The birth of Elijah Zion was nothing short of phenomenal simply because it forced me triumphantly to face everything that I was hoping to avoid. Despite the events, this birth was somehow very empowering, and I am not the same woman I was before. My husband Robert and I had originally planned a natural home birth. Although I experienced an awesome pregnancy free of morning sickness, and was even taking dance classes up until 8 1/2 months pregnant, Elijah and I had a few things to work through before he entered the world.
At 35 weeks pregnant there was concern about Elijah’s position in the womb.
He had been “spinning” in the womb and laying transverse (sideways). At this point I started doing inversion poses daily for optimum fetal positioning. I also visited Dr. Elliot Berlin, an incredible prenatal chiropractor based upon my midwife Allegra Hill’s request. At 36 weeks Allegra suggested getting a sonogram for position confirmation since she was sure the baby was still breech. Allegra was also concerned about the size of Elijah.
Robert and I chose to go to California Hospital Medical Center (CHMC) to specifically visit Dr. Emiliano Chavira, one of Dr. Berlin’s colleagues based on his suggestion. Dr. Chavira was one of the doctors at California Hospital Medical Center who did a procedure called an external version to move a baby to the head down position. He also delivered breech vaginal births.
In most hospitals today a breech baby is a guaranteed cesarean for the mother.
Because Elijah waited until the last moment to choose a position, having an option for as natural a birth as possible became the new focus over a home birth. Allegra guided us moment by moment in taking the next steps in our birthing plan. She continued providing excellent advice based on each medical discovery as well as being an incredible liaison between us and the medical staff. At 36 weeks, which was Christmas Eve, Elijah was confirmed breech and at 37 weeks, New Years Eve, I had a scheduled external version with Dr. Chavira. Robert and I spent our holidays in and out of hospitals.
On the evening of the external version, Dr. Chavira shared the most empowering statement which shaped the rest of my time in and out of the hospital. I had received an IV port prior to the external version, which I was not enjoying. Dr. Chavira told me that I had the right to refuse any hospital treatment offered to me. The IV port was simply a hospital protocol, but was not 100% necessary for the procedure.
This statement alone empowered me to use my intuition to navigate what may or may not be necessary for my own care and my son’s from this point on. I received in writing every procedure or treatment that I was opting out of because verbal statements were not enough.
Elijah and I had a successful external version with Dr. Chavira, yet talk of induction that evening was now in the air because of the possibility of Elijah’s growth restrictions. During the procedure which entailed extensive sonograms, Elijah was confirmed smaller than the average gestational size for his age. I honestly feel his smaller size is what allowed us to have a successful external version, but now new concerns were added to our already full plate. I bought myself some time discussing natural induction with Dr. Berlin and his holistic team.
I continued with Neonatal Stress Tests (NST) the evening of the external version to ensure Elijah was remaining healthy after the procedure. Later that week during another NST at 8am there were red flags present because of low amniotic fluid and not enough fetal activity. Although I had appointments for a natural induction at Berlin Wellness Group that day, the hospital would not release me and kept monitoring Elijah and me.
Hospital induction was now necessary, and I would be meeting Elijah much sooner than I thought.
To add to our “fun”, I was unable to fully change over our insurance to California Hospital Medical Center during the holidays, and although it was in our provider it was not a part of our medical group. However, a local hospital closer to our home that was part of our home birth back-up plan was. If it was necessary for me to have a cesarean, we needed full insurance coverage. We left CHMC against medical advice promising the medical team we would drive straight to our local back-up hospital.
I’d already been at CHMC all day until 5:30 pm, and now we were headed to the next hospital in evening traffic. Upon our admittance we met the nurse in maternity and OB. The doctor was efficient with a “unique” bedside manner. During my internal check, he decided to manually efface and partially open my cervix without warning. Painful! That evening I started induction with Cervadil at 11 pm which “ripens” and begins dilation of the cervix over the next 12 hours.
By 11 am I was put on Pitocin to begin contractions. During early labor I did prayers and meditations nonstop. It was in these quiet moments that I gained much needed peace for what was to come.
During the day not much progress was made, yet I did everything I could to remain faithful.
Allegra arrived at the hospital and around 6 pm the OB checked in with us before heading to another local hospital for another birth. He also made it very clear that he would perform a cesarean if the baby was even the slightest bit distressed during labor. I asked the OB to give me a double uterine suture if a cesarean was necessary to which he agreed. (Single sutures can possibly rupture causing unnecessary health problems.)
