Se7en Home-Birth Stories…

When I was preparing our calender post for Monday it struck me that folk around the world were celebrating Labor Day. We don’t celebrate labor day here but if you follow our blog you have to know that know that babies are totally top of my mind right now. I thought I should rack my brain and see if I could even remember se7en birth stories. I thought about it for a couple of days. Who on earth would want to read such humdrum? Then I am always astonished that folk read our blog at all!!!

But I was so inspired by yesterday’s post on We Are That Family, where Kristen commented on the SuperPowers of Motherhood… she asked: How many hours have you spent in labor and how many pounds/kilograms in combined birthweight have you endured!!! Here is my response:

Cool question: 4 boys, 3 girls – 27 hours in labor and about 26 kg – 57.5 pounds… (wahahaha!!! good grief I had to use a calculator!!!) … Not to mention 72 months pregnant (#8 is imminent) and 12 years of nursing. Considering all that it is quite incredible how resilient our bodies are. What I look like, compared to what I should look like isn’t that bad after all!!!

I seriously had to chuckle at this and even more seriously I had to use a calculator!!! And then I got down to remembering se7en birth stories…

Let’s begin just before the birth of Hood #1 in antenatal classes. Now I always knew we would have home-births, I am so absolutely terrified of anything medical even the thought of a doctor’s visit sends me reeling straight to bed – I kid you not. Clearly home-births were a given and everything you read about home-births is all sort of natural and peaceful and calm… In the ante-natal class there was a lot of talk of peaceful aromas and gentle lighting and whimsical candles and heavenly music, gentle massage and they showed a video of a “typical” hospital vs home-birth. We won’t go into the hospital birth (wahaaaa!!!! needles and things) but the home-birth was this gentle pitch-jolly-dark with one and a half flakey candles of a shadowy figure at ease in a birthing bath and after five minutes of all of us peering into the gloomy screen she finally said “oh” and out popped junior into the world. A number of potential fathers were very impressed, how bad can it be? And a number of potential mothers were a little intimidated!!!

So here are our se7en birth stories:

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Hood #1: boy; labor: 6 hours; weight: 3.6kg (7.9 pounds).

I was incredibly fit and had swum my way through pregnancy with a local swimming squad, ending with a 2km swim the day before he was due. My body was ready and trained and I was confident!!! You must understand home-births are not considered sane in our part of the world and certainly to carry a baby to term is sheer madness. So on his due date the midwife came round for a visit, she told me the gynae was expecting my call on the following Monday – obviously there was a serious problem. Well one mention of a doctor’s visit and I spun straight into labor. Boom!!! Not to mention I was in real genuine pain! No gentle humming to candle light for me! The shock of the pain was, I guess like ice water being thrown in my face. I did have in mind a couple of mantra’s: “Every contraction past is one less in the number of contractions till the birth” and so on. But I was still shocked at the intensity of the whole event. So where does a girl go in times of trial? I headed for the bath – we lived in an old Victorian house with a gigantic bath and I submerged myself and found my inner peace regardless of my raging body! In great style I whizzed through the first stage of labor and then couldn’t figure how to get this creature out!!! All the books say relax into it – wahhaha! And I had a midwife going push, don’t push, do this, do that – why she didn’t shut up I will never know! She did ask if I wanted to get out of the bath? And I suggested she get herself a cup of tea, no jolly way was I getting out of that bath!!! Anyway Hood#1 and I finally figured it out and he was born in the dead of night, totally unplanned water-birth and no gentle “oh” to announce his arrival either!!! Needless to say having survived labor I now needed to know how to nurse – like you don’t necessarily know how to do this folks!!!

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Hood #2: boy; labor: 5.5 hours; weight: 3.0kg (6.6 pounds).

Well this little guy was a little unexpected arriving a month earlier than anticipated – he was in a rush to catch up with his brother and has never stopped chasing. So my waters broke in the dead of night. I leapt up thinking yay baby in just a couple of hours – I walked, I rocked but nothing happened, nothing was going on… I had a bath, I walked some more… finally after hours of nothing the midwife looked at me and said: “We will have to take this in” and literally this little guy popped straight out of my body! 3cm to born in about 8 seconds. I tell you it is that fear of hospitals that keeps me going. Turns out, even though he was never under any stress and was born perfectly (if a bit smaller and earlier than his siblings) his placenta wasn’t great and the best thing he could have done was jump the gun, so to speak.

