This is a birth story. Therefore, it is long. Also, may contain gory birth details. Read and enjoy at your own risk.
Yeah, yeah. I know. That is such a cliche. Every birth is miraculous, right? Right.
No, but REALLY! My little boy, born on December 23, 2014, had such a beautiful, wonderful, miraculous beginning. Here's Eli's birth story....
I was wracked with worry in the months, weeks, and days leading up to Eli's birth. Being due at Christmas is not fun...at all.
I was worried about who would take care of my kids, the weather, which midwife would be on call at the hospital, and most of all....the unpredictability of natural labor.
WHEN WOULD IT HAPPEN???? (GAHHH!!!!)
"I just hope I can be home for Christmas," I would tell people after confessing that his due date was December 25.
I really did not want to have a baby on Christmas day.
1. that would make for a sucky Christmas for my 3 older boys.
2. That would make for a sucky birthday for Eli for the rest of his life.
"You know," Aaron teased me. "This is why people schedule inductions."
But he knew that I wanted to go into labor on my own. So, all I could do was wait and pray...
...while scrambling to decorate, shop, sew Christmas presents, mail boxes, make and freeze meals, schedule a babysitter every day in the 3 week "labor window"....
...and wait and pray.
So in the middle of all this waiting, praying and gestating, everyone in my family gets the throw-up GI bug. Sweet!!
So my prayers changed to, "Please God! Do not let me get sick!!! That would be the worst thing ever."
Well, on December 22nd, the day before I went into labor, "the worst thing ever" happened. Yep, mama got the bug. Thankfully, compared to the rest of my family, I didn't get that sick. Just felt terrible and was in bed all day.
Since I was convinced that I was going to deliver after my due date, my hope and prayer now became, "Please let me get my strength back before I go into labor. " I mean, all I ate all day on December 22 was 10 salteen crackers and some ginger ale. Not a great foundation for the marathon that is labor.
Well....no such luck. At 2am on December 23, I woke up with a twingy contraction. Since I had been having twingy contractions off and on for about a week, I didn't think a lot of it. But 6 minutes later, another twingy contraction. Then another.
"Aww, crap." I thought. Then I took a moment to marvel in the irony of being two days from my due date and SO OVER BEING PREGNANT, and how I was now not glad that I was in labor.
From 2am-6am, I alternately timed the contractions (about 6-10 minutes apart) and slept--which totally messed up the pattern on my contraction calculator app.
A little before 6, I was getting too uncomfortable to lay in bed anymore. Things were picking up. Aaron came in to say goodbye to me before work (dear, sweet husband was sleeping on the couch to give more room in the bed to me and my 6 pillows).
"Uhh...I'm in labor." I told him.
"Are you sure?"
"Ok if I go into work for a while to get everyone settled?"
Yes, dear readers. My husband went to work. After all, my last labor was 60 hours. For all we knew, this could be the tip of the iceburg.
I decided to take a shower at 6:45. Fifteen minutes and 4 contractions later, I called Aaron: "I need you to come home."
I texted my doula, Debborah, and let her know that today was the day! She said she was on her way over to my house.
The contractions were getting closer and stronger: 3-5 minutes apart. At 8am, I looked at my babysitting schedule chart to see who agreed to be "on call" for the day. It was my friend Kimberley from church.
Miracle #1: This was a miracle because Kim is my ONLY friend who is not married and doesn't have any kids. Because my boys had all had the stomach bug in the past few days, I was SO GLAD that we didn't have to take them over to someone else's house and potentially expose other kids to our GI nastiness.
Kim and Debbie got to the house a little before 9am. Kim took Micah, Benji, and Silas to the bedroom and they watched PBS kids and played with toys.
I discovered that if I sat down, I could get a 5-6 minute break in between contractions. If I was walking around, I was having them every 2-3 minutes. And since I had not packed my bag yet (I know, I know! But seriously, I was convinced that I was going to go late!), I was not getting many breaks.
I was handling the contractions well and talking and joking in between but at 10:45, we decided that we should probably go to the hospital if we were going to (try to) avoid the car ride from hell.
I remember having 2-3 contractions from the front door to the car, standing with my hand on the door handle and saying, "I do NOT want to get in the car." I remember with my labor with Silas, the car rides were 100% horrible.
Miracle #2: The 15 minute car ride was bearable. I had 4 contractions on the way over but they were not as intense as they had been at the house. Thank God.
I got the royal treatment at the hospital. ie. they wheeled me up in a wheel chair. Why? Basically my contractions told my legs to stop working.
We got to L&D and in between contractions, met the nurse, Katie. I knew I was going to have to be checked soon and I was dreading it.
1. Cervical checks are extremely painful for me.
2. With Silas, I was in labor for 16 hours before we went to the hospital and was only dilated to 2 centimeters.
Well, we got some good news (despite the horrific pain of the check).
Miracle #3: I was dilated to 7 centimeters. WOO HOO!
Miracle #4: My favorite midwife, Katie (yes, Katie-Nurse and Katie-Midwife) was on call!! Double WOO HOO!