To significantly improve my labor’s progress, the OB manually broke my water which was also painful. After my water was broken I was unable to leave the bed even to use the bathroom and was given an internal fetal monitor to add to the other “fancy machinery”.
Once the OB left the hospital for his other delivery, I knew I needed to get this baby out before his return.
After my water bag was broken active labor began. I used every tool I learned from birthing class and the books I read to ride the waves of contractions. Unfortunately I was laying on my side hooked up to monitors and unable to move in any way that my body was asking. To my benefit though I was able to completely relax between each contraction.
Because Allegra had been with us at each hospital appointment and had met the hospital staff, we were pretty much left alone to move through active labor with only a few notes from the nurses to aid the process.
Allegra noted that if I took slow deep breaths through each contraction there was little to no stress on Elijah because he was receiving more oxygen. As long as I was breathing deeply, his heart rate did not drop. Robert breathed with me through each contraction to keep my timing slow and steady. Allegra coached us through, massaged my hips, back and ankles and held calming essential oils to my nose to breath in. Before I knew it in I had completely surpassed transition, and Elijah had moved down my birth canal in only 3 1/2 hours. By this point my body wouldn’t let me ignore it any longer, and I had to move on my knees to all fours.
I literally had to hold Elijah inside while the doctor and other medical staff rushed in the room to set up for the actual delivery. Of course being on all fours is not an acceptable medical position for birth despite the thousands of years women may have birthed this way. The doctor ordered me to turn on my back and put my feet up in stirrups.
Elijah was born healthy and beautiful, yet smaller than expected at 4 lbs and 9 oz.
Elijah and I had worked together to get him head down, and we had worked together to have the most natural birth possible under the conditions. I did experience 2nd degree tears, but it was all worth it. On a side note, The OB even attempted to give me a catheter without my consent after stitching me up which Allegra caught and prevented.
The joy of a successful birth lasted for three days.
We had left the hospital after two days and Elijah had already lost 6% of his body weight. A 10% weight loss is acceptable with newborns before your full milk supply comes in, and while colostrum is the baby’s main superfood. When Allegra came to the house for our two day check up, Elijah had lost 13% of his body weight. My milk supply had come in too late for him under his condition. He was dehydrated and too weak to suckle. That evening we went back to the hospital and readmitted him. Robert and I stayed at the hospital for five nights and six days while Elijah was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
I would have to say that this was the most stressful time in my ENTIRE life. I only left the hospital once to go home and shower, but that was all I could bear.
Thank God my parents were in town. They took care of our dog and were my rock during this time. My mother came by with prayer, positive affirmations, flower essences to calm my nerves, and fresh pressed veggie juices. I honestly don’t believe I could have made it through this without my husband and my parents. By the end of the week we were sent home.
Having your newborn in NICU is unnerving. It tests your faith like no other experience can to have your little one hooked up to monitors with an IV. His cry had been so dry and hoarse when we went to the ER before he was admitted. It is so nice that it has so much vigor now even though I prefer him not to be crying at all.
Although I have had little sleep caring for this angel, I feel so blessed that he has been gaining weight rapidly, is no longer is hooked up to machines nor having tests run on him constantly. I have full compassion for all parents whose children are in NICU even if only for a day. At six weeks Elijah was 7 lbs 2 oz from breastfeeding exclusively. Our pediatrician has been extremely pleased with his health and progress.
One thing is for sure though, despite how crazy this story may be, Robert, Elijah and I were in the hands of angels physically and energetically the entire time.
Some earth angels showed up as doctors, nurses, my midwife, my parents, and even children running around outside of NICU to keep my spirits light. There was nothing more loving and supportive than having my parents by my side to hold me up when I was about to lose it. Each time I pulled myself together so I could make the best decision possible for Elijah. I have no idea exactly why my healthy pregnancy needed extra “spice” in the end, but this little boy is truly AMAZING.
I am beyond honored to be his mother, and even more impressed with him every day.
Reading other women’s birth stories truly helped my journey which is why I am sharing mine with you today. It is said that we research buying a new car more than birth, and I feel that needs to change. I would not have had the tools needed to get through an intense hospital birth if I had not done my own research and had the help of my caring midwife, Allegra Hill. She was the life line of my pregnancy, birth, and postpartum care.
There are so many interventions that happen in hospitals. Some are needed, yet it truly helps to know which aren’t.
Peace and Love!
(Image by my hubby)