Ellis Paul

The birth of Ella

Posted: Jul 18, 2004 9:27:33 pm      

Hey y'all,

I was sitting before a crowd of three hundred at a workshop in the New Bedford Folk Festival, it was July fourth and my yet-to-be-born daughter was five days past her due time. My thoughts were drifting from the Karen Savoca song being sung... My daughter's missed her first curfew... can I ground her for this? Many a missed curfews will follow, no doubt, if she has any of my dna...

Sharon had had ghost contractions late into the evening the night before, so I knew today could possible be the day, but here I was 300 miles from home, singing songs to pay for the hospital birthday costs... Poppa's gotta make the bread, and I couldn't cancel.... I asked Sharon to call only if she was slipping into labor, because the day before at the festival every time the phone rang I was stricken with panic. We agreed that I would leave my phone on, she wouldn't call unless it was clearly popping time, and I would check in every hour between performances.

When the phone beeped I was in the middle of a show with four other performers... The show stopped (everyone was told before hand that I might be called out)... Sharon wasn't calling.. she was instant messaging, The crowd laughed when I explained that she had found a loop hole in our arrangement to keep me calm today... The text message read; "no emergency, just call me...". Of course I was hyperventilating in mid panic attacking anyway and Scott Alarik and the other performers told me to go check in with her... I left the stage for the lobby of the Whaling Museum... Sharon was on a beach a half hour from our home in Maine... She said,- "I talked to the mid-wife and she told me crxcxaaaarcrxcrxcaaaarcxkxkxkxkkxx"

It was static... Maine cell phone coverage is like water in a desert. I have every reception oasis on I-95 memorized from here to Boston. She was in the crackle zone. After the show I called her again and she let me know the contractions were steady now and ten minutes apart. She said the mid-wife said it would probably happen late that night or the following day, so I should stay and finish my last set. She was just going to check into our hospital which was close to the beach, just for a brief observation.

Contractions don't get you worried until they get under the six minute mark, then you start packing the car for the hospital, or calling taxis or ambulances. So feeling somewhat safe, I went to my main stage show and started warming up for the performance. There would be about thousand people there. My phone rang back stage. It was another instant message.

"7 minutes apart..."

Five minutes before I was supposed to go, I got another..

"6 minutes apart..."

I was in the middle of a crisis... a midwife crisis... I had heard about these somewhere...

Fortunately, Helene who runs the festival, with her husband Al, has had plenty of experience with this kind of thing... she was a maternity nurse. "It will happen tomorrow," she said.

I played completely out of my head and my fifty minute set was trimmed to 30-- by seven-thirty I was packing up, by 7:45 I was easing the accelerator up to eighty for the ride to Brunswick, Maine. I suddenly realized I had to get to through Boston before the 500,000 people watching the fireworks on the esplanade would be inching their way onto the highway. I eased the pedal up to ninety.

I know there are no land speed records between New Bedford and Boston. There shouldn't be. They should be illegal. It's dangerous to have records out there dangling before the competitive souls looking for a rush of adrenaline, the spark of danger, the race of a heart beat.

By 8:15 I had Boston's skyline in my view with the Blimps and copters flying above the crowd. Traffic was open and I flew through the Big Dig like it was worm hole in the sky. It spit me out across the bridge and I was sailing up to Maine. By the time I arrived in New Hampshire fireworks were popping on either side of the car. By Portland, Maine, huge displays of bright colors were exploding on both sides of the highway. It was as if they knew I was coming. I was hoping that I was going to be on time. Sharon was unable to get on the cell, so I was being informed of the progress through my sister--

"The contractions are three minutes apart... "

I was an hour away...

By the time I ran through the emergency doors, it was ten thirty. Fortunately Sharon had been given a little pain killer that slowed the process down enough for me to catch the last five hours of the labor.

Sharon was glad to see me. I was glad to see me. The thought of being reminded for the rest of my life that I missed the birth of my daughter's birth would have killed me... fortunately the worry worked it's way out through my gas pedal and there I was.

How can I help?

There is nothing more useless than a father in a birthing room. HEeeee-Hoooooo, Heeeee-HOOOO, Heeeeeee-HOooooo (that was my part, hers was blinding pain, mind numbing frustration, and agony). I played my role of cheerleader daddy with fierce courage and determination.

I'm glad I went to all those pre-natal classes, because I'm sure I would have fainted if I didn't know what was coming. Sharon couldn't have an epideral so she was going full out natural, except for a little pain killer to ease her along.

It wasn't working. She would sway against a giant birthing ball, gritting her teeth-- She got sick and lost everything inside her.

July fourth slipped away. There was relief that Ella would not have to share her birthday with cookouts, hotdogs, and drunk men lighting explosives.

By 2am Sharon was desperately in pain. She was literally begging for a c-section, and I was tempted to cave in, but she was remarkable and the three women- two nurses and a mid wife danced and swayed all around her contractions massaging and urging softly like a coven of gentle witches at a spa for pregnantly inclined. Sharon was so exhausted she slipped into sleep between the contractions.

