EBB 307 – Unexplained Infertility, Endometriosis, and a Birth Center Birth Story with Ellora La Shier, EBB Childbirth Class Graduate

Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:00:00:

Hi everyone, on today’s podcast, we’re going to talk with Ellora La Shier, a graduate of the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class class, all about her experience with six years of unexplained fertility, her eventual diagnosis of endometriosis, and her pregnancy and birth story. Welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. My name is Rebecca Dekker and I’m a nurse with my PhD and the founder of Evidence Based Birth®. Join me each week as we work together to get Evidence Based information into the hands of families and professionals around the world. As a reminder, this information is not medical advice. See ebbirth.com/disclaimer for more details. Hi everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast. Before we get started, I want to make you aware that we will discuss infertility, endometriosis, emotional and physical pain during pregnancy and birth, and birth trauma due to an unusual presentation of the baby’s head. If there are any other detailed or content or trigger warnings, we post them in the description or show notes that go along with this episode. And now I’d like to introduce our honored guest, Ellora La Shier. Ellora has spent her career in philanthropy, working in partnership with funders to increase equitable access to higher education. Ellora and her husband, Sean, recently welcomed their first child. They live in central Washington State, where they spend as much time as possible adventuring in the area’s beautiful natural spaces. Ellora and Sean are graduates of the EBB childbirth class with Julie Fors. Ellora brings with her a unique and insightful perspective on pregnancy and birth, particularly for those of you who are listening who have faced the challenges of unexplained fertility or endometriosis. Ellora journey is one of resilience, determination, and hope, and I’m so excited that she agreed to come on the podcast to share her experience with us. Ellora welcome to the Evidence Based Birth® Podcast.


Ellora La Shier – 00:02:06:

Thank you so much, Rebecca. I’m very excited to be talking with you today.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:02:10:

You know, my heart went out to you when I saw your story, but also I thought, wow, this could really be helpful for other people because, I feel like your kind of story is not shared as often on birth type podcasts. And a lot of people don’t really understand when I said unexplained infertility. Can you talk about what this means and, you know, kind of take us through your personal journey with that?


Ellora La Shier – 00:02:34:

Yeah. So unexplained infertility is actually an official diagnosis and it’s given when all of those fertility tests come back normal, healthy. So they don’t, they’re not able to pinpoint an exact reason why you’re not able to get pregnant. And for my husband and I, we were trying for a year and then we went to see a specialist and did all those tests. And again, they came back saying that we’re healthy individuals. And that was really challenging emotionally because there was no specific reason that we were not able to get pregnant. And so without a why, there wasn’t any treatment. There wasn’t any specific thing that we could do to help us get pregnant. Unsure feeling was just really difficult emotionally. The only thing that I did have in my history that I talked to my providers about is that I had, very painful, debilitating periods for as long as I can remember, but that it wasn’t enough to give us a different diagnosis of why we weren’t getting pregnant.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:03:37:

Mm-hmm. So you were faced with the uncertainty of all the tests came back normal, like every single test, but you still weren’t getting pregnant. And how many years did that go on for? And who did you try to see to get help with that?


Ellora La Shier – 00:03:53:

So that went on for many different years, as you said, about six years total. And we went through a lot of different providers in that time. We tried a lot of different things. I saw a naturopathic doctor at one point just for a different perspective, tried some herbal supplements and acupuncture. We did try some IUIs, which is just kind of one step down from an IVF. And-


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:04:20:

IUI, for those who don’t know, is intrauterine insemination. So it’s kind of like trying to get the sperm right into the uterus so that it bypasses some of the steps where, it might make it harder to get pregnant. But that didn’t work for you. And year after year, the doctors just had no solution and no diagnosis.


Ellora La Shier – 00:04:41:

Correct. They just, I had multiple doctors give the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. And so what my husband and I tried to do then was start taking care of our whole selves since kind of the medical community wasn’t giving us any answers. So some other things I did was I went to a support group for other people that were experiencing infertility. I tried to create a ritual, a monthly ritual, because again, this is an experience that isn’t really talked about widely. And we don’t really have a way in our society to kind of name and acknowledge this. So month after month, when you’re hoping to be pregnant and then you’re not, that is really grief and that’s mourning the loss of that possibility. So creating that ritual for a while was helpful for me.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:05:28:

And what was the ritual if you don’t mind sharing?


