Baby Maci: A Family Friendly Home Birth | Charlotte Nicole - Doula, Photographer, Activist | Houston, TX
I was so over the moon excited to witness and document this beautiful family welcome their surprise gender baby into the world. This birth ended up being the first one I have missed. Angela booked me, along with another client due soon after her, before I found out our family was moving halfway across the country. Houston, Texas would be our new home, and I knew I had to solidify a backup birth photographer to cover me if I couldn’t make it back in time for one of them.
These beautiful moments were captured on my behalf by the lovely Ginessa Pierson of Little Wonders Photography, based in Sacramento, CA.
I am so grateful that I could rely on Ginessa to be sure Angela’s day was still captured (Ginessa and I were even texting during much of the labor and I was probably being a pain in the rear backseat driver with angle suggestions that I would do in the moment, LOL).
I am also grateful for Angela taking the time to share her birth story with you, in her own words. Without further ado…
I had gotten my hopes up that I was going to have another “early” baby. The first three of my daughters had been early, with my third being eleven days early. My fourth daughter was my only child that had ever been “late” by one day. On Monday, August 27th, I had attended a 4:30pm Dermatology appointment with my fair skinned, redheaded husband, Ryan, to find out the biopsy results of a mole removed from his back (benign-btw). While sitting in the waiting room, I began having some contractions that felt like much “more" than the million Braxton Hicks I had been having for months. I notified Nicole and Ginessa that there was a possibility that I may be calling them in the evening or early the next morning. I had anticipated that this birth would progress very quickly and that it would be a rush for everyone to make it in time!
By the time I got home and finished notifying everyone that I was having some contractions (and be ready to come when I call)…all of my contractions stopped completely!! This was totally discouraging! I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. Fast forward another week to Monday, September 3rd, my surprise gender baby was due to be born. Ironically, this happened to be Labor Day. It was a completely convenient day to have a baby because Ryan was already off of work. But alas, the baby did not decide it was not a good day to be born. Ryan decided to start his Paternity Leave on September 4th, since the birth was eminent. That morning I had woke with contractions that started around 5:30 in the morning. I notified Nicole and Ginessa, once again, that I had been having contractions and that baby may arrive later that day. I had called the midwife around 8am, just to let her know that I thought I may be having a baby that day and that I was having contractions about every 10 minutes. I was already scheduled for a visit that day at 10:30, so we decided to just keep that appointment and to call if I needed her before then.
By the time the midwife arrived for my visit, my contractions had come to a complete stand still. Now, keep in mind, I am no new mom! This is my fifth child, I know what real labor feels like! I am not one to run to the hospital or make phone calls at the slightest twinge. For goodness sakes, I had my second daughter in the backseat of our car because I didn’t think I had really progressed that much and didn’t want to get to the hospital to find out I was dilated to only 2 centimeters. Much to my dismay, I had to notify Nicole and Ginessa to go about their business as usual because Baby had given another false alarm. The morning of Wednesday, September 5th, I was awakened early in the morning around 3:30am to a contraction that was relatively painful. I didn’t think too much about it because this was the third time that contractions had started in the last week and a half. I was able to fall back to sleep without much more thought of it. As 5:30am rolled around, Ryan’s alarm to get up for his run went off. I was having some stronger contractions that were about 10 minutes apart. I let him know once again that I was having contractions, and he headed off for his run as usual. At 6:30am my youngest daughter, at three years old, woke up and climbed into bed with me. As I snuggled with her, I was having to do some relaxation breathing through my contractions. My older 3 daughters got up around the same time to get ready for school. I got up as well to help get everyone out the door. We decided to go ahead and send them to school because we figured there would be at least a few hours before things got intense and I wanted the quiet to rest as much as possible (plus I figured they were going to quit any way). By 8:00am, Ryan got them off to school.
