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Elijah's birth story: An Empowering Blur!

October 24th 2014 was the day I discovered my body can handle more than I thought possible; and in the days following, my Faith in the Lord would grow more than I could ever imagine. Doctors told me with my first son that I wouldn't be able to deliver a big baby and the interventions began. That is what led us to choose to do a home birth with a midwife attending with my second child..... and boy, I'd like to hear what they have to say now!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year because I have always felt like God reaches down and touches earth as the leaves change and magnificent deep colors appear and paint the world surrounding us. It is a very sentimental time of year for me when I stop to count blessings and relive memories. The hours leading up to Elijah's birth I was able to feel fall and see its true beauty as I walked down our street to try and get my labor started.

I was due October 21st and our anticipation grew as that date came and passed. I did all the crazy things the internet said would help start labor, from eating pineapple to dancing like a crazy person in the living room along to YouTube videos. We had planned everything out. My husband, Caleb, and I had choose to do a water birth, in our garden tub, in candlelight at our home. We, along with my 6 year old son (Keegan), my best friend (Jody), my midwife (Debbie), and her assistant (Jeanette) was all to be present. We wanted Keegan to be a part of the special moment and the timing worked out perfectly on the day that Elijah made his big debut.

Leading up to the day of the delivery I was extremely uncomfortable and REALLY ready to meet my baby boy. If I had to name what terrified me the most about the idea of natural birth it was the pain. I questioned if I would be able to handle it but thankfully, Debbie reassured me that I would do great and Caleb was constantly encouraging me throughout my entire pregnancy! Positive affirmations, a great support team, scripture, and LOTS of prayer gave me strength, peace, and the courage that I needed.

I started dilating the end of September and continued to make a little progress each week. At my 40 week check up, Debbie found that I was 4cm dilated and 80% effaced. At that point I remember telling myself, “this may be slow progression but its that much LESS work to do on 'D' day!” I remember sitting in church feeling as if my child was going to come out of my nose holes because he was so far up in my ribs. Hahaha!

Thursday October 23rd, 2014 I started feeling like I was going into labor. I began texting a friend of mine, Shelby, who had recently given birth and asking here what “natural” (NOT POTOCIN) contractions felt like. I was having body aches and my contractions felt different than the braxon hicks contractions I had been experiencing. We talked on the phone for an hour or so and she timed them and we realized they were consistent at about 4 minutes apart. I was loosing mucus plug every time I used the restroom so I decided to contact Debbie at 8:30pm and let her know what was going on. She told me I could take Tylenol for the aching but to get as much rest as I could! At that point I looked around my house and realized I had a huge pile of laundry on the bed to put away and so I cleaned and picked up despite Debbie's suggestion –which I later regretted!

At 10:20pm I called Jody and she headed over. She stopped and picked up some smoothie mixtures and a few other items I needed, which I was so very grateful for. Then, when Caleb got off of work at 11pm, I called him and told him I thought it might be time.

October 24th, 2014 at 3am Debbie and Jeanette arrived in the camper van. Debbie checked me and determined I was 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. I was excited but a little discouraged that that was all the progress I had made. Debbie suggested we all lay down and rest and told me to text her if things changed and she would be right outside in the camper van. By morning my contractions had stopped but I was glad to have been able to rest a little. Jody went on into work and Debbie and Jeanette went to town but stayed in touch. After some debating we came to the conclusion that Caleb needed to call in. The determining factor is actually comical.... At around 10:30am we had a power outage. We all laughed it off and joked about it being truly an old fashion birth. We decided that we would continue with the home birth despite the power being out. We wanted a candle lit birth anyways and we had the gas stove to heat water for the bath anyways. My only concern... I wouldn't have my fan! Hahaha! But finally the power came back on at 2pm and at 4pm I called Debbie back over because the contractions were getting stronger.

At 4:45pm I had Caleb run me a bath, he stayed at my side encouraging me through each contraction and Keegan played and checked in on mommy occasionally. Jody arrived at 5:30pm after she got off from work. Through all of this Elijah was doing great. His heart rate stayed between 160 and 170 and Caleb and I continued to talk about how we couldn't wait to meet our baby boy.