Ellora La Shier – 00:05:31:

It was honestly just like trying to have fun. So maybe we’d go out to dinner and get some flowers or something, you know, just kind of bring some more joy. You know, into life while we’re going through this, this really difficult time.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:05:45:

Yeah. And I know you were trying to bring joy and create joy, but at the same time, this must have been really hard emotionally.


Ellora La Shier – 00:05:52:

It was hard. Yeah. So some of the emotional things that were challenging was being around friends or family that were pregnant with young children, just not knowing if that would ever happen for us. We envisioned a family for ourselves and there were many years where we didn’t know if that would be possible. It was very emotional to open up social media and have a surprise pregnancy announcement and things like that. Once you’re struggling with that, you start to see pregnancy and children everywhere, right? And it becomes overwhelming. So again, just trying to find other ways to be joyful and have fun in life while going through that difficult time.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:06:28:

And probably I imagine you went through a lot of pregnancy tests in those years as well or not. Like, how did you handle that? Oh, could I be pregnant this month? Every month, month after.


Ellora La Shier – 00:06:39:

Every month. Yeah. I decided pretty early on not to test. I did have very regular cycles. So it was just kind of waiting. You know, it’s just kind of a waiting game. And within a couple of days, I would get my period. And one of the hardest parts for me was that in addition to not being pregnant, finding out I’m not pregnant that month, then I would have this excruciating, debilitating pain for several days after that. So it was this kind of one-two punch of like, I’m not pregnant again. And that’s grief. And I’m mourning. And then also I’m really suffering from this pain. And the providers were really not. Listening to me when I said I wanted to address both those issues. I wanted to figure out why I was not able to get pregnant. And I also wanted to address why am I having this severe pain? They really, most of the providers I saw really wanted to focus on one or the other, you know, they were like, well, to stop the pain, we can put you on birth control, but then I’m not able to get pregnant. And they’re like, well, if you want to get pregnant, we can just go straight to IVF. And I’m like, well, IVF is very intense. It’s very costly, you know, that’s a big step. And it doesn’t address the pain that I’m feeling that I have felt for so many years.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:07:56:

Like even though it was unexplained, there had to be something going on. So it almost feels like that diagnosis in and of itself is like gaslighting, like telling you there’s nothing wrong with you when you know there’s something wrong.


Ellora La Shier – 00:08:12:

Yeah. And it also feels a little bit like, what could I do differently? So some of the other things I tried were like cleaning up my diet, using non-toxic products, right? Trying to like… Take control of it myself. But, you know, that puts a lot of pressure. There was a lot of pressure that I put on myself to think, well, I can fix this. If the doctors aren’t going to listen to me and help me, then I need to try to do this. And that, you know, I don’t think that’s really fair because… There was something going on. So it wasn’t just the-


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:08:44:

It was just a cleaning products you’re using or something.


Ellora La Shier – 00:08:46:



Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:08:47:

Yeah. And tell me more about your painful periods because, you know, I’m sure some of our listeners have had very varied experience with periods. And what do you mean yours was excruciating and worse? Because, I think most people have had painful periods. But what was different about yours?


Ellora La Shier – 00:09:09:

So I think the first clue for me was the longevity of it. Like I have memories from when I was a young teenager, having to miss school because I was in so much pain. And that continued when I became, you know, when I went into college, I was missing classes because I was in so much pain. And then when I started working, I’d have to take at least one or two days off of work a month. And so when the pain is interrupting your life, that is not normal and not okay. And for me, it felt very sharp, very shooting. It was not a cramp, right? It was not a like kind of a contracting and then a releasing and then kind of achy. That was not my experience. It was very, very localized and sharp.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:09:52:

Sharp and stabbing pain. And did anything that you try to help during those days or did you just tend to suffer through it?


Ellora La Shier – 00:10:00:

I did try a lot of things, you know, ibuprofen, kind of the standard, you know, heat pads. I did see a pelvic floor physical therapist for a while that actually did help a little bit, kind of thinking maybe, you know, doing some stretching and kind of working on those muscles and things like that. But some of those would provide kind of temporary relief, maybe for like a month. But the pain just continued to get worse as I got older. And that was kind of a clue that, you know, it’s not typical pain, right? I’ve talked to a lot of friends and people just kind of assume that periods are painful and you just kind of deal with it. And I just don’t believe, I don’t believe that that’s… What we should accept. This is a normal function of our body and it should not be causing us pain and it should not be causing us to interrupt our lives like that.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:10:49:

Yeah. At least not to that extent. Exactly. So What led you to finally receive a diagnosis that explained what was going on in your body?


