Amelia’s arrival

Amelia’s arrival

Sometimes I mix up reality and fiction. I get thinking that if something is going really well, then something purely awful is bound to be just around the corner. I think this about everything, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s not really a surprise that I was kind of dreading childbirth for this reason.

Don’t get me wrong–I had a wonderful pregnancy. I loved every minute of it, actually, and it was an easy pregnancy, too. Something about that made me think that the actual labour and delivery part of it was going to be the worst experience of my life–something not only painful, but possibly traumatic.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. The “something must go wrong because everything is going too well” mentality is very real. So, naturally, with such an easy pregnancy, I thought I must be in for one whopper of a labour. I was prepared for this. I hired a doula and the two of us wrote up a birth plan together. It was pretty basic, but I did have an idea of things I really didn’t want to happen, if I could avoid them. I tried to be mostly loose on those conditions, in case I changed my mind, and in case my pain tolerance wasn’t as high as I thought it would be.

My doula, Elise Fougère, is someone I’ve known for several years through university, and someone I have come to know as a friend. She recently completed her DONA training and the two of us met to discuss the possibility of me partaking of her services. This was really very late on in my pregnancy–we met up at something around 36 or 37 weeks.

On New Year’s Eve, when I was partway through my 38th week of pregnancy, I started noticing that I was having a lot of contractions. I started timing them and I noticed that they were coming closer and closer together–around 7 minutes to start with, then 5. I got ahold of Elise and she came to keep me company and, kindly, cleaned up after me when I threw up on the floor–the first time I was sick the whole pregnancy. She massaged my swollen feet, helped me work on the nursery, and we called Brad to let him know what was happening. When he came home from work, we prepared ourselves to have to go to the hospital at any point. We rang in the New Year by playing Pokémon and watching Community. It was the tamest New Year’s Eve I’d ever spent (“says the woman in labour!” scoffed Elise). I went to bed that night, fully expecting to wake up with painful contractions, but the next morning, we were back to inconsistency. We were all pretty disappointed. Elise headed home for the time being, and checked on me repeatedly for the days to come.

Brad and I spent our time playing video games, marathon-ing Community, and hanging out. I was incredibly uncomfortable, because the baby’s head had dropped, and moving around had become a chore. We tried not to think too much about how ready we were for our baby girl to get here. By the evening of January 3rd, I said to myself “it’s okay if she doesn’t come tomorrow. I will find something else to do–I’ll cook us a nice meal. It’ll be fine.”

Naturally, I was awoken by my water breaking at 8:30 the following morning; it was the first thing that happened as I got out of bed.

“Good morning!” I texted to Elise. “My water just broke!” Mildly painful contractions started up immediately, and Elise met us at home before we headed to the hospital. By around 11, we were told that I was almost completely effaced, and that I should come back as soon as I started feeling particularly miserable. I had suggested around 8 PM, thinking my labour would take much longer than it was about to. Both Elise and the nurse laughed at my naïveté.

We went home, where I played games and sang along with music videos to help get me through the contractions. I discovered that singing helped keep me focused on my breathing. By the time we hit about 1:30, I was well into active labour and the contractions were becoming more and more intense. I could no longer laugh through them and had to really focus on my breathing to manage the pain. I said to Brad and Elise that we would have to leave for the hospital then, or I likely wouldn’t make it there at all. We drove to the–thankfully nearby–hospital as a storm was just beginning to kick up, and I was admitted as I was informed that I was at 3 cm.

The labour progressed very quickly. Brad was there to support me, sitting behind me as I balanced on a yoga ball through my contractions. I was given nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help dull the pain and help with my breathing, and my mom came by to offer her support and coaching, too. At one point, I had requested the epidural, but was told that I was at 7 cm and was getting very close to pushing, and that I wouldn’t need it. This was only at around two hours after being admitted to the hospital. I was very lucky to have such speedy progression! I had thought I had only been at it for about twenty minutes and was shocked when the nurse told me I had been labouring like this for two hours.

Fifteen minutes later, I was ready to push. I had wanted to try squatting, as I had thought gravity would be able to help get the little one on her way. Oddly enough, I ended up switching to a semi-seat, my legs in stirrups pushing outward and handles for me to grip, and that worked much better. I can’t stress how invaluable having a three-person support team, as well as an amazing doctor and nurse combo, was at this time. After every contraction, Elise and Brad would place cool compresses on my face and give me cold water to drink. Elise reapplied my lip balm whenever my lips felt dry and chapped–which was frequent! After an hour of pushing, with all of my coaches urging me to keep going (and after I had a brief “I can’t do this!” moment), Amelia Margaret was born–5:45 PM. I felt an immediate sense of relief, and little legs kicking somewhere near my backside. She cried immediately–like her mother, she doesn’t like the cold. The doctor and nurse cleaned her up quickly and placed her, skin-to-skin, on my chest. I felt a surge of adrenaline as these big blue eyes looked up at me. I forgot how tired I was as I made eye contact with my daughter for the first time. Nine hours and fifteen minutes after my water broke, my little girl was here. Brad came over to meet her, and she wrapped her tiny hand around his finger. I foresee a future of someone being Daddy’s little girl.

“That’s a big baby,” I vaguely remember hearing one of the nurses say. “9 lb., 11 oz. Good-sized holiday turkey!”

I never thought I’d want to share Amelia’s birth story online, but it’s something I’m actually really proud of. It was absolutely the worst pain I’ve ever been in, but it was it worth it, and it gave me a whole new respect for mothers everywhere. Even now, having gone through the first two weeks of Amelia’s life with her, I look at other mothers knowing “you’ve been there, too, and you’re amazing for it”.

Women will make all kinds of decisions regarding their child’s care or delivery. Regardless of whether they experience natural childbirth, medicated, or have a c-section, or whether they decide to breastfeed or bottle-feed, they are making the decisions that they feel are best for them and for their children. Becoming a mother is a terrifying change, and giving birth is certainly painful, but there really is a reason they call it “the miracle of childbirth”: because only something that amazing is truly worth the fear, the uncertainty, and the pain!

A final note to say that I would highly recommend a doula to any expectant mother who can afford it. If you’re in the Moncton area in particular, please consider hiring Elise. She was wonderful from start to finish, and my only regret is that I didn’t hire her sooner.

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5 Comments

  1. Thank you Kate for sharing the amazing birth of your little girl. I was wondering how it had gone. I have a little gift for Amelia which I will drop off when it is convenient for you. Congratulations to you and Brad. You will make wonderful parent.

  2. Congrats to the both of you! Ad thanks for sharing this lovely experience. 🙂 It brought tears to my eyes. 🙂
    I hope you guys stay happy and healthy, as long as possible! 🙂

    ~G

    (btw, did Elise work in Alma at any point? If so, I might remember her)

    • Glad you enjoyed the story, Gabe! Good to hear from you! And yes, she did work in Alma several years ago!

  3. Yes, Gabe, it’s me! 🙂

  4. It was an honour and a priveledge to be able to be there for you, Kate. You were so amazing… I still can’t believe how perfectly smooth the entire thing was (from my point of view, anyway!)

    Blew my mind. <3

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