how my heart behaves

its hard to know where to start when writing about olivers arrival into this world. this sweet baby boy who stole my heart deserves to have his story written, and so i make an attempt to do so. the day i became a mother was the most amazing and emotional day of my life, yet as much as i have tried, words barely touch the experiences of that day. and while i know the series of events is not nearly as important as the experience, i want to record the arrival of our little oliver just the way that i remember it.

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i spent much of my time while pregnant preparing myself for labour. i read books, watched documentaries and spoke with family members & close friends. brian & i discussed our options and we both decided it would be best to deliver the baby in a small hospital in an outlying community with a doctor who was a general practitioner instead of an obgyn. i felt it was important to do all that i could to bring our child into the world in a peaceful, natural manner. i felt strong and ready and knew that my body was able to deliver a baby. as the end of my pregnancy approached, i enjoyed feeling my baby dance within me. i loved that we didn't find out the gender of the baby, though brian increasingly insisted that the baby was a boy.

at my 34 week appointment, my blood pressure started to creep up. by my 36 week appointment, it was high enough to be sent to the hospital for bloodwork. pre-eclampsia or toxemia was discussed, but my bloodwork came back clear and my doctor sent me to my cousins wedding and a week with my mom in southern alberta with a blood pressure cuff and good luck.

 my last photo while pregnant. 
my sister took this when i was visiting, the afternoon before my blood pressure went up. 
i had no idea this baby would be coming so soon. 
(just over 48 hours after this was taken, he was born.)

to make a very long story short, my blood pressure shot up to a threatening number on the tuesday night after my cousins wedding. two hospitals, one ambulance ride, and my husband making the 6 hour trip to lethbridge in the middle of the night later, brian & i were ordered to drive back to edmonton and go straight to our doctor. after being threatened with a possible emergency c-section, i was worried and anxious, but the car ride home with brian relaxed me and soothed my fears. we had a fun drive home, just the two of us. my blood pressure dropped and i figured my doctor would put me on the medication they had given me in lethbridge and tell me to go home and rest. it was quite a shock when we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 and by 6:00 we were being admitted into labour and delivery. in the next few hours, we met many wonderful nurses, talked with my doctor and got switched to another one. somewhere in all of the commotion, brian passed out! it was awful. he hadn't slept in almost 40 hours. thank goodness to our friends who had just given birth down the hall, for providing brian with a sandwich. thank you!

the new doctor, dr. mayo was a quiet man, who was more comfortable speaking spanish than english. he measured my fundus and discovered that i was a few centimetres smaller than at my last appointment. after an ultrasound, it was determined that this baby was pretty dang tiny, probably around five pounds. it had started to lose weight, because my placenta wasn't doing its job anyone. the baby had a normal sized head and bone structure, but a very tiny abdomen. when the doctor told us we needed to be transferred to a different hospital with a better nicu, i began to cry, and not for the first time that day. was it my fault that the baby was so tiny? would it be healthy? i couldn't help but imagine a thousand different things being wrong with our itty bitty baby. brian & i cried, but as dr. mayo walked out of the room, he put his hand on brians shoulder and said, in spanish, "tranquilo", which literally translates to "be at peace."

as i was being loaded up onto a gurney for my second ambulance ride in 24 hours, i felt like my plan for the birth was being destroyed. i was headed to a hospital with significantly higher intervention rates than the one i had planned to birth at with a doctor i hardly knew. however, i felt more calm than i imagined, and left the hospital with the good news that i was contracting every 5 minutes or so, though i felt no discomfort.

at midnight, when we were finally settled into our room, after my second ambulance ride and fourth hospital in 24 hours, we finally (and very surprisingly) felt at peace. all of the worries i had about switching doctors and hospitals abated as i looked around the spacious and beautiful room. right across from my bed, in my line of vision, was a large painting of a few flowers, big and bright and gorgeous. i looked at that painting and felt peaceful. brian sat beside my bed. the doctor came in and checked me; i was 3 cm dilated. with no discomfort yet experienced, we were ecstatic to hear this. it was the best news we'd gotten all night. the doctor then discussed possible ways to move forward in labour; i chose the slower of the two, even though he suggested otherwise. i knew that brian & i both needed rest, and in my heart, i finally knew that everything would be okay.

when the doctors and nurses left, brian & i were finally alone. brian sat in the chair beside my bed. he was leaning forward, his elbows on his knees and his chin resting on his hands. he was looking right at my belly. he was quiet and then he said, "that's ollie in there." i was surprised. we had quite solidly decided on another name if the baby was a boy. oliver was a name that we had discussed before, but we thought we would use it later. i replied, "what?" and he said, "yeah. its ollie. while i was following the ambulance over, the thought came to me that we were about to meet our son, oliver." i cried and gently touched my belly. i sat quietly and thought about the name; it felt good. we were so excited to meet him to make sure it fit.

