Will I Livestream My Next Birth?

A letter from Jessica Martin-Weber, founder of The Leaky Boob, mom of 7 with baby no. 8 on the way, and two-time birth live-streamer. 
Find the short answer here.

 

I love this photo. It was just as we got home from a midwife appointment this past week and the first beautiful day we’d had in a while. My husband knit that top for me and I genuinely felt relaxed and pretty for the first time in months after nothing but good news during the appointment. I have struggled to stay connected to the joy of having a new baby as financial and COVID-19 stress has felt crushing. But I was happy here, full of joy and relief. Like I could celebrate a little. Coronavirus meant no maternity pics, no outings with my partner to get ready for the baby, no going to the store even to get a new outfit just for this little one (a ritual I’ve had with each of our babies). COVID-19 took those things and this was as good of a maternity photo sesh as I am going to get with this baby (and not bad, right? He took it on my iPhone and I love it.)

But right, what you’re really wanting to know: will I livestream BB8’s birth?

In 2012 I livestreamed the birth of my 6th baby onto The Leaky Boob website. Then, in 2017 we did it again with our 7th baby. We’ve had a lot of questions about if we’re going to do that again with this one.

My intent with livestreaming both of those births was to normalize birth and show how birth can be different from the mainstream media’s most common depictions.

You can read more about that decision by clicking here.

I have been on the fence about doing so again since getting the positive pregnancy test this time. After sharing 2 very different births with the world in real time and opening myself and my family up in that incredibly vulnerable way, I wasn’t sure I was up for doing so again. But then I’d think about how each of my births have been drastically different and I want to normalize birth in all the ways it occurs.

Indecision haunted me. I’d change my mind on an almost daily basis.

Then COVID-19.

I was too overwhelmed to even think about having a baby let alone livestreaming the birth. Putting any energy into thinking about it was the last thing on my list of priorities so I didn’t.

We announced the pregnancy at the end of March when I started showing.

Several people sent me messages thanking us for sharing our last two births, detailing how watching me birth gave them courage for their own births. How sharing my births with their own children helped them prepare their children for the birth of a sibling. Opened up about how there was healing for them in watching my births. And more. It was moving and inspiring. Still is.

I began to entertain the idea again.

The first birth we livestreamed in 2012 wasn’t a distraction for me but in 2017 concerns about camera position, technical difficulties, and other issues would pull me out of my brain space for labor and birth. Concerned about that happening again, we brainstormed options to be sure it wasn’t intrusive to the birth experience should we choose to livestream BB8’s birth. We talked with friends and our midwives, polled our monthly supporters on Patreon, and considered different ideas.

When people would ask I’ve either avoided answering or responded with a vague “we’re taking a wait and see approach.”

And here we are. Honestly, I thought I’d have given birth by now and the decision would be made for me in some way. But here I am still pregnant and somehow in a place to really think about it more over the last week. (No I’m not going to share how far along I am or my due date, I never do.)

Yes, the plan is that we will be livestreaming this birth.

But we’ve decided that the work and effort that goes into doing so, the risk we take putting ourselves out there like that, the incredible vulnerability and exposure of our family, home, my body, etc. has to give back to us too. Things have changed drastically and thanks to COVID-19 I won’t get any kind of paid maternity leave… not even a little. I fully expect to work the day after I give birth because, well, life.

We’ve shared 2 births freely, dealt with the trolls that come with that, provided free education for millions in doing so, and opened ourselves to all kinds of questioning and second guessing. It is invasive long after the birth but also beautiful and powerful long after too. I’ve never regretted livestreaming our births even when some aspects of doing so fatigued me.

Those births remain up and accessible for free for anyone that would care to view them.

You can watch the 2012 video by clicking here
And you can watch the 2017 video by clicking here

With all that in mind, this time we will be putting the birth behind a paywall. There will be two different ways to participate in viewing the birth: Patreon supporters (who also receive accesses to exclusive content and will be the first to see birth photos, etc.) and one-time-donation access.

If you are a member of The Leaky Boob/We’re All Human Here circle of support on Patreon, you will have access to the birth livestream (with two static cameras set up in the two main spaces we will use for labor and birth). An email will be sent out automatically to our supporters once I’m in labor with the private access link and directions as well as a post in the private access Patreon. Our two eldest daughters will be live blogging the labor and birth in a chat window on the private link as well and our 19yo will be doing short livestreams directly to The Leaky Boob Facebook with little glimpses of what’s going on and interviews with her sisters and the midwives throughout the labor.

The same access will be available (without the access to the exclusive content also available on our Patreon) for those who make a donation for a “ticket” here.

Want to contribute for someone else to be able to view but is unable to due to financial hardship? See here.

I understand some will be disappointed that we are making the birth livestream paid access only, please know I have weighed this heavily. The cost to be able to livestream (and have it not crash our website, etc.) and the time investment (last time I spent days and days after the birth cleaning up troll comments and that was 3 different people moderating them during the birth too) is enough to give us pause as it is. The reality that we are giving so much of ourselves for free at a time when there’s been a huge shift in our family’s income is one we can’t dismiss.

I hope you can understand. I love birth, I love educating and advocating for families, I love making resources accessible. These are deep passions of mine. Sadly, these deep passions don’t pay so well but they do require a lot from me and from my family. I need this to give back and in a way that is going to make a difference for my family as well.

At the moment, if you want to be sure you do not miss the birth livestream, you will need to be a member of The Leaky Boob/We’re All Human Here Patreon here (with additional exclusive content- birth photos will be released on Patreon first, etc.), or make a one time gift back to TLB (suggested minimum donation of $12) here. My desire is to support everyone who wants my support in their pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding journeys and beyond, I just need that to also support my family.

If you are not already a member of The Leaky Boob circle of support Patreon and you want to be sure you don’t miss out on the birth, join by clicking here.

I am looking forward to sharing another birth with you. If you have any questions for me, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

With all of my heart and deepest gratitude,

Jessica Martin-Weber
Founder, The Leaky Boob and We’re All Human Here Co-Founder

 

Several have asked for a way to make a direct gift as a way to give back for the support of The Leaky Boob (without getting access to BB8’s live-streamed birth)  For those who would like to give a direct gift with no fees taken out:

Venmo is Jessica Martin-Weber
Paypal is ochantelle@yahoo.com

Please know that there is no obligation or expectation that anyone do so and I am committed to keeping The Leaky Boob free of charge in supporting families.

Looking for more support? Sign up for our emails here and join our private group here.

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