Category: pregnancy

Torre’s Birth Story

DSC07084My due date (Feb. 7) passed without any excitement other than preparing for my parents’ arrival from Victoria, BC. I spent the day taking it easy at home, then walked with our housemate Kristen over to the house where she’s staying for my parents’ visit. We had tea and chatted, then I headed home to wait for Matt and my parents to come from the airport. A huge snow storm was building, and it ended up taking them three and a half hours to get home through the traffic and horrible driving conditions! We had a great night though, and I was so happy the Truck (our nickname for the baby) had waited for them to arrive.

That night around 3 a.m. I woke up feeling crampy and moved out to the futon in the living room so I wouldn’t disturb Matt with my tossing and turning. I managed to sleep between these early contractions, trying to ignore my excitement wondering if Feb 8 would be my baby’s birthday!      morning Feb 8This was the morning of Feb. 8 as seen off our balcony. I continued to have crampy contractions throughout the day and enjoyed spending time with my parents and watching Matt and Kristen out on the street helping push and dig out vehicles stuck in the snow. A lot of cars needed rescuing and even some transport trucks! I tried to take it easy and save my energy for when labour really got started, but I also walked the halls of our apartment building to encourage things along. DSC06962That night, we had steak for dinner and watched a movie before bed. Around 11pm when the movie was over, we timed the contractions I was still having, and they were 7-10 minutes apart. We all headed to bed and wondered what the next day would bring.

Well, I didn’t manage very much sleep before my contractions became too strong to sleep through. Around 2 a.m. I moved out to the living room and started timing contractions, dozing off to sleep in between. By 4:30 I was struggling to cope by myself, so I woke up my mom and she came out to help me time and press on my back. After an hour of that, my contractions were coming every five minutes and lasting a minute or so, so I finally paged our midwife Valerie to let her know I was in labour. She arrived at 7 a.m., checked me out and said that while I was in labour, the baby wasn’t coming any time soon. “Take some Gravol and try to get some rest,” she said, and promised to come back in the afternoon.DSC06972 Well, it seemed like Feb. 9 would be the Truck’s birthday, and it was a much nicer looking morning than the 8th! Not that I cared at that point – I took my gravol and mostly slept for a few hours. Little did I know how important that rest would turn out to be!DSC06971Our mattress is not the best, so my Mom encouraged me to come out and lay on the futon hoping I’d be more comfortable there. I continued to labour and doze, watched Matt play video games and cuddled with Nimoy while I still had a belly for him to rest his head on!  early labour 3Whether the gravol started to wear off or it was simply labour taking its course, the time came for Matt to turn off the xbox and sit with me so I could hold his hand during contractions.DSC06985Around 5pm, after putting in a full day at the midwifery clinic, Valerie returned to see how I was progressing. The best news was that I had made it into active labour and could get into the birth pool (getting in too early can slow everything down, so it’s best to wait for labour to be established). THAT was a huge relief, although contractions were still painful. The warm water took the edge off, and I had it in my mind that I would cope so much better in the pool, so I think it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.DSC06995While I was in the pool, Valerie continued to monitor the baby’s heart rate and my blood pressure to make sure we were both handling labour well. I continued to rest as deeply as possible between contractions, not thinking about what was past and not worrying about how much work was still to come. It was definitely easier to relax in the pool, and I was pleasantly surprised to catch myself waking up sometimes as a contraction came on. Matt and my Mom were amazing support through every contraction, especially since I had a lot of back labour and probably couldn’t have handled it without tons of counterpressure and massage.DSC06991Throughout almost the whole labour, I also had really intense hiccups, and this was almost as exhausting as contractions!

At this point, there aren’t any more pictures because Matt and my Mom were too busy supporting me to worry about the camera, and my Dad was filming with the video camera on and off, but that won’t ever make it to this blog 😛

To make a long story short (since this is what my memory has done in the last few weeks anyways), day turned into evening, and evening turned into night. I moved from the pool to the bathroom and laboured on the toilet (which was way more painful, but apparently more effective), moved to the living room and hung off Matt’s shoulders, got back in the pool and basically did a circuit of the whole apartment. My second time in the pool, the backup midwife arrived – one of her clients had gone to the hospital earlier in the day but turned out not to be in labour, and the midwife was so happy because she really wanted to be part of a home birth. It was great to have someone with fresh energy, and she took over massaging my back and checking mine and the baby’s vitals for a little while.

