Ellie’s Birth Story

(This is a birth story… so there’s lots of stuff about bodily functions that are normally TMI. It’s also a somewhat condensed version, so if you want all the details just let me know)

Ellie was due either the 13th or 19th of September. S came early so we assumed Ellie would too, but also knew we couldn’t count on it, and leaned toward the ultrasound due date of the 19th. With Ezra’s schedule we weren’t sure if he would be able to be here for the birth or even very soon afterwards, but Hannah was going to be with me for most of the time he would certainly be gone. Even with that, I had felt that I should pray for both of them to be there, knowing it was a long shot, but knowing that God could totally work it out.
Hannah arrived, and still no baby, so we kept busy exploring some and doing odds and ends. A few days later, Ezra surprised us by showing up at home!
Within a few days I was really starting to get antsy, since Hannah only had a week left and we were running out of things to do while we waited. We (mostly jokingly) tried natural induction stuff like eating pineapple, long walks, bouncing on my exercise ball, letting S nurse longer, etc. (NO castor oil, don’t worry) but it was apparent baby just wasn’t ready. I was often having excruciating round ligament pain, but otherwise was really comfortable and not having any signs of labor being imminent. I was feeling much more rested, though, due to having both Hannah and Ezra around to help cook, clean, and take care of S.
Thursday (Sept 15) afternoon Ezra and I spent a while talking and praying since I was feeling so stressed and nervous about the timing of everything. At one point I was curled up on the floor crying and he was just reading to me from the Psalms. I felt so much better after that that I was hoping that (like Hannah and Ezra’s arrivals) it would send me into labor, but nope.
At my 40+ week appointment the next day the midwife had us schedule an induction and NSTs for the next week (this was where having 2 due dates was really frustrating, because even with somewhat of a compromise it was still a few days earlier than we would have liked, so thankfully we never had to decide if we wouldn’t show up). I did let her check me and do a membrane sweep, neither of which I liked or really wanted, but figured it was worth a shot, especially since Hannah only had 3 days left. But it was mostly painful and disappointing, since I wasn’t really dilated at all, so we didn’t think the sweep would do anything. I had some cramping and spotting, but it stopped a few hours later.
Partway through the evening I had a strong contraction and then about half an hour later another one, and was having excruciating round ligament pain. I took a bath after S went to bed, and during the bath the ligament pain lessened and I was able to tell that I was having some lighter contractions in the midst of it, and was seeing some bloody show in the water like I had while I was in labor with S.
But I didn’t say anything before bed, in case it was all just because of the membrane sweep. I rested for a while, but couldn’t get comfortable, again mostly due to ligament pain. Soon I was starting to pick out contractions and then had to breathe through them, especially to stay quiet to not wake up S or Ezra.
At 12:50 AM (Sept 17) I got out of bed and went to the bathroom, and went again and again, which along with contractions getting stronger told me I was in labor. I timed contractions, nervous because of how strong they were even though it was so early in labor… but then found they were 1 minute long and 3-4 minutes apart.
At 1:16 AM I woke Ezra up and we went to the living room. I was on my hands and knees but also somewhat leaning on the birth ball, rocking back and forth while Ezra rubbed my back. I threw up a few times and we turned on music, turned down the lights, and he got me some of my red raspberry leaf tea concentrate and some coconut water.

