I was thankful to have my new mommy coworkers and cousin’s prep me with their birth stories while pregnant with my first, Sofia. I feel my expectation of “be prepared for anything” was how I went into my first birth because of their stories. I had an ideal birth plan but was open for any and everything, as I truly believed we need to do whatever is safest for baby and me to remain safe during delivery.
My living situation with my husband was not ideal as my permanent residency for Canada wasn’t in yet. We decided delivering in the States was our best option so I could also have help from my parents with Johnny still working. The day I started to go into labour, Johnny was in Rochester with me but debating on if he should go home as he had some work and obligations to get back to.
Saturday April 4, 2014 at 8 am, I woke up for the 49,584 time to go to the bathroom and some of the mucus plug started to come out. Excitement and nervousness hit hard. My google searches started, and that started to ease my nerves a little since google said it could be hours or days before labour fully began. I really hung on to the DAYS part of what I read. The rest of the morning I wasn’t feeling the best but went about my day. We decided to go walk the mall and go see a movie. I was SO uncomfortable trying to watch the movie with Braxton hicks and feeling unwell.
Around 4 pm, Johnny decided to head back to Toronto. Our dog was with us in Rochester and he wouldn’t leave my side. I swear your animals feel you’re in pain or if something is wrong with their owner because by 6 pm, my mucus plug fully came out and contractions began. When I called to tell Johnny, I assured him to continue home and if contractions got worse I would then call him to come back, but I really didn’t think I was in labour since my water hadn’t broken yet. Between 6 pm – midnight my contractions went from 20 min apart to 10 min a part to 5 minutes a part. Around 12 I called the on-call doctor to get her opinion. When I had my first miscarriage I had to pass blood clots, I remembered those cramps, that “feeling” of labour was with me. Now let me say this, how anyone can get ready to go to the hospital during labour is my spirit animal. Two of my coworkers knew it was going to be a long process so they showered, did their hair, makeup and then left to the hospital. It was late at this point, I was uncomfortable and tired, so I woke my parents up to bring me to the hospital.
As I arrived, I was trying to act unbothered, joking with my mom and the lady at the front desk checking me in. Another woman, clearly in labour, came in 2-3 minutes after me panting, groaning in crazy pain. I’ll never forget my mom whispering to me “you better start acting like you’re in labour if you want them to keep you”. I was uncomfortable, yes, but I knew this was no longer just Braxton hicks. I knew they would keep me once I got into triage. Let me tell you all one more thing I remember from these first few minutes at the hospital that night that scared me senseless; 20 minutes after I got into triage I heard that mother that came in after me, down the hall in delivery, SCREAMING her brains out. That right there, will mess with any new mom’s head. I had no expectation as to what was going to happen and wow did that really bring to light what I would be doing. There is only one way out for this baby and she made me wish I never signed up for motherhood in that moment. As I sat in triage, I was monitored for about 40 minutes see if I was transitioning into active labour. I called my mother in law at this point because I could not get a hold of Johnny who had just driven 3 hours home. Luckily, they were out and awake so they began to call him for me so I could concentrate on the baby situation. By 1:30 am I was admitted as I had transitioned into active labour about 4-5 cm dilated and fully effaced. I was Strep B positive with Sofia’s pregnancy so they started the IV of antibiotics and my mom and I walked the hospital trying to speed the process up until my room was ready.
When I finally got my room, I immediately ordered my epidural. It was busy that night so I knew from the birth stories I had been told to order that epidural quick because who knows when it’ll show up. At that point I was still 4-5 cm dilated and the pain wasn’t bad but if it was going to get worse, I needed the option of pain reduction. Johnny finally called after I was settled in and hooked up to my monitors. He had probably two hours of sleep and was on his way back to Rochester so he didn’t miss the delivery. He arrived at 5am just as the anesthesiologist came to do my epidural. Took 4 hours to get the epidural from being ordered and I was still managing everything ok, but was happy to have relief. Around 9 am was my first check in. I was 5 cm bordering 6 cm dilated. The epidural basically stopped my labour and at that point I wish I had walked more and waited to get it because I was progressing great on my own. But, the epidural was in so next came Pitocin to get labour moving again.
