The Night Ellanor Came

I was having a restless night and had gone out to read on the couch where I fell asleep with the light on. It was around 3:20 when I awoke  to a cramping tummy and felt very alert. I needed the bathroom but before I moved I felt an obvious popping sensation. With a start I ran to the bathroom, just in time for the gush of water which followed. Due to other stomach problems, and me trying to figure out what to do, it was another twenty minutes before I managed to get to the bedroom where I woke Nicholas with a “I think my water just broke.” 

He jumped into action getting stuff ready- pads out, old sheets on bed, front door unlocked- while I called Patrice. (I checked my paper on what to do first when your water breaks at night. ☺) Patrice told me I should  try and go back to sleep and contact her when contractions started increasing. Nicholas continued to get things ready while encouraging me to go lay down. 

My water came in gushes off and on making me feel yucky to try and lay in bed and within fifteen minutes I was having hard contractions closer together. I wanted to try and sleep more, I was really unsure just how bad contractions ought to be before calling the midwife again. Soon I was on the shower floor since water was still coming and I felt so awful I couldn’t even bear being in my nightgown or thinking of moving. The water was not running. I asked Nicholas to call Patrice even if she said to go back to sleep again. She did not say to, I was in active labor.   

Contractions came hard and fast. I clung to Nicholas, wrapping my arms around either his legs or his arm or his waist. I couldn’t decide to stand or sit or lay down, nothing seemed to lessen the pain. Nothing could truly have prepared me for the shock of how painful it all felt. Even though I knew I did not need to be scared, I was, I asked him to pray with me and felt less anxious.

Barb was first to arrive and at her suggestion and with Nicholas’ loving help I made it to the bed where I curled onto my knees. I wished her a good morning and she laughed. It was a good morning! Baby was coming! So no matter how hard or how much pain, it would indeed be a good day and this thought encouraged me. 

Without trying, I blocked the world out for a bit as contractions came and went. Nicholas remained posted by my side, letting me squeeze his arm. After a bit  I realized another person was there and upon hearing her name, wished Anna a good morning too. It was even longer before I realized Patrice had come, I honestly have no idea how much time had passed. By then I felt quite out of it and focused on blocking out pain as much as I could for a while. Patrice encouraged me to change positions, how I was crouched over was the least painful but it was also keeping things from moving forward very well. 

I managed with help to get to my left side where I clung tighter to Nicholas and struggled to find a position for my legs. Patrice asked to check how far along things were when I felt I could handle it. The strange sensation of her fingers coming back out confused me. I knew it wasn’t the baby coming out, but some part in my brain insisted something must have moved. 

The next few hours were very blurry and mixed up in my memory. Lots of squeezing Nicholas, him giving me water, being asked where it hurt, would I like to change position, contractions.  The burning sensation down low was relieved with hot compresses . 

More contractions. Anna faithfully held my leg up in whatever way granted the most relief to me. I did not want to see a clock and know how long it was taking, but sometimes I caught a glimpse of the time and was shocked how much time was going by. Barb kept moving the clock however, so I never once could expect where it would be when I opened my eyes. I dozed off a few times and was grateful for the rest. 

My throat would have been raw without water, I’ve never made so much noise in my life. I hadn’t expected to be so noisy and some part of me wondered if the whole neighborhood could hear. 

Somewhere along the way I was reminded to blow with contractions. It was the hardest thing managing to blow. It gave me relief but sometimes I was so out of breath when a contraction lasted long, that I’d start choking and sputtering and then crying out and had to work extra hard to regain the blowing. I remember them saying they could see baby’s head!  Lots of blond hair. They asked me if I wanted to feel baby’s head, I said no, I felt I couldn’t, I was afraid. There was a desperate need to know I could do it. I knew I was able, but the longer it lasted the more assurance I needed. 

Simply opening up my eyes, I’d catch Barb’s kind reassuring nod. Anna’s words of doing good. The comfort of Patrice being right there, criss-crossed on the bed through it all. And Nicholas, valiantly letting me basically snake bite his arm for all those hours. 

Funny thing that I clearly remember thinking at some point was, “Wow! Poor Patrice! Her legs must be completely asleep, she hasn’t moved. I can’t imagine anything worse or more painful than sitting in one spot for hours on end after losing feeling.” Honestly forgetting that I was in labor and how it was one of the most painful things I’d ever endured. (I really mean it though, I still can’t imagine anything I’d dislike more or that could feel worse than sleeping limbs left where they are.) 

Time seemed to drag on but was really passing fast. As Baby’s head continued emerging, I kept thinking it was over, that it was out and felt discouraged when I heard “Eartips”, realizing how far it had come or not come. That was actually really good, but to me eartips seemed much less than it should have been. They asked again if I wanted to touch the head and this time I did with Patrice guiding my hand. It was such a strange sensation! Something coming from me that I could feel with my fingers, but my brain expected to feel my fingers touching something.

