Welcome to the World Little Man!!!
In our prenatal classes, they cautioned us against using the phrase “birth plan”, when discussing how we wanted our birth experience to go. Instead, they encouraged us to use the words “birth wishes”…and for good reason. When it comes to labour and delivery, things rarely go according to plan and Sawyer’s birth was no exception. For comedic effect, I have included our “birth wishes” below. This photo was taken during an exercise done in our prenatal classes, in which you lay out cards that detail exactly what kind of labour you hope to have. You are then encouraged to change and remove cards a few at a time until you are staring at almost the exact opposite cards you started with. The only cards you were allowed to keep were those in your top two…one of which would be the obvious “healthy baby”. The lesson was to understand that you cannot always control this process and that everyone’s priority will be on ensuring a healthy baby and a healthy mama.
For kicks and giggles, let’s go through a few of our idealized plans and see how things actually turned out.
Birth wish 1, 2 and 3
Labour starts on its own
Early laboring at home
Labour progresses naturally
Oh the plans we made! I, like many, am not a fan of hospitals and so I obviously wanted to spend as little time in one as possible. In a perfect world, my plan was to go into labour sometime in the early afternoon, while making a beautifully nourishing lunch in the kitchen, while obviously barefoot. I would feel a few small contractions before calling Jamie at work to tell him to come home. I would walk from room to room, massaging my belly, pausing every so often to breathe through a contraction. Jamie would follow me around ensuring that I had a steady supply of massages, acupressure and water. He would offer me the occasional labour popsicle or frozen grape while I labored peacefully in the comfort of our own home and if I felt like it, our nice warm tub. Eventually, when the contractions hit that sweet spot of 4-1-1, I would fix my make-up, brush my hair, grab our hospital bag and we would adorably race to the hospital to deliver our sweet baby boy.
On Sunday, July 30 (one day overdue) I woke up to discover that I was leaking…ahem…fluid. I immediately suspected that my water had broke, but unlike the movies, it wasn’t a gush. After a quick Google search and some quiet contemplation, I woke Jamie up and told him what I thought happened. Given that only 10% of women experience their water breaking, we weren’t 100% sure, but we figured we should get checked out. We got up slowly, threw a few more things into the hospital bag, combed our hair, brushed our teeth, generally took our time and arrived at the Rockyview Hospital a short time later. After a quick check by the on call doctor, we were told that my water had not in fact broken. The likely explanation was that I peed myself (!&?*%). Okay fine, but I was pretty sure I could tell the difference between pee and leaking fluid. That said, I was overdue, heavily pregnant and let’s face it, weird stuff happens to the body around that time, so we accepted it as a false alarm and disappointingly went home. After a quick nap, we went about our day as if it were any other Sunday, running errands and even having our parents over for dinner…but the slow leak kept up all day and my suspicion continued.
That same night we went to bed around 10:30 p.m. and just a short time later, at midnight, I woke up still leaking and now bleeding. I woke Jamie up and this time there was no dilly dallying. We arrived at the hospital in record time and just as the doctor was getting ready to check me out, my Hollywood moment arrived…big gush, water “officially” broke and we were off to the races! The only hitch was that because we had come in the previous morning suspecting my water had broke, they erred on the side of caution and decided to clock my water break back to the following morning just in case. Apparently, when your water breaks, you have 24 hours to go into labour naturally, otherwise you are at a high risk of infection. In light of that fact, we were faced with two options, induce right away or take the next two hours to try and get labour going on our own. As per our “birth wishes” I reeeeally didn’t want to be induced, so we took option two. This is how Jamie and I ended up doing laps around Rockyview at 2 o’clock in the morning with the red moon (thank you forest fires) and the bats O_O…creepy.
Though I was able to get a few contractions going, they weren’t regular or strong and so the decision was made to induce.
Birth wish 4, 5 and 6
Intermittent fetal monitoring
Able to move during labour
If I had to labour in the hospital, I really didn’t want to be hooked up to anything. I wanted to be free to move around as much as possible so that I could walk, squat, shower and roll around on the birth ball. An IV and a fetal monitor would have made that difficult.
Oxytocin IV, constant fetal monitoring, confined to a hospital bed
Around 6:00 a.m., we were moved into our delivery room where I was immediately hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and the oxytocin started to flow. As a side note, this room was swank…comfy bed, dim lighting, a big cozy recliner for Jamie, our own personal nurse, and a view of the reservoir. Though I was confined to the bed, I was surprisingly okay with that. I was pretty pooped, so the idea of doing more laps wasn’t terribly appealing anyways.
Funny side story – as we were being moved into our room, we could hear the woman next door screaming her friggin’ face off! We later found out the she went drug free…which is a lovely segway into…
Birth wish 7
No drugs or epidural
I had read some books, done some research and was feeling super confident that I would not need drugs to manage my pain. I was a yoga teacher for goodness sake…I could breathe through anything! And mind over matter? Psh…I meditate…I got this. I had even subscribed to the belief that this experience would not be “painful”, rather it would be “energetic” and filled with “pressure”. If I’m being totally honest though, my reasons for wanting to go drug free were not exactly honorable. Though there are obvious benefits to going drug free to both mom and baby, I think I really just wanted the medal that they hand out to moms who have a natural/drug free child birth. Wait. What? There’s no medal!? WTF!
Bring on the epidural!!
