Rosalie’s birth story begins and ends on one of my favorite holidays: Valentine’s Day. While many people ignore this holiday or chalk it up to a greeting card day, I am a total fan. Perhaps it’s because my mom made us special valentines each year or the fact my dad always came home with chocolates and balloons for everyone. Jake and I have continued this tradition with our kids and I love the warmth, treats and expressions of love the day brings. We keep it low-key for ourselves and almost always stay in but make it an exclusive date night no matter what day of the week it falls on. This is why Rosalie’s birth story is a little ironic: we had to cancel our grand Valentine plans (but don’t worry–we were more than happy to!).
February 14, A.M
Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year. Jake had to bring his mom to the airport for her flight home which I felt horrible about. She had been in town for 2 weeks awaiting Baby February’s arrival and was leaving and I still had ZERO signs of labor. After Jake dropped her off, he came home to pick us all up for church (including my mom who was in town now). Church came and went and we came home for lunch. I had previously asked my mom if she and my grandmother would watch the kids that afternoon while I took Jake on a coffee date. It was my “tiny” surprise to him and I told him not to get his hopes up. He then told me had ALSO asked my mom to watch the kids that night to take me to a dessert date at a place we’d been wanting to try. He had reservations for 8pm.
February 14, the Afternoon
We started our date around 2:30 that afternoon, grabbed our coffees and took a drive. During that drive I had a couple strong contractions. We decided that when we got home we would finish packing our birthing center bags just in case. We agreed to not tell anyone because I had had contractions for the last 2 weeks on and off but they never turned into anything and I didn’t want to give anyone false hope. It was also on this trip we brought up our two girl names. We’d had only one for the longest time, but a new contender had joined the ring recently. We settled on the new name (our boy name had been set since Day 1).
Once home (4:00pm) we went upstairs to pack. I had maybe one contraction while packing and then they stopped. We went downstairs to hang out with everyone and order our Valentine dinner of sushi. (All I had wanted was raw sushi and wine for Valentine’s day and was a little bummed my wish wasn’t happening ;)) At 5:40pm my brother was getting ready to pick up the sushi. I was standing in the living room waiting for him to get out of the bathroom so I could use it when I felt my water break. It was not a movie gush. It was a smaller trickle. I impatiently waited for the bathroom to open and once it did, quietly went to check what was happening. Sure enough I could tell it was most likely my water breaking and not urine.
Fun fact: My water has broken FIRST to signal labor was starting in all four of my pregnancies. Isn’t that wild!? I walked out, grabbed my phone to record Jake’s reaction (he had missed the last 2 times and the first time was in the middle of the night) and said “I think my water just broke.” Jake asked if I was joking, my mom dropped the puzzle piece she was holding, my grandmother just stared and my brother said he still wanted sushi. The kids didn’t fully grasp what was happening just yet.
Jake went into prep mode. I told him I wanted to wait to see if more water leaked first and went upstairs to the bathroom. Before I knew it he was in the bathroom with me with the midwife on speaker phone. I was sitting on the toilet and knew it was my water for sure at this point because it was turning pink. She said she could get to the center at 6:45pm but her shift ended at 7pm and a new midwife would be on. Jake and I went back and forth about what to do. Jake was very panicked about having a car birth and thought we had to leave immediately. I said 15 minutes wouldn’t make a difference and told the midwife to stay home and we would just go in at 7. The midwife was laughing at us going back and forth. Jake finally agreed and we spent the next 20 minutes leaving instructions for the kids, saying goodbye and getting ourselves ready. We hopped in the car and arrived at the center at 6:54pm.
February 14, P.M.
I had 2 bigger contractions on the way and 2 smaller ones. We were immediately let into the birthing center. I had been very concerned about the mask situation and breathing through contractions while needing to wear a mask. I put mine on but kept it on my chin (no one said anything.) They brought us to our favorite birthing suite: the Mountain room, the same room I had delivered Hadley and Juniper in. Jake got our things inside and set up the diffuser with lavender. Since I was GBS+ they immediately started trying to get the antibiotics in. When the nurse couldn’t get the IV in on the first 2 tries and I was beginning to contract more, she said she was not going to make me sit there and continue to stick me. My veins are notorious for being difficult to stick (I was stuck six times during my labor with Hadley) so I was thankful when she didn’t continue. We both knew my labor was progressing quickly and they would never get the second round in on time anyway.
The midwife came in (DeJane who also delivered Juniper!) to check me. My contractions were starting to come faster and while they were manageable, they were at a point where I wanted to focus on them and had to wait for a break to get checked. This was about 7:15 p.m. DeJane had a chance to check me in between contractions and I was 5-6 cm dilated,, water definitely broken and the baby was sitting at a +1. At this point it was game time. I could focus on laboring.
I remember at this point feeling crampy even between contractions. It was like I was not getting a full break. I picked up my phone to update everyone that I was at 5-6 cm but my message was short and to the point. The pain was starting and making it harder to do anything other than focus on getting to the end. I was just walking around the room at this point and Jake was giving me counter pressure as needed.
Our poor birth photographer called somewhere in here to let us know that a car had hit into her on her way to the center (everyone was fine!) and she would not be making it. I felt so bad for her and we of course told her it was okay and we understood. Turns out her GPS screenshot to me that I found later would have brought her to the center RIGHT when I was pushing so she would have missed the whole birth no matter what. The nurse told us if we wanted her to take any shots, she was more than happy to. So all of the photos you see here are from my cellphone that she took. Since it was on the motion photo setting, we have all these 2 second photos of her birth which is SO amazing.
Typically at The Midwife Center the midwives let you labor alone. They give you your time, respect your time and that your body know what it is doing. Well my body definitely knew what it was doing and it was moving quickly. The midwife and nurse knew this and did not leave the room which I was thankful for. I remember looking at my midwife saying “These are coming really close together. What is going on?” And she answered very gently that my body was just progressing and doing what it should.
