It's been 1 month since our little Ellie was born, and I've finally finished writing our birth story. It was nothing like what we'd expected and planned for, but I think that makes it better. When does life ever go as I plan? But life always goes as God planned, and it's beautiful.
I was in labor for 2 days before Elliott was born; contractions started on Thursday evening and she was born Saturday evening.
But our story actually begins on Wednesday, March 8th. That afternoon, Brad and I had an appointment with the midwives' office; my 40-week checkup. At that appointment, I wasn't at all dilated. The midwife told me it would probably be another 10 days or so. I was already 3 days overdue, and was not at all happy to hear that news.
After moping around the house for a day, I decided that I would check and see if AT&T would let me upgrade my phone. I knew the date was coming up, so I figured, if I couldn't have a baby yet maybe I could at least have an iPhone 5. I was able to go that night and pick it up. And I planned to spend all day Friday driving around town shopping for a new phone case, checking out some thrift shops and generally enjoying a day out by myself.
But baby had other plans. While playing with my new phone and bouncing on the birthing ball, I started to have contractions. At first I ignored them because I'd had contractions before, but they always tapered off. That night, they kept coming. Brad started to notice, but I was sure they'd be gone by morning like they'd done before.
We went to bed somewhat early that night at around 10. At 2:30 am I woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn't fall back asleep. Contractions were coming every 15 minutes and they were uncomfortable enough that they kept me awake.
In the instructions I'd received from the midwives, it said not to call for labor until contractions were 4 minutes apart, 1-minute long, and that had been going on for an hour. By Friday morning, they were still really irregular. We spent all day Friday trying to time them and find ways to make them come closer together, with no luck. After being locked up in the house all day, we decided to get out that evening. We went to teriyaki with Brad's parents and grandparents. My contractions were still 15-20 minutes apart, and I tried not to yelp through several painful contractions in the restaurant. We spent Friday night sleeping on the couch in the living room because we were certain we'd need to leave before dawn.
By 2am contractions were 5 minutes apart... but only when I was up moving around. When I'd lay down they were 15 minutes apart, and anywhere in between, so I decided to call the midwife (MW) to check in. The MW on call was stuck at the hospital with 3 other births and wouldn't be able to meet us at the birth center for a while. We'd planned to do an out of hospital birth, so the MW said she'd call the back up they use in just such situations. A few minutes later she called back to tell me that the back-up MW was out of town that night. Great. The MW told me that I could come in to the hospital if I wanted and she could check me to see how far long my labor was or I could try to wait it out.
I decided that since my contractions were still pretty inconsistent I'd try to wait until morning to see if labor would progress naturally.
Brad and I spent a lot of the night walking around the main floor of our house, trying to get my contractions to be 1 minute long and 4 minutes apart. It didn't happen. At 7am, I paged the MW again. She said she'd delivered all the babies and could meet us at the Birthing Inn.
We arrived at 7:30am and she checked me out. I was only 4cm dilated. A few minutes after we arrived, the midwives were doing a shift change (my MW's office is a collection of 9 midwives who cycle through during the week). The MW who was coming in, was the same one who'd told me I had another 10 days to go. Now I realize she probably told me 10 days so that I'd relax and stop waiting and worrying about it. I received a series of antibiotics at the Birthing Inn, as well as a muffin and a Gatorade.
After my antibiotic IV was complete, she strapped a belt around my middle to monitor baby's heartbeat to make sure she was OK. During contractions, Ellie's heart rate would dip pretty low and this worried our MW. She also noticed how tired I was from two nights with no sleep. She recommended we transfer to the hospital so they could monitor baby more closely, and give me some Pitocin to help my labor progress. She said without Pitocin, my labor could last, exactly as it was with no progression, for days. She also recommended I get "something to make me more comfortable" so I could get some rest.
Basically she told me to get an Pitocin, and epidural and take a nap. I didn't argue. In fact, I kind of jumped at the chance to sleep.
While we had planned to have a natural child birth with no Pitocin and no pain killers, and we'd had hopes for what our birth would look like, I also wanted to be open to any situation that could arise. The main goal was to end up with a healthy baby.
Since my labor was not yet in the "active" phase, Brad drove us from the Birthing Inn to the Hospital, and the MW told us she would meet us there. The MW had called ahead and told the ER we were coming. We were admitted and immediately brought into a Labor and Delivery room. At this time it was about 11am.
The anesthesiologist was in the room by noon, and my epidural was in place by 12:30. By 1, I was sleeping...or trying to sleep. It's hard to really sleep when you know your life is about to change forever.
While I was resting, our families came. Which they were excited about because we'd told them not to come to the Birthing Inn (there's very little waiting room space there).
At around 4:30pm, the MW decided it was time to break my water. Baby was still floating too high in my pelvis to be born. The Pitocin had made my contractions more regular, but since my water was still intact, baby was not moving down to where she should be. She was not fully engaged in my pelvis.
Once my water was broken, she slid right into position, and we were ready to push by 5. Twenty minutes later, Elliott was born. The sweetest, healthiest little newborn with a full head of hair. Did you know you can get something akin to rug burn from a newborn's full head of hair? You can. And ouch.
The MW and all of the nurses at the hospital were AMAZING. I am actually really glad we ended up at the hospital. The staff took such good care of us, and the after birth experience is not something I would've wanted to experience for the first time on my own. It was really great to have food brought to my room. And people coming in every few hours to tell me my newborn was still alive and healthy.
It was also nice to have a place the family could come to visit us that wasn't our house. It took some of the pressure off during the first 24 hours.
Even though nothing went as planned, I feel like our experience was truly from God, and went exactly as He had planned. I regret nothing about the day(s).
And it doesn't hurt that we ended up with the world's cutest newborn.