My Third Home Birth Story: Baby J

Today Baby J turns nine months old, so he’s been out in the world for as long as he was growing inside of me. In celebration, I am finally posting his birth story. Read on if that kind of thing interests you!

Warning: it is not a cute story, but it’s also not terribly graphic or scary. I hated this birth, though technically everything went fine. There is some swearing, because I am a 35-year-old woman with a shit-ton of trauma and I am done sugarcoating things.

But first, to set the stage…

This pregnancy had been unplanned. I did not want another baby. I was not excited to have another baby.

The pregnancy was awful. I had gained almost 60lbs over the course of nine months. My hips ached. It was hard to breathe. I had a crap-ton of trauma from my last child’s infancy — I was having regular panic attacks that wiped me out emotionally.

Both my other labours (stories here and here) had happened around 39 weeks, so I expected the same this time, especially since my midwife had estimated that the baby was already about 8 lbs at my 38-week appointment. So starting around week 39, I woke up every morning expecting to go into labour that day. That week stretched to 40 weeks. My estimated due date came and went. And then another day passed, and another, and another. My midwife performed a “stretch and sweep,” which was excruciatingly painful. Nothing happened. She did another one at my next visit, and it hurt just as much. We started talking about a possible induction if labour didn’t start in the next few days.

I didn’t feel particularly passionate about having a home birth, but it was familiar to me, and I hate hospitals, and it was still the middle of a pandemic, so I decided to go for it. It’s just one day of grisly suffering, right? I’d done it twice before, I could probably do it again.

It was now a full week past my due date, but since I had expected to go into labour around 39, it felt closer to two weeks. I woke up miserable, as usual. No signs of labour in sight. I did not want to do this anymore. I was SO. DONE.

The first thing we did as a family that day was go for a walk to see if it might get labour started. We only lasted about six minutes when I had to turn back — I was huffing and puffing, everything ached, my swollen feet were jiggling with every step. 

Felix didn’t have school that day, so I spent the day waddling around the house after him, cleaning up his messes as he ate puffed rice out of his sensory table and splashed in the water fountain on the deck. Eventually my sister came to help with Felix and I made supper. By then I was completely wiped out. I went to go lie down on the couch to rest before eating because I couldn’t move anymore. I was still standing and talking to Ben when I stopped mid-sentence: water was leaking out of me and running down my leg. Oh shit. My water was breaking. 


I had a history of short labours and my midwife lived an hour away, so I called her right away just to let her know what was happening. I called my mom. I put on disposable incontinence underwear. I ate supper. Finally, I rested. I planted myself on the couch.

I was finally having regular contractions, but they were mild and painless. My sister left, and Ben brought the kids to my mom’s. I figured I was probably in early labour, and I’d be able to sleep most of the night, and in the morning either I’d go into active labour or I’d go to the hospital to be induced. I was looking forward to a good rest before I started the marathon of birth. I was SO TIRED. Ben and I both laid down on our sectional couch to see what would happen.

Around 11pm the contractions started to be painful. Ohhhhhh, shit. This was going to happen at the worst possible time, wasn’t it? I was not going to get that sleep I badly needed, was I?

After just a few regular, painful, one-minute-long/five-minute-apart contractions, I called the midwife back. We both knew this was probably going to happen soon. Ben set up and started to fill the birthing tub we’d rented.

By the time the midwife arrived around midnight, the contractions were painful enough that I had to breathe and rock through them to cope. I had just changed into my bathing suit, but I dropped my bottom where I stood so my midwife could check my cervix. I was at 7 cm.

I got into the tub. The backup midwife arrived.

UGGGHHH, the contractions hurt. I leaned my head against the tub and breathed through them loudly and ritualistically, and then tried to float in between contractions. I was already so tired. How long was this going to take? The midwives set up their stuff and then stayed out of the way, chatting quietly on the other side of the room.

The contractions got harder and stronger, and soon I couldn’t help but moan loudly through them. The moans turned into bellows. Oh GODDDDDD they hurt. Why the HELL had I opted to do this unmedicated again?? I could be on an epidural by now. My midwife noticed the shift in my sounds and said I was probably getting close. But the tub water was too cool to deliver in — we hadn’t quite figured out how to get it to the right temp quickly enough. She told me I should probably get out. That was fine, I was finding it chilly and wanted to get out. I’d been labouring hard for about an hour.

