Elijah’s Birth Story
Our Third Baby’s Birth Story & the 2020 Pandemic
Written by Elisabeth Duncan
Every birth story is different just as every child is. I am a mother of three, currently 5 years, 3 years and 6 months. They are have been very different and yet still had some similarities. My first two deliveries were very traumatic. My third was thankfully not traumatic and compared to the others pretty easy.
All my pregnancies have been rough to say the least. Hyperemesis, hypovolemia, incredibly sick all 9 months, cracked ribs, slipped disc in my back and an irritable uterus causing early labor. With my first I went into early labor at 28 weeks and continued to have contractions and spent time in and out of the hospital for the next 11 weeks. My second and third contractions started around 20 weeks but I did a little better knowing when I needed to go to the doctor.
Our kids were born at 39 weeks and 2 days, 39 weeks and 1 day and 39 weeks. Weird huh? I didn’t realize that (I knew it was all around 39 weeks) until the nurse this last time told me the sequence. Great, now next time I have to keep up this pattern and do 38 weeks and 6 days, ha!
We welcomed our youngest son, Elijah April 15th, 2020. Yes, a COVID baby. Let’s start at the beginning. I knew I was pregnant at 3 weeks. I got really sick at just 2 weeks but I thought it was a bug. When it persisted another week I figured I needed to take a test and sure enough, pregnant. We were so excited and I was gearing up for another hard pregnancy but crossing my fingers that 3rd time was the charm and it would go smoothly. It was rough. At 10 weeks I had to go in for fluids because of hypovolemia. At 21 weeks I was put on half bed rest. I could work within reason and anytime I wasn’t working I needed to rest. Easier said than done when you have two other kids to take care of at home.
The contractions also started at 20 weeks. I just monitored them closely at home and did what I could to keep them at bay. There were quite a few nights when I stayed up well into the night monitoring contractions and wondering if it was time to go to the hospital. At 34 weeks at 3 am I woke up my husband and said the nurse said I needed to go into the hospital. When we got there I was hooked up to everything and we monitored the baby and the contractions. They finally started to slow and taper off so I was allowed to go home.
Shortly after this I got a bad case of bronchitis. I completely lost my voice for 2 weeks and because of coughing and how the baby was positioned I popped two ribs out of place. Weird enough, while pregnant with our first he cracked one of my ribs with his head. He was breech and moved his head just right and cracked a rib. I’m not sure if we should have another boy, as they seem to like to hurt my ribs.
Week 38 was hard, to put it lightly. Contractions were basically non stop at this point. The doctor just told me that when it gets totally unbearable come in. I was doing everything I could to help labor progress. Drinking tea, taking prim rose supplements, bouncing on my kids bouncy ball, taking long walks with the kids everyday, you name it I tried it. I was in so much pain from my ribs and contractions I was beyond ready. Monday afternoon into evening contractions were every 5 minutes. I was having trouble breathing through them but I was able to get a bit of sleep on and off. Tuesday I called the doctor and they wanted me to come in and be seen. Contractions were there but again the progression wasn’t. I was 38 weeks and 6 days. The doctor told me since I would be 39 weeks the next day if I wanted I could call them tomorrow (Wednesday) and set up a time to be induced or keep my 39 week appointment with him on Thursday.
That night (Tuesday) while crying because I was in so much pain I told my husband I wanted to be induced. I was worried after having constant contractions for the last 19 weeks my body would be too tired to go through labor. My body seemed to be shutting down and we felt for my health and baby’s I needed to be induced. Wednesday morning I called and we set up an induction for the next day. I instantly felt better.
The kids and I were getting ready for our daily walk and I went to the bathroom for the millionth time before we left. Right after I was done baby moved hard and my water leaked. I was hopefully pessimistic. I put our daughter on my back in the Tula, got the dogs on their leashes, our son grabbed his scooter and we went for our mile walk. My hope was if labor was going to start, this would progress it. We came home, I put the kids down for a nap, and I tried to relax and wait. I couldn’t. I called the nurse and told her what happened and she said I needed to go in. Here we go again.
