Baby Ella’s Birth Story!

YEP–she’s here!  Our newest addition, Ella Jean Lee, arrived on Sunday, April 8th at 9:59am!

On Thursday, April 5th, I was 38 weeks pregnant and found out at my OBGYN appointment that the baby had dropped and that I was 3cm dilated.  I was still prepared for Ella to be either early or late since I was 4cm dilated with Addie for a few weeks and she was still 4 days late.  Yet, while I was in no rush for Ella to come, I was trying to knock out some important to-do’s just in case she was early–like having a taco party!  😀

maternity style: striped tee + leggings + white sneakers

On Friday, April 6th I posted this pic on Facebook and Instastories with a 38-week pregnancy update.  I mentioned on social media and in the PMT Emails how Benson and I were having a joint birthday party on April 7th that involved catering a taco truck/stand in our newly landscaped backyard.   (Benson’s birthday is at the beginning of April and mine is at the end of April, after the baby’s due date.  I wanted to celebrate my birthday before the baby came–before I would be in the postpartum haze!)  I wrote on Facebook:

I’m in no rush, and I’m especially trying to not go into labor before this Saturday. Benson and I are throwing a joint birthday party in our backyard that includes a taco truck/stand and Nothing Bundt Cakes, and I don’t wanna miss it! Tacos > Babies. #firstthingsfirst 

Any guesses on if this baby’s coming early or late? My due date is April 19th!

On Saturday, April 7th, we made it though the taco party!  YASSSSSS!  It was sooo awesome to celebrate and host a bunch of people in our backyard–plus eat tacos.  If you haven’t had a Tijuana street taco, you’re missing out on life!

Tacos, or Contractions?
That night, we went to bed.  Addie woke us up at 3:30am from a nightmare.  We put her back to bed.  Benson and Addie fell asleep immediately, but I was pretty awake, so I zoned out on my phone until about 3:50am.  That’s when I started feeling stomach cramps.  My first thought was, “Is this the tacos?!”  But then I noticed my uterus was hardening and realized I was having contractions!

I laid in bed timing the contractions, which were 5-6 minutes apart and almost a minute long, right off the bat.  My next question was whether they would last or go away.  I was sort of in disbelief.  I laid in bed like that for over an hour until 5:15a, and the contractions grew closer together and longer.  By 5:40a they were 2-4 minutes apart and about 1:15m long.  I finally called my friend/doula to come over and woke up Benson at 5:50a.

Here We Go!
Benson called a few friends to take Addie for the day, laid out her “Yay, your baby sister is coming!” present (kid nail polish that she’d been waiting and waiting and waiting to open until her baby sister came + snacks), and helped me pack up last minute things while we waited for our doula.  My contractions had progressed so much that they were only a couple minutes apart and pretty painful, so it was harder to get everything ready than I’d anticipated.  (With Addie, I labored at home for 7 hours before going to the hospital.  I was prepared for this second baby to come faster than the first, but I didn’t think it’d progress THAT fast!)

Finally, our doula arrived at 6:45a, and while we had discussed on the phone possibly laboring more at home, when she arrived I immediately said, “I want to go straight to the hospital.”  The plan was always for our doula to take me in her car and for Benson to come in a separate car.  So, we left while Benson stayed back to orient our friend(s) who would take care of Addie when she woke up (she was still sleeping at this point–unusual for her but it made things easier) and clean up leftovers from our taco party that we were too tired to clean up the night before.  Yikes!

From Triage to the Labor & Delivery Room
We arrived at the hospital at 7am, and at triage I was 6.5cm dilated.  I wanted to make it to 7-8cm dilated before getting an epidural.  I was reallyyyyy closet and just wanted to out of the uncomfortable triage bed and into the labor and delivery room!  I finally made it out of triage and into my room at 7:45a, which is also when Benson arrived.  The doctor came right when I got to my room, and I asked her to check me immediately because I didn’t want to miss the window for the epidural!  In the time it took me to get from triage to the L&D room, I had gotten to 8cm, so they bumped me to the front of the line for an epidural, and after about 20 min the anesthesiologist arrived.  Ahhhh, sweet bliss.

I don’t really remember the timing after this, but around 8:30a/8:45a or so, I told the nurses I felt a lot of pressure. I knew I was at a 10 and ready to push.  However, I had to wait because the doctor was about to go into surgery.  They said she’d be out in 30 min, but it ended up being almost an hour (which I had braced myself for).  I was shivering a lot at that point since my body was ready to push and I was having to hold it off.

Finally, the doctor arrived.  Once she checked me, she told a nurse to prep me because Ella’s head was “right there” and she would come out the second I started pushing.  That’s basically what happened!  I pushed about 5-6 or times (soooo different than the 2.5 hours of pushing with Addie) and Ella slid right out at 9:59am weighing 6lbs 4oz.

She was 11 days early, and I was only in labor for about 6 hours.  It was so fast, unexpected, and therefore kind of surreal.  It took us a while to emotionally catch up to what had just happened!  Also, because labor and delivery was so quick, I felt very strangely normal afterwards.  (With Addie, I felt sooo out of it after a long labor, but Ella’s birth was the opposite.)  I had tons of energy, wasn’t sweating or tired except for having woken up at 3:30am, and was fairly mobile once the epidural had worn off and the nurses cleared me to move around.

Ella Jean Lee
“Ella” can mean a lot of things, but the one we were drawn to was as a variant of “Ellen,” which means “shining light.”  Our hope is that she shines God’s light for the people and world around her.

“Jean” means “gift from God” or “God is gracious.” We tried to get pregnant with her for almost a year. We experienced ups and downs every month we faced disappointment. One month during prayer with friends, I realized how much I was striving to make it happen. I thought I had to do, say, think, or pray the right things to somehow earn this gift from God. Once I recognized it, I let it go as best as I could as God spoke truth to me that we earn nothing, rather he is gracious and loves to give good gifts. We got pregnant the next month! This baby and her middle name is a reminder to not strive in life—for anything—and that we never have to be “good enough” or do the “right thing” enough, rather God’s grace is exactly that—grace. Unearned, unwarranted, often underserved, yet given freely. ?

We are really grateful for this gift of life!

How We’re Doing Now
Things are going smoothly so far.  I’m really grateful for how well I’m doing physically compared to when I had Addie.  I feel relatively normal besides a little sore sometimes and more reliant on caffeine than usual.  I’m able to be present with my family instead of completely out of it.  I can give some attention to Addie which has helped her transition a bit better.  That said, I’m still trying to take it easy and not overexert myself.

Addie is totally excited about Ella, eager to help care for her, and sooo happy to now have a backseat buddy in the car!

Thank you for your well wishes and prayers!

Item Sources:
hedgehog swaddle  |  pink swaddle  |  triangle crib sheet  |  Ella’s bow
Addie’s purple dress  |  my earrings (size M)

photos by @lovesoflife

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