Labour of Love
On August 16th, we were experiencing extreme heat in Hamilton, Ontario and I was 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Aside from humidity that would engulf you as soon as you opened the door, my feet and ankles resembled tree trunks, and I had nested so much that I couldn’t fit anything else in our freezer. In an effort to stay busy while I anxiously waited for something (anything!) to happen, I recruited my youngest sister to stay up at my place for a week. We decided to go out for lunch and catch a movie afterwards. I was getting ready to leave when I thought I felt my water break. It wasn’t the movie scene gush, but something had happened. I chalked it up to me being pregnant and hyper-sensitive. I wanted to have the baby so badly that I had had countless dreams of going into labour. I didn’t have any other labour symptoms so we continued on with our lunch date. By the end of our meal I had the same “I-think-my-water-broke-feeling” except at this point it had happened numerous times. Again, it was never a gush, but it was enough for me to notice a change. We decided to shelf the movie date so I could go to the hospital and get checked out. Anthony left work at 2:00 PM and off we went to McMaster Children’s Hospital.
We were taken into the Labour and Delivery unit and set up in the triage area where I was examined. After all was said and done at 3:30 PM, they determined I was only 2 cm dilated and sent us home. We drove home feeling a bit deflated and tried to rest – that’s when the contractions started. I had been feeling these period-style cramps for that last several weeks but could usually fall asleep and they would subside. This time was different and they continued to increase in intensity. I tried a hot shower to alleviate the pressure on my lower back as well as a warm bath. Anthony (god bless him for being THE most patient human on the planet) suggested we time the contractions. He waited for me to signal the start and finish of a contraction (which proved to be more difficult than how it was described in the birthing class). I had no idea when my contractions started and ended, my stomach had been hard for the last few weeks and there was an immense amount of pressure on my pelvic floor. After an hour of jumping in and out of the shower and bath tub and making some indescribable sound, Anthony suggested going back to the hospital. Being the stubborn Aries that I am, I didn’t want to go back to the hospital only to be sent home again, so I opted to call the L&D unit at McMaster to see what I should do. The nurse on the phone was wonderful – calm, cool and collected. She asked a series of questions and by the end of our call she informed me that my contractions were 5 minutes apart and that if I felt I couldn’t handle the pain I could go back in for another examination.
We left our house for the second time at 5:15 PM. I waddled my way back into L&D to get examined and the doctor smiled as she said, “you’re 10 cm – it’s time.” From that point onward everything moved quickly. We were rolled into a delivery room and I was monitored and coached by the sweetest nurse, Amelia. She asked my plan for pain management and I opted not to have an epidural.
I always wanted to have a natural birth, the stories about labour pains didn’t scare me. I was more deterred by having an epidural and not being able to feel the lower half of my body. Throughout my second and third trimester I explained to family and friends that I wanted a natural birth. This was often, but not always, met with raised eyebrows followed by a laundry list of why I should, and will, get an epidural. I heard it all and vowed to mentally prepare myself for what labour could be like. I understood and accepted that everyone’s labour experience is different, however the reactions crystallized my decision on having a natural birth. I like to know all my options; over the years I have learned that education and awareness is important because it helps me manage my fears, anxiety and insecurities. I wanted to know all the possibilities that could come with a natural birth and wanted to go into my labour with an open mind. I watched birthing videos and talked to friends who had given birth naturally, with an epidural, and via caesarean. I was never against having an epidural if I felt I needed one. Fear and “what if…” scenarios ran through my mind from the moment I saw the double line on the pregnancy test, so I did everything I could to prepare mentally and emotionally for the greatest unknown.
Once I was taken into L&D, I felt an avalanche of emotions – excitement, fear, anxiety. I took it one push at a time and was blessed with the most incredible support team. Surrounded by Anthony and Amelia words of encouragement, updates on if they could see the baby, and instructions on how to breathe and push through the contractions were gently communicated. By 7:30 PM we welcomed our little bundle of joy, the newest member of our family, and the first boy on the Bayaborda side: Isaiah Manuel. That day my heart grew in size and my purpose became more meaningful. It’s hard to put into words how fulfilled I felt once I met Isaiah. I now completely understand why our parents love us so much. To any soon-to-be or new mama, the hormones are REAL! From the moment I saw Isaiah to the present day, I can still muster up a waterfall of tears upon looking at him. I am so overcome with love for our son; disbelief that he is finally here; and gratitude for all that my body has done and continues to do to. Delivering our sweet baby boy was the beginning of many moments and milestones and I can say with certainty, that it was the best day of my life.