brian & i both got a good nights sleep, though somewhat interrupted by nurses. i spent much of the night praying. i don't remember ever having prayed so hard in my entire life. with all of the complications suddenly arising in my pregnancy and possibly in my delivery, i asked Heavenly Father to please help this baby to come quickly and naturally, to help my body to what it needed to do. i told Him the desire of my heart, and that was to have a safe & natural birth.

the morning passed by lazily and at about 10:00, i was hooked up to the drip. not long after that, brians sister jenn came to the hospital to give brian a chance to go home and shower and get a few of our things. she brought a backpack with her full of food and different things to help me labour. as i was still not feeling any discomfort, jenn and i just sat and talked. she helped me to write out a quick birth plan so that nurses would know my intentions for my delivery and she filled me with love and encouragement. that time with her just a few hours before my baby came was very strengthening. thank you. so much.

brian came back at about 12:30. jenn gave us hugs and wished us luck, and she was off. at about 1:00, i decided to should get up and stretch my legs. almost immediately, i felt (and i swear i heard it, too) a small pop! inside my belly. alarmed, i looked at brian with wide eyes. then i said to my nurse, "umm...i think my water broke", while i laughed nervously. i think that was the first time it really kicked in...i was having this baby, and i was having it soon. i couldn't have been happier; i knew my prayers were being answered as my labour moved along quickly.

not long after my water broke, i started to actually feel my contractions. the pain was minimal and i felt very in control. brian & i listened to alexi murdoch as wave upon wave came upon me. contraction after contraction, they began to pick up, increasing in length and intensity. i held onto brian and we swayed back and forth, dancing to the music and moving to the pain in my body. brian was so wonderful, rubbing my back and quietly doing whatever i asked. we had a lovely nurse who kindly obliged to check the baby momentarily when needed; she never made me lay down to be monitored, so she held the doppler to my belly as i danced and swayed. this part of my labour is so hazy in my memory; it passed by so quickly, it seems. i was in my own world, dealing with each contraction as it came, heightened and then faded. the time between contractions began to decrease and i could no longer speak through a contraction; i knew things were advancing quickly.  i clearly remember gazing at the painting of the flower in my room, willing my body, vocally, to open and let this baby come safely. i felt positive and powerful.

then the shift change happened for the nurses, and our new nurse came in. she quite quickly ordered me to lay on the bed so i could be monitored. i told her what the previous nurse had been doing but she said, no, i needed to be monitored for 15 minutes straight. i explained that my contractions were becoming really intense, about 3 minutes apart and at least 45 seconds long, and asked if i could just do 10 minutes. again, she said, no, it has to be 15. already, i didn't like her. i laid down on the bed, and was monitored for 15 minutes. never again do i want to labour laying on my back...it was horrific. when i was up & moving, i felt i could work through the contraction. when i was laying down, they completely overtook me. she then said she didn't like how the baby's heart rate was dropping with each contraction, and wanted another 15 minutes. our previous nurse explained that a de-cel in the baby's heart rate with a contraction was normal, as long as it came up again quickly after. we tried to talk to the current nurse about it, and she totally shut us down. so i turned on my side, and did another 15 minutes. near the end of my monitoring, she went to turn the pitocin up. i asked her not to, saying that i felt like my contractions were strong enough and that things were moving along well. she looked at me and said, "i'm going to turn it up. you're not in very good labour." are you kidding me? i seriously could have punched her. i looked at brian and i cried. he said to me, loud enough for her to hear, "don't listen to her. you are doing great. she's lying." i remember starting to feel hopeless, and i hated the feeling. i was having strong, consistent contractions, and i thought that i was very close to the end, but now i started to doubt that, too.

she went on her break, and another nurse, loretta, came in to tell us she would be covering for the other one. brian asked loretta to please arrange for the other nurse to not come back, as we were "not jiving with her." while i was pregnant, i read an amazing book called "birthing from within." it talks about the husband being the "guardian of the birth place", and the book included a picture of a roaring lion. brian & i talked about this being his role quite often, sometimes joking that he would roar at nurses we didn't like. ha. when it came time, brian really was the guardian of my birth place. asking that nurse to leave was just what i needed; she was negative and i did not want her close to me as i brought my baby into the world. i didn't have the presence of mind to do it, but when brian said it to loretta i instantly felt more at peace.

