Ella’s Birth Story
The last 3 weeks of pregnancy were hard. I felt exhausted and like all I could do was fatten up Ella. Families work best when everyone is functional and I was just having a hard time. Obviously we knew I was doing the function of growing a child, but the end of pregnancy is long and waiting is tough. Things were tense between Andrew and I as we waited for this massive change. With Jo’s birth I was so excited to give birth and meet her, but for Ella’s birth I had a hard time getting excited about the birth because I was so nervous about postpartum and knew the realities of newborn life. I was much more aware of the sacrifice motherhood calls you to this time around than I was before Jo came and I was nervous about the potential for getting another colicky baby. But knew (and was constantly reminding myself) that God had equipped me through Jo for whatever type of baby we were given.
At 37w I had my first bout of prodromal labor. Contractions lasted 4 hours so I thought it was go time! Andrew’s mom came and got Jojo (where she’d be staying for labor + our hospital stay) and then the contractions stopped, before picking up again in the night for an hour and then stopping again.
At 38w I had a small amount of protein spilling into my urine so we did blood work for other indicators of preeclampsia (I think I was just super dehydrated from being in the sun more than usual over the weekend). I thought, “okay, we may need to induce. We may be meeting her this week!” And then, fortunately of course, the blood work came back unremarkable and all was fine, so we waited.
Then I got pretty preoccupied with every sensation I felt, as I think it’s easy to do at the end of pregnancy. I feel like it was easy for me to make any symptom I felt a sign of labor because, if you search the internet, you can find something that says any symptom is a sign of labor beginning lol. I lost my mucous plug at 36w1d, but Ella didn’t arrive until 39w3d. Jo’s labor started 1w5d after the mucous plug came out and I was very aware of Jo’s end of pregnancy & birth timelines as I progressed through the end of Ella’s pregnancy.
Because of the prodromal labor, when labor did actually start I switched positions (to see if it would stop…in case it was just prodromal labor again) by getting in a hot shower for 30 minutes, which ended up complicating things a bit once we got to the hospital. Also, the day before Ella came I started having a ton of mucus pouring out of me all day long. To me it definitely looked like thin mucus, not my water breaking, but in hindsight this may have been my membranes rupturing and since I was GBS+ this also complicated things a bit…
When I was positive I was in labor to when Ella was born ended up being 5 1/2 hours. Here’s how it all went down, if you’re interested in hearing the details!
Tuesday, 12:30am: Woke up to pee. Noticed I was uncomfortable and having really sharp period-like cramps, but I had been having cramps for about 2 weeks so just tried to ignore them. Went back to bed and feel asleep easily.
2am: Woke up with contractions that seemed pretty regular. Got in the shower to change positions and see if this was prodromal labor and I could get them to stop. Feeling good and hoping this was it because I was READY TO NOT BE PREGNANT ANYMORE!
2:15am: Was still in the shower. Started timing contractions and they were coming every 2 minutes. Decided I’d stay in the shower until 2:30am and then get out and wake up Andrew.
2:50am: Andrew was up and getting things ready. He was equally excited I was in labor because we were both over pregnancy lol. Called my midwife practice to let them know I was in labor and I wanted to go ahead and come to the hospital. Contractions were at this point 1 1/2 to 2 minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds to 1 minute and they were holding there for the past hour. Jojo had spent the night with her grandparents so she was already where she needed to be, which was really wonderful it worked out that way!
3:36am: Got to hospital and the arrival went way smoother than with Jojo’s labor. With Jo’s labor when we got to the hospital no one was there. They just seemed massively unorganized. I’m glad I didn’t deliver at that hospital again. But here we were greeted warmly.
3:45am: Threw up/peed/maybe my water partially ruptured here (?) walking to the hospital room. It was a mess. The nurse was super encouraging and patient. After this they did separate Andrew and I and actually did ask the domestic abuse question, which didn’t happen with Jo’s birth and really annoyed me because if you’re not gonna ask that question there is no use of separating me from my support system. I got checked and was 6-7cm dilated. Woohoo!
4am: This is were things got a bit stressful. They took my temperature and I had, I’m not going to call it a fever because it wasn’t, a temperature of 99.8ºF, I told them about being in the really hot shower at home (and Andrew backed me up that my showers are insanely hot), but that temperature still concerned them since a fever could be a sign of infection.
Then they checked to see if there was amniotic fluid and there was. We didn’t know when my membranes had ruptured and that was concerning since I was GBS+. They got the IV in and started penicillin.
My heart rate was very high (which I would think was a normal thing for a person in labor, but they were concerned). And Ella was having “flat tracing”, I think is what they called it, which meant her heart rate was not getting excited during contractions and that worried them.
The midwife said Ella was still high (and I think she was concerned about my temperature, not knowing when my membranes ruptured + being GBS+, Ella’s heart rate being high), so they had an OB come evaluate me for likelihood of having a vaginal birth vs. just moving straight to a c-section. I was doing the hard work of labor, but I still was very present and this seemed a bit of a rash decision to me and really stressed me out. If we have any more kiddos I’d switch back to an OB practice so I could relax knowing my baby is safe and let labor progress forward knowing there’d be an OB right there to make the call if necessary. I started feeling like I didn’t trust the midwife I was with and that sucked. The midwife practice I delivered with is a practice that has 5 midwives + 3 OBs and you end up delivering with the on-call midwife. The midwife on-call wasn’t one who put me at ease and me being a more stressed out person I preferred a few of the more relaxed midwives. So it goes.
