[Vance's Birth Story]
I’ve been thinking for over a week now how to put this experience into words. It was so incredibly wonderful - beyond my wildest dreams - and it’s taken me time to process it.
Here is how Baby Vance made his grand entrance into the world.
My birth story technically begins 4 days before my actual birth. I had a stretch & sweep on Wednesday morning and my cervix was still 2cm dilated and 50% effaced - the same it was the week before. Then from Wednesday to Saturday I had contractions. Not just Braxton Hicks, real contractions that got slowly progressively stronger BUT were spaced so far apart that it was pointless to time them. Basically the world's longest early/prodromal labour.
Sunday though. Mothers day. “How romantic would it be to have this baby on Mother’s Day” I thought! My mom was here visiting from Nova Scotia and we were all eagerly awaiting baby’s arrival...this would be such a sweet Mother’s Day gift for both of us!
All day Sunday I felt very different. From the constant general crampy sensation combined with the peaks of harder, more intense waves of contractions, I knew this was happening. I was very emotional all day. We had family visitors that afternoon and every 20-30 minutes I’d have to stand and sway, focus and breathe through a contraction or two. I was getting irritable and hot. Today was the day, I knew it.
Kyle had plans to cook me & my mom a lovely steak dinner for Mother’s Day, but at 4pm I vetoed that plan and we ordered a pizza instead. I didn’t even have a slice, I wasn’t at all hungry. We fed the kids dinner, we said goodnight to our big boys, my mom took them down to the basement to have a sleepover in her room and Kyle and I went upstairs to our bedroom to have our baby.
What a concept! Let’s just go upstairs and...have a baby! So at 6pm we headed upstairs to our bedroom with my computer, watched some Netflix, did moxibustion and acupressure.
From 6-7pm, contractions were regularly 7-10 minutes apart and they were demanding enough to need my full attention but I didn’t need Kyle’s support yet.
Within an hour, contractions became 5-7 minutes apart and I absolutely needed Kyle’s help now. He did counter pressure on my sacrum throughout every contraction and coached me like we practiced. In hindsight he tells me he was in denial (as was I) and he thought I just wasn't coping with early labour very well - HA!
One hour later, contractions got INTENSE and were coming 2-5 minutes apart. Kyle and I were both in denial about how quickly things were happening because my previous labours were 24 & 14hrs long. We put off calling the midwife because I’d had false labour with Harv and we wanted to make sure this was the real thing.
Well...it was very, very real!!!
Around 8:45pm we called our birth photographer to come over, and shortly after we called the midwife. She said she’d be right over to assess me.
After we called the midwife, it’s a total blur. Contractions were 1-2 minutes apart, transition was causing me to be very foggy and withdrawn, my body was shaking, everything was hot (except my feet were freezing) and I was still in denial. I kept thinking "if the midwife tells me I'm 3-4cm, I might jump out the window!" LOL.
Okay so, this next point I’ve been giggling about ever since the birth: Right before the midwife arrived, the contractions were DOOZIES and I was totally blissed out in Labourland. I blankly noticed there were some drops of something running down my leg and I ACTUALLY had the thought...am I sweating only from my vagina?! LOL clearly not thinking clearly or realizing that my bag of waters could be breaking.
Then shit got REAL. At 9:40 the midwife pulled in and Kyle said he was going to go let her in the house. I was like NO YOU’RE NOT SHE CAN COME IN HERSELF ARE YOU INSANE DON'T LEAVE ME. The idea of going through a gripping contraction without him was the scariest thing I could imagine at that point. The contractions were incredibly difficult WITH his help, so I was sure I couldn’t do it without him. He said I’ll be RIGHT BACK, and I was like YOU HAVE 60 SECONDS.
Welllll he took longer than 60 seconds, and my contraction was coming in hot like a freight train on steroids. I lost control. I started yelllllling his name to come back, but halfway through the contraction I realized I wasn’t just yelling “Kyle”...I was PUSHING “Kyle”...and when I realized I was pushing, I yelled louder, which made me push harder...and as soon as the midwife walked in the house, my water broke.
