Elsie Norah Faye | a birth story

     

*This blog post was first featured on my former blog, Display Your He{art}, in 2014. Now that we have a new family blog, I thought it would be fun to share again here on Elsie’s 6th birthday! Reading through it again, all of the anticipation we felt to meet our second babe comes flooding back. It’s also fascinating to see how my perspective on birth has changed now that we’ve had a successful home birth.

Elsie has brought so much joy and laughter into our home and we are so incredibly thankful she’s ours. Before you head down memory lane with me, here’s a photo of our sweet girl now…

March 5, 2014

Our sweet Elsie is 8 days old today, and she’s just about as precious as they come. After all of the craziness from the past month – bedrest, pre-term labor (twice!), and RSV – we are so thankful that she’s finally here! I’ve never wanted to be one of those pregnant ladies who wished my pregnancy away, but honestly, by the time last week rolled around, I was SO ready for her to arrive! The end of my pregnancy was pretty far from anything I would’ve hoped for and heading into delivery via induction two weeks early, while still being so sick certainly made me a bit discouraged, but God was so gracious and gave us an incredibly smooth and beautiful birth experience in the midst of it all.

     At my appointment on Monday morning, my doctor told me that it was probably time to get this baby out. She had been concerned for over a week, and due to my persistent illness, my pre-existing heart condition, and the size of my baby, she decided we needed to induce as soon as we could. Induction is not anything I would have planned or hoped for as the risk for difficult labors and c-sections increases greatly; however, I trusted my doctor and really sensed she was right in knowing that Elsie needed to be delivered soon. She wanted to induce later that afternoon, but we decided I could wait until the next day, which would give us time to make arrangements for everything. They told me I would definitely be induced on Tuesday, but had no idea when that would be. I was to receive a phone call sometime Tuesday morning letting me know when I could come in for the induction. I assumed it would be later in the day since I was getting on the schedule fairly last minute. Imagine my surprise when I received a 6 am wake-up call on Tuesday saying they were ready for us!

     I woke Smitty up and we both started getting all of our final things together. I called my family and told them it was “go time!” so they could get on the road as well. We woke Adelyn up and headed into the hospital – our last trip as a family of three.

Sorry for the terrible iPhone photo quality!

  We arrived at the hospital a little after 8 am and were immediately checked in and taken upstairs to a birthing suite. We got settled in and then…waited. My doctor wanted to break my water herself so we waited on her to arrive. In the meantime, we got the word out to our friends and family that it was baby havin’ day! We said good-bye to Adelyn as a dear friend came to pick her up for the day and the reality of how different our lives would be in just a few short hours began to set in. A mix of emotions coursed through me. I was so eager to meet this little girl who had been growing inside of me, making her presence known through my bruised rib (she was a kicker!) and her constant hiccups for so long, but at the same time, I was anxious about being induced and frustrated that I still didn’t feel 100% because of the RSV. I so badly wanted to have a stronger voice in my birth experience this time around, but the combination of an induction mixed with the fact that I was still coughing my brains out made me feel like I didn’t even have the option of control in the process. I had spent 9 months praying for a better birth experience than my last, planning how I would respond in each scenario, and yet here I was in a completely unpredictable situation, feeling out of control again. God sure has a way of teaching me to trust His plan over mine, though!

     Around 11:30 am, my doctor came into my room and broke my water. We also met with the anesthesiologist, explaining the terrible experience I had with my first delivery. She was confident that, should I choose to get an epidural, it wouldn’t happen again.  I am so thankful that we were all able to have that meeting and get on the same page. After the anesthesiologist left, my doctor told me to sit on the birthing ball for the next hour to see if contractions would pick up and if I would begin to progress at all.

     I had come into the hospital at 5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced thanks to my pre-term labor 3 weeks prior. At 12:30 pm, my nurse came in to recheck me and my contractions had just begun to become consistent at about 3 minutes apart. They weren’t painful, I just felt them as pressure more than anything. We decided to wait on the cervical check and give me a little more time to move things along.

     At 1 pm, I asked if I could walk the halls. I wasn’t in active labor yet, but really felt like if I could get up and move around, my body would progress fairly quickly. My parents had just arrived and while the boys went to grab a quick lunch, my mom and I started walking the halls. It was close to 1:30 pm. I made two laps around our hospital floor – one with my mom and one with Smit – and by the end of the 2nd lap, my contractions were coming about 2 minutes apart and I was having to slow down and breathe through each one. As soon as we got back into the room, I had three contractions back to back that were 1 minute apart and suddenly super intense. I told my family to call the nurse to recheck me. She came in right away and let me know that I was at a 6. I was definitely in active labor and progressing now!!

