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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Two Perspectives

Going into my third child’s birth I was confident. I knew how birth worked, I was a birth advocate, I had researched and supported other women in their birth journey, and most importantly I had two uncomplicated home births under my belt.

When I hit 36 weeks my husband was home from Ft. Mac so I walked and walked and walked to see if I could get labour going - and after seeing some show I told him to call in and let them know that he wasn’t coming back for a little while.
We decided to go for a walk to keep the contractions at about 10 mins apart. My early contractions just feel like braxton hicks...hardly painful at all, and so walking the hour to and from our local coffee store was no problem at all.
Once we came home I decided to send the husband out to the grocery store to pick up snacks and dinner - since I knew that I would probably kick into active labour after my other two children were in bed.

When he arrived home, I decided it was time to call the midwives. I also let my business partner know that I was going on “mat leave” (which really meant maybe a week without working - but I worked from home on the computer so it wasn’t a big deal.)

Once the midwives arrived they checked to see how I was doing. I was at about a 4 and really progressing nicely. We had dinner, put the kids to bed and I started to walk up and down the stairs to keep it going.
I was checked again and was only a 5 and so I asked my midwives if they could do a little stretch to see if we could get labour progressing. I had both of my previous sons quite quickly so I wanted to stop waiting for labour to kick in on it’s own. I wanted to meet my baby!!

After the stretch my labour really took off. I was standing in the kitchen when I had my first painful contraction. It caught me off guard as my last two labours did not get painful until closer to the end. I felt my contraction start at my belly button, move into my back, down my thighs, into my knees, down my calves and end at my ankles...and as one finished, another one started.

I knew at that moment that this was going to be nothing like the first two.
I continued to rock my hips to help the baby get into a good position, but the contractions were really painful. My husband is a paramedic and he asked me, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the highest) how is the pain...and I told him that I was at least a 7 or an 8... I really doubted myself, and felt that I wouldn’t be able to do this for as long as I thought that I needed to. Usually my labours were only that painful in transition - not before 6cm!!

I had a huge desire to get into the birthing tub that we had set up, and my husband started to fill it as I rocked and tried to breathe through every one of my odd contractions.
My midwives wanted to check me before I went in the tub and it turned out that I was a 7. I felt a little relief. I was almost there.

My midwives also told me that they thought that it was a bit early to get into the tub and that if my contractions stopped that I would have to get out. I was so happy when they continued while belly deep in the warm water.
This is the part of my birth story where I urge every woman to try and use water in their labour process. My pain went from an 8 to a 4 instantly. It was amazing. Truly “nature’s epidural”.

I sat in the pool feeling none of the pain that I had when I was out of it. Contractions were just in my uterus. It was such a relief. I listened to a music mix that I had made of my favourite artists and chatted with my husband, mom, and sister in between each contraction.

I am not sure how much time passed during this stage, but I do remember my midwives coming in and checking on me more frequently. At one point my midwife said to me that the time was near and that if I started pushing in the water, I could not get out.

For some reason this spooked me. I felt like I had to get out of the water. I am sure that I could have started pushing, but I told everyone that I wanted out of the tub.

Everyone was very respectful of my decision and after the next contraction I stood up...and was hit with a contraction that rocked me to my core. Another as I placed my leg over the tub and onto the bed, and my “I can’t do this anymore” contraction as I breathed through my body protesting at me for moving so late in the game.
I flipped on my back and demanded that the midwives check me, and give me the go ahead to push (which they did) and I started to push my son out.

Each push had a bit of an edge to it, which again was nothing like my previous two births where pushing was the best part. I have to add that during the pushing stage I had 3 midwives and 2 students as well as my baby sister all looking at his head crowning. My midwife decided to pop my waters to see if it would give me some release and she did so while I was actively pushing. The bag exploded all over everyone and my wall, and I was mortified... I think that I also scared my sister for life.

Ewan came out posterior which explained the back labour and the pain while pushing. He only needed 4 pushes (plus the amniotic shower) and he was out to greet the world!

This birth has taught me the most about birth. Although it was my most difficult to date (I am also due in October 2013), it has also opened my eyes to why women need to be supported in birth...all birth. I have had a lot of work to go through to get ready for this next birth and Ewan’s has really made me more aware of what I need to do to feel empowered in my birth experience.

***I also wanted to share my sisters perspective as it was incredibly powerful to me *****

The clock was ticking slowly, the minutes felt like hours in between. The room was dark and silent apart from the swaying water hitting the side of the plastic tub and the mother’s silent cries for relief. It had been hours just waiting for the simple gift of life to arrive and yet the hours dragged on. The anticipation raised in my throat but I knowing the calmer the atmosphere the calmer the birthing mother. I drowned my anticipation with calming thoughts. Her pain gradually building as I could feel it inside my own body, the feeling of helplessness washed over me. I could feel the tears coming forward in my own body knowing that I could not help the one I loved who was in so much pain. I looked at my mother for comfort and let her sooth me. The mindless chatter filled the room to distract the mother from her pain and to pass the dragging time. The mother had enough and knew she wanted to push. The midwife asked her calmly if she wanted to inside the birthing tub or on the bed. In the last moments the mother chose on the bed for better support and leverage. As she got on the bed, the mother was on her knees and elbows squeezing her hands together through the pain and the tears quietly ran down her face. She turned and collapsed. Letting the pain wash over her as she pushed. I watched as she began the production of birth. Push after push and finally her water broke, shooting like bullet towards the midwife at the bottom the bed soaking her. The midwife professional enough to make a little joke and shove to it off like it was nothing. In my mind that gave me relief knowing that if she was joking it was supposed to happen. My mother trying to tell me step by step of what was going on as I starred with my eyes wide and my mouth handing open like a big juicy sandwich was in front of my face, yet being covered by my hand. I started to see blood and my breathing became labored. This was only because of my fear of blood. I knew this was supposed to happen but my brain was scared that my sister would not be okay. I starred down and I saw the little gray head poking through, when the mother stopped pushing the head went back inside. The mother pushed once more and the top of head came out more than it had before. The midwives cheering on the mother as she has done an amazing job so far and was so close to having her baby on her chest. At this moment I was shocked I knew the body could do amazing things but seeing someone else give birth and be born naturally had a shellshocked effect over my body. Apart of myself wanted to look away but the other part knew that if I did I would have missed an amazing thing. The mother had screamed at the babies head finally came out. The babies squished little face was finally welcomed into the world. She pushed again and the rest of his body had followed. Immediately the baby was put on the mothers chest and the mother reached for her husband; the new father of three and kissed him passionately sharing in their special moment as they silently celebrated together. In that moment I knew it was all worth it. That what I had just witnessed was one of the most amazing things that the body can do that in the end it was inevitable and I knew what was to come of my future if I chose to have children and I knew in my heart of hearts that I did and I would I want to do the same way. With no medication, with midwives instead of doctors and the ones I care for most beside me for support. Though the moments were traumatic and at moments I was scared I knew that the little bundle of knew life that rested on my sisters chest made everything worth it. I was privileged to experience the gift of life the way it was intended though I am only 18 I now know what I want when I am given such a chance of giving the miracle of life. I will now forever thank my sister for the chance of a lifetime and letting fully understand the ways of birth and how it was intended.


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