Six years ago yesterday....
It was Monday September 18, 2006. I awoke and was looking forward to not having to go into work as I was using up some vacation days before my maternity leave started. I had plans to do the laundry and then I was going to go to the grocery store to buy a number of items to start preparing casseroles and lasagna to have ready for when the baby came. The following day, Tues Sept 19th, would mark one week until my due date. I was really tired because a few days before that, on the Friday, my in-laws had come to town and we had walked all over downtown Toronto. When I had awoken on Saturday I was so sore but I just chalked it up to all the walking I had done on my poor swollen ankles the day before. On Sunday things weren't feeling much better so we just took it easy. Even though I had all these grand plans to get all these meals prepared and to do laundry I was surprised by how painful it was to carry the load of laundry down to the basement. I wasn't too sure how I would manage grocery shopping at that point and made the executive decision that it would have to wait until Jamie got home so that he could help me carry the groceries! I sent Jamie an email telling him that I wasn't feeling quite "right" and that we'd have to do groceries later.
The rest of the day was a blur. I'm not sure what I did. I probably rearranged the nursery again or just spent time sitting in the nursery envisioning having my baby in my arms. I know I napped at some point later in the afternoon and when I woke up I felt even worse and a little crampy. We were in the midst of making plans to go out for dinner with our friends Jon and Marion for the following night and I remember sending Jon an email telling him to call tomorrow before meeting us at the restaurant in case I was too busy having a baby!
When I awoke from my nap it was close to 5 p.m. and the labour cramps had started. They weren't necessarily bad, but they were different than what I had ever experienced, and they were regular - occurring every 5 minutes. As the Midwives told us not to call them until the contractions were consistent for one hour, lasting for one minute 4 minutes apart I just sat there waiting for Jamie to come home.
By the time Jamie came home I told him what was happening and we sat down to eat dinner. The contractions weren't intense at this point but they were definitely noticable. I ate some dinner and recall timing the contractions. They were lasting for about 10 seconds and occuring regularly every 5 minutes. At this point, they weren't too bad at all, however, I can't recall the remainder of the night until about 10 p.m. I'm sure I watched TV or went through my hospital again for the umpteenth time to make sure I had everything!
By 10 p.m. the contractions were much more intense and the pain was all in my back. I asked Jamie to push into my back and put as much pressure as he could on it, but he stopped short when I told him that he would have to stand on my back! I remember being on all fours on my bed rocking back and forth to attempt to "ride out" the contractions and recall feeling a "pop" - my water broke! At this point we called the Midwives who asked why we hadn't called earlier! When I explained that we weren't at the 4-1-1- yet they laughed and said I took them too literal (who me?!?!). We talked on the phone for a bit and I was surprised when Sara, our Midwife said, "Well, you can still talk to me so you have a ways to go still. Take a couple of gravol, get some sleep and give me a call in the morning". Say what?!?! You mean there would be a point when I couldn't talk because the pain would be so bad?? I immediately told Jamie to go to sleep and get some rest as I knew I wouldn't be getting any and as he couldn't really help me anyways I wanted one of us to at least have a good nights sleep. I also wanted to be alone with my labour. I remember going into the nursery and sitting on the chair backwards and leaning over the top of the chair, moaning/yelling into a pillow so that our neighbours, whose home was attached, wouldn't hear me.
At midnight I woke Jamie back up. The pain was intense and I wanted to find out when the Midwives would be coming over. Again Sara did the "talk" trick and told me I should be fine for a bit and to call them back in a few hours. So at 3 a.m. we called them back and were told that Sara and Christie would be on their way over to check in on my progress. They were at the house before 3:30 a.m. I was so scared when they went to check me that I was only going to be 1 cm dilated and that I had gone through so much pain for so long with such little progress but I was pleasantly surprised when they said I was already almost 5 cm! Woo hoo! Half way there! Christie then asked to (too much information alert) see evidence of my water breaking. I had been told a "trick" of wearing Depends undergarments by another mom friend of mine so when my water had broken earlier everything had been contained in one of these (and please, stop picturing me in a diaper!) as opposed to all over the floor. Christie picked it up and looked at it closely and I could see her and Sara pass a knowing glance between one another. I asked what was wrong and it was explained to me that the colour of my water wasn't as clear as it should have been and that it looked like there was meconium in it. Christie said we needed to get to the hospital right away. I asked if I had time for a quick shower and was told I did, however, it was cut short by Christie telling me we had to go. I got out a little grumpily as the hot water cascading on my belly during contractions was nothing short of bliss - it felt amazing and I was looking forward to hopping right into the jacuzzi tub when we got to the hospital!
