Elias' Birth Story :: Baby Born in Finland


This has been a long time coming. While I wrote the story a few days after Elias' was born, I wanted to be able to edit it and make any changes. A whole year has passed, so now seemed like a great time to read it. To all you who love a birth story, here's how Elias came on the scene.

On Thursday we went to our midwife appointment just as scheduled. She measured my belly and commented again how she anticipated a very large baby. I'd been fighting it all along, but something in my heart kept telling me I needed to start being willing to hear what she had to say. I think I was just afraid of being induced, unncecessarily, but my heart started to lay down the idea of a the birth I wanted, just incase that wasn't in the cards.

The next day I got a call from my midwife "I just can't stop thinking about it, I really need you to go to an ultrasound and get baby checked."I said okay, called Ben and was a bit bummed because of how helpless I felt. I couldn't really figure out how this information would help other than to go down the induction road.  When I prayed about it that afternoon, again I felt like I needed to lay this down and have a good heart towards my medical staff. They were for me. And if they weren't "What you've intended for harm, God intended for good." In my heart I knew I was covered either way.

So, to the ultrasound I went. It was at 2 in the afternoon, on Monday. As soon as I met the OB, my heart rested. I made mention that I thought my water might be leaking (I wasn't positive, but figured I'd make mention of it) and sure enough after two tests, they were both positive. Also, baby was measuring at around 4 kilos (9 pounds.) The OB recommended we go to the hospital and see what they would have us do.

We decided to take our time getting there. We had groceries that were going to be delivered, and we wanted to give our babysitter time to do whatever they may need to before dropping her off. At around 7:00 we dropped off Eowyn, called the Hospital, and they told us to come in at 8. We had some time, so we went and bought milk, just in case (and to hopefully get labor going by walking.) I was having braxton hicks contractions for weeks, so even when I would feel contractions then, it was nothing different than what I had been feeling.

We arrived at the hospital, went in and waited. 45 or so minutes later we met with a midwife who had one of the kindest hearts. She was an older woman, who kept joking calmly. She ran the tests to check if my water had broken and confirmed yes. She joked "Well, you're definitely pregnant!"

She then proceeded to hook me up to some monitoring to check baby and contractions. Surprisingly, what I thought were just braxton hicks were regular contractions coming at around 10 minutes a part. She asked me if I felt pain, which I didn't really, and she seemed unsure as to what to do. They decided to admit me to the hospital and see what happened. Later we found out that the midwife conspired a bit to get things moving as naturally as possible (separating the membranes) and see what happened. Regardless, the looming '24 hours' of needing to deliver was there since my water had broken.

We went to the labor & delivery and got a room. They hooked me up to fetal monitoring, different than what I had ever had before and my water broke all over the floor. It was a party. After that the contractions began to be stronger, and after about 20 minutes of monitoring, I went to shower. They don't have baths in the hospitals (apparently there is one, if you hoped for a water birth) and so I brought my yoga ball and hung out in there. Things progressed quickly from there. Before the contractions really started, the hospital midwife kept mentioned needing to give me sythentic oxytocin. I'm grateful for Ben pushing against it and asking for us to wait a little longer before doing anything like that. With how fast and how intense the labor ended up being, if we had pitocin in the mix, I don't think we'd have a very positive story to tell.

Ben was a champ with his coaching, and kept me focused with counting and getting through contractions, the pressure/pain was way more intense than with Eowyn, so I was struggling to get into any kind of rhythm to concentrate. I was grateful for Ben. I went from 3 cm to 7 in about two hours, and then 7 to fully ready to push in about 30 minutes. I managed out of the shower after about an hour, but stayed with that beloved ball the whole time. My body started pushing on its own, so I pushed the button for the midwife and let her know I couldn't help but push and she should make her way over.

