Ella Grace’s Pregnancy & Birth Story

Ella’s birth story, after three weeks of recovery, processing, and thanking God for this incredible gift of a daughter.

Eight months prior to receiving the news that we were expecting our first child, our hearts were shattered. In February 2019, we had a miscarriage. And, just one month after that in March, we had another.

That timing was a season of transition for us, both in our lives and in the seasons between winter and spring. I think it’s funny yet moving how God uses these periods to teach us more about His heart of redemption.

We had no idea that these moments would be the defining factors into how quickly we wanted to have kids. Experiencing loss eradicated any hope we had for planning our future family because we knew God had something else in mind.

Just thinking back to those days brings tears to my eyes and a lump hardens in my throat. The pain is still real, and I don’t think it will ever truly fade.

Weeks and months passed, and the burden of wrestling with miscarriage started to weigh on us. I was in an incredibly hectic job, dealing with grueling hours and weirdly irregular commute times, was not eating well, and didn’t have any idea what “stress management” was in my life.

My body in no way was prepared to have a baby, and it showed.

After that, every single month was filled with anticipation. Would this be the month we’d finally be pregnant? The weeks would come and go with more negative at-home tests filling up the trash can.

I honestly wish I had kept every single one of those plastic pee sticks.

It wasn’t until that Fall in 2019 that we finally relinquished our grip on natural conception and trying to guess on the timing of it all.

Nothing was happening. The only thing left to do was pray and ask the Lord to provide, and that seemed like the last possible option. We couldn’t do anything else to speed up the process or make it work “according to plan”. We surrendered, unwillingly.

That same season, in August 2019, I started a new job. Not only was it much less stressful, I quickly found out most of my coworkers were Christians and held a prayer group every Wednesday during lunch hours.

Peace began to fill our lives and it slowly became easier to relinquish control.

As this happened, I started to take better care of my body. I began to eat a little healthier, read my Bible more, and I started taking prenatal vitamins to give my body a better fighting chance of conceiving.

October 2019 rolled around and this month somehow felt different. I had no idea why, but my body was showing different (and more promising) signs than previous months. I prayed, wondered, and asked God to protect my heart because I truly didn’t think I could go through another round of disappointment.

I forced myself to be patient. I knew I needed to wait until the last possible moment to take a pregnancy test, but for some odd reason my body was pushing me. I was scared and frustrated because I didn’t want to become obsessed with conceiving and have it cloud all judgement.

On October 28th, 2019, that second pink line showed up, It was really faint, but it was there. After bursting into tears and trying to stifle my happy cries so Joe wouldn’t wake up, I rushed into the bedroom and told Joe to close his eyes. You can watch his reaction below!

And so began the journey of pregnancy.

Y’all, it was tough. All my life I imagined those nine months being a walk in the park, filled with enjoyable moments, glowing skin, and beautiful baby shower parties.

Instead, I dealt with severe depression during the first trimester, nausea that was treated with $850 medication (not covered by insurance, of course!), and trying to balance expectations with reality. Third trimester I dealt with chronic cramping, obsessive nesting, and fatigue that almost took me out of work!

There was also the announcement phase… since we were so scarred by our miscarriages, we were terrified to tell people too early in case we lost this one too. We had no idea on timing, but God really provided! My coworker ended up guessing that I was pregnant in front of my boss, so my work knew pretty early on; Joe’s coworkers could tell something was up and they guessed too! And then, when we went on a retreat with our small group Bible Study, they already had suspicions so they were super excited when we told them!

Needless to say, it was a really interesting time. We never anticipated having so much support from our community, and it got us really pumped about becoming parents.

The log cabin in Amish Country where we told our Small Group we were expecting!

Fair Warning: Ella’s birth story can get a little graphic. Refrain from reading if you don’t want to hear some truthful, honest details about giving birth in a hospital. Thanks 🙂

At 1 o’clock in the morning on June 28th, 2020, my water broke. I woke up to soaked shorts and literally thought I peed myself because, well, in your third trimester, that happens often!

