For each of my children I’ve blogged their birth stories, the narratives that brought them into this world, both for my own memories’ sake and because people have asked about it. Theo’s story began around 3:15am on October 27th. I remember waking up from a contraction and going right back to sleep since it was not the first time that had happened in the previous week and a half. I woke up again to another one which got my hopes up, and then I had a third before I had the chance to fall back asleep again. I grabbed my phone and opened the contraction timer app because I was determined to not miss it this time like I did with Levi. Sure enough, a few contractions later, a message popped up on my phone. I pried open my eyes to read stuff like, “Double check your hospital bag,” and “take a hot shower,” and was thinking, “Sweet, I choose neither of those options and am going back to sleep because I’m super tired and apparently we still have time,” but as my eyes scanned the rest of the app’s message it said, “Unless this is not your first baby, then head to the hospital immediately and call your care provider.” Just like with Levi it was 3am and just like with Levi I had zero desire to wake anyone up for something that was not imminent, especially since we had had a few false starts to labour already. So, I got up to do the one test that had proven all the other times false. I moved around and tidied up to see if a change in position and activity would have the contractions fade away into nothing like all the times before. I tidied up the bedroom (in case it was the real deal), and brushed my teeth and found clothes I wouldn’t mind getting blood on. I also put on a bit of mascara because I believe strongly in having something to run down your face in a sweaty, teary mess in the last stages of labour. It really adds drama to the whole ordeal that is not dramatic enough. And also, THIS TIME that wouldn’t happen because I would be a silent, elegant, labour goddess… hahahaha haha ha ha ha… sorry neighbours….
Through all of this, the contractions continued exactly 4 minutes apart, and my app had told me to go to the hospital at least two more times. After about an hour, I finally relented and picked up the phone to page my midwife stating that I was so sorry to wake her in the dead of night when I probably didn’t need her yet, but she had made me promise to actually give her warning this time since apparently flying in the door 40 minutes before someone pops a baby out is stressful and they didn’t want a Levi repeat. I told her how far apart my contractions were and she is pretty smart because she specifically asked me if there were stronger ones and weaker ones which did prompt me to confess that my contractions actually were 2 minutes apart (not 4) the entire time but I wasn’t counting the weaker ones since they alternated between weak and strong each time. She said to call her back as soon as I had two in a row that were strong. So about 35 minutes later once that had happened multiple times (I had to be SURE, people), I called her back and she was on her way despite my protests that we still had time. (I will state that we DID have time but I am a notoriously unreliable source of information when it comes to this stuff. I’m always fine until I’m not). At this point my husband kept popping into the room from where he was sleeping in the nursery next door because his super pregnant wife doesn’t do bed sharing. I was trying to be quiet so he could sleep until the midwives got here, but he heard me call them both times and both times I sent him back to bed because there’s really nothing to do in the first stage of labour. It’s actually kinda boring in my opinion.
Unlike with Levi, my contractions were a lot stronger right from the get-go and I couldn’t enjoy Netflix and deny I was in labour for hours. By the time the midwives arrived, I had been in labour with “4” minute apart (read: 2 min) contractions for about two hours. My body ached too much to sit, and kneeling made the contractions way more unbearable, so I paced around the room until my legs got tired. I pretty much kicked everyone out. Well, I officially only told Nick to go to bed or go work or something because it was weirding me out having him just stand there and stare at me and there wasn’t anything I wanted help with, but my midwives also picked up on the fact that I wasn’t a fan of an audience and joined Nick out in the living room while I paced the bedroom floor. My main midwife popped in to keep checking on baby and suggested laying down, which was ultimately way more comfortable. She also offered to draw me a bath which was amazing since my bones ached about as much as the contractions did. It felt amazing to finally only feel the pain of the contractions themselves vs. that plus the effect they were having on all my joints and muscles as well. She continued to pop in occasionally to check on baby, but mostly everyone chilled in the other room which was perfect. (I may know where Levi gets his “do it myself!” temperament, haha. If I could have delivered the baby solo, I probably would have happily done so.)
As with my previous labour, the last 90 minutes or so is when it really ramped up and got unbearable. I had been in labour for just over 3.5 hours now, and the breaks between contractions were shrinking and the pain was intensifying. I also knew I only had about an hour until the boys woke up as well, though Nick was going to take care of them so I wasn’t too concerned. I knew we must be getting close because both midwives came and stayed in the bathroom with me from that point on, rotating out cold compresses (hot sweaty mess every time – I will never be a labour goddess, sadly), and coaching me through breathing and positions and anything to help because I could feel the baby ready to come out but he was staying inside and I was pretty much beyond done at that point. My bladder was completely full and I couldn’t empty it while in labour so that pain was adding considerably to the contractions and the fact that I could feel everything ready to go but nothing was working added a bit of panic to the mix. I suspect I have a lot of trauma still from Micah’s birth and I’m pretty sure that point in the labour was re-triggering all of that because I almost had 2-3 panic attacks where I remember thinking, “I can’t breathe, but Laura, you ARE breathing.” My midwife was amazing through it all though and asked if I wanted her to check the progress, which I did. Turns out Theo WAS right there ready to come out but my last bit of cervix hadn’t dilated out of the way yet so he was hitting up against it causing extra pain. She kept saying things like, “Three more contractions and then it will be open, which I called BS on because I knew no one could know that, though bless her for trying. I was polite though. I think I used the term, “yeah, right,” vs. something more aggressive, lol. During this point the boys were up and I could hear Levi pacing the hallway outside repeating his favourite phrase, “Oh no… oh no… oh no…”. It was the one thing that brought a smile to my face in the midst of how intense everything was. Nick then took them downstairs so I didn’t hear Micah’s reaction, but he told me later he would cover his ears and say, “No mo baby out. Baby out all done.” (We had watched a lot of birth videos in advance so he knew what was happening, but mom is a lot louder than the videos, apparently).
And now here comes the graphic part so if you are squeamish, skip this paragraph. My midwife helped by reaching inside and pulling the cervix out of the way while I attempted to push Theo past it and her hand and holy crap, people, that was a new level of pain. We did that twice and he finally got his head out, but was STILL stuck. I wasn’t aware that anything was really wrong at this point until the other midwife checked the baby’s heart rate and said, “80. Better”. At which point I was thinking, “If 80 is ‘better’ how low did it dip!?”. Turns out his shoulder was stuck, just like with Micah, and she had to go in and pry it loose. Again, I didn’t know any of this until after because they’re much better than the hospital for keeping things calm and keeping moms calm. All I knew was it hurt way worse than Levi, he wasn’t coming out, and I didn’t know what to do. But she coached me through telling me when to push and when to hold back while she worked him free, and then finally he was out! And HUGE! And purple and a little bit wheezy, but he pinked right up as he laid on my stomach in the tub and cried for a bit until he cleared his lungs. All 10lbs, 5 ounces, and 22 inches of him! With a 37.5 cm head circumference, as well, which was a whole cm larger than Levi. He was born at 8:37am which was approximately 5 hours and 20 mins after I originally woke up (so a 20 minute longer labour than Levi, but doesn’t touch the 69-hour induced labour of Micah).
But all in all, he’s been pretty much the perfect baby other than terribly gassy at night which isn’t really his fault. He’s a great sleeper (other than that), a good eater, and can handle the chaos of a crazy household with three kids 2-years-old and under. In fact, he seems to thrive from the noise, sleeping more soundly the more there is! Micah loves to say, “Hi, baby! Baby out!” and Levi pretty much ignores him. I can’t wait to see who he grows up to be (and I totally also can, because he’s my last baby and needs to stay little forever).