Willow Rae

It’s always extra special when I get to document the arrival of a fellow birth worker’s little one!  Mary, a doula in our community, shares her daughter’s birth story with us!

“There is a saying in the birth world that the 3rd baby is always a wild card as far as birth goes. As a doula, I have seen this to be true and I always say that EVERY birth is different no matter how many babies you have had. Even knowing all this I still stood by the fact that Willow would make her debut between 41-42 weeks, like my first two and labor would begin during the day and kick into high gear at night, like my first two. Little miss Willow threw us ALL for a loop. She was definitely my wild card birth!

The day before my contractions started I had spoken to both my cousin and sister who were supposed to be part of my birth team and leaving town that day. I assured them I was far from labor even though my due date was the following day. Due dates are guess dates and are usually just another pregnant day for me.

Later that night my husband kissed me goodnight and joked “wake me up if you have contractions.” I laughed because I have never been “woken up” with contractions before. I headed to bed around nine and then was woken up at 12:30 to very mild contractions. After about an hour of trying to go back to sleep, it hit me that this could be it. My doula brain told me to go back to bed, so I tried for another 2 hours to fall asleep. I could tell these contractions were getting stronger so I called my husband who was sleeping in my daughter’s room. We went downstairs and I ate something and we discussed what to do. This all felt so different to me. First, it was my due date and I never even considered having a baby before 41 weeks. My husband and I are such a good balance in labor. He is the one who has to rattle me and say “this is happening,” and I am always calm thinking we have all the time in the world. It is so funny to think about now but he always says “call the team,” even when I don’t want to. And thankfully I do but he is always right. This IS HAPPENING! I called my mom and texted my midwife and birth photographer. I was very hesitant to alert everyone because I know first hand that labor can stall and prodromal labor is very normal. But I also knew my team had kids and the more notice the better. I headed back to bed around 5 am and continued laying there having contractions, trying rest in between.

By 7 am my kids were awake and my mom was there helping them get dressed and fed. I could feel my contractions spacing out a little so I decided to walk up my stairs to get socks and by the time I got to the top I had a very strong contraction. The birth junkie in me did a little mental fist pump because strong contractions birth babies!!!! I decided we should make the labor bed(sheets, shower curtain, sheets), blow up the tub and pull out my birth kit. I sat there watching my husband “do all the things” and delegated from the birth ball, ha! Do yourself a favor one day and watch an excited husband set up for a homebirth. It is absolutely the cutest thing and brings on all the oxytocin for this birth obsessed girl!

I had my midwife come over at 8 to check me. She had just left another birth and was in the area. I was 5 centimeters! This was the number I was at when my midwife arrived at my last birth so this felt like a good place to be. My midwife went to lay down and rest and from there, things moved quickly! During the next 2 hours, I was on and off my ball and on and off the toilet. My two older children were in and out of the room, giggly and bringing me snacks and water.

With her daughter looking on mom labors on the birth ball
By 10 am I could feel more urges to push and I had my husband start to fill up the tub.

her husband and daughter fill up the birth pool while mom labors
I remember feeling like she was going to come out on the toilet if I didn’t get in the tub NOW! We woke the midwife and I got in the warm water and immediately I started to bear down and my water broke.

while laboring at home mom gets in the tub
With the next contraction, her head was born and I waited for the next contraction to come and the rest of her body was born. She came up between my legs supported by my hands and the midwife’s hands. Something that I hadn’t done in my last births.

while mom labors in the tub at home midwife tara checks her
with the help of midwife tara dettra baby is born into mom's hands
with midwife tara dettra mom catches baby born in the water at home
after being born at home mom's babies get to see the newest addition
We bonded and my girls FINALLY got to see their sister.

after the birth of their baby dad kisses mom at homeafter being born at home the whole family admires the babywhile still in the birthing tub mom looks at baby and her tiny hands
My midwife showed us her placenta and my girls got to see it attached to Willow, something we had talked about during my pregnancy.

as midwife tara dettra does a tour of the placenta dad, kids and grandma look onas they wait for the placenta to stop pulsing it is still attached to baby
after being born in the water at home dad cuts baby's cord
while his daughters look on dad holds the new babywhile dad and her babies sit by her mom breastfeeds
for the first time older sister hold and kiss the new babymom admires her tiny feet while baby breastfeeds at home
surrounded by her family baby breastfeeds while midwife tara dettra listens to her heartbeat
St. Augustine midwife tara dettra does the newborn exam on baby willowmidwife tara and the entire family help get baby willow's footprints
after birth baby girl breastfeeds with mom and is held by daddad, mom and their babies all help get baby willow into her first heart outfit

My two older girls were there to witness it all and that was exactly what I had hoped for. My mother had a homebirth with me and I grew up listening to her tell me my birth story over and over again. To come full circle and have 2 home births with her present and my older children have been magical. Really, absolutely amazing. Birth has completely changed my life and I tell my girls their birth story and hope they find home as a place to bring their babies earthside, too. So many people are in awe at how calm my girls were during it all. We spent my pregnancy looking at birth images and videos and talking about the female body working hard to birth babies. I repeated the phrase “mommy is going to make noises when your sister is born because my body is working hard.” Birth is HARD, but it is transformative. I have my husband, my mom, my amazing midwives (for all my births), and my three babies to thank for supporting me in my choices and giving me the birth autonomy that every mother deserves.”

~Mary F.


You can view Willow’s full birth story below!


Thank you for sharing!  I loved getting to capture such a special day for you and your family!

If you would like more info on Mary’s doula services, check out her website!

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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.