Elijah’s birth story was so different from Caleb’s! You can read Caleb’s birth story here.
There may not have been anything particularly out of the ordinary about Elijah’s birth, but every single birth is miraculous and points to the incredible design of our Creator. I am so thankful for the birth story that God wrote for us yesterday. So…if you’re a weirdo like me and love a good ol’ birth story, enjoy. ;) If you’re squeamish….read at your own risk. ;)
On Wednesday, December 14, after a restless night of sleep full of Braxton Hicks and numerous dreams about my water breaking, I woke up at 5:40 AM to a painful contraction. It hurt in my abdomen and wrapped around to my back…I immediately knew this was different. I timed a few before waking Andrew at 6:15 to tell him I was pretty sure labor was starting. We were so glad he had been able to take his last seminary final a day early, just in case!
As we hurried around the house gathering our things, the contractions ramped up quickly in intensity and intervals. By the time we were in the car around 7:00 and dropping Caleb off with our friends, the contractions were coming every five minutes, lasting about 50 seconds, and were pretty painful but totally bearable.
We met my wonderful midwife Rachel at the Ventura Birth Center (an hour drive from home) and were ecstatic to learn that I was 3-4cm dilated! Since I was still in early labor, she left to allow us to settle in and labor alone until we wanted her support.
It wasn’t long before the contractions died down. I was discouraged, but glad not to be in the hospital, where I likely would have been started on pitocin at this point. We went on a walk to the mall a half mile away and Andrew got his hair cut! I never had “early labor” with Caleb, so the notion that I could be laboring at the mall while my husband got a haircut was hysterically funny to me. Throughout the afternoon, I enjoyed a sweet time with Andrew as we rested, ate, worked through sporadic contractions, and waited for labor to pick back up. Around 3:30, it did.
The contractions were really painful, but I felt in control as I rocked and moaned through each one. Andrew provided counter pressure on my back or let me sway with him while I contracted. He encouraged me constantly. I was beyond grateful not to be experiencing back labor this time! What a difference!
Between 4:30 and 5:00, things became really intense and a lot more painful as I hit transition. I got super emotional and began crying between contractions, and I lost that sense of control and had a hard time dealing with the pain mentally. Rachel and her assistant, Sue, both showed up within about five minutes of my water breaking (gushing!) with a contraction around 5:30. Now the contractions became seemingly unbearable. I felt trapped in the pain. I got in a warm tub and labored there on my hands and knees. I was now 7cm dilated.
I remember thinking, If I were in the hospital, I’m pretty sure I would be begging for an epidural right now. I kept telling Andrew I couldn’t do it and telling him how bad it hurt as I swayed back and forth in the water. He kept telling me I could do it and that I was doing amazing. Rachel and Sue kept encouraging me as well. The contractions were super close together and sometimes I couldn’t tell where one stopped and the next began. The heaviness and piercing pressure of my baby on my pelvis was tremendous. As the urge to push came on, I started to do so. For some of the contractions, there was less pain when I pushed through them. On others I just writhed and couldn’t push. Rachel checked me…I had one centimeter to go. She used a technique on the next push to help my cervix fully dilate. It felt excruciating but was so worth it!
I wanted to crawl out of my skin with each contraction, as I’m sure everyone does at this point in labor. ;) I yelled or groaned through most of them. The thought of a baby coming was no longer comforting because in my mind I truly didn’t believe I would ever be able to push him out. With some pushes, I felt the beginning of the ring of fire burning. I knew I could be close, but I kept remembering how I’d pushed for almost four hours with Caleb, and my heart sank. Andrew prayed aloud for me as I cried.
Then Rachel said she could see hair! I got out of the tub and sat on a birthing stool. They continued checking Eli’s heartbeat between contractions. Suddenly Sue said something like, “The baby’s in a place he doesn’t like now. On the next contraction, you HAVE to push him all the way out. Don’t worry about tearing, just push with everything you have and make sure he comes out!”
With Caleb, I had followed Rachel’s (my doula that birth) wise instructions and slowed down at the end when I felt the ring of fire, allowing his head to stretch me and thus, evading a bad tear. But now, I trusted Rachel and Sue’s expertise and did the opposite, giving every last ounce of energy to pushing my baby out. The ring of fire passed very quickly as I felt Eli’s head slip out. One more hard push and his shoulders followed, and there he was in my arms. My slippery, squirming, crying baby was against my chest and he was absolutely perfect.
An indescribable wave of relief and love swept over me as I clung to our baby with Andrew right beside me, taking in his precious, pudgy face. He was perfection. Rolls and hair and pudgy cheeks and big, dark, beautiful eyes that stared right into ours. It was 6:59 PM when he entered the world.
The midwives explained that Eli’s hear rate had dropped and then spiked, indicating he may be in distress. When he came out, his cord was over one shoulder. It had likely been briefly pinched in the birth canal, causing the change in heart rate. I got a second degree tear and needed ten stitches, but I was so thankful that my midwives erred on the side of protecting Eli, and thankful the tear wasn’t worse!
Following birth, I got to take Eli to bed with me and just snuggle as long as I wanted to. I experienced violent, uncontrollable shaking for over an hour, and the subsequent stitching process was uncomfortable, but cuddling our new baby overshadowed everything unpleasant.
When I finally turned my sweet Elijah Steven over to Sue for his measurements, we were shocked to learn he was nine pounds, 20.5 inches long, and had an enormous 15 inch head. He was well over a pound bigger than Caleb!
There are so many things about this labor to praise God for. That I was allowed to let my body “do its thing” and not get rushed. That I could labor in water. That I was supported tremendously, emotionally and physically, by my encouraging, steady, rock-of-a-husband. That I was in excellent hands with the intuition and genuine care of my fabulous midwife team. That I was able to relax and enjoy my prize following labor, and take him to the comfort of our home just four hours later. That God watched over Eli’s heart and oxygen levels and kept him totally safe. That God provided me with the strength to push Eli out when I needed to. That I had no back labor or pitocin, only had about two hours of active labor, and only pushed for 19 minutes! So spoiled!
Every single birth story is amazing. Every single baby is a gift. I am so grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to witness God’s wondrous miracle of birth again, with all its agony. The prize was worth every bit of the pain and I am SO excited to get to know our sweet little boy in the days and years ahead. “Every good and perfect gift comes down from above.” Thank You, Father.