You know how in the movies when someone goes into labor they know they are in labor because their water breaks… like everywhere…. it’s totally unrealistic! HA!
That is exactly my story.
Tuesday September 5th. Just another warm sunny Tuesday full of Run Like A Girl work at home and lifting weights at the gym. Actually, it is also my husband and I’s 2nd wedding anniversary… very exciting. I am in my 39th week of pregnancy and waddling around quite well! To celebrate and to perhaps encourage our little babes arrival we head for a walk to a local Indian Food Restaurant… give me the spicy food!
Wednesday Sept 6th. Just another warm sunny Wednesday full of Run Like A Girl work at home followed by some errands. I’ll head out do a few errands and then go to the gym before we have a Run Like A Girl meeting in the evening. I swing by my (other work which I am on mat leave from) MEC to say hello to my friends.
Helen: “Wouldn’t it be so cool if you had your baby on the same day as my birthday?!” Me: “Helen your birthday is tomorrow. I don’t think you will have the same birthday as my baby… that would mean I would have to go into labor right now… and well I am not in labor. Im not due for another 10 days…” Helen: “I know I know but you never know!!!” Me: “Haha okay keep wishing!”
From there I head to the bank… I am now feeling hungry so I decide to quickly swing by home to grab a snack before heading to the gym. I snack. I go back down stairs to the front door, sit down, lace up my gym shoes… take three steps open the front door…
Yes that is my water breaking… so what does one do when in complete panic and shock… take a photo. Then of course I picked up my phone… call #1 Midwife “Okay so your water is broken?” Me: “YES!” Midwife: “Are you sure?” Me: “YES YES YES, its pouring out and is not stoping!” call #2 Mike “oh okay well I just got to the dentist ill head back home.” Me: “BABE DRIVE FAST AND GET HOME NOW!” call#3 Kylee: “AHHHHHHHHHHH OMG WOOOOOOOOOO” call #4 Me: “Dayna I don’t think I will be able to make our meeting tonight…” Dayna: “OMG I will be over in 5 minutes!”
And so it began. The next 24hours were filled with the most painful, the most exciting and the most euphoric moments of my life! Seriously. I just get excited talking about my labour… how often do you hear that labour was wonderful? Of course moments of going through it were beyond describable on the pain scale but when I look back at it it was nothing but wonderful… says the ultra runner.
I managed to get myself back up the stairs, grab as many kitchen towels as I could and sit on a chair. I just sat there and waited. Dayna came to my rescue and waited with me! She grabbed towels, got my hospital bags all in order and we waited, for what seemed like the longest 30 minutes of my life, until Mike got home. I still hadn’t felt anything “happening”, not knowing what a contraction feels like, I just assumed it would feel like I was being struck by a lighting bolt or something crazy, which was not the case at this point. Mike loaded our stuff into the car… he came back up the stairs and looked at me as if to say… what are you waiting for lets go… but I couldn’t get up… every time I moved the flood gates opened up. I had no idea what to do… we wrapped towels around me, stuffed towels into my shorts, covered the seat of the car in plastic and finally made it out of the house. It has now been 1.5h since my water broke.
For some reason I remember the car ride there being on the quiet side and thinking to myself “GRRRR… I missed my workout!”. But it’s not really important. We parked and just as it was meant to be there was a wheel chair left by the door to elevator, I maneuvered myself onto it and Mike wheeled me up. Once in the maternity ward we checked in and waited and waited… and waited. By the time I was moved into triage to get changed and checked out it was 6:00pm. They nurse says “get changed in the bathroom, put this diaper thing on and this gown.” HA… really. Like I said every time I moved… flood gates… Enough said. Finally I am laying down. I had lost over 5cm in belly size from water loss so far… my stomach measured 5cm smaller.
I tested positive for GBS which meant that I had to be given doses of antibiotics every 4 hours during labor. It was 8:00pm by the time I got my first dose and I still wasn’t feeling any lightning bolts. My midwife recommended that they start me on oxytocin, a hormone that stimulates ripening of the cervix leading to dilation and hopefully progresses contractions. I was really hesitant because I didn’t want to do anything to increase my chances of having a c-section. She said that if I don’t have the baby within 24h of when my water breaks there is a very high chance of c-section due to being GBS positive. So we decided to take a pass on the oxytocin for now and instead they sent me home to rest for a few hours.
Now on the way home… for some reason I turned to Mike and said “I think I want to change the boy name to be the name you like. (which was James, I had another boy named picked out) He looks at me and said “Are you serious?! You are in no condition to be making decisions like this right now…” Me: “Yea… but it doesn’t matter really because it’s going to be a girl anyways.” Even though I had totally convinced myself that it was a girl… if it was a boy we said we will decide the boy name when we meet the babe.
