Eli’s birth story is both very long and very short. Long in the fact that starting September 12th I was on bed rest due to severe dehydration and vertigo (Eli was born on September 15th), short in that it was just 1 1/2 hours from the onset of active labor to babe in arms (such an answer to prayer!).
A little background … Eli was due September 8th and although due dates are very much guess dates, once you have a day in mind, it really sticks with you. My mom and sister are both teachers so having a baby due the first week of school was less than ideal, but we had plans and back-up plans and back-up plans for those plans. All in all, when September 1st rolled around, we were definitely in baby mode.
I passed all my “today wouldn’t be my first pick for a birthday” days … the 6th (my mom’s first day of school), the 7th (Max’s PreK open house that I wanted to make it to), the 11th (because that will always be a sad day), and the 12th (Max’s first day of PreK). All day on the 12th I battled a headache and finally after nap time asked Dominic to grab groceries and come home so I could just rest in the dark and quiet.
Instead of getting better though, my headache got worse and by morning Dominic had decided to stay home for the day thinking that I was just overspent, overdue, and overwhelmed. I slept in, had a late breakfast, and slept some more. I was starting to feel really dizzy in addition to my headache and we were anxiously awaiting both a chiropractic and midwife appointment late in the day on Wednesday hoping that one or the other would get me on the mend.
I woke up just in time to leave for my appointments and although the chiropractor helped ease my headache, my dizziness actually got worse. By the time we arrived at the midwife I was feeling awful and threw up in her parking lot. Headache + dizziness + car ride = big time nausea apparently.
We had planned to strip my membranes to help kickstart labor, but my midwife, Charlotte, wanted to get my symptoms under control before launching labor so she recommended we head to the ER to further explore what was going on.
With all 3 kids in tow, we made our way to the hospital. I barfed along the way (it is so tragic to do that while flying down the freeway) and again in the hospital parking lot. Jemma and Max just stared, I don’t think they’ve ever seen me so sick. The ER had told Dominic that since I was so far along that I should go straight to Labor & Delivery so up we went … Dominic pushing super pregnant me in a wheelchair, Jemma pushing Reid in the stroller, and Max bopping along asking everyone we passed if they were going to make his mom feel better.
Long story short, I was massively dehydrated.
My mom took over the kids, Dominic slept on the linoleum floor, and I got 5 liters pumped into me before I started feeling better. They gave me a vertigo patch to help with my dizziness and by the next morning we were on our way home with the kindest well wishes for our home birth. Truly, I’ve never heard of or met a more accepting hospital staff. They wanted to get me better so we could proceed with our birth plan. One doctor even took down Dominic’s cell number because he wanted to text him and make sure I was doing well once we got home.
So, that puts us at September 14th. I make it home and into bed, still couldn’t sit or walk without the room spinning but my nausea and headache were gone. Our chiropractor made a house call on his lunch break (because chiropractors are amazing like that) and the spinning finally stopped! We called Charlotte and together decided that I needed rest, good food, and electrolytes for the day and on Friday morning we would resume with the stripping membrane plan.
Around 11am on the 15th Charlotte stopped by and did her thing. It sucked. I do not recommend membrane stripping. It’s like a really awful Pap; uncomfortable and just uh! I lost my mucous plug shortly after because I guess that’s what happens when your overdue cervix gets mangled. I’ve never had my membranes stripped before and I’ve never seen my mucous plug. So, now I can add those things to my list of pregnancy experiences. Then again, we’ve never tried any natural induction methods so Eli wins for lots of pregnancy newness since he is my most baked baby too – 41 weeks on the dot!
Nothing came of stripping. Maybe a mild contraction or two, but I napped like a baby all afternoon, ate dinner, and waiting for step two of our plan — breaking my water.
At 7:30, my doula, midwife, and two birth assistants convened and let the floodgates open. There was so much water! My belly was visibly smaller and every time Eli moved I’d have a new gush.