We got to the hospital about 5pm. I was dilated to about a 2-3 and 70% thinned. They were convinced that it wouldn’t be until Thursday that I would have the baby and they weren’t sure if it was my water. We were going to wait and see how things progressed in the next couple hours and then regroup. At 7pm the doctor came in and asked if I’d had any more water leak. I hadn’t so she said in about an hour we would probably break my water. She walked out the door and baby kicked and it was like a huge balloon popped inside. My water had officially broke.
Things progressed pretty quick then. I held out as long as I could for an epidural. I could have gone a bit longer, but with two ribs out of place I was miserable. My nurse started my fluids which took about an hour and then called for an epidural. At this point I was around 8cm dilated. At 9pm I was able to get the epidural and then was finally feeling better. It obviously didn’t help the rib pain but I was able to relax enough that I could manage that pain better.
I started feeling a lot of pressure and knew I needed to push soon. The doctor came in, checked everything and then asked if I had a lot of back pain with labor. I said yes and especially since Monday. She explained that baby was sunny side up and that was causing the pain. She explained that I indeed had been in labor since Monday (remember it’s now Wednesday) but because of his position it was hard for him to progress. Thinking back now that makes since that when I went in for early labor I felt it so much in my back. She explained she would need to try to flip him but he needed to come down a bit further. They had me roll until I was almost laying on my stomach hoping gravity would help get him in a better position to flip. After about an hour of laying there to their surprise to worked!
At 11:35pm I started pushing. She had me do one small push and she was able to flip him around. Then with two more contractions he was here at 11:49pm. All 9lb 13 oz of him! That’s right, almost 10 pounds. After they told us how big he was it made perfect sense as to why I was in so much pain all the time and definitely explained the two popped ribs. Our other kids were 8 and 7 lbs so it was a big surprise. It was my smallest pregnancy and I had actually lost weight before I delivered him so I’m not sure where all that baby came from.
My other two deliveries were very traumatic. Oxygen needed, extra fetal monitors, our first was 21 hours of labor and 4 hours of pushing, second came so fast I tore to the 4th degree, our daughters cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times, emergency c section teams running in both times but thankfully not needed and dropping heart rates of both our older two. So needless to say this was so much easier! Recovery was harder than I had hoped and definitely different than the first two. Let’s just say at 6 months later and I still have some PTSD while sitting down!
We soon found a rhythm of life with 3 kids and 2 dogs. It’s been crazy having our third baby during a pandemic. I will say, it was nice to have it just be us at the hospital instead of people coming in and out of the room. I think the thing that was harder for me was not being able to take my baby out anywhere. As a new mom you want to show your baby off and we couldn’t do that, even with family. I also couldn’t do a target run for anything I needed. Bless my husband’s sweet soul for braving the aisles looking for post birth essentials. He did it without hesitation and actually came back with more things than asked for because “I thought this looked like it would be really nice for you.”
So, although the circumstances around this delivery was very different and abnormal it turned out just fine. Actually, better than fine. It’s been great! Would I want to deliver (or even live through) another pandemic…no. However, I have been able to spend so much time with my family that I wouldn’t have gotten to other wise. A month before Elijah was due cases were spiking in Iowa. We decided for my health and the baby’s I needed to quit working for the foreseeable future. Nathan decided he would just work from home and our oldest wouldn’t go back to preschool. We all quarantined and besides my doctor appointments Nathan was the only one to leave the house. Our kids hadn’t gone to a store from March until about October. They have done really well but have said things like, “when the germs are gone I want to do XYZ” or “I really miss Hy Vee,” But I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve gotten to spend with all of them for the world.
You never know what life will throw at you, a pandemic, an almost 10lb baby who breaks your ribs :), who knows. I do know that I am so thankful for my husband and all his love and support, all the medical staff and the amazing jobs they do day in and out and thankful for the 3 sweet blessings we have.
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