As summer is coming to an end I am attempting to tie up some loose ends. At the beginning of the summer I told you about how Eliza Rose was born, a simplified version. But one of the things I really wanted to do before summer was over was to write out a detailed birth story. I originally wanted to do it to share with her someday when she was older, but as I wrote it I realized how special and therapeutic it was for me as well.
So, be forewarned: this is SUPER long, but if you're up for some reading, enjoy!
Eliza Rose Swift was born on May 22nd at 7:27am. She weighed 6 lbs 10 oz and was 19 inches long. She was born in the presence of her Mama, Daddy, Grandma Gigi, our doula, Emily, two nurses and one doctor.
She was beautiful and precious and small. My love for her was instant and unconditional and greater than I even imagined.
Eliza Rose’s Birth Story
The day before Eliza was born was full. I was feeling every bit of 38 weeks; tired, huge and ready to meet her. I worked a full day at school, followed by an appointment with our OB. At the appointment my OB told me that I was 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced, an improvement from the week before which was 1 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I didn’t ask her (because I didn’t want to be disappointed) but she told me anyway.
“All it means is you could go into labor tonight or you could go into labor 2 weeks from now.” Which meant nothing. She was trying to help me stay patient.
After our appointment Mr. Christopher and I treated ourselves to Chipotle. On the way there Chris said, “Who knows how many more dinners out we will have by ourselves… this could be our last one.”
I ate a vegetarian burrito bowl. I had no idea I’d be seeing that burrito bowl later in a different form.
After dinner we went straight to a graduation party for our pastor’s daughter. By this time I was starting to feel super tired. I left the house that morning at 6:30am and it was already 6:30pm. Pre-pregnancy Aimee could handle long days like that. Pregnant Aimee couldn’t. Around 7:00pm I told Chris that I was feeling pretty sleepy… and I still wanted to walk that night, a daily ritual we had started weeks before to try to get me ready for labor. So a little after 7pm we said goodbye to our friends and headed out.
As soon as we got home we went on a walk. We had two walks we had established in those few weeks we had been walking together. Walk #1 was the “long walk.” This walk was about one mile long and was a pretty good workout for me. Walk #2 was the “short walk.” It was about half a mile and was saved for the days I was super tired.
During these daily walks we established a routine. I would come home from work, we would grab Honey and we would head out. As we walked the same paths we ran into the same neighbors day after day. At first we would just wave or smile to the neighbors. Slowly they began to make comments like “Anyday now!” or on Mother’s Day I was greeted with a “Happy Mother’s Day to you!” It was really sweet to get to know our neighbors a little more in this way.
One day earlier in the week I stayed late at school for a graduation ceremony. Chris still took Honey for a walk during our normal time and our neighbors even asked about me. “Did she have her baby?” they asked him. “No,” he told them, “...just a long night at work.” That was Tuesday May 20th.
On this Wednesday night we started out walking the “short walk.” I knew I was tired but I was determined to walk. Unfortunately, as soon as we started I knew I wouldn’t even be able to handle the “short walk.” Pretty quickly into it I asked Chris if we could change routes. We decided to get some exercise for Honey, he would run the “short walk” with her and I would do the newly created “even shorter walk” and we would meet at the end. He ran, I walked and we met at the finish. I was pooped.
The next few hours I was pretty lazy. I napped on the couch to the sound of the television while Chris worked on some other things. He made some plans for the following day. At around 9pm I was ready for bed, but I remembered what my doula had told me earlier that day to “move my hips around.” So from 9:00 to 9:30pm I bounced on my yoga ball hoping to get something going.
I went to bed around 10:00pm.
Labor and Delivery
At 11:53pm I woke up to my first contraction. I had been having braxton hicks contractions for the previous few months and I had most of them at night, so it was not unfamiliar. However, this time the contraction was more intense. I curled up on my bed and endured it until it was over. I said something to Chris (who somewhat woke up to listen) and went back to bed. I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
Ten minutes later I woke up to another contraction. It was so intense I couldn’t do anything else but endure.
Once it was finished I stirred Chris and told him I was having another contraction. I wanted to start tracking the contractions with my contraction app but because of the pain wasn’t able to do it on my own. I asked Chris if he could record them for me if he continued. He agreed and I went back to sleep.
