A’s Birth Story
I was convinced my baby girl would come early. I was due June 16th and this pregnancy felt so different than my pregnancy with H (during which I was sick non-stop for 8 months, and he came 10 days past "due"); I threw up only in the mornings, and generally felt really good! I had a strong feeling you were a she. As I grew bigger and carried you all in the belly, I started wonder if I might be wrong; After all, I was a vegetarian when I was pregnant with H and had become rather carnivorous since, so maybe that’s where the difference came from?.... I went and spent $4 on cute little baby girl hats anyway.
Since the safety of ultrasounds has never been proven, and knowing that you were mine to keep no matter what issues may or may not have been present inside, we chose not to have an ultrasound at all. I was quite content to assume you were a happy, healthy baby in there. Daddy really wanted to know if you were going to be a baby boy or a girl, but I won this one.
Throughout the pregnancy with you, we were living in a one bedroom apartment and assumed we would stay there for your first year of life while Daddy finished up his last year of school. We hadn’t been looking, but sometime in April, our home came on the market and we bought it. We moved in June 1stand I stopped working then (it had been a HOT June and I was so swollen I could barely fit my feet in shoes anymore...and I was convinced my little girl would be here early. After all, this pregnancy was so different from H's)
We settled in to our new home quickly and waited for you to join us. June 16thcame and went and Grandma reminded me on one of our walks, that with all six of her babies none of us had come any sooner than 10 days past-due. At that point, I decided to resign myself to the fact that I would likely be pregnant for another couple of weeks and was happy to let go of the "any time now" mindset. We went to J&N's birthday party on the 16thand to a street party at S’s.
I was getting contractions started on the night of June 19th and continued about every 10 minutes and were strong enough that I found it difficult to sleep. I called the midwives in the morning to let them know that today would likely be the day you'd be making your appearance. H went to school with a friend and Daddy went to work, and contractions kept on coming. I sat on the birth ball listening to my “Hypnobabies” tracks and walking around the house, stopping to lean up against the fridge or wall and sway when contractions got powerful.I couldn't sit. When they grew closer together I called the midwives again to let them know things were progressing. They headed out and suggested I call Daddy to come home now too (just after lunch).
Daddy got home and got busy setting up the pool in the living room when the midwives arrived. A student midwife checked how open my cervix was and it was at a piddly 2 cms. They suggested since I hadn’t slept well the night before that I take some Gravol, have a bath, and try to get some rest; I’d call them when things progressed even more or when my water broke. Once I got into the bath my water broke. Daddy called the midwives and they turned around and came right back. (I wonder if that cervical check led to the breaking of the waters. In retrospect, I should never have consented to it.)
The midwives confirmed there was meconium present in the waters and we discussed where to go from there. There was a 96% chance that things were fine and you simply had to poop. There was a 4% chance that you pooped because you were in distress and would need deep suctioning when you were born or else things could go very wrong very quickly. They said it was protocol to transfer to the hospital in this situation and we talked about the benefits and risks involved both ways. I really didn’t want to go and asked for a few minutes to process things. We decided to move our homebirth to the hospital and I was surprisingly at peace with that decision given how much I dislike hospitals, especially when it comes to such a natural thing as birth. We matter-of-factly grabbed a laundry basket and tossed in supplies we might need if our stay extended through the night (labour lasted 36 hours with H). I insisted that they not let me “wuss out” (believing that if you don’t want drugs during labour, you shouldn’t go where they’re offered. I didn’t want to agree to something in a moment of weakness that I didn’t actually want).
We followed the midwives to a Hospital out of town, since that’s where they have the best working relationship with staff and they have Respiratory Specialists to do the deep suctioning if need be. I was expecting to tolerate the drive only by remaining on my knees facing backwards in the car, but the drive wasn’t as intense as I’d imagined it would be. I managed to keep my seatbelt on the whole way!
We arrived, entering in through the ER entrance, but the midwives used their cards and passes to get us in without the need to speak to anyone at all. We stopped once while I put my arms around Daddy’s neck to make it through a contraction as a waiting room full of people looked on, but otherwise I put my head down and stayed in my birthing fog and made it to the room without the need to speak with anyone (which I was very thankful for: no nurses, no doctors, no one new).