We were to stop at the grocery store on the way home to get the items needed to make “the labor cocktail”. By the time we got home around 9:30pm, I downed the cocktail and laid in bed, it’s now 10:00pm. I had all of 1.5h until we needed to leave again to head back to the hospital. No I didn’t sleep, I laid and just focused on the baby moving around.
Time seemed to be passing by so quickly. Now 11:30pm and headed back to the hospital. We were back in triage. My midwife came over and asked if I was having any contractions yet. I said no. She started to examine my stomach… “Are you sure your not feeling contractions?” she said. “I think I’m sure…” I said. “Well your having one right now!” she explained…. “Ohhh really?! Is that what that feeling is? I thought I was just feeling the baby moving around…” This feeling she pointed out to me… I had been feeling since we had gotten home!
When my water broke I was in OMG OMG mode, mainly because there was a lake at my front door… but once we got to the hospital I had kept myself super calm. I was very scared to push out a baby… one of my biggest fears in life… but I was so determined to have a natural birth… that it was just like I approached every situation that made me scared… calmly, I am strong and I can do it. I was also absolutely set 100% on not having an epidural. I was as afraid of that needle as much as I was to push out a baby. We were going natural all the way. Of course I knew that most birth plans go out the window once labour progresses but my midwife told me that most women change their minds and veer from there plans because of the length of labor not because of the pain of labor. Well endurance is my best friend and so if I could mentally overcome the pain I was set!
12:00am second dose of antibiotics. Triage was packed. There were no rooms available for me to move into so I went from walking the halls, as contractions increased, to sharing a bed (in triage) with Mike. 4:00am third dose of antibiotics. 5:00am we are moved into a private room. Finally… privacy, our own space… we get all set. Contractions so far were still mild but moving into a feeling that would stop me in my steps if I were walking. It was now time to start Oxytocin. At this point I hadn’t eaten anything since my snack around 3:00pm the day before. I was told that once on Oxytocin, I was not allowed to eat anything and could only drink water. Not that I had much of an appetite, I new I would need energy and calories to get me through. Mike grabbed a muffin from the coffee shop and at 5:30am the Oxytocin was dripping into my veins.
Once you are on Oxytocin, your heart rate, the babies heart rate and your contractions have to be constantly monitored. I had a belt across my belly for the baby and one across my chest for me. I was hooked up to the heart rate machine which didn’t allow me to much room to move around. I wasn’t bound to the bed but there wasn’t any walking the halls. I actually found this process to be exactly what I needed. I had a nurse in the room always. I could see both my heart rate, the babies heart rate and my contractions as they were happening. All of these lines, that looked like elevation profiles, were printing out of the machine onto endless paper, it made me feel like I had control. Once one contraction ended and the peak dropped I knew when the next one was coming and I was prepared! I could also see how the baby was doing. Keeping calm, just like me! I am a very visual person and seeing what was going on made me completely understand it.
I don’t remember the exact time but maybe around the 10:00am point my contractions had increased to pain that I would keel over to. I started on the laughing gas. This s**t was amazing.
As contractions kept increasing, becoming closer together and lasting longer, I moved from the bed to the exercise ball. This was a landmark point and game changer in my day and one of the few clear memories I have. I sat on the ball at the end of the bed watching Friends on the iPad. Every inhale of gas rose me to a new level of eutrophic feeling. I was a little high and loving it. Each contraction now was “real” pain. I so happened to be watching the episode where Phoebe offers to carry and birth her brothers children… I vividly remember yelling at Phoebe… “DON’T DO IT PHOEBE DON’T DO IT!” The nurse and Mike are both laughing so hard. “Babe take a video of me during a contraction and then send it to my running friends so they can see what real pain looks like!” as I am breathing in gas and laughing like a crazy person… (He wouldn’t take a video)
By the time 1:00pm rolled around contractions had become a 10/10 for pain. I was rolling side to side on the bed, yelling and screaming. This, unfortunately, was not the right timing for pushing contractions because I was hardly 4cm dilated. The pain had become so intense I actually don’t remember to much other then screaming for an epidural.
The nurse and the midwife together decided that it would be okay for them to take me off the Oxytocin drip, unhook the heart rate monitor for a short period of time to try and let my body relax. Take a few steps back. I was lucky enough to get one of the 2 out of 40 rooms in the unit with a bath tub, we decided a warm bath was just what I needed. The contracts slowly started to regulate. I remember laying in the tub and the epidural lady arriving, she poked her head into the bathroom and I told her, sharply to go away! I am so thankful that my midwife and the nurse had the experience to know when to ease off and really focused on my needs and my goals because if I was still laying in the bed in the pain I was in I’m sure the epidural would have been the outcome. But instead I was back to earth and ready to stick to the game plan.
