Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eleanor's Birth Story

This post will be TMI for many, so feel free to pass over it until regular posting resumes. But I need to write this because I could use a little good right now. And Eleanor is all goodness. Her delivery was easier than expected and she is truly one of the easiest and best things I have ever done. This will be long because I want to record it all.

It's a little after midnight on Thursday right now, a week after my daughter was born. A week ago it had already begun. My water broke at a little before 9 on Wednesday night. I had felt funny and jumped off the sofa, saying to G that he needed to come with me. Sure enough, I had felt a gush. That would continue for hours. I called my midwife and let her know it was go time. Thinking I had hours, perhaps 12 ahead of me I began cleaning. I had decided earlier in the evening to make a freezer batch of breakfast burritos, thinking I'd have time for more cooking, but I didn't. So I cleaned. I took a shower. And I painted my toenails, a detail the midwives noticed, laughing that I was still flexible enough to reach them.

We fell asleep at about 2:30 a.m.....and by we I mean G. I was trying to when the first contraction that I could feel hit. I should pause here and state that I had bought the hypnobabies home learning but it put me to sleep so yes, I'm a hypnobabies failure/dropout. :) Well, the contractions were not ones I could lie through. I ended up finding the toilet was the best place to sit mainly because it seemed to keep my pelvis open in a way that helped the pain. And it's close proximity to a bowl to throw up in, something I did through every large contraction up until transition (the point between 8-10 cm).

It hurt, but worse than the pain was the mental issue of feeling like it was not going to end. What should have been lasting 30 seconds was lasting upwards of 2 1/2 minutes. I started at 10 minutes apart and within about an hour I was 3-4 minutes apart. They were all lasting at least a minute. I had woken Garret to call the midwife because this wasn't "normal." She assured us we still had plenty of time. I was already in the bath, but I was starting to question this drug free concept. I didn't think we were going to make it to Annapolis in time; she was an hour away, we were at least 30 min and I wanted to leave then. Instead we made arrangements to meet in an hour and a half. By the time we reached that point I was still trying to get dressed. I honestly don't remember this point much, but G says I was having trouble because with each article of clothing came another contraction.

We finally made it to the car. Heading towards Annapolis I was arching up out of my seat moaning through each contraction. Not screaming, because through the whole ordeal I screamed maybe twice. But I knew each contraction was coming because I wanted the heat up. Then after I was overheated and had to turn it down. The whole way there I kept commanding G to turn it up or down accordingly. When we got there, he missed the entrance and had to u-turn it in the middle of the road. The midwives were waiting with a wheelchair and in I went. I somehow made it up on the four poster bed to be examined and that was when I realized that drug free was how it was going to about 6 a.m. I was already at 8 cm.---too late for drugs. As I lay in the bath arching up every couple of minutes I looked at my midwife and said, "I can't do this and if I can't do this how will I do transition?" Then came the sweetest words until my daughter arrived: "You are IN transition." I knew then I could do this.

Within 30 minutes or so of getting there it was time to push, but the tub wasn't working well for that. So I moved to the bed, hopping up quickly (after 2 stops along the way in which I was terrified she was going to fall out on the bathroom floor) getting on all fours.

I want to say this for those who are thinking of doing it naturally and think they might not be able to: I was already through the most painful part. Yes, during some contractions I thought I couldn't do it, I even told G I wanted to go to the nearest hospital and get drugs because damn it something wasn't right, things were coming too quickly and I was getting nervous. But by the end I can honestly say the contractions before I had to push were by far the worst of it all and I was able to walk through them.

So we began what ended up being a little less than 2 hours of pushing. You feel like your insides will become your outsides, because it's a lot of pressure. It didn't hurt really, but the frustration of it not happening instantly, the exhaustion I your limbs, those can be defeating. I kept wanting to know exactly how much further I had to push her head out. Instead they'd tell me how far she was coming each time. They offered me a mirror, but until near the end I just wanted to close my eyes and get it done. I didn't scream, but I groaned like I was pulling an airplane on a rope. G stood there quietly telling me how amazing it was, and how great I was doing. I didn't want to be touched at all unless I needed a leg massage, and then the other midwife stepped in to help. I was offered cold washcloths, which were great. I didn't want water, I didn't want anything that would distract me from my task.

