I have birthing on the brain these days (for a variety of reasons) so I figured that in the next few days I would share the kid’s birth stories for those of you that haven’t heard them yet. Beware, Morgaine’s, up first, is especially long!
THE JOURNEY TO MORGAINE ELIZABETH
The Freezie Countdown
This birth story actually starts 75 days before my due date when on a humid June evening we bought a box of 64 large Freezies. On the way home from the grocery store I said to Mike, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I ate a Freezie every day and then ended up delivering on the day that I had the last one?” Mike agreed that was possible and would be pretty neat. From hat moment, the box of Freezies became our due date countdown.
I started religiously eating one Freezie a day, with Mike having one here and there for good measure, but, anyone knows that you cannot eat a Freezie a day without getting totally disgusted by their sickly sweetness. As the summer went by my bump grew and grew, my due date got closer and closer but the number of Freezies did not go down near as quickly…
37 weeks came and went. Morag (my midwife) told me I had the perfect home for a homebirth. I cooked. I cleaned. I made my birthing bed. We bought/collected candles, stones, sand and seashells. I ate Freezies.
38 weeks came and went. I cooked. I cleaned. I made my birthing CDs. We prepared my birthing
“alter” (with the above mentioned stuff). I ate Freezies.
39 weeks came and went. I ate the food I’d cooked at 37 weeks. I remade my birthing bed. Liam played with the items on my birthing alter. We made a birthday cake. I also became more reflective. I listened to my birthing music everyday while praying and talking to my Precious One, letting her know that we were ready for her arrival. I cried…I laughed hysterically…sometimes I screamed.
As for my Freezie situation, 10 days before my due date we had 18 left. Mike said that we should throw a barbeque and have Freezies for dessert. I was adamant. No, we couldn’t do that. Only Mum and Dad could participate in the Freezie countdown, it was an unwritten rule. We doubled our Freezie eating efforts but not enough to be done before our due date.
A Practice Run
At 39 weeks 6 days Morag did a sweeping of my membranes but told me that I probably wouldn’t deliver on the weekend but to feel free to prove her wrong. That night I had a lot of contractions and lost what I thought was the elusive mucus plug. Now, according to Dr. Sears most women go into labour within 48 hours of loosing it. 48 hours. I was ecstatic. I told Mike. I was SURE that it was going to happen that night. I contracted regularly all night.
The next morning dawned dark and dreary, not a contraction to be felt. Liam was extremely grouchy and clingy; Mike didn’t feel like working, I just wanted the baby OUT. We nearly drove each other crazy all day until Mike decided that we had to get out of the house. We ended up going to Mike’s parents’ place where Mike’s brother was in visiting from Hull. We had a very relaxing evening with them. Good food. Good wine. Good conversation. Low and behold my contractions started up again during the meal and we decided it was time to head for home.
This time the contractions did not let up over night and actually intensified when I took a bath the next morning. We decided that it was a good time to bring Liam to the inlaws. On the way there we timed the contractions at 3-4 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds. We kissed our precious baby boy good bye figuring that the next time we saw him he’d be a big brother. Mike and I decided to do some last minute errands and bought some healthy labour snacks and chocolate to celebrate with after. We also rented a video game to keep our mind of the long day ahead of us. By that point I had to ask Mike to slow down when I was contracting and on the way home we timed the contractions at consistently 3 minutes apart and lasting close to a minute each.
Those video games got annoying after a little while and the floor was hard! At home I decided it was time to call Sinclair (it was Morag weekend off) to let her know what was going on. She was finishing up at another birth and I reassured her that I did not feel that she needed to come over right away but that I thought that something was probably happening today. Mike and I took turns playing the video game but by 3pm I was finding the video game more annoying than distracting. At this point Sinclair called to let us know she was home and would be over soon (her husband had a quick errand to run).
