Editors Note: Northern BC Moms is dedicated to sharing motherhood in the North. This post is contributed by Rhea. She is a Northern BC Mom Blogger based out of Fort St. John at Developing into Motherhood. If you would like to contribute your own experience of motherhood in Northern BC learn more here. You don’t need to be an amazing writer or have any blogging experience. Just a passion to share your story, we can help with the rest.
Rhea’s Birth Story
Written by Rhea, Developing into Motherhood.
It seems the mainstream idea of childbirth is horrible, traumatic, overwhelming and it’s one of those things that you love about your own experience, but don’t care to hear about others. I assumed this was the case, and that I was the anomaly, who was fascinated by birth stories and hearing all about how labour and delivery went!
Before I start, I just want to give a heads up to anyone who had a painful birth, that mine wasn’t this way, and I am one of the “annoying ones” who didn’t find it to be that painful!
But based on what I’d read or learned through conversations with people, I was prepared for the worst experience of my life and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that bad! I’ll also add that I have a fairly high pain tolerance which was extremely helpful in this situation..obviously. I had also read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth book in my last trimester which I found extremely uplifting, encouraging and straight up empowering.. There was some “hokey pokey” stories in there about women actually feeling joy and euphoria while giving birth and they craved the feeling…blah blah blah and I found those a bit odd and for sure the rarity, not the norm. But nonetheless, this book gave me hope and motivation to also have my mind in a healthy place to be excited for delivery, not nervous or anxious. I went into delivery quite confident and super excited 🙂
Looking back now, I guess you could say labour started on Saturday, April 22.
Back Story: all my family (parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles…EVERYONE) was at my cousins wedding in Edmonton for the weekend, Brook was working and I was at home bored out of my trees. I had been on maternity leave for just over 3 weeks already and had ran out of stuff to do. My house was spotless, meal prep done, no laundry- I even crochetted a baby hat, completed a thousand piece puzzle by myself, read some books and burnt through way to many episodes of “The Office”.
I spent all daybouncing on my exercise ball, working out just doing anything I could to get the baby out and keep myself from going crazy! I was 40 weeks, one day at this point and I had some mild Braxton Hicks, and things just felt “different”.
I can’t say what it was really, but I did feel the time was coming.
afternoon I started timing contractions, and they were 8 minutes apart, and all over the place. Some felt just like 20 seconds of Braxton Hicks, some lasted a minute and was just a tightening of my stomach, and so I wasn’t convinced it was contractions (and still I’m not convinced..) They weren’t painful AT ALL and nothing was regular or progressing. Same thing throughout morning and afternoon. We drove 40 minutes to gospel meeting, and the same thing was happening during the meeting. I had my phone beside me in my purse and was timing them, and they still felt the same but were about 6 minutes apart.
I made a comment to someone after that I feel like it’s happening soon and I’ve had these contractions, and she said to me “Oh you’re sure not in labour..you don’t look or aren’t acting like you’re in labour”.
Fast forward tothat night and I was crawling into bed. I typically get into bed quite a bit earlier than Brook, but this night, for whatever reason, he felt like he wanted to go to bed early, so he joined me. At , I had my first REAL, actually painful contraction that felt different than the others.
I started timing on my phone and from the first contraction to the next was 4 minutes, then the next was 3 minutes, then 2. I said to Brook “this is it. We better get to the hospital!”(remember we live about 20 minutes from there). Trying to get through the contractions, I was zero help getting packed, just standing in the boot room in my rubber boots and sweatpants while Brook ran around in a panic trying to decipher my list of last minute things to grab.
We arrived at the Fort St. John Hospital Birthing Centre at
(l my husband did not drive fast to get me there quicker, but he was actually going UNDER the speed limit… talk about rage from me).
We checked into the outpatient room at the Fort St. John Birthing Centre where I was checked and was only 4 cm. The nurse told me that I could go home and labour or I could stay at the birthing centre, and they’d check me again in an hour. She explained that some women could be at 4cm for hours, if not days!
