We’re Pregnant!

This love

We're pregnant.  Yup, we waste no time here in the house Ellenberger-March and this family love is about to get bigger {though I can't imagine more love bursting from this heart, I know it will amaze me}

There really is no poetic way of dropping news such as this after saying nearly nothing for weeks on end now.  I am about 6 or 7 weeks along and due sometime in September.  We have our first midwife appointment next week.  Some big decisions have to be made about the birthing experience.  For anyone who cares, here is the tale of Poppy's birth.  I had planned for a beautiful and natural birth in the hospital with our midwife and what I got couldn't be further from that though Poppy is a dream come true.

Originally posted on March 11th, 2009:

Forgive me.  I have been absent from the internet of late, but with good reason.  Poppy has taken over our lives and we couldn't be happier.  I figured I should take this time to write about her birth, our dance.  Labour, just like many things in life, went nothing like the original plan, but It find it impossible to have regrets when I look down at this sweet sleeping face topped with fluffy fresh hair.

I began having mild crampy contractions on Wednesday afternoon/evening.  They felt like intense menstrual cramps that I could talk and walk through for the most part.  We timed one or two and found they were 15 minutes apart.  They continued through the night without much change.  Mike decided to stay home as I was going for the "stretch and sweep" with the midwife at 11:30 on Thursday and figured that would intensify things.

The visit to the midwife's office was pretty routine.  She found that I was 2 cm dilated and proceeded to do the stretch and sweep.  She then took my blood pressure, which hadn't been an issue at all throughout the pregnancy.  110 to 120 over 70 to 80 throughout.  That day though, it was 134 over 95.  This was not something she took lightly and let me relax for ten minutes then retook it.  Still high.  She sent us home, told me to rest and relax and she would drop by the house at 3:30 to recheck it.  By the time we arrived home, the contractions were much more intense and about 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute each.  When my blood pressure was checked again, we found it had risen even more.  We had to go to the hospital immediately and have an obstetrician check things out while monitoring the baby.  We grabbed our bags and in a matter of 25 minutes I was in my hospital gown hooked up to monitors.  The contractions continued to get stronger and were now about 2 to 3 minutes apart.

The obstetrician arrived fashionably late and, without small talk, proceeded to break my waters and discovered that the baby had taken her first poop in the womb and we would need to have a respiratory therapist at the birth to ensure she didn't aspirate fecal matter.  My blood pressure was continuing to climb and he told me that the only thing that would fix that was to have this baby as soon as possible.  To lower my blood pressure and risk of seizure he gave me a little blue pill and informed me that I would need an epidural.

After having my water broken, the contractions came crashing in on me and were coming about every minute.  I went from being in control and breathing through moderate contractions to writhing and cross eyed from the pain.  Just like that, I was out of my mind.  The epidural was a painless, welcome relief.  They continued to take my blood pressure every 30 minutes and I was comforted by the constant gallop of our baby's heart.  12 hours after being admitted, I was fully dilated and at 4 am  Friday morning I began to push.

I pushed, pooped, peed, and grunted for nearly 3 hours with very little progress.  She just wouldn't move and her heart rate went up into the 200's.  The nurse and midwife decided it was time to stop and call in the doctor again to either try forceps/vacuum or C-section.  As soon as they told me I couldn't push, I began to feel every contraction and felt frenzied with the pain and pressure.  I kept asking why I was still feeling it and why they weren't correcting it, but no one was listening or answering.  It was, after all, shift change time.

The doctor arrived and told me that due to the baby's hear rate and my blood pressure, a c-section was the safest option.  I didn't argue.  I was lost and out of control and had given up.  I felt frustrated with the lack of support I felt I received from my midwife.  I would open my eyes after pushing and everyone in the room just looked at me with expressionless faces.  I had to ask if I was pushing right.  I was, but no one told me so unless I asked.  Mike and Mom were the only ones encouraging me.  At one point it seemed like there were nurses in our room for their coffee break.  They sat chit-chatting with each other while I struggled.

