Updated: Jul 31
This second birth story is a whole different experience from my first. I highly recommend reading Jeremy's birth story before this, because the other one is more of a complete, introductory narrative to the world of experiencing pregnancy & childbirth. On the night of May 25th, at around 10:45PM, I started experiencing painful contractions. A month ago, I had a few fake contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions. They were sporadic and painless. Despite the fact that my due date was only four days away, the pain alone wasn't alarming enough for me to believe that these were real contractions. Little did I know, I was going to give birth within the next 8 hours.
CONTRACTIONS: Pressure or pain that starts in the back and moves to the front of the lower abdomen. Some women say contractions feel like strong menstrual cramps. THE SIGNS
The urge to nest started long before, at the beginning of my third trimester. I had already taken out and organized all of Jeremy's old baby clothes, washed all the sheets and covers of each bedroom and vacuumed the entire house over and over again. By the time I entered my final week leading up to my due date, I was already in the process of decluttering and donating things around the house, but my body couldn't keep up with my mind. On top of this incessant need to be productive, the biggest sign was my poop. As a matter of fact, I experienced multiple episodes of mild diarrhea two days prior to giving birth. It turns out that these little trips to the bathroom was my body's way of preparing for active labour!
INTERESTING FACT: Having loose stools a day or two before labour is the body's way of emptying the bowels in order to allow the uterus to contract efficiently. This phenomenon is caused by the release of hormones called: prostaglandins.
33 WEEKS PREGNANT APRIL 11TH 2021 Photographed by Davidandfilms
From our second maternity photoshoot
All the signs were there, and yet, I still felt like these contractions didn't feel real enough because I wasn't howling in pain. I started timing myself after two intense contractions. The right timing defining true labour is supposed to follow the 511 Rule.
511 Rule: Head to the hospital when contractions
are 5 minutes apart
last for 1 minute each
continue in this pattern for 1 hour
My contractions were indeed around a minute long, but they happened at a frequency of ten minutes apart, not five. I used a mobile application to time them, and after an hour of this consistent pattern, the app notified me that I should prepare to go to the hospital. Still, I was skeptical, but with good reason! I didn't want to go in the middle of the night for a false alarm and get asked to go home. Imagine I had to go back for real the next day, I would be exhausted from the lack of sleep! So we called the hospital at around midnight, which was the recommended thing to do. As expected, the nurse told us it had to be at every five minutes and the pain had to be more intense. She told me if I were to come now, she would put me in a bath, so she told me to take a bath now and see if it got better. Funny thing; taking a bath was exactly what I was told for my last pregnancy! Lo and behold, just like last time, the bath didn't help & I wasn't surprised. The pattern was too imperfectly perfect... The unsettling feeling that this was the real deal was starting to creep in...
SCREENSHOT OF THE APP (8 HOURS OF CONTINUOUS CONTRACTIONS)
We called the hospital a total of four times that night. We were turned down each time. They knew this was a second pregnancy and it's common knowledge that a second delivery is usually faster than a first. I totally blame all the women with fake contractions who decide to show up at the hospital without calling first! That must be the reason why nurses on the phone have to follow a strict protocol. I understand that they don't want too many people coming in at the same time during a pandemic. All these factors unavoidably made me go against my gut and wait longer than necessary.
DO WE GO OR NOT?
It was 4:00 AM when I finally observed intervals of five minutes. I didn't get any sleep and Oli's stress kept him up all night too. He was actually telling me at every passing hour that we should head out. I should have listened to him sooner! At 4:40 AM, we decided to make the final call to the hospital. We told them that contractions were at intervals of five minutes and that it has been an hour. That was a lie. It hasn't been a full hour, and not all contractions were five minutes apart, but I didn't give two sh*ts anymore! We were showing up whether they liked it or not! She told us to come.
