Three weeks ago today, my daughter Juliette was born into this world. The birth was easy, quick, painless, and complication free. For months and months leading up to the birth, I had envisioned her birth this way. I had asked my dearest friends to hold that vision too. That intention became reality - and for that, I am unbelievably blessed, and deeply grateful.
The story begins in a beautiful Los Angeles home that we rented from this dear couple, Dana and Paula. The home was located in a busy part of the San Fernando Valley, but felt like a beautiful birthing retreat - tucked away and on an oh-so-private lot protected by fir and orange trees. The master bedroom contained a soft, cushy bed with a beautiful headboard, and a big picture window looked out to the orange trees in the front. I sat for hours - both before and after Juliette was born - gazing out that window relaxing in the sanctity of that bedroom nest.
The first day we got into that beautiful house, Dana and Paula expressed their desire that we have our baby there at the home. I could not believe it! We later found out that Dana and Paula were veterans at natural living and attachment parenting - they co-slept, unschooled, cloth diapered and natural birthed - and were tickled that we were traveling that same path too. What a universal blessing to be connected with these lovely people!
Once we were settled into the home, I began telling little Juliette within me that it was okay for her to come out now.. that I was looking forward to seeing her - that we were in the place where she was going to be born. Five days went by - I kept looking for signs - mucus plug? bleeding? contractions? Fat face? (always a sign I'm going to deliver soon...)? On Wednesday, October 6, I did finally have that nice ripe full face - in fact, I woke up in the morning and both Reese and Brianna commented on it. You can see it here in this picture!
We went to the Science Museum in downtown Los Angeles later that day... and I got to feeling like things were going to happen. Juliette was moving around like crazy.. I was having funky sensations in my uterus. We went back to the house, and I called Davi, our midwife, and she came over and checked me but said nothing was happening.
Yet - at about 9pm that night, I lost part of my mucus plug. I knew then that Juliette would probably be born soon - both my previous babes were born within 1 or 2 days of losing my mucus plug. I told Reese I was going to try to get some rest, and I went into the darkened bedroom and lay down. But my adrenaline was already pumping in anticipation - and though I lay there for hours, I simply could not sleep.
At about one in the morning on Thursday, October 7, I tuned into my body - and discovered I was having contractions. They were not painful.. only identifiable as contractions by the fact that I was having them every five minutes or so. At two, I woke Reese and told him I was having contractions. Reese urged me to call Davi; I did so even though I was reluctant to wake her in the middle of the night (I always worry about inconveniencing people.. what if this was "false labor?") - Although I was only in early labor, Davi arrived at the house shortly after I called... she knew from Elea's (my second child) birth how fast my babes come. When she arrived, she said I should try to get some rest. So - Reese made up the bed for the birth (comfy sheets for post-birth, then a layer of plastic on top to protect the bed, then, on top of that, old sheets that were suitable for getting dirty), and then I climbed on top, and lay on my left side.
Resting in the silent darkness, I witnessed the contractions within me. The tightness began in front, then ended in the back... I felt like I was in the middle of a beautiful spiral of power. As the contractions came, I visualized and said to my body "...open... open... I am ready for you baby..I am ready." I continued visualizing Juliette's perfect positioning, the cord well out of the way, the fluid clear, her easy journey down the birth canal, her taking a big beautiful breath when she emerged, and lastly - my uterus clamping down after I had birthed her placenta.
Around 5 in the morning, the contractions had become longer and more intense. I began making calls and texts - I called Sandy, the birth photographer, and asked her to come. I texted my dear friend Rose, who was to notify a few other friends that I was in labor. These women would be supporting me spiritually - lighting a candle for me - while I birthed.
Shortly thereafter, I told Davi that the contractions had become more intense...and she could see I was getting ready for my birthing time. She began getting all her equipment laid out on the table next to the bed - getting pads ready beneath me.
And then, around 6 am, I was in transition.. that amazingly overwhelming feeling - your whole body taking over, opening - allowing that beautiful babe to emerge. I began vocalizing - noises of a woman working hard, oh so hard, to allow her babe to be born. I remember Davi saying to me "This is as intense as it's going to get..." I remember not being able to breathe - just taking tiny tiny breaths. And then I needed to push - and I pushed once, twice, and that sweet little babe came out of my body oh-so-quickly... the proverbial birth ejection reflex.
And there she was - our little Juliette. Covered, covered with vernix. A head full of dark hair. Looking just like her older sisters. Beautiful, and perfect.
The birth had happened so quickly, I hadn't called the photographer in time.. I hadn't call my brother in time (he was going to watch my older girls while I was birthing).. he arrived just as Juliette was being born. Here's a shot he took with his I-phone just minutes after Juliette was born.
Sandy, the photographer, arrived within minutes of Juliette's birth. The pictures that she did get, however, tell the story...
Our gratitude.. our joy.. the sheer pleasure of a perfect, cozy birth at home.
Photos courtesy of Sandy Correll at Clicky Photography. She's a great photographer based out of Santa Clarita, CA.