I went to the bathroom and discovered there was a slim chance I had actually wet the bed; I felt as though I had lost control of what didn’t really seem like my bladder! It’s hard to explain, but it kinda feels like you’re peeing but out of the wrong hole!

I called Joe in to help me figure out what the heck was going on. Thankfully he is in the medical field so it was a lot easier for him to help me because he examines specimens as part of his job!

We ended up calling my OBGYN’s emergency number and I got to talk to the doctor on call, who suggested we stay home for a little while longer. He couldn’t really tell if my water had broken because he wasn’t right there with me, but he said that was most likely the case. If I went to the hospital right away, they would keep me in bed which wouldn’t be great, or we could wait at home until contractions became a little more regular!

After talking, Joe and I decided to stay at home for a while longer. I wasn’t having regular contractions, and they weren’t even that painful!

By the time 6:00am rolled around, I began to notice that Ella’s movement had decreased pretty significantly. I tried to remain calm, but my anxiety was mounting and I didn’t feel comfortable staying at home much longer. Joe told me to take a shower and eat before heading out, so I did while he packed his overnight bag.

Joe’s last moment at home before he became a father.

If I’m being honest with you, I am so incredibly thankful for those six hours at home. Joe slept through everything, which ended up giving him a lot more energy to help me during the more grueling parts of labor later on.

Right before we left, I got to capture the moment above. We took one final, last deep breath and took it all in: the birds singing their good morning song, the sun rising over the trees, the fresh air hitting our faces.

This would be the last moment we would get together at our house before we would become parents, and we didn’t want to forget it.

We got to the hospital around 7:30am where I was sent to L&D Triage to be registered. It was confirmed that my water had indeed broken, so they gave me an IV (which I nearly passed out from!) and tested me for COVID-19 (which wasn’t NEARLY as bad as the IV in my opinion…) before sending me up to the actual L&D floor.

When we arrived in our labor room around 8:45am, the pain was still incredibly manageable. I was so excited to finally be in the hospital because I was so sick and tired of being pregnant; we were both so ready to meet our daughter!

Anxiously awaiting Ella’s arrival!

About three or four hours passed and my nurse started me on a super low dose of Pitocin to kick my contractions into a more regular rhythm (which, by the way, isn’t nearly as bad as it’s portrayed!). During that time I was able to labor on a medicine ball, which really helped with the pain and gave me something to do!

Around 11:30am my nurse requested I get my epidural, and then I was able to rest for a few more hours and gain back some strength. I was so exhausted and I knew I hadn’t done anything yet.

I was so excited, but my emotions needed to be grounded and centered.

Joe was so kind throughout the entire process; I don’t think words allow for me to express my appreciation to him. He turned on a Labor & Delivery playlist I had been creating on Spotify for the past few months, and my goodness, was I thankful for that!

Filled with worship music, the relief flooded over me and I began to feel God’s presence completely fill the space. My face hurt from all my smiling because I finally felt some peace.

Around 5:30pm the pressure in my pelvis started to build. I could tell she was coming, and the nurses encouraged me to hold on a little longer, but it got so painful I was brought to tears a few times.

At this point, my nurse checked me and I was dilated 8 centimeters and fully effaced. My body was showing signs of wanting to push, but it wasn’t time so they gave me Fentanyl through my epidural to calm the extreme pains and to help me dilate further.

Y’all, modern medicine can be such a blessing. I know I talk about essential oils and holistic methods often, but I also believe God gave us modern medicine for a reason.

Joe also works with Fentanyl primarily in his job when sedating patients for his procedures, so I was even more confident I had a team to support me through this next step. My nerves calmed even more and Joe made sure the essential oil diffuser was still running to help with my emotions.

Three and a half hours later, the time finally came to start pushing. I had dilated to 10 centimeters and my body had reached the point of transition. The medical staff turned my epidural down so I could push, and my Fentanyl had worn off so I was REALLY feeling the waves.

