Well Loved Books

Blueberries For Sal is one of my favorite children’s books. I’ve been reading this one for over a decade with my children – always before we go blueberry picking in June but also all during the year. It’s one of those classic children’s books that I can read day after day and never tire of. And, it’s one my children frequently pull off the shelves to read.

At the beginning of the story, mother says, “We’ll take our berries home and can them. Then we will have food for the winter.”

I just adore the inside cover illustration of little Sal and her mother in the kitchen doing just that – canning blueberries for the winter.

It’s such a sweet illustration of a mother working alongside her child preserving food. Even though this is a scene from the 1940s, it’s a scene that plays out in my own kitchen each summer as we also can some of our blueberry harvest to enjoy during the winter.

After borrowing Blueberries for Sal from the library for a couple years, I finally purchased a paperback copy at a local used bookstore and it is very well loved.

I recently found a large, hardback copy in like new condition – complete with a dust jacket at a local thrift store for $1.50 and I just couldn’t leave it behind.

When I arrived home, I thought, “I’m going to put this new copy up high on the book shelf so the children can’t reach it – so it will stay in pristine condition – and we’ll continue reading the paperback copy together.”

My desire was to keep the new, crisp copy of this book in beautiful condition.

As I was thinking about keeping this copy in like new condition, I suddenly thought ahead to 20+ years from now – pulling a perfect copy of Blueberries For Sal off the shelf and reading it – to myself.

How sad it will be, for me, to have a beautiful copy of a children’s book to read to myself – without a small child in my lap. I’d much rather the book have a little bit of wear and tear here and there and have memories of my children snuggled up in my lap, turning the pages over and over.

My perspective on the books in our house – more specifically the worn books – changed entirely with the thought of life in 20+ years. I have a feeling that once the children are grown and gone, the tattered books on my bookshelf will be some of my favorites.

The books that are held together with packing tape, the ones with taped together pages where eager toddlers tore the pages while looking at the pictures over and over, the ones that were read every day for weeks on end and show that wear – the well loved books – will be my favorites. They will have rich memories of time spent with my children.

Books that show wear and tear have been used and enjoyed. And, the purpose of having things – is to use them – not for them to sit on a shelf accumulating dust.

While I’m still going to encourage my children to turn pages gently and treat our books well, trying keep our books in pristine condition now seems a bit silly.

Well loved books are the best books.

The Productive Kitchen

Welcome to my productive kitchen.

Why, yes, it’s a bit small and looks like a 90s time capsule – complete with adorable garden themed wallpaper. This is not an “Instagram worthy” kitchen or anyone’s dream kitchen – far from it – with the current expectation being large and open kitchens.

However, I’ve found that this little kitchen is still a productive kitchen.

Our family of 8 uses this kitchen to prepare 3 meals a day (literally 3 meals a day – we rarely eat out), I regularly make butter and cheese here and we have already used this kitchen to butcher pigs.

Daily, this kitchen is used to invite our children to learn cooking skills by cooking alongside me. Our 3 big kids have spent so much time cooking with me over the years that they are all quite capable of making meals – and our 5 year old is not far from being able to as well! Our family is in this kitchen everyday working together and preparing foods to nourish our bodies.

This may not be a dream kitchen but it is our kitchen and I’m thankful everyday for this space.

Productive > Pretty


We are southerners, both born and raised in Tennessee and now living in Georgia. Biscuits are a southern staple and a staple in our home.

Scratch made biscuits are so easy to make!

Thanks to our milk cows, we have an abundance of butter to slather on hot biscuits as well as fresh buttermilk – a byproduct of that butter making – complete with globs of butter to make (the best) biscuits with.

I always tell people who ask about making butter “Don’t toss the buttermilk! Use it to make biscuits!” Cream is pricey – when you make butter and then use the buttermilk for biscuits – there is no waste! Plus, biscuits are a wonderful comfort food and a delicious way to eat that fresh butter.


