You read about it. You attend the classes. You meticulously prepare. You plan for that perfect birth.

My husband and I found out we were expecting on November 5th, 2017 (just 15 days after our wedding). We were so excited to welcome our first child into our little family on July 18th. My pregnancy was pretty close to perfect. I did experience a lot of exhaustion (but being a grade 2/3 teacher may have contributed to that). I never experienced the morning (or all day) sickness that plagued my sister. The biggest things I dealt with, next to being the kind of tired I never knew existed, was some major swelling of my legs and feet as well as constantly telling people that, “no, I’m not expecting twins,” “yes, I’m sure there’s only one in there,” “no, we’ve decided not to find out the gender, we want that special moment in the delivery room.” I managed to make it through the school year, despite many, many people telling me that there was no way I’d make it to my due date.
I convinced my husband to attend the prenatal class with me. We learned techniques to help with labour and what to expect when we brought our little bundle home. The need for immediate skin to skin with our newborn was drilled into our heads. We learned crucial breastfeeding information that made us feel very comfortable with our decision for me to nurse our baby from the get-go.
My OB gave me the hospital tour package and I meticulously went through the package and filled out, what felt like a million forms. My husband and I sat down and wrote out our birth plan on one of those forms. We said yes to an epidural, but no to any morphine. (I knew that I didn’t need to be a hero, but didn’t want to deal with too much pain. I also didn’t want the side effects of the morphine for me or the baby).
On July 11th, I went in for my weekly OB appointment, hoping that the doctor wouldn’t be too behind as I had lunch plans with my best friend. I went in, had my blood pressure taken, the dreaded weight taken, and gave my urine sample. The doctor came in to check my progress and discuss the results of my blood pressure and urine sample. I was only dilated about 1 cm (the same since the last appointment) and the baby was still pretty high. She expressed concerns that my blood pressure was high and that there was protein in my urine. She sent me over to the hospital for further testing. They monitored the baby and me for half an hour and made me do yet another urine test. They told me that I would have to wait a little longer; there went my lunch plans. As I sat there alone waiting anxiously wondering what was going on, I started to worry. I had come to the appointment by myself as it was just supposed to be a routine checkup. Another nurse came into the room to take my blood. I asked her if she knew what was going on and how long it’d be. She told me that the blood results would be ready in about 20 minutes and someone would come talk to me. I immediately called my husband to update him, then I called my mom. I broke down crying because I didn’t know what was going on. Finally, a nurse came in to tell me what was happening. She told me that I was going to be induced due to my high blood pressure and that my doctor would be over shortly. My initial doctor’s appointment was at 9 am; we were now going on noon. My OB arrived and explained that the only way to cure high blood pressure for a pregnant mom was to have the baby. They inserted a device into my cervix to help it dilate (very painful and similar to a catheter), then I had to wait another hour to monitor the baby to make sure he or she didn’t reject it. Finally around 1:30 I was free to go home. I had to come back the next day to finish the process and have our baby! I couldn’t have been more excited. Within the next day or two I would finally get to meet this sweet baby that I had been preparing for since the second I found out I was pregnant.
I was told to be at the hospital at 7:30 am. So on July 12, I woke up early to shower and prepare for the exciting day ahead. But at 6:45 am, I received a call to tell me to hold off until probably noon (or until they called) as there were no rooms available for my induction. We had a quiet morning, enjoying a delicious breakfast. We watched Jumanji and I worked on painting a sign for a friend. A few contractions happened, but they weren’t close enough to go in early. Finally, at 11:30 am, the call came. We packed the car, took a last “just the two of us” picture and a couple of full-on belly pictures to show how big I was, and hit the road.
When we arrived and registered at the hospital, we went up to the maternity ward where I was directed to put on a hospital gown and get ready to be monitored. My doctor arrived shortly before 1 pm. We discussed what had happened over the last 24 hours and she checked to see how far along I was. Only 3 cm, but the device that had been inserted had done its job. She tried to break my water but was unsuccessful and extremely painful. Instead, that just pushed the baby further up. From there, it was decided that I would need to go on oxytocin to help get my labour moving. We hung out with our nurse while we waited for a labour/delivery/recovery room to be cleaned. Our nurse was wonderful, she went through our pre-registration package with us, since we didn’t get to do that due to our tour being cancelled. She confirmed our birth plan with us and explained the epidural process.
Finally around 2:00, we were escorted to what was to be our room for the next several hours. At 2:30, the oxytocin drip began. This meant that I was confined to the bed as it came through an IV and both the baby and myself had to be monitored. The only time I was allowed to get up was to pee (and at those times I could walk or stand for a few minutes to stretch things out). Being stuck in bed allowed my husband and I to discuss names. We had a girl’s first name and a boy’s middle name confirmed but still were in discussions about a boy’s first name and a girl’s middle names. We wrote and crossed out names on the whiteboard in the room, trying to pass the time. My contractions were slowly, but surely, getting stronger and coming closer together.

