Our baby was conceived on February 18, 2014, on the special day of our second anniversary. So began the nine months of waiting.

We waited anxiously until finally at twenty weeks we found out we were having a baby boy. The waiting became more specific – focused on our son. We imagined what he would look like, how he would act, and what he would do with his life. We prayed for him and thanked God for our miracle.

Then came November 14, the long-awaited due date. I was hoping he would come earlier but he was in no hurry to show himself. I was due on a Friday so that Thursday my husband Bruce eagerly packed the truck with our hospital bags and the brand new car seat, both of us anticipating that the baby might arrive on his due date. Bruce started his two-week leave from work on the due date so that he would be ready and waiting when labour started and this long-awaited baby finally arrived.

Anxiously, we waited as time went by. I marked an x on my calendar as each day passed. Bruce took me to all of my midwife and ultrasound appointments. We had two of each during our ten day wait. The ultrasound appointments went well overall with no concerns except that they had some trouble at the second appointment getting four movements out of him in half an hour.

During the ultrasound, they told me that he was going to be a large baby. On the 21st, we were told he was 9 lbs and 15oz already and getting bigger by the day. That scared us into making the decision to get induced instead of waiting two full weeks to see if labour would start on its own.

That Friday I would have been 2 weeks overdue, but we decided to go in on Wednesday for the induction so that Bruce would have a little more time with us before going back to work. Since his 2-week leave was almost up, he decided to take an extra week off. I was feeling very large and uncomfortable by this time and very ready for my pregnancy to be over.

We made plans with the midwives to meet at London hospital on Wednesday at 7:30 pm for induction preparation. I was supposed to get a speculum put inside me followed by a catheter with a balloon at the end. This would be inserted into my cervix to dilate it. Then we would be sent home and called in the next day for Pitocin, which would induce labour and bring on the delivery of the baby.

I was dreading the procedure because of the great pain and discomfort I experience with something as simple as a vaginal exam. Janet, my midwife, understood this and wrote a note to the doctor telling them to be gentle with me. It was a female doctor that came in (thankfully) to do my first exam. She was kind and understanding. She noted my pain and discomfort and concluded that the speculum/catheter procedure was probably not the best option for me and suggested another procedure I was much more comfortable with, called cervidil. They inserted a shoestring type of thing right up around my cervix with part of the string hanging down, (like a tampon). The only thing I didn’t like was that it was a young male doctor that came in to do this procedure. I just closed my eyes and shut off my brain to this fact. It was uncomfortable but I am sure it was easier than the speculum procedure.

After the cervidil was inserted, they attached monitors on my belly so they could observe the baby for two hours. It was a long boring wait so Bruce went to sleep in the waiting room while I laid there listening to my baby’s heartbeat. There were no issues so at 10:30 pm they sent us home to wait.

We got home at midnight, chatted for a while and went to sleep. Only two hours later I woke up to what felt like real contractions. I monitored them for a while and concluded that they were the real thing so I started timing them. They were about four to five minutes apart. I timed them this way for about an hour. They were pretty regular and anywhere from forty-five to fifty seconds long.

I woke up Bruce around 3:30 am and told him we needed to call the midwives and find out if we should go in. I got Jacquie, the student midwife, on the line. She agreed that this might be the real thing but decided to call Janet, the main midwife, and ask her first. She soon called back and told me that Janet was thinking they were false contractions. She told me I should take some Tylenol and have a warm bath to see if they would go away. They were still there after a good hour of sitting in the tub, and they had intensified and were coming closer together. I woke up Bruce and we called the midwives again. This time they both agreed it sounded like the real deal and we should pack up and head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital around 7 in the morning. They did an exam as soon as we got there to see if I had dilated at all. I was 3cm so they called the cervidil contraption a success and pulled it out, expecting that the contractions would continue on their own. They took us to the delivery room right away so I would be ready to give birth. I had to get undressed and into a hospital gown. They strapped monitors onto me again and took my vitals. Everything looked good…except that as time went on, my contractions slowed down. This was NOT good, so they decided to start me on Pitocin, hoping it would get the contractions moving.

One thing I forgot to mention was that the female doctor from the night before had highly recommended the epidural to me. I was determined I wanted a med-free labour and delivery but all these predetermined ideas of how labour would go seemed to be flying out the window. At this point, with all the contractions I had been having already and hearing what was ahead of me I was beginning to agree with her. I felt like I was cheating or taking a shortcut by taking the epidural but Bruce and I both felt that it would make life much easier for me in the coming hours. So we agreed to get an early epidural.

They took blood work while I laid there to check my iron levels and the results came back good. They put me on an IV drip which I had throughout the entire labour and delivery. I ended up going through six bags. They said it was a lot considering I was retaining most of that fluid.

