Friday, February 19, 2010

The Birth of Elijah Paul Hartley

January 21st 6:07 am:
me: "Husband, I think my water broke"

Rob: What? Are you sure? Are you having the baby today?"

Rob followed me to the bathroom, change of clothes in hand, and yes, it was pretty obvious that I would be having the baby that day. I called my mom, worried that it was too early to have the baby - she reassured me it would be okay. I Stood up, oops, "Rob, I'm going to need another change of clothes." I entered a state of denial that my water had broken (that would last until about 2pm) and decided to go back to bed. Having my water break at the onset of labor was not my ideal birth plan. Rob and I knew that a clock had now began running on how long our midwife would let me labor before Eli was born - and not going to the hospital after my water being broken was not something Rob would compromise on. He agreed with all the medical people - I on the other hand, wanted to be left alone!

So, I went back to bed and watched a little sports center- I think Rob was shocked that I was so calm. He went about the house nesting for me. With Elijah not expected for another month- we were ill prepared, no diaper bag, let alone a packed diaper bag, no hospital bag packed, no car seat in the car and the house needed to be prepared for my mom coming and for visitors. At 6, when my water broke a shot of adrenaline and fear coursed through my body and from our Bradley class we learned that adrenaline and fear will stop your labor. I knew that if I was going to have this baby the way we wanted I'd have to start relaxing ... and fast. So Sports Center and then a shower right before 9am did quite the trick.

At about 9:30, I decided it was time to help us nest. I was having tiny contractions and really erratic about 10 to 15 minutes apart. I waddled around the house like a scatterbrained pregnant lady - stripping sheets off beds, throwing clothes into a suitcase, laundry. Anything I did to try to help, Rob had to go back and re-do or finish the job for me, I couldn't finish a task before my mind would jump to the next thing. By 11 my contractions were getting stronger, but I was still telling myself it was probably false labor- my water didn't actually break. We had however; called our doula Kerry, and our Bradley teacher Kelly and because I already had an appt with our midwife, I called to tell them, "hey I might be in labor, but probably not. Can I just keep my 12 o'clock appt."
this is me trying to pack my suitcase - note the pregnancy paraphenalia in the background - cocoa butter, humidifier, and what to expect when you're expecting.

Close to 12, I was moving slower and still having the same erratic mild contractions. I was in no hurry to go anywhere (very nervous that the hospital would induce me thinking I had been in labor for going on 6 hrs) and the car seat was still not in the car. I called the dr. office back and said, I'm running late- and maybe I am in labor. Rob practically had to carry me to the truck and strap me in because I did not want to go. Seriously, he threatened. Even in my state of denial I knew that the midwife would know I had ruptured, I knew she would send me to the hospital, and I knew our baby was coming that day one way or another and I wasn't ready! I finally relented shortly after 12 and we left for the office.

We walked into the Drs office around 12:40pm and the receptionist took one look at us and just said, "triage". Rob said, " can't we see Cheri (our midwife) here. And the receptionist just repeated "triage". She said Cheri was at the hospital and if we hurried maybe she could check me there. When we got back in the truck I told Rob, "She's probably sending us to the hospital because she thinks I'm in labor because my hair is all crazy. I think I forgot to brush it..."

My contractions were coming every 5 - 10 minutes on our journey from home, but still erradic and rather mild. We arrived at the hospital went to triage and Rob tried to check us in. The lady at the front desk, had been at her job for quite some time and refused to be rattled or hurried by anxious fathers and pregnant ladies. She asked us to take a seat while she finished checking in another mom. I sat in the furthest possible seat from the window and well out of her line of sight. My contractions began coming every 2 minutes and became more painful. I was up and down, in my seat and out, rocking back and forth, constantly changing possitions trying to find relief. Rob asked if I wanted him to check back with the front desk lady. I said, "no, she knows we're here. Can we go home?" A lady in the waiting room with us asked how I was. I said, "I'm fine, I don't think I'm in labor. Our mid wife just wanted me to come over and get checked" She said, "Um, I think today is the day."

We are finally called to check in a little after 1pm. Contractions are pretty strong. I'm still able to answer questions and fill out paper work, but I'm not at all comfortable. We get back to our triage room and meet our nurse Connie. She hands me a gown to change into and hooks me up to the monitor. Although I've remained really relaxed, fear of hospitals, induction, c- sections and ...having a baby 3 weeks early caught up with me after checking into the hospital and my labor/contractions stop. She asks when do you think your water broke? Rob looks at me in disbelief when I reply, "oh I don't know, I'm not sure it is." After removing the monitor, Connie wanted to check to see how far along I was and if my water has broken. I refuse and continue to do so for the rest of the hour. I keep asking them to call Cheri and tell her that I'm here. I only want Cheri to check me, I tell them. After refusing far longer than they expected, they give us an ultimatum - either let us check you here, or go back to the office and let Cheri check you there. I present Rob with another alternative, "babe, my labor has stopped. Take me home." Rob persuaded me to stay and let them check me there because it was obvious all of the commotion we already went through had stopped my labor. He said wouldn't it be better if we stayed and we just saw where we are in labor. Connie further persuaded me by saying that she and Cheri had been good friends for 15 years. Why this made a huge difference to me is really hard to explain.

