A Challenging Journey with the Greatest Gift
I’ll start by saying that I had a wonderful birth experience the first time with my daughter. I had worked with a doula to acknowledge and overcome fear of labour and birth. Having had some challenges in the past year and a high risk pregnancy as well as prolapse I had some concerns with how my body would fare this time around. More importantly though was feeling informed and empowered throughout birth. I didn’t have my heart set on delivery looking a certain way. I cared about two things: 1) A healthy baby and 2) A healthy Mom. Sadly I hear stories of birth trauma and disrespect in the labour and delivery room too often and that had me nervous. I had been practicing breathing, relaxing and visualizing. I had a birth plan that detailed what I wanted birth to look like and what I preferred if there was a change of events. I made my music playlist and would listen to it at night. It is my body - I felt confident to stand up for what mattered to me. I felt ready. I was excited.
I headed to bed around 10:30 Thursday evening, November 23rd as I had been up the majority of the night before with cramping and discomfort and knew that birth was imminent so best to be rested up. Unfortunately, sleep was not in my cards. By about 11:30 I was pretty sure I could consider myself in early labour. I stayed in bed knowing full well that conservation of energy was key at this point. I continued to labour in bed from 11:30 - 1:00 at which point I need to get up and move around. I did the loop through the house, down the stairs, stop for a glass of water, pace the main floor, some gentle pelvic mobility laying over the island then back up the stairs. At this point I wasn’t too sure about labour - it seemingly slowed down with this change in position. So a glass of juice (I was feeling very hungry, but also like puking) then I headed back to lie down. From 1-1:30 laying on my side things ramped up FAST. Going from contractions of 10-11 minutes apart lasting a minute each down to six minutes apart…. Hmmm… this seemed a lot like my daughter’s birth! At 2 am I sent a text to my doula to check in - doing well - wave contractions are beginning. “Still doing awesome”. From here I would switch sides in bed every contraction or two.
By 3:15 my contractions were coming hard and in waves lasting anywhere from 45 seconds - 1:15 every 2-4 minutes. Catching my breath in between was challenging. I wanted to labour in the comfort of my home with no stress of practitioners in the hospital but also distinctly remember how uncomfortable the last car ride was pushing, while kneeling, in the back seat. While there was no pushing yet, I could tell I was close and guessed I was transitioning - somewhere between 7-9 cm. I remember this from my daughter’s birth when I told my doula then “this is why people elect for epidurals”. It’s fucking hard. The moments of doubt crept in briefly here. I reframed it. “This is a good sign - baby is on their way. The only way out is through. Keep going. You can do this.” Definitely time to head in. I nudged my husband and told him he better get the car warmed up. I think it’s time to go. And right now. This took him with surprise as he didn’t know I was in labour until this point. I am an introvert at heart and sometimes I cope best on my own. Early labour is one of those moments, apparently. Off we went.
Upon arrival, the nurses quickly checked me feeling fairly confident that I was quite advanced. (The instinctual animal noises and heavy deep breaths at admission might have given me away). Measuring 8-9 cm dilated and completely effaced it was almost go-time. Woohoo! My water broke immediately thereafter and I was feeling the strong urge to send my breath south and have this baby in my arms. Our doula met us at the hospital and we settled in quickly in our delivery room (the same one I delivered my daughter in 2.5 years prior). I originally thought I would like to labour in a hands and knees position like last time but had such a strong urge to remain on my side. My doula encouraged me to switch sides to keep things moving forward. Her calm demeanour, encouraging words, and firm back rubs were welcomed as the contractions were extremely intense and frequent with little to no rest in between and I was feeling pretty exhausted. My husband graciously held my one leg to help me relax through the pelvis and had his hand nearly crushed. He’s a good man.
This stage of labour was so challenging but also the most amazing experience. I was in the zone. Eyes closed. Visualizing my baby moving south and meanwhile, actually being able to feel them descend, sometimes in large increments, with a powerful contraction. While I could not effectively communicate with anyone at this time I was hyper aware of everything going on around me. With each contraction I would do all I could to breathe. Long breaths. I would scan my body from head to toe focusing on relaxing through my jaw, my neck, my upper back, my arms, my belly, my pelvis, my legs, my feet. I could get through 1-2 scans with each contraction. The short time in between was spent trying to allow my body to fall heavy into the bed. There wasn’t much time for this and I remember thinking “I just really want a goddamned break, already”. But the little one had other plans.
After 3-4 really strong contractions I heard the nurse nervously announce “there’s a head!” and then quickly make the call out to have the docs get into the room. Everything thereafter was a bit of a blur but my husband has filled me in. Apparently, about 30 seconds later when my room exploded with people I was crowning (and surprisingly only dropping one f-bomb the entire labour at this time because “ring of fire” is an adequate description of what is happening at that time) and the doctor was telling me to wait because they weren’t ready. There was no waiting. I let my body do it’s work, trying to be calm and allow baby to gently join us. I kept saying “gentle” and “soft”. It worked. Little one let us know he had arrived with a cry before his shoulders were delivered. Our handsome son officially joined us at 5:57 a.m. We immediately snuggled and shortly later breastfed for the first time. It was relieving to have him healthy and in my arms. I was overwhelmed with love, emotion and sheer delight about kicking labour and delivery ass.
Regardless of how we deliver our children, it is a testament to the power of a woman’s body. We are freaking amazing, Mama’s.
Welcome to the One Tough Mama Family, Kieran Darcy Coels!!