- Cindi Denbow
Birth Story of Ellis James
Looking back, I never thought I would have children. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them, I just never saw myself being a mother. Childbirth was also a great fear of mine growing up, which could have contributed to never wanting kids, but now here I am, two months later today (March 7th), a mom, to a beautiful baby boy, whom I love more than anything, and can’t imagine my life without him right now. After my husband and I got married, I pushed that fear of childbirth back in my mind, and pushed myself to accept that it’s a natural process that’s well worth it in the end. Having a natural, unmedicated childbirth at a birthing center, not a hospital, was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s amazing however, how such an experience really impacts the marital relationship afterward. Those weeks after that birth, my husband and I found our patience tested to it’s limits just about every single day, and night. Yet, we find ourselves even more connected to each other than we ever have been before, and we owe it all to our wonderful baby boy, Ellis.
His birth story begins in May of 2016, where we were surprised with the news that we were expecting. We had been married just over a year, and honestly we weren’t planning on having a child for at least another year or two, but God had plans for us otherwise. It took some time for me to finally accept that our lives were going to change forever at a seemingly young age. But when that fact fully sunk in and I assured myself that my life wasn’t over, but just starting a new and exciting chapter, I was okay.
Those 9 months of pregnancy are almost a complete blur now when i think back at it. Kevin and I were kind of riding this pregnancy cloud the whole time- getting all the baby supplies, building baby furniture, going through birth classes, all while still continuing our normal lives at work and traveling places. We never fully realized that we would be full-time parents soon. Our needs and wants won’t come first anymore and we would be completely responsible for everything this child needs, day and night. Couple of weeks in of having him home, and it finally hits us. We’re doing it, we’re parenting!
I was due January 13th, and I was really excited to have someone else in our family born in January. My husband, his father, his grandfather, my father, and my aunt were all born in January. January 6th comes around, and I am exactly 39 weeks pregnant, and at this point, I’m thinking I’ll still be pregnant for another couple of weeks. Kevin and I were going about our usual day- he did a lot of work, I looked at birth stories for a little bit, and we had dinner & movie night at his parent’s that night. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark! It was in between the movie when I started to really have contractions. I knew these were the real thing because I was having Braxton hicks for the past couple months, and they started getting more uncomfortable as I near the due date, but they weren’t painful. These contractions started in my lower back, and literally wrapped around the underside of my belly. It was so new to me but the contractions were so far apart during the movie, I was just thinking I had to change my position, and it’d stop, which it did. Movie ends, and we leave their house a little after 10 pm.
Things started to really pick up. As we got home, I started having more contractions. I was doing my best to distract myself and get ready for bed. Around 11 or so, I found myself on the toilet for about an hour and a half, on and off, just constantly having bowel movements. I was also having contractions after every movement. It got to a point where I’m thinking this is so ridiculous, how much more is going to come out?! My contractions continued, and felt closer together so I started timing them on my phone- they were about 10-15 minutes apart. I told Kevin how they continued to get intense and about my never ending bowel movements. He seemed a little anxious, he kept checking up on me because I just stayed on the toilet at this point, I didn’t know if my body was done, and it just felt easier to be on the toilet during the contractions. It’s 12:30 am, and Kevin says he’s going to try to rest now. Knowing this could be it, that we could be having a baby later that day, I wanted to rest too. We remember Cindi telling us to sleep now while we can because we’ll need all our energy when active labor comes.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t lift my leg over onto the bed without an intense contraction. When I did get in bed, a second later, it hurt so much to be lying down, I got out immediately. It was literally coming in waves, painful waves. I started to pace back and forth next to the bed, the contractions were easier to handle on my feet. Kevin was trying to tell me to rest as he’s half asleep on the bed, but I wasn’t going to dare try to get back in that bed, so I moved out to the living room with my pillow, to try the couch. Well, every time I tried to sit down on the couch, or lie down on it, it would hit me. It was like an intense menstrual cramp that just tightened around my belly and back. I never once had back pain during the pregnancy, so this was a whole new discomfort. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to rest so badly, but I couldn’t, I just kept pacing the floor, and trying to brace myself when the contractions came. I felt myself getting upset and anxious that this was really happening. I didn’t want to call Cindi, I wanted to see how far I could handle it myself, especially if the contractions stopped and nothing happened.
