I can't believe my baby is already two months old! She is really becoming her own little person, with lots of smiles. And because it has been two months since her birth I thought I would tell our story.
I mostly want to get this out for my own healing and processing. However, if you are interested have a read. This was my birth experience, mostly my thoughts and feelings, I'm not going to get into anything too graphic.
I knew going into the birth that having an actual plan was asking too much, but I had a bunch of ideas that I wanted for my birth. Most of them didn't seem too far fetched, like I wanted to breastfeed, have skin to skin right after birth, and definitely not have my baby on antibiotics. But everything I had in mind went the exact opposite. It took some time for me to get over the events that happened, as a lot happened without our knowledge, and nothing was explained to us at the time.
In the beginning of my pregnancy we chose to go with a midwife. Over the course of nine months we had built a trusting relationship and I felt very comfortable with them. I was looking forward to experiencing my birth with my team. We had gone the midwife route for these reasons, and for the extra care you receive after birth, up to six weeks for as often as you need. However, because of the nature of my birth, care was taken out of their hands, and I had to work with strangers while going through one of the scariest moments of my life. We are healthy and happy now, and I'm so thankful to have our daughter in our lives.
February 2nd, Morning:
My due date was February 2nd, and it was a day of a huge snow storm. It took Jeff two hours to get to work and that was on the GO train. Our driveway was covered in snow, and there was no way I was getting out there to shovel. I was feeling a little anxious that if something happened I wasn't sure how I was getting to the hospital. While I was getting ready for the day I could hear a snowblower out the window that sounded close by. Looking out the window I saw it was our neighbour ploughing our driveway for us. I peered out the front door and thanked him so much. We chatted for a bit about how it was my due day, and he told me not to worry that if I needed to get somewhere he would get me there. We have the best neighbours! Being an emotional forty week preggo I was I was pretty touched by the gesture, and some of my worry went away. I told myself babies don't come on their due dates anyway. The rest of the day continued as normal. Jeff took longer to get home from work, but all was fine.
February 2nd, Evening:
I started to have more painful contractions after dinner, and around 9pm they started to get really intense. I had a feeling this might be it! As we were getting ready for bed, my water decided to break. I was just lying down to bed when it felt like a cork popped and a gush came out.
I ran to bathroom yelling "oh god, oh god, my water just broke"
From the bed Jeff asked "are you sure?"
And I was like "oh I'm super sure!"
I was shaking so much as I called my midwife. She reassured me that because my contractions were not close together I still had lots of time, to just try and get some rest. We tried to relax and get some sleep.
February 3rd, Morning:
I made it through the night. In the morning the contractions were still far apart, around every 15 to 20 minutes, so my midwife told me to try some exercise to get them closer together. Since my water had now been open for many hours we needed to get things going, as there is risk of an infection. So I did lots of walking, lunges, and stair climbing to get things moving. While I was exercising the contractions would pick up to one every 5 to 8 minutes, but once I sat back down they would be every 20 minutes again. It was exhausting!
At this point I was ready to have them come check me out. I wanted to know what was going on. So my midwife and a student midwife, that we had been working with for several months, came by our house for an exam and to discuss my options. Interestingly enough baby still hadn't dropped and I still hadn't dilated much. After having a good chat, some of which we discussed good restaurants and anthropology, it was decided that I would go into the hospital for 7:30pm and we would meet up with them there. They would have a room reserved for me ready to go. During the chat we also decided that I would be induced with oxytocin, which unfortunately would be a transfer of care to an obstetrician. My midwives would still be there to care for me, but the main decisions were out of their hands. However, we all agreed this was the best option as I was still not progressing with my contractions. Another reason to induce was that I was coming up to having my water open for 24 hours. If I still hadn't given birth by that time the hospital would give me antibiotics just incase of an infection. I'm all for antibiotics when you really need them, but not the use of them liberally for precautions. I really wanted to avoid it.
February 3rd, Evening:
After a bumpy, snowy, and slick ride to the hospital, we had arrived in the birthing centre. By this time I was having contractions every three to five minutes. We checked in, filled in paper work through contractions, and met up with our midwives.