2:00pm… I am starving. Hangry. My new motivation: to get out of the tub and hook back up the to Oxy to get this baby out… was food. Lets do this… I am hungry. Breaking all rules, but seriously the best idea… my midwife allowed me to sip on some coconut water instead of eating ice chips. YUM. Coconut water… what a glorious liquid. Game changer #2. Of course through this entire process I am treating it like a race… you bonk… have a crazy low at some point until you get to an aid station and have a chip or sip of coke and then your a new person. This is was happened to me. Out of the tub, a few quick laps down the halls and I was back in the game.
Hook me up ladies… Let’s have this baby. I am still managing contractions solely with the gas. My memories after this point are quite blurred. Contractions increase quickly again. I remember lying on the bed and the midwife coming in to do a check. I was asleep or passed out but I could still hear voices… “she is asleep” they said… “okay lets let her sleep I will come back in a bit.” Im thinking I am asleep?
The next thing I remember is the midwife saying that I was now 8cm dilated. Getting close. Around the 6:00pm point the nurses tried to put me into the bath again because I was back into the 10/10 pain cave. But it didn’t work this time, I didn’t relax, it didn’t help with the pain. It didn’t last long. Back to the bed. I then remember the nurse saying it’s going to happen soon you should tell your families it’s time to make their way to the hospital.
This is the next 1.5h as I remember it: I was kneeling on the bed facing the back of the bed (I had seen in one of the videos at lamas class that this is usually a comfortable position for labor) I think I was crazy thinking I wanted to give birth like this. So there I am kneeling, breathing in the gas mask, when all of a sudden… it’s time to push?! I am screaming through contractions and this one in particular scared the s**t out of me because I still was afraid of pushing… I didn’t tell anyone that I felt this urge to push because I didn’t want to… I moved back to lying on my back… and then there it was again. Not pushing is not an option during birth unfortunately so… it was time to push. “OMG I have to push now!” I remember gripping Mikes arm on the side of the bed with my right hand. Screaming. Everyone telling me to push push push, big push you can do it… and then blackness… and then after what seemed like 20 minutes or so id be back to push push push… sip of water… and then blackness… push push push… sip of water… blackness. Muffled voices “It’s so crazy how she can just pass out after every push”. Another contraction, I am trying to breath in the gas from the mask but theres nothing there! It’s like I can’t breath… Im yelling at everyone… WHERE’S THE GAS!!! (I had emptied the tank) By the time they got it refilled I had gone through at least 3 contractions with nothing masking any of the pain. This was fun… I went through every pushing contraction followed by literally passing out. The pain, the trauma… the effort of my body was so extreme… (Mike told me the next day that when I would awake from passing out I would yell really mean things to the nurses… I did my round of apologies!)
Mike screams… He had moved his arm from my holding grip to grab the water I told him to get but because he moved his arm my hand was free and grabbed the next closest thing… his stomach skin… clearly I grabbed hard because he screamed and keeled over.
“Babe I can see the head! I can see the head!!! You’re so close… a few more big pushes.” Nurse: “would you like to reach down and touch the head?!” Me, in my head ” WTF!!! NO woman are you F’ing crazy NOOOO!” I think I politely said no…thank you…?
“Babe the head is out! The head is out! OMG the head is out!” Me, in my head “Uhmmm I KNOW!!!! I CAN FEEL IT!!!”
One last push and my baby was laying on my chest. It’s beyond euphoric. This experience. Feeling every part of your baby as they make their way into the world. I remember looking down at the babies face, feeling a warm trickle of pee run down my side and laughing… but wait… what is it?! The movement from coming out to being on my chest happened so quickly that there was no time for gender reveal… I looked down… looked at Mike “what is it!?” There was a lot of hustle going on around in the room. My world was standing still in this moment… there was so much movement around me… I lifted a little leg and looked over to Mike and said “There’s balls!… Babe it’s a boy, there’s balls.” (Starting things off with my proud words.) And then I just stayed in this moment, I kept saying to this little baby laying on my chest that I was so proud of him. “I am so proud of you.” He was so strong through labor, just as strong as me. It is because of his strength I was able to have the strength to carry through what I was so scared to do and to do it naturally.
Now if you haven’t given birth before… you push this baby out and then wait you have to push again… the placenta detaches from the uterus and makes an exit shortly after the baby… so when she said okay one more push… I thought please noooo! But of course nature takes its course and the body does what is required.
Still looking down at this little babies face I now had to decide between two boy names. It was pretty instant which name was his. Mike asked me and I said “It’s James.” It was now his proud moment to head into the waiting room to share the news with our parents.
I pushed for about 50 minutes. James was born at 7:58pm on September 7th. Helen has a birthday buddy. James arrived 9 days early. 7 pounds 8oz.
(next blog: what happen’s next)