Monday, December 8, 2014

Benjamin's Birth Story

I gave birth to Benjamin in September and had a crazy, whirlwind delivery. When I was pregnant, I obsessively read other women’s birth stories. I found them fascinating and felt like they would help me prepare for labour myself. In hindsight, they didn’t prepare me at all.. I don’t think anything can. But I still wanted to put down the events of the day in writing so I could remember it. Here goes! This this not concise in at ALL. I’m writing this more for me and future Benjamin than anyone else, so that’s why I’ve included all the details. Congratulations if you can read through this whole thing lol
P.S. My experience with midwives was amazing I would recommend midwifery care to anyone!


On Thursday September 4th, I had an appointment with my midwife. I was 2 days overdue and she suggested we do a “stretch and sweep”. She had talked to me about it at my previous appointment and I had no desire to do it because I trusted my baby would come on his own when he was ready and because I have a horribly sensitive cervix and I didn’t want to put myself through unnecessary pain. We talked a bit more about the procedure and I ended up agreeing to do it. It was painful and I cried. Like ugly, red faced, huffing and puffing crying. She wasn’t even able to do it properly because I couldn’t relax at all, so it was all for NOTHING! Ultimately she was able to deduce that I was not dilated at all, 0% effaced, and my cervix wasn’t even facing the right direction. She told me I wouldn’t be going into labour in the next 24 hours and very unlikely would it be that weekend.

On Saturday September 6th I went to get a pedicure with my mom and sister. The guy doing mine said I looked HUGE (uhh thanks jackass), but he gave me a nice strong foot and leg massage that felt awesome, so I forgave him. Later that day I went grocery shopping with my sister and did an extra large shop. I forgot to get bagels so I walked back across the length of the store to get back to the bakery section. The walk back to the bakery section completely winded me, but like the aesthetician said, I was huge and the extra 35lbs was really weighing me (literally).

When I got home from grocery shopping, I ate a bunch of pineapple and hung out with Kevin. I really felt like crap (tired and achy) so I decided to take a bath. I sat in the tub for maybe 10 minutes and it wasn’t helping me at all, so I went to bed early. This was about 9pm. I woke up on 3 different occasions with splashing acid reflux. The third time I actually ran to the bathroom because I thought I was going to throw up from coughing so hard. Kevin had been watching TV at that point but came in to check on me. I gave up on sleep at this point and asked him if we could watch Hitch. It was after midnight. I felt little twinges when we settled on the couch to watch the movie, but I had been feeling twinges for weeks, so I ignored them and didn’t say anything to Kevin. At 1:30am I was having a harder time concentrating on the movie so I told Kevin I thought I was having contractions. He was excited. I kind of was too, but the anticipation scared me. I told him at this point that I wanted to wait until at least 6am before calling the midwife.

Side note:
In my previous appointments, I had said I would like to try to have a natural (drug-free) hospital birth. I had also said I would like to labour in the comfort of my home as long as possible. The midwives said that was fine and waiting up until 7cm was safe. After that point it’s hard to relocate because then you’re starting the transition phase of labour, which is the shortest, but most intense, painful part. They told me if I hadn’t asked for an epidural by that point, that I would by the time I reached the transition phase. They said that most women will react pretty strongly to the transition phase – crying, vomiting, diarrea, etc. Needless to say, I was not looking forward to it, but I really appreciated my midwife’s honesty during that conversation. While I like to be mentally prepared, NOTHING could have prepared me for labour.

So back to the story, I pulled out my big yoga ball and was rocking back and forth on that. By 2:30, I was surprised by how much pain I was in. Things got pretty crazy after that. At the beginning of each contraction, I would literally jump up and run from room to room wailing/screaming. My cat was freaking the F out. I’d jump in the tub (I hadn’t drained the water from earlier) and back out again. I felt like I couldn’t get ahead of the pain. Kevin tried timing my contractions but they were all over the place. At 4:30am, I threw up and Kevin called my midwife. My secondary midwife (Esther) was available so she said she’d make her way over. She got to our place at about 5am. I was on the bed, naked, on all fours, rocking back and forth in the middle of a contraction when she arrived. I immediately said, “I’m going to need to go to the hospital as soon as possible to get the epidural!!” She said that was fine and she’d have to check me first. She did an internal exam (which was painful… ugh damn cervix!!) and her face said it all. I didn’t even need to hear her say, “You’re barely dilated…” I was crushed. Stella, my primary midwife, had told me at an earlier appointment that women generally dilate a half centimetre every hour. Esther didn’t tell me how far dilated I was and I didn’t ask, but I knew it was less than 4 because that’s how far you need to be to be admitted to the hospital. Later on she told me I was 2cm when she checked me.

So then Esther sat on the side of the bed and told me to lay down on my side. She’d put her hand on the top of my belly when a contraction would start and would coach me to say “whoooooooooo. whooooooooooo. whooooooooo” and then would let me know when the contraction had reached its peak. I found her presence to be extremely comforting. Kevin was trying to rub my leg while Esther was there, but I didn’t want him to touch me at all lol. I can’t really explain why I found Esther to be so comforting, but she was authoritative and caring and she’d gone through labour herself before so I really felt like she could help me through it. She coached me through contractions for about an hour, then said she was leaving. She said to call her in a couple of hours or if my mucus plug came out or if my water broke.

