On this day last year I woke up feeling normal. But sometime mid-morning, things started happening. I still didn't know what to expect. Other women had told me that when you're in real labour, you KNOW. There is no wondering. I guess I was just waiting to *know* that this was it.
I started noticing surges probably around 9am. I was sitting at the kitchen table when I felt it. Not at all uncomfortable, just weird. They just kinda continued, at the time I wasn't even sure what it was but was sure something was going on.
Probably at around lunchtime I emailed Tyler just to tell him that I thought I was having contractions. How silly, I didn't even know for sure! I emailed my doula as well to give her the head's up. It was my suspicion that things were getting started, and that F was going to be born the following day sometime.
I remember asking Annabel, my midwife, when I should call her. She had said to go by the 411 rule - surges 4mins apart, lasting 1min, for 1hr already. After lunch I lay down on the couch to see if I could get an idea of what was going on. They were still really mild, I mean I noticed them but I did have to stay still to really feel them. They were about 5mins apart, but only about 30secs or so. I put T down for a nap and took a little snooze myself.
When I woke up I didn't really feel anything. So I figured it wasn't the real deal just yet.
The surges started up again probably at about 3pm, and stronger than before. But they were only coming about every 10mins or longer this time. At about 4pm I remember taking T to the park, and I would have to slow down when I felt one coming on.
For the rest of the evening I went about business as usual, still not entirely sure if I was properly in labour, or if things were going to taper off and stop. So I hadn't called the midwife. At about 7pm though I thought I should call Tyler and tell him to come home, so I did. I told him I thought that things were starting and baby would come the next day, so he better come home but there was no rush. I also emailed my doula again to tell her the same thing.
After putting T to bed I got comfy sitting on my exercise ball and turned on the tv. I got a clock out just to see what was going on. Surges were still only about 10mins apart and for 30-45secs. I didn't call the midwife yet because I was still waiting according to that stupid 411 rule she told me!
Funny enough, the movie Parenthood was on tv at about 8:30. Of course I wanted to watch it because it's one of my favorite movies. It's classic, and was appropriate for what I was going through that's for sure. I spent the entire evening parked on my ball, watching the movie and chatting with my friend Samara on Facebook. She was my osteopath so I messaged her to say what's up and she asked if I was in labour. I said maybe! I was watching the clock and they were still 10mins apart, 45secs all evening long. They were most definitely stronger but still totally manageable.
Parenthood ended at 11:30 and Tyler still wasn't home yet. I figured I would probably go to bed soon and try to get some rest as things would likely pick up in the morning. While I was waiting for Tyler to get home, I decided to put on my hypnobirthing cds.
Tyler finally arrived home at about 12:20am, and things had picked up. I knew this was the real thing. Surges were still only 10mins apart though, but stronger. I asked Tyler to put the tens machine on my back and I lay on the couch to breathe through the contractions.
I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know why I hadn't called the midwife at that point, but suddenly not long after Tyler came home things were getting really intense. At 1am he said he was calling the midwife. Annabel was actually off so he called our backup, Marlene. As soon as she got on the phone with me she asked "Why am I only getting a call NOW?" I didn't know what to say! I didn't think things were going that fast up until that point. Originally we thought the midwife and doula would come to the house, but she said that unless I wanted to have the baby at home I needed to get to the hospital asap.
Tyler called my brother Mike and his (ex) girlfriend Kris to come over to stay with T. We had told them to be ready just in case! They got to our house in good time and we left for the hospital. I just remember sitting in the passenger seat, trying to make it through each surge as they got stronger and stronger. It was getting really hard to manage by that point.
It was around 2am when we arrived at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Tyler dropped me off at emergency and someone took me up to L&D in a wheelchair. Marlene arrived shortly after and examined me, and we were shocked to hear I was already 9cm dilated! Kelly, our doula, arrived shortly after.
Everything was such a blur. I remember, not thinking "I wish I could have an epidural!" because I knew it was too late for that, but thinking "next time I'm getting an epidural!", ha ha! I don't actually remember feeling like I had to push, but I did say I wanted to because I think I just wanted to get on with it. In hindsight it probably would have been better to breathe through a few more contractions without pushing. At that point though I was crawling out of my skin with every surge.
I pushed for a little over and hour but it felt like an eternity. And with every push and contraction I do remember thinking I couldn't do it anymore, or wondering why he wasn't coming out. It was hard, and scary. I pushed with everything I had because I just wanted it to be over. I was so tired.
