Although I haven’t yet shared Henry’s birth story on here, I thought I’d write down Ella’s before the details start to become cloudy as time quickly passes; she is 5 months old already! Fortunately our doula for Henry’s birth wrote his birth story down for us so I always know I have that for reference. I will definitely share it with you all in the weeks to come.
I think sharing birth stories is so important. Each story is so sacred and offers such a wealth of knowledge to other women. When I was pregnant with Henry I can recall only hearing horrific birth stories. I had heard so many that eventually I started interrupting people when they started to tell me about about their negative birth story. It isn’t that they aren’t important, but as someone who had never given birth, I found their stories were negatively affecting my birth visions and they were promoting unnecessary fear within me. I always found that it seemed like the women wanted to instill some fear in me; isn’t that kind of crazy? I know better. Birth is not something to be feared and I was determined to keep those terrible thoughts out of my mind.
My pregnancy with Ella was wonderful. Of course I had some uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea and swollen feet but knowing they would be short lived and knowing what I would have at the end of my pregnancy helped me get through it.
Ella was born 10 days past her estimated due date. Henry was 7 days past his. Of course I fell into the notion that Ella would be born early and quickly because she was my second baby. Early? No. Quickly? Oh yes. Each baby has its own timeline that we can’t predict. I was convinced she would be born in May, despite being due June 15. The month of May came and went, and then June 15 also passed. I was growing so impatient and had to learn to surrender to Ella’s timeline. We had decided not to learn Ella’s gender before her birth, so we had some extra excitement leading up to her arrival.
It was super early on a Sunday (around 1am or so) when I started to feel like things were beginning to progress. I managed to get some sleep and by 6am I knew it was the real deal. My mom was staying with us, so she looked after Henry while John and I stayed in our bedroom riding the waves of my contractions. We had spoken to the midwife on call around 6am then again at 7am. She informed us that my primary midwife would be the one attending my birth. I was comforted to know exactly who would be there when Ella was born. I think it helped me to focus on my birth wishes and imagine the birth itself; however, the way it actually happened was not quite what I had imagined.
Our doula, Shandelle (from Blossom and Birth Doula Services), arrived around 8am. And thank goodness she did. She was so amazing. I distinctly remember a point where my brain was telling me I couldn’t do it. I was tired, even though it had only been a few hours of contractions. I couldn’t imagine going longer, and the sensations brought back memories of Henry’s birth where I had laboured much longer than the few hours I was currently at. Shandelle was so kind, patient, firm and reassuring that I was already doing what I needed to do. She didn’t say “you CAN do this”, instead she said “you ARE doing this”. She was right and that was exactly what I needed to hear when I started to doubt myself.
Part of my birth plan was to stay at home as long as possible. I was planning a hospital birth (we did heavily consider a home birth – maybe that’s a story for another day) but I knew I wanted to be at home for most of my labour. Around 10am my contractions were about 1 min long and 6-8 minutes apart. I decided to get into our bathtub to relax a bit and enjoy the warm water. After one or two contractions (this part is a bit blurry), I felt like the baby’s head was crowning. I knew it wasn’t and I tried to tell myself it couldn’t be, but the sensation was so real that I started to panic. Having this baby in my bathtub was not part of my plan. Shandelle suggested we head to the hospital, so John called our midwife to let her know to meet us there.
We said goodbye to my mom and we drove the 20 mins to the IWK hospital in Halifax. Luckily it was Sunday morning so there was very little traffic. I remember having at least 4 contractions in the car, and literally willing the baby to not be born in our (brand new) car on the side of the road. John may or may not have run a red light…
When we arrived at the hospital I felt instantly relieved. This is not a common feeling for pregnant women when they arrive to give birth; often arriving at the hospital can cause some anxiousness and can stall labour. I was just so happy to know my baby would not be born in my car. I was sent to triage where the nurses took my blood pressure. It was quite high but they commented that they wouldn’t admit me because I was “too calm to be very far along”. Those were literally their words.
My midwife came into the room a few short minutes later. She asked if I wanted to be checked and I decided I did. She quickly determined I was dilated 10cm! I was rushed up to the delivery room at 11:15am, with only a few minutes to get undressed. Four intense pushes later (my waters broke somewhere in there) and Ella was born at 11:40am. She was 9lbs, 1oz and so perfect.
We had intended for John to tell me the baby’s gender, but when the midwife quickly caught Ella and turned her around to put her on me, I instantly saw she was a girl. I blurted it out as John realized as well. We were over the moon to have a little girl added to our family. I actually couldn’t stop saying “I can’t believe she is a girl!”.
We delayed cord clamping but when the time came, John cut the cord, as he had done with Henry. With some help and adjustments, Ella latched and nursed wonderfully and we were well on our way. I ended up needing some stitches, although the damage was much less than with Henry. After I had the stitches and got cleaned up we were cleared to go home. That is such a benefit of having a midwife. Because they can come to your house the day after you give birth, we didn’t have to stick around the hospital to be seen by a doctor the next day. Apparently the maternity floor didn’t have any vacant rooms that day anyway.
We spent a bit more time resting in the delivery room, had some snacks and then headed home. We left the hospital shortly after 3pm – only a little over 4 hours after we had arrived. We were so excited to get home and show Henry his little sister.
Henry loves his little sister. Although he needs to be reminded that she is little and can’t play with his LEGO, he’s very sweet with her.
We truly feel so blessed to have such happy and healthy children and to have had such a empowered and supported birth.