A year ago today I became a mother, officially.
It all started when your due date came and went without a sign of you. We were so convinced you would come early that I’m sure you decided to show us exactly what being a parent was all about and you came almost two weeks late. Also, just for fun you decided to stay breech until January 26th (less than 3 weeks before your due date), when the midwives manually turned you into head down position and thank goodness you stayed there!
Here’s how it all went down…
Thursday, February 16th, 2017 (EDD):
Nothing, not a peep. I had already tried castor oil smoothies 2x by this point and they didn’t work At. All.
Friday, February 24th, (8 days past due):
Midwife gives me a Foley Catheter (a little water filled balloon that sits on top of the cervix) to try to manually dilate my cervix. We had already attempted a few stretch and sweeps by this point but my cervix was too high and far back for the midwife to reach. The Foley starts giving me mild contractions, and we leave it in as long as you possibly can in hopes for it to dilate me to 3cm and fall out on its own. It doesn’t work.
Sunday, February 26th (10 days past due):
We go back to the midwife and she removes it, and my contractions stop.
I think we also tried a stretch and sweep.
Monday February 27th , 2017 (11 days past due):
I can’t remember how many but I know we did a lot of stretch and sweeps, they were painful and a few different midwives tried because no one could reach my cervix. So they tried to find the midwife with the longest fingers***, and it still wasn’t fully successful. I even sat on a birthing stool for them to try.
At 6pm I went for one more round of induction acupuncture (I’d be doing this since 38 weeks and nothing).
Tuesday February 28th, 2017 (12 days past due)*THE BIG DAY*:
So, today was our last shot at having a natural “intervention free” birth and if nothing got started, we had to head to the hospital for an oxytocin drip the following day.
4 am– first contraction (I think because of the acupuncture).
7 am– up for the day, contractions start to get less intense.
9:30 am– head to midwife, she breaks my waters and tells me if I don’t start active labor within 24 hrs we were to meet at the hospital the following morning for a medical induction. We really, really didn’t want this because we really, really wanted to have a home birth.
11 am– Head to Best Buy at the Eaton Centre to buy a camera- had my first *real* contraction (they say you’ll know the difference, and I did) while talking to the salesman, had to excuse myself from the conversation. I told Junior we better get out of there because I didn’t feel like being in labor at the mall.
12:30 pm– Finally home and things are picking up- I’m a doula remember so I think I have a pretty good idea about how things should go. Waiting for contractions to fall into a 4-1-1 pattern and of course they do nothing of the sort. They are short, strong and very close together- I didn’t know this was a thing so I couldn’t understand how quickly things might be moving, so we call the midwife and our doula Angela (most amazing doula ever! www.nutmegconsulting.com). Midwife tells us to call back if one of a short list of things happens and she says it could be as soon as 20 minutes or as long as several hours. We tell Angela our doula to come over.
1 pm– We call the midwife back- the thing on the list happened. Things were getting pretty intense pretty fast. Angela arrives and helps me get into the shower. For some reason the I didn’t want to be in the day light and our bathroom was the darkest place in the condo. I feel like it was some kind of mama bear instinct searching for a nice dark cave to birth in.
2:30 pm– Midwife arrives and checks my dilation etc.- I think I was about 3-4cm dilated at this time. I was on my knees hunched over the edge of the bath tub with the water on very hot blasting down onto my lower back. I had towels under my knees and I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to know what time it was, I didn’t want to know how dilated I was- I was in the zone and I didn’t want anyone to knock me out of it. I was using my Hypnobirthing skills and they really helped me get through this. All I wanted to know was when I could move into the birthing tub. The midwife said I could when I was 6 cm dilated. I wasn’t going anywhere until then, so I stayed in the shower the whole time. I bet the hot water bill that month was pretty high lol!
6 ish pm– I was finally able to make the move to the birthing tub. I remember this transfer taking a lot of energy for me. But I just psyched myself up, got out of the shower and booted it straight out into the living room into the birthing tub. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like it, and the midwife warned me that changing positions might make the contractions more intense, and she was right…However, the tub was SO, SO much more comfortable than being on my knees in the shower! What a relief. However, this is when things really picked up. I remember at one point though, between some contractions, when I was able to take a breather- I turned to everyone in the room and said “wow I thought this would be a lot worse” and they all laughed at me. The contractions got so much more intense that at a certain point I felt like my entire body was seizing up and I was really having to work to get in deep breaths. Junior told me that every single contraction I made crazy noises. I also threw up- a lot, but I think its because my body was contracting everywhere and just forcing whatever was in my stomach out- I don’t recall feeling nauseous. Also all I ate was fruit, and a drink called ginger, lemon switchel that I got out of the First Forty Days postpartum book. I highly recommend having this drink on hand for labor, the idea of anything else completely grossed me out.
8:30 ish pm– My body just started pushing, I wasn’t doing anything to encourage it so I told the midwife what was happening. She told me to resist the urge but I told her I couldn’t really do anything about it. She checked me and was pretty surprised to find that I was 9cm dilated. I went from just under 6cm to over 9cm in an hour and a half. That would explain why things got so intense so quickly. She told me that I didn’t have to resist the urge to push anymore, and I could actually just go with it because I was nearly 10cm. I started pushing leaned over the edge of the tub, but because my midwife was short and the tub was deep, she wasn’t able to really see what was happening so she asked me to turn around and put my arms over the back of the tub so I was facing her and sit on the little seat in the tub. This position was really bad because I kept floating up and couldn’t get my bearings to push down strongly enough. I think I was pushing in the tub for almost, or maybe even over an hour and you were crowning. However, the pushing just wasn’t as effective as the midwife would have liked. She also was a bit worried that he was coming out sunnyside up, and she thought his head might be swelling. Claire told me that she couldn’t quite tell what she was seeing. So in a very stern voice she suddenly said, “Milli, I’m going to need you to get out of the tub RIGHT NOW.” The tone in her voice sounded serious enough that as quick as you know it I was up and crawling out of there with a baby basically hanging out of me (ps. This tub was like 2.5 ft high, so you can imagine this feat).
9:40 ish pm– I crawled up onto the bed (thank god it was like 5 ft away) onto all fours and in two more contractions you were born! However- your umbilical cord was so short, they wouldn’t let me pick you up- and they were worried that it had torn because there was a lot of blood. I think the length of your cord is the reason you couldn’t turn into head down position on your own. Right after you came out, I had to hold you steady on the slippery shower curtain that I was kneeling on on the bed and wait for them to clamp and cut your cord and make sure all was ok It was the longest few moments of the entire process (they said about 2 minutes) waiting to pick you up! You were officially born at 9:58pm. I have to say that out of all of the labor process, the only true pain was the moment your head popped out. That was obviously pretty intense, and yes I did tear a little but it was only a first degree tear… not too bad!
The whole thing was an incredible experience. At no point did I regret our choice to stay home and at no point did I request or even wish for pain medication. Yes there was pain, but it was a different type of pain than I’d ever experienced before- more like the most intense pressure I’ve ever felt. By the way, I had kidney stones at five months pregnant and I would definitely say that was actually worse pain in certain ways than my unmedicated birth expereince.
The whole thing was completely other-worldly and I am completely in awe and amazed at the entire experience. I feel so blessed to have had the birth that we did, and I’m so happy that it all went so well despite the hiccups and tiny scares. Becoming your mother changed me forever- it gave me a deep confidence in myself, a new and bigger focus in life, and the ability to see what is truly important. I am so honored to have gone through such a beautiful rite of passage with you Rosen, and I can’t wait for all you have to teach me still.