Between 7:30am and 9:00am, my contractions had become consistently six minutes apart and began lasting over a minute. We decided it was time to start making phone calls to our family in the Sacramento area. While Ryan was on the phone with his Mom at 9:00am, I had a contraction that made me know it was time to call the midwives. I had already texted Ginessa (and Nicole) since she was farther away in Sacramento. Ryan quickly got off the phone with his Mom and called Rachel Fox-Tierney, our Midwife who lived in Davis. By this time, we decided to start filling the tub because contractions were quickly becoming very strong. We finished getting the tub laid out properly in our bedroom and connecting the filling hoses by the time Rachel arrived at 9:35am. Ryan left as soon as she arrived, so that he could pick up our three other daughters from school to be present for the birth of our surprise Baby. He return quickly, we luckily only live about three blocks from the school so he was home by about 9:45am. Ginessa arrive shortly after this. I think she arrived somewhere around 9:50 or 10:00am. My tub was done filling and I got in at about 10:15am. Things were progressing very quickly.
The girls were all surrounding the tub. Lucy, my youngest (3 years old), loved the tub. All four of my girls were gathered around the tub. My oldest three girls were “old pros” at being my own personal little Midwives, since this was our second home birth. My girls have all been present at the birth of their siblings regardless of it being at home or the hospital (aside from the birth of our second daughter in the back seat of the car)! The second Midwife (also named Rachel) arrived shortly after Ginessa, at this point I was no longer paying attention to the clock because I was in transition. The contractions were getting quite painful and I was getting very little to no breaks in between. My girls along with Ryan were a wonderful support team. My 7 year old daughter, Delaney, was handing me spoonfuls of my favorite “Sonic ice,” while the other three were whispering words of support. My In-Laws and Sister-in-Law arrived around 10:45am at my best guess, and I was having contractions hard and fast by this time. I remember thinking that my Mom wasn’t going to make it.
My Mom arrive at about 11:00am, just before I started pushing. She had been praying as she drove across the causeway in traffic that she would make it in time for the birth. I began pushing at about 11:05am. I felt bad that my Dad was going to miss the birth, since he had been present for the previous four births. During my last two pushes I heard his sounds of sympathy for my discomfort and his “Good job Punkin”, as he quietly stepped in the room, just as I brought the baby earth-side!
I had made know that if anyone saw the baby’s gender before me to not say anything and let me be surprised. Baby was caught by the Rachel with some assistance from Ryan at 11:18am. He had wanted to catch the baby, but I was at an odd angle for him to catch safely. So she helped Baby to my chest. I immediately wrapped Baby in a blanket so that I could catch my breath before the grand reveal.
I could tell just by my first glimpse, that we had welcomed our fifth daughter to our family…but everyone else was waiting with baited breath, including my husband. After what felt like an eternity to everyone as well, I pulled back the blanket to confirm what I already knew, IT’S A GIRL! There was no sense of disappointment at not getting a boy again at all in the room, which is exactly what we wanted! We announced her name, Maci Renée; a tribute to my Aunt, Gina Renée, who had died unexpectedly just over a year prior. Renée means reborn…it was a perfect fit, she was meant to be a girl!
I was able to climb into the comfort of my own bed, surrounded by my girls and my wonderful husband and just lay and admire our newest daughter; while our Midwives quietly worked around us.
Once the cord was ready to be cut, my oldest Daughter Brianna (9) was allowed to make the cut. The Midwives then showed all the girls the placenta and the sac that Maci had lived in for the last 9 months.
The girls were then called into the kitchen to help prepare the traditional “Happy Birth-day” nourishment plate complete with snacks and a birthday candle. Then they brought it into the room and presented it to me and Maci while everyone joined in-in singing Happy Birth-day to Maci, and I.
Once the festivities were over and Maci had some time to latch and nurse for the first time, and I was able to have some nourishment as well, we decided it was time to find out how much she weighed. 8lbs 8oz and 20 3/4” Our Biggest yet!
Maci Renée Riemer-born at home, surrounded with love and sent earth-side with an extra dose of love from Heaven.
As much as I longed to be present there, I was able to present their images to them in person, like I always do with my clients. Witnessing Ryan’s reaction to their slideshow is something I will not ever forget, the sheer joy on his face was just wonderful as he thanked me, “You know, you see these birth images of other people and think, ‘Oh, that’s cool, neat.’ But, then you see your own, and it’s like, ‘No, this is the greatest.’”