Her story starts December 18th, 2009, the day I was expecting to get my period. It was only 2 months after our wedding, and although we would greatly welcome another baby, we weren’t trying or hoping to become pregnant. A small part of me was very anxious to find out if we were pregnant or not right away before Christmas so we could surprise everyone with it as sort of a present. But after talking to Chris, we decided to wait. Three days after Christmas, Chris finally decided it would be okay for us to buy a home pregnancy test to see if I was pregnant. We were staying at his parents house that night. I went into the bathroom and did the whole thing (you know, peeing and such), then without looking brought it out and we hid it under the blanket. We anxiously waited for the 3 minutes to be up, and then looked at the test . . . Which was of course positive! Chris admitted he had looked at it before, when I was turned around -- that booger!! I took another test which again was positive. There was a little baby in my tummy!! We felt shocked, a little scared, but excited to actually have a child as a gift from God in marriage.
Lily's foot prints on my tummy
Sweet Beginnings My first doctor appointment was on January 27th. Chris and I really wanted to switch to another town for OB care, but we were so busy that it never got done. I dreamed and wished for a little boy so badly. I even started planning a boy shower and theme. March 2nd I first felt the baby’s little tiny movement -- it felt like she slid across my uterus -- it was so amazing! I actually felt ’kick’s for the first time on March 17th. On March 26th, we had another appointment with a Doctor in Menahga ( a small town about 15 minutes from ours) and we really really liked her. She wasn’t perfect, but we were satisfied. On April 3rd we had our first ultrasound -- the days before I was so so nervous!! The ultrasound technician asked if we wanted to know the sex and we excitedly said yes (!), she looked around and said “It’s a girl!” I almost started bawling. I wasn’t sad that we were having a girl, just sad that we weren’t having a boy. I went home and laid on the bathroom floor and cried. Chris came to my rescue and held me and told me all about how special a girl would be; and we talked about if she would look like Lily if she would be totally different. I felt a little better and tried to keep remembering this was God’s plan for us. Within a few hours I was completely excited for a little girl.
Lily's hand print
On April 5th we decided that we would name her : Elizabeth Chyvette. With Lily, (Lily Ann), I got to pick her first name and Chris picked the second (of course, we agreed on both and sort of chose them together, but the first meant a lot to me and the second a lot to Chris). So with this baby, we did the opposite. We chose Elizabeth because it was a name that Chris really liked. I didn’t when he first suggested it, because it was too plain for me, but after some searching I found that Elizabeth meant ‘God’s Oath” and that Lily was a variant form of Elizabeth in some countries. Both Lily & Elizabeth were very ‘royal’ or ‘Victorian-like” names and I thought they were perfect together! So even though it was a regular name, I fell in love with it. The middle name Chyvette was sort of my own creation. I wanted her middle name to be very unique, so I was playing around with putting our parents and grandparents first and middle names together, when I tried to do my Dad’s last name: Chennaux, with my Mom’s middle name: Yvette. . . I got the name Chyvette! It was also a perfect combination because of the ‘motor headedness’ of my Dad, brother and I ; it honored that because it sounded like Chevy and Corvette combined… and I love them both! After presenting the name to Chris he told me that there is actually a car called a Chyvette! What are the chances? We thought it was pretty funny, and once while I was pregnant we stopped at the bank and I happened to catch the name on the side of the car next to us: it was a Chyvette!
I started planning a shower and a theme and much to my surprise I went completely pink crazy!! I have never liked pink before, but all of a sudden I became obsessed with all the girly things! I was so excited and had so much fun planning a shower. I got seventy five ‘attending’ RSVP’s and was so excited to be surrounded by friends and family. I worked so hard, all by myself for the shower. I was almost seven months pregnant and the day of the shower came and only ten people showed up. I was so disappointed and felt very un-loved. It was such a hard time for me. I felt so betrayed and un cared for. It took a lot of surrender to keep my chin up and remember I am only deserving of God’s unfailing and never ending love.
We discovered a few months before the shower that it was God’s plan for us to move to Fargo, ND. We were lucky to have enough money saved up. Then all of a sudden in July (we were moving in August); we found out we barely had any money, and then a few weeks later our car broke down. We were told that we would pay around $300, which was a lot for our budget. We had planned a trip to the Sonshine music festival, because we had just enough money left after car repairs. Our car was being fixed while we were there, and after a day or two we got a call from our mechanic saying our repairs would cost almost $700 more than expected. This was very hard, but we continued to trust in God and tried to keep our heads up knowing somehow we would have enough money. Shortly after that, we moved into Chris’s boss’s house and waited for Elizabeth to be born. I loved being there, out in the country with nature. It really helped me relax and concentrate on the upcoming birth; connecting with God and letting go of the stresses of our life at the moment was huge for me.
