When I think about the births of my two sons they echo each other in many ways but in the same breath are distinctly different. I carry negative feelings and disappointments with both as things never go as planned, do they? Sometimes I feel guilty about my feelings and complaints about how each labour and delivery went, simply because, in comparison, many, many women experience far more traumatic births. And regardless of both boys being delivered happy and healthy, I still wish things were different. So, take it or leave it, here’s my birth story:
Baby Number One
With my first, I thought about getting a midwife, but honestly didn’t know much about how to go about getting one. So I saw a doctor in my doctor’s office group, that dealt with pregnancy, labour and delivery. The doctor was pleasant enough and ticked all the boxes a health care professional would, but at the time I didn’t know my rights. I didn’t know I could say no to all the tests. And ultimately, she wasn’t there when I went into labour and had my eldest son Finnigan.
My Birth Plan
Having some random doctor on maternity rotation is my first issue and reason I personally wouldn’t choose a doctor as my prenatal practitioner again in the future. The doctor on rotation didn’t know me or my birth plan and I feel because of this my plan wasn’t followed. I wanted to labour in the tub to avoid tearing, I wanted delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin and above all I wanted to do it completely drug free.
But during my first experience having a baby in hospital, I felt pressured into getting the Pitocin drip, to “move things along” which I vehemently refused. This in turn got me sent home multiple times as I wasn’t progressing quickly at first, even though the ward was deserted. I also had to gas pushed on me which made me feel like I had the spins and was going to be sick…exactly how to want to feel when pushing out a baby.
When all was said and done my labour slowly progressed from my water breaking the night before, waddling around the house finally packing my go bag I had yet to pack, to intense, close contractions after the yoga ball for hours. I had about had it when Google had the bright idea to try nipple stimulation to naturally increase the Oxytocin and move things along. I remember going from 15 minutes apart to 2 while watching Jim Carrey do SNL on DVR from the night before. All of a sudden, I was clamouring into the truck, barely able to stand a bump in the road and begging my spouse to gun it to the hospital.
At the Hospital
When we got there, I did get to labour in the tub, for about two contractions, but I was moved onto a bed shortly thereafter and told to push. It was too early in hindsight. I didn’t feel ready then, but I chalked that up to it being my first time.
Am I Doing it Right?
They brought out a birthing bar and sheet which made for a slightly better birthing position and also made me feel like I had more control, but with each push I had no validation or progress report from the doctor or nurses. Was anything happening? Was I doing it right? My eyes were squeezed shut, I couldn’t tell.
Lucky my hard labour was only a couple hours and pushing phase relatively short as well. I honestly don’t know if I would have managed loner without hard drugs. How do you women do it? The tearing was quite bad with my first. I remember the doctor cutting the cord and rushing my little Finnigan away for weight and measurements before I could even open my eyes. It’s not what I wanted. It’s not what my written birth plan entailed, that was out on the counter for all the staff to see. And then when I finally did get my skin to skin time the doctor wanted to immediately stick me up. I was not impressed to say the least and might have told him to “get his fucking hands off me”. To which he replied, “You’re bleeding”. Well no shit!! I just pushed out a 7lb 14 oz baby!
Postpartum care with a doctor and public health also leaves something to be desired. I feel the information provided to be outdated and support lacking even for a city of Prince George’s size.
The Maternity Ward
But with that said I am glad I live here and had my babies at the beautiful new maternity ward at UHNBC versus one of the older hospitals that are a mainstay in most communities in the north. My room at UHNBC was private, quiet, had a window, it’s own fridge, tv and bathroom ensuite even, as well as a bed for dad. Diapers, baby soap, q-tips and vaseline were provided, but wipes for some reason, are not.
Must Haves in Hospital
Pro tip: bring wipes! My other must haves for your hospital stay are: chapstick, a water bottle, your own robe, a labouring outfit, a headband, slippers, your favourite snacks and food (you have your own fridge remember and hospital food sucks), your playlist, phone cord and a nursing pillow (for a butt doughnut if not for actual nursing). Oh, and an outfit for baby’s trip home and of course, don’t forget the car seat! I also, highly suggest making an appointment with a certified care seat installation tech, before baby is due. Call your local fire department to make one, they usually have someone trained on duty.
