A Birth Story

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”  – John 16:21

I’ve been dreaming of the day I would get to write a birth story for as long as I can remember.  This is a love story.  The day I met my girl will forever be one of the sweetest of my life.  Birth is more special than I can wrap my mind around, even now, even after meditating on it for these past weeks.  Life is beautiful.  I feel so blessed to have been chosen to carry this little soul in my body.  It doesn’t escape me that this gift is not given to everybody.  Know this story is shared from a very special and vulnerable place, about the deepest human love I’ve known- the love for my family.

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Eleanor Mae:

I had a plan.  Go into labor the night before my due date and deliver the baby within a couple of hours, landing us the “perfect” birthday of July 19th.  Adam’s birthday and our anniversary both fall on the 19th of their respective months, hence the perfect.  My family had cleared out the weekend to be available for the big day.  Contractions started.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced.  This was going to happen!

But our girl had other plans.  She needed more time in my belly.  12 more days, actually.

I was in labor for 2 weeks.  I had 3 membrane sweeps.  Weepy and anxious, I spent those days doing all that I could to bring her into the world: red raspberry leaf tea, acupressure, essential oils, walking, pumping, nothing, everything.  Not a single thing worked.  We were running out of time to have our baby at The Birth Center, and I agonized over the thought of being induced in the hospital.  Some people fear pain.  Some people fear being outside of the hospital to give birth.  My biggest fear was a c-section, and I knew my chances of having one increased 100 times if this baby wasn’t born before the 42 week mark.

It was a Tuesday morning when things finally started progressing!  I had a regular appointment scheduled and decided to go in for it.  At 3 cm dilated (for all these weeks) and 90% effaced, they were sure that today was the day.  I couldn’t talk through my contractions, and they were coming every 5-6 minutes.  TBC sent me home with strict orders to rest and to come back as soon as I hit the 4 minute contraction pattern.   Adam went back to work for the afternoon, and my mom came to take over baby watch duty.  By late afternoon I was hitting contractions a solid 3-4 minutes apart.  We called Adam home from work, packed the last minute bags, ate a quick dinner, and met Bucky and Kayla at TBC.

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Everyone was giddy with anticipation.  Surely this would be quick since I’d been in early labor for so long.  We all settled in.  My family with their Starbucks, me with my birthing ball, the midwife and nurse with their heart monitor and blood pressure cuff.  It was finally time.  I was 5 cm, and I labored.  I bounced on my birth ball.  I spent some time in the jacuzzi tub.  I walked in the garden.  I listened as my family told stories to each other.  I snacked on strawberry popsicles.  I breathed through these painful contractions for hours.  Evening turned into night and I labored.

I labored.

I labored.

But nothing was happening.  Turns out, It wasn’t so quick.

One by one the other women who had come to The Birth Center had their babies.  Each time I heard a baby cry, I cried.  Where was my baby?  Why was this taking so long?  I stalled at 6 cm.  Exhausted, discouraged, and running on no sleep, my contractions slowed to 10 mins apart.  This wasn’t going to happen for me.  I wasn’t actually going to give birth, was I?  We should all go home, shouldn’t we?  Who labors for 2 weeks and stalls this late in the game?  If I closed my eyes and prayed my hardest prayers, we could go back to my due date and start all over, yes?  Nobody would have to be tired of waiting for the baby to come.  My brother and step dad wouldn’t be sleeping, sitting up, in The Birth Center’s living room.  My sister in law wouldn’t be in the corner, praying the baby would come out before Bucky left on the next morning’s flight for a 5 day conference.  My mom would be asleep in her sweet home instead of faithfully keeping watch and encouraging me through each contraction.  My husband would be sitting at his keyboard writing hymns instead of holding me and speaking life-giving words in this endless pattern of no progress.  I stalled all night.

We were so tired.

The midwife and nurse shift changed with the morning light.   It was time for things to progress they told me, or I would have to be transferred to the hospital for pitocin.  I remember the midwife taking my hands in hers.  She looked me straight in the eyes and told me the story of her own first baby.  Her first labor took a long time, too.  We cried together.  This lady who I didn’t know very well became like a second mother to me in those moments.  She told me it was going to be ok.  We decided together that it was time to break my water.  After that, I got an iv of fluids to get my strength and hydration back up.  Those things that I hadn’t planned on changed everything for me.

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I hit transition by late morning.  It was the worst pain of my life.  Worse than the 5 kidney stones I’ve had.  Worse in the best way.

