Well, I finally had the chance (and time) to write out my birth story…or what I remember of it anyway. Even though it has only been 4 weeks, it feels like a lifetime ago, so the details might not be 100% accurate, but I think that I captured the essence of my experience, which is the important part.
(Of course what I have written below might have some personal/graphic information, so if you’re squeamish about birth stories you might want to skip this post…also, it’s quite long and rambling, as usual with me!)
I guess that you could say my labour technically got started on the morning of February 25th when I went in for my 38 week appointment at the IWK. My doctor, Dr. Scott, was on vacation for the week, so I met with Dr. Somerset in her place. He went over the benefits and risks of an epidural and induction with me, as well as what to expect from my labour in general. He then examined me and saw that I was 3-4cm dilated already and that my cervix was ‘excellent’, so he decided to sweep my membranes to see if it could get things moving along to avoid induction. He scheduled an induction for March 3rd just in case and then sent me on my way. The rest of the day was pretty normal, I didn’t feel any different except for the occasional Braxton Hicks contraction, which apparently I had been having for a few weeks but didn’t realize (I just thought the baby was bulging out, it was always completely painless, a nurse had to tell me I was having them and that it wasn’t just the baby.) I went out to lunch with the girls from work, came home, packed a bit more, then Dan and I went to bed. I had been feeling quite uncomfortable in our bed for the past couple of weeks, so at around midnight or so I decided to go out onto the couch to see if it would be more comfortable.
At around 2am, while still trying to get comfortable, I felt this weird thud/pop sensation across my entire lower abdomen, something I hadn’t felt before. It was almost like a giant elastic band snapping inside. I got up and went to the bathroom, and the leaking just would not stop...my water had broken. I waited a little bit before waking Dan up to make sure that it was the real deal, and when the water starting coming out more and more in gushes, I knew it was time to go. I woke Dan up, who was in shock when I told him (much like when I woke him up to tell him I was pregnant, ha!), and then went back to the bathroom to continue leaking…and leaking, and leaking. So much fluid! The contractions started shortly after my water broke, but they weren’t that bad; in fact, I wasn’t even sure if they were really contractions, even though they were coming about every 6-8 mins apart. I remember saying to Dan ‘oh, there’s one’ every time I had a contraction, but most of the time I didn’t even have to breathe through them. They were mostly painless so I thought maybe they were still Braxton Hicks contractions. Anyway, I felt ok enough to not feel the need to go to the hospital right away (I assumed at this point that I had plenty of time), so I asked Dan to make a mix CD for the hospital while we got our bags ready and I changed/brushed my teeth. I also called my mom to let her know that my water had broken and that they could head to Halifax in the morning.
So at around 3am I felt like the leaking had pretty much stopped, so we left for the hospital; the contractions were getting stronger at that point but I could still get through them with a bit of breathing and squirming. We got to the IWK, registered and went up to the Labour Assessment Unit. This part of the process frustrated me; I was obviously in labour, but they took their sweet time making that assessment themselves. We ended up staying there for about 45 mins, and during that time the contractions seemed to get exponentially worse. Now, as classy as this sounds, when the contractions were bad, I felt the most relief sitting on the toilet, so I spent most of the time in the bathroom. The contractions were coming closer together now, probably every 3-5 mins apart. Dan was great at helping me through them, so when sitting on the toilet stopped helping, I decided to use him as my focal point. He would hold my hand and look at me right in the eyes while I had the contraction, and I would breathe through it, saying ‘ok, ok, ok’ as it subsided. Finally, they let us go to the Birthing Unit at around 4am.
By the time we got there the contractions were quite painful and I wanted to just stay in the bathroom. The nurses joked that if they had let me, I would have had the baby in the bathroom right then and there. They coaxed me out and hooked me up to an IV, and the Anaestheologist came in to offer me the epidural. And, despite all my complaining and insisting on not having one, I gave in pretty easily; I knew that it was what the doctors thought was best, and honestly the pain was getting quite intense so a bit of relief sounded quite appealing. So anyway, she gave me the epidural, and it was at that moment that I had the worse contraction of all. I was hunched over so that she could put the needle in my back, and I absolutely could not move while she was putting it in, but the pain was so intense that Dan and the nurse had to hold me down to keep me from squirming right off the bed. That was the one contraction where I actually screamed in pain (I wasn’t much of a noise maker before or after that point.)
