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Holly’s birth story (the length of this birth story is not proportional to the length of the labour!)
Saturday, June 19th was my brother’s wedding day. It was a “no kids allowed” event and for months leading up to it we made jokes about our baby being born then and ruining their special day. It turns out our little girl was polite enough to leave them their limelight, but just barely.
During the day I had had a couple of “real” contractions but nothing that made me feel that I’d be going into labour soon. I wasn’t due for another week and had no reason to believe that the baby would come early. I chalked the few contractions up to spending the very hot day on my feet, in heels. A bit before cake time at the reception I told dh that the contractions were starting to come pretty frequently but that they were by no means painful. We figured we’d have some cake and then go home and try and get some sleep, as it looked like the baby might be coming in the next day or two. By the time we got home the contractions were more or less five minutes apart but totally painless. We chatted with our friends who were sitting ds, I read ds a story, put him to bed and got ready for bed myself. I sent our doula a text letting her know what was going on.
I got into bed around 11 and listened to the “easy first stage” or whatever it’s called hypnobabies track. I had been very loosely doing the hypnobabies course (I never finished the program, or had the book or anything, just some”stolen” tracks and info I had gleaned from internet sleuthing). It totally helped calm me down, my contractions spaced out quite a bit and I drifted off to sleep. This is exactly what I had been hoping for; I was really not interested in having a baby that night, I was exhausted and was more than happy to wait another day or more.
Around 1:30am the ol’ familiar ‘pop & gush’ woke me up and I was immediately in pain. I told dh to call my mom as we should probably start planning to go to the hospital. I said “tell her not to run any red lights or anything, but to make her way down eventually, no rush”. I went to the bathroom to shower. I did not make it into the shower, the contractions started to come really quick and really intensely. I tried to just focus on remaining calm and get in my hypnobabies zone but I was nauseous and shaking and kind of freaking out at how I had gone from sleeping to intense labour in a matter of a couple of minutes. I was pretty sure I was in transition but didn’t really want to admit it. I told dh I was scared and he tried to reassure me that everything was ok and help me get ready to go. I told him we really needed to hurry so he called our doula and told her to meet us at the hospital instead of at home, which is where she was headed in a cab.
At some point my Mom arrived, probably about 15 minutes after we had called her. Dh was busy loading the car (guess who hadn’t gotten around to installing the car seat yet?) and I was vocalising through my contractions, that were about 60 to 90 seconds apart. With each contraction I’d kind of crouch down and lean forward on something or just kneel down and rest on my elbows. My Mom, who is unobtrusive to a fault, stayed out of the way in the living room, leaving me to wallow alone in misery. In between contractions I tried to make my way to the front door. I had a good little system of breaking my contractions down into 3 parts and moaning through them.
Feel contraction coming on, take a deep breath,
“mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm” take another breath “mmmMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmm” another breath “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”
About halfway down our front hallaway something changed.
“MMMMMMMMM….UNNNNGGGGHHHHH” Sheer panic. I was pushing. Another contraction and more of the same, except less “mmmmmmm” and more “UNNGGHH” and then, sigh, I said the words I never thought I’d utter in my adult life,
“Mom, I pooped”
My Mom sprung into action to help clean me up. Turns out the accident wasn’t as bad as I had expected, having a baby’s head pushing against your rectum causes misleading sensations. But I was still pushing and things were still a little messy. Dh stepped in and took me to the bathroom to push on the toilet and to clean me up. I was NOT feeling good about myself or the situation. We can kind of laugh about it now.
I can write about it calmly from a distance now but I wish I could convey the real terror I was feeling at the time. I had “planned” and mentally prepared myself for all kinds of possible twists and turns in my labour and delivery but I had not planned for a really fast labour. I know that fear and stress do not make for a pleasant birthing experience but I couldn’t help but freak out, it was all just happening so fast. I did not want to give birth in my hallway, I worried about all kinds of “what ifs” (what if I’m pushing and I’m not actually fully dilated? What if there’s something wrong with the baby when it comes out? What if ds wakes up and is terrified? Etc). The stress and fear made each contraction even harder and more painful as I tried to resist pushing.
