Feb 03

the birth of elijah cash and the bouncy purple ball: a dad’s story

Posted by matt on Feb 03 2011 at 05:26 pm

Elijah is here! And he came in a hurry too. Here are the quick facts:

  • Born: Wednesday, January 26th at 12:39am
  • Weight: 6lbs 6oz
  • Length: 19 inches

Now here’s the story of how he came about… well, from the father’s perspective. I’ll let Steph give her version of the events on her own.

So it’s Tuesday, the 25th. We had an appointment with our midwife late that afternoon and she told us that things were continuing to progress -  3 centimeters dilated according to her, if you are concerned about those sorts of things. But Steph had been “progressing” since Christmas, so I didn’t take too much stock in that since due date was still a week away.

7:00pm That evening when I got home I made dinner for Steph (who was having some minor contractions). We didn’t think too much of it though as she had been having weekly episodes of contractions through most of January. So dinner was served, and we sat down to watch the State Of The Union address. In hindsight, that may have been what sent things over the edge.

9:30pm I start cleaning up the kitchen, and now it’s obvious that things are, um, developing. We had purchased a big purple fitness ball for Steph to help her through the labor process. I’m still not entirely sure on the intended purpose for the ball. Steph took to bouncing up and down on the thing for a good 25 minutes like an amusement park ride. I thought this looked like fun – she assures me it was to help manage pain. That being what it may, I do the dishes, and Steph bounces. Contractions are 7 minutes apart.

10:15pm Bouncing has run it’s course. I suggest a warm bath. I’ve heard a bath can be relaxing, and Steph’s just finished a half hour Tae Bo workout on her fitness ball, so it seems appropriate. I warm up the water and pour some bubbly stuff into it. Now in the back of my mind I’m thinking, you know, this could really turn into something here… it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if I start collecting our things and moving our bags towards the door. And so I do this. Contractions are 5 minutes apart.

10:45pm The bath seems to have taken things to a new level, and Steph has moved into intense pain. “I think maybe I should call the midwife,” she says. And so we call the midwife, on speakerphone, while bouncing on a giant purple ball. The midwife, basing her assumption on the fact that Steph can talk through pain really well, suggests that the contractions are probably a result of her exam earlier that day, that two Tylenol will probably stem off the pain, and that we should call her again in an hour or two.  Ok. Hmm. She takes the Tylenol and blow dries her hair. Contractions are 3 minutes apart.

11:15pm Nope, Tylenol isn’t helping. Now I will stop making light. There is no more bouncing purple ball to remedy what’s going on here. These are full fledged contractions and Steph is in severe pain. I tell her, “forget an hour or two – you’re calling the midwife back”. I start running around the house like a manic trying to gather all of the stuff we need to go have a baby. Now, this process takes a little while, and between managing contractions, loading up the car, feeding the cats, and trying to think rationally about all that we’re doing, it’s about 11:45 before we hit the road. Contractions are 2 minutes apart.

11:50pm We’re sitting at a red traffic light and I’m seriously considering whether or not I’m going to break traffic laws. In truth, neither one of us knew at this point just how close we were to having a baby. Steph has never had a child before, and the only reference point I had was a video we watched in birthing class a few weeks ago at a local hospital where the couple casually made their way the hospital in preparation for an all-night labor session. In fact nearly all of our friends of late experienced labors of 10+ hours, so we both figured we’ve got a full night of this joyousness ahead of us. But as we race to the hospital in the middle of the night, in the snow, and ice, contractions are beginning to pile on top of themselves. People asked us later when Steph went though “transition” – that excruciating period of time where the woman’s body transitions though the final part of active labor and dilates to the full 10 centimeters. Best we can tell, transition happened somewhere around mile marker 80 at the intersection of I-440 and 65. Awesome. Contractions are indiscriminately falling upon one another in rapid-fire succession like Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks in Delta Force.

12:10am Suffice to say that when we make it to Vanderbilt Medical we were crossing into panic territory. We screeched up to the Emergency Room door and I start throwing stuff out of the car. Security pulls out a wheelchair for Steph and she hops on to be carted inside. I come trailing after her with my own wheelchair piled high with luggage and a deflated purple fitness ball tucked under my arm. Steph is at the check-in desk where a young guy, probably early 20′s and obviously working a night-shift college job, is trying to get her to sign a bunch of legal documents in between contractions. As she is about to sign her last signature she looks up and says, “I feel like I’ve got to push”. And with eyes wide in the most direct, yet terrified, voice I have ever heard, the check-in guy replies, “Please don’t do that here.”

12:15am Finally a girl wearing scrubs and rubber gloves arrives and I breathe a sigh of relief, convinced that it won’t be my responsibility to deliver this baby in the middle of the Emergency Room floor. Still, we have to get to Labor & Delivery, which is four floors above us and in a different wing of the hospital. Scrubs girl pushes Steph and I follow along pushing all our luggage down a long corridor. Now, the wheelchairs we’re using come standard with an Alcatraz-style trick-brake that must be depressed at all times while moving, otherwise gears engage, wheels grind to a halt, and all that you’re hauling goes flying off the chair in front of you carried along by Newton’s first law of motion. And chasing a half deflated purple fitness ball down a hospital hall is not something I need right now. Steph meanwhile is having her own fight with her wheelchair. In an effort to keep the baby IN she has taken to attacking the armrests of her chair by clawing into them with all the terror of an enraged wildebeest (… a very pretty, beautiful happy wildebeest, dear).

