September 17, 2019

Giving Birth at Home | Motherhood Monday

“God doesn’t ordain our pain so we can pat ourselves on the back. Fertility struggles, marital stress, pregnancy and labor, adoption complications, the struggle of being a sinner who is raising sinners in a fallen world—even when our eyes are blurry with tears, we see with eyes of faith that God has purposed our suffering to produce an incomparably glorious outcome. When we undergo light and momentary affliction in our mothering, then we see it for what it is—a reminder to look to the unseen.
Birth is not about us, but about God.”

— Gloria Furman, Labor with Hope
While there is no nudity shown in my images, be warned that there are some raw images from the birth below.

I want to begin this story with admiration for you, my reader. Maybe you know what it’s like to birth a baby out from your physical body; maybe you don’t. Maybe this is something you long for with all your heart, or maybe you don’t. Whether you choose to have kids (C-section, with epidural, at home or at the hospital), adopt, foster —whatever the case, please know that what you decide to do is nothing short of a miracle. For us, having a home birth was the best decision since I qualified for it. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of pelvic rest moments because I would over do it with work and chasing a toddler. But if there was ever a point of concern, a hospital birth would’ve been my second option and I was totally fine with that.
You can read about how I prepared for this birth here.

The Birth

After walking Disney and a mall in the span of 3 days, I started having contractions on week 40, day 3. My midwife had encouraged me to set the date closer to 41/42 weeks since I went so long with my first. Each body has a pattern and mine seems to be pass the due dates, like most women. But at midnight of week 40/day 3, I was so uncomfortable with what I thought were Braxton hicks. I could not lay down and the only comfortable position was on the birth ball, letting my arms rest on top of it. Two hours passed before I woke up Louis and told him to call the midwife because I WAS IN LABOR. I texted 3 of my close friends who had planned to attend as well. By 4am, the midwife arrived and I was at 5cm! Woohoo. I was halfway there. I was hoping to have the baby by 8am, because I like to set unrealistic expectations for no reason.

By 6am, I was at 10cm and I decided to get in the water tub. The relief was instant. So much so, that I was falling asleep in between contractions. By this point, everyone had arrived. By 8am, baby was still cozy inside. I made the call to get out of the tub at that point. Alana had woken up by then and was very emotional. She was anxious and worried about me so Louis decided to take her to our neighbor’s (who are also our pastors) and they kept her entertained for most of the day. It was such a God thing since school was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian so she had friends to play with. I had wanted Alana to be around for the birth but because of her age, we played it by ear. Some kids aren’t phased by it but ours was.

At about 11am, Louis and I decided that my water needed to be broken. I was still at 10cm but I couldn’t push baby since contractions were about 10-12 min apart. The intensity of the contractions were at their highest. The midwife team was accommodating to anything and everything I wanted—from snacking to drinking, they told me to listen to my body and do as I felt I needed to do. So they broke my water, and then it was go time. Contractions came close together and I was finally seeing the end to the pain. I recall the transition phase clearly because I was thinking how I couldn’t push the baby out. In my mind, I was going to ask them to take me to the hospital and give me a C-section. I didn’t think I could take anymore contractions. But I pushed through because I knew I could do it. For some reason, I could not breathe/stay on top of the contractions this time around. Hypnobirthing did not help to stay on top of the wave. Determination & prayers to get the baby out took over and after 5 pushes, baby Holstein was in my arms. I squatted and gave birth to her as my body felt right. Louis held my arms as each contraction wave brought us to that amazing moment when baby emerged! I could not have done it without him, my partner in crime. We did it together.

I think the oxytocin and adrenaline had me saying some jokes in between because I remember laughter through the room. I remember saying, “wow I look great!” right after I had delivered because my stomach went completely flat. I was all baby! I bonded with our baby, breastfed her moments after and tears were overflowing all over the room. I had completely forgotten to look or ask about the gender because I was filled with so much emotion and happiness. In that moment, the midwife said, “Louis, are you going to say what you had?” and Louis said, “Oh yeah, we had a girl!”. I was shocked and relieved at the same time. Shocked because the pregnancy was completely different from the first pregnancy; relieved because as I was pushing her out, I could only imagine her as a girl. The girl name kept popping up in my head and it’s like my body knew it all along. I have to give credit to my two year old who always answered “baby sister” when asked about what I was having. God gave us two girls, two best friends in the making, sisters who need each other more than I can imagine.

