The Story of Elliott Franklin’s Birth

Our son’s birth story begins with a very anxious and conflicted mama. At nearly a week postdates, I was both antsy to get the show on the road and still very much hoping that nature would take its course. The latter particularly because my estimated date of delivery (EDD) was based on my last menstrual period (LMP) and was about 5 days earlier than it would have been based on my ovulation date.


After a good appointment on Friday, June 26 at 40w 3d, I was 1cm dilated, 50% effaced, non-stress test (NST) and fluid were looking great, and I was doing a fair bit of cramping and bleeding after a rough membrane sweep. The cramping went nowhere fast, though, and after yet another round of sighs from my coworkers when I showed up to the office on Monday, 40w 6d, I went to see the midwife again at 3:30. I went in prepared to advocate for a little more time before scheduling induction—she had mentioned on Friday that we would “talk about” induction if I made it to my appointment on Monday.


This time the NST wasn’t quite as “textbook” (though I think this is because the nurse put the sensor on in a weird place), and the midwife came in the room and asked where my husband was because they wanted to go ahead and send us to the hospital. My eyes must’ve been the size of dinner plates, and I probably started hyperventilating. When she’d said we would “discuss” induction, I didn’t think that meant, like, NOW. So, I proceeded to argue with her and eventually she and the OB gave in and decided to schedule another NST for Wednesday and go from there. She still wanted to check my fluid levels, so we went into the ultrasound room. On the monitor, the baby still looked really good and happy, and the midwife seemed to relax a little about delaying the induction. After all the tests, she checked my cervix, declared me 2cm, 80% effaced and swept my membranes again. Her “helping me along,” as she called it, turned out to be extra helpful this time as I felt a gush as my waters broke on the ultrasound table (and on my skirt and probably the midwife’s shoes!). It was about 5:30pm.


She was pretty amazed at how calm I was. I think I was in a bit of shock, but I was pretty zen about it. I had been expecting for the baby’s impending arrival to announce itself a little more subtly at first, I guess, but it seemed that the Universe had conspired to make everyone happy—the midwife wanted the baby out ASAP, and I wanted him out soon, but it was still more important to me that he choose his own birthday. She sent me home to eat something and get myself together with instructions to get to the hospital soon since my membranes had ruptured. The drive home was quite surreal… rush hour traffic in Atlanta, all the while I’m sitting on a plastic bag in a wet skirt hoping not to get amniotic fluid on my car seat as it continued to leak out and, more importantly, to make it home before any major contractions began.


I got home, posted the news about my waters breaking for my beloved imaginary internet friends, and waited for Michael to arrive home from work. In the next couple hours, we ordered and ate pizza, I took a shower, and we set the cats up with food and water for a couple days. At around 9, we got a call from the on-call midwife at the hospital “reminding” us that we needed to come in presently. At about that same time, my labor started in earnest, so off we went.


My crampiness pretty much instantly turned into contractions 4 minutes apart and 30-60 seconds long, but I could still stand and talk through them. We checked into the hospital around 10:30, and got settled in our room. I really liked the on-call midwife (who I hadn’t met before), and I felt really supported in my preference for an unmedicated labor. She explained all the options I had to me, and then pretty much laid off. She declared my cervix slightly less dilated when she checked me around 11 than I had been that afternoon, but she was completely willing to let nature take its course and let us be.


The pain and intensity of the contractions ramped up really quickly at that point, and, in retrospect, got really centered in my back. For the last 12 hours of my labor, the intense parts of the contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and they never really stopped in between. With the exception of the 15-20 minutes per hour that the nurses required me to stay on the fetal monitor, Mike and I spent the next hours walking the halls, I sat in the bathtub, laid on my side in the bed, and really used the oooooh and aaaaaah sounds that I had practiced in my pregnancy yoga classes (and had thought I would never use in earshot of other humans). By about 5am, I was really exhausted. The contractions were coming pretty constantly, and I had puked my guts up. And then the midwife came at 6 and declared that I was only 4cm dilated, and very peppily stated that they expect from this point that I’ll dilate about 1cm per hour, so I’d likely be ready to push in about 6 hours.