Finally, at 3:33am on Friday, April 30, Finley John was born. They put him on me and he was the cutest, chubbiest, little thing. And he had a mop of black hair which was awesome, because T was almost completely bald at birth! He was so sweet and cuddly, right from the start. He weighed in at 8lbs 4oz.
The following hour and a bit was a nightmare. In addition to having had an episiotomy, I had also tore very badly in several places. Marlene used freezing for the repair but it didn't do a damn thing, and I felt everything. I think it ended up being a more complicated tear than even she initially thought, but once she had gotten started it was really too late for any other kind of pain relief, so she kept on going. That was the worst part ever. I was so tired by that point, and just wanted to rest, but I had to lie there wimpering while she stitched me up. That hour, I definitely don't care to recount.
Once all was done though I had my little F and everything was perfect. He was perfect. And he latched and breastfed like a pro right from the start. We spent the remainder of the early morning hours snuggling and snoozing.
I could have gone home as early at 7am, but I didn't feel quite ready. Everytime I tried to get up I felt nauseous, so it took me some time to get my legs back. Once I could finally shower I felt so much better.
It was unbelieveable though how fast everything happened. I spent almost the entire day in labour without knowing it was real labour, and then when things picked up it happened in a flash. If Tyler had gotten home any later I don't know what would have happened! I didn't even have time to change my clothes and gave birth in the shirt I had been wearing all day (actually, funny enough I just looked down and am wearing that same shirt right now!). All the time before I was worried about hospital protocol, and the OBs on call insisting I have my IV prep and whatnot, and here it happened so fast that none of that even happened. I didn't even see a single doctor while I was there.
The midwives and doula were fantastic, and so was Tyler. I know I was a wreck but they talked me through the whole thing. Marlene said that an hour of pushing for a first time delivery was actually pretty good! She was apologetic for the episiotomy and the tear, but it's not like it was her fault. Again though, in hindsight I probably could have saved myself that nasty tear had I asked to deliver in a different position, instead of on my back. It was just such a blur, I didn't want to move from the bed. Ah well, live and learn. I'll know for next time (if there is a next time!).
Finally by lunchtime I was feeling well enough to go home. We packed up our stuff and our new baby, and hit the road. It was amazing to get to go home so soon, one of the perks of having a midwife instead of a doctor.
When we got home T was just eating lunch with Uncle Mike and Auntie Kris. We introduced him to his new brother and he wasn't even phased. As far as T was concerned it was just another day. He had gone to bed, slept all night, woke up to his favorite aunt and uncle, and was just enjoying life as usual. That's my Big Guy, so wonderfully adaptable!
F slipped right into our family perfectly, and by the time we got home it was like nothing had changed and we continued on with life. Except everything had changed. It was wonderful.
Our midwives were fantastic, and I was so happy with both the care during pregnancy and the delivery. Both Annabel and Marlene were amazing.
My recovery after having F was rough. In fact, if you ask me what was easier, my c-section or my VBAC, I will most definitely tell you my c-section was easier in every sense! From delivery all the way through my recovery. The tear and episiotomy took a long time to heal and I was very uncomfortable for weeks. The stitches did not dissolve on their own and I had to have them removed, which was not fun at all.
The weeks following F's birth were not easy. Not just because of having a new baby, but a week after he was born was when we packed up and moved from Toronto to out here. Talk about mega life changes! So there I was, with a newborn and a toddler, trying to recover with almost no support or help, in a new town. Add to it that F was a very fussy baby and we dealt with early food intolerances and reflux issues. It made for a very hard transition.
But we got there in the end!
Even despite the less than great parts, I loved F's birth. I love reliving just about every aspect (minus the tear and repair!). I'm still in awe that I managed to go through almost the entire labour on my own, and basically without even knowing it. It really wasn't that bad until the very end!
I got my VBAC, and I got my unmedicated, natural birth experience. It was amazing, and F was so worth it. I really, really would do it again in a heartbeat (and despite thinking it at the time, no I would not opt for the epidural next time!)
Oh, and remember how I said in my previous post that I visualized F's birth so much that I dreamt it? Well, how I dreamt it is how it happened, right down to what he looked like! If you want something bad enough, make it happen!
Mommy and F
Mommy and her two boys
Snugglebug - he is still a snuggler to this day
With Marlene, later at home the same day of the birth