Hi Mommas! I finally finished Eli's birth story. Not sure how a 3.5 hour event ended up being soooo long once I started typing it! Kudos to those that make it to the end!
Eli’s Birth Story
Elijah John made his appearance fashionable late at 41 weeks 3 days on Tuesday, January 31st at 10:35AM. I saw appointments for 3 hours on Monday night with no significant contractions or signs of labor. That night I slept really well and remember waking up a bit annoyed that I’d had no contractions in the night. Around 7:00 AM, I could hear my 2.5 yr old waking up and had a bit of a cramp-like feeling. Somehow, my son slipped or tripped in the hall on his way to our room and was lying face down on the floor crying. As I went to pick him up I had another cramp and a few more while we snuggled in bed for a few minutes. I had to get up to take a shower because I was scheduled for a non-stress test that morning at 8:45. In the shower I had several more cramps which I knew were contractions. They were quickly getting stronger and closer together although I never had a chance to truly time them. In the shower I kind of had to breathe through them and sway back and forth. I went upstairs and told my husband and mom that these were real contractions and that we need to get stuff ready to go. I couldn’t decide when to call my doula or the midwife since it had only been about 25 minutes since I woke up, but after a few more minutes I tried to page my midwife to see what she said about showing up for the non-stress test vs. waiting until we really had to go to the hospital. I didn’t want to show up for the NST in early labor and then have to hang out at the hospital all day. I really wanted to stay home as long as possible and labor there.
The time at home is kind of fuzzy because I was trying to figure out the timing logistics of everything, while trying to stay very relaxed and focused during contractions. We were planning a hypnobirth and I hadn’t even had time to get my ipod on. My first page to the midwife didn’t work so my husband tried again and at some point I called my doula to tell her I was in labor but we were trying to get ahold of the midwife to figure out when to go. The midwife called back right and I told her labor started really quickly and contractions were maybe 2 minutes apart. We were supposed to leave the house when they were 3-4 minutes apart! She said come right up – I asked for the room with the tub because I wanted to be in the water, but she said the room was occupied but they would try to free up the room. I was trying to remind my husband of stuff to put in the car – including a towel to sit on in case my water broke and a bowl to throw up in. All this time my 2.5 yr old is running around the house with a cardboard box on his head and running into things on purpose. At the time I kind of knew what he was doing but was trying so hard to concentrate that I couldn’t acknowledge it.
Right after talking to the midwife I threw up and knew we had to leave immediately. I couldn’t believe I was going for a 35-45 minute car ride in transition! I texted my doula at 7:54AM and she planned to just meet us there. I would have never known how far along I was because my contractions were so easy and manageable with the hypnobirthing. I focused so much on relaxing my whole body, swaying, and my long, slow breathing. It was amazing how easy it seemed.
The car ride was my biggest concern all along. I know I told my husband that I just didn’t want to get in the car. I remember how excruciating it was with my older son – and that was only a 5 minute ride! We got in the car, sitting on the towel, with the bowl in my lap and I immediately put my ipod on with the hypnobirthing tracts and closed my eyes. I wanted to pretend I was anywhere but in the car! After what seemed like 20 minutes, I opened my eyes and we were at the light ¼ mile from our house. Oh, this was going to be bad! Focus, focus. The next time I opened my eyes we were on the beltway in stop and go traffic. Focus. Six miles from the exit on I95 I checked again. More than ½ way there. Finally we were within a mile and turning into the hospital drive. I had made it, stayed calm, and it really wasn’t bad!
My husband dropped me off at the door while he went to park and I walked up to the desk. We had never been to the birth center so I didn’t really know where to go. I told the guy that I was in labor and had talked to the midwife. A lady came in behind me to pick up cord blood and he totally skipped over me and started helping her. Then he answered the phone and proceeded to have a conversation. Ummm, did he not understand that I was in labor?? I guess he didn’t believe me. All this time I probably had 2-3 contractions standing there. Finally, he asked me to sit down so he could get me checked in. I told him I could not sit so he just started asking me all the questions. I had to stop several times for a contraction where I just closed my eyes, breathed, and swayed. In between I could interact totally normally. My husband came in and we were taken to the triage room.
