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I’ve been meaning to journal our Niall’s birth story since his birth 4 days ago (finishing it has taken over a week and then some), before the memories start to get hazy and I forget the little details but it keeps getting sidelined as we’ve been lucky to have oodles of guests (keeping Harper happy and occupied). Every spare minute in between has been spent nursing the kids, staring at and cuddling up with Niall, attempting to get out of the house once in a blue while I have the extra hands while Matt is home and getting the far too few hours of sleep we’ve managed so far. This is completely self-indulgent and probably horribly long (I mean REALLY REALLY LONG) but I need to set in stone all the little moments on the day of his birth as I’ve learned that they tend to fade the recesses of my memory far too fast.<br><br>
My pregnancy was the easiest of the three and other than him staying breech for longer than mommy would have liked it was pretty uneventful. As with both previous pregnancies, there were no glaringly obvious signs that labor was imminent in any way, just the little things you can note only in retrospect like tons of Braxtons Hicks and increased anxiety about having everything ‘ready’. I FREAKED OUT when I hit 37 weeks and my long ‘to do’ list had far too few checkmarks in the left column – wasn’t I a month away from my due date only a week prior???<br><br>
So started our mad flurry of preparation….The weekend I was 38 weeks had us ordering our birth tub (ummmm, just a tad late!), picking up birth supplies, attempting to finish the playroom downstairs (still a work in progress), preparing and freezing meals and the crazy banalities like vacuuming under the fridge and cleaning the bathrooms with a toothbrush, disinfecting doorknobs and the like (I kid you not, and if you knew me you’d know it’s the first time these things have ever been done quite so thoroughly – being pregnant with a boy had made me borderline pathological, it seems!).<br><br>
On September 24th our birth tub for delivered and I closed the last page on my Hypnobirthing book (I am a VERY bad, bad Hypnobirther that did little practice) and turned to Matt and said that our little man was finally allowed to make his appearance. My mom was convinced he was going to arrive that day after we’d spent the day doing the same ritual as Harpers birth day – going to my midwife appointment in the morning, shopping at the quaint little bookstore next to the clinic, picking up my favourite coffee of all time at this roasters in the middle of nowhere and having a leisurely lunch (as leisurely as it gets with a toddler in tow). That day turned out not to be THE day, much to my mom’s chagrin (so we planned to do the same the following week when my next appointment was scheduled) and I got in two days of belly rubbing, connecting with Niall completely relaxed, practicing my hypnobirthing techniques before the morning of September 26th.<br><br>
I woke up when Matt got out of the shower and ran to pee and felt a heaviness, kind of like low period pain but I blamed it on my lovely UTI that had started the day before. I was shocked to see some bloody show and knew this meant something was happening and we might be in for an exciting weekend (I’d gotten show the day I’ve given birth to the girls). I had just crawled back into bed when I heard Matt and Harper coming into our room. While nursing Harper I had two decent contractions about 20 minutes apart so I asked Matt if he could postpone leaving for work for ½ hour to an hour in case they kept up (I was terrified that he’s just fall out in minutes once things got going as my labor with Harper was only an hour and a half).<br>
My mom showed up at our house at around 8am, after dropping Morgan off at school (they’d had a sleepover the night before) and she had planned to take Harper out for a couple of hours. She’d been such a godsend in the month prior, taking Harper to the park, pool, outings several times a week so I could rest and get stuff done around the house. She already been on my case since the midwife appointment to get the show on the road and was excited to see that Matt was still home. She walked in the door; we explained that things were starting slow and so ensued the frenzy of her and Matt running around the house like seriously crazy people. I watched, totally amused, from the dining room table while eating some toast and having a cup of tea.<br><br>
I called Kristen (my midwife) to her a heads-up, as she’d asked me to because of my previous quick labours. She asked if I thought she should rush over and because the contractions were about 8 minutes apart at this point and totally manageable, I told her to take her time. She had something to drop off at the clinic and said she’d stop by on her way back, in about an hour.<br><br>
