It’s Mother’s Day, and for the first time ever this holiday applies to ME! Mavis is 5 weeks old today and I wanted to share her birth story today for my first Mother’s Day.
It has been really neat to compare birth stories with my friends who are also delivering babies this year – there are 10 other women in my new mommy circle bringing 11 babies into the world (plus a whole host of other friends off Gabriola that are pregnant too!) and each one of us has had a different experience. There are so many different ways to give birth! We have had home births, hospital births, babies born after due dates, babies born weeks earlier than due dates, natural births, epidurals, episiotomies, planned cesarians, emergency cesarians, hemorrhages, long labours, short labours, inductions, 6 pound babies, 10 pound babies, singles, multiples, first time moms, repeat moms, EVERYTHING. It’s really amazing that birth looks so varied for everyone. There’s no wrong way to do it 🖤
I was incredibly fortunate to have a smooth and quick labour in hospital following a medical induction due to complications that developed late in pregnancy. In my third trimester my blood pressure started to creep up and additional testing showed the presence of protein in my urine, both indicators of developing preeclampsia. At 38 weeks, on the Friday, I received a call from my midwife to say that she wanted me to head to hospital to see an OB and have a stress test performed to check on baby, and mentioned that they may want to induce me that weekend to get the baby out (the only way to “cure” preeclampsia is to give birth). This came as a surprise but we set off for hospital and prepared ourselves to have Mavis 2 weeks earlier than planned.
In the hospital it was confirmed everything was fine with both myself and baby, and I was presented with a choice: go home and continue to be monitored over the following weeks for worsening symptoms, or come back the next day for a medical induction. The logistics of commuting to the hospital every few days plus the uncertainty of when labour would happen both seemed like big drawbacks (when you’re relying on a ferry to get you to hospital, contractions in the middle of the night would require a 911 call and a trip in the harbour master’s boat lol) so we decided to come back Saturday morning to be induced. Knowing when labour would happen and being able to prepare accordingly felt like a real luxury, and the fact that the choice was left entirely up to me was also refreshing.
Saturday morning J, our doula, and I set off for hospital in Nanaimo after a night of zero sleep (Nerves! I was having a baby in the morning!) and began intake to the maternity ward. There was some debate over whether I would stay in hospital after taking the induction drug or be sent to my Mom’s house until things started moving, but then while they performed an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid levels I spontaneously barfed all over myself for the 1000th time and that was enough to get me admitted right away (vomiting also being a symptom of preeclampsia). I had an IV put in for the first time in my life and received fluids and gravol while everything else got set up. The rooms at the hospital are super nice, all private and with a tv, additional bed for family to stay over, fridge for food, private bathroom with huge shower and huge bathtub… seriously it was like a fancy hotel. I was so thankful for the privacy and comfort and this greatly reduced my anxiety. We are so lucky here!
I was given 3 total doses of mesoprostal over the course of Saturday, each pill followed by one hour of fetal monitoring to check the status of baby’s heart rate and watch for contractions. My Mom came to stay with us and we hung out and watched TV, I had a bath, and things were really relaxed. Early Sunday morning I was given a 4th dose and was strapped in for the hour of monitoring when suddenly I felt the baby kick me really hard. So hard that I swear I heard a smacking sound, ha. I then shifted a bit on the bed and realized it wasn’t a kick, it was my water breaking. I had 10 minutes left of monitoring so I wasn’t allowed up yet, but the contractions started coming and I really felt like getting up and walking around. My cervix was checked and at 2cm dilated. This was 6:30am.
I walked some laps of the ward with my doula and J as contractions started getting stronger. When I could no longer walk or talk during contractions we switched to a kneeling position in the room with my forearms resting on a big exercise ball. The IV had been placed in my right wrist so I was unable to bend it properly which was a minor annoyance and prevented being on all fours, but resting on my forearms with my head on my hands was a comfortable position for about an hour, then I made the switch to the bathtub.
My doula and I did some deep breathing as the contractions got stronger and a nurse strapped me into the fetal monitor again. At this point I could hear the OB outside the bathroom door talking with J about getting ready to check my dilation but waiting until I got out of the tub. I started really struggling with the contractions (oh man, they were getting crazy painful) and was thinking this stage was going to last another few hours at least. Then the nurse asked if I felt any pressure, which confused me, but all of a sudden I was pushing. How did I not know this would be an involuntary movement like a dry heave or a sneeze?? Now I was really freaking out as I realized the birth was happening right then! Suddenly I’m being yanked out of the bathtub (which is not equipped for water birth so it’s against hospital policy to deliver the baby there) and being walked to the hospital bed. I basically shut my eyes then and there and didn’t open them again until she was being placed on my chest hahaha.
It was a total blur, but over the next 15 minutes I was sat on the bed and confirmed 10cm dilated, my midwife came into the room in time to put down her bag and glove up, and Mavis was born after about 4 big pushes. I was told when to feel for the head as it crowned (such a strange sensation) and J was there to catch her with the midwife’s guidance, as we had discussed. The placenta was out 5 minutes later and that was it! From start to finish was under 3 hours, which surprised everyone and I was obviously ecstatic.
It was a really great experience and I feel very fortunate to have avoided all the interventions I was worried about (tearing, epidural, episiotomy, catheter, cesarian) and Mavis was born perfectly healthy. My blood pressure eventually returned to normal and now everything is fine and we are absolutely over the moon.
Happy Mother’s Day to everyone that identifies as a mother and celebrates today. This is a day for you! 🖤