Ellora La Shier – 00:11:00:

Yeah. So over those years when I was seeing all those different providers, a couple of them had mentioned the possibility of endometriosis. And endometriosis is where, I’m sure you know this if you want to explain it.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:11:13:

No, you go ahead and explain it. I want to hear it from you.


Ellora La Shier – 00:11:16:

Yeah, so endometriosis is where the tissue that is similar to the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus, is found or it grows outside of the uterus where it’s not supposed to be. And it doesn’t show up on any tests. It typically doesn’t show up on ultrasounds. So the only way to officially diagnose this is to have exploratory surgery. And so when I have these providers suggesting endo to me, it was scary because the only way to know that would be to go through a surgery. And that’s a big commitment. And I wasn’t ready to hear that for many years. And there was finally… You know, Kind of during those six years that we were trying, my husband and I at one point decided to just take a break and not focus on actively trying to get pregnant and just focus again on living our lives, taking those trips that we had put off, you know, making those big purchases that we’d been avoiding. And so we took this break. We worked on ourselves. We worked on our relationship, which was, I think, so helpful because infertility really affects your relationships with your friends, your family, and it really put a strain on our marriage. So when we took that break and focused on us, we eventually decided, okay, we’re in a good place. We’re ready to try again. And It was a lot better the second time around. And we did some more IUIs and they were not successful.

And so finally, I had a provider that said, look, I really think it’s endometriosis. I think you need to get this surgery. You’ve done all of these treatments. And. Because she was so caring and because she listened to my concerns about both my infertility and my painful periods, I really trusted her when she said that. So it made a difference for me. And at that point, then we decided, okay, it’s time for surgery. So I started researching surgeons in my area and, I found an expert surgeon out of Portland, Oregon. Her name is Dr. Shanti Mohling. And she was amazing. She was so validating. She was so caring. And when we were talking through the surgery. You know, kind of the details on what she really focused on preserving my fertility. So because we don’t know how bad the disease is until we get in there. Based on her initial exam and my history, she really thought I did have endo. And this is an expert finally saying, yeah, you need to do this surgery. It’s going to help you. But it was great to hear that whatever was going on, she was going to make sure that I came out of that surgery with the ability to try to get pregnant again. And That was amazing to just finally have some providers that, you know, really listened to me and really heard my story and provided the care that I was, I was looking for.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:14:17:

So you found the surgeon and what happened next? What was the surgery like?


Ellora La Shier – 00:14:23:

So there was a couple of kind of intake appointments, which were super helpful to kind of talk about, again, what the plan for the surgery was, what it would be like, why she thought I had endo. During one of those appointments, I asked about pain tolerance. And I asked, like, am I just, do I just have a low pain tolerance? Are these typical period cramps?


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:14:42:

Am I weak? Yeah, basically.


Ellora La Shier – 00:14:44:

Yeah, like, and she was so helpful. She explained to me that in her experience with treating endometriosis patients, pain does not correlate to the how advanced the disease is. So she had patients that had stage four, which is very advanced endometriosis that didn’t have any, hardly any pain. And then she had patients that were kind of a lower stage, stage one or two, and they experienced a ton of pain. And so that was really validating that like pain is pain and whatever I’m feeling is impacting my life and I need to do something about it. It doesn’t matter, you know.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:15:22:

What stage of the disease it is. Yeah.


Ellora La Shier – 00:15:25:

Correct. Yeah. So that was super helpful. And I also asked her at one point, I said, do you think this surgery is worth it for me? And she was so caring. She looked at me and she just said, what else are you going to do? And it was like, you’re right. I’ve done everything else. I have tried everything else at this point.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:15:44:

For years.


Ellora La Shier – 00:15:45:

It’s been so many years. And so that was really validating. And for me to have this expert surgeon within driving distance was such a privilege as well. So the surgery was able to do an outpatient procedure. So I went home the same day and she did confirm and came out of the surgery with confirmation that I did have stage one endometriosis. So that was such a relief to have an official diagnosis now. And in my follow-ups with her, she was very positive and very hopeful that this would make a difference for our fertility journey.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:16:20:

So did she do any procedures during the surgery other than just identifying the endometriosis?


