The Birth Story: Elijah James

I woke up the morning of 2/24 and I was DONE. Done being pregnant. I was ready to meet this baby, call them by name, and start this life as a family of 5. I couldn’t stand this season of waiting for another day. After feeding the girls breakfast, I was bouncing on my yoga ball and all the emotions bubbled to the surface. With “Encanto” in the background, hot tears rolled down my cheeks as I begged God for today to be the day. The whole pregnancy I put this baby and the birth in God’s hands, but this day, I felt so desperate and started to doubt if this birth would be what I had selfishly planned.

I had a midwife appointment scheduled for 2 that afternoon to check on baby. Out of desperation, I asked if my midwife would sweep my membranes. She immediately responded asking if I could come in at 11:30 instead (bless her soul). When I arrived at the appointment, I think she could see my desperation and said “alright, lets have a baby!”. She swept my membranes and told me I was dilated to a 2, I had a contraction while in the office and she felt that I was going to be in labor really really soon. I clung to that. She asked if I wanted an herbal concoction to “help things along” to which I replied “YUUUUUUP”. The concoction was red raspberry leaf tea, other herbs, and a tablespoon of Castor oil. Now, I know I swore I wouldn’t do castor oil but Desperate 41 weeks pregnant Shannon had no memory of that declaration.

I drank the tea over a 30 minute period and got home around 12:30 PM while the girls were having lunch. I put them down for naps and my belly started to tighten, almost like a Braxton Hicks. It was tight for about 30 minutes and was just a tad uncomfortable. I thought, “ok this is gonna happen anytime now”, so I wiped down the kitchen, moved the laundry, and tidied downstairs. After the pressure released, I laid down to take a nap around 2:15. Thank goodness, because at 3:00 on the dot I was rudely awakened by a contraction so strong it took my breath away.

Let me pause and give you a quick run down of how I envisioned this birth going (feel free to laugh at me because WHY DID I PLAN ANYTHING AGAIN?!). I’d watched countless birth videos and read ungodly amounts of birth stories of women who had peaceful births; candle lit ones where they breath their babies out without a sound, rooms filled with worship music and essential oils diffusing, hours of labor to prepare their mind and body for the process. That’s what I “planned”. I’d go into labor and have a few hours at home while the contractions strengthened and lengthened. I’d shower, pack the rest of our essentials for the birth center, and rally the troops (our parents) to watch the girls and meet us at the birth center. I’d have active labor at the birth center with my carefully curated birth playlist, essential oils diffusing, birth affirmation cards, and practiced hypnobirthing techniques. I’d get into the birth tub and breath/peacefully push my baby into this beautiful world. Spoiler: literally none of that happened, except for me having the baby part. That for sure happened.

The contractions didn’t let up as I stood to breath through them. Most contractions were like a roller coaster, ramping to an intense peak, and then letting up on the decline. These contractions went straight to the top, giving me no warning. I was  already having to moan and groan through them.  They lasted, in my mind, about 30 seconds. After about 3-4 of those, Will came out of his office to see me on hands and knees over my yoga ball and said “Yeah, I think I’m done working today.” I nodded, concerned, because I wasn’t really sure what stage of labor I was in. The contractions were STRONG, but short, but also 3 minutes apart. They weren’t following the rules! I was supposed to contact my midwife when the were 4-5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute for an hour. I’d only been in “labor” for 30 minutes but I texted her anyway asking what to do. She told me to get in the bathtub and see what happens. Will ran me a bath and helped me breath through several more contractions. I opened my eyes to see Will looking a little panicky. This was about the time ‘be careful what you pray for’ came to mind. I’d begged for this, I wanted to be in labor so badly. Boy, did God deliver.  He asked what I wanted to do, I told him to call the parents and pack the car. I really thought I was going to have a surprise home birth. With every contraction I could feel the baby moving down and I knew I was in active labor. It still blows my mind how women’s bodies just KNOW.  I couldn’t think straight. The only thought in my brain was getting through each contraction. After only 15 minutes in the tub the contractions were lasting 1 minute and were 2 minutes apart. It was 4:00PM and it was time to get the girls up for naps. Oops. My midwife told me to come in.  Will sprang into action. He simultaneously woke up the girls, got them a snack, called the parents again, and called out neighbor to come watch the girls until Will’s mom arrived, all in the time it took me to dry off from the bath. He then helped me get dressed and downstairs.

