Our Birth Story

On the eve of my due date, the contractions officially started. Thankfully they subsided right as I was wanting to sleep, and I fully expected them to start up again early the next morning like the last time. Nope. But they came in full force that night as I settled in to sleep. Great. All through the night, waking me every 10-15 minutes, well into the next evening. Consistent, but not close enough together to be the real deal.

I got an entire 12 hours of reprieve before things started up again—long enough for a date night out sans-toddler with my husband.

The next day we happened to have an appointment with the midwife so she was able to check on things and confirm my suspicions—started, but not active labour yet and sent us home. Remember what happened last pregnancy when we were sent home? Ha ha, the universe laughs. Full-blown minute-long contractions every 4 or 5 minutes all the way home (a 45-minute drive) so we took advantage of the bathroom break at home and gathered any last-minute items and headed to the birth centre.

Once there, I was confirmed to have been at ‘only 2cm’ but since we lived almost an hour away that we could continue to labour in the assessment room (it had an actual bed so we could rest in between). The contractions continued for hours, and all through the night, but started to space out in the wee hours of the morning. No change in dilation so we were sent home. In hindsight, I am very glad she did because literally for the next 48 hours I had contractions inconveniently spaced apart, and I was very glad to be able to relax in between while at home.

Fast forward to two days later, on day 5 of contractions now, they started up much stronger and frequent that morning so we decided to go to the mall and walk it out while getting errands done (and I could enjoy my smoothie!). Long story short, we didn’t make it to the mall—on the drive over, 10 minutes intervals dropped to below 5 and the pain was at an all-time high.

Plot twist. Turns out that my midwife wasn’t available as she had just gotten home from another overnight birth, her backup was waiting on a scheduled covid test, so we were to be greeted at the birth by two stranger midwives. My anxiety processed that terribly as you can imagine—after all I am the crazy one with a LAMINATED birth plan…

Thankfully the midwife who welcomed us at the door was a complete sweetheart and she treated me like gold—which certainly calmed the nerves and allowed me to focus on the actual birthing portion rather than my fears. She confirmed I had progressed to 5cm and could officially be admitted.

Many of you know of my allergy to cold and water (topically), so it may come as a surprise to know that when asked if I was open to the room with the “broken tub” I was actually in the middle of discussing with my husband that I wanted to take advantageous the anti-gravity effect of the tub before active labour started—to give my joints a break. It ended up meaning we were put into the same room that we had birthed my daughter into almost three years ago.

As I was mentally preparing for all the changes from my plan, and getting ready to step into the birthing tub, my actual midwife showed up. I was relieved beyond words and my body knew it—the breaks between contractions pretty much stopped. It was go time! Thankfully I got a good stretch of contraction-free break before the true bum-pressure started, but there was no way I was making out of the tub so we went with the flow, quite literally, and my body took over.

You may have noticed that in all this adventure, my water hadn’t broke yet. And it didn’t until after I had pushed baby’s shoulders out—that was really cool to see after the fact (sent hubby for the phone on that contractions break, and so grateful the second midwife took the photos while hubby took care of me!). The next while is a bit of a blur, where all I can remember is the sheer pain of pushing the head and then shoulders out, all while trying not to get my arms wet (water allergy is the worst chest-up), and then upon feeling relief from pressure hearing everyone telling me to grab the baby. I got to pull it out of the water and place it against my chest, and the however many minutes they let me just sit there clutching my baby in the warmth of the soothing water was magical. I never had that feeling with my daughter (my defense mechanism was to stay emotionally detached throughout the pregnancy) and I am so grateful I got to experience it this time around.

full disclosure: this image has been retouched to improve the water colour and remove the poop pieces for a more flattering photo, but it is important that blood and feces in the birthing tub is COMPLETELY NORMAL

Once daddy cut the umbilical cord, I was able to share with him that he had a beautiful son to go enjoy skin-to-skin with while I somehow got out of the tub. As with our first, we are not sharing their personal details online (name, dob, etc.), but we have had the name picked out for years so I was able to say “meet your son, _____” and the glee in my husbands eyes was so worth the wait of not knowing the sex beforehand.

Birthing the placenta was uncomfortable in comparison, but much easier since I had something to hold onto. And it was much smaller. I knew my baby was going to be bigger than my first based on how I felt throughout the pregnancy and the ultrasound estimates, but when we saw the scales tip over the 9 pound mark, my pain was even more validated and I felt like quite the champion. When my midwife confirmed that I did not tear this time, despite that huge baby (remember that I am a petite 5’2” woman), I was even more grateful of my experience.

So in true Stephanie fashion, baby was out just over an hour from our arrival, and we were on our way home after a lovely home-cooked meal. And I wouldn’t change a thing! It’s one of my favourite parts of the birth centre experience.

What I wish I knew before going into this birth: that apparently second and onwards babies you continue to have contractions for DAYS later as your uterus returns to its normal size. FOR DAYS! Thank goodness ibuprofen was on the table again because I absolutely needed it (even a week later for the muscle pains) and the ban while pregnant was excruciatingly frustrating during migraine season.

And thankfully I remembered from the last time NOT to eat the plate of cheese they offer you and give it to hubby because the first poop post-birth depends on it—fruit and smoothies all the way! Trust me on that one.

Stay tuned for photos of little miss meeting her little brother!

stephanie de montigny SdeM handrawn initials ottawa blogger