Birth Story: Ellia Gianna

So, Ellia’s birth was cray! That is the only way (and word I can use) to describe it! I was due to have her by Saturday, November 14th, 2015. Even though it’s just an estimated due date, I was truly hoping to go into labor and have her then. I was ready! Instead, Brian, Jonah & I went to our usual Saturday night service at church (as we had gone the previous night as well for a healing sermon). We made it through most of the service and then I started to get wicked bad contractions. I had been getting prodromal labor contractions for at least a week off/on, but these were a little different (and more painful). Once I told Brian what was happening, we both agreed to start heading home before the sermon ended. At this point I was pretty much losing focus on what Bishop Joseph Garlington was saying anyways, so it was probably the best thing.  

Once we got home, I had Brian get Jonah some dinner (I had made sauce before leaving for church that night), and get him ready for bed while I took a bath to see if things changed. They did – and they stopped! Even though my contractions stopped completely after having a bath, I was definitely getting excited at the progression I was having. Since I had called Allyssa to come over (in case we went into labor), she went ahead and spent the night at the house. The night was fairly normal, and we were able to get some much-needed rest!

On Sunday, things were pretty much like any other day. I didn’t really have too many more contractions – maybe I did but I don’t remember them being too bad, and we just went on with our day. We basically just took it easy, and then by the end of the night I had made Brian get me a Publix wrap for dinner (as well as some Chinese food for he and Jonah). After dinner we did our usual night time routine for Jonah (with some dancing in-between), and then went ahead and got him off to bed. By the end of the night I had already called Allyssa back to the house to come over and watch Jonah in case something happened that night. She came over with Melanie and we visited for a while. We got Jonah into bed, and I took a shower. In the shower I was having some contractions that were pretty uncomfortable but I was able to bear them.

After the shower, Brian and I went into the room to watch a show we’ve been watching on Amazon Prime called “Suits”. We were just starting up an episode that we had stopped earlier when the labor pains (contractions) hit again. Things were starting to get uncomfortable. Brian then contacted Zoe (our doula) and she insisted that I get into the tub to see what happens again. I obliged ..even though I had just taken a shower 🙂 This was about 10:30PM.

I got into the tub, but things didn’t slow down. I was getting wicked bad contractions while laying there – and some were to the point of me crying in pain. About 11:00PM I talked to Zoe on the phone so that she could see how things were going, and if this was it. Little did I know, that Brian had already been texting her and she had mentioned that she thought it was the “real deal, but don’t tell her that” 🙂

By about 11:20PM my contractions were starting to get more intense, and I started to shake. Not sure if this was because I was nearing transitional labor or if it was because I was cold. That is when Zoe said she didn’t trust my patterns and decided to head over to the house. Zoe told us to let us know what the midwife says once we get the call back, and to let her know if she needed to head to the hospital instead of our place. I told Brian I honestly just thought we needed to go to the hospital, and talking to Antoinette it was confirmed that we should come in.


Allyssa helping me through a contraction by putting counter-pressure on my back! She was pretty dang good 😉

So Brian and I started gathering things together, left Allyssa to care for Jonah until the rents came and got him in the AM, and we left for Dekalb Medical Center. I will note that Allyssa did a very nice job of applying counter-pressure on me during a contraction before we left 😉 When driving (and before we even got to the interstate) I made sure to tell Brian to not “drive like an old lady”; as he does have a tendency to drive VERY safe, but it can be VERY slow! The ride to the hospital took us about 50 minutes. Brian drove the best he could, but my contractions started to get worse and worse! Luckily we made it to DMC in about 45-50 minutes give/take – and traffic was light because it was super late at night. As we were turning onto the main road to the hospital we saw a car beside us, and one that pulled in by us as we pulled into the women’s center – it was Zoe!

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When we first arrived in triage.