2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/4 cup lard *

2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk **

1. Preheat oven to 500°

2. Mix flour, salt and baking powder; add lard. Cut in lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (I use a pastry blender for this – if you don’t have one – cut as well as you can with either a fork or butter knife!)

3. Gently blend in milk with a fork until the dough leaves the side of the bowl.

4. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently and then roll until 1/4 inch thick. Cut biscuits.

5. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield 6-8 biscuits.

I always double, sometimes even triple this recipe for our family.

*Lard is not a pantry staple for most people. I have successfully made this recipe using both coconut oil and butter in place of the lard.

**If you don’t have buttermilk, milk works just fine. The biscuits are still delicious! I have never substituted the buttermilk with a non-dairy milk so I cannot confidently say those milks make a good substitute – experiment at your own risk.

***If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you can create one with a tin/steel can. For many years, an 8 ounce can (think mushrooms or tomato sauce size) was my biscuit cutter until I finally bought a real one.


I shared about our new homestead a few days ago. We’re very excited about having more land – pastures, woods and a large flat yard for our children!

However, we are downsizing the size of our home.

Our current house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with just under 2,000 square feet. The house we are moving to is also a 3 bedroom, 2 bath but it’s just under 1,500 square feet!

I’m sure many people would say it’s crazy for a family of 8 to live in 1,500 square feet!

We feel like our new house is going to be completely adequate for our family. To be completely transparent, it has a garage that we will probably close in to give us more space in the future. So, in some ways it is a temporary downsize until we save up money for that project. We will have some room to grow as our children grow.

Right now, downsizing feels like a bit of an adventure! We already live pretty minimally (at least in some areas – I’m not the least bit minimal when it comes to mason jars, kitchenware and food storage!!)

I’m sure as we move, it is going to feel hard as we evaluate the things we own and make them fit into the smaller space that we now have.

However, the reality is that we have more than we need! We need food, clothing and shelter. So many of the things we cram into our homes and storage spaces are not necessary.

We have made a choice to live in a smaller house and have more land. For our family, that choice is so worth it. There will be less to care for and maintain and more time to spend outside gardening, caring for our cattle, roaming in the woods, playing at the creek and just enjoying the simple things of life.

Our New Homestead

We have purchased a new homestead!

Our 5 acre homestead has been such a blessing and we have been so thankful for the years spent here growing our own food, raising animals and stewarding this land. We have been blessed with wonderful neighbors who have turned into friends. We would be content to stay here forever if there happened to be about 5-10 acres of pasture adjoining this property that we could purchase, but you can’t create new land!

After we paid off the mortgage on our current homestead last summer, we talked about what our next goal was. We had spent 5 years focused on improving our homestead and learning new skills. We were laser focused on paying off our mortgage and hadn’t talked much about what we thought the next step was going to be for our family.

We agreed that owning a little more land would be wonderful! At that point, we started talking about what we wanted for our next homestead/farm. We wanted 10 plus acres with a modest sized home, to stay in the same general area we are in and have no pool! These were not too many specifications but they were proving hard to find, especially staying within our budget.

In a December, John David was at the home of one of the girls on Weston’s Dairy Show Team and her dad shared that the property next to them was for sale. John David came home and was able to find out information about the property which hadn’t even been listed yet! It was an estate – vacant since the previous owners had passed away.

We were able to get in touch with a real estate agent who was working with the children of the owners and go see the property.

It was a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home (with a fireplace and a built in bookcase – two things I’ve always wanted) on 22 acres and was in the area we wanted to be in! The entire back of the property was already fenced and needed very little work to get it ready to contain cattle. There also was a small barn that was structurally in good shape that would work for milking! And, there was no pool!!

We closed February 1 and are now working on turning our new home and land into our new homestead.

We’re excited about all the possibilities that lie ahead!

The Real Reason Behind Our Lifestyle

This was originally published July 1, 2009 on my former site, Frugal and Simple, (which no longer exists) as part of the Mommy, Come Home series at Amy’s Finer Things. This was written over 13 years ago – nearly a year before our first baby was born!

