Woman in labor tub at St. Luke's.

Elsie’s Birth Story: From infertility and loss to a beautiful natural birth

Elsie had always dreamed of being a mother. However, she had no idea how many challenges awaited her and her husband on the path to realizing this dream. Despite grappling with infertility and several heartbreaking miscarriages, they eventually had a successful, healthy pregnancy and birth. Discover how St. Luke’s supported them throughout their journey.

Since I was little, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. My husband and I had a dog who we just loved so much. I remember thinking: Wow, if I feel this deeply for an animal, just imagine what it would be like to have a baby. I wanted to experience that love, so I had always planned to have a family. However, I had no idea just how challenging that would be.

To start, my husband and I struggled with infertility for two years. We finally got pregnant in 2018, and we were so excited. But then, at our eight-week ultrasound, baby’s heartbeat was slow. When we went back a week later, there was no heartbeat at all. That was our first miscarriage. We weren’t expecting it at all, and we were heartbroken.

The following two years were difficult as well. We endured more miscarriages, one of them being an ectopic pregnancy where my left fallopian tube had to be removed in emergency surgery. Each loss tested our resolve and left us wrestling with grief. However, we weren’t about to give up.

Navigating the path to pregnancy and birth

As the weeks passed, my pregnancy progressed without issues. We started to feel hopeful again. I talked to my OB-GYN about our birth plan. I loved the idea of a home delivery, with as little intervention as possible. However, I knew that could be risky if there were any complications.

After talking things over, I decided to labor at home for as long as possible before going to St. Luke’s Birthing Center to deliver. We had hired a doula, and I knew she’d be able to offer extra help and guidance through that process. My OB-GYN was in full support, respecting our decision, which I greatly appreciated.

Our due date came and went. A few days later, on February 1, contractions had started and were ramping up and our doula was helping me work through them. After several hours, around 11:30 pm, she looked at me and said, “Well, I think it’s time to head to the hospital.”

It was freezing cold, around 20 degrees below zero. So, we bundled up, grabbed our bags and made it to St. Luke’s around midnight. The hours that followed were a blur of intensity and perseverance; moments of doubt interspersed with bursts of determination and bliss.

Welcome to the world, Sela

Doula comforting patient

Once we got to our birthing suite, I hopped in the labor tub. That was amazing and offered a lot of relief. I stayed there for about two hours, until I was dilated to eight centimeters. After that, I got out and labored in the room for a while. Then, it was time to start pushing.

Somewhere along the way, I had been given a great tip: Don’t pay attention to the time. So, that’s what we did. We took the clock off the wall, and I just focused on pushing – for a long time.

Even though it was exhausting and intense, I felt so supported by everyone. Never once did I feel pressured to use any type of intervention. I was just able to stick to my birth plan and do what my body was meant to do.

Finally, I heard our daughter cry. I was so relieved. She was there and we had done it. The sun came up over Lake Superior and our room was filled with this beautiful warm glow. I was shocked that it was already sunrise. That’s when I realized that I had been laboring for over 12 hours! Every second had been worth it, and I’ll never forget what it was like to hold her the first time.

Overcoming challenges and finding gratitude

Family with their baby.

However, we still had our challenges. Breastfeeding proved to be much more difficult than I had anticipated. We came to St. Luke’s AfterCare Clinic many times in those first eight weeks. I can’t say enough about how valuable this was to us and how thankful I am for the lactation consultants who helped us. Because of their help, I ended up having a successful breastfeeding journey with my daughter and we nursed for over two years!

Looking back on my path to motherhood, I am filled with gratitude—for the challenges that made me stronger, for the moments of joy that made it all worthwhile, and for the exceptional care I received at St. Luke’s. The nurses and staff went above and beyond to ensure that I felt empowered and supported every step of the way. And having a doula by my side was truly a game-changer, providing an extra layer of support and guidance that helped me navigate challenges with confidence and grace.

In the end, my experience at St. Luke’s was nothing short of exceptional—a testament to their commitment to providing compassionate, patient-centered care. As I reflect on the journey that brought me here, I am so thankful for the role they played in helping me bring my daughter into the world, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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