The day Ellen was born I had an OB appointment first thing in the morning. I was dilated to a 5 and my doctor told me that the baby was very low which meant she would likely come very fast when things got rolling. She expressed concern that a) I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time to get antibiotics for my Strep B and b) I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time to deliver. My doctor had a shift at the hospital later that day and offered, if I wanted, to call and see if they could fit me in. They would get my antibiotics going and when she arrived for her shift she would break my water. I was nervous about agreeing to do this, but also very tired of being pregnant and had spent a good deal of time worrying about getting to the hospital in time (our hospital is in downtown Denver and about 25 minutes from our house when traffic is good). My biggest fear of agreeing to this plan was that the initial medical intervention would lead to more medical intervention and complications and I would end up having a horrible experience. My doctor knew my goal was to birth without medication and assured me that she thought breaking my water would be enough to kick me into active labor and that we could try walking and other methods if labor stalled before moving to Pitocin. We agreed and left the office still discussing whether this was a smart move or not. Our minds were racing so much that we drove six blocks past our street before either of us realized it. Once at home I called my mom (whose intuition and wisdom I trust immensely) and talked to her about the plan and my concerns. My mom told me she thought I’d be fine and thought this was probably the smart thing to do. I began to feel more calm about things and also kept praying that if this was the wrong decision that I would know. We spent the next few hours tying up loose ends (Noel at work and me at home). It was kind of a weird feeling to know our baby was coming later that day, but it was also very exciting. It was nice to have the advance notice so we could get things in order and I didn’t have to panic when it took me almost two hours to work out the schedules of two different people to take care of Cooper.
Once at the hospital everything was extremely chill. It was actually kind of a nice change to chat leisurely with the staff, get all the paperwork taken care of, and watch TV episodes while we hung out. After I’d been on the antibiotics for five hours my doctor broke my water. I was optimistically hoping labor wouldn’t last for more than four hours, but knew that it certainly could. My contractions began to increase almost immediately (they were already about 7 minutes apart on their own beforehand) and they wanted to keep me on the monitor for 20 minutes to make sure Ellen was handling everything okay. Ellen was super squirmy, so 20 minutes turned into about 40. By the time I got unhooked from everything I was starting to feel pretty achy and wanted to get into the tub. They checked my dilation while the tub was filling. I was at a 7 and was advised to get out of the tub if I felt any increase in pressure. The tub jets made my achy legs feel better, but the growing pressure was undeniable. I wanted to be tough, but also didn’t want to be stupid. When I told Noel that I felt like the pressure was increasing after only being in the tub 15 minutes he pressed the call button without hesitation because he knew that me saying anything meant a lot. I told the nurse I felt like the pressure was increasing, but maybe I was just being a wuss. She told me, “Honey, you’re not a wuss, you’re at a 9 ” and started getting everything set up for delivery. A few very strong contractions later I started to feel like pushing. I asked the nurse if I was “there yet” and before she could check me my body began to involuntarily push. It was a crazy, but amazing feeling. The doctors (it’s a teaching hospital so my doctor and a doctor doing his residency attended to me) rushed into the room and told me not to push while they got their gloves on. I pushed only a few times (the duration of one contraction) and Ellen was out. After unwrapping the cord from her neck (she was double wrapped) they laid her on my chest. This was not an experience I got with Cooper and I was amazed at how she really did naturally begin sticking her tongue out in search of milk. They let Noel cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing and when all the pressing things had been attended to they left us alone for an entire hour to bond as a family. It was such a peaceful and wonderful time. Only after that hour did they bug us with typical hospital policies and procedures (they didn’t even weigh her until then).
The week before Ellen was born I was despairing about how awful it was to be so hugely pregnant and the thought came to me, “Maybe you have to be pregnant this long because you need to keep her inside of you long enough to get to the point in pregnancy where the doctor would feel safe starting your labor so you can avoid a problematic situation you haven’t even thought of.” It seemed crazy at the time and I immediately categorized it with other pessimistic thoughts I’d had about delivering a 10 lb baby on St. Patrick’s day or having an induction that ended in an emergency c-section. I’ll never know if I narrowly escaped having an interstate birth or something worse, but I feel very good about how everything happened. Active labor lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes which was incredibly fast, but also very nice. Even though Ellen was about two pounds bigger than Cooper she was much easier to birth and I tore a lot less (I only needed one stitch). The whole thing was a really good experience and I can’t say enough about the hospital and it’s staff. Recovery has been better this time around as well. Thus far Ellen is a really good baby and we feel so blessed to have her in our home.