The very civilized daytime birth of Ella Pearl on October 16, 2003.

I woke up at 1am for a usual bathroom break, sound familiar? As I was settling back into bed I wondered if I felt a contraction. By 3:30 I nudged Jer and informed him we'd be having a baby that day. I was dozing off in between mild contractions every 15 minutes or so. I'd had some show the evening before so I wasn't surprised. I was at 40 weeks +1.

We got up at 4am because I was restless and excited. We started getting birth supplies ready and I made sure I had a good snack. I had no intention of getting as low on energy as I had been with Ivy. I managed to lie down again by 5am although contractions were down to 5 minutes apart and were lasting 30-40 seconds. Between the heating pad and Jer rubbing my back at exactly the right times I think I was able to half doze. I couldn't believe how normal and relaxed I felt between contractions - I have no recollection of that with Ivy's labour. That was tense all the way through.

At about 7:30 we called the families to give them the heads up and asked my mother-in-law to pick up Ivy at 8:30. My parents were in town but I wanted them to hold off coming for a while since things seemed to be going so well the way we had it. We called the midwife around 8:30 to let her know it was really happening but that it was still relatively mellow (I'm comparing to Ivy's birth, not to a walk in the park). It is very significant to me that this was the same midwife who had helped me out with Ivy and had since become a wonderful friend. It blew my mind that I had the privilege of having one of my best friends catch my baby.

We updated her at 9:30 to say we were at 50 second contractions, still 5 minutes apart. I figured I still had a long, long way to go. She told us to call back when the contractions kicked up in intensity. Jer and I looked at each other and thought that was a very vague request. Within seconds it happened though and there was no doubt. I had the first completely involuntary gasp and the "oooh, I remember why I wasn't going to do this again" sensation. I had quickly gone to one min. contractions, 3 min. apart. I couldn't believe that I had done that kind of labour for so many hours last time.

The midwife and my parents both arrived shortly before 11am. I was hanging over a rocking footstool, moaning politely (is that possible?) and engrossed in my own little world. The midwife said she expected I'd have a baby by lunchtime and I thought it was a very cruel joke to tell me when I was bracing for hours and hours ahead. It took me a while to acknowledge that I was feeling the baby move down because I was terrified that I was barely dilated yet. This was the most distressing part of labour. Even though I was focussed, I stayed communicative and energetic - totally surreal compared to my previous experience. I recall being determined to enjoy this labour as much as possible and managed to crack small jokes at various intervals throughout. I consider that to be a major miracle and hope to repeat that if at all possible. It lightened things up so much and kept me from taking myself too seriously.

I remembered how good it felt to sit on the toilet during my previous labour so that's where I moved when I needed a change. I think anyone in the house who had needs had to use the nearby Tim Horton's facilities. Things got more intense almost immediately again and I started that grunting stage. The midwife poked her head in and said "Uh, are those grunt pushes or just noises?" and proceeded to call the second attendant to come over. That was exciting, even though I thought it was too early.

I checked my cervix around this point and was very disappointed to feel that lip there again and note that the head wasn't really low yet. I got up to go to the bed so the midwife could check as well. I consented to her breaking my water while I was there and ho-ly it came on fast then. I thought I'd spend the rest of labour in the shower. After what felt like less than a minute and one mighty roar later they came to haul me out to have my baby in the bedroom. I still don't know how I made it from one place to the other and was shocked at how easy I was getting off with this labour.

I could feel exactly where the baby was and was totally coordinated with pushing. It was fully involuntary this time and I had energy to spare. After pushing hard for a few contractions Ella crowned. It stung but not too badly. Then she got hung up on her shoulders, just like Ivy had. I recall being ticked that I had to work so hard after the head was out. It may have been the most effort I've ever put out in my life to get those shoulders to move. Such a little miraculous baby once she made it through! I had forgotten how little anything else matters at that moment. She was born at 12:12 pm, one day after her due date and weighed 9lbs, 10oz. I had a "skid mark" but didn't need any stitches at all which made recovery even faster.

Ella Pearl arrived at a decent hour after a very gracious birth. The negative feelings of frustration, exhaustion and anger I felt the first time were totally absent. I was euphoric and feeling great. I lounged in bed for an hour with Ella, had a shower and then went downstairs to have a bowl of soup with the midwife, who was just making notes on the labour. The experience was amazingly natural, calm and strong.


Jeremy said...

Can't believe that was over three years ago already. You've written it so evocatively that I'm remembering it like yesterday. That was a great birth, no question -- and she followed up with lots of sleeping in the next few weeks, eating well...a much mellower start than Ivy had.

Jean said...

what a beautiful picture of you and the baby - our first son was 9lb6oz- you're a trooper! I am in Winfield- will check back on your site- all the best to Dad, too.

Tannis said...

Thanks for the kind words Jean - 9lbs+ for a first baby must have been quite something too!

Teri said...

These are awesome stories! I don't have quite the recollection of mine, but thank goodness for the doulas stories! I can piece everything together when I read them. The girls will love having such a detailed birth story one day!

And I've said it before, but that pic of you and Ella after she was born, is AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

What an amazing privilege to share those moments. We were so proud of you and Ella was so beautiful. Your writing shows how in tune you were with what your body was doing - how do you do that when it is so intense?! mama

Tannis said...

Teri, did your doula's write up the stories? That is very cool. If I was in the hospital or didn't have a good midwife I'd definately have a doula. I can especially see how it would be great for first babies or women who need back rubs etc. during labour. I mostly wanted to be left alone.

Mom - yes, Ella's birth was wonderful and super special for me to have you guys there. How do I do it?! Same way you did it strong woman!