We are celebrating one of the cutest one year olds I know today. I can’t celebrate this day without thinking about the day he was born. It has an incredibly special place in my heart. A couple of months ago, when I wrote the talk on Consistency, I promised to share Eli’s birth story, so here goes.
Eli’s Birth Story. May 13, 2014.
I remember thinking that I would be pregnant forever. At forty weeks, I honestly felt some despair. I walked the mall. I did some crazy labor dance that I found on Youtube. I ate pineapple. I just thought he’d never come. However, at forty weeks and two days something changed. That night I felt an overwhelming urge to go up to my room and be alone. I needed to be away from everyone except my husband and even then I couldn’t say much to him. I needed to feel safe and secure. After the lights were out I remember whispering to Zack that it wouldn’t be long. I woke up several times that night to use the restroom and each time I suspected that my water had broken but in my exhaustion, I chose to ignore it. That was the best choice I could have made because I was able to get the sleep I needed for the following day. I woke up at 7 a.m. on May, 13th 2014. When I went to the restroom I realized that my suspicions were correct and I was indeed loosing amniotic fluid. I told Zack that it was time for us to have a baby and the excitement began. We calmly started packing the rest of our things and headed to the Birth Center after I felt my first painful contraction at 8 a.m. When we arrived at the Birth Center they took us back to a room to check how far I had dilated and check my contractions on the monitor. I distinctly remember the peace of that moment as I sat in a dimmed room with another momma who had the same quiet excitement as me. I watched the little mounds print out on the contraction monitor paper and knew it wouldn’t be long. Within an hour I had gone from contractions every 8 minutes to contractions every 4 minutes. I was already dilated to between 5 and 6 centimeters. Who doesn’t want to hear that they are almost half way done with labor having given little effort? They immediately took us to a birthing room where Zack and I began setting up for Eli’s amazing birth. The room was beautiful and it boasted wrap around windows, a beautiful queen bed and a huge jacuzzi tub. Zack worked on putting up the snacks while I changed and started laying out scripture cards throughout the room (I had spent the past nine months preparing these and studying them). Every few minutes I would stop and work through a contraction and then as the pain that gripped me passed, I would continue prepping the room. Zack made a slideshow of pictures that brought happy memories and set up a playlist of songs that we had chosen beforehand that reminded us of wonderful things like peace, strength, endurance, and God’s faithfulness. The contractions continued to get more painful and were coming every 2 minutes. I decided to get in the tub and try warm water and jets. As soon as my next contraction hit I desperately reached to turn off the jets as strangely enough they made things so much worse. Thankfully, I was able to manage contractions for another hour in the warm water. My midwife came in to check how far I had progressed and found that I was at a 6/7. She suggested that we break my water the rest of the way and I was instantly a little afraid because I knew the pain would intensify greatly. Within seconds I was in mind blowing pain with each contraction that seemed to be right on top of each other with little to no break in between. I couldn’t be touched, talked to or moved during a contraction. I sat backwards on the toilet for a few contractions (at the recommendation of my midwife) and then moved to the bed. The pain was unbearable and the only thing that helped was groaning with each contraction. I didn’t have any time or energy to be embarrassed about the noises I was making. I was at that crucial point where the words, “I can’t!” started to seem like the only possible answer. It took an hour from the time my midwife broke my water to the time I pushed Eli into the world. Twenty minutes before Eli was born I felt the familiar pressure to push. Zack rushed to get my midwife, she checked me and said it certainly was time to push. I had it in my mind to squat while pushing but it proved to be too much for my already exhausted body. I ended up delivering him laying on my side after only twenty minutes of pushing. It was hard and incredibly painful work but a lot easier than the three hours it took with my first baby. As Eli came out at 3:47 p.m. I heard the midwife gasp and say that he was a lot bigger than she thought he would be. He weighed in at 9lbs 9.5oz. and 22 inches. He started nursing shortly after he was born and we experienced some of the most precious snuggling time. Shortly after Eli’s first cries some of my favorite midwives from the practice rushed in to help with sutures and several other important tasks. One of them began to ask me about why I chose the birth center and eventually we started talking about The Lord. She loved the scripture cards I had scattered around the room. It was a blessing to have that kindred in the middle of such a vulnerable, important, exhilarating, and joyful experience. This specific midwife helped me use the restroom and then get into a warm soothing herbal bath where Eli and I relaxed for a little while. A few minutes after we started the bath my mom and Judah came to meet Eli. Judah even got into the bath with us to say his first hello to his baby brother. When the warmth of the water wore off another one of my favorite midwives (they were all my favorite) dried me off and helped me back into bed where Zack and I ate dinner and snuggled with our new precious baby boy. We stayed there for a few more hours and then decided to make our way home. I can not begin to express how thankful I am to have experienced natural birth. It was our very own personal miracle and It could not have been any more perfect and we are beyond blessed.
I look back on Eli’s birth with such amazing joy. The nostalgia I feel when I think through the events of that day is overwhelming. I can not be more thankful for the gift of my first son Judah but the experience of his birth was much different because of the choices I made. With Judah’s birth I did very little preparation, I just decided that I would show up and everything would work out. Judah’s birth was hard, painful and full of difficult memories. Because of that, this time I saw the importance of preparing your heart, mind, body, and soul for such a life changing event. I chose natural birth because that was a deep personal desire of mine. I don’t want my story to necessarily inspire natural birth unless you have the same desire as me. I want this story to inspire the importance of intentionally preparing for your birth. I feel like it is increasingly common for women to just show up at the hospital and expect the staff to do the rest of the work. I believe that intentionally preparing for your birth will make that day have lasting joyful memories despite the pain and possible complications. The intense pain of Eli’s birth day is minimal because we were prepared to labor enjoying the presence of God, the miracle of life, and the peace that our prayerful preparation brought. May you be inspired.