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Baby Wipf, The Accidental Home Birth | Family Photographer Lethbridge, Alberta

If you caught my last post about the Wipf's (read it here) you'll know that I was sooo excited to photograph Briley when he was born. I didn't know he would be born in such a flurry, and his birth story is honestly one of the most exciting and intense birth stories I think I have ever heard. Although those are common adjectives to use to describe labour and child delivery, this story is so unique in its own way, that I asked Trinity if she would share her story with you, because I know it's just something incredible you don't hear every day. Timing is important in this story, so pay attention to how quickly things moved as Trinity tells us in her own words:

"I woke from my sleep at 2:30 am with contractions. The sudden intensity of the contractions had me puking by 3 am every 10 minutes. Around 6:40 am, my contractions were getting more frequent at every 5 minutes for 30 to 50 seconds. I decided to draw a bath and stopped timing my contractions. I had hoped my son Brody would wake up soon so he could go stay with his grandmother, and my husband Kenneth and I could go to the hospital.

My water came out but did not break

I laboured in the bath from 7 am until around 7:30 am and got out for a drink of water. Finally Brody woke up around 7:45 am and I told Kenneth to go tend to him. I entered the tub again.

I started to feel pressure like I needed to poop so I got out of the tub to try to sit on the toilet. The contractions and pressure made me sick again. Then I felt like I needed to get on my hands on knees as I felt something like a sack emerging from between my legs. At 8:15 am, water came out but did not break. I yelled for Kenneth to tell him to take a photo of the water membrane sack and told him we needed to go. I knew he was going to need time to get ready so I got back in the tub.

The warm water was soothing. During a contraction I would get deep in the water and push against the bottom of the tub to control the pain. It’s wasn’t much longer that Kenneth was in the bedroom getting dressed and I told him I felt like I had to push. Oblivious to just how deep in labour I was, I asked him to pick me out some clothes to go to the hospital in.

Each contraction was stronger than the last, and about 4 contractions later, I felt down and could feel baby’s head coming. We live out in rural Alberta, so Kenneth was outside making a call to 911. I shouted for him to come quickly because the head was coming out, but he was outside in our yard, on his third and finally successful attempt of dialing the 911 operator. The yard was the only place he could get steady reception to actually call for help.

The cry my heart was searching for

In that moment I felt scared because I didn’t know if I should keep my hips out of the water for the next contraction so my baby's head would be out of the water. I had heard about home and water births, but I hadn't planned on having one, so I really had no idea what to do. It was in that moment that a calm, knowingness came over me and I was able to birth my son into this world, entirely alone.

I decided to lower my hips for the next contraction and to push hard. I hadn't even realized that the baby would have oxygen through me from the umbilical cord, and that he would be alright if I birthed him in the water, all I knew was that he was coming right now. With that last push, baby came out and I caught his little body in my arms. Pulling his head to my chest, baby wasn’t crying but baby was breathing and alive. I took a breath.

In a deep part of my body, I just knew what to do. His body was purple, so I began moving my hands around his body in an attempt to provide circulation and that provided some color to his body. I was concerned that baby hadn’t cried hard so I knew I had to blow into babies mouth to provide more oxygen. I did this twice and got the cry my heart was searching for.

We tied the umbilical cord with a shoe lace

Finally, Kenneth entered the room. It was 8:47 am. I noticed the umbilical cord was wrapped around babies arm. together we moved the umbilical cord off babies body into the water. Kenneth brought EMS on the phone and they started to give directions to tie the umbilical cord. Ken went to look for a string but came back with a ribbon. It wasn’t going to hold so Ken went to get his shoe laces from his dress shoes that he had worn a few weeks before for our maternity photoshoot. We finally tied the umbilical cord with the shoe lace.

About 5 minutes later the Claresholm paramedics, Lisa and Conrad, arrived to our home. They provided an umbilical cord clamp and scissors so Kenneth could cut it. Paramedic Lisa took our new baby, who we named Briley, and wrapped him in a towel then wrapped him in a blanket. The paramedics instructed me to get out of the tub and to sit on the toilet to try and birth out the placenta with “gravity”. By 9:27 am Ken was holding baby at the bedside while paramedics helped grab me slippers, robe and bra. I needed more help with labouring my placenta so the ambulance was going to take me to Lethbridge.

I was worried I was going to need surgery

Things had progressed so quickly, so by this time Grandma Szulak and Grandma Wipf we’re in the living room entertaining Brody. I asked the paramedics if Grandmas could hold Briley. Grandma Wipf took Briley first and then went to show Brody. Then Grandma Szulak did the same as I sat at the table. Brody sweetly took my hand and wanted me to come play. I walked out the door and Ken helped me across the ice with baby in my hands. I got strapped into the stretcher and baby Briley lay on my chest and breastfed.

Paramedic Conrad was in the back asking for instruction from the hospital and saying we were coming to labour/delivery. They suggested cord clamping the umbilical cord and tugging to help encourage the placenta to come out. Paramedic Lisa stopped the ambulance and did as instructed. I kept thinking how bumpy the ride was and how usually I would be so car sick but with everything going on, I didn’t feel nauseous.

Lisa wanted to put a IV in but I told her I was nauseous and wanted to wait until getting to the hospital. I never ended up needing a IV. Lisa and Conrad pushed me through emergency and up to a delivery suite where I was handed off to two nurses.

They pushed on my stomach, hard, and told me to push as a doctor entered the suite. After two pushes my placenta was delivered. Thank goodness. It had been nearly two hours since Briley was born and I was worried I was going to need surgery because the placenta had taken so long to come out. The nurses then asked me if I wanted anything for pain and I said yes. The doctor was in a hurry, she wanted me to stitch me back up as I needed only two stitches in a sensitive area. Funny enough, the doctor wanted to add in freezing to do the stitching and this was the most painful thing.

It was incredible, feeling so strong

All of a sudden I became very aware of my experience. I wanted Kenneth to be there holding my hand. It all was sinking in, how alone and painful everything was right now. I started to cry.

The nurse offered me laughing gas. I accepted it and was able to focus on my breathing. I started to feel dizzy and knew I didn’t want anymore gas. 15 minutes later, Kenneth showed up with my prepared birthing bag. The nurse brought in lunch and asked if I wanted to shower before moving to labor and delivery.

It felt incredible, feeling so strong and independent to walk there alone. I was able to take care of myself and be mobile in the room. I sat in the wheelchair and we as a family moved over to the maternity ward.

I had an overwhelming sense of being complete, having my baby in my arms and my husband next to me. This was love. I was with my people. It was all laugh worthy now, the entire experience. All the stress of the day melted away and I realized how courageous, and brave I was, and how amazing the birth of our second son, Briley, truly was. My heart swelled with pride thinking about the events that had so quickly unfolded. All said and done I went into labour and delivered my beautiful son within 6 hours. I wouldn't have wanted to do it alone, but it turned out to be the best experience of my life."

I knew when I photographed this newborn session for Trinity and Kenneth, and they shared this incredible birth story with me, that it was something I would never, ever forget. So Trinity if you're reading this, thank you for sharing this story with me, and allowing me to share it with the world. You truly are brave and courageous, and your family is absolutely beautiful. It was an honour being there to tell this part of your family's story.

- Katie


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