eliza's birth story

I don't know if I've looked forward to writing blog posts like I have with this one. Most of this blog is a bunch of random happenings in our life, and while some things hold a tone of seriousness, this post tells a story that didn't just take place on June 13, the day she was born, but is about a journey through learning, healing, and trusting the Lord's sovereign provision for our lives, and for Eliza Page. That being said, in talking about birth, vocabulary is used that might make some people uncomfortable, so there is your warning. And it's long, second warning.

*If you only want to read about her birth day, scroll down.*

It starts with our first daughter, our precious Avery. Her birth story here. She was born through a Cesarean birth after a long labor that was highly medically induced. I had preclampsia which required more medicine to be pumped through my body. It was a traumatic experience for everyone involved, but did bring into this world one of the most beautiful creatures I will ever know. Nothing about her birth was a mistake, it was part of the Lord's plan for her life. It was, however, incredibly hard for me to recover from, emotionally and physically.

About 6 months before becoming pregnant with Eliza, I met a wonderful friend, Dawn. We met at a bowling alley during a party and she was drawn to me because I was holding Avery. Dawn, a mother of two couldn't resist Avery's charm and came to me. She was so genuine and easy to talk to, somehow I told her about how Avery was born. She tells me that her son was born Cesarean birth and that it was a rough experience but her daughter was a VBAC. And that she and her husband took Bradley classes. Her husband chimed in at this point and said that is was one of the best things they ever did.

What's a VBAC? It means "vaginal birth after cesarean." I thought it was V-back when she said it, implying that you're "bringing your vagina back" similar to Justin Timberlake's "Bringing Sexy Back." I'm a fool, I know. But through some research, I found out that pursuing a VBAC is really good for your body if you're hoping to have more that two children, so I put that in my mind for the next baby.

October we found out we were pregnant again. I met with my doctor and asked about this VBAC thing and he said that is was an option for me. He did say that he would not induce me because medical inductions can cause too much pressure of the incision from Avery's birth and it was too risky for a utirine rupture. For some reason, the thought of that happening didn't frighten me in the least.

Now about preparing for birth. We looked into Bradley classes that Dawn recommended and could not find any certified instructors in New Orleans. The Bradley Method is an all natural approach to child birth where the husband is the labor coach. It's also called husband coached labor. During Avery's birth, Ken was there for every second and his voice and presence was the only thing that brought me comfort. I also listen to Ken really well, and I know that sounds silly but serisouly, I trust him and believe him whole heartedly. So if someone were to coach me, it would have to be someone I trust deeply and that's Ken. So Bradley looked great for us. It is a 12 week course and not finding anyone in New Orleans teaching classes, I was really bummed. Then, a couple months before Eliza's due date, I come to find that two instructors started teaching in New Orleans but their classes started a few weeks before Eliza's due date. I was extremely bummed. I contacted both teachers and ended up meeting Amy. I emailed her our situation and she agreed to meet with us and do a somewhat condensed version. Seeing how I did labor with Avery, and had been pregnant before, some of the classes provided information that I was already aware of.

This woman, Amy was a pure God send. She, being a mother of 4, came to our house to teach us. She was more like a counselor in the beginning as she further helped me process the scars I have from Avery's birth experience. I cried, and she knew that having an all natural birth was something that we were very passionate about. She encouraged us to no end. Everything was positive and empowering from the beginning. I changed my diet (Brewer's diet) and changed the way I did a handful of things to prepare my body for birth.  EVERYTHING about this class was incredible. I think every pregnant couple should take it. And even if Eliza's birth didn't turn out the way that it did, I would still recommend this. I learned so much about the dangers of medical inductions and about how our bodies can give birth when we know our bodies capabilities. I can't say enough, it was incredible.


Her due date was June 8, and when that date passed I was worried that she would go longer than the date that my doctor felt comfortable with (41 weeks) and that some type of induction would take place. I prayed earnestly for that not to happen, that my body would go into labor on it's own and that we could labor at home for most of the time. I kept thinking that I wasn't going into labor because there were still things I needed to do before she came. Silly really, but after I read Ina May's "Guide to Childbirth", I'm convinced more that ever that our minds are more powerful than the physical. (Plug for that book by they way, excellent book and very informative.)

After all the bags were packed and Avery's arrangements were figured out and the house was dang clean, I spent most of Wednesday (June 13) waiting. Avery and I went to the park, I got my favorite coffee drink, and I painted my nails. A friend came over later with lunch and she brought her son, a sweet two month old who I held and got so excited to soon be holding someone so small and precious. While we were hanging out, around 3:00pm, my tummy started to contract about 7 minutes apart. I just kept on hanging out, not paying too much attention to it. When my friend left, I told Ken... I might be having contractions, but I don't know. He gets out his phone and turns on his app that tracks contractions. We go about the early evening with me saying every 5 minutes or so, "start" and then "stop." We grilled hamburgers, gave Avery a long bath, and got her ready for bed. During her bath, I decided to sit on the toilet because the contractions were getting closer. It's around 6:45 at this point. Then my water broke, but I thought I just wasn't good at peeing because it wasn't a gush, more of a trickle down my leg. "Ken, I think something with my water just happened, but I don't know." I put Avery to bed and we read a lot of books while I sit on a towel and my water continues to flow. We sing and Avery snuggles real good possibly knowing what was about to happen in her world. We sang, "How Great Thou Art" and an overwhelming calm came over me and I knew, this baby was about to be born. The contractions were about 3 minutes apart and as I said good night to my precious girl, I felt confident that it was go time.

