Joshua Patrick Buckley was born at 1:47pm on November 14, 2013. Looking back on every prayer I can remember for our future children, pregnancies, labor, etc, it completely overwhelms me how good and perfect our God is. Not everything was answered the way my feeble heart and flesh may have asked at the time, but the requests we brought before His feet as we honestly and earnestly sought Him, well, those requests were answered and perfected above anything I could have dreamt. Because, you know, He’s awesome.
Every time I mention the words home birth, I feel I have to preface it with a few things. Birth is so personal. It’s so completely miraculous, so completely emotionally charged, that those two words (home & birth) often cause a lot more in other people than I intend or desire or care for, to be honest. And the only conclusion I’ve been able to come to as it concerns philosophies on child-bearing, child birthing and child rearing is: there is only grace to do what the Lord has called YOU to do. He has not equipped me to birth and raise your child, just mine. His grace exists there. Well, technically, His grace exists everywhere. But. I figure save a lot of heartache and frustration and seek out what He has for me and our family and not follow what He has for other mama’s and their families. I will always passionately advocate for home birth in the general form. And in my own heart. Because there’s still a lot of flesh there that screams fear, but I know at least for our Sam and Joshua, it was their place. Their place to be born was in their home. But I see absolutely no need to advocate it on behalf of someone who isn’t being led to birth at home. Now, I do get on a soapbox every once in a while and I don’t like that about me. But it’s seriously annoying some of the things that happen to laboring mama’s and little babies. But I digress. Because as a whole, everyone wants what’s best, and I certainly want what the Lord has for you and YOUR family. Whatever that looks like. I’m with you. Really! Epidural, I GET IT. Induction, okay. C section? I was a C section baby and I really like myself, so…I’m with you there, too. Cry it out? On board. No crying it out? I get it. I’m just with you friends, I just am. It’s too hard birthing and raising littles not to be with each other. My heart though, and what the Lord has been speaking to John Paul and me about our future in child bearing, birthing and rearing, is to check our motive. It should be out of faith, not fear. It should align with scripture, not culture. Jesus is NOT about ignorance. But He is big on faith. He’s big on wisdom. He’s big on all the good stuff. And as much as I fight it almost every time, He’s right. He’s always right, He’s always better.
Now, I will say, only because His grace led me and sustained me to birth my babies the way I have, there is something about walking through the pain. There’s something there. I don’t know what exactly, the weight and heaviness and joy in birthing a child exists no matter what, but there’s something about working with the pain. There’s something about having your husband and other women gathered around you and supporting you physically, emotionally and spiritually as you walk in pure pain. Something real and good and worthy is there. Can’t explain it, but it’s real. And it’s good. Pure pain and pure joy are so closely related. And that’s incredibly evident in birth. And at the cross. And in every other life thing ever. Maybe it’s our flesh that gains (or rather looses) something through the pain. I don’t believe the Lord intends hurt, sickness, or curses in any form, He is not those things so how can He give them? And Jesus became curse so we would know no curse, right? So maybe the pain doesn’t strengthen our spirit but our flesh? Or rather weakens the flesh and brings more intimacy with our spirit? I don’t know. But I do admit, while personally I don’t want to feel child birth kind of pain again (never have, never will), there’s something there. There’s something significant in that pain.
But back to Joshua. He’s a stinker. I was feeling huge early on with this one. My weight was the same as with Sam, but my body just, wow. I felt huge. I kept telling everyone that there was just so much pressure (physically, not emotionally;). It was hard to move towards the end. I normally chalked it up to running around with a 15 mth old, but I knew this baby was different from my Sam. I knew it, but I didn’t want to let myself believe it. Sam’s birth was so long and hard for me. I’m pretty sure every prayer I ever uttered about this baby ended with “and let this labor be fast”. I had a dream about a week and a half before Joshua came that really put my spirit at ease. It came after my doula (who I met at bible study, and it’s a large, coast-wide bible study…fun fact, my close friend who acted as my doula last time moved to freakin’ Peru the first week of November and I knew I would be in need of a doula. I put it off and put it off, because honestly, a lot doula’s are kind of weird. And I didn’t know anyone who just had experience and a heart for birth like my friend did/does, and I knew I would kind of be picking one blind–to be in my home and with my family during the most sacred time ever. But because of how Sam’s labor was, I knew I neeeeeeeeded one. And any way, one day the Lord spoke to my heart and said you need to reach out at your bible study. Where you know literally one person. And I’ll give you someone there. So, I did and He did. yay! Same scenario, the woman just has a heart for birth and Jesus. Perfect.) So any way, she prayed for me one night that my fear and memory of last time would be erased. And she prayed lots of other good things too. And they took! Y’all. It took! I had a great dream. And about a week later, Wednesday morning, November 13th, I told everyone I was ready. I was ready to birth and care for a new baby (which is huge in Rachel-land, cause newborns and sleep deprivation scare the poo out of me). That night I drank hot chocolate and watched back to the future as my Sam slept and my Johnny worked on something for the nursery in the garage. At around 10pm, I started cleaning and packing Sam’s bag. And boom! The next morning, my water broke at 9:15.
