I must start by saying how blessed I am to have had 4 healthy pregnancies and children, each different in their own way. I am thankful for the personal growth I’ve seen throughout these journeys and the understanding I’ve gained about how incredible the human body is.
To summarize my pregnancies:
Ella : Natural Hospital Birth with OB and Doula
Arlo: Natural Breech Hospital Birth with Delivering Dr., Midwife and Doula
June: Natural Home Birth with Midwife and Doula
Isaac:Natural Home Birth with Midwife and Doula
There really is no comparison to bringing life into this world. Birthing day is something I remember vividly with each of my four kids. If you’ve read June’s birth story you may recall me referring to it as race day. I’ve run a lot of marathons, and you cannot just go out and run them – you must train and prepare for months. Similarly, pregnancy and birth is something I’ve prepared my body and mind for over the course of 10 months.
I worked on this by trying to eat healthy whole foods, keeping my energy up with exercise, and my mind clear with positive people around me. I felt great taking hot and regular yoga up until the day I delivered. I also read and re-read Ina May Gaskin’s book Guide to Childbirth which helped me get in the right head space for labor. During this pregnancy, I also took a Postpartum Corrective Exercise Course that helped me prepare and learn key exercises and practices for a healthy postpartum.
With that being said, my family’s support throughout was also very important– especially my amazing husband who is always positive and supportive of all of my crazy ideas and decisions to help me feel good during these months and beyond. I also had an amazing birth team of midwife Sheryl Shafer and doula Katie Richardson.
Thank you for reading and for your support throughout my pregnancy and now my postpartum journey! I hope Isaac’s birth story is a positive and inspiring read for you or any soon to-be-mamas!
Isaac Elliott’s Birth Story:
After waiting 40 weeks to meet your baby, you start googling everything you can do to start the labor process, am I right? Or is it just me?! My husband’s advice was “just assume you are going to deliver two weeks later than your due date so when your due date arrives you aren’t a mess.” Solid advice, but that’s easier said than done. For this fourth kid, I started to do ‘ALL’ the things around 37 weeks to try to get things moving – I’ll just leave this Instagram post for you to check out everyone’s suggestions!
What I tried: I had been drinking pitchers of red raspberry leaf tea and stinging nettles daily. I exercised daily (sometimes twice a day) with brisk walks, yoga, and a sculpt class that I had to modify towards the end but still enjoyed. I even started walking the curbs in my neighborhood. I started the 3 sisters pregnancy routine, the Miles Circuit, and eating dates, pineapple, papaya, spicy food, celery juice, eggplant….you name it, I tried it!
The point is, in all 4 pregnancies I cannot pin point one specific thing that actually put me into labor. The baby comes when he/she is ready to come, and we just have to be patient and trust the process, right?!
My EDD (Estimated Due Date) was on Saturday, October 26th and I had basically surrendered and decided we’re just going to go on with our lives and let this baby come whenever it wants. Lucky for me, this is the day that signs of labor actually started, so here we go!
9am on Saturday my son had a soccer game and afterwards I decided I would wog (walk/jog) the 5 mile trail home to clear my mind and get some exercise. This walk helped me get super crampy and started intense Braxton Hicks, something I had felt over the last 3 days whenever I did any type of exercise. I got home and was still crampy for an hour. My Doula suggested I take a bath to see if the cramps would go away. She also mentioned sometimes when you relax they may come back with a rhythm which is what I wanted to happen (early labor signs!).
1pm on Saturday after the bath the cramps returned with a rhythm, lasting 20-30 seconds every 10 minutes HOORAY! I tried to relax, but if you know me, I’m not good at that. I ended up doing the 90 minute Miles Circuit to see if I could get things going. They stayed consistent, and around 5:30pm I went to the bathroom and started to see part of my mucus plug. For me this was super exciting because for my other labors, things started moving pretty quickly after that. This could also mean ABSOLUTELY nothing, so I tried to not get too excited. Between 5:30-9:30pm I lost more and more of my mucus plug and thought it could be a long Saturday night. Thankfully, I decided not to read into it and just went to bed and hoping to get woken up with stronger cramps and contractions. Either way, something was happening! I slept from 9pm-4am and then at 4am got up, pretty frustrated that nothing new was happening. So I started the Miles Circuit again. That kept my inactive labor going for 20-30 seconds every 10 minutes.
Sunday October 27th
6am after completing the Miles Circuit I made the family banana bread and got on my big Theraband ball doing some exercises I found on spinningbabies.com that I’ll link here. My daughter had gymnastics at 10:30am at they gym and I thought okay, I’ll bring her and pray that my water breaks on the treadmill! So the whole family went in and I got on the treadmill, cranked the incline and walked through the contractions. At this point they were getting stronger but were still only 30-40seconds every 10 minutes. After walking for 40 minutes I went to a spare room to connect with my breath on my yoga mat. I flowed into whatever felt good (see IG post) which was lots of juicy hip openers.
