I did not write this until now, three years later, and my memory is very very faded, but I wanted to try to record as much as I can remember. I may come back some day and improve the story telling aspect, but I do want to get it posted since Promised people that I I would, so here we go! Linking up with Theresa and the many birth stories she has collected, click over for more!
I was due in early July, and I was planning to work til the end of June (I worked as a bank teller at that time). I was hoping (like all do) that I would have lots of time to recover and bond with baby etc etc before the myriad of events that the later summer held such as my good friends wedding on July 28th (that I was supposed to be a bridesmaid for, but ended up excusing myself from) and and my sisters wedding August 4th, which I was a bridesmaid for also.
As due date passed, and more more days and days after that, my weekly appointments with the midwives came and went. I Tried to take advantage and did all kinds of crazy things than I knew I wouldnt be able to go do once Baby came, such as going to Mass, pancake breakfast after mass, Spruce Meadows (a horse jumping competition) and the Stampede (huge fair and rodeo) all in the same Sunday! I had one ultrasound to check fluid levels and size of baby and all looked well. The midwives are happy to let their (low risk) clients go to 42 weeks, and my due date had been moved around a little during my early pregnancy which added even more flexibility and took any induction pressure off the table for awhile. When I went in for my appointment on the 17th, I believe I was just about at the 42 week mark, and they recommended some of their homeopathic attempts to get labour going one of which is a castor oil concoction. I took the instructions and bottles home to think about it and to talk to Brian about it. I need to mention that that morning, a Thursday, Brian had woke up and somehow thrown out his back. He stayed home from work, in very intense pain.
I remember driving from the midwives to Bed Bath and Beyond to pick up wedding presents for the upcoming weddings. Looking over at the bottles on the passenger seat, wondering if this baby was ever going to come.
I got home and talked to my suffering husband, really today was NOT looking like a good day to go into labour. Brian could barely stand up and was suffering in a lot of pain. And I was getting doubtful that anything would really even make any difference. I had been checked by the midwife and it had not looked promising at all. Baby wasnt even dropped all the way. So I thought what the heck and at about 4 O’Clock, took the first of the two doses of the castor oil and at first it didn’t seem to make much difference, except for the side effects of castor oil, very very unpleasant digestive elimination.
The concoction had tasted extremely awful, and brought on nothing but unpleasantness (and contractions that I was very bad at identifying) so I was on the phone with the midwife who was ensuring me I had to take the second dose 3 or 4 hours later, and I was pretty much blatantly refusing. Brian was beside me, having taken enough pain killers to subdue his terrible back pain, trying to time contractions but I was not cooperating. I think we were frustrating each other greatly. I couldn’t tell when one contraction stopped and another began because they weren’t very strong of any worse than the usual discomfort of late pregnancy. and also I am very good at ignoring pain. Looking back I probably should have noticed that they WERE actually close together, running into each other but I really didn’t know how to identify them. Everyone had told me “when they are real contractions, you’ll JUST KNOW” but that magic knowledge was not imparted to me, and my pain tolerance is very very high, so I really did not know just how far into the birthing process I was.
This is where my memory is very fuzzy. Brian was a HUGE support, with me every second. Bringing me food, holding me up on the birth ball (while we watched Tangled, trying to get my mind off of things) Finally the midwives were talking to me on the phone while I was going through a contraction that must have been extra intense because it stopped me from being able to talk through it, and we all decided they had better come. I can’t remember the times, but it must have been quite late in the evening.
The first midwife, Julie, arrived about an hour later. She barely had time to get her things unloaded and get me checked (10 cm!) and then told me whenever I felt like pushing, I could push. Julie had to give me a last second episiotomy because the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She later told me that it was one of literally a handful (less than 5) episiotomies she had ever had to administer in some 20+ years of practicing! (She was a little scarred and apologizes every time she sees me, still) She had deemed it necessary since the second midwife had not quite arrived and baby’s heart rate was not picking back up like it should between each contraction.
Baby was born quite soon after Julie, at around 11:14 pm (no one thought to check the clock immediately because it was a little chaotic being so fast.
I remember bits and pieces of other details from the labor and delivery. I remember Brian using all his skills from our Bradley classes and being tremendously supportive even in a brutal transition where Crazy Amy was making him agree to crazy things and he was telling me “this can be our only baby, you never have to go through this again!” So you can imagine how I was handling things.
My mom was there but had a hard time seeing her baby (me) in pain and it caused her her own pain.
My sister was also around and was helping my mom and was the errand boy for the midwives, heating towels and blankets.
I could not tell much of what was happening. I did not expect labour to be fast. I did not expect being at 10 at my very first check. Julie invited me to feel the baby’s head after she had crowned and I did but didn’t really recognise what I was feeling, the crested head of a molded skull that’s just been through a lot.
I do remember the sweet releif of baby being outside of me and in our lives. Brian was the one to look and see that she was a girl, our daughter, and announced to the room that her name was Clara Grace.
I remember holding her for the next hour and guiding her with the help of the very experienced midwife Patty (who arrived right in the middle of the grand entrance) to begin nursing which she did like a champ from the very beginning. Patty was a friend of some of my extended family, and actually was a Labor and Delivery Nurse at my “twin cousins” birth and remembers the excitement of two babies born in the same (extended) family on the same day. She went on to be one of the first registered Midwives in the province a year or two later (nearly 30 years ago) and was even at one of my moms home births.
I remember the absolute peace of being together, our family, in our home with our new daughter and how peaceful it was to be gently take the first steps of parenthood in our own home, with my husband there beside me. I am so grateful for the availability of home birth with trained, expert care for those who are low risk and comfortable with the idea. I know it’s not for everyone and it shouldn’t be but for those who can and want to I am glad it is available and wish it were even more so. (In Alberta it is funded with our health care, but only for a small percentage of the many women who want it and wait on waiting lists for midwifery care).
The next week was a lot of bonding, visits and visiting, and doing crazy things like going to the outdoor opera with a 6 day old baby
and taking her to my friends bridal shower when she was probably 9 days old
The next day she came to the wedding and we made it through most of the reception before getting home and back in bed and that is partly why I have slowly learned to stay in bed much longer after my next babies being born!
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Hugh and Tessa’s birth stories, coming sometime soon!
And Theresa’s birth story link up is still open so I am linking up there! Click over for more birth stories, if you are into that sort of thing!