The OR nurse, Marty, came in and introduced himself and he just happened to be a guy I went to school with.  He turned out to be the most positive and comforting professional I encountered.  He explained everything to me and to Mike and stopped what he was doing to hold my hand and talk me through the contractions I was still feeling.  I drank something sour that gave me instant hiccups.  I was rolled into the OR.  It was stark and bright and despite all of the people in the room, I felt scared and alone.  I remember wondering where the midwife was and caught a glimpse of her leaning against the wall.  Disconnected.

I was strapped to the table, exposed and shaved.  Not being able to move during the contractions was horrendous.  Finally I felt a cold liquid go into my back and the pain melted.  The blue sheet went up and Mike came in.  I felt every bit of pressure and some cold "zings".  Mike held my hand and refused to look over the blue sheet.  Then Marty told me there would be a lot of pressure and pulling as the baby came out.  I felt like I was going to be lifted right off the table.  One of the surgeons remarked "oh, its a girl" and then Marty announced  to us that it was a girl.  Mike and I cried and laughed and kissed, until I realized there was no cry.  Mike told me later that he was terrified as he watched  them pull long, thick strings from her mouth as she lay motionless and noiseless.  Finally her cry came and we cried again.  Marty came over and explained that she needed a little help with the oxygen to get started, but she was ok.

At this point the drugs had taken hold and I was totally stoned.  I remember a loud flat line beep you hear in movies and blanking out for a few moments.  Mike was calling my name, but I couldn't move or respond.  My tongue felt like lead and I couldn't even wiggle my big toe.

Poppy was taken to the nursery and I swear I told Mike to go with her, but he says I asked him to stay with me.  I don't remember him leaving.  I was then rolled to recovery where I slowly crept out of my stupor.  The nurses were rough while pulling bandages off and wiping away blood.  Every time I thought about Poppy, I fought back tears I needed to know she was ok and to hold her.  Other recovery patients rolled in and gurgled out of their own stupors.  After an endless hour I was rolled into my room to my baby and husband and began breastfeeding. 

And so began a new journey.

I was hooked up to IV pumping antibiotics pain meds into my veins and a catheter draining my bladder until Saturday morning when I begged the nurse to get clearance to unhook me.  I broke out in hives from the blood pressure cuff and adhesives used.  Every part of my body was swollen.  We didn't get discharged until Monday and was wakened every morning by a nurse taking my blood.  The nurses were all very kind and reassuring, but we were ready for home.

Pregnancy was not what I expected nor was labour, but motherhood and I feel like old friends.  I know nothing but warmth and contentment when I look at my wee little daughter.  Breastfeeding, though challenging, has come naturally for both of us and she has managed to pork up to 10 pounds 3 ounces as of one week ago when they only expected her to be back up to her birth weight of 8 pounds 12 ounces.   She hardly ever cries or fusses and always coos in her sleep.  She loves a bath and diaper change and we feel such pride for every bowel movement, burp and fart.  I have managed to magically lose 30 pounds and managed to squeeze into Mike's jeans today.  I look forward to wearing my own jeans again soon, but for now I am just  happy to wear denim without lycra.  

 I already feel time slipping by too quickly as days bleed into weeks and I wonder how I am going to find a way to stay home with her for good.


And so that was our "dance".  I can't help but feel a little robbed of the empowerment and feel a hot jealousy when I hear about other women's beautiful and uncomplicated experiences.  So now I am faced with the decision of going with a planned c-section and the guilt that goes along with that or trying for a VBAC with the possibility of a repeat of my first experience at an even higher risk if it were to end in an emergency c-section.  No one gave me an explanation as to why Poppy wouldn't descend and why my blood pressure flew up in the last moments.  I don't feel at peace with either of my options, but know I will have to find peace at some point over the next 9 months.

Ultimately, we are so excited and I must admit that my ovaries ached each and every time I read SouleMama's blog as I dream so often of a bustling home of lively and happy sprites.  We spend many nights and car rides discussing names and have decided that life is far too short for common names.