Because we live out of town and I had a feeling things were going to progress, we opted to stay and labour at the birthing centre. THANK GOODNESS WE DID.
Because we hadn’t been admitted, I told Brook we should leave all our stuff in the vehicle so we don’t “jinx” it, and we wouldn’t bother telling my family we were in labour until it was actually happening!
Thankfully it was only me and one other lady in the birthing centre, and she came in shortly after me, so we got most of the unit to ourselves to walk the halls. I laboured for about an hour, walking the hallways, then lying on the bed, then bouncing on a peanut ball, then trying the TENS machine. Because I had severe back pain during pregnancy, I knew I would have all back labour, and that I did. In fact, the nurse didn’t even think I was having contractions because she couldn’t see or feel my stomach contracting!!
We were hooking up the TENS machine to my back while standing in the hallway leaning over the railing when I got a nasty contraction. Both Brook and the nurse were trying to squeeze my hips and told me to adjust the machine as needed.. this was ANNOYING. I was supposed to manage a contraction, not lose my mind or collapse on the floor AND try to fine tune this tiny little dial on the machine when I was shaking and sweating like a racehorse!? Nope. I ain’t doing it.
I should also mention I REALLY wanted to do this without pain meds.
I don’t see the medication as a sign of weakness or giving in because pain is SO subjective and everyone experiences it so differently. I just knew for myself, I was confident, and I wanted to see how far I could go and how much I could endure before giving in and it was just really important to me. After one contraction with the TENS machine, I knew I did not want to use that thing and just wanted some pain meds.
I asked the nurses, and she said: “do you want them now or if you can wait 10 minutes, the Dr will be here and we can check you again and see how it’s going”. Because it was only 10 minutes, I decided to wait and told myself that I didn’t want to take the pain meds if it was all going to be happening in the next few minutes anyway and I could just push through it and stick it out.
Brook and I headed back to the bed in the outpatient room.
Just as I was kneeling to get into the bed, my water broke.
All over me, Brook, my coat (with my phone in my pocket), the bed EVERYWHERE. Not even caring, however, because I had an INSANE urge to push. I can’t describe it honestly because it’s a unique sensation, true to delivering a baby only I’m sure!
Knowing I couldn’t push (the Dr or nurse weren’t there), I was panicking, feeling this pressure that needed to go somewhere.
I sent Brook to get the nurse (the other lady that came in was just in active labour, and all the nurses were tending to her). When he came running back in, I told him I needed to throw up. Now, of course, I didn’t, and I had nothing to throw up, but I sure felt the urge to get this pressure SOMEWHERE, so I began heaving and trying to take short breaths to prevent the urge to push until someone came.
The nurse came in, and she quickly checked me and said “DON’T PUSH! You are at 10cm, and we are having a baby RIGHT NOW!!” Although my body knew it, it wasn’t until she said the words that it hit me.
whooooaaaa man this is IT!!!
Now here’s the worst part… I guess there were only one of those waterproof wheelchairs and the other lady had just taken it into her room, and they didn’t have time to clean it and give it to me or something? Either way, I had to WALK.. with a BABIES head between my legs (well not actually…but it sure felt like it) probably 50ft to a room!!
I seriously walked from one end of the unit to the other, all with the urge to push, having contractions, sort of panicking and trying not to slip and wipe out with my wet socks… also it wasn’t until a few days after delivery that I realized I even must’ve been walking completely in the buff from the bottom down because I later remembered being stripped off my wet sweats and being wrapped in a bed soaker pad thing.. not too concerned about decency or my dignity at this point.
We got to the room and having a contraction I knelt on the bed trying still not to push, knowing they weren’t ready. They asked me to lie down, and I remember saying “I don’t think I can.. If I unlock my elbows, I might collapse”. It was totally untrue because as soon as I entered my conscious brain again and just thought about what I was doing, I could move just fine but it was a very weird feeling to almost not be in control of my body!
