds chirping away in the background. It sounded like something off of a meditation track. I just kept thinking “how perfect is this!” The pressure waves started off slow and steady. They were subtle enough that I could doze on and off. This lasted for about an hour.
Around 6:30am, I got out of bed and made cookies for the birth team. My husband got our daughter ready for the day, and called our birth team to let them know that labor had started. Every hour that went by, the waves got more intense. My birth team arrived and I was still able to have a conversation, but not for long. I started off sitting on my bed, but then moved to the birth ball. This helped so much with the pain. Natasha read empowering affirmations out loud to me, while Mary Anne guided me to take cleansing breaths after each wave. They held space for me, and did whatever they could to make me feel comfortable every step of the way.
Another hour passed and the waves were very consistent. They were about 5 minutes apart, and lasting longer and longer. To progress labor, I walked around my house and walked up my stairs with Natasha taking breaks as needed during waves. This was just the trick because as soon as I got back down the stairs, Natasha helped me immediately get back to my birth ball. After a few very intense rounds of pressure waves, it was time to get in my bathtub. The pressure waves were about 2 minutes apart at this point.
Crystals, stones, birthing affirmations, and notes from family members were all around me. The energy was peaceful. Every crystal and every stone had meaning. The affirmations were there to inspire and empower me in moments of exhaustion. Meditation music was playing in the background and my birth team was setting up to support me giving birth. It was serene and just like how I envisioned it.
I felt strong and safe. I felt calm and excited.
The second that I got into the water, I felt instantly relaxed as if my body just knew this was exactly what I needed. It was around 10:30am at this point. Natasha poured warm water on my stomach during the pressure waves, which helped so much with the pain. My husband was an angel through it all, making sure I was doing good, taking care of anything and everything that would come up.
I stayed on my back for a while. When my mind would wander off, I would focus on my breath and on the music, and I could drift off and relax. When I started paying attention to what was going on around me, I noticed myself getting tense and fixating on certain thoughts. The more I let go, the deeper Ethan got. I could feel him getting lower and lower. I decided to move positions and when I got on my hands and knees, my water broke. There was some meconium present, but not enough to cause worry.
My birth team had me get out of the bathtub as they drained it and refilled it with fresh water. My legs were shaking. I was nauseous, hot, and sweaty. I felt like I was experiencing an altered state of consciousness. It was intense. My husband and birth team was so encouraging. I could barely stand up during the pressure waves at this point. My whole body was working to get Ethan in my arms. I never felt the urge to push, but I knew Ethan was so close…
As soon as the tub was refilled, I got back in. I asked Mary Anne to check my cervix, and when she did, she could feel his head. It was time to push.
Mary Anne and my team got ready. Josh held my hand and Natasha was right beside him. Mary Anne was leaning over the bathtub, putting a little bit of pressure on my perineum while she was instructing me to push. After 2 very slow and steady pushes, Ethan was almost out. For the last push, Mary Anne guided me so that I could catch Ethan. I was calm, focused, and ready.
At 1:29pm, our world was forever changed.
I pushed one last time and Ethan Sage Backman was home. While I was bringing him to my chest, his big beautiful blue eyes opened softly while he was still underwater, and our eyes locked. In that moment, it’s like time stood completely still.
I brought him to my chest and held him so tight. Ethan was safe and in my arms. I was ecstatic. The connection between us was instant and overwhelming. My husband and I were in complete awe over him, and amazed at what just happened. Within seconds, Ethan cried for the very first time.
My placenta detached almost immediately. I pushed once and Mary Anne delivered my placenta in the bathtub. It was so quick! Shortly after that, my midwife and birth team helped me get out of the water and to the bed.
I felt invigorated. I could stand up and walk. The saying “birth high” was 100% my reality. I had so much energy it was WILD. I remember thinking to myself, wow, birth can be beautiful, transformative, euphoric, and powerful. It can be what your dreams are made of.
It felt like such a surreal experience to be in my own bed at home healing, snuggling up with my baby, breastfeeding him, taking in all the sacred moments with my husband surrounded by support and love. I was so proud of everyone. I kept thinking “we did it!” I was on cloud nine!
After I got settled in bed, Mary Anne checked me for tearing and assessed my bleeding. I had no tearing, but I did end up losing a lot of blood which resulted in a postpartum hemorrhage. When Mary Anne told me this, I remember thinking there was absolutely no way because of how good I felt, but I learned that you can feel good and still hemorrhage. Mary Anne controlled the situation by massaging my stomach to stimulate uterine contractions. A few blood clots came out when she did that and the bleeding subsided fairly quickly. Mary Anne’s approach was gentle and holistic. She handled it with grace, confidence, and a sense of ease. She wasn’t worried, so neither was I.
Mary Anne and my husband weighed Ethan and he was a strong and healthy 9lbs on the dot, and 20 inches long. While my birth team performed a thorough newborn examination on Ethan, my husband made me a healthy vegan meal to help with recovery. The examination results were all positive, Ethan was so healthy! I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment while also being surrounded by the love of my husband and son. We were in our own little world and our world was perfect.
Once everything was cleaned up, my daughter met her baby brother for the very first time. When she saw him, it was love at first sight and for a minute we all just sat there and watched her love on him. It was the sweetest moment of my entire life.
Ethan’s birthday felt like pure magic. It felt like a dream come true. All of the stars aligned perfectly for us to have this very powerful experience together. When you peel back the layers of the last several years of my life, it’s more than obvious that I didn’t just prepare for my son’s birth in 9 months. In a lot of ways, I’ve been preparing for his birth for years, as wild as that sounds. His middle name is Sage. The Latin word for sage is “salvia”, which stems from the word heal. His full name represents wisdom, purity, health, and strength. It’s a true reflection of everything we know he is and will be.
We love him so much.
Thank you for reading my birth story.
I’m so grateful for my amazing husband who was my rock through it all, Mary Anne and her incredible team for keeping me and my son safe and for making me feel supported every step of the way, Natasha for creating such an empowering birth container for us during the whole experience, and to Danielle and Josh’s mother for helping us with our daughter. I couldn’t have had this beautiful home birth experience without them. I’m so very thankful.
My birth team’s contact is below for anyone who is local to Nashville looking for an incredible birth team!
Resources for a holistic home birth in Nashville, Tennessee
Homebirth Midwife: Mary Anne Richardson and her team at Tender Beginnings
Doula: Natasha Hilton: find her on instagram @mamabear.doula
Leave any questions or comments you have below. Stay tuned for a blog on all things postpartum.
Chelsea Backman is a proud mother, a national board certified health & wellness coach, and an entrepreneur who has turned her love for holistic health and wellness into a holistic lifestyle blog, health coaching business, and wellness brand, Hyperspective Health.
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This made me sob. Love you, proud of you. Xoxox
So deeply grateful for you Natasha! Love you!! xo