At the beginning of my pregnancy my dream was to have an at home birth. I trusted my body and felt that a home birth would give my baby its best start at life. My midwife talked me out of it, saying it was better to be cautious and have first babies at the hospital. She assured me that as long as everything went well she could have me checked out after 2 hours in recovery and I could go home. God had other plans.
I had a picture perfect pregnancy until 37 weeks. Up until then pregnancy had been easy. At 37 weeks you are tested for Group B Strep, a bacteria that upwards of 40% of women naturally carry in their bodies. It came back positive. While Group B often goes unnoticed by adults, it can be harmful to newborn babies. I was advised to accept antibiotics during labor to help lessen the chance my baby would develop health problems related to the bacteria. I would have to stay at the hospital a full 24 hours after birth so that they could keep an eye on my baby. I was disappointed, not only was I not able to have a home birth, I now had to have antibiotics during labor that would cross over to the baby destroying any gut bacteria the baby would pick up on the way out. This was not what I had envisioned when I found out I was pregnant.
On Friday Dec 7th, four days before my due date, my water broke. I had been told that the water breaking before being in active labor happened to about 1/10 women. My midwife said I would need to go to the hospital immediately to receive my IV and be hooked up to the anti-biotics but assured me it was unlikely this would happen to me. Again, God had other plans.
I was sleeping on the couch, the bed had become uncomfortable, I woke up because I thought I was going pee. I hopped off the couch and a gush of water soaked through my pants, this was not pee. I went upstairs and woke Dan, finished packing my bag and then called the midwife as we headed for the hospital. They brought me into the delivery room almost immediately and my midwife, Fiona, was there in a matter of minutes. I found out later this was her 6th baby of the week! She had only 3 hours of rest between her last baby and ours.
After blowing a few veins, ouch, they got me hooked up to the IV and started the antibiotics. I would need a new dose every 8 hours that I was in labour, my midwife hoped we would only need one. She then told me they would be inducing me as I was only 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. Again this was not what I had hoped for but at this point I realized I needed to let go and let God. She also said I would be getting an epidural because she wanted to speed this up and my body would not be creating any natural pain killers with the synthetic hormones being pumped into my body. Obviously this was no longer in my control and I had to trust that this was part of his plan even if it wasn’t part of mine, I felt peace come over me as I accepted that my baby was going to be brought into the world via other measures.
Funny enough, the epidural was the worst part of the entire hospital stay. The anaesthetist was called out of bed at 6am to come give me my epidural, at this point I had been on the Pitocin for 5 hours and was only having mild contractions that I could still talk through. My midwife told me he was the best and would be there shortly. Dan could probably tell this part of the story better than me. The anaesthetist started with freezing which felt like any regular needle going into your back. A few pricks later and this no longer felt like a regular needle, it hurt. My midwife was standing in front of me holding my shoulders to keep me still. At the time I remember thinking that it was a lot of needles I was feeling, I figured it was freezing. Dan said the Dr. kept shaking his head as he tried to insert the needle, then all of a sudden the right side of my body convulsed and I heard yelling as pain went up and down my body, I didn’t realize it was me yelling until I looked into my midwifes eyes and could tell something was wrong. In my head I thought for sure permanent damage was done. The Dr. stopped pushing and asked me what I felt, I tried to pull myself together while tears streamed down my face and my body shook like my nervous system was broken. The pain slowly subsided and the epidural was successfully inserted. Later I was told I had a “tricky spine” and that he had probably hit a nerve. Thankfully no permanent damage was done.
After 8 hours of clindamycin Dr X (name omitted for privacy) was brought in to consult. He checked me and I was only 3cm. Both he and the midwife noticed how tight my pelvic floor was, despite my attempts to hold back in the gym and let things relax I couldn’t undo 10 years of weightlifting. As he washed his hands we could see him thinking. He then walked back over to me and looked at both Dan and I as he said ” Your 3cm dilated, and have been for the past 2 hours. You’ve had two doses of antibiotics and your on the max dose of Pitocin that we can give. Mom is healthy and baby is healthy. Lets get baby out while baby is healthy. I think we should prepare for a C-section.”
At the beginning of my pregnancy a C-section was the LAST thing I wanted. I was going to do everything I could to avoid it but in that moment I knew we were doing the right thing. Sure, some hospitals would have let me go on longer to see if I progressed, but I knew in my heart that a C-section was what was going to happen.
The plan was for 2 hours from then but a few minutes later they decided to move forward with it immediately because the anesthesiologist was available. I was quickly wheeled into surgery and much to my delight I knew the anesthesiologist. I went to high school with her kids and had interacted with her many times at my previous job. We talked about a number of things and before I knew it I heard “cut made”, Dan was then brought in to sit near my head. All I could feel was some tugging and pulling but absolutely no pain. We chatted as we waited for the words that came 15 minutes later “I see a head of dark hair!” Tears started to stream down my face as I realized someone had just seen my baby for the first time. I then heard “He’s out!” to which I said “It’s a boy?” I will never forget the reply “ummmmm……it’s not a boy.” I then cried even harder as I had so badly wanted to name a little girl after my amazing sister in-law, Jazmin. Before I knew it, Alice Jazmin was being placed on my chest and we were blessed with 30 minutes of skin to skin. She was beautiful. I found out the next day that Dan and Jazmin had to fight for the skin to skin and thankfully my midwife heard them arguing with the nurse and called in a second midwife so that my request could be granted. Within 10 minutes she started rooting and latched like a champ. After everything that had gone wrong, I was so thankful for this small blessing.
Alice is a feisty little girl who punched, kicked and grabbed onto the Drs. as they tried to pull her out, she was a mover in utero and she continues to wiggle and has almost rolled over a few times, my midwife says not to trust her. So far her health has been amazing, I don’t know what the future holds but I am thankful that as of now she doesn’t seem to be held back by the many drugs and hormones that her little body had to deal with. I have NO regrets about how she was born. I don’t feel like less of a women or less of a mother. A mothers job is to keep her baby safe and that is what I did by trusting the medical professionals around me. I could not be more thankful that Western medicine was available when I needed it.
I’ll be sharing more about the days following Alice’s birth and the many ways I have aided my recovery. Thank you for the many well wishes, gifts and food. I have already vowed to be more of a help to my friends who have babies now that I know how crazy this transition is. We couldn’t have done it without our family and friends <3