Ellis’ Birth Story
Almost two years ago, I shared Rory’s birth story here on the blog. To be honest, I wrote that post mostly for me, and for her. It was a way to document the entire story of her arrival into this world, complete with all of the little details that I knew I would eventually forget as I tell her the tale, year after year. I’m happy that she’ll have that post to reference and read on her birthday when she is older.
I knew I wanted to do the same with Ellis’ arrival and write down absolutely everything I could remember about his c-section birth. His birth was completely different from Rory’s and I want him to also be able to read the tale of how he came into our world. So let’s get to it!
Prepping for an Early Arrival
Rory arrived about three weeks early, so I knew that Ellis might also decide to show up well before his due date of October 16th. I talked about it all summer long, but my main goal was to be fully prepared for him by the beginning of September. That way, we wouldn’t be too overwhelmed and we could have some time to relax before becoming a family of four.
I think we did a pretty good job of getting prepared, although we never got around to that relaxing time, but we certainly didn’t anticipate that he would arrive five weeks early!
My 34 Week Appointments
Because I was considered high-risk, I saw both my OB and my reproductive immunologist every week of my third trimester. Not to mention, I also had weekly blood transfusions for my low iron. It was A LOT of appointments, but I was relieved that my baby was well monitored until the very end.
When I was 34 weeks and 4 days pregnant, I had my blood transfusion at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and went to the bathroom to find that I was bleeding. This freaked me out a bit, so I called my OB and asked if I could pop in to be checked out, since it was only a short walk away. They took me in immediately.
My OB saw that I was already 1.5 cm dilated and told me that because of my history of pre-term labor, I should be on high alert. Two days later, I headed to my reproductive immunologist, where they perform weekly ultrasounds. They did a thorough examination and the baby looked great (yay!), but my cervix had shortened dramatically in a week and was “softening”. Eek. They told me to head home for modified bed rest (basically taking it easy and not lifting anything too heavy) and try to make it at least one more week so I could deliver at 36 weeks.
Our Last Saturday
That news put both Finn and me on high alert. We both got right to work, finishing up last-minute things around the house and packing up our hospital bags. (This post has the scoop on what to pack.) Finn also tried his best to get work things wrapped up, and we made a plan with my mom to take Rory if I went into labor.
Once that was all was done, we decided to make the most of our day as a family of three.
Rory hopped into bed with us and we had a lazy Saturday morning. We then got lunch and spent lots of time at the park, with me sitting on a bench watching the fun from afar.
That night, Finn and I had a “last supper” feast and ordered our favorite Italian food for a night out on the patio. I wasn’t having contractions just yet, but I just felt “off” and had a feeling that our baby would be arriving very, very soon.
I went to bed full and happy that night.
Sunday – 2 am
A few hours later, I woke up to water soaking our bed. Had my water broken? It must have, but it certainly wasn’t what you see in the movies with a huge gush of water splashing on the ground. I was also feeling pretty crampy, but I had no real contractions just yet. We called my mom and she rushed over to stay with Rory while we headed to triage.
When we arrived, they hooked me up to a monitor to check for contractions and swabbed me to see if my water had officially broken. We waited about an hour for the results and they came back negative. Say what?! I was in shock (I swear I didn’t pee the bed!) and we begged them to let us stay. But because of the results, they had to send us home. Bummer.
We got back home by 4:30 am and did our best to get to sleep. But by 6 am, I started to feel some intense contractions…
Sunday – 7 am
I let Finn keep sleeping and whipped out my phone to start timing my contractions. They quickly got more and more intense, lasting about a minute and coming every five minutes. After an hour, I woke up Finn told him it was “go time” and we again called Jan to come back over. Our stuff was already in the car, so we hopped right in and got to the hospital by about 8 am.
In triage, they hooked me up and saw that my contractions were coming hard and fast. They also swabbed me again to check for amniotic fluid and this time the results came back positive. This baby was coming! Because I was only 35 weeks along, they gave me a shot to help the baby’s lungs. They confirmed that he was still breech and called my doctor in for surgery.
While we waited, I was having super intense contractions. I didn’t really experience them with Rory…at all. I had contractions with her but didn’t feel much until they broke my water. And then I quickly got an epidural, so I didn’t have much pain with her birth. (I was very lucky!) This time around, I kept asking for the “epidural man”, but they said they would just get me into surgery quickly so there wasn’t time for that. I did my best to squeeze Finn’s hand (hard, so hard!) during those rough contractions and he was a trooper.