Ellora La Shier – 00:16:27:

So she identified it and then she removed all of that tissue, all of that suspected endometrial tissue that was not where it’s supposed to be.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:16:35:

So it’s just kind of like in your abdominal cavity, kind of around your uterus.


Ellora La Shier – 00:16:40:

Correct. Yeah. So it can show up in a lot of different places for people. It can show up on ovaries. It can show up on your pelvic wall. It can show up a lot of different places. For me, I had it mostly on my pelvic wall. So just kind of that, like you said, the abdominal cavity. And then she excises it. So she just… Takes it out basically. And then post-surgery, they just test it to confirm that it’s endometriosis. So what’s interesting about the surgery is that it’s, you don’t know if there’s going to be, if it’s going to be a confirmed diagnosis, you kind of go in with this question. And then you also need to trust your surgeon to then remove all of it, right? To make sure they get all of that tissue that’s not supposed to be there. So it’s, it’s an interesting surgery and it’s diagnostic, but it also is treating it as well.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:17:27:

Okay. So was the hope then that removing as much of the endometrial tissue that’s not supposed to be there, make it possible for you to be pregnant or were there more treatments you’d have to undergo in order to become pregnant?


Ellora La Shier – 00:17:41:

So this was for me, in my case, we were hoping that this was it. This was the big treatment because I had gone through all the other things. And because I had that diagnosis of unexplained infertility, all the other tests had come back. So this was kind of the big treatment to hopefully help us get pregnant because of that unexplained infertility diagnosis. That was still kind of a question, you know, would this actually help us? I mean, yes, I got a diagnosis. Yes, I got it treated, but is that really the reason? I mean, just so many years of questioning why, and Sean, my husband was great. He reminded me that, you know, even if the surgery just treated the painful periods, like even if that the pain was from endometriosis. And we still had questions around our fertility after the surgery that this would be worth it, right? This big financial, emotional, phyical commitment of the surgery would be worth it to hopefully get a solution to even one of the concerns that I had.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:18:43:

Yeah. So what happened next? Did your periods become less painful? Were you able to get pregnant fairly quickly?


Ellora La Shier – 00:18:50:

Yeah. So it took a little bit of time to recover from the surgery. But we were, my husband and I were excited to start trying again. And I was nervous to start taking pregnancy tests again because I was still kind of recovering and having some irregular periods. And I wasn’t really ready for that emotional fallout of like, oh, maybe this wasn’t the answer. But three months later, we were shocked and elated to find out we were finally pregnant. And that was the first positive pregnancy test I ever had in my life. And it was felt like the culmination of such a long journey. It was such a relief. It was like, no matter what happens next, I know I can get pregnant. Like this is possible now. Like that was a huge moment. And it was so quick to me that was showing that it was the endo. That all of those years of trying all these different things and the unexplained and all that stuff. It was the endometriosis. That was the reason for the infertility.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:19:50:

And is endometriosis common in people your age, you know, who are younger, earlier in their fertility or reproductive lifespan?


Ellora La Shier – 00:20:00:

I’m not sure. I know endometriosis is more common than we think. I know it’s very understudied. I know that it takes often about 10 years on average for somebody to get diagnosed. I was lucky to have several providers suggest endo to me. That’s not the case for a lot of people. And I have some other friends that also have endo and it’s taken them years and years. Just because not all providers are aware of it. And so to get that diagnosis of endo, it’s not often talked about.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:20:33:

Yeah, it’s just, like you said, kind of dismissed as, well, you’re just… You’re having periods that are painful, you know.


Ellora La Shier – 00:20:42:

I think it folds into dismissing women’s pain. Right. And so, again, especially around reproductive pain, that’s probably why it’s not really discussed much.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:20:53:

Well, what a relief that your surgeon was able to fix the problem, preserve your fertility, and then also… You got pregnant relatively quickly after such a long, painful journey. How did the rest of your pregnancy progress? And were there any differences because of your new diagnosis or because you’d been through so many years of infertility?


