After going into labour at 28 weeks and then carefully observing 8 weeks of bed rest, Felicity decided that the womb was a pretty awesome place to be and she was staying put. My due date came and went without any sign that she was going to make an appearance.
On Wednesday afternoon (5 days past my due date), after trying nearly every natural labour inducer out there (red raspberry leaf, evening primrose oil, long walks, nipple stimulation, bouncing on the ball, spicy food, pineapple, stretch and sweeps, warm baths, meditation, sex, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture) I finally turned to castor oil. I took 3 tablespoons in the early afternoon and crossed my fingers that the effects wouldn’t be too horrible.
The afternoon progressed and the castor oil didn’t seem to do a thing. I went to bed resigned to the fact that this baby was going nowhere till she was good and ready. At around 4am, I woke up to some pretty uncomfortable contractions. They were about 5 minutes apart, but I slept between them thinking that whether it was the real thing or not, I would need my rest. By 6am, they were too painful and regular to sleep any more so I got up. The castor oil finally made its way through my system and I wondered if it was just bowel cramps. Half an hour later, it was obvious that this was no false alarm.
I woke up Adam and Hayden and called the midwives. By this time, I had to stop, rock, and breathe through each contraction. Basak was on call, which I was thrilled about as she and I have very similar views on childbirth and interventions. I explained my progress and she told us that we needed to hurry up and get to the hospital. She warned me that if my water broke, things would progress REALLY fast.
Adam called my mum and Rain while I had a shower. He was calling his clients to cancel that day’s appointments when I came back downstairs. I told him to forget work and get Hayden ready because things were getting intense. Hayden was very sweet and hugging me, asking endless questions every time I had a contraction. We tried to explain to him that baby was coming and it hurt mummy a little. That he would meet his baby sister after school. We dropped him off around 7am and raced into Guelph. Adam decided to take the back roads and ended up at a dead end with construction. He quickly navigated other back roads, over bumps and dirt roads – the whole time my contractions were coming about every 3-4 minutes. He weaved around red lights and sped the whole way.
When we arrived at the hospital, Rain was just getting out of her car too. Rain helped me get to the L&D floor while Adam parked the car. She would very soothingly tell me I was doing great and rub my back and shoulders every time a contraction stopped our progress. We waited for what seemed like forever for the nurses to even let us into the floor. Basak came to open the door and we made our way directly to a birthing room. It was there that I learned that the birthing tub was out of order. This freaked me RIGHT out as it was my first choice for pain control.
I changed into a gown and laboured on my birthing ball – loving the movement and counter-pressure on my perineum. Basak and Christine helped to guide my vocalizations to be long and drawn out. When they checked me, I was about 4cm but Christine thought that she could feel a nose or brow presenting. Basak felt as well and confirmed. They agreed to let me continue labouring in hopes that baby would turn. My water was still intact and there was a chance baby would turn on her own as the contractions continued. Mum arrived while I was in full-on labour mode, vocalizing quite loudly through each contraction.
Around this time (maybe 9am) the contractions started getting really intense. I tried labouring in the shower for a few minutes but just ended up feeling cold and wet so back to the bed we went. When they checked me again I was 6cm but Basak still felt facial features. They called the OB to confirm as a face-first presentation could not be delivered naturally. He was in the operating room and could be there in 45 minutes.
Mum, Rain and Adam were all very attentive birth attendants. They put cold cloths on my neck and brow, gave me fluids, encouraged me gently through each contraction and surrounded me with love. The midwives were great at doing all the technical procedures in the background without interrupting my rhythm. They were also having trouble getting a good heart rate on the baby. They started an IV to give me more fluids and also gave me rescue remedy to try and calm me down. The OB arrived, checked me and said that the baby seemed to be presenting fine. He broke my water and they found thin muconium in my fluid. He applied a scalp monitor to baby’s head to get a more reliable read on her heart. This was not very successful and a little concerning, but the reason why will be explained as the story unfolds.
I sort of lost my cool around this time and the pain overwhelmed me. I was practically screaming through each contraction. After an hour of contractions with the water broken I was still 6cm. Basak told me that she thought something was not quite right. She said if baby was in the optimal position, her head would be pressing on my cervix and I should have delivered her by now. She suggested an epidural to relax my body. I agreed enthusiastically.
After the epidural was in place, I felt my sanity returning. The intensity of labouring without drugs had been overwhelming. Probably what pushed me over the edge was knowing that even with all the pain, I wasn’t progressing. Basak kicked everyone out of the room and insisted I sleep for a few hours to see if my body totally relaxed, baby would turn and come down. While I lay there quietly, I had a good internal chat with this baby and encouraged her to come out, that I loved her and that I wished for her health. In return, I got a very strong feeling that this baby was a girl.
I slept for two hours. When Basak checked me again, I was still 6cm and again she felt a face. At this point she said that she believed baby was face down the whole time. There was no way I could vaginally deliver a baby in this position and it would be impossible to turn her head without harming her face. I would have to have a c-section. The doctor re-appeared, confirmed the position and said I would be heading to the OR in 15 minutes. I cried a little as after so much effort to deliver her without any drugs or intervention, I was now going to endure the most medical birth out there.
After kissing everyone goodbye, they wheeled me to the OR and began preparations. My legs were straightened and strapped down, my belly was scrubbed, a top-up of my epidural left me with only pressure sensation below my chest, and the sheet was raised to keep me from looking at the surgery. Adam was seated by my left side and held my hand as the surgery began. The midwives asked for weight and gender guesses and they both chose weights in the 7 lb range with a girl. I said 8lbs 6ozs, girl, and they both told me there was no way I had a baby over 8lbs in my belly (which had measured small all through the last trimester).
The procedure was quite quick and before I knew it, I felt incredible pressure as they tried to pull her from my belly. Her head was so stuck in my pelvis that they had to widen the incision and use forceps to pry her out. And then, the most wonderful sound a mother could hear – she cried and the doctor announced that it was a girl. I burst into tears.
Basak took her to the warming table to clean her off and get her APGAR scores. Adam followed and took photos of her first minutes of life. She scored a 9, 9 and 10 on her APGARs and was breathing really well. On the scale, everyone was shocked. I was dead on – she was 8lbs 6ozs. They bundled her up and brought her to me, holding her beside my face so I could look at this little stubborn lady. Despite being warned that her face might be black and blue from pushing against my pelvis, she was perfect. She was a little swollen (earning her the nickname squishy) and she had one mark above her eyebrow where the doctor had applied the scalp probe (no wonder they couldn’t keep a good read on her!). I gently stroked her face and welcomed Felicity to the world. She frowned at me and blinked furiously at the bright lights.
As they stitched me back up, Adam and the midwives went back to our room to share Felicity with mum and Rain. The doctor gave me two medications for nausea and I was right out of it.
Soon I was being wheeled back to my room to reunite with my daughter. She was placed in my arms and we stared at each other in loving wonder. I brought her to my breast and she instantly began nursing. She had an excellent latch from the start – a nursing natural.
Felicity is the opposite of her brother’s personality so far. She sits quietly studying and frowning at the world around her and cries only when she’s hungry or has gas. At a week old, she already sleeping for long stretches and has gained 7oz from her birth weight. She has a head full of light brown hair and chubby little thighs.
She’s an angel baby and has dispelled my belief that I would have a house full of boys. After looking at my own baby pictures, she’s a dead ringer for the infant me. And so far, she has my relaxed personality as well. And so our family seems complete – Hayden is a mini-Adam and Felicity takes after her mum. What a perfect beginning.