My plan was to labor in the tub so while I did the required 20 minutes on the monitor (while rolling around on the birth ball), Debbie started filling the bathtub (which had jets!) and the nurses started filling the AquaDoula--which is just fancy birth-talk for a big blow up tub.
By this time, I was starting to lose my sense of humor. "Are we almost done with this STUPID MONITORING?" I said.
Finally, I was able to rip off those stupid, plastic monitors and that stupid hospital gown ("One size chokes all!") and get in the bathtub.
The jets felt amazing on my back, which is where the majority of my pain was during each contraction. The only annoying thing about the bathtub was that, because they were filling the AquaDoula from the shower nozzle, the connection from the nozzle to the hose was loose and spraying cold water all over my head. I was in THE ZONE though and was only mildly annoyed by this--and also mildly amused by Aaron, Debbie and nurses who were frantically trying to control the icy spray (they did).
By this time in my labor, I lost all concept of time. I stayed in the bathtub for a "while," until they told me that the AquaDoula was full enough for me to get in.
Out of the water, the contractions were intense. I think I had 2-3 big ones just walking from the bathroom back into the room (like 12 feet).
I really enjoyed the Aqua Doula experience. I had heard that laboring in a big tub was an "amazing" experience. It was a great experience but different than I thought it would be.
Laboring in the water didn't take away the pain of the contractions (somehow I thought it would?? Dumb. It's not drugs) but it definitely carried the "weight" of each contraction. This made the labor so much easier to bear.
Also, being in the water gave me a break (3-5 minutes?) in between each contraction, whereas out of the water they were coming one on top of the other. So, in those breaks, I was able to relax.
My midwife, Katie, also came into the room during this time and stayed with me until I gave birth. She was so soothing and encouraging. During each contraction, I reached out for Aaron's hand and Debbie's hand and clung, moaned, and breathed (and hollered!) through them. I could hear Debbie murmuring prayers over me, Aaron encouraging me to breathe, and Katie soothing me through each one. In between contractions, Debbie massaged my shoulders, back, and feet with peppermint and lavender essential oils (in fact, I have a very distinct "scent memory" of those oils combined with the tangy smell of the rubber from the pool).
The contractions were getting really strong and I started to feel "pushy." Then, all of a sudden, WOOSH!
"My water just broke!" I cried. (It was nice that it broke in pool, right?)
Two-three contractions later, I was starting to "OHHHHHH" really loudly and Katie suggested we move from the pool to the bed (since water births aren't allowed at this hospital).
Oh my word. The worst part of labor was getting out of the pool. I think it was the only time I actually screamed a bit. I had to swing my leg over the pool (it was about 3 feet high) and then a contraction came crashing down on me.
"Ahh! Ok! I am just going to sit here." I said, straddling the side of the pool. "This feels good."
The contraction ended and Katie and Aaron practically carried me to the bed. It was propped up and I laid on my right side.
About this time, random-male-resident John enters the room!!! Hi John! I did not expect you nor was I very aware of you but here you are to observe me in all my birthing glory!!
It was gettin' real, folks.
I was really hollering and really praying: "Jesus! Jesus, help me! Help me!"
I think I must have prayed this a lot because about this point, Katie really sweetly said, "He's here! He is helping you!"
Aaron told me later that my praying was really cute. He also told me that even though I swore a few times too, no one would have doubted my testimony while giving birth.
"Ok, Brittany! This is where we are going to have to work together." Katie said with her hot cloths and encouraging words.
"Breathe, Brittany! Breathe!" Aaron said urgently. (He later told me that I was turning a bit purple and he was kind of worried).
I clung to Debbie's hand as I pushed, hollered, and prayed.
Four, intense, firey pushes and....
"His head is out!"
A pause...one more...and my squalling baby was in my arms, very clean and very slippery.
He was perfect, precious, and loud, all 7 pounds and 10 oz and 20.5 inches of pure glory.
Miracle #6: The side-lying pushing worked. I only had a minor tear...after having a 3rd degree tear with Silas.
(Side Note: Moms everywhere: Don't you wish that all the discomfort of having a baby was over the minute the baby is born?? Oh my word...the belly "massaging," stitching, and after-birth contractions are THE WORST!!! Ok, "side note" over).
Katie was great with the after-care. We waited a good-long-time to cut the cord (it was nice and white!) and I nursed Eli while she stitched me up--while John observed! Hi John!!!
Miracle #7: I got everything on my labor "wish list." I didn't even get an IV. The labor went so quickly and so well and so naturally that we had to fill out the check-in paper work after he was born.
Aaron left around 3:30 to go relieve Kim and bring the boys to the hospital to meet their baby brother. It was amazing to get this picture:
Miracle #8: I got to go home the next day, on Christmas Eve. So, I got my deepest wish, my Christmas Miracle: To have Eli before Christmas and be home with all my boys on Christmas morning.
Christmas was perfect. The birth was perfect. And Eli Jefferson? Well, he's pretty perfect too.