Daphne’s Birth Story
Daphne Katherine was born May 11, 2011 at 1:23 am at Hopital Saint Luc in Montreal. She was 7lbs and 19.75 inches long.
We were expecting my pregnancy to go to 41 weeks or later and had basically planned for it; Xavier was born at 41.5 weeks and probably would have been born later if I hadn’t been induced. He was also a C-section baby since my labor never progressed past 4 cm. We planned on a VBAC and had a midwife to give us the best possible chances.
Early Tuesday morning around 4:30am I woke up to mild, crampy contractions. I had these a few times and usually they petered out so I wasn’t too excited, but kept an eye on them. Around 5:30 I realized they were continuing and I was also hungry, so I got up to see if changing activity would make them go away. I ate a bowl of cereal and surfed the web for a while and then continued. I still wasn’t convinced so I decided to go back to bed to at least get some rest and figured they would either stop or not.
The contractions continued but I managed to sleep in between them and eventually Sean and Xavier woke up around 7:30am. I got up and got Xavier out of bed and changed him, thinking this would be our last day together with him as our baby. During this, I had a few contractions but they were still quite mild. We had breakfast and showered and took Xavier to daycare. I decided to go along as it was only a 10 minute walk or so and I wanted to spend time together as a family and also to see if walking would pick things up. I had a few contractions along the way and had to stop walking through them, but nothing too painful. We decided this was probably it and called our friends who were supposed to take care of Xavier when we went into labor and let them know.
Once we got home, we decided to call our midwife, Julie, since I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes. She suggested I take a bath to see what happened and then call her back. I got in the bath and everything picked up. The contractions started to be more intense and 3-4 minutes apart and they definitely hurt. We called Julie and let her know and she said I was probably around 4-5 cm and that we could meet her at the hospital. I felt like I probably wasn’t that far along and that I didn’t want to go to the hospital yet so she met us at home. She checked me and I was 1 cm, partly effaced with an anterior cervix. She asked me if I was disappointed and I said no – I really wasn’t – I was pleased that I had gone into labor on my own and things were going. I had gotten a whole cm on my own! This was probably around 10:30am.
At that point, Julie said she needed to visit a family who had their baby the day before so she said I should just continue to labor at home and call her if things got worse. I decided to get back into the bath since it seemed the most comfortable there. Things started to get intense again – about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting at least a minute. I was still tolerating the contractions fairly well, but needed to breathe to get through them. Since things had picked up significantly, we decided to call our midwife and she thought it would be best to go to the hospital and said she would meet us there, although I still felt I probably hadn’t progressed enough to really be at the hospital.
The taxi driver was a combination of wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because he really tried to go fast and burned through several yellow (and red) lights; terrible as a consequence of his speed and rapid starts and stops (plus the potholes here are really bad). We made it in record speed and Sean gave the driver a big tip.
I walked up to the delivery rooms as sitting in the wheelchair was unfathomable. Once we got to the floor, Julie hadn’t yet arrived, but there was another midwife (no clue who) there to meet us. She gave me a yoga ball to sit on, which actually helped me relax a bit in between contractions. By this time I was vocalizing loudly through each contraction and bending over on the sink/bed/whatever. I could feel my cervix being pulled open during each contraction and it was becoming more and more difficult to get through them.
Julie arrived and checked me – 2 cm (but nearly fully effaced). I cried. It wasn’t that I had been labouring very long with that amount of dilation that made me upset, it was the fact that it had become so difficult. Nevertheless, I really wanted to continue with an unmedicated labor for as long as possible so I suggested getting the tub ready as that had helped me at home.
In the 5 minutes it took to get the tub ready, things became even worse – it seemed like each contraction was worse than the previous and I was starting to doubt my abilities to cope. I managed to somehow make it in to the tub and yelled my way through a few contractions. I demanded help. Julie pressed on my back and it did little to relax me; I could barely even feel her hands there.
I got out of the tub and Julie suggested that I try the shower, since standing was more comfortable for me. At this point I was pretty much screaming through each one. I felt completely out of control, like my body was being ripped apart from the insides and the contractions were coming one on top of another. I held on to Sean for during each one and my entire body shook. Is it worth mentioning that the shower wasn’t useful (except to help rinse the copious bloody mucus - which I should have realized was a good sign - away from me)?
