My son turns six tomorrow and today like all other eve’s of his birthday I recall all the events of my labour. Does any other mother do this? I love reminiscing about my labour it makes me feel happy to recall all the events leading up to meeting the little man who was forever going to change my life.
I loved my labour and I want to write about it for two reasons. One, I want to remember it forever, so while the events are still fairly fresh in my mind I want to write them down. Two, I am extremely committed to changing the script about labour. I want woman to trust their bodies- just as I did. I want women to feel transformed into the warrior that they are, just as I did. I want women to see it as a right of passage into motherhood, because it is and it is so beautiful. It should be shared as wisdom for all those who labour after us so that they too can be empowered by this wonderful experience called labour.
Should you want to read, please feel free, I hope you love reading my story as much as I loved writing it.
I was 40 weeks + 3 days, my sister had come from Alberta to be a labour partner along side my husband. She read so many more books about labour then husband so I was really thrilled to have her there; plus she was an excellent cook, so I was excited to be fed by her as well. I had done all the natural labour induction possible- acupuncture, drank the herbal tinctures, was doing my daily squats (okay probably not as many as I should have been doing) and I felt a whole lot of nothing… How was I going to know labour was starting?
Then on May 6th 2011 I was awoken at 5am by what I though was me wetting the bed, I thought ‘how the hell did that happen?’. When I reached forward to see if what I had just felt was in fact real, I realized there was nothing there… I quickly realized what was happening, my water broke. It was the coolest sensation (much like when I felt the flutters of my son moving inside of me the first time), it felt like a tiny needle piercing a ballon and then there was an immediate gushing. I abruptly sat up and just like that went into full panic mode, my whole body started shaking (those who know me, know how quickly my excitement can turn into anxiety). I shook my husband, I was so excited and yet so terrified about what I was going to feel next, it was all so new, how the hell was I to know what would happened next. I ran to wake my sister, she was equally excited, it was why she was in Ontario… It was about time!
She quickly got up to make me blueberry pancakes, which I highly recommend for everyone about to start childbirth! 😉 All I knew is that I wanted to feel nourished this labour, so that I felt strong enough to get through.
So like any first time mom, I quickly called my midwife- you know cause I sure I was in active labour ;P (ah so naive my first labour). I was also instructed to call them as I was GBS+ (much to my disappointment). I would need IV antibiotics especially since I now had ruptured membranes. The clock was ticking in terms of how long they would let me labour on my own, before needing an induction, it all felt so urgent. I am very resistant to external pressure, this did not please me so. It also should be known that I am stubborn and I desperately wanted to go into labour naturally. Of all the priorities I had, when it came to childbirth this was the highest. I did not want to be induced (to me, pitocin was a gateway drug, perhaps leading me down the intervention path I did not want to go down). I wanted my natural pain killers to have enough time to elevate to support me in my natural labour, in my mind, it was going to be very difficult to do this if I was induced.
The other desire I had was to labour at home. Childbirth to me was a natural process, not needing medical intervention unless absolutely required. I would not hesitate if that is what I needed, but I really did want to be left at home if at all possible. It is where I felt safest. And where you feel safe is where you will labour best.
From 5am and beyond not much happened. Except the incredible amount of ‘water’ that came from me, I had no idea how that was possible. We put towels everywhere, I paced the halls, sent work emails, danced to aqua and every 4 hours my midwives came and checked up on me and gave me my IV drip. At the 12 hour mark, urgency set in, I did not like that very much, but my labour was not intensifying in the least bit. We got the call, it was time to go to the hospital, we needed to talk induction. We had a little talk at home and I agreed to try castor oil (**this is absolutely not recommend for others unless medically supervised, there may be appropriate use for it in labour, however, it can also cause other complications if not used properly, do not try this unless you are working with a professional**). My team made me two coconut water, frozen fruit and castor oil drinks. I drank them and off to the hospital we went.
On route we took bumpy roads (on purpose, ha!) and we listened to Joel Osteen, my husband new that going to the hospital for me was less then ideal, his number one priority was to keep me positive and to help keep my mind flexible. On our way there, our midwife called, all the beds at the hospital were full, we got to go back home and they would meet us there to check on me.
