As told by Elizabeth: In the summer of 2014, we were driving down the road listening to music and enjoying the warm breeze while our 15 month old snoozed in the backseat. Andrew turned to me and said “what do you think of the name Alistair? You know for one day when we have our boy?” Given our history of Infertility before our first baby was born and the complications that occurred during her birth; up until that point I hadn’t really allowed myself to dream of more children. I wanted more but I was trying to protect my heart. But hearing him speak that just as fact… *when* we have *OUR* boy! It lit a fire in my heart. And when I heard that name! Alistair, it was as if I’d run into a brick wall. I laughed and gasped and kept repeating it over and over. There’s was just something about it. And for the next 14 months that name would never be far from my mind… from January-may of the following year we were TTC… with no success then I began to have some health issues so we stopped and I focused on getting well. We started trying again in August.
Community Birth Story | Alistair
Fast forward to September, just a few weeks later, our life was suddenly upside down. Andrew (our sole provider) very unexpectedly lost his job, we immediately stopped TTC. But 17 days after he lost his job, I woke from a deep sleep early in the morning from a horrible dream; and very clearly heard the Holy Spirit say “go take a pregnancy test” so I got up and took one LOL and it was immediately positive. I was in such shock! My dear grandmother who was much more like a mother to me was very ill (and would pass away not 6wks after we found out about the pregnancy) we were surrounded by stress and uncertainty. I was afraid of the pregnancy and birth being the same as Mira’s had been; I didn’t want that! This time I wanted to keep my power. I wanted to labor and birth on MY terms. I wanted to make choices based on my instincts and not someone scaring me. This time I had something to prove… Not to anyone else, but to myself.
The holidays of 2015 were surrounded with having a preventative cerclage placed and recovering from that and then being on bed rest for the next few months til we were out of the danger zone, which for incompetent cervix last until 28 weeks. I basically held my breath during that time; I tried to enjoy my pregnancy but it was hard for being so worried. After we passed the 28th week the excitement kicked in. We spent a lot of time at the encouraging of our doulas considering what our ideal birth would look like… This really helped us, not because our birth went exactly how we envisioned but because it was important to think and consider all the possible details we may encounter along the way.
Around 37 weeks I began having regular bouts of consistent contractions. I was hopeful every time. As my due date came and went, I was anxious and so excited. My daughter had been born at 40+5 days. So that was like a beacon of sorts in my mind. I’d tell myself “he’s going to wait til then” not because I necessarily thought he’d gestate exactly as long as she did… But it help me cope with waiting to remember how long she cooked. On my due date I got a massage and it caused some contractions. I got excited! They stopped. This continued every day for the next 2wks. Each time they would be very close together and increasing in intensity before just abruptly stopping. I got frustrated. My doula reminded me that this was my body preparing. So we waited… And waited… And waited… At 40+6 days (the day I was officially the most pregnant I’d ever been lol) I started acupuncture to bring on labor. This is what I did with my daughter and she was born two days later! I continued getting acupuncture everyday for a week. It never once caused me to contract lol. The anxiousness was building.
The following Saturday evening I was 41+3 I had 6ish hours of intense contractions! They were double and triple peaking and I had to be on my feet… I was squatting a lot. I thought for sure this was it. We finished packing. Alerted my friend that would come and stay with my daughter. And then as quickly as they started… They.just.stopped. I spent the next 24hrs or so in a really dark place… I was just consumed with the “forever pregnant” feeling. I spent hours that day sitting in my rocker in my room and staring out the window at the trees blowing in the wind and wishing I could just fly away… Just fly away and come back when this was all over… It was such a head trip. And I wanted off the crazy train. I wanted to escape my body. I just sat there crying and singing “It is well” softly… Intense! By that evening I was overcome with the feeling that it was time to meet this baby. I was never worried for his safety, just had a strong feeling his birthday was soon!