I’m not even kidding you, I could legit feel Ella moving down the birth canal with each and every push! It was insane!

When people say labor can be scary, they mean it. When the most intense parts were underway, I was terrified. The pain was freaking overwhelming, y’all. Like the worst I had ever experienced. EVER. And I had some serious medical intervention! It makes me really respect women who can do the entire thing at home or naturally.

I remember all of a sudden going from screaming “I can’t do this” and starting to panic, to “I can do this!” and trying to breathe through everything.

It felt like a curtain of peace and security enveloped me and protected me, and that’s where I found the strength to keep going.

Growing up, I had been told time and time again, “you’ll never be able to do that” or “you’re too stupid to succeed” or “you’ll never amount to anything”.

When those are the mantras being spoken over you, you start to believe them.

Because of that, I never had confidence in myself. I always wanted to be a follower and never a leader because I truly did not believe in myself.

Finally getting that feeling that there was something I was meant to do, and legit had the strength and permission to do it, was so freaking empowering.

The second Ella started crowning I wanted her out; that ring of fire is so stinking real! I didn’t care if I tore or whatever the heck happened because it was so insane!

I think one of the things I’ll never forget about Ella’s birth story is the first words that came out of my mouth when she was born: “oh my gosh babe, she’s so cute!”

The incredible relief that overtook me when she was born is something I’ll never be able to explain, but once you go through it, you’ll understand what I mean.

Ella Grace is finally here!

Through it all, the picture of our daughter being born was what filled my mind. As a first time mom, you don’t know what your body is truly capable of, and I am continually amazed at what it did to produce our beautiful daughter.

The Lord gives us strength in times of need, and that was definitely one of those times.

As soon as she came out, the doctors had to clear her airways so she could cry. Her eyes immediately opened and I could see her breathing, so I knew she was okay.

But seriously, y’all, those ten or so seconds where they were clearing her airways felt like an eternity. Was she going to cry? Was she going to be okay? What was going on?

Everything was happening right in front of me, but I didn’t know how much longer I could keep my eyes open. I was so exhausted I could barely stay present in the moment.

Finally, when she let out her first cry, they laid her on my chest and wrapped us up. Her voice echoed across the room and the tears streamed down my face.

Our baby girl was alive and alright.

She clung to me and I’d never felt so alive or so capable of doing something in my entire life.

I knew motherhood was going to be hard and scary, but that all disappeared in that one single moment.

My diffuser and worship playlist were both still running at this point, and together they created such a beautiful atmosphere while Joe and I were taking it all in; the staff loved my playlist and that really revealed how God was providing for us even then.

If I’m being honest, I had always been worried about playing Christian music during labor because I didn’t want to offend anyone, but I knew it was something I needed to do in order to keep connected to the Lord.

It was my desire to give this entire experience up to the Lord and trust that He would be there in that room every second, so I was thankful that I never once felt uncomfortable and it made the entire experience more worshipful, especially right after Ella was born.

The music kept playing until we were moved to our recovery room and every single song hit so close to home it was like God was speaking directly to us with each line of lyrics.

Just a few minutes old.

Y’all, our first priority in life is, and always will be, to serve the Lord. We want our marriage, our parenting, and our lifestyle to fully reflect that. We knew God would be with us wherever we went (Deuteronomy 31:8) so therefore we weren’t afraid. Yes, we had our moments where fear tried to completely take over us, but God was stronger and prevailed.

We were protected in the shadow of His wings (Psalms 63:7), and because of that, we could shout for joy.

Pain doesn’t last, friends. It may be for a while, but God always redeems it (Micah 4:10).

Our rainbow baby, Ella Grace Johnson, was born on June 28th, 2020 at 9:25pm, weighing in at 7 pounds 13 ounces, 20.5″ long, and she is totally, utterly, perfect.

Newborn Photographer: Emily Rau Newborns