I think I had 2 or 3 more contractions where I was trying to slowly puff out breaths and NOT push until the doctor got there and then it was go time! Trying to do the math now, it seems I would’ve pushed for about 15-20 minutes, but at the time, it felt like I only pushed maybe four times and then he was there!!
Bringing him up onto my chest was a moment that will FOREVER be ingrained in my memory.
JUST before this happened, for whatever reason, I thought to take a quick glance and look at Brook. In this moment, I saw him stifle a cry/gasp, and his eyes were a bit teary. Now Brook will deny this and say he wasn’t emotional at all (because that’s who he is), BUT I will never forget that look of amazement and wonder on his face seeing that WE HAD A BABY!!
Before delivery, I always thought the moment when they announced the gender would be this “ahhhha- angels singing in the choir- world stopping” moment. But when they said “it’s a boy!”, I must not have been listening or was distracted or just zoned out for a moment because I remember a few minutes later asking if they were sure it was a boy.. the moment was certainly lost on me and not the glorious announcement I expected.
So from start to finish, the first contraction to Kaysen in my arms, was 2 hrs and 52 minutes... insanity.
I think in any normal birth, it’s a whirlwind, and it’s emotional. It’s always a crazy experience with heightened emotions, hormones, energy levels and I think it’s oh so fleeting!
I know a lot of that is our bodies natural way of letting us forget the pain, and enjoy the amazing ride of parenthood and this new perfect baby you created. But I felt that in my experience, being a short, intense wild 3 hours, to begin with, I forgot even more of the experience!
It wasn’t even a month after Kaysen was born that details seemed to escape me and I just wished for a moment that I could’ve had it videotaped for us to have documented for ourselves to watch at another point.
With my next, I still don’t think we would have a birth photographer during the labour because we want to keep it an intimate, private special family time BUT the thought has absolutely crossed my mind and I wished I could’ve been a fly on the wall for my own delivery!
Now remember how we didn’t get admitted? Or how we left our bags in the vehicle? Or remember how I was SO prepared for birth and for the baby to arrive?
Well.. It wasn’t until after he was born that they admitted me into the system, giving me a wrist band. I sent Brook out to the vehicle to get all the labour and delivery things I had packed (coconut oil + essential oils for my back pain, protein energy balls, fruit all cut up and other snacks, Gatorade ice chips..etc.) I was READY and in it for the long haul. Only to need none of it! Of course, it came in handy for our stay in the hospital, but I was for sure way overpacked!!
in the morning and I called my parents to share the news! I remember my mom saying “why didn’t you tell us you were in labour!?” And I had to tell her that I didn’t even know I was in labour and it was that fast. They had texted at , asking if there was any change and there wasn’t!
In just a few short minutes, everything did change!
Also, remember how my water broke all over us? After I gave birth and was all cleaned up, getting baby snuggles and enjoying our new life of three, I then realized I was still wearing my soaking wet socks haha! I hadn’t showered or got presentable again so it wasn’t the end of the world but I remember that being a physical reminder of how quickly everything that we used to worry about or pay attention to was suddenly unimportant with this new life to nurture and love on.
So there it is.. Not beautifully eloquently written but that’s not me!
And this was anything but a beautiful experience! It produced a beautiful miracle of course, but it was hard, fast, intense, overwhelming, incredible and just ridiculously amazing. It still feels like it gave me a bit of a high and I honestly felt like a superstar.
Motherhood is funny that way- in the same moment that you feel like a hot mess who can’t get a handle on life, you can realize the miracle of life that you produced and love like crazy, and somehow you manage to make it work and get through even the worst of days!
Is your birth just like Rhea’s or different?
Birth is such a crazy and remarkable experience. Let us know if you’d like tell your story and let us help you showcase stories of Northern Motherhood. Email your story, idea, or any questions to hello [at] northernbcmoms [dot] ca.