Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eliora Grace's Birth Story

 (Yeah! I finally finished it! This is a "real" birth story...so if that's not your thing, you have been warned...)

Friday, November 19th, was the day after my husband’s birthday. We went out to our favorite little Italian restaurant with my mom, my sister, and the kids to celebrate. While we were there, I had several attention-grabbing contractions. My mom and sister were curious—is this “it”?

“Who knows??” was my response. I had been having contractions off and on for several days already. Some people call it prodromal labor. I just call it “the-way-things-happen-for-me”.

I was six days “overdue” according to ultrasound—more than two weeks past my highly-unreliable LMP due date. I took this all in stride, though. All three of my other babies had come late. With Asher, I was induced at 10 days “late”. Acacia came on her own at 11 days “late”, and Micah on his own at 12.

I told everyone I knew not to get too excited. If things held true to pattern, I’d be birthing this baby on Thanksgiving Day.

We went home, tucked the kids in bed, and everyone had a good night’s sleep.

Micah, my 2-year-old, got me out of bed at 7am. I vaguely remember having a few contractions wake me in the middle of the night, but nothing earth shattering. As I worked to fix breakfast, however, I noticed that my contractions started to become more regular. They weren’t particularly painful, but they were stronger and coming more frequently.

I made a delicious pot of oatmeal with raisins for breakfast for the little ones and myself. I had learned from my past births that it is important for me to eat and drink as well as I can during early labor. For whatever reason, I happen to throw up a lot during active labor. At this early stage, I felt well and had a lot of energy, so I set to work to clean the house and see the bottom of the laundry pile, in preparations to birth my baby at home.

This was to be my third homebirth. My eldest was born via emergency c-section, after my body overreacted to an induction drug, Cytotech, causing contractions that were too strong and too close together for my baby to tolerate. Having been thoroughly unsatisfied with the care I received during his birth (this is an understatement, but that’s all I want too say about it now), and after much research and prayer, we decided that HBAC—Home Birth After Cesarean—was the right choice for me and our babies. (To read the story of my 1st HBAC, click here. I never got around to finishing my 2nd HBAC story. Perhaps another day…).

Although it was Saturday, my husband was out of town, about an hour away, at a very important, mandatory meeting for work. We had never really considered having him skip it, since I had never gone into labor earlier than 41.5 weeks before—and this was 41 weeks exactly. It was only to last about an hour and a half, which would have him home by early afternoon. While I was pretty certain that baby was not actually going to wait until Thanksgiving, I wasn’t too concerned about his leaving the house. I was doing well, and he had plenty of time.

And so, I went about the house, up and down the stairs with baskets of laundry, tidying and straightening, all the while tending to my children and their needs. I was happy to have things starting so early in the day. My labor with Micah had begun in the early evening, and I was thoroughly exhausted by the time he came at 10:21am the next day. I was determined to not have that happen to me again, so I moved through the contractions. I lifted my knees high as I went up the stairs, and squatted down low when I needed to pick things up off the floor.

About half way through the morning I decided to call my sister and ask her to come over. Yes, I was fine…yes, things were still early…but I wanted some company, and it would be easier to keep the children happy and out of mischief with an extra set of hands. Auntie gladly came over and spent the next several hours with us. She not only played with the children, but also folded and put away several baskets of clothes. With the laundry pile dissipated, the dishes done, the bathroom scrubbed, the floors vacuumed, and the bed made, I felt at peace about baby coming. I took a nice, long shower and washed my hair.

We all ate lunch together and shortly thereafter, Chris came home. We all decided that it would be the better part of wisdom for the children to go with Auntie to Grandma’s house at this point. We packed a small suitcase, I gave them all big hugs and kisses, and Chris loaded them into the van. It was around 2pm.

Alone in the house, and with contractions becoming more attention grabbing, I decided to call Ginnie, my midwife, to give her the “head’s up”. I did this more as a courtesy than anything else. I knew that it was still early, and that early labor tends to take a long time for me, but I wanted her to know that I might be waking her in the middle of the night, so that she could go to bed early.

With the kids gone, I thought I should really take a nap…but I couldn’t do it. I was too wide awake. So, I took a bubble bath. Chris came home just as I was finishing up, and he helped me out of the tub. Still, I wasn’t tired enough to sleep. So, I made almond poppy-seed muffins instead, and loaded the dishwasher again.

Ginnie called at around 5pm to ask for an update. Things hadn’t changed much, and I had stopped timing contractions altogether. She encouraged us to have an early dinner and an early bedtime. I should call again in the morning, unless I had to call sooner.

