Owen's birth story
Updated: Apr 29
Good morning, mama! A few weeks ago, I asked for you all to submit your birth stories to me so I could share them on my blog. I have been so touched by the responses I got, and am currently trying to figure out the very best way to go about sharing these all back to this little community I've created. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to launch this grand idea with the birth story that made me a mama. Owen's birth story.
It was early in the day on April 19, 2017. I was 39 weeks, 2 days pregnant with my sweet baby girl, and though I had a pretty great pregnancy, I was starting to get the itch for her to join us earth side. I had been off work for a week, and everything was ready, so had scheduled a stretch and sweep with my midwife, Kelley, to see if we could get the ball rolling.
From day 1, I had known that I'd want to attempt an out-of-hospital birth. I had read so much about all aspects of birthing babies, and knew that it was something I was mentally capable of should my body follow suit. I knew that if I set myself up to be as comfortable, open, and confident as I could be in my labour I would be able to power through. My absolute dream was to birth Owen in the water.
The stretch and sweep was mildly uncomfortable for me, and brought on some cervical mucus and bloody show (it was working!). I had scheduled a pedicure for 1pm, and ended up cancelling because I was lying in bed with a crampy tummy, and thought it best to get some rest. My mom needed a drive to an appointment later that afternoon, and so I hopped out and put my best poker face on to pick her up. It was so important to me that no one know I was in labour until baby was born - I wanted space to do my own thing without feeling the need to keep anyone else up to date on my cervical situation... you feel me?! I had more important things to be focusing on! I held it together until I dropped her off and got back home (little did I know she was totally aware of my contractions but didn't mention it - thank you Mom for respecting my wishes in this!).
Resting in bed after my stretch and sweep - feeling all cute and like I was the best at this.
Sean got home around 5:30, and I told him it felt like things were happening, so we decided to sit together in the living room to time the contractions and see if this really was the real deal. We called Kelley at around 7pm, and told her that contractions were consistent, but that I was still handling it fine, and wasn't yet in active labour. She was with another mama, so we planned for her to come over around 10pm to check me and make a plan. My homework for the next couple hours was bouncing on the ball, walking, and just trying to keep things working. Sean, on the other hand, thought it was a great time to have a shower and 'get ready' for the big event - the guy dressed better for this than he did for our first date!
When she arrived, I was positive I was in active labour, and that I was an absolute superstar holding my shit together through every contractions. "I am SO friggin good at this", I thought. My midwife assessed me, and told me that I was only 2 cm dilated and therefore it wasn't time to get our gear and head to the birth centre just yet. She got Sean to grab me a Gravol, and helped me get set up on the couch so that I could get some sleep. She told us that there was no reason for both of us to be awake, so that Sean should go to bed upstairs (greatest advice ever - you're going to end up exhausted at the end of this regardless of what happens, so your partner should be as rested as they can be to take care of YOU as best they can). I might have sneaked a glass of red to wash my Gravol down - shhhh. Through the night, I was shockingly able to get some sleep and felt as though I was in a trance between contractions. The human body is nuts!
I woke up at 6am on April 20th, ready to take on the day. Today is when my baby will be born! I was positive. I was full of energy and ready for anything Kelley would throw my way. I was so sure things had progressed that she made her way back over around 11am to check me yet again. And of course, nothing. ZERO cervical progress, despite ALL the contracting that happened through the night! What the hell, guys. I was disappointed, but wasn't giving up. My midwife set us out with a plan to go for a long walk, for me to do lunges on the stairs, and god knows what else. I did it all! Sean was exhausted before I was.
By 6pm, things were starting to get more and more unbearable, so we made a plan to head over to the Birth Centre for an assessment there in case it was time to be admitted.
You guys... NO cervical change. By this point I was so defeated. Owen was cock-eyed down the passage, and wasn't optimally placed for descending down the birth canal, and so my body was essentially working hard with no progress. My midwife gave me my options at this point, which involved pain relief so we could give my body a rest. One of the options involved going to the hospital for Nubain, an opioid pain medication, which would then forfeit my Birth Centre birth. The other involved sterile water injections, in which Kelley would inject sterile water just under the skin on my lower back. The idea behind this is that pain receptors then distract you from your contractions, and so you can have relief for a few hours. Mother of all things holy - THAT hurt. Call me dramatic, but I swear I would give birth all over again to avoid those!
We decided I'd go home, get more sleep, and that I'd likely be up in the middle of the night calling Kelley to finally give birth to this babe. This is when Sean thought it was a brilliant idea to have a very specific craving for a Kettleman's bagel sandwich - not on the way home AT all. If you've ever been in a car while in labour, you know the sort of colourful language and affectionate names I called him en route. He got his sandwich (and I got one too and was not mad about it), and off we went. Back home for yet another night of contractions for me.
