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[In most communities in Nunavut, women are sent to a larger city when they are 36 weeks pregnant. The communities they live in have no facilities or personnel for childbirth. There is no assistance given for the woman's partner or other children to accompany her. Many women give birth in the hospital with no family present ~ many fathers do not meet their babies until the mother is able to return home.]

Our home is currently in Canada's arctic: in a community where you are sent away to give birth. Knowing I wanted a natural birth with a midwife, I chose to go to Calgary, rather than Yellowknife (where most women in my community go). My aunt and uncle graciously opened their home to me (and to my husband David). The Morning Star midwives of Birth Partnership took me on, even though we wouldn't meet in person until I was 36 weeks pregnant.

My pregnancy was quite uneventful. I had morning sickness and swollen feet, and some of the other trials of pregnancy, but overall I felt good and enjoyed being pregnant. I kept in touch with Jane Baker (from Birth Partnership) by email, and looked forward to heading to Calgary. Unfortunately, there were no childbirth classes available in my community, so I read and read, and practiced some of the techniques and exercises outlined in the books. Two of my favourites were Birthing from Within and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. I read both of them more than once.

June 16th came quickly ~ the day I left for Calgary. I had mixed feelings about leaving Cambridge Bay. I was excited to be in a city, to do some shopping for our baby, and to meet my birth attendants. However, I was sad to leave my husband (he was arriving two weeks later) and I was anxious at the thought of being in someone else's house for a month and half during such a life changing time.

Thankfully, my aunt and uncle were very welcoming and I made myself at home quickly. I met Jane and Patty on June 17th (one month from my due date) and felt instantly reassured that I made the right decision. I relaxed and enjoyed the great weather for the next two weeks. David arrived on July 4th and we went to Banff the next day. We spent 2 nights there doing a bit of hiking and sight-seeing and enjoyed the pool at the hotel. It was a great way to reconnect and have some alone time before our baby arrived. When we returned to Calgary we shopped and enjoyed restaurants (things we don't have in Cambridge Bay). On the 10th David met Jane at my appointment, and that evening we went to the stampede. At the Grandstand Show, the fireworks were amazing and I could feel the baby jumping inside me when each one went off. On our way out, my aunt said, "If the stampede doesn't start your labor, nothing will." We all laughed.

In the middle of the night, at 3:30 am, I got up to use the bathroom. When I got back in bed, I felt something leaking. I ran back to the bathroom and realized my water had broken. When I returned to bed again I told David what happened. I said I was going to try to get some sleep because I knew I needed to conserve my energy - I had a lot of work ahead of me. In the morning contractions had not yet started. I phoned Jane, and she said to go about my day and to keep her posted. We went to pick up a few things we needed for the baby and some foods for when my labor started. Around three, Jane phoned and we decided to meet her at the hospital to make sure my water had broken and to start an iv line (I was GBS positive and had decided to take antibiotics). Jane hooked up the fetal monitor and we saw that I was having contractions that were quite regular, but they were still very mild. My water had indeed broken, so she gave me one dose of antibiotics and showed David how to give me the next dose at home. We left the hospital and went home; we enjoyed the nice weather, sitting out on the porch. I was excited that our baby would probably be born on the 12th of July - my mother's birthday! She would be very excited to share her birthday with her grandchild. I went to lie down around 6:00 - knowing I had hard work ahead of me. At around 8:00 the contractions started requiring more concentration. I felt my body working harder. I vomited a couple of times and tried to rest between contractions.

At 9:00 David hooked up the iv antibiotics. He then paged Jane at about 10:15 - I felt like I was in active labor. I also wanted to go to the birth center so that I could enter "labor land" completely; something I couldn't quite do in someone else's house. The car ride was a challenge (20 mins) - I prayed for relief from the contractions, not being able to move around intensified them. Once we arrived, Jane checked me: I was three to four cm dilated and the baby's head was "right there." Jane sent us on a walk. I leaned on David, moaned through the contractions, and tried to envision my body opening up. I felt very calm. I remembered what I read in Birthing From Within, "Labor is hard work, it hurts, and I can do it." Throughout labor I kept remembering this phrase. I then spent some time walking the stairs and on the birthing ball.

At about midnight Jane filled the tub and I got in. What Relief! I love water - baths and swimming - it was no different in labor. I said, "I'm never getting out!" In the water I was able to completely relax between contractions; I would fall asleep between them. Labor from this point on is somewhat a blur - like remembering a great dream. I began to lose concept of time. Jane checked me around 1:30 and I was 6 cm. I said, "I don't think I can do this much longer." She said it would be much longer. She gave me the last dose of antibiotics; David held my arm out of the water. David then got me some watermelon to eat and kept offering me water to keep me hydrated. I began feeling the urge to push - Jane checked and I was 8 cm. She phoned Patty to come and I "blew" through the contractions resisting the urge to push.

Around 3:30 I was "complete." I started pushing. Soon the baby's head was visible when I was pushing. Patty arrived, and introduced herself to David - she hadn't met him yet! I kept pushing, trying different positions, but there wasn't much more progress. I got out of the water and tried pushing while sitting on the toilet. Patty changed the water in the tub. I got back in the water at 4:30. We could now see the baby's head even when I wasn't pushing. I still felt very calm - I knew I could do this, even if it took every bit of strength I had. I asked David to get me some apple juice - I needed the energy. Finally, after lots of pushing, at 5:44, the baby's head emerged. I'll never forget that feeling of awe, looking down at his head while his body was still in me. I said, "The shoulders better not take that long." Patty reassured me that they would, "just slip right out." She was right. Before I knew it I was holding my baby boy. He was perfect - weighing in at 9 lbs 3 oz! Giving birth was the most amazing and empowering experience of my life. I wish every woman could have this amazing experience.

Winter Alsandair was born into water 2000 km away from home. Thankfully, his Daddy was present. Watching my husband cradle his son minutes after his birth was wonderful - I felt so much love for both of them. Many women in Nunavut miss this part of the birth experience; their husbands are far away, awaiting a phone call to tell them they are a father.

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2,738 Posts
Wow!! I have chills up my arm!!
What a tremendous story! It is so nice hearing
labor stories that went as planned! YOur water birth
must have been beautiful.
I love your babes name too!

BTW....I'm American, but I lived in Calgary for
a couple years when i was a babe!:LOL
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