If you told me twenty years ago that in twenty years time I would meet my soulmate, with whom I would have five children and that I would homeschool and travel full time in an RV, I would have laughed and have you committed. I’m pretty sure the only thing at the age of twenty that I was concerned about was what career I would pursue for the rest of my life.
Fast forward to our fifth child, we have created a life that is dedicated to God, our marriage and our family. Our faith has grown stronger with each challenge we have faced. We have learned to accept struggle for the growth we will gain. We know that we can endure any trial as long as we know God. We were surprised to learn of this pregnancy while we were traveling across the country on our full-time RV adventure. It was not in our plan to pause our trip and have a baby but God laughs at our plans and shows us that His plan is much greater.
Once we discovered that we were expecting, we knew we wanted to be in Texas near our family to have the baby. We wanted our midwife from our past home birth to attend the birth of our second son. We also wanted a home birth. We were not sure what that would look like since we did not have a house. We looked into using the services of our midwife at a birthing center which was an option, but with an added expense. We thought about renting a house for a month which was even more expensive. Then we finally decided on using my sister’s house as our birthing suite, which was the set plan until two weeks before the baby was born.
When we arrived back to Texas we stayed at an RV park for two months that was thirty minutes to my midwife for appointments and thirty minutes to my sister’s home for birth. As the end of March drew near, we had to decide to stay at our current RV park for another month or move campgrounds. The park we were currently at was fine but the road noise was a bit annoying and the only amenities for our kids was a small pool and paved roads for their scooters. The price would increase and I couldn’t see myself paying so much for a park with very few amenities. In case we needed to stay at the RV park postpartum, amenities would be nice.
Deciding on a new campground which was only thirty minutes away was by far the most difficult RV campground decision we have had to make during our six months of traveling. Some of the factors that needed to be fulfilled were location or proximity to my midwife and sister, amenities for the kids, I wanted to be able to see myself recovering postpartum in a place where my children would enjoy. The place we finally decided on was perfect for us, with an even perfect spot and a beautiful view of a field dotted with wildflowers and surrounded by trees. It was the perfect spot to relax and prepare for the birth of our newest member. It was also a little farther away from my midwife and my sister.
Within a week of moving sites I decided that I wanted to have the baby in the RV. I had originally felt that I needed the pool for a water birth which obviously cannot fit in our camper. I was also anxious about the logistics of getting my children and myself to my sisters while having contractions. We had bags packed for all of us with our birthing kit and pool stowed safely in our car. We were prepared to head to my sister’s house at a moments notice. Ryan and I prayed about it and finally talked to our midwife. She put it into perspective that we really did not need much to have a baby. She came for a home RV visit and put my mind at ease with our decision.
Our midwife has visited us in our RV on the Monday after Easter and we had our baby that Saturday. I had been having contractions that entire week and the week prior that were especially consistent when I would lay down at night. It was wearing me out and to top it off I had been dealing with a pain in my pubic region that made it hard to walk and move. We had visited my sister on a Tuesday and she suggested that we leave the kiddos with her so I could relax and maybe try to get labor to progress. We kept Nicholas and the girls stayed two nights with their aunt. I tried to focus on relaxing, walking and getting rest since I had very little sleep the past few weeks. I was feeling pretty defeated after another night of no signs of active labor. Ryan took me shopping for bras and groceries. My sister returned the girls home on Thursday without a baby for them to greet. On Friday I visited the chiropractic to help with my pelvic pain and was feeling up to the challenge of working on getting baby in position. Ryan and I did two rounds of spinning baby techniques before we went and grabbed pizza for movie night. We picked up Crust at the Marina shopping center. We walked along the water, checking out the boats. We came home and watched the Wilderness Family.
I laid down after everyone went to sleep and started having contractions again until after midnight. I decided to get into a position that helped with Nicholas’ birth. The flying cowgirl helped break my water with my last son, let’s see if it would work this time. I didn’t have the peanut birthing ball I did last time so I just propped pillows between my knees. When a strong contraction came and bent backwards with my knee bent and my toes reaching for the back of my head. Saturday morning at 12:30 am, my water broke. I alerted my midwife who told me to rest and let her know if contractions start to pick up. They did not. My mom happened to be awake at the time of my water breaking. She already planned to come to Houston for an Astros game for her birthday. She told me she would leave early to get the kids and take them to my sisters house.
By noon we were alone, just Ryan and I and a baby in my tummy. Contractions did not pick up, we needed to have a baby within 24 hours of my water breaking or risk going to the hospital. The pressure was on and Ryan and I worked on hypnobirthing and spinning baby techniques. Around 3pm our midwife checked in and we still didn’t have any consistent contractions. I was bouncing on a ball and working on opening up my hips. She suggested a breast pump which I didn’t have. I messaged a friend around 3:15 to see if she had one available. In the meantime we had exchanged our slow meditative music for salsa music and 80s hits. I had decided that nipple stimulation would be just as good as a breast pump. That was the “on” button because very soon after I started having intense contraction after contraction. We called my midwife during that time and she asked how I knew I was in labor. When I answered her with a very loud and painful “because” during a contraction, she was on her way.
At this point I had been laboring in the main area of the RV, I decided it was time to move onto the bed where I would be more comfortable. Ryan will still trying to time contractions as I was trying to hold him for support. “What are you timing for?! The midwife is coming and I need you!” Dads, if the contractions are keeping you from timing the contractions, then you may be having a baby very soon. I held onto Ryan with every contraction remembering the words of the lady from the hypnobirthing. ‘Allow gravity to bring your baby down and with each contraction you are dilating and preparing to welcome baby.’
I was on my knees on the bed with Ryan standing on the floor beside me. I remember propping one leg up with my last birth, so I planted my right foot on the bed to help open up my hips. I could feel the urge to push but my midwife had not made it in just yet. As I prepared for another contraction I heard her walk in five to ten minutes before baby arrived. She reassured me to keep going and at 4:41pm, Ryan caught our son into his arms with help of our dear friend and midwife. Leah our second midwife was minutes behind the birth and they both helped baby and I transition to resting in the bed while I passed the placenta.
Baby Joseph Daniel was safely snuggled on my chest while my midwives buzzed about documenting and preparing me to enter into recovery. They discovered my umbilical cord was in a true knot which can only happen when the baby is small enough to swim around and create said knot. God’s protection over my pregnancy is not lost on me. I’m so thankful for God’s design and the ability to birth such a healthy baby at home. Yes my RV is my home and the place I felt most comfortable laboring.
Most people ask if the fifth child was more or less painful. It was probably the most painful. But I also think the loss of water contributed to the pain. Once that baby is out, a euphoric sense of calm blankets over you until you need your placenta removed…. Which is more painful that an active labor contraction in my opinion. Also I would say that the day your milk comes in is the most painful. I was in tears having to get out of bed. I needed Ryan to drag me out. I cried nursing the entire night. Having the baby was a piece of cake compared to breast feeding pain. But it doesn’t last and I took the ibuprofen because I am not a superhero. I’m much more than that, I’m a mom.
It was a beautiful day, my mom’s birthday. The weather was cool, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. God was definitely smiling down on our little family.
I recorded Ryan and I talking about the birth just 24 hours after so I would remember the details. Check it out here.
I listened to Christian hypnobirthing videos for the week before my labor and it helped so much. Check them out here. The repetition of the affirmations really sink in and I remembered them during the most intense part of my labor. We didn’t have any music playing at the time of Jospeh’s birth or record anything because it went so fast!