Monday, February 8, 2010

Journey to Motherhood: Part 1

Once I was married people started asking when we would have children. I knew I didn’t want to have kids right away, I was only 21, but knew I wanted to be a mother at some point. I’m not sure when I came up with the “perfect age” to have children but at some point I decided that age would be between 25-30 (for me). By the time I was 23 or 24 I started to get baby fever every once in awhile. Perhaps it was because I knew more pregnant women or mothers. My cousin had a baby; my co-workers had kids or were pregnant. My body was ready. It was telling me. Still, my brain wasn’t really ready for that concept yet.

A few months before I turned 25, I went off of the birth control pill. I didn’t really love that form of birth control but it worked and I didn’t have any weird side effects. I knew though, that once I stopped taking it, I wouldn’t use it again. So once I stopped taking the pill I waited for my menstrual cycle to regulate. I had read on-line that you should wait 3 months after taking the pill before trying to conceive, so that you can have an accurate due date. I waited and waited. It took me 60 days before I got a period. This was seriously taking forever!! I wasn’t patient enough to wait until I had a few regular cycles. We started trying to conceive after that first period, I believe it was late may/early June 2006.

June 2006 was a crazy month. I had been working at a homeless shelter for over 4 years and was feeling really burnt out. All of a sudden it seemed I had no patience for the people I was working with. For the previous 3 years I had worked the afternoon shift and loved it. But I moved to the day shift in order to spend more time with my husband at home in the evenings. I found the difference between shifts huge! The afternoon shift was really laid back and easy going. The day shift felt much more rigid - black and white - institutional. I honestly felt like a prison guard on that shift! I had worked at the shelter for 4 years and wasn’t used to having to harp on the homeless over little things like sleeping on the floor. Anyway, I regress!

I started to feel burnt out. I talked to my boss about changing positions. I told her I had to get off of the street level work. I offered to scrub toilets at the shelter doing maintenance. She just laughed at me and said I’d be more useful doing counseling. She said she would try to find me a position. A couple weeks went by. I continued to resent my position.

I remember breaking down at the beginning of a shift one day and just crying. Crying in front of the homeless clients, in the bathroom, in front of the other staff. I got sent home that day. Administration gave me a few days of “stress leave”.

I took a pregnancy test either right before this day or right after. It had been about a month since my last period. However, since we didn’t wait to try conceiving before my period was regular, I wasn’t exactly sure when my period was due. I took the test. It was negative. I knew I wasn’t pregnant.

I decided to go on a spiritual retreat at a local retreat centre to talk to God about what was going on with me. I rented a tiny tree house cabin away from the centre. All it had was a small bed, a desk and chair. I spent a day and a night out there, just praying about life. My concerns were mostly about work. I didn’t know what to do. I found the retreat really helpful and loved spending that time with God – giving him my full attention – something I wish I could do more often (and still do). I left the centre feeling much better about life.

I applied for a receptionist position at my church and was offered the job. I was so excited that they offered it to me but the pay didn’t compare to the shelter and the commute would be long. I decided to decline the job because I still had hope that my boss would offer me a counseling position.

I went back to work and hoped to hear from my boss. A couple of my friends asked if I might be pregnant but I was convinced I wasn’t because of the earlier test. My period still hadn’t returned though – not that weird considering the last one but I decided to test again just in case. It was the morning of July 2nd. It came back positive.

My Journey To Motherhood

As Bitta lay beside me in bed this morning I was thinking about all the things I would have liked to include in my birth story. And then it just kept going back further and futher. So I have decided that I will blog my journey to motherhood - when I get spare moments here and there.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My buddies

Today Stinx, Bitta and I went and hung out with the grandparents and Anti-Kels. As I was driving home I started to think about my pals from work. I quit at the end of October. So I guess its been about 3.5 months since I was at the Drop In. Now 3.5 months doesn't seem that long but to me it feels like ages. I hate being away from the shelter for more than a couple months at a time. So much happens there in just a week. When months go by a lot happens. I know the next time I chat with a staff member they'll be telling me so and so passed away. Thats what breaks my heart. I hate hearing about the deaths. It bothers me even more than I never make it to their funerals because I simply don't hear about them.