At 3:05 the midwife check her dialation.


Suddenly, the mood changed. The coven of witches were more like the marines on D-Day, storming into Normandy. Sharon turned into a Russian olympian about to lift 3,000 pounds, focusing and pushing with great vim and vigor with each contraction. I have no idea where she found the heart or energy for it.

The head was right there just under the surface.. It looked like an alien raisin. Within 45 minutes she had the head out, and the mid wife looked over at me--

"Would you like to pull the baby out?"

I hadn't really considered that before. But there I was pulling on my child, pulling her out cleaning her up with the nurses and placing it on Sharon's chest...

Sharon said a few "Oh my God, Oh my Gods" and our beautiful little one was introduced to the planet.

Some of you know I wrote "I've got Nine Months to Fix the World" as a song for Ella, and that the world is still about the same place as it was nine months ago. But someone came up to me today and said, You did your job-- the world is always short on good people who make a difference, and you just upped the count by one."

I hope you meet my little good'un. She'll be traveling with me whenever she can. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers, and I will see you soon out on the road...


Posts: 13

Posted: Jul 18, 2004 11:28:36 pm    

Thank you for sharing Ellis!

We wish you, Sharon, & Ella the best!!

Take care,
Marty, Dianne, Alex & Leighann


Posts: 94

Posted: Jul 19, 2004 11:14:31 am    



Posts: 23

Posted: Jul 19, 2004 2:24:10 pm    

Well done, Ellis--made me cry at work. Will have to blame red eyes on luckily ever-present Houston allergies.

What a wonderful story, though, and congratulations again.


There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better. --John Kerry

Posts: 124

Posted: Jul 24, 2004 10:07:58 am    

What a beautiful story, fireworks and all....no doubt there will be many more beautiful moments for you and your family....Hmmm...I have to wonder if Sharon and Ella are going to think being compared to a Russian Olympian and alien raisin were the most beautiful metaphors you could have used!! Congratulations and best wishes for a healthy happy life to you all.


Posts: 1

Posted: Jul 28, 2004 12:43:36 pm    

Welcome to the world Ella.

Let the Games begin!!!!

John, Mimi, Ben, Leah and Thomas

Posts: 2

Posted: Aug 05, 2004 7:47:21 pm    

The first steps a baby makes, are into your heart! Good job.
Now you might soon need a binky guitar.

Hey,don't worry... it's not a total wash out. It can always be used as a worst example! :)

Posts: 24

Posted: Aug 15, 2004 1:05:16 pm    


Thanks for sharing! It brings back the memory of when I first saw my son. I remember this feeling that came over me, I had never been with someone that needed me so much. How unselfish I would have to be and that this beautiful child had now become my #1 priority. I eventually made up a song that I would sing to him at night. I don't remember all of the words (I hear there better written down) but the idea was that I had thought I knew what love was, but I never really knew love until I saw you (my son).

As a freshman in college I had to do a value speech, after a while I decided to do it on love. The love of a lover, family, friends, pets etc. I did a lot of research but in the end it was really easy to write because it just flowed from the heart. It was an amazing experience, I ended getting a standing ovation from the class. So in the song when I said I thought I knew what love was I really did. I have been fortunate to be blessed with a great family, good friends and a wonderful wife but when I saw my son a whole new type of emotion swept over me.

Anyways, I am looking forward to hearing more songs about your experience as a parent. CONGRATULATIONS on the birth of Ella, your in for a wonderful ride.

Take It Easy

Posts: 644

Posted: Aug 19, 2004 10:07:30 am    

What a story...


"Back in school I found the only written truths in bathroom stalls and telephone booths" -- Ellis Paul

Posts: 114

Posted: Nov 02, 2004 11:13:16 am    


"Never trust a prophet in a party dress" -- Ellis Paul

Posts: 1

Posted: Nov 08, 2004 6:59:20 pm    

It is nice to know the end of the story that you began last night. Ella is a beautiful name and there is nothing like being a parent. Good Luck Luanne PS Dont forget to check out those "Paul" relatives in Louisville

Luanne (not the first)

Posts: 1

Posted: Dec 08, 2004 2:12:43 am    

I don't think you will read this, but when I finished reading the story of Ella's arrival I realized she had missed the 4th and was born on the 5th of July. That was my father's birthday. He passed a few years back, but if she becomes half the individual my father was, you and Ella's mom can rest assured she is blessed with a kindness, and gentleness of spirit that few people possess. (Also a pretty good sense of humor from the sounds of it.)
Best to all of you. Maine is a great state to raise a family. I know, I'm raising mine here too.


Posts: 1

Posted: Mar 07, 2005 4:38:05 pm    

A belated though heartfelt congratulations on the arrival of Ella!! What a grand and auspicious entrance! Thanks for sharing her story. Our son, Phineas, was born 8 days after Ella and we hope he will get to hear you in person soon!!



Sophia, Thaddeus, Phineas, Melissa, & Brian

updated: 12 years ago