Originally posted to tumblr on July 5, 2017.
One year ago today, Nile joined our family. I’m starting this story with… a bike ride to the park. The morning before Nile was born, my son Ari and I were joining some friends for a swim at the wading pool in our neighbourhood. My friends were laughing because here I was, with my 37+ week belly, riding my bike. I also happen to have a picture of this since Alycia thought it was so funny.
I had no idea how soon I’d be holding my baby; in fact, I was telling other people at the pool, “Oh yeah, I’ve got at least another week…” WRONG. That night, after… ahem, taking care of some important business (yes, between that and the bike ride, I pretty much was telling my body “Let’s go!” while my brain was thinking otherwise)… and then sleeping for a few hours, I woke up around 3 am feeling some tightening. I went into the bath for a little while (with my first birth, being in the water had slowed things down for me) to see if the feeling would let up. It stayed consistent, so after about an hour we decided it was time to get ready for the trip to Regina, where we planned to give birth at a friend’s home.
We called Cole’s mum to come over and stay at our house with Ari, and I let Alycia (good friend + fellow doula) know what was going on so she could get ready too. I had everything we needed packed in labeled tubs in my car. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I was ready to have this baby on the road if I needed to. We decided at the last minute to take Cole’s truck, though I don’t remember why now. But everything being in tubs made it easy to transfer.
The two hour drive wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I think it was easier because we went before I got settled into a rhythm at home. I remember seeing a rainbow and watching the sun rise and thinking it was going to be a good day. I also enjoyed thinking of what Bob Ross would be saying about the happy little scuds of clouds (the Joy of Painting had just been released on Netflix lol). I stayed focused on keeping my mind and body open, and welcoming all the sensations of labour, rather than fighting to stay on top of them as I had last time. All in all, not a terrible time.
We had decided to go through Weyburn, just in case baby came fast and we felt we needed to stop at a hospital. All was well though, so as we passed through, I decided to call my midwife, Tracey, just to let her know we’d probably be seeing her later that day. However, Tracey was just getting home from another woman’s birth, so we knew right then and there it was unlikely she’d be able to come to mine. She was disappointed, and as she said, we weren’t even on her radar for that week (I was 37+5 that day). She said she’d let the office know I was in labour though.
It was around 7 when we arrived at our friends’ house. We had a few things there already so it was quick to set up all we needed. I think I ran a bath almost immediately in the big jet tub downstairs and Amanda brought me a bowl of the best blueberries I’ve ever eaten (hmm… at a year old, Nile seems to think he can survive off of blueberries alone – coincidence?). I stayed in there a while, Cole with me constantly, and Alycia and Amanda here and there. The water felt nice, but not as much as I remembered from the first time. I felt a little agitated, like I needed to move more, and finally realized what I really wanted was to go outside in the sun and the grass.
I felt much better out in the back yard, and I think that’s when things started to pick up. I laid down on my side for a little bit when I first got out there, but it wasn’t long before I had to get up. Someone brought down a patio chair for me to lean over, and that was how I stayed during a contraction, leaning back onto Cole during rests. I concentrated on keeping my vocalizations nice and low, like a deep ‘oooooooom’. Alycia reminded me to stay low when things were getting more difficult.
By now, the contractions were much more intense. In hindsight, this was definitely transition. I honestly wouldn’t describe them as painful though. Not pleasant and definitely not something I want to do every day, but I was not in pain. Cole gave me a good, hard hip squeeze every time one started picking up, and it was AMAZING. I told Cole later his arms must be like jello now cause he had to hold those squeezes for so long, but he said he liked having something that he could do to actually help.
In my labour brain, I eventually realized it was almost time, so I wanted someone to call the midwives to come. Cole called the midwives’ urgent number, which routes through the hospital… and was told by a clueless woman that there aren’t midwives in Regina. This was the only point I remember snapping at anybody. I think Alycia ended up calling Tracey again, even though we knew she couldn’t come. Tracey sorted things out and told us that Lindsay and Teegan were available, but already at the hospital with other clients. And judging by the sounds she was hearing me make, we had a couple choices: call the ambulance to come get us, or drive to the hospital now if we thought we could make it.
