Violet’s (very entertaining) Birth Story
This story comes from one of my former Hypnobabies students who attended my classes in April/May of 2013. It’s a long, but incredibly entertaining read! In the beginning she shares her very strong views on our current medical maternity care system from her experiences as a postpartum nurse. I actually thought about editing some of it out so as to not scare some of you who are currently in the medical maternity care system, but decided to include it all in the end as everyone is entitled to their own opinions and her take on things from a nurses perspective is very interesting to read about. It will also help you understand, as I’m sure was her point, why she chose midwifery care. Enjoy her beautiful story!
I never gave much thought about birth and labour growing up. What was there to think about? It was an extremely painful event; you took drugs, and had your baby in a hospital. Everybody knew that. It was not until I was in nursing school that my perspective changed. I had a Scottish midwife named Maureen teach my maternity course. She taught us how the female body was cleverly engineered to handle this process. She definitely opened my eyes to a whole different world, and gave me a passion I never knew existed.
After I graduated, I obtained employment at the Royal Alexandra Hospital on the gynecological and postpartum unit. I loved the surgical unit, where I spent most of my time, but I was just itching to get up onto postpartum! I eventually was trained for postpartum, and learned a lot more in orientation about breast-feeding from a lactation consultant, as well as other information to ready me for the floor. I was young, hadn’t had my own childbearing experiences and was expected to educate these women on a whole new world in the shortest of time. Looking back, I am completely embarrassed how I had sent so many women home with such little information. It is no wonder that women develop postpartum depression after being objectified during what should be the most empowering part of their life, and then being pushed out the door with almost no information. There is so much a new parent needs to know. I remember Justin, my partner, recalled from the birth of his first son, that he couldn’t believe they had to go home. He was shocked, and thought, “This thing is not going to make it through the night!” They felt unprepared.
After working on the postpartum unit for a year, I began to despise it and the professionals I worked with. I hated going to work to find out I was on that unit. I just wanted to go back to my surgical unit. I felt my passion for maternity dying. I remember one patient who had had a natural childbirth came through. She had a birth plan and wanted control over this event, as she should have. She had asked that her baby not be washed in hospital, and that she and her husband would do it at home. The nurses were so disgusted, and gossiped how they would not touch that baby without gloves, and how annoying this “patient” was. The nurses disgusted me. Why was it necessary to have the baby shipped away right after birth, in a building with bright lights and full of strangers poking and prodding, just to give it a bath and an assessment? The father is sometimes allowed to go with the baby. Why can’t the assessment be done in the birthing room, or postpartum room? This is valuable time that can be spent with mother and baby bonding, but instead mom and baby are separated, and scared. “Welcome baby!” Not!
In my experience, baths decrease babies’ body temperature. This is why nurses check their temperature every four hours: an unnecessary intervention leading to another unnecessary intervention. Since mom is not in the nursery where the bath is done, no skin-to-skin contact can be established, which is the most effective way to warm a baby. Instead, in the hospital, when a baby is too cold, which is often the result after the bath; they are put under a warmer in the nursery. Yet again, another valuable moment that could be spent bonding with mom.
It is the disrespect the nurses have for a beautiful and natural process, and all the interventions, and the lack of time and knowledge available to these new moms that made me hate such a powerful process. OBGYN’s have so many patients, that they are quickly objectified, and moved on like a herd of cattle.
Editors note: Fortunately, they do not usually separate the baby from the mother anymore, unless there are health issues that need to be addressed. This has been policy at all Edmonton and area hopitals for quite a while now (except the Royal Alex). Recently, however, even the Royal Alex hospital is starting to change the way they do things and are moving towards a more family centered postpartum care experience. Regardless, all of the typical newborn procedures (including the bath) are the parents decision and they just need to speak up and make their choices known. The same goes for the birth experience. You, as a birthing mother, are the one in charge and you and your birth partner get to make all decisions regarding your care (unless there is an emergency situation). No one can force you to do something that you are uncomfortable with.
