I was in the hospital having just given birth to my second daughter, K. As we celebrated her birthday today I was experiencing a mix of emotions ranging from happiness that she is indeed growing up happy and healthy to a kind of sadness that time is passing by so quickly. A year ago she was a tiny lump of awesome in my belly, then vagina, then arms and now she is a huge package of walking, ‘talking’, laughing joy. Here is her birth story:
Let me preface this story by saying that in the weeks prior to giving birth to K my Dr and I agreed on a plan. Because she worked only certain days on call in the hospital, and we both wanted her to be the Dr to deliver the baby she had helped me care for, we decided that I would give birth on the 10th. I wasn’t going to be induced or anything, I was just going to make it happen. I know this sounds ridiculous, but it happened with my first so I thought I could do it again. Raspberry leaf tea and unfortunate sex made R come on the planned date as agreed upon with the same Dr so I thought I could do it again. I drank the tea but couldn’t make my husband ‘do that’ again because it was just too much to ask but we did put together a shelf together so that is the same thing. Lo and behold, 4 am came around (same time as R started her process less than 2 years prior) and I was waking up with some lower abdominal pain.
I went to the bathroom, tried to poop, but that wasn’t it and so I thought, ‘hey, maybe I am in labour’. My labour tends to progress pretty quickly so I woke M up and said that things might be starting to happen and he chuckled because it actually was happening on the day I predicted. I was a bit bummed because if my labour this time went as fast or faster as the one before, which I thought was likely, I was going to miss my Dr’s shift by a few hours as she didn’t work until the evening. Also, my mom was flying in that morning at 10:30 and she would most likely miss it too. Oh well, she was planning to be at home for R and not in the room like she had been the time before, so that was ok.
Anyhoo – back to the pain. For the first 45 minutes or so it was just pain, nothing too unbearable but we called M’s aunt to come look after R. Her husband answered the phone at 4:45am and said something like ‘so you’ll call us in a few hours when you need us?’. I said, ‘no, come now. I go fast’. Aunt V indeed made it over as I was in the shower and she got some instructions from M. I got dressed, put some makeup on (why?) and came down to say hi to V. I had to pause for contractions now and rock through them, but nothing too horrible. Maybe a 5 on a scale from 1-10. M had made me toast and a nectarine for breakfast which I knew I should eat but had a hard time choking down. As we left the house and drove down our street I realized I had forgotten my wallet – so we did a U turn which sucked and got the goods, and sped off to the hospital. Contractions were becoming increasingly painful and required some good breathing and eye closing to get through them in the car, but I could walk to the maternity ward so it couldn’t have been that bad…
We got checked in and I was about 2 cm when I was examined the first time and I asked to get in to the shower as that is what I had enjoyed last time. There wasn’t a good chair to sit on so M placed a metal chair in the shower stall for me to sit on. I was having back labour this time which was new so I spent a few hours in the shower alternating between sitting on the chair and facing the wall with my back to the shower and rocking to bring the baby down. As I stood, I could literally feel my muscles clenching and pushing the baby down little by little. M asked me around this time what my pain was at on the scale and I said about a 9. It was starting to hurt like a mother and I was starting to make some pretty good groaning noises. With R I had used anitnox (the lovely tanks of gas that just help you relax between contractions) but this time I was trying to use no pain meds to get me through it. M had to pause to make a call to our good friend P so she could pick up my mom. P is an exuberant person and clued in to the fact that M was calling from the shower in the hospital and I could hear her over the shower noise and through the phone which was not on speaker express her excitement. It was a pleasant break from my pain which was now at a 10. My water hadn’t broken yet, but after a few hours in the shower the nurses thought I should be checked again.
I dried off and got checked and was at about 7 cm and did some more breathing and moaning on my side in the fetal position. I was told I could get back in to the shower but knew I couldn’t move as this is the time they call ‘transitioning’ when you feel like your body is about to rip in half and you might puke while it happens. At this time, I started to sound like a bleating lamb but was reassured by everyone that I was doing well and M thought so too. I was in the zone, and every touch and sound was a danger to shaking me from that precious place. I thought I had been at a 10 given what I remembered from last time, but I think I was now at a 12. It fucking hurt. I started to feel a bit of an urge to push and asked to be checked again. I was at 9 and it was go time.
A bunch of people (I have no idea who – my eyes were closed – it could have been a team of clowns for all I know) wheeled me to the smallest delivery room ever. I feel so sorry for anyone who was in the hallway at that time who had to see me get wheeled away to have my baby. I was making some ungodly sounds at that point and probably succeeded in convincing every woman in that ward, pregnant or not, that they wanted an epidural. To any of you who are out there and might be reading this, I am sorry.
We got to the room and I was checked again and was told there was just a little lip of cervix left and that if I started to push that I could move it and get this baby out. I remember with R having a distinct, overwhelming urge to push. Like when you have a big poop and your body takes over and shoves it out of your body for you. That is what the urge to push in labour feels like – but bigger – because you are pushing out an impacted bowling ball and not a cooperative poop. I didn’t feel this with K because she hadn’t descended enough due to my unbroken water, the fact that her head was facing the wrong way, and the cervix lip. So, to deal with all this, my water was broken with a crocheting needle and some Dr’s hands went in to my vagina to pull up towards the ceiling on the lip of cervix and down towards my bum to give me the feeling of needing to push. This didn’t really help. I started to push and couldn’t really get in to the groove. I was frustrated because this wasn’t what had happened last time, and my perfect labour was in danger of being not so perfect.
To add to things, K started having decels (decelerated heart beats). Drs again put their hands up my lady business and attached a monitor to her scalp to keep track of things. One of the lady Drs got in my face at some point and said that ‘this was not good. She isn’t tolerating the contractions well. We need you to get her out or we are going to have to intervene and help you do it’. Words like ‘vaccuum’ and ‘forceps’ were thrown around and I was definitely out of my zone. I was starting to get anxious, panicky and scared and just wanted people to stop touching me so I could get back in the zone and work with my body to do this damn thing! I said as much and the Drs (who numbered three at this point, with two nurses and a team on their way for the baby, just in case…) and they backed off for a few contractions so I could try on my own. No dice. Vaccuum time. In what felt like less than a minute and not more than the duration of two contractions, K’s head had a vaccuum attached to it and she was pulled down in to the correct place in the birth canal and there it was! The poop feeling! I felt the urge and with the help of the vaccuum I crowned and pushed that kid right out! Pop! I collapsed in to tears as they took her over to check her out and asked over and over if she was ok. Her apgar was 9 which was good. She was fine! I know how close we came to having a different outcome, and as much as I struggled in the following weeks to come to terms with how my labour got out of hand at the end, I am grateful that those professionals did their jobs and got me a healthy baby in the end. I only needed a few stitches – 5 minutes worth, and then it was over.
I got to see my favourite Dr later that night as she stopped in on her rounds. We were both bummed that she hadn’t been there as my Dr for the birth, but she oohed and aahed appreciatively and it was a nice visit.
See video: I have just eaten the most amazing tuna sandwhich in the world and am so swollen and tired. I observe that K has a ‘bum chin’ which is my favourite physical trait on my husband and two girls and other than that… observe the bliss.
Happy birthday to my little one.