Seeing as this blog is all about my experience with motherhood, I figured I should start where it truly began. ✨ Today is Elijah’s birthday and the anniversary of my first birth. 💜
It was two am and I was awake in bed just trying to get comfortable. At almost forty weeks pregnant it was much more difficult than usual. Like most nights I couldn’t sleep and had been reading posts in my favorite mom groups, thinking about how I couldn’t wait for this baby to just be here already! I was so excited to meet him. The past week I had been awfully sick and after exhausting ever natural remedy I could think of and sleeping as much as possible, I was finally starting to feel better. It was two days until my due date. After deciding enough was enough, and I needed to get some sleep, I put my phone away for the night and closed my eyes.
A few minutes passed and I suddenly felt some tightening in my stomach. It felt like a contraction but different from the Braxton Hicks I had had before. I was still hesitant to think anything of it though. 5-6 minutes went by and I suddenly felt another. Now I was starting to really wonder if something was up. This pattern continued for the next hour or so getting closer and closer. Eventually the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and about a minute long. This was what my midwives had told me was the time to page them! Although I wasn’t feeling much pain yet, I figured I should page them just to be safe. As a first time mom, I was quite unsure how to tell what point my body was at.
My midwife called me promptly at about 6 am. She could tell by the tone of my voice that I was still in the early stages of labor. She reassured me that this was just the beginning and my contractions may start/stop several times. She told me to get some rest and try to eat extra well the next day. Start getting everything ready to bring. She was right, my contractions did stop shortly after our call. I tried to relax and sleep for most of the day as I had been up late the night before timing the contractions with anticipation. That evening I started having contractions again. They progressed all night long and I called the midwives the next morning. I asked to come in to get checked and see how far along I was.
We met around 8 in the morning and my contractions conveniently stopped almost as soon as I got there. Now looking back I think leaving the comfortable environment of my home may have delayed/stalled my labor. I was 3.5 cm dilated, and baby and I were both doing well so they sent me back home with come magnesium to help the contractions and arnica, a homeopathic muscle soreness reliever. I once again relaxed and had contractions on and off all day. I tried to rest as much as possible. My contractions were very painful, and all in my back. I tried countless positions to sit in, even on a birthing ball they had lent me, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. Around 6/7 pm that evening (4/30) while eating Chinese food we had gotten delivered, my contractions returned. I abruptly had to leave the table because they were so intense I felt the need to be alone. This time they would continue all night long and become active labor.
All night long I had contractions. I was so exhausted by the early morning that I was falling asleep for the three minutes in between each one that I had.. by the time morning came and the midwife called me I let her know I was definitely ready to come in. We loaded up the car for the second day and headed up to the birthing center which was a forty five minute drive from our home. It was our due date, May 1st.
At this point my contractions were extremely intense so having to be in the car was absolutely miserable 😩 I calculated approximately how many contractions I would have during the car ride and was counting down how many I had left before I’d be there to get myself through it. The back pain was absolutely awful, and definitely the worst pain I have ever experienced. When I arrive at the birthing center they checked me and at this point I was 4.5-5 cm dilated. The midwives didn’t think the baby was in the best position, and this was why I was having back pain and labor had stalled so many times. They sent me to get acupuncture done in the hopes it would help the baby to get to a better position.
At this point I felt very frustrated and was having a hard time. I just so badly wanted to attempt to find relief and after a long car ride, getting back in the car was the last thing I wanted. When we arrived at the acupuncture center, I was starting to get really upset and almost in tears as I got out of the car. The receptionist happened to be outside and came up to me so sweetly saying they’d been expecting me as the midwives has called ahead to let them know I was coming. They got me in right away and were so empathetic and kind it helped me relax and accept that this was for the best.
The Doctor put a few small pins in both my hands and feet. I had been anxious because I’d never received acupuncture treatment before and didn’t know what to expect but it was painless and honestly helped me to relax because it forced me to relax. I had no other choice but to just breathe as I had to lay still in the reclining chair while receiving treatment. Every few minutes the doctor came to check on me, rotate the needles, and we were tracking my contractions as well. After about 30-45 minutes my contractions were two minutes apart and she told us we best go ahead back to the birthing center so she didn’t end up delivering a baby!
