My Sister Delivered My Baby


My Sister Delivered My BabyDisclaimer: This is a retelling of my personal experience and should in no way inform your medical decisions. I respect each woman’s personal birth experience. While no two stories are the same, they each hold beauty and value. I also believe every woman has the basic right to birth the way she chooses, where she chooses. This is my home birth story.  

If you would’ve told me even three years ago that my second baby would be born in my bathtub, my jaw would’ve hit the floor. But things change. 

My first child was born in the hospital by means of a (mostly) straightforward, typical medicated delivery. She was healthy and didn’t need any special interventions. All things considered, it was a generally positive experience, and it was special in its own right, but there were a few things that stuck with me that were less than ideal. While I welcomed the relief provided by an epidural, it led me to feeling completely disconnected from my body and sort-of drugged out. I couldn’t feel my contractions and had to rely on my nurses to tell me when to push. I pushed on my back and I felt like my head was going to blow off. I actually asked my husband if that was possible. In hindsight, I worked against my body, instead of with it. Secondly, I suffered a 4th degree tear, which required a surgical repair and significant time to heal. I’ve since learned that I am very lucky to not have lasting complications from this injury. And on a lesser note, I didn’t enjoy staying in the hospital two nights after birth (and neither did my husband). We were eager to get home.

I didn’t think too deeply about my first birth experience until I became pregnant with my second child. For many reasons, I knew I wanted to pursue an unmedicated delivery the second time around. Foremost, I wanted to feel the progression of labor so I could intuitively work with and respond to my body and baby. This desire and other factors led me to pursuing a home birth. While I won’t elaborate more here, I will say that my husband and I made this decision with much thoughtfulness, prayer, education, preparation, and support from our providers. We established a birth team that consisted of our midwife and support staff, a doula, and my younger sister. We only shared our plans with a handful of people, as we did not want to field questions or carry the weight of other’s opinions. 

So, let’s get to it. The timeline went like this:

12 PM: It’s a Friday and I’m 39 weeks and 6 days. I take PTO to give myself mental space to allow baby to enter the world. I start feeling what I think are “minor” or even “pseudo” contractions. We inform my sister so she can be on standby. We are hopeful she can manage our 15-month-old when the time comes. 

1:30 PM: I text my doula, “Ok, well…I might be having some beginning contractions. They aren’t super strong, or long. About 7-8 min apart and 40 sec on average.” I follow-up with, “I feel like I keep getting faked out this pregnancy so I’m not even sure I believe these are real.” She tells me she is going to take a nap in case we have a party later. 

2:00 PM: I unknowingly take my last bump picture and I lay down and rest. 

4:30 PM: I let my doula know things are about the same. My sister moves up her dinner reservation and heads to our house, just in case. 

5:00 PM: We play outside with my daughter and neighbors. Contractions are still 7-8 minutes apart, but I can walk through them. I’m in denial that anything significant is taking place. 

6:30 PM: We start bedtime for our daughter and put her to sleep for the night. 

7:00 PM: My husband, my sister, and I binge a few episodes of Daisy Jones & The Six. I’m beginning to get uncomfortable and don’t want to sit down. I bounce a little on my exercise ball. I can feel my contractions are intensifying, but I am mentally committed to a long road ahead and refuse to admit labor is imminent. I put on my poker face and hang with the family, business as usual. 

8:30 PM: I start getting ready for bed. I want to try and get some sleep in case baby decides to come tonight. I text my doula and tell her “I’ll see you sometime!” She lets me know she is ready to come at any time. I just have to give her the OK…but I don’t. I’m afraid to give a false alarm. 

9:00 PM: I can’t get comfortable, so my husband texts our doula and says, “Intensity picking up slightly but frequency staying the same. Little nausea. Doing fine between contractions.” 

9:15 PM: I tell my sister and husband I think my contractions are about six minutes apart. I tell my husband to blow up the birth pool, just in case. 

9:20 PM: I get in the shower for some relief. I take my birth ball with me and hug it while the water hits my back. I’m kneeling on a gardening pad (a tip passed down from a home birth friend).

9:30 PM: My sister takes a happy and calm home video of my husband blowing up the birth pool. They are both nonchalant about the whole situation, seemingly oblivious to the fact that I’m in labor in the other room. We are all in denial.

9:40 PM: My sister can tell something has changed. It looks like I’m really in labor. She times my contractions, and they are two minutes apart. I finally admit to myself that I am in active labor. My husband alerts our birth team. My doula and midwife are enroute, each 15-20 minutes away. We still think we have time. 

9:50 PM: I’m laboring in the shower, on my garden kneeling pad. I focus on getting through each contraction. They are coming faster and harder now. They last longer. But I tell myself it’s like running sprint workouts on the track. It’s uncomfortable, but I breathe through it and kick my mental toughness up a notch. My husband and sister are in the bathroom with me; my husband is on the phone with our providers, answering questions and giving a play-by-play as they drive to us. My sister is kneeling down next to the tub, encouraging me. 

9:50 – 9:55 PM: My body begins to involuntarily push. I can’t stop it. I ask my sister, “Is this normal?” She calmly and confidently tells me it is and that I am doing great (in hindsight, she reports that she actually had no idea). 

9:55 PM: I intuitively move to a squatting position. The pressure is intense, but I’m not really thinking, just doing. On involuntary push number three, my baby enters the world! My sister catches him like a pro and together, we bring him to my chest. My husband is right there too, on speaker phone with our doula. At this very moment, her headlights shine through the window. Baby begins to cry. I look up and say, “Thank you, God!” 

9:56 PM: My doula enters the room (midwife still on the way). I’m standing in the shower, holding my baby, with the water running. We are all kind of frozen. She turns off the water and places a towel over us. We move to our bed. 

9:56 PM – 4 AM: My midwife and support staff arrive shortly after and provide all of the necessary medical checks and aftercare, for baby and me. We are both doing considerably well! In the comfort of our home, we name our son. 

7:30 AM: My daughter wakes up and we say, “Surprise! You have a brother!” We introduce our children to one another. 

Over the next few days: Our midwife and doula provide multiple visits for follow-up care and support us as we transition to a family of four!

So yes, my sister delivered my baby! I believe it happened just the way it was supposed to happen, and I am so incredibly thankful for our healthy son, and the wild, empowering experience of this birth. But next time, I’ll make sure to call the midwife at the first sign of labor!


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