My doula arrived as soon as we got to triage and I put the gown on to get checked. I had planned to labor in my own clothes, but my bag was still in the car so I put the gown on. I was also reluctant to get on the bed because I didn’t want to labor in bed. I figured it was just to get checked. My midwife checked me and I was 7-8 cm but could be stretched to 10 cm. I couldn’t believe I’d really made it that far with almost no pain. I certainly had noticeable contractions, but I wouldn’t call it painful. I was loving my hypnobirthing! In triage I had to get the mandatory 20 minute monitor and hep-lock in my hand. As soon as the monitor was put on, it was clear that the baby’s heart rate decreased noticeable with each contraction. I rolled over to my left side and found it to be really comfortable but the heart rate remained the same. It was likely that the cord was around the baby’s neck but my midwife couldn’t feel it. Once I got on my left side I didn’t want to move. I closed my eyes and kept them closed for almost the entire labor and delivery. I just wanted to pretend I was all alone so I could concentrate on relaxing. At some point my doula asked if I felt “pushy” and I realized that I did. She told my midwife and she said I was all set so let’s have a baby. At this point they explained that there was no way the birthing tub could be filled and ready for labor. So much for my waterbirth. That opportunity was one of the main reasons we chose to deliver at this hospital. Oh well. At that point I didn’t really care since we’d hopefully be having a baby really soon. A couple times I checked the clock while we were in triage and I remember it being 9:00AM and 9:15AM. I also felt a tiny trickle of warm fluid so I thought my water broke but it was a tiny amount.
I started pushing a little in triage and also tried to breathe the baby down as we were taught in hypnobirthing. Concentrating on breathing was much more difficult because of the incredible urge to push. At some point they asked me to roll to my right side to help baby’s heart rate. When I rolled I definitely felt more intense back pressure and I remember saying “I don’t like this side.” The baby was posterior despite all my efforts and weekly chiro visits to keep him anterior. I stayed on my right side for a while and rolled over again to my left side for the ride to our permanent room. I kept my eyes closed all the way and at some point, just outside the door to my room, I asked them to stop because I didn’t like moving while having a contraction. It was soon over and we got settled into my room.
Pushing continued to get more intense and it was definitely the most difficult part of labor. I felt conflicted by wanting to relax and breathe the baby down vs. my body’s need to push. I did a little of everything while on my sides and some on hands and knees. There was a lot of sweating, grunting, breathing, etc. I’d occasionally get a “charlie horse” in my leg from holding it up. It was like pushing against a brick wall. I remember holding onto my doula’s hands and pulling on her while I was pushing. My midwife told me to stop pulling on my poor doula and focus on pulling up on my leg to open up the birth canal. I was supplied with some oxygen to help stabilize the baby and I sucked that stuff down like a 350 lb lineman on the sidelines (that’s what went through my head, anyway). At some point I also got a small bolus of IV fluids (LRS) but it was less than 500ccs. My midwife encouraged me to change positions to try to get the baby to turn. The immediate position changes were the only time when I felt true pain. Once I got settled into the new position I felt better.
Finally after about 1 hour of pushing I changed position from my hands and knees and went back to my left side. Immediately I felt so different and my midwife said “he rolled over” or something like that. From that point pushing was so different because I could actually feel him moving down the birth canal. I could feel him start to crown and I waiting for the “ring of fire” but fortunately it never came. It was actually an amazing feeling. Everyone was so encouraging as he was being born. I could feel each part emerge – head, shoulders, body. Amazing. It took only about a minute from the time he rolled to when he was born. It was 10:35 AM. Only 3.5 hours since the first contraction when I woke up. With my first son, I pushed for 4 hours!
My husband said Eli was quite blue when he was born and it was thought that he had meconium. He also had the cord wrapped around his neck twice which was quickly unwrapped as soon as his head emerged. His cord had to be cut immediately and he was handed off to the pediatricians who were right beside me. Fortunately, he as just fine, wailing, and got an 8 and 9 for apgar scores. I couldn’t see him because of the way everyone was positioned, but my husband and doula were right with him. I remember saying “I can’t believe I just did that!” The placenta delivered easily and I had to get a small stitch. I asked to look at the placenta just because I was curious. It looked like a red jellyfish that washes up on the shore in Maine. I also asked the midwife if my water ever broke because I never felt it. Apparently a bunch squirted out as he was crowning. Finally, within a few minutes I had my little Elijah and he was breastfeeding like a champ. I couldn’t have asked for a more empowering experience.