Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anna's Birth Story

April 14th was my due date but I expected baby to come much earlier given my history of 36 and 37 week births. I ended work at 36 wks and sat at home and waited to have her anytime. By 37 wks we had everything ready for our homebirth.

At 37 weeks I had a glimmer of hope when I lost my mucous plug in one big piece, then a few smaller pieces over the next couple of days. I was on pins and needles expecting to give birth any day! I analyzed every little sign of what could be labour and obsessed about going longer than I ever had before. I began to moan about never going into labour.

I had tested positive for Group B Strep and while the midwives were supportive of me declining antibiotics, one of the criteria I had agreed to antibiotics for was rupture of membranes at the beginning of labour. Because the first dose of antibiotics had to be given at the hospital, I knew that we ran the risk of losing our homebirth because of time constraints around administering the dose and getting home before the birth. But, since my water had never broken early in labour, this scenario didn’t seem possible to me.

April 11, a Sunday morning, at 39wks 4days, I woke at 6am to a gush of fluid in my underwear. I shuffled to the bathroom excitedly thinking my water had broken. It was yellow and smelled like urine, so I headed back to bed, dejected and thinking I had just wet the bed. At 8am I went to the bathroom and was still losing more dark yellow fluid in drips and confirmed that it was not coming from where urine would come from! The fluid was also starting to turn a greenish colour so I knew this meant there was meconium in the water and risk had been elevated. I had the midwife paged and Susan called me back, in the midst of another birth at the hospital. She said I needed to come in to confirm it was my water broken and have the antibiotics. We jumped in the shower and arranged for Rhonda to come over and watch Clayton and Faith. Contractions had not started yet and now green fluid continued to slowly drip out. There was no big gush of fluid ever.

We left for Ridge Meadows Hospital with Rhonda still on the way to our house to watch the kids. We arrived around 9am to 2 North (Maternity) after checking in downstairs. We started out in the assessment room and once Nurse Teri checked out my pad and urine, she moved us to a labour and delivery room and hooked me up to the heart rate monitor. I stayed in my clothes, still not in labour yet and not knowing if the meconium would risk me out of a homebirth. (I had forgotten that part of the homebirth manual I had read). Susan came in when she was done delivering the other baby and confirmed to me that we would be staying and delivering in hospital.

As I was getting my antibiotics by IV, the contractions started around 10:30 and were 10min apart. Another intervention meconium in the water had gotten me was ‘continuous fetal monitoring’. This meant the lovely tub room would not be available to us. We called Auntie Angela and said if she wanted to come out to help record the birth, then she was welcome to. Up to this point we had no plan in place about who would be at the birth besides Blake. Contractions started getting stronger. I tried the birth ball and didn’t like it. I stood and leaned over the bed for a lot of contractions while Blake rubbed my back. Nurse Teri had to constantly adjust the monitors to keep them registering properly. Of everything that I hated about having to birth in the hospital, it was the belly monitors they were constantly adjusting, as discreetly as possible and the uncomfortable hospital beds. Contractions were getting closer together, only a few minutes apart. Midwife Susan checked my dilation and I was 4cm. Time became a blur. My eyes stayed closed during a lot of the contractions. They felt like horrible menstrual cramps low in my pubic area. I was thankful that none of the pain was in my back, like with Wyatt’s birth. While on my side for many contractions, Blake tried the Tens machine we had been lent, on my back and I decided I didn’t like it. What did feel good was him doing pressure on either side of my lower back. I joked about wanting the epidural now!

I got on all fours on the hospital bed and when I grunted during a contraction and involuntarily pushed, the midwife asked if I felt pushy and said I was free to push if I felt like this. Part of me was in disbelief that I already felt this way and fearful that pushing time was here. I tried another contraction on my side and didn’t like pushing there so I moved onto my back. Susan checked me and found I still had a cervical lip that she pushed back to dilate me to 10. They got the leg supports put onto the bed for me to use and started to ‘break down the bed’. I was fighting the urge to tense up during the pain and keep reminding myself to relax and let the contractions do the work. I was afraid to push, not liking the feeling and knowing that it took 1 ½ hours to push Wyatt out. I complained about having to push and midwife Susan encouraged me. Ange stood by with the video camera and I gave her instructions on switching to the still camera once baby had come out.

Pushing was long and hard. I felt like nothing was happening. I was getting long breaks between contractions. It was nice to not have too much coaching and I was able to go at my own pace. When I started to get tired and frustrated, they reminded me to use as much as the contraction I could to push, but to take my breaks in between with long deep breaths. As baby’s head got lower, Susan found that it was a bit turned, so the cervix was not getting pressed on properly and dilating. For a few contractions, she would push my cervix back and I pushed hard to move the head down, past my pubic bone. It was a long time before I felt like the end was near. Hair was visible and I touched the head. I had declined Susan’s offer to pull her out and onto my belly when the time came.

Once the head started crowning, I got fearful of the pain. I knew I had scar tissue on my perineum from Wyatt’s birth and didn’t know how that would impact this birth. I cried as pushing got intense. It burned so bad and I heard whispers of ‘it’s a tight fit’ and Susan worked to ease her head out slowly, commenting “here comes the little green (meconium) head”. I complained about my bottom hurting so bad and they encouraged me that feeling was a good thing. Then all of a sudden her head just popped out! A push or two more, the shoulders rotated out and here was a crying baby on my chest at 1:24pm after 4 hours of labour and about an hour of pushing! A few minutes later I had another contraction and pushed knowing the placenta had to come out. The midwife scrambled to be ready for it, declaring "I usually have to ask people to push it out". After the stunned realization that I had, in fact, given birth to a baby, I asked them to check if it was really a girl! Wyatt had bets all along that it could possibly be a boy, despite what the 18 wk ultrasound had said. It was indeed a girl, with a nice, healthy cord, who the midwife guessed to be 9lbs. (I doubted this estimation). She stayed on my chest for a good 45 minutes while they did her assessment and the midwife prepared to stitch me. I had a 1st degree labial tear and was happy to hear that my previous scar tissue had stayed intact! Once I was able to relax in the bed a bit more, she latched on and nursed for a while.

Anna Beatrice Whitelaw weighed 7lbs 15 ounces and was 20 inches long. She had quite the cone head and dark hair. Susan did her newborn check and found a clicking in Anna’s right hip. She phoned Dr. Archer, the paediatrician and he recommended double diapering. When he came and saw her the next day he said we will need to do this for 3 months and follow up in his office. Anna is named for her grandma’s who have the middle name of Anne and we chose Beatrice for the meaning “Bringer of Joy”. It’s also a family name after Blake’s aunt. After 3 ½ years and 4 miscarriages, we have our beautiful little Bringer of Joy.


  1. I am just so happy for you. I know this has been a long journey and I'm rejoicing with you to finally have a baby in your arms. :) Anna Beatrice is a beautiful name.

  2. I am so happy for you! You have a little miracle baby!

  3. I am so happy for you guys! Congratulations!!!

  4. Congrats mama! I'm glad your birth experience was great despite having a hospital birth.

    Beautiful baby!