By 8:30pm my contractions were much stronger. I was dilated to 8-9 cm and I was feeling pressure. Keegan stayed close and would help me breath through contractions and he helped pour water on my back while I was in the tub. We spent time all over the house and I moved as I wished from the tub, to the bed, to the toilet, to the birthing ball, etc. It felt so good to have the ability to move. At one point as I was standing, Caleb stood close to me with his body against mine and we swayed back and forth. I felt so much peace being in his arms, then Keegan even joined as we swayed and breathed through each contraction with classical music playing the background.

I was able to lay down and rest between contractions for about a 2 hour period. Debbie sat in the recliner in our bedroom and Jeanette in another chair we have, while Caleb and I snuggled in the bed. We watched several episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and we all laughed. Eventually Debbie napped in Keegan's bed and Jeanette was able sleep on and off in the recliner. While Jody and Keegan was asleep on the couch. Keegan remained asleep on the couch until the next morning and I was grateful that the timing worked out that way. He had been a huge help and I loved that we were able to get pictures of him taking care of mommy as I was preparing to bring his brother into this world.

Friday turned into Saturday October 25th, 2014 and at 2:45am we decided to break my water, the fluid looked good – It was clear and to help things progress further Debbie put on some salsa music and had me bounce threw my contractions on a birthing ball. We were eventually all dancing to the song Happy by Pharrell Williams. That was a lot of fun and we laughed a lot as I was trying to “say dem hips” hahaha! They all kept saying “Alright, bounce this baby out Michelle.”

One of my favorite moments from that day was while I was laboring on the toilet. I was feeling very discouraged as the pain with each contraction was intense and I was exhausted. Caleb stood in front of me, brushing my hair back and we prayed together. It was in that moment, I felt God was in control and I was truly prepared to birth my baby boy. Debbie had been telling me to let go of fear... I was finally able to hand it over to the Lord.

At 5:30am I was back in the tub and Caleb poured water on my back along with the help of Jeanette and Jody, I was so exhausted and so Jeanette mixed some natural, safe, energy drinks for me to take. Debbie rubbed peppermint essential oil all over me, and gave me rescue remedy. I remember very clearly the moment I felt him coming down. I went from my hands and knees position and stood straight up on my knees and almost in a cry told Debbie, “He is coming NOW, Debbie!” That was at about 5:50am. My mind was focused and I concentrated through each contraction pushing as hard as I could.

I leaned back in the tub and blew out a few candles that were behind me so my hair wouldn't catch fire. Debbie instructed Caleb to reach down and put counter pressure on my bottom once they were able to see his head. Jeanette grabbed a mirror so I could see my baby boy, that helped me see I was making progress and my heart was so full because I knew it wouldn't be long until my sweet baby would be in my arms. I reached down and was able to feel a head full of hair. I remained calm and Debbie had me blow through a few contractions so that I couldn't tear. That was the most difficult part... THE RING OF FIRE!!! In a low exasperated voice I said, “It hurts sOOooOo BAD!” Debbie checked to make sure his cord wasn't around his neck and at 6:42 his head was out. A few more pushes later and at 6:44am on October 25th, 2014 I reached down and with Caleb's help we pulled our precious baby boy out of the water. I was able to hold him in my arms, still in the tub for about 10 minutes while his cord was still pulsating. He was covered in vernix but all I seen was this adorable baby boy and I held him close to me as Jeanette handed me blankets to wrap him in. I kissed him over and over and over and told him I loved him. I grabbed Caleb's hand and reached up and kissed him and told him, “He is finally here!” We both had tears of joy flowing as we stared at this amazing gift God had just blessed us with. We admired him and Jody took pictures of these sweet moments. Once his cord stopped pulsating, Caleb was able to cut his cord. During this joyous moment I remember starting to feel very faint and I felt as if something was terribly wrong. Little did we know, over the next few hours/days we would experience possible the most trying and emotional moments of our lives.