When I got home, I understood the urgency of the situation so we turned up the labour induction techniques. I sat on the toilet and put on the breast pump (one of my most shining moments for sure, my modesty, although not much to begin with, began to fad away)… Luckily by 8pm I was in active labour and we were going to labour at home. It was intense and I needed whatever resources we had to keep me strong. I turned on my iPod with my hypo birthing, grabbed my birthing ball and faced a corner. I don’t know why, but I didn’t really want to engage with anyone. I was uncomfortable, not that happy and I just wanted to tune inwards. I listened to that for hours, in hindsight it was supremely helpful, although in the moment I questioned its benefits. I certainly did not look like those ladies on the UTube videos who’s labour looked like a peaceful sleep. Oh no, I laboured in the corner, thinking angry thoughts about anyone who tried to help, while my sister fed me frozen grapes in between contractions. To which, I spit out on my bedroom floor when the next contraction started. The thought of this still makes me giggle.
My midwife hung out in the other room and I thought, why isn’t she helping me? I came to understand that this is not her role in labour, she needed to preserve her energy and chart while I laboured. This is when I really had wished I had gotten a doula, I really needed a doula. Even though my sister & husband were incredible, they really were, it is so helpful to have an expert in the room. Because labour will take you to your breaking point, likely several times in the process.
We became number obsessed, my support team wrote everything down, I was checked on occasion and every time I heard the numbers I felt greatly disappointed, why wasn’t my body/ cervix progressing the way I demanded it to. It felt intense, but for some reason the numbers of dilation never seemed to match the intensity of my discomfort. Now I was really getting angry.
My midwife suggested I move from the wall (haha) and try and different position to get things moving. We went into the shower, but standing felt awful for me, they gave me the stool, but I couldn’t bare the heat. I needed out. I paced the bathroom, I made noises with every contraction, I think I had one ear bud in for my hypnobirthing, I was hoping for a miracle. My midwife came over for one contraction, she squeezed my hips and it felt AMAZING. That was the pain relief I was craving. But she couldn’t continue that and no one could do it as well as her (hmmm a doula would have been really good about now…). I remember at this point I was staring at the mirror, I was not very happy, I was uncomfortable, my hair was a mess- standing every which way. My husband being the cheeky man that he is offered to fix my hair, he in no pain, thought this was a good idea. To which, I responded with biting his fist. He got the point. I was in no mood to care about my hair.
It was midnight, I felt very nauseous and was on all fours in our bedroom. I got sick, smoothies- everywhere! But this was a very good sign, perhaps I was in transition, I was so hopeful, it all felt so intense, I was done really. My midwife checked me, I could hear everyone talking, I cannot recall how dilated she said I was, but I do recall her saying ‘we will check her again in four hours’. FOUR HOURS!?!?!? She must be mistaken, you see, I am DONE, I am having this baby now (insert the need for a doula again here). My sister recalls me giving the midwife a mean girl glare, which I believe, I am completely capable of doing such a thing (I loved my midwife, I did not love what she was saying).
Shortly after I felt the urge to push, I was making all the right noises so my midwife let me go with it. I began to push on all fours, my husband being the curious man that he is went to watch what was happening. I could hear him asking a question, I could hear that my midwife was investigating something. I promptly heard everyone telling me to stop pushing. Excuse me?!?!?! Are you kidding me? You want me to stop the only thing that feels good right now (I use this term ‘good’ lightly, more accurately, it felt like the right thing to be doing in that moment).
I felt the urgency again, I could hear the hustle around me, still listening to the hypnobirthing in one ear, I checked in and out as needed. But now I needed to pay attention. I learned that I was being immediately transferred to the hospital, my cervix had prolapsed and I now needed to be in a hospital to birth this baby. I understood, I was at peace with the decision and I also knew that risk involved me and not my baby- he was stable and happy. The risk of haemorrhage was high and I needed to be somewhere safe should I need much important medical intervention. I had no problem with this intervention, I had laboured at home, which is what I wanted.
I did however, really hate not being allowed to push during contractions. It was an awful feeling that felt fundamentally wrong. They tried to change my breathing to assist in pushing prevention, but it was near impossible. I did my best. In the contractions I began to yell “I’m pushing, I’m pushing, I’m sorry…” It still makes me laugh to this day. Which at the time, did help with not pushing during contractions.
