Elias Hawk was born on September 9, 2013 at 10:20pm. He was 8 pounds, 5 oz. and 20 inches long. Here is the story of his birth day:
I was surprised how much my mood changed after I crossed the line past 41 weeks pregnant. Friday, I still felt bright and confident that things would continue to go well until Hawk decided to join us earthside, but as Saturday (officially one week post-dates) rolled by and there were still no signs of impending labor, I began to lose confidence quickly. Waking up Sunday morning at 41 weeks plus one day gestation, I began to question my ability to go into labor on my own. I was so discouraged.
To his credit, my sweet doctor never uttered the word "induction" to me. So many are quick to schedule medical procedures once a mama approaches post-dates pregnancy, but my doc remained encouraging and supportive of my low-intervention birth plan. Still, my next appointment was scheduled on Tuesday afternoon, and I knew we wouldn't be able to avoid the topic this time.
Sunday evening, the boys and I curled up on the couch to watch a movie together. Every few minutes, I'd slide my bottom off the edge of the couch and allow myself to dangle in a squat, supported by my arms. I wiggled my hips, trying to help Hawk engage his head into my pelvis. I could tell he was still not in the right position to be born. I felt his head grinding on my pelvic bone once again, and suddenly I knew. He was trying to come down, but couldn't get his head past my pelvis. Remembering the day big brother Seth was born, I recalled vividly how my oldest son had been lodged behind my pelvic bone and I spent nearly four excruciating hours trying to push him around it. I remembered how bruised the top of Seth's head was when he finally emerged, and how I felt as if I'd been hit by a train for weeks after. I never told anyone how traumatizing his birth had been until early into my second pregnancy, because I had so much pride wrapped up in having "accomplished" the goal of having a natural birth the first time.
I decided then that, if I woke up pregnant one more day, I'd immediately call a chiropractor. I'd never been to a chiropractor before, and I have a fear of new experiences. I resolved that I was more afraid of having another traumatic birth, and swallowed my pride. Monday morning, I called the chiro that Aimee, my doula, had recommended and scheduled an appointment for that afternoon. I knew it was possible the adjustment would put me in labor, and I was nervous. Eric stayed home from work Monday, and he took me to the chiropractor appointment. Afterward, we took Seth out for popsicles and an afternoon at the park. By the time dinner rolled around, I felt virtually the same, although as if a ton of weight had been removed from my lower back and hips. I still wasn't having contractions. Eric said he planned to go back to work Tuesday morning, and I felt deflated.
During the seven o'clock hour, I texted back and forth for a while with Aimee. I confessed how scared I was of the prospect of going into labor alone the next day while Eric was at work, and she encouraged me to trust God's perfect timing. At eight o'clock, I sent an encouraging text to a friend from church who was scheduled for a 7 AM cesarean the next morning, feeling happy for her but anxious for myself. I headed to bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I felt tears well up in my eyes. But then, I felt God say to my heart: "I will never leave you or forsake you."
"Thank You, Lord," I responded.
I dozed off, but after a while, a strong pain in my pelvis woke me up. It eased, and I rolled back into my pillow to go back to sleep. A few minutes later, I felt another pain. "Eric?" I called tentatively into the next room, afraid to say anything about the pain and then have it go away.
Eric came to the bedroom and I told him I'd had pains. "What time is it?" I asked him.
"9:05," he said. "Should we call someone?"
"I don't know." I hesitated. What if I called someone to come get Seth and the pain disappeared? That would be so embarrassing and frustrating. "No, not yet. Wait. Yes. Yes, let's go ahead and call someone."
Right after calling Eric's mom to come pick up Seth, I got another pain. It had been five minutes since the last. I knew I'd made the right decision immediately, and began to gather my things. Eric started to get Seth ready to go, and Seth was crying that he was scared to go without us. I felt so bad, but I couldn't dwell on it and I headed for the car with my purse and a water bottle. Eric brought a blanket from the bed out and laid it across our backseat, and he took Seth's car seat out to move into his mom's car. Seth came outside, and I heard him say, "I'm not really scared anymore. Just a little scared, but I'm ok." I was so proud of him. Right then, Eric's mom pulled into the driveway: it had been about fifteen minutes and I'd had at least two more contractions.
Through this, I'm texting back and forth with my sister and my doula. I fired off texts to everyone who'd asked to be notified when I was in labor so they could pray for me. I am amazed now that I had the presence of mind to follow through, because I had lost reasoning ability altogether almost as soon as labor began the day Seth was born. His birth had been relentless, and I felt so out of control. This time, I was totally lucid.
I crawled into the backseat on my hands and knees, and Eric started the car. The song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman was on the radio, and I began to sing along with it right as another contraction began. As we pulled out onto the main highway, the song ended and a voice on the radio read a passage from Psalms:
From the ends of the earth I call to You,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge... (Psalm 61:2-3)
I leaned into the armrest on the car door and made that my prayer. With every contraction, I prayed and asked God to take me outside the pain: I imagined myself flying over it like an eagle. In between contractions, I continued to communicate with people by text: a friend from church, my sister, my doula (who was waiting for her husband to return home to be with their kids before she could leave to meet us). I kept an eye on the clock at the top of my phone display, and I noticed the pains we coming closer: now four minutes apart. I looked up for a landmark reference and eyed the back of a retail store moving quickly past on the side of the interstate. I asked Eric where we were, and he told me: we were about halfway there.
Closer: three minutes apart. I looked up for another reference, and texted my doula again: 3 min apart ... passing Hwy 119.
I'm not far behind you, she responded.
Right as we pulled around the curve of our exit ramp, I braced myself against the toughest contraction yet. Immediately, I thought: I'm in the transition stage. Transition is the point where most women lose any composure they have remaining. It can feel like you're losing your mind. I was amazed that I was able to process the thought and identify my body's progress. Almost there.
I had about three contractions like that before I felt the car ascending the ramp into the parking deck at the hospital, and then another contraction with the definite urge to push came. "I can't walk," I told Eric.
He hurriedly chose a handicapped space and left to go alert someone of our arrival. I climbed out of the car: as soon as I stood up, my body began bearing down and I peed all over myself. I felt Hawk's head move into the birth canal: a sensation I'd never been able to identify during Seth's birth, which had felt more like my whole lower half was being ripped apart with no distinguishable progress.
I had two pushing contractions standing there beside the car, and became convinced I was going to have a parking lot baby. Then, Eric returned with a nurse and a wheelchair. I panicked. I couldn't imagine sitting in a wheelchair in this state. At that moment, Aimee arrived. For the life of me, I don't know what she said to me but I calmed down enough to get in the chair and off we went.
A beautiful woman in scrubs was walking through the parking deck at the same time and joined us in the elevator. I only caught bits of what was said between her and the nurse, but I registered the phrase arrived just in time and thought they were just talking about me. I didn't realize then that the woman was the on-call OB, who'd arrived the same time we did!
When we arrived on the L&D floor, the nurse said, "We're going to room 12." I looked over my shoulder at the room numbers passing by: 15... 14... 13... Finally.
We got in the room, and the nurse asked me to undress and put on a gown. Somehow, I was able to comply in enough time to climb on the bed on hands and knees for the next contraction. The nurses were swarming, someone asked me to lay down. I shook my head no, and my doula asked them if I could stay like that since I was more comfortable that way. Then I looked up and saw the beautiful woman from the elevator in the room, and someone said, "Sarah, this is Dr. H------," and she said, "We already met in the elevator."
Eric's behind me, saying, "You're doing so good. He's almost here! We're almost done."
My doula was in front of me, whispering "You're safe. So close."
Someone says, "Sarah, lets turn over, and with the next contraction you can get him out."
I mustered the will to move and turned over, and that's when I felt the so-called "ring of fire": another sensation I'd skipped altogether the first time around. It was scary, but I knew then they were right and I was about to meet my baby!
With the next contraction, I pushed twice, and the ring of fire worsened but his head still wasn't out. I took a deep breath and committed to push one more time even though I didn't think I could: and there was his head. One more contraction, and his whole body emerged into the nice doctor's hands, and she placed him right on my chest. I was ecstatic!
He was perfect, clean, calm and blazing hot! I held his warmth next to me and couldn't stop smiling (even though I was still in pain!).
After a few minutes, the doctor looked at the cord and decided it was done pulsing and put a clamp on it. She turned to Eric and asked him if he wanted to cut the cord: of course he did! Someone asked me then if it was ok for them to take him or if I wanted to hold him a while longer. I agreed to let them take him to measure his vitals while I delivered the placenta.
I needed a few stitches: the doctor told me Hawk had his hand up next to his face when he emerged. She was very gentle and I barely felt a thing while she stitched me up.
My doula stuck around for quite a while, until I was relatively comfortable and Hawk was returned to me. She went to our car and retrieved my camera bag for us: I fixed the settings on the camera and handed it to her so she could snap some pictures of us with our youngest son. I was so grateful for her presence.
Start to finish, my labor only lasted one hour and twenty minutes. I am in awe: totally unable to believe I was able to accomplish such a monumental feat in such a short time.
The moment I met our youngest son, I knew our family was complete.