I'm so excited to finally share our birth story with all of you. I've been writing bits here and there for weeks now. And, p.s., before I got pregnant, I wouldn't have wanted to read a birth story, so you know, skip it if that's you. Not offended.
Let me start out by saying, we had a really positive experience, but I know not everyone does. I don't believe everyone should have to love giving birth. Or that if your experience didn't go well, that it was because of the way you handled it. And I don't believe that there is one "right" way to have a child. One of my favorite things about giving birth was learning what would be best for us and our family. Just a little disclaimer.
As many of you know, Eloise was born eleven days late. It felt like an eternity. I hate to say it, but it did. And I really didn't want to be induced. I was hoping to go about this birth as naturally as possible and I knew that might affect the situation. I wanted to try it naturally simply because I wanted to. I'd decided that I preferred not to use meds if they weren't necessary, but mostly it had to do with the desire to try. Some kind of stubbornness deep in my being. That said, I wasn't sure when it came down to the pain if that would take me through (it didn't). I watched the video for the epidural and spent time telling myself that if I got it, I wouldn't be disappointed. So thankful for women who were willing to tell their stories, and many women who had a positive experience with meds and without. So, when our due date had come and gone, our physician was really understanding of my desire not to be induced. He was willing to let us go two weeks over. So we waited. And waited. And as much as I had progressed, it had slowed down a lot the last few weeks. When we got to our 41 week appointment, we made sure she was healthy and spoke about our options. Unless Eloise arrived on her own, we would need to be induced at 11 days or 14 days. Zach and I both felt most comfortable with choosing the induction that Friday (11 days over). Eloise never arrived on her own. I think the Lord has a funny way of showing us He's in charge of the things we're most scared of.
We arrived at the hospital at five in the morning that Friday, January 21st. I was all set up and put on a pitocin drip around seven. My contractions started around eight o'clock. They felt similar to what I'd been having off and on for weeks at home, just a little deeper and closer. Around this time, our nurse (who would stay until 7 that evening) arrived. I honestly feel like she was the biggest answer to prayer. She was incredibly kind and incredibly calm. And her name was Anne. With an "e." :)
Earlier in the morning, I had found out that I wouldn't be able to get up and walk around because of the pitocin. It was really hard for me to take. My mom and I had talked a lot about letting go of expectations, knowing that God would provide. At that point I was trying really hard. It wasn't working so well. I didn't know how I would handle things if I couldn't even get up. Either way, Anne walked in and let me know that she had read my birth plan (which I had essentially tried to let go of) and was planning on moving me to a new room with a tub to labor in, just in case I could be taken off the pitocin later on. She told me the birthing ball could be another option as long as we stayed next to the bed, too. So we moved. SO thankful. I never ended up using the tub, but the new room had sun flooding in and a view of the pretty snow (And the parking garage, which for some odd reason, Zach and I really like. Probably because it can trick you into thinking you're in a city for about two seconds.). We turned on some worship music and everyone got settled in...Zach, Amber (my sister-in-law), my mom and my dad were in the room all day.
At 9:30 am, they broke my water and my contractions started getting stronger. I got on the birthing ball and stayed there for a few hours. I felt strong, breathing through each one. Amber was helping me, reminding me to keep up. My mom was knitting. I was surprised by how peaceful everything felt. It's so true when people say that you truly feel out of time. It felt like I was completely in my own world, breathing and excited by the fact that it was finally here. During that time the contractions were not necessarily incredibly strong, but they were fairly close together.
I began to feel a somewhat nauseous a little later, and things were started getting more painful. I got some medicine for the nausea and we decided it would be best for me to get some rest and get back in bed so I could keep going. Then I lost track a bit. Sometime after I got in bed, things felt quite painful, and all I remember is looking up at Zach and Amber and telling them I didn't think I could do it anymore. I decided to get the epidural. If I had said I wasn't a little disappointed, I'd be lying to you. But, in that moment, I was confident it was the best decision for me. And it was. I had to wait for about an hour until the actual epidural was delivered. That was a long hour, my friends. I had some pain meds in-between, which didn't seem to help at all. I felt a bit like I was drowning. That is the only word I can think of. I lost control of my breathing somewhere along the way. I was at 6cm right after I asked for the epidural and 8cm right after I got it. I do remember squeezing my OB's hands with the maddest grip on earth, moaning in pain while he helped me curl over so they could put the epidural in. That was the low point. I thought I would be scared of getting the epidural. I wasn't. I didn't care. And although I was glad to get rid of the pain, I was thankful I'd been able to experience it.
After I received the epidural, I was already starting to feel pressure. It felt intense, but not painful. And around this time, without the pain and just the intensity, I found myself laughing at points. Because I couldn't stop saying, "There's so much pressure. I feel SO much pressure." I wouldn't stop saying it. I felt a little out of control. Anne kept trying to calm me down and tell me that the baby couldn't fall out. It wasn't going to happen. I didn't seem to believe her. Either way, the only way I felt I could control the pressure was to do these horse lip noises a friend had told me about from Ina May's Guide to Childbirth or to act like I was blowing out a candle, and to hold someone's hands and rock them back and forth. I looked like an absolute nut case. Complete nutzo. I did this for a couple of hours, I believe, and in that time I progressed quite quickly from 8cm to 10cm (complete).
They allowed me to stay at 10cm for another hour or so, which was hopefully going to allow the pushing to be quick. And it didn't take long at all. Even with the epidural, I felt really strong and in control. I was completely aware of what was going on. And, I actually roared. I really did. Not from pain, but just out of power. This baby was late enough, I wasn't going to let her stay in any longer. I pushed for about 10-20 minutes before our physician arrived and after 29 minutes total, at 5:47 pm, Eloise came into this great big world. The pushing was the neatest thing I've ever experienced. I cried from joy. And cried. And cried. We all cried. It felt so special. Zach, my mom, my dad, and Amber were all able to stay. Zach was able to catch Eloise (our doctor allows it) and I was able to hold her right away. I had NO idea how overjoyed I would feel in that moment. Nothing had prepared me for it. I cry every time I think of it. She was finally here.
All that time, I had been a bit fearful of how I would feel. Thinking it would be odd to be a mother. All that change in just one moment. But it didn't and it doesn't. I didn't necessarily feel like a mom right away, but I did distinctly feel like her mother. Like she was mine.
And that, my friends, is the story of the birth of Eloise Anne Kemp. :)