Obviosusly I don't want to go back to work right now. I guess I'm just saying that I miss my friends down there and I'm wondering how they're all doing. Some of my homeless friends have emails and cell phones.. perhaps I will just have to make more effort in keeping in touch.

And on a totally different topic.. I forgot to add in my birth story about my meal before labour started. The night I went to the hospital with Stinx, Dad and I went to the east Indian restuarant Tiffin. Although my labour didn't start and I was only going to the hospital to get checked, the Tiffin Meal was my last meal outside of the hospital before Stinx was born. The night before I had Bitta I picked up some Tiffin and brought it home for us to eat. That was before I shoveled the walk... Isn't that weird? Tiffin is closely associated with my kids births. Bizzare.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Ok! Here it is. This is the unedited version... I figure I'll post it now in case I never get around to working on it again :) There is a lot I would love to share about my c-birth, my pregnancy and my journey towards a VBAC but for now it's just the birth.

I never had a Braxton hick’s contraction. In the week leading to the birth I had some mild cramping but nothing I was convinced was a Braxton hick. At my 39 week appointment the Dr rimmed my cervix. At my 40 week appointment she rimmed me again.

On Wednesday the 23rd I felt a little cabin feverish. My son Joel and I had been hanging out at home the past few days. I called my cousin Alisha to come over with her boys so the kids could all play. The boys played and we chatted. I lost some of my mucus plug throughout the day. In the evening I shoveled the walk (I had done this a few times in the week). I went to bed at 10pm. I woke up at 11am with a contraction. I felt the urgent need to go to the bathroom. I went back to bed and slept until 11:3o when I had the next contraction. At this point I decided to call my doula (Tracey stein) to let her know I was having some contractions. She told me to go back to bed and try to sleep. I laid in bed for awhile but couldn’t sleep. It seemed I was just waiting for the next contraction – not in fear, but excitement. I was so thrilled that my baby was coming on her own. I also called my mom to let her know things were starting. I don’t think she really believed me. I was hoping she’d want to come over at that point because it wasn’t too late yet. But she said to just call her when I needed her to come.

The contractions just started coming faster and faster. 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes. Between 1am-2am they had become 7-8 minutes apart. I called the doula to let her know.

By 3 or 4am the contractions were getting stronger. With almost every contraction I really felt like I needed to be on the toilet. It was my safe place! I called the doula again when I was about 5 minutes apart. She told me to try having a bath and see what happened. She said that if the labor slowed down we still had lots of time but if things picked up then we were in real labor.
I loved the bath. I can totally see why someone would want a water birth. Had I been able to, I would have stayed in there!! While in the bath the contractions slowed down a bit but once I got out they were coming every 4 minutes. We had called my mom to come over and watch Joel.
When getting out of the bath Joel woke up. He seemed really concerned about why mom was moaning! I told him I wasn’t feeling good. Myk tried to get Joel back to sleep but every time he’d almost be asleep I’d have another contraction and wake him up.

I talked to the doula and told her I wanted to go to the hospital now. When I told my mom she seemed worried. She said she didn’t want me going too soon. I agreed that I didn’t want to go too early but really felt that I needed to go at the point (and besides I was keeping Joel up). Most doctors recommend 1st time mothers to go to the hospital at 5-7 min apart contractions. Most of Doctors told me to come in when my contractions were 7 minutes apart. One doctor even suggested I come in when they were 10 minutes apart (I knew that wouldn’t be happening!). So at 4 minutes apart I felt I had stayed home long enough.

At this point I was getting irritable with both my mom and myk.

Driving in the car was not fun. We pulled into the parking lot and I waited for the next contraction before attempting to get to labor and delivery. As soon as I got to the L&D desk I had a contraction. Someone asked me a question but I couldn’t answer. I just wondered why they bothered trying to talk to me!