Getting to the hospital was a bit of an adventure. We literally live two minutes from the hospital and there are two routes you can go. One has speed bumps and the other doesn't. Guess which one my dear husband chose to take? Speed bumps! For every bump I groaned/moaned/yelled into a pillow. He tried to take them slow but no matter how slow he went, as I would then tell him to hurry up, it hurt. So take note to everyone who has yet to and/or who are going to be having a baby and ensure you don't take the speed bump route!
When we got to the hospital it was explained to me that due to the meconium a scalp clip would need to be put on the baby's head to monitor his breathing and heartrate. I was introduced to a very nice doctor who was over 6' and who had the largest hands I have ever seen! He quickly put on the scalp clip and I was informed that due to the meconium when the baby was born there was a chance that the baby would have to be whisked away to the nursery if the baby didn't come out crying/screaming. I remember telling Jamie that he was to follow the baby no matter what happened to me and that the baby was more important and he was not to leave the baby's side no matter what the circumstance.
The contractions were still steady at this point and lasting for 10 secs. As they hit I would count "1 Mississippi, two Missisippi..." to see them through. At this point I asked about the jacuzzi tub and was informed that due to the scalp clip I was not getting anywhere near water. I asked if I could get up and walk around and Sara pointed to this big machine that the clip was attached to. I was trapped! It was at the moment that I realized I was bed bound and all the plans I had for managing my labour by having a bath, walking, bouncing on a ball etc., were not going to work. I took one look at Sara and as if she was reading my mind she stated that the anesthesiologist was down the hall and was about to go into a surgery. Would I like an epidural before they leave as it's not known when they would be available again? I don't even think I said yes, perhaps I nodded, I'm not too sure, but the next thing I know the anesthesiologist was in the room and I was ready. I was actually a little worried about Jamie at this point. Jamie does not do needles. And seeing that he was holding me still to ensure that anesthesiologist actually got the correct spot I was so scared he was going to jump and cause the needle to hit the wrong nerve. Nothing like putting faith in the man you love! Twenty minutes after that, I was in heaven. Despite wanting to go as long as I could without an epidural as soon as I knew I was bed bound and that I had back labour, which I've heard is much more painful than "regular" labour (as if there is such a thing as "regular" labour!) I welcomed the relief! By 6 a.m. I was sitting cozily in the bed chatting up a storm and anxiously waiting to meet my little one!
Around 8:30 a.m. I think my in-laws arrived. Jamie had called our parents to let them know we were at the hospital at some point between 6 and 8:30, but when asked he can't recall calling them stating that the whole day was a blur! We chatted for quite some time and then they left for a bit to go to the Farmer's Market across the street.
By this time things had slowed down and I wasn't progressing very quickly (no thanks to the epidural I'm sure!). Because of this I had to be given medicine to speed things up, at which point, we had to do a transfer of care as the Midwives cannot administer this medication. What this meant was that a doctor, one whom I have never met before, was now going to be responsible for my care and the delivery of our baby. I wasn't very happy with this decision but was relieved when I found out that this did not mean that Sara and Christie would be leaving me... they would still be there with me by my side! I also for some strange reason developed a fever at some point during the day. And due to this I was informed that they would have to do some testing on the baby shortly after birth to ensure I hadn't passed on an infection of any sort. I was also informed that due to the meconium there would also be a pediatrician in the room during delivery in case the baby needed to be whisked down to the nursery (basically in case the baby needed to be resuscitated, which they didn't say, but I knew).
The rest of the afternoon was quite long. I remember being told to get some rest, and I have no idea how they thought I could rest! I was wired! I was finally meeting my little baby! The little one who I talked and sang to daily, the little one who's bum or head (we never knew which) I would rub and the little one I had dreamed of for so long! I was so anxious to finally be able to hold my baby there was no way I was going to miss a thing by sleeping!
At one point in the afternoon, around 4 p.m., this one nurse came in holding a mirror and various other apparatus and I asked her what thye were for and I remember her saying, "They're for you dear. You're going to be pushing soon". I don't think it was until this point that the panic started to kick in and I realized exactly what I was about to go through in order to have my baby in my arms!
