Strong Women, Raising Strong Women
The moment I met Rylee, I knew her birth story was going to be incredible.
This woman immediately exuded a type of quiet strength that made me believe with absolute certainty, that she would accomplish whatever she set her mind to. I am incredibly honoured to have been chosen as one of her two permitted support persons during the birth of sweet Grace, and even more grateful that she has decided to share her birth story here.
So pour yourself a nice warm drink, sit back, and enjoy, The Birth Story of Grace
I've had about a week to rest up and process my birth story and now I'm ready to write it out!
January 14th, the evening of my due date: around 10:30 at night I started having mild contractions. With Paige, my labour came on very strong and fast, so at first I didn't recognize them as contractions. After about an hour I mentioned to Brad that I thought I was having contractions, and I was going to try to get some rest in case we needed to go into the hospital. I reached out to my mom and let her know that I was having some contractions, but nothing exciting yet. I let her know that I'd keep her updated in case we needed help with Paige.
I hadn't been able to sleep with contractions just uncomfortable enough to keep me awake, but not uncomfortable enough to pack the car. I had been timing them for a few hours, and contractions were steadily around three minutes apart lasting over a minute. I decided to call my midwife because of my history of very fast labor progression. She recommended we come in and get checked. My dad came over to watch Paige and we headed to the hospital.
I was checked by our midwife, who identified my contractions as early labor, but mentioned that things were pretty close to getting going at 3cm dilated and she wanted us to stick around for a little while longer to see if things got moving. Contractions got a little stronger, but with no progression by 6:00 A.M., we decided to go home and labor there.
We got home and labor stalled completely. My contractions had stopped and I was exhausted from laboring through the night with no sleep. We decided we would get some rest and spend the day doing some walking around the city. We got a few more cuddles with Paige in, and around 10:00 A.M. my mom came to pick her up so we could rest (bless her soul). We gave her plenty of hugs and kisses goodbye, and as we closed the door behind her we both had tears in our eyes. This would be the last time we would see our biggest baby before she wasn't our only baby anymore.
I received a call from my midwife checking in. I informed her that things had come to a stop and I really wasn't feeling any contractions anymore. Feeling that baby needed a bit of help to get the show on the road, she offered me a stretch and sweep. I had declined them up to that point, but felt that baby was ready. We opted to meet up at noon to do a quick stretch and sweep to get things moving.
We got to the midwives office where a stretch and sweep was done by our midwife. She let me know that I had progressed to 5 cm, which shocked me having had no contractions all morning. We decided that we were going to go walk around a bit and see if things got going again. She recommended we stick close to the hospital just in case.
Brad and I spent the afternoon walking around and enjoying some time together at the mall and a few shops during this time. We had a great afternoon together. Brad made the whole day really special, and he really did his best to make the day all about me. I assured him that it was indeed about him too (which he swiftly refused 😆). Around 2 P.M. I noticed my contractions were getting more intense, and were starting to really slow me down. A few were bringing tears to my eyes, so we decided to go ahead and call our midwife again. After our chat on the phone we collectively decided to meet back up at the hospital. I contacted our wonderful photographer, Bri, who decided she was going to meet up with us too!
We arrived at the hospital and met our midwife, who went over our options if things hadn't progressed before heading up. She mentioned at this point that there may be a chance that there would not be a room that could accommodate a water birth. My original birth plan was to keep interventions as minimal as possible, including no pain medications and a water birth. This bummed me out, but I'm a roll with the punches kind of girl, and I assured her that if that were not an option that we would just go with the flow. She headed upstairs to the maternal care unit. Our birth photographer, Bri, came in shortly after our midwife, and I met her at the front desk. We chatted for a few minutes, then she came up with us to the maternal care unit.
We were placed in a room that could accommodate a birth pool (yay!!!). We waited for a bit and I labored surrounded by jokes, laughter, and good conversation with Brad and Bri. Our midwife came in and gave us a quick check. I had progressed and was at a 6 by this point. We decided from that point to get the pool ready and set up for an IV, since I needed IV antibiotics. Our midwife asked if it was alright if a student put my IV in. Brad stepped in and said no for me. My last labor I had my veins blown in both hands, and struggled with alot of discomfort for a long time afterwards. I don't usually mind being the guinea pig, and I felt terrible for declining and taking away a learning opportunity from someone else, but my entire support team backed my worries and concerns. Brad and Bri went downstairs to grab us a bite to eat. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and I was unbelievably hungry! Unfortunately, I can't note time after this. Things got really intense from this point on, and time became a bit of a blurr.