I never would have dreamed when I wrote this that we would go on to have 6 children! Staying home has not been a financial burden for our family since we planned for me to stay home since the very beginning of our marriage.

To be honest, not much has changed – we still live a very frugal lifestyle. We don’t view the small “sacrifices” as deprivation at all – in fact the habit of the small “sacrifices” have led to where we are today – being able to afford a large family and being completely debt free (NO consumer debt, auto loans or mortgage!)

Enjoy the original post, written by 22 year old Rachel:

When my husband and I were planning on getting married, we had several important conversations about finances, our roles in the household and kids. We decided before marriage that when we are blessed with children, I will stay home with them. Both John David and I had mother’s who stayed home when we were small and recognized what an impact that had on shaping us.

We married when we were young, in college and poor! I was 19, he was 20 and our income was approximately $20,000 a year. Because of such a meager income, we knew before marriage that in order to make it and not go into debt we were going to have to live very frugally. We were okay with hand-me-down furniture from family, shopping for clothing at thrift stores, not going out much and living on a limited grocery budget. It wasn’t always easy, especially in the beginning, but we don’t have any regrets about our lifestyle and know those small sacrifices have gotten us to where we are today.

Since we entered into our marriage knowing that I will stay home with our children, we lived frugally during the next 2 1/2 years. We saved money given to us when we married, income from odd jobs and once John David started working we kept our standard of living the same as it was in college to SAVE! By keeping our standard of living the same and continuing to fine-tune our frugality, we were able to purchase our first affordable home in December 2008 (with a 20% down payment)!

Now, we are 22 and 23, own a home, two paid for (older) cars, have no debt and almost have a fully funded emergency fund. We currently are living off of my husband’s ministry income (less than $35,000). I work limited part time (20-30 hours a month on average). My earnings are not figured into the family budget because we don’t want to rely on my income at all. Currently, my income, after tithes, goes to a car savings fund & our emergency fund!

We don’t have children now but we know that when we have children there will be absolutely no stress about deciding if I should stay home, losing one income or how we are going to make it. We know we will have to make material sacrifices, keep our hand-me down furniture, continue shopping at thrift stores, eat out rarely and stick to a tight grocery budget but it will be worth it because our children will be our wealth!

If you are married without children, it is not too soon to make the decision to stay home. I believe the sooner you make the decision the more prepared and less stressed you will be once you find out you are pregnant or bring your precious baby home and decide then you want to stay home.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Pray.

2. Have an honest, heart-to-heart conversation with your husband and discuss whether staying home is what you both want for your family.

3. Before the kids are born (or as soon as you and your husband decide you are going to stay home with your little ones) begin to adjust your budget to live only off of your husbands income. Use your earnings to pay off debt, build up a nice emergency fund, or pay extra principal towards your home.

4. Keep in mind that all the stuff we want and work so hard for (large homes, new vehicles, designer clothes, the latest and greatest electronic gadgets) do not bring us fulfillment and have no eternal significance. However, children are of eternal significance!! I know there will be days once I have children that I will probably question my sanity about my decision to stay home but I know that once I reach the end of this life, I won’t have any regrets about giving up vacations and new cars to stay home with the children God has given me.

Be sure to visit Amy at The Finer Things in Life for more articles about staying home in her Mommy, Come Home! series.

***This is my story, my personal conviction and my suggestions to help those who feel they are called to be full-time mommies. I do not look down on women who work outside the home at all, I know they are doing what they are called to and believe is best for their family – and God gives us all unique gifts and callings!

I know not everyone has a dream to stay home with their children – I just want the women who do have a dream to stay home, know it can be possible!! And, I am here to encourage you on that journey!

And, 22 year old Rachel was right, some days I do question my sanity about staying home with my children – especially homeschooling! There is no perfection on this side of eternity and some days are HARD but at the end of the day, I am thankful for this beautiful (and chaotic) life I live!

