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Beautiful, Holy, and Undisturbed: Ani's Birth at Home with Baby Levi After Loss

First a little backstory:

I had three hospital births prior to my home birth. Each of them were pretty smooth, fairly quick labors, and I was able to birth vaginally without any medication just as I planned. However, each one left me a little frustrated. I began to educate myself more and more about birth, particularly homebirth vs. hospital policies. I read Mary Haseltine’s book, Made for This while pregnant with my third, and was debating switching to a midwife for a homebirth. I decided with that one to stay with my OBGYN.

As my husband Adam and I discerned a fourth child, though, I knew I wanted to have a homebirth. I had become a total nerd for all things birth related and enjoyed educating myself on physiological birth and how beautiful God designed it to be. It became a great desire of mine to experience a beautiful, holy, undisturbed physiological birth in the comfort of my home. So I had it all planned out, when we would start trying so we could have our baby around a certain time of year, when my older kids were a certain age. But you know that saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

For the first time in our marriage we did not get pregnant the first time we tried. When we finally did get pregnant a couple months later, I had a miscarriage. My husband and I were devastated by that loss but decided we would still try for another baby. We got pregnant again right after our loss, but at a 12 week checkup we discovered our baby had no heartbeat. We were again devastated. We decided to allow my body to birth our precious baby naturally. On Christmas Eve our sweet baby was born at home in the middle of a horrific Buffalo blizzard, not quite the homebirth I was dreaming of. That was without a doubt the hardest day of my life.

After that difficult loss, I decided I no longer wanted to try for another child. I didn’t feel emotionally able to put myself in that place again. But once again, God thought differently. On March 25, 2023 I was totally and completely shocked to find out I was pregnant. I was so shocked I didn’t even tell Adam right away so I could allow myself some time to take it all in. I finally told him a week later, on April Fool’s Day!

After we allowed the news to settle in, we started our journey preparing for our first home birth. We found a wonderful midwife, Natalia, and hired Mary Haseltine as our doula. Both were incredibly supportive and helpful, especially for my husband who was a still a bit skeptical about birthing at home instead of the hospital. Between my experience with my three previous births and the amount of reading I had done on birth, my appointments mostly consisted of me voicing how I was feeling and what I wanted for my birth. My birth plan was essentially to be left alone unless I informed my birth team that I needed something. I trusted my body to do what it needed to do and wanted the freedom to follow that as I pleased. It was so much better to be heard and supported in my decisions rather than feeling like I had to ask permission. I also appreciated that when it came to blood work and different routine testing, I was told exactly what it was and what my options were. For my previous births, I was simply told to go and get blood work and testing done without much opportunity for dialogue or questions. It was just expected and routine. Overall I felt much more in control of this pregnancy and much more informed.

As my due time was approaching, I was certainly feeling more and more anxious. I was due at the end of November and November is an extremely busy month for us. Besides Thanksgiving, we have six family birthdays, including my husband and son. My hope was to make it through their birthdays and Thanksgiving and then get baby out!

For several weeks leading up to my due date I was experiencing a lot of Braxton Hicks. As time went by they were getting stronger and stronger, to the point where I was starting to question when labor was actually going to start. On November 27 I had a morning midwife appointment, however I wasn’t feeling very well. I had had a few “false alarms” in the days before so I knew I was getting close. I had a strong contraction that made me stop and breathe through it. I called my midwife and told her I didn’t know if I was going to make it because I thought labor could possibly be starting and I didn’t want to get in a car if it was. She understood and told me to keep her posted. That ended up being the only strong contraction I had that day. Adam stayed and worked from home just in case. I had a chiropractor appointment that afternoon and when I walked in I told her to put me into labor! She laughed, adjusted me and did some acupressure points. I went home, and had a typical evening with Adam and the kids.

When we went to bed it wasn’t for long because at 1 a.m. I had a very strong contraction that made me cling onto him and wake him up. He turned to me and asked if this was it. I wasn’t totally sure since I had so many false alarms, including the day prior. About 10 minutes later I had another strong contraction and we both agreed that labor was starting. We called both our midwife and doula to give them the heads up. We didn’t want to ask them to come too soon, but with it being the middle of the night we figured they would want some notice. It was a good thing we did because things started to progress very quickly. Adam went downstairs and started getting the birth pool set up for me. I wanted to try and rest a bit more but at this point I was wide awake and contractions were becoming more intense. We called our birth team to start heading over, as well as my mom, who has been at all of my births. I made myself comfortable kneeling on the floor and resting my head on the couch. For the fourth time I was experiencing back labor so I was pretty familiar with what position was most comfortable for me to labor in.

As my birth team arrived, they came in and blended so nicely into the background. One of my favorite parts of my home birth experience is that there wasn’t a single stranger in my house. My midwife Natalia, her assistant LuAnn, and my doula Mary all knew each other and all knew my husband and me and what I wanted out of my birth. There was no paperwork to fill out, no questions being asked, no cervical checks, no IV - just a room full of people there to support me.

