Eli’s Birth Story

Oh, how we do not know for what we ask!

When I asked God to help me to labor well – to glorify Him and worship Him in the midst of suffering – I imagined the foggy storm of transition and pushing. I was seeking His help to get through the violence and terror. I didn’t realize I would need it so much in the calm mundane of this waiting period. I couldn’t have predicted being pregnant in mid-June because everyone thought the birth would be early like Raychel’s. When I had contractions on May 24 we thought, “this is it!” with good reason. The only contractions I felt with RJ were the ones that led to her birth 8 hours later!

So we lit candles, turned on the music and worshipped God while I had mild, but frequent and building contractions. Gabe and I walked and they persisted – a good sign! Tessa came over and we praised God together in excited anticipation. Gabe left for work expecting to come back within a few hours.

Aquaponics System-2When they faded we were surprised. When I had early labor signs again a week later we were disappointed when they stopped. By the third time I was just about devastated. With my midwife’s encouragement I sobbed in bed while my entire birth team sat in the living room. I felt embarrassed, worn out, dismayed and frustrated that the child I thought I would be holding was still in my womb. Gabe took me on a walk to tell him and God how I felt and he led me to praise God through tears while we walked in the dark. Eventually my spirit felt the comfort of it’s Maker and I came back to the house able to celebrate what was happening – albeit slowly – with everyone before going to bed.

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Still, I fought disappointment almost every morning afterward. Waking up became a sacrifice, a short time of handing over to God my deferred hope and trusting Him to move this baby in His time. Some mornings were harder than others, but with His help I found joy in the waiting. My mom had come on May 25 so we did lots of “come out, baby” things {I ate the hottest hot sauce at Atilano’s, walked my hiney off at several locations, bounced on the yoga ball, ate ice cream because I had a shake before RJ came, got a henna tattoo, did plenty of massages to release oxytocin…} and nothing brought baby from my tummy to my arms. But boy did we make some great memories! We got to spend great time together and RJ had her GoGo all to herself for a while. We got out and did lots of things that I wouldn’t have done on my own. It was a blast!

Aquaponics System-26Which I think is kind of cool: that part of Eli’s birth story is all the fun we had in the weeks leading up. Along with the “false starts” (a term I hate because there was nothing false about them and they were obviously getting something accomplished!), I was having lots of mild contractions and he was getting into prime position during those weeks. So all the things we did and the memories we made are a part of his coming earthside. :)

Aquaponics System-32Mom helped make sure our time was filled with memorable experiences.

bubbles comebabyteaTessa hosted a little “Come Out Baby Berry” Tea. It didn’t work, but it was fun!

gogorjbedRJ got lots of sweet time with her GoGo. They have always had a very special relationship, but this time together just totally solidified their bond and gave RJ someone solid to cling to when Eli finally came and Momma was all out of it.

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The day before he came I was done. I was rather lighthearted because God had given me humor, but definitely over the whole pregnancy thing. I was also feeling weird menstrual-type cramps and just generally stretched out and full. We ran some errands and did some serious nesting while I waddled and ached. Our midwife came out for a visit and told my mom privately that I was going to have the baby that night. ;)

Sure enough, around 1:30am on June 13th, I woke up to contractions. They were like the other ones so I let Gabe know, but didn’t have him come home until an hour later when they weren’t letting up and were getting a bit more painful. During that hour we lit candles and turned on the worship music. By the time he got home it was getting real and totally contrary to RJ’s labor, I had to make the case that we should call the midwife! I’d phoned Tessa as well and around 3:30am she walked into the living room to my low toned moans (per Bradley instruction!) as I lie on the couch with Gabe providing the counter pressure on my back. I remember feeling a little pity for Tessa and Hannah who would have no build-up to the primal stuff. :) Shortly after that I moved to the back of the house where Gabe and I labored alone for a bit.

This is where I gush about my husband/coach. He was my rock. This man… He prayed over me, encouraged me, and physically supported me the entire time. He was confident and sure and steady… I was able to so totally depend on him. I cannot express what a gift that was. I also love that this is a part of our son’s birth story. His father was our strong and humble leader through our work together. Already showing Eli how it’s done. God allowed and facilitated the deeply bonding experience with Gabe that I’d wanted for this labor. He was amazing during RJ’s birth, but I wanted it to be more us this time and it totally was.

Brittany arrived in this window and I laid down in bed and told her I was scared of what was coming. She encouraged me that pushing would be a relief and that I was getting through the hardest part. I think she reminded me of God’s truth and I can’t say I felt totally at peace or anything, but I knew she was right and we could do it. So I started pushing on the bed and let them (the midwife was there by then, too) know that I wanted to sit up. Again, Gabe was my guy. He held me up and helped me to the end of the bed where I took my place on the birth stool and he supported me from behind.