    A few more intense contractions later, and my nurse asked if I wanted my epidural. Throughout my pregnancy, Smitty and I had often discussed what my birth plan for this baby would be. Initially, I had planned to attempt to have a med-free delivery, but given how sick I still was and how difficult it was for me to breathe due to the cough and congestion plus the added variable of an induction, I decided it probably would be best for me to get an epidural at this point. I have no shame or guilt over this decision – I truly believe it was the best decision for both me and my baby and in the end, I am so thankful that I got it! (Bonus – it actually worked this time!)

     The anesthesiologists came in sometime around 2:30 pm to place the epidural and I was finally able to relax a bit. See before epidural…

…and after epidural!

      I got rechecked me as soon as the epidural was placed, and and I was at 8 cm. Within 25 minutes, I was starting to feel a ton of pressure and suddenly began to shake uncontrollably with each contraction. Although the contractions weren’t necessarily painful, the pressure was obvious and I knew that it was probably about time to start pushing. I called the nurse who said I was at 10 cm and that she would call the doctor right away. This was such a huge difference from my first delivery where I did all of my pushing with the nurses and the doctor arrived at the last minute to literally catch the baby. We now know that this was a huge reason for much of my tearing the first time around. I had no one to advocate for me or my body, no one who knew my history, no one to speak up when things didn’t go as planned. My doctor was sure to not let that happen this time, and what a tremendous answer to prayer she was!

     She entered the room around 3 pm and with a calm, but assertive sense about her and began to walk me through the entire pushing process. I began pushing a little before 3:15 pm. She immediately noticed that the baby was facing sideways instead of being face down so we spent the first 20-25 minutes just trying to turn the baby. She busted out the baby shampoo (yep, you read that right!) and began to coax Elsie’s head down and into the proper position. With Smitty on one side and my mom on the other, I pushed for close to 45 minutes and it was honestly such a beautiful experience! With Adelyn, my pain was out of control, my mind hazy, and my anxiety high. This birth experience was worlds apart. The room was calm and there was a certain sweet spirit within it. Every push was a step closer to meeting my littlest girl. Every ounce of pressure or pain I felt was a reminder of the precious gift I was about to hold in my arms.

     We’d been having trouble getting Elsie’s big head over the ridge in my pelvic bone, so on my last two contractions, my doctor slid her arms under my tailbone and essentially folded my body in half, pushing her head out. Because of this position, I was only inches away from my baby girl as she made her entrance into the world! I remember just saying, “Whoa! Wow! Oh my gosh, she’s right there!” 

And in just an instant, there she was…big and beautiful and in my arms!

      Elsie Norah Faye Smith arrived on February 25 at 3:55 pm, weighing in at 8 lbs 7 oz and 20.5 inches long. She was born two weeks earlier than we anticipated, but incredibly healthy and such a perfect little blessing! Her birth experience began much differently than I planned, but in the end, we truly were able to have the birth we had prayed for all those months. The next morning, as my mom and I were discussing it, she told me she felt like she was almost at a home birth. Everything was so personal, so intimate. Instead of the sterile, distant hospital birth so often controlled by staff, we were able to actively participate in the process and be truly up close and personal as we welcomed our daughter into the world.

    My recovery has also been a thousand times better than it was with Adelyn. I only had a small 1st degree tear from a controlled, linear episiotomy. I was up walking later that evening (which is 3 weeks sooner than I could say with Adelyn) and have had minimal pain overall. I am so tremendously grateful for a smooth and quick delivery, an excellent doctor and nursing staff, a healthy baby girl, and a fairly easy recovery. I’m also so thankful for the support of my husband and my family and friends who helped during that day and the days to follow. What a gift!

     We are smitten with Miss Elsie. She is the squishiest, snuggliest little girl and it such a joy to be her parents. Adelyn, while a bit apathetic about her baby sister at first, has been fantastic so far. She even woke up this morning saying, “Baby Elsie! Where are you??” It’s so sweet to see them interact and I can’t wait to see their relationship grow over the years!

     And finally, thank you to everyone who has been praying for us along the way. It truly has meant the world to us to know that so many have been interceding on our behalf. God has been gracious to us and we are profoundly grateful. 

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