They helped me lay down on the futon and checked my cervix again… Not quite ready to push. Another cm or more to go. On their recommendation I tried sitting on the toilet — I HATED it. I stood and rocked through a few more waves — TORTURE. I laid down on my side, back on the futon, and my midwife pushed my hips together, which made it a little better. But every contraction was still agony. I ROARED through each one. I wished it would stop. I regretted every decision that had led up to this horrible moment.

Suddenly I had to puke. I said, “I’m going to throw up,” and then immediately did, onto the floor. They cleaned it up and put a garbage can there in time for me to puke some more. The vomiting took over my whole body and was almost a relief — I didn’t have to do anything, my body just did it all for me. I was covered in sweat, completely disgusting. And the excruciating contractions just kept coming and coming. I was so, so tired. 

Finally my midwife said if she manually stretched my cervix just a little more I could start pushing. I said okay. I pushed a little with the next contraction – I hated it. No. I said I couldn’t do it. It was all too much, I could not do this. Nope. 

She told me plainly that I had to.


The next 25 minutes were just absolute hell. The midwives had Ben sit behind me and prop me up; they had me hold onto the backs of my knees and push with all my strength. I cried, I wailed. I said I couldn’t do it. Then with every contraction I held my breath and PUSHED, until it was too much and I screamed in agony. Over and over and over again. I screamed “NOOOOOO!” and called out for Ben. I crushed his fingers, I begged it to stop. My whole body was going to explode. My face was going to explode. I was SCREAMING. Finally, I could feel the pressure of the baby’s head through my cervix and it was unbearable. They said I had to push HARDER even though I was already beyond capacity. So finally I just fucking did it. I PUSHED.

All of a sudden the head burst through, and soon they were slipping an entire goddamn body out through my vagina.

And suddenly there was an ENTIRE baby between my legs, and the midwives were deftly unwinding a long dark cord from around his body. I started to hyperventilate and was momentarily blinded, but then they were plopping that warm, slippery little body onto my chest. HOLY SHIT, he had The Hair!! The dark head of hair that Ben, Lydia and I had all daydreamed about. Oh my god, suddenly I was euphoric. I had somehow done it! I made it through that eternal miserable pregnancy, pushed through that hellish labour and delivery, and the beautiful baby boy of our dreams was here! He looked healthy and perfect. It was about 2:15am.

He immediately squalled. He was not happy about his circumstances. I held him and kissed him. He was exactly right. He was incredible. He cried so loudly. It was just…surreal.

While I was taking him in I had to deliver the placenta. They kept asking me to push but I felt like my muscles were all gone. After a few hard pushes I could feel it slip out — GROSS. My midwife surveyed the damage, and said I could opt out of stitches if I promised to take really good care of the area. I said yes please — I didn’t think I could manage any more pain.

The midwives left me and Ben to bond with the baby while they did the paperwork. I surveyed the scene around me and was horror-struck: it looked like a scene from a horror movie. The sheets under me were bloody and slimy. I turned my attention back to the baby on my chest. Bloody goop oozed from his mouth and nose. I wiped it up and asked Ben to take a picture. The baby clearly wanted to nurse — he was already rooting around — but I wasn’t sure if I should wait until the midwives gave the go-ahead.

At one point the midwife came to check my uterus — she unceremoniously jammed her fingers in the center of my belly and hot liquid gushed out of me. I yelled in pain and surprise. “Perfect,” she said, and went back to her paperwork.

The other midwife finally came and helped clean things up — she and Ben removed all the gross bedding and gave us clean towels and a warm blanket. Then she weighed and measured the baby: 9 lbs 4 oz, which wasn’t as big as I’d feared, but was still big. He wasn’t particularly chubby. They pointed out that he was long — almost 23”.

Finally I asked if I could start nursing because he was eager. They helped me get set up on the couch and I got him latched on. He got right to it! I realized how much I had missed that feeling.