By the time Sinclair arrived the contractions were becoming erratic albeit more intense. I’d have two or three on top of each other and then not another one for 3 or 4 minutes. An internal check showed that there was noticeable change from my last exam two days earlier but that she didn’t think I was in active labour. She said she felt either my water would break and things would get more intense or things would putter out. Either way Liam should stay with the inlaws because tonight could be the night. “However,” she said, “second time babies like to make a practice run.” She then left for home.
Not long after she left, I got a call from my sister saying that they were having a get together the next day as my father and sister were in town and we never get to all be together. I told her that I wouldn’t be making it as I was probably in labour. Not long after my contractions started to fizzle out some so Mike and I went for a walk to the park and went swinging (we’d gone swinging at the park near the birthing center while I was in labour with Liam). Things didn’t really pick up nor did they stop so at home I had a bath, a glass of wine and went to bed.
I woke up the next morning at 5:30 feeling extremely positive and refreshed. I had a long soak in the tub then got out and put on nice lavender lotion and also gave my bump a nice long massage all the while telling the baby that I understood that she wasn’t ready to come yet. I told her that we’d be patiently waiting for when she was ready. I then got dressed, Mike got up and we went for another walk. From the park we called Mike’s parents to let them know that it had been a false alarm and we went over there and had a very nice family breakfast.
We debated long and hard over whether or not we should make the two hour trip to my sisters. I was not really comfortable with the idea (and I am sure that the midwives wouldn’t have advocated the trip) but I hadn’t had a contraction all morning so we decided to take the chance figuring that we’d have time to make it home should labour start. When we got to my sister’s we realized that it was an early birthday party for my father (who is turning 70 in December). We had a nice time visiting with family and I think that there was Divine Intervention in my “labour” stopping the night before allowing me to make it to the party. It was one in maybe half a dozen times in my life when all my siblings and father were all together at once. I was thankful that I was able to be a part of it.
Time for a Gentle Nudge
Both Sunday (after coming home from my sister’s) and Monday nights I was kept awake by contractions that would diminish by the morning (but never go away completely). We figured that it was time to try and kick things into gear as I was getting tried and very discouraged. I decided to call my osteopath and see what she could offer either to get things going or get them to stop (so I could rest cause inevitably I’d be giving birth sometime in the next week or so and wanted to be ready). I had a nice relaxing treatment with her that same afternoon and after we took Liam to spend the night with the inlaws again so that Mike and I could have a final evening together. We went to McGibbon’s Pub and had a little snack while listening to some good music and then came home and watched television together. We then sat together eating Freezies and talking about the future.
The next day we worked together getting envelopes ready to deliver for Mike’s work and then we went to a really terrible movie together (as Mike said it’d be years before I could go to the theatre again). We then delivered the envelopes together which consisted of going up quite a number of stairs. We picked Liam up from the grandparents and by that point I was feeling tired, achy and not too happy. On the way home Mike and I got into a discussion in which I was lectured on not being appreciative enough of his parents (because I chose to sit in the car while Mike got Liam and I “didn’t sound pleasant enough” when I thanked his Mum). Well, I got very angry and cooked Liam and Mike their supper without sitting down to eat with them. I then asked Mike if he could give Liam a bath and he said he would but not right away (and I wanted it done just then) so I got even more upset and stomped around getting Liam ready for his bath. I’d been having contractions and hadn’t wanted to bathe for fear they’d go away (I always get into the tub with Liam when I bathe him). When I got out I was still feeling angry and maybe a little bit irrational and I ate the LAST two Freezies by myself. I stomped around some more cleaning the house and trying not to scream.
I managed to calm down and some point while watching mindless junk on television Mike and I started talking again. At that point I started doing a wee bit of nipple stimulation to help along the contractions that I was having. Mike and I went to bed around 11 o’clock and for the first time in weeks I didn’t give Mike a list of things to do should I go into labour that night. With my angry energy earlier in the evening I had tidied things to my liking.