When I moved to Australia for additional nursing training, I was surprised to learn that they are predominantly a midwife society. I was still quite turned off from my earlier experience, and took no interest. I was given maternity for my final practicum. I spent about two weeks each in antenatal, postpartum, special care nursery, and labour and delivery. It was a great experience. I was even able to catch a baby! Women birthed in hospitals, but were attended by midwifes. I am not saying their system is perfect, but women seem to consider natural births as normal, much more than we do here. Every week, a group of midwives and some obstetricians get together and discuss all the cesarean deliveries, and what could have been done to avoid them. In Canada, C-sections are regarded as normal. How can major abdominal surgery ever be… normal? They say that Australia and countries where midwifes are dominant are so far advanced when compared to North America. How can this occupation be so advanced, when it is one of the oldest professions in the world? Technology is supposed to be advanced. It goes to show that some things are not better when digested by technology.
When I was back home in Canada, and found out I was pregnant, it was a surprise. I knew I definitely did not want to be in the system for this delivery. The night that second little pink line showed up on my pee stick, I started up the Google machine in search for a midwife. I had read somewhere that to have a midwife, you practically have to know the instant you conceive. They are few and far between compared to obstetricians, and can only take so many mothers. I knew they used to practice in Stony Plain, but that that ship had sailed.
I emailed several midwives. I initially wanted one that practiced in the Sturgeon Hospital as I heard it was very nice, and Justin was uncomfortable with a home birth. Marie was able to fit us in, and I am lucky she did. She had been waiting for a callback from another mom who was due around the same time as me, and she only had one spot left for that month. She suggested we deliver in the Lucina Birth Centre. That was a good compromise for Justin and I.
The care with a midwife was wonderful. You were treated like a person; like a friend. You weren’t rushed out the door and denied any information. She gave you answers to questions you hadn’t thought to ask. You were in control, and she was guiding you. She never judged you on the choices you were making for your new family. She even discussed issues that she sensed upset you in your personal life. What obstetrician on which planet would ever have time for that? Not only did she have awesome prenatal rapport, but she also followed you for 6 weeks postpartum and came to your house twice. She kept in close contact by email, phone, and text. She also arranged group appointments for us mothers, which I was unsure of at first, but soon grew to love these appointments and the new friends I had met in them. It was nice to have women to relate to. Even though I had a pretty good knowledge base for this kind of stuff given my experience, I was amazed at the amount of information I soaked up from this experience. So when things started to happen on that wonderful night, I felt confident and excited instead of panicked and scared: which I totally think helps the body to work its magic better.
My Baby’s story started on the night of June 18th. It was about 10pm when I went to the bathroom for a routine, frequent potty break. This was nothing special being 39 weeks and 6 days gestation. Tomorrow was the big day. Actually, it was Justin’s birthday, and also my due date. I have learned that most first time moms are late on average 10 days. My birth bag was not even fully packed yet. I still hadn’t decided which outfit I wanted to birth in, labour in, and come home in, among other things that only a first time mom would think important. To my great surprise, there was quite a bit of blood in my underwear. I did not panic at all and figured this was my bloody show. I contacted Marie, and told her. I also had some slight cramps at the time, but they were barely noticeable. Marie suggested I go to bed and watch my bleeding. She did not seem certain it was my bloody show and suggested I keep her posted. I had bled before during intercourse weeks before. Perhaps she thought it might be my engorged cervix once again. She told me to sleep and keep her posted.
Sleep?? The only thing I could think of was that I had to crochet more of the baby blanket I had started a week ago! If this was the bloody show, things were about to happen. I know that you are supposed to rest as much as you can early to conserve your energy, so I am not too sure how my priorities were so backwards.
I eventually went to bed. My sleep cycle shifted into light sleep at some point as I was having cramping and some light back discomfort. I woke up around 240 am, downloaded an app on my smart phone, and began timing my contractions. I also took an herbal concoction in sublingual tablet form every 5 minutes for two hours. This was supposed to help with labour and toning of the uterus. I was so excited and kept telling myself, “THIS IS IT!!!” I lay there thinking about all the excitement, thinking I had all day to get stuff packed. I didn’t even notify Marie, or my mom who I had asked to be my doula. I figured I would wait until at least 5 am when I knew my mom would be waking up for work. Another thing I knew to do was go to the birth centre when my contractions or “pressure waves” were 5-7 minutes apart. When I began timing them, they were 4 minutes apart, and consistent. I was still fairly comfortable. “I’m not that close yet”, I thought, because women talk about the most extreme pain they have ever had.
