The calm birth of Cole Francis.

“Surges began at 0740 at 39 weeks, on the day. They were fairly light so I continued to play with my two year old. I was so ready for this birth but really didn’t think it was going to happen this soon. My first son had been a week late and it was a 39 hour labour. It was a calm labour with my first but my support system wasn’t strong. It would be different this time! My husband had slept in and had gotten up around 7.30am and had planned to work on the playroom he was building for the kids and to hang out with his friends afterward. I was scheduled for a much needed chiropractor appointment at 2.40pm. 

Probably around 8.30pm I told Shawn I thought I was in early labour but I was convinced the surges would die down and told him not to change any plans. He decided to go run some errands and took the dog with him, but my toddler wanted to stay with me. I could tell he was worried and I hadn’t prepared him for the labour at all because my mother was supposed to stay with him when we left for the hospital (a oversight on my part).

I put Disney’s Cinderalla on for him (his favourite at the time) and he watched that as I started to time the surges. They were about two minutes apart, lasting forty seconds (my first labour also picked up fast but included back labour). This was cake compared to back labour!

I pulled out the affirmations I had designed onto construction paper and kept up the mantra, “all is calm, all is well, I am safe” I would whisper that through the surges as I leaned on a chair in the kitchen, or the couch. I was starving and boiled a couple of eggs to hold me through at least some of this labour. I also took this time to print my birth plan (I printed the one from my first birth. oops).

The surges were getting stronger when Shawn got home but I was still in denial about this being really real. He convinced me to call my mother and update her. I also called my friend who would be photographing the birth. At 10.40am Shawn told me to call the midwives but I asked if he could. He put them on speakerphone and after a couple of surges the midwife told me I should pack up my toddler and head into the hospital. So we did. Shawn packed the last essentials and we loaded everyone into the car by 11.00am.

I rode in the front passenger seat, on my knees facing backward. My toddler was in the seat behind me and was very worried. It was a 45 minute trip and whenever there was a surge I would hold his hand and reassure him before it got strong. I cranked the birthing cd I had made which helped a lot. Finally we got there and parked. It was windy and cold but I had to stop for two surges on the way into the building. Shawn was carrying our toddler and I was hanging on his other arm. We finally got inside and into the elevator. I remember the security guy asked our names and called ahead for us. We got to the floor and into the birthing wing and I saw a couple leaving with their baby. I thought that was nice. Then I knelt in front of the reception desk to sign paperwork. It was the perfect height so it must have been intentional! We were put in our room (in this hospital you birth where you’ll stay) and the midwife had just finished another birth and checked me.

I was already 7cm! That was a shock. My friend was there but not my mother. I was angry because I was on my hands and knees on the floor because that’s where my body wanted to be and my toddler was screaming with fear. I yelled “Get that kid out of here!” I’ll forever regret that I didn’t have the presence of mind to reassure him but… I didn’t.. I was angry because my mother should have been there to take my son to the waiting room. I hadn’t prepared him for this! Shawn took him back to the car to get the radio. When he got back I realized he didn’t bring in the CD. So he went back again.

I got into the tub and asked my friend to get my written affirmation out of the plastic bag I had remembered to bring in and to spread them out on the floor. So I sat with my head over the edge of the tub reading my affirmations. When my music arrived it calmed me further. Then my mother arrived and Shawn was back by my side. And I kept up my mantra “All is calm, all is well, I am safe” and I prayed a lot for strength.

Someone would occasionally remind me to “let that one go” when a surge would end and I was still tense. And I would let it go. But then another would come on me. I wriggled in the water for a while but time flies when I’m in labour so I don’t know. I felt like I had to go to the bathroom so I went in and took care of that. I stayed in the bathroom for a long time switching between the floor and the toilet (that happens to me in labour. I’m glad I don’t poop while pushing, I guess).

I lost my mucus plug while in there and felt the need to let the nurse know. Finally the surges got too strong and I called for Shawn. He sat with me for a while and I knew it hurt his back to crouch on the floor and I felt bad but not bad enough to do anything about it yet. Someone asked if I wanted to get back in the tub and I agreed. I had wanted a water birth but I asked the midwife to break my water before pushing.

At her suggestion, I pushed a few times to try and break it naturally and it didn’t happen so I stood in the tub with my foot on the side and she did it. And I guess a lot of meconium came out. I’m terrified of cesarean sections (just my thing) but in that moment I was so ready for one if that meant saving my baby. But my midwife was amazing and was so calm. She said we would have to go to the bed but she lowered the bottom half so I was on knees and elbows. My midwife told me that although I wanted delayed cord clamping they may have to do it right away if baby was having a hard time.

I told her that was fine. I ended up on my knees on the floor/standing up because that’s what my body wanted. I was pushing so hard to get my baby out. At that point, I decided to not use the mantra that had gotten me that far because although I was safe, I wasn’t sure my baby was. So I pushed with everything I had. And my midwife would remind me to wait for the surge to build before I pushed. She was so wonderful! And I screamed with every push. I’m not a screamer, ever! And I screamed “Get it out!” several times (I didn’t know the gender).

I remember thinking that I understood why women choose an epidural and that I must be in transition to the thinking that. When the head got to my pelvic bone I thought it was crowning (I had been forced to have an epidural with my first) and the midwife said to not shy away from the pain and the baby had to get around that bone. I was confused and disappointed.

Finally the baby did crown. Now, THIS, I could never have prepared for. I remember it hurt and I did not want to tear so I did my best to follow the midwife and slooooow down. I don’t remember what the pain felt like and forgot it a couple hours after because I was trying to describe it to my friend and couldn’t. So the head came out and I was more than ready for the body to just slide out. Well, it didn’t. The baby’s hand had been up by his face. I said “this is supposed to be the easy part!” I was feeling pretty dismayed that I had to keep pushing.

The midwife said she couldn’t get a good angle with me on my knees and elbows and asked me to climb onto the bed and lean against the semi-upright back of it so, without thinking, I climbed up a bed with a baby’s head sticking out. I was asked several times about it after by nurses (apparently, it was sort of a big deal). The baby’s shoulders came out and the midwife said, “Look down and take your baby” so I did. I tried to pull the baby onto my belly and it was stuck and she told me I had to push a little. So I got to deliver my own baby after all! The midwife had kept switching between “he” and “She” when talking about the baby and I had the baby on my lower belly.

My friend said “Alex, you have a girl” (I knew it was a girl the whole time!) and the midwife said “Well, let the parents find out for themselves” so I checked and it was a boy!! I couldn’t believe it and I was over the moon excited! Two boys for us!

My poor baby was bruised from forehead to chin. I guess the midwife had to pull on him quite a bit to help me get him out. Finally, the placenta was born and it was nice and white when my husband cut it. It was a beautiful placenta. I don’t remember Cole crying much. He’s not much of a crier now either. He latched on well, even with a tongue tie and has been the most calm, well-adjusted baby I’ve ever met.

Thank you Suzy for the daily affirmations on my Facebook feed and the mp3s and all the positive birth stories I read throughout my pregnancy. I wish I could birth one more time and have my water birth but we’ve reached our quota for children and I am so lucky to have had such an amazing experience! (I had to come back and finish this properly or it would bother me forever). So, start to baby was only seven hours and I only pushed for one hour. Cole was born October 25, 2016 and weighed 7lb15oz and was 21 inches long.”

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