This is the birth story of our third baby, Elijah Murray Edward Stanley. All three were born at home and each one has their own unique story. This birth was in many ways redemptive from our middle child’s birth. At the time of his birth, our oldest was 3.5 years and our middle was 21 months. The plan was for our oldest to be present for her brother’s birth, and we planned to have Marisa as her doula to help coach her through what was happening with Mommy. Marisa is also our sister-in-law, so our kids’ Auntie. It made this birth super special, and you’ll see why. :)
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
I had a visit with my midwife in our home. We talked about my approaching due date and how we were not solid on the actual dates. (I opted for only the 20 week anatomy scan so even that did not help solidify our due date.) We were guessing I was 36 weeks and a few days. We talked about if we could deliver at home if he came soon, and decided we were both comfortable with that. We talked over birth plans and what we needed to have ready.
That same evening I started feeling some contractions that were different than Braxton Hicks. They were far apart, not lasting long, and not intense so we figured maybe baby was just adjusting his position and my body was responding, so I carried on as usual.
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Contractions had continued during the night and into the morning. I sent this message to my midwife at 7:50am: “…this morning just a tiny bit of brown/pink spotting. Baby is moving and it doesn’t feel like labor. Any thoughts? I’ve never had early contractions like this. I can feel them deep inside, not just the tightness of my belly like Braxton Hicks. Not happening frequently or lasting in duration and not painful per se, just uncomfortable and noticeable.” I think I was in denial that our baby boy could be joining us much sooner than I had anticipated, so I kind of brushed off what was happening as not actual labor. I tried to relax and see if the contractions would slow or stop. My niece came over to babysit our older two kids and I took a bath, laid in bed, and focused on resting. The contractions spaced out a little more with all that, so I took my niece back home and went about our day. That afternoon I was able to take a nap while the girls napped and even then was woken up by a couple of contractions.
Evening came and I was still experiencing contractions. I sent this to my midwife at 5:51pm: “Nothing has picked up, but I’m still having contractions anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes apart, depending what I’m doing. Never lasting more than a minute. Just had a little bit of potentially bloody show or part of mucus plug. I’ll let you know if anything else develops. Baby is still giving good movements.” Still not convinced I was in labor, we decided to go to our midweek church meeting so we packed up the kids and headed to church. All during the meeting I continued to have contractions and the reality that I was probably having our baby soon started to sink in. When we got home we got our girls in bed and I was snuggling in the bed with our oldest but when I made the motion to get up my water broke! She was asleep so I started whisper yelling for my husband, hoping he would hear me over the baby monitor. He didn’t, but our 3.5 year old woke up and told me she could go get Daddy. My water broke around 11:00pm. This was a new experience for us because my water had not broken until pushing stage with our two girls. With towel between my legs I got to the bathroom and put in a call to our midwife. I stayed on the toilet a little while and since my body had not jumped into labor with the water breaking, she recommended resting and seeing how labor progressed. She would start heading our way when we felt we needed her presence. At this point we still had not even pulled our tote of birth supplies out of the closet or set up ANYTHING for this birth. Our girls had been born in the birth tub, so while I laid in bed my husband set to work getting everything ready. Our daughter bounced back and forth between curiously asking Daddy what he was doing and why and being my doula in bed, even getting herself into the same laboring positions I was trying so she could coach me along. I stayed calm and mentally present, giving instructions to my husband and enjoying our daughter’s presence.
Thursday, September 1, 2022
I continued to labor in bed and around midnight the contractions started to get stronger. My husband said at that point my face was still not giving him any indication of contractions, but by 12:30am I was starting to feel them in my back and was getting really uncomfortable. Our midwife recommended a labor position to ease back labor and it definitely worked. She was still not at our house yet, but we were in close communication by text and phone. At 12:49am we told her the contractions were getting more intense and she got in her car to head our way. At 1:00am the contractions got even more intense and we asked Marisa to head to our house too. About this time I felt that I needed to go to the toilet to pee. But I also knew from my previous two births that at this point in labor if I sat on the toilet I would hit transition and be ready to push. Our midwife wasn’t there yet and Marisa wasn’t there yet so I held off for as long as I possibly could to make that move. When I finally decided I couldn’t wait any longer I went to the toilet. At 1:26am my husband sent a text asking our midwife her eta, which was 1:59am. From the toilet I went to our living room and sure enough, transition had hit and I was ready to push. I told my husband to get a chux pad while I got on hands & knees. There was no time to make it to the birth tub in our bedroom. Our daughter was perched on the couch near my head while my husband worked to situate the chux pad and I worked to get my underwear down. At 1:27am we called up our midwife. I remember telling my husband to call her and put her on speakerphone, and I remember her saying something like, “Yes, those are definitely pushing sounds”. Marisa walked through our door at 1:30am to a crowning baby! I had already given a half hearted push, still trying to hold back a little in hopes of someone arriving. She dropped her things and jumped right in! She had our daughter move to be able to see her baby brother arriving and asked my husband if he wanted to catch him (he didn’t). With one push his head was out and with a second push the rest of him was out - right into his Auntie’s hands. That was 1:32am. She helped pass him between my legs and get me sitting upright against the couch. I honestly don’t remember if he cried right away, I just remember staring into his beautiful eyes as he snuggled calmly in my arms. His color was amazing, he was bigger than I had anticipated for being early, and he was completely covered in vernix. All my anxiety I had been holding onto about having him this early vanished when I held him and saw how healthy he was. We all could not believe what had just happened and sat there alternating between laughing and piecing together all the details and talking to our newest member of the family. Our midwife arrived about 20 minutes later and we moved everyone to our bed for the delivery of the placenta, getting everyone checked out, and establishing breastfeeding which he took to right away. We estimate he was born somewhere between 2-3 weeks early, definitely not as early as we had originally thought, and he passed all his newborn tests with flying colors.
2.5 hours from water breaking to baby boy in our arms. 2.5 pushes within 5 minutes. 7lb 6oz, 20.75” long. Elijah Murray Edward. Elijah is a name from the Bible we liked, meaning “Jehovah is my God”. Murray Edward are his Daddy’s middle names and also his Great Grandfather’s first and middle names. Labor was intense, and yet it was never so intense that I couldn’t work through it and stay calm and present in the meantime which was so redemptive and a huge answer to prayer. Our oldest was able to be present the entire time, from my water breaking in her bed, to laboring by her Mommy’s side, to seeing her brother enter the world. Our middle girl woke up briefly around 2:30am and got to meet her baby brother right away too. Lots of firsts with this one: our first boy, our first night time labor & delivery, my first time having my water break prior to pushing stage, our first birth without a midwife present (hopefully our only!), our first birth on land, our first baby less than 8 pounds…and he was born on the First of September.