The Birth of Isabelle Francesca | Empowering Home Birth | St. Louis Birth Photographer

I think I might do a little happy dance anytime I receive a birth inquiry. I was equally happy to get Lilly’s email about her upcoming home birth. I met Lilly, Sadie and their daughter about a month before Lilly was due and we connected immediately. Conversation was easy and filled with a lot of laughter, which only grew my excitement for their birth in just a few short weeks. Typically, I like to share my perspective of my client’s birth story, but I thought I’d switch things up a bit. Lilly graciously wrote up her birth story to share on the blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

“I hope that anyone who gives birth to a baby has an experience like I did – the ability to make their own choices with informed care providers and access to a support network to lean on for advice.  There are so many ways to bring a baby into the world, and navigating what is best for you and your baby becomes nearly impossible if you are sucked into the vortex of what pregnancy, birth, and postpartum ‘should’ look like.  Every day I wake up and look at my baby and remind myself, Isabelle is 12 days old, and I only get today to enjoy that. I’m trying to truly love the moment, even when it’s hard.  It’s so easy to worry about cleaning spit up immediately, keeping my family up to date on progress, and comparing my baby or my body to someone on my newsfeed, but smelling like old breastmilk with my baby’s skin on mine and putting my phone down is way more satisfying.  A bit of unsolicited advice – Be gentle with yourself, and protect yourself.  You are allowed to make space for any emotions you have, and anyone who makes you feel otherwise isn’t worth your precious energy.  Most importantly – you can’t spoil a newborn, or yourself. End rant.

I knew that I wanted to plan a home birth but was also apprehensive about this decision as we had planned similarly for my wife when she had our first child, Eloise, 2.5 years ago.  She ended up having a C-section due to Eloise’s head position, and while we both wouldn’t have it any other way – happy and healthy mom and baby – it definitely made us both more grounded in the reality that having a ‘plan’ for birth needs to be fluid and the foundation needs to be around goals not details.  A healthy baby, supportive birth team, and minimal intervention were my goals. I got to achieve all of those even though my vision of a water birth with music on wasn’t exactly how it all happened on the big day. 

I loved every moment of being pregnant, and still miss it very much. As August got closer I began to feel sad about the idea of giving birth. Everyone wanted to meet her and was excited, but I already knew her, and wasn’t ready to share. She was safe and I was perfectly happy to wait another month past her due date if I was allowed. 

Then I went into labor two days early and started preparing for her arrival – buying paint for a diy project I have yet to start, spending the rest of our life’s savings at target, eating an ice cream cone the size of my face, and attending a fundraiser with our good friends. I enjoyed myself. I also started to get excited to meet my baby in a new way. 

Active labor started the moment the sun went down and six hours later my daughter was in my arms. Every contraction felt new and different and intense. I was extremely grateful for the breaks in between that my body gave me. I kept reminding myself that my baby and I were working together, and that my body wouldn’t give me something I couldn’t handle. I am grateful looking back that I was able to feel everything that was happening with my body.  I knew when to push, when I needed to breathe, when I needed something to drink.  Yes, labor is hard, but listening to my body and my baby is what made the process so special.  

For me, being at home was incredibly important.  I wasn’t hooked up to machines beeping and monitoring me as a liability, or limited to lying in my bed.  I ate watermelon between contractions, laughed with my birth team, and was surrounded by the nest I had created for me and my baby.  Finally feeling my baby on my chest in my own bed, moving on me the way she did just hours ago inside of me, is something I will never forget for as long as I live. I learned so much about myself and what I am capable of and I am so incredibly grateful to the people that helped to make my birth a reality for me.  

My birth team was a badass group; strong, confident, calm, patient, and fierce. All of them brought something special to my birth, and they will forever be people I treasure. They made me feel strong and beautiful even when I very much wasn’t sure that was true. 

I feel lucky, very privileged, and also so proud of myself, for cooking a healthy human, for giving birth to her safely at home, for letting myself enjoy recovery, and for learning to feed my daughter with patience and persistence. My midwife (who drove across the country for my family!) urged me to give myself a little grace, and I hope everyone gets to hear that after they give birth.  We all deserve it, and to be surrounded by people who lift us up. 

So welcome to the world Isabelle Francesca, we love you fiercely and with abandon!” – Lilly

Thank you for letting me capture your beautiful birth story, Lilly + Sadie! It was a joy to be a part of your birth team!

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  1. Jennifer Mason says:

    Oh my goshhhh! What a loving family! I loved The baby feet, their smiles, mom holding baby on the bed after, just so much goodness here!

  2. Dana Jacobs says:

    What a beautiful birth story! So much love in that room!

  3. Lindsey Eden says:

    I also do a little happy dance with each inquiry I receive. Fantastic first line to this birth story.
    Also, I wish I could have read Lilly’s beginning ‘rant’ before I had my first child. She is spot on and her words resonate deeply.
    Stunning birth story and beautifully captured. Thank you for sharing.

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Gretchen Day Photography

St. Louis maternity, birth, fresh 48, newborn, & family photographer