*This is the story of my first son's birth who was born on January 10, 2014, it's been minimally edited for this post from when I first wrote it out. There is one photo of me during labor (which is a huge contrast to my second birth!) but it is one that I treasure, you'll see if as you read! I felt that a good way to kick of A Brave Birth would be the birth story that started my journey into the wonder of birth and changed me mentally, physically and emotionally forever.
Elijah's Birth Story
Written a week after his birth
Oh Elijah! He has made me a mama. I’m writing this as he is sitting in the swing in front of me sleeping sweetly. The love I feel for him is immense, like no other love I have ever felt for anything or anyone before. His birth was the hardest and at the same time the easiest thing I have ever done. God women’s bodies to birth babies and the process is incredible. In so many ways the labor process resembles our failures and God’s immense grace. My desire throughout my pregnancy was to have a natural childbirth without pain intervention in a hospital setting and this is how it happened. This is Elijah’s birth story.
I started going into labor on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. The contractions pain started in my back, the pain was mild and the anticipation was incredible. I was able to sleep through the night Tuesday night. The contractions stayed the same through Wednesday night. Wednesday night we finally decided we were going to name our baby boy Elijah. That evening the contractions started getting more intense than they had been, I wasn’t sure when to call my parents to make the 6 hour drive down to SA but ended up calling them at 2 am on Thursday the 8th. The contractions had intensified and were coming every 5 minutes but only lasting about 30 seconds. I was just sure that would be the day he was born. I stayed up til 4 am cleaning and getting the house ready for my parents and for our little one who’s arrival was coming very soon. I was able to fall back asleep until around 7. I woke up, got dressed, did my hair and makeup, being sure that the baby was coming that day I wanted to look good and feel good. My contractions were getting more intense but the times weren't getting longer and the duration was the same. I called the time between the contractions my “breaks”. Those “breaks” carried me all the way through labor. By the time my parents arrived around 10 am on that Thursday morning I was feeling good an was able to visit and have a good time between contractions. Zac and I went on a walk around 1 pm and his mom and my mom went on another walk with me after that. The contractions were intensifying and getting longer and closer together so we decided to call the doctors office. We then went to the triage center at the hospital and there I was checked. I was only at a 3 but I was 90% effaced, the progress made me happy. We stayed and walked around and then I was checked again with no progress. While at the triage I had to lay in a bed and be still through my contractions so they could monitor Eli’s heartbeat. It was exhausting taking my contractions laying on a bed. My doctor, knowing that my desire was to go natural without intervention gave me the option to go home and labor there. I went home to labor because I could move around there and eat it if I was hungry. We finally made it home around 7:30 pm, I had two bowls of cereal and P.F. Changs for dinner. I then went to bed around 9 and was able to sleep til 12 am.
At 12 am I woke up and instead of having back labor contractions, I’m guessing Elijah shifted and the pain went to my abdomen and I was no longer able to sleep through the contractions. In a way I was thankful that the pain had shifted because it was something different than the back pain. My mom labored with me in Elijah’s room for a good few hours. I pretty much lost all sense of time, my time was defined by those breaks in between the contractions. The contractions that started around 12 brought me to all fours, and I just swayed back and forth and focused on a breathing technique that my body really developed on it’s own. Focusing on the breathing really did help me get through the contractions. My mom decided to go lay back down to get some sleep around 5 am. About 30 minutes after she did that it was around 5:30 am I began having really long contractions that were very close. I felt different, the contractions felt different, I felt like he was getting very close. When I timed a 2 minute 15 second contractions that was when I decided it was time to wake everyone up and head to the hospital. I was absolutely dreading the drive to the hospital. Having to sit in a seat with a seatbelt for 15 minutes not being able to move around through the contractions was miserable. My husband did a great job driving to the hospital and tried to help me through the contractions.
