A Birth Story: Maya Hope

Monday, April 17, 2017

I have always enjoyed reading birth stories and dreamed of the day when I could have this incredible experience for myself. While it is the most pain I have ever experienced in my life, it was also the most amazing feeling, knowing that my body was made for this.

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Monday, March 6 was my due date, and it came and went with no signs of labour. I went through the week thinking each day could be, “the day”, with several Dr.’s appointments and still no progress beyond 1cm dilated and a softened cervix. I was scheduled to be induced on Tuesday, March 14 if nothing happened over the weekend.


Friday, March 10 my husband and I had a day date knowing that it may be one of the last days we had left just the two of us. I felt good, and enjoyed being out indulging in delicious food and spending time together. 


Saturday, March 11 was my 30th birthday and it started at 5am with the first twinge of real contractions. I had been having consistent Braxton-Hick contractions through the week, so I could tell that this was different. I spent the day in some discomfort but it was brief and manageable. We had plans to spend the evening with my family to celebrate my birthday, so we continued as usual. While we were out the contractions were intensifying! I would try and bear the pain silently, but my mom (having her maternal instincts) could tell that I was struggling to stay comfortable. We cut the night short, and almost immediately after getting home, around 9pm, I had the first really strong contraction. They continued to be consistent every hour through the night, then every 45 minutes by early morning. I had the urge to pee after every contraction, so was able to notice the passing of the mucus plug, and thought that surely my water would break shortly after (which it did not).

Sunday (March 12) was such a hard day, as the contractions were getting longer and more intense, but were still only every 30 minutes. The only way I could get through a contraction was to be hunched over, either standing or on my knees. I would try to rest in between contractions, but then would have to get “into position” as I felt the next surge of pain come over me. At one point I was on the floor on my hands and knees in such agony, and I just cried after the contraction was over, not knowing how I could get through the next one. My husband was slightly panicked, wondering if we should go to the hospital or how he could help relieve the pain.

By 6:00pm the contractions were 15-12 minutes apart, and I was beginning to feel like it was going to take days for them to get any closer together. I knew that I was supposed to wait to go to the hospital until they were 5 minutes apart, but by 7:30pm they were 10 minutes apart and I didn’t know how much longer I could labour at home. We decided to go to the hospital, bags and carseat in tow just in case I was far enough along that we could stay.
Once we got to the hospital, I was put into a triage room so they could check my progress and monitor my contractions. I was only 2cm dilated! and the contractions were still every 10 minutes. We were told to try and wait until the contractions were closer together, but if they were too painful to manage at home, or my water broke, then we were to come back.

Around 12:30pm the contractions were starting to hit their peak and were lasting over a minute each. I wanted to try and wait as long as possible to go back to the hospital to be sure I would be admitted and not sent home again. The contractions weren’t getting any closer than 6-7 minutes apart, but were unbearable! I called the hospital and they said to come in and I’d have to get checked again to see if I could stay.

The drive there was agonizing! As I said before, the only way I could get through a contraction was if I was hunched over somehow, so sitting upright in a car was horrible! Thankfully it was 4:30am so there was no traffic and it only took us 17 minutes to get to the hospital. Apparently the main doors to the labour & delivery unit are locked during the night and early hours, so we had to park at the Emergency department and literally go through the entire hospital to get there. The nurse in the ER could tell I wouldn’t be able to walk there so she gave us a wheel chair that I could be wheeled in (thank goodness!). By the time we got to the L&D unit, my contractions were 5 minutes apart, and I was in obvious pain, so they admitted me without an exam and I was put directly into a birthing room.

It’s funny how you have things planned in your mind ahead of time as to how things will go, but until the time comes, you really never know what will happen. During my pregnancy and while planning my ideal birthing scenario, I had imagined that I would be laboring at the hospital for quite some time. I wanted to use hydrotherapy as long as possible and nitrous oxide gas when the pain got worse. I wasn’t sure if I wanted an epidural or not, but would make that decision when the time came. That was the plan…

So the real life version is that once I was admitted, I was 5cm dilated, hadn’t slept for two days, and was in an unbearable amount of pain during the contractions. The nurses advised me that I needed to get some rest before the delivery, and that the anesthesiologist was next door finishing an epidural and then would be leaving the ward. Basically it was now, or possibly have to wait hours until the next Dr. came on shift. My husband (knowing how long I had already been enduring the pain) didn’t give me a choice, and said, “Yes, you need the epidural. Take it!”. Soon after, I was being prepped, and the Dr. came in for the procedure. I sat there, legs hanging over the side of the bed, slumped shoulders as directed, and still in the middle of contractions. I had always heard that the needle was giant and it hurt like a b*tch, so I braced myself for what was to come. Turns out, the freezing was the worst part, as they have to freeze quite a large area on your back before the epidural. So after several pokes and contractions later, it was done.
I started to feel some relief almost immediately, though the medication was working much faster on the right side than the left, so I was still feeling twinges of pain on the left. They rolled me onto my side to even out the distribution, and for the first time in two days, I felt my body relax. I was both physically and mentally exhausted, and in that moment I knew it was the right decision. 

For the next several hours, I tried to sleep, but my mind wouldn’t turn off. I kept thinking about what was ahead of us – the delivery. Thankfully my body got the rest it needed though, and by 10:30am I was fully dilated. The nurses dialed down the epidural medication and I slowly start to feel sensation coming back into my lower body. It was enough to have some control back and feel the “tightness” of a contraction, but thankfully I was not in any pain.

Just before 12:00pm the nurse had me do some practice pushes to see how much muscle control I had and how far the baby’s head was. Baby was ready and she said she could already see a full head of hair! They got me prepped, and our full medical team arrived and was ready to help deliver our baby. We had two residents, my nurse, a pediatric nurse, and the OB. My husband wanted to be a passive observer and provide emotional support for me during the delivery process, but our veteran Dr. wanted him to be fully involved in the process! Once I felt the next contraction coming on, he told my husband to grab my leg, and it was time to push! After the first push, her head was already crowning, and he told my husband to look down at our baby. I looked up at him with tears filling his eyes, it was a moment I’ll never forget. I pushed for about 35 minutes, thankfully without any complications or interventions, and at 12:25pm, our baby girl was born.


Maya Hope
7 lbs. 6 oz., 55cm long

Immediately after she was born, I was able to do skin-to-skin, and I couldn’t believe I was holding my baby. The moment we had been waiting for was finally here. My husband started talking to her and it was incredible to see her looking for him, after all those months, she recognized his voice. I was so proud of him also for cutting the umbilical cord – something he really wasn’t so sure he wanted to do.

I did have some hemorrhaging following the birth, but thankfully nothing too serious. It was, however, the most unexpected part of the delivery process for me, and it was a bit scary for both my husband and I. To help manage the bleeding, the nurses and Dr. provided uterine massaging along with several different medications. The massaging was extremely painful, especially since I was still experiencing some contractions as well, and the epidural medication was very low at this time. I am so thankful for the calm and competent medical team we had that got the bleeding under control quickly and took such good care of me. Next was delivering the placenta, which was fairly painless and quick. The Dr. said it was very large and extremely healthy! It was amazing to see the organ that was keeping my baby alive for those 9+ months, and to see an actual piece of evidence from the work I put into eating well and efforts to make sure my baby was healthy. 

 
I had read all the books and prepared as much as I could, but nothing can ever really prepare you for a life changing experience like this. 
Thanks for reading.

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