Preface: I had written 3/4s of this blog already in the week after the birth. It was very long and detailed and helped me process what I had experienced. I also had a hard time finishing it, and realized that a lot of my motivation for writing it was to justify my experience, due to the fact that my birth was different than what I had envisioned. Writing something for the sake of trying to prove myself to somebody (maybe myself?) is not a good reason to write something, so I scrapped my saga and am going to try to write a less detailed, more authentic recap of my experience. Thanks for being receptive of my process.
Along with providing endless support to me, Colin took all these beautiful photos. What a man.
I had been experiencing cramping all week but Friday is when stuff really started to move along. Colin and I were excited. We went to the market for lunch and walked around Ikea to keep ourselves busy and help things move along. That evening we went for another walk on the beautiful ridge in our community and took some photos of what was one of the last evenings with Luffy in my belly. This was special. We held hands and enjoyed the sunset and felt giddy...we would be meeting our baby soon.
Later in the evening my parents came over. My dad prayed with us, blessing the labour journey. My mom was with us for the entire labour (which is one of the greatest gifts she has ever given me. What an amazing woman). We let the midwife know that things were starting up. That night was fairly calm, we chatted, timed contractions and tried to get some sleep.
This day is largely a blur in my mind. In the morning we called the midwife. She came and left due to my contractions still not being long enough. I think she came back in the early afternoon.
For a little bit of time in the morning it rained. The sound of rain was one of my imagined relaxing happy places, and I always thought it would be special if it was raining while I was in labour. Calgary doesn't get a lot of rain in the early spring so I didn't have high hopes, but it actually rained on this day. I thought this was such a cool gift.
From my point of view, this day contained about 12 hours of tough labour and 4 hours of really difficult labour. At around 6 pm I was 6 cm dilated and the midwife broke my water. I started taking homeopathic induction pills, walking stairs, standing in different positions and squatting. At around 10 pm the midwife checked me again and I was still 6 cm. I felt completely defeated and had no idea how I was going to make it through the rest of labour. We decided at this point to go to the hospital. All I wanted to do was lay down and even though contractions kept coming, I could finally let both my body and brain rest.
Going to the hospital turned out to be exactly what we needed to do because soon after we made the decision my midwife noticed there was meconium in the waters that were still coming out.
At the hospital I got an epidural. These following photos show my change of disposition pre and post epidural:
Throughout my whole labour my contractions had been weirdly inconsistent, so the nurses put me on oxytocin to get things moving along. My baby was closely monitored and the doctors made some amazing decisions that really protected my baby, as a couple times her heart dropped to a scary point. Every medical professional we dealt with during this time was so kind and supportive of us. My opinion of the hospital experience was changed entirely. I also was able to face fears that I had about medical interventions and see the benefit in them.
Once I fully dilated I was able to try pushing for about an hour and a half, but baby's head was tilted in a way that kept her from moving at all (it had been during my entire labour). We finally decided that the best thing to do was a c-section. After all this time, we finally knew that we were going to meet our baby in just a few minutes. It was so wonderful having Colin with me in the operating room, and once again all the medical staff made us feel so safe and taken care of.
When our darling finally came we knew right away; she came out with a wail! Though I couldn't see her, and while I didn't get that immediate skin-to-skin, magic hormones experience that I had pictured, the sound of her cry flooded my heart with love. Colin got to take pictures of her while the NICU team made sure she was happy and healthy. Finally he brought her over to me and we got to meet Sloane Ellie!
This birth was entirely different than what I had envision and planned, but every time we look back we see that the way it ended up was exactly what needed to happen. Our baby was kept safe, I was taken care of. We are infinitely more thankful for modern medicine and easy access to it. The further away I get from the experience, the less I feel like I am recovering from trauma and the more I am able to see the beauty of what it was: namely, the gift we got at the end of it. She was with us finally, our sweet little girl.