Birth. It’s just one of those things. It stays in your mind for a long time, and for good reason. I’ve thought long and hard about writing Ellie’s birth story and about what to say, what to document. I really thought that I would have had it written by now but I’ve put it aside so many times. Well, waiting 4 months is long enough. Here goes…
Ever since I was a kid I have loved babies and have been fascinated with birth. In 2nd and 3rd grade I loved to watch TLC’s A Birth Story. I would sneak and watch it (as if it was a “bad” show haha), turning down the volume when the women would scream and holler during delivery. Then when I was 11 or 12 I BEGGED to be allowed to help keep the baby nursery at church. When they finally said yes I was thrilled! I started babysitting at 12 and I was babysitting until 2 weeks before I gave birth to my own sweet girl. Oh, and let’s not forget that time that my friend told me I should be an OB/GYN (Thanks, Heather! I thought it was gross then but now that I really want to shoot births it’s somewhat similar). I guess God just gave me a heart for loving all things babies! And I’m a-ok with that!
September 2nd was an emotional day. I was 4 days overdue and sick of it. I’d gone to an appointment with my midwife the day before and despite doing everything possible to get my body ready to have this baby, I was still just 1cm dilated and 75% effaced. Talk about a bummer. After the appointment, Mike and I went antique shopping for about 4 hours in downtown Bristol sweating up a storm in the heat (I swear I think this did the trick!). So back to September 2nd…Mike and I spent the evening with my family at my Mimi and Popaw’s house celebrating mom’s birthday. It was nice but I was a grump. I had gotten 7 texts that day from people asking if the baby had come yet and their well-meaning inquirieswere only making things worse. Seriously? If she were here you’d know! After we got home and I climbed into bed, I burst into tears—big crocodile tears (the ones that lead to red, puffy eyes and a snotty nose), blubbering that I was just sick of being pregnant! I'm pretty sure just about every pregnant woman reaches this point when the end is near.
At 3am I jerked awake knowing that my water had just broken! I quickly and carefully shimmied out of bed because I could NOT get my water on our brand new mattress (less than 3 weeks old)! Thankfully I succeeded in keeping it dry! I woke Mike up, announcing, “Mike, my water broke! Wake up. We gotta make the bed.” We started prepping the house as my contractions hit. I showered and got dressed while Mike moved the birth pool into the living room and pumped it up the rest of the way. We made the bed up with a shower curtain underneath clean sheets then hopped back in bed to sleep around 5am. I would semi-sleep between contractions. Occasionally, I would have a stronger one and for some reason the only place that provided some relief was the toilet- haha. So I ran (ok it was more of a fast waddle) between the bedroom and bathroom till around 8am, at which point I gave up trying to sleep. I contacted my midwives, my mom, and my photographer-friend (eh hem Traci Renee) to let them know today would be the day! Things were pretty manageable for a few hours. I laid out the outfit I wanted Ellie to wear for the first time, along with a little headband I had made her just a few days earlier. I even snapped a picture of the birth pool just as the morning light began to sneak in through the living room window.
Around 11am Mom made her way over to help around the house. She was amazing—scrubbing the bathtub, cleaning the bathroom, helping get last minute things ready, and even bringing fresh bread. She even snapped a few photos of me. Sometime around 2 or 3pm Donna, one of my wonderful midwives arrived, along with my doula, Wendy. Donna checked me and I was only dilated 2-3cm at that point (womp womp). Not long afterwards my contractions picked up and I was finally able to get into the birth pool. Talk about sweet relief! The warm water was glorious! About an hour or so later my other midwife, DeEtte, arrived. Not too long after this my contractions picked up again, this time becoming a good bit more painful. I begged for someone to push on my lower back during each contraction. Apparently I got pretty grumpy at this point…oops, sorry about that guys! Then Traci arrived around 5:30 armed with her camera, ready to capture all the glory, pain, endurance, and excitement of birth. I vaguely remember her walking in the door and attempting to flash a small smile. I don’t think my attempt was very good because I was mid-contraction at that point.