Another cool thing that God allowed me to experience this time was that pushing actually DID feel good! With RJ pushing was the worst part. It was scary and shocking and I didn’t feel any sense of presence, much less control. This time, however, I was intentional and on top of the contractions. It may not have been noticeable, but I actually smiled when I got to push, knowing that each contraction was one bit closer to meeting my baby. With RJ I had no frame of reference, but this time I knew what was coming. I knew the overwhelming joy of holding my sweet baby. I remembered vividly what it felt like to bring that messy little darling to my chest and I wanted to do it again! The thought of meeting this child was sustaining.

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I remember hearing this song while pushing.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
O my soul. Worship His Holy Name.
Sing like never before,
O my soul. Worship His Holy Name.”

When I got to the stool and saw the midwife put on her gloves I knew it would be soon. I’m told I passed out and I remember feeling faint, but I also remember being able to internally worship along with the music between contractions. The songs led me to focus on God’s greatness and love so between the pushing I wasn’t scared or overwhelmed, I felt calm. Then I would get an urge and push with all my strength until finally I felt his head coming. I was so excited! I pushed through the pain and there he was! I got to hold his sweet little head before the next push and that was truly a dream come true! Getting to touch him brought me such delight. The pain didn’t matter and I no longer felt faint. Finally, at 5:35am I pushed once more, the midwife caught his body and he was on my chest in an instant! He was perfect! Everyone was smiling or laughing or crying in the overwhelming joy he brought. Gabe was thanking me and I was thanking him as we held our new baby. We checked his gender and I said, “It’s my boy!!” Gabe and I were so proud. Raychel woke up right at the end and came in to meet him. She was groggy and stunned, but it is still one of those keeper-memories that I will return to often, I’m sure.

The rest of the morning was spent cuddling our sweet boy. He latched on like a pro and did lots of snoozing. We burned the umbilical cord apart because we’re weird hippies and I didn’t have to let go of my boy until it felt right. His newborn exam was done on our bed and I got to share him with my sweet sisters and my mom who were all just over the moon for him (quite reasonably).

God is so good… If I ever question His intimate care or whether or not He answers personal requests, I have quite an altar to go back to. It wasn’t this intensely emotional “mountaintop” experience, but my prayers were certainly answered. I had asked for the presence of mind to worship Him, not to get an emotional high. I’d asked for His help to consider Him in my time of suffering and He gave me that! I had lots of time to praise Him through song and prayer and fellowship in those early labor weeks and during active labor I was able to listen to and privately worship Him in my head. I also greatly desired to be more “with it” and He gave me that as well. I knew what was happening as it was happening and I felt like a woman laboring rather than a woman enduring labor. I am so so so grateful for both of my birth experiences and the sweet care God has shown me.

Almost all the photos were taken by Hannah! :)

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One of those early labor nights. :)

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Okay, it’s happening tonight!

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Mom reading scripture I had highlighted for the birth.

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Aquaponics System-57BABY!

Aquaponics System-63 Aquaponics System-64Our first baby meeting our second baby. Too cool.

Aquaponics System-66My hero.

Aquaponics System-74 Aquaponics System-78I think he’s looking at me! This is one of my favorite photos.

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Mom getting the coffee going. Important things.

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Part of my birth team. :) Tessa and Hannah ROCK. Tessa came to all my nights of labor and was so faithful to pray and worship and just bring a spirit of joyful praise! She gave me an assured calmness. She is the one who remembered to read Scripture and was a great, constant encouragement every second of this journey. Hannah also brought such a sweet and joyful spirit and really helped me with the waiting with acutely meaningful encouragement and reminders of God’s truths. She also took the photos I will cherish the rest of my life!

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Spelt cookies! My mom made this big batch right before bed so they served as a yummy treat for everyone after the birth.

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The blessed birth stools. I can proudly say that I did use the old-timey wooden one. But the modern one was way more comfortable. :)

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Proud Poppa!

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Tessa wrote down a couple quotes. lol

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Burning the cord. We did it to take some time out and sort of appreciate that he’s no longer part of me. It took about 15-20 minutes and I loved that I had time to reflect on the pregnancy and the significance of his birth and separation from me. It’s the first of many times that he’ll need to take a step away from me and I’m glad we honored it. :’)

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GoGo cut the cord closer to his body so we didn’t have a long one to get all smelly.

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Brittany (a.k.a.: angel doula) was the one RJ clung to during all the hoopla.

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My tree got smaller!

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Man, I feel like a Momma.

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I love this.

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