I felt like I waited forever for Brad to come back up to our room. I had my IV put in while he was away, which was easier than I had anticipated. He had texted me a few times to ask what I wanted, but each time I tried to reply a contraction would start, and I'd have to focus my whole energy on it. When Bri arrived back in the room, she asked a few times if I had gotten back to him, but by this point I was too deep in the intensity of everything to concentrate on much of anything other than what I was feeling. The poor man spent 20 minutes staring blankly at the options at the Cafe downstairs until he finally came back up with three different options. Our regular midwife had to leave, but was swapped out by her incredible partner, Jess, who I adore. I can't remember now if this was before things got intense, or shortly after, but I asked Brad to place my TENS machine on my back, which offered me a bit of relief coupled with a change in position.
It felt like centuries before the birth pool was ready to go. My team was working so hard to get everything prepared. By now, I was stuck in a position on my knees in my hospital bed, curling into my chest, and unable to move from this position between contractions. The birth pool was finally ready, and Jess helped me get in. The water was nice and warm and immediately felt so soothing. Contractions continued to pick up, but I felt like the water carried my weight with every change in position, which helped me relax and go with each contraction. As I progressed, I began to feel immense pressure, but not the urge to push. The discomfort from this feeling was becoming alot to handle, and I began to moan through each contraction, then yell, and eventually would just fall asleep in between each one. I looked to Brad and told him I couldn't do this anymore. I felt exhausted, hungry, and my breathing felt out of control. I told him I wanted something for the pain. He assured me that I could do this, just like I had coached him to beforehand. I hated my optimistic pre-labor self in this moment (haha). I begged him and my midwife for the epidural (a common sign of transition), and my midwife got me out of the pool to check where we were at. I was at 9 centimeters dilated, so Brad and I went into the bathroom to talk about our options. He stared into my eyes, listened, and reassured me as I continued to beg him for the epidural. We came out of the bathroom and decided to get the nurses to ask where the anesthesiologist was at.
The nurse went off and quickly arrived back in the room to inform us that the anesthesiologist was in the operating room, and wouldn't be available for at least another hour. I remember letting out real tears at this point and as I did another contraction came and went. Jess assured me that I was feeling the way I was because I was extremely close, and the discomfort I was feeling was likely from the pressure of my bag of waters. She offered to break it, and warned that things would get strong and intense if she did, but would go quickly. After some support from my whole team, I agreed to have my waters broken.
The pressure I was feeling was immediately relieved, followed by a new, but very welcomed intensity. I was helped back into the pool and within a few minutes started to feel the urge to push. I started to push at my own pace as Brad anxiously waited to reach into the pool and catch our baby. I started to feel baby's head coming down, and eventually felt her begin to crown. I reached my hand down and felt her head, to which Jess asked if I could feel her coming. I nodded my head, and Jess reached in to have a look. "OKAY, she's crowning!" She announced.
Everyone was so calm. Brad reached in and felt her, and exclaimed that I was so close, she was right there! Him and Jess worked together and talked through what was happening. I could hear them, but I was in the zone, hollering loud grunts like a mad cave woman at this point. This part was so quick, and in a total of eight minutes start to finish of pushing Brad reached into the pool and caught our baby girl. Brad and I cried, and kissed, laughed, and held each other. The immediate relief that washed over me was an incredible and life changing sensation. Grace Anne was born at 8:32 P.M. on January 15th, 2021. Our second baby girl.
My birth plan was always intended to be as natural as possible from the start. I had an epidural with my first delivery, and I wanted to know what an epidural and drug free labor looked and felt like. My experience this time was so much different, and I'm so glad I accomplished my original birth plan. I couldn't have done it without the amazing support I was surrounded by. Brad was incredible, and he was so tender and loving through the whole experience; he never left my side. I swear this experience changed our relationship in so many positive ways. Bri was more amazing than I could have imagined. She offered sips of water, snacks, asked for things I didn't know I needed, and was incredibly encouraging. Jess was wonderful, and held my hand through much of the process, wiped me with cool cloths when I was feeling too warm, and was the encouraging voice I needed to hear when I felt like things were getting way too hard.
Thank you so much to my incredible support people for helping me bring our baby girl into this world. Brad and I are thrilled to have had the experience we did.