Born in the caul

The day I saw that positive sign on my pregnancy test I crossed my fingers and emailed practically every midwife in Edmonton. I was told that if I had no connections there was little hope for me and then I got that email from Heidi, I have a spot you interested? I felt like I had won the lottery, I HAD won the lottery. I didn’t always feel this way my sister had a home birth experience and when she had told me her plans I was that “are you crazy?!?” person. I was so ignorant. The moment I found out I was pregnant I knew a midwife was exactly the kind of care I needed to feel safe; being a number in a hospital terrified me. The first time I met Heidi it was one of those.....hey I know you! Turns out we played on the same basketball team in high school but neither of us go by our maiden names now, small world.

I have fibromyalgia and my health was always a concern of mine, I have good days and bad days. I had no idea how pregnancy and labour would affect me. My pregnancy went much smoother than I expected. The first 5 months there was some major fatigue and nausea but the last four months I felt awesome, better than I had in years. I am a very tall woman and didn’t really become too physically uncomfortable I could touch my toes right to the end. I loved (and still miss) the kicks, punches and yes even the 2am hiccups. My original due date was Nov 10th then my ultrasound revised it to Nov 17th but I kept telling everyone Nov 10th. I would recommend going with the later date because annoying, albeit well meaning, phone calls will happen and if you were like me you get a little sensitive at the end.

A major goal of mine was to have as little interventions as possible I wanted to trust the process and my body as much as possible. My due date came and went nothing hmmm every day and night that went by became like torture. Then 1 week and two days after my ultrasound due date I had about 4 hours of contractions in the middle of the night along with my bloody show YES I thought today’s the day. Then the day went by without much happening and then Heidi asked if I wanted to do a sweep to speed things up. Our concern was I only had two hours of sleep and that I would be too fatigued if I had another restless night so I decided that afternoon to give it a try. It started to work that evening and I remember that part being my least favourite part of labour because it makes things go faster than they naturally would I found it so hard to cope with those contractions. My memory of that part is actually quite foggy because it was so intense I went somewhere else for awhile. We called Heidi up I said I wasn’t coping well (she said I was doing great haha.) She checked me and I was only 1-2 cm! She told my husband to set up my pool.

When I got in that pool wow such a relief I felt calm and in control. I wasn’t progressing fast and nightime was coming and Heidi knew this baby was not coming in a hurry. She said she would be back in the morning to check on me. I spent the whole night in the pool in labour, I was told later I slept in between contractions which I had a hard time believing but I must have. Heidi came in the morning on Nov29th and told me I was 5-6 cm I almost got out and did a happy dance I was amazed it felt so close. It seemed like no matter how much I went through any progress I made gave me a surge of energy and pride. I laboured all day and my husband who had original plans to take off kept hanging around and being my pool boy. He was always so worried about me but as things went along he saw there was nothing to be anxious about, I was calm and I think he also got so conditioned with my labour going on for so long. The mood in the room was so quiet I actually felt quite sorry for Kev my Mom and Heidi they must have been so bored!

All day went by and then Heidi said we could break my water at 5:30PM and we were about to do it Heidi had the hook and everything then I felt unsure. I got this weird sense of resolve and asked her for one more hour and I decided to walk around something I had been avoiding due to trying to save my energy for pushing. I got out and walked around my kitchen stopping and swaying with the contractions it took everything I had to decide to do that at and then doing my best after two hours I felt a drip, drip my water hadn’t broke but it was dripping. I was so happy, progress!!!! Heidi told me that the head was so far down I could just touch it and I thought no way? Next time I went to the bathroom her head was right there about 2” in it was amazing. Heidi also said that my cervix was so thin that if I pushed she could just move it over so we did and almost instantly I got the urge to push. I felt like a Ferrari with nothing but green lights to the finish. Then something crazy water had started to drip but it hadn’t broken so the first thing that came out was part of the amniotic sac. My mom said that it looked like I was blowing a big white bubble that looked like bubblegum. It felt fiery and so fast and intense it felt like I was about to spontaneously combust! After that intense feeling calmed a bit Heidi said the heads coming, the what?!! If that wasn’t the head what was it???? Then came the head Heidi said ah ah ah to slow me down as she pulled off the rest of the sac of Ivy’s head. A few contractions and pushing (my husband said I screamed but I disagree I roared like a lioness) and being reminded to push ONLY during contractions, haha out she came. My little cull baby arrived at 8:14P.M

That moment they put her on my chest ........took my breath away the only thing that could ever touch it would be my next child. It is love at first sight, awe, amazement, shock, pride anything I was ever looking for in life came true right then, I was full. Heidi then lifted her up (I warned her I might be too overwhelmed to think) because of the way she came out no one knew the sex, and we all saw at the same time “It’s a girl!.” This was the most empowering experience of my life. I named her Ivy Mae after my Grandmother who is Evelyn Mae sometimes called Evy Mae. She was 8lb 4 oz. Barb came in 10 min after I gave birth because no one thought the pushing would happen so fast. She came in started putting her hands in the pool then helped me to the shower and chatted to me about my fibroids and saying usually artistic people have them as she pushed on my stomach to get all the after birth out, what a way to meet someone! She is so warm and caring it just emanates from her being.

I have to recommend a postpartum doula to fellow mommies because recovery was really hard on me I went into labour really sleep deprived and felt quite weak. Babies at the start want to nurse all the time to get your milk in and then after that because they get hungry very often. A doula at night can be a godsend because they can bring the baby to you just to nurse and then they do all the changing swaddling , listening (that will keep you up) ect and you can get your rest and recover. I also have to note something of interest every time I nursed my mouth would get numb and I thought it was a weird hormone thing in actuality I had hypocalcaemia (low calcium) and had to take calcium chews to get it up. It was not something Heidi or many other midwives had heard of before but learned that calcium also helps to give more effective contractions so next time we will try the chews during labour and see if that quickens up my labor?

Lastly Ivy and I would like to thank Heidi without her email that day everything would have been different for both of us. She gave us the gift of a natural birth, the gift of empowerment and the gift of knowledge. Ivy and I would not have been allowed to proceed at our given pace it would have been unacceptable in a hospital setting I would have been induced, for sure and most likely given a c section or convinced I couldn’t handle the pain and needed an epidural, all the interventions I didn’t want.

I would like to say that I don’t like how the word pain is always used for labour I felt like it had different levels of intensity and I felt that each level was tolerable for me. I also believe that each of us and our experiences are entirely unique. I highly recommend the book Hypnobirthing if you have a fear of labour it gives an entirely different perspective of birth than what we are “raised” with and says quite loud and clearly that we as women are meant to do this our bodies are amazing and we are so powerful! Thank you Heidi for a truly life changing experience it wouldn’t have happened without you.