My First Birth Story
This is the story of my first birth.
Our girl was born in the early morning hours of a late September day, in a hospital room in Ontario. Things went pretty fast - though at the time it didn’t feel fast.
The day before her birth, I went in for a non-stress test appointment at the hospital and a ‘surprise’ stretch-and-sweep. A surprise because I didn’t know it was happening until it happened. I was told it would get things moving - if the baby was ready to come. Also, my OB was on site at the hospital until 7am the following morning. The stress test was fine, and I carried on to a cheeseburger and milk shake lunch (lunch of champions) accompanied by…..cramps. No biggie. I went home that afternoon and lounged around. I was done work and 5 days overdue.
Around 9:30pm later that night, we were watching TV when out of the blue I felt some kind of feeling I’d never felt before and never expected. I laid silently on the couch until it passed then turned to my husband and said, “I think I just had a contraction?”. It was more of a question than anything else. After the sensation happened again a couple minutes later, I knew. It was definitely a contraction.
At that point, I remember feeling like, ‘I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I kind of hoped maybe it wouldn’t and baby would just all of a sudden be here.’ No such luck lady. My birth plans consisted of:
Hospital birth (no clue there was any other option at the time)
Delivery with my own OB - who, at the time, was the only female option (later learned you don't get a choice - you get whoever is there)
No epidural (felt scarier than birth for me!)
Spend some time in the tub (seemed like a fun idea!)
That’s legit all I had planned. I thought I would probably breastfeed, but I wasn’t fully committed, nor did I know anything about breastfeeding. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of a surgical-birth.
Once we determined I was actually having contractions and the baby was probably on its way, I went to lay down. We had learned in the childbirth preparation class that we should try to rest during the early part of labour. I figured I had several hours of contractions ahead of me before things really picked up. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get comfortable and lying down was making the contractions more uncomfortable. I remember a bad aching in my back when I tried to lie down.
After maybe an hour of lying in bed, I got up and got in the shower. I remember the water on my back and shoulders being a bit of a game changer and the contractions weren’t quite as powerful when I was in there. Thinking maybe things had slowed down, I got out of the shower and tried to get into bed. Nope. contractions and back pain returned. Back to the shower. I spent the following hour getting in and out of the shower and walking around the house breathing.
Around midnight, we realized the contractions were getting closer together (around 3 - 5 minutes apart) and they were getting a bit stronger. By some random miracle, I found I was able to manage them by breathing and rocking and leaning on my husband. We decided to head to the hospital at that point since it was about a 35 minute drive.
The drive was horrendous. The back pain was made worse by sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Why do they make car seats lean back so much!! I tried cramming pillows behind me and leaning over the dash, but that’s not so easy to do with a giant baby in your belly.
I was admitted to the hospital right away and was found to be at 6 cm’s dilated. I remember feeling so excited that I was that far along into the labour. The nurse suggested I get the epidural right away. After I told her I’d like to go ahead without the epidural (“if that’s ok with you, nurse” because that’s how I roll), she lead me to the tub!
The tub, it turned out, was not my friend. As it filled, it leaned back and all that pressure and aching in my back became more intense. After awhile I had to get out because it was just too uncomfortable.
I spent the next hour or so swaying, breathing and walking. Eventually, I just couldn’t walk any further. I desperately wanted to lay down as the contractions kicked into high gear. It felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I didn’t know how to breath through this part and my body felt like it was full on out of control. Luckily, one of the nurses showed me how to breathe through these new contractions. Then she handed over the gas. It turns out the gas takes some practice to learn how to use, but once you get it. You get it.
Before I knew it, my body was bearing down and I was grunting. I remember thinking - why am I making that noise?! It's funny to think back on that now, but it really is a feeling unlike no other that I’ll never forget. It was something that I just couldn’t control.
Baby was pushed out in about 30 minutes and was born at 4:31 am. It went so fast - faster than I expected based on all the episodes of 'A Baby Story' I had watched. I quickly learned we had a baby girl! My heart nearly exploded at that moment.
Note the photo quality - our first digital camera (because we were a touch behind in 2009).
What happened next was a bit of a blur. My heart went back to regular size and shape for the placenta to be delivered followed by some stitching, blood loss and serious uterine “massage”. Fun fact - not a massage. I preferred the part where the baby was being born to the uterine massage. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I had no idea what was happening at the time. I definitely remember the OB swearing as blood was gushing out, but I never felt scared. She was really confident and very real and compassionate with us.
Things got under control and I was able to hold my baby - fully swaddled and clothed (fun fact #2 - blankets and sleeper were provided by the hospital at that time!).
We stayed in the hospital for the next full day and night and got to go home the following day. It’s fairly strange how you go from not-a-parent to a parent in moments. I had absolutely no expectations or plan for when this baby arrived, and all of a sudden she was there and I was a mom. This birth was pretty calm and manageable which is so fitting of our daughter as a baby and now as a gigantic pre-teen. For me - and my husband too, it was such a great first birth experience and one that I relive in my mind every year.
Happy Birthday, my girl!