Ellora La Shier – 00:21:16:

Yeah, pregnancy was a little different for me because of all those years of infertility, because I had spent all those years kind of avoiding learning about pregnancy or learning about birth. And I’m a planner. I love to learn. I love to know what’s coming next and prepare. And so when I finally got pregnant, I just felt like I was a little behind. I had a lot of catching up to do. I was very lucky that that first pregnancy was healthy, progressed normally. And when we got pregnant, we knew that again, that was kind of the first step in or next step in our journey, but it ended up going well. I think the other thing that was different for me about that pregnancy was I needed to explore my relationship to pain. Because of all those years of emotional and physical pain, I was nervous about childbirth because it’s just, I’ve never done it before. And I struggled so much. And I worked with a doula and a mental health counselor to really figure out the difference between pain and suffering. And I had really felt like all the years of the debilitating periods I was suffering through, and then being dismissed by providers and not getting the care that I needed. And looking forward to childbirth, I knew that… I made a commitment to myself that I was not going to suffer. So I was going to get the care that I needed. And the team that I was working with, the care team, my husband, midwives, doula, I knew that they would not let me suffer as well. I knew that it would probably be painful. It would be difficult. It would be intense. But I was not going to cross over into that suffering again.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:22:56:

Okay. That makes sense that you would have to really, work through those. Memories and feelings and emotion and the trauma of experiencing so much pain over so many years. So you mentioned you had midwives on your team and a doula. How did you find out about Evidence Based Birth®?


Ellora La Shier – 00:23:15:

Yeah. So the midwives actually introduced me to Evidence Based Birth®, which was fantastic. And I started reading kind of the free resources and listening to the podcast. And it was really helpful, like I said, as wanting to learn as much as possible about birth. And then when it came time to kind of choose a childbirth class, the class that’s offered locally is offered by our hospital. And my husband and I decided to work with our local freestanding birth center. So we felt like the class. That was hosted by the hospital would be focused on a hospital birth. So going through EVB for our childbirth class made sense because we get a better full perspective of what birth might be like or what we need to think about when we’re going through a birth center. And Julie Fors was amazing. She made the virtual class so engaging. We got a lot of one-on-one personalized attention, which was fantastic.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:24:12:

Yeah, Julie’s a great instructor. And I know she’s in the Illinois area. So it’s cool that she was able to still work with you, being on different areas of the U.S.. And can you describe a little bit more your experience of taking the class with Sean? Was there anything you learned that really struck you or that impacted your plans?


Ellora La Shier – 00:24:32:

Yeah. So some of the biggest takeaways were how privileged we were to be able to go through a freestanding birth center. I didn’t realize how rare that was. And I learned through the class that the practices through midwifery and the birth center are really supported by evidence. And so it was just really validating our choice to go there. Some other big takeaways were pain management techniques and the comfort measures that we learned through the EBB class. Because the birth center was not able to offer medication. So I was looking at a completely unmedicated birth. And during the class, we had a chance to go through all of these different. Comfort measures and try them out. And my husband, Sean, and I got to talk through about which ones would we think would work best for me. And we also… Kind of compared what had worked when I had those debilitating periods. So it was like kind of comparing, well, music had worked for me before when I was in a lot of pain. So let’s try music during birth. Let’s put that on the list. And those lists of comfort measures to try basically comprised our birth plan. So that was helpful to kind of think through what we were going to try in the moment.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:25:45:

So, you know, you mentioned earlier, you know, you had this complicated relationship with pain and. You know, not wanting to suffer. Is there a particular reason you chose a freestanding birth center where pain medications were not available? Or were you just thinking, well, my backup plan is if I feel like I’m suffering, I’ll go to the hospital. Like, what were you thinking?


Ellora La Shier – 00:26:10:

That was definitely a real thought. The hospital is, again, I talk about privilege, the hospital’s like five minutes down the road. So we were lucky in that sense. However, the biggest reason I chose a freestanding birth center was because of all the prenatal care. Each appointment was an hour long. So as a first time mom, I got to ask all of my questions. We got to have long discussions at every point in pregnancy. I also felt like the midwives would treat me as a whole person rather than just a mother or a pregnant person. So they would care for me in addition to caring for my baby. And that was after so many years of really having difficult appointments and difficult encounters with different providers, medical providers that had been dismissive, I wanted a different model of care. And I was willing to… Go through an unmedicated birth to get that kind of care because I knew that’s what I needed.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:27:04:

Okay. That makes, that makes sense. I like how you mentioned, you know, the personalized care and the long prenatal appointments. My husband, Dan used to joke that when our midwife would come over for one of my appointments, it was like, well, I know Rebecca’s going to be talking for an hour. And we would chat about all kinds of stuff, not just me. So, but it’s that building of that connection where you really get to know them as a person and they get to know you and you feel like a team.


