My Home Birth Story: My Husband (Unexpectedly) Delivered Our Son

Campbell - my home birth baby

On December 26, shortly after midnight, we welcomed a new son Campbell into our family in a rather unexpected way during a planned home birth. This isn’t the type of thing I usually write about on Toddling Around Chicagoland, but this is a story I just have to tell.

If you saw My Big Announcement in August you know we’ve been expecting our third child just around Christmas. Although I’ve always wanted to have my kids at home, for a variety of reasons we planned hospital births for both of the older boys. When I was pregnant with Cooper, I had to be induced and had an epidural (followed by Cooper spending a couple days in the NICU). When I had Dexter I did lots of laboring at home, but didn’t progress well at the hospital and had an epidural with him too.

Home Birth Plans

I was very excited that home birth seemed to be in the cards for this pregnancy. It was especially exciting because my cousin, Karen, is a nurse-midwife who assists with home births for Genesis Family Midwifery. The midwives, Stephanie and Christina, along with Karen, provided all my prenatal care and they were all amazing. In preparation for the birth we had to gather supplies to have on hand – extra towels, absorbent underpads (waterproof pads like the ones used to housetrain puppies),  surgical gloves, an umbilical cord clamp, a baby footprint kit, etc. We also decided we’d have a pool available for a possible water birth depending on how I was feeling during labor.

Labor Begins

The morning of Christmas Eve I woke up early with contractions. Nothing too serious, but they were pretty regular and about 10 minutes apart. I talked to Karen several times each day and kept putting off her coming to our house because my contractions weren’t very strong or close together. My aunt Colleen had agreed to come watch the boys, but I put her off too. During my last labor with Dexter I had contractions for a couple days and we finally headed to the hospital when they were 3 minutes apart; when we arrived I was 5-6 cm dilated and he wasn’t born until about 8 hours later. I was expecting a similar experience this time around.

Christmas Eve was low-key. We passed on family celebrations so we could stay close to home as my contractions continued. John tried to keep me busy but relaxed to keep my mind off the contractions – we went out to lunch (knowing we might not have the chance again soon), and when we returned home I took a nap while John took care of the boys and later put them to bed.  John and I had wrapped most of the boys’ gifts and John assembled gifts beforehand (just in case!), so we were done “playing Santa” pretty early on Christmas Eve.

Christmas morning with the boys was wonderful, but a couple times I had to pause during the gift opening to breathe through a contraction. I spent the day trying to keep myself busy making dinner and some meals for the freezer. John and Karen encouraged me to take a nap later in the evening to rest up for what we expected to be a long labor throughout the night and possibly into the next day. I was able to get a couple hours sleep while John put the boys to bed before the contractions woke me.

Things Get Serious

My contractions were more intense and lasting longer, but still averaging about 8 minutes apart. I was getting tired and frustrated, feeling like it was going to be a long time, possibly another day or two, before I delivered the baby. I googled the stages of labor, hoping that there was some sign that I was beyond the early labor and into active labor, but contractions 5 minutes apart seemed to be the threshold for active labor and I wasn’t there yet. I was a little frustrated to read that early labor contractions are usually 30-60 seconds long; mine were about 90 seconds long so I felt like that was a little unfair.

I complained to John that my contractions were very strong now and although I was timing them to be about 8 minutes apart, I wasn’t feeling as much relief between them as I had before; I was still feeling some pressure and tension that wasn’t entirely letting up. He suggested we turn on a meditation dvd to relax and it helped, but had to pause it a few times so I could pace around during contractions. John reminded me to relax and breath through the contractions, but it was getting harder and harder to do.

Although I planned to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart, John finally convinced me to call Karen and ask her to come over just to give me some advice and help in relaxing through the contractions as they became more intense. I imagined that I had quite a long way to go still so I felt bad calling her out late at night (it was after 11:30 pm), but I was pretty exhausted at that point and needed the additional support. Karen was happy to come and would help me through the contractions and we’d call the midwife to come as delivery became imminent.

Shortly after we called Karen (who lives about 30-40 minutes away), another contraction started and I cried to John that I didn’t think I could do it. I was exhausted and uncomfortable and imagined 8, 12, or even 24 more hours of increasingly intense contractions. He encouraged me to relax and breath again (I wasn’t listening very well at this point), and he massaged my back during some contractions which helped take my mind off of them a bit.

“I think I’m pushing.”

The next contraction started and I suddenly felt tremendous relief from the contraction. It took me a couple seconds to realize that the relief was because my body was pushing. I panicked a bit, and told John I felt like pushing. He said, “I don’t think you should do that!” I was sure I was crazy and wrong – there was no way it was really time to push already. John called Karen again to tell her about my urge to push and to get the midwife, Stephanie, on the way too. During the next couple contractions I tried not to push while John made our bed with a waterproof mattress pad and extra sheets.

