Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The day the entire world changed

I keep wanting to write this story, but both procrastination and life keeps getting in the way. After a long, full day/night of baby-raising, the last thing one feels like doing is staring at a computer screen for ages (oh, how things have changed in the past four weeks...) but I know that I need to write this down before too much time passes and the details begin to slip away. Even now, I know I need to keep a record of the amazing little things that Bowen does. New things are happening every day, and I know that if I don't somehow record them, they'll quickly pass and I won't remember.

So, my baby's birth story:

On Wednesday November 10th, about a week and a half into my maternity leave, we woke up very early. We'd finally decided, at 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant that we should probably get a nursery set up and were looking to find a smaller desk that fit in the living room, rather than in the nook upstairs. We began the day by going to Jethro's, a new breakfast place that we'd been meaning to try. Toby got huge buttermilk pancakes with bacon inside them, and I got a mexican-type omelette, specifically because it had jalapenos. My whole life I've been a fan of spicy, but for my entire pregnancy I'd had a huge aversion to anything with the slightest of spice to it, but all of a sudden I felt ready to eat jalapenos again!

After our lovely breakfast, we set out on the arduous task of finding a very specific desk. We went into about a dozen thrift and antique store, every one getting more tiring and annoying. Eventually we made a stop at a huge baby store, just to "see," and ended up purchasing our crib and a few miscellaneous items we still needed. On our way home to North Vancouver we stopped at one last thrift store, and ended up finding the right desk. Finally, we were headed home with a bunch of extra furniture and a long evening of setting things up ahead of us.

I wanted to get started on dinner right away (since I was starving!) but Toby wanted company setting up the crib. Thinking that this was just like an Ikea piece of furniture, I agreed and sat at the top of the stairs while he drank a beer and tried to get it done. But... it took forever! For every piece of the crib there were a million alternatives of how it could be put together and for some reason Toby wasn't at his sharpest with directions that evening. After over two and a half hours, we were finally set to come downstairs and make dinner.

I'd planned on making some wheat-free hamburger helper, and Toby was having a rest before tacking the living room project. We were going to get an old desk out, and put in the new antique one we'd found that day. After cutting some onions, I was browning the ground beef and suddenly there was a pop and my water broke. This was the last thing I was expecting.

"My water broke," I calmly told Toby.
"Oh, yeah?" he said with what sounded like a smile. He didn't believe me. When he turned around and I was gone, he believed me.

Even though I was so pregnant, I really didn't expect my water to break. I hadn't been having anything more than the regular Braxton Hicks contractions and for some reason just wasn't expecting it to happen until at least my due date. I called the midwife who suggested that I'd probably just peed myself (even though I was certain I hadn't and although I'd never had my water break before, I had in fact peed myself before) and told me to monitor the situation for a few hours and call her back later.

So I sprung into action. As everyone knows, a baby has to be born within 12-24 hours of the waters breaking, so I knew that this was happening today. I calmly finished making dinner and proceeded to clean the kitchen. After that I got my hospital bag "checklist" and packed the bag. I packed an overnight bag for Sandwiches and did a couple of loads of laundry. I folded a bunch of stuff and put it away. I cut Toby's hair, and then had a shower. I did everything well and methodically, not knowing when I'd have a chance to do this stuff again, and all the while hoping and praying that contractions increased because the last thing I wanted was to be induced. Once the "few hours" the midwife requested were up, I called her and informed her that I'd filled two large pads and a beach towel with liquid, so I was pretty sure that it wasn't a simple case of peeing myself. She agreed and told me to head to the hospital in the morning no matter what, if not sooner, depending on contractions. She made the point of telling me to have a good dinner and get a lot of rest; basically to not "engage" with labour and to not count all this "pre" stuff as being in labour because we had a long day ahead of us. At this point we went out to buy Gravol (I needed something to help me sleep and this is what they suggested) and we tried a few stores before finally getting some. Upon getting home I took two Gravols, had my first half-glass of wine in nine months and as I fell asleep I glanced at the alarm clock: midnight.

By two AM, I could no longer sleep through the contractions. They were very irregular in frequency and length, but they really, really hurt. I was sitting up in bed every few minutes; they were too painful to lie down through. By 2:30 I got out of bed and started walking around the house. While the contractions were not four minutes apart by any means, they were truly increasing in intensity and length. Eventually I sat on our bouncy computer chair and wrote a bunch of emails to our family. A few days later I read them and laughed: I had nonchalantly emailed everyone saying something like, "Just a head's up... my water broke so we're having a baby today. FYI!" The tone of the email is so relaxed and casual, when I was feeling anything but.