Ellora La Shier – 00:27:33:

Yeah. And I think that that also made a difference looking forward, not only for the prenatal care, but looking forward to the actual birth. So in our hospital, there’s OBs on rotation. So I wasn’t going to know who would actually be at the birth. Like I really liked my OB, but they may not be there for the actual birth. So knowing that there was two or three midwives on staff and I’d have rotating appointments with them. So I got to know each of them. So whoever showed up at my birth that day, I would know them personally. And that was just really reassuring for me. Again, building that trust that I would get the care I needed no matter what happened.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:12:

Okay. Wow. I love that. Okay. So Ellora, tell us your birth story. How did it begin? What was it like?


Ellora La Shier – 00:28:21:

Yeah. So a week prior to the birth, I had some practice contractions and they felt exactly like my debilitating period pain.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:28:29:

Oh, no.


Ellora La Shier – 00:28:30:

They were sharp. They were shooting. There was no start and finish like I had been told contractions would feel like. So, you know, having gone through the EBB class, I knew what they were. I knew everything was going to be okay, but it was still very triggering. And it really had me questioning if I could get through this unmedicated birth. And that I would, you know, not go through all of that trauma again. But then the actual contractions started on a Friday. They got more consistent by Saturday afternoon. And then we were timing them by Saturday evening. And I was throughout that time, I was keeping in contact with my doula and the midwife as well. We finally called the doula to come over and she arrived at about 2 AM on a Sunday morning. And I was surprised that she got to our house and she’s like, okay, we need to go right now to the birth center. And, you know, the plan was to kind of like labor at home for a while, as long as possible. And I didn’t realize that I was that kind of far along at that point.

So when we got to the birth center, contractions were four to five minutes apart. And I asked to try the bathtub immediately because I had heard all of these good things about water and water birth and really for pain relief during birth. And so they got the tub all ready for me. And when I got in, it was way too hot. And the temperature was right. But I was so warm. I was so like working so hard, really, that it just wasn’t comfortable. And I was so surprised and disappointed because I was so hopeful for like water is going to make this big difference. And I’m a swimmer. I love the water. And so I was like really excited. And I was just like, this is not helping at all. So that was a little surprising because that was definitely on the top of my list for things to try. But after that, I labored on the toilet for a while. I labored in bed for a while. And I remember at one point I was just so exhausted. I just was like mad that the contractions kept waking me up. I just wanted to sleep. I was just like, what this be over so I could just sleep. I was so tired.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:30:37:

Yeah, because you probably hadn’t slept that well leading up to it. You mentioned Friday night, Saturday night. So are we into Sunday at what time now?


Ellora La Shier – 00:30:46:

Yeah, Sunday, like early, early morning. So like four or five, six. So yeah, it’s been been a while definitely did not sleep Saturday night at all. So it was a lot of work. And once we got to the birth center, you know, I mentioned we had kind of a list of comfort measures that we wanted to try. And out of that whole list, I was very surprised to find that vocalizing worked the best for me. And Julie was great in our class, she like gave us opportunities to practice, but it’s kind of a little weird to like, make different sounds in a class. But in the moment, it was amazing. So I’d start high in my register, and I go low, and I just kind of over and over and I’d use a comb and kind of copy that motion with my finger over the comb. And honestly, that got me through most of labor. Like it was just this one thing out of the whole list. And it was so surprising. And the other thing that was really helpful too, was herbal affirmations. So saying things over to myself, or out loud, actually. Like I can do this. And the other one that I really used was same sensation, different outcome. So kind of a callback to all that period pain that I had felt. It feels similar, but it’s going to lead to a baby. It’s going to be a different outcome.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:32:05:

It has a purpose this time.


