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Love. Create. Celebrate. : Eleanor Laurie: A Birth Story

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eleanor Laurie: A Birth Story

I'm sitting on the couch as I write this. Baby girl is snuggled in her wrap on my chest. 
As I listen to her soft breaths, I can't believe it's only been a week since she was born. 
The labour, the pain, the fear, the excitement, the joy. All seem so distant already. 

In the days before Eleanor was born, I was as busy as ever. Cleaning every inch of the house, scrapbooking thank you cards, baking, essentially finding things to do to occupy my time. When Friday came I was prepared. My earliest contractions started around midnight, early morning on Jan. 10th. I remember thinking "This isn't as painful as I thought it would be" (which I now laugh at!), and I remember thinking, "Oh, good. I'm ready!" The contractions came and went throughout the day. Despite the pain being minimal at first, I was up ALL night, forcing my tired husband to count out the minutes between contractions. 14 minutes… 11 minutes… 9 minutes… A phone call to my doula in the morning confirmed that I was in the early stages of labour. Despite the fact that I had googled every possible version of "Am I in labour?" throughout the night, I wasn't confident until then. The pains were on and off until they really ramped up around 3pm and I headed to the hospital with my husband and doula. 

When we arrived at the hospital I was already 5cm dilated and everything was going beautifully. My contractions were coming on stronger and my excitement was building. I chatted lightheartedly with my husband and doula, until a contraction came on where I shifted gears. Silence. Focused breathing. Squeezing the husband's arm. Then as it subsided, I picked up conversations right where I had left them. We walked and walked and walked trying to force the baby's head down. Trying to make progress. And inadvertently exhausting myself. By 9 or 10 pm the pain had ramped up. My doula was running for ice chips and instructing my husband on the best way to care for me. When I got checked on I found out that I was 6 cm dilated. Only 6 cm. How was that possible? This much pain? This level of exhaustion? For only 1 more cm?!? Although I had imagined and hoped for a natural birth, my exhaustion was overwhelming me. The thought of forcing myself through 4 more cm's  of pain seemed unbearable. So we asked about pain management. What I needed was rest. Sleep. Dear dear sleep. I knew that morphine and laughing gas would calm the pain, but still wouldn't let me rest. An epidural seemed like the only option. I teared up at the thought of going away from my "birth plan". I remember asking the husband if "I was disappointing him?" (which of course he said "no" to!). I think he was struggling with watching me go through the pain and exhaustion. He was wanting relief for me as much as I was. So with tears in my eyes I requested the epidural. Even as the anesthesiologist was getting ready I was questioning my decision, but he was available immediately and it all happened so fast. Done. Pain gone. Rest setting in. I remember my doula telling me I looked better only 5 minutes after the procedure. I told the husband that I felt like a "bad mom", but he assured me I wasn't. And relief swept over my body from the medication and his comforting words.

My water was broken at midnight by my OB and it came time to start pushing around 4am on Jan. 11th. I was ready. I had rested. I had my doula on one side, and my husband on the other. After a few minutes of pushing I watched my husband's face turn white. Ghost white. He sat down and fainted immediately after that. I watched his eyes roll back and a seizure come over him and I panicked. Nurses were running into the room from everywhere. I couldn't focus or breath. Fear ran through my body. What's happening? I can't do this alone! Who's helping him? I just remember balling, almost hyperventilating. My doula and the nurse spent several minutes trying to calm and refocus me. Telling me that he was taken care of and that I had to keep pushing and that he would be ok. I began to calm down after I saw him wake up. He's ok. He's ok. He's ok. I resumed pushing shortly after. Our baby was born at 4:54am on Jan. 11, 2014. One of the nurses whispered the sex of the baby to my husband so that he could be the first to tell me. "It's a girl". A girl? Really? More crying. Happy tears. She was placed on my chest and we fell in love, my baby girl and me.

