Home Birth in an RV | Dripping Springs Birth Photographer
The Home Birth of Jackson, in mom's words:
June 2016 I got in the car and handed my husband a positive pregnancy test. At the time we lived in a 4 bedroom/2 bath, 2,000 sq ft house in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
March 2017 we are giving birth to our son in an RV on a farm in Dripping Springs, TX.
How did we get here?
It all started in May of 2016. Actually earlier than that but we have to start somewhere and you don’t have all day. Nor do I with a newborn to feed. But before we get started theres one thing you need to know about me. I have adrenal fatigue. Google it. The list of symptoms is ridiculously long and I struggle with nearly all of them to some degree or another. So, back to the story.
Due to my father-in-law’s declining health we decided to take our family vacation to Florida in May instead of July like we had originally planned. Upon returning from that trip, my adrenal fatigued body just couldn’t recover. It had been a hard year in Stillwater battling adrenal fatigue among other things. I’d fill you in but that would turn this blog post into a book. Trust me. It was a hard year. Our pastor, who was also my husband’s boss at the time told us to take two weeks off to figure out how to make life sustainable for our family and if that meant leaving our home and job in Stillwater then we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. Week one we visited friends and family, and heading into week two we were planning to devote all our time to praying and seeking the Lord for answers.
Then we got a phone call. Jason’s dad was in the ICU and it didn’t look like he was going to make it. We jumped in the car and drove through the night with our 3 children in tow. Eighteen long, grueling hours later we pulled up to the hospital, not before rear-ending someone at a red light due to the hubs falling asleep at the wheel while waiting for the light to turn green. Oops. All is well. No damage done. On to see Papa Jim, as my children call him. He recovered from this episode and went on to rehab and after 10 days in Florida we headed back to Stillwater to process our lives.
We were home for one day before hopping back in the car and returning to Florida. This was our third trip to Florida in one month with one more on the horizon. Sadly, it was to say goodbye to Jason’s father who passed away. In the midst of these physically hard and emotionally draining trips to Florida we met with our pastor and it was decided it would be best if we stepped out of ministry for a time to focus on healing. Healing my physical body. Healing our marriage. Healing our family life.
As if a job change and possible relocation and a death in the family wasn't enough, we found out we were pregnant with our fourth. A happy moment amidst the chaos. We had also brainstormed about how to make life sustainable for our family. Live small. Live simply. Tiny house maybe? We weren’t sure how it would all work out but we knew we needed to move close to family and to move into something much smaller. Something manageable for my adrenal fatigued self.
On our way to Florida for what would be the last trip we got a phone call from a friend with a job offer. Live on his farm in an RV rent free, while receiving an income for helping him develop the farm into an event venue and running AirBnB cabins on the farm. My parents live an hour from this farm. Win, win. We accepted. We finished renovating our kitchen (that we tore out just before our family vacation to Florida in May…epic bad timing) and sold our house and moved to the farm in Texas. We bought an RV for ourselves and got settled in.
I was 20 weeks pregnant by the time we got to the Hill Country and had pretty much overseen my own prenatal care up to that point, labs done at 8 weeks and diagnostic ultrasound done at 20 weeks. That about sums it up. We prayed. Affordable hospital birth this go round or pay the midwives out of the savings from the sell of our house? I couldn’t see this birth happening any other way. It had to be in the RV. Midwives it is. At 27 weeks we hired a midwife. She was lovely but she didn’t work out.
Christmas and New years came and went and at 34 weeks we found ourselves with a new set of midwives. A God send. Oh, and a birth photographer. How many times in your life are you going to give birth to a baby in an RV on a farm? This should be documented. We had our team and it was a stellar team. We had already downsized from a 2,000 sq ft house to a 40 foot RV. When it comes to baby things we just had the basics. With a little KonMari action all the baby clothes fit in one dresser drawer. Baby bassinet in the bed. Changing pad on top of the dresser. Which really isn’t necessary but it sure is nice. My body provides the baby food. Food? Check. Clothing? Check. Shelter? Check. Baby can come now!
There’s nothing like a week and a half of prodromal labor to leave you wondering if and when this baby will actually come. But I knew when it was go time it would be quick because those prodromal contractions were no joke. They were doing something! Tuesday, the day before D-day, we headed to the chiropractor then to dinner then to the store. While my hubby ran in for some groceries I carefully cleaned up puke that came from our 2year old out of nowhere. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” I’ve birthed a baby on the heels of a stomach bug before and it’s no fun. But that’s another home birth story for another time. I went to bed that night thinking these contractions I was having meant nothing. I would wake up pregnant for another day like I had for the past week and a half.
Well, at 130 I woke up to what felt like a transition contraction and seconds later my water broke. Partially, that is. “Jason, my water broke. Can you get me a towel?” Then it was game on. I already felt like I was ready to push. At 2 we called the midwives. Midwife number one arrived at 230. Midwife number 2 and student midwife arrived sometime after. I stopped keeping track. I was breathing through what felt like one long contraction that waxed and waned between a cramp to a hardcore contraction. I had called the photographer 5 times around 2 with no answer and I’m glad I mentioned to my hubby between contractions that i still hadn’t gotten ahold of her. He called her. It was the only call that went through to her phone that night. She arrived precisely 8 minutes before baby boy made his grand entrance. Her text: ETA 345. Baby born: 353.
The building pressure from the partially broken water was about to do me in. I looked to my husband and said, “You need to pray.” He prayed. Prior actions during my labors and deliveries: sleeping and buying a car. Not even kidding. This labor and delivery? Errand boy, leaning tower, prayer warrior, back masseuse, encourager, cute daddy in all the pics. He redeemed himself this go round, I must say. After leaning on my hubby and gently pushing during one contraction the rest of the water broke and the pressure was relieved. Whew! I had to relocate. I shoved the blankets and pillows off the bed and directed where to put the chucks pads. I climbed on top of our little queen sized mattress in the RV master and with Jason behind me I knew it was time to push. For reals. I pushed and out came his head. I reached my hand down and cupped his sweet little head in my hand and in my excitement I quickly pushed again and in one fell swoop that baby was born and in my very own hands. Joy abounded! Jackson Elliot Arnold had arrived. Six pounds and 13 ounces of pure preciousness joined our family. Our family of 6 in our RV on the farm. The team of midwives, myself and my hubby plus the photographer on one end, my son and two daughters sleeping peacefully on the other. A happy little kitchen and living room in-between where healing herbal tea was brewing.