Elena Clair Ryan
8lbs. 13oz., 20.5 in.
The Birth Story of Elena Clair Ryan.....
Editors Note: The Ryans are medical professionals who carefully researched information regarding out-of-hospital vaginal birth after cesarean section. Morning Star Birth Services respects the family’s inherent right to make informed and educated decisions regarding all aspects of care.
My sweet Elena Clair was born on July 11th, 2005 at 6:10pm after 39 amazing hours of labor. This story actually starts 4 1/2 years ago, after my first c-section. When I was pregnant again, we thought we had it all figured out. We desired to birth at home, but lack of medical backup was preventing us from doing so with a homebirth midwife. So we planned to go to the hospital very late in labor, with our midwife with us as labor support. I attempted to birth in an environment that is not supportive of normal birth, surrounded by hospital staff who were fearful, and a doctor who was hateful. I knew in my heart that this was not the place for me to birth, but I didn't know how to go about changing it late in my pregnancy, so I pressed on, hoping for the best.....and got the worst. So shortly after Noah's birth my husband and I began exploring other options for a future pregnancy. We found and interviewed Paula at Morning Star Birth Center. We knew instantly that she would attend our next birth. She was so calm, and so obviously believed in birth. She even appeared to believe in MY ability to birth....what a wonderful feeling we had talking to her!
When we became pregnant about 8 months later, I began prenatal care with Paula and the Morning Star team. I looked forward to every appointment! I always felt so relaxed, and so NORMAL! Paula never treated me differently, having had two previous c-sections. I was a normal, healthy pregnant woman....it was wonderful! My pregnancy progressed beautifully, and I felt great. I also had regular chiropractic care this pregnancy, and I would never do it any other way again! I truly believe that it greatly contributed to my level of comfort all throughout the pregnancy. Two days after my due date, I noticed that my contractions, which had been sporadic for weeks, seemed more organized. They were still painless and short, but they seemed to be coming at regular intervals. At 3:00am on Sunday July 10th, I awoke with a contraction that was much more uncomfortable. They continued to keep me awake, so I decided to get up and begin getting things together to go to the birth center. We were on the road by about 7:00am. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart, and uncomfortable, but very manageable. The drive wasn't bad at all.
We arrived at the birth center around 9:30am, and got unpacked and settled in. My husband took the kids outside to play and I laid down to try to rest. Things were just so putsy all day on Sunday. Contractions slowed way down and we decided to go to the hotel where my friend Zara would be taking care of the children. We had dinner with them at the hotel, and just hung out. Later, things started to pick up, so I called Paula and told her we would meet her back at the birth center at around 9:00pm. I labored pretty hard all night long, and at 5:30am on Monday morning, Paula checked my progress, and I was fully dilated, but had no urge to push. Elena's head was not in an ideal position and was still high in my pelvis, so Paula explained that we needed to do some things to settle her into my pelvis in a better position. Paula and Karen, her assistant, taught me a pelvic tilt/belly lift, and suggested that I shower and get dressed so that Winston and I could go for a walk outside before it became too hot. I did all of this, contracting all the while. Winston and I actually had a very nice walk, and we both commented on how wonderful it was to be able to be walking to the park while fully dilated. We even had someone stop and ask (with a VERY concerned look on his face!), "do you guys need some help??!!". We just laughed and said, "Nope....we're fine. Just
having a baby!" He looked totally freaked, but said OK, and drove away.
When we got back to the center, things were really picking up and my water broke at the peak of a contraction. There was some meconium, and this really stressed me out, since Noah aspirated meconium and spent a week in the NICU. Paula was very reassuring, and just closely monitored the baby, who was doing great. The urge to push followed, so I got into the birth pool and began to go with the urge. Around 30 minutes later, though, when Paula checked my progress again, I was found to have a swollen cervix. I was going backwards!! This was the worst point for me. When I was told to resist the urge to push, I just didn't feel like I could go on. Suddenly the pain and the urge were more than I could take, and I wanted to throw in the towel. I was done.......so I thought. My awesome team wasn't about to let me quit. I realized that I was stuck. The only way out of this was to push my baby out, so I figured I'd better find a way to get a grip and continue. I got back into the birth pool, and got into a groove. I began to whistle through the contractions. It was soothing to me somehow. And I also liked to watch how my blowing made the water ripple. Thankfully I had no concept of time, because 4 hours passed like this. Everyone decided that laboring the baby down without using up all of my energy pushing was a good idea, so they let me continue.
Finally, though, the urge got so intense, that I was really having a difficult time resisting it. I was also getting very few breaks between contractions. I got up to use the rest room, and Paula checked me. I was again fully dilated, and the baby was at +1 station- much lower than before. She said that if I really felt like I had to push to go ahead, but if I could breathe through any of the contractions, to try to do so. It was now around 4:30pm on Monday. I was pushing with most of the contractions, but if one was less intense, I tried to blow through it, just to give myself a break. I didn't feel like the baby was making any progress.....frankly, I was feeling quite hopeless and exhausted, but wasn't saying anything. I was just trying to push in earnest and get my baby out. I was floating in the pool, and my husband was supporting me from behind. Paula gave me a rope to pull on with her when I had a contraction. I then started doing a sort of tug-of-war thing with my midwife. I really pulled that rope hard! It felt great! People started commenting on how my perineum was bulging, so I assumed this meant that they thought I was making progress. I, on the other hand, still did not believe that this was going to happen. I got out of the tub to use the restroom again. When I came out of the bathroom, my birth team had set up a little station, and told me they wanted me to try to push in a new position. They had my husband sitting on a little stool, and had me straddle his legs, so that I was essentially squatting, but not using any energy to maintain the squat. During a contraction, my husband would bring his arms around and help me open my legs wide. I grabbed his arms and pushed with all of my might!! This position made me feel very powerful! During one of my pushes, Elena came out far enough to cause me to feel a slight burn. I paused and looked up at everyone, exclaiming, "I felt a burn!!” I was so thrilled!! I finally believed that this was going to happen!! This gave me a new burst of energy, and I think by the next push, I had her crowning. I felt her little head....WOW!! I was doing it!! The next push, her head was all the way out. I caressed her little head while we waited for her body......THIS IS SO AMAZING!! Then I pushed her the rest of the way out, and Paula helped me bring her to my chest....I DID IT!!!!! I pushed my sweet baby out of my body by my own power!! I was the first to hold her, and the first to lift her leg and discover she was a girl!! She was so beautiful and warm and slimy!! I was in complete bliss! I just screamed, "I DID IT! THANK YOU GOD!! THANK YOU EVERYONE!!" I cried, I laughed, and I just couldn't believe it. I could hear my husband either crying or laughing behind me...it was hard to tell. But he was so thrilled. He later told me that he really couldn't see much from where he was, but that he felt her come out of me, since I was on his lap....how cool is that?!
I bled more than usual, but it was all calmly handled while I held my sweet daughter. Everything turned out great.....my tired uterus clamped down just fine. I birthed the placenta about 15 minutes after Elena was born. I had a tear on the lateral wall of my vagina that required a few stitches. Once we were all taken care of, Zara and Randy brought the rest of my family to the center to meet Elena. Emma, Noah and Hannah (my step-daughter) were all thrilled to meet her, as were Zara, Randy, and their daughter, Lauren. After we spent a little family time, my husband took everyone to get an ice cream, while Elena and I took an herbal bath together. That felt heavenly!! Birthing Elena was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, and the most empowering and wonderful thing I've ever experienced. I would do it 100 more times!!