Born Nov 20th, 2006
I’ve had a hard time writing this birth story. There was so much starting and stopping with labour in the weeks before John arrived that it’s hard to express the level of discouragement I had reached by the time he finally came. And I also don’t quite know where the story should begin.
Our first labour rehearsal started Wednesday, November 8th. I woke up to contractions that were consistently 4 minutes apart. Our midwife Ollie was called in, the kids were shipped out, and so began the 48 hour trail run. My sister Tina also arrived in the hopes of being present for the birth. The contractions weren’t painful, just uncomfortable enough to make their presence known. On the first night, I had an episode of increased discomfort that lasted a few hours then subsided back to the contracting I’d been experiencing before. On one hand, I wanted it all over with badly. But I also felt like a watched pot because it wasn’t happening fast enough and everyone else was waiting too. We decided to try castor oil to help things along. I had originally planned not to do anything to induce labour because I’ve also had these false alarms with Sam and Kiara – both castor oil related! But since these contractions had started on their own and had been going on for over 24 hours, I guessed helping them along would be different. On the second night, things intensified enough that I woke Josh up to fill the birth pool – both to relieve the discomfort, and because I believed it really was baby time. I began to fall asleep between the contractions while relaxing in the pool, so decided to go back to bed where I could get a bit of rest before they got worse. I woke up a few hours later to NOTHING. Not a cramp. Not a contraction. I was disappointed, discouraged, tired, and pretty angry. Ollie and I went to Costco to see if walking wouldn’t get things going again. I wasn’t even a bit uncomfortable after walking the entire warehouse! That frustrated me even more, because in the entire month prior I couldn’t have walked that much without feeling at least a little bit crampy.
Ollie and Tina both returned home, the kids came back, and the wait continued. For several days, I was very tired but felt nothing more in terms of cramping or contracting. Ollie assured me that she’s seen these kinds of trial runs before and the woman will usually deliver about a week after her rehearsal. Because Kiara came so fast, it was best to try have have her here waiting it out with me in advance – so she returned on Thursday November 16th. On Friday, as I bustled around with my usual daily routine caring for the kids – I began to experience sharp pelvic pains and a lot of pressure. I was tired and couldn’t tolerate the noise the kids were making, so Josh had his sister Amanda take them. The plan was that she would just have them a few hours while we evaluated whether it was true labour or not. Later in the day, my wonderful in-laws offered to simply take them for the weekend – whether it was real or not. I can never express my gratitude for all of their help with the kids! While it was an enormous relief that the kids were in good care, this was also part of my personal struggle with the whole thing. Most people who know me know that I have a hard time asking for or accepting help, though it is times like this that force me to be better at it. I felt horrible that they had taken the kids once already for a false alarm. It meant taking time from work and being inconvenienced in many ways I am sure I’ll never know about. To ask it of them again was not easy – especially if it was going to be just another false alarm.
All weekend I felt uncomfortable, with contractions that came and went. More significant than what was happening (or not) physically, I became very irritable. I was annoyed at just about everything and everyone. As bad as I wanted it all to be over with, I didn’t think it would ever happen. It was like I was hanging on the edge of labour; not really in labour, but not really out of it either. Just hanging there in frustration; too uncomfortable to look after my kids and be my normal self – but not uncomfortable enough for the baby to come out! Not knowing if it would be another hour, another day, another week. I told Josh that he was the only person in the whole world that I didn’t hate right then. He was such a good sport through it all, staying level headed and not taking my grouchiness personally.
On Sunday afternoon, Ollie suggested one more attempt with castor oil. She felt it might just be what I needed to tip me over the edge into full fledged labour. I was reluctant because I simply couldn’t bear another disappointment. But I was desperate and miserable too, so I did it. Ollie recommends taking a big dose first – 2 ounces, and then 1 tsp every hour after that. I took the first big dose, and the first follow-up dose…but began to feel quite nauseated, so I didn’t take anymore. Around 7pm my contractions were starting to hurt. I attributed it to the influence of the castor oil, and fully expected that they would subside, just like before. I alerted Tina and told her that maybe she should be prepared to come. We also notified Josh’s sister, Amanda.
By 8:30pm or so I was in enough pain that I told Tina to get on the road (she had a 3 hour drive ahead of her). I can’t remember when Josh told Amanda to come, but she arrived too. I was coping with the contractions with a hot water bottle in bed. At that point, I really preferred to just be alone in the dark. I don’t like a lot of fussing or being watched (as those present for the birth will attest to!) Ollie encouraged me to get in the pool whenever I wanted to, but I was scared to do that. I was scared it would make everything stop again. She asked me when I was going to believe it was really labour and I told her I wouldn’t believe it until my water broke. Josh filled up the pool anyway, so it would be ready when I wanted it. Maybe close to midnight I got in. Josh lit one of my new candles and I asked for some Christmas music on. It helped me think about enjoying Christmas with the new baby, as it certainly be over with by then! The pool was pretty hot, but it felt so good that I couldn’t really feel the contractions as much. Ollie likes to say that the water cuts the pain in half (and I agree!) But I wanted to feel the pain at that point…because it re-assured me that something was happening, especially since I was still sure that the contractions were bound to stop at some point. I got out and spent some more time walking around, laying in bed, and watching a movie with everyone. I got back in the pool around 2:30am, and it wasn’t long before the contractions picked up even more and I needed to moan my way through them. Josh sat beside me on a chair. I really needed to feel him there, so I held his hand.
As things progressed, we ran out of Christmas CD’s and I was becoming more distraught during contractions. We put on Mark Mallet’s version of the Rosary. It helped to try to pray along with it during contractions. My water was still intact and maybe it was this additional pressure, but this birth was definitely more painful than my others. I am sure I was getting louder and louder. In my head I was saying “Just this one. Just get through this one.” It was getting quite unbearable and I tried to remind myself that this meant it would be over soon – but I didn’t believe it would be over soon. After awhile I noticed I was bearing down during contractions. With my other births, pushing usually relieved the pain of a contraction…but not this time. Pushing made it worse. I was starting to cry and scream during the contractions. I didn’t think I could do it and was starting to envision a transfer to the hospital. Ollie decided to check me and found that I was at 9cm, just a little bit of cervix left. She asked if I wanted her to try to break my water, as this might just relieve some of the pressure I was feeling. I agreed, but then when she tried to do it I was screaming at her to stop because it hurt so much. So she suggested that I try a change of position for the next contraction to help with the last bit of cervix instead. She recommended getting on my hands and knees, which I did – with no intentions of pushing. The contraction came and BOOM! John was coming! I felt him begin to crown and then my water exploded. I thought I was going to split in half – it was just so much going on at once. I felt the amniotic fluid shooting out, but it still took a lot of effort to push John’s head out. Ollie told me to wait because it appeared the cord was around his neck, which she dealt with while I thought about dying. With my others, it seemed they just slipped out once the head was born – but he still required my hardest pushing effort to get his body out. I screamed him out in a most undignified manner at 4:47am.
I was so relieved that he was out and it was all over, Ollie had to remind me to look at see what the baby was (she had already seen). I was completely shocked to see that he was a boy. Josh cut the cord when it stopped pulsating and then held his new son while I tried to deliver the placenta. I still felt so much burning that I was certain I had ripped all the way to the back, but discovered a little later that it was just a few annoyed hemmroids. Whew! I didn’t need a single stitch.
The water had cooled down a fair bit by then and the placenta was taking it’s time. Ollie tried a bit of gentle cord traction, but I find that really painful and asked if I could pull it myself (while pushing too). I tried that, but it still wasn’t coming. I was getting a bit chilly in the water and was still trembling from birth, so I asked if I could deliver it in the shower instead. Ollie helped me hobble to the bathroom and the hot shower helped relax me and I delivered the placenta at 5:32am.
Then comes my favorite part about homebirth – I had a nice hot shower in my own bathroom, crawled into my own warm bed with my own warm husband and new baby, and we lived happily ever after.
That was beautiful Shawna, especially the ending. LOVED IT! Congratulations!! What a big BOy!
What a great story!! I know how discouraging false starts are!!! No tearing or anything, that's great!! Again, congratulations!!
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