The Real Deal
Not long after going to bed I realized that my contractions were getting more intense and closer together. I found that lying down was hard on my back s I got up and went to the washroom where I noticed I was having some bloody show. I then went downstairs to play a couple online games and see if the contractions would continue to pick up. After about an hour I thought I’d like to take a bath and started to try to clean it out myself. After a few minutes I was finding that impossible so I woke Mike up and asked him to help. He was like “you want me to do that NOW?” and I was like, “tonight is THE night.”
I got into the tub and Mike lit some candles and we sat together in the silence. After about half and hour I decided that though it was only quarter after 3, we should call Morag as I was not sure how fast things were going to progress. Mike did the honours of waking the midwife and we spoke briefly and she was on her way.
Early labour….loving the fabric I saved for the birth. She arrived 30 minutes later while I was still in the tub and we talked a few minutes and I briefly sat on the edge of the tub so she could take a listen to the baby (who was perfectly happy). I got back in the tub but Morag said that it might be a good idea for me to get checked. She said that she could do it while I was in the tub but that did not appeal to me so while she was getting her stuff ready in my bedroom I got out of the tub and wrapped myself in the fabric I’d been saving for the birth. Right away I realized that this better be the real deal, Morag was getting all her birthing supplies set up! A few minutes later an internal exam revealed that I was 3 maybe 4 cm, 50% effaced and the baby was still high up there. Discouraged I looked to Morag and asked “Is that good?” “It is good” she replied in her soothing voice as she continued to unpack her stuff.
The next hour or so I was quite restless as Morag got my room all set up for the birth. I wasn’t in pain so much as I didn’t know what to do with myself. Morag tried to give me some suggestions of positions that I could try but nothing really appealed to me. I ended up in the bathroom as my body began cleansing itself in preparation for the birth. As a private person I was shocked when I invited Mike to spend this time with me. For some reason I was quite nervous and having him with me helped.
After a time the 3 of us sat in the living room, me getting up to sway or walk around during contractions, while the sun came up. The contractions were coming about every 3 minutes by this point but I was still able to talk and even laugh at our neighbours who happened to be outside at the crack of dawn painting their patio. I only needed to be free to get up and move around during contractions and I was fine.
Liam checking in with Mum before heading to Grandma and Grandpa’s At 6am we decided that it was time to call the inlaws to get Liam (as I didn’t want Mike leaving to bring Liam to them when I was in active labour). We got Liam up and he came to cuddle with me on the couch where I was trying to take a break. The grandparents arrived 6:45 and were insistent on finding the jacket Liam had worn the previous day (“it was a nice one” Grandpa said) despite me bringing them two other equally suitable jackets. At that point I had enough and went into the bedroom with Morag and only after they left did I realize that I hadn’t even said good-bye to Liam before he’d left. Talk about a guilty Mum moment.
After they left, Mike and Morag had some breakfast while I tried to eat some frozen fruit that before labour I thought would be wonderful. However, sitting at the table while they ate was making me antsy so I went down stairs to see if my sister was online to let her know that she was going to be an aunt again that day. She wasn’t around but I change my user name to “Having a Baby” so all those in cyber space would know that today was the day (I had every intention of updating it or having Mike update it to “Mum and Baby are Fine” as soon as possible after the birth but that didn’t happen so to those in cyberspace I was having a baby for 5 days!!)
Morag decided that she would leave to make a very quick visit to her daughter, who lives in my area. During the 45 minutes that she was gone I had quite a bit of bloody show and the contractions definitely picked up a notch and I got back into the tub. I laboured in there for a while and then felt that I wanted to get checked to see where I was at. The verdict was that I was 4 closer to 5 cm and was completely effaced. Hearing that I’d only dilated 1 cm was discouraging but I knew that going from 50 to 100 percent effaced was a good start. Besides labour hadn’t been too hard up to that point and I was even able to give Mike a quick anatomy lesson regarding the functions of the cervix and what happens during labour (with Morag backing me up).
