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|on my due date, april 22nd.|
early in the morning on friday april 25th, around 3:00 am, i awoke to a dull pain. i felt these tightenings were consistent, just like the night before, but i refused to time them. i didn't want to feel the same disappointment at being sent home completely undilated, like i had just 24 hours earlier. around 4:00 am, feeling restless and unable to lay in bed, i remembered my midwife had told us she always tells the mother to take a bath in early labour; if it slows, it is a false alarm, but if it persists and gets stronger, it is safe to say that true labour has set in. i spent close to an hour in the tub, relaxing and reading and mostly trying to ignore the contractions, which were now growing stronger and more consistent. so i got out of the tub and got back in bed, attempting to sleep again, but i was past that point now. around 5:00 am, i got out of bed and started pacing in the kitchen. i made myself some toast and started timing my contraction, finding that they were 6 to 7 minutes apart and just over 30 seconds long. nothing major, but i knew that this was for real. i started to really feel the contractions; they were growing in strength and intensity. i was so happy! this baby was really going to come out! my nerves kicked in as well.
joanne woke up while i was in the kitchen and watched me as i paced around, bounced on my exercise ball and started to squat through some contractions. i still hadn't called my midwife; i just wanted to be sure before i dragged anyone out of bed. just after 6:00, i decided it was time to get brian out of bed and moving. from the hour previous, contractions had picked up significantly. they were 5 minutes apart and usually close to a minute long. i woke brian up and asked him to watch me through a couple of contractions; i felt like he might be able to gauge better than i could if we should get moving or not. we decided it was go time, so brian got ready while i continued labouring. i called my midwife maureen at 6:30. no answer, so i just left a message indicating that i was quite sure things were real this time and we needed to come in. when she didn't call back right away, i called her again. and again. and again and again and again. i started to panic. where was she? why wasn't she answering the phone or calling me back? my contractions were strong, wave upon wave of intense pressure. brian reminded me that we had joannas number, the lovely midwife who had met us at the birth centre the night before, so he called her. she used her "find your friends" app (yay for technology!) and called us back to tell us that maureen was already at the centre, clearly attending another birth. by this time it was closer to 7:30 and i was starting to feel a little panicky. we had stayed at home too long and now i was entering transition, the most intense and wild part of labour. brian was gathering our bags, standing by the door and i was working through a contraction when i started to feel a bit of pressure. i quietly said, "i don't think we're going anywhere." brians eyes almost popped out of his head. it was at this moment that ollie came running down the hall, "hiiiii!" he said. i was shocked; he usually sleeps until at least 8:30. he felt the tension in the room and almost immediately started crying. he wanted me to hold him which felt like the most impossible task. i hugged him, kissed his sweet face, knowing the next time i was him he would be a big brother, and handed him off to grandma. brian & i walked out the door and started the drive to the birth centre, a 20+ minute drive during a busy traffic time.
the drive was definitely the worst part of my labour. sitting in the van, unable to stand and move through contractions (which is what helps me most), i started to feel like it was getting impossible. it was so hard to get on top of one contraction and where wasn't much resting time before another one began. i was in transition; my strong, intense contractions were 4 minutes from start to start and over a minute long. as we pulled into the birth centre parking lot (after cursing the taxi driver who was blocking the entrance) maureen walked out the door and to her car. she pulled her phone out of her car, looked at it and then looked at us with a shocked look on her face. i saw her mouth "i'm so sorry" and then i was doubled over with another contraction.