The progress of my labour was defined by even numbers – I was at 2 cm when Valerie first arrived, 4 by the time she let me in the pool, 6 was when the backup midwife came, and 8 is where I stayed for hours. The baby’s head was turned to the side, so it couldn’t descend quite far enough to open my cervix all the way, and my bag of waters wouldn’t break. In a sense it was good because the amniotic sac gave the baby a cushion of space to turn the way it needed to, but Valerie was concerned that my uterus would fatigue and I would get too tired if I remained stalled at 8 for too long. It was a bit before 11pm that she finally decided to break my water and send me to the bathroom for what were now even more intense contractions.

I remember wondering in the bathroom what the neighbours could hear and what they were thinking. I could hear that it sounded like I was being murdered, but I was way past caring. Most contractions at this point were overwhelming, but I tried to pull myself together by the end of each one, not to cry or scream any longer than I absolutely needed to. Matt and my Mom were still constantly by my side, and in some ways the insanity I felt at 8 cm was easier to deal with than my painful contractions at 2cm because I knew I was coming close to the end.

I got back into the pool for a third and final time (it had been topped up with warm water since hours had passed since I first got in) and started to feel pressure with some of the contractions. The contractions were still unbearable, but the baby’s heart rate was excellent, and I knew a trip to the hospital for pain relief would be more misery than it was worth. With the end in sight, I was thrilled to have the backup midwife check me and say that the baby had turned its head and I could push whenever I wanted.

I wanted. So I pushed… and got nowhere. After a few frustrating and painful tries, the midwife let me know that the pushing stage of labour could take over an hour for first-time moms, and that actually came as a huge relief to realize I didn’t have to do it all in five minutes. (Matt, on the other hand, was horrified but wisely kept his mouth shut about how tired HE was!) Remembering that there was no time limit and that my body would work at its own pace let me relax into the pain and conflicting reflexes of pushing, and about 15 minutes later the baby was crowning. Valerie had been resting on the futon since it was now after 1am, but she quickly arrived in our room and got her baby-catching gloves on when I screamed the scream.

I was squatting in the pool with my weight completely supported by Matt who was kneeling on our floor and leaning over the edge of the pool. I remember looking down and realizing that a head was going to appear between my legs, just like in all the birth videos I’d watched over the last many months. It seemed impossible, but as the baby began to crown it became inevitable, and then it happened. Moments later my body began its final push, and as my hands cradled the baby’s head, the body slid out and I lifted him out of the water onto my belly.

“You’re so big!” were my first words of amazement as I held the clean, slippery creature who was my child. He cried, and the midwives started drying him off, while I babbled, “There’s a cord, there’s a cord.” I could only lift him to my belly because he was all tangled up with the umbilical cord around his neck, too snug for me to move, although he was pink and yelling. Valerie ended up turning him upside down and rolling him over to untangle him, then she handed him back and I looked at his feet, and then I looked whether he was a boy, and he was. I hadn’t known the Truck was a boy, but I felt like it was, and I would have been so surprised by a daughter.DSC06996Valerie and Matt helped me move from the pool to our bed so I could deliver the placenta (so weird) and the midwives could monitor any bleeding. Torre lay on my chest and held Matt’s finger in his tiny, brand-new hand. It was a very special time to realize that we were now a family.DSC07000Torre was weighed and measured, the midwives made sure we were both healthy and stable, and they had some phone calls and paper work to take care of, then they went their way and we were left with the wonder of this new baby.

photo(28)And we are still amazed!

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40 Weeks

P07-02-13_11-35Well, as you can see, watermelon week is over. Okay, maybe you can’t really see. The midwife says at this point the baby will continue to drop, and the amniotic fluid is depleting, so even though the baby is growing I might not get much bigger, and that was the case this week – my weight and belly measurement were the same as last week. The Truck is still active and strong, rolling around lots and occasionally sticking a foot out my side or up into my ribs.40 wksHere is a proper belly shot without props. Also, looking pregnant instead of looking like a skinny girl holding a watermelon. Yes I am wearing pre-pregnancy jeans, but no they are not done up, my long tank top just covers up the rubber band bridging the gap.