My contractions were getting harder and more painful and I was ready for the epidural. I was so terrified of the pain. I had no idea what my body was capable of doing so I gave in to my fears. I was told that the more fear you have the worse your pain will be, but I could not calm down and relax. I was ready for the pain to be over.

Finally, the people came who was going to administer the epidural. I was as ready as I thought I could be and eager to do whatever they told me to. I had to sit on the edge of the bed while they applied a very cold solution on my back to sterilize the injection area, then put a local freeze into my spine so that I would not feel them inserting the epidural. I did not want to think about what they were really doing.

Looking back, I have no idea what they all did and I’m not sure I really want to know. I had to sit on the edge of the bed and curl my back forward but not hunch over. They told me to put my chin down and push my back out. It was hard to follow their orders but I did my best. What made it the hardest was that just when everything was ready to go a contraction would hit again. I was ordered to be still. Right! I dare anyone to try doing that in the middle of a painful contraction! After a few misses, they claimed that it “felt right” and they were pretty sure they had gotten the needle into the “right spot”. They said they had nothing visible to go by and could only go by what “felt right”. They inserted a catheter and hooked me up with more stuff into which they injected the anesthetic. I could feel the cool numbing sensation travelling down my back. They were going to give me fifteen minutes for the drug to take effect and then they would come back to see how successful they had been.

Long story short, it didn’t work properly. One leg was numb but most of my lower extremities were not and I could still feel all the pain of the contractions. They were confused because they felt they had been as accurate as possible. They had done something wrong. After a while (and a whole lot of pain) they came back in and offered to do the whole procedure again, this time with the help of an expert. Some might have balked at this, but I said, “Yes, please! What are you waiting for??!”

They very carefully did the whole procedure again. I couldn’t think of anything else except “When will it stop hurting so much???” They kept asking me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, and I kept telling them eight or nine. I knew it couldn’t be ten because I figured there had to be worse pain than this, but I was close to maxed out in what I could handle. The Pitocin drip caused me to have seriously painful contractions, more so than natural labour ever did.

This time they were SURE they had gotten the right area on my spine and so they administered the anesthetic again. This time I felt immense relief course through me. Within minutes I was numbed in all the right places and started feeling so much better. I felt a contraction coming on but I hardly felt anything except a little pressure. I started talking and laughing with those around me. For the next hours, I was mostly oblivious to the pain and I was so thankful for that. Now it was a matter of continuing to monitor me and slowly increasing the Pitocin so that my contractions would continue to get stronger and closer together.

I don’t think they expected to increase it as much as they did. They started at level three and ended up at level fourteen. They said they could go as high as twenty if needed. I can only imagine the pain I would have been feeling had I not been numbed.

The hours continued to go by and it seemed like the only time the contractions increased was when they upped the Pitocin. I had lost track of time. I was quite drowsy and closed my eyes as much as I could so I could get some rest, but I could hear them whispering to each other and I wanted to know what was going on. I kept asking for updates, so I never actually slept. I tried to stay on top of things but looking back those hours after the epidural are quite fuzzy.

I remember they had trouble keeping the monitors in place on my stomach and an even harder time tracking the baby’s heartbeat. They told me that they were going to go in and clip a monitor to the baby’s hairline. I asked if this would hurt me or the baby or if it would leave any marks on my baby’s head and they said no, likely not. I don’t remember when they did it, but suddenly the sound of the heartbeat was different. It was a steady and clear ticking instead of the previous heartthrob sound. They were happy with this.

Around midnight they prepped me for delivery and I started pushing. Somewhere in here, they gave me another small dose of the epidural but overall they eased it off so that by the time my baby was coming I could feel the contractions again and I was able to push as my body felt the need to. Bruce and Jacquie were by my side helping me through this difficult stage.

The baby’s head was having trouble coming over the pubic bone and I needed a lot of coaching. They placed my legs into stirrups so it looked like I was sitting in a chair but laying down. With Bruce on one side and Jacquie on the other, they supported my legs through each contraction. I had to lean forward, hold onto my thighs and PUSH as they would push back on my feet and legs. Deep breath, let it out, another deep breath, and push…again and again until the contraction passed. This went on for two looooong hours with only short breaks in between contractions.

I loved how they coached me through this. I always knew what to do next. I remember saying, “If this is what hard labour feels like then I can do this!” They had to remind me that I was still partially under anesthetic and could not feel as much as normal.

After a while, Bruce got pretty tired. He got permission to have a short nap and they would come to tell him when it came time to deliver the baby. Janet did the same. Considering we had been at this for over twenty hours they figured it could be any amount of time before this actually happened. So off they went to get some rest and faithful Jacquie and I continued to work on the hard stuff of getting baby to the point of coming out.