Ellora La Shier – 00:32:07:

Yeah, yeah. And I also made a banner of affirmations that I looked at a couple weeks before birth. And I brought it into the birth center and made sure everybody knew it was there. So that when my doula was there and my husband and they were wanting to give me some encouraging words, they… Had the words that I wanted them to say, right? So they would say things, they could see this is what’s going to help her so that those words of affirmation were also used by my team as well, which was, which was great. During the birth, there was one point where the pain significantly increased, again, became that shooting, stabbing, very sharp pain. And those comfort measures that I talked about really weren’t working anymore. And the doula And the midwife thought it might be a cervical lip. So they helped me get into… Couple different positions to addressed that cervical lift, but those positions didn’t provide. Any relief either. And I was waiting for a cervical check from the midwife. And while I was waiting for her to come into the room. In my own head, I decided. If I’m not fully dilated, then I’m going to request a hospital transfer because this is, we’re getting over that line from pain into suffering. And I don’t know if I can do this anymore. But when I got my cervical check, she informed me that I was fully dilated. And so… From what I learned in the EBB class, I was like, I knew that we were too close to delivery to do anything. So I just was like, I have to push this baby out. Like, this is the only option.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:33:42:

It’s like the point of no return, basically.


Ellora La Shier – 00:33:45:

Yep, pretty much. So it was like, this is, we’re doing it. Um, I got to the great thing about being at the birth center is like I had to use a birth stool for most of the pushing. And then for delivery, I actually got to be on my knees, draping the top half of my body over my husband’s. My husband got to hold me through a lot of labor. And it was just a very like physical experience for both of us. So it was amazing to have him so involved during the labor. So my daughter was born with her eyes open, looking up at both of us. And we just sat on the floor, crying happy tears, holding her. And I still get kind of worked up talking about this, but I just kept saying. Over and over, I can’t believe she’s real. Because after all those years of not knowing why or if we would have a family, you know, and then pregnancy is a little mysterious. Like, you know, you hear the heartbeat and you feel the baby, but you still don’t really know. And it didn’t really sink in until I was holding her in my arms. It was a big deal. And then after she was born, the midwives were able to tell me that the shooting pain that I experienced during labor was actually… Because of how she was positioned in the birth canal. So they explained that typically, you know, babies are head down and they’ll tuck their chin so that the smallest part of their head will come out first. And what happened with my daughter is what they called military presentation. So her head and her neck and her spine were all in a line straight, so the largest part of her head came out first. And they explained that she likely entered the birth canal in that position, which is why I had pain for so long during labor, because it was her whole descent she would have been positioned like that. So she had a pretty big bruise on her head when she came out. But other than that, she was healthy.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:35:41:

Yeah, I think it’s an unusual presentation, but as you mentioned, it’s not only the widest part of the head, but the hardest part of the head. And so there can be, it could have been some of the stabbing pains you mentioned a week earlier could have been that part of the bony part of the head, you know, kind of like stabbing you in different places since the chin tucked is important for, you know, the birth process. So how long did you push for with her?


Ellora La Shier – 00:36:11:

I only pushed for an hour, which at one point the midwife was like, you’re a rock star. And I was like, okay, I don’t know. But I mean, it felt long, but it also didn’t seem that long compared to the whole labor process. And, she also, when they were doing all of her measurements after she was born, she had an above average sized head. So she was an average sized baby, but yeah, a large head. It was nice to, again, have a reason, right? And I did have a second degree tear, but not severe enough to have to go to the hospital to have that taken care of the midwives took care of me. And so to go through kind of that, like you said, unusual situation and both of us come out okay and healthy, I’m really grateful for.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:37:07:

Yeah. And I know you mentioned kind of that feeling of surreal, like looking at your babies is real and is in your arms. Did you have any other emotional processing you had to do after the birth? Because it was a long, long labor. I mean, not unusually long, but it was long. And then you had, I would say, an unusual amount of pain because of the baby’s position being so hard and difficult. So did you have to process that afterwards?


