To read Part 1 click here
We arrived at the hospital at 1pm and met our primary midwife in the maternal triage area (we also had a second midwife assist during the birth). She lead us across the hall to the delivery room where I changed into a gown and laid down on the bed. I looked out the window and noted our nice view of autumn coloured trees covering the city. The distraction was a good way to start the day.
My midwife then checked my cervix and proceeded to break my water. Although this procedure was somewhat uncomfortable Mike kept me distracted by making me laugh and holding my hand, so the pain was very bearable. Plus I was excited to finally be in the process of getting my baby into the world.
Following my water being broken we walked the hallways until 3:30, getting mine and the baby’s vitals checked every half hour by the midwives. As I was walking I could still feel water gushing out, it was a very icky feeling! Nonetheless, I kept walking determined to start labor. When I hadn’t progressed by 3:30 I was put on Pitocin through an IV.
As my contractions progressed from slightly uncomfortable cramps to being more noticeable I moved onto the birth ball at the end of the bed. I really liked this position because I had a lot of back labor and it was helpful to be able to lean over the bed, roll my hips and still be somewhat mobile during labor and between contractions. The midwives and Mike also applied counter pressure to my back which felt amazing during the contractions.
By far the most helpful support during labor was my husband. He was honestly so incredible during the whole process and I could not have gone through any of this without him by my side. Each contraction I would squeeze his hand and lean into him. He was so encouraging through each contraction reminding me to breathe and relax my body. During the final stages of labor, when I couldn’t talk he put a cool cloth on my head.
I found that the beginning of a contraction was hard but once I was able to tell myself to relax and breathe through it, the contraction became bearable, although at the end I was on the verge of asking for something to help with the pain. I also told myself that each contraction was a good thing. I really believe the mind controls the body and you can tell your body how to behave. Labour was not easy but it was not impossible. I tried to take it one contraction at a time.
Eventually, the contractions became very strong and I was tired of sitting on the birth ball so I moved onto the bed. Unfortunately relocating to the bed caused the contractions to increase in intensity. I laid on my side and bore through each contraction hoping that it was almost over. Not long after to my surprise I had the urge to push. Although I was not speaking at this point I knew I had to express this feeling. My midwife told me to listen to my body and I began pushing a little during contractions. I also turned over onto my back. Then I had the urge to go to the bathroom I wanted to go sit on the toilet and push. After the midwife checked me she said that the baby was very close. I was surprised to feel pressure in that area of my body being from the baby.
At this point, I knew it had to almost be over. In fact, I only pushed for 20 minutes, although it felt a lot longer. Looking back I did tire myself pushing because I was so determined to get her out. I also didn’t push on the contractions as I should have.
The baby began to crown but my body was still too tight to let her out. Her heart rate also began to drop so my midwife informed me she needed to perform a [second-degree] episiotomy (in my birth plan I wanted to avoid this). I wasn’t numbed during the procedure which included cutting through my skin and muscle to give the baby more room to come out. Although it was painful my focus was entirely on the baby and not on some temporary pain I had to endure. I tried to apply this thinking to all of labor. It was hard and very painful but it was bearable because I knew it was all for my baby. One thing I’ve learned from giving birth and especially bringing Lyla home is how selfless a baby causes you to be.
Following the episiotomy, the midwife told me to push with all I had. I gave it everything, I was almost yelling my energy was so intense. For me being a quiet person this behavior surprised even me. However, I didn’t care because I knew I was so close to meeting my baby. Finally, her head came out and then the shoulders. At 7:39 pm Lyla Dawn Kramer was delivered and placed on my chest.
The whole process was so fast I felt almost numb after. My legs were shaking, I was in pain from the cut and I was suddenly a mom. It was a lot to take in.
After the cord stopped pulsing Mike cut it and the midwife took Lyla for some tests. Mike was right by her side the whole time talking to her. Lyla recognized his voice so well from hearing it when he would talk to her in utero.
Meanwhile, the other midwife brought me some toast and I began to get stitched up. Although receiving stitches was not fun once Lyla was back in my arms I just looked at her and the pain was nothing to worry about. I just focused on my sweet babe and knew these stitches were more than worth it because they allowed me to meet her.
Initially, I wanted to go home after the birth but since it was late and I was still recovering we decided to stay the night. I thought we would be leaving the next morning, but we ended up staying two nights and going home on Saturday. The reason for staying so much longer than anticipated was Lyla’s weak sucking and difficulty latching when I tried to feed her. As a result, the nurses and midwife had us stay until they felt confident in our ability to breastfeed.
At first, we were supposed to go home the next morning, then in the evening and then finally Saturday afternoon, we were discharged. It was really hard emotionally to keep thinking that we would be going home then having to stay longer.
Looking back I’m glad we stayed because it was great to have 24-hour support from the nursing staff especially the first night. Lyla also had a lot of mucus and was coughing it up, I know that if we went home, we would have been unprepared to deal with this. The nurses showed us how to tilt her on her side and they tilted her bassinet to prevent mucus from going back down her esophagus.
By the time we went home I felt a lot more confident in my ability to take care of a newborn. Although Mike was a little nervous I knew we could manage just fine on our own. Plus if we had any problems we could call our midwife anytime. It was also reassuring to know we would be getting a visit again from the midwife on days 3 and 5 at home.
One of the best decisions we made was choosing a midwife as our healthcare provider. Our appointments were never rushed, we had support during the entire labour and the first week home the midwife came to our apartment (it was so nice to not have to go anywhere) to check on me and the baby (she weighed Lyla, checked my stitches, and noted our vitals among other things). I had a low-risk pregnancy so for me a midwife was a great option, however, if I ever required an obstetrician the midwife would have ordered a consult (as she did when I needed Pitocin at the hospital).
Finally, I want to conclude by noting that my whole birth experience was not according to plan at all. That was okay because life never goes “according to plan”. I wanted to go into labour naturally and deliver at a smaller hospital 15 minutes from home. Instead, I had to get induced at a very large hospital 30 minutes from home and go on Pitocin. I also didn’t want to receive an episiotomy. I planned on labouring in the tub to prevent this but it never took advantage of that option and because of the Pitocin, my labour progressed fairly fast resulting in an episiotomy. However, I am incredibly grateful to have delivered a healthy baby girl.