Kyla shares with us the moving story of her daughter’s birth.
My due date came and went. For eight days I experienced periods of contractions, which varied in length and intensity. They got my hopes up. Every. Single. Time.
I went through hours of what I thought was labor, each time believing this must be it more than the last. I walked, stayed up all night, baked a “labor cake” and breathed through my contractions on my hands and knees. And eventually after four, five, six or more hours they would fade away. Nothing was more discouraging, frustrating and exhausting. I was experiencing feelings I never had before, and it made me miserable.
I had the birthing pool blown up in my spare room, ready to be filled. I gathered all the home birth supplies. I was optimistic and excited about my labor and birth. I prepared by mediating, going for reiki and attending prenatal yoga. I practiced breathing techniques.
I woke up on Monday in the middle of the night with contractions. After being up the previous two nights walking like a crazy person trying to encourage my contractions to stay, I decided I would try to relax through these ones. I slept for a few hours, and finally at 6 a.m. I could not longer stay resting through them. They were gaining intensity, but still weren’t completely regular.
They got closer and closer to the five-minutes-apart mark for an hour, which was the point at which I’d be able to finally page my midwife! But they never got to that point; they would be four minutes apart for a while, and then seven, then back to four, three and then 10.
That Monday I went for a few walks as usual, and got a sweep done in the afternoon. I was 4 cm dilated, and my contractions had not gone away. My amazing midwife encouraged me; and without saying the words, I picked up that she believed we would be having a baby that night! I was so thrilled – this was finally it.
I labored through that day; and as the day turned to night, my contractions got increasingly hard to breathe through. I bounced on my ball, rested and walked. It was 6 a.m. on Tuesday morning by the time I was crying through the contractions. I felt exhausted and beaten down. They still were not regular; they were intense, but while some were close together, others were further apart.
I felt sick to my stomach and went to the bathroom thinking I was going to get sick. I woke up three minutes later to my next contraction – I was face-down on the bathroom floor. This was a physical and emotional exhaustion that I had never felt before.
I waited until 7 a.m., because I hadn’t wanted to wake up my midwife before then. I called her, and she could hear the exhaustion in my voice. She told me she would be over in an hour. She helped me through my contractions, rocking and breathing with me. I was 6 cm dilated and we had the conversation about breaking my waters to help the contractions find their rhythm. I was all for this, as I was now a full week overdue and more than ready for the real deal.
She warned me if there was meconium present, we would not be able to do the birth at home. I dismissed this, thinking, how often does that actually happen? They broke my bag of waters at around 8:30 a.m. No meconium – good news! But then my midwife took the pad to the bathroom for better lighting and in the calmest voice said, “Oh yes; there’s meconium in there.” My heart sank.
No candles, no essential oils, no dim lighting and no birthing pool. I had to go to the bright hospital where I had been adamant about not birthing at. I didn’t let my discouragement show, though; after all, I had consented and did not want be difficult. I had to throw together a hospital bag quickly before we left, and I met my midwife at 10 a.m.
Just my luck, as I arrived outside the hospital in fuzzy pajama pants and flip-flops with amniotic fluid dripping down my legs, there had been a fire alarm. I’m sure it was a sight to see. We had to stand there for what seemed like forever, still breathing through the irregular contractions. Finally we got to the maternity unit and my midwife again calmly informed me after being hooked up to the monitor that they would have to start an induction. My heart sank again. This meant an IV and monitors during labor—something I felt strongly against. I wanted to be able to labor freely, sitting in water, standing in the shower, and walking around the room.
The OB came in and I signed the papers consenting to an induction. I was hooked up to Oxytocin by 11:30 a.m. I had never felt so unlike myself. I wasn’t asked if I wanted the epidural—I was told I needed one. They could tell I wouldn’t be able to naturally birth my baby by my energy level at the time.
I was hooked up to the epidural, and managed to nap for an hour and a half. The nurses checked me a few hours later, and I was still 6 cm dilated. They kept upping the induction hoping to see change as we were on a timeline now. Finally my midwife checked me and I was 8 cm. We called the birth photographer at around 6:00 p.m.
Before I knew it I was 9½ cm. My family and a friend said goodbye and good luck. The birth room was set up, and my midwife, her student, my mom and birth photographer were present. I had stopped giving myself the epidural; I wanted to feel myself pushing so I could more effectively do so. And after 15 minutes of hard, determined but controlled pushing with the support of my amazing midwife, my baby girl was born at 8:15 p.m., weighing 8 lbs 3 oz. She was perfectly healthy and exactly one week overdue.
I felt most unprepared for the fact that my labor wouldn’t be black and white. It would not go as planned; I would not know when it was the real thing and when it was actually the day I would have my baby. I wasn’t mentally prepared. I didn’t believe that I would actually get to hold my baby. At my 4-week visit with my midwife, everything had hit me. I broke down to her, saying I felt like a failure. I had not done it naturally; I felt like I had cheated and given up. I hadn’t done it at home in water like I wanted, and I felt ripped off.
She sat and talked to me for a long time about why everything we did was necessary to have an amazing delivery. She assured me I had done a great job, and I was able to find comfort in her words. Her help, along with reading the stories on this blog, has let me come to terms with my birth. It was long, exhausting, hard and perfectly amazing all at the same time. I would do it over and over again. I learned so much trust in my body and every day I am fascinated by its capabilities.
Photograph by Kim Windle, Vancouver Island, BC.