I had been terrified of the IV for months and part of me wanted to avoid it too. Now the time had come, and it had to go in. Luckily it was just Jeff and I and the midwife student alone in the room, and she was the one going to put the IV into my arm. She explained how it would feel, and chatted with me about having to practise on each other in midwifery classes. This helped so much to keep me calm. It wasn't so bad, I just hated looking at a tube in my arm.
I had been dealing with contractions for about 24 hours now my body was exhausted. Since the oxytocin was going to make the contractions faster and stronger I decided it was time for pain management. After the IV was in place, the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural. I had to sit at the edge of the bed while a nurse held my head down to help keep my spine curved. First a needle went in for local anesthesia, then she inserted the tube into my spine. I didn't really hurt, but it was hard to keep still. For one it actually tickled, and two, I happened to have a contraction just has I needed to stay absolutely still. After it was all in place they put me down on my side, and hooked me up to all kinds of monitors. I had monitors for the baby around my belly, blood pressure cuff on my arm that took my rate every 15 minutes, and a pulse monitor on my finger. As well a catheter was put in place for urine. Next I was induced with oxytocin. At this point Jeff took a nap, the midwives went home for a break, and I was told to relax and rest as much as I could. Hard to do when your vitals are being checked every 15 minutes. At least the pain had gone from intense to barely noticeable.
February 4th, Early Morning:
I lost track of time at this point, but a few hours later the nurse mentioned she noticed a drop in the baby's heart rate, and decided to put me on oxygen. Nothing to worry about, most likely just a one time thing. I must have dosed off for a bit because next time I looked over there were three other nurses, I hadn't met, talking quickly around the monitors. I was starting to get anxious watching their behaviour. I could tell something was wrong. I wanted to call for Jeff, but somehow I couldn't find my voice. Then the nurses called the doctor in to do a physical exam on me. She found that I was still only 5 cm dilated, and my contractions were now coming in doubles, then slowing down again. The oxytocin hadn't worked. Baby still hadn't dropped into the birth canal, and her heart rate kept dropping. The doctor sat down on my bed and starting explaining what was happening. The operating room was being prepped as we spoke and that baby had to come out now. Jeff woke up at this point and joined in the conversation. He then called the midwives and told them I was getting a C-section right now.
I was really nervous. As I was still hooked up to the monitors the beeping started going crazy as my own heart rate started to race. Every image started to go through my mind, was I going to be OK, was baby going to make it. No one was there that had been apart of my original team, not even the nurse that I had been working with when this all started.
I was wheeled down the hall and into the operating room. Somehow seeing everything from the ceiling was even scarier, looking up at the big lights placed over my bed for the operation. Jeff wasn't allowed in at this point and the midwives had not arrived yet. I lay there as they hooked me up to everything and I listened to them take inventory, "scalpel" etc. My arms were placed out to each side, and I was covered in blankets and a screen so I would not see the surgery. I was shaking like mad and freezing (although I was told later the room was actually quite warm).
I was injected with antibiotics as a precaution as my water had now been open for more than 24 hours and because it is protocol for surgery. I was also injected with more anesthesia to numb me from the chest down. Unfortunately the new injection made me sick to my stomach and I threw up a few times. Now I know why I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything. I hadn't had anything to eat since 5pm the previous evening, and it was about 5am the next day at this point. Which isn't too bad, and I was too busy with labour to notice, but then they wouldn't let me eat anything for another 12 hours after the surgery. So hungry!
At some point during the operation set up my midwife arrived and took my hand, and I felt so much better and supported. Finally someone I knew and trusted was here. And soon after that Jeff was allowed to come in, and he sat down by my other side. Then I relaxed and let everyone else take care of everything. I somehow felt responsible up to that point, and after my team arrived I left things in their hands.
Surgery went by quickly for me. As we were waiting (it's funny to be waiting for the birth of your child instead of doing the work) we decided on her name. We had three choices in mind, and we picked Elara right there during her birth. Then we heard her cry, and she was here! I just burst into tears. After 32 hours of labour and two nights with no sleep she was here. The nurse thought something was wrong with me, but Jeff explained it was just emotions. I got to see baby briefly as they carried her past me to weigh and measure her. Jeff went over and got the chance to trim the umbilical cord. After all that was done, Jeff brought her over and placed her cheek to cheek with me. I just remember how incredibly soft she was.