I was able to get up on the bed (barely), and started to push. He was big, people. His head came out finally and he had his hand up by his face.After his head came out, I thought I was in the clear. Since Eowyn came out so easily after her head came. Not with him. Perhaps it was a mental thing, but my contractions stopped for what seemed like forever (it was less than a minute) but I was having a hard time pushing his belly out. I got a bit desperate thinking I wasn't going to get him out. (Not to mention I was convinced I was split clean from top to bottom!) Eventually the contractions came again and I was able to push him fully out. God be praised.

While we were laboring, we kept hearing all these sweet newborn cries in the other rooms. It made me all the more excited for our little guy to come. When he finally came out and took his first breaths, he let out a high pitched shriek. Like...banshee scream (which he's still a fan of today.) Ben and I both, wide-eyed, looked at each other and were like "Woah..." We've jokingly called him Banshee and have upgraded him to Pterydactl every time he decides to awaken us in the middle of the night with it.  We've called Eowyn Dragon since she was little "The dragon has awaken" so it seems fitting he came into this world already giving us ideas for future nicknames.

When he came, his body was nice and pink, but his face was blue. He came out so fast, his face got bruised! He was a solid nine pounds. He was born just past midnight. While he has his own birthday, he shares his birthday stateside with his grandpa Sprague (we called them and it was still the day before!) It was a sweet joke leading up to his birth, so to actually have him at the time we did is fun. He gets to have his own day and share it with his grandpa too.

He took to nursing pretty fast (which is in contrast with Eowyn who was wisked away immediately to the special care unit and bottle fed donor breastmilk,) and they brought us a nice platter of food while we enjoyed him in our room. We had an hour or so to just enjoy him until we were moved.

 We were soon escorted to a different room where Ben had to go home since it was a shared room with another mother. That was around 3 AM. The next two nights were, to be honest, pretty hard. Elias cried a lot those first few days (I think it was his bruised face. ) and Every day Ben had to go home to be with Eowyn and I had to stay in the hospital. The angel nurse that admitted us came to check on me a few days later in the hospital. Her company is one of my fondest memories. Lucky for us, they let us go home early. It was a sweet relief. Since there's communal showers, rooms and bathrooms, it was nice to be able to go home and have everything to myself.  His birth was pretty much as perfect as it could have gone. Especially when considering it was in a different country, everything was in Finnish (luckily we had staff that spoke relatively well and were wildly kind to us.) and I had to be without the rest of my family for most of the days after Elias' birth. While he did have to keep getting his glucose checked, he was perfectly healthy.

I think the actual birthing process was very similar to my experience in the states. Perhaps it's because I had a rough idea of what to expect, so I wasn't so fearful (good thing I didn't know how fast it would all end up being! Giddy up!) The midwives offered meds just as often (if not more) as when I was stateside, which was confusing to me due to the characterization of American midwives. They acted very surprised when I asked to hold off for a bit (I'm not against the meds-God be praised for modern medicine and sweet assistance as we need it.) The staff was very competent, very kind.

 The differences in experiences were more with post birth. We had shared rooms, communal bathrooms, there was a  'bell' that cues you to come and get your meals (conveniently on a tray with your name on it-don't be late or you'll miss the meal!) and little carts that you wheel your baby around in back and forth from all the communal spaces...It was such a different experience. They don't ask the baby's name, because in Finland there is a 'naming ceremony' so many parents don't have a name picked right away (it's essentially the equivalent of a baby shower, just post baby.) Mostly little things were different,  really. I think setting my heart up to expect something different  made for a positive time. I have positive memories, even if they are a bit more lonely. Not speaking the language left a lot less small talk to be had (not that Finns are much for small talk anyway.) and without Ben and E being able to be with me, I found myself ready to go home as quickly as I could.

Oh, also, they don't use baby wipes at the hospital. So imagine my surprise when I got to use the sink to get that black meconium off! I quickly got used to it-not so used to it that I converted, but I do see the benefit..

From the time my water officially broke to the time he came out screaming was a little shy of three hours.  He's been fast and furious ever since. So happy to have our sweet Elias.

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