This post has sat for just over 2 weeks now in my “drafts” folder, with nothing more than the title written… Unlike my other two birth stories, I just haven’t known really where and how to start this one… but girlfriend turned 1 month old yesterday so I’d better just sit down and write SOMETHING before I forget everything and have nothing to write. This will likely be fairly scattered as I tell the story… bear with me. Also, this birth story is MUCH less about blood and poop as my last two stories. This one is much more about the emotional journey through labor, instead of the physical journey.
To those friends who have seen me in person and have asked how long my labor was this time around, I have been telling them “it took about 2 and 1/2 weeks, and 3 hours.” For both of the boys’ labors, once contractions started, there was pretty much no going back. No false contractions or labor starts and stops (though I had many more “leading up to labor contractions with Asher”.) So untrue this time around.
I felt like a first time mom again. “What are they supposed to feel like?! Is this it? Maybe.”
Monday, January 19th was the first night of my two and half week long labor. The boys’ Auntie Angela texted me earlier in the day and asked if she could take the boys out for a date that night. I was already not feeling super hot by mid-day and told her that would be awesome of her! Skyler was also gone that evening, so I sat alone on my couch in the silence of my house wondering, “is it labor time baby?” I had fairly consistent (though mild) contractions about 15 min apart for 2-3 hours but was overall feeling a little out of it and loopy. By the time Angela brought the boys home, I was really feeling awful. My mind and eyes could hardly focus on any one thing. She helped me get the boys to bed and sat in the living room chatting with me until Skyler got home around 10 pm. He took two steps in from the front door, looked at me and asked, “are we having a baby tonight?! You have ‘pregnant eyes’! I’ve only seen those twice before.” We said goodnight to Angela and went to bed, just in case.
Morning rolled around and I had a quiet and calm uterus again. No action. For a few days.
About every 3rd day for the following 2 weeks were the same. We’d call my mom and/or dad up to stay the night at our house, or the boys would get sent to their house for the night because “I think it might be tonight!” …
It was a challenge for me mentally because I anticipated a quick labor (I was my mother’s 3rd child and was an hour and half, and so far I have fairly closely followed suit with her labors). I had to calculate time for my mom to drive up to our house (25 minutes), for Skyler to get home from the hospital and shower if he was working when I went into labor, and for the 35-40 minute drive to the birth center in Aurora. (Which, if you’re calculating, that’s pushing the hour and half mark pretty easily). To say I was nervous of timing is an understatement. It was one of my biggest anxieties for this labor. I’ve had a few friends give car or accidental home births, and while I can appreciate a planned home birth, I was not prepared for it this time around nor did I want a van baby! haha
Every night that contractions would start up, I would walk up and down and all around the hills of our neighborhood. Sometimes for a couple hours. Those nights, leaving the boys soundly sleeping with my mom watching over them, strolling (ok, waddling) the streets hand in hand with Skyler in the chilly dark nights are some of my favorite moments of this pregnancy. We talked life and counted those moments as our “mini dates”. We talked names. Baby was due any minute and we had no names set before us.
I had an inkling that baby was a girl based on how different this pregnancy felt (and how silly of me to think that Asher’s pregnancy felt “so different” than Ezekiel’s. Mild differences, really. THIS pregnancy felt different.). I was so much more sick, baby was held soooo low, I didn’t have heartburn but a handful of times, I wanted all of the chocolate, brownies and cookies that ever existed in the world. My mind couldn’t even barely wrap around the concept of picking out a boys’ name. All I could think of were girls’ names.
With each pregnancy, I have asked God to give me the name of my baby. To guide me in what his/her name should be. I wanted the name to reflect each baby, have the name meaning be meant for them and not just choose a name that sounded nice. With both of the boys, I had the name by week 20ish. I was settled, knowing that would be their name if they were boys. With both pregnancies, if it were a girl, we would have named her Ellery.
This time though, I wasn’t set on Ellery. I didn’t want to use the name as a default, just because it had been our back up name for the past 5 years. I wanted to name this baby what God wanted her to be named. And I prayed, and prayed. And quite literally begged God to give me her name, because good grief God, don’t you know I’m 39 weeks pregnant now and STILL you haven’t given me her name??
Skyler, from the beginning, still would always go back to, “I’ve always liked Ellery.” He liked the other girl names I suggested, but Ellery was his clear favorite.
Eventually, I grew tired of even talking about girl name ideas. In the last two weeks before baby, my mom and best friend were being oh so helpful in always texting me, messaging me or calling me with name suggestions. But nothing seemed right. Again, I wanted to know it was to be her name, and not just find a nice name.
With the inconsistent-consistent contractions, anxieties about timing and anxieties following Asher’s birth complications, I was done and tired and so incredibly uncomfortable. Those last two weeks were about the most miserable time of my life. I never got to that stage of “just wanting to be done” with the boys. This time was so different. I was so ready to be done, yet not. I wasn’t really mentally ready for birth. I had thoughts racing through my mind of Asher’s birth and the fears that we had that Asher had died in labor. Even anxieties about having another colicky baby, another baby who screamed alllllll day and wouldn’t nap. A baby that totally disrupted our family life and made us all crazy. I feared a repeat. I was so not ready to re-live that all again.
