Alice Wilder | A Birth Story

Note: Reliving this birth story has been a journey for me. In my weakest moments, I was the strongest I have ever been. Thank you to my husband, my mom and sisters, my midwife Katie, and dear friends for helping me heal physically and for working through emotions with me. God is teaching me so much every day about how our bodies are made, how sweet community is, and the importance of passing along this knowledge and these stories.

“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.” – Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth

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Alice Wilder was born on October 19th at 4:34 PM, induced via castor oil. Her birth story is an emotional one for me, and it took several weeks for me to face it head on with my eyes opened. The weeks leading up to her due date came and went without a Braxton Hicks to be found. One of my sweet mama friends encouraged me and checked on me every few days. “You just have late babies!” she said.

13 day late babies to be exact.

The castor oil was my last resort before a hospital induction. Our birth center isn’t legally able to deliver babies after the 42 week mark, so we tried everything we could think of to get things going. The days leading up to her birth were full of non stress tests, her heartbeat always dancing too fast, the nurses waiting waiting for a normal baseline, me quietly singing and praying her to sleep in my womb. I remember the whir of the paper printing out her movements as I mindlessly touched my belly button. Our connection was strong even then, like she knew I needed those hours to just sit and rest. I did need it.

Sunday morning arrived with no signs of labor. I eyed the 4 oz of castor oil the midwives sent home with me a few days earlier, dreading the unknown results of consuming so much at once. Adam took Eleanor to church leaving me with a morning to pack up the last of the birthing bags and try for one last nap before getting things started.

12:30 pm on October 12th: 4 oz of castor oil blended into chocolate ice-cream. Consume all at once.

(Note: I do not foresee the consumption of chocolate ice-cream any time in my near future.) (I also, to this day, can’t drink out of the glass I used.)

Thankfully I did not experience any nausea or vomiting, but the oil left me physically tired and (literally) pooped. 6 PM and contractions finally arrived. I felt totally relieved that the castor oil worked, bringing the swells quietly at first, then picking up as the evening wore on. I decided to eat a few bites of sausage and red beans and lay down for the evening. My parents came over to stay with Eleanor, Adam tried to sleep. By 10 PM my contractions were steady and hard, 5 minutes apart, and I was sure that if I didn’t head out soon, I would be giving birth at home.

We arrived at The Birth Center at midnight. I had several contractions on the way there. I had a contraction in the hallway upon arrival, right outside of the blue room. The contractions were painful and long. The midwife checked me.

4 cm.

FOUR.

It felt like a huge let down. A flood of memories from Eleanor’s birth hit me really hard then. I was a repeat offender. The people I had called in the middle of the night to join me in this delivery would have to wait a while, again. Again, I labored through a midwife shift change, feeling defeated, and wondering how long it would take this time. Psychological wellness is so important during labor, and I wish I had vocalized my (perceived) fears of letting everyone down. It was the very beginning of self doubt in a labor that needed a lot of self encouragement.

The night brought little rest for my family, a blissful bath, lemon drop after lemon drop, lime popsicles, a birthing stool, The Milk Carton Kids, Page CXVI, back labor. It felt good to stand and lean into each contraction, each time bracing myself against the pain.

Eleanor woke up around 6:30 am, and my brother and stepdad brought her over to visit. Her presence was sweet, a balm, her excitement a comfort. I remember thinking she might be upset at hearing me roar through contractions, but she was so calm. My mom told her to get ready for “mama’s song” as each contraction hit, and she watched with simple childlike curiosity.

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By midmorning, my exhaustion had reached a limit, and I lost my ability to make it through contractions with emotional control. They say a labor that doesn’t start naturally may not progress naturally, and I was really feeling that. Starting labor with the castor oil left me physically tired from the beginning, like trying to climb a mountain right after running a marathon. I started crying from exhaustion, and I couldn’t stop.

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My midwife suggested an iv of fluid, some medicine to help my body relax, and breaking my water, all of which I accepted. I cried hard for another 30 minutes and then napped, waking with each contraction, too tired to move.

11:30 AM on October 19th: Post nap. 9 cm, 90% effaced.

I was almost there.

My sweet midwife suggested another bath then. Baths during labor are one of the best forms of relief. Floating on my side helped my body let go of extra tension that I was holding between contractions, but they were coming too hard then. We tried essential oils. More popsicles. A dark room. Feeling more pain than I have ever felt before. Climbing deeper and deeper into myself.

By this point I knew my contractions were transitional. Transition is when everyone wants to quit. To describe it is impossible, and it was then that my emotional vulnerability was at it’s peak and physical ability to cope was totally lost. I couldn’t have the jets on during contractions because all of the sensations at once were too much for my body. My arms lifted my body almost out of the tub with each wave that hit, each muscle working so hard. I visualized her moving down and could feel her body trying to work it’s way out, but each time felt like a fruitless eternity.

I went to dark places then. I was confused why my body wasn’t pushing her out when I knew it should be. I was confused about why this labor was harder than the first time. I was deliriously tired, deciding that this baby would be my last one, and defeated in all ways. I told Adam that I needed to go to the hospital to get this baby out immediately. I have a huge respect and trust in the way God made our bodies to work, I want a lot of children, and I believe with my whole heart that natural birth is the best choice for me. So, for me, those feelings were the lowest of the low.

