And then there were five… (The story of Claire’s birth)

The set-up

When Sarah was about 20 weeks along with this baby, she began to lobby for us to not find out what the gender was until the baby was actually born.  After all, she figured, we could be surprised by learning if it was a boy or a girl at 20 weeks, or at 40 weeks.  Also, we already had one of each, so she wasn’t especially pining to have either a girl or a boy, and we already had the clothing for whichever kind of baby came out.  She figured that if she didn’t know, she’d also end up spending less money on clothes and stuff.  I supported her decision, even though I personally would have rather found out.  So we never got an ultrasound.

But as the weeks wore on, we began to regret our decision to not find out.  We had a great name picked out for a girl (Claire Rebecca Gibby), but we struggled with coming up with a good boy name.  We considered several — Seth, Henry, Thomas, Joseph — and spent hours trying to find one that had all the right qualities.  For me, that meant it couldn’t be too popular, but it still had to be common and recognizable;  Sarah wanted something distinctive, with character.  But we never settled on anything, even as Sarah’s due date drew closer.  We realized that if we’d gotten an ultrasound like most people do, we would have known whether it was a boy or a girl, and if we even had to worry about thinking up a boy name.

Baby Time

Our other two kids were early — 12 days for Audrey, and 10 days for Nathan — so we weren’t expecting Sarah to even make it to 39 weeks.  But as 39 and then 40 weeks came and went, Sarah started getting more miserable.  “I want my body back!” she’d exclaim.  Every time Sarah had a few good contractions, we’d hope that this was it… but then she’d get up and do something, and the contractions would peter out.  “I’m going to be pregnant forever,” she moaned.

On Monday, September 13 (three days after her due date), Sarah woke up with the same kind of contractions, but they were pretty regular.  I went to work, confident in the knowledge that I could get home within 5 minutes of when she called me.  Sarah got her doctor to come check her by mid-morning, and she was at a 4-5 cm dilation and 90% effaced — it was going to happen sometime today!  He went back to work (probably to cancel a bunch of other patients!) but promised that he’d be back when she needed him.  Sarah called our moms and her sisters to come down to our house, and got me to come home from work at lunch time.

By the time I got home, her contractions were almost a minute long and less than four minutes apart.  She really was in good labor.  Judy took Audrey to school, and my mom took Nathan to the store with her to keep him out of our hair.  Dr. Wright came back and we got the pool set up in our bathroom by about 1:30 p.m.

I got my swimsuit on and jumped in the tub with Sarah, and she got to work having good contractions.  I was against the back wall, and she was leaning back on me for support.  I rubbed her back and tummy, poured water on her belly, whispered encouraging words.  Being in the water helped her manage the pain.  A midwife and a midwife-in-training showed up to lend a hand to Dr. Wright, and Alaura started snapping pictures.  Once between contractions, my mom brought Nathan up to see what was going on, and he was happy and shy.

When the doctor checked her again, she was just at 5-6 cm dilated and fully effaced.  She was afraid that it would take a long time to be fully dilated, but soon Sarah’s “vocalizations” got louder and more intense and she felt the urge to push — it was really baby time.  At one point in the middle of a contraction, she cried out, “I’m so excited to have this baby!”  The midwives had never heard someone so enthusiastic and happy to be giving birth.

Eventually, Sarah could reach down and feel the baby’s head.  It only took her half an hour to get from that 5-6 to 10 centimeters.  When she actually pushed the baby out, the doctor grabbed her and placed her onto Sarah’s chest. We covered the baby with towels and got them wet to keep her warm.  We didn’t even check to see if she was a boy or a girl for a few minutes; we just looked and looked at her head and fingers, so happy that she was finally with us.

When the doctor peeked under the towel and announced that it was a girl, we were very relieved.  And we immediately said her name, “Claire.”

Sarah’s sister Zilpha missed the birth by five minutes because she hadn’t gotten the first messages that we’d left for her, but Judy and Alaura were both there to witness it, and Mom and Nathan came up to see the baby while we were still in the tub.  Audrey got home from school an hour after Claire was born, and she was so happy that we’d had a little sister for her instead of a brother.


Claire ended up being 7 pounds, 14 ounces and 20 inches long, which surprised us — we thought she’d be bigger because she had longer to cook in the womb.  But she’s perfectly healthy and we’re happy to have her with us.

This was our first home birth, and we liked how it all turned out.  We knew where everything was and could easily grab anything we needed during the labor and delivery.  We didn’t have to rush to the hospital, we didn’t have to fill out forms before we could have a baby, we didn’t have to listen to any security lectures about not letting strangers walk off with our child, and we didn’t have to hear any other newborns crying all night.  Dr. Wright and his crew took care of cleaning up the tub and the towels and everything in the bathroom.  We just quickly settled back into life at home with our three kids.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 6:47 pm and is filed under Family. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “And then there were five… (The story of Claire’s birth)”

  1. MalaunaNo Gravatar Says:

    Congratulations! What a great birth story. I’m a fan of leaving the gender a surprise until birth.

  2. Emily SNo Gravatar Says:

    Congratulations! How exciting, and I really like the name.

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