Chris and I enjoyed a quiet evening together. He made himself a sandwich, and I re-warmed some leftover rice and vegetables. I wasn’t feeling that much like eating, but since I could, I knew I should. We went to bed at 7pm.

As hard as I tried, I couldn’t sleep. The contractions were getting more painful. Every time one would wake me up, I started having anxious thoughts. Chris tried talking me through some of the relaxation exercises we had learned in our Bradley classes way-back-when, but I wasn’t hearing it. I hated lying down. By 9pm, I gave up and got out of bed. I let Chris continue to sleep. I could still handle things alone, and I knew I would need him later.

If I couldn’t sleep, I needed to at least rest. I decided to lay on the couch with a favorite movie that I never get to watch—Sense and Sensibility—all by myself! This was very relaxing, and I really enjoyed myself. When it was over (three hours later) I got in the shower again. Once I got out, I was starting to feel nauseas, and threw up once or twice. Thankfully, I had been drinking to thirst all day long, so I was well hydrated.

I spent the next several hours getting in and out of bed, trying to sleep, and going across the hall to the bathroom as necessary. At around 3:45am, I finally relaxed enough to fall asleep between contractions, and got two hours of much needed sleep.

At quarter to six, I woke up Chris. This was starting to feel “real”, and I needed help. I was so happy that I allowed him a good night’s sleep! He was well-rested and ready to help me! He did such a great job of rubbing my back and talking me through the contractions. I guess, with this being our fourth baby, he was becoming a “pro”!

It was definitely time to call Ginnie! When I felt comfortable enough to have a conversation, I got on the phone and told her that I thought it was time for her to come. As we were discussing how my labor had progressed through the night, I had a particularly strong contraction and dropped the phone on the bed.

This is where the story starts to get interesting…

Chris picked up the phone—and Ginnie had hung up! This was not typical of her, so I tried calling her back, but the phone was busy!

I thought that perhaps she was calling Anneke, her assistant, to let her know that she was getting ready to go. I breathed and concentrated through another contraction, and then tried calling her again.

I was NOT prepared for what I was going to hear next.

“Tiana, I have another mom in labor right now. She went into labor early. She just called me, and her contractions are already 2 minutes apart. She has very fast labors.”

It was all I could do just to process this information. Ginnie continued,

“So, here are our options. I can call another midwife from down in Milwaukee to come and be with you until I can get there. Or, the other mother has already agreed that she would come here, if you’d like to come here, too.”

I said I would talk it over with Chris and get back to her.

I explained the situation to Chris, and he said, with certainty, “It looks like we’re going to Ginnie’s house.”

I wasn’t nearly as certain. Every bone in my body wanted to stay home.

Maybe I could ask Ginnie to call Pam (her former assistant, now a midwife with her own practice, who had been at both Acacia and Micah’s births)?

“Tiana, I think you want Ginnie to attend this birth. Let’s get ready to go.”

So, it was decided. I called Ginnie and said we’d be there as soon as we could. But I was not at peace.

I was sweaty, and smelly, and in my nightgown.

I had never taken a car ride in labor and didn’t want to start now.

And…I was embarrassed.

How was I, a woman who goes waaay overdue, has ridiculously long labors, and throws up the whole time, going to be able to handle being in the same house with a woman who has 3 hour labors 3 weeks early?

Oh, I was more than embarrassed. I was jealous.

How could this be happening to me? This was so unfair! Why, why, WHY???

As I got dressed and packed my things together, I bawled.

Actually, I had a full-on temper tantrum.

“LORD, this is not what I wanted! This is not the birth I planned. I want to be at HOME! Why are you allowing this to happen? I don’t understand!”

I must have gone on like this for at least 20 minutes. Finally, I realized that I was being pretty faithless.

“LORD, I believe you are working all things together for my good. Help me to see the good in this.”

I took a deep breath, and “got my head right”, as Chris would say. Alright. Let’s go.

Our birth kit was already neatly packed into a large plastic tote and a wash basket, so all we really needed to pack was a bag of clothes and personal items for me and a car seat for the baby.

I felt incredibly awkward leaving the house. It was 7am Sunday morning, and our neighbors would be leaving for church soon. What if I have a contraction in public?

Once we got into the car, I calmed down considerably. Having contractions in a car is not fun—and one of my favorite reasons to homebirth!—but the drive to Ginnie’s house has always been beautiful and pleasant. She lives out in the country, in a lovely, secluded, wooded area filled with hills and valleys. As we pulled into the driveway, Chris said,

“Well, honey, if you had to pick a freestanding birthing center, I think this would be it.”