I see the images above and part of me wants to apologize that my hair bun was falling out, that I somehow didn’t look more glamourous. And yet, I cannot apologize for the honest portrait of birth. It’s hard labor. It’s not perfect. There’s something so primal and beautiful about giving life, something I share with women all over the world and from previous generations. I see these photos and I am reminded how there is no limit to what I can do. Fear can’t hold me back, not even self-limiting beliefs. It was truly like God gave me supernatural strength to accomplish my goal. Louis claims this since I was grabbing his arms and he says it hurt him a lot. He believes it was supernatural strength.

The Name
Rane Elisabeth means God of Abundance/Wisdom. We are honoring my talented soul sister Ranemade, our grandmothers who have the middle name Elizabeth and two women of faith who have shaped me and are no longer with us: Elisabeth Elliot and Elisabeth Effinger. My hope is that Rane Elisabeth will be a woman of bold faith, who uses her talents for the glory of God.

Ashley Holstein Photography_Lakeland Florida Photographer_Wedding Photography_0068.jpg

Ashley Holstein Photography_Lakeland Florida Photographer_Wedding Photography_0069.jpg

Ashley Holstein Photography_Lakeland Florida Photographer_Wedding Photography_0067.jpg

Special thanks to my mom who took these photos of me and Rane. She’s been a rockstar helping me around the house so I can focus on my precious girls. Gracias Mamí!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says:

    Beautiful Ashley! Thank you for sharing such a special moment. Seeing your moment gives me courage and excitement for my moment. I can’t wait until I meet my baby boy! <3 The Saxenas

  2. says:

    I love this so much <3 Thanks for sharing.

  3. says:

    Trying not to sob cry in public as I read this. I know I will revisit it again for courage and strength. So, so proud of you and inspired by the amazing, brave woman that you are. In wonder and awe of God’s ways. Praying for my own empowering birth story to share when Baby Murray arrives. Que Dios haz Su voluntad. ❤️ Te quiero, hermana! -Brisni

  4. says:

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing !!! From the moment I met you (and Louis) you guys have my heart!!!! You are empowered by your faith and by each other!!! Love for your art and how it speaks to you is amazing. Many many blessings on the children you currently have and if you have any more planned in your future- God is Good !!!!!

  5. says:

    Beautiful all around- beautiful momma, beautiful birth story, beautiful name and beautiful new baby! This precious child is so loved already and so blessed to have the family she has! god is so good isn’t He.
    Can’t wait to meet Rane! Take good care of yourself Ashley!

  6. Your Loving Cousin says:

    I love this quote from you. “Fear can’t hold me back, not even self-limiting beliefs. It was truly like God gave me supernatural strength to accomplish my goal.” It wasn’t “like” that though because it WAS absolutely the Lord. He never brings us to anything that we can’t handle which of course you know but sometimes when we are going through a difficult circumstance we can stray from that belief for a brief moment. I love how honest you were about the thoughts that went through your mind about possibly going to the hospital but you stayed true to the home birth which was something you and Louis truly believed in doing. I’m sure you prayed about it a lot and the Lord came through right when you needed Him just like always.
    Through determination and prayers we truly can get through anything and you are a living example of that and I’m so proud of you and Louis for sharing this and being so encouraging and an inspiration to others.
    Love you all so much!! 💕🙏🏽

  7. says:

    You are a very brave girl becuase do it at home birth is a very beautiful but also a very stressful you have your good people around you and the experience of the prior pregnancy so you can do that because you have the strength. Gold bless you and your new baby is a new beginning. Love you. Att Maria Vargas

  8. says:

    Currently praying for your family and for no one to walk into my office because you have me in the happiest of tears.

  9. Jennifer says:

    This was so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your birth story. It’s so raw and powerful. It’s also nothing short of miraculous. God is amazing. She’s beautiful. Congratulations!!

  10. says:

    Thank you for sharing Ashley such a beautiful moment. I admire you and feel very proud of the strong, talented and spiritual woman that you have become. Congratulations to the family and blessings.