loretta stayed with us. she was kind and funny and so wonderful. she chatted with us and made us feel more at ease. i don't know how long it was, not very long, when all of a sudden i had this overwhelming feeling like i couldn't do it any longer, like it was physically impossible. i remember turning to brian, looking him square in the eye, and crying, "i want an epidural." brian & i had discussed this situation before. i told him that there was likely to come a moment, just like this one, where i would feel desperate and ask for relief. i read that it is a sign that you are near the end, so i asked brian, in the case of this happening, to look at me and tell me that i didn't need an epidural, that i was strong and that i could do this. brian has since told me that this was the scariest moment for him, but he firmly told me that i could do it, that my body knew how. loretta, bless her heart, had actually read my birth plan. she reminded me that i wanted to give birth naturally. i am thankful to have had people around me who believed in me and my body as much as i did. i just needed them to remind me. quite instantly, i felt a very intense urge to push. loretta was busy doing something else and i remember yelling to her across the room, "i have to push this baby out RIGHT NOW!" brian says that by the way i said it and the look on my face, he knew i meant it. i hadn't been checked for hours, but loretta didn't waste time. she looked at brian and i and told us i was fully dilated. although i knew it was time, i think i was shocked to hear that out loud. it happened so much faster than i had imagined, than the doctors told me it would. 

we got ready, and with my next contraction, i started to push. pushing felt...amazing. i felt like i was actually doing something with the pain, instead of just getting through it. loretta let dr. mayo know, and he came in for a couple minutes to see how things were going. loretta was an awesome coach, very helpful in directing my pushing. brian was wonderful to have by my side, he held my hand, made sure i was hydrated, but most of all, he supported me. i felt how much he loves me as i worked to bring our baby into this world. i had been pushing for about 25 minutes, when loretta told me to touch my babys head. it was right there! i was so close! i remember thinking how incredible my body was...i was giving birth! i gave one big push, and all of a sudden things got very busy. loretta was holding the baby in and ordering brian to hit the red button behind my bed; she needed the doctor in the room. it wasn't long before numerous people were in the room, dr. mayo, a couple of student doctors, a number of nurses and some nicu staff. as soon as she could, loretta let go and our baby came rushing out, at 5:14 pm. i heard the baby cry and then brian said,

"its a boy!"

the news was repeated by the doctor, and my baby boy was placed on my chest. he cried and i cried as i realized that my baby was healthy. tiny, but healthy. there was such a feeling of familiarity as i held my baby boy for the first time; he was mine. i was in love. he was perfect & sweet, and we instantly felt that he belonged to us, that he was the baby we had waited for all along. he stopped crying almost immediately, opened his wide eyes, and listened to me & brians voices. what an incredible moment. i had imagined everything possible about this baby for the past eight and a half months and i had waited to meet this sweet spirit for even longer than that.
i knew him and yet i knew nothing at all.  

the experience of birth was incredible and empowering. labour wasn't easy; it was hard work and it was painful. but i know that i was blessed with strength beyond my own that day. i feel much closer to my Heavenly Father and i have a greater understanding of my own potential as a daughter of God. what a wonderful opportunity we as women are given, to nurture and bring into this world these sweet babies. i feel blessed to be olivers mother, to have given birth to such a beautiful baby boy.

the days that followed ollie's birth were filled with ups & downs, but one of the things i remember most happened one night when brian and i were alone with our son. we were listening to some quiet music, when a song about changing the world through our children and the things we teach them began to play. we talked about the immense blessing of starting a family and we knew it was right, that this was perfect and that oliver was meant to come in the timing that he did, and that there was nothing else we would rather be doing with our lives. we waited longer than i had expected to to start our family, but we were so blessed to have been given the opportunity to do so. i remember crying as i held my baby boy. i am so blessed.

although the events leading up to olivers birth were complicated, the experience of becoming his mother is the single most amazing and simple event of my entire life.

he was born, and he was ours. 


  1. beautiful. I'm so glad you had the experience you did... I wish I could have been there, a fly on the wall. you are beautiful & wonderful. I'm glad you are my best sister.


  2. How beautiful Lauren. Thanks for sharing such an intimate and spiritual experience. There is nothing like becoming a mother.

  3. Beautiful birth story!! When you gave your little warning about the length I was thinking.. hmmm.. do I read anyway and I'm glad I did. That was so well written and just lovely!! You never cease to inspire me oxoxo

  4. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing your amazing story. Babies truly are amazing things and the experience of how they come into our families will forever be something so special to us. Sometimes things end up being entirely different than we planned and sometimes they end up being just what we wanted, but it doesn't really matter. I've had both and as long as they're here and they're healthy and they're ours now, that's all that matters. :)

  5. Wuhooo you have triumphed the task of writing Oliver's Birth Story and brought me to tears. You are a birth Warrior and so much more! Thanks for sharing with us ... now you'll have to submit it to Birth Issues.

  6. A birth warrior - I like that Jennifer! Lauren, you have a wonderful gift of sharing what is in your heart. Thank your for sharing such a sacred story with us - yes, sacred. What an amazing spirit I felt as I read Oliver's adventure into the world. Love, Auntie Cathy

  7. Amazing Lauren. Truly amazing and inspiring and wonderful. I'm so happy for you guys!

  8. Thanks for sharing your birth story it was beautifully written. Oliver will want to hear it again and again but you might have to give him the condensed version.