I have a history of childhood sexual abuse and was raped when I was 18 years old.
When I became pregnant unexpectedly, I was filled with many emotions, including fear. I had heard other women’s hospital birth experiences and I was terrified of having a “stranger” (male) deliver my baby or having strangers coming in and out of my room. I definitely did not want any of these people putting their fingers in me. When I talked to public health nurses about my history, she told me to get counseling because there was a possibility that I would be “held down” during labor and I might not handle that well. That only made things worse.
I did my research and my best bet was to birth at home with a midwife; though many discouraged me from even trying because of my age (over 35 years). So I called local midwifery clinics/practices but was put on waiting lists and told there was no chance I would get one for my due date. [Note: midwifery is covered by our provincial/Canadian health care system so there is a substantial demand for midwives.] I did see an OB in the meantime. As I got closer to my due date, I became more terrified. Alas, I was called at 34 weeks and a midwife would be available if I still wanted one. I met my midwife, Allison, a few days later and we instantly clicked. In that first meeting we discussed my home birth hopes.
On Tuesday night (July 21) my husband went to sleep before midnight but I stayed up to eat.
However, I was incredibly nauseous by 1:30 am when I began having strong cramping and thought they were some weird gas pains. Within an hour, I knew they were not gas pains but contractions. They were hitting me hard, fast and strong. About an hour in, I woke up my husband.
I waited for the 5-1-1 rule (about 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in length for over 1 hour) and called my midwife around 4 am. She came to see me a half hour later and I was only 1 cm (yup). I was thinking, what the heck – all that for nothing? I thought I was in *big* trouble. She told me to get some sleep because it will be a while before anything really happens. I felt like a complete idiot. No, I felt like a first-time-mom.
After Allison left, I was still getting strong contractions and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to rest.
My husband then filled our bathtub and I got in. It was so incredibly soothing. My husband later told me he thought it was cute that I was falling asleep between the contractions. “I wasn’t sleeping!” I told him. He told me I was snoring and showed me the video. Ha! Ha! Joke was on me.
By 6 am, the water had cooled and it was no longer working to help me cope. I just couldn’t get comfortable in the tub. When I got out, I asked my husband to call our doula and ask her to come because I was not coping very well. I actually started screaming through some contractions. After all my preparation I found myself feeling pretty clueless about what to do. My husband’s suggestions to: “Just relax! You need to relax” wasn’t helpful either.
My doula was at our place by 8 am.
As soon as she got there she helped. She helped a great deal. Just having her there was so incredibly soothing. I stopped screaming, so that was a bonus.
By 11 am, I thought my water had broke – I felt “some” leaking.
My doula had to convince me to call my midwife since I was afraid to after my 4 am fiasco. Allison told me to come in to see her at the clinic because she had appointments and didn’t want to cancel them if I wasn’t in labour, which she figured I was not. And I didn’t want her to come see me if I wasn’t either.
So I finally made it in by 12:30 pm (some knock-‘em-out contractions made me a little slow) even though it is only 15 minutes away. I thought I must have looked funny, stopping and dancing through my contractions, move a few steps, dance some more – especially in our driveway. Whenever I imagined what I looked like, I’d laugh.
When I got to the clinic, there were a few “Oh my. She’s in labour.”
And “I hope she’s not here to see Allison.” (I was. Sorry ladies). When Allison checked me she was aghast that I was already 5 cm. “I guess we’re going back home.” What was really funny was that the hospital is across the street from the midwifery clinic.
So we get back home.
I’m checked again around 1:45 pm at my request and I’m still only 5 cm. I start crying or rather bawling uncontrollably. I’m thinking I am not going to make it and I probably said something to that effect. My doula and Allison assured me that I would make it. I tried to walk around but I didn’t like that as much as squatting on the toilet (who knew?). My water then broke (turns out it wasn’t broken before – again first-time-mom stuff). The contractions came stronger and harder after that. My husband and doula then began filling up my birthing pool we had set up in our empty nursery.
Just before I got in the pool at about 2:50 pm, I turned to my husband and said (pardon my language) “Okay, so, was I f***in’ retarded for not taking the drugs?”Yes, those were my exact words. It gave us a laugh and distracted me a bit. I think I was making a few other jokes. Allison kept saying she couldn’t believe my sense of humor.
I wasn’t in the pool for more than 10 minutes, when I said I thought I needed to push, but wasn’t sure.
I laughed out loud after saying so. Allison asked me if I wanted to be checked first before I started to push. My doula later told me that I was making some different deep noises (I call them my good *bear* noises).
A few contractions later, I was on my bed.
All I heard was a surprised voice, “You’re ready to go. There’s no time to get back into the water.” I turned to my husband, started tearing up and said “this is it. We’re going to be parents now.” He kissed my head.
My doula helped get me up on my side and I think there was maybe two contractions when my midwife said, “pick up your baby.” I thought I had heard her wrong because I hadn’t done any real pushing yet and I could feel my baby’s legs still kicking around inside me. So I said, “What did you say?” and then she was calling out “reach down and grab your daughter!” I reached down and pulled her up on my naked chest and kissed her head. My husband and I started crying.
My midwife was shocked at how fast my delivery was but I had warned her – just the day before. It’s a family thing. I had a small tear and some stitches (yuck & ouch!) because my daughter had her hand in a fist on her face as she came out. She held that hand on her face for weeks afterward.
She was fairly calm with small cries here and there, but no screaming like in the movies or on television. I really liked that. Allison waited until the umbilical chord stopped pulsating and then asked my husband if he wanted to cut it, which he did.
It was so nice to cuddle with her in my own big bed with my husband by my side.
It was even better to have the midwives helped me breastfeed her within half-hour of her being born.
It was some time before they took her to be measured and weighed (8lbs-2oz and 21”) When they pulled her off of me, I noticed that she had pooped on my belly. Wow, it didn’t take me long to be christened by my baby’s poop!
It took us over two hours before we even called anyone to let them know as we basked in the glow for many hours.
I was glad that only my husband, my doula and my midwife were in my delivery room – though I wouldn’t have minded my second midwife either. I didn’t have to meet any nurses or the on-call doctor who may or may not have been male. I laboured mostly naked and I was actually okay with that. I did not feel violated and I did feel safe. It is what I wanted and it was what I needed to have a wonderful birth. My only regret? Not taking enough pictures!
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