Now that we're almost two weeks out from Ellie's birth, I can finally stop thinking about the pain long enough to write her birth story!
(Make sure to scroll to the end for the video!)
I went into labor at 6am on December 23rd. We drove to our birthing center at 8am... after stopping at Jamba Juice, of course. (I wasn't in enough pain yet to miss out on Jamba Juice.)
Somewhere between walking the quad near our birthing center, laboring in antique stores near us, and laughing in the interims of the pain, things began to amp up.
Pain began to shoot down my legs and my back cried out for help. My mom, aunt, midwives, and Josh soothed the tremendous pain with massages and encouragement.
While in the birthing pool and crying for an epidural, someone turned on praise and worship music and my midwife, Natalie, began to sing. Hearing her sing and pray over me changed my outlook on the pain. Instead of crying out for an epidural I cried and sang out to the Lord to help me through it. Somehow after every contraction I would fall asleep. Like deep sleep. He gave me rest. I am still convinced I was in that pool for 20 minutes. But, I was told later it was 2.5 hours.
In the water of the birthing pool, your body is distracted (somewhat) from the severity of the pain by the water and its ability to make you feel weightless. After getting out of the pool, I was hit hard by gravity. I thought I was at my pain capacity in the pool. It turned out, the pool was only the beginning.
Stepping out of the birth pool was comparable to jumping into ice bath... on a winter's day. The shock of the pain caused my entire body to shake in total shock of how much it hurt. My midwives told me that it was time for a "check." I was convinced after checking me they would let me know it was time to push!
That was not the case. After 14 hours of labor, I was only 7cm dilated (6cm during a contraction) and Ellie was nowhere near ready to come down the birthing canal. It could be another 14 hours before she made her appearance and I had not mentally prepared for that sort of time and pain commitment.
Josh was holding my hand and I remember looking up at him and crying "please help me." After trying a few natural remedies for pain, we decided to head to the hospital for the epidural.
I felt defeated. I wanted to say that I had done it "all nat-u-ral." I didn't want to subject Ellie or myself to the risks of medication, induction, eposiotimies, c-sections or anything else those birth documentaries warned me of about hospitals.
But I'd experienced 14 hours of incredible pain and that was enough to quench my pride enough for me to crawl in the backseat of Josh's truck and make my way to the medication.
On arrival to the hospital I had to endure blood tests and wait for the anesthesiologist. I was ready to throw a lamp but our nurse Juliana was a gift from God. Her genuine personality and tender care was enough to make me reconsider breaking hospital property.
After the epidural at 10pm. I labored through the night. At 6am it was time to push and an hour later Ellie was born.
I expected labor and birth to be long, hard, and difficult. But, I didn't expect it to be AS long, AS hard, or AS difficult. In the beginning, the pain was manageable (just like the birthing classes said it would be. ) And although the birthing classes try to prepare you for the point where it really starts to 'get real', nothing but living through labor can make you understand fully.
Birth prepares you for motherhood. The spiritual, mental, and physical strength you have to muster to bring life into the world, is out of this world. But, I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it meant I'd walk away as Ellie's mom.