My third midwife, Erin, had arrived by now to take over what my other midwife had been doing. It seemed like as soon as Bruce and Janet left my labour got downright serious. During this time they told me that quite possibly the baby’s head was positioned wrong and that was why it was taking so long to get it over the pubic bone. They told me they would need to get an OB to come in and manually turn the baby’s head. Aaah! No way. It just sounded like too much. I did not want them doing this yet. Please no! So they said there was one option they could try first and if it would work then they would not need to do it manually. Jacquie would go in and stretch everything in the birth canal so that hopefully the head would have more room to come out on its own. I agreed to give it a shot.

I could feel her doing the stretches and it was NOT comfortable at all, but feeling the head descending was extremely painful and easily overrode the pain from the stretching. I started pushing hard. I felt my body taking over and telling me that it was time. Finally, they told me that they could see my baby’s head and that he had hair! Glorious news…there was some real progress! I was very happy to hear that my baby had hair. For some reason that mattered to me. 🙂

I remember asking some questions and not really getting straight answers. They were busy bees now, getting everything ready for the final stage of delivery.

I could tell things were really happening now. I just wanted to push this enormous feeling out of me. I don’t know if I said it out loud, but I know I wondered if I was delivering an elephant. It felt like I was exploding. I told them that I could not do this anymore. I just needed to explode. I gave a mighty heave along with a howl I’m sure they could hear in the next room. I felt all kinds of new pressure, pain, a burning sensation and an even deeper desire to explode. They told me that most of the head was out now. They tried contacting Bruce and the midwife to quickly come, but they could not get a hold of Bruce. Janet quickly fetched him on her way to the delivery room. They also contacted the NICU team that needed to come to take care of the baby when he was out.

I just could not hold back any longer. I exploded. They wanted me to slow down but I just couldn’t. I don’t know if I cried out once or twice but I pushed until I could feel the head deliver all the way and pushed again until I felt the shoulders come through and then a long slippery sliding feeling…and it was over. The NICU team made it with seconds to spare, and Bruce and Janet rushed in moments after the baby was born.

Brian, born November 27, 2014, at 2:31 am, weighing 8lbs 5 oz.

They immediately cut the cord and took my baby to the warming unit to suction out mucus and clean him up. I don’t know what they did with him there, but it felt like they had him there for quite a while. I laid on the bed thanking Jesus that it was finally over.

I still had to deliver the placenta, but I figured how hard can that be after what I just went through. It wouldn’t have been that hard except I tore quite a bit as he was born. It was painful enough for me to cry out again, but just like that, it was over too. I laid there panting and saying, “It’s over. Finally, it’s all over. Thank you, Jesus, it’s finally over.”

Then my questions began again. Is it a boy or girl? Did someone catch the time he was born? Is he ok? What are you doing now? Then I looked at Bruce, smiled weakly and said, “We have a son. Our very own boy. What are they doing to him over there?”

They told me I needed stitches since I had some tearing. I had lost control of my bodily fluids and with my stomach being so empty I had things coming out of me that I could not control. If you can imagine, Jacquie and Janet sitting there focusing and concentrating closely on stitching me up… when all of a sudden a lout pfffffffhhhhhht! Was that me??? I had not felt that one coming. It surprised me and the midwives just as much. It made the student jump and Janet laughed. She was very quick to reassure a very embarrassed me that it was not really “tooting” and that it was very normal. It did not leave them in a cloudy smelly haze as I imagined, thankfully, because it happened a few more times after that. It was such a strange feeling having no control whatsoever of what went on down there. They had inserted a catheter into my bladder while in labour and that had come out now too so again I had no control of what came out of me, much to my embarrassment. When I had to go I was told to just “let it go”. And I did since I wasn’t going anywhere while they were stitching me up.

It seemed to take forever for them to finish. I just wanted to be done and hold my precious, sweet baby. After what seemed like an hour, they finally handed my baby to me. I was still laying down and had to hold still but at least I had my baby in my arms now. He was cute and healthy and that was all that mattered to me. The rest of the time to finish and clean up didn’t seem as long anymore.

They proceeded to un-wire me, clean me up and place me in a wheelchair to be wheeled to a recovery room. I got to hold my precious baby boy for the ride in the wheelchair while Bruce and the midwives carried everything else.

I spent twenty-four hours in the hospital recovering before we finally packed up our sweet baby into the truck and journeyed home.

I won’t go into the details of the days to come. It was mostly recovery for me and learning a new routine with our newborn. I remember making the comment, “I don’t know how anyone can do this more than once”. But as I healed, the sharp memories of labour faded and I loved life and my little family like never before. I would go through anything again for this kind of reward.

~Mary

This post is part of my Real Birth series.

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