Call the Midwife!
With my second, I made sure to get a midwife ASAP once I found out about my pregnancy. Make sure you book a midwife right away! They are hard to come by especially the further along you are! The first noticeable difference was the frequency and duration of prenatal appointments. I also really appreciated being able to text or email questions and get answers without having to make an appointment. Some people in my family were concerned with my choice to use a midwife versus a doctor, thinking it was risky. But my midwife in particular, had been a mat/child nurse before becoming a midwife, so I felt her expertise in the area far outweighed a GP with delivery experience. Other reasons I would highly recommend a midwife are the feeling of connection, the option for home or water births, the more holistic medical advice (depending on your midwife) and most definitely the postpartum, at home care.
My Second Pregnancy
This pregnancy was much different than my first. The only symptoms with my first were insomnia, heightened senses, slight constipation and just 2 days of swollen feet right at the end. Although I had similar symptoms with number 2, I also got the diagnosis of gestational diabetes (multiple needle pokes a day and attempting to diet during pregnancy were the worst part), had pregnancy pain and severe anemia. So much so that I would have trouble breathing while standing and my arms would go numb at my sides. I also got so huge in front with my second that I could have sworn it was going to be a girl. It was just so different than my first pregnancy had been. Both my spouse and I had found out the gender with our first, and he did with the second as well, but I wanted to surprise at least once in my life. So, boy was I shocked when out came Finnigan Forrest’s little brother Lachlann Gunnar.
Labour and Delivery
Lachlann’s labour and delivery was similar in duration, but my water did not break on its own this time. But not for lack of trying. I spent the month leading up to his birth moving and unpacking, purging, cleaning and getting ready for him. My midwife and I decided to go the castor oil milkshake route when I was 2 days overdue as he was measuring quite large in my weekly ultrasounds (due to the GD). Some of my mom group warned against the castor oil cocktail, saying I’d be in labour “shitting my brains out”. So I lowered the dose and took it in multiple doses over a longer period of time than suggested. This made for a very gentle and gradual start to labour and not much bathroom time. Pro tip: his is a great option to get it out beforehand so you don’t poop during delivery. I laboured at home, watching Masterchef, until I couldn’t take it anymore and then we went to the hospital and called the midwife to meet us there.
Water Birth Dreams
I had desperately wanted an at home water birth with my second. It was all planned out and everything, but my rogue midwife couldn’t get an OB or second midwife to attend (required for home births). It was deemed too risky because of the GD and size of the baby. So, I had settled for a water birth at the hospital instead.
When we arrived at the hospital someone had just taken the water birthing room. I. WAS. SO. ANGRY. But also, so far into hard labour that I could hardly crawl up onto the hospital bed at that point. February is usually a busy baby month due to all the May long conceptions. But at this point UHNBC was servicing several outlying communities as well. There were 5 babies born on the same day as Lachlann and 6 the next. The hospital staff were asking me to leave a mere 8 hours after giving birth!
Drug Free LDR
It was all I could to do huff on my essential oils and listen to my playlist through the intense contractions. And lay still praying for death in between. My water broke with one of the last contractions and it’s my belief that having a midwife, that let my body do it’s thing, is why baby number 2 basically came out without any pushing on my part. The contractions did it all. And I had zero tearing pushing out a 10 pounder.
With my story I want to encourage mammas to share their births as well, the good with the bad alike. New moms and/or moms who’ve had traumatic birth experiences need to hear some good too. So here it is. They’re not all horror stories! And although your birth may not be perfect and may not go as planned, my hope is that you get to the same result. A happy healthy baby and momma. I also want to let those that may harbour resentment, negativity or birth trauma, that it’s okay to feel all the feels. Just don’t push it down, get it out! Talk to your midwife, doula, doctor, counsellor, public health nurse, your mom or a friend. Cause although women have been doing this for thousands of years, YOU have not and YOU matter <3
If you’d like to share your story with us please email firstname.lastname@example.org