So here I am, 9 days after welcoming my beautiful baby Jackson into the world and thought that I would take a rare free moment to jot down my birth experience while it’s still fresh in my mind. Jenn had asked me to write a follow up guest blog and it’s a wonderful excuse to take the time to actually record the event. I didn’t think it possible at the time when my mother said I will forget about all the labour pleasantries the second they are over but it’s sort of true. I of course recall my labour and delivery but the memories are fading a bit and I’m thinking that its nature’s way of ensuring people don’t quit after having only one child haha. Your brain focusing on the baby and the joy and not the pain or the icky bits 😉 So here it goes (as an aside I will apologize in advance if the prose is a bit static or if I digress, a breast fed baby equals very little sleep and I’m a bit foggy these days 😉
So I guess I’ll start on Friday September 24th, I had a pretty good day, was just going through the motions and had stopped thinking too much about my overdue baby figuring I’d be having him by induction on the Monday. I went over to my mom and step dad’s for dinner and started feeling a bit “off”. I didn’t have much of an appetite and my stomach felt like I had maybe caught a bit of a flu bug. I had been fighting a head cold for a few days at this point and didn’t think much of it. Fast forward to 9pm and I knew something was happening (well I guess I thought I knew, I was still a little unsure). I think my uncertainty came from a per-conceived idea that contractions would feel sort of like menstrual cramps and the pains I was having were far lower and more sharp. I second guessed the feelings for a bit but finally at 10pm told Steve that we better go to the hospital. The pains were regular at this point and from what I could tell about 5-7mins apart. Let me premise this by saying that on more than one occasion I had said that I did not like the idea of spending 20+hrs in a hospital and wanted to labour as much as possible at home before going in. The thing is though, when you’ve never done it before you have no way of really knowing how long you have and the pain was getting to be intense enough that I thought it best to go ahead. So off to the hospital we went.
I was checked into my birthing room which was actually pretty nice. It was private, with its own bath and although there were necessary medical machines here and there, it actually felt very homey. The nurse on duty hooked me up to the monitor to check my baby’s heartbeat, my blood pressure, the length and severity of my contractions etc. And then did an internal to check my dilation. We were told that it was going to be awhile and asked if we wanted to go home for a bit and then come back. I thought about it and decided that it might be more comfortable to go back home for a bit more time. All the while, being slightly concerned still that I wouldn’t know when it was actually time to go back. I had been watching too much TLC birth stories of people having babies in toilets, cars etc and had myself slightly freaked out. We came home and I tried to lie down and get a little sleep, knowing that since we’d been up since 6:30am that morning we were going to be exhausted! No such luck, contractions my friends are not fun. Obviously but seriously was not prepared for just how distracting the pain would be (even that early on). I could still talk through them and walk so it still wasn’t too bad but sleep was a lost cause. I actually had a snack and watched Steve play a little NHL 11 on the PS3 (it’s how he took his mind off it and I found it nicely distracting too). We got through a couple games and I threw in the towel. Back to the hospital we went. It was around midnight and the nurses welcomed us back and got us settled in comfortably. I have to take a moment to say that the Almonte GH staff are incredible! It was like being surrounded by family. They went out of their way to make us feel as comfortable as possible. They gave me tips for pain and made me feel like any request would be met openly. Anything that would make my time easier was welcomed. Also, for a hospital, the really promoted as natural a delivery as possible, offering all sorts of alternatives for pain management which was so helpful because once I was in REAL pain, all the information I learned in prenatal classes disappeared from my head completely.
So there we were, settled in for a long night (not sure how long at this point but knowing it was going to be a bit of a long haul. I was only 3cms dilated!) So Steve and I spent the next 12hrs wandering around the hospital, walking and breathing through my contractions, bouncing on the birthing ball, sitting in the jaccuzi tub (AMAZING! It saved me for about 2hrs), reading old People magazines, eating baby cookies and waiting. By noon the next day I was checked again and still had a while to go but was progressing. At this point I could no longer walk through the contractions. I focused on a point in the room, breathed, squeezed Steve’s hand and prayed that it wouldn’t be much longer. The nurse offered to give me some fentinal (sp?) to “take the edge off”. She told me it would feel like drinking 5 glasses of wine really fast, and it was. I felt drunk. It didn’t actually take the edge of the pain of the contractions but kind of just made me feel spacey. I’m not sure I’m a fan and probably wouldn’t go that route again. At 2pm my contractions were practically on top of one another and I didn’t think I could take it anymore. I was waiting to hear from the nurse about how much longer we thought it would be and when she had finished another check and figured another 3-5hrs I started to cry (well more of a whimper really). I told her that I couldn’t. I think part of me cried for the pain and part cried for having to admit that I couldn’t take it anymore. I had hoped that I wouldn’t need any major medical interventions. I had read all about labour and thought I had prepared myself to cope and in that moment I felt like a bit of a failure. At the same point, the glimmer of hope that some relief may come was so welcomed. Bring on the epidural!!
I was originally freaked out by the idea of a needle in my back but let me tell you, at 16hrs of labour I didn’t even care. I just wanted a break, just a few moments without the pain. In actuality the epidural wasn’t scary or painful at all. Took all of 5mins and immediately I was a happy camper once again. I even talked to my brother in whistler 5mins before I started to push haha A far cry from the girl that couldn’t even finish a sentence an hour before.
At this point, they had called the Dr (whom I had never seen up to this point haha) the nursing staff was my gang and actually a midwife in training name Kristen too. After having looked into having a midwife, the irony is that I ended up with one anyway. It was nice to have this wonderful combination of hospital staff and a supportive midwife. She was amazing too.
So at about 4:30pm I was ready to go and got the green light to push. It was like running a marathon without moving. It was exhausting! Steve was cooling me off with a damp cloth and counting through my pushes so that I could focus. He was amazing! What an experience. The doctor finally arrived at about 4:45 but the work was nearly done. Actually it was Kristen who delivered Jackson, her very first delivery and a special moment for both of us.
I can’t imagine pushing a baby without an epidural as my 9lb 2 oz baby boy tore me quite a bit but at 5:03pm out he came. A very strange sensation and when they set him on my chest all I could say was “hi baby” over and over again. It was so surreal. I didn’t actually watch so you’d have to ask Steve what the experience was on the side lines but it was quite incredible from my vantage point. They took Jackson off to the side and cleaned him up and weighed him and got him all bundled up and gave him to Steve. Such a proud papa and an amazing coach! The entire time he just kept encouraging me and telling me I was doing an amazing job. It really did help.
In the meantime, Kristen was helping me birth the placenta and then stitched me up so I was good to go. She asked if I wanted to see the placenta and I politely declined, although Steve got a peak I thought I’d seen enough.
I was then moved to my room, another private one with its own bath. It actually looked like a hotel room, I had a phone and a tv and all the comforts of home J I even had supper waiting for me! A welcomed surprise because I hadn’t eaten more than 4 cookies in like 20hrs and was hungry!!
So there we have it, I’m sure that doesn’t actually capture the essence of the experience but it’s what I recall. And like I said, for all the pain and unpleasantness, right now, all I can think of is that beautiful wee baby sleeping next to me. I would do it again in a heartbeat (and hope to someday as Jack needs a sibling!). We spent 6 days in the hospital (Jackson was a little jaundiced so we had a couple days extra to treat that-nothing severe but they wanted to be sure they sent him home happy and healthy and at a good weight). Sometime perhaps I will chronicle my newest adventure-Breast feeding! Another first time mom experience that has had its share of ups and downs and certainly isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. But that’s a chat for another day. Right now, I have to go tend to my muffin who is about ready for another snack J