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Hood #3: girl; labor: 2 hours; weight: 3.65kg (8 pounds).

By now I was getting better at the art of labor – not so shocked but rather glad to know that a baby would soon be born. And this one was in a bit of a hurry, no break in contractions – she was a back labor. At the very last moment just as this little creature was about to deliver we had a guest on the rock outside our lounge window. The father person looked up and saw a baboon at the window. Everything stopped while everyone dashed to the window to see if this was for real, it was… We called the boys to play inside rather than out and then she was born! Perfect in every way! Welcome to Africa.


Hood #4: boy; labor: 4 hours; weight: 3.63kg (8 pounds).

This guy was born in the early morning. Very sharp! I went on to labor and called the midwife, she was busy with another client. She called the back-up who wasn’t back from vacation in Australia. So the midwife says – “Don’t worry I will come over in a couple of hours.” “No a couple of hours won’t do!!!” Needless to say a woman arrived at our front gate that we had never met, she was a midwife friend of our midwife. In she came to assess the scene and call the our midwife to tell her what was happening. Needless to say she actually walked in and helped deliver our little guy and then called the midwife to say that she needn’t come over!!!


Hood #5: boy; labor: 3.5 hours; weight: 4.6kg (10.2 pounds).

For the last month of this pregnancy I lay on the bed and read Dr.Suess stories… he immobilized me even before he was born! This guy was born on a Sunday. We spent the whole day knowing that he would be born but I was too busy reading stories, playing and generally looking after my other kids to focus on labor. Finally I got everyone through supper and into bed and spun straight into labor. The midwife arrived and we got chatting about cookbooks – I know, that is the reality of home births, some folk might be humming through a candlelit event but we are chatting about books!!! This kid was destined to be the Celebrity Chef we were going on and on and opening up cookbooks and eventually the midwife said should we have this baby and he literally tumbled out, with the fattest little cheeks you ever saw!


Hood #6: girl; labor: 2.5 hours; weight: 4.03kg (8.9 pounds).

This one was born during a hectic time with things we couldn’t miss. We had one free evening around the time of her due date and I had mentally prepared for that night being the night. Needless to say at the last minute some friends were out from Australia and the father person invited them round for supper. So I stood making about 45 hamburgers for all of us all the while chatting. I just new I was going into labor, and this friend kept saying well this must be so easy for you. Myth! Labor doesn’t get easier but you do get better at it! They finally left and I cleaned up and got to bed by 1 am. At 2 my waters broke. Didn’t want to wake the father person, he hadn’t had enough sleep so I left him to sleep. Finally at about 4 am I called the midwife, the friend to watch the kids and the father person. Midwife arrived and said let’s take look and see how far along you are and as she peered so the last of my waters rushed out in a giant explosion and showered her from head to foot. Hood #6 followed directly! The midwife borrowed some fresh clothes and went on her way!!!


Hood #7: girl; labor: 3.5 hours; weight: 3.5kg (8.9 pounds).

Well my house was clean and supper was ready everything was in order but I didn’t feel that the father person should be late home from work on the day!!! Now I never would call him to say “I am in labor,” firstly because I would hate any of his colleagues to know I was actually in labor (!) and secondly I can imagine him dashing home through the traffic and just total panic. So I ever so calmly called him and said: “I think you should get home before the rush hour traffic gets hectic” He still asked if he could go to the store and get a few things on the way home, always the eager shopper. I kind of thought he could get straight home! I called my friend who faithfully looks after our other kids when I am in labor and she had gone to the movies. Stay calm, stay calm. Someone stopped by to return some books: smile, smile, stay calm, stay calm. Finally everyone arrived and the little guys were busy with supper and our littlest one arrived. Then the lights went out!!! It was during the time when Cape Town was having heaps of power failures, shortages and days without electricity. Needless to say we finally had candlelight even if it was moments after the actual birth!

That’s it: Our poor midwife has endured a lot, no sweet candle-lit labors in this house. She has been with us for most of our last five births and hopefully she survives the chaos of the next one!

Hood #8: Your guess is as good as mine!!!