We got back to the birthing center around 12:30 PM. I was able to take a hot shower for the first time my whole labor as our hot water heater had conveniently broke a few days before I went into labor. My fiancé went downstairs and made a fresh fruit smoothie for me as it’s very important you stay hydrated during labor. My contractions were very intense at this point though and it was very hard to get comfortable let alone find the desire to eat. The only thing that helped a little was when my midwife would apply counter pressure to my back. After showering I labored all around the room. Laying in the queen sized bed at times, on the exercise ball here and there, or getting into yoga like positions they had recommended. After a little while I decided to go get another warm shower.
Within a few minutes of being in the shower I suddenly started feeling the urge to push. I realized I needed to get out of the shower and went back into the room. Because I’d just gotten out of the shower I wound up being topless in all my birth pictures otherwise I’d share. I started leaning over the edge of the bed and every few minutes would have the urge to push. The midwives hurriedly filled up the birthing pool. They thought the baby was coming quickly.
For me pushing was honestly a relief because after hours of back labor, my contractions had finally stopped. Now the pain was moving down but for a brief moment in between pushing, I felt relief from the hours of pain and excitement for my baby to arrive. Once they got the birthing pool filled enough they helped me into it and immediately I felt so much relief and much more relaxed. I completely zoned out to the reggae music we had playing. One song I’d never heard before wound up becoming a new favorite because it helped so much during my labor. “It might be raining, raining outside…. but in my mind, patience still shine. Even if it gets a little grey right now , I know that I’m gonna be fine.” I thought back to the classes we had and how they told us not to rush when pushing because it could lead to tearing. I paced my pushing and breathed for a couple minutes in between each one.
After ten to fifteen minutes of pushing in the birthing pool I reached down and felt something. I thought it was his head and told the midwives excitedly. A few more minutes went by and I realized it wasn’t his head, but his amniotic sac. The water I leaked earlier must not have been all of it because he was still in his sac.. or so I thought. I was so in my head I didn’t say anything but a few minutes later as I kept pushing, the midwives realized and were amazed he was en caul. To be “born with the caul” means a baby or a child is born with a portion of the amniotic sac or membrane remaining on the head. This is very rare, happening in 1 in every 80,000 births. The student midwife asked the older midwife if she should remove it and she said yes so they removed/broke the caul from his face. I wish they hadn’t looking back but at the same time no harm was done and perhaps there was good reason for it that I was unaware of. I had actually envisioned and hoped he would be born in his amniotic sac after seeing some beautiful photos of babies born still in their sac so it was absolutely an amazing “coincidence”.
After pushing for about 20-30 more minutes his head started coming out. It happened within a couple minutes I’d say and this was the most painful part. Once his head was out the midwife urged me to give a couple good pushes and I did and out came Elijah into the water at 6:45 PM. Ron and the midwife caught him at the same time and quickly pushed him up into my arms, rubbing his back and covering him with a blanket simultaneously. I was stunned and speechless. “Talk to your baby,” the midwife encouraged me. “Hi, hi baby.. Elijah” were my first words to him as I tried to gather myself after what had just conspired. As I finally got to come eye to eye with my son I had wondered about for the last 9 months. It was so much to absorb at one time.
The hours of pain were long forgotten within seconds of holding my son. I was overcome with relief and a sense of accomplishment. We stayed in the pool for about fifteen minutes before the midwives helped me into the bed and we attempted to see if Elijah could crawl to my breast for his first milk, an instinct all newborns have. It can take upwards to an hour and I wasn’t quite that patient and wound up just helping him after ten to twenty minutes. I didn’t get the best latch right away and couldn’t figure out the best positions to hold him for feeding. I would have to research this later that evening once we got home.
The birth assistants went to heat me up some veggie soup we had brought and make me a smoothie. After about 30 minutes, once the umbilical cord was white, no longer pulsating, and all the blood it contained has went back into Elijah’s body, Ron cut the cord. We took care of his height and weight around that time, and started preparing to go home after a little bit longer. After saying our heartfelt goodbyes and arranging our home visit from the midwives 24 hours later, we were on the way home less than four hours after Elijah was born. I knew it was going to feel so good to sleep in our own bed. I still didn’t quite realize what the night ahead would bring… my first taste of motherhood as I had to wake every hour or two to feed and change my ever hungry and growing newborn. But I didn’t mind and could hardly sleep anyways as I reflected on and cried over the beauty which had transpired that day. I knew my life was forever changed.