The midwives wanted to hook up the Electronic Fetal Monitor and I reluctantly agreed. I hated it. Even though it was remote, I hated the pressure and just the idea of it being there. I knew you were fine and didn't need a machine to tell me so.
I remained on my knees facing the back of the bed which was upright. After their 20 minutes of monitoring I conveniently needed to pee. So monitors came off, and I hid out in the bathroom for a good long time, continuing to labour monitor-free on my own. Daddy came in to check on me and upon his exit, claimed to the midwives that they weren’t getting me out of there (and he was right. I was not willingly going back on that bed with those monitors). They offered the shower in the room next door and now we were talkin’! They offered me a seat before we left the room to draw some blood as policy but I couldn’t even imagine putting up with that formality in the middle of labour, so declined and headed for the door.
The shower was nice, but labour was picking up in intensity. It was just Daddy and me in the room with the shower. I had Hypnobabies tracks playing from my phone, but they were difficult to hear and focus on. Mostly, I just kept in my own head and talked to my body and you. After a couple of hours in the shower (on the ball, leaning on the ball, hanging off grab-bars, and kneeling) I resorted to coaxing you out with the fact that there’s plenty of room to move and boobies on the outside if we could just get through this together. I pleaded with my body to “open” and did my best to relax my mouth so things could soften and open and progress to help guide you out. I eventually got little urges to push and was feeling done with the shower (I think I had used up all the hot water in the wing by that point anyway!)
We made our way back into our room. The midwives intermittedly held the monitor to my belly and I HATED it. I would instinctively push them away each time they tried. Even that little intervention pulled my head out of the birth space. Near the end of things, L said to the student midwife that she thought I might kick her if she tried again.
I stared at the Lake from the window and found the water calming. I tried to imagine each contraction as a wave. I couldn’t bear to be sitting or lying down, so I continued to labour on my knees facing the back of the bed. The student midwife checked my progress once again and claimed I was at 7 cms. The urge to push kept getting stronger and grunting/pushing through contractions felt so good. In the back of my mind I was thinking of cervical lips and trying to take things slow so there wouldn’t be any swelling or damage to work against, but I was getting tired and it felt so good to try and move you down.
I really appreciated L’s re-assurance that my body knew what to do and to listen to it, because it was saying “push!!!” and the idea that you would be here soon was very appealing to me. I didn’t hold back or worry about any cervical anything with her encouragement. All of a sudden I claimed “oh, that feels different!” and the respiratory team was called in and you were born 2 pushes later at 7:27p.m., just 15 minutes after being told I was at 7 cms.
The midwives informed me before the transfer to the hospital that with the presence of meconium, they would cut the cord quickly and take you for suctioning (neither being my Plan A: I wanted the cord to remain attached until it had ceased pulsing and for you to remain skin to skin with me). You came out screaming (which was a good thing since the concern would be the state of your lungs) so I asked if they could leave the cord and leave you where you were on my chest since you came out so lively. Apparently that wasn’t an option since the cord was cut and the respiratory team took a quick look at you. Some shallow suctioning was done and you were returned quickly to me (about 45 seconds later). So, in retrospect we probably would have been fine to have had you safely at home, but we made the best decision we could with the information we had at the time.
In the midst of that somewhere, L had said "let me see his cord" at which point I exclaimed "HIS?!?". H would be so happy to hear he has a new little brother (he had claimed if he got a sister he'd be throwing it out the window). I couldn't believe you were a boy.
It’s hospital policy to wait 3 hours before discharge, so we hung out skin-to-skin and you nursed like a champ while the midwives did their paper work. Daddy kept asking if we could go home now, so the let us sneak out a whole 10 minutes early (which by the time we got packed up was probably right on time).
H had been with Grandma and Grandpa since after school, so we called to let them know we were on our way home and asked them to put a quiche in the oven since we hadn’t had dinner. We were back home and all cozy in bed by midnight- a new little family of 4!