Elijah Josiah Stuart
Elijah’s Birth Story
The time leading up to Elijah’s birth was one of self-discovery and re-evaluation. When I first found out that I was pregnant, I felt a sense of disbelief; I was overwhelmed. After all, my body hadn’t been the same since I had taken hormonal birth control in my early 20's. In fact, a couple months before learning I was pregnant, I had been in the emergency room for cysts on my ovaries which had burst. I wanted to get my body back to a healthy state and proceeded by going to see a couple who specialize in Total Body Modification. I was adjusted but advised to be cautious since I could potentially get pregnant since my body had been reset. Lo and behold, six weeks later I decided to get a pregnancy test because I was late on my menstrual cycle; I was shocked to learn that I was pregnant.
I won’t lie; it wasn’t the easiest time of my life. My husband had just returned from war and we weren’t doing as well as I had envisioned that we might be. Chad was excited about us being pregnant despite how rocky our relationship was at that point in time.
For the next eight months, we focused on strengthening our marriage as well as changing my backwards mindset that giving birth would be the worst thing that I would do as a woman. I had been scared of delivering a baby ever since I had been a little girl, but then I discovered Morning Star. Before that time, I had become much more conscious about my diet and “traditional” living. After one visit with the doctor, I knew I didn’t feel right about going the “conventional route” [of birthing in the hospital] which was strongly supported by my family. Paula was referred to me by a member of our congregation. Up until that time, I had known Paula but had no idea that she owned the birthing center! As soon as we spoke, I knew this was where I wanted to deliver my baby. From then on, I actively strove to change my mindset by reading uplifting material, particularly Ina May’s literature. I would read birthing stories every night … soon I started to believe that I could do what millions of women have done since time began, deliver a baby.
Of course, to exacerbate the situation, the summer of 2006 was hot, and to say so means I have a penchant for huge understatement. It seemed that most vegetation had dried up in western Wisconsin along with my lawn and garden, and of course my “internal heater” was unneeded. With each passing day I felt bigger and more uncomfortable, and it became increasingly difficult to play the organ at church because I couldn’t see my feet and my belly protruded almost to the keyboard. Soon I didn’t go outside until it was late in the evening so I could escape the heat and walk a bit, in hopes that my body would be up for the nearing challenge of labor and birth.
On the 22nd of July, my mother came to visit. The weather had cooled a bit; we decided that it would be a good day to have a baby. So, we started walking. Our friend, Marybeth, joined us and we spent the afternoon walking and enjoying the time together. At 3:30 pm I had my first contraction and it actually felt…h-m-m-m-m-m, pretty nice. Over the course of the next hour I had several more contractions and informed my mother that if this was truly it, then I would need some sustenance, like a steak. We had dinner at Zanzibar and while we ate she timed my contractions. Just as we finished, I felt them begin to gain some momentum.
We returned home and decided to phone my substitute organist to cover at church the next morning. As the night drew on, the contractions continued to increase. By midnight I decided to phone Paula. After a brief conversation, we decided that we would walk down to the birthing center (since it was a block away). In a discouraging moment, Paula informed me that we were still at only two centimeters—the same as at my last check-up. All four of us decided to go home and try to sleep. I tried hard to relax, but the contractions were strong enough to keep me awake. I decided to have a glass of wine and within minutes I relaxed and slept extremely soundly for two hours. At 6 a.m., I woke up suddenly and within minutes I was in transition. It came on so suddenly that there was no time to think—my body had already taken over and it knew what had to be done. I resisted calling Paula, not wanting it to be another false alarm, but when I felt the urge to push; I knew she needed to come to see me. Paula arrived at 7:30a.m. as I was in the bathtub trying to manage the waves of intensity. She checked my cervix; I had dilated to 10 centimeters!