Last night as I tried to get Poppy to sleep, the soft sweet scent of lilacs lingered around me.  In the dead of winter and with the earth covered in an unforgiving blanket of snow and ice I couldn't deny the comforting smell with no known source.  Despite the frustrations of a baby girl who only fights sleep at bedtime; despite my fears of inadequacy as the mother of two that I soon will be; despite the vague queasy feeling I get when I think of squash soup {the first food aversion in this pregnancy}; and despite the decisions that have to be made, I went to sleep with the scent of lilacs on the still night air and it was lovely.



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  1. Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm by Jennifer | Permalink

    oh erin,
    i had no idea you had a c/s. i did too and i feel the same loss of empowerment that you do. i too hope that with our next (hopefully soon) baby we are able to have the natural birth we so desired. i know how it hurts your heart to have been put through that experience, i have nightmares and fears about having another and being put through that game all over again. i will pray that you get the birth you and your baby so deserve. hugs.

  2. Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm by Kelly | Permalink

    congratulations!! I’m in a similar boat with an August 1 due date.

  3. Posted January 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm by JoAnn | Permalink

    Congratulations!! I am so excited for you guys. :)

  4. Posted January 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm by jessica | Permalink

    Hurray! I’m thrilled for you and your family!

  5. Posted January 13, 2010 at 7:11 pm by heather | Permalink

    you look beautiful. congratulations!! and i knew this was happening. hehe. i can share a lot with you around your questions of vaginal birthing after csection birthing. i even started you a handwritten letter on just this topic a while ago after reading that post the first time. max was an emergency c section birthed baby. my two girls, have both been hospital born vbacs with no epidural. yay!!! it was scary for sure to make decisions with so many risks, and i trust you and your new sweet tiny baby completely. so, let’s talk for sure, friend. love, h

  6. Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:22 pm by michelle | Permalink

    Congrats on your pregnancy!
    loved your last paragraph above, poetic and profound
    well, love the whole post
    I, too, have the strapped to the table c-section, fully knocked out, my husband barred from the or and did not get to see my wee one for 2 days after his birth, i am always mad about my dreams of that birth being robbed….but a friend of mine had the same with her son, her first pregnancy and then had a successful VBAC with her daughter last year….it was the idyllic vaginal birth seeing her daughter with clear awake eyes…and now she is contemplating her 3rd……sooo hoping that gives you some ability to dream that perfect delivery dream again…and wishing your dreams come true!

  7. Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:50 pm by Desiree Fawn | Permalink

    Ah! Congrats! This is such wonderful news — best wishes!

  8. Posted January 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm by robina | Permalink


  9. Posted January 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm by mamaloves | Permalink

    Wow!! Congratulations:)

  10. Posted January 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm by Wendy | Permalink

    I hope you find peace with whatever decision you make about the birth…as I know I got really wrapped up in the decision making process pretty early with Carter’s pregnancy….It was not easy….but after loosing that “feeling of empowerment” and “sense of being in control of the situation” with Grace’s Birth ermergency C-Section….I regained every last bit of those awesome feelings with Carter’s Planned C-Section (that I decided on!!)….and not one regret do I have!!!

  11. Posted January 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm by kate | Permalink

    ICAN is an awesome organization that supports women who have had csections. There are yahoo groups local and national. It can be a great resource in working towards a vbac or processing issues of csection.
    I remember that decision as well, but I was already pretty strong on the vbac path. I had a home birth, it was successful, empowering, but not amazing or perfect – yet still incomparable to the hospital csection. I could not have done it in hospital setting at all.
    Have you read Birthing From Within (or they have classes as well). That could help in processing and working through fears, resolve.
    Best of luck – enjoy the pregnant days ahead!

  12. Posted January 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm by jennifer | Permalink

    how divine! congratulations.