Karen suggested I get down on the floor on my hands and knees with my shoulders down so there wouldn’t be as much pressure to push. I went straight to our bed, knowing that if I got all the way down on the floor I wouldn’t be able to get up again, and assumed the position, but still needed to push. John put Karen on speakerphone and she gave directions to start getting towels ready. A couple more contractions came and I tried to resist the urge to push while screaming about wanting Karen to get there fast and being sorry to John for how this was happening.

Then my water broke. Karen asked what the fluid looked like (because there was meconium in the fluid when Cooper was born) and John told her he didn’t know because I still had pants on. I’m pretty sure Karen laughed at that and told us it was time to get them off, now.

As I had more contractions and started to give in to the pushing I continued to scream like a banshee while John tried to communicate with Karen between my screams. I was pretty hysterical, but John stayed as calm as could be. He told me later that he nearly fainted twice, and wanted to run from the room and throw up, but he held it together. He reminded me to breath and asked Karen questions and gave her updates.

Campbell’s Arrival

It was only a few minutes before I realized the baby was going to arrive before Karen or the midwife; John was definitely going to be the one to deliver him.

On the next contraction I stopped resisting and really pushed and his head came out. Karen explained to John that as the baby turned, the cord would be around his neck, but as long as it was loose it was okay. John moved the cord and caught the baby. After what seemed like forever (to me, John said it was only a few seconds) I heard the baby cry. John and I were both terrified (we didn’t talk about it until later though) that something would go wrong and we’d be alone and not know what to do, but everything was perfect. I sat down on the bed and John wrapped the baby in a towel, cleaned him off a bit, and handed him to me.

The first time you hold your baby is always an amazing experience; I remember how incredible it was holding Cooper and Dexter when they were first born. I only got to hold Cooper for a couple minutes before they rushed him to the NICU and between labor and delivery nurses and doctors, NICU doctors and nurses, and students, there were probably 15 other people in the room. When Dexter was born I got to hold him as soon as he was cleaned off and there were probably 5 people in the room.

Holding Campbell was a totally different experience; John handed him to me immediately and I held little Campbell to my skin. John and I spent an incredible 15 minutes all alone with our newborn.

Through it all, Cooper and Dexter were asleep in the very next room. I screamed, the baby screamed, and they slept.

The Aftermath

John’s work wasn’t done. I delivered the placenta shortly after the baby and then John had to do a fundal check/massage. Karen instructed him to feel my belly for the uterus and push hard even though I wouldn’t like it. It wasn’t pleasant and I yelled, but John did it because he knew it was important to prevent me from bleeding too much. John declined to cut the umbilical cord for either of the older boys because it was too gross, but somehow he stayed calm through the whole experience and helped bring our baby into the world. He did everything to make sure we were both safe and healthy and I’m amazed by him.

Help Arrives

Karen arrived and clamped the umbilical cord, which John cut this time – it would seem a little silly not to after all he’d already done. She examined me and the baby, helped us get comfortable, and helped clean up. Our midwife arrived about a half hour later and we spent a few hours together, marveling at our baby and doing paperwork (okay, they mostly did the paperwork). Karen weighed and measured Campbell – 8 pounds (our biggest baby!) and 21 inches long.

Home birth - nurse midwife Karen Bachman weighing baby

John was on a bit of an adrenaline high for the next few hours, or maybe days, while I was just ready for a nap. We rested a bit and finally decided at about 2:00 am to wake Cooper and introduce him to his new baby brother. Imagine his shock waking up to a new baby in the house!

Home birth - Dad introducing big brother to baby

After a few hours our midwife headed home, Karen napped on the couch so she could check on me and the baby in the morning, and John, Campbell, and I spent our first night sleeping in our very own bed. (Well, Campbell and I slept; I’m pretty sure John was wide awake all night.) We introduced Dexter to his brother the next morning.

Home birth - family and baby at home

Home Birth Happiness

I’m so incredibly happy to have birthed my son at home. It was so wonderful to be in a place I was comfortable and relaxed, with people I knew, and know my newborn wasn’t being exposed to all the germs and bacteria present in a hospital. I got to recover from the birth in our house and had family around (thanks John, Mom, and Aunt Colleen!) to help take care of the kids, the house, and me and Campbell instead of nurses I didn’t know.

I’m also thankful we had planned a home birth because we were prepared for it; if we had planned to go to the hospital I think it’s very likely little Campbell would have been delivered in the car on the way there. I wouldn’t have chosen to deliver him unattended, but I was SO happy to have Karen assisting by phone and an amazing husband who went above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I am so thankful that both Campbell and I were healthy. It will be a great story to share with Campbell when he’s older and it was a tremendous experience to share with John. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

UPDATE 1/16/13

Campbell’s growing like a weed! He’s nursing like a champ and he’s up to 9 lbs already. Cooper and Dexter love being big brothers and can’t get enough of him.

