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Jenni is a second time mom that I met at a doula training class in October 2019. She was kind, sweet, thoughtful and a great listener. Two years later she was expecting again, she was looking for a doula and I had the honor of being one for her and her family.

She had a home birth with Oak Tree Birth Services of Hastings, Michigan. She gave birth and is “enjoying the sweet cuddles” from Goldie Isobel.

She did it! What a badass!

Here’s a quick overview of how she viewed the birth experience, in her own words…

“I had a great birth team that helped me talk through things to prepare. I did rainbow technique for relaxation (One of Hynobirthing’s meditation track). I also created a beautiful birth space that I didn’t get to labor in, since my labor went sooo fast. It all helped me have such a great birth experience.“

If you want to know the full birth story, keep reading! As always, all photos shared here are shared with the permission of the birthing person.

Goldie’s Birth Story

Jenni knew that it’s better to see the “due date” as a due month. When she wondered “When is THIS BABY COMING?!?!?” as her due date approached closer I reminded her “Baby will come when they are ready.” 

She was having contractions on and off here and there. The day before the due date, Jenni texted me that she had a bloody show. 

On the baby’s due date, she took the day off from work and got some groceries. It was March but the day was beautiful and sunny. Later that day, during dinner Jenni realized that her contractions had been going for a few hours. Her husband, Miles, was excited but Jenni told him to wait it out because she experienced a lot of contractions starting and stopping for the last few weeks. She was excited but thought it might go away like the others did. 

They worked on putting their 3-year-old son, Darby to bed. Then Jenni and Miles just chilled for the rest of the evening. The contractions were still coming every 10 minutes. So Jenni texted her birth team around 8:30 pm – the midwives team from Oak Tree Birth Services and doula Kristen (me) to give them an update and went to bed. Her mom came over to sleep over just in case if Jenni goes into active labor, she can care for Darby.

A few hours later…

“My contractions were still 10 mins apart but gaining in intensity. I had to get out of bed and move and breathe to get through them. At about midnight, I told Miles I needed to sleep somewhere it’s easier to get out of bed. We went downstairs (to the family room) and had calm music and the lights off.”

The contractions felt like “period cramps with backache. They were exactly what I remembered. Movement and breathing helped me get through them.”

“Around 1 am, I woke Miles up and told him they were super intense. We started to time them and they were about 5 mins apart. We called our team to come. We went upstairs to prepare our birth area. I took a shower to help with the pain. Then after I got out my water broke in the dining room. 

Jenni made a banner of birth affirmations in her birth space.

While they were waiting for their team to arrive, they worked on making a birthday cake for Goldie. It was a funny challenge because when the contractions were happening, she stopped, bent over the kitchen counter. (At a prior prenatal appointment, I had suggested making a birthday cake as an activity during early or active labor. )

The midwives and doula arrived. Jenni went to the living room and never left. 

Jenni was on her hands and knees, swaying and moaning through the contractions. 

Midwife Jenn Seif did a cervical check and said that she was 8cm and 0 station. Jenni said “YES! It’s so intense.” She was so pleased to know that she was so close to meeting Goldie. 

There was a moment that things got so intense that she “thought I didn’t think I could do it.” But Miles, her midwives team of three, and doula surrounded her and breathed with her. She “felt completely comfortable and supported during the most vulnerable and magical moment of my life.“

Jenni really wanted a water birth so the midwives team was working on filling the birth pool in the dining room. She was rocking back and forth, side to side on her hands and knees on the living room floor. Miles and her doula were next to her. Miles was her rock and encouraged her. He put his hand on her to let her know that he was not leaving her. 

She asked Jenn questions about pushing. But she wasn’t ready to push. So she was on her hands and knees a little longer and moaning. She wanted to wait until the pool was ready. But she wasn’t sure if she could wait much longer.

Then Jenni felt the fetal ejection response start. “I need to push.” She told everyone that her baby was coming. So the midwives team stopped filling the birth pool and went to Jenni. Midwife Jenn reassured her and told her to listen to her body. 

Jenn told her that baby Goldie was crowning and asked if Jenni wanted to touch her. She reached down and felt her head. 

Her team coached through pushing her the rest of the way. She only pushed for 10 minutes. Then at 3:34 am, Goldie was born and Jenni reached between her legs and “brought her to my chest. I felt so much relief and sheer love.” 

She took a breath, looked at her husband and looked around. Then she said “I love you all!” Everyone laughed.

“I felt so happy and relieved that she was healthy and so was I. I had some disappointment that we didn’t have a water birth but I honestly felt like my birth was perfect everything went soo good. Miles cried and I could tell he felt soo happy and relieved.”

Her mom woke up and was overjoyed to meet her granddaughter. Jenni even gave her the honor of cutting Goldie’s umbilical cord. 

After some skin-to-skin and breastfeeding time, Jenn weighed the baby.

Jenni told me later that when she was pregnant she felt huge and uncomfortable and said “THIS BABY BETTER BE 9 LBS!” VOLIA!

Goldie was 9.1 pounds and 21 ¼ inches long! Jenni felt relieved and vindicated. Then the midwife team did the newborn assessments and Goldie did great! 

Midwife Jen Seif weighting the baby.
Midwife Assistant Samantha Mehaffey was doing the newborn exams

After the midwives helped Jenni to go to the bathroom, she went back on the couch and snuggled with Goldie while the midwife team was emptying the birth pool and cleaning up. The midwife team gave Jenn aftercare instructions and said they would be back to do an in-home follow up visit in a day or two. The midwives team left shortly after that. Doula left a little after that. 

Jenni nursing Goldie.

Jenni, Miles and Goldie enjoyed the newborn snuggles and rested. Then the sun rose and the sleepy Darby woke up and met his baby sister. He offered her toys to play with. “It was very sweet,” said Jenni.

Thank you Jenni for sharing your birth story! Thank you for the honor of supporting you and your family as a birth doula. Not only that. Thanks for the honor of me documenting what a badass you are as a birth photographer.

If you’re interested in having your birth story documented, reach out today! I’m filling up for 2022 and 2023.

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Location: Homebirth in Kalamazoo, MI
Doula & Birth Photographer: Kristen Schell (me)
Midwives: Oak Tree Birth Services with Jenn Seif, CPM, LM, and assistant midwives Laurie Vance and Samantha Mehaffey.