When we got to DMC, we proceeded to head up to L&D/triage to see the status of the baby. By 12:16PM we were at the hospital, getting checked for dilation, and being hooked up to some monitors in triage. Let me just say, hospitals are TERRIBLE with their check-ins. I don’t understand how you can ask a laboring woman to sign this paper and that paper and ask all these questions when they get there. Someone needs to change that…LOL! Once the nurse checked me, she measured me out to about 6cm; which was GREAT! I knew then that what I had been experiencing in the last week – and last couple of hours – was progression! Things for me in labor are super different. I honestly don’t think that I am able to have “normal” contractions. Contractions are hard, and everyone says they are ..but seriously, MY contractions with BOTH of my babies were CRAY! There seriously were no breaks, and they lasted about 5-6 minutes each. Every time one of the nurses or techs needed to ask me something, I honestly couldn’t respond to them. It was like that with Jonah, but it was worse with Ellia.


In triage, working through contractions.


Zoe, helping me through some more crazy contractions in our L&D room.

By 1-1:30AM, things were progressing and we were in our L&D room (#2003). When I was wheeled in (yes, wheeled in with the bed since I could NOT move my position at all), I heard peaceful music and the sound of water filling a super comfy-looking water birth tub. I was excited! Even though I couldn’t concentrate enough, or be aware of things around me as I worked through the pain ..this seemed pretty awesome. As soon as I got into this room, I went ahead and got naked. I don’t know what it is with me, I just don’t like things constricting me! And plus, all modesty is out when you give birth ..let’s just be honest 😉 I was soon able to get into the tub and BOY did it feel AMAZING!! The hot water was soothing, and it was nice being weightless as I labored in the tub! The funny thing is – I told them I had to pee right when I hit the water ..and I did. Sorry 😉 I was able to labor in the tub for a while, but the contractions I had were just horrible! 


Very relaxing, warm birth tub! It felt amazing getting in this!

They checked on Ellia while I was in the water; as well as the nurses checking my progression. It was about 2:15AM when Loren (our nurse) had another nurse check my progression, but she accidentally broke my water; which was fine at this point since they did say that I had a pretty good bag of water in front of Ellia (like with Jonah).  

Before this point Loren was having a hard time seeing what my dilation was at. It didn’t help that I couldn’t really get into a good position for anyone to check. After the water was broken, the nurse pointed out that I was up to 7-8 cm in dilation. There was some meconium in the water (and I was a little freaked out), but things just kept on progressing ..and started to get more painful.


As I was trying to push Ellia into an optimal position while in the birthing tub, I rested & was comforted by my amazing midwife Antoinette!


Antoinette (See Baby midwife) finally came into the room. My doula (Zoe) noted that my demeanor changed when she entered the room 🙂 At this point I couldn’t even talk to anyone (let alone LOOK around). She was able to check me as well and noted that it seemed like the baby was pretty high up still and I wasn’t fully dilated still. What she suggested next was seeing if when I bore down and pushed if Ellia would budge a little to move her position; as she said it seemed like her head was a little tilted/off-kilt. I tried doing that around 3:20AM; and even though the pushing helped me through the contractions, it didn’t do anything to bring her down. It was the strangest thing because once I was able to sort of push, some of my contractions seemed like they were a little more bearable – and I had some breaks that allowed me to randomly rest (in almost a sleep-like state).


Doula Love.

Soon Antoinette wanted to try something different, so she had me get out of the tub (around 3:50AM) and sit on the toilet and try to push while I was in a more “open” position. At this point things were just crazy, and I tried it but it didn’t work. I think I hugged Antoinette more than I pushed. It felt so comforting having her there – she has such a sweet spirit. At around 4:15AM I was out of the tub and onto the bed. I was checked again to see any progression and I was at 9cm still ..and 0 station. Nothing had changed. My doula Zoe joked later that it was like I went through 5 different transitions.


Me “hugging” Antoinette as I worked through contractions on the toilet. This seemed to be common-theme with me that day.

I think this was the most frustrating part ..the fact that she was just chillin’ up high, not moving down, not progressing and I was just getting these INTENSE no-break contractions over the course of 5-6 hours. All I know is that while I labored in the tub I kept saying “I couldn’t do it”. I would cry and scream it. I was literally crying my heart out because it was so intense. Usually when someone says that they can’t do it anymore, they are VERY close. Everyone was telling me it was close, but this lasted for a LONG time. So finally, to help with giving me a break in my contractions I was given an IV with fentanyl ..however that didn’t last too long. They also said I could get more, but would only last “x amount of time”; and I was just not having this pain anymore!


