Here's how our sweet little angel came into this world...It's a little long but eventful!
August arrived, and brought with it the heat of a long summer. The countdown began. Our much-anticipated due date was August 25th, and as it crept nearer and nearer, we grew more and more excited to meet out little one - and find out, finally, whether we would have a sweet baby boy or a wee little girl. The time would come soon.
At 39 weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor, whochecked me and reported that I was 1 cm dilated, and preformed a "membrane sweep" which would help move things along, if my body was so inclined. Our baby wanted one more week to grow inside my belly however, because nothing happened. The next week, August 25, at 40 weeks, we did the same procedure again. I was still only 1 cm dilated. It was a Thursday.
That afternoon, I felt the first couple of contractions. I figured it was cramping from the membrane sweep and continued on with my day. Soon, the contractions began coming closer together. We called them "practice contractions" and began timing them. They were 10 minutes apart and quite painful - they kept me awake all night. I coped with them by distracting myself watching movies, bouncing on my ball, and continuing my normal activities, like walking Daisy and Bogart with David, stopping every time I had a contraction. The next morning, we debated whether or not David should go to work. The rule of thumb is not to go to hospital until "511" - the contractions are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour. My contractions had been roughly 10 minutes apart all night, but as we prepared breakfast, they seemed to peter out. They were 12 minutes, 17 minutes, 15 minutes, etc. We decided David would go to work since it was just across the street, but he was in high alert in case I called. The contractions were manageable and continued all day. They seemed to get worse at night. I googled all my symptoms and decided I was in "prodromal labour" - aka false labour. Contractions were occuring, but weren't really timeable, and this meant I wasn't making any progress. We spent the weekend inside - the contractions were so strong I would sometimes be moaning on the floor! There was no way I could go out in public. I tried breathing through them like I had read in my books and did my best to cope with them, but it was frustrating because they kept coming and I felt like I wasn't getting any closer to "real labour."I kept calling my doula, Sue, who advised me to get as much rest ad I could and take gravol to put me to sleep.It helped a little but I the contractions kept coming on strong.
On Sunday I noticed a bit of blood and hoped that things had started really happening - however the contractions remained un-timeable. There would be no sleep for me that night. I got up and folded laundry, painted my nails, and worked through the contractions. We decided to go into KGH on Monday morning to see what was happening. At this point I had been having contractions nonstop for 4 nights!
When we got to the hospital I was hooked up to a monitor to time my contractions and baby's heartbeat. We had to wait about an hour for the resident to come see me, during which time I could hear another laboring woman's scream followed by a baby's cry! The resident finally came and checked me and announced that I was already 5cm - halfway there! I was so shocked that I burst into tears. David went home to collect my bags and I settled into the room and called Sue, who was surprised at how far along I was and said she was on her way! I was GBS+ so got hooked up to an IV - no big deal at all!
By now it was about lunch time, and my contractions FINALLY began to settle into a pattern - in fact, I started progressing about 1cm per hour! I decided not to take any drugs and attempt a natural labour. David was a huge support and I leaned into him with each contraction, which were getting closer and closer together. I took several showers - the hot water felt amazing. The nurses and my doula said I was doing great, and even though the contractions were overwhelmingly strong, I was able to use my deep breathing to power through them. Toward the end, I started to lose focus but David and Sue were a great team keeping me going.
By about 10pm I was checked again and I was 10cm - time to push, I thought! Not quite - they made me breathe through about 10 more. The pain and pressure was becoming intolerably intense. I was finally told to push, which I did for about 30 minutes but the baby wasn't moving down the birth canal. Baby's head was turned to the side which was causing the doctors some concern. I agreed to an epidural, they told me I would be able to get a bit of sleep and the contractions would work to help move the baby down. But first, i tried laughing gas, but I just found it frustrating to breathe in the machine - i only used it through one contraction. The epidural went in without a problem but one side needed some adjustments before I was completely numb.
They did a procedure where they took some blood from baby's head, which David was able to see for the first time (I asked if it was blonde and the answer was no, but there was a lot of hair ? that explains the heartburn!)! They kept running the blood to the lab to make sure baby was getting enough oxygen. After several failed attempts, the results were "green light" which meant everything was fine.
After the epidrual, I slept for about an hour with David sleeping in the chair next to me, and then i tried pushing again, this time for about 45 minutes. This time, the baby's heartrate began to slow down dangerously with each push. The doctor gave us two options - either opt for a c section now, or take oxytocin and wait a few hours and attempt to push again. The doctor believed it would end in a csection either way. David looked so concerned when the baby's heart rate dropped, and we all agreed to go ahead right away with the c-section. At this point, to be honest, I just wanted my baby in my arms, and a c-section actually seemed like the lesser of two evils compared to the pain of pushing!
They prepped the room and wheeled me in within about 30 minutes. My epidural still had me numb, but the anesthesiologist kept giving me shots of something so I wouldn't feel a thing. There was a screen up so I wouldn't see what was happening, so I just held on to David?s hand tightly and was comforted by watching his face. I was also holding someone's hand on the other side, but never turned my head to see who it was! Before I knew it, I saw David's face light up and he announced "it's a boy!!" I was so happy! I saw him get whisked across the room and David followed. My neck hurt from straining to see. I asked if he was OK several times, but it was a couple minutes before I heard his cry. I heard them say there was merconium in his lungs so they were busy clearing his airways. I later found out that His first apgar score was just a 3, but then it was a 9 a few minutes later.
At this point I was quite drugged, and David came back next to me. There was a blur of confusion and I started to bleed. The baby had already begun descending through my birth canal and had been quite difficult to pull out - in fact the doctor said that my internal organs were some of the strongest she had ever seen! They couldn't find where I was bleeding from and had to call an older gynecologist-oncologist to come in from home. He rushed in and was able to find the problem right away, but it was a very long 15 minutes for David who was watching the whole thing. I was lucid but didn't really know what was going on - it was almost like I was watching a TV show rather than the procedure actually being done to me! I complained a few times that i felt some burning and they gave me more drugs. Later David told me that the anesthesiology resident had had to go sit down! High drama in the OR!
They stitched me up and stapled me and brought my baby boy over to me. I felt like I was shaking too much to hold him but they nestled him in next to me and wheeled me into recovery. I drank in his perfect skin, his pouty lips and his shock of dark hair. He was perfect beyond words! As soon as we were in the recovery room I asked for him to be unswaddled and placed skin-to-skin on my chest, and the nurses obliged. He nestled in and began nursing right away. He was 8 pounds, 3 ounces, and 19 inches long. David and I were the happiest new parents in the world!!
We had been through quite a labour. We agreed right away on the name we had planned for a boy - Maximus Samuel Jose. Samuel after my dear Zadie and Jose after David's devoted father, Jose, and Maximus was a strong name that we both liked. With such a great name we know our little Max will have the strength to do great things in his life.
I was proud that I had gotten so far naturally, but had kept an open mind and was able to get the epidural when I needed it without feeling badly, and was glad that we went ahead to have the csection when we did because we wanted to do whatever was best for our baby. In the end, I joked to the doctor that I had 3birth experiences for the price of one!