In April 2019 we found out we were expecting our 6th baby. Our first Baby J we lost to miscarriage, you can read more about our “trying to conceive” journey and the loss of our sweet baby here. We lost our first sweet baby on Thanksgiving Day in 2011 so McGuire’s arrival on Thanksgiving was a sweet salve to that scar from so long ago. She is truly a gift in so many ways. We have four boys, ranging in age from 8 to 2, and we were delighted to see that positive pregnancy test result that April!
Then in July we did something we have never done before and found out, the gender of our baby just the two of us, right during our anatomy ultrasound. This was special because that same day I flew out to say my goodbyes to my beloved Aunt Toni who was in her last days, after battling breast cancer valiantly for 12 years. I got to tell her about our sweet one on the way, and somehow kept the secret, that we were having a girl. It was so very special. We shared with the rest of the family in a delayed “Fourth of July” party as I arrived home several days after the holiday itself. It was there we got to share the news that “Our Fifth Firecracker” is a girl! Our kids were beside themselves and we, even a year later as we get ready to celebrate a whole year with McGuire, are still in shock.
On November 23, 2019 Benjamin and I set out on an overnight date night with friends. This location in Ballard is particularly special as it is where, at about a month of dating, Benjamin and I had a conversation about being exclusive and that we were developing feelings for each other. Then years later we had the amazing blessing to visit with friends – after a decade of marriage. The homeowners opened their hearts and home to us and we will forever be grateful for its significance! Despite being thrilled at the chance to get away something in me was a bit nervous about being on the other side of the water, a ways from my midwife team. We went anyway, we just couldn’t resist! After an evening full of swimming, eating delicious food, and convincing myself (and others} that “I probably was not in labor” it got to be about the time that the last ferry would be leaving Edmonds and we decided it was best to head home. I had been making frequent trips to the restroom and really didn’t want to leave the hot tub, due to discomfort. (This is all very reminiscent of how Corban’s labor started a couple of days before his actual delivery.)
On the ferry ride home it was stormy and windy and as we walked the deck of the ferry the boat swayed and nearly toppled us over. We let our midwife know we thought this could be it and my parents met us at home after transferring sleeping kids from their house to ours, and set to work helping us change sheets and ready the birth pool. We stayed up way too late and finally retired assuming active labor might wake us in the middle of the night. It did not.
I was discouraged but this felt very familiar. The next day I headed out on a long walk in comfy clothes and I sure startled many passerby’s with my giant belly, comfortable slippers, and awkward waddle. I know because a couple of folks even stopped to offer me a ride. I about keeled over in laughter. I put their minds at ease and carried on.
Tonie, Eric, Knighton, and Hastings also joined us and we spent the day laying low and “on baby watch.” The boys and Hastings loved listening to my doppler and touching my belly. This was on the 24th and I remember calling a friend to tell her how delighted I would be to have her born on her birthday. Lots of walking, but not too much action.
Another couple of days passed, I had a midwife visit at our birth center on Monday the 25th, and we discussed Ithat I must just be in pre-labor; which was pretty typical for me. On the 26ths dear friends came from hours away to bring paper goods (costco paper plates, bowls and cutlery) groceries I needed, food, and excellent company. They helped distract and entertain kids, clip the goats hooves, and gave my home a once over knowing baby could be here any day. I will never forget their generosity and companionship. Before we knew it Thanksgiving Eve was upon us, the 27th, and we sent kids off to school knowing they would have special class celebrations for Thanksgiving. When they arrived home, Camper with a darling turkey hat in tow, they piled into the house and we made a last minute decision to do a quick outing before it got dark. We loaded the kids and the dog into the van and headed out to do a “short hike to see a waterfall.” I hadn’t done the hike before and while it was a relatively “easy hike” it was proving challenging for this full-term, pregnant Momma. I decided to walk Charlie as my motivator, while Benjamin corralled the kids. We made it to the falls and took a family photo I will never forget.