Other stuff happened, but the memories are fuzzy…. The midwife had to stay for a certain amount of time to make sure we were well, and chatted idly for a really long time and I had zero interest in participating, but I knew it was required so I did my best to engage until she left around 4am.

FINALLY, I could rest. But first, I showered — I was absolutely repulsive, and starting to shake violently. The warm water helped. I ate a bowl of cereal, and went to sleep on the futon with my new baby snuggled next to me.

In the end, was I glad I had another home birth?

I don’t know. The pain of labour was horrific, but as Ina May says, the thing about labour pain is that unlike an injury, when it’s over, it’s over. It just disappears. It was dreadful during the four hours it was happening, but then it was just gone, never to be felt again. I did like being in my own bed that first night, taking a shower in my own bathroom and wearing my own pajamas, eating my own cereal. 

The experience didn’t feel as empowering as it had the first time, but I was like, well, I guess I feel proud of myself for doing this. Yay me! I’m kind of a badass.

I would never discourage someone from getting an epidural if they wanted one, but I was proud that I had managed to do it all by myself a third time.

Baby #3

Anyone who follows me on Instagram already knows that Baby J has been the greatest, most unexpected blessing for our family. He is an absolute ray of sunshine. I mean, he keeps me incredibly busy, and I haven’t had a moment’s rest since he was born and feel like I will never feel rested again as long as I live; but he brings us immeasurable joy.

I’m glad I didn’t have a say in whether or not he would join our family, because I would have said no, and I would have missed out on knowing one of the most delightful human beings I’ve ever known.

(I share a bit more of my feelings here).

Me and ADHD

Other than a few close friends, most people in my life don’t realize that over the last month I’ve been on a complicated, intensely emotional journey of self-discovery.

I’ve discovered that I have ADHD.

Part One: The Journey to Diagnosis

ADHD isn’t something I’d ever even contemplated before, because like most people, I understood it to be a disorder you mostly saw in hyperactive little boys. You could identify a kid with ADHD because they couldn’t sit still or focus on lessons, they had boundless energy, and they got in trouble at school all the time. They were “problem children.” That wasn’t me at all. I excelled in school, loved reading at a young age, and was an all-around model student.

Sure, in recent months I’d seem some funny ADHD memes and tweets floating around and found them weirdly relatable, but thought it must just be a coincidence. Everybody occasionally leaves a burner on and explodes their hard-boiled eggs on the stove while they take a shower, right? Having twenty hobbies and buying supplies for all of them just for most of them to sit in boxes for years was a common quirk, right? I didn’t know what these things had to do with hyperactive little boys.

It all changed when a relative happened to ask me if anyone in my family had ever been diagnosed with ADHD, because she recently had, and she knew it was hereditary. I said no, but I was intrigued, and asked her to tell me more about it. She told me about some of the struggles that led to her diagnosis: being chronically disorganized, distracted, forgetful, and losing things, to the point where it interfered with her ability to work and parent effectively. She explained how girls and women tend to go undiagnosed because they usually don’t exhibit outward hyperactivity. Until recently, many clinicians didn’t even think to consider it in female patients. She also pointed me to research that showed a link between giftedness and ADHD in children, which often made ADHD harder to spot.

This all sounded alarmingly resonant. It felt like she was describing me. I was assessed to be “gifted” as a kid, but struggled to function in just about every other aspect of life. I had spent my whole life losing and forgetting things, and failing to stay on top of everyday tasks, always feeling buried by everyday responsibilities.

The spark was lit. I need to learn more. So I dove headfirst into research. (Well, okay, it started with watching hours-worth of Tiktoks from people with ADHD describing their experiences, and me silently weeping as waves of validation washed over me. There are so many other people like me! This is an actual Thing! Over time it gave me the vocabulary to start to do actual research).

A few weeks later I called my family doctor and asked to be referred to a psychiatrist. A week after that, I was in a virtual appointment talking to a doctor about ADHD meds. (Spoiler: it’s contraindicated in pregnancy, so it’s not happening anytime soon.)

This new information is changing how I look at my entire life thus far. It explains so much about why I am the way I am, why I struggle with things the way I do.