11:30am after gymnastics we took a family trip to Whole Foods so we could get easy lunch items for kids for the week and a quick lunch. This is where things got exciting! During our sit down lunch the waves started coming every 5 minutes! They still lasted only 30-40 seconds and were not too intense, but made for some funny looks from shoppers. When this happened we quickly jumped in the car and headed home.
1:30pm at home my husband got the kids down for naps and I went to work singing songs and rocking out each wave on my ball in my bathroom. I contacted my Doula and told her where I was at and she said to text her when they got to a minute long every 5 minutes. I’m going to say this is where active labor started – YIPPEE!
Around 2:30pm my husband captured some fun footage of me on the ball here – picture below! Longer and stronger waves got me excited and ready do this! I’ll share the spotify playlist that helped me rock out up until my Doula got there HERE.
3:30pm my Doula got to our house and the first thing we did was check in with timing so we could notify my Midwife. I was transitioning to more intense waves. Circles on my ball with my Doula pressing the heating pad on my back felt amazing and helped me get into a good rhythm. My favorite mantra this time around was open, wide open and yes, the Dixie Chicks song was definitely playing in my head multiple times! My Midwife told me to let her know when the waves were coming faster than 5 minutes, so my goal each wave to was to talk to my baby and my body and ask for more intensity. I was thinking during each wave YES, OPEN, LONGER, STRONGER.
5:00pm and we made it to pretty intense waves that were coming close to 3-4 minutes apart sometimes backing after I went to the bathroom every 2 minutes. I remember reading in the Ina Book going to the bathroom was good for relaxing and opening the cervix – hence the super uncomfortable waves that came after it. For anything that was uncomfortable, I would mentally tell myself it felt good and relaxed using my exhales. Labor really starts to become a mental game at this point. We told my Midwife about my progress and she said she was on her way. This is where time slipped away from me and I had to mentally get in my zone. No more counting the seconds of the waves. My goal was just to focus on breathing through each of them and use whatever low sounds felt good and lots of shhhhh-ing. When this happens I know we’re getting past the tough part, most likely past the 5cm-7cm mark.
5:20pm I asked to get in the tub. My Doula thought that was a good idea based on how my waves were sounding. I was feeling a little bit pushy and having to get low and deep with my sounds. I was far enough along where labor was not going to stall out.
5:30pm my midwife got to our house and brought her stuff in. She didn’t check me for cervix dilation, she just told me if I felt like pushing to go ahead (since this was my 4th). I tried to bring the baby down over the next couple of waves with some pushing, but didn’t feel him moving down and actually felt like I was tiring myself out. She checked me and told me I still had a little bit of cervix to move out of the way. Over the next two waves she tried to help get it out of the way but it didn’t help. She told me I had get through the next couple of waves relaxing and letting my cervix completely dilate.
“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth as well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
I felt defeated at that point. My legs were shaking, I was tired, and the first word out of my mouth was not a nice word let’s leave it at that. I looked at myself in the mirror (glad it was there for me in my bathroom tub) and I told myself to get back to work. There is no way out and your body isn’t a lemon (see my favorite Ina May quote above), it knows how to do this, you just need to breathe and get out of its way. So that’s what I did. I took the next 4-5 waves and relaxed through them the best I could. Then all of a sudden I felt a relief. I made it to transition. I had about a five minute break to get off of all fours and sit on my bottom and relax. I vaguely remember giving my baby a pep talk, telling him you’ve got this, all we have to do now is move you down and out.
6:15pm or close to it – I started to push and move this little guy down. After 6 waves or so my midwife could feel his head. These next 3 were the most intense because his head was stretching my perineum so he could move through without tearing. I remember my Midwife saying you don’t have to get him out fast, you don’t have to power through, let them come down slowly. With that in mind, I would push channeling my abdominals and at the same time try to relax my bottom, weird concept but it helped with the intensity of the pressure I had felt in my bottom. Give that relaxed bottom thing a try next time you go poo – it helps!
Strength, Relax, Open was my mantra in my head for those 3-4 waves to help get his head out. Once it was out I started to turn halfway over from all fours. With one more wave I gave it my all and pushed so I could meet this little guy. 6:41pm he was delivered and placed on my chest where he took his first breath in my arms a second later. Eyes wide open, hand grasping my bra….he was here. We did it, and I have never felt so strong. These pictures say it all. There isn’t a feeling quite like delivering your own child. It’s not easy, but it is the most amazing feeling in the world.
After about 5 minutes I delivered the placenta. We took some time to allow the cord to stop pulsing and then my husband cut it. We slowly got out of the tub and snuggled in my bed. Isaac weighed 7 pounds and was 20.5 inches – my biggest baby. After my midwife did all of her checks on us and we got cleaned up, the kids, who were watching a movie in the toy room, got to come in and meet their baby brother Isaac Elliott.
By 8pm my amazing crew was gone, I had a lovely shower, and got back into my bed to stare at my son the remainder of the night. The human body is amazing and I am so thankful to have gone through this experience.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have below. I hope this was as inspiring to read as it was for me to write.
If you are interested in learning about my pregnancy / postpartum journey I have blog posts linked below. In each of these I have my favorite products that I’ve found work the best, some are updated for this 4th time around.