I’ve been so incredibly anxious to write Elodie’s birth story out. I never realized it would mean anything to me or that I would be interested in sharing such an intimate experience. But honestly, after going through it, I realize that it was such a pivotal experience for me in my life and leading up to the birth of Elodie I found so much comfort in reading all sorts of different birth stories. I also never realized how important a support system is during this time and having people around that have gone through similar experiences is so key in preparing for such an experience and being able to be confident to go through it yourself.
Here are the three main things I learned through the birth of Elodie (pronounced like Melody, without the M):
1) My body was made to not only build this baby, but to successfully deliver this baby. I had to let go of fears early on and cling to the fact that my body was made to do this, that I had an incredible medical team supporting me if anything went wrong and that the Lord knew how everything would play out and that I could trust in Him.
2) My husband is amazing. He was there for me leading up to the birth, he supported me in the type of birth I had hoped to have and he was by my side throughout the whole process and made me feel like the most amazing woman on Earth. Our relationship was strengthened immensely through the whole experience.
3) Pregnancy, labor & delivery and even newborns are all wildly inconvenient. But nothing in this life that is worth having comes easy. And the reward far outweighs any inconvenience. The lasting impacts (like stretch marks, etc…) I really don’t mind at all!
So now that I’ve got those thoughts out of my head…here is the story of how Elodie Rose came into this world.
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions since 28 weeks. They were basically all day, every day and usually around 7-10 minutes apart whenever they were happening. I was well aware of them, but they were very mild. I had to keep myself from timing them because I became super obsessive about them and would worry myself that I was going to go into pre-term labor. On Friday, a few days before I was 38 weeks I had my weekly checkup and was at 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. Honestly, I was not surprised and was hoping something was going on because it seemed like my BH contractions had picked up a little bit that week. I left the appointment feeling encouraged. On Sunday, Jon and I went to a baby shower for another couple and during the shower I decided I needed to start timing my contractions because they seemed pretty close together and some of them were a little more intense than I had felt before. I started timing and sure enough, they started about 7-10 mins apart but were slowly getting closer to 5-7 mins consistently. Some even 3-5 mins consistently. I was getting uneasy and uncomfortable, thankfully the baby shower was wrapping up so Jon and I decided to head out. My mind was reeling…was this going to turn into the real thing? Once we were home I decided to lay down (per my mom’s suggestion) to see if they would peter out, but they stayed consistent. Jon and I went to bed that night and just decided to wait and see what was going on. The next morning I woke up and they had petered out a good bit. I decided to go ahead into work and wait it out. By the time I was driving to work they picked back up again. And by lunch time they were coming every 3-5 minutes. Don’t they tell you if you are having contractions every 3-5 minutes for an hour you need to call your doctor? So I called the office and they scheduled me an appointment that afternoon to come by and just get checked to see what was going on. I went in and got checked and was at 2cm dilated, 90% effaced. I told the midwife how confused I was…were these real contractions or not?? She reassured me that yes, they were real contractions and they were doing their job. Unfortunately, sometimes these early labor contractions can go on for days, maybe even weeks. That’s not really what I wanted to hear. I didn’t want to have to deal with contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart for the next 2-3 weeks. She said if that was the case, nature would be playing a cruel joke on me and told me to stop timing them and to just wait until I couldn’t walk or talk through them.
I went home, a little encouraged that I was making progress, and a little concerned that this might be my new normal for a little while longer. Tuesday morning I decided to stay home from work just to see how the day went. It went by the same as the day before, contractions all day but nothing I couldn’t handle. Wednesday morning I had Jon drive me to work (because I couldn’t drive through the contractions at this point) and he stayed nearby while I worked a few hours and got everything wrapped up for my maternity leave. By lunchtime I was done. The contractions were stronger and I was getting exhausted. He came and got me, we got lunch, did a few things around town and then headed home. That evening the contractions were still going strong and were now 2-4 minutes apart consistently and had been for about 4 hours. I decided to call the on call nurse just in case…even though I could still walk and talk through the contractions. From what I was saying, she said I needed to come in to the hospital and they would check me out at triage. I was so nervous, everything at this point was such a mind game. We got checked into triage and the midwife came in to check me. I was only about 3cm dilated and still 90% effaced (I think, not sure if she told me or not). Gosh, I felt so disheartened. They decided to have my walk the halls (as fast as a mall walker) for the next hour and then they would check me again. If no progress, they would send me home. So Jon and I set out and walked quickly the same little halls over the next hour as fast as I could manage, taking breaks for certain strong contractions.
After an hour we made it back to our room and we got checked again, and sure enough…no progress. At our hospital, they don’t admit until you are 4-5cm dilated because that’s when active labor starts (unless your water has broken). They encourage laboring at home as long as possible for the best possible outcome. Which I totally agree with, but is also hard when you are going through all this for the first time and have no real idea what to expect.