Etta’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of our sixth baby, third daughter and fourth home birth.

I was fully prepared to go past my due date this time. Everything was going well physically, mentally and emotionally until the early morning hours of October 16th when I had a false labor alarm – complete with calling my midwife and having her and her assistant come to my house and set up for birth. They were incredibly kind but I was mortified – one of my fears with all four planned homebirths has been waking my midwife when it wasn’t time. Well, that fear was realized and I felt horrible.

October 16th was hard. I was embarrassed that I was about to give birth for the sixth time and had a false labor alarm. I was having contractions fairly regularly and was just so confused. I was tired from the events of the early morning hours and emotional that I did indeed wake my midwife for no reason. I felt almost hopeless about the coming week – knowing I was still 5 days from my due date and likely to go over again.

I sent some messages to friends asking for them to just pray for peace. I started rereading Redeeming Childbirth and cross stitching which was calming and restful.

I had prodromal labor all week – regular contractions throughout my days and nights but the Lord met me and provided a peace and I actually had an enjoyable week. I celebrated my due date – October 21 – completely at peace that it just wasn’t time.

On Sunday, October 23, I woke around 3 am with a contraction and was up about every 20-30 minutes having contractions. I was convinced this was the beginning of labor because they were slowly getting more frequent but by 10:30 they had completely fizzled out.

That afternoon, the contractions started up and they felt “real” but there was no real pattern. I spent most of my afternoon cross stitching and felt peaceful. At bedtime, I felt a wave of anxiety and ended up calling my midwife who reassured me that all of my emotions were normal and that she’d see me in the morning at my checkup.

Just before climbing into bed for the night, I had a contraction that was accompanied by a lot of bloody mucus. I miraculously slept well that night and woke up at 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant which was the most pregnant I’d ever been – with my 6th baby – and I was over it.

I had a checkup that morning and was checked for dilation – my very first prenatal dilation check with all my homebirths – I did request the check. I was at a 3. I was so discouraged. I went home and climbed into bed and slept most of the day.

I had contractions here and there all afternoon which were causing low pressure and back discomfort and left me doubting my abilties to give birth. Which is silly – I have had 4 other unmedicated births – 3 at home and 1 of those was even unassisted with no issues! I CAN GIVE BIRTH!!

I was just *feeling* if these pre-labor, early labor contractions were this uncomfortable that there was no way I was going to make it through “real” contractions. By 4:00 pm, I just felt like I had hit an emotional wall.

Michelle arrived at my house around 4:30 to do another cervical check and see if I wanted to do a membrane sweep at that point. She knew I was at the end of myself emotionally. She arrived to me sitting in my rocking chair sharing my doubts about giving birth and my desire to just go to the hospital for pitocin and an epidural to get the birth over! I was so ready to be on the other side!!

She checked baby’s heart rate, had me eat and then checked for dilation again. I WAS 7 CM!!

Hearing that number was such an encouragement! I had an immediate mental shift. I *knew* I was so emotional because I was on the verge of transition. I WAS IN ACTIVE LABOR!!

She did strip my membranes and then we pulled out my breast pump to try to get contractions more regular. My contractions weren’t very close together but they were long and felt very effective.

I sat in my rocking chair and just rocked through contractions. I felt like the reclined chair position kept the back labor comfortable. Michelle and I were both amazed that I was so comfortable laboring in the rocking chair.

I sat and rocked awhile and then got up, went to the bathroom and strolled around the living room for a bit.

She checked for dilation again and said I had a slight cervical lip but was around 8.5! I was so encouraged to be at 8.5 especially since I was not in pain nor was I feeling out of control – everything was calm and peaceful. One of my prayers over this birth was to not feel so out of control and out of my body like I did during my previous birth – God was answering that prayer!

I walked around for maybe 10 minutes and then started to feel pushy. I walked into the bedroom and walked around looking for a place to get comfortable for pushing. I had a moment of panic (captured above) because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be and how I wanted to push.

