This is Char’s (at Char Eats Greens) story about baby Nia arriving earthside. Nia is now nearly 1 year old.
Ok, let’s start back on Thursday, November 22nd when the whoooole thing began.
That morning I had actually still planned to go to school/class that day. I might have been a little delirious or sleep-deprived (or crazy!) for even thinking that, that was a good idea, but luckily I did end up staying home. The only reason I didn’t end up in that car and on the road is because right before I was about to leave, I peed and lost my mucous plug. After that, it just didn’t feel right to go to school (although I know you can lose your plug and not go into labour for up to weeks!).
So I stayed home, napped, and waited for 2pm to roll around to go to my midwife appointment. There, they hooked me up to monitor baby’s heart beat for 20 minutes and watch for contractions (that were non-existent at this point); this was to just make sure babe was still happy in there at 6 days overdue.
While there, I decided to get a stretch and sweep to hopefully induce the labour process to start; basically the midwife goes in to sweep away the membranes from the cervix, which can help start contractions. She was only able to perform about 50% of this process because my cervix was sitting back (which is common because once you’re in the labour, the baby helps push it down).
I never did the stretch and sweep intending for it to put me straight into labour (and was also fine with being that many days overdue), so I was ok with the fact that it didn’t completely work. The midwife also let me know at that point that I was 2cm dilated and my cervix was 50% thinned out, which was assuring to know that we were heading in the right direction (but remember, I wasn’t having contractions at this point).
The hubby drove into town after the appointment to hang out/take a quick break from work (which would also be our last solo hangout!), and from there, I continued on with my regular day – visiting three grocery stores, because that’s just the way I roll. I picked up some food, went home, made dinner, packed all the last minute things in my hospital bag just in case, and then ate some dinner. During that late afternoon/evening, I was feeling some cramping, but wasn’t anything major.
After dinner, cleaning and just making sure everything was organized (like snacks for the hospital packed!), the husband and I headed upstairs to finish a movie in bed. This is when heavier cramping started (10:30pm). I felt like the cramping came on pretty quickly and faster than I had anticipated, because we actually had to pause the movie a few times due to it.
At this point, I also went to the bathroom and more mucous came out, so really, I hadn’t fully lost the plug earlier, but the cramping was continuing to progress. I knew that I had to wait for the 5-1-1 to call the midwife (ie: contractions are 5 minutes apart, last 1 minute for 1 hour straight).
We somehow made it through the movie, and then I started timing my contractions (11:30pm). I told Tyler to go to sleep so that at least one of us would be rested (and at that point, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep through the pain, even with gravol and tylenol). I didn’t really know what to do because my contractions were wonky – they weren’t the 5-1-1, but were about 3 minutes apart, lasting for 45 seconds.
At around 12:45am, I felt like the pain wasn’t staying the same, but increasing, and along with my wonky contractions, I decided it was time to call my midwife, Sarah. I woke up Tyler to let him know.
Sarah arrived somewhere around 1:30am, and started timing contractions and then examined me. At around 2am, I was 3.5cm dilated, so we decided that I was going to labour for longer at home. Sarah went to our living room to sleep on the couch while I stayed in the bedroom and tried to get some rest between contractions.
We continued to do this (ie: rest, check, assess) for a few hours (I also had a warm shower to try to relieve some pain), and once I was a few more centimeters dilated, we collectively decided it was time to go to the hospital. Sarah went ahead to let the hospital know we were coming, and we followed not long after.
After getting checked in, and into our room (around 5:45am), I continued to labour without pain intervention – just music and a relaxing lavender spray. This is where time went the slowest, since we just had to wait it out and let the baby work its way down the birth canal. This is also when Sarah had to go and rest (since they are legally required to go and sleep after being awake for 28 hours), and my third midwife, Kylene, stepped in.
My mom arrived at the hospital around 10:30am, and just stayed with Kylene, Tyler and I, while I battled stronger contractions and a baby that was making progress, but very slowly. I reached 6.5cm fairly quickly, which is awesome, but it was after that point that really started making me more aware of the time.
I felt like our progress up until this point was very good, but it was after the 6.5cm that things started making me more uneasy and ready to have the baby.
I won’t pretend like this story finishes how I want it to, because it’s actually quite the opposite.
So after 6.5cm, things started progressing considerably different than anticipated. My contractions kept getting stronger, but I was informed by Kylene that she wanted to hook me up so we could monitor the fetal heart beat and my contractions (just like what I had done the previous day for the 20 minutes in the midwife’s office). Again, just to make sure that the baby was not in distress.
Up until this point, I had been battling my contractions standing up, with my forehead resting on the bed – for me, this is what worked best. But with the monitor now on, I was lying down, which made my contractions far worse, in my opinion. Plus, I felt very limited, as I couldn’t go more than a few feet because of my attachment to the monitor.