Since we found out that we were pregnant, we started reading : Husband Coached Childbirth by Robert A. Bradley. After Lily’s birth, I knew that I needed to start reading more about natural childbirth. Her birth was very very hard and painful: you can read it here. I was so excited to give birth this time! I knew it would be so much better, I knew God gave us this book for a reason. The main point of the book was not to fear birth, let it happen because it is what women’s bodies were made for. I have to admit, I was scared. Scared that the ‘Bradley’ Method wouldn’t work and that labor would hurt. I read the book over and over, drilling it into my brain. I wrote up our ‘birth plan’ which told us what to do -- it was like a mini Bradley book. I prayed for God to help me relax and labor naturally and comfortably. (read about the Bradley method soon in a new post coming shortly!)
Daddy loving his girls
We also very much wanted a homebirth, but when I checked on prices I found one source that told me they were around $2,000 and that insurance probably wouldn’t cover the expense. I was so disappointed and since we didn’t know where we would even be living at the time of her birth, I stopped looking for a midwife. When I had our third child (eleven months later!), I discovered that there are a few midwives that do not charge that much at all. Most are very educated students that are better than other licensed midwives. Do not let the cost of homebirth steer you away from one -- it can always be done if it is God’s will for your child’s journey. There are many, many who are willing to help! (you can read more about the birth of our third here and a little about our choice to homebirth here )
On August 25th I was due. I went to a Doctor appointment that day and agreed for my membranes to be stripped. I wasn’t anxious to have Elizabeth, in fact I told the doctor that day that if I continued to go over my due date even farther, I would not want an induction. We were a little curious about when she would arrive, because on the 29th, we would be moving to Fargo. We had no OB care set up there and weren’t sure how things would work if she didn’t arrive before then. So we were hoping she would actually be born later, in September after our move.
August 26th: at this time I was having
light contractions. Lisa and Mike came to visit
but didn't know I was in labor.
The 26th was almost gone when, at 10 o’ clock at night I started to feel some consistent contractions. I had been experiencing light ones all day, but none that came and went regularly. Chris and I curled up to watch a movie, and I remember that towards the end I couldn’t concentrate on the movie when I had a contraction, that I actually had to relax myself and breathe. At 1 am I wrote in her birth journal: “I’ve been having some pretty strong contractions these last three hours --painful enough that I can’t do anything but relax and breathe or they are unbearable! I’m going to time a few and then try and go to sleep for awhile and see how things go tonight.” I then timed my contractions, they were 2 to 4 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds. I went to bed and slept for the most part, only waking up shortly to contractions and then go back to sleep. At 5:20 I wrote : “ I’ve had contractions all night. They are very strong. My water still hasn’t broken. I’m going to time them and see if being awake will help the pain.” At that point in the morning, I would wake up after the contraction had started and be in the middle of it before I could relax and breathe -- which would cause it to hurt mostly. By the time I was relaxed enough for the pain to go away, the contraction was over. So even though I wanted to sleep longer, I decided to get up and be prepared through them.
I laid on the couch, with my butt towards the end of the seat, feet on the floor and shoulder blades halfway down the back of the couch. That position was the most comfortable for me. I sat there for an hour, learning how to breathe through the contractions. I became so empowered . . . This was working!! The Bradley Method was working! I continued to pray to God to bless our day and give me the strength to do this. He banished all fear inside of me and said “ Trust me, Trust your Body. This is beautiful. Let your body bloom.” Labor was strong but not painful, I felt amazing.
At 6:25 I took a shower for 30 minutes and had three contractions during that time. I was completely amazed that I could take a shower! At this point in Lily’s birth I was laying in bed yelling for an epidural! After the shower, I started getting things ready slowly and labored quietly in the early morning, excited to meet our beautiful daughter. I wondered how much longer the labor would last, how dilated I was. I wanted to be at home as long as possible. The thought of being in the hospital made me feel very uncomfortable. It wasn’t home, it wasn’t peaceful.
At 7:30 I decided to wake up Chris and tell him that I was in labor, and that he needed to get Lily ready to go. At 8:15 Lily was ready and we were finishing packing some things. I helped as much as I could, but every time I moved I would go into another contraction. Chris got Lily some cereal and I just ate a PopTart. It wasn’t exactly healthy but I didn’t feel like eating anything else.