When Mary arrived she jumped right in applying counter pressure to my lower back through each contraction. When my mom came she sat by me and held my hand while Adam filled the tub, one bucketful at a time (his biggest regret was not buying a hose like Mary told him to!). When a contraction came he joined me and held my other hand while Mary applied pressure and prayed over me. What a beautiful experience to have someone pray over you during such an intense moment! In addition to praying over me, she would encourage me and tell me to allow each contraction be as strong as it needed to be. While that didn’t necessarily make them any easier, I felt myself giving in to each contraction as she would say that, allowing my body to relax and do the work it needed to do.

When the birth pool was filled and ready, I decided I was ready to get in. At first I thought being in the water was slowing my labor a bit, however I realized the warm water was actually taking the edge off of the contractions. Adam and my mom continued to hold my hand and support me through each contraction.

I was hoping I was getting close because the intensity was increasing and I was starting to get the “pushy” feeling. On a very strong contraction, I felt my water break and my baby’s head emerge all at once. I remember screaming out, “MY WATER JUST BROKE!” I reached down and could feel the soft hair of my baby! What an incredible experience!

Due to the intensity of that contraction, I felt myself having a hard time regaining my breathing, plus there was now the feeling of my baby’s head emerging. Mary gently reminded me to take it slow during the pushing phase, something we had discussed and I had told her I wanted to be reminded of for this birth. I held onto my mom and husband and leaned into them as I tried to calm my body and regain my breath. At this point I was praying for another contraction to help get baby out. I finally felt my body relaxing as it stretched and prepared to birth my baby. As I reflect back on this time, it’s amazing to think my body truly knew what it was doing. It was as if it knew I needed to regain control over my breathing and calm myself before my baby could be born. Our bodies are so intuitive! On the next contraction, my body pushed my baby out into the water all at once. I reached down, grabbed him, and brought him right to my chest. He was born at 4:34 a.m., just three and a half hours after my first contraction.

I did it. My baby was here, in my arms, in the dark quiet of the night, next to my Christmas tree with Silent Night playing in the background. Praise God.

We didn’t know the gender of our baby ahead of time since we like to be surprised at the time of birth. While we would have been truly happy either way, we both thinking what a gift it would be for our son to have a brother (we had two girls and one boy). After holding our sweet baby for a few minutes I held him out to see and sure enough, God gave us a boy! I remember crying out, “It’s a boy, Wyatt has a brother!” Our Wyatt had just celebrated his 5th birthday the day before so our boys' birthdays are just a day apart.

I sat and snuggled my sweet boy and relaxed in the warmth of the water. The only hands on my new baby were my own. He didn’t cry right away, he didn’t need to. Natalia gently checked his heartbeat and it sounded great. He and I were both at peace, still connected even though he was now born. I cherish this precious time after a new baby is born, sweet moments you can never get back. I looked to Adam to make sure we were in agreement on his name. Levi had been a favorite boy name of mine for a while and Robert is my dad’s name. He gave me a smile and a nod and we introduced our son by name to my mom and our birth team, sweet little Levi


My mom had commented that he didn’t look as big as the others. (My first two were just over 9 lbs. and my third was 10 lbs. 6oz. I make big babies!) I agreed with her as I studied his sweet little body all curled up on my chest. Hours later when I unwrapped him and handed him over to be weighed, Natalia exclaimed, “Oh no, he’s bigger than you think!” As she did his measurements she told us he was built like a football player, having the largest chest she has ever measured on a newborn baby! When it came time for the weigh in we were shocked that he was a solid 10 lbs. 7oz., making him my biggest baby (but only by an ounce).

The moments following Levi’s birth were so beautiful and peaceful. I held him in the water until I birthed my placenta. He never left my arms until I decided to get out, and then he went to his dad for some skin to skin. My birth team helped me up, wrapped me in towels and blankets, and got me comfortable on the couch. Levi was handed back to me and I began to offer my breast to see if he was ready to latch. Natalia was able to examine both Levi and me while we were snuggled on the couch. I was both shocked and incredibly grateful when she told my I did not tear and didn’t need any stitches! This was the first time I did not tear while giving birth, despite his size. I know that is because I chose the position that felt most intuitive and because I slowed down when it came time to push and allowed the contractions to do all the work.

From labor, to the birth process, to the time after Levi was born, nothing felt rushed, everyone was there to support Adam and me as we welcomed our new baby into the world. I was in control of my birth and my baby. It was a very different experience from being in the hospital and if I could repeat my first three births I would have had them at home too. However, I also appreciate what I learned from each of their births, allowing me to grow and arrive at the decision to bring Levi into the world in a completely different way.

God is good and He is faithful. His plans can be mysterious and challenging in the moment, but many times we can look back on hardships and see how His hand was at work even though we couldn’t see it at the time. Miscarriage is a storm that is very difficult to walk through and certainly not a part of any of our plans. However, a beautiful image came to mind after Levi was born. My first and my last babies are rainbow babies. I saw a rainbow stretching from my first child over my middle two and ending at Levi, my beautiful children covered under the symbol of God’s promise, the beauty that came after the storm. Thank You, Jesus, for these precious gifts!

Ani Jarosz is married to Adam and is mother to four on earth and three in eternity. She loves her family and runs on Jesus and lots of coffee! She is a homeschooling stay at home mom and part time Zumba instructor for over 10 years and also supports and encourages Adam with his business in coaching and men's ministry at Righteous Co. They hope to soon offer women's ministry as well!


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