A Birth Story With Midwives
Written by Jennifer Robeson
After 41 weeks and 5 days our little girl, Beatrice Bowie Firth, arrived Saturday, January 6th at 7 lbs 7 oz.
Our midwives had days earlier, brought up the conversation about induction something neither of us were keen to do but open to if it was what was best for babe. And so began a weather-appropriate polar vortex of natural induction methods. Pineapple. Red raspberry leaf tea. A cervical sweep. Acupuncture. Walking walking and more walking and finally, a very cheese-heavy eggplant parmesan purported to have sent hundreds of women into labour. Either it was naturally her time or the eggplant really was magical as Friday evening, my labour began.
For a baby who paid no nevermind to going almost 2 weeks past her due date, she sure made up for it with the speed of my labour. We were so excited at the prospect of a long (leisurely? ha?) early labour but Beatrice had other plans. By late Friday night contractions were very intense and on top of each other with very little break in between. While my partner Mike had created a beautiful, candlelit haven in our home, I spent much of my labour on the toilet. Funny, in hindsight, but such a comfortable position for me. I felt safe and calm. I focused a lot on what Beatrice’s experience was and how we were doing this together.
During transition I felt waves of heat and nausea. I worried the intensity was too much for me, and I remembered how often women would feel this way close to when their babies were born. I found strength in that knowledge that I was now at that crossroads myself. Our midwives were called and our doula was texted. When the midwives arrived, at about 7 am, I was examined and found to be fully dilated and ready to start pushing - which is good because I sure felt the urge! Our doula Kate arrived and I remember our midwives saying she was there and then I remember her presence behind me as I laboured on the bed. And on a birthing stool. And standing. And swaying. Mike was always on one side, Kate on the other, the midwives quietly holding space. It was dark in our home and it was kept that way which I remember thinking was so nice. So unobtrusive. It was our space, people were just sharing in it with us.
By 8am, Beatrice hadn't progressed downward and her heart rate would dip with each contraction. Although it would return to normal rate between them, the midwives suggested we head to St Joe's by ambulance where we might get some additional assistance. By 8:45 we were barreling down Landsdowne on our way to the hospital. I remember so many odd lucid moments of this transition time. I remember walking around the apartment blowing out candles and turning off our mood lighting. I remember grabbing the student midwife while I had a contraction while putting on my shoes. I remember marching out to the ambulance faster than the midwives so that one had to run out and yell to the drivers “this is the patient!”. I remember being in the ambulance and hearing the siren and I remember my main midwife telling me my daughter’s heart rate had returned to normal and how wonderful that was to hear.
Once we arrived, we were welcomed by a team of folks all completely abreast of our desired plan (minimal interventions, no drugs etc.). I continued to push with no success so a vacuum was used to help get Bea “around the curve". The OB kept saying times like “you’ll meet her in 10 minutes, you’ll meet her in five minutes” and how surreal that sounded. I remember touching her head as it crowned. I kept closing my eyes between contractions to rest and I remember how quiet the room was, despite how many people were there (nurses, OB, residents, midwives, my doula). I remember when the OB asked for just a small push once her head was out, and then I remember seeing the entirety of her beautiful, little body, arms outstretched towards me, at 9:57 am. Mike cut the cord, after a small requested delay, she was whisked away for mere moments to clear her mouth of amniotic fluid, and then brought back to my chest. We had done it! She was here! Besides a small hematoma where the vacuum was used, she was healthy and pink and amazing. I felt shocked and in awe and so grateful. Kate helped us establish breastfeeding - I was amazing Bea knew what to do - I had some snacks and some routine checks and we were home in just under four hours.
Even though we ended up at the hospital which wasn't our plan, we could not have written a better birth story for ourselves. I felt heard, and supported and powerful. Our midwives, our doula, the hospital staff, the ambulance driver who asked to say as she hadn't seen a birth before; everyone in the room at home and then the hospital were such a positive part of the process and we were extremely grateful to them all. Although relatively short, labour was intense and challenged me more than anything I’ve ever done. I felt in ways broken after birth but also reborn. My body felt sore and I was so in awe. Birth is amazing! Babies, too. xo