As I lifted my baby boy up and handed this beautiful blessing to his Daddy, I noticed the water in the tub was bright red. We had done tons of research, watched TONS of home birth videos online, and took child birth classes with our midwife and I knew this was NOT normal. Debbie quickly got me out of the tub and laid me on the floor and there I delivered the placenta, on my own, without the help of any contractions. My body was not clamping down, I was hemorrhaging. I began to feel more weak and dazed and I didn't really know what was happening. All I could think about was the sound of my baby's cries, which I also knew didn't sound right. Eventually Debbie got the bleeding under control and moved me to the bed. Even as ill as I felt I was more concerned with the sounds Elijah was making. I could barely lift my arms but wanted to hold my baby boy. Jody brought him to me and placed him on the bed beside me as Caleb laid next to me. Jody then went and woke up Keegan to come see his baby brother. I was so weak and was getting worse, every time I moved I would begin to bleed again. Elijah was not interested in breastfeeding at all which concerned me even more. At some point Debbie put Elijah on oxygen because his breathing was labored. After several hours of Debbie working on the both of us she made the extremely rough decision to transport. Debbie walked over and said something like, “Now don't panic Michelle, but it's time to take you in, I've done all I can.” That was when it really begin to hit me... I knew something was serious if we needed to transport.

At around 10am the Police and the EMTs arrived. I don't remember much except them putting in an IV and talking amongst themselves. My husband and Jody rushed around and packed things. Caleb called a good friend and had her pick Keegan up. I asked Caleb if he would call my mom and have her meet us at the hospital... I was scared. Caleb looked at me with a face I will never forget- tears filled his eyes and for the first time in my life I could see he was scared. He barely spoke the words, “I love you.” I looked back at him and said, “I love you too! Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere.” He said nothing. But I knew he was praying we would all make it through this.

The EMTS talked about how to get me to the ambulance and I remember them talking amongst themselves saying that if they sat me up I would faint. Sure enough as they picked me up to put me in the chair to move me outside, I fainted. I woke up 4 or 5 times only to pass out again. It was like a movie that kept skipping little clips. They put Elijah and I in the ambulance and as soon as we got to Labor and Delivery they took Elijah to NICU and me into my own room and sadly tore Caleb away from us both to do paperwork.

To spare you crazy details, I will briefly overview the next 10 days. I will also tell you in those 10 days our Faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, grew stronger than ever.

The nurses stopped my bleeding and the Doctor came in and first off started criticizing me for choosing to do a home birth. He continued to talk down to me but I didn't let it bother me to much. I just figured he doesn't trust God as much as we do, after all, pregnancy is not an illness and it shouldn't be treated as such. God made a woman’s body to give birth and he gave us earthly physicians for the times we need them... but enough on that or I'll get on my soap box!!!

Blood work was done and a few hours later it was determined that I needed a blood transfusion, 3 actually, and I would need antibiotics because I had an infection. I was informed that I had lost 2/3 of my blood. I now know, after that experience alone, God was with me and you will see by the end of this story how God's plan is perfect even when we question it and even when we come close to loosing our own life or the life of our child. We see such a small piece of a GIANORMOUS puzzle. God walks with us always and his love is limitless.

I was unable to get out of bed and go see my baby until the second day. That evening I took my first shower and was pushed in a wheelchair to the bedside of my big strong baby boy. He was 10 pounds and 2 oz and was 21 ½ inches long. He was so perfect!!! He barely fit in the incubator. He had a million cords and wires attached to him and at that point we couldn’t hold him due to the IV they had sewn into his little belly button. The X-rays showed he had fluid in his lungs – he had a lung infection – so he also, was on antibiotics. Because of the fluid in his lungs, he was unable to eat, for the first two days of his life he was given fluids and vitamins intravenously. On day 2 they began feeding him my pumped breast milk through his feeding tube. We later found that the placenta had an infection. Doctors told us since there were no indications of the infection while I was pregnant that we would have had the exact same situation whether we birthed in the hospital or at home. So the complications where not from having a home birth, none of it could have been prevented and was all God's plan (I think God wanted to strengthen our faith).