Ten minutes later it happened again. At this point I was in so much pain I started to move around. We had decided the week before a couple of positions that I wanted to labor in when the time came. One was sitting on the toilet, so I quickly made my way to the bathroom and waited.
For the next hour my contractions became shorter and shorter. I remember at one point Chris asking me if maybe I just had an upset stomach from the Chipotle I ate. I think I said something to the effect of, “I don’t think this is an upset stomach, Chris.” But that kind of shows our thinking. We weren’t convinced it was labor. It was two weeks early!
By 1:30 am we called our doula. Chris told her that we weren’t positive if I was in active labor but that we’d like her to come by. Emily got to our home around 2:00 am. At this point I was having contractions every 6 minutes. We had moved upstairs. I was laboring on my yoga ball leaning over on the bed. I was using the low moan noises I had been taught in all of our birthing classes and taking relaxing breaks in between each contraction. By 2:20 am my contractions jumped to 3 minutes apart.
For the next hour or so we changed different laboring positions. I was determined to labor at home as long as possible in order to avoid any interventions at the hospital. We tried a couple different things. I tried laboring on the toilet, which was super painful because of the intense pressure on my bottom. I labored in the shower on my hands and knees while Chris rubbed my back until we ran out of hot water. I labored in my Papa’s rocking chair, resting in the chair in between contractions and leaning over a footstool swaying my hips during the contractions. I threw up a ton. I low moaned even more. And I hurt like crazy.
It’s amazing what a woman’s body can do in labor. My contractions were so close together at certain points, yet I remember going into such a deep, relaxed sleep between the contractions. So much so that at one time I wanted to ask Chris a question, but I think it actually took me around 30 minutes to have the energy to even ask him the question.
At one point I asked Emily if I was in labor. (I still wasn’t convinced)! She kind of laughed at me and said, “Yes, you are in labor. You are going to have a baby today!” I remember thinking that and trying to think of the date. I was so happy to have a May baby. I wanted a May baby. I dreamt (and wanted) that she came two weeks early. I was so excited; yet, the pain was so intense, so much more than I had ever experienced. That was all I could focus on: laboring through the pain.
At 2:50 am Chris called my mom. I wanted my mom to be in the room, but I didn’t want to call her to drive through the night if it wasn’t necessary. We had decided beforehand that we would wait until the last minute to let her know she could come up. As soon as Emily confirmed I was in labor he let her know. My mom very quickly began the trek from Rolla to Columbia.
Around 4:00 am my contractions were becoming more intense. The time was passing so quickly. Chris asked Emily if it was getting close to time to go to the hospital. I listened. Knowing my mom was about an hour away, Emily asked if we could make it a goal to wait until my Mom got to the house to go to the hospital. A goal. I needed a goal. I agreed and continued to labor.
In the next 40 minutes my contractions moved to every 2 minutes, and I had a bloody show. At that point Emily decided it was best if we went ahead and went to the hospital. My mom could meet us there. I didn’t ask, but I knew that I must be progressing rapidly if that was Emily’s suggestion. I was excited but still couldn’t even think about the excitement.
Chris started packing up the car. In between contractions I would remind him of things to grab. Thankfully I already had my bag packed, but there were a few things here and there. (On a side note: I am pretty sure he packed his bag at this point even though I had been telling him for a week or so to pack his bag. That’s okay though. I forgive him).
At 5:00 am we headed to the car. Honey had been downstairs while I labored upstairs. I’m sure she had been wondering what the heck was going on, why we weren’t in bed and why (oh, why?) was she not allowed to be upstairs with us. (The dog is with us every waking moment we are home). So, as soon as we headed downstairs and out the door she was very excited. So much so that when we walked out the door to head to the hospital she darted out between Chris and I and somehow managed to jump into the car right into the passenger seat.
So instead of going straight to the car, I labored on the side of the car in my front yard for a few contractions with Emily while Chris corralled our 85 lb dog out of the car and back in the house.
Once we got in the car, the drive to the hospital took about 5 minutes. It may have been the longest 5 minutes of the whole labor. I leaned forward on the dashboard the entire time. Because it was so early, we went in through the emergency entrance. I labored in the lobby for a contraction, then hobbled to a wheelchair. Emily followed me while Chris parked the car.
