She is Love: Ellie’s Birth Story

You and your sister are sleeping soundly and I thought I had better start writing your story before I forget everything. You, Ellie Anna, are a precious gift and your dad and I love you so much. The Lord was so gracious to us in how He brought you into the world.

We found out we were pregnant with you the day after Easter, 2014. A time to celebrate new life. I wanted to celebrate. But just a few months before, I had miscarried your sweet brother or sister at 13 weeks. We were so sad. And I was fearful that this pregnancy would end the same way and that I would never meet you. God was faithful, and eight months later, you made your beautiful entrance.

On your dad’s birthday, December 18, your sister Lakelyn got sick. She had a fever throughout the day but she was still happy and we tried to celebrate Daddy’s birthday. I was about 38 weeks pregnant with you and feeling very ready for the day you would decide to show up. At my last appointment, I was 3 cm dilated, very thin, and you were very low. I thought you would come any day.

At about six o’clock that night, Lakelyn started getting very sick. She had a febrile seizure and your dad and I thought for several minutes that we were going to lose your big sister. In the ER, we found out that Lakelyn had the flu. We got home late that night. Daddy slept on the floor by Lakelyn while I tried to sleep. We woke Lakelyn up every couple of hours to make sure her temperature wasn’t getting too high.

The next morning, I cancelled my appointment with the midwife and took Lakelyn to the pediatrician. She had an ear infection on top of the flu. I nearly forgot I was pregnant with you during all of this. I thought surely now you would stay put and wait until after Christmas to come. We stayed home the rest of the day. You seemed content in my tummy as we took care of your big sister.

That night, Lakelyn’s temperature went back up and it took a few hours to get her to sleep. Your daddy slept on the couch. I woke up at 11 to use the bathroom. I vaguely remember some cramping and a strange feeling when I used the bathroom but I ignored it because I was so tired from the past few days.

I woke up a bit later to gushes of fluid and mild cramping that I couldn’t ignore, although I once again tried to. It was 12:30 am on December 20. I decided I better get up to see what was going on. When I got to the bathroom, I was 99% sure that my waters were broken.

I woke your daddy up and he called your Grandma Susie to come stay with Lakelyn. It was hard knowing we would have to leave your sister but I was so excited to be meeting you soon. As we got our last minute things together for the hospital, I was having period like cramps but I wasn’t paying enough attention to time them.

We left for the hospital at about 1 am. Daddy prayed for you on the way. We knew that Jesus was taking care of you AND your sister.

At 1:30 am we got to the hospital. The cramps were getting a bit worse but we walked up to the maternity unit without having to stop. In the elevator I told your dad, “With everything going on, I think I’ll just get an epidural.” He smiled and said, “Ok, whatever you want.” He later told me that inside he was thinking, “SERIOUSLY??? After months of preparation, you are going to get an epidural???” I was just feeling so tired and emotionally drained from the past few days, I didn’t know if I could do it.

The nurse in triage was kind and explained everything to us. We were taken to a triage room where she checked a sample of fluid and also said I was 4-5 cm dilated. Your head was so low that two nurses had to check me.

My contractions were starting to pick up. The doula that I had met with a few weeks previously wasn’t available, so Shelby, a different doula met us. I wasn’t sure how I felt about having someone I didn’t know at all with us, but she was quickly supportive and helpful. They confirmed with the fluid sample that my water had broke and I was in active labor. One of the nurses tried to start an IV but wasn’t able to. My contractions during this time were really intensifying and I was having to breath and focus through them.

I was moved to a labor/delivery room and was able to settle in. Sherry, our midwife came in to check on us. Another nurse came and after two tries was able to get an IV. I declined IV fluids. Your dad turned on some worship music. I rocked in a rocking chair. I stood and leaned on the bed stacked with pillows. I knelt on the bed and leaned over the top of it.

Best of all, I bounced on the birth ball and leaned on the bed stacked with pillows through contractions. Your dad and Shelby were applying counter pressure to my back and hips during each contraction. I never understood how someone could fall asleep between contractions until I was in labor with you. I felt so sleepy.