I’m always a little weary when I hear a friend’s water broke first before active labor really kicked in. I know it puts you on the clock and I know that the contractions are harder and I know, statistically, what usually ends up happening. Or what seems to ‘statistically’ happen based off my circle of friends/family–aka: csection. Please refer to a few paragraphs above to remember I’m fine with Csecs, I am! But when your heart is a home birth, a necessary Csec kind of puts you in a pickle. So after I called my midwife to tell her and my Johnny to ask him to come home, I started to cry. My Sam was still just running around the house and actually being super sweet, it was a very surreal moment–to be in labor and looking after my then ‘only baby’, knowing our world was about to be flipped upside down. But then, my contractions came and hit hard. I was in active, real labor with in 20 minutes. I didn’t worry anymore, I stopped crying, and I got my game face on.
And here’s what was different from last time. The day before, our little family went on a very intentional, possible last outing as a family of three, lunch date to where else but chick fil a. I was trying to put into words what I believed the Lord was speaking to me about this labor…it came out very muddled and incoherent, I’m sure, but Johnny shared the verse: “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19) and my words started to become clearer. What I had been searching for continuously throughout this pregnancy was for ways to make labor easier, ways to make the pain less. Ask my midwife! Every appointment I would ask how other women did it, what was the best result and method she had seen and etc. I took a few notes, but nothing really spoke to me. And then boom! I realized I was constantly thinking about all I needed to get done so I could ‘rest’, constantly thinking about what I needed to clean so I could focus at home in a new and better way during labor (bc clutter and dog hair make me crazy). I was constantly thinking what needed to happen so I could have the environment (both in the natural and supernatural) to perform at my best. And the Lord said, if you can’t rest now, you won’t be able to rest then. If you can’t be at peace and listen to Me and work with your body the way I have intended you to now, you won’t be able to then.
Ummmm, okay. Gosh.
Enter the scripture Johnny shared and it clicked. A broad place. Usually when bad news hits, or my house is a wreck, or whatever, I just shut down emotionally and get to work. It’s like I need to gain a certain amount of control over the situation before I can rest and take it to the Lord in prayer. We call it my working it out time, me and Johnny. He knows that’s what I need. Just some space to work before I can rest and be at peace. And that’s narrow. It’s very one-tracked, very all-consuming, very controlling. Not a good place, but I thought it was a necessary place. And that’s what labor was like last time…I just shut down and worked second by second. I couldn’t talk or think. I could only focus and brace myself for every moment of pain. And actually, a lot of child birth methods teach single focus type stuff. Teach your body and mind to shut down. But I knew I needed different. I needed that broad place. I needed room to think and feel and speak. I didn’t think it would be possible, but wouldn’t you know it? It was!! He’s so flipping faithful. This time, labor was a BROAD place. It had smells and words and prayer and feelings. It had rest and pain. It had people and semi-conversations. It had text messaging for goodness sake! It had scripture and exchanges of thoughts. It had kindness. It had moments of rudeness too, I’m sure ;) It had many, many things. And I remember it all. Thank you Jesus.
And it was fast, Lord have mercy was it FAST.
