Jemma Jolie’s Home Birth Story

Our beautiful Jemma Jolie Joubert was born via home birth on Thursday, April 26th at 9:41 am after only about five hours of active labor. (You can watch the censored version of our birth video above!)

However, it all started that Tuesday night when I met my midwife in the parking lot to our local Walmart. I was afraid (but also kind of hoping) that my water had broken the night before. I wasn’t so sure because I had been using the toilet when I thought it had happened. She gave me a couple of test strips to use at home to determine if it had. If the results were positive, she would come over and naturally induce labor.

I had been having prodromal labor for about a week and a half, and I was miserable. Not only was I the GRUMPIEST pregnant woman on the planet and bitting absolutely everyone’s heads off, but I was so uncomfortable and in a great deal of pain. My swelling was out of control and I was having contractions and could feel her engaging every day.

So, while still in the Walmart parking lot, my midwife, Dee, said that if I wanted her to, she could come over the next day and do her “magic trick,” which is similar to acupressure, to move things along. To naturally induce labor, she would use this trick on my cervix and maybe some castor oil if the trick alone wasn’t working, but she would only do the trick in my case. She told me that there is nothing wrong with encouraging baby to speed things up, since she was already starting to make her way out. I trusted her and was ALL for it.

To my (somewhat) dismay, my water hadn’t broke. So I told Dee that yes, we’d like her to come over in the morning.

She came over the next morning (Wednesday) and worked her magic. I was dilated to a 3 when she got there, and I responded so well that I reached a 6. Dee told me to relax and go about my day as normal — to not think too much about whether or not it would work.

So I tried my best and spent time napping and bouncing on my exercise/birthing ball. My husband, Cristian, went to work. I lost my mucus plug/had my bloody show at 9 pm. When Cristian came home, we settled in to watch The Greatest Showman, but didn’t start watching until about midnight. I was having contractions, but still nothing strong or close together enough. Earlier in the evening, my mom tried some labor inducing acupressure on me. Then, after the movie finished, I drank some Chinese herbs Dee gave me brewed into a tea. Cristian and I settled into bed.

The contractions started getting stronger, and it was getting harder for me to relax. I was definitely in labor at this point. Poor Cristian couldn’t sleep because every 7-15  minutes I’d get a contraction. But I was glad — he was so good at reminding me to breathe and coached me through them. I lost more of my mucus plug at 3 am, and my contractions were developing more of a pattern. I couldn’t sleep! I called my midwife at around 4:30 am and told her my contractions felt like they were getting stronger and closer together — 5-9 minutes apart. She said she could come check where I was at, but that she’d have to dispatch her assistant, Savannah (who is also a doula training to be a midwife), with the birthing pool. She was 30 minutes away in Provo. She also said that her concern was that by listening to my voice, it sounded like I was still only dilated to a 6. So we decided that I would keep her posted, and she told me to try and get some sleep.

That never happened.

Within 30 minutes of our phone call, my contractions picked WAY up. I texted her at 4:53 am saying I’d had four contractions within the last 15 minutes. She got here by 5:30, and here’s where I started to not care about what time it was. My contractions were getting more and more painful. In fact, I was having one almost as soon as Dee came over, and she dropped everything to help me through it, encouraging me to moan low to keep my anxiety down.  She checked me, and I was 8 centimeters and 90% effaced.

By 6:40 am, my mom came into the room and Savannah was over, with the pool set up and inflated. My dad and Cristian were enlisted in helping getting the pool filled. The water heater to my parents’ house is in our room, so at first they tried filling it by hooking it up to a hose (actually just a white RV hose we bought from Walmart), but it wasn’t fitting right. So they hooked it up to the laundry room hot water, but it ran out. The pool was full enough for me to go in, but Cristian, my dad, and Savannah had to boil pots of water to keep it warm enough.

I was so excited to get in the water! It was almost an instant relief. It felt so good on my worn-out body. Dee encouraged me to try a few pushes. Jemma’s head wasn’t moving past my pelvis, and I couldn’t bear down. Dee asked if she could use her hand to help see if she could get things moving as I pushed and I said yes, of course — I wanted her to do everything she could to help.

We tried me leaning against the side of the pool on my knees, and I also stood up in the pool a couple of times to see if the gravity would help. My water broke at some point in the pool. Savannah fed me a Lara Bar and popsicle since my energy was waning, and made sure I took sips of water.

I had no sense of time during labor, but I remember asking what time it was while I was in the pool, and Savannah or Dee told me it was 8 something. Cristian asked if he could go to the bathroom, and I said yes since it didn’t seem like I was close. I remember having a REALLY hard contraction while he was gone, and I freaked out thinking he was going to miss it. Not only would missing it have been a big bummer, but he was my rock the whole time and him not being in the room felt weird!

Home water birth
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services
Home birth husband support
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

Luckily, he didn’t and came back 😉 My contractions were SO STRONG at this point. But the crazy thing? Some of them I actually enjoyed. I loved feeling my body work in such a way — knowing that it was bringing my baby earth side.

What was even crazier was that in between the contractions, my body was giving me these glorious breaks of intense relaxation. I felt like I was falling asleep in between some of them! It was totally euphoric. Dee was amazed that I was a first time mom and doing so well with the pain. Savannah told me I looked like a goddess.