My heart sank. You mean that was just early labor? I really wanted to do this without pain medication, but after 9 hours of labor that felt pretty intense to me, I didn’t think I could make it another 6 increasingly intense hours before pushing. At this point, a few really wonderful stars aligned for us—the midwife spent about a half hour with me and helped Mike to be more active in helping me to relax during the high and low points of the contractions, and at the same time, she realized that the nurse was not really being all that helpful because she was pretty squeamish… under her breath, the midwife told me, “I’m going to go have them give you a nurse who isn’t afraid of real labor.” Around the same time, it also became necessary for them to stick me for an IV—I was getting dehydrated from all the sweating and breathing and oooohing, and drinking enough would have made me sick again. And with the help of my wonderful husband and the midwife, I decided that when I received the IV, I would take a dose of narcotic pain medication (fentanyl) to take the edge off the contractions so I could relax and rest a little.


The biggest blessing in this is that I was dehydrated enough that 2 nurses failed to get the IV in, and they had to call the “IV team” to stick me. So I had to wait for about 45 minutes before getting the IV. My biggest fear in making the decision to take the IV narcotic was that with 6 or more hours of tough labor ahead, I was going to blow my wad of three doses of fentanyl, and it would wear off in the middle of transition. But, I decided that I needed to be able to rest to get through this, I really did not want the epidural, and that the narcotics would likely, at least, take me to the point of no return.


And, so this is where the blessing of the delayed IV came in. I received it, got the pain meds, immediately knew it was the right call—they took the edge off, I still experienced and had to breathe through the contractions, but I could rest during the less intense dips between. Just as it took effect, miracle of all miracles, the midwife checked me and found that I had dilated to 7—3 cm in 1.5 hours! I was entering transition! Hallelujah! (And no wonder I was in so much freaking pain!) With the help of the medication and my husband, I dilated the next 3 centimeters in another 1.5 hours, and by 9:45, I was ready to push and could no longer feel the effects of the drugs. In fact, it was really really really hard to resist the urge to push once I began approaching 10 cm, and the midwife seemed to be getting concerned about the tiny lip of my cervix swelling. It was excruciatingly painful, but the midwife helped push my cervix back to allow the baby’s head to come through, and I was pushing. I suppose one might call that “midwife-assisted” Ring of Fire.


Things started happening really quickly at this point. The OB was called in to assess how the baby was handling everything, and the nurses couldn’t keep the baby’s heartbeat on the external monitor, so I heard a sudden switch to an electronic beep-beep-beep when they screwed in the scalp electrode. The baby was having some heart rate decelerations, and I heard the OB and the midwife discuss options for getting him out as quickly as possible. I didn’t feel like I was part of the conversation, but at this point, it didn’t really matter because I sort of felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. They considered and rejected vacuum extraction, and quickly decided that an episiotomy was needed. I felt the pricks of the lidocaine in my perineum and around my vagina, but then I didn’t feel much pain after that. Once she cut me, the baby’s head started coming out really quickly. Michael was crying, and all the folks in the room were coaching me along to push three times with each contraction.


After a grand total of 45 minutes of pushing, the midwife was pulling our son out of me, sunny side (or face) up—which explains the back labor!—and placed him on my belly in his slimy, bloody glory. She clamped and cut the cord, and the nurses took him to make sure he was okay after the narcotics (he was, with Apgars of 7 and 9). It took her quite a while to sew me up—probably 30 minutes. I had torn beyond the episiotomy during the delivery (and judging from the look on Mike’s face when I asked him about it, it wasn’t pretty). A couple of easy pushes and the placenta was out, and within the hour, we were both cleaned up, and I was sitting up, nursing my sweet little boy in my arms.


He was born June 30 at 10:34am, 17 hours after my waters broke and 14 hours after my back labor began. 7lbs, 13oz, 21 inches long. He has a full head of dark hair and blue eyes. After meeting him, Mike and I decided to go with the name we thought going in we liked the best—Elliott Franklin, as it seemed to suit him as well as any name can suit a brand new baby! Elliott is our son’s grandmother’s maiden name, and Franklin was the name of Elliott’s paternal great-grandfather and maternal great-great-great-grandfather, in addition to being the name of a number of heroes we particularly admire: Benjamin, Rosalind, Roosevelt.



3 Responses to “The Story of Elliott Franklin’s Birth”

  1. Shannon Says:

    Oh, thank you so much for posting this. I’m glad you had a good labor, and that things went smoothly (once you got some meds to relax a bit). He’s beautiful, and you look great! Congratulations!!

  2. Meg Says:

    This was so inspiring! It sounds like you did great!

  3. Team Kaye » Blog Archive » Oscar Harvey’s (long) birth story Says:

    [...] to verify this theory, but the birth of baby Oscar, while completely different in many ways from the birth of big brother Elliott, tracked the same [...]

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