I smiled.

As we walked in the door, we heard the unmistakable sound of a fresh infant crying. We knew the other baby had been born.

Right in the entryway, I collapsed into Chris’s arms with a very strong contraction. Almost immediately, I heard Anneke’s voice behind me. When I was ready, she said they had a bed waiting for me. I said that I’d better use a bathroom first.

We walked into the living room, and there was a mattress set up on the floor waiting for me. It was pleasant and comfortable, and I knew instantly that this was going to be okay.

It was a good thing, too, because I had started to feel “pushy” in the car, and felt certain that baby was coming soon!

Ginnie was still busy in some other part of the house with the other mother and her newborn baby (I never did see them, so my worries about laboring with an “audience” were completely unfounded). Anneke asked me how I was feeling.

“I really didn’t want to come, but I’m fine now that I’m here. I think I’m pretty close to pushing, though. I think you’d better check me.”

So, she did, and she had a rather uncertain look on her face.

“I’m not sure,” she said, “but I think you still have some more to go. I’ll have Ginnie come check in a little bit.”

In the meantime, she and Chris worked to get me comfortable and relaxed. They set up my birth kit, helped me change into my nightgown, and gave me something to drink. Chris continued to rub my back and talk me through my contractions. I was working hard, but in surprisingly good spirits. I was sure the end was in sight.

There was a flurry of activity in the nearby kitchen, to which I did my best not to pay attention. Coffee and breakfast were being made for the other couple by Ginnie’s housemate. Soon, I heard Ginnie’s voice as well. She and Anneke had a discussion in rather hushed tones.

Anneke came back and set up a few more things. She asked if I’d like her to take some pictures. I was delighted that she offered, and I happily said, “yes”.

My dear husband, Christopher, loving me through my labor.

In a little while, Ginnie came into the room. The other mother, with her husband and baby, were resting comfortably in a closed room on the other side of the house. She could now devote her attention to me.

“Anneke says you think you’re ready to push. Do you want me to see where you’re at?”

“Yes, let’s do it.”

I was at 2 and a half. Maybe 3.

“Oh, no…” I sighed, dejectedly, burying my head in Chris’ shoulder. I had been laboring for over 24 hours. How could I possibly still have so far to go???

“I can’t be dishonest with you…”

“Of course, not…”

“You’re going to have to refocus.”


“We’re going to take this one contraction at a time. You can do this.”

“I’m so tired…”

“I know you are. Refocus your energy. You can do this.”


They left Chris and I alone for a couple of minutes. If he was discouraged, he didn’t let me know it. He told me that he believed in me…that I was strong. I cried.

“I don’t feel strong,” I said.

“But you are,” he insisted.

Soon Ginnie and Anneke were back. They wanted to know if I’d like to get in the shower. That sounded like a very good idea.

They had gotten everything set up for me already, and left Chris and I alone.  Have I mentioned how wonderful Chris was through all of this? He helped me take my hair down, and stood right outside the shower, talking to me the whole time.

The shower did me a world of good. I was still tired—still unsure of how much more I could handle—but in a better place physically and mentally. I did a lot of praying at this point in my labor.

Jesus, help me…be with me…sustain me…

Recognizing that I wasn’t really in control of my body—that, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t just stop this labor and take a nap—once again made me realize my great need for Him.

I got back into bed and did my best to rest. Ginnie did a fabulous job of coaching me through each contraction, helping me to relax as much as possible. She wasn’t freaked out by my painfully slow progress, or by my vomiting every third contraction or so. Once again, Chris was right. I wanted her there—not some stranger who doesn’t know me or my labor patterns.

“This is just Tiana’s way,” she said to Anneke at one point.

Pretty much.

Another thing that is “just Tiana’s way”, that maybe I should have thought about earlier, is how quickly I can go from “very little progress” to “yep, you’re done”!

I had been lying on my side, taking one contraction at a time, in a surprisingly relaxed state. It had only been about 2 hours since the dreaded “two-and-a-half” conversation.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to be lying down anymore.

I got up on my hands and knees.

“Baby’s coming!” I blurted out.

And she was.

Three pushes…less than three minutes…and she was out! It was 10:57am, Sunday, November 21, 2010.

Chris and Anneke helped me to turn around and sit down on the bed, and Ginnie handed me a squalling baby!

Eliora Grace and Mommy, moments after birth

She was tiny, too. Really little. We didn’t measure her until much later, but she was 6 lbs. 3 oz. and 18.5 inches long—my smallest baby yet. Although, this didn’t surprise me too much, seeing as she was my earliest baby yet as well—only 8 days past her ultrasound due date, as opposed to 10, 11, and 12 days “late”, respectively.