To prepare for labour and birth, I took a Hypnobabies class. They say that many women admit to having no pain at all when using these techniques. Through my pregnancy I did listen to “Pregnancy Affirmations” (one of my Hypnobabies tracks), which I think is a powerful way to ready oneself in a positive way. Through my labour, I did not actually use any of the scripts or CDs to help relax me. I, after all had all day to begin that process. So I just lay there relaxing and breathing through them with minimal effort.
At 350 am, Justin woke up to get ready for work. He was working long hours at the time. “Happy Birthday!! You don’t have to go to work today!” He was confused. I informed him that my contractions began, and he did not seem to believe me until I showed him my app for timing contractions. He drew me a bath and turned on the T.V.
The bath helped my pressure waves quite a bit. They were a bit more intense, but still pretty comfortable. I made sure to relax and breathe through each one. After about 30 minutes, I got out of the bath, put a bra and panties on, and cuddled with Justin. He napped, and I nodded off a few times, waking up to breath though pressure waves. I set my alarm for 5 am.
At 5 am, I called my mom, and told her that I was laboring, but to carry on with her day and I would notify her when she needed to come over. I talked to Marie as well. She suggested I sleep and call her in a little while to update her. She would need ample time to reschedule her clinic for that day if I was going to progress soon. I was still fairly comfortable. We rested. At around 730 am, my pressure waves had become a bit stronger, but still tolerable. I was going to text Marie asking when I should go to the birth centre, when she called. She and I figured I was still in early labour. She suggested I take a shower and call her in half an hour.
Justin hopped up right away and jumped in the shower. On a side note, I had recruited Justin to be the landscaper in lady land as soon as my belly was too big for me to see around it. I also thought that I would have time while in early labour for him to “mow the lawn”. I certainly did not want to be naked in front of a bunch of people, let alone be a Sasquatch! Oh how ignorant I was!! Can you believe I even packed playing cards for in between pressure waves, so we would not be bored?!?
After he jumped into the shower, I got up as well. I made it five steps when my next pressure wave came, and it was the biggest as of yet. Oh boy, she was a comin’. They were intense. I cannot say it was a full on pain, because I was able to handle it, but it was discomfort and pressure. I breathed through the next few pressure waves, and as soon as Justin got out of the shower, I threw the phone at him and told him to call Marie back. He dialed her and asked me if I wanted to talk to her. He didn’t have to wait for an answer from me when he saw my face.
My waves were coming very frequently now. This was the point when I also started “mooing” through my waves. I knew I sounded ridiculous, but it helped, and I somehow did not care what people thought. This was a surprise to me, since I was fearful of many things: people seeing me naked, me having a bowel movement during birth, and the cow noises!
So the birth centre is about a 45-minute drive from where I live. Grey Nuns Hospital however, is 20 minutes. My mom is a wonderful woman, but cannot find an address for the life of her. I missed a few ringette games growing up due to her lack of navigational skills. She works at Grey nuns. I told her that we would all go to the birth centre together. So when Marie asked Justin how long it would take us to get there, and he replied 30 minutes, I had to correct him to say an hour! I then called my mom.
I lay on the bed until she got to our house. At some point I became nauseated. Justin had brought me a large bowl, which I hugged. Nothing came out, and I only felt sick during contractions. Looking back, this is when I must have crossed into transition. When Mom came into the room, she was all smiles. “I just have to go pee Arby.” She then proceeded to look at what was going on, and stuff on my dresser. “GO PEE THEN MOM!!!” My mom is not known for being efficient when making her bladder gladder, but I think she hit a record speed pee that day!
Justin helped me off of the bed and asked what I wanted to wear. OMG! What outfit was I going to wear! I had not decided yet! “That one, no, that one… oh, maybe that one. Ya, that one!” Multiple things were running through my mind. That one makes me sweat, that one is white and I don’t want fluids all over it, oh but it is way cuter! Finally I picked the sweaty one, and I’m glad I did as I felt a little trickle in my panties as I put it over my head. I was so sweaty at this point. Justin was running around packing everything up. I had a gift basket and supplies for the midwives, but of course, I hadn’t finished putting them together. At this point, I was concentrating on me so much; I could not articulate what I needed him to pack. I just kept saying, “I don’t know, I don’t know!”
