Welcoming Emmett: Our Labour and Birth Story

emmett-webThere were a few different ideas of when our “due date” was.  According to the pie chart at the doctor’s office – the one that calculates a due date based on your last monthly cycle, our baby was to be born on June 21st – the summer solstice.  Our first ultrasound at 13 weeks indicated otherwise, and gave us a due date of June 19th.  My mom, however, told me our baby would be born exactly 266 days from conception, just as all her babies had been born – so that was the date in our heads – June 24th, 2013.  And just as my mom predicted, I went into labour on the morning of the 24th.

It was a Monday, and the weather was beautiful.  We got up in the morning a bit earlier than normal to get ready and make the drive out to Fort Qu’Appelle where our midwife, Debbie was.  When we got in the car around 0900, I felt a mild tightening, something that felt much like period cramps.  After about 20 minutes of these cramps coming and going, I decided to secretly time them – I felt like I could have been imagining them and didn’t want to get too excited.  Sure enough, they kept on happening – regularly for 30 seconds a time every 3 minutes.  When I told Brennan, he turned down the music – we were listening to the new National album and he was pretty into it, “are you serious?” he asked, and we both grinned.  When we got to the Women’s Health Centre, and then into the room to see Debbie, I still couldn’t believe this could be it.  She asked how things were going, and I casually responded “I think I might be in labour?”.  She got me on the bed, did a quick check with her own grin and said “I never like to say anything, but I can say that I don’t need to do anything to help you along”.  We did a non stress test which indicated that my contractions were, in fact, coming in fairly regular intervals and consistent in their strength.  “How do you feel” she asked, and I told her that they felt great  – surges through my body that were telling me that my baby was coming, and they actually felt really good!!  With a quick “I’ll probably be seeing you later” we were on our way back to Regina.

I had made plans with a friend and her 11 month old daughter to go to Wascana pool for the afternoon.  I couldn’t see why this wouldn’t still be a good idea, I loved being in water so much and it really was a beautiful day.  Of course, I told her that my labour had started and we spent the afternoon giggling like school girls and floating around the pool.  It was fun to have this “secret labour” – there were a number of people who, staring at my round pregnant belly asked when I was due and I could hardly stop myself from saying “Right Now!”

Brennan and I met back up at home around 1730.  By this time, the surges were a little more intense, but they were still about 3 minutes apart.  I asked Brennan to make one of my favourite meals – a quinoa vegetable dish with peanut sauce and pickles on top.  While he was busy in the kitchen, I lit the candles I had received at my blessingway from all the supportive women in my life, played the affirmations that Brennan and I had written and recorded in his studio and found myself on all fours rocking back and forth.  I was so happy that our baby was coming to us.  I felt safe, confident and secure.  I was blown away with the powerful feelings rushing through my body and feeling strong and ready.  When Brennan came upstairs with supper around 1830, I joined him in the bathroom where I had moved my music, a number of candles, and my yoga mat.  I had a few bites of supper, and felt a powerful surge that caused me to throw up.  With each surge after that, I continued to throw up.  It was strange, and definitely unexpected.  I didn’t feel ill at all, and hadn’t been sick my entire pregnancy!  As the surges continued and became more intense, I moved into our clawfoot tub.  I found myself going deeply inside my own head, closing my eyes, and giving in to what I can only describe as my natural birthing instincts.  The surges continued to fill me with a deep knowing that our baby was coming and that my body knew what to do.  I also had a lot of help from Brennan, who could anticipate when a surge was going to start, support me from a laying position and catch my vomit which continued to shoot out of me with every surge!    Throughout this entire time, Brennan had been in contact with our Doula who came over to check on us and noted how well we were coping thus far, and with our Midwife, who encouraged us over the phone.  At 2100, during one of the surges, we heard a loud “POP”, and my water broke in the tub!  And what a relief!  Brennan called the midwife and she told us to meet her at the hospital around 2230.  He shot off a message with the plan to the doula, and I continued to labour in the tub while he packed up the car.  When he came back up, he helped my out of the tub, and I had a few more surges sitting on the toilet.  At this point, we saw the bloody show and knew things were continuing to progress.  My surges were at least a minute and a half, and still about three minutes apart,  Brennan helped find my clothes and we ventured out to the car.  Once outside, I had another strong contraction that brought me to my knees, invited a loud moan and a whole lot of pressure.  I rode to the hospital on my hands and knees, moaning through each contraction.  Our doula followed us and stayed with me while Brennan registered me and brought out a wheelchair.  There wasn’t any way I was going to sit though!  I rode on all fours all the way up to Labour and Delivery!  I guess they figured I was definitely in labour and I skipped triage and was put into a room immediately.

