Monday, September 1, 2008
My due date came. And it went. And I remained quite nonplussed by it, seeing as most of the research I had done indicated that it was more of a guesstimate kind of date and not something to be written in stone. Give or take two weeks, at some point before the end of the year the baby would surely make its appearance.
It had been a good pregnancy, I enjoyed almost every moment of growing a rounder and rounder belly and the exciting anticipation of finally getting to meet this precious little life 'on the outside'. I had done lots of swimming and acupuncture as preparation and was listening to my relaxing hypnobirthing meditation regularly. The uncomfortableness of the early nausea, later heartburn and constant wearing of the support stockings (wicked veins, you) was really not a big deal in comparison to the miracle that my body was creating.
Christmas came. And it went. I was happy to get to spend it with family and good friends as I thought that I might not have the opportunity to do so, had the baby been 'on time'. Well, I was determined to let it take its time when we found ourselves at the 10-day-overdue-ultrasound-and-check. Baby was well and so was I so off we went on our merry way. Me actually feeling quite relieved as I still had many things to check off on my 'to do' list (as usual). It had been a whirlwind of a year encompassing a wedding, a new house and a company takeover and I was more than happy to have a little extra time to unwind from it all and make those last minute preparations for baby.
As promised, we appeared at the hospital for another check on the 11th day. In waltzed the nurse, clipboard in hand, announcing that we were the next on the induction list. But we weren't here to be induced, I replied with a polite smile. We met with quite some resistance as we attempted to explain our desire to wait for things to happen naturally. But that baby is too big! The placenta will disintegrate! It must come out and soon and by the way, it was quiet on the ward and they could take us now. Who knows what could happen over the weekend if things got busy?
I didn't like where this was headed and asked to see the doctor, as I knew that he or she would have the final say on releasing us and allowing us some time to work on our natural alternatives to bringing the labour on. Ironically, the Doc on call had just returned from China where she studied acupuncture, but was unable to perform any on me due to legal issues with the hospital. As luck would have it, I was able to get my acupuncturist on the line and she had an immediate opening. Reluctantly, they let us leave with the promise of returning the next day for another check.
Feeling much better after my 'poking' session, we headed home with instructions on how to self- administer the correct acupressure points. We also picked up a herbal remedy which was supposed to bring the labour on. A long night followed and in the middle of the next day we received a frantic call from my friend the nurse. Where are we? Why aren't we there yet? Are we refusing to come in? Is that what she should write on the chart? No, I replied as calmly as I could. We will be there – for another check – in an hour or two. Then I hung up and promptly burst into tears. A call to our doula later (who then made a call of her own to the manager of the hospital staff, who was a friend, asking them to kindly back off) and I was in a somewhat calmer state.
In we went, Day 12, still no contractions but getting the green light on the stress test. The Doctor on that day turned out to be a reasonable man who stated his case but respected our right to make our own decision. “I have one trick left up my sleeve” I said as we headed out once again with the promise to let him start the induction process the following day around noon, should I not be able to have the labour start on its own by then. Exit hospital, enter pharmacy.
After a quick online research session I prepare the first dose of Caster Oil... mixed with chocolate ice cream and protein powder to help it go down. The second dose was taken two hours later and about an hour later the contractions started like clockwork. The following six hours which passed at home were a combination of excitement and agony. A walk around the block was taken, with stops now and then for a contraction to come and go. My husband was sent to bed, with orders to get some rest before the big task of being a co-coach (along with our doula). We had been in close phone contact over the past couple of days and at the time of the last call she had advised me to wait it out as long as I could before heading to the hospital.
Cocooning myself in my yellow meditation room, I rock through the next several hours, mostly leaning on my big exercise ball on my knees and working through some breathing exercises. I draw an angel card and begin a vision board to welcome my child into the world. There is a large basket full of paperwork which had been waiting to be filed which I decide isn't so important after all. That was the last item on 'the list'. I come to terms with the fact that it's never going to be all done, that it's really a big ongoing process called life. And I am focused on bringing this life within me into the world. And soon.
The time comes when I decide I would like to head to the hospital. The contractions have become so intense that I can't imagine experiencing any stronger ones in the car on the way. Indeed, I am almost three centimeters dilated by the time we are seen in triage and assigned to a labour & delivery room. The next few hours passed in a blur of pain, breathing, being thankful for my support people and for the laughing gas, which is taking the edge off the contractions, if only momentarily. With some gentle coaxing, I am in and out of the shower twice and then am overcome by the intense need to push.
Not yet! I am advised by the labour nurse and my doula. It seems the baby's head hasn't quite passed through the cervix yet, quite like a turtleneck going over your head, they explain. They also attempt to explain the need for me to bring the pitch of my moans down a few octaves, in order to assist my body with birthing. It takes a while for me to understand and implement this, but I eventually do. And it does help the progression of things... then all of the sudden I AM allowed to push, and I do. And I push and push and push some more.
The Doctor has been around once or twice by now and I understand that we're nearing the end when he takes his position at the end of the bed and joins in on the encouraging chorus. You can do it! You're almost there! I reach down and feel baby's hair. It is both surreal and so real at the same time, I am deeply in my 'maternityland' trance-like state and yet I am present as never before. Two last big pushes and... the baby is here!!!
The nurse had explained to me a little earlier (in between contractions) that they weren't going to be able to give me the baby immediately as I had indicated on the birth plan. It had swallowed some meconium and needed to be suctioned and checked over by a team of nurses first. So I was prepared to have to wait a few minutes before getting to hold my precious bundle. However, I was not prepared for those few minutes to feel like hours!! I look over and see the flurry of activity surrounding the heat lamp to the right of me. Reaching my arm out to my husband, I ask “boy or girl? Boy or girl?”. It takes him a few moments of looking over the shoulders of the nurses to finally get a clear view.
“Girl!” and I weep with incredulous joy. A girl!
They bring my tiny angel over to me and place her in my waiting arms. I am smiling, radiant, surrounded by so much love and awe. This beautiful little being is all ours to care for and love. I feel more complete than I ever have before in my life.