My eldest son’s birth was an adventure in acceptance. Accepting my first birthing for exactly what it was and exactly what it was not. But this is not his story even though it greatly impacted how I wanted my second experience giving birth to go.
I found I was pregnant for a second time on my birthday July 1, 2011 at about 5:30am. This was a heck of a surprise as even though I had thought I was pregnant I had also miscarried about 2 weeks earlier. With such a muddled beginning I met with midwives for the first time not really able to say when the first day of my last period was and so was sent for an ultrasound which confirmed I was pregnant and with only one baby. The one baby thing was a question because I was growing quite rapidly but there was just one little bean in there.
Other than massive morning sickness that never went away, I had a good, NORMAL pregnancy. As we got nearer to the due date there was much talk about whether I would get to have my home birth, which I desperately wanted. See everything went wrong with my first birth, it was very quickly taken out of my control and felt as though it was something that happened to me, something I survived (in a very real way as I was quite ill as a result) and I did not want a repeat of that. I wanted it on my terms, but more precisely on my body’s terms. I wanted to go into labour when my body was ready not because of some preset due date or someone else’s schedule. I wanted to labour freely, moving around, not in the bed with upwards of seven IVs in my arms. I wanted to birth how my body felt it needed to birth not based on what the computers screen showed based on the screw attached to my baby’s skull. I wanted to hold my baby after the birth and let my baby nurse when and how it pleased. I wanted to be anywhere but in a hospital with an epidural and all manner of drugs forcing my body to birth.
And I got it.
I had to fight for my home birth, jump through hoops and peel back red tape and reassure everyone under the sun from my midwives to my family to the OB that was consulting me that the were no signs of the illness from my first pregnancy. For the last 6 weeks before I gave birth I went to the hospital 1-3 times a week for ultrasounds and stress tests and blood work and consults. Every time I was warned that if things came back funny, in the slightest, hell if someone had a bad feeling that things MIGHT be funny whether the numbers said it or not, my home birth was off. One of the biggest obstacles was if I went past due, which of course I did, they made me schedule an induction which was set for Monday the 20th. d’Artagnan was born Thursday the 15th and come that following Monday I did a little jig because I was not in the hospital.
I had early signs of labour beginning February 29, contractions that lasted for 30-40 seconds, every 3 mins. That lasted for weeks. Everyday I would wake up, look and my birthing tub hanging out in our very rearranged bedroom and hope that this was the day labour would turn the corner. I woke up at 3am on the 15th of March and knew the contractions were different. I was stupid excited and even though I knew I should sleep I couldn’t so I did what any labouring woman would do, go downstairs, fold the last load of laundry that needed doing and watched Firefly until my Luc and Léo woke up. Léo was packed off to daycare with plans of who would take him home so he wasn’t underfoot if things went long or got crazy and the midwives were contacted, Game On!
be warned; things be graphic from here on out!
The original plan was for Me to try and nap for a bit then Luc would take me to the midwives around noon for a check see of my progress. Our nap came to an abrupt halt around 10am as I felt something ‘pop’ inside and ran to the washroom in case it was my water. It wasn’t. It was a whole flood of runny mucus. Really gross. I had lost my mucus plug twice already during the previous weeks of predomal labour but this was again, different. Then my contractions changed very suddenly and low and behold excruciating back pain!
That was my welcome to birth number two with back labour. If you’ve never experienced it let me describe it. There are contractions happening but you know what? Contractions are a relief from the back labour that directly precedes them. It’s really awful, and once it starts it just goes, at least for me. Our wonderful doula was called and then the midwives were called and it was made Abundantly clear that I would be going no where thank you very much, they could come to me.
For the next hour and a half I laboured and it went by in a flash, even with the back labour. The midwives came and checked me and I was a whole 2cm dilated. Not huge progress, but it still meant this was it, baby was coming as I had been sealed tight as a drum for the two previous weeks of contractions. They went on their way and planned to come back after lunch, in a few hours.
After they left I just kept on going and it was no fun.
I had a little trail of buckets and toddler potties that led from our living room to our washroom as I was puking with most every contraction. We had prepared for a natural labour by taking hypnobirthing classes and I truly believe they are what got me thru this horrific back labour. I had had months of being repeatedly told to trust my body, believe in my body, and I did. I had trained myself to relax in a multitude of different ways and I did it. I knew different ways to relieve the pain and I used them. All the time a little voice in my head told me I can’t do this any more and I would throttle it, puke a little more then tell that little voice I CAN do it and then I would say out loud I am doing this. And my doula and Luc would repeat it and tell me how proud they were of me.
