Since the day Ella came into this world, we’ve been asked about the birth – the most popular question: “Didn’t it hurt?” So we decided to write the story, from both of our points of view. So here it is (first from Julia, then from Adam), we hope you enjoy…
From the time I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to have a natural childbirth if at all possible and labor at home as long as I could. I’m not one for pain, and most of my friends and family know this so it was a little shocking when I told them my wishes. For the 9 months I was pregnant, I read as much as I could about it, watched as many videos on the computer about it, talked to as many women as I could who had gone through it and continued to pray daily about it. Every night when I got up to use the restroom (which was many, many times) I would imagine my birth day and just pray that God would be with me….that’s all I could ask for.
On February 17, 2011 Adam and I went to my last appointment with Dr. Erin Yu. On this day, she said we needed to talk about “getting this baby out”. I was adamant about not being induced, but she didn’t want me to go past 40 weeks because my blood pressure had been slightly elevated during the last few months. All of the info I had read about induction, scared me. Most of the time it was a very long day and many times it ended in cesarean anyway. I truly believed when Ella was ready she’d come! Dr. Yu checked me and said I was 80% effaced (thinned out) and 2 cm dilated. This was all good, but she wanted to go ahead and schedule an induction. We all 3 agreed on the following Tuesday (2/22/2011). I immediately came home and sent an email to friends telling them I was scheduled to be induced and was willing to try anything to put myself into labor. My childhood friend, Kristen Baker sent me a recipe for eggplant parmesan from a restaurant in Georgia that is known for women going into labor within 48 hours after eating this. I ran out to the store the next day, bought all the ingredients and made this recipe. I had it for dinner Friday night (2/18) and for lunch on Saturday (2/19), my due date.
February 19, 2011 (my due date): Adam and I got up this Saturday morning and I really didn’t feel any different except for the occasional mild contraction that had had since the previous afternoon. We called Gaylea, our doula and told her how I was feeling (a few contractions and some very mild bloody discharge). She thought that was from my exam a few days prior. Her advice was to stay very active today and drink raspberry tea. Adam and I decided we’d go to the gym and I’d walk and then we’d get some tea at Wal-Mart. Well, the day went on and we didn’t do anything. I layed around most of the day and just didn’t feel like doing much. I did take a shower around 4pm and noticed that I was having very irregular contractions. They were coming and going from 5-12 minutes apart. About 6:00pm they were still happening and I let Adam know. He began to track them and I’d tell him when they started and when they ended. They were still very irregular. Shortly after that, they started to get stronger and closer together. Adam was still tracking them but no longer had to wait for me to tell him they were starting or stopping. Adam contacted Gaylea and she told us to go get dinner, take some Nyquil and go to bed. I began to get ready to go eat and quickly realized there was no way I was leaving the house. By 7pm my contractions were 3-5 minutes apart. This is when I began to think this may be it!! I don’t remember much from this point except sitting in the chair in our bedroom and going back and forth to the bathroom. I remember asking Adam if Gaylea was coming. By this time my contractions were much stronger, longer and closer together. He said she was on her way and she arrived shortly after, about 9:00 PM. When she came into our bedroom, I breathed a sigh of relief. Sometime around that time I stood up from the chair and realized my water was breaking. The 3 of us stayed in our bedroom the whole time, lights off, soft music playing and no one talking. I even kept my eyes closed the entire time. A lot of the time, I sat Indian style on the bathroom floor, which I found to be the best position. I hated laying down in the bed. I tried it a couple of times, but the contractions were so much more intense there. Every time I’d have one, I’d squeeze Adam’s hand or arm. During a contraction while I was sitting Indian style, I began to squeeze my legs as hard as I could and it felt great! No more squeezing Adam during contractions. I did a lot of breathing in my nose and exhaling through my mouth. The neat thing is that as soon as the contraction was over, I felt fine. But soon after, another one would start. Adam was with me during the entire time. I couldn’t tell that he was nervous or scared at all. I remember many times him whispering in my ear that I was doing so well and how proud he was of me. Oh how that helped me get through each contraction!
I sipped on water during my labor and ate some yogurt (I had not really eaten since lunch that day). Since my water had started to break I could tell the contractions were getting more intense. I’d go to the bathroom and when I’d try to stand up I couldn’t because the contraction would be so intense when I tried to stand. During one of my bathroom breaks I remember noticing that my body felt different. The contractions felt different and I really felt the urge to push. I just couldn’t help it and I was grunting and moaning from deep, deep down. It even sounded strange to me, so I can only imagine how it sounded to Adam and Gaylea. At this point, around 3:00 AM, Gaylea felt like maybe we didn’t have enough time to make it to Centennial Hospital and maybe we should go to Hendersonville Hospital which is a mile or so away. I didn’t say much but this made me nervous. I didn’t want to go to Hendersonville, but definitely wanted to do what was best for us! We headed to the car and Adam decided we’d drive toward Centennial and stop at Skyline if we couldn’t make it (that hospital is halfway between our house and Centennial). I was dreading the car ride because I had heard from many women how bad it was. We left the house about 3:30 AM and I continued to keep my eyes closed and didn’t say anything. Before I knew it we were there. Hallelujah, we made it!!
