It’s with a flood of joy that I introduce you to Sarah and Matt Donahue and their birth stories today! Our lives came together eight years ago across 800 miles of telephone wire, then morphed from professional to personal like the dancing hues of a kaleidoscope caught within a beam of sunlight.
Hannah and I attended the births of Sophia, Deklan, and Tessa… Matt and Sarah photographed my wedding to Steven… Matt and Sarah became the close friends of Hannah and her husband, Jesse… Matt’s sister, Megan was introduced to my son, Paul… Matt and Sarah birthed little Lucy… and Paul married Megan. I believe it’s safe to say our lives are irrevocably intertwined ♥
Join us now as Sarah tells us her tale!
My name is Sarah and I’ve had four babies at home with Kim! Her daughter, Hannah, has also been a part of three of my births. Each of my births at home has been unique and special. One of my many favorite things about Kim is her stories. From my first prenatal with my first baby, until now, I’ve never ceased to be entertained and enthralled with her stories. Often when she’s in town, I find myself and those in our company sitting, as though children at her feet, enraptured with a story she tells, soaking up the warmth and the wisdom. So, it’s a very great honor that she’d ask me to share my stories with all of you.
Let me start by saying I’ve not always been the natural, home birthing, gal I am today. In fact, early in our marriage, when many of our friends were having natural births with doulas and midwives, I said to my husband, “What’s to consider, pain, or no pain? Duh! When the time comes gimme that epidural!”
Well, God had this amazing way of slowly, but surely changing our hearts, and opening doors we had no idea needed to be opened until He’d brought us to a place where we were ready to receive the wonderful gifts He had for us.
When I became pregnant with my first baby, my sweet Sophie Joy, a friend of mine who’s a doula suggested I watch The Business of Being Born. Eager to learn anything and everything about this change that was happening to my body and the sweet child growing inside of me, I did as she suggested. Let me just say, I haven’t been the same since. To make a long, long story, slightly shorter, she helped me research my options, and, shortly after settling on a home birth, I found Kim. Matt and I were living out of state at the time, so I was interviewing midwives over the phone. Each person I talked to was kind and informative, but after talking with Kim Woodard for twenty minutes on my lunch break, I KNEW I’d found my midwife. Matt asked me a couple of times if I was sure, especially as I’d only talked to her for a few minutes. And I was. We started working with Kim when we moved home to Michigan at 36 weeks of pregnancy, and what a treat it was! She was everything I hoped she’d be and more. The birth of my sweet Sophie was beautiful! It was empowering and fast and furious and such new territory! I went into labor at 41 weeks, gripped Matt’s hand the entire time, pushed for an hour, and absolutely had to have someone holding my foot up through every push. Finally, I welcomed her onto my chest, so moved by it all that I sobbed uncontrollably. Sophie was born on New Year’s Day, and she truly was the start of something bright and beautiful! I have no regrets about how she entered the world, however, I do think birth, like anything else, is something you grow into. As we women grow and change and learn and experience, our births evolve as well.
Almost two years after we welcomed Sophie into our family, our son, Deklan, was born on October 10th, 2010, 10-10-10. His birth was even quicker. His was my only labor that started with broken waters. Kim, afraid after such a quick birth with Sophie that she’d miss it, came early and ended up asleep on our sofa. Because I told him to, Matt continued sleeping in our bed while I labored mostly in the bathroom alone, on the toilet as much as I wasn’t. As I got ready to push, I shouted from the bathroom, “I NEED SOMEBODY!” and almost instantly heard a shuffling of feet as Matt and Kim and my mom hurried to assist me.
I realized I felt rather stuck in the bathroom, so I said, “I can’t have this baby on the toilet!”
Kim replied, “Then just come in here!” in such a chipper, unconcerned, matter-of-fact way, I felt empowered enough to do what I was told.
Mere minutes later, Deklan was born into Kim’s and my hands on the birth stool, and I thought, “I didn’t think birth could get any better, but it did!”
Fast forward another two years, and there I was again, 40 weeks pregnant with our third baby. This birth is the story I wish to share in the most detail, because it was the most unique – surprising, frankly, the craziest birth experience of my four children. Talk about evolving! This time, my husband gave in to my desire to be “surprised” and we didn’t know who this little person was. Fast forward another whole two weeks, and I was 42 weeks pregnant during one of the hottest summers we’d had in years, convinced I would NEVER have my baby. I’d pretty much given up all hope of going into labor – I’d be pregnant forever! And then, what do you know, labor began!
Our family attended a going away party for a dear friend of ours that night and I was more miserable than ever. When I sat down I was okay, but every time I stood up I had contractions. I was moving slowly, very literally waddling my humongous self from one spot to another, afraid to hope this might be it. On our way home from the party, I was pretty well convinced I was in labor and I began to get excited. Knowing Kim’s advice in such situations, I put the kids to bed, put on a cozy nightgown, and laid down. I did call and alert Kim that I was in labor so she could be ready, and let our families know what was going on, but then, only because I knew I should, I tried to get some sleep. Nothing doing. My contractions continued to come faster and stronger, so I called and said, “Come!”
