How many times have you told your child’s birth story?
So many times that you have lost count?
That’s fantastic! You should tell that birth story ALL THE TIME. It’s your story, it’s your child’s story, and it’s your partner’s story obviously, you should keep the birth story at whatever movie rating that you think is appropriate for your child. But the important thing is to tell it.
I feel like I have told the story of my son’s birth about 500 times. Being a prenatal and postnatal yoga teacher, the birth story comes up a lot in conversations with students. Then again, there are times when a student has been with me for almost her entire pregnancy and doesn’t hear the story. Not that my students need to know MY birth story. That’s certainly not the reason they come to class. It’s just that I think people get the impression that because I teach prenatal yoga that I delivered my son at home, in a water bath, surrounded by incense and candles and people chanting. I have students who have that birth story, but it is not mine.
So here it goes….
My son was born approximately five weeks early. His intention to enter the world was announced by my water breaking at 3:45 am on the morning of Wednesday, 12 February 2014. This was precisely six hours after we arrived home from a five day snowboarding trip in Switzerland.
WAIT! Before you starting filling up the comment board with reasons why I was an irresponsible pregnant women let me make two things clear.
1. We drove to Switzerland from Belgium, which is approximately a six hour drive.
2. I did not ski.
I had been exhausted the whole time we were in Switzerland, so almost immediately after we arrived home I was in bed and sound asleep. At about 3:45 am I woke up sleeping on my side facing into the bed. I felt like I needed to go for my nightly trip to pee. As I rolled over so that I could get out of bed I felt some liquid coming down my legs. I started to panic that I was peeing myself. So I moved as quickly as I could to the toilet (leaking fluid as I went). I lost a gush of fluid on the toilet, which did not feel like pee. I took a pee a few seconds later, which confirmed that the fluid was something else.
My water had broken!
I sat there thinking “Oh, s@#$! What do we do?!”. (I think swearing was appropriate under the circumstance). I got up from the toilet and kept dripping fluid on the bath mats. After about ten minutes I realised the dripping was not going to stop. So, I opened the bathroom and and shouted at my boyfriend, Gregg. He likes to tell the story of how him and the cat, Coco, both jumped a mile in the air when I yelled, “GREGG! I’m leaking!!”. But I WAS leaking.
And it was an emergency, which necessitated shouting.
So, Gregg said that I should time the contractions and try to go back to sleep for a while (we had our alarm set for 8:00 am because we had a 9:40 am appointment with the OB/GYN). I agreed that was a good plan because I wasn’t sure whether or not I was having contractions. AND I knew if my water had broken and I wasn’t having contractions that we had to call the hospital immediately. AND if I was having contractions that this was the first thing the doctor or hospital would ask me.
So I put a folded up towel down on the bed to protect the mattress and laid down to time the contractions. After lying there for about an hour, I had determined I was having contractions about 10 minutes apart. Good thing I had emailed the owners of the yoga studio (they lived in California) I worked at to cancel my two classes for that day, Wednesday. Once I knew I was having contractions I texted my sister in Seattle and asked her to call and update my mom in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Gregg and Coco were sound asleep.
Thanks for the support, guys.
As I timed the contractions over the next hour I noted that the contractions progressed towards eight minutes apart. At 7:00 am Gregg got up and we started packing bags for the hospital. Since we hadn’t unpacked from skiing, it was pretty easy to transfer over toiletries and clothes. At this point I texted my kine (physical therapist), Wini, to let her know that I would not be in class that day and that I would like her to attend the birth.
A quick side note: In Belgium insurance pays for a kine, which is basically the same as a physical therapist. Depending on the insurance you get a certain number of sessions before the birth and a certain number of sessions after the birth. They can also attend the birth, depending on the rules of the hospital. The bottom line, kines are A-Mazing!!
So, Wini receives my text and immediately calls me. She tells me that I should head to the hospital because my water broke and the baby was early. She says I don’t have to rush, but that I should head there as soon as possible. She says this is such a way, that it is clear we should already be at the hospital. I called the OB/GYN to confirm we should head straight to the hospital and he agreed. He also said that we should take our time, but not too much time. Two medical professionals were doing their best to keep me calm, but at the same time imparting on me that I needed to be at the hospital already.
Come to find out later that when your water breaks you should not pass Go, not collect $200, but proceed immediately to the hospital.
So, not get back in bed and chill out like I did.
Dually noted for the future.
We arrived at the hospital, Edith Cavell, at about 9:00 am. This part was definitely not like in the movies. No one met us at the door with a wheelchair. I had to waddle about a kilometre from the parking structure to the maternity ward. And once we got there we needed to sit in a waiting room until a nurse came out to get us. I was having a baby!! Where was the urgency!? Turns out, that excitement came later.
So, the midwife took me to a delivery room to check that I was really in labor and that my water really had broken. Both of these things were in fact correct. While the midwife was getting me situated, Gregg went down to check me into the hospital. Wini arrived about 10:00 am, which was perfect timing. I was really starting to get nervous about trying to delivery the baby without her. I didn’t remember any of the breathing or positions that we had practiced in prenatal classes.
Skipping ahead to around 12:00 pm
Wini told Gregg to go get some coffee since it would probably still be a while until the baby was born. He left to go move the car and get the rest of the bags.
After he left my contractions kept progressing, and were feeling very strong. I wasn’t a hero. I told the midwife that if I wasn’t dilated to 8 cm, then I was going to need an epidural. The midwife told me that I was at 9cm, which explained why I was experiencing such a strong sensation.
This is when the panic started occurring.
Gregg wasn’t back yet. It had only been 45 minutes, but everyone in the room started freaking out that he wouldn’t be back and time and miss the birth. We could have called his cell phone. I mean, obviously not me. But Wini had his cell phone number, so she could have called. Anyways, Gregg returned before I started pushing.
Here things get a little fuzzy for me because pushing is hard work. But I think it was about 45 minutes until Miller was born. Gregg helped hold a cold cloth on my forehead and an oxygen mask over my face between pushes. And Wini and the midwife were coaching me with my pushing.
At a point, the doctor realized that M’s left arm was tucked up along his side and stuck there because the umbilical cord was wrapped around it. This resulted in him being stuck in the birth canal. So, the doctor went to get the forceps.
But Wini gave it to me straight. She said that using forceps with a baby born early had risks. She said we had two more pushes to get him out or the doctor would use the forceps. So I pushed with all my might, which Wini and the midwife pushed on M’s feet.
AND OUT HE CAME! YEAH!!
He was covered in goo and slightly strange colours… But he was here and he was mine.
I only got to hold him for a few minutes before the paediatrician took him to examine. And then he was taken up to the NICU. Gregg went with him to make sure everything was okay, which it was.
He was a perfectly healthy and just needed a little help getting started in the world.
But more on that in a future blog post.
Have you shared your birth story before? Share your story in the comments below!
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