In the last two months, three of us at emerge… birth services welcomed new spirits into their lives. My husband, Liam Hill-McKaharay (who teaches our Daddy Boot Camp classes) and I welcomed our third baby. Noble Hill-McKaharay was born on March 4, 2015, two weeks and one day after her estimated due date. Although, Noble’s birth was originally a planned home birth, on March 4 we decided to go to the hospital for what we thought was going to be an induction, but when we got there I was already in labor (even doulas can be in denial about labor :-)) and Noble was born 3.5 hours after we got to Dekalb Medical! Our family felt supported and loved by our amazing birth team that included home birth midwife Mandi Miles Call and perinatologist Brad Bootstaylor and his team, SeeBaby Midwifery. I was also very grateful for the doula support I received from Shari Aizenman, Pam Roe, and Guina Bixler. At various times during my pregnancy I leaned on all of these extremely knowledgeable women for support. She was 7lbs., 10 oz. and 20.5 inches of perfection! Welcome Noble!
Then, after 42 weeks and 3 days’ gestation, one of our co-founders, Guina Bixler, welcomed a new granddaughter! Sloan Marie was born at home on April 7, weighing 10.5 pounds and measuring 23 inches long. Her birth was attended by Brenda Parrish.
“There are not words powerful enough to express the gratitude our family feels for Brenda Parrish. Her wisdom, quick thinking, strong hands, her vast experience and her faith all played a role in the safe birth our our new granddaughter, Sloan Marie. You will hold a place in our hearts forever, Brenda! Thank you!” -Guina
Guina as doula at her granddaughter’s birth, Photography by The Studio B
I would like to add a note about waiting for late babies, since these two angels were born “post-term.” There are two degrees of “late babies.” Babies born after 40 weeks but before 42 weeks are called “post-dates.” But really special babies :-), like my own and Brittany’s, are called “post-term” babies. This is my second post-term baby, and those days after 41 weeks are extremely mentally and physically challenging. When my second baby was taking his time getting here, I really didn’t do much research about going past-due, and leading up to his birth I got into a tough spot mentally that definitely impacted my labor (among several other issues that led to a very difficult labor.) This time I knew I needed to be VERY proactive about my mental health as I passed 41 weeks. So I did three things to make this time feel different.
#1. I exercised up until the day Noble was born. I even took a long walk with my husband at 2pm before she was born.
We spent this time talking about our options and exploring our hearts as we were at the last leg of this pregnancy. During this walk (nd all my third-trimester walks), I wore a ring sling around my HUGE belly to give me some support. To be honest, every time I went to my local YMCA I felt like the goofiest person in the world. Liam went with me one time, and even though he had been telling me no one was looking at me and it was all in my head, when he went with me he laughed and told me he was wrong, but they were looking at me cause I was so full of life. He’s a smart man. 🙂 Here I am at 41 weeks and 6 days with my belly binding at the Decatur YMCA.
I shared this photo with some of my mom friends with the caption “41+6, 1.4 miles, 30 min. I have taken the human spectacle up a notch this week by virtually dancing on the treadmill. So I am huge, holding onto the handle bars of the treadmill, and then closing my eyes and looking like a crazy person from the neck up.” I looked like a crazy person but I felt strong, and I needed that as I approached labor.
#2. During this pregnancy, I made sure I took the advice I always give to my childbirth classes: Cultivate the love and joy in your relationship at the end of your pregnancy.
For me in my experience, LABOR IS HARD WORK, and the love of the people around me gives me the stamina to keep going. Going out to eat with my husband, laughing at movies, going to get manicures together, this is my equivalent to carb loading before a marathon. It is this love that fills my heart and my emotional storage unit so that I can labor in joy and freedom, rather than in fear and resentment. During Noble’s birth, my best coping tool during contractions was leaning into Liam’s chest and moaning loudly. The grounding comfort of his embrace, the known sensation of his beard, and the release of moaning helped me work through each contraction. Here we are at 41+4 going on a date!
#3. I read about going past 42 weeks and I listened to my body.
My second pregnancy was the first time I had juggled a job, a toddler and pregnancy. I was tired and overwhelmed and didn’t “have time” to focus on that pregnancy or birthing journey. I didn’t want to listen to my body or read about pregnancy, I just wanted everything to go smoothly. This time, when I went past 41 weeks, I knew I had to read, I had to listen to my inner voice. Even as a doula and childbirth worker, the voice saying, “This choice you are making is strange and dangerous and there is something wrong with your body” was very loud. So I read Birth Without Fear, whom I had seen mention on Facebook that her typical gestation time was between 42.5 and 43.5 weeks! She has a great blog on “ACOG says about women who go past the estimated 40 week due date?”
I also looked at an in-depth breakdown of why people generally recommend induction at 41 weeks. In my birth work, I have found that there are many times where interventions are a good choice, and moms feel good about those interventions when they come after an informed and empowering decision-making process. This quote from evidencebasedbirth.com helped me feel settled in my decision to wait and watch (which for me included non-stress tests and bio physical profiles with Dr. Bootstaylor).
“The number of perinatal deaths was statistically significant between the 2 groups– 1 death out of 3285 births in the labor induction group vs. 11 deaths out of 3238 births in the watchful waiting group. However, it is important to note that the majority of these studies were carried out more than 20 years ago—between 1969 and 1992. Furthermore, many of these studies were conducted in India and Thailand. In the 7 studies that were conducted more recently (after 1992), there was only 1 stillbirth at all (in the watchful waiting group) reported out of 1817 women. There are 10 newer trials that were not included in this Cochrane review but are “awaiting assessment,” and the authors caution that when these results are included in the next review, it could change the overall conclusions.”
Finally, in these lonely days after my EDD, I needed to remind myself that I wasn’t “the only one” who went past due. This lovely blog with quotes from mom’s past their due dates felt very comforting and reassuring. In the end, I feel like my “labor” started at 41 weeks when I had to work really hard to stay positive. For those mamas that go post dates and post terms, I hope this is helpful! In the end it is always worth the wait!
Photo on the left, featuring the wonderful Brad Bootstaylor and Mandi Miles Call, by my hubs’s iphone, and Jill Sutton Photography on the right
McCalla is a doula and Birthing From with mentor. In addition to birth work, McCalla manages the Facebook page, website content, and blog. McCalla is married with two children. When she isn’t working she loves painting and reading. Read more about McCalla on our “Meet Us” page.