I played with Harper and got her dressed while the crazies kept at their ‘preparing’. Kristen showed up around 10 and gave me a quick check – my first internal this pregnancy and said that I was around 3ish cm and about 50% effaced but really ‘squishy’. She had a home visit scheduled in the area so I sent her off with a promise to A) call the SECOND things picked up and B) to get walking/moving around.<br><br>
After Kristen left and the reality that we’d be meeting our little man in the next day or two started to sink in I quickly tired of the crazies and gave them strict instructions to be more relaxed and soothing. I asked Matt to grab my labor music from the basement (a LOT of stuff was still in boxes from our renos) and he couldn’t find it – ack!!! I dug through the CD’s we could find (circa my high school years) and settle on a Celtic relaxation CD. Had a good belly laugh as Matt skipped around playing ‘air flute’ – which also brought on a good contraction.<br><br>
My mom decided to take Harper to the toddler park across the street for a bit so Matt and I could go for a walk. We talked to our neighbour, George (home sick from work) for a few on the step before heading back in the house. I didn’t feel like getting changed out of my PJ’s so I baked muffins (Kristen’s fave blueberry ones) and figured because standing on the ceramic tile had been giving me great contractions over the past couple of weeks it’d be just as good as a walk. I got part way into making them when I realized that we were out of milk…and blueberries. My contractions had been slowing down a little and I had a few longer gaps so I sent matt to the grocery store. Our street, and the park were completely deserted (other than George the neighbour who’d already seen my fugly floral PJ ensemble) so I threw on Morgan’s croc sandals and headed over to the park to see my mom and Harper. I thought chasing Harper all over the structure and going up and down the slide with her might help speed things up and it did – I had three great, strong contractions a few minutes apart. Matt pulled into the driveway a few minutes later so I headed back over to hurriedly finish the muffins but the contractions slowed down again. I guess Niall was listening that morning when I told him to come slow!<br><br>
Matt had gone to visit Harper for a few when I got to the end of my recipe and realized that, while he’d managed to grab a dozen other things at the grocery store, he’d forgotten one of the two things he’d gone for in the first place – the blueberries! I stuck my head out the door and asked him to run back over, in the meantime I called Kelly (my bestest friend) to chat for a few and bounced around on my exercise ball and did some squats. My sister also called, I filled her in on our morning and told her to take her time making her way over, she’d just finished work at noon and wanted to shower. Kristen was going to call at 2pm to see if she should cancel her 4 o’clock appointment and I, at least, wanted to have some progress to report. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Not a single contraction for the next hour. I couldn’t believe I’d stalled after the freight train labours that I’d had with the girls.<br><br>
I pulled the muffins out of the oven and had a REALLY strong contraction, it made me double over – it was now 1pm. Not wanting to be an alarmist after our slow morning, I waited until I had 3 more, 4 minutes apart (while having my mom or Matt dig their fists into my lower back) and leaning over the kitchen counter before I started giving orders. I sent my mom, with Harper, to pick Morgan up at school after having Matt call them, called Kristen and tore off upstairs, peeling off clothes on the way so I could jump in the tub. Again, I hadn’t needed to rush but how was I to know??<br><br>
Kristen and Marie-Eve (student midwife) showed up first and went about setting up and then checked me (5cm and 80% effaced), followed by my sister (also Kristen – but Auntie Kissy to the kids) and then my mom came in to check up on me before heading downstairs to watch Harper so Morgan could come up. Mom asked how I was doing to which I replied an emphatic ‘GREEEEEEEAT’ (she’s always really emotional when seeing us in pain) and she said ‘oh, good’ through streams of tears. We had a good laugh at her expense.<br><br>
