I have been back and forth for weeks now on how to write this post. Like most women, my labour and delivery did not go according to “plan”. I know, I know. I have read it a million times: DO NOT have a birth plan. So honestly, I didn’t have one. I had some mental ideas for what I expected, but I had nothing written down and was prepared to go with the flow and bring this baby into the world in whatever way I needed to. Looking back, nothing could have prepared me for how “off plan” things actually went.
I have been hesitating to write this story because honestly after the experience I was feeling a little bitter. I wanted to write this when my hormones had calmed down and when I could appreciate the experience for who it brought me instead of looking at it as a situation where I was a victim. (Hormones make you feel pretty cooky after labour.)
Well, it’s just over 6 weeks later, and finally I feel like putting it all down and sharing our labour and delivery story. Here it goes….My apologies for the delay. Aside from wanting to take some time to deal with the emotions that come with giving birth, I also wanted to take some time “off” to get to know our baby and not rush back into blogging. Thanks so much for staying with me :) I’m back for good!
NOTE: this post is incredibly long. If you’re not into reading about gory birth details feel free to skim to the photos :)
Other NOTE: There are so many different opinions on pregnancy, labour and birth. All I ask is that if you disagree with any choices I made or have anything to say that is not supportive or encouraging then please don’t comment. Everyone’s situation is so unique and different, and while my situation couldn’t have been farther from what I wanted, I look back now and feel proud of all I went through and stand by every decision I made.
Thursday August 15th – I had a midwife appointment, and everything was looking and sounding good. I knew my due date was approaching quickly, but something told me I would go over and I was okay with that. When my midwife was feeling my belly for the position of the baby she said I was having braxton hicks contractions and my belly was too hard to feel the baby. We needed to wait a couple more minutes. As she was saying this I got a strong ache in my back. She said “Your belly will feel like this when you are in labour except there will be pain or cramping too.” I just wrote the back pain off and waited the contraction out. We felt for the baby and everything felt good and normal. Then we left. I dropped my husband off at work after our appointment and went to grab some lunch and do some shopping. While I was shopping the back cramps continued. They were different than the usual “period cramps” that I had been feeling throughout my pregnancy but still not super strong. I was able to walk and talk and shop through them, but I knew something was different. They were about 20 minutes apart and stayed that way for the rest of the evening. That night I couldn’t sleep. I would wake up with each contraction, not in a ton of pain, but uncomfortable for sure. The pain was all in my low back and bum at this point.
Friday August 16th – After a brutal night’s sleep I tried to go about my normal day but nothing had changed in the contraction/pain area. The pain was now coming about every 15 minutes apart and was accompanied by a super hard belly. Eventually around 5pm I called my midwife to ask her about my sleeping situation and if there was anything safe that I could do that would help me sleep. I knew it wasn’t “time” but I also knew that if there was a chance I could have a baby in the next couple of days that I needed sleep. She told me to take 2 gravol and 2 tylenol and try to sleep through the night. I hate taking gravol because I feel like a zombie the day after I take it, but I knew I needed rest. Bedtime came, and I was still feeling the pain. They were coming about every 15 minutes, so I happily took the pills. To my surprise, I fell asleep and stayed asleep until about 4:30am (I assume that’s when the gravol wore off). After 4:30 I was up again every 15 minutes until I woke up for good. Booo
Saturday August 17th – My mom arrived from 5 hours away. I had been talking to her about what I was feeling and she thought it would be a good idea to come down just in case. Call it mother’s intuition, but she says she knew it was time. I, on the other hand, was in complete denial. I literally thought she was going to hang out for a week with no baby and then need to go back home and miss the birth. Zach, mom and I spent the day walking around Pawlooza (it’s like this outdoor festival for dog owners and dogs – so fun) with our dog and seeing if we could get things going. After coming home from the festival, things picked up. We started timing contractions and they were coming exactly 10 minutes apart and getting strong enough that I could no longer walk through them. I found I needed to lean against something and focus. My mom was making me freezer meals and I was still in denial. I had heard so many stories about this happening and then everything just stopping, so I think I was trying to not get my hopes up. Around 6:30 I had a particularly painful contraction. This one stopped me in my tracks. I had my mom push on my low back to ease the pain. It was brutal. After that contraction I went to the washroom and found that I had lost my mucus plug (not as gross as it sounds). I think this is when I started to think that this was actually happening and that Baby Havens would be here soon! By Saturday night, every contraction felt like the really bad one. They were around 7 minutes apart now and I was experiencing incredible pain like a knife in the back and the bum. I think I had about 4 or 5 baths that night. It was nothing like how I expected contractions to feel like. I did the gravol/tylenol thing again and tried to sleep. This time it didn’t work at all. Up all night every 7 minutes. Most contractions I would wake Zach up and have him push on my lower back as hard as he could. This night was bad. I knew I was getting exhausted and wouldn’t be able to get through labour after not sleeping for 3 nights in a row.