I was staying quieter than I had with S, really just focusing on breathing and relaxing. Just like with S timing the contractions myself was so important to me so I could see where I was at. But even still, I was starting to get overwhelmed and was commenting to Ezra on how much it hurt and that I couldn’t do it. Which said to us “transition!” but I was also in denial about that because it felt too early, I was still getting a clear break in contractions, and I was thinking so clearly – with S it had all been a blur when I was in transition. I knew it was likely to be a fast labor but it still felt too soon, and I was terrified at the thought of getting to the hospital and being sent back… after all, that morning I wasn’t dilated at all, so I doubted an hour and a half would have gotten me to a 6.
By this point Hannah was awake, and we filled up the tub and I got in, but didn’t get any relief. We decided to call the taxi as soon as we could get ahold of childcare for S, or if we couldn’t, then just call the taxi and Hannah would stay instead of coming to the birth. Finally at about 2:30 AM a neighbor (not on our original childcare list!) said he would be over and the taxi said it would be 5 minutes, so I got out of the tub and got dressed, still wondering if we should go yet since I was thinking so clearly, and in the excitement of getting ready to go was starting to feel more on top of things again… but I was also starting to feel more downward pressure, so we ran down the stairs and out of our apartment building, where I had a contraction on the ground just as our neighbor was walking up, and the taxi driver was getting out of the taxi. The poor guy was so worried – he kept asking if he should call an ambulance while Ezra loaded up the car and assured him we didn’t need an ambulance. A few minutes later we got to the hospital and the driver ran inside to tell the front desk we needed a wheel chair (which was sweet but no way was I going to sit down again) – and one of the desk people ran off to find a wheel chair while the other pushed the elevator button for me and it arrived just as Ezra ran in with all our stuff. We made it into Labor and Delivery, where I had another contraction on the floor while nurses ran up and started asking Ezra questions.
They got me a bed in triage and I threw up again, then after a few minutes of trying to get on my back in between contractions they finally were able to somewhat check me and said they couldn’t totally tell but I was close, so they would get a room ready. Somewhere in there Hannah came, and we moved into the labor room where they hooked me up to the monitors (which never got taken off, which was fine in the end since they didn’t bother me much – sometimes they did increase the round ligament pain, but otherwise I didn’t notice them). They asked if we wanted the heplock (which we had forseen as our biggest battle) and when I said “no,” said that was fine for now and they would just monitor more closely. They also asked what I wanted to wear and I couldn’t think about changing so just said “THIS!” (tshirt and maxi skirt) which they were fine with. I was on my hands and knees in the bed, and the lights were mostly off. Hannah was coaching my breathing and I would often make comments about the pain or not being able to do it to Ezra, but both he and Hannah would encourage me. Each contraction started really horrible but then as I got into my “zone,” breathing and focusing on relaxing, they would get more bearable.
One of the nurses suggested supporting myself on the head of the bed, which was almost upright, and that felt really good. I could feel the baby moving, turning (something I had been nervous about; she was always on the right side and I knew that meant she would need to turn more), and descending, which was excruciating but wonderful at the same time.
The doctor came in and checked me and said I was at 9 cm. It was a doctor I had heard really good things about, so I was glad that that was the case even though it wasn’t one of the midwives. Our main nurse was also the one who had given me the tour of Labor and Delivery and I had really liked her, and another of our nurses I had just met at Bible study a few days before and knew she was a believer and a friend of one of my good friends here.
The downward pressure was increasing and so was the urge to push, but they kept telling me not to yet, so I just tried to do the J-breathing from hypnobirthing and redirect my breathing gently downward.
The nurse checked me again when it got even stronger but said I was only at 8 cm… that was the lowest point for me and I remember saying “no!” The nurses said to call them again when the urge to push was even between contractions.
I don’t remember exactly what happened after that, but soon the urge was there all the time, and the next thing I knew the doctor was in the room asking if I wanted her to break my water. I had always said I wouldn’t let them break it because having a baby en caul sounds like one of the coolest things ever… but all I could think at that time was “get this baby OUT!” so I said yes. At 4:40 AM the doctor broke my water and her hand was still inside when I could really feel baby moving down FAST. I said “SHE’S COMING!” and after that time seemed to speed up.
Pushing was one of my biggest fears going into labor this time around because of how much I hated it with S. I had read a lot about hypnobirthing’s J breathing/breathing the baby out and that was my goal – and while I definitely did push with the most intense urges, for the most part I was able to breathe through the contractions and it really helped. I felt in control of my body (unlike pushing with S), and could tell where baby was and knew when she was crowning – which once more was awful but this time I knew that that was going to be the end, and was able to fight my instinct to tense up/scream and instead managed to keep my voice low/open. Then her head was out, and they were telling me to push for the shoulders – I momentarily freaked out because S’s body had just slipped right out without a push so I was nervous about shoulder dystocia… but she came right out and then I felt her body slip out and she cried almost right away. She was born at 4:50 AM, September 17, after only 3 pushing contractions (10 minutes, but to all of us it felt like 3!).
After putting her on my chest, they asked if we wanted the cord clamp delayed, and we said yes, surprised, since they had previously told us hospital policy was to not delay it! The placenta came really quickly and then they gave me a shot of Pitocin (which I didn’t really want, but since they hadn’t given me the heplock I didn’t fight it, especially since the placenta had come on its own already). The doctor checked and said I had a small tear, and we could leave it or she could stitch it, but if we left it I would need to be really careful and take good care of it… and I figured that as much as I hated being stitched up it would be better to have it done then than have a complication later, so told her to stitch it up. I stayed pretty calm throughout that – I think in addition to all the hormones the decision having been mine really helped – but all those hormones and adrenaline also had me shaking like crazy.
Ellie latched on well very soon after and nursed for a while (another answered prayer! Nursing with S was rough for the first 6 weeks). Then they did her newborn exam – 6 lbs, 13.8 oz, 19.5 inches.
After about four hours (and lots of food… unlike after S I was STARVING) they moved us upstairs.

Overall, I felt more aware of the pain and discomfort than I remember being with Soraya, but I also felt much more in control of my body and response to the pain (staying lower/quieter/directing tension out), and my thinking was much clearer than it had been with S, even sharper than usual at some points. Except for breathing the baby out, I don’t feel like I used stuff from Hypnobirthing as much as that the wording of some stuff in Hypnobirthing helped me apply the stuff from Bradley Method more. It was hard… but God’s hand was so clear throughout and He heard all our prayers, both before and during labor.
The hospital was definitely different than the birth center, but I felt it more in the lack of education we got at the hospital than I did in procedures. Maybe that’s just because they didn’t give us as much info because we were second-timers, but I am SO thankful for how much information and preparation and postpartum teaching and support we received at the birth center.

{I will post more later about recovery and postpartum… this is long enough!}

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