Not that long afterwards though I felt that being vocal was the thing to do during contractions and I sat in the kitchen and moaned through contractions and also told myself to relax out loud. So it kinda sounded like a deep “Hmmm” and “Relax, just relax”. After a while I moved to the bedroom and sat on my birthing ball and turned on my birthing CD and continued with my moaning that on occasion was getting high pitched to which I immediately said “No” and corrected to return to deep moans.
Somewhere around this point Morag made the call to the aide natale and her assistant midwife and I remember sitting on the toilet trying to tell Mike (who is the driver in our household) the directions for the assistant midwife to take coming from a different highway then the one that the birth center was on (where the original directions I’d written up were from). There seemed like there were so many phone calls being made and coming in (the assistant midwife got lost) and it was breaking my concentration and making me nervous so I decided that it was time begin using some of my birthing aides. I went into my bedroom alone and put on my birthing CD (Enya’s “The Celts” and “Memory of Trees” for those that are interested…..incredible for birth) and sat on my birthing ball facing my birthing alter (on which half the items where missing thanks to Liam). I vocalized through contractions and told myself to relax out loud whenever I could feel my body tense up. The aide natale and assistant midwife arrived and came in to give me and hug and kiss. The assistant midwife sat with me for a couple minutes just holding my hand and then they both made themselves invisible to let me do my thing.
I laboured for the next couple hours using the same method of moaning, telling myself to relax when I tensed up, and changing my vocalizations when they got too high pitched. I spend some time in the tub, in my room and at the kitchen table. Mike was around but at this point things get more fuzzy in my head. I think it was around this point I started holding his hands when a contraction would come on but I am not positive. I know that I’d stand up and lean into him during some of the harder contractions and he asked if I wanted my back rubbed but by this point the contractions were all in my abdomen (with Liam I had back labour the whole time).
I was beginning to feel sick and I thought that eating something might help but when Mike brought out my fruit and apple sauce I knew that it wasn’t what I needed. Morag told me that by this point I should be able to do fine just having sips of water. We were getting close. I started to vocalize that I couldn’t do it any anymore and that I wanted it done (I hate feeling nauseous more than anything else in the world). I took Nux Vomica and that took away most of my sick feelings but I was still saying that I had enough so Morag took me into my room and told me that if the baby was positioned well and her head was engaged then we could break my water and that would speed things up. I thought that would be best because I was wondering if my water was ever going to break. Being born in the caul is supposed to be lucky and chances are my waters would have broken before that point but I was still uneasy about the very slight possibility. I was tired, not so much from the labour which wasn’t intensely painful or lengthy but just from being up much of the night for several nights before hand. Morag checked and I was 7 centimeters, 100% effaced, and the baby was in the correct position. We decided to break my water so Morag went to get Mike and the back-up midwife. At this point I went into the washroom and checked myself (as I really wanted to feel my baby and after the water breaks it isn’t recommended to do internals) and it was amazing to be able to feel my precious wee one’s head and even her hair. I’d checked a couple times through the labour but this was definitely the most impressive cause she was right there.
We broke my waters and the water was tinted with meconium and it was at this point when I lost control in my so far smooth labour. I had a dear online friend with whom I’d conversed a lot with while we were trying to conceive and she had lost her baby the week before at 3 days old from heart problems. The only warning sign that anything was wrong was meconium staining. I wanted the baby out and I wanted the baby out NOW. I needed to see with my own two eyes that she was alright.
The contractions actually began to space out immediately after they broke my waters and Morag said this was not the time to prove her wrong (she’d said that they usually get stronger and closer together after the waters are gone). However, after 15 or so minutes it was obvious she wasn’t wrong. I started to get the urge to push and Morag was sitting in front of me rubbing my legs and letting me know that I was really close. Again, I’m not 100% sure where Mike was but Lynn, the aide natale was behind me applying counter pressure to my back as the pain was radiating back as the baby moved its way lower.