Also, I decided that since some moms get a “push present”, John definitely deserved a “catch present”. I got him a shirt that says “Real men catch babies” and a Doctor Who sonic screwdriver Wii controller.

Real Men Catch Babies - Home birth


  1. Oh my gosh! What an amazing story. So smart to write it down while you remember all the details. Congratulations to you and your lovely family. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beautiful birth story. Best wishes to you and your family.

  3. Great story Sarah. It will be a fun one to tell him one day! I was honored to have “been there” 🙂

  4. Jennifer c says

    Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful story.

  5. Sarah you are one amazing mama!! John is pretty awesome too! I cried reading this. Congratulations to you and your family 🙂

  6. Wow. I didn’t realize you’d planned for a home birth, but still…wow! I think your husband deserves a “push present” as much as you do!
    Congratulations to all!

  7. Awesome story. So glad it all worked out. Congrats to all!

  8. What an AMAZING story! Congratulations to you and your family!

  9. You brought tears to my eyes as i felt so much joy for you-remembering my own homebirths as well, Karen was not only my coworker but also at my 3rd baby’s birth. AWESOME NURSE!! We are so blessed to have her in the world.

  10. wow that is crazy and amazing and terrifying so glad it all worked out, your husband is one great guy!

  11. This story is simply AMAZING! I can’t believe the kids slept right through it!!! CONGRATS to all of you!


    Just wonderful, thank you for sharing. How brave John was!! Congratulations and God bless your family!!

  13. wow Sarah – this is an amazing story! You are so brave! There is NO way my husband would ever do any of that! NO WAY! and no drugs!!! What a story you will have to tell your new little man when he is older! Congrats on the newest member of your family!

  14. Congratulations, Sarah!!!! What an amazing story.

  15. Congratulations! What an exciting story!

  16. chris christian says

    Oh My God!!!!!! If my husband had to do that he would pass out for sure!!

  17. Wow! What an awesome birth story! Thank you for sharing. I laughed and cried reading it and can only imagine what it was like for you and your family to live it!

    Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. Hope things are going well with you and your family, especially your newest addition. Have a great week!

  18. Anne Bierman says

    This is a an AWESOME birth story!! I felt like I was getting contractions just reading about your pain! =)

  19. Great story!! A ‘catch present’? REALLY????? I love it!

  20. OH wow! I’m so late with this story! Was checking in and saw your change in your header! Congratulations on the new little one! What a perfect present! Great job, John! Thanks for sharing with your readers:)

  21. Wow what an incredible story. and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the shirt – that is awesome.

  22. What a beautiful birthing story! I am far too scared to have a home birth, but I always have midwives. I will willingly drive a distance to get a good midwife that does hospital births. Thankfully in this town we are living in right now, we have THREE! It really puts my mind at ease as we are discussing the possibilities of adding another baby.

    And that shirt and sonic screwdriver are AWESOME! My hubby would be super jealous of the sonic screwdriver. So cool! Seriously, where did you find it? 🙂

  23. What an amazing story! You have a very beautiful family!

  24. I don’t think I could do a home birth, unless it was out of my control, but I think that is awesome that you were able to do that.

  25. What an amazing story to read. I have always admired women brave enough to do home births. I think it is incredible that your husband took charge and delivered your son. Not many men can handle that. I LOVE the shirt, btw!

  26. What a fantastic story! You’re going to love telling it to your son as he grows up.

  27. Awwww! 😉

  28. So similar to the birth story of my second! My first was a 36 hour labor, my second was about 2 hours of early (very early) labor with contractions far apart and very short and easy, followed by transition and pushing for 15 minutes. Zero active labor. Baby was born at home on my living room floor with paramedics (we were planning a birth center birth so our home was not at all equipped to handle a birth). My husband and I needed to process it for a very long time because it was crazy. My water broke when my underwear were still on maybe 5 minutes before the actual birth – the paramedics cut them off because my baby’s head was out and I was not exactly able to slip them off. The feeling of involuntary pushing was incredible and shocking, because we too were expecting at least another 10+ hours of labor! I only wish that the paramedics weren’t there because they were all useless. They just stared at me dumbfounded!

  29. WOW, what an amazing story. I also lovetheshirt you got him. Too cute.


  30. Awesome! They will specially bonded for life, love it!

  31. Thanks for the sweet comment on my birth story! Your story is INCREDIBLE. You and your husband did such a great job. I had actually read it about a week ago when Karen shared it on her wall. Were you at her house for the cloth diaper 101 event? You and your oldest little boy look familiar.

  32. What a beautiful story! I am pregnant with my third baby and planning to birth at a birthing center where I birthed my other two children. With this birth I just feel like it is going to happen in the car so I’ve been reading about delivering unexpectedly. This was such an amazing and positive story. Thank you for sharing it!


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