All hooked up!

Since things didn’t seem like they were progressing, and I was just exhausted and needed a break/relief ..I opted for an epidural. This was at about 6:45-7AM. To be honest, I was really down on myself about it. I had Jonah with no epidural and had a forceps-assisted delivery, AND I am a super semi-crunchy natural birth advocate that “didn’t like epidurals” but knew they were needed in certain circumstances. I didn’t realize that that circumstance would be mine! I have to say that my doula Zoe, Brian & my doula-in-training Kristen were super supportive of me in everything. I felt horrible. I felt like a failure, but Antoinette agreed that even though Ellia was looking great on the monitors, if we did an epidural it would probably help to slow down some of the contractions; giving me a much-needed break for my body to rest and recover – and be ready to birth this baby!


Me, getting some relief!

OMGOSH – as my friend Tara once said “Jesus loves epidurals”. And boy, was she right!! Even though I was having intense contractions before the anesthesiologist came in to do it, it was like HEAVEN to get one! It worked super fast, stung just a little (with needle numbing the area first, and pressure going in), but I was still able to slightly move my legs. It was pretty much the perfect epidural. Got rid of the intense, painful contractions I was having but I didn’t feel like I was “stuck” (as in unable to move my body completely). Obviously I couldn’t get out of the bed and walk, but it was great having the relief ..and I needed it! Plus, I really wasn’t into changing positions and/or walking around before the epi. I was pretty much over everything ..LOL!!

It was around 7:30AM when the epidural was all said and done. I was then able to get some rest off/on before having this baby! When shifts switched, we ended up meeting with Martha; as she was the next midwife on-call. I love Martha. She’s such a motherly-type, and it was great having her there. She didn’t push anything, was just so patient (even with cervical checks), and she was just a loving person. I also loved my nurse Julie – she was super sweet (and was an awesome red-head too). The rest of the day was just a combo of waiting, eating (although I couldn’t eat too much), drinking fluids, being pumped with some IV saline as well as the epidural, and just hanging out with the doulas. We talked everything from farts, to breastfeeding & Jesus. It was fun, and such a Blessing!

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The girls “pretending” to sleep for the camera 🙂

Around 11:30AM Monday, things started to slow down a little (as far as the distance between contractions went) and Martha suggested maybe a low-dose pitocin would help to just speed things up slowly. They started me on about 1 unit and that really made a difference! My contractions started to come at a closer distance and so they bumped me up again to see what it would do. The goal was to try and get my contractions moving the baby down more; as I was still stuck at about 9cm and was still at 0 station. I’d have to say that being at that position for so long, and knowing that she was just in an awkward position sort of made it a little frustrating. Even though it was annoying, I was honestly very thankful that neither of the meds were making her go into distress; as she was staying at a very healthy heart rate and there were no issues there. Martha made sure that I was aware of this constantly! Soon enough, the original epidural that I received was starting to wear off. I was thankful for them giving me another dose (bolus) intravenously that helped to numb things again so that helped! The “dreadful” contractions were starting to come back, so it was amazing getting the little boost again!

Because Ellia was sitting up high still (and still at her same positioning), Martha suggested the next thing to do was to try and start pushing to see if it would move her again. I’d have to say, the downside to getting an epidural really is the ability to feel “down there”. Even though my epidural did its job, it was hard to do mine. I did have a pretty decent epidural; as it was just enough to help with the contractions, but I was able to move my feet and not be so restricted. After trying to push (to get her move her position) for a good 2 hours, we decided to take a break. Martha said she had been in contact with Dr. Bootstaylor and that she was going to update him and see what we should do. At this point we just continued to wait again. This is when I started to feel a lot more pressure down there. Then at some point, my epidural started to wear off more. I then felt even MORE pressure. I was pretty much determined to go ahead and have this baby. This is why I love my midwives/doc – Martha didn’t restrict me from pushing at all. She said when I felt I needed to I could. I think I got a little obsessed because I just kept pushing. I was on my side pushing (versus on my back when originally trying to) – and I really liked this position. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that I felt all of this pressure. I was in a lot of pain, and at some point asked Martha if she could “stay with me”. She did, and it felt so comforting! I knew she had another patient, but she stayed with me and encouraged me! She was the most amazing midwife EVER!