(Last bump pic 41+4)
The next morning my phone rang pretty early; it was my doctor calling to talk. He was never pushy and repeatedly said it was my decision, but at the very least as I was approaching 42wks he wanted to check the baby and make sure he was hanging ok. So we decided to head to the hospital later that afternoon. I loved how when I asked him what time I should come he just responded with “whenever. We’ll be here just come on up to L&D and we will hook you up for a bit” so respectful of this being my body and my baby. On the way to the hospital we went and saw my favorite chiropractor for one last adjustment and acupuncture treatment. We were laughing so hard as I sat there and she pushed on all the pressure points and I didn’t have ONE contraction. Not one! LOL! We stopped and got some lunch at five guys and arrived at the hospital a few hours later and they checked the baby out and he was perfectly happy and doing very well. I asked them to check me because up to this point I hadn’t had any vaginal exams, so I had no idea if I was even dilated at all! Turns out I was 2cm and about 50%! Progress! At that point knowing how much I wanted to avoid meds… The dr offered to place a Foley catheter, to manually open the cervix to 4-5cm and hopefully kick me into labor. He gave us some time to think it over and we decided to go for it. Once we told them we wanted to do the foley, they told us it would be a while since they had an emergency to deal with. So I texted my friend and arranged for her to meet Andrew at the house. Then he left to head home with Mira… My first baby. I hugged and hugged her and squeezed her within an inch of her life. She was giggling and squirming to get away but I couldn’t help but feel suffocated by the feeling that this was the very last time I would hold my only child in my arms… It was heavy and surreal. And when they left, I sat there alone and sobbed and sobbed.
(Last pic with my only child)
After an hour or two the dr came in and placed the Foley around 9pm, and was told it could take up to 12hrs to get me to 5cm. It wasn’t the most comfortable experience, but I brushed it off… I mean, I’m going to be in labor soon! Nothing about this will be comfortable haha they monitored me for a bit and by that time Andrew was back from meeting my friend and getting Mira home and to bed. Before long the nurses came to move me to a new room. Because the current one was 87 degrees! Crazy hot! Not what a pregnant lady never mind one that’s in labor wants! The nurse pulled the catheter taught and taped it to my leg. Holy Cramps Batman!! Woah! They were heavy right away. I felt so excited, I couldn’t stop smiling. I waddled across the maternity ward to a much cooler room, 68 baby! They brought me a fan too. Before long everyone that came in the room was shivering haha
I settled in and was encouraged to rest, but I was way to excited. After being on the monitor for a bit I decided since I couldn’t sleep, I would get up and walk. (Notice how I said “I” decided? Because I did. Every single thing that happened was my choice!) only the walking would have to wait a bit… I sat on the toilet to pee, and felt the weirdest sensation! And plop! Out came the catheter! Not 3 hrs after they put it in! My first reaction was a bit of panic… Thinking “I can’t be 5cm yet! Omg are they going to have to put it back in!? Ugh I don’t want to do that again…” Andrew got the nurse and before long the dr was checking me and sure enough! 5cm! Yay! It was the strangest feeling to be that dilated and yet… Not in active labor. Lol at this point the dr offered me the option to go home if I wanted… and come back when labor began. Looking back, I should have gone home and gotten some sleep LOL but I was waaaay to excited! So I decided to stay. So Andrew and I walked the loop of the maternity ward, holding hands for an hour. The activity helped! Every few minutes I was getting mild contractions. After the hour passed I went back to my room and the contractions stopped. I decided to try and get some sleep. Between 1-6am I probably slept for maybe an hour, possibly two. My body was revved up! I didn’t know exactly when but I could feel the crescendo rising! I would meet my baby soon.
Andrew and I woke up as the sun was rising and showered, that shower was SO nice. Like nicer then any shower I’ve ever had! Haha I stood there and looked down as the hot water and soap hit my belly and I knew the next shower I took my bump would be empty. And my baby would be in our arms. I stood there for the longest time just marveling at the miracle of life. How amazingly God designed our bodies to grow, carry and birth new LIFE! A person! A human being all their own; comes from within my body! It’s almost to much to fathom even when right in the middle of the experience. After we showered Andrew left to go and get me some chick-fil-a hash browns and nuggets I’d been craving and he needed to return a call about a job and schedule a phone interview for the following week. He later said it was so odd to do something so ordinary in the midst of such an extraordinary time in our life.
While he was gone I walked a bit… But that wasn’t doing it for me and I decided since I was alone I was going to have a party with my baby! I put a sign on my room door that said “Do Not Disturb” and I put my ear buds in and pulled up the black eyed peas on you tube on my phone. The first song was “I got a feeling” and it just pulsed through my body, every fiber of my being knew that indeed Tonight was gonna be a good night! I danced my heart out for the next 40 minutes totally undisturbed. I can close my eyes and feel all of that again in a heart beat! I was crying and laughing and grinning so hard my face was hurting. I could NOT wait to meet my baby! And sure enough… Regular contractions began. And the more I danced and lost myself in the excitement the stronger they got. By the time Andrew got back with my food I was a sweaty mess (so much for that shower ha!) and I was having steady contractions. And for the first time since the night before my contractions actually showed up on the monitor! Woooo! Progress! I sat there eating and had consistent contractions for 20 minutes! So exciting! After 20 minutes the nurse came in and unhooked me and i wanted to walk. I walked, danced with Andrew and sat on the birth ball for a little over an hour. It was around 11am and things were getting intense… I asked Andrew to call our doula Bergen.