Around 6pm DeEtte had me hop out of the pool for a bit so she could check my progress again. This time I was at 4cm and 100% effaced. Thank goodness for progress! Unfortunately my blood pressure was up so I was offered Novocain to numb the cervix, allowing it to completely relax and dilate more quickly. Shots freak me out so I was nervous but I wanted my girl to be safe so I agreed. Let’s be honest, I was a new woman after that…a pretty loopy one at that! I’m guessing it was a combo of adrenaline and exhaustion because I was talking about going shopping with Traci and some cute baby things I had ordered for Ellie. Haha Mom and Mike even thumb-wrestled! For an hour I only felt pressure during contractions and at the end of the hour I was dilated to 10cm and was ready to push!
Pushing….oh it was a love-hate relationship for me. It hurt but I knew it was the only means to the end. I started out pushing in the birth pool but at my midwife’s request I had to push on the bed, lying on my left side, for about an hour. This was to help keep my blood pressure as low as possible. When I think back to this phase of labor it’s such a blur. I remember cold washcloths being placed on my head, my water bottle being passed to me over and over so I would stay hydrated, and the last of the sunlight flickering through my bedroom window as it set over the hill. Oh yeah, and the painful work. Let’s not forget to mention that. As the last of the light was going down I remember thinking that this was never going to end! Sheesh, it’s so exhausting! I knew labor would be a lot of work but it wasn’t until midway through pushing that I realized how tired I was and how much I desperately wanted to just go to sleep! Mike just patiently sat by my side holding onto me, calmly encouraging me. Finally, my midwife said that my girl was crowning, then that she was far enough into the birth canal that I could go back to the birth pool! Those words, oh so sweet! And carefully climbing back into the warm water was the best feeling! I began pushing again with each wave of a contraction. I was so ready to be done but despite the pain I was trying to carefully, gently push to help avoid tearing. As soon as I saw her head full of hair it became so real! She was almost there! I was able to give two more big pushes and out she came! In that moment I remember no more pain, just a moment of “OH MY GOSH I HAVE A REAL LIVE LITTLE BABY AND SHE REALLY JUST CAME OUT OF MY BODY!!!” The proof is in the photo. Mike was obviously excited too but he didn’t quite have the same look of shock as I did! Haha.
Holding my girl in my lap, just soaking in the pool for those first few minutes felt like an hour. All those months of her growing inside of me, of emotional ups and downs, of conversations with Mike about what we thought she would be like, of finding sweet little baby things for her, of praying for her and writing her letters, then suddenly there she was!!
The next little bit was full of moving to the bed, getting dried off, cleaned up, showered, and snuggled into bed. Ellie passed all her exams with flying colors! My dad and Will came down, followed by my Mimi and Popaw. Of course, lots of oohing and ahhing came with them! Mom and Dad became grandparents, Will became an uncle, Mimi and Popaw became great-grandparents, and most importantly, Mike and I became parents.
Last facts (since everybody always ask about these things):
-Ellie was born at 8:49 pm weighing 6lb 14oz
-In the midst of getting cleaned up, Ellie decided to poop all over my stomach. yuck! Thankfully it wasn't the really sticky meconium!
-I'm not a screamer. haha I just grunted and moaned a lot...as I expected.
-I was in labor for about 18 hours, 1 hour and 45 minutes of that was pushing
-And yes, Ellie still loves bath time and playing in the water!
Life is so wild! God orchestrates such a beautiful plan when a baby is born! So much hard work goes into bringing them out of the womb and into our arms—whether you give birth to your child or adopt them—and in an instant you feel a love like you never thought possible!
DeEtte, Donna, and Wendy, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. I am so thankful for the three of you and all that you did to help us bring our girl into our home. You cared for Ellie and me (and even Mike) so well! Thanks for being so kind and attentive and calm throughout everything. The three of you truly helped me stay focused and determined!
Traci, I’m so thankful you got to come and capture all of the little moments for us! It helps me remember all the little things that would have remained a blur otherwise. I’m so very glad we’re friends! =]
Mom, you’re the best. I can’t tell you how glad I am that you live nearby and could be by my side. Thanks for helping with so many things on Ellie’s birthday—hopefully working wasn’t too bad of a late birthday present. ;] You are an amazing example of a Godly mother and I only hope to be as good of a mom for Ellie.
And Mike, you are my rock. You point me to Jesus and love me so very well. Even in the midst of all my crazy pregnancy hormones you were ever patient, kind, and loving. You are already a wonderful father to Ellie and it’s obvious by her smiles, squeals, and shrieks that she loves you lots! I love you.