It all started on boxing day. We had celebrated a wonderful Christmas and with that over I was feeling quite sorry for myself as I was still pregnant, very uncomfortable and anxiously awaiting our second baby who, as now, was 6 days overdue. Our first child was 5 days early, and even though I know that's not how it works, I expected this one to be early as well. After supper we settled down to watch a movie. While I moped on the couch I began to feel some crampiness, not unlike light to moderate menstrual cramps. This was not a surprise as I'd been feeling this way on and off for almost 2 weeks. Around 9:30, I began to feel some tightening on alternating sides of my belly and started to wonder if maybe we were finally starting to get somewhere. By around 10:30, I was starting to experience some regular surges and was pretty sure I was indeed in labour. I went to take a bath and relaxed in the tub while listening to a CD and talking on the phone with a friend. I was timing my surges and they were about 6 minutes apart.
At 11:00 I informed my husband, Jason, that I was indeed in labour and was going to lie down and listen to my HypnoBirthing CDs. Jason checked in with me from time to time to see how I was doing and around midnight I asked him to start timing for me. By this time my surges were no longer regular, they were anywhere from 9-2 minutes apart lasting from 30- 60 seconds. I called my doula, Cheryl Lloyd, and anxiously told her what was happening and asked her what she thought and when she thought I should go to the hospital. She told me that she wasn't in my body so she couldn't tell me what to do, but that she thought it sounded like early labour. I chose to focus on the second part of what she said because after all “she had more experience than me”, my first labour had been so long ago and the books described early labour in this way as well. I was a little discouraged as I thought this meant that I really wasn't in labour or that I still had a long time to wait. The surges in my first labour, 10 years earlier, had not been regular either, but for some reason I wasn't thinking about this. I was concerned about surges spaced at regular intervals as I was told they should be.
I continued relaxing, in bed, with the help of the Hynobirthing CDs and using the different breathing techniques I'd learned in class and practiced for so long. My surges which began as light menstrual cramps were becoming more intense, but were still manageable. At about 2:00 am, I told Jason it was time to head for the hospital. I called my doula back, somewhere around 2:10, and we decided that she should come over. She arrived close to 2:40 and while Jason took our son over to my sister's place she guided me through more breathing and relaxation activities. By this point, I was starting to feel a bit anxious and thinking that perhaps I should have asked Cheryl to meet us at the hospital instead of coming to our place. But, in the same thought, I reminded myself that my first labour had been much longer and considering it had been 10 years earlier I surely had many more hours to go.
Jason arrived home shortly before 3:00 and I got up off the bed to get my shoes and jacket on. As I was now walking and no longer relaxing quietly I had a very intense and painful surge which forced me to sit down. Once this passed I went to put on my shoes and jacket only to feel intense pressure between my legs and felt a need to bear down. Having given birth once before I immediately recognized this as a sign that the baby was on its way. “The baby's coming!” I shouted and began to get down on the kitchen floor not before uttering something along the lines of, “I CAN'T F#$%ING BELIEVE WE WAITED THIS LONG TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL!” I was mildly aware that I swearing in the presence of our doula, but to be honest at this point I really didn't care! Cheryl told Jason to call 911 and he did, form his cell phone.
Me: JUST TELL THEM TO SEND SOMEONE!!
Jason: My wife is in labour.
Me: I'M HAVING A BABY ON THE KITCHEN FLOOR!!!
Jason: Yes, the baby's coming.
Me: THE BABY'S CROWNING!
Cheryl: The baby's not crowning yet.
Me: IT WILL BE SOON !
The paramedics took the two of us to the hospital where the placenta was later delivered. Ella's first car ride was in an ambulance when she was less than an hour old!
Well, the moral of this story is: TRUST YOURSELF!!! Even if this is your first labour, even if it's not, you really do know what's going on better than any professional or any book. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!!! Hindsight being 20/20 I can now see how I didn't do either of these things! I decided to trust other sources when really I should have been listening to my body! I also wanted to stay at home as long as possible to avoid the dreaded “Triage”. I'd never been there, but from what I'd heard it wasn't a place that I wanted to be. All things considered, I gladly would have laboured in triage for hours rather than to have experienced the panic and uncertainty (not to mention the mess!!!) that went along with delivering on the kitchen floor!!!
I could not have done this without my wonderful husband, Jason, our doula, Cheryl Lloyd, as well as, two very special EMTs, Mike and Brett, from the station on Rochdale Boulevard. THANK YOU!!!!!
Vanessa Sylvestre, written February 2009
P.S.- I know the mother of one of the EMTs and apparently Mike and Brett have since delivered another little bundle at home!!!
Ella with Dad