Haunted to Healed

My first son came speedily into the world in just over two hours, surprising everyone with the short length of time, and sheer intensity of it all. My midwife put a name to the situation, precipitous labour. This really helped me to recover and prepare for any future babies.

My second baby was born at home at 40 and 5. While his birth was slightly longer, clocking in at three hours, it was the complications of having a big barrel chested boy who had to be pulled out because he was stuck that really haunt me. My midwife spoke to me about looking for help to deal with the trauma and depression that may follow. I was fortunate that I don’t feel that I had depression, only feelings of remorse from this birth. However, his is not the story you are here to read.

I do apologize for the back stories, but I feel in order to appreciate Lizzie’s birth, you needed to know a bit more about me and what brought me to this point.

Elizabeth Desneige (of the snow) was born in an unusual September snowstorm that I feel was here to celebrate her birth and make the fact that I named her after my grandmother that much more meaningful.

Having moved to Sherwood Park, we went with HOPE MIDWIVES for this pregnancy. Because of the way my second labour went, Heidi was sensitive and alert to my needs this time around. While I felt calm and content with the size of my growing baby, my husband Marc was concerned.

At 36 weeks we went for an additional ultrasound to see how big the baby looked, knowing full well that the figures could be wildly inaccurate. When I came back measure two plus weeks ahead, it was time for more data points. My fundal length was right on track, I had gained approximately 6 kg, and so at 37 weeks it was time for a gestational diabetes screen for more as Heidi called them, data points.

At 38 weeks I learned I had not passed the screen but this far along opted not to go for the longer test, and instead to watch my diet with increased scrutiny. I also opted for a vaginal check, telling Heidi that I would be 2-3 cm. I was and also nearly 90% effaced. With my cervix this favourable and after doing a sweep, Heidi was sure that labour was imminent. I laughed and said I’ll see you here next week.

The next step was for me to try to try the midwife induction cocktail. We prepped everything for a home birth that didn’t come. I tried it again the next day, and again, no baby. At this point my husband was really starting to feel concerned about the baby’s size. It looked like while I had the same butter soft cervix my aunts had talked about having themselves, it is also a stern gate keeper determined to keep my babies until 40 and 5.

At this point I called Heidi. We decided that we would plan a hospital birth at 39 weeks with the aid of some medication. I wasn’t devastated, but felt beaten. This isn’t how I wanted things to go, but nothing matters more to me than a healthy baby. So, the plan was made.

At my 39 week check, the day before we had planned to go to the hospital, we discussed how the day would look and again, for fun I consented to a vaginal exam, knowing I was around 4 cm. Heidi was shocked to say that my cervix was even softer and that I was over 4cm, enough so that breaking my water was now an option. After all, we were planning to go to the hospital the next day and I was GBS negative. So, Heidi broke my water and exclaimed that I was easily 5cm and the baby’s head was in a good position. She was hopeful that I would go into labour any time.

Nothing…. until 12:30 am when I began to feel some painless cramps. I called Heidi but since these didn’t feel like contractions and we had no idea how long they may last we both decided to go back to bed and get some rest.

Just after 1:40 am I woke to a contraction I had to stand up to get through. This had my attention and I promptly called Heidi. Marc leapt from the bed and began trying to fill the tub. Of course, being in a new house our water softener was malfunctioning and we had no water pressure. He quickly gathered the tub and hoses and went downstairs, saying that’s it, this is happening in the great room.

I grabbed all of the towels and the home birth kit, just knowing I would not be going back upstairs any time soon. Marc ran around moving furniture and sweeping while I laboured. I kept insisting we didn’t have time for the cleaning, but he said leave it to him.

Heidi arrived around 2:20 am as Marc was finally putting water into the pool. She madly started unpacking supplies while I gripped my kitchen counter and exclaimed, ‘it’s happening, it’s happening. The head is out.’ I hadn’t pushed.

They rushed over to me, pulled down my pants and Heidi gloved up calling Tara.

“Head’s in view.” She calmly said and swiftly hung up the phone. “Would you like to lie down?” She asked, but I couldn’t move. My legs felt glued to the floor and I said as much. So I stood at my kitchen counter.

“One push and we will see your baby’s face.” Heidi coached.

I pushed.

“One more push and your baby is out.”

I pushed again. And there she was, little Lizzie. Just like that.

They passed her forward to me and the elation of seeing that I had a little girl, the girl I knew I was having, that I had dreamt of filled me with joy and still shock. How quickly everything happened, and how it could also be so incredibly peaceful shocks me still.

No birth is without its ups and downs I have learned and you always have to have another plan, and be okay with accepting the other plan.

I’ve also learned that birth can haunt you, but it can also heal you. Following the birth of my little lady, she gifted me with peace, satisfaction and the ability to forgive myself for anything I blame myself with when it comes to the birth of my middle child. Because of Heidi, her kindness, wisdom and ultimately her being there for me I feel that the hole that existed in my heart is now healed. I feel whole and complete again. I go days without thinking of my second child’s birth and crying. This was the best possible outcome I could have asked for.