Shortly after 4 p.m. I was told it was time to push. I recall Christie telling me at one point that my family were all anxious to meet our baby and I remember questioning her on this because for all I knew it was just Jamie's parents who were at the hospital. Christie turned to me and told me that my mother, sister and niece and nephew were there and that my father, brother-in-law and brother would be arriving a little later. This was such a bittersweet moment for me... I didn't realize they had planned on being there! It was a wonderful surprise to know they had made the effort to be there on such an important day!
As I was told it was time to push I was surprised that I didn't feel the "urge" to push, so it felt very strange to me to be pushing when my body wasn't telling me too. While taking a breather during pushing Jamie, who dutifully listened while attending our prenatal classes, would offer me sips of Gatorade. It got to the point that as soon as I stopped there would be the Gatorade in my face. I'm not sure how it didn't end up all over the floor but I eventually told him thanks but no thanks and to literally get it out of my face! The poor guy! All he was trying to do was be a good husband and help! But I'm proud to say I didn't yell, I didn't swear and there were no "crazy women in labour" moments that you see in the movies!
I didn't say much during actual labour. I remember pushing and hoping that I was doing it correctly. The nurse asked me if I wanted to watch in the mirror and I declined and as things continued I remember only two things I said during the whole process. One was "Get your hands out of me" (seriously, why didn't anyone tell me I would have so many hands in me?!?!) and two as I experienced what I call the "ring of fire", I stated "Get the baby out of me now!".
And at 5:14 p.m. I heard the world's most wonderful cry. The pediatrician, who had been standing in the doorway, quietly slipped away. The baby, who's gender I did not know at the time, was placed on my chest. I took one look at him and the first words I said to my son were, "I knew you were a boy!" It was the most wonderful experience of my life. The baby, now named Sebastian, had his eyes open and was lifting his head to my voice. It was almost as if to look me in the eye to confirm that we just did this together. Jamie was standing by my side, with one arm gently on Sebastian's back and the other hand cutting the umbilical chord. It truly was one of the most magical moments of my life.
I don't think it was until closer to 7 p.m. that we had family waiting to hear our joyous news! There had been so much happening between complications with myself and testing for Sebastian to make sure he didn't have an infection that we forgot they were there! Most of it was a blur but I remember Christie going to weigh Sebastian and me telling her I wanted to guess his weight. Due to my job I was used to looking at babies so I took one look at our baby, stated 8lbs 12 ounces and lo and behold! I was right! I just gave birth to an almost 9 lb baby!
Shortly after 7 p.m. the whole family came in to meet the newest member! My nephew Jeremy was so happy to have a boy cousin that he kept exclaiming how he just knew I was having a boy! Everyone stayed for a little while and then slowly trinkled out. I'm not too sure what the time was at this point. Sebastian was swaddled and lying in a cot, Jamie was in the pull out chair and I was in the bed.
At some point during the night Sebastian awoke and began to cry. Jamie attempted to soothe him and a nurse came down to the room asking what was the matter? Jamie said, "Nothing is the matter, he's just crying" and the Nurse replied, "Dear, that's not a cry. That's a scream." And alas, our passionate little boy continued to scream for the first 3 months of his life (or at least, that's our joke!)! The nurse, while in our room and after Sebastian had nursed, gave Sebastian a warm bath, swaddled him tight and placed him beside me in my bed. It was the best sleep I have ever had.
We stayed in the hospital for one more night, much longer than we had anticipated, but it was nice. Jon and Marion came to meet Sebastian and the nursing staff were wonderful. When we left on the Wednesday night it was so cold compared to how warm it was when we first went to the hospital! It was such a strange feeling going home with Sebastian without having any help! It all felt so complicated with the pee and poo charts, the nursing, the diapering etc., that I was so thankful to see the Midwives the next day when they came to check in on us. They were such a wonderful source of support.
The few days after birth were a blur. The Midwives would come daily to check in on us and I just remember remaining in bed with our little bundle and cudding between the nursings and changing. And if someone were to ask me if I would do it all again, I would. In a heart beat. Everything we went through was worth it and I can't believe it was already six years ago today that our lives changed so much for the better and we met the love of our lives. It has been an amazing adventure and I can't wait for what is yet to come.