By 6:30am, after much pacing, lying down, standing up, and timing the increasingly regular contractions, I knew it was almost time to go. I started pacing upstairs and getting myself ready for a shower, when Toby finally awoke. He called out, "What time is it sweetie?" all sleepily, and I responded, "What time is it?! Look at the fucking clock if you want to know what fucking time it is!" At this point I'd been labouring for four hours, and not in the mood to answer any superfluous questions. Realizing the point we were at, Toby sprang into action too. We got everyone ready, called my sister to arrange dropping off Sandwiches and left the house as a family of three for the last time.

After a stop to drop off Sandwiches and get a coffee for Toby, we arrived at Lions Gate and even though we'd had the hospital tour months before, we walked into the Maternity Unit rather than Labour and Delivery. Upon finally arriving at the correct location, we were put into a room and I was instructed to take all my clothes off and put on the gown. The first nurse checked me and looked puzzled. She said that she couldn't feel my cervix at all, so was confused about me being in so much pain with a cervix that was still high and closed. She asked for a second opinion, and the second nurse stated that EITHER I was not in labour at all OR I was 8 to 9 centimeters dialated.

Really? I know that I'm an all or nothing type of person, but this is what they're telling me? I'd never done this labour thing before, but I knew that I'd just loose it if I wasn't dialated at all after the painful night I'd just experienced.

The next fourty five minutes were spent with the contractions coming on stronger and closer while we waited for my midwife to arrive and confirm the situation, one way or the other. I was getting to the point where I was almost in a black-out, so intense was the pain.

Brynn arrived and calmly checked me. She congratulated me on making it so far on my own and informed me that I was entirely dilated, with just a little edge of my cervix in the way. Everyone kept saying that once I was at the full ten centimetres dilated and pushing already that the pain would stop. What a lie! Even when I started pushing, the pain was the most intense and excruciating that I'd ever experienced.

While we always see shows and movies about this whole thing, my experience was nothing like I'd ever seen. Everything was really left up to me, and I was encouraged to just move along according to how I was feeling. I was asked early on if I felt an urge to push and I didn't. When I did feel an urge to push, I was told it was okay to do so. Everything was up to me, and the rest of the peoeple were simply there to support me.

And this was labour. I didn't feel comfortable lying in the bed, and instead moved around to varying positions. I started on the toilet, and did some pushing there. I next moved to all fours on the bed, and clearly remember feeling quite thankful when someone covered my bare ass with a sheet. Next I squatted on the floor. After that I was on my knees on the floor, with my chest leaning on the bed and Toby holding my hands. The last position was on a little stool on the floor, with Toby behind me "like a bobsled team," as he always describes it.

Each push seemed incredibly long and painful, and it was really an out of body experience. It hurt so much, and after every push I hoped to hear, "One more push! You're almost done!" but never got that. I was quite loud and vocal, but was encouraged to channel that into my pushes, rather than wasting the energy on moaning and yelling. Once the baby crowned, I remembered distinctly about reading about "the ring of fire" and the contractions were nothing compared to the feeling of my vagina being stretched to the size of Bowen's head.

Throughout all this, Toby was amazing. I didn't want him touching me, so he was kind every time I swatted away his hands. He whispered encouragement and looked me in the eyes. He got out of the way when he needed to, and got into it when he needed to also. He was truly THERE and just what I needed.

So, sitting practically on the floor, on a little very antiquated-looking little stool, I was finally asked if I wanted her to be born right there. I said, "Yes!" because I couldn't imagine myself moving anywhere with what felt like a baby right between my legs! I leaned hard into Toby, gave my final push, and after an hour of pushing, Bowen was here.

The lay her on my tummy and we leaned hard into each other and cried and the whole entire world had changed forever. She had her first cry immediately, and I could just not believe that we were parents; that I was her mommy.

Bowen's first moments on earth were surreal, and suddenly I was completely in love with my baby.

Eventually her and Toby went over to an incubator to get weighed, measured, and diapered. She was 20 inches tall, 6 pounds 7 ounces, and beautiful. Her apgar scores were 9 and 10, and I felt incredibly proud that she'd done so well on her first tests ever. Toby was taught how to swaddle her (something that he's still a pro at to this very day!) and after about an hour we were asked whether we wanted to go home. We looked at each other incredously and asked, "Go home? Like, with the baby?!" Imagine! We'd walked into the place a mere three hours ago and now they wanted to send us home?! No way! We decided to stay overnight, and were then transferred to the maternity ward with our new amazing family member.

The next twenty four hours were spent in a daze of love, family, friends, and no sleep. We leaned some basics such as how to bathe the baby, a bit about breast feeding, and the fact that it's indeed normal when a baby sneezes or hiccups.

Once we were discharged, we were truly ready for our new lives to begin, and thrilled to be taking our little Bowen home with us.

And just like that... we made this amazing little thing, and here she is!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on becoming a mommy! And congrats on having a natural birth! I did it drug-free, too, and it's something I'm so proud of. Enjoy the holidays with your daughter!