[I already posted this on my Facebook profile but I thought I would share it here as well...]
DISCLAIMER: This is a birth story, which means I'll be sharing some body and birth related details which may not appeal to everyone. Don't read ahead if the idea of a woman giving birth freaks you out or if you don't like the word "placenta", etc etc. Thank you. Also, I apologize for my gross overuse of parentheses, it's a writing sickness that I have and cannot cure.
It's hard to know where to begin with this story…if I were to read what I'm about to write on someone else's blog I'm sure I would scoff at it and say 'no way, that's crazy!', and think that it was something that could only happen to someone else and NEVER to me. It's too extraordinary for my very ordinary life, but I guess sometimes the Universe surprises you to keep you on your toes, and that's definitely what happened when my daughter, Violet Marie Flynn, decided to enter the world.
I'll start by saying that I had a very uncomplicated, uneventful pregnancy. It was about as normal as normal could be. The only thing that was strange about it was that it lasted so long! With Victor (and yes, I will be comparing this story to Victor's, which you can read about here), he came 1.5 weeks early after stripping my membranes, so being 40 weeks pregnant was a new thing for me. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for about 4 weeks (although looking back they may very well have been my version of early labour!), and for the last week or so of my pregnancy, I was slowly 'unplugging' (people who have given birth know what this means), but it seemed like no matter what I did, she was not budging. I gardened, picked Victor up, painted, washed floors, lifted boxes, and went about my life, which was a stark contrast to my 8.5 weeks of bed-rest, don't-do-too-much-or-your-heart-will-explode pregnancy with Victor. Besides a few aches and pains, and the inability to get comfortable when sleeping, I felt fine.
I did manage to get to sleep on Thursday, September 22nd, but at around 2:30am I woke up to the familiar feeling of a contraction. It was like a Braxton Hicks but a bit stronger and after having 2 or 3 in a row, I woke Dan up. We laid in bed and timed a few more, then decided that we should get up and get going, since we didn't want to risk not getting to the hospital in time (ha!) Dan was in a bit more of a rush than I was, and he even said to me "you're probably further along than you think you are", and I said "well I'm sure that we have at least an hour!" (again…ha!) Anyway, the contractions were definitely stronger than the ones I had in the early hours with Victor; it was different too because my water hadn't broken (with Victor it did before the contractions started, like on TV). But, like with Victor's labour, I found that the most comfortable position for me was to be sitting in the bathroom, on the toilet (classy, I know). So I was in the bathroom most of the time while Dan packed and got Victor ready, and I was already not looking forward to the drive, even just to my parents' place. I was trying to breathe through the contractions and for the most part I managed, but it was definitely more painful than with Victor, which made me a bit anxious and tense (though I tried to appear calm).
Once we got Victor all packed up (poor baby, I always feel so bad when we have to take him anywhere late at night in his PJs), we headed out for Sussex. On the way I had a few more contractions that were definitely getting stronger and stronger, and as I squirmed around in my seat, I thought 'oh god this drive is going to be torturous'. I swore a lot and tried to breathe through it but I don't think I was masking my pain all that well, because Dan was very quiet and getting more and more nervous with every contraction. About 5 minutes outside of town, I felt a weird little popping feeling and my water broke (but it wasn't a huge gush like with Victor). Immediately after that I had a few more contractions but they had changed to something completely different; instead of a pain in my lower abdomen (where the baby was), this was more of a burning feeling 'down below'. It was weird and I didn't know what to make of it. I even said to Dan 'it's burning and I don't know why', but I figured it was just a different kind of contraction that I didn't have with Victor. Anyway, it was unpleasant and it made my dread over the drive to Moncton even worse.
So we arrived to my parents' place and I told Dan that I wanted to go inside to change my pants (and to go sit on the toilet a little bit, to be honest), while he went across the street to get gas (we should have been more organized, but of course we weren't…actually I had just packed my bag for the hospital the day before and had put it in the car 'just in case'). We brought Victor inside and my parents were there waiting for us. I went upstairs to the bathroom and sat for a bit through a few more contractions, but after about 2 or 3 of the burning ones, it got MUCH worse. I happened so, so fast (looking back, it was probably transition). At this point it was about 3:10am or so. I could barely move and actually had to get on my knees for one of them. It didn't feel like a contraction at all, it was just a crazy feeling of burning and PRESSURE. The pressure was so strong, I felt like I was going to break in half and was actually using my hands to hold 'myself' in (again, looking back, I was actually holding her head in). My mom came upstairs to try and help me through the pain (she thought that maybe it was in my back but it wasn't), and Dan got back shortly after and came up to see what was going on. At this point the pain was pretty overwhelming and I told my mom that I didn't think I was going to make it to Moncton and asked her if we should go to the Sussex hospital instead. She said that they couldn't do anything for me and would probably just put me in an ambulance to bring me to Moncton. All of a sudden I felt really panicky and scared because with the pain I was having, I couldn't imagine being stuck in a car for 45 mins. Dan saw how bad it had gotten while he was gone and he started to get panicky too, so he was trying to rush me, saying 'come on, come on'. So he went down to the car to get it started and I tried to make my way downstairs, but it was just so bad at this point. I tried to suck it up and I tried to be brave but inside I was all nerves.