I had known it was a very real possibility to give birth at the hospital, so I made the lightning decision and we were off. I wasn’t very attached to the idea of home birth this time; my priority with this birth was a trusted birth attendant. The only disappointing thing was that Amanda couldn’t come with us – she needed to stay home with her own baby daughter. She had been with me the first time, when I gave birth at home in 2014, so I was hoping she’d be there this time too. But that’s birth! There’s always something you don’t expect!
The drive to the General was much harder, though thankfully much shorter. It was now that I finally used my last trick – horse lips! This was the thing I had done for hours with Ari, blowing my breath out so fast my lips flapped. I was saving it this time, avoiding using it till I absolutely needed to try something else, just so I would know in the back of my mind that I had something left for when things got tough. As difficult as this drive was, I still remember telling Cole not to speed lol.
At the last minute, Alycia had suddenly decided to drive with us instead of taking her own vehicle to the hospital. And thank goodness for that flash of intuition, because when we got there, the emergency lot was full and the line for parking was about 10 cars long. She parked the truck for us while we went in to be admitted. Even with the paperwork done beforehand, it took way too long answering the questions. I felt my mucous plug coming out into my yoga pants. It had been important to me to be able to walk up to the labour ward, but I was past caring. A man offered Cole the wheelchair he was USING in the waiting room, and someone else came along with us to clear a path to the elevator. It was so kind of both of these people to do that. I do remember thinking something like ‘It’s not an emergency, I’m just having a baby’ though lol.
It was the greatest feeling seeing Lindsay and Teegan waiting in the hall for us when we got upstairs. I felt like I was in a safe place again. Our labour room was the one I had gone to my last doula birth in, so even that was familiar. Lindsay suggested I go to the bathroom, so I went in and sat. I heard Alycia come into the room around this time. Suddenly, a huge KSSSSSSSHHH startled me. There went my waters releasing, announcing that baby was getting ready to come. I remember saying “My water…” and Cole told Alycia to get my water bottle, and I was like “No – my WATERS”, before Lindsay caught on.
It seemed to me like everyone scurried to activity – they helped me get on the bed, where the assisting nurse put the fetal monitor around my belly. I ended up on all fours, as I had been back in the yard, and got my first (and only) vaginal check – 10 centimeters with a tiny lip, which Lindsay pushed over.
This part is blurry to me. I remember Cole standing near my head. We had been tentatively planning that if I was all fours, Cole would help catch the baby, but he told me later he felt more useful just staying there and talking to me and giving me cool cloths for my face. I remember giving a few good pushes, maybe through 2 or 3 contractions, and FEELING EVERYTHING as Nile descended. Again, this didn’t hurt, but I felt it all and it was amazing! Ari had been a slow descent, so this was a completely new sensation. I felt so strong and capable.
I think the reason this is blurry for me is partly because it was so fast (looking back through the records I got from the midwives, our total hospital time was 16 minutes) and partly because that’s nature’s way – creating a magnificent blend of hormones that takes you out of your thinking mind into a transcendent state.
I remember seeing Nile’s face, and his eyes were so wide and alert, and looking at me. Everything else was just things happening around this now. He was beautiful.
We tried nursing, and he latched right away, which was a huge blessing since we’d had a tough experience with Ari. We also discovered Nile had a true knot in his cord – not too surprising considering the extreme sports he favoured while still in my womb. Cole cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing and we felt it was time to separate it.
We stayed this way for about an hour before moving to the maternity ward (I remember one nurse being surprised: “You’re done already?”). Other people came and went: Alycia went home to her family, and Tracey visited us. We had a nice little cocoon in our room. My initial plan if I went to the hospital was to check out right after the birth, but we decided to stay overnight since we were away from our own house anyways. It was nice to have just this one day to get to know Nile before we truly stepped into our new life as a family of four.
I felt amazing after Nile’s birth. So awake and invigorated – completely the opposite of the last time. The time may be a factor (7 hours rather than 22), but I think my own personal preparation played a big part in how I felt about it too. And Nile was so different. It was hard for me to imagine before that how any baby could be different from Ari, but he was. Not just in looks, but the way he acted and was so much more awake from the start. Nile taught me how unique each pregnancy, birth, and baby really is.
So here’s to my baby, who’s not really a baby anymore. Happy first birthday Nile! I wonder what another year of reflection and life with you will bring to this story.