Elsie's Birth Story

*WARNING: this is a long post. Also, I do talk about and refer to many birth related things. If that weirds you out, you can't say I didn't warn you.*

For weeks prior to my due date, I had been having contractions that made me wonder if our Elsie girl was coming early. Along with the contractions, I was also more dilated/effaced as the weeks went by. My midwife was certain I wouldn't go full term and so was I. Alas, April 10th came closer and closer. Then it passed. I became so anxious! On Saturday, April 13th, I was very emotional as I struggled to balance feeling like I was trusting God's perfect plan in one moment and in the next, pleading with Him to bring Elsie to us soon and on her own. That night, my dear friend, Annika, took me on a date to Shari's. We ate greasy food and laughed. Then we walked around Wal-Mart where I had some contractions and joked that labor had to be coming soon.

The next morning was Sunday, April 14th, four days past Elsie's due date. I woke up around seven o'clock to a contraction that made me think Ouch!! This really hurts! But I didn't think anything of it... until the next one came just a few short minutes later. I had a couple more contractions in bed. As I felt the fourth one coming, I jumped out of bed because it was too painful to work through laying down. I went to the bathroom, walked around, and decided to start timing them. They were coming every four to five minutes. I sat on our yoga ball, breathing to relax because the contractions were getting more and more intense. I decided that I should probably take a shower in case I really was in labor. As I showered, the contractions still came. I found myself washing my hair super fast, knowing that the next one was coming. A contraction would come and I would get in the zone, waiting for it to pass. Then I washed my body super fast before the next one. It was all about making it through the next contraction. I got dressed as quickly as possible so that I could wake Danny up. I calmly said, "Sweetie. Hey... so, I think I'm in labor." He jumped out of bed instantly, wondering why I didn't wake him up sooner! At this point it was 8:45 am. Believer it or not, I wasn't 100% convinced that it was true labor yet.

After Danny was awake enough and dressed, we finished packing the hospital bag. Then we notified our doulas and my best friend, who would all make up my support team. Our sister had arrived to take care of Amelia and we had called the hospital to say we would be on our way soon. The moment I knew for sure I was in labor was when Danny asked for a phone number while I was in the middle of a contraction and I snapped back, "That's what Google is for!" Shortly after this, we left for the hospital! 

We were welcomed at the hospital by the most lovely nurses at 10 am. Our delivery nurse was Ileine, a very sweet, older nurse. The birthing center was quiet and slow. I was only the third laboring mom to be there that day. We went to our room where they checked my dilation and monitored my contractions. I was seven centimeters dilated and fully effaced! The contractions were still coming every four minutes. We were shocked and ecstatic! The nurse even noted during one of my contractions how I was beginning to shake, excited that I was already near transition! All that time spent being over due and having random contractions really did help. We were definitely "keepers"!

But there were a few things to clear up before they got things going. At my last pre-natal appointment, my midwife informed me that because of my gestational diabetes, we wouldn't be able to do a water birth as planned. However, there was a blood test she could run that, if it came back within normal range, could reverse my diagnosis, making me eligible to do a water birth. I gave blood at my last appointment the week before but we hadn't heard the results yet. Because of that, we just anticipated not being able to do the water birth. Roberta, the charge nurse, confirmed with the women's clinic that the results had actually come back and were within normal range! So the nurses began inflating the tub and filling it with water in another room while I labored on the yoga ball {my best friend until I got in the water}. An hour passed and we were finally able to go to the room where I would deliver our baby. I walked down the hall and Roberta told me I could stop if my contractions were too much. I said, "NOPE! I'm walking this baby out!" 

We settled into our room and I couldn't get in the birthing pool fast enough. The water was warm and amazing. I was starting to feel so achy in my back and hips. But water combined with massage from my support people nearly alleviated that pain. It helped me feel light as I worked through the contractions. We did very little monitoring through-out my whole labor. However, there were just a couple stretches where they had to monitor Elsie's heart through contractions. My midwife, June, was still being cautious about the gestational diabetes, which I could respect. Thankfully, they were able to do the monitoring while I was still in the tub. Nurse Ileine was shaky while she did the monitoring. Our charge nurse had informed us earlier in the morning that it was Ileine's first water birth, since the hospital has only allowed them for the last year and a half. She was also really chatty, which annoyed me at first. But I realize looking back that that was probably her sweet, little nerves.

