This Mama’s Birth Story

LONG POST ALERT.
EJ’s birth was an experience. Otherworldly, challenging, beautiful, and painful.

For the short version, this Q&A might summarize it for you. For the long version, read on.

Birth1. Did you have an epidural? No
2. Was Dad in the room? Yes
3. Were you induced? No
4. Did you find out the sex? Yes
5. Due Date? October 13
6. Did you deliver early or late? Late
7. Did you have morning sickness? Yes, constantly
8. What did you crave? All the sweets and all the berries
9. How many pounds did you gain? 27lbs.
10. What was the sex of the baby? Boy
11. Did you have complications? Minor
12. Where did you give birth? Southlake Hospital
13. How many hours were you in labour? 14 hours
14. How much did your baby weigh? 7lb 10oz
15. What did you name the baby? E.J.
16. How old is your baby today? 18 months 🙂

My husband, A, was my rock. Figuratively speaking, of course. He definitely wasn’t a lump on a log the night our boy was born! More to that in a bit, let’s go back to that night, during a fluke snowstorm in October.

I was five days overdue. Had been to the midwives’ that week twice for a stretch and sweep (OMG, ouch!), was done with being uncomfortably pregnant, and beyond ready to meet my babe. My water broke at 3:00 p.m. on a Friday and I thought, “I just peed my pants!” My mom and I were sitting at my dining room table and I got up to go to the washroom, desperately having to pee. While walking down the hall, I felt a little trickle and I actually thought I peed my pants. I went to the washroom, changed, then walking back to the dining room, it happened again and I realized, “HOLY SHIT, THIS IS IT!!! I THINK MY WATER BROKE.” Apparently this is rare – according to What to Expect, it only happens to about 10 per cent of women!

I called A, called the midwives, and then I waited. No contractions, nothing. Still, late that evening when we met the midwives at the hospital – nothing. They gave me some homeopathic remedies and sent me home to wait. I spent the night bouncing on an exercise ball, pacing my halls, and tossing and turning trying to sleep, wondering why the hell I wasn’t in labour yet!

At 7:00 the next morning I texted one of my midwives and she told me to try castor oil. Holy shit. WHY!? I choked it down in some OJ and then waited for hubs to wake up. Back to the hospital we went for another check with the midwives and an OB. Everything was fine, but because I was delivering in hospital, their policy stated that that a woman has to be induced within 24 hours of her water breaking, if spontaneous labour has not started. That was the last thing I wanted. Despite having no really birthing plan, I had really hoped to try and go for natural, unless there were complications.

We went back to the doctor’s at  9:30, they did another stretch and sweep. “Hello, dignity, where are you?” At this point, my dignity was long gone. Doc gave me the clear to disappear until 3:00 p.m. If I wasn’t having contractions by then, induction would be calling my name.

So, hubs and I did was any normal, close-to-labouring couple would do – we went to the mall so he could get his eyes checked and we could walk around. Well, I walked and then the castor oil kicked in. Don’t ask me to explain because I would never be able to look you in the eye. But still, no contractions. We went home around 11 and I took a short nap to rest up for what was ahead.

It was close to 12:30 and then I felt it. A little twinge of progressing, intermittent discomfort. The butterflies went nuts. I waited. I timed. When they were four minutes apart, I paged my midwives. But, they were both asleep, having attended two births the night before (so amazing!). Their back up called me and by 2:30 p.m. on the Saturday, I was laying in a hospital bed waiting.

I honestly don’t remember much of the first few hours, I paced the room a bit, watched a Blue Jays’ World Series game on the iPad for a bit, and then the pain started getting worse. I needed to move, so we walked the halls of the hospital. My mom, my husband and I, and for every contraction, I found a wall or a ledge to lean forward against and rock, breathe and power through it.

As the pain increased, I asked my mom to wait in the waiting area with my in-laws. I needed to be in the zone with A. And it was a beautiful dance. We rocked, standing in between contractions and as the waves came over me, I lowered my head to his chest, pushed my hips back and gripped his arms to steal all of his strength. I’m sure there were tears and gutteral tones, but he did not once falter.

Our midwives rubbed my back, offered suggestions for different positions. As things intensified, I laboured in the shower, then the birthing tub, I chewed on ice, I squatted on a birthing stool, I crawled on the bed. When things got too intense, I  asked for an epidural, but I wasn’t far enough along, and then I was at 8 cm and I figured, what the hell, keep going! I needing laughing gas though, oh man did I ever.

The pushing phase is a blur of pain, dreaminess, and strength that I didn’t know I had. I pushed for four and a half hours in total. A, who is a bit squeamish and swore he wouldn’t look, was holding my leg and right in there, checking on the baby’s head and cheering me on.

The first time the OB came to check, he had to turn EJ – he was sunny side up. So, we thought we were almost there – I was exhausted, but I knew I could do it. After another two hours, I was spent, I was giving up and they called the doc in to help deliver with some intervention. A small incision, a light vaccuum combined with a massive push, and baby EJ was born at 6:45 a.m. on the Sunday morning! It turns out, his umbilical cord was really long and wrapped around his shoulders holding him back. I remember trying to see him on the table, but was in so much pain and had to deliver the placenta (which I have no recollection of doing). They whisked him away to weigh him, etc. And the doc and midwife set to my stitches. HOLY EFFFFFFFF! After that much pushing and pain, that might have been one of the worst parts.

