N’s Birth Story *Long*
“Out on the ocean the ship’s sailing away. I can hardly wait to see you come of age. I guess we’ll just have to be patient. ‘Cause it’s a long way to go. And a hard row to hoe. A long way to go but in the mean time…….Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful boy.” – John Lennon
1:33AM – Water Breaks at home in bed (Déjà vu for your Dad and me or what?!)
3:00AM – Woke to the shakes & knew you were going to arrive today. We messaged our doula (L) to let her know my suspicions and went back to bed.
8:34AM – Called L to let her know I’m beginning to feel real contractions.
8:41AM – L arrives. Contractions are every 2-3 minutes lasting anywhere from 15 secs to 1 min
9:21AM – Leave for the hospital
9:31AM – Arrived at the hospital and was taken straight to L&D Room #90
9:50AM – 5 cm, 100% effaced, +1 station. Dr. P was paged.
10:35AM – Body started spontaneously pushing with every contraction. I was 10cm. Dr. P was paged again.
10:47AM – Dr. P burst into the room & prepped the bed
10:53AM – Given the ok to push. One set of pushes and out you came.
10:54AM – N was born 3 weeks 4 days early measuring 17.9″ long and weighing 5 lbs 2 oz.
Your story begins, just as your older brother’s story, long before the day of your arrival. It began on August 15th, 2011 when I found our dreams of having a second child were now within our grasp. We had to been waiting and wanting you for quite some time and just in time for our 5th wedding anniversary. As soon as we knew we were ready for a second baby I told your Dad that we were going to have an April baby. I just felt April. I was right….barely, but we’ll get to that later. After a couple days of feeling off and experiencing hot flashes I knew I wanted to test that morning. I didn’t tell your Dad. I wanted to surprise him if I could since I couldn’t manage to do that with your brother. So I waited until I knew your Dad had left for work and headed to the bathroom.
I used a cheap test and I swear a shadow of a line appeared immediately but it was a squinter if I ever did see one. I was so excited but wasn’t sure so I tested again with a better test. So at 7:25am I got a dark line and confirmation that I was pregnant with an EDD of April 26th! I was over the moon and bursting at the seams. Now I spent the morning trying to figure out how I was going to tell your Dad. He even came home to have lunch with me and your brother and I didn’t let it slip. I had come up with a plan.
It was our anniversary in a couple days so I put the test with a note in an old chain box and wrapped it in a blue bow. As soon as he got home I told him to sit down and I was going to give him an early anniversary present. I may have even told him I was going to give him a gift each day until the anniversary as a countdown so he wouldn’t suspect anything. I was feeling paranoid. I grabbed the camera and told him to close his eyes and I gave him the box. I knew he wanted a chain and I chuckled on the inside because I knew that’s what he thought he was getting. He couldn’t have been more wrong. He opened the box and immediately closed the lid and said “really?!” and he began to well up. He slowly opened the box again and peeked in and started beaming. He was so happy. I was so happy. Your poor brother had no idea what was going on. hehe I couldn’t wait to feel you growing in my belly and meet you come April.
This marks the beginning of your story. Our journey.
It started a little different this time. There was no scare in the first trimester but since your brother was born my glucose levels weren’t the greatest. I was on medication trying to manage it and I knew I was bound for insulin. I had an appointment at the clinic as soon as I got back from the Maritimes and I was right, I was put onto insulin immediately. It’s safer and more effective and let’s be honest, we knew it was going to happen by the end anyway so why not get a handle on it now. For the most part it was easier to get a hold of this time and I kept my numbers tight. I even had an A1C of 5.3 and that is AWESOME! I did though struggle with lows which I never had in my life. They would come randomly and they almost always were in the middle of the night seemingly to come out of nowhere. I was frustrated. I’d back off my units once this happened but would have to go right back up again because they were too high in the morning and things would be fine. It was bizarre and annoying.
But because I was now labelled Diabetic, not just gestational, and was on insulin from the get-go I was sent to the high risk clinic where I would get an ultrasound at every appointment and the same Dr. would follow me the whole way through. Her name was Dr. O. She kept a close eye on my glucose levels and you. She sent me for every test that I could be sent for just to monitor you and make sure nothing was amiss. It involved many trips to Calgary but it was so worth it to see you happily bouncing away. Each test was amazing and gave us great results. I was feeling so happy and confident with this pregnancy and my body. I love being pregnant. I don’t mind gaining weight (for this) and my belly grew so much faster this time. I loved every minute.
In the end I had 10 ultrasounds at the OB’s office, 4 in Calgary, and 5 here in the Hat and no one anticipated what we were going to find after you were born. No one was able to prepare us. We were blindsided but you are beautiful and a warrior and we love you. You are perfect, don’t let anyone ever make you believe otherwise.
Now on with your actual birth story.
I was determined I was going to make it longer than I had with your brother. I was ready to excitedly exclaim on Facebook and to whoever would listen that this was the longest I’ve ever been pregnant; but, you had other plans. I should have known. This was the first line in the last entry in my pregnancy journal on March 28th: “Well, my spidey senses are beginning to tingle. I really now feel like you will be joining us sooner or later, which is the complete opposite of what I’ve been saying all along.” Never doubt a Mother’s intuition.
We had spent the month of March trying to get the basement as close to inspection ready as we could because we knew if we waited until April it wouldn’t get done. Your Dad and I spent the week before you came painting (something I love to do) and then your Dad would come home from work and go to to work laying tile in the basement. He’d stay up until the wee hours so we would be ready. It was March 29th and your Dad just working on the last step of the tiles, grouting. I had a busy day. I had 7 appointments. I had my 36 week maternity appointment with Dr. O, an appointment about my insulin & glucose levels with Dr. A, a dental hygiene appointment, a Non-Stress Test, eyebrow waxing & prenatal massage, finished with my prenatal fitness class. I came home and spent a couple minutes with your brother and once he was on bed I relaxed on the couch before crawling into my bed. Your Dad came up to tell me he was almost done with grouting and to give me a kiss goodnight. I turned back over to go to sleep and that’s when I felt an all too familiar gush. I said to your Dad, ” I’m pretty sure my water just broke.” He thought I was joking because earlier in the evening I was saying I really hope I don’t go into labour tonight because I spent the whole day running to appointments and away from E and I’m tired. My fitness instructor at my prenatal class said that my hips were working perfectly and my body must be loosening up for labour and I said, don’t even joke, my sugars have been in control all week and I haven’t had any lows and last time that happened I had E. But I was only 36 weeks so I was sure it wasn’t happening anytime soon. Wrong. It was 1:33am.
I got up and went to the bathroom and was certain it was my waters. I didn’t know what to do. I cried. I wasn’t ready being done with pregnancy. I wasn’t ready because the basement and house wasn’t ready, I hadn’t even done your laundry yet. Heck, I had no clean clothes. I wasn’t ready because I was only 36 weeks. I wasn’t ready because we hadn’t gotten our maternity pictures done, they were scheduled to be done on Saturday the 31st. I wasn’t ready because I wanted more time to have you to myself feeling you kick and roll. I honestly thought I’d at least make it as far as I did with E. But you had your own plans.
I knew I wasn’t going to go into the hospital right away to confirm it because E was sleeping and I was feeling NO contractions or even Braxton Hicks. I was exhausted. Plus I had an NST earlier that day and all was well. I could feel you moving around so I knew you were getting ready. I did opt to call my doula just to give her a heads up though. We talked and said it would be ok for me to go to bed and go in to the hospital in the am since I wasn’t GBS+ and the fluids were clear. So back to bed I go.
The next morning came and everything was still the same. We had breakfast with E and then slowly got everyone ready to head into the hospital to get official confirmation and another NST. I was so worried this would end with me needing an induction. But you had the quickest NST we’ve ever had. You were doing everything you were supposed to and we were cleared to go home and wait. I had a few cuddles with your brother as you were being monitored and he was eating Timbits and watching tv. I was told to come back tomorrow for another NST if labour hadn’t started. I went back again Saturday morning and passed another NST so back home to get ready for our maternity photos that afternoon. I was getting anxious since I had no signs of labour starting anytime soon but was so happy to be getting our pictures done. I even hiked up the SE Hill (quite the feat if I do say so myself). I told the photographer as we were leaving that I really felt we would be having an April Fools’ baby. I don’t know if he thought I was being serious or just making a joke though. I cherished the evening with your Dad and brother because I knew it was going to be our last night as a family of 3. I breathed it all in and made sure everything was ready in case I went into labour in the middle of the night and then went to bed so I could be as rested as possible.
I awoke around 3:51AM with a feeling that something was happening and I woke J to tell him that I knew it was going to happen today. I started to get the shakes and just knew that today was going to be the day. We just sent a message to L that we suspected something was going to start soon and we’d get in touch with her when things got going but we just wanted to let her know since we saw on Facebook that she was in another city doula-ing. 6 minutes after waking I had my first little cramp to let me know things were indeed happening even if I wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t very strong but lasted over 1 min. I didn’t get another cramp for 12 minutes and it lasted for over a minute as well. But it wasn’t painful or close together so we went back to bed to get some rest.
I didn’t wake up again until I heard your brother get up for the day. It was now 7:36AM and I had another light contraction about 1 minute in duration. The next one didn’t come for another 14 minutes. They were still really manageable and I was able to talk to E as he was downstairs eating breakfast and J was packing E’s bag. We called your Dad’s boss to come get E because we knew it was going to happen today and I was getting ansty. I didn’t want to wait too long because things progressed pretty quickly with E and I didn’t want him to see me in pain or be there for the actual birth. This was just around 8:00AM. Just as we made the call, my contractions started coming every 4-6 minutes and were alternating between a minute in duration to 15 secs in duration, because of this pattern I felt I still had lots of time. I was managing quite well just sitting in bed and breathing. I was so excited. E was in bed with me while we were waiting for him to be picked up. I took that moment to take one last Mommy-E picture and I was fighting back tears. Not because I was in pain, but because of how this little man’s life was about to change and he had no idea and I was so happy and excited to be expanding our little family. Your Daddy’s boss came to pick E up and he was so excited to be going to play at his house. One last kiss and wave and E was out the door. I had 2 contractions while your Dad’s boss was there and I remember laughing because as he was leaving he yelled up the stairs to have fun today and I answered “I will, thanks!” and I meant it.
Your Dad called L as soon as E was gone, at 8:34AM, and she asked if we felt she should come over. I was managing fine and because they were alternating between 1 min to 15 secs in duration so I thought things were still early. I didn’t want to be a bother because I know she just got back in from Brooks and I really thought that I had a while to go yet. But she said she’d pop over and if I thought I was managing fine she could go back home until I was ready. She arrived at 8:41AM and I was in the bathroom, same room I was in when she came over when I was labouring your brother. I remember thinking, I need to go to the bathroom lots this time so I don’t need a catheter to empty my bladder before pushing. I was determined to not have that happen again.
I got up and started walking around and talking & breathing through contractions and mentioned to J to get my yoga ball because I didn’t want to have to labour downstairs on the 3rd level. I wanted to avoid stairs so I was going to labour in the kitchen/front room. But, as he was getting the ball L was watching me and rubbing my back. When J got back upstairs she said we needed to get to the hospital. I didn’t object too much but I thought it was too early but she just said that her spidey senses were tingling and we really should go. This was 8:59AM and I didn’t notice, but now realize that my contractions were now coming on top of each other and she was really pushing me to get into the car quickly. If it wasn’t for her I would have stayed at home and probably would have ended up giving birth in my bathroom. Even though they were coming on top of each other they were only lasting 30 secs or so, so I was convinced this wasn’t it yet. It wasn’t painful enough. It wasn’t long enough contractions. But I knew to trust my doula. She’s been through this 1000+ times before and watched my resistance of wanting to go to the hospital last time. But she was right.
I finally got everything and headed to the car at 9:21AM. I was still managing really well. I’d get into my zone and breathe. I remembered from last time the car was the worst part and the most comfortable position was to sit on my knees facing the back of the seat. I made your Dad buckle me in just in case we passed the police. Totally not necessary but in my mind, it needed to be done. We got to the hospital in record time again, your Dad didn’t speed but we didn’t hit one red light. Green all the way. That never happens. The only other time was when we were driving in to deliver E.
We got to the hospital and L went to park and we pulled in the drop off lane. My contractions were on top of each other and was finally realizing this is most definitely it. L grabbed a wheel chair and your Dad went to park the car. Sitting in the wheelchair was pretty brutal but L was moving very quickly! I remember people staring at me like they hadn’t seen a labouring woman before. I wanted to laugh but didn’t have time. We got to the elevator and by this time I wasn’t looking up anymore I was just breathing loudly through my contractions. I could hear an older lady talking to L asking what was wrong and when L told her I was having a baby she was shocked. She kept repeating “Really?! What? Really?” until we got off on the next floor. It was some comic relief during these uncomfortable moments in the wheelchair.
It was now 9:31AM and I tried to talk to the nurse to say who I was and all that but the contractions were coming on too fast so L did all the talking. They know her quite well and once they learned that the contractions were on top of each other and it was my second child, I bypassed the assessment room and was taken straight to L&D room 90. Same room I gave birth to your brother in.
I was assessed at 9:50AM to be 5cm, 100% effaced, +1 station, in LOT position. They paged the Dr. on call (Dr. P) to let him know to make his way in. I was so excited and remember being so happy I made it there before transition this time but L said, we may have made it in sooner but the baby will be here even quicker. I guess your Dad’s eyes bugged out of his head because things went really fast last time and I gave a nervous giggle. Little did I know how right L was. The nurse asked if I would lay on my left side to encourage you to get into optimal position while she prepped me for an IV since I was on insulin. I listened. I did not want to get stuck on my back but if I laid that way much longer I knew I would not move. Once I get in a position & am in pain, I am stubborn and stay there even though it may make things worse for me. I wanted to be more open to things this time and listen to what people were telling me the first time they suggested it. So I laid on my bed holding the rail with my eyes closed and focussing.
As things were picking up I remember the nurse asking me if I wanted her to get the gas ready and I said “No”. I wanted to be completely present throughout this whole process and in that moment I truly thought I didn’t want it. I guess L mouthed to the nurse to get it ready just in case because she knew it was going to get worse very quickly and I might want the option. Again, she was right. Everything was going fuzzy with each contraction and I began to not breathe as deeply. I would hold my breath or take short shallow breaths and that’s not good for managing pain. The mask somehow centred me enough to take deep breaths.
Things now began to get intense and I lost all track of time. But I knew with each passing contraction I was getting closer and closer to holding you in my arms and I couldn’t wait. There were times when the pain seemed unbearable and never ending and I cried out to your Dad that “I can’t do this. J I can’t do this. Ow. Ow. Ow.” I’m sure he felt helpless watching me but he just kept rubbing me and telling me that “Laura, you are doing this. You ARE doing this”. It felt like forever but I was only at the hospital probably 30 minutes at the most at this point and only an hour ago I was perfectly content kissing your brother goodbye for the day. I just kept breathing and trying to block everything out and focusing on what my body was telling me.
It was then when something snapped me out of “my zone” and that is a scary place to be in. It’s like you are out of control and have no way to centre yourself. I just remember closing my eyes and shaking my head back and forth repeating over and over. It hurts. I can’t do this. I’m not ready. It really hurts. It was the first time I felt completely out of control during this process. I was blocking everyone and everything out and I was stuck in this negative feedback loop. Your Dads words of encouragement that were comforting me a few short minutes ago were lost on my ears and I was spiraling. Fast. L realized this pretty quickly and came around to the left side of the bed, releasing the pressure she was placing on my hips, and tried to re-centre me to let me gain back my control. I needed to once again find my “happy place”. She got me to open my eyes and made me look at her while she gave me the encouragement and reminded me to keep breathing and soon it’ll be all over. That was all I needed to break through to me and get back to where I felt in control as one can during transition. Don’t get me wrong, I was now taking DEEEEP breaths with the mask and it was painful but I was back in my zone of moaning and breathing while your Dad rubbed my back or head and L gave counterpressure on my hips.