At 9 am I called the hospital to tell them that we would be coming in. I remember walking out to the car, contracting the whole way…. It was so painful! Moving during a contraction is not very pleasant! I tried to run, just to get it to the car and relax my body again. Sitting in the car with the seatbelt on brought so much pressure onto my hips and cervix. It felt like her head was going to pop out! At 9:10 we pulled out of the driveway to the hospital 15 minutes away and I called my Grandma and told her to get ready to come. At 9:30 we dropped Lily off at Chris’s parents. Lisa came out to talk to me and I had to try and talk through a contraction, which hurt pretty badly. I felt weird breathing in front of her, but didn’t want to interrupt her, haha. I am weird. We told her that we would call her as soon as we knew how long it would be until Elizabeth was born, so that Lily could come. We wanted Lily to be right there after the birth.
At a little after 10 we arrived at the hospital and got checked in. I told them that I had been in labor all night and I thought I was almost ready. They took a long time getting things ready, and finally checked me around 10:30. I was 8 cm then. I was a little relieved, I had been scared that I wasn’t going to be very dilated when we arrived and I would have to labor in the hospital for a long time -- something I knew would be uncomfortable. While they were asking us all the information they needed, I breathed through 5 or 6 BIG, STRONG contractions. It was very hard for me to concentrate while in the hospital. The nurse told me I had to lay down so they could monitor the baby, those straps made me feel like I was literally strapped to the bed. Every time I contracted they would hurt my stomach and I do think they interfered with the pain of the contractions -- causing them to hurt more.
As I tried to breathe through the contractions, the nurse continued to ask me questions, which broke my concentration and when I’d have to talk the pain would start again. I just wanted her to be quiet, un-hook me from that silly machine, and either take care of me and help me labor or get out of the room! She did say a few things that helped encourage me, she said that I was doing So good for my stage of labor, that she couldn’t believe I wasn’t screaming or moaning or anything. It was so good to hear, but I was a little surprised at the same time. Had they seen birth like this before? I hoped so.
After those few big contractions, I felt a very very VERY strong urge to push and I lightly started to as it relieved the pain I now felt from holding my body back. I looked to Chris and told him I needed to push and that it hurt really bad not to. He told the nurse that I was pushing. I still giggle over how he said it; he looked up at her and very quietly, politely said “ Um, she is pushing.“ haha. She said okay and then finished asking the questions, like she didn‘t believe I was actually ready. Maybe because I wasn‘t screaming like the ‘others‘? She checked me soon after and confirmed I was 10cm dilated. She realized that I was serious, I was ready to push and she yelled to the other nurse and told her that I was fully ready and that they needed the doctor down there immediately. Chris made a fast call to both my grandma (who was 20 minutes away) and his Mom. I wanted to push so badly, but held back because they said not to. I held off as long as I could but the feeling was so intense that I couldn’t stop myself. It was like someone trying to tell you to hold your bladder after drinking a gallon of water -- yeah right! I started to push anyways and sat myself up. The nurses started rushing all over the room and fixing as much as they could. Lisa arrived just in time to get the video camera set up so we could record the birth. My grandma tried to also enter the room but the nurses pushed her out (sad!) and my Grandpa took Lily for a little walk.
When the doctor arrived he immediately came over to me, still putting on his blue scrub things. He saw my water bag bulging and broke it. Pushing had been going great . . . until they started coaching me. I followed what they told me to do, even though I didn’t want to and knew I shouldn’t. I was scared to tell them to leave me alone, which is what I should have done. I held up my own legs and tried to get into the best curled back birth position that Dr. Bradley talked about in his book. After a few pushes I started losing my breath. I would sit back and try to relax, waiting for another ‘urge’ from my body, but the nurses would pull me up and tell me to push. It was too much on me and poor little Elizabeth who was being forced out of me at a rate that was not God’s intention. “ Push, push, push, keep going, keep going!” I just wanted to get her out so that they would shut up! I was so exhausted! Soon enough I could barely breathe so they put an oxygen mask on me during the times they ‘allowed’ me to breathe and relax. Just when I thought I couldn’t go any longer I heard the most amazing words “We can see her head, keep going Leah, you are doing great, she’s almost here!” I was so relieved! I pushed as hard as I could, working to bring her out of my body and into our arms.
Getting her head to come out was very very hard. I was pushing as hard as I could over and over but she wouldn’t budge! After pushing for what seemed like an hour (but was only ten minutes) I wound up all that I could and watched as her head slowly started to emerge. The nurses told me to breathe again but this time I didn’t listen and kept pushing. Then, out of nowhere, her head, shoulders and left arm, almost literally flew out of me after a very very loud POP!. The doctor said “No wonder she wouldn’t come out, there was an arm up there! She came out waving at us and facing the ceiling!“ (which I guess is very rare).
