Sunday, 6 April 2014

Elliott's Birth Story

I'll start by saying that I fully expected to go past my due date. I very intentionally told myself over and over that pregnancy was 42 weeks long, and anything before that was a bonus. I know way too many mamas that got really antsy when they didn't deliver by their due date and I didn't want to feel that way. I think I legitimately convinced myself, because when I started having contractions 8 days before my due date I certainly was surprised!!  

Wednesday turned out to be a very busy day for me. I joined a mom's group that meets on Wednesdays and they were kind enough to let me in before baby was born! So Wednesday morning I went to MOPS for the first time. The group is held at the church I attend and work(ed) at so there were many familiar faces, and I met a few new ladies as well. It was a lovely time! After staying late to visit a little I didn't have a lot of time to get home, make and eat lunch and get out the door- I had a massage booked for 2 pm. Somehow I did have enough time to wipe out the oven that I had turned on self clean the day before. Aaahh... sparkly oven.

I went to my massage, and fully enjoyed the water bed they have at this particular spa for pregnant women. So comfy and relaxing! After that Chris asked me to drop off some things he needed for that evening at church - it was the night of the biggest youth event we hold for the kids. Nerf Warfare. Chris had been setting up all day for it, and once the kids arrived after dinner it would be 2 hours of running around the church, just to end with an hour or two of cleaning up after. In other words, my husband who normally has a very non physical internship was having the busiest most physical day he could possibly have. (Proving God's sense of humor once again)

I went home after stopping at the church and running a couple errands, (stopping for a donair on the way so I didn't need to cook anything.) Then I happily plopped myself in front of the couch and got ready to relax for the evening. Just before 9 pm I felt a pain which I dismissed as gas pain. Perhaps I shouldn't have had that donair, I thought... It took two more pains for me to realize that the pain had a rise and fall to it, and that they were coming in regular intervals of about ten minutes apart. I excitedly waited for another pain to appear, and when it did ten minutes later I was convinced! These were contractions, and that meant I was in labour!!

I texted Chris, not telling him what was going on, but just asking how his night was going, to see if he was going to be home soon or not. I was hoping he was nearly on his way home so I could tell him in person that I was in labour. When he didn't answer after a few minutes I broke down and called him to tell him the news. All I could think was if he got home an hour later he would wonder why the heck I hadn't told him yet! When he answered the phone I asked him where they were at in cleaning up, and he said they were nearly done. I said "Ok, well you're definitely good to stay and finish up, but just so you know I've had a couple contractions!"

I texted my Midwife Tara somewhere between 9:30 and 10 just to give her a heads up that I was having contractions. I knew I didn't need to call her so early, but thought that if I were her I would want to know to go to bed early if I was going to woken in the middle of the night with a labouring patient! Sure enough she asked a few questions and then told me to let her know when the contractions were between 3-5 minutes apart, lasting 45-60 seconds, consistently for 1 full hour. She strongly suggested I try to get some rest while the contractions were still so mild and far apart. (Ha!)

Chris got home shortly after. I told him how Tara said the best thing was to try to get some sleep, and I headed to bed somewhere around 10:30. At first I told him I was fine with going to bed alone, but then I asked him to crawl in with me. I was just so excited and wanted him near. That may have been a mistake because all we did was talk excitedly about how we were going to meet our baby soon! He helped keep my mind off the contractions by asking me to tell him a story- specifically the story of when I was 14 and got caught drinking alcohol with a friend at my lake. (Such a silly story!) I'm sure he had heard it a few times, but it killed some time to tell it once again, in detail!

It was obvious sleep was not going to come easily and so we decided to go watch a movie and perhaps we could fall asleep in front of the TV. The first 40-60 minutes or so of the movie I was able to just lay on the couch on my side and wince at each contraction, breathing through it with no problem. Somewhere around midnight they picked up though, and I moved to the floor to see if a different position would be better for the contractions. I found being on my hands and knees to be the best. I was timing the contractions at this point, and they were about 7 minutes apart. They were starting to hurt quite a bit more. Right around this point I started to feel nauseated during each contraction. It would pass quickly once the contraction stopped, but as the contractions got stronger, so did the nausea. It was a symptom I didn't expect to experience until I hit transition labour, and so while the contractions were still about 6-7 minutes apart I decided to check in with Tara just to make sure.

I texted Tara around 1 am to let her know how I was progressing and about the nausea. She said it was not uncommon to experience symptoms like that as I switched into more active labour, and it was likely a rush of adrenaline at each contraction that made me feel nauseous. She eased my nerves and reminded me that this was an endurance race and I was doing great. Just what I needed to hear! I agreed to let her know once we had hit the mark for heading to the birth center - 5 minutes apart for an hour straight.

Right around this point Chris asked if he could try to nap, which I thought was wise. If we were in it for the long haul, I would need him to be more awake once things picked up. While he tried to sleep a little on the couch I moved to the bedroom for a while and labored on the bed. I had made a labour playlist full of worship music and this is when I started to really listen to it. I especially loved having earbuds in and feeling like I could shut everything else out. 