My mom took this photo as my “last belly shot.” HUGE right!?
Sunday August 18th – I called my midwife again and updated her. I told her about my night and she agreed that although I wasn’t in active labour yet that I couldn’t keep this whole no sleep thing up. She came to my house around noon to check me and see if I was progressing at all. She prepared me that most women progress really slow and if I wasn’t dilated at all that that was completely normal. I prepared for that, but to our surprise I was 2 almost 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. She seemed surprised by this and told me she thought we would have a baby by tonight. She also did a sweep at this time to try to get things moving so that I wouldn’t have to go another night with zero sleep. After my midwife left, things continued to pick up. Contractions were coming 5 minutes apart and were incredibly painful. I had a bath an hour and tried to rest as much as possible. My mom was timing. I wanted to stay at home as long as I could. I don’t love the hospital and felt comfortable in my own space. By 10 pm I thought it might be time to go to the hospital. The pain was becoming unmanageable for me. No bath or counter pressure could help me. I could no longer talk through my contractions and was feeling exhausted. I called my midwife (a new one had come on-call at this point). She came to the house and checked me again, she said I was at 3-4cm. This to me was kinda bad news. These contractions felt so strong, and to think they only progressed me 1 cm was hard. I couldn’t imagine doing another 6 cm like this. I felt like I would be in labour another 4 days. She said we could go to the hospital or I could continue to labour at home. She didn’t think it was time yet so I agreed to stay home and see how it went. She left, and an hour later we called her back and told her to meet us at the hospitall. Honestly, I don’t know if her being “all up in there” made things happen but HOLY CRAP, those minutes were the most intense thing I have ever experienced. The pain was sharp and still in my back and bum. It made me want to scream. I have seen plenty of natural childbirth videos and none of them seemed like this. I really have an incredible pain tolerance but this was like body splitting in half pain. The drive to the hospital was the most painful 10 minutes of my life. My husband was speeding and a police car began to follow us, my mom put on the 4 ways and when we came to the red light he rolled down his window to see why we were blatantly speeding. My mom explained that I was in labour and he put his lights on and let us run the red. Police escort, not bad. :)
This is us waiting for the epidural. I’m trying super hard to look pain-free. haha
From here things got really sloooww. As soon as we got there I was begging for the epidural. I was 5cm dilated and 100% effaced. Half way there, or so I thought. The epidural was placed and all the IV’s were in. None of this is what I wanted but at this point I was desperate for rest. I needed energy to push this baby out and all I could think about was sleeping. It was 2 am and Zach, mom and I tried to get some sleep. I could barely sleep because I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to meet my baby. 3 hours later (5am) and my midwife checks me again. At this point I’m expecting her to tell me I’m 7 cm dilated and that I’ll be ready to push in no time. Instead she tells me I’m still 5cm dilated. So no change. She decides to break my water to get things moving along. After my water is broken she feels for the baby and tells me that my baby is facing up and that it will need to change positions before it can be delivered. They put me in a weird side lying position to try to get the baby to turn. Water broken, we wait until about 1pm and check me again. Ready for this?? 6 cm!!! Honestly?! That’s one centimetre in 8 hours! Clearly things were not going as everyone thought they would. I was frustrated and exhausted. The epidural was making my have the shakes and my jaw was in tremendous pain from chattering for almost a day. We still had the option of starting me on Pitocin, but this had been something I desperately wanted to avoid. At this point though, it felt like my only choice. My contractions were not getting any stronger or any closer together, and with my water broken, the baby’s head was now pushing up against a 6cm opening. I agreed to a super low dose to see if it affected me at all. I had 4 cm to go and if it could even kick start things a little I was willing to try it. They started the Pitocin and about an hour later I got a fever. A bad fever. They were checking my temperature every 5 minutes and with every check it was higher. Then my baby’s heart rate spiked and stayed there. My contractions actually got shorter and less intense. (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!) I whispered to Zach “this is my worst nightmare.” I knew where this was going. I told Zach that under no circumstances was I having a C section. I was desperate to “deliver” my baby. My fever was incredibly high so my midwife went to get an OB.
