The story of a baby’s birth is probably one of the most important stories we still tell in our culture today. It’s the kind of story that I don’t think people will ever stop telling.
Have you ever bumped into a new parent on the street, maybe even someone that you barely know, and they want to tell you every last detail about the birth of their child? People love to tell birth stories.
Trust me, it happens to me WAY more than it does to the average person, but for some reason, we are always so intrigued to hear the details. How long it took, if anything exciting or different happened, and then of course the most important detail: how much did the baby weigh?! Which is so strange because this isn’t the local fair and it’s not a competition for who grew the biggest pumpkin. And it’s not as if a baby’s weight can tell us the future of this child’s life, right? (Hint: It won’t.)
For the person who gives birth, that day will remain with them forever. Everything that happened will be burned into their memory, good and bad. The details might get foggy, or glazed over, but the feelings they experienced, the way they felt, and the way it shapes them remains with them forever.
So, just a few days after my youngest son turned 4, I’ve decided to share the story of his birth.
Miles- A Birth Story
I had made the decision, after having a great experience with midwives for my first pregnancy and birth, that I would plan a homebirth for our second baby. I’d given birth to my son Dylan at the birthing centre on Cote-Des-Neiges but this time I was ready to stay home, enjoy not having to go anywhere and so that’s what we did.
After having gone well past my due date the first pregnancy, I knew better this time around. So I lied. I told everyone that I was due at the end of April, in order to buy myself an extra week or two of pregnancy, which I knew I’d need. So when my original due date of April 20th came and went, nobody was the wiser and I didn’t have to explain why I hadn’t given birth yet. Probably one of my best ideas ever.
I told my midwives that I wouldn’t be entertaining the idea of an induction this time, unless I went past 42 weeks, as that had stressed me out the last time. So, I sat around and did my best to wait.
It was just as hard as the first time, but this time I avoided drinking weird concoctions I’d read about on the internet and instead just ate a ton of ice cream. It probably had the same effect- nothing.
The, one Sunday evening, 8 days past my due date, I finally felt that familiar wave of pain come upon me. A contraction! And this time, it started off just as intensely as the first time. But, I sent my husband off to work anyway, and messaged my doula to let her know that things were finally starting. Then, I spent the next few hours watching You Tube videos, something I’d later regret when the only song in my head while I gave birth was a Canadian rapper called Classified, singing “Inner Ninja”…
At about 11pm I found myself getting tired and bored of having contractions every half an hour. I tried laying down, which did nothing for the pain. So, then I took a long bath, which helped to stop the contractions. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted this to happen, but I figured if it gave me some time to rest, I might as well take it.
After getting out of the tub, I lay in my bed, wrapped in a towel, and tried to keep track of my contractions. I would drift off to sleep though, and forget when the last one had been.
Having been a doula for a few years at this point, I tried not to “doula” myself. I wanted to try my best to forget what I knew about labour, and patterns and just simply be a woman giving birth. It was pretty much impossible.
Finally, at about 3:30am my husband walked in the door from a night of playing music downtown and I immediately sat up from my bed with a huge contraction and said “I’m really in labour!” He said, “That’s great. I’ve got to go to sleep.” and was promptly snoring about 15 minutes later.
I got up and began pacing around the house. I stopped in the doorway of our living room and I rocked back and forth, moaning quietly through the contractions. It was at this point that I started to not trust my own judgment very much. I’d seen enough births to know that this could easily take many more hours, or I could be having a baby pretty soon. I hadn’t experienced much early labour at all the first time I gave birth and it had been an 8 hour labour from start to finish. I was now on hour 7 of this labour and couldn’t decide what to do next. Finally, I called my doula, Sesch.
She answered in chipper way, the way someone who is used to be woken up on a moment’s notice would. I told her what I’d be experiencing throughout the night and she said “Okay. So what do you want to do next?” and I said, “I have no idea. But I thought I’d call someone. I don’t know exactly what to do next. I guess I’ll call you later.” She said she’d wait for my call.
I felt kinda silly having called my doula for no reason, but I didn’t want to invite a bunch of people over to a birth that might not be happening anytime soon. So, I continued my pacing around the house.
At this point, it was now 4:45 in the morning and the birds had begun chirping, the sun was starting to come up and I was beginning to freak out. I did not imagine I’d be giving birth at home during the day. Now what?! My older son would be waking up soon and I did not want him participating in this birth. I also didn’t imagine giving birth while people passed by our open windows, wondering what in the world was going on inside that house and if they should call the cops.