The ambulance came. I walked out, they put me on the stretcher, which felt awful, I liked being on all fours, and literally my son was so close to being born it felt like I was sitting on his head. Yet he was unphased and stable the entire time. The paramedics were not too kind to my midwife, like she had anything to do with my wanting a home birth. They were kind to me. I also understood their stance, I would bet their only experience with home birth had to do with emergent transfers to the hospital. Why would they think it was safe? I understood where they were coming from.
What I did not appreciate was the speed at which they were travelling, it felt like they were crawling. And I resented every time my midwife placed the sonogram on my abdomen, I understood why she was doing it (to make sure my son was stable), but it caused a contraction every. single. time. Had I not been strapped down I probably would have ninja kicked her (refer to anger issues I was experiencing listed above).
In true labour story form, my husband and sister, in the car behind us, got pulled over for running a red light. They were not ticketed and were told to follow safely.
We got to the hospital, there was barely a room, it was still very busy. We got situated and I was told to still not push because the OB was not ready for me. Excuse me? I was pushing this baby out now! They found a resident and we were ready to get this show on the road. She checked me, moved my cervix out of the way and gave the green light to push this baby out.
What an awesome feeling, until it wasn’t. Ha! It was intense and against my ideal situation, I had to labour this baby in lithotomy position (on my back). My incredible team held my legs as I did my best to push. Like all first time labourers I pushed for a while. I remember cracking jokes about a burning ring of fire, because that is what it felt like. The intensity was insane and yet it was the best feeling ever because the end was near and I was ready to have this over with.
Moments later, at 3:26am my son was born and placed on my abdomen. We didn’t find out his gender beforehand, yet I knew he was a boy all along. He looked huge on my now puffy abdomen. We begged the team to delay the cord clamping for as long as possible, but because of my risk of hemorrhage my time was limited. We think we held them off for about 5 minutes, at least until it stopped pulsing. I felt so overwhelmed, I was a mom and that felt so foreign. Not uncomfortable, it felt so right, however, I was in total shock about it. I had developed a strong bond with this bump that grew over 9 months, but when I met the baby inside it felt so new, almost uncomfortable. That feeling ceased quickly.
I had no tearing (thank you Epi- No).
I did not hemorrhage, I had a very successful natural labour. I understood the whole process and was absolutely fine with how my birth went. We laughed as we recalled the moments. Instantaneously I forgot the discomfort (mostly) and felt positive about my experience. We all thought biting my husband was hilarious.
We were transferred to a recovery room and all three of us passed out. Carter was sleepy too, he quietly rested skin-to-skin. The nurse came to check on us and told us since we were under the care of a midwife and because I was stable, I was free to go after 3 hours. So we counted down the minutes till discharge, my husband got the car and we went home.
My labour was challenging, pushing me to my very brink, but I never once considered an epidural (that is the honest truth). And as much as I didn’t love the discomfort of labour, I trusted my body and really the only major pain I had is when I had to go against my body’s urge to push.
I felt fond feelings about my labour and all those who supported me even minutes after I was done. Despite my secret dislike for them while I laboured in my corner alone.
I felt my labour was beautiful. It was an experience that I was privileged enough to go through with the end result of meeting the love of my life. This little man made me a mother, the day before Mother’s Day no less. He made us a family and that felt so good and so profoundly right. And as much as I can look back and critique the experience, I wouldn’t have changed any of it. I love my story, I loved my passion for natural labour and I loved how it all worked out perfectly the way it was meant to unfold. I didn’t get my home birth but I was completely fine with that.
That is my birth story.
And if you have made it this far, I commend you and I thank you.
Labour is awesome, trusting your body is a wonderful thing. I trusted my body, I rose above any challenge that was thrown my way. I was a warrior and I was going to handle the challenges that were to come in the next few weeks, months, years in a similar fashion. This primed me to become the strong mother that I am today. I feel blessed to have had the experience that I did.
And that is all I have to say.
Happy Birthday Carter, and happy BIRTH-day to me! 😉 <3