She’s 8! ~ And a homebirth transport story


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She’s 11 today! I first published the story of Anna’s birth on her 8th birthday, 3 years ago. Every year on the birthday of each of my four children, I re-run the story of their birth. It’s a fun tradition, they love hearing how they entered this world, and I love that new people read about home birth days each year. Happy 11th Birthday, Anna!

I have never blogged Anna’s birth story before. It’s a hard, touchy subject for me. But here it is, nonetheless…

Anna’s Home Birth Day and Transport Story

Anna was born at our home in Colorado Springs – a planned homebirth. But like so much in life, her birth did not go as planned. My husband was active duty Air Force when I got pregnant. My option was to birth at the Army hospital 35 minutes south of our house. They had a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), but no water options: no tub, and they barely allowed women in the shower. And I had my heart set on the therapeutic value of water to help me through a drug-free, natural delivery. I read book after book after I got pregnant and became increasingly suspicious about the institutionalized American birth machine. Books like The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer,  Birthing from Within by Pam England, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Marsden Wagner convinced me that I did not want to have my baby in an Army hospital {no offense, Army friends…}

I had my heart set on a water birth, so we searched for a midwife. And found one. An awesome CNM in Denver. Our insurance would not cover a homebirth. But we felt strongly enough about birthing at home that we decided to pay out of pocket. It is a decision we have NEVER regretted.

I went into labor the day after Anna’s due date. It was a gorgeous, sunny Colorado day in April – high temperatures in the 70s. My husband was in charge of a collegiate rugby tournament he was coaching – the Sweet 16 Tournament. I was under strict instructions to wait until the end of the tournament to go into labor, but that didn’t happen. Regardless, his team, the Air Force Academy Zoomies, won their matches and went to the Final Four in Berkley. I labored at home all day with my husband while he snuck phone updates about his team’s progress. My labor was hard. Nothing really relieved me. I couldn’t get comfortable in the tub. Everything I was scared about doing I did: hurt, moan like a whale, vomit, poop…it all happened to me. Despite wanting a water birth, the water didn’t work for me and Anna was born a little before 10 pm on my bed. I pushed for a grueling hour and half. And I tore enough to need stitches – I remember thinking that I finally understood the meaning of Johnny Cash’s song Ring of Fire. Wow.

Unfortunately, Anna aspirated meconium at some point {likely a couple of weeks before she was born} and I hemorrhaged.  She couldn’t breathe and I was bleeding out on my bed. The combination of all problems was more than our CNM and her three helpers could handle. They got us stable, but an ambulance came to take the two of us to the hospital. Anna rode on the cookie sheet we had readied per our birth instructions {just in case} and became known at the hospital as Cookie. I’m not going to lie to you. It was a rough first week. The on-call OB was not impressed with our decision to homebirth and I was not well received at the hospital. In fact, he told me repeatedly how much it was going to hurt me when he sewed me up. Puh-lease. I had just pushed an 8 1/2 pound baby out of my vagina without pain medication. I couldn’t believe his audacity. {But I still wanted my midwife to hold my hand as he sewed. My husband stayed with our daughter in the  NICU.}

The neo-natologist told us our daughter would probably survive. Anna was hooked up to every machine imaginable for the first two days of her life as she was treated for pneumonia because she had a lot of fluid in her lungs. The neo-natologist told us that 1 in 7 babies aspirates meconium during birth, and of those, 1 in 10 has a case as bad as Anna’s. We were barely allowed to touch her the first two days. She made a quick recovery, though, all things considered. {I know what you might be thinking, but the meconium had NOTHING to do with the homebirth}. While she was hospitalized, we had a spring blizzard and my tulips had their say about the unfortunate events.

We were prepared for at least a two week hospital stay but Anna was released after only one week which I attribute to her tenacity. She always has been one heck of a stubborn kid. 🙂 Because of the high altitude, she came home on oxygen and stayed on oxygen for about 8 weeks.

Once she got off that oxygen, she never looked back. She had more health problems her first year than any of our subsequent kiddos (well, except Sara’s hip problems – but I can’t really compare the two) and I attribute a lot of that to her rough beginning and heavy course of antibiotics as a newborn. But she has not let anything stop her since.

