I think that the beginning of a blog about a baby is an appropriate time to share said baby’s Birth Story, so here we go!
I’d had a relatively easy and completely uncomplicated pregnancy. I started getting Braxton-Hicks at the beginning of the third trimester, so I was not surprised when they started up around midnight on my due date. What did surprise me, however, was the intense back pain that accompanied these ones. I remember getting up to use the toilet and bending over the sink because it was the only position that wasn’t horrible. But then, at about 12:45am, my water broke.
I shook Alex awake. (Later, he claimed he was in the deepest sleep he’d slept for quite some time.) I told him my water had broken. It took him a few seconds to comprehend, but then he was fully awake and ready to go. “What should I do?” He asked. I told him, nothing. I wanted to have a shower, and he should stay in the bathroom and time my contractions. I knew I should call my midwife when they reached a certain frequency and intensity (this information escapes me, now).
They hit that required frequency and intensity while I was in the shower. Alex helped me dry off and get dressed, and I paged my midwife. The student that was working with our team, Michaela, called to assess. I don’t remember much of this conversation, except for her asking if I was feeling “pushy” and then saying they’d be there soon.
It felt like hours before they arrived. While we waited, I called my mom, who promptly jumped in her car and drove from Peterborough to Toronto. Alex called his parents and told them to standby, but I think they also promptly jumped in their car and hit the road. My midwife, Alusha, arrived with Michaela in tow, and shortly after them, my mom.
I was already pretty far along, but it wasn’t time to head to the Birth Centre yet. I was quite uncomfortable, so Alusha suggested I have a soak in the tub. She knew I wanted a water birth at the Birth Centre, and hoped this would soothe me. Alex was a true gentleman and got in the tub with me. I will love him for this for the rest of my life!
As soon as my body hit the warm water, my contractions doubled in intensity. I became very focused on what my body was doing. I vaguely remember my midwives talking to me and I was unable to respond until Alex repeated what they said. I was encouraged to not push just yet, but that was literally all my body could do with each contraction. Every time one hit, Alex would calmly tell me to relax my shoulders and breathe deeply. Relaxing my shoulders became my one and only mission, and that helped. And he stuck by me, as I gripped his hands and almost ripped his arms out of his shoulders.
Sometime when I was in the tub, Alex’s parents arrived and then left, because our tiny apartment was feeling quite crowded. I appreciated their respect, after the fact. At the moment, I don’t think I realized they were there.
Around 8am, I was told that it was time to go to the Birth Centre. The idea of getting out if the tub, getting dressed, getting from the apartment to our car, and then sitting in our car for any period of time (let alone in weekday morning rush hour) was just so unthinkable to me that I said no. No. Nope. Not going to the Birth Centre. I toyed with the idea of asking to go to North York General, which was much closer than the Birth Centre and also where I was born. But thankfully, my midwives quickly responded with, “Ok. We’ll do it here.”
It could not happen in our tub, because of the layout of our bathroom. So, the bed would be where the rest of my labour would take place. Alusha and Michaela quickly got to work. They called in the backup midwife, who also had a student with her, so I now had four midwives attending to me. No one had a birth bag with them, so they taped green garbage bags together and laid them over the mattress, under our sheets. I had no idea any of this was going on at the time. I remember thinking to myself, “We’re going to have to buy a new mattress!”
I continued to labour in the tub. Alusha could see that Alex was exhausted and overwhelmed, so she suggested he take a break, get some fresh air. Birth was not imminent – things had actually slowed down a bit. So Alex cleaned up and walked up the street to McDonald’s for a bite to eat. My mom stayed by the tub with me and I hardly noticed that he was gone. They moved me to the bed, hoping that a change of position might kick start things. Alex came back with a Mango Smoothie for me.
The rest of my labour is a blur, now. It felt like I pushed forever. Alex held my hand and one leg, while my mom held my other leg. I kept hearing people say, “He’s almost here! One more push! He’s here, just one more push!” and I kept thinking, “Shut up! Stop lying to me!” because I just kept needing to push.
And then, suddenly, it was over. He was out, the pressure was gone. A few moments passed, and he cried, and then his warm body was on mine and I was absolutely astounded. He was sticky and gross, but so beautiful. His eyes were huge. Alex fell to his knees from sheer disbelief at what he’d just witnessed.
Oliver lay on my chest for a wonderfully long time. The midwives checked both of our vitals with him there, made sure his airway was clear, and cleaned him off as best they could. My mom snapped pictures like she was a teenage girl at a rock concert. We called Alex’s parents to give them the news, and then my Dad.
When it was time to deliver the placenta, Alusha told me to push. And I tried, I really did, but I had absolutely no energy left in my body. The contractions were gone, and I had no help with this part! I did it, somehow. It was a piece of cake compared to Oliver, haha.
I got stitched up. Alex got to hold his son. My mom made me decent before Alex’s parents came in to meet their grandson. I was forced to eat, even though I didn’t feel hungry. The midwives did their thing, all of which is a blur for me, now.
We finalized Olly’s full name. My due date was also Alex’s brother’s birthday, and early on, we’d agreed that if the baby was a boy, and was born on his due date, we’d name him after Neil. Of course, the odds of that happening were slim. But here we were, at 11am on that date, with a fresh, one hour old baby boy. So Oliver received two middle names – Joseph, after my mother’s father, and Neil.
Our midwives were fantastic. I did not have a single moment of doubt, fear or panic throughout the entire 10 hours I was in labour, and that was because of Alusha and Michaela’s calm and confident demeanour. Our backup midwife, Barb, and her student, Tessie, were just as composed and did an excellent job of caring for Olly from the first second of his life.
Later that day, I shared the first photo I had taken of my son, and the words I shared with it still capture the essence of that day.
Our first photo as a family of three:
The first ever photo of Oliver: