The story of Eleanor’s accidental unassisted birth is amazing and beautiful but also took time to process and work through for both my husband Evan and me. I was a first time mom and my dream was to have a home birth. However, since we live on the 3rd floor of an apartment complex I thought that couldn’t happen, right? Who’s going to bring a hose and pool upstairs and I was worried all our neighbors could hear! So the plan instead became an unmedicated natural birth at a birthing center.
The two nights prior to July 26 I had been having contractions that woke me up almost every hour. I thought they were Braxton Hicks or something and that I was just weak, but looking back they were likely actual labor contractions. The evening of July 26 (39+5) hit and I was procrastinating going to bed because I knew how uncomfortable I was going to be. Around 1:30 a.m. I finally got into bed. I flipped over and heard a kind of pop sound and all of a sudden I am
leaking. I texted my doula and hesitated to call my midwife because surely I wasn’t going into
labor yet. I got up walked around and was fine. Then I got back in bed to rest but I started contracting so strongly that I couldn’t lay or fall asleep. Instead, I got up to go to the bathroom. That didn’t really help so I got on my exercise ball.
During this time we decided to pray a Rosary. I tried to pray along but it got too intense so I was just trying to breathe and relax while Evan prayed it for us. Finally I worked up the courage to call our midwife. She told us that labor will probably happen in the next 24 hours but to try to rest because my contractions weren’t yet at the 4-1-1 point (four minutes apart, one minute long, for at least one hour). They were sporadic. Some were 20 seconds and some were just over a minute but they were coming sooner than every four minutes. I set up a sitting/sleeping position because laying didn’t work. We turned out the lights and just as I was about to fall asleep a contraction hit. This happened multiple times before I decided I wasn't going to be sleeping and the next step was to take a warm bath.
Evan drew me a bath and when I got in, it helped for a little bit. At this point I also started the ‘comb trick’ where I was holding a comb and would squeeze the bristles on my palm. The contractions felt less painful and were bearable. I was able to calm down and remember to offer up the pain. But again they eventually got more intense. I got out and decided to try to sit in the living room. Contractions were not slowing down. I wasn’t getting any breaks but we were still waiting for that 4-1-1. I tried sitting down and that hurt. I tried laying on the couch and that hurt. Standing and leaning on Evan was all I could do. I was so uncomfortable all I wanted to do was sit or lay down to rest for a little bit. Nothing was comforting so I decided to go try the backwards toilet position.
I got up to walk back to the bathroom and in the short walk I had to stop twice for contractions. I tried sitting on the toilet but it was so intense I had to stand up again. At this point contractions were so strong I was curling over and holding my knees each time. At a certain point when contracting my body just started pushing on its own. I don't know how to describe the feeling other than it felt like pushing on a closed door. I became scared that this meant I wasn’t dilated and this feeling was going to last forever. On top of everything I was also thinking, “How am I going to make it out of the apartment, down three flights of stairs, into the car and all the way to the birthing center?!??”
I couldn’t take it anymore so I decided to get back into the bath (thank goodness we didn’t drain
the water!) I got on my hands and knees and kept pushing. Evan kept reminding me to use low
sounds and not to panic but at this point I didn’t care. I was screaming and biting the comb! Then
on a push I started to feel burning and I thought, “Oh my gosh, I think this is ring of fire!” So I
knew to breathe and slow down. However my body just kept pushing for me.
Evan was on and off the phone with our doula and midwives, I don't know all those details because I couldn’t keep up. My eyes were closed basically this whole time so I can only remember what I felt. But I know when I got in the tub he said we could leave for the birthing center. I knew I was not making it anywhere but still was worried, “How am I going to
make it out of here??”
I pushed again and yelled, “Do you see a head?!??” I reached down and I felt her head! Evan said
he saw the top of her head and while I kept pushing he got up and ran to unlock the door. (At this point the tide had officially turned and the midwives realized they had to come to us.) He then took his socks off and hopped in the tub with me. He said by the time he looked again he saw her nose. I pushed a couple more times and she shot out at 6:10 a.m.!
After the hardest, most painful moments in my life came the most amazing high I had ever felt in my life. IMMEDIATE relief ran through my body as Evan caught our baby and helped flip me over to put little Eleanor on my chest. We laid in the bath tub waiting for the midwives to come and help us. Our midwife was on the phone and kept talking to us as I just held Eleanor in disbelief and staring at Evan. “How did we do this??? We have a baby!!”
Ten minutes later one of our midwives showed up and helped clean us up and examine Eleanor. Everything was done on our bed, all the weighing and checking and latching, in the comfort of our home. Evan was able to nap while everyone was taking care of me. It was a beautiful and restful experience.
I had never felt this relieved and so fantastic. Even though it was the best, within the next couple of days postpartum baby blues started to hit and that’s a whole other story. Working through this incredible change has been so difficult, but we know we are truly blessed that God gifted us with such a healthy, perfect little baby!
Lily Williams is a newlywed and first time mom married to her husband Evan. You can find her on Instagram at @sproutingtosainthood.