Jake continued to give counter pressure to my hips. I swayed and stepped through contractions. With my contractions coming quickly and becoming intense, my midwife offered for me to labor in the tub or shower. The only caveat to the tub was that I could not give birth in it due to Covid. (The concern is that should you poop during birth, Covid can potentially be transmitted from it to the baby.) So that meant I would have to be able to maneuver myself our of the tub (which has pretty high sides) in enough time. I didn’t trust myself to be able to get out and opted for the shower. It was now about 7:30/7:40. At this point we took off our masks since we would be in the water and never put them back on. No one ever said anything. Jake stood behind me holding the shower heads and gently pouring the water on my back. I had a couple more contractions during this time. We probably were only in there 5-10 minutes when I felt like I was done. I can’t really explain it, but I just knew I wanted to move onto something else.
I wrapped a towel around me and stood at the foot of the bed contracting. Eventually I climbed on top of it on all fours. I felt so much determination in my body and just breathed and focused on labor with everything I had. (At some point I am pretty sure I thought about asking for the Nitrous Oxide but remembered it was $200 and thought maybe I would make it through without it and save some money. This makes me chuckle a little that I thought through this.) As I knelt on the bed, the contractions subsided. My body became silent and I knew it was the calm before the storm. Time was probably about 7:55.
I had experienced this “restful state” just before Juniper was born. I knew when the calm stopped, pushing would begin. In my head I remember asking God to please just give me a couple more minutes to rest and recuperate before the real work began. I also began to think through HOW I wanted to deliver the baby. I didn’t feel the support I wanted on the bed. So I brought my body down to kneel on the side of the bed. I asked what my options were. Most pertained to being on the bed. Jake told me later, “I knew there was no way you were getting back on that bed.” He knew how close we were. They ended up giving me a cushion to kneel on.
I knelt on the side of the bed just waiting for my body to say “push.” Instead I felt the urge to pee. Everyone talks about the urge to poop. I vocalized my need to pee, and they told me to just pee right there. I honestly don’t know if I began to try to pee or my body just starting pushing or WHAT. But the next thing I knew I was bearing down with all my might and YELLING. The baby was coming!
Up until this point the room had remained mostly quiet. I breathed through all of my contractions, remaining very focused and calm and in control of my body. But the second my body began pushing and the ring of fire was there, my vocal chords came to life. At 8:02pm I grunted, screamed and yelled my way through. I recalled something about low growling and tried to do that too. I remember thinking, “This baby HAS to be coming out. I can’t do this that long.” Jake says I also yelled, “Get it out of me!” DeJane told me, “I see the eyebrows” and all I could think was, “That’s it!? What about the rest of the head!? ” I continued to push and the next thing I knew she was out. The pain immediately stopped and relief flowed through my body. I sat down holding my body up with my arm. They kept telling me to grab my baby but I had zero energy to move. Jake leaned over and kissed me (I only remember this because of the photos). I asked what the gender of the baby was and my midwife told me to check. I looked down to see the cord covering that area but was able to make out that it was a girl. “It’s a girl!” It was the first time I was ever able to announce it and know first! Rosalie Ellis was born at 8:04 pm.
They somehow managed to hand her to me and Jake helped lift me back onto the bed. She was COVERED in vernix still (the white, cheesy substance). So there was some debate later on as it whether or not my due date was off. I was pretty knowledgeable about my cycles though and figured it would only be off 1 week at the most, making her 38 weeks. They got me cleaned up, placenta delivered and checked for tearing (none! Praise God! that is always a huge relief to hear).
We embraced the “Golden Hour” of bonding, breastfeeding, skin to skin before they weighed her and cleaned her off. She *technically* weighed 7 lbs 15.5 ounces but I’ve been rounding up to 8 lbs. Her length was 20.25 inches (again I keep saying 20″).
(Oh, and that sushi? Jake brought it along and we had it for a late dinner and he gave me his raw sushi. haha)
Jake has been my doula for all 3 pregnancies at The Midwife Center. We hired a doula for Emmett but after seeing Jake rock the birth partner gig, I didn’t hire a doula again. Jake knows what I need and listens during the entire labor. He is a huge teammate to me and a solid rock during labor and delivery. He advocates for what I need, is right beside me from A-Z and this time was no different. I am so incredibly thankful for the gift from God that he is to me.
During the night the nurse checked on Rosalie a lot. She was grunting as she breathed which is a concern in and of itself but throw in the fact I was GBS+ with no antibiotics and there was a raised concern. She looked totally fine and was eating great. The nurse called the midwife who ended up on the phone with Children’s Hospital. There was talk of her going to the NICU there if her breathing didn’t get better. All of these things were happening in the middle of the night. I was completely delirious and exhausted. I simply just kept nodding and saying OK. The nurse even took Rosalie with her at one point so Jake and I could sleep. There was an impending snowstorm about to happen at 1am also that we were hoping to beat home.
The nurse came in with her when her breathing still wasn’t where they wanted and tested her blood sugars. At the same time that she pricked Rosalie’s foot, it must have shocked her or something because it immediately made her choke. The nurse reached down so swiftly and turned Rosalie onto her belly and began hitting her back. Jake and I just stared at what transpired because it happened so fast and we were half awake. I remember just sitting there praying “Dear God, please let her be OK” over and over. I felt completely helpless and knew it was all that I could do. Rosalie was obviously fine but it scared all three of us.
We went through 3 nurses that night but the third one finally gave us the all clear to go home: Rosalie’s breathing was normal! We left around 8:30 the following morning. It had just begun to snow and was piling up quickly. We made it home safely and the kids welcomed her so joyfully. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Psalm 103:1