Our midwife, with impeccable timing arrived just as we got into the room, checked me and said “You’re at 9cm – perhaps you’ll have your baby today just as you expected!”  We figured this meant no time to set up the birthing pool and I got into a squatting position on the bed where I began to push.  Very quickly, and with only the tip of my finger, I could feel my baby’s head!!  “It has hair!” I said!  My surges continued as they had, powerful and regular for a long time,  We tried moving into different positions, squatting, hands and knees, side lying, back lying, on the toilet, lunging – you name it, I would try it.  But baby had other plans and really just wanted to stay inside.

At 0300, we decided to do a consult with the OBGYN on call.  Have I mentioned that up until this point I hadn’t opened my eyes??  I was so deeply in my own birthing world I hadn’t bothered to take a look around the room and was happy to see everyones smiling and encouraging faces!  When the doctor came in, she was, unfortunately quite rude.  She questioned why I hadn’t been given any pain medications (because I didn’t feel I needed them), she asked why I didn’t have an IV drip (because I had been drinking tons of water), and seemed upset and annoyed at my decision to keep on labouring instead of accepting her offer of interventions (baby was not stressed, I felt like I could go on).  With no medical reason to intervene, I opted to continue labouring and reconsult when she was out of surgery in a couple of hours.  In those next two hours I really thought “this is it”  I tuned into my body even more and negotiated with it to bring our baby to us.  We tried more positions and I pushed and pushed and pushed.  Baby was so close, the head would emerge slightly with each surge but it wasn’t enough to complete the birth.

When the doctor returned, there had still been no progression and so I agreed to try the suction.  She apologized for her rudeness earlier, explaining that she was not usually so blunt and brief but she had a c-section to attend to.  We accepted her apology and made our birthing wishes clear to her – that we didn’t want any unnecessary interventions, that we wanted delayed cord clamping, to discover the sex of our baby and that mine and baby’s care would continue to be under the midwife after our baby was born.  To say that she seemed annoyed all over again would be a bit of an understatement, but she agreed.  With the suction attached to our baby’s head, it took three more contractions before fully coming into our world. Our midwife took our baby from the doctors hands and put him on my chest.  Our doula was able to remind them that we wanted to discover the sex of our baby, “He’s a boy!!” I discovered!!  For the next hour we cuddled with our son skin to skin while they worked on fixing me up.  Emmett latched on and breast fed while Brennan and I drifted off to sleep.  After everything had settled we weighed and measured him.  He was 8lbs, 13oz, and 20.5inches long.  A healthy and very calm baby who continues to nurse well, sleep well, and of course, steal the hearts of everyone he has met!

I loved birthing our baby.  I felt so supported by the people I had chosen to be around me as I brought him into this world and so deeply in tune with my own body. I am proud of myself and the people around me who continued to challenge the push for medical intervention, but also for being open to the turn that it took when my labour stalled and we needed to go down a different path. I am forever grateful for my husband, Brennan, our midwife, Debbie, our two doulas, Angie and Karen, our hypnobirthing instructor, Marie, and to all those who encouraged us to believe in the power and art of birth and advocate for the importance of choice in the whole process.  I am so excited to do it again someday, with even greater confidence than before!

written by Jaclyn R.

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