She amazes us every day with her wit, her temper, her brains, and her beauty. She is one heck of an awesome kid, and even though our tempers clash a lot, I love her more and more each day. I hope I can live up to be the mom she deserves. She is a fantastic kid.

Happy Birthday, Anna. I hope you enjoy your day as Queen.

And in case you are wondering, all three of my next children were also born at home – in much more uneventful births. You can read my second homebirth story here – Ben’s Happy Home Birth Day, and my third homebirth story here – Cora’s Merry Christmas Happy Homebirth Day. And I do plan to blog about my last two homebirths as the birthdays happen. Watch out in May for Sara’s birth story.

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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  1. I admire your courage! We had an eventful and trying time with our 3rd daughter, but she is quite the fighter too… I think they have to be! Why are doctors so rude sometimes? I am glad you are all past that and she is happy and well now! My daughter will be 7 in May- is 8 really a tween? Ugh! lol

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I get teary just thinking how scared your husband were. Happy Mother’s Day dear friend.

    1. Thanks, Andrea. It was scary for sure. But like most things, we coped. And all’s well that ends well, as Ma Ingalls liked to say. 🙂

  3. Such a tough story with such a wonderful ending! I hear you about the tempers clashing! My daughter is only 5, and I can see us clashing even more as she gets older. The boys are so much easier in that respect! However, her stubbornness may be something she needs later in life, I can only hope.

    1. Barb, we try to put a positive spin in difficult personality traits…stubbornness becomes goal oriented! 🙂 It will serve her later, I’m sure. Doesn’t make things easy for me though.

  4. Aw! Such a great story! And love the photos!! You are amazing, Michelle. Don’t you love doctors like the OB you had. I am so glad Anna did not have long term issues. You must have been scared to death. Anna is one fantastic kiddo.

    Welcome to the tween years. It is a wild ride. 😉

  5. As for commercial TV, my kids are older and watched things other than PBS. We never had much of a problem with them wanting too much or things we didn’t like. Maybe it was just their personality, but I’d like to think that it had to do more with the example we set and the fact that we studied the commercials and how they were trying to get us to buy something. (Of course analyzing what she is seeing on TV may not be too much of a birthday treat for your daughter.)

    There are lot’s of hard decisions when raising kids, aren’t there?

    1. Lots of hard decisions. I don’t really like the shows she wants to watch. We’ll figure it out. She’s not staying young forever. 🙁

  6. Wow – 8 years! Thank you for sharing this story. Brings back memories, from the dogs to the teddy bear in her NICU bed! Anna sure is a great girl and she gets her strength from her mommy – and daddy too, of course! 🙂 I hope you all have a wonderful birth-day!

  7. Do you have netflix? Or hulu on the computer? We watch shows a lot on that and the ones on netflix are commercial free, and hulu tends to have car commercials and such. So, she could watch her shows without the commercials? Just a thought.

    I love that you shared her birth story. I’m glad everything turned out well for you both. Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    1. We do have streaming netflix – but our internet is sketchy. I need to take the time to see if I can figure that out. Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. My kids are now 12, 11 and almost 8. They are really into the Science channel. They love Cheat Sheet, How it is Made and the TED show. These shows are not “Kids” shows and I think this is one of the reasons all three of my kids love watching them. They are learning amazing stuff about science. I did not push these shows, instead they watched a few episodes and then got hooked! I am sure that part of Anna’s issue is wanting to watch something that is not intended for her younger siblings. If you do a little research then you will find that there are lots of amazing, educational shows for older kids. Trust me, the options for interesting shows are out there! Also, there may be shows that Anna would be interested in that will surprise you. Sam loves watching cooking shows, Georgie enjoys shows about gardening and Thea is in to engineering type shows.

    1. You’re right Deb – younger siblings are a huge part of the problem!! And you’re right again – they love Myth Busters and all kinds of other shows that I don’t object to nearly as much. 🙂

  9. How about recording something on the DVR and then fast forwarding through the commercials? I do that all the time to avoid the commercials myself!

  10. Thanks for sharing this awesome story! I’m not a momma, but love reading pregnancy and birth stories of all sorts. It’s amazing how every person’s experience is different, and still pretty joyful.