The only negative experience of the entire labor happened when we arrived at the main desk of labor and delivery. I’m going to assume the nurse at the desk was having the world’s worst night and leave it at that.
Slowly but surely we got checked into a room and the nurse determined I was already dilated to 6 cm. Although I didn’t react, in my head I was super excited because my goal was to not go to the hospital until I was at least 6 cm dilated. Mission accomplished.
The next 2 hours blurred together. At one point the nurse tried to put in my IV. (At Boone Hospital it is standard procedure to put in an IV just in case something were to happen). Thankfully I don’t remember most of this (because the contractions were so painful), but apparently the nurse tried to put in an IV two times on one hand and blew both. Then she called in a veteran nurse who blew another IV in the other hand. At that point they realized that because I was laboring bent over the bed on my hands I was putting so much pressure on my hands, which was leading to the previous 3 IVs being blown. That’s when they asked me to stand during my next contraction and finally got my IV in. According to Emily, that entire process took over 10 minutes but the only thing I remember is seeing blood running down my arms.
I labored on my hands and knees in the hospital bed and standing on the side of the bed. The contractions at the hospital were the most intense contractions of all. I peed on the floor. I cried a little. I didn’t think I could do it, but Chris and Emily encouraged me a ton.
Sometime at the hospital my mom arrived and started sending out texts to family to let them know what was going on. She would send a text and immediately would have to update it because I was progressing so quickly.
Within thirty minutes of arriving I was dilated to 8 cm and after another 30 minutes I was dilated to 9cm. Getting from 9cm to 10cm felt like the longest amount of time. During this time I said things like “Can’t I just push?” and “Can I get this baby out?!” In my head I thought, “Now I know why some people don’t want to have babies!” and “Next time we should just adopt.”
At some point during that time too I (for some reason) felt that it was so necessary that I be wearing a headband. I remember back months before this morning when I had thought to myself that I must have a headband to wear, because I was sure I would look a hot mess after delivering our baby girl but I knew there would be pictures taken. So I had decided that a headband was a quick fix for my fear of looking horrible. Unfortunately though when we made it to the hospital, the headband was left in the car. So while I was laboring on my hands and knees in the bed, I asked Mr. Christopher to go to the car and get my headband. I think he was a little baffled by my request, but he obliged. Funny thing is that in the time that he brought it back and put it on my head to the time when Eliza was born the headband was lost and never found.
Needless to say, I survived the photo session.
Somewhere around 7am they broke my water. I remember feeling an amazing break from the pressure. Around that time the doctor checked me and said I was dilated to 10 cm and ready to push. I pushed for 5 contractions with Christopher, my mom and Emily by my side. For the first time since midnight, I actually felt so good while pushing. In the 4th contraction her head crowned and in the 5th contraction and after 15 pushes our little Eliza Rose came out super fast.
Oddly enough her umbilical cord was so short that they weren’t able to put her on my chest immediately, so I leaned forward and held her close to me. After a few minutes Chris cut the cord and I got to hold her in my arms.
In the next hour or so Eliza nursed for the first time, got her first bath, was held by her mommy, daddy and Grandma Gigi.
When I think back to that morning it makes me feel the most at home I have ever felt in my entire life. There in that hospital room with my baby girl, surrounded by Mr. Christopher, my momma and our doula I felt the most content I have felt in my entire life. If I could save that moment and return, I would do so daily. It was so beautiful. I felt so beautiful. She was so beautiful. Everything was beautiful. I loved her. I loved Chris. I loved my mom and Emily and the nurses and the room and the warm blankets and the care I received and all of the above.
The hormones may have had a little to do with this.
Everything was perfect. I have never felt that content in my entire life.
And honestly, those feelings and thoughts continued for the next two days.
In those next two days I learned how to hold my baby, change her diaper, swaddle her while sleeping, keep her warm, kiss her cheeks. I learned how to nurse her! Nursing was the most amazing thing I had ever experienced! I watched my momma be a Grandma to my baby girl. I watched our family and friends come in and out of the room and swoon over this little tiny creature that stole my heart, that stole her Daddy’s heart. She stole all of our hearts and I could have died the most happy I have ever been in my entire life.
And there you have it.
The story of how Miss Eliza Rose entered this world. I pray I never forget. And if I do I will go to aimeeeeeeeee dot blogspot dot com to remember!