Despite not practicing my Hypnobirthing techniques very well in advance, I was astounded at how much they were helping me! I was so bizarrely calm and felt like I was truly working with my body during contractions and was better able to rest in between. When a contraction would begin I could feel my entire body tense in response but the breathing/relaxation and talking to Niall (in my head) immediately lessened the pain to completely bearable and easy to get through. I felt more in control that in any other labor and so centered and peaceful. Between contractions I was eating Arrowroot cookies (the only thing I wanted) and drinking gallons of water. Thank goodness for my wonderful hubby, he spent half my labor running, to empty a bit of the tub and put some cooler water in, back and forth from the bathroom getting cold cloths, holding my water glass so I could drink and just being his generally calm and soothing self – I couldn’t ask for better!<br><br>
By 3 o’clock I hadn’t progressed much and my contractions were starting to space out again. Kristen said that because there was lots of fluid between Niall’s head and my cervix (she could still move his head around quite easily) that there wasn’t enough pressure to have things move as quickly (I wasn’t complaining). She suggested breaking my water which she was sure would make him come REALLY quickly. I wasn’t so sure that’s what I wanted at that point, things had been going so well and my only wish for this labor was to have a transition unlike my previous two – fearful and panicking…Sharon, the second midwife came in at this point when I was discussing my fear that we’d break my water, things would become immediately unbearable and I’d lose whatever ‘zone’ I’d been able to work myself into. Sharon agreed with Kristen that rupturing my membranes was the best course of action and said that I would get to ‘that point’ eventually anyways. They were both trying to convince me to get out of the tub and walk around, get on the exercise ball or toilet etc.<br><br>
I was more than a little annoyed that I was feeling time pressure from the midwives, especially when things were going so well but as per usual, I didn’t want to be combative (gotta stop doing that!) and instead asked for some privacy with Matt. Everyone left the room and I started finding the contractions tougher to get through, probably because I was weighing options in my head and was annoyed at the midwives (but also wondering if I shouldn’t be doing what they suggested). I sat back in lotus position in the tub and worked at getting centered again. Immediately they got even stronger but were spacing further apart. The idea of this going on for several more hours seemed much less appealing all of a sudden so I asked Kristen to come in and break my water. I jumped out quickly and laid down on the bed and asked her to be quick and was getting increasingly annoyed with every contraction that it was taking so darned long for her to get stuff together (probably not long in ‘real time’ but it seemed REALLY long to me)! All I wanted was to get back in the water, I felt so much more out of control when I was out – much like last time and the only position I could find that was even mildly comfortable was on my side, and it was hard to concentrate on relaxing knowing that I would have to be uncomfortable anyways in a minute. Despite trying to be calm and comforting I could see it was starting to wear on and worry Matt that things were getting harder on me. Kristen tried through 3 contractions to break my water (and me getting more and more angry at her and repeatedly telling her to stop) to no avail. My water just didn’t want to be broken and now I was worrying that they were all going to pack up and leave me to labor on our own for a while longer. Kristen stepped out into the hall with Marie-Eve and Sharon to ‘discuss’.<br>
I was determined, at this point, to get the show on the road and to re-find my ‘zone’ before transition hit (and I knew from my cranky demeanour that it probably wasn’t too far off) so I headed into the bathroom with Matt and sat backwards on the toilet – resting my arms and head on the back (the cold porcelain felt AMAZING). That small space, alone with Matt and his reassurance was all I needed to regain focus. When Kristen popped her head in to check on us I told her I wanted her to try rupturing my water again (ONCE THIS TIME!) so I returned to the bed and the second I laid down it broke on its own! It was such a tremendous relief of the pressure I’d been feeling since getting out of the tub but I knew what contractions were about to feel like without the comfort of my tub so I practically dove back in from across the room!<br><br>
I was right, the next contraction hit and if I hadn’t already been on my knees it surely would have brought me to them. This is my proudest moment of the day, mostly because it had been my one hope, that I would make it through transition without the cursing like a trucker and panic that had been my previous ones. I stayed completely centered and calm, talking softly to my baby, and was able to look up in between contractions and talk and laugh! I’m still in awe of how well the ‘techniques’ I was using worked and only wish I could have come across them sooner!<br><br>