12:20am Scrubs girl finally gets us up to Labor & Delivery where the nurses there have a 30 second argument about whether or not Steph should go to Triage (where they look you over with a critical eye and tell you how much you’re not in labor), or if she should go directly to a Delivery Room. They steal a glance at the mauled remains of her wheelchair armrest, and the Delivery Room option wins out.

12:25am We’re in the room, finally, and I’m feeling pretty good because things are starting to happen around us at lightning pace. Steph is in dire agony, however, and I try to keep her focused by going through our rehearsed Breathing Cosby’s routine for the 70th time. An army of nurses appear gowned up in blue Smurf’s uniforms and the room comes to life with military-like precision. Bags are being opened, lights are being moved, monitors are being hooked up, and all of a sudden we are well on our way to having a baby. The midwife races in, she herself having just driven through the cold and ice to get to the hospital in the middle of the night. With her in the room now she helps Steph move onto the table. Does a quick exam and determines that, yes, she’s at a full 10 centimeters and the baby is coming on fast.

12:30am One of my goals through the entire birth planning process was to help the midwife catch the baby when he came out, so the Smurf’s help me get my uniform and gloves on as well. Meanwhile I’m shouting encouragement to Steph over my shoulder as she braces to start the pushing process. Gowned up I assume my place next to the midwife, and Steph starts pushing right around 12:30. Time moves fast. But the midwife was calm and collected and helped Steph time her pushes in sets of three during the contractions. After our midwife breaks the amniotic fluid bag I could finally see Elijah’s little wrinkly head starting to push his way out! I told Steph I could see him and I think this gave us a new burst of energy. It was only a few minutes later and a beautiful Elijah Cash was born at 12:39am! As he come out the midwife delivers his head and shoulders and I grab his back and rump and walk him up to meet Steph, and the Burns family becomes three!

EPILOGUE Looking back it’s crazy to think how close we were to giving birth in a car along the interstate somewhere – literally one red light more and we may have had a different story. The details can only be attributed to God’s providential timing for everything that happened Tuesday night. I was supposed to be at a work dinner until 10:30 Tuesday evening, but decided at the last minute to skip it and come home instead. The roads got pretty icy later that night, and I’m thankful we made the drive in when we did. Early on we decided we wanted to attempt a natural childbirth – sans epidural drugs – but even that could have been thrown off if we had decided to go to the hospital earlier! We’re not necessarily evangelistic about natural childbirth – we respect every couple’s right to make their own decisions about such things – and we were open to the possibility of epidural drugs if the pain became too much to bear. Based on the stories I’ve heard, nearly every woman who goes through with natural childbirth screams out for an epidural at some point in time during labor. But Steph yelled out for hers while sitting in the front seat of a Mitsubishi Galant, and there’s not much I could do for her except coach her to breath through the pain. Had we been in the hospital, she probably would have taken the drugs.

Steph is a rock-star. She labored through 95% of the birthing process at home and in the car, and quite literally walked into the hospital and had a baby 10 minutes later. Huge props to her – I’m so proud of her! And we’re just so happy to be at home now with our healthy newborn son, spending time getting to know him, and thankful for all God has blessed us with.

ElijahCash Burns - 1 Week Old

7 Responses to “the birth of elijah cash and the bouncy purple ball: a dad’s story”

  1. Meg says:

    Okay, first of all, I can not believe that I’m the first person to write a comment about this amazing birth story…

    Secondly, Steph IS A ROCK STAR!!!! Amazing!! If we ever have kids, I’m getting an epidural at the beginning of my third trimester and it’s not coming out until my child is able to write their A-B-Cs.

    Thirdly, great job Matt!! Way to stay strong, catch the baby, and not pass out in the process.

    And lastly, Eli, we’re so glad you’re here!! We love you!!!

  2. Lori Stoltz says:

    Yes, my daughter is a rock star. I have known this about her since she was just a baby. What a fun story, especially envisioning Steph on the bouncing ball. That is classic Steph. You are also a rock star, Matt, for being so calm and patient with getting Stephanie through the labor process, which is not an enviable task. :)

    You will both be great parents and I am sure that you will telling Eli his story for the rest of his life. [Even when he doesn't want to hear it].

    Lori, Mom, Grandma

  3. Emmett says:

    Dude. You two both rock! I’m impressed. We did a c-section ( for lots of reasons) and I almost passed out, just hanging with Wendy on the ‘safe’ side of the blue curtain. Loved your retelling, and honestly didn’t know it happened so fast!! Geesh! Love it!

  4. Shanna Bauman says:

    WAY to go!!! I LOVE a good birth story!! I’m a crazy over the top person who loves these type of things and this story is one of my favorites. I also love the Vandy Midwives and going natural! I’ve also had two great and short labors/deliveries so I am so excited to find a ‘sister’ in that regards!!! God is soooo awesome to have given you a story like this… one Eli will be able to hear and be proud of his parents for. Congrats again guys!!!

  5. Amaya says:

    The purple bouncing ball..I had not heard about this part of the story yet but it just makes it so much better! Steph and Matt..this is just a prime example of how you guys make such a great team! Eli is going to so appreciate this detailed recording of the labor process. Congratulations again on your beautiful addition to the family!

  6. Mary Ritchie says:

    Matt and Steph:

    CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of Elijah Cash.
    My best wishes to all three of you.
    I enjoyed reading Matt’s version of the birth story (passed along to me from Matt’s Dad).

    Mary Ritchie
    IBMer and Friend of Charlie

  7. Tanya Bogart says:

    What an awesome story! I loved reading every line!!! Steph you are a rock star! I’m so proud of you all and am thrilled to have the opportunity to know and love and other Burns!!!

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