After she left I tried to take little cat naps between contractions but it was so difficult to rest. I ended up getting up and sitting backwards on the toilet. At 7:30am I noticed I was bleeding and I was SO FREAKING EXCITED. I never thought I’d be so excited to see blood, but it meant progress and meant that we could call Esther back! Yay!! I’d barely even processed the thought before another contraction started and I heard a huge SPLASH in the toilet. It legitimately sounded like someone dropped a brick in the toilet bowl and there was splash back all over the toilet and floor. I yelled out to Kevin that my mucus plug came out and my water broke and that there was meconium in the water. Note: there wasn’t meconium in the water. It was super murky looking because I’m gross and hadn’t flushed the toilet after my mucus plug came out lol.

Esther told us to get to the hospital and she’d meet us there at 8am. We live just over 1km from the hospital and can see it from our condo, but it took us over half an hour to get there because my contractions were extremely intense after my water broke and I couldn’t help but push. Every time a contraction would start, I’d have to stop and press up with my hand. I’d been told that pushing before you’re 10cm can cause your cervix to tear so I was freaking out inside. In my head I thought I was 4-5cm dilated and all that kept me going was knowing that I was going to be at the hospital soon where I could get an epidural because if it hurt this much already, there was NO WAY I was going to make it through the transition phase drug-free.

When we arrived at the hospital, Kevin parked the car in the ER lot and we rushed through the doors. I had a contraction in the ER waiting room lol I seriously felt like I was being ridiculous but it was so painful. I had my dress hiked up around my waist, my hand pressed upward on my crotch, while I was on my knees screaming in pain. (I’m laughing while I’m writing this, but it was super intense at the time). A nurse came out to check out what was going on and told us how to get to Labour and Delivery. We ended up taking a wrong turn and another nurse found me  (I kid you not) shaking and trying to break through a set of locked doors like I was the Hulk. She said she’d get us a wheelchair and I said I didn’t want to wait and could we please run there if you don’t mind??? When we got up to Labour and Delivery, another nurse came up to us and immediately was like, “They didn’t give you a wheelchair?! Hold on!” She grabbed a wheely office chair, told me to sit down, then ran down the hall dragging me on the chair behind her while I was wailing and knocking into the walls and carts in the hallway. We must’ve looked ridiculous but I didn’t care.

When we got to the room (at 8:12am) I could barely keep my eyes open. I noticed a few women I didn’t recognize and I said, “I have a midwife! Where’s Esther??” She said, “I’m right in front of you. Open your eyes” lol I didn’t realize my eyes were closed. I hopped up off the chair and said, “I’m going to need that epidural right now!! What do I need to do?” She told me to get undressed and get onto the bed so she could examine me. I stripped down in about 5 seconds and while I was doing that I told Kevin to go pay for a parking pass because I didn’t want to get a ticket or have our car towed. LOLOLOL! He obediently ran out of the room. Not even 20 seconds later, Esther takes one look at me and says, shocked, “omg you’re crowning!! The baby is coming NOW! Someone get Kevin back here or he’s going to miss it!!” I couldn’t believe I’d gone from 2-10cm in 2 hours. I’d just sent Kevin to go pay for parking. They were telling me the baby was coming RIGHT NOW. And there was no time for an epidural. Esther gave one of the other midwives (who had just finished attending another birth) her phone and they called Kevin and told him to get back ASAP. Poor hubby… he told me later he ran back through the hospital as fast as he could. All I was thinking when I started pushing was, “If Kevin misses the birth of his child because I told him to pay for parking, he will never forgive me!” He got back to the room just as I started pushing. I had one midwife on each side of me and I had one foot resting on each of their hips. Pushing felt AMAZING. The relief I felt once I was able to start pushing was fantastic. Three contractions in and Benjamin was born! It was 8:22am, 10 minutes after we arrived in the room. I didn’t know it at the time, but his cord was wrapped tightly around his neck so they had to cut his cord when only his head was out. And then he did a poo-splosion all over me on the way out. Because of this, they took him away to examine him for a minute. I was overwhelmed by the amazing relief I felt when he came out and there was no more pressure - I just fell back in (no joke) complete bliss. When Benjamin let out his first cry that’s when I realized they’d taken him to the examination station a few feet away and I just lost it. I started sobbing uncontrollably. The experience was so amazing. Esther put him on my chest and he immediately found my nipple and started sucking. I was surprised at how strong his latch was. Kevin called our families at this point to tell them we had the baby. They were all so shocked. We had agreed earlier that we wanted it to just be me and him at the hospital and I’m so glad we did. As it turned out, we barely made it to the hospital ourselves so we wouldn’t have been able to have our families there even if we’d wanted them there.

When Benjamin was born, we were still deciding between two names. Naming a person is HARD! Ultimately we ended up naming him Benjamin Joseph. He weighed in at 8lbs 8oz with a head full of hair and dark grey eyes. The whole time I was in labour I kept saying to Kevin that I wouldn’t be able to have another child because it was so painful. Then literally the moment he was born I thought, “That wasn’t so bad! I could totally do that again”

And about the drug-free part… I’m happy I got to experience a drug-free birth. Even though I asked for an epidural a few times, I wasn’t able to get any kind of pain relief – not even a Tylenol! I had a difficult time getting ahead of the pain and when we were on our way to the hospital, the thought of pain relief via epidural is what kept me going. Little did I know this guy was already making his way down. If I can make a comparison, it’s like running a marathon and feeling like you can’t make it, but the finish line is just around the corner. You just can’t see it. Also, birth was so incredibly different than I thought it would be! My recovery was slow as molasses, but I felt so great immediately afterwards. Also, we packed a hospital bag and didn’t even open it lol. I thought I would be walking during the contractions and using the whirlpool tub, but as it was, I didn’t even get a hospital gown LOL I just delivered naked with the midwives holding my legs. I even packed my DSLR, but the whole thing was over with so fast that we didn’t get any labour photos at all!

Hopefully my story helps someone out there, or at least entertains a few :) If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section down below!
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