While Justin was busy, mom assisted me to my dresser. I stopped for a pressure wave. It was just like any other, when all of the sudden my mooing changed to an “arrrrggghhhh” sound. My body began ejecting baby out. I WAS STILL AT HOME!! After that wave ended, I looked at my mom. Her face was serious, as was mine. She assisted my waddle to the hall, where I leaned on furniture for my next wave. “MoooOOOARRRRGGGHH!!!” I had one more similar wave here. It’s funny the things you care about. At this point, I did not care if anyone saw me naked, but when I asked mom to grab my sandals, and she brought me my fancy ones, I said, “NO! Not those ones!” Did it really matter? God No!
When I finally got into the truck, it was 858 am. My Formula-One-race-car-driver-wanna-be got us there in 20 minutes!!! All those years of watching car shows really paid off. I felt more comfortable sitting in the truck then I did standing. Gravity had made the labour much more intense, and my waves much more frequent. I had brought my puke bowl with me, as I remained nauseated though contractions. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I had a very warm wet sensation fill my whole lap: and then another gush, and another gush. I looked at Mom and Justin. “My water just broke… and I am sitting in it.” We all laughed! Justin said, “Good thing we got leather”, and smiled.
I only had a few pressure waves on the way there. Marie called shortly after our departure. When I told her my body began pushing during pressure waves, she said I would have to go to Grey Nuns. I informed her that we were ok, and that I was comfortable, (which I was), and we were on our way. There was no way I was going to start my baby’s life in an unwelcoming environment. The only thing that held us back was the red Charger in front of us. You think a car like that wouldn’t be going the speed limit, and in the fast lane to boot!! I really felt like flipping him half a peace sign and banging on his window! Didn’t he know I was in LABOUR!!
When we got to the birth centre, Marie came right to my door. She wanted me to hurry in. I was not going anywhere until my next pressure wave was complete. I was a little hesitant to let gravity have its way with me again, but this was my job! I had to relax and let my body do its magic! I do remember checking the fluid on the seat when I got up. It was clear. Good sign!
I got inside and Marie wanted me to go pee. I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me? Seriously?” Fine. Let’s do this. I waddled to the toilet. When my panties came down, the fluid was brownish. Oh! Baby decided to have a poop I was thinking, but was too busy mooing with my next wave while on the toilet to say anything. Marie had seen it as well. Mom and Justin later told me that they were sure I was going to deliver on the toilet. I cannot even remember if I actually peed or not.
Marie had the tub filled up, but wanted to check how far along I was. She asked me to lie on my side on the bed. They helped me into place. She rolled me over to my left side. Justin lay up by my head and informed me later that he was counting floor tiles the whole time. Mom was taking pictures and helping Marie down below. The other midwife showed up just in time. It was short notice after all. We had arrived at the birth centre at 918 am. Marie later informed me that she would have assisted me into the tub had baby not released her bowels inside me. This is a complication that may result in infection. Midwives are well trained to deal with these situations. As soon as I was on the bed, Marie took one look and said, “I want you to push with your next contraction.”
Finally! My body has only been trying to eject this baby on its own for a bit now. I guess it was time I could help it out. I pushed through a couple of contractions. I placed my hand between my legs and felt… something squishy? Wasn’t the head hard? I was pretty sure a skull was hard, so asked, “What is that?” “That’s the head!” they said in unison: except for Justin who was still counting tiles. “Is she bald?” I asked. “No”, and they laughed. With a couple more moos, the baby’s head emerged out fully. I remember the pain of stretching hurt. They call it the ring of fire, but that’s not what it felt like to me. It was a sharp pain, unlike the laboring pain. I did feel like I was tearing. I remember feeling disbelief that I was stretched that wide.
Once the head popped out, baby started blowing little bubbles and made gurgling sounds. Marie was busy checking if the cord was around the neck. It was. She was very calm. I remember feeling so comfortable after the head was delivered. I even asked, “Am I skinny now?” They laughed and said not yet! Marie wanted me to push with my next contraction. I was so comfortable and did not feel a next one coming. I waited. Marie said to go ahead and just push anyway. It is hard to talk yourself into doing something that does hurt. I even said, “But I’m comfortable”. Their response, “Baby wants to be born”. So I gave it my all again and pushed the rest of her out. Such relief. Marie removed the cord from around her neck and gave her straight to me. She certainly wasn’t bald, but she did not have the fro that I meant when I had asked. She was born at 0935. We had only been at the birth centre for about 20 minutes.