Paula asked if I wanted to stay home to have the baby, but we weren't planning a home birth. “Then we better get to the birthing center!” she exclaimed. Although I had envisioned casually walking to the birthing center it was a challenge to walk to the car by this point. We made it to Morning Star just as the undeniable urge to push took over. My clothes were stripped and my instincts were in full-force. Paula phoned Krista her assistant and Kate too, because it was Sunday morning and everything was happening so quickly. In the midst of it all, I managed to remember to call my Grandma Mabel; she joined us shortly after.
They managed to fill the birthing tub and as I was in the tub; I was able to relax. From that point on, we all rode the waves of the contractions. At certain points, I worked on mentally or consciously relaxing my mind and telling myself that we (the baby and me) could do this. The contractions came and went and we had long periods of rest in between. It is actually one of the nicest memories of my life. I was surrounded by people whom I loved and who loved and believed in me. I even had a few contractions that felt good! The baby’s head began to emerge and then retracted several times, just as Paula had taught us during the birthing classes, and once the baby’s head descended to the very base, I felt the “ring of fire”. I remember thinking that it felt like the head was way too big to fit through the opening but I kept asking the baby to be gentle on me and then *bang*! He shot out like a little torpedo flying through the water; fortunately, Paula was there to catch him. I was in shock—I couldn’t believe it was over!! They placed Elijah on my chest and he looked into my eyes…we did it! The circle of life had been completed once again. The miracle of life was once again a reality.
Elijah came into this world at 10:03a.m on Sunday, the twenty-third of July. He was handsome and alert right from the very start and he has brought joy to so many people. We are blessed beyond measure, as parents and a family. I am still amazed at the miracle of childbirth.
It was the experience of my life as I had dreamed it would be. Each day is new and beautiful in my baby’s eyes and I treasure each moment that we have together.
“What an opportunity to be at such a special, life transforming event. I will never forget the peace, calm, beauty and simplicity of water birthing. The whole experience was awesome to watch unfold.”
“From the perspective of an 87-year old Great-Grandmother, it was a wonderful experience, to be allowed to witness the birth of Elijah. What a miracle it was. The atmosphere was warm, relaxed, with a special gentleness. Michaela and Chad’s pregnancy was really a great learning experience. I was fortunate to be present at Michaela’s birth also. What a difference there has been in my lifetime regarding childbirth. As we’ve shared in Elijah’s development it has truly been with a sense of awe and wonderment. He’s such a joy!”
I’ve always heard that the most wonderful thing in the world is to become a Grandma. I personally had always been close to my grandma until she passed on in 1992; and even now when life gets a bit strange, she pops into one of my dreams. The bond is so strong between a grandma and a child words cannot really describe it; there is an exceptional love of a grandma; they give more openly, love more generously and make you feel like you are the most special child in the world.
When I gave birth to Michaela in the spring of 1981, my mother- in -law was at the birth. She watched my daughter enter into the world and bonded with her just as strongly as I did. The two continued through life very connected- and so it was fitting that when Michaela was about to give birth that Grandma Mabel and I were there to participate and bond with the next generation.
Life falls into place exactly as it is meant to be; even though we as humans always seem to be trying to change it. I was unsure if I would be at the birth of my first grandson; I had hoped so. However, living and working an hour a way and knowing how unpredictable babies can be at times, I was not holding my breath. I did tell my daughter, that it would be very nice if she could have this baby on the upcoming week-end- as I had work obligations for the next two week-ends preventing me from attending the birth.
Elijah granted my wish; babies have a special way of knowing when the timing is right for everyone involved. The day before the birth was bright and sunny; “it was a good day to give birth”. I documented my first photo of “grandma and me” with Michaela’s very round belly and my face beside it~ the first of many photos to come. The rest of the day was spent walking, walking and walking some more. The birth process soon started in the afternoon when contractions began. The birth came in the next 24 hours, relatively easy. The process was entirely different from my experience 25 years earlier of Michaela; there were no stark rooms with bright lights shining on Baby Elijah as he entered the world. Elijah came into the world surrounded by love, like every child should be. It was wonderful to be part of the process of life by being a grandma and becoming a part of his life as he continues to grow.