Baby was still happy in there (thankfully!), but mama wasn’t. Eventually, I took a break from the monitor (to pee and get up, in general), and decided it best that when I returned, I would be hooked back up, but this time so that I could stand next to the bed yet again. This is when Kylene now informed me that the baby was shifted to the one side (the right) in my stomach, and that we had to move it more to the centre so that it could properly make its descent down (and ultimately keep the process on track instead of at a stand-still). To do this, I now had to put one foot up on a stool, the other on the ground and go into a lunge during my contractions. With my contractions already getting pretty intense and the monitors across my belly, I now discovered that I had to do lunges as well?! It kind of felt like a bad dream, and had me convinced that a smooth labour was pretty much out the window.
I lunged for at least 30 minutes and thankfully when I had, had about enough, the baby had shifted over enough that I wouldn’t have to do it anymore. By the time this was all done, it was now around 3pm, so Kylene checked to see how dilated I was, and thankfully I had reached 9-10cm; it was time to start practice pushing.
I practiced, and practiced, and practiced. The baby made progress, but not much. Every time a contraction did come and I pushed, I kept hoping it would bring baby closer to coming out. Kylene had helped for a little in the beginning (ie: directing me where to push from, how to breathe, and checking to see how the baby was making out), but had left it up to Tyler and myself to push for a little while together.
Every time Kylene returned, I had hoped for more promising news than what was actually delivered. It was a lot of “you’re making some progress,” which is not what I wanted to hear. I was getting tired and hungry, and just downright confused. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, or why the baby wasn’t making much progress. I just wanted to meet my baby!
When Kylene came back in after another time of letting Tyler and I push alone, she yet again remarked on the fact that the baby was coming, just not quickly, and how it was time to seek a second opinion. She said that she was going to call in a doctor just to make sure everything was ok.
[This would also be a good time to note that on top of this all, Kylene had some concern a bit earlier that Nia might have already had her first poop, exposing her to meconium in the womb, and so a respiratory doctor was to be present at the birth to examine her and make sure none was swallowed.]
When the doctor, Dr. Murad, arrived, she examined me, and this is where the story takes the worst turn for me. Somehow Nia had managed to instead tuck her chin and head in as babies normally do, to bend her head back. Dr. Murad immediately explained how this baby was a ‘brow show’ and that an emergency c-section had to be performed right away. I was worried, scared, confused, disappointed and very upset. I burst into tears telling Tyler how I really didn’t want it to come down to this, especially after being in labour for 18 hours (plus, I was worried about not seeing my baby right after she was born and afraid they would feed her formula).
Now we were rushing down the hall, to head up to the operating room. Tyler was the one that actually pushed me to the elevator as everything was so scattered, as they were understaffed. They wouldn’t let my mom come up to the operating floor with Tyler and I, but I was happy to have him.
Once on the operating floor, Tyler wasn’t allowed past a certain yellow line, so once I was in the operating room, he was down the hall, still within ears’ reach, but still not close enough. I had heard that they were actually a staff member short for the operation (which Tyler later informed me that the person came running in just as my operation was starting), and to make matters worse, Dr. Murad and the anesthesiologist were arguing over which way to perform the surgery – as a general or to use a spinal tap. According to the anesthesiologist, his understanding was that there was time to do a spinal tap, but Dr. Murad said the baby was under distress and there was no time, so a general had to be done.
In the end, it was the general that I ended up getting, which was fine by me, because at least I had an hour and a half of peace and quiet, and not worrying. Through all the arguing and scrounging to find that last staff member, I was getting my IV and catheter put in, and had the oxygen mask put on. Thank goodness for the one nurse who talked me through the process and made me feel a little better. I was eventually put to sleep and awoke in a recovery room.
Groggy and ready to see my baby, they wheeled me back downstairs to our room. I had never been so happy to see my husband, and also waiting in the room was my mom and Tyler’s sister, Amanda (who was holding Nia when I arrived).
Amanda passed Nia to me immediately and all the awfulness that just happened was already a distant memory. We did skin-on-skin right away and then I fed her. Also, all my worry about the c-section was relieved when Tyler told me that they handed Nia over to him just 15 minutes after I went in for the operation, where he was able to do skin-on-skin contact with her.
It was also a huge relief to know that they didn’t feed her formula. Tyler made sure they didn’t, but had she been just a bit bigger (they actually checked the numbers because we were that adamant about her not getting formula), then she legally would have needed to be fed it.
Although having the c-section was not my ideal situation, it definitely was what was best, since we also later learned that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck and body.
It was a very bumpy and dark road at times, but it lead to the existence of our beautiful baby girl, Nia. And despite all of this happening, I was completely and utterly in love and happy as soon as I looked at her sweet little face.
This is my story that I hope Nia hears one day and will know how much we love her. Sometimes we need to travel on the hardest road to get to the reward.
Thank you for sharing Char! If you would like your birth story featured, please email me at alidamron at gmail dot com.