While I wanted my baby, I didn’t want labor and the after pains. I didn’t want complications. I didn’t want a screaming baby again. I know my anxieties and fears kept my labor from progressing and ever really starting. As hard as I tried to get to the mental place of being ready and wanting another labor, birth and baby, I just couldn’t get there.
About the 25th of January, I was feeling quite discouraged and miserable (and was incredibly grumpy). I remembered a necklace my sister had given me a couple Christmases ago:
Find Joy in the Journey
I felt that I needed to put this necklace on and not take it off until after baby was born. I knew that I needed this daily reminder. Find Joy in the Journey. Not just the end result, but in the journey too. It was a daily struggle to be finding joy in that uncomfortable, anxiety-ridden phase, but I tried.
On January 26th, I had a midwife appointment. I told them of my anxieties, my fears, my discomfort. Susie (my midwife) checked me and I was at a 3 cm. That was the first instance that I started to get excited about birth. I was starting to feel pretty good about the impending due date on the 31st. “I’m totally going to have 3 January babies,” I thought. “How fun!”
One of my bff’s, Jacki, took me out to frozen yogurt on my birthday, the 28th. She bought me chocolate froyo with all the treats on top that I could have wanted AND let me sit and whine to her about my state of uncomfortableness and ask for prayers for my anxieties and fears. (If you don’t have a bff like that, go get yourself one.) It felt good to just vent (and eat chocolate!) in the company of one of my best girls. Therapeutic.
Later that week on one of my neighborhood night walks, I mindlessly played with the necklace. I was reminded that the name Ellery means “Bringer of Joy”. In an instant, I knew that this was to be our little girl’s name, if baby was indeed a girl. Find JOY in the Journey. Ellery. Bringer of Joy. I finally felt peace about the name and didn’t feel like it was just our backup plan.
My mental stability and patience were running dry as January 31st came and went.
On February 2nd, my mom had had the boys stay the night with her and so I kidlessly headed to my MOPS group. I wasn’t sure I would show up that week, but when I woke up in the quiet house that morning, I felt the need to have some more girl time. I knew it was risky showing up to a group of moms (some with brand new babes!) in the fragile emotional state I was in. Friends gushed to me at how they were so glad I showed up and was there that morning. The waterworks started and I had a good cry fest that morning about how badly I wanted to be un-pregnant, yet… how unready I felt mentally. Another best friend of mine, Claire (who had a brand new babe exactly 1 month old) invited me out to my favorite restaurant French Press with her and her sweet girl Ivory after MOPS. I had no other plans and no children to take care of, so I eagerly said yes. We sat and enjoyed some girl time and I snuggled her baby girl atop of my bump, while feeling and enjoying the soft kicks from inside by belly. Again, therapeudic. Snuggling that sweet baby girl was exactly what my mama heart needed. I could feel myself start to feel more prepared mentally and ready for the birth as my arms and heart started to remember what it felt like to hold a newborn baby.
A week and a half after my last, I showed up to the midwife appointment (on Weds. February 4th) that I thought SURELY I would not be attending without babe in arms, and I tried to put on a happy face. I was nearly convinced baby would be taking up residence inside me permanently, since I wasn’t so sure I would ever fully mentally feel ready for the labor process again. Susie checked me again and I was 90% effaced and at a 5 cm! WHAT?! Ok. Birth was a’coming, ready or not.
Driving home again, I called up my other best girlfriend, Jessica. “Let’s get Thai food tonight! I need Thai and I need to spend time with you!” She willingly accepted my invite and a couple hours later, we were sitting down to some delicious Thai dinner. We had a great time just chatting mindlessly and enjoying each others’ company. At the end of our time together, I smiled and told her, “you know, maybe I just needed to have one last date with all three of my best girls before this baby came!” I started the drive home with my heart full and happy and as ready as I had ever felt to finally give birth. In less than 10 minutes of my 40 minute drive home, my uterus that had been still for the past few days suddenly jumped into gear and I had consistent contractions 8 minutes apart for the remainder of the drive home. When I pulled up at home at 8:30, I called my mom to let her know that (again) I was having consistent contractions and just as a heads up.
Contractions stopped around 9:30 and I decided to head to bed, discouraged again. At 10 pm, my mom called and told me she would feel better about coming up to my house right then instead of a middle of the night phone call to rush up there, just in case. I sighed, didn’t think it would *truly* happen that night, but gave in to make her feel better. “Okay, I’ll go unlock the door and you can come up, but I’m going to bed.”
4:30, I woke up with one very strong contraction. I laid in bed and timed for 1/2 hour. At 5 am, I looked over my timing records and watched the contractions (55-60 sec long) drop from 6 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart in that half hour. I called Susie and she said to head to the birth center.
