It has taken me 3 weeks to process and write this birth story. Please enjoy the slideshow my birth photographer put together of the birth here
May 17, 2010 I woke early after a fairly good night sleep. I was excited because this was my due date. I found it pretty cool to make it to my due date. Something I have never done before with four previous births. I still felt pretty good. But I was ready to meet my baby. I started my day as usual. Got my oldest 2 girls off to school and got my youngest 2 kids ready to go to granny's house so I could go to my midwife appointment. I noticed occasional contractions but nothing that I hadn't been feeling before this day. Biggest change was a constant feeling that I needed to poop. Laugh if you must, but being a doula, I knew this was a positive but painful change.
As I sat and waited to see my midwife I kept myself busy with some crochet but I couldn't stop thinking about this babies position and cord position. It was top on my list of questions for midwife Lindsay. She greeted me in the hall and instead of going in a room we went straight to the sono room. She looked at position and sweet baby was head down pretty low, no cord in front of the head which was one of my concerns, two hands up by her face and three huge pockets of fluid around the baby. All was good. In my head I think I finally gave her permission to come, now that I wasn't worried about prolapse. Although for weeks I had been telling my midwives that I had dreams that she was going to be born, wrapped or mummified in her cord. As I left the office, I called my husband, doula, birth photographer, my mom and my homebirth midwife Kim with a quick update. At this point I was feeling a constant pressure that was causing quite a bit of pain. No regular contractions to my knowledge so I continued on with my day.
I headed to the school to pick up my kids and my nieces and nephew. It was raining and storming that day so I ended up with extra kids from the neighborhood that were scared to go home. Including my own 4 kids I had 9 kids. My mom was there to help and I was so thankful. I know I was contracting, but had so much going on around me I was trying not to pay attention. Between 5-6pm the extra kids went home and I started feeling the need to focus and breath through the contractions I was having. I still didn't know how close or long they were, just that the overwhelming pressure I felt hurt so bad. I decided to call James and tell him to come home as soon as he could and called my doula Gina and my friend and birth photographer Lynsey. Since I hadn't had a vaginal exam I wasn't sure where my progress was and I have had previous super fast labors I wanted support. Everything I've known or experienced before was shattered by what I was experiencing in this labor. I felt so unsure of anything and kept doubting myself.
Gina arrived and James came home too. He fed the kids and got them to bed while Gina and I went for a walk around the block a few times. Lyndsey met us on the walk. It was nice having the support of my good girlfriends but I was anxious to get back home to my husband. When I got back in the house the kids were in bed watching a movie and James had put Elijah to sleep. I continued to walk and sway and sit on my least favorite place, the toilet. James was close when I needed him but also seemed to keep himself busy. The pain seemed so intense. Gina suggested trying the pool. I liked the idea since water had always brought so much relief in previous births. I settled into the pool. It did help me relax. I think I dozed between contractions. At some point I began to feel nauseous and got out of the pool. I wanted to be alone but still feel supported. Gina and Lyns stayed at the house while James and I went for a walk. I cried to my husband all my fears I was having. Was I making progress? Was everything ok? Why was it taking so long? It hurt so bad. Every contraction I would stop and lean on him or a mailbox or even drop to hands and knees. He supported me perfectly, touching my shoulders and back and encouraging me. The intensity of what I felt was so far from what I had ever experienced before I was scared. I began to ask James to take me to the hospital and just let them cut her out. He never wavered. He continued to remind me what an amazingly strong woman I was, that I could do this and that I was doing it. I wanted to rest, I felt so tired and my instincts said to lay down. We returned home and we retreated to our room where I tried to find a comfortable position. I tried using some hypnobabies techniques I learned during Gabi's pregnancy. I seemed to relax between the contraction and rest. It felt good being alone with James but I felt safe with Gina being in the other room. Sometime between midnight and 1am Gina came in my room and said she and Lyns were going to give me time alone with James and they were going home but would return as soon as I called. In my laboring mind I was confused. I thought I was doing good and surly progressing. I tried to go back to my relaxed place but an overwhelming feeling of concern flooded my mind and body. I began to silently pray for that peace that I had hoped to envelope my birth but it didn't come. I got a text from my sister simply saying "I love you". We texted back and forth. I told her my fears and she just encouraged me and reminded me of my womanly strength and that God had made me to do this work. I decided to get back in the pool. I desperately wanted to wake James but knew he needed his sleep. I labored alone in the pool. I never quite got back to the relaxed state that I had before. I started feeling sick again and exited the pool. James woke and sat in the bathroom with me while I labored. I continued to beg to just have the baby cut out. He never changed his tune. He saw the strength in me that I couldn't see at that time.
