I’ve been wanting to post this for a while now, but have had a hard time putting words to this day. (Well, that and every time I sat down to write it, Elliana seemed to need something that required me to use both my hands…rendering me useless for typing) Let me just preface this post by saying how incredible and special this day was for us. We know how blessed we are that we were able to have a home birth and everything went SO smoothly. It’s hard to recapture all that this day was for me, but I’ll try. (and yes, it’s LONG. But when are posts on this blog ever not wordy? Sorry…. at least I included a video?)
If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ll know that I was 10 days overdue with Ellie. It was getting harder and harder to stay patient, knowing that with every passing day, this kid’s birthday was going to be that much closer to Christmas. Every night I went to bed thinking “surely THIS is the night things will happen!”, only to wake up grumpy because I was still very much pregnant.
During the day on the 23rd (which, by this point, I’d just kind of resigned myself to the fact that, like it or not, we were having a Christmas baby) I was having some contractions, but I didn’t get too excited because I’d really been having them for a few weeks already. I had an ultrasound that afternoon (because I was so stinking overdue, they needed to make sure everything was still A-ok in there). I went, saw a smooshed baby in my belly, got a print out of the pictures and headed home.
We were planning on heading to Hamilton that evening to celebrate Ben’s dad’s birthday (which is on the 24th), as they were in town from out east. I wasn’t feeling awesome, and could definitely tell when my contractions were coming and going, even though they weren’t painful. The plan had been for Ben to stay in Hamilton after work, and I would drive in and meet him and the rest of the family, but I told him to come home instead and help me figure this thing out.
After timing things for a bit, and resting in the tub, I decided we should still head in to celebrate with the family, so we did. I’m fairly certain I was a party pooper that night. We went bowling as a family but I opted out, because, you know, nothing messes up your game quite like having a contraction in the middle of your throw. After hanging out at the alley, we headed back to Ben’s brother and wife’s house to do cake and Bokma Christmas. I gotta say, it’s a bit of a weird place to be in when you’re trying to be in party mode, but every 10 minutes or so, you have to stop and deal with a contraction. Again, they weren’t too painful, but I certainly didn’t feel awesome. We headed home early and I hopped back in the tub.
I knew it was too early to do anything significant, and truth be told, I wasn’t even really sure this was the “real thing”, because I had already convinced myself that my baby was going to spite me and come on Christmas day. And HEAVEN HELP THIS CHILD if it puts me through 2 days of labour. I took some tylenol and gravol (on the midwife’s advice…before you get all judgemental on me) and tried to sleep.
At three, after dozing for a while, I woke up Ben and said, “I think it’s time”. Just kidding, I totally didn’t say that. But really -isn’t that what pregnant ladies are supposed to say in the middle of the night?
I did wake him up though, because I was having trouble sleeping through contractions and just wanted someone else to help me time them. I would doze in between them and as hard as I tried to remember what time the clock had said when it started, I was too sleepy and incoherent to be successful. So we got up and I hopped back in the bathtub. I called my midwife who helped me figure out on the phone that things were still pretty early on, take more gravol and get back into bed. (and for the love of pete, let me sleep it’s 4 in the morning! ok, she didn’t say that, but that’s what I would have been thinking if I was her). Ben, meanwhile, set up the living room just in case things got going.
We both went back to bed, and I spent the next few hours dozing in and out of sleep. Finally at 7, I got up and, as you probably guessed by now, got BACK in the bathtub. At 8 am we called our midwife back (I was trying hard to hold out, just to give her an extra bit of sleep, since, well, you know, I totally made her get out of bed at 4 in the morning to answer her phone). After timing things with me on the phone, she said she’d make her way over. And that’s when the fun began!
The Birth Day!
I was in “active labour” when she got there (which is kind of when I started keeping track of things..so when people ask how long I was in labour, I just use the 7 am start time, since things were so sporadic up until that point). I was 4 cm dilated and having contractions about every 4-5 mins apart. The head was super low already though, and my midwife told me the best thing to do was get out of the tub (dang it!) and walk around.
And so we spent our morning just hanging out, moving around, talking, laughing, checking facebook, and every so often I would have to stop and breath through a contraction.
Let me just stop there for a moment and express two things:
- We did hypnobirthing as our prenatal preparation, and I can’t say enough good things about this. My labour was so relaxed, and for the whole labour I felt so in control of things. It made the day so enjoyable to feel like things were manageable and I was able to be very present for everything.
- I can’t express how thankful I was to be at home. I know it’s not for everyone, and this isn’t some subtle jab at those who choose a hospital birth, but for me, I was so grateful to experience my labour in the comfort of my home.
