The Home Birth of Kestral Crowe
Rainstorms always bring reflection for me. Clarity, and the ability to really truly relax.
I figured it was finally time to write the story of Kestrels birth, what I saw through my eyes. To give some back story here, I met Samm just over 3 years ago now, before I even had the slightest idea of what exactly a doula was. I was pregnant, with her teaching a local birth education class. We discovered that at the time she herself was a doula, and I couldn’t imagine looking for anyone else to invite into my space after hearing her explain the true nature of doula work.
Skip ahead a few months, and this mama left such a lasting impression on me that it quite literally changed the course of my life. Her presence at my birth is something I’ll always hold close, but it also completely awakened this new passion, to help other birthing people discover their own hidden powers. Here I am today, deep in this work, because of meeting just one person that open my eyes to new opportunity.
To have this link come full circle, to where I was now sharing her own birth space was an absolute trip for me. A strange sense of accomplishment to feel confident in this space, and also trusted by her to capture her birth, but at the same time a serious slam of emotion to feel how much my life has changed in just these past three years.
I’ll cut my sappy formalities and get into it.
This birth started off beautiful and ended beautiful, with some seriously rough shit in between.
I arrived at her home, the birds just waking. Dawn about to bring light - cue excited photographer brain - It was quiet and calm. Samms labor was just starting to pick up, with her boys (her partner Johnny and son Indy) sleeping. We caught up a bit, braided her hair, and set up. She lit the candles she was gifted from her mother blessing, each with a written mantra or love note from a close friend. Her home made my artistic heart skip beats. Moody toned, deep rich colors, walls covered in art pieces one of which was an ethereal painting of her first birth, lush plants, and a definite sense that this home was lived in. There was no hiding that her son had fun here.
With her, myself, her midwife Karen and her midwives assistant Jenn we spent maybe an hour quietly talking. Samm with a few contractions and her dog Roo snuggled by her side, before Indigo woke up to join the fun. What started off as belly snuggles, and helpful hands, quickly turned into NERF guns and summer-salts. This is when her labor really began to pick up speed. It was a careful balance between getting lost in her headspace and giving some mama love to her boy.
She found some solace in a tight rebozo, hip squeezes and ultimately sinking into the hot water that her partner had been filling since he woke.
Samm told us that her first labor was like a beautiful dream, and this one felt straight from hell. Battling hemorrhoids with the pressure from baby and contractions, and some serious lower back pain. She decided to ask her midwife if she had any sterile water. *Did I mention that Samm went on to become a midwife?! 3 midwives in one room, working together to help this baby come earth-side. So. Freakin. Cool. * anyway, back to the story!
She knew about the benefits of sterile water injections, and that it “might” help with some of her labor pain. Though she said she honestly just wanted to know exactly what it felt like for future reference for her clients. Talk about considerate, this badass of a mother during labor was borderline experimenting for the sake of having hands-on experience for her future clients! The conclusion, for her- they stung like hell, but definitely gave a bit of relief. Back to the birth tub she went, and decided to build up some of her energy again by eating fresh fruit.
This labor was far devoid of “fuck!” “This fucking sucks!” “Jesus lord my asshole.” “Aggghrhh!!”and “You’re a pain in my ass, baby!!”
This mama was working. Hard. Trying every trick in the book to really ease her labor, she finally got to the point of saying that she never would’ve considered an epidural with her last birth but now completely understands why some people go for it. This was exhausting her, and didn’t seem to be letting up.
Back to the tub. One of the cutest moments of the day, her son ran up to her with a book called “Mama, talk about when Max was born” Indy saying “look mom, it’s like you!”
There was a good rotation going on of “PLEASE squeeze my hips!” And “My goddamn cervix needs to get out of the way”
Around 10am, she was at 9cm with a lip of cervix left. She was really resisting the urge to push, and was doing everything she could to get that bit of cervix to move. Including an ice-filled glove being held directly to it.
Just close to another hour goes by, and her water finally breaks! She’s in the bathroom, just over the toilet. Here comes another cave birth for this mama, her son also being born in the bathroom. Johnny sitting on the tub, arms around her, she finally begins to push.
I was shaking with adrenaline and had to run to grab my other camera, I was hellbent on having the birth of her baby on video but my tripod was set up by the birth tub in the living room. I rushed to set it up high in a corner, over all the supporting hands and out of the way of an energetic Indy. Samm crouched over, roaring her little one out. She shifted her position away from the toilet, her head in Johnny's lap, with Karen’s hands waiting below her. With only a few pushes, her baby was out and brought directly to her arms. Falling into the most intense and overwhelming, room-filling rush of oxytocin. We all felt it, all of us in tears. Samm sobbing, I’m shaking trying to hold my composure enough to snap photos through my blinded tear-filled eyes while she cries “I did it. I did it, Johnny.” “I worked so hard, I worked so fucking hard!” She looked down and moved her little one's legs, and near collapsed into even heavier tears. “ITS A GIRL!! You have a sister Indy!!”
This is basically where I’m pretty sure I just succumbed to being a puddle of only emotions.
She looked at Johnny with disbelief, he cried, holding her, looking at his newly born daughter.
Johnny was such a beautiful space holder for her, here and through her entire labor. He really seamlessly appeared when she needed him most, and brought her an immediate calm. Quiet as he was, he was everything she needed. I love when I see couples that fully complete each other.
A few more pushes and the placenta was born. Their baby was put into Johnny's arms and he gingerly carried her into their bedroom. Samm closely followed.
The beauty of home birth - they all gathered to the family bed where Kestral (not yet named at this point) was given her first exams. Samm given fresh fruits and a sandwich to regain energy, and Indy given the time and space he needed to really take in the gravity of everything he just experienced and to discover this very new sister of his.
Within the next few hours, Samms chiropractor, Dr. Ohm, came to adjust her baby (and the entire birth team! Yay!!) it was beautiful to see how gentle a baby adjustment was. This was my first time really getting to see exactly what it looked like, and I’ll be forever recommending it to future clients.
Running off of pure exhaustion, adrenaline, and oxytocin we all gathered for a final picture together. This was a marathon of emotions for sure. I am so thankful to her for inviting me to capture these moments and her strength.
This is the birth of Kestral Magpiong Crowe.
To read this story from her mother's body and eyes, check out Samms own personally written story: