May 23 was our baby’s guess date. That same day I had my 40 week maternity appointment with Dr. Cardinal. She did her regular blood pressure check and listened to baby’s heartbeat. Everything looked great so off I went. She had mentioned that around June 2 if baby hadn’t arrived that we would discuss induction but I really hoped it wouldn’t come down to that.
6 days went by and I was waiting very patiently every day for any sign of my birthing time. Thursday evening, May 29, I decided to call up a friend to go to a movie. Ella was at the lake with Oma and Chris was working so I thought I should take advantage of my free time and have a little outing. I had napped twice that day so I was very well rested. The movie (we watched “Neighbours” by the way!) was over before 9PM so I came home and went to bed.
A few minutes before midnight, while sleeping, I was wakened by a “gush” of fluid. I immediately got out of bed and realized that must have been my “water” breaking. It wasn’t much fluid, so fortunately there was really no mess to clean up. I waited about 20 minutes and didn’t notice any pressure waves or other changes, so I gathered a few last things for my hospital bag and went back to bed.
I was in and out of a light sleep for over an hour or two (I don’t clearly remember the timeline!) when I began having light pressure waves, I began listening to my “Easy First Stage” Hypnobabies track. I do know that the pressure waves were approximately 20 minutes apart. I had probably 3 or 4 of these waves and then they started to become more frequent. I found the most comfortable position for me was on my knees with my bum in the air and my face and arms draped over several pillows. The waves were very comfortable.
Somewhere between 5-5:30AM I remember thinking that I had not cleared my bowels and didn’t want to have a mess at the hospital. I went to the bathroom in hopes of clearing things out! In the meantime, I was experiencing waves on the toilet. It was not a very comfortable position for me and I was breathing deeply. Apparently my husband, who was still in bed, heard my deep breathing and realized the waves were coming very frequently. Once I was finished in the bathroom, he asked me the frequency and length of the waves. I replied that I was unable to keep track and that I wanted to have a shower. Chris disagreed and said no, let’s get to the hospital. I said I was fine and that I would shower quickly.
The waves started coming really quickly and I kept changing my mind about the shower. Finally I jumped in and the hot water felt so great. I also took the exercise ball in with me so I could drape my body over it while on my knees if necessary during a wave. In the meantime, Chris called our doula, although I was concerned that we were calling her too early in the morning. I didn’t want to waste her time and be at the hospital for hours and hours before the baby was born. It was a good thing he called her.
Chris loaded my 20 pillows (okay there were only 4!), blankets, and other “stuff” in the truck and sped off to the hospital. I wore my headphones and constantly listened to my “Easy First Stage” track. I was in the back of the truck with pillows stacked on the seats, knees on the floor and body draped over the pillows. I was very relaxed this way.
We arrived at the hospital at exactly 6AM. The main entrance doors open at 6AM but nobody was yet at the information desk to register me. Between the truck and the 3rd floor of the hospital, I stopped at least 3 times on a bench or chair to kneel down and let my birthing waves pass. It took a while to get to floor 3! Upon arrival, they asked if we had registered and Chris said no. I was having a pressure wave so I kneeled down and draped myself over the suitcase. While Chris went back downstairs for my paperwork, they assisted me to the assessment area and our amazing doula showed up.
I was having frequent waves and breathing through them all. They told me they needed a 20 minutes non-stress test (NST) to check baby’s movements but I wasn’t convinced that’d happen because I was most comfortable on my hands and knees- not an ideal position for NST. Fortunately our wonderful doula spoke up and suggested they check my cervix before attempting NST because last pregnancy I came in and was already dilated to 8cm.
After what seemed like a couple minutes, I think the nurse gave up on trying to get a NST and told me to lay back to check for dilation. I was 9cm! They said I could go to a delivery room immediately. The asked me to walk there but I wasn’t sure I could because I was having a wave. Once the wave was over, I quickly walked barefoot to the room. I remember thinking how gross it was that I was barefoot walking in the hospital!
