If you haven’t seen part one of “The Tale of Forest Káel,” click here before you read any further.

To paint this story as best as I can, I try to take pictures of the time as often as possible so that you can see the hours that Jessica spent in labor. Again, remember that Forest Káel was born on August 29th at 3:33 AM.  It felt like an eternity at times, and then at times I couldn’t believe how fast time was flying.

Jessica’s poor body was so tired, she could hardly stand. All she could think about was wanting to sleep. The little man in her womb had turned his face a little and his head was catching on her cervix. Her midwives, for about six hours, tried everything they could to get things positioned correctly–adjusting as Jessica would push, having Jessica turn to different sides on her back, standing up with a leg on the bed, kneeling, etc.  I have never seen such horrible pain on someone’s face. It was dreadful to watch.

At times I would leave the room, curl up on my husband’s lap and weep a little. Brandon would look at me and smile with only the smile that could calm my heart.  Again and again…yells, moans, roars, screams could be heard. At one point Jess laid her head on her bed and cried out, “Jesus, I can’t do this anymore! Your going to have to help me, I’m so tired!”

The most emotional part for me was seeing Samuel (my brother) lean over and kiss her head and hold her hand. Seeing my best friend hurt was rough enough, but seeing my dearest brother see his bride hurt was so emotional for me.

August 28th at 6:26PM, the sun was still up a bit and all the grandparents plus my husband were sitting in the living room chatting, laughing and praying. Jess later told me that the sound of laughter from the other room in between her contractions was so comforting to her, reassuring her that it wouldn’t be like this forever.


Again, Jess went to the tub.  (Below is Damaris, one of her midwives)




I want to thank the midwives, Jordan and Damaris. They were so calm throughout the whole process. Having been part of approximately 300 births, their eyes spoke peace to our hearts. Nothing was abnormal, nothing was wrong. This is what it’s like to have a baby without drugs. Samuel’s instrumental CD, “Secret Whispers,” played all day.

b&w jordan

Every now and then, we would pour boiling hot water into the tub to warm it up.


I remember many times seeing Jessica’s mom, Rebecca, just sit in a corner and cry while watching her baby girl go through such agony.


Below is one of my favorite photos. Damaris is kissing Jessica’s hand. This photo has so much emotion in it.  It’s now around 7:30PM.


Jessica told me later, “The only way I could focus on getting through it all was to take one contraction at a time.” Samuel, Damaris and Molly (Jess’ doula) would hold her arms and place a cool rag on her neck. At this time, I think I thought that there was absolutely no way things could get worse. I was wrong.


This is the part I wish to forget–and I believe Jessica would agree –laying on her bed, holding onto the post or onto her husband’s hands. This was the hardest part of the whole thing for me…seeing a Jessica I had never seen before. I wish I had a stronger word for “pain.” This was off the charts. Our moms are both stunned.

moms praying

Samuel’s face says it all here.


I wept and wept when I would see him kiss her.


We all felt so helpless.


Can I just say that I posted the extra mild photos of her face in labor. These are probably a 4 on a scale of 1-10.


Meanwhile…the men found a way to watch the Dallas Cowboy’s game. (Jessica’s family is from Dallas.) Ruben would get up and start talking to the guys on the screen, asking them why they did such a stupid thing. We were laughing our butts off. My husband watched a documentary on science or something. (He doesn’t dig sports.) This was my great escape from what was going on 4 feet away behind a closed door.  Lifted a load.


Everyone is tired.


So my husband and I took a small walk as Jessica labored with just her midwives, trying to get the head of the baby to clear. I remember walking under the golden street lights in the Dogwood Hills neighborhood, almost crying as I told Brandon all the emotions I was feeling.

We got back to the house, and I laid my head on my husband’s lap. Jess’ parents, my parents and Brandon all sat on the couch feeling so helpless and so frustrated at the circumstance. The cervix had been stuck for around 6-8 hours. Jessica was at 9 cm for 10 hours. The only thing that wasn’t letting the baby come out was the cervix. I remember all of us feeling a little “depressed” if that’s the right word.

All of a sudden, I felt hope, I lifted my head and said, “You guys! This is gonna end well! It’s gonna be awesome! Jessica and Samuel are going to have a baby, and we are all going to be so happy! Jessica is going to be happy! It’s going to end amazingly!” They all kind of smiled at me, and then it was the deep sighs that filled the air. My mom got on her knees and began praying loudly and boldly that Jessica would get a fresh breath of strength to be able to push through.


About and hour later (or so), I hear Samuel and Damaris come out of the room. It’s a rush to get Jess back into the pool. I remember clearly what Samuel said to me: “Grab your camera, Beka, the cervix has cleared. She’s going to start pushing.”

I jumped up off of the couch full of crazy energy. We all got hope again! Jessica had a totally different mindset and energy. When I walked into the room, she was full of hope and was smiling. “We’re gonna push this baby out, right Damaris?” she said, talking to herself. She continued: “Jessica, you can do this!”

I cried again. We put Songs of Water’s CD on and tried to create a mood for tenacity.


Jessica told me later that this part was the best part. Her pushing felt so good. It was like an itch that needed to be scratched. Nevertheless, it was still extremely painful for us all to watch.