Finally, I called Sesch back and said “you need to come over now.” She said, “yup. I’ve been awake, eating breakfast waiting for you.” She said she’d call Jenny, the doula who was going to join her as her apprentice. Then I called my midwife, Marika and she said she could only be there in 45 minutes. She asked if that would be enough time. I laughed and said I sure hoped so.
I felt like I was in a fog and couldn’t figure out how active my labour even was.
I knew I was having strong, regular contractions but I had no idea how often they were coming and nobody there to give me an indication of how crazy I looked or sounded. The whole labour so far had been very relaxed and slow moving compared to the intense labour with my first son.
I finally woke my husband up at 5:30 and said “You need to get up. People are on their way here and if you’re sleeping you’re going to look like the worst birth partner ever. GET UP.”
He joined me in the kitchen to start making coffee and during contractions I would lean over the counter, moaning like a barn animal and in between I would stand up and as clear headed as I could, start giving him orders for what I needed him to do next. Call my mom. Tell her to get in the car right away because it’ll take her an hour and a half to arrive and I don’t know how much time we have. Tell her to take Dylan to preschool. Tell her not to come back here until we tell her to.
Then, I got onto my bed on my hands and knees with my face pressed into a pillow and I cried and whined and moaned my way through each contraction.
Jenny was the first to arrive and she took one look at me and said, “oh man. You’re doing really well.” All I could do was laugh, because being a doula I know that simply means, “Thank God I’m not you right now, but you’re amazing and you can do this.”
The party started shortly after around 6am, with my midwife and Sesch arriving and everyone just settling in around me on the bed. At the time, both Sesch and my midwife were pregnant and Jenny had a nursing baby at home. I felt so surrounded by the feminine presence in the room, it was like you could breathe in the hormones. I felt social and in between contractions I talked a lot as I rested my head. I joked about how terrible birth was and how I remembered it being so much more fun last time. I got up for a few minutes and tried the bath, but since I couldn’t only fit about ⅓ of my body in it at once it was pretty awful. When I got back to the bed my midwife examined me. This was the first vaginal exam I’d had the entire pregnancy.
I heard her whisper, “she’s 8cm”. I felt like doing a fist pump in the air but instead all I could do was moan.
Soon after that, I started to feel the urge to push. I had been wearing the most ridiculous outfit until that point. A giant pair of men’s holiday pajama pants and a tight tank top. I stripped down to nothing and got to work, birthing.
Since my first birth had left with me with a 3rd degree vaginal tear, which needed to be repaired at the hospital, one of my main goals was to not tear so badly that it couldn’t be repaired at home. I mentioned my perineum probably 10 times during the pushing stage. I also felt though, that this pushing was taking a long time.
I thought my second baby, after having an 11lb baby, would be quick. I sensed some impatience and worry. But every time I pushed I felt such an intense pain, that I could feel my body pulling the baby back up where there was more room.
My midwife at one point said, “you’re going to have to do this. You can push this baby out.” And finally I realized, I was holding onto so much fear of letting this baby come out because I was so scared of tearing again. I felt his head come down and it was such an intense, strong pain. I breathed through it and finally his head was born with his hand pressed up against one of his temples. Once his hand was through his arm came right out with his head, like Superman, and the intense pressure I’d be feeling as he came down the birth canal finally disappeared. At 8:32 am and with the next push, his body was born and I leaned back, sitting up on my knees, to see my little baby.
We hadn’t known the sex, so I said, “it’s a another boy! My baby!” and my husband was in shock because he’d convinced himself it was a girl.
The next few hours are a bit of a blur. After spending some time breastfeeding and having a minor tear sutured, I began experiencing very intense “after pains”. My uterus was having a really hard time contracting, and we didn’t realize it then, but I had lost quite a lot of blood. When I got up finally to use the bathroom, I fainted and needed to spend some time laying on my bathroom floor with Jenny feeding my honey from a spoon and an IV with saline fluid.
It was then that my mother returned home with my son, who had been shuffled out that morning only 10 minutes before I gave birth. So, that was quite a sight to see. A new baby, me on the floor, and our lives now completely changed as a family of 4.
In the end, all was well and my midwives and doulas left us tucked into bed with our “small” 9lb, 15oz baby boy, Miles.
And that, my friends, is another epic birth story for all the world to read. If you made it this far, you’ve either just given birth, or love to read about birth. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Happy Birthday Miles!