I was nine, almost ten, days past my due date, and amazingly okay with that. The pregnancy had been fairly easy, with no swelling, leg cramps, insomnia, or other typical pregnancy side-effects. I actually slept fairly well on an air mattress while camping just two days before giving birth!
Even still, being so past due, we scheduled an ultrasound on November 22nd to make sure the baby was doing as well as I was. The ultrasound revealed that the baby was doing just fine, and had grown to nearly nine pounds! I think that was all the info I needed to start labor! Immediately after the ultrasound, I started getting some light spaced out contractions. I’d been getting these same pains the evening before, so I wasn’t really concerned. After the ultrasound Joe and I ate lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, and then did some Christmas shopping. On the way home we stopped by the grocery store for some last minute items. Being nine days past due, we had to re-make-sure that we were prepared for the birth every day!
We were greeted at home by our Thanksgiving guests, my Aunt and Cousin, who had just arrived from Houston. (At this point we had decided to continue with life as normal, until the baby decided to come.) Joe and I quickly started dinner since it was almost 7pm and everyone was hungry. While making dinner my contractions came often enough that I had Joe start timing them. Meanwhile, we tried to eat dinner and not make a big deal of it. I didn’t get much down before realizing something might actually be starting! Joe called Meg, the midwife’s assistant, to let her know what was going on. She came over, as she lives right down the street, to check on me. She said it appeared that I was in early labor and the baby could come today or tomorrow, but that she’d hang out with me and time a few contractions before going back home.
The contractions were getting stronger and coming every 3 minutes, “like clockwork” she said. One call to the midwife, Michelle, and Meg was told to check me for dilation. I was already 5 centimeters! Meg told me to get in a warm bath and relax, and my midwife was on her way. It was 9PM, since my water had not broken yet, Joe and I got into the hot tub. I called the photographer to come over. The weather was perfect and it was late enough that it felt like it was just us outside. Joe was great. He sat in front of me and helped me breathe through the contractions, which were coming faster and stronger now. I would rub my forehead against his with lots of pressure to counter act the pain of the contractions. (For the next few days we would both have bruised foreheads from this.) My midwife arrived just before 10pm, as did the photographer, Janice, and the midwife’s other assistant, Genevieve. They checked the baby’s heart beat, it was great.
I started feeling pressure, so they decided to move me inside. This was NOT my favorite part, since I was in transition, freezing from being out of the hot tub, and had to climb up two floors of stairs to my bedroom! I made it with lots of help! Onto my bed for another check and I’m eight centimeters. Michele broke my water at 10:45pm. Joe and I took a trip to the bathroom where I could sit on the toilet. We were not there for long before I get a MONSTER contraction and screamed for Michele. Onto the bed for another check and it’s time to push! Two pushes and the head emerges (ouch!). Now I know where the term “Ring of fire” comes from. The next push and our 8lb 10oz GIRL is born at 11:01pm! She is 21.75″ long and PERFECT!!!!
The home birth was amazing and painful, but amazing! Even the pain was a gift, a gift that kept us all totally in the present for this very important moment. My midwife, Michele Fitzgerald, has been practicing for over 30 years and I could not have been in better hands! She was calm, firm, and totally in her element! Her assistants, one of whom happens to be a close friend, were so great and did all the behind the scene jobs that I didn’t even know were happening. Our incredibly talented photographer, Janice Reyes, got some amazing shots of the birth. With these pictures, we will always remember the night our daughter Juliet was born. We are so blessed to have had such an amazing experience!
Juliet Alice Shaw is a DREAM baby!!! She’s a sleepy hungry little thing who rarely cries. We all love her dearly and are cherishing these early days together as a family.