  13. Posted January 14, 2010 at 9:37 am by Kirsten | Permalink

    Congratulation! I had a very very similar first birth (midwives, 40+ hours of labor, epidural, then more drugs to restart contractions, 2+ hours of pushing, then emergency c-section) and had to go through the same analysis and thought process the 2nd time. You obviously have to look at your own medical situation and desires, but thought I’d share mine. I did decide to go with a scheduled c-section (although, we’re talking about babies here, so of course she had her own timeframe…). I consulted both my beloved mid-wives and OBs – both of whom clearly would have supported a VBAC, but also said/warned, there was a reasonable chance I could end up having another similar birth. I think, for me, at the end of the day, I felt that in my case the risks of the VBAC for the baby (again, I had some reasonable understanding of what ‘went wrong’ in my own drawn out birth) were real and it was ME that wanted the VBAC, that I felt I had to prove something (similar feelings/longings at hearing others ‘beautiful’ ‘natural’ and/or home births). I guess at the end my concerns for my baby’s healthy delivery won out (though not easily and with some mixed feelings). However, I have to say, the birth was such a breeze (smiles, joking, laughing in the ER – by all!!) and I was in a 100% better mental and physical shape after – I was able to hold my baby immediately (messy and all, just as I imagined in a ‘natural’ birth) and stay together, breastfeeding, etc. – no delay. The recovery to mobility afterwards was much much easier as well – more days than weeks for me – not to mention the energy I had for TWO children. So, anyway, I don’t want suggest you shouldn’t do a VBAC, but to let you know that even if you do decide go down the planned c-section/doctor route, it is not all bad and you shouldn’t feel lesser because of it, there actually are some pluses. I wish you the best in your own journey.

  14. Posted January 14, 2010 at 10:10 am by Diane | Permalink

    Congratulations to you, Mike and Poppy.

  15. Posted January 14, 2010 at 10:15 am by Jamie | Permalink

    I am so excited for you! My first birth was a nightmare and my second was beautiful. I was able to have her at home and with no complications. I did do A LOT of work leading up to her birth. i read Ina Mays Guide to childbirth as well as Birthing From Within. Both are amazing books that help to process the first and get yourself ready for the next one to be different. It can happen! I too was scared of two children and how could I love that much! It wasn’t until I have both of them here that I realize there is MORE than enough love to go around.

  16. Posted January 14, 2010 at 11:16 am by Belinda | Permalink

    Congratualtions!!! I read your blog daily…although I have never commented. Your story struck a cord with me. I have 4 kiddos. My dd 10 was born in the hospital as a vaginal birth, ds 6 was my cesarean, dd’s 3 and 1 are my hbac’s. I currently lead the ICAN chapter in Ventura County, Ca. I encourage you to read as much information as you can and draw your threshold where you and Mike are comfortable. This is so different for everyone. I wish you a beautful preganancy and birth…

  17. Posted January 14, 2010 at 3:47 pm by Jen | Permalink


  18. Posted January 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm by deb | Permalink

    Congratulations to your little family! :)

  19. Posted January 16, 2010 at 2:25 am by Chelsea | Permalink

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story. I hope you have the birth of your dreams.

  20. Posted January 16, 2010 at 9:31 pm by Earthmama | Permalink

    And this will drive you to get the birth you dreamed you would have….that this time you will have. Congrats on choosing homebirth. I had three of my four at home…and you will make an amazing mother to two!!