Part Two: The Emotions

It’s been so emotional for me because it turns out that all these parts of me that I’ve always been ashamed of (I’m forgetful, disorganized, lazy, clumsy, unproductive, distracted, absent-minded…I suck at being an adult, I can’t keep a job) have a neurological explanation.

I’m not a shitty person, I’m just neurodivergent.

(Just writing out this sentence made me sob with relief.)

I have a whole new vocabulary for explaining and describing my unique struggles, and it has changed everything.

I’m not stupid, I just have executive dysfunction, which makes it hard for me to prioritize tasks, keep track of personal items, manage my time, and remember instructions.

I’m not lazy, my nervous system just doesn’t produce enough dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation. So I struggle to work up the energy to complete everyday tasks, no matter how important I know they are. I have atypical wiring — something called an interest-based nervous system – meaning I simply cannot be motivated by ordinary rewards/consequences, or understanding cognitively why something is important. I just CAN’T make myself do something unless I encounter very specific and stimulating circumstances to trigger that release of dopamine and get me off the couch.

I’m absent-minded because I have an inconsistent attention span. I can hyperfocus if my attention is activated by a momentary sense of interest, challenge, novelty, urgency, or passion; but I’m unable to focus on everyday details that don’t trigger these responses.

I cry all the time because due to my unique wiring, I regularly experience emotional hyperarousal, another feature of ADHD.

I’m messy and forgetful because my kind of brain struggles with object permanence and working memory. So I forget that things exist the minute they’re out of view, and I can’t recall basic instructions minutes after I’ve received them.

Having this new vocabulary helps me to understand how my brain works and why I behave the way I do. It explains how I can be a star student my entire life but then struggle to perform basic everyday tasks like keeping track of personal items, creating routines for myself, and keeping my house tidy.

Why a diagnosis was so important for me


It’s easy to be disgusted with myself when I misplace something important, come to the end a day without having accomplished a damn thing, or stumble upon yet another half-finished task that got abandoned when the dopamine ran out. Now I can offer myself some compassion, reminding myself that my brain has certain barriers in place which make these things hard for me.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know I consistently struggle with feeling like a garbage person because I can’t seem to accomplish half of what a normal person seems able to accomplish in the same amount of time. Going forward, hopefully I can show myself a little more kindness.

A way forward.

Now that I am starting to understand what those barriers are, I can look for tools to help me overcome them. That could mean medication, and/or it could also mean seeking out apps, strategies, and therapies that are specifically designed to support neurodivergents (or just happen to be really helpful for us).

An opportunity for loved ones to have compassion.

Of course I can’t control how other people are going to react to any new information I can provide about why I am the way I am. But I hope it might help.

The other day, in a moment of frustration, Ben accused me of “not having any motivation, not being a go-getter,” and it really hurt me. These are real sensitive spots for me. Later he apologized, understanding (because I’ve explained it) that this is due to a real deficiency in my brain, not some kind of moral failing. “I know it’s not your fault,” he said.


I’ve recently connected with a couple of friends with ADHD, and started following ADHD Tiktok, Instagram and Twitter accounts. It has been so incredibly validating to hear their experiences that are so like mine. We send each other memes and share our latest ADHD mishaps (burned food we forgot about on the stove; important paperwork we left on the counter for months) and share tools we’ve found helpful. It just feels so good to be seen by others who get me.

Fun side note:

One of the hallmarks of ADHD is hyperfixation, which is an intense, prolonged (many would call “obsessive”) fixation on a certain subject or task; and my hyperfixation over the last month has centred on everything related to ADHD. I’ve hardly been able to think about anything else for the last month.  I have filled pages of my notebooks and journals with facts and observations about myself and the disorder. I could talk for hours about all the things I’ve learned over the last few weeks about brain chemistry, neurodiversity, motivation, and attention (but I will try to spare you most of it. Unless you ask. Then I will be HAPPY to talk your ear off.)

On Trying and Failing (Thank Goodness!) to Become an Online Influencer

Hey! I haven’t written anything here in forever! I’m kicking it old-school with a stream-of-consciousness blog post.

It was 2008. I was 23. I’d been married for three years, I was just wrapping up my MA in English lit, and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

I wanted to be a writer. I’d always wanted to be a writer.

