Today is my oldest daughter’s birthday. This is the girl who launched me into the adventure of a lifetime that we call “motherhood”.
All my life all I wanted was to be a mommy with lots of babies. When I was little I would play house with my two sisters. They would be the two oldest daughters. Then we had a doll that was about three feet tall and looked like a little girl – not a baby – so that was the next child. Then we had another baby that looked like a toddler, and of course, there was always a baby doll. So I would always have at least five children.
The pregnancy was rather uneventful after the first trimester. Before we married we had plans to go down to Venezuela on a mission trip for the months of January and February. By the time we arrived I was about eight weeks pregnant. Let’s just say that heat, humidity and unfamiliar foods don’t do anything for morning sickness.
I ended up spending most of our nine weeks there in bed. My husband enjoyed passing out tracts on the street, playing baseball with the street boys that the missionary and his wife were reaching out to, and our visit to the jungle. Actually, the visit for the jungle was the highlight for me too. It wasn’t as hot as the city, and we were staying with the missionary and his wife who ate foods I was used to.
I really enjoyed being pregnant, watching my middle grow rounder and bigger, feeling the baby move and kick. I didn’t like the stretch marks but didn’t complain because it all meant I was soon going to hold my very own baby.
I was blessed to have wonderful midwives (We have a wonderful school of midwifery here in Ontario, Canada). I was planning on a home birth – something I had dreamed about having for years.
My due date of August 28th came and went. By now my mother-in-law had come up to visit us and hopefully meet the baby. I really started to feel the pressure to have this baby before she had to leave again. I had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions which I kept telling myself was a good thing for helping move things along once labour started.
I had an appointment with my midwife on September 2nd where she did a stretch and sweep. For the rest of the afternoon and evening I had light contractions. I was starting to get excited because they were light but fairly regular.
I went to bed knowing I needed to sleep and save my strength for when labour started. It was hard to sleep, but I finally did. Around 2 a.m. the next morning I woke up with what I realized were the real deal. I waited through several contractions timing them before calling my midwife. Looking back now I really didn’t need to call her so soon, but what did I know with my first?
Around six that morning my midwife came over along with my parents and youngest sister. I was so disappointed to hear that I was only three centimetres. It’s been seventeen years since all of this happened so the events are a little fuzzy now.
I do know that sometime that morning my parents and mother-in-law came into the bedroom to see me and tell me that they loved me and then went back to my parents’ home to wait for the news. My sister stayed to help.
For a while things moved along rather slowly. Then they started to pick up, and the baby started moving – a lot. Every time she moved another contraction would start. I was so tired of it that I do remember at one point asking my husband to pray that she would stop moving.
Sometime in the afternoon I stopped dilating. The midwives decided to have me change my position every twenty minutes to see if there was a position that would encourage my body to dilate. It was excruciating. My contractions were double and triple peaking and just felt endless.
Finally in the early evening my midwives suggested I move to the hospital where I could get some pain relief. This was so far from what I had planned but at this point I didn’t care. I just wanted the pain to go away.
At the time we were living in an apartment above a pizza shop. To get to the car I had to walk down two long flights of steps. I remember standing frozen at the top of the first stairs. My midwife asked me what I was doing. I said, “I’m waiting for this contraction to stop.” She informed me (nicely but firmly) that that wasn’t going to happen and I just needed to get going.
We made it to the hospital but not without me throwing up. And then we waited. It took about an hour before I could be given an epidural, but it felt about ten times that long. Then the relief, the blessed relief. I honestly felt like I was on a high the freedom from pain was that intense. It was the most amazing sensation to watch my contractions on the monitor but not feel them.
That’s when the troubles started though. The baby’s heart rate plummeted to sixty beats per minute. The midwife massaged her scalp for about ten minutes before the heart rate came back up. In the meantime they had put an oxygen mask on me and told me to breathe deeply to get some good oxygen for the baby.
All this time I knew things were bad on one level. On another level though I was so giddy with being pain free that I didn’t really realize just how bad things were. I think the Lord used this to keep me calm because any tension I experienced would have had a negative affect on the baby.
My husband, unknown to me, was in the hallway crying and calling our pastor asking for prayer. That night was our prayer meeting night at church. I know God heard the prayers and brought our baby’s heartbeat back where it was supposed to be.
After things settled down the midwife suggested I try to rest and let my body do its job. So I did. I dozed with my husband sleeping in a reclining chair next to me.
About an hour later though the midwife came in and asked me to eat a popsicle she had brought with her. She’d been watching the monitor on the baby and felt like the baby was sleeping which they didn’t want to see. She was hoping the sugary blast would wake the baby up. Nothing.
Shortly after the midwife came back in with a doctor. I knew then what was going to happen – I was going from my dreamed of homebirth to its exact opposite a surgical birth. At that point though I didn’t care. I just wanted my baby born.
The doctor explained that due to several factors he thought a caesarean was in order: 1) the baby’s stress when I was given the epidural 2) the fact that the baby was sleeping and not waking up – another sign of stress 3) I still was not dilated past six cm in spite of still having strong contractions and 4) the baby was face up – not an optimal position for birth. Let me just say here that when I started labour she was face down, but remember all the wiggling? She had spun herself around into a poor position for labour and birth.
I had perfect peace that this was the right thing and willingly signed all of the release forms. Things progressed quickly and before I knew it I was in the OR.
Here another problem came up. My body does not react well to pain relievers in any form. They don’t work super well on me. The epidural had taken away all of my pain except for a small dime-sized pocket of pain – weird, eh? Now that they were topping up the epidural in preparation for the surgery I had to tell them that I could still feel things. The anaesthesiologist insisted that I was just feeling pressure, but I knew better. Anyway, I decided not to say anything more. It wasn’t horrible just not super comfortable.
Now the funny part – All the time that the doctors were working on me I, of course, could not see what was happening because of the screen that was up, but I could hear the doctors talking. They were saying things like “Oh, he has a big head” or “Looks like he’s going to be big like his daddy”. I had no idea that the baby was not born yet and thought I had a son. Then my husband yelled, “It’s a girl!” Let’s just say I was a little confused. ☺
The doctors handed the baby to my midwife who quickly weighed and wrapped her up and then handed him to my husband. My husband was so excited he was walking out of the room to show our parents and my sister without letting me see my daughter. I called him back and got a quick glimpse of this baby who had now made me officially a mommy.
Later in the recovery room the midwives helped me get her started nursing. It all felt so surreal. I couldn’t believe that this was me, laying in a bed and nursing a baby. All of my dreams were complete. Well, except for those dreams of lots of children. Those would have to wait for now. Taking in just this one was overwhelming and wonderful all at once.
Now in what feels like just a few seconds she has gone from being a helpless newborn with a clueless mom to being the oldest of eight and recently becoming our first high school graduate. She loves books, and is an aspiring writer with one or two or three blogs. Her main blog is Coffee, Classics and Craziness. She’s beautiful, talented, a deep-thinker, and I’m fiercely proud of her.