Eleanor Anne: A Natural Hospital Birth Story

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunday, June 24th
Chris and I got up and went to church, went out for breakfast afterwards and came home to relax. We sat outside for about an hour and then I went inside to take a little cat nap. It was a pretty normal day! I talked to Chris about our appointment scheduled for the following day and whether or not I should get my membranes stripped. After talking to him more we decided to just let my body do its thing and opt out. After all, I was already 4cm dilated, 90% effaced and baby Elle was at station 0. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, a lot of lower abdominal cramping the week prior and I lost my mucus plug. We cooked a delicious dinner together and stayed up a little later than usual, watching Netflix and just enjoying each others company. 

Monday, June 25th
I woke up around 12:15am to some serious, full on contractions. They started in my lower back and made their way to the front. I decided to wake Chris up at 1:00am because the back pain was getting worse and I needed some counter-pressure. He started timing the contractions and they were lasting 3-4 minutes and were 10-15 minutes apart. We got out of bed around 1:45 and got on my hands and knees on the birth ball, where the contractions intensified and got closer together. At this point Chris contacted our doula (Amara, she’s amazing) and she recommended getting into the bath and trying to relax a little bit and to let her know when they were 5 minutes apart. I sat in the bath for about 20 minutes while Chris got everything ready to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting longer and stronger and were hard to track because they had two “peaks”. They would start off slow, intensify, slow back down and then intensify again before tapering off…it was not fun! When I got out of the bath I went straight back to my hands and knees on the birth ball with Chris applying counter-pressure to my back. By 3:40am the contractions were 2-3 minutes long and just under 5 minutes apart, so Chris had Amara head over. I continued to labor on my hands and knees on the birth ball and when Amara got here we pretty much decided it was time to go with how quickly the contractions were intensifying. We were out the door on the way to the Midwifery Center just before 5am.

I hardly remember the drive, just that the pressure from sitting was unbearable and that I could not wait to stand! We got to the ER (the Midwifery Center is attached to a hospital) about 15 minutes later and the check-in process was as ridiculous as it is in the movies…that’s about the only thing Hollywood got right LOL Even though I had done all of the pre-registration, I still had to fill out a little form, give my social and ID and wait for a nurse to escort me in a wheel chair. By this point I was in a lot of pain and pretty vocal with my contractions as I was humming through them. 

The ride in the wheelchair up the the midwifery center was also terrible, because like I said, sitting was unbearable for the pressure and back labor. When I got to my room the tub was being filled up and everything was ready for me to go, but I had to be on the fetal heart monitor for 20 minutes before I could get in or walk around. As they were checking baby’s heart rate they checked my cervix and I was 7cm dilated!! SEVEN CENTIMETERS! I was so happy. I was terrified that I was going to be only 4-5cm. At this point the sun was starting to come up so I think it was around 6-6:15am and I got into the birth tub. IT WAS AMAZING! I got on my hands and knees for a couple contractions and then Amara recommended lifting one leg up and lunging through some contractions. 

I was in the tub for about an hour and I started feeling the need to push so I got out. This is when the midwife asked me if my water had broken, and it hadn’t. She brought up breaking my waters just to speed up the process and I decided to go for it. This is where the story gets interesting…

The midwife broke my water and discovered A LOT of meconium (baby poop). This can be concerning and opted me out of continuing to labor and give birth in the midwifery center, and I had to be transferred to labor and delivery (just down the hall). I honestly wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be at the transfer…I think I was just hyper-focused on Eleanor and getting her out healthy. I knew that I could still successfully do this unmedicated, no matter where I was. Once in my L&D room, I had to be on continuous fetal monitoring which limited me to the bed, but we made it work! We raised the bed and I went through some contractions on my hands and knees, and some lunging, and I had to continue to fight the urge to push by doing lots of shallow, quick breathing and “horsey lips”. I did not realize how hard it was to fight the urge to push! But it also made me think about how smart my body was and to trust it, my midwife and my doula. 

