Today, our very own doula, Lillie shares her birth story. As a first time mother, Lillie takes you through the highs and lows, makes you laugh, and shares how, even though she had never done it before, she knew instinctively what her body needed to birth baby Ellie with confidence and with JOY.
Lillie shares what it means to her to birth on purpose:
To me birth on purpose means that you go into labor and birth for the WHOLE experience. Only once in your lifetime will you get the chance to birth this baby you grew for 9 months. Invest as much time and thought into your decisions during pregnancy and for your birth to make it the most special experience possible. Things may change in your birth “plan” but you can control your mindset and your attitude. You get to meet your baby!! There’s nothing like it! – Lillie
The Birth of Elizabeth Foley
By Lillie Whitehead
I feel like Ellie’s birth story begins the day I found out I was pregnant. I was 20, still living with my parents, and just finishing up my first semester at MTSU. My period was late, but I didn’t think anything of it. For a few days I had felt pretty sick, and when I mentioned it to my mom, she said, “You’re pregnant.” I was in disbelief, but I decided take an at home pregnancy test. I couldn’t really tell but there was barely a faint second line on the test. I felt really emotional, but at the same time I thought there still was a chance that I wasn’t pregnant. I had Charles come pick me up. We had been dating for about 5 months at that point. We talked and cried and both knew that if I was pregnant, we would be doing this together! The next morning (December 5, 2013), we went to a walk in clinic to take another pregnancy test. Waiting for the results was excruciating. The doctor came in and enthusiastically said, “Congratulations!” I burst into tears. Charles looked like he had seen a ghost. The doctor said, “I hope those are tears of joy!” Looking back, we laugh about her saying that.
From that point forward Charles and I were a team. I got over the initial shock and was so excited to be a mom. My pregnancy was a whirlwind. On February 1, 2014 we got married. In April we bought a house and got our dog Lola. I was still in school and working part time. Ellie was due at the end of July so I decided to take a summer class. When I walked in on the first day with my big pregnant belly the teacher asked me why I didn’t just take the course online. I think I wanted a reason to get up and waddle my pregnant self from the parking lot to class and keep myself busy. My teacher asked me several times if I wanted to take my finals early. I eventually agreed. On July 24 we went in for my 39 week doctors appointment. She checked me and I think I was barely 1 cm dilated. As she was checking me she swept my membranes but said she didn’t think I would go into labor and she would see me next week. After my doctors appointment, Charles and I went out to eat at J Alexanders. I felt really crampy and kept saying maybe I’ll just take my finals next week! Charles convinced me to head over to campus and take my finals. I cramped all though the test but finally finished. The next morning (July 25), I texted my supervisor at work and said I was NOT in labor but I didn’t feel well enough to go to work. I called my mom and she thought I was definitely in labor. I thought there was no way. This was 3 days before my due date and I was sure I would be overdue. My mom came over and we went on a mile hike at Bowie Park. I cramped on and off all day.
The next morning (July 26) Charles had to be up at 3:30am to get to work early. I woke up around the same time and started to feel true contractions. I was in and out of sleep, but every contraction that woke me up I would check the time and noticed they were about 10 minutes apart. I told Charles he better go to work and stay the whole shift! Eventually I got up and took a shower. The contractions weren’t really bothering me so I decided to make peanut butter cookies and scrub out our microwave (nesting!!). Charles kept calling me to see how I was doing. I told him I was still having contractions, but they weren’t a big deal. Honestly at this point I still didn’t think this was real labor. Charles came home early from work and around 11:00am we went on a mile hike at Bowie Park, like I had done the day before. We got home and I tried to take a nap but I couldn’t sleep. My contractions were beginning to get stronger and closer together. Around 3:00pm we started timing them. They were 5 minutes apart lasting a minute each. The only thing that helped me get through each contractions was walking! When one would start I would walk the length of our house and back. I did this until about 5:30pm when we decided to head to the hospital. I kept saying, “Ok, let’s go!” then I would say never mind and walk back into the house. Finally we left.
We got to the hospital, and they checked me in triage. I was 3 cm. I felt pretty good about that! They checked for amniotic fluid leaking and said that I was leaking a little so they would admit me. We headed up to our room and got settled in. I was still wanting to walk through contractions so I would walk the length of our labor room back and forth through every one! Several hours went by until they checked me again. I was at 5 cm! I felt good knowing I was progressing. My whole family and Charles’s whole family were waiting in the waiting room. I didn’t want any visitors at this point. After a while, I was able to stop walking through every contraction. Now I mostly wanted to bounce on the birth ball next to the bed and I would squeeze Charles’s fingers through every contraction. I remember looking at the clock at 3:30am and realizing that I had been having consistent contractions for 24 hours. When they checked me again I was at 7 cm. We decided to walk the hallways. We walked up and down and watched the sunrise out of the hospital windows. I would stop and sway and hum through every contraction with Charles by my side. At the 7:00am shift change things changed. The new nurse came into my room and my first impression of her was that she smelled like biscuits! I thought that was so rude to come in where women are in labor and smell like biscuits! At this point my contractions were one on top of another. I mentioned that to her and the first thing she said was, “You want an epidural, sweetie?” I said no. She told me they would wait for the doctor on call to get there and check me. My regular doctor would not be able to come. I cried on Charles and told him that she was so mean to come in there smelling like biscuits! After what seemed like forever the doctor came in to check me. She said I was 8 cm. To me that didn’t feel like progress. While she was checking me she broke my water. I asked her, “Did you break my water?” And she said, “No, there was just extra fluid in there.” She immediately told me I needed to be constantly monitored, and I needed an antibiotic. I tried to say I didn’t need an antibiotic, but she insisted. She left the room and I broke down. My contractions felt so much worse since my water was broken and now I was attached to a monitor and IV so I could barely move around. I wanted my mom. Charles told my mom to come in. I just kept saying “Those a-holes” and punching my pillow. We laugh about that now because even in full blown labor, I was censoring myself in front of my mom. I had Charles holding my whole body weight, and I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to stand or be on the bed or be on the ball. I kept saying, “I can’t do this anymore. I just want to sleep.” Finally my mom asked me if I wanted an epidural. I told her to get the anesthesiologist. She ran down the hall and got him. Luckily they weren’t busy! They quickly got my epidural in and I felt immediate relief! All of my family and Charles’s family came in to visit me. I swear there were 15 people in the room at one point. It was a party!
In about 2 hours they checked me and I was complete and ready to push! I pushed for about 1 hour. Ellie came out screaming at the top of her lungs (July 27, 2014 2:14pm)! My first thought was that she was beautiful and my second thought was that she was BIG (8lbs 13oz)! They put her on my chest and she grabbed my nose and wouldn’t let go! I was crying so hard; I couldn’t believe she was here! We were able to do skin to skin for the first few hours and I got her to latch. Charles and I were immediately in love with her! The first few weeks of breastfeeding were hard and painful but I pushed through and I still nurse her now at 27 months old.
Looking back on my birth from a doula’s perspective, it’s easy for me to say well I should have done this or that and maybe I wouldn’t have gotten an epidural. But in the end I’m glad I got it. I was able to experience natural labor up to 8 cm, and then I was able to rest and see my family before meeting Ellie!
My pregnancy with Ellie wasn’t planned, but I know it was in God’s plans. That first day I found out I was pregnant, I had no clue that in nine months I would be holding my best friend. I’m proud of Charles and I for being the team we are. Charles didn’t waiver for a second during my labor. And now when I get to see how much he and Ellie love each other I could almost tear in half with how much love I feel for both of them.