(Once again, I proved that the standard medical birth routine would not have been good for me and my baby. Most mothers with previous cesareans in my area are scheduled for a repeat c-section at 39 weeks. This would have been dangerous for my tiny girl. Even if I had been “allowed” to go into labor on my own (which is unlikely), had I presented at the hospital “ready to push” at 2.5cm, I’m certain I would not have been left to labor peacefully and progress naturally.)

I took my little baby to my breast. She latched on well and had a strong suck. Her eyes were wide open, alert, and looking at me. It was at this point that I lifted the little blanket to “check”, being careful not to be confused by an umbilical cord this time.

“It’s a girl!” I exclaimed! God had answered Acacia’s prayers. She had her baby sister!

We named her Eliora Grace. “Eliora” is a Hebrew name meaning “The LORD is my light.” We gave her the middle name “Grace” to finish the verse “…and my salvation.” Psalm 27:1.

Chris led a prayer of blessing over our new baby and our family. I was sweaty, exhausted, teary-eyed, and overjoyed.

Little Baby Eliora, in Daddy's Arms

Afterward, Ginnie and Anneke gave me the royal treatment! They made me a delicious lunch of grilled chicken and stir-fried vegetables. I don’t think I remember the last time anything tasted so good! And they did all my laundry, too. I went home to a thoroughly clean house and two wire racks full of homemade muffins, with nothing to do but relax and enjoy my baby. It was a good thing, too, because I really needed the rest!

So, that’s the story of how Eliora Grace came into the world. Her birth was long and tiring…and certainly different then I had planned…but it was a good birth. 

A very good birth.

I am so blessed.


Martha A. said...

What a beautiful story, Tiana! I always think it is funny though at the hospital still they think still labor always follows the "Cm an hour" theory!! Things always move at their own pace when things are going right!

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful story! So glad your little girl arrived safely in God's timing!

Anna Clarke said...

Beautiful story! Congrats!

Theresa said...

Thanks for sharing. What a beautiful birth story and a precious little girl!

Andrea said...

Congrats! What a beautiful story. I wanted to share that I found your story via a facebook page, and when I read the name of your midwife I wondered if it could be the same Ginnie I work with. I work for a company who does insurance billing for homebirth midwives all over the country. I do the billing for Wisconsin, and when I read the part about having another midwife come from Milwaukee, I knew it was the same Ginnie that I bill for. It is so neat to hear such an amazing birth story that involves one of "my midwives". I just had to share :) Congrats again and God Bless your family

Anella said...

Oh, Tiana, thank you for sharing your wonderful story! I didn't even know you were expecting! We have a new one here too, born at home on 7/28; also born not at all according to what I had planned! Congratulations to you and your family. Welcome Eliora!

Peggy G said...

The more I listen to you describe your birth stories, the more I am convinced that I want a homebirth if we should be blessed with another child. I wonder why it takes me so long to figure this stuff out. Once again, congrats on your newest blessing!! She is beautiful :o)

deborah said...

Congratulations~!! I loved your birth story. :o)

Anonymous said...

Tiana, thank you for sharing that. I loved reading your birth story. Eliora is a beautiful blessing.
Hannah K.

Brannan/PreggieVeggie said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. It is very reassuring to me- especially the parts about knowing who you needed in attendance and Hubby knowing, as well. That has been my experience this birth, and so far it has been confirmed over and over. Having someone who knows you and your births is a HUGE deal.

Thanks again!!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written; and you ARE so beautifully blessed! God is good! --Teri


Coquetta said...

What a wonderful story! You wrote it well, and as I read, I became "sweaty", and breathed faster! And when you wrote about the midwives talking in hushed tones, my heart dreaded what might come next. But God gave you a precious baby without any problems. How wonderful!

My babies come quickly, too. Just like that. Only my labors are shorter.

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

Thanks for sharing Tiana! WOW! Isn't it amazing! At the hospital they would surely induce for 'failure to progress' (and all those complications and risks you surely know all too well), but your faithful patience SO paid off!!

Way to go, and great job pushing!

Eliora is a wonderfully beautiful name :).

Tiana said...

Thank-you all so much for your kind words. I can't believe that Eliora will already be one month old tomorrow! I am blessed so far beyond what I deserve.


Lexi said...

What a wonderful story and a precious little one! We're awaiting our #4 in February and preparing for our 2nd homebirth. They are such wonderful experiences. It will sure slow down our homeschooling though!!

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

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Features God Made, Home Grown

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Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom


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