So. 9:45ish Johnny came home and was able to share this verse (because he knew my fear of my water breaking first) with me.”…and David said, “God has broken through my enemies by my hand, like the breakthrough of waters…” (1 chron 14:11) and because of the whole broadness thing, I was able to respond and take it in and grab hold of it and believe it. He shared that this is the Lord’s way of delivering me and answering our prayer–he broke through! Very literally. He had to break through, it was Joshua’s way. It was the way he needed to come to deliver me from my past fears. Faithful, faithful Jesus….Then Johnny tended to Sam and put him down for his nap while I worked with the pain on my own. That was the huge difference from last time, I was able to be alone with the pain. Of course I labored in the bathroom mostly again, because apparently the potty is my favorite place for this kind of thing. It’s not a gross as it sounds, it’s just somewhere to sit without a lot of pressure. Physical pressure, you know? Okay, maybe it is as gross as it sounds, sorry. I was trying to save all pain management techniques like back massage and getting in the shower and stuff like that for later on. I just assumed I was in for at least 12 hours.
Around 11 my doula came. Her text said she was just planning on stopping by to check on me and we had discussed that she had appointments later that evening and who would be taking over for her and such. But once she came, she made no mention of leaving. She quickly downloaded a contraction monitoring app and sent update texts to my midwife. At 12:30ish my sweet friend (with three kids in tow) came to pick up Sam and keep him for the rest of the day. Between 11-12:30 I was still managing well on my own. My doula was significantly good at helping me with her words and anticipating my needs and asking specific questions to help determine what my needs exactly were–I remember saying a lot of ‘I don’t know’. I wasn’t sure how the whole doula thing was gonna go, since last time it was really just me and Johnny and a close friend. But man oh man, I don’t know what we would have done without her. Really.
The main difference between the two labors/births is still, in my opinion, best summed up as narrow vs. broad. But I realize that may not make much sense to anyone but me. Let me try to explain myself better…maybe? When labor hit with Sam, I tried to be awesome, I really did. But all I could do was shut down and just get through it. I would brace myself for each wave of contraction and I could barely listen or speak or react to much else. Of course it was 22 hrs long, it began at midnight so I hadn’t had much sleep, I threw up 6 times throughout the whole thing and it was my first time bringing a baby into the world. I constantly said and asked for ways to make this one ‘better’. I wanted to embrace the contractions and rest in between. I wanted to push into the Lord and think of his promises. I wanted to sink into myself and believe for good things. I didn’t want to shut down and single focus, I wanted multiple focus. I wanted that broad, broad place. And I knew I was getting it as I was able to pray (in my mind). I was able to use words, hear people, speak and pray. I only remember asking Jesus to COME. But I’m sure I asked for more, cause who says that? Or, only that? I remember praying (inaudibly to anyone else, I’m sure) while on all fours in the bathroom attempting to do pelvic rocks at the direction of my doula. And I remember her saying, “amen”. She knew my heart and she knew my pain. I remember asking Johnny to pray and me myself saying ‘Amen’, He knew how badly I wanted this baby to come to the world differently (and quickly).
Another HUGE difference were the actual contractions. Sam’s were a distinct waves, Joshua’s were so different to me. Just a lot of low pressure and, of course, the dreaded back pain. But I remember not being able to really understand them. Not being able to anticipate them as much as I could during labor with Sam. Of course they were coming very quickly, but they were overall, very different. I was able to work with them like I had hoped. Instead of breathing and (for lack of a better word) moaning as directed by someone else, I found my own voice (literally) and method. I found what felt natural and didn’t think back to the books I had read. And when I got a little too out of line, my doula brought me back down. She truly helped me manage the unmanageable. And Johnny was able to just be there–be there for me when I needed him, be present for himself and do what he needed to do and, just, well, be. Last time he was needed by my side every second. for 22 hrs. Not fun.
We went to lay on the bed because I was feeling quite tired in between contractions and that’s when I really almost lost it. I thought there was absolutely NO WAY I could keep this up for any more significant length of time. Just NO WAY. I held that in, but I did say lots of ‘it just hurrrrrttts’. And my lovely doula would look at me knowingly and just say, ‘I know’. And then my midwife came! yay!!! She walked in as we were still handling contractions laying on my side on the bed. I couldn’t bear them without someone helping me hold outside leg up. Apparently that should have been one of the many signs to me that we were close, but I didn’t let myself believe any of that. I had no idea where we were in process, so once my midwife came and checked his heart rate, I asked to be checked but needed one more potty break before. She obliged…as you do with laboring mamas ;)…but apparently I made some type of noise while on the potty (sorry) that made her come quickly. She told me I couldn’t make those noises like that without her holding her hand, ummm, well, down there. That should have been another clue to me that we were close to baby time. But still, I didn’t let my mind go there. Not until she checked me.