Martha stayed with me & comforted me through contractions.

They said I could get another bolus of the epidural (as the pump was sort of a slow-flow deal), and I pretty much agreed on it. I didn’t want to feel “those contractions” again. While waiting, I just kept pushing. I guess the downside with pushing a baby out is once you’ve pushed and pushed, and you keep pushing’s gonna be more painful and you’re gonna have more and more pressure. That’s what happened. But even though it was so uncomfortable (and felt like I had to take a huge dump) something clicked! It worked!! Martha checked me and said she had started to move down further and was closer! I was so thankful and relieved; as it was getting hard to wait on Dr. Bootstaylor to come (he was on his way) AND I was told the anesthesiologist was stuck at a c-section. I literally said out out “seriously!?” LOL! Cause at this point, things were really painful ..but now there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel – we were having this baby soon!

Soon enough, Martha got delivery protocols started and I started pushing. In the midst of pushing, Loren (our original nurse who was super sweet) came in on her next shift to check on things ..she walked in while things were “in progress”, but I guess with being a nurse it didn’t bother her was funny though 🙂 I just said hello. And the other thing that happened is Dr. B came as well. Martha then told him that we were having a baby ..she hadn’t been able to tell him anything had started up on its own until he was literally there – so he had become a birth spectator and cheerleader per his arrival!

Pushing this child out was really hard. It was hard because I was so ready. I was so exhausted, and I was getting sort of tired of hearing my husband say over and over “you’re doing great” “you’re almost there” “this is it”. I mean let’s face it – this was the last stretch (literally), I knew I was going to have a baby ..but sometimes encouraging words (in the midst of labor) don’t really help and encourage some laboring mothers me! I definitely love my husband with everything in me, I was just over it LOL! So what I started to do was just push and push and push. And things WERE progressing seemed like it took FOREVER to get her to crown, but once I did it was exciting ..and a relief! Although I was so focused, and had my eyes closed most of the time, it was awesome having a great birthing team with me!

Ellia started to crown and things started to turn real, and before I knew it she came tumbling out and (as my doula Zoe said) “looking like lady liberty”. What this means is her hand was up beside her face (nuchal hand), and her cord was wrapped around her. This could’ve been one of the reasons why she was having a hard time coming through the birth canal! In any case, Ellia was finally here; making her entrance into this world at 8:39PM on 11/16/15! They had to take her over to the warmer to suction her mouth because there had been some meconium in the fluid right as she was born, so she wasn’t able to feed off of the placenta as much as her brother did in birth; however, I was grateful that she was here safe, precautions were taken & that I had decided to donate my cord blood anyways all of that blood has now gone to some much-needed babies/kids dealing with all sorts of illnesses and diseases.


Ellia, wearing her coat of vernix 🙂

Let me just say, Ellia was a big 8lb 14oz baby of cheesy goodness. She had so much vernix on her body it was crazy, but she was beautiful. And she was ours! I am so grateful that I had the team I had in her birth, and wouldn’t have chosen them any differently! God knew what He was doing! It makes a world of a difference when you have SUPPORT! And the times when I felt like a failure, and that my birth plan went kapoot – I was super encouraged ..and still felt like a super mom/rock star because of what I went through in 22 hours, and because of the wonderful support TEAM that kept on encouraging me; even when I didn’t really like hearing the encouragement! Oh – and I’m taking my husband up on his offer of a “push present” because I do recall him telling me (after her birth) ..”oh you’re definitely getting a push present now” 😉


Me with my baby girl.

But all I have to say now is that God is amazing, and was during all of this. I am thankful and grateful for my Savior and for His help through this because I know that I couldn’t have done it without Him!


So grateful for these two women! My Doula, Zoe Das (L) & Kristen Tapley (R); doula-in-training.