Thanks for your patience, friends! And for your prayers and for your always-so-thoughtful comments and encouragement.
Yes, she's here! And she's home.
Elora Faye Hauser was birthed at 11:55 pm on the 22nd. She came into the world making some beautiful noises and breathing perfectly on her own. For the first time I was able to enjoy that amazing alert newborn stage just after birth with no concerns for my baby or my own well being. There are no words to say how grateful we are for her health.
After 10 hours of induced labor, I was able to birth her naturally at our preferred hospital, MUSC. There was only one part, when we heard a woman sobbing on the labor/delivery floor, that brought back painful memories of Eleni's birth. Otherwise I was so focused, first on getting into a strong labor pattern and then on making it through when things heated up, that I wasn't scared. Though, much of that is due to the angel of a midwife who has been handling my care for the past few months under the supervision of the maternal fetal medicine team at MUSC.
After my history, I didn't think I wanted to work with a midwife, but Gretchen was just exactly what I needed. She understood both sides - how we wanted to use all the testing and expertise of medicine to be 100% safe and that we wanted to pursue a natural, vaginal birth for an optimal outcome if it was medically indicated. Both prenatally and at the birth itself, Gretchen had an uncanny sense of the words and information I needed to be empowered to navigate birth again. My mother and I tried to hide our happy tears when Gretchen told us she has rearranged her schedule to be at my induction. She stayed hours past her shift to be there for Elora's delivery, which just means so much. Trust is so key for childbirth. And sometimes, trusting the right person is everything.
By the way, I tried something new in this labor - nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas in a 50/50 concentration with oxygen) for pain relief. My readers in Canada, Europe and Australia may be surprised to hear that nitrous oxide has been essentially unavailable in the US since the advent of the epidural. It's making a comeback in 100's of leading US hospitals since it is a safe and affordable way of managing pain and anxiety in childbirth. Nitrous oxide has a long history of use during labor worldwide with no known negative effects on baby and minimal-to-zero side effects on mom. If you don't usually consider any drugs during childbirth, you may want to look into the safety and availability of this one. I would use it again!
Ok, now, how about the baby? We finally settled on Elora as a first name, in honor of her sister Eleni Laura. It's very close to Eleni's first and middle name merged together, but different enough to our ears. We usually choose a middle name to honor someone, so we had planned to use Eleni as a middle name, but as you know nothing came to us. When we realized Elora as a first name would hold the same meaning, it was instantly our clear choice. Faye is just pretty, and also Brandon's mother's middle name. It's perfect!
Elora was born 7 pounds, 8 ounces and 19 3/4" long. She had a slow start with breastfeeding, but has figured it out now. Everything about her is amazing to me - the way her hands open, explore and grasp; her myriad facial expressions, so many pleasant; how she looks and looks around. When brand new she was frequently gagging and struggling to swallow her spit up. In just a few days she's progressed to manage that well, learned to latch and established a suck reflex, which was weak at birth. So much in a few days! All thanks to a healthy human brain.
We came home from the hospital on Thanksgiving evening and are enjoying our sleepy little one today. Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving with extended family, all of us so very grateful this year for a precious new life. And remembering Eleni always. Always, always.
Happy belated Thanksgiving!