I am on a roll! Hoping to get all three birth stories up here, Clara’s is posted, click here to read. And linking up with Theresa because I am posting just barely in time!
Warning this one is a little longer. And it is a story about birth so there are going to be some details that are TMI for some so feel free to click away. I wrote the bulk of this within a day or two after Hugh was born when ALL the details were fresh in my mind. This is the first time I have gone back to the raw material to edit and add pictures, and trust me, I am having as much fun reading this as you will! (Motherhood amnesia, it’s real)
My due date with my second pregnancy was February 7, 2014. But since I went a week overdue with my first, I was expecting the same, and was in no hurry to get things ready since there is nothing worse that waiting for a baby to decide he or she is ready to come.
At this time in our lives my sister Emma and her husband were sharing a house with us. Brian, Clara and I lived in the second story while Emma and Jeff had the basement, and we shared the main floor and the only kitchen. It so happened that Emma and I found out we were pregnant right about the same time, and had due dates just a few weeks a part! We both had our prenatal care with the same team of midwives, and both hoped for home births, and they had a good little laugh when they figured out that we both lived at the same address.
Emma went into labor and laboured at home for days (I think it was more than 36 hours) and ended up transferring to the hospital and delivering her sweet son via C Section on January 23. Her story is hers to tell, but I ended up catching a flu from her (which she had during her labor! poor thing!) I tried to help her recover, and Clara and I enjoyed lots of baby cuddles with her little boy all the while waiting for my baby to decide when it would come.
On January 28 I had been talking to my good friend (and expert mom of 5) Christy about how un-ready I felt for our family to change and for this baby to arrive. That day I had a midwife appointment and at the end of it I made sure I had two more booked for the next two weeks, it seemed like I was not close at all to going into labour. The midwives thought the same thing as me. That evening a friend of Emma’s came over for dinner, I had made a roast chicken and mashed potatoes, I wanted to make chicken noodle soup for the next day with the broth to help those of us who were still recovering from the flu that had just rampaged through the house.
Brian and I put Clara to bed at 8, and found a interesting looking movie on Netflix, ‘The Guard’ about an Irish constable trying to work with the FBI. It was interesting but not totally captivating, so we didn’t quite finish.
We went to bed and I asked Brian something I had been thinking about throughout the day, had he been praying for this little child we were waiting for? I had as much as I would want to, or really at all, it just didn’t seem like I’d had any time to process the fact I was actually pregnant and that a baby was coming to join our family… Brian said he tried to pray for this little one lots, and it made me just spend some time begging God to make up for everything I was lacking in feeling ready and that he would make up for everything that I was lacking and make me into the parent I needed to be for whoever this was who was going to come join our family soon. I just didn’t think soon meant SOON
around 10:30 Clara (who was 18 months at that time) woke up and I thought she might be cutting her last canine tooth, so I took her to bed with me and laid down to nurse her, she was nursing and it was causing contractions, braxton hicks I thought, I’d had SO many of those this pregnancy, so after nursing for awhile, so uncomfortably, it always seemed like the baby’s little legs were SO jammed into my ribs and might burst out at any time… that plus the contractions and the sore hips and the pelvis that seemed to be reaaaaaly at the breaking point of MAX capacity… I couldn’t take it for too long and asked Brian to put her back to bed. I decided to try a shower to try to stop the contractions, which were continuing and only annoying at this point, I wanted to go to bed.
I showerd for a while but they didn’t stop, so I came out and let brian know that something seemed to be happening… annoying contractions that had been going on since around 11, and now it had been 30,maybe 40 minutes and they were about every 5 minutes or so. He broke out the app and we timed them and they were a little over a minute, and that was starting to look like the 5-1-1 recipe that the midwives had told me to look for. Still not painful by any sense, but I wanted to keep walking or stay on the toilet (body wanted to purge anything out of that department) so I stayed on or near the toilet for a while, arguing with Brian about whether this was anything REAL or not… he seemed to think maybe it was, and he was sneakily preparing things like a shower curtain on the bed and floor, cleaning off the counters, (like I said, I was not prepared for birth or a newborn at all). He lit a fir tree scented candle, had nice dim lights and cleared off our bed.
Just before midnight, I heard a POP as I was on the toilet, and felt liquid that was, well, not pee, so I told him I guess this we should take this seriously because I think that was my water breaking. I still thought somewhere it could be nothing…. I wasn’t due for 10 days…. I went OVERDUE last time…
But I gave in and let him call the midwife. I talked to her, Helen, through two contractions, told her everything and that I didn’t really think it was happening and she just told me “Hun, if your water’s broken, you’re having a baby today”.
We agreed to call her if things picked up, (because I was still in denial) and then, well they did…. I just wanted to be alone, with Brian, in the corner of the bathroom, bracing myself on the cool marble counter during contractions, with him Right.There. But in the ever shorter gaps between each contractions I would tell him to run and get this or that (like my home birth box that I still hadn’t gotten out of the closet, and unlock the front door, and tell Roseline (another one of my sisters who just happened to be staying at our house that night) that something was happening so she wouldn’t freak out when the midwife shows up). By 12:20am the contractions were transitioning to something much more serious, I could hear myself asking him Why am I doing this, I don’t want to do this, stay here, don’t leave, don’t leave me…
Brian called Helen back and told her to get on her way, fast. She said it would take her 30 minutes to get across the city to our house. I looked at the clock and remember thinking that meant it might take til 1:15 for her to get here (not accurate because I was looking at our terribly fast clock). I knew I was transitioning, I asked brian if we would do this again or if this could be the last time because I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS!