Tara had advised me not to pay too close attention to how far apart my contractions were until they started commanding my full attention. That happened somewhere around 1 am for me when we had last spoke, and finally at 3 am I texted Tara to tell her that my contractions had consistently been 5 minutes apart for a full hour. It was finally time!

I woke Chris up and told him it was time to go. He jumped up and gathered our bag (which was grossly overpacked by the way!) and got me a sweater and socks (and helped me put them on) I walked out of the house to a warmed up car right outside the door, and we were off! A friend of ours had told Chris that you can run red lights without penalty when your wife is in labour, so sure enough he ran the first red we came to. On Ray Gibbon Drive at 3:20 am. What a rebel ;) Contractions in the car were pretty horrible, but thankfully the drive is short (less than 20 minutes with no traffic)  so there weren't many of them. 

We arrived at the birth center less than 5 minutes before Tara. She quickly went to find us a room and came back with surprising news. There are two main rooms and one back up at the birth center. When we toured it we were told that the third room is barely ever used. So imagine our surprise when we found out that all three rooms had just recently been vacated! The good news was we had a room, the bad news was that we had to wait for it to be cleaned. In the meantime Tara found us a nice little office with a couch to hang out in and I was able to labour on my hands and knees, kneeling over the couch during contractions. I continued listening to my music and Tara did some initial assessments of baby's heartbeat etc. She asked me if I wanted to be checked for dilation, and I declined. I knew that I had an idea in my head of how dilated I would like to be given the amount of hours I had been labouring already, and I didn't want to feel discouraged if I was wrong. Tara agreed. From observing me for the past few contractions and knowing how things had progressed thus far she was very comfortable with how my labour was progressing and didn't feel like it would be beneficial to know how dilated I was. We were in the office less than an hour and moved into the room. Right away, we filled up the tub.

It just so happened that I had a contraction as I was stepping into the tub. There's really no turning back when you have one leg over the side already so I just went for it. The moment I sunk into the water I felt relief from the pain. Hallelujah! This was what I was waiting for!! The water wasn't quite hot enough so Tara and her student midwife Sam (who just joined us as we got into the room) went to boil water on the stove. I remember the short time Chris and I had alone in the room to be my favourite part of labour. I was so excited how the water was cutting the pain, and now that we were at the birth center it all felt so much more real and close- sure it was the wee hours of the morning and we were exhausted, but we were going to meet our baby that day! I had a renewed energy and determination.

So we settled into labouring in the tub for a while. The contractions certainly got more intense as time went on. I also got more tired and felt more nauseous with each one. I had asked for a glass of juice in an attempt to boost my blood sugar a little, but it only took a couple sips to realize I couldn't drink it for fear of throwing up. Shortly after, I had to ask Chris to remove the glass of juice from the room. Just the thought of it made me sick and everytime I looked at it I could taste it again. Blech. 

I continued listening to my music the whole time I was in the tub- no longer with my earphones, but just using my iPhone to play it through the speakers. There was an iPod Dock in the room, but it was so quiet in there that we didn't even have it on full volume on my phone, and this way Chris could change the song when I asked him to without leaving my side. One of Chris' favourite stories to tell about labour was how, as labour progressed I would grow less and less tolerant of listing to songs I didn't know. At first I would ask him kindly to change to the next song, or even to change to the next artist on the playlist (I had loaded entire albums) but as labour got more intense I would just say "I don't know this song" which meant "Change this now" He really was wonderful during it all. He sat there with me and grabbed my hand during each contraction. I spoke very little during this portion of labour, mainly from exhaustion, and so he also spoke very little. His presence was calming and consistent- exactly what I needed. He offered me a sip of water from my water bottle after each contraction, and just at the right times he told me how great I was doing. Later on, as my legs and ankles were getting sore from the position I took during each contraction (kneeling, leaning over the side of the tub with my arms on the edge) he would help me up from my sitting back position so I could quickly get back to kneeling by the time the contraction hit it's peak. There was a lot of back and forth for a while, but it was necessary to keep my ankles from going numb. I just wasn't willing to be sitting during a contraction- it just felt like the least comfortable

At about 6 am Tara asked me if I wanted her to check me for dilation - something we hadn't done at all yet. Again, this time when she asked I declined. She suggested that in about an hour we may want to discuss it again, which I agreed to. She thought it would be helpful to know if we were close to pushing or if we still had a few hours to go. Having a little time to mentally prepare myself for not caring how far along I was, was just what I needed. At about 7 am I got out of the tub and onto the bed. Tara determined I was 6 cm, but dilated to a full 8 during a contraction. My cervix was also paper thin (completely effaced) which is half the battle. She was so encouraging, and I was determined to be fine with any answer, and so I was. Truly, I felt no emotion about how far I was, and I wasn't concerned in the least with how much longer labour may take. This was a moment I had prayed very specifically about, and I am so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness in answering. 

Tara asked me if I wanted her to break my water. I was surprised she was even asking because we had had a conversation at one of our last appointments about how midwives prefer to never break the water. They feel like it is interfering with the natural process, and there are very few instances where it is medically necessary. In a almost every case it is best for the water to break on it's own so the mother can progress naturally. Breaking the water will speed up labour because the head descends quickly, and contractions will intensify accordingly. If you are not ready to push (dilation and effacement) you can tear more easily and really, no one wants that! I think Tara knew I was growing quite weary, and so she gave me the option. Knowing what I know, and having her tell me in that moment that she could break my water, but it would get very intense very fast, the decision was easy. I didn't want to interfere.