You may be interested to know that the fruit for the rest of my pregnancy, however long that shall be, is the jackfruit. I was certainly interested to read on wikipedia just now that it is the largest tree-borne fruit, “reaching as much as 80 pounds (36 kg) in weight and up to 36 inches (90 cm) long and 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter.

I saw jackfruit when I did a semester in Brazil – they grew on the property of the community centre I helped at. I never tried eating any because it smelled like overripe banana to me. In this moment, I kind of regret missing the opportunity to try it, but I can live with myself.  IMG_0445IMG_0446As you can see, the wisdom of comparing 40-week fetuses to jackfruit is questionable – not only can their size be ridiculous, but (like the pineapple at week 31) the texture would be horrifying to birth. Just sayin’.

Anyways, life continues as usual – my parents arrive tonight, which is GREAT news! And yesterday I stocked up on some books from the library for the nights I don’t sleep and future many hours of nursing.P07-02-13_09-52I went with a mix of fiction, non-fiction and teen lit, so hopefully whatever mood strikes me at 1 in the morning something will appeal to me.

Breathe

Well, February is here! The Truck is not, yet, but I am happily counting down to my parents’ arrival on Thursday 🙂 There is a lovely sense of calm in my days, making short lists of small projects to work away at with lots of rest in between. There is also an ongoing sense of preparation (tomorrow’s list includes making soup, and I’ll freeze at least some of it for easy food once the baby arrives), but without pressure – everything that MUST be done is done.

There was a youth retreat over the weekend with the theme of Breathe. One of the main messages was how important it is in our relationship with God (and in life) to breath in AND out, to do things that energize and revitalize us but also to give and invest in others. What we read in the Bible should change how we live, but if we only read the Bible, or if we only try to make changes, we’ll stifle our faith or burn out. Anyways, this was a very helpful concept for me in journalling because it is so simple, so I have been enjoying feeling slightly less inadequate at spending time with God lately: if I read something that strikes me, I copy it down as a breath in; the “so what” of whatever God says is what I write as a breath out. Like I said, it helps me focus without overcomplicating.

While I was journalling at this retreat, I was skimming through some verses in John, and then THIS verse caught my eye, which I’ve read before and enjoyed, but it is too timely not to share now.

John 16:21: When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.

Jesus speaks these words as an illustration for his disciples, but I am happy to take them at face value: sorrow and anguish will not be the final word of my birth, whatever happens along the way.

39 Weeks

Thankfully, pumpkin week is over, and I can now enjoy up to 7 days of imagining my baby as a watermelon. Watermelons are way better than pumpkins because they are oblong and don’t come with brutal stems.

39 wksI’m still having lots of braxton-hicks, but I don’t think the Truck is in any hurry to make an appearance. I am GRATEFUL to have chiropractic benefits through my work because I can’t imagine how uncomfortable I would be by this point if I wasn’t getting fixed up twice a week. It’s not in this picture, but I’m now wearing a scarf tied around my hips to help stabilize my pelvis and keep my lower back a little happier. A few people have asked me if it’s for fashion, but it’s actually a recommendation from my chiropractor that has been a big help the last few days.

The other plus side of seeing the chiropractor is the chance to practice my pain-coping techniques! I don’t generally get adjusted (ie. bones cracked), but there is a lot of soft tissue work (ie. really painful massage) that has been really effective for managing my pain and helping me move around as normally as possible. Of course, it reduces my pain after the appointment – while I’m actually being treated it can be as painful as I can possibly imagine. Of course, sometimes it’s as painful as I can imagine and then it gets a little worse. So I know that labour and delivery will most likely still be worse, but I’m also comfortable with sucking it up. Basically twice a week I get to practice taking pain, and conveniently that relieves my day-to-day aches and pains. Also, I hardly yell about the pain, I mostly go to my happy place and focus on keeping everything relaxed. We’ll see how that works out for me in labour 🙂

Still 38 Weeks

38 wksDaylight finally came and I got Kristen to take a bump picture for me.

And then I applied x-ray vision technology and found out that the Bump is actually right!

pumpkin belleh (38 wks)I had a very lazy day altogether, stayed in bed with a sore back, threw up my lunch, watched a movie, napped with Nimoy and edited that picture. Oh, plus I made Shepherd’s Pie for the first time! That was tasty. When Matt gets home I plan to see if he will take me on a date for ice cream 🙂