The rest of her slid out and I was overcome with a wave of great feelings: strength, love, sadness, happiness, joy and peace. It was equivalent to ten orgasms. God really blesses us women, after all the work of labor, a tide of oxytocin rushes our bodies and we experience the most beautiful ’high’ in the word. The high and amazement of bringing forth new life! (I feel sad for those who get epidurals and never experience this feeling) I sat back and rested while I watched her in amazement -- she was so beautiful!
They laid her between my legs and Chris cut her umbilical cord. Her dark grey eyes were big and looking all over the room at every noise or movement. (Again, my heart is saddened to see pictures of babies with squishy eyes, un aware and ’sleeping’ because Mom got an epidural.)
The nurse brought her to me fully naked so that I could hold her and keep her warm on my chest. (kangaroo care). They helped me take of the hospital gown and then set her into my arms. She just sat there looking at me. I talked to her and smiled at her and she just stared at me. Chris leaned over us and talked to her, and she moved her whole head and looked straight at him and smiled a tiny bit (they say it’s not really a smile, but you should have seen it!) After awhile I tried to feed her but she wouldn’t take my breast. Bonding with her, looking into the soul of this tiny person, fresh from God was the best moment of my life. Lily had been brought in almost immediately after Elizabeth had come and was being held by my Grandma. Chris went and grabbed her and showed her our new precious gift from Jesus. She was amazed by it all.
The doctor spent a long time ‘down there’ and soon told me that I could push the placenta out. A few minutes later a nurse came and gave me a shot of oxytocin. I didn’t know what it was for at the time and she didn’t tell me either. Now I know that she told my Grandma they were worried about my blood loss and I’m almost positive I had a post-partum hemorrhage.
We basked in each other’s love for what seemed like hours. The nurse then took her to weigh her. She was 5lbs 3oz, smaller than Lily was (born 5.8) and she was shorter too at 17.6 inches. I rested in bed while Chris stayed with her through some of the tests. They put her in the warmer for awhile to get her a little warmed up since her temperature was low. Chris gave her a little bath and then they transferred us to a different room. Things were beautiful.
A few minutes after our transfer, Chris discovered he would have to leave to go to Fargo (2 hours away) and get things ready for college in a few days and our big move. I didn’t want him to go, I needed him to be there but told him he could. It was really hard to have him go. He didn’t come back until 10 that night and then fell asleep right away. I stayed up most of the night, feeding her and just loving her. I tried to lay her down in her bassinet, but she would wake up right away and cry. So most of the night I stayed awake, feeding her. At 4:30 a new nurse came in and she took Elizabeth away. I told her not too, but she took her anyways. She said she was going to give her a bath. It really made me upset and even more sad than I already was. My mind went back to the night in the hospital with Lily when we took a walk and saw her in the nursery screaming and crying while a nurse held her -- Elizabeth needed her mommy, not a bath! I really didn’t care who these people were, they are strangers to me. There is no reason they should be taking my baby away from me in the middle of the night. I just wanted to be left alone and bond with my little girl! It was frustrating to have the motherly instinct to lay with her and sleep or to be away from interference, but everyone tells you that is not how things are done. They finally brought her back and I was so relieved. I wanted to get out of that hospital and get home as soon as possible.
The next day we took Elizabeth home and Chris went back to work. It was very very stressful. I just wanted to sit and enjoy her, but we would be moving the next day so I had to get things ready. I did have a lot of bonding time with her. She ate all of the time. . . Which she still does. Our little piggy girl.
Giving birth to Elizabeth opened up my life to what birth was intended to be, but I knew that it could be even more wonderful. We got pregnant again only three months later and had a beautiful homebirth. I know that this story really degrades doctors, it makes it sound like they did a lot of things that ruined our birth. But that is the truth. I really cannot change it. People have gotten mad at me for telling them about our experience, and I’m sorry. I really do wish it wasn’t how it is. I do not like talking ill of peope, but the doctors and nurses, although they helped greatly, got in the way of our beautiful experience too.
The solution is for them to actually learn about birth and how to truly help during birth. I know that there are doctors and nurses out there who do this. My suggestion to those of you who greatly feel like God is placing hospital birth on your heart is that you first of all make sure you have support. Yes, a good doctor is great, but they might not be on call. And even if they are, you never know what nurses will be present. Hiring a doula or midwife that actually is educated in true birth to be with you at the hospital is the best option. Yes, your husband, mother, friend may be there but they are there to experience the birth too, not to ‘fight’ for your birth. That is what a doula or midwife does!
There is MUCH more to share regarding my post-partum experience and I am currently still writing a separate entry about my post-partum and hemorrhage with Elizabeth and the other babies, which should be available soon.