  21. Posted January 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm by andy | Permalink

    blessings on your 2nd blissful bean – may he/she grow to beautiful heights and lengths within you!
    so… i read, your birth story – and like others before me, i have to encourage you to do a lot of legwork… lots of reading and if you have the chance – you should enroll in a birth class – birthing from within or birthworks are my recommendations.
    i am coming from a hosptial birth (my 1st baby), a homebirth (2nd babe), and a free (unassisted), home, waterbirth for my 3rd… and – I have to say – that I would not advise any pregnant mama (without complications) step foot into a hospital to birth a baby – ever. However, I do raise an eyebrow to start with your last midwife visit and why the need to intervene at that time? Especially when you were contracting beautifully and this was your first time birthing??? Any midwife who suggests early intervention should be questioned. My first was a three day labor – before he even decided to descend.
    Know this – your body has been paved – and your second and any births thereafter tend to be shorter – albeit, labor is labor.
    SO, I will give you my three epiphanies while I was birthing my third – with only my husband and two girlfriends in the “birthing chamber” as I refer to my master bathroom now…
    1. There is no other option. You are going to birth your baby.
    2. This ceases to be about you. You are a vehicle for your little one. This is the start of his/her journey. Don’t forget to feel his/her journey through you – you are the door.
    3. Birth is inevitable. No one needs to tell you to push. Or how long to push. Or how to push. When you surrender your body to birth – your body knows what to do. You are a mammal – go back to being a mammal.
    This is a good website – this is my story, but if you go to the “birth” tab, you can read and view amazing videos. I also watched, on youtube, a lot of births – if you search “freebirth” “unassisted birth” or “homebirth” … some are truly inspiring.
    and, by the way, we didn’t plan an unassisted birth… my midwife just never answered the pager.
    and, in the end – I wouldn’t have it any other way! It was the best birth of all three.
    I hope this info. helps. I truly do – the best birth is the one you are most comfortable with.
    The decision is there – you can do it.
    lots of thoughts with you,

  22. Posted January 17, 2010 at 11:45 am by mary | Permalink

    hi. i’ve read your blog for some time now, and was surprised today when i logged in to see that we are both pregnant – and due around the same time (sept 1st for me). congratulations! and i hear you on the nausea – squash soup sounds nothing but horrible.
    i’m a midwife in training, so believe me when i say i understand the weight of the thoughts you’re working through regarding your birth experience in the past and pondering what the future will bring. i’m not a completely “normal” pregnant woman – some mild but real health issues – and i long for the normal, natural birth. but i recognize that sometimes life has other plans. either way, i love reading about the way that you feel that motherhood is an old friend. i’m hoping i’ll feel the same way.
    with a hug.

  23. Posted January 17, 2010 at 7:28 pm by Alison | Permalink

    I found your blog completely by accident just now, doing a totally unrelated Google image search. Had to click as I have a Poppy too – albeit a 13 year old one. Doesn’t seem so long ago she was a baby though. And we now home educate, as I see you hope to.
    Anyway, I wish you all the best with your pregnancy and your birthing plans.

  24. Posted January 29, 2010 at 11:59 am by gennysent | Permalink

    Erin, I had a similar experience, although not quite as harrowing, I think, and I think that after watching “The Business of Birth” I feel like my first mistake was letting them break my water. I think you have to TRUST that your body absolutely knows what it is doing, and the water will break when ready. Just so you know, my sister and a good friend both had VBAC’s very successfully with their second child. I think your body knows what’s going on. If I were going to have a second child, I’d opt for a VBAC (even though I know it scares my hubby). We are women and our bodies know what is happening. We just have to get our brains and the media out of the way!!

  25. Posted February 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm by Carole | Permalink

    Dear Erin,
    I have had two c-sections and thought I’d share a bit. I was in labor for 23 hours with my son without fully dilating (I should mention I was induced due to breakdown of my placentia), and so got the c-section. In a later exam, I was told I had a narrow pelvis(wouldn’t guess it by looking at me!), and I am in amazement by more petite women I know who seem to have the easiest birthing stories ever! Anyway, I was so drugged up and exhausted after the labor and first c-section, and the recovery was very difficult for me. I didn’t want a repeat performance of that experienc (esp. now knowing about my narrow pelvis), and so scheduled a c-section for the birth of my daughter. It was night and day. I was alert at her birth, she and I bonded well and she breastfeed better than my son had (although I’ve read c-section babies tend to have a harder time breastfeeding, for some reason, my daughter was the opposite). My recovery was a few days, rather than weeks, with little discomfort. I cherished those few days in the hospital with Norah rather than reeling with exhaustion.
    Although part of me would have liked to share with other women the vaginal birth experience, in the long run, I am just so glad to have healthy children. I survived colon cancer a year ago, and getting to spend more days enjoying them puts how they arrived in perspective for me. Adam and Norah are now 5 and 3, and parenting really has gotten easier and even more enjoyable as they entered the toddler years.
    Blessings to you as you make your decision.
    ~ Carole

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