And this is where it gets a bit crazy…
I got outside onto my parents' deck and walked down the stairs onto their driveway (which, by the way, is paved and actually cobblestoned in one section, so it's not like it was on a dirt patch or anything). Dan was in the car waiting for me, so he saw when I stopped and leaned over onto my mom's car. He got out to come help me, and saw right away that something intense was going on. I don't exactly remember how it happened, but all I know is that I stopped, leaned, and this huge rush just overtook me; I think that I pushed, because I just couldn't stop it at that point, but it could be that I didn't push either, I don't know. I felt something come out between my legs and knew right away what it was. I yelled "the head is out!". Dan came around the side of the car and saw this round shape in my pants and started saying "Oh my God" over and over again. My mom was up on the deck (not sure if she came out before or after her head came out) and Dan yelled at her to call the ambulance. He grabbed onto me and got me down on the ground (I don't really remember how), and pulled off my pants/underwear and saw what had happened. Her head and her shoulder (at least one, maybe both) were out and she was on her way. He held her head and for a few moments, we just kind of laid/sat there…which sounds weird. I had to wait for another contraction to come though, so in the meantime we just kind of checked to make sure her mouth/nose wasn't blocked and that she seemed ok. At this point I felt much better but still had the urge to push. Dan wanted to pull her out because she wasn't making any noise, and I said to go ahead and try, but after a little tug I kind of cried for him to stop (it hurt!) and we waited for the next contraction. It came, I pushed, he pulled, and with that, Violet was born. Dan took her and brought her up onto my chest. By this point my mom was outside with us on the phone with the ambulance and was describing what was going on. They told us to make sure she was breathing and that the cord wasn't around her neck and to cover her up to keep her warm (my mom had brought out some blankets and towels for me). They also told us to tie off her cord with a piece of string until the ambulance got there and was able to cut it. We knew that she was ok though because as soon as she came out, she started to cry. Her mouth and nose were clear, she was a good colour, everything was ok.
About 5-10 mins later the ambulance arrived and they took us into the vehicle, where they cleaned off the baby and Dan cut the cord. The crazy thing was that after it happened, I felt so much better…abnormally so. I was a little shaky trying to get up, but overall I just had a huge feeling of relief (both physical and mental). After a few minutes in the ambulance, we took off to the Sussex Hospital where the ER team was waiting for me. They haven't delivered or dealt with babies there since the early 90s, so to say it was a surprise/new experience for them was an understatement. They took great care of me though and helped me deliver the placenta (which took almost as long as it did to deliver her!) They cleaned me up and checked her, and we just kind of relaxed for about an hour or so. We had to wait for my dad to bring us the car seat from home (we TOTALLY forgot to bring the carseat, haha!), but once he arrived, we loaded her up and took the ambulance ride to Moncton (Dan followed). I tried to get some rest (by this point it was going on 6am and I was pretty tired), and tried to recover from the whole experience.
So that's about it…everyone who heard about the story kept saying how afraid they would have been and how they could have never done it, and while I would have agreed with them before, having gone through it, it really wasn't that bad. Sure there were moments where I was scared, and yeah, it hurt like hell for a little while there, but at the same time, I didn't have a chance to let the fear take over, because a) I was in labour and the pain was taking over, and b) it happened so fast that my brain didn't have a chance to properly understand what was going on and imagine all the terrible scenarios that could have happened. The same thing happened with Dan I think; when he saw the head come out I think that he just kind of went into auto-survival mode. He didn't have a chance to think about it, he just did it (and let me just say how proud I am of him for how he handled the whole situation…I'm not sure that many guys would have handled it as well as he did.) It was only after the fact that it kind of hit us what had happened, but at that point it was over and we were just grateful that it went as well as it did.
And now, 2.5 weeks later, I feel fabulous (I only needed one or 2 stitches, was up and about almost immediately, and had no post birth hormone dump like I had with Victor), Violet is doing great (we were out of the hospital the next day, another stark contrast to the hellish one-week stay with Victor), and everything is falling into place. She has assimilated into the family fairly easily, and despite a few jealous outbursts from her older brother, it's going well. Her birth story is one that we'll always remember and one that I'm sure will be told over and over again throughout the years.
It's my last birth story, but it's one helluva one!
(Be back soon, I feel a 'random thoughts' post coming on, just need to find the time to type it all out...)
(Be back soon, I feel a 'random thoughts' post coming on, just need to find the time to type it all out...)