Daddy’s boy: The birth of Elijah
I gave birth. That alone is a crazy enough experience to change someone’s life, but now we have a precious little boy who has in fact changed our lives forever. The Lord blessed us with getting pregnant basically as soon as we stopped preventing. I remember being at Walmart buying the pregnancy test and shaking with excitement and anticipation. Sure enough, after taking the test, a faint blue line showed in the positive window. I remember being so excited that I told our dog, Jet, that we were going to have a baby. The pregnancy was great overall; I think fatigue was probably the worst part for me. I stayed active, and I remember feeling the baby at 16 weeks for the first time while walking the dog, a little flutter that never went away after that.
We had a fun gender reveal party in the summer, complete with cupcakes filled with the gender color—that even my husband Eddy and I were unaware of. Turns out he was right, and it was a BOY! Back when we were dating we both discovered that we loved the name Elijah, so that made it pretty easy to choose although we kept it to ourselves until he made his appearance.
At 37 weeks I was 4 centimeters dilated, 90 percent effaced, having regular contractions and felt a lot of pelvic pressure. By my last checkup I was at 5 centimeters, which was a great feeling—well, not physically (ha ha)!
On November 7, I had lost my mucous plug and had some bloody show. Of course, doing what every 21st century mom-to-be would do, I Googled it and figured he would be coming in the next few days. I attended my friend’s baby shower on Saturday and knew it wouldn’t be long.
Then at 1:45 a.m. on Sunday, November 10, I woke up with an extremely strong contraction (from a dream that I was laboring on a ball in my living room). I went to the bathroom and had another one 30 seconds to a minute later. I woke Eddy for the second time and told him I thought it was happening. He asked how I knew it was the real thing, but soon it was apparent this was not a false alarm. The contractions were so strong and painful. I couldn’t walk or talk, and they were extremely close together. In between was still uncomfortable, too. I tried some relaxation breathing but had to resort to moaning and groaning instead. I knew I was in the transition phase because I was shaking and felt nauseated. I remember my mom saying that I should go to the hospital as soon as I felt like I was going to cry, and boy I sure felt like it.
We called the family birth center, and the nurse asked me what my pain level was. I said an eight or nine. I remember being mad that she didn’t believe me because she said, “So if your arm being ripped off is a 10, what is your pain level?”
And again after I told her eight, she advised that we wait an hour to see if the contractions were regular and then come in. So we drew a bath, and I got in—but I was miserable. At one point I felt so much pressure I really thought the baby was going to be born in the tub. Eddy was running around the house in his underwear with our dog following him, frantically gathering things. Thankfully, I made a list on my phone beforehand and had already packed most things in a suitcase.
He would try to ask me questions, but I couldn’t really respond. So he got me out of the tub, dressed me and got me to the car because we decided not to wait like the nurse suggested. (She later apologized.) I remember thinking that the car ride was going to be miserable and that I didn’t think I could even make it to the garage. I had another big contraction in the garage and remember leaning over the front of the car and moaning. We got in the car, and Eddy tried to call my parents, while I was yelling and moaning in the background. At that point my body took over; it wasn’t like I made a conscious decision to be loud or not. It surprised me a bit because I’m usually very quiet and reserved.
We hit a red light a block from the hospital that took an eternity to change. When we finally pulled up Eddy started to leave to get a wheelchair, but I told him not right now and squeezed his hand while I had an extremely strong contraction. Then I started praying, and he ran off. He came back with a wheelchair and a security worker who ran me up to the birth center. We went past check in and triage and straight into the birthing suite. I stood up out of the wheelchair and had another contraction. I felt a lot of pressure and then my water broke all over the floor. I remember seeing blood in my underwear, too.
I didn’t really know who was around but was aware that there were a couple nurses and maybe a doctor, too. I got in the bed so they could check me. They told me I was 9 centimeters and asked if I wanted the epidural. I thought that I was tough and had a high pain tolerance, but this was nothing like I had ever experienced before. It was the worst pain I had ever felt or even imagined. I told them it sounded good while I had a contraction. But I knew that if I was already at 9 centimeters, I could probably make it. Plus, I knew it could kick in too late anyway.
I had a couple more contractions, and my body started to bear down on itself. I told them I had to push, so they checked me again and said I was ready. I tried to push three times for a 10 count at each contraction and rest in between, which wasn’t very long. Pushing was painful, but it was more painful not to push. I pooped a little but I genuinely didn’t care. I wasn’t prepared for the sensation to feel so much like having a huge bowel movement—because the baby doesn’t come out of your butt. It really felt like it, though.
I remember pushing with all my might, and I definitely was not quiet about it. I whimpered and cried as I tried not to lose it completely. I think I pushed for somewhere between 20 to 40 minutes, but I had no sense of time. It felt more like 10 minutes to me. Eddy was so excited that he helped me, and very soon he said he could see his head. He was holding my leg and helping me support my head. They kept telling me to open my legs more, which felt really awkward. I remember him crowning and then pushing with all my might. I felt a big burn, and that’s when I tore. He came out with his hand next to his head. I will never forget looking between my legs (I had my eyes closed for most of the pushing) and seeing them bring him up attached to his cord. They put him on my chest.
At 3:52 a.m., weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces, Elijah Allen took his first breath—and took ours away. All life is a miracle, and here was my miracle.
Motherhood is such a mix of amazing love and incredible emotions. (It’s also very earthy and comes with real things like bodily fluids!) The afterbirth was very unpleasant and painful. They gave me a shot and stitched me up. It’s a little traumatic to know you are getting stitches there. I was still having contractions that were pretty strong, as well as some bleeding. They also were massaging my uterus which was extremely painful and made me cramp. I just remember that part seemed to take forever, and I just wanted it to be over.
After about 30 minutes I felt like I started to come back a little; it was almost like an out of body experience—except the pain reminds you that it is very real. I do remember being sweaty and tired but not completely exhausted because everything happened so fast. Honestly it was a more traumatic experience than I anticipated, and it took me a few days to stop thinking about it when I would lie down to sleep. And yet there was so much joy in seeing our little baby. When they brought him back to us, we were so happy.
I just remember being blown away by how much Eddy loved him and how excited he was to hold him. He said kissing Elijah was the best feeling in the world. I felt bonded to him, too, but I had just had so many other things going on that I enjoyed watching Eddy with him for a bit. We never were able to get a hold of my parents, so they didn’t end up coming until a little later, which actually gave us some time to just be a little family of three.
At 14 months old now, our little boy has brought us more joy and less sleep than I could’ve ever imagined. After going through unmedicated childbirth and making it through 13 months of breastfeeding, I can do anything! So can you! Becoming a mom is an incredible life-changing gift. May you enjoy the dance of motherhood every day and learn to embrace and let go all at the same time. Just remember when you are covered in spit up and haven’t slept in months that your crying, messy, noisy little one is a blessing. The tears might last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. I have to say, there’s no greater joy than that toothy grin and little arms reaching for you as the sun comes up and you get to begin again.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!
By Jessica Welch