This is where everything gets fuzzy. In the shower I realized I couldn’t handle the pain anymore, not for another minute. I asked for the epidural and Julie went to get the nurse and attending OB (the midwife needs to transfer you once you ask for the epidural). Sean and some nurses patted me down and I was bleeding everywhere. The last really bad contraction I clearly remember I was stiff as a board leaning over the bed, screaming and gripping the sheets, etc, as hard as I could. My vision was blurry and I couldn’t hear anything. I asked for something immediately and was offered some nitrous oxide. I screamed into the mask. I was terrified at this point, I thought I might just pass out. At the hospital, they don’t administer the epidural until you have reached 4 cm and at last check I was only 2 cm. I wasn’t sure I could make it that far. The managed to get me to lie down (somehow) and I was examined by a resident to be 5 cm – I dilated 3 cm in about 30 minutes – no wonder it had been so intense. Sean had to go downstairs to get me admitted, since I was no longer officially under the care of the midwife, so Julie, a nurse and the nitrous oxide helped me get through the next however many minutes so they could insert the IV and epidural (neither of which I felt, but I do remember them screaming at me to stay still – have these women not had babies?). A few more really bad contractions, and then things got much better. No pain.
At this point, Julie told me she had thought the epidural was a good idea; my labor seemed to be more intense than other women’s. She said it was good to see me smile. We chatted a bit and I felt guilty I couldn’t have a natural childbirth but tried to stay positive – I had gotten half way on my own and things still seemed to be going well. At that point, Julie said she would go back to her office to do some paperwork but that we should call if we needed anything, or if it was time to push.
A couple hours later, I was checked by a resident and was found to still be at 5 cm, with some swelling. This was not good news. My waters were still intact, however, so they decided to break them to see if that would pick up the contractions, which were still regular, but just not strong enough.
My waters were broken and they left me for a few hours. When they came back to check me I was still at 5 cm. I pretty much lost it at this point – this was almost exactly what happened with Xavier (except that I only got to 4 cm). The resident tried to be supportive and explained that we would start pitocin, we weren’t talking about a C-section. I called Julie and she explained that this was pretty typical after getting an epidural – labor slows down, pitocin is needed, but that it should probably work. She also said we should ask about other signs of progress, such as the station of the baby’s head to see if those were progressing as well, and that she would be at the hospital in an hour. The resident said they would come back and check me again in a couple of hours but if I hadn’t made any progress they would go straight to a C-section and not make me exhaust myself more by waiting. In the meantime, I could hear women in adjacent rooms screaming and yelling and babies being born. I cried and felt like crap. Why was I so weak that I couldn’t make it without medication? Why could other women ‘just have’ their babies? Why was this happening again?
Julie showed up at we talked again. I told her about my fears and cried a little. The resident finally came in and asked me how big my last baby was (8 lbs at 41.5 weeks – average, actually) and asked if I thought this one was bigger or smaller. I said smaller, not to mention the fact that she was a full 2 weeks earlier. She remarked about how high the baby felt. She was indeed still up near my ribs, but I thought that it was probably that she was stretched out. I knew for certain that she was smaller than her big brother and Julie had agreed with me. When the resident finally checked me – she (and Sean and I) were surprised that I was 7 cm and the baby was at -1 station, and therefore had moved down considerably. I was relieved. I knew we weren’t ‘out of the woods’ yet, but at least things were going again. She said someone would come back again in a bit but to let them know if I felt any rectal pressure.
Once they left, we all tried to get some sleep. Julie said she would be down the hall taking a nap and to call her cell when it was time to push.
At 11:45 on May 10th, the resident who had started the pitocin came in. I was 9.5cm, with a tiny lip on one side and she managed to stretch it out to 10cm - I was complete! And so, so relieved. Normally they like to let mothers labor down – let the contractions do the work for an hour or so before pushing, but because I was a VBAC they decided not to – the baby had shown some slight heart decelerations so they decided that once the next shift came in, I would start pushing. We called Julie to let her know.
At 12:10am I started pushing. We did one practice push and the nurse remarked that I was an effective pusher. I told Sean that if those fat ladies in the TLC shows could push their babies out, I could, too.
Pushing was awesome. They set up a mirror and showed me that the head was there, along with a head full of dark hair! Either the nurse, or Julie and Sean would hold my legs and I would push during each contraction, which I couldn’t really feel. After an hour of pushing, she was nearly crowning so the residents came into the room to deliver the baby. They asked Sean if he wanted to catch her and he did. I felt her head come out and then the shoulders and everything else just slid out. Sean caught her and placed her on my bare chest and she was a slimy, squirmy delight, and so tiny, so much smaller than her brother. She had a head full of dark hair and her eyes were dark – we’re still not sure what color they are, exactly.
She was born exactly 21 months and 1 hr after her big brother and is absolutely perfect. 7lbs, even, 19.75 inches long.