How can I begin to write this? I sit here, hormones raging, body riddled with pain, wondering how do I tell this story without losing control, without breaking down? I can’t. However, I know this story needs to be told. Armed with a cup of tea, a box of kleenex, and sitting on my donut pillow, I want to tell you the birth story of my sweet little baby girl.
My First Birth
This story actually begins with the birth of my first daughter, Grace. When I was pregnant with her, I researched and planned for a natural, intervention-free and medication-free birth.
My husband and I hired a doula and armed ourselves with the books and classes to help us through the process of labour and delivery.
When the day arrived my daughter was OP (sunny side up) which resulted in long and difficult back labour. I ended up taking laughing gas for a few minutes (which I stopped after I realized how much it was annoying rather than helping me). I then agreed to a slight dose of pitocin to speed up labour.
After three and a half hours of pushing, I agreed to an episiotomy and forceps delivery. Grace came out with the cord wrapped around her neck. It took a few brief moments for her to cry but she ended up being strong and healthy.
With this pregnancy, I wanted to plan again for a natural, intervention-free and medication-free birth.
Once again, we obtained the services of a doula, read more books and took more classes. I was ready to have the liberating birth I had dreamed of.
Naturally, I knew things could go differently as they did with Grace but I was putting my mind in a positive place and I just knew this birth would be special.
False Alarm or The Real Thing?
It started on the evening of Tuesday, July 12th.
My husband and I were watching television when suddenly I started getting contractions. Now I had a lot of Braxton Hicks throughout my third trimester, so I wasn’t going to get too excited. We timed the contractions and they were consistently seven minutes apart. I told my husband I didn’t want to notify anyone until we were down to five minutes. After about three hours of contractions everything stopped. I was disappointed… again. When was this baby going to come?
On Wednesday the 13th my day started as usual. My daughter and I ate breakfast and she was colouring at the kitchen table while I was busy making mini-meatloaves to freeze.
At about 10:00 am my contractions started. Three minutes apart, about 45 seconds long. Well I wasn’t falling for this trick again. I kept going about my business. However, the consistency and length of my contractions were making caring for my daughter challenging. I called my sister-in-law and asked her to come watch Grace. I told her not to get too excited… this baby had a mind of its own.
Upon speaking with my doula and my mother-in-law, I decided to call my husband and get him to come home so we could go to the hospital. My contractions were still 3 minutes apart.
We got to the hospital and I was assessed at 3 cm dilated (which was my dilation a week prior). I was disappointed but I knew we could help this process along.
My husband and I walked laps around the labour and delivery ward. Round and round we went. Nurses commented on what good time we were making. We talked, we kissed, we laughed and we joked around. At one point I reminded my husband that this was our last baby. He needed to go get snipped once this baby was born! He jested that he thought they did that down the hall and that he would be back in a few minutes.
It was a pleasurable time that we spent together. About three hours later I was assessed at a dilation of 6 cm. I was really in labour! This baby was coming!
I realized now was the time to switch gears and have the labour I envisioned. We dimmed the lights. We put on meditative music and I slow danced, squatted, lunged and laboured on all fours. Within a few hours I was fully dilated and ready to push.
I was able to have the “ultimate labour” that I had been dreaming of for all these months.
It was a peaceful, all natural, medication-free and intervention-free birth. When it was time to push, I was amazed at how my body took over. I smoothly expelled the baby. My body bore down naturally… I could not slow it or stop it. My body was doing all of the work! I was excited when I heard that the baby was crowning.
Then it happened….
I heard the OB-GYN declare that there was a situation, the baby had shoulder dystocia. I heard of this before. It is when the baby’s shoulder gets trapped behind the mother’s pubic bone and with every passing moment, asphyxiation becomes a reality.
All my reading and preparation told me that this was a medical emergency but I wasn’t panicked, everything was going to be okay. I just had to stay focused and continue to push this baby out.
However, as fate has it, my peaceful delivery turned into a frenzy.
An alarm bell went off and within seconds the whole delivery room was filled with medical staff who were shouting orders at each other, at me, and at least eight of the eleven people in the room were on top of me pushing on my pelvis, my abdomen and thrusting my legs behind my ears.
There was a moment when I froze in terror. I thought, “Oh God, my baby is going to die and I’m going to die with it.”
Then I heard my husband’s reassuring voice through all the commotion, calmly telling me that I was doing a great job and that in a few moments we were going to meet our baby. I pushed along with everyone pushing down on my body and she was out.
For a few moments everything was silent and then my beautiful babe let out that wonderful, lusty, huge cry. A feeling of relief spread through the delivery room as everyone burst into laughter, cheers and tears of joy.
That night I couldn’t sleep – I was overjoyed. I counted her fingers and toes over and over. I marveled at her thick black hair, her little nose, her beautiful rolls. All 9 lbs and 6 oz of beauty filled me with a love that only a mother could have. That deep primal love that is unlike any other love.
The following night I was exhausted. I got ready for bed at 9 pm but I couldn’t sleep because every time I closed my eyes I was thrust back into that nightmarish scene in the delivery room.
I felt the fear over and over again and was stuck in the cycle of reliving the nightmarish part of her delivery. The next day, the doctor and a psychiatry team intervened and diagnosed me with acute stress. The experience of complete peace and bliss quickly turning into a life-threatening situation had rattled me.
It’s a delicate time and I’ve been told by my doctor and psychiatrist to tell my “story” as much as possible so I can relay and relive the happy ending, when my daughter came into the world and the whole delivery room was filled with joy. Almost a week later, my body is still wracked with excruciating pain but my long-awaited and anticipated baby is here.
We went into this labour with two possible girl’s names in mind. After the experience we had, her name could be none other than Hope.