Meanwhile… I hear the Grandparents and Brandon from the other room rapping: “Push, push, get behind her.. and push, push…” My dad was playing some kind of drum on his iPhone and Brandon was playing a flute-like app on his iPhone. My dad was beat-boxing while Ruben and Rebecca were dancing and rapping.  Talk about feeling some relief when I walked in to see them all having the best time cheering Jessica on! Ha!



And in the other room… Jessica is grabbing the baby crib for support.


Jordan’s looking to see if she sees a head yet. (I love this photo)



Pushing and pushing…


Meanwhile… the Grandmas got the little crib ready for the little man.


So I pretty much love this part. I’ve been waiting to tell it.

Jessica decided that she wanted to get on the floor next to the pool in her baby room. She lay on the ground and leaned into Molly, her doula.  At one point she looked up at Samuel and says, “I love you, we’re gonna have a baby!” and then smiles.


I visited the living room again to find my mom so exhausted.


So two hours go by, Jessica is pushing and smiling and pushing and smiling. We start seeing the little man’s head. It was so unbelievable.


And then, it happens! August 29th, 3:33 AM, after 42 weeks of pregnancy, 43 hours of labor, 10 hours at 9 cm and 4 hours of pushing, Forest Káel’s entire head emerges. The midwives have Samuel help pull him out. And yes, it was the most incredible moment! I’ve never seen something so miraculous and perfect. As soon as the baby came out fully, Jessica sees him and grabs him. I cried. (You can see where his head was stuck at the cervix for so long.)

Here he comes

Samuel looks up at me with tears in his eyes. (I love these photos.) Mommy is so content.


I’m crying again, just trying to write this. Ah! The photos speak for themselves.


Jessica had them cover her up, and the Grandpas and Brandon came in to see the little miracle.





Samuel sang Káel a song he wrote him. We were all a mess with tears.


She did it!


A very happy family!


Isn’t she so beautiful with her newfound love?


Not long after the baby was born, they moved Jess into her bedroom, weighed the little man and checked him out.

Rebecca then called my name: “Jessica wants to talk to you!” I remember thinking, “Me?”

I went in and sat next to her in bed, and we began talking about it all. I felt like a little girl at Christmas time. Jess said,”Why didn’t you tell me my face swelled up so much?” I laughed, “Ummm…how would you have liked me to tell you?” I told Jessica how amazing and strong she was, how absolutely incredible she did, and how happy and proud I am of her.

I went home and went to bed. I had been over there for 24 hours. I was happy, but most importantly, Jessica was happy, and the family was happy. When I woke up, Jessica text me, and I went over to take her something. I sat next to her bed as she lay next to her husband and held her new little man. It was so, so beautiful. I cried again. We chatted about the last 48 hours, laughed and recounted the story. I felt so proud to be a part of little Káel’s life.

I spent most of that afternoon just choking up every now and then, feeling really tender and so happy at the beauty of life.  I went back over around 6pm that evening just to find mommy looking much better holding her little bundle of joy.


Jessica has inspired all of us, and I think that’s why we’ve all been so attached to her story. Her magnetic personality makes us all feel like we don’t have to live a normal life. She is a rare woman.


Keep up to date with Jessica, Samuel and Káel on her blog, http://bohobabybump.blogspot.com

And if you would, on her blog to the left side is a little box that says, “as seen on top baby blogs.” Click on that and vote for her blog to hit number 1!


Day two of this little life.



In case you wonder, Forest is his first name and Káel is his middle name. They are going to call him by his middle name, Káel pronounced (Kay-El).



I think it’s really quite interesting that on August 28th of 2009, Brandon and I moved from the midwest to come home, and Jessica rode with us to move out here to marry Samuel.  They got married September 12th. A year later, baby Káel is born. Who would have thought. So crazy to me.

And so, this is my conclusion after all of that: I love being Auntie Rivkah. I will probably take drugs when I have a baby, and I won’t have one for a little while longer. But until then, I have a little nephew to make my heart grow bigger and fonder.

It was an incredible experience, and I’m so thankful that I was there to witness it all.  I love a good story about “life” that makes you cry. I will probably be crying for a while yet.


Káel has changed us all.

To be continued…

If you would like to see part 3 click here

If you would like to hear more of Samuel and Jessica’s story, click here.
If you would like to see the prego pictures I took of Jessica at 24 weeks, click here.
If you would like to see the prego pictures I took of Jessica at 41 weeks, click here.
  • Brooke Bignell

    Wow! What an incredible, moving account of a wonderful little miracle being brought into the world! My mother told me i would never be able to see a pregnancy story after giving birth without crying, and boy did this make me cry! Congratulations to a wonderful family on little Kael.

  • I am tearing up reading this. I was working, got distracted, ended up here and got sucked in to your birth story. Beautiful. My baby girl, Gwyneth, turns one on Saturday. I also had a natural birth, labored at home and barely made it to the hospital… she was born only 9 minutes after we left our house. It’s such a miracle. I remember that pain. But they are so amazing and beautiful! I kinda want another…


  • pure joy bequeathed…

  • What a beautiful story and amazing pictures!! We’re expecting a he-baby in early March and he (like his brothers before him) will be born at home too. This is my 5th child, but only the first for my husband, so I can’t wait to share this with him. Thank you all so much for letting us share inthe best day of your lives!!

