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Statistically Worth the Drive from Out of Town

My name is Lorri and my birth story starts before I got pregnant.  When my husband and I decided to have a baby, I was dismayed by the realization that it didn't happen right away.  It took us seven months and in retrospect I am extremely happy for the extra time as it allowed me to research and decide what kind of birth I wanted.  I firmly believe that there is no one true way and that everyone makes birth decisions that are right for them.  Deciding to have a water birth with Heidi was absolutely the right decision for us.  


We live in a small(ish) town about three and a half hours north east of Edmonton and the c-section rates are very high.  Basically, you have greater than a one in four chance of having a c-section here (from the data given by the Fraser Institute, in 2006-2007, 38.61% of births resulted in a cesarean delivery).  Additionally, I don't know anyone who has had a completely natural birth at the hospital here (although I'm sure there are some).  Having a natural birth was important to me as I believe in most cases, it results in a healthier birth for the baby and less trauma for the mother (although I know there are times where intervention is necessary and life saving).  One of my friends told me about her water birth experience and how relaxing it was, so I started reading other birth stories and looking at the data.  The peaceful nature of water birth appealed to me and that was the birth I wanted for my baby.  In order to make that happen, I knew I needed to give birth with a midwife.  


When I got pregnant, I was lucky enough to find Heidi had spaces available.  The first time we met with her, I knew that I had made the right decision.  Her vivacious personality, optimism and enthusiasm made the pregnancy so much fun.  She was excited along with us the first time we heard the baby's heart beat.  Both her professional knowledge and enthusiasm showed through as she talked to us about our birth options (one of the best things about birthing with a midwife is that you have many options with respect to the birth experience), the kind of tools she uses to examine the baby and what equipment she would have available for emergencies.  My husband who was initially sceptical about my plan to drive 3.5 hours in labour was convinced by Heidi's past experience and her explanation about what we could expect.  As the due date drew closer we packed the car, had the list of hotels and phone numbers ready to go and met with our doula Mitzi.  Heidi was great about encouraging us to relax and enjoy the time leading up to the birth.  


Friday started just like the day before, I woke up with some cramping that I thought could be the start of my labour.  The day before, I had taken a bath and the cramping had stopped, so I got up at 4 am and took a bath.  They didn't stop.  Before I woke John, I wanted to make sure that I was really in labour, so I packed up our food and made sure all the little things were ready to go (they say with false labour, that contractions will slow or stop when you are more active, but with true labour, they will increase - they increased).  After I realized I was in labour, I went and woke up John who was ready to hurtle out the door the instant he heard I was having contractions.  The drive down to Edmonton was alright although the last half an hour was quite uncomfortable (happily John's ipod was running out of batteries so we could only time the occasional contraction thus preventing us from focusing on them).  The Canterra Inn and Suites (wonderful hotel!) allowed us to check in early (at 1030) and as soon as I was out of the car, I felt much better.  Heidi, Mitzi and Tara (a student midwife) came by and checked my progress and the baby's health - I was 5 cm and progressing well (yeah!)  I felt great (so relaxed and happy that we were going to see the baby soon!)  Heidi and Mitzi suggested we settle in to the hotel, have some lunch and take a nap.  So, John and I walked over to the Mongolian Grill, had some lunch (I was standing up through my contractions as it was more comfortable, but I don't think anyone really noticed).  On the way back, I hugged John through one of the contractions (to which a grizzly construction worker commented, "That's what the world needs, less hitting, more hugging!" - too funny).  Once back at the hotel, John took a nap and I took a bath.  I did attempt to nap when I got out of the bath, but I could not lie down comfortably, so I phoned Mitzi to come back and help me and John through the rest of the labour.  Mitzi and John set up the birth pool while I walked and breathed through my contractions.  I was not quite sure how far along I was and I didn't want to call Heidi back too soon (which was silly!) so we waited a bit too long to call (rookie mistake!).  My water broke as the pool was filling and I really just wanted to get in.  The feeling of getting in the water was wonderful.  I felt relief for several contractions and then was able to shift my position to get comfortable for the ones to come.  John was really supportive throughout the birth and Mitzi was absolutely wonderful (her quiet, calm confidence really helped me breath through the contractions).  Happily, Heidi arrived as my body started to push (I was breathing/relaxing through the contractions, but I could not consciously stop the pushing anymore).  They checked on the baby and he was doing well.  A few more minutes of labour and he was crowning (I can still remember feeling his head with my hand!)  And then suddenly our beautiful baby was born.  Heidi brought him up to my chest and we relaxed together in the water with John just behind us.  After a little while, I wanted to try to breastfeed, but I had trouble positioning him in the water, so John cut the cord and took Samuel while I birthed the placenta (I actually found this part quite difficult as I didn't really understand how to consciously push and of course I was tired).  Mitzi and Heidi helped me out of the pool and to the bedroom where John and I snuggled with our new little one and I breastfed him for the first time.  Then they came and weighed him, gave his eye drops, etc and then more snuggling!  He was such a wonderful little baby!  After we were settled for the night, Heidi explained to John how to help me (I was weak and needed help to get to the washroom).  Over the next three days we had visits from Heidi and Mitzi to follow up on my health, Samuel's health and to help me out with breastfeeding.  Heidi even sat in the washroom and chatted with me while I showered (I was a bit worried about slipping and falling the day after the birth).  Their support was wonderful!  


Of course, Heidi continued to support us with the follow up visits making sure Samuel was progressing well.  On our last visit, I was so sad to say "goodbye" to Heidi who had been such a big part of our lives for 11 months.  I am so happy with my first birth experience and I hope the second one will be as wonderful!