The Birth of Pemberley Aura

I was so happy to get the text that it was time!  Bethany’s home birth dreams would get to come true – right at 42 weeks!  Thank you for allowing me to capture this day and for sharing your beautiful story!

“Our first child, Stella, came at 40 weeks and was triggered by a pedicure (unintentionally). So imagine my frustration when little Pemberley didn’t come till 42 weeks, and after we had tried nearly every natural induction method we could think of!

We saw midwives again for this pregnancy (Sharon had been there for the birth of Stella so we wanted her again). And instead of birthing at the birth center like before, we were hoping for a home birth. Pemberley’s development had been healthy and perfect, and her big sister (and mommy and daddy) couldn’t wait to meet her.

I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions starting at 40 weeks, so I knew she was gearing up. Trouble was, they nearly always came at night, so I’d get excited that labor was real, only to be disappointed when they’d disappear. After 41 weeks, our midwives were giving us tips for helping to move her along, and I was seeing a chiropractor to make sure my hips and her body were in the best position for birth. We had even gone to UF Health for a biophysical profile, to make sure her heart, fluid, and movements were healthy. She passed 10/10 (and my mother’s intuition told me she was fine anyway), so we were confident to continue planning for the home birth.

Finally on Friday, at 41 weeks 6 days, all the midwife tricks paid off and I began having a very tight tummy around 6pm. It was a sweet day actually, since we had recently put up a swing set for our 4 year old and had been planting a garden. My husband Doug was taking turns pushing me and our daughter on the swing and would occasionally walk over to our newly planted veggie garden to check out how things were going. It was a beautiful final afternoon as a family of three and I was excited feeling the tightness in my belly.

During dinner the tightness had given way to real waves, but they were too irregular to time. We moved to Stella’s room for bedtime stories. I sat in the rocker while Doug read the stories, and noticed the waves were more consistent, so I began timing them with my phone app. It was about 8pm. Not only did they become more consistent but they quickly became more powerful and painful, and I couldn’t even finish story time, leaving Doug to put Stella to bed himself. By around 10pm they were around a minute long and were 4-5 minutes apart, so I called the midwife, my mom, and my birth photographer.

Everyone was here by 10:30 (Sharon came with her assistant, KellyAnne, a student midwife) and by then I was in a nightgown laboring on my bed. It was actually a happy, joyful time. My mom remarked on how much I was laughing! Truth is, I was so excited to be in labor. I don’t like being pregnant (although thankfully this one was easier than the first) and going two weeks longer was especially uncomfortable. I was honestly so relieved to be in labor, and also, while it sounds cheesy, I had no fear and knew I could handle it and was simply eager to meet “Pimms”. Not to mention I am blessed with an amazing, gentle mother, so with her, Doug, and my fantastic midwives, there was just so much love and support in the room. So between contractions, Doug and I just laughed and kissed and smiled. I’d go back and forth laboring on the bed on my side, or on the yoga ball, or standing and rocking back and forth.

waiting on baby during a peaceful happy home birth
cloth diaper belly cast and birth affirmations
at home grandma and husband support laboring mother at home

Then things got more serious. My moans starting getting louder and deeper, and I was quieter between contractions so I could rest, so Doug decided he should fill the birth pool.

midwife sharon schmidt listens to heartbeat while laboring on a birth ball and bed
It filled up quickly and getting in felt phenomenal. Our first baby was a water birth and I couldn’t imagine giving birth on dry land! So I was eager to get in.

At this point, time and sequence are hazy for me. At first, Doug sat on the floor by the side of the pool but at some point got in with me. I remember screaming more, and being thankful Stella was asleep. (My mom was there, partly to manage Stella should she wake but I was glad we didn’t have to worry about that.) I don’t recall how long I was in the tub. I suppose it was a couple hours at least, but I don’t remember it being that long.

with her family and midwives supporting her laboring at home in a birth pool

I felt a sudden pain in my back and Sharon told me it was baby descending. Shortly after, I began feeling like I wanted to push, so I asked Sharon to check me. I was only 7cm, but Sharon was wisely vague in her answer. Knowing I was only at 7cm might have depressed me. However it wasn’t much longer until something changed. I was in the pool so it’s hard to know, but I suspect my water broke and sent contractions into overdrive.