We (me, my midwife and her assistant, Jenny) finally decided for me to try sitting on a footstool. It felt comfortable to me and Jenny braced it so it wouldn’t slide.

I was feeling pushy but I had no urge to push so I sat and waited. During this whole time, I was completely in control of my emotions, talking with Michelle, Jenny and John David. I was amazed!

We started talking about breaking my water to help speed things up since I was feeling like I needed to push but didn’t have the urge. While we were discussing that, I felt a slight urge and pushed. With that gentle push, my water broke!

I was started to feel excited! I knew we were getting so close to meeting baby! Of course, I knew the most intense work was still ahead.

Even though my water was broken, I still was not feeling very pushy and I knew from last births that it is best to wait and push with the contractions so I decided to just listen to my body and patiently wait. I’m not sure how long I waited but at some point – probably just a couple minutes – I felt the urge to push and started pushing!

I’m not sure how many pushes or how long it took but I do know that pushing felt harder than with my previous unmedicated babies. I finally pushed her head out, felt her head and the relief that I was so close to meeting my baby. then pushed again and she was born! Baby was here. She was on my chest. Labor an

I sat and looked at baby’s face for a second and thought baby looked like a boy. Then I took a peek to confirm gender and saw we had a girl!!!

Michelle and Jenny very quickly moved us to my bed so I could deliver the placenta and to monitor my bleeding and baby’s breathing.

I bled more after this birth than I ever have but Michelle was on top of the situation and monitored me very closely. I felt completely safe with her professional care.

Even though I did bleed more, my body was not depleted at all. I was given juice and strong raspberry tea and bread with honey to help my body. I was able to walk to my herbal bath and didn’t feel any different than I did post birth with my other babies.

In daddy’s arms for the first time.

We had our herbal bath – one of my very favorite parts of homebirth – and then I was examined – no tearing!

Our wonderful midwife holding Etta while her assistant is helping me get out of the bath.

Words can’t even begin to express what my midwife means to me. She has cared for me so well during our past 4 pregnancies and the care she provides is exceptional. I can’t imagine having a baby without her care.

John David weighed baby! We all guessed her weight and Michelle was the closest – her guess was only off by 1 ounce.

I was shocked to hear she was 7 pounds 8 ounces! That’s my second biggest baby!! It made sense why pushing felt so much harder this time – that’s quite a bit bigger than the 6 pounds 14 ounces that my last 2 babies weighed.

They did her newborn exam and she was 21 inches long and perfect in every way.

Baby was dressed and handed to me while Michelle and Jenny packed up. They left just a bit before midnight.

I laid down in complete disbelief that baby had been born. I didn’t have another night to face of the uncertainty wondering if labor would begin during the night.

Baby was here. She was on my chest. Labor and delivery were over and I had the sweetest gift. Such joy and relief.

Birth is beautiful – no matter where or how you deliver – because you are bringing new life into the world. However, homebirth is such a beautiful way to give birth – the calm, peace and comfort of giving birth at home surrounded by midwives who really know you and are completely attentive to your needs cannot be compared to a hospital experience. I am so thankful for another beautiful homebirth experience with amazing midwives.

My other birth stories:

First baby: Paxton’s Birth Story

Second baby: Weston’s Birth Story

Third baby: Cecilia’s Birth Story

Fourth baby: Laura’s Birth Story

Fifth baby: Haddon’s Birth Story

Baby #6

We found out our sixth baby was on the way in February!! We shared the news with a garden themed announcement in May.

Once again, we decided to wait until birth to find out the baby’s gender. We didn’t need much for baby since we have newborn cloth diapers as well as newborn neutral clothes.

30 weeks

40 weeks

For the second time, I made it to and then past my due date! It’s hard to believe but babies 5 and 6 were my latest ones.

The last week of pregnancy was physically and emotionally draining as I dealt with prodromal labor.

To keep myself sane, I cross stitched! It was a restful and productive activity that kept my mind calm while waiting for baby.

Birth story coming soon!

