Ellis Fern Ulschak’s Birth Story
VBAC / Bradley Birth
I woke up at 3:00am on March 7th, 2010 feeling my first contraction. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks and so assumed that this was just another one. Still, just 10 minutes later I felt another, and then ten minutes after that.. and ten minutes after that.
This went on like clockwork, every ten minutes, until Alden woke up at 6:00am. I went into our bedroom (I had been sleeping on the futon in the guest room so I could spread out with my huge pregnancy pillow!) and told Mike about the regularity of the contractions and said that I thought this was IT!
We made a huge breakfast and continued to watch the clock. I called Grammy and Gramps and told them that I thought we might be in labor, but wasn’t sure. We called Mike’s mom, Glennys, and told her to come over to take care of Alden. It was such a relief to know that she was there and Alden would be in good hands.
We called my best friend, Breanna Kincaid, and also sent a text message to Dayna Tharpe (our doula). It was a totally gorgeous day outside so we spent a lot of time watching Alden play in the sandbox and running through the meadow. I also baked a special recipe called Groaning Cake that is supposed to help a laboring woman as she smells it baking.
After lunch, The Kincaids came over. Christopher brought strawberry plants for Mike and they spent some time getting them ready for planting. Micah played with Alden while Breanna and I went for a walk around The Cool (a path Mike mows around our property line).
The contractions, while still 10 minutes apart were stronger while we were walking and I was grateful. I had been so anxious about being induced that I wanted to do anything and everything to be sure that the contractions continued and made steady progress. Breanna commented over and over that she was sure that they would not stop because I had the aura about me of a birthing woman. She said there was a calmness in my voice that said my body was focusing. I knew what she meant, but my brain was still worried about interventions.
We talked on the phone with Dayna several times and she finished up her work day at Miller’s Cafe (she is a waitress as well as a doula!) and then asked if she could go home to shower and get things ready for her children for school the next day. She realized that she would be gone overnight since it was late afternoon and we were still at 10 minutes apart.
I kept telling Dayna that she didn’t have to come all the way to our house just yet because I was still not sure I was in labor. She reminded me that, by now, I had been having steady contractions for over 12 hours and she was SURE that I was DEFINTIELY in labor and would be coming. This still makes me laugh because I hardly believed it the whole time…. even when I was pushing! I just could not believe that I was going to get to meet you that day!
So, Breanna and family said good-bye and let us get back to laboring at home. At one point, I went in to rest and laid down on my side while Glennys gave me a hand massage. That was just fabulous and so relaxing…such a special moment between us women.
Not long after that, my contractions started getting closer together (10, 8, 7, 9, 10, 7, etc…) and I made dinner for everyone, but did not eat much myself. Bradley Birthing Classes taught us that a decrease in hunger is a good sign that things are picking up and labor is progressing so I was very excited to not be hungry! Glennys, Alden, and Mike ate well and I had some yogurt with maple syrup and a big glass of water.
Around 6pm, the contractions started to get more intense and I was no longer able to sit or lay down during them. I leaned against the wall or put my hands on a table and rocked my hips back and forth as each wave came and went. At one point, we told Alden that his sister or brother was going to be born very soon and he put his hands on my belly and said, “COME OUT!”. We all had a great laugh about that! Mike gave Alden a bath and we put him to bed just like usual so as not to disrupt his routine too much.
By 7pm, my contractions were consistently at 6 minutes apart and still increasing in intensity. Mike did an AWESOME job with helping me through each one and I found it especially comforting to wrap my arms around his neck and lean into him, still rocking my hips though the contraction. He whispered words of encouragement the whole way. My favorite thing that he said was “Your body knows just what to do.” I felt calm and confident as I continued to labor at home. Dayna called on her way to our house and told me to go ahead and call the hospital to let them know that we would be coming soon. When I called, I told them that I had been having contractions since 3am.
By the time Dayna arrived at 9:00pm, contractions were strong and 5 minutes apart. We were sure that as soon as Dayna got here, she would say that we needed to go to the hospital. We were wrong! She took one look at me and said that we still had time to labor more at home. I was so grateful because I really wanted to get to the hospital as late as possible. I was just so worried about interventions. After my emergency C-section with Alden, I wanted your birth to be as totally natural as possible. Mike laid down to rest a little while Dayna and I chatted in the kitchen. At one point, we tried to lay down on the futon. but laying down was soooooooooo painful. I decided to let gravity do its work. Dayna made some coffee for herself and Mike and we got Mike up. Mike went out to put our bags in Dayna’s car.
