Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ellie's Birth Story

After passing the 1 week overdue mark, I was starting to get very frustrated and feeling like Ellie was never going to come. I went to bed Sunday night feeling the same as always: uncomfortable and restless.

I woke up at 5:30 and had what felt like menstrual cramps. After I had 2 pretty close together, I decided to time them to see if there was a pattern. They were about 7-8 minutes apart, but not very uncomfortable. I decided to try to sleep a little more and not get my hopes up that this was labor starting.

After about an hour of being unable to fall back asleep, I went to go get James and tell him what was going on. He had taken to sleeping in the guest room a few nights a week because I was snoring so loud and I tended to sleep better if I could sprawl out more. I told him I thought I might be in labor, but not to get too excited yet. We both said that August 1st would be an excellent birthday, the same thing we had said every night before going to sleep for weeks hoping that Ellie would come the next day. We laid in bed and dozed for another hour or so and decided to get up.

Throughout the day, my contractions stayed pretty mild and 7-8 minutes apart. Several times they slowed to 30-40 minutes and I thought maybe I was just in false labor and this wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to rest a lot so I would have energy when it was time to do the real work. I listened to my Hypnobabies tracks to relax and zone out. We didn’t tell anyone what was going on to avoid calls asking about our progress. Around 5:30, we called our midwife to let her know what was going on and that we would probably be coming to the birth center later that night if things continued.

At 6 pm I took a bath to help relax and my contractions all but stopped. I was so disappointed and cried to James. He reassured me that Ellie would come when she was ready and that I was doing a good job.

After I got out of the bath, I went and laid down and my contractions started coming back every 7 minutes and more intense. I was still able to talk through them and James didn’t know when they were happening unless I told him. I was finally getting confident that this really was labor though.

At 9:30 things started picking up. My contractions were becoming more intense and more frequent, but I was still able to easily deal with them. I sat on my birth ball, walked around the house swaying my hips, and leaned against James or a wall to help Ellie come down. I was keeping my Hypnobabies tracks on repeat at this point to keep me focused. I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, hoping that by the time we got to the birth center, I would be close to completely dilated. The contractions continued to get stronger and were about 5 minutes apart. James packed the rest of our bag while I labored and gave him instructions. Around midnight, I could tell James was getting very tired. I know he doesn’t function well on no sleep, so I told him to go to bed and get a little rest because it was going to be a long night.

I went into the nursery and worked through my contractions there. I would sit on the birth ball and rock back and forth. I was starting to have to vocalize through the contractions and was even singing through them at one point. It helped distract my mind from what my body was feeling by having to focus on the words and key. I let James sleep until 1:30 and then woke him up because I needed his help. He would sway with me as I moaned through the contractions and made sure I was staying hydrated. I told him at 2:30 to call the midwife and tell her we were coming in. I felt like I had made a lot of progress by this point and was ready to have her there to help me.

We arrived at the birth center a little after 3 am and Polly, my midwife, met us at the door. She led us to the room and said she would like to check my progress. I was confident I was at least 5 or 6 centimeters if not more by this point since I had been in labor almost 24 hours. She checked me and said I was a 3 and completely effaced. This was probably one of the most disheartening things for me to hear and I nearly cried. She reassured me that the first few centimeters are the hardest to get past and that I was doing well. I pulled it together and told myself that I had a lot of work to do and it was time to get down to it.

I got in the tub very quickly and stayed there for nearly 2 hours. Being able to move freely and have the warm water surrounding me helped me relax and rest. Joanna, my birth assistant, rubbed my back and shoulders. She was familiar with Hypnobabies and used my "peace" and "relax" cues to help me.

Once out of the tub, I would spend time sitting on the birth ball, walking the halls, and laying on the bed. I also started feeling a sensation that hadn’t expected—searing pain on the outside of my thighs radiating from my hips to my knees. I had prepared myself to deal with abdominal and back pain, but the pain in my legs I was not prepared for and I didn’t know how to deal with it because walking and rocking my hips made it worse. No amount of relaxation and hypnosis was able to pull my mind away from my legs. My midwife told me that it was because my hips were opening up to let the baby through. It continued to get worse as my labor progressed. The worst part of it was that it didn’t let up when the contractions ended. Eventually, it was the only pain I experienced. I couldn’t feel anything other than the hot pain in my legs. Everything else just felt like intense pressure, not pain.

Around 10 am, my midwife checked me again and this time I was a 7-8. I felt good about that. I was making progress. All the work I was doing was getting me closer to meeting my little girl. I continued working through each contraction with James. He was wonderful and so encouraging to me. There were several times that I looked at him and told him I was so tired and couldn’t do it. I had been up for over 24 hours and hadn’t eaten much of anything since the night before. James told me I was already doing it and I could finish it.

At noon I started feeling a lot of pressure like I had to go to the bathroom. I went and sat on the toilet and felt like pushing a little. Polly told me to do what my body was telling me. I pushed a couple of times, and Polly decided to try and check to see what was going on. She felt my bag of waters bulging and decided to go ahead and break it. After that, my contractions became much more intense. Within an hour, I was complete and ready to meet our baby.

James and I both got on the bed with James behind me and pushed once, but it was so painful in my legs that I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing. They got out the birth stool and I sat on that and pushed. It was much more comfortable that way and I really felt like I was pushing well.

After 30 minutes, I told Polly I felt like the baby was right there and she assured me that I needed to keep pushing, thinking I would need to push for a couple hours. I insisted that the baby was right there and she went ahead and check and sure enough, the baby was beginning to crown.

They quickly moved me to the bed, again with James behind me, and got everything ready. Joanna held a mirror so I could watch my baby being born. I tried to slowly ease her head out in between contractions, hoping to reduce any tearing. I had her about a quarter of the way out and a contraction hit. My body began pushing powerfully and Polly told me to look, because I had closed my eyes. I had pushed her entire head out. One more strong, involuntary push and her entire little body slid out. I reached down and pulled her up to my chest and she began crying.
We quickly wrapped her up in a blanket and James and I stared at her in awe. Someone reminded me to make sure she was a girl, and sure enough, she was.

Together, we just held her and introduced ourselves as Mommy and Daddy and named her Elaina Beth. James cut the cord and we all cuddled together as a family of 3 first time.

I had a fantastic experience using the birth center and midwives. They were so supportive and encouraging to me and James and really allowed us to have the birth for Ellie that we wanted. We plan to have all our future children there too (but not for a few years!).

Hypnobabies was very helpful also in allowing us to have a natural birth. Listening to the tracks while I was still at home allowed me to relax and rest throughout the day. I think I got a little lost with it once I got to the birth center though, even though I continued listening to the tracks. My leg pain was so intense and distracting, I had trouble focusing on anything else. However, I think all my practice did help because I wouldn't categorize any of the other sensations I experienced as pain, just strong pressure, which is the idea of Hypnobabies. I would recommend it to anyone planning on a natural birth.


  1. What a great story! It's also reassuring to hear that hypnobabies helped you, as I'm studying it as well. Congrats!

  2. amazing, Leigh! i just read your story and cried. thank you for sharing it.

  3. Awww thank you for sharing your beautiful birth story! Congratulations!


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