Haddon’s Birth Story

This is the birth story of our fifth baby, third son and third home birth. 

Haddon is now 9 months old and I’ve had a hard time wanting to share his birth story. I did write it out in my journal a few days after he was born but for some reason,  I’ve wanted to wait to share the story. I feel like I’ve now fully processed his birth and am ready to share.

I have always known  that due dates were guess dates but my first four babies arrived before their due dates. My first was induced and the other 3 came on their own well before the 40 week mark. While I knew it was within the realm of possibility to reach and even pass my due date of October 11th, I never thought it would be reality. My guess was that baby would arrive about a week early this time on October 4th.

When contractions started up on the afternoon of October 3rd, I just knew labor would pick up as the evening progressed. But, I awoke the next morning pregnant. This went on every evening until baby was born. Around dinner time, contractions started, they’d pick up around bedtime, we’d go to bed and nothing would happen.

I had my 39 week check up on the 6th and my midwife checked baby’s position and baby was head down in the pelvis – at the previous 2 check ups baby had been sitting on the pelvis but not engaged. At that point, I had a mental shift and decided since I was already this far along, it would be great to make it to October 10th which was John David’s Papaw’s birthday – that would be so special and the birth date 10-10-2020 would be fun!

                                                 40 weeks pregnant

I was surprised to wake up on Sunday, October 11th, my due date, still pregnant. This was my very first time to make it to 40 weeks – and this was my 5th baby!

I wasn’t physically tired of being pregnant but I was incredibly emotional and confused because my body felt like it was starting labor every night since the evening of the 3rd.

On the evening of my due date, I started having contractions and they were regular enough that we started timing them! When we started timing, they were about 5 minutes apart and I texted my midwife at that point to let her know what was going on. She asked if she should come and I said I was going to lay down and continue timing. We climbed in bed, turned off the lights and fell asleep. I woke at 4:30 and realized absolutely nothing was happening. I started crying. I was so confused and drained – I had regular contractions, 5 minutes apart and had even texted my midwife and now nothing!

On Tuesday morning, October 13th, I woke up about 7:30 am to a strange wet sensation. I thought my water had broken at that moment. There was no big gush but there was some blood tinged mucus – so I knew I was getting closer! I had my 40 week check up at 9 am that morning and it went well. John David and I ran some errands after the check up, grabbed lunch and when we got back home, Laura and I laid down for a nap. I was tired and stayed in bed all afternoon resting. Right at 4:45, I felt a gush so I ran to the bathroom and there was a puddle of clear fluid.

I texted my midwife at that point, got out the amnicator test and it came back positive! I was so excited because this meant things were about to finally start happening and I could be holding a baby in just a few hours. I was also a bit nervous because I have never had my water break before I was pushing and had never labored during my unmedicated births without an intact water bag. I also knew that with broken water I was on somewhat of a time line.

My midwife and her assistant headed our way since she didn’t make it to my last birth! They arrived around 6:30, brought all of their equipment into the bedroom and got everything set up.

I ate dinner, took a walk and helped the kids get packed up to spend the night with grandparents. I told the kids as they left that if baby came before it was too late evening, Daddy will come get you and if not, you should wake up to news of our new baby!

I was hoping that once the kids were gone, things would pick up since the house was quiet and peaceful and night had fallen.

Nothing was happening.

I’d have the occasional contraction but nothing consistent or serious feeling. They checked baby’s heart rate and decided to do a cervical check – I hadn’t had a cervical check since the hospital birth of my first baby. The cervical check was incredibly disappointing – I was 1 cm. I was sad that after weeks of contractions and cervical pressure, I was only 1 cm. She did a membrane sweep and said after that I was a tight 3 cm.

Since contractions weren’t picking up, my midwife suggested a breast pump to hopefully start contractions. I started pumping around 10 pm but it didn’t help. At one point, they decided a warm shower was good to try to help me relax so I did that, walked around the room and bounced on the ball. They suggested sleep. I tried but I was so uncomfortable, discouraged that my body wasn’t cooperating and I knew I was on a deadline since my water was broken. I decided to try the breast pump again.