After signing lots of paperwork, talking with a million doctors, and getting Finn all suited up, it was c-section time. My doctor warned me that the baby might have to go immediately to the NICU and it could potentially be a long stay since I was only 35 weeks along. This scared us, but we did our best to put on a smile and get ready for surgery. While I knew Ellis was breech and a c-section was likely in my future, I hadn’t done a ton of research about what the surgery actually entailed.
They numbed me up and laid me out on a table with my arms spread eagle. By far the weirdest part of this c-section birth is that I was awake during this huuuuge procedure. I wasn’t out of it, at all. Instead, I was just numb from the chest down. I could still hear everything that was happening. Luckily, Finn was by my side through it all.
Instead of listening to the doctors talking, I told Finn to tell me stories really loud. I kept saying, “Tell me another one. Tell me another one,” so I could take my mind off of what the hell was happening to my body down below. While I didn’t feel any pain, I felt pressure and movement, and to be honest, it was scary. It felt like my body, down below, was on a rollercoaster, being pulled all around, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Introducing Ellis James Finn
After about ten minutes, at 10:51 am on Sunday, September 12th, they pulled the baby from my body. We didn’t hear any cries and they immediately whisked him off to another room to meet the NICU team. I kept asking Finn, “Is he okay? Where is he?”
At this point, I was sobbing, thinking something was wrong. Why hadn’t he cried out? When could I see him? It was only a few minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Finally, the team called out that he was 5lbs 15oz; he looked great; and Finn could come over to see him. They also told us that there was no need for him to head to the NICU. It was the best announcement we could hear!!
Finn went to meet Ellis and eventually brought him over to meet me for the first time. It was hard to get a good look at him because I was still on the operating table while they were stitching me back together, so I asked Finn to describe him in detail. Did he have my eyes? Finn’s nose? Did he look like his sister, Rory? Finn held him close to me and we cried tears of joy, knowing that he was here and he was safe.
Meanwhile, the surgeons were stitching me back up. It was funny because one of the surgeon’s names was Casey and my doctor would say, “Casey, hand me the scalpel,” and I thought “Oh no, I can’t grab it. Where is it?” until I realized that she was not talking to me. Ha!
It took about an hour to get all stitched up and then I was FINALLY able to hold my sweet baby as they wheeled me to the post-op room. His tiny body was warm on my chest and I held him tight as they cruised my bed through the hallways back to our room.
A Tough Day One
Things went a bit south from there. I was supposed to spend only about an hour in the post-op room and then we would be transferred to the postpartum floor for our hospital stay. But my vitals weren’t great. I had a very low heart rate and blood pressure. I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about this time. Finn was worried sick in the corner of the room, holding Ellis, while I was in and out of it, having doctor after doctor visit me.
They kept trying to get me to sit up, but when I did, my blood pressure would tank and I would get nauseous. So I lay there for the entire day while they tried to figure out how to make me feel better. Poor Finn was doing his best to take care of Ellis, while fielding texts from our families about what the heck was going on.
I spent the entire day on the surgical floor until they moved me to the postpartum floor to rest and recover. Finally, about 2:30 am on Monday, I woke up, vomited, and finally felt more coherent and together. Finn was asleep; Ellis was in the nursery; and I checked my phone to see the photos that Finn had taken of our sweet boy. I texted friends about the big news and answered messages from my worried family.
In the morning, the nurses brought Ellis back and I felt like I was finally able to really meet him. I soaked in every ounce of his little body and we got to know one another over the next few days at the hospital.
Our Hospital Stay
A typical c-section stay at our hospital is three to four nights. We stayed from Sunday-Wednesday and I gradually felt better and better every day. We FaceTimed Rory every morning and did our best to rest because we knew what lay ahead for us at home – lots of sleep deprived nights.
Somehow we got super lucky and got the absolute best hospital room, with floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides, looking at Lake Michigan, Water Tower Place, and Michigan Avenue. It was unreal and I wish I had felt better to enjoy it more..ha!
I’ll go into more details in a separate blog post all about c-section recovery tips because there is so much to share. Just know that it was really rough and I still don’t feel 100% like myself…but I’m getting there.
By Wednesday afternoon, our time was up and it was time to head home to our new little family of four. While we were away, Rory was living her best life over at Grama’s house. My mom let us get home and settled and then we gave her the green light to bring the new big sister over to meet the little guy. That’s when the real fun began for the Finn Four!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.