Water birth
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

And I felt like one.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services
Water birth
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

However, the most painful thing was the pushing.

We tried a few different positions and Dee had me get out of the tub and try sitting on the toilet, which, silly as it is, is one of the best positions for pushing. Then, she had Cristian and I do what’s called the “partner suspended dangle” position. They brought in a chair from the kitchen table and had Cristian sit in it. Then, I straddled him, with my arms around his neck area. I dropped my bum between his legs, letting it “dangle.”

This was to help encourage/pull Jemma’s head down. I had a couple more intense contractions and continued trying to push. Dee had her hand pushed against my lower back, applying counter pressure.

home birth midwife
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

I loved this part of the birthing process. I felt extra close to Cristian, and he was quite literally supporting me. He’d been so encouraging the whole time, but was able to physically encourage and support me as well.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

We went back to the toilet. This is where my memory gets a little foggy, because I know we tried the toilet a few times. I remember Cristian putting chapstick on me.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services
Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

And I remember wanting to throw up, but nothing came out. Then at one point on the toilet, my contractions were so strong that I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. It was hard to control my voice, and I just let it go high and screamed “I CAN’T DO THIS!!!!” Dee was sitting right in front of me and automatically said, “YES, YOU CAN!” And said that it was good I was feeling that way — I was in transition. I also screamed, “I want my baby!” a couple of times.

Dee decided it would be best to get me on the bed on my back, so my legs could be pushed down so I could push a little easier. We laid me down, and Cristian was pushing one leg down while my mom pushed on the other.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

It worked.

My pushes got easier, and Jemma started crowning. Cristian was right there at my side and could see everything  (my belly was in the way, and honestly I was so focused — but also a little out of it — that I didn’t really care that I couldn’t see what was happening). He kept exclaiming things like, “Keep going, sweetheart, she’s almost here! I can see her! I can see her!”

I remember those last 15 minutes so well. They went by so fast. I felt heat rising to my cheeks, and I was sooo sweaty and flushed. I was using absolutely all of my strength.

Then at 9:41 am, with an unworldly force, she was here.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

The first thing I said when I saw her was, “Does she have red hair?!” I was so shocked…we were all expecting her to look more like Cristian (who is half puerto rican). Cristian then said, “she’s a little viking!”

Jemma then took on Cristian’s nickname of “little viking warrior princess” and I was her viking mama — even Dee described me during labor as a viking mama.

She wasn’t vigorously crying, and Dee realized she swallowed some meconium on her way out so she had to suck it out with a nasal aspirator. But that was over in a flash and she was in my arms. It was all so incredibly surreal.

I look soooo horrible in these next two photos but I wanted to share them because of how real and raw they are. I had never been so exhausted in my life, and I felt completely transported to another realm. 

I was a mother, in an instant.

Photo by Wild Flower Birth Services

After spending a little bit of time with me and attempting to nurse, she was handed to Cristian with her cord still attached so I could deliver the placenta. Dee gave me a shot of pitocin because I was bleeding quite a bit. It helped, and I barely felt anything as the placenta came out. We did delayed cord clamping, and didn’t cut her cord for probably 20-30 minutes.

I tore a little bit and needed three stitches, so Jemma got reacquainted with her daddy.

After I was taken care of, Jemma was weighed and measured. 7 lbs 8 ounces and 21.5 inches long.

She was — and is — so perfect.

Women aren’t joking when they say the best day of their life was when their child was born. I felt like she and I were both born that day — just like that I was a brand new person. I had accomplished the very thing I had always wanted to do, and I felt so much peace.

It was also the birth of my family.

And we couldn’t be happier.

Jemma one week after being born

Yes, my original plan was to have her in the water. But birth isn’t really something you can predict or completely plan for, and keeping this in mind really helped me when it wasn’t going according to plan. Honestly, it was a bummer but really not that big of a deal because when it came down to it, Jemma got here safely and getting out of the water was what was best for my pain and labor. I wouldn’t change anything about Jemma’s birth! Despite it not happening how I imagined, her birth made me feel more woman than I ever have. It was exhausting, empowering, exhilarating, and enchanting all in one unforgettable experience.

My midwife was Dee Gordon with Genesis Birth Company. She took me on well into my 3rd trimester (because of our move from Oregon) and was the perfect fit for us. She was always just a text away, and came to our home for some of our appointments. We love how passionate about family, children, and birth she is and that she views birth as a sacred experience. Dee recently moved to Syracuse but will travel within 70 miles and is willing to go further for an additional charge.  Read more about her midwifery services and her approach to birth.

Her assistant was Savannah Kennedy. She’s training to be a midwife and is also a doula with Wild Flower Birth Services. Having her at my birth felt like having a friend there. She offered support emotionally and physically and even helped herself to our kitchen right after I delivered to make me scrambled eggs and toast. She also took photos and video for us and put together our birth video. Furthermore, when I couldn’t get any colostrum out for Jemma, she pumped some of her own milk (she has the cutest little girl!) and donated it to us, which is what mostly fed Jemma for her first 24 hours.

Both Dee and Savannah went above and beyond for us and we highly recommend both of them!