Born October 21, 7:26 pm
7 lbs, 14 ozs, 22 inches long
Just as a prenote — I knew Ella was going to be born on a Sunday and she was. I love my Sunday child.
Saturday morning found me at the doctor’s office for a 41 week check up with my midwife, Sherry. She wasn’t concerned about the baby, but she was concerned that her overseeing OBGYN would strongly push induction at my next appointment the following Tuesday. She suggested that Aaron (my husband) and I have some quiet time and talk to Ella and encourage her to be born sooner rather than later. That night, I took a hot bath and we both put our hands on my belly and explained to Ella that it was safe now for her to come, etc.
Six hours later, at a quarter to two in the morning, my water broke with a trickle. At first it was hard for me to figure out if I was just having incontinence issues or if it was the real deal, but I clued in really quick. I jumped into the bathtub and plug it to catch the water to make sure there wasn’t any meconium staining. Thankfully it was all clear.
I called my midwife and dula to let them know what was going on and also called my mom to tell her that the party was getting started. There were no contractions at the time, so I got a couple of towels and went back to bed. My husband pretty much slept through the whole thing because he was horribly ill and I couldn’t get him to wake up.
By 4:00 my contractions were seven minutes apart and I couldn’t ignore them. I called my dula, Jenny, and asked her to come over because I still couldn’t get my husband to wake up! By 5:30, Aaron finally roused and quickly kicked into labor mode. He was a huge help to me emotionally and the sense of pain in my contractions lessened when he talked me through them.
The next few hours all sort of blurred together for me. I spent about an hour and a half on my hands and knees, chest on the bed and butt in the air to encourage Ella to flip over from her posterior position. It didn’t seem to work and it was causing me more stress than anything, so I labored on my side until 11 am when my midwife called to see how I was doing. By that point, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds, so she asked us to come into the hospital if we were comfortable with it. By that point I wanted to head in, so Jenny drove me in her van since it was easier for me to get in and out of while my husband followed behind in our car.
We had to go through the ER to be admitted since it was a weekend and the ER staff really didn’t know what to make of me. Hospital policy dictated that I had to be wheeled upstairs in a wheelchair, so I told them she’d have to stop every time I had a contraction so I could stand up. We stopped three times through the ER triage area and every time someone asked if I was in labor. The last contraction through that area of the hospital found me shouting as I stood up, “Yes, I am in labor. Shut up!”.
Sherry offered to check me right away when I got upstairs to the labor and delivery floor, but I declined because I wasn’t relaxed because of the drive from home. She was very respectful of my space and helped create a fantastic atmosphere through lighting, music, and affirmation CDs. With the exception of one ten minute period, my midwife stayed with me from the moment I stepped into that hospital room until an hour after Ella was born. She provided me with the medical confidence I needed progress with Ella’s birth unhindered.
At 1:30pm I had a cervical exam and was at 1 centimeter and was completely effaced. I had discovered leaning over the counter was the easiest way for me to labor. I could sway my hips back and forth during each contraction and that seemed to relieve the pressure I was feeling on my spine. My knees were beginning to bother me by 4:30ish, so it was suggested that I try laboring on the toilet for a bit. While I was there, Aaron sat beside me and rubbed my lower back through every contraction and Sherry stepped out for a moment to grab a bite to eat.
Just before she stepped out, I asked her if I was in transition because I was having a lot of bloody show. She smiled at me and said, “It’s probably on the way but if you have to ask, you’re probably not”. Not five minutes later, I felt the urge to push and panicked a bit because there was no way I could be all ready at a ten. I pulled the nurse call chain the bathroom and the nurse came rushing in, asking what was wrong. The only thing I could get out was, “I need Sherry, I need Sherry”.
Sherry came back a few minutes later and she said I could either just push as I felt the urge or we could have another cervical check if it would help ease my mind. I opted to have a check because I couldn’t accept the idea that I was already at the pushing stage. I was completely dilated and Ella was at a +1 station. When I heard that, I was able mentally relax and get down to business.
Pushing didn’t hurt. It actually was an incredible relief to be actively involved in my contractions instead of trying to relax through them. It was discovered that the best way for me to labor was over a labor bar. So as each contraction started, Aaron and Jenny (the dula) would help heave me up and I’d hang myself by my armpits over the bar while I bore down. Through each contraction, I’d average about three pushes. After the contraction ended, they would support my back as I laid back down on the bed to rest.
After about 2 hours of pushing, it became obvious that something had to change. Ella was still posterior and when combined with my deformed pubic bone, she just wasn’t getting past a certain point. Sherry asked me to try not to actively push through the next contraction while she stretched me. That was the hardest part of the whole day.
Sherry pulled out a large set of three interconnected rings and the nurse offered to pull on one end while I pulled on the other. With each contraction, I would pull myself up by my arms on the rings and curl myself around them as I bore down. It went against logical thought that laboring on my back would provide any progress, but it turned out to be the perfect position. After about 6 contractions, I felt Ella suck herself back inside and flip around. It was the strangest sensations ever and according to my husband, I said some rather colorful and unique word combinations.
Within 15 minutes after that, Ella slipped out of me and I was holding her for the first time.
It was the most amazing, rewarding, and empowering experience in my life. It wasn’t scary or frightening. Instead, it was exactly what my body was made to do. Within five minutes of her birth, I turned to my husband and said, “Okay, I’m ready to do that again!”. I thought Sherry was going to drop my placenta when I said that. I still feel that way to this day.
I had only a very minor tear in the vaginal tissue that normally wouldn’t have had to be stitched, but I was struggling with anemia and it wouldn’t stop bleeding.
My entire birth plan was respected. Not a single thing happened that I didn’t want to happen. Our nurse was absolutely amazing and what I find incredible is that during her seven years on the L&D floor, she had never witnessed a natural birth. Evidently she approached Sherry partway through my labor and told her that this was completely out of her box and that she didn’t know what to do. By the time Ella was born, the nurse was shouting “Yes, yes, yes! You can do this! You ARE doing this!” and she cried with me as I held Ella.
I am amazingly blessed.