At 5:00, my OB came back to check my progress. I was 4 cm dilated. She decided to try and break my water again. This, again, was so painful that I was in tears. But it was successful! It felt like Niagara Falls between my legs as the waters came pouring out. This was sure to get my labour to progress, right?
A delicious meal of liquids arrived (sense the sarcasm here) for me to enjoy. Contractions were getting more and more painful, so at 6:30, I finally broke down and asked for the epidural. I was told the horrors of getting this needle in my spine, but the anesthetist was amazing and put me at ease. Holding onto my amazing, always there for me husband, I endured the pain of a contraction while the needle was inserted around 7 pm. Within 20 minutes, the pain from the contractions was bearable and the cool liquid that inched its way from my shoulder to my lower back felt like heaven. I was able to get a little rest during this time (finally) and was able to get to know our new nurse. The on-call doctor came by to meet us and see how I was doing.
Shortly after 10 pm, the nurse decided to see how far along I was. When she checked my cervix (which was now at 5 cm), she felt something odd. She asked another nurse to come check it out to confirm what she was feeling. It was our baby’s cord. Immediately, the nurse jumped up onto the bed, sat between my legs with her hand still in the entrance to my uterus, keeping the cord off of the baby’s head. Our main nurse rushed into action, calling the team. We would be having an emergency c-section as there was a cord prolapse. I was scared! They quickly took off the necklace I was wearing that held my wedding rings (they hadn’t fit on my finger since Easter) and started to wheel me out, shoving scrubs at my husband for him to put on. As I was wheeled to the emergency delivery room, tears streamed down my face; this isn’t how it was supposed to be. They made my husband wait outside the door until they were ready. Little did we both know, that he would never make it in to be with me for the birth of our child. The nurse, who was still on my bed with her hand up in me, stayed there almost the whole time. I was terrified. I just wanted my husband. When the doctor pinched my stomach to check to see what I could feel, I cried…I could feel it. This meant that I would have to be put out which meant my husband was not allowed it. I remember looking at the clock and seeing that it was 10:40. The anesthetist was very comforting as I sobbed. This is the last I remember before I was put under. My poor husband sat outside the room on a bench, not knowing what was happening on the other side.
Our baby girl was born at 11:05 pm. Of course, I did not know this yet. That moment that I had waited my whole life for, where the doctor announces, “IT’S A _____”, had been taken away from me. They whisked my daughter away, did their tests and weighed her, a whopping 10lbs 2oz, and bundled her up. The nurse, who got to know me quite intimately, came out holding our baby and asked my husband to come with her back to the room. He finally had our little girl in his arms. He was still unsure about what condition I was in.
Around 1:00 in the morning, I finally came to a little bit. By this time, I was up in the ICU. They told me I had a girl and my husband was able to bring her in to see me. I held my daughter in my arms, while hooked to numerous machines, taking in her little face, kissing her chubby cheeks. I was still so groggy that I felt like I was in and out. I remember being so incredibly thirsty, but they wouldn’t let me have anything to drink. It was then that they told me that I needed to be rushed to London to have surgery as they had not yet been able to stop my bleeding. I asked whether my husband and daughter would be coming with me. I was told that my husband could, but my daughter would need to stay. My husband told me that he had called my parents and they were on their way to stay with the baby. How could this be? I had just given birth and I would have to be separated from my baby? This was not fair.
I just wanted to hold my baby and breastfeed her. Our nurse took the baby and helped her latch on to have a little drink before I was put on a stretcher. I kept asking for water and kept getting denied. Being moved onto the stretcher was a painful process. My husband stayed close the whole time. My parents had arrived at this time, and I remember seeing my mom holding her brand new granddaughter. I told my baby to be good from grandma and grandpa and kissed her goodbye as tears streamed down my cheeks.
They got me into the ambulance. While they were getting things ready to leave, something fell off a shelf onto my stomach. That hurt so much. According to the two wonderful nurses that went with me, I slept the entire ride but moaned every time they went over a bump because I could feel it. They finally got me to the hospital where they made me sign a number of different forms. To this day, I have no idea what I signed. They told me I needed to have a uterine artery embolization to stop the bleeding of my uterus and they inserted another bag into my uterus to help it contract back. Again, I was in and out the whole time, but remember how much it hurt to be transferred from stretcher to stretcher to bed to stretcher. I continued to ask for water, and again, I was denied. I was, however, put on morphine to help with the pain.
I woke up in one of the hospital’s labour/delivery/recovery rooms. My husband was beside me again! Everywhere I went, he went. I was finally awake enough to carry a full conversation. I asked the nurse for water…denied! But she (and my husband) snuck me ice chips. He showed me pictures of our sweet baby and we asked when we would get to see her again. We were told that around noon, she was being transferred to the London hospital and we could be reunited. That was the longest wait of our lives. We took the opportunity to share our news with our family and friends. It was then that my husband told me that he was given a choice on my behalf in Woodstock. He was told that since they couldn’t stop my bleeding, they could perform a hysterectomy then and there or send me to London to perform a surgery to hopefully stop the bleeding and save my uterus. Thankfully, we had the discussion of the number of children we wanted to have ahead of time. I’m glad he made the right decision.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to stay in the huge room. Once again, I had to change beds to be rolled to yet another room, which would be our home for the next few days. Our new room was very tiny! They couldn’t even properly fit a stretcher in to transfer beds. They had to shove all the furniture over as far as it could go so that I could shimmy from the stretcher to the bed, not an easy feat, when 12 hours ago I had a c-section.
We waited and waited, and finally, just before 2 pm, we were reunited with our sweet baby girl. I just wanted to hold her all day.