After being stitched back up we were taken to recovery, and stayed there for a couple of hours. I got to see baby closer and hear her breathe and cry, but I wasn't strong enough to hold her. We revealed her name out loud for the first time, Elara Skye.
February 4th, Afternoon:
We ended up spending another few days at the hospital. Two more were required for my recovery from the surgery. However, Elara ended up needing to spend a few days in NICU because she was vomiting a lot and her sugar levels were really low.
Our baby was taken away from us, without telling us what was going on, soon after we settled into our room. It was really frustrating and nerve racking to not know why she was taken or what was wrong. She was also given formula and a dose of antibiotics without our prior knowledge. Since baby was gone from us before I had even gotten to really meet her it felt like we didn't have a baby at all.
February 4th, Evening:
Our midwife came to visit later in the day on February 4th, and we explained what had happened. She got to the bottom of it for us, and arranged for us to visit baby in NICU. It was also the first time I was able to get up out of bed. The only thing I could do is stand and move into a wheel chair. The pain was intense despite being on a lot of pain killers. Both Jeff and my midwife wheeled me and my IV drip down to the NICU to finally see our baby. I had a hard time holding her but we finally got to spend some time skin to skin, and I got to look into her eyes.
February 5th - February 6th:
Over the next day and a half we would visit Elara every three hours (as this was her feeding schedule made by the NICU) and I would try to breastfeed, although I had no milk. So we would also give her formula through a feeding tube. It was really hard to see her all hooked up to tubes and an IV. However, we knew she was going to be just fine in a few days, and looking around the NICU at some of the other babies in there I felt very fortunate.
February 6th, Afternoon:
I was discharged from the birthing centre, however Elara was still in the NICU. We were told she would probably be able to leave that evening, so they set us up in a small room in the NICU as I still needed to rest. There was not much in there but a chair that pulled out into a long platform that could be used as a bed, and a bathroom. However, soon after moving all our stuff in there, we were told Elara was moving up to another floor. She didn't really need to be in the NICU, but still needed to be monitored every three hours by the nurse. So we were all moved to the paediatrics floor. The new room was a lot older, but it had a real bed for my recovery. There was also a toilet and a sink, but no shower. However, the best part of this situation was that Elara stayed with us now, and we got to look after her for the first time.
February 6th, Evening:
Not having anyone caring for me anymore, yet still being in the hospital was hard. Jeff had to go out for each meal and bring me food. I didn't have the strength to walk anywhere myself and someone needed to stay with the baby, as we were not allowed to take her anywhere either. At this point we were told that we would have to stay until the next morning. This room only had one bed, but I needed Jeff to look after baby for the most part as I still couldn't lift her. We were so frustrated that we now had to stay longer than we originally thought. I just sobbed, I wanted to go home so badly. Fortunately it's amazing how one person can make or break a bad situation. For us the night nurse was so kind and funny, it was just what we needed. She even brought in another bed for Jeff, and told us to sleep, that she would come in and feed Elara for us. It was the most perfect gift that we both desperately needed.
In the morning we kept waiting to be told we could leave. The day nurse said we were just waiting for the paediatrician to call. And we waited and waited. The longer we waited the more depressed I got. I couldn't imagine getting through another night, especially with no shower. Meanwhile the snow was coming down harder and harder. We kept hoping to leave before it got too bad, and we were worried about our driveway. Our midwives came to visit, and helped by really pressing the nurse to get a hold of the paediatrician.
Just as we were preparing for another night there (Jeff was going to go home and shovel and get more clothes for all of us), the paediatrician called. We were free to go! Apparently he had been in earlier in the day down in the NICU, but had forgotten we were upstairs. Gah! It was about 6:30pm when we finally left, and drove home through the storm. Jeff ended up having to leave Elara and me in the car while he shovelled the driveway because the car couldn't make it up. There was no way I could walk up our steep driveway, I had only made it halfway across the hospital lobby before needing a wheel chair.
It was a really hard week, but we got through it. I was so so happy to be home! Now, two months later, we are all doing just fine. And we just love her so much!