4:10am: They moved me to a higher risk floor. All the nurses/staff were SO AWESOME! Even while laboring in a wheelchair (a very uncomfortable thing) everyone we passed was saying, “congratulations!!” I loved it! Super encouraging and just celebratory.
4:15am: Got to the new room and at this point I was scared that the baby needed to come out now because of the aforementioned concerns – being GBS+ and not knowing when my water had broke, risk of baby having an infection, why wasn’t her heart rate changing. I was having a hard time calming down and I told them I’d like an epidural for a couple reasons, one being that I thought if I needed to have an emergency c-section then I’d already have the epidural and they could focus on getting the baby out quicker and another reason was I couldn’t relax into labor because I was scared something was wrong with Ella and I was nervous about starting over caring for a newborn and it all just seemed like too much. They put in the order for the epidural.
4:30am: OB came in and he was awesome and calming and said this is your second kid, this baby is gonna fly right out of you in no time and there is no reason at this point for us to do a c-section. Continued to labor. This labor was different than with Jo’s because with Jo’s I really felt like I was in another world. I could feel the contractions for sure, but everything felt foggy and distant and there was no stop and start between the contractions, maybe due to back labor (?). With Ella’s birth there were definite stop and starts between contractions and there was no foggy/distant feeling and I wanted relief from the contractions.
5:15am: Asked if I could lay on my side. First contraction on my side, BOOM! Water broke on its own! Was such a cool sensation and I’m glad I got to experience that since with Jo’s birth I asked the resident to break my water.
5:16am: Threw up again.
5:45am: Doctor came in to do the epidural.
6am-7:20am: Epidural took about 15 minutes to kick in and I thought it felt awesome. It felt just like the heaviness a couple glasses of wine gives your limbs. So relaxing. But it was just like my legs had the glass of wine and not the rest of my body lol. I could still feel my feet and move my legs a bit all the way through birth.
Got dilation checked and was told I was still 6cm, which surprised me because I thought we’d be dilated a bit more. They put in a foley ballon and my urinary catheter.
Since I was really concerned about the newborn days and how postpartum would go, I ended up really liking having the next hour to regroup with Andrew and realize how excited I was to nurse Ella so soon and that we’ll figure out round 2 of the newborn phase and remembering we know more now and maybe it won’t be so terrifying. Glad we had the space for that.
My sisters arrived full of energy and excitement.
7:22-7:28: I felt the urge to push, so I let my nurse know. They checked dilation and I was complete. When the nurse checked my cervix she asked if I’d had surgery because she felt a lot of scar tissue, I hadn’t had surgery but maybe that explains why I bled for months after Jo’s birth (?). Then it took 3 contractions to push her out. Just 3-4 pushes! I couldn’t believe it was so easy. I pushed for over 90 minutes with Jo (maybe typical of first vs second children?). After 90 minutes of pushing with Jo I was exhausted beyond belief and it was nice to not be exhausted when I met Ella.
I wanted to pull Ella out myself. After one push they told me to reach down and feel her head, which was crowning, so I did but I really hate that feeling. It’s just too surreal and in my mind she needs to get out into the air with oxygen where she can breath even though I know the umbilical cord is attached and giving her oxygen. After the 2nd push I heard the L&D nurse (ever so calmly) call for someone else to be in the room and I knew something wasn’t ideal (since she was asking someone I never met to come into the room all of the sudden) so I pulled my hands back and didn’t try to pull her out even though all was still calm in the room. Turns out the cord was wrapped around her neck once and her body once. They unlooped the cord off her neck when just her head/neck were out, then one more push from me and she was out and put immediately on my chest. Ella screamed a single scream and then was quiet for a bit (like 2 seconds, which seemed like 2 hours) and then they suctioned her mouth and she started screaming more and more.
7:30am-10am: Cuddle, nurse, say “hi, Ella” a million times. Having the child you made with your husband come out of your body, be placed on your chest, and nursed will never get old. I have no idea if we’ll have more kids, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop wanting more and more of that experience. Right after she came out I immediately looked at Andrew and said, “we have to do this again!!” haha.
10am: And then I passed out. Like totally lost consciousness for a bit. That was a bummer. We ordered breakfast around 8am. It took 2 hours for them to bring it and I passed out waiting for it to come when I got up to head to the bathroom. The nurse was walking with me and caught me and when I woke up I was greeted by a bajillion people in the room. Along with low blood sugar, I’d imagine the epidural was also affecting my blood pressure? They felt something could be wrong with my heart and I was like, “I eat extremely consistently and I don’t skip meals ever. I think my blood sugar is just too low.” But they still had me do an EKG, which came back fine. In hindsight I should’ve sent someone to procure me some food immediately after the birth (like I did with Jo’s birth), but there was just so much going on and I thought the food was on it’s way and could just wait. The hospital food arrived and I ate that meal. I had sent Andrew to get me Chipotle, so then I ate that meal. After two back-to-back meals I was feeling back to normal within 30 minutes.
If we have any more kids I will be getting to the hospital as fast as possible, because I assume I will be GBS+ again and if you don’t get the penicillin protocol started for at least 4 hours before birth then you and baby have to stay at the hospital for 48 hours to be monitored for infection, as opposed to 24 hours, and I hate having to stay in the hospital 2 nights. I wanna get out of there as quick as possible. I don’t find it a relaxing stay, but don’t think my comfort can come before the safety of my child (even though I really tried to convince the pediatrician to let us go and cried and everything), so we ended up staying another night and it was fine.
Around 8 months pregnant I started feeling like it’d be nice to have a different birthing experience so I could speak into that, but didn’t really know what that meant. I liked getting to experience something different and wouldn’t rank one birth experience over the other. Both were incredible.