By the time Helen arrived, I was on the edge of the bed, thinking only about Brian and the fact that I did not want him to leave, I had one or two very painful contractions where it took all my strength to fight against it bracing myself against him and squeezing his arm, and then I realized that I shouldn’t be fighting it, I could let my body just do this and so I switched to focusing on deep breaths and let the contractions do whatever they wanted to do. Brian agreed and helped me remember to just breathe, and let my body do this, and it stopped being painful, but whatever my body wanted to do, it was going to do FAST…
Helen had arrived and quickly pulled out as much as she could of the necessary equipment. Tiffany, the student midwife had showed up to help and Roseline had taken (sleeping) Clara to the basement so I wasn’t worried about making noise and waking her up, Jeff had been recruited to put towels in the dryer to warm them up, and Brian had called Julie the second midwife (they always work in pairs here) to get on her way too.
Tiffany checked the baby’s heart rate for a full minute, as far as I remember that was the only time they used the doppler to check the heart rate at all, usually it’s something they do over and over again during labour.
I saw Helen getting a glove ready, and describing me as ‘sounding pushy’, she did an internal check and said ‘just as I thought, there’s no cervix, you are completely dilated’ and I remember saying in a bit of an exasperated voice that ‘I’ve never been checked and NOT been completely dilated!’
I asked if that meant I could push, and I guess she said yes or didn’t have to, my body was still doing its thing and I was trying to just not get in the way, and it wanted to push. I could feel the pressure deep between my hips and I was asking myself ‘is this what they call the ring of fire? it can’t be, that’s not an accurate description at all’ and one or two contractions more of my body pushing with everything it could, and the wonderful warm wet feeling of the baby’s body sliding free and being placed on my chest… all I could do was kiss the little soft head and say over and over and over ‘Baby, I love you, I love you Baby’.
I really couldnt believe it at happened at all. I had gone into labour, real labour? and I had a baby… a baby!! a baby what? brian checked and told me it was a boy. A BOY! Just want I wanted! I wanted a boy, and when I looked at the sweet face on my chest, I just knew I wanted THIS boy, this adorable, red faced boy who had let out a few crys but now was calm, looking around, cuddled on my chest under warm towels that daddy had been warming under his shirt because there wasn’t time to get the warm ones from the dryer. It had been a whirlwind for sure. (The original totally out of place hundreds of commas,,,,,, and exclamation marks showed the hot mess of chaos beautifully, but I spared you and cleaned up the grammar.)
It was sometime before the third stage that Julie, the second midwife, showed up. Nothing really matters once the baby is on your chest, but the pains and pulling and pushing down on your stomach and checking for tears and everything is really no fun and I was way more aware of that pain this time around. But all that really mattered to me at that point was that Brian was there right beside me. We were safe and together and had our baby and we were at home, in the dim, calm, candle light, fir smelling cozy room and this wonderful tiny (9 lb so maybe not so tiny) boy was capturing our hearts!
Julie asked if I wanted to see the placenta, and for some reason I regretted not looking at Clara’s so I said yes even though I surprising myself by doing so. I may be crunchy in some ways but I think placenta’s are completely gross.
With all the clean up and movement going on around me, I just experienced a moment that felt like forever when I got to sit there cuddling the most adorable little boy in the world. Brian cut the cord (and squirted blood everywhere.. oops) and I kept expecting them to have to come take him to clean him or check him or something but they didn’t. I thought I could try to see if he would latch on, and so all on my own I got him snuggled up to my breast and he latched on. I felt very proud to able to do something like that without too much help, maybe I was getting a hang of this Mom thing after all. He wasn’t interested in eating too much, and it finally was time that he and I probably should get cleaned up a little. I walked over to the shower, Brian finally got a turn to cuddle his son for a while and then all clean we could do the full newborn examination and see that every little tiny part of his body was perfect and beautiful. Long finger and toe nails, very large hands and feet, a very small amount of dark hair all over his head and darkish peach fuzz down his neck and back.
When it was time to finally cuddle into bed together, after Hugh had eaten again and we were all wrapped up under the covers, Brian came to bed with us, and it was about 4 am. He quickly relaxed and fell asleep but my mind was racing, mostly with prayer.
I was so so overwhelmed with gratitude for a healthy baby and his safe arrival, for the fact God had so amazingly made up for my lack and made me ready in ways I truly had not been ready for, now I was a parent to this little boy and God thought I could do it and He would give me whatever I needed to mother this darling little soul I had been entrusted… I reached over to my nightstand and found a wooden rosary (which is not usually there) and tried to pray the Rosary to calm my mind and heart and help me sleep but I really don’t know if I got any sleep at all that night. By the glow of the night light I could see this precious little boy and wanted to just stare at him. I also looked over to my wonderful husband who had heroically been there beside me through one of the biggest adventures you can imagine and I was just SO. PROUD. of our family.
Hugh ended up being born exactly one week after Emma’s little boy Gabriel. We have had so much fun watching these two little cousins grow up together (although Hugh’s taken to growing much much faster!)