I know a lot of people thought we were crazy for wanting a home birth. Some were more outspoken about it than others! But luckily, Luke and I were on the same page about how we wanted things to go...and we had some extremely supportive family and friends...and of course an amazing Midwife and birth team (Amber & Stephanie) who we couldn't have done it without! Besides a very rough 1st trimester with extreme morning sickness (I lost 15 lbs from throwing up many many times a day)....we were extremely blessed to have a complication-free pregnancy, and perfect birth! Contractions started about 3am on the morning of Saturday, May 23. By 5am, they were 10 minutes apart, and by 7am, they were 5 minutes apart...somewhat painful but very manageable. My mom (designated support person and chef) and sister (designated photographer and Grace-entertainer) headed over to our house mid-morning. We spent most of the morning playing with Grace and watching HGTV. One highlight of the morning was finding that a mama deer gave birth to her baby in our backyard--gave us hope that today was a great day for birthdays. At some point in the afternoon, Stephanie came over to check my vitals and the baby's heartbeat and location. She knew I had some more time to go, so left and told us to let them know as things progressed...they would come back when we were ready. It was at this time that my contractions started slowing down, becoming less painful, and eventually stalled altogether. It was very frustrating, but I was able to take a nap, which was probably a blessing! After my nap, I ate lunch and contractions started coming back pretty strong. I was able to labor in the comfort of our home all afternoon, with just my immediate family, which was so nice. My mom cooked a huge dinner of roast beef and gravy...we all sat around the table and ate...I would have a pretty painful contraction, then take another bite, contraction, then bite...I'm so glad I was able to eat a hearty dinner before things started getting crazy. One of the great things about home birth is being able to eat and drink throughout your entire labor. After dinner, things kept getting more intense. We put Grace to bed, and hoped she would stay asleep! I moved from a chair to a birthing ball to my room...just wherever I was comfortable. We were keeping the midwife in the loop, but I was so nervous to tell them to come over, and have things stall again. As you know, May 23 was the night of the crazy storms and floods...so things were started to get pretty bad outside. At one point, I was holding onto a towel bar in the bathroom and broke it off the wall during a contraction...at this point Luke told Amber to head over. Stephanie arrived shortly after. It was around 9:00pm. Amber checked me (first check of the day) and I was at 9.5 cm and almost ready to push! It was such a relief to know that all of the pain and intense contractions had been doing their job, and we were almost ready to meet our little girl! Luke had gotten the pool filled up with warm water and I was able to get in. The water felt amazing. I found my spot and didn't move from that spot until she was born. I was able to start pushing pretty quickly after I got into the pool. Amber and Stephanie were so calm, professional, and really made me feel like I could do it...even though there were a few times I didn't know if I could! Luke was behind me holding me up, Amber was beside me, guiding and coaching me, Stephanie was cheering me on and taking notes, my mom was in front of me, watching and supporting, and my sister was taking some of the most amazing photographs that we will always cherish. Grace was somehow sleeping through my labor and the storms...which was a pretty much miraculous! Amber would occasionally check the baby's heart rate (she could even check it under water) and said it never accelerated or decelerated...Evelyn did so perfectly the whole time. Side note: She also said I had one of the strongest bags of water she'd seen and the cord was extremely tough too...it must have been all of those vitamins and supplements that I took religiously throughout my pregnancy! I think pushing was the hardest part for me...I was so exhausted, the contractions were so painful, and having to push with all my might was really difficult. My water finally broke on its own, and shortly after I heard Amber tell Luke I was only about 5 minutes away. I really didn't believe her...and even when I was pushing her out and she was telling me to feel her head I still didn't believe her. After the 2nd time of her telling me to "reach down and meet your daughter," I finally did- and she was all the way out! The moment I pulled her to my chest was absolutely amazing. It's crazy how you can be in so much pain in one second, and the next second all the pain goes away and it's the best feeling in the world.Complete euphoria. I kept thinking and saying "I did it! We did it!" She was perfectly healthy and started crying right away. She was alert, checking everything out. They put a towel over her to keep her warm, and I was able to just sit in the pool and hold her for the longest time. Luke went and woke Grace up to meet Evelyn, and she was so sweet and in awe of her baby sister. When her cord stopped pulsating, Luke cut the cord. Shortly after, he took her and got to hold her for the first time, while the midwives helped me out of the pool and into my bed. For the next hour or so, the four of us (me, Luke, Grace, and Evelyn) just laid in bed and bonded. She latched right away and we just stared and talked to her. While this was going on, the midwives were like little cleaning fairies...draining the pool, cleaning, starting a load of laundry! You would never have been able to tell a baby had been born in the house! When they came into our room, they gave Evelyn a little check-up on the bed next to me. We were shocked when Amber told us she weighed 8 lbs 11 oz! Grace had only been 7 lbs 6 oz and born at the same gestational age. The other big difference was Evelyn's dark head of hair. So precious! About 2 or 3 hours after Evelyn was born, everyone was out of the house (except my mom who stayed to take care of Grace). And we were left to love on our new baby in the comfort of our own home, in our own bed. While it was truly the hardest thing I've ever done, the whole experience was magical and I'm still in shock that it all happened, and that she's really here! We are so thankful and blessed to have this new little one in our lives!