At 10:30pm, Dayna said that she thought it was time to go to the hospital. So, Mike and I went out the front door and he helped me to walk up the stairs to the road. We met Dayna on the street instead of riding in the car up our very steep and bumpy driveway. Yes, our driveway is so bad that it was EASIER to walk up a flight of stairs in labor than to ride up that driveway! hahaha! I kneeled on the passenger seat with my back to the windshield and hugged the back of the seat. This was a perfect position because, like I said, I want totally not able to sit. Mike sat in the back seat behind me and rubbed my back and whispered encouragement the whole way there. Mike called Grammy and Gramps while in the car to let them know we were on the way to the hospital. When we got to the hospital, we only had to sign one paper before we were able to go back to the Labor and Delivery Dept. I chose to walk to the labor room rather than be in a wheelchair.
Once we got to the L&D Dept, my nurse introduced herself as Marissa Hensley. I told her that we would be birthing naturally with no drugs and that we wanted a nurse that would be fully supportive of that. She said that she would be and asked to see my Birth Plan. This immediately set me at ease with her! She checked me and said that I was 5cm dilated and 80% effaced. We got to the hospital at just the right time! Hurray! Several people came in to have me sign papers, take blood, etc.
We laughed and joked with everyone and I reminded them that I wasn’t having any pain medication so they would just have to wait for me to get through each contraction before they get into talking to me about anything important.
Everyone was very supportive and we just labored on with no interventions. We even dimmed the lights and for most of the time, it was just me, Mike, and Dayna. Marissa had told me to let her know when I felt like things had changed so that she could check me again. She checked and I was at 7cm and 100% effaced!
Then things started getting really intense! I had maybe 4 or 5 contractions where I felt like I couldn’t bear the pressure, I told Mike “I can’t! I can’t!” but he whispered over and over to me “Yes, you can… yes, you can” and then things calmed down. I told Marissa that I thought something was different again. She checked and said that I was fully dilated to 10cm and ready to push! I couldn’t believe it!
Once this happened, several people came into the room. They introduced themselves as nurses. One of them was Donna and the other was Ester. Donna was another nurse there to assist the midwife and Ester was going to be YOUR nurse! I couldn’t believe that a nurse was standing there waiting to take care of you! I thought, surely she’s here too early! We can’t be THAT close to having a baby! ARE WE?! It was very surreal!
Donna told me that the midwife and Dr. Casal were not here yet and we needed to wait before we started pushing because no one present was qualified to deliver the baby. I told Donna “I know you need to say what you need to say, but I’m going to need to do what I need to do.” Donna smiled and said that there are rules that they break all the time and that she just had to tell me that so that she was covered.
At that point, something totally came over me and I started to bear down and push. It was like my body just completely took over and I was along for the ride! I told Donna “I’M PUSHING!!!” and Mike was right there with me. They had installed a squat bar at my request so I used this bar with each contraction to bring you down the birth canal. When it came time to actually push you out though, I used handles and sat down.
The midwife, Shelly, kept telling me that she could see your head and said that I needed to push like I was trying to poop. It felt soo wrong to me! I thought… surely she doesn’t understand that I am trying to have a baby here! I’m not trying to poop! Eventually, I got a handle on it though and figured out how to push.
Once I was in a good rhythm, I started roaring with each push. Some people call this a woman’s Birthing Song. Mike says, it was definitely not a scream, but more like a deep roar. I remember this as feeling very empowering and just amazing. I felt so connected to other birthing women and to mothers everywhere. Shelly told me to push even harder when it was hurting and that pushing would relieve the pain. She said that I could see you in just 2 or 3 more pushes!
I still could not believe that this was how you were going to come into the world. I could not believe that it was almost over. I shut my eyes and pushed with all my might. I heard everyone in the room get soo excited and start screaming “Yes! yes! That’s it! We see the baby! Come on! Push! Push! Push!” and then all of a sudden, there you were!
They flipped you right up on my chest! You were covered in vernix and so chubby-cheeked! Just incredible! Mike took a moment to tell me, but then finally said “IT’S A ….. GIRL!”
I sat there, stunned… I had completely convinced myself that we were having another boy because deep down, I wanted a girl so badly that I was afraid to be disappointed. We got our girl! My mind was just completely numb… I was totally exhausted, but also so very relieved that you looked healthy and watched as Mike went over to check you out as Ester got you breathing and pinked up. Wow! You were born at 4:15am on Monday, March 8th, 2010. 7lbs 4oz and 20 inches long!
I am so deeply grateful that I had the ability to naturally birth you. It felt like a rite of passage for me… and I am still trying to get my head around how cosmic it is that I was able to birth a daughter…a woman birthing another woman. You are almost 3 weeks old now and I am so thrilled to continue to get to know you. You are an awesome baby!
I love you, Ellis Fern. Thank you so much for choosing us!