As we hustled back to the car, darkness was encroaching. Cashel chatted on about how it would be amazing “if the baby came tonight.” We all agreed! As we neared the parking lot Benjamin brought up her name. Out of the blue he said, “I think it is McGuire.” I was taken aback as the name was on the list, but really hadn’t been on the shortlist for a while. “Really you think McGuire is the one?” He said, “Yes” and we loaded the car. I was emotional just thinking about it, but didn’t get my hopes up as we had thought we’d settled on a name before so I just couldn’t be sure. As the evening of the 27th progressed we put the kids to bed and Benjamin suggested he go crabbing with friends. I figured it was only about 30 minutes away so why not. I hadn’t been feeling great, which is definitely a sign of labor for me; but again figured if it was “baby time” he could make it back to the house in time. I kept him apprised as I decided to take the opportunity to do some Christmas decorating. The next day, November 28th was Thanksgiving so I also prepped my side dishes and mused over the fact that it was my Aunt Toni’s birthday, what a special day it would turn out to be.
It was getting close to 11:00pm when I texted Benjamin to tell him I thought it best he head toward home. I knew he would have to walk back the shore, load gear, and drive home. I called my sister and parents about 12:30am to let them know that I thought it was time, and they headed my way. Benjamin made a few other calls too so family knew they were welcome to join us if they dared the “what ifs.” I had been trying to watch a terrible Hallmark Christmas movie all evening and it was not helping to distract me much.
Benjamin arrived home about 1:10am. He set to work on cleaning and boiling the crab so it wouldn’t go bad. This makes me smile even now. Crab is my most favorite food, and I’m so grateful he set to work so it wouldn’t spoil! Contractions had been consistent and even while I did chores, cooked, and decorated they had persisted. But right around the time everyone walked in the door I felt like they instantly subsided.
My midwife said she would come to time contractions and she and the student midwife arrived right after Benjamin, in the wee hours of the morning on the 28th. As soon as she walked in the door she pulled out the doppler and asked to time my contractions. They all but halted.
It was just 30 minutes later, with still little to no contracting, at 1:40 when my midwife Melanie, told me I should head to bed to get some rest and that they would check on me about 2:30am. I was confused, I had been certain that this was it. I dutifully headed to bed and laid down shaking my head at the fact that this “experienced Momma” who is not new to midwifery and home birth had yet another false alarm. BUT at about 2:05 am I was awakened with a jolt and felt odd. I was fairly certain “something had happened” so I headed to the toilet where it became clear my water had broken. I think it was about now that Benjamin called my sister in-laws who joined us as soon as they could!
I called out to the crew who were a couple of rooms away. At 2:30 I have a video of my mom in the kitchen saying they were filling the tub and the timeline my sister gave me says that by 2:45 I was getting into the tub. (As an aside having some keep track of these significant times was so fantastic, she did this on her own but it is now a tip I’d give any mom. have somoen who can note these times for you – it is so special to know!) This stretch of time from here on out felt very quick. 2:51 am my friend Jenn, also the birth assistant for Salmonberry Birth Center, arrived and again video footage confirms as I greet her from the tub.
At 3:10 am I told the crew I ‘felt pushy’ and I did quite a bit of breathing through those urges because while I felt pushy I also knew my body was not quite ready. I think this may have been due to the baby’s position being face up. Listening to my body and allowing it to lead the pushing has always served me very well. I tried a few small pushes at 3:18 am but decided to hold off a bit as my goal is always that my body literally does the pushing for me.
At 3:21 am we changed my position to having Benjamin supporting me from behind and then at 3:29 am my contractions really picked up and I tried a few small pushes again. By 3:36 am I shifted to a different corner of the tub in hopes of Benjamin being able to provide even more support. My lower back was really bothering me, more than I recall in past labors and my tailbone was also feeling the brunt of the weight. Once we shifted positions slightly I do think this got a bit more comfortable for me, but was definitely more work and less comfortable for Benjamin.