I’m not an alarmist and have a bad habit of downplaying most situations but I told dh that he needed to call 911 and get us an ambulance right away. My mom agreed (and she’s worse than me in the “being a tough guy” department). Our hospital is 15-20 minutes away and I was pretty sure we didn’t have that kind of time and I really didn’t want to be having our baby by the side of the road. After calling the ambulance we made our way outside onto the front steps. A contraction hit as the firetruck and ambulance showed up. There I was, howling on all fours on the front steps like a trapped and wounded animal, sirens blaring, lights flashing at about 2:30 in the morning. Hello, neighbours!
The first response team asked a bunch of questions to ***** the situation and informed me that they needed to check me to see if the head was there or what. On my front steps. With lights flashing and surely a curious neighbour or two peeking through their blinds. Amazing. There’s a difference between having no shame while in labour in the delivery room and the front steps of a densely populated city street. I keep telling myself that they were discreet and created some kind of human shield while they pulled down my underwear on my front steps, me on all fours. Oh, god.
After the check it was decided they’d bring me into the living room to deliver the baby. I was more or less ok with that. But once we started to move they changed their mind and decided to take me to the nearest hospital (about 5 minutes by ambulance in the middle of the night). One of the ambulance attendants was really awful and bossy and kind of mean and kept trying to ask me stuff or get me to do stuff during contractions. The other attendant was really sweet and gave me his hand during contractions and focused on just trying to keep me calm. The ride was bumpy and painful but also really quick. Our poor doula was contacted again and told to head to our new hospital destination.
The cool night air going from the ambulance into the hospital felt amazing.
The team at L&D were NOT happy to see me. People were running around, confused, yelling and questioning me like I was the suspect in a major crime. The head nurse was telling us how we can’t just show up there and have a baby, that they had no info on me, blah, blah, blah. Really, lady? There’s a baby coming out of me right now, can we deal with those details after? They got me on the bed but I was on all fours and the head nurse again was freaking out, how I can’t deliver in that position, etc. The other nurses tried to argue with her but I just flipped onto my back so that they could all just shut up. They broke down the bed and the intern took his place between my legs and started to get ready for showtime, while also waiting for the dr to show up. Dh told me later that he asked me what I needed that would help me and I said “nicer people”. I don’t remember that. Anyhow, the intern was super nice. He had a kind of pot smoking Jesus vibe. He was super calm and reassuring and made good eye contact. The doctor showed up and away we went. I could finally push like I really meant to and work with my body. Unfortunately, my body was pretty tense still and the doctor had to talk me down a bit to get me to unclench my legs and, uh, birthng area. Once that was better then she pretty much came right out. They told me to stop pushing and to look down and there came my baby, out and onto my chest. The time was 3:17 am.
During the whole pregnancy I had told dh how much I didn’t want the hospital staff to announce the sex of the baby (had a bad experience with a nasty nurse announcing ds’ sex when he was born), that I wanted one of us to. Dh never saw the big deal about it and never really got why I cared, but when we got to L&D, amidst all the chaos, Dh made sure that everyone knew that we wanted to be the ones to announce the sex. I thought it was sweet for him to remember my one little caprice, especially since our birth plan was sitting useless on file at the hospital we were supposed to be delivering at and our doula was just arriving at this hospital and having a hard time getting in to see us.
We had a good long stretch of skin to skin while they stitched me up (tense delivery is not conducive to a tear free delivery L ) and while dh went to deal with admissions. She latched like a champ and has been a champion nurser ever since. Although the delivery was not what I expected at all and I’m sad to have not been able to have birthed at the super ncb, hippie hospital I was supposed to, I’m pretty happy with the end result and to have had the natural child birth I had so badly wanted. I’m also grateful for an incredibly calm husband and, in the end, a fast delivery. Although this birth story is INCREDIBLY LONG, my active labour and pushing time was less than 2 hours, with a considerable amount of time spent trying not to push.
Holy cow, I cannot believe how long this is! Ten points to you if you made it all the way through!! Thanks for reading.
Some pics of Holly, born June 20th (Father’s day!), 7lb 8oz