I flipped on my side at their suggestion. Jen, my main midwife, told me to bring my leg up to grab, and I pulled it up straight towards me. They looked and said, "you're really flexible." Almost as a calm moment I said, "oh...yeah." (I was still doing splits at 6 months.) After that for awhile I moved onto my back, grasping my legs trying to get her out. Her head was big, but Jen kept stretching me every time I pushed and so I didn't tear more than a few little cuts inside my bits(which I didn't feel because there aren't the nerves there). Each time I pushed Nora got further out. I could reach down and feel her head. She kept wiggling her head, trying to help. Jen kept commenting that I had a pelvis made for this. (I've joked that although I'm not sure I'll be repeating this because we want to adopt, I'm apparently a baby making rock star.)

Finally I got to the part I was most afraid of, what many women describe as the "burning ring of fire." I got her head halfway out, and as she sat there, straining tightly the space it does burn. But oh my goodness, it wasn't anything like I imagined. I felt it was painful, but not even a tenth of what I had imagined. However, I was exhausted and wanted her out. I asked how much more and Shaina, the other midwife said just another 2 or 3 contractions. Knowing that no way in hell was I doing that, I told myself to make this the one, and I pushed like my life depended on it. Her head came out and G stepped in, catching her body as it wriggled out.

I love that he was the first one to hold her. That the first arms to wrap around her were her daddy's. She was face up and he put her on my chest. I just lay there shocked that I was now a mama. I laughed and said I'd just delivered a butterball turkey. I kept saying her name Eleanor over and over. G was crying, I was just in awe.

In 10 minutes the placenta was out. G later told me Jen had commented on how strong the cord was, pushing on it. The only complication was they had trouble stopping the bleeding and I ended up with a shot of pitocin. Jen gave me my 3 stitches, and then it was time to just relax.

I curled up on a bunch of pillows and we got Nora nursing. She did well from the get go, did well on her apgar, and after routine measurements and a vitamin k shot we were good to go home. Four hours after she made her arrival we loaded up and began this new life.

I keep talking to G about it. I tell him I want others to know that even with just winging it, that it really was 100 times easier than I imagined. That I thought because the pregnancy was so easy that the birth would be hard. Instead I found it was, well, relatively easy. I know everyone is different, but I am so, so glad I went without the drugs. She was alert and looking around immediately. She was instantly comforted by my voice. (Something that continues even through this nightmare...I can easily calm her by talking to her.)

It's not easy, but it was far easier than even my best case scenario I thought of. I was walking easily that night, and this whole week even with all the madness I've been doing well, recovering quite well.

She is here and she is utter perfection (if a bit discolored). She's been an easy baby, feeding well (except one bad afternoon), she lets us know when she's hungry or needs a change, is easily calmed by our voices, shushing and swaddling, and stares at us her eyesight improves. She's even holding her head up off our chests for bits of time. Even here, surrounded by crying babies, she sleeps peacefully bundled up like a burrito.

She is here and was worth every single second.


  1. This was so special--thank you for sharing! And congratulations to your little family of 3.

  2. Such a beautiful story!!!
    I'm so proud of you! I started crying tears of joy when you described the second she was born! (Ya done good, kid!)
    I can't wait for the hospital stuff to be over and I can't wait to meet your little Butterball!

  3. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed reading this. You're a trooper!!!

  4. Again, congratulations. Glad to hear that she got here safely for both of you. I really hope your hospital visits are ending so you three can stay home, rest, and bond. I cannot imagine how exhausted you must be. Hang in there.


  5. Wonderful post, and I like reading your tweets on the sidebar. Great that you're all home!