Around 9:00pm I called my birth coach. I told her that my water might have broke and that my contractions were pretty close, but not as intense as I thought they would be. She was surprised that I was having a conversation with her and thought for sure that I wasn't dialated enough to leave for the hospital, but she did confirm that my water did break. "Watch a movie you really like." And get this, "So I Married an Axe Murderer" was already in the DVD player, so we watched it for about 20 minutes and the contractions got a lot closer. We decided to go.

Our dear neighbors came over to watch Avery and be with her in the morning and we were on our way. Driving there was fine, until a train decided to come. Hilarious actually that in all the trips we've made to the hospital, we encountered a train one other time. During the train, Ken called to let them know we were on our way. We got out of the car at 10:00pm and started walking to the 8th floor.

We checked in and the nurse there was so nice and calm. No other moms were checking in at that time so again, very calm. I had to provide a urine sample and when doing so, I saw that my mucous plug had passed. That triggered something in my brain that we were really doing this. I go back to Ken and immediately take off my clothes, put on the gown, and lay on my side on the bed. The resident doctor came to us, introduced herself and Ken gave her our birth plan. She read it and loved it, which was so nice to hear. Attempting a VBAC meant some of the points in our birth plan were up to the doctor on call to agree with, so she checked with him and he did. YES! Praise the Lord. I was worried they would read it and not follow it. We had multiple copies, we were prepared. Then she checked me and boom: 7cm and 90% effaced. I was like, WHAT??!?!? I thought for sure I was like 3 cm or something. The pain had not been that bad up to that point, much less to get me to 7 cm. I looked and Ken and he said, "We're almost there!" We knew we were in second stage labor and we knew exactly what to do.

Back to this mind-body connection I read about in Ina May's book, at this point, Ken got a text that our friends from church just gave birth to their son and I was so thrilled at the news, I honestly think I fully dilated at the news because I felt enormous pressure down low at this point. "Can we move into the room now?" (I was still in triage at this point.)

Rolling down the hallway I was moaning pretty bad and expressing my urge to push. We got to the room, I moved to the delivery bed on my right side and Ken was putting pressure on my back and head to help me relax. The head nurse, Julie was AMAZING. She held the fetal monitor on my tummy instead of having the bands strapped around me (part of our plan) and the resident doctor stood back and let Ken and I do what we had practiced. I was loud too, by the way. The last few contractions were wild and I tried to breathe through them with Ken's coaching. Then it got real, the pressure was intense. I felt like I needed to go #2 the whole time.  I looked at Ken, "I need to push." I turned to sit up and I held my legs at the knees and pushed. In between each contraction, I told the nurses how much I loved them. Like, "You're so amazing, I love you. You have no idea how much I love you." I did not like the nurses for Avery's birth so I was exceedingly grateful to the team we had.

I glanced at the clock and it said 11:17pm. I pushed and pushed. I felt the ring of fire but I still didn't think I was fully dilated, it didn't feel like 10 cm (not that I have any idea what that would feel like...) The nurse then said she could see her head and that she didn't have any hair. Ken saw her too. Then I think I pushed like 3 more times after that and on the last push, I pushed through the contractions, and then gave an extra jolt with every bit of strength I had and there she was! The sensation was mind blowing. Her eyes were wide open and cried after a second. Her color was beautiful and the doctor simply placed her on my chest. The cord was still connected and we let it stay connected until it stopped pulsating. We were skin to skin and she nursed a bit. It was unreal. I kept looking at Ken is awe at what had just happened. The doctor wasn't even there to catch her. The resident put her on my chest, but really didn't do anything else. She let us do what we wanted.

Eliza Page was born at 11:39pm.
The VBAC was successful.
We were at the hospital for an hour and a half before she came.
Her birth was completely natural.

It was amazing, a moment I will cherish forever. An experience that has changed my life. A new understanding of myself and my body. A greater appreciation for our Creator who made this all possible.

Our stay at the hospital from check in to discharge was only 36 hours. We were so excited to come home and start life with our two girls. And life has been great. I'm working on some healing because a labor that fast often has some repercussions that I will gladly leave the details out of this story. I didn't really care about that part because our healthy girl was here and she came naturally.

We are over the moon. Eliza has been a delight and Avery can't stop hugging and kissing her sissy. God is good, God is real, and his love is great. If you've read this whole thing, thanks for giving me the time to listen to this story. This is something that is incredibly personal to me and to think that it all worked out amazes me.


natasha {schue love} said...

Wow...what an incredible birth story Mel!! I love reading these and yours was just so so beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing!!

PS...we watched "The Business of Giving Birth" which I loved...I'm sure you would too after going through your experience.

Love to you and your sweet family! XO

lauren elizabeth said...

such an incredible story! thanks so much for sharing, you are an inspiration and i will definitely be coming to you for all you natural birth tips when the time comes for us!

Ande said...

MEL! ah! I'm crying! So amazing! God is so good. I can't wait to meet this wonderful lady of yours. What a good big sissy Avery will be to Eliza. What an awesome man of God Ken is, and what a strong, loving, and steadfast woman you are. I hope to be a mother like you one day.
Love you so much.

Shannon said...

Wow Mel! So beautiful and encouraging! Having had a similar first birth experience as yours, and being discontent with that, this hits me very personally. I cried the whole time! Thanks for sharing!

Courtney said...

Hey Melanie - I found your blog through the New Orleans Moms Blog and I just read Eliza's birth story (hope you'll excuse that I went immediately searching for it!) I just had to reach out bc we each have these beautiful June baby girls and we'll need to make sure they get together at the point they can do more than lay next to each other! I'm so happy for your amazing birth experience. I did Bradley courses before Jack was born and also had a fast second labor. (Here's Cora's birth story: http://jacoblandry.blogspot.com/2012/06/coras-birth-story.html) Email me at some point and let's get together: courtney.landry@gmail.com

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