Birth Story: Part I

Sloane turned 5 months yesterday. There has been so many special moments in these last several months. So many firsts and I know that this is just the beginning. I am already amazed at how fast she is changing.

this was taken during our Saturday AM snuggle session.

At last, I am finally going to share my birth story....

I will preface my birth story with what I feel are a couple of important points. While this is an extremely personal and special occasion for my family, I want to share our experience with those of you who are interested. I realize not everyone will want to read this, so consider this your warning of what is to follow. My main objective in sharing our birth story is to share an experience that was truly magical. Imagine, childbirth being magical!

I am sharing MY story to educate and encourage those of you who might be pregnant, might soon become pregnant, are considering working with a midwife or doula or may even want to know more about a home birth. Again, this is MY story and it is truly unique. I want you to take this story for what it is. I am not trying to compare myself to anyone else, and hope that you won’t do that either. I want to share what a positive natural birthing experience can be like.

I realize that we all have different ideas and expectations when you go into labor. For example, some women are passionate about having a natural birth and don’t want any interventions (Pitocin, epidural, etc.) where as other women want an epidural the minute they register at the hospital. Either way is great, it is ultimately a very personal decision. But even so, regardless of our goals sometimes things don’t go according to plan and there are complications. I think it’s safe to say that every woman cares about the health and safety of their child and themselves – and that is what is most important.

In my opinion, society is jaded by what we see on television and in the movies. Typically, we see a woman screaming bloody murder and cursing at her husband, nurses and doctors. I'm not convinced that this is the greatest way to welcome a child into the world. A child’s birth is so immensely special and that is why I want to share my experience. Rest assure, there aren't too many gory details or images. I am going to break this up into three parts that I will share with you throughout the week. I also plan on discussing more topics such as breastfeeding, post-pregnancy eating and workouts, etc. in the coming weeks.

Anyone who has had a child knows how different each woman’s labor and delivery experience are. We all have different birthing preferences. Some like to call it a birth plan, but I would caution that this may not be the best perspective or wording since our “birth plan” may not always go as we hope it will.

I will say this. I am in absolute awe of what the body and mind are capable of. I have such an appreciation and respect for all women that have given birth – no matter how it happened. What a process pregnancy, labor and delivery are. I could not be more in love with my husband who was an amazing birthing coach on the day that Sloane was born. And I could not be more in love with this very special little girl. The following is Sloane’s birth story of how she made her grande entrance into the world.

My due date came and went on June 27th. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. All this anticipation after 40 weeks of being pregnant and I still had to wait to meet this little person – grrrr! I was aware that it is common for first pregnancies to go over term but I was doing everything in my power to speed up the process. I had acupuncture done at week 38, the midwives performed a stretch and sweep (procedure to help the cervix prepare for delivery), I was eating a lot of pineapple, drinking my red raspberry leaf tea and making love to my husband as much as possible leading up to the due date and in the subsequent days that followed.

Large and in-charge at 40 weeks. Sloane was born 5 days later.

In hindsight, I think one of the best parts about our whole experience is that my husband and I shared a very special secret. We planned on having our baby at home, in a birthing tub.

In our first trimester we talked about our delivery options after being taken on by the Stratford Midwives. During this time I was back and forth between Syracuse, NY where my husband was working and our home in St.Pauls, Ontario. I saw an OB in Syracuse and when I was at home would check in with my primary midwife, Evelyn. Once the words “home birth” crossed our lips to friends and family {most} looked at us with utter shock and fear. Two of my best friends are Respiratory Therapists who see “worst case scenario” in a hospital setting when a child is born. They thought we would be making a very poor choice if we had our baby at home. I now believe that both Mark and I, as well as everyone we spoke too was mostly uninformed about what a home birth was all about.

Following the reaction we received from most of the people around us, we were beginning to wonder if we were being selfish and putting our child’s life {and mine} at risk for no reason. We then decided that we would have the best of both worlds – aim for a natural birth, with our midwives at the Stratford General Hospital {that is 10 minutes from our home}. To be honest, we never re-visited the subject until we had a private prenatal class with a local {AMAZING} chiropractor, Dr.Tanya Chambers when I was almost 37 weeks pregnant. We had a 4 hours crash course on all things about labor and delivery. Dr.Tanya herself had two home births but she certainly didn't push the point. She educated us on the different stages of labor, anatomy + physiological changes that the body goes through during labor, ways that Mark could help me to cope during different phases of labor, areas around our home that would create a comfortable setting to deal with the contractions - and so much more. She also suggested we watch two DVD’s. The first was called "The Business of Being Born", and the second  was called "Organic Birth". These two DVD’s ended up having a rather large impact on both of us. When we were done watching them we looked at each other and both said that if we were candidates for a home birth – that’s what we were going to do.

