The day before I gave birth, my husband and I were over at our friend’s house for a swim. Later that night I was at my desk and I started experiencing period-like cramping. It wasn’t too painful…just a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t think much of it as we had McDonalds for dinner that night so I assumed it just wasn’t sitting well. Around midnight I woke up feeling a bit more discomfort than earlier. I started to wonder if these were early labour contractions (they were!). To get through them I would lay on either my left or right side (I alternated), clenched my pregnancy pillow and breathed as well as lightly moaned through the discomfort. I saw every hour on the clock that night… the discomfort started to increase.
Around 2:30 am I hopped in the shower. I had texted my best friend and my mom to let them know what was going on but said to my mom not to rush as I read early labour could possibly last days.
Standing in the hot water really helped relieve some discomfort but I was so exhausted I just wanted to lay down and sleep. After the shower I headed downstairs to try and get comfortable on the couch. I put on a TV show and tried to relax by laying down. Unfortunately laying down only made the contractions feel stronger compared to when I was standing so I would lay down to try and rest and then when I felt the contraction start, I’d quickly stand up, hold my heat pad to my lower abdomen and pace through it.
At 4:45 am I was exhausted, in pain and SO much discomfort. I finally decided to go upstairs and wake Scott up. I told him how I was feeling and what I had been experiencing all night and asked If he thinks I should call my midwife. He groggily agreed I should make the call.
I called and my midwife Jennifer had answered. She asked me a bunch of questions. At this time, I was pacing back and forth in the kitchen while on the phone, just breathing as best as I could through the contractions. Jennifer had asked me how long and how often I was having the contractions but to be honest I had not been keeping track. It was challenging for me to time them because If I was laying down I would be able to feel the start and end of each one BUT I was so uncomfortable in that position so I would have to stand up/pace, put the heat pad over my lower abdomen just to get through them. But while standing it was hard for me to tell when one started and another one began. Jennifer said I seemed to have a while more of this to go and suggested I take another Tylenol/Gravol and try to soak in the bath and try my best to time contractions going forward. I got off the phone and did just that.
I had to lay down in the tub to feel a bit of relief and then the Gravol must have kicked in as I started to feel like I could fall asleep. I got out of the tub and went back in bed with Scott to try and get some rest. I told him if he could, I’d prefer he worked from home for the day in case things escalated…and they did!
Between 7-8 am I was starting to get more vocal to get through contractions and feeling some pressure. I called my midwife again. Janis asked me a bunch of questions and I updated her on my progress. Over the phone I even had a contraction or two and it got difficult to talk through them. She guided me through breathing over the phone.
At this point I was very uncomfortable during each contraction, Scott tried to lend support by rubbing my back but nothing was helping. I asked him to just go tend to our dogs and finish packing our hospital bags…that’s right, I was 39 weeks (and 4 days) and I had not completely finished packing the hospital bags! I just kept being told, being a first-time mom, I would most likely deliver late, not early lol!
Janis called back a bit later and asked for updates and told me to make our way to the clinic so they could assess me. She suggested I eat something but I had zero desire for food. I was staying hydrated though.
As I made my way downstairs (in lots of pain!) Scott was rushing around gathering all of our supplies; he quickly packed the car and I got in. Sitting in the car was so uncomfortable. It literally felt like I had to poop and that it was starting to come out! I had a few contractions throughout the drive. I tried my best to be a little quieter as to keep Scott calm and focused as he drove us to the birthing suite.
When we arrived and were parking I had a contraction and then another one when I was walking into the building. Janis ran out and helped escort me into the building. Once I entered the birth suite she asked If I needed to use the washroom. When I came out, Scott and Janis were setting up the bed with sheets and towels. Janis helped me lay down and she asked if she could take a look. I said yes and next thing you know she tells me I am FULLY DIALATED and it was time to start pushing! I was in shock! Janis told Scott to open the door to the hall and call for assistance.
At this point, during contractions I had my eyes shut pretty tightly. When I opened my eyes again, I saw 3 other women (a back-up midwife and 2 students) enter the room and assume their positions to prepare to help me birth my baby.
I originally starting pushing while reclined and laying on my back with my legs up but that got uncomfortable so I switched to laying on my left side while one of the midwives held up my leg so they could access the area to continuously check baby’s heart rate.
The midwives had told me that baby’s head was crowning and that she had lots of hair! I asked what colour it was and they told me it was sandy brown. My husband and I were wondering throughout the entire pregnancy if she would be born with red hair like me.
My legs were getting tired so I switched to my final birthing position which consisted of me being on all fours on my hands and knees. At one point my phone had gone off and it was an elephant text tone (my mom!). I heard the midwives giggle when they heard it and I had said “that’s my mom!”. I asked Scott If he had updated her and he said yes and that she was on her way (with my dad) but told me they most likely weren’t going to make it in time. Scott was by my side the whole time, encouraging me and telling me how great I was doing. I asked him later if he looked and he said no, he mostly looked at the wall LOL (he gets easily grossed out).
At 10:56 am, I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl!! Sophia Jean. I remember feeling this huge sense of relief in my vagina/perineum as well as hot liquid (amniotic fluid) splash up at my legs. Still attached via the umbilical cord, the midwives caught Sophia and passed her to me and I put her to my chest. I was still wearing my night gown and bra. The midwives helped me remove my clothes so I could do skin to skin with her. They also gave me a shot of oxytocin in my thigh. We waited 3 minutes and then the cord was clamped and Scott cut it. After, they said I could lay back down on my back and continue with skin to skin. Sophia was wide awake and just staring up at me. It was an amazing moment. I remember talking to her and feeling so much joy!
Next it was time to birth the placenta. I believe I ended up birthing it about 15-20 minutes after I gave birth to Sophia. Janis even took the time to show me the placenta and explain the anatomy of it. What an incredible organ! After birthing the placenta, my midwives explained I had 3 very minor tears that required stiches. They gave me a local anesthetic and began suturing. I was so focused on staring into Sophia’s eyes, it distracted me from the sensations.
My parents arrived at the birthing suite maybe 15-20 minutes after Sophia was born. I was a bit disappointed my mom couldn’t make it in time for the birth, but it also was very special for it just be me and my husband. About 2 hrs after giving birth, we were given the okay to bring our baby girl home!!! Before we left, Janis gave us a green leaf sticker and told us to write Sophia’s name on it and stick it on the wall where there was a giant tree mural – The Tree of Life! What a beautiful way to commemorate the birth of all the beautiful babies born in this birthing suite. I loved this idea and was so honored to have our daughter’s name up there as a reminder of this incredible day and experience.
I can’t thank my midwifery team enough! From day 1 of being under their care I felt very comfortable and confident that I was in good hands. I loved how they would take the time to explain things to me so that I always felt in control of my birth and informed enough to make thoughtful and practical decisions. I had many friends and family who expressed concerns with my giving birth under midwifery care as opposed to being in a hospital with doctors and I am so glad I didn’t listen to them! My midwives took the time to listen and build a rapport with me over the course of my pregnancy and answered any questions/concerns I had. I also loved the fact that they came to our home for the first few appointments for Sophia! We plan to have another baby in the near future and I cannot wait to give St. Jacobs Midwives a call when that pregnancy test reads positive!
THANK YOU Janis, Jennifer & Janessa!