Getting out of the bathtub, ready to transfer to the hospital, my midwives checked me one more time. What we didn’t know was that I had a cervical lip, a piece of cervix that the baby’s head was getting stuck on. So, even though her body wanted to come down, it couldn’t.

Laying on my back, totally naked, with transitional back labor and a cervical lip, my midwives tell me the plan. During my next contraction, one of them will stick her fingers in my vagina to move the cervix out of the way while. i. push. on. my. back. This is where panic and mind numbing pain come together. YOU ARE GOING TO DO WHAT, AND I’M SUPPOSED TO DO WHAT?

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For a long time, those were the hardest memories for me to work through. I couldn’t have done it without everyone in the room there for me. Adam and my mom holding my hair out of the way. My midwives knowing what needed to be done to get our baby out. The nurses prepared for anything that might happen. Kayla taking pictures that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The support of these people during these moments and in the weeks after are everything. That and a healthy baby girl.

We succeeded in getting baby Alice past my cervix, I flipped over (with a lot of help) to my hands and knees, and I screamed. High pitch, lose my voice, no control screams. Big pushes, short and controlled pushes, and she was out in less than 20 minutes.

Holding Alice for the first time on my knees was everything. She arrived, wide eyed at all the commotion, beautiful and healthy.  Transferring her to my belly, waiting for the cord to empty the rest of her blood into her little body, and feeling the euphoric high that came right after the lowest moments of my life is a healing gift. Knowing that I am strong is a healing gift. I did it. I can do it again. I hope to. Alice, born at 4:34 pm, 14 hours at the birth center, 4 hours into transitional labor.

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Eleanor meeting Alice is something I relive over and over. She couldn’t stop pointing out Alice’s eyes and hands. Saying she loved her. Calling her “baby sister”. Laughing.

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After everyone went home, we napped peacefully. Adam, Alice, and I shared our first evening getting to know each other over pumpkin chili in that blue room. She nursed the whole time, breaking only for her weight check and diaper changes. We went home that night.

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Alice, you have been a joy. Your sweet laughter and big eyes give me courage to share what I would have kept tucked away. Sharing your birth story, my little love, is a gift that I hope gives other mamas courage in their hard laboring moments.

We can do it. We did do it.

 

 

O N E

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Eleanor Mae.  

My baby turned  t o d d l e r .

You are so bright and busy in all of the fun ways.  We love to watch you play play play ( PLAY ) all day long.  You are a squealer, a giggle bug, big on hugs, high on life, wild and free.  

This year has been so much fun, little E.  Here is your first year of life, list style.

t r a v e l s :

Columbia, SC x 3

Chicago, IL

Charleston, SC

Hot Springs, AR

Temple, TX

Austin, TX

Ocean City, NJ

Wildwood, NJ

Stuart’s Draft, VA

c o n c e r t s :

Laura Marling

San Fermin

St. Vincent

n u m b e r s :

12 gained pounds

2 calls to poison control

1 very high fever

7 out of town visitors

5 teeth

10,000 photos or so

f a v o r i t e  t h i n g s :

fruit, cheese + butter

little bunny

bike rides with daddy

water + baths

blowing kisses

dancing to music

l e a s t  f a v o r i t e  t h i n g s :

bows

socks + blankets

baby foods

teeth brushing

w o r d s :

HI

mama

dada

that

help

hot hot

night night

s o n g s :

Carolina, Ellen O’Meara

Another Way Home, Valley Maker

King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O, Laura Veirs

Flowers in Your Hair, The Lumineers

<3

We love you more than we ever thought possible.  Happy Birthday, little darling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on my body one year postpartum

One year ago, I was 2 days past my due date waiting for the little bedenbaby to leave my belly.  It was one of the most agonizing waits.  A woman waiting for a baby to be born is not a particularly patient one.  It was a long 12 days for my family.

I read so much on what birth would be like during those waiting days.  Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was a good companion, and I took a lot of warm lavender baths to soothe my heart and body.  I remember last July like it was yesterday.  Memories flood me now of the soft music that played on the way to the birth center, the long 20 hours of laboring with the midwives after 3 days at home, her birth, the days that followed.

One year later, and I remember everything.

Birth changed me in different ways than pregnancy.  Motherhood has changed me further. Being a mama to a toddler is different that being a mama to a newborn, and everything is always moving.  Everything’s always growing.  My life and my heart and my body and my family are forever altered.

After E was born, I remember standing in the shower looking down at my now empty belly.  Where a baby had grown from a tiny egg into an 8 lb girl.  Where the placenta delivered oxygen and nourishment so that she could live in there for 42 weeks.  Where my organs rearranged themselves to make room for her body to grow, and now suddenly had all this space to float around in.  Where my skin stretched and my joints softened so that a soul could have a body and a life.

What a miracle it is.