The first 2 or 3 days were the toughest, though each day had its own challenges and forced us to our knees and we grew to see how present The Lord was. Doctors finally inserted a PIC line which is an IV that starts in the arm and follows the vein until it gets right above the heart where it stops. We prayed through that procedure and when it was complete I was finally able to hold my lil Elijah. He had the PIC line for his entire 10 day stay in the NICU. Every day he got stronger. We would watch the numbers on the monitors reach the goals the Doctors had set and we would rejoice over each accomplishment.

Day 2 Elijah was lifting his head and turning to face the other way. The Doctor's and nurses were amazed at how big he was and how strong. One X-ray technician asked the Doctor to move him down in his incubator and Doctor Colosso said, “Ummm... I cannot, he is to big and his feet are touching already.”

Day 3 at 9am I was finally able to breastfeed and he knew exactly what to do. He was a pro!!!! From then on I had to walk to the NICU and feed every 3 hours around the clock. It was something I didn't even think about... I just did it! I started pumping as soon as I could sit up and I continued pumping after every feeding to start and increase my supply and to store some up as well.

I was discharged from the hospital on October 28th. We had no idea how it was gonna work with me breastfeeding every 3 hours and living 30 minutes from the hospital, but God provided. We were blessed every night with a bed and even meals thanks to The Ronald McDonald Family Room. We stayed there until Elijah was discharged from NICU. The only time we left the hospital was after the 9am feeding. We had to check out of our room each morning and wouldn't know if we would get it again until that evening at 4pm. So we would leave after the 9am feeding and come home to shower, repack, and reorganize. I would pump and we would be back before the 3pm feeding, so I only missed 1 feeding per day with him. The nurses would feed him my pumped breast milk then.

One day while at home, Keegan knocked my pump off the bed and it broke. I was in a panic, I was engorged and I knew we couldn't afford a new one but within one hour God provided me with a new medela electronic double breast pump. While in the hospital our family, church family, and friends visited and brought flowers and gifts. One gift in particular warmed my heart and I knew God had moved this women and spoke to her. I had only met Merry Beth about a month before the birth of Elijah and she came to see us while I was still in the hospital and in her hand was a huge gift bag. When she came in my IV line was beeping and several things were going on so she dropped off the gift. A few hours later I was able to open it. I bawled when I seen an Olive green Moby Wrap, you see this women barely knew me and she had no way of knowing that I couldn't afford this wrap but wanted it so badly. She even got the color that I had wanted!!!! There were several other items in the bag and it touched my heart that she would give so freely to someone she barely knew! I could never express my gratitude enough. She was so humble and so loving. After several Thank you messages, she shared with me how God worked through her with this gift. Just a few months prior to Elijah being born, she had lost a sweet grand-daughter in the same NICU and the Lord moved in her and she felt the urgency to bless us the way she wished she could her grand baby. Every day I wear that Moby, I am reminded that life should never be taken for granted. None of us are promised tomorrow. I'm so grateful that God healed my little boy and so saddened for those who have lost theirs.

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." 

In the following weeks the church that we attended for only a month before the birth of our son, had planned several meals to bring to us. Later we were blessed with a smoked turkey and $100 gift card for Thanksgiving. And then just this last week God provided another Turkey and sack of groceries. You see, through the darkest, hardest moments of our life, when we don't understand why God led us “THERE”.... He shows us he is ever present... he loves us... he cares.... even when we can't explain “WHY”. He will always provide when we are in need and when we are weak he will show and teach us something amazingly beautiful. We are not suppose to understand it all.... Its beyond what we can comprehend – God is just that AWESOME!!!

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

We are so Blessed to have our healthy baby with us. As tough as those first few weeks were, we grew so much as a family. Now we have a new perspective on life.

{Elijah is now 9 years old. But I wanted to share this story here because it was in these moments that God really grew our faith. I hope that this story encourages you, no matter what you are going through!}

<3 The Bohemian Homemaker

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