It’s now 10:35AM and I just gave all control over to the natural instincts of my body. My body started bearing down with each contraction and I just let it happen. I was re-checked and was confirmed to be 10cm and you were right there. I was so close to meeting you and I couldn’t wait. The Dr. still hadn’t made it to the hospital room so I just went with the rhythm my body was producing and I watched the room start filling up. Dr. P was paged again, this time a little more frantic. I could hear the nurse say “she is grunt pushing and the baby is right there.” The nurse was suiting up to catch you and the team from the NICU were racing in. With each spontaneous push you were working and turning and trying to find the easiest way out. You were right there. But I held back pushing on my own, I was letting my body do the work for me. We were hoping the Dr. would make it and honestly, I was content where I was.
Finally at 10:47AM Dr. P burst into the room and prepped the bed. It was go time. The gas was turned off and before they could take the mask I asked if I could keep it. It was my focus. Last time it was ice chips, this time it was an empty gas mask. I remember when I asked to keep the mask that Dr. P asked if it was my “crutch”. I just laughed and said it might be now. I asked if I could stay in this position because I didn’t want to go onto my back and away we went.
At 10:53am I was given the go ahead to push when I felt it was time. I remember everyone cheering me on telling me how you were right there. You were ready and I could do this. I asked if on this last spontaneous push if you stayed in position because you kept retreating back a bit. I was trying to gauge how much work I had ahead of me. But, they could all see your hair and with that came another contraction. I closed my eyes, held my breath, and bore down. Next thing I knew I heard, “Dad are you cutting the cord”. You were here.
One set of active pushes from me and out you came. But, like your brother you had to try and one up him. You presented transversely. Of course you couldn’t do it the expected way. First your brother had a Nuchal Arm and you did this. I immediately joked that maybe our next baby will come out the “right way.” But I was no worse for wear and you were here. I couldn’t believe it. You were so tiny. I didn’t think I could grow babies that small and you had the faintest whimper and littlest cry I’ve ever heard. I immediately began crying and wanted to hold you. I only got to hold you for a split second while your Dad cut the cord then they took you right over to the NICU team waiting. I began to worry because that’s not how it went with your brother. I got to hold him and they waited to give us that time. But it all seemed so fast this time and they had you and there was so many voices and it seemed like so long they had you on that table.
I began to cry. I wanted to see you. Everyone kept commenting on how small you were but I was scared. This isn’t what I remembered. I couldn’t hear you. I couldn’t see you and I was scared. I made your Dad go over and told him to never leave your side. By this point, it probably wasn’t as long as it felt, I was getting frantic. I kept repeating “where’s my baby? I want to see my baby” “is he ok?” “where is he?” “why can’t I hear him”? L was right there by my side explaining what they were doing and was pointing out whenever you made a little squeak. I couldn’t focus on anything but I needed you. They were about to take you next door to the NICU for the regular assessment stuff but someone brought you to me. Finally. It was the first time I got a good look at you and you were beautiful. You had your Daddy’s webbed toes and my crooked pinkies and I loved every inch of you. Every inch.
I guess you needed some help breathing but once you got going you did great! But you gave your Mama a scare. I got my cuddles and then they had to take you & your Dad to do their checks and check your glucose levels. Your Dad never left your side and L never left mine. After what seemed like an eternity your Dad brought you back to me and we gave you some skin to skin time. I was in heaven. You tried latching and we nursed for a couple minutes. It’s a couple minutes I will never forget. It was the one and only time I was able to feed you and I cherish those moments like you would not believe. You were curled up on my chest. You were so content. I was so smitten.
You have opened my eyes and changed my world in an instant. We may unexpectedly be navigating a new world of genetics and syndromes and have obstacles to overcome but you will shock and awe the world. You chose our family for a reason and our love, will, and determination will get us where we need to go.
I have learned that perfect is so different than what I once thought perfect was and, you my dear N, are perfect. You are just as you were made and I love you.
Here are a few photos:
You are one incredible mom Laura. You are an inspiration and I am so happy that you include me in your circle of friends.
Thanks Lisa. I don’t know where I’d be without you. Thank God for University. 😉
I cried with every paragraph I read Laura. You are an exceptional mom and I think you may even be an exceptional writer one of these days. Wishing you all the best. Jim is sick in bed today.. flu, I think. Take care.
Thank you, Marina.