The OB came in, and she was incredible and funny, but I was so zoned out. I just laid there crying waiting for her to tell me what I already knew. She checked around a bit and told me that it felt like a big baby and that it was still face up and tilted. She then sat on my bed and told me that I had an infection. Chorioamnionitis. It’s an inflammation of the fetal membranes due to a bacterial infection. It typically results from bacteria ascending into the uterus and is most often associated with prolonged labor. Prolonged labour is right! At this point I hated my body. I was so mad and confused.I felt like a failure. I asked the OB how I got this infection. My biggest fear at this point was that I caused this or that I had it before and could have treated and prevented this whole thing. I thought that maybe the epidural or breaking my water caused the infection. Thankfully she assured me that it is a spontaneous infection that I literally got in the last few hours. It’s very rare and occurs in less than 2% of all births.
I held Zach’s hand and he tried to act super cool and excited and get me pumped to meet our baby. I was devastated and exhausted. Hot tears ran down my face as the OB told me we didn’t have much time to get the baby out and that a C section in the next 10 minutes was our only choice. I was so worried for our baby and just nodded and tried to zone out and not let my exhaustion and fear overwhelm me. I prayed in my head that the surgery would go smoothly. I prayed that our baby would be safe. I kept looking at the monitor and the baby’s heart rate was still extremely high. My mom was there and I could tell she was upset. She knew how scared I was and how I desperately wanted to do this the other way. I said goodbye to mom and they wheeled me down the hall to the operating room.
Zach getting stoked to meet our baby.
This room was scary. They moved me to a table in the middle of the room that was under the brightest lights I’ve ever seen. There were like 15 doctors in the room. Each of them immediately got to work on something. One was upping my epidural, one putting monitors on my chest, they changed my gown and started sterilizing my belly. I heard my OB talking everyone through the procedure and explaining why I was there. At this point Zach was out of the room getting changed. I closed my eyes and prayed so much. My midwife was with me which was incredible. She kept me calm and distracted while I waited for Zach. They started the surgery and I had a little freak out because they hadn’t let Zach in yet but about 3 minutes after they started he was by my side. I don’t remember much between Zach getting there and our baby coming out. It felt like an hour but it was about 8 minutes.
I felt a ton of pressure and doctors pushing on my belly to push the baby down and out. At one point it felt like my entire body turned inside out and I knew our baby was here. I immediately stopped crying and just looked around the little curtain they had blocking me from seeing the surgery. They said they would show us the baby (at this point we didn’t know the sex) and then our baby would have to go to a different room due to the infection. To my left I saw him…. This was the greatest moment of my entire life. The doctor held him and let Zach proudly announce “it’s a boy!” I can still see him exactly how he was at that moment. I reached out my hand towards him even though I knew I couldn’t touch him. It was so reflexive. I cried harder than I ever have in my life. I literally couldn’t breathe. All the emotion and exhaustion built up over the last 4 days came flooding out all at once. He, on the other hand, didn’t cry in the operating room which scared me but, shortly after he left the room we could hear a baby screaming down the hall and we knew it was him. My incredible midwife followed our son to the other room and captured his first photos!
Dexter Zachary Havens / born August 19th, 2013 at 2:32pm / 8lb 6oz / 51cm long
I was crying so hard after seeing him that the doctor actually had to ask me to stop crying because they couldn’t stitch me up. They were laughing at me. I calmed down and took a second to assess what just happened. Zach was looking down at me with tears in his eyes and I heard him say “Dexter”. I had a son. A boy. I KNEW it was a boy!
Zach left and they finished the surgery and after what felt like forever brought me my son in the operating room. I held him for the first time and my heart exploded. He was puffy and gooey and the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I stared at him and tears streamed down my face. Zach joined us and we were wheeled to the recovery room.
It is all such a blur. I wish I could watch the whole situation again as an outsider. It was the scariest moment of my entire life and the most beautiful.
In the recovery room we took some more pictures and Dexter nursed (like a boss) for the first time. I was deliriously happy. I have never had such energy in my life. I have also never been so starving. Laying there with my son in my arms and my husband at the side of my bed is one of my favourite moments of my entire life.
Was my labour and delivery what I wanted? NO! Do I still hate it? Yeah, kinda. But, it brought me my son. My perfect healthy son and I would do it 1000 more times to have him in my life. I would do it 1000 more times to have him even smile at me.
At the end of it all, my midwife said to me, “Most women don’t get the labour/delivery they want, they get the labour/delivery they need.” It kinda hit me. I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. I also believe that God is in control of these things and I trust Him. I trust that for whatever reason, this is the birth story that I needed. This was exactly what was going to happen from the start and God had his hand on us and is trying to teach me something through it. I still struggle some days. I still long to have pushed him out but I have decided that I absoutely “delivered” my baby. It might not be the traditional way but my body still nurtured him and brought him here.
Thank you for reading and for caring at all about my story. We are doing well and can’t wait to post more updates!