Over the next hour before she arrived things were getting quickly intense. I didn’t have much of a break in between VERY long hard contractions. Maybe a 30 second break at most and sometimes not more than 10-15 seconds before another one came. I was sitting on the birth ball leaning forward and laying on the bed. My glasses had long since been taken off. I couldn’t see anything and didn’t care lol And when I heard Bergen come in the room I was overcome with emotion. Her presence meant this was really real. It was happening. I was having my baby.
Throughout the rest of the day I was laboring and riding the waves. Such INTENSE waves. Squatting, dancing, hanging… Andrew and Bergen taking turns rubbing my back and squeezing my hips… Hot stones, hot rice packs, the tens unit… The back labor was just beyond any pain I’ve ever felt. All encompassing, the kind that takes you to another world. Because if your mind didn’t give you that escape? If you were fully aware of the passing of every moment and fully present you’d never make it. There were times I needed monitoring and laying in bed was excruciating. Lots of eating and drinking and vocalizing. I remember getting so annoyed when I had to pee, because I knew sitting on the toilet would give me insane contractions. Lots of time spent stuck on the toilet in the dark bathroom roaring through contraction after contraction hanging onto Andrews neck and afraid I might just break it off! And praying for a break long enough to stand… At one point we tried getting in the tub at the hospital. It felt amazing for about 20 minutes. And then the contractions were just coming and coming and I felt trapped. I couldn’t move like I needed to. So I got out of there. Movement was key during all of this laboring. Well that and vocalizing. It’s amazing how a certain sound can help pain and another can give power. I later learned that the nurse who was assigned to me during the hardest parts of my labor was sitting at the nurses station (which was right by my room) and charting my contractions based on the sounds I was making. See I wasn’t being monitored to often and even when I was most of the contractions weren’t being picked up. But she commented to me the next day that the fact that I was so vocal was fantastic! Because she was able to chart me still for the Drs even tho the monitor wasn’t picking up much.
(Two moment captured by our Doula, heavily into labor)
At a certain point (what I now believe was early transition) I began to feel so panicked. I was progressing very slowly. (Likely because of the scar tissue on my cervix. That needs to be broken through for dilation to continue to occur) And with contractions double peaking and just seconds to recover, I was exhausted. For about an hour I was quietly arguing with myself about wanting an epidural. I was scared of it leading to a bunch of interventions I didn’t want. I was feeling like choosing that was failing. I was so unfocused on my contractions during this time because I was so conflicted. And all that made me feel even more panicked. At one point I was laboring in the bathroom alone with Andrew and I said “if I get an epidural will you be disappointed in me” he got tears in his eyes and said “of course not! What? Never, ever! You’re amazing!” But then he just said “let’s focus on these contractions and you just let me know” some more time went by…. And The dr came in at one point and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did. It had been hours since the last check when I was told I was 7cm. At least 4-5hrs. I wanted to know. He patiently waited for a few contractions to pass before I was ready. That was BY FAR the VERY worst part of my labor. I couldn’t catch my breath it hurt so bad. I felt horrible and I was screaming. He kept apologizing and did it as fast as he could but it felt like an eternity. And just the worst all encompassing pain. So when he said I was still 7cm. I just cried. Everyone left the room except Andrew and Bergen and I laid there through a couple contractions and finally just said to mysef “screw it! I’m not trying to be a hero. Or prove anything to anyone! I’ve already proven more to myself then I ever have before!!!! I am SO strong! I can’t even believe how awesome I’ve done all day!” And I looked at Andrew and told him to go ask the nurse if it was to late. He came back and said no, I still could have it if I wanted. And I told him yes! I did!