They weren’t stopping, they felt even closer together. I went in the bedroom to wake Kevin up to tell him, and he says to call Cindi and see what she says. Its 1:54am, I call her and she tells me exactly what I thought she would, to try to sleep through them, to distract myself as much as possible, because it would be a long night. I get off the phone frustrated. Kevin comes out to see what she says, I tell him, and he goes straight back to bed. I stayed out in the living room, trying to rest on the couch. Its after 2am,, and I’m still up breathing hard through the contractions. I remember texting my mom to let her know I was having painful contractions. She replied instantly, telling me I need to wake Kevin up. Before I could reply back, I felt this sudden rush, and before I realized what was going on, I was soaked in some kind of liquid I thought to be my water breaking. It came out so fast and I had no control to stop it. I speed walk into our bathroom as its dripping out onto the floor. I go on the toilet, and even more liquid comes out. I’m doing my best to stay calm at this point. I go back out onto the couch. Couple minutes later I get up again because I felt more liquid come out. So I go back to the bathroom, back on the toilet, and see my underwear is soaked in blood.
I’m freaking out now! I grab the toilet paper to wipe, and there it is, the blood show. Mucous consistency covered in blood, but more blood continued to come out. I jumped off the toilet with the bloody toilet paper in my hands, turn the light on, and wake Kevin up. Poor thing was just as freaked out as I was because he was half asleep with this blood drenched toilet paper nearly in his face. I was getting really upset thinking something was wrong with the amount of blood I was losing. Kevin is trying to calm me down, and telling me it’s okay, the baby is okay. He grabs my phone and calls Cindi. It’s 2:38 and she tells him to started loading up the car. My contractions were really coming in now. Kevin is running all over the condo, getting my bag, packing the baby bag, getting all our snacks. I kept telling myself to breathe through these, but it was so hard. Next thing I know, I start getting ready as much as I can. I left my pajamas on though, there was no way I was going to put real pants on. I felt like I could barely move my limbs without pain. Putting socks and shoes were hard enough. I had no time to put makeup on, or really do anything with my hair, I just felt like I had to go. I come out of the bedroom after I put my cardigan on, and checked the weather on my phone to make sure I was dressed enough for it. It’s in the low 30s, in Florida! It’s 3:38, I’m telling Kevin we have to go NOW. He was stilling getting stuff ready and putting it into the car. I was terrified for the car ride there because the birth center was about 40 minutes away from us. I waddled over to the coat rack to grab my coat, and then I’m out the door. I felt the cold hit my face, but I didn’t care. Kevin sets a towel on my car seat and helps me get in. Soon as I sat down, a contraction came in so hard, I felt my entire body tensing up, and I’m holding onto the car rail above the door so tight. Kevin gets in, and calls Cindi again to let her know we’re leaving.
The ride there was actually much better than I thought it was going to be. When I felt the contractions coming and peaking, I was making myself inhale and exhale with them. I focused on staying calm, and breathing to get through it. And then, I would doze off when the contraction was over. The ride itself was putting me to sleep between the contractions. It was only for a couple minutes, but it felt so nice to finally rest. We arrive at the birth center at 4:20am, the lights are on inside and I never felt more happy to walk through those doors. We walked into one of the birthing suites with one of the birth assistants and it was just so relaxing in there with the dim lights and candles and the sound of water filling up the tub. As we’re getting our stuff in the room, my contractions started up again, and I started undressing. I left my shirt on, but everything else came off, and I’m on the toilet with Cindi sitting in a chair next to me. She gets two small stools, one for each leg, and she tells me to squat.
Oh man, did that ever hurt! I felt so out of shape squatting on the toilet. She then turns my left foot outward, and instantly with the next contraction and pushing with it, my water breaks! And it was a huge gush into the toilet. What happened earlier was apparently just me peeing myself. Man do I feel bad about it now, getting to the birth center before my water broke. They probably thought it was going to be a long night! I continued having contractions on the toilet for a little while. I remember Cindi telling me I can’t get into the tub yet until I’m 6cm dilated. Thinking back at it now, I’m still in shock that I wasn’t even halfway dilated when we got to the birth center. Cindi then helps me off the toilet to do side-lunges on the back end of the bed. Moving into that side lunge on that stool was actually really comforting. It hurt to push in that lunge position, but it was really helping the contractions to hurt less. As I’m doing the lunges, liquid continued to pour out.
