On July 13th at 1:00 am our world was made so much brighter when Eleanor Sue was born.
I was (barely) 40 weeks and 2 days, so technically I should have made a 40 week bumpdate post, but I was so grumpy about going past my due date that I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Either way, she was definitely worth the wait, and we are so happy she’s here! Her birth was such a roller coaster, and now that we’ve had time to process it all (and look through the pictures and birth video countless times) I’m excited to officially share her birth story.
After a rough Monday (which was my due date) wishing labor would start, I was exhausted, emotional and defeated. I had been begging the Lord for the baby to be born that weekend, but when it came and went with no sign of labor in sight, I was grumpy. I had gone curb walking the previous couple of mornings and evenings (which lead to the baby dropping lower, making me very uncomfortable) and I had finally reached my breaking point.
So that night I went to bed, resigned to the fact that I’d just be pregnant forever. Then at 2 am on Tuesday morning (after my second bathroom trip), I felt a very familiar sensation and leapt out of bed. My water had broken! We quickly prepped the bed, got out the birth supplies for the home birth, then tried to go back to sleep. Naturally I couldn’t, and tossed and turned for hours before falling asleep for a little bit.
I was worried that this labor would be like June’s, where my water broke but labor took forever (and some *yummy* castor oil) to start. So when I woke up and still hadn’t felt much change, I began to lose hope. I went curb walking some more, on a walk with the kids, bounced on the ball and did some spinning babies.
So I got adjusted, walked some stairs and prayed and prayed that labor would start.
Then we stopped by my amazing midwife’s office where she checked on me and the baby, and gave us some things to try when we got home. But by that point I was so tired from barely sleeping the night before, that I decided to lay down and take a nap before doing anything else.
2.5 hours later, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to have a baby. I took the homeopathic remedies I was given, pumped for an hour, drank a minuscule amount of castor oil (“just to see if it would help any”) and did some more spinning babies. I still wasn’t feeling much (although the pumping did induce some contractions), so an hour later I pumped again.
During that next hour of pumping I began to really feel things moving. I was having contractions that lasted around 45 seconds long, were about 3 minutes apart and I was feeling queasy in between them. After 45 minutes I called my midwife and updated her. We knew the pumping was causing them to be so intense, so we decided to see how things looked after I finished pumping. It continued to feel the same over the next 15 mintues, so I texted the midwife and photographer and asked them to come over.
Everyone arrived around 8 pm and they got the house ready for the birth. My contractions slowed down a little and were less intense, although pacing through the house kept them going. But then they began to space out a little more. Around 10 pm I decided to try straddling the toilet, but things really started to slow down. Then my midwife suggested hands and knees on the exercise ball and at that point everything stopped completely.
And I lost it.
At this point it felt just like June’s birth, and I was mentally exhausted. I didn’t want another experience like hers (which I had been saying this entire pregnancy) and yet here we were. I was mad and frustrated. I felt like my body didn’t know how to have a baby. And I felt like I had failed.
After a good long cry, my midwife suggested laying on the bed and working on loosening my hips. I kept telling her I wasn’t tired, but the minute I laid down I realized how exhausted I really was. Now I know how toddlers feel. For the next hour Isaac and I laid together and I drifted in and out of sleep while my midwife jiggled, massaged and opened my hips. I focused on the noise of the sound machine, and we all prayed that my body and the baby would work together.
During that time I had about 4 or 5 REALLY strong contractions that I had to intentionally breathe through. I chalked it up to the weird position I was in, and told myself that it would probably slow down once I got up. After an hour of laying on the bed I got up and walked around the room a little. I remember looking at my watch and seeing it was 11:55 pm.
No baby today.
I decided to lay back down, but on my way to the bed I had a strong contraction that stopped me in my tracks. I looked at Isaac and said “wow. That one really hurt”. All thoughts of laying down left and I sat on the exercise ball instead. Over the next 30 minutes or so things ramped up fast. I had my legs out wide, and focused on keeping things as relaxed as possible as the contractions came. It was so intense. I told my midwife it felt like things went from 0 to 100.
Around that same time I began to really hurt. Counter pressure barely took the edge off. I was struggling to breathe and relax, and I was beginning to pull away from the contractions rather than letting them do their job. I vividly remember saying “I don’t know how long I can keep this up” because at that point I had no idea how many hours I had left with such intense pain and pressure.
My midwife suggested getting up and walking around, because the baby may be in a bad position which was causing things to feel so hard. I agreed, and began walking to the living room. I made it three steps to the doorway before stopping for a contraction. As it came I knew it was going to be a big one. I braced myself agains the door frame and breathed the baby down. I felt the baby drop and the pressure changed. Not even a minute later another contraction came, and my body began to push.
Isaac was in the living room trying to get the birth tub full, so I waddled as fast as a lady in labor can to the couch to try and get in the tub for the birth. I threw myself down and at that point my body took over. I couldn’t stop it.
So there I was, lying on the couch next to a birth pool that was 2 degrees too warm to get in. I still had my shorts and Depends on. And I was actively pushing out my baby.
The next 10 or so minutes were a blur of shoving pads underneath me to protect the couch, ripping off my clothing, checking the baby’s heart rate and letting my body do its thing. But as the head was crowning, baby’s heart rate began to drop so my midwife wanted me to change positions. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but moving from your side to hands and knees with a baby’s head between your legs is not very fun. We did it, though, and a few pushes later the baby was born.
At exactly 1:00 am, Eleanor Sue was born.
On my couch.
It still makes me laugh when I think about it.
It was such a crazy labor and birth experience. It was long and drawn out, but once I relaxed and got out of my head we had a baby in an hour. I just love how that “oh my gosh” reaction was captured. I was (and still kind of am) shocked by how quickly the baby was born! And boy am I glad I didn’t have to deal with those contractions for too long haha.
The next couple of hours were spent getting to know our sweet little baby and finding out the gender. She came out looking so much like James that both Isaac and I thought it was a boy, so we were surprised when it was really a perfectly scrumptious baby girl.
8 lbs 14 oz of chunky monkey fat rolls.
Short blonde hair.
Dark blue eyes.
And the sweetest, squishiest cheeks.
We gave her my middle name, which was also my maternal grandmother’s. We call her Ellie, and we are all oh so in love with her.
I struggled so much this pregnancy with accepting that we were having another baby, feeling guilty about it not being planned, and so much fear of how I would balance life with three kids. But now I can’t imagine our family without her. She is smothered with love 24/7 by her big siblings, has been so chill and easy going (which this tired mama really appreciates), and has the sweetest milk drunk smiles.
I am so thankful and grateful that the Lord blessed our family with this surprise gift we didn’t know we needed. We love you to the moon and back, sweet Eleanor Sue!