Tuesday morning we got a call at 7AM from the hospital to tell us to come and get induced. My due date was October 14th and because of the whole diabetes thing, my doctor didn't want me to wait too long, hence the quick induction. We took this picture just before we left - one last tummy image:
We got to the Birthing Centre at the hospital (around 9AM), we were shown to our room and once we were all installed and I changed into my gown, I was hooked up to a monitor so they could check the baby's heartbeat for a while. I just relaxed while all this was going on and Stéphane went off to organize our private room and deal with all the paperwork, etc. Our nurses were very, very sweet and the Centre itself is very calm and modern so we were feeling confident. It was a little weird to look around the room and think that we wouldn't be leaving it without a new baby!
I was on the monitor for a while because they noticed that the baby's heartbeat was slowing down from time to time and they wanted to make sure that everything was fine before proceeding. My doctor was not on call that day but she came by to say hello and to introduce me to the doctor that would be looking after me. After a couple of hours on the monitor, the doctor decided that the best induction would be via the drip. This option meant that they had more control over the labour which was important given the heartbeat situation. Once we had decided that is what we were doing, we had some time to eat a little since I wouldn't have another chance for quite a while. Stéphane went off to get a sandwich and some soup that we shared and after that, I was hooked up to the drip. By this time it was about noon. At first I didn't feel much of anything. I read the newspaper, wrote in my journal and made some phonecalls. Like I said, I was feeling very secure in the hands of the medical personnel and although I knew what was coming, I wasn't afraid. I think that psychology plays a huge role in getting through a traumatic event like childbirth and I felt like I was both physically and mentally prepared.
Here we are during this first phase:
I finished the newspaper but just barely as the contractions started heating up from that point on. As they got more and more intense, I tried different positions: sitting on the ball worked well. My water broke naturally (I don't know why but I was happy about that) and we just spent the afternoon getting through the contractions as they came. I tried to pee at one point but couldn't. But that's how I discovered that standing up and walking helped a lot. I was still hooked up to the heartrate and contraction monitor, but I was able to stand for a while.
Unfortunately, her heartrate started falling again so when I was about 5cm, I had to get back into bed and lie on my side with an oxygen mask to try and improve the situation. Most of my labour was in my back so lying on my side was completely painful and horrible but you do what you have to do! At this point another doctor had taken over and he came to let us know that we should be prepared for a C-section. The nurse actually shaved me and removed my nailpolish from my toes (weird, right?) and I signed a release form and everything, just in case. We were scared but on the other hand, we just wanted the baby to be OK. They took me off the drip to give the baby a chance to recuperate and Stéphane anxiously (although I didn't realize it) watched her heartrate. They actually took the other monitors off me as well (what a relief) because by this time I had an internal monitor for her heartrate (little tube that stays stuck to the baby's scalp via her hair) so I was actually free to move around.
The funny thing is that even though I was off the drip, my body kicked in and continued the contractions on its own. Now this is where I started to really see why giving birth has such a bad reputation :) I walked off every contraction standing up with the help of Stéphane who counted the seconds of each one out loud for me. We did this for about two hours by the end of it I was actually dilated to 10 cm. We were relieved that we had avoided the C-section and I was happy that at least I was getting somewhere! Julie said that it was time to start pushing so I got back in bed and gave it my best shot. The thing about pushing is that you are on your back and when I said that all my pain was in my back, I really, really meant it. I just couldn't even concentrate on the work that had to be done to push her out because it was completely overwhelming. Julie checked to see how far along the baby was and since she had a ways to go, we decided that it was time for an epidural.
I have to say, that epidural saved my life. It worked instantaneously and I had about a half an hour of pain free rest that I used to recuperate and get ready for the job ahead. By the time I started feeling the pressure to push again, I was euphoric from the lack of pain and I felt like I could do anything. I was about 9:45PM by this point. Julie and Stéphane coached me and I pushed for about an hour. The pain of course comes back but it was at least different than the pain of contractions. Long story short, the doctor came in near the end and yelled me through it (he wasn't very strong on the ol' bedside manner) but afterwords I realized that it was tense because my baby girl had her cord around her neck and meconium (newborn baby poop) on her. He did an episiotomy (from which I think my husband will never recover) to get her out quick and they cut the cord in a hurry so unfortunately Stéphane didn't get to do it.
When they put her squirmy little body on my bare chest, I can't really describe the emotions. It feels like an emormous achievement by that point because you've been working so hard for so long just to get to that moment. It feels like a huge responsibility and it just feels wonderful, all at the same time. She stayed on me while they stitched me up and did all the other fun stuff (I thought that once she came out that the pain was over but no!) and our new little family headed over to our room in the maternity ward at about 1AM or so.
Sorry about the boob display in this picture - by this point I didn't even notice what body parts were being exposed anymore...
So that's the whole birth story. I could not have gotten through it without the amazing nurses at the hospital but mostly I could never have done it without the love and support of my husband. He was a rock through the whole thing - calm, quick to do whatever I asked, assertive with the staff when necessary, asking questions I was too afraid to ask or too much in pain to ask. My hero.
Speaking of which, he has the magic touch to get our daughter to sleep so I should now stop typing and get to bed while I can. I'll post part 2 tomorrow hopefully with more photos.