That day I cried that things were different in all of the good and hard ways.  I said goodbye to a girl who wanted to be a mommy, and I traded it for a woman who is one.  I am still learning to be comfortable in my new skin.  I am learning to say thank you to my body for working so hard and so well.  I am learning to eat for nourishment that feeds my cells and makes milk that feeds my babe.  I am learning that E will notice how I talk to myself, and I’m thinking about what I want her to hear.

I want her to know that I am so happy that God put her in our family.  I want her to know that I am so proud of myself for carrying and giving birth to her, that it is what I am most proud of, my best accomplishment, the hardest and most rewarding physical and mental marathon.

I want her to know that I like my body.  It has been kind to me, and it’s so strong.  It is well made by a genius Creator.   I want her to know that it changed with her birth for the better.  Like a canvas painted.  Like a song with harmonies.

A womb that held a baby.

I want her to know that she was worth it.

 

If you don’t already know, I just jumped into the photography world.  It has been a lot of work, but it’s so much fun.  You can find me at www.erinbedenbaugh.com.

a picnic on quince street

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There is a familiarity about this street and these people that doesn’t come from the years I’ve known them (indeed, it has only been months).  Nor the location of the city (it has been my home for only just a few seasons).  Not the cobblestone streets (I was raised on grassy lawns) or the sweet shade trees (though that feels true to me).

No, this alive understanding comes from somewhere else, and I think it’s not a place my feet have known before.

 

 

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The promise of something has been discovered right here.  That, however briefly, the history and the future of my heart match up, and I don’t have to explain anything or try to imagine the possibilities.  I just breathe it in, feel it, let it soak into the dry earth parts of myself.

 

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It’s the dream parts, realized.

Sweaty babes, learning to walk on the uneven stones.  Sitting in the dirt, tasting flowers and strawberries, not staying still, together side by side on the old blanket.

Dinner with friends gathered outside under the twinkle lights.  Puppies that pass by, neighbors who celebrate another year of gray hair, freshly sautéed brussel sprouts, chicken off the grill, poundcake, coffee cake, watermelon cake, and wine that flows.

The sun setting, laughter into the night, baby asleep in mama’s arms, dear husband who sweetly brushes his fingers through my ponytail.  Talk of friendship and the history of one’s families, dreams of farms and homemade butter, summer vacationing in the mountains, parenthood, and sunday morning nursery duty.

The feeling of the things I once hoped for playing out in real life here.

I know that these people, forever long or however briefly, have showed me the healing of my today.  They’ve sparked a little fire in my hopes, and I see a glimpse of what the future could be.  It is vibrant and full.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

 

 

 

 

Portrait Project 20, 21, 22/52

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Eleanor Mae

May 20

That bow is in her hair, but it won’t stay there.  As soon as she finds it, a toy it becomes.  Those curls are getting longer and lighter. She smells like a mix of Burt’s Bees baby lotion, summer, and strawberry puffs.  All of these things I hold dear.  I want to bottle it up.

 

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Eleanor Mae

May 27

She took her first 3 steps on Mother’s Day and hasn’t looked back!  She’s walking now.  So sure of herself.  So proud.  So brave. The world grew a little bigger, and it’s so fun for us both.  Those little feet just a roaming.

(also, can we talk about those polar bear pajamas? it’s still in the 50’s some nights.)

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Eleanor Mae

June 2

She thinks everything is funny, and it is the sweetest sound to hear her laugh.  She is so ticklish, loves to play peak a boo, and bananas are her favorite food this week.  She also is in full mama mode.  Laugh hard, play hard, snuggle hard, she does everything out loud.

 

Portrait Project 17, 18, 19/52

I’m back, and I’m playing catch up!

We had the best time in Texas but are happy to be back home.  We hit the ground running with friends, photo editing, and Mother’s Day celebrations as soon as we got in from the airport.  Here are the past 3 weeks worth of portraits!

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Eleanor Mae

She is becoming quite the snuggle bug.  Sometimes she wakes up and hits the ground running, but more often these days she lingers.  She sits on my lap a little bit longer, soaks in the morning sunshine in our bed on saturdays, and rests her head on my shoulder when I hold her.  I love her hugs so much.

 

 

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Eleanor Mae

Her daddy has been teaching her how to press down on piano keys.  We let her play whenever she remembers that it’s there, and she has so much fun!  Maybe it will grow into a love of hers one day.

 

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Eleanor Mae

She likes to go without clothes if she can help it.  Socks are always coming off, and onesies are the only thing she can’t figure out how to get out of yet.  Barefoot and free, my baby.

 

Traveling South again

Just travel.

That’s what I told myself and God that I wanted to do more of in my life.  Little trips, big ones, walks around the city.  We have been to Chicago and South Carolina so far this year, and E and I are leaving on another jetplane this Friday!  We fly to Dallas, road trip Hot Spring, AR, the very next day, and spend the latter part of next week in Austin!

I am looking forward to a vacation in the sunshine with all of my heart.  I’m so thankful that I get to go.

Follow me on instagram if you want to!  I won’t be back on the blog for a few weeks.  It’s going to be a sweet time.

One things for sure though,

I’m going to miss my Adam boy.

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