how it happened

Posted on: 4 April 2012

In hindsight, it might’ve started on Thursday, with what they call “bloody show.” I figured it was my mucous plug. Kevin paged the midwife on call, who assured us about changes in the cervix and mentioned that I might go into labour that weekend.

There was “bloody show” a few more times that day, but nothing else unusual. A ton of braxton-hicks.

I started feeling contractions that night. Turns out they were shaped similarly to the braxton-hicks, a slow clenching of the uterus, but whereas the braxton-hicks were painless these were accompanied by a bit of a burn – just under the threshold of what I would consider pain. Actually, I wasn’t positive they were contractions, but they came regularly enough that I began timing them around 2:40AM.

We had instructions to contact our midwife once contractions had been 1 minute long and 3 minutes apart over the course of 2 hours. From 2:40 to almost 4:00, mine were roughly a minute long and 4-6 minutes apart. Then I stopped timing them in favour of trying to sleep, except there wasn’t enough time in between contractions for me to fall asleep. Also, munchkin was having a dance party and kept headbutting my bladder. I must’ve used up half a roll of toilet paper that night.

I woke Kevin up around 5:20AM. Of course, he insisted on calling our midwife. I told Kat the contractions were “bearable,” and she said to give it another hour. By 6:30AM they were measuring in at 3 minutes apart, so Kevin paged again. Kat told him to call her when I could no longer speak through contractions, and that she’d be ready to come over when he did.

At that point I had no desire to talk during contractions anyway, though I figured I still could, especially at their tail ends. The first half required some … focus.

They got worse fairly quickly. I told Kevin to call Kat in at 7:20AM. By then I had to stop what I was doing (getting dressed, packing toiletries for the hospital bag) and clutch at items of furniture. At the same time I was wondering about my progress in terms of dilation, effacement, and station (Kat had offered to check at our last appointment, but I’d declined because I thought IT WAS EARLY). What if I was only, like, three centimetres dilated? I remember bracing myself for several more hours of this.

And then it got surreal.

I don’t know how I knew it was a good idea to head for the bathroom. Somehow I thought I’d feel better sitting on the toilet? Then all of a sudden I was making these weird growly noises, and Kevin was all, “Are you okay?” and I had to tell him to stop asking me such an irrelevant question.

He got Kat on the phone; she was on her way but stuck in traffic (there was also a mix-up where initially she had my parents’ address instead of ours). “Do you feel pressure low in your pelvis?”

“… yes.”

“Do you feel like you need to push?”

It hadn’t occurred to me, but now that you mention it: “YES.” Followed by two sets of growly noises.

So, change of plans – head to the hospital and Kat would meet us there. Except then I couldn’t get up, much less sit in a car.

They talk about “popping out a baby,” but in my case it was almost literal. The head just kind of popped out. None of us were expecting that. It didn’t even hurt, really, at least not that I remember. Kevin says he was freaking out, but it must’ve been mostly internal, since he seemed calm enough for someone who wanted to stay on the “other end” of the birthing action. Although in an effort to reassure him I did say something along the lines of, “It’s okay, I think the hardest part is supposed to be over now.”

(When Kevin recounted this part of the story, the other midwife thought it was hilarious.)

So we’re looking at each other all, NOW WHAT? The head was kind of purple and still, though I could still feel movement from the body. Kevin’s cell phone record shows a frantic call to Kat at 7:47AM (“The head is out! I don’t know what to do!”) and a 911 call at 7:51AM.

In those four minutes, as per Kat’s instructions, I pushed the rest of the baby out (more “slip” than “pop” that time) and Kevin called an ambulance. After catching the baby.

And it’s a girl! (Which means 95% of people guessed wrong. Told you all those indicators are myths.) Ashelyn Vienna, born March 30 at 7:50AM. I misquoted her birth weight, actually – it was 2870 grams (6.3 pounds).

Two paramedics arrived. They clamped and cut the umbilical cord, supplied us with lots of blood-absorbing sheet protector things, and helped move me to a stretcher. (First time on a stretcher!) Kat arrived, delivered the placenta (it reminded me of a jellyfish), did all the post-birth stuff. And she declared that I DID NOT TEAR. I was afraid of tearing in the same way I’m afraid of c-sections, so yay!

The paramedics wanted to take us to the hospital, but Kat maintained it wasn’t necessary, since everything they’d do there she could do in our home. Thus I missed my first chance at an ambulance ride.

Today is day six as a family of three. Ashelyn lost her umbilical cord stump yesterday and is already 2.5 ounces over her birth weight. She smirks and grins, though maybe it’s gas. Kevin and I want to thank everyone for the kind words, the chicken soups, the outpouring of support. We feel so very blessed and so very well loved.

4 Responses to "how it happened"

[…] three times in the past two months. First, minutes after Ashelyn’s “precipitous” birth. Then, last night, because Kevin suddenly began experiencing severe pain on the right side of his […]

[…] you have your own. (Especially if you and your spouse were the only ones present at her birth and thus forced to deliver her.) In a similar vein, diapering in general, and cloth diapering in particular, hasn’t been […]

[…] I guess our true last resort would be an actual pacifier. So far we’ve held off on using one. I want that option to be available if I decide to “sleep train” in earnest. (I like to see how far I can go without conveniences and interventions, because then I feel that there are options. Which is, come to think of it, why Ashelyn was born in our bathroom.) […]

[…] (For Ashelyn’s birth story, go here.) […]

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