we hurried into the birth centre between surges and as we walked into the room, maureen asked if she could check me. i said "no" and told her to fill up the tub. ha. i was kinda bossy and mean. i climbed into the birth tub as soon as there was a little bit of water and it was amazing. i will use a birth tub, if possible, for every baby from now on. i was finally able to relax, calm myself down and mentally get on top of the contractions; i felt like i was back in charge. it was so nice to feel a little more in control. as i laboured, joanna came in; she was going to be the back up midwife! we were happy to hear that; she was so sweet and had a calming presence. i laboured for about an hour in the tub, practicing my hypnobirthing "pushing" (just breathing "down" through contractions) near the end of that hour, as i felt like things were progressing but i didn't quite feel ready to push. i remembered what ina may wrote in one of her books and chuffed my way through many surges. and yes, chuffing is what a horse does. ha! i'm sure i sounded ridiculous but it worked for me! it was at about 9:00, just over an hour after we had arrived at the centre, that i began to give'r. (no, seriously, that's the word i used...i asked maureen if i was allowed to "give'r", ha ha!) i pushed. i pushed and i pushed. and i was loud. i yelled and tried not to scream, kept my sounds low and bore down. i'm pretty sure i apologized between every contraction and then was louder as soon as the next one came. as time went on, i kept on telling my midwives i wasn't going to push with the next one...i was getting so tired and it felt like i had been pushing for so long. another midwife came in. she was wearing a shirt that said, "keep calm and birth on." i kept looking at her shirt through blurry eyes, willing myself to keep going. i felt the babys little head, felt that it had hair and cried. i wanted to meet that baby. i finally said to brian, "how long have i been pushing for?" it had been about half an hour, but felt like so much longer. the baby was making progress, moving down well and i just wanted it out; i needed to meet this baby! i kept asking if something was going wrong, but my midwives assured me that all was well. they listened to baby and that little heartbeat just kept thumping along, strong and healthy. i kept saying, out loud, "c'mon baby! it's time to come out! i wanna see you!" brian was so supportive; he knelt by the tub and held onto my hands, letting me squeeze his fingers as hard as i could as each surge came over me. he locked his eyes with mine and willed me, both verbally and mentally, to keep going. he reminded me, over and over again, that i was strong enough to do it.
once i had been pushing for closer to 40 minutes, maureen told me she wanted me out of the tub and on the bed. you guys, i cried. i cried and i whined and i begged them not to make me get out, but maureen insisted and before i knew it brian & joanna were literally dragging me out of the tub and onto the bed. i'm so grateful for midwives who were calm and supportive and knew when i needed a change. i got on my knees and elbows and leaned over the top of the bed. brian was on the bed beside me, to my left, and joanna was on my right. she got my attention, put her face right next to mine and spoke quietly and calmly to me. i cannot remember what she said, only that it put me at peace. i cried again, but this time because i was so happy. i was going to meet this baby so soon! i took some deep breaths and calmed down. and then i pushed. they don't call it labour for nothing; it is hard work! i bore down and pushed with everything i had. it was just a couple of contractions later that i felt the release of pressure, the baby was out!
maureen passed this tiny, screaming baby through my legs and into my hands. i remember dark hair, vernix and blood covering the body, tiny hands with long fingernails, big lips, wide open in the first cries of life and that face...oh, that face! brian looked down and exclaimed, "it's a boy! a boy!" i was so shocked! i had completely convinced myself this baby was a girl, but he was a boy! it really was a surprise and it was so amazing. we stared at him and i kept saying, "he doesn't look anything like ollie!" brian cut the (very very short) cord and i was able to bring him to my chest. oh, that moment! i touched him and smelled him and kissed his sweet little body. he had fuzzy hair on his shoulders and fat on his body. he was, absolutely and positively, perfect. there is nothing in the world that is quite so powerful as the first time a mama gets to see and touch her sweet baby. it is all worth it for that single moment.
maureen assessed the damage and told us she felt i would need to transfer for the mis for some post baby stitches. i wished so badly that my birth story could've ended at the birth centre, but in the end, transferring to the hospital was what we needed. jack was able to be with brian while i was in surgery and immediately after i was done i was able to nurse him again. he stayed by my side and we got to snuggle all night and were sent home early saturday morning. those first few days passed quickly, full of sweet memories of sleeping and snuggling my new baby boy. i'm so grateful to both brians mom and my own mama for being here to take care of everything else while i rested and recovered and got to know baby jack. family and friends came to meet our handsome boy and welcome him to the world.
i've now had two very different birth experiences. jacks birth will forever stay with me, just as ollies has. jacks birth was fast, wild and beautiful. it was another testimony to me of the strength my Heavenly Father gives me in times of need, both physical and emotional. i'm grateful for the experiences i have been blessed with in all aspects of motherhood and feel Him molding me into who He wants me to be through them. the joy of motherhood has been the greatest happiness in my life.