elliette's birth story.
My first baby, Elliette, turned 5 yesterday. Each birthday that comes and goes leaves me daydreaming about her birth and the major growth, change and transition that happened to me when she was born. Now that I'm a doula, I remember her birth-story with even more detail and appreciate it so much more.
Prodromal labor. It's a term I wasn't familiar with but it definitely defines a major portion of my first birth-story.
Day 1: My husband, Eric, and I were watching GI-Jane (I was gleaning badass-vibes from Demi Moore to hopefully support me through labor) when I felt my first contractions. I kept them to myself for a little bit but they picked up intensity quickly. Eric and I were out-of-our-minds excited and started prepping for labor. We called our midwife who listened to me through a couple contractions and confirmed that, yes, she thought we'd have a baby soon. She said to try to hold out a little longer at home and then come into the hospital. I jumped in the shower to help with contractions (and to shave my legs...duh) and then we tried to rest in bed for a bit. As soon as the sun started coming up, the contractions started going away and eventually disappeared. I was heartbroken. We'd done a lot of labor-work that night and it seems like it was wasted because labor had stopped.
Day 2: Our dear friends Erin and Jon knew we were bummed that we weren't in labor so they took us on a day-date to a farmer's market to walk around and eat all the food. I desperately wanted waffles from a specific food-truck and so we piled into the car and drove around Denver until we found my waffles and I was satisfied. We napped, rested...no contractions. The sun went down, we settled-in for bed and WHAM...contractions started all over again. Strong, regular. This was it. They lasted all night. And then...
Day 3: Morning came, I managed to fall asleep and labor had stopped again. That day I went to work (and came home early because exhaustion is no joke) and did all the things we could think of to get labor going "for real", but it didn't seem likely. We had already figured that contractions would start again that night and we were prepared. I had set up a little labor nest in our basement so I could work through contractions while Eric slept (he had to work the next day). I rotated from the shower to the birth ball to hands and knees, reading birth stories and watching Friends. Contractions were again strong and regular, lasting all night.
Day 4: Morning came yet AGAIN and I fell asleep and contractions mostly-went away. Eric came down to my labor-basement-cave and kissed me goodbye. I decided to head in to my midwife's office to see what in the world was happening to my body. I was exhausted, I wanted anything to be able to sleep. I wanted this baby out. I got into my car, turned on the seat heaters (great comfort-aide for back labor and the small contractions I was experiencing) and drove myself to the hospital. My midwife greeted me with the best smile and I became extremely weepy and basically a mess! She gently assured me that this was all okay and decided to do a cervical check. As she checked me her big eyes became even bigger and huge smile spread across her face! "You're 8cm!! We're going to have a baby today", she told me!
Cue the tears!!! I broke down!! What?? 8cm?? I had just driven myself to the hospital. I didn't have my bag, I was tired, excited, scared, my husband was at work over an hour away! She carefully plopped me into a wheelchair to make sure we wouldn't have the baby in the hallway and off I went to get admitted. I called Eric and my mom and dropped the news on them that I was in labor and yes, get your butts over here quick.
At about 11am I arrived in my labor suite where a lovely nurse got me checked-in. She placed an IV with amazing skill and I went over my birth plan with her. I wanted to do this unmedicated and mostly, I wanted to be in the tub for as much of labor as possible. My mom arrived and we started processing the fact that all of this was happening. I still wasn't having major contractions but it did seem like things were picking up momentum. About an hour later, Eric sailed through the doors (it was one of those movie moments when the dad flies through the doors with a gust of wind behind him). He had made it!
We got into the tub and I settled into a "hands + knees" position. Eric would spray my back with every contraction and then we'd stare at each other in disbelief that this was really happening. A couple hours later, Mary (my midwife), came in and checked me. I had only progressed about 1/2 a cm. We decided to break my waters and see if we could get things rolling. Back in the tub I went and holy-cow contractions became intense. I vocalized (screamed my head off) through a lot of them and Eric kept doing his magic with the sprayer on my back. Mary just patiently sat on the floor of the bathroom watching us and supporting us.
She had me get out and have a couple contractions on the toilet, on the bed, the pain was crazy. I was at about 9 1/2 cm for so long but our sweet baby was not dropping and engaging into my pelvis. Mary held me, swayed with me, sat on the floor with me and after another little while took my hand and looked at me in the eyes. She suggested we try an epidural. I was bummed but I knew she thought this would make all the difference and so I trusted her and said yes.
Sitting through that epidural was hard. I basically broke off Eric's hands as I tried to sit still. But after it was in...ahhhhh! Sweet relief!! I laid back and I rested and slept for almost an hour. Mary came back in and checked me and sure enough, my body had relaxed just enough that baby was engaged and ready to be born. As I started pushing Mary kept giving Eric jobs to do. He started at my head and then slowly, he was asked to hold a leg, and then hold a foot. Then, to look at his baby's head crowning and then to put on gloves and "come over here". Mary tricked Eric to come all the way down until he was standing next to her ready to deliver our baby!
After about 45min of pushing, our baby was born into Eric's hands! He caught her head and then her body with the next push. As he was putting her on my chest, he gently tried to see if she was a girl or boy but was too nervous to get a good look. Mary, peeked and told him that we'd had a girl! He placed her on my chest and told me to meet my daughter, Elliette.
Elliette was born at 7:21pm weighing 7lbs, 7oz. She was perfect! She pooped immediately all over my chest but then looked up at Eric and I and we were changed at once! We were a family!
My birth was weird, crazy, so special, empowering and exhausting. We refer to Mary now as "Magic-Mary" and her guidance and support of Eric and I as a team will last with us forever. She was the perfect provider! Eric was an incredible birth partner and I felt so strong after my birth. Our daughter was perfect!
I do think the way we think about our births and the pieces that we pull from our experiences will stay with us always. My birth has shaped me as a woman, a mother, a wife, a friend and as a birth worker.