Ellora La Shier – 00:37:35:

I did. It was really hard for me to talk about the birth for several months. You know, my doula, my midwives, we had follow-up appointments, you know, a week or two after, and they were so excited to ask me, you know, how was the birth? How are you doing? And I just couldn’t talk about it. My doula was amazing and took some pictures for us during birth, and I couldn’t look at them for a long time. It was so triggering. And so I did. Have an appointment with, again, with my mental health counselor. And it was so helpful when I was ready a couple months later to go and kind of debrief the birth with her, especially because she was a professional that wasn’t directly involved in the birth. You know, I loved working with, you know, all the birth workers, they are so positive and they love birth. And so they’re just, they’re happy all the time. But, you know, as someone who’s not in that world, it was intense. And to be able to talk to someone else who’s also outside of the birth world to be like, yeah, that is intense. That was really validating. And It also, that debrief with my mental health counselor also took the pressure off me to say that purposeful pain, right? The pain they experienced during childbirth is somehow easier or more manageable because you end up with a baby. Like pain is pain. And the birth was hard. It was long, but I did it. And I think having that time that I needed to kind of process that was really important.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:39:08:

I think it’s important for all of us to remember that even if a birth looks okay from the outside, Maybe you didn’t seem to be having more pain than the average person, but what you experienced, you know, was real. And just because something looks smooth and not too complicated from the outside doesn’t mean the person experiencing it didn’t experience any trauma.


Ellora La Shier – 00:39:32:

Yeah. And I think it’s also, it’s kind of a both and situation for me. So I can do hard things. I did an unmedicated birth. My body is amazing for bringing a new life into the world. And I have a healthy baby. We’re both healthy, but all those positives don’t really negate. All of that physical, emotional, relational pain that I went through with the infertility journey. It’s both and situation just because it’s a happy ending doesn’t erase all of those years of struggle.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:40:03:

Yeah. If you had to do it all over again, would you make the same decisions about the birth and about your pain management strategy for going unmedicated?


Ellora La Shier – 00:40:15:

Yeah, I think if I had to do it all over again, I think I would make some different choices. I think I made the right choices for myself at the time, right? I talked about how I… Wanted the personalized care that a birth center and midwives can provide. And that’s what I needed at that time. Being a first time mom, not having gone through it with my history. That’s what I needed. Now that I’ve had that experience, having gone through that, I think I would make different choices, but I know I made the right choices for myself at the time.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:40:49:

At the time. Yeah. So Ellora thank you so much for sharing about your journey. We know the years leading up to the birth as well as the birth itself. Do you have any, anything else you’d like to share before we go?


Ellora La Shier – 00:41:01:

Yeah, I think I just want to share that if there are other people that are struggling with infertility or going through that journey right now, then it’s okay to do what you need to do, right? If you need to take a break from trying, do it. If you need to seek out a new care provider, do it. If you need to not go to that friend’s baby shower or the kid’s birthday, just… Take care of yourself and take care of your whole self. The thing that I learned was that infertility impacts. So many different aspects of your life. So really focus on again, taking care of every part of yourself. And I think it goes the same for people dealing with, they might think is endometriosis. As I mentioned, I had several providers suggest endo to me over the years, and I wasn’t ready to hear it. I wasn’t ready to do the surgery until I was ready. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret those six years that I spent trying different things. I really accepted that I did what I needed to do at the time that I was ready. And I just hope other people can take care of themselves in the way that they know best as well.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:42:13:

I think, Ellora you’ve done a great job on the podcast today of just demonstrating radical acceptance, you know, but also not being afraid to advocate for yourself and figure things out. And so we really appreciate you sharing your journey with us today.


Ellora La Shier – 00:42:29:

Thank you so much. It’s been such a joy to be here. And it really matters a lot to me because this journey can be really isolating and lonely. And I made a commitment to myself to share my story as much as possible when I have the opportunity to hope that it helps other people. So thank you again for inviting me to be here.


Dr. Rebecca Dekker – 00:42:50:

Thank you, Ellora And thanks to everyone for listening. We’ll see you next week. Bye. This podcast episode was brought to you by the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class. This is Rebecca speaking. When I walked into the hospital to have my first baby, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Since then, I’ve met countless parents who felt that they too were unprepared for the birth process and navigating the healthcare system. The next time I had a baby, I learned that in order to have the most empowering birth possible, I needed to learn the evidence on childbirth practices. We are now offering the Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Class totally online. In your class, you will work with an instructor who will skillfully mentor you and your partner in Evidence Based care, comfort measures, and advocacy so that you can both embrace your birth and parenting experiences with courage and confidence. Get empowered with an interactive online childbirth class you and your partner will love. Visit evidencebasedbirth.com/childbirth-class to find your class now.


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