WARNING: This is a birth story. It’s slightly graphic in nature. If you still think or would like to believe that friendly storks deliver nicely cleaned off cherub babies to a mom and dad’s front door then I would suggest you skip reading this post and, instead, watch a cute YouTube video about kittens or something. There, be warned.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me how ‘it’ went. I assume they mean labour. My reply has been “Good” or “It went well” along with “…but I never want to do that again.” Because it’s true, I never. ever. do.
With that said, it was an amazing experience. Really and truly. I’m so happy and feel very blessed that I was able to get the whole midwife experience. I would recommend it to any low-risk mom. The level of care you receive is beyond phenomenal. As it turns out, I didn’t have either of my midwives at Eli’s birth. My primary wasn’t on call last week and my secondary was attending a birth in the room next to mine. I had an older midwife and a student midwife with me the whole time, as well as a third midwife to assist just with the delivery. I had only met one of them before but, to be honest, I felt completely comfortable with all of them and I was so ‘in the zone’ the whole time that it didn’t matter to me at all. I was at the birth centre with James (who didn’t have to rush me their in a cruiser car) having a natural birth with a midwife. All the things I was hoping and praying for happened, so I have nothing to complain about.
I woke-up at 4:30 in the morning on the 21st feeling some cramping and contractions. I’d previously had a few ‘false’ starts, although I hate to say false because they were clearly getting my body ready for the birth, but I decided to wake-up and have a bath to see if they’d go away or continue on. I wasn’t in pain but I could clearly feel the contractions, pressure and discomfort and they were coming close enough together for a few hours so we decided to call my midwife and go in to get checked-out. We went to the clinic at 11:00 and I had progressed from 3cm (which is where I was sitting for two days) to 4cm, but my contractions weren’t close enough together and weren’t painful enough. While she was checking me she had a bit of a hard time hooking her fingers to figure-out how far I was and I’m sure that all that sweeping helped things along. My midwife said that I’d just know when it was time to come in. I’d have that one contraction where I’d have to hold onto something, breath through it and then I’d look at James and tell him to get me to the birth centre a.s.a.p.
We decided to go to the mall so that I could walk around for a few hours. It was hard work since my hips and feet were killing me, but it’s one of the best ways to get things going and it really helped when I was in early labour with Ammie. I wanted things to move along because I was ready to have the baby that day. The kids were with my mom and James was off work and I was going to do my best to get that baby out!! We walked and walked and walked and walked. Then we walked some more. My contractions started getting more intense but farther apart, every 10 minutes or so. I kept getting calls from the clinic to check-in and see how things were going. James and I decided to go home and if they fizzled then so be it. At about 4:00pm they picked-up and then at 5:30 I had it! I was standing in the kitchen and I could feel my uterus start to contract, but this time I grabbed the counter, deep-breathed all the way through it then announced that we needed to leave for the clinic right. now.
We called the midwife, grabbed our gear and got to the birthing centre at 6:10. My stand-in midwife checked me as she filled-up the birthing tub. I was sitting at 6-7 cm and my cervix was “paper thin”. Great! I thought. I’d progressed and was going to have the baby that day (hopefully)! As we settled in and I paced around the room, grabbing onto things and halting my speech with each wave of pain, I asked James when he thought the baby would be born. He said 8:45. I said 10:00. It was 6:30 by that time.
The birth centre is incredible. It’s more like a spa than a place you’d go to have a baby. The rooms are all decorated nicely, the lights dim way down, each room has a colour theme (my room was called Primrose), the bathrooms are huge, the birthing tub is huge, the beds are huge, the rooms are huge. It’s perfect.
The midwives kept to themselves keeping their voices low and checking my temperature and baby’s heart rate every 15 or 20 minutes. They brought me water and watched each contraction I had closely, but from a distance.
I laboured in the water for a while. It was so warm and relaxing, quite pleasant actually. We dimmed the lights and listened to Del Barber. In between contractions I’d put my head back and watch the dancing reflections on the ceiling, created by the light hitting the ripples of the water.
I had to get out of the water to use the wash room at one point. I have no idea what time it was but I do know that my contractions had become much stronger. There were a few that I’d felt like crying through but the water relaxed me so much that I didn’t realize how intense they were until I got out. About 3 contractions later (out of the water) I felt a lot of pressure. Having a baby feels a lot like needing to take the biggest poop of your life, no joke. It’s something they tell you to watch for while you’re labouring. Well, that’s what I felt. I got on the bed (hands and knees) and had a few more contractions there before I decided that the water was heaven and that I wanted back in.
In discussing labour at the birth centre with James and my midwife I had said that I’d like to spend time in the water, but not deliver in it. James was pretty grossed-out by the idea and so I was. Delivery is messy no matter what way you go about getting the baby out of you but the difference with a water birth is you’re sitting in all of it. I wasn’t really a fan. I said that I’d deliver on the bed.
Ha. I got back in the water and is was only a few moments later when each contraction became a pushing contraction. Up until this point I felt like I was doing really well. I’d been breathing well, resting in between well, I was in the zone. All of that changed when I felt the urge to bear-down and push. I started crying and telling James that I couldn’t do it. So. much. pain. He was beside me (out of the tub) and I was holding onto his arms that were up by my head. His head was right by mine and he kept telling me I was doing an amazing job and that we were almost done.
My midwife checked me and said baby had about an inch more to go. Up until this point they were extremely hands-off, but even with me bearing down and pushing in the tub the three of them just sad on the edge and told me that my body knew what it needed to do and when it needed to do it.
The tub had a few places that were good to put your feet for when it was time push with all your might. And push I did. As each contraction came I pushed and breathed then pushed and breathed. No nurses holding my legs. No counting to 10. No being told what to do. My body went with what felt right and, right when I thought like I was going to die or at the very least tear in half, that good ol’ ring of fire lit-up and I knew the only way to make the pain stop was to get that little bugger out of me. I reached down and felt his head and then gave ‘er. The tub water was still quite clean at this point as my water (or as some medical professionals like to call it ‘sack of waters’…makes me cringe every time) only broke with one of the last contractions, so I was able to see the baby emerge, eyes opened an all. I had a few more pushes and then he was up and on my chest. Purple vernix covered slippery little man. Born at 8:27pm .
The cord was wrapped around his neck, but it wasn’t really tight. He got a 9 out of 10 on the APGAR and they only took a point off because his feet were pretty purple (and his feet look perfect for those of you who’ve been following along). I had a delayed cord clamping (which I requested but is standard procedure for midwives) and had immediate contact with him on my chest.
We’d had a few names picked-out but hadn’t quite decided which one we wanted to go with. We figured that it was one of those things where we’d see him first and then see what name would suit him (if it was a boy). Both James and I, upon seeing him for the first time, thought that he looked like an Eli. So Eli it is.
I moved over to the bed and nursed him a few moments after (although, he did go out with James to meet his Grandma and Grandpa who just so happened to be driving past the birth centre the moment he was born). We stayed at the centre until 1:00am and then decided it was a good time to take our little bundle home and recuperate in our own space.
James and I are so happy with our experience with the midwives at the birth centre. I highly recommend it to other women who are looking for some ‘alternative’ care and a more natural experience. Looking back on my labour I’m amazed at what my body was able to accomplish all on its own. No poking or prodding or drugs or medical interference.
So there it is. Eli’s birth story. You deserve a medal for making it this far.