I laboured through the night, and things were definitely progressing. I was on all fours, moaning at about 3am when Sean mentioned we should be calling Kelley, but I absolutely refused. I wasn't going to wake my midwife up in the middle of the night yet again only to be told I was still 2cm dilated. So, we waited til 6am, and I called her to say we'd be heading to the Birth Centre shortly to avoid traffic (I did NOT want to be in a car any longer than I had to be after the Kettleman's fiasco). We met there around 7, she checked me, and though the progress wasn't as much as I'd hoped, it was enough to admit me to the Birth Centre. Maybe being in a different atmosphere would get the ball rolling.
My lovely midwife poured me a warm bath, and set out all the tools for me in the room. The exercise ball, wraps hanging from the ceiling, you name it. We set a clock for 3 hours, and decided we wouldn't do any checks until then. TODAY was the day my baby would be born. Right?! April 21st. Let's do it.
I laboured and laboured until the timer went off. 10am. No progress. What on fucking earth you guys. I was MAD. Kelley was so amazing at giving me my options - we could transfer to the hospital for oxytocin and an epidural to give me some rest, or she could manually break my waters and we'd see where that would take me. Option B is the one I chose - I was mad, but still so determined. She broke my waters, and thankfully they ran clear - I was able to stay at the Birth Centre and keep labouring on.
In the tub, out of the tub. On all fours. On the toilet. In the shower. On the ball. Nitrous oxide. Juice. Back in the tub. Out of the tub. I was doing it all, in hopes of getting things moving. A few hours later, my midwife checked me and I WAS AT 7cm!! Progress!!! This was the best news I'd gotten in the last 48h. I was absolutely elated. I got back in the tub to get some relief because that's where I felt most comfortable. Through all of this, Kelley discreetly would check baby's heart rate every 15 minutes to keep an eye on her. She even had a doppler that was waterproof so I barely even noticed she was there.
And then, things took a turn. At the next heart rate check around 2pm, Owen's heart rate dropped. Everything happened so fast. Before I knew it, I was out of the tub, on the bed, paramedics were there, the secondary midwife Whitney hooked me up to an IV and off to the hospital we went. Although Owen's heart rate crept back up without issue, there are no risks taken at the Birth Centre. The ambulance ride was the absolute worst! So rickety, I had to be lying on my back (which I hadn't done at all since the start of my labour), and I was clinging to Kelley absolutely crying out to her for relief. Get me the damn epidural! I had reached my breaking point. If things weren't going to go as planned, hook me up to some drugs and let's give this mama a break!
Before I knew it, I was in our room, hooked up to an epidural, to some oxytocin to help my body keep labouring despite the exhaustion, and it was all bliss. The relief was exactly what I needed. I'd tried my very best to have a natural birth at the Birth Centre, and in that moment I was at peace. I was exactly where I needed to be. I got some sleep, and Sean watched the Leafs game on my phone (it was the playoffs).
Around 9pm, once I'd woken up, Kelley performed a cervical check and we determined that baby still wasn't in an optimal position. She recommended we get an OB consultation in case we'd need a vacuum or forceps. I begged for one more hour. So, we agreed (at this point, neither I nor the baby were in danger, so my midwife was able to accommodate my request). We'd see where one more hour would take us.
IN COMES THE PEANUT BALL.
This thing changed everything. Kelley positioned it under my legs, and we flipped me around to change my position in hopes that Owen would flip into place. I remember so distinctly, that during the heart rate check right near the 1 hour mark, we heard a big WHOOSH - BABY WAS MOVING!!! No need for a consultation. Again, I was so thrilled. The next two hours, things progressed beautifully and before I knew it, it was time to start 'practice' pushes. The secondary midwife was on her way. This baby was coming!
Kelley showed Sean and I how to maneuver pushing seeing as I couldn't feel my legs (he held one side up, I was holding a sheet tied to a bar hung over me). A couple practice pushes in, and Kelley started to put her birthing gown and gloves on to be ready when it was time to push for real. Well, let me tell you I wasn't about these practice pushes - I had waited 3 days for this moment. She was midway through putting her gloves on and yelled STOP PUSHING!!! The secondary midwife Whitney ran in, and within the next couple minutes Owen was born! Not on April 19th, April 20th, or even April 21st. On April 22nd, at 12:44am, she was laid on my chest, and I was SO relieved. I remember being somewhat in shock that she was actually born - it had been such a buildup! We popped a bottle of champagne and celebrated. The next few hours at the hospital with the midwives, my husband, and new baby were so special and times I'll never forget. They taught me how to breastfeed, we recounted the events of the last 3 days, and laughed about the funny moments that occurred.