I wasn’t quite ready to beginning pushing in earnest and at some point I moved to the washroom to push on the toilet. I was getting quite panicky at this point as things were moving quicker than what I had anticipated and I was well into transition. I didn’t know what I wanted but what seemed to work was holding onto Mike’s hands while I was contracting but as soon as a contraction was over I’d let go and shake my hands like holding him was something that I didn’t want to do but as soon as another contraction hit I NEEDED him right there to hold. Morag was right beside me rubbing my leg and encouraging me and I started to chant (well, nearly cry) “Mike. Mike, Mike, Morag” during contractions like I was begging them to make it all stop. At some point Morag start to hold my perineum in case the baby came down suddenly and it was decided (though not out loud) that I wasn’t going to make it back to the bedroom to give birth so both the aide natale and the assistant midwife brought in the equipment that would be needed to birth into the bathroom and Mike sat on the edge of the tub and I got onto the birthing stool in front of him.
As soon as I was on the stool I started to shake and start pushing with all my might while leaning back into Mike and holding his hands. With just one push I began to feel the baby move down and past my pubic bone. As this was not a sensation I’d felt with Liam it was both thrilling and a little scary at the same time. Things were moving so quickly and remember wanting to slow things and just breathe through a contraction but the urge to push was so strong. I couldn’t stop shaking.
With just three or four pushes the baby was right there and then she was crowning and the next moment I was hold her wee head in my hands. I had to wait for another contraction for her body to be born but I didn’t have the urge to push while I was “holding” her so Morag had to guide me and tell me to keep pushing her out. Seconds later I was holding my wee one in my arms and all the pain/panic was gone. “That wasn’t so bad” was one of the first words out of my mouth. Mike and I just marveled at the beauty of our wee one and the speed of the arrival. It took us several minutes to check to see if we’d been blessed with a boy or girl. When we took a peak Mike announced that it was a girl and I was like “Oh, my God, a girl…my Precious One”.
After this, I noticed that I was bleeding and I matter of factly said “Oh, I’m bleeding.” The afterwards of the birth was not something that I was prepared for (even though I’d bled with Liam I was not prepared for how serious bleeding could be) and don’t feel the desire to put the details into this birth story. To sum it up though, I bled severely initially but the midwives were able to get that under control with 2 different injections, an IV of a third medication, and lots of pressure applied to the uterus. However, over 3 hours later I was still bleeding much heavier than I should have been and with a second bag of IV meds and more pressure on the uterus I continued to bleed so our only option at that point was to call an ambulance and be transferred to the hospital. Even an hour or two more of blood loss at that rate could be really bad. So 911 was called and within minutes I was on my way to Lasalle Hospital. At the hospital I had two more bags of IV meds and lots of poking and proding (including a catheter) and then just IV fluid to see if the bleeding would stay stable without the medication. 18 hours later I was on my way home with my sweetie though I was very weak and had the wheel chair escort and the works you always see on television.
My midwives were very professional, calm, and compassionate and though I didn’t get the “gentle” third stage I’d longed for it was less traumatic to me then the blood loss with Liam’s birth (I’d had a different midwife I didn’t know, there were students present, the assistant midwife had been trying to keep me present by forcing me to call Liam by his name…with no regard to what I was feeling/wanted to say to him). For Morgaine’s birth, though she actually had to be taken away from me, I was less stressed. As soon as they could the midwives lay her on the bed so I could see her and I focused solely on her while they did what they had to do. Morag was very gentle and kept apologizing for not giving me the third stage I desired. The aide natale brought me warm blankets which felt like I was being hugged by an angel and Morag gently washed the blood off my legs, arms and face and I’ll never forget that (have to say that I think it was the nicest most thoughtful thing anyone has done for me in a long time). There was never a time when I felt truly scared.
Of course, I was upset to not have the afterwards I wanted and having to have Liam meet his sister and see me all hooked up in the hospital was disappointing. I felt mad because I couldn’t take care of myself/Liam or even Morgaine the first days home. I was made to be 100% dependent on others. There were many plans that needed to be changed. However, after a couple days when I started to gain more strength I started to cherish the special time I was given to just be alone and get to know Morgaine.