So I asked if she could just you know, since she’s down there, go ahead and check me. She said yes but that because of the angle she wasn’t sure how accurate it would be and we would need to do it again lying down. I agreed. And then y’all I saw that look in her eyes that gave me such relief! I asked if we should call Paige now…she asked who Paige was and Johnny said from somewhere in the background ‘our photographer’…and the most beautiful word Colleen (MW) ever said: YES.
YAY!!!!!! I found out later that she knew I was complete and plus 2 at that point. In the moment I still wasn’t really aware of how close I was. Last time Paige was still at my house for like an hour before Sam was born. But not this time! I got up from the potty, made it a few steps to the dresser in my bedroom and held on tight for the next contraction. I even crossed my legs because the pressure was so intense. Colleen was still setting up and getting things ready, my doula was reheating the rice sock and I was alone. The next contraction I hadn’t yet been able to move from my spot, my doula was back pushing the rice sock against my lower back (heaven) and I screamed for my Midwife. And apparently, after that, I just went from standing and holding onto the dresser to just squatting and holding onto my knees. My doula followed suit and Colleen told me I could push. Johnny barely made it to the doorway before that one loooooooong, bloody murder-screaming push. And then there he was! Joshua. Our baby that broke through the fear and brought his mama to a new, good and broad place. He was here! And after gaining some kind of strength back, I held him and made our way to the bed. My bed. In my home. That’s my favorite part. No one takes him away, no one even looks at him that doesn’t love him or his family. Every soul in the place he was born loves the Lord. That’s why we do it. And I’m so grateful the lord’s grace has been there to allow it.
And then, a few minutes later, Paige, my mother in law and our midwife’s assistant show up. ha! I hate they all missed it, but God bless! It was FAST. Praise God! Fast! All in all, about four hours. We went from 22hrs to 4 hrs. Simply incredible.
It’s funny, Joshua’s birth was so much more painful than Sam’s. I don’t get it. I guess the entire thing was just more intense. But I’ll take 4 hours of labor ANY DAY. Well, maybe not any day. I like my labor-free days very much.
And that’s that. I hope anyone reading this who is about to give birth, or will one day have a baby, or who is scared to have a baby again, I hope you feel hope. Feel our hope. The hope of His faithfulness and goodness. The hope of breakthroughs and broad places. The hope of glory maybe? Just hope. Little did I know that Sam’s birth would only be the first of the bazillion things that would rock me physically and emotionally after becoming a mama. I have been deathly afraid of doing it all over again, but I tell you what…He has been so faithful to our family. Emotionally, physically, everything. The sleep deprivation, the hormones, the toddler tantrums, the newborn screams, our marriage, everything…faithful. It’s not for the faint of heart, huh? Thankfully, I’m not where I was emotionally after Sam was born. I didn’t even truly know it then, I realize it more every day. Dark days. Joshua has a birth mark where his hair will one day be…and it’s only fitting. That this boy was marked by birth. We were believing that this baby would help usher in something new for our family, and he has. I knew I couldn’t relive Sam’s first months over again and live to tell about it. Wait, that sounded a little harsh, but y’all know what I mean?? It was tough. It hasn’t been nearly as dark this time. Or dark at all really. I mean, we have our moments. And we continue to have our moments. And I’m so thankful for that time with Sam…walking out the pain. Learning each painful and joy-filled moment of becoming a mom. It strips you, right? There’s less to strip these days. And that’s the calling I guess…the refining of our flesh and spirit. I can’t think of a faster or more perfect method than motherhood. A calling. I can’t imagine it getting easier or harder. Just easier and harder in different ways. I guess there’s a reason scripture only refers to children as a blessing. I love finding out more and more every day why. And then there our times my flesh screams out…and that’s when I love to relate to all you other mama’s whose flesh screams out. And I love the wisdom of those who have gone before me…and I love the innocence of those behind me…and I love, love, love the coffee dates, texts and calls from those who are in it beside me.
And if no one has told you in a while, you are doing a great job :)
and, for the pictures…
and just to prove our family doesn’t always look like that….here’s the front and back of our 2013 Christmas card and Joshua’s announcement