I woke up Skyler and as he threw the last minute items in our van, I brushed my teeth, put in my contacts, grabbed a cheese stick for the road and woke up mom to tell her we were heading out. She gave me a kiss and told me she loved me and we left our sweet sleeping boys who were unaware that baby was finally ready to come!
Though contractions were down to a minute and a half apart as we left the house about 5:15, the drive up to the birth center was calm and wonderful. The night was still and the stars shone bright. We had some light conversation between contractions and we made it to the birth center by 6 am.
The sun was just starting to lighten the sky. Susie and her two apprentices were there awaiting us with candles lit and the tub full of warm water. I sat on a chair in the birth room for about 20 minutes while they used the doppler to monitor baby, check my pulse and heart rate and ask me how I was doing. Contractions were still quick and steady, but weren’t overwhelming. I would just quiet down and close my eyes every time a contraction came.
At about 6:20, I climbed into the birth tub. I mostly quietly labored through contractions for the next half hour. Finally, contractions really picked up and I got to the place of having to moan through each one. I knew pushing would be just around the corner, since I don’t ever get to the place of moaning through contractions until just before pushing. Within a few minutes, I was needing to push. I had two big pushing contractions where I just laid my head down on my arms, held Skyler’s hands and gave two big pushes without so much as a peep.
I’m not sure which of Susie’s apprentices grabbed my camera and took some photos. While the quality isn’t there, the moment is and for that I am forever thankful.
I love the smile on Susie’s face on this one. She sure pours her heart into women and births and you can tell she just loves what she does.
I remember thinking, “oh wow. I wonder if this birth will be one of those quiet, calm births you hear about!” With the boys, I “roared like a lion” – more of a deep gutteral yelling. I could totally get on board with one of those quiet “zen” births!
And then. Then it happened. I got one pushing contraction after another and without a moment to realize what was happening, I started screaming. Or, as Skyler would put it, “blood-curdling screaming”. I have been calling it my “girlfriends on a roller coaster” scream.
As soon as I let it out I thought, “oh no. Skyler’s gotta be hating this. (He has super sensitive ears). I’ll try to do more of the lion-roar for his sake.” The next contraction, I started low… Which lasted all of about 2 seconds before going right back where it was at the roller coaster scream pitch. There wasn’t a darn thing I could do about it.
I later learned that Skyler was literally scared for my life because he had never heard me scream in that way. If you get the chance, ask him about it – his prospective on it is quite humorous. Things he has said about it: “I thought you were ripping open from the inside.” … “I was about to turn around and look for a man that must have been standing behind me with a big knife.” “I thought the midwife was going to tell me, ‘look, here’s your baby!!! … and your wife is dead.'”
15 minutes of screaming and pushing, and out popped (in what was the easiest delivery yet – despite my “death screams” ;)) a bright eyed babe at 7:25 am on February 5th. Baby was handed to me and I sat back in the tub to catch my breath and admire all the wrinkly fingers and toes.
Soo blurry, but oh, I love this one.
Baby was covered in a pink blanket to keep warm and after about 10 minutes, I turned to Skyler, smiled and said, “well, shall we see if it’s a boy or girl?!” A quick check confirmed what I had felt in my heart – a sweet baby girl. A girl all of my own.
“Ellery,” we said. “Her name is Ellery.” A middle name was not yet decided, but we knew we had Ellery.
I got cleaned up and helped out of the tub and over to the bed. We climbed in for a snugglefest with the newest Anderson. I was so thankful to have had just a very small tear this time and not needed any stitches, unlike the last two times.
We called the boys and my mom to let them know that Baby Girl was born and then we enjoyed a hearty and wonderful breakfast and admiring our little sweetheart for a few hours before the boys were brought up to meet their sister.
Ellery had let go of a huge poop just moments after birth (on daddy, HA!), and so when my midwife weighed her shortly after, she weighed in at 8 lb 7 oz, but Susie added a few ounces back to her weight to account for the poop – so her “official” birth weight is 8 lb 10 oz. An even 20 inches long. And a 13.5″ head.
Blurry phone photos:
While we ate breakfast, we talked middle name. I had a number of names I liked, but couldn’t decide. I looked at Skyler and told him, “ok daddy. This is your decision. You choose the middle name.” And daddy decided on June. I love the name June and actually was really considering it for a first name, but never fully felt that it was right. But Ellery June. I love it. June is my mother’s first name, as well as the month we learned we were pregnant with her.
Family came to visit, and suddenly, our lives were taken over with PINK!
Skyler and I were able to enjoy 2 and 1/2 lovely days at the birth center being completely cared for, amazing meals made for us and had some quiet snuggle time with our little girl and some serious Netflix marathons while the boys were cared for by my parents.
I had (easily) the best recovery after this birth than after the first two and a much easier transition from 2-3 kids than from 1-2. Being a mom of 3 has been such a joy! As my friend who had her 3rd baby told me a few months back, “It’s so much easier to be a mom of 3 kids, than 2 kids and a huge belly!”
LOVE my family of 5 and the quick jump into the vast world of pink!