  • I LOVE her facial expression right afterwards. So happy, triumphant, and even energetic. I have a similar look on my face in a photo my sister took at my own home birth. Such a great feeling. Such a rush. so surprising that after so much hard work, and sleep deprivation, sweat, and pain, That smiling face, with that baby in her arms. You can just see “I DID IT” right there, in her face….Do not fear birth. It is such an important rite of passage, a gateway, a preparation for motherhood. That is not the face of a medicated birth. That is the face of a beautiful, wonderful, normal, empowering, UNmedicated, free, Home birth.

  • These pictures are absolutely beautiful. And I actually felt like I was there witnessing everything. Your work is amazing, Keep up the GREAT work!

  • what beautiful pictures and wonderful story. my first child was 24 hours of labor and three and 1/2 hours of pushing. i did it completely natural. i had 22 stitches after he was born. he was 10 lbs 1 oz and 22 inches long. he died when i had him and he didn’t breath for a full three minutes before they could revive him. he had to be on a respirator for two days. i think at some point, you have to tell yourself that it isn’t working and you need to do something else. i refused a c – section because i was scared. i would have been worried about your baby’s health for laboring that long and wondering if he was okay. sometimes you have to think less of yourself and your ideals and more about what is best for the baby. i am glad it turned out alright though. i don’t know if could have held out as long as you did and push as long as you did!

  • I love this story! The pictures are beautiful!

  • honey, these are gorgeous! she’s so inspiring, and you captured it all amazing.
    a friend asked me to photograph her next birth–may–and this post was just what i needed to inspire for birth photography! <3

  • i am 30 weeks pregnant with my fourth and crying, this was so amazing and beautiful and honest
    to read, thank you so much for the amazing plethora of photos, usually you don’t get such a great
    storyline from blog photos, this was just wonderful. i had my Lola eight years ago in a tub in a birthing
    center and i remember so well!

  • AWESOME!! I just found bohobabybump and in turn found you and I am IMPRESSED!! I have a 4 month old and can’t tell you how much I love reading/seeing something as beautiful as baby birthin’ Great job documenting and congrats on being an aunt!!

  • Wow, that i s amazing, I’m pregnant with my first baby, and I hate to say this but I don’t understand WHY someone would put themselves through so much pain when there is pain relief? Maybe I won’t understand until I have my baby…

  • So beautiful. I love that a birth story was told from an onlookers point of view. The pictures are beautiful.

  • Hey can I copy and paste this post on my web site? What references must I give? You might give this info for other people too.

  • That was beautiful! I am writing this with tears streaming down my face!
    What a wonderful birthing experience, I hope that in the not-too-distant future I will also be able to have a simular, empowering journey!
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Jessica Gatlyn: Wife…and (now) Mother :)
    This was so beautiful!! Thank you again for posting and allowing all of us to feel as though we were there to be a part of every glorious moment!! Rebecca, You are TRULY gifted!! Jesus has set a camera in your hands and you have captured the greatest moments of LIFE and LOVE!!! Dont stop doing what you do so well, girl!! Blessings to the Gatlyn Family!!! Its gonna be soooo good!!!!

  • wow. this is stunning beyond words. I am absolutely delighted for Jess and Sam! And Kael! And all of you wonderful, inspirational, joyful family who have invited the world into your story – a WELCOME mat for the Holy Spirit and the jubilant dance of the Father who welcomes us all into the family with such love and encouragement! I’m inspired to dream bigger, wilder, and more communally – knowing that journeys in the circles of relationship are better and more powerful.

    Thank you! Blessings of Holy Spirit swirls and whirls in the days ahead. May all five of your senses be open to His Presence to a new measure. Glory Glory and MORE Glory!

  • I LOVE the pictures of Samuel right after Forest is born. Made me cry! These are so awesome. I had twin boys 6 months ago (today actually) and wish we could have had them at home. This gives me inspiration to have another (although my husband is just laughing at me for saying that) and be able to have him/her at home as well.


  • Bonnie Simmons

    Beka, You did such a good job of sharing the whole experience with us. Thank you so much. I cryed through the whole thing. The pictures are beautiful. I am so happy for Samuel and Jessica and the whole family.

  • I love love love this.

  • Just so beautiful. You have such a gift, Beka. Thanks to you (and Jess and Sam) for letting us be a part of this.

    It might sound weird, but all of my births were pretty traumatic, super-preemies, and I think I have a phobia or fear of childbirth- and these pictures make me feel like I am participating in something really natural and victorious.

  • Wow. That was sooo special and so gorgeous. She is positively GLOWING in the shot when you went back to see them later. Thanks again for sharing this awesome story!

  • oh my goodness…so much emotion. I love your storytelling – I really felt like I was right there with you guys…crying for Jessica in her pain, rejoicing when it was all over & Sam handed Kael to her. Such a powerful story. Please give your brother a hug for me!! My heart is so full of joy for him & his new family!