She pinked up right away in my arms. The first thing I said when I saw her was, “She looks like Melissa!” which is my sister. Then I looked at my baby. “Hi you little goober!” Her eyes were open, and she was taking us in. Justin was by my side welcoming his brand new daughter into our world. She gave a few Waa’s to let us know she was there and breathing. She did not sound afraid or panicked and she settled quickly. After a few minutes, when the blood had completely finished flowing into my daughter, Marie asked Dad to cut the cord! Justin said,” Darn it!” and cut it anyway. He did not want to cut the cord, as he doesn’t have the stomach for this kind of stuff.
Next was the delivery of the placenta. I remember my legs were shaking so much. I asked if this part hurt, and they said it was more like a relief feeling. They once again asked me to push with my next contraction. Contraction? I wasn’t having anymore. So they encouraged me to cough. So I coughed. And out it came slowly. It wasn’t a relief. I felt like I had done the big work, so why was I still pushing stuff out of my hole?? Hasn’t it had enough? I bit Justin’s Arm while it was coming out. Ahhh. Finally.
The bath was warm. They assisted me and my brand new goofy goober into the water. It was nice to be in the warmth, and to look my baby over. We stared at each other, learning each other’s faces. Justin was leaning over behind me, sharing our moment. “Should we tell Daddy your name?” He was anxious to know. “It’s Violet!” “I love it!” he replied. We couldn’t agree on any name through the pregnancy, including Violet. One day I decided that I was going to name her. I told Justin that I was doing all the work, and that she gets his last name. To my amazement, Mr. Opinionated agreed. I breast fed with no problem. She latched right on like a little pro! That’s my girl.
When I got out of the bath, I went and had a shower. It was the best thing ever. Especially since I hadn’t washed my hair in about four days… again, I was unprepared. Who comes on their due date, like really? I got out of the shower, popped some Advil, and lay on the bed. Marie did Violet's assessment and gave her a vitamin K shot while Violet sucked on Justin’s finger. She did not cry at all. She weighed 8lbs 3oz, and was 21.25 inches long. Justin then tried to dress her. It was funny watching his careful hands. Violet let out little eek’s tolerating her Fathers inexperienced hands. My mom then stepped in to help. Marie stitched me up after some freezing. She said they were “skid marks,” which were not tears, but required stitches anyway. They sure stung when peeing!
My mom held Violet while Justin and I ate. I asked Justin to fill out the paper work. I simply did not feel like I had to do anything since I just did ALL the work. Justin had always said that he was going to fill out the paper work and pick our daughters name while I was so passed out from the immense pain. He thought I was crazy for not having used any pain medications. I sure proved him wrong! Yes, there was pain, but there was a satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that went with it. It was bearable. It was both the worst and the best I have ever felt. I was completely content and even laughing between pressure waves. They only last at most a minute, and the last half was relief coming down from the wave. Anyone can handle that for 30 seconds at a time! Just let your body do the work. Justin is now a changed man. He said this was the best experience. He has two sons from a previous relationship, and both were born with epidurals. He said there was a huge difference. The atmosphere was calmer this time. So when I asked him to fill out the form, I said, “Violet Joy Edna Reichert?” And he said, “Whatever you want!”
After being there for about 4 hours total, they loaded up the truck. Justin had cleaned my seat, which shocked me as well. I never imagined him cleaning my fluids. With baby on board, he drove the slowest I have ever seen him drive. It must have taken more than an hour before we were home.
Once we got home, Justin brought Violet in, took her out of her car seat, and went straight to the bedroom. I helped my mom with a few things before she left. Justin stared at her in his arms for nearly 45 minutes alone in the darkened bedroom. Then our new little family had a nap, which was incredibly difficult, since all I wanted to do was stare at my new baby girl!
This experience was so empowering. I hear women talk about their hospital births, epidurals, and obstetricians; and I cannot help but to feel sorry for them. This system is the only thing they know. It saddens me that so many women have such awful experiences and give birth a negative connotation, when it was such a powerfully positive experience for me. I only wish that the news of happy birthings spread and create a birthing revolution.
Kristin, Justin & Baby Violet