Contractions kicked in right away. Light and short at first. Charlotte and her team left for a short neighborhood walk so I could start laboring without a ton of onlookers and Dominic and Terri, my doula, stayed with me. Pretty soon contractions picked up and I moved from bed to the toilet. I’m telling you, a wide squat is a real good way to get baby positioned and ready while making mama feel steady and supported.
I sat on the toilet for maybe 30 minutes and during that time I told Dominic that I hated labor with every single contraction. Because I do, I hate labor. I hate the pain and discomfort, I hate the unknown of how long it will be, I hate knowing that it only gets worse. I just don’t cope well. I tried to remind myself that each wave brings baby closer, but then I’m quickly discouraged by just how awful it all truly is.
Seeing that I preferred to be squatting, Terri set up the birthing stool in our bedroom so I could sit and lean onto the bed. I moved that direction and that’s when contractions really got going. I moaned and cried and did lots of deep breathing as a means of managing each one. I had been 3cm when Charlotte broke my water so knowing that women typically progress 1cm an hour, I assumed I had a long night ahead of me. But I was wrong. It was roughly 8:45pm when Charlotte came back and seeing my full blown labor state asked if I wanted her to check if I had a cervical lip holding baby back at all. I think I said yes, but then I started bearing down so we skipped that and got me turned around on the birth stool so someone could actually catch my baby (I had been facing the bed so couldn’t birth well where I was at). Terri sat behind me and literally supported my whole body with each push and Dominic was next to me, ready to catch our little (well, giant) newborn.
Don’t fault Dom for smiling in that last one … he knew we were really close to being done and meeting our son. Totally worth a smile :)
If I remember correctly, it was about 5 contractions worth of pushing and Eli was born! At 9:01pm he was in my arms and I was so relieved, so in love!
Eli snuggled up and nursed. I birthed the placenta, which is a secondary birth experience if you ask me, and then we got situated in bed. I needed a few stitches and that was that. From water breaking to baby in arms it was just 1 1/2 hours. A miracle!!!
Eli, who didn’t actually have a name at this point, made it through his newborn assessment before snuggling in for his first night earth side. He weighed 11 pounds, 4 ounces, was 22 1/4 inches long, and had a 15cm head circumference. My biggest baby by far! And, no double thumb! We totally prepared for that seeing that his two brothers had this anomaly. Genetics are crazy.
We didn’t purposefully leave Max out of “meet the baby” photos … Eli was born after bedtime and Max was out like a light! My sister tried to wake him and even carried him into the room, but he was not one bit interested and begged to go back to sleep. He didn’t even remember that we had woken him in the morning!
Eli was named three days later. Max had been campaigning hard for the name Eli (or “E-why” as he pronounces it) and I think we all knew it was his name, but just needed time to let it settle in. His middle name is Anthony after his paternal grandfather. Eli means ascended/uplifted/high and Anthony means priceless one … both quite fitting for this wonderful boy. My name, Gretchen, also means priceless one and I love that we share that between our names. We gave Eli the verse, 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Between his name meaning and his verse I’ve always had this beautiful picture of how life is similar to climbing a mountain. There are peaks and there are valleys, but through Jesus we rise and overcome and find freedom through the good and bad. It is my prayer that Eli grows to embrace the perseverance necessary for the climb and that He finds hope, camaraderie, and freedom in his relationship with His Lord and Savior.
Eli, you are the perfect addition to our family. We love you so and can’t wait to see more of who you are. Already you are the sweetest, most routine loving little boy. Your big sister and big brothers adore you and Daddy can’t get enough baby cuddles. Thank you for being ours. Love forever and ever, Mama
A giant thank you to my sister, Katie, who arrived just in time to grab my camera and capture birth photos! I had given her a brief lesson on my camera and how to best adjust the settings based on the available light and then, of course, gave birth in room that only had two little lamps! So much for the ease of daylight! She did amazing though … THANK YOU, KATIE! xoxo