Adam drove to the main hospital ER instead of the maternity area that we were told to come to when we preregistered. I guess he was nervous. It was very early morning and not many people around when we pulled up to the valet area at the ER. I remember a young guy came to the car and Adam said I was in labor and he rushed to get a wheelchair. The next thing I remember I was being pushed, very fast down hallways and put in an elevator. I was taken to the OB ER to get checked out. The nurse said she would check me to see how far along I was…I couldn’t believe it when she said I was 10 cm dilated and ready to push!! I had made it! I kept dreading the transition part of labor and was thrilled that I had already been through it and didn’t even realize it. I had heard it was so painful and I still had not really felt anything that was “so painful”. It sure was a relief to know it was almost over and we’d be meeting our precious little girl. The nurses were getting everything ready and we were waiting on the doctor to arrive. With it being a Sunday morning, we had the doctor on call for Dr. Yu’s office, Eileen Cassidy deliver.
Now it was time to push. This was actually one of the parts that I thought would be awful. How in the world was a 7 lb baby going to come out of such a small area??? But when the time came, it wasn’t the worst part at all. It actually was the easiest. It just felt like I had a big, very big poop on its way out! I pushed for what seemed like a short time and then I heard Dr. Cassidy say she was going to check on another patient and she’d be back. I pushed and pushed and pushed, but still no baby. Adam and Gaylea were right there with me along with some wonderful nurses! Someone got a sheet and tied it to a birthing bar on the bed and asked me to grab a hold of it during my next contraction. I did and it helped so much! I could feel myself making progress each time. The neat thing about no epidural is that I knew when to push; I didn’t need to wait until the nurses said, ok now push! I heard one of the sweet nurses tell another one to go ahead and get Dr. Cassidy because she only has a few more pushes and the baby will be here. Oh this made me happy to hear!! Only a few more pushes…this is great!!
When Dr. Cassidy came back, I felt the burning sensation (the ring of fire I had read about) and knew she’d be born any minute. The books I read told me that you’d feel that right before the baby crowns. With my next contraction, everyone was encouraging me and I knew it was so close. And then she was born…little Ella Kate Wray had finally decided it was time to meet her mommy and daddy. She was beautiful and the nurses immediately said she resembled her daddy.
I couldn’t believe I had done it!! After 12 hours of labor and no drugs, I had a baby! I always knew I’d try it but was scared that I wasn’t strong enough to do it. Giving birth was not at all like you would imagine or w hat the TV shows portray. I never once screamed out or acted crazy like you see women do. It was uncomfortable at times, but with support from Adam and our doula, Gaylea and the wonderful nurses it was a great experience and I’d definitely do it again!!
After hearing Dr. Yu suggest that we induce on Friday (1 day prior to Ella’s due day), I was disappointed to say the least. After all, why should it be up to anyone but Ella when she should make her grand entrance, with no apparent health issues that would suggest otherwise? We discussed it and with her being off the next few days, settled on Tuesday, 2/22/11. This was a major victory for us because it meant we had nearly a week to “encourage” her to come out on her own.
Saturday, 2/19/11: Julia had felt mild contractions sporadically throughout the day but by 4:00 PM, they were getting more regular so she started jotting them down. We spoke to Gaylea and she advised us that this could be it…or just false labor. She suggested we go to dinner and resume logging contractions around 8:00 PM.
By 7:00 PM, they were much stronger and closer together. I gave up on writing them down and downloaded an app to my BlackBerry that kept the info. It was also no longer necessary for Julia to let me know when a contraction would start and stop, as it was now obvious. Contractions were between 3 – 5 minutes apart and no sign of slowing down or stopping. I definitely got concerned when the app would display a warning message when the contraction would stop that read, “GO TO THE HOSPITAL!”
I had been texting Gaylea for most of the evening and she offered great encouragement, but by 8:30 PM, I told her it was time to get over here. Julia now had a fever of just over 100 degrees and Gaylea suggested she take Nyquil to both ease it and put her to sleep, but she vomited it up shortly after taking it. Needless to say, I was extremely relieved when she arrived around 9:00 PM.