So, there we were, hanging out at home, Ben made us all lunch and smoothies. My midwife just hung out doing her thing, sometimes just talking to us, sometimes doing prep work, and sometimes checking up on me and the baby. (Every 15 minutes actually). Shortly before noon, Ben took a nap. (what a relaxing day it was!)
My midwife checked me again around 1, and I thought FOR SURE things have moved along well. I had been walking up and down our stairs a lot, and contractions were coming pretty frequently. Plus, if I’m being honest, I like to be awesome at things, and I thought FOR SURE having a progressing labour was something I was going to be awesome at. So, she checked me and well, there I was, still at 4 cm. (isn’t there something about pride coming before the fall?) BUT, the head was even lower and she suggested breaking my water. I was nervous about this, knowing it would make things more intense, but she went ahead with it and I instantly went to 6 cm.
And yes, things did get more intense. And it wasn’t always very fun. But, still manageable. And then things kind of got not manageable. I had the thought “ok, I’m done with this”, which actually, was encouraging. Because our hypnobirthing instructor had told us that when I have that thought, it probably means I’m getting REALLY close to the end. (because of the adrenaline hormone kicking in for the final phase…just in case you were curious). So as much as I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore, I knew I could, because I was so close. My midwife told me to walk around for 1 more hour and then they would fill the birth pool. I told her “I can’t do that for another hour” and just sat on our stairs. She told Ben to start filling the tub.
And then it happened. By God’s grace (I’m certain) I fell asleep. Right in the midst of the most intense time, I fell asleep. And this is where I think hypnobirthing is really the way to go. Ben put on one of my birth affirmation/relaxation cd’s, and I just sort of got in the zone. And that is really what got me through that last hour of “transition”. Sure it wasn’t a deep, drool on your pillow kind of sleep,(heck, I was sitting awkwardly on our stairs, kind of curled up with a pillow…) but I was dozing, only half aware of the contractions coming one on top of the other, and everything else going on around me.
When the tub was full, (around 3 pm) I got up and in, and oh sweet instant relief. The very next contraction I felt like I could push and I told our midwife that. She said she wanted to check, since it had only been a few hours that I was at 4-6 cm, and after checking, said yeah, you’re at 9.5…feel free to push. (I would have liked it better if she’d have said “have at ‘er”, but I guess she was trying to be professional).
I pushed for about an hour. And this was such a great time. My body really did just know what to do and sometimes with contractions I would need to push, and sometimes, I wouldn’t. Sometimes I would just talk to Ben and the midwives (the second one had arrived by this point), and sometimes I would just focus on a push.
And then she came. And that was incredible. Ben chose to catch the baby, and so towards the end, both him and the midwife were encouraging me, guiding her out. I clearly remember Ben exlaiming he could see her ears, once the head was out. I clearly remember the midwife saying to give one more push and me saying I couldn’t do that, and her and Ben both saying “yes you can”. And I clearly remember thinking “I am SO close to meeting my baby”
And then at 4:20 pm I did. Ben handed her to me, and in what was probably supposed to be this serene, precious moment, I oh-so-intelligently asked (really loudly) “what is it??!”. The umbilical cord was right between her legs when I took her and I couldn’t tell. But sheesh did I sound like a tool. I held her for a while in the tub and the three of us just spent time looking at each other. She didn’t cry right away, but was SO alert, staring right at us. It was so special to have her right against me, and the midwives did a great job taking pictures for us, and giving us our space as a new family.
I got out of the tub after a while, Ben took Elliana for a little skin to skin time, while the midwives tended to me. I nursed her, and then we just hung out. The midwives went to the other room to do their paper work and there we were. Our new little family. Oh what a feeling. We called some people, the midwives made me some food, and just enjoyed such a special day together.
I’ve put together a little video about Ellie’s birth. It’s mostly pictures, and don’t worry, everything is edited. But there’s one clip, of when she is just born that I had to include. When I was preparing for labour and birth, as nervous as I would sometimes get about the process, the one thing I ALWAYS looked forward to was that moment when the parents meet their baby. Any birth video we watched in class, any pictures I saw, I would be so moved by that moment. It was what made me sure I could do a birth at home without the option of an epidural (which always seemed SO nice!). There was a treasure waiting at the end which made all the hard work SO worth it. And so I wanted to include our moment. Which I effectively ruin by saying “what is it?!!” But then, THEN, Ben tells me it’s a girl. And then he has this moment where he REALIZES what he’s just said, and oh man, does that moment make everything worth it. Listen for that. And know that it is exactly that moment that sums up this birth experience for me.
What an incredible gift from our incredible creator.