I became something else entirely during those contractions.  I sang.  Deep, long, low sounds to get me through each minute.  I wanted a natural birth, but I changed my mind then.  If there was any way I could have gotten in a car in those final moments, I would have.  But I couldn’t move.  I could only pain and labor and sing my labor song.  I wanted to throw myself on the ground, but I couldn’t roll off the bed.  I was stuck in pain, thrashing, but paralyzed at the same time.  “Noooooooooooooooo.”   “I caaaaaaaaaaaaan’t.”  I remember yelling those words, and looked up to see a knowing smile on my mom’s face.

Kayla, sweet Kayla, watched and waited through the night for this moment.  She handed me a baby sock.  My baby was coming right now.  It would be today.  We wouldn’t have to wait any more.  It was what I needed to get me through those last moments of transition.

And then I felt it.  The urge to push.  I asked the nurse to call the midwife back in to check me.  Because there were so many women in labor on this particular day, a different midwife came to deliver our sweet baby.  She was perfect for the part.  I remember rolling onto my back as she checked me.  10 cm.  100 % effaced.  And I wept at those words.

For me, pushing was the best.  I finally had something to focus on besides pain.  There was a baby that I could actually FEEL moving down, and I was given a role beyond just getting through the pain.

I remember the midwife telling me how much hair the bedenbaby had.  A head full!  This was sweet to me.  A baby with a head full of brown hair.  I pushed for an hour and a half.  I could see Adam and my mom’s faces, and it motivated me.  I could see the midwife’s smile, and it encouraged me.  I could see Kayla’s tears, and I remembered that we were getting ready to meet our baby.  Everyone says the “ring of fire” is the worst.  I tore a little tear, and her ears got stuck for 30 minutes, but it wasn’t the worst for me.  My baby was coming out of my body.  After months of anticipation, weeks of labor, and hours of agonizing pain, this was a joy.  I was meeting my baby.

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When her ears finally came free, her body was quick to follow.  As they placed her on my belly, Adam announcing that she was a girl, all of the pain was gone.  The worst hurt had given way to the purest love, and I would have done it all again right away.  I would have labored 10 times as long, 100 times, to meet my sweet girl.  I knew her then.  I didn’t know she would have the best dimples I’d ever seen, but I knew her sweet personality, her quirky movements, her relaxed take on the world.  I got to meet the babe who had been growing inside of me for 9 months.  The babe who was long awaited.  The bedenbaby.  1:41 pm on Wednesday, July 31st.

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Joy, unhindered.

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We got to hold our girl.  Adam cut the umbilical cord after it stopped pulsing.  I nursed her right away.  Mom brought us homemade lasagna in bed.  The nurse checked on us, and then let us be.  A few hours later, we got her to see her get measured, bathed, and wrapped in her first diaper.  We watched as she passed all of her newborn reflex tests.  And then we were left to nap and enjoy our first day as a family.  We brought Nora home that night!

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Motherhood has been more than I ever imagined.  Recovery has been tougher than anyone tells you, and I’ll gladly share if you want to know.  The secret club of what goes on after birth is something I wasn’t prepared for.  But this dear soul who is asleep on my chest right now, she is worth all of it.  Birth, amazing.  Life, more beautiful than I ever knew it could be.  I could brag on her forever, but it wasn’t me who made her.  She is a gift woven in my womb by my God, and she belongs wholly to Him.  But we will do our best for her while she is under our care.  Adam and I get to raise her, the most amazing privilege.

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We love you, our first born.  We love you bigger than you will ever know.

Thank you, Kayla, for taking these beautiful pictures!

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4 thoughts on “A Birth Story

  1. Pingback: This baby day | By the River

  2. Oh my sweet Erin, what a beautiful gift you have given in writing the sorry of baby Nora Mae.
    It brought tears to my eyes as I read, as I read and felt your pain and joy, the desire of your heart unfolding after many years of waiting for your husband and His timing to be the mother and have a sweet baby of your own who would call you momma. Such a beautiful story of Love and Joy, thank you for sharing your special intimate birth story with your family and friends. What a gift you have in communicating….. My sweet Erin Ward, I love you and Adam, and Nora Mae, and I can’t wait to meet her I person and hold your gift of love. Xxoo

    Like

  3. I’ve been meaning to comment on this since you wrote it, but I needed to read 3,000 times first. Erin, I’m so proud of you. What a wonderful birth story. It’s eerie how similar ours are: c-section fears, thinking it would go quickly, strawberry popsicles, water breaking changing everything, thrashing and paralyzing all at once, ring of fire ain’t nothing, big babies, rough recovery…it goes on and on!

    I can’t tell you how happy I am for you and Adam. We can’t wait to meet Nora & have Walt meet his new cousin!

    Like

  4. Pingback: A Fresh Year | by the river

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