Once the oxytocin kicked in and my contractions really got going, I rocked it – breathing through contractions, experiencing the contraction as a rush of energy and pressure, not pain. I was holding my labour beads (more on those another time), eating my ice chips, even playing a game of Yhatzee with Jamie in between contractions…and for about three hours I continued to rock it. Then that sneaky little nurse waltzed over to my IV, upped the oxytocin levels (because my contractions weren’t “quite where they needed to be”) and within a matter of minutes, I was done! Those contractions were no joke. I was also having what they refer to as “coupling”, which meant that my contractions were coming two and three at a time without a break in between…tres exhausting. At that point I was in pain, I was pooped (having had an hour and a half of sleep in 24 hours) and I was shaking uncontrollably. I told Jamie and our nurse that I could do this for one more hour before I had nothing left and that if I didn’t get some relief I wasn’t gonna do this again! Yup…I really said that. In that time, some serious contemplation was done on the benefits of having an only child.
There really is no way to be prepared for the intensity of labour unless you have been through it before. I can honestly say that I had no idea how painful that was going to feel (for me…I totally acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be different) and there really is no medal awarded if you don’t take the drugs!!!
It should be stated here that Jamie was the “keeper of the birth wishes” and he took his job very seriously. Knowing how much I had wanted a drug-free labour, he followed protocol and asked me five to ten times if I was sure. By the fifth or sixth time, I pretty much screamed at the poor man that I was definitely, absolutely, without a doubt, positively sure that I wanted that damn epidural!!!
Within about 15 minutes (Jamie will tell you it was longer and he’s probably right because I lost all concept of time), the anesthesiologist floated into our room like an angel with his needle full of magic, hooked me up with my epidural and an enchanting blue button to regulate the drugs, and I was floating away on a cloud of numbness…it was GLORIOUS! I will say though that the biggest challenge was not the feeling of the needle going into my SPINE, rather it was being asked to remain perfectly still as the contractions continued to rock my body!
After I got the epidural, the doctor came in to check me out and determined that I was about 3 cm dilated. As you can imagine, I was super thankful that I ordered the epidural when I did. I would never advocate for one type of labour over another, but once that epidural kicked in, all I could think was “why doesn’t everyone do this!?” I was laughing and joking with everyone and generally felt awesome. Jamie and I were both able to catch some naps, we watched some Harry Potter, my mom popped in for a visit, we chatted up the nurse and our doctor, I texted my friends and family with updates and we waited patiently for the arrival of our little man.
Birth wish 7 and 8
Knowing your caregiver
Knowing your caregiver was a big one for me and one that was surprisingly realistic given that we chose to work with a GP instead of a midwife. My doctor had been my doctor since I was 17 years old and through the years I had interacted with her and a number of the doctors in her practice. I fully anticipated having a doctor that I knew. Also, I had read and heard that tearing heals better and faster than episiotomies, so naturally, I didn’t want an episiotomy.
Dr. Chapel (who dat?)
In that time, we also realized that Little T was facing the wrong way. His nose was pointing to the right and we needed him face down for delivery. So between movies and naps, I was being tipped side to side in an effort to turn him and eventually ended up in a bit of a table top which got the job done. Around 5:00 p.m., Dr. Chapel (a doctor from another practice) came around to ask if I had any urge to push or poop. I didn’t, but she checked me anyways. After a quick check, she popped her head up and said “well, if you’re not feeling it yet, you’re not gonna cause that’s his head!” I was fully dilated and Little Titty was just about ready to enter the world.
Holy moly pushing is hard work!! It’s exhausting and when you’re still a bit numb, it’s hard to know if you’re doing it right. Can I just say here that my husband was AMAZING while I was pushing. He counted me through contractions and pushes, kept a cold cloth on my head the whole time and managed buckety (my puke bucket!) like a champ. He didn’t faint or falter in any way when things got tough or icky. He’s always been my teammate, but I have never felt so reliant on him before. He was a rock and I couldn’t have made it through that without him.
Our doctor and our personal nurse, though they were new to me were so great. They were kind, competent and super encouraging. I pushed for about an hour and a half before I was offered an episiotomy to the east to prevent a tear to the south (if you know what I’m saying) and I said “YUP!” Once that was done, and with a little extra tearing thanks to a little hand that decided to come out with that head, Sawyer Brian Titterton sailed his way into the world crying, kicking and pooping everywhere…literally…I was covered in poop for hours…LOL!
Birth wish 9 (and the only one that really mattered)
BEAUTIFUL healthy baby
Though there were only four of us in the room at the time (five if you count Sawyer), it felt like the whole room erupted with the joy and excitement of a hundred people. Jamie promptly burst into tears when he saw our beautiful boy and words cannot describe the emotion I felt when they put our son on my chest. As soon as he was on my chest the crying stopped (his not ours) and the cooing and grunting began…it’s like he knew he was home. He was calm and curious and so alert! He was staring right into daddy’s eyes and when I would talk to him he would move his head and his eyes up to look at me. At two days overdue, he had a strong neck and even gave us some good little head bobs! He was taking it all in and we could not get enough of him.
For an hour, we just got to soak him up. We stared at every finger and every toe and marveled at the size of his feet!! He’s gonna be a swimmer with those pads for sure! I thought he looked just like me – daddy thought he looked just like him – and he looked at us like he knew exactly who we were. Our first attempt at breastfeeding was a roaring success and our little man fed for 50 minutes! In those two hours, daddy was updating the world with texts and phone calls announcing Sawyer’s arrival…all the while waiting patiently for his chance to hold his son.
Though we didn’t get the birth experience that we thought we wanted, it was absolutely perfect and I would not have changed a thing…seriously. In the end, no matter how we got there, we delivered a beautiful, healthy baby boy and I came out of it pretty sore but relatively unscathed…and thanks to that epidural, you better believe I cannot wait to do that again!
love, lust and baby dust,