The Perseverance of Pregnancy | A Birth Story | Peoria-Bloomington IL Area

Sometimes these beautiful moments happen at a home birth. Siblings are there. They pop in and say, "Hi mom!" at just the right moment. That child represents a precious gift in so many ways, and one of the greatest is giving a mother the opportunity to feel centered again. She remembers that there is an end to this labor and the prize is right before her: another child, a journey, a new adventure. The older child comes into the birthing room like it's just another day at home. However that quick hug and little "I love you" keep mom grounded, they keep her going.

Megan needed something to keep her going.

Laboring mother breathes through a contraction during a photographed home birth in the Peoria-Bloomington IL area. 

I arrived to Megan’s home in Bloomington at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning. She had been in labor since 9:00 p.m. Sunday evening. She was in good spirits, but a lot of pain. The whole team was there though: doula, doula/midwife in training, midwife, husband, myself as photographer. Things looked good. We were all very confident there would be a baby in a few hours. I watched the sun rise and watched as beautiful morning light flooded Megan and Seth’s bedroom.

Seven o’clock hour came and went.

Laboring mother wades in birth pool during a photographed home birth in the Peoria-Bloomington IL area. 


Seth offered everyone coffee, tea, water, beer, ice cream. And we waited. Contractions were regular. They were painful. Small breaks. Light conversation. And we waited.

Eight o’clock hour came and went.

Mother labors during photographed home birth in Peoria-Bloomington area. Dad sits at birth pool to offer encouragement. 

Nine o’clock hour came and went.

Brittney Hogue photographs the progression of contraction during a long labor and birth of a newborn baby girl. 

Ten o’clock hour.

Big brother checks on mom during a photographed home birth in the Bloomington-Peoria IL area. 

Eleven o’clock hour.

Expectant dad kisses wife on head during labor at a home birth in Peoria-Bloomington IL area.  Doulas Jessica Pope and Malory Teegarden as well as midwife Brande Ruskusky watch patiently. 

Expectant dad kisses wife on head during labor at a home birth in Peoria-Bloomington IL area.  Doulas Jessica Pope and Malory Teegarden as well as midwife Brande Ruskusky watch patiently. 


And all the while Megan was still regularly contracting. They were becoming powerful contractions... The kind that take your breath away, the kind that crush the hands of your support person. We were sure a baby was coming any time. How could a baby not be coming at any time?


Twelve o’clock hour came and went.


Megan was doing all the things she was supposed to. Frequent position changes, rocking, showers, relaxing in the birth pool. But this baby still wasn’t coming. We took a short break outside. Megan walked the neighborhood a spell as her contractions were starting to space out now. I saw her walk a good distance and pause to breathe through a contraction, walk a little farther, pause. How strange we all must have looked, hanging out on the driveway, watching her and the doula Jessica walk the neighborhood.

It was suggested at some point that maybe Megan needed rest. Her body had been laboring for hours at that point. She needed to refuel. After a few minutes of laying down back up in the bedroom, Mallory, Brandie and I decided we needed refueling too. So we took a little excursion for lunch. At that point reality set in. Megan’s labor had officially taken a detour. We were all exhausted. It was time for everyone to go home, there would be no baby today.

Two o’clock came and the birthing team entered Megan and Seth’s bedroom to meet an exhausted, emotionally drained mother. After a quick cervical check, it was clear that there was certainly going to be no baby soon.

Mother labors intensely during home birth photographed by Brittney Hogue in the Peoria-Bloomington, IL area. 

For one moment I want you to imagine what it felt like to be Megan. At nearly two weeks past her due date, Megan had been laboring for hours (nearly 24 hours) with little relief, had several days of “false” labor contractions, still had two young children to care for, and a home to tend. And after nearly 24 hours of constant labor, her birth team was leaving. We were packing bags and saying goodbyes and giving hugs. We were stating our best words of encouragement. But there was no measure of comfort to be given to a mother who wanted as desperately as Megan did to meet her child. That afternoon with beautiful light streaming through the bedroom windows, I saw a woman defeated. I saw her broken for just a moment. I saw her devastated for the briefest period in time. Ten months of carrying and growing this life force, the ever growing sense of urgency to hold that precious child in your arms…

Birth supplies set out ready for newborn during home birth photography event. 

These moments of perseverance are the ones that define us though. I am by no means a doula, but in the moment I do occasionally find the right words. For Megan it was reminding her that in a very short time she will look back at all of this and remember that above all else, she did it. That she was one helluva bad ass mother who labored for days and despite it all, she did it. In a very short time, she would bragging about how very awesome she truly is.

Tuuli Rhys arrived at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, weighing over 9 pounds. She was brought into this world safely and skillfully by her mother’s hands with the help of fantastic birth team. 

Newborn is brought into the work by mom, dad, midwife Brande Ruskusky and doula Malory Teegarden in Bloomington-Normal IL area. 
Mother helps guide out her newborn during a photographed home birth in Bloomington-Peoria IL area. 
Mother and midwife Brande Ruskusky hold and examine newborn in birthing pool during photographed water birth in Bloomington-Peoria IL area. 

Tuuli’s birth was a powerful and meaningful experience for all of us who were able to be part of it. It was the first time I cried at the birth of a child. I had never witnessed a mother persevere so intently, so diligently. Megan meeting her baby is an indescribable event, because I quite literally am failing to find the words to express the emotions I saw in her as the shock wore off and the reality tore in: Tuuli was here. She was safe and healthy and covered in vernix and hungry.

And just finally, finally here.

Mother and father rejoice in the birth of their newborn at home birth. Birth photographs taken in Peoria-Bloomington IL area. 
Father holds newborn for skin to skin contact with assistance of Malory Teegarden (doula) and Brande Ruskusky (midwife). 
Mother holds newborn for skin to skin contact during golden hour at home birth photographed in the Peoria-Bloomington IL area.