Our doula

We were so happy. We moved into our room in postpartum and talked about how perfect she was. How wonderful the name Eleanor suited her. How chubby her cheeks were. Around 3pm, the nurse walked with us to take her for a bath. They were just doing some standard measurements, but you could tell they were concerned about something. One nurse left to get a second opinion, then another nurse joined. Then phone calls were being made. What was wrong? She's perfect. Before long we were being told that her oxygen levels and her heart rate were low. She were being transferred to the NICU. I was terrified in that moment. There was something wrong with my baby girl. My brand new beautiful, perfect baby girl. I held it together while we followed upstairs and Eleanor began a series of tests. They did x-rays and an ECG, and talked of sending us to Edmonton for tests they couldn't finish here. Looking at my husband I could tell that we were both afraid, but I was the one tearing up. He is always so strong for me.

Her tests were all coming out clear, but her oxygen levels and heart rate were still low. She would have to stay in the NICU for monitoring. I was scared. Definitely scared. But we were happy that she was being watched. Apparently most babies adjust to being outside of the womb very quickly raising their oxygen levels independently. But if they've experienced some stress or trauma during labour, they can be slower to adjust. The tests were all to rule out any heart conditions, which also could have contributed to her difficulties. Hopefully she would just catch up on her own naturally.

She was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and watched constantly. The machines beeped every time her oxygen levels dropped - which was often. We basically lived in that room for two days, unless we were sleeping. Then the beeping started to subside. And then it was hardly heard at all. She was catching up with her body. Everything was normalizing :) We could leave soon.

After 3 days I was ready to go. She was better. I was sick of hospitals and hospital food. When the paediatrician came to see her he was very happy with her progress, but he noticed that she looked a bit jaundice. They did some more tests and sure enough… she was. They said she was cleared to leave the NICU, but she had to stay in our room. We couldn't go home yet.

They wheeled the phototherapy bed into our room and said they would check how she was doing tomorrow morning. The phototherapy should break down the bilirubin in her blood and take away her jaundice. It was wonderful to have her in our room again, but horrible to not be able to hold her. I remember telling me husband that we were missing out on all of the good moments because we only took her out to change and feed her. We didn't get cuddles. We couldn't stare happily into her little face. On our 4th day in hospital we were told that her bilirubin levels were still too high and we had to stay yet another day. I began crying immediately. All I wanted to do at that point was go home. My husband was so amazing. He comforted me and reminded me that this was best for her. But I selfishly wanted to cuddle her, and sleep in my own bed, and eat real food, and see my puppies. I wanted to go home.

After 5 loooong days, she passed all her tests! I cannot tell you the relief I felt when they said we could leave. SO happy! She was perfect. Everything was perfect. I packed faster than I've ever packed before. She was ours to take home :)

Now we are settling in to life with a baby girl, although it feels like she's always been here. 
One week in and already so in love with baby Ellie :) 


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At January 17, 2014 at 10:21 PM , Anonymous Katie vschaaf said...

So special Lindi! It's nice to write it down right away so we don't forget.. because as you know now time just moves so quickly! My advice to moms has always been "dont try to be a hero" hahaha epidurals are an amazing invention! I enjoyed feeling labor but I'll get an epidural next time too once I get to 'my point' :)
Good job mama! I love her and need more pics. Instagram 1 a day for me ;)

At January 18, 2014 at 5:21 AM , Blogger Janessa said...

Lindi that made me cry it was so sweet. I am sorry you had such a rough time at it but am so glad everything worked out and you're all home now and healthy and ready to start new adventures!

At January 18, 2014 at 6:13 AM , Blogger jennyc said...

Aw I'm so glad that you wrote this out! Beautiful! (and Russel.. you added some extra dramatic flair to Ellie's birth story! ;). Thanks for sharing. Can't wait to chat soon and meet your little lady on skype! :)

At January 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM , Blogger liabanana said...

Lindi I am so glad she's okay and you're okay and Russel is okay! It sucks that you had a rough start, but I'm glad everything has turned out! I'm super impressed with your blogging ALREADY!
Much love from the Ontario SLP contingent!! (I work now with Carla btw - fun times!!)
- Alishia

At January 23, 2014 at 5:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been meaning to comment on this but keep getting distracted! I love this post, nice that you wrote it all out. It brings back so many memories - from google searching "Am I in Labor?" (I used an app for my phone, lol) to the shock that comes with having your perfect baby in NICU, it's almost like reliving the whole thing! Happy that things are going better now that you are home! Enjoy your parents visit and your time with little Ellie. It goes by so fast. 13.5 months have flown and I can't believe I am back to work this week! :(



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