Don’t let this deter you though, if you’re thinking of having kids. My story is unique. And I definitely wouldn’t change it for the world.

Come on mamas! Let’s hear your stories!

Becoming “Mama”

My entire life has led me to this. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Among my friends, I was always “the mother hen,” always taking care of them, trying to stop them from doing anything too stupid, making sure everyone got home safely. You get the picture. At the risk of sounding ridiculous – maybe we could say it was my calling.

My husband and I got pregnant with ease, which we are eternally grateful for. Needless to say, we were ecstatic.

The day I found out I was pregnant, I had an appointment with my naturopathic doctor. She was incredibly supportive and offered sage advice, in addition to the suggestion that I get my progesterone levels tested. She explained that low levels of progesterone may lead to miscarriage and we already had concerns that I had some hormonal imbalances.

Without support from my GP at the time (who blatantly refused to add it to my bloodwork requisition), I paid $40 for a requisition through my ND, to get tested. Once we got the results, it was clear my levels were very low or non-existent. I was referred to a fertility specialist, who prescribed progesterone injections throughout my pregnancy. I had blood work done every two weeks to test my levels. The number of shots corresponded to my levels and ranged from one shot twice per week in each cheek (yes, in my butt cheek) to one shot once per week. My husband had to learn how to administer the shots and became a pro.

Other than the progesterone, constant nausea, mild sciatica, hip pain, and Pubis Symphysis Diastis (or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction), I had a good pregnancy. I gained about 27 pounds, although it felt like way more. And I tried to exercise regularly, until the third trimester.

It wasn’t too long into the pregnancy that I started to question everything and worry. My midwives were incredibly supportive, knowledgeable and encouraging. My mother was an angel. And, my husband was so sweet and understanding. Except for that one Valentine’s Day weekend…

I made sure to be grateful for something every day. Once we found out we were having a boy, we were set on EJ’s name. I spoke to him. I sang, “You are my sunshine” to my belly almost every day. And I played with his hands or feet once they started poking me visibly. And then, when my sleep was interrupted because of kicking or discomfort, and getting up, dressed and off to work became more of a chore than anything, I wished for him to arrive. Even before his due date hit, I was ready to become Mama.

Mama. Even saying it then, it felt so surreal. Even with my nine-months pregnant belly protruding so far I couldn’t see my feet, I didn’t believe it was coming to be. Despite the shots, the seemingly endless pregnancy, and the reality of it, it felt like a dream.

I was about to become someone’s Mama. I was about to bring life into this world. I was about to give up the life I knew and understand true purpose. I was about to become everything to a tiny human, who I would nurture and love unconditionally.

I was dead, then alive. Weeping, then laughing. The power of love came into me, and I became fierce like a lion, then tender like the evening star. (1)

And then it came to be – I was “Mama.” It’s as powerful and surreal to me now, as it was then.

Read my birth story here.

Welcome to The Guilty Mama

Welcome to The Guilty Mama

I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Coco.

I’m mom to a rambunctious boy, EJ, wife to a handsome goofball, A, and daughter to a saint of a mother and live-in cook/nanny, “Baba” (it’s Ukrainian for Grandma). That’s us, minus my mom, in Alberta in 2016.

I have been writing posts for this blog since I was pregnant with EJ, who is now 19 months old and I don’t know where the time disappeared to.

When I was on mat leave, despite living in a growing community (north of Toronto), I felt so isolated. I joined mommy groups and went to reading circles, but most of the new moms in my town had friends or colleagues close by or had already made connections with women in the groups. I was exceptionally shy, so only made friends with a handful, none of whom I managed to stay in touch with. Everyone else seemed to have it all together, while I was barely able to make it out of the house before 10 or 11 a.m. I know that’s pretty common for a lot of moms now, but holy hell, did I feel like a failure!

I manage to get some of my shit together when I was off, but I really enjoyed the lax days and seeing where the day took us! Some days were more productive than others, but in between diaper changes, breast feeding and play time, I usually managed to get a few words down here and there.

Long before baby, I went to journalism school, then got into corporate communications and public relations. I still work full-time in corporate communications.

When I went back to work just over six months ago, I missed writing for myself. A lot. I  felt work drain my creativity because I was trying to apply all of it to my professional work. I was holding in a lot of anger and resentment, which sometimes blew up in my hubby’s face (sorry babe!) and I needed an outlet to share the guilt, confusion, and frustration that I was feeling (and still do) for working full time, exercising a few days per week, and wanting time to shower in peace, because it means less time interacting with my little man.

This blog is a mish-mash of my feelings, experiences, and journey, as I navigate my way through mom-guilt, marriage, and finding the best version of myself.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride and share your stories with me in solidarity, for comic relief, or for support.

xo

Coco