Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of birth stories I will be sharing over the next few months featuring a wide range of women and their birth experiences. Mitzi from East Van Baby has graciously allowed me to repost the story of her second child’s birth, a midwife attended and unmedicated hospital birth. (If you would like to share your own birth story, please visit this post to see how.) ~Olivia
At 38 weeks, I advised my midwife that I wanted a stretch and sweep to get the process going with this pregnancy. A little selfish I know, but I was increasingly becoming more uncomfortable with my left hip at night, the insomnia, the urinary frequency, and shortness of breath. Furthermore, my husband was going to start the fishing season again (we would be alone for 3 days at a time), my dad was going back to work, and we had a wedding to go to! Let’s get the show started. Date was booked for September 1st at 0900!
The August 31st-September 1st sleep was non existent because of my anxiety in anticipation of the sweep. At 0430am, I was woken up by a different type of cramping that was not the usual Braxton Hicks that i often felt from my head to my bowels. Of course I didn’t think THIS IS IT right away, but “period cramps” came to mind and I knew that something more was happening. So I got up, paced around the house, and started using my contractions app to get some sort of data on what was going on. I woke up Gene to tell him around 530am and that I was about to page the midwife at 0600.
My contractions were getting more intense at the 6am mark, my midwife said to call her back when I couldn’t function through them. At this hour I was still able to get dressed, get my parents on standby, put makeup on (yeah, I know), and analyze the happenings of the day while curling over the side of the couch every now and then. My parents picked up Max close to 7am, and I paged my midwife that things were moving along quickly. I asked her to come over and check me so we wouldn’t be turned away from the hospital, but by 720am, it didn’t take much for Gene to convince me (knowing my stubbornness) that it was time to go to the hospital especially as rush hour was then and now…we met the midwife there after a brief phone call.
Thankfully, we had no traffic issues getting to the hospital, and I was officially admitted at around 0745am. Had to tell Gene to fck off every now and then for trying to rush me to the unit; walking with active contractions and saying hi to people that recognized me in between ha (!). We had the most amazing room 11 on the maternity unit, and once I lay down on the bed, I was 4cm dilated and being told that “[You] aren’t going anywhere today!”
The only position I was comfortable with was lying on my left side and I stayed there during the entire labor process. I don’t know why, but I was more conscious of the pain this time around. No drugs, no gas, just stubborn debilitating PAIN. I can’t remember all of what I was saying, but I remember swearing a lot, trying to breathe things out, closing my eyes 98% of the time, having a pleasant staff nurse who kept smiling at me as she got the room ready, telling myself I was so tired and that I just need a little more time. Honestly I was also a little annoyed at the time because my midwife was just there waiting, sitting, being TOO CALM, while I was totally at my most vulnerable.
In hindsight, really…what was she going to do? Speed up the baby’s arrival? How? Pull the baby out? Tell me to push when my body wasn’t ready? In reality, she was waiting as my body was changing, and after it all, she told me she knew things were progressing fast as she listened to the sounds of my voice and visual symptoms. I was also finding it strange that I remained on my left side the entire time, like this isn’t what i pictured in my head and couldn’t fathom birthing this way, but alas it was the only position my body would let me take on. Andrea (my midwife) said she’d lift up my leg the entire time, to which I was completely in disbelief as how a baby was going to come out that way.
My water broke as she encouraged me to let it go, and to let my body push when it was ready. I remember loudly saying, “There’s water coming out!!” and as she scurried along to deal with the acuity of the situation, I got even more anxious when I couldn’t visualize her or feel her energy. I remember saying, “Andrea, where are you? I need to see you!” many times. Her presence was truly a comforting factor.
There’s no doubt when your body tells you that it was time to push! Mentally though, you have to let it go and just do it. I remember telling Gene not to breathe in my face as it was really bothering me (lol), I remember telling him that I was going to rip his shirt off or rip it in general, I remember telling myself that I just needed some time to rest in between contractions and trying to will the baby to give me just a few more minutes (which she did enough to suffice). I remember some slight burning in my perineum and my midwife telling me to breathe it out and keep my legs and bum soft as she cranked my knee to my chest (still lying on my left side), and I remember someone pressing down on my perineum, an EXPLODING/BURSTING/ERUPTING sensation, and baby out and crying!! Skin to skin right away….first degree tear, 2 stitches, 5 pushes, and 5 hours later (labor and delivery)….we have our baby girl!!
Mitzi is a 30 something wife, mother, and registered nurse in Vancouver, BC. EASTVAN BABY is a scrapbook of her experiences celebrating motherhood and life’s simple joys- a mark on the internet for her family and from her family. You can also find her on Instagram.