42 Replies to “Se7en Home-Birth Stories…”

  1. Wow! How wonderful to have each of your precious little ones in the comfort and security of your own home! I have unfortunately had caesars with each of my 5 daughters and always wondered what it would be like to avoid the stress and trauma of major surgery. I pray that Hood 8’s birth will be all you are hoping for – perhaps with the candles and music this time?
    BTW, the young lady you photographed at the Triangle Square Market for your Saturday Spot Feature, is my daughter, Kelly-Anne. She is the eldest of my 5, and runs that little stall to finance her horseriding. We are also a homeschooling family in Fish Hoek! Feel free to check out Kelly-Anne’s blog at Love your blog! Have a wonderful day!

  2. Hi H, Isn’t it a small world and when make it is virtual it shrinks even smaller… K-A has a great blog, well done to her! Hope you have a great day and enjoy this teeny tiny bit of sunshine!

  3. I LOVE birth stories and enjoyed yours.
    After 4 hospital births – 5th and 6th were blessed, VERY natural and amazing!
    My 5th took one hour, happened outside in the desert moonlight – unplanned of course! After that I knew that I had to birth at home and we did, one month ago! Birth was 30 min start to finish! Amazing.

  4. I was wondering if home births were more routine there than they are here in Australia. Sounds like they are about the same. I have a few friends who’ve had them and they were wonderful. I wish I could’ve had some. But our births were very good for hospital births; especially the first and the last two. Actually the second was traumatic but it was the one we were glad we were at the hospital for.

  5. Hi K, sister of T… another lover of birth stories… love the desert moonlight birth plan!!! Actually if you had planned it like that it would never have worked out!!! Congratulations on number six, I hope all is going well!!!

  6. Hi P, Home Births are not “normal” here at all!!! In fact hospital births are expected and caesars are routine and the norm over here. Because the caesar rate is so unnaturally high 37 weeks has become the new forty weeks … and anyone who goes past 37 weeks is considered overdue and so due for a caesar!!! I was at the gynae on Monday to prove that our baby was no longer breech, that I didn’t have high blood pressure, that I didn’t have gestational diabetes and no it wasn’t a gigantic baby… blah, blah, blah!!! Anyway I could prove that we were both 100% and therefore no cause to cut!!! But I tell you it isn’t an easy task to prove perfect health without a single grumble at 37 weeks!!! You have a good day!!!

  7. Hi E, Oh I really hope it works out for you! I love jumping into my own bath and my own fresh sheets to snuggle with a new baby… it is a great reward to be home surrounded by enthusiastic siblings. Our family sure are a built in fan club for me and any new arrival!

  8. Thanks for sharing! I loved reading about each of your experiences! And I am amazed by how much all of the hoods still resemble their birth pics! I can definitely distinguish who is who… so sweet! Praying for you with #8 soon to come!

  9. Loved the birth stories! Thank you for sharing them. People say I am brave to have had 3 home births, but no baby, it’s fear, naked fear of needles that did it!

  10. Hay K, Thanks for stopping by!!! I had to scrounge around for some of those pre-digital pictures!!! Hope you guys have fun week!

  11. wow!! awesome stories.
    i, like taryn am a lover of birth stories!! not too sure id do a home birth. hubby isnt too keen on the idea, but lets see what happens ūüėČ
    i cant believe (ok i can) you birthed a 4.6kg baby! that is truly amazing. both of mine were over 4kgs and were ouch! but you, WOW!!!!

  12. Hi L, So glad you liked the stories!!! Yup and believe it or not the biggest baby was no where near the hardest labor! You have a good day!

  13. Lauren mentioned hubbie wasnt keen on homebirthing, well neither was mine. I was prepared to submit to his decision however it was my prayer that he would be at the birth (missed the last 2)and that it would be at home. So… the half an hour birth turned out that he delivered our 6th, there was no one else anyway!! My Mom was visiting from SA, and was there for moral and prayer support. It was truly amazing. Just the 3 of us. My husband was overjoyed and told everyone “he did it” ūüôā
    The Lord DOES answer the desires of our hearts. I have proof 2 times over now!

  14. Praying you have a great birth with no:8 and I agree nothing like snuggling up in your own home with your newborn and excited siblings around you delighted at the newcomer!

  15. Hi K, No initially our father person wasn’t mad for it, but the more I read the more he learnt and one hospital tour while pregnant with Hood#1 was enough to ensure that he was totally up to home births! Nothing like absolute agreement, knowing that you have his total support behind you sure gives you the confidence to do what needs to be done!