LAST OUTING BEFORE FEELING THE NEED TO STAY HOME EVERYDAY MAY 8TH 2021
IT'S SHOW TIME
The drive was smooth and the roads were surprisingly busy. It was 5:45 AM when we crossed the Champlain bridge. We hit mostly green lights, so I only had to endure four contractions in the car. My last recorded contraction on the app was at 5:58 AM. Everything from here on unfolds in the span of 24 minutes. TWENTY-FOUR MINUTES! Oli drops me off at the maternity ward and drives away to go park the car. I waddle my way towards the door. The door is temporarily closed and there's a sign redirecting me to the main entrance of the hospital. I sit down on a nearby bench as another painful contraction comes along, this time it came sooner than expected. Seated on a bench further away, a woman calls out to me and tells me that the door is closed and that I have to go through the main one. Yes lady, I know. I weakly nod at her, but she most likely couldn't see from that far. Oli finally arrives with my hospital suitcase. I tell him that we need to go through the main entrance and to ask for a wheelchair. He drops everything on the bench and jogs away. Another contraction comes and goes. I take this opportunity to get up and make my way towards the main entrance. I meet Oli halfway and sit down on the most flimsy wheelchair. He pushes me in as I feebly dragged the suitcase along. The security guard asks us to disinfect our hands and to replace our facemasks with theirs. We comply. Then, he brings us to a table, hands Oli a spray bottle and a piece of cloth and kindly asks us to disinfect the suitcase. Oh my goodness, can't you see I'm giving birth here??? Another contraction comes along as Oli asks for the maternity ward. We are instructed to go straight and to make a left. Lies. It's supposed to be right, not left. We go straight and turn right. -contraction- A team of very relaxed-looking nurses welcomes us and asks to see my medical card & hospital card. I take out my wallet and hand them over. -contraction- She tells me to keep my wallet on hand because she will be returning me my medical card. Sigh. I take my wallet back out. She finally hands the card back to me and directs us to the waiting area. -contraction- We follow the nurse to the waiting area. It has beds separated by curtains. Same as last time. She hands me a hospital gown and draws the curtains to give me privacy. -contraction- I take off my dress... … MY WATER BREAKS!!!
WATER BREAKING: Rupture of the amniotic sac, a fluid-filled membranous sac in which the baby is cushioned and surrounded. This typically happens at the beginning or during active labour.
It felt like a huge warm puddle just splashed out from in between my legs, soaking my underwear and pouring out, hitting the ground dramatically like someone just tipped over a bucket of water. Then, came the worst contraction YET, so powerful that it took the air out of my lungs. I tried to talk, tried to scream out Oli's name, but nothing came out of my mouth as I struggled to stand straight. "Oli... my water... just broke..." I silently mouthed. WHERE WAS HE? WHAT WAS HE DOING? HE WAS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN! (He later confirmed with me that he had told me he was going to the bathroom real quick, but I didn't hear him so I thought he was nearby this whole time). "Oli..." I managed to croak out, realizing his absence, yet hoping he was maybe just foolishly standing outside of the curtain. He finally appears, completely clueless. "My... water... just... broke... ahhh!" I tried to tell him, when another contraction hits me with full force, compelling me to grip onto the bed for support. I bet you're wondering why I'm not lying down at this point. Sadly, I have absolutely no energy nor willpower to command my legs to move. My two feet are pinned to the floor, knees wobbling from the pain coming from the contraction. Oli quickly pressed on the assistance button, but I failed to notice that. "CALL SOMEONE..." I spit out viciously. DON'T JUST STAND THERE?! "I did!" he responded with a panicky voice. A nurse appeared from behind and said: "I'm here, I'm here." "Her water just broke!" Oli quickly said. OMG. WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS DIALOGUE. LOOK AT THE FLOOR. IT'S WET. My irritation was quickly dissipated by this next HORRENDOUS feeling that brought out a terrifying, loud, ROARING scream that I never knew my vocal cords could ever produce. If you ask me today to try and recreate that scream, I could not. The feeling was so foreign, I wondered then and there, for a split second, had a limb been chopped off of my body, would I scream the same way? My crazy loud screech scared even myself for a second there. I can't even imagine what Oli's reaction was... He was probably stunned, scared and nervous as ever; he's never heard such a monstrous sound coming from me before. This feeling... it was definitely the baby making his official descent. The only way to describe it was that it felt like a bowling ball dropping down to the lowest possible part of my pelvis, and it wasn't something you could hold in or control. It was coming out on its own at full speed. Gravity was pulling it down like a magnetic force. Nurses appeared in a matter of seconds and rushed around us to help me lie down. I wouldn't budge. I couldn't. With my eyes closed shut, all I heard were voices: "Let's lie her down to see how dilated she is!" "She's there... She's right there [fully dilated]... The baby's there!" "OK lie down honey!" "No, we go to the delivery room NOW, there's no time." I screamed over their voices to take over their indecisiveness with desperation: "GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL PLEAAAAAAASE!!!" "No, we don't have time for that! Get a wheelchair!" "THE EPIDURAL PLEAAAAAAASE!!!" "Here's the wheelchair." "THE EPIDURAAAAL!!!" "There's no time for an epidural." "Ok sit down sweetheart we're going." "THE EPIDURAL. GIVE ME THE EPIDURAL NOW. PLEEEEEEAAAAAAASE!!!"