At 3:40 am baby was at a +2 and at 3:46 am I told the team “I could feel the head move down on that last contraction.” At McGuire Lu-Ele made her entrance into the world at 3:54 am right into my arms, she was greeted with gasps and giggles of delight, the immediate question, “Is it a girl?!” and quick confirmation by her Papa that yes indeed, “It’s a girl!” I had said repeatedly that I wouldn’t believe it until I saw it, and I was still baffled.
We said over and over on the day of her birth, “we have a daughter” and still to this day (1 year later) neither of us can quite believe it. Then just after being earthside for one minute I leaned back and asked her Papa what her name would be. He declared it was McGuire. You can read the full meaning of her name here. But one part that was so extra special was that she was born on her Great Aunt Toni McGuire’s birthday, her first one in heaven as she passed away in July 2019. My mom named my sister after her too, and McGuire’s middle name is a very special tribute to my mom and all our siblings, I mean it you’ve got to read the full story!
I had some bleeding within a couple of minutes of her delivery which presented like a cloud of blood in the pool and looked a bit more alarming than it actually was. We belive that the placenta just had a tear in it and at that point the priority was for me to deliver the placenta as quickly as possible to minimize risk. I always have a bit of trouble delivering the placenta, it’s like my body just shuts off and doesn’t want to do that bit of extra work. My midwives have been great at using gravity to help me and we all remember this about my body, so we knew getting out of the tub would probably help. Before doing that the ladies gave me a bit of petocin in my thigh to help my body deliver that placenta and we worked as a team to get me out of the tub with McGuire still attached.
Before I made it to the bed, and with a resounding thud, the placenta was delivered into a bowl by the bedside and I was able to dive (figuratively) into my own bed. This might be my favorite part of homebirth, although the water is the only place I find reprieve. The water and my bed serve as a very “happy place” and I am forever grateful that we were able to make the switch to home birth with our third.
McGuire got to stay attached until the cord stopped pulsing and Benjamin cut the cord as he has done for all our children. She weighed in at 7 pounds 10 ounces with two of her brothers being smaller than her and two being larger. Right in the middle, I hope she is always sandwiched in love by her siblings. She got some precious skin to skin time with her Papa and you could just see the love in his eyes, each child has changed us in a unique way and I see this with McGuire too. She grew our hearts.
Benjamin brought the big siblings in two at a time to meet the new addition about 7:45. They came in with big smiles and bleary eyes. My heart was so full to see them each greet their baby sister with joy, curiosity and so clearly brimming with love. Cashel and Copeland joined us first and while it took Cope a few minutes to warm up after a diaper change for himself he came back with renewed enthusiasm. Camper and Corban had perma grins on their face and dived in bed saying, “she’s here!”
This month we revisited the waterfall and laughed about the other names that had been on the shortlist. Our top two names were Cobh (pronounced Cove) which you can agree this year would have carried some strange and tragic connotations; and Collins. We love them all, but she is McGuire through and through. I was asked by a friend recently if “having a daughter” was that much different after having four boys and truth be told, besides a bit of fun with clothes and bows, the primary thing that is different is how the sweet big brothers are with her. Otherwise, she is just one of the crew and fits right in. We say she is the cherry on top our great, big banana split.
Here is our home video of her labor and delivery that includes the details that I outlined here and has snippets at the end where the big brothers meet their little sister.
There is also a slightly 😉 shorter video that is comprised primarily of photographs taken by my talented sister Tonie of Tonie Christine Photography. Thanks for joining us on this special journey, feel free to shoot me any questions you may have.
Our other birth stories can be found here:
Cashel Rock – hospital
Camper Phog– hospital
Corban Hawk – WILD CARD, a fast delivery in our tub at home with midwives arriving after delivery
Copeland Oread – a home waterbirth
All photos and videos here are copyrighted and should not be used or saved without permission.