When we finally got to the hospital we pulled up to the emergency entrance. Right when I got out of the truck I began to have an intense contraction, I just leaned on the truck until it was over. We walked in and I decided to walk up the big staircase to labor and delivery. When we reached L&D I had to fill out a little bit of paperwork and then immediately was put in a room. I had to change into a gown and once again lay on the bed so that the baby’s heart rate could be monitored for a full 20 minutes. They also checked me right when I got there and I was only at a 5. This was the point where I doubted then pushed through. I said to my mom and Tina that if I didn’t keep progressing fast I didn’t know if I could do it without pain intervention. After I said that I then started to think about how terrible it would be to get an epidural because have to stay still while they put the epidural in. That moment was my moment that most women come to, thinking that they can’t do it and it is usually a sign of transition, I stuck to my guns and pushed through the doubt. As I started another contraction I forgot about the fact that I was considering pain meds, I was able to push through, I’d come this far might as well keep going.
I thought laying on my back in the triage was bad but having to take the contractions I was laying in the L&D room was excruciating. I just kept saying I needed to get up, I couldn't lay there. Finally I was able to get up and move about the room. Being able to move around and get on my birthing ball helped me mentally and physically get through the contractions. A few contractions after I found out I was a 5, I thought I had to go number 2, I was getting an intense urge to push. I went into the bathroom and took a terrible contraction leaning on and swaying from the safety handle bar by the toilet. This is when I realized I didn’t need to go to the bathroom, I felt like I needed to push because I needed to push the baby out! I remember thinking that this is not good that I need to push because I was only at a 5. When I got out of the bathroom I had a very intense contraction and I just dropped to my knees and leaned on my birthing ball. Zac was rubbing my back. I actually have a picture of that contraction. Once again after this one I went in the bathroom and from the bathroom told my mom I needed to push. The nurse said she had to put the heplock in my arm and then she could check me again. I came out of the bathroom, by this time the contractions were completely blended together, and I leaned over the bed and laid there while my nurse, Ann, put the heplock in. She then checked me and I was at an 8! I started crying out of relief that I had made huge progress since I had been check just probably a half an hour earlier. I really felt like God knew my desire to have a natural childbirth and honored that by helping my body progress quickly.
At that point everything went really fast, most of it is a blur to me, I was focused on getting through the pain so I had my eyes closed nearly the rest of the delivery. My doctor came in and asked me if I wanted her to break my water. Being dilated so much my bag was bulging. Although I didn’t want intervention, my goal was to not have any pain intervention and at the point I was at I told her I wanted her to break my water. After she broke it, she said I needed to take a couple more contractions and then I could push! By that time the urge to push covered all the pain I had been feeling. It was the deepest most primal feeling I have ever felt - the need to push the baby out. Having to make it through those few contractions was the hardest. Like I said I didn’t notice the pain, having to hold back the need to push was much worse than the pain, it literally took my breath away. After a few contractions she checked me again and I was at a 9.5! I could push! Everyone grabbed my legs and when the contractions were taking place I had to hold my breath and push for 10 seconds over and over. Between contractions I was the most exhausted I have ever been. I actually dozed off one time between a contraction! I had my eyes closed and I was focused on breathing and getting this baby out. I didn’t have the energy to scream or yell, all I could do was lay there. When I did get to push the release of pressure felt so good. After a few minutes of pushing the nurse said the baby’s heart rate was dropping a little bit and we should get him out pretty fast. Her saying that brought a renewed energy to me and I was able to push through and give those push’s everything I had. When he was almost out my doctor said the only thing holding him back was space, she recommended an episiotomy, a small one. I had previously been against having one but at that point I wanted baby boy out! I said yes and after that it was only a few more pushes… I could hear everyone saying they could see his head and to keep pushing! His head finally came out and it was just one more push for his little body! Immediately they laid him on top of me, I opened my eyes and all my exhaustion went away. Seeing his little body was all I needed. Elijah.
They had to take him off of me fast because the cord had been wrapped around his head and he was pretty purple so they needed to stimulate him. Daddy got to cut the cord. They wrapped him up and gave him back to me. The most beautiful little human I had ever seen was in my arms. Even more amazing was the fact that my body birthed this little human and it felt every twinge of pain and contractions for days and I felt every need to push. My body birthed Elijah! I did it! Giving birth was the most empowering and beautiful thing I have ever done and ever will do. Elijah latched on immediately when I introduced my breast to him. He was so alert after his birth. So empowering.