Friday, September 5, 2014

Brontë's Birth story

Here is the story of Brontë's birth. I wrote much of it during & shortly after my labour, then took forever to finish it off. I decided I might as well post it on the anniversary of the day I went into labour (Spoiler alert! this is not the day she was born).

Yup, we even carshare when we're having babies.
On Thursday, September 5th, I woke up around 6 am to some contractions which started to get stronger, to the point I needed to do deep breathing through them. Definitely not just Braxton-Hicks. I saw blood-tinged mucous when I went to the bathroom several times after that, which told me she was on her way. I started timing contractions, which were irregular,  but around 10 minutes apart & a minute long.

Once I got up, had breakfast & got going on a labour project--juice packing pears for freezing. During the day, things slowed right down & the contractions got less strong & farther apart. I found myself getting easily annoyed by Linnaeus, the landscapers across the street, the construction noise in the back of our house.

At BC Women's with Midwife Traci.
Oli picked up a car at noon, which we booked until midnight Friday, thinking that should be plenty of time. My labour with Linnaeus was under eight hours from when I woke up with contractions, so I was expecting to be holding a baby sometime later that evening.

Tired after doing all the hot work with the pears, I laid down to read in bed. Fell asleep in a few pages & slept well for an hour. I woke up to nearly no contractions--just crampy achiness around my waist. Hungry too. The neighbourhood had quieted down, but my seriously noisy three-year-old was really annoying me now.

Contractions continued to be on & off, still kind of painful, needing deep breathing to get through them picking up in the evening & continuing through the night. I got a few stretches of an hour or a half hour of sleep at a time. Disheartened, frustrated & emotional the logistics were also still bugging me--our car booking expired at midnight & could only be extended until 5am Saturday. I decided to get up around 7:30 for a shower & by early afternoon, with my contractions still not really progressing, I paged my midwives.

Oli on barf bucket/fan & cool wet cloth duty.
Traci came over an hour or so later to check me & the baby. Blood pressure, heart rate--everything was fine. But I was only 4-5 cm dilated, which, for an 'experienced' mom, is still early labour. So Traci suggested I have a good meal, take some gravol & have a shower, then go straight to bed for a few hours' nap. Hopefully my labour would get going in the evening. She left us with the recipe & an ingredient to make a 'labour cocktail' to help things along just in case.

We finally decided to switch cars, thinking that we'd need one possibly through Saturday. I checked the Modo site & discovered another vehicle just a few blocks from the one we had that was available right through the weekend. Oli left to return the first & pick up the second. Shortly after he left, I laid down on our bed for a minute when I hit transition. My contractions just suddenly got intense & much closer together. I was pacing the house, hanging onto the door frames when I called Oli & told him to GET. HOME. NOW.

Staying upright was instinctual during both births.
I called the midwife & our doula photographer, Jackie. When talking to Traci on the phone, she asked me if we were going to make it to Women's or if she should come to the house. I hesitated for a while & said we'd make it to the hospital. In the throes of full-on labour, but not getting the urge to push yet, I thought we had time. Jackie made it to our house just as we were packing up the car (luckily she lives very close by) & we drove off through the bumpy Tea Swamp streets towards BC Women's Hospital.

We parked the car at 5:25pm & got ourselves into the admitting where we met Traci & I scribbled a vague semblance of my signature on two forms. We were rushed into a room as I grunted, "I want to push". Traci checked my cervix when we got in & I was nearly there. I paced the room, going from toilet to leaning on Oli to leaning on the raised bed, moaning & trying to breathe deeply. After a few minutes, hot & sweaty, I threw off the last piece of clothing I was wearing. I started wanting to push & bore down a bit as I was holding Oli's shoulders. It was at that point that my water broke in a big gush all over the floor & Oli's shoes. Just like in the movies. I remember being delighted to have experienced the drama of it, not to mention the relief of the pressure for a moment, & being happy that the fluid all over my legs & feet & the floor was clear--nothing to worry about.

More or less the position B was born in.
My memories are a bit disconnected, but I know that at 6pm the midwives changed shifts. Andrea arrived & said hello, but Traci decided to stay because she knew it wouldn't be long.

I then moved over to the bed & decided to kneel on it, leaning on the raised back. I think it was at this point that I told the nurse I needed to vomit & was handed a small cardboard container, which I filled quickly. She scrambled to get me a large bowl & after a few times through, I'd emptied my stomach & was fine. I started to push in earnest with each contraction & felt the burning feeling of the baby's head stretching my body. The warm compresses that the midwife applied helped. I remember smiling a lot because I knew she was going to be here soon. Just after her head was born, I felt the midwife moving the baby around as she came out. I remember thinking this was a bit odd, as they'd just let Linnaeus slide out naturally.

She was here! My sweet girl was here! The midwife handed the baby through my legs, she & the nurse helped me turn around on the bed so I could hold the slippery little thing. Her cord was a little short, so she had to stay on my tummy until the placenta was born & her cord was cut. The midwife soon explained the manoeuvring: Brontë's hand was on the side of her head as she was born. Thankfully, our capable midwife, Andrea, was able to manipulate baby to avoid her shoulder getting stuck or damaged. The placenta came without much fuss, beautifully intact with the amniotic sac attached. Once the cord stopped pulsing, which took quite a while, actually, Oliver cut it & our wee girl could come up higher for her first breastfeeding.

Still euphoric after B's arrival.
She latched on like a pro & had a short feed before we went upstairs to the room where we'd stay the night. I had originally wanted to leave the hospital as soon as I could & recover in the comfort of home, but we were advised to stay. Baby's Apgar scores were great & she was doing everything that she should, but the midwife noticed something odd about her bum. A pediatrician was soon in the room, examining my little girl in closer detail. The doctor seemed satisfied, but recommended that we see the pediatric surgeon before we leave about a strange bump she had on her skin. *

Linnaeus had been staying with our friends for over a day, so Oli went home to collect him. I stayed with baby Brontë in the hospital that night, sleeping relatively well, spending a lot of time staring at her as she lay in the little clear plastic bassinet or with me in the bed. The surgeon visited us the next day, took a look at baby B & said fairly nonchalantly that the oddity on her bum should resolve in a week or so & to call his office for a checkup in a month or so. Reassured, I focussed on the visits from my parents, Linnaeus' first meeting with his new sister & the midwife, who discharged us less than 24 hours after we arrived at BC Women's.

Despite the length of my early labour & the fact that baby girl was in what I've since learned was compound presentation when she popped out, Brontë's birth was a positive experience for me. I was able to give birth without any pain medication again, moving as much as I wanted to, & following my body's cues. I was only in active labour for about two hours, & pushed for just ten minutes. Though her hand may have caused the tearing I experienced, I healed well, & was back to my usual activities quickly after the birth.

I'm very grateful to have had two wonderful births at BC Women's attended by the capable midwives from The Midwifery Group on Main Street. If you're planning to have a baby, I urge you to consider a midwife as your care provider. From when I got the positive pregnancy test & made my first appointment to when they did the final 6 week newborn checkup, I received wonderful care.

I'd also like to thank Jackie Dives for the incredible images she captured of Brontë's birth. If you're considering birth photography, newborn photos or are looking for a doula, I recommend contacting Jackie. Take a look at her website for more of her work.

* The bump & a couple of other things were actually red flags that indicated that Brontë had a tethered spinal cord. I think that most of the medical professionals we dealt with at BC Women's knew this when she was born, but didn't mention it because it needed confirmation with imaging later. Probably also because they knew we didn't need the added stress in her first few weeks, since it's not a life threatening issue. For more on her spine, I've also blogged about it here.

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