When the urge to push hit I was in the oddest conceivable position, hanging on with one hand to the side of the tub and pushing with the opposite foot for counter pressure – I looked like a water skier without the skis (and, well, not above the water). When his head emerged (3 contractions later) things got scary really quickly and I wonder if it’s because of the position I’d been pushing in…<br><br>
I never felt another contraction to help me push him out which was odd – I got more concerned as I waited a few minutes. I found out later that his shoulders were coming out completely straight and not sideways as they should have. I tried squatting but it did nothing and was then asked by the midwives to get on all fours (they hadn’t been able to get a good heartbeat reading because of my weird positioning for too long for their liking ) and I could see that they were a bit unnerved as well – which only furthered my own fear. I was told that if he wasn’t out in a couple of minutes I’d have to get out of the tub! Moving around with a head out my va-jay-jay wasn’t hard enough, I couldn’t imagine scaling the side of the tub so I pushed as hard as I humanly could (felt so weird and was so difficult without the contractions as a guide) and Kristen pulled him out. I grabbed him immediately through my legs and was relieved to see that his eyes were open and blinking despite not breathing right then. They clamped and Matt cut his cord very quickly and it took a good minute for Sharon to get him suctioned and breathing. It was all so surreal, I apparently seemed calm to everyone else but was screaming on the inside for what seemed an eternity. His cry was the best thing I’ve ever heard in my whole life and the couple of minutes he wasn’t in my arms felt like forever. I tried to nurse him right away but he was more interested in taking in his surroundings (the myriad of faces leaning over him and talking). Both sisters cuddled up beside us to check him out and I was surprised at Harpers reaction – his crying was REALLY bothering her, she looked so distraught, and she kept petting his head and saying ‘it’s okay, it’s okay’ over and over again. She then looked up at me, patted my belly and exclaimed ‘Baby’s OUT!’ which had us in stitches…<br><br>
Despite his quick and malpositioned arrival, I managed not to tear (but had plenty of bruising, swelling and superficial trauma to make up for it) – nothing that sitz baths and that lovely peri bottle didn’t cure in that first week. Within two hours I was downstairs having dinner with everyone who’d attended as well as the grandpa’s and my sister’s boyfriend. When the midwives were leaving they told us that our neighbours were congregated outside in lawn chairs waiting for news so I sent Matt out to fill them in – In retrospect I probably should have gone out and held him up – a la Lion King – we were just too comfy and still enjoying our first moments together with our families. Matt returned with food and gifts - I never want to move!<br><br>
I feel like the day was perfect, even the imperfections, and I don’t find myself questioning anything or wishing I could re-do a single part, which is a new experience for me. September 26th was the beginning of my son’s life with us, but also the end of pregnancies/family planning for our family and I’m hyper aware, more so this time than after the births of the girls, how quickly all of this time seems to be passing. Just a couple of weeks ago, as I sat nursing Harper (incidentally for the last time before Niall made us a nursing trio) I kept thinking how much of a baby she still was (and she is) but with the two of them lying together in my lap over the last couple of weeks it’s so unreal to consider how much we’ve been through in the last two years and it’s hard to imagine or remember what life looked like without our kids. I’ve done a good job, I think, in savouring every minute with Harper but I feel myself being so much more aware of it with Niall. He’s two weeks old already?!?!?! Every minute with him (and the girls) is so urgently special and I couldn’t feel luckier than I do in this moment. More than once I’ve caught Matt’s eye across the room, over the madness of Niall’s crying, Harper and Morgan singing/dancing, the excited chatter of our families and friends and it’s almost too overwhelming and beautiful, this sense that all is exactly as it was meant to be and we’re finally all together, our family of 5.
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