Lauren, my midwife, came running up the stairs and was totally calm saying “okay Corinne, no problem, I’m here now, you need to move over to the bed so you don’t have this baby on the floor...I’m going to run out to my car and get my equipment, no matter what you do on the next contraction DON’T PUSH!!”
Hardest thing I’ve ever done (maybe even moreso than pushing the baby out) was NOT PUSHING during the hardest, most intense contraction of my life. As soon as Lauren got back, she checked my cervix and told me I was 9cm but that my cervix was disappearing even as she was checking, and on my next contraction I could go ahead and push. She quickly texted her backup midwife to come ASAP (although she didn’t make it there in time.)
I decided to push in the side-lying position and on the next contraction when the urge came I gave in and pushed and IT. WAS. AMAZING. I don’t know how much I enjoyed it in the moment LOL, but in hindsight it was very satisfying.
So there I was, Kyle on the bed next to me coaching me through each push, my midwife on the other side of me ready to protect my perineum and deliver the baby.
I pushed once and felt him move down into the birth canal, I pushed for the second contraction and his head was born, the midwife helped ease his shoulder out, and on the third contraction I pushed out my baby! WHAT A GLORIOUS, BLISSFUL, EMOTIONAL MOMENT!!! I cried slash giggled uncontrollably, I couldn’t believe it was over!
So in the end, although the early labour was long and drawn out, the active labour was about 3hrs long. I pushed for like 7 minutes and ended up with a tiny first-degree tear along my episiotomy line from Harvey's birth. Overall, I was ECSTATIC and pretty sure things couldn't have gone smoother.
After delivering the baby and placenta, I laid in bed for an hour and snuggled and latched the babyon. We gushed about how much we loved him and how incredible that experience was. We high-fived each other on yet another labour full of incredible teamwork. Kyle cut the cord. We stared at our baby and obsessed about how sweet he was. Mom came up to meet her Mother’s Day baby, she had a glass of wine and Kyle had a beer, and we all just hung out talking about the perfection of the baby and the birth.
Later, I got up and had a hot shower while Kyle cuddled with the baby and the midwives stripped the sheets off my bed leaving the fresh clean ones underneath. That hot shower was sooo amazingly relaxing. I got into my big cozy housecoat (not a hospital gown), put on my own underwear (not the weird mesh ones!) with a pad (not a huge hospital pee sheet) got back into my own bed and did skin to skin with my baby until we all fell asleep.
In the morning, my mom brought the boys upstairs to meet their brand new baby brother. I was blown away by how excited they were to finally meet this little guy! The love and adoration grows for them every day, it’s amazing thing to watch.
It was also amazing to see that it was totally normal to Ro & Harv that I had their brother at home. Like in our bedroom. While they were sleeping. They never asked why I didn’t go to the hospital or see a doctor. They just climbed into bed with us after his birth, just like every morning before, to cuddle and start the day. It was the coziest, sweetest, new-fam-of-5 moment ever, and I might just bask in that memory forever.
We kept the boys home from school and daycare that day, my mom got us Tim Horton’s for breakfast and then we had a birthday party for Baby Vance with cake and gifts. I hope my boys remember that moment as they get older.
Words cannot describe how incredibly intimate and magical this birth experience was. How amazing to have our baby in our own home, in our own bed. Kyle and I still marvel at how intense but straightforward this birth was. I’m so proud of him for staying so calm & cool the whole time - if you know him, this is no surprise - he was like an old pro.
So now I’ve had the trifecta - C-section, VBAC and HBAC. Every one of my births left a permanent imprint on me (like every birth does) and I now have 3 birth-sized-tattoos on my soul. This 3rd birth is the cherry on top, the one that I will savour and cherish forever and ever, but the other two births were necessary to get me here.