 I stopped in front of the truck door and had a contraction. Will gently said “babe, we have to get in the car.” and I replied “I REALLY don’t want to have this baby in the truck!” to which he replied, “I know, that’s why we REALLY need to get in and go”! In the 7 minutes it took to get to the birth center I had 3 contractions, having to lift myself from the seat to relive the pressure in my cervix. Pulling in the driveway of the birth center I felt relief and fear at the same time. I was really about to do this, God willing, I was going to have this baby unmedicated.

We got into the birth center and my midwife immediately had me get in the bed so she could check me. “Yep, you’re about 9cm and almost ready to go”. Excuse my language but I replied with a big ole fat “Holy shit”. Part of me was terrified that it was happening so fast but most of me was relieved that I wasn’t being overly dramatic about the labor pains. I was on my side for one contraction and hated that position, so I moved to all fours over the birth ball on the bed. My midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and listened for a few more contractions the said, “alright, if you’re wanting to get in the tub, now is definitely the time!” So in I went and everything is a little fuzzy from here. It was about 4:40 when I got in the tub and my parents got to the birth center. I had a few contractions in the tub and the midwife monitored the baby’s heart rate consistently. My body was telling me to get on all fours again, that position felt the most natural/comfortable for me. My body knew what it needed to do and all I had to do was listen.

It got primal from here. Primal is the word I use because nature was completely in control and I let it happen. The contractions were relentless and strong. I had to breathe deeply and loudly to cope with the pressure. My mom said I sounded like an Orca whale but it was extremely helpful to make those orca sounds. All of a sudden I felt a drop into my cervix and extreme pressure as my midwife suggest I get onto the birthing stool to push. “NOPE,” I say, “the baby is coming NOW”. She said “alright then, if you need to push, you go ahead”. My eyes had been closed the entire time and all I could visualize was the baby coming out, tunnel vision. I pushed and felt relief. Working with my body was a relief. Now, make no mistake, I did not do this quietly. Here are just a few things that came out of my mouth as I pushed this baby into the world.

1. Mother F****R!

2. Ok, I’m pooooooooping.

3. GET IT OUT OF MEEEEEE!
4. How much of it is out?!?! (ring of fire moment)

My midwife gently coached me, asking me to push if I felt comfortable and telling me to do a little or big push. After about 4 pushes, the head was out. I just wanted to be done; I wanted the baby in my arms. The baby we prayed for and waited so long for, I wanted to hold. I pushed with everything I had and gasped as I felt the shoulders emerge and my baby slipped out at 5:11 PM. I couldn’t breathe as I heard Will shout, “IT’S A BOY BABE, IT’S A BOOOOOOOY!!” I was clutching my baby, he was in my arms. My sweet baby boy.  Will and my mom high fived as I worked my way to sitting in the tub. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe how fast he’d come into this world. I couldn’t believe that God had given me the redemptive birth I begged for.  He was here.

Elijah James, a gentle soul from the beginning. As soon as he was born he made a few squeaks to tell us he was breathing, then promptly fell asleep in my chest. We lay in the tub as I delivered my placenta and processed what had just happened. I’d never seen any of my placentas/umbilical chords, so that part was amazing. My midwife showed us all the parts and checked to make sure it had all made it’s way out. Elijah had started searching for the breast and immediately latched. My heart swelled. My mom cut his chord when it was time and we made our way though the bed. My angel of a midwife checked me for tears, massaged my uterus, and brought me some toast and orange juice. Will, the baby and I snuggled in bed for a bit while Elijah nursed like a CHAMP. My midwife weighed him and got him all checked out, 9lbs 7oz. BIG boy.

A few hours later we were ready to go home! It was about 8:30 PM and we wanted to make sure the girls were asleep before we arrived home with the baby. So, naturally, we stopped at Whataburger before going home to sleep in our own bed with our perfect little BOY.

I’m so grateful for our village that was there when we needed them; our amazing neighbor who swooped in so we could leave, both sets of parents offering incredible amounts of support, wonderful friends providing meals, and a midwife who trusted me to trust my body and helped us have a miraculous birth.

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