I remember looking down and seeing these soaked puppy pads, and the birth assistant continued to replace them. Next thing I know, we’re getting ready to go into the tub. My shirt is off and I put my sports bra on. Looking back I don’t know why I did, I really didn’t need it. Getting in the tub was hard, and the contractions in the water were even worse. It’s crazy though because this was my whole plan to give birth in the water, but it was like the water was pushing back against the contractions. I was not in there too long. Cindi was really helping me on how to push, because I wasn’t doing it right at first. She kept telling me to not scream with the pushing, but to hold my breath in and grunt while pushing!
It was so effective, but it was not easy! It was so hard to not be so loud, pushing with all my might but to be almost silent. I get out of the tub, get dried off, and then I’m back on the toilet. I was feeling discouraged at this point, like I wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t pushing right. I felt really upset, I’m going through these contractions and doing my best to hold in my breath like she said, but it didn’t seem to be working. Cindi then gets her flashlight out and shines it down at the toilet between my legs, and she tells me to reach down and touch my baby’s head. I remember being taken back, like what? Is she crazy, he can’t be there. I do what she says and I feel this small bulb like shape with hair, right there, so close to the outside of my lips, and I’m just emotional. I looked at Kevin who was standing there at the doorway of the bathroom, and I said oh my gosh, honey, he’s right there, he’s so close! I can touch his head!! And that was it. Feeling his head that close to the outside, gave me the push I needed to push him out. We then move to the bed, and I’m hanging over the footboard, and start to really push with the contractions. Kevin is sitting in a chair in front of me and holding my hand. I was trying harder than ever to hold my breath in, and grunt with each contraction, and then I feel it, the ring of fire. Such a burning, stinging sensation as his head starts to crown. I’m then told to stop pushing. What?! I was told not to push when there wasn’t a contraction. I was in so much pain, and it was so close to being over, it was the hardest thing ever to not keep pushing. But I did what she said. Knowing in my mind, she knows what she’s doing, and I’m thinking this will help me to not tear. That was another fear of mine- tearing and getting stitches. Luckily, during this stage, I never felt like I had to throw up. I just felt a lot of gas in my stomach, causing me to burp up a lot. I remember this was where I was squeezing Kevin’s hand to keep all the urge I had to not push without a contraction. I remember feeling so hot at this stage, I felt sweat on my neck. I remember being asked if I wanted to tie my hair up, but I said no. It really comforted me to have my hair in my face as i’m hanging over the end of the bed. A wave of contraction came, and I gave it all I had to push with it, then it stopped so I stopped. I felt his head immediately get sucked back in when I stopped pushing, and I thought I was going to lose it. He was right there, then back in just like that.
Everyone around me was telling me it was okay, and how great I was doing, but I didn’t feel great. As soon as that next contraction came, I kept pushing harder than ever, that burning pain came back, and I felt myself heating up even more and really grunting as loud as I possibly can, almost screaming at that point. I remember she touched my back, and was trying to straighten it so it was flat. I was breathing so hard, I was ready for this pain to be over. His head was just about out when suddenly I felt the sharpest, most intense pain that I’ve ever felt yet, and I know I was screaming now and I didn’t care, it felt like something else was stretching out my vagina then just his head. I’m still pushing as hard as I can, and screaming and grunting as loud as I possibly can. I felt Cindi stick her fingers in to pull the rest of him out, and he falls into her hands crying, and I’m just in complete shock. I sit my bottom down on the bed and Cindi hands him over to me, and I’m just out of it. I couldn’t believe he was actually out and in my arms right now. There was blood all over him, my legs, on the bed, but I ignored all that. I was just extremely happy and relieved it was all over. He was born at 6:10am on January the 7th, just under 2 hours from when we arrived at the center, and about a week short from his due date. Born at 6 pounds and 13 ounces and 20 and a half inches long.
It was truly an amazing and empowering experience, and I am still in disbelief with myself that I did it! I truly cannot thank Cindi and the birth assistants enough for helping me deliver Ellis James into the world!