I would think about the word “surrender”, trying to keep my hands open and my body relaxed. I knew I needed to let the Lord take over so that my body would open up for you. I don’t remember being fearful, but the process still seemed painful to me. I was breathing in and using “horse lips” or “motor boating” as I blew out. I read in Ina May Gaskin’s book that if your mouth is loose, the rest of your body has to loosen and open up too. If I could recommend any one coping technique to a laboring woman, it would be horse lips (with bouncing on a birth ball a close second!). All of this time labor felt very manageable, the waves would ebb and flow and I would have a period of rest in between each contraction.

I was laboring on the bed on my knees and started to feel pushy, like I needed to use the bathroom. I told Shelby and she told me to hold off. “We don’t want you pushing if you’re not all the way open. Your cervix will swell and it will be a harder and longer labor.” I changed positions back to the birth ball and that seemed to help. But a few minutes later, the feeling came back and I asked to be checked. I was between 7-8 cm. I knew the hardest part was ahead of me, but I was so excited knowing we were so very close to meeting you.

Back on the birth ball, your dad stood in front of me and held my hands while Shelby stayed behind me. I was getting to the end of my rope with these contractions. They were incredibly intense and when they peaked, I wasn’t sure I could keep going. I lost control of my breathing a couple of times and your dad and Shelby would remind me to breath for you, that you needed me to breathe. Your dad kept saying, “You can do this, you are doing it, and you’ve done it before!”

I moaned and breathed and horse-lipped my way through transition. It was helpful to remember to let go, to let the process happen. I don’t remember all of the songs that played but I remember hearing bits and pieces of lyrics now and then that would remind me of the Truth. I knew that the Lord was helping us and making a way for you to come into the world. Looking back, this was the most intense part of labor.

Then something changed. I HAD to push. This was a different feeling than before. I couldn’t help it. My whole body was pushing so forcefully which was something I never experienced during my first labor. Shelby again told me not to, to try short panting breaths, until the nurse could check me. It was impossible.

I got up to the bed and felt absolutely done. “I can’t do it!” Shelby looked at me and said, “The pain is as bad as it’s going to get, it won’t get any worse. You’ve made it through the hardest part, and now you get to start pushing and working with those contractions so you can meet your baby.”

That was what I needed to hear! The nurse finally checked me and I was at a 10. I am pretty sure I continued to push although everyone was telling me not to. I knew you were so close and I couldn’t NOT push. Sherry, the midwife wasn’t in the room yet and I remember hearing “Get Sherry now!” There were a few nurses in the room now scrambling to get things ready.

Looking back at the doula’s notes, it had only been nine minutes since I was checked at 7-8 cm. Sherry finally came in and through two contractions of pushing, at 4:34 am, you came into the world.


I hardly felt the ring of fire which I was dreading so much. I reached down and pulled you to my chest. I didn’t think about it not being okay, I just did it without thinking. Sherry and the nurses said it was fine since you were healthy and wide eyed. I kept saying “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Jesus!”

The song that was playing when you were born was She is Love, one of your dad’s and my favorite songs and one that was played during our wedding ceremony. Your sister Lakelyn screamed at the top of her lungs when she was born, but you just looked around, taking it all in.

My placenta came just a few minutes later. Sherry showed it to us which we were in awe of, a perfect “tree of life”. Your dad cut the cord while we snuggled. I had a first degree tear where my episiotomy from Lakelyn’s birth had been. Sherry stitched me up while you stayed right on my chest.

You were 7 lbs 3 oz and 20.5 inches long. You nursed right away for almost an hour and have been a nursing champ and snuggle bug ever since. We can’t believe how happy and content you are.


You love to laugh at your big sister and stay close to mommy and daddy. You are so loved , sweet girl. We are so thankful for your story, Ellie Anna. And really, your story is just beginning.

{Submitted by Abby Van Deman}


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