One Mama, Two Births: Ellis and Betsy


2011-11-15 21-1.11.23


When my husband and I decided to start our family, it took only two months for me to get pregnant. I spent my pregnancy researching everything about babies, but very little about the actual process of birth. I kept a very “play it by ear” attitude about pain management and interventions, and made no real plans for myself one way or the other about Ellis’ birth. I also spent my pregnancy completely convinced that he would come late. So, when my water broke in the middle of the night when I was just two days shy of 38 weeks, I was shocked. I was probably also shocked because it was 2 in the morning, and my poor hubby had only been home from a night out for about half an hour.

I got out of bed, thinking I had to use the bathroom, and realized what had happened. Phill kind of stirred in his sleep when I came back in the bedroom, and I told him he needed to get up because my water had broken. I’ve never seen a human being move as fast as he moved from the bed to his dresser in my life! We went downstairs, and my contractions started about ten minutes later. I knew we were heading to the hospital, so I tried to eat something and get a hold of my mom to let her know. We finally left around 3am, as my contractions were pretty strong and close together. When we got to the hospital, I was only dilated to 4cm, but definitely in labor. After 13 calls to my mom, she was on her way, and I was being admitted. I was at 5cm when I got to my delivery room, and labor was getting intense. I don’t remember exactly when I asked for the epidural, but I got one and was able to get a little sleep. My contractions slowed, and I was given Pitocin. After that, labor picked back up and it was soon time to push. We learned that Ellis was facing up, but the doctors said I should be able to push him out. After 4 hours of pushing, changing positions, and a midwife trying to get him to turn, we realized he just wasn’t coming out, and I consented to a C-section.

The actual surgery was quick, and at 5:08pm, my son took his first breath. I was so relieved he was here and healthy! Phill held him near me while I got stitched up and ready for recovery. I wouldn’t get to hold him or feed him until a couple hours later. I was a little heartbroken over having surgery and not getting to hold my baby boy right away, but I kept telling myself that what was important was that my son and I were healthy and safe. I knew right away that I wanted the next time to be different.

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Handsome Ellis


When I found out I was pregnant a second time, I knew I wanted to attempt a VBAC, and have as little intervention as possible. I went to the same OB as I had before, and told her my plan. She gave me a kind of “Ok, crazy lady, if you think you can hack it” response and then handed me a waiver to sign that basically said, among other things, that I gave permission to be pumped full of Pitocin at the doctor’s discretion. None of this gave me the warm fuzzies, and I decided to look elsewhere for someone to oversee my pregnancy health. After many phone calls to my insurance, doctor’s offices, and a hospital, I found an office of midwives that accepted my insurance! I was so excited! After meeting the midwives, I knew they were the right ladies to take care of me and new baby.

My pregnancy was pretty uneventful, but I was over it when I hit 38 weeks. I had an appointment with the Midwife on a Friday, and she did a membrane sweep to get things started. I started having mild, but very random contractions that afternoon, and continued to do so until Wednesday afternoon. My contractions began getting a little more intense and regular by dinner time Wednesday after a day of running errands with my mom.

After dinner, my contractions were about 12 minutes apart. I asked my mom to stick around just in case things picked up, and tried to relax. I was excited that this could be it, but nervous that it may not be. I definitely preferred the certainty of broken water to wondering if my contractions meant go time or not. My contractions kept getting closer together, so we called Phill’s mom to have her come stay with Ellis if we decided to go to the hospital.

When she arrived, my contractions were about 7 minutes apart. Around 11:30, they were about 3 minutes apart, and we decided to head to the hospital. When we got to triage, I was only dilated to 3cm. The midwife suggested I walk around around a couple hours and see if things progressed. I managed to walk about an hour and a half be for my contractions were too intense to walk through. When I got back to triage, I was only dilated to 4cm, and given the option to go home or to wait in the triage room and see if I progressed. I decided to stay, as the thought of going home and possibly waking ellis or having to rush back to the hospital made me very uneasy.

After another hour, I had dilated to 5cm. My midwife again gave me the option to go home, or I could be admitted. She warned me that if I were admitted and didn’t make any progress, there was a higher likelihood of interventions. I decided to be admitted, and thought that if I could just get in the water, I would be able to relax and things would get moving. Boy was I right! The warm water felt fantastic, and my contractions almost instantly became faster and more intense. Sadly, sitting in the tub proved pretty uncomfortable, so I didn’t stay in the water nearly as long as I thought I would. I spent most of the next few hours laboring on the toilet, where I could get my legs out of the way and let my belly hang.

The next time the midwives checked my cervix, she said I was almost there, but had a lip at the from of my cervix that needed to move be for I could push. She suggested I try laboring on hands and knees, supported by a bean bag. I got in position on the floor, which caused one really intense contraction. That was a bit much to handle, so I moved onto the bed, still bent over a bean bag, but not bent as far. This did the trick, and the midwife broke my water. It seemed instantly, I had the urge to push. I was so excited! I got through labor, all the way dilated, and to pushing with no drugs! No one even suggested them to me.

After a few pushes, I remember wondering if I was making any progress. As soon as the thought entered my head, my husband said, “Look how much hair she has!” And my mother added, “and it’s DARK!” That was it. I had to see this baby! A couple more hard pushes, and she was out and immediately in my arms. She did indeed have a full head of dark hair! I kissed her face and told her “we did it!” I instantly felt like superwoman! What a difference from my son’s birth.


Sweet Betsy

I now have two beautiful, healthy babies, and a newfound strength and confidence in my body. I’m glad I had the courage to seek out what I knew would be best for me and my baby, and to overcome the fear of pain and the doubt that my body would be able to birth a baby on its own.


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