December 24, 2011


December 22, 2011

Elie’s Birth–The Conclusion

We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
~Laura Stavoe Harm

Following the news that I was nearly 10cm dilated, Amy, Josh and I all enjoyed a HUGE sigh of relief followed by a flurry of excitement.  We had done it!  In just 3 hours!  I didn’t hesitate to ask to have my midwife break my water in order to deliver quickly.  (Although now I wonder how amazing it would have been to try to deliver en caul!) The first contraction I had to endure laying in the bed was excruciating.  I lost all ability to cope in this passive position and felt as if I was being absolutely run over by a train with each subsequent contraction.  Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed that I also felt like I couldn’t move out of the bed.  Every movement hurt and every contraction tore me apart.

My midwife, Merilynn came a few moments later and broke my water.  She let me know that I could push whenever I felt like it and stepped back.  (Both physically to do some preparations and symbolically to allow me to deliver how I wanted).  With the next contraction I was so overwhelmed with intensity that I knew I needed to push to be finished.  I pushed once and the baby moved down so much that we all realized that this was going to happen NOW!  (Poor Amy!  This all happened so quickly, 9cm, water broken, pushing, that we only have a couple of photos of labor!)  Merilynn quickly put on a glove, suggested I lay on my side (how I wanted to deliver) and with the next contraction she caught our beautiful daughter!

(Eliana Adah 7lbs 15oz 20 in born at 536am 9/9/11)


Answering a few questions:

–Why did you choose to deliver in the hospital if you didn’t want any intervention?

As a labor and delivery nurse I have two conflicting viewpoints.  One, that labor and delivery are normal processes that don’t need to be “treated” or medicalized.  And two, that when labor and delivery take a turn for the worse, you need medical intervention fast!  I have seen both countless times.  A vast majority of low or no-intervention deliveries are beautiful and perfect, needing little to no assistance.  But on the rare occasion that something unforeseen complicates a delivery, there is no time for delay.  I chose the care of midwives during this pregnancy because I knew they would support my desire for an intervention-less, unmedicated labor and delivery.  (I did not have an IV, the nurse occasionally dopplered the baby’s heart rate and therefore I was not connected to a monitor during labor, I was able to move about freely and make choices about when I wanted to be checked, etc).  The group of midwives I saw delivered in a hospital setting that offered these options similar to a birthing center (I’m also a big fan of!).  For me it was the perfect match.  Choosing the right care provider and birth setting are among the most important considerations during pregnancy.  I’ve found that the most beautiful births I’ve been a part of are a setting THE MOTHER feels safe and comfortable in.  For many this is a hospital or birthing center, for others it is the home.

“Having a highly trained obstetrical surgeon attend a normal birth is analogous to having a pediatric surgeon babysit a healthy 2-year-old.” ~ M. Wagner

–What other baby names did you have in mind?

Eliona, Eliani, Isla, Harper, Noel(middle name)

–What does Eliana go by?

Elie, Ells, Elie-Bop, Ellsworth, Elie-Belly, Ells Bells


December 21, 2011

Elie’s Birth–Part 4

Amy and Josh, having both attended to me during my labor and delivery with August, were a seamless doula team. (I’m a firm believer that no unmedicated woman should deliver without a doula!)  They offered timely suggestions and used relaxation and encouragement techniques that worked unbelievably well.  Amy offered comfort and support to both Josh and me.  Josh used his “counting backward” technique he is so proud of and it worked as well this time as it did last.  They were where I needed them when I needed them and I barely needed to communicate with them at all.  It was a surprisingly quiet and smooth labor.  We listened to my Hypno-birthing CD, walked the halls a little, used the birthing ball at the bedside, leaned forward on the bed and swayed during contractions, and (is this getting old yet?) labored on hands and knees.  I truly believe that all of the leaning forward to let my belly hang and resting in hands and knees allowed Elie to rotate into the perfect position.

The Rebozo Sifting was probably the most surprisingly helpful tool we had.   Unlike my labor with August during which each contraction would begin and slowly build in intensity before releasing, these contractions were like a freight train.  They came on with such an extreme intensity, peaking immediately rocking the core of my body before releasing.  It was much more challenging this time to not fight the contractions when it felt like they hit with such an unbelievable force.


By 5am I was beginning to lose my composure, I felt unable to “ride the wave” of each contraction without fighting back and my body began to shake uncontrollably.  I knew this must be transition.  I asked to be checked again because I knew that I needed some measure by which to pace myself and if I wasn’t near to delivery I was going to die.  (And now after my two deliveries I know that the feeling of imminent death means delivery will happen soon!)  I got in the bed and nurse checked and, shocked, told me I was 9cm dilated and my bag of water was bulging.


(Although I’m sure Amy didn’t intend to use these photo “special effects” in the last picture, I do think they are strangely representative of how things feel right before you deliver a baby!)

(to be continued)

December 19, 2011

Today I am encouraged by these two things:

CNN’s Hero of the Year is a midwife!

This fantastic report on the state of maternal health worldwide

December 14, 2011

Elie’s Birth–Part 3

(12 hours before Elie was born)

I had recently read about a labor technique called Rebozo Sifting and was curious to try it out.  Josh and Amy took my Maya wrap (baby sling) apart and used it to wrap around my belly while holding both ends of it behind me.  Between contractions while I leaned forward or resting on hands and knees, they would pull on the ends of the wrap and gently rock or “sift” my belly.  This took much of the weight of my belly off and helped me to fully relax between contractions.

By midnight I felt that in order to avoid fulfilling my dream of delivering my baby on the way to the hospital, we needed to leave soon.  We called our friend Paula to come stay with August.  (Sweet Paula showed up at our door with a smile on her face in the middle of the night!)  Dreading the 20 minute car ride to the hospital, we armed ourselves with hot packs and a birthing ball in the backseat.  Overall the ride wasn’t awful as I was able to rock back-and-forth and breathe through my contractions knowing it would be just a few I needed to get through this way.

At the hospital the nurse spent a few minutes monitoring my baby and checked me.   It was almost 2am and she seemed disappointed to inform me that I was still just 2-3cm dilated.  In fact, she encouraged me to consider going back home for a few hours.  (Which I DO usually consider to be a great suggestion for women in early labor!).  Luckily I was undeterred by this report and knew without doubt that this was labor and I would have a baby soon.  Looking back, I feel like my body was waiting until I arrived at the hospital (and felt safe under the care of my midwife and comfortable knowing August was in good hands) to fully give in to labor and allow things to progress.

(to be continued)