We got into triage very quickly. It seemed to be pretty quiet compared to the time I went with Joel. They checked me and I was 3-4 cm dilated, paper thin and fully effaced, and +2 station. They said the baby’s head was super low. All good news! Because I was having a VBAC I had to have the fetal heart monitor on throughout the labor. This is the fastest way the Dr’s and nurses can detect the possibility of a uterine rupture (A very rare occurrence, Less than 1% chance). They also want VBAC’ing mothers to be hooked up to IV. So I had the monitor put on and the IV put in and I was literally attached to them the entire time. Amazingly, I wasn’t bothered or restricted by them. My doula did a great job of making it seem as though I wasn’t attached to a machine at all.

When we got into the birthing room the staff was going through a shift change. The current nurse introduced herself and laid out some “rules”. I immediately didn’t feel comfortable around her. I asked how long she would be on shift and she said “20 minutes”. I felt relieved knowing that. I likely would have requested a new nurse. I wanted someone I would be comfortable with. The new nurse came on shift and introduced herself (Kendra). She was 34 weeks pregnant and I felt like she could “sympathize” with me a bit. She really understood and tried to accommodate me as much as possible.

The doctor on shift was one of my favorite doctors from the clinic. I was a little bummed when she told me she’d be off in an hour. She was very supportive of my VBAC though and was pretty much preaching to the choir when she told me I’d need to be up and about in labor, telling me to be on the ball etc.

The next doctor on shift was also really supportive and I felt comfortable with her. Like most doctors she wasn’t around much, just came in to check on me every once in awhile.
It’s hard for me to think of time in labor. I know we were in the birthing room by 7am but after that I lost track of time. I lost track of how often the contractions were coming. The only way I can describe what I was experiencing is to say I was “in the zone”. Perhaps I was in “labourland”.

I remember my doula suggesting that I start out on the birthing ball. I am not sure how long I sat on it for.. I do remember the great counter pressure my doula provided on my lower back. It was so awesome to have that physical support. My doula truly knew how to soothe me. I then labored for awhile standing and lunging.

I remember next I wanted to sit on the toilet. Because baby’s head was so low, I continued to feel the need to sit on the toilet. I just felt the most comfortable there. The nurse was so helpful; she literally pushed the monitor machine all the way to the toilet so I could stay there as long as I wanted. After laboring on the toilet for some time I moved back to the bed so I could labor on my hands and knees, (kind of resting my top half on the head of the bed). In this position I could hardly control my body’s urge to push. I had felt that urge a bit on the toilet but it was stronger now.

I stood up for awhile but then went back to my comfort zone – the toilet. LOL.

I know that the next time the doctor came in she told me I was doing great and wanted to know if I wanted checked. I wasn’t sure. In some way I wanted to know how much progress I made, but at the same time I didn’t want to be disappointed if I hadn’t dilated much. I ended up choosing to be checked. Good thing! I was 8 cm dilated and that gave me a lot of encouragement. I actually broke out in tears – I was so elated. I was so happy to have made it even that far along!

They told me I had a cervical lip and the doula started me in positions to help with it. Hands and knees, lying on my side.

Since I lost track of time I am not exactly sure when my water broke. I figure it was between 8-10cm. I was on the bed on my knees and the top of my body resting on the head of the bed. Myk and the doula were beside me. All of sudden in the midst of a contraction we heard a loud pop and gush. It was so forceful it shocked all 3 of us. That was another exciting moment for me!