  16. Loved the birth stories! Over here in the States, home births are definitely not the norm either, but we’ve had both of our kiddos at home. I went to 42 weeks with our first son and had an over 24 hour labor with him – definitely would have had a c-section if I had been in the hospital! I went to 42 weeks + 2 days with our second son but thankfully, the labor with him went much faster – only about 6 hours. I wouldn’t trade our home births for anything! Praying for you guys as you await #8!

  17. Thanks K, It’s amazing that you went to 42 weeks and still stayed sane!!! Your little ones obviously like to cook a little longer than most – trying their luck with their mama starts young I dare say!!!! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day!

  18. Wow. That’s a lot worse than here in Australia. Yes, you get Caesar-happy doctors but they are still in the minority and you can still avoid seeing one at all if all goes well. I get so hot under the collar about the 40 week mark, 37 is dreadful!

  19. Hay P, 37 weeks is pretty mad… but you never know… you could have a BIG baby, or scare, scare, scare… It is pretty daunting to be “all natural” in this very medicalized culture! Have a good day!!!

  20. What amazing sweet miracles!! Birth is such a beautiful beautiful thing— you’ve really had some amazing experiences.

    Have you seen the “Business of Being Born?” it’s a great inspirational flick– I enjoyed watching that while pregnant with my forth.

    Also really enjoyed the book, “The Baby Catcher” — just in case you need a little late night read.

    Can’t wait for STORY and PHOTOS for number EIGHT!!!!!! Maybe you can blog/post photos while delivering… :):) hehehe… wouldn’t that be fun?!

  21. Oh wow… what precious precious babies. all so different too!
    Home births are amazing… I had one with my daughter. 2 hours… midwife arrived 45mins before birth.. Hope all goes well with number 8.

  22. Hi K-M, Unlikely I will be thinking of blogging!!! But I was hoping you would just pop over and take some beautiful baby pics!!! Hope you all have a great weekend together!!!

  23. If we lived in the same town you know I’d be there in a HEART BEAT to take photos! I actually had my doula/photographer take baby/birth photos for me when my husband was deployed in Iraq. I really treasure those— maybe you could hire someone… how amazing would that be to capture the first moments of this little ones life and big siblings reactions and love?!! Oh my! oh my! Wish we were close!

  24. Hay K-M, You are so right… it is those joyful little faces of new siblings that just can’t be beat! And that scrunched up freshness of a newborn!!! How brave of you to be apart – I guess one does what one has to! You all take care and have a great weekend together. You have no idea how I would love to tell you some good news!!! Lots of love.

  25. One of my current clients sent your web link to me and I have enjoyed reading the birth stories very much! It’s always interesting to see how women experience their side of a birth since I’ve been a midwife for 26 years and often get bogged down in “my” side of a birth!

  26. Hi T, So nice to hear from a midwife on the far side of the world!!! I guess birth is pretty much the same wherever you are! I must be honest I feel for my midwife who has a lot to deal with coming round to our house with more than a couple of kids milling around, getting ready for the day or for bed… Our babies seem to be dawn or dusk rather than convenient dead of night arrivals!!!

  27. Well, you have a million comments on here already : ) But isn’t this just one of our FAVORITE subjects and I haven’t left a commet for awhile. (No birth for me this year, I am taking 9 months to “grow” my own health.) This was such a fun post and I loved the part about your little chef. And they DO still look like thier baby pics!!! I concur- my biggest popped out so fast. The Doc looked at where she was and said “oh well, we are gonna be here awhile” . But I looked at him kinda funny, gave two half-hearted pushes and there she was. So there! thanks for sharing and GOOD JOB remembering them all!

  28. Hi K-R, Nice to hear from you!!! It is funny about the chef!!! Here they are absolutely paranoid about big babies… We had to go for a scan at 37 weeks to “prove” our baby wasn’t breech… The gynae was thrilled at our small (scan predicted) 3.2 kg/7pound baby … wahahaha… I never said a word but seriously a quick glance at the enormous belly region should have given her an inkling!! Have a good day!

  29. LOL I’m the opposite. Take me to the hospital!!! To the men and women in the white coats.

    Seriously though, I loved all your stories! You’re amazing! And they were/ are all SOOOOOOO precious!

  30. Oh Marcia, We are all so different… luckily!!! Honestly I could read birth stories for ever… and may have taken years off my life doing just that – maybe!!! Hope you have a great week!!!

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