It got harder and harder to not push, so the midwife checked my cervix again. I was 9.5cm dilated, BUT there was just a lip of cervix stuck on Eleanor’s head. So with the next contraction I pushed while the midwife moved the cervix. This was around 8am. I pushed on my hands and knees for awhile and then the midwife suggested that I empty my bladder…this was impossible for me. I sat on the toilet for a minute but when the contraction came i jumped up because I thought she was going to fall out in the toilet! LOL if only it were that easy. The nurses put wireless monitors on my belly and Amara got out the Rebozo and secured it to the bathroom door because she knew I wanted to do some pushing in the squatting position. I think I made it through 2 contractions here and realized it wasn’t for me! I couldn’t get the hang of pushing in this position. I went back to the bed and after pushing on my hands and knees for awhile, the fetal heart monitor showed that Elle’s heart rate was slowing down so the midwife suggested I get on my side. I labored here with the peanut ball between my legs for awhile (I completely lost track of time), and soon they called in the Labor & Delivery doctor to check out baby’s heart rate. He told me that if her heart rate didn’t improve, we might have to intervene with forceps, vacuum or worse case scenario, c-section. At this point I was in full on “get this baby out mode” and was determined to not have any interventions so it was GAME ON. Apparently while I continued to push the nurses brought in the vacuum but I didn’t even see it—Chris told me this later. But, after switching pushing positions a couple times Elle’s heart rate was back to normal! 

I continued to push and push and finally the midwife says, “look at that hair!” It was the motivation I needed to keep going—I was getting TIRED. I continued to push for another hour from that point. Yes, you read right. AN HOUR! Once she was further down in the birth canal, I actually got to see that head of hair and experience the “ring of fire”…they are NOT lying with that name! That was the only time in my labor (I think lol) that I said “it hurts”. But, I reminded myself that I was built for this, pain is temporary and Amara kept saying, “breathe and stretch“ which was SO helpful in reminding me that I did not want to tear. My midwife also kept getting warm wash clothes and pressing them on my vagina which felt so, so good. Once the midwife realized that Eleanor would be here soon, she told me that if she comes out crying, she can come straight to my chest, but if she doesn’t make a noise she’s going straight to the nurses. I slowly but surely pushed out her head, and this is when they realized she was “sunny side up”, meaning that her belly was facing my belly. This is why my cervix was stuck and why I had such bad back labor. I was so amazed when I looked down and saw her head, I couldn’t believe I still had to push out her shoulders! But with the next contraction I did just that and at 9:59am she was HERE and she was crying! She came straight to my bare chest and I looked at Chris and we both had tear-filled eyes. We did this! And she was so alert!! AND I did not tear! I pushed for a total of two hours. It honestly was such a blur it doesn’t feel like it was that long! I found that the most comfortable/efficient pushing position was laying on my side, holding my legs up. Since I had never pushed before, this was easiest for me to really bear down. 

The nurses started cleaning her off while she was on my chest—she was COVERED in meconium. Chris cut the umbilical cord, and then it was time to push out the placenta. The midwife pushed on my belly and gave a little tug and with one last push the placenta was out. It was GREEN from the amount of meconium in the womb! I have a picture, but i figured I would keep that to myself lol 

After I got some skin-to-skin (maybe 10-15 mins), they took Elle to get all of the meconium out of her belly and nose. They had to stick a tube down her throat to get it all out, but I am thankful that they did because it was A LOT. You know what else there was a lot of? Blood. Yes, I knew there would be blood but I didn’t realize how much would be coming out of me! Anyways, after the placenta was out and Elle was all cleaned out, we got our “golden hour” with her. We were able to establish breastfeeding with the help of Amara and I could’t believe how alert she was! She had an APGAR score of 9. I was so proud! The rest of golden hour consisted of Chris and I staring at our beautiful baby girl, him telling me how proud and amazed he was by me and talking with Amara about the crazy-amazingness that just happened.

Even though things did not go perfectly from the outside looking in, it was absolutely perfect from the inside looking out. We got our baby girl in the end. I had my husband there cheering me on the whole time. I did it unmedicated. Eleanor is healthy. I am healthy. GOD IS SO GOOD. 

Here are some photos that Amara snapped: 
Right when we arrived at the midwifery center and had to be monitored for 20 minutes.

By far the most comfortable I was all labor! The tub was AMAZING. And look at Chris...he is the sweetest. I could not have done this without him. 
After being transferred to L&D...stuck to the bed but making it work! 

My unicorn baby! She had a perfect 7cm circle on her head.  
So, so happy <3

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