The story of our daughter Elouise’s birth journey is a long one! But one we are proud of because it is uniquely ours.
Since my 20 week ultrasound they had speculated on our due date. The original due date was September 14th, but she had been measuring small and they weren’t sure if it was because they had the due date wrong, or if there was something else to consider. After additional testing, they decided to give us “wiggle room” with our due date and they would just continue to monitor and let us go until October 1.
Then, on our due date of September 14th (our 40 week appointment), the midwife we saw decided that it was very important we “officially” change our due date. SO! We had our due date changed to September 22nd and then I was to have a non-stress test and a growth ultrasound to make sure baby was still doing fine.
Everything checked out just fine and I was feeling great! I was still teaching, sleeping great, and having no discomfort. I was so grateful!
On the morning of Thursday, September 22nd (our new due date) at 5:00 am I got up to use the bathroom and discovered that I had lost my mucus plug and had bloody show! I quick Googled what that meant again and was excited to learn that that meant that labor was probably imminent. I told my husband Nate what happened, and he was also excited. But, we knew it could really mean anything and we should just go about our day. At 5:30 am, contractions started and were very mild but were consistently five minutes apart. I decided I should stay home from school but Nate went to work.
Contractions stayed at five minutes and grew in intensity but were still pretty mild. Our doula, Emma, came over and was there all night. They continued to be five minutes apart through the night. I tried to rest but was unable to sit and sleep through the contractions.
Friday morning, our doula had us walking around our neighborhood and contractions continued to intensify until they were finally at three minutes apart consistently. We were excited to go into the birth center to be checked to see how we were progressing. We found out I was only at 1 cm and was given Benadryl and a prescription for Vistiril for therapeutic sleep. We were discouraged and tired! But, we went home to continue to labor there. I was able to take a 2 hour nap that afternoon with the help of Benadryl. When I woke up, contractions had slowed and were no longer consistent. Again, we were so discouraged! We went walking to see if labor would pick back up and it did! It picked back up to three minutes and were much more intense this time. We went back to the birth center around 10:30 pm to be checked again. This time I was only 3 cm! Her head was sitting right on my cervix and everything was nice and ripe…so, things would move fast once we progressed.
Nate dropped me off at home and then ran around town to try and find a 24 hour pharmacy so I could take the Vistiril (Pro tip-if your midwife gives you a prescription at 11:00 in the morning, fill it then!) I was able to sleep the whole night! But again, my contractions had slowed and were all over the place! We called our doula and she advised us to do whatever we could to take our minds off labor. We were SO discouraged but took her advice. We called our friends and they agreed to be our “take Jess’ mind off labor” friends. We met them for coffee, played games and went for more walks. Around 5:00pm, I finally felt that labor picked back up again. Our friends left and we kept walking to push labor along. We went back home and I continued to labor there.
Around 8:30 am is when we thought I transitioned. I started to become a little “unhinged” and felt panicky. I was pacing around our house and made Nate call our doula to update her – we decided that if we continued on this path, we’d meet her at the birth center.
Around 10:00 am, I hit a breaking point. My contractions were right on top of each other and I was feeling anxious. At one point, I ran to the bathroom and yelled at Nate to tell him I thought he should call the midwife line because I thought it was time to go back to the birth center. Nate called the midwife, Kaitlin, and before he could even tell them everything, she was telling him to get me in the car and head to the birth center (because she could hear me in the background)! I kept telling Nate that I was scared they would send us back home again but he assured me that this time they wouldn’t do that without a baby (ha!).
We got to the birth center, they checked to see how far along I was. Kaitlin asked us if we wanted to know the numbers and we told her we only wanted to know if it was good news! Thankfully it was good news! I was dilated to 9 ½ cm and my bag of waters were bulging! Woo hoo! I was finally able to get in that big beautiful tub! It was all I had wanted the whole time! I very eagerly waddled into the tub and began pushing almost instantly! My water broke very quickly and I pushed and pushed. I’ll never forget Kaitlin telling me to reach down and feel my daughter’s head. As soon as I felt her head it all became incredibly real. I have never been more focused in all my life! I wanted to hold my baby girl! I continued to push for a little over an hour before she was finally born into my arms under the water!
Elouise Jane was born at 12:10 in the morning after being at the birth center for about 2 hours!
All in all, we figured it to be about 35 hours of active labor with three trips to the birth center. It was so long and hard, but so very worth it!
I think that I had one of the best teams helping support me. My husband was a calm, steady partner. We kept joking that he won the “Penny Simkin (author of The Birth Partner book) Award” (we would highly recommend that all partners read this! Such a helpful resource!)! Our doula, Emma Odden, was encouraging and supportive.
I loved giving birth at the birth center. I truly don’t think I would have been successful at having a truly natural birth had we not been at the birth center. They were such a wonderful support to both Nate and I in helping give us the birth we desired. Because of our team cheering us on, we are able to look back on the birth of our daughter as a positive, and beautiful life experience.
~ Jess and Nate M.