Once the epidural was in, though, things completely changed. This was probably at 4:30am or so. They hadn’t had time to check me until this point, and when they finally did, I was shocked to find out that I was 10cm dilated and they thought I could start pushing, after only 2 and a half hours of labour! The epidural was still taking effect but already I was feeling much better (and much number). By 5am the doctors were there and I was ready to start pushing. I couldn’t really feel when a contraction was coming, but I did feel a bit of pressure, so I pushed when that happened. As discussed, the doctors wanted me not to push too vigorously, so they tried using a vacuum to help him out. Unfortunately every time they turned his head into the correct position for the vacuum, he would turn back to the way he was. They also said that all his now infamous hair was getting in the way of the vacuum. They tried a few times but every time the vacuum popped off his head, so they decided to let him move down a bit farther on his own with the help of the contractions. During all of this I didn’t feel much pain, just pressure and a bit of discomfort. Dan held my hand and I used him as my focal point when I needed it, but overall it wasn’t that bad. The doctors (not Dr. Scott) decided to ‘top up’ my epidural so that I really wouldn’t feel the urge to push while we waited, and they also gave me some oxytocin to increase the intensity of the contractions to get him moving a bit more.
Between around 5:30 and 7:00am, Dan and I relaxed. It sounds crazy to say that that’s what we did, but I was in no pain whatsoever and we had nothing to do but to wait for the baby to move down a bit further. After being awake for over 3 intense hours, Dan was getting pretty tired so he caught a few hours of sleep, and I dozed as much as I could (the nurses were checking me routinely so I couldn’t really get to sleep). I was also super numb from all the drugs and literally could not move anything from the waist down, so getting into a comfortable position and not feeling ‘weird’ was difficult (this was one of the things I really didn’t like about the epidural, I had absolutely no control over my body). I didn’t feel any of the contractions either, only a slight pressure to push, probably at every 3rd or 4th contraction. I told the nurse every time I felt it and told her that I was going to push a little bit and they said it was ok. I wasn’t worried at this point, just excited to finally meet him. The doctors did tell me that if he wasn’t further down by the time they came back that they would have to consider bringing me to the OR to get him out, which made me kind of anxious, but I was optimistic that things would be ok.
At 7am the doctors came back and were really happy with the progress that we had made, they said his head was really low and we could start pushing again. After about 30 mins of fairly easy pushing (since I wasn’t allowed to push more than I would for a BM) and with some help of forceps (instead of a vacuum), Victor was born at 7:32am. The moment was beyond words; tears immediately came to my eyes when they laid him down on my chest, and I was just so overwhelmed. The moment was fleeting though, since they took him almost immediately to get cleaned and checked. Dan went over with him while I was getting my stitches (they had to do an episiotomy in order to use the forceps; disturbingly, they didn’t tell me they were going to do it, I found out after the fact when I asked them if I had torn and they said “no, we cut you.” I was NOT impressed.) Dan brought him back shortly after and we were properly introduced. I couldn’t stop crying from happiness and Dan was in giddy awe of him. He was squishy, pink, bruised, hairy and perfect. It was hard to comprehend that he was finally here.
And that’s how we became a little family.
(I don’t want to get in too much about the hospital stay afterwards, needless to say spending nearly a week in a noisy and very crowded hospital ward with a jaundiced baby who wasn’t gaining any weight while under hormonal isolation/anxiety, not to mention the fact that Dan and my parents had to move our apartment the very next day, wasn’t a pleasant experience, but we got through it and are now thriving.)
So that’s it, my birth story. Being the non-super mushy person that I am, I won’t write how it was a life changing moment, or how my love for this little being was immediate and intense, nor how I feel like life if now complete with him…but it’s all true.
Some of the clichés are true.
Until next time,