EPIDURAL: An epidural is a way to deliver an anesthetic so that it stops pain signals traveling from the spine to the brain. It involves injecting a small amount of anesthetic into the epidural space of the spine. The epidural space is filled with fluid and surrounds the spinal cord. Nerves that carry pain signals from the body to the brain connect to the spinal cord in certain places. The anesthetic numbs the spinal nerves, blocking the pain signals.
I was somehow back on the wheelchair and just constantly yelling: "PLEASE PLEASE PLEAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! THE EPIDURAAAAAHHHHH!!!" Every bloodcurdling scream was caused by that same bowling ball sensation. Everyone around me was repeatedly telling me it was too late for an epidural, and meanwhile, the person pushing me down the hallway was asking loudly: "Which room? Which room?" SO SHE WAS PUSHING ME WITHOUT A DESTINATION IN MIND? Everyone was running behind us and someone answered: "ONE THIRTY FIVE!" The whole thing was so cinematic, and I know the way I'm describing it seems exactly like a movie scene, but Olivier can confirm that from his perspective, it was unfolding exactly as dramatic as in the movies. I was flying down the hall in the same rickety wheelchair that didn't even have steps for my feet, so I had to hold my darn feet up, which was extra effort because I was already balancing myself to put weight on one butt cheek only. A doctor joined the sprint. We dashed right and left and right again. WERE WE IN A MAZE? We finally arrive to room 135. I had five pairs of arms helping me move onto the delivery bed as I continuously asked for the epidural. Looking back now, I can better understand my irrational begging and justify myself here. I think I was so desperate, I was trying all my chances. My frantic thought process was probably something along the lines of:" Hey, maybe if I keep asking, they'll finally give in so I can shut the f*ck up about it." But alas, no, my efforts were in vain. I was defeated but still wildly squirming in bed, refusing to lay on my back. I asked them to flip me around because I felt physically incapable of staying on my back (you can usually choose which position to give birth in). Nurses were struggling as they tried to pin my arms and legs to the bed. Oli was watching me flail around, wondering where on earth I was trying to escape to. He remained on my right, gripping my hand tightly as he tried to calm me down. My will to flip around was stronger than their futile attempts to keep me still. I was in flight or fight mode. I instinctively chose flight by trying to find ways to avoid the pain. I was mentally not prepared for delivery without the epidural. Last pregnancy, the epidural eliminated all pain, giving me such a smooth and relaxing experience. This was a brutal contrast. So many feelings came rushing in at that moment as I was being pinned down to the bed. I wanted to pass out. I wanted to be unconscious. I even wanted a C-section! I dare say I almost wanted to die just so I could avoid what was about to come. I also had a small flash of desperation where I was looking up at the ceiling, mentally seeking help from some sort of higher entity because it felt like nobody in this room was on my side. One of the nurses snapped me back to reality. She was the only one with her arms covered in tattoos. With her stern and calm voice, she said my name. She said it in the same manner when negotiating with an inconsolable toddler. "It's time to push right now, the baby is coming," she calmly said. The baby... I totally forgot about the baby. I guess he was priority. How foolish of me! Maybe switching positions now was unsafe for him. Maybe moving so much was dangerous. I calmed down by half a decibel and forced every muscle in my body to stop wriggling. I concentrated on pushing instead. Someone said the faster I pushed, the faster this would be over. Right. Duh. Why was I resisting this? And just like that, Adrian was born after just three pushes.
ONE-DAY-OLD ADRIAN MAY 26TH 2021
Would I do it all over again for a third baby? Absolutely. Worth it.
Photos by: Julia C. Vona / Junophoto
Adrian at 13 days old