the best cheerleader ever ♥
I spent two hours in the pool before my contractions were combined with feeling like I needed to push. June had me get out so she could check for progress in my dilation. I was still seven centimeters. At this point she said, "Well, the water is helping you stay comfortable. We need to do something different if you want to progress faster. We can break your water if you want. That will speed things up for sure." to which I replied, "Are there any other options?" She suggested walking around and remaining upright as much as possible. I went with that. For about twenty minutes, I alternated walking around my room and doing deep squats through contractions. But still I wondered if I should just have her break my water. Danny and I went into the bathroom where I had a contraction. Then I asked him what he thought about having my water broken. He said, "I don't know. It feels like we would be taking too much control. We have trusted all along that God would bring Elsie at exactly the right time. Maybe we should just wait a little bit and see what happens." I fully agreed and appreciated his gentle leading. June came in to jokingly say, "Don't have that baby on the toilet!" We laughed, I used the restroom, and had another contraction. This one was the most intense one yet. I thought it would be getting over and it just kept happening. I was yelling a lot and then I felt my body starting to push. I couldn't believe how involuntary of a feeling it was! Because of my "pushy sounds", June ran in to say that I needed to get in the birthing pool as soon as possible. This was around 1:30 pm, just three and a half hours after getting to the hospital!

I got back into the tub as quickly as I could. They monitored Elsie one last time and I remember thinking Hurry and be done! I need to have this baby! They finished about ten minutes later. June had me feel for Elsie's head in the birth canal. Oh my heavens, it was right there! I said to June, "I think it's her head!? It's really hard!" June replied, "Alrighty! That means you won't be pregnant for much longer!" In that moment, I felt a surge of adrenaline as I realized it was go-time. June told me that in order to get Elsie under my pubic bone and out quickly, I had to lean back through contractions as opposed to leaning forward {like hanging over the side of the pool which I had been doing the whole time prior}. It didn't sound as comfortable as I would have liked but I was willing to give it a try. I settled into my birthing position which was leaning back into Danny's arms as he knelt outside the pool behind me. The birthing tub had handles on each side. And believe me, I used those suckers {a day later and for about three days past that, my entire upper body was sore, as if I had done bench presses for days!}. Amanda and June were to my left, encouraging me with words, ice water, and gentle touch as I began to push Elsie down and out.

I had no idea what to expect as far as the pain... only that it would be the most intense feeling of my life. And oh wow, was it ever. The term I hear most often is "ring of fire". Yes, that. I had no idea how to breathe through that kind of pain so I screamed bloody murder a couple of times. But Danny and Amanda would remind me to go low so I would try to make low rumble sounds mostly. Think of the song Misty Mountains Cold from The Hobbit. I wish I were kidding! My entire support team reminded me to keep breathing, to not panic, and to let it all happen slowly.

all glowy & stuff
After a couple good pushes, Elsie's head was coming out. During this contraction, my water broke. I was in water so I figured I wouldn't notice. Nope. I felt it... like a giant balloon bursting inside me, I felt the pressure of it all. And it freaked the heck out of me! So much so that I screamed about that, too. {I'm glad it was a quiet day in the birthing center... people might have thought I was insane.} Everyone yelled, "It's ok!! That was your water breaking! You're doing so great! She's almost here!" Next I had to push her shoulders out. My midwife was really encouraging me to just let Elsie hang out so that everything would have more of a chance to stretch. This would lessen the severity of tearing. But the urge to push and wanting the burning to stop was so intense that I just pushed Elsie out with one last push.

Elsie Camian Joy Maia
Instantly, the most intense pain of my life was gone! At 1:58 in the afternoon, four hours after being admitted to the hospital, I opened my eyes to see June pulling Elsie out of the water. Elsie's cord was wrapped around her shoulder so June untangled her before placing our Elsie girl in my arms. She looked at me with the brightest eyes and a few little yelps. But mostly, she was just content to be with her mama. One of the first things I said about her was, "Oh my word!! She looks just like Amelia!" After a few minutes of snuggles, Danny cut her umbilical cord. Then he took her for some skin-to-skin time while I was helped into bed to deliver the placenta and get stitches for a second degree tear. Forty five minutes later, Elsie latched perfectly and nursed for an hour. She was 8 pounds 5 ounces {the exact weight as her big sister}, 20 3/4 inches long with a head circumference of 14.5 inches!

our family of four
A couple hours after Elsie was born, I showered. We spent some time admiring our sweet girl. And at 5 pm, our sister, Liz, brought Amelia to the hospital so she could meet her little sister. It was love at first sight. Amelia couldn't get enough of Elsie. My mama heart about exploded.

I am overwhelmed with joy over getting to have my perfect birth! There's so much more I could say but I want to save all of that for a more reflective, debriefing post. Overall, it was the most amazing experience of my life so far. :)


  1. Wow Shelia! What a beautiful story. My heart is swelling from reading it...God is amazing the way he designed life and it's birth. Thank you for letting us catch a glimpse of the story He is writing for you. :) love you...Kate C

  2. Thanks for sharing your beautiful birth story! I am proud of you!!!

  3. You have an incredible gift, that I didn't know until I read this. What a beautiful story and must confess am a tad jealous at the wonderful innovations that are there for the birthing process. Hope to meet baby Elsie soon.