Throughout the day, we had several visitors and I attempted nursing her. Breastfeeding was not easy as I had several IV ports in my hands and inner elbow. We had to supplement with formula.


The next day, I underwent several tests as they were concerned about my heart rate (apparently my heart was racing, but I didn’t notice) and they were also concerned with blood clots. I was poked and prodded so often, I felt like a pincushion. At one point I had 5 different IV ports stuck in me. One leaving a bruise the size of my fist. They had me get out of bed, walk into the hall, and get onto another bed to that I could go down for a CT scan, twice. The first time, the IV port wasn’t inserted properly so I had to be sent back up to the fourth floor to have another one put in, the back down to the first floor for the scan. Luckily nothing showed up on the scan.
On Sunday, the nurses had me up and walking. This was not an easy feat as I was still hooked up to an IV pole and I had both the catheter and backery bags coming out of me that were collecting the fluids leaving my body. My ever faithful husband was there beside me, holding on to, what the nurses jokingly called, “my purse” (aka the bags holding my urine and blood…gross!!). Luckily, later on Sunday I was able to have both items removed from me and have the IV turned off. I was free! I was finally able to have a shower (something I had not had since Thursday morning). It was truly the most amazing feeling in the world. And again, my amazing husband was there to help as I could not completely bend to wash myself or bend properly to put on the giant pad and snazzy mesh panties they give you to wear. He helped me every step of the way.
Monday we received the amazing news that we were going to be released early that afternoon. After learning how to bathe our sweet girl and having a second shower for me, we were started packing up our room. We signed for our baby and her tags and sensors were removed; she was officially ours! No returns, no refunds. We tucked our daughter into her carseat, carefully buckled her in, and we were on our way!
My husband was phenomenal! He never left my side from the time we got to the hospital in Woodstock to the time we left the hospital in London (with the exception of taking quick breaks to get food, the delivery, the ambulance ride, and the surgery). He truly stepped up. He had to take over the care of our daughter since I was confined to the bed. He did all diaper changes, changed her sleepers, swaddled her, and fed her the formula in the middle of the night, all while taking care of my every need as well. I don’t know where I would have been without my partner in life. Our daughter and I are so blessed to be able to call him ours.
So here we were, a beautiful family. Our birth plan, completely thrown out the window. The one thing I didn’t want, morphine, I was given every few hours to manage the pain. My goal of exclusively breastfeeding was shot since I missed the first 14-15 hours of my baby’s life. However, being on formula helped us in the long run as she is able to take a bottle of expressed milk when needed. And I’m happy to say that she nurses like a champ and even (usually) goes long stretches at night. Skin on skin right after birth didn’t happen, but we tried to make it happen every time I nursed her before the formula bottle. My body did not do what it was supposed to do after giving birth. My uterus did not contract after the c-section, laying there limp and, in the doctor’s words, “floppy”. This was not the birth story that I wanted, but it’s the one I got. And while it’s still tough to watch those diaper commercials with the babies being handed to their mothers right after birth, I have come to accept our story. We have the most beautiful and healthy baby girl. She is happy and well-adjusted and lights up our lives every single day. I am alive and well, surviving what could have very well killed me. I thank God that I am here to be a mommy to my daughter and I pray that in a couple years He will bless me with a second pregnancy. But for now, I will relish in every smile that my daughter gives me and the chance to snuggle with her every single day.

~Ashley

This post is part of my Real Birth series.

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