Meeting Eleanor

IMG_8877We are so happy to announce that Eleanor (Ella) Agatha was born on March 17 at 4:30 p.m.! She weighed 7 lbs 11 oz and was 20.5″ tall. She is such a doll and we are so thrilled to have her join our little family ❤

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile but have been enjoying my family time so much I didn’t have time to finish it until now. And so, without further ado, here is Eleanor’s birth story along with a quick update on how things have been going (bear with me, this is a long one!).

IMG_8855We arrived at the hospital bright and early at 6:00 a.m. and I promptly got changed into my lovely hospital gown. We setup some soothing music and got settled into our room.

Around 7:00 a.m., one of the nurses came in to get an IV started. As I have mentioned before, I was more nervous about the IV than I was about actual labor, so my sister-in-law (who is also a L&D nurses at the hospital) picked out the nurse with the best IV track record for me. Apparently it doesn’t matter WHO places my IVs, because she missed twice. I hoped this was not how the rest of the day was going to go… Luckily, the nurse grabbed the anesthesiologist for try #3 and he got it in on his first attempt.

By then my doctor had just been waiting around in the hall for about 30 minutes waiting for the IV to be placed, so she came straight in to break my water. She did this when I was in labor with Henry and I didn’t feel anything at all (except like I peed my pants), so I felt prepared. Turns out, baby Ella’s head was pressed up so tightly against my cervix that my doctor could not snag the bag of waters at all after several minutes of trying (which, by the way, was super uncomfortable for me). She decided to try again later so the baby could have some time to move out of the way.

By then it was 8:00 a.m., and Becky, the same nurse we had when Henry was born, started pitocin in my IV. She started it at a very low level and then gradually turned it up over the course of the next few hours. Even though Becky assured me I was contracting, I couldn’t feel anything, so I took a brief nap until about 10:30 a.m. When the pitocin level was up to 30 I started to feel tiny contractions, so I started doing my hypnobirth breathing. This is basically breathing to help you relax your entire body and put yourself into a meditative state, then breathing another way during a contraction so you “help” your body with the contractions rather than fighting against them, which was great.

IMG_8850My doctor came back around 11:45 a.m. and was able to break my water. At this point I was 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. Labor went pretty slowly and steadily after that, and the breathing techniques were extremely helpful to get through each of the contractions. Three hours later I was only one more centimeter dilated, and I was starting to get a little discouraged. I know that most births take several hours, but Henry’s birth was so fast that I had counted on Ella’s being the same way and it seemed to be dragging on – I just wanted her to be born!

As soon as I started feeling that way, my body seemed to know to pick up the pace and I moved into the next stage of labor, which for me starts with a whole bunch of puking. The puking completely threw my concentration and took me out of my relaxed, meditative state, and then the contractions became extremely painful. They were so intense that I couldn’t get myself fully relaxed again, so I asked for an epidural around 3:30 p.m. Of course I had planned to NOT have an epidural, so both Geoff and the nurse kept asking me if I was really, really sure I wanted one (two contractions worth of asking me, to be exact), until I told them that YES, I REALLY WANTED ONE GIVE ME ONE RIGHT NOW.

It took a few minutes for the anesthesiologist to come into the room (this is the same guy who was my hero with the IV earlier in the day), and by then the contractions were extremely intense. He must have used up all of his luckiness on my IV though, because he took TWENTY MINUTES to get the epidural in (though it felt like FOREVERRR). He kept placing it just a bit off of center so he had to try three times to get it in. After the first two tries, I started actually feeling my body start to push, so I started yelling at the guy to HURRY UP because the baby was literally coming out and I was sitting on the edge of the bed so there was nowhere for her to go.

The nurse called the doctor right away and actually turned off my pitocin to slow my labor down so the doctor would have time to arrive for the birth. The anesthesiologist finally got my epidural in place, and I went straight into “breathing my baby down,” which is the hypnobirth version of pushing. The lack of pitocin meant that my contractions slowed to about 4-5 minutes apart, which gave the epidural some time to kick in a little bit, but not all the way, and I was able to feel Ella moving down the birth canal (seriously one of the coolest things ever). I used the breathing techniques I had learned to “breathe” her out, rather than holding my breath and pushing like I did with Henry. It was very peaceful, quiet and calm. Once her head and shoulders were out, I was able to actually reach down and receive baby as she was born (another one of the coolest things I’ve ever done). And then it was over and Eleanor Agatha was born at 4:30 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. She was 7 lbs 11 oz, and 20.5 inches long.

I can honestly say that getting the epidural was a huge relief, but that I would definitely do hypnobirthing again if we have another baby. If I had known it would only have been another twenty minutes after I got the epidural then I probably would’ve stuck it out through the end. Plus, our nurse said that it probably would’ve only been five minutes (or less) if she hadn’t turned off the pitocin to slow my labor down. I could definitely have handled five more minutes.

IMG_8873After Ella was born I put her right only my chest, but she wasn’t crying or turning pink, so the nurses took her over to the warmer to clear her airways and give her some oxygen through a tiny little oxygen mask. It was scary, but once she pinked up and started crying a little she was able to come back over to me. The nurses put her on my belly, and I watched as Ella actually crawled up and started nursing! I was really nervous about breastfeeding after what we went through with Henry, but she latched on right away and seemed to know what to do instinctively.

The rest of our hospital stay went smoothly – lots of visitors, lots of feeding/changing Ella. My favorite moment was when Henry came in to meet his little sister. He knew immediately who she was and was very excited that Ella brought him some cool trains to play with. He kept track of where she was the entire time he was there, and if he couldn’t see her at all times he quickly asked where she was until she was within eyesight again.

In the first week of her life, Ella became jaundiced just like Henry had. She never got to the point of needing a special light because we made the decision to give her formula in addition to breastfeeding. Her bilirubin levels dropped from 18.5 to 8.2 over one weekend, so I know we made the right choice. We have since established a routine of nursing every morning and every evening, but using formula the rest of the time. This way Ella gets the benefits of breastmilk, but I don’t feel the extreme pressure to provide for her the way I did last time because I know she is getting enough to eat.

Other than that little hiccup, we are doing great! Henry has transitioned very well to having a sibling around all the time, and he is able to let us know when he would like our full attention (“put Ella in her crib now, Mommy”). He is absolutely adorable with her, and he makes sure she is okay if she starts to fuss, gives her kisses and tells her “love you bye!” when he leaves for daycare in the morning, and even shows us her “tiny fingers” and “tiny nose” when he wants to show her off. He reminds us to hold her head and her butt, to rock her and to sing her rockabye baby if she is sad. It makes my heart melt!

Ella is one month old today, and I can’t believe how fast time has flown. She is already starting to outgrow her newborn clothes!! She has been eating and pooping like a champ, and usually only gets up twice during the night (mom and dad are very grateful).

Last but not least, here are the photos and videos of Henry and Ella over the past two months. I’m hoping to continue with my monthly updates, but I’m not making any promises because I want to spend as much time as I can with my kiddos before I go back to work in June.



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