Going back in my night, around 8 pm when contractions were picking up, I messaged my friend who was due days apart from me. She was having contractions all day and actually went to triage that evening but was sent home to labour more in her own comfort. What are the odds of that? When I got checked in at triage I sent her another message and she was still in pain at home but I think ready to get to the hospital soon. As time went on with us texting I found out she was at her hospital and checked in ready to have her little girl too! When I told my nurses, they started up a competition on who would deliver first and called the other hospital to check in periodically and update me. It was fun for me to have that going on to take my mind away from the end game.
I remember around 1:30 pm on April 5 after pain free, uneventful active labour I was checked and told I was 9 cm and close to time of pushing. I quickly threw some makeup on so I didn’t look like a complete mess for when Sofia arrived, but it was useless because lets be real; pushing a baby out takes everything out of you! At that time they also found meconium, so they got the special units team in place in case she ingested any. Things were gearing up for show time and I was so, so nervous. We didn’t do any birthing classes because of our living and work situation, so I had no idea how to “push” correctly or how long I would push for. There were so many unknowns and I am not ok with unknowns. I also found out my girlfriend was pushing at the other hospital. That motivated me just a little. Ok, a lot! I wanted this to be over.
Around 1:50ish the midwife came in and checked again and said I was 10 and 0 and that I could start pushing. I felt so comfortable with her so we did a practice push to get me comfortable with it. Sofia’s heartrate plummeted and immediately we stopped. She told me we would try again, but if that happened again we would need to wait for the doctor. I must say, I literally felt nothing, no contractions, no pain, so it was hard for me to push when I couldn’t feel anything. But again, I pushed and the heart rate went back down. We waited a few minutes for the doctor to come in, the special units team to come in and off we went around 2 pm. I ended up needing oxygen during this to help me breathe and not feeling the contractions really affected how this all went down. It was so hard for me to concentrate when I truly felt like I had no idea what was going on. My doctor was amazing through it though, he was cracking jokes about my “sweat proof” makeup and really encouraged me through the process. He was not my normal OBGYN, he was actually the doctor who handled my first miscarriage. I missed my doctor by hours but completely didn’t mind. I loved everyone at my practice. Through all the madness of the people in the room and helping with delivery, after 17 minutes and at least 6-7 pushes that caused a third degree tear, my baby girl made her way into the world. 7 lbs 11 oz and 21 inches, Sofia was here and literally pooping all over me. I loved that first skin to skin moment with her regardless of the nasty bodily fluids all over me, haha. It was a moment I’ll never forget. I kept thinking to myself and kept saying to Johnny “this is what we made” because after all the heartbreak came our light at the end of the rainbow!
I didn’t’ update you on Johnny during labour. I think we are all happy I had the epidural for pain management for half the labour process. No yelling and no screaming came from me until half way through pushing. He was helping hold my leg and squeezing my hand encouraging me. In fact, while I was pushing, I focused on the fact he was holding his breath with me and it was really pissing me off! I held that annoyance in until after to tell him. I kept thinking how he was going to pass out and miss the birth. I also was shocked he watched the birth. Sometimes he really surprises me. He can’t watch a scene on Grey’s Anatomy but watched me birth a human and then cut the umbilical cord! But for your own, you’ll do anything.
Also, an update on my friend, she had her sweet baby girl first, which is beyond ok! I’m just happy they were healthy and finally together just as we were.
Now back to the end of this story. Sofia arrived and luckily hadn’t ingested any meconium. She wasn’t latching well so we were struggling to get her to feed. Thankfully, this distracted from the after birth feeling and the stitches happening down below. Two full hours went by with skin to skin and trying to get her to latch, before she got cleaned up. I loved that time with her. It seriously felt like five minutes. Poor Johnny still hadn’t held her once. But once she was cleaned up and ready to come back to us, we were in full parent mode loving on that little human we created.
I must say for a first delivery story, it was pretty uneventful compared to many people I know. Small hiccups happened through the process but were easily corrected. We had such amazing staff in Rochester that made our stay memorable in the best of ways. When they say each kid is different, each pregnancy is different and each delivery is different, you better believe it. How Sofia arrived was completely different from her siblings and suits her personality perfectly. Olivia is my wild child and that story is much more action packed. Stay tuned!
Right after birth
2 hours later
Newborn picture! Clearly my favourite!
My pup on me all day, this was right after my 8 AM bathroom trip - glued to me!