Thursday and Friday came and went. They were discouraging days. Jon and I went on long walks in the park, I ate eggplant parmesan, more walks, bounced on the birthing ball, nothing new.
Saturday morning (39 weeks along) I woke up in tears. I was done. I couldn’t handle this anymore. I should be going in to work if nothing is going to happen. I should be able to drive myself around. I felt like this was going to go on forever! I sent a facebook message in desperation to a friend of mine who has had four kids just looking for some support or advice on how to handle this. I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. She called me and was so encouraging. She told me the best thing to do today would be to just rest. Get some spicy lunch with Jon and take a nap. She also texted her midwife telling her my situation and her midwife felt like I was a good candidate to take a half dose of castor oil if I wanted to, since I was already progressing.
So that’s what we did. We went and got some amazing Indian food, I took some castor oil and then I came home and took a beautiful 2 hour nap. Yes, I had some additional bowel movements, but nothing much worse than what I was already experiencing during pregnancy.
That evening, it was about 7:30pm and I was getting antsy from all the resting. Jon and I decided to go take a “stroll” through our neighborhood park. Nothing too big of a deal like our other walks. I was trying to reach my shoes off the ground and they were stuck under the coffee table a little bit so I basically had to get on all fours to get them (you pregnant women should be able to understand this). All of a sudden I felt my water break. I couldn’t believe it. I was so happy Jonathan was at home and not at work so that he could reassure me that yes, my water definitely did break. Haha. It was now around 7:45pm and I called the hospital and after answering some questions with the nurse, she sent us in.
THIS WAS IT. Finally! No waiting on the contractions to get “stronger” or deciding when it was the time to call. There was no being sent home after this. Oh man, we could finally feel excited.
Our car was basically packed already so we headed out. On our way to the hospital, the light outside was so strangely golden, unlike anything I had seen in a long time. It just resonated in our hearts that the timing was just perfect. Then as we got on to the interstate we noticed this huge rainbow and sure enough it was right over the hospital. We just felt like the Lord was watching over us and was confirming things in our hearts even on the way to the hospital. I felt His peace and was excited to move into this phase of labor.
We got checked into triage and our midwife came in and checked me. There was no need to even check if my water broke because it was pretty apparent that yes it had, haha. I was 3-4cm dilated at this point (of course…) and she warned me that if I didn’t progress within 12 hours they would have to induce labor to avoid any risk of infection. I really really really did not want to have to be induced.
Before I got pregnant I just figured I would do the whole epidural thing and just go with whatever I was told. But then when I was pregnant and started to research about birth myself, I watched “The Business of Being Born” and then began to read books by Ina May Gaskin (I would highly recommend her books or even her youtube videos!). My whole mindset about birth changed. I realized that it wasn’t something to be afraid of, yet it was something that our bodies were created to do. And that by interfering with chemicals (unless it’s an emergency) we are hindering our bodies from fully performing their jobs and often times it makes labor worse or creates issues that result in further medical interventions. Not to mention, I’m terrible with needles and the very idea of someone injecting immobilizing drugs into my spinal fluid REALLY freaked me out more than being in pain from birth… I will pretty much choose anything over that. Anyways, there are many other reasons I decided I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth, and if you want, feel free to ask me. I’d be happy to talk to you about it.
The keyword here is TRY. I knew I had no real idea of what I was getting myself into and if labor went on too long and I couldn’t handle it, I would not feel like a failure if I decided to get an epidural.
So after we got checked into the hospital, I put my clothes back on and we decided to walk the halls. By this point the contractions were definitely picking up in intensity very quickly. I was texting family and friends while walking the halls and keeping people updated during the breaks of my contractions. It was exciting. Then suddenly they jumped to a new level and we decided to head to our room where I labored by leaning over the bed during contractions and sitting on the birthing ball. My nurse started to fill up the jacuzzi tub, knowing I wanted to be able to labor in there also. It took forever for that thing to fill up but when it did I was already feeling so ready to get in it, hoping it would take some pressure off during the contractions. It was nice at first, but the water was insanely hot to me for some reason so Jon was constantly bringing me cold wash cloths for my forehead and neck every few minutes. I was probably in the tub for about an hour before I wanted my nurse to check me. She didn’t want to check me too much because she didn’t want to introduce infection but she obliged. I got out and got on the bed and at this point I was only at 5cm. The contractions had escalated in intensity again and I got back into the tub. I started to get pretty nervous. Each contraction was extremely painful and I was only at 5cm…was I going to be able to handle transition?! We labored I guess for a few more hours in the tub…I really have no concept of time but know time passed and I spent most of my time in the tub. Finally I couldn’t find any relief from each contraction and was just so ready to give up. I kept telling Jon that I couldn’t do it and that maybe I should just get the epidural. He was so encouraging and reassuring me that I was doing great and to keep breathing. The nurse came into the bathroom to check my blood pressure (I think?) and I told her I couldn’t do it anymore. She also was so encouraging and told me that yes I could. And then she told me she wanted to check me again. I was a little relieved to get out of the tub because I was getting so frustrated in the tub at this point but didn’t know how I would find relief on the bed. She checked me but I don’t recall her telling me if I had progressed. Contractions were on top of each other at this point and I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was also so hot that they turned the AC down to 55 degrees and covered me in ice packs. It didn’t help fully so I said I needed something, anything! I had an IV hookup on my arm that wasn’t connected to anything, but was there in case of an emergency. She asked me if I wanted a shot of pain killer through the IV that would last about an hour and would give me some rest in between contractions. I didn’t think I could manage much longer so I said yes. It started working immediately. The contractions were still very intense but I was able to go into a mild sleep in between each contraction. At this point I could also feel the baby’s head crowning. I communicated that to the nurse but she didn’t seem phased. She just told me to work through the contractions. For the next hour I was in and out of sleep, opening my eyes to Jon who was always at eye level reminding me to breathe. At one point I remember saying to Jon “I’m tired of breathing!” After that hour, the medicine wore off and I was fully awake again. I told her again that I could feel the baby crowning. She told me to flip over from my right side to my left side. Pretty soon after I did that, my body went into high gear. When a contraction would come, my body would start pushing on its own, I couldn’t stop it. The nurse was super calm and then all of a sudden there was another nurse and they had gloves on and were prepping things and I realized they were getting ready for me to push this baby out.
My body continued to push during contractions and I thought the baby might come before any of us were ready for her. I couldn’t stop or slow down the pushing even if I wanted to. At this point I wasn’t really worried about pain anymore, I was just trying to keep up with the nurses. Next thing I knew they were telling me to push! I pushed through a few contractions with them and then suddenly the midwife was in the room, all suited up for delivery. It seemed like everything happened so fast. I kept asking “are you sure?!” every time they would tell me to push. I didn’t want to start pushing if she wasn’t on her way out and really wanted to control the pushing to keep from tearing as much as possible. The midwife was super reassuring and did a great job at directing me as to when to push and when to rest. She was comforting and told me I had more control over my body than she sees in most deliveries. That gave me the confidence boost I needed and I pushed through about 5-7 contractions over the course of about 20 minutes and finally through one final push the baby was here!
She came out at 3:04 am and the midwife asked if we wanted to let the cord finish pulsating, which yes, we did want. She had a short cord so baby girl laid on my belly for a few minutes until it finished and then Jon cut the cord. It was such an amazing feeling. They did all the afterbirth things but I was hardly aware of any of it because I was just so immersed in taking in this new little person who was all ours. Who I had just worked so hard for. It was incredible.
CMC Pineville has such an amazing maternity center. They encourage skin to skin immediately and to begin breastfeeding immediately. They also encourage a full hour of just mom, dad and baby before any visitors come in so that you have a chance to really bond with the baby for a little bit before she gets passed around. It was also a few hours before they ever took her off my chest to weigh her and a day or so before she got her first bath. A healthy 8 pounds, 4 ounces, 19 inches long! And honestly, pushing out an 8 pound baby really wasn’t that big of a deal 😉
Finally after about an hour, family came pouring in to meet little Elodie Rose. I felt amazing. I had gotten cleaned up and couldn’t believe that I was already feeling good enough to walk around. I almost immediately felt back to normal (I wasn’t – but I felt like it!) That was one thing I really appreciated about not having an epi, was the ability to feel like myself right after birth and not be hooked up to anything or wait for medication to wear off. Also, Elodie was extremely alert and active as soon as she came out which was so awesome and made it worth it to me to have gone as natural as possible.
Even though early labor felt like it lasted forever, it really was all such a mind game. There were times during active labor that I definitely wanted to give up and I think no matter how women choose to deliver their babies, we are all champions. It’s probably one of the hardest, yet most rewarding things to go through in life no matter how the baby comes and I’m so thankful that I was blessed to be able to experience it and hopefully will again in the future one day.
Elodie is now three weeks old and we are doing great. The first few days were full of pure bliss, sleep deprivation and a whole new learning curve of what to do with this tiny human. The next two weeks were a huge adjustment and I was so happy to have my mom here to stay with us and help us out in sooo many ways. Now I feel like we are finally getting used to this new normal. She’s getting on a great feeding and starting to get on a great sleeping schedule. Who knew these tiny beings could be so complicated? It’s been a fun ride!
And lastly, the story of her name: Elodie is just a name that we came across and put on our list the day we found out she was a girl. We didn’t totally decide on it until we were on our way to the hospital. It means “foreign riches” and in our hearts that translates as treasure from Heaven. She’s a gift to us from above and we are blessed that she was given to our little family. She’s our treasure. Rose comes from my maiden name which is “DeRosa.” It was really hard to drop my maiden name when I got married because I am so sentimental. I always wanted to give my daughter a name that had tremendous meaning and what better way than to give her a version of my family’s surname. I’m proud of where she came from and I always want her to feel connected to her roots.
Thanks for checking in and reading my story. Love you all!