08 July 2013

when Ellie arrived, part I

A note before telling Elizabeth's birth story: we made these decisions for our daughter. I would encourage any woman with a healthy pregnancy to take the same path, but if you decided to do things another way, that is okay! I think the most important thing is for you to do your own research, pray, and go forward feeling confident in whatever seems wise and safe to you.

So I'm not telling this story in order to inspire guilt in those who chose differently. Just to celebrate God's faithfulness to us, encourage other mamas-to-be, and explain why we did what we did. We think it was great. Maybe you will too.

Carry on.


We were convinced she'd be late.

All first-timers deliver late, right? And my mom had always gone past her due date, so surely I would. We had so much left to do, anyway-- purchase some furniture, find a washer and dryer, set up the changing table, get some meals in the freezer.

There had been no time for childbirth classes (not even the little one offered by the birth center) because remodeling our house had taken top priority for the past five months. No Bradley or Lamaze or Hypnobabies. I had a mountain of research under my belt and felt prepared intellectually; I trusted the midwives. But Jared and I had yet to walk through the process together. It was already March 27th and we still needed to figure out what we were going to do.

38 weeks and counting.

That was fine, though, because there was a week and a half until Ellie's due date.

I had enjoyed a wonderful baby shower four days earlier (as you can see in the pictures accompanying this post), and we'd moved into our house six days before that. Now that the initial whirlwind of unpacking had slowed, we'd find the extra time that had been lacking throughout my pregnancy.

Then my water broke.

We were at a friend's house, and I'd gone to the bathroom just oooone more time before getting ready to leave. It was around 9:30 PM. While washing my hands, I felt a sudden, well, wetness. 

Oh brother. I didn't just pee myself, did I? I don't think so. Nope. Hmmm . . .

I calmly went downstairs and we headed home. During the whole car ride, I kept feeling little spurts of water. This is surreal. Tonight? Really? As we walked from the garage to the house, I said: "Listen, don't freak out, but I think my water just broke."

Jared stared at me, with much the same dumbfounded, are-you-sure expression he'd worn when I told him he was going to be a daddy.


"Yes. But I'm going to wait a while and see what happens."


The water kept coming as I puttered around the house. Just tiny trickles, but no doubts now. At 10:30 PM I called the birth center and talked to Dana, one of my favorite midwives.

Presents!!! and Aunt Rachel.
To back up nine months . . . I had felt for a while that I wanted a delivery free of unnecessary interventions. A delivery that was treated as a normal function of my body rather than a medical crisis. I knew I had the best chance of that in a non-hospital setting. Midwife-led birth centers are very successful institutions (a study just came out confirming their impressive safety and effectiveness) and Birth Care is the perfect example of this model. The midwives take a warm interest in all their patients and give them a lot of individual autonomy, both during the pregnancy, for things like glucose testing and vaccinations, and during delivery, with minimal internal exams or stressful "bossing around." (Especially if you have your husband there. They let the two of you work without interference until it's actually required.)

Basically, they emphasize the natural ability of each woman to give birth, and provide a lot of encouragement along the way. But they are also medically savvy, equipped with everything but an operating table, and fully aware when a hospital transfer is needed.

The midwives at Birth Care happily attend home births should you choose that, but I decided to deliver at the birth center instead . . . I liked the idea of going to a prepared, peaceful setting to do the messy work, and coming home when it was over.

Also the birth center has a hot tub. Winning.

Back to the story. Dana asked the typical questions: Was the fluid clear? (Yes.) What time did I notice it? (About an hour ago.) Any mucus? (Yup.) Any contractions? (Not particularly.) She concluded that I should go to bed and rest, then call at 9 the next morning to check in. Sounded good to me. I hung up and told Jared the plan.

My dear husband, who knew how I'd struggled with the daunting prospect of an unmedicated birth, looked at me and asked, "Are you scared?"

I smiled. Now that the moment had arrived, I couldn't wait to get started and meet our little girl. We still hadn't done any official prep. So what. Hadn't women been birthing babies for centuries before me? I had butterflies in my stomach (that is, in what little space Ellie hadn't requisitioned) . . . and they were fluttering in anticipation, not fear.

"No. Just excited."


  1. I'm excited to keep reading. So far, it started out like mine. I sincerely hope it didn't end like mine, for your sake! :)

    1. Haha, it didn't. I am still in awe of you. That was one LONG haul.

  2. I don't know how I missed this because I read birth stories with the assiduity of an extremely devoted crackhead, but I am so happy I found it now!