My primary focus of the evening was to keep Julia comfortable, as best as possible. I had rehearsed this night in my head many times over the last 9 months, so I felt I was prepared. The lights were low, the music (which I had preselected) was soft and soothing and I tried to keep her hydrated, while Gaylea offered encouraging words and backrubs. Gaylea really felt that Julia’s labor would go on for hours and tried to get her to sleep to conserve energy, though she couldn’t. When a contraction would come, Julia would let out a moan but never really led on that she was in great pain. This continued for hours, as I continued to ask Gaylea if it was time to go to the hospital. All I could do was hold Julia’s hand, watch the clock, and try to comfort her anyway I could. We were both exhausted and I was very nervous.
By 2:00 AM, we were all 3 on the bathroom floor and the contractions stopped for about 10 minutes. But then they came back with full force. Julia began moaning deeply and for much longer. At this point, I had decided that we were going to the hospital whether Gaylea approved or not. I asked her what she thought and she told me she wanted to check Julia when she came out of the bathroom. Shortly after that we made our way back to the bed and Julia laid down while Gaylea looked to make sure Ella wasn’t half way out of her. I don’t know if she found what she was looking for, but she told us that we should consider the possibility of going to Hendersonville Hospital, rather than Centennial. That really scared me, but I immediately rushed to get the car out and moved so that Julia could make the easiest and shortest walk to it as possible.
We finally got Julia in the car around 3:30 AM and set off toward Centennial. I felt somewhat confident that we could make it, but knew that both Hendersonville and Skyline were on the way. Gaylea was going to follow me, but apparently couldn’t keep up. (It’s funny, I had secretly anticipated this moment for months – no years! Finally, my chance to drive as fast as possible - and with no traffic! It wasn’t near as entertaining as I had envisioned though. Especially since Julia squeezed my right hand the entire way, while I begged her not to push.) When we passed skyline, I was both excited but also scared, as we had just passed our last option. I continued to encourage Julia that we were “almost there” and incredibly relieved when we finally arrived…at the main ER entrance. Ok, so it was a little off of where we should have been, but we were there. During the confusion, I forgot to grab anything out of the car (wallet, camera, bags, car keys) but fortunately I had my phone and was able to capture some pics and video later. Because of my minor diversion, a kind nurse put Julia in a wheel chair and RAN her to the other building where the triage is located while I tried to keep up. More relief came when she finally got to the bed and got hooked up to a monitor. It was quickly realized that Julia was fully dilated and ready to push, so there was no time to get her to a birthing room. For the next several minutes, it got crazy: people rushing in and out, bringing equipment in, lights lowered from the ceiling, nurses getting suited up…I just couldn’t believe that I had a front row seat for this on Julia’s left side holding her hand.
She officially started pushing around 4:45 AM with massive amounts of encouragement all around her. I kept my post by her side and continued to tell her how much progress she was making and how soon Ella would be here. Except, I wasn’t being totally honest with her. I watched as Julia would strain with everything she had to try to get this little girl out, her face blood red, then she’d collapse after it each push was over. I could see minor amounts of progress with every push, but it seem to dissipate when she would stop. This went on for over an hour. I was sure that the OR was getting warmed up and at any minute she was going to give up (justifiably) or they were going to call it off. But she refused to quit – I couldn’t believe it.
Around 6:00 AM the nurses called the Dr. back in to the room because she was apparently getting close. I first thought this was just for show, because I didn’t see how she was anywhere close to being…close! But clearly, I was wrong. With a few more pushes Ella’s head popped out! Holy cow – this is really going to happen! It seemed like a millisecond later her whole body came out and it was over. Unfortunately her cord was too short so they weren’t able to lay her on Julia’s chest. They handed me scissors and showed me where to cut the cord, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention because I almost cut it in the wrong place – but they yelled at me and pointed out the correct place. I was surprised how tough it was to cut. They then took Ella to the warmer and tried to get her to cry…but that’s another story.
From the time Julia started pushing up to the very moment that I write this, I am absolutely amazed that she was able to go through that. She had not eaten in nearly 18 hours, she had a fever that came and went, she vomited twice and not slept…it just doesn’t make since. I was exhausted and didn’t even do anything, where in the world did she get the energy to do this – not to mention, without any medication?! Though I knew it was our goal to go natural, I just didn’t think she’d be able to go through with it…and truthfully, neither did most of her friends and family. But she did, and what a remarkable experience it was. I’ve never been more proud of any human being in my life. Throughout the entire labor, she never asked once to go to the hospital or for ANY medication – never. She was determined to accomplish this for her and our daughter and nothing was going to stop her. They’re both amazing…