Then my contractions changed again. I no longer felt waves, where pressure would increase into a crescendo and then break for a moment. It was almost near constant pressure. With Stella’s birth, even during the pushing stage I still had some reprieve between contractions, but this time it was like Pemberley was ready to come and I couldn’t stop her if I wanted to. Looking back I think I made a command decision to go full warrior mama and just push nonstop. I had no rest from pain so I figured I might as well just push through, literally. Doug was sitting behind me in the tub, and I’d been squeezing his hands (bless him). We’d planned for him to catch her, but it became clear there was no time for him to move into position, nor could I even comprehend trying to change position at that point. I kept pushing and within around 15 minutes, I knew she was coming. My mama was given the job of watching the clock. Sharon finally said, “Reach down and grab your baby!” Suddenly she was on my chest! Just immediate bliss.

while giving birth at hoe mom pushes baby out during a contractionholding her baby for the first time bring relief and happiness

I can’t believe I was at a 7, and then 15 minutes later she was here! (Oh, and no tearing!) She was born at 2:29:59am, March 25th, on the day that marked 42 weeks!

I remember what I felt rather than what I saw. I remember the feeling of relief and rest, and lying back onto Doug’s chest, and his arms around me, supporting my arms as we held her. I remember how small she felt in my arms. Then, of course, the emotion hit. I was overwhelmed with love for my husband who had been so supportive and excited about this home birth since we’d first discussed it, and who had been the most perfect birth partner (again). And I was incredibly proud of myself and simply felt blessed. And after a rough and long pregnancy, I was simply in love with her and so thankful to finally have her earth-side, completely healthy. She made a sweet cry as soon as she hit the air.

in Mandarin a brand new baby born at home in the water naturallyafter welcoming their baby earthside a mother and father in a birth pool

Not sure how long we sat there but we eventually got out of the pool and I made it to the bed to deliver the placenta. I bled enough that Sharon felt I needed a shot of Pitocin, and that seemed to help.

after giving birth in the water at home they hold their brand new baby

At some point, I was able to get up to use the bathroom and put on a clean nightgown, and eat some hot soup. While I ate, my mama sat with me and Sharon and KellyAnne did the newborn exam.

Midwife Sharon Schmidt of Fruitful Vine in Jacksonville does newborn exam
Pemberley was perfect, and weighed in at 8lbs 4oz, and was 20 inches long. We began trying to latch her and had a little trouble as she was quite fussy, but swaddling her solved that problem and she latched just fine.

after being born at home skin to skin and breastfeeding

My mama finally got a chance to hold her before she went to bed in the guest room, then Doug brought Pemberley into her sister’s room so the sisters could “meet,” even though they were both asleep

arrived at home a newborn meets her big sister

Everyone packed up and we called it a night around 5:30am. Grandma brought Stella into our room the next morning (a few hours later, hah!) and it was like Christmas, as her baby sister had finally come!

We named her Pemberley Aura. I got Pemberley from Jane Austen’s *Pride and Prejudice* and kept it in the back of mind as a baby name for many years. We considered using it for our first daughter, but she didn’t look like a Pemberley – she looked like a Stella. I remember seeing this new little one on my chest, looking at her with joy and relief, thinking, “You look like a Pemberley!” Aura is a respelling of Doug’s mother’s name, Ora, and Aura also has its own lovely meanings. At this writing, she is one day away from being 8 weeks old. She is perfect and wonderful, growing like crazy, and bringing all of us so much joy. She is a delight, and so cheerful. And her big sister is simply in love with her. Seeing Melissa’s photos allowed us to relive the whole experience and we are so thankful to have such beautiful documentation of that most precious night. Thank you!!”

~Bethany Fitzgerald

If you are interested in having your baby’s birth day captured, I would love to chat!

6 comments
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  • JoyceBeautiful birth story.  These pictures have captured such emotion.  Beautiful memories for this family!  Congratulations!ReplyCancel

  • Cat FancoteOh what a lovely birth story!! I love that mumma listened to her body and pushed when it felt right, and not at the arbitrary 10cm. I started reading this birth story on my mobile, but then jumped on my computer so I could better view all the beautiful imagery! Love your work Melissa.ReplyCancel

  • Cat BrownWhat a beautiful story and beautiful birth. I love that mom contributed the story to the blog post. Melissa you captured this so well and I love all the details and that you shared so many images! I loved seeing them all. ReplyCancel

  • EJ TaylorOh, Bethany. that was so beautiful. I am so proud of you and Doug. What a journey together and two beautiful daughters. Love you both ReplyCancel

  • Eillen BarfieldCongratulations Bethany and Doug!  Thank you for sharing the beautiful  birth of your newest family member- Pemberley Aura.  It was amazing!  ReplyCancel

  • Amy DowellBethanyReplyCancel

Hi I'm Melissa!

I'm an introverted, T-shirt wearing, animal loving, nature admiring, lucky wife, mother of 3, photography and birth obsessed lady.