 Of course that didn’t happen because it was baby, not myself but my brain wasn’t convinced of this until  later when I saw baby’s head. It was sooo small! How could that be a baby’s head??? That little bit I could see. I cried, overwhelmed by everything. More blowing. Finally however, the contractions while painful, actually felt as if they were doing something. I could feel a change in the way they worked, as if something was moving more, it was a satisfying and fulfilling. I did not dread them as much because it brought more relief to push. 

Baby’s head was born.  And with it a mischievous little hand. (I didn’t see it myself but I heard everyone talking.) Nicholas reached out and the little fingers grabbed his one finger. The wonder I saw in his eyes can’t be written in words. 

Again, I was shocked how little had come after all that work and was afraid it would take forever, but it went super fast!  Baby came within a few minutes of the crowning and was out at 10:50.

  I was shaking. And crying. They couldn’t tell at a glance what baby was but soon knew it was a girl. Our little girl had come. They plopped her gently on my belly. All 8Ibs 12oz of her stretched out in bluey purple. With her under a blanket, things slowed down for me. My mind no longer racing as I tried to process the little bundle wriggling on my chest. 

After the placenta came,  (that was a yucky experience to me, as now I was with it enough to think about it) Nicholas cut the cord. A thing that occurred was deep awareness of the hunger in my now verrrrry empty insides. Remembering nobody had eaten I was trying to tell Barb where food and stuff was and she reminded me not to host but relax and enjoy baby. 

Barb later brought in the placenta for me to look at, it was weird and cool and didn’t gross me out because it was my own baby’s placenta. Nicholas settled by me on the bed at my asking. I wanted him to just sit and be with his little one and me. ( He also made me eggs and toast at some point). All through this, little one- Ellanor- lay on me and I was baffling about her. I was so tired! But now focused on the tiny baby.  

When we found out I’d have to go to the hospital for some sutures, it was a hard decision of what to do. In the end, I asked Nicholas to stay with Ellanor. I wanted him with me of course, more than almost anything, but even more, wanted him to stay with our new little one. We did not want to bring her into the hospital where there was sickness and all. And though we have much loving family, I couldn’t bear to have both of us leave her so soon after she was born. So in the end, he stayed and Barb brought me. 

My mom was able to meet us there. Patrice had arranged things ahead for us. Riding was strange. My belly still stuck out, but not as much and was completely still, no little feet or fists pounding as they had been for weeks. I kept expecting something to move but of course, nothing from a baby. But baby was not with me so it did not quite sink in that I had left little Ellanor at home with her daddy and that when I got back, one extra person was there to stay. 

Barb made sure things moved as fast as she could when the hospital staff kept us waiting, not wanting to have me and baby apart longer than necessary.  She took good care of me, and I was comforted to know Ellanor and Nicholas were together, even though it meant he wasn’t with me. I was relieved when Barb got me back home and baby was settled into my lap. I was sore and exhausted and could see Nicholas was worn out too. His mom and sister Kathryn had come and helped out while I was gone, I was grateful for that. Once the house was empty and it was just us, the day was about done and so much had happened I couldn’t believe Ellanor was born only that morning. 

A few last things I want to share. Things I learned about birth.  One: I was scared. No matter what people said, I was afraid inside, though not very vocal about it because instantly people would assure me I would do just fine. I Knew I could do it , but felt more peaceful admit my fear to myself than to hide it. In the end that fear continued through  the labor, but because I had admitted it and knew in my heart that I could bring baby into the world, that God would bring me through it… it was okay, the fear didn’t overwhelm or steal away the truth.    

  Two: During labor I thought “How could I ever do this again?” yet soon as that little nuzzling wiggler was laid on me, and I cried and melted inside, I knew I could not not have another child. It really is worth allll those months of pregnancy and allll those hours of labor. And I’d do it again.                

Three: when it comes to homebirth, it’s okay if the extra videos and all that just aren’t for me. I’m a reader and learned more about what needed to happen or could help…etc… from reading. Watching the extra videos of other women giving birth only upset and unsettled me. I also didn’t have a super detailed birth plan.  I’m not super scheduled but do like knowing what to expect. So the thought of a perfect plan that was completely subject to change, only stressed me out.  A loose backup plan and making sure I was prepared in the ways the midwives asked, was the best. 

And four: responsibility changes instantly. It’s worth it! (As I write, little Ellie is sleeping in my lap and I adore her), But it’s hard. Right away, Nicholas and I had to make a hard decision. Before, in a heartbeat he’d have brought me to the hospital himself. But now there is a little one who needs priority, not because the love between my husband and I has lessened, but because we love one another enough to understand sacrifice. Right away being a parent meant a sacrifice from both of us. Me, saying “please stay with our baby even though I want you with me”. And Nicholas saying, “I’ll stay, even though I want to be with you.” We were both torn up inside, wanting to just all three be together. But God knew this would happen and by his grace, things moved fast and we were back as a family later that afternoon. 

Overall homebirth was the best! It was so assuring to be in my own home and not rushed by anyone or anything.