So Connie checked me. "Oh honey, you're ruptured." Oh goodness the gig is up I guess. "And 3 cms dialated, 100% effaced, and 0 station", "and the monitor reported you were contracting and the baby is handling it well". Wow, great news! I felt much more at ease with being at the hospital now. We were officially not going anywhere sense my water was broken. The doula was on her way and I was ready to get down to business. Rob called several people to tell them the news and ask them to pray that my labor start up again. It's now after 2pm.

Contractions started up again , The doula arrived and I wanted to walk to help speed up labor. We walked down the hall stopping to sway on the way. At the end of the hallway, I thought, "it's going to be all I can do to get back to the room." My contractions were now one on top of the other, strong, but still milder than what I was expecting. We were stuck in a triage room because there were no labor rooms yet available. Getting back to the room, Connie poked her head in to say she'd be right back because she wanted to draw some blood. Rob and I joked that our friends were praying too hard.

Connie came back shortly to check on us and found that I had requested the lights be turned off and for no one to talk. She told Rob hopefully we'd have a room soon. We then heard her out in the hall bump me up in the line of moms waiting to get a room. Rob rubbed my head and hand and Kerry was giving me a great rythmic back rub. The pain was less than I was expecting, but it was exhausting, all-encompassing and somehow involved my entire body. It took a lot of effort to concentrate on relaxing. And, I went through I don't know how many jugs of water that last hour. During transition I never thought I couldn't handle the pain. I just remember thinking, I can't do this for much longer- I'm exhausted.

Around 3pm: "Rob, I just felt the baby move down." I sensed Kerry's eyes get really wide and look at Rob. "I just felt it again" At this point I'm thinking, I still have hours of labor to go, I was only 3 cm dialted. Then, my body began to push for me. And that is the craziest feeling ever. I felt like my whole body was convulsing. Rob ran out into the hall, "my wife feels pressure" Quite an understatment I'd say. Connie came into check me and I was trying with all my might not to let my body push. I was really scared at this point that I'd only be 5 cm dialated and they'd tell me it was too soon to push. Connie ran in the room saying, " You would surprise me one bit if you were ready to have this baby!" She lifted up the sheet and said, "I see the baby's head. Get this girl to a room. NOW.

In one second there were 9 nurses in our room, all the lights went on and they whisked me on the bed to a labor room, I heard Connie on the phone to get Cheri to the hospital pronto. Rob was worried that I would not like having so many people around in the labor room because in our birth plan it was really important to me for it to be calm and low key. All that was out the window however this baby was coming and it was kinda exciting that it was so fast! Rob was amazing and kept telling me that I was okay, and that everything was fine - the words that I wanted to hear the most. In the LDR, I had to switch from my triage bed to the LDR bed. what?!? That was really hard and akward and tricky to time between contractions. Connie said her shift had just ended but she wanted to stay for the birth of our baby. I heard Cheri arrive and kick her high heels off in the corner of the room. I asked Rob to get her, that I wanted to see her and for her to touch me. When she came over to me she was wearing nice clothes not scrubs and I remember thinking, "I've never had a baby before Cheri, but I think this is going to be messy for you"

By this time Id had a couple more involuntary pushing contractions and Rob asked Cheri when I could start pushing. She said it's up to her. I'd forgotten what we'd learned in the Bradley class about how to push and had to instruction from Cheri again. I pushed through one contraction and thought, isn't he out yet!? The baby's heart dropped really low in between contractions and Cheri sternly said, "Danielle you gotta get that baby's heart beat up, I'm not happy with his heart rate" They told me to take deep deep breaths. I just wanted to rest in between contractions and such deep breaths in labor was hard work. Baby's heartrate rate responded well to my deep breathing and we were able to continue with pushing.

10 minutes of pushing at 3:37 pm Elijah Paul Hartley was here and every one was astonished at such a fast labor and delivery. They said it was the best they'd seen in a long time. I was really proud of us. Elijah was born a little dark and the nurses had me rub him down to make him cry and circulate his blood. A little fuss was made over checking him out thoroughly because he was so early- but all was well with him. I lost a good bit of blood and had to get a shot of pitocin to stop my bleeding. Eli was born head and hand and the same time thus his elbow created a bit of a battle wound for me, but nothing too bad.

2 hrs later we moved to our recovery room and the journey of parenthood began for Rob and me.


  1. i havent even read this yet but YAYAYAYAYAYAY i am so excited to see this lil man and read the story of your delivery!!!! love yall

  2. that was AWESOME! your story got blogged about before ours did even though our boys are 8 months apart. this is such a cool bradley story you are like a champion!!!! so inspiring. makes me wanna give birth again. LOOOOOOOOOOOVE

  3. Wow, what a great story! We are so happy for you. I know just how in awe you are right now.....I still am 10 1/2 months later.
    Love, Kevin, Lori and Charlee McGuire