Things seemed to pick up quite quickly after this. I was so exhausted that I decided to try labouring on the bed for a short while. Contractions hurt SO much more, but I had the opportunity to fall asleep for a few minutes in between each one. It is amazing to me how a person can go from experiencing the worst pain they have ever felt, to dead asleep in mere seconds... but that's exactly what happened. Over and over for about half an hour. During the contractions either Sam or Chris would rub my back for counter pressure while I laid on my side, then Chris would offer me a sip of water directly after, then I'd zonk out until the next one hit. Fascinating, really!

Next, after the worst trip to the bathroom ever (So horrible to have a contraction on the toilet! Tara rubbed my back while I leaned against Chris, then they both scooted out so I could actually pee) I got back in the tub. I don't know if it started on the bed, the bathroom, or once I got back in the tub (probably a combo of all three because changing positions can intensify labour drastically!) but I was definitely in the throws of transition labour. If there was any question, all of a sudden I was sure I was going to throw up. I vocalized the fact, and Tara had a bowl in front of my face in seconds. This is definitely the closest I have come in years to throwing up (For those that don't remember, I've been puke free since the year 2000) My mouth filled with saliva which I spit in the bowl, but then I was able to regain my composure. Phew, that was close!!

I think I started vocalizing my contractions before I moved to the bed, but now I was definitely moaning through each and every one. All I really said was a long, drawn out "Ooooowwww" in a low, growly voice. (My description. I'm curious if Chris would agree, ha ha) I have no clue how long this portion of labour was, but going by how long I know the rest of labour took, I'd say an hour max. I started experiencing more and more pressure, and I knew things were moving along. Somewhere around 10 am Tara suggested she check me again, which I welcomed.

Back to the bed (So much easier said than done!) and the good news came - I was a full ten and ready to push! I'm not actually sure what Tara did (perhaps stretched me that last quarter of a centimetre? ) but immediately after her exam, I felt an intense burning with the next contraction and felt the urge to push. Tara asked me if I wanted to move back to the tub, as it was my desire to deliver in the tub, but I told her I couldn't. The pain was just too bad, and standing up simply wasn't an option. She suggested that I push in a squatting position, facing the back of the bed. I agreed that that sounded good. They raised the back of the bed up, and I turned around (with a great deal of help) and leaned over the bed, holding on to the back of the bed for dear life.

I know some women say they enjoy pushing because it feels like a relief to finally be able to actively do something. That was not my experience. I strongly disliked pushing. It hurt. A lot. Enough said? Thankfully at this point I was fully aware that I had no choice but to keep going. Tara told me once that there is a point of surrender in every labour. I think I had a couple points of surrender, but the greatest of all was when I was pushing. The first few pushes I could feel myself holding back. Tara could tell as well, and she asked me what I was afraid of. Just having her ask the question made me realize I was afraid. Afraid of losing control. My body just didn't give me a choice- it's like an undeniable reflex that you can't control, and have to just give in to. More than any other moment in my life did I realize that in my own strength I can do nothing. I leaned heavily on the Lord, knowing that was the only way to make it through, and knowing the pay off was going to be the biggest one of my life.

As much as I was focusing on what I was doing I couldn't help but hear the midwives talking excitedly (Tara's partner Heidi came for the birth because two registered midwives must attend each birth) I was getting very near to pushing the head out (so they said) and I heard them say "in the caul" and I knew (but had forgotten) that my water still hadn't broken. Sure enough, a couple pushes later (after 40 minutes total of pushing) and the head was out- still in my bag of waters, which had not yet broken. I had to wait for a few seconds before the next contraction peaked to push out the rest of the body, and as I did the water must have burst as one of the midwives caught him. They helped me to sit up a bit from my kneeling/squatting position and I picked him up from the bed (not even looking to see if he was a boy or girl) and hugged him close, weeping. They helped me turn around so I could sit leaning back against the bed, and they had already covered him in a towel. Suddenly someone said that they hadn't even looked to see the gender. Chris spoke up and said "I know what it is" Then he turned to me and said "It's a boy!!"

Like with so many things with pregnancy, childbirth, and now motherhood, I just can't describe that moment adequately with words. The flood of emotions was overwhelming. In an instant I fell more deeply in love than I knew was possible, and to know that it is still only a fraction of how my heavenly Father feels about me is baffling, humbling, and a completely new revelation of his love.

After Chris cut the cord and the midwives cleared out of the room for a few minutes, we sat there as a brand new family of three. Chris prayed for us, thanking the Lord for the amazing gift he had given us.

Looking back, aside from it all happening during the middle of the night, I couldn't have asked for a better labour and delivery. I am so thankful for all the prayer warriors I had interceding on my behalf before, during and after. I tangibly felt those prayers, and know without a doubt that they made a difference!

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1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing :) So glad it went so well for you, and now you're a MAMA!!