Elijah’s birth story
Elijah’s birth story
Baby Elijah is now over 5 months old and I’m just sitting down to write this story now. I wanted to make sure to take the time to write it though because the day Elijah arrived was one of the best days of my life – right up there with the day Maddie arrived as well as the day Jad and I got married.
The weeks leading up to Elijah’s arrival had been quite difficult as I had a flare up a chronic illness I have been dealing with for a few years now and was pretty much bed ridden for three weeks. Jad tirelessly took care of Maddie and I, while all of my other responsibilities had to be pushed aside. After three weeks, I finally started to feel better and started to get back to regular life.
Perhaps as a result of me being ill and Jad being absolutely exhausted, we sort of fell into this habit of plopping in front of the TV and having snacks every night after we put Maddie to sleep. We were on the last season of White Collar. This routine continued after I started feeling better.
I had been better for about a week when one night I mentioned to Jad that it sort of felt like my water broke and that it was possible I could be going into labor. I didn’t feel that “gush” you hear about, so I wasn’t sure if it was my water breaking or something else. Also, I was only 36 weeks pregnant (of 40), so I wasn’t really expecting baby for another month. Anyhow, I went to bed, and later on that night at around 3am I woke up to go to the washroom and found that the bed sheets under me were completely soaked.
I woke up Jad to tell him. I think he must have been in denial because he just rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. So I called my midwife to tell her. She told me it definitely sounded like my water breaking and that I should get to the hospital to be checked. She also said that while I did need to get to the hospital, I could take my time getting showered and packing our hospital bags (no, they were not packed yet!).
We got ourselves ready (after Jad finally accepted that this was happening!) and at about 5:00am we went to wake up his parents, who were living with us at the time. My favorite reaction was my FIL, who immediately thought that pipes in the house were bursting when we told him that my water broke. We were so grateful to be able to leave Maddie sleeping, and headed to the hospital.
Our midwife met us at the hospital and after checking me, confirmed that my water did indeed break. Given that I was technically pre-term (albeit by only 4 days), and that they did not yet know if I was strep-B positive, she and the OB on duty both agreed that it was necessary to induce. This was a disappointment to me, as I had been induced with my daughter and found it to be a very difficult experience. I also had still not wrapped my mind around the fact that I was really going to have my baby a month ahead of time. I simply was not in the mind space for it, and had not yet finished preparing for baby boy’s arrival. The midwife told us we could take some time to go for a walk (to potentially get labor going without an induction). She asked us to be back in two hours (at 9:30am). So we went for a walk around the neighbourhood, and I tried to prepare myself for what was ahead. My mother-in-law happens to work in the hospital where we were giving birth, so after our walk, we met her, Maddie and my father-in-law for a coffee (Maddie and my FIL had come to drop my MIL off at work). When we were about to head upstairs for the induction, I gave Maddie a big hug and told her that her a baby brother would be coming today and that I was headed upstairs and was going to “push” him out. She asked if she could help, and gave my belly a little push. Too funny.
We headed upstairs and got ourselves checked into a room. Jad ran down to grab some breakfast, and I had a moment to myself in the room. I put on some music, and read over some notes and quotes about labor that I had saved on my phone. I was finally getting to a place where I felt like I could be prepared to go through labor that day. My attitude going into labor was that I wanted to try to get through it with as little medical intervention as possible. If intervention was required, then so be it, but if we could get there without it, then all the better. I started from the basic tenet that childbirth is a normal, natural and healthy function for women. Prior to M being born, I had read a lot about the connection between mind and body during the birthing process and was determined to be in a my calm zone prior to starting. Having a few minutes alone before the induction allowed me to get myself there.
The nurse came back and we started to prepare for the induction. I had one IV for the petocin drip (for the induction) and another one for the antibiotic used to prevent an infection from strep B. Since they didn’t know whether or not I was strep B positive, they had to give me the antibiotic just in case. Once we were all set up (around 10:30 am), it was just a matter of waiting until the contraction started. This is around the time our photographer arrived. Maddie’s birth was such a special experience for me, that I decided I wanted to document this birth experience in a little more detail. (Credit for the photos in this post go to Grace Goodridge).
I started to feel contractions only after about an hour, and at that point, they were not very strong. In fact, I remember calling my dad during one of my contractions to let him know that baby boy was on his way. Active labor started at about 12:45 or 1pm. At this point, things became more serious. No more calls to dad, and no more conversation in the room. Jad put on some calming music and closed some of the curtains to make the lighting a bit more dim. I once read that “the birthing environment should have the same respect and calm as a place of worship. Great or humble, the decorum and protcol surrounding the birth of each and every baby should be conducted in a manner of reverence” (Hypnobirthing book). This quote spoke to me as I believe that birth is a truly sacred and miraculous event.
As with Maddie, I had back labor which made things very intense and painful. I was blessed to have Jad and an amazing nurse to support me (our midwife had left and said she would return when I was closer to being ready to push). I tried to labor for as long as possible in the hospital room and when things became extra intense, I moved to the bath. It turned out to be only about 3 contractions in the bath before I felt the urge to push.
Prior to this labor, I had contemplated a water birth, but had not had enough time to research it as much as I would have wanted. I wondered in that moment whether I should try to give birth in the water, but having not been sure about it, I got out of the bath and onto the bed.
I also was not sure which position would be best for pushing the baby out, so decided on the position I had used most to get through my contractions – on my knees, with my arms draped over the bed post – back to the nurse, Jad, and our midwife (who had actually just walked in!). This was an interesting experience because I could hear their voices giving me instructions/cheering me on, but could not see any of their facial expressions during the process.
I told our midwife I was ready to push, and probably about 5 minutes later, Elijah was out! Our midwife caught him as I turned around, she handed him to me. Elijah James was born at 2:02pm – less than an hour and a half after active labor started! I was exhausted from a quick but intense labor, but thankful for and moved by the arrival of our baby boy.
The next few hours (except for the stitching), were absolute bliss. I was thrilled beyond belief to be holding our son, and just could not stop smiling (the adrenaline probably helped with that). We took a few hours to all that needed to be done, and then called our families to share the news.
Elijah was born in Ottawa, so unfortunately no one from my side of the family was there to come to the hospital, but Jad’s parents came, along with Maddie and some Thai food for us.
We were so excited to introduce Elijah to his big sister and his grandparents. The first meeting of the siblings did not go as well as planned because when we told Maddie her brother’s name, her first reaction was: “but I wanted to name him Baby Dada”. We told her she could still call him that, and she seemed ok with that.
We ate some thai food and all shared in the joy of the new little addition to our family. We spent that night at the hospital and then came home the next day to begin life as a family of four.