I had a few decent contractions and my midwife checked me again. I was a whole 5 cm. Things are really fuzzy from here for me, I don’t have any idea of what happened other than it was a long, restless night and I was incredibly emotional, frustrated and discouraged. At some point, I felt nauseous and threw up and I was so hopeful that would jump start my contractions but it did nothing.

Since nothing was happening, they mentioned trying castor oil in the morning as a last resort before heading to the hospital for pitocin. As discouraged as I was and as much as I didn’t want to have to go to the hospital, I felt peace about going if it was what was best to safely deliver this baby.

They said the best thing was sleep. I was still emotional and cried for a bit but finally fell asleep. I don’t know how long I slept but I woke up feeling better and hopeful. John David fixed me breakfast which I nibbled because I didn’t have an appetite and was also afraid of throwing up again.

Around 8:30, John David fixed me a castor oil smoothie made with mango juice. It wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. I drank it all and hoped and prayed I wouldn’t throw it up. While waiting for the castor oil to kick in, John David milked while I sat in the living room and talked to my midwife. John David and I sent messages to friends and family asking for specific prayers that the castor oil would work.

About an hour after the smoothie, I had to go to the bathroom. This may be oversharing, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated and once my bowels were emptied, contractions started!

I walked around the living room talking and was in a much better place emotionally and mentally than I had been during the night and I was hopeful that things would progress quickly and I’d have a baby soon!

At some point, the contractions started getting uncomfortable and they needed to check baby so they put me on the bed with the birth ball to lean on. After baby was checked, I couldn’t get comfortable and the contractions started to get more intense.

They suggested a warm shower, I made it to the bathroom and sat on the toilet hoping that would help me dilate quickly. No luck so I got in the shower which was nice but the contractions were super intense and felt unbearable – my back was hurting so bad and it felt like my hips were being pried apart.

I started feeling completely out of control at this point saying “I can’t do this” out loud while trying to remind myself “you’re doing it” “you have to do it” and “you’re getting so close”.  I couldn’t calm myself and felt out of control.

At one point in the shower I made a noise that told them I was getting close so they pulled me out, wrapped me in a towel and brought me into the bedroom. I was still feeling out of control and saying (maybe yelling) “I can’t do this”.

They tried to get me up on the bed and I just couldn’t move anymore. I was waiting for the urge to push but I wasn’t feeling it. I tried some gentle pushes to see if anything felt like it was happening but there was no urge.

Finally, I had an urge to push and started pushing and it was intense. I didn’t think the baby would ever come but I pushed hard and felt him low and my hips spreading and intense pressure as I pushed him out at 11:18 am while standing on the side of our bed.

Oh, the sweet relief knowing baby is out! I immediately look down where they had him between my legs and saw baby was a BOY! Such joy  in that moment of being done with delivery and that we had another son. I scooped him up and my midwife helped me climb up into the bed. I was so happy, so relieved and so exhausted. HE was here – finally!

I laid down with him on my chest and just looked at John David – thinking whew, it’s over!

There’s nothing like the feeling of a brand new, warm, sticky baby and I tried to soak in the sweet moment.

Very soon after baby was born, the kids came back home! Paxton was the first one in. He woke up worried that morning since there was no news of baby and knew things weren’t going as quickly as we had hoped. He was so excited knowing that he had a baby brother and immediately fell in love!

Cecilia was in next and was so excited to see the baby! She had been watching lots of birth videos with me and was very interested in what was happening.

Weston has not been excited about the past two babies while I’ve been pregnant but once again after one look at his newest sibling, he fell in love too! And, it was so neat to have Annette there so soon as well – this was the first of our babies she has seen when they were only minutes old.

Laura was the last one to come in to meet the baby and she was a little shy but very quickly warmed up to him and was very interested. My heart was so full watching each of my children meet their newest sibling.