Upon arrival to the room, I think I layed on my back and they attempted to insert an IV for some antibiotics that I consented to. The nurse could not get it in and I felt like she was stressed about it because she loudly asked another nurse to come and try to get it. I felt like telling her to calm down and relax- maybe she should take Hypnobabies! Another nurse came and I don’t remember much other than I was having pressure waves and I had my eyes closed to focus and be so relaxed. I finally asked if the IV was in yet and this nurse also couldn’t get it in either. Chris suggested we just not do the IV but I spoke up and said that I thought it was very important. Next thing I know, someone said to me that Dr. So-and-so, the anesthesiologist, had arrived. My immediate thought was fear and I wanted to scream out “ I did not request an epidural”! Before I could get out the words, I was informed that he was present to insert the IV since the first 2 nurses weren’t successful. While I was having the IV inserted, I think I was having waves but just kept my eyes closed and time passed very quickly while I was completely comfortable.
Throughout the morning, I was mostly on my back sitting slightly upright. I remember asking for water in between almost every wave. I was so thirsty! Chris was also holding my leg against his body and our doula was near my head. I remember loving the warmth of Chris’s hand on my leg. I asked for reassurance several times and seemed to gain control of my wave by saying “relax” a lot to myself. At one point I requested “relief”. I was reminded that nitrous oxide inhibits the urge to push. That immediately made me decide that I’d quit using the gas so that I could get the baby out. Several times I remember feeling very impatient and just wanting the baby out. With every new wave, I would “ahhhh” the pressure out. It helped so much to keep me relaxed as possible. I also remember requesting they cover up the clock so I couldn’t see the time. I saw Dr. Cardinal in the room whenever I opened my eyes. I think she was present for most of the time. I felt like the process was taking long and felt like I was wasting her time!
Near the time my baby was born, I decided to change positions. I went on my knees and my head was facing down. I draped my upper body, head and arms over some pillows and continued to breathe deeply during waves. Several times I reached down to feel if the baby was near coming out. With the next few pressure waves I pushed out my baby and tried to get her myself. It was my vision of a perfect birth to be able to hold my baby immediately as she was coming out. The team assisted me in passing her through my legs. I then rolled over to lie on my back and admire her.
We immediately named our girl Quinn, but it took a day to figure out her middle name, Annika. She was born at 7:51AM, less than 2 hours after arriving to the hospital. As I lay with my beautiful baby, I watched her cord get clamped and Chris cut it. I stayed cuddling her while I birthed the placenta as well as getting my perineum “repaired”. I had 4 stitches with class 2 tears. I felt like the repair took a very long time but tried to remain patient. I remember being a bit cold but not as cold as when my first baby was born.
Once that wrapped up, I laid holding my baby who was very ambitious to breastfeed! She immediately tried latching on her own and had no problem. She had several poops of black tarry meconium and it seemed to get everywhere, including on me! I was very eager to find out how much she weighed. After Ricky, Chris and I reflected for a bit, our fantastic doula left, I showered, and we weighed our baby. She was 7lbs 11ounces!
They took us to our “theme room” where we settled in and I continued to breastfeed. I was very cold, a bit dizzy, and experiencing some cramping. I was still being given oxytocin intravenously and requested it be taken out but they said not until I was able to pee. Finally I peed, they took out the IV and all of my symptoms went away! I had an appetite and felt really great considering I just had a baby.
Later that day my mom brought our daughter, Ella, to meet Quinn since I had to stay overnight. Ella was not very pleased that her daddy was holding a baby but has since become very loving towards Quinn. I am so pleased with how the birth went and how quickly I am healing this time. I had minimal bleeding after the birth and very little discomfort. I am enjoying these days so much with my perfect little family despite the night waking’s and all the soiled diapers!
Kelsey Voelker is a labor doula and lactation educator with Full Circle Birth Collective. Learn more about Kelsey here.
You know that moment when you see a positive on your pee-stick... the moment your world kind of stops, yet continues to twirl around you? Your thought process is along the lines of, "Whoa! I'm pregnant! I'm going to have a baby!" I find that, that whole processing thing takes a while... a really long while. I would go as far as to say it takes almost your entire pregnancy. Even when you're feeling your baby jam into your ribcage and the heartburn is in full force, until that baby is on your chest and in your arms, it's hard to completely "get it". You're having a baby.