I was also a very “on fire” Christian, and was specifically interested in being a Christian writer, like breakout star Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), or maybe Jonathan Acuff (Stuff Christians Like).

But how did one even begin to break into something like that? So I did what any millennial in the late aughts would do: I googled it.

I stumbled upon the CEO of Zondervan (the most prominent publisher of Christian books), who had a whole online business teaching people how to get into the Christian writing scene. He advised that if you wanted to get into the business, you absolutely needed to have a social media presence. At the time, that meant you needed a blog and a twitter account.

So I devoted myself to blogging. I dabbled with a Blogspot blog, but soon made the move to WordPress. I knew I needed a niche, so I decided to focus on the topic of Christian marriage. I thought I had a unique perspective, having married at 20 before I even finished my undergrad degree.

Over time I did manage to get a little bit of momentum. My readership grew to include people I didn’t know IRL. It was exciting.

After a couple of years I grew dissatisfied with my chosen limited topic, and eventually started a different blog exploring topics that were becoming more interesting to me: the ethics of being a follower of Jesus. I was especially interesting in such areas as caring for the earth, gentle parenting, and radical nonviolence. I was interested in how to be a good person, not just believe the right things. More than a little bit of self-righteousness crept in as I started to get involved in minimalism as a lifestyle, zero-waste living, and “natural” living. I wrote about organic cooking, sustainable shopping, and the like.

I had my first child, and I had less time to devote to my writing, but I tried to still post a few times a month.

My readership continued to grow evvvver so slowly. I was collaborating with other bloggers. I had a modest Facebook page, with a few thousand followers there. I was starting to contemplate bigger projects.

And then Felix was born. And absolutely everything fell apart.

My family, my faith, my confidence in myself and my work. The little bit of free time I’d had for creative expression was completely obliterated as all my energy turned towards keeping this fragile creature alive.

One crisis followed after another. Just as he was recovering from treatment for his life-threatening disease, his other disabilities became more obvious, demanding more and more time and attention. Therapies, assessments, appointments, mobility tools, you name it. Caring for him took over my entire life. The trauma I experienced also completely mangled my ability to create.

And since then, I’ve just…never recovered. Not after six years. I’ve never recovered my vision. Never got back into the groove of creating content.

Meanwhile, the Internet changed. Blogging all but died. Facebook changed, and the page I’d diligently built up became basically useless. Instagram increased in prominence, and I found I like the platform better, but it’s not suited to long-form writing, and I never managed to get much of a following there.

And so here I am. Still no closer to being a writer than I was 13 years ago.

And honestly? In some ways, I’m GRATEFUL.

I knew so little about how the world worked, back when I was dispensing advice. But I was so confident. I thought I knew stuff. I was healthy and thin and had read a lot, and I had a healthy, smart little girl. Surely I must know stuff? I was still in love with my husband of eight years. I cooked everything from scratch and I was killing it at minimalist and zero-waste living. I was in a position to be a guru, right?

Looking back on my smug little self, I’m so glad no one gave me a massive platform to share my tiny, limited perspective. I would be so ashamed now of everything I would have put out into the world in my twenties. It would have all been tinged with misogyny, ableism, white supremacy, homophobia/transphobia, snobbery, and ignorance. Thank goodness that never got released into the wider world.

I honestly have very little confidence in my own wisdom now. I wouldn’t dream of advising other people how to live their lives. I know nothing. In fact, I’m rather allergic to anyone giving life advice en masse. I have no faith in self-help books any more, especially if they’re written by privileged people like me.

So while a part of me (okay, a BIG part of me) still craves the validation that a real writing career would (theoretically) give me, I’m kind of glad I never got one. I did not (and probably still do not) have the wisdom to use it well.


Okay, in all honesty though, while everything I said above is true, I still struggle EVERY DAY with feeling like a failure in life because my writing career never took off. Many of the other bloggers my age who started out around the same time as me now have multiple books published, are hosts or regular guests of podcasts, have flourishing email newsletters, and tens of thousands of followers on social media. I have absolutely nothing to show for my early work. I still make zero dollars, which is something I joke about regularly, but actually makes me feel like garbage.

I still kinda wish I was a successful writer.