After the children met the baby and I delivered the placenta, I had my herb bath – I had been telling myself during labor that I had the herb bath with baby to look forward to – and it was wonderful! Warm water and a new baby to admire, one of the sweetest parts of home birth.

After the bath, I was dressed and settled into bed while baby was weighed and measured and had his newborn exam. He was 19 inches long and weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces – the exact weight of both Weston and Laura!

Haddon’s nuchal hand.

He was born with a nuchal hand which means one of his hands was up by his face during birth and came out along with the head. This contributed to the diameter of baby as he was passing through the birth canal – he may have been a little baby but I gave birth to his head plus an arm which increased the diameter.

This was his preferred position right after birth which makes me wonder if this was not how he was positioned in the womb.

I don’t know if the lack of fluid made the contractions more intense or if it was the castor oil or the nuchal hand or the combination of all three but it was by far the hardest labor and delivery I have had. I remember thinking during transition“I am never, ever doing this again – our family is complete!”  

It was hard but he was worth every bit of intense discomfort during transition and delivery, worth all the sickness of the first trimester, the emotional uncertainty of a pregnancy in 2020 and a long, stalled labor. He is such a sweet gift and I’m so thankful for this baby and for the excellent, personal and encouraging care of midwives.

And, I’m so thankful for this proud papa. He was so supportive during the entire pregnancy, my prodromal labor and during this long, discouraging labor. He also took almost all of these photographs of Haddon’s birth.

I know home birth isn’t for everyone but I am so thankful for home birth and being able to deliver our baby in the comfort of our home surrounded by kind, loving, knowledgeable and professional midwives. There are no words to express what the two midwives present at this birth meant to me. Their presence was such an encouragement and I felt completely safe and cared for even in the moments that I felt like I wasn’t in control.

My other birth stories:

First Baby: Paxton’s Birth Story

Second Baby: Weston’s Birth Story

Third Baby : Cecilia’s Birth Story

Fourth Baby : Laura’s Birth Story

July 2021

It’s tomato time! Now that it’s July the tomatoes are really taking off. This year I am growing these adorable Spoon Tomatoes – they’re cute and tiny – pictured here with regular Cherry Tomatoes for a size comparison.

Happy 4th of July!!

Weston grew beets in his garden bed this year and he had a decent little harvest – enough for pickled beets!

He ended up with 4 quarts and 1 pint of pickled beets and they are delicious – we opened the pint jar after a few days.

Green bean harvest. My plan was to only plant in my new garden this summer but the lower garden tempted me a bit and I ended up planting corn and green beans down there. The cows got into the corn and enjoyed it and the weeds went crazy but I managed to get a decent little green bean harvest – enough to can 7 quarts and still have some for fresh eating!

In late June my grandmother passed away and we traveled to Virginia in July for her funeral and to spend time with family. Our family is standing on the front porch of my grandparents home. So many wonderful memories were made in this beautiful house. It’s still surreal to think that both my grandpa and grandmother have passed away and that their home will soon be sold.

While we were in Virginia, Haddon turned 9 months old.

Weston has been finding all kinds of bugs on the homestead all summer. It’s always fun to see what he finds! This one is a katydid.

I went out at sundown one evening to harvest tomatoes and Laura came out dressed in her jammies and boots to help me. She picked tomatoes and carried in a heavy bucket. She’s such a sweet little helper and a hard worker.

Matching with my girlies!!

Cecilia picked this lovely flower and wanted to take my picture. I spend quite a bit of time snuggling this sweet little love and I’m thankful she chose to capture this moment.

On the 23rd, Lady, our goat had 2 kids!! So exciting!! She had a boy and a girl and they’re beyond adorable.

Here’s Laura with the little girl!

The next day, July 24th, Buttercup had her calf. She had a heifer and we are all so excited to have a girl!!! Laura wanted to name her Lollipop and we’re going to call her Lolly.

The back of the homestead. So thankful for this little piece of property.

Goodbye July!