I remember my midwife talking about breastfeeding. I remember learning about it in prenatal class and reading about it here and there when I was studying up my birth books. I wasn't too worried about it and I was much more focused on having the baby and making it through the birth. Little did I know what breastfeeding entailed and what it would take to get me through that. My mom did it! Why couldn't I? It was easy. Put the baby on and they figure it out. "Even with a breast reduction history? Don't worry, you'll be able to nurse. It's natural". Let me tell you, it is not natural. The act of it... absolutely. The art of it... nope. It takes practice, patience, understanding, tears, and a lot of love. No one warned me that it would be the hardest thing I ever had to do.
My birth was fairly text book, a beautiful birth. I've told people my birth story and can see the glimmer in their eye wishing and hoping they could have a birth like mine. Simple, fairly quick (minus the posterior baby and back labour), 5 hours of active labour until being in my arms, at home, in water, and in my bed not shortly after. Picture perfect.
We nursed in bed after I got out of the shower and that was when I first noticed some trouble. My breasts weren't built for breastfeeding, in the sense that I had very flat and somewhat inverted nipples. My baby could not latch and she kept slipping off. I chalked it up to her being small and tired. We'd try more later.
We made it through the first night no problem, but as the days rolled out I started dreading every hour. My baby would not latch, I couldn't really hand express, I did not understand anything that was happening. Thank God for my doula and midwife's texting support and all the resources they were giving me. My doula (who I didn't hire until two weeks before baby arrived) even brought me a breast pump on day five, when we realized my milk still hadn't come in. I spent my time in this fog searching websites like, Kellymom, Babycentre, and Le Leche League trying to find answers. There's nothing more thrilling than trying to learn something brand new while you're in the thick of it. Sleep deprived, and hormones swirling around like a tornado, I remember kicking myself emotionally for not doing my homework. I battled myself for not preparing, for not being good enough. I felt so confused because I was the problem, but I was also the solution. I felt powerless however, and that is no place any woman should be in her first days postpartum.
I started babywearing and I began using a nipple shield. I took herbs, I pumped and I had a prescription to support my milk production. My supply built up, but the diapers didn't. My doula, my (emergency) lactation consultant and my midwife were my new pit crew. They lined me up with the resources to find milk donations and that was what carried us through to finally have my baby gaining again. The next 12 weeks were hours spent trying to nurse, then topping-up with finger sucking and syringe feeding, and more pumping, all the while trying to sleep in between sessions. It took a lot out of me.
This experience is what really encouraged me to become a doula. My doula was essential to my well-being and resources in these first few weeks. I myself obviously had a few things working against me (flat nipples and a breast reduction), but I can't tell you how often I talk to women who have had similar or equally difficult breastfeeding experiences, and it all boils down to lack of support, experience, and education.
This is something that we can work on as a community as doulas, mothers and friends, to help educate and support one another. It is so necessary and crucial to your postpartum experience and transition into motherhood. My friend (who I met after my first child and who helped support me through my second nursing relationship), had written an article and I remember reading it months after I finished nursing. She said something along the lines of, "We all know how to ride a bike because we see people riding bikes - but we don't know how to breastfeed because we don't see each other breastfeed."
Now, I'm one for doing what you're most comfortable with. This statement doesn't mean if you want to cover, you shouldn't. Do what works best for you. However I think seeing breastfeeding and normalizing it is so important. I wish, in hindsight, I had seen more of it as a child and as an adult woman. I am now in a community where I see it non-stop. Actually I don't even see it: it just is. Baby's nurse and I barely notice it. Every once in a while I'll catch the mama adjusting a latch or repositioning baby. These subtle things are what is so important for us to subconsciously learn as new mothers. Instances like this, along with doing some pre-baby education are incredibly essential to your success in your breastfeeding relationship. Remember that you have to have the baby first, but then you have to breastfeed that baby for months afterwards. You can do this! Just do your homework. ;-)
Successfully nursing my baby boy: breastfeeding round two! <3
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