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Mom of the House: My birth story, part 1

In this week's Mom of the House, Brianna talks about how profoundly things can go awry in childbirth
Mom of the House

“Daniel? Are you awake? I’m scared.”

I reached across the bed and squeezed my husband’s hand. My lips were trembling and tears were splashing down my cheeks.

Daniel rolled over in bed and wrapped his arms around me and said a prayer of peace and strength for both me and our unborn baby. I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, getting out of bed more times than I could count. I could feel my heart thumping in my chest most of the night, as I imagined all the things that could go wrong.

I woke up the next morning bright and early, feeling less than refreshed, but knowing that the day had come. I was excited, and nervous. I had a cool shower, feeling the stream of water running down my chest and onto my round belly. I cradled my belly in my hands and felt a kick.

“See you soon, baby,” I whispered to my belly.

It was May 2, and I was scheduled to be induced at 8 a.m. at Guelph General Hospital. It was five days before my estimated due date, but because I had been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes the doctors felt inducing me early was the best plan.

We pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and I nervously walked through the doors of Triage. I felt big, sore, and bleary-eyed from such a terrible sleep. The first thing I noticed when I walked through the doors was people, lots of people. I felt my heart sink.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that there were a lot of women giving birth today, and my induction would not be happening bright and early like I had anticipated. Within a couple of hours I was walking out of the hospital, a big swollen belly and a heavy and anxious heart.

“We’ll call you when we are ready. It could be  in a few hours, or at midnight, or maybe even tomorrow morning,” said the triage nurse.

It seemed so trivial, waiting a day to meet my baby, but I was exhausted and weary. I didn’t expect this bump in the road.

I tried to nap, constantly checking my phone for calls, but none came. By 6 p.m. I sent my husband out with our oldest daughter Penny. It was her soccer registration and she didn’t want to miss it.

Fifteen minutes after Daniel pulled out of the driveway my phone rang. It was the triage nurse at the hospital. Daniel rushed home and we drove to Guelph General for the second time in one day, this time confident that we’d be leaving with our daughter in our arms.

I felt a surge of energy, despite barely sleeping the night before and anxiously waiting all day. My husband and I laughed and joked while waiting for the induction to start, we placed bets on how big our baby would be, and what time she’d arrive. I felt confident she’d still be born on May 2, but as the hours ticked by and I continued to wait in bed for an induction I began to grow more and more anxious.

By around 9 p.m. the moment had finally arrived. An IV was started with antibiotics because I was GBS Positive, and about 45 minutes later the induction began with a pitocin drip.

By about 11 p.m. my contractions were coming strong and close together. I wanted to try my best to labour naturally, so I bounced on a birthing ball, Daniel’s arms wrapped around me. I felt strong and capable, and oddly energized. The nurse continued to increase the intensity of the pitocin drip, and with it my contractions intensified also.

I laboured all through the night. Outside my window was darkness and bright stars, the lighting in the room was soft, and I felt at peace in the quiet and silence of the midnight hours.

I was supported by the energy of the people in the room. There were five people with me through the night: my husband Daniel, my doula Brittany, my midwife and student midwife, and a wonderful nurse. I felt empowered and encouraged by the strong women who stayed with me for the hours of labour. I didn’t panic, I felt very little anxiety. The room was enveloped in peace, calm and strength.

By about 5 a.m. I asked for my midwife to check my dilation. I felt like I was managing pain well, but as the sun rose I really started to feel my fatigue and lose my strength.

“You still have quite a ways to go, Brianna. You’re 4 cm,” said the midwife.

The room fell still and silent. This time the stillness wasn’t comforting, and as the sun began to peek through the windows I began to feel panic and desperation. Time was slipping through my fingers and my labour was dragging on. I felt like I’d worked so hard with nothing to show for it, and I didn’t know how I could continue on, but knew I had to.

I took a deep breath, and calmly asked for an epidural. I wasn’t willing to be a martyr for the cause of natural childbirth. I knew my body and I knew I needed rest and a break.

I was proud of myself, despite tears clouding my vision as I pushed away thoughts of failure.

My doula whispered kind words, my husband squeezed my hand, my midwives and nurses encouraged me by saying I’d made a good call.

Within thirty minutes I was getting the epidural. I’d had two before with Penny and Georgia, so I knew exactly what to expect. It was over quickly, and suddenly I was in familiar territory, lying on my side as relief washed over me and my body began relaxing.

Everybody seemed to take a step back. We were all exhausted. People came and went, getting their Tim Hortons breakfast, while I snuck nibbles of crackers and juice. Daniel went for a short walk to stretch his legs, and I closed my eyes and rested. When I opened my eyes Daniel let me know that my Mom had texted him asking how I was. Our family was all waking up to surprise that our daughter was taking her sweet time.

I closed my eyes again, but something different was happening. The room felt far away, I tried calling for help but no sounds came out. I closed my eyes and felt myself falling. I fought hard to open my eyes, and to stay awake. Daniel looked over at me and ran to my side, I could hear his voice, concerned and anxious.

“Brianna? What’s wrong? Open your eyes! Brianna!” He shouted. I tried to answer. I tried to stay with him.

Suddenly there was a flurry of activity and questions, so many questions. I just wanted to sleep. I heard words but couldn’t distinguish sounds.

“Blood pressure...losing consciousness...too weak...Daniel...epidural...diastolic...27.”

I felt ice cold water splash on my face, and my eyes opened.

Within a few minutes I regained consciousness. I was still weak, but I heard the nurse talking and knew that my blood pressure had dropped to 45/27, a shockingly low number.

It all felt like too much, and I sobbed while holding my husband’s hand.

Nothing was going the way I had imagined. I felt scared and unsure of what was going to happen next, but felt strength knowing that despite my health scare the baby was doing well.

“When is this baby going to get here? I can’t do this anymore,” I groaned to my husband.

“You’re doing amazing. Just keep doing what you’re doing,” he encouraged rubbing my back.

And then I felt it again. I was falling, and I couldn’t call out for help.

To be continued...