The next thing I remember is that I was fully dilated. It was about 10am. Time to start helping my body with that uncontrollable need to push! Everyone was open to me trying to push in positions I wanted to try out. We started out with the squat bar. I didn’t really like that position and tried going on my hands and knees again, with my top half leaning on the head of the bed. I figured that since I had such uncontrollable urges to push earlier in that position, it might work well. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to help. I honestly think that at that point I didn’t realize just how hard I needed to push! The doctor suggested we try with me sitting up on the bed with my husband/doula/nurse holding up my legs. Prior to labor this was the position I really didn’t want to end up in. The only reason being that I felt women only pushed this way because it was convenient for the doctor. As I learned however, this position really helped me push. Having my support people helping me I finally realized just how hard I needed to push my baby out. There were several times during pushing when everyone kept commenting on the baby’s head. “Oh we see the head! She’s right there!” etc. Everyone kept talking about her long brown hair. I couldn’t believe it! My son was born with hardly any hair and it was blonde. I had always imagined he’d have dark brown hair like his parents. I thought it was so cool this baby had hair! They told me to reach down and feel her hair. I did! At some point a huge mirror was brought in during pushing. I think they wanted to show me just how close I was to meeting my baby. They told me to look in the mirror. I could see her head of dark hair. All I needed was one look though! During the next push someone told me to look in the mirror and but I really didn’t want to... Honestly, pushing took so much energy, my eyes were sealed shut. I think I just said “no way!”.

At 10:54 am I pushed our baby girl out. She was placed directly on my chest! I was so happy to finally meet her and loved being able to snuggle with her. Mike was able to cut her chord. During pushing I got 2 tears, a minor 1st degree tear and a tiny little one. While the doctor stitched me back up I was able to continue holding my baby girl. I was so happy with how the birth went and that she was healthy. I believe at this point I just kept crying tears of joy and saying “I did it!”.
After my c-birth I didn’t get a chance to see my son for quite awhile (I got to see him for a moment right after birth but then had to wait over an hour) I was so happy to be able to hold my baby girl and just cuddle her. At 11:40am they weighed and measured her. She was 7lbs11oz and 19.5 inches long.

Shortly after they weighed her and gave her back to me I saw that my baby girl was rooting and I offered her the breast. My doula brought me some delicious peanut butter and jam toast. I noticed that my throat was sore… I guess from all the moaning and noises from pushing. I drank lots of cool refreshing ice water.

I wish I could say that we knew her name as soon as we saw her. Truth is, we still couldn’t decide what to name her. We kept throwing our top 5 names in the air.

I was moved to the post partum unit and unfortunately had to share a room. My room mate had a c-birth the night before. Her baby boy was very quiet and seemed to sleep a lot. However she never slept! I swear! She talked on the phone all the time, even past midnight. She was obviously very excited about her baby (who was obviously her 1st because if it was #2 she’d be sleeping). But she was also excited because her boyfriend had proposed to her that day. Of course I was happy for her, but I was soo tired and any time my baby girl was sleeping, I tried to sleep. I at least knew that I would be sleep deprived in the future.. My roommate clearly hadn’t gotten that memo. She was recovering from major abdominal surgery and practically begging to leave the hospital asap… I just hope she didn’t “crash” once she got home.

Thankfully I was only in the hospital for a day. On Christmas morning Santa came around the unit and handed out some small gifts. We were able to get a picture of our baby girl and Santa. That morning we had decided on 2 names and were just trying to decide which would be the first name and which would be the middle. In the end we chose her first name to be Isla and middle name to be Myka.

We were able to leave the hospital by noon on Christmas Day.

Reflections after the birth
· I am still really amazed about the VBAC. Everything went so smoothly. I am so happy I was able to have such a positive birth. I got everything I wanted from it. A natural VBAC, the choice to labor how I wanted, no drugs, no vacuum/forceps, no episiotomy etc.
· It’s crazy how I lost track of time. It seemed that I was in the moment, never worrying about the clock.
· I never thought about the risk of uterine rupture
· Never went through “transition”. I was totally expecting this. I thought I would come to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore but it never came! I never felt like giving up.
· Never thought about or considered using drugs during the birth
· When my nurse went on break the replacement nurse was really great. I remember her saying “I love when women birth without any drugs!”. I was so happy to hear her say that!