From the time I said I wanted the epidural to the time it started working was like 45 minutes or so. The anesthesiologist was SO sweet! Honestly one of the very sweetest people I’ve ever met. He kept rubbing my shoulders and telling me how strong I was. Andrew and Bergen had to leave when they placed it but that was ok, I had my awesome nurse there. I sat on the edge of the bed and stared at her necklace. It was just a simple heart pendant but made me feel so surrounded by love. I was laboring sitting on the edge of the bed for contraction and after contraction and trying to focus and sit still that before I knew he said he was done. The labor was so painful I didn’t even feel the epidural needle!! Now I’ve had spinal anesthesia before when not in labor and nearly passed out it hurt so bad… How wild it was to have it done and not even feel it! I felt like a total rockstar!
As soon as the epidural meds kicked in my body was finally able to relax. My leg muscles that had been so tense they had been rock hard for hours, we’re finally soft and relaxed again. It felt amazing to be able to breathe. And yet my contractions kept up frequently and strong! And it was ALL my body doing it on its on, my contractions never needed augmented with any medications which I was so grateful for! I was supposed to rest but boy was that hard when I was on a high with relief from the intensity. Eventually I got tired and we all got some rest… Very shortly after I got checked again and I was 10! And my bag of waters was bulging. I declined having it broken. It was clear to me with how quickly I got to 10 after the epidural that my body was so tense, and unable to relax that I wasn’t progressing. Over the next few hours we all rested in between nurses checking on me… I was checked a few more times and every time asked if I wanted my water broken. But I didn’t. Baby was doing great and I wanted to just let him come down at his own pace… The last few times the Dr was getting a little pushy about it. At around 1am or so I began feeling a lot of pressure. I didn’t share this info at first because I wanted him and my body to do all the work. I was so exhausted from the hard laboring that I didn’t want to start pushing to soon. Eventually the pressure was intense enough that I told the nurse that the dr could come and break my water, it was time. Admittedly, I was disappointed they were going to break my water. I really wanted it to break on its own. So when they got everything set up and the doctor (that had been really pushy about breaking it earlier) went to break it? She discovered it had already broken! Yaaaass!!! I just didn’t realize it because there wasn’t a big gush because he was right there…
I started pushing and felt completely overwhelmed and like I didn’t know what I was doing. The other doctor there was so supportive and just kept telling me that I could do this. After a couple minutes. I found that holding onto Andrew and Bergen’s hands while bracing myself with my heals in the stirrups, lifting up a bit and tucking my pelvis upward moved him nicely. At this point the light epidural I had was pretty much worn off. After a few pushes I was doing it on my own. It was so surreal. At some point during the pushing the resident that was assisting on my birth took a call! Like really? Standing there with her hand waiting to catch my baby and she’s talking on the phone!? All I cld think was what bad manners lol I began to feel his head no longer moving back up as I pushed. At one point I started coughing, my throat was sore from the hours of roaring through contractions, and the doctor gasped and said my coughs were really moving the baby! She said “goodness your gonna just cough him right out!” We all laughed. I small moment of tense relief was nice. Within moments I felt My body take over and I felt it pushing harder and longer. I had little control at this point; muscle memory took over. My body had done this before! Then his head was out. 10 minutes total of pushing. And one more little push and I felt that all familiar feeling of him sliding out of my body… what an immediately and amazing relief!! I did it! He was placed right on my chest. Just how I’d wanted it with Mira. It was so healing. I couldn’t believe I was holding my son! He almost immediately put his thumb in his mouth. He was so perfect! All the fears I had about being able to love another child melted away… I loved him so much. I looked over and saw andrew crying and a nurse commented how big he was… (turned out he was over 2lbs bigger then his big sister was! 8.6lbs!) when his cord stopped pulsing Andrew cut it and almost immediately my placenta just leaped out of my body, it was so done, poor thing LOL. The doctor kind of jumped and caught it. Very thankful for her quick reflexes lol! I needed one stitch where an old scar had split, but I didn’t even feel it because I was holding my precious boy. What a vastly different healing experience!
(Just moments after birth)
I was up and showered within 3hrs of his birth and then walked down the hall to my recovery room. The next 36hrs of just Andrew and I with our baby were so special! And exhausting haha and seeing Mira meet her new baby brother was a moment I’ll never forget. Holding both of my babies in my arms was incredible! I am so grateful for our healing birth. And for our sweet wild free spirit! Our Son, Alistair! He came at just the right time, our light amidst the hardships all around us! His birth was the promise that healing was possible; and was a window into strength in never knew I had. His arrival showed That the possibilities for the future were wide open. He’s shaken up our lives in a Big way; They will never be the same and I couldn’t be more grateful ❤
Photo credit: The Darling Family