I remember talking myself out of throwing the towel in and going to the hospital and begging for drugs by thinking about things practically; I’d have to get in the car. The would be a seat belt hold me down so I couldn’t stand and sway like I’d been doing because it felt so good. I’d have to check in. When I got there, I’d have to take an elevator up and get admitted. I’d have to be seen by a doc and then I could ask for an epidural. By the time I’d thought through all that I’d had four more contractions and decided it was more trouble than it was worth.
I was doing this.
My water broke at 1:20ish pm and I went into the next stage of labour, transition, really quickly. We called the midwives, they said I could get into the birthing tub and they’d be on their way. Now transition is when you dilate from about 8cm to the full 10cm which means in an hour and a half I had dilated at least 6cm. Looking back that should have been a clue things were moving rather fast. Ah 20/20 hind sight, how cruel you are!
Transition was not much fun but oh for the love of God did it feel good getting into that water! We had rented a heated birthing tub that was a good 5ft in diametre and went up to my sternum when I sat down. Lots of room to move, lots of water to soak in. It was amazing. Unfuckingbelievable. I recommend giving birth in the water to everyone who can. It felt so good in that water. There was still pain mind you, but the contractions were spaced much farther apart at that point and the water was incredible relief as I rested between them.
Soon after getting into the water I though I was going to poo. See that often happens in labour and in the hospital the nurses get to clean it up but at home in the water, they give you a little scooper a lot like the one for fish tanks so you can just scoop it up if it happens. So I’m warning Luc and my doula Jean that I feel this and then when the next contraction comes I get a little grunty. I think it is because of this impending poo issue but Jean and Luc are a little suspicious that perhaps I am pushing my baby out instead. No, no I assure them between grunts, I just need to poo.
They don’t buy it and Luc calls the midwives again, a little frantic that they Aren’t There Yet! They are on their way the assure him and he comes back to me loudly moaning and screaming my way through contractions that always seem to end up grunty even though I am still insisting I am Not Pushing. I can’t be pushing, the midwives aren’t there yet so obviously I will not be having a baby until they get there so please believe me that I need to poo!
Jean quite calmly reminds me that she has in fact delivered babies before so it is ok if I need to push.
I guess I’m pushing.
The midwives show up in a mad rush after another more frantic call is made, she’s pushing! When they get there medical equipment is flung across our bed and gloves are snapped on while they try to catch their breath and oh would you look at that, the baby is crowning.
At this point I could care less what is going on around me as I am circling around the edge of the birthing tub, widdershins no less, stopping only to push, now that I have admitted I am doing it. And I push loudly. Very loudly. I am not silent birther.
The midwife tells me I have to push through the pain and push the baby out, but I was pushing so long as I had the urge to push and stopped when the urge stopped, it wasn’t due to pain. I should have said that but instead I just listened to her and pushed through the next one and birthed my baby.
Up into my arms came this little squalling bundle and a very teary, happy, wonderful Luc told me in French that I had a son. He was the only one who knew the sex, had known for 5 months at that point and I named my new little human d’Artagnan and Luc put his little hat on. I had insisted he buy a properly coloured hat, pink or blue dependant on his super secret knowledge. It was so big on his tiny head!
The next few hours were amazing, I held my little boy on my chest and touched every tiny, perfect, beautiful part of him. His little ears were covered in soft, soft, fuzzy hair. He had a little birth mark on his left bum cheek. He had a whole head of hair! Dark, soft hair and lots and lots of it! Unlike his older brother who was a cue ball for nearly a year and a half.
There was one small surprise, when I delivered my placenta, I actually delivered two. My little d’Artagnan was a twin. I wasn’t really surprised, it was something tossed around early on because of how fast I grew and how bad my morning sickness was, and the was the weirdness that I had thought I’d miscarried. Turns out I had, I lost one baby almost two weeks before I found out I was pregnant. I ache a little that tomorrow I celebrate the birthday of only one child when there used to be two. I’ll probably hug my small son tightly and take a quiet moment for his lost sibling. It is this child that seems missing to me that has me wonder about having a third baby. We will see. I’ll just remember that baby tomorrow and someday I’ll tell my little son about his twin.
Anyway, back to the birth. The midwives did all their checks while he was laying on me, I changed my mind about his middle name at least three times, and after about an hour or so there was my tiny babe nursing from my breast. It was amazing. There was this little bubble of joy and safety surrounding me and my new little boy. Luc got in some skin to skin time, I worried about everyone having a cup of tea and then a few hours later our little house was quiet and we were home with our tiny new human.
Ok. I could blather on about the happy, happy, joy, joy ad naseum but I guess you’ve gotten it. And really I guess I just don’t know how to end a birth story.
I wanted a homebirth. I got it.
I wanted natural labour. I got it.
I wanted to birth in the water. I did.
Here we are one year later, with a walking, smiling, beautiful little elf. With a big brother who loves him dearly. All is well.
d’Artagnan James Montaño Charron
Born at home, in the water
3:03pm March 15, 2012
21 inches long