Where do I begin?! So it’s been over 4 weeks since baby Jack’s arrival. I keep meaning to sit down and write it all out, but life with a newborn is far from structured (something I am very used to and fond of) but day by day, I get a little more confident and we get to know each other more. I am slowly figuring out this little guy and vice versa, it is quite the adventure!
So here we go! “How long was your labour” is something I’ve been asked a few times but mine was a bit more complicated than that. I had what some refer to as “prodromal labour” or “start and stop labour”.
my last pregnancy selfie on the Sunday when contractions were happening
I am not sure if any of you have experience with that but let me paint a picture, Friday evening around 8pm I thought I was in labour as my contractions were getting more intense and closer together. I finally fall sleep, wake up Saturday and they are gone. Saturday evening, 8pm it happens again, except this time more intense. My midwife comes over around 11pm to check how dilated I am- 2cm. WHAT?! She says have a gravol and a bath and try to sleep (and if you cannot you know you’re in real labour), I finally fall asleep and wake Sunday and they are gone. As you can imagine, by Sunday I was feeling exhausted, so I literally stayed in bed all day. I had barely slept the days before and I was getting frustrated with these false alarms and my body was telling me to rest! Sure enough, around 4pm contractions began slowly and by 8pm they were more intense than the days prior. I had a bath, went to sleep and woke up around 11pm thinking I wet the bed. I had heard that many people felt that way when their water breaks but it was not much at all so I stood up to go to washroom and get a towel (just in case it was my water breaking) and next thing I know my water breaks aggressively! Not just a trickle, a lot! And what they don’t tell you (or see in movies) is that it keeps breaking- over and over again, with LOTS OF WATER. By 3am we were at the hospital and my midwife tells me that I am only 3cm dilated and they cannot admit me until 4-5cm. They suggested a “stretch and sweep” or to just walk around the hospital for two hours to encourage dilation. I opted for that and let me tell you, those 2 hours felt like 12! I have never been in more pain in my life. I felt the contractions in my upper thighs and in my back, which I did not expect at all! There is no way to really explain contractions but it is a fully body feeling and it is intense. It felt way better to sit through the contractions but I was told to walk... so I walked and through a lot of contractions my water would break again. So I’m literally waddling around the hospital, grunting, growling, crying and wearing a make shift diaper. The two hours pass and I’m still only 3cm dilated! I felt defeated, discouraged and exhausted! I had been going through this false labour for three days now. My midwife team (being the angels that they are) saw how drained I was already and admitted me. They gave me a needle of gravol (in my behind) and said it may help me sleep. It did not! I spent about 45 minutes in the shower working through contractions while Jesse slept.
Fast forward to 9am, my team comes in and they suggest to be induced to get things moving (because my water had already broken almost 10 hours prior). If my water hadn’t broken I could wait it out but without the water barrier there and them constantly checking for dilation, it essentially starts a 24 hour clock and they worry about infection and complications (at this point, we were almost halfway to 24 hours). When people say they are getting "induced" it usually means they are put on an IV drug called pitocin which mimics your bodies release of “oxytocin”. Oxytocin usually signals your body to dilate (amongst other things) so pitocin is the drug version of this when people need a little help to get things moving, which it does! They say when people are put on this, the pain and intensity goes from 0 to 60. Usually people’s body gradually works up to this pain level, contractions and dilation. Since I had been going through contractions off and on for three days already, I did not find they got more painful, I found they got closer together. I was having the level of pain I had already been experiencing but with about 30 seconds in between. Let’s rewind a tad.... my goal throughout pregnancy was to have "as natural of a birth as possible" but I made it clear I was open to whatever needed to happen to get him into this world as I realize (even more so now) that not much was in my control. So that OG plan went out the window very quickly and I was EXTREMELY okay with that. I got induced + about two hours later I got the epidural and it was the best thing I could have done for the process. By the time I had the epidural, I was in the most pain I had ever experienced in my life and I kept asking when the anesthesiologist was coming to give me the epidural (in my head I was like hurry the f up!!!). People have asked me if that epidural needle hurts... oh my gosh no! You barely feel it in contrast to your contractions. It took about 10 minutes to kick in and slowly my contraction pains disappeared and all I could feel was the pressure in my pelvis when they were happening. Having the epidural allowed me to relax and let my body do what it needed to do (I think the build up of 3 days had my mind + body in a tense state and I wasn't allowing myself to just let it happen). This was around noon and by 4pm I was fully dilated (wahoo!) and they were getting me ready for the grand finale, pushing! When they knew I was getting closer to being fully dilated, they told me to try not to get any more epidural medication so that I could feel the pushing (an epidural is an IV drip that you top up on your own- I used to think it was just one needle and not a continuous thing). With that being said, I could feel most of the pushing, which was a good thing because it helped with the process! They were a bit worried I was going to have to have a c section as he had a bigger head and I have a smaller birth canal, but I did everything in my power to make sure that did not happen. I know that sometimes there is no choice but for me, I felt there was! I started pushing at 430 and by 551pm, he arrived! On May 20th (Victoria Day) 3 days early, Jack was born and weighed 8lbs + measured 21 inches long. I could not believe he was here, it happened so suddenly. One moment they are coaching me to push and the next, he is on my chest. Child birth is truly mind blowing! Within a few minutes, he was doing the "breast crawl" (if you don't know what that is- google it, its fascinating) and he was ready to feed. I had to get second degree stitches (but they numb you for it, hallelujah). My midwives coached me on breastfeeding while this was all going down and the next thing you know, we are getting ready to go home! Because my epidural had pretty much worn off and that I was in a birth centre (Alongside Midwife Unit at Markham Stouffville Hospital), we left and were home by 9pm. Literally 3 hours later, we were home with our boy! It was CRAZY! But I am so happy we were able to sleep in our own bed and be in our own environment.
Jack, in the same sweater Jesse wore home from the hospital when he was born (in 1986, knit by his grandma)
For the birth, I had my doula, 3 midwives (1 student, my midwife + the hospital midwife) + Jesse there. They were my cheerleaders, my support system, my encouragement, my angels! It was through their guidance and positive words that I was able to get through it all. Even though my "birth plan" changed drastically, I am so happy with how it went down because at the end of the day, I felt extremely supported and it was such a positive experience with amazing people. AND, it brought me JACK! WHICH WAS WORTH EVERY OUNCE OF PAIN, 3 DAYS OF FALSE LABOUR AND THE 39.5 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY (I loved pregnancy though)!
our first family photo at home the next morning (in our own bed!)
JACK HEENAN KERVIN
If you have any questions, please feel free to message me on Instagram (@kale.ahhh) or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to answer any questions on pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, childbirth, post partum, etc! I am happy to chat about it all and am an open book!