I called my homebirth midwife Kim. She talked with me for a while and I asked her to come. After that I called my sister. We were not planning on having any extra family at this birth but I needed her. Her touch and her encouragement were so important. She must have arrived in 2 min. I think it was around 5am by now and I just couldn't seem to find my way. I laid down on my floor and James laid next to me. His support brought me back to that peaceful place. Kim arrived and I asked to be checked. I NEEDED to know that my body was indeed making progress. I had 7 in my head and really wasn't prepared to hear anything different. So when she said 7cm and baby engaged, I felt a new energy and some hope that I could finish this race. The kids started to wake and I asked that my mom be called to help. Lyns was called again and quickly on her way. My sister re-braided my hair and applied pressure to my back through contractions. I seemed to be moving with my body well. I wanted to get in the water again. For an hour I relaxed well in the water, even sleeping in between contractions. After an hour that same nauseous feeling returned and I got out. I asked if Kim had a birth chair and it was brought in and set up. James sat behind me and supported me as I felt an amazingly strong pressure. I now know it was a combination of babies head and hands. Kim suggested that i try to push through the pain with the next contraction. It felt horrible and good at the same time and with all the power I had I pushed. My water burst with a loud pop. I now felt that I couldn't stop pushing. This was at 11am. I tried a few more contractions on the birth stool and then got into the water. My sweet Gabriella who had been an almost constant presence throughout my labor was in the water across from me. She would say "I see the babies head mom" "Your doing great" "She's coming mom, you can do it". I looked to everyone there for some look or word to make me feel this was normal and ok. I cried out to God and asked for help. I heard Kim echoing my prayer. As I pushed I felt her head emerging and slipping back in as the contraction ended but the pressure remained. I felt panicked, it seemed to be taking so long. I screamed and cried as I pushed. I finally felt her head stay and not go back in. I pushed until we could see her face but she wasn't coming any further. Kim asked me to stand and put one foot on the side of the pool. Her cord was wrapped tight around her neck. God guided Kim's hands and he loosened that cord just enough and my very cord wrapped baby was born at 11:10 am. She didn't cry, she didn't take a breath, she looked limp and lifeless. The joy I wanted to be feeling was interrupted. I began to call her name and tell her to cry. Kim was breathing for her and apprentice and friend Brittany began to help. Ella had a heartbeat but not strong. They did chest compressions and mouth to mouth on and off for 6 minutes. Ellanora finally let out a loud cry. She was placed in my arms. I could tell she still wasn't 100% there. I rubbed her head and body with the towel and talked to her. I had been standing in the pool all this time since we were still attached by the cord. I got out of the pool and headed for my room but stopped in the hall as I felt the placenta come out. Everyone helped me get to the bed. Ella began to really cry and it was like music to my ears. My sweet baby was here, alive and well. We were given lots of time to bond. I asked them to weigh her. She was 10 pounds 8 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long. By far my biggest baby.
This birth was so different than any of my other births. It was not what I had pictured in my head. It was a much harder marathon with a difficult end but it's mine and I am so thankful for God's presence. For His mercy and His almighty hand over me and Ellanora. Everyone present at any point in this birth played an important role. Everything that happened had a purpose, and I am grateful for the opportunity to walk through this, even if only to know and feel and give all the glory to God.
We welcomed with love, Ellanora Isabelle Campbell on May 18th 2010.newborn pictures