At that moment we also decided not to tell anyone. We knew that if we made our mind up it really didn't matter what anyone else thought. I sure as heck knew that I needed all the mental strength I had in order to have a successful natural delivery. The added stress of other peoples opinions would surely only add doubt in our minds  - something we did not want. We had a secret and that was kind of fun!

At our next midwives appointment a couple of days later we asked if I would be a candidate for a home birth and Evelyn our primary midwife was overjoyed. This is ultimately what she is trained to do. My pregnancy went extremely well, the baby was in the head down position and in her nearly 15 years of experience she felt I was an excellent candidate to have our baby at home. We walked out of the appointment with the birthing tub kit and headed home to set it up in the bedroom. We inflated the tub, had the hose nearby and I set up all the other items that the midwives recommended having so that we were ready when it was go-time!

Plastic is down, old sheets on the bed, the birthing tub is inflated and other random supplies such as towels are accessible.

We are feeling ready!

To say that our families were excited for the newest addition is a complete understatement. My due date fell right around the birthdays of my father and my mother-in-law. There were some side bets going on to see whose birthday she would be born on.  It was the Canada Day long weekend and we had a couple of birthday celebrations. Sloane was born on Monday, July 2nd right smack dab between her granny and pappa's birthdays. Apparently she wanted her own special day.

We returned home on the Sunday evening and went to bed. I woke up around 12:30 AM that Monday morning with what I thought was a contraction. I think for your first pregnancy you really have no idea of what contractions and the delivery might feel like. I was pretty sure they were contractions when they started and they seemed to last about 30 seconds or so and be about 15 minutes apart. Following the advice of the midwives I tried to go back to sleep because I knew I was going to have to save my energy. I really felt so much excitement knowing that things were starting to happen. I was able to doze off and on for about 5 hours and finally at about 5:30 AM got up to have a shower.

When I got back in the bedroom I woke Mark up and told him that I had been having contractions all night. I think it’s safe to say that we were both nervous and excited. We laid in bed for a little while before heading downstairs to have breakfast. It is a great idea to take the time to eat and hydrate as much as you can before labor becomes more intense so that your body and mind has the fuel it needs to perform.

The contractions were starting to get closer together at this point but were still about 12-15 minutes apart. While we were having breakfast we downloaded this sweet app that would time the contractions – AMAZING! I would highly recommend this as it was super helpful through the rest of the day for both of us. Mark then suggested that we go for a walk over to our wonderful neighbours house around 9 AM – my brother and sister-in-laws. Keep in mind this is a good distance since we are country bumpkins. We continued to time the contractions and I recall they were already starting to get closer together and feel heavier {re: more painful}. I found it helpful every time I had a contraction to slightly bend over and sway my hips from side to side. It was such a hot day, but we had a nice little chat with Mike and Holly and then headed back across the road. We had asked to borrow a pipe wrench. We needed this to be able to attach the hose in the upstairs bathroom to fill the birthing tub. Mark made up a little white lie about why he needed it – see how sneaky we were ;)

At that point I pretty much set up shop in the living room. I had the couch, my yoga mat and stability ball to help ease the contraction pains. For a little while Mark helped by doing some of the things we discussed in our prenatal class. He pressed down on my sacrum through the contractions or would push my hips together and I must admit it helped ease some of the pain.  Around 11 AM I told Mark there wasn't much he could do to help me out, so he kept himself busy outside. He later told me that he felt like he was in the way and wasn't sure of what to do. To be honest, it was just nice to know that he was close by if I needed him.

Again, following the midwives recommendations, I tried to nap between contractions. I laid on the couch with my phone in one hand timing the contractions, focusing on deep breathing and dozing off when I could...

Okay – That’s Part 1. Part 2 will be on Wednesday.

Thanks for reading friends. Have a fabulous week.