I was so excited! I desperately wanted to capture this birth on video, having been unable to do so before, so Matt got the cameras ready. Being wedding photographers, we had all the right equipment. There were lights set up in our bedroom, and two different DSLRs ready to capture the big event! We were settled into the living room, breathing and chatting through contractions, when Kim and her daughter Hannah arrived. Hannah checked me, and I was at seven centimeters already. Kim settled herself at our kitchen table to do paperwork, while Hannah, Matt, and I remained in our living room. In complete contrast to Deklan and Sophie’s births, I was in a chatty mood, and the three of us shared lighthearted stories, laughter, and conversation in between contractions. And when the contractions came, they didn’t even hurt that badly! We’d go silent for the duration of the contraction, then go quickly back to our chatter. Kim, I’ve since learned, had fallen asleep with her head on our kitchen table. She’s told me since that she was quite put out we weren’t taking this birth seriously, and thought I’d never have the baby if Hannah and Matt wouldn’t leave me alone and let me get down to business!
At one point, Hannah suggested I put a blue pad under my bottom so as to not wreck the couch if my water broke, and it was a good thing she did! All of a sudden, I had a contraction to beat all other contractions. It was so long and so painful, and then I felt the gush of my water breaking. As the contraction finally finished, we found we had, in fact, saved the couch! And we felt that now we should probably get serious. Hannah helped remove the soaking wet pad, and we got my wet gown off me. I was determined to change into another nightgown, or, at the very least, a sports bra, because I really wanted to be able to share my photos with family.
I headed toward the bedroom ready to change and get things moving! Matt went to the bedroom to make sure the cameras were rolling. But as I made my way there, I felt the need to pee. I told Hannah and headed down the hall to the bathroom. I’d just finished and stood up when THE contraction hit. For the second time, my body contracted so hard and so long that I thought perhaps I couldn’t take it. And there, standing with my hand on the back of the toilet, I felt my baby move down. I put my hand between my legs, and sure enough, I felt a tiny head beginning to emerge! I frantically called, “It’s coming!!!” and in the midst of a violent contraction, heard the commotion of three people rushing to answer my call. Kim made it to my side and was able to sweep a blue pad under me while Hannah put her hands alongside mine on my baby. My sweet, amazing husband ran into the room and caught on film one of the most intense, scary, and yet amazing moments of my life. I caught my baby in a rush, standing in front of the toilet, thankfully, in the presence of three of the people I’ve come to love most in the world. I was exhilarated, and at the same moment, terrified I would drop him or her.
I clutched my baby for dear life as my husband exclaimed over and over, “Oh my gosh! Wow! That was so fast! Wow! Sarah! Wow!” and the four – oh wait – now five of us, made our way slowly into the bedroom, Kim holding my arm, Hannah holding a blue pad under my bottom, Matt holding the camera and capturing it all on video, and me holding the most precious bundle to my chest.
We were all in a state of shock I think as I came to the bed and climbed on top of it, my arms still wrapped tightly around this new little life. I soon realized none of us had gotten a peek at whether the baby was a little boy or girl, so I carefully pulled baby’s soft, sticky body away from my chest and looked. A girl! A perfect 8lb, 8oz bundle of heaven, born on Labor Day, 9-3-2012, another really cool birth date for my third child. Tessa Abigail was our surprise baby in more ways than one, and I still LOVE to tell her birth story. I wish with my whole heart I’d been able to get another gown or bra on so I could share the incredible video footage with the world, as it really is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, but, unfortunately, as my birthday suit is rather inappropriate for public viewing, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Since Tessa’s birth, Kim got married and moved away, and I, like others, felt rather heartbroken! Thankfully, after photographing Kim and Steve’s lovely wedding, her daughter, Hannah, and I reconnected and began a friendship. She has since turned into the sister I never had, and we are as much kindred spirits as anyone else I’ve ever known. So, when I got pregnant with baby number four, though missing Kim, I knew I’d love having Hannah as my midwife. But, as is often His way, God surprised me with a glorious gift. Hannah, too, was pregnant and due two weeks before me, and Kim, who, of course came to help bring her grandbaby into the world, graciously agreed to attend my birth while she was in town. To say I was overjoyed to have them both by my side would be an understatement.
My lovely Lucy Eden was born into this world on 12-3-15, yet another very cool Birthday. Her birth was, again, a surprise all its own. We all thought, after Tessa’s slam dunk arrival, that this baby would probably just fall out of me! Instead, I labored as long and hard as I ever have, and I groaned and complained through it all more loudly and more chagrined than ever before. But, we captured it all on video, and I was more decently attired, and I caught her myself on the birth stool! Aaaaand, my oldest daughter, Sophie, who was seven, served as my “doula!”
Needless to say, I’ve had four INCREDIBLE births, each of them glorious and beautiful in their own right. And I was honored and privileged to have Kim, and then Hannah, be my midwife for all of them. Homebirthing my babies has been the most remarkable, special, powerful experience of my life, and I am awfully grateful that God, in His